Around the rink – Tuesday, November 9th

Now with the Hockey Hall of Fame hoopla over and done with, the NHL gets back into more regular working order with a scintillating slate of seven games. Is that enough alliteration for you? All times listed are Eastern because that’s the way we lean.

7:00 pm

Edmonton @ Carolina

It’s crazy to think that it was just five seasons ago that these two teams met in the Stanley Cup finals, isn’t it? Youth will dominate the headlines here with Edmonton’s trio of talent in Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, and Magnus Paajarvi going up against leading rookie scorer Jeff Skinner in Carolina. The Oilers could use another win here to build off their win over Chicago on Sunday.

7:30 pm

Washington @ NY Rangers

The Rangers might be in a bad way right now, but playing the Caps is something that seems to bring the best out of them win or lose. The Caps are coming in hot though, living high off beating the Flyers on Sunday and a lot of that success coming thanks to Alexander Semin. Semin’s got nine goals so far this year and leads the team in goals. Yes, even ahead of Alex Ovechkin. The Rangers, meanwhile, might be counting down the days until Thursday when Marian Gaborik may be rejoining the team.

Vancouver @ Montreal

Vancouver hits the road with a six game win streak and gets to deal with the unfriendly confines of Montreal to kick things off. Vancouver is doing well and have player of the week Raffi Torres to thank for it. Torres’ hot start is helping keep a balanced attack going so teams can’t solely focus on the Sedin twins. Montreal looks to bounce back after a rough game against Ottawa in which they saw Alex Kovalev almost single-handedly beat them. The Habs could stand to get the offense going as they rank 20th in the league in goals scored.

Atlanta @ Ottawa

The Senators roll into this game seemingly having figured things out. The Sens lost five of their first six games to start the season, but now they’re winners of five out of their last six games and they’ve got goalie Brian Elliott to thank for it. Elliott’s played strong of late and the offense hasn’t been too bad either. Atlanta, meanwhile, can’t keep opponents off the board as they come into the game with the second-most goals allowed in the league. The Thrashers are getting plenty of their own goals but Chris Mason and Ondrej Pavelec have had issues in goal of late.

Toronto @ Tampa Bay

Fans in Toronto are grumbling about head coach Ron Wilson and the natives are getting restless after seeing the Leafs lose their last five games, their last two coming in shootouts. They’ve lost eight of their last nine games and the offense has been nowhere to be seen. As for Tampa Bay, they’ll be happy to no longer be on the road after getting rough treatment on their west coast swing going 1-2-1 on the trip. A game with the Leafs might be all the Lightning need to get back on a roll.

9:30 pm

Calgary @ Colorado

All right so which Flames team will we see tonight? Which Avalanche team will show up? The Avalanche have been inconsistent while the Flames have been downright streaky. Calgary enters the game losers of their last four games, a streak that came on the heels of a three-game win streak. Go figure. Colorado, meanwhile, is living well so far without Craig Anderson as Peter Budaj has played more than solid while Anderson’s out with an injury including earning a shutout against Dallas his last time out.

10:30 pm

Anaheim @ San Jose

Will it be fight night for these two teams again? These two clearly don’t care for each other and now they’re both playing relatively well all things considered. The Sharks got a big win in their first game without Joe Thornton thanks to Patrick Marleau’s two goal night. Anaheim, meanwhile, is getting it done thanks to both goalie Jonas Hiller and ageless wonder Teemu Selanne. Go ahead and tell us you predicted that before the season started and we’ll happily call you a liar.

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    Sounds like Blues will be more aggressive

    GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 06:  Head coach Ken Hitchcock of the St. Louis Blues watches from the bench during the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on January 6, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. The Blues defeated the Coyotes 6-0.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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    With their former captain now a member of the Boston Bruins and their coach on year-to-year deals, it’s appropriate to say that the St. Louis Blues are in a period of transitions.

    It’s also a convenient choice of words, as it sounds like the Blues are going to change the way they transition on the ice.

    That’s the indication given by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and players like Chris Porter approve.

    “The play in the neutral zone will fit this team great with the speed and the size that they already have in place,” Porter said. “I don’t think it’s a huge adjustment for the guys, I think it’s just a little tweak here or there.”

    Perhaps hiring Mike Yeo had something to do with taking a more modern approach?

    Either way, getting more aggressive makes a lot of sense for the Blues, at least on paper.

    With David Backes and Troy Brouwer out of town, younger and speedier players get to take more of a role. Some Blues fans will probably view this tweak – big or small – as a long time coming.

    Of course, there’s a give-and-take when it comes to situations like these, and becoming more attack-minded sure makes retaining Kevin Shattenkirk that much more important. The underrated blueliner still expects to be moved despite being named an alternate captain, yet you wonder if these changes might prompt GM Doug Armstrong to try to pull some strings to keep him around.

    (Giving Alexander Steen a contract extension means that much less room for the likes of Shattenkirk.)

    Even if the Blues eventually need to part ways with Shattenkirk, there are some other nice assets who can use this change as a catalyst to push this team up another level.

    In an ideal scenario, the Blues would enjoy those improvements and keep Shattenkirk to reap those rewards.

    Update: Clarke MacArthur suffers concussion

    BUFFALO, NY - OCTOBER 8: Clarke MacArthur #16 of the Ottawa Senators skates with the puck during the game against the Buffalo Sabres at the First Niagara Center on October 8, 2015 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Tom Brenner/ Getty Images)
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    Update: As many feared, Clarke MacArthur suffered a concussion. The Ottawa Senators announced that he will be “evaluated daily.”

    ***

    Rough news for the Ottawa Senators on Sunday: forward Clarke MacArthur needed help off the ice following a big hit during a team scrimmage.

    The hit was delivered by Patrick Sieloff, prompting an immediate response from Bobby Ryan, according to The Hockey News’ Murray Pam.

    MacArthur has been hoping to return to NHL action after some serious concussion issues, so this is a troubling situation. More than a few people wonder if this might end his career.

    Update: Here’s a GIF of the hit.

    Robin Lehner certainly has swagger

    ANAHEIM, CA - FEBRUARY 24:  Robin Lehner #40 of the Buffalo Sabres stretches during the first period of a game against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on February 24, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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    Robin Lehner is a big goalie, and barring possible language barrier issues, sure seems to have a pretty big personality.

    That at least seems to be the case with the Buffalo Sabres’ top guy, who provided the Buffalo News’ John Vogl with a great quote:

    “There’s a lot of pressure on me, and that’s fine. … I know I’m a good goaltender,” Lehner said.

    Hey now.

    As much as the Sabres feel like a work in progress, acquiring Lehner was one of GM Tim Murray’s boldest moves. Murray was able to observe Lehner in Ottawa, and despite some struggles, the big Swede (6-foot-5, 240 lbs.) was sneaky-good in 2015-16.

    Twenty-one games serves as a limited sample size, yet a .924 save percentage seems quite promising. His 107 career regular season games are spread over six seasons, so to some extent, the 25-year-old is still something of an unknown entity.

    If nothing else, it looks like he could provide some Bryzgalovian entertainment.

    Back in March, Ben Scrivens admitted he was happy to avoid a fight with a guy he called a “bit of a psycho.”

    Sounds like a guy to watch.

    Team Europe is happy to play underdog role

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    TORONTO (AP) When the World Cup of Hockey started, Team Europe was not picked as a team to beat.

    In fact, the unique team made up of eight nations outside of the continent’s traditional hockey powers was expected to be out of the best-on-best tournament.

    Team Europe had other plans.

    The blended group of players opened the tournament with a 3-0 win over the U.S. and then beat the Czech Republic in overtime to seal a spot in the semifinals before losing to Canada.

    “I know nobody really expected us to be here right now,” Danish and Detroit Red Wings forward Frans Nielsen said Saturday. “But when you look in the room and go over the team, there’s not a lot of players better than (Anze) Kopitar in this tournament. We got (Marian) Hossa. We got some good guys on the backend and good goaltending.”

    The Europeans will face Sweden on Sunday for a spot in the best-of-three finals against the winner of Saturday night’s Canada-Russia game.

    When Team Europe players have faced Sweden for their countries – Switzerland, Denmark, Slovakia, France, Germany, Slovenia, Austria and Norway – in previous, they didn’t have a legitimate chance to win.

    They do now.

    A veteran group of skaters and a star in Kopitar along with Slovak and New York Islanders goaltender Jaroslav Halak give them a shot on any sheet of ice.

    “He’s the kind of goalie that almost every night, he gives you a chance to win,” said Nielsen, who played with Halak in New York. “And, he’ll make that save when you need it.”

    Team Europe coach Ralph Krueger said he’ll likely save his rah-rah speeches for another team because this one simply doesn’t need it.

    Krueger began to sense something special was in store for Team Europe nearly a year ago when several candidates to be on the team met when Boston and the New York Islanders played. When the entire group gathered nearly three weeks ago in Quebec, Krueger got even more excited about the natural chemistry the team already had from their shared experiences.

    “We didn’t have to do a lot of extra team-building,” Krueger said. “It just happened with a combination of leadership and personalities and character and will – of pure will – of these eight nations that are forever underdogs, forever going home when the final four is staged, forever watching other teams play in finals of best of best. That opportunity has fueled the fire that taken us here.”

    Follow Larry Lage at http://www.twitter.com/larrylage and follow his work at http://www.bigstory.ap.org/content/larry-lage