Mike Halford

Tough blow for Isles as Boychuk (upper body) out 4-6 weeks

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It didn’t look good when Johnny Boychuk went flying into the end boards after missing a hit on Jack Eichel last week.

And now doctors have confirmed — it wasn’t good.

Boychuk will miss the next 4-6 weeks with an upper-body injury, the Islanders announced on Monday. It’s a pretty significant blow, as Boychuk averages the third-most minutes on the team and — at the time of his injury — was the Isles’ leading d-man scorer, with three goals and 14 points in 38 games.

The 32-year-old won’t require surgery to fix the ailment. That’s a positive.

The negative?

New York hasn’t exactly been a defensive fortress lately, partly due to an injury to starting netminder Jaroslav Halak.

While the Isles are 4-2 in their last six, they’ve also given up 19 goals over that span, including 10 in the last two games to Pittsburgh and Dallas (the Pens and Stars games were the first two Boychuk missed to his injury, not coincidentally.)

Looking at New York’s schedule, it’s safe to assume Boychuk misses the club’s eight remaining games in January, while his status for the first half of February — the Isles play eight more games between Feb. 2-15 — remains up in the air.

When Boychuk got hurt, the Isles recalled Adam Pelech as a defensive reinforcement. He acquitted himself reasonably well in Sunday’s win over Dallas, finishing plus-2 in just over 16 minutes of ice time.

The timing of Boychuk’s injury will almost certainly play into Travis Hamonic‘s immediate future in New York. The defenseman, who has requested a trade, now seems destined to stay with the Islanders and is prepared to take on an increased role in Boychuk’s absence.

Ducks’ Gibson named December’s rookie of the month

Mike Santorelli, John Gibson

Anaheim goalie John Gibson has been named the NHL’s rookie of the month for December, the league announced on Monday.


[Gibson] went 5-3-1 with a 1.62 goals-against average, .929 save percentage and three shutouts in 10 appearances.

Gibson, a second-round selection (39th overall) in the 2011 NHL Draft, shared the League lead in shutouts with Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford (13 GP). He recorded two of his three blank sheets with consecutive 1-0 victories to close the month, snapping the Calgary Flames’ franchise-record 11-game home winning streak with a 14-save performance Dec. 29 and ending the calendar year with a 21-save game against the Edmonton Oilers Dec. 31.

Gibson, who has appeared in 41 career NHL games, owns an 8-4-2 record with a 1.63 goals-against average, .932 save percentage and four shutouts in 15 outings this season. He paces all goaltenders in goals-against average, ranks fourth in save percentage and is tied for third in shutouts.

Other rooks in the running included Chicago’s Artemi Panarin (four goals, 11 points in 15 games), Buffalo’s Jack Eichel (three goals, 11 points in 14 games), Tampa Bay’s Jonathan Marchessault (five goals, nine points, 13 games) and Philly’s Shayne Gostisbehere (three goals, nine points in 12 games).

With the win, Gibson joins Edmonton’s Connor McDavid and Detroit’s Dylan Larkin as rookie of the month winners this season.

Slumping Sabres keep getting hammered by injuries

Zemgus Girgensons, Tyler Ennis, Nicolas Deslauriers
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More tough news on the injury front Monday in Buffalo.

Per head coach Dan Bylsma, Nicolas Deslauriers will miss the next 3-5 weeks with a foot injury while Tyler Ennis — who hasn’t played since Dec. 30 — is also week-to-week with his respective ailment.

This puts Ennis and Deslauriers on the shelf next to three players on IR — Robin Lehner, Cody McCormick, Mark Pysyk — and comes at a horrible time for the Sabres, who have lost four straight to fall to 29th overall in the NHL.

Only the Columbus Blue Jackets have fewer points.

To give an idea of how banged-up the Sabres have been this season, consider:

— Only seven players have appeared in all 39 games thus far.

Zach Bogosian and Evander Kane, the two key pieces acquired in last year’s blockbuster trade with Winnipeg, have combined to miss 27 tilts.

— Lehner, acquired at the draft to be the club’s No. 1 goalie, has played just once.

Ennis, the team’s leading scorer last year, has only appeared in 23 of 39 games and has been something of a disappointment, at least production-wise.

Buffalo was probably counting on much more than the three goals and 11 points he’s netted thus far though, in his defense, the campaign has been pretty start-stop, start-stop with all his health concerns.

As for Deslauriers, his absence will hurt even though his role isn’t huge. The feisty forward has three goals and seven points in 38 games, leading all Sabres with 102 hits.

Quick, Doan, Letang named NHL’s three stars of the week

Jonathan Quick

Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick, Arizona’s Shane Doan and Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang have been named the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Jan. 3, the league announced on Monday.


Quick went 4-0-0 with a 1.00 goals-against average, .968 save percentage and one shutout to help the Pacific Division-leading Kings (25-11-2, 52 points) extend their winning streak to five games.

Doan led the NHL with five goals in three games to power the Coyotes (18-16-4, 40 points) to three of a possible six standings points.

Letang led all defensemen with 2-4—6 in three games to propel the Penguins (19-15-4, 42 points) to five out of a possible six standings points.

Worth mentioning that Quick is now on the verge of setting a pretty impressive record. By shutting out Vancouver on Dec. 28, he moved into a tie with John Vanbiesbrouck and Frank Brimsek for first all-time among U.S. goalies in shutouts, with 42.

Roy: Avs too focused on Iginla’s 600th goal in ugly loss to Flames

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The Colorado Avalanche had a tough go on Saturday.

They lost at home, 4-0, to the Calgary Flames. They had one shot on goal in the third period.

And head coach Patrick Roy thinks he knows what the culprit might’ve been.

“I guess we focused more in seeing Iggy score that 600th than playing our game,” Roy told the Denver Post, alluding to Jarome Iginla being stuck on career goal No. 599. “We had a few good chances and we tried to pass the puck to him instead of bringing it to the net.

“For example, [Alex] Tanguay is all alone in front of the net and he’s trying a [little] pass to Iggy.”

It’s certainly an interesting approach from Roy.

One could suggest he’s trying to mask his team’s struggles at the Pepsi Center this season — the Avs are 6-9-3 at home — and, to be fair, Iginla did say much of the same following the Calgary loss, explaining that he doesn’t “want the attention” on him as he chases the milestone, adding the Avs have talked about the situation.

There’s also the not-so-small fact Colorado was playing the Flames, the team where Iginla spent 16 years and emerged as one of the league’s best goalscorers.

The Avs have played three games with Iginla at 599 goals, and had decidedly different results in the previous two — a 6-3 win in San Jose on the Dec. 28, and a 4-3 OT loss to the defending Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks on New Year’s Eve.

So maybe Roy saw a trend in the wrong direction, and wanted to take care of it immediately.

“We’re going to have to refocus,” he said. “It’s not that I don’t want to see Iggy scoring his 600th, but we need to play our games here. Our focus was not as good.

“Is it because of it? I don’t know.”