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Editor’s Correction: Thank you to our diligent reader, Neal Rockowitz, MD, for pointing out that Shane Doan did score a hat trick late in his career. On Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, the long-time captain recorded his first three-goal game against the New York Islanders. We apologize for our error and thank our readers for keeping us honest!
Last Night’s News 📰
LADY BYNG WORTHY: Yesterday, it came out that Dylan Larkin is a man of the people. Last week against the New York Islanders, the Detroit Red Wings captain crashed into the boards during warmups, spilling the fan in the front row’s beer. Feeling bad about the incident, Larkin sent the locker room attendant over to pay the fan for his beer. If that doesn’t earn him the Lady Bing, we aren’t sure what will!
STARS SHINING BRIGHT: Connor McDavid and Alexander Ovechkin currently lead the All-Star fan voting with 30% and 29% of the total vote, respectively. The Edmonton Oilers and Washington Capitals forwards are the frontrunners for the captains of their respective divisions, as Auston Matthews (Toronto Maple Leafs, Atlantic) and Nathan MacKinnon (Colorado Avalanche, Central) round out the other two. Make sure to vote here!
EXTENDED BREAK: Following the Capitals at Philadelphia Flyers and Tampa Bay Lightning at Vegas Golden Knights games scheduled for this evening, the NHL will go into an extended holiday break to help curb the cases of COVID spreading throughout the league. Teams will be allowed to reopen facilities for testing and practices on Dec. 26, and games will resume on Monday, Dec. 27.
How well do you know Martin Brodeur?
- Brodeur played for the New Jersey Devils for 21 seasons. Before retiring from the NHL, he signed with St. Louis. How many games did he play for the Blues?
- Brodeur won the Vezina Trophy four times. When was the last season he won the award?
- Brodeur scored his first career goal against which team?
- New York Rangers
- Montreal Canadiens
- St. Louis Blues
- Pittsburgh Penguins
Answers can be found at the bottom of the email.
COVID’s Curveball – By the Numbers
Right now, following the NHL has little to do with who’s winning or losing, playing well or struggling. That’s because COVID has, once again, taken center stage. Until last night, trying to follow league goings-on had more to do with keeping track of who’s in and out of protocols, which teams have shut down, and what games are or aren’t happening.
Now, things are much clearer, as the league has temporarily paused operations for the holiday break. The hope is that the Omicron variant of the virus will slow its spread by putting a hold on gameplay for a few extra days. Still, the latest developments around the league have made it hard for fans to feel particularly jolly at the moment. So, how did we get here? Let’s dive into the numbers to see just how insane things have gotten as COVID sends the NHL reeling into the holidays!
11: Number of teams that had already shut down through the holiday break before Monday night’s announcement. Those teams—Montreal, Ottawa, Edmonton, Columbus, Calgary, Nashville, Detroit, Toronto, Boston, Colorado, and Florida—represent 34.4% of the league, obviously too significant a percentage for the NHL to ignore.
130+: Amount of NHL players and team personnel currently in COVID protocols (at last count, anyway).
44: Total games postponed due to COVID before the league-wide pause.
39: Games postponed in the past week alone, not counting the five canceled in the league shut down. Double-headers, anyone?
14: Number of games scheduled for Dec. 27, the first day back from the pause. A lot is riding on a quick return to action after Christmas.
Where We Stand – Metropolitan Division
Just like that, the pre-Christmas portion of the NHL schedule has come to a rather abrupt, unsatisfying end. The COVID pause comes in light of a growing list of players and team personnel sidelined due to league protocols.
Indirectly, though, it also means we have a pretty clear sense of where everyone stands heading into the holiday break. Over the rest of the week, we will check in on each division and see where they’re at with presents to unwrap and carols to sing. Today, we start with the hyper-competitive Metropolitan Division:
The Carolina Hurricanes are riding high with a bona fide leading scorer in Sebastian Aho and a Vezina candidate in free-agent signee Frederik Andersen. They also lead the league in points percentage (.741%) and goal differential (+33).
Meanwhile, Alex Ovechkin has the Washington Capitals cruising along during what has been the 36-year-old’s romp through the record books this season. Ovie topped 750 goals, rose to fourth all-time in league scoring, and has successfully turned back the clock with 22 goals and 47 points in 31 games.
Two of Ovechkin’s Russian compatriots are also leading the way on Broadway in the New York Rangers‘ hot start. Netminder Igor Shesterkin was stealing games for the Blueshirts before being sidelined with a groin injury, while Artemi Panarin continues to set the tone offensively.
The Middle Class
No one was more disappointed by the pause than the Pittsburgh Penguins, who have won seven in a row but now won’t get a chance to capitalize on that momentum.
You know who wasn’t disappointed, the Columbus Blue Jackets. They were already shut down and had only won two of their past 10 games.
The Philadelphia Flyers‘ disastrous start to the season cost Alain Vigneault his job and raised some serious questions about Carter Hart as the club’s goaltender of the future. Other than that, things are going great in the City of Brotherly Love.
It was always going to be a difficult challenge for the New Jersey Devils in a brutal division this season. However, seeing prized free-agent acquisition Dougie Hamilton with a minus-9 and former first-overall pick Jack Hughes struggling to stay on the ice isn’t what they had hoped for to date.
At least they don’t have it as bad as the New York Islanders. The Isles entered the season with Stanley Cup hopes and the buzz of opening their new UBS Arena home but somehow find themselves sporting the fourth-worst record in the entire league.