Mike Halford

Philadelphia Flyers goalie Michal Neuvirth (30) of the Czech Republic stops a shot from the Dallas Stars in the third period of an NHL hockey game, Friday, Dec. 11, 2015, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
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Goalie nods: Surging Flyers start Neuvirth for first time in nearly two weeks

The last time Michal Neuvirth played, the result wasn’t good — an ugly 4-0 home loss to the lowly Oilers, in which Neuvirth surrendered all four goals on 31 shots.

That happened on Mar. 3.

Now, 13 days later, Neuvirth is back in goal, under entirely different circumstances. Heading into tonight’s big game against the ‘Hawks, the playoff-charging Flyers have won four of five and collected nine of a possible 10 points — with Steve Mason as the starting netminder.

But since Mason beat the Red Wings last night and has started five straight, it’s Neuvy time.

Overall, the 27-year-old has enjoyed a solid first campaign in Philadelphia. Neuvirth is 16-8-4 on the year with a .925 save percentage and 2.29 GAA, and three shutouts. He’s been effective when called upon to carry a significant load — that aforementioned loss to the Oilers was Neuvirth’s eighth consecutive appearance — but has taken a back seat in March, as head coach Dave Hakstol has opted to ride Mason’s hot hand.

For Chicago, the struggling Corey Crawford gets a night off. Scott Darling will be in goal.


— After Mike Condon started three straight, including last night’s loss to Florida, Ben Scrivens is in goal for Montreal. The Sabres will counter with Robin Lehner.

— Good matchup in Edmonton tonight as Jake Allen and the Blues take on Cam Talbot and the Oilers.

Ondrej Pavelec goes for the Jets, who are in Calgary. Joni Ortio counters for the Flames.

— Vancouver continues to alternate starts between Jacob Markstrom and Ryan Miller. The former lost to the Jets on Tuesday, the latter will start tonight. For visiting Colorado, Semyon Varlamov is in net.

— Henrik Lunqdvist gets the night off as Antti Raanta starts for the Rangers in Anaheim. John Gibson goes for the Ducks.

After 11-game absence, O’Reilly back for Sabres tonight

Buffalo Sabres' Evander Kane (9) celebrates with teammate Ryan O'Reilly (90) after O'Reilly scored the winning goal during the overtime session of an NHL hockey game against the Los Angeles Kings, Saturday Dec. 12, 2015 in Buffalo, N.Y. Buffalo won 2-1. (AP Photo/Gary Wiepert)

Buffalo will get its lone All-Star back in the lineup tonight, as Ryan O’Reilly returns from an 11-game absence to face the Habs at First Niagara Center.

O’Reilly, who’s been out of the lineup since Feb. 19 with a foot ailment, is the Sabres’ leading scorer and one of head coach Dan Bylsma’s workhorses up front, averaging nearly 22 minutes per night.

The 25-year-old skated on a line with Evander Kane and Nicolas Deslauriers earlier this week.

The Sabres are no doubt pleased to have O’Reilly back in the mix. The club went 4-5-2 in his absence.

In what appears to be a related move, Buffalo has assigned forward Daniel Catenacci to the Rochester Americans of the AHL.

Daly: Teams can only lose one player per expansion team

Montreal Canadiens v Minnesota Wild
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The big development from Wednesday’s GMs meetings in Boca Raton?

Expansion draft!

After NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told reporters an expansion decision is expected prior to the draft in June, focus shifted to what an expansion draft would look like — the NHL’s first since Columbus and Minnesota partook in one 16 years ago.

While the specific rules have yet to be finalized, Daly shed some light on some important elements, specifically:

— Current NHL clubs can only lose a maximum of one player if the NHL expands by one team. If the NHL expands by two teams, current clubs can lose a maximum of two players. (Per TSN)

— No decision yet on how players with no-movement clauses will be handled. The expectation is they won’t be made available for selection. (Per Sportsnet)

— Prospects, first- and second-year professionals will be exempt from the draft. Those first- and second-year players can be in the NHL or AHL. (Per ESPN)

— Various models of protecting players were discussed, with multiple positional breakdowns. One included seven forwards, three defensemen and a goalie. (Per TSN)

— All of those potential scenarios had a maximum of one goalie being protected. (Per ESPN)

Per TVA, NHL GMs will know prior to this year’s draft if expansion will occur for the ’17-18 season. If it’s not settled by then, no new team will play before the ’18-19 campaign.

More on this, from ESPN:

If the league hopes to expand for the 2017-18 season, [NHL commissioner Gary] Bettman wants to give general managers one full transactional year to prepare their rosters. Thus, an expansion announcement for that season would have to come before free agency opens this year on July 1.

“They should have a full year,” Bettman said. “We’re only getting close if we’re going for 2017-18; [it] doesn’t mean we have to do it by July; we could do it July 15, but it might be for 2018-19.”

It’s expected the NHL will expand by one team, the Bill Foley-led Las Vegas group. The other group current engaged in the expansion process, Quebecor’s Quebec City bid, sound as though it’s unlikely to go through at the same time.

Recently, former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney — currently serving as Quebecor’s chairman — conceded that Quebec City may have to wait for an expansion club, citing the struggling Canadian dollar.

Tryamkin to make Canucks debut tonight

2014 NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7
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There’s not much for Vancouver fans to be excited about these days, so Nikita Tryamkin will have to do.

Tryamkin, the towering d-man pried out of the KHL last month, will make his NHL debut tonight when the Canucks host the Avalanche at Rogers Arena.

Tryamkin, officially listed at 6-foot-7, 228 pounds, was Vancouver’s third-round pick (66th overall) at the 2014 draft. For a third-round pick, his arrival in the city has been unusually hyped, though some of that has to do with the uniqueness of his size… and some of it has to do with the fact that, given the playoffs are out of reach, there’s lot much else to get hyped about.

Tryamkin, 21, has spent the last four seasons playing professionally at the KHL level — with Automobilist Yekaterinburg — and had a solid ’15-16 campaign, scoring four goals and 11 points in 53 contests.

It looks as though he will open on a pairing with veteran d-man Dan Hamhuis.


Longtime Blue Jacket Vyborny retires due to injury

TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 19:  David Vyborny #9 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates in a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on February 19, 2008 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario. The Leafs defeated the Blue Jackets 3-1. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
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Veteran forward David Vyborny, who appeared in over 500 NHL contests — all of them coming with the Columbus Blue Jackets — has announced his retirement after suffering a knee injury during Czech League play, per iSport.

Vyborny, 41, sits third all-time on Columbus’ list of games played, with 543. His best campaign came in 2005-06, when he scored a career-high 65 points in 80 games, while averaging over 20 minutes per night.

Edmonton’s second-round pick (33rd overall) in 1993, Vyborny never played for the Oilers but instead signed with Columbus later in his career, making his NHL debut at age 25.

He last played in the NHL in ’07-08 and, from there, spent the remainder of his playing days in the Czech Extraliga — first with Sparta Praha, then with Mlada Boleslav.