NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 11, 2022
Avalanche retake first overall, my reaction to the Oilers firing head coach Dave Tippett, plus the latest on Tomas Hertl’s contract talks and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Colorado Avalanche (70 points) retook first place in the overall standings by holding off the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2. Gabriel Landeskog opened the scoring to reach the 20-goal plateau for the ninth time in his career while Devon Toews had a goal and an assist. Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy made 44 saves and teammate Braydon Point had a goal and an assist. With 66 points, the Bolts sit three points behind the first-place Florida Panthers in the Atlantic Division.
Carolina Hurricanes goalie Frederik Andersen turned aside 34 points in a 6-0 shutout of the Boston Bruins. Andrei Svechnikov had a goal and two assists, Teuvo Teravainen had three assists and Sebastian Aho scored twice for the Hurricanes, who sit in first place in the Metropolitan Division with 67 points. The Bruins (55 points) maintain their hold on the final wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference with 55 points.
The Washington Capitals (61 points) widened their lead over the Bruins for the first wild-card spot by downing the Montreal Canadiens 5-2, spoiling the coaching debut of Canadiens bench boss Martin St. Louis. Washington goalie Ilya Samsonov made 42 saves while teammate Joe Snively scored his first two NHL goals.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens put forth a better effort in this game but weak goaltending and a lack of scoring depth were their undoing. That’s something a coaching change won’t fix. It’ll require a lot of work by management leading up to the trade deadline and during the offseason to address some of their issues.
Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Casey DeSmith turned in a 26-save shutout to blank the Ottawa Senators 2-0. Jeff Carter and Bryan Rust were the goal scorers. Senators goalie Matt Murray allowed just one goal on 43 shots in his first game against his former team since being traded to the Senators in 2020. The Penguins (66 points) remain one back of the Hurricanes in the Metro Division.
The Calgary Flames down the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2, snapping the latter’s six-game winning streak. Jacob Markstrom stopped 46 shots while Flames defensemen Rasmus Andersson and Noah Hanifin each had a goal and an assist. Leafs forward Mitch Marner’s goal streak ended at eight games. The Flames (56 points) vaulted into second place in the Pacific Division while the Leafs remain in third place in the Atlantic Division with 63 points. Leafs forward Ondrej Kase left the game in the first period following a big hit by Flames defenseman Nikita Zadorov.
A five-goal third period carried the New Jersey Devils to a 7-4 victory over the St. Louis Blues. Nico Hischier scored twice and collected an assist while Yegor Sherangovich had a goal and two assists. Blues forward Brayden Schenn replied with two goals as the Blues (57 points) hold the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
An overtime goal by Jakub Voracek lifted the Columbus Blue Jackets over the Buffalo Sabres 4-3.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers yesterday fired head coach Dave Tippett and assistant coach Jim Playfair, replacing them on an interim basis with now-former Bakersfield Condor coaches Jay Woodcroft and Dave Manson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Oilers general manager Ken Holland had to do something as his club sits six points out of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference. While a coaching change can’t hurt, it probably won’t be enough to overcome their porous goaltending and defensive depth and lack of reliable secondary scoring. That’s on Holland, who will face considerable grilling by Edmonton fans and pundits if they miss the postseason.
This is the 11th coaching change by the Oilers since 2008. It’s the first under Holland’s watch but this revolving door of bench bosses was supposed to have come to an end by now. This move also raises concerns about the long-term futures of Oilers superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, and it’s not just coming from the Toronto media.
Speaking of the Oilers, they also announced winger Zack Kassian will miss the next four to eight weeks with a fractured jaw while defenseman Duncan Keith is out for two to four weeks with a concussion.
SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Joe Will, the Sharks acting general manager, is in discussions with agent Craig Oster regarding a long-term contract extension for Tomas Hertl. The 28-year-old center is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No word if the two sides are closing in on a deal but the fact they’re talking over a month before the March 21 trade deadline appears a positive sign for his future in San Jose.
TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild forward Marcus Foligno received a two-game suspension by the NHL department of player safety for kneeing Winnipeg Jets forward Andrew Lowry in the head during a scuffle in a game on Tuesday.
THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: Flyers defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen is listed as day-to-day following their game against the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday.
WINNIPEG SUN: Jets forward Pierre-Luc Dubois and defenseman Neal Pionk have emerged from COVID protocol and will play against the Dallas Stars on Friday.
GOPHNX.COM: The Arizona Board of Regents approved a plan that will allow the Coyotes to play games at Arizona State University for the next three seasons and perhaps beyond if needed. The Coyotes’ lease at Gila River Arena is being terminated by the city of Glendale at the end of this season, forcing the club to seek a temporary home while it seeks approval to construct a new arena in Tempe.