There are two main things going on in the hockey world these days: the World Junior Hockey Championship, and COVID outbreaks continuing among NHL teams.
For the former, Team Finland with Leafs’ prospects Topi Niemelä and Roni Hirvonen played their second game yesterday against Austria. They won in a rout, with Niemelä scoring his first goal of the tournament late in the game while leading Finland in ice time.
#LeafsForever prospect Topi Niemela with a one-time blast from the point for his first goal and point of the WJC tournament.pic.twitter.com/xIZnk5ECux— Mr. Knies Guy (@brigstew86) December 27, 2021
Matthew Knies and Team USA will play their second game of the tournament against Switzerland today at 4:30 pm EST.
On the NHL front, there were several more teams adding at least a couple of players to COVID protocol. Even with some of the first players who went on protocol before the holidays now being cleared to return to team activities, this led to more postponements. For the Leafs, they had a few of their forwards come out of protocol but the situation is still dire in net and on defense. How dire? They have an ECHL/AHL defenseman who isn’t even on an NHL contract practicing with them.
Hellickson is not officially on the Leafs roster or taxi squad, league gave permission for him to practice today so Toronto could have six D.— Lance Hornby (@sunhornby) December 27, 2021
For now, three more games were postponed, and three games are still set to happen tomorrow. One of them is Tampa vs. Montreal, but both very recently had several players added to COVID protocol so... we’ll see if that one happens at all.
SCHEDULE UPDATE: @NHL postpones three games. https://t.co/F13gTfpOtZ pic.twitter.com/nToE3KsGuw— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) December 27, 2021
Maple Leafs take captain John Tavares out of COVID-19 protocol | by Sportsnet. John Tavares joined Alex Kerfoot, Jason Spezza and Wayne Simmonds on a list of Leafs who are now out of COVID protocol.
Can the Leafs continue strong play following the pause? | by TSN
Leafs Prospect Roundup: Knies, Hirvonen, and Niemelä underway at World Juniors, Amirov back in action | by TLN
Kevin Papetti discusses trade deadline needs, impressions on the Maple Leafs’ first 30 games on Sportsnet Tonight | transcript by MLHS
#Leafs forward Spezza breakdown the emotions of his suspension being reduced to his positive COVID-19 test result. And finding the positives in every situation. https://t.co/jotsGnv66E— David Alter (@dalter) December 27, 2021
AROUND THE HOCKEY WORLD
Jared Keeso’s road to ‘Letterkenny’: How an ex-junior hockey ‘grinder’ became a streaming star | by The Athletic
Five ideas to fix Canada’s sagging minor hockey stats, from Colorado to Nova Scotia | by The Athletic
Lawsuit dismissed against Blackhawks in Aldrich case | by Sportsnet
Flyers place Hart, Brassard and Laughton in COVID-19 protocol | by Sportsnet
Predators place Josi, two others in COVID protocol | by TSN