Jason Brough

Winter Classic forecast looking good…for now

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As of right now, the 14-day forecast is predicting ideal conditions for the 2016 Winter Classic in Foxborough.

Of course, Boston-area weather being notoriously unpredictable, that forecast could easily change. On New Year’s Day, when the Bruins and Canadiens are scheduled to play outdoors at Gillette Stadium, who knows what kind of conditions will exist?

“One of the intriguing aspects of the outdoor games is that you can’t script what’s going to happen,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told CSN New England. “Precipitation is more of an issue than temperature because as you know we played an outdoor game in Los Angeles. We’ll keep our fingers crossed. We’ve been pretty lucky with the weather in all of the outdoor games that we’ve done so far. Hopefully we’ll have a nice day.”

From The Weather Network:

Weather

Remember that the outdoor rink needs a few days to be built, and that there’s an alumni game on Dec. 31.

Report: Canucks won’t release McCann for World Juniors

Carey Price
AP

Any slim chance that 19-year-old Jared McCann would join Team Canada for the World Juniors in Finland was dashed last night in Philadelphia, where Canucks center Henrik Sedin was forced to leave the game against the Flyers with an injury.

The Canucks had no update on Sedin last night, but said they expect to recall a player from AHL Utica. That suggests Sedin’s playing status going forward is uncertain, though it sounds like he might give it a go tonight in Detroit.

But with Brandon Sutter still recovering from sports-hernia surgery, combined with the ongoing struggles of 20-year-old Bo Horvat, McCann has simply become indispensable. Pretty crazy, considering he wasn’t even expected to make the team out of training camp.

In a related story, the Canucks are officially in the race for Auston Matthews.

Anyway, from TSN’s Darren Dreger:

No word yet who could be on the way up from Utica, assuming that’s still the plan. Linden Vey is a possibility. He was waived in October, in part to make room for McCann. Funny how things go.

Update:

Vey has been recalled.

DeBoer sees a day when full face protection becomes the norm

Dan Hamhuis, Ian Walsh
hamhuis
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There used to be a time when NHL goaltenders didn’t wear masks.

That seems amazing today, but it wasn’t all that long ago. Around 50 years ago, in fact.

San Jose Sharks coach Pete DeBoer sees a day when full face protection could become the norm for skaters, too.

“It’s probably the next step,” DeBoer told the Canadian Press. “No one thought helmets were coming in and they did, and then no one thought visors were coming in and they did. I’m sure there will be a day down the road one day here where it is (normal). I think it’s a ways off. It’ll get here one day.”

Last week, Vancouver defenseman Dan Hamhuis suffered facial fractures after being struck by a shot. Hamhuis is expected to be out at least two months.

While injuries like that are still fairly rare, with so much more emphasis on shot-blocking and occupying the shooting lanes, defending has become considerably more dangerous for NHLers. Add to the equation how much harder players can shoot the puck, and it’s no surprise to hear predictions like DeBoer’s.

Whether he’ll be proven right remains to be seen. But for the record, it was only about a decade ago that Don Cherry said that players who wore visors were mostly “Europeans and French guys.”

Visors have since been made mandatory for all new players.

 

With next four games at home, streaking Avs have great chance to ‘keep climbing’

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The Colorado Avalanche looked all but done at the start of the month.

Six wins later and there’s still plenty of ground to be made up; they’ve only turned a seven-point playoff deficit into a five-point deficit.

But it’s progress all the same.

“We’re in [the playoff race] right now,” star forward Matt Duchene told NHL.com ahead of tonight’s home game versus the Islanders. “We’re not too far out and that gives us more motivation to keep climbing.”

The Avs are back in Denver after sweeping a tough three-game road trip through Nashville, St. Louis and Chicago. All three wins came in regulation — that’s important, considering one of those three Central Division foes may be the one the Avs have to pass in order to get into the postseason.

The Avs will also host the Oilers, Leafs and Coyotes on their four-game home stand. Considering the opposition, anything less than three wins would likely be considered a disappointment.

Related: For streaking Avs, Semyon Varlamov has ‘been our best player, no doubt’

Goalie nods: Al Montoya has been excellent for Panthers

SUNRISE, FL - NOVEMBER 8: Goaltender Al Montoya #35 of the Florida Panthers defends the net against the Calgary Flames at the BB&T Center on November 8, 2014 in Sunrise, Florida. The Flames defeated the Panthers 6-4. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
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Earlier in the week, we identified five backup goalies that weren’t getting it done for their teams.

Al Montoya was definitely not a candidate for that list. The 30-year-old has been excellent when called upon to give Roberto Luongo a night off.

Montoya will get his eighth start of the season tonight in New Jersey. He’s 4-1-1 with a .929 save percentage. In his last outing, a week ago against Washington, he nearly shut out the Capitals in a 4-1 victory.

The Panthers enter tonight’s game two points back of the last wild-card spot in the East — a spot that’s held by none other than the Devils.

Cory Schneider will be in goal for New Jersey. (He’s been pretty good, too.)

Elsewhere…

John Gibson for the desperate Ducks in Buffalo. Chad Johnson for the Sabres.

Jacob Markstrom made the aforementioned list. He’ll start tonight for the reeling Canucks in Philadelphia. Steve Mason for the Flyers.

Martin Jones for the Sharks in Toronto. Garret Sparks for the Leafs, after Jonathan Bernier remained winless Tuesday.

Jonathan Quick expected for the Kings in Montreal. Mike Condon for the Habs.

Antti Raanta has been a good backup again this season. He’ll start for the Rangers tonight in Minnesota. Devan Dubnyk returns from injury for the Wild. He hasn’t played since getting hurt Dec. 5.

Pekka Rinne expected for the Predators in St. Louis. Jake Allen for the Blues.

Cam Talbot for the Oilers in Chicago. Corey Crawford for the Blackhawks.

Karri Ramo for the Flames in Dallas. Kari Lehtonen for the Stars.

Thomas Greiss, another backup enjoying a fine season, for the Islanders in Colorado. Red-hot Semyon Varlamov for the Avs.

— Curtis McElhinney (he made the list) for the Blue Jackets in Arizona. Anders Lindback (he made it, too) for the Coyotes.