Game recaps, Brenden Morrow retires, Leafs raising ticket prices & more in today’s collection of NHL headlines.
Notable Game Recaps.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: Anze Kopitar scored twice, the second in overtime, as the Los Angeles Kings overcame a 3-1 deficit to edge the New York Rangers 4-3.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Sidney Crosby scored twice as the Pittsburgh Penguins doubled up the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2. The victory moves the Penguins within one point of the New York Islanders for third in the Metropolitan Division.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crosby, who at sat outside the top 100 scorers in mid-December, is now within a point of third place in the scoring race.
TSN: James Neal and Ryan Johansen each had a goal and an assist as the Nashville Predators downed the New York Islanders 4-2.
DETROIT FREE PRESS: Goaltender Jimmy Howard made 27 saves backstopping the Detroit Red Wings to a 3-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. The win lifts the Wings back into the final wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Jamie Benn scored twice and set up another to lead the Dallas Stars to a 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Stars also honored former captain Brenden Morrow, who officially retired yesterday as signing a one-day contract with the club.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Morrow played 16 NHL seasons, 13 of those with the Stars. He also skated with the Lightning, Pittsburgh Penguins and St. Louis Blues. In 991 NHL games, Morrow tallied 265 goals and 575 points, along with 1,362 PIMs. He also collected 46 points in 118 playoff games.
NBC SPORTS: Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said he’s never been approached by anyone about taking PEDs. He believes the bigger issue for players is supplements, as what’s accepted at the Olympics is different from the NHL guidelines.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cynics will dismiss Crosby’s comments, and those of the league claiming there’s no issues with PEDs. To date, only a handful of players have been fined and/or suspended for using such drugs. Some critics believe PED usage is more widespread in the NHL, but to date there’s been no hard evidence to support their claims.
CALGARY SUN: Flames star Johnny Gaudreau silenced any talk that he might cut his time short with the club to play for an Eastern Conference club close to his New Jersey home. “I love it out here in Calgary and will be here for a lot of years to come — I don’t think that’s really a problem at all,” said Gaudreau.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect the Flames will re-sign Gaudreau, a restricted free agent this summer, to an expensive long-term extension. He’s a rising young superstar and deserves to be paid like one.
PHILLY.COM: Flyers winger Chris VanderVelde will have a hearing today with the NHL’s department of player safety for a head hit on Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews.
NJ.COM: So far, the New Jersey Devils’ acquisition of winger Devante Smith-Pelly from the Montreal Canadiens has turned into a steal. In seven games with the Devils, Smith-Pelly has six goals and three assists.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As the piece warns, you can’t judge a trade on just seven games. But if Smith-Pelly goes on to become an important player for the Devils, this deal could take some of the luster off Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin’s reputation as a savvy wheeler-dealer.
MIAMI HERALD: Actor Kevin Spacey is expected to attend the Florida Panthers game against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday at the BB&T Center.
TORONTO STAR: Good news for Maple Leafs season ticket holders, as your prices will drop for next season by 2.4 percent. Average ticket prices, however, will increase by two percent.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Remember, ticket prices are determined by what the market can bear. Evidently, Toronto fans have no problem paying the highest prices in the league to watch their favourite team, even when that team has only reached the playoffs once since 2004.
THE GLOBE AND MAIL: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman remains hopeful Canadian hockey fans will watch the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs even if there aren’t any Canadian teams in the postseason.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Believe it or not, a large number of Canadian NHL fans support US-based teams, especially Original Six franchises in Boston, Chicago, Detroit and New York. However, the majority are fans of Canadian-based teams, with most of them supporting the other two Original Six franchises in Toronto and Montreal. When the Leafs and Canadiens aren’t in the playoffs, TV playoff ratings in Canada decline. It won’t be any different this year.