December 20 — Going Games Without Goals & the Airy Atlantic

Yesterday’s NHL Scores

Last Night’s News 📰

BEATING THE FREEZE: Several clubs were busy making moves on Monday ahead of the NHL’s roster freeze, which began at midnight and will last through Dec. 28. Toronto traded Denis Malgin to the Colorado Avalanche for Dryden Hunt in a swap of depth forwards. Meanwhile, Nikita Soshnikov of the New York Islanders and Colorado’s Daniil Zhuravlyov cleared unconditional waivers before having their contracts terminated.

THREE-TEAM TRADE: Speaking of transactions, the Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, and Anaheim Ducks exchanged players in a three-team trade on Monday. Detroit sent forward Givani Smith to the Panthers for defenseman Michael Del Zotto and then promptly moved Del Zotto to Anaheim for center Danny O’Regan. 

SKINNER REMAINS IN OIL TOWN: On Monday, the Edmonton Oilers announced they signed goaltender Stuart Skinner to a three-year, $7.8 million extension. Skinner, 24, is thriving to start the season, posting a 9-8-1 record with a 2.83 GAA and a .915 SV% in 19 games.

CAM IN A JAM: Cam Atkinson will undergo neck surgery on Wednesday, bringing his season to an end. Initially considered week-to-week after sustaining an upper-body injury on Sep. 25, the 33-year-old forward traveled with the Philadelphia Flyers on their recent four-game road trip but ultimately didn’t feel strong enough to return to game action.

SUSPENSION FOR HERTL: Yesterday, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced San Jose Sharks forward Tomáš Hertl will be suspended for two games for his high-stick on Calgary Flames Elias Lindholm Sunday night. Hertl was penalized on the play, which occurred during the opening faceoff of the third period, and will forfeit $87,972.98 of his salary to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund. 

Trivia Tuesday

How Well Do You Know Clayton Keller?

Clayton Keller, Arizona Coyotes (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)
  1. Clayton Keller made his NHL debut against which team during the 2016-17 season?
    • Dallas Stars
    • St. Louis Blues
    • Nashville Predators
    • Chicago Blackhawks
  2. Which university did Keller play for before joining the Arizona Coyotes?
    • Boston University
    • Harvard University
    • Boston College
    • Quinnipiac University
  3. Keller scored his first career hat trick against which Eastern Conference team?
    • New Jersey Devils
    • Florida Panthers
    • Carolina Hurricanes
    • Philadelphia Flyers

Answers can be found at the bottom of the email.

It’s About Time!

It must have felt pretty good for Calgary Flames forward Milan Lucic to finally light the lamp again on Sunday night against the San Jose Sharks after going 50 games without scoring a goal. While the 34-year-old probably felt like an eternity had passed since he last bulged the twine on March 16, Lucic should take some comfort in knowing that he’s hardly alone in enduring a long stretch between goals. Some players make his 50-game drought look downright short.

To highlight perseverance and determination while also making Lucic feel a little better about what he just went through, here are a few players who really had to be patient while pursuing their next goal.

Tobias Rieder – 75 Games

If we played alongside Leon Draisaitl, we’d probably have a couple of goals by now this season, eh? Sadly, the “anyone can succeed with Draisaitl” theory was turned on its head thanks to Tobias Rieder, who endured a goalless 2018-19 season despite predominantly playing alongside the German superstar. Front office frustrations surrounding the 26-year-old got so bad that Edmonton Oilers CEO Bob Nicholson plainly stated, “Toby Rieder will not be signed by the Edmonton Oilers at the end of this year” at a March season ticket-holder’s event.

Ken Daneyko – 256 Games

Ken Daneyko of the New Jersey Devils (Al Bello/Getty Images)

While you might expect these struggling players to earn the enmity of those around them (as Rieder did), you won’t find anyone in New Jersey with a bad thing to say about beloved stay-at-home blueliner Ken Daneyko. The three-time Stanley Cup champion was never much of a goal scorer (36 goals in 1,283 career games), but failing to put one past any goalie from Feb. 9, 1999, through Oct. 25, 2002, was pretty wild, even for him.

Victor Mete – 127 Games

Six seasons, 247 career games, and five career goals, Victor Mete—now with the Toronto Maple Leafs—is on his third team in four seasons. Suffice it to say those NHL clubs are not employing the 24-year-old for his goal-scoring acumen. How has Mete gotten to a point where he’s only averaging a goal about every 50 games? Failing to score until game 127 of his NHL career is a good (or bad?) start.

Scott Gomez – 59 Games

Scott Gomez, Montreal Canadiens (Icon SMI)

Compared to Rieder’s 75, Mete’s 127, and especially Daneyko’s 256, Scott Gomez’s 59 games don’t look that bad. Unfortunately, the Anchorage, Alaska, native’s lean scoring period came amidst his whopping seven-year, $51 million contract, meaning he was collecting $7.35 million to undergo a goalless drought of more than 365 days.

Merry Moments: Atlantic 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 Atlantic Division.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Forward Mitch Marner was on a historic point run as he made Toronto Maple Leafs history with a 23-game streak. Beating the previous record of 18, Marner started on Oct. 27 and went well into December. Unfortunately, it ended on Dec. 15 against the New York Rangers, but his performance provided a magical journey, and he will likely start another soon. 

Buffalo Sabres

For the second straight week, Buffalo Sabres forward Tage Thompson was named one of the NHL’s “Three Stars of the Week” with eight points (four goals, four assists) in his last three games. He is now second-best in the league in goals (26 in 32 games) and third-best in points with 50. Thompson is leading the way for the Sabres’ successful December, as they have gone 6-2-1. 

Boston Bruins

One historical moment for the Boston Bruins in December came from captain Patrice Bergeron’s 1,000th career point. Besides getting a celebratory ceremony from the team, he also got a visit from Governor Charlie Baker, who proclaimed Dec. 17, 2022, “Patrice Bergeron Day” in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. A phenomenal gesture for a player who has meant so much to the city over the last 19 years. 

Detroit Red Wings

Jakub Vrána entered the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program back in October, which is a program that helps players struggling with substance abuse, mental health, or other issues. Listed as being out indefinitely, Vrána rejoined the team on Dec. 16. The Red Wings explained they want to be patient regarding when he will suit up for his next game, but he is doing well, stating, “I feel awesome, and I’m so happy to be back and see the guys. It’s really positive. Just happy to be back here.” We love to hear this optimistic news! 

Ottawa Senators

On Dec. 13, the Ottawa Senators hosted their 17th annual Skate for Kids event, a program that provides hockey gear to underprivileged youth in the Ottawa area. A tradition started by late owner Eugene Melnyk, his two daughters now host the event. Sens players, including Brady Tkachuk, Jake Sanderson, and Thomas Chabot, showed up to have some fun on the ice with the kids, and it looked like a great day for everyone involved.

Florida Panthers

Aaron Ekblad, Aleksander Barkov, and Ryan Lomberg had quite an eventful day last week. While visiting the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital and West Palm Beach VA Healthcare System on Dec. 14, the Florida Panthers players shared Christmas cheer by playing air hockey, checking in on patients, and spending time with military veterans. 

Montreal Canadiens

No holiday tradition is like the Habs, as the Montreal Canadiens participated in the 56th annual Montreal Children’s Hospital, CHU Sainte-Justine’s Hospital, and Shriner’s Hospital for Children holiday visits. Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield, Kirby Dach, Brendan Gallagher, and more helped spread many Christmas smiles!

Tampa Bay Lightning

There is no stopping the Bolts during their red-hot December. Tampa is currently on a five-game winning streak, and while Nikita Kucherov and Andrei Vasilevskiy have shined recently, it’s forward Brandon Hagel who is leading the way. Hagel has nine points (five goals, four assists) during the Lightning’s impressive run. Bagels for everyone for Christmas! 

Trivia Answers

  1. St. Louis Blues
  2. Boston University
  3. Philadelphia Flyers

NHL Standings

NHL’s Leading Scorers

Today’s NHL Schedule