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NHL Notebook: COVID crisis rattles league

Profile Picture: Robert Criscola

December 20th, 2021

Let’s recap some of the major NHL headlines from on and off the ice over the last week.

COVID ices cross-border travel, Olympic participation in doubt

A nightmarish week for the NHL saw seven teams get shut down – namely the Detroit Red Wings, Toronto Maple Leafs, Colorado Avalanche, Florida Panthers, Calgary Flames, Nashville Predators, and Boston Bruins – due to multiple positive COVID tests within each organization. Furthermore, the league postponed all games involving travel across the Canadian border until after the Christmas break.

With the NHL now up to 27 postponements, the idea of sending the world’s best players to Beijing for the Olympics next February is looking increasingly far-fetched. The league is likely to use the built-in three-week break to make up as many lost games as they can. Quarantine rules for the Olympics have also made players like Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews feel uneasy about going. 

Winning streaks galore

Who’s the hottest team in the NHL right now? You can take your pick between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Predators, who have each won seven in a row.

The Penguins – who have outscored their opposition 26-10 during their run – will play the flagging New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers before the Christmas break. Nashville’s next scheduled game is Dec. 27 against the Dallas Stars.

But not far behind are the Vegas Golden Knights and the Vancouver Canucks, who have won five and six games in a row, respectively.

Vegas is now sitting atop the Pacific Division, where many picked them to be at the start of the season. But Vancouver’s run is much more surprising, as head coach Bruce Boudreau inherited a sorry situation from the fired Travis Green. However, the Canucks’ momentum has been unfortunately interrupted by COVID.

Pacific Division Winner 2021/2022

Sat, April 30 2022, 4:00 AM

Vegas Golden Knights

+125

Calgary Flames

+250

Edmonton Oilers

+350

Anaheim Ducks

+600

Los Angeles Kings

+3000

San José Sharks

+4500

Vancouver Canucks

+5000

Seattle Kraken

+20000

Paul Maurice resigns

Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice shockingly resigned from his post on Friday, in the middle of his ninth season with the team. His club was 4-7-2 over his final 13 games behind the bench, and Maurice was frank when asked by reporters about why he quit.

“If you’ll allow me some arrogance, I feel I’m better positioned than anyone to know that they need a new voice,” Maurice said. “They haven’t quit on me. But they need somebody that can get them to that next place.”

The Jets have gone 1-1 under interim head coach Dave Lowry, and are not scheduled to play again until Dec. 27 due to COVID. Winnipeg is currently three points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference.

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