NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 26, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 26, 2021

Recaps of Thursday’s action, Jeff Skinner’s status with the Sabres concerns his agent, updates on Auston Matthews and Henrik Lundqvist, some notable injury news and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The New York Islanders tallied five unanswered third-period goals to upset the Boston Bruins 7-2. Semyon Varlamov made 34 saves while teammates Mathew Barzal, Anders Lee and Adam Pelech each had a goal and an assist for the Islanders. The Bruins have dropped three of their last four games.

Three straight third-period goals lifted the Washington Capitals over the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2. Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie and Lars Eller each had a goal and an assist. Tom Wilson tallied the game-winner and also received a two-minute minor penalty for injuring Penguins forward Mark Jankowski with a late hit in the first period. Earlier in the day, the Penguins placed winger Jason Zucker (lower body) on injured reserve.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wilson has a history of questionable hits but it doesn’t appear as though he’ll receive supplemental discipline for this one.

The Tampa Bay Lightning scored twice in the third period in a 3-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. Yanni Gourde netted the game-winner as the Lightning won their third straight over the Hurricanes, moving into second place in the Discover Central Division with 27 points.

A three-goal third-period rallied the Florida Panthers over the Dallas Stars 3-2. Sergei Bobrovsky made 37 saves while Aleksander Barkov, Anton Stralman and Frank Vatrano tallied for the Panthers, who sit atop the Discover Central Division with 28 points. Stars forward Roope Hintz missed his second straight game with a lower-body injury.

Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane is playing his way into the Hart Memorial Trophy conversation (NHL Images).

Patrick Kane tallied his 399th career goal and Malcolm Subban made 26 saves for his first shutout with the Chicago Blackhawks in a 2-0 blanking of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Carl Soderberg also scored for the Hawks, who sit third in the Central with 26 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks keep finding ways to win thanks in part to Kane’s production and leadership. He’s moved into a tie with Toronto’s Auston Matthews (31 points) for third place in the NHL scoring race and continues to be considered among the early favorites for the Hart Memorial Trophy.

The Ottawa Senators are on their first three-game win streak of the season after upsetting the Calgary Flames 6-1. Matt Murray made 29 saves, Colin White scored twice and Drake Batherson scored for the fourth straight game.

Earlier in the day, the Senators placed center Derek Stepan on injured reserve among reports he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday. They also placed little-used forward Filip Chlapik on unconditional waivers for the purpose of buying out his contract. Meanwhile, the Flames placed goaltender Jacob Markstrom (upper body) on injured reserve.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators’ improvement throughout February is due in part to giving more ice time to their younger players. They still have more rebuilding to do but they’ve served notice in recent weeks that they’re no longer an easy two points. The Flames, meanwhile, have dropped five of their last six.

An overtime goal by Pavel Zacha lifted the New Jersey Devils over the Buffalo Sabres 4-3. The Sabres made winger Jeff Skinner a healthy scratch for the third straight game, prompting his agent to contact general manager Kevyn Adams to express his concern over his client’s status. Sabres captain Jack Eichel was a late scratch with a lower-body injury while goalie Linus Ullmark left the game following the first period with an undisclosed injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Skinner’s poor production this season is cause for concern for the Sabres but critics question if he’s being properly utilized by head coach Ralph Krueger. It’s yet another issue for a team whose playoff hopes are fading while raising questions about Eichel’s future in Buffalo.

Sam Gagner tallied his third career hat trick as the Detroit Red Wings downed the Nashville Predators 5-2. Jonathan Bernier made 37 saves for the win.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The mounting losses for the Predators continue to stoke speculation they’ll become sellers at the Apr.12 trade deadline. I’ll have more in today’s Rumor section.

Blake Wheeler had a goal and two assists while Kyle Connor scored twice as the Winnipeg Jets overcame 2-0 and 3-1 deficits to beat the Montreal Canadiens 6-3. The Habs dropped their fourth straight, spoiling the debut of interim head coach Dominique Ducharme. Canadiens winger Josh Anderson left the game in the first period after an apparent slew foot by Jets defenseman Dylan DeMelo. He’ll undergo more tests but Ducharme said his injury isn’t considered to be too serious.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ducharme declared a clean slate for his players before this game. What he got was a strong start undone by more shaky goaltending from Carey Price, sloppy defensive play and a collapse of confidence as the game rolled along. The Habs (22 points) still hold a playoff spot in the Scotia North Division only because the Flames and Vancouver Canucks are playing worse than they are. Speaking of the Canucks…

Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith turned in a 32-save shutout in a 3-0 victory over the Canucks. Alex Chiasson, Jesse Puljujarvi and Connor McDavid were the goal scorers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks have only two victories in 13 games this month.

HEADLINES

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said center Auston Matthews has been dealing with a wrist injury for most of this season. Matthews appeared to aggravate the injury during Wednesday’s 2-1 win over the Flames but Keefe feels it hasn’t gotten worse.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews was scoring at a goal-per-game pace prior to Wednesday. He has a shot at becoming the first player since Brett Hull in 1991-92 to score 50 goals in 50 games.

NEW YORK POST: Henrik Lundqvist returned to the ice earlier this week after undergoing open-heart surgery seven weeks ago. However, the 39-year-old goaltender said it will be months before he can reach a decision on whether he’ll continue his playing career.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Saturday’s game between the San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues will continue as scheduled after the Sharks announced no new positive COVID-19 tests. Thursday’s game between the two clubs was postponed after Sharks forward Tomas Hertl tested positive. He’s expected to miss some time as he remains on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list.

TSN: The number of players on the league’s protocol list shrunk to seven players with three of those being members of the Philadelphia Flyers.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets are preparing to increase the number of fans attending their home games after Ohio governor Mike DeWine announced indoor sports and entertainment events in the state to 25 percent capacity. The Jackets currently have a plan approved by the state that allows 10 percent capacity.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: The Bruins will soon welcome fans back to TD Garden as the state of Massachusetts will allow 12 percent capacity starting on March 22.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 26, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 26, 2018

Jarome Iginla to announce retirement, Trevor Linden leaves Canucks, an update on Henrik Zetterberg, the latest notable contract signings and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

CALGARY SUN: Former Flames captain Jarome Iginla will return to the Saddledome on July 30 to officially announced his retirement as an NHL player after 20 years. Iginla, 41, was an unrestricted free agent last season but couldn’t find any takers among the 31 NHL teams.

Iginla totaled “625 goals and 675 assists in 1,554 regular-season outings between 1996-2017”, with 525 goals and 1,095 points coming with the Flames, making him the franchise leader in both categories. He’s a former two-time winner of the Richard Trophy as the league’s leading goalscorer. He also won the Art Ross Trophy as the top scorer and the Pearson Award (now the Ted Lindsay Award) as the MVP as voted by the players.

Jarome Iginla is returning to Calgary to officially announced his NHL retirement.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Iginla was the greatest player in Flames history, no small feat considering their ranks over the years included Lanny McDonald, Al MacInnis, Mikka Kiprusoff, Joe Nieuwendyk, Theo Fleury and Mike Vernon. It’s only fitting that he retires in Calgary where he had his greatest seasons.

The Flames also re-signed center Mark Jankowski to a two-year deal worth an annual average value of $1.675-million, while an arbiter awarded Flames defenseman Brett Kulak a one-year, one-way contract worth $900K.

CTV NEWS: The Vancouver Canucks last night announced Trevor Linden was stepping down as their president of hockey operations. Linden said in a statement he wanted to spend more time with his family while the club called the decision an amicable one.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s already speculation suggesting disagreements between Linden and others in the front office and ownership over the rebuilding club’s direction is the real reason behind his decision. 

Speaking of the Canucks, they re-signed forward Jake Virtanen to a two-year contract worth $1.25-million per season.

THE DETROIT NEWS: Player agent Gunnar Svensson, who represents Detroit Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg, told Swedish publication Hockeybladet his client remains undecided if he’ll return to action in 2018-19. 

“There have been some injury problems with his back. It is impossible to answer how it will be, for it one cannot know what it is now. He simply has not decided,” said Svensson. Wings GM Ken Holland has said he expects Zetterberg will report to training camp in September but he’s also uncertain about his status for the upcoming season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We won’t know Zetterberg’s status for certain until training camp opens. He’ll have to pass the club medical before he can take to the ice with his teammates, which should provide the earliest indication as to whether he’ll be playing in 2018-19.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild avoided salary arbitration with winger Jason Zucker as the two sides agreed to a five-year, $27.5-million contract with an annual average value of $5.5 million. “He will be paid $5 million in the 2018-19 season, $6.25 million in 2019-20, $4.8 million in 2020-21, $6.25 million in 2021-22 and $5.2 million in 2022-23.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zucker was the subject of trade speculation following a disappointing playoff performance this spring but it’s obvious now that he’s not going anywhere. The 26-year-old reached career highs with 33 goals and 31 assists for 64 points last season. His re-signing leaves the Wild with around $1.7-million in projected salary-cap space (stick tap to Cap Friendly), suggesting new GM Paul Fenton is probably done making any significant additions to the roster. 

THE TENNESSEAN: Defenseman Dan Hamhuis is returning to the team where his NHL career began, inking a two-year contract with the Nashville Predators worth $2.5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A good, affordable veteran addition by the Predators. Hamhuis, 35, won’t be logging the big minutes he did earlier in his career but he’s still capable of skating 20 minutes per game if necessary. He’ll make a solid third-pairing addition who can move up if necessary should injuries strike the top-four blueliners. 

DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars re-signed forward Mattias Janmark to a one-year, $2.3-million contract.

SUN-SENTINEL.COM: The Florida Panthers re-signed defenseman MacKenzie Weegar to a one-year deal. Cap Friendly indicates it’s a one-way agreement worth $900K

NEWSDAY: The New York Islanders named Piero Greco as their new goaltending coach, replacing Fred Brathwaite.

SPORTSNET: Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby will be honored as the top Nova Scotia athlete of all time at a gala dinner in Halifax on Thursday.