NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 22, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 22, 2021

Recaps of Thursday’s action, Pierre-Luc Dubois benched, an update on the four Capitals sidelined under COVID-19 protocols, and a lengthy list of injuries in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Tyler Toffoli scored twice as the Montreal Canadiens thumped the Vancouver Canucks 7-3 in the second game of their three-game series. With the score tied 2-2 following the first period, the Canadiens blew the game open with four unanswered second-period goals.

Montreal Canadiens winger Tyler Toffoli (NHL Images).

Montreal winger Joel Armia also scored twice but suffered a concussion late in the third period from a blindside hit by Canucks defenseman Tyler Myers, who received a five-minute major and a game misconduct. Habs forward Paul Byron also left in the third after being struck in the leg by a shot from teammate Shea Weber. Canucks defensemen Travis Hamonic and Alexander Edler missed the game with upper-body injuries, while blueliner Jalen Chatfield suffered a first-period upper-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toffoli now has five goals in two games against his former club this season. It’s uncertain if Myers will receive supplemental discipline for his cheap shot on Armia. The Canadiens and Canucks will play the final game of this series on Saturday, with the Habs unbeaten in regulation (3-0-2) thus far.

Jake DeBrusk tallied the only goal in a shootout to give the Boston Bruins a 5-4 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Nick Ritchie had a goal and an assist while David Krejci collected two assists. James van Riemsdyk tallied twice and Jakub Voracek collected three assists for the Flyers, who gave up 43 shots in this contest. The Flyers played without forward Morgan Frost (dislocated shoulder, injured reserve) and defenseman Philippe Myers (fractured rib, week-to-week).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a big win for the Bruins, who entered this game sitting dead-last in goals for per game (1.00). A porous defense saw the Flyers blow 2-0 and 3-2 leads in this game. The injuries are piling up for the Flyers, who were also playing without Sean Couturier and Shayne Gostisbehere.

The Tampa Bay Lightning picked up their third straight win by edging the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 on an overtime goal by Brayden Point. Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois was benched for almost the entire game, seeing less than four minutes of ice time in the first period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bolts victory was overshadowed by Dubois’ benching. This is ramping up speculation over the 22-year-old center’s future with the Blue Jackets and his relationship with head coach John Tortorella. I’ll have more in the Rumors section.

New York Islanders winger Jordan Eberle tallied twice in a 4-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils. Isles center Mathew Barzal had a goal and two assists. Josh Bailey returned to the Isles lineup after spending one day on the club’s COVID-19 absence list. The Devils were without starting goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood, who was placed on the club’s COVID list, though that doesn’t mean he’s tested positive for the coronavirus.

Mark Scheifele and Nikolaj Ehlers each had a goal and an assist to lead the Winnipeg Jets over the Ottawa Senators 4-1. The Jets took control of the game with three unanswered second-period goals. Jets winger Patrik Laine missed his third straight game with an upper-body injury.

The Los Angeles Kings got their first win of the season by doubling up the Colorado Avalanche 4-2. The Kings overcame a 2-0 deficit with Adrian Kempe netting the game-winner in the third period. Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen each had a goal and an assist for the Avs.

HEADLINES

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals goaltender Ilya Samsonov has tested positive for COVID-19. Samsonov, Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov were placed on the NHL’s COVID protocol-related absence list on Wednesday. Ovechkin, Kuznetsov and Orlov will miss at least four games while Samsonov could be sidelined longer. It remains to be seen if the other three tested positive.

Samsonov’s positive test triggered contact testing within the Capitals dressing room, leading to the NHL discovering the four players spent time socializing in the team hotel without facial coverings on multiple occasions. The league fined the Capitals $100K.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some pundits and fans questioned the NHL’s protocols when this story broke on Wednesday. The bottom line is the Capitals, and every other team in the league knew what the protocols were before this season started. The NHLPA voted for them. Every player had the opportunity to opt-out of playing this season. The players involved in this incident broke those rules and must now suffer the consequences.

The NHL’s COVID protocols were based on CDC and Health Canada guidelines enabling the 31 NHL teams to stage this season in their home arenas. They must also follow local guidelines.

Those rules have had an effect upon this season. A ban on non-essential travel at the Canada-US border has limited Canadian teams to playing among themselves during the regular season. The San Jose Sharks started this season on the road because Santa Clara County has prohibited all sports activities due to high local COVID levels.

The NHL has already postponed games involving the Dallas Stars and Carolina Hurricanes because of COVID outbreaks. They cannot risk further spread jeopardizing the season because some players won’t adhere to the rules.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins defensemen Marcus Pettersson and Juuso Riikola will each be sidelined several weeks with undisclosed injuries.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could have Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford shopping for help. I’ll have more about that in the Rumors section.

SPORTSNET: Anaheim Ducks defenseman Josh Manson is sidelined for six weeks with an oblique muscle injury.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars defenseman John Klingberg (medical reasons) is questionable for his club’s season-opener on Friday against the Nashville Predators.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews left practice early yesterday as he wasn’t feeling great, according to head coach Sheldon Keefe. His status will be updated today. Forward Joe Thornton is expected to miss some games with an upper-body injury.

CALGARY SUN: Flames winger Dillon Dube is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

WGR550: Buffalo Sabres goaltender Carter Hutton will miss at least two games with a head injury. Sabres starter Linus Ullmark revealed he missed Monday’s game against Philadelphia as he was grieving the death of his father in Sweden. Ullmark returned to practice and is slated to travel with the club for their upcoming two-game series against Washington.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Ullmark during this difficult time.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 13, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – October 13, 2020

A look at the top remaining unrestricted free agents, three potential Canadiens’ trade candidates, and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TOP REMAINING UFAS

SPORTSNET: Winger Mike Hoffman, Evgenii Dadonov, Mikael Granlund and Ilya Kovalchuk, along with defenseman Travis Hamonic top Emily Sadler’s list of the best remaining players in this year’s NHL unrestricted free agent market.

Winger Mike Hoffman is among the best remaining players in this year’s NHL UFA market (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hoffman and Dadonov are the best of the bunch but they could end up signing for considerably less than they hoped given the current economic climate. I wouldn’t be surprised if interested clubs are using the market against both wingers to drive down their asking prices.

The Columbus Dispatch’s Brian Hedger reported yesterday Granlund was in discussions with multiple teams and is whittling down his list to find the best fit. He doesn’t know if the Blue Jackets are among them.

Centers Erik Haula and Carl Soderberg, left-wingers Anthony Duclair and Andreas Athanasiou, and defenseman Sami Vatanen fill out the top-10.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All four are on my recent listing of possible bargain signings.

The rest include centers Alex Galchenyuk, Derick Brassard and Joe Thornton, wingers Corey Perry, Colin Wilson, Matt Martin, Patrick Marleau and Conor Sheary and defenseman Zdeno Chara.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can see the Stars bringing back Perry on another affordable one-year deal. A recent report claimed the San Jose Sharks could bring back Marleau. Thornton could also be back with the Sharks while Chara is expected to return with the Boston Bruins.

POTENTIAL CANADIENS TRADE CANDIDATES

TVA SPORTS: The Montreal Canadiens’ signing of winger Tyler Toffoli yesterday leaves the club sitting above the $81.5 million salary cap by over $353K. They’ll have to offload over $1 million to become cap compliant before the start of next season. Trade options could include Jordan Weal ($1.4 million), Paul Byron ($3.4 million) and Joel Armia ($2.6 million).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Byron has three seasons left on his contract. TVA Sports noted he has two 20-goal seasons on his resume but his production declined due to injuries over the last two seasons. His cap hit could make him the most difficult to move.

Armia or Weal are more affordable but they probably won’t have as much value as Byron in the trade market. The Canadiens have 14 picks in next year’s draft so perhaps one of those selections could be packaged with one of those players as a sweetener.

The Canadiens also have eight defensemen under NHL contract for next season. Brett Kulak surfaced in recent trade chatter so perhaps there might be a market for him. Kukak is signed through 2021-22 with an annual average value of $1.85 million.

BRUINS INTERESTED IN WEEGAR?

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy cites three sources claiming the Bruins have shown interest in MacKenzie Weegar. The rugged 26-year-old defenseman recently filed for salary arbitration. Word around the league is the Panthers have been shopping Weegar for some time.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murphy points out Weegar’s a right-hand shot while the Bruins’ biggest need is a left-shot defenseman. He also wonders how the Bruins will address the departure of Torey Krug.










NHL Playoffs: Canadiens Fend Off Elimination With 5-3 Win Over The Flyers

NHL Playoffs: Canadiens Fend Off Elimination With 5-3 Win Over The Flyers

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 12, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 12, 2019

Phil Kessel sparks a surge in Coyotes ticket sales, the latest contract signings, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

ARIZONA REPUBLIC: The Coyotes’ recent acquisition of Phil Kessel sparked a 600 percent surge in tickets sales for the week following the trade compared to the same week a year ago. That included a 550 percent spike in season-ticket sale. 

After acquiring Phil Kessel, the Arizona Coyotes saw a spike in ticket sales (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been years since the Coyotes had an established sniper like Kessel. They’re hoping he’ll provide a much-needed scoring boost that propels them into the playoffs for the first time since 2012. If he does, the Coyotes can expect a healthier surge in season-ticket sales next summer. 

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens yesterday avoided salary arbitration with forwards Joel Armia and Artturi Lehkonen, signing each to two-year contracts. Armia’s deal is worth $5.2 million ($2.6-million annual average value) while Lehkonen’s is worth $4.8 million ($2.4 million AAV). The Habs now have over $4.84 million in cap space. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Habs still have plenty of wiggle room if they want to bolster their left-side defense or bring in another scoring forward via trade. They could also make another depth signing via free agency. 

SPORTSDAY: The Dallas Stars re-signed center Jason Dickinson to a two-year, $3-million contract. 

NBC SPORTS: The San Jose Sharks re-signed centers Dylan Gambrell and Antti Suomela. Gambrell got a two-year deal and Suomela one year. Each have an annual average value of $700K. Gambrell’s deal is a two-way in the first year and one-way in the second. 

ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks signed defenseman Michael Del Zotto to a one-year, $750K contract. 

VANCOUVER SUN: Alex Burrows will join the Canucks’ Ring of Honour on December 3. He spent 12 seasons in Vancouver. 

NBC SPORTS: Paul Holmgren is no longer the team president of the Philadelphia Flyers. He’s now a senior advisor to Comcast Spectacor chairman and CEO Dave Scott. General manager Chuck Fletcher takes over from Holmgren as president. 

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers hired Tyler Wright as their new director of amateur scouting. Wright held the same position with the Detroit Red Wings. Archie Henderson was also hired to be their new director of pro scouting. 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 2, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 2, 2019

Game recaps, players and rookie of the month, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: Vegas Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury picked up his league-leading seventh shutout in a 3-0 blanking of the Anaheim Ducks. William Karlsson, Alex Tuch, and Cody Eakin were the goal scorers, spoiling Ducks goaltender John Gibson’s return after missing three weeks with an upper-body injury. 

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury picked up his league-leading seventh shutout on Friday (Photo via NHL Images).

The Carolina Hurricanes picked up their 13th victory in their last 17 games by downing the St. Louis Blues 5-2. Sebastian Aho, Nino Niederreiter, Teuvo Teravainen, Justin Faulk, and Brett Pesce each collected two points.

Following the game, the Hurricanes’ “Storm Surge” celebration featured former heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield “knocking out” Jordan Martinook. The Canes (76 points) sit third in the Metropolitan Division, one ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Alex Ovechkin’s 45th goal of the season also proved the game-winner as the Washington Capitals beat the New York Islanders 3-1. The Capitals (81 points) move into a tie with the Islanders, who hold first place in the Metropolitan Division. 

Conor Sheary scored twice, including the winner in overtime, as the Buffalo Sabres edged the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby tallied his 439th career goal, tying Jaromir Jagr for second place on the Penguins all-time goal-scoring list. With the win, the Sabres (68 points) sit seven points out of a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference while the Penguins (75 points) sit just outside the wild-card window.

Travis Konecny and James van Riemsdyk each scored twice to give the Philadelphia Flyers a 6-3 victory over the New Jersey Devils. The Flyers (70 points) sit five points out of a playoff spot and also set an NHL record by using their eighth goaltender in a season as Cam Talbot made 30 saves for the win. 

Joel Armia netted a hat trick and Carey Price made 28 saves as the Montreal Canadiens doubled up the New York Rangers 4-2. With 77 points, the Canadiens hold the first Eastern Conference wild-card spot. 

Blake Wheeler, Mark Scheifele, and Kevin Hayes each tallied two points to lead the Winnipeg Jets to a 5-3 win over the Nashville Predators. The Jets (80 points) reclaim the top spot in the Central Division, one point up on the Predators. 

Marcus Sorenson scored two goals as the San Jose Sharks held off the Colorado Avalanche 4-3. Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog collected three assists as his club sits just outside the Western Conference wild-card berth with 68 points. 

It was a good month for right-wing forwards as the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Nikita Kucherov, Chicago Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane, and the St. Louis Blues’ Vladimir Tarasenko are the NHL’s stars of the month for February 2019

St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington is the NHL’s rookie of the month for February 2010. He posted a record of 10 wins and one loss, with a 1.44 goals-against average and four shutouts. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Binnington is the main reason why the Blues rose from being near the bottom of the NHL standings when the calendar flipped to 2019 into a playoff spot in the Central Division. 

ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes center Derek Stepan will be sidelined four-to-six weeks with a knee injury. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Coyotes jockeying for a wild-card spot in the Western Conference, losing Stepan could be a serious setback to their postseason hopes. 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 9, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 9, 2018

Game recaps, Joe Thornton and Zach Parise reach career milestones, injury updates, and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Bo Horvat scored two goals and set up two others and Loui Eriksson also scored twice to lead the Vancouver Canucks to an 8-5 victory over the Boston Bruins. Jake DeBrusk had a three-point night in a losing cause for the Bruins. The Canucks played without winger Brock Boeser, who returned to Vancouver to see a specialist regarding a nagging groin injury.

Bo Horvat’s four-point performance carried the Vancouver Canucks to an 8-5 win over the Boston Bruins. (Photo via NHL Images)

The Florida Panthers defeated the Edmonton Oilers 4-1, picking up their first home win over the Oilers since 2002. Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo made 26 saves for the victory.

Shayne Gostisbehere scored in overtime as the Philadelphia Flyers squeezed past the Arizona Coyotes 5-4, overcoming two shorthanded goals by the Coyotes. Scott Laughton tallied twice for the Flyers.

Jeff Skinner scored twice and Rasmus Ristolainen potted the winner as the Buffalo Sabres edged the Montreal Canadiens 6-5 in overtime. Max Domi collected three assists for the Canadiens, who were playing without forwards Paul Byron and Joel Armia. Byron is week-to-week with a lower-body injury while Armia is sidelined six-to-eight weeks with an injured knee.

The Vegas Golden Knights blew a three-goal lead but two third-period tallies gave them a 5-3 win over the Ottawa Senators. Ottawa rookie Brady Tkachuk was held scoreless in his first game back from a leg injury.

Tyler Johnson and Steven Stamkos scored late third-period goals as the Tampa Bay Lightning doubled up the New York Islanders 4-2. Josh Bailey scored twice for the Islanders.

Jeremy Colliton lost his first game behind the Chicago Blackhawks’ bench as his club dropped a 4-3 decision to the Carolina Hurricanes, who jumped to a 4-0 lead and managed to hang on for the win.

Devin Shore scored two goals to give the Dallas Stars a 4-3 win over the San Jose Sharks. It was a costly win for the Stars as defenseman John Klingberg could be sidelined for three weeks after suffering an injury blocking a shot in the third period. Sharks center Joe Thornton reached another notable milestone, playing in his 1,500th career NHL game.

Minnesota Wild winger Zach Parise’s 700th career point came in the form of the game-winning goal as his club beat the Los Angeles Kings 3-1.

NEWSDAY: New York Rangers winger Mats Zuccarello will miss the club’s next two games with a groin strain.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues winger Patrick Maroon will be a healthy scratch in tonight’s game against the San Jose Sharks.

NJ.COM: The New Jersey Devils placed goaltender Eddie Lack on waivers.

THE SCORE: Former NHL coach Dave Tippett said he won’t be returning to the coaching ranks as he intends to remain in his role as an advisor to the ownership group that is trying to bring an NHL franchise to Seattle.

TWINCITIES.COM: Bob Naegele Jr., the original owner of the Minnesota Wild, passed away on Wednesday at age 78 of complications from cancer. He was majority owners of the Wild from 2000 to 2008.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Naegele’s family, friends, and the Wild organization.