NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 1, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 1, 2024

The Avalanche and Hurricanes advance to the second round, the Leafs and Predators avoid elimination, the Calder Trophy Finalists are announced, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Colorado Avalanche defeated the Winnipeg Jets 6-3 to win their best-of-seven opening-round series four games to one. Mikko Rantanen scored twice and Alexandar Georgiev stopped 34 shots for the Avalanche. They await the winner of the Dallas Stars-Vegas Golden Knights series.

Colorado Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Georgiev silenced his critics (including me) with his performance during this series. After giving up seven goals on 23 shots in Game 1, he allowed eight in the next four games with a .931 save percentage.

Winnipeg entered this series tied with the Florida Panthers for the fewest goals-against per game (2.41). Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck is a Vezina Trophy finalist who won the Jennings Trophy as the goalie who played a minimum of 25 games for the team allowing the fewest regular-season goals.

However, the Jet couldn’t contain the Avs’ offense, finishing this round with the highest goals-against per game (5.40) while Hellebuyck allowed the most goals (24) among all first-round goalies thus far. They are also the first team in NHL playoff history to allow at least five goals in five straight games in a postseason round.

Three unanswered third-period goals gave the Carolina Hurricanes to a 6-3 victory over the New York Islanders to take their first-round series four games to one. Jack Drury scored the winning goal and Seth Jarvis had a goal and two assists for the Hurricanes, who will face the New York Rangers in the second round.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Carolina’s offensive depth proved too much to contain for the Islanders. Credit Isles goaltender Semyon Varlamov for keeping his club in most of these games but his teammates lack the scoring punch to hand with the Hurricanes.

An overtime goal by Matthew Knies lifted the Toronto Maple Leafs over the Boston Bruins 2-1 in Game 5 of their first-round series. Jake McCabe also scored and Joseph Woll made 27 saves for the Leafs. Trent Frederic replied for the Bruins as they hold a 3-2 series lead. Game 6 is Thursday, May 2 at 8 pm EDT.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the Leafs’ best game of the series. Woll’s steady goaltending gave them confidence and they did a good job containing Boston’s leading scorers. The Bruins at times appeared flat during this contest while the Leafs were fighting to keep their season alive.

The Leafs got the win without top center Auston Matthews, who missed this game with an undisclosed illness.

The Nashville Predators overcame a 1-0 deficit to beat the Vancouver Canucks 2-1 in Game 5 of their first-round series on goals by Roman Josi and Alexandre Carrier. Juuse Saros made 19 saves for the win. Nikita Zadorov scored and Arturs Silov turned aside 20 shots for the Canucks, who hold a 3-2 lead in this series. Game 6 is Friday (start time TBA).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a goaltender’s duel through the first two periods. It looked like the Canucks were going to put this one away following Zadorov’s goal but the Predators refused to quit.

The Predators caught a break on Josi’s goal as the puck squirted behind Silov. The Canucks goalie tried to roll over to cover the puck but was inadvertently pushed during a goalmouth scramble, knocking the puck across the goal line.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: Chicago Blackhawks center Connor Bedard, Minnesota Wild defenseman Brock Faber, and New Jersey Devils blueliner Luke Hughes are this season’s finalists for the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s Rookie of the Year.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to the finalists. Bedard is considered the favorite to win but Faber could make this interesting. He enjoyed a strong debut with the Wild, finishing among the rookie leaders in points and sitting among the league’s top-10 skaters in time on ice per game.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: T.J. Oshie said he has much to consider regarding his future as a player. The 37-year-old Washington Capitals winger said he’s been dealing with chronic back issues for years among other ailments.

Oshie has a year left on his contract. He said he’d love to play next season but needs assurances that he can do so without his back giving out. The Capitals winger intends to seek treatment during the offseason.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Oshie has never played a full NHL season due to injuries. He saw action in only 52 games in 2023-24.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Flyers captain Sean Couturier recently changed agents and is now represented by Pat Brisson. One reason behind the change could be due to his former agent criticizing Flyers coach John Tortorella for benching Couturier for two games. The veteran center took responsibility for his poor play leading to his benching.

Speaking of the Flyers, top prospect Matvei Michkov might be able to join the club next season if the KHL allows him out of his contract with SKA St. Petersburg. Michkov’s contract runs through 2025-26 but SKA chairman Alexander Medvedev said he has a good relationship with the Flyers front office and has regularly spoken with them.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s nothing set in stone here but Medvedev said a decision on Michkov’s future could come by the end of June.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators defenseman Thomas Chabot could undergo wrist surgery in the coming weeks. The recovery time would be between two and three months.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The sooner Chabot has the surgery the more likely he’ll be fully recovered in time for training camp in September.

DAILY FACEOFF: Speaking of the Senators, they reportedly interviewed Travis Green for their vacant head-coaching position. Green is currently the interim coach of the New Jersey Devils.

THE ATHLETIC: And speaking of New Jersey, Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Kyle Dubas denied speculation that head coach Mike Sullivan could become the next Devils head coach. Dubas said the Devils haven’t sought permission to speak with Sullivan nor have they been granted permission.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This sounds like another example of the hockey media “telephone” game. A pundit wonders whether Sullivan would be interested in coaching the Devils because he’s friends with their general manager. People start talking about it and it morphs into Sullivan trying to get out of his contract with the Penguins to coach the Devils.

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Canadiens winger Juraj Slakovskiy is undergoing some medical procedures in Montreal. It will delay him joining Slovakia at the upcoming World Championships in Czechia but isn’t expected to prevent him from playing in the tournament.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 19, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – April 19, 2024

Check out the latest on the Senators and Penguins as they head off into the offseason in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

THE LATEST SENATORS SPECULATION

THE ATHLETIC: Ian Mendes looked at the burning questions facing Ottawa Senators general manager Steve Staios heading into the offseason.

Topping the list is determining the Senators’ next head coach. Staios will have competition as the Buffalo Sabres are also in the market for a new bench boss while the Los Angeles Kings, New Jersey Devils and St. Louis Blues have interim coaches.

Candidates could include established NHL coaches like Craig Berube, Dean Evason and Todd McLellan, AHL coaches such as John Gruden and Joel Bouchard, or current NHL assistant coaches like Doug Houda and Chris Kelly.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s rumored Gruden is at the top of Staios’ wish list.

Goaltending is another area to be addressed as Joonas Korpisalo and Anton Forsberg didn’t have good seasons. Staios believes the duo is better than their stats suggest and expects they’ll have a better offseason in preparation for 2024-25.

Korpisalo has four years and $16 million left on his contract while Forsberg has a year left. Mendes suggested bringing in a third goalie if trading one of the other two isn’t possible and sorting things out during training camp.

Ottawa Senators defenseman Jakob Chychrun (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch claimed the Senators kicked tired on Boston’s Linus Ullmark before the March trade deadline and could revisit their interest. However, Ullmark has a 15-team no-trade list. The Senators could be on that list.

Mendes pointed out that Jake Sanderson is evolving into the Senators’ No. 1 defenseman. Staios might have to choose between Thomas Chabot and Jakob Chychrun.

Chabot’s no-trade clause kicks in on July 1 while Chychrun is a year away from unrestricted free-agent eligibility. Like Sanderson, they’re left-shot defensemen who are more comfortable on their natural side.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ottawa Sun’s Tim Baines reported Chychrun is uncertain about his future with the Senators. He was the subject of trade speculation leading up to the trade deadline that bothered the 26-year-old blueliner.

It’ll be interesting to see if Chychrun or Chabot are still with the Senators after July 1. One of them could be traded for a right-shot defenseman.

Who do you prefer as a trade candidate, Senators fans? Let me know in the comments section below.

Mendes also wondered what Staios would do with aging defenseman Travis Hamonic. He has a year left on his contract with a $1.1 million cap hit but he holds a full no-movement clause. Restricted free agent blueliner Erik Brannstrom could become a trade candidate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Garrioch suggested a contract buyout for Hamonic. He also believes forward Mathieu Joseph could get peddled in this summer’s trade market. He lacks no-trade protection and has two years left on his contract with an average annual value of $2.95 million.

UPDATE ON THE PENGUINS

THE ATHLETIC: Rob Rossi speculated on possible offseason changes for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

He expects head coach Mike Sullivan will be back but assistant coaches Todd Reirden and Mike Vellucci could be replaced. Offseason acquisition Erik Karlsson will be back given his large salary-cap hit and full no-movement clause.

The goalie situation remains murky. Struggling starter Tristan Jarry’s contract won’t be easily moved, at least for a quality return. Alex Nedeljkovic is due to become a UFA on July 1 while promising Joel Blomqvist is their most NHL-ready prospect.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Joe Starkey believes the Penguins need to move on from Jarry. He suggested retaining some of his $5.375 million AAV to make it happen but he could still prove difficult to move.

General manager Kyle Dubas couldn’t find any takers for winger Reilly Smith at the trade deadline. Finding a deal this summer isn’t guaranteed. Rickard Rakell’s trade value might improve given his late-season surge.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas isn’t planning on rebuilding his roster but must find a way to shed some salary and bring in some younger, affordable talent this summer.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 9, 2024

NHL Rumor Mill – January 9, 2024

The fallout from the Leafs re-signing William Nylander, an update on Oilers goalie Jack Campbell, and the latest on the Senators in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

FALLOUT FROM THE NYLANDER SIGNING

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan believes the work has just begun for Maple Leafs general manager Brad Treliving after signing William Nylander yesterday to an eight-year, $92 million contract extension.

On July 1, captain John Tavares and winger Mitch Marner will be eligible to sign contract extensions as they’ll both be in the final season of their current deals. Marner’s next contract will probably cost between $11.5 million annually and $13.25 million.

Treliving could also consider tweaking his roster by the March 8 trade deadline. Bolstering the defense remains a priority. He could also look at adding a depth forward.

TORONTO STAR: Kevin McGran also noted that T.J. Brodie, Tyler Bertuzzi and Max Domi are slated to become unrestricted free agents on July 1. Meanwhile, goaltender Ilya Samsonov continues to work on improving his game with the AHL Marlies.

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski speculates Nylander’s new contract could come up in contract negotiations between the Vancouver Canucks and Elias Pettersson. The difference, however, is Nylander was slated to become a UFA on July 1 whereas Pettersson is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.

Florida Panthers forward Sam Reinhart and Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jake Guentzel could also benefit from Nylander’s new deal. They’re a little older but could make the case for seeking over $10 million annually on their new contracts.

Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It will likely cost the Leafs more than Nylander’s $11.5 million and less than Auston Matthew’s $13.25 million AAV to get Marner under contract. He could come in between $12 million and $12.5 million on a long-term deal.

Tavares is playing well but the 33-year-old Leafs captain will have to accept a pay cut from his current $11 million AAV to stay in Toronto. How much of a cut will determine whether he has a future with the Leafs beyond July 1, 2025. It’ll have to go at least below $10 million for sure.

The Leafs can afford to re-sign Brodie, Bertuzzi and Domi but they won’t overpay to do so. It won’t be surprising if at least one of them ends up hitting the open market on July 1.

Pettersson is two years younger than Nylander and keeping pace with the Leafs winger in points. I wouldn’t be shocked if he ended up with a similar contract given his value to the surging Canucks.

Reinhart and Guentzel could get over $10 million annually on their next contracts with the salary cap rising by $4.2 million for 2024-25. Whether they get them from their current clubs remains to be seen.

WILL THE OILERS TRY TO MOVE CAMPBELL?

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland intends to see if Jack Campbell can bounce back though there’s no real sign of it yet.

I’ll watch Jack Campbell, I’ll work the phones, I’ll watch our team and ultimately between now and the trade deadline, make some decisions with our staff as to what we think we need to do,” said Holland.

LeBrun speculates the Oilers GM could attempt to add a veteran goalie to be a 1B with Stuart Skinner or a more traditional backup. He thinks a goalie trade is possible but doesn’t see a likely scenario where they can move Campbell’s contract before the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun thinks it could cost the Oilers two first-round picks to convince a club to take on the remaining three years of Campbell’s contract. Unless the Oilers are willing to retain up to half of his $5 million average annual value, I don’t see him going anywhere by deadline day.

LATEST ON THE SENATORS

SPORTSNET: Wayne Scanlan believes roster changes are inevitable for the struggling Ottawa Senators. With their playoff hopes fading away, management must decide who stays and who goes.

Scanlan wonders what effect the years of losing could have on defenseman Thomas Chabot and team captain Brady Tkachuk. He wondered if the new front office is as devout to sticking with the mantra of building with youth as their predecessors.

General manager Steve Staios has publicly said he wants to add a veteran or two. However, there is a theory that he could also attempt to shake things up by moving one or two of the young core players.

THE ATHLETIC: Ian Mendes believes all eyes will be on Senators forwards Vladimir Tarasenko and Dominik Kubalik leading up to the March 8 trade deadline. Both are eligible to become unrestricted free agents on July 1.

Mendes also noted that Thomas Chabot’s no-trade clause kicks in on July 1. While it seems doubtful the Senators would trade their best defenseman, the new regime in charge isn’t beholden to anyone on this roster as they didn’t acquire any of them.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports Staios is trying to juggle salary-cap space to make room for center Shane Pinto once he’s finished serving his 41-game suspension later this month. He’ll have to demote someone or make a cost-cutting trade.

Garrioch also reports Staios will find it difficult to add one or two veteran players at this time. Teams that have good character players prefer to keep them and those that are available come with a high asking price. A league executive also said those players prefer going to a playoff contender rather than Ottawa.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Garrioch indicated Staios and his front office team aren’t ready to move core players like Chabot, Tkachuk, Tim Stutzle, Josh Norris, Drake Batherson and Jake Sanderson. We won’t see any of those guys being peddled by the trade deadline.

Nevertheless, Scanlan makes a good point about the effect that years of losing could have on some of those players, especially guys like Chabot and Tkachuk who’ve been there the longest. Perhaps one or two of them grow weary of this situation and request a trade in the offseason.

For now, Tarasenko and Kubalik appear to be the only notable Senators certain to be on the move by the deadline. We’ll see if that changes in the coming weeks.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 1, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 1, 2024

Another milestone for Marc-Andre Fleury, the Senators make some front office changes and the Golden Knights prepare to face off against the Kraken in the 2024 Winter Classic. Details on these and other stories in the NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Minnesota Wild goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury appeared in his 1,000th career NHL game but his club dropped a 3-2 decision to the Winnipeg Jets. Fleury made 26 saves and Frederick Gaudreau had a goal and an assist for the 16-15-4 Wild (36 points) as they sit four points out of a Western Conference wild-card berth. Laurent Brossoit stopped 24 shots while Dominic Toninato snapped a 2-2 tie in the third period as the Jets (22-9-4) extended their points streak to eight games and sit one point out of first place in the Central Division with 48 points.

Minnesota Wild goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury became just the fourth goaltender in NHL history to reach the 1,000-game plateau, joining Martin Brodeur (1,266), Roberto Luongo (1,044) and Patrick Roy (1,029) on the all-time list.

The Ottawa Senators defeated the Buffalo Sabres 5-1. Anton Forsberg kicked out 45 shots while Thomas Chabot collected two assists in his first game back with the Senators since being sidelined on Dec. 2 with a leg injury. Tage Thompson tallied for the Sabres, who sank to 14-19-4 while the Senators are 14-18-0.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the game, the Senators announced several front-office moves. President of hockey operations and interim general manager Steve Staios becomes the full-time general manager, former NHL player and TSN hockey analyst Dave Poulin is their new senior Vice-President of Hockey Operations and Ryan Bowness becomes associate general manager.

The Senators made a management change earlier this season when Staios replaced GM Pierre Dorion on Nov. 2. They also replaced head coach D.J. Smith on Dec. 18 with Jacques Martin on an interim basis. It’s expected they’ll announce a full-time replacement in the offseason.

With Staios now fully in charge of the front office, the focus is likely to shift toward possible roster moves if the Senators fail to show any significant improvement between now and the March 8 trade deadline.

Speaking of the Sabres, Zemgus Girgensons returned to action after being sidelined since Nov. 24 by a lower-body injury.

Edmonton Oilers winger Warren Foegele had a career-high five points (two goals, three assists) as his club thumped the Anaheim Ducks 7-2. Leon Draisaitl has a goal and two assists for the 18-15-1 Oilers (37 points) as they won their fifth straight game and sit three points out of the final Western wild-card spot. John Gibson made 32 saves for the 13-23-0 Ducks.

The Tampa Bay Lightning overcame a 2-0 deficit in a 4-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens. Nikita Kucherov had a goal and an assist to become the first player to reach 60 points this season as the Lightning (17-11-6) vaulted one point over the idle Washington Capitals into the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot with 41 points. Cole Caufield, Johnathan Kovecevic and Nick Suzuki replied for the 15-16-5 Canadiens as they dropped their third straight game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens center Christian Dvorak missed this game with an upper-body injury and is sidelined indefinitely.

Dallas Stars winger Mason Marchment netted a hat trick and set up another goal in an 8-1 drubbing of the Chicago Blackhawks. Tyler Seguin had a goal and two assists for the 22-9-4 Stars, who sit in third place behind the Jets in the Central Division with 48 points. Philipp Kurashev netted the lone goal for the 11-23-2 Blackhawks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Winnipeg and Dallas have identical records but the Jets hold second place in the Central with 20 regulation wins.

Boston Bruins forward Trent Frederic scored twice and set up another as his club defeated the Detroit Red Wings 5-3. Charlie McAvoy collected three assists for the 22-7-6 Bruins (50 points) as they moved to within one point of the league-leading New York Rangers. Patrick Kane’s six-game points streak came to an end as the Red Wings dropped to 17-16-4.

The Pittsburgh Penguins got a 37-save performance from Alex Nedeljkovic in a 3-1 victory over the New York Islanders. Lars Eller scored twice for the 18-13-4 Penguins (40 points) as they picked up their third straight win and extended their points streak to six games, sitting one point out of the final Eastern wild-card berth. Ilya Sorokin stopped 35 shots for the 18-15-5 Islanders as they sit in the first Eastern wild-card spot with 43 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield returned to the lineup after missing the last eight games with an upper-body injury.

Calgary Flames forward Blake Coleman got a goal and an assist in his 500th career NHL game while Andrew Mangiapane collected three assists to nip the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3. Dennis Gilbert also had a goal and an assist for the 15-16-5 Flames. Travis Konecny had two helpers for the 19-12-5 Flyers as they remain in third place in the Metropolitan Division with 43 points.

Third-period goals by Valeri Nichushkin and Josh Manson lifted the Colorado Avalanche to a 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks. Nathan MacKinnon picked up two assists to extend his home points streak to 19 games as the Avalanche (23-11-3) hold first place in the Central Division with 49 points. Tomas Hertl scored for the 9-25-3 Sharks, who’ve dropped eight straight games and also lost top defenseman Mario Ferraro with a suspected shoulder injury following a check by MacKinnon.

IN OTHER NEWS…

NHL.COM: The Vegas Golden Knights will face off against the Seattle Kraken at Seattle’s T-Mobile Park at noon PT on Jan. 1. This will be the Kraken’s first outdoor game and the second for the Golden Knights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll watch it for the novelty of seeing an outdoor game as usual. Besides, there are no World Junior Championship games scheduled for today.

DAILY FACEOFF: The Toronto Maple Leafs placed goaltender Ilya Samsonov on waivers before sending him to their AHL affiliate. Meanwhile, the Buffalo Sabres placed goalie Eric Comrie on waivers before sending him to their AHL affiliate in Rochester.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both netminders are expected to clear waivers today. Samsonov has struggled this season and the Leafs intend to work with him during his time with the Marlies to help him improve his game. Comrie, meanwhile, is the third man out behind Devon Levi and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen among the Sabres’ goalies.

NEW JERSEY HOCKEY NOW: Devils forward Timo Meier left Saturday’s game against the Boston Bruins with an injury. There’s been no update yet regarding his status.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 8, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 8, 2023

The Kings set a new road wins record, Patrick Kane debuts with the Red Wings, Alex Ovechkin reaches a scoring milestone, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: The Los Angeles Kings set a league season-opening road wins record (11-0-0) by blanking the Montreal Canadiens 4-0. Quinton Byfield scored two goals and set up another, Anze Kopitar collected three assists and Cam Talbot turned in a 24-save shutout for the Kings (16-4-3), who sit second overall in the Western Conference with 35 points. Sam Montembeault stopped 38 shots for the Canadiens, who slipped to 11-12-3.

Detroit Red Wings forward Patrick Kane (NHL Images).

Patrick Kane made his season debut with the Detroit Red Wings as they fell 6-5 in overtime to the San Jose Sharks. Kane was held scoreless while Michael Rasmussen scored twice for the 14-7-4 Red Wings. Mikael Granlund scored the game-winner and collected three points while Tomas Hertl and Nico Sturm each scored two goals for the 8-17-2 Sharks as they overcame deficits of 4-0 and 5-4 for the win.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a wild game that saw the Red Wings leap to a 4-0 lead in the second period only to have the Sharks roar back to tie it before the end of the frame. Kane saw 16:33 of ice time and had three shots on goal, including ringing one off the goalpost in the third period. It’ll take him a few games to shake off the rust and get into full game shape.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin collected an assist to reach his 1,500th career NHL point but his club fell 5-4 to the Dallas Stars in a shootout. Roope Hintz tallied twice in regulation while Jason Robertson scored the winning goal as the Stars improved to 15-7-3. Dylan Strome scored two goals for the Capitals as they dropped to 12-8-3.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stars center Matt Duchene also achieved a career milestone as he skated in his 1,000th career NHL game.

The Buffalo Sabres snapped a four-game losing skid by dropping the Boston Bruins 3-1. Devon Levi made 29 saves for his first win since Nov. 10 while JJ Peterka, Tage Thompson and Victor Olofsson scored for the 11-14-2 Sabres.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy left this game in the third period with an upper-body injury following a collision with Peterka. An update on his status could come later today. Before the game, former Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask served as an emergency backup in practice with Jeremy Swayman sidelined by illness until call-up Brandon Bussi joined the club for the Sabres game. They also placed defensemen Derek Forbort (undisclosed) on injured reserve and recalled rookie blueliner Mason Lohrei from their AHL affiliate in Providence.

Toronto Maple Leafs winger William Nylander scored what proved to be the game-winner as his club held on for a 4-3 victory over the Ottawa Senators. Leafs goalie Joseph Woll stopped 29 shots but left the game midway through the third period after injuring his left leg making a save. He was replaced by call-up Martin Jones who stopped nine of the 10 shots he faced for the 13-6-4 Maple Leafs. Josh Norris, Jacob Bernard-Docker and Claude Giroux replied for the Senators as they fell to 10-11-0 on the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After the game, Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe said he expected Woll to “miss time, for sure.” Earlier in the day, the Senators announced that defenseman Thomas Chabot will be sidelined for at least four weeks with an injured leg.

New York Islanders forward Mathew Barzal scored twice and set up two others while Bo Horvat tallied two goals within 20 seconds to dump the Columbus Blue Jackets 7-3. Semyon Varlamov turned aside 32 shots for the 11-7-7 Islanders. Rookie Adam Fantilli scored twice and collected an assist for the 8-15-5 Blue Jackets.

The Nashville Predators picked up their third straight win in a 5-1 trouncing of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Roman Josi and Ryan McDonagh each had a goal and an assist while Juuse Saros kicked out 32 shots as the Predators (14-12-0) moved into the final Western Conference wild-card berth with 28 points. Alex Barre-Boulet replied for the 12-11-5 Lightning as Nikita Kucherov’s 11-game points streak came to an end.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lightning forward Austin Watson set off a brouhaha at the end of the game by firing a slapshot at Predators defenseman Jeremy Lauzon. Watson received a 10-minute misconduct and a game misconduct. Earlier in the day, the Predators placed forward Liam Foudy on waivers.

Chicago Blackhawks goalie Petr Mrazek stopped 37 shots to shut out the Anaheim Ducks 1-0. Philipp Kurashev netted the only goal with rookie teammate Connor Bedard collecting an assist for the 8-16-1 Blackhawks. Lukas Dostal made 24 saves for the Ducks as they fell to 10-16-0.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After a promising opening month to this season the Ducks have come unglued, winning just once in their last 10 games.

The Philadelphia Flyers downed the Arizona Coyotes 4-1 to snap the latter’s five-game win streak. Travis Konecny tallied twice while Carter Hart made 25 saves for the Flyers (14-10-2) as they’ve won three straight. Lawson Crouse netted his 11th goal of the season for the Coyotes (13-10-2) as they cling to the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

A three-goal third period lifted the Calgary Flames over the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2. Rasmus Andersson, Connor Zary and Blake Coleman were the goalscorers while Dustin Wolf made 28 saves for the 11-12-3 Flames. Stefan Noesen and Michael Bunting tallied for the Hurricanes as they slipped to 14-11-1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes played without Andrei Svechnikov as he was sidelined by an upper-body injury.

Winnipeg Jets winger Kyle Connor scored two goals in a 4-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. Connor Hellebuyck turned aside 32 shots while Josh Morrissey had a goal and an assist for the 15-8-2 Jets. Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and an assist for the Avalanche (16-8-2) as they cling to first place in the Central Division with 34 points, one up on the Dallas Stars and two ahead of the Jets.

Vancouver Canucks backup Casey DeSmith made 26 saves to blank the Minnesota Wild 2-0. Nils Hoglander and Teddy Blueger were the goalscorers for the 17-9-1 Canucks. It was the first loss for the Wild (9-11-4) under new head coach John Hynes, snapping a four-game win streak.

The New Jersey Devils nipped the Seattle Kraken 2-1. Akira Schmid stopped 37 shots while Simon Nemec’s first career NHL goal snapped a 1-1 tie as the Devils improved their record to 13-10-1. Tye Kartye replied for the 8-13-6 Kraken.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 6, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 6, 2023

The Kings tie a season-opening win record, the Hughes brothers face off for the first time, plus updates on the 2024 draft, international tournaments and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Los Angeles Kings tied the league’s season-opening road win streak at 10 games by overcoming a 3-0 deficit to defeat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3. Drew Doughty scored in overtime while Phillip Danault tallied twice as the Kings improved their record to 15-4-3. Johnny Gaudreau had a goal and an assist as the Blue Jackets sank to 8-14-5.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blue Jackets winger Patrik Laine missed this game due to illness.

New Jersey Devils defenseman Luke Hughes, Vancouver Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes and Devils center Jack Hughes (NHL.com).

New Jersey Devils forward Jack Hughes and defenseman Luke Hughes came out on top against Vancouver Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes with a 6-5 victory. Jack had a goal and two assists while Luke scored a goal as Jesper Bratt opened and closed the scoring for the Devils (12-10-1). Quinn collected two assists while J.T. Miller had a goal and two assists and Brock Boeser netted his league-leading 18th goal as the Canucks (16-9-1) overcame a 5-2 deficit to tie the game before Bratt won it in the dying seconds of regulation.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the first NHL game to feature all three Hughes brothers.

The Ottawa Senators upset the New York Rangers 6-2. Vladimir Tarasenko had two goals and an assist, Brady Tkachuk scored twice and Drake Batherson had a goal and two assists for the 10-10-0 Senators, who remain in last place in the Eastern Conference with 20 points. Artemi Panarin had a goal and an assist for the Rangers (18-5-1), who sit in first place in the Conference with 37 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Earlier in the day, the Senators learned that defenseman Thomas Chabot has been sidelined by a knee injury. An update on his status is expected on Wednesday. During the game, Rangers forward Barclay Goodrow was struck in the face by a puck in the first period and didn’t return. It appears he lost a couple of teeth.

Detroit Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin netted two goals in a 5-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres. Robby Fabbri and Michael Rasmussen each had a goal and an assist for the Red Wings (14-7-3) as they picked up their third straight win. Jeff Skinner had a goal and an assist for the slumping Sabres (10-14-2) as they’ve dropped four straight.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Buffalo center Tage Thompson collected an assist as he returned to the lineup from an injured left arm a week ahead of schedule. The Sabres also placed forwards Alex Tuch (lower body) and Jordan Greenway (upper body) on injured reserve and recalled goaltender Devon Levi from their AHL affiliate in Rochester.

The San Jose Sharks overcame a three-goal deficit to upset the New York Islanders 5-4 on an overtime goal by William Eklund. Tomas Hertl tallied a hat trick while Eklund finished with three points for the Sharks (7-17-2) as they moved out of the bottom of the Conference standings with 16 points. Bo Horvat and Simon Holmstrom each had two assists while Mike Reilly had a goal and an assist for the 10-7-7 Islanders.

A shootout goal by Filip Forsberg lifted the Nashville Predators to a 4-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Ryan O’Reilly netted his 12th of the season as the Predators improved to 13-12-0. Nick Foligno scored twice and collected an assist while Connor Bedard netted his first-ever NHL shootout goal but the Blackhawks dropped to 7-16-1 and sit last in the overall standings with 15 points.

The Minnesota Wild picked up their fourth straight win under new head coach John Hynes by dousing the Calgary Flames 5-2. Matt Boldy scored twice and set up another, Kirill Kaprizov had a goal and an assist while Mats Zuccarello picked up an assist to extend his points streak to 10 games for the 9-10-4 Wild. Mikael Backlund and Connor Zary replied for the 10-12-3 Flames.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames played without goaltender Jacob Markstrom as he’s sidelined week-to-week with a fractured finger. The club recalled Dustin Wolf yesterday from the AHL affiliate.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and two assists in a 3-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks. Jonathan Drouin also had two assists as the Avalanche (16-7-2) remain on top of the Central Division with 34 points. Sam Carrick and Leo Carlsson scored for the Ducks as they slid to 10-15-0.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: MacKinnon also picked up his 500th career assist, joining Joe Sakic, Peter Stastny and Peter Forsberg as the only players in franchise history to reach that plateau. Avalanche defenseman Bowen Byram left this game in the second period with an upper-body injury following a big hit by Ducks forward Max Jones.

HEADLINES

DAILY FACEOFF: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman expressed concerns about the delays in the construction of an arena for the Milan 2026 Winter Olympics following the league’s two-day Board of Governors meetings in Seattle. He noted that construction had not yet begun on the venue.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s December 2023. The venue is reportedly expected to be completed by the end of 2025. It seems like Bettman’s already looking for an excuse not to participate in the 2026 Games.

NHL.COM: The league continues to work on its plans to stage a four-team international tournament involving NHL players in 2025. Canada, the United States, Sweden and Finland are expected to be the four countries taking part.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The 2016 World Cup of Hockey had a Team Europe (consisting of NHL stars from other European nations) and Team North America made up of the best under-23 NHL stars. Team Europe reached the Gold Medal round against Canada while Team North America became a fan favorite with their fast-paced play.

For whatever reason, the league has opted not to go that route again. That means superstars like Germany’s Leon Draisaitl and Czechia’s David Pastrnak will be prevented from participating in this tournament.

TSN: The 2024 NHL Draft will be held at the Sphere in Las Vegas on June 28-29. It will be the last draft before it is decentralized with teams operating from their own facilities.

The Arizona Coyotes are in the process of trying to finalize the purchase of a plot of land in the Phoenix area for a new arena. TSN’s Darren Dreger said the mood around team owners and league governors is that the Coyotes are getting to the end of the line here. The league is looking ahead at scheduling for next season and needs to know whether the Coyotes will be able to move ahead with this land purchase early in the new year.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I noted yesterday a report claiming that some owners and governors were running out of patience with the Coyotes’ situation. However, Bettman’s been the driving force keeping the club in Arizona with majority support from the team owners.

Nevertheless, any delays over the land purchase for a new arena could spark uncertainty over the Coyotes’ future. Dreger mentioned the possibility of relocation but that will require majority approval by the Board of Governors. Ultimately, that will come down to whether Bettman believes there are no more avenues to keep the Coyotes in Arizona.