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NHL rolls out the 2012-13 schedule

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It’s finally time to dig out your travel agent’s phone number and start looking for excuses to get off work; the NHL’s 2012-13 season schedule has been released. You can scroll through the whole thing here and read more about it in this link.

(Also, go team-by-team here.)

If you don’t feel like clicking around, this post will cover some of the high points.

First, here are some key dates, via the NHL’s press release:

Opening Day: Saturday, Jan. 19
Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada: Saturday, Feb. 9
Hockey Day in America: Sunday, Feb. 17
Regular season concludes: Saturday, Apr. 27
NHL Draft Drawing: Monday, Apr. 29
Stanley Cup Playoffs begin: Tuesday, Apr. 30
Latest possible date for Stanley Cup Final: Friday, June 28

Want some individual games to watch? PHT will probably go deeper in-depth later, but here are a few that deserve attention off the bat with some help from NHL.com:

Jan. 19 (season opener)

The season kicks off with Pittsburgh at Philadelphia, Ottawa at Winnipeg, Chicago at Los Angeles, New York Rangers at Boston, Toronto at Montreal, New Jersey at the New York Islanders, Washington at Tampa Bay, Carolina at Florida, Detroit at St. Louis, Columbus at Nashville, Phoenix at Dallas, Colorado at Minnesota, and Anaheim at Vancouver.

Jan. 26 (Los Angeles at Phoenix)

The Kings return to face the Coyotes in Glendale. Will the ‘Yotes try to extract revenge against Dustin Brown for that controversial knee-to-knee?

March 9 (Minnesota at Nashville)

Ryan Suter and his new team, the Wild, visit his old home in Nashville. Will he hug it out with Shea Weber before the game?

April 20 (Phoenix at Chicago)

Remember that Raffi Torres hit on Marian Hossa? The Blackhawks surely do – and the polarizing hitter’s suspension should be over by then.

April 27 (season conclusion)

The last day of the season includes Jordan Staal playing in Pittsburgh, as well as the possible final games for Jaromir Jagr, Daniel Alfredsson and Teemu Selanne. Here’s the list of end-of-the-season skirmishes:

New Jersey at New York Rangers, Montreal at Toronto, Philadelphia at Ottawa, Carolina at Pittsburgh, Boston at Washington, Florida at Tampa Bay, Nashville at Columbus, Minnesota at Colorado, Chicago at St. Louis, Detroit at Dallas, Vancouver at Edmonton, Phoenix at Anaheim and San Jose at Los Angeles.

The NHL’s handy press release lists the opening games for each NHL team:

SEASON OPENERS

ANAHEIM – Saturday, Jan. 19, at Vancouver
BOSTON – Saturday, Jan. 19, vs. NY Rangers
BUFFALO – Sunday, Jan. 20, vs. Philadelphia
CALGARY – Sunday, Jan. 20, vs. San Jose
CAROLINA – Saturday, Jan. 19, at Florida
CHICAGO – Saturday, Jan. 19, at Los Angeles
COLORADO – Saturday, Jan. 19, at Minnesota
COLUMBUS – Saturday, Jan. 19, at Nashville
DALLAS – Saturday, Jan. 19, vs. Phoenix
DETROIT – Saturday, Jan. 19, at St. Louis
EDMONTON – Sunday, Jan. 20, at Vancouver
FLORIDA – Saturday, Jan. 19, vs. Carolina
LOS ANGELES – Saturday, Jan. 19, vs. Chicago
MINNESOTA – Saturday, Jan. 19, vs. Colorado
MONTREAL – Saturday, Jan. 19, vs. Toronto
NASHVILLE – Saturday, Jan. 19, vs. Columbus
NEW JERSEY – Saturday, Jan. 19, at NY Islanders
NY ISLANDERS – Saturday, Jan. 19, vs. New Jersey
NY RANGERS – Saturday, Jan. 19, at Boston
OTTAWA – Saturday, Jan. 19, at Winnipeg
PHILADELPHIA – Saturday, Jan. 19, vs. Pittsburgh
PHOENIX – Saturday, Jan. 19, at Dallas
PITTSBURGH – Saturday, Jan. 19, at Philadelphia
ST. LOUIS – Saturday, Jan. 19, vs. Detroit
SAN JOSE – Sunday, Jan. 20, at Calgary
TAMPA BAY – Saturday, Jan. 19, vs. Washington
TORONTO – Saturday, Jan. 19, at Montreal
VANCOUVER – Saturday, Jan. 19, vs. Anaheim
WASHINGTON – Saturday, Jan. 19, at Tampa Bay
WINNIPEG – Saturday, Jan. 19, vs. Ottawa

And since you’ve waited up all night for these details, that release also painstakingly lists home openers (the Ducks sure wait a long time, don’t they?):

HOME OPENERS

ANAHEIM – Friday, Jan. 25, Vancouver
BOSTON – Saturday, Jan. 19, NY Rangers
BUFFALO – Sunday, Jan. 20, Philadelphia
CALGARY – Sunday, Jan. 20, San Jose
CAROLINA – Tuesday, Jan. 22, Tampa Bay
CHICAGO – Tuesday, Jan. 22, St. Louis
COLORADO – Tuesday, Jan. 22, Los Angeles
COLUMBUS – Monday, Jan. 21, Detroit
DALLAS – Saturday, Jan. 19, Phoenix
DETROIT – Tuesday, Jan. 22, Dallas
EDMONTON – Tuesday, Jan. 22, San Jose
FLORIDA – Saturday, Jan. 19, Carolina
LOS ANGELES – Saturday, Jan. 19, Chicago
MINNESOTA – Saturday, Jan. 19, Colorado
MONTREAL – Saturday, Jan. 19, Toronto
NASHVILLE – Saturday, Jan. 19, Columbus
NEW JERSEY – Tuesday, Jan. 22, Philadelphia
NY ISLANDERS – Saturday, Jan. 19, New Jersey
NY RANGERS – Sunday, Jan. 20, Pittsburgh
OTTAWA – Monday, Jan. 21, Florida
PHILADELPHIA – Saturday, Jan. 19, Pittsburgh
PHOENIX – Sunday, Jan. 20, Chicago
PITTSBURGH – Wednesday, Jan. 23, Toronto
ST. LOUIS – Saturday, Jan. 19, Detroit
SAN JOSE – Thursday, Jan. 24, Phoenix
TAMPA BAY – Saturday, Jan. 19, Washington
TORONTO – Monday, Jan. 21, Buffalo
VANCOUVER – Saturday, Jan. 19, Anaheim
WASHINGTON – Tuesday, Jan. 22, Winnipeg
WINNIPEG – Saturday, Jan. 19, Ottawa

Matthews to sit out preseason tilt versus Sabres, as Maple Leafs give him ‘a little break’

BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 24:  Auston Matthews poses for a portrait after being selected first overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in round one during the 2016 NHL Draft on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes/Getty Images)
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The Toronto Maple Leafs play the Buffalo Sabres on Friday. But No. 1 overall pick Auston Matthews won’t be in the lineup, according to multiple reports.

“Sooner or later, he’s going to get in, but not tonight,” said assistant coach Jim Hiller, as per the Toronto Sun.

“The lineups are day by day. They (World Cup players such as Matthews, Milan Michalek, Leo Komarov and James van Riemsdyk) went through a solid three weeks. It’s a little break, a little down time. There are tons of games coming. They’ll get a lot of ice time. They’ll get in shortly.”

(The report also notes that Matthews is not dealing with a health issue, which is obviously good news for the Leafs.)

On a night when the No. 2 overall selection Patrik Laine is slated to make his preseason debut for the Winnipeg Jets, fans wishing to see Matthews don a Maple Leafs jersey in his anticipated debut will have to wait.

Matthews played for Team North America at the World Cup held in Toronto. He had two goals and three points in three round robin games, but the young North American team was unable to advance to the semifinal round.

The Maple Leafs play the Montreal Canadiens at home on Sunday.

McLellan: Maroon’s lower-body injury not considered serious

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It appears Patrick Maroon‘s injury from Wednesday’s preseason game against the Vancouver Canucks looked worse than it is.

The Edmonton Oilers forward was in obvious pain immediately after he went hard into the boards from an awkward hit delivered by James Sheppard just past the midway point of the third period. Maroon needed help to the bench and was unable to put much, if any, pressure on his left leg.

He left the game and didn’t return.

Good news, however, from the Oilers: Head coach Todd McLellan told reporters on Friday that the injury — lower body — is not serious, as per the team’s Twitter account.

According to Mark Spector of Sportsnet, the 28-year-old Maroon is expected to be ready for Edmonton’s season opener against the rival Calgary Flames on Oct. 12.

The Oilers acquired Maroon at last season’s trade deadline, a move that certainly added size and an element of grit to their group of forwards.

In 16 games with Edmonton, he scored eight goals and 14 points. In 56 games with Anaheim that same season, he registered only 13 points before the trade.

Patrik Laine to make highly anticipated preseason debut for Jets

BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 24:  Patrik Laine gives an interview after being selected second by the Winnepeg Jets during round one of the 2016 NHL Draft on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Jen Fuller/Getty Images)
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Anticipation has been building since the Winnipeg Jets officially took Patrik Laine with the second overall pick in this year’s NHL Draft.

On Friday, Laine, the highly coveted Finnish forward, will make his preseason debut for the Jets when they play the Edmonton Oilers in Winnipeg, as the home fans get the chance to take in the occasion.

The Jets have done a nice job of amassing good young forwards in their organization. Laine, who has the gifts to be a prolific scorer in the NHL, is at the top of that prospect list.

Winnipeg’s roster tonight also includes forward prospects Kyle Connor, Nic Petan and Brandon Tanev, not to mention more NHL experienced forwards like Alex Burmistrov, Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele.

Laine enters this season with high expectations placed on him from fans and media, after coming to the NHL following a standout career in Finland as a teenager. He’s aware of the expectations, but toned down the hype with the usual statements of just playing his game.

“Just be brave on the ice and show everybody I will earn my spot on the team,” he told reporters.

Laine has already seen game action this month. Not with the Jets, but with Finland’s entry at the World Cup of Hockey.

Following offseason knee surgery, Laine wasn’t happy with his performance in Finland’s first pre-tournament game. In three tournament games, Laine failed to register a point, despite a team-best 10 shots on goal, as Finland was quickly eliminated in the round robin.

Related:

Looking to make the leap: Patrik Laine

Murray: Ristolainen’s good-faith gesture unlikely to sway talks with Sabres

BUFFALO, NY - JANUARY 22: Rasmus Ristolainen #55 of the Buffalo Sabres makes a pass during the game against the Detroit Red Wings on January 22, 2016 at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Tom Brenner/Getty Images)
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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Buffalo Sabres general manager Tim Murray tells The Associated Press he doesn’t believe defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen‘s decision to join the team for practice without a contract will have any effect on thawing negotiations.

With a big laugh, Murray on Friday said the only way Ristolainen could speed up contract talks is if “he got all lovey-dovey” and elected to take the Sabres’ latest offer.

Ristolainen is a restricted free agent whose rights were retained by the Sabres in June. After representing Finland in the World Cup of Hockey, Ristolainen reported to the Sabres on Thursday in what was regarded as a sign of good faith.

Though he’s not allowed to play because he’s not under contract, Ristolainen is practicing with the team and also taking part in meetings. Ristolainen is not making himself available to reporters.

Murray says he didn’t see anything wrong with allowing Ristolainen to practice, saying he’d rather the player be in Buffalo than working out elsewhere.

Murray says the two sides are still negotiating.

In three seasons, Buffalo’s 2013 first-round draft pick has established himself as the Sabres’ top defenseman. Last year, Ristolainen led the team in averaging more than 25 minutes of ice time per game, and led Buffalo defensemen with 41 points (nine goals, 32 assists).