December 19 — From Stroke to Score & the Peppy Pacific

Yesterday’s NHL Scores

Last Night’s News 📰

JETS GROUNDED: Winnipeg will be down two key contributors for the next month after the Jets announced that Blake Wheeler (lower body) will miss the next four weeks and Nate Schmidt (upper body) is out for four to six weeks.

WATSON FINED: Ottawa Senators forward Austin Watson has been fined $4,054.05 for interference against Detroit Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin. Watson did not receive a penalty during the incident, which occurred in the first period of the Senators’ 6-3 victory on Saturday. 

GOALIE GOAL: François Brassard, a Boston Bruins prospect with the ECHL’s Maine Mariners, scored on Sunday afternoon. Brassard, a 28-year-old goaltender from Gatineau, Québec, fired a loose puck the length of the ice for the first goalie goal in Mariners’ history. 

KANE + TOEWS = 1,000: Chicago Blackhawks fans didn’t have much to celebrate when their team was trounced 7-1 by the New York Rangers in one of the five games across the NHL last night. However, they did have one small milestone to acknowledge. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane became the 11th set of teammates, and the second active (Drew Doughty and Anze Kopitar), to play in 1,000 games together

WRIGHT MAN FOR CANADA: Ten days after announcing that the Seattle Kraken would be loaning Shane Wright for the World Junior Championship, Hockey Canada appointed the 18-year-old captain of the team. Joining Wright in a leadership role is defenseman Ethan Del Mastro (Blackhawks prospect) and forwards Nathan Gaucher (Anaheim Ducks), Dylan Guenther (Arizona Coyotes), and Logan Stankoven (Dallas Stars). 

HUGHES THE BOSS: On the other side of the border, New Jersey prospect Luke Hughes was named the United States captain for the WJC. Hughes was selected fourth overall by the Devils in the 2021 NHL Draft and has 18 points in 20 games as a sophomore at the University of Michigan. Colorado Avalanche defensive prospect Sean Behrens and forward Red Savage (Red Wings) will assist Hughes as alternates for Team USA. 

Letang’s Miraculous Comeback: A Timeline

From the Calder to the Vezina—and everything in between—the individual award races are wide open at this stage of the 2022-23 NHL season. There is, however, one trophy that appears all but sewn up: the Masterton. Is there anyone who has a chance at demonstrating more perseverance and dedication to hockey, as the award stipulates, than Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang?

Letang’s 2022 has already included a seventh-place finish in Norris Trophy voting, a new six-year contract with the Pens, and, most significantly, a quick return to the ice following a recent stroke. It’s been an emotional few weeks for Pittsburgh and its long-time franchise blueliner. To grasp this whole whirlwind, let’s look at a timeline of Letang’s recent roller coaster health scare and subsequent comeback.

Nov. 28: Letang suffers a stroke. He said he typically has bi-monthly migraines but knew something was wrong when it happened every three hours.

Nov. 30: Pittsburgh announces Letang’s diagnosis. It is his second stroke, after having his first in Feb. 2014 at the age of 26.

Dec. 1: According to head coach Mike Sullivan, Letang goes “for a twirl” on the ice by himself at the Pens’ practice facility. Sullivan quickly noted Letang decided to hit the ice on his own and engaged in no hockey activities.

Dec. 8: One week later, Letang gets a little more involved in on-ice activities, joining surprised teammates at practice.

Dec. 10: Letang is back in the Penguins’ lineup ahead of their 3-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres. Just 12 days after suffering the stroke, the 35-year-old earns a team-high 22:14 of ice time following an absence of just five games.

Dec. 15: To cap off his storybook comeback, Letang scores and adds an assist in a 4-2 win over the Florida Panthers, helping extend Pittsburgh’s win streak to seven games.

Merry Moments: Pacific Division

Because it is Christmas time, we thought we would look back on some happy, “merry” moments on and off the ice that every NHL team has experienced in December thus far. Up next is the Pacific Division.

Vegas Golden Knights

On Dec. 7, the Vegas Golden Knights announced that defenseman Alex Pietrangelo would be out indefinitely due to an illness in the family. He returned on Dec. 17 against the New York Islanders, explaining that his 4-year-old daughter Evelyn got the flu over Thanksgiving and developed encephalitis to the point where she lost all motor skills like eating, walking, and talking. He stated that she couldn’t even open her eyes for five days and had to use a feeding tube. However, she is now home from the hospital, can walk again, and is expected to recover. What a Christmas gift for the Pietrangelo family! 

Los Angeles Kings

Christmas came early for LA Kings forward and hometown kid Trevor Moore as he received a five-year, $42 million contract extension on Dec. 15. Moore is a big part of the team’s top-six and their turnaround. He broke out last year with 48 points in 81 games and has recorded 18 points in 34 games this season. 

Seattle Kraken

There was a lot of controversy surrounding the Kraken’s usage of fourth-overall pick Shane Wright. He was a healthy scratch, his ice time was limited, and he got sent down to the AHL’s Coachella Valley Firebirds on a conditioning stint. He then got recalled on Dec. 6 and promptly scored his first NHL goal against the Montreal Canadiens. Wright is now being loaned to Team Canada to captain the World Juniors, but that first goal excited Kraken fans for the future. 

Edmonton Oilers

Going 4-4-1, the Edmonton Oilers have struggled in December. However, a good moment for the team came on Dec. 6 when the players and staff spent the night with Hope Mission for a family Christmas dinner, where they all served food and had some fun with the kids decorating cookies. Hope Mission helps people across Alberta who are experiencing poverty. 

San Jose Sharks

Erik Karlsson isn’t the only one with an impressive performance for the San Jose Sharks (39 in 32 games). Forward Nick Bonino has been a run of his own as he was on a four-game goal streak that started on Dec. 4. Unfortunately, that streak ended on Dec. 17 against the Kings, with the Sharks going 2-1-1 during that stretch. 

Anaheim Ducks

Anaheim’s victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Dec. 15 was only the Ducks’ second regulation win. Since then, the Ducks have made it two regulation wins in a row, defeating the Oilers in the next game. Could Tuesday be three? 

Calgary Flames

On Dec. 16, the Calgary Flames hosted a toy drive with a twist. Fans had the opportunity to drop off toys or grocery store gift cards and receive autographs from some Flames alumni, including Lanny McDonald, Curtis Glencross, and Mason Raymond. In partnership with the Calgary Police Youth Foundation, the Flames held the event to help families in need. 

Vancouver Canucks

J.T. Miller may have struggled to start the year, as he opened the season on the ice for all eight goals against in Vancouver’s two losses. But now, he is third-best on the Canucks with 27 points in 30 games and reached a career milestone, hitting 300 assists on Dec. 6 against the Canadiens. He now has 301 assists in 667 games. 

Player Spotlight: Holiday Edition

Merry Christmas and happy holidays! For this special edition of Player Spotlight, we reflect on the merriest time of the year by breaking down NHL players’ favorite Christmas songs and gifts.

Favorite Non-Hockey Christmas Gift?

Favorite Christmas Song?

Favorite Hockey Gift You Ever Received?

NHL Standings

NHL’s Leading Scorers

Today’s NHL Schedule