Five games to watch this week


Tuesday: Florida at Philadelphia (7 p.m. ET)

Craig Berube’s first game as head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers after Peter Laviolette was fired today. We already mentioned it here, but it bears repeating: the Flyers have scored three goals in their first three games, all outright losses. Theoretically, they should come out with a much-improved effort Tuesday. The Panthers, meanwhile, started the season well with a 4-2 win in Dallas, but a 7-0 loss in St. Louis kind of put a damper on things.

Tuesday: New Jersey at Vancouver (10 p.m. ET)

Cory Schneider makes his return to Rogers Arena after the shocking draft-day trade that sent him to New Jersey for the Devils’ first-round pick. The 27-year-old lost his first start with his new team, a 3-0 decision Thursday in Pittsburgh. He’s expected to get his second start versus the Canucks, and with his old teammate, Robert Luongo, at the other end of the ice. Can you say “media circus”?

Wednesday: Chicago at St. Louis (8 p.m. ET)

NBCSN continues its “Wednesday Night Rivalry” series with two of the best teams in the league, not to mention a couple of clubs that have been division rivals since 1970.

Remember this?

That was fun.

Thursday: Colorado at Boston (7 p.m. ET)

The Avs play Tuesday in Toronto, so there’s a chance they may not be undefeated anymore by the time they play the B’s. Still, this one should be a good test for Patrick Roy’s troops, who’ve looked pretty darn good so far. Colorado hammered Anaheim, 6-1, to open its schedule then beat Nashville, 3-1, in its next outing. Both those victories came at home though, and Boston is no easy place to play, as evidenced by the Bruins’ first two games, both wins at TD Garden.

Friday: NY Islanders at Chicago (8 p.m. ET)

Two teams that know how to put the puck in the net. The ‘Hawks finished second in goals per game (3.10) in 2013, while New York was seventh (2.81). The Isles have opened the season with two straight trips to the shootout; they won the first one versus New Jersey and lost the second to Columbus. They’ll play Phoenix on Long Island Tuesday before traveling to Chicago to meet the champs.

Blue Jackets GM not pursuing a goalie, plus Rick Nash trade talk


Couple of things to pass along via Columbus Dispatch reporter Aaron Portzline:

First, Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson says he’s not pursuing a goalie right now and that it’s likely Columbus will go into the season with Sergei Bobrovsky and Steve Mason as its net-minding tandem.

Both those guys are coming off disappointing seasons, so it’s a considerable risk for Howson to take. But to be fair, besides Robert Luongo, there aren’t any top goalies available on the trade market or in free agency.

Howson could make, and might’ve already made, a play for Luongo, but it’s not clear whether the latter would waive his no-trade clause to go to Columbus.

Second, Portzline says he’s “been told repeatedly” that Howson has not demanded Chris Kreider, Ryan McDonagh or Derek Stepan when discussing a Rick Nash trade with the New York Rangers.

The Rangers have other prospects like JT Miller, Tim Erixon and Dylan McIlrath that could form part of a package with, say, Brandon Dubinsky and a first-round pick.

Clemmensen re-ups with Florida


Scott Clemmensen is off the market, reports Andy Strickland of The 34-year-old goalie has come to terms with the Florida Panthers on a two-year contract.

“Scott is a high-character, hard-working player who is a true professional in every sense,” said general manager Dale Tallon. “He stepped in and played very well in some tough games for us last season, including recording wins against Los Angeles, Vancouver, San Jose, Washington and Philadelphia. We are very pleased to have him back with our club and look forward to his continued contributions to our organization both on and off the ice.”

A few things about this deal:

First, Clemmensen was one of the top pending UFA goalies, which says more about the thinness of the market than the player. He (.915 save percentage) only started 25 games last season, and he’s never started more than 39.

Second, it leaves the Panthers with two goalies under contract. Jose Theodore has one year left on his deal, and according to, he also has a no-trade clause. So does that take Florida out of the Robert Luongo sweepstakes? Unless Theodore is part of a trade with the Canucks, it would seem to.

Finally, if Luongo (and his $5.3 million cap hit) isn’t coming to the Panthers, it frees up money to spend on other players. Like, perhaps, defenseman Jason Garrison.

Update: ESPN’s Craig Custance reports the Clemmensen deal doesn’t rule out a Luongo trade to Florida.

Luongo got pulled last night and Canucks fans cheered


The Canucks won their seventh in a row last night, battling back to beat Anaheim 5-4 in a shootout. But Vancouver being Vancouver, obviously the only thing everyone’s talking about today is the goaltending. Specifically, the fact Robert Luongo allowed four goals on 15 shots and the crowd at Rogers Arena cheered loudly when he was replaced by Cory Schneider.

From The Province:

In most years, make that in every year before this one, [Luongo’s] outing would have been essentially brushed aside. Loose team, with a loose goalie in a (mostly) mean-nothing game.

Who cares? Wake us up when it’s for real.

But this isn’t most years. This is a Vancouver Canucks team with a finite window, whose only real goal is to win it all. This is a Vancouver Canucks team with a backup goalie who started Tuesday with a 9-2-1 record, a 1.50 GAA and a .952 save percentage since the all-star break.

Oh, it’s easy to love the backup. But it’s never been this easy.

Luongo provided the predictable “it is what it is” comment when asked about the crowd’s reaction, adding, “I play with a lot of heart and unfortunately I am as disappointed as everybody else. You just put it behind you and move on.”

Safe to say he heard the crowd’s cheers loud and clear.

Vancouver has two games left before the playoffs. Luongo will get a chance to put last night behind him. And yes, his teammates have his back.

“None of those goals were Lu’s fault,” Henrik Sedin said. “Those were bang-bang plays. Guys were just walking in. It was a tough night for him because we gave up those chances.”

But a lot of Canucks fans have already made up their minds, and they want Schneider.