Patrick Roy impressed by ‘crazy’ Chicago fandom

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There’s a pretty good rivalry brewing in the Central Division between Chicago and Colorado but, according to Avs head coach Patrick Roy, it’s tough to compare the two fanbases right now.

Here’s more, from the Denver Post:

The subject of all those Blackhawk-red jerseys that were in the stands of the Pepsi Center Wednesday night came up in today’s press briefing with Patrick Roy. Hey, a sellout’s a sellout, but there is no doubt Roy and the Avs want to see more of their own jerseys in the stands from now on, especially if the Avs are to meet Chicago in the playoffs…

“Ten years ago or 12 years ago, there was nobody in Chicago at their games. I didn’t want to play those games because they were boring games,” Roy said. “It was 8,000 people and it was like ‘ughh.’ Even if they tried to be loud, at the national anthem, it was boring going in and playing there.

“Now, 10 years later I’m coming back and it’s crazy over there and they’re all over the place. Then, I think they’re a great example for us. I’m not saying the fans of Denver will follow our team like they do on the road, but I think it’s possible for us to create something close to that.”

There were 18,007 people in attendance for Colorao’s 3-2 win at the Pepsi Center on Thursday night, well above the Avs’ season average of 16,066.

Roy’s comment is just the latest example of a NHL city taking note of traveling Blackhawks fans. This past summer, the Blues announced four games on the 2013-14 schedule would not be available for single-game ticket purchases: Opening night Oct. 3 (Nashville), Oct. 9 (Chicago), Dec. 28 (Chicago) and Apr. 13 (Detroit).

Why those games?

Here’s more, from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

The Blues are one of the NHL teams this season, including Nashville, which are requiring fans to buy tickets to multiple games in order to acquire them for meetings against Chicago.

In recent years, the Blackhawks have attracted huge crowds to Scottrade Center, at times taking over the in-game atmosphere, and that could continue after the ‘Hawks won their second Stanley Cup in four years in 2012-13.

As mentioned, Nashville also had a similar ticket initiative, designed to “keep the red out” of Bridgestone Arena.

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.