NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 13, 2023
The Oilers’ Connor McDavid and the Blackhawks’ Connor Bedard face off for the first time, the Leafs Auston Matthews and the Canucks’ Brock Boeser reach the 20-goal plateau, the Blues fire head coach Craig Berube, and more in the NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid led his club over the Chicago Blackhawks and Connor Bedard 4-1 as the two stars faced off for the first time. McDavid collected two assists to extend his points streak to 10 games as the Oilers won their eighth straight, improving their record to 13-12-1 (27 points) to sit one point out of the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Bedard scored for the Blackhawks (9-18-1) as they slipped to the bottom of the overall standings with 19 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid now sits seventh among the league’s leading scorers with 38 points. He’s nine points behind Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov, who tops the leaderboard with 47.
Bedard, meanwhile, tops all rookie scorers (and the Blackhawks) with 12 goals and 24 points. Speaking of the Hawks, defenseman Seth Jones missed this game due to an upper-body injury while rookie blueliner Kevin Korchinski was away dealing with a family matter.
Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews scored twice and collected two assists to thump the New York Rangers 7-3. Matthews became the first player to crack the 20-goal plateau this season and is tied for first among the league’s leading scorers with 21 goals. Mitch Marner tallied twice and set up another for the 15-6-5 Leafs. Blake Wheeler replied with two goals for the Rangers (19-7-1), who remain in second place in the Eastern Conference with 39 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rangers defenseman K’Andre Miller missed this game for personal reasons. The Boston Bruins also have 39 points but lead the Blueshirts based on point percentage (.750).
A hat trick by Brock Boeser powered the Vancouver Canucks to a 4-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Boeser became the second player to reach 20 goals this season and is tied for the lead (21 goals) with the Leafs’ Auston Matthews. Quinn Hughes had three assists for the 19-9-1 Canucks. Brayden Point scored for the Lightning (13-12-5) as they slipped out of a wild-card berth with 31 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Washington Capitals and Carolina Hurricanes also have 31 points but sit ahead of the Lightning based on games in hand. Bolts defenseman Victor Hedman missed this contest with an upper-body injury.
The St. Louis Blues fired head coach Craig Berube following their 6-4 loss to the Detroit Red Wings. Kevin Hayes tallied two goals for the Blues as they sank to 13-14-1. Lucas Raymond and Michael Rasmussen each had a goal and an assist for the Red Wings (15-9-4) as they hold the first Eastern Conference wild-card spot with 34 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Berube was signed through 2024-25. He coached the Blues to their first Stanley Cup in franchise history but he’s had to deal with a steadily depleted roster as long-time stars such as Alex Pietrangelo, Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko departed in recent years.
The Blues are just one point out of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference but they’ve struggled with consistency this season. Like many clubs this season, they lack sufficient salary-cap space to improve their roster. General manager Doug Armstrong had little option but to shake things up behind the bench in the hope that it would provide a boost to his struggling club.
Speaking of the Red Wings, the NHL Players Association has officially filed an appeal to reduce the six-game suspension handed down to David Perron for cross-checking Ottawa Senators defenseman Artem Zub on Saturday.
Vegas Golden Knights captain Mark Stone’s overtime goal lifted his club over the Calgary Flames by a score of 5-4, extending his club’s points streak to nine games. Stone finished the night with two goals and two assists while Jonathan Marchessault had three assists as the league-leading Golden Knights (20-5-5, 45 points) become the first team to reach the 20-win mark this season. Yegor Sharangovich scored twice for the 11-14-4 Flames.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before this game, the Flames announced that defenseman Chris Tanev is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
Carolina Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho scored twice and added an assist as his club snapped a four-game losing skid by downing the Ottawa Senators 4-1. Pyotr Kochetkov stopped 31 shots for the 15-12-1 Hurricanes (31 points) as they sit behind the Washington Capitals (31 points), who hold three games in hand. Josh Norris replied for the Senators as they dropped to 11-12-0 and remained last in the Eastern Conference with 22 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators still hold several games in hand over their Conference rivals but they’re failing to gain traction in the standings. They must start stringing some wins together if they hope to contend for a playoff berth. Meanwhile, Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour indicated before this game that sidelined winger Andrei Svechnikov is expected to be out “for a while” with an upper-body injury.
The Pittsburgh Penguins doubled up the Arizona Coyotes 4-2 thanks to two-goal performances from Jeff Carter and Jake Guentzel. Connor Ingram kicked out 40 shots for the Coyotes (13-13-2) as they dropped into the final Western Conference wild-card berth with 28 points, one ahead of the surging Oilers. The Penguins improved their record to 12-12-3.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Penguins defenseman Pierre-Olivier Joseph returned to action after missing 16 games with an undisclosed ailment.
An overtime goal by Filip Forsberg lifted the Nashville Predators over the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2. The Predators jumped to a 2-0 lead but the Flyers battled back on goals by Sean Couturier and Travis Sanheim. The Predators (16-13-0) have won five of their last six and hold the first Western Conference wild-card spot with 32 points. The Flyers (15-10-3) had their four-game win streak snapped but hold third place in the Metropolitan Division with 33 points.
Seattle Kraken goaltender Joey Daccord made 24 saves for his first NHL shutout in a 4-0 victory over the Florida Panthers. Kailer Yamamoto had a goal and an assist for the 9-14-7 Kraken. Sergei Bobrovsky had 19 saves for the 17-9-2 Panthers, who sit one point ahead of the Leafs in second place in the Atlantic Division with 36 points.
A late goal by William Eklund gave the San Jose Sharks a 2-1 upset win over the Winnipeg Jets, snapping the latter’s four-game win streak. Mackenzie Blackwood turned aside 36 shots for the Sharks (9-17-3), who’ve won three of the last four games. Brenden Dillon scored for the 16-9-2 Jets, who hold third place in the Central Division with 34 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets are also awaiting a second opinion in Winnipeg regarding winger Kyle Connor’s knee injury. However, there’s speculation he could be sidelined for six to eight weeks. An update on his condition is expected today.
DAILY FACEOFF: Reports indicate the Washington Capitals (as well as the NBA’s Washington Wizards) will be moving across the Potomac River to a new arena in Alexandria, Virginia. It would be located about 20 minutes away from their current home, the Capital One Arena, which has hosted the Capitals since 1997-98. The anticipated move could take place in time for the 2028-29 season.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Speaking of the Capitals, Sammi Silber takes a look at the reasons why captain Alex Ovechkin is not scoring at his usual pace this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin leads the Capitals with 16 points in 25 games but he’s fourth in goals thus far with just five. He’s on pace for just 16 this season, which would be the first time he would fail to crack the 20-goal plateau.
THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen was none too pleased over reports from a Finnish columnist questioning his offseason dedication to training. The comments came from Ismo Lehkonen, father of Rantanen’s teammate Artturi Lehkonen.
Following the Avs win over the Flames on Monday, Rantanen accused the elder Lehkonen of “talking s**t about me”, accusing him of “making things up.” However, he also said everything was fine between himself and his old friend Artturi.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Something tells me Lehkonen’s dad won’t be on Rantanen’s Christmas card list this year.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy and center Pavel Zacha are expected to miss tonight’s game against the New Jersey Devils with upper-body injuries. Both are listed as day-to-day and haven’t been ruled out of Friday’s matchup with the New York Islanders.
DAILY FACEOFF: Los Angeles Kings defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov is out day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
CBS SPORTS: The Islanders placed forward Matt Martin (upper body) on injured reserve retroactive to Dec. 2.