Jason Brough

Bettman: No need to worry that ‘Canes will move

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Gary Bettman has insisted time and time again that the Arizona Coyotes and Florida Panthers are not relocating.

Earlier this week, he did it for the Carolina Hurricanes.

“I don’t think anyone needs to worry about the future of the franchise in Carolina,” the commissioner told the News & Observier.

But it’s not hard to see why some have speculated. Not only is 72-year-old owner Peter Karmanos Jr. looking to sell, the ‘Canes are dead last in NHL attendance, averaging just 11,411 fans per game.

“Peter is exploring his options, but there is no rush, no pressure, no timetable,” Bettman said. “I am certain if he sells the franchise, he will continue the legacy of having the franchise in what has been a strong market and keep it where it is.”

Karmanos has always maintained that his goal is to sell to local owners that will keep the ‘Canes in North Carolina. Recently, he told the newspaper that he’s “befuddled by the rumors the team will move.”

The Hurricanes host the Wild tonight. At StubHub, tickets can be had for as little as $6.

tix

The Sabres are ‘starting to develop a belief that we can win’

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With five wins in their last seven, the Buffalo Sabres have good reason for optimism.

“We’re starting to develop a belief that we can win and how we’re going to win,” said coach Dan Bylsma, per the club’s website. “Early in the season, we played well. We did some good things. But we might not have had the belief that we could win hockey games.”

Now, it should be noted that the Sabres enjoyed a brief winning run last year as well. From Nov. 15 to Dec. 15, they went 10-3-0.

But that run was mostly thanks to the goaltending of Jhonas Enroth. The Sabres were winning games when they were getting outshot 45-19 and 30-14 and 44-26. They were far, far from dominant.

Things are different this year. While they’re still not among the top possession teams, they’re vastly improved in that area. Adding Ryan O'Reilly and Jack Eichel at center certainly hasn’t hurt.

“We feel good. We feel like we’re in the game and regardless of what the score is, we still have a chance,” said forward Brian Gionta. “That’s what you want from your team, is whether you’re trailing 3-1 or you’re up 2-1, you have a good chance of winning that game.”

The Sabres (7-8-0) are in Sunrise to play the Panthers (6-6-3) tonight.

Buffalo is only three points back of a playoff spot.

(Just saying.)

Goalie nods: Allen versus Lundqvist in battle of really high save percentages

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Jake Allen‘s save percentage is .950, the highest in the NHL among regular starters.

Henrik Lundqvist‘s save percentage is .949, the second highest.

Tonight at MSG, those two goalies will face each other.

ONLY ONE WILL SURVIVE.

Wait, sorry, that’s not right. Both will survive. But only one will win. That’s what I meant to say.

Elsewhere…

Reto Berra gets another start for the Avalanche after shutting out the Flyers Tuesday. Tuukka Rask likely for the Bruins.

— No word yet on a Sabres starter. Roberto Luongo for the Panthers.

Braden Holtby for the Caps. Steve Mason for the Flyers.

Devan Dubnyk for the Wild. Cam Ward for the Hurricanes.

Karri Ramo for the Flames. Ben Bishop for the Lightning.

Ryan Miller likely for the Canucks. Andrew Hammond for the Senators.

James Reimer for the Leafs. Pekka Rinne likely for the Predators.

Cory Schneider for the Devils. Corey Crawford for the Blackhawks.

Ondrej Pavelec for the Jets. Kari Lehtonen likely for the Stars.

— Anders Nilsson starts again for the Oilers, after beating the Ducks last night. Mike Smith for the Coyotes.

Jaroslav Halak for the Islanders. Jhonas Enroth for the Kings.

Will ‘Hawks be forced to send down Svedberg?

Justin Abdelkader, Corey Crawford, Viktor Svedberg
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The Chicago Blackhawks have some decisions to make on the blue line.

With Duncan Keith cleared for contact and Michal Rozsival close to returning too, what of the seven healthy defensemen they currently have?

We’ll assume Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Trevor Daley, and Trevor van Riemsdyk aren’t going to the AHL.

That leaves David Rundblad, Viktor Svedberg, and Erik Gustafsson. Two of them may have to go. Only Svedberg and Gustafsson are exempt from waivers.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

In theory, this is one of those “good problems” Joel Quenneville frequently talks about — an embarrassment of riches. But the problem is, the Hawks’ rookies on two-way contracts (Svedberg and Gustafsson) have played better than the Hawks’ veterans on pricey one-way deals (David Rundblad and Trevor Daley). Quenneville said the pending moves will be as much business decisions as they are hockey decisions. Asked specifically if he wanted Svedberg to stay with the team, Quenneville was terse.

“I could say that, yeah,” he said. “But will that happen? I’m not sure.”

Svedberg has played 14 games. The giant Swede logged 20:12 in Sunday’s win over Edmonton. He’s played as much as 22:08, paired mostly with Seabrook.

To keep Svedberg, the Blackhawks could always risk exposing Rundblad to waivers, or they could explore trading one of their surplus d-men. But typically teams like to have as many NHL-ready defenders as possible. Chicago’s defensive depth was very much under the microscope during last year’s playoffs, even if it didn’t prove fatal, thanks to Keith.

No excuses: Hextall tees off on Flyers

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The fallout from Tuesday’s “unacceptable” performance versus Colorado continued today in Philadelphia, the day after Flyers coach Dave Hakstol put his squad through a punishing practice.

This morning, it was GM Ron Hextall’s turn to weigh in.

“Accountability is demanded of each other and yourself,” Hextall said, per CSN Philly. “There’s nights when it’s hard to go out there and play. You don’t feel good, you travel, you’re tired or whatever it is. You know what? Too bad. You’ve got to go out there and play your ass off.”

The Flyers host the Capitals tonight.

Related: Reminder to Flyers fans — stay patient