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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

We think that Randy is a very good coach. Our players think that Randy is a very good coach. We think that he's going to get the most out of this group. With the addition of the two assistants, a bit of a different dynamic, we're very comfortable that this is a quality coaching staff that's going to maximize the potential of this team.

— Maple Leafs GM Dave Nonis on head coach Randy Carlyle and his staff