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Posted On Friday, 10.07.2011 / 1:07 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 NHL Face-Off Blog

Expected lineups for Senators, Red Wings

The Ottawa Senators and Detroit Red Wings will open their seasons today at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. Based on this morning's practices, here are the expected forward lines and defense pairings for each team:

RED WINGS
Valtteri Filppula-Henrik Zetterberg-Johan Franzen
Jiri Hudler-Pavel Datsyuk-Danny Cleary
Justin Abdelkader-Darren Helm-Todd Bertuzzi
Drew Miller-Cory Emmerton-Tomas Holmstrom

Nicklas Lidstrom-Ian White
Niklas Kronwall-Brad Stuart
Jonathan Ericsson-Jakub Kindl

Jimmy Howard will start in goal, with Ty Conkin the backup.

SENATORS
Colin  Greening-Mika Zibanejad-Daniel Alfredsson
Milan Michalek-Jason Spezza-Nikita Filatov
Nick Foligno-Stephane Da Costa-Chris Neil
Erik Condra-Zack Smith- Billy Butler

Chris Phillips-Brian Lee
Filip Kuba-Erik Karlsson
Jared Cowen-Sergei Gonchar

Craig Anderson will start in goal, with Alex Auld backing him up.
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Posted On Thursday, 10.06.2011 / 7:27 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - 2011 NHL Face-Off Blog

Canadiens and Leafs kick off another season

TORONTO - The sounds of bagpipes filling the Air Canada Centre on Thursday night was a sure sign another National Hockey League season was getting under way.

The 48th Highlanders kicked off the pregame ceremonies prior to the Toronto Maple Leafs hosting the rival Montreal Canadiens -- just as they have at every Leafs opener since 1931.

With the Canadiens and Leafs meeting for the 709th time since 1917, the sense of tradition was that much more poignant. But the focus was shifted toward the present as the members of this 95th edition of the Maple Leafs franchise were introduced to the sellout crowd.

Unfortunately for that crowd, it had to salute one of the team's biggest offseason acquisitions wearing a suit instead of a uniform as Tim Connolly was unable to play due to an upper-body injury suffered in training camp.

After the players were introduced, culminating in a big ovation for team captain Dion Phaneuf, the Canadiens were invited out onto the ice and were roundly booed by the fans -- the visitors took a minute or two to actually emerge, further drawing the ire of the fans.

However, the crowd -- featuring a healthy sprinkling of Canadiens jerseys -- united to sing the national anthem with no accompaniment as a giant Canadian flag was unfurled and passed from fan to fan behind the player benches.

Hockey Night in Canada indeed.

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Posted On Thursday, 10.06.2011 / 6:48 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 NHL Face-Off Blog

Winnipeg fans ready to rock

WINNIPEG -- Crowds have flocked to The Forks, Winnipeg's downtown gathering spot along the banks of the Red River.

The 2011 Molson Canadian NHL Face-Off is the draw for the crowd, estimated to be anywhere between 30,000 and 50,000 fans, ready to mark the start of the 2011-12 NHL season -- and the return to the NHL to Winnipeg after a 15-year absence. The Jets play their first game against Montreal on Sunday.

Windy but sunny and unseasonably warm weather is providing a further lure to Winnipeggers ready to mark the city's return to the NHL via the Winnipeg Jets. The NHL Network, Canadian Tire, EA Sports, Molson Canadian, Reebok, Scotiabank, Visa and XM all have booths on site.

Also providing entertainment is local band Inward Eye. Later in the evening, platinum-selling rock band Three Days Grace will play before Bachman & Turner cap the evening.

Fans will also have a chance to meet Jets captain Andrew Ladd and teammates Zach Bogosian, Tanner Glass and Mark Stuart, along with CBC host George Stroumboulopoulos. Tonight's Montreal Canadiens-Toronto Maple Leafs game is set to air on giant video boards.
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Posted On Thursday, 10.06.2011 / 4:38 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 NHL Face-Off Blog

Noel to do some scouting tonight

WINNIPEG -- Avoiding the opening night of NHL competition might be difficult in Winnipeg on Thursday evening.

The Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs will be play before a national audience on CBC's "Hockey Night In Canada." The Canadiens will visit the Jets on Sunday in Winnipeg's first NHL regular-season game since 1996.

Fans in Winnipeg will be able to watch the game on big screens at The Forks as part of the 2011 Molson Canadian NHL Face-Off on Thursday.

Jets coach Claude Noel was asked whether he would sit down with a bag of popcorn and take in the Canadiens-Maple Leafs game. Noel did not coach in the League last season, so the telecast will provide him with an early scouting report on his club's first opponent.

"I don't know about popcorn," Noel said, "but I'll watch the game tonight. Montreal, we play them, so we'll get a glimpse of what we'll be up against and go from there."

Replies from a number of Jets players varied as to whether, and how much, of Thursday's Montreal-Toronto contest they will sample.

Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec plans to take in the game at home. A quiet night at home might be the last calm that Pavelec is able to experience until Monday morning.

"(I'm) really excited," Pavelec said of Sunday's game. "It's going to be huge. It's going to be a really exciting night for us."

Still, Noel, Pavelec and the rest of the Jets all agreed that Sunday can't arrive quick enough.

"I can't wait for the season to start," Noel said.
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Posted On Thursday, 10.06.2011 / 4:33 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 NHL Face-Off Blog

Jets add MacLean to roster

WINNIPEG -- Hockey figures from all across the League are converging upon Winnipeg this weekend, and the Winnipeg Jets will have an addition to the roster, as well.

The Jets claimed left wing Brett MacLean on waivers Thursday morning from the Phoenix Coyotes. The Jets anticipate that the 22-year-old MacLean will arrive in Winnipeg on Thursday evening.

MacLean, who also can play right wing, was a 2007 second-round selection by the Coyotes. He scored 23 goals in 51 games with the AHL San Antonio Rampage, while also scoring 2 goals in 13 NHL games with the Coyotes.

"He is someone that our scouts have identified as maybe a guy who can break into the NHL on a full-time basis," Winnipeg General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff told media. "In this case, an opportunity to see what MacLean brings to our organization. Maybe he gives a little more depth in the organization."

To clear room on the Winnipeg roster, the Jets sent right wing Patrice Cormier to their American Hockey League affiliate, the St. John's IceCaps.

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Posted On Thursday, 10.06.2011 / 4:29 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 NHL Face-Off Blog

Cheveldayoff understands team's importance for city

WINNIPEG -- Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff’s opportunities to reflect have been limited this summer.

Hired by the Jets on June 8, the former Chicago Blackhawks assistant general manager has spent his summer orchestrating the mammoth task of relocating an NHL club, reshaping its roster, hiring a new coaching staff and, of course, handling the many off-ice chores that come with moving from Chicago.

But Cheveldayoff took a moment Thursday to soak in the all-hockey environment that is Winnipeg this weekend, including its being the centerpiece of the 2011 Molson Canadian NHL Face-Off.

"All of the players here are enjoying the opportunity for change," Cheveldayoff said of his club's start in a new home. "They're embracing the enthusiasm in the building and the community. I think that like anyone, they're just excited to get started. It's a long journey, and this will be the first step for all of them."

Taking a long-term view while handling his club's day-to-day affairs does not afford Cheveldayoff the luxury of attaching additional significance to his club's season-opener Sunday against the Canadiens (4 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, CBC, RDS).

"I don't look at this game differently than I'm going to look at any game coming up," Cheveldayoff said. "As a manager, you look at the short-term ... but you also have to look at the long-term situation and see what plays itself out."

Still, even the all-business Cheveldayoff could not help but absorb the excitement in the city surrounding the Jets.

"(I am) very excited," he said. "Excited for the community, the Chipman family, for guys like (assistant GM) Craig Heisinger, who stuck in there for so long. For the city of Winnipeg, it's going to be a very special day."
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Posted On Thursday, 10.06.2011 / 4:24 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 NHL Face-Off Blog

Jets staying patient through long break

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets will be the final NHL club to make its 2011-12 debut.

The Jets are in the midst of a nine-day break that will end Sunday when they host the Montreal Canadiens (4 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, CBC, RDS) in the city’s first regular-season NHL game  in more than 15 years.

Coach Claude Noel’s club has not been in game competition since last Friday, when they lost a shootout to the visiting Nashville Predators. The club missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs last spring, so other than international competition and playoff time logged with other clubs, most of the Jets have not seen regular-season competition in nearly six months.

Left wing Tanner Glass is an exception among the group. Glass spent last season with the Vancouver Canucks and was in the lineup for the Stanley Cup Final Game 7 loss to the Boston Bruins.

Playing that late meant a shortened offseason but Glass, whose busy summer included signing with the Jets on July 1 and getting married, is ready to go.

"For me personally, I'd like to get it going," Glass said. "Even though it has been a short summer for me, the season is here. Right now, it feels like we should get going."

Whether the extended break is a benefit is a matter of debate. The delay does allow additional time to hammer out systems and team play for a young club adjusting to a new city and a new coach. The Canadiens already will have played a game by Sunday.

"It all depends on how you handle it, right?" defenseman Mark Stuart said of the time off. "If we don't put our work in practice, then they might have an advantage. If we do, then I think it's pretty even. We have a chance to get some good practice time. As long we do the right things, we'll be ready to go."

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Posted On Thursday, 10.06.2011 / 4:19 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 NHL Face-Off Blog

Jets practice fan salute

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets wrapped practice Thursday with a light moment.

The team gathered at center ice to "practice" their fan salute. Like other NHL teams, the Jets have adopted the European tradition of paying tribute to their fans at the end of games.

Afterward, captain Andrew Ladd explained the salute was for use in the 2011 Molson Canadian NHL Face-Off later in the day.

"It's something that we did the first few games," Ladd said. "It's nice to give the crowd credit for being so supportive of us."
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Posted On Thursday, 10.06.2011 / 2:41 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 NHL Face-Off Blog

Clark made a strong impression

BOSTON -- Although veteran forward Chris Clark didn't make the opening-night roster, he left an impression on Bruins coach Claude Julien.

Clark was in Bruins camp under a tryout agreement, which he was released from Wednesday afternoon.

"A tough decision was made and not so much for the present, but maybe for the future, what we feel we have as depth, what we feel we can maybe do at some point, and it was a real tough call," Julien said of cutting Clark. "Anybody who can ask me the question right now, I'll answer without hesitation that Chris Clark can still play in the NHL. That's not a question. We just had too much depth and what he was going to bring and what we're capable of offering him, I think it would have been tough for him to fit in our top 12. … So it was tough. There's a lot of things that went into our thoughts and the one thing I do hope is that he hooks up with some NHL team because he's still an NHL-caliber player."

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Posted On Thursday, 10.06.2011 / 2:37 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 NHL Face-Off Blog

Kelly, Ference to wear an 'A'

BOSTON -- It was a mystery all summer and through training camp that everyone tried to solve.

After the retirement of Mark Recchi, the Bruins had an opening for an assistant captain in addition to Patrice Bergeron, the other permanent assistant under captain Zdeno Chara.

It seemed like everyone had an opinion about which player would best fill the void. Today, the Bruins' coaching staff, led by coach Claude Julien, announced that there will be two players wearing the second 'A' over the course of the season. Defenseman Andrew Ference will wear it for home games, while center Chris Kelly will wear it for road games. They will switch their home-road roles after the midway point of the season.

Should one of them be out of the lineup, someone else will get a chance to wear a letter.

"I think all the players and coaching staff kind of agreed that those guys have the personality that gives them that respect in the room," said Julien. "Also, they have that personality that shows leadership in the right way, on and off the ice, and they're highly respected in our dressing room, so our guys really felt strongly here. There didn't seem to be any questions on whether they were the right choices. It really was pretty unanimous overall. So it just became the obvious choices.

"I know Chris has come in late in the season (last season) and I thought when he first got here he was known as a great leader in Ottawa, but he kind of felt his way through before he started showing those qualities to the extreme. And in the playoffs it was pretty obvious what kind of a leader he was and our guys in the coaching staff recognized that.”

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Quote of the Day

Your team is going to want to recapture the feeling. What they're going to have to figure out is they're going to have to rewrite the story. Because you're going to rewrite the story doesn't mean you want a different end. It's just that you're going to have to learn that there's different challenges to get there, and if you're going to try and tap the same feeling, it ain't going to happen.

— Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi on maintaining their success from last season