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Posted On Sunday, 01.20.2013 / 4:24 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Schultz excited to face childhood team in NHL debut

Edmonton Oilers defensman Justin Schultz can’t think of a better place to make his NHL debut than Vancouver, against the team he grew up cheering.

Not that Schultz, who is from Kelowna, just a five-hour drive to the northeast, expects a warm welcome from his home province. After choosing the talented, young Oilers ahead of the more established Canucks during the final stage of a free-agency pursuit that made headlines across the NHL, Schultz expects to hear boos.

They rained down on him during his only other trip back to British Columbia this season, when fans in nearby Abbotsford jeered almost every time he touched the puck while playing an American Hockey League game for the Oilers’ affiliate from Oklahoma City.

“I heard a little bit of that in Abbotsford when we played there, but you don’t really hear that stuff when you are playing,” said Schultz, who can count on some crowd support with “a lot of friends” and his parents in attendance Sunday.

The skilled 22-year-old defenseman was a prize addition for the Oilers over the summer, and made an immediate impression in the AHL, where he played with other top young Oilers like Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Despite leaving Oklahoma City when the NHL lockout ended two weeks ago, Eberle (51 points) and Schultz (48 points) are still the top two scorers in the AHL. Schultz’s totals, which include 18 goals in just 34 games, are obviously even more impressive given he’s a defenseman.

Still, he’s admittedly nervous about his first NHL game.

“Excited, nervous, sure I’ll have butterflies before the game but can't wait,” Schultz said. “(Playing in the AHL) helps, especially playing with so many of the guys who are here right now, but this is another big jump.”

It's a jump that Schultz, a Hobey Baker finalist in his final two seasons at the University of Wisconsin before using a loophole in the old CBA to become a free agent, seems ready to make.

Posted On Sunday, 01.20.2013 / 4:02 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - 2013 NHL Draft blog

Quebec's Erne, Duclair allowed to play Sunday

           Adam Erne, Quebec Remparts, QMJHL
After initially suspending top 2013 NHL Draft prospects Adam Erne and Anthony Duclair, Quebec Remparts coach Patrick Roy changed course and inserted both forwards into the lineup for Sunday's game against the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies.

The Journal de Quebec had reported Saturday that Erne and Duclair had been suspended for Sunday's game by the team.

"We believe that we are not all on the same wavelength and what we want is a team concept," Roy told Gilles Moffet of Journal de Quebec. "This is a life lesson for these young people and I hope they will grow out of it. They will not play Sunday, then we'll see."

There was no report as to what persuaded Roy to change his mind.

Posted On Sunday, 01.20.2013 / 3:46 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Canucks hope to bounce back against Oilers

The only change the Canucks are making after a 7-3 loss to Anaheim is in goal, where Roberto Luongo gets his scheduled start Sunday against the Edmonton Oilers after taking over for new No. 1 Cory Schneider the night before.

Schneider was pulled after five goals on 14 shots, while Loungo gave up two on 12, but it won’t matter who is playing if the rest of a roster that remains intact doesn’t play better, especially in their own end and on the penalty kill.

“We've analyzed some things we need to do,” coach Alain Vigneault said after announcing Luongo as his starter Sunday morning, citing a big gap between his forwards and defense as one main issue. “Overall we were doing a pretty good job as far as keeping the chances against to a reasonable number but we did have some breakdowns and they found the back of our net.”

Turning that around against the Oilers will be up to the same group:

Alexandre BurrowsHenrik SedinDaniel Sedin

Mason RaymondAndrew EbbettZack Kassian

Chris HigginsMaxim LapierreJannik Hansen

Aaron VolpattiManny MalhotraDale Weise

Dan HamhuisKevin Bieksa

Jason GarrisonAlexander Edler

Keith Ballard – Chris Tanev

Roberto Luongo

Cory Schneider

The Canucks have three spare defensemen, but no extra forwards on the roster – unless you count Jim Vandermeer, who has played up front in the past – something Vigneault doesn't expect to last long. In addition to Vandermeer, defensemen Cam Barker and Andrew Alberts will be healthy scratches for a second-straight game.

Posted On Sunday, 01.20.2013 / 3:44 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Start unexpected by Luongo, not Vigneault

Roberto Luongo didn’t think he’d ever play another game for the Vancouver Canucks.

That was back in May, after losing his starting job to Cory Schneider two games into a five-game playoff loss to the Los Angeles Kings.

Now the veteran goalie is preparing to play for the second straight day to start the new season.

“Probably most of you don't believe it right now, either," Luongo said after the announcement was made following the morning skate Monday.

Coach Alain Vigneault explained the decision by saying he was just sticking to his plan to start Luongo against Edmonton on Sunday night, one day after pulling Schneider early in the second period of a 7-3 loss to Anaheim.

“This was my plan that I figured out a couple of days ago and nothing happened last night that changed my mind,” Vigneault said.

That plan certainly didn't include seeing Schneider give up goals on three straight shots over a three-minute span early in the second period against the Ducks – and five on 14 overall.

Luongo took over, giving up two goals on 12 shots. He said after he should have stopped both goals by Teemu Selanne, who had four points for the Ducks, but said he felt good about his game overall. He will get a chance to build on that feeling against a talented Oilers team that was at least rumored to be interested in acquiring him in a trade last summer.

“To start a game with this logo on is something I’m happy to be doing right now,” Luongo said. “I didn’t know what was going to happen. I would have been fine with either way. I just got myself ready, no matter what the situation."

Neither Luongo nor Schneider had much help against the Ducks. Vancouver gave up quick goals on all three Anaheim power play opportunities, and its highly touted defense surrendered several point blank scoring chances.

Schneider, though, wasn’t making any excuses after the game, shouldering the blame when there was plenty to go around by saying it was up to him to make some big saves to keep the Canucks in the game.

“Sometimes you need to make that one big save and that will get you on your rhythm and send you on your way and I couldn’t make that big save,” Schneider said after the game. “You start pressing a little harder and trying to make that save and sometimes it’s a little counter-productive.”

Schneider, who lamented the three shots that went “through” him the most, said he “felt just a half-second off,” wanted to go over video on Sunday and then, “put my head down, work my butt off and fix any mistakes I made.”

Now he will get that chance to work with goaltending coach Roland Melanson, at least until a game Wednesday against Calgary.

"I want to keep playing,” Schneider said after the skate Sunday. “I'm not worried to get back in the net. I'm eager to do so. This will give me time to work on things."

In Vancouver, where most expected Luongo to be long gone by now, it also provides time for a potential goaltending controversy to simmer.

Posted On Sunday, 01.20.2013 / 3:11 PM

NHL.com - 2012-2013 Situation Room blog

PHI @ BUF - 16:13 of the Third Period

At 16:13 of the third period of the Flyers/Sabres game, video review determined that there was no distinct kicking motion by Buffalo forward Cody Hodgson and that his stick made contact with the puck prior to it crossing the goal line. Good goal Buffalo.

Posted On Sunday, 01.20.2013 / 2:54 PM

By Jerry Brown -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Saad set to replace injured Carcillo for Chicago

The Chicago Blackhawks will try to spoil an opponents' banner-raising celebration for the second time in two nights Sunday when they meet the Phoenix Coyotes in Glendale, Ariz. The Blackhawks spoiled the Kings' Stanley Cup party Saturday in Los Angeles and will watch the Coyotes raise their Pacific Division banner -- the first in franchise history -- Sunday.

Chicago beat the Kings 5-2 but lost ex-Coyotes forward Daniel Carcillo -- he is expected to be out a month -- when he injured his right knee in the second period. Carcillo was lost for the 2011-12 season with a left knee injury that required surgery Jan. 17. Carcillo was injured in a collision along the boards with Los Angeles' Drew Doughty.
 
Brandon Saad, a second-round pick in 2011 who played just two regular season game before appearing in Game 4 of the playoffs against Phoenix, will replace Carcillo against the Coyotes. The highly-skilled Saad will take Carcillo's spot alongside Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa -- who combined for two goals and five points against the Kings.

Raffi Torres, who still have seven games to serve on his suspension for his hit on Chicago's Marian Hossa in the Western Conference Quarterfinals last year, remains out for Phoenix but the rest of the lineup that played Saturday in a 4-3 loss at Dallas came out OK to go against the Blackhawks.

Here are the projected lines for Sunday. The Coyotes did not skate and the Blackhawks did not show lines at their brief skatearound:

BLACKHAWKS

Brandon Saad - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa

Patrick Sharp - Dave Bolland - Patrick Kane

Andrew Shaw - Marcus Kruger - Viktor Stalberg

Brandon Bollig - Bryan Bickell - Michael Frolik

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook

Johnny Oduya - Niklas Hjalmarsson

Sheldon Brookbank - Nick Leddy

Ray Emery

Corey Crawford

COYOTES

Mikkel Boedker - Antoine Vermette - Shane Doan

Steve Sullivan - Martin Hanzal - Radim Vrbata

Lauri Korpikoski - Matthew Lombardi - David Moss

Kyle Chipchura - Boyd Gordon - Alexandre Bolduc

Keith Yandle - Derek Morris

Zbynek Michalek - Oliver Ekman-Larsson

Rostislav Klesla - David Schlemko

Mike Smith

Jason LaBarbera

Posted On Sunday, 01.20.2013 / 2:40 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Luongo to start Sunday for Canucks

Vancouver Canucks coach Alain Vigneault is sticking with his plan and starting Roberto Luongo against the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday night.

That plan certainly didn't include seeing Cory Schneider getting shelled Saturday night in the season-opening 7-3 loss to the Anaheim Ducks, or being pulled early in the second period after giving up goals on three straight shots in just more than three minutes – and five goals on just 14 shots overall. Luongo took over from there, giving up two goals on 12 shots as well.

Vigneault said the plan all along was to split goalies over the back-to-back weekend games, and nothing on opening night changed his mind. He said he told the goaltenders about his decision after the one-sided loss to the Ducks, which saw the Canucks give up quick goals all three times they were shorthanded amid a series of defensive breakdowns.

Posted On Sunday, 01.20.2013 / 1:41 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Flames to start without two key forwards

CALGARY – The Calgary Flames are expected to start the season without two key offseason acquisitions.

Forwards Jiri Hudler and Roman Cervenka will both miss Calgary’s season opener.

Hudler, whose father passed away earlier this week, is attending to family matters in the Czech Republic. There is no scheduled return for his timetable. The 29-year-old was signed to a four-year, $16-million deal last July.

The 27-year-old Cervenka is out indefinitely because of anticoagulant medication he’s taking after the presence of a blood clot. While the clot is no longer an issue, Cervenka will see a hematology specialist before making his debut. When he’s deemed able to come off the medication, Cervenka will be cleared to skate.

When he does return, Cervenka will make his North American introduction after spending his entire career in Europe. The 5-foot-11 forward is expected to slot into a top-six role when he is cleared.

The team will also be without defenseman Anton Babchuk, who missed training camp with an injured shoulder.

Curtis GlencrossAlex TanguayJarome Iginla

Sven BaertschiMikael Backlund – Michael Cammalleri

Roman HorakMatt StajanLee Stempniak

Tim JackmanSteve BeginBlake Comeau

Mark GiordanoJay Bouwmeester

Chris ButlerDennis Wideman

Derek SmithCory Sarich

Miikka Kiprusoff

Leland Irving

Posted On Sunday, 01.20.2013 / 1:18 PM

By Dan Myers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Stars, Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- With both teams in action last night, neither team skated Sunday morning at Xcel Energy Center.

Both squads won Saturday, so look for minimal changes to the lineup. The Wild will go with Josh Harding in goal, while Dallas coach Glen Gulutzan has indicated he was leaning towards inserting Cristopher Nilstorp. If he does, it would mark his first career National Hockey League start.

Wild fourth line center Zenon Konopka received 30 stitches to his nose last night after taking a high stick to the face in the second period against Colorado. He tweeted a picture after the game and said he'd be ready to go Sunday.

WILD

Zach Parise - Mikko Koivu - Dany Heatley

Matt Cullen - Mikael Granlund - Devin Setoguchi

Pierre-Marc Bouchard - Kyle Brodziak - Cal Clutterbuck

Darroll Powe - Zenon Konopka - Torrey Mitchell

Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon

Tom Gilbert - Clayton Stoner

Nate Prosser - Justin Falk

Josh Harding

Niklas Backstrom

STARS

Loui Eriksson - Derek Roy - Jaromir Jagr

Ray Whitney - Tom Wandell - Michael Ryder

Brenden Morrow - Vernon Fiddler - Eric Nystrom

Ryan Garbutt - Cody Eakin - Reilly Smith

Alex Goligoski - Stephane Robidas

Jordie Benn - Trevor Daley

Brenden Dillon - Philip Larsen

Cristopher Nilstorp

Kari Lehtonen

Posted On Sunday, 01.20.2013 / 1:04 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Vokoun to make first start for Penguins

NEW YORK – Tomas Vokoun joined the Capitals last season as the goaltender that would shore up the position, one that had been a weakness for years in Washington, and transform the club from playoff disappointments into Stanley Cup champions.

Instead, Vokoun battled injury and inconsistency and eventually found himself watching from afar with a lower-body injury as the Capitals lost in the Eastern Conference Semifinals to the New York Rangers in seven games.

The 36-year-old will get a crack at the Rangers on Sunday night at Madison Square Garden in his first start with the Pittsburgh Penguins after signing a two-year deal to serve as Marc-Andre Fleury’s backup.

“I think when we talk about our goaltenders and adding a Tomas Vokoun, this is one of the reasons why right here in back-to-back situations,” said coach Dan Bylsma, whose team won its season opener 2-1 in Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon. “He’s got a big game against the Rangers. This is a team that we think is a great team and a big game for us and Tomas is stepping right in Game 2 to backstop us.”

Vokoun’s last start came nearly 10 months ago when he allowed three goals on 28 shots in a 3-2 loss to the Jets in Winnipeg on March 16, 2012.

“It’s a good chance to get in there after a long time,” Vokoun said. “Hopefully I can help the team win. I’m very excited. That’s why we do all the training and everything else, to be able to play the game. Obviously it’s my first time in the uniform so it’s always exciting.”

Vokoun faced the Rangers once last year and played very well. He stopped 31 of 32 shots in a 4-1 win for the Capitals at Verizon Center.

“I’m happy for a new teammate getting his first chance,” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. “It’s always a great atmosphere here and we’re excited for him to get out there. We want to make sure we give him as much help as we can.”

Here are the lines and defense pairings that were on display during the Penguins’ morning practice:

Chris KunitzSidney CrosbyPascal Dupuis

Eric TangradiEvgeni MalkinJames Neal

Matt CookeBrandon SutterTyler Kennedy

Tanner GlassJoe VitaleCraig Adams

Brooks OrpikPaul Martin

Kris LetangMatt Niskanen

Simon DespresDeryk Engelland

Tomas Vokoun

Marc-Andre Fleury

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo

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Quote of the Day

That's today's game. That's one of the things you have to deal with when you're a championship team. Guys are going to earn more money based on their performance and what they've achieved, [and] deservedly so. [Saad] falls into that category.

— Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville on Brandon Saad, who was traded by Chicago to the Columbus Blue Jackets this offseason