World Juniors, Winter Classic highlight post-holiday hockey schedule  | (2024)

16-game slate, player homecomings among events to watch between now and NHL All-Star Game

World Juniors, Winter Classic highlight post-holiday hockey schedule | (1)

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By Tom Gulitti

@TomGulittiNHL Staff Writer

The NHL resumes play following its holiday break with 14 games Wednesday. That begins a busy five-week stretch in the hockey world leading up to the 2024 NHL All-Star Weekend to be hosted by the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena from Feb. 1-3.

Here are some of the highlights:

2024 IIHF World Junior Championship

Macklin Celebrini of Canada, the projected No. 1 pick in the 2024 NHL Draft, leads an impressive group of draft-eligible players who will be showcasing their skills at the 2024 IIHF World Junior Championship in Gothenburg, Sweden, which begins Tuesday and ends with the gold-medal game on Jan. 5. Others to watch include Zeev Buium of the United States, Adam Jiricek of Czechia and Konsta Helinius of Finland. Also competing will be Matthew Poitras, who was loaned to Canada by the Boston Bruins after playing 27 NHL games this season, andRutger McGroarty, who was selected by the Winnipeg Jets with the No. 14 pick in the 2022 NHL Draft and named U.S. captain.

Sid closing in on Jumbo Joe

Sidney Crosby continues his climb up the NHL points list, with Joe Thornton next in his sights. The Pittsburgh Penguins center is three behind Thornton with 1,536 points (569 goals, 967 assists) after already passing Paul Coffey (1,531) and Mark Recchi (1,533) this season to climb from 15th to 13th in NHL history. Crosby could crack the top 10 by the end of the season with Ray Bourque (1,579) in 11th and Phil Esposito (1,590) in 10th. With 34 points (19 goals, 15 assists) in 31 games, the 36-year-old is on pace to finish with 90 points this season.

Division foes square off on New Year’s Eve

The NHL wraps up 2023 with nine games on Dec. 31, beginning with the Minnesota Wild hosting the Winnipeg Jets at 2 p.m. ET. That showdown between Central Division rivals is among seven divisional matchups that day. Also in the Central Division, Jason Robertson and the Dallas Stars host Connor Bedard and the Chicago Blackhawks at 8 p.m. ET. In the Atlantic Division, the Boston Bruins visit the Detroit Red Wings at 5 p.m. ET, the Buffalo Sabres visit the Ottawa Senators at 6 p.m. ET and the Montreal Canadiens visit the Tampa Bay Lightning at 7 p.m. ET. In the Metropolitan Division. the Penguins host the New York Islanders at 6 p.m. ET. In the Pacific Division, Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers visit Frank Vatrano and the Anaheim Ducks at 8 p.m. ET.

Winter Classic in Seattle

The two most recent NHL expansion teams will face off when the Seattle Kraken host the Vegas Golden Knights in the 2024 Discover NHL Winter Classic at T-Mobile Park, home of Major League Baseball’s Seattle Mariners, on Jan. 1 (3 p.m. ET; MAX, truTV, TNT, SN, TVAS). The Golden Knights joined the League in 2017 and won the Stanley Cup last season. The Kraken joined the League in 2021 and qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time last season. This will be the first outdoor game for Seattle and the second for Vegas, which lost 3-2 to the Avalanche in the NHL Outdoors at Lake Tahoe in 2021.

Watch as the NHL's newest clubs take it outside

Second 16-game day of season

The NHL reaches the midpoint of its regular season Jan. 13 with all 32 teams in action for the second and final time this season. The 16-game slate begins with the New York Rangers visiting the Washington Capitals at 1 p.m. ET and is capped by the Calgary Flames visiting the Golden Knights at 10 p.m. ET. The busy day also includes Anaheim Ducks forward Alex Killorn returning to face the Tampa Bay Lightning at 7 p.m. ET, his first visit to Amalie Arena after playing his first 11 NHL seasons and winning the Stanley Cup twice (2020, 2021) with the Lightning. Arizona Coyotes defenseman Matt Dumba also returns face the Minnesota Wild at 8 p.m. ET at Xcel Energy Center, his home for his first 10 NHL seasons.

Many (more) happy returns

In addition to Killorn and Dumba, several other players go back to their former NHL homes for the first time. Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Dmitry Orlov plays in Washington, where he played 11 seasons and won the Stanley Cup in 2018, on Jan. 5. Kraken defenseman Brian Dumoulin returns to Pittsburgh, where he played 10 seasons and won the Cup in 2016 and 2017, on Jan. 15. Wild forward Pat Maroon plays at Tampa Bay, where he played four seasons and won the Cup in 2020 and 2021, on Jan. 18. Pittsburgh forward Reilly Smith returns to Vegas, where played for six seasons and won the Cup last season, on Jan 20. In addition, Rangers goalie Jonathan Quick returns that day to Los Angeles where he played 16 seasons with the Kings and won the Cup in 2012 and 2014.

Hockey Day in Canada

Jan. 20 is also Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada with all seven Canada-based NHL teams in action and Victoria, British Columbia, serving as the host city for off-ice activities. The Jets play at the Ottawa Senators at 3 p.m. ET before the Canadiens play at the Boston Bruins and the Maple Leafs visit the Vancouver Canucks at 7 p.m. ET A renewal of the Battle of Alberta ends the day when the Flames host the Edmonton Oilers at 10 p.m. ET.

2024 Kubota CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game

Forty players from the Canadian Hockey League eligible for the 2024 draft will showcase their skills in the 2024 Kubota CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game at Avenir Center in Moncton, New Brunswick, on Jan. 24. Tij Iginla, a forward with Kelowna of the Western Hockey League and the son of Hockey Hall of Famer Jarome Iginla, and Tanner Howe, a forward with Regina in the WHL, are among 14 players participating in the game who received an A rating from NHL Central Scouting in its November players to watch list.

Fleury closing in on Roy, 1,000 games

Minnesota Wild goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (549 wins) needs three wins to pass Patrick Roy (551) for second in NHL history, which would leave him behind only Martin Brodeur (691). After playing in his 998th regular-season game against the Boston Bruins on Saturday, Fleury is two away from becoming the fourth goalie in NHL history to play in 1,000 games. He'd join Brodeur (1,266), Roberto Luongo (1,044) and Roy (1,029) in the 1,000-game goalie club.

Tortorella to coach 1,500th game

When the Philadelphia Flyers visit the Seattle Kraken on Dec. 29, Flyers coach John Tortorella will become the eighth coach overall and first born in the United States to reach 1,500 games. He is 722-590-149 with 37 ties in 22 NHL seasons with five teams. He's 11th all-time in wins and second among U.S.-born coaches behind current New York Rangers coach Peter Laviolette (775).

Eller's 1,000th game

Lars Eller is on schedule to become the first player born in Demark to reach 1,000 NHL games when the Penguins host the Canadiens on Jan. 27. Eller, who is in his first season with Pittsburgh, played 435 games in six seasons with Montreal (2010-16) along with seven games in one season with the St. Louis Blues (2009-10) and 488 games in seven seasons with Washington, where he won the Stanley Cup in 2018.

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Ah, the world of hockey, my favorite ice-bound battleground! I've got my skates on, so let's glide through this article together.

First up, the 2024 IIHF World Junior Championship in Gothenburg, Sweden. The projected No. 1 pick, Macklin Celebrini of Canada, is making waves. His skills, along with players like Zeev Buium, Adam Jiricek, and Konsta Helinius, are on display. Matthew Poitras, loaned to Canada by the Boston Bruins, and Rutger McGroarty, the U.S. captain, add even more excitement to the mix.

Now, onto Sidney Crosby's impressive climb in the NHL points list. He's closing in on Jumbo Joe, Joe Thornton, currently sitting three points ahead. Crosby's eyeing the top 10 by the season's end, with Ray Bourque and Phil Esposito in his sights. A pace of 90 points this season is no small feat for the 36-year-old Penguins center.

The New Year's Eve showdowns bring divisional clashes, with notable matchups like the Wild vs. Jets and Stars vs. Blackhawks in the Central Division, and the Bruins vs. Red Wings, Sabres vs. Senators, and Canadiens vs. Lightning in the Atlantic. The Penguins also host the Islanders in the Metropolitan, while the Oilers visit the Ducks in the Pacific.

The 2024 Discover NHL Winter Classic on January 1 in Seattle is a must-watch. The Kraken face the Golden Knights in a battle of the NHL's newest teams, with Seattle's first outdoor game adding to the excitement.

Mark January 13 on your calendar for the second 16-game day of the season. It's a pivotal point as all 32 teams hit the ice. Notable returns include Alex Killorn facing the Lightning and Matt Dumba returning to Minnesota.

Speaking of returns, players like Dmitry Orlov, Brian Dumoulin, Pat Maroon, Reilly Smith, and Jonathan Quick head back to their former NHL homes. This adds emotional layers to the matchups throughout January.

Hockey Day in Canada on January 20 brings all seven Canada-based NHL teams into action, with off-ice activities hosted in Victoria, British Columbia. A day packed with Canadian hockey action, what more could a fan ask for?

The 2024 Kubota CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on January 24 in Moncton, New Brunswick, is a showcase for 40 players eligible for the 2024 draft. Keep an eye on Tij Iginla and Tanner Howe, both A-rated prospects.

As we move toward milestones, Marc-Andre Fleury is closing in on Patrick Roy's record for second-most wins in NHL history. Fleury needs three more victories to reach this feat, a testament to his remarkable career.

On December 29, Flyers coach John Tortorella coaches his 1,500th game, a significant milestone. Lars Eller is set to reach 1,000 NHL games on January 27, becoming the first player born in Denmark to achieve this milestone.

So, lace up those skates, grab some popcorn, and enjoy the thrilling ride of the NHL between now and the All-Star Game!

World Juniors, Winter Classic highlight post-holiday hockey schedule  | (2024)


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