NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 5, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 5, 2021

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.

GAME RECAPS

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.

Nashville Predators winger Filip Forsberg (NHL Images).

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.

HEADLINES

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.










Some Early Odds for the NHL’s Vezina Trophy

Some Early Odds for the NHL’s Vezina Trophy

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 22, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 22, 2020

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 center Leon Draisaitl wins the Hart Trophy and the Ted Lindsay Award (NHL Images)

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.

Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck is the 2020 winner of the Vezina Trophy. He’s the first Jet to win a major award since Teemu Selanne won the Calder Memorial Trophy in 1993.

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 Morning Coffee Headlines – July 30, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 30, 2020

Recaps of the second day of exhibition games, an update on John Chayka’s departure from the Coyotes, the Blackhawks announce initiatives to honor Native American culture, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

EXHIBITION GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The line of Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov, and Ondrej Palat combined for 10 points as the Tampa Bay Lightning blanked the Florida Panthers 5-0. Point led the way with two goals and two assists. Andrei Vasilevskiy picked up the shutout with a 26-save performance.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky gave up five goals on 34 shots, but he was hung out to dry by his teammates. The Panthers must improve their defensive play before they face off against the New York Islanders in their qualifying round series.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin tallied twice and set up another to lead his club over the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2. Capitals defenseman John Carlson left the game in the final 10 minutes as a precautionary measure after crashing awkwardly into the boards. An update on his condition is expected today. Hurricanes goalie Petr Mrazek gave up three goals on 16 shots before being replaced by James Reimer.

Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck kicked out 37 shots in a 4-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Jets captain Blake Wheeler had a goal and an assist. Teammate Nikolaj Ehlers also scored, but left the game in the third period with an apparent lower-body injury. No word yet as to his status.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Looks like the long layoff had little effect on Hellebuyck’s performance. The Vezina Trophy finalist was on top of his game against the Canucks. Ehlers may have aggravated an ailment that nagged him throughout training camp.

Dominik Kubalik scored twice and added an assist as the Chicago Blackhawks blanked the St. Louis Blues 4-0. Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford made 11 saves through two periods.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crawford looked sharp in this contest after missing most of the Blackhawks’ training camp when he tested positive for COVID-19. His performance against the Blues is a good sign as he and his teammates face the Edmonton Oilers in the qualifying round.

Colorado Avalanche forwards Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, and Joonas Donskoi were the goal scorers as their club edged the Minnesota Wild 3-2. Wild center Eric Staal had a goal and an assist. The Avs killed off seven of eight penalties.

Semyon Varlamov and Thomas Greiss combined for 26 saves as the New York Islanders held off the New York Rangers 2-1. Anthony Beauvillier and Devon Toews scored for the Isles. Rangers defenseman Marc Staal left the game in the second period for precautionary reasons and isn’t expected to miss their qualifying series against the Hurricanes.

HEADLINES

NEW YORK POST: Howie Kussoy cites multiple reports claiming former Arizona Coyotes general manager John Chayka’s relationship with the club’s ownership was irrevocably damaged when he lied about having a job interview with the New Jersey Devils, who then were uninterested in hiring him. Chayka resigned from the Coyotes last weekend as the club was preparing to head to Edmonton for Phase 4 of the return-to-play plan.

An NHL team approached Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo about a month ago seeking permission to speak to Chayka, which Meruelo rejected. Chayka then reportedly lied to Meruelo about the Devils’ interest, only to subsequently request his contract be terminated so he could pursue an opportunity within the Devils ownership’s sports portfolio.

Meruelo felt betrayed but wanted to wait until the season ended to discuss this with Chayka, but the latter felt that was unreasonable. The situation quickly deteriorated, culminating in Chayka’s departure from the team.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This has degenerated into a messy they-said/he said situation with each side blaming the other. If Chayka lied about the Devils interview, it could damage his reputation and his efforts to find employment elsewhere in the NHL.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks are taking steps designed to honor Native American culture. They’ve banned headdresses at their games and intend to incorporate Native American culture and education into their arena and the games there. The club has resisted calls to change its nickname and logo after the NFL’s Washington Redskins announced they were moving on from their nickname.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Bruins re-signed forward Anders Bjork to a three-year, $4.8-million contract extension. The annual average value is $1.6 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Bruins now have over $65.1 million invested in 19 players for 2020-21. Torey Krug, Jake DeBrusk, Matt Grzelcyk, and team captain Zdeno Chara are among the notables still to be re-signed.

TSN: Former Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock has taken on a volunteer advisory role with the Vermont Catamounts coaching staff.

LA PRESSE: Montreal Canadiens winger Dale Weise denied a report out of Switzerland claiming he signed a contract with Swiss club HC Lausanne.










2020 NHL Awards – Vezina, Lady Byng and Masterton Finalists

2020 NHL Awards – Vezina, Lady Byng and Masterton Finalists

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 18, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 18, 2020

Vezina Trophy finalists announced, Caleb Jones admits testing positive for COVID-19, plus updates on David Pastrnak, Marc-Andre Fleury, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines

2020 NHL AWARDS UPDATE

NHL.COM: The Winnipeg Jets’ Connor Hellebuyck, Boston Bruins’ Tuukka Rask, and Tampa Bay Lightning’s Andrei Vasilevskiy are the finalist for the 2020 Vezina Trophy, awarded to the top goaltender as voted by NHL general managers.

Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck is among the finalists for the 2020 Vezina Trophy (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rask (2014) and Vasilevskiy (2019) won the Vezina before, while this is Hellebuyck’s second time as a finalist. Rask has the better stats of the three, but Hellebucyk led the league in shutouts (6) while carrying the Jets and their depth-depleted defense into the 2020 playoffs. That could be the determining factor in his favor.

LATEST TRAINING CAMP HEADLINES

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: David Pastrnak’s agent said his client is in quarantine after coming in contact with an individual who tested positive for COVID-19. The Bruins winger tested negative for the coronavirus. That explains why he was held out of practice Thursday.

Pastrnak and teammate Ondrej Kase were following travel quarantine protocols after recently returning from the Czech Republic to attend training camp. The reason for Kase’s absence remains unknown.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers defenseman Caleb Jones admitted he tested positive for COVID-19 several weeks ago when he returned to Edmonton from his off-season home in Dallas. He had no symptoms and self-quarantined for two weeks. He’s fine now and skating in Oilers’ practices.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jones is the second player known to have had the virus but the first to voluntarily admit it. Last month, the Toronto Sun reported Maple Leafs center Austin Matthews tested positive for COVID-19 over a month ago. He acknowledged it earlier this week.

The NHL is preventing teams from revealing the health status of its players during the return-to-play plan. Absent players are being listed as “unfit to play” or “unfit to participate” with no explanation.

Speaking of the Oilers, they and the mayor of Edmonton issued statements yesterday insisting the storm damage caused to part of Rogers Place arena on Thursday won’t derail plans to host Western Conference teams in the upcoming playoff tournament.

NHL.COM: Marc-Andre Fleury participated in training camp on Friday with his Vegas Golden Knights teammates for the first time this week. The club claims Fleury missed the opening days for “maintenance”, while head coach Peter DeBoer said the goaltender’s absence was not related to COVID-19.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Defensemen Olli Maatta and Connor Murphy joined Corey Crawford on the list of Blackhawks players deemed “unfit to play”. Blueliner Calvin de Haan missed his third straight practice dealing with a family emergency.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning forward Cedric Paquette was listed as “unable to practice” on Friday. He was banged-up during practice on Wednesday.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Noah Juulsen is battling for a spot on the Canadiens roster after being sidelined since Nov. 19, 2018, with migraines related to head trauma. The 23-year-old defenseman got in some games with the Habs’ AHL farm team in Laval before the schedule was interrupted in March and claims he’s felt great since then.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: For a while, there was concern Juulsen’s promising career could be over before it began. If he’s healthy he could be a valuable addition to the Canadiens blueline.

IN OTHER NEWS…

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson declined to confirm a report by TSN’s Darren Dreger claiming interim coach Bob Boughner signed a contract extension to become their permanent head coach. Dreger also cited a report claiming former AHL coach Rocky Thompson would join the Sharks staff as an assistant coach. Wilson said there’s been no decision yet on the coaching staff.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maybe Wilson doesn’t like it when a reporter spoils his big reveal.

THE DENVER POST: Some promising news to report on former NHLer Kyle Quincey’s young son Axl. The 1-year-old appears on the road to recovery following his second brain surgery on June 9 to remove a tumor.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Axl and his family. Here’s hoping he makes a full recovery.