Jason Brough

John Tavares

Tavares back for Isles after illness ‘wiped me right out’

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As expected, John Tavares will be back in the Islanders’ lineup tonight in Montreal.

New York’s captain missed the last three games with an illness.

“It just wiped me right out for two days,” Tavares said, per NHL.com’s Arpon Basu.

The Isles went 1-1-1 in his absence.

“I didn’t sleep much all weekend and Sunday night was really the peak, when it was the worst,” he told Newsday. “By Monday I finally had an appetite again.”

Steve Bernier will reportedly be the forward who comes out to make way for Tavares.

There will be no expansion vote in December

Gary Bettman, Bill Foley
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The NHL is kicking the expansion can down the road.

“Given where we are in the process, it is clear that expansion will not be voted on in December,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly wrote Wednesday in an email to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Bill Foley, the prospective owner of the Las Vegas expansion team, had previously expected “something to happen” in December when the Board of Governors meets in Pebble Beach.

But there are a couple of good reasons for the vote to be delayed:

— Seattle gets more time to get its “arena act together.” The NHL has made it no secret that they’d like a team there.

— The Arizona Coyotes get time to figure out their arena situation. If they can’t find a local option, they’ll need to relocate.

The NHL may also want some certainty that the Florida Panthers can work out a deal with Broward County, ensuring their long-term future in the area.

And maybe the league would like a little more time to see where the Canadian dollar goes.

The new arenas in Las Vegas and Quebec City aren’t going anywhere, so the NHL has control over the process, for the most part.

In the meantime, Foley is staying patient.

“I understand they want to take their time,” he told the Review-Journal. “It’s an important decision. Hopefully we’ll know something at the All-Star Game.”

The All-Star Game is on Jan. 31.

Report: Penguins still have no plans to send Sprong to junior

2015 NHL Draft - Portraits
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The Penguins still have no plans to send Daniel Sprong back to junior, according to a report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The newspaper cited a club official “speaking on the condition of anonymity” for that tidbit.

Of course, GM Jim Rutherford said pretty much the same thing last week, that Sprong, 18, had done enough to stick with the Pens past the nine-game mark.

The difference between now and last week is that Sprong, the youngest player in the NHL, is coming off a healthy scratching Saturday in Toronto, and he could be in the press box again tonight in Vancouver.

Sprong has played eight games in total. He has one goal and no assists, and his average ice time is 10:04.

Which is to say, he hasn’t been all that vital to his team.

Granted, what he has given the Penguins is a cap hit of just $692,500. And that’s important, because the Pens don’t have much cap space to work with.

Not to imply that Sprong is only being kept up for salary-cap reasons; however, it’s worth noting that Rutherford admitted in April that Beau Bennett was rushed into the NHL.

“We made a mistake on Beau Bennett as far as development-wise,” Rutherford said. “I’ll take the responsibility for that. When it was getting closer for him to become a waivered player, I felt we should have sent him to Wilkes-Barre and let him play a lot.”

Sprong is not eligible to go to the AHL, only back to junior, where he’s already proven he can score. So perhaps Rutherford feels Sprong has a better opportunity to grow in the NHL, even if it means playing limited minutes.

The key question, though, is whether Rutherford still believes that Sprong “can help our team.”

Based on today’s report, he still does. But until Sprong plays his 10th game, Rutherford will maintain the option to change his mind.

Related: Blame the Canadian dollar for ‘cap squeeze’

Sharks demote Goodrow; coach DeBoer wants more out of bottom six

Frederik Andersen, Barclay Goodrow

Following up on an earlier post on the struggling Sharks, the club shook things up a bit today by reassigning forward Barclay Goodrow to the AHL.

Goodrow (0G, 3A) failed to provide much in the way of offense in 12 games, a problem that too many of the Sharks’ bottom-six forwards have had this year.

“We’re really pushing to get more productive minutes out of our third and fourth lines,” coach Pete DeBoer said today, per CSN Bay Area. “When we don’t, it bleeds into everything. We overplay our big guys, they’re going to wear down and get tired. We can’t play the system we want to play.

“For me, we’re at the point now, you’re [12] games in, you’re either getting the job done or we’re moving on to the next guy.”

Goodrow has skated mostly with Mike Brown (1G, 0A) and Chris Tierney (1G, 2A) this season, though he’s also had time with Ben Smith (0G, 0A) and Tommy Wingels (1G, 3A).

The Sharks are expected to recall a forward prior to their game Thursday against Florida.

The problem there is that nobody on the Barracuda is lighting it up either.

Hurry back, Logan Couture.

Goalie nods: After stymieing Stars, Reimer gets second straight start for Leafs

Valeri Nichushkin; James Reimer
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Monday against Dallas, James Reimer gave the Leafs something they haven’t had much of this season — good goaltending.

Reimer stopped 43 of 44 Stars shots, allowing Toronto to beat one of the NHL’s hottest teams by a score of 4-1.

He’ll get another chance tonight against Winnipeg, after Leafs coach Mike Babcock said Reimer “absolutely” earned a second straight start.

“If you’re him, you want to play every night, so to me you play good and you get to start the next game and you make sure you play good again and you get the start after that and you just keep going that way,” Babcock told reporters.

Reimer’s previous three starts had been less than stellar, as evidenced by his overall save percentage of .908, which is still slightly better than Jonathan Bernier‘s .899.

Ondrej Pavelec will start for the Jets. He’s 3-3-1 with a .919 save percentage.

Elsewhere…

Brian Elliott will make his first appearance in the Blues’ net since Oct. 24. Jake Allen has started the last four games, including last night’s 3-0 loss to the Kings. Corey Crawford will go for the Blackhawks.

— No confirmation on either starter for the Panthers-Ducks game in Anaheim. But bet on Roberto Luongo versus Frederik Andersen.

Ryan Miller likely for the Canucks. Marc-Andre Fleury likely for the Penguins.