Pavel Datsyuk

NHL on NBCSN: Red Wings begin Eastern Conference life against Sabres


It’s Rivalry Night on NBCSN and the Detroit Red Wings will spark new battles in the Eastern Conference and will start tonight at home against the Buffalo Sabres at 8 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

The Detroit Red Wings have been wanting to be part of the Eastern Conference for some time and tonight they’ll begin finding out if it was worth the trouble finding out if the grass truly is greener on the other side of the fence. Dealing with the Buffalo Sabres provides a curious first test.

Buffalo enters the game with many fans and prognosticators not giving them much of a chance this season. They’ll also start the year as one of the youngest teams in the league. 2013 first-round pick Rasmus Ristolainen made the team and will get the job of trying to find a way to wrangle Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg in his first game. Good luck, kid.

Detroit’s cast of characters is almost exactly the same group as it was last year. One big difference is the addition of Daniel Alfredsson. While he’s sure to spark some heat when they play Ottawa, Alfie has killed the Sabres in his career scoring 42 of his 426 career goals against them, the most against any one team. Don’t think Sabres fans aren’t fully aware of that.

Related: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $4,000 Fantasy Hockey league tonight (Wednesday). It’s just $2 to join and first prize is $600. Starts at 7:30pm ET. Here’s the link.

Where things get most interesting is the battle in goal. Detroit’s Jimmy Howard showed last season he’s capable of being the kind of goalie the Red Wings need to be successful. His play against Anaheim and Chicago in the playoffs helped reassure fans things are just fine between the pipes.

Buffalo’s Ryan Miller has a bit of a different look at things this season. While he’s still the “man” for the Sabres, his future with the team is going to be a source of speculation all year as he’s in the final year of his contract and will be focus of rumors all season. He can help keep that talk going by playing out of his mind starting tonight against the high-powered Wings.

Habs depth d-man Redmond out six weeks with broken foot

TORONTO, CANADA - OCTOBER 02:  Zach Redmond #20 of the Montreal Canadiens skates during an NHL preseason game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre on October 2, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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The Montreal Canadiens have lost depth defenseman Zach Redmond for six weeks with a broken foot.

The Habs announced the injury on Thursday, adding it occurred during a recent practice.

Redmond, 28, signed as a free agent with the Habs this summer, inking a two-year deal. He’s appeared in 114 career NHL games, beginning his career with the Winnipeg Jets as an Atlanta Thrashers draft pick.

He was able to secure a roster spot with the Canadiens to begin this season, but had yet to appear in a game.

Redmond has had to overcome adversity in making his NHL dream a reality.

In 2013, he returned to game action on a conditioning stint with the Jets farm team in St. John’s after missing only two months due to a lacerated femoral artery — and the loss of nearly two pints of blood — from a skate cut.

The Jackets have been ‘sitting on 0-2’ all week, can’t wait to play again

Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella, center, reacts to a penalty between Boone Jenner, left, and Jared Boll during the second period an NHL hockey game against the  Winnipeg Jets  in Columbus, Ohio, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015. Winnipeg won 3-2. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)
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The Columbus Blue Jackets probably didn’t need such a long break so early in the season. It’s been five days since they last played, and not surprisingly, they can’t wait to get going tomorrow at home against Chicago.

They can’t wait to get their first win either.

“It’s a big game for us,” head coach John Tortorella said, per the team’s website. “We’ve been sitting on 0-2 for a week here. It sucks. We need to have a good start and feel good about ourselves.”

A win Friday would certainly help. The Jackets kick off a tough, four-game road trip Saturday in Dallas, so the ingredients are already in place for another disastrous start to the schedule. A year ago, they started with eight straight losses, which is why Tortorella is at the helm now.

The Jackets also play Tuesday, Thursday and Friday in Los Angeles, San Jose and Anaheim, respectively.

Against such tough opposition, they’ll need their goalie, Sergei Bobrovsky, to be good. He played well in his last game, stopping 35 of 37 shots in a 3-2 loss to San Jose (the Sharks scored an empty-netter), but that was after he surrendered five goals to Boston in the season-opener.

On that note, it will be interesting to if backup Curtis McElhinney sees any action on the road trip. Tortorella has been known to ride his top players, including his goalie in back-to-backs, so it’s no given that McElhinney will start Saturday against the Stars.

Related: The odds say Torts will be fired first

Don’t assume Fleury will be traded, says Penguins GM

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 02:  Marc-Andre Fleury #29 of the Pittsburgh Penguins looks on from the bench in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Washington Capitals during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Consol Energy Center on May 2, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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Just because Matt Murray signed an extension doesn’t mean Marc-Andre Fleury‘s days in Pittsburgh are numbered.

That was the message today from Penguins GM Jim Rutherford, after Murray re-upped through 2019-20.

“The focus seems to be on what happens with Marc-Andre, but let’s let this play itself out first,” Rutherford said, per the Post-Gazette. “Let’s not just presume that Marc is automatically out. He’s been the franchise goalie here, he is a terrific person, he’s a terrific player and I think that assumption, we’re getting a little bit ahead of ourselves.”

This wouldn’t be such a hot topic if there was no expansion draft in June. But there is, and when it takes place, each team will only be allowed protect one goalie. And if the Penguins don’t trade Fleury, they’ll be obligated to protect him, unless he’s willing to waive his no-movement clause.

Protecting Fleury would, of course, leave Murray as a prime candidate to be chosen by Las Vegas. Unless, that is, Rutherford could strike a deal with George McPhee to, say, send Vegas a draft pick or player, in return for Vegas not picking Murray. Yes, that kind of deal is allowed.

So it’s complicated.

At this point in time, it’s quite possible that Rutherford doesn’t know what he’s going to do. The season is still young, and it remains to be seen which goalie will emerge as the starter in Pittsburgh. If it’s Murray, Fleury might want to be a starter elsewhere and Rutherford’s decision will be an easy one.

If it’s Fleury, the decision could be tougher. While keeping both goalies would be nice, it would also be expensive. Next season, Fleury and Murray will make a combined cap hit of $9.5 million, and there’s only one net.

Again, though, a decision doesn’t have to be made now.

“Our focus this year is winning,” said Rutherford, “and we’ll deal with the expansion draft at the appropriate time.”

Goalie nods: Price to make long-awaited season debut

TORONTO, CANADA - APRIL 13: Carey Price #31 of the Montreal Canadiens stands during the anthem prior to a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on April 13, 2013 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada. The Leafs defeated the Canadiens 5-1. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
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That was the likely refrain from Habs fans on Thursday, as head coach Michel Therrien confirmed that Carey Price‘s long-awaited season debut would happen tonight, when Montreal hosts Arizona at the Bell Centre.

Price, who missed almost all of last year with a knee injury, hasn’t played since late November of 2015 (his last appearance at home was on Nov. 22.) While he did recover to backstop Canada to the World Cup of Hockey championship, he caught a nasty case of the flu prior to the start of the regular season, and sat for the Canadiens’ first three games of the year.

Price’s backup, Al Montoya, did incredibly well in relief, going 2-0-1 with a 1.30 GAA and .926 save percentage.

Speaking of backups, the Coyotes will have theirs between the pipes tonight as Louis Domingue makes his first start of the season, in place of the injured Mike Smith. Smith was returned to Arizona today to be re-evaluated by team doctors.


— Good matchup in Boston, where Tuukka Rask and the B’s host Cory Schneider and the Devils.

John Gibson is back for the Ducks, after allowing two goals on 28 shots in a loss to New Jersey on Tuesday. He’ll be up against Steve Mason, who gets the nod for Philly after replacing Michal Neuvirth in a defeat to Chicago.

— The Stanley Cup Final rematch between San Jose and Pittsburgh has a slightly different look: Martin Jones, the Sharks’ usual starter, is in goal but Marc-Andre Fleury, who backed up Matt Murray last spring, goes for the Pens. Murray is out with a hand injury.

— It’s Braden Holtby versus Roberto Luongo as the Caps visit the Panthers in Florida.

— Colorado goes right back to Semyon Varlamov after he allowed three goals on 40 shots in Tuesday’s loss to Washington. Ben Bishop is in goal for the Lightning.

Jhonas Enroth makes his Maple Leafs debut in Minnesota. He’ll go up against Devan Dubnyk.

— The Kings will try their luck with Peter Budaj tonight against Dallas. Budaj replaces the ineffective Jeff Zatkoff, who replaced the injured Jonathan Quick. The Stars are going with Kari Lehtonen.

— After Chad Johnson started the last two games, Brian Elliott regains the net for Calgary. He’ll be up against Eddie Lack, who allowed four goals on 31 shots in Sunday’s loss to Vancouver.

Jake Allen versus Cam Talbot tonight in Edmonton, as the Oilers host the Blues.

Jacob Markstrom makes his third straight start for the Canucks, who host the Sabres. Ryan Miller will return to back up after missing Tuesday’s win over the Blues with “tightness.” For Buffalo, it looks like Robin Lehner in goal.