NHL One-Hit Wonders: Atlantic Division
Playoff game recaps, injury updates, Norris Trophy nominees revealed and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Boston Bruins pushed the Toronto Maple Leafs closer to the brink of elimination with a 3-1 victory in Game 4 of their opening-round series. The Bruins hold a 3-1 lead in the series and can wrap things up on Saturday in Boston. Tuukka Rask made 31 saves, Brad Marchand scored the winning goal and David Pastrnak collected two assists for the Bruins, who were playing without top center Patrice Bergeron (lower-body injury, day-to-day).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs dominated this game but a couple of defensive breakdowns led to consecutive two-on-one goals by Marchand and Jake DeBrusk, giving the Bruins an insurmountable two-goal lead.
Evgeny Kuznetsov had a goal and two assists as the Washington Capitals downed the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1 to tie their best-of-seven series at two games apiece. Alex Ovechkin and Tom Wilson each had a goal and an assist and Braden Holtby made 23 saves for the win. The series returns to Washington for Game 5 on Saturday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blue Jackets looked surprising flat in this game, showing little of the spark from the first three games of the series. Secondary scoring has become a problem for the Jackets, as they’re not getting much production beyond leading scorers Artemin Panarin and Cam Atkinson.
Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings, Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning and P.K. Subban of the Nashville Predators are this season’s three finalists for the Norris Trophy.
Philadelphia Flyers center Sean Couturier (lower-body injury) hopes to return for Game 5 against the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight. Couturier missed Game 4 after suffering his injury in practice the day before.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins winger Patric Hornqvist (upper-body injury) will miss Game 5 tonight against the Flyers.
Andrew Hammond will replace sidelined Colorado Avalanche goaltender Jonathan Bernier tonight in Game 5 of their series against the Nashville Predators.
The Predators will be without forward Ryan Hartman, who received a one-game suspension for an illegal check to the head of Avalanche forward Carl Soderberg in Game 4.
New Jersey Devils defenseman Sami Vatanen is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury suffered in Game 4 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. He hasn’t been ruled out for Game 5 on Saturday.
The Lightning signed forward Michael Bournival to a one-year, two-way contract. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks forward Anthony Duclair has reached out to a young Nova Scotia goaltender who was the victim of a racial slur. “I just told him that he does belong,” Duclair said.“He can do whatever he wants in this world.”
BUFFALO NEWS: Sabres owner Terry Pegula said his club will not raise season-ticket prices for 2018-19.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Considering how poorly the Sabres played this season they would’ve had a difficult time justifying a price hike.
Game recaps, 2019 NHL Draft host city revealed plus updates on Patrice Bergeron, Matt Murray and more in your morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Eric Staal’s hat trick powered the Minnesota Wild to an 8-3 beatdown of the slumping St. Louis Blues. Staal had five points in the game, as did teammate Jason Zucker (one goal, four assists). Vladimir Tarasenko scored two goals for the Blues.
New Jersey Devils winger Taylor Hall set a franchise record by extending his points streak to 15 games as his club edged the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2. Penguins goaltender Matt Murray missed the game with a concussion suffered during Monday’s practice and there’s no timetable for his return.
Evander Kane made an immediate positive impression in his first game with the San Jose Sharks, collecting two assists to help his new team defeat the Edmonton Oilers 5-2.
Ryan Hartman made a memorable debut with the Nashville Predators, scoring the winning goal in his club’s 6-5 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. Hartman was acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday. Jets’ trade-deadline acquisition Paul Stastny had a goal and an assist for his new club.
The Boston Bruins scored four unanswered goals to overcome a 3-1 deficit and defeat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 on an overtime goal by Charlie McAvoy. The Bruins were playing without center Patrice Bergeron, who is sidelined at least two weeks with a fractured bone in his right foot.
Evgeny Kuznetsov scored two goals to lead the Washington Capitals to a 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators. With the win, the Capitals (79 points) regained first place in the Metropolitan Division.
An overtime goal by Jared McCann gave the Florida Panthers a 3-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Panthers have won seven of their last 10 and sit five points out of a wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.
Dallas Stars goaltender Ben Bishop made 38 saves as his club blanked the Calgary Flames 2-0. Devin Shore and Tyler Seguin were the goal scorers.
The Los Angeles Kings moved into third in the Pacific Division by beating the Vegas Golden Knights 4-1. Kings netminder Jack Campbell collected his first NHL victory by kicking out 41 shots.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets winger Josh Anderson will be sidelined four weeks with a sprained knee.
SPORTSNET: The Vancouver Canucks are expected to announce today that they’ll be hosting the 2019 NHL Draft.
The Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens hold the most draft picks in the 2018 NHL Draft. The Wings have 11 picks while the Rangers and Canadiens each hold 10. The Rangers also hold the most picks in the first three rounds (seven) while the Wings and Canadiens each have six.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If you’re fans of those teams, that’s at least something positive for fans of those clubs to pin their hopes to over the remainder of an otherwise miserable season.
Kind of big news here: Spencer Martin recalled as Bernier and Hammond both go through concussion protocol.
— AJ Haefele (@AJHaefele) February 27, 2018
Latest on the Columbus Blue Jackets, NY Rangers, Boston Bruins and San Jose Sharks plus updates on Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Andrew Hammond in your NHL rumor mill.
THE ATHLETIC: In the aftermath of the Matt Duchene trade, Pierre LeBrun reports the Columbus Blue Jackets remain in the market for a center. They were very interested in Duchene before he was shipped to the Ottawa Senators and hope to acquire a top-six center before the Feb. 26 trade deadline. LeBrun also reports the banged-up Boston Bruins are eyeing the market for a top-nine forward.
In a recent mailbag segment, LeBrun’s colleague Aaron Portzline lists Montreal’s Alex Galchenyuk and Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as two names floating around the rumor mill who the Jackets could keep an eye on.
Asked about the possible cost of acquiring New York Islanders center John Tavares (assuming they could also re-sign him), Portzline speculates it could be “(Pierre-Luc) Dubois, Gabriel Carlsson, Sonny Milano, Elvis Merzlikins and a first-round pick.” If they can’t re-sign him, “Carlsson, Milano and a first-round pick.”
FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites NHL insider Bob McKenzie telling Toronto’s TSN 1050 the New York Rangers “wanted Duchene badly” but weren’t willing to part with young defenseman Brady Skjei. He also believes the Bruins want to bolster their injury-ravaged roster but hasn’t seen what his team is like when healthy.
THE MERCURY NEWS: Paul Gackle believes the return the Colorado Avalanche received for Duchene indicates just how costly it’ll be for the San Jose Sharks to find a suitable replacement for the departed Patrick Marleau. If the Sharks do pull off a trade for a scoring forward it’ll likely cost them a young defenseman.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With Duchene and Kyle Turris off the block, the pickings are currently slim for teams seeking a scoring forward/center.
Galchenyuk has improved following a slow start and has moved back up the Habs depth chart. I think teams are calling the Habs to look into his availability but I don’t see them parting with him now.
Nugent-Hopkins’ $6 million annual cap hit is difficult to move. If the Oilers are willing to shop him they’ll likely want a scoring right wing back.
As for Tavares, he’s currently unavailable and there’s no certainty the Islanders will move him by the trade deadline.
The Blue Jackets, Rangers, Bruins and Sharks will likely continue to monitor the trade market, but they could be waiting until January before some better options appear.
ARIZONA SPORTS: Craig Morgan reports Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson has resurfaced in the trade rumor mill, but Coyotes GM John Chayka quickly dismissed the speculation. “He’s never once complained to me or talked about greener pastures,” Chayka said, insisting he hasn’t had serious discussions about moving the blueliner.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes’ lousy start to this season explains why Ekman-Larsson is popping up again in media trade chatter. He lacks no-trade protection and is eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2019. I don’t believe he’ll be dealt this season, but I expect his name will be heard more frequently in trade talk in the offseason.
The Coyotes have been mired in mediocrity for the last five seasons. The temptation to join a playoff contender could be strong for Ekman-Larsson as free agency approaches. If the Coyotes do put him on the market they’ll seek a substantial return. They’ll get it, too.
TSN: Goaltender Andrew Hammond’s tenure with the Colorado Avalanche could be short. It’s believed Avs GM Joe Sakic hopes to trade the netminder, who was part of the return they received in the Matt Duchene deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The asking price is likely a draft pick or prospect.
Latest on the New York Rangers, Edmonton Oilers and more in your NHL rumor mill.
SPORTSNET: In his latest “31 Thoughts” column, Elliotte Friedman notes the New York Rangers began restocking their roster this summer and speculates the struggling club will continue that trend. Moving out pending unrestricted free agents such as Rick Nash and Michael Grabner would be the obvious, “simple play, very easy to do.”
He doesn’t see them shopping Pavel Buchnevich, Brady Skjei or Mika Zibanejad, but thinks they could consider testing other options, such as gauging the value of Ryan McDonagh, Mats Zuccarello, Chris Kreider or J.T. Miller. Friedman doesn’t see them moving everybody and suggests it’s possible none of those four could move, but feels they will look.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Much was made of several members of the Rangers’ front office scouting Monday’s Montreal Canadiens-Ottawa Senators game in Ottawa. The speculation suggested they were scouting Habs forwards Alex Galchenyuk and Andrew Shaw.
However, TSN’s Bob McKenzie cautions not to assume a deal is imminent between the two clubs. “Last I heard, and again it’s always subject to change with one phone call, but it wasn’t front-burner, pot-boiling, ready to make a transaction as much as it was two teams that are on really hard times talking to each other about some possibilities.” McKenzie’s colleague Pierre LeBrun also said that trip was more of a ‘file away the game for perhaps something down the road’.
Friedman suggests the Edmonton Oilers could be affected by whatever decisions the Rangers make. He said general manager Peter Chiarelli “has a lot of balls in the air”, as Jussi Jokinen is reportedly available and at least one team has interest in defenseman Matt Benning.
However, the Oilers could be in the same position as the Montreal Canadiens, forced to look to within for improvement. Friedman also suggests 2016 first-round pick Jesse Puljujarvi could be a valuable trade chip if (and that’s a big “if”) management determines he’s not a fit in Edmonton.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see Jokinen or Benning fetching the type of return that immediately improves the Oilers. Packaging one of them with Puljujarvi might do the trick, but is it really worthwhile shipping out a promising young right winger who could address their long-term needs for a quick fix now?
It could be worthwhile keeping an eye on Florida Panthers defenseman Alex Petrovic. He’s had his ice time cut this season and was a healthy scratch three times. He’s a year away from UFA status. Given how difficult blueliners are to find via trade, other clubs will be watching.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The 6’4″, 216-pound Petrovic is considered a physical shutdown blueliner. If he’s not a fit with the Panthers, he will attract some interest in the trade market.
The Winnipeg Jets are getting calls about third-string goaltender Michael Hutchinson. Ottawa Senators third stringer Andrew Hammond could also pop up soon in the rumor mill. He’s has a .929 save percentage with the Sens farm team this season.
Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford wants to ease the workload of defenseman Kris Letang but a healthier roster should address that issue. Rutherford said he’s not feeling any pressure to make trades.
Latest on Joel Ward, Wayne Simmonds, Tyler Toffoli and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
THE MERCURY NEWS: San Jose Sharks winger Joel Ward did not join the social protest sweeping the NFL by kneeling during the national anthem during last night’s game against the Anaheim Ducks. Earlier in the day, he issued a statement via Twitter saying he believed the original meaning of the protest – bringing attention toward racial inequality and police brutality – had been lost.
Ward believes there are other ways to address the issue. “We need to be working on bridging the gap between people of all color, and between law enforcement and minorities. How can we be part of the solution and not part of the problem — or be another distraction from what the real issues are?”
CSNPHILLY.COM: Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds shared Ward’s opinion on the subject.
“All anyone wants to talk about right now is why they’re kneeling,” Simmonds said. “And if you’re disrespecting the Army or the national anthem or whatever it might be. People fail to see what the real issue is, or why Colin Kaepernick actually started this protest, and that he actually talked with an armed force member who was actually on CNN last night discussing all of these issues on a panel as to why he used the national anthem as a vehicle to get this out.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ward and Simmonds are right. Most folks are so obsessed with kneeling during the anthem that it’s overshadowed the original message about racial inequality, preventing a genuine discussion on how to address that issue.
SPORTSNET: The NHL’s Board of Governors recently discussed the playing of national anthems before the start of games. The consensus opinion was the anthems have a place in the overall event of NHL games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, the playing of the American and Canadian anthems before NHL games will continue. Some folks feel the practice should be discontinued but it’s a longstanding tradition in the NHL and one I believe should continue.
LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS: A healthy Tyler Toffoli could provide a significant boost to the Kings’ offense this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toffoli missed 19 games last season to a knee injury and struggled through the final half of the schedule. The decline in his production contributed to the drop in the Kings’ offense in 2016-17.
NJ.COM: New Jersey Devils center Brian Boyle could be in the lineup for the club’s season opener on Oct. 7. Boyle was recently diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia and hasn’t played or practiced during preseason. He’s receiving treatment for the disease and is expected to make a full recovery.
NBC SPORTS: Ottawa Senators goaltender Andrew Hammond and New York Rangers forward Matt Puempel were among the notables on waivers yesterday.
THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators donated a record-setting check for over $442,000 to a local children’s hospital.
NEWSDAY: The New York Islanders have submitted plan to construct a new arena at Belmont Park.
NHL teams must submit their cap-compliant opening night rosters by 5 p.m. ET on Tuesday.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) September 28, 2017