Your midday sports snack.
• Canada’s outdoor showdown with the United States at the world juniors in Buffalo is officially a go. Tournament organizers told the Associated Press that tomorrow afternoon’s group stage game will indeed be played at New Era Field, home of the NFL Bills, despite forecasted temperatures of -6C to -9C. Canada improved to 2-0 at the under-20 championship last night with a 6-0 shutout of Slovakia. The U.S. is 1-0 and plays Slovakia tonight at 8 p.m. ET.
• Former Hurricanes forward Zach Boychuk has been added to Canada’s roster for the remainder of the Spengler Cup. He and his new teammates, each of them a candidate for Canada’s Olympic team, will attempt this afternoon to win the second of their two round robin games in Switzerland. Puck drop against the host club, HC Davos (1-0), is at 2:15 p.m. ET. If Canada (1-0) wins, it will bypass tomorrow’s quarterfinal round and advance straight to the semifinals on Saturday.
• The Vegas Golden Knights set a record for the longest points streak by a team in its inaugural season with a 4-1 win last night over Anaheim. The Knights have earned a point in 10 straight games (9-0-1) to better the mark set by the 1993-94 Florida Panthers (5-0-4). Goalie Malcolm Subban, who was claimed on waivers from Boston just before the season started, is now 9-2-0 with a 2.18 goals against average.
• The NFL playoff scenarios are pretty straightforward for the final week of the regular season. Six of the eight division titles have been wrapped up, three of the four first-round byes are spoken for, and only three teams remain alive that can sneak into a wild-card spot if a team ahead of them falters. The NFL rearranged the schedule this week to make sure all the teams competing for the same slots were playing at the same time to prevent any games from being uncompetitive.
In the AFC, New England (12-3) can claim home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win over the Jets, while Pittsburgh (12-3) needs a win over Cleveland and a Patriots loss to take the No. 1 seed for itself. Both teams play in the 1 p.m. ET time slot. Jacksonville (10-5) and Kansas City (9-6) will occupy the No. 3 and 4 seeds.
The AFC wild cards are easy if the current holders, Baltimore (9-6) and Tenneessee (8-7), win their games. The L.A. Chargers (8-7) and Buffalo (8-7) need to win and need various combinations of losses or ties from the other teams in the wild-card chase. All these games will be played at 4:25 p.m.
In the NFC, Philadelphia (13-2) is locked in as the top seed, but Minnesota (12-3) needs to beat Chicago to clinch No. 2 (although the Vikings can lose and keep the No. 2 seed if the Rams lose and Carolina and New Orleans both win). Carolina (11-4) is the only other team that can occupy the No. 2 seed, which will happen if it beats Atlanta and New Orleans, Minnesota and the Rams all lose.
The Rams will host a wild-card round game regardless of their outcome on Sunday and the Panthers have at least a wild-card spot locked up regardless of their game. The Saints are the AFC South champion with a win; the Panthers can grab that title with a win and a Saints loss.
Atlanta can still claim a wild card if it wins or Seattle loses, while the Seahawks take the spot with a win and a Falcons loss. See the TV listings below for the full slate of games available on CTV and TSN.
• This Sunday — New Year’s Eve — is the 50th anniversary of the Ice Bowl, Green Bay’s 21-17 home victory over Dallas in an NFL Championship Game played with a windchill of -44C. Packers QB Bart Starr scored the winning touchdown on a one-yard sneak with 13 seconds left, validating Vince Lombardi’s call to eschew a potential game-tying field goal attempt. “You can’t say I’m always without compassion,” Lombardi said with a smile after the game. Two weeks later, the Packers braved the warmth of a Miami winter to beat Oakland 33-14 in Super Bowl II.
Bryan Little became the career leader in games played for the Winnipeg/Atlanta franchise last night when he played in his 710th game. Little — who had been tied with Chris Thorburn for the franchise lead — Tobias Enstrom, Dustin Byfuglien and Blake Wheeler are the only Jets left on the current roster who skated as Thrashers.
Little is also only the third current player who is the active and career leader in games played for his team, joining the Canucks’ Henrik Sedin and the Wild’s Mikko Koivu. You also count the seven players who lead Vegas on both lists, with their 35 games played.
Below are charts showing the active and career leaders for all 31 NHL franchises as of Wednesday’s games.
Photos of the day
For the final Hot Buttered Post of 2017, we bring you 17 of this year’s most aesthetically pleasing photos.
• In the years since Michael Lewis published Moneyball in 2003, Billy Beane’s approach to turning the Oakland A’s into a playoff team has proved to be a exemplar of data-driven decision making in sports. So why are coaches, executives and fans still warring over analytics? Like Beane’s A’s, plenty of front offices have used numbers to try to find a competitive advantage, writes Scott Stinson, but no success story has stopped the Todd McLellans of the world from snarking about “nerds.”
• If you live in the Golden Horseshoe and haven’t trekked down to Buffalo for the world juniors … well, you’re hardly alone. Early attendance at this year’s tournament has been dismal, reports Michael Traikos, even for games involving the U.S. and the team from just across the border. Whether it’s a matter of price (the cheapest ticket for Canada-Slovakia went for US$30) or fatigue (two of the past three world juniors were played in Toronto and Montreal), it’s a bad look for an event that has long catered itself almost exclusively to Canadians.
TV this weekend
All times Eastern
2 p.m. Hockey: Spengler Cup, Canada vs. HC Davos TSN2
2 p.m. Hockey: World junior, Switzerland vs. Russia TSN3,5
3 p.m. Soccer: Premier League, Crystal Palace vs. Arsenal SN World
4 p.m. Hockey: World junior, Czech Republic vs. Sweden TSN1,4,5
4:30 p.m. NCAA Football: Camping World Bowl, Virginia Tech vs. Oklahoma State TSN3
7:30 p.m. NHL
— Boston at Washington SN 360, Sportsnet, TVAS
— Montreal at Tampa Bay TSN2, RDS
8 p.m. Hockey: World junior, Slovakia vs. U.S. TSN1,4,5
8 p.m. NBA
— Houston at Boston SN One
— Minnesota at Milwaukee NBATV
9 p.m. NHL: Toronto at Arizona SN Ontario
9 p.m. NCAA Football
— Alamo Bowl, Stanford vs. TCU TSN3
— Holiday Bowl, Washington State vs. Michigan State FOX
10 p.m. NHL: Chicago at Vancouver SN 360, Sportsnet
10:30 p.m. NHL: Calgary at San Jose SN West
10:30 p.m. NBA: Philadelphia at Portland SN One
9 a.m. Hockey: Spengler Cup, quarter-final TSN5
Noon Hockey: World junior, Belarus vs. Russia TSN3
2 p.m. Hockey: Spengler Cup, quarter-final TSN2
3 p.m. Hockey: World junior, Canada vs. U.S. TSN1,3-5
3 p.m. NCAA Football: Sun Bowl, NC State vs. Arizona State CBS
7:30 p.m. NBA: Atlanta at Toronto TSN2
7:30 p.m. NHL: Columbus at Ottawa TSN5, RDS
7:30 p.m. NHL: Philadelphia at Tampa Bay TVAS
8 p.m. NHL: NY Islanders at Winnipeg TSN3
8:30 p.m. NCAA Football: Cotton Bowl, USC vs. Ohio State TSN4 (joined in progress on TSN5)
9 p.m. NHL
— Toronto at Colorado SN Ontario
— Chicago at Edmonton SN One, Sportsnet
10 p.m. NHL: Calgary at Anaheim SN West
10 p.m. NBA: Phoenix at Sacramento NBATV
10:30 p.m. NBA: Charlotte at Golden State TSN2
9 a.m. Hockey: Spengler Cup, semifinal TSN2
10 a.m. Soccer: Premier League
— Chelsea vs. Stoke Sportsnet
— Bournemouth vs. Everton TSN1
— Liverpool vs. Leicester TSN4
— Watford vs. Swansea TSN5
— Huddersfield vs. Burnley SN One
— Newcastle vs. Brighton SN World
Noon Hockey: World junior, Czech Republic vs. Belarus TSN1,4
Noon NCAA Football: TaxSlayer Bowl, Louisville vs. Mississippi State TSN3
Noon NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at Wake Forest CBS, TSN2
12:30 p.m. Soccer: Premier League, Manchester United vs. Southampton Sportsnet, SN One, NBC
12:30 p.m. NCAA Football: Liberty Bowl, Iowa State vs. Memphis ABC
2 p.m. Hockey: World junior, Sweden vs. Switzerland TSN5
2 p.m. Hockey: Spengler Cup, semifinal TSN2
2 p.m. NCAA Basketball: Florida State at Duke CBS
3:30 p.m. CHL: Moose Jaw at Brandon Sportsnet
4 p.m. Hockey: World junior, Finland vs. Slovakia TSN1,4,5
4 p.m. NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl, Washington vs. Penn State TSN3
4 p.m. NCAA Basketball: Villanova at Butler CBS
7 p.m. NHL
— Montreal at Florida CBC, City, TVAS
— Boston at Ottawa Sportsnet
8 p.m. Hockey: World junior, Denmark vs. Canada TSN1,4,5
8 p.m. NCAA Football: Orange Bowl, Miami vs. Wisconsin TSN3
8 p.m. NBA: Cleveland at Utah SN One
8 p.m. MMA: UFC 219 prelims TSN2
9 p.m. NBA: Philadelphia at Denver NBATV
10 p.m. NHL: Los Angeles at Vancouver CBC, Sportsnet
6 a.m. Hockey: Spengler Cup, final TSN1,4,5
7 a.m. Soccer: Premier League, Crystal Palace vs. Manchester City TSN2
11:30 a.m. Soccer: Premier League, West Brom vs. Arsenal TSN2
Noon Hockey: World junior, Switzerland vs. Czech Republic TSN1,3
1 p.m. NFL:
— Chicago at Minnesota CTV (Manitoba and west), FOX (regional)
— NY Jets at New England CTV (Ontario and east), CBS (regional), RDS
— Green Bay at Detroit TSN4,5, FOX (regional)
— Cleveland at Pittsburgh CBS (regional)
— Washington at NY Giants FOX (regional)
— Dallas at Philadelphia FOX (regional)
3:30 p.m. NHL: Toronto at Vegas Sportsnet, SN One, TVAS
4 p.m. Hockey: World junior, U.S. vs. Finland TSN1,3
4:25 p.m. NFL:
— Arizona at Seattle CTV (Sask., and west), FOX (regional)
— Buffalo at Miami CTV (Ontario and Quebec), CBS (regional)
— Carolina at Atlanta CTV (Winnipeg, Ottawa), CTV Two (Atlantic), FOX (regional)
— Cincinnati at Baltimore TSN4,5, CBS (regional)
— Oakland at LA Chargers CBS (regional)
— Kansas City at Denver CBS (regional)
6 p.m. Hockey: World junior, Slovakia vs. Denmark TSN2
7 p.m. NHL: Winnipeg at Edmonton Sportsnet, SN One
8 p.m. Hockey: World junior, Russia vs. Sweden TSN1,3-5
8 p.m. NBA: Philadelphia at Phoenix NBATV
9 p.m. NHL: Chicago at Calgary SN 360
Monday (New Year’s Day)
7:30 a.m. Soccer: Premier League, Brighton vs. Bournemouth SN World
10 a.m. Soccer: Premier League
— Burnley vs. Liverpool TSN4
— Stoke vs. Newcastle TSN5
— Leicester vs. Huddersfield SN World
12:30 p.m. Soccer: Premier League, Everton vs. Manchester United SN World
Noon NCAA Football: Outback Bowl, Michigan vs. South Carolina TSN2
12:30 p.m. NCAA Football: Peach Bowl, Central Florida vs. Auburn TSN1,4,5
1 p.m. NHL: NY Rangers at Buffalo Sportsnet, NBC, TVAS
1 p.m. NCAA Football: Citrus Bowl, Notre Dame vs. LSU ABC
5 p.m. NCAA Football: Rose Bowl (national semifinal), Georgia vs. Oklahoma TSN1,3-5
7:30 p.m. NBA: Milwaukee at Toronto Sportsnet, SN One
8:45 p.m. NCAA Football: Sugar Bowl (national semifinal), Alabama vs. Clemson TSN1,3-5
Hot Buttered Post is served Monday through Thursday. It will return Jan. 2.