NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 4, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 4, 2021

Brad Marchand and Alex Wennberg each tally a hat trick, the Stars and Sharks keep their playoff hopes alive and more Canucks added to the COVID-19 protocol list. Details and more in the NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Brad Marchand tallied a hat trick and David Pastrnak scored twice to lead the Boston Bruins over the Pittsburgh Penguins 7-5. Pittsburgh forwards Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel each had a goal and two assists. With the win, the Bruins (43 points) opened a four-point lead over the Philadelphia Flyers for fourth place in the MassMutual East Division. The Penguins (50 points) are seven points ahead of the Bruins in third, sitting two behind the second-place New York Islanders. The Bruins also learned defenseman Brandon Carlo is listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury suffered on Thursday against the Penguins. 

Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand (NHL Images)

Mathew Barzal scored the winner in a shootout as the Islanders nipped the Flyers 3-2. Anthony Beauvillier scored twice for the Isles but Claude Giroux countered with two to force extra time. The Islanders are tied with the Washington Capitals with 52 points but the latter holds first place in the East with a game in hand. Isles forward Ross Johnston left the game following a first-period fight with Flyers defenseman Samuel Morin and didn’t return.

The Buffalo Sabres picked up their second win in three games by edging the New York Rangers 3-2 in a shootout. Tage Thompson potted the winner for the Sabres. Artemi Panarin scored twice for the Rangers, who are tied with the Flyers with 39 points but the latter holds fifth place in the East Division with a game in hand.

The Tampa Bay Lightning picked up their 17th straight home victory over the Detroit Red Wings by edging the latter 2-1. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 25 saves while Ross Colton and Brayden Point tallied for the Lightning (54 points), who are tied with the Florida Panthers but hold first place in the Discover Central Division with a game in hand.

A hat trick by Alex Wennberg and a 44-save effort by Sergei Bobrovsky gave the Panthers a 5-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. The struggling Jackets sit seventh in the Central with 36 points. Jackets forward Jack Roslovic was a healthy scratch in his contest with just two points in his last six outings.

A 41-save shutout by Juuse Saros carried the Nashville Predators to a 3-0 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Eeli Tolvanen’s 10th goal of the season was also the winning goal as the Predators (41 points) have won seven of their last eight contests, opening a two-point lead over the Blackhawks for fourth in the Central Division.

The Dallas Stars kept their playoff hopes alive with a 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Tanner Kero broke a 2-2 tie while Jake Oettinger kicked out 41 shots for the Stars (36 points), who sit five points behind the fourth-place Predators in the Central Division. The Hurricanes (51 points) remain three points behind the Lightning and Florida Panthers in the Central.

Cale Makar’s goal within the final minute of regulation lifted the Colorado Avalanche over the St. Louis Blues 2-1. Nathan MacKinnon also scored for the Avs (54 points), who won their fourth straight and sit four points up on the Vegas Golden Knights in the Honda West Division. The Blues (38 points) remain one behind the fourth-place Arizona Coyotes.

Third-period goals by Kirill Kaprizov and Joel Eriksson Ek 55 seconds apart rallied the Minnesota Wild over the Vegas Golden Knights 2-1. With 48 points, the Wild are just two back of the second-place Golden Knights in the West Division.

A third-period goal by Dylan Gambrell gave the San Jose Sharks a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings. Evander Kane and Kevin Labanc each had a goal and an assist as the surging Sharks moved into a tie with the Blues, though the latter holds fifth in the West Division on the basis of regulation plus overtime wins.

The Ottawa Senators got two goals from Evgenii Dadonov and 35 saves from Anton Forsberg to beat the Montreal Canadiens 6-3, snapping the latter’s three-game win streak. Artem Anisimov also collected three assists for the Senators while Josh Anderson tallied twice for the Canadiens, who remain in fourth place in the Scotia North Division with 41 points. Habs winger Tyler Toffoli also scored in his return to the lineup after missing three games with a lower-body injury. The Senators played without Colin White, who’s day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

THE PROVINCE: Seven more Vancouver Canucks players were added to the NHL COVID-19 protocol list on Saturday while two more coaches also tested positive. Travis Boyd, Thatcher Demko, Jayce Hawryluk, Bo Horvat, Tyler Myers and Brandon Sutter were the new additions to the list. Several of the cases affecting the club are the highly contagious Brazilian P.1 variant.

Hawryluk is a positive case, marking the second time in a year he’s tested positive for COVID-19. Research shows the P.1 variant is capable of reinfecting people who previously suffered from other strains of the coronavirus.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the NHL is proceeding on the assumption the entire Canucks team will likely test positive. It’s built into the league’s planning going forward, similar to what happened at the start of the season with the Dallas Stars. This is a variant of the coronavirus the league hasn’t seen before.

The Canucks shutdown will last longer than anticipated. They will not be playing next week. The league has discussed future dates with the club but those won’t be announced for a while.

North Division games will likely be scheduled past May 11, using the week of May 10-14 as a buffer. The three US divisions could still start their playoffs on May 11. The league also remains confident it can complete the 56-game schedule.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports there are discussions about holding the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs in a bubble environment similar to last year, though it’s not something anyone wants at this point. Much will depend upon how things evolve between now and then.

Meanwhile, the NHL has issued a memo to its 31 teams reiterating the rules, regulations and best practices for mitigating the spread of COVID-19.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Previous outbreaks among several clubs have put a strain on the schedule, with most teams facing a grueling timetable over the next six weeks making up games postponed earlier in the season. That’s going to take a physical toll on the players over the next month.

The league wants to avoid moving the regular season and playoff schedules forward because they don’t want to push the postseason any deeper into the summer than it already is. They also don’t to risk the Stanley Cup Final being staged at the same time as the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, which are slated to begin on July 23.

Teams want to avoid a playoff bubble because it will adversely affect their already depleted revenue for this season. The players don’t want it because they’ll be separated for weeks from their families. Nevertheless, they could have little choice if the variants of the coronavirus lead to a significant increase in infections among the North American population.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 2, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 2, 2021

A five-point performance by the Islanders Mathew Barzal, three more Canucks games are postponed by COVID-19 protocols, division stars and rookie of the month for March are announced, Nathan MacKinnon fined, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Mathew Barzal’s hat trick carried the New York Islanders to an 8-4 romp over the Washington Capitals. Barzal finished with five points while teammate Jordan Eberle scored twice. John Carlson tallied twice for the Capitals, who lost goaltender Ilya Samsonov early in the first period following an accidental collision with teammate T.J. Oshie. The Islanders are tied with the Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins with 50 points but the Capitals remain in first place in the MassMutual East Division on the basis of a game in hand.

New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (NHL Images).

The Penguins, meanwhile, rode a 30-save performance by goaltender Casey DeSmith to a 4-1 victory over the Boston Bruins. Pittsburgh forward Branden Tanev returned to the lineup after missing six games and picked up an assist. The Penguins have won five straight but sit in third place behind the Islanders as the latter has two more regulation wins. Boston defenseman Brandon Carlo left the game with an upper-body injury. The Bruins sit fourth in the vision with 41 points, three ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers.

Speaking of the Rangers, they edged the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 on an overtime goal by Mika Zibanejad. Artemi Panarin collected two assists for the Blueshirts while Sabres goalie Dustin Tokarski kicked out 44 shots. The Rangers are tied with the Flyers with 38 points but the latter holds fifth place with a game in hand.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The East division is getting quite interesting. The Penguins have surged to jockey with the Capitals and Islanders for first place, the Bruins are clinging to fourth place but are being threatened by the Rangers, who could soon surpass the struggling Flyers.

Third-period goals by Ross Colton and Brayden Point 66 seconds apart lifted the Tampa Bay Lightning past the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 to snap a three-game losing streak. Point had two goals on the night while Andrei Vasilevskiy turned aside 36 shots. Zach Werenski had a goal and an assist for the Jackets. With 52 points, the Lightning holds onto first place in the Discover Central Division. The Jackets (36 points) remain in sixth place in the division, three points back of the Nashville Predators and Chicago Blackhawks.

An overtime goal by Alex Wennberg gave the Florida Panthers a 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Frank Vatrano scored the tying goal and collected an assist on Wennberg’s winner. The Panthers also have 52 points but remain in second place in the Central as the Lightning hold a game in hand.

The Carolina Hurricanes got a late goal by Jesper Fast to nip Chicago 4-3 and sit one point behind the Lightning and Panthers. Warren Foegele tallied twice for the Hurricanes. The Blackhawks remain tied with Nashville with 39 points but the latter holds fourth place in the Central on the basis of regulation wins.

As for the Predators, they missed an opportunity to open a lead over the Blackhawks as their six-game win streak ended in a 4-1 loss to the Dallas Stars. Joe Pavelski collected two assists for the Stars (34 points), who sit five behind the Predators and Blackhawks.

A shootout goal by Kevin Fiala lifted the Minnesota Wild past the Vegas Golden Knights by a score of 3-2. Cam Talbot had a 35-save performance while Kirill Kapizov had a goal and an assist for the Wild (46 points), who moved within four points of second-place Vegas in the Honda West Division. The Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche each have 50 points but the latter holds first place because of regulation wins.

The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Ottawa Senators 4-1 as Brendan Gallagher and Phillip Danault each had a goal and an assist. Jake Allen made 23 saves for the Habs, who hold a six-point lead for fourth place over the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks with 41 points.

HEADLINES

Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov is the star of the month for March in the Discover Central Division. Colorado Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer is the Honda West star of the month. Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby took home the honor for the MassMutual East Division while Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid is the Scotia North Division star for March.

Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic was named the NHL’s rookie of the month for March 2021.

The Vancouver Canucks have had three additional games postponed as forwards Adam Gaudette and Travis Hamonic and a member of the coaching staff were placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list earlier this week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gaudette and his wife faced some flak on social media by several folks alleging they failed to properly protect themselves from COVID-19. In fact, the couple followed all guidelines and were informed they did nothing wrong by the team and health officials. The Gaudettes have no idea how they caught the coronavirus and don’t deserve being hounded by some ill-informed fans.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon received a $5,000.00 fine from the NHL department of player safety for unsportsmanlike conduct against Arizona Coyotes winger Conor Garland on Wednesday.

Vegas Golden Knights forward Chandler Stephenson received a three-game suspension for elbowing Los Angeles Kings defenseman Tobias Bjornfot on Wednesday.

NEW YORK POST: Brendan Lemieux requested a trade from the Rangers prior to their dealing him last week to the Los Angeles Kings for a fourth-round pick. Lemieux made the request as he wanted to play for a team where he’d have a more meaningful role. He’d been seeing fourth-line duty this season with the Rangers.

THE SCORE: Roberto Luongo is expected to be named general manager of Team Canada’s 2021 World Championship team.

SPORTSNET: Wisconsin forward Cole Caufield, Minnesota State goaltender Dryden McKay and North Dakota forward Shane Pinto are this year’s finalists for the Hobey Baker Award. Caufield recently signed an entry-level contract with the Montreal Canadiens while Pinto inked a similar deal with the Ottawa Senators.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 31, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 31, 2021

The Canadiens get a shutout win in their first game in 10 days, the injury bug bites the Panthers again, the Flyers put Shayne Gostisbehere on waivers, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price made 17 saves for his 49th career shutout to blank the Edmonton Oilers 4-0. Brendan Gallagher had a goal and an assist for the Canadiens in their first game since March 20. With 39 points, the Habs opened a four-point lead over the Calgary Flames for fourth place in the Scotia North Division with five games in hand. The Oilers (45 points) remain a point back of the second-place Winnipeg Jets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A good start for a rested Canadiens squad in their first game in 10 days after COVID-19 protocols postponed four of their games. The Oilers were a tired bunch playing their third game in four nights.

New York Rangers winger Artemi Panarin (NHL Images).

Artemi Panarin had a goal and two assists as the New York Rangers tallied four unanswered third-period goals in a 5-2 win over the Washington Capitals. Igor Shesterkin kicked out 30 shots for the Rangers (36 points), who sit five points behind the fourth-place Boston Bruins in the MassMutual East Division. The first-place Capitals (50 points) remain two points up on the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Bruins, meanwhile, overcame a 4-2 deficit to defeat the New Jersey Devils 5-4 on shootout goals by Charlie Coyle and David Pastrnak. Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood made 44 saves. Bruins winger Marchand returned after missing one game to COVID-19 protocols while defenseman Brandon Carlo played his first game since being sidelined by an upper-body injury on March 5. With 41 points, the Bruins sit three up on the fifth-place Philadelphia Flyers in the East Division.

An overtime goal by Eeli Tolvanen lifted the Nashville Predators over the Dallas Stars 3-2. Tolvanen and Calle Jarnkrok each had a goal and an assist while Juuse Saros made 33 saves as Nashville picked up their sixth straight victory. With 39 points, the Predators sit fourth in the Discover Central Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators’ playoff hopes were fading away two weeks ago and they seemed destined to become sellers before the April 12 trade deadline. Management might be rethinking its trade plans as they surge back into postseason contention.

A 31-save performance by Kevin Lankinen enabled the Chicago Blackhawks to hold off the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1. Alex DeBrincat tallied his 19th goal of the season for the Blackhawks, who are tied with the Predators but sit fifth in the Central because of two fewer regulation wins. The Hurricanes (49 points) are third in the division, one point back of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers.

The Panthers, meanwhile, got two goals from Carter Verhaeghe to down the Detroit Red Wings 4-1. Sergei Bobrovsky made 35 stops for the win. Florida winger Anthony Duclair left the game with an upper-body injury and is expected to be sidelined a week to 10 days. The Panthers are tied with the Lightning with 50 points but sit in second place in the division as the latter hold a game in hand.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Duclair joins Aleksander Barkov (lower-body), Patric Hornqvist (undisclosed) and Aaron Ekblad (fractured left leg) on the Panthers’ injury list. Eklad is done for at least the regular season following surgery on Monday.

Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins made 37 stops in a 3-1 upset of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Nick Foligno had two assists for the Blue Jackets (36 points), who sit three points behind the Predators in the Central. The Lightning (50 points) have lost three straight.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers raised eyebrows yesterday by placing Shayne Gostisbehere on waivers, generating speculation over the 27-year-old defenseman’s future with the club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gostisbehere has struggled since Alain Vigneault became the Flyers head coach in 2019. His $4.5 million salary-cap hit makes it unlikely he’ll be claimed. The Flyers could put him on their taxi squad or demote him to their AHL affiliate if he clears waivers at noon ET today. There’s also talk he could be traded if he goes unclaimed.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks forward Adam Gaudette tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday. He was participating in practice when informed of the test results and left the ice immediately. Tonight’s game between the Canucks and Flames will depend upon the results of contact tracing and additional testing of players and staff.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gaudette was retested yesterday and will be tested again today.

SPORTSNET: Canucks forward Justin Bailey underwent season-ending shoulder surgery on Monday. He’s been sidelined since Feb. 11.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 8, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 8, 2021

Recaps of Sunday’s action plus the latest on Brandon Carlo, Tom Wilson and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: First-period goals by Anders Lee and Brock Nelson 62 seconds apart powered the New York Islanders to a 5-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres. It was the Isles’ fifth straight victory and the Sabres’ seventh consecutive loss. Nelson scored twice while Jeff Skinner tallied his first of the season for Buffalo.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders (34 points) hold a two-point lead over the Washington Capitals for first place in the MassMutual East Division.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

Alex Ovechkin tallied career goal 714 and Ilya Samsonov made 36 saves as the Capitals downed the Philadelphia Flyers 3-1. Before the game, Ovechkin weighed in on teammate Tom Wilson’s seven-game suspension for boarding Boston Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo, calling it “a kind of joke.” Wilson will not appeal the suspension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I understand Ovechkin is sticking up for his teammate but I wonder if he’d feel the same way if, say, Brad Marchand (like Wilson, a skilled player with a history of reckless play) hit one of the Capitals in the same way Wilson did to Carlo.

New Jersey Devils goaltender Scott Wedgewood turned in a 40-save shutout to blank the Bruins 1-0. Kyle Palmieri tallied the only goal. Speaking of Carlo, he was released from the hospital on Saturday and is listed as week-to-week with a head injury.

The Tampa Bay Lightning overcame a 3-0 deficit to down the Chicago Blackhawks 6-3. Four of their goals came on the power play as they extended their points streak to eight games. Yanni Gourde led the way with two goals and two assists. Blackhawks defenseman Connor Murphy received a match penalty for a dangerous hit to the head of Lightning blueliner Erik Cernak and could face supplemental discipline. The Hawks also played without rearguard Calvin de Haan, who’s ailing from blocking a shot during Friday’s game between the two clubs.

Sebastian Aho had a goal and an assist as the Carolina Hurricanes doubled up the Florida Panthers 4-2. Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle played his 1,000th career NHL game. With the win, the Hurricanes (35 points) are one point behind the first-place Lightning in the Discover Central Division and one point ahead of the Panthers.

A three-point performance by Kasperi Kapanen helped the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the New York Rangers 5-1. The Penguins blew the game open with three goals by Kapanen, John Marino and Sidney Crosby within 61 seconds in the second period. Pittsburgh (29 points) moved two points ahead of the Flyers into fourth in the East Division. Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba picked up an assist in his first game since suffering a broken thumb on Feb. 16.

The Nashville Predators nipped the Dallas Stars 4-3 on a shootout goal by Roman Josi. The Stars overcame a 3-0 deficit with three third-period goals to force overtime and the shootout.

A shootout goal by Drake Batherson gave the Ottawa Senators a 4-3 win over the Calgary Flames, who dropped their second straight game since firing head coach Geoff Ward.

IN OTHER NEWS…

TSN: Edmonton Oilers forward Kailer Yamamoto was fined $3, 854.17 for tripping Calgary Flames defenseman Rasmus Andersson during Saturday’s game.

MLIVE.COM: Detroit Red Wings forward Tyler Bertuzzi remains sidelined by an upper-body injury suffered on Jan. 30. He hasn’t practiced in five weeks and there’s no timetable for his return.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers president John Davidson reached out to Barry Beck after the former Rangers captain recently wrote a scathing Facebook post blaming the Rangers, USA Hockey and the NHL for the death of former teammate Mark Pavelich, who passed away last week at age 63.

Beck believes Pavelich’s struggles late in his life were attributable to head trauma suffered during his playing career with the Rangers in the 1980s. He criticized the club and USA Hockey for what he considered their lack of support of Pavelich. He also called the NHL “cowards” for avoiding discussion about the lasting effect of brain and head injuries suffered while playing. Pavelich’s death is still under investigation.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 6, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 6, 2021

Recaps of Friday’s games, Brent Seabrook retires, Sabres GM speaks about his club’s poor performance and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Brad Marchand scored twice and set up another to lead the Boston Bruins over the Washington Capitals 5-1. Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom collected an assist to give him 700 for his career. Capitals winger Tom Wilson could face supplemental discipline after he drilled Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo in the head during the first period. Wilson was unpenalized on the play while Carlo left the game and was taken to hospital for his injury.

Washington Capitals winger Tom Wilson (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wilson has a history of questionable hits stretching back to 2015. His previous antics earned him four fines and three suspensions totaling 23 games.

A shootout goal by Philipp Kurashev lifted the Chicago Blackhawks to a 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Alex DeBrincat scored twice, Patrick Kane collected two helpers and Malcolm Subban made 39 saves for the win.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks have proven to be a handful for the Lightning in this series compared to their previous one earlier in the season. It’s indicative of how much the Hawks have improved since the opening weeks of the schedule.

David Perron’s game-tying goal late in the third period set the stage for Mike Hoffman’s overtime winner as the St. Louis Blues edged the Los Angeles Kings 3-2. Perron scored twice while Ryan O’Reilly assisted on every Blues goal. The Kings have dropped four straight.

The Colorado Avalanche got an overtime goal by Valeri Nichushkin to nip the Anaheim Ducks 3-2. Avs center Nathan MacKinnon remained sidelined by an apparent head injury suffered during Wednesday’s game against San Jose. He received clearance to play but was a late scratch to avoid further injury. Head coach Jared Bednar believes MacKinnon could miss a couple of more games.

A three-goal first period powered the Minnesota Wild to a 5-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes. Jordan Greenway and Mats Zuccarello each had a goal and an assist while Kirill Kaprizov and Marcus Foligno both collected two assists.

Max Pacioretty scored in overtime as the Vegas Golden Knights downed the San Jose Sharks 5-4. Pacioretty scored twice and added an assist. Vegas goalie Oscar Dansk made 24 saves to pick up his first win since 2017.

HEADLINES

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook announced his playing career is over due to injuries. The 35-year-old blueliner’s last game was Dec. 15, 2019, after which he underwent surgery on both of his hips and right shoulder. He then suffered a back injury during the opening day of training camp in January. Seabrook finishes his career with three Stanley Cups (2010, 2013, 2015), an Olympic Gold Medal (2010) and 464 points in 1,114 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seabrook spent his entire 15-year NHL career with the Blackhawks and played a crucial role in their rise from league laughingstock to three-time Stanley Cup champion. He hasn’t officially retired, however, as he has three years and $15 million in actual salary remaining on his contract. He’ll remain on long-term injury reserve, which will provide the Blackhawks with a measure of salary-cap relief.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams expressed his unhappiness yesterday over his club’s poor performance. He called where the team was at this time “unacceptable”, criticized what he called a lack of competitiveness by the players, emphasized he has “full authority on hockey decisions,” indicated “everything is being evaluated” when asked about head coach Ralph Krueger’s status and claimed team captain Jack Eichel has not requested a trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Adams’ statement seemed to be the club’s attempt to mollify Sabres fans upset with the club’s lack of progress. Talk is one thing, action is another. The fans are more interested in what, if anything, the current management intends to do to end this team’s decade of mediocrity.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Former Canadiens goaltending coach Stephane Waite said the club expected starting goalie Carey Price would struggle in January and February as he adjusted to sharing his workload this season with backup Jake Allen. Price was expected to improve as the season wore on and saw more starts.

Waite also said the long-time Habs netminder isn’t at 100 percent physically but he can still play. “He’s not hurt but he has some stiffness. He has to learn to play with the pain and that’s why we need a very good backup and that’s what we have in Montreal right now.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This will further stoke debate among Canadiens fans over whether Price will ever regain his once-dominant form on a consistent basis.

THE SCORE: Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning said he’s not looking to make a coaching change. Bench boss Travis Green is in the final season of his contract but Benning believes Green and his staff “have done a good job with our group”. As for trades, the Canucks GM said his struggling team has to figure this out from within as new players would have to quarantine for two weeks and regain their conditioning.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: So, no Jake Virtanen to the Anaheim Ducks for Danton Heinen as rumored a week ago?

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers are breathing a sigh of relief as they learned goaltender Igor Shesterkin suffered a mild groin strain during Thursday’s win over the New Jersey Devils. He had to be helped off the ice at the end of the third period when he was unable to put weight on his right leg. He’s listed as day-to-day.

STARTRIBUNE.COM: Former 1980 Team USA forward Mark Pavelich, 63, was found dead in a Minnesota treatment facility. Pavelich helped Team USA upset the powerful Soviet Union squad on route to winning Olympic gold in 1980. He went on to spend six seasons in the NHL with the New York Rangers, Minnesota North Stars and San Jose Sharks, tallying 329 points in 355 games.

Pavelich was arrested in 2019 and charged with a violent assault on his neighbor but was found mentally incompetent to stand trial. Family and friends believe his condition was linked to head trauma suffered during his playing career. He was receiving treatment for his condition and was believed to be making progress at the time of his death.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Pavelich’s family, friends and former teammates.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 31, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 31, 2020

More on the league’s potential plans for 2020-21, no Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2021, plus the latest on Tyler Seguin, Roope Hintz, Vince Dunn, Alexander Steen and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan reports NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league intends to take its time exploring its options for 2020-21 despite a tentative start date of Jan. 1. He also indicated it appears last season’s seven non-playoff clubs will get additional training camp time, though it hasn’t yet been finalized with the NHL Players Association.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly (NHL.com).

Daly also dismissed the idea that the NHL must crown a Stanley Cup champion before the Tokyo Summer Olympics begin on July 22, 2021. He said there’s a lot to be played out on the Olympic front, adding the league has models that extend beyond the Olympic period.

Border restrictions between Canada and the United States will also factor in what the 2020-21 schedule looks like. If travel for NHL teams remains difficult between the two countries, it could result in what Daly called a possibility to “create competition within the league among the Canadian clubs.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s interesting to note that Daly isn’t rejecting the notion of the NHL schedule coinciding with the Summer Olympics. However, I don’t think that’s going to benefit the league if the playoffs are going on during the two weeks when their main US broadcaster is putting its focus on the Tokyo Games. If the Olympics are canceled or the dates changed, however, it wouldn’t affect the league’s US TV coverage.

For now, of course, this is all speculation. We don’t know yet how long the NHL season will be, let alone when the puck drops for certain.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy reports Bruins defenseman and NHLPA representative Brandon Carlo said the PA and its members remain committed to staging a full 82-games schedule for 2020-21.

Murphy believes one reason behind the 82-game push is to avoid the possibility of the league looking to amend the new collective bargaining agreement to prorate player salaries if the season is shortened by COVID-19.

Carlo also suggested there would be some hesitancy among the players to play under quarantine bubbles again, though they are open to ideas. However, they would be reluctant to be separated from their families as they were during the 2020 playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: One possibility recently raised is starting next season in several hub cities where the teams play for two weeks, followed by a week back in their home cities to practice and reunite with their families. That scenario could be acceptable to the PA membership.

SPORTSNET: The Hockey Hall of Fame announced it is postponing the induction ceremony for the Class of 2020 to next year and will not name a new class for 2021.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The induction weekend is a significant event that involves a Hall of Fame game in Toronto on the Saturday prior to the actual induction ceremony gala, which takes place in the Hall with family, friends and former teammates of the inductees, as well as NHL executives and established Hall of Famers in attendance. The pandemic makes it impossible to safely stage those events.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars forward Tyler Seguin is expected to undergo hip surgery next week. His recovery period could take four months.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seguin labored through that injury (and a lingering knee injury) during the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs, during which he got some flak from fans and pundits for what they considered a sub-par performance on his part, with calls that he should “step up his play”. Once again, it’s worth remembering that an NHL player performing below expectations in the postseason could be nursing an injury that adversely affects their game.

Stars general manager Jim Nill said he hopes to have a new deal for Roope Hintz within the next week or two. The 23-year-old forward is a restricted free agent without arbitration rights. Nill said he’s had great discussions with Hintz’s agent. The Stars have about $4 million in cap space. Hintz’s new contract could carry an annual cap hit of between $2.5 million and $3 million.

The Stars also signed Julius Honka to a one-year, two-way contract worth $700K at the NHL level. The 24-year-old defenseman spent last season playing in Finland and had asked for a trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Honka is well down the Stars’ blueline depth chart and faces a daunting challenge cracking the lineup. He must also clear waivers to be demoted to their AHL affiliate.

STLTODAY.COM: St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong isn’t concerned over Vince Dunn remaining unsigned, indicating the 24-year-old defenseman is still part of their plans for next season. He pointed out it’s not unusual for restricted free agents to wait until training camp to sign contracts.

The Blues are about $1.1 million over the $81.5 million salary cap. However, Armstrong pointed out they’ll have “an abundance of cap space” given the Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen “situations”. Tarasenko will miss the start of the season recovering from shoulder surgery. Armstrong’s comments are a strong indicator Steen could miss the start of the season with an undisclosed injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly lists Tarasenko and Steen on injured reserve. Their combined salaries ($13.25 million) provides the Blues with ample room to re-sign Dunn. It could also provide sufficient room to make a short-term addition to their roster if necessary.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs signed restricted free agent forward Joey Anderson to a three-year contract (two-way in the first two seasons) worth an annual average value of $750K. They also signed unrestricted free agent goalie Michael Hutchinson to a two-year, two-way contract worth $750K annually.

SPORTSNET: The Ontario government reaffirmed its stance that bodychecking and deliberate physical contact will not take place during sports amid the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) indicates it will follow scientific studies in crafting its return-to-play plan.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Bob McKenzie raises some important questions about the Ontario government’s plan: