Time: 07:00 P.M. EST Venue: Prudential Center NEWARK, N. J. -- The Arizona Coyotes entered the season with increased expectations after installing new general manager John Chayka, embracing a more analytical approach and landing prized defenseman Alex Goligoski in free agency. Through five games, that has not translated into success. The Coyotes defeated the Philadelphia Flyers in their season opener, but they lost their next four games -- all on the road, all in regulation -- and must find a way to win Tuesday in Prudential Center, a place where the New Jersey Devils are perfect in two contests this season." You always expect to win. That was the thing with our group," Coyotes defenseman Connor Murphy said. "During training camp, we wanted the mindset to be that every game, you are supposed to win." We are playing to make the playoffs and be a top team in the league. We haven't shown that at all. It's a long season and we can get there, but it's going to take work." They'll have to do it without goaltender Mike Smith, who left the team's second game of the season with a lower-body injury and is listed as week to week. Backup goaltender Louis Domingue has started the past three games and owns a 5.03 goals-against average and .851 save percentage in five games. The Devils (2-2-1), with just eight goals in five games, might be the perfect opponent for the Coyotes (1-4-0) as they limp along on their six-game road swing." We knew this was going to be a tough trip," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "We've got to find out about our team; every game we find out a little more. There are some areas that are improving and there are some areas which still need lots of work." We've got lots of players that are getting good experience right now, but all that being said, wins are what you come in this league for. You've got to have wins." Left winger Taylor Hall was acquired during the offseason to help the Devils fix their 30th-ranked offense of a year ago, and he has done his part with three goals. But important forwards Adam Henrique and Michael Cammalleri, who combined for 42 goals in 144 games last season, have yet to register a goal this season." It is frustrating," Henrique said. "We're getting opportunities and we can't seem to find one. We just stuck with it." Devils goaltender Cory Schneider is once again allowing his team to win games they would normally lose. He has a .943 save percentage, the best mark in the league among goaltenders to play more than three games. He has allowed two goals or fewer in his past three starts." You almost rely on him too much because he's so good in there," Hall said. "When I'm on the bench sitting down, and I can't really see the end result of a shot, I don't even panic because I know he's going to make the save. He's been our backbone. He's the best player on our team. The way he's been able to give us stability back there is awesome." The Coyotes have their own scoring woes, as left winger Anthony Duclair and center Max Domi have yet to score in five games this season after reaching 20 and 18 goals a season ago, respectively. If the Coyotes are to snap their losing streak, they might need a meaningful contribution from their second-year stars." Max has had some decent games, still does some good things with the puck," Tippett said to AZCentral.com. "Hasn't scored like he did the start of last year. And Duclair, he had a real high shooting percentage last year that everything he shot really went in the net." But now the concerning thing for me is he hasn't gotten as near as many chances as he did last year. So he's gotta continue to work at his game to get his game to a level where he can help us."
Time: 07:30 P.M. EST Venue: Wells Fargo Center PHILADELPHIA -- Coming off a tough 3-1 loss in Montreal on Monday night, the Flyers packed their bags and boarded a late flight back to Philadelphia, where they will take on the injury-depleted Buffalo Sabres at the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday night. The Flyers (2-3-1) received a strong, 30-save effort from goaltender Steve Mason against the Canadiens but could not solve Montreal goaltender Carey Price, who turned away 32 of their 33 shots." We played well," Flyers right winger Jakub Voracek said in Montreal. "It was a good road game. I thought we skated well. Same with the other game we lost this year (in Chicago). We were right there in the third period." Mason said, "The nice thing, is we can get right back at it (Tuesday night) and hopefully get a better result at home." Unlike the start of last season, when Claude Giroux and Voracek combined for just three goals in their first 35 games, the two already have a totaql of three goals and 12 assists in their first six games this season. The Sabres (1-2-1) arrived in Philadelphia on Monday, several hours before the Flyers. They have not played since a 2-1 loss to the Canucks in Vancouver on Thursday, and their three points are the fewest in the Eastern Conference. Both teams are expected to go with their backup goaltenders. Flyers netminder Michal Neuvirth (1-0-0, 4.23 goals-against average, .854 save percentage) is likely to see his first action since being pulled in the 7-4 loss to the Blackhawks on Oct. 18. The Sabres will go with goaltender Anders Nilsson in place of regular starter Robin Lehner, who remained home in Buffalo with an illness. Lehner played in each of the Sabres' first four games, in which Buffalo was outscored 12-11. Nilsson, 26, went 10-13-2 with the Edmonton Oilers and St. Louis Blues last season. He was traded to the Sabres last summer for a seventh-round pick. The Sabres recalled goalie Linus Ullmark from Rochester of the AHL to serve as Nilsson's backup on Tuesday night. In an effort to ignite an offense that has been without dynamic forwards Jack Eichel (high ankle sprain, six weeks) and Evander Kane (fractured ribs, one to two weeks), the Sabres likely will have a new look on their top two lines and their bottom two defense pairs Tuesday. Buffalo coach Dan Bylsma said he would move 20-year-old Sam Reinhart from right wing to center in an effort to get more offense out of the third-year forward. Through four games, Reinhart has no goals and two assists. He will skate between left winger Tyler Ennis and right winger Zemgus Girgensons. Ennis has no goals and one assist, and Girgensons has one goal." When I'm at my best, I'm moving my feet," Reinhart told the Buffalo News. "I'm taking up time and space on the forecheck. At times when I move to center, it helps me do that." On the back end, the Sabres' top pairing of Josh Gorges and Rasmus Ristolainen will remain intact, but Dmitry Kulikov will move up to play alongside Zach Bogosian on the second pair, and Jake McCabe will play beside Cody Franson on the third grouping.
Time: 07:30 P.M. EST Venue: Joe Louis Arena DETROIT -- The Detroit Red Wings and the Carolina Hurricanes could both be without key players when they meet on Tuesday night. Detroit hosts Carolina at Joe Louis Arena at 7:30. Red Wings left wing and alternate captain Justin Abdelkader missed Saturday night's 3-0 win against the San Jose Sharks with a lower-body injury and he is day-to-day. Detroit coach Jeff Blashill has not ruled him out for Tuesday. Abdelkader has a goal and is minus-2 in five games. Hurricanes left wing Jeff Skinner's status is uncertain after he missed practice on Monday but worked out in the PNC Arena weight room. Skinner did not appear to be injured Saturday during Carolina's 6-3 road loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. He was involved in a late scrap with Flyers right wing Wayne Simmonds in front of the benches and each was sent off with a roughing penalty. Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said Skinner was not concussed but the team was waiting on results of medical testing. Skinner is day-to-day and will make the one-game game trip to Detroit." I think he's OK," Peters told the Charlotte News-Observer. Skinner owns two goals and six points in five games and is tied with Lee Stempniak for the team scoring lead. Carolina (1-2-2) has yet to play a home game this season. Peters said the team has given up too many goals but does not blame goalies Came Ward and Eddie Lack. He said the Canes' five-man play needed to be better, helping the goalies." We knew we had more skill. Now we have to make sure our work ethic is where it was last year," he said. "We had a very hard-working team last year. We've got to get back to that." The Red Wings are 4-2-0 after winning four straight. Before beating San Jose on Saturday, Detroit defeated the Nashville Predators 5-3 at home on Friday night to make it two straight against top teams from the Western Conference." These two games I think we took steps forward as a team," coach Jeff Blashill told mlive.com. "We got to measure ourselves against two real good teams. So far, everybody we've played was a playoff team last year, with the exception of Ottawa, and they look to be improved." The Red Wings defensemen played particularly well in the last two wins and are doing a good job of limiting turnovers, preventing opponents from getting easy chances and getting the puck out of the zone quickly." I think we're playing better in our own end," left wing and captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "I think we're faster. We're stopping them a little easier. They're not spending as much time (in Red Wings' zone) as they did the first two games. When we do that, we spend more time in their end." Detroit defenseman Mike Green was the NHL's Third Star for last week after his first career hat trick in a 5-1 win over the Ottawa Senators in the season opener at Joe Louis Arena. Green also posted two assists in four games.
Time: 07:30 P.M. EST Venue: Air Canada Centre TORONTO -- Steven Stamkos makes his first return to Toronto on Tuesday night after electing to re-sign with the Tampa Bay Lightning in the offseason rather than entertain an offer from the Maple Leafs. Five games into the 2016-17 season and it appears Stamkos made the right decision. The 26-year-old center has three goals and two assists and the Bolts sit second in the Atlantic Division behind only the Montreal Canadiens with a 4-1-0 record. The Markham, Ontario native signed an eight-year, $68 million deal in June prior to becoming an unrestricted free agent." I made the decision to stay with the team that drafted me and brought me up as an 18-year-old kid and it's my second home now," Stamkos said. "There's no regrets and I'm looking forward to hopefully winning another hockey game here on our road trip." This year, having the contract done, there's no distractions, just coming to the rink with a clear mind and that's something as an athlete sometimes you take for granted: just being able to come to the rink and have fun doing what you're doing and help your team in anyway you can." Tampa Bay is currently in the middle of a six-game, 11-day road trip, which began with a 4-1 win over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night. The Maple Leafs limp home to Air Canada Centre following a three-game road trip, which saw Toronto lose in Winnipeg, Minnesota and Chicago while picking up two of a possible six points. The Maple Leafs will have a familiar face in the lineup as they begin a brief two-game home stand on Tuesday after claiming Ben Smith off waivers from the Colorado Avalanche. Smith, a 28-year-old forward, appeared in 16 games with Toronto last season and another five games with their American Hockey League affiliate before signing with the Avs as a free agent in in the offseason." (Smith) gives us a right-hand faceoff guy, can penalty kill too," said Leafs head coach Mike Babcock. "That was a concern for us. (Zach) Hyman and Leo (Komarov) are taking all the draws for us and they don't play center so (we) want to shore that up." In order to make room for Smith on the roster, Toronto placed veteran forward Milan Michalek on waivers on Monday. If he clears, the 31-year-old will report to the club's AHL affiliate. Toronto won its lone home game this season, defeating the Boston Bruins 4-1 on Oct. 15, but are 1-1-3 five games into the season and sit seventh in the Metropolitan Division." The 'red flag' is the goals-against," said Babcock. "I like that we score lots, and we're entertaining, but I like winning, too, so we've got to keep it out." Ben Bishop, who is 2-1-0 with an .861 save percentage and a 3.68 goals-against average, likely gets the start in goal for the Lightning while the Maple Leafs will counter with Frederik Andersen. The 27-year-old Danish puck stopper is 1-0-2 in three starts this season while posting an .879 save percentage and a 3.64 G. A. A. Toronto concludes its home stand on Thursday when it plays host to the Florida Panthers.
Time: 07:30 P.M. EST Venue: Quicken Loans Arena The city of Cleveland has waited 52 years to celebrate a championship, yet on the night the Cavaliers will receive their rings and the banner is raised to the rafters, somehow this team has become a bit of an afterthought within its own hard-luck city. The Cleveland Indians opening Game 1 of the World Series against the Chicago Cubs across the street from the Cavs opener against the New York Knicks has added an extra element of electricity within a fan base that has little experience celebrating champions. But they're quickly getting the hang of it. LeBron James and the Cavs have waited all summer for the jewelry that accompanies being the first team in history to rally from a 3-1 deficit to win an NBA championship. The fact they'll get their rings on the same night James' good friend Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks are in town makes the evening even more fascinating. The Knicks, after all, greatly aided the Cavs' title by giving them J. R. Smith and Iman Shumpert in a midseason trade two seasons ago." It's just a special night, it's something that no one can ever take away from you no matter how many missed shots, no matter how many turnovers, no matter how many games that you've lost, they can never take that moment away from you," James said. "I'm happy not only for every guy here, but our fans and the organization. It's something that's going to live in the archives forever." James and the Cavs also faced the Knicks on an equally emotional night two years ago when James made his grand return to Cleveland. The emotion of the night seemed to overwhelm the Cavs, who lost to an inferior Knicks team. James, however, is 2-0 on previous ring nights with the Miami Heat." It's difficult because you just reflect on last year when you should be worrying about this year, but it's human nature," James said. "We're not there celebrating this year, we're there celebrating our accomplishment from last year." Our fans have the right to celebrate that, we have the right to celebrate that and it's unfortunate that we also at the same time now got to get back to a new season, but that's what the job is and we have to do that. It should never take away from the night itself." New York, conversely, is hopeful it can make a postseason push in the East with the debut of its new-look roster. New guard Derrick Rose participated in just three practices since he was cleared of sexual assault charges last week. Rose missed more than two weeks due to the trial, including the final five preseason games. He hasn't played in a game since Oct. 4, but coach Jeff Hornacek doesn't believe Rose will be on any minute restrictions. Anthony missed the playoffs the last three years in New York and now must stand and watch again Tuesday while James, one of his closest friends in the league, collects his third ring. Anthony is still searching for his first, although budding star Kristaps Porzingis, Rose and new center Joakim Noah should at least inch the Knicks back into the postseason." I believe in this group of guys," Anthony told Newsday. "I believe in this team. I think we'll have a special year."
Time: 08:00 P.M. EST Venue: Scottrade Center ST. LOUIS -- Two of the players who played key roles in leading the St. Louis Blues to the Western Conference final last year will be back in town Tuesday night with the Calgary Flames. Right winger Troy Brouwer, who was second on the team with eight goals in the playoffs last year, signed with the Flames as a free agent over the summer. Goalie Brian Elliott was traded to the Flames during the NHL draft. Brouwer will definitely be in the lineup for the Flames, but Elliott's status is not as clear cut. He had to go seven rounds deep into a shootout Monday night to help the Flames earn only their second win of the season, 3-2 over the Blackhawks in Chicago -- his first victory with his new team. Elliott did not play when the two teams met last Saturday in Chicago, as Chad Johnson started in goal. After Tuesday night, the Flames will not play again in St. Louis until March 25. The shootout win came after the Flames were only 1-4-1 to start the season, allowing a league-high 27 goals. Elliott made several key saves in the third period and overtime, and then stopped all seven attempts by the Blackhawks in the shootout. The Flames' two goals in regulation both came on the power play after they had scored on only one of 25 power-play attempts in their first six games." We need to have confidence in ourselves," Brouwer told the Calgary Sun. "It's been a little bit of a rocky start and it's obviously not where we want to be and we're playing some tough teams, but we need to have confidence in ourselves, knowing that we're a real good hockey team." The Blues have not played since their 6-4 win Saturday night in Calgary, which featured the third career hat trick for left winger David Perron. He was part of a new line combination that included Jaden Schwartz at center and Vladimir Tarasenko on right wing. An injury to center Jori Lehtera and the return of Schwartz from an elbow injury prompted the Blues to juggle their top forward lines, and they elected to move Schwartz to center so Alexander Steen could stay on right wing, with Robby Fabbri on left wing and Paul Stastny at center." That line (Perron, Schwartz and Tarasenko) obviously had some great chemistry for the first time," said Blues coach Ken Hitchcock. "Jaden hasn't played center ice for a little while. That's the first time that line was together and they showed great chemistry great cohesion on the ice. It was great to see." Lehtera, on injured reserve, skated on his own on Monday and the Blues said his status would be re-evaluated on Tuesday. He missed all three games in western Canada last week because of an upper-body injury. Left winger Dmitrij Jaskin did not practice Monday because of a lower-body injury, but Hitchcock said he still is a possibility to play on Tuesday night. Carter Hutton will get the start in goal for the Blues. He earned a 3-2 win over the New York Rangers in his only start this season, on Oct. 15, stopping 33 of 35 shots, including all 15 in the third period when the Rangers out-shot the Blues 15-0. The Blues have opened the season with a 4-1-1 record, and their special team units have played a major role in that quick start. They have six power-play goals in their first six games, and their penalty-kill unit has allowed only one goal in 20 opportunities. They enter the game against the Flames having killed off their opponent's last 19 consecutive chances." I don't want to talk about it," Hitchcock said Monday. "I'm not talking about it."
Time: 08:08 P.M. EST Venue: Progressive Field CLEVELAND -- Who wrecks the hex?Who can reverse the curse?The Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians will send their postseason aces into Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday with an eye toward winning their first championship in three generations ... or much, much longer. You know the history by now. Cleveland has not won a World Series since 1948. The Indians came up short in their three most recent appearances, the last in 1997, when Edgar Renteria's walk-off single in the 11th inning of Game 7 gave the Florida Marlins the title. The Cubs have not been in the Series since 1945 and have not won it since 1908. Numerologists suggest this might be the year. There are 108 stitches on a baseball. Wrigley Field sits on Chicago's planned development lot 108. The Cubs win the Series in the movie "Back to the Future II," which has a running length of 108 minutes. And on and on. Not that the teams are focused on the history." After you've actually done it, that's when you really dwell on that particular thought," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "In the meantime, I promise you, our guys are going to be in the present tense. I think we all have a tremendous amount of respect for history and what's happened before us or not happened before us. But, you know, you go in that room right now, they're very young. Really not impacted by a lot of the lore, I don't think." Cubs left-hander Jon Lester and Cleveland right-hander Corey Kluber have been the two best starting pitchers in the postseason while lifting the Great Lakes neighbors this far. Each will make his fourth start of the postseason, his third in a Game 1. Lester is 2-0 with three quality starts, an 0.86 ERA and an 0.76 WHIP in 21 innings in the playoffs this year. He threw eight shutout innings in a 1-0 victory over the San Francisco Giants in the first game of the National League Division Series, gave up one run in six innings of a no-decision in the 8-4 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first game of the NL Championship Series and gave up one run in seven innings in an 8-4 victory in Game 5 of the NLCS." You know, there will be nerves and there will be adrenaline and all that stuff when I go out there to throw the first pitch and kind of get the ball rolling," Lester said, "but once you get into the game, I feel like then you're able to go back to your game plan." Kluber's postseason ERA, 0.98, trails only Lester among pitchers who have made more than one playoff start this month. He won both of his previous Game 1 starts, throwing seven shutout innings in a 6-0 victory over the Boston Red Sox in the American League Division Series and 6 1/3 shutout innings in a 2-0 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays in the first game of the AL Championship Series. In Game 5 of the ALCS, he lost after allowing two runs in five innings." Obviously, you're in the World Series, and there's two teams left and all that kind of stuff," Kluber said. "For me at least, it's been all about getting prepared and being ready when it is time to throw that first pitch." The teams also have more than the usual familiarity. Cleveland manager Terry Francona led ghost-busting Boston to its first World Series title in 86 years in 2004, then to another crown in 2007, both times for general manager Theo Epstein, now the Cubs' president." I know that's a really cool thing for fans to talk about and stuff," Francona said. "It really doesn't enter into what we're doing. I just think if you look too far back, you look too far forward, you miss what's right in front of you." Epstein interviewed Maddon for the Boston managerial job in 2004 before hiring Francona. Maddon said the other day the Red Sox made the right choice at the time." Our players are going to dictate who wins and loses on both sides, as it should be, but Theo had the guts to hire me up there when I didn't have a ton of resume and they were expected to win, and he believed in me," Francona said. "We went eight years of a lot of good baseball." Lester won 65 games in his four full seasons as a starter under Francona, who was replaced after 2011 and hired by Cleveland in 2013. Lester is 8-6 with a 2.05 ERA in 19 playoff appearances, 17 starts, and he won four games in the Red Sox's run to the 2013 World Series title." I watch him pitch right now and when he takes the mound, extremely calm," Maddon said. "He's in the moment. There is something about that internal level of confidence and the ability to -- this is an overused term, but it's true -- slow things down. I think some players have that ability better than others." The Cubs had 33 hits while winning the final three games of the NLCS against the Dodgers. Anthony Rizzo was 7-for-14 with two homers, Addison Russell 6-for-13 with two homers and Dexter Fowler 6-for-14 with two doubles. Cleveland's staff, despite injuries to three start pitchers, has given only 15 runs in eight playoff games, sweeping Boston and taking out Toronto in five.
Time: 08:30 P.M. EST Venue: American Airlines Center DALLAS -- When the Winnipeg Jets and Dallas Stars hit the ice Tuesday night at American Airlines Center, both teams will be looking to get past disappointing losses. Winnipeg (2-3-0), tied for last in the Central Division, lost 3-0 to the visiting Edmonton Oilers in the NHL Heritage Classic, an outdoor game, on Sunday. The Jets, 0-1-0 on the road, are starting a run of three consecutive games against division foes, with the next two against Dallas. The teams have a rematch in Winnipeg on Thursday." And now the games will change. The first four had a certain feel to it in terms of style, and there's always bit more of an edge when you get into the Central Division," Jets coach Paul Maurice said after practice Monday. "The Dallas games are always high-end at both ends. We've got to make the most of the chances we get in these games." Dallas (2-2-1) heads into this division game off a 3-0 home loss of its own, a shutout defeat Saturday against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Stars got forward Ales Hemsky (groin) back for his season debut Saturday. However, Hemsky re-injured his groin and landed back on injured reserve Monday afternoon. Dallas recalled forward Justin Dowling, 26, from Texas of the AHL on Monday. Dowling, who was tied for second in the AHL with eight points, figures to make his NHL debut at some point this week. While Hemsky returned Saturday, the Stars were without forward Patrick Eaves, who picked up a lower-body injury in a 4-3 overtime loss to Los Angeles on Thursday. Patrick Sharp, who experienced concussion-like symptoms after a hit against the Kings, also didn't play against Columbus. Neither Eaves or Sharp skated Monday in Frisco, Texas, where the Stars practice. However, coach Lindy Ruff said Eaves possibly could play on Tuesday. Stars forward Jiri Hudler, sidelined due to the flu, skated on his own Monday but is still out. Dallas might also be without veteran center Jason Spezza, who left practice early on Monday with an issue that flared up in the loss to the Blue Jackets. Ruff said Spezza's status would be re-evaluated Tuesday morning when the Stars hold their morning skate. Stars captain Jamie Benn missed practice Monday, but his absence was an excused "maintenance day." Ruff won't use his club's current injury woes as an excuse for the Stars' current struggles. Instead, he saw plenty to address from Saturday's loss during practice on Monday." Well, there's lot of things that I thought we could have done better inside the game (against Columbus) ," Ruff said. "It all comes down to trust. If you don't trust the way you're playing, you don't get much done. Everybody has to do their job." One change Ruff won't rule out for Tuesday is a complete retooling of his defensive pairings. He completely juggled his pairs during practice on Monday, looking to find some sort of combinations that will work consistently going forward, changes he may or may not employ against the Jets." There's got to be a sense of accountability on how we play in the back end," Ruff said. "And if you're going to struggle on the back end, then we've got guys who are going to step in and play." Dallas will be looking to salvage a win in the finale of a three-game homestand. And while this will be the Stars' first look at the Jets, it is a team they know well from facing them countless times in the Central over the past few seasons." They got a good team," Stars defenseman Dan Hamhuis said. "They're always physical and a good team to play against. It should be a good game for us." It is a similar story for the Jets, who will play at Colorado on Friday to finish out their run of three straight against Central foes." Yeah, they're big games," Winnipeg forward Blake Wheeler said. "We didn't do a good enough job in our division last year, and ultimately, if you want to achieve any of your goals, you have to have success within your division. The (Dallas) team we play the next two games, they were really good last year, really good again this year. It's going to be really fun to see where we are."
Time: 10:00 P.M. EST Venue: Moda Center PORTLAND, Ore. -- Damian Lillard has big plans for the 2016-17 NBA season -- for himself and the Portland Trail Blazers." I want to get to the Western Conference finals and give ourselves a chance to get to the (NBA) Finals," said Lillard, who leads the Trail Blazers into action Tuesday night against the Utah Jazz at the Moda Center in the regular-season opener for both teams. "I think it's possible." Lillard's personal goal entering the season?"MVP," he said. "I want to be the MVP. If we come out and do the things we're capable of doing as a team, if we win games, that means my performance will be at the level of an MVP." There are people in high places who aren't scoffing at the possibility. In Oakland, Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr was asked about Kevin Durant's chances to claim the MVP Award in his first season with the Warriors." I think K. D. is kind of like Gary Johnson -- a third-party guy who is going to come in and take a few votes from Steph (Curry), takes some from LeBron (James), and then Damian Lillard wins the election," Kerr told Bay Area reporters. "That's my forecast." Lillard, 26, had his best season in 2015-16, gaining second-team All-NBA honors for the first time. The two-time All-Star point guard finished eighth in MVP balloting, joining James, Curry and Russell Westbrook as the only players to place among the league's top 10 in scoring (25.1, sixth) and assists (6.8, eighth) during the regular season. After finishing fourth in the Western Conference with a 44-38 record and advancing to the second round of the playoffs before being eliminated by the Warriors, the Blazers have reason to believe they can make a deeper run this season. Except for reserve guard Gerald Henderson, they retain all the key components of the 2015-16 team. And they have added free-agent Evan Turner, who finished fifth in the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year Award balloting while with the Boston Celtics a year ago. Portland has one of the NBA's deepest rosters. Lillard and CJ McCollum will start in the backcourt, flanked by Moe Harkless, Al-Farouq Aminu and Mason Plumlee on the front line. The rotation to start the season is expected to include Turner, forward Meyers Leonard and swing man Allen Crabbe, plus perhaps forward Noah Vonleh and/or point guard Shabazz Napier. Utah expects to show improvement, too, after barely missing the playoffs last season, finishing ninth in the West with a 40-42 record. The Jazz made three veteran offseason acquisitions -- point guard George Hill, swingman Joe Johnson and power forward Boris Diaw -- to a young nucleus that includes front-liners Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert." We get something from all three," shooting guard Rodney Hood told the Deseret News. "With Boris, his passing ability, his knowledge of the game. He's always teaching us little things here and there to make things easier. With George, pushing the pace, being a leader ... you're always hearing his voice. With Joe, he's always in my ear telling me little things I can do to make the game easier. All three have helped a lot. It's more than just the physical things." The Jazz come to Portland with a decidedly short cast. Hayward, their best player, will miss the game with a left ring finger that was broken three weeks ago. Reserve guard Alec Burks, and probably Favors, will miss the game with knee issues. That means Diaw and Johnson will likely team with Gobert on the front line in a Utah starting lineup that will include Hill and Hood in the backcourt. Utah has being forecast to finish as high as fifth in the West." We're a little bit of a fashionable pick," third-year coach Quin Snyder said. "But that was with Gordon and Derrick and Alec." Guards Dante Exum and Shelvin Mack and forwards Trey Lyles and Joe Ingles are among those who will come off the bench for the Jazz.
Time: 10:00 P.M. EST Venue: Rogers Arena VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The Vancouver Canucks will test their early-season fatigue levels when they host the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night. Meanwhile, the Senators (3-2-0-0) will attempt to adapt quickly to playing in Western Canada after a long flight -- and overcome repeated failure at Rogers Arena. The Canucks (4-1-0-1) will play their third game in four nights while trying to overcome two losses in California, to the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings. Sunday's 4-2 setback in Anaheim was Vancouver's first loss in regulation time after the first five games involved overtime or a shootout. Canucks coach Willie Desjardins was hoping that the losses were due more to fatigue than a downturn in play after his team reeled off four straight wins to start the season." I thought we were tired as a group," Desjardins told Post Media after Sunday's loss to the Ducks. "I thought our (defensemen) were tired. L. A. is a big, heavy team and they might have wore a little bit out on our (defense), I think." After a team day off Monday, the defense crew will have some refreshment available Tuesday. On Monday, the Canucks called up rookie defensemen Troy Stecher from Utica of the AHL. Stecher, a native of the Vancouver suburb of Richmond, B. C., who played three seasons at the University of North Dakota, turned heads in the preseason with his strong play. He showed offensive flair and the ability to move the puck quickly out of the defensive zone. Desjardins admitted Stecher "threw a wrench" into final roster selection plans. Stecher was sent down largely because, as a rookie, he did not have to clear waivers to be demoted -- and other veterans did. Although he was expected to be back with Vancouver at some point this season, Stecher has arrived sooner than expected, possibly because fellow rearguard Nikita Tryamkin's days with the Canucks are limited. Tryamkin, who saw action with Vancouver last season but is still classified as a rookie, has a clause in his contract that requires him to be returned to the Kontinental Hockey League instead of being sent to the minors. The 22-year-old Russian, who stands six-foot-seven and weighs 220 pounds, has been a healthy scratch in all six of Vancouver's games to date, and the Canucks have attempted to send him to Utica, but he has refused to go." There is no possibility that he will play in the American Hockey League," Canucks general manager Jim Benning told Post Media over the weekend. "We've explored that. We've talked to him and his agent and he has said no." Stecher, 22, has recorded one assist and two penalty minutes in four games with Utica this season. The Canucks also promoted winger Jason Megna on Monday. Megna, 26, who signed as a free agent in the offseason after splitting last season with the New York Rangers and their Hartford farm team, is expected to fill in for Alex Burrows, who is sidelined with an undisclosed injury. Burrows and fellow winger Derek Dorsett (shoulder) missed Sunday's game in Anaheim due to health woes, forcing the Canucks to use defenseman Alex Biega as a forward. While the Canucks were still in California, the Senators arrived a day early in Vancouver in a bid to reverse some misfortune in Canada's westernmost city. The Sens have not won at Rogers Arena since March 13, 2004 -- although they did post a victory next door at B. C. Place Stadium in the Heritage Classic in 2014, when former Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo stewed on the bench as a backup in what would be his final game with the team before a trade to Florida. The Sens hit town two days early -- instead of the usual one -- in a bid to reverse the bad history." We know that we can't just say, 'OK guys let's try to get over the time change.' It's something you have to live (with) and every day you have ahead of the game makes a difference," coach Guy Boucher was quoted by Post Media after a practice Monday." I believe this is going to be enough. The practice was good. The guys were intense, focused and we tackled everything we wanted to do. So I think we got everything we needed out of the last few days. We had a day off, a hard-working day and now we have to be ready to start on time." In addition, Boucher has disrupted all of his line combinations to help rejuvenate the Sens following their 4-1 home loss to Tampa Bay on Saturday." I was just trying out a few things," Boucher told Post Media. "We're on the road, so we don't have the matchups we want, so I'm just trying to balance things out so we get good matchups with the four lines."
Time: 10:00 P.M. EST Venue: SAP Center at San Jose SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks meet Tuesday night, looking as much to reacquaint themselves with West Coast hockey as to get their early struggles straightened out. The Sharks play for the first time at SAP Center since opening night on Oct. 12 when San Jose beat Los Angeles 2-1. The Sharks have been on the road ever since, capping a 2-3 trip on Saturday with a 3-0 loss at Detroit. The Ducks, who opened the season with four straight losses during a five-game trip, beat Vancouver 4-2 on Sunday at Honda Center before climbing right back on a plane. San Jose and Anaheim have combined to play 10 of its first 12 games away. Tuesday marks the first of three in a row at home for the Sharks while the Ducks will play as hosts five of the next six after Tuesday. Both are taking the opportunity of home cooking to tweak how they've gone about things thus far. For the Sharks, that means new forward-line combinations, and the Ducks are looking to spark a slow-starting power play. San Jose coach Peter DeBoer will have offseason acquisition Mikkel Boedker's added speed on the left wing alongside center Joe Thornton and captain Joe Pavelski. Former top-liner Tomas Hertl moves to center to play with wingers Patrick Marleau and Matt Nieto. In addition, right winger Joel Ward joins center Logan Couture and Joonas Donskoi, and Chris Tierney will center a fourth group including Melker Karlsson and Tommy Wingels." It's not a panic situation or anything, I think you're always looking for ways to get the most out of your group," DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. "Our four-line game hasn't been where I want it to be." Defenseman Brent Burns is off to a fast start offensively. He has three goals and nine points to share the league scoring lead with Edmonton's Connor McDavid before Monday's play. Pavelski has two goals and seven points and Couture and Thornton have five points apiece." There are nights where we handle the puck well and make some passes and keep it pretty simple. We've had success on those nights," Pavelski told the San Jose Mercury News. "You just have to understand the recipe. ... There's really no shortcuts around it." In addition, San Jose's power play contributed a goal in each of its first three games, but is 0 of 8 in the last three outings. Overall, the Sharks are 3 of 20 on the power play as are the Ducks. Both teams look to get their special teams going." When you look at the history of the group, I don't any doubt they're going to have success," DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. "It hasn't started the way we wanted, the puck hasn't gone in and we're pressing a little bit now, but that will turn around." I think that mimics our five-on-fove play a little bit. We're creating some chances but not winning. We've got to find a way to stick some pucks in the net." The Ducks put defenseman Shea Theodore, a recent call-up, on the power play to add a spark and the group responded with a 1-of-2 effort during a win over the Canucks. The power play is one area that Anaheim is missing hold-out restricted free agent Hampus Lindholm." We know Shea Theodore has that ability, offensive instincts and whatnot to run a power play," Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle told the Orange County Register. "Right now, he gives us that option of not taxing Cam (Fowler) and Sami Vatanen. To play the full two minutes of a power play, that's tough. Plus to play a regular shift, plus they're getting some penalty-killing time." At even strength, the Ducks rely as usual on veteran forwards Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, who are joined by Nick Richie on left wing. Getzlaf leads the team with eight points on the strength of seven assists. Perry, who is next, has three goals and five points. His next point will be career No. 670 and will make Perry third on the franchise list in points behind Teemu Selanne (988) and Getzlaf (749). Getzlaf, the captain, sees his team gaining momentum." We've been building," Getzlaf told the team's website. "It started in the second period against the Islanders (Oct. 16, a 3-2 shootout loss). We've started to build something from there." Anaheim, which plays San Jose three times between Nov. 26-Dec. 27, won the last three meetings between the teams last year after losing its 2015-16 season opener to the Sharks.
Time: 10:30 P.M. EST Venue: ORACLE Arena OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Kevin Durant era tips off for the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night against an opponent, the San Antonio Spurs, that both Durant and the Warriors would consider unfriendly. After signing a two-year, $54.3 million deal to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder in the offseason, Durant is expected to take his place alongside holdover Warriors standouts Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green in the nightcap of TNT's opening-night doubleheader (10:30 p.m. ET). And he will do so against a Spurs team that also will sport a new look this season -- albeit one with a key piece missing. In its quest to unseat Golden State as the two-time Western Conference champs, San Antonio will go forward without future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan, who retired in July after his 19th season. Before concluding the addition of Durant and the subtraction of Duncan tilts the balance significantly in the Warriors' favor, consider this: The last four times the Spurs played Golden State without their star big man, they won two of them. The Spurs went after Durant in free agency, then settled for Pau Gasol, who is primed to join a star-studded collection of talent himself. San Antonio returns Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard from a team that won 67 games last season." I wouldn't think of ourselves as the guinea pig," Gasol said Monday when asked if the Spurs saw themselves as a test experiment for Golden State's new concoction. "We have an incredible team here with a lot of talent and a lot of experience. It's going to be an interesting, challenging first game." The Warriors feel the same way, and with good reason. Even after winning the season series 3-1 last season, Golden State has prevailed just six times in its past 30 regular-season meetings with the Spurs. Meanwhile, halfway across the country, Durant was having similar struggles with his Southwest Division rival. His 25.8-point career scoring average against the Spurs is lower than his mark all teams except the Charlotte Hornets, Dallas Mavericks, Milwaukee Bucks and Portland Trail Blazers. The Warriors will take the court fully aware the NBA hasn't scheduled a coming-out party for Durant on opening night." It'll be a really good atmosphere, obviously, and I'm sure there will be a very high level of play on both ends," Curry said. "It'll take a lot to get a win." The Warriors did more tinkering to their record-breaking, 73-win team than adding Durant. They even plucked one of the Spurs -- David West -- with a team-friendly, $1.6 million offer that was similar to the one ($1.5 million) that lured the veteran away from the Indiana Pacers for a shot at a title in San Antonio last season. That didn't work out as planned, as West contributed only a career-worst average of 4.0 rebounds and his lowest scoring output in 10 years (7.1 points per game) to the Spurs' quest. So now, instead of backing up Duncan and LaMarcus Aldridge as he did a year ago, he will team with Zaza Pachulia in replacing Andrew Bogut in Golden State's bid for a second championship in three seasons.
Time: 10:30 P.M. EST Venue: Staples Center LOS ANGELES -- After a sluggish start, Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella is pleased with the way his club has responded the past two games." We're coming together," Tortorella told NHL.com. "We all play together, we're all on the same page and we (have) each other's back." The Blue Jackets open a three-game West Coast swing at Staples Center on Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Kings. The Blue Jackets (2-2-0) fell to Boston 6-3 and to San Jose 3-2 to open the season before recording triumphs in their last two outings, a 3-0 shutout of the Dallas Stars on Saturday being their latest victory. Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky stopped all 32 shots he faced and recorded his 100th win against the Stars. Bobrovsky has started all four games, posting a 2.28 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage." The guy has been everything the Blue Jackets need him to be and more, and while we're only four games into the season, he is a big reason why the team is 2-2-0 and heading to California with positive vibes after two consecutive wins over quality opponents," Tortorella said, according to NHL.com. The Blue Jackets also have gotten solid play on penalty kills. They have been successful 93.8 percent of the time playing shorthanded, which is currently fifth best in the NHL. The Kings (2-3-0) also have come up winners in their past two games despite being forced to shuffle goaltenders. After Jonathan Quick went down with a significant groin injury that could sideline him for three months in the opener at San Jose, his backup, Jeff Zatkoff, was scratched after sustaining a lesser injury to his groin in the team's skate-around Saturday morning. Zatkoff, though, is expected to only miss a week. Instead, Peter Budaj made 22 saves in his 300th NHL game in a 4-3 shootout win over the Canucks, handing them their first defeat of the season. Budaj is only the second Slovakia-born goaltender to accomplish the feat, joining Jaroslav Halak (371 games)." I just want to take it one game at a time," said Budaj, who has compiled a 2.46 goals-against average and a .889 save percentage in two wins. "I know it's a cliche and you guys probably hate it when players say that, but it is true. You just want to look up one game ahead, and that's what you want to look at. We won (Saturday), we're very happy, but we've just got to regroup, come back to work." Tanner Pearson scored the only goal in the shootout. Pearson, who scored a first-period goal against the Canucks, leads the Kings with five points (four goals, one assist) in three games. Pearson sat out the Kings' first two losses due to a suspension. Los Angeles also has gotten key contributions from Jeff Carter, Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar and Alec Martinez, each of whom has registered a goal and three assists. Zach Werenski is the Blue Jackets' top scorer with two goals and three assists. Nick Foligno and Alexander Wennberg have delivered a goal and three assists apiece.