Things are going south in a hurry for the Edmonton Oilers. The goaltending is failing, eyes are turning to the coach, and Twitter is ablaze with one name: Mike Babcock. The Pittsburgh Penguins had an off day, but that didn’t stop this keyboard from wondering the real potential of the Penguins. And Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek stirred the NHL trade rumors with a somewhat surprising choice for the first big trade of 2022.
The surprising Sportsnet discussion included Montreal trading Brendan Gallagher and Carey Price.
Pittsburgh Hockey Now: The Pittsburgh Penguins have won eight straight. They’ve done it without two, then three of their top four centers, without their two best wingers. I asked the question (and answered). So, just how good are the Penguins?
We also did another Penguins live chat. It took a few tries, but we had some fun debating Evgeni Malkin, Jason Zucker, and where should head coach Mike Sullivan put Evan Rodrigues.
NHL Trade Talk, News & National Hockey Now
Sportsnet: Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek talked about the Edmonton Oilers (before the Mike Babcock explosion), and who will be the first big-name traded in 2022? They put the usual suspects on the NHL trade block and Montreal Canadiens Brendan Gallagher and Carey Price.
Toronto Star: As Ben Roethlisberger was heading town the Heinz Field tunnel with his family, Mike Babcock was trending on Twitter, which lit up like a Christmas tree when Oilers head coach Dave Tippet spoke for 1:54 after the Oilers lost badly to the New York Rangers. Trade, goalies, anything, or Mike Babcock.
San Jose Hockey Now: What a year. In addition to the investigations and public drama, the NHL suspended Evander Kane for 21 games because he submitted a fake vaccination card. Unfortunately, Kane was placed in COVID protocol on Dec. 21, but he has not exited. A source told our Sheng Peng that Evander Kane has a “bad case” of COVID.
Calgary: The NHL pulled out of the Olympics. Russian Nikita Zadarov was not a happy campy. The Calgary Flames defenseman let rip.
Vancouver: There’s a growing buzz around Thatcher Demko and the Vezina Trophy (Tristan Jarry might like a word, eh?). Demko is handling it well, “Cool it,” said the Vancouver Canucks goalie.
Vegas: Our Owen Krepps is at practice–Robin Lehner is having a bit of a roller-coaster season. He returned to practice. Mark Stone made news by being present in a non-contact jersey, and eyes are on the Vegas Golden Knights.
Metro Division and Wild-Card Chase
Washington: Ok, it’s not the greatest “hockey” story, but snow hit D.C. yesterday, so Dmitry Orlov and young fam went outside and had some fun. And yes, this nice Washington Capitals news.
Boston: The Bruins are the team most able to catch the Penguins in the wild-card chase. They finally had a good weekend, and optimism is growing around the Boston Bruins.
NYI: Uh oh. Brock Nelson and Kyle Palmieri returned to practice. It’s been a bad season, but things are picking up around the New York Islanders.
Detroit: The Red Wings are still there in the wild-card race. However, their talent level isn’t quite there, and their power play killed them again. The Bruins took the wild-card spot and beat the Detroit Red Wings…
And that’s it for hockey. Trigger Warning:
Regarding Evander Kane…
You probably know my stance on vaccination. Dr. Craig Spencer (NYC ER doc, head of Emergency Medicine at Columbia) did a great tweet thread on Monday. Hospitals are saving lives. It’s no longer a panic, but beds are full again, and it’s getting worse. The thread was both comforting and scary. Also, children are being hospitalized in spiking numbers, which really, really…scares me.
Unlike March 2020 we have vaccines. And they remain the best way to stay out of the hospital.
Even with Omicron the unvaccinated still make up a disproportionate share of the sickest COVID patients.
And those needing treatment in the ICU are disproportionately the unvaccinated. pic.twitter.com/uhrEw43izc
— Craig Spencer MD MPH (@Craig_A_Spencer) January 4, 2022