NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 24, 2021
Recaps of Saturday’s action, the fallout from the Dubois-for-Laine trade, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price picked up his 350th career victory backstopping his club over the Vancouver Canucks 5-2. The Canadiens (4-0-2) sit atop the North Division with 10 points. Jonathan Drouin had a goal and an assist while Corey Perry scored his first goal for the Canadiens after being activated from their taxi squad on Friday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens completed a successful season-opening road trip with points in all six games. They’re also currently the league’s highest-scoring team with 29 goals.
Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron each scored twice and collected an assist to lead the Boston Bruins over the Philadelphia Flyers 6-1. Charlie Coyle, Nick Ritchie and Craig Smith each had two points for the Bruins, who’ve tallied 10 regulation goals in their last two games after managing just three goals in regulation time during their opening three contests.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A big win for the Bruins, who played without sidelined defenseman Matt Grzelcyk as he remains hampered by a lower-body injury. It was a tough outing for Flyers goalie Carter Hart, who apologized following the game for breaking his stick in frustration following this contest. To be fair to Hart, he and backup Brian Elliott haven’t had much help from their teammates over the last three games.
Defenseman Torey Krug tallied his first goal with the St. Louis Blues as they doubled up the Los Angeles Kings 4-2. Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly and teammates David Perron and Robert Thomas each collected two points.
Winnipeg Jets forwards Mark Scheifele and Paul Stastny each had a goal and two assists while Andrew Copp scored twice to down the Ottawa Senators 6-3. Jets captain Blake Wheeler collected three assists in this contest. Earlier in the day, the Senators placed rookie Tim Stuetzle on injured reserve for an undisclosed minor injury.
First-period goals by Nick Foligno, Mikhail Grigorenko and Vladislav Gavrikov powered the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 5-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins made 30 save for the win.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets and Blue Jackets showed no ill-effects from yesterday morning’s blockbuster trade that saw the Jets ship Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic to the Blue Jackets for Pierre-Luc Dubois and a draft pick. None of the players involved in the deal have joined their new clubs yet. COVID-19 protocols could further delay their arrivals.
SPORTSNET: The Canadian government will decide how long Dubois must remain in self-quarantine before joining his new teammates after traveling from Columbus to Winnipeg on Saturday. The standard quarantine period for travelers arriving in Canada is 14 days but the Jets are lobbying the federal government to have that period reduced by seven days. All seven Canadian clubs would prefer to have that seven-day period, which was similar to the one during training camp.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The rationale behind that request is NHL players live and work under stricter COVID-19 protocols than other international travelers. That includes the requirement for four consecutive negative COVID tests before joining their teammates. It will significantly reduce the wait time for Canadian teams that acquire players via trade or waivers from American clubs.
THE SCORE: Dubois didn’t reveal the exact reason behind his trade request during an interview with Sportsnet’s Ron MacLean on Saturday. However, he indicated Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella wasn’t a factor in his decision. Dubois acknowledged Tortorella is a tough coach to play for but praised his style and never took criticism of his play personally.
Meanwhile, Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen has already engaged in preliminary contract-extension talks with the Laine camp. “We’re going to try to build a long-term relationship with him,” said Kekalainen.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Building that relationship will depend upon how well Laine adjusts to playing for Tortorella and how much the Jackets are willing to invest in him. The 22-year-old winger is earning $7.5 million in actual salary this season and could seek around $10 million annually on his next contract.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars captain Jamie Benn missed Saturday’s practice with a lower-body injury and is listed as day-to-day.
THE NEW & OBSERVER: Jesper Fast has been added to the Carolina Hurricanes’ COVID-19 protocol list, bringing that number to six players. The Hurricanes have had their past three games postponed and their training facility closed as they deal with this issue.
NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks will be playing the first two of their home games in Glendale, Arizona. They’d hoped to return to SAP Center in San Jose for those games but the ban on contact sports in Santa Clara County remains in place.
SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston and Elliotte Friedman report several NHL clubs are looking at moving the 2021 NHL Draft from July to December or January because the pandemic has made it difficult for draft-eligible players to be properly scouted. One solution could be staging a tournament this spring to showcase some of this year’s prospects for evaluation. Any changes to this year’s draft format require approval from the NHL and NHLPA.