"We've got to do a good job in front of (McElhinney) as a group of five," Richards said. "He's going to have to make saves when we need him to make saves, but the five guys in front have to help him out. It means we have to be disciplined, not take penalties."
Defenseman Steven Santini was the final player released from the United States National Junior Team on Thursday.
Santini, a New Jersey Devils prospect in his second season at Boston College, has not played in a game since Oct. 25 when he sustained a wrist injury. He had a cast removed from the wrist Monday but did not play in any of the United States' three exhibition games.
"We wanted to see where Steve was after he had the cast removed and it's clear he needs more time before he's ready to play," U.S. general manager Jim Johannson said.
Sweden defenseman Oliver Kylington, one of the top European prospects for the 2015 NHL Draft, will not play at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship, according to Canadian Press.
Canadian Press reported Tuesday that a Sweden team official said Kylington has an unspecified injury. The 17-year-old played Sunday in Sweden's 5-2 loss to Canada in a pre-tournament game in Ottawa but did not play Tuesday in a 10-5 loss to the United States.
The 6-foot, 180-pound defender, who earned an A rating from NHL Central Scouting on its players to watch list, has two goals and five points in 17 games with Farjestad in the Swedish Hockey League.
Forwards Jeremy Bracco and Cole Cassels were released from the United States National Junior team on Tuesday.
Bracco, who is a B-rated skater on NHL Central Scouting's players to watch list for the 2015 NHL Draft, played Tuesday in an exhibition victory against Sweden, 10-5. Cassels, a third-round pick (No. 85) of the Vancouver Canucks in the 2013 NHL Draft, was a healthy scratch.
A Vezina Trophy finalist last season, Varlamov has missed 17 of the Avalanche's first 33 games because of groin injuries, including the past six. He hasn't played since leaving in the third period of a Dec. 5 game against the Winnipeg Jets.
"He was very excited to play," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "He looked very sharp in the practice this morning and in the other practices and worked hard with [goalie coach] Francois [Allaire]. It's a good situation for us. Calvin's played really well and we hope that [Varlamov] will be sharp tonight."
Boston University freshman Jack Eichel was named captain of the United States National Junior Team that will compete in Montreal and Toronto at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship, according to USA Hockey.
Considered a top-two pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, Eichel scored a shorthanded goal and had four shots on goal to help lead the U.S. to a 5-2 win against Boston University in a Dec. 19 exhibition game. The 6-foot-1 center hit the Christmas break as the NCAA leader with 27 points (eight goals, 19 assists) and a 1.69 points-per-game average in 16 games. He had one goal and four assists in five games for the fifth-place U.S. team in last year's tournament.
NHL Live with Bill Pidto and E.J. Hradek, at 5 p.m. ET on NHL Network, welcomes Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar at 5:30 p.m. The NHL's First Star for the week ending Dec. 21 has 10 points in his past four games with six coming on the power play.
Yeah, it was a pretty special moment for me. Today was my Dad's [55th] birthday. I have a lot of family in town, so it was a special moment for me to score my first one today. A win definitely would have capped it off, but you can't have everything.
— Sabres rookie Jack Eichel after scoring a goal in his National Hockey League debut
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