NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 28, 2019

by | Dec 28, 2019 | News, NHL | 21 comments

Game recaps, Alex Ovechkin to skip the 2020 All-Star Game, injury updates and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


NHL.COM: Boston Bruins center Patrick Bergeron enjoyed his third straight two-goal game in a 3-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres. Goaltender Jaroslav Halak made 26 saves for the shutout. The Bruins played without defenseman Torey Krug, who suffered an upper-body injury earlier in the week. Sabres winger Jeff Skinner left the game in the third period with an upper-body injury.

Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron has scored twice in each of his last three games (Photo via NHL Images).

An own goal in overtime by New Jersey Devils blueliner Damon Severson gave the Toronto Maple Leafs a 5-4 victory. Leafs forwards John Tavares and William Nylander each had a goal and two assists, as did Devils forwards Nico Hischier, Kyle Palmieri and Jesper Bratt. Leafs forward Ilya Mikheyev left the game in the third period with a wrist injury after being accidentally clipped by Bratt’s skate blade. Earlier in the day, the Leafs revealed forward Trevor Moore is sidelined indefinitely with a concussion.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That goal pretty much symbolized the Devils’ season. They played well enough to win this one, only to lose it bizarrely.

T.J. Oshie’s scored in overtime as the Washington Capitals nipped the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1. Earlier in the day, Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin announced he’ll skip the 2020 NHL All-Star Game next month in St. Louis. Ovechkin thanked the fans for voting him captain of the Metropolitan Division, but felt he needs the extra time to rest and prepare for the second half of the season. He’ll receive an automatic one-game suspension by the league.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see if other players follow Ovechkin’s lead.

The Calgary Flames won the latest match in the Battle of Alberta by thumping the Edmonton Oilers 5-1. Andrew Mangiapane had a three-point game while teammates Elias Lindholm and T.J. Brodie had two points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With just four wins their last 15 games, the Oilers have slid from first place in the Pacific Division at the start of December to the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference. The Flames, meanwhile, have won 10 of their last 15.

Chicago Blackhawks goalie Robin Lehner won his first game against his former club in a 5-2 victory over the New York Islanders. He made 38 saves as the Blackhawks are 4-2-0 in their last six contests. Duncan Keith and Dylan Strome each picked up two assists.

New York Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist kicked out 39 shots backstopping his club over the Carolina Hurricanes 5-3. Mika Zibanejad scored twice and picked up an assist while Artemi Panarin scored and set up two others for the Rangers.

The Minnesota Wild tallied three unanswered third-period goals to down the Colorado Avalanche 6-4. Wild forward Zach Parise and Kevin Fiala each collected two points while Avalanche winger Matt Calvert scored twice. Avs rookie defenseman Cale Makar returned to action after missing eight games with an upper-body injury.

Pittsburgh Penguins netminder Tristan Jarry turned aside 30 shots in a 5-2 victory over the Nashville Predators. The Penguins have won five of their last six games.

David Perron’s overtime goal gave the St. Louis Blues their seventh straight win as they downed the Winnipeg Jets 5-4. Tyler Bozak scored twice and Jaden Schwartz picked up three assists. Kyle Connor tallied twice for the Jets.

Three goals within a 1:37 span in the second period enabled the Anaheim Ducks to hang onto a 4-3 win over the Vegas Golden Knights. Cam Fowler and Devin Shore each had a goal and an assist for the Ducks. Nate Schmidt tallied twice for the Golden Knights.

The Los Angeles Kings overcame a 2-0 deficit to edge the San Jose Sharks 3-2 on an overtime goal by Jeff Carter. Martin Frk scored twice for the Kings. Sharks center Joe Thornton netted his first goal of the season. Earlier in the day, the Kings placed forward Trevor Lewis (upper body) on injured reserve.


YARDBARKER: Former Kings winger Ilya Kovalchuk is ineligible to play in the KHL for the remainder of this season.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: Red Wings forward Anthony Mantha is sidelined at least a month with a rib injury.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens forwards Joel Armia (wrist injury) and Paul Byron (knee) are listed as week-to-week. Center Jesperi Kotkaniemi is slated to return to action tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning after missing eight games with a concussion.


  1. All-Star games in any sport are a monumental yawn. I don’t blame any veteran player – most looking for a short break to ease aches and pains – for opting out, especially those who are “voted” in based on long-past exploits and not their current production. Maybe they need an “age clause” that allows any player over a certain age (35+ ?) to say “thanks … but no thanks.”

  2. I see that there are more than a few Bruins fans here and would like to know your thoughts about resigning T Krug to a new contract,,,,,my thoughts he’s a VG offensive Dman especially on the PP his size (5’8” 180 lbs ) limits his effectiveness on the D in his own and he does tend to miss PT due to injuries especially against heavy teams he becomes a target. I hear the Bruins could be in contract negotiations with him, he will be 29 years old before this season ends and his salary now is $5.25 million …….do you resign him and if so for how long and how much …..or do you let him walk , it seems to me with McAvoy not picking up the offense as fast as they thought he would is making this a tough call

    • Joe, I’m pretty much in line with what Caper said, both in term and dollars.

  3. Wasn’t just Krug who didn’t play for Boston last night as McAvoy is also injured and didn’t play. Both dman injuries came against Washington who roughed up the Bruins. The hit on McAvoy was dirty and not one player on Boston did a thing .
    Not getting by the Capitals while sitting Ritchie, Wagner and no Chara or Backes.

    George O just cancel the all star game. Make it a 3 day break

    Joe, you are correct McAvoy with 0 goals has picked up offensively yet and Krug is an excellent offensive dman with very little to offer on the other side of the puck. Personally I’m not giving Krug $7m per season and not offering more then 3yrs. 3yrs at $6.5 per otherwise thank you and good luck.

    • Caper, while cancelling All-Star games in all sports wouldn’t bother me at all, unfortunately there are enough among the various fan bases – especially kids who love to see their “heroes” up close – to make them profitable – or, as one observation says about many forms of entertainment “as long as enough people are willing to accept crap it will be financially profitable to dispense it”

      • Ya guys, can’t say I have watched any recent All-Star game. The other large financial side to this is the NHL sponsors. They get to meet the players, they have their boxes for their big clients and the events surrounding the game. That is who brings in the cake for the cities that host.

    • agree with you on length & $$$ for Krug but doubt he takes that …….looking at their UFA & RFA at season end it looks like if they don’t sign anyone back ( although that wont happen) it would remove $20 million off the books if IM looking at it right. It would allow them to fix the roster where needs to be fixed but they need the young players they drafted the last few years to step up….

      • It’s a tough call for Boston on Krug. If Krug walks and Chara retires, their left side looks thin on the back end. If you are thinking long term offer what Caper suggests, which means he likely walks. Squeeze another year out of Chara to try and work in guys like Vaak.
        Problem is you likely only have a year or 2 left of high productivity in Bergeron and Krecji, then you have another big hole.
        Go for it now, lets the chips fall where they may in a couple years is the most likely scenario IMO.

  4. It is time for the Oilers to make a move. A two man offence doesn’t seem to work and they will be lucky to win their share if changes are not made.

  5. Smitty if I’m Oilers I move anyone I can for anything worth while picks and prospects. Kassian would bring most. Obviously McDavid and Leon and a couple of D man are not going anywhere they have a pile of UFA,s. If Kassian wants to come back than fine they should sign Halak and a couple of half decent players next year and be a better team. I wouldn’t do anything to try to improve this year they are not close enough to win now.

    • Depends Obe. If you can sign Kassian to a reasonable term (3-4) at say $3.5 I think you do it. Otherwise it is just another hole to fill.
      Agree that you don’t do anything with just this season in mind, but they can’t be thinking too far out either.
      Holland didn’t create this mess, but he needs to fix it in a couple years. I think Kassian wants to stay, so work out a reasonable deal and at least you have 1 true W that can play in the top 6.

  6. Obe, they aren’t out of the picture yet, although I agree they can’t stay in the playoff hunt with 2 F doing 80% of the scoring and 2 D worthy of the name.

    Last year, after 41gp, they were 18 18 3 for 39 pts 111 – 126 for a minus 15

    This year, their slight improvement (20 17 4 for 44 pts 118 – 125 for a minus 7) has them sitting in a WC spot just 2 pts back of Arizona (currently 1st in the Pacific) – although the Coyotes do have 2 games in hand). And the Canucks are still in the picture with 42 pts in 38 gp – so 3 games in hand on Edmonton – and are a surprising 124gf 115ga for an aggregate +9.

  7. Jersey was outplayed for most of that game. The difference was which team could screw up the most defensively to lose it and Jersey made the biggest mistake. The only thing that kept Jersey in the game was the Toronto giveaways and there were enough of them. Babcock must be laughing his head off right now watching that game. Dumbass just doesn`t seem to see he`s the real problem In T.O. Overpaid players that play when they feel like it, maybe Shanny will hire Babcock to be the next GM, that would be fitting

    • Well Bob, they are 12 & 4 since the coaching change. They also lead the league in goal differential since the change.
      While I do believe you can’t win in the playoffs in todays NHL without playing good defence (I will change my mind when somebody does it), they can still make a move to change that.
      Would you move a guy like Barrie for a Hamonic or Tanev who are both pending UFA’s? Would the Flames or Canucks do it?
      Maybe the Leafs just need more time to adjust to the new style of play? Plenty of road left in the season and they are winning a lot of games recently.

      • Fair questions Ray but it`s not just one player that`s the problem. It`s the team concept can you win solely by playing offence and lots of turnovers. Oilers won cups with a high octane offence but they had a better defence and I`d take Fuhr over Andersen any day of the week. If it was as simple as trading one or 2 players Leaf fans would be laughing. This team is in a dire need of an attitude adjustment. Yes they`re 12-4 under Keefe but are they a better team, doesn`t really look like it to me. So would I trade Barrie for a more all-round defenceman Yes and the only way you fix the mental mistakes that plaque the leafs is a bigger commitment to the defensive side of the game which is the reason they fired Babs because the players didn`t want to make that commitment. The inmates are running the asylum in Toronto and until that ends Ray they won`t be a better club

      • I agree with the fact you cannot win in the playoffs with offense only.

        What will make it worst for Toronto is if they have to play Tampa in the first round.

      • Those are fair points Bob, the players didn’t look like they were totally committed to team defense under Babcock. Maybe his message got old. His “old school” approach seems to have worn thin. I’m a guy who believes that if you make the kind of money the players do to win games you do what the coach tells you to do to accomplish it. But I’m older and we think differently.
        Methinks it needs to come from the leadership group in the room, and from my vantage point it starts with Matthews. Not the first young guy who takes a while to get it. Yzerman, Ovechkin etc all took time to decide they were going to lead the way. Some guys never do. Matthews is only 21, so this might take a while longer. O Keefe gets him to fast track, who the f**k knows Also big decisions on the blue line coming up after this season.
        Pengy might be right all along, the Leafs should have been working to 2021/22 instead of right now.

  8. If the Penguins are healthy for the playoffs they are a legitimate cup contender. The last time they were the fastest team in the league they won back to back. They have the depth and the talent to go all the way this year again. Even when they are down multiple goals they are never out of the game.

    • The Pens aren’t the fastest team in the league, by a long stretch. They do have some fast forwards though.

      Timely goaltending and an incredible stretch from Rust and Guentzel has been what’s keeping them in the hunt.

  9. Alot of teams wish they were as bad as the Leafs.
    Takes time to build a team. Their defense is learning the trade with the Marlies . Iiligren is 20 ,Sandin is 19.
    I know Dubas doesn’t know what he’s doing the Marlies won the ahl in 2018. conference finals the last 3 of 4 years. Newfoundland Growlers reigning echl champions.
    I don’t think it’s Dubas that doesn’t know what he’s doing or talking about.

  10. I’ve watched a lot of Leaf games they are never out of a game with that offense but boy are they horrible on the defensive side of the puck.