Mike Halford

TORONTO, CANADA - APRIL 13: Carey Price #31 of the Montreal Canadiens stands during the anthem prior to a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on April 13, 2013 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada. The Leafs defeated the Canadiens 5-1. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
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Price (flu) skates, but Montoya will start Habs’ home opener

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The good news for Carey Price? He’s back on the ice after missing a week with a severe case of the flu.

The bad news? He’s still not ready to play.

Price skated for 40 minutes ahead of Montreal’s practice on Monday, but it’ll be Al Montoya in net — yes, again — on Tuesday, when the Canadiens make their home debut against the defending Cup champion Penguins.

Price has been out since Oct. 10 with the illness, causing him to miss Montreal’s first two games of the season — a 4-1 win in Buffalo, and an 4-3 OT loss in Ottawa.

Per TSN, Habs head coach Michel Therrien said that Price’s energy levels and weight loss are still issues, which is why Montoya will face Pittsburgh.

The veteran backup has been very solid in relief thus far. Montoya’s posted a 1-0-1 record with a 1.92 GAA and .942 save percentage over two starts, facing an average of 34.5 shots per contest.

Today’s news means that Montreal fans will once again have to wait for their star netminder to make his season debut.

Price, who suffered a season-ending MCL sprain last season, hasn’t played Nov. 25 — he hasn’t played at home since Nov. 22 — though he did return to game action for Team Canada at the World Cup of Hockey, backstopping the squad to the tournament championship.

Goalie nods: With Quick hurt, Zatkoff makes first start for Kings

LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 07:  Goaltender Jeff Zatkoff #37 of the Los Angeles Kings makes a save during a preseason game against the Dallas Stars at T-Mobile Arena on October 7, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Dallas won 6-3.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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It’s Zatkoff time in Los Angeles.

Jeff Zatkoff, the career backup with just 36 games on his resume, will get the biggest opportunity of his NHL career tonight when the Kings host the Flyers at Staples.

Zatkoff will replace the injured Jonathan Quick tonight, and for the foreseeable future. Quick, injured in L.A.’s opening-night loss to the Sharks, doesn’t sound as though he’ll be returning anytime soon.

From L.A. Kings Insider:

Right now, no decision on how to proceed has been made, but Lombardi expressed the desire to have that decision made expeditiously so that it’s not “weeks,” as he said, before there’s any consensus or executive decision on how to proceed.

Lombardi stressed that this is not a short-term injury. Though the term “week-to-week” has been shared by the team, don’t expect to see [Quick] back in the crease for the home stand that opens a week from Saturday.

The injury, per Lombardi, is in the “same area” as the groin, generally speaking. The location wasn’t pinpointed – it’s not necessarily the groin, and in fact sounded as if it was in an area near the groin – but Lombardi said that it wasn’t a knee injury.

Zatkoff, 29, did look sharp in relief of quick on Wednesday night, stopping 15 of 16 shots faced for a .938 save percentage. He also had 11 starts last year for Pittsburgh, so this isn’t completely unfamiliar territory.

For the Flyers, Michal Neuvirth has been named their opening-night starter.

Elsewhere…

Corey Crawford, who allowed three goals on 32 shots in an opening-night loss to St. Louis, will go for Chicago tonight in Nashville. The Preds, to nobody’s surprise, are starting off their campaign with No. 1 netminder Pekka Rinne in goal.

Brian Elliott and Cam Talbot were in goal for Edmonton’s 7-4 win over Calgary on Wednesday, and those two will be back in tonight as the matchup shifts to the Saddledome. Elliott definitely wants to rebound from a shaky performance in his Flames debut.

Ducks sign Rakell to six-year, $22.8M deal

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 21: Rickard Rakell #67 of the Anaheim Ducks skates against the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center on December 21, 2015 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Islanders defeated the Ducks 5-2.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Anaheim opened its campaign with two key unsigned RFAs: Hampus Lindholm, and Rickard Rakell.

And now, only Lindholm remains without a deal.

Anaheim has agreed to a six-year, $22.8 million extension with Rakell, one that carries an average annual cap hit of $3.8 million. It’s a nice contract for the 23-year-old, and a good bump from the $894,166 he was making annually on his previous deal.

Not that Rakell didn’t earn it.

Rakell finished fourth on the Ducks in scoring last year, with 20 goals and 43 points, and led the team in game-winning markers. His emergence over the last two seasons — he had 31 points in 73 contests in ’14-15 — his age (only turned 23 in May) and his versatility (can play center or right wing) are the big reasons why he scored such a sizable raise.

Now, all the Ducks need to do is get Rakell back in the lineup as he recovers from surgery to remove scar tissue that build up after his appendectomy in March. After Anaheim announced the deal, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Bob Murray, provided an update on Rakell:

All this makes the Ducks a team to watch in the coming days. It’s believed Lindholm is angling for an eight-year deal at $6 million per, which — after the Rakell deal — would put the team in a financial bind.

Anaheim has been mentioned in numerous trade rumblings over the last few weeks, as GM Bob Murray will likely have to move a substantial contract to get Lindholm signed.

Winnipeg’s Little out ‘long-term’ after collision with Bickell

WINNIPEG, MB - OCTOBER 25: Bryan Little #18 of the Winnipeg Jets skates down the ice during second period action in an NHL game against the Minnesota Wild at the MTS Centre on October 25, 2015 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Marianne Helm/Getty Images)
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Some tough news for the Jets following last night’s dramatic comeback win over Carolina — veteran center Bryan Little has been lost “long-term” with a lower-body injury, per head coach Paul Maurice.

Little appeared to go knee-on-knee with ‘Canes forward Bryan Bickell during the contest, and exited after playing just 2:48.

The club didn’t offer any specific timetable for return, only saying that Little is out indefinitely.

Losing the 28-year-old will hurt. Little opened the year as the club’s No. 2 center, on a line with Drew Stafford and Shawn Matthias, and was in on the club’s opening goal, setting up Matthias’ first-period marker.

It’s a tough blow for Little as well. He suffered a compression fractured vertebrae last season — an injury that ended his campaign — and, all told, suited up for just 57 of Winnipeg’s 82 games.

When healthy, he’s a productive contributor for the Jets. Little posted a career-high 64 points during the ’13-14 campaign, and a career-high 24 goals the season following. He’s also one of the club’s top faceoff men.

With him gone, Winnipeg looks as though they’ll insert Alex Burmistrov into the lineup, after he sat out against Carolina.

 

Sabres’ Kane out ‘weeks’ after crashing heavily into boards

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Hard to imagine Buffalo’s season starting any worse.

On Friday, head coach Dan Bylsma announced the latest in a series of bad news — Evander Kane suffered three broken ribs in a scary collision during Thursday’s 4-1 loss to Montreal, and will be out “weeks” with the ailment.

Given how things have gone lately, you would’ve thought the Sabres walked under a ladder while a black cat crossed their collective path.

First, the club learned that prized free agent signing Kyle Okposo (knee) would miss the season opener. Then, on the eve of the regular season, star sophomore Jack Eichel suffered a high ankle sprain in practice, which will sideline him for 6-8 weeks.

That left the Sabres pretty undermanned for their home opener against Montreal last night (in addition to Okposo and Eichel, Dmitry Kulikov was also out due to injury).

Things got worse when Kane got hurt, and got even worse as the night went on — the Habs scored four times on just 24 shots against Robin Lehner, and the Sabres were unable to get much of anything past backup Al Montoya, subbing in for Carey Price (flu).