Mike Halford

Pavel Zacha, Auston Matthews

Matthews, Werenski highlight Team USA World Junior preliminary roster

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USA Hockey has selected the 29 players for its preliminary World Junior Hockey Championships training camp.

Auston Matthews, the consensus No. 1 overall pick for the ’16 draft that’s currently playing pro in Switzerland, headlines the list of invitees, along with Columbus prospect Zach Werenski, the highest draftee (eighth overall) of any player set to attend.

Werenski is joined by fellow ’15 first-rounders Brock Boeser (Vancouver) and Colin White (Ottawa).

Also invited were ’14 first-rounders Sonny Milano (Columbus) and Nick Schmaltz (Chicago).

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL CAMP ROSTER

You’ll probably recognize a couple surnames: Ryan MacInnis (son of Hockey Hall of Famer Al MacInnis), Kiefer Bellows (son of ex-Minnesota North Star Brian Bellows) and Matthew Tkachuk (son of longtime NHL power forward Keith Tkachuk). There’s also Casey Fitzgerald, the son of Devils assistant GM Tom Fitzgerald.

Among the notable omissions? Minnesota prospect Alex Tuch, taken 18th overall at the ’15 draft, and two Winnipeg prospects: Jack Roslovic (25th overall, ’15) and Kyle Connor (17th overall, ’15).

USA Hockey will bring its group of 29 to training camp at Boston University from Dec. 14-18, followed by a second camp in Finland from Dec. 19-24. It’s expected that, at the culmination of the Finnish-based camp, the U.S. roster will be trimmed to 23.

The 2016 World Juniors go from Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Helsinki.

Goalie nods: Dubnyk (groin) out, so Kuemper starts for Wild

Darcy Kuemper

Minnesota’s goaltending depth chart will have a decidedly different look tonight against Colorado — with Devan Dubnyk out with a minor groin strain, it’s Darcy Kuemper ascending to the No. 1 job while Niklas Backstrom dresses as the Wild’s backup netminder for the first time this season.

Kuemper, who came on in relief of Dubnyk in Saturday’s 3-0 win over the Avs — stopping all nine shots to preserve the shutout — has always fared well against Colorado. He’s a perfect 3-0-0 in his career, with a .949 save percentage and 1.30 GAA.

For the Avs, Semyon Varlamov gets the call in goal.

Elsewhere…

— Looks to be a battle of the backups in Boston: Nashville has confirmed that Carter Hutton will give Pekka Rinne the night off, while the Bruins look as though they’re going with Jonas Gustavsson.

Ryan Miller will face his former team as the Sabres make their way into Vancouver. Buffalo played last night in Edmonton and Chad Johnson was in goal, so it’s likely Linus Ullmark will go against the Canucks.

 

This ‘R-rated’ Derick Brassard-Tim Peel altercation sounds awfully weird

New York Rangers v Pittsburgh Penguins - Game One
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Here’s what we know.

During the third period of New York’s 4-1 win over Ottawa on Sunday, Rangers center Derick Brassard got an earful from referee Tim Peel.

“Screaming bloody murder” is how the New York Post described it.

Brassard said he was trying to be friendly with Peel, and that the referee “took it the wrong way.” Brassard then added the incident was “weird” and “shocked” him.

Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault had his own take:

[Vigneault] was right there to hear what was happening, and when asked about it after the game, Vigneault smiled and said it was all “R-rated.”

“I think it was just a misunderstanding,” Vigneault said. “I like Timmy a lot and I think Brass likes him too, so it was just a little misunderstanding. Boys will be boys sometimes, right?”

What we don’t know is what was said, or why Peel reacted the way he did.

But this isn’t the first time Peel’s found himself in headlines.

Earlier this year, he was suspended one game after a photo of him holding a shot of alcohol at a bar surfaced online.

The picture was in relation to an interview Peel conducted with Yahoo’s Greg Wyshynski, during which the two met at a New York-area pub to discuss, among other things, Wyshynski’s criticisms of Peel’s work.

A 20-year veteran, Peel was subsequently not chosen to work last year’s postseason. That decision came after he was selected to work both the ’14 Stanley Cup playoffs, and the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Montreal waives Semin

Alex Galchenyuk; Alexander Semin
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Looks like the Alex Semin era in Montreal is coming to an end.

Per multiple reports (Globe and Mail, News 1130), Montreal has apparently put veteran forward Alex Semin on waivers.

UPDATE: Confirmed, via TSN.

Semin, 31, joined the Habs this season on a one-year, $1 million deal after Carolina made the costly decision to buy out his five-year, $35 million contract.

Montreal GM Marc Bergevin took a low-risk, low-cost gamble on Semin, hoping the change of scenery could help him rediscover some of the form that saw him score a career-high 40 goals for Washington in 2009-10.

It ended up being a losing bet.

Semin has been a healthy scratch on numerous occasions this year and, when he did crack the lineup, showed a penchant for unnecessarily putting his team shorthanded.

All told, Semin had just one goal and four points in 15 games for the Habs.

It remains to be seen what happens next. It’s hard to imagine Semin being stoked about an assignment to AHL St. John’s — assuming he clears waivers — and it’s also hard to imagine him fitting into Montreal’s future plans.

Speaking of what happens next, it’ll be interesting to see if today’s move is a precursor to Montreal addressing its second line.

The club hoped Semin could be the goalscoring winger needed to play alongside Lars Eller and Alex Galchenyuk, but that clearly didn’t work out.

Related: Semin scratched again; will the Habs need to make a trade?

Gibson, Weber, Cammalleri named NHL’s three stars of the week

John Gibson

Anaheim goalie John Gibson, Nashville d-man Shea Weber and New Jersey winger Mike Cammalleri have been named the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Dec. 6, the league announced.

More:

Gibson posted a 3-1-0 record with a 0.76 goals-against average, .968 save percentage and two shutouts to lift the Ducks (11-12-5, 27 points) into fourth place in the Pacific Division.

Weber tied for second among all players with 3-3—6, including his first career hat trick, to power the Predators (13-8-5, 31 points) to a 1-1-1 record in three contests.

Cammalleri led the NHL with 4-3—7 in four outings, including three straight multi-point performances, to help the Devils (14-10-3, 31 points) move into the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Gibson’s certainly made things interesting in Anaheim.

Frederik Andersen returned from the flu and was healthy enough to back up for Sunday’s win over Pittsburgh, which forced head coach Bruce Boudreau to scratch Anton Khudobin.

So yes, the three-headed goalie monster is alive and kicking in Orange County.

Related: Gibson starts (again) as Anaheim’s crease gets crowded (again)