What’s been lost: Five best games you won’t get to see

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With the NHL announcing that games have been cancelled through Nov. 1, here’s a look at five of the best games you won’t get to see over the next two weeks:

Thursday, Oct. 25: NY Rangers at Pittsburgh

Why it would’ve been good:

An opportunity for John Tortorella to get re-acquainted with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin after blasting them following a 5-2 loss in April (which was also the last time the Pens and Rangers met):

Lest we forget Brooks Orpik possibly facing the consequences for going knee-on-knee with Derek Stepan.

Tuesday, Oct. 30: Buffalo at Boston

Why it would’ve been good:

Don’t think the Milan Lucic-Ryan Miller incident still haunts the Sabres?

Consider this — within the first 48 hours of free agency, Buffalo signed 6-foot-8 leviathan John Scott (who promised “a different outcome” if anybody ran Miller this season), then traded playmaking center Derek Roy for agitator extraordinaire Steve Ott and 6-foot-4, 220-pound defenseman Adam Pardy.

Buffalo also re-upped with another known pest, Patrick Kaleta, and inked Nick Tarnasky — who once fought 20 times in a single AHL season (in which he only played 66 games.)

Saturday, Oct. 27: Phoenix at Los Angeles

Why it would’ve been good:

Remember this?

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Yeah. Haven’t played each other since.

Sunday, Oct. 28: NY Rangers at Ottawa

Why it would’ve been good:

Following up on last year’s great first-round playoff series that included…

— Brian Boyle becoming Ottawa’s public enemy No. 1 (roughed up Erik Karlsson, scored a bunch of big goals, got jumped by Matt Carkner, then concussed by Chris Neil.)

— Neil threatening to catch Michael Del Zotto “with his head down” in response to getting crushed by a Del Zotto check.

— Carl Hagelin getting suspended three games for elbowing (and concussing) Daniel Alfredsson.

— Milan Michalek kicking Dan Girardi.

— Henrik Lundqvist alleging a disputed Sens goal was allowed because “someone wants them back in the game, obviously.”

Some pretty good subplots there.

Wednesday, Oct. 31: Pittsburgh at Washington

Why it would’ve been good:

Even though some of the luster’s been taken away from Sid vs. Ovi…it’s still Sid vs. Ovi.

Yep, sure would’ve been fun to watch.

NCAA standout Foo leaving school, will sign NHL deal this summer

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Spencer Foo, who racked up a whopping 62 points in 38 games this year for Union College, is forgoing his senior season to achieve his “life long dream of playing in the NHL.”

Where that dream takes place remains to be seen.

Foo, 22, won’t be back at Union in the fall, but will complete his spring term at Union and not sign with a pro organization until summer, per the Daily Gazette. The decision comes after a banner three seasons in school, capped off with a junior campaign in which he was nominated for ECAC Hockey Player of the Year and shortlisted for the Hobey Baker.

Foo has reportedly drawn interest from the Flyers. There have also been rumblings of the Oilers being in the mix — Foo is an Edmonton native — but it appears nearly every team has some level of interest. Consider this, from LA Kings Insider:

The Kings are among the teams involved in [Foo’s] courtship, and asked where the stiffest competition was coming from, I was told, “about 29 other teams.”

Foo is an undrafted free agent, so there’s no real rush for him to make a decision. Sounds like NHL teams are more than willing to wait it out.

Announcing the Hobey Hat Trick: Aston-Reese, Butcher, Vecchione

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Northeastern’s Zach Aston-Reese, Denver’s Will Butcher, and Union’s Mike Vecchione are the three finalists for the Hobey Baker Award.

Aston-Reese, a 22-year-old forward, had 31 goals and 32 assists in 38 games this season. Undrafted, he signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins earlier this month.

Butcher, a 22-year-old defenseman, had seven goals and 29 assists in 41 games for the Frozen Four-headed Pioneers. A fifth-round pick of the Avalanche in 2013, Butcher is still unsigned and is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent Aug. 15. It remains to be seen if the Avs will offer him a contract, though it’s been reported they will.

Vecchione, a 24-year-old forward, had 29 goals and 34 assists in 38 games. Undrafted, he’s expected to sign with an NHL team shortly — possibly the Flyers or Wild.

Jimmy Vesey, Jack Eichel, and Johnny Gaudreau were the Hobey Baker winners in each of the last three years.

After 12-game absence, Boychuk back for Isles

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The New York Islanders, four points back of the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference and having lost their last two games, will get a huge boost tonight on the blueline.

Johnny Boychuk, who’s missed the last 12 games with a lower-body injury, will return to the lineup on Thursday when the Isles take on the Flyers in Philadelphia. It’ll mark the first time the veteran defenseman has played since getting hurt back on Mar. 3.

(Boychuk draws in at the expense of Thomas Hickey, who’ll sit tonight.)

Needless to say, this is a massive addition for the Isles. Boychuk was averaging close to 21 minutes per night and had 21 points through 59 games before his injury, and led all New York defensemen in shots on goal.

The Isles are going to be an interesting team to watch down the stretch. It’s tough sledding, with five of their final seven contests being played on the road, though that’s mitigated by the fact they’re playing a bunch of teams outside of the playoff picture (Philly, New Jersey x2, Buffalo and Carolina).

McAvoy has the talent to improve Bruins right now

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Charlie McAvoy could be in the Providence Bruins’ lineup as soon as Friday against Albany.

Providence also plays Saturday and Sunday, so even if it’s not Friday, the 19-year-old defenseman is expected to get his first taste of pro hockey sometime this weekend.

Of course, the real question is when his Boston Bruins debut may occur.

“He has the attributes to be able to play NHL games right now, absolutely,” said Bruins GM Don Sweeney, per the Providence Journal. 

McAvoy has yet to ink an NHL contract. He’s in Providence on an amateur tryout after making the decision to leave Boston University. If he plays an NHL game this season, the first year of the three-year entry-level contract he’ll sign would be burned.

Hence, Sweeney’s desire to see McAvoy in the AHL before making any decisions.

“This gives an opportunity for him, first and foremost, to get a chance to play professional games, which is another level for him. [We’ll] evaluate from there,” said Sweeney.

It’s certainly possible, given McAvoy’s talent, that he could help the NHL Bruins right now. The bar is essentially Kevan Miller, Boston’s third-pairing defenseman on the right side. (If McAvoy were a left shot, the bar would be slightly lower, with all due respect to John-Michael Liles.)

The NHL Bruins, who’ve yet to book a playoff spot, have six games left in their regular season. They host Dallas tonight, Florida Saturday, and then they’re in Chicago Sunday.

Assuming McAvoy stays with Providence all weekend, his first real chance to get into an NHL game would be Tuesday against Tampa Bay.

Stay tuned.

Read more: Bruins will leave door ajar for McAvoy