Giguere awaits season debut for Avs on Thursday


Colorado Avalanche No. 1 goalie Semyon Varlamov has been absolutely fantastic so far this season, but his well-known backup Jean-Sebastien Giguere will get some action on Thursday, the Denver Post’s Adrian Dater reports.

Giguere, 36, will get a tough assignment in facing the Bruins in Boston tomorrow. He’ll kick off his third season with Colorado, which also counts as a contract year.

Varlamov, 25, will see his current deal expire next summer as well, so both Avalanche goalies have plenty to play for in 2013-14.

Giguere isn’t the star he was for some time in Anaheim, yet he’s served as more than a capable No. 2 in Colorado. He wasn’t as impressive in 2013 (.908 save percentage, 5-4-4 record) as he was in 2011-12, but he seemed to take on a leadership role of sorts for a wayward team. (His teammates probably weren’t crazy about the whole “spilling the beans on the Vegas trip” thing, though.)

“Jiggy” grew up idolizing new Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy, so it must be surreal to play for him.

NHL suspends Brad Stuart three games for hit to Rick Nash’s head


The NHL decided to hand San Jose Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart a three-game suspension on Wednesday for a high hit on New York Rangers star winger Rick Nash from Tuesday.

Here’s the explanation video:

Shanahan’s description implies that the league has few problems with the hit, but drills him because there was contact to the head, Stuart seemingly angled upward to deliver the hit and Nash was injured.

OK, let’s face it; a huge part of the motivation was that Nash was the target. He’s been a huge asset for the Rangers and missed four games last season because of a concussion.

Stuart will be eligible to return to action for an Oct. 17 road game against the Dallas Stars. The suspension costs the 33-year-old blueliner $55,384.62.

This isn’t the first suspension of Stuart’s career, but it’s been long enough that he isn’t considered a repeat offender by the NHL’s standards. That doesn’t mean he’s been shy about delivering huge checks, though.

Photos: Coyotes’ backup Greiss’ mask is nightmare fuel for Yandle


It’s unclear if Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle was joking about the team’s backup Thomas Greiss’ creepy new mask when he gave this assessment to Dave Yest of the team’s Web site Wednesday:

“I lost a little bit of sleep over it,” Yandle said.

Here are the two side views of that creepy mask, which Vest posted a week ago on Twitter:

source: Getty Images

What … is that, exactly? That’s unclear, just don’t look into its eyes for more than a minute.

At least the other side is a little more palatable, as it features Bigfoot/Sasquatch/whatever you’d like to call the mythical beast.*


Judging by Mike Smith’s performance on Tuesday, Coyotes fans might see Greiss, 27, wearing that disturbing mask in net quite a few times this season.

Related: Steve Mason combines U.S. history with … zombies.

Giroux: ‘The confidence is not there’


The Philadelphia Flyers finally won on Tuesday, but their captain Claude Giroux still doesn’t have a point in 2013-14. Some might assume that he’s suffering from the lingering effects of his offseason hand injury, but he told that it’s more mental than physical.

“The confidence is not there,” Giroux said. “I don’t think it’s the hand — the confidence is just not there. I will be fine. A few bad games, you always have a stretch like that during the season. Going day by day. We have a new system today and guys did a good job working it. It’s an ugly win, but we’ll take it.”

Giroux, 25, has taken 10 shots on goal in four games with no results. He’s also set up his fair share of plays, but for many, the bottom line is that he needs to produce.

New Flyers head coach Craig Berube believes Giroux might be forcing it a bit.

“I think he’s fine, he’s healthy,” Berube said. “I think G is trying a little bit too hard, personally. I think he gives everything he’s got out there. Sometimes it is too much. You try too hard and can’t accomplish the things you want to accomplish.”

Plenty of talented players struggle – remember when it took Phil Kessel 11 games to score a goal in 2013? – so Giroux would be best served to put it out of his mind.

That might not be too easy in a demanding market like Philly, though.

Sabres might scratch Grigorenko Thursday


Much like last season, it appears that Mikhail Grigorenko is struggling to translate his considerable skills into NHL production. Unfortunately for the 19-year-old, the Olean Times Herald reports that he might be on his way to healthy scratch status again, too.

Grigorenko hasn’t scored a single point in four contests, firing a middling five shots on goal.

Sabres head coach Ron Rolston explains his struggles (Note: please don’t take a shot every time he says “puck.”)

“You have to find a way to be an impact in a game,” Rolston said. “It’s his ability to put himself in positions where he can use those skills. So that means you got to go to the puck. You got to get the puck. You got to support the puck. You got to be around the puck. You got to battle for the puck. You can stickhandle in a phone booth. That doesn’t really translate unless you can be an impact in a game.”

Last season, Grigorenko was in that awkward developmental stage in which he was too gifted for the lower level (54 points in 33 QMJHL games for the Quebec Ramparts), but not quite there yet in the NHL.

Considering his young age, let’s hope that these growing pains don’t shake his confidence.