Bolts name Lindback opening night starter

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Tonight marks the first night in what figures to be a season-long discussion about Tampa Bay’s goaltending situation.

And it starts with Anders Lindback.

The lanky Swede will be in net for Tampa’s season opening tilt against Boston on Thursday, head coach Jon Cooper announced. This will mark the second straight season opener Lindback’s started — he began 2013 with a 6-3 win over Washington — and will relegate Ben Bishop, the NHL’s tallest netminder, to a backup position.

The real question now is, will Cooper stick with his assertion that both Lindback and Bishop are his No .1s?

Midway through training camp, the Bolts boss said he would start the year with two starting goalies, adding that he was perfectly fine with a season-long timeshare.

“People are going to say whoever gets the opening-game start must be their starting goalie. Well, he’s starting that night,” Cooper told the Tampa Bay Times.

“If that’s our winning formula,” he said of the potential timeshare, “then that’s how we do it.”

Cooper might’ve been hedging his bets to a certain degree, keeping from putting the pressure of a No. 1 gig on either guy — especially since neither has much experience carrying the load.

Lindback has 62 games of NHL experience and has never played more than 24 in a season; Bishop has 55 games on his resume, never appearing in more than 22 in one year.

While the platoon system might work for a while, former Bolts coach Terry Crisp warns of its potential pitfalls.

“You want them both playing,” Crisp told the Tampa Tribune. “But if I say to (Bishop) take the next three games and Anders has got the next three, what happens if he has three shutouts in a row? Now what do I do?

“I gave my word to the next guy coming in, so it’s a big-time balancing act for the coach. And you better be careful what you promise, because you better live up to it.”

Zetterberg on pace to play 1,000th game in Joe Louis Arena farewell

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Barring injury, Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg will get the opportunity to make his 1,000th NHL game even more special.

Detroit head coach Jeff Blashill confirmed today that Zetterberg will play tonight and tomorrow in Carolina, putting the 36-year-old on pace to play his 1,000th game on Apr. 9, the date of the final Wings game at Joe Louis Arena.

The Wings, who will miss the playoffs for the first time since 1990, have eight games left in their regular season. They host New Jersey on Apr. 9.

Tonight’s game was originally scheduled for Dec. 19, but had to be postponed due to poor ice conditions at PNC Arena.

Isles sign Northeastern captain Stevens

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John Stevens, who just wrapped a four-year career at Northeastern University, has signed a two-year, entry-level deal with the Islanders, the club announced on Monday.

Stevens, 22, went undrafted but emerged as a valuable player for the Huskies, culminating with a senior season in which he served as captain and averaged better than a point per game (28 in 25 contests).

Stevens is the son of longtime L.A. Kings associate coach John Stevens, who formerly served as the bench boss in Philly.

A third member 0f the Stevens clan, Nolan, also played this season at Northeastern — his junior campaign — and was taken by St. Louis in the fifth round of last year’s draft.

McElhinney to start for Leafs tomorrow

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Curtis McElhinney will start in goal for the Maple Leafs when they host Florida tomorrow.

Which means Toronto’s regular starter, Frederik Andersen, will not.

Andersen, hurt Saturday in Buffalo, only lasted 20 minutes of practice this morning. The Toronto Star, citing a Leafs source, is reporting that Andersen “took a blow to his jaw from a player in Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Sabres.”

McElhinney is 4-5-0 with a .919 save percentage in 10 appearances for the Leafs this season. He told reporters that tomorrow will be the biggest start of his NHL career.

It remains to be seen who will back up McElhinney against the Panthers. The Leafs have recalled goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL on an emergency basis. All three netminders were on the ice today.

Update:

Expect Sparks to be the back-up tomorrow.

Toronto has a three-point playoff cushion, with eight games remaining.

The Leafs also recalled forward Kasperi Kapanen, the 22nd overall draft pick in 2014. Kapanen, 20, has 18 goals and 25 assists in 43 games for the Marlies this season. He’s expected to replace Ben Smith on the fourth line, alongside Brian Boyle and Matt Martin.

Habs sign d-man Mete, who ‘does everything’ for junior team

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Victor Mete, Montreal’s fourth-round pick at last year’s draft, has signed his three-year, entry-level deal, the club announced on Monday.

Mete, 18, is in his third year with OHL powerhouse London, and finished this season with 15 goals and 44 points in 50 games. He’s developed a reputation as a terrific skater, and often plays alongside fellow Knights d-man Olli Juolevi, who the Canucks took fifth overall at last year’s draft.

London assistant coach Dylan Hunter had high praise for Mete this season.

“When it comes to little nuances of his game, stick on puck, knowing when to make a play and when there isn’t a play to just get it out, he’s one of the best there is right now,” Hunter said, per the London Free Press.

“He does everything for us.”

Mete has one year of junior eligibility remaining, so it’s likely he’ll be back in London next season. At 5-foot-10 and just 180 pounds, he’s undersized and could use another year of development before turning pro.