NHL One-Year Wonders: Central Division
Game recaps, injury updates and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt even the most die-hard Golden Knights fan envisioned their club holding first place in the Pacific. Considering their injury-ravaged goaltending, this is an impressive achievement for an expansion team. I still don’t see this club clinching a playoff berth, but if they do, it’ll make a helluva story.
Josh Bailey scored the winner in overtime and also collected two assists as the New York Islanders topped the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3. Bailey’s goal came as the result of impressive work by center John Tavares.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: For anyone with lingering doubts over why Tavares could be the top player potentially available in this summer’s free-agent market, watching him shake off Flyers center Sean Couturier to set up Bailey’s game winner should wipe away your uncertainty. It was highlight reel stuff, folks.
Brock Boeser scored two goals for the second straight game while Anders Nilsson made 43 saves to lead the Vancouver Canucks to a 5-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boeser’s tearing it up offensively of late. He now leads this season’s rookie class in goals (11) and points (21).
Chris Kreider and Jesper Fast both scored two goals as the New York Rangers thumped the Carolina Hurricanes 6-1. The Rangers have won eight of their last 10 games.
Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter each scored twice as the Minnesota Wild edged the Buffalo Sabres 5-4, handing the latter their seventh straight defeat. Jordan Nolan scored two goals for the Sabres.
Jakub Vrana scored twice, Evgeni Kuznetsov had a goal and two assists and Alex Ovechkin tallied his 14th goal of the season in the Washington Capitals’ 5-2 win over the Ottawa Senators, handing the Sens their fourth straight defeat. Earlier in the day, the Sens claimed Gabriel Dumont off waivers from the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Filip Forsberg netted two goals and Kyle Turris tallied the winner in a shootout to give the Nashville Predators a 3-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens, leaving the latter winless in their last five games. The Habs were playing without defenseman Shea Weber (lower-body injury) for the second straight game.
Connor McDavid and Ryan Strome each collected two assists as the Edmonton Oilers snapped a three-game losing skid with a 6-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings.
Nathan MacKinnon had three assists and Jonathan Bernier stopped 28 shots to shut out the Dallas Stars 3-0. MacKinnon has 20 points in his last 10 games.
Nick Bjugstad scored in a shootout as the Florida Panthers squeaked past the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1. Roberto Luongo made 43 saves for the win while Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen kicked out 42 shots.
Brayden Point’s overtime goal completed the comeback for the Tampa Bay Lightning as they overcame a 2-0 deficit to nip the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2. Patrick Kane scored twice for the Hawks.
Steve Mason made 38 saves as the Winnipeg Jets hung on for a 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings.
Charlie McAvoy’s shootout goal gave the Boston Bruins a 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils. Anton Khudobin turned aside 40 shots for the victory. Earlier in the day, the Devils learned winger Kyle Palmieri will miss four-to-six weeks with a broken right foot.
Josh Anderson scored in overtime and Sergei Bobrovsky had a 22-save shutout performance as the Columbus Blue Jackets blanked the Calgary Flames 1-0.
Joe Thornton, Logan Couture and Joel Ward scored to give the San Jose Sharks a 3-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes, ending the latter’s three-game win streak. It was a costly loss for the Coyotes, as goalie Antti Raanta left the game in the first period with an upper-body injury.
THE ATHLETIC: Escrow payments for NHL players are going down. The rate for this season was set at 11.5 percent to start the season, but it’s plausible they’ll only lose eight or nine percent of their pay to escrow by season’s end. The players will also receive escrow refunds of 3 percent for 2015-16.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: High escrow clawbacks are a significant issue for the players. But if that rate is declining and they continue to see refunds, it could dampen speculation suggesting the NHL Players Association might vote for an early opt-out of the collective bargaining agreement in September 2019.
NHL unveils remainder of their 100 greatest players to start All-Star weekend. Reaction and more in your morning headlines.
NHL.COM: On Friday, the NHL unveiled the remaining 67 of its 100 greatest players at a gala event in Los Angeles to kick off the start of the All-Star weekend. They were all players who played predominantly from 1967 to the present. The list included such greats as Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux, as well as current active stars such as Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin and Jaromir Jagr.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: You can see the complete list of the top 100, as well as bios of the players, by following the above link.
For the players being honored, meeting and chatting backstage before the gala left them in awe of each other. Many of the younger players were honored to be mixing with their idols, who were in turn thrilled to meet them.
ESPN.COM: Gretzky, Orr and Lemieux agreed that the greatest player of all time was Gordie Howe, who passed away last June at age 88. Among active players, Gretzky and Lemieux consider Crosby the best in the league right now. “Until someone knocks him off the castle, that’s the way it’s going to be,” said Gretzky.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: “Mr. Hockey” may no longer be with us, but his legend still looms large over the NHL.
NBC SPORTS: Pierre Pilote, Dale Hawerchuk and MIchel Goulet were among some of the notable Hockey Hall of Famers who were not part of the 100 greatest, while active stars such as Joe Thornton, Evgeni Malkin and Zdeno Chara were also passed over.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s very difficult to come up with a list of the 100 greatest players of all time. For every slam dunk selection such as Howe, Orr and Gretzky, there will be several worthy candidates who fail to make the cut. Every fan will have a favorite star they believe merits inclusion over others.
OTTAWA SUN: Senators goaltender Craig Anderson could return to action early next week. Anderson had taken a leave of absence to be with his wife Nicholle, who’s completed treatment for throat cancer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Good news for the Senators, and here’s hoping Nicholle Anderson make a complete recovery.
TVA SPORTS: Renaud Lavoie reports the Tampa Bay Lightning placed Gabriel Dumont and Michael Bournival on waivers.