Final slate of 2017 results in uncanny amount of blowouts

Some teams ended 2017 on a high note, while others didn't even come close.

During Sunday's eight games, the winning teams outscored their opponents by a score of 41-10, making the average margin of victory 3.875.

Here's a look at Sunday's scoreboard:

Winning team Losing team Final
Golden Knights Maple Leafs 6-3
Ducks Coyotes 5-2
Lightning Blue Jackets 5-0
Red Wings Penguins 4-1
Jets Oilers 5-0
Stars Sharks 6-0
Avalanche Islanders 6-1
Flames Blackhawks 4-3 (OT)

The Flames and Blackhawks provided the only nail-biter of the evening.

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Sweden extends preliminary-round winning streak to 44 games at world juniors

Sweden extended its preliminary-round winning streak at the World Junior Hockey Championship to 44 games with a 4-3 shootout win over Russia on Sunday. The run has now spanned over 11 years.

Unfortunately for the Swedes, perfection in the round robin hasn't always translated to success in the medal rounds. During the streak, they've won gold just once - in 2012 - and haven't finished on the podium since 2014.

However, with 17-year-old phenom Rasmus Dahlin leading the way on the back end, Sweden are certainly well-equipped to end their gold-medal drought.

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Canada to face Switzerland in WJHC quarterfinals

Canada's next stop on the road to gold at the world juniors is a quarterfinal matchup against Team Switzerland on Tuesday.

The contest was confirmed following Switzerland's 6-3 loss to the Czech Republic Sunday.

Canada finished the four-game round robin schedule with a 3-0-1-0 record, while Switzerland went 1-0-0-3. The two sides did not meet in preliminary action.

The remaining quarterfinals will be decided following three contests on Sunday: Finland vs. the United States; Denmark vs. Slovakia; and Sweden vs. Russia.

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Stone: ‘Stupidity and frustration’ leading to Senators losses

The Ottawa Senators have no one to blame but themselves.

After dropping yet another game Saturday - the fifth time this month the Senators have been shut out - winger Mark Stone wasn't short on criticisms for the struggling squad.

"We're coming to the rink working hard. I don't think its work ethic. I think it's stupidity more than anything ... stupidity and frustration," Stone told Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Citizen.

"This needed to stop about (six weeks) ago. We've put ourselves in a hole that we're going to need a fantastic run and we're going to need help."

Saturday's 5-0 defeat to the Boston Bruins marked the Senators' fourth loss in their last six outings as the team has now skidded to second last in the East.

Earlier this season, the Senators pulled off a blockbuster deal to acquire center Matt Duchene from the Colorado Avalanche in hopes of building on last year's lineup that came one goal shy of advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals.

But Ottawa has been anything but successful since bringing in Duchene.

Including Saturday, the Senators have won just six of 23 games since adding Duchene. While he's not entirely at fault, the veteran isn't without blame either, as he's registered just three goals and three assists since arriving in the Canadian capital.

To make matters worse, Saturday's contest was played before a sellout crowd at the Canadian Tire Centre. It's been difficult to draw fans to Kanata this season, while those paying witness to the shellacking may need more convincing to make the trip more often.

Now 12 points back of a playoff position, a repeat of last year's postseason thriller looks like a longshot for the Senators.

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USA’s Lockwood out for WJHC with upper-body injury

Team USA will be down a forward for the remainder of the World Junior Hockey Championship.

Coach Bob Motzko confirmed that winger William Lockwood won't suit up again this tournament as he's sidelined with an upper-body injury.

Lockwood sustained the injury in Friday's shootout win over Team Canada. He has two penalty minutes and a minus-1 rating through three round-robin games.

The Vancouver Canucks selected Lockwood with the 64th pick in 2016. He's tallied 11 points in 16 games with the University of Michigan this season.

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5 bold NHL predictions for 2018

The end of the calendar year offers hockey fans some time to reflect on the year that was. But it also offers us a chance to look ahead at what's to come for the next 365 days of puck.

With that in mind, we thought it was the right time to be a little forward-thinking and bust out our crystal ball in an attempt to envision some of the biggest upcoming stories.

Here are five bold predictions for 2018. And please, be sure to @ us accordingly.

The 60-goal mark is hit for the first time since 2012

Entering Friday's schedule, 586 games have been played so far this season, with league scoring sitting at an average of 2.95 goals per contest - the highest mark since 2007.

We expect the goal barrage to continue, leading to the first 60-goal campaign since Tampa Bay Lightning stud Steven Stamkos netted 60 during the 2011-12 season.

The math isn't on our side for this one, as the league's leading goal-scorer, Nikita Kucherov, is on pace for only 53. Kuch has just one goal in his last five games, but we fully expect him to regain his early-season form, back when he was converting at almost a goal-per-game clip.

And with the likes of pure snipers John Tavares, Alex Ovechkin, and Brock Boeser not far behind, the 60-goal mark is most definitely attainable.

Americans win back-to-back Calder Trophies

There haven't been consecutive American Calder winners since Chris Drury and Scott Gomez did it back in 1999 and 2000, respectively. But that all changes with Boeser, who is rapidly proving to be the real deal.

Now, this prediction may not be as bold as the others, given the amount of young Americans who are setting the league on fire, but the feat is still impressive. Take a look at the U.S.-born players who are currently in the top 10 in rookie scoring.

Player (Team) Place Points Home state
Brock Boeser (Canucks) 1st 38 Minnesota
Clayton Keller (Coyotes) 3rd 31 Missouri
Alex DeBrincat (Blackhawks) 5th 25 Michigan
Kyle Connor (Jets) T-10th 23 Michigan
Will Butcher (Devils) T-10th 23 Wisconsin

With that level of quality already in the NHL, and the USA Hockey National Team Development Program churning out high-end talent on the regular, the Calder might be calling America home for the foreseeable future.

NHL witnesses a changing of the guard

As the league continues its trend toward being "a young man's game," we are set to lose some of the favorite faces of our beloved sport.

Daniel and Henrik Sedin (37), Joe Thornton (38), Roberto Luongo (38), Zdeno Chara (40), and Jaromir Jagr (45) all plan to hang up their skates in 2018 after leaving indelible marks on the last two decades of hockey.

But as these legends exit due to mounting injuries and expiring contracts in the ruthlessly unfair fight against Father Time, a new batch of stars is set to carry the torch for the next generation.

Rasmus Dahlin struggles in his first North American season

This is perhaps the boldest prediction on the list, as Dahlin has looked to be the complete package. The 17-year-old Swede is currently enjoying another solid season (five goals and six assists in 26 games) for Frolunda of the SHL, a respectable pro league filled with quality players.

But it's not the NHL.

The smooth-skating blue-liner undoubtedly possesses the type of talent and size - 6-foot-2, 180-plus pounds - to compete in North America, but he will struggle to adapt to the smaller rinks and more aggressive style of NHL hockey.

And it's worth mentioning that if he ends being drafted by the Arizona Coyotes, Buffalo Sabres, or Ottawa Senators, the three teams currently in line to receive the No. 1 overall pick, his struggles could be precipitated by having to anchor one of the worst blue lines in the game.

Dahlin falls short of the initial hype - book it.

A Canadian club wins the Stanley Cup

Hands in the air if you picked the Winnipeg Jets and Toronto Maple Leafs over the Edmonton Oilers as the top Canadian team this year? We'll wait.

Despite the Oilers finally starting to figure it out (6-3-1 in their last 10), the Jets and Leafs are Canada's best shot at a Cup. The last time Lord Stanley's chalice was hoisted by a team from north of the border was in 1993 when the Montreal Canadiens defeated the Los Angeles Kings in five games.

Aside from both the Leafs' and Jets' strong positioning in the standings, each club also boasts talented lineups loaded with the kind of offensive talent needed to make a deep playoff run - Toronto and Winnipeg sit third (130) and fourth (128) in total goals scored, respectively.

It may be a long shot, but it's not out the question: The Cup resides in the north for 2018.

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)

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Canada wins 3rd-straight Spengler Cup

Team Canada has pulled off the three-peat.

The Great White North won its third consecutive title at the Spengler Cup Sunday, defeating Team Switzerland 3-0 in the final round.

Zach Boychuk, Maxim Noreau, and David McIntyre provided the offense for Canada, while netminder Kevin Poulin turned aside 36 shots for the shutout.

A typically under-the-radar tournament, this year's entry was used as a tool to help Canada construct its lineup for the upcoming Winter Olympics.

With NHL players not participating in Pyeongchang, Team Canada will be made up of minor-league pros and those toiling in Europe, many of whom competed on this year's Spengler Cup squad.

One player who made an impression was Noreau, who led Team Canada in scoring, as he picked up a goal and four assists through four games, including two points Sunday. The former member of the Minnesota Wild currently plays for SC Bern of the Swiss National League.

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Canadiens’ offense hits rock bottom with shutout loss to Panthers

The Canadiens' offense hit a new low on Saturday, as Montreal was shut out by the Florida Panthers, who, coming into this contest, allowed the fifth-most goals per game in the NHL.

The Habs are now losers of four straight games, scoring only three goals in that span. They are averaging just 2.54 goals per game - the third-worst in the league.

Although Montreal's offense as a whole is sputtering this season, the lack of production from captain Max Pacioretty (eight goals) and Jonathan Drouin (five goals) headline the list of underachievers.

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