The puck flies past Austria goaltender Bernhard Starkbaum for a goal by Finland in the third period of a men's ice hockey game at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey )

Vanek critical of Austrian goalie in blowout loss


Austria was able to match Finland blow-for-blow for the first 10 minutes of Thursday’s contest, then the Finnish squad pulled away en route to an 8-4 blowout.

Austrian forward Thomas Vanek was understandably upset and he was hard on goaltender Bernhard Starkbaum.

“We started great and then gave up easy goals. We gave up too many shots from the middle and our goalie couldn’t control them,” Vanek said, according to the Olympic News Service. He added, “For us to beat a team like Finland, (Starkbaum) needs to be our best player.

“I thought that he was good but not great. That is not a knock on him, that is just reality.”

Starkbaum is 27 years old and has never played professionally in North America. He wasn’t drafted by an NHL club and instead got his start in the Austrian league. He was playing in the Swedish Hockey League before joining his nation’s Olympic team.

The Austrian goaltender faced 52 shots against a Finnish team loaded with NHL talent.

Habs claim Byron off waivers from Flames

Paul Byron
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Montreal added some forward depth on Tuesday, acquiring diminutive forward Paul Byron off waivers from Calgary.

Byron, 26, is a veteran of nearly 150 career NHL games, most coming with the Flames. Despite fairly solid production over the last two years — 40 points in 104 games — he was exposed to waivers on Monday, along with fellow forward Mason Raymond.

(Calgary does have a logjam of players at forward, hence parting ways with Byron and Raymond.)

Byron can play both wing and center but, at 5-foot-7, 153 pounds, is one of the most undersized skaters in the league. Thankfully for him, Montreal has an affinity for undersized forwards, with the likes of Brendan Gallagher (5-foot-9, 184 pounds) and David Desharnais (5-foot-7, 174 pounds) already on the active roster.

Byron could also fill Zack Kassian‘s roster spot. Kassian is currently suspended without pay while undergoing Stage 2 of the NHL’s Substance Abuse program.

Isles claim goalie Berube off waivers

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Jaroslav Halak
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The New York Islanders have claimed goalie Jean-Francois Berube off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings, the club announced today.

Berube won the Calder Cup last season with AHL Manchester, but the 24-year-old has yet to appear in an NHL game.

That the Isles claimed Berube could be evidence that Jaroslav Halak will not be ready to start the season after all.

If that’s the case, Berube would back up Thomas Greiss, with Stephon Williams expected to go to the AHL.

The Isles open their regular season Friday at home versus the Blackhawks, then play the next day in Chicago.