NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 16, 2023
A milestone game for the Rangers’ Chris Kreider, the league and NHLPA investigate a breach in treatment protocol for Coyotes defenseman Juuso Valimaki, and the Avalanche trade Tomas Tatar to the Kraken. Details on these and other stories in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider scored two goals in a 5-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. Jonathan Quick made 29 saves while Artemi Panarin and Adam Fox each picked up two assists for the Rangers (20-7-1) as they sit in first place in the Metropolitan Division and second overall in the Eastern Conference with 41 points. Lukas Dostal made 34 saves for the Ducks (10-19-0) as they’ve lost five straight games and nine of their last ten.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a milestone game for Kreider as he surpassed Adam Graves to move into third place among the Rangers’ all-time goalscoring leaders with 281. He also tied Graves for fourth on their all-time list for power-play goals (100) and surpassed the 500-point mark (501). He’s just seven points away from surpassing Graves for tenth place among the Blueshirts in total points.
The Boston Bruins defeated the New York Islanders 5-4 on a shootout goal by David Pastrnak, who also had a goal and an assist in regulation time. James van Riemsdyk and Morgan Geekie also each scored and collected an assist for the 19-5-4 Bruins, who sit in first place in the Eastern Conference with 42 points. Bo Horvat had a goal and two assists while Mathew Barzal set up two goals for the Islanders (14-7-8), who sit in second place in the Metropolitan Division with 36 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders announced that defenseman Scott Mayfield (upper body) was placed on injured reserve before this game.
Four unanswered third-period goals lifted the Buffalo Sabres to a 5-2 upset of the Vegas Golden Knights. Casey Mittelstadt scored twice and collected an assist while Dylan Cozens had a goal and two assists for the 13-15-3 Sabres. Ivan Barbashev and Jack Eichel replied for the Golden Knights (20-6-5) as they held a three-point lead over the Bruins for first place in the overall standings with 45 points.
An overtime goal by Filip Forsberg lifted the Nashville Predators over the Carolina Hurricanes 6-5. Roman Josi and Ryan O’Reilly each had a goal and two assists for the Predators (17-13-0), who’ve won three straight games and hold the first Western Conference wild-card berth with 34 points. Martin Necas and Stefan Noesen each had a goal and an assist for the 16-12-2 Hurricanes as they cling to the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot with 34 points.
The Dallas Stars overcame a 4-2 deficit in a 5-4 win over the Ottawa Senators. Matt Duchene had a goal and an assist while Scott Wedgewood made 25 saves as the Stars improved to 17-8-3 and sit in second place in the Central Division with 37 points. Drake Batherson scored two goals and Jakob Chychrun picked up three assists for the 11-14-0 Senators, who have dropped seven of their last 10 games and remain mired in last place in the Eastern Conference with 11 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stars goalie Jake Oettinger started this game but left just eight minutes into the first period with a lower-body injury. He will not be traveling with his team to St. Louis for Saturday’s game against the Blues.
Arizona Coyotes goalie Connor Ingram made 21 saves to shut out the San Jose Sharks 1-0. Mattias Maccelli scored for the Coyotes (14-13-2) as they regained the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference with 30 points. Kaapo Kahkonen turned aside 23 shots for the 9-18-3 Sharks.
DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli cited sources indicating the NHL and NHL Players Association are investigating a gap in treatment protocol as defenseman Juuso Valimaki was left in a Dallas hospital without care for hours last month after suffering a serious facial injury during a game against the Stars on Nov. 14.
According to Seravalli’s sources, Valimaki was dropped off at the emergency room and left to advocate for his own care with his wife Vilma (who was traveling with him during that road game) and a Coyotes employee. After initial observation, the overworked Dallas hospital told Valimaki to find a local hotel and return the next day as they were treating more critical incoming trauma patients.
Valimaki, however, required immediate treatment. With a bloodied face, a hole in his mouth, and internal bleeding, he was unable to function. Doctors later said he might have asphyxiated in his sleep on his blood had he gone to the hotel as instructed. Five hours later after the NHLPA stepped in, Valimaki received 55 stitches in his mouth to close the wound, which included a fractured bone and the loss of three teeth.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli’s story indicates it was Valimaki’s wife who called the NHLPA after her husband spent an hour in the emergency room without care. It was two hours later when his face and wound were finally cleaned, another hour before he was admitted to the hospital for surgery to close the wound in his mouth and another 12 hours before he received surgery to repair the fractured bone in his mouth and realign his remaining teeth.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tatar, 33, signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract this summer with the Avalanche. He struggled to mesh with his new club, tallying one goal and nine points in 27 games. The move frees up cap space for the Avalanche if they wish to make another move later in the season.
The Kraken, meanwhile, are struggling to score this season. Pressed for cap space, they hope Tatar (a former six-time 20-plus goal scorer) can regain his form in Seattle.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In what could be a related move, the Sharks also placed forward Nico Sturm on injured reserve.
PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Sam Carchidi reports Flyers general manager Daniel Briere doesn’t intend to be a buyer before this season’s NHL trade deadline. While the club is exceeding expectations, Briere doesn’t intend to mortgage the future just to sneak into the playoffs.
Briere would love for the Flyers to reach the postseason. However, he still believes his club should stockpile draft picks rather than trade those assets for rental players.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see if Briere becomes a seller by the March 8 deadline if the Flyers are still holding a playoff berth by then. He could stand pat rather than shop his own pending unrestricted free agents such as Sean Walker and Nick Seeler.
Both defensemen have reportedly drawn lots of interest in the trade market. Briere could still move one or both by March 8 for the right offer.
TSN: Columbus Blue Jackets winger Patrik Laine is expected to miss six weeks as he recovers from a fractured clavicle suffered during Thursday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Laine has been plagued by injuries over the past three seasons. He’s recently surfaced in media trade conjecture though there’s no indication he wants to be moved or that the Blue Jackets are shopping him. If he was available in the trade market, his injury history would hurt his value.
CBS SPORTS: The Los Angeles Kings placed defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov (lower body) in injured reserve. He’s listed as week-to-week.
DAILY FACEOFF: Speaking of the Kings, backup goalie Pheonix Copley left practice on Friday with an undisclosed injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings have reportedly called up David Rittich.
TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins placed forward Vinnie Hinostroza on waivers to send him to their AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.