NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 21, 2019

by | Dec 21, 2019 | News, NHL | 26 comments

A milestone game for Nicklas Backstrom, another big night for Jonathan Huberdeau and Noel Acciari, plus updates on Jack Eichel, Jason Zucker, Darcy Kuemper, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


NHL.COM: Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom reached 900 points with two goals and two assists in a 6-3 win over the New Jersey Devils. He and Alex Ovechkin were playing in their 900th game together. Ovechkin scored and set up another. Devils defenseman Andy Greene played in his 900th career NHL contest.

Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom reached his 900th career point in a 6-3 win over the New Jersey Devils (Photo via NHL Images).

A five-goal second period powered the Florida Panthers over the Dallas Stars 7-4. For the second straight game, Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau collected four points (one goal, three assists) while teammate Noel Acciari tallied his second straight hat trick. Tyler Seguin scored twice for the Stars while teammate Joe Pavelski played his 1,000th career NHL game. Stars winger Alexander Radulov missed the game with a lower-body injury.

Mitch Marner and William Nylander each scored twice as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the New York Rangers 6-3. Auston Matthews collected two assists for the Leafs.

Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry made 26 saves in a 5-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers. Zach Aston-Reese and Marcus Pettersson each picked up two assists for the Penguins. Oilers stars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl were held scoreless. Edmonton has won only three of their last 12 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers (42 points) have slipped to third place in the Pacific Division. They’re one point ahead of the Calgary Flames, who hold the final Western Conference wild-card berth.


WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel returned to practice yesterday but is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury. It’s uncertain if he’ll be in the lineup for today’s game against the Los Angeles Kings. Center Johan Larsson (upper body) is expected to miss the next two games.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild winger Jason Zucker will miss the next four-to-six weeks following surgery to repair a fractured right fibula.

ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper is listed as week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes will turn to Antti Raanta with Adin Hill as his backup.

TSN: Columbus Blue Jackets winger Cam Atkinson will miss at least the next two games with a lower-body injury. The club also placed defenseman Ryan Murray (lower body) on injured reserve.

The Ottawa Senators placed goaltender Anders Nilsson on injured reserve after he suffered a concussion. Veteran goalie Craig Anderson has returned from injury and is ready to go. The Senators also announced defenseman Ron Hainsey will miss a week to 10 days with a lower-body injury.


  1. Edmonton won only three of their last 12 games !!!

    • Deja vu all over again!

      • Ya, never ending story here in Edmonton. The talk of pursuing a guy like Hall should probably stop.
        Still think they will finish better than last year. They weren’t as good as their start and aren’t as bad as the recent slide. The culture does seem different this year, at least from the outside.
        Playoffs? IMO best if they don’t make for the long term future. They need quality young assets and cap space.
        I am a broken record but this needs to be a 2-3 year plan. No short cuts.

      • George and Ray

        Would I be wrong in saying the the Oilers roster is more impressive than the present roster of the Crosby-less, injury riddled, callup-dashed roster of the team that beat the Oilers last night? Would the Oilers roster compare well even with the group the much more successful Islanders have assembled? I’m wondering if the mystery of Oilers futility goes deeper that what a continuous rebuild with high draft picks can solve. Maybe, they need a drastic change of team-building philosophy.

      • Francis, if you mean rethink their team building philosophy means get better players. Then ya. Does that mean quit making stupid trades. Ya. Does that mean you need to improve both your pro amateur scouting departments? Yep.
        I believe Holland knows this more than anyone, hence the word patience he has been using since he got here. It has been a mess for years, will take years to fix. Draft better, let players develop before forcing them into the NHL, let bad contracts expire so you have cap room to add quality depth.

    • McDavid’s minus-1 game yesterday put him at minus-1 for the entire season. It’s even more astounding that Draisaitl was minus-4 in that game, putting him at minus-11 for the season. So, the Oilers have two of hockey’s best scorers, making a combined $21 million/yr, and both, implicitly, have a negative effect on the team.

      It’s not like everyone else on the team is a stiff, either. Something other than player quality is wrong with that team, bht nobody seems to be able to put a finger on it.

      • Francis S – we mustn’t overlook the fact that, since 2000, they have had 10 coaches with the longest-serving being MacTavish from 2000 to 2009 (656 games). Second was McLellan from 2015-2019 (266 games) and 3rd was Renney from 2010-2012 (164 games). In that same period they’ve also has 37 different goalies for varying stretches ranging from a few games up, including Dubnyk who has had a much better record overall since leaving there.

        Ostensibly, each of those coaches probably had widely varying approaches to the game which couldn’t have made it easy on the largely (with exceptions of course) untalented D-men trotted out season after season.

        No one realizes this more than Holland and I think now he’ll be patient with both his coaching staff and his more promising D prospects. It would also not surprise me to see him trade Draisaitl at some future time as some of the better kids coming in reach RFA status.

      • Oilers traded Justin Schultz to the Penguins. Also, Oilers traded John Marino to the Penguins.

  2. Ray, here are the comparisons between this year and last. As Seep Kills says they’ve won 3 of their past 12 and after 36gp they are 19 15 4 for 42 pts with 111gf 117ga for an overall -6

    Last season, at this time, they had won 5 of their last 12 and were 18 17 3 for 39 pts with 108gf and 134ga for a -26.

    So, an optimist would see some improvement. Sitting 3rd in the Pacific with 42 pts, they currently hold down a playoff spot with WC teams Wpg (also 42 pts but with 2 games in hand), and Cgy (41 pts a game in hand) close behind, and also breathing down their necks are Minn (39 pts with 2 games in hand), Nash (38 pts with 4 games in hand) and Vanc (38 pts with 2 games in hand).

    Looks like a rate race from here on. Strangely enough, they do fairly well on the road with an 11 – 8 – 1 record but need to improve at home where they are a puzzling 8-7-1.

    • George, they are also 12-6-2 with Koskinen in net. Losing record with Smith. GAA and SV% way better with the former as well.
      The narrative last year was Koskinen plays better with fewer games. They may want to test that theory.

      • That is interesting. So, they’re facing essentially the same problem as the Leafs when it comes to back-to-back games, although with Smith, overall, they’re probably better off with his 7 – 9 – 2 record (has Hutchinson registered a win yet?). And to be fair, there are probably a few other teams not putting much trust in their own back-up goalies.

      • Edmonton’s losing slide factors more than a backup goalie. Analyze the Oiler’s team. What team ???? Edmonton signed Draisaitl ( 8.5 mil yr ) play second line center. Draisaitl failed with his own line. Draisaitl now plays sidekick to McDavid. I believe Draisaitl’s contract is not worth ( 8.5 mil yr ).

        George O. , let’s chat about the Leafs. Meadows ( 11.6 mil yr ) , Tavares ( 11.0 mil yr ) , Marner ( 10.9 mil yr ) ; why any of these players not worth their contracts ??? Paying all three players this much money, where’s the money for the rest of Leafs roster ??????????????

        Penguins winger Guentzel’s contract ( 6.0 mil yr ) compare with Marner’s contract ( 10.9 mil yr ) , which contract is a better value ?? just sayin’ !!

      • Speed Kills, ya they have other issues than goaltending. They need another 4-5 NHL quality forwards. 2 that are top 6, or at least close.
        It isn’t that they have a backup issue in net, it’s that Smith has been used almost the same amount of games that Koskinen has. If they used him only 30% of the time, I think the Oil would have a few more wins.

      • Speed kills. On your analysis

        “Um yeah… that is dithgustin ”.

  3. LOL. Not disagreeing with you in any way, shape or form Speed Kills. And just in case you’re relatively new here, and I’m not mis-reading your comment, no one has ever confused me with being a members of LeafsNation.

    I agree wholeheartedly with what you’re saying. All you have to do is look at the Oilers’ stats and see that, after McJesus and his shadow, Draisaitl, their points-producers drop like the proverbial rock (Kassian 3rd best on the team???)

    By “Meadows” I assume you mean Matthews.

    • He meant Tim Meadows.
      At least I think he did.
      Very underrated nonetheless.

      • He makes THAT much on SNL?

      • You can’t put a price on laughter, George.
        He’s worth every penny, imo.

      • Maybe I shoulda scrolled down before making wise.

        You know whose fault it is don’t you?

        It is the fault of the wang.

        I should cut this thing off.

    • Austin Meadows, another professional athlete, Speed typing, wrote Meadows instead of Matthews, too funny !

      • No, no. Leave it as Tim.
        More fun this way.

        He’s great on the Goldbergs spinoff.
        The chemistry with Coach is undeniable.

  4. Don’t be too hard on Edmonton , they have been to the finals in the last 20 years.
    There is more than Edmonton that has had more than 10 coaches in the last 20.
    It’s hard to win.
    Lots of similarities between Edmonton and Ottawa.
    Ottawa had 3 # 1 picks, 2 # 2 picks , and 1 # 3
    No cups
    When they were going good they lost to Toronto 4 times in 4 tries in the playoffs.
    And everyone knows Toronto can’t win a playoff round

    • You can put the leafs in there too, they have had a pile of top picks over the last 20 years

      • A pile? Really? Not a plethora? Come on, man.

    • Sing Johnny One Note. I really hope Santa brings you another topic to discuss.

  5. Oilers first round selections since 2010

    2019 Philip Broberg ( 8 )

    2018 Evan Bouchard ( 10 )

    2017 Kailer Yamamoto ( 22 )

    2016 Jesse Puljujarvi ( 4 )

    2015 Connor McDavid ( 1 )

    2014 Leon Draisaitl ( 3 )

    2013 Darnell Nurse ( 7 )

    2012 Nail Yakupov ( 1 )

    2011 Ryan Nugent Hopkins ( 1 )

    2010 Taylor Hall ( 1 )