November 3 — Giving Thanks, Winter Classics and Disappointing Depth Signings

On Tap For Today — Nashville at Edmonton; 6:30 pm MDT; SN1, BSSO | Carolina at Chicago; 7:30 pm CDT; TVAS, NBCSCH+, BSSO | Columbus at Colorado; 7:00 pm MDT; ALT2, BSOH | St. Louis at Los Angeles; 7:00 pm PDT; TNT, TVAS2

Last Night’s News 📰

OVIE OWNS OCTOBER: Alex Ovechkin was named the NHL’s first star for October, with Connor McDavid and Frederik Andersen rounding out the top three for the season’s opening month. Ovie had nine goals in eight games for the 5-0-3 Capitals, McDavid registered 16 points in seven games for the 6-1-0 Oilers and Andersen posted a 7-0 record with a 1.29 goals against average and .956 save percentage for his new team, the undefeated Carolina Hurricanes.

ANOTHER BAD BREAK FOR VEGAS: It was another rough day for the Vegas Golden Knights, who announced center William Karlsson will miss 4-6 weeks with a broken foot hours before getting shut out 4-0 by the Toronto Maple Leafs. Karlsson, who injured his foot during Friday’s 5-4 shootout win over Anaheim, joins teammates Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, Alex Tuch, Nolan Patrick, Mattias Janmark and Zach Whitecloud on the sidelines.

A JERSEY LEGEND: The Devils organization and their fans were saddened to hear about the passing of Earl Laycock Jr. He was a staff member with arena guest services since Prudential Center opened in 2007. Nicknamed “Dancing Earl,” he was loved by all and made the arena feel like home for all Devils fans.

AN UNFORTUNATE SHOT: Jonathan Drouin was taken to the hospital after taking a shot to the head during the first period against the Detroit Red Wings. The good news is he skated off the ice on his own after the incident. He will be evaluated, and hopefully, fans will get an update today.

What I’m Thankful For – Atlantic Division

The leaves are gently falling to the ground, and people are beginning to plan their Thanksgiving meal. Those are all indicators that it’s time to reflect and think about what you’re grateful for. Every Wednesday leading up to American Thanksgiving, we will discuss what each team is thankful for beginning with the Atlantic Division.

Boston Bruins: It’s been a dark week in the NHL, but in the midst of darkness, light persists. I think it’s safe to say everyone is thankful that Bruce Cassidy and Patrice Bergeron stressed the importance of watching Kyle Beach’s TSN interview together as a team.

Buffalo Sabres: They finished October with a record of 5-2-1. Let Sabres fans have their moment to rejoice in their team’s early season success.

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Detroit Red Wings: Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider are the obvious choices here, but there is someone else. Any team who lists Steve Yzerman as an employee should make sure he is number one on their gratitude list.

Florida Panthers: The Panthers earned a point in every game played in October. Their impressive 8-0 start proves last season was not a fluke. All hail the superior Florida team.

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Montreal Canadiens: Habs fans should be thankful that Carey Price sought out the necessary help he needed. It was announced today that he is close to returning to Montreal.

Ottawa Senators: Brady Tkachuk put ink to paper and will officially remain with the club for the next 7 years. He signed hours before their season opener and has three points in five games played.

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Tampa Bay Lightning: Regardless of what happens this season, Tampa fans should continue to be thankful for their back-to-back Stanley Cup victories.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Seeing Tavares back on the ice after his scary postseason collision with Corey Perry is a victory in itself. Seeing him lead his team with seven points in nine games? A true reason to be thankful.

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Thank You, Dan: The Best Winter Classics

Let’s take a moment to pay homage to Dan Craig, who recently wrapped up his five-film career as James Bo…oops, wrong guy. The NHL version of the retirement-bound Craig is essentially the father of the outdoor game (his actual title is “NHL vice president of facilities operations”), having spent 24 years steering the league through an increasing influx of Winter and Heritage Classics at countless venues of varying complexities.

In reflecting on the first Winter Classic on New Year’s Day in 2008 in Buffalo, Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly admits, “if we did not have Dan and his staff and their experience, we would not have been able to implement this game in the way that we really would have started and ended Winter Classic there.”

Given the importance of the Winter Classic over the past decade-plus, that’s pretty high praise, even for a guy who has continued to fly largely under the radar. So, as a tribute to Craig, the 007 of outdoor pro hockey, let’s take a look back at the three greatest Winter Classic games:

3. Penguins 2, Sabres 1(SO) – Ralph Wilson Stadium, 2008

2008 Winter Classic at Ralph Wilson Stadium (Credit: Krm500, Via Wikipedia Commons)

The first Winter Classic (no, not the first outdoor game) will always remain special, and it certainly doesn’t hurt to have Sidney Crosby, aka the sport’s biggest star at the time, deliver the shootout winner. Most fans will remember the stunning visual of the snowy conditions in Buffalo, although if we’re being honest, the conditions probably hindered the quality of play a little.

2. Maple Leafs 3, Red Wings 2 (SO) – Michigan Stadium, 2014

2014 Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium (Tom Turk/The Hockey Writers)

Fresh off an NHL lockout, fans were hungry for a big New Year’s Day hockey spectacle. So much so that a record 105,491 fans flocked to a frigid Big House to see the Maple Leafs eke out a 3-2 shootout victory over Detroit with roughly 50/50 crowd support making for an exciting, feisty atmosphere. recognized the game as its “Event of the Decade“.

1. Red Wings 6, Blackhawks 4 – Wrigley Field, 2009

2009 Winter Classic at Wrigley Field

The 2009 game had pretty much anything you could possibly want as a hockey fan. Setting? Iconic Wrigley Field served as the first baseball stadium to host a Winter Classic. Scoring? Up until last year’s 7-3 Boston Bruins’ victory over the Philadelphia Flyers at Lake Tahoe, this game doubled the goal total of any other Winter Classic. Star power? Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Nicklas Lidstrom, Patrick Kane and Jonathon Toews were just some of the stars to suit up.

Depth Disappointments

Each offseason brings fruitful free-agent deals that are celebrated and highlighted throughout the following season. Dougie Hamilton showed the New Jersey Devils what he brings by scoring 17 seconds into his first game, and Zach Hyman has six goals through eight games with the Edmonton Oilers.

On the other hand, there are always free-agent disappointments, even those being tasked with simply filling depth roles. It is still early into the season, but these three players need to perform better for their respective teams.

Kurtis MacDermid (Colorado Avalanche)

First, MacDermid was selected by the Seattle Kraken in the expansion draft from the Los Angeles Kings. It was a surprising choice since he was a depth defender, and there were better options on the table. Then, the Kraken traded him to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for a fourth-round pick in the 2023 NHL Draft. He has zero points through four games and has a team-low 8:30 average time on ice (ATOI).

Brendan Perlini (Edmonton Oilers)

Perlini raised expectations in Edmonton after a dominant, six-goal preseason showing. Fast forward to the first 10 games of the season, and he’s now earning sparse, fourth-line duty while also sitting in the press box on three occasions. Again, this is not the worst move of the offseason, but, surprisingly, he has failed to replicate a sliver of his preseason success.

Nick Ritchie (Toronto Maple Leafs)

Nick Ritchie #20 of the Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

Ritchie makes the most with his $2.5 million contract over two years compared to the other two names on this list. He has been a non-factor with Toronto, already being demoted to the fourth line. His one assist through nine games is very troubling, and the team is hoping that he can find his role in the lineup. Skating is an issue, and it has been very noticeable on a team with highly skilled forwards surrounding him. There is still time to figure out his game and rejuvenate his career, but this is not a great start.