NHL Injury Outlook: Is Anyone Safe Now?
Mika Zibanejad lights up the Capitals, the Flyers keep rising in the Metro, the Wild and Blackhawks surge into playoff contention and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Mika Zibanejad scored five goals, including the winner in overtime, as the New York Rangers edged the Washington Capitals 6-5. Artemi Panarin and Tony DeAngelo each had three points for the Blueshirts. Zibanejad tied the club record for most goals in a single game. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin scored twice to move into a tie for the goal-scoring lead with 47 goals. With the win, the surging Rangers (76 points) are two points behind the New York Islanders for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot. The slumping Capitals, meanwhile, move into a tie with the Philadelphia Flyers for first in the Metropolitan Division with 87 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers are in a good position to overtake the Isles and the stumbling Columbus Blue Jackets. They must now be taken seriously as a playoff contender. The Capitals, on the other hand, appear to be in trouble. As per The Washington Post, a lack of cohesive team player (especially on defense) has led to a record of 14-15-2 since Dec. 23.
Meanwhile, the Flyers picked up their eighth straight victory by downing the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1. Earlier in the day, however, the Flyers learned winger James van Riemsdyk will be sidelined four-to-six weeks with an injured hand. The struggling Hurricanes (75 points) slipped three points out of playoff contention in the Eastern Conference. They also learned defenseman Brett Pesce is out for the season following shoulder surgery. His expected recovery period is four-to-six weeks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: While the Capitals flounder, the Flyers are poised to take over first place in the Metro. They’ve been red hot in 2020, showing no sign of slowing. The Hurricanes are really struggling with goaltenders James Reimer and Petr Mrazek sidelined since late February. If they don’t return to action soon, the Canes’ playoff hopes could be dashed.
The Ottawa Senators spoiled the return of former Senator Jean-Gabriel Pageau by hanging on to defeat the New York Islanders 4-3. Pageau was dealt by the Sens to the Isles at last Monday’s trade deadline. The loss leaves the Islanders (78 points) clinging to the final Eastern wild-card spot. They’ve won just two of their last 11 contests.
An overtime goal by Torey Krug carried the Boston Bruins over the Florida Panthers 2-1. It was the Bruins’ fourth consecutive victory while the Panthers dropped their eighth straight home game. The Bruins sit atop the overall standings with 98 points, while the Panthers (74 points) sit four points out of a playoff spot in the East.
The Tampa Bay Lightning blanked the Montreal Canadiens 4-0. Andrei Vasilevskiy kicked out 32 shots for the shutout while Victor Hedman tallied twice. The Bolts sit second in the Atlantic Division with 89 points. Before the game, Canadiens winger Tomas Tatar returned to Montreal for evaluation of an upper-body injury.
Patric Hornqvist scored twice and Evgeni Malkin collected two assists as the Pittsburgh Penguins doubled up the Buffalo Sabres 4-2, handing the latter their fifth straight defeat. The Pens have won two straight and sit third in the Metro with 84 points.
Zach Parise extended his goal streak to four games and Alex Stalock made 30 stops as the Minnesota Wild nipped the San Jose Sharks 3-2. With 75 points, the Wild leaped over four other clubs into the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A month ago, the Wild seemed done like dinner, especially after winger Jason Zucker was traded to Pittsburgh on Feb. 10. Since then, the Wild have won eight of their last 12 games and put themselves into the middle of the Western Conference playoff race.
The Nashville Predators got a 33-save shutout from Juuse Saros to blank the Dallas Stars 2-0. Filip Forsberg and Matt Duchene were the goal scorers. The Stars (82 points) remain in third place in the Central Division while the Predators (74 points) moved into a four-way tie with the Vancouver Canucks, Winnipeg Jets, and Arizona Coyotes for the final Western Conference wild-card berth. The Canucks hold the spot due to games in hand.
Alex DeBrincat scored twice to lead the Chicago Blackhawks over the Edmonton Oilers 4-3. Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane also netted his 30th goal of the season. Chicago (74 points) are four points out of playoff contention in the West, while the Oilers (80 points) remain two back of the first-place Vegas Golden Knights in the Pacific Division.
Shootout goals by Anze Kopitar and Adrian Kempe gave the Los Angeles Kings a 1-0 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick made 36 saves while the Leafs’ Frederik Andersen made 30. The Leafs (79 points) picked up a point and sit third in the Atlantic Division.
IN OTHER NEWS…
NJ.COM: Devils defenseman Will Butcher underwent season-ending surgery to repair ruptured ligaments in his right thumb.
TSN: The NHL Players Association canceled its April meeting with player agents because of the spread of the coronavirus.
NEW YORK POST: Former NHL player Matthew Barnaby was arrested on assault and public intoxication charges at a Nashville bar early Thursday morning.
Sidney Crosby has a four-point game, an update on Jay Bouwmeester, the Senators honor Chris Phillips, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby picked up four points in a 5-2 victory over the struggling Toronto Maple Leafs. Bryan Rust collected three points as the Penguins (80 points) moved into first place in the Metropolitan Division. Auston Matthews tallied his league-leading 43rd goal of the season for the Leafs (70 points), who cling to third place in the Atlantic Division. Penguins center Evgeni Malkin was a late scratch due to illness. Earlier in the day, the Penguins also revealed forward Zach Aston-Reese is week-to-week with a lower-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not to take anything away from the Penguins’ dominant performance, but that was a pathetic effort by the Leafs in a must-win game. They’ve dropped six of their last nine and remain in danger of slipping out of a playoff spot.
St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington made 17 saves to shut out the New Jersey Devils 3-0, snapping his club’s five-game losing skid. It was their first victory since Jay Bouwmeester suffered a cardiac incident last week in Anaheim. Bouwmeester released a statement yesterday indicating he’s on the road to recovery. With 76 points, the Blues hold a two-point lead over the Dallas Stars for first place in the Western Conference. Devils’ Will Butcher and Nick Merkley left the game with injuries.
The Ottawa Senators honored former defenseman Chris Phillips by retiring his number and thumping the Buffalo Sabres 7-4. They tallied four goals in a 3:29 span in the first period and sealed the two with two third-period goals. Jean-Gabriel Pageau led the way with two goals and two assists while Artem Anisimov also scored twice. Brandon Montour scored twice for the Sabres, who remain eight points behind the Leafs in the Atlantic.
Travis Konecny had a three-point performance as the Philadelphia Flyers rolled to a 5-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, leaving the latter winless in their last six games. The Flyers (73 points) vaulted over the New York Islanders and the Blue Jackets into third in the Metropolitan Division.
Carolina Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho scored to extend his points streak to 10 games in a 4-1 win over Nashville Predators. The Hurricanes (72 points) hold the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, while the Predators (65 points) remain three points out of a Western Conference wild-card berth.
Blake Wheeler and Nikolaj Ehlers each had three points as the Winnipeg Jets beat the Los Angeles Kings 6-3. With 67 points, the Jets are one point out of a Western Conference wild-card spot.
The Montreal Canadiens blew a 3-1 lead to fall 4-3 to the lowly Detroit Red Wings, who swept their four-game regular-season series. Andreas Athanasiou scored twice for the Wings, handing the Habs their fifth straight defeat.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: And with that, we can close the book on the Canadiens’ playoff hopes for 2020. Earlier in the day, they traded defenseman Marco Scandella to the St. Louis Blues for two draft picks. More moves are likely in store leading up to the Feb. 24 trade deadline. The Wings, meanwhile, won 15 games thus far this season. Four of those came against the Canadiens.
SPORTSNET: Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen received some good news when an MRI on his upper-body injury revealed no requirement for surgery. He’s expected to return before the end of the regular season.
TSN: Vancouver Canucks winger Brock Boeser will be sidelined eight weeks with a rib cartilage fracture.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks already made a significant move to address Boeser’s absence by acquiring Tyler Toffoli earlier this week. They might not be done dealing.
CBC.CA: A shoulder injury will sidelined Edmonton Oilers defenseman Oscar Klefbom for the next two-to-three weeks.
SPORTSNET: The New York Rangers acquired minor-league winger Julien Gauthier from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for minor-league defenseman Joey Keane.
Game recaps, the Devils re-sign Nico Hischier to a seven-year extension, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Edmonton Oilers picked up their seventh win in eight games by nipping the Detroit Red Wings 2-1. James Neal tallied his league-leading ninth goal while Darnell Nurse had two assists. The Wings have now lost five in a row. Earlier in the day, the league fined Wings forward Darren Helm $5000.00 for slashing Calgary Flames forward Elias Lindholm on Thursday.
Kris Letang scored twice in the third period as the Pittsburgh Penguins doubled up the Dallas Stars 4-2. Patric Hornqvist had a goal and two assists as the Penguins have won five straight games. The Stars, on the other hand, have dropped five straight.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins continue to win despite their injury-ravaged forward lines. The Stars are healthier but lack sufficient production from their top scorers.
The Colorado Avalanche edged the Florida Panthers 5-4 on an overtime goal by Nathan MacKinnon. Andre Burakovsky scored twice while Joonas Donskoi had three points as the Avs extended their points streak to seven games. Jonathan Huberdeau scored twice for the Panthers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Burakovsky and Donskoi have been fine additions to the Avs in the early going. Burakovsky sits third among their top scorers with eight points while Donskoi is fourth with six points.
T.J. Oshie scored two goals and John Carlson collected three assists to lead the Washington Capitals to a 5-2 victory over the New York Rangers, handing the latter their third straight defeat. Earlier in the day, the Capitals placed winger Richard Panik (upper body) on long-term injury reserve.
Adam Henrique scored his fourth goal in the last three games as the Anaheim Ducks beat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2. Ducks winger Jakob Silfverberg celebrated his 500th career NHL game by scoring a goal while Rickard Rakell collected two helpers. The Ducks remain unbeaten at home this season. Hurricanes broadcaster Mike Maniscalco will be on an indefinite medical leave as he undergoes treatment for a large mass in his stomach.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping Maniscalco makes a full recovery.
Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews scored in overtime in a 3-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat each had two points for the Blackhawks.
NORTHJERSEY.COM: The New Jersey Devils yesterday announced center Nico Hischier signed a seven-year, $50.75-million contract extension. The annual average value is $7.25 million.
Breakdown of Nico Hischier’s $50.75M, seven-year extension with #NJDevils:
$3M SB/$4M salary
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) October 18, 2019
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils wasted little time re-signing the 20-year-old Hischier to an extension. In the final season of his entry-level contract, he’s established himself as their first-line center. A skilled, creative playmaker, he enjoyed a 52-point rookie campaign followed by 47 points in 69 games last season.
The Devils now have Hischier under contract for most of his playing prime. They also avoided what could’ve been a long negotiation period next summer that could’ve stretched into the preseason. Given Hischier’s skills, they should be a great long-term deal for the Devils.
Rangers to buy out Kevin Shattenkirk, Avalanche re-signs Samuel Girard, and the Devils re-up Will Butcher. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
SPORTSNET: Multiple reports indicate the New York Rangers intend to buy out the contract of Kevin Shattenkirk.
CAP FRIENDLY: The 30-year-old defenseman has two years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $6.65 million.
#Rangers buying out the remaining 2 years of Shattenkirk’s contract would result in 4 years of buyout cap hit broken down as follows:
*It would save NY $5,166,667 in cap space this season. pic.twitter.com/0pG9p5leTO
— CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) July 31, 2019
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was confusion over when the Rangers would buy out Shattenkirk. Because they settled with Pavel Buchnevich before his arbitration hearing, the Rangers were allowed to buy out a player during a 48-hour window three days after Buchnevich’s contract was filed.
While the agreement with Buchnevich was signed on Friday, the deal wasn’t registered with the league until Saturday. Thus, the three-day period didn’t begin until Monday.
TSN: The Colorodo Avalanche re-signed defenseman Samuel Girard to a seven-year contract extension. The deal is worth $35 million with an annual salary-cap hit of $5 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Girard joined the Avs in November 2017 as part of the three-team deal with the Ottawa Senators and Nashville Predators that sent Matt Duchene to Ottawa. The 21-year-old rearguard has become an invaluable part of Colorado’s blueline. Given his youth he still has plenty of upside, potentially turning his new contract into a considerable bargain down the road.
NORTHJERSEY.COM: The New Jersey Devils avoided salary arbitration with defenseman Will Butcher, re-signing him to a three-year, $11.2-million deal. The AAV is $3.73 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A reasonable deal for both sides. Butcher had a 44-point rookie season in 2017-18 and netted 30 last season. He was a key part of the Devils power play during that time. The 24-year-old is a skilled puck-moving blueliner.
THE SCORE: The Buffalo Sabres and goaltender Linus Ullmark are about $2 million apart heading into salary arbitration on Aug. 2. Ullmark seeks an annual average value of $2.65 million while the Sabres countered with $800K per season.
AZCENTRAL.COM: Arizona Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson required four stitches and a tetanus shot after being bitten by the family dog in May. Ekman-Larsson confirmed the incident yesterday, indicating he’s recovered from the bite.
Alex Ovechkin nets second straight hat trick, Panthers re-sign Michael Matheson & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin become the first NHL player in 100 years to net back-to-back hat tricks to open a season, scoring four times to lead his club to a 6-1 thrashing of the Montreal Canadiens. Teammate Nate Walker also made history, becoming the first Australian to both play an NHL game and score a goal.
Rookie defenseman Will Butcher made franchise history for the New Jersey Devils, collecting three assists to help his club defeat the Colorado Avalanche 4-1. The Devils got the victory despite losing veteran forwards Drew Stafford and Kyle Palmieri to lower-body injuries. Palmieri left the game following a knee-on-knee hit from Avs defenseman Erik Johnson, but it was ruled unintentional by the league and he won’t face supplemental discipline.
Third-period goals by Tyler Bozak, Leo Komarov and Nazem Kadri lifted the Toronto Maple Leafs to a wild 8-5 win over the New York Rangers. Zach Hyman also scored twice for the Leafs, who led at one point 5-1 before the Rangers stormed back to tie the game in the second period. Mats Zuccarello netted four points in a losing cause for the Blueshirts.
T.J. Brodie had a four-point night as the Calgary Flames downed the Winnipeg Jets 6-3.
Bo Horvat scored twice as the Vancouver Canucks edged the Edmonton Oilers 3-2, holding Oilers captain Connor McDavid off the score sheet.
John Tavares and Casey Cizikas each scored two goals to lead the New York Islanders to a 6-3 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. Evander Kane also scored twice for the Sabres.
Anze Kopitar scored twice to lead the Los Angeles Kings to a 4-1 win over the San Jose Sharks.
Matt Murray turned in a 26-save shutout performance backstopping the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 4-0 blanking of the Nashville Predators. It was a costly win for the Pens, as defenseman Ian Cole left the game after being struck in the mouth by a Roman Josi shot.
Brandon Saad, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane each had a goal and an assist in the Chicago Blackhawks 5-1 thumping of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Blackhawks forward Nick Schmaltz left the game early in the first period with an upper-body injury and is considered day-to-day.
James Neal was the offensive hero again for the Vegas Golden Knights, tallying in overtime to give the expansion team their second-straight win by nipping the Arizona Coyotes 2-1.
Wayne Simmonds was the overtime hero as the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Anaheim Ducks 3-2.
Jake Allen made 38 saves as the St. Louis Blues doubled up the Dallas Stars 4-2.
Jaccob Slavin’s shootout goal gave the Carolina Hurricanes a 5-4 victory over the Minnesota Wild.
Frans Nielsen scored the only goal in the shootout to give the Detroit Red Wings a 2-1 win over the Ottawa Senators.
Evgenii Dadonov and Nick Bjugstad each had a goal and an assist as the Florida Panthers held on for a 5-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. During the pregame anthem, Lightning forward J.T. Brown held a fist aloft in a silent protest against police brutality toward minorities and racial inequality.
Before the game, the Panthers announced the signing of defenseman Michael Matheson to an eight-year, $39 million contract extension. The annual average value is $4.875 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Often overshadowed by teammate Aaron Ekblad, Matheson is a skilled puck-moving defenseman. I’d rank him as comparable to Carolina Hurricanes’ blueliner Jaccob Slavin, who also recently signed a lucrative contract extension. The Panthers obviously see Matheson playing a significant role on their blueline in the coming years.
Some might question why they didn’t sign him to a more affordable bridge deal. However, they’re simply following the recent trend of promising youngsters getting lucrative extensions before they’ve completed their entry-level contracts. Should Matheson develop as expected into a reliable top-pairing rearguard, this could prove to be an affordable long-term deal for the Panthers.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins fourth-line forward Noel Acciari will be sidelined six weeks after fracturing his right index finger blocking a shot during the Bruins’ season-opener against Nashville on Thursday.
SME SPORT: Former NHL center Zach Boychuk signed with the KHL’s HC Slovan Bratislava. (Stick tap to Alexander Wirdzek for the link).