One of the NHL’s fiercest rivalries could kick off the 2012-13 season.
That’s the word out of Pittsburgh on Wednesday evening as Rob Rossi of the Tribune-Review reports the NHL is targeting a Jan. 19 start date, with a game between the Flyers and Penguins — in Philadelphia — as one of the marquee games of the day.
According to Rossi’s sources, rivalry contests will highlight the opening day/night schedule, setting the tone for a 48-game regular season in which teams will reportedly play divisional opponents seven times and other conference foes twice.
More, from the Tribune-Review:
Philadelphia‘s Wells Fargo Center is booked for Penn State men‘s hockey in the evening, but the Flyers are tentatively scheduled to face the Calgary Flames at 1 p.m.
A 48-game schedule will preserve most of the previously booked arena dates, but matchups will change because clubs will play only in-conference opponents.
The Penguins-Flyers rivalry was arguably the league’s fiercest a year ago, culminating with an epic opening-round playoff series in which Philadelphia beat Pittsburgh in six games. The teams combined for 56 goals, 309 penalty minutes and three separate suspensions totaling six games.
The series also put the Claude Giroux-Sidney Crosby rivalry on a new plateau. The pair spent the offseason exchanging barbs, with Giroux accusing Crosby of injuring his wrists and Crosby saying he didn’t recall doing it — but that if he did, he wasn’t sorry about it.
Note: Before we all go getting ahead of ourselves with this report, some perspective — NHL schedule makers have contingency plans for a number of scenarios, so it’s unfair to suggest this indicated a new CBA has been reached.
Rossi also notes that “several sources” say the plans are subject to change.
Penguins center Sidney Crosby, Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson, and Panthers center Vincent Trocheck have been named the NHL’s three stars for the past week.
From the NHL:
Crosby led the League in goals and points (5-3-8) in three games as the Penguins (26-18-7, 59 points) earned four of a possible six points to secure the second Wild Card position in the Eastern Conference.
Karlsson led the League in assists and ranked second in points (0-7-7) in three games as the Senators (24-23-6, 54 points) won one of three starts for the week.
Trocheck notched six points (3-3—6) in three games, helping the Panthers (31-15-6, 68 points) widen their lead atop the Atlantic Division to six points.
Related: Red-hot Crosby could make Pens a flawed (but dangerous) dark horse
Evgeni Malkin‘s “nagging” lower-body injury will keep him out at least one more game.
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said this morning that the star center will sit out tonight at home against the Ducks. Malkin already missed two contests this weekend in Florida. His status is day-to-day.
The Penguins lost, 6-3, in Tampa on Friday, but rebounded Saturday with a 3-2 OT win over the Panthers.
Pittsburgh’s next game after tonight’s is Wednesday at home versus the Rangers.
The New York Rangers will be without Ryan McDonagh tonight at home to New Jersey, the club announcing this morning that the defenseman is out with a concussion.
McDonagh left Saturday’s game in Philadelphia following an altercation with the Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds that ended with McDonagh taking a punch to the face from Simmonds.
Simmonds received a match penalty and was thrown out of the game, but did not receive any supplemental discipline.
Given the standings, the Rangers can ill afford to lose McDonagh for long. They play in Pittsburgh Wednesday, followed by three home games against Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Chicago.
Tuesday night, Milan Lucic will play his first game in Boston as a member of the Los Angeles Kings.
It should be an emotional return for the big 27-year-old winger. In an interview with the L.A. Times, he recalled his time with his former club fondly, saying how great it was to be a “part of one of the best-ever eras to be a Bruin.”
A pending unrestricted free agent, Lucic also commented on his contract negotiations with the Kings.
“Nothing to get excited about,” he said. “There’s been two or three little talks here and there. My plan is to remain a King and hopefully finish off my career here. Like I said, I go day by day and you never know what tomorrow is going to bring.”
Lucic has 12 goals and 18 assists in 50 games this season. Though the Kings reportedly want to keep him, the question is whether they can find the cap space to make it happen.
Los Angeles already has Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Dustin Brown, Marian Gaborik, Kyle Clifford, Drew Doughty, Jake Muzzin, Alec Martinez, and Jonathan Quick locked up long term. Plus, Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson will require new deals after next season.
Related: Why Lucic is an interesting pending UFA