Jason Brough


Another day, another team: Boucher gets claimed by Canucks

The Vancouver Canucks have claimed forward Reid Boucher off waivers from the New Jersey Devils.

Boucher, 23, has already been claimed once this season, by the Nashville Predators. But the Devils claimed him back shortly thereafter, then put him on waivers again, hoping to get him down to the AHL.

Enter the Canucks, who are currently without winger Jannik Hansen due to injury. They’ve also lost winger Derek Dorsett (neck surgery) for the season. And yet another winger of theirs, Anton Rodin, is still getting back into game shape after tweaking his knee in the preseason.

Boucher was a prolific scorer in junior, and he’s been a good scorer in the AHL; however, he’s yet to break through at the NHL level. The Michigan native really had to work on his skating after the Devils drafted him in the fourth round back in 2011, and that may still be keeping him back.

In 85 games for the Devils and Predators, Boucher has 12 goals and 18 assists. Last season, he had 19 goals in just 34 games for Albany.

Khudobin on waivers; McIntyre recall coming?


Anton Khudobin is on waivers today. Don’t be surprised if the Boston Bruins recall Zane McIntyre from the AHL at some point soon.

Khudobin just didn’t get the job done as the backup behind Tuukka Rask. The 30-year-old from Kazakhstan is 1-5-1 with an .885 save percentage. He had one encouraging performance on Dec. 1, but it wasn’t enough.

If McIntyre gets the call, he’s no sure thing to solve the Bruins’ problem. The 24-year-old has been excellent for Providence, going 10-0-0 with a .950 save percentage. But he allowed 10 goals on 71 shots (.859) in three appearances for the big club.

The Bruins host the Oilers Thursday.

Related: Khudobin hasn’t solved the Bruins’ backup goalie problem

Another blown lead for the Leafs, and this one was costly


The Toronto Maple Leafs got away with blowing a big lead Sunday against Detroit. But last night in Washington, they paid the price with the loss of a valuable point.

The Leafs led the Capitals, 4-2, after two periods. They lost the game, 6-5 in overtime, on a goal by Alex Ovechkin.

Afterwards, Toronto coach Mike Babcock said he didn’t think his team collapsed. He thought it was a bad game from start to finish.

“I thought we were playing the same way the whole game: not good enough, not competitive enough, didn’t execute,” said Babcock. “They scored two goals in the third period on total D-zone breakdowns. All we’ve got to do is stop and talk to one another and execute. To me, that doesn’t have much to do with what time in the game it is, it has to do with doing your job. We weren’t good enough.”

The loss snapped a five-game winning streak for the Leafs. It was also the sixth time this season that they’d lost a game in overtime after taking a lead into the third period. Their .650 winning percentage when leading after two periods is higher than only two teams, Detroit (.615) and Carolina (.588).

On the bright side, the Leafs still managed to move ahead of Tampa Bay into fourth place in the Atlantic Division.

“In lots of ways we got a point here tonight and getting a point on the road when you’re not very good doesn’t happen very often,” said Babcock.

Still, it was another disappointing loss after they’d put themselves into a position to win. Good teams know how to protect leads, and these young Leafs are still learning how.

Lightning blow a chance to move into a playoff spot

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With an opportunity to move into a playoff spot, the Tampa Bay Lightning stumbled last night, losing 6-4 at home to the Winnipeg Jets.

“We just didn’t defend,” head coach Jon Cooper said afterwards. “We thought about one net only and once you do that, that’s it for you. Next thing you know it’s 4-1, and that’s a long way to come back.

“It’s tough, too, in this league, to score four goals and lose. That’s tough, and we found a way to do that tonight. We let one slip through our fingers tonight.”

So instead of moving into third place in the Atlantic Division, the Lightning (19-16-4) actually fell into fifth, behind the Maple Leafs, who got a point in Washington.

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed five goals on 33 shots against the Jets. Based on Cooper’s remarks, the loss was not the netminder’s fault. But Vasilevskiy’s save percentage fell to .914, which isn’t bad, but it’s not great either.

With Ben Bishop sidelined (lower-body injury), Vasilevskiy is getting an opportunity to show he can be a No. 1. And so far, it’s fair to say the results have been mixed for the 22-year-old.

Read more: Vasilevskiy to get ‘more games’ as Bolts look to future

Next up for the Lightning, the Nashville Predators pay a visit Thursday. That will be a battle of two teams that were expected to compete for a Stanley Cup this season, but are currently outside the playoff picture.

Pre-game reading: About all those empty seats at the World Juniors in Montreal


— Up top, Oilers captain Connor McDavid speaks to reporters ahead of tonight’s big game against Columbus. (He’s more exciting on the ice than in an interview.)

— There were plenty of empty seats in Montreal yesterday for Canada’s quarterfinal win over the Czech Republic at the World Juniors. Which begs the question — are ticket prices just too high? Because they certainly aren’t cheap. “On Tuesday, the worst seats at the Bell Centre — the Blue level — were being sold for $82.50 per ticket for Canada’s semifinal against Sweden.” (Yahoo Sports)

— Here’s Toronto Star columnist Bruce Arthur on the attendance issues: “Coming back to Montreal so soon after the last time was a problem. Ticket prices were cut from the last time but they were still expensive, and Montreal has never considered this tournament the event that some other parts of the country do. This is a Habs town even more than Toronto is a Leafs town, and it doesn’t have Toronto’s money, to boot.” (Toronto Star)

— From Elliotte Friedman’s latest “30 Thoughts” piece, a reminder that Jan. 1 brought more than a New Year. “Now that we’ve passed Jan. 1, teams can re-sign players signed to one-year contracts. Montreal went first with backup Al Montoya, who got a two-year extension. The most intriguing will be the Canadiens’ decision with Alexander Radulov, who has been tremendous. Vancouver has Erik Gudbranson, RFA, out with injury. You can expect Edmonton to take a run at keeping Kris Russell. Same with Toronto and Nikita Zaitsev, although he’s a restricted free agent. Word is the KHL would love to get Zaitsev back, but he likes it in the Ontario capital.” (Sportsnet)

— Sean McIndoe, aka Down Goes Brown, comes up with a list of five outdoor match-ups we’ve yet to see, but should. At number 1? The Canadiens versus Maple Leafs. Each team has already played in multiple outdoor games, but the long-time rivals have yet to face each other in one. Perhaps that will happen next season at Montreal’s Molson Stadium, the home of the CFL’s Alouettes. That venue is reportedly being discussed. (The Hockey News)

— Pierre LeBrun continues his series on the upcoming expansion draft, this time with a look at the San Jose Sharks. “The first decision San Jose will have to make is whether to go with the 7-3-1 (seven forwards, three defensemen, one goalie) or 8-1 (eight skaters and one goalie) protection format. I bet that won’t get decided until after the season. It’s a tough call. If you go 7-3-1, it means you protect just three defensemen — Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and probably Justin Braun — which then leaves the likes of Paul Martin, Brenden Dillon, Mirco Mueller and David Schlemko among those exposed.” (ESPN)

Enjoy the games!