Red hot Rick Nash, Anaheim Ducks' amazing streak in one-goal games; more in SI.com's special all-plus holiday edition of NHL's Plus/Minus.
Santa is in a generous mood this week. If only because people like to stuff stockings with glad tidings and good cheer, we’ve replaced our usual plus-minus column with only a plus-plus this week. Yes, nothing but good notes and maybe a few videos to make people laugh smile or—sorry, Sharks—cringe a bit, but still with a smile. Don't worry, Scrooge will be back next week.
Here are the pluses:
• How hot is Rick Nash? He recorded a hat trick last week when he wasn’t even playing. It was the Ranger sniper’s first three-goal effort in 141 games since joining the Broadway Blueshirts, and it took a while for confirmation. When New York won its seventh straight game, beating the Capitals, 4-2, at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night, Nash was initially given credit for two goals and an assist, leaving him with 22 goals for the season, three behind league leader Tyler Seguin of the Stars. But Nash’s assist on a power-play goal by Martin St. Louis turned into a goal a day later thanks to video review when eagle eyes noticed that St. Louis never actually touched the puck.
• Speaking of hat tricks, Tampa Bay’s Tyler Johnson picked up the second of his young career by scoring three times on deadly snapshots in a 4-3 victory against the hot Penguins on Tuesday night. The win broke the Bolts' 10-game losing streak against the Pittsburgh. In the game, Johnson beat Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury with a quick snapshot from the slot that went off the post, another snapper from the left dot, and a two-on-one conversion with Nikita Kucherov. Yes, the Lightning may not have Martin St. Louis in their lineup anymore, but at 5’-9” and 180 pounds, Johnson, a 24-year-old Spokane, Wash. native, is an aptly sized replacement. He has picked up 37 points in his first 35 games and stands second in the league with a +23 rating.
• The Ducks don’t mind the close ones. Anaheim now has a record of 17-0-5 in one-goal games this season. That leads the league and certainly explains why the Ducks led the NHL with 51 points at the holiday break. By comparison, Anaheim’s mark is not nearly as strong in two- (1-3) or three-or-more-goal games (5-5). The Ducks had the second-best win percentage (27-4-8) in one-goal outcomes last season and were among the league leaders during the lockout season of 2012-13 (at 14-2-6), bringing the club’s astounding record in such contests during the past three seasons to 58-6-19.
• The World Junior Championships are here. If you'd like to look into the future, this is a great tournament to watch, especially this season as the two top two juniors in the world—and likely the top two picks in the NHL draft next June—will be on display. Watch for the match-up between Connor McDavid of Team Canada and Jack Eichel of Team USA in the preliminary round on Dec. 31 in Montreal. Don’t be surprised if the two meet again during the later rounds when those games move to Toronto. And for the record, this is hardly a two-team tournament. The Finns are the defending world junior champs, having beaten Sweden, 3-2 in overtime of the 2014 final. The U.S. team opens its schedule against them on Dec. 26.
OK, so they may be a little off key, but give the Blues some marks for trying.
The Blues’ mascot even participated in an ode to the holiday film Home Alone.
The Sharks’ holiday sweater video could use a little work.
The Penguins spoofedChristmas Vacation. As the man says, it is never coming to a theater near you.
And since the classics never go out of style, we'll reach back three years for this one from the Blackhawks:
From last season, this gem from the Bruins. And since they asked Rene Rancourt to sing, you can actually listen to it.
Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban really got into the holiday spirit, surprising some local kids on one of the team’s pre-Christmas off day. Well done!