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AM Skate: NHL, Canucks in Action, Taxi !!, Team Canada & Bedard

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The Vancouver Canucks aren't scheduled to play a home game at Rogers Arena until January 5th.

Thirteen days between NHL games with a six-game winning streak at stake, that’s the reality tonight in Anaheim for the Vancouver Canucks against the Ducks. Vancouver is 8-and-2 in its last ten games while the Ducks are 6-3-and-1. A win for the Canucks and they’d move to within a point of LA and San Jose in their division. It’s the first of three consecutive Pacific Division match-ups on the schedule, essentially meaning they’re all four-point games.

After Anaheim Wednesday night, the Canucks are slated for a visit to the LA Kings the next night and then Saturday, New Year’s Day in Seattle.

In the meantime, how about we go for a spin …

Let’s Skate …

Taxi !!

In case you missed it, taxi squads have returned to the NHL, a necessity last season because of Covid and apparently a part time solution this time around. The NHL and NHL Players Association made the announcement on Sunday.

Up to six players can be named to an organization’s squad “in order to provide Clubs with readily-available Players who can be recalled to the NHL in order to minimize the chances that Clubs have to play shorthanded or games have to be postponed due to pandemic-related issues.”

Many teams have already named them including the Ducks. Anaheim recalled five players for the squad; Jacob Larsson, Vinni Lettieri, Greg Pateryn, Buddy Robinson and goalie Lukas Dostal.

Executives appear confident that the Covid issue as it stands, as the Omicron variant, likely isn’t as dangerous or as long lasting as last season’s version. The taxi squads are scheduled to be dissolved in early February at the start of the NHL All-Star break.

Game On!

Also in case it snuck past you, three games were actually played in the NHL Tuesday night with the Tampa Bay Lightning defeating the Montreal Canadiens in overtime 5-4, the Vegas Golden Knights doubling up the LA Kings 6-3, and the San Jose Sharks nipping the Arizona Coyotes in a shoot-out 8-7.

That last score jumps off the page. The Sharks actually had seven different goal scorers en route to holding a 7-5 lead with time winding down in San Jose. That’s when the Coyotes rallied to score twice in the final 3:09 with Andrew Ladd’s tying goal coming on the power play with Brent Burns in the penalty box for cross checking. Phil Kessel of Arizona tallied four assists.

After all of that, no one scored in overtime and then the shoot-out lasted just two rounds: Sharks Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl converted while Coyotes Nick Schmaltz and Clayton Keller failed to do so.

The Habs and Bolts game featured rosters racked by Covid issues. Corey Perry scored with 20-seconds remaining in regulation against his former team and Ondrej Palat tallied just 36-seconds into OT to hand Tampa their seventh straight home victory. Among the missing bodies, Lightning Head Coach Jon Cooper, out for a second time because of Covid protocol.

The WJC Virus

Team USA, the defending World Junior champs, forfeited its game against Switzerland Tuesday (1-0 the official score) after two American players tested positive for Covid. The Yank’s are scheduled to play Sweden in Red Deer on Wednesday. This outta be interesting.

Meanwhile, in another item from the I-might-be-telling-you-something-you-already-know department, Canada defeated Austria 11-2 on Tuesday in Edmonton to improve the team’s tournament record to 2-and-0. Connor Bedard, the-16-year-old phenom from North Vancouver, became the youngest Canadian player ever to score four goals in a World Junior game.

Enjoy the Hockey Action!!

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