NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 24, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 24, 2024

Recaps of Friday’s game, concern over the declining attendance at Jets games, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: An overtime goal by Kyle Connor gave the Winnipeg Jets a 3-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. The Jets took the lead on two goals by Nikolaj Ehlers but the Blackhawks forced the extra frame on goals by Colin Blackwell and Tyler Johnson. Josh Morrissey collected three assists while Connor Hellebucyk made 33 saves for the 35-15-5 Jets, who sit second in the Central Division with 75 points. Petr Mrazek stopped 28 shots for the 15-39-4 Blackhawks.

Winnipeg Jets winger Kyle Connor (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Winnipeg and the Colorado Avalanche have the same amount of points but the Jets have three games in hand.

The Minnesota Wild doubled up the Edmonton Oilers 4-2. Matt Boldy scored twice while Filip Gustavsson kicked out 41 shots (including 23 in the third period) as the Wild improved to 27-24-6 (60 points) to sit two points behind the St. Louis Blues for the final Western Conference wild-card berth. Oilers captain Connor McDavid picked up two assists to extend his home points streak to 21 games. With a record of 33-19-2, the Oilers sit third in the Pacific Division with 68 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild played without defenseman Zach Bogosian as he’s out for at least a week with an upper-body injury.

Buffalo Sabres defenseman Connor Clifton’s first goal of the season was the game-winner in a 2-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Zemgus Girgensons also scored while Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen stopped 25 shots for the 26-27-4 Sabres. Daniil Tarasov made 35 saves while Dmitri Voronkov tallied for the 18-28-10 Blue Jackets.


THE ATHLETIC: Winnipeg Jets owner Mark Chipman sounded the alarm over his club’s declining attendance, pointing out their season-ticket base is under 9,500 after being at 13,000 three years ago.

Chipman stressed the urgency of returning to 13,000. “This place we find ourselves in right now, it’s not going to work over the long haul. It just isn’t.”

The club’s average attendance this season is 13,306. That’s 87.4 percent capacity of the 15,225-season Canada Life Centre. That’s the third-lowest in the league this season, with just four sellouts thus far.

Chipman said the Jets are trying to win back its fans. He admitted that their “Forever Winnipeg” market campaign last year upset people by raising concerns over the club’s future. “Because of the history, it’s a bit of a tinderbox,” he said, referring to the relocation of the original Jets to Arizona in 1996.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The situation has become so serious that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is traveling to Winnipeg next week to stump for more corporate support for the Jets.

Chipman’s remarks have some observers concerned for the Jets’ future in Winnipeg while others remain steadfast that this city won’t lose its club a second time. Meanwhile, The Athletic’s Murat Ates believes the franchise not only needs to do a better job attracting corporate support but also that of individual fans who’ve felt the club has taken their goodwill for granted.

I raised concerns about these issues and more facing the Jets back when they relocated to Winnipeg from Atlanta in 2011. I’ve reposted that article in the Soapbox section as I believe most of the points I brought up remain valid today.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Speaking of the original Jets, the president and CEO of the Arizona Coyotes insists the team will not be sold. As the club continues to seek a new location in the Phoenix area for a new arena, Xavier Gutierrez said team owner Alex Meruelo has no plans to sell the team.

We are committed to being here, and every action we have taken has shown that”, said Gutierrez.

ARIZONA SPORTS: While on the topic of the Coyotes, they placed forward Adam Ruzicka on unconditional waivers on Friday for the purpose of terminating his contract. This move arose after Ruzicka posted a video to Instagram showing a white substance that appeared to be cocaine on a plate beside a credit card. He also showed off a vial of the substance.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping Ruzicka makes use of the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program to get the help that he needs.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: On Thursday, the Blue Jackets traded Emil Bemstrom to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for minor-league forward Alex Nylander and a conditional sixth-round pick in the 2026 NHL Draft.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: The Washington Capitals placed center Nic Dowd on injured reserve and called up forward Hendrix Lapierre.

Meanwhile, the New Jersey Devils placed forward Nathan Bastian on injured reserve.

CBS SPORTS: Vegas Golden Knights center Brett Howden (upper body) is also on IR.

TSN: Former NHL defenseman Jean-Guy Talbot passed away at age 91. He spent 17 seasons in the league with the Montreal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings, St. Louis Blues, Minnesota North Stars and Buffalo Sabres from 1954-55 to 1970-71.

Talbot spent 13 seasons with the Canadiens, winning seven Stanley Cups, including five in a row from 1955-56 to 1959-60. He had 43 goals and 285 points in 1,056 career regular-season games and 30 points in 150 playoff contests.

Talbot also served as a head coach with the Blues from 1972 to 1974 and with the New York Rangers in 1977-78.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Talbot’s family, friends and former teammates.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 12, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 12, 2023

Milestone performances for Toronto’s Auston Matthews and Chicago’s Connor Bedard while the Sabres sign Owen Power and the Devils ink Lindy Ruff to contract extensions. Get the details on these and other stories in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews collected a hat trick, including his 300th career goal, in a 6-5 season-opening win over the Montreal Canadiens. Mitch Marner netted the winner in a shootout after the Leafs overcame a 5-3 deficit in the third period while John Tavares had three assists. Alex Newhook scored twice in his first game with the Canadiens after being acquired from the Colorado Avalanche in the offseason.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was sloppy defense and goaltending by both clubs in this game. However, it proved more costly to the Canadiens as they also blew an early 2-0 lead.

Speaking of the Canadiens, Cap Friendly indicates they demoted winger Joel Armia to their AHL affiliate in Laval and recalled defenseman Arber Xhekaj, who collected an assist and got the better of Leafs enforcer Ryan Reaves during their first-period tussle.

Chicago Blackhawks rookie Connor Bedard tallied his first-ever NHL goal but his club fell 3-1 to the Boston Bruins. David Pastrnak scored the tying and winning goals for the Bruins while Linus Ullmark stopped 20 shots for the win.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blackhawks winger Taylor Hall suffered an upper-body injury following a hit by Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo. He’s listed as week-to-week.

The Vancouver Canucks crushed the Edmonton Oilers 8-1. Brock Boeser scored four goals while Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller each had a goal and three assists. Leon Draisaitl netted the sole Oilers goal while goalies Jack Campbell and Stuart Skinner each gave up four goals.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers are predicted to be a Stanley Cup contender this season but they were outperformed by the Canucks in every aspect of this contest. They’re obviously better than this and should use this game as motivation for a better effort in their next contest. Meanwhile, the Canucks couldn’t have asked for a better season-opening performance, especially Boeser given his struggles last season.

Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen scored twice and collected two assists in a 5-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and two assists while Alexandar Georgiev stopped 34 shots for the win. Carl Grundstrom and Quinton Byfield replied for the Kings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I only saw the highlights of this contest but Rantanen and MacKinnon were dominating for the Avalanche. Cale Makar also picked up two points in this game for Colorado. Before this match, the Kings announced that winger Viktor Arvidsson would miss at least two games with a lower-body injury.

The Calgary Flames got a 34-save performance from Jacob Markstrom and two late goals by Elias Lindholm and Andrew Mangiapane to upset the Winnipeg Jets 5-3. Lindholm and Mangiapane each finished with three points for the Flames. Kyle Connor, Alex Iafallo and Mark Scheifele replied for the Jets, who outshot the Flames 37-22.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets deserved a better fate as they were the better team in this game. However, the Flames got outstanding goaltending and clutch scoring to take this one.

Carolina Hurricanes defensemen Brady Skjei and Jaccob Slavin scored in the third period to lift their club to a 5-3 win over the Ottawa Senators. Skjei and Jordan Staal each had a goal and an assist while Frederik Andersen made 27 saves. Joonas Korpisalo stopped 37 shots for the Senators.


THE BUFFALO NEWS: On the eve of their season opener, the Sabres signed defenseman Owen Power to a seven-year, $58.45 million contract extension effective next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nobody should be surprised by this move. The Sabres indicated they were working on re-signing Power after getting Rasmus Dahlin under contract on Sept. 22 for an eight-year, $88-million contract.

Power, 20, is in the final season of his entry-level contract. His salary will jump from an average of just over $916K to $8.35 million per season. Chosen first overall in the 2021 NHL draft, he was a finalist for the Calder Trophy last season.

The Sabres now have their two top defensemen under contract covering them through most of their playing prime. The duo will be crucial factors in this club’s hopes to become a Stanley Cup contender over the next seven years.

NEW JERSEY HOCKEY NOW: The Devils yesterday announced they reached an agreement with head coach Lindy Ruff on a multi-year contract extension that begins in 2024-25. Ruff is currently in the final season of a four-year deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The report didn’t indicate for how many years but wouldn’t surprise me if it’s another three-year contract with a one-year extension option.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: More bad news for San Jose Sharks captain Logan Couture as he suffered a setback in his recovery from a lower-body injury that will keep him out of his club’s opening games of the season. Sharks coach David Quinn said Couture will undergo more tests and evaluation.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Flyers forward Scott Laughton intends to take a stand against the NHL banning the use of Pride Tape during theme celebrations this season. “You’ll probably see me with the Pride Tape on that night,” said Laughton. “It’s not going to affect the way I go about it. If they want to say something, they can, but it’s not going to make a difference in what I do every night for the Pride community.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league should leave it up to the players if they’ll participate in on-ice support by wearing themed jerseys or using special tape on their sticks during warmups on Pride Night. It’ll be interesting to see if other players around the league follow Laughton’s lead.

NHL.COM: Vegas Golden Knights forward Brett Howden received a two-game suspension for an illegal hit to the head of Seattle Kraken forward Brandon Tanev on Tuesday.

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Speaking of the Golden Knights, forward William Carrier could be sidelined with an upper-body injury after leaving Tuesday’s season opener.

TSN: The Columbus Blue Jackets signed forward Justin Danforth to a one-year, $1.1 million contract extension through 2024-25.

NHL.COM: Speaking of the Blue Jackets, they named Josef Boumedienne as assistant coach and signed assistant coaches Jared Boll and Steve McCarthy to one-year contract extensions.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues’ current roster retool hasn’t adversely affected them at the gate. Team owner Tom Stillman said the club remains on par in season ticket sales where they’ve been when the club’s come off a playoff run.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s because they’ve got a solid fan base in St. Louis that has supported this franchise for years.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 11, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 11, 2023

The 2023-24 season began with Blackhawks rookie Connor Bedard making his big-league debut, the Golden Knights raising their Stanley Cup banner, plus the latest notable news in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: Chicago Blackhawks rookie Connor Bedard collected an assist in his first-ever NHL game as his club overcame a 2-0 deficit to double up the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2. Corey Perry, Nick Foligno and Jason Dickinson each collected two points for the Blackhawks while Sidney Crosby and Bryan Rust scored for the Penguins.

Chicago Blackhawks center Connor Bedard (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The first-overall pick in the 2023 NHL Draft, Bedard picked up that secondary assist on Ryan Donato’s goal that opened the scoring for the Blackhawks. The 18-year-old center acquitted himself well in his first NHL contest, seeing over 21 minutes of ice time and generating five shots on net. He’ll have to work on his faceoff skills as he won only 15 percent of his draws.

The Vegas Golden Knights raised their 2022-23 Stanley Cup banner in a pregame ceremony before winning their home opener by downing the Seattle Kraken 4-1. Adin Hill made 32 saves while Mark Stone and Chandler Stephenson each had two points for the Golden Knights. Jared McCann replied for the Kraken.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Golden Knights forward Brett Howden received a five-minute major and a match penalty for an illegal hit to the head of Kraken forward Brandon Tanev, who didn’t return to the game. An update on Tanev’s condition is expected on Wednesday.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov opened the scoring for the 2023-24 season in a 5-3 victory over the Nashville Predators. Kucherov and teammate Nick Paul each tallied twice while Brayden Point collected three assists for the Lightning. Ryan O’Reilly and Filip Forsberg each had two points for the Predators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lightning winger Tyler Motte left the game with an injured hand. An update on his status is expected on Wednesday.


THE MERCURY NEWS: San Jose Sharks captain Logan Couture will miss his club’s season opener on Thursday against the Golden Knights. He remains sidelined indefinitely with a lower-body injury.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Carolina Hurricanes winger Andrei Svechnikov will miss his club’s season opener as he continues to rehab from reconstructive surgery on his right ACL back in March. Head coach Rob Brind’Amour claims Svechnikov is close to returning to action but the club doesn’t want to rush him.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Panthers placed defenseman Aaron Ekblad on long-term injury reserve on Tuesday. Ekblad continues to recover from offseason shoulder surgery. He and sidelined blueliner Brandon Montour hope to return to action in December though one could return sooner than the other.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers still have Montour on injured reserve, suggesting he could return before Ekblad.

STARTRIBUNE.COM: The Minnesota Wild named winger Kirill Kaprizov as an alternate captain. He joined captain Jared Spurgeon and fellow alternate Marcus Foligno among the Wild’s leadership group.


THE DENVER POST/CAROLINA HOCKEY NOW: The Caroline Hurricanes traded defenseman Caleb Jones to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for minor-league forward Callahan Burke.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The move shores up the Avalanche’s blueline depth. Jones became the odd man out on the Hurricanes as they opted to go with seven defensemen this season.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER/NYI HOCKEY NOW: The Anaheim Ducks claimed forward Ross Johnston off waivers from the New York Islanders.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnston wasn’t seeing much playing time with the Islanders. He’ll get that with the rebuilding Ducks as they look to add more muscle to their roster.

TSN: The Toronto Maple Leafs signed Noah Gregor to a one-year contract worth $775K. He’d been with the Leafs during training camp and preseason on a professional tryout offer.

CBS SPORTS: Speaking of PTOs, Max Comtois was released from his by the Golden Knights.

DAILY FACEOFF: Los Angeles Kings goaltender David Rittich, Tampa Bay Lightning forward Alex Barre-Boulet and Toronto Maple Leafs winger Bobby McMann were placed on waivers yesterday.

NHL.COM: Former NHL player and coach Barry Melrose is retiring as an ESPN analyst after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Melrose and his family.

DAILY FACEOFF: Scotiabank Arena will undergo major renovations totaling $350 million following the upcoming Maple Leafs and Raptors seasons. Formerly known as the Air Canada Centre, it opened in February 1999.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 20, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 20, 2023

Nicklas Backstrom talks about his recovery from hip resurfacing, the Leafs’ Ilya Samsonov and the Blackhawks’ Philipp Kurashev face arbitration, the latest notable contract signings and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom is looking forward to playing a full season after his recovery from his hip resurfacing procedure last year.

Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom (NHL Images).

Backstrom, 34, indicated that he’d been dealing with chronic hip pain since 2015 which eventually worsened, affecting his play and quality of life away from the arena. Since the procedure, he said that he’s gotten his life back and is confident he’ll be even stronger for the Capitals in the coming season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Backstrom missed the first half of last season recovering from the procedure, finishing with 21 points in 39 games. At the end of last season, Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan expressed uncertainty over whether he could fully regain his form.

Backstrom’s performance will likely be the main focus when Washington’s training camp opens in September. Improvement in his play will be a significant factor in the outcome of the Capitals’ 2023-24 season.

TSN: The Toronto Maple Leafs and goaltender Ilya Samsonov are $2.5 million apart in their salary arbitration filings. Samsonov seeks a one-year contract worth $4.9 million while the Leafs countered with $2.4 million. The two sides have until Friday to reach an agreement on a new contract before the scheduled arbitration hearing.

THE ATHLETIC: The Chicago Blackhawks and forward Philipp Kurashev have yet to reach an agreement on a new contract with an arbitration hearing slated for Thursday. It appears that this will go before an arbitrator. Kurashev seeks a one-year, $2.65 million deal while the Blackhawks seek a two-year contract with an average annual value of $1.4 million.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets and Gabriel Vilardi have avoided arbitration as the two sides agreed to a two-year contract with an AAV of $3.437 million.

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: The Golden Knights avoided arbitration with forward Brett Howden, signing him to a two-year contract with an AAV of $1.9 million.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: The New Jersey Devils signed former Boston Bruins forward Tomas Nosek to a one-year, one-way contract worth $1 million.

SEATTLE HOCKEY INSIDER: The Kraken signed head coach Dave Hakstol to a two-year contract extension through 2025-26.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kraken’s performance this season landed Hakstol that extension. They reached the playoffs in just their second season of existence. He was a finalist in 2022-23 for the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year.

ESPN.COM: New NHL Players Association executive director Marty Walsh is focused on getting NHL players involved in the 2026 Milano Cortina Olympic Winter Games in Italy. He indicated that he’s been working with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, collectively together with the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL last participated in the Winter Olympics in 2014.

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Former NHL defenseman Markus Nutivaara said he doesn’t miss playing hockey after a hip injury prematurely ended his playing career. The 29-year-old announced his retirement two weeks ago.

Nutivaara began to feel the effects of the injury in 2019-20. He said that when his hip failed to improve, his back started to fail and other problems flared up. “I skated on one leg for three years,” he said. He indicated that he underwent two operations to address osteoarthritis in his hip until the doctors informed him they could do no more.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: During the interview, Nutivaara said his hip is still pretty bad. He took the time to praise the San Jose Sharks for their support, singling out his Finnish teammates as well as Sharks icon Joe Thornton.

Nutivaara also warned young players off taking painkillers. He said that he took them often during the 2019-20 season, indicating that he felt stomach pain doing so. He said it wasn’t worthwhile to continue his playing career if he needed painkillers to do it.

TSN: Nate Thompson has announced his retirement following his 15-season NHL career. He last played in 2021-22 with the Philadelphia Flyers. The 38-year-old forward scored 65 goals and collected 99 assists over 844 career games with the Boston Bruins, New York Islanders, Tampa Bay Lightning, Anaheim Ducks, Ottawa Senators, Los Angeles Kings, Montreal Canadiens, Winnipeg Jets and Flyers.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 27, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 27, 2022

The Flames and Oilers combine for 14 goals, Marc-Andre Fleury gets the win in his debut with the Wild, Jonathan Huberdeau sets a Panthers record and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Johnny Gaudreau collected five assists as his Calgary Flames downed the Edmonton Oilers 9-5. Matthew Tkachuk scored twice and added two assists while Elias Lindholm and Mikael Backlund each tallied two goals. Leon Draisaitl had a hat trick and an assist and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins netted four points for Edmonton. With 88 points, the Flames hold a seven-point lead over the Los Angeles Kings for first place in the Pacific Division while the Oilers cling to third place with 77 points.

Calgary Flames left wing Johnny Gaudreau (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin collected two assists as he became the fifth-youngest defenseman in NHL history to play 500 games.

Speaking of the Kings, they doubled up the Seattle Kraken 4-2. Cal Petersen made 23 saves for the win, Adrian Kempe picked up two assists and Jordan Spence scored his first NHL goal, becoming the first Australian-born player to do so.

Marc-Andre Fleury kicked out 23 shots in his Minnesota Wild debut as he backstopped them to a 3-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Jared Spurgeon scored in overtime after Kirill Kaprizov tied the game with his second of the night and 35th of the season. The Wild sit in second place in the Central Division with 82 points.

Jonathan Huberdeau collected an assist in his franchise-record 655th career game with the Florida Panthers in a 4-3 shootout win over the Ottawa Senators. Aleksander Barkov scored the winner and also tallied the game-tying goal. Claude Giroux collected two assists for the second straight game with the Panthers. Anton Forsberg had 46 saves in a losing cause for the Senators. The Panthers sit atop the Eastern Conference standings with 94 points.

Carolina Hurricanes forwards Andrei Svechnikov and Seth Jarvis each tallied twice in a 7-2 romp over the St. Louis Blues, handing the latter their fifth loss in their last six games. Pavel Buchnevich netted both goals for the Blues. The win leaves the Hurricanes one point behind the Panthers while the Blues (79 points) are three behind the Wild for third place in the Central Division.

The Boston Bruins picked up their fourth straight win with a 6-3 victory over the New York Islanders. Brad Marchand and Taylor Hall each had a goal and two assists for the Bruins, who sit in second place in the Atlantic Division with 87 points. Islanders center Brock Nelson reached the 30-goal plateau for the first time.

An overtime goal by Brayden Point lifted the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 2-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Steven Stamkos scored the tying goal late in the third period as Tampa Bay sits one point behind the Bruins in third place in the Atlantic. Before the game, the Lightning announced defenseman Ryan McDonagh is out indefinitely with an upper-body injury.

A 49-save performance by Jake Allen carried the Montreal Canadiens over the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2. Nick Suzuki, Paul Byron and David Savard each had two points for the Canadiens while Auston Matthews potted his 47th goal of the season for the Leafs, who sit one point behind the Lightning in the first Eastern Conference wild-card berth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Earlier in the day, the Canadiens revealed Jeff Petry (lower body) and Jonathan Drouin (wrist) are sidelined indefinitely while assistant coach Luke Richardson entered COVID protocol.

The Washington Capitals got three third-period goals to hold off the New Jersey Devils 4-3. Alex Ovechkin scored his 42nd of the season while Nicklas Backstrom had a goal and an assist on the night he was honored by his club for reaching 1,000 career points. Washington sits one point back of the Leafs in the final Eastern wild-card spot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Capitals fans littered the ice with small rubber apples commemorating Backstrom’s 1,000 points in appreciation of his third-period goal.

Evgenii Dadonov was the Vegas Golden Knights’ hero for the second straight game in their 5-4 defeat of the Chicago Blackhawks. Coming off a three-point performance in a win over the Nashville Predators, Dadonov scored the overtime goal in this contest as the Golden Knights cling to the final Western Conference wild-card berth with 76 points. Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat each had two points for the Blackhawks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vegas defenseman Alec Martinez returned to action for the first time since suffering facial injuries on Nov. 11 against the Wild. Golden Knights center Brett Howden didn’t suffer serious injuries after being stretchered out of Thursday’s game against the Predators but will be sidelined indefinitely.

The Vancouver Canucks kept their playoff hopes alive by dropping the Dallas Stars 4-1. Elias Pettersson scored two goals and Thatcher Demko made 35 saves for the win. Vancouver sits three points behind Vegas with 73 points while the Stars remain one back of the Golden Knights. Canuck winger Matt Highmore missed this game as he remains sidelined with an upper-body injury.

San Jose Sharks winger Timo Meier picked up a hat trick in a 4-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks, handing the latter their ninth straight loss.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 25, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 25, 2022

Claude Giroux collects points in his Panthers debut, David Pastrnak tallies his 12th career hat trick, general managers to discuss closing the “LTIR playoff loophole” and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


NHL.COM: Claude Giroux had two assists in his debut with the Florida Panthers as they held off the Montreal Canadiens 4-3. Former Montreal defenseman Ben Chiarot picked up an assist in his first game against his former team. Canadiens blueliner Jeff Petry left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury. The Panthers (92 points) move one point ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes for first place in the Eastern Conference standings.

Speaking of the Hurricanes, they dropped a 4-3 decision to the Dallas Stars on a shootout goal by Tyler Seguin. Scott Wedgewood picked up the win with a 44-save performance while Roope Hintz scored twice in regulation. Nino Niederreiter netted two goals for the Hurricanes. The Stars (74 points) remain one point ahead of the Vegas Golden Knights for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak (NHL Images).

Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak tallied his 12th career hat trick in a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Erik Haula collected three assists and Hampus Lindholm collected an assist in his first game with Boston. The Bruins (85 points) move into third place in the Atlantic Division, knocking the Lighting into the first Eastern Conference wild-card berth. They’re also tied with the Leafs but the latter holds second place in the Division with a game in hand.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh left the game after blocking a shot in the third period.

The Vegas Golden Knights got a goal and two assists from Evgenii Dadonov to thump the Nashville Predators 6-1 to avoid falling further behind the Dallas Stars for the final Western wild-card spot. It was Dadonov’s first game since his trade to the Anaheim Ducks was overturned by the league. The Predators, meanwhile, are three points up on the Stars in the first wild-card spot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Golden Knights center Brett Howden was stretchered from the game following a hit by Predators winger Filip Forsberg. He was reportedly conscious, in stable condition with full movement of his limbs and sent to a hospital for further tests.

Earlier in the day, the Predators announced defenseman Mark Borowiecki is listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury.

Leon Draisaitl scored twice and Connor McDavid added two assists to lead the Edmonton Oilers to a 5-2 win over the San Jose Sharks. McDavid sits atop the scoring race with 95 points, five ahead of Draisaitl. With 77 points, the Oilers are two points behind the second-place Los Angeles Kings in the Pacific Division. Sharks captain Logan Couture left the game with an upper-body injury.

The Kings, meanwhile, picked up a point in a 4-3 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. Alex DeBrincat had a goal and an assist in regulation and potted the winning goal in the shootout while Colin Delia made 43 saves for the win. Phillip Danault scored twice for the Kings.

An overtime goal by Joel Eriksson Ek lifted the Minnesota Wild over the Vancouver Canucks 3-2. Kirill Kaprizov had a goal and an assist and Cam Talbot kicked out 26 shots as the Wild (80 points) sit one point ahead of the St. Louis Blues in second place in the Central Division. With 71 points, the Canucks are four points out of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

The Blues, while, fell 5-2 to the Philadelphia Flyers. Travis Konecny scored two goals and Martin Jones made 26 saves for the win. Earlier in the day, the Blues announced Tyler Bozak (lower-body) was moved to injured reserve.

A four-goal third period by the Ottawa Senators carried them to a 5-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets, leaving the latter five points out of the final Western wild-card spot. Brady Tkachuk scored twice and Tim Stutzle collected two assists for the Senators. Jets winger Kyle Connor netted his 40th goal of the season.

The New York Islanders picked up their fourth win in their last five games by downing the Detroit Red Wings 5-2. Brock Nelson scored twice and Anders Lee had three assists.


DAILY FACEOFF: Closing the LTIR playoff loophole in the salary cap will be among the items up for discussion in next week’s meetings of NHL general managers. Some general managers aren’t happy that some teams exceed the salary cap in the regular season with players on long-term injury reserve only to see those players return to the lineup for the playoffs when the salary cap no longer counts.

One proposed solution is to have 20 players iced by a team in a playoff game to count against the salary cap. Any attempted changes to the salary cap or to roster requirements, however, would constitute a material change of the collective bargaining agreement and would have to be negotiated with the NHL Players Association.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some would consider this the “Nikita Kucherov rule”, which arose because the Tampa Bay Lightning winger returned to action at the start of the 2021 playoffs after spending last season on LTIR recovering from offseason hip surgery. That allowed the Lightning the salary-cap flexibility to exceed the cap by the equivalent of Kucherov’s $9.5 million annual cap hit and add players before the trade deadline.

This loophole has existed since the implementation of the salary cap in 2005 and was used before, specifically by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2015 when Patrick Kane went on LTIR several weeks before the trade deadline with a broken collarbone. It’s taken this long, however, for some general managers to have an issue with it.

Bear in mind that medical substantiation must be provided to the league to justify placing a player on LTIR. The league looked into Kucherov’s status late last season and concluded the Lightning did nothing wrong.

Assuming the majority of general managers support this proposal, I don’t expect the PA to be onboard with it. This could be an issue that gets revisited during the next round of collective bargaining.

NBC SPORTS: The International Ice Hockey Federation has asked an independent ethics council board to investigate the Russian Hockey Federation and former IIHF president Rene Fasel regarding issues related to the war in Ukraine. Fasel was critical of the IIHF’s decisions to ban Russia and Belarus from upcoming international competitions. He’s serving as an advisor to Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League.

NHL.COM: St. Louis Blues defenseman Torey Krug is listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury.

Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo will undergo season-ending hip surgery. He’s expected to make a full recovery in six months.

TSN: New York Islanders forward Cal Clutterbuck will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery while defenseman Scott Mayfield is done for the season with a lower-body injury.

Washington Capitals forward Garnet Hathaway was fined $2,000.00 for diving/embellishment by the NHL department of player safety.