January 3 — Happy New Year & 2022 Winter Classic

Yesterday’s NHL Scores

Last Night’s News 📰

GRAB YOUR TISSUES: One day into the calendar year, and we have already experienced the best moment of 2022! What began as a warning at Climate Pledge Arena during the Seattle Kraken’s home-opener on Oct. 23 turned out to be a life-saving alert. On Saturday, Nadia Popovici, a future medical student, and Vancouver Canucks assistant equipment manager Brian “Red” Hamilton reunited when the teams played in Seattle after Popovici cautioned Hamilton about the mole on his neck being malignant melanoma. Hamilton had the mole removed before cancer took hold, while the Canucks and Kraken combined to give Popovici a proper heroes salute and a $10,000 scholarship.

COLDEST GAME EVER: The 2022 Discover NHL Winter Classic was clocked at minus-6 degrees Fahrenheit at the opening faceoff, making it the coldest NHL game on record. Equipment staff from the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues used cold-weather tricks such as thermal underwear, heated benches, hand warmers in gloves, and chicken broth in water bottles, as Target Field set up warming stations for the 38,619 fans in attendance. 

BENNETT GETS BANNED: Sam Bennett will serve a three-game suspension without pay after delivering an illegal check to the head of Montreal Canadiens forward Cedric Paquette during the Florida Panthers game on Saturday. Although there was no penalty on the play, the NHL Department of Player Safety announced its decision last night. Bennett is considered a repeat offender and will forfeit $161,890.23 to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund. 

A HAT TRICK OF HAT TRICKS: Seven NHL games were played on Sunday, highlighted by a trio of goal scorers. In Pittsburgh, Penguins teammates Evan Rodrigues and Bryan Rust netted three goals in their 8-5 win over the San Jose Sharks. It was Rodrigues’ first career hat trick, and the first time two Pens teammates scored three times in one game since Petr Sýkora and Pascal Dupuis on Dec. 11, 2008. Meanwhile, fans at Madison Square Garden were treated to an offensive outpouring by Mika Zibanejad and a spectacular showing by goaltender Igor Shesterkin. All three goals by Zibanejad were assisted by Chris Kreider, while Shesterkin made 38 saves for his second shutout of the season. 

2022 Winter Classic: The Good and the Bad

The 2022 NHL Winter Classic took place Saturday night at Target Field in Minneapolis, as the St. Louis Blues out-gunned the Minnesota Wild, 6-4. Although the league scheduled its annual outdoor event between these two teams for Jan. 1, 2021, it was postponed a year due to COVID-19. Here is what did and didn’t go well in the 2022 version, given the extra year of anticipation for the NHL’s marquee event.

Bad: The Weather

As with any hockey game outdoors, the weather needs monitoring. While the NHL avoided worrying about rain or snow, the league dealt with frigid temperatures. With forecasts calling for highs in the negatives throughout Minneapolis during the holiday weekend, heaters on the ice surface in the days leading up to the game kept the ice at optimal temperature. Fans in attendance received hand warmers, while concession stands added soups to the menu to help spectators stay warm. The temperature at puck drop was minus-5.7 degrees Fahrenheit, making the 2022 Winter Classic the coldest game in NHL history.

Good: Having Fun with the Weather

Players on the Blues embraced the historically cold temperatures, acting as if they were taking a trip to the beach. Complete with Hawaiian shirts, shorts, sandals, sunglasses, sun hats, and even a cooler, St. Louis took the icy weather in stride. 

Bad: Cam Talbot

To stay warm, Wild goaltender Cam Talbot sported a stocking cap over his helmet as he took his position between the pipes to begin the game. However, neither the cap nor Talbot would last the entire 60 minutes, as the 34-year-old gave up six goals in two periods before being pulled due to what Minnesota coach Dean Evason called a lower-body injury. It was the second straight game in which Talbot allowed six goals on 28 shots dating back to Minnesota’s last game, a 7-4 loss to the Dallas Stars on Dec. 20. 

Good: Jordan Kyrou

On the other side, it was a night to remember for Blues center Jordan Kyrou. The 23-year-old had two goals and two assists, setting an NHL record for most points in an outdoor game with four. He controlled the puck impressively in a game in which it was bouncing all over the place. Kyrou called the experience “unbelievable,” saying, “Anytime you get to play in the Winter Classic, it’s pretty cool. Growing up as a kid, it’s something you always watch and dream of playing in.”

Bad: Having to Share the Spotlight

Since the Winter Classic is on New Year’s Day, it often has to compete with big college football bowl games for viewers. Saturday night was no exception, as the primetime NHL game on TNT got overshadowed by an exciting Rose Bowl game. Although the viewership numbers for Saturday haven’t come out yet as of this writing, and with the 2020 Winter Classic garnering the lowest number of viewers in the event’s history, it will be interesting to see where this year’s ratings fall.

Good: A Positive Experience

A sellout crowd of 38,619 didn’t let below-zero temperatures stop them from enjoying the experience at Target Field. There was a definite buzz in the frigid Minnesota air Saturday night. The players and coaches also enjoyed the unique experience. Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly summed it up well, saying, “It was awesome. I thought the NHL did a fantastic job putting it on. The crowd, how it was to see that amount of people, fireworks and everything, the emotion of it, they did a great job. It’s so special to be around that, to be in a different setting. It was so much fun.”

Spotted 👀

Happy New Year! 2022 began with a dominant St. Louis Blues Winter Classic victory at Target Field, and teams are back in full swing after the COVID pause and holiday break. Families skated in Minneapolis while others welcomed the newest little hockey fans. Let’s check in.

Family Time at Target Field

The Winter Classic is one of the biggest events of the season and one of the highlights for the players is the family skate that occurs the day prior to the game. This year, fans saw photos of Jon Merrill and his adorable family and Ryan O’Reilly with his young children. There was a chill in the air as the temperature reached minus-9 degrees Fahrenheit during the game, but thanks to Jordan Kyrou, the St. Louis Blues beat the Minnesota Wild by a score of 6-4 to the dismay of Minnesota fans. 

A Nestling in Pittsburgh

A huge congrats to Brian Boyle and his wife Lauren on welcoming their third child, Callum James, on New Years Day. Callum joins big brother Declan and big sister Isabella. Over his career, Boyle has warmed the hearts of fans all over the league, and this past autumn, he earned a professional tryout with the Pittsburgh Penguins after missing last season. The same day he signed his contract, he appeared in his first game since Aug. 7, 2020, scoring a goal in the second period. 

Holiday Homecoming

The Buffalo Sabres have not had a lot of positive press lately, so it was nice to see a player show excitement in joining the organization. New York native Alex Tuch was part of the blockbuster trade that sent Jack Eichel to the Vegas Golden Knight. Tuch made his Sabres season debut on Dec. 29, 2021, against the New Jersey Devils. He grew up in Syracuse, New York, approximately two hours east of Buffalo, and stated that it is a dream to put on the Sabres jersey. 

Happy Birthday to You!

It’s the first week of 2022 and a few NHL birthdays we have on tap include an emerging Vezina candidate, a legendary tough guy, the “Golden Jet,” and arguably the most celebrated coach in the NHL at the moment.

Birthday of the Week

Jack Campbell, January 9

When Jack Campbell turns 30 this coming Sunday, his Toronto Maple Leafs will be in Las Vegas ahead of a Monday clash with the Golden Knights, so there may be some celebrating on tap. And why not, seeing as how the netminder ranks second in the league in save percentage, goals-against average, and shutouts while leading his Leafs to a top-five win percentage (.710).

Happy birthday, Jack! (Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images)

Also Born This Week:

Active Players (Birthdate – Age)
Ryan Ellis (January 3 – 31)
Nico Hischier (January 4 – 23)
Erik Gudbranson (January 7 – 30)
William Karlsson (January 8 – 29)

Former Players (Birthdate – Age)
Bobby Hull (January 3 – 83)
Mike Grier (January 5 – 47)
Donald Brashear (January 7 – 50)
Bruce Boudreau (January 9 – 67)

NHL Standings

NHL’s Leading Scorers

Today’s NHL Schedule