Amid growing fear and concern for the continuity of the 2021-22 NHL season and the Olympic participation, we’ll try to keep it on hockey, but the COVID storm doesn’t want to let us out. New Jersey Devils head coach Lindy Ruff sent the muscle after the Vegas Golden Knights in the final seconds on Thursday, the first NHL player has called for a season pause, Evgeni Malkin seems to be getting closer and closer to a return to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and LeBron James was spotted repping his new investment via a Penguins sweater.
And cue the NHL trade rumors–it seems Vegas Golden Knights scouts are becoming regulars in San Jose.
Seriously, how does LeBron not go with the Gin and Juice jersey? The headline picture is all there really is. It wouldn’t be news, except the kid from Cleveland will soon be a part-owner via his investment in the Fenway Group.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) December 15, 2021
First, the fun story today:
Vegas: The Devils wanted a scrap as time expired. Old school hockey, coach. At the faceoff, it was on, and everyone was involved. The Vegas Golden Knight obliged, but goalie Robin Lehner wanted to fight, too.
On Thursday, Shelly Anderson had practice duty while the bonehead who runs National Hockey Now spent the day in meetings.
Pittsburgh Hockey Now: Brian Boyle has a nagging lower thing, and Evgeni Malkin is ramping up.
Remember when Dustin Tokarski made what seemed like 100 saves against the Penguins? The Penguins don’t really remember, but as Shelly notes, the Sabres’ return to PPG harkens back to what was a turning point in the Pittsburgh Penguins season.
NHL Trade Chatter, News & National Hockey Now:
Vegas: The Vegas Golden Knights have sent a scout to at least a couple of Evander Kane’s games with the AHL’s Barracuda. Here come those Evander Kane NHL trade rumors.
TSN: There’s growing concern that more teams will pause games, forcing the NHL season to pause, thus denying the NHL players an opportunity to go to the Olympics. Nick Cousins is the first player to declare a pause makes sense.
Calgary: Confirmed. It’s the Omicron variant that is ripping through the Calgary Flames.
San Jose: Connor McDavid called the IOC/Chinese COVID protocols and potential five-week quarantine “unsettling.” It sure sounds like Team Sweden will be without the incredulous Erik Karlsson.
Colorado: As Adrian Dater writes, Colorado Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar sounds fed up with the haphazard application and nebulous NHL COVID protocol policy.
NYI: Pick your poison. One team had to win: the Pittsburgh Penguins’ best wild-card pursuer, the Boston Bruins, or their division rival, the New York Islanders. The Bruins are the latest team wrecked by COVID, but the Islanders looked like the team they’re supposed to be. The best fourth line in hockey did the damage, and the Islanders won, 3-1.
Boston: Oh well? The Bruins are beaten up and dealing with COVID. So, of course, the Bruins lost?
Washington: For the first time since he was injured against the Penguins nearly two weeks ago, Tom Wilson is back on skates, but injuries claimed TVR and Evgeni Kuznetsov.
Detroit: The Detroit Red Wings–if they could play all of their games at home–would be on the Penguins’ heels. However, the NHL schedule dictates teams play 41 games on the road. In another bad road effort, the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Red Wings.