NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 14, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 14, 2024

The Panthers are poised to sweep the Oilers in the Stanley Cup Final, management changes in store for the Blues, the Sharks name their new head coach, the Rangers re-sign Kaapo Kakko, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

STANLEY CUP NOTEBOOK

NHL.COM: The Florida Panthers are on the verge of sweeping the Edmonton Oilers in the Stanley Cup Final after holding on for a 4-3 victory in Game 3. Sergei Bobrovsky made 32 saves and Aleksander Barkov tallied the game-winning goal as the Panthers scored three times within a six-minute span in the second period.

Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov (NHL Images).

The Oilers made things interesting with third-period goals by Philip Broberg and Ryan McLeod. However, it wasn’t enough to prevent them from falling into a 3-0 series deficit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Edmonton faces the daunting challenge of doing something that hasn’t been done in the Stanley Cup Final since 1942: overcome a 3-0 series deficit to win hockey’s holy grail.

Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner believes his club can do it. So far, however, they’ve shown nothing to indicate they can pull it off.

Skinner’s mishandling of a dump-in by the Panthers led to Vladimir Tarasenko snapping a 1-1 tie in the second period. That opened the floodgates as Sam Bennett and Barkov capitalized on defensive miscues by the Oilers.

The Panthers have done a masterful job of shutting down the Oilers’ big guns in this series. Connor McDavid has three assists and Evan Bouchard has one. Leon Draisaitl, Zach Hyman, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins have yet to dent the score sheet.

Bobrovsky has been solid throughout this series. He’s had help from his teammates as they’ve clogged up the shooting lanes while reducing the amount of traffic around their net.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong signed a five-year contract extension with the St. Louis Blues as president of hockey operations. Alexander Steen was named special assistant to the general manager through 2025-26, after which he’ll take over as GM from Armstrong.

The Blues also promoted Tim Taylor from his previous role as director of player development to assistant general manager.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Team chairman Tom Stillman approved Armstrong’s proposed transition. He’ll remain general manager for two more years to prepare Steen for the GM role.

Steen spent 12 of his 15 NHL seasons with the Blues. He retired as a player in 2020 and joined the Blues’ management team last year as a European development consultant. Armstrong was so impressed by Steen’s effort that he felt he would be a worthwhile successor.

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: The Sharks promoted assistant coach Ryan Warsofsky as their new head coach.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NBC Sports Bay Area’s Sheng Peng reported Warsofsky’s ability to build relationships with his players, his record for developing young players, and his communication skills factored into the Sharks management tapping him as their new bench boss.

The Sharks are rebuilding their roster with promising young talent. Warsofsky’s coaching will play a crucial role in their development.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers signed winger Kaapo Kakko to a one-year, $2.4 million contract extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kakko accepted what would’ve been the Rangers’ qualifying offer, foregoing his arbitration rights this summer. That’s not surprising given his struggles this season.

On the one hand, this is an affordable short-term deal that enables the Rangers to remain patient with the 23-year-old winger’s development. On the other hand, it’s an easily tradeable contract if they decide to trade him.

SPORTSNET: The Carolina Hurricanes signed Jalen Chatfield to a three-year contract with an average annual value of $3 million. The 28-year-old defenseman was eligible to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chatfield made himself invaluable to the Hurricanes’ blueline depth. He’s getting a significant raise, earning $765K per season on his previous two-year contract.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Flyers captain Sean Couturier said he’s rehabbing from a recent sports hernia injury. “Feeling great now. About to head back home here this week and start the full training,” said Couturier.

NHL.COM: The Utah Hockey Club officially joined the NHL on Thursday. The team revealed its home and away jerseys for 2025-26. They could have a new name by then as fan voting is open until June 20. Details on the name will be revealed in the coming months.

TSN: Executive Laurence Gilman and the Toronto Maple Leafs mutually agreed to part ways. He worked as assistant GM from 2018-19. His contract was due to expire at the end of this month.

THE MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens extended their affiliate agreement with the ECHL’s Trois-Rivieres Lions for three more seasons.

FORT MYERS NEWS-PRESS: The Florida Panthers have ended their affiliation with the ECHL’s Florida Everglades.










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 Morning Coffee Headlines – April 5, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 5, 2024

The Jets clinch a playoff berth, Bruins captain Brad Marchand reaches a scoring milestone, the battle for the final Eastern Conference wildcard continues, and the latest on the Coyotes in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Winnipeg Jets defeated the Calgary Flames 5-2 to clinch a playoff berth. Gabriel Vilardi tallied a hat trick and Connor Hellebuyck made 31 saves for the Jets (46-24-6), who sit third in the Central Division with 98 points. Dustin Wolf stopped 40 shots for the 34-36-5 Flames (73 points), who were officially eliminated from postseason contention.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flames rookie Connor Zary was a healthy scratch from this game. His teammate Martin Pospisil could face supplemental discipline after being ejected in the second period for elbowing Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey in the face. Morrissey was not injured.

Boston Bruins captain Brad Marchand (NHL Images).

Boston Bruins captain Brad Marchand scored his 400th career NHL regular-season goal in a 4-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. David Pastrnak and Danton Heinen each had a goal and an assist and Jeremy Swayman turned aside 28 shots for the 45-17-15 Bruins, who’ve won three straight and sit third in the overall standings with 105 points. Jake Guentzel replied for the Hurricanes (47-22-7) as they sit sixth overall with 101 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bruins forward Justin Brazeau missed this game with an upper-body injury suffered during Tuesday’s win against the Nashville Predators. He’s listed as week-to-week.

The New York Islanders moved into the final Eastern Conference wildcard berth after doubling up the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2. Noah Dobson broke a 2-2 tie and Kyle Palmieri netted his 25th goal of the season for the Islanders, who’ve won three straight and improved to 34-27-15 (83 points). Kirill Marchenko had a goal and an assist for the 25-39-12.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blue Jackets goaltender Daniil Tarasov left the game in the first period with an upper-body injury following a collision with teammate David Jiricek. There was no postgame update regarding his condition. Jackets winger Johnny Gaudreau missed this game due to illness.

A 30-save performance by Alex Nedeljkovic (including 16 in the first period) backstopped the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 4-1 win over the Washington Capitals. Kris Letang and Reilly Smith each collected two assists for the Penguins (35-30-11), who extended their points streak to seven games and sit two points behind the Islanders. Alex Ovechkin scored for the 36-29-10 Capitals as they slipped one point back of the Isles.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Capitals winger T.J. Oshie (undisclosed) missed this game and has been ruled out for Friday’s contest with the Hurricanes.

Tampa Bay Lightning forwards Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos each collected three assists to beat the Montreal Canadiens 7-4 and eliminate the latter from playoff contention. Stamkos and Nick Paul each tallied twice as the Lightning improved to 43-26-7 (93 points) as they hold the first Eastern wildcard and sit two points behind the third-place Toronto Maple Leafs in the Atlantic Division. Joel Armia scored two goals and Juraj Slafkovsky had a goal and an assist for the 29-34-12 Canadiens.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens defenseman Kaiden Guhle left this game in the first period with an upper-body injury following a hit from behind by Kucherov. No penalty was called on the play and no postgame update was provided about Guhle’s condition. Kucherov sits atop the points race with 133 and reached the 90-assist plateau for the first time. Meanwhile, his teammate Tanner Jeannot missed this contest with an upper-body injury and is listed as day-to-day.

Colorado Avalanche goalie Justus Annunen kicked out 44 shots in a 5-2 win over the Minnesota Wild. Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin collected three points each for the Avalanche (48-22-6), who sit fifth overall with 102 points. Filip Gustavsson stopped 31 shots for the 36-30-9 Wild.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: MacKinnon (130 points) remains in second place in the points race.

The Florida Panthers got a 30-save shutout from Sergei Bobrovsky to blank the Ottawa Senators 6-0. Matthew Tkachuk had a goal and two assists and Sam Reinhart tallied his 53rd goal of the season for the Panthers (48-24-5) as they sit seventh in the overall standings with 101 points. The Senators dropped to 33-38-4.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers announced before this game that defenseman Aaron Ekblad will likely miss the remainder of the regular season with an undisclosed injury. The club is confident Ekblad will be ready to go for the start of the playoffs.

Nashville Predators winger Filip Forsberg scored two goals and picked up an assist in a 6-3 win over the St. Louis Blues. Juuse Saros made 44 saves for the 44-28-4 Predators, who hold the first Western Conference wildcard spot with 92 points. Brandon Saad, Jake Neighbours and Jordan Kyrou replied for the 40-32-4 Blues.

Rookie Akil Thomas’ first NHL goal was the game-winner as the Los Angeles Kings nipped the San Jose Sharks 2-1. Adrian Kempe scored his 25th of the season for the Kings (40-25-11) as they hold the final Western wildcard with 91 points. Mackenzie Blackwood made 25 saves for the 17-50-8 Sharks.

IN OTHER NEWS…

ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo has reportedly spoken to multiple potential buyers within and outside Arizona to gauge their interest in purchasing the franchise from him.

Meruelo reportedly seeks USD 1 billion for the franchise he purchased in July 2019. He is believed to have recently met with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman regarding the Coyotes’ future.

On Thursday, the club told Arizona Sports that Meruelo and the team are “solely focused on the land auction (for a new arena) and winning the bid. And to keep the Coyotes in Arizona.”

Speaking of the land auction, the date is set for June 27.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Any attempt to sell the team to new owners willing to keep the franchise in Arizona will depend on whether Meruelo and the Coyotes win that land auction. If they fail, relocation is the next step. Whether he’ll get $1 billion for the franchise could depend on the location of the bidders and the size of their fortunes.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers captain Sean Couturier (upper-body injury) will miss the club’s back-to-back games with the Buffalo Sabres on Friday and the Blue Jackets on Saturday.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Speaking of the Flyers, they’re working on a “longer-term contract” for goaltender Ivan Fedotov. The 27-year-old Fedotov can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 22, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 22, 2024

Four-assist performances from the Lightning’s Nikita Kucherov and the Oilers’ Connor McDavid, a hat trick for the Rangers’ Artemi Panarin, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines

NHL.COM: Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov assisted on each of his club’s goals in a 4-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks. Brayden Point scored twice to reach the 40-goal mark as the Lightning extended their win streak to five games. With a record of 38-25-6, they hold the first Eastern Conference wildcard berth with 82 points. William Eklund replied for the 16-46-7 Sharks.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kucherov leads the scoring race with 122 points, opening a five-point gap over Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon. Lightning winger Anthony Duclair scored against his former team, reaching the 20-goal plateau for the fourth time in his career. Since being acquired by the Lightning before the March 8 trade deadline, Duclair has four goals and seven points in five games.

The Edmonton Oilers erupted for five unanswered third-period goals to crush the Buffalo Sabres 8-3. Connor McDavid collected four assists while Zach Hyman and Mattias Ekholm scored two goals each for the 42-21-4 Oilers, who sit second in the Pacific Division with 88 points. JJ Peterka tallied two goals for the 33-33-5 Sabres.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hyman is just two goals away from reaching the vaunted 50-goal plateau for the first time in his career. Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (Hyman’s former teammate) leads the league this season with 57 goals.

New York Rangers winger Artemi Panarin collected the third hat trick of his NHL career in a 5-2 win over the Boston Bruins. Jonathan Quick made 24 saves as the Rangers (46-20-4) moved within one point of the league-leading Bruins with 96 points. Justin Brazeau had a goal and an assist for the 41-15-15 Bruins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Quick picked up his 391st career win to tie Ryan Miller for the most NHL victories by an American-born goaltender.

Detroit Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin scored twice in his triumphant return to the lineup to beat the New York Islanders 6-3, leaving the latter winless in their last six games (0-5-1). Andrew Copp also had two goals and Christian Fischer had a goal and two assists for the Red Wings (36-28-6) as they opened a three-point lead over the Washington Capitals for the final Eastern Conference wildcard spot with 78 points. Mathew Barzal netted his 21st goal for the 29-25-15 Islanders as they slipped five points behind the Wings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Larkin missed the last eight games with a lower-body injury. During his absence, the Wings went into a tailspin that threatened to derail their playoff hopes. They’re a different team when their captain is in the lineup.

The Vancouver Canucks gained ground on the Bruins in the overall standings with a 4-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens. Nikita Zadorov scored two goals for the Canucks (44-18-8) as they sit one point behind the league-leading Bruins. Juraj Slafkovsky scored to extend his points streak to six games for the Canadiens (25-32-12), who are winless in their last four games (0-2-2).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Slafkovsky remains a bright spot for the Canadiens this season. He had just eight points in his first 31 games but now has 30 points in his last 38 contests. Speaking of the Canadiens, they announced that Joshua Roy will be sidelined for four to six weeks with an upper-body injury.

Speaking of gaining ground in the overall standings, the Carolina Hurricanes moved to within three points of the Bruins by defeating the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 on an overtime goal by Seth Jarvis. Frederik Andersen stopped 30 shots for the 44-20-6 Hurricanes (94 points) as they’ve won five straight games. Travis Konecny netted his 28th goal of the season for the Flyers (35-26-9), who remain in third place in the Metropolitan Division with 79 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flyers captain Sean Couturier was a healthy scratch for the second straight game. Flyers head coach John Tortorella declined to discuss Couturier during a pregame interview. However, benching his captain has drawn plenty of media attention as rumors grow of a possible rift between the two.

The Nashville Predators continue to tighten their grip on the first Western Conference wildcard berth as they blanked the Florida Panthers 3-0. Kevin Lankinen kicked out 33 shots for the shutout and Filip Forsberg tallied twice for the 41-25-4 Predators (86 points) as they extended their points streak to 16 games with their fourth straight win. Sergei Bobrovsky turned aside 34 shots for the 45-20-4 Panthers (94 points) as they’ve lost three straight and sit three points behind the Bruins in the overall standings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers were without team captain Aleksander Barkov as he’s day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

Speaking of the Western Conference wildcard spots, the Vegas Golden Knights cling to the final berth following a 3-1 victory over the Seattle Kraken. Keegan Kolesar snapped a 1-1 tie and Chandler Stephenson netted the insurance goal for the 37-25-7 Golden Knights (81 points). Jaden Schwartz replied for the 28-28-12 Kraken.

The New Jersey Devils got two power-play goals from Jack Hughes to defeat the Winnipeg Jets 3-1. Nico Hischier and Timo Meier each had a goal and two assists for the 34-32-4 Devils. Nikolaj Ehlers replied for the Jets (44-20-5) as they remain in first place in the Central Division with 93 points.

St. Louis Blues forward Jordan Kyrou had a goal and two assists to keep their playoff hopes alive in a 5-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators. Jake Neighbours scored twice and Joel Hofer made 37 saves for the 37-30-3 Blues (77 points) as they sit four points behind the Golden Knights for that final Western wild-card berth. Mark Kastelic and Dominik Kubalik scored for the 28-36-4 Senators.

The Anaheim Ducks snapped a seven-game losing skid by blanking the Chicago Blackhawks 4-0. Lukas Dostal stopped 29 shots for his first NHL shutout while Alex Killorn scored two goals for the 24-43-3 Ducks. Arvid Soderblom made 21 saves for the 19-46-5 Blackhawks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ducks center Leo Carlsson left this game in the second period following a knee-on-knee collision with the Blackhawks Alex Vlasic. There was no postgame update on his condition.

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Washington Capitals winger Tom Wilson was offered an in-person hearing by the NHL department of player safety for high-sticking Toronto Maple Leafs forward Noah Gregor on Thursday. Wilson faces the possibility of a suspension beyond five games.

CALGARY SUN: Flames goaltender Dan Vladar will undergo season-ending hip surgery next week. He’s expected to be ready for the start of next season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 20, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 20, 2024

Hat trick performances by the Bruins David Pastrnak, the Jets Mark Scheifele and the Avalanche’s Mikko Rantanen highlight Tuesday’s action. Get the details and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak scored one of three hat tricks in the league on Tuesday in a 6-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators. Rookie Justin Brazeau tallied twice for the Bruins (41-14-15) as they picked up their third straight win and remain atop the overall standings with 97 points. Brady Tkachuk scored his 31st goal of the season for the 28-35-4 Senators.

Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pastrnak has 44 goals on the season and sits fourth among this season’s goalscoring leaders. His 99 points rank fourth among the scoring leaders.

The Winnipeg Jets doubled up the New York Rangers 4-2 thanks to Mark Scheifele’s hat-trick performance. Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck kicked out 38 shots and Kyle Connor netted his 30th goal of the season for the 44-19-15 Jets as they remain in first place in the Central Division with 93 points and a game in hand over the Colorado Avalanche. Alexis Lafreniere netted his 20th of the season for the Rangers (45-20-4) as they hold first place in the Metropolitan Division with 94 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets played without head coach Rick Bowness as he’s on an indefinite leave of absence following a minor medical procedure in Winnipeg. Meanwhile, Lafreniere reached the 20-goal milestone for the first time in his young career.

Speaking of the Avalanche, Mikko Rantanen’s hat trick lifted them over the St. Louis Blues 4-3. Nathan MacKinnon collected an assist to extend his points streak to 16 games for the Avalanche (44-20-5) as they remain behind the Jets in second place in the Central with 93 points. Nathan Walker had a goal and an assist for the 36-30-3 Blues (75 points) to remain four points out of the final Western Conference wildcard berth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche extended their win streak to seven games.

The Carolina Hurricanes got a two-goal performance from Seth Jarvis in a 4-1 win over the New York Islanders. Jake Guentzel had a goal and two assists and Evgeny Kuznetsov collected an assist as the Hurricanes (43-20-6) have won seven of their last eight and sit two points behind the Rangers in second place in the Metro Division. Kyle Palmieri scored for the 29-24-15 Islanders (73 points) as they’ve lost five straight and sit three points behind the Detroit Red Wings for the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot.

Meanwhile, the Red Wings got an overtime goal from Patrick Kane to nip the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3. Kane also collected two assists while Lucas Raymond tallied twice for the 35-28-6 Red Wings (76 points) as they regained that Eastern wildcard berth from the Washington Capitals. Zach Werenski had a goal and two assists for the 23-34-12 Blue Jackets.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov had a goal and three assists in a 5-3 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights. Brayden Point netted two third-period goals for the Lightning (37-25-6) as they hold the first Eastern wildcard spot with 80 points. Jonathan Marchessault tallied his 38th goal of the season for the 36-25-7 Golden Knights as they cling to the final Western wild-card berth with 79 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kucherov regained first place in the scoring race with 118 points, sitting one point up on the Avalanche’s MacKinnon.

The Vancouver Canucks picked up their fifth win in their last seven games by downing the Buffalo Sabres 3-2. Elias Pettersson scored twice and set up another for the Canucks (43-18-8) as they hold a one-point lead over the Jets and Avalanche for first place in the Western Conference with 94 points. Rasmus Dahlin scored both goals for the 33-32-5 Sabres (71 points) as they sit five points behind the Red Wings for that final Eastern wildcard berth.

An overtime power-play goal by Leon Draisaitl lifted the Edmonton Oilers to a 3-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens. Connor McDavid and Adam Henrique also scored for the 41-21-4 Oilers as they hold second place in the Pacific Division with 86 points. Nick Suzuki scored his career-high 27th goal of the season for the 25-31-12 Canadiens.

The Los Angeles Kings defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 6-2 with Anze Kopitar scoring twice and collecting an assist. Adrian Kempe picked up two assists for the Kings (35-22-11), who sit third in the Pacific Division with 81 points. Philipp Kurashev had two assists for the 19-45-5 Blackhawks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blackhawks center Connor Bedard collected an assist as he tied Jonathan Toews’ franchise rookie record of 54 points.

Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi and winger Filip Forsberg each had a goal and two assists as their club thumped the San Jose Sharks 8-2. Ryan McDonagh and Kiefer Sherwood each had three assists as the Predators improved to 40-25-4 and hold the first Western wildcard spot with 84 points. Mario Ferraro had a goal and an assist for the 16-45-7 Sharks.

The Philadelphia Flyers held off the Toronto Maple Leafs for a 4-3 victory. Owen Tippett and Morgan Frost each had a goal and an assist for the Flyers (35-26-8) as they remain in third place in the Metropolitan Division with 78 points. John Tavares had a goal and two assists for the 38-20-9 Maple Leafs (85 points) as they hold third place in the Atlantic Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flyers captain Sean Couturier was a healthy scratch. This drew criticism from his agent citing a lack of communication between his client and head coach John Tortorella.

The Minnesota Wild got a 27-save shutout from Filip Gustavsson to blank the Anaheim Ducks 4-0. Matt Boldy and Ryan Hartman each had two points and Kirill Kaprizov scored his 36th goal of the season for the 34-27-8 Wild (76 points) as they sit three points back of the Golden Knights for the final Western wildcard berth. John Gibson stopped 28 shots for the 23-43-3 Ducks.

New Jersey Devils forwards Timo Meier and Dawson Mercer scored twice in a 5-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Jake Allen stopped 36 shots for the Devils (33-32-4) as they sit five points behind the Red Wings for that final Eastern wildcard berth. Tristan Jarry turned aside 33 shots for the 30-29-9 Penguins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Penguins forward Jeff Carter missed this game, listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

HEADLINES

THE SCORE: Six proposed rule changes have been proposed to the NHL’s competition committee following this week’s meetings of NHL general managers in Florida.

One rule change will go into effect immediately as players will be banned from hanging their legs over the boards when not on the ice. A team will be warned first before receiving a bench minor.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That should reduce the increasing number of “too many men on the ice” penalties resulting from line changes.

The proposed changes include goaltenders being called for delay of game for intentionally dislodging the net, coach’s challenge for puck over-the-glass calls, and reviews for high-sticking penalties if it’s believed an offense wasn’t committed by the penalized player.

SPORTSNET: Rick Nash was named the general manager of Team Canada at this year’s IIHF World Championships in May. Nash is currently the director of player development for the Columbus Blue Jackets and was assistant GM for Canada at the 2022 Worlds.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Buffalo Sabres and Bills owner Terry Pegula named Pete Guelli as chief operating officer of both teams on Tuesday.

TSN: Former NHL player Chris Simon died Monday at age 52.

Simon played 15 NHL seasons with the Quebec Nordiques, Colorado Avalanche, Washington Capitals, Chicago Blackhawks, New York Rangers, Calgary Flames, New York Islanders and Minnesota Wild from 1992-93 to 2007-08.

One of the league’s most feared enforcers, he collected 1,824 PIMs in 782 games and received eight suspensions totaling 65 games. He also collected 144 goals and 161 assists for 305 regular-season points along with 10 goals and 17 points in 75 playoff games. In 1999-2000, he led the Capitals with 29 goals.

Simon won the Stanley Cup with the Avalanche in 1995-96, helped the Washington Capitals reach the 1998 Stanley Cup Final and the Calgary Flames advance to the 2004 Final.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Simon’s family indicated his death was by suicide. His agent indicated his former client struggled with CTE related to his playing career.

Simon’s role as an enforcer overshadowed his abilities as a player. My condolences to his family, friends and former teammates.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 15, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 15, 2024

Penguins lose Jake Guentzel in loss to the Panthers, the Flyers name a new captain, plus the latest on Morgan Rielly, Brendan Gallagher, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Florida Panthers picked up their seventh win in their last eight games by downing the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2. Matthew Tkachuk had a goal and two assists while Anton Lundell tallied twice for the 34-15-4 Panthers, who sit second in the Eastern Conference standings with 72 points. The Penguins (23-20-7) dropped their third straight game and also lost winger Jake Guentzel in the third period with an upper-body injury.

Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jake Guentzel (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sitting seven points out of a wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference, the Penguins’ playoff hopes are fading. That could push general manager Kyle Dubas to become a seller by the March 8 trade deadline. Guentzel has frequently surfaced in the rumor mill as a trade candidate but his value in the trade market could suffer if he’s sidelined long-term. There was no update following the game regarding his status.

Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck stopped 17 shots to shut out the San Jose Sharks 1-0. Morgan Barron scored the only goal for the Jets (32-14-5) as they sit third in the Central Division with 69 points. Kaapo Kahkonen kicked out 38 shots for the 14-33-5 Sharks.

The Minnesota Wild picked up their fourth straight win with a 3-1 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. Matt Boldy and Joel Eriksson Ek each had a goal and an assist for the 25-23-5 Wild (55 points) as they moved to within three points of the final Western Conference wild-card berth. Logan Cooley scored for the Coyotes (23-25-4), who also lost goaltender Connor Ingram for seven to 10 days after he left the game following the second period with an undisclosed injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes’ promising play over the first three months of this season has disappeared in recent weeks. They’ve been in a nosedive in the standings over the past several weeks, winning just twice in their last 10 games and tumbling out of a wild-card spot in the process.

HEADLINES

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: The Flyers named Sean Couturier as their new team captain with Scott Laughton and Travis Konecny as their alternate captains. Couturier is the 20th player in franchise history to become captain and the first since Claude Giroux was traded to Florida in 2022.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The timing of this announcement was puzzling as teams tend to name captains before the start of the season. One reader suggested perhaps they were waiting to see if Couturier, who missed all of 2022-23 recovering from back surgery, would be healthy enough to play out this season. Whatever the reason, Couturier was the obvious choice as he’s been their leader throughout this season.

Speaking of the Flyers, defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen could be sidelined for two-to-three weeks due to a minor procedure for an upper-body injury.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly intends to appeal his five-game suspension for cross-checking Ottawa Senators center Ridly Greig last Saturday.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Speaking of suspensions, Brendan Gallagher returns to the Canadiens lineup for tonight’s game against the New York Rangers. He served five games for an illegal hit to the head of New York Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech.

TSN: Boston Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark was fined $5,000.00 by the NHL department of player safety for high-sticking Tampa Bay Lightning forward Michael Eyssimont.

DAILY FACEOFF: Calgary Flames forward Jakob Pelletier is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

THE ATHLETIC: A league source confirmed the NHL will stage a Stadium Series game between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings on Saturday, March 1, 2025, at Ohio Stadium. It will be the Blue Jackets’ first outdoor game in franchise history.

ESPN: A union representing junior hockey players has filed a lawsuit against the NHL as well as the Canadian Hockey League and its affiliated junior hockey leagues and clubs. The suit alleges the development system for professional prospects violates antitrust laws.