UNIONDALE, NY - DECEMBER 21: John Tavares #91 of the New York Islanders skates during an NHL hockey game against the Anaheim Ducks at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on December 21, 2013 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

Tavares misses practice with lower-body injury

The New York Islanders can’t afford to be without captain John Tavares right now, but they might not have a choice.

He missed the Islanders’ first practice since the holiday break due to a lower-body injury, putting his status for Saturday’s game is in question.

“Anytime your captain is out, you have some concern, there’s no question,” Capuano told Newsday.

As we approach the halfway point of the 2013-14 campaign, the Islanders are nine points out of a playoff spot. That’s not an insurmountable deficit, but they need a lot to go right for them to capture a postseason berth.

Tavares has been averaging roughly a point-per-game, but there’s not much to like about their offense beyond him. As it is, they are in the bottom third of the league when it comes to goals per game.

Fortunately for New York, this ailment isn’t believed to be a long-term issue, according to Newsday’s Arthur Staple. So maybe the Islanders’ best hope will still be available as they struggle to turn their season around.

After lopsided loss, Julien says it’s ‘not about the young D’

Claude Julien

The Boston Bruins’ young, makeshift defense failed to come through Thursday night as the B’s were thumped, 6-2, on home ice by the Winnipeg Jets.

Without injured veterans Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, the defensive pairings were as follows:

Torey KrugAdam McQuaid
Joe MorrowKevan Miller
Matt IrwinZach Trotman

And let’s just say, turnovers were a factor:

That was Irwin getting checked off the puck there.

“I had the puck behind the net, and I went to one side of the net, and then I just didn’t use the net to my advantage,” he explained afterwards, per CSN New England. “He got his stick in there, obviously stripped me of the puck, and we all know what happened after that. I take full blame for that one.”

But head coach Claude Julien wasn’t willing to blame inexperience for the poor outing.

“It’s not about youth. It’s not about the young D,” said Julien. “It’s about our game without the puck. I think we might have gotten a little excited here about our offense and forgot about the other part of our game.”

And to be fair, even Boston’s more accomplished d-men had their challenging moments.

Here’s Krug failing to get position on Nicolas Petan in front of the Bruins’ net:

All in all, it was a tough night.

“We’ll correct those [mistakes] tomorrow in practice,” said Irwin. “We’re a confident group in here. We liked our offense. We liked the chances we were getting. All those mistakes, D-zone, are something that we’re going to work on and get better every day.”

The Bruins host their rivals from Montreal on Saturday.

Greene named 11th captain in Devils history

Dion Phaneuf; Andy Greene
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Andy Greene has been named Bryce Salvador’s successor as New Jersey’s team captain.

Greene, an undrafted free agent that’s spent his entire nine-year career with the Devils organization, becomes the 11th captain in the franchise’s history and third American to wear the “C” (Zach Parise and Jamie Langenbrunner were the others).

A former standout at Miami of Ohio, Greene — who served as an alternate captain in each of the last two seasons — has developed into a steady, durable blueliner that hasn’t missed a game in three years. He’s also locked into the Devils long term, having signed a five-year, $25 million extension with the club last summer.

That deal kicks in this season, and runs through 2020.

As for the rest of the leadership group, four players will serve as alternate captains this season: Patrik Elias, Travis Zajac, Mike Cammalleri, and Adam Henrique.

Elias and Zajac both wore an “A” in New Jersey last year, while Cammalleri and Henrique are first-timers.