NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 2, 2023

by | Feb 2, 2023 | News, NHL | 18 comments

The Bruins and Hurricanes head into the All-Star break on a winning note, the three stars and the top rookie for January are revealed, Golden Knights captain Mark Stone undergoes a second back surgery, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: The Boston Bruins ended a three-game winless skid by dropping the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2. Pavel Zacha scored twice and Linus Ullmark made 33 saves for the Bruins (39-7-5) as they sit atop the overall standings with 83 points. Mitch Marner and Calle Jarnkrok replied for the 31-13-8 Leafs as they sat third overall with 70 points.

Carolina Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho scored for the sixth straight game in a 5-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. Brent Burns also scored to extend his points streak to seven games as the Hurricanes (34-9-8) picked up their seven straight win to sit second overall with 76 points. The Sabres slipped to 26-20-4 and remain one point back of the Pittsburgh Penguins for the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot with 56 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sabres scoring leader Tage Thompson left this game in the second period with an upper-body injury. He’s slated to play in Saturday’s All-Star Game so it’ll be interesting to see if he still attends or ends up replaced. These were the final games before the All-Star break which begins today


New Jersey Devils forward Jack Hughes (NHL Images)

 NHL.COM: New Jersey Devils center Jack Hughes, Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak and Seattle Kraken defenseman Vince Dunn are the league’s three stars for the month of January 2023. Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen was named the rookie of the month for January.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Golden Knights captain Mark Stone is sidelined indefinitely after undergoing successful back surgery on Tuesday. It’s the second time in nine months that the 30-year-old right winger has had back surgery, having missed 45 games last season. He didn’t miss a game this season until getting injured on Jan. 12 against the Florida Panthers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights have gone 1-5-2 since Stone was sidelined. His ongoing absence could send management into the trade market in search of help. I’ll have more about that in today’s Rumor Mill update.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets winger Gustav Nyquist has been ruled out for the remainder of the season with a left shoulder injury. It’s the same shoulder he has surgically repaired in November 2020 but he won’t have to go under the knife this time.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline reports Nyquist is hoping to return before the end of this season. While the current injury hurts the winger’s trade value, Portzline suggests that it doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t be moved before the March 3 trade deadline. He points out the Toronto Maple Leafs acquired a sidelined Riley Nash two years ago, who ultimately played in two playoff games for the Leafs.

THE SCORE: New Jersey Devils associate coach Andrew Brunette was arrested early Wednesday morning in South Florida while driving home from a bar in his golf cart. He was charged with driving under the influence and two counts of disobeying a stop or yield sign. Brunette was released on $500.00 bond. In a statement, the Devils indicated that they’re aware of the situation and were gathering additional information.

OTTAWA SUN’s Bruce Garrioch reports the expectation for Cam Talbot is the sidelined Senators goaltender will resume skating next week when the club reconvenes following the All-Star break.

SPORTS BUSINESS JOURNAL: NHL viewership on ESPN and TNT is down 22 percent heading into the All-Star break compared to the same time last year.

The main reason is both networks doubled the number of games they carried compared to last season. Bigger schedules tend to hurt average viewership.

TNT is also affected by local blackouts affecting big markets in Boston, Pittsburgh and New York whereas last season they had no blackouts. ESPN’s numbers were hurt by scheduling six games on Sunday up against the NFL whereas the network had no Sunday games at this point last season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Critics seized on that ratings drop as an opportunity to rail against the issues they believe are hurting the game’s popularity. The Athletic’s Sean Gentille acknowledged that those issues are real and long-standing but aren’t applicable to the real reasons (noted above) behind those ratings decline. Gentille pointed out that those numbers could improve once ABC’s 20-game coverage during the remainder of the regular season is included in the final equation.

ESPN: Emily Kaplan reports the NHL Players Association’s executive board will meet this week in Florida to discuss the possible appointment of US Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh as its new executive director. Walsh has emerged as the leading candidate to replace current PA director Donald Fehr, who is stepping down after 12 years.


  1. Stone…. 2 back surgeries in 9 months…. Ouch

    I’m sure Foley’s Pepto-Bismol and Tums weekly order just doubled

    Sabres/Thompson… if hr’s out for any substantial time… big impact

    Brunette.., not good

    Leafs v Bruins…. Well Leafs were able to play competitively with Bruins for 2 periods

    Nice tape2tape2tape passing by the checking (Czech-King [sorry had to] ) line on their goal

    I get the anger by Bunting on missed call(s) but his exaggerating head snapping is calling out refs and certainly not helping now or in future re close calls.

    Note , Leafs also got away with some calls…, it was very clear that refs were NOT going to call the hooks (plural) against AJ Greer on his goal (no refs hands were raising) . Had he not scored; I’m sure Bruins would have been upset

    I thoroughly enjoyed the first two periods. Not so much period 3

    • Pengy, with Stone (who turns 31 in May) having 2 back surgeries, Vegas’ recent 25th ranking in team prospects by The Hockey Writers, and others getting a little long in the tooth (e.g. Martinez turns 36 in July, Kessel is 35, Smith and Marchessault are 32), I wouldn’t be surprised to see them start to rumble down the Western standings over the next couple of seasons. Couldn’t happen to a better bunch in my humble opinion.

      • After the first season their absolute gross mismanagement of players and their money is glaring. They strutted around like they were destined for the Cup. Now they are seeing the fruits of their carelessness.

        I don’t hate the team, but I do hate their practices and if I see them suffer the consequences then good!

  2. the #1 issue that viewership is down is that regular ESPN barely ever shows games, all of the programming is on ESPN+ and Hulu. Most cable cutters are casual sports fans at best. I watch the ESPN+ games on Hulu, but Hulu sure doesn’t make it easy to find the game, unless you search for NHL in the app.
    TNT shows 1 game at most a week, and doesn’t advertise the games as much as their NHL coverage, but sure advertises their games more than regular ESPN. The blackouts sure hurt too, and a lot of the local sports channels haven’t offered a streaming option. those that have, like NESN, are so overpriced ($30+ a month) that it makes you stick to cable or ditch sports completely (for cord cutters). how often do you see NHL-related segments on any of the ESPN talk shows? you’re lucky to see once a week.

    I fail to see how a Sunday afternoon game in the Spring on ABC is going to increase viewership, when it’ll be contending with the start of the MLB season, MLB World Cup, as well as NBA playoffs

    the current game itself is very fast and enjoyable, and is not to blame,

    another smaller issue is that NHL Network isn’t available as an option on most cable packages, and isn’t offered as a streaming option. MLB, NFL and NBA networks are freely available every where, on cable and streaming, but the NHL does a poor job making their own network available

    • One thing I, for one anyway , do NOT watch is April baseball which, until the warmer weather arrives and pitchers start throwing more breaking stuff, is just an extension of spring training (which already lasts too long). By late May, bloated batting averages start falls like leaves in October.

      • I know those ratings are cable or tv only. They don’t have a way to measure streamers that watch on phones or other devices, which is going to have an effect on those ratings. Having said that, the way they make it hard as mike has said plus the useless NHL network which does nothing for the game and poorly serves its fans, the NHL really needs to promote and make the games easier for fans to watch and fall in love with the game. Once you grow something, one should nurture it, right?

      • That was an informative post mikeP.
        Seems like a mishmash combined with a clusterf***.

        So ESPN+ isn’t included on cable when you subscribe to ESPN? Cheesy.

        Heck of a lot easier up here to watch hockey, but also more popular, #1 by a mile, and not competing with the NBA as much as we only have 1 team. Also very few blackouts, at least in AB.

    • i meant to say TNT doesn’t advertise NHL as much as their NBA coverage

      • 👍

        Absolutely no challenge on that assertion Mike

    • If the NHL needs to go in the same direction as the NBA and NFL. Let their star players shine and sell the game! Stop letting the lesser players glutch, grab, and hook them and slow them down. Imagine how much more exciting it would be to actually see what McDavid, Matthews, Marner, Eichle, Gaudreau, and so on can actually do when let loose.
      Also, get the refs to stop managing the game and call the rule book the way it’s written.

      • if you’re watching the NHL season this year, you’ll notice that star players are able to do their thing without the older hooking and other methods. can’t really say the league is a clutch/grab/hook anymore, at least in the regular season. PP’s are up and the offensive teams are taking advantage of it.

        now let’s see if that changes in the playoffs

      • I watch McDavid every night. He is getting hooked every game and it rarely gets called. Watch the next Oilers vs. Kings game. You will see Doughty do hook McDavid every time McDavid skates by him, with and without the puck.

  3. With the way they played last night, both the Leafs and Sabres looked like teams anxious to get away for the break – especially Buffalo given that they were playing at home and against a team that had needed OT the night before to defeat L.A.

    • Hi George

      Didn’t see the Sabres game; but they were playing the League’s second best team; lost their best player mid game; and Luuk (who had gone 920 [184/200] over previous 6 games) had quite a sub-par performance

      It is possibly as you say; that they were a team appearing “anxious to get away for the break ”…. but not seeing the game; only seeing hi-lights; and knowing TT went down and Luuk gave at least one he wants back… it just may be they got bested by a team better than them and one that was expected to win

      Re Leafs and same… good to go H2H for two periods…, just couldn’t match Bruins superior play in the 3rd…. That’s my read on last nights tilt

      • Pengy, if your observation is the way it went down, that certainly doesn’t bode well for their playoff chances – especially with a goaltending tandem of Samsonov (an .828 save % last night) and (maybe) Murray. My observation was based on the fact a couple of their big guns up front (Marner and Nylander) were a -4 and -3 on the night, while on the back end Liljegren and Sandin were both – 3 and each looked about as interested in checking as a politician does in being honest.

        I dunno – it just seemed to me that, while the team held its own for 2 periods, they just decided 2 periods of effort was enough – let’s hit the road. At home. In front of their home crowd. Against the top team in the league. What more motivation do they need?

      • Hi George

        No I didn’t view it as a let down; more mistakes AND for sure Samsonov wants 1 back maybe 2 (mistakes; not giving up)

        MM & WW may have been minuses on night… but to me; were certainly putting the effort in

        Again; I didn’t view it as giving up in 3rd; but more just being outplayed by a better team

        I do feel that as at now (roster to roster); Bruins are the better team; last night’s results appropriate

  4. The big boys came out for Boston last night Forbort 6’4″ 4th of the season Carlo 6’5″ 2nd of the season, Greer 6’3″ 5th of the season and Zacha 6’3″ 10th and 11th of the season.

    Also watched an episode of “the boy who cried wolf”

    • That was pretty funny Caper.
      Pengy, I though the Leafs played well, especially early. B’s capitalized on the chances, Ullmark very good again, Samsonov could have been better.

      The play that stood out to me was on the first goal, the shorty. Frederic has some serious wheels when he gets pumping, made Marner look slow, and he isn’t.

      Good to see the secondary and depth scoring. Zacha looks like he is finding a good groove in Boston. More confidence with the puck on his stick than early in the season.

      Nice pickup by Sweeney.

      Leafs miss Matthews.