NHL Betting: Andrei Vasilevskiy Sets The Bar High In Vezina Trophy Race
Recaps of Thursday’s action, the league introduces enhanced COVID-19 protocols, two more Flyers are added to the protocol list and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Evgeni Malkin’s game-tying goal late in the third period set the stage for Sidney Crosby’s shootout winner as the Pittsburgh Penguins edged the New York Islanders 4-3. Penguins Bryan Rust had a goal and an assist while teammate Zach Aston-Reese scored in his first game since returning from offseason shoulder surgery.
The Florida Panthers picked up a 5-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning to snap the latter’s six-game winning streak. Alex Wennberg and Aaron Ekblad each tallied a goal and an assist for the Panthers, who were playing without winger Anthony Duclair as he was added to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. The Lightning played without captain Steven Stamkos, who’s day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers have 18 points (8-1-2) and sit one point behind the Lightning in the Central Division.
A four-goal third period rallied the Columbus Blue Jackets from a 4-2 deficit to nip the Chicago Blackhawks 6-5, ending the latter’s three-game win streak. Cam Atkinson scored and collected three assists while Jack Roslovic tallied twice. Blackhawks forwards Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat each had a goal and two assists. The Blackhawks played without Andrew Shaw as he suffered another concussion during Tuesday’s game against the Dallas Stars. They also learned defenseman Connor Murphy will miss 10-14 days with an injured right hip.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Shaw has a history of head injuries. It may be time for him to consider retirement rather than risk further serious injury by continuing his playing career. Roslovic, meanwhile, has four goals and nine points in eight games since being acquired from the Winnipeg Jets and now centers the Jackets’ top line.
The Nashville Predators ended a three-game losing skid by clipping the Detroit Red Wings 3-2. Dante Fabbro netted the game-winner in the final minute of the third period. Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm missed the game with an undisclosed injury and was placed on injured reserve.
Connor Hellebuyck made 41 saves backstopping the Winnipeg Jets over the Ottawa Senators 5-1, handing the latter their fourth straight defeat. The Senators also lost goalie Matt Murray as he left the game after two periods following a collision with teammate Nikita Zaitsev. More information about his condition could be released later today.
Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith made 38 saves for his 40th career shutout to blank the slumping Montreal Canadiens 3-0. Jujhar Khaira, Darnell Nurse and Tyson Barrie were the goal scorers. The start time for the game was pushed back an hour after Oilers winger Jesse Puljujarvi was held out of the game-day skate and placed on the COVID-19 protocol list. The game was allowed to proceed following rapid testing of his teammates.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens have returned to earth after their red-hot start. They’ve dropped three of their last four games and managed just six goals during that period. Opponents have neutralized the Habs’ offense by clogging the neutral zone and outworking them in their own zone. In recent years the Canadiens have started strong only to suffer setbacks during the second quarter of the schedule that leaves them struggling over the remainder of the season. Time will tell if the latest slump is a minor speed bump or the harbinger of yet another collapse.
The Carolina Hurricanes dumped the Dallas Stars 5-3 to hand the latter their four straight loss. Nino Niederreiter broke a 3-3 tie with a breakaway goal early in the third period. Jordan Staal and Sebastian Aho each had a goal and an assist for the Hurricanes. Stars defenseman Andrej Sekera returned to the lineup after spending a week on the COVID-19 protocol list while goalie Anton Khudobin played his first game after being scratched from Sunday’s game for missing Saturday’s practice.
Jacob Markstrom made 33 saves to give the Calgary Flames a 3-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks. Markstrom and teammates Chris Tanev and Josh Leivo were playing their first game in Vancouver since the former Canucks signed with the Flames last fall. Sean Monahan and Mark Giordano each collected two points for the Flames while the spiraling Canucks suffered their sixth straight defeat.
The Los Angeles Kings picked up their first win in six games by thumping the San Jose Sharks 6-2. Drew Doughty collected three assists for the Kings while Tomas Hertl scored both goals for the Sharks. Earlier in the day, the Sharks announced goaltender Devan Dubnyk was listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sharks coach Bob Boughner called out goalie Martin Jones following this game, saying his performance was “not up to our standard.” Jones (5-3-0) has been erratic, playing well in his victories and getting pulled early in each of his defeats this season.
Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson made 21 saves to shut out the Vegas Golden Knights 1-0. Max Comtois tallied the lone goal as Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (27 saves) suffered his first loss of the season. The Golden Knights played without netminder Robin Lehner, who’s listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
SPORTSNET: The NHL is adding game-day rapid testing for players, team personnel and on-ice officials as part of its expanded safety protocols in hope of stemming potential COVID-19 outbreaks.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The number of Flyers on the COVID-19 protocol list rose to five as Jakub Voracek and Morgan Frost were added on Thursday. The club’s next scheduled game is Feb. 18, after which they’re slated to travel to Nevada to face the Boston Bruins in an outdoor game at Lake Tahoe.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL could be forced to find a replacement for the Flyers in that game or postpone that contest and shift it to an indoor venue at a later date.
TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild are cleared to resume team activities today though 12 players remain on the protocol list. They are scheduled to return to action against the Kings on Tuesday.
ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes fired assistant general manager Steve Sullivan, adding they would not be seeking a replacement for him. Sullivan was interim GM after John Chayka left his role with the club last summer.
CBS SPORTS: A lower-body injury will sideline Boston Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk against the New York Rangers tonight.
STLTODAY.COM: Blues defenseman Scott Perunovich will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery today.
NHL.COM: Willie O’Ree’s number retirement ceremony has been rescheduled to Jan. 18, 2022, to allow for in-person attendance. A trailblazer for players of color, O’Ree was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a builder in 2018. He’ll become the 12th player in Bruins history to have his number retired.
Recaps of Thursday’s action, the league revises its COVID-19 protocols as more players are sidelined and more games are postponed, the 2021 Draft could be pushed back, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Alex Ovechkin scored his 709th career goal to move into seventh place on the all-time list but it wasn’t enough to prevent his Washington Capitals from dropping a 4-2 decision to the New York Rangers. Ryan Strome scored twice while goaltender Igor Shesterkin made 31 saves for his third straight victory. Ovechkin passed former Capital and Rangers Mike Gartner on the goal-scoring list.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin is now eight goals behind Phil Esposito (717) who sits sixth on the list.
Third-period goals by Roman Josi and Matt Duchene set the stage for Filip Forsberg’s overtime winner as the Nashville Predators rallied to edge the Florida Panthers 6-5. Forsberg had a five-point night with two goals and three assists while the Panthers’ Jonathan Huberdeau netted a hat trick and collected two assists.
Patrik Laine scored his first goal with the Columbus Blue Jackets as they nipped the Dallas Stars 4-3. Jack Roslovic also tallied his first goal with the Jackets. Both players were recently acquired from the Winnipeg Jets. Earlier in the day, the Blue Jackets placed goalie Elvis Merzlikins on injured reserve with an upper-body injury.
Ottawa Senators rookie Tim Stuetzle had a goal and two assists as his club upset the Montreal Canadiens 3-2. Matt Murray made 36 saves as the Senators snapped a ten-game winless skid.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators were the hungrier team in this contest. The Canadiens were playing their third game in four nights but they may also have been guilty of taking the struggling Senators too lightly.
Jason Spezza tallied his first hat trick since 2016 in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 7-3 victory over the floundering Vancouver Canucks. Auston Matthews scored twice to extend his goal-scoring streak to six games as the Leafs reclaimed first place in the North Division from the Canadiens. Leafs defenseman Travis Dermott left the game with a charley horse injury.
Two third-period goals by Alex DeBrincat lifted the Chicago Blackhawks to a 6-4 win over the Carolina Hurricanes, snapping the latter’s five-game win streak. Patrick Kane scored and added three assists for the Blackhawks while Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechnikov and Dougie Hamilton each had two points for the Hurricanes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks blew a 3-1 lead but didn’t lose their composure and pulled off a big win. They also capitalized on the power play with three of their goals coming with the man advantage.
Antti Raanta kicked out 40 shots as the Arizona Coyotes held on to beat the St. Louis Blues 4-3. Christian Dvorak and Conor Garland each had a goal and an assist for the Coyotes while Mike Hoffman tallied twice for the Blues.
Winnipeg Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck made 23 saves for his franchise-record 153rd career victory backstopping his club over the Calgary Flames 4-1. Mason Appleton tallied twice and Mathieu Perreault had three assists for the Jets. Flames forward Sam Bennett was a healthy scratch, stoking speculation he could be traded soon.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll have more about Bennett in the Rumors section.
TSN: The NHL has revised its COVID-19 protocols as the number of players on the protocol list grew to 40 while four teams have had games postponed in recent days. Glass panels have been removed from behind the team benches to allow for better airflow, players aren’t allowed at the arena until one hour and 45 minutes prior to game time (unless being treated for injuries) and all team meetings must be virtual. Players must also be seated six feet apart in the dressing rooms.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some players aren’t happy about the restriction on their time at the arena and intend to fight it. The league, however, could be unwilling to bend given the sharp rise of late in COVID cases among players and coaches.
WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres head coach Ralph Krueger has tested positive for COVID-19. Meanwhile, Jake McCabe became the fifth Sabre added to the NHL’s protocol list. The Sabres are among the clubs to have their games postponed.
THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche have had their games postponed until Feb. 11 after team captain Gabriel Landeskog was added to the COVID protocol list.
TSN: Darren Dreger reports the NHL is considering pushing back the 2021 Draft to 2022 and perhaps staging back-to-back drafts, one for this year’s class of prospects and the other for the 2022 class. Dreger believes the general managers support this as would the majority of draft-eligible prospects as they’re not playing right now. That decision, however, would have to involve the NHLPA as it is a CBA issue.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s also been talk of perhaps pushing this year’s draft to December. It wouldn’t be surprising if the draft date is changed considering the effect the pandemic is having upon hockey at all levels. The teams can’t scout players who aren’t playing while the players haven’t had an opportunity to develop their skills and improve their draft stock.
TORONTO SUN: Popular Maple Leafs usher Vic Braknis passed away at age 81. He worked in that role for Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment for 29 years. He also spent 17 years in the same role with the Montreal Canadiens and worked for the Toronto Blue Jays during their World Series years.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Braknis’ family, friends and MLSE.
The Lightning beat the Stars to tie the Stanley Cup Final at a game apiece, the latest NHL Award winners are revealed, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning scored three first-period goals and held on to edge the Dallas Stars 3-2 in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, tying the series at a game apiece. Brayden Point, Ondrej Palat and Kevin Shattenkirk tallied for the Lightning, while Joe Pavelski and Mattias Janmark replied for the Stars. Game 3 is Wednesday at 8 pm ET.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars were sloppy and undisciplined in the first period, giving up two power-play goals and getting outshot 14-6. They rallied back with a better effort over the next two periods to make it interesting, but the Lightning got solid goaltending from Andrei Vasilevskiy for the win. The Stars also lost Blake Comeau to injury in the second period. An update on his condition could be released today.
Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl is the winner of the 2020 Hart Memorial Trophy and the 2020 Ted Lindsay Award. Draisaitl was also this season’s winner of the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s leading scorer.
Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi took home the 2020 James Norris Memorial Trophy. He’s the first Predators blueliner to win the Norris.
Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar is the winner of the 2020 Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie. He’s the first Avs player to win that honor since teammate Nathan MacKinnon in 2013-14.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to all of this year’s winners.
The NHL also revealed its 2019-20 First and Second All-Star Teams.
2019-20 NHL First All-Star Team
G: Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets
D: John Carlson, Washington Capitals
D: Roman Josi, Nashville Predators
C: Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers
RW: David Pastrnak, Boston Bruins
LW: Artemi Panarin, New York Rangers
2019-20 NHL Second All-Star Team
G: Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins
D: Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning
D: Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues
C: Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche
RW: Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning
LW: Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins
The 2019-20 All-Rookie Team was also revealed:
G: Elvis Merzlikins, CBJ
D: Quinn Hughes, VAN
D: Cale Makar, COL
F: Dominik Kubalik, CHI
F: Victor Olofsson, BUF
F: Nick Suzuki, MTL
CBC SPORTS: Former NHL right wing Bob Nevin passed away at age 82. In 1,182 career games, Nevin scored 307 goals and 726 points from 1958-59 through 1975-76 with the Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, Minnesota North Stars and Los Angeles Kings. He won two Stanley Cups with the Leafs in 1962 and 1963, and served as captain of the Rangers from 1965 to 1971.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Nevin’s family, friends and former teammates.
NHL statement on COVID-19 testing results: pic.twitter.com/9MB2VdwmBO
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) September 21, 2020