Canucks On The Brink Of Collapse
Recaps of Tuesday’s games, Hurricanes-Predators game postpone over COVID-19 concerns, Avalanche trade Ian Cole to Minnesota, Elias Pettersson fined, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Jack Hughes enjoyed his first two-goal game and added an assist as his New Jersey Devils held on for a 4-3 win over the New York Rangers. Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood made 47 saves for the win. Artemi Panarin collected two assists for the Rangers, who lost center Mika Zibanejad to an apparent upper-body injury after falling into the corner boards late in the third period.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hughes and Blackwood were the Devils’ stars in this contest. This was Hughes’ best game in his young NHL career, showing the skills that made him the first-overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. An update on Zibanejad’s status could be made later today.
The Philadelphia Flyers blanked the Buffalo Sabres 3-0 thanks to a 40-save performance by goalie Brian Elliott. Kevin Hayes had a goal and an assist for the Flyers, who lost defenseman Philippe Myers and center Morgan Frost to injuries during this contest. Both are slated for MRIs today. Sabres goalie Carter Hutton didn’t return for the third period following a collision in his crease in the second period. Earlier in the day, the Sabres moved winger Kyle Okposo (undisclosed) on injured reserve. He’s yet to play a game this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A big bounce-back win for the injury-depleted Flyers after getting drubbed 6-1 by the Sabres on Monday. The Sabres had plenty of opportunities to score but Elliott held them off the board.
An overtime goal by Frank Vatrano lifted the Florida Panthers over the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4. Panthers’ goalie Sergei Bobrovsky made 30 saves, the most notable stopping Patrick Kane on a penalty shot. Patric Hornqvist and Carter Verhaeghe each scored twice for the Panthers while Dominik Kubalik tallied twice for the Blackhawks, who still seek their first win of the season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s going to be a long, painful season for the Blackhawks. They’ve given up five goals in each of their first four games.
The Pittsburgh Penguins swept their two-game series with the Washington Capitals with a 5-4 overtime victory. Sidney Crosby tallied the winner in the extra frame as the Penguins overcame a 4-2 deficit. Tom Wilson scored twice for the Capitals. Penguins defensemen Marcus Pettersson and Juuso Riikola left the game with undisclosed ailments and will be evaluated today.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crosby collected three points in this contest and is now the Penguins’ leading scorer with five points.
Nikolaj Ehlers scored in overtime as the Winnipeg Jets overcame a 3-1 deficit to edge the Ottawa Senators 4-3. Blake Wheeler had a goal and an assist and Mark Scheifele collected two assists for the Jets. Senators rookie Tim Stuetzle missed the game with what’s been called a minor injury but he isn’t expected to be sidelined for long.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A tough loss for the Senators, who out-shot the Jets 41-28 in this game.
Tyler Bertuzzi potted an overtime winner to give the Detroit Red Wings a 3-2 decision over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Wings forward Bobby Ryan scored his fourth goal in his first three games of this season, becoming the first player in franchise history to achieve that feat.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A well-earned victory for the rebuilding Red Wings over a Blue Jackets team whose best players have been anything but through most of the first week of their season.
Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon collected two assists, including his 500th career point, in a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Anze Kopitar had two helpers for the Kings. The Avs were playing without goaltender Pavel Francouz and winger Andre Burakovsky as both remain sidelined by injuries suffered during practice on Monday.
The Carolina Hurricanes-Nashville Predators game was postponed after five Hurricanes players (Warren Foegele, Jordan Martinook, Jordan Staal, Teuvo Teravainen and Jaccob Slavin) were placed in COVID-19 protocol. The rescheduled game will be played at a later date.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This probably won’t be the last game to be rescheduled during this season. The Dallas Stars had their first four games postponed and rescheduled after several players were placed in COVID-19 protocol during the final days of training camp.
THE DENVER POST: Prior to the Colorado Avalanche’s game with the Los Angeles Kings, they shipped defenseman Ian Cole to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for blueliner Greg Pateryn.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild made this swap because general manager Bill Guerin was looking for an experienced stay-at-home defenseman. He also knows Cole from their days with the Pittsburgh Penguins and likes what the blueliner could bring to his roster.
The Avs, meanwhile, shed all but $800K of Cole’s $4.25 million annual average value while taking on Pateryn’s $2.25 million AAV. It allows the to put Pateryn on the taxi squad if necessary to create room for promising blueliner Bowen Byram.
SPORTSNET: Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson was fined $3,987.07 for slashing Calgary Flames center Sean Monahan during a game on Monday night.
NHL.COM: The league will pause the use of pucks with embedded tracking technology because of performance issues. A new supply of tracking pucks will be received soon and put into service once quality-control testing is completed.
Several teams explore staging outdoor games, the NHLPA examines options if the league cancels the season, plus updates on Alexis Lafreniere and Jack Hughes in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reported the Boston Bruins, Carolina Hurricanes, Dallas Stars, Los Angeles Kings, Nashville Predators, and Pittsburgh Penguins are all exploring the option of staging multiple outdoor games this season.
None of the seven Canadian teams are believed considering that option because of public health restrictions across the country. Meanwhile, the Buffalo Sabres, Minnesota Wild, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, Philadelphia Flyers, New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers and New York Islanders are among the US-based teams that said no to the league for various reasons.
Appearing on TSN’s Insider Trading segment last night, LeBrun said the league hasn’t officially responded to the outdoor game possibility. The rationale behind outdoor games is it would some physically distanced fans into the stadiums thus generating some much-needed hockey-related revenue. Frank Seravalli believes the cost of COVID-19 testing for the teams involved to stage those games safely would also be a factor.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reported the Kings first proposed the idea several months ago. Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns the Kings, also owns Dignity Health Sports Park, a stadium that seats 27,000 and is the home of MLS’ Los Angeles Galaxy.
Friedman said the Kings pitched the idea to the Ducks, who were considering making this a joint venture. However, local health restrictions won’t allow the clubs to commit to the plan at this time. The Bruins, meanwhile, are looking at different options (including Fenway Park) while the Penguins have considered Heinz Park and PNC Park.
Significant hurdles, however, could impede this idea. It could cost millions to stage those games in outdoor venues. Approval would also be required by the players and opposing teams.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Friedman pointed out NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly last month suggesting outdoor games would be unlikely because of the associated costs. That would include those cited by LeBrun, Seravalli and Friedman. Health and safety protocols in each city provide an extra measure of difficulty, especially with COVID cases rising throughout most of North America.
I don’t expect to see any outdoor games because of the obstacle involved in holding those events. We currently don’t know if the 2020-21 season will be staged, let alone what the schedule will look like and what format it could take, but it probably won’t involve outdoor contests.
TSN: Rick Westhead reports two sources claimed the NHL Players Association is considering its options if the league cancels the 2020-21 season. Its’ lawyers are investigating whether to file an unfair labor practice complaint with the National Labor Relations Board in the United States (NLRB) or file a grievance with an arbitrator to ensure the players get paid. The PA declined to comment on how it would respond to a canceled season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This stems from the current uncertainty over the start of the season because of the impasse between the PA and the league over the latter’s recent request for higher escrow and deferred salary rates. While the union seems to be preparing for any possibility, this appears to be a precautionary measure rather than an indication the season is doomed.
PA Executive Director Donald Fehr and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman have resumed daily discussions. Players are returning to their NHL cities in anticipation of training camps starting up in the coming weeks. Carolina Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell yesterday said he expects a resolution in the next few days regarding the salary issues and the number of games this season.
Things could still go sideways. Talks between the league and PA could fall through, leading to a protracted labor squabble that drags throughout 2021. The course of the pandemic could make it impossible to stage a season of reasonable length. Nevertheless, most league and PA insiders believe the salary stalemate will be sorted out and a season will be held.
THE SCORE: The New York Rangers won’t release Alexis Lafreniere to play for Team Canada at the upcoming World Junior Championship. The New Jersey Devils also did the same with Jack Hughes, who played in the 2019 tournament.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The two clubs prefer to have their promising youngsters ready for the NHL season whenever it begins.