NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 29, 2023
Recaps of Saturday’s game, Joe Thornton and Tomas Plekanec announce their retirements, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak scored two goals and added an assist in a 4-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. Charlie McAvoy tallied his first goal of the season as the Bruins lead the Eastern Conference with a record of 7-0-1 (15 points). Joe Veleno replied for the Red Wings (5-3-1), who are 0-2-1 in their last three contests and were outscored 8-2 in their last two games.
The Vegas Golden Knights extended their season-opening points streak to nine games by nipping the Los Angeles Kings 4-3 in a shootout with Jack Eichel netting the winning goal. Logan Thompson stopped 36 shots as the Golden Knights extended their league-leading record to 8-0-1 (17 points). Drew Doughty scored his fourth goal of the season for the Kings (4-2-2).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the game, the Golden Knights announced they moved Nicolas Roy on injured reserve.
An overtime goal by K’Andre Miller lifted the New York Rangers over the Vancouver Canucks 4-3. Mika Zibanejad had a goal and two assists while Artemi Panarin and Adam Fox each had a goal and an assist as the Rangers lead the Metropolitan Division with a record of 6-2-0. J.T. Miller potted his fourth goal of the season and Filip Hronek collected two assists for the 5-2-1 Canucks.
The Nashville Predators upset the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 on an overtime goal by Roman Josi. Ryan O’Reilly scored twice against his former club while Juuse Saros stopped 33 shots for the 4-4-0 Predators. William Nylander scored his sixth goal of the season for the 5-2-1 Maple Leafs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Earlier in the day, Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said sidelined defenseman Jake McCabe (groin injury) won’t be sidelined for as long as originally feared. He believes McCabe should be back “before too long.”
A shootout goal by Nick Suzuki gave the Montreal Canadiens a 4-3 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. Jake Allen kicked out 42 shots while Kaiden Guhle had two assists as the Canadiens overcame a 3-1 deficit to improve their record to 5-2-1. Adam Lowry netted two goals for the 4-3-1 Jets.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a costly win for the Canadiens as defenseman Mike Matheson suffered a lower-body injury and is listed as day-to-day.
Ottawa Senators captain Brady Tkachuk tallied twice in a 5-2 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Joonas Korpisalo turned aside 40 shots while Claude Giroux and Tim Stutzle each collected two assists as the Senators rose to 4-4-0. Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel each scored for the Penguins as they dropped to 3-5-0 and sit last in the Metro Division.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins continued to struggle with the man advantage and have the third-lowest power-play percentage (10%) in the league. That’s a troubling stat for a club with experienced scorers like Crosby, Guentzel, Evgeni Malkin, Erik Karlsson and Reilly Smith.
The Anaheim Ducks dropped the Philadelphia Flyers 7-4. Frank Vatrano had a hat trick while Ryan Strome had a goal and two assists for the 4-4-0 Ducks. Travis Konecny tallied twice for the 4-3-1 Flyers.
New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov made 35 saves in a 2-0 shutout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Kyle Palmieri and Matt Martin scored for the Islanders (4-2-1) while Spencer Martin stopped 31 shots for the 3-3-1 Blue Jackets.
The Florida Panthers overcame a 2-0 deficit to defeat the Seattle Kraken 3-2 on a third-period goal by Nick Cousins. Sergei Bobrovsky made 30 saves for the win as the Panthers improved to 4-3-0. Joey Daccord made 35 stops for the 2-5-2 Kraken.
SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Joe Thornton officially announced his retirement on Saturday. He hadn’t played since the 2021-22 season with the Florida Panthers.
In his 24 seasons (1997-98 to 2021-22) with the Boston Bruins, San Jose Sharks, Toronto Maple Leafs and the Panthers, Thornton amassed 1,109 regular-season assists to sit seventh on the all-time list in that category. He’s also sixth all-time in games played (1,714) and 12th in points with 1,539. Thornton scored 430 career regular-season goals and had 32 goals and 102 assists for 134 points in 187 playoff contests.
Thornton’s best seasons were the 15 he spent with the Sharks, winning the Art Ross Trophy (125 points) and the Hart Trophy in 2005-06. He was named to the First All-Star Team that season and to the Second All-Star Team in 2002-03 (with the Bruins), 2007-08 and 2015-16.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Thornton was among the greatest playmakers in NHL history. In my opinion, he’s perhaps the greatest player in Sharks history, holding the single-season record for assists (92) and points (114) and the franchise record for career assists with 804. He’s also second in total points (1,055) and third in games played with 1,104.
Thornton was the driving force that turned the Sharks into a regular-season powerhouse from 2007-08 to 2010-11. During that period, they finished atop the Pacific Division four straight times, were first overall in the Western Conference twice and second overall twice, winning the Presidents’ Trophy in 2008-09 with a franchise-record 117 points. He also helped them reach the Stanley Cup Final in 2016.
While a Stanley Cup title eluded Thornton, he was a winner on the international stage for Canada, taking home gold at the 1997 World Juniors and the 2010 Winter Olympics as well as the World Cup of Hockey in 2004 and 2016.
DAILY FACEOFF: Former Montreal Canadiens center Tomas Plekanec also announced the end of his playing career yesterday. Apart from 17 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs, he played the rest of his 1,001 career NHL games with the Canadiens from 2003-04 to 2018-19, sitting seventh on the franchise’s all-time list of games played with 984. He finished with 233 goals and 375 assists for 608 career regular-season points as well as 53 points in 94 career playoff games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Plekanec was a fan favorite in Montreal for his two-way skills. He’s played in Czechi since 2018-19, spending the past three seasons with the Kladno Knights, where he skated with Jaromir Jagr.
NEW JERSEY HOCKEY NOW: Devils captain Nico Hischier will miss Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Wild with an upper-body injury.
NHL.COM: Speaking of Hischier, Buffalo Sabres defenseman Connor Clifton received a two-game suspension for an illegal hit to the head of the Devils captain on Friday.
WGR 550: And speaking of the Sabres, goaltender Eric Comrie is listed as week-to-week with a lower-body injury. With Devon Levi still on the mend, the Sabres have called up Devin Cooley to back up Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen.
THE ATHLETIC: Canada Post issued a stamp to commemorate Willie O’Ree becoming the first player to break the NHL’s color barrier in 1958.
NEW YORK POST: Former NHL player Adam Johnson died on Saturday following a freak accident while playing with the EIHL’s Nottingham Panthers when his neck was cut by a skate blade. He was 29 years old. Johnson played 13 games with the Penguins from 2018-19 to 2019-20.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Johnson’s family, friends and teammates.