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Wednesday Daily Puck: Alexander Auld Lang Syne

Chris Morgan

Chris Morgan is a writer of sports, pop culture, and humor articles, a book author, a podcaster, and a fan of all Detroit sports teams.

Around the Rink

NHL teams have short memories when it comes to coaching success, perhaps due to fear of complacency digging them into a bigger hole, and so Pete DeBoer has been fired only a couple of years after leading the New Jersey Devils into the Stanley Cup Final. Now the team is old and struggling, but they’ve given themselves a spark of something new, if only through their new coaching situation.

While most teams would go with an interim coach, moving over an assistant or calling up the AHL guy, the Devils are doing something different. Not unlike when a team loses its captain and instead of replacing him just gives, like, 10 guys an “A,” New Jersey now has three ostensible “head” coaches. Adam Oates is running the offense, Scott Stevens is running the defense, and GM Lou Lamoriello as the man in the middle, doing whatever it is he’s doing.

Obviously, this is quite different, and maybe it won’t work, but the Devils should be credited for thinking outside the box. Sports are a bastion of stagnation and orthodoxy. Look no further than the people in that world that still dismiss advanced statistics. It’s always interesting when a team does something new, and this could possibly work. It seems unlikely that the Devils are going to revolutionize how NHL teams are coached, but they’ve got nothing to lose here, and they should be commended for their originality, if nothing else.

Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)

Islanders (Jaroslav Halak) at Jets (Ondrej Pavelec) 5:00
Lightning (Andrei Vasilevskiy) at Sabres (Jhonas Enroth*) 6:00
Rangers (Henrik Lundqvist*) at Panthers (Al Montoya*) 6:00
Maple Leafs (Jonathan Bernier) at Bruins (Tuukka Rask) 7:00
Hurricanes (Cam Ward*) at Penguins (Marc-Andre Fleury) 7:00
Wild (Darcy Kuemper*) at Blue Jackets (Sergei Bobrovsky*) 7:00
Devils (Cory Schneider*) at Red Wings (Jimmy Howard) 7:30
Sharks (Antti Niemi) at Ducks (Frederik Andersen) 8:00
Coyotes (Devan Dubnyk) at Stars (Kari Lehtonen) 8:30
Flyers (Steve Mason) at Avalanche (Semyon Varlamov) 9:00
Oilers (Viktor Fasth) at Flames (Jonas Hiller*) 9:30

*Confirmed Starters

For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check out our Projected Goalies Grid.

Injury News For Teams Playing Wednesday

Islanders
Matt Carkner, D (back) – Out rest of season.
Michael Grabner, RW (lower body) – Expected to play Wednesday.
Brian Strait, D (personal) – Out indefinitely.

Jets
Toby Enstrom, D (lower-body) – Out until January.
Evander Kane, LW (lower-body) – Out until February.
Mark Stuart, D (lower-body) – On injured reserve.
Jacob Trouba, D (upper-body) – On injured reserve.

Lightning
Jason Garrison, D (undisclosed) – Out Wednesday.

Sabres
Marcus Foligno, LW (finger) – Out 1-2 months.
Brian Gionta, RW (head) – Week-to-week.
Torrey Mitchell, RW (foot) – On injured reserve.
Tyler Myers, D (lower-body) – On injured reserve.
Rasmus Ristolainen, D (illness) – Did not play Monday.

Rangers
Dan Girardi, D (foot) – Game-time decision.

Panthers
Tomas Kopecky, RW (undisclosed) – Did not play Tuesday.
Shawn Thornton, LW (groin) – Has not been practicing.

Maple Leafs
Leo Komarov, LW (head) – Has been practicing.
Richard Panik, RW (head) – Has been practicing.

Bruins
Patrice Bergeron, C (undisclosed) – May play Wednesday.
Simon Gagne, LW (personal) – Out indefinitely.
Milan Lucic, LW (undisclosed) – May play Wednesday.
Adam McQuaid, D (finger) – Has been skating, return unknown.

Hurricanes
John-Michael Liles, D (illness) – On injured reserve.
Andrej Nestrasil, C (upper-body) – On injured reserve.
Alexander Semin, LW (upper-body) – Practiced Tuesday, may play Wednesday.
Jordan Staal, C (leg) – Practiced Tuesday after playing Monday.

Penguins
Craig Adams, RW (undisclosed) – Skated Tuesday.
Beau Bennett, RW (knee) – Optimistic he will play Wednesday.
Blake Comeau, LW (wrist) – Out several months.
Steve Downie, RW (illness) – Skated Tuesday.
Pascal Dupuis, RW (blood clot) – Skated Tuesday.
Christian Ehrhoff, D (lower-body) – May play Wednesday.
Patric Hornqvist, RW (lower-body) – On injured reserve.
Olli Maatta, D (upper-body) – Skated Tuesday, not likely to return soon.
Paul Martin, D (undisclosed) – May play this weekend.
Zach Sill, RW (upper-body) – Skated last weekend, return date unknown.
Scott Wilson, LW (lower-body) – On injured reserve.

Wild
Niklas Backstrom, G (illness) – Resumed practicing.
Keith Ballard, D (conussion) – On injured reserve.
Jonas Brodin, D (upper-body) – Won’t play Wednesday.
Mikael Granlund, C (wrist) – Will miss four weeks.
Jason Zucker, D (illness) – Expected to miss Wednesday’s game.

Blue Jackets
Artem Anisimov, C (triceps) – Out 2-3 months.
Cam Atkinson, RW (upper-body) – On injured reserve.
Brian Gibbons, C (knee) – Skated Tuesday, not likely to return soon.
Nathan Horton, RW (back) – Out for season.
Boone Jenner, LW (back) – Out 1-2 months.
Mark Letestu, C (groin) – May return in about a week.
Ryan Murray, D (knee) – Out indefinitely.

Devils
Ryane Clowe, LW (head) – Out indefinitely.
Patrik Elias, LW (illness) – Has been skating.
Stephen Gionta, C (hand) – On injured reserve.
Martin Havlat, RW (illness) – Practiced Tuesday.
Jacob Josefson, C (illness) – On injured reserve.
Michael Ryder, RW (illness) – On injured reserve.
Bryce Salvador, D (lower-body) – Hasn’t resumed skating.
Damon Severson, D (ankle) – On injured reserve.

Red Wings
Jonas Gustavsson, G (shoulder) – Practiced Tuesday.
Jakub Kindl, D (elbow) – Placed on short-term injured reserve.

Sharks
Mike Brown, RW (leg) – Out 6-8 weeks.
Tyler Kennedy, LW (shoulder) – Not close to returning.
John Scott, LW (suspension) – Suspended for this game.
Raffi Torres, LW (knee) – Will be out “well into the new year.”

Ducks
Eric Brewer, D (foot) – Week-to-week.
Tim Jackman, RW (head) – Skated Monday.
Kyle Palmieri, RW (shoulder) – Skated Monday, may return soon.
Corey Perry, RW (knee) – Questionable for Wednesday.

Coyotes
Chris Summers, D (upper-body) – On injured reserve.
Joe Vitale, C (lower-body) – Did not play Monday.

Stars
Patrick Eaves, RW (ankle) – Out 4-8 weeks.
Patrik Nemeth, D (arm) – Out for the season.
Valeri Nichushkin, LW (hip) – Out indefinitely.
Rich Peverley, C (chest) – On long-term injured reserve.

Flyers
Zac Rinaldo, LW (upper-body) – Day-to-day, has not been playing.
Ryan White, RW (chest) – On conditioning stint in AHL.

Avalanche
Patrick Bordeleau, LW (knee) – Out 8-10 weeks.
Jamie McGinn, LW (back) – Likely out for the season.
Ben Street, C (hand) – On injured reserve.
Ryan Wilson, D (shoulder) – Out for season.
Jesse Winchester, LW (head) – Has been practicing, return date unknown.

Oilers
Benoit Pouliot, LW (foot) – Skated Tuesday, may return soon.

Flames
Mikael Backlund, C (abdomen) – No timetable for return.
Josh Jooris, C (wrist) – Did not play Monday.
Ladislav Smid, D (upper-body) – On injured reserve.

Hot

Ryan Miller, G, VAN – After a rough stint in St. Louis last season, Miller was cast into free agency, where he landed with the Canucks. He did not find his old form right away, but wrapping around the Christmas break, he’s been excellent. In his last four starts, he has three wins, and he has not let in more than two goals in any of those games. His worst save percentage for a game in that time is .929, and his only loss was in overtime, so there has hardly been a hotter goalie in the NHL heading into the new year.

Shea Weber, D, NAS – Weber potted two goals Tuesday against the St. Louis Blues, including a game-winner that came shorthanded. This now gives him eight goals on the season, and he now has three points in the three games he’s played since the break ended. He was also playing well before the NHL stopped for Santa, although he was mostly notching helpers, and he continues to shoulder a massive load in terms of ice time for the Predators.

Cold

Nino Niederreiter, RW, MIN – Niederreiter has 14 goals in 34 games which is impressive, and he takes a lot of shots on net. However, recently the puck has stopped finding its way past opposing netminders. He has zero goals in his last five games, and in those games he is also a whopping minus-8. When he’s not scoring goals, he’s not contributing from a fantasy perspective, as his three assists can attest to, and at the moment he’s not scoring goals.

Mike Richards, C, LAK – There was talk that the Kings might try and jettison Richards in some capacity this offseason to get out from under his contract. They didn’t, and they may be regretting it. Richards has been held without a point in eight straight games, and he is a minus-6 in those contests as well. The Kings as a whole have had their questions and concerns this season, but Richards was already a worry, and recently his lived down to that.

Recommended Pickup
Loui Eriksson, LW, BOS – Eriksson once scored 36 goals in a season, and he has four seasons with at least 26 goals. Of course, all of those years came in Dallas, before he was part of the Tyler Seguin trade. Seguin has become one of the best players in the NHL. Eriksson had 10 goals and 37 points in 61 games last season. However, he’s only 29, so it seemed unlikely he had completely lost it. This year has been a bit better, he already has 23 points, and he’s been on a tear recently. In his last seven games, he has eight points and is a plus-6. Maybe the old Eriksson has joined us just in time for the calendar to flip over.

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