Puckdoku is the trivia game sweeping the hockey world. It’s the NHL equivalent of the “Immaculate Grid“, a three-by-three fill-in-the-blank puzzle which originated as an MLB game but quickly spawned variants for all kinds of other sports leagues.
The concept is simple: for each square, try to think of a player who fits into the criteria established by both the corresponding X- and Y-axis labels. For example, Ray Bourque would fit perfectly into a Boston Bruins/Colorado Avalanche square. Patrick Roy would do just fine for Colorado/Montreal. You get the idea.
Of course, it goes a little deeper than that. Sometimes, instead of teams, Puckdoku uses statistical thresholds (“200+ goals”) or career achievements (“Olympic gold medallist”) as categories. Also, if you want to use a Minnesota North Stars player for the Dallas Stars or an original Winnipeg Jets player for the Arizona Coyotes, you can.
Naturally, some players are more useful for Puckdoku than others. Someone like Maurice Richard, who spent his entire career with the Montreal Canadiens, is pretty much useless for the game unless a Habs label happens to intersect with the right statistical category.
On the flip side, players who spent time with several NHL teams are among the most valuable for Puckdoku purposes. And the more obscure the player, the lower (and better) your “uniqueness” score will be. Both Jarome Iginla and Blake Comeau are valid answers for Calgary/Pittsburgh, but one is a little less well-known than the other.
Over the next few weeks, we’re going to spend some time here at Daily Faceoff highlighting three players connected with each NHL franchise who are particularly useful in games of Puckdoku. We’ll continue today with the Boston Bruins.
Teams: Montreal Canadiens, St. Louis Blues, Washington Capitals, New York Islanders, Boston Bruins, Vancouver Canucks, New York Rangers
Considering all he’s accomplished during his 581-game career, Halak remains one of the more under-appreciated goaltenders in recent NHL history. He’s five wins away from becoming the 40th goaltender in league history to collect 300 of them. His .915 career save percentage ranks 25th all time, one spot ahead of Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Bernie Parent.
Halak won’t be going to the Hall of Fame when his career is over, but he’ll be fondly remembered in many of his former NHL cities for his athleticism and playoff heroics. Most notably, Halak backstopped the Montreal Canadiens to an improbable Eastern Conference Final berth in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs, posting a .923 save percentage in 18 games along the way.
After the Canadiens traded Halak to make room for Carey Price, he helped form a strong tandem with Brian Elliott in St. Louis and won his first of two William M. Jennings Trophies in 2012. He then spent a few months with the Washington Capitals before signing with the New York Islanders in 2014.
Halak spent four largely successful seasons on Long Island before heading to Boston in 2018 to form a tandem with Tuukka Rask. He captured his second Jennings Trophy in the shortened 2019–20 season and took over for Rask as the starter during the bubble playoffs, leading the Bruins to a series win over the Carolina Hurricanes.
Since leaving Boston in 2021, Halak has spent one year each with the Vancouver Canucks and New York Rangers. At age 38, he’s currently an unrestricted free agent.
Teams: Boston Bruins, Edmonton Oilers, Montreal Canadiens, Chicago Blackhawks, Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers
The Bruins originally selected Samsonov with the No. 8 overall pick in the 1997 NHL Draft, seven spots after they took Joe Thornton first overall. Although Samsonov didn’t quite match Thornton’s accomplishments in the NHL, he put together a solid career in his own right — and, since he ultimately bounced around quite a bit, he’s a pretty good Puckdoku player. Plus, he actually beat Thornton to win the Calder Trophy in 1998.
Samsonov is best remembered in the hockey world for his years with the Bruins and the Carolina Hurricanes, although he came closest to winning the Stanley Cup as a member of the Edmonton Oilers in 2006. The Oilers acquired Samsonov from the Bruins at the 2006 trade deadline in exchange for a package that included the second-round pick Boston used to draft Milan Lucic; Samsonov scored 15 points in 24 playoff games as the Oilers fell to the Hurricanes in the 2006 Stanley Cup Final.
After leaving the Oilers as a free agent, Samsonov toiled through lackluster stints with the Montreal Canadiens and Chiago Blackhawks before being claimed off re-entry waivers by the Hurricanes in 2008. He quickly rediscovered his scoring touch in Carolina and collected 135 points in 249 games over parts of four seasons with the team before being flipped to the Florida Panthers at the 2011 trade deadline.
Samsonov reached the 70-point plateau twice as a member of the Bruins and won a bronze medal as a member of Team Russia at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Through 888 career NHL games with the Bruins, Oilers, Canadiens, Blackhawks, Hurricanes, and Panthers, he collected 235 goals and 571 points.
Teams: Ottawa Senators, Calgary Flames, Buffalo Sabres, Boston Bruins, Vancouver Canucks, New Jersey Devils
Somehow, Curtis Lazar is only 28 years old. It feels like he’s been hanging around the NHL for 20 years, but he only made his debut with the Ottawa Senators back in 2014. Later that season, during the height of the “Hamburglar” run, Lazar ate a hamburger thrown on the ice at the Canadian Tire Centre in Kanata, Ontario. Gross!
Lazar represented Canada at two World Junior Championships in the mid-2010s, capturing a gold medal with the team at the 2015 tournament. He emerged as a fan favorite with the Senators but was moved to the Calgary Flames at the 2017 trade deadline in the midst of a particularly trying season. After failing to establish much of a foothold in Calgary, Lazar found himself in the AHL for all but one game of the 2018–19 campaign.
Eventually, Lazar found his way back to the NHL as a member of the Buffalo Sabres and was subsequently traded to the Bruins in 2021 alongside fellow Puckdoku star Taylor Hall. Lazar’s speed and workmanlike consistency helped him fit in like a glove with the Bruins, and he parlayed his success there into a three-year deal with the Vancouver Canucks in 2022.
The Canucks traded Lazar to the New Jersey Devils midway through his first season with the team, bringing his total of NHL clubs up to six — and he’s still got plenty of miles left. Even now, he’s a particularly valuable player for Puckdoku purposes.