NHL releases preseason schedule

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Only a month and a half until preseason hockey. It’s not quite as good as regular season hockey, but it sounds better than “two months until hockey.” In the middle of summer, hockey fans will take what they can get. It may not be as appealing as playoff hockey—but it’s not baseball either.

This year’s preseason schedule features a few NHL visits to American non-NHL cities like Baltimore, Orlando, Albany, Charlotte, Kansas City, Bridgeport, and Las Vegas. (That is the first and last time that Bridgeport, CT and Las Vegas, NV will ever be mentioned in the same sentence). Canada will be spreading the love as well when Quebec City, St. John’s, Halifax, London (Ontario, not England), and Saskatoon get to check out NHL action in their fair cities. Some of the teams that are traveling across the pond for the NHL Premiere will engage in preseason contests with the locals (as has become tradition): the Rangers, Sabres, Ducks, and Kings are all scheduled to take on European competition before they drop the puck on the regular season.

Here’s the full preseason schedule from the NHL’s official release:

2011-12 NHL PRE-SEASON SCHEDULE (all times Eastern)

MONDAY, SEPT. 19

Nashville at Florida (split-squad doubleheader), 3 p.m.
Carolina at Buffalo, 7 p.m.
Ottawa at Toronto, 7 p.m.
Nashville at Florida (split-squad doubleheader), 7:30 p.m.

TUESDAY, SEPT. 20

Philadelphia at Toronto, 7 p.m.
Winnipeg at Columbus (split squads), 7 p.m.
Nashville vs. Washington, at Baltimore, Md. (1st Mariner Arena), 7 p.m.
Dallas at Montreal, 7:30 p.m.
Tampa Bay at St. Louis, 8 p.m.
Chicago vs. Edmonton (split squad), at Saskatoon, Sask. (Credit Union Centre), 8 p.m.
Columbus at Winnipeg (split squads), 8:30 p.m.
Minnesota at Edmonton (split squad), 9 p.m.
Vancouver at Calgary (split squads), 9 p.m.
Calgary at Vancouver (split squads), 10 p.m.
Phoenix at Anaheim, 10 p.m.

WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 21

Toronto at Philadelphia, 7 p.m.
Washington at Columbus, 7 p.m.
Detroit at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m.
St. Louis vs. Tampa Bay, at Orlando, Fla. (Amway Center), 7 p.m.
New Jersey vs. NY Rangers, at Albany, N.Y. (Times Union Center), 7 p.m.
Buffalo at Montreal, 7:30 p.m.
Boston at Ottawa, 7:30 p.m.
San Jose at Anaheim, 10 p.m.
Los Angeles at Phoenix (split squads), 10 p.m.
Phoenix at Los Angeles (split squads), 10:30 p.m.

THURSDAY, SEPT. 22

Chicago at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m.
Detroit vs. Philadelphia, at London, Ont. (John Labatt Centre), 7 p.m.
Minnesota at St. Louis, 8 p.m.
Colorado at Dallas, 8:30 p.m.
Vancouver at Edmonton, 9 p.m.

FRIDAY, SEPT. 23

NY Islanders at Boston, 7 p.m.
Buffalo at Toronto, 7 p.m.
Nashville at Carolina, 7 p.m.
NY Rangers at New Jersey, 7 p.m.
Philadelphia at Detroit, 7:30 p.m.
Florida at Tampa Bay, 7:30 p.m.
Montreal at Ottawa, 7:30 p.m.
Washington at Chicago, 8 p.m.
Columbus at Minnesota, 8 p.m.
St. Louis at Colorado, 9 p.m.
Anaheim at San Jose, 10:30 p.m.

SATURDAY, SEPT. 24

Minnesota at Pittsburgh, 3 p.m.
Toronto at Buffalo, 7 p.m.
Ottawa at Montreal, 7 p.m.
New Jersey at NY Islanders, 7 p.m.
Tampa Bay at Florida, 7:30 p.m.
Winnipeg at Nashville, 8 p.m.
St. Louis at Dallas, 8 p.m.
Calgary at Edmonton, 8 p.m.
Anaheim at Vancouver, 10 p.m.
Phoenix at San Jose, 10:30 p.m.

SUNDAY, SEPT. 25

Chicago at Detroit, 5 p.m.
Buffalo at Columbus, 5 p.m.
Carolina vs. Winnipeg, at Charlotte, N.C. (Time Warner Cable Arena), 5 p.m.
Boston vs. Montreal, at Halifax, N.S. (Metro Centre), 6 p.m.
Dallas at Colorado, 8 p.m.
Edmonton at Calgary, 8 p.m.
San Jose at Vancouver, 9 p.m.
Anaheim at Los Angeles, 9:30 p.m.

MONDAY, SEPT. 26

Ottawa vs. Winnipeg, at St. John’s, Nfld. (Mile One Centre), 4 p.m.
Columbus at Washington, 7 p.m.
NY Rangers at Philadelphia, 7 p.m.
Boston at Montreal, 7:30 p.m.

TUESDAY, SEPT. 27

Dallas at Florida, 7:30 p.m.
Toronto at Ottawa, 7:30 p.m.
St. Louis at Minnesota, 8 p.m.
Los Angeles vs. Pittsburgh, at Kansas City, Mo. (Sprint Center), 8 p.m.
Phoenix at Edmonton, 9 p.m.
NY Islanders at Calgary, 9 p.m.

WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 28

Washington at Nashville, 8 p.m.
Carolina at Winnipeg, 8:30 p.m.
Detroit at Chicago, 8:30 p.m.
Los Angeles at Colorado, 9 p.m.
Vancouver at Anaheim, 10 p.m.

THURSDAY, SEPT. 29

NY Rangers vs. Sparta Prague, at Prague, Czech Republic (TESLA Arena), 1 p.m.
Ottawa at Boston, 7 p.m.
New Jersey at Philadelphia, 7 p.m.
Minnesota at Columbus, 7 p.m.
Tampa Bay at Montreal, 7:30 p.m.
Colorado at St. Louis, 8 p.m.
Florida at Dallas, 8:30 p.m.
Phoenix at Calgary, 9 p.m.
Vancouver at San Jose, 10:30 p.m.

FRIDAY, SEPT. 30

NY Rangers vs. Frolunda, at Gothenburg, Sweden (Scandinavium), 1 p.m.
Buffalo at Washington, 7 p.m.
NY Islanders at New Jersey, 7 p.m.
Columbus at Carolina, 7 p.m.
Toronto at Detroit, 7:30 p.m.
Edmonton at Minnesota, 8 p.m.
Pittsburgh at Chicago, 8:30 p.m.
Nashville at Winnipeg, 8:30 p.m.
Los Angeles at Anaheim, 10 p.m.

SATURDAY, OCT. 1

Dallas at St. Louis, 2:30 p.m.
Detroit at Toronto, 7 p.m.
Philadelphia at New Jersey, 7 p.m.
Montreal vs. Tampa Bay, at Quebec City, Que. (Colisée Pepsi), 7 p.m.
Boston vs. NY Islanders, at Bridgeport, Conn. (Webster Bank Arena), 7 p.m.
Carolina at Nashville, 8 p.m.
Colorado vs. Los Angeles, at Las Vegas, Nev. (MGM Grand), 9 p.m.
San Jose at Phoenix, 10 p.m.
Edmonton at Vancouver, 10 p.m.

SUNDAY, OCT. 2

NY Rangers vs. HC Slovan, at Bratislava, Slovakia (SLOVNAFT Arena), 11 a.m.
Pittsburgh at Detroit, 5 p.m.
Chicago at Washington, 5 p.m.

MONDAY, OCT. 3

NY Rangers vs. EV Zug, at Zug, Switzerland (Bossard Arena), 2 p.m.

TUESDAY, OCT. 4

Anaheim vs. Jokerit, at Helsinki, Finland (Hartwall Arena), 12 p.m.
Los Angeles vs. Hamburg, at Hamburg, Germany (02 World Hamburg Arena), 1 p.m.
Buffalo vs. Adler Mannheim, at Mannheim, Germany (SAP Arena), 1:30 p.m.

Looks like Laine, Jets are heating up

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Big breaks can be really nice for NHL teams, but sometimes you wonder if the timing is all wrong. It will be interesting to see if the Winnipeg Jets (and Patrik Laine) feel that way about their upcoming breather.

The Jets had really been cooking after shaking off a tough start from Steve Mason (the Jets dropped their first two games in ugly fashion). By edging the Minnesota Wild 4-3 on Friday, the Jets have now won four of their last five contests.

As you can see from the video above, Laine played a significant role in that win, showing that he might have some potential from “Alex Ovechkin‘s office” on Winnipeg’s power play. Laine doubled his 2017-18 goals total from two to four with that effort, pushing him to six points in seven games.

Laine was unleashing that lethal shot with aplomb last night, too, firing eight shots on goal.

(Last night’s edition of The Buzzer notes that it was a milestone night for Paul Maurice and Blake Wheeler, who collected his 200th assist in sending the puck to Laine’s wheelhouse.)

The Jets have high hopes for 2017-18, and Laine’s a big part of that excitement, so it was nice to see him unleashed.

If it’s a matter of rhythm, then this break is a bummer. Their next game doesn’t take place until Thursday, making for almost a week off, just when they were really sizzling. It’s a tough haul for the next while, so maybe they’ll take advantage of the break (or get rusty?):

Thu, Oct 26 @ Pittsburgh
Fri, Oct 27 @ Columbus
Sun, Oct 29 vs Pittsburgh
Tue, Oct 31 @ Minnesota

November isn’t a breezy month for the Jets, either, so Winnipeg has to hope that they can carry over some of this momentum.

For more Jets-related fun, check out this interesting NHL.com piece about how Connor Hellebuyck is changing things up.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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Look at what Rangers are up against right now

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You have to really squint to find bright sides to look on if you’re the New York Rangers.

The Rangers are currently on a five-game losing streak and have one shabby win to show for their first eight games of 2017-18, and they’ll shortly face a challenge in the Nashville Predators, who are riding a five-game point streak (4-0-1 after losing their first two games).

With six of those eight games coming at home, the Rangers are really squandering opportunities in the malicious Metro. About the only positive things you can say boil down to: a) scrapping two “loser points” out of the past two games and b) the team at least saying the right things, as Rick Nash notes according to the New York Post’s Larry Brooks.

“The bad teams I’ve been on, guys get away from the game plan, they don’t give the effort and there’s finger-pointing, whether in the room between guys; from the coach; or in the media. That’s what happens when things get away from you as a team.

“None of that is happening here,” Nash said. “We’re together and we’re focusing on taking this one step at a time.”

They might be wise not to look at the divisional standings. Just consider some of the teams they’re up against:

Devils (12 points in 8 games): New Jersey currently has a perfect road record and a fleet of young legs, something the transitional Rangers must envy. Even if they’re likely to slip (being blanked by the Sharks could be an early sign of regression), the Devils figure to be a tougher out this season.

Penguins (11 points in 8 games): Not much needs to be said, though it’s worth noting that they’ve won three in a row.

Blue Jackets (10 points in 7 games): All signs point to former Rangers coach John Tortorella’s group being very much the threat that once surprised us.

Capitals (9 points in 8 games): Finding ways to win, and scrappy in particular on the road so far (3-1-1 away record).

Flyers (8 points in 7 games): Might be better than their record indicates, at least judging by their +9 goal differential. Philly has the potential to at least be a pesky “bubble” team.

Hurricanes (7 points in 5 games): Light early schedule might keep them under the radar, for now.

Islanders (7 points in 7 games): Mixed results might not help the Islanders retain John Tavares, but a competent Isles team would only make it tougher for the Rangers.

Yeesh, kind of discouraging, right?

The Rangers currently sit at four points in eight games played, and like this post argues, they really need to wake up soon. They’ve already played six home vs. two road contests, and they face a similar saturation of MSG going forward.

Counting today’s game hosting the rising Predators, the Rangers play the next three in a row at home. After that, they play three of four on the road, but then enjoy a three-game homestand.

So, by Nov. 11, they’ll have played 13 games at home and just five on the road.

One gets the sense that the seat is getting hotter for Alain Vigneault by the day. Fair or not, it might feel like it’s boiling if the Rangers are still a wreck in mid-November.

(If he still has a seat at the table, at all.)

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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Devils fans help singer who forgot words to national anthem (Video)

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The biggest save of the night at Prudential Center on Friday didn’t come from either goaltender, but rather New Jersey Devils fans in attendance for their game against the San Jose Sharks.

Lauralie Mufute began singing the national anthem but midway through forgot the words. That’s when the crowd of 14,381 picked up where the 14-year-old left off and finished the song.

A great job by the crowd in what certainly was a terrifying moment for the young performer.

These flaps happen, as we’ve seen many times before in different situations. It’s always good to know the crowd can act as backup singers in times of need.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

The Buzzer: Ovechkin’s blast lifts Capitals in OT, Sheary speeds by Panthers

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Player of the night: Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals

Alex Ovechkin has already reached double digits in goals scored in this new campaign. The Capitals’ star recorded his 10th goal of the season on Friday and it counted as the overtime winner against the Detroit Red Wings.

The Capitals trailed late in the third period, but T.J. Oshie scored the tying goal and Ovechkin won it on a power play less than two minutes into the extra period, as he deployed that famous one-timer slap shot from his off-wing. This time, Petr Mrazek was victimized by the wicked slapper.

Ovechkin is now only two goals behind the entire Montreal Canadiens team — in the same amount of games.

Highlight of the night:

What a weapon speed is in today’s National Hockey League. Conor Sheary illustrated that once again, as he saw a little bit of room down the left side and flew around Alex Petrovic before making a move to the backhand on James Reimer. That goal counted as the eventual winner, as the Penguins defeated the Panthers 4-3. Earlier in the third period, Sheary and Roberto Luongo came together near the Florida net, causing Luongo’s right hand to get caught against the post, injuring the Panthers’ netminder.

Factoid of the night:

It was a milestone night in Winnipeg for Blake Wheeler and coach Paul Maurice.

Scores:

Vancouver 4, Buffalo 2

San Jose 3, New Jersey 0

Washington 4, Detroit 3 (OT)

Pittsburgh 4, Florida 3

Winnipeg 4, Minnesota 3

Anaheim 6, Montreal 2

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Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

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