Mike Halford

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Barzal, Chabot, Strome highlight Canada’s World Junior team

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A trio of rookies that made their NHL debuts this season will represent Canada at the upcoming world junior championships.

The Islanders’ Matthew Barzal, Ottawa’s Thomas Chabot and Arizona’s Dylan Strome are among the 22 players that made the cut for the tournament, which will begin later this month in Montreal and Toronto.

Chabot, the 18th overall pick in 2015, played one game with the Sens this year before being sent back to QMJHL Saint John. Barzal, the 16th overall pick that same year, played two games for the Isles before getting returned to WHL Seattle.

Strome, the third overall pick in ’15 — behind Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel — played in seven games for the Coyotes this season, scoring his first-ever NHL point in the process. He’s now plying his trade for OHL Erie.

The full roster:

Goaltenders: Carter Hart, Connor Ingram

Defensemen: Chabot, Jake Bean, Kale Clague, Dante Fabbro, Noah Juulsen, Jérémy Lauzon, Philippe Myers

Forwards: Barzal, Strome, Julien Gauthier, Mitchell Stephens, Anthony Cirelli, Dillon Dubé, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Mathieu Joseph, Tyson Jost, Michael McLeod, Taylor Raddysh, Nicolas Roy, Blake Speers.

Goalie nods: Streaking Murray starts again for Pens

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Back in late November, Pens GM Jim Rutherford admitted his two-goalie system — comprised of Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murraywasn’t working as well as he’d hoped.

Which could help explain what’s transpired lately.

The Pens are going for their seventh straight win tonight, when they host Boston at PPG Paints, and Murray will make his fifth straight start. Fleury will once again sit as the backup, meaning his last game action came 11 days ago.

Not that head coach Mike Sullivan could be blamed for sticking with the status quo.

The Pens are on fire right now and Murray is a big reason why — he’s coming off a 32-save shutout of the Coyotes and, over this current win streak, has posted a 1.98 GAA and .931 save percentage.

It shouldn’t be long before Fleury gets another start, however. Following tonight’s game, Pittsburgh plays a Friday-Saturday back-to-back — at home against Los Angeles, then on the road in Toronto. Have to figure Flower will get one of those.

For the Bruins, Tuukka Rask is likely to get the start. He was the first goalie off at this morning’s skate.

Elsewhere…

Mike Condon goes for the Senators, who are hosting San Jose. No word yet on a Sharks starter yet, as Martin Jones played (and beat) the Leafs in a shootout last night. One would assume this means Aaron Dell gets the nod.

Chad Johnson will start, yet again, when the Flames host the Bolts in Calgary. No word yet on a Tampa Bay starter, but Ben Bishop is expected to go.

— Seymon Varlamov is hurt, so Calvin Pickard starts for the first time since allowing four goals in a 10-1 drubbing in Montreal. He’ll take on Steve Mason, who is making his 14th start in the last 16 games for the Flyers.

 

 

 

 

Myers, who’s missed 16 straight, has ‘plateaued’ in recovery

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Tyler Myers has been out of action since Nov. 11 with a lower-body ailment, but appeared to turn a corner last week when he resumed skating.

Now, Myers has turned another corner — but for the Jets, it’s in the wrong direction.

“He’s plateaued in his recovery,” Winnipeg head coach Paul Maurice said on Wednesday, per Illegal Curve.  “We are not seeing enough progress to put him on the ice and it will stay there until he gets out of the cycle that he’s in and until he feels good.

“But he’s not ready to skate yet.”

The development has to be frustrating for the Jets. When Myers was first hurt, he had five points through 11 games and was averaging over 22 minutes per night. The injury was initially classified as day-to-day but now, as the Winnipeg Sun points out, it’s stretched over a month.

Myers will miss his 17th game in a row on Thursday, when Winnipeg hosts Florida.

The injury has thinned out Winnipeg’s blueline, obviously, but head coach Paul Maurice has adapted by giving heavy minutes to his top four of Dustin Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom, Jacob Trouba and Josh Morrissey (Ben Chiarot and Paul Postma were the little-used fifth and sixth d-men in Sunday’s loss to Edmonton).

Myers’ absence has really opened the door for Morrissey, the 13th overall pick in 2013. Morrissey, 21, is in his first full NHL campaign but hasn’t looked out of place at all, which caught Maurice off guard.

“I am surprised,” Maurice said, per NHL.com. “You never like to admit that because it sounds like you didn’t have faith. Watching him play now, he’s so much further along in his development that we could possibly have expected.”

Elias ‘trying to figure out’ if he’ll play for New Jersey this year

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Patrik Elias, the Devils’ all-time leading scorer, is still unsure if he’ll return for another kick at the can.

“Patrik knew, we knew as an organization, coming into this year that it probably wasn’t going to be a first half of the season type of situation,” head coach John Hynes said this week, per NJ.com. “He’s still going through the process of trying to figure out whether or not he’s going to be able to play.”

Elias, 40, has been using the Devils’ facilities to rehab from offseason knee surgery. His three-year, $16.5 million deal expired in July and he remains unsigned, with no clear outlook as to when he could potentially return to action.

The veteran Czech winger has been skating and, based on various reports over the summer, does still have a desire to play. This would suggest his decision is based largely on health — he was only able to appear in 16 games last year while dealing with the aforementioned knee problems.

Despite the health woes, Elias was fairly productive last year, scoring eight points while averaging 15:26 TOI per night.

 

Canucks prospect Boeser (wrist surgery) won’t play for U.S. at World Juniors

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Brock Boeser, the University of North Dakota star taken 23rd overall by Vancouver in 2015, will miss the upcoming world junior hockey championship with a wrist injury, the school announced on Wednesday.

Boeser was one of the 27 players named to the U.S.’s preliminary roster, but will now undergo surgery on Wednesday and be out of action until January.

The 19-year-old tried to play through the injury and did have success, scoring seven goals and 16 points through 13 games. He’d missed the last five contests trying to rehab.

The loss is a big one for UND, and the American junior squad. Boeser has proven to be a terrific goal-scorer at the NCAA level — last year, as a freshman, he scored 27 times in 42 games and captured the NCHC’s rookie of the year award.

Boeser was also part of the U.S. squad that captured bronze at last year’s tourney, finishing with three points in seven games.

As for the Canucks, well, Boeser wasn’t in their plans for this season, but it’s never good to learn one of your prized prospects has been injured. It adds to what’s already been a rough 24 hours for the club.