What Next For the New York Rangers?
Connor McDavid’s march to 100 points continues, Auston Matthews nets his 40th goal of the season, the league fines the Rangers $250,000, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid is within four points of reaching 100 on the season after collecting three assists in a 6-3 loss to the Vancouver Canucks. Leon Draisaitl also scored twice for the Oilers, who pulled goalie Mikko Koskinen from the net after the Canucks scored four goals on their first four shots. Brock Boeser, Nils Hoglander, Travis Hamonic and Jayce Hawryluk each had a goal and an assist for the Canucks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid has four games remaining in the season to reach 100 points. The Oilers sit in second place in the Scotia North Division with 66 points, eight behind the first-place Toronto Maple Leafs and seven up on the third-place Winnipeg Jets.
Speaking of the Leafs, Auston Matthews tallied his 40th goal in his 49th game of the season in a 5-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens. Mitch Marner and John Tavares each had a goal and an assist. Canadiens center Phillip Danault left the game with an upper-body injury. The fourth-place Canadiens missed an opportunity to secure the final playoff berth in the division. With 57 points, they hold a 10-game lead over the Calgary Flames and need just one point to clinch.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews might’ve had a shot at 50 goals if not for a nagging wrist injury that cost him four games. This is the third time in his five NHL seasons he’s reached the 40-goal plateau.
A four-goal performance by Jeff Carter carried the Pittsburgh Penguins to an 8-4 drubbing of the Buffalo Sabres. Frederick Gaudreau and Jared McCann each collected three points as the Penguins moved into sole possession of first place in the MassMutual East Division with 75 points, two ahead of the second-place Capitals. The Caps, however, hold two games in hand.
Patrice Bergeron tallied the game-winner as the Boston Bruins blanked the New York Rangers 4-0. Bruins goalie Jeremy Swayman turned aside 15 shots for the shutout while Brad Marchand and David Krejci each had two assists as the Bruins (71 points) moved within two points of the Capitals.
A 32-save performance by Mackenzie Blackwood gave the New Jersey Devils a 2-1 victory over the New York Islanders. Michael MacLeod snapped a 1-1 tie in the second period. The slumping Isles have dropped six of their last eight games and sit three points back of the third-place Bruins.
The Chicago Blackhawks upset the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 on an overtime goal by Alex DeBrincat. Blackhawks goaltender Collin Delia kicked out 36 shots for the win. The Hurricanes extended their points streak to 13 games and sit atop the overall standings with 80 points, holding a five-point lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers in the Discover Central Division.
The NHL fined the New York Rangers $250,000.00 for issuing a public statement on Tuesday condemning George Parros, the director of the league’s department of player safety. The comments came after Parros fined Washington Capitals winger Tom Wilson for roughing Rangers forward Pavel Buchnevich while Rangers winger Artemi Panarin suffered a season-ending injury after tussling with Wilson.
“It is terribly unfair to question George Parros’ professionalism and dedication to his role and the Department of Player Safety,” said league commissioner Gary Bettman.
NEW YORK POST: Rangers CEO James Dolan appeared unperturbed by the fine. He said his club said what it felt it needed to say and the league did what it felt it needed to do. “Hopefully, we’ll both move on. I don’t think it’s worth enflaming anymore.”
TSN: Frank Seravalli reports the Rangers statement galvanized support for Parros from other teams and general managers in feedback delivered to NHL headquarters. The league has no intention of replacing Parros.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dolan has no love lost for Bettman dating back to the commissioner shutting down the Rangers’ attempt in 2007 to establish its own website outside of the NHL.com umbrella, even threatening to strip control of the Rangers from the Dolans. He knew he would get a slap on the wrist for his public comments.
We shouldn’t be surprised that Dolan’s hamhanded attempt to get Parros replaced failed. Bettman enjoys the support of most of the team owners. Their general managers toe the company line. The NHL brain trust thinks its player safety department is doing a good job, a view that seems to be shared around the league, and it really doesn’t care about criticism from the fans and media.
THE SCORE: Rangers winger Pavel Buchnevich received a one-game suspension for high-sticking Capitals winger Anthony Mantha during Wednesday’s fight-filled rematch between the two clubs.
NHL.COM: Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen was fined $2,000 for embellishment during a game against the San Jose Sharks on April 30.
CBS SPORTS: Blackhawks center Kirby Dach won’t play in the club’s final three games of the season. He aggravated scar tissue in his surgically repaired wrist on Monday.
AWFUL ANNOUNCING: ESPN has approached Wayne Gretzky about a broadcasting role. They’re also looking at Ray Ferraro, Kevin Weekes and John Davidson.
The Jets clinch a playoff spot, T.J. Oshie get a hat trick the day after his father’s passing, Marc-Andre Fleury and Anze Kopitar reach milestones, the Blues salute David Backes and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Winnipeg Jets became the third team in the Scotia North Division to clinch a playoff spot by blanking the Calgary Flames 4-0. Connor Hellebuyck made 32 saves for the shutout, Blake Wheeler collected his 800th career point and Mark Scheifele got his 500th career point. The win moved the Jets into third place in the division with 59 points, two up on the Montreal Canadiens.
Speaking of the Canadiens, they failed to secure a playoff berth by falling 5-1 to the Ottawa Senators. Erik Brannstrom collected three assists and Shane Pinto tallied his first NHL goal as the Senators have won seven of their last nine games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With 57 points, Montreal still holds a 10-point lead over Calgary, though the latter has a game in hand. The Flames playoff hopes, however, are now hanging by a thread.
T.J. Oshie scored a hat trick the day following his father’s death as the Washington Capitals doubled up the New York Rangers 4-2. Oshie’s performance, however, was overshadowed by several brawls between the two clubs in the fallout over Capitals winger Tom Wilson receiving a fine for roughing Pavel Buchnevich and injury Artemi Panarin in the previous game between the two clubs. Wilson left the game in the first period with an upper-body injury while Buchnevich received a major penalty and game misconduct for cross-checking Capitals winger Anthony Mantha in the face.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Oshie and his family. His hat trick was a fitting honor to his father and a better story than that clown show of a game. With the win, the Capitals regained first place from the Pittsburgh Penguins in the MassMutual East Division with 73 points and hold a game in hand over the Penguins.
The Dallas Stars playoff hopes suffered another blow as they fell 6-2 to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Erik Cernak had a goal and two assists for the Lightning, putting them into a tie with the Florida Panthers in the Discover Central Division. Both clubs have 75 points but the Lightning holds second place with a game in hand. With 56 points, the Stars remain four back of the fourth-place Nashville Predators.
Meanwhile, the Predators dropped a 4-2 decision to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Oliver Bjorkstrand scored twice and collected an assist for the Jackets.
Marc-Andre Fleury picked up his 490th career victory as the Vegas Golden Knights nipped the Minnesota Wild 3-2 on an overtime goal by Alex Pietrangelo. Fleury moved into sole possession of third place on the all-time wins list. Kirill Kaprizov scored twice for the Wild. The Golden Knights (76 points) maintained a four-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche for first place in the Honda West Division.
As for the Avalanche, they blew a 2-0 lead to fall 3-2 to the San Jose Sharks. Tomas Hertl scored twice and Evander Kane collected three assists for the Sharks. With 72 points, the Avs are one point ahead of the third-place Wild.
The St. Louis Blues failed to clinch a playoff spot in the West Division following a 3-2 shootout loss to the Anaheim Ducks. Troy Terry tallied the winner in the shootout. During the game’s first timeout, the Blues honored Ducks winger David Backes with a video tribute commemorating his 10 seasons in St. Louis.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Backes, 37, is in the final season of his contract and is expected to retire.
Anze Kopitar collected his 1000th career NHL point to lead the Los Angeles Kings over the Arizona Coyotes 4-2. Sean Walker collected three points and Gabriel Vilardi tallied twice for the Kings to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. The Coyotes, meanwhile, have been eliminated from postseason contention.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kopitar’s been a model of consistency for the Kings throughout his 15 NHL seasons. He has 50 points on the season, marking the 14th time he’s reached that plateau.
TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs winger Nick Foligno is day-to-day with an upper-body injury and will miss tonight’s game against the Canadiens and likely Saturday’s contest as well.
CBS SPORTS: Boston Bruins center Charlie Coyle suffered an undisclosed injury during Tuesday’s game against the New Jersey Devils and should be considered day-to-day.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere received a two-game suspension for boarding Pittsburgh Penguins blueliner Mark Friedman.
MLIVE.COM: Detroit Red Wings forward Bobby Ryan is recovering from triceps surgery three weeks ago. An unrestricted free agent at season’s end, Ryan hopes to remain with the Wings. Meanwhile, teammate Tyler Bertuzzi underwent back surgery last Friday and is expected to be fully recovered in time for next season.
OTTAWA SUN: The Senators signed goaltender Anton Forsberg to a one-year, $900K contract.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks TV analyst Ed Olczyk will become the lead NHL game analyst for Turner Sports. He’ll join Kenny Albert as Turner’s top team on TNT when the network’s seven-year contract begins next season.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reported if the Seattle Kraken select a player in this summer’s expansion draft who received a bonus on July 1, they will have to re-pay that player’s previous team. The Kraken must also draft at least $48.9 million under the salary cap.
FLYERS ALUMNI: tweeted the passing of former NHL player Jim Johnson at age 78. Johnson spent eight seasons in the NHL with the New York Rangers, Flyers and Los Angeles Kings from 1964-65 to 1971-72. An original member of the Flyers, he spent nearly five seasons with the club. In 302 NHL games, Johnson had 75 goals and 186 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Johnson’s family, friends and former teammates.
Patrick Marleau ties Gordie Howe’s games-played record, Alex Ovechkin moves closer to another scoring milestone, Connor McDavid hits new scoring heights for this season and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Patrick Marleau tied Gordie Howe’s record of 1,767 NHL games played as his San Jose Sharks fell to the Minnesota Wild 5-2. Marleau can break Howe’s record when the Sharks face the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday. Minnesota’s Mats Zuccarello had a goal and an assist while Zach Parise tallied the game-winner as the Wild (57 points) moved to within five points of the second-place Golden Knights in the Honda West Division.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a remarkable streak of longevity on Marleau’s part. His NHL career began in October 1997, spending over 20 of his 23 seasons with the Sharks. This season, however, is likely to be his last as the 41-year-old has just 8 points in 44 games. We should take the time to appreciate his career while he’s still playing.
For those of you unhappy over a supposedly “lesser player” breaking the great Howe’s NHL games record, console yourself with the fact that Howe’s record of playing five decades in the NHL remains intact. Factor in Howe’s 419 WHA games, and he remains the all-time leader in professional games played with 2,186.
The Arizona Coyotes overcame a 2-0 deficit to defeat the St. Louis Blues 3-2. Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper made 20 saves and Michael Bunting netted the game-winner. With the win, the Coyotes (45 points) vault one point over the Blues into fourth in the West.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was an emotional win for the Coyotes as they inducted Leighton Accardo, a Coyotes fan who died last November at age 9 from cancer, into their Ring of Honor. With his team down by two goals, Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson guaranteed a win during a first-intermission interview. He and his teammates delivered on that promise.
Alex Ovechkin scored two goals and John Carlsson collected four assists to lead the Washington Capitals to a 6-3 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. Ovechkin is now one goal behind Marcel Dionne (731) for fifth place on the all-time goal-scoring list. The Capitals sit in first place in the MassMutual East Division with 62 points while the Flyers (46 points) are eight points behind the fourth-place Boston Bruins. Flyers goaltender Carter Hart was scratched just prior to the game with a lower-body injury.
The Pittsburgh Penguins extended their points streak to five games by holding off the Buffalo Sabres 3-2. Tristan Jarry made 28 saves and Bryan Rust netted the game-winning goal as the Penguins (59 points) move one point ahead of the New York Islanders into second place in the East. The Sabres became the first team to be officially eliminated from the playoff race.
Pavel Buchnevich’s hat trick carried the New York Rangers over the New Jersey Devils 6-3. Artemi Panarin had a goal and three assists for the Rangers, who sit four points behind the Bruins.
Connor McDavid became the first player to reach 70 points this season by collecting two assists in the Edmonton Oilers’ 3-0 win over the Winnipeg Jets. Mike Smith made 26 saves for the shutout as the Oilers (54 points) moved within three points of the second-place Jets in the Scotia North Division.
The Ottawa Senators ruined Carey Price’s return to the Montreal Canadiens net with a 4-0 victory. Price missed six games with a lower-body injury. Ottawa’s Matt Murray turned in a 23-save shutout performance while Drake Batherson scored twice. The Canadien (47 points) still hold a six-point lead over the Calgary Flames for fourth place in the North.
Third-period goals by Janne Hakanpaa and Andrei Svechnikov lifted the Carolina Hurricanes to a 3-1 win over the Nashville Predators. The Hurricanes sit in first place in the Discover Central Division with 62 points, one ahead of the Florida Panthers while the Predators (49 points) hold a two-point lead over the Chicago Blackhawks for fourth place.
The Panthers, meanwhile, defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-3 to hold a one-point lead over the latter. Sam Bennett collected two assists in his Florida debut while teammate Brandon Montour tallied his first goal with the Panthers.
A 29-save shutout by Malcolm Subban carried the Blackhawks over the Detroit Red Wings 4-0. Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist while Vinnie Hinostroza collected three helpers.
The Dallas Stars kept their playoff hopes alive by beating the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-1, extending the latter’s losing skid to five games. The Stars tallied four second-period goals, including two 20 seconds apart. They sit three points behind the Predators.
WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres winger Kyle Okposo underwent season-ending surgery on Saturday to repair a broken bone in his cheek.
CBS SPORTS: Columbus Blue Jackets forward Gustav Nyquist is officially done for the season. He’s been sidelined since undergoing shoulder surgery in November. He’s expected to be fully recovered for next season.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Former Bruins winger and broadcaster Johnny Peirson passed away at age 95. Peirson spent 11 seasons with the Bruins from 1946-47 to 1957-58. He went on to spend 20 seasons broadcasting Bruins games on WSBK-38 in the 1970s and 1980s.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Peirson’s family, friends, colleagues and former teammates.
The latest on the Leafs, Bruins and Devils plus an update on Pavel Buchnevich in today’s NHL rumor mill.
SHOULD THE LEAFS TRADE ANDERSEN?
TORONTO STAR: Mark Zwolinski reports there’s talk the Maple Leafs should shop Frederik Andersen before the upcoming trade deadline despite his history of regular-season success. He’s battling a lower-body injury and can become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Backup Jack Campbell has put up better numbers in limited action this season but has also had his injury woes this season.
Zwolinski speculates Andersen could be in a backup role in the coming spate of games to work with goaltending coach Steve Briere. After that, he feels Andersen should return to the starter’s role or be dealt before the April 12 deadline. “There’s no sense keeping a $5 million-a-year goalie in the backup role for long.” However, he acknowledged the risk that Andersen could help another team make a long playoff run.
TORONTO SUN: Lance Hornby doesn’t see Andersen going anywhere. The Leafs lack an experienced third option within their system as witnessed by Michael Hutchinson’s inconsistent play. The 14-day quarantine for players acquired from American clubs leaves little time to break in a new acquisition, there’s limited salary-cap space and management is focused on a top-six forward and blueline depth.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Andersen’s critics don’t care about those points raised by Hornby, they just want him gone. Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas, however, probably doesn’t share that view for exactly the reasons espoused by Hornby. Besides, it’ll take a fair bit of creativity and salary-cap gymnastics to ship out Andersen, bring in a suitable replacement and still pursue a top-six winger and perhaps a defenseman.
If the Leafs were to attempt to trade Andersen there might not be much of a market for his services. Many contenders have limited salary-cap space and more pressing issues elsewhere on their roster.
NHL Network’s Kevin Weekes recently reported sources claiming interest in heating up in Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick, Detroit’s Jonathan Bernier (though he’s currently sidelined) and San Jose’s Devan Dubnyk. Those options could be more palatable to teams seeking goaltending depth for the playoffs.
WHAT WILL THE BRUINS DO AT THE DEADLINE?
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: In a recent mailbag segment, Joe Haggerty was asked what the Bruins will do to address their anemic secondary scoring and injury-battered blueline. He cautions against giving up too much for a short-term fix for a club that might not be a legitimate Stanley Cup contender this season.
Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm would be a great fit on the Bruins’ defense but he won’t move the needle offensively. He doesn’t consider Buffalo Sabres winger Taylor Hall a pure goal scorer. Anaheim’s Rickard Rakell might be a better option but Haggerty is leery of taking him on, pointing to the Ducks’ offensive woes and low position in the standings. Other trade targets could be Detroit’s Bobby Ryan, Anthony Mantha or Marc Staal or New Jersey’s Kyle Palmieri or Dmitry Kulikov.
Jimmy Murphy recently reported multiple sources claiming the Bruins are scouting Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman David Savard. GM Don Sweeney is also continuing to monitor the situation with Ekholm and St. Louis Blues rearguard Vince Dunn. The Predators and Blues recently scouted the Bruins.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sweeney is being lambasted daily by his critics as Boston clings to the final playoff spot in the MassMutual East Division. Cap Friendly indicates the Bruins have $5.9 million in trade deadline cap space. However, their lack of sufficient tradeable assets makes it difficult to outbid other clubs in the trade market.
Haggerty made a great point that it might not be worthwhile wasting futures on short-term fixes on a club whose Stanley Cup window may be closed. That’s something Sweeney must carefully consider. Sacrificing the future for immediate returns that might not advance their Stanley Cup hopes will only cost them down the road, especially when they have aging core players like Patrice Bergeron, Tuukka Rask and Brad Marchand.
WILL THE DEVILS MOVE PALMIERI OR SUBBAN?
NEWSDAY: Andrew Gross wonders if New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello will target Kyle Palmieri before the trade deadline. The New Jersey Devils’ winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.
Lamoriello is in the market to replace sidelined captain Anders Lee, who suffered a season-ending knee injury. Gross believes Palmieri would be a good fit as he plays the type of hard-edge game Isles coach Barry Trotz prefers. He’s also tallied at least 24 goals in each of his full five seasons with the Devils.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW (via FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW): Jimmy Murphy reports Devils defenseman P.K. Subban is surfacing more frequently in trade rumors. He has a year remaining on his contract with a $9 million salary-cap hit but there’s a sense Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald would be willing to pick up a good portion of it. Subban has improved his defensive play while still logging big minutes and can still contribute to the power play.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Palmieri has expressed an interest in re-signing with the Devils and the two sides are said to have engaged in preliminary discussions. Nevertheless, Fitzgerald could consider moving the veteran winger if the cost of re-signing him proves too expensive. His current cap hit is $4.65 million and he could seek a substantial pay raise.
Murphy also pointed out Subban’s contract could be difficult to move right now even if the Devils picked up half his cap hit. That doesn’t mean he couldn’t be moved in the offseason but a trade-deadline deal seems remote.
UPDATE ON BUCHNEVICH
NEW YORK POST: A week after suggesting the Rangers face an important decision on whether to re-sign or move Pavel Buchnevich at the trade deadline, Larry Brooks believes the answer is re-signing the winger. He points out Buchnevich has become a productive top-six winger and a complete player with a strong work ethic at both ends of the ice, suggesting the Blueshirts re-sign him to a four- or five-year deal worth $5.5 million annually.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Buchnevich is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer. He’ll also be a year away from UFA eligibility. It’ll be interesting to see what he and the Rangers eventually agree to.