Jason Brough


Goalie nods: Luongo gets surprise start after Reimer’s wife goes into labor


James Reimer was supposed to start for the Florida Panthers tonight at home to Ottawa, but it will be Roberto Luongo instead after Reimer’s wife went into labor.

Interim coach Tom Rowe got a call from Reimer at 4 a.m. this morning informing him of the news.

“The baby is on the way I guess and he’s home,” said Rowe, per the Miami Herald.

The baby has since arrived:

Rowe had been hoping to ride the hot hand before the plan changed. Reimer was named first star in Thursday’s 2-1 OT victory over Tampa Bay, the Panthers’ last game before the All-Star break.

Not that Luongo has been playing all that poorly; he just hasn’t been getting the wins. The 37-year-old has an impressive .925 save percentage in January, but his record is a modest 2-4-1.

Who else but Mike Condon will start for the Senators.


Thomas Greiss, with a new contract extension, will start for the Islanders at home to Washington. Philipp Grubauer gets the assignment for the Caps, after Braden Holtby spent the weekend at the All-Star Game in Los Angeles.

Henrik Lundqvist will try to stay hot for the Rangers against the visitors from Columbus. Joonas Korpisalo gets the nod for the Blue Jackets, after Sergei Bobrovsky represented the club in L.A.

Matt Murray and Pekka Rinne are expected in Pittsburgh when the Penguins host the Predators.

Tuukka Rask was in L.A. this weekend, but he’s expected to play anyway when the Bruins take on the Lightning tonight in Tampa. Ben Bishop will go for the Bolts.

— It’ll be Steve Mason versus Cam Ward when the Flyers and Hurricanes meet in Carolina.

— In Detroit, Cory Schneider for the Devils versus Jared Coreau for the Red Wings.

— Even though Connor Hellebuyck went into the break with a winning performance in Chicago, Ondrej Pavelec will start for the Winnipeg Jets tonight in St. Louis. For the Blues, it’ll be Jake Allen making his first start in two weeks.

Carey Price for the Canadiens versus Robin Lehner for the Sabres in Montreal.

— Frederik Anderson for the Maple Leafs versus Kari Lehtonen for the Stars in Dallas.

— Darcy Kuemper has allowed at least three goals in each of his last four starts. He’ll get the nod for the Wild in Edmonton, where Cam Talbot will start for the Oilers.

— Skills competition hero Mike Smith will start for the Coyotes in Glendale. No official word on a starter for the Kings, but bet on Peter Budaj.

Calvin Pickard for the Avalanche versus John Gibson for the Ducks in Anaheim.

— A couple of All Stars square off in San Jose, where it’ll be Corey Crawford for the Blackhawks versus Martin Jones for the Sharks.

Devils to move AHL team from Albany to Binghamton


The New Jersey Devils are moving their farm team from Albany to Binghamton, New York.

The Devils have reportedly signed a five-year agreement, starting next season and through 2021-22, to play at Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena.

Binghamton has been home for the Ottawa Senators’ farm team since 2002, but the Sens are moving their affiliate to Belleville, Ontario, for next season.

Devils president Hugh Weber provided the following statement about the move:

“After evaluating multiple scenarios and obtaining the approval of the AHL Board of Governors, we have agreed to partner with a local operating group in Binghamton, NY to relocate our AHL franchise for the 2017-18 season. The new arrangement will allow the organization to focus its efforts on developing our player prospects, while leaving the business operations to those with expertise in the market.”

What this means for professional hockey in Albany remains to be seen.

From the Albany Times Union:

Times Union Center is in talks to acquire another professional sports tenant, but it’s not a hockey team, sources said.

Attendance has been an issue for the Devils since they moved here in 2010. Albany is currently averaging 2,888 fans per home date, last in the 30-team AHL.

The Sens announced their move to Belleville in September.

Habs get Markov and Desharnais back; Nesterov to make debut


Montreal defenseman Andrei Markov will return from injury tonight at home to Buffalo. And to make his return even more worthy of watching, he’ll be paired with Nikita Nesterov, who will be making his Habs debut after Thursday’s trade with Tampa Bay.

Markov, 38, has not played since Dec. 17 due to a groin injury. The Canadiens went a modest 9-7-3 in the 19 games without him, and they went into the All-Star break by getting badly outplayed in a 3-1 loss to the resurgent Islanders.

With Markov coming off IR, the Canadiens yesterday placed defenseman Zach Redmond on waivers. Redmond cleared today and was assigned to AHL St. John’s.

Forward David Desharnais (knee) will also return tonight against the Sabres. He hasn’t played since Dec. 6.

Montreal holds a comfortable 7-point lead atop the Atlantic Division, but will want to get back on track after sliding into the break on a 4-5-1 stretch.

The Habs still have a couple of key injuries. Alex Galchenyuk (knee) may return Thursday, but Brendan Gallagher (hand) is out a while longer.

After a tough month, it’s win-and-you’re-in time for Flames goalies


Glen Gulutzan is taking the starting-goalie decision out of his own hands. After a tough month for both Calgary Flames netminders, it’s win-and-you’re-in time for Brian Elliott and Chad Johnson.

From the Calgary Sun:

If the Flames score a victory, the starting goalie keeps the crease for another night. And if they lose, his partner-in-pads gets the next nod.

“It brings out competition, it brings out focus and it puts some pressure on them, too,” Gulutzan said after Monday’s late-afternoon practice at the Saddledome, their return to the rink after the three-day getaway. “Both guys, I know, can handle pressure. I’ve done that before in teams that I’ve coached where I’ve had two good goalies, and they like to push each other for it. I think that’s a good thing for our group right now.”

As mentioned, January was a tough month for both goalies. Elliott’s season-long struggles continued, as he went 2-3-1 with an. 892 save percentage. Johnson, so strong early on, also had issues. His record was 3-4-0 with an .887 save percentage.

In reality, the new plan won’t change much. Gulutzan has been riding the hottest hand for much of the season, and the Flames 1) don’t have a back-to-back until later in the month, and 2) get their bye week halfway through the month.

In other words, it’s not like fatigue will be a factor. It’s simply a motivational tactic, an effort to get one of the goalies in a groove.

Elliott will get the nod tomorrow at home to Minnesota. He went into the All-Star break feeling good about himself, after stopping 25 of 27 shots in a 3-2 OT win at Ottawa.

NHL wants arenas to do ‘better job’ avoiding bad ice


From a postponed game in Carolina to a lengthy delay in Pittsburgh, it has not been a banner season for NHL ice.

Add to the equation all the complaints we’ve been hearing from players about poor surfaces, and it was no surprise that the NHL brought in its resident ice guru, Dan Craig, to speak during the Board of Governors meeting this past weekend in Los Angeles.

It was a message to the owners — let’s make sure the ice crews are on top of their games.

“We want to make sure ice conditions are good for a competitive game, and most importantly we want to make sure they’re safe for the players,” said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. “Over time, when a player has perhaps a sub-par game, you hear, ‘Oh, the ice was terrible.’ Well, it’s the same for both teams. We’re more concerned with fundamental breakdowns: a hole in the ice where the ice went soft, where the system breaks down.”

Bettman added, “Let’s not get complacent. Because we generally don’t have ice problems, and maybe it was a full moon, maybe it was a coincidence, maybe it was bad luck, but we had a few building issues in a very short period of time. Our goal is to do better and to have our buildings do better.”

Of course, the most complaints we’ve heard about poor ice conditions have come out of Brooklyn, where Bettman conceded there may be a “fundamental” issue with the ice-making system. That may not be a problem for much longer, as the Isles and Barclays Center appear headed for divorce.

Related: Isles can leave Barclays Center after three (or four) seasons