NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 31, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 31, 2022

Connor McDavid reaches 70 points with a five-point performance while the Hurricanes set a franchise-record win streak. Details and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid scored a goal and collected four assists in a 7-2 thumping of the Seattle Kraken. He extended his points streak to 17 games while becoming the first player to reach 40 assists and 70 points this season. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had four assists while Zach Hyman and Klim Kostin each tallied twice for the Oilers (20-15-2). Daniel Sprong and Brandon Tanev replied for the Kraken (18-12-4), who are winless in their last three games.

Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid leads the NHL points race with 72, 15 more than teammate Leon Draisaitl, who missed this game nursing some bumps and bruises. The Oilers captain also leads the goal-scoring race with 32.

The Carolina Hurricanes picked up their franchise-best 10th straight win by blanking the Florida Panthers 4-0. Antti Raanta kicked out 19 shots for the shutout while Brent Burns, Seth Jarvis and Jesperi Kotkaniemi each collected two points. With 54 points (24-6-6), the Hurricanes sit six points up on the New Jersey Devils in first place in the Metropolitan Division. The Panthers, meanwhile, slipped to 16-17-4.

Speaking of the New Jersey Devils, they doubled up the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2 to hand the latter their fourth straight loss. Jack Hughes scored twice while Vitek Vanecek made 25 saves for the win as the Devils improved to 23-11-2. Evgeni Malkin and Jeff Carter scored for the Penguins (19-11-6) as they went 0-9 on the power play in this game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Penguins defenseman Kris Letang missed this game with a lower-body injury. Earlier in the day, the Pens activated forward Ryan Poehling off injured reserve after missing the last three games with an upper-body injury.

Nashville Predators winger Filip Forsberg scored and set up two others in his 600th career NHL game to lead his club to a 6-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks. John Gibson made 37 saves for the Ducks as they dropped to 10-23-4. The Predators now sit at 15-14-5.

IN OTHER NEWS…

STLTODAY.COM: Vladimir Tarasenko remains questionable for Saturday’s game against the Minnesota Wild as he battles a non-COVID-related illness that sidelined him from Thursday’s win over the Chicago Blackhawks.

NYI HOCKEY NOW: Islanders winger Oliver Wahlstrom is listed as out indefinitely with a lower-body injury suffered during Tuesday’s win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Winger Simon Holmstrom (knee) was placed on injured reserve retroactive to Dec. 23 but remained day-to-day.

SPORTSNET: Montreal Canadiens defenseman Kaiden Guhle will miss Saturday’s game against the Washington Capitals with a lower-body injury suffered during Thursday’s loss to the Florida Panthers.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Former Capitals winger Devante Smith-Pelly, 30, has announced his retirement. He spent eight seasons in the NHL from 2011-12 to 2018-19 with the Anaheim Ducks, Montreal Canadiens, New Jersey Devils and Washington Capitals, helping the latter win the Stanley Cup in 2018.

Smith-Pelly spent 2019-20 in the KHL and the last two seasons in the AHL. In 395 NHL games, he scored 44 goals and 57 assists for 101 points along with 13 goals and 16 points (including three game-winners) in 51 postseason contests.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Smith-Pelly in his future endeavors. Capitals fans will long remember his highlight-reel game-tying goal in Game 5 of the 2018 Stanley Cup Final that set the stage for Lars Eller’s Cup-winning goal.










The 2022-23 NHL Season Could Be The Highest Scoring Since The Early ’90s

The 2022-23 NHL Season Could Be The Highest Scoring Since The Early ’90s

NHL scoring has steadily increased in recent years.

In 2015-16, the 2.71 goals average was the lowest since 2003-04 (2.57), which was the final season of the “Dead Puck Era”. It has since risen by each season, reaching 3.14 in 2021-22. The last time it was that high was 1995-96.

That season saw eight players, including Hall-of-Famers Mario Lemieux, Joe Sakic and Paul Kariya, reach or exceed the 50-goal plateau. Two of them (Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr) scored over 60 goals.

Twelve players, including Lemieux, Jagr, Sakic, Kariya and Hall-of-Fame stars like Peter Forsberg, Eric Lindros, Ron Francis, Teemu Selanne, Sergei Fedorov and Wayne Gretzky, reached or exceeded 100 points.

2021-22 saw four players reach 50 goals, with Auston Matthews becoming the first player in 10 years to score 60 goals. Eight players, including Matthews, Edmonton Oilers’ superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, and Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, netted 100-plus points.

Those stats may pale somewhat to the output of the class of 1995-96. Nevertheless, they were a part of a trend that began in 2018-19 when two players reached 50 goals and six netted 100 points. That was a big jump over 2017-18 when there were no 50 goal scorers and just three players got to 100 points.

The increase in scoring is continuing this season with the goals average at 3.19, which would be the highest since 1993-94’s average of 3.24.

That season saw nine players tally 50-or-more goals, including Hall-of-Famers such as Pavel Bure (60), Brett Hull (57), Fedorov (56), Dave Andreychuk (53), Brendan Shanahan (52), Mike Modano and Cam Neely (50 each).

Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (NHL Images).

Eight others exceeded 100 points, including Gretzky winning the last scoring title (130 points) in his storied career, followed by fellow Hall-of-Fame players like Fedorov (120), Adam Oates (112), Doug Gilmour (111), Bure and Mark Recchi (107 each) and Shanahan with 102.

As of Dec. 10, 2022, this season’s top-nine goal scorers include the Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid with 25, the Dallas Stars’ Jason Robertson (23), Buffalo Sabres’ Tage Thompson (21), Vancouver Canucks’ Bo Horvat (20), Boston Bruins’ David Pastrnak and the Oiler’s Leon Draisaitl (19 each), with the Minnesota Wild’s Kirill Kaprizov, the Toronto Maple Leafs William Nylander and the Pittsburgh Penguins Sidney Crosby all sitting with 17 goals.

By my rough estimate, at their current rate of production, they could all reach or exceed 50 goals by season’s end, with McDavid and Robertson potentially reaching 70 goals apiece and Thompson and Horvat netting 60 each.

Fifteen players had 35 or more points. Fourteen of them could hit 100-plus points by the end of this campaign. I’ve excluded the Colorado Avalanche’s Nathan MacKinnon, who has 34 points in 23 games but is sidelined for four weeks with an upper-body injury, which will likely keep him out of range for 100 points.

McDavid is the league leader with 54 points, putting him on pace to exceed 155 points. Draisaitl (46 points), Robertson (42 points) and Thompson (41 points) could reach 120 points.

The Tampa Bay Lightning’s Nikita Kucherov has 39 points, Crosby has 38, Pastrnak, the Florida Panthers’ Matthew Tkachuk and the San Jose Sharks’ Erik Karlsson each have 37.

The Maple Leafs’ Mitch Marner has 35 points. Kaprizov, along with the Vancouver Canucks’ Elias Pettersson, Toronto’s Auston Matthews, and the New York Rangers’ Artemi Panarin each have 34.

Again, by my rough estimates, they could reach or exceed 100 points.

Bear in mind that scoring tends to decline over the course of the season as games become more meaningful for playoff contenders and defenses tend to tighten up. Still, these numbers suggest we could see at least five players reach the 50-goal plateau and perhaps 10 topping 100 points.

What’s behind this rise in scoring? As I recently observed in my NHL Puck Drops column in The Guardian (PEI), a combination of factors appears to be at play here.

A growing number of players are faster, younger and more highly skilled. There are more puck-moving defensemen compared to recent years. Because of the growing number of younger stars, as Philadelphia Flyers coach John Tortorella recently observed, there are also more defensive mistakes being made.

Teams have improved their play with the man advantage to generate more scoring chances. Players are also driving more to the net and getting more goals with deflections and tip-ins. The quality of goaltending also seems to be on the decline as today’s scorers appear to have figured out how to beat the butterfly style favored by goalies since the early-1990s.

The growing rise in scoring could concern those fans who fear a return to the wide-open style of the 1980s when the quality of defensive play was rather poor. I don’t think that’s going to happen because there remains an emphasis on two-way skills in today’s league.

What we could be seeing is a more entertaining style of game with more offensive chances. At the same time, we should still see skillful defensive play that doesn’t rely on uncalled obstruction that dominated the Dead Puck Era of the league 1990s and early 2000s.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 7, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 7, 2022

The favorites to win the Hart Trophy for 2022-23, the league revamps a rule to permit disallowed penalties, and the Senators are enjoying a surge in season-ticket sales. Details and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

DAILY FACEOFF: Matt Larkin has the PointsBet odds for the top favorites and sleeper candidates for the 2022-23 Hart Memorial Trophy.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (NHL Images).

Edmonton Oilers forwards Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl and Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews sit atop the 10 favorites for the Hart. Columbus Blue Jackets winger Johnny Gaudreau leads the sleeper candidates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Follow the link provided above for Larkin’s full list. Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar could challenge McDavid, Draisaitl and Matthews if he builds upon last season’s stellar performance.

SCOUTING THE REFS: The NHL has revamped its review rule to permit disallowed penalties. Referees will now be able to nullify a major penalty after video review or downgrade it to a minor infraction. The change doesn’t apply to match penalty reviews.

SPORTSNET: The Ottawa Senators are seeing a significant surge in season-ticket sales following a busy offseason that saw them add Claude Giroux, Alex DeBrincat and Cam Talbot to their roster. It’s also fueled by growing excitement over the development of their young core led by Brady Tkachuk.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators could also see improvement at the gate throughout the coming season if the club becomes a playoff contender.

Speaking of the Senators, The Associated Press’ Stephen Whyno reports rookie defenseman Jake Sanderson has fully recovered from a lingering hand injury. He expects to be 100 percent when training camp opens later this month.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The fifth-overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, Sanderson is expected to become a blueline regular this season for the Senators.

TSN: Former NHL forward Brett Connolly signed a one-year contract with Lugano HC of Switzerland’s National League on Monday. The 30-year-old winger played in just nine games last season with the Chicago Blackhawks, who bought out the final season of his contract earlier this summer.

Connolly played 11 seasons in the NHL with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Boston Bruins, Washington Capitals, Florida Panthers and the Blackhawks from 2011-12 to 2021-22. He won a Stanley Cup with the Capitals in 2018 and tallied a career-best 22-goal, 46-point performance in 2018-19.

SIN BIN VEGAS: Golden Knights coach Bruce Cassidy recently provided an update on Laurent Brossoit. He said the 29-year-old goaltender is healing well from his (hip) surgery and is motivated to play this season.

However, Cassidy was vague over when Brossoit will return to the lineup. “Whether he joins us at the end of the year or two or three weeks in, we’ll see him.”

WINNIPEG SUN: Former Jets defenseman and captain Scott Campbell, 65, passed away on Saturday following a battle with cancer. Drafted first overall in the 1977 WHA draft by the Houston Aeros and ninth overall by the St. Louis Blues in the NHL Draft, Campbell opted for the WHA. His contract was purchased by the Jets after the Aeros folded and he won the Avco Cup with the Jets in 1978-79.

Campbell was part of the Jets after their move to the NHL in 1979. He was named team captain in the 1980-81 season and was traded to the Blues in 1981. His career was ended prematurely the following year by chronic asthma. He had 55 points in 149 WHA games and 25 points in 80 NHL contests.

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










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 27, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 27, 2022

Leon Draisaitl talks about how his ankle injury affected his postseason play, Joe Thornton won’t be returning with the Panthers, Mike Babcock intends to retire from coaching and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE SCORE: Kayla Douglas cited Leon Draisaitl telling Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman how his high ankle sprain during the playoffs forced him to change his style of play. The Edmonton Oilers center suffered the injury in Game 6 of his club’s first-round series against the Los Angeles Kings.

Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (NHL Images).

Draisaitl usually relies on speed to beat his opponents. He explained that the injury forced him to slow down his game and evolve as a player. “I tried to find a way to be productive in a different way,” said Draisaitl. “I thought I did a pretty good job of that.”

For the remainder of the Oilers’ playoff run, Draisaitl scored twice and collected 22 assists in 10 games while playing a more stationary style.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was apparent Draisaitl was hampered by his injury yet his output was impressive. It’s bad news for opponents that he used the experience to evolve his style of play. This lesson could also help him remain productive when age inevitably slows his skating.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: On Wednesday, Joe Thornton’s wife posted to her private Instagram account that the family will be moving on from South Florida. He signed a one-year contract last summer with the Panthers but appeared in just 34 regular-season games and one playoff contest. It’s uncertain what the future holds for the 43-year-old free-agent forward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After 24 seasons, Thornton’s NHL career has likely come to an end. His performance has been declining since his season-ending knee injury in 2017-18.

650 CKOM: Mike Babcock said he intends to retire from coaching after stepping down earlier this week as head coach of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies. While he seemed to leave the door open for a possible return to the NHL coach ranks, the 59-year-old indicated retirement was best for himself and his family.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Babcock had a long and successful career in the NHL. He sits 10th all-time in wins (700) between 2002-03 and 2019-20 with the Anaheim Ducks, Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs, winning the Stanley Cup with the Wings in 2008. Babcock faced allegations of bullying players following his dismissal by the Leafs but he has denied those claims.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: The Red Wings signed Filip Zadina to a three-year contract with an average annual value of $1.825 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chosen sixth overall in the 2018 NHL Draft, Zadina has struggled to play up to expectations as a top-six winger. The Wings appear intent on staying patient with the 22-year-old right winger. His affordable new contract could also make him easier to trade if the two sides feel he might benefit from a change of scenery.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning signed Philippe Myers to a one-year, $1.4 million contract extension. The 25-year-old defenseman was acquired from the Nashville Predators as part of the return in the Ryan McDonagh trade earlier this summer. Myers is entering the final season of his current contract with a $2.55 million cap hit.

DAILY FACEOFF: Vegas Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon said the club will go with the goalie tandem of Logan Thompson and Laurent Brossoit to start the upcoming season. There was speculation over how they would address the absence of Robin Lehner, who is undergoing double hip surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McCrimmon has no choice. There are no viable replacement options via free agency or the trade market for his cap-strapped club.

TSN: cited the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reporting Senators general manager Pierre Dorion saying he’s still talking with the agents for Erik Brannstrom and Alex Formenton. He anticipates the two restricted free agents to be signed before training camp opens next month.

In other Senators’ news, they recently reached an affiliation agreement with the ECHL’s Allen Americans. Speaking of NHL teams and ECHL affiliates…

CALGARY SUN: The Flames named the Rapid City Rush as their ECHL affiliate.

NHL.COM: The San Jose Sharks did the same with the Wichita Thunder as did the Arizona Coyotes with the Atlanta Gladiators.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 17, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 17, 2022

The NHL and NHLPA release their COVID protocol for 2022-23, Wayne Gretzky has been hit with a $10 million lawsuit, Jets center Mark Scheifele clarifies his end-of-season comments and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The NHL and NHLPA released their COVID-19 protocol for 2022-23. There’s little change from last season’s protocol.

Testing will only happen for asymptomatic players and those crossing the Canada-US border. Those who test positive must isolate for five days if asymptomatic and 10 days if experiencing symptoms. Unvaccinated players remain unable to cross the border.

The NHL can postpone, reschedule or cancel games and events due to a COVD-19 outbreak if it poses a health risk to players and others.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Detroit Red Wings forward Tyler Bertuzzi and Edmonton Oilers forward Josh Archibald were the only two unvaccinated NHL players by the end of last season. Archibald, now with the Pittsburgh Penguins, received a medical exemption in May. The travel restriction for the coming season would only apply to Bertuzzi unless he gets vaccinated or receives a medical exemption.

NEW YORK POST: cites TMZ reporting Hall-of-Famer Wayne Gretzky has been hit with a $10 million lawsuit accusing him of lying about losing 35 pounds after using a weight-loss gum for two months.

TSN: Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele downplayed speculation about his future based on his end-of-season comments in May. He pointed out that he prefaced those remarks by professing his love of playing in Winnipeg and his desire to remain with the Jets. Scheifele claims his comment about thinking about his career and what was best for him after the club missed the playoffs was misconstrued by the media.

Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele (NHL Images).

I was confident I was coming back until I saw all the media headlines and then all of a sudden it’s I’m getting traded and who knows where I’m going and all that stuff,” said Scheifele.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff played down Scheifele’s comments last spring. He said the exit interview between the two went well, dismissing Scheifele’s remarks as an emotional reaction to missing the playoffs.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft said Darnell Nurse and Leon Draisaitl are progressing well recovering from injuries suffered during the 2022 playoffs. Both are currently working out and Woodcroft expects they’ll be ready for training camp next summer.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks signed Jack Johnson to a one-year contract worth $950K. The 35-year-old defenseman played for the Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche last season, appearing in 74 regular-season games and 13 playoff contests.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Former NHL forward Cedric Paquette has signed a one-year contract with KHL club Dinamo Minsk in Belarus.

CAP FRIENDLY: indicates Derek Stepan has signed a professional tryout offer with the Carolina Hurricanes.

SALTWIRE: One of the two arenas at Summerside’s Credit Union Place was named in honor of New York Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to Gallant for this well-deserved honor by his hometown. Gallant is among the best-known hockey men from Prince Edward Island. He started his playing career in Summerside’s minor hockey program and went on to play 11 seasons in the NHL from 1984-85 to 1994-95.

Since 2014-15, Gallant has become one of the league’s top coaches. He won the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year in 2017-18 and guided the Vegas Golden Knights to the 2018 Stanley Cup Final. He took over behind the Rangers’ bench last season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 9, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 9, 2022

The latest on the Rangers and Lightning as the Eastern Conference Finals returns to New York for Game 5, ongoing fallout from the Oilers’ elimination from the Western Conference Finals, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The New York Rangers hope to regain the lead in the 2022 NHL Eastern Conference Finals on home ice as the series returns to New York for Game 5 tonight at 8 pm ET. They saw a 2-0 series lead evaporate as the Lightning won Games 3 and 4 in Tampa Bay.

New York Rangers forward Filip Chytil (NHL Images).

The Rangers haven’t lost on home ice since Game 1 of their first-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins. They’re also 3-0 in home games following a road loss.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers centers Ryan Strome and Filip Chytil will be game-time decisions. Strome has been sidelined since Game 3 with a lower-body injury while Chytil left Game 4 with an upper-body injury.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning head coach Jon Cooper hasn’t ruled out center Brayden Point for Game 5. He’s been working his way back into the lineup since suffering a lower-body injury in Game 7 of their first-round series with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The presence or absence of Strome, Chytil and/or Point could affect the outcome of Game 5. While the Lightning has coped with Point’s absence, his return would provide them with a big boost. The Rangers, meanwhile, are still learning to adjust without Strome and Chytil in their lineup.

SPORTSNET: Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland revealed several of his players were coping with injuries during their playoff run. However, none of them are expected to undergo surgeries.

Holland confirmed forward Leon Draisaitl played with a high-ankle sprain suffered during their first-round series with the Los Angeles Kings. He still managed to finish the playoffs with 32 points in 16 games, including four primary assists in their 6-5 series-ending loss to the Colorado Avalanche in the Western Conference Finals.

Defenseman Darnell Nurse played the entire postseason with a torn hip flexor. Center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was dealing with a shoulder injury but still managed 14 points in 16 games.

Winger Jesse Puljujarvi suffered a shoulder injury in Game 4 against the Avalanche and his recovery timeline is four-to-six weeks. Winger Kailer Yamamoto missed the final two games against the Avs due to concussion protocol.

Holland also indicated five-to-seven other Oilers, including goaltender Mike Smith, were battling injuries.

TSN: Holland also praised interim head coach Jay Woodcroft for doing a “fabulous job” in getting the Oilers to the Western Conference Finals. He intends to meet with Woodcroft next week to discuss his future with the club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That should be a short conversation with Woodcroft getting the “interim” tag removed from his job title in the near future. He took over a club that was sinking in the standings and quickly reversed its fortunes, guiding them to a 26-9-3 record in their final 38 games and a second-place finish (104 points) in the Pacific Division.

THE DENVER POST: Ticket prices in Denver for the 2022 Stanley Cup Final are going for up to $1,000.00 on the secondary market, with some peaking at $10,000.00.

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz examines the trades by Avalanche GM Joe Sakic that helped turn his club into a Stanley Cup finalist. Among the noteworthy additions were Nazem Kadri, Devon Toews, Darcy Kuemper, Andre Burakovsky, Samuel Girard, Josh Manson and Arturri Lehkonen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sakic has made moves that will help his club now and over the long term. He’s proven to be among the savviest general managers in the league.