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Posted On Saturday, 01.19.2013 / 1:28 PM

By Alain Poupart -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-13 Opening Day blog

Kovalev ready to make Panthers debut

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The beginning of the NHL season is significant to every player, but for different reasons.

For Alex Kovalev, the Florida Panthers opener against the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night represents the chance to be back in the NHL after being away in 2011-12.

The 39-year-old, who played 22 games in the Kontinental Hockey League last season, earned a contract with the Panthers this week after being invited to camp on a tryout basis.

"I'm just happy overall to be back on the ice, back in the big league and have a chance to play in the NHL again," Kovalev said.

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Posted On Saturday, 01.19.2013 / 1:25 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-13 Opening Day blog

Projected Lineups: Coyotes at Stars

DALLAS -- Here are the projected lineups for Saturday night’s game between the Phoenix Coyotes and Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center.

COYOTES

Steve Sullivan-Martin Hanzal-Radim Vrbata

Mikkel Boedkker-Matthew Lombardi-Shane Doan

Lauri Korpikoski-Antoine Vermette-David Moss

Paul Bissonnette-Boyd Gordon-Kyle Chipchura

Oliver Ekman-Larsson-Zybnek Michalek

Keith Yandle-Derek Morris

Rotislav Klesla-David Schlemko

Mike Smith

Jason LaBarbera

Injuries: Raffi Torres (suspension).

Scratches: Alex Bolduc, David Rundblad.

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Posted On Saturday, 01.19.2013 / 1:21 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-13 Opening Day blog

Rangers' Nash ready for Broadway run

BOSTON – The years of trying to raise his team to prominence in Columbus are long over.

So are the months, or more, of dealing with trade rumors that seemed to follow him wherever the Blue Jackets went.

Now it’s time for Rick Nash, six months after he was dealt out of Columbus, to make his debut with the New York Rangers. Nash and his new club open the 2012-13 season Saturday night at TD Garden against the Boston Bruins.

“It’ll be a lot of emotion, a lot of excitement, a lot of nerves,” Nash said after the Rangers’ morning skate. “It’s obviously taken longer because of the lockout. But I think the biggest feeling will be excitement, getting the excitement going and playing my first one as a Ranger.”

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Posted On Saturday, 01.19.2013 / 1:17 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2012-13 Opening Day blog

Toews to play for Blackhawks despite the flu

LOS ANGELES -- Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews will play Saturday against the Los Angeles Kings despite missing practice Friday with the flu.

"He's playing," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "He's ready to go."

Quenneville said he will have to keep an eye on Toews to make sure he doesn't need extra rest during the game, but he's hopeful that won't be an issue.

"We use him in all situations so we'll keep an eye on his minutes and gauge how he's feeling," Quenneville said. "I think if he gets fatigued a little bit we'll cut back, but hopefully he's ready to go his regular workload.

"Plus, I think he's beyond it, too," he added. "The game takes over. I think everybody has targeted today's game, everybody is excited."

Toews had 57 points in 59 games last season. He missed the last 22 games with of the season with a concussion, but he returned for the Stanley Cup Playoffs and played in all six games against the Phoenix Coyotes.

Toews has 16 points in 18 career regular-season games against the Kings.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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Posted On Saturday, 01.19.2013 / 1:15 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-13 Opening Day blog

Another Bourque, Hamilton to debut in Boston

BOSTON – Ray Bourque skated in a franchise-record 1,518 NHL games for the Boston Bruins during his Hall of Fame career.

When the Bruins open the 2013 season Saturday night against the New York Rangers at TD Garden, the legend’s son Chris should have just 1,517 to catch up to his pop.

The younger Bourque, with 33 NHL games over three seasons on his resume entering this season, joined the Bruins in a trade last summer. He earned a roster spot during Boston’s one-week training camp and should open the game against the Rangers on a line with center Chris Kelly and right winger Rich Peverley.

Bourque previously played one NHL regular-season game in the Garden – when he was with Pittsburgh in 2010.

“It was great obviously coming back playing in front of friends and family. It’s different when you’re the road team, you don’t to spend too much time around the city. It was a good experience. But I’m happy I’m on this side now,” he said after the Bruins’ morning skate.

Bourque anticipates at least 30-40 friends and family, from both the Boston area and Montreal, will be in the building using tickets he and his family secured. There should be plenty other people he knows on hand as well -- he grew up in Boston and attended Boston University for one season.

It’s been a long time since his earliest days hanging out with the Bruins.

“I grew up in this locker room here and the one that was in the building right next door that’s not here anymore,” he said. “So just skating on the ice before the team. Not wanting to get off but getting kicked off before practice, but coming in here and running around, probably pissing off all the trainers and that sort of stuff.”

Bourque and rookie Dougie Hamilton are set to make their debuts with the Bruins. Adam McQuaid, who underwent offseason surgery to treat a blood clot, has been medically cleared to play, according to coach Claude Julien.

Here’s the Bruins projected lineup:

Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Nathan Horton

Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Tyler Seguin

Chris Bourque - Chris Kelly - Rich Peverley

Daniel Paille - Gregory Campbell - Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara - Johnny Boychuk

Dennis Seidenberg - Dougie Hamilton

Andrew Ference - Adam McQuaid

Tuukka Rask

Anton Khudobin

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Posted On Saturday, 01.19.2013 / 1:07 PM

By Lonnie Herman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-13 Opening Day blog

Lightning, Capitals excited to start season

TAMPA, Fla. –- The Tampa Bay Lightning open their 20th anniversary season by hosting the Washington Capitals at the sold-out Tampa Bay Times Forum on Saturday night.

It’s not quite business as usual, though, as emotions and nerves were running high in both locker rooms.

“This is not a normal night,” Lightning coach Guy Boucher said after the morning skate. “It’s exciting for everyone. The players have been waiting for a long time, the fans have been waiting for a long time and I’ve been waiting for a long time. It’s here and it’s now and we’re all eager to go.”

The day promises to be especially exciting for Cory Conacher, who will be making his NHL debut skating on a line with Vincent Lecavalier and Teddy Purcell.

“Yeah, it’s hit me,” Connacher said. “I want to act like I’ve been here before but even just walking into the rink tonight will be a great experience.”

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Posted On Saturday, 01.19.2013 / 9:00 AM

NHL.com - 2012-2013 Situation Room blog

Get the scoop from Toronto

You have arrived at the Situation Room Blog -- the place you want to be every night of the 2012-13 season.

Starting tonight, NHL.com reports instantly from inside the League's Hockey Operations situation room in Toronto, where Hockey Ops reviews and decides disputed goals.

Plus, find out the "why" behind those calls. You get the NHL's official ruling first -- here at the Situation Room Blog.

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Posted On Friday, 01.18.2013 / 7:13 PM

By Matt Sitkoff -  NHL.com Contributor /NHL.com - NHL Live blog

The EJ5: Old Faces In New Places

The EJ 5 looks at some Old Faces in New Places, thanks to EA Sports NHL 13. Hockey is back! Start YOUR season with NHL 13 – in stores now!

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Posted On Friday, 01.18.2013 / 4:50 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - 2012-13 Training Camp blog

Coyotes assign three to Portland

The Phoenix Coyotes announced Friday they have assigned forwards Nick Johnson and Rob Klinkhammer and defenseman Michael Stone to the Portland Pirates of the American Hockey League.

The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Johnson has played five games with the Idaho Steelheads this season, collecting one assist. Last season, Johnson set career highs in games played (77), goals (8), assists (18), points (26) and penalty minutes (45) with the Minnesota Wild.

The 27-year-old native of Calgary, Alberta was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the third round (No. 67) of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.

The 6-foot-3, 214-pound Klinkhammer has played 38 games with Portland this season, recording nine goals, 31 points and 26 penalty minutes. The 26-year-old native of Lethbridge, Alberta played 15 games with the Ottawa Senators in 2011-12, collecting two assists.

The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Stone has recorded six goals, 22 points and 16 PIMs in 31 games with the Portland Pirates this season.

The 22-year-old native of Winnipeg, Manitoba played in 13 games for the Coyotes last season posting one goal and three points in 13 games. He appeared in two games of the Western Conference Finals during the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The defenseman also recorded nine goals, 22 points and 24 PIMs in 51 games with Portland in 2011-12. Stone was originally drafted by the Coyotes in the third round (No. 69) in the 2008 NHL Draft.

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Posted On Friday, 01.18.2013 / 3:20 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - 2012-13 Training Camp blog

Flames sign Begin to two-way contract

The Calgary Flames announced Friday they have signed forward Steve Begin, who was originally drafted by the team in 1996 and hasn't played in the NHL since early in the 2010-11 season.

Begin signed a one-year, two-way deal worth $525,000 at the NHL level.

His last NHL action came when he played in a pair of games for the Predators two seasons ago. He spent most of that season with their AHL affiliate in Milwaukee and was out of hockey last season.

Begin, 34, was a second-round pick (No. 40) by the Flames and played parts of five seasons for the team. He has also skated for the Canadiens, Stars and Bruins, posting career totals of 52 goals, 100 points and 539 penalty minutes in 488 games.

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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