NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 25, 2023
The Sabres keep their playoff hopes alive, the Avalanche move up in the Central Division, Coyotes minority owner is suspended after arrest for strangulation charge, US President Joe Biden makes a playful dig at the Maple Leafs, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: The Buffalo Sabres kept their playoff hopes alive with a 5-4 upset of the New Jersey Devils. Alex Tuch scored two goals and collected an assist for the 34-31-6 Sabres (74 points), who sit six points out of the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth. Jack Hughes also had two goals and an assist for the Devils (45-19-8) as remain two points behind the Metropolitan Division-leading Carolina Hurricanes with 98 points.
Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon and defenseman Cale Makar each had a goal and two assists to defeat the Arizona Coyotes 3-1. The Avalanche improved to 42-23-6 (90 points) and sit one point behind the second-place Minnesota Wild in the Central Division. Clayton Keller scored his 35th goal of the season for the 27-34-12 Coyotes, who were officially eliminated from playoff contentions.
An overtime goal by Boone Jenner lifted the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 5-4 upset win over the New York Islanders. Johnny Gaudreau had a goal and an assist while Kent Johnson scored a lacrosse-style “Michigan” goal for the 23-41-7 Blue Jackets. Brock Nelson tallied twice for the Islanders 37-27-9, who hold the first Eastern wild-card spot with 83 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the game, the Blue Jackets announced winger Patrik Laine will be sidelined for two to four weeks with a triceps strain suffered during practice on Thursday.
ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes minority owner Andrew Barroway has been suspended indefinitely by the NHL following his arrest on Thursday night in Aspen, Colorado, on a felony strangulation charge. He also faces a misdemeanor third-degree assault charge.
Barroway posted bond on Friday and is under a court order not to have any contact with his wife unless it involves their children.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barroway was the Coyotes’ majority owner from 2014 to 2019 before selling 95 percent of the team to current owner Alex Meruelo. The club issued a statement on Friday indicating they were aware of the allegations against Barroway and are working with the league to gather more information before issuing an appropriate response.
SPORTSNET: US president Joe Biden took a playful dig at the Toronto Maple Leafs during his address in the Canadian House of Commons on Friday.
“I have to say, I like your teams except the Leafs,” said Biden, drawing a standing ovation from many House of Commons members.
“I’ll tell you why. They beat the Flyers back in January, that’s why. I married a Philly girl (Jill Biden). If I didn’t say that, I’d be sleeping alone and fellas, I like you but not that much,” he said, drawing laughter from the parliamentarians and their guests.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I thought it was a good-natured, funny remark by Biden. Unlike previous presidents, he’s a hockey fan and has been following the Flyers for years. I was a little surprised by how many parliamentarians stood and cheered. It just goes to show how many House members are fans of the other six Canadian clubs.
VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Logan Thompson, Reilly Smith and Alec Martinez will be unavailable for the final game of the Golden Knights’ Western Canada road trip. Thompson and Smith returned to Las Vegas for injury maintenance while Martinez is away for personal reasons.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins forward A.J. Greer received a one-game suspension by the NHL department of player safety for cross-checking Montreal Canadiens winger Mike Hoffman in the face on Thursday night.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hoffman’s face was carved up by Greer’s stick. The Canadiens winger wasn’t pleased about the Bruins forward getting only one game for his actions.
Hoffman noted he received a two-game suspension earlier in his career for cross-checking an opponent in the back of the head. However, Greer only got one game for an intentional cross-check to the face.
Hoffman deserved his two-game suspension because hits to the head are dangerous and the league is supposedly trying to eliminate that from the game. He’s right, however, to be upset with the inconsistency over the way the league hands down its punishments.
Greer’s hit was more egregious and deliberate, striking an opponent in the face. The last time I checked, the face was part of the head. And yet, he gets the equivalent of a slap on the wrist.
The department of player safety has received increasing criticism from fans on social media and from pundits over its puzzling rulings. However, the league’s brain trust continues to defend and support it. Hoffman’s comments won’t change things.
DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: With goaltender Ville Husso listed as day-to-day, the Red Wings recalled netminder Alex Nedeljkovic from their AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids.
DAILY FACEOFF: The Canucks re-signed defenseman Christian Wolanin to a two-year, two-way contract.
THE PROVINCE: Speaking of the Canucks, their long-time TV color commentator John Garrett will be retiring from their regional broadcasts at the end of this season. He’s been in the role since 2002. A former NHL goaltender in the late-1970s and early-1980s, he began his broadcasting career in 1986 on Hockey Night in Canada and moved to Sportsnet in 1998.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s the end of an era for Canucks broadcasting. Love him or hate him, Garrett was always entertaining. Best wishes for an enjoyable retirement.