December 27 — Unfavorable Cities & Making the Turn

Last Night’s News 📰

SNOWED IN SABRES: Weather forced the NHL to postpone the Buffalo Sabres’ game in Columbus against the Blue Jackets set for tonight after Buffalo Niagara International Airport remains closed due to an ongoing severe winter storm. This postponement comes four days after heavy snowfall prevented the Tampa Bay Lightning from arriving in Buffalo for their game on Dec. 23.

CANADIAN CATASTROPHE: If you are to believe the pundits on social media, then Team Canada is doomed after losing its opening game 5-2 against Czechia. Canada had the early lead before the Czechs stormed back with two goals late in the first and another in the opening minute of the second. Connor Bedard scored to give the Canadians hope, but two goals in 33 seconds on the man advantage sealed the deal for the Czechian upset.

LETTING LATVIA LINGER: Team USA came out on the other side of its 5-2 contest, as the Americans defeated a formidable Latvian team. Although outshot 19-4 in the second period, Latvia found the back of the net twice to keep the game tied heading into the third period. However, the US pulled away with three goals in the final stanza, outshooting Latvia 46-17. 

SWEDISH FISH & SWISS MISS: Two tasty treats were enjoyed on Boxing Day as Sweden and Switzerland opened the 2023 World Junior Championship with victories. Switzerland stunned Finnland with an overtime upset 3-2, with the Swiss controlling the play from the opening faceoff. Meanwhile, Sweden won big against Austria in an 11-0 rout in which 17 players picked up a point. 

HOCKEY AS ENTERTAINMENT: Christmas and Boxing Day brought a special present for “Letterkenny” fans, as the Canadian show about a small town in Ontario returned for its 11th season on Hulu. Thanks to characters played by actors with hockey backgrounds—including NHL coach Jim Playfair’s son, Dylan—the show gives the audience an authentic look inside a locker room.

Trivia Tuesday

How Well Do You Know Patrick Sharp?

Patrick Sharp, Chicago Blackhawks. (Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE)
  1. How many NHL teams did Patrick Sharp play on during his career?
    • One
    • Two
    • Three
    • Four
  2. Which university did Sharp play for before being drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2001?
    • Yale University
    • Harvard University
    • Clarkson University
    • University of Vermont
  3. In Dec. 2009, Sharp was inaccurately announced as “Chicago’s Sexiest Athlete” by which company?
    • Victoria’s Secret
    • Muscle & Fitness
    • Herald Weekly

Answers can be found at the bottom of the email.

Second Half Storylines: Players to Watch

Christmas is over, 2023 is days away, and NHL hockey resumes tonight after the holiday break. Up to this point, we’ve seen Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl resume their typical statistical dominance in Edmonton, as Alex Ovechkin continues to chart a historic goal-scoring path up to No. 2 all-time. We also witnessed a 23-game point streak for Mitch Marner and breakout campaigns from Jason Robertson, Tage Thompson, and Ilya Sorokin.

In short, it’s been quite the season for individual performances thus far. And even though Ovechkin won’t be scoring the 92 goals needed to catch Wayne Gretzky this year, there are plenty of players worth keeping an eye on over the final 50 or so games of the 2022-23 season.

Nathan MacKinnon

Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

There’s no current cause for panic in Colorado regarding the defending Stanley Cup champions. However, some might wonder when the sleeping giant will wake up to seize control of the Central Division. Avalanche fans know the return of a healthy Nathan MacKinnon will be a big part of that. MacKinnon had 34 points in 23 games before suffering an upper-body injury in early December. Colorado will also be hoping for more from Cale Makar, whose 29 points have the 24-year-old well behind top-scoring blueliners Erik Karlsson (46 points) and Josh Morrissey (39).

Jason Robertson & Tage Thompson

While Robertson and Thompson may seem to share little in common apart from their American heritage, we’re lumping them together because they are the two premier breakout forwards of the season. Both youngsters find themselves near the top of the league’s points leaderboard at the break. A continuation of this start for either player could cement their superstardom and provide their franchise (the Dallas Stars and Buffalo Sabres, respectively) with a much-needed foundational piece.

Matty Beniers

Matty Beniers, Seattle Kraken (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)

We expect that the Calder Trophy race is probably the least of Matty Beniers’ worries. Seattle’s rookie is the No. 1 center on a team currently in a playoff position. However, that spot looks mighty tenuous as the Kraken have struggled of late, and some talented Pacific Division rivals, namely the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers, can smell blood in the water. No pressure, kid—they only need you to lead a second-year franchise to the postseason ahead of a couple of the game’s biggest stars!

Not So Nice Cities

Chicago Blackhawks forward Max Domi went viral this past week when he jokingly mentioned he was getting a lot of visitors compared to when he was with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Domi stated, “All of a sudden, I’m in a nice city, so my whole family wants to come.” 

He isn’t the only player with something to say about another city. Here are some more examples of players who have not-so-nice things to say about NHL cities, whether it be their team or another.

Tomáš Hertl

Winnipeg is an NHL city that gets a bad reputation due to the weather. One player who has not been shy to voice his feelings about the Peg is San Jose Sharks forward Tomáš Hertl. In 2018, when asked what the worst city to play in is, Hertl responded, “I think it’s Winnipeg cause every time it’s so cold and dark there. I don’t like there.” He later admitted it was meant to be a joke and regretted saying it. 

Brendan Gallagher

Brendan Gallagher has been with the Montreal Canadiens for more than 11 years, and Gally figured out the best and worst parts of a city over such a long period. In 2017, when asked what the Habs would do as Mayor of Montreal, Gallagher emphatically responded, “Get rid of the damn construction around my house. Or finish it. Or start something. Or stop starting new projects before this one is finished. It’s been at least a year. I would like to drive on the right side of the road.” His sentiment was also shared by many other teammates, proving Montreal is a premiere hockey city but filled with construction. 

Jack Eichel

When Jack Eichel returned to face the Buffalo Sabres for the first time since being traded to the Vegas Golden Knights, he had quite a bit to say regarding the city and its fan base. After Vegas lost 3-1 against the Sabres in March, Eichel stated, “It’s the loudest I’ve heard this place ever. Really. It only took seven years and me leaving for them to get into the game. It was a nice tribute. There was plenty of people here that were supporting me, and there was plenty of people that were booing me. They must just be booing me because they wish I was still here, I don’t know.” The trade ended up benefiting both sides immensely. 

Trivia Answers

  1. Three
  2. University of Vermont
  3. Victoria’s Secret

NHL Standings

NHL’s Leading Scorers

Today’s NHL Schedule