Mike Halford

EDMONTON, AB - OCTOBER 12:  Goalie Cam Talbot #33 of the Edmonton Oilers stops Matthew Tkachuk #19 of the Calgary Flames on October 12, 2016 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)
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Tkachuk caused quite a bit of damage in Edmonton last night

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Matthew Tkachuk might want to keep his head up tomorrow night.

That’s because, on Friday, Tkachuk and the Flames will face the Oilers in the second of a home-and-home series — and suffice to say, Edmonton is none too pleased with the rookie.

In Wednesday’s 7-4 loss, Tkachuk boarded defenseman Kris Russell in the first period, looked to have slew-footed defenseman Brandon Davidson in the second, then delivered a high hit on defenseman Adam Larsson in the third.

Of all the incidents, it’s the alleged slew-foot that’s getting the most attention today.

That’s because Davidson, who only played 11 shifts for 7:49 of ice time before exiting, will now be “out a while” head coach Todd McLellan said, per CHED 630 radio.

Both Davidson and Larsson were absent from today’s practice, though McLellan said Larsson was having a maintenance day.

No word yet if the 18-year-old Tkachuk will face any supplemental discipline for his actions, but one thing’s for certain — he’s quickly inserted himself into the Battle of Alberta rivalry.

To be fair, that’s exactly what Flames president Brian Burke expected when the club took Tkachuk sixth overall at this year’s draft.

“Kid’s a kind of pain in the ass,” said Burke, per the Calgary Herald. “We don’t have enough guys who are pains in the ass. And the way I like to play, I like guys who are pains in the ass.”

It’s a big, big night for Jimmy Vesey

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 06: Jimmy Vesey #26 of the New York Rangers waits for the faceoff against the Philadelphia Flyers at Madison Square Garden on October 6, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Consider, for a moment, what’s laying in front of Jimmy Vesey.

Tonight, the ballyhooed Harvard product will make both his NHL and New York Rangers debuts, at Madison Square Garden.

He’ll be doing so on the club’s top line — next to Derek Stepan and Mats Zuccarello — and he’ll be doing it against one of the Rangers’ biggest rivals, the New York Islanders.

All things considered, it’s a pretty big stage.

And considering how long Vesey’s been in the news, it’s easy to forget that, y’know, he’s never been on the stage before. He balked at signing with the team that drafted him (Nashville), which caused an minor uproar, then balked at signing with the team that acquired his rights (Buffalo), which was slightly less uproarious.

Vesey signing with the Rangers was a big deal personally, and could end up being an even bigger deal for the Blueshirts.

New York has some young prospects, but the cupboard is bare compared to other NHL clubs. Part of this is nature of the beast — the Rangers have been in a Stanley Cup window over the last few years, which meant jettisoning off picks and prospects at the deadline to bolster playoff runs.

But with that window closing, GM Jeff Gorton knew he had to try and implement some youth into the lineup.

That’s why he traded Derick Brassard to Ottawa for Mika Zibanejad — the latter is six years younger — and that’s why the Rangers have an opening-night lineup that includes the likes of Pavel Buchnevich (21-years-old), Brady Skjei (22) and Adam Clendening (23).

And, of course, the 23-year-old Vesey.

The Rangers aren’t going to bring Vesey along slowly. From the get, he’ll be treated as a top player — he’s going to get first-line minutes, and first-unit power play time.

Whether that’s too much, too soon remains to be seen.

His head coach is willing to take the risk.

“I’ve always been a firm believer that talent has no age,” Alain Vigneault said, per the New York Post. “It’s just a matter of getting it out of young players by giving them opportunities and putting them in situations where they can be successful.”

Goalie nods: Dallas opens with Niemi over Lehtonen

Dallas Stars goalie Antti Niemi (31) subs in for goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, in Dallas. The Stars won 6-5. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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Dallas, home of the NHL’s most-discussed goalie platoon, has made the call for its opening-night starter against Anaheim.

Antti Niemi, who came on in relief of Kari Lehtonen in last year’s 6-1 playoff elimination loss to St. Louis, will be in between the pipes tonight at American Airlines.

More: Goaltending remains the biggest question mark in Dallas

The Stars’ two-goalie setup was under the microscope throughout last season, and that scrutiny only intensified in the playoffs. Head coach Lindy Ruff grew wary of the situation — saying he was “tired of explaining our two goalie thing” — but, after getting bounced, he insisted the Stars didn’t one clear-cut No. 1 netminder.

GM Jim Nill agreed. He shot down rumblings of a potential Lehtonen buyout in June, remaining committed to the goaltending tandem that costs Dallas $10.4 million annually.

It’s probably worth noting that Dallas made the decision to open last year with Niemi as well. He played well, posting a 37-save shutout against Pittsburgh.

For the Ducks, John Gibson gets the start tonight.

Elsewhere…

Al Montoya will start over Carey Price (flu) when Montreal takes on Buffalo. The Sabres will counter with Robin Lehner.

Jaroslav Halak, coming off an impressive performance with Team Europe at the World Cup, will be in goal for the Islanders. The Rangers are going with Henrik Lundqvist.

— No surprises in Columbus, as both the Bruins and Jackets are going with their No. 1s: Tuukka Rask and Sergei Bobrovsky.

— In a rematch of last year’s first-round playoff series, Ben Bishop and the Bolts will host Petr Mrazek and the Red Wings.

— Former teammates Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo will get the starts as the Devils take on the Panthers in Florida.

Jake Allen, who stopped 17 of 19 shots in last night’s win over Chicago, goes back-to-back as the Blues take on the Wild. Devan Dubnyk goes for Minnesota.

— As Brough wrote earlier, Connor Hellebuyck has been named Winnipeg’s opening-night starter. He’ll be up against Cam Ward, who gets the nod for Carolina.

— Familiar matchup in Pittsburgh as Marc-Andrey Fleury and the Pens host Braden Holtby and the Caps. Fleury, of course, is the Pens’ No. 1 starter with Matt Murray (hand) sidelined.

Zetterberg won’t pull a Datsyuk, intends on playing out contract in Detroit

Detroit Red Wings v Florida Panthers
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Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said he has no intention of following in the footsteps of former teammate Pavel Datsyuk, who left the organization with one year remaining on his contract.

From the Detroit Free Press:

[Columnist Mitch] Albom: When you signed that 12-year deal (in 2009) did it seem shorter than than it does now with five years still left?

Zetterberg: Well, actually when I signed, 12 years seemed like so long a time. Now all of a sudden, I’ve done over half of it and it’s gone really fast. I thought when I signed it — oh, my God — it’s forever.

Albom: And you have every intention of playing all five years that are left?

Zetterberg: Yes. Yes. But in the same way, I’m human. I know that every year it’s a bigger and bigger battle to get through. We’ll see if my body holds up for five more years. Last year, I played 82 games, which I was proud of doing — maybe it wasn’t 82 good ones, but I played 82 — and so we’ll see. By now, I’m just taking it year by year.  And obviously the next two years are big years — the last year at the Joe and then first year at new building. That’s probably where I’m looking.

Zetterberg further explained his position by juxtaposing his potential return “home” — to play in the Swedish Hockey League — to Datsyuk’s decision to play for SKA St. Petersburg, one of the marquee Russian franchises in the KHL.

“I understand Pavel,” Zetterbeg said. “I think the KHL obviously is a higher level than the Swedish Elite League, and also for him going back to be with his daughter (who lives in Russia) was a big impact.”

There are other factors to consider as well.

Datsyuk was 38 by the time he cut ties with Detroit, while Zetterberg turned 36 just a few days ago. The veteran Swede is also coming off two pretty impressive campaigns, health-wise — he appeared in 77 contests during the ’14-15 season, and all 82 last year.

Zetterberg is also the captain in Detroit, a position he’s held for the last four seasons. That’s a role nobody takes lightly, especially him. Wearing the “C” for the Red Wings is a pretty special honor, especially since only two other players have donned it over the last 30 years– Hall of Famers Nicklas Lidstrom and Steve Yzerman.

Full circle: Ducks claim Etem, their first-round pick from six years ago

Anaheim Ducks v Chicago Blackhawks
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The reunions continue in Anaheim.

The Ducks, who re-hired bench boss Randy Carlyle this summer, have gone out and added one of their former playersEmerson Etem, who GM Bob Murray took with the 29th overall pick at the 2010 draft.

Etem, 24, was placed on waivers by Vancouver earlier this week after failing to make the team out of training camp. All told, Etem scored seven goals and 12 points in 39 games for the Canucks, who acquired him from the Rangers last season in exchange for Nicklas Jensen and a 6th-round pick.

(That noise you hear is Canucks fans venting about GM Jim Benning’s asset management. Again.)

Etem was drafted while Carlyle was head coach in Anaheim, but never actually played for him. He made his NHL debut in ’13 under former bench boss Bruce Boudreau, and enjoyed his best years there.

Though Etem has fallen on hard times lately, the move back to Anaheim makes sense. He’s an incredibly fast skater, and one of the knocks on the Ducks is that they’re an older group that lacks overall team speed.