After a week off (which we devoted to a World Juniors preview), the Canadian NHL teams are back for this weekend! Oddly enough though, Hockey Night in Canada is not. Something about “New Year’s Eve”, whatever that is. CBC may be letting us down this Saturday, but there’s still lots of opportunity to watch some Canadian National Hockey League action, with all seven teams on the schedule this weekend. Let’s break it down!
7:00 p.m ET Unofficial Headliner: Toronto Maple Leafs @ Colorado Avalanche
The league’s favourite lightning rod franchise takes on the defending Stanley Cup champions to close out 2022. The Leafs will be hungry to re-prove themselves on the tail end of a road trip that cost them an extra $100,000 for starting two hours early (which, fair enough, the CBA exists for a reason). The Leafs, who have lost just eight games in regulation all season, lost their second to the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday, snapping a three-game winning streak. Colorado also knows the pain of losing to Arizona this week, having done so on Tuesday, and while it is 4-1-1 in its last six games, only one of those wins came in regulation.
The Avs can at least point to the injury front for why they’re sudden underdogs, with Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, Valeri Nichushkin, and Josh Manson being just a few of the names on the mend at the moment. The two teams have yet to face off against each other this season, but last year’s games showed the potential for high octane hockey if all goes right. Toronto won the first matchup 8-3, while Colorado took the rubber match 5-4 in overtime.
10:00 p.m. Unofficial Headliner: Winnipeg Jets @ Edmonton Oilers
If we remember a couple of weeks ago, I finally relented and declared the Winnipeg Jets good enough to be considered good, even if I felt that goaltending was driving the bus for them. After all, Connor Hellebuyck is still a part of the team, right? Anywho, that may have been the kiss of death. Winnipeg did beat the Vancouver Canucks in the ensuing Saturday matchup, but since then it has gone 2-4, with its wins coming against the underperforming Senators and the very same Canucks. Against Seattle, Boston, Washington, and Minnesota, teams actually looking to make some noise, not a point was found.
On Saturday, they’ll get a fresh opponent in the Connor Bowl (TM), as Hellebuyck and Kyle Connor try to get the Jets past Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers. Amazingly, this is the first game between the two teams this year – at this point last year, the two teams had already played twice, with the teams splitting the results (Edmonton would win the final match in February). The Oilers come in with a 5-3-2 record in their last 10, including regulation losses to Vancouver (!) and Anaheim (!!!). The Oilers will be the less-rested of the two sides, with a game in Seattle the night before.
Afternoon Matchup (4:00 p.m.): Montreal Canadiens @ Washington Capitals
The honeymoon period for the Montreal Canadiens is starting to fade. Since a surprising 4-2 win over the Seattle Kraken on Dec. 6, the Habs are without a regulation win, going 2-7-1 in that stretch with their victories coming in the shootout (vs. Calgary) and overtime (vs. Arizona). I suppose this was to be expected – while Martin St. Louis has done a great job restoring the floor in Montreal, and players like Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield have had great seasons, the team is still built like a rebuilding group, at one point having five rookie defencemen in the lineup this week.
They’ll be hosting this weekend’s matinee against the Washington Capitals. The Caps looked relatively so-so going into December, but have really turned it on, going 10-2-2 this month, with two of those losses coming in the first two games. The schedule has been relatively light for them, but still includes wins against teams like Toronto, Edmonton, Seattle, and the New York Rangers. Now that Alex Ovechkin has cleared Gordie Howe’s 801 goal mark, the team is no longer on forced-milestone watch and can just play hockey again, which should help them in a lot of ways. Montreal and Washington have faced off once already this season, with the Caps taking the 3-1 victory on Oct. 15.
Evening Matchup (7:00 p.m.): Ottawa Senators @ Detroit Red Wings
The Senators had nowhere to go but up after their month long dive in late October and early November, but it’s hard to get a feel for where the team stands still. Their record in December has been pretty respectable, sitting at 8-3-2, but the strength of schedule has also been pretty light, with their more serious opponents usually taking the results.
With that said, they face a relatively lesser team on Saturday, taking on the Detroit Red Wings. Detroit has a winning record this year, but combine that with 5-on-5 shot differentials near the bottom of the league. Interestingly, the Wings’ shooting and save percentages aren’t all that abnormal, and their special teams aren’t all that good either. So how are they doing it? Well, most of their wins are squeakers, generally being one-goal affairs that might get padded by an empty-netter or two to make them look closer – fewer than half of their wins have been true multi-goal victories. The Sens so far have the advantage in this season series, winning 6-3 on the back of five special teams goals (three power play, one shorthanded, one shorthanded empty-netter) and a two-goal night for Drake Batherson.
Late Night Matchup (10:00 p.m.) Vancouver Canucks @ Calgary Flames:
I have a very hard time figuring out what to do with the Vancouver Canucks right now. Those who follow me know that I’d like to see this team pivot to selling off and begin to lean all the way in on a tank for local megastar prospect Connor Bedard (who has approximately one zillion points in the World Juniors so far), but the Canucks keep finding ways to win. And by that, I mean they’re 7-4-1 this month, despite just two regulation wins. The losses have been decisive, and the wins at the edge of everyone’s seat.
One of those wins came on Dec. 14 against the Calgary Flames, who they face for the second time this season on Saturday. In that game, the Canucks went up 2-0 in the first two minutes of the first period, only to fall behind 3-2 by the four-minute mark of the second. Sheldon Dries picked up an equalizer off Nils Hoglander’s second assist of the night, and after dragging the game all the way to a shootout, Andrei Kuzmenko got the team over the hump. For the Canucks it was another coin-toss win, and for the Flames, a coin-toss loss – the team is 7-3-4 in their last 14 games, and that game was their third consecutive overtime or shootout loss. Calgary did turn the tides a bit on Wednesday with a 3-2 win over Seattle, and it’ll hope to end 2022 on a high note. Nazem Kadri is a particular player who seems to be finding his groove and I’d be curious to see whether he can pick up his fourth multi-point game in seven nights on Saturday.
Sunday, Sunday, Sunday
Just one game featuring a Canadian team goes down on Sunday, with the Senators taking on the streaking Buffalo Sabres. That’s a tough break for Ottawa, which will be playing back-to-back games to ring in the new year, having to travel in between. Buffalo is having a bit of an “actually good” run right now, matching above-water shot attempt differentials with a 9-4-2 stretch since Nov. 22, including five consecutive wins as of today. The Sabres will also be playing on Saturday against the first-overall Boston Bruins, so the combination might lead to a bit of a hangover game in more ways than one. I’m just saying, this might be a day to either avoid the shot props, or maybe look at the unders.
Where to Watch HNIC Games
Want to tune into these games? Of course you do, that’s why you’re here. Worry not, we’re here to help!
So, as explained above, Hockey Night in Canada isn’t technically a thing this weekend. This means no official free pathway to watch some action. Normally, CBC is multi-platform at no cost and gets you the headliners, but not the case this weekend. You’ll have to rely on the following:
- For the Toronto/Colorado faux-headliner, any regional Sportsnet channel will do the trick.
- For the Winnipeg/Edmonton faux-headliner, you’ll find it on Sportsnet Ontario, East, West, and 360.
- For the Montreal/Washington afternoon game, you can tune in on any regional Sportsnet channel for the English feed, or TVA Sports for French.
- For the Ottawa/Detroit evening game, you’ll need Sportsnet 1, or you’ll be watching in French on TVA. Sorry, Sens fans!
- For the Vancouver/Calgary matchup, you’ll want to check out Sportsnet 1 or Sportsnet Pacific. Tough break for Flames fans.
- Lastly, on Sunday, TSN 5 (Ottawa) or RDS 2 (for the French broadcast) are your options for Buffalo/Ottawa.
If you want to watch online, your go-to is going to be Sportsnet Now, with the premium package specifically required on Sunday. To learn more, check out our “How to watch the NHL in Canada” guide.
Saturday Night NHL Lines
Lots of action is available on all of these games come the weekend. Our friends at NorthStar Bets already have the main lines up – check them out below! You’ll also find all sorts of spreads and props available when you click through.
If you’re looking for another book to bet at, we’ve also got you covered – check out our Best NHL Betting Sites guide for more info!