December 23 — Holiday Wish Lists & Contriving Christmas Contests

Yesterday’s NHL Scores

Last Night’s News 📰

OVIE THE PASSER: Still sitting one goal shy of catching Gordie Howe for second on the all-time goals list, Alex Ovechkin was held scoreless for the fourth straight game on Thursday night. However, the Russian sniper made his presence known with two assists in a 3-2 overtime victory for the Washington Capitals over the Ottawa Senators.

CHINAKHOV TO IR: After struggling with injuries all season, the Columbus Blue Jackets received another blow after placing Yegor Chinakhov on the injured reserve. Chinakhov suffered a high ankle sprain on Dec. 19, with a timetable to return in February. He posted 13 points in 30 games this season and is now the eighth player on IR in Columbus. 

10TH TO HIT 20: Last night, the Boston Bruins rallied to defeat the Winnipeg Jets 3-2, becoming the 10th team in NHL history to get at least a point in each of its first 20 home games. Boston (18-0-2 at home) tied the game on Jake DeBrusk’s 200th NHL point, while Josh Morrissey had an assist to extend his streak to 11 games for the Jets. 

ANOTHER WEATHER POSTPONEMENT: After rescheduling Friday’s Tampa Bay Lightning at Buffalo Sabres game due to inclement weather on the radar, the NHL decided to postpone another. Yesterday, the league announced that the Detroit Red Wings at Ottawa Senators game would be played on Feb. 27, setting up a rare back-to-back night against the two teams in Ottawa. 

Friday Favorites

Let’s look back at our favorite moments of the week.

It’s the Holiday Season

Minnesota Wild players showed off their holiday spirit on Dec. 18 ahead of a matchup against the Ottawa Senators. Ryan Reaves took the ice for warmups donning a Santa hat and matching white beard, while Kirill Kaprizov debuted an elf hat as he waved to fans lined up along the glass. The Wild earned the victory over their opponent by a final score of 4-2. 

An Interview to Remember

Ryan Getzlaf’s son Ryder was the Anaheim Ducks junior team reporter for a day, and the kid proved to have a career in sports journalism. Decked out in a blue suit and matching tie, he asked multiple questions, from dating to whether players used to get in trouble at school. Fans learned that Troy Terry has a talent for numbers, while Kevin Shattenkirk earned detention for throwing Skittles at another kid’s head. Not much is going right for the Ducks, so it may be in their best interest to keep Ryder on board to provide moments like this. 

Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree

Seattle Kraken teammates and housemates Matty Beniers and Will Borgen went on a quest to find the perfect Christmas tree. The duo traveled to Trinity Tree Farm and eventually found a slightly lopsided tree. Unfortunately for Borgen, he was stuck carrying the tree after losing a game of rock-paper-scissors. All is well that ends well, though, as the two decorated the tree with lights, ornaments, and candy canes! 

Gritty with the ‘Rizz’

After watching the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders perform a kickline with no “rizz,” the Philadelphia Flyers mascot took to TikTok to show them how a professional performs. Gritty, complete with dancers, skaters, and in a full Santa suit, impressively executed the dance during intermission at a Flyers game earlier this week. As they say, “everything is better with ‘rizz!'” 

A Dream Christmas Day NHL Lineup

Sunday marks Christmas Day, and as sure as Santa will make his way down the chimney, sports fans know that a loaded slate of NBA basketball awaits (with some NFL football thrown in for good measure this year). While the NBA gets to showcase its best teams and the NFL delivers an afternoon of pigskin, the NHL gets left out on the big day. It wasn’t always this way. Up until the 1970s, hockey on December 25 was an annual tradition!

So players, coaches, and their families probably don’t mind having Christmas off. But for a sport always seeking new eyes for its exciting product, having a TV presence would offer a significant opportunity. How cool would it be to see some marquee match-ups while waiting on the turkey? In place of Christmas Day hockey, here’s a hypothetical lineup of juicy games we could potentially witness.

Colorado Avalanche vs. Edmonton Oilers

Superstars, anyone? Connor McDavid. Nathan Mackinnon. Leon Draisaitl. Cale Makar. You’ve got the league’s best player against the defending Stanley Cup champions. If you want to show your hockey-ignorant buddy what the sport is all about, could you think of a better head-to-head battle to showcase why this game is great?

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

There’s no shortage of star power here either, but we included this one for the juiciness of a rematch from arguably the best playoff series of the 2022 Postseason. The Toronto Maple Leafs got a measure of revenge on their Atlantic Division rivals on Tuesday night in a closer-than-it-looked 4-1 home victory, but even that showdown had its share of chippy-ness. Watching these stacked teams inspired to battle in a showcase game would be something.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals

Okay, so Sidney Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin might be a little played out. However, there’s something to be said for two generational talents who entered the league together and still sit only four points apart in their careers. Every goal Ovechkin scores will have significant implications, so any opportunity to watch the Capitals legend do his thing makes for a memorable spectacle.

Vegas Golden Knights vs. Seattle Kraken

Let’s hear it for the new(ish) guys! The Vegas Golden Knights and Seattle Kraken have a connection as expansion cousins, four years removed. And what do you know, both of these teams are pretty good! After a 2021-22 season to forget for each club (although Seattle probably wants to remember parts of the franchise’s first campaign), both stand among the league’s best stories to this point in 2022-23.

Boston Bruins vs. New Jersey Devils

Alright, so a matchup between the Boston Bruins and New Jersey Devils probably wouldn’t have looked all that sexy before the year got underway, which is when schedule makers did their thing. But since we’re already positing a hypothetical scenario by building an NHL Christmas Day lineup, why not pretend we can do so with current knowledge? With that said, a battle between two of the beasts of the East thus far would be compelling TV.

Holiday Wishes

Because this is our final segment before Christmas, we thought we would check in on some players and teams to predict their holiday wishes.

For Players

Dylan Strome – To Beat His Brother

The Strome brothers share an amusing form of sibling rivalry. Washington Capitals forward Dylan Strome mentioned last season that he has never been able to beat his brother at the NHL level, even though they have been on seven different teams combined. Dylan is 0-6 against Ryan and said it is frustrating that he continues to get beaten by him. No doubt he is asking Santa for a win against his brother when the Caps face the Anaheim Ducks on Feb. 23 and March 1. 

Justin Braun & Rasmus Ristolainen – Record a Point

Justin Braun and Rasmus Ristolainen share an uncomfortable stat for the Philadelphia Flyers, as both defensemen have yet to record a point this season. Braun has played in 32 games while averaging 16:19 of ice time, and Ristolainen has appeared in 26 games while playing 18:28 a night with nothing to show. No doubt they are asking Santa for some help with their production. 

Alex Ovechkin – Tie Gordie Howe’s Record

Every hockey fan is on pins and needles waiting for Alex Ovechkin to score his 801st NHL goal, which would tie Gordie Howe’s record for second all-time. Ever since he scored a hat trick against the Chicago Blackhawks to net his 800th goal on Dec. 13, he has recorded assists only in his last four games. Although he could tally that marker against the Winnipeg Jets on Dec. 23 before Christmas, Ovi is likely asking Santa for a boost to reach the historic milestone. 

For Teams

Chicago Blackhawks – To Win a Game

December has not been kind to the Blackhawks. Their last win was on Dec. 3 against the New York Rangers, and they are currently on an eight-game losing streak, which is the longest active losing streak. It is also Chicago’s second eight-game losing streak of the season, and captain Jonathan Toews said everything is snowballing in the wrong direction, so we all know the team is likely asking Santa for two points! 

Detroit Red Wings – To Reach the Wild Card

Eastern Conference teams are in a tight race for a playoff spot, and the Detroit Red Wings are fighting for the final Wild Card spot. They got off to a hot start and were in a playoff spot in early December, but then went on a six-game losing streak, while teams like the Capitals went on a five-game winning streak and the New York Islanders continued to collect points. Detroit sits five points out of the final Wild Card spot, and with an impressive win against the Tampa Bay Lightning to snap their losing streak on Dec. 21, the Wings are hoping to go on a run and prove people wrong by sneaking into the playoffs. 

Calgary Flames – For Huberdeau & Sutter to Get on the Same Page

When the Calgary Flames traded for Jonathan Huberdeau from the Florida Panthers in the offseason, it seemed like a slam-dunk move that was sure to work. However, Huberdeau hasn’t produced like he did last season (115 points in 80 games), which likely has to do with not seeing eye-to-eye with head coach Darryl Sutter. He is struggling to find a rhythm in Sutter’s defensive scheme system (22 points in 30 games), and don’t forget it was only in November that Sutter called out Huberdeau, saying he needs to improve on “being a good player consistently.” If the Flames want long-term success, their star player and coach have to get on the same page, and maybe a little Christmas magic with Santa can help with that! 

NHL Standings

NHL’s Leading Scorers

Today’s NHL Schedule