November 25 — Picking Teams & Quarterly Canadian Check In

Last Night’s News 📰

RIP BÖRJE: Legendary Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Börje Salming passed away on Thursday following a battle with ALS at 71. Toronto honored the Hockey Hall of Fame inductee less than two weeks ago during an emotional pre-game ceremony at Scotiabank Arena. The Morning Skate and The Hockey Writers offer condolences to the Salming family and the Maple Leafs organization.

THE CHICKEN FINGER LEGEND: New Jersey Devils fans were not impressed after officials waived off the third goal during the third period against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday. Fans started throwing stuff on the ice out of frustration, and New Jersey forward Erik Haula had the best response, stating, “I kind of tried to wave to (the fans) to stop (throwing things), but I think I got hit with a chicken finger during that time too—so whatever.” 

ICING THE REVEAL: On Wednesday, two New York Islanders fans utilized the Kiss Cam for the gender reveal of their pending baby. Using team colors—blue (for boy) and orange (for girl)—Sparky and the Islanders crew hyped the crowd up before orange confetti signaled the couple are having a girl

Friday Favorites

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

You’re Malkin Me Cry

This week was all about Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin. There were many touching moments, starting with the team copying his stretching routine in warmups. Pittsburgh even surprised Malkin by flying his family to Chicago and having his son read the starting lineup. It was an emotional week for not only the 36-year-old but also for those who witnessed his celebration. 

Travel So Far

Nikita Alexandrov’s dad, Igor, and brother, Artyom, left their home in Iserlohn, Germany, at 4 a.m. on Saturday to see Nikita suit up against the Anaheim Ducks at Enterprise Center. Igor and Artyom’s travel itinerary included a two-hour drive from Iserlohn to Frankfurt, a 9.5-hour flight from Frankfurt to Chicago, and finally, a one-hour flight from Chicago to St. Louis, arriving three hours before the puck dropped.

Bergeron Celebrates Milestone

The Boston Bruins have one of the most likable captains in the league in Patrice Bergeron. On Nov. 22, Bergeron collected his 1,000th career point on Brad Marchand‘s goal in the second period against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Marchand instantly recognized the achievement, and every Bruins player on the bench jumped over the boards to congratulate their captain. Congrats, Bergy!  

NHL Teams as World Cup Clubs

Yesterday, we did a segment on NHL players who could be candidates to represent their countries at the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Now we take it up a notch and tell you which clubs you should cheer for based on some of your favorite teams.

If Your Favorite Team Is the Boston Bruins – Portugal

Portugal has one of the best soccer players of all time, Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo helped lead Portugal to a 3-2 win over Ghana, and the 37-year-old is playing in his fifth World Cup. Boston has a similar player in Patrice Bergeron. He just reached his 1,000th-point milestone and is showing no signs of aging at 37 years old, with 18 points in 20 games and the fourth-best faceoff win percentage (61.2%) in the NHL. 

If Your Favorite Team Is the New Jersey Devils – Japan

Japan went viral at the World Cup because of their courtesy. After beating Germany 2-1, Japanese fans stayed behind to help clean up the stadium. Moreover, they also left the dressing room immaculate while leaving behind 11 origami cranes, a symbol of honor. Did you know that the New Jersey Devils are known for having the cleanest arena? Prudential Center was ranked sixth-best by ESPN on the cleanliness scale for North American sports arenas, with the best rating among NHL teams. Plus, no one expected Japan to beat Germany, just like many didn’t expect the Devils to be the third-best team in the league! 

If Your Favorite Team is the Montreal Canadiens – Brazil

Founded in 1909, the Montreal Canadiens are the winningest team in NHL history. An Orignal-Six team with 24 Stanley Cups to show for it, the Canadiens are akin to Brazil, who have won the most World Cups of any country with five. Both clubs have been waiting a long time to get back to glory, as Brazil has been trophy-less for 20 years while Montreal is going on 30. 

If Your Favorite Team is the Buffalo Sabres – Ghana

Buffalo is the youngest team in the NHL, sporting an average age of 25.4, while Ghana is the youngest club at the World Cup, with an average age of 24.7. Both squads show that the kids are alright, as Ghana hung with Portugal better than predicted. Meanwhile, the Sabres have some of the most exciting young talents in the NHL, with Tage Thompson, Owen Power, Rasmus Dahlin, and Dylan Cozens. 

North of the Border

On behalf of all Canadians, Happy Thanksgiving to our American neighbours! But while yesterday marked a day of family, turkey, and traditions for all of you, it was just a Thursday to us—one that offered no hockey (although we appreciate the afternoon of football to distract us from work). With that in mind, let’s check in on the seven teams north of the border to see how they’re trending at roughly the quarter-pole of the season.

Calgary Flames

For as masterful as GM Brad Treliving was in acting quickly to turn departing free agent Johnny Gaudreau and disgruntled Matthew Tkachuk into Jonathan Huberdeau, Nazem Kadri, and MacKenzie Weegar, the transition was never going to be perfectly smooth. Some adjustments to new personnel and struggles by Huberdeau have the Flames out to a pedestrian 9-7-3 start. Hey, at least they’re still the best team in Alberta!

Edmonton Oilers

Speaking of Edmonton, a 7-3-0 start gave way to a 3-7-0 record in the last 10, with so many of the organization’s long-held criticisms rearing their ugly head again. Goaltending remains an issue, as the Jack Campbell signing already appears headed toward bust territory. Meanwhile, defensive struggles and underwhelming contributions from the bottom-six forward corps continue to plague the club.

Montreal Canadiens

With few expectations this season, Canadiens fans can celebrate success stories on a more micro level while appreciating their position within a glut of middle-of-the-pack Atlantic Division teams. Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield are anchoring the team up front, while youngsters Kaiden Guhle, Jordan Harris, Johnathan Kovacevic, and Arber Xhekaj have announced their arrival on the back end. Reigning No. 1 overall pick Juraj Slafkovský has struggled out of the gate, but the panic meter remains reasonably low.

Ottawa Senators

Suffice it to say, 6-12-1 was not the start the Senators envisioned coming off of their bold offseason, which saw them land Alex DeBrincat and Claude Giroux. It remains to be seen whether Ottawa’s struggles could cost head coach D.J. Smith his job, but GM Pierre Dorion quickly blamed the team’s inconsistency and inability to win close games. More recently, Thomas Chabot’s concussion-related absence has spotlighted the blue line’s over-reliance on their defensive anchor.

Toronto Maple Leafs

An 11-5-5 record looks okay on the surface, but this is the Maple Leafs we’re talking about, and nothing is that simple. Angst over goaltending injuries has given way to angst over a depleted blue line without Morgan Rielly, T.J. Brodie, and Jake Muzzin. Even snapping the New Jersey Devils’ 13-game win streak can’t be entirely enjoyed, considering New Jersey had three goals controversially called back in the game.

Vancouver Canucks

At some point, it just gets comical, right? It has now been seven times in 20 games that the Canucks have blown a multi-goal lead—seven!! Three teams don’t even have that many losses, period. How draining must it be to stand in front of the local media after every game and try to find a new way to explain something that has been so inexplicably rampant?

Winnipeg Jets

Well, what do we have here—a Canadian hockey team that is in a good place and playing well! New head coach Rick Bowness has calmed the waters in Winnipeg while implementing a stifling defensive system that allowed just 2.61 goals per game, the league’s fifth-best mark. On the offensive side, Josh Morrissey’s breakout campaign is already generating some Norris buzz.

NHL Standings

NHL’s Leading Scorers

Today’s NHL Schedule