NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 15, 2023

by | Feb 15, 2023 | News, NHL | 30 comments

The Bruins become the first club to reach 40 wins this season, the Devils become this season’s first club to reach 20 road wins, the Blue Jackets scratch Vladislav Gavrikov for trade-related reasons, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: The Boston Bruins are the first team this season to reach the 40-win plateau as they nipped the Dallas Stars 3-2 on David Pastrnak’s overtime goal. Pastrnak and Pavel Zacha each had a goal and an assist as the Bruins (40-8-5) sit atop the overall standings with 85 points. Jason Robertson and Joe Pavelski each had two points for the Stars (30-14-11) as they sit on top of the Western Conference with 71 points.

Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak (NHL Images).

Ryan Graves’ goal with two seconds remaining in the third period lifted the New Jersey Devils over the Columbus Blue Jackets by a score of 3-2. Vitek Vanecek made 31 saves for the 35-13-5 Devils as they became the first team this season to win 20 road games as they sit third in the Eastern Conference with 75 points. Johnny Gaudreau scored for the Blue Jackets as they slipped to 16-34-4.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blue Jackets played without Vladislav Gavrikov as the defenseman was a healthy scratch for trade-related reasons. The Hockey News’ Adam Proteau weighs in on this latest trend of teams holding players considered trade candidates out of the line, suggesting it shouldn’t be for any longer than a week.

The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Washington Capitals 3-2 with Stefen Noesen snapping a 2-2 tie in the second period. Hurricanes goalie Frederik Andersen made 13 of his 34 saves in the third period as his club improved to 35-10-8 and sit second in the Eastern Conference with 78 points. Joe Snively had a goal and an assist for the Capitals (28-22-6) as they slipped down into the final Eastern wild-card berth with 62 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals played without captain Alex Ovechkin as he’s taken a leave of absence to deal with a family matter and the death of a loved one. He will miss the club’s Stadium Series against the Hurricanes on Saturday.

Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Casey DeSmith stopped 38 shots while Sidney Crosby and Rickard Rakell each had three points in a 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks. Jake Guentzel also scored twice for the Penguins (27-17-9) as they vaulted over the Capitals into the first Eastern Conference wild-card spot with 63 points. Timo Meier replied for the 17-27-11 Sharks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sharks winger Kevin Labanc revealed his father, Milan, had been in a medically induced coma for over two months after falling from a ladder while hanging Christmas lights during the American Thanksgiving weekend. Labanc said his father is now out of the woods and recovering. That explains why the winger’s on-ice performance has suffered in recent weeks leading to his being a healthy scratch in eight of the Sharks’ last 10 games.

The Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Colorado Avalanche 4-3 on a shootout goal by Steven Stamkos. Andrei Vasilevskiy turned aside 43 shots for the 35-16-2 Lightning as they moved past the Toronto Maple Leafs into second place in the Atlantic Division with 72 points. Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and an assist for the 28-19-5 Avalanche as they cling to third place in the Central Division with 61 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche played without defenseman Erik Johnson as he’s sidelined indefinitely with a lower-body injury. He joins Cale Makar (head injury) and Josh Manson (lower body) among injured Avs blueliners though Manson could return to action for Wednesday’s game against the Minnesota Wild.

Winnipeg Jets center Pierre-Luc Dubois scored the game-tying goal and tallied in the shootout in a 3-2 victory over the Seattle Kraken. David Rittich made 27 saves for the Jets as they improved to 34-19-1 and sit two points behind the Western Conference-leading Stars with 69 points. Philipp Grubauer stopped 38 shots for the 30-18-6 Kraken as they’ve dropped four of their last five games and sit third in the Pacific Division with 66 points.

Ottawa Senators goalie Kevin Mandolese kicked out 46 shots in his NHL debut to backstop his club over the New York Islanders 3-2. Tim Stutzle and Drake Batherson scored in the shootout as the Senators improved to 26-24-3 (55 points) to sit seven points out of the final Eastern wild-card berth. Ilya Sorokin made 32 saves for the Islanders (27-23-7) as they sit one point behind the Capitals with 61 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Islanders center Jean-Gabriel Pageau missed this contest as he’s listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

The St. Louis Blues kept their playoff hopes alive with a 6-2 victory over the Florida Panthers. Ivan Barbashev had a goal and two assists while Brayden Schenn tallied twice for the Blues (25-25-3). With 53 points, they’re eight points behind the Wild for the final Western Conference wild-card berth. The Panthers dropped to 27-24-6 and sit two points out of the final Eastern wild-card spot with 60 points.

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jake Allen picked up his first shutout of the season with a 22-save performance to blank the Chicago Blackhawks 4-0. Jonathan Drouin collected three assists for the 23-27-4 Canadiens while the Blackhawks dropped to 16-31-5 on the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens played without Arber Xhekaj as the rookie defenseman is out indefinitely with an apparent shoulder injury. Blackhawks blueliner Jarred Tinordi left the game in the first period with an undisclosed injury.


VANCOUVER HOCKEY INSIDER: Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko denied rumors claiming he wanted to be traded. He said he had no idea where the speculation was coming from. Sidelined by a lower-body injury since early December, Demko said he’s focused on returning to action when he dresses as the Canucks backup in their game on Saturday against the Philadelphia Flyers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Demko rumors probably started innocently enough with a pundit musing over whether the Canucks might consider moving the netminder despite the three years remaining on his contract. Like the game of “Telephone”, the story changed as it bounced around the media and blogosphere and eventually morphed into Demko requesting a trade.

THE PROVINCE: Speaking of the Canucks, goaltender Spencer Martin cleared waivers yesterday and will be assigned to their AHL affiliate in Abbotsford, BC.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: The Red Wings placed winger Lucas Raymond on injured reserve and recalled winger Jakub Vrana from their AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vrana’s future with the Wings was considered in doubt after he was demoted to the minors. Recent speculation even suggested we would never see him skating with the parent club again as talk of a trade or a contract buyout surfaced in the rumor mill. This is a golden opportunity for Vrana to silence his doubters and prove he still has a future in Detroit.

A TO Z SPORTS’ Alex Daugherty cited Nashville Predators general manager David Poile telling the “Robby & Rexrode” Show that he doesn’t believe his club will be a buyer by the March 3 trade deadline. He suggested he could become a seller if things don’t improve favorably for his struggling club.


  1. We are not sure what the Wings have in mind for Vrana. Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press speculatesthat Vrana’s all up is merely toshowcase him for a potential trade, which is possible. Others suggest that his extended stay in Grand Rapids was intended to make sure that he was over whatever issue that caused him to enter the assistance program, show that he still has some fire in the belly, and is willing to play a complete 200 ft game that is needed for team success. Personally, I hope he succeeds here and stays, and becomes the scoring sniper that the Wings need.

    • The Avalanche need to focus on their puck management, costing them big-time this year but they need to keep bringing it every night like they do despite the injuries? I expect them to bring it tonight against the Wild. It’s amazing actually they are where they are at this point of the season. They must have given away between 10-12 points in the standings this year just based on mismanagement of the puck. Gotta move forward, GO AVS!!!

  2. Watching the Habs-Hawks game last night, it seems that Patrick Kane is going through the motions. Whether it’s a trade before the deadline or signing elsewhere as a UFA this summer, it’s obvious that he’s not long for Chicago. It’s best for all involved that he move on.

    • I noticed the same Howard , man did he ever look disinterested.

    • I agree Howard. I could not watch yesterday’s game, but have watched multiple Chicago games this season. And two things gs are obvious – one, that Father Time has started the process of deteriorating Kane’s skills just a little, and two, that he is not “all-in” for the Hawks.

    • He was dejected by the Rangers for picking Tarasenko over him.
      Plus he is apparently playing with a hip injury.

      • I was going to say the exact same thing about Rangers. Dejected is exactly how he came across. I think it was a bruise to his ego to realize that New York was not willing to bow to his whims.

        (Sorry for my bias… I am not a Kane fan hehe.)

      • Kane was in no way in direct talks with NY. So it had nothing to do with NY meeting any of his demands.

        It’s been reported since shortly after the Tarasenko trade that NY was very interested in Kane, but had serious concerns on that hip issue and moved on n to Tarasenko.

        To my knowledge, Kane has not officially asked or been asked to waive his nmc?

        I’ve never heard a word of Kane being a difficult guy to deal with, I think you’re letting your bias run wild on this one.

      • @ Captain Obvious… I was not referring to any specific demands not being met. I was pointing out that he seemed to be making the assumption NY would wait to hear his decision about whether he wanted to be traded or not. The Rangers moved on.

  3. Kane also stated some poor asset mgr by the hawks with the young players. Like Dach. As well as no returns for players that aerate ufa like Strome etc. will be interesting to see where he ends up

  4. New Jersey should have crushed the Jackets, last night. That the Jackets were in the game til the end is evidence that, were it not for a devastating number of injuries, they could have been a cusp team, this season.

    • Paul, there are a lot of good young players getting their professional baptism by fire at the top level, and learning and improving as they go along, with Voracek, Nyquist, Bean, Danforth, Chinakhov, Meyer and, above all, Werenski on the sidelines.

      Kind of like Ottawa with both goalies out as well as Norris and Sanderson – although in their case I wish they were allowing Bernard-Docker and Thompson to develop at the top level instead of playing veterans like Holden and Hamonic, both of whom are likely gone as UFAs anyway.

      One thing for sure, all things being equal I don’t see Columbus being doormats next season. Especially if they can luck out and get the # 1 pick.

      • The best way to develop d-men is to let them over-ripen in the minors. Let the UFA vets get the ice time for the rest of this season. Then in training camp let the young defencemen take over.

      • George , first off you must have been pleased with the Mandolese performance last night. Funny how when an inexperienced NHL goalie starts his teammates back check a little bit harder.
        Secondly I believe one of Hamonic, Holden will be gone come TDL , good probability both will be dealt. Then the Belleville crew get another shot.

      • I noticed the Sens brought up Larsson last night to replace Holden. He was a definite improvement over Holden. Skated well and carried the puck out of the zone a few times. Mandolese played really well, particularly with all the shots he faced.

        Stützle continues to excel. He’s been involved in the last 6 goals Ottawa has scored and also scored in the shoot-out.

        Brännström also looked good last night, as did Zaitsev (again).

        Very good Ottawa team effort, particularly since it was the second game of a back to back.

    • IMO out of all the bottom teams, either the Blue Jackets or Canadians would be the best for Bedard. Both teams have a great young supporting cast already in place for him to succeed from the start. Bedard between Gaudreau and Lowry would be a scary line.
      IMO the worst team would be the Coyotes. It seems they have trouble developing talent.

      • Sorry, Laine, not Lowry.
        I have no idea what I was thinking.

      • Yuck. I’d prefer neither get Bedard.

    • Paul , the biggest surprise for me with the Jackets is the drop off in production from Sillinger. Sophomore jinx ?? With Johnson, Marchenko, Chinakhov + Sillinger they have a good young group of forwards. Hopefully Texier can make a return next year as well.

      • Ya, I think CLB will be back in the med to long term as well Fergy, have to agree. The 2 D they drafted in the first half of RD 1 last year are grade A prospects as well.
        Should get a very good player at the draft this year as well, maybe more than one depending what they get back at the deadline for picks.

      • Yep , for sure Ray add Ceulmans to those 2 and you have a decent stable to pull from. Not to mention a healthy Werenski next year as well.
        They do need Elvis and or Tarasov to regain their form. Merzlikins seems to be pulling a Bobrovski.

  5. COYOTES .. $18 million under cap space … DUCKS $14 million under cap space ….Why ?

    • They’re both over the cap floor and both carrying 23 man rosters, I say why not? Neither is making a push for anything.

      • Fans that pay the big ticket prices must be happy

      • Why spend more $ than you have to when you are tanking?

      • Actually, in a way, seeing how Arizona approaches the trade deadline and then the off-season could be one of the more interesting things to keep an eye on.

        Barely above the cap floor, the perpetually-injured Ladd and his $5.5 mil cap hit come off the books at season’s end, which, in itself, will drop them below the cap floor. But before then, if they deal Chychrun and his $4.6 mil cap hit, along with – perhaps – pending UFAs Nick Bjugstad ($900,000 – 13g 10a 23 pts and a +7 – one of the few on the team – in 54gp) and D-man Gostisbehere ($4.5 mi – 9g 20a 29pts and a -8 in 54gp), there will have to be cbig enough contracts coming back just to keep them above the floor this season!

        Their other UFAs – Nick Ritchie $2.5 mil – 9g 12a 21 pts and a -14 in 54gp and RD Stecher – $1,250,000 – 0g 5a 5pts and only a -1 in 54gp – could also be dealt.

      • Idk Joe,

        I’d prefer a team be under the cap and be awful than over the cap and awful.

        Is it more palatable to see Montreal at 96 million (grossly over the cap) or Vancouver 87 million at the bottom of the standings than it is to see Anaheim, Arizona etc?

        Should they be signing bad contracts just to reach the floor? It’s not like there are great players out there waiting to be signed. So they’d be giving pto Ty ole players 6 million per?

      • Reaching the ceiling, not the floor.

      • They’re gonna have to sign somebody in the off season to get to the floor and field a team. Not many RFA’s that are gonna eat up big $.

        IMO they need to balance the low spend with not getting pounded into the ground and at least be in most games.

        Have they signed the new arena deal yet? What if that doesn’t happen?

      • Reaching the floor has never been an issue in the cap era for any team.

        Lots of big ticket names out there and not a lot of teams with cap space. Some will say “who would want to go to Arizona “, I say some of these free agents that will be available will gladly sign a 6-7-8 per deal in Arizona rather than a 1 year for a lot less on a contender.

        Pretty sure a new arena deal was reached before the new year.