NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 18, 2021
Panthers, Avalanche games postponed by COVID past Christmas, Paul Maurice steps down as Jets coach, games recaps and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
LATEST NHL COVID-19 NEWS
NHL.COM: Rising COVID numbers have forced the league to postpone the Colorado Avalanche’s and Florida Panthers’ games past the upcoming Christmas holiday break (Dec. 24-26). The Calgary Flames’ postponements have been extended to Dec. 23.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens game against the Boston Bruins at the Bell Centre on Saturday has been postponed due to the Bruins having seven players on the COVID protocol list.
NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom joined teammates Evgeni Kuznetsov and Garnet Hathaway in COVID protocol.
TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs forwards John Tavares, Jason Spezza, Wayne Simmonds and Alex Kerfoot went on the COVID protocol list yesterday.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and defenseman Duncan Keith joined teammates Ryan McLeod and Devin Shore and head coach Dave Tippett on the COVID protocol list.
THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks forward Tyler Motte became the fifth player on his club to enter COVID protocol.
ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes forward Alex Galchenyuk joined Lawson Crouse and Jay Beagle in COVID protocol.
Defenseman Nick Borowiecki is the seventh Nashville Predators player to enter COVID protocol.
THE PROVINCE: Capacity at Rogers Place (the Canucks home arena) has been reduced to 50 percent until the end of January.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fans and pundits are taking to social media wondering if/when the NHL will pause its schedule because of the rapid spread of the coronavirus. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun said the league and NHLPA are in constant communication taking a team-by-team, case-by-case approach as they attempt to get through this wave of infections following medical guidelines. They’re hoping to avoid a league-wide pause which is considered a last resort.
MAURICE RESIGNS AS JETS HEAD COACH
WINNIPEG SUN: In a surprising move, Paul Maurice yesterday stepped down as head coach of the Winnipeg Jets. He’d been in the job for nearly eight years. During his press conference announcing the decision, Maurice felt the struggling Jets were a good team but needed a new voice behind the bench.
Assistant coach Paul Lowry takes over from Maurice on an interim basis for the remainder of the season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cynics will suggest Maurice jumped before he was pushed out of his job by management. Regardless, he handled himself well during his announcement yesterday. He praised the players and never felt they quit on him. Maurice acknowledged the club’s struggles on the ice this season and expressed his belief they could be reversed with someone new as head coach.
Maurice leaves with a solid record as Jets coach (315-223-62), guiding them to the playoffs five times and reaching the 2018 Western Conference Final.
NHL.COM: Speaking of the Jets, they lost their first game with Lowry as coach by falling 5-2 to the Washington Capitals. Alex Ovechkin scored to extend his points streak to seven games while goalie Vitek Vanecek picked up the win with a 40-save performance. Ovechkin is tied with Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid atop the scoring leader board with 47 points while the Capitals (43 points) regained top spot in the overall standings. The Jets (31 points) remain three points out of a Western Conference wild-card berth.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think the Jets players were still coping with the surprising news of Maurice’s resignation earlier in the day. It could take a little time to adjust to their new coach.
An overtime goal by Tanner Jeannot lifted the Nashville Predators to their seventh straight win by downing the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2. The COVID-depleted Predators (39 points) were a perfect five-for-five on the penalty kill and sit one point behind the Western Conference-leading Minnesota Wild.
Jeff Carter’s overtime goal gave the Pittsburgh Penguins a 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. Kris Letang picked up two assists as the Penguins have won six straight. Sabres goalie Malcolm Subban kicked out 45 shots.
St. Louis Blues goalie Charlie Lindgren (26 saves) picked up his fifth straight win as he backstopped his club over the Dallas Stars 4-1. Vladimir Tarasenko scored two goals as the Blues (39 points) also moved within one point of the conference-leading Wild. The slumping Stars, meanwhile, have lost five straight contests.
The Arizona Coyotes squeaked past the Anaheim Ducks 6-5. Clayton Keller scored twice, including the winner in overtime. Hampus Lindholm tallied twice for the Ducks (39 points), who remain one point out of first in the Western Conference.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hands up everyone who thought the rebuilding Ducks would be jockeying for first overall in the conference at this point in the season. OK, put your hands down, you fibbers!
Seriously, though, I’m becoming more convinced to take this club seriously as a playoff contender with each passing game. Their special teams have been terrific thus far, sitting fourth overall on the power play and penalty kill.
Jonathan Marchessault’s shootout goal gave the Vegas Golden Knights a 3-2 win over the New York Rangers. The Golden Knights have won four in a row. Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider each had two points for the Rangers.
IN OTHER NEWS…
TORONTO SUN: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman reduced the six-game suspension of Leafs forward Jason Spezza to four games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Spezza would’ve been able to return against the Vancouver Canucks tonight but he’s in COVID protocol.
Here is a golden opportunity for Sweeney to finally get himself out of the hole he’s in.
And believe that hole keeps getting deeper all time. Swing for the fences or hand in your resignation. Get Hertl or at least take a chance on Kane. I’ll hold a victory celebration at end of the season When ownership finally realizes what a dud this guy really is.
Cool. Who do you suggest he sends to SJ in order to make that happen?
That’s Sweeney’s problem he has to resolve this mess he created.
round up the usual suspects, DeBrusk and Studnicka
a really hard no thank you if I’m SJ …
Anaheim’s rise might make it harder for the Habs to get Madden Jr. and Bouchard into the fold if they are being looked at.
Shocked by Maurice stepping down
He was quite forthcoming and introspective about it
Very good coach
He’ll be back somewhere next year
On another note…,I’m pissed at Omicron…. Doh!
Now the media is saying I should double layer mask 👎🤬💩
more girlie emojies please …
Rutherford would have jumped all over Maurice except that … BB has the ‘Nucks rolling … last thang Van wants is a league wide pause …
If Maurice is not retiring from coaching and there is no behind the scene reason.
How come no one is saying Paul Maurice quit on his team?
He says the team didn’t quit on him; but his quit on them.
He says he’s a good coach? Then prove it bring your team together.
Not a bad thing for Maurice to have left; but, save the grandstanding and saying how refreshing it is to see a coach know when his time is up.
What he said yesterday without these words is “I don’t know how to win.”
Caper, I don’t follow the Jets closely, but I think it fair to say that even accounting for the challenges of losing so many good D a few years ago, they are a team that has consistently under performed.
Game plans suited for a team’s make up will improve chances of winning. But X’s and O’s are left in the dressing room and players have to execute. The Jets have an enviable forward group and a very good goalie. With the talent the Jets have they should have had more success with a trainer opening and closing the bench door.
IMO, the situation is squarely on the players.
LJ, Maurice had a loyalty to a fault when it came to Scheifele and Wheeler.
His deployment of line was questioned as well as giving any opportunities to the young guys on the team.
The system his played was not always to the skill set of the team, line combinations and lineup all fall on him.
Best of luck to him he’ll get another opportunity.
For me I would like to see Ted Nolan get another opportunity.
With ya on Ted Nolan Caper.
Don’t know what went on behind the scenes in WPG, but don’t think was done in a vacuum, meaning I think Maurice and Chevvy have discussed this at length.
IMO everybody respects each other, but it was determined it was time to move on and they agreed. If so, then move on vs hang on and get fired.
Just a guess.
I would agree with that Ray.
We know it didn’t happen overnight.
We need to start “Give Ted a chance” campaign
Ya, would nice to see him get a chance and succeed.
Wonder if he still wants to coach in the NHL or if he has moved on.
That should be Dave Lowry, not Paul. Seriously, no one else noticed that this late in the day?
I liked Ted Nolan but he’s done as an NHL coach.