Avs to give 20-year-old Finnish goalie NHL debut tonight vs. Kings


The Colorado Avalanche aren’t handling Sami Aittokallio with kid gloves.

That’s the story out of Los Angeles on Thursday as the Avs announced they’ll start Aittokallio — a 20-year-old goalie from AHL Lake Erie — against the defending Stanley Cup champs tonight at Staples Center.

Colorado, the league’s last-place team, is without No. 1 goalie Semyon Varlamov (hip) and has started 35-year-old Jean-Sebastien Giguere in four of the last five games.

So, enter Aittokallio, Colorado’s fourth-round pick at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft that’s posted a 14-11-1 record with a 2.89 GAA and .903 save percentage with the Monsters this season.

While not exactly seasoned at the pro level, Aittokallio knows a thing or two about playing under difficult circumstances. Playing for Team Finland at the 2012 World Juniors, Aittokallio stopped 56 shots in a semifinal shootout loss to Sweden.

The Finns were out-shot 58-24 in the game.

Personal reasons: No Ovechkin for Caps tonight

Alex Ovechkin
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Alex Ovechkin won’t play for the Washington Capitals on Tuesday because of personal reasons, the team confirmed.

He entered the building considerably later than usual, but his presence at least opened the door for the possibility of No. 8 suiting up against the San Jose Sharks.

Instead, the Capitals will face the hot-starting Sharks without Ovechkin (personal reasons) and Nicklas Backstrom (injury).

That’s a tall order, yet it’s also an opportunity for Barry Trotz to prove his system is a difference-maker … and that the Capitals have the young players to take up the mantle when the big stars are out

This is how Washington’s forward lines may look tonight:

No, the Capitals have not shared details regarding what his “personal reasons” might be, by the way.

Bruins put Morrow on IR, bring up Cross

Brady Skjei, Joe Morrow
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Lower-level defense is not the biggest of many worries for the Boston Bruins, yet it might be another in a series of headaches.’s Joe Haggerty points out that Joe Morrow has been placed on IR while AHL stalwart Tommy Cross was called up.

With a -3 rating and negligible offensive impact so far, few will really be missing Morrow (pictured). From the way Haggerty describes Cross, it’s a pretty cool story if he gets into the lineup:

Cross was named captain of the Providence Bruins this season, and actually had a strong training camp as the hard-hitting, tough stay-at-home defenseman he’s developed into during his five years in the B’s minor league system. The 2007 second round pick was a highly regarded potential puck-moving defenseman when he was drafted prior to his Boston College career, but a series of knee injuries negated some of his speed and puck-moving capabilities.

Granted, the Bruins would prefer a sure-thing improvement over a feel-good story right now, as this 0-3-0 start marks their worst beginning in some time.

Injuries have been an issue in general, too, with Zdeno Chara‘s slow start mixed with Dennis Seidenberg on the mend and Brad Marchand in limbo.

The Bruins’ next game comes against the Avalanche in Colorado. Maybe they’ll start to mend things on the ice?