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.
Didn’t take long for Alex Burmistrov to make his presence felt — though not in a good way.
Burmistrov, playing in his first game for the Jets after a two-year stint in Russia, delivered a questionable elbow to the head of Boston’s Patrice Bergeron late in the first period of Thursday’s season-opener:
Burmistrov received a two-minute minor for an illegal check to the head, while Bergeron received a matching minor for roughing (retaliating for the elbow, specifically).
The Bruins went into the intermission leading 1-0, and have yet to update Bergeron’s status.
For the second time in his career, Ryan Kesler is wearing an “A.”
On Thursday, the Anaheim Ducks announced that Kesler would serve as one of the club’s alternate captains this season, taking over for Francois Beauchemin, who signed in Colorado this summer.
With the move, Kesler joins Anaheim’s existing leadership group of captain Ryan Getzlaf, and alternate Corey Perry.
“It’s an honor,” Kesler said, per the Ducks. “It’s special. I’m going to wear it with pride and lead by example.”
As mentioned earlier, Kesler has some experience as an alternate — he wore an “A” in Vancouver from 2008-13, but had it removed prior to the start of the ’13-14 campaign.
It’s not surprising Anaheim went in this direction. GM Bob Murray made a huge investment in Kesler this summer by inking the 31-year-old to a six-year, $41.25M extension.