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Colorado Avalanche: News From Around the NHL December 19th, 2014

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

ICYMI: An article about Pickard. []

There were no great expectations for Calvin Pickard when he reported to Colorado Avalanche training camp in September, not with Vezina Trophy finalist Semyon Varlamov and recent trade acquisition Reto Berra as the top two goalies.

"I wanted to make a good impression and make a statement that I'm close and ready to play at this level," Pickard said this week.

He probably didn't do either in his one preseason appearance, a 5-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks when he allowed four goals on 27 shots, but circumstances can change dramatically, and they certainly have for Pickard.

The Sens released Lazar for the world juniors. []

Curtis Lazar hasn't changed much in a year, which, for Hockey Canada, is a wonderful thing.

Nearly 12 months ago, after Canada lost to Russia in the bronze-medal game at the 2014 world junior tournament in Sweden, Lazar stood in the mixed zone at the Malmo Arena and made a statement as he peered ahead to the 2015 event.

"I want to lead," Lazar said at the time. "If I'm in this tournament again next year, I want to bring out all the details. If you have a couple of bad shifts, you're not going to make a difference in the game and ultimately the tournament."

The Canadiens honoured Saku Koivu. []

There was something special in the way that Montreal Canadiens fans embraced Saku Koivu.
Senators release Curtis Lazar to play for Canada at world juniors

And the Bell Centre crowd showed it again on Thursday night with a standing ovation in a 30-minute pre-game tribute to the former Canadiens captain ahead of a game against the Anaheim Ducks.

The nearly five-minute ovation brought tears to the 40-year-old Koivu, who retired after spending the last five years of his 18-year NHL career in Anaheim.

James Neal fined for diving. []

The NHL fined Nashville Predators forward James Neal $2,000 for diving on Wednesday, making him the first player to be fined under a new league initiative to crack down on embellishment.

Neal was assessed a two-minute minor penalty for embellishment at 19:39 of the third period of Nashville's 2-0 loss in San Jose on Saturday.

It was Neal's second citation for embellishment this season, which triggered the automatic fine.

Junior hockey player suspended for 365 days! []

The Fort McMurray Oil Barons will be without forward Danton Ayotte for the foreseeable future.

After being ejected from the first period of the team's Dec. 6 game against the Brooks Bandits for an incident with an official, Hockey Alberta came down on Ayotte Wednesday, levying a calendar-year suspension on the 1995-born forward from Wetaskawin as announced by the MOB's Twitter account.

When approached for comment regarding the decision Thursday night, MOB head coach and general manager Curtis Hunt repeated the team's statement, released through the team's Twitter account just moments earlier.

Did Giroux try to bite a players' jersey? []

It might be time to acknowledge Claude Giroux as one of the most eccentric players in the NHL.

The Flyers captain made headlines earlier this week when he picked his nose and wiped his finger off on the back of a referee. At that point I thought he couldn't top that moment, but then he went out on Thursday night and tried to take a bite out of Erik Gudbranson's jersey.