Boston Bruins

Here’s an early look at Team Europe

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COLUMBUS — First, they really need to figure out the name.

Officially it’s the straightforward-but-staid “Team Europe,” though we heard plenty of other monikers during Saturday’s announcement of the 2016 World Cup of Hockey: Pan-European, Team Other Europe and The Island of Misfit Boys (courtesy Bleacher Report’s Dave Lozo, which I feel might not stick)

For clarity’s sake, the squad is called Team Europe (for now) and comprised of players outside the traditional Big Four — Sweden, Finland, Russia and Czech Republic — of international hockey. As such, the NHL and NHLPA have hatched a Ryder Cup-style squad of players from Slovakia, Switzerland, Slovenia, Norway, Denmark, France, Belarus, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Austria and another other European country I’ve failed to mention.

Let’s take a look at potential roster choices shall we?

Forwards: Anze Kopitar (Slovenia), Marian Gaborik, Marian Hossa, Tomas Tatar, Tomas Jurco, Richard Panik, Tomas Kopecky (Slovakia), Thomas Vanek, Michael Raffl, Michael Grabner (Austria), Mikhail Grabovski (Belarus), Mikkel Boedker, Frans Nielsen, Jannik Hansen, Lars Eller (Denmark), Antoine Roussel, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (France), Tobias Rieder, Leon Draisaitl, Marcel Goc (Germany), Zemgus Girgensons (Latvia), Mats Zuccarello (Norway), Nino Niederreiter (Switzerland), Dainius Zubrus (Lithuania).

Defense: Zdeno Chara, Andrej Sekera, Lubomir Visnovsky, Andrej Meszaros (Slovakia), Roman Josi, Mark Streit, Yannick Weber, Luca Sbisa, Mirco Mueller, Raphael Diaz (Switzerland), Christian Ehrhoff, Dennis Seidenberg (Germany).

Goalie: Jaroslav Halak (Slovakia), Frederik Andersen (Denmark), Thomas Greiss (Germany), Jonas Hiller, Reto Berra (Switzerland).

Halak, who’s represented Slovakia internationally on a number of occasions, figures to be in the mix for one of the goaltending spots — and, one would think, the starting job — but has mixed feelings about the Team Europe concept.

“I would say if it was 10 years ago it would be upsetting because 10 years ago we had a lot of guys in the NHL,” he explained during . “Right now, we got maybe 12. So that would be tough to make a team out of 12 guys.

“Obviously you need 20. It will be different to see [the rest of Team Europe] but at the same time I’m open to it. It would be nice to play with some other players from different countries.”

As most assumed when reports of a Team Europe concept first broke, the team will be well-stocked at forward but thin on defense and in goal. On their own, Switzerland and Slovakia probably have the strongest contingents but lack depth certain positions. Other countries simply don’t have enough players period so, from a competition standpoint, the Ryder Cup-style amalgam makes sense.

It just remains to be seen if all the projected players fully embrace the idea.

“I’m sure it’s going to be strange at first, but playing against each other you know pretty much all of the guys anyway, Kopitar said. “I don’t think it’s going to be too hard to come together.”

NHL unveils 2016 Winter Classic, Stadium Series games

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On Saturday, the NHL officially announced three outdoor games for the 2015-16 season with Boston, Minnesota and Colorado playing host.

On Jan. 1, 2016, the Bruins will take on the Montreal Canadiens at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. Boston becomes the first team to play host to the Winter Classic twice. The Bruins defeated the Philadelphia Flyers, 2-1 in overtime, at Fenway Park in 2010. The Canadiens will become the second Canadian-based team to play in a Winter Classic, after the Toronto Maple Leafs participated in last year’s event at Michigan Stadium.

The Minnesota Wild will play host to the first of two Stadium Series games on Feb. 21, when the Chicago Blackhawks visit TCF Bank Stadium on the University of Minnesota campus.

Commissioner Gary Bettman was asked about including the Blackhawks in a fourth outdoor game.

Six days later, the Colorado Avalanche will welcome the Detroit Red Wings to Coors Field in the second Stadium Series game.

All-Star captains Foligno and Toews announce player assignments for skills competition

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Team Foligno and Team Toews announced the All-Star and rookie assignments for tonight’s All-Star Skills competition, which you can watch live at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN or online at NBCSports.com.

Maple Leafs’ forward Phil Kessel, who was traded from Team Toews to Team Foligno Friday night highlights the list of players participating in the fastest skater competition. Jonathan Drouin of the Lightning, Habs’ Jiri Sekac and Buffalo’s Zemgus Girigensons will also skate for Team Foligno. They’ll compete against Tyler Seguin, who was involved in the Kessel trade, Mike Hoffman of the Ottawa Senators, Panthers’ rookie Aaron Ekblad and Blues’ sniper Vladimir Tarasenko.

Team Foligno will set Alex Ovechkin, Claude Giroux, Ryan Johansen free in the breakaway challenge, they’ll face Team Toews’ Corey Crawford. For Team Toews’ Tarasenko, Jakub Voracek and Johnny Gaudreau will be tasked with beating Brian Elliott.

Bobby Ryan, Nick Foligno, Radim Vrbata and Patrick Kane will receive passes from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Anze Kopitar for Team Foligno in the accuracy shooting competition. Rick Nash and Patrik Elias will feed shooters Ryan Getzlaf, Patrice Bergeron, John Tavares and Jonathan Toews for Team Toews.

Ryan Johansen and Kane highlight Team Foligno participants for the challenge relay while Team Toews replied with Gaudreau and Bergeron.

Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien will be part of a group of four shooters for Team Foligno in the hardest shot competition. They’ll be challenged by the likes of Brent Seabrook and Shea Weber from Team Toews.

The shootout competition will feature the likes of Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos from Team Foligno go up against Tarasenko and Tavares from Team Toews.

Individual winners will be crowned from each of the six events and points in the overall team vs. team competition will also be awarded from each challenge.

Leafs’ prospect Nylander using Bruins’ Pastrnak as motivation

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Toronto Maple Leafs 2014 first-round pick William Nylander made his North American professional debut Friday night with the American Hockey League’s Marlies.

Not since the 2006-07 season when goaltender Justin Pogge made his AHL debut had there been such hype surrounding a Leafs’ pick in a Marlies sweater.

Unfortunately for the 18-year-old he was held off the scoresheet as the Marlies were blanked 3-0 by the Hamilton Bulldogs, the affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens.

Nylander joined the Marlies after scoring eight goals and 20 points in 21 games for Modo in the Swedish Hockey League this season. He also appeared in seven games for Sweden at the world junior hockey championship scoring three goals and seven assists – leading his team with 10 points.

At the same tournament, Nylander’s close friend, and Bruins’ prospect, David Pastrnak had a team-leading seven points in five games for the Czech Republic. Following the tournament, the Bruins’ recalled Pastrnak, who had four goals and an assist in seven games prior to the NHL All-Star break.

Watching Pastrnak’s trajectory in such a short span has Nylander motivated.

“The work he’s put in, he deserves to be there,” Nylander said. “I’m really happy for him. We’re really close buddies back home so I mean seeing him score makes me happy and inspires me to keep working and hopefully one day I’ll get the chance. Even if it’s not this year, maybe next year. That’s your goal.”

One of the things the Marlies will work on with Nylander is adjusting to the physicality of the North American game.

“I think that’s one of the aspects of his game that we want him to improve upon,” said Leafs assistant general manager, Kyle Dubas. “It’s going to have to happen over here. I think at the world juniors you see he does put himself in positions with the puck where he gets run at and hit a lot. It’s not going to take long to take some hits from men where he’s going to know not to do it again.”

Nylander and the Marlies play host to the Bulldogs in the second half of a home and home Saturday afternoon before the American Hockey League pauses for its’ All-Star break.

NHL All-Star Game rosters set after fantasy draft

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The rosters for the 2015 NHL All-Star game have been decided. Drink it all in, hockey fans.

We saw it all tonight, didn’t we?

Phil Kessel wasn’t taken last, selected second overall by Team Toews, and then traded to Team Foligno for Tyler Seguin. Alex Ovechkin so desired a new car and didn’t get one.

Here are the rosters for both All-Star teams.

TEAM FOLIGNO:

Forwards: Nick Foligno, Patrick Kane, Ryan Johansen, Anze Kopitar, Steven Stamkos, Phil Kessel, Claude Giroux, Bobby Ryan, Radim Vrbata, Zemgus Girgensons, Alex Ovechkin, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

Defensemen: Drew Doughty, Duncan Keith, Dustin Byfuglien, Brent Burns, Kevin Shattenkirk, Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

Goalies: Carey Price, Marc-Andre Fleury, Brian Elliott.

TEAM TOEWS:

Forwards: Jonathan Toews, Ryan Getzlaf, Rick Nash, Tyler Seguin, Jakub Voracek, John Tavares, Vladimir Tarasenko, Patrice Bergeron, Patrik Elias, Tyler Johnson, Filip Forsberg.

Defensemen: Shea Weber, Brent Seabrook, Aaron Ekblad, Ryan Suter, Mark Giordano, Justin Faulk.

Goalies: Corey Crawford, Roberto Luongo, Jaroslav Halak.