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From the Branches: Happy Festivus

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The NHL's Christmas break begins with a loss for the Maple Leafs

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JvR really needs to pick better times to practice flying.
JvR really needs to pick better times to practice flying.
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Leafs enter the holidays with a loss to the Coyotes. There are no NHL games until the 26th, and the Leafs will be back on the 27th in Brooklyn against the Islanders.

Howling in Pain: Leafs Fall to Coyotes, 3-2 - Pension Plan Puppets
Despite great effort, the Leafs fall to Arizona in a game they'll feel they had enough chances to win.

Coyotes get two goals from Shane Doan in ugly 3-2 win over Leafs - Five For Howling
It wasn't pretty, but Shane Doan and Louis Domingue were excellent again for the Arizona Coyotes.

Episode 3 of "The Leaf: Blueprint" was released yesterday and Achariya has written a review. This episode covers Reimer's run and the debut of Garrett Sparks.

The Leaf: Blueprint Episode 3, a tale of goaltenders - Pension Plan Puppets
The Leafs say this episode is about opportunity; I say it's about loneliness.

Also from last night's game, TSN aired what is probably its dumbest segment of the year. The premise was to vote on the 'greatest gift' of the year. There were three options and you can probably already guess where this was going: one of them was embarrassingly inappropriate.

How do you even compare Carey Price's advocacy for First Nations Peoples with Connor McDavid simply existing, and Ken Holland convincing Gary Bettman to change the OT rules? How can you reduce that to a competition for the 'greatest gift'?  Why did this segment even air?

Carey Price's NHL Awards speech encourages aboriginal youth - CBC News
Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price encouraged First Nations youth during his acceptance speech during last night's NHL Awards in Las Vegas.

Especially embarrassing was the TSN panel then voted Connor McDavid as the 'greatest gift'. What a surprise.

This relentless fawning of McDavid is getting really grating. The Globe and Mail has two separate stories on him in today's paper alone, including a cheesy 1,000 word "Christmas with the McDavids" profile. I can't wait until he returns from injury and his first shift is covered live across Canada.

SB Nation Game Recaps

Devils Burn Wings Early, Hold Third Period Lead -Winging It In Motown
After a nice bounce-back win vs the Calgary Flames, the Wings had a chance to exact revenge against the New Jersey Devils. Devils 4 Wings 3.

Mats Zuccarello's OT Winner Ends Three Game Losing Streak - Blueshirt Banter
The Rangers finally got back in the win column tonight after Mats Zuccarello scored the overtime winning goal against the Ducks.

ReCat: Knight Moves - Litter Box Cats
Pirri and Barkov combine for more shootout magic - Cats rise to 3rd in the Atlantic

Wild battle tired legs, Canadiens, no-goal calls in 2-1 victory - Hockey Wilderness
With both teams coming into Tuesday each having played the night before, you could expect some tired legs on the ice. The Wild and Canadiens skated to a complete snoozer on national TV.

Antti Niemi, Stars Shutout Blackhawks 4-0 - Defending Big D
Oh, they were so sad, those little Hawks fans. And Tom Gaglardi has their money now, too.

Canucks Beat Lightning 2-1 In A Penalty Parade - Nucks Misconduct
Unreal. The Lightning were gifted 10 (TEN!!!) powerplay opportunities in this one and managed only one goal.

In Soviet Russia Go Ahead Goal Score You. - St. Louis Game Time
Jake Allen did pretty well for himself too.

Other News

Reebok-CCM to cease helmet safety claims - The Globe and Mail
Canada’s Competition Bureau says manufacturers can’t claim equipment protects against concussions

Spengler Cup coach Boucher says ‘odds are against us’ - The Globe and Mail
Canada doesn’t enter many international hockey tournaments as an underdog, but the head coach says that’s just the reality for Canadian teams competing at the Spengler Cup

Boston University Officially Announces Suspension to Nick Roberto - SB Nation College Hockey
Boston University's Nick Roberto will miss the rest of the season after betting on sports

Mark Scheifele Slew Foots Darnell Nurse - The Copper & Blue
The Department of Player Safety should take a look at Mark Scheifele's slew foot of Darnell Nurse in the final seconds of last night's game.

Winter Classic rink build begins at Gillette Stadium - NHL.com
Ice and rink preparations have begun for the Winter Classic at Gillette Stadium between the Canadiens and Bruins.

Barclays Center (and the Nets) Sold - Lighthouse Hockey
Mikhail Prokhorov's Onexim Sports has purchased the Brooklyn Nets at a total of $875 million and the Barclays Center at a total of $825 million.

Giroux's New Year's resolution: 'Eat more grilled cheese sandwiches' - BSH
Also, he drew a banana for some reason.

It's Time To Start Questioning Alain Vigneault - Blueshirt Banter
Alain Vigneault had gotten a free pass from the media and the fans thanks in large part to the Stanley Cup ride in 2014. Those days are over.

Jack Edwards sings "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" during a fight - Stanley Cup of Chowder
It was weird and wonderful, all at once.

Never fear, while the NHL is shut down, your PPP writers will be working hard in their basements posting FTBs and providing some new content for you every day this week!