Monday 10: Of Christmas ... and Devils 

December, 21, 2009

Before I dive into the holiday edition of the Monday 10, I have to take a short musical detour. I highly recommend that you check out the video for the holiday song, "That's What Christmas Means To Me," written and performed by Alyonka and Diana Larionov. As you might have guessed, the talented young women are the daughters of former star center Igor Larionov.

Here are three good reasons to check it out. First, it's as good a new Christmas tune that I've heard in quite a while. These gals are talented! Second, there are a few dozen players and coaches (Alex Ovechkin, Patrick Kane, Mike Babcock) that you'll see throughout the video. I particularly liked Evgeni Malkin with his cat. And, finally, the Larionov girls used their song/video to help raise awareness for the NHL's Hockey Fights Cancer charitable effort. That sounds like a hat trick to me. Give it a look and a listen.

Now, here's the Christmas week edition of the Monday 10.

1. Monday's 11: Among a full Monday slate of 11 games, there's a real good one between the Atlantic Division leading New Jersey Devils and Pittsburgh Penguins. While the two clubs each have 51 points, Jacques Lemaire's team holds first place because they've played two fewer games than Sidney Crosby's crew. The Devils lead the season series, 2-0, having scored a pair of 4-1 wins in Pittsburgh earlier in the season. Can they make it three-for-three in the Steel City?

The game should feature a goaltending showdown between Jersey's Martin Brodeur and Pitt's Marc-Andre Fleury. If I were selecting Canada's Olympic squad, Brodeur and Fleury would be my top two stoppers. Brodeur would be my starter, with Fleury working as my No. 2 guy. Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo would be No. 3.

In tonight's tilt, the Penguins should be geared up to reverse the Devils' recent success at Mellon Arena. That probably won't be easy considering the New Jersey's league-best 12-2-1 road mark. And Brodeur likely will be juiced after an uncharacteristically poor performance against the Atlanta Thrashers on Saturday night. The goaltending icon was pulled after allowing three goals on six shots in the first period. The Devils bailed out their star stopper, rallying for a 5-4 win.

E.J. Hradek

Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
E.J. Hradek is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, joining the staff prior to its launch in 1998. He began covering hockey as a writer/editor for Hockey Illustrated in 1989.