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Posted On Saturday, 10.08.2011 / 8:36 PM

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

Meech glad to offer Winnipeg history lesson

WINNIPEG -- If any of the Winnipeg Jets need a lesson on the city's NHL history, teammate Derek Meech can provide it.

Meech made the club's roster out of training camp as a spare defenseman who's also capable of filling in as a forward. The Winnipeg native signed with the Jets this summer after six seasons in the Detroit Red Wings organization.

Meech does not expect to dress for the Jets in Sunday's season-opening game against the Montreal Canadiens. But he's the only member of the Winnipeg roster who was present for the city's last taste of NHL hockey in April 1996.

Just 12 years old when the original Winnipeg Jets bowed out to the Red Wings on April 28, 1996, Meech has since spent four seasons as a standout defenseman in the Western Hockey League, made his NHL debut with the Red Wings and scored his first goal in the League.

On Saturday morning, Meech recalled taking part in the city's famous white-outs for Jets games at the old Winnipeg Arena. A Dave Ellett poster adorned the wall of his bedroom -- and, like a lot of kids in Manitoba during the 1980s and 1990s, Meech lived and died with the fortunes of the local NHL club.

"I'm a [Jets] fan. I've been a fan for the past 15 years," he said.

Unlike a lot of Winnipeggers, the easy-going Meech did not harbor any dislike of the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers, two powerhouse divisional rivals that tormented the Jets and their fans during the 1980s.

"I mostly just loved the Jets," he said.

Meech plans to bring his family's Jets loyalties full circle. Meech's father, brother and step-brother all took in that April 1996 game, and all three will be in the MTS Centre for Sunday's game.

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Posted On Saturday, 10.08.2011 / 7:39 PM

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

Winnipeg gets ready

WINNIPEG -- Just a little more than 24 hours before their NHL season-opener, the Winnipeg Jets conducted their final tune-up at the MTS Centre on Saturday.

After a 5,643-day wait, on Sunday afternoon the Jets will bring the NHL back to Winnipeg for the first regular-season contest in the city since 1996. Winnipeg will host the Montreal Canadiens in a contest that will be broadcast across Canada on CBC and RDS. The NHL Network will present the 5 p.m. ET to viewers in the U.S.

The Jets skated the following forward lines and defensive pairings on Saturday:

Andrew Ladd-Bryan Little-Blake Wheeler
Evander Kane-Mark Scheifele-Kyle Wellwood
Brett MacLean-Alexander Burmistrov-Nikolai Antropov

Tanner Glass-Jim Slater-Chris Thorburn
Johnny Oduya-Dustin Byfuglien

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Posted On Saturday, 10.08.2011 / 3:04 PM

By Compiled By -  NHL.com Staff /NHL.com - 2011 NHL Face-Off Blog

Expected lineups for Penguins, Flames

The Calgary Flames and Pittsburgh Penguins are set to face off Saturday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Based on this morning's practices, here are the expected forward lines and defense pairings for each team:


FLAMES

Alex TanguayDavid MossJarome Iginla
Curtis GlencrossOlli JokinenLee Stempniak
Niklas HagmanRoman HorakRene Bourque
Tom KostopoulosMatt StajanTim Jackman

Mark GiordanoScott Hannan
Chris ButlerJay Bouwmeester
Anton BabchukCory Sarich

Miikka Kiprusoff is expected to get the start in goal with Henrik Karlsson serving as the backup.

PENGUINS
Steve Sullivan - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Chris Kunitz - Jordan Staal - Tyler Kennedy
Matt Cooke - Mark Letestu - Pascal Dupuis
Craig Adams - Joe Vitale - Arron Asham

Kris Letang - Deryk Engelland
Paul Martin - Zbynek Michalek
Matt Niskanen - Ben Lovejoy

Marc-Andre Fleury is expected to get the start in goal with Brent Johnson serving as the backup.
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Posted On Saturday, 10.08.2011 / 1:36 PM

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

Expected lineups for Bruins, Lightning

The Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning are set to face off Saturday in a rematch of last spring's Eastern Conference Finals. Based on this morning's practices, here are the expected forward lines and defense pairings for each team:

BRUINS

Lucic-Krejci-Horton
Marchand-Bergeron-Peverley
Pouliot-Kelly-Seguin
Paille-Campbell-Thornton

Chara-Boychuk
Seidenberg-Corvo
Ference-McQuaid

Tim Thomas is expected to start in goal with Tuukka Rask backing him up.

LIGHTNING
Malone-Lecavalier-Purcell
St. Louis-Stamkos-Downie
Connolly-Moore-Shannon
Jones-Thompson-Hall

Hedman-Brewer
Clark-Gilroy
Bergeron-Kubina

Mathieu Garon looks like he may see the start in goal with Dwayne Roloson backing him up.
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Posted On Saturday, 10.08.2011 / 12:49 PM

By Compiled By -  NHL.com Staff /NHL.com - 2011 NHL Face-Off Blog

Expected lineups for Maple Leafs, Senators

The Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators are set to face off Saturday in the second game of each team's season. Based on this morning's practices, here are the expected forward lines and defense pairings for each team:

MAPLE LEAFS
Frattin-Grabovski-Kulemin
Lupul-Bozak-Kessel
Armstrong-Steckel-Dupuis
Brown-Lombardi-Orr
 
Gunnarsson-Phaneuf
Liles-Schenn
Gardiner-Komisarek
 
James Reimer is expected to start in goal with Jonas Gustavsson backing up.

SENATORS
Michalek - Spezza - Filatov
Greening - Zibanejad - Alfredsson
Foligno  - Da Costa  - Neil
Condra - Smith - Konopka
 
Phillips - Lee
Cowen - Gonchar
Kuba - Karlsson
 
Craig Anderson is expected to start in goal with Alex Auld backing up.



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Posted On Friday, 10.07.2011 / 6:41 PM

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

Wings to honor three victims of Lokomotiv crash

Detroit will do a number of things before Friday's opening game at Joe Louis Arena to honor the lives of former players Ruslan Salei, Stefan Liv and former assistant coach Brad McCrimmon.

The three were among those killed in the tragic September plane crash in Russia that killed 37 members of the KHL team Lokomotiv just outside of Yaroslavl. Salei played on the blue line for the Wings last season, Liv was once a Wings goalie prospect and McCrimmon was an assistant under Mike Babcock from 2008-11 - leaving after last season to become Lokomotiv's coach.

The Wings will wear a special patch in the Lokomotiv colors of blue and red on the left sleeve of their jerseys with the initials "BM, RS and SL."

Friday night's game-worn jerseys will also be used to raise funds for the three families, and wives of current Red Wings players will also sell honorary bracelets that say "Love for Lokomotiv" in the concourse - with the proceeds going to a fund for the families of players and staff killed in the crash.

Coaching staffs of both the Wings and Senators will also wear red and blue ribbons made by the wives of the Red Wings players. McCrimmon's family -- wife Maureen, daughter Carlin and son Liam -- still live in the Detroit area and will be honored on the ice prior to the game.
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Posted On Friday, 10.07.2011 / 6:30 PM

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

Babcock holds fast to his goal: a championship

It was a simple question about legendary Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom and whether Mike Babcock feels a little fortunate to coach him.

Babcock's answer gave turned out to be a sort of mission statement that assuming the Red Wings are on the downswing now is probably a mistake.

"When you get to coach an Original Six team and you get to coach the Detroit Red Wings and work for Mr. (Mike) Illitch and get to coach (Steve Yzerman) and Lidstrom and (Brendan Shanahan) and (Chris Chelios) and (Dominik Hasek), Henrik Zetterberg), Pavel Datsyuk … you've got to pinch yourself," he said. "It's a dream come true. We've got great people in this room and we've found a way to be great for long periods of time. We don't plan on letting it stop anytime soon."

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Posted On Friday, 10.07.2011 / 4:56 PM

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

Glass predicting Cup Final-loud crowd in Winnipeg

WINNIPEG -- Twelve hours after the 2011 Molson Canadian NHL Face-Off wrapped up in downtown, the event still merited dressing-room chatter among the Winnipeg Jets.

Left wing Tanner Glass helped introduce legendary Winnipeg band Bachman & Turner during the second intermission of the Montreal Canadiens-Toronto Maple Leafs broadcast displayed on large video screens at the event.

"Awesome," Glass said. "So awesome. I knew it was going to be a (special) atmosphere there, but I didn't know the amount of people that we were going to have down there. It was pretty special."

Glass said he had a difficult time hearing questions from CBC host George Stroumboulopoulos while on the stage.

"I heard three or four words and just took a stab at it," Glass said with a laugh.

Glass played with the Vancouver Canucks last season and skated with them in the Stanley Cup Final. When asked to gauge the atmosphere that will greet the Jets on Sunday for their season-opener against the Canadiens, Glass said Winnipeg would measure up well against Canucks fans.

"It's going to be awesome," Glass predicted. "I expect it to be just as crazy here as that was. I'm looking forward to getting that first shift over with."
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Posted On Friday, 10.07.2011 / 1:50 PM

By Kurt Dusterberg -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 NHL Face-Off Blog

Expected lineups for Hurricanes, Lightning tonight

The Tampa Bay Lightning and Carolina Hurricanes will open their seasons today at the RBC Center in Raleigh. Based on this morning's practices, here are the expected forward lines and defense pairings for each team:

LIGHTNING

Martin St. Louis-Steven Stamkos-Steve Downie
Ryan Malone-Vincent Lecavalier-Teddy Purcell
Ryan Shannon-Dominic Moore-Brett Connolly
Adam Hall-Nate Thompson-Blair Jones

Victor Hedman-Eric Brewer
Marc-Andre Bergeron-Pavel Kubina
Brett Clark-Matt Gilroy

Dwayne Roloson will start in goal, with Mathieu Roy serving as the backup

HURRICANES

Jeff Skinner-Eric Staal-Tuomo Ruutu
Jiri Tlusty-Jussi Jokinen-Chad LaRose
Alexei Ponikarovsky-Brandon Sutter-Patrick Dwyer
Anthony Stewart-Tim Brent-Zac Dalpe

Joni Pitkanen-Tim Gleason
Jay Harrison-Bryan Allen
Tomas Kaberle-Justin Faulk

Cam Ward will start in goal, with Brian Boucher the backup
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Posted On Friday, 10.07.2011 / 1:37 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2011 NHL Face-Off Blog

Expected lineups for Stars, Blackhawks today

The Chicago Blackhawks and Dallas Stars will open their seasons today at American Airlines Arena in Dallas. Based on this morning's practices, here are the expected forward lines and defense pairings for each team:

BLACKHAWKS
Brandon Saad-Jonathan Toews-Patrick Sharp
Andrew Brunette-Patrick Kane-Marian Hossa
Bryan Bickell-Brandon Pirri-Michael Frolik
Jamal Mayers-Rostislav Olesz
 
Duncan Keith-Nick Leddy
Niklas Hjalmarsson-Brent Seabrook
Sean O'Donnell-Sami Lepisto
Steve Montador
 
Corey Crawford will start in goal, with Ray Emery the backup

STARS
Michael Ryder-Mike Ribeiro-Brenden Morrow
Loui Eriksson-Jamie Benn-Tomas Vincour
Steve Ott-Vernon Fiddler-Radek Dvorak
Jake Dowell-Tom Wandell-Toby Petersen
 
Stephane Robidas-Alex Goligoski
Trevor Daley-Sheldon Souray
Mark Fistric-Philip Larsen

Kari Lehtonen will start in goal, with Andrew Raycroft serving as the backup.
 
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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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Posted On Thursday, 10.06.2011 / 2:29 PM

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

3 rookies to make regular-season debuts for Flyers

BOSTON -- The Philadelphia Flyers will welcome eight new faces (nine if you count rookie Zac Rinaldo, who only played for them in the playoffs last season) into their lineup when they battle the defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins tonight at TD Garden (7 p.m. ET, Versus).

Including Rinaldo, there will be three rookies in the lineup. Rinaldo, Sean Couturier, the eighth pick of the 2011 Entry Draft, and fellow forward Matt Read all will make their NHL regular-season debuts.

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said he isn't worried about his rookies not being ready for prime time.

"I think that we've got some young players here, but they proved themselves at camp that they're good hockey players," Laviolette said. "They've been put in certain roles where we're counting on them to play and we'll keep working with them and teaching them. But their camps were good and they deserve to be here."

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Posted On Thursday, 10.06.2011 / 2:26 PM

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

Recchi, Hnidy take in morning skate

BOSTON -- Among those in attendance for today's Bruins morning skate were two key figures from last season's Stanley Cup championship roster who no longer are playing in the NHL.

Future Hall of Famer Mark Recchi and journeyman defenseman Shane Hnidy watched their former teammates prepare for tonight's season-opener against Philadelphia at TD Garden (7 p.m. ET, Versus). Both will be part of the pregame banner-raising festivities.

Recchi was an integral part of the team on and off the ice from the time of his arrival in a trade from the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2009 until he raised the Cup last June. While Hnidy played just three regular-season and three playoff games for the Bruins last season, his behind-the-scenes leadership was one of the least heralded, but still important, contributions to the Bruins' cause.
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Posted On Thursday, 10.06.2011 / 2:21 PM

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

Line combos, defense pairings for Habs, Leafs

The Maple Leafs and Canadiens both skated today at Air Canada Centre ahead of tonight's game (7 p.m. ET, CBC, RDS). Here's how their lineups could look tonight based on the lines and defense pairings at today's practice:

MAPLE LEAFS

Lupul – Bozak – Kessel
Kulemin – Grabovski – Frattin
Steckel – Dupuis – Armstrong
Rosehill – Lombardi – Brown
 
Liles – Schenn
Gunnarson – Phaneuf
Gardiner – Komisarek

Injured: Connolly
Scratches: Franson, Orr
 
Jason Reimer will start in goal with Jonas Gustavsson backing him up.
 
CANADIENS

Cammalleri – Plekanec – Kostitsyn
Pacioretty – Gomez – Gionta
Darche – Desharnais – Cole
Moen – Engqvist – Weber

 
Gill – Subban
Campoli – Gorges
Spacek – Diaz

Injured: Betts
Scratch: Emelin
 
Carey Price will start in goal with Peter Budaj backing him up.
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Posted On Thursday, 10.06.2011 / 2:16 PM

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

Jagr from hero to bitter rival for Krejci

BOSTON -- Growing up, Czech center David Krejci hung posters of Jaromir Jagr on his walls.

"Tons of them," the Bruins center said. "But they're all gone now. He's my enemy now, you know."

For the first time in three seasons, Jagr will be an enemy of Krejci and all the Bruins. The future Hall of Fame forward will be in the Philadelphia Flyers' lineup tonight as he plays his first NHL game since leaving to play in Russia after the 2007-08 season.

Jagr said he's not any more or less excited for this game than any other. But he knows his team will have its hands full with Krejci.

"Of course, he's supposed to be our top from the Czech Republic," said Jagr, who was Krejci's Olympic teammate in 2010. "There's no question about it. And he proved it in the playoffs last year. They won the Stanley Cup and now it's going to be a huge challenge not only for me, but for the whole team."

Krejci joked that when he was a kid and Jagr already was in the NHL, he never thought he someday would be on the same ice with his idol, who's now 39. When he was an NHL rookie, Krejci got his first on-ice dose of Jagr and he's prepared for more of the same things from the star forward.

"He's a big body, right? Once he gets going, it's tough to stop him," said Krejci. "He proved it in Russia that he could still play hockey, and he also proved it in the preseason games. So we know he's here to play hockey, he's ready to go. He wants to prove so many people wrong. I'm sure he's ready to go. He's a great player, but he's going to have a tough night tonight."
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Posted On Thursday, 10.06.2011 / 2:08 PM

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

Lineup questions for Bruins

BOSTON -- The Bruins might not know until game time which of their new faces will be in the lineup when they open their defense of the Stanley Cup against Philadelphia tonight at TD Garden (7 p.m. ET, Versus).

Defenseman Adam McQuaid, a key part of the Bruins' top six last season, missed the last couple days of practice with flu-like symptoms. He skated this morning, but the Bruins plan to monitor his situation over the course of the day before determining if he can play.

If McQuaid can't go, Matt Bartkowski would be one of two newcomers on Boston's back end. Joe Corvo, who was acquired in a trade with Carolina over the summer, is scheduled to play.

Up front, free-agent signee Benoit Pouliot and rookie Jordan Caron alternated on left wing on a line with center Chris Kelly and Tyler Seguin during the morning skate. Coach Claude Julien told everyone to come to the rink tonight prepared to play.
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Posted On Thursday, 10.06.2011 / 1:11 PM

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

Starting lineups

The Flyers and Bruins both skated today at TD Garden ahead of tonight's game (7 p.m. ET, Versus). Here's how their lineups could look tonight based on the lines and defense pairings at today's practice:

BRUINS
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Rich Peverley
Jordan Caron/Benoit Pouliot-Chris Kelly-Tyler Seguin
Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara-Johnny Boychuk
Andrew Ference-Joe Corvo
Dennis Seidenberg-Matt Bartkowski

Tim Thomas will start in goal with Tuukka Rask backing him up.

The defense pairings could change if Adam McQuaid plays tonight. He's been battling a flu bug and will be a game-time decision. If McQuaid is able to play, he would replace Bartkowski in the lineup, but not necessarily play with Seidenberg.

FLYERS
Jakub Voracek-Danny Briere-Wayne Simmonds
James van Riemsdyk-Claude Giroux-Jaromir Jagr
Scott Hartnell-Sean Couturier-Matt Read
Zac Rinaldo-Maxime Talbot-Andreas Nodl

Chris Pronger-Matt Carle
Kimmo Timonen-Andrej Meszaros
Braydon Coburn-Andreas Lilja

Ilya Bryzgalov will start in goal, with Sergei Bobrovsky backing him up.

The Flyers' defense pairings also could change if the team opts to play Matt Walker tonight in place of Lilja. Walker did not practice this morning, but there were hints that Walker could be in the lineup.

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Posted On Wednesday, 10.05.2011 / 3:46 PM

By Brian Hunter -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 NHL Face-Off Blog

NHL Face-Off, top matchups highlight opening night

There may only be three games on Thursday's schedule, but opening night in the NHL offers up enough excitement and thrills to rival any 12-game Saturday night.

Welcome to NHL.com's 2011 Face-Off blog, where you'll want to check back not just over the next 24 hours, but all weekend long as our writers and correspondents from around the League bring you up to date on everything that's happening as the season begins everywhere from Vancouver to Boston to the Compuware NHL Premiere games taking place over in Sweden, Finland and Germany.

First, a quick overview of what fans can look forward to Thursday:

Even before the first puck drops, hockey enthusiasts will be rocking as the 2011 Molson Canadian NHL Face-Off comes to Winnipeg. As a prelude to the Jets playing their first regular-season game at the MTS Centre against the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday, the event features international rock legends Bachman & Turner ("Takin' Care of Business," anyone?) along with platinum-selling rockers Three Days Grace and Winnipeg's own Inward Eye all scheduled to perform.

The fun gets under way at "The Forks" in Winnipeg at 3 p.m. Central Time, with refreshments, prizes and plenty of family-friendly activities, and continues until 9 p.m. Jets captain Andrew Ladd will appear along with teammates Zach Bogosian, Tanner Glass, Ron Hainsey, Jim Slater and Mark Stuart. Those not in the area or otherwise unable to make it will still be able to catch highlights on the NHL Network, Versus and CBC.

Then there's the game action.

The Boston Bruins raise their Stanley Cup banner prior to their game against the Philadelphia Flyers, part of a Versus doubleheader beginning at 7 p.m. Eastern Time. These clubs have plenty of recent history dating back to when they met in the 2010 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic at Fenway Park. Several months later, the Flyers became only the third team in NHL history to come back from a 3-0 deficit in a playoff series, as they beat the Bruins en route to making the Stanley Cup Final. Boston paid Philadelphia back in another second-round matchup last spring, sweeping through on the way to ending a 39-year championship drought.

Meanwhile, over on the CBC at 7 p.m., one of the top rivalries in hockey adds another chapter as Original Six foes Montreal and Toronto face off from the Air Canada Centre. The Maple Leafs are determined to end a lengthy playoff drought, while the Canadiens are focused on knocking off the Bruins as Northeast Division champions and ending a championship drought that now approaches two decades in length.

The night won't be finished until the defending Presidents' Trophy winners, the Vancouver Canucks, play host to the Pittsburgh Penguins at 10 p.m. ET. It isn't likely the Canucks will be tuning in hours earlier to watch the Bruins' banner-raising -- after a devastating Game 7 loss on home ice in June saw favored Vancouver come up empty in its bid to win the first Cup in franchise history, this season is all about redemption and the path back to the playoffs begins in earnest Thursday. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby travelled with the team but isn't yet ready to play, but Evgeni Malkin had a dynamite preseason and hopes for good health and plenty of points this season.

We'll have much more here in the days to come, so get prepared to eat, drink and breathe hockey as the 2011-12 season gets under way.
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Quote of the Day

I'm just excited about the opportunity. I've been on the ice earlier than usual and in the weight room, pushing around a little more weights than usual. Every day I go into a workout with a smile on my face and ready to go. When you do have a little more responsibility, you want to take your lunch pail and get ready to work.

— Brian Elliott to Jeremy Rutherford of the Post-Dispatch on being the Blues' No. 1 goalie