NHL Trending Up, Trending Down – Week 6
Recaps of Wednesday’s action, including Connor McDavid tallying his 500th career point, injury updates and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Connor McDavid collected two assists to pick up his 500th career NHL point as the Edmonton Oilers edged the Winnipeg Jets 3-2. McDavid accomplished the feat in his 369th NHL game, tying Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby as the eighth fastest player to reach that milestone. Leon Draisaitl scored twice for the Oilers, who’ve won four of their last five.
Earlier in the day, the Jets placed center Pierre-Luc Dubois on injured reserve with a lower-body injury. Dubois could return to action on Friday against the Vancouver Canucks.
Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews tallied his league-leading 14th goal as his club nipped the Ottawa Senators 2-1. Matthews also extended his points streak to 14 games. Alex Kerfoot tallied the game-winner in the third period. Brady Tkachuk replied for the Senators. Earlier in the day, the Leafs announced defenseman Rasmus Sandin is out indefinitely with an injured foot.
Jonathan Huberdeau scored twice (including the game-winner in overtime) and collected an assist in the Florida Panthers 4-3 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. The Panthers overcame a 2-0 deficit but Vincent Trocheck tied the game for the Hurricanes to force the extra frame.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Huberdeau (20 points) sits among the NHL’s top-10 scorers. He’s among the key factors behind the Panthers’ strong performance this season.
Chicago Blackhawks rookie goaltender Kevin Lankinen made 29 shots for his first career NHL shutout to blank the Detroit Red Wings 2-0. Philipp Kurashev and Alex DeBrincat scored for the Blackhawks in their third straight victory.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks have 22 points and sit in second place behind the Panthers in the Central Division. Neither club was expected to be in those positions when the season began. The Panthers were coming off an offseason of numerous roster changes while the Blackhawks began the season without an established starting goalie and three key players (Jonathan Toews, Kirby Dach and Brent Seabrook) sidelined by illness and injuries.
Brock Boeser had a goal and two assists as the Vancouver Canucks rolled to a 5-1 win over the Calgary Flames. Braden Holtby made 35 saves while J.T. Miller and Bo Horvat each had a goal and an assist for the Canucks.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Ongoing power outages related to recent winter storms in Texas have forced the postponement of tonight’s game between the Stars and the Tampa Bay Lightning.
NEW YORK POST: Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba will be sidelined four-to-six weeks with a broken thumb suffered during Tuesday’s 5-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils. Sidelined winger Artemi Panarin and defenseman K’Andre Miller are expected to return to action tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: For the first time since Feb. 1 the Buffalo Sabres no longer have players on the COVID-19 protocol list. Casey Mittelstadt became the ninth Sabre to come off the list yesterday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The number of players on the list has steadily declined in recent days. Eighteen players were still on the list yesterday, seven of those members of the Philadelphia Flyers.
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.
Jets eliminated from the qualifying round in today’s recaps of Thursday’s games, the date for Phase 2 of the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery is revealed, and more in the NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Winnipeg Jets became the second team eliminated from the qualifying round as they were blanked 4-0 by the Calgary Flames in Game 4 on Thursday night. Cam Talbot turned in a 31-save shutout, Dillon Dube scored the eventual game-winner while Sean Monahan and Sam Bennett each had a goal and an assist.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A dominating physical performance by the Flames over the shorthanded Jets, whose fate was sealed when scoring forwards Mark Scheifele (Achilles tendon) and Patrik Laine (wrist) were sidelined in Game 1. The Jets remain eligible to win Phase 2 of the upcoming NHL Draft Lottery and the chance to select top prospect Alexis Lafreniere.
Columbus Blue Jackets’ center Pierre-Luc Dubois’ hat trick (including the game-winner) completed his club’s comeback from a 3-0 deficit to down the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3 in overtime. The Jackets hold a 2-1 series lead and can wrap things up later today in Game 4. The Jackets’ fortunes turned after pulling goalie Joonas Korpisalo in the second period for Elvis Merzlikins, who stopped all 21 shots he faced from the Leafs.
— Here’s Your Replay ⬇️ (@TheReplayGuy) August 7, 2020
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs seemingly had this game well in hand but, as we saw during the regular season, their lack of defensive depth once again proved to be their undoing. Dubois was a one-man wrecking crew but his teammates also stepped up as the Jackets outshot the Leafs 37-27 from the second period onward.
The Vancouver Canucks beat the Minnesota Wild 3-0 to take a 2-1 lead in their qualifying series. Jacob Markstrom made 27 saves for the shutout, Quinn Hughes collected three assists, and Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser each had a goal and an assist.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Four of the Canucks’ best players came through in this physical contest with the Wild. They’ll have a chance to finish this series later today.
Three unanswered third-period goals gave the Vegas Golden Knights a 6-4 victory over the St. Louis Blues in round-robin play. Alex Tuch and Shea Theodore each scored twice for Vegas while Colton Parayko tallied two goals for the Blues.
Scott Laughton’s two goals powered the Philadelphia Flyers over the Washington Capitals 3-1 in round-robin play. Laughton and teammate Kevin Hayes each had three points. Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov was benched for most of the third period.
NHL.COM: Phase 2 of the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery will be held on Monday, Aug. 10 at 6 pm ET to complete the order of the top 15 selections. The winner will get the first-overall selection.
CBS SPORTS: Florida Panthers left wing Jonathan Huberdeau (leg) skipped practice yesterday but is expected to be in the lineup today for Game 4 of his club’s qualifying-round series with the New York Islanders. The Isles hold a 2-1 series lead.
Arizona Coyotes center Nick Schmaltz (undisclosed) skated yesterday at practice, raising speculation he could be in the lineup for Game 4 later today against the Nashville Predators. The Coyotes lead the series 2-1.
TSN: Edmonton Oilers winger Tyler Ennis is sidelined indefinitely with a suspected leg injury. The Oilers are down 2-1 in their series with the Chicago Blackhawk with Game 4 set for later today.
Montreal Canadiens winger Jakes Evans is doubtful for Game 4 today against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He suffered a suspected upper-body injury in Game 3 on Wednesday. The Canadiens lead the series 2-1.
NHL.COM: Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton has resumed practicing with his teammates after missing their entire qualifying-round series with the New York Rangers. He’s hoping to return to action in their first-round playoff series next week.
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks re-signed defenseman Jacob Larsson to a two-year, $2.4-million contract extension. The annual average value is $1.2 million.