December 21 — Winter Is Here, Holiday Habits & the Merry Metro

Yesterday’s NHL Scores

Last Night’s News 📰

HAMBURGLAR HANGS ‘EM UP: Goaltender Andrew Hammond announced his retirement from professional hockey on Monday following a brief stint in the KHL this season. The six-year journeyman is best known for his NHL debut in Ottawa, when he went 20-1-2 for the Senators with a .941 save percentage and 1.79 goals against average, earning his “Hamburglar” nickname.

KUNIN OUT FOR SEASON: After sustaining a torn ACL on Dec. 13, the San Jose Sharks announced that forward Luke Kunin will miss the rest of the season. Kunin is currently seventh on the team in scoring with 13 points in 31 games, and his recovery timeline is 6-8 months.

UGLY CHRISTMAS… SKATES?: Taking the ugly sweater game to the next level, Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews rocked custom Christmas-themed skates against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday. Matthews, who arrived at the rink in an ugly sweater, partnered with Ryan Reynolds and the SickKids Foundation to raise money for The Hospital of Sick Children in Toronto. 

Who Said It

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1) “They told me to have a speech, and I’m not really a guy who talks in front of a locker room. I said, ‘Good job, guys’ and that was it. Sometimes it’s harder than playing hockey, to talk in front of people.”

A. Rasmus Dahlin
B. Lukáš Dostál
C. Kaapo Kakko

2) “We’re playing, finding ways to win hockey games. We’re just playing as a group, and it’s four lines and six [defensemen] on the goals. Everyone’s playing good, solid hockey. You get on a little roll and things happen good. We weren’t getting much puck luck the first part of the season, now we’re getting a lot more of it.”

A. Gerard Gallant
B. Dean Evason
C. Jon Cooper

3) “You want to contribute. Even if your role changes, you still play the right way and play your role, but you still want to chip in when you can. Right now, it was a great play by [my teammate] to find me there in the high slot. Just gained some confidence after that.”

A. Patrick Brown
B. Erik Haula
C. Milan Lucic

Answers can be found at the bottom of the email

Home (Game) For the Holidays

The holiday season is upon us, including at your local NHL arena. If you’ve been to a game in recent weeks, you’ve likely seen some well-hydrated fans donning Santa suits, hats, or beards, not to mention plenty of ugly Christmas sweaters. NHL teams love getting into the spirit, including their game operations departments, making sure that there’s plenty of festive cheer between periods and after the whistles.

If you’re lucky enough to be getting out to a live game this holiday season, here is some of the holiday-themed entertainment you can expect.

Holiday Parties

Holidays mean party time, and what better place to celebrate than with tens of thousands of your friends (or 5,000 for the Mullett Arena faithful out there) at a hockey game? While festive themes will carry out across the league, some clubs dive into it. The New Jersey Devils will host a “Holiday Game” on Friday night, the Arizona Coyotes just had their “Happy HOWLidays” night on Monday, and the Pittsburgh Penguins will hold an “Ugly Sweater Night” on Thursday.

Themed Giveaways

‘Tis the season for giving, and several teams will have goodies awaiting their fans at upcoming games. Arizona and the Minnesota Wild already handed out Christmas ornaments, while the Detroit Red Wings served up ugly sweater t-shirts earlier in the month. However, the Anaheim Ducks win for creativity, giving away a “Nutquacker” figurine on Friday bearing the likeness of their mascot, Wild Wing.

Cool Annual Traditions

Leave it to the Original Six organizations to serve consistent, annual holiday traditions for fans. Once the dust settles on all the Christmas chaos, the Red Wings will bring back their annual New Year’s Eve celebration, which dates all the way back to 1927. Meanwhile, the Toronto Maple Leafs use the holiday lead-up for their daytime “Next Gen” game on Thursday afternoon, celebrating a new generation of hockey fans with kid-friendly fun.

Merry Moments: Metropolitan Division

Editor’s Note: Yesterday, we accidentally left the Boston Bruins out of the Atlantic Divison’s Merry Moments. While Boston has just about everything to be giddy about this season (first team to hit 25 wins or 50 points), this December was all about 19-year veteran Patrice Bergeron. Bergeron recorded his 1,000th career point, leading to Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker proclaiming Dec. 17, 2022, as “Patrice Bergeron Day.”

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. Last up is the Metropolitan Division.

New York Islanders

On Dec. 17, the New York Islanders’ 2019 first-round pick, Simon Holmström, made his NHL debut, scoring his first NHL goal against the Vegas Golden Knights. Regarding his play of late, Holmström’s teammates and coaches praise his responsibility, skill, and adaptability to the team. Holmström also said he is growing more confident by the day, which will surely help the Islanders in a tight playoff race in the Eastern Conference. 

New York Rangers

Captain Jacob Trouba has been having a rough season, and one of his biggest struggles has been finding the back of the net. His first goal of the season came after 32 games with an empty net goal against the Philadelphia Flyers on Dec. 17. He followed it up the next night with a goal against the Chicago Blackhawks. Getting that monkey off his back prompted a collective sigh of relief from Trouba and the Rangers’ faithful. 

Pittsburgh Penguins

Franchise history for the Pittsburgh Penguins was made on Dec. 12 when players wore rainbow crests on their jerseys in support of the LGTBQ+ community during warmups before facing the Dallas Stars. Pittsburgh auctioned the jerseys following the game, with proceeds going to the You Can Play Project—which supports safety and inclusion in sports—and the Hugh Lane Wellness Foundation. 

Philadelphia Flyers

Regarding the Philadelphia Flyers, while they only have three wins out of 10 games in December, their merry moments are happening in the community. Philly posted that it granted $85,000 to Playworks, a nonprofit helping “kids stay active and build valuable social and emotional skills through play” by building hockey programs in area schools. 

Washington Capitals

One of the hottest teams in the league in December, the Washington Capitals have won seven of their last eight games. However, the one moment that has everyone talking is Alex Ovechkin reaching his 800th goal on Dec. 13. We are still waiting for him to break Gordie Howe’s 801 mark, but the chase led to Ovechkin meeting with Gordie’s sons, Marty and Mark when the Caps faced the Detroit Red Wings on Dec. 19. 

Carolina Hurricanes

No one can stop talking about the run Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov has been on recently, as he has broken all sorts of records. Kochetkov is the first Canes goalie with back-to-back shutouts since 2003 and is the first goalie in franchise history to record two shutouts in his first 14 games. Tied for the league lead in shutouts with three this season, Kochetkov boasts a 6-0-1 record with a 1.73 goals-against average (GAA) and a .931 save percentage (SV%) in December. 

New Jersey Devils

December has been a milestone month for many New Jersey Devils players. Goaltender Vitek Vaněček hit 100 NHL games on Dec. 20, defenseman Dougie Hamilton hit 700 on Dec. 17, and defenseman Brendan Smith hit the 600-game mark on Dec. 15. It has been fun for fans to celebrate these feats as the team has hit a rough patch with a six-game losing streak. 

Columbus Blue Jackets

Injuries have been cruel to the Columbus Blue Jackets this season as they have nine players on the injured reserve, but a glimmer of good news is that defenseman Adam Boqvist is close to returning. After sustaining a broken foot in October, he returned to practice on Dec. 16. Whenever he suits up again will surely provide the team with a much-needed boost. 

Who Said It Answers

  1. Lukáš Dostál
  2. Gerard Gallant
  3. Milan Lucic

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