NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 31, 2023
The Bruins clinch the Presidents’ Trophy, the Golden Knights clinch a playoff berth, the Oilers’ Connor McDavid scores his 300th career goal, the Panthers’ Matthew Tkachuk reaches 100 points, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: The Boston Bruins won their fourth Presidents’ Trophy in franchise history by downing the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1 on an overtime goal by David Pastrnak. Tyler Bertuzzi also scored for the league-leading Bruins (121 points) as they set a franchise record for wins with 58. Jack Roslovic scored for the 23-43-8 Blue Jackets, who played without Adam Boqvist due to an illness.
The Vegas Golden Knights dropped a 4-3 overtime loss to the San Jose Sharks but gained a point to become the first Western Conference club to clinch a playoff berth. Logan Couture tallied the game-winning goal for the 21-39-15 Sharks. The Golden Knights (46-22-7) sit atop the West with 99 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vegas center Jack Eichel became the eighth player in NHL history to make his playoff debut after scoring 400-plus regular-season points.
Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid scored his 300th career goal while Stuart Skinner kicked out 43 shots to shut out the Los Angeles Kings 2-0. Evander Kane also scored as the Oilers improved to 44-23-9 and moved one point ahead of the Kings into second place in the Pacific Division with 97 points. Joonas Korpisalo stopped 35 shots for the 43-22-10 Kings, who were without winger Kevin Fiala due to a lower-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid set an NHL record by becoming the first player to record five 10-game points streaks in a single season. He’s also the fifth-fastest player to score 300 goals and 500 assists before his 600th career game.
Florida Panthers winger Matthew Tkachuk became the fourth player to reach 100 points this season in a 5-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens. Tkachuk (101 points) tallied a hat trick while Anton Lundell scored twice for the 38-31-7 Panthers (83 points) as they remain one point behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth. Canadiens defenseman David Savard missed this game with a lower-body injury while forward Kirby Dach is sidelined for at least a week with an upper-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tkachuk became the fourth player in NHL history to record 100-plus points in consecutive seasons with two different teams.
Speaking of the Penguins, they maintained their lead over the Panthers by blanking the Nashville Predators 2-0. Tristan Jarry turned in a 28-save shutout while Jason Zucker and Jake Guentzel scored for the 37-28-10 Penguins. Juuse Saros stopped 43 shots for the 37-29-8 Predators (82 points) as they remain three points out of the final Western Conference wild-card spot.
The Ottawa Senators blew a 4-1 lead but recovered to defeat the Philadelphia Flyers 5-4 on an overtime goal by Alex DeBrincat. Tim Stutzle had a goal and an assist while Shane Pinto tallied his 20th goal of the season for the Senators (37-33-5) as they remain five points back of the Penguins with 79 points. Cam York had a goal and an assist and Owen Tippett netted his 23rd of the season for the 29-32-13 Flyers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins and Senators each have seven games remaining. Unless the Pens collapse, the Sens aren’t going to catch them.
First-period goals by Erik Haula and Timo Meier enable the New Jersey Devils to hold off the New York Rangers by a score of 2-1. Chris Kreider replied for the Rangers. The Devils improved to 47-20-8 and widened their lead over the Rangers by four points (102) for second place in the Metropolitan Division.
A goal by Jake Walman with four seconds remaining in the third period gave the Detroit Red Wings a 4-3 upset win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Alex Nedeljkovic made 31 saves for the win as the Red Wings improved to 33-32-9 on the season. Jaccob Slavin had a goal and an assist for the 47-18-9 Hurricanes as they sit one point ahead of the Devils in first place in the Metropolitan Division with 103 points. Hurricanes winger Teuvo Teravainen missed this game due to illness.
Tampa Bay Lightning forward Pat Maroon tallied twice in a 5-1 victory over the Washington Capitals. Steven Stamkos and Alex Killorn each had a goal and an assist for the 44-26-6 Lightning as they hold third place in the Atlantic Division with 94 points. Craig Smith replied for the Capitals (34-33-9) as they fall seven points behind the Penguins with 77 points.
The Seattle Kraken strengthened their hold on the first Western Conference wild-card spot by dropping the Anaheim Ducks 4-1. Matty Beniers and Jaden Schwartz each had a goal and an assist for the 41-25-8 Kraken as they hold a five-point lead over the Winnipeg Jets with 90 points. Brock McGinn replied for the 23-42-10 Ducks.
St. Louis Blues winger Brandon Saad had a goal and an assist in a 5-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blues (35-34-9) have won six of the last eight games. Tyler Johnson had a goal and an assist for the 24-45-6 Blackhawks, who’ve now dropped seven straight games.
DAILY FACEOFF: Marty Walsh, the new executive director of the NHL Players’ Association, spoke with the media yesterday for the first time since taking over from former director Donald Fehr.
Walsh said he recently met with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, joking that they’ll have a wonderful relationship as long as Bettman agrees with everything he says. Turning serious, he expressed the hope of working together with Bettman but stressed that he works for the players.
He also addressed his relationship with the Jacobs family, who own the Bruins and donated to his political campaigns. “Supporting my campaign is one thing,” said Walsh. “Using that as a way to leverage me is never going to happen.”
Walsh said he likes the idea of increasing next season’s salary cap by more than $1 million but indicated the players are not interested in increasing their escrow payments to do so. He also said he’ll need some time to consider the next round of collective bargaining that is two and a half years away.
The new PA director is interested in working with the league toward staging a World Cup of Hockey in 2025. He also said that he’s supportive of the LGBTQ-plus community and wants NHL dressing rooms to be inclusive spaces but also supports a player’s individual right to decide whether they’ll wear a Pride warmup jersey. He pointed out that “a super majority” of players have worn the jersey.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Walsh addressed other topics but these were the main points of interest. It’s noteworthy that he is willing to discuss raising the cap for next season by more than the agreed-upon rate of $1 million but quickly dismissed the idea of increasing escrow payments, which is what Bettman has said must happen for the rate to rise beyond $1 million.
The players seem fine with playing one more season under a flattened cap. They’re secure in the knowledge that there will be significant cap increases over the remaining two seasons of the current CBA that won’t require increases in escrow.
It’s the team owners and general managers who prefer raising the cap for 2023-24. It’ll be up to them to pressure Bettman into finding another way to raise it that’ll meet with the PA’s approval.
DAILY FACEOFF: The NCAA announced that University of Michigan forward Adam Fantilli and University of Minnesota forwards Logan Cooley and Matthew Knies are the 2023 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award as the most outstanding player in NCAA hockey.
Fantilli is eligible for the 2023 NHL draft. Cooley was chosen third overall by the Arizona Coyotes in the 2022 draft while Knies was taken 57th overall in the 2021 draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The winner will be announced on April 7.