Nino Niederreiter, Semyon Varlamov

Poll: Are the Avs due for a downfall?


According to proponents of the so-called “advance statistics” that we continue to hear so much about this summer, the real Colorado Avalanche were exposed in the playoffs, when they lost in seven games to Minnesota.

All season long, according to the analytics folks, the numbers said the Avs were leaning too heavily on the goaltending of Semyon Varlamov, as well as a high shooting percentage that couldn’t possibly be sustained.

And after winning the first two games against the Wild, things did, in fact, seem to catch up to the surprise winners of the Central Division. In Games 3 and 4, the Avs scored just once on a measly 34 shots combined. In Games 6 and 7, Varlamov allowed eight goals on 56 shots combined, including the series clincher, in overtime, by Nino Niederreiter.

Not too long after losing to Minnesota, Colorado lost center Paul Stastny, one of their best possession players, to free agency. Which was a particularly tough pill to swallow, given they got nothing in return for the 28-year-old, and didn’t even have a postseason victory to show for rolling the dice and keeping him, sans long-term contract, for the playoffs.

There is, of course, an opposing side to the argument that the Avs are due for a downfall. (Or, in stats speak, for a regression.)

For starters, defenseman Tyson Barrie was taken out of the series by Matt Cooke in Game 3.  Wouldn’t a lot of teams struggle if they lost such a key player? Just a coincidence they went 2-0 with Barrie in the lineup and 1-4 in games he didn’t finish or didn’t play?

Also, the Avs’ core is still very young, with the potential to improve under the coaching of Jack Adams Award winner Patrick Roy. Yes, they lost Stastny. But they’ve still got Matt Duchene, Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, and Ryan O’Reilly in the top six. All with valuable postseason experience now.

On top of that, they added veterans Jarome Iginla, Daniel Briere, and Brad Stuart to the mix this summer.

OK, time to vote:

Alumni rosters announced for Bruins-Habs at Gillette Stadium

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The Winter Classic Alumni Game is back this year, scheduled for New Year’s Eve at Gillette Stadium between former members of the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins.

Today, the NHL announced the rosters and coaching staffs.

Famous ex-Habs that will take to the outdoor ice include Larry Robinson, Guy Carbonneau, and Mats Naslund. Behind the bench will be Yvan Cournoyer, Jacques Demers and Guy Lafleur, among others.

The home side will counter with Bruins legends Ray Bourque, Cam Neely, and “Nifty” Rick Middleton, while Don Cherry, Mike Milbury, and Derek Sanderson will be among the coaches. (Quite a trio of personalities right there.)

Here are the full rosters:


NBCSN will broadcast the alumni game nationally in the United States, while Sportsnet and TVA Sports will have it in Canada.

The 2016 Winter Classic will be played the next day (on NBC).

Goalie nods: Andersen’s ‘flu-like symptoms’ mean Khudobin starts versus Flames

Anton Khudobin, Frederik Andersen
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With Frederik Andersen experiencing “flu-like symptoms” (PHT diagnosis: it might be the flu), the Anaheim Ducks will turn to backup Anton Khudobin for tonight’s home game versus Calgary.

Khudobin could, in turn, be backed up by Josh Gibson, recalled today from AHL San Diego. The Ducks have officially listed Andersen as “questionable.”

Khudobin (3-3-0, .917) has not started a game in over a week. His last action came exactly a week ago, after Andersen got the hook versus Nashville.

Andersen may or may not travel with the Ducks for tomorrow’s game at Arizona.

The Ducks, of course, are coming off a 5-0 loss to Tampa Bay, a result that produced the following quote from Ryan Kesler:

After a four-game winning streak to start November, Anaheim has since dropped five of its last seven.

Karri Ramo will be in net for the Flames. After a terrible start to the season, he’s been much better lately, allowing just eight goals combined in his last four starts.


Craig Anderson for the Senators. Antti Niemi for the Stars.

Torts: Jackets still need more ‘bite’

John Tortorella

The hope was that the Columbus Blue Jackets would be jolted into a great, long winning streak, and their season would be saved.

The reality of John Tortorella’s first month behind the bench has been, well, reality. The Jackets are 8-7-0 since Todd Richards was fired. Better than 0-7-0, sure, but at 8-14-0 overall, they remain last in the Eastern Conference.

Fifteen games into his tenure, Tortorella is still trying to get his message across.

“A big reason why we bring them in (to practice yesterday and today) is because we don’t have a full understanding of the standard we need to be at in all areas of the game,” he told The Columbus Dispatch. “Some things you can’t control in our game, but it’s how hard you play, how hard you are with your bite as a team, and the pace you play with – you can control that.”

The Jackets play Wednesday in New Jersey, where they’ll look to shake off Sunday’s disappointing home loss to San Jose. Columbus held a 3-1 third-period lead in that one. The Sharks scored four straight to win 5-3.


— The Canucks need ‘more bite’

The Rangers are better when they have ‘more bite’

Sharks sign Zubrus, because DeBoer


The San Jose Sharks have signed forward Dainius Zubrus to a one-year, two way contract, the club announced today.

Zubrus was given a tryout with the Sharks last week.

The 37-year-old played 74 games with the Devils last season, scoring just four goals with six assists. His contract was then bought out.

According to a Mercury News source, the decision to sign Zubrus lay “mainly” with his former coach in New Jersey, now San Jose’s bench boss, Pete DeBoer.

“He looks good,” DeBoer said of Zubrus last week, per CSN Bay Area. “He looks close. It’s tough to find six-foot-four, 215-pound guys who can play. … He’s an easy guy to play because he’s defensively reliable. He plays a big possession, heavy game. There’s a lot to like there.”

In a related move, the Sharks have reassigned forward Nikolay Goldobin to the AHL.

Related: Where’s the depth in San Jose?