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Cup Qualifiers Buzz: Rangers won't reveal Game 1 goalie

Hedman to rejoin Lightning, won't practice; Foudy to be in Blue Jackets lineup vs. Maple Leafs

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Welcome to the Stanley Cup Qualifiers Buzz. The 24 teams who will be competing for the Stanley Cup are in their respective hub cities (Toronto for the 12 Eastern Conference teams, Edmonton for the 12 Western Conference teams). Exhibition games started Tuesday and the Stanley Cup Qualifiers begin Saturday.

Here's a look around the League at the latest from the Qualifiers:

 
New York Rangers

The Rangers will not reveal their starting goalie for Game 1 against the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday (12 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN, TVAS, FS-CR, MSG) until shortly before the game, coach David Quinn said Friday.

Igor Shesterkin and Henrik Lundqvist split time in net almost evenly during a 2-1 loss against the New York Islanders in an exhibition game at Scotiabank Arena on Wednesday. Shesterkin started and made six saves on seven shots; Lundqvist allowed one goal on 15 shots.

Alexandar Georgiev was scratched against the Islanders.

In addition, Quinn said defenseman Tony DeAngelo didn't practice Friday and will be a game-time decision for Game 1 against Carolina.

DeAngelo led all Rangers skaters with 24:09 of ice time against the Islanders. He led New York defensemen with 53 points (15 goals, 38 assists) in 68 games this season.

If DeAngelo, who usually is paired with Marc Staal, is unable to play, it's likely that Libor Hajek will get in the lineup. Hajek had five assists in 28 games with the Rangers this season.

"If a guy doesn't play or a guy gets injured during a game you have to adjust," Staal said. "It'll be no different throughout this playoff series, and if you go for a long run, things happen. You just have to adjust and just go. We're always ready for anything and it'll be no different come game time [Saturday]."

Staal, who left the game against the Islanders early out of precaution, will play Saturday after practicing Friday.

"No issues," Staal said. "Felt really good." -- Dan Rosen

 

Tampa Bay Lightning

Victor Hedman is expected to join the Tampa Bay Lightning in Toronto on Friday but will not practice.

Hedman did not fly to Toronto, the Eastern Conference hub city, with the Lightning on July 26. The defenseman remained in Tampa to tend to a personal issue. He had been taking part in individual workouts until he was able to travel.

"[Hedman] won't be there [at practice] today," coach Jon Cooper said. "But we're hoping he will be available to us [Saturday] and beyond. ... Ask me the same question tomorrow and the next day and I'll probably have the same answer for you. When I know when he's going to be ready and available I'll let you know."

The Lightning were scheduled to practice later Friday afternoon.

Hedman, a finalist for the Norris Trophy as the best defenseman in the NHL, scored 55 points (11 goals, 44 assists) in 66 games.

The Lightning play their first game of the round-robin portion of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers against the Washington Capitals on Monday (4 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN360, TVAS, SUN, NBCSWA) at Scotiabank Arena. They also play the Boston Bruins (Aug. 5) and the Philadelphia Flyers (Aug. 8). The round-robin will determine the seeding for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the East.

Forward Steven Stamkos (lower-body injury) is expected to practice Friday. He practiced Monday but did not play Wednesday in Tampa Bay's 5-0 win against the Florida Panthers in an exhibition game. -- Corey Long

 
St. Louis Blues

Vladimir Tarasenko did not practice Friday but is expected to play for the St. Louis Blues in their Western Conference round-robin game against the Colorado Avalanche at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Sunday (6:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN360, TVAS2, ALT, FS-MW).

Blues coach Craig Berube said the forward sat out for maintenance reasons after he played 15:07 and led the Blues with seven shot attempts, including four on goal, in a 4-0 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in an exhibition game Thursday. It was Tarasenko's first game since surgery to repair a dislocated left shoulder Oct. 29.

"I don't think the first exhibition game was much of a test, to be honest with you," Berube said. "But going forward here in the round-robin he's going to really have to get after it, trust his shoulder and trust himself and really push himself so he's at a very high level when it's over and we're starting the playoff round. That's what I'd like to see him do. I haven't really sat down and talked to him about it, but I'm sure he's thinking the same thing."

Forward Alexander Steen and defenseman Vince Dunn, neither of whom played against the Blackhawks, practiced Friday, but Berube did not say if either player would be available against the Avalanche.

The Blues also play the Vegas Golden Knights (Aug. 6) and Dallas Stars (Aug. 9) to determine seeding for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. -- Louie Korac

 
Columbus Blue Jackets

Liam Foudy has made the Game 1 lineup for the Columbus Blue Jackets after a strong training camp and exhibition game against the Boston Bruins on Thursday.

The 20-year-old rookie forward assisted on the game-opening goal by Boone Jenner, at 4:27 of the first period. He finished with two shots on goal and three hits in 12:45 of ice time in Columbus' 4-1 win.

"Where he sits on the lines, I don't know yet," coach John Tortorella said. "The thing I like about [Foudy] is he's not afraid; he's not afraid to make a play. He's a very intelligent player."

The Blue Jackets, the No. 9 seed in the East, play the Toronto Maple Leafs, the No. 8 seed, in a best-of-5 Stanley Cup Qualifier that begins with Game 1 at Scotiabank Arena on Sunday (8 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, TVAS, FS-O). The winner advances to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Foudy, selected by the Blue Jackets in the first round (No. 18) of the 2018 NHL Draft, made his NHL debut Feb. 10 and had one assist in two games during an emergency call-up from London of the Ontario Hockey League. He scored 68 points (28 goals, 40 assists) in 45 games with London this season.

 

Philadelphia Flyers

Shayne Gostisbehere likely will be scratched for the Philadelphia Flyers against the Boston Bruins in the first game of the Eastern Conference round-robin, at Scotiabank Arena on Sunday (3 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVAS).

Gostisbehere skated on the fourth defense pair along with Mark Friedman during practice Friday. Philadelphia's top three pairs were Ivan Provorov and Matt Niskanen, Travis Sanheim and Philippe Myers, and Robert Hagg and Justin Braun.

"At this point right now I'm staying with what we have," coach Alain Vigneault said Friday. "In the near future, if I feel like I need to make a change, I will."

The Flyers also will play the Washington Capitals (Aug. 6) and Tampa Bay Lighting (Aug. 8) during the round-robin, which will establish the seeding for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Gostisbehere had an assist on Scott Laughton's overtime goal in the Flyers' 3-2 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins in an exhibition game Tuesday. He also had one hit and one blocked shot in 18:20 of ice time.

Gostisbehere had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in late May, which followed a similar procedure on his left knee on Jan. 14. He had 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in 47 games this season, but played two games after his January surgery.

"I'm definitely 100 percent right now," Gostisbehere said Tuesday. "I feel good; probably the healthiest I've felt in a couple years. I'm happy to contribute any way that I can. It's just good to be healthy."

The Flyers had one change to their forward group, with rookie right wing Nicolas Aube-Kubel moving to the third line with center Derek Grant and left wing James van Riemsdyk. Tyler Pitlick took Aube-Kubel's spot on the fourth line alongside center Nate Thompson. Michael Raffl and rookie Joel Farabee alternated at left wing on that line. -- Adam Kimelman

 

New York Islanders 

The New York Islanders will not reveal their starting goalie for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers against the Florida Panthers on Saturday (4 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN1, TVAS, MSG+, FS-F). 

Semyon Varlamov started against the New York Rangers and saved all 19 shots he faced during the first two periods in a 2-1 exhibition win Wednesday. Thomas Greiss allowed one goal on eight shots in the third.

"We will have a goaltender, correct," Trotz said Friday when asked if Varlamov would start Game 1. The Islanders the No. 7 seed in the East; the Panthers are the No. 10 seed.

Varlamov and Greiss alternated the first 33 starts of the regular season. Varlamov, who signed a four-year, $20 million contract with the Islanders on July 1, 2019, had a 2.62 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage in 45 games (39 starts). Greiss, who will be an unrestricted free agent after the season, had a 2.74 GAA and a .913 save percentage in 31 games (29 starts). 

Greiss had a .944 save percentage in six games during the first round against the Panthers in 2016. 

Trotz said the Islanders are fully healthy and will have everyone available to play Saturday with the exception of goalie Ilya Sorokin, who signed with New York on July 14 and is ineligible to play this season. -- Brian Compton

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