NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 5, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 5, 2022

Auston Matthews ties a Leafs’ records, the Flames widen their lead in the Pacific Division, the three stars of the week are revealed, an update on Mike Bossy and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Auston Matthews tallied a hat trick as the Toronto Maple Leafs thumped the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-2. Matthews now has a league-leading 54 goals, tying Rick Vaive’s single-season franchise record. Mitch Marner collected three points and Jack Campbell got the win with a 32-save performance. Leafs forward William Nylander missed the game with a non-COVID-related illness. The Leafs sit in second place in the Metropolitan Division with 95 points.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: At this pace, Matthews will not only set a new franchise goal record but will become the first player to reach the 60-goal plateau since the Lightning’s Steven Stamkos hit that mark in 2011-12.

Johnny Gaudreau scored twice and picked up an assist to give the Calgary Flames a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. With 91 points, the Flames hold a five-point lead over the Kings for first place in the Pacific Division. Adrian Kempe netted both of the Kings’ goals.

Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk scored twice (including the winner in overtime) to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2. With the win, the Bruins have won seven of their last eight games. They are tied with the Lightning with 93 points but the Bruins move into third place in the Atlantic Division with 44 regulation wins.

A four-goal second period carried the St. Louis Blues to a 5-1 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. Vladimir Tarasenko scored twice while teammate Pavel Buchnevich collected three points for the Blues (88 points), who sit three points behind the second-place Minnesota Wild in the Central Division.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid, Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov, and New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov are the three stars for the weekend ending April 3, 2022.

CBC SPORTS: The family of former New York Islanders superstar Mike Bossy said he is resting peacefully at home while continuing his battle with lung cancer. This comes following unconfirmed reports claiming the 65-year-old Hall-of-Famer had entered palliative care.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Bossy in his battle with this insidious disease.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price took part in a full practice with his teammates on Monday for the first time this season. Price, 34, has been rehabbing from offseason knee surgery. There remains no timeline for his return to game action.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Price reportedly looked good during yesterday’s practice, which suggests he might return for a handful of games before the end of the Canadiens’ season on April 29.

TSN: Kyle Connor and Nate Schmidt emerged from COVID protocol yesterday and rejoined their Winnipeg Jets teammates after missing the last three games.

Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Muzzin is expected to return to action tonight against the Florida Panthers. He’s been sidelined by a concussion since Feb. 21.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jason Zucker is still being evaluated since suffering an undisclosed injury last Thursday against the Minnesota Wild. A more complete update on his condition is expected today.

THE MERCURY NEWS: The San Jose Sharks could decide to shut down winger Kevin Labanc for the remainder of the season to allow more time for his recovery from shoulder surgery.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Bowen Byram has rejoined his teammates after being sidelined for nearly three months with concussion issues. He’s been practicing with his teammates for weeks and was recalled from an AHL conditioning stint.

GOPHNX.COM: The Tempe City Council will discuss the Arizona Coyotes proposed arena and entertainment district in an executive session on Thursday. The proposal is reportedly tightly contested and could come down to one or two swing votes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes’ future in Arizona could be determined by the outcome of this vote.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 28, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 28, 2022

The Jets’ Kyle Connor scores twice as Richard Trophy race heats up, the Penguins’ Sidney Crosby reaches another milestone, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Winnipeg Jets tallied three unanswered goals to rally past the Arizona Coyotes 5-3. Kyle Connor scored the winning and insurance goals and sits fifth in the Richard Trophy race with 32 goals. With 55 points, the Jets are six points out of the final Western Conference wild-card berth.

Winnipeg Jets winger Kyle Connor (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a tight race for the Richard Trophy. Toronto’s Auston Matthews leads with 37 goals, followed by Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl (36), the New York Rangers Chris Kreider (34), Washington’s Alex Ovechkin (32) and Connor.

Third-period goals by Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby lifted the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 3-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Malkin and Bryan Rust each finished the game with two points while Casey DeSmith made 32 saves for the win. Jack Roslovic had a goal and an assist for the Jacket. With the win, the Penguins (74 points) sit four points behind the first-place Carolina Hurricanes in the Metropolitan Division and three points ahead of the third-place New York Rangers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crosby also moved past Mike Mondano into 25th place on the all-time points list with 1,375. He is the third active player among the top-25, joining Florida’s Joe Thornton (1,535) and Washington’s Alex Ovechkin (1,383).

Speaking of the Hurricanes, they opened a three-point lead over the Florida Panthers for first place in the Eastern Conference standings as they held on for a 2-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. Teuvo Teravainen scored and set up Sebastian Aho’s game-winner to extend his points streak to eight games while Frederik Anderson picked up the win with 29 saves. The loss puts the Oilers (61 points) behind the Dallas Stars for the final Western wild-card spot.

The Stars, meanwhile, moved ahead of the Oilers by doubling up the Buffalo Sabres 4-2. Michael Raffl tallied twice and Jake Oettinger kicked out 38 shots for the Stars (61 points), who hold a game in hand over the Oilers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The longer the Stars stay in playoff contention, the less likely they are to trade defenseman John Klingberg, who’s been the subject of trade rumors for nearly two months. It could take a significant pitch to pry him away from the Stars now.

St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington turned in a 30-save shutout to blank the Chicago Blackhawks 4-0. David Perron scored two goals for the Blues as they picked up their fourth straight victory. With 70 points, they hold a five-point lead over the Minnesota Wild for second place in the Central Division.

The Vancouver Canucks kept their playoff hopes alive with a 5-2 upset of the New York Rangers. Thatcher Demko made 31 saves while teammates J.T. Miller, Tyler Myers and Matthew Highmore each had two-point performances. The Canucks have 58 points and sit three back of the Stars.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Miller and teammates Brock Boeser and Conor Garland have featured prominently in recent NHL trade rumors. Management, however, could be reluctant to part with them as long as the club stays in the playoff chase.

A 34-save shutout by Ilya Sorokin gave the New York Islanders a 4-0 win over the Anaheim Ducks. Casey Cizikas had a goal and an assist. The loss leaves the Ducks (59 points) two points out of the final Western wild-card berth.

The San Jose Sharks kept their fading playoff hopes alive by dropping the Seattle Kraken 3-1, handing the latter their seventh straight loss. James Reimer got the win with 39 saves as the Sharks (54 points) are seven points out of a wild-card berth in the West.

IN OTHER NEWS…

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The Sharks announced defenseman Mario Ferraro will be sidelined six-to-eight weeks following surgery yesterday to repair a fracture in his lower left fibula suffered during Saturday’s game against Boston.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a serious loss for the Sharks blue line. Ferraro logged big minutes skating alongside Brent Burns on the Sharks’ top defense pairing.

TSN: Edmonton Oilers winger Kailer Yamamoto missed yesterday’s game against the Hurricanes after blocking a shot on Saturday against the Florida Panthers.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: The Capitals have loaned goalie Vitek Vanecek to their AHL affiliate in Hershey for a conditioning stint. Vanecek had been sidelined by an upper-body injury since Feb. 1.

ARIZONA COYOTES PR: Coyotes forward Liam O’Brien is listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury suffered against the Vegas Golden Knights on Friday.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 26, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 26, 2021

T.J. Oshie and Drake Batherson get dueling hat tricks in high-scoring Capitals-Senators game, the Panthers, Hurricanes and Blues remain undefeated, the Sabres upset the Lightning and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Washington Capitals defeated the Ottawa Senators 7-5 in a wild game that saw Washington’s T.J. Oshie and Ottawa’s Drake Batherson each tally a hat trick. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin scored twice to move within four goals of Brett Hull (741) for fourth place among the all-time goal leaders. With seven goals, he takes over the goal-scoring lead from Edmonton’s Connor McDavid. The Capitals led 4-1 at one point but the Senators stormed back to tie it in the second period to make it interesting before the Caps regained the lead.

Washington Capitals winger T.J. Oshie (NHL Images).

Jonathan Huberdeau, Sam Bennett and Brandon Montour had two-point performances and Joe Thornton scored his first goal of the season as the Florida Panthers beat the Arizona Coyotes 5-3. The Panthers take over first place in the overall standings with a 6-0-0 record. Coyotes goalie Carter Hutton and defenseman Conor Timmins both left the game with lower-body injuries.

Carolina Hurricanes goaltenders Frederik Andersen made 24 saves against his former team to backstop his club over the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1. Andrei Svechnikov and Jaccob Slavin each had two points for the Hurricanes, who remain unbeaten at 5-0-0. Auston Matthews tallied his first of the season (the 200th goal of his career) for the slumping Leafs, whose record drops to 2-4-1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lots of unhappiness in Leafs Nation as their club’s early-season woes are drawing comparison to their similar difficulties two years ago. That led to a November coaching change as Sheldon Keefe replace Mike Babcock. Could Keefe face a similar fate if the Leafs fail to reverse their fortunes? Stay tuned…

Vladimir Tarasenko scored two goals and Ville Husso turned in a 34-save shutout as the St. Louis Blues blanked the Los Angeles Kings 3-0. The Blues extended their record to 5-0-0.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues, Hurricanes and Panthers join the Edmonton Oilers as the only clubs to remain unbeaten through their first five games of the season. It’s the first time in league history four teams begin the season with records of at least 5-0-0.

The Buffalo Sabres stunned the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning by a score of 5-1. Craig Anderson made 35 saves for the win while Victor Olofsson scored twice for the Sabres, who maintain their surprising hot start with a 4-1-1 record. The Lightning are still without winger Nikita Kucherov, who could be sidelined for another eight weeks by a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning definitely miss Kucherov’s offense but other factors are also behind their stumbling start. Their forward depth was depleted by this summer’s departures of Tyler Johnston, Blake Coleman, Yanni Gourde and Barclay Goodrow. A shortened offseason also gave them less time than most clubs to rest and prepare for this season.

Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins made 31 saves in a 4-1 victory over the Dallas Stars. On his way to pre-game warmups, Merzlikins was heckled by a Stars fan making a negative comment about the death of his close friend Matiss Kivlenieks, who was killed in a fireworks accident in July. “I was expecting a shutout because I believe in karma,” said Merzlikins. “There is some stupid people in this world. That was really, really bad what happened in the tunnel when I was walking out. There was a fan from Dallas who (provoked) me about Matiss.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There are some disgusting people in this world whose lives are so pathetic that their only source of joy is trying to incite sadness or anger in other people. Good on Merlikins for not letting that douchebag’s remarks knock him off his game.

A 28-save shutout by Jacob Markstrom and two goals from Andrew Mangiapane carried to the Calgary Flames to a 5-1 win over the New York Rangers. Blake Coleman and Mikael Backlund each had a goal and two assists for the Flames, who’ve now won three straight games.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: Winnipeg Jets winger Kyle Connor, Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid, and New York Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Oct. 24, 2021.

YARDBARKER: The Vegas Golden Knights have moved Max Pacioretty (fractured foot) from injured reserve to long-term IR.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The move provides the Golden Knights some flexibility to call up a player or acquire one via trade. However, they must become cap compliant when Pacioretty returns to the lineup.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins confirmed defenseman Kris Letang tested positive for COVID-19 and remains in COVID protocol.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Samuel Girard is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury after being checked awkwardly into the board by the Lightning’s Steven Stamkos on Saturday.

NBC SPORTS: The New Jersey Devils confirmed goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood received his first dose of COVID-19 vaccine last week. He’ll have to continue following league protocols for unvaccinated players until two weeks after his second dose.

TSN: New York Islanders goaltender Cory Schneider hit the waiver wire yesterday. Meanwhile, the Anaheim Ducks placed forward Alexander Volkov on unconditional waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract.

THE PLAYERS’ TRIBUNE: Former NHL player Colin Wilson opens up about his addiction to drugs, including cocaine and prescription drugs. He cited the recent death of Jimmy Hayes motivating him to come clean about his addiction.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a difficult but invaluable story that everyone should read. Wilson’s tale will hopefully motivate other players with addictions to seek help and perhaps provoke more positive change with the NHL toward addressing this issue.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 12, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 12, 2021

What would be a fair return for Mitch Marner if the Leafs shopped him in the trade market? Should the Jets shop Kyle Connor for a defenseman? What moves should the Oilers make this summer? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST LEAFS SPECULATION

SPORTSNET: In his latest Toronto Maple Leafs mailbag, Luke Fox was asked if the club could win a Mitch Marner trade. While acknowledging the front office’s belief in the 24-year-old playmaker, Fox believes general manager Kyle Dubas would want a return that fits with his bet-on-young skill vision that helps the club now. He also doesn’t foresee Marner requesting a trade.

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner (NHL Images).

He doubted Dubas would accept someone like Columbus’ Patrik Laine or Seth Jones or Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk in return. However, he could listen if the Buffalo Sabres offered up center Jack Eichel.

John Tavares’ injury highlights the Leafs lack of center depth. Fox suggests shifting Tavares to the wing as he ages and his foot speed slows.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fox also said Eichel’s neck injury would be a huge caveat, adding they shouldn’t make that move unless certain he’s fully recovered.

Eichel for Marner straight up would work in terms of player value and cap dollars. Nevertheless, I doubt it’s a move we’ll see take place between these two long-standing rivals.

Fox was also asked which players the Leafs should add to address the lack of killer instinct team president Brendan Shanahan felt his club still needs. He wondered if Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf or Winnipeg’s Paul Stastny would accept a Joe Thornton deal, or if Colorado’s Brandon Saad would come more cheaply than Zach Hyman.

His other suggested options include Minnesota’s Nick Bonino, Vegas’ Mattias Janmark and Dallas’ Jamie Oleksiak. He also proposed it would be great to see what a healthy Nick Foligno could do.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas will have to engage in more salary-cap gymnastics given his club’s limited cap space to address that need. I think Getzlaf re-signs with Anaheim or retires. Stastny might be a possibility. Saad could cost more than Hyman.

The Wild could re-sign Bonino if he’s willing to accept a pay cut from his current $4.1 million cap hit. If not, he could be a good option for the Leafs. Janmark and Oleksiak could also be worthwhile cost-effective additions.

Foligno could also help if he’s fully healthy but that depends on whether he sees a future in Toronto or if they feel they should look toward younger alternatives.

THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma wondered if the Vancouver Canucks would be interested in Alex Kerfoot. The Leafs aren’t expected to protect the 26-year-old center in next month’s expansion draft. They need to clear cap space if they hope to re-sign Zach Hyman. The Leafs can’t afford to take back salary but perhaps they’d accept a draft pick or prospect.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kuzma noted the Canucks pursue Kerfoot four years ago as a college free agent before he signed with the Colorado Avalanche. He could be an affordable option to bolster the Canucks’ depth at center.

SHOULD THE JETS SHOP CONNOR FOR A DEFENSEMAN?

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre believes it’s time for the Jets to pay the price to acquire some high-end defensive talent if they wish to be more than playoff also-rans. Dustin Byfuglien, Toby Enstrom, Jacob Trouba, Tyler Myers and Ben Chiarot all departed since the Jets marched to the 2018 Western Conference Final.

McIntyre doubts we’ll see any significant off-season activity out of Winnipeg based on their history. However, he wonders at what point general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff will be forced to consider moving a core player to balance a lineup that isn’t good enough.

Other than goaltender Connor Hellebuyck and perhaps winger Nikolaj Ehlers, McIntyre doesn’t believe there should be an untouchable on the Jets roster. He proposed shopping winger Kyle Connor, who struggled in the Montreal series after center Mark Scheifele was suspended. The Jets’ crop of promising young skaters like Mason Appleton, Jansen Harkins and Cole Perfetti could give them the freedom to use Connor as trade bait to address their blueline issues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cheveldayoff has occasionally made a big move during his tenure as Jets GM, the latest being his swap of Patrick Laine for Pierre-Luc Dubois. For the most part, however, he tends to be patient, sometimes to a fault.

The Jets GM could surprise us with a major offseason move. Like McIntyre, however, I don’t expect him to shop a core player like Connor this summer. He could instead look for affordable options via trade or free agency while preparing to promote promising youngsters like Ville Heinola or Dylan Samberg into the lineup.

THE LATEST ON THE OILERS

EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples cited NHL insider Kevin Allen’s three main offseason proposals for the Oilers. They include pursuing a younger goalie like Columbus’ Elvis Merzlikins or Joonas Korpisalo or the New York Islanders Semyon Varlamov via trade, or Frederik Andersen or Linus Ullmark via free agency.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers intend to bring back 39-year-old Mike Smith for another season but could shop Mikko Koskinen. The Islanders aren’t in a hurry in shop Varlamov but inquiring with the Jackets about Merzlikins or Korpisalo makes sense. It wouldn’t hurt to kick tires on Andersen or Ullmark.

Allen also suggested the Oilers try to come up with enough assets to bundle with James Neal to get a rebuilding club with cap space (Detroit Red Wings) to take the winger off their hands.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t doubt Holland will consider that option. The assets in that package, however, could be more than he’s willing to part with. A contract buyout remains possible for Neal if he isn’t moved in a cost-cutting deal.

Allen also recommended re-signing Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Adam Larsson and then calling the New York Rangers about Tony DeAngelo.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers are working on the first two. DeAngelo’s character issues are a red flag but there could be clubs interested in the puck-moving defenseman. If the Oilers were interested, they could wait until he’s bought out of his current contract and then sign him as a free agent.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 15, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 15, 2021

The Jets down the Leafs in their final regular-season game, Conference championship trophies won’t be awarded this season, plus the latest on Alex Ovechkin, Ondrej Kase and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Winnipeg Jets ended their regular season on a high note by doubling up the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2. Kyle Connor scored twice to finish the season with a team-leading 26 goals. The Leafs’ Auston Matthews was held pointless, finishing the season with a league-leading 41 goals.

Winnipeg Jets winger Kyle Connor (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both clubs will have several days off before they begin their respective first-round series. The Jets face off against the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday while the Leafs meet the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday.

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski reports the NHL won’t be handing out the Prince of Wales Trophy or the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl to the conference champions this season. The Prince of Wales Trophy is usually awarded to the Eastern Conference champion while the Campbell Bowl is awarded to the Western Conference champion.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The bright side is we won’t have to listen to any of the superstitious nonsense over whether the winning teams will touch those respective trophies. Because, of course, everyone knows touching those awards could determine the outcome of the Stanley Cup Final (end sarcasm mode).

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The lack of a new contract for Alex Ovechkin isn’t bothering Capitals owner Ted Leonsis. He said he and Ovechkin are focused on the upcoming playoffs.

Alex knows that if he plays five more years, 10 more years, whatever it is, we’ve got his back,” Leonsis said, adding the team’s commitment to his captain is to continue to have great teams. “We’ll spend to the cap, we’ll try to win championships. And that’s what he’s focused on because that’ll be his legacy.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin is completing a 13-year, $124 million contract. He and Leonsis agreed at the start of this season to put aside contract discussions until after the playoffs are over. Based on Leonsis’ comments, it sounds like Ovechkin won’t be going anywhere.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins winger Ondrej Kase won’t be playing in Game 1 of his club’s opening-round series against the Washington Capitals tonight. Kase suffered an upper-body injury unrelated to the suspected concussion that sidelined him for all but three games this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Whatever the issue, it sounds like Kase could miss more than just Game 1.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Penguins backup goaltender Casey DeSmith left Friday’s practice early to receive medical treatment after making a routine save. It’s suspected to be a lower-body injury. The Penguins open their first-round series against the New York Islanders on Sunday.

TSN: Minnesota Wild forward Ryan Hartman was fined $5,000.00 for a dangerous trip on St. Louis Blues forward Sammy Blais on Thursday.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators signed defenseman Artem Zub to a two-year, $5 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zub, 25, joined the Senators as a free agent from the KHL and played well in his first NHL season. He finished with 14 points in 47 games and a plus-minus of plus-4 while logging over 18 minutes of ice time per game.

SPORTSNET: Speaking of the Senators, team owner Eugene Melnyk declined to comment about lawsuits filed against five defendants by his traveling companions related to his Caribbean vacation last Christmas.

THE SCORE: cites a report by The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun indicating Alain Vigneault will return as head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers next season.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Speaking of returning coaches, Stars general manager Jim Nill confirmed Rick Bowness will be back behind the bench with his club next season. Nill also said forward Roope Hintz will undergo surgery next week in New York to repair a groin injury.










Matthews the Odds-On Favourite to Capture NHL’s Maurice Richard Award

Matthews the Odds-On Favourite to Capture NHL’s Maurice Richard Award