Today's starting goalies – October 9 [updated]

Whether you’re interested for fantasy hockey reasons or just want to know which goalie your team is playing in a given day, we thought it might be helpful to share our best guesses (based on various previews from newspapers and Web sites plus our own instincts) on who might start each day.

Note: I’ll update this periodically tonight so you can have time to set your rosters. 8:00 PM ET will be updated shortly.

7:00 PM ET games

Rangers at Sabres

Likely Rangers starter: Henrik Lundqvist – King Henrik should still get most of the starts in the Big Apple, but Martin Biron could be useful when it comes to giving the talented Swede the occasional breather. That might bring down the quantity stats just a touch, but could improve the quality of each start. (Source: Rangers Rants.)

Likely Sabres starter: Ryan Miller – Chances are, with a home opener, you start your Olympic Hero in net. I’d be very surprised if Ryan Miller didn’t play against Lundqvist tonight.

Stars at Islanders

Likely Stars starter: Kari Lehtonen – He should be the workhorse unless he gets hurt.

Likely Islanders starter: Rick Dipietro – So he’s really alive? I might need to see it to believe it. (Source: Katie Strang of New York Newsday.)

Canadiens at Penguins

Likely Penguins starter: Marc-Andre Fleury – Haven’t been able to track down confirmation on this game, but both goalies should get most of their starts and each one had the night off so there’s no worries of a back-to-back.

Likely Canadiens starter: Carey Price – see Fleury’s explanation.

Senators at Maple Leafs

Likely Senators starter: Pascal Leclaire – Maybe the funny looking goalie will find his long-lost groove after a rough couple seasons? He’s certainly getting paid to play the part of a No. 1 goalie, that’s for sure. (Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman.)

Likely Maple Leafs starter: J.S. Giguere – I guess Ron Wilson is rewarding Giguere for a strong first game? A slight surprise but perhaps he’ll start the season on a hot streak. It’s certainly another winnable game for both teams. (Source: The Toronto Star.)

Devils at Capitals

Likely Devils starter: Martin Brodeur – Again, Brodeur is going to get something like 95 percent of New Jersey’s starts.

Likely Capitals starter: Michal Neuvirth – With Varlamov on the mend, expect Neuvirth to get most (if not all) of the nods in D.C. (Source: Washington Post.)

7:30 PM ET game

Thrashers at Lightning

Likely Thrashers starter: Chris Mason – Considering Ondrej Pavelec’s scary fall, it’s not surprising that Mason will be the starter tonight. He’s a perfectly suitable backup/1b anyway.

Likely Lightning starter: Mike Smith Perhaps Dan Ellis is serving a one-game suspension for using Twitter too much? This could be an interesting goalie duel in Tampa Bay. (Source: Tampa Bay Lightning’s Twitter page.)

8:00 PM ET games

Flyers at Blues

Likely Flyers starter: Brian Boucher – Some might be surprised that Sergei Bobrovsky won’t get the start, but with Michael Leighton out 6-8 weeks it’s wise to give both goalies a fair shake at the top job. (Source: Philadelphia Flyers Twitter Feed.)

Likely Blues starter: Jaroslav Halak – I really like the Blues goalie rotation, but they have very clear roles: Halak is the starter and Ty Conklin is the backup. Halak should be pretty familiar with the Flyers as they were the team that splashed a bucket full of reality on the Montreal Canadiens’ hot streak during the playoffs.

Ducks at Predators

Likely Ducks starter: Jonas Hiller – Last night was a rough one for the Swiss goalie, but the team doesn’t have many goalie options outside of him. Expect him to take the majority of the starts, even on back-to-back days. (Source: OC Register.)

Likely Predators starter: Pekka Rinne –  With Dan Ellis in Tampa Bay, most of the day-to-day intrigue about who might start for Nashville is gone. Expect Rinne most nights.

8:30 PM ET game

Red Wings at Blackhawks

Likely Red Wings starter: Chris Osgood – Much like the Flyers with Sergei Bobrovsky, the Red Wings are allowing their 1b a start even though Jimmy Howard earned a goose egg against the Ducks last night. I think it’s a good move, even though Osgood tends to need smelling salts before the playoffs begin. (Source: Ansar Khan.)

Likely Blackhawks starter: Marty Turco – There will be some pressure on Turco to succeed as Chicago raises its Stanley Cup banner tonight. Luckily, this game isn’t in Detroit, so Turco at least has a chance to succeed. (Source: Chris Kuc.)

10:00 PM ET game

Kings at Canucks

Likely Kings starter: Jonathan Quick – I’m on record of saying that the other Jonathan (Bernier) could be a genuine threat to steal the top job (or at least promote himself from “1b” to “1a”), but so far the Kings are resolute in saying that Quick is their man. (Source: Los Angeles Times.)

Likely Canucks starter: Roberto Luongo – Vancouver is more or less married to Luongo for … oh, the next decade or so. Unless Corey Schneider pulls a Tuukka Rask and steals the starting job during the season, of course.

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    Vegas Golden Knights provide a new template for expansion teams

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    Dan Bouchard can appreciate, better than most, the Miracle in the Desert.

    He was a goalie for the expansion Atlanta Flames back in the 1970s, so he knows how difficult it is to build a competitive team from scratch.

    ”It’s astonishing what they’ve done in Vegas,” said Bouchard, who still lives in the Atlanta area, when reached by phone this week. ”I think it’s the greatest thing to happen to hockey since the Miracle on Ice,” he added, referring to the seminal U.S. upset of the mighty Soviet Union at the 1980 Olympics. ”It’s that good.”

    Indeed, Vegas has set a new norm for expansion teams in all sports. No longer will it be acceptable to enter a league with a squad full of dregs and take your lumps for a few years, all while fans willingly pay big-league prices to watch an inferior product.

    The Golden Knights have come up with a stunning new template for how this expansion thing can be done.

    They romped to the Pacific Division title with 51 wins. In the opening round of the playoffs, they finished off the Los Angeles Kings in four straight games , casting aside a franchise that has a pair of Stanley Cup titles this decade while becoming the first expansion team in NHL history to sweep a postseason series in its debut year.

    Imagine how storied franchises in Montreal and Detroit and Edmonton must be feeling right about now.

    They didn’t even make the playoffs.

    From Bouchard’s perspective, it’s all good. Vegas’ success right out of the starting gate will make everyone raise their game in the years to come.

    ”This will wake up the teams that are sitting on $90 million budgets and not doing anything,” he said. ”People will say, ‘If Vegas can do it, we can do it.’ That’s a paradigm shift in the game.”

    [NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

    When one considers how NHL expansion teams have fared over the years, the Vegas story becomes even more compelling.

    The Golden Knights are the first new team in the NHL’s modern era to have a winning record in their inaugural season, a period that began in 1967 and encompasses 26 new franchises (including one, the ill-fated California Seals, who are no longer around).

    Only six other first-year teams have made the playoffs – and that includes four that were assured of postseason berths in the landmark 1967 expansion. You see, when the NHL finally broke out of its Original Six format, doubling in size to a dozen teams, it placed all the new franchises in the same division, with the top four getting postseason berths even with sub-.500 records.

    Until the Golden Knights came along, the Florida Panthers were the gold standard for NHL expansion. They finished one game below .500 in their first season (1993-94) and missed the playoffs by a single point. In Year 3, they had their first winning record and made it all the way to the Stanley Cup final, though they were swept by the Colorado Avalanche.

    That remains the closest the Panthers have come to winning a title.

    In Sin City, the wait for a championship figures to be much shorter. Heck, the Golden Knights might do it this year.

    They’re 12 wins away from hoisting the Stanley Cup in a city that has always had a soft spot for long shots.

    ”We’re still a few wins away from this being a great story,” said goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, a key contributor to the Golden Knights success.

    Even now, it seems like a bit of dream to coach Gerard Gallant, who thankfully will be remembered for something other than getting left at the curb to hail his own cab after being fired by the Panthers.

    ”When this all started in October, we just wanted to compete,” Gallant said. ”Now we’re going to the second round of the playoffs. It’s unreal.”

    For sure, the Golden Knights wound up with a much more talented roster than most expansion teams – partly through astute planning, partly through getting access to better players as a reward for doling out a staggering $500 million expansion fee, which was a more than six-fold increase over the $80 million required of Minnesota and Columbus to enter the league in 2000.

    The expansion draft netted a top-line goalie in Fleury, who helped Pittsburgh win three Stanley Cups; center Jonathan Marchessault, a 30-goal scorer in Florida who was surprisingly left exposed by the Panthers; and winger James Neal, who had scored more than 20 goals in all nine of his NHL seasons. It also provided a solid group of defensemen: Colin Miller, Nate Schmidt, Deryk Engelland and Brayden McNabb.

    In addition, the Golden Knights wisely nabbed young Swedish center William Karlsson, who hadn’t done much in Columbus but became Vegas’ leading scorer with 43 goals and 35 assists.

    ”They’ve got some top centers. They’ve got some real good defense. They’ve got good goaltending,” Bouchard observed. ”They went right down the middle. That’s how the built it. Then they complemented it with the fastest guys they could get their hands on. They went for speed.”

    Previous expansion teams didn’t have it nearly as good.

    Bouchard actually played on one of the better first-year teams when the Flames entered the league in 1972. They were in playoff contention much of the season and finished with more points than four other teams in the 16-team league, including the storied Toronto Maple Leafs.

    But that was a team that had to struggle for every win. The Flames had only three 20-goal scorers and were largely carried by their two young goalies, Bouchard and Phil Myre.

    ”We didn’t have a bona fide 30-goal scorer,” Bouchard recalled. ”We had a lot of muckers.”

    That was then.

    The Golden Knights have shown how it should be done.

    If expansion teams are going to fork over enormous fees for the chance to play, they should have access to a much better pool of potential players.

    They should have a chance to win right away.

    That way, everyone wins.

    Paul Newberry is a sports columnist for The Associated Press.

    AP Sports Writer Beth Harris in Los Angeles contributed to this column.

    For more AP NHL coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey

    The Buzzer: Bolts send Devils packing, Caps jump ahead, Leafs extend series

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    Three games on Saturday

    Tampa Bay Lightning 3, New Jersey Devils 1 (Lightning win series 4-1)

    The Devils were one of the biggest surprises in the NHL this season, but their 2017-18 campaign officially came to an end on Saturday. They’ll be disappointed, but this season was a success for the group. As for the Bolts, they’ve punched their ticket to the second round after a terrific regular season. The Lightning received point-per-game production from Nikita Kucherov (1o points), Steven Stamkos (6 points) and Alex Killorn (5 points), but they also had 14 different players pick up a point during the series.

     Washington Capitals 4, Blue Jackets 3 (OT) (Capitals lead series 3-2)

    Four of the five games in the series have gone to overtime. Game 5 was a typical back and forth affair, as the Jackets scored first before the Capitals went up 2-1. Columbus tied the game, Washington went ahead, again, 3-2, but a dominant third period led to the Blue Jackets forcing overtime. Nicklas Backstrom tipped-home the game-winning goal in overtime to give the Capitals the first home win of the series. This has clearly been the best first-round series of the playoffs.

    Toronto Maple Leafs 4, Boston Bruins 3 (Bruins lead series 3-2)

    The Maple Leafs jumped out to 2-0 and 4-1 leads, but the Bruins managed to make things interesting in the third period. Boston had a number of power play opportunities, but they couldn’t cash in. Unfortunately for the Bruins, they’ll have to go back on the road to try to put the Leafs to bed. The Leafs managed to keep Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand off the scoresheet on Saturday. Replicating that two more times won’t be easy.

    Three Stars

    1. Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals

    Backstrom scored two goals, including the overtime winner against the Blue Jackets in Game 5. He also added an assist on T.J. Oshie‘s go-ahead goal late in the second frame. The win gave the Caps a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series. The 30-year-old has two goals and eight points in five games this postseason.

    2. Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals

    The Capitals had a one-goal lead heading into the third frame, but they were badly outplayed in the third period. Holtby is the biggest reason why Washington was able to make it to overtime at all. The Blue Jackets outshot the Capitals 16-1 in the third frame. Holtby had a rough season, but his play in Game 5 was very encouraging.

    3. Frederik Andersen, Toronto Maple Leafs

    The Maple Leafs had to kill a number of penalties during their Game 5 win over the Bruins, and Andersen was one of the key reasons they were able to do so. The Leafs netminder faced at least 40 shots for the third time in five games (he’s 2-1 in those contests). If Toronto wants to force a seventh game, they’ll need him to turn in another fantastic performance on Monday night.

    Factoid of the Night

    Sunday’s Schedule

    Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Philadelphia Flyers, 3:00 p.m. ET

    Nashville Predators vs. Colorado Avalanche, 7:00 p.m. ET

    Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

    Leafs chase Rask, hold on to win Game 5

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    The Toronto Maple Leafs came into Saturday’s game facing elimination, but they managed to force a sixth game, thanks to a 4-3 win over the Boston Bruins.

    The Maple Leafs built up a 2-0 lead heading into the first intermission with goals from Connor Brown and Andreas Johnsson. They would increase it to a 4-1 lead in the second period. That’s when the Bruins pulled Tuukka Rask in favor of backup Anton Khudobin.

    After the goalie swap, Sean Kuraly managed to cut the deficit to 4-2 before the end of the frame.

    [NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

    Toronto did their best to blow their lead, as they took penalty after penalty in the second half of the game. The Leafs took the final four penalties, but the Bruins failed to convert on their opportunities on the man-advantage. They even gave the Bruins a 5-on-3 power play for over 1:30 before Kuraly scored moments later.

    Goalie Frederik Andersen turned aside 42 of 45 shots. This was the third time in five games that he faced at least 40 shots in this series.

    The Leafs will now return home for Game 6 on Monday night. They’ll need to perform more like they did in the first half of Saturday’s game if they want to force Game 7 in Boston.

    Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

    Backstrom provides OT winner as Capitals take 3-2 series lead

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    The Washington Capitals are on the verge of the second round.

    Yes, the Capitals, who began the series with back-to-back losses in Game 1 and 2 to the Columbus Blue Jackets, are now on the brink of eliminating Ohio’s team after Nicklas Backstrom‘s deft deflection in overtime gave the Capitals their third straight win and a 3-2 series lead.

    It was the fourth time in the series both clubs played to a tie in regulation. After Columbus won the first two in OT, Washington replied with a win in double-overtime in Game 3 before Backstrom ended Game 5 at the 11:53 mark of the first frame of free hockey.

    Backstrom scored his first goal of the series to open the scoring for the Caps and assisted for the sixth time in the series on the go-ahead goal in the second period before Oliver Bjorkstrand tied it in third.

    [NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

    Braden Holtby had to be sharp, especially in the third period as, inexplicably, the Caps were outshot 16-1. At home. Holtby made 40 saves when it was all said and done.

    Two-hundred feet away, Sergei Bobrovsky was up to the task, making some silly stops including a big one on Alex Ovechkin earlier in overtime and a bigger one in regulation time off the same man’s stick.

    Game 6 of this series is slated for Monday in Columbus, with a start time still to be determined.

    In his post-game comments, Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella said, twice, that his team will be back in the capital for Game 7.

    The promise has been made.


    Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck