NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 13, 2023
The Rangers’ Artemi Panarin extends his season-opening points streak, a four-point performance by the Panthers’ Sam Reinhart plus the fallout from the Oilers’ coaching change and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
SCORES AND RECAPS
NHL.COM: Artemi Panarin collected two assists to extend his season-opening points streak to 14 games as the New York Rangers nipped the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3. Alexis Lafreniere scored the winner in a shootout and tallied twice in regulation as the Rangers (11-2-1) sit first in the Metropolitan Division with 23 points. Elvis Merzlikins made 37 saves and rookie Adam Fantilli netted his fourth goal of the season for the 4-7-4 Blue Jackets.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rangers defenseman Ryan Lindgren left this game in the third period with an upper-body injury. No update was provided on his status.
Florida Panthers forward Sam Reinhart scored twice and collected two assists to lead his club to a 4-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Carter Verhaeghe had the tie-breaker in the third period for the Panthers (9-4-1), who sit second in the Atlantic Division with 19 points. Rookie Connor Bedard had two goals to reach nine on the season as his Blackhawks slipped to 5-8-0.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bedard leads all rookies this season with nine goals and 13 points in as many games. Fantilli is fourth in goals (four) and in points (nine )in 15 games.
The Dallas Stars scored five power-play goals and two shorthanded to thump the Minnesota Wild 8-3. Jason Robertson and Wyatt Johnston each had two goals and an assist while Miro Heiskanen collected three assists for the Stars (10-3-1), who hold first place in the Central Division with 21 points. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 29 shots for the 5-8-2 Wild, who’ve dropped seven of their last nine contests.
A three-goal second period powered the Vancouver Canucks to a 5-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens. Brock Boeser, Conor Garland and Dakota Joshua each had a goal and an assist while Casey DeSmith stopped 30 shots for the Canucks (11-3-1), who sit second in the Pacific Division with 23 points. Jake Allen made 32 saves as the Canadiens slipped to 7-6-2.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the game, the Canadiens recalled defenseman Gustav Lindstrom and loaned forward Joel Armia to their AHL affiliate in Laval.
Anaheim Ducks winger Frank Vatrano scored two goals and John Gibson turned aside 25 shots to down the San Jose Sharks 4-1. Vatrano finished with three points while Ryan Strome collected two assists as the Ducks improved to 8-6-0. Mackenzie Blackwood kicked out 40 shots for the 2-12-1 Sharks, who sit at the bottom of the overall standings with five points.
The fallout continues over the Oilers replacing Jay Woodcroft as head coach with Kris Knoblauch.
SPORTSNET: Marc Spector believes Woodcroft deserved his share of blame for the Oilers’ poor start to this season but there’s plenty to go around throughout the organization.
Spector believes this coaching change was decided by CEO of hockey operations (and former McDavid agent) Jeff Jackson Jackson. He also noted that Holland was unable to find a goalie upgrade in the trade market that could’ve perhaps kept Woodcroft in his job.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Robert Tychowski noted the high number of coaching changes by the Oilers (11 head coaches in the last 16 years), including five head coaches in eight years with the current player leadership group. He suggested that this core of players, which includes McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Darnell Nurse and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, is getting a reputation as coach killers.
David Staples observed the confusion that arose regarding whether Connor McDavid had any input in the decision to hire Knoblauch, who coached the Oilers captain during his Junior career with the OHL’s Erie Otters.
General manager Ken Holland said he spoke with some of his veteran players about a coaching change. He was contradicted by Jackson, who said the players weren’t consulted.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staples acknowledged the Oilers need better goaltending and to start scoring again, but felt the coaching change won’t matter if the players continue to refuse to play sound fundamental defense. That’s been an ongoing issue for this club for several years and explains the high coaching turnover over the period. Knoblauch won’t last long if McDavid and company don’t buy into his system.
COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Avalanche goaltender Pavel Francouz has probably played his final game with the club. Having undergone adductor surgery during the offseason, the club announced Sunday that the 33-year-old Francouz is done for the season. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Francouz’s playing career could be over. He has been hampered by injuries since 2020-21 that forced him to miss considerable time.
The Avalanche also announced they signed forward Joel Kiviranta to a one-year contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: CapFriendly indicates it’s a one-way contract worth $775K. He’d been playing with the Avs’ farm team on an AHL contract.
DAILY FACEOFF: Former NHL goaltender Roman Cechmanek passed away suddenly in Czechia at age 52. The circumstances of his death are not yet known.
Cechmanek played four NHL seasons from 2000-01 to 2003-24 with the Philadelphia Flyers and Los Angeles Kings. He spent most of his playing career (1991-92 to 2008-09) in Czechia and was part of their 1998 Winter Olympics gold medal-winning men’s hockey team.
In 212 career regular-season games, Cechmanek had a record of 110 wins, 64 losses and 28 overtime losses with a 2.08 goals-against average, a .919 save percentage and 28 shutouts, including 10 in 2000-01 with the Flyers.
During his three seasons with the Flyers, Cechmanek was named to the Second All-Star Team in 2000-01 and was also a finalist for the Vezina Trophy. In 2022-23, he shared the Jennings Trophy with teammate Robert Esche and New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cechmanek was an acrobatic goaltender who played well during his three seasons with the Flyers but tended to struggle in the playoffs. He returned to his native Czechia during the canceled 2004-05 NHL season and decided to continue his career in Europe until his retirement in 2009.
My condolences to Cechmanek’s family, friends and former teammates.