Islanders’ Boychuk ‘day-to-day’ after scary crash into boards

Jared Clinton
Johnny Boychuk crashes into the boards (via Streamable)

New York Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk nearly started the New Year in the worst way possible after a scary collision with the boards during Thursday night’s game against the Buffalo Sabres. Thankfully, though, it appears Boychuk will be all right.

Late in the third period, Boychuk was closing in on Sabres rookie Jack Eichel, who was racing to a loose puck in the Islanders’ zone. As Boychuk approached Eichel, who had nearly beaten Boychuk to the puck that was sitting below the goal line, the Islanders blueliner caught an edge and went sailing headfirst into the boards behind the New York net: Read more

Why Sweden is the favorite to win this year’s World Junior Championship

William Nylander (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

The reason the World Junior Championship is so fun is that in the past five years, five different countries have won the gold medal. That parity is a blessing to the tournament, but it also makes it difficult to handicap a showdown in which two teams with championship aspirations often meet in the quarterfinal, as Russia and the United States have done in the past two years.

But if we’re talking favorites for the 2016 installment, which kicks off in Helsinki on Boxing Day, I will take Sweden. And here’s my logic:

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Prospect Need to Know: Team Canada’s Mason McDonald feeling the heat

Mason McDonald  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Canada is off to Finland now in preparation for the world juniors and a couple big names will not be making the trip. Yes, there are always surprising cuts and this year was no exception with Islanders pick Michael Dal Colle and top 2016 defense prospect Jakob Chychrun getting axed early. Having seen the team’s exhibition game on Saturday, I can understand what happened. Dal Colle was given plenty of ice time but never really seemed to get in gear. He’s an offensive player but didn’t look too dangerous. Cold at the wrong time, I suppose. Chychrun, being the youngest potential blueliner, had to stand out and in my mind, the key to his roster spot was in physicality: Canada has plenty of puckmovers already. The big kid didn’t rattle many cages on Saturday however, and perhaps that’s why he will return to Sarnia. But hey, it’s a really tough team to make – and a lot of great players never got to play for Team Canada in the past. Let’s take a look at some other names in the news right now:

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Rumor Roundup: Trade talk dies down as holiday freeze approaches

Matt Duchene, Patrick Marleau, and Ryan Johansen. (Getty Images)

November saw a number of notable NHL players pop up in the rumor mill. Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene, Columbus Blue Jackets pivot Ryan Johansen, San Jose Sharks forward Patrick Marleau, and Edmonton Oilers forwards Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle became hot topics of trade speculation.

Moving into mid-December and with the league’s holiday trade freeze (Dec. 19-27) just over a week away, much of the trade chatter regarding those players has cooled off or completely died out.

Since Duchene first surfaced in trade talk in early-November, he’s become one of the league’s hottest offensive stars. Most observers now assume Avs GM Joe Sakic was simply trying to light a fire under the 24-year-old, who was off to a slow start.

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Kyle Okposo pulls off Datsyukian deke to beat Michal Neuvirth

Jared Clinton
Kyle Okposo toe-drags the puck before scoring (via NHL/YouTube)

Kyle Okposo must have been studying film of Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk, because the New York Islanders right winger scored a jaw-dropping shootout goal that utilized a move that looked incredibly similar to the one Datsyuk made popular.

Okposo had his number called for the Islanders during the second round of the shootout Tuesday against the Philadelphia Flyers, and he didn’t disappoint coach Jack Capuano. After winding into the zone, Okposo made a head fake with the puck on his forehand before shifting it to his backhand and feigning a shot glove side. Flyers goaltender Michal Neuvirth bit on the second fake attempt, at which point Okposo pulled the puck around Neuvirth with a backhand toe-drag before Okposo popped the puck into the top of the net on his forehand: Read more

Rumor Roundup: Hurricanes’ Staal, Bruins’ Eriksson two pending free agents to watch

Eric Staal (Len Redkoles/Getty Images)

Carolina Hurricanes captain Eric Staal’s future remains a hot topic in the NHL rumor mill. Appearing on NBC Sports, TSN insider Bob McKenzie reports Hurricanes GM Ron Francis is expected to meet soon with Staal’s agent to determine if the two sides can work out a new deal.

If a new contract isn’t possible, the Hurricanes could attempt to move him before the Feb. 29 trade deadline. Staal, 31, carries a full no-movement clause, but he told NHL.com’s Dan Rosen he won’t veto a trade if management opts to move him.

The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson believes the Nashville Predators could be a trade destination for Staal. He points out Predators coach Peter Laviolette guided Staal and the Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup in 2006. Read more

Blues’ David Backes levels Islanders’ Brock Nelson with borderline hit

Jared Clinton
David Backes hits Brock Nelson (via Streamable)

St. Louis Blues captain David Backes has never shied away from physical play and he’s always walked a fine line, but the NHL’s Department of Player Safety may be taking a second and third look at a hit he laid on New York Islanders winger Brock Nelson Friday night.

With less than five minutes gone in the first frame, the Blues were breaking down ice when Backes dropped the puck off to defenseman Jay Bouwmeester. As soon as Backes left the puck for Bouwmeester, he stepped into the path of Nelson and dropped the 24-year-old with a stiff shoulder. Nelson was knocked to the ice and was clutching his head before being attended to by the Islanders’ medical staff: Read more