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Colorado Avalanche: News From Around the NHL December 23rd, 2014

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Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Bigras was named OHL Player of the Week. [TheBarrieExaminer.com]

Elmvale native Chris Bigras has been named Ontario Hockey League player of the week after recording seven points in two games.

The Owen Sound Attack defenceman and Colorado Avalanche prospect is the first defenceman to earn the award this season in a week highlighted by a five-point performance last Wednesday night against the Plymouth Whalers.

Is the Canada - USA rivalry the biggest one in hockey? [TorontoSun.com]

Whether they watched it on a highlight reel or learned of it from the Kurt Russell flick "Miracle," this group of teenagers certainly is aware of one thing: The man who was standing in front of them was the author of the greatest moment in American hockey history. As such, who better to get them cranked up and motivated for the job at hand at the upcoming World Junior Championship than Eruzione, a true legend of the sport?

His message to the these kids: "Respect yourself, respect your teammates and respect your opponent."

Respect: A word that should be heeded by all the competitors in the event.

Is fighting in hockey slowly dying? [TheGlobeandMail.com]

There was skirmish after skirmish and a parade the penalty box, especially late in a crazy first period.

For whatever reason, the Penguins and Panthers went at each other on Saturday, racking up a combined 76 penalty minutes, which included 28 in less than a minute late in the first period.

But in all the chaos, there were only four fighting majors.

And that's been the general trend all year: Fighting is dying.

Heading into Sunday's games, there had been only 0.35 fights per game in the NHL, the lowest pace in 45 years going back to the 1968-69 season.

Zepp finally got to step on NHL ice this past weekend... and in doing so went down in the history books. [TheStar.com]

After it was over, after he became the oldest goalie since 1926 to win his NHL debut, Rob Zepp was overjoyed by the moment.

A moment that left him prideful he had continued to chase his dream through countless bus rides during 14 professional seasons.

Zepp, 33, finally played in the NHL on Sunday night and performed well as the Philadelphia Flyers overcame a two-goal, third-period deficit and stunned the Winnipeg Jets 4-3 in overtime at the MTS Centre.

Steve Downie, Thomas Greiss and Brandon Sutter may have the mumps. [CTVNews.ca]

The Pittsburgh Penguins just can't seem to shake the mumps.

The team sent backup goaltender Thomas Greiss and forwards Brandon Sutter and Steve Downie home from Florida on Monday to undergo testing for the virus.

All three will remain in isolation until the test results are known.

The Ducks may fly together, but they get scored on when a referee clotheslines a defenseman. [SBNation.com]

When the Ottawa Senators began their break into the offensive zone, it first appeared like the Anaheim Ducks had everything under control. The two forwards in the middle of the ice were covered, and defenseman Cam Fowler had Senators winger Bobby Ryan within his reach along the boards.

Does Kovalchuk regret his decision to head to the KHL? [TheHockeyNews.com]

Ilya Kovalchuk will be fascinating to watch, if only because he's clearly backed the wrong horse. He went all-in with the KHL when he signed his NHL retirement papers two summers ago. Kovalchuk left $77 million in guaranteed NHL salary behind to take a rumoured four-year, $60-million deal with SKA St. Petersburg in Russia.

But as the economy tanks, what does that mean for his future? KHL players make their salaries in rubles, and while Kovalchuk's contract was worth $15 million per year when he signed, it's worth about half that now. He's signed through to 2017 and he'll probably get all of his rubles, but his pay won't be worth what he expected. And what does he do after that contract expires?