NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 8, 2021

by | Dec 8, 2021 | News, NHL | 18 comments

The Rangers and Wild extend their respective win streaks, the Islanders snap a long winless skid, Jason Spezza suspended for six games, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


NHL.COM: The New York Rangers picked up their seventh straight win by dropping the Chicago Blackhawks 6-2. Artemi Panarin reached 500 career points with two goals and two assists as the Blueshirts (37 points) moved within a point of the first-place Washington Capitals in the Metropolitan Division. Blackhawks forward Jujhar Khaira was stretchered from the ice in the second period following a hit by Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba. Khaira was taken to a hospital for further testing but Blackhawks coach Derek King said he was up and responsive and wanted to return to the game before he went to the hospital.

New York Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin (NHL Images).

Minnesota Wild goaltender Cam Talbot made 38 saves backstopping his club to their seventh straight victory with a 4-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers, handing the latter their third straight loss. Joel Eriksson Ek had a goal and an assist for the Wild, who sit atop the Western Conference with 37 points.

The New York Islanders snapped a 12-game winless skid by beating the Ottawa Senators 5-3. Anders Lee tallied twice for the Islanders while Oliver Wahlstrom had a goal and an assist. Alex Formenton had a goal and an assist for the Senators.

Morgan Rielly collected four assists and Auston Matthews scored twice to extend his goal streak to seven games as the Toronto Maple Leafs held off the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-4. Oliver Bjorkstrand scored two goals for the Jackets. The Leafs played without Jason Spezza after he received a six-game suspension by the NHL department of player safety for kneeing Winnipeg Jets defenseman Neal Pionk. Winger Mitch Marner (shoulder) and defenseman Rasmus Sandin (knee) also missed this game. Marner is sidelined for three-four weeks. Sandin’s knee suffered no structural damage but will need time for the swelling to subside.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Spezza had no history of fines or suspension in his NHL career. He reportedly intends to appeal his suspension. He deserved punishment for his dangerous retaliatory hit on Pionk but this seemed unduly harsh given his previously unblemished record.

The Carolina Hurricanes blew a 2-0 lead but rallied to double up the Winnipeg Jets 4-2. Sebastian Aho and Jaccob Slavin each had a goal and an assist for the Hurricanes. Carolina defenseman Ian Cole was ejected for a knee-on-knee hit on Jets center Mark Scheifele, who was uninjured. The Jets played without defenseman Neal Pionk, who received a two-game suspension by the NHL department of player safety for kneeing Leafs defenseman Rasmus Sandin. Pionk is also in concussion protocol.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pionk had no history of fines or suspensions before this. Leafs fans are wondering why he got just two games while Spezza got six. The fact he was sidelined by a concussion from Spezza’s hit probably factored into it though Sandin was injured by Pionk’s hit in the first place.

Pavel Buchnevich’s overtime goal lifted the St. Louis Blues over the Florida Panthers 4-3. It was a costly win for the Blues as goalie Ville Husso left the game with a lower-body injury and defenseman Jake Walman suffered an upper-body injury. The Blues were already playing without starter Jordan Binnington, who is in COVID protocol. Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov scored in his first game since being sidelined on Nov. 16 by a knee injury.

The Anaheim Ducks got a 25-save shutout by Anthony Stolarz to blank the Buffalo Sabres 2-0. Ducks forwards Trevor Zegras made a lacrosse-style pass from behind the net to Sonny Milano for the game-winner. The Sabres have lost five straight while the Ducks (33 points) move within two points of the Calgary Flames for first place in the Pacific Division.

Speaking of the Flames, they blew a 3-1 lead to fall 5-3 to the San Jose Sharks. Tomas Hertl led the way for the Sharks with a hat trick while Adin Hill made 40 saves for the win. Struggling Sharks forward Kevin Labanc was a healthy scratch from this game.

Roman Josi, Ryan Johansen and Dante Fabbro each had a goal and two assists to power the Nashville Predators over the Detroit Red Wings 5-2, snapping the latter’s five-game win streak. The Predators played without goaltender Juuse Saros and defenseman Mattias Ekholm as both are sidelined by a non-COVID illness.

Two late third-period goals by Corey Perry and Ondrej Palat lifted the Tampa Bay Lightning over the Montreal Canadiens 3-2. The Lightning has won four straight games. Nick Suzuki had a goal and an assist for the Canadiens.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens did almost everything right in this game except win. That’s the way this season is going for the hapless Habs. They rarely win even when they play well.


THE WASHINGTON POST: The Capitals have canceled today’s practice as part of their extra precautions after three players (Nic Dowd, Garnet Hathaway and Trevor van Riemsdyk) wound up on COVID protocol. No players tested positive yesterday.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers claimed defenseman Kevin Connauton off waivers yesterday from the Florida Panthers.

SPORTSNET: The Tampa Bay Lightning claimed forward Riley Nash off waivers from the Winnipeg Jets. The Oilers placed forward Brendan Perlini on waivers.

Former NHL goaltender Devan Dubnyk has signed a professional tryout offer with the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers.


  1. IMO the Spezza hit did warrant a longer suspension than Pionk got. I don’t think Pionk was trying to injure anyone on the knee on knee play; I think he was getting beat to the side and made a bad reactionary play. Suspension worthy, sure, because they can’t have that play be a part of the game.
    Spezza, however, was absolutely attempting to injure Pionk (and apparently was successful). Spezza’s history aside, blatant attempts to injure another player need to be dealt with more harshly.

  2. Here we are again; as Pengy has mention several times, Consistency.

    I don’t know what to think of the Spezza suspension, first time being suspended over a long career.

    6 seems high to me; the issue is when you go up against Perros you just don’t know what the result will be.

    He doesn’t appear to have any guidelines for any incidents or what he has already handed out.

    The appeal will be interesting to watch, i don’t believe Bettman will change it so it will have to proceed to the next step.

    • The problem with that Caper is that by the time it gets to the next step, he will have served most of his suspension. Unfortunately for Spezza and the Leafs not much they can do about it.
      Agree with DM, those knee on knee hits are usually a reaction play, but can’t let them slide either. And ya, Spezza should get more than Pionk, but 6 seems harsh for fist time offender especially with that game getting out of control due to officiating.

  3. I guess I wasn’t paying too close attention to overall standings before…. Rangers now top dog (winning percentage) in League…. Is Drury going to get credit for the team that Gorton built?

    Re Spezz/Pionk…. 2 Pionk proper. Spezz deserved more…. But first time offender getting 6…. No… again this is the consistently inconsistent Parros…. NOTE…. he gives Spezz 6; and Ovi and Wilson collectively have zero this year. Between them there are at least 6 times this year alone warranting at least 2 games each time (and if any had been given, second offences, 3rd offences …..even more games)

    No suspension on McD the other day; no suspension on Sid a couple of weeks ago. Ovi always walks away unsuspected.

    I am confident that if Parros had given suspensions out toSid, McD, Ovi…. Clear message sent… nobody free and clear… offences then overall start to wane

    Instead… the consistently inconsistent has slew foots on the rise; and Wilson one (almost inevitable) head shot away from seriously injuring a player; or worse, ending a career, or heaven forbid, ending a life

    Gary… please fire Parros; get somebody in there that doesn’t use Tarro cards or magic 8 balls to decide who gets punished and by how much

    Hope Spezz appeals…. 4 games proper

    Pens play Caps next… Sid needs to have eyes in the back of his head as Wilson and Ovi will be coming (full tilt from 20 plus feet away) elbows high…. With smiles on their faces

    • Pengy, agree with a lot of what you post, but McDavid play shouldn’t have been a suspension based on the fact that it never is one, and yes Ovie has had a few this year already that were worse. Why pick on him? I don’t like those hits either, but that is on the lower end of those that don’t get suspended. He got 5 and the game, as he should have which is worse than Ovie gets.

      I also don’t get why some folks thinks Sid should be suspended for that play? That was nothing. What Dubois did to Matthews was way worse than that, and they both got a minor. Dubois should have gotten 4 or Matthews nothing, but Leafs should have got a PP.

      What Sid did wouldn’t make the top 200 dangerous plays this year IMO. I don’t get the uproar over that one.

      Tell me I’m wrong.

      • Hi Ray

        If I’d have said nothing for Sid… readers here would say I’m biased

        The big issue is inconsistency …. Needs to be clamped down

        Subjectively…. Sid for a game…. Meh

        But… if Sid were to have got a game for that… massive wake up call for league…. I was suggesting the Sid sacrifice… or after that…McD sacrifice

        McD suspension for what he did… compared to Ovi…. agree… nothing

        Ovi gets away with copious amounts… that he wasn’t suspended for at least 4 games after the Ottawa game floored me… he benefitted from hitting a big man that didn’t get injured

        But Ovi (not suspended) canNOT be the precedent. Wilson unsuspended canNOT be the precedent

        Mark my words…. Unless Wilson is made accountable… he could end a career (or life)

        Clamp down; be consistent…. That’s what is needed… and Parros is in no way up for the task

        He is a clown show

        Not in his control is the max fine (w/o suspension)…. Those making the huge bucks can slew foot or high stick and get (without suspension) the max $5K …. a player making $10 M (well more than 100 times the average citizen)…. so proportionately like giving the average citizen a $40 fine…. Not much of a deterrent (cite PK)

        That fine rule (in nextCBA) should be addressed…. Make it a max of X% of overall remuneration

        $5 K to League min guys (including Spezza) is much more of a hit than $5K to Ovi, McD, AM, Marner etc etc

  4. I don’t understand Spezza’s thinking here. If he was so upset at Pionk why not just challenge him to fight? He’s bigger than Pionk and might have exacted his revenge in a more, in hockey terms, acceptable way and not penalized for 6 games. I’d give him 3 games for the hit and 3 games for being dumb about it.

    • “I don’t understand Spezza’s thinking here.” is an understandable thing to say. Let’s not forget how bad this game was officiated. If they called the game correctly, not just the obvious knee on knee hit, the Spezza incident would not of happened. BTW no penalty call on either hit, remarkable I know.

      As for Parros, I wouldn’t put it pass him that he uses a big dice to determine the number of games. Crappy player being a crappy exec. Who knew?

      • I think some might even accept a roll of the dice…. Neutral and fair… LOL

        He tends to favour some (Ovi and Wilson) then throw the book at a first time offender

        Spezz… fully agree…. doing the pugilist challenge would have been appropriate…. He was not level headed… acted maliciously and inappropriately…. 3 games proper… 6…. Parros again out to lunch

        Ovi went full tilt from 6 feet away; jumped; used all of his 240 lbs of weight and massive inertia; hit from behind (full numbers)… tried to put player through corner boards and into the parking lot…. N O T H I N G

        Wilson…. Ditto… rinse …. Repeat

        I’m not looking forward to theCaps/Pens match up…. Can almost guarantee a Wilson or Ovi or Hathaway attempt to concuss (or worse) Guentzel (Pens top scorer) and send him to LTIR for weeks (months??)

        Then Parros calls Ovi or Wilson or Hathaway… “listen, I thought we talked about this? By the way, did you get my Christmas card? Oh, and you gotta check out Squid Game…. awesome!!. I’m thinking $5K and your on warning (again)…. Can you live with that?”

      • “You should at least send Guentzel a get well card… he’ll read it after he is out of the coma”

      • Almost everything I want to say is already said. I have no issues with suspensions if they are consistent. Should the ref’s be suspended for lacking game management skills? Thats what it is a lack of game management and awareness.

        One name I don’t see mentioned is Subban, his slew foot antics this year are beyond comprehension.

  5. Carolina was the better team and deserved the win.

    The rule book needs some work. Helly had the puck under control against his pad while in the blue paint, the league considered a 50/50 puck (also fine). Aho pushed on Helly’s pad, near his knee and not at the puck until Helly spun 90%, then went after the puck. Because the puck was in the crease and was not 100% secured it was ruled OK that Aho pushed Helly even though not attacking the puck directly.

    • You’re not wrong, 2.0. But part of the problem is that they don’t explain it. Just ‘good goal’.

      Maybe they deemed Hellebuyck didn’t have control.
      Maybe they ruled Aho wasn’t in the crease.
      maybe they ruled Aho didn’t interfere.
      Maybe some other thing?

      We’ll never know, and that’s what causes the confusion.
      (for the record, I’m not convinced that the puck was under Hellebuyck’s control, but I’m horribly biased)

      This also ties in to the Parros discussion. The suspensions seem to be pulled from a hat. Re: Spezza: maybe if Parros said “3 games for the knee-on-knee and 3 more because it was clearly retaliatory”, maybe more fans would be on board.

      The lack of explanations in both cases is aggravating, and is only making their jobs harder.

    • That play is being dissected incorrectly in my opinion.
      Let us say that it was a shot from the slot or the point and Aho’s stick jabbed Hellebuyck’s pad and spun him around before the puck went in the net, would goaltender interference be called?
      Of course it would.

      • You are correct and we are kind of saying the same thing.

        The league ruled that the puck was loose enough to be in play – I agree. Aho repositioned Helly with enough force to show bend on his stick and then attacked the puck with second effort and scored.

        The ruling was that Hellebyck had his chance to play the puck and lost the puck battle. The full interview with Helly explains his perspective and he is much more objective about it than I am or could be. Apparently he spend some time on the competition committee and discussion about a situation like this has happened before.

  6. I sure hope Trouba doesn’t get suspended. That was a good hit last night.

  7. Habs played a good game last night and deserved better but losing Dvorak for the third period.

    An already depleted lineup got weaker.

    On the plus side, the coaching staff made a few tweaks that the players bought into.

    SCF were only a few months ago and only 7 players from that series were in the Habs lineup last night.

  8. Re “ Former NHL goaltender Devan Dubnyk has signed a professional tryout offer with the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers.”…

    Pens should have tried to sign him…. league min…. No risk… high potential reward