NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 12, 2019
Game recaps, Rick Nash retires, an update on Sergei Bobrovsky, the latest trades and contract signings, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.com: Buffalo Sabres winger Jeff Skinner scored his 30th of the season in his first game against the Carolina Hurricanes since they trade him last summer, but it was the Hurricanes that emerged with a 4-3 win. Sebastian Aho scored twice, Micheal Ferland had a three-point night and Curtis McElhinney made 30 saves as the Hurricanes held on for the victory.
Speaking of Skinner, he joined Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog, Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang, and Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl as the “Last Men In” to skate for their respective divisions in the upcoming NHL All-Star Game in San Jose.
Jake Guentzel tallied a hat trick as the Pittsburgh Penguins rallied from a 3-0 deficit to thump the Anaheim Ducks 7-4, handing the latter their 10th consecutive defeat. Evgeni Malkin had a four-point performance, Phil Kessel had three points and Tanner Pearson scored twice for the Penguins. Earlier in the day, the Penguins announced the re-signing of backup goaltender Casey DeSmith to a three-year extension worth an annual average value of $1.25 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ducks have slipped out of a wild-card berth and are in danger of tumbling out of playoff contention altogether if they don’t snap out of this tailspin soon. Getting Cam Fowler and Rickard Rakell back from injury should help but general manager Bob Murray could be under pressure to do something, be it a trade or a coaching change, to reverse this season-threatening skid.
As for the DeSmith signing, it’s an affordable move by the Penguins to ensure a measure of stability behind oft-injured starter Matt Murray. It could turn into an incredible bargain if DeSmith goes on to outplay Murray and take over the starter’s role, or easily moveable if Tristan Jarry should supplant him from the backup job.
Winnipeg Jets goaltender Laurent Brossoit kicked out 33 shots and teammate Kyle Connor collected three points to lead their club to a 4-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings.
The Calgary Flames overcame a 2-0 deficit to edge the Florida Panthers 4-3. Michael Frolik led the way with a goal and two assists.
SPORTSNET: After 15 NHL seasons, multiple concussions have forced Rick Nash to announce his retirement. A six-time all-star, Nash tallied 437 goals, 368 assists, and 805 points in 1,068 games with the Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Rangers and Boston Bruins. He won the Maurice Richard Trophy in 2003-04 as the league’s leading goal scorer. He captained the Blue Jackets for over four seasons (2007-08 to 2011-12. He also won two gold medals (2010, 2014) playing for Canada’s Men’s Olympic Hockey teams.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A dazzling goal scorer, Nash remains the Blue Jackets’ all-time offensive leader. Those who ran the Blue Jackets during his tenure with them did an insufficient job building around his scoring talent. His playoff scoring stats weren’t as impressive as his regular-season numbers, at times making him a target for criticism. Those concussion injuries often took a lengthy toll upon his performance. With better health, he would’ve been a more dominant scorer.
THE ATHLETIC (SUBSCRIPTION REQUIRED): Following a meeting with Blue Jackets management, coaches and players, Sergei Bobrovsky has returned to the lineup. The club had disciplined him following an incident during a loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday. He spoke to the media following the meetings, acknowledged he allowed his emotions to get the better of him, apologized to his teammates, said the air has been cleared and they’re all moving on from the incident.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m guessing Bobrovsky snapped after he was pulled from the game and verbally lashed out at his teammates. Whatever the reason, the proof of whether he and the club have put this situation behind them will be determined by their play.
DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon apologized for getting into a spat on the bench with head coach Jared Bednar during a 5-3 loss to the Calgary Flames on Wednesday. He said he felt embarrassed after seeing the footage and took responsibility for handling the situation poorly. He defended Bednar and said he and his teammates enjoy playing for him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Good on MacKinnon for owning up to his mistake.
THE TENNESSEAN: Nashville Predators forward Austin Watson publicly shared his struggles with alcoholism and mental illness on Friday. Last summer, he pleaded no contest to misdemeanor domestic abuse and received an 18-game suspension by the league. He said he and his girlfriend, who also struggled with alcohol, are now in a better place, have put the incident behind them, and remain committed to their sobriety.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Watson and his family as they work to improve their lives with the help of the resources available to them from the league, the NHLPA and the Predators, as well as the support of their families.
TSN: The St. Louis Blues placed forwards Tyler Bozak (concussion) and Robert Thomas (shoulder) on injured reserve.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks acquired defenseman Slater Koekkoek from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for defenseman Jan Rutta.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Koekkoek struggled to crack a very deep Lightning blueline. He’ll have a better opportunity becoming an NHL regular with the Blackhawks, whose blueline depth has steadily eroded in recent years.
NBC SPORTS: The Philadelphia Flyers traded center Jordan Weal to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for minor-league defenseman Jacob Graves and a sixth-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.