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NHL Today: Senators Name New Head Coach; Islanders Injury Updates

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AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth

Good morning, my name is Andrew Fantucchio. It’s Tuesday, December 19, and here’s what’s happening around the NHL today. 

Senators Fire Head Coach D.J. Smith; Name Jacques Martin Interim: 

The Ottawa Senators announced on Monday that they’ve relieved head coach D.J. Smith of his duties and placed Jacques Martin behind their bench as his replacement on an interim basis. 

Smith spent four and a half seasons as the head coach of the Senators, failing to reach the playoffs while the organization has endured a lengthy rebuild. 

With Ottawa beginning the year 11-15-0, good enough for dead last in the Eastern Conference, Smith was the fourth head coach in the NHL to be fired this season, and the fifth if you include Mike Babcock, who was let go by the Columbus Blue Jackets before the season even started. 

Martin steps in for Smith, already with a lengthy history in the Senators organization. 

He was the head coach in Ottawa for eight seasons from 1996 to 2004 and recently rejoined the team earlier this season. His first game back as a head coach will be tonight as the Senators visit the Arizona Coyotes. 

New York Islanders Injury & Practice Notes: 

New York Islanders fans everywhere can breathe a heavy sigh of relief as Bo Horvat was on the ice at practice yesterday.

Horvat avoided what would’ve been another costly injury for the Islanders after he appeared to be in pain from falling on his hand and wrist late in the third period on Saturday against the Montreal Canadiens. 

Two players noticeably missing from were Kyle Palmieri and Oliver Wahlstrom. 

According to Islanders head coach Lane Lambert, Wahlstrom was out with an illness while Palmieri was undergoing maintenance. Lambert expects Palmieri to be in the Islanders lineup tonight against the Edmonton Oilers. 

The Islanders can ill afford to lose any more players to injury, with three of their top defensemen already on injured reserve. 

Ryan Pulock and Scott Mayfield are yet to resume skating after being placed on IR in the last few weeks. Although Adam Pelech has put his skates back on, his return from long-term injured reserve doesn’t appear to be imminent. 

Bruins Loan Rookie Poitras To Team Canada:

The Boston Bruins rookie center, Matthew Poitras, will compete for Team Canada at the IIHF World Junior Championships in Sweden later this month. 

Poitras, 19, made his NHL debut when he made the Bruins roster out of training camp but has endured the growing pains one would expect from a young player. 

By allowing Poitras to play suit-up for Team Canada, the Bruins believe he will benefit from playing against the elite competition at the World Juniors. 

The 10-team tournament will begin on Dec. 26 and run through Jan. 5. 

Yesterday’s Scoreboard:

Ducks: 4, Red Wings: 3

Penguins: 4, Wild: 3

Canadiens: 3, Jets: 2 (OT)

Stars: 4, Kraken: 3 (OT)

Flames: 3, Jets: 1

Today’s Schedule

All Times EST

Edmonton Oilers vs. New York Islanders, 7:30 p.m.

Minnesota Wild vs. Boston Bruins, 7 p.m.

Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Buffalo Sabres, 7 p.m.

Vegas Golden Knights vs. Carolina Hurricanes, 7 p.m.

Philadelphia Flyers vs. New Jersey Devils, 7 p.m.

St. Louis Blues vs. Tampa Bay Lightning, 7 p.m.

New York Rangers vs. Toronto Maple Leafs, 7 p.m.

Vancouver Canucks vs. Nashville Predators, 8 p.m.

Colorado Avalanche vs. Chicago Blackhawks, 8:30 p.m.

Ottawa Senators vs. Arizona Coyotes, 9 p.m.

Los Angeles Kings vs. San Jose Sharks, 10:30 p.m. 

More From National Hockey Now: 

New Jersey: The New Jersey Devils are shopping for a goalie on the NHL trade market, but so are plenty of other teams. 

Philadelphia: The Philadelphia Flyers have surprised a lot of people and could shock them by trading for Johnny Gaudreau.

Pittsburgh: In could’ve quite possibly been his last game in Pittsburgh, future Hall of Famer Marc-Andre Fleury reflected on his time as a member of the Penguins. 

Detroit: There’s only way to describe the the play of the Detroit Red Wings of late: fragile. 

Chicago: The Chicago Blackhawks are using veteran experience to help develop their new young corps, making free agent Phil Kessel a potential fit.

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