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Posted On Thursday, 10.03.2013 / 3:37 PM

By Jerry Brown - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Coyotes aim to rediscover consistency

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- For the Phoenix Coyotes, the 2012-13 hurry-up-and-get-ready shortened season was a nightmare scenario for a team that relies on system play and good goaltending.

But in 2013-14, the Coyotes not only have had a full training camp to get veterans ready and see young players step into the lineup, they are one of the last teams to open the regular season, as they host the New York Rangers on Thursday at Arena.

"We have to be a real consistent team and we've had a good chance to build those habits in camp," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "Our last preseason game [a win against San Jose last Friday] was a good example of where we need to be and a good blueprint for how we need to play. That was a shortcoming last year and we're aware of how it affected us. We don't want to miss the playoffs again."

Posted On Thursday, 10.03.2013 / 2:46 PM

By Steve Mears -  NHL Live host / - NHL Live blog

Wingels talks Canucks-Sharks on NHL Live

Eight games are on the NHL slate Thursday night and NHL Live will have a complete rundown of each at 5 p.m. ET on NHL Network. We'll go out to Boston to check on the defending Eastern Conference champions and talk to NHL Network's Darren Pang about the intriguing goalie matchups around the NHL.

We'll also be joined by Tommy Wingels of the San Jose Sharks for a preview of their home opener against the Vancouver Canucks. Wingels, who had an excellent training camp, is expected to skate on a line with Joe Pavelski and Long Beach, Calif., native Matt Nieto. At age 20, Nieto will make his NHL debut along with former first-round pick Tomas Hertl. The Sharks defeated the Canucks seven times last year, including their four-game sweep in the first round of the NHL Playoffs.

Remember to submit your #AskEJ questions all season long to @NHLNetwork or @EJHradek_NHL, and join the conversation on Twitter as we ask your opinion on some hot topics around the NHL.

Posted On Thursday, 10.03.2013 / 2:22 PM

By Dan Myers - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Kings get Mitchell back, Brown also expected to play

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Los Angeles Kings and Minnesota Wild enter their game Thursday at Xcel Energy Center relatively healthy.

Kings captain Dustin Brown, who sustained a hamstring injury early in training camp, has skated better in recent days and is expected to play on a line with Jarret Stoll and Trevor Lewis.

Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell, who missed all of last season after a pair of knee surgeries following the 2012 Stanley Cup Final, will return to the lineup in a familiar place -- against the Wild, a team he spent parts of five seasons with.

Jonathan Quick will start in goal for the Kings.

Posted On Thursday, 10.03.2013 / 2:20 PM

By Louie Korac - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Projected lineups for Predators, Blues

ST. LOUIS -- Thursday at Scottrade Center will see the St. Louis Blues open the season against the visiting Nashville Predators.

Predators defenseman Seth Jones will celebrate his 19th birthday by making his NHL debut. The fourth pick of the 2013 NHL Draft, it's expected he'll be on the second defense pair, alongside Mattias Ekholm.

The Blues lineup is a bit of a question, as immigration issues could keep Brenden Morrow from making his debut with the team. If Morrow receives his work visa in time, he could start at left wing on the second line. If he can't go, Magnus Paajarvi could be in that spot.

Here are the lineups each team could use Thursday:

Posted On Thursday, 10.03.2013 / 2:14 PM

By Louie Korac - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Jones' birthday present is NHL debut for Predators

ST. LOUIS -- For Nashville Predators defenseman Seth Jones, the best birthday present will come Thursday, when he steps onto the ice in an NHL game for the first time.

Jones, who turned 19 Thursday, will be in the lineup for the Predators, who open the season against the St. Louis Blues.

The No. 4 pick of the 2013 NHL Draft, who will skate alongside Mattias Ekholm, said he has envisioned this day since walking up to the podium on draft day.

"Yeah, a little bit," Jones said Thursday. "I feel really good though. It's obviously a great thing that I'm here. I'm looking to move forward every day, and it starts today.

"I know [the NHL] is going to be very intense. I got a taste in preseason and I know it's coming a little bit. You don't really know until you get out there."

Posted On Thursday, 10.03.2013 / 1:48 PM

By Steve Hunt - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Projected lineups for Panthers, Stars

DALLAS -- There will be a number of notable debuts on both sides as the Florida Panthers visit the Dallas Stars on Thursday.

Florida will have Tim Thomas in net; it will be the first regular-season NHL game for the 39-year-old two-time Vezina Trophy winner since April 7, 2012.

Thomas was a member of the Boston Bruins then, and his team played the Buffalo Sabres, who at the time were coached by Lindy Ruff. Thomas will see Ruff again as the coach makes his regular-season debut behind the bench with the Dallas Stars.

Here are the projected lineups for both teams:

Posted On Thursday, 10.03.2013 / 1:10 PM

By Adam Vingan - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Oates: No reason to change Capitals lineup

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Washington Capitals coach Adam Oates said Thursday following his team's morning skate that he would use the same lineup against the Calgary Flames (7 p.m. ET, TSN) that he dressed for the team's season-opening 6-4 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Oates said he felt no need to change things, "Because it [Tuesday] was a winnable game. One game is not a fair evaluation, so give the guys another chance."

After he made those comments, he was forced to make one change. To make room on the roster for defenseman Alexander Urbom, who was claimed off waivers from the New Jersey Devils on Thursday, fourth-line center Michael Latta was sent to Hershey of the American Hockey League. That likely means Jay Beagle will make his season debut, skating on the fourth line between Martin Erat and Tom Wilson.

Posted On Thursday, 10.03.2013 / 12:56 PM

By Wes Crosby - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Elias in for Devils, Neal questionable for Penguins

PITTSBURGH -- New Jersey Devils forward Patrik Elias is expected to skate Thursday against the Pittsburgh Penguins despite a groin injury, while Penguins forward James Neal is a game-time decision with an upper-body injury.

The Devils cleared a roster spot to activate Elias by placing defenseman Alexander Urbom on waivers Wednesday; he was claimed Thursday by the Washington Capitals.

Neal skated briefly at practice Wednesday, but left the ice when he decided he wasn't well enough to continue.

Posted On Thursday, 10.03.2013 / 12:48 PM

By Matt Kalman - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Eriksson, Iginla set to debut for Bruins vs. Lightning

BOSTON -- It's finally time for the Boston Bruins to unleash their much-hyped offseason acquisitions Thursday, as the Bruins will host the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden in the season opener for both clubs.

Loui Eriksson and Jarome Iginla are scheduled to make their debuts with Boston and play on the lines they were projected to skate with in the summer, and played with all through training camp. Eriksson will line up with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, while Iginla will skate with David Krejci and Milan Lucic. Bruins coach Claude Julien said Krejci, who recently missed time with back spasms, will be in against the Lightning.

It'll be important for the Bruins' new top two lines to forge early chemistry.

"I think we feel pretty good out there," Eriksson said after the Bruins' morning skate. "We've been having lot of practices together and we played a few [preseason] games together too. So I think everyone is excited to get going here and start playing."

Posted On Thursday, 10.03.2013 / 12:30 PM

By Jim Ibister -  Special to NHL Green / - NHL Green Slapshots™

Into the Wild: Minnesota Shows Operational Impact of Sustainability

Jim Ibister is the Vice President of Facility Administration for the Minnesota Wild and General Manager of the Saint Paul RiverCentre.

Seemingly, one of the misconceptions of sustainability programs is that they are all about resource conservation. While conservation is an important outcome of the Minnesota Wild/Xcel Energy Center’s sustainability program, it is certainly not the only one. We take a more holistic view of this program, including a focus on improving operational efficiencies in people and processes.

Creating and maintaining a successful sustainability program requires, among other things, a strong grasp of data. First, and perhaps most importantly, the staff needed to know their starting point. The Minnesota Wild partnered with consultant Progressive Associates to not only shepherd a successful campaign but to help us better understand who we were and how we operated.

The data Progressive gathered created a snapshot of the past and allowed the team to create a vision of the future. It helped to answer staff questions about why they were being asked to change their current practices. With the resulting buy-in came teamwork and with ongoing teamwork came repeatable and long-lasting change.

Good data also allowed us to ask and answer ongoing operational questions. Our team at the Xcel Energy Center developed a program that not only tracked monthly energy consumption and invoices, but also collected data in much smaller increments. This enabled important situational analysis, to answer questions such as: “Why is there a spike of electrical usage during these hours? What happened here that we see heating usage when we should be cooling?”

Now, in cooperation with the NHL and through application software developed by OSIsoft, the Wild’s Ice Operations team is taking this effort one step further. They are developing a program that will produce real-time data on what is happening to the ice as temperatures and conditions change in the arena. This live data, through monitors at the ice level, will give the ice team a head start in reacting to changes that might adversely affect the quality of ice. And while most of this data has always existed, it will now be presented in a consolidated way, overlaid with personal feedback and qualitative analysis. Nothing is more important to the Wild’s ice operations team than continuing to stay at the top of the pack in terms of ice quality.

These exciting developments are born out of a great side effect of a successful sustainability program: understanding who you are and how you work.

As teams and facilities strive to be more responsible in their use of natural resources, it is equally important to operate efficiently and with the excellence associated with the entire NHL.

View Xcel Energy Center's Sustainability Progress Reports.

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We've got to find a way to win a game. He's played well in the minors, now he gets his opportunity. We tried [with Jonathan Bernier]. The way I look at it, you get opportunities and you make the most of it. That's what [James Reimer] did. Now another opportunity is here and Sparks ... you gotta grab it. Is he ready? We'll find out.

— Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock to the Toronto Star on recalling goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL to start Monday in his NHL debut
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