Cam Tucker

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Devils first-round pick McLeod out 4-6 weeks following knee surgery

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Michael McLeod had hoped to stick around with the New Jersey Devils for this season. But after an injury in the preseason against the New York Islanders, his 2017-18 campaign will be further delayed.

The Devils announced on Thursday that the 2016 first-round pick has undergone arthroscopic surgery for a torn meniscus in his left knee.

He’s expected to miss four to six weeks.

McLeod posted 21 goals and 61 points in 57 games for the Mississauga Steelheads of the Ontario Hockey League in 2015-16 and was selected 12th overall by the Devils in the NHL Draft that summer.

McLeod is still only 19 years old and eligible to return to junior for this season.

Meanwhile, the Devils are off to a 3-0-0 start to the season.

It’s not so much the record that is the surprise, but the early goal totals. New Jersey has tried to beef up its offensive attack with offseason moves each of the past two summers, acquiring Taylor Hall from Edmonton and Marcus Johansson from Washington, and getting the No. 1 overall pick, which they used to take Nico Hischier, in June. So far, they’ve scored 16 goals, an average of 5.33 per game.

Those numbers will surely start to come down as we progress through October and into November, but still, for now that average is second only to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

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Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

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Crawford helps backstop Blackhawks to strong start

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With the Chicago Blackhawks off to a 3-0-1 start, players like Brandon Saad and Alex DeBrincat have been able to grab headlines for their individual feats so far.

Back with Chicago after two seasons in Columbus and this offseason’s blockbuster trade, the 24-year-old Saad already has a hat trick — on the night the Blackhawks put up 10 against the Pittsburgh Penguins — and five goals and seven points in four games.

After making the roster out of training camp, DeBrincat scored his first career NHL goal the other night versus Montreal, and then had a beautiful set up on another goal as Chicago recorded the win — fresh off an overtime loss the previous night in Toronto.

What shouldn’t be overlooked is the play of goalie Corey Crawford through his first three starts. He has allowed only one goal in each of his three games and was particularly good in Montreal with a 41-save performance — on another night when the Blackhawks were badly outshot. So far, the Blackhawks have the fourth worst Corsi For rating at five-on-five, per Corsica. Yet, they are second in goals scored with 21 and have allowed only seven goals against.

While the offense has enjoyed a rapid start to the season, Crawford has certainly done his part in goal. The Blackhawks were badly outshot in the first period versus Montreal, and still came out with the lead. He was busy again in the third period, but shut the door and Chicago held on for the win.

“We all know the importance of goaltending,” coach Joel Quenneville told the Chicago Tribune earlier this season. “It puts you in a good spot. We know the value of getting off to a strong start is huge and I think goaltending is extremely important to start the season.”

The Blackhawks return home tonight to face their division rivals, the Minnesota Wild. Crawford is expected to get the start in net, while Nick Schmaltz is expected to be out of the lineup tonight, but could return Saturday against Nashville.

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Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

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McLellan sends a message to Oilers after back-to-back losses

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About a year ago, after a particularly brutal loss to Buffalo, Todd McLellan ripped into his team.

It was early in the season, but the Edmonton Oilers coach saw something he didn’t like in his team’s effort that night and he moved quickly to address it.

Fast forward to the end of the first week of the 2017-18 season.

Led by Connor McDavid, the Oilers completely outplayed the Calgary Flames in the season opener. The result was a 3-0 win, which could’ve been bigger if not for the performance of Flames goalie Mike Smith. Since then, however, Edmonton has lost to the Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets.

McLellan once again had a message for his team, with reports out of Edmonton showing a highly intense skate on Wednesday.

“We started at training camp on Day 1 trying to remind the players how hard it is to win, and part of solving that puzzle is work ethic,” said McLellan, per the Edmonton Journal on Wednesday.

“I thought we were really outworked the other night. We tried to do a lot of things the easy way. Today was a reminder that we have to get back to work.”

Last season, the Oilers snapped a lengthy — and frankly embarrassing — playoff drought and then came within one victory of qualifying for the Western Conference Final. They also went on a five-game winning streak immediately following McLellan’s sharp public criticism.

Loaded with McDavid and Leon Draisaitl up front and after a sensational year in net from Cam Talbot, expectations surrounding this Oilers team have risen significantly.

They don’t play again until Saturday, when they host the Ottawa Senators. It might be early in the season, but McLellan has once again wasted little time in trying to grab the attention of his team after subpar performances.

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Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

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Flyers founder Ed Snider to be honored with bronze statue

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) Philadelphia Flyers founder Ed Snider will be honored with a 9-foot bronze statue outside the Wells Fargo Center.

Snider founded the team in the 1960s and remained chairman until his death in April 2016. The statue will be unveiled on Oct. 19 to mark the 50th anniversary of the Flyers’ first home game in 1967.

Chad Fisher, of Fisher Sculpture of Dillsburg, Pennsylvania, created and built the 1,300-pound bronze statue, which will stand on a 3-foot base encased by solid granite.

Flyers president Paul Holmgren will be among the dignitaries speaking at the event.

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Brock Boeser to make season debut for Canucks vs. Jets

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After being a spectator for the first two games, Brock Boeser will make his season debut for the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday.

That’s according to head coach Travis Green ahead of tonight’s contest with the Winnipeg Jets. He added that Alex Burmistrov will sit this one out.

Boeser made the team out of training camp but was a healthy scratch for the home opener versus Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers — a decision from Green that was unpopular with those keen on seeing one of the organization’s most promising prospects in action at the NHL level.

A first round selection of the Canucks in 2015, Boeser attended the University of North Dakota for two years, enjoying a stellar freshman campaign with 27 goals and 60 points. A wrist injury hampered his sophomore year, although he still produced at just over a point per game pace.

Scoring was a major issue for the Canucks the past two years. The organization made a number of moves this summer to try to address that problem, but it could still be a concern as this season progresses.

Boeser, 20, has shown flashes of his skill and potent shot since breaking into the league last spring. He enjoyed a promising start to his Canucks career, playing in nine games with four goals and five points late last season.

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Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.

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