Washington Capitals v Philadelphia Flyers

Flyers’ Meszaros uncertain he’ll be ready to start season


The Philadelphia blueline could be thin to start the season.

Already without the services of Chris Pronger, the Flyers aren’t certain they’ll have Andrej Meszaros available for the proposed Jan. 19 start date — he’s still dealing with the after effects of a torn Achilles, according to CSN Philadelphia’s Tim Panaccio.

“Sometimes I am really sore and I can’t push off,” Meszaros explained. “I’m still weak [in the heel area]. It’s a matter of time before I get my strength back.”

Meszaros tore his Achilles in August and resumed skating in November. Give it’s now January, that might seem like ample time to rehab an injury — but do keep in mind the timetable for recovery varies greatly.

New Jersey’s Travis Zajac tore his Achilles last August and returned to action on Dec. 16, a four month recovery period. But after playing in just eight games, he was shut down by team doctors for another two months.

All told, Zajac missed 67 regular season games (though he did play in all 24 of the Devils’ playoff games.)

Ex-Flyer Justin Williams tore his in Sept. 2008 while playing for Carolina. His return was borderline remarkable, getting back into game action on Dec. 4 — a three month recovery period.

Williams went on to play 44 games that year, though he struggled (just 14 points and a minus-8 rating.)

When asked, Meszaros was uncertain if he’d be able to open should the season start in two weeks’ time.

“I don’t know,” he said. “It’s tough to say.”

Without Meszaros, the Flyers defense is looking at a top-four of Kimmo Timonen, Braydon Coburn, Nicklas Grossmann and Luke Schenn, with Bruno Gervais, Andreas Lilja, Marc-Andre Bourdon, Erik Gustafsson and Brandon Manning battling for spots five and six.

PHT Morning Skate: Beat writers survey predicts Ducks will win Cup

Corey Perry, Frederik Andersen
AP Photo
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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

In a survey of 29 beat writers, the Anaheim Ducks emerged as the clear favorite to win the Stanley Cup. If you’ll recall, they have that in common with the EA Sports simulation. (Boston Globe)

Alex Ovechkin would pick an Olympic hit against Jaromir Jagr as the biggest check of his life. (Russian Machine Never Breaks)

Here are the highlights from Minnesota’s 5-4 victory over Colorado:

The Montreal Canadiens seem committed to using Alex Galchenyuk as a center throughout the 2015-16 campaign. (The Canadian Press)

The NHL recently enlisted its players to read off some not so mean tweets. (USA Today)

Bills coach Rex Ryan talked about the Sabres in Thursday’s press conference. (NHL.com)

Frederik Andersen may have the Anaheim Ducks’ starting job for now, but with John Gibson still a big part of their plans, Andersen has to keep proving himself. (Orange County Register)

Niemi blanks Pens, notches two assists in Stars debut

Antti Niemi, Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist

DALLAS (AP) — Antti Niemi recorded his 33rd career shutout and assisted on two goals in his Dallas debut, as the Stars beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 on Thursday night in the season opener for both.

Ales Hemsky had a power-play goal and an assist.

Rookie Matthias Janmark scored on his first shot on his first shift in an NHL game to make it 1-0. The Stars acquired Niemi and Janmark in trades earlier this year.

Dallas scored on two of five power plays. Jamie Benn, the NHL’s leading scorer last season, had a power-play goal in the third period.

Niemi made 37 saves to improve his career record against the Penguins to 5-1-1. He withstood a flurry in the final minute after Pittsburgh pulled goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for an extra skater.

Fleury had 21 saves.

The Stars are 4-0-1 in their last five home games against Pittsburgh, and have won three in a row overall.

Janmark skated down the slot, took a pass from Hemsky and shot between Fleury’s legs at 1:39 of the first.

The Penguins dominated the latter half of the period, but couldn’t score. Niemi’s best stop was a reaching glove save of Rod Scuderi’s drive from the blue line with less than 3 minutes remaining. Pittsburgh outshot the Stars 10-4 in the first.

Hemsky scored at 5:42 of the second on Dallas’ first power play. His shot from the top of the right faceoff circle went in over Fleury’s right shoulder.

The Penguins again had an advantage in shots, 13-11. Pittsburgh had chances in close, but Niemi turned those away. Midway through the second, John Klingberg cleared away a loose puck from in front of the net.

Seven seconds into the Stars’ fourth power play of the third period, Jamie Benn tipped in Jason Spezza‘s shot from the right point.

NOTES: Dallas acquired Janmark as part of a March trade that sent Erik Cole to Detroit. The rookie had been playing in the Swedish Hockey League. . San Jose traded Niemi’s rights to the Stars in June for a seventh-round draft pick. Also making their Dallas debuts were LW Patrick Sharp and D Johnny Oduya, teammates with Chicago’s Stanley Cup champions last season. . In his first game for the Penguins, Phil Kessel played in his 447th straight game. . Pittsburgh was 0 for 3 on the power play.