Out of the loop on the NHL's biggest news at the moment? Here's a cheat sheet of the five biggest current storylines from around the league.
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Henrik Lundqvist's job security is dwindling
Henrik Lundqvist has been one of the best goalies in the NHL and a central pillar for the New York Rangers over the past handful of years, but that doesn't mean his starting job between the pipes in New York is guaranteed.
The 34-year-old Lundqvist is off to a rough start this season. His 2.55 GAA and .912 save percentage to this point are both career worsts, though they've been somewhat masked by the Rangers' hot offensive start.
And as a double-whammy for Lundqvist, he's not only been bad, but his backup in Antti Raanta has been phenomenal. In 12 appearances this season, the 27-year-old Raanta has a 1.69 GAA and .941 save percentage.
Raanta has been good enough for the Rangers to bench a healthy Lundqvist for four consecutive games for the first time ever. It doesn't mean that Lundqvist has completely lost his starting job (he's back in net for the Rangers' game on Thursday), but it does mean that New York is present-minded enough to rely on whichever guy they feel gives them the best chance to win hockey games. Right now, that's not Lundqvist.
It's an interesting situation that will be intriguing to monitor the rest of the way in New York. It's also pretty odd for hockey fans in general, as they're typically not used to seeing Lundqvist this dejected until the postseason.
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So, about the Olympics ...
There's still no official word on whether the NHL will send players to the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, but an update this week wasn't exactly positive in that regard.
The league is attempting to reach a decision on the matter within the next few months, and that decision will likely hinge on whether the International Olympic Committee commits to covering the cost of travel and other expenses for players and their families during the Games.
Those costs have been covered in the past, but the IOC reportedly isn't sure if they'll be able to afford it this year. The NHL refuses to pay out of pocket and seems hesitant to let the International Ice Hockey Federation pay at the expense of taking money away from development programs.
Owners are also supposedly worried about their players going overseas and risking injury or fatigue at the Olympics, though that hasn't stopped them from sending representatives for the last five consecutive Games.
Let's be honest here: This conversation probably begins and ends with money. If the IOC pays, they get NHL representation. If they don't, well ... get ready to learn some new names.
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It was a feisty week
I'm not sure if the holiday stress is getting to players, but it sure seemed like everyone was in a feisty mood this week.
To start, Connor McDavid tattled on Brandon Manning and made sure to let everyone know the "classless" Flyers defenseman was on his naughty list this year.
This week also brought one of the more intense and spirited matchups as of late, between the classic NHL rival Bruins and Canadiens. The fierce showdown on Monday saw a slew of physicality (including this huge controversial hit from Torey Krug) as well as late game dramatics and an eventual overtime decision. It'd been a while since a Bruins-Habs game had a playoff feel to it, but this one restored some fire back into the rivalry.
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The Flames are erasing their slow start
The Calgary Flames have proven to be a streaky team this year, but their current hot streak has essentially offset the slow start that sparked some worries out of the gate.
The Flames are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games, including a current six-game win streak. That's one hell of a turnaround from the team that earned just 11 points in their first 16 games to start the year.
They've still got a few issues on defense, but the Flames are surging thanks to strong performances from key contributors. They've got surprising depth in addition to their two biggest superstars up front, Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, who are back on top of their game -- even despite playing away from each other.
Calgary has also gotten some excellent goaltending from Chad Johnson, who entered the year as Brian Elliott's backup. In 18 appearances this year, Johnson has a 1.98 GAA and .932 save percentage, making him somewhat of a saving grace for the Flames after signing on a one-year deal this offseason. (Elliott is at a dismal 3.31/.885 through 13 games.)
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See that semi-smiling man above? That's Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella, and that's about as happy as you're going to see him behind the bench.
Tortorella is a happy camper these days considering his team continues to be the league's most pleasant surprise. The Jackets are currently riding a seven-game win streak and keeping pace with a Metropolitan division that absolutely tearing through the league at the moment.
The Flyers are approaching a double-digit win streak, the Penguins have won six in a row and the Capitals have won five in row. Every team has their ups and downs throughout the year, but it's pretty amazing that so many teams in the Metro are riding hot streaks at the same time.
Eventually these guys are going to have to play each other and knock one another back to earth, but right now that division holds five (FIVE!) of the top seven spots in the league standings.
Godspeed to any team from the Atlantic hoping to snag a wild card spot at the end of the year.