NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 23, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 23, 2021

Recaps of Monday’s action, Oilers-Canadiens game postponed over COVID-19 concerns, stars of the week and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Third-period goals by Chris Kreider and Kaapo Kakko lifted the New York Rangers over the Buffalo Sabres 5-3, handing the landing their 14th consecutive defeat. Kreider and Kakko tallied twice for the Rangers. Dustin Tokarski played his first NHL games since 2016, making 33 saves after taking over for sidelined Sabres goalie Carter Hutton early in the first period. With the win, the Rangers (32 points) moved within two points of the fifth-place Philadelphia Flyers and within four of the fourth-place Boston Bruins in the MassMutual East Division.

Dougie Hamilton collected an assist to extend his points streak to 12 games as the Carolina Hurricanes blanked the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-0. Alex Nedeljkovic made 19 saves for the shutout and Sebastian Aho picked up two assists. The Hurricanes (45 points) vaulted into second place in the Discover Central Division with a one-point lead over the Florida Panthers. The Blue Jackets (33 points) are tied with the Chicago Blackhawks but slipped to fifth place.

A third-period goal by Chris Tierney gave the Ottawa Senators a 2-1 win over the Calgary Flames. Rookie goaltender Filip Gustavsson kicked out 35 shots for his first NHL victory. The Flames (33 points) remain in sixth place in the Scotia North Division, four points back of the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens.

An overtime goal by Anthony Beauvillier lifted the New York Islanders to a 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. Isles rookie goalie Ilya Sorokin made 36 saves for his eighth straight win. Flyers center Sean Couturier returned to the lineup after missing one game with a hip injury. The Islanders sit in first place in the MassMutual East, two points up on the Washington Capitals. Meanwhile, the Flyers (34 points) sit two points behind the fourth-place Bruins.

Vegas Golden Knights captain Mark Stone (NHL Images).

The Minnesota Wild edged the Anaheim Ducks 2-1 on a third-period goal by Nick Bjugstad. With 39 points, the Wild remains two points ahead of the St. Louis Blues for third place in the Honda West Division. Marcus Johansson returned to the Wild lineup after missing 16 games with an upper-body injury.

Mark Stone scored twice as the Vegas Golden Knights tallied four unanswered goals to down St. Louis 5-1. The Golden Knights have won six of their last seven contests and sit in first place in the West with 45 points, three points up on the Colorado Avalanche. The Blues remain in fourth place with 37 points.

Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck turned in a 22-save shutout and Adam Lowry scored twice to beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-0. Canucks center Brandon Sutter missed the game with an undisclosed injury while captain Bo Horvat limped off in the third period after being struck by a shot from teammate Alex Edler. The Jets sit in third place in the North Division, two points behind the Edmonton Oilers and three up on the Canadiens.

The Colorado Avalanche picked up their seventh straight victory by downing the Arizona Coyotes 5-1. Joonas Donskoi scored two goals and Philipp Grubauer picked up the win with 24 saves. Coyotes defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson left the game with an upper-body injury. With 42 points, the Avs hold a four-point lead over the Wild for second place in the West Division.

San Jose Sharks goaltender Martin Jones made 41 saves backstopping his club over the Los Angeles Kings 2-1. Ryan Donato tallied the game-winner in the third period. The loss leaves the Kings with 32 points, five back of the fourth-place Blues in the West.

HEADLINES

Monday’s game between the Edmonton Oilers and Montreal Canadiens was postponed after Canadiens forwards Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Joel Armia were placed on the COVID-19 protocol list. The Habs also canceled practice for today.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is the first North Division game to be postponed this season. The Canadiens will be awaiting the results of further testing. Placing Kotkaniemi and Armia on the list doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve contracted the coronavirus. Further information is expected later today. If all players pass the subsequent testing there’s talk this game could be played tonight.

The additions of Kotkaniemi and Armia to the COVID protocol list pushed the total number to 10 players. The Boston Bruins have five players on the list, including David Pastrnak, David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk.

The Canadiens also announced forward Tyler Toffoli will be sidelined until at least Sunday with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s assuming the remainder of the Canadiens’ games for this week aren’t postponed.

Nashville Predators forward Calle Jarnkrok, Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid and New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending March 21.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen is day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks claimed forward Travis Boyd off waivers from the Toronto Maple Leafs. It’s the second time in a week the Canucks have plucked a player off the Leafs roster, having claimed Jimmy Vesey on March 17.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some see those moves as the Canucks positioning themselves to become sellers by the April 12 trade deadline. That may well be the case if they fail to gain any ground in the North Division playoff race.

SPORTSNET: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league isn’t expecting to have full arenas this season despite more American teams allowing limited numbers of socially distanced fans to attend their games.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 20, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – February 20, 2021

The latest Predators speculation plus updates on Sam Bennett and Jake Virtanen in today’s NHL rumor mill.

SHOULD THE PREDATORS TANK THE SEASON?

SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: Ryan Kennedy believes it’s time Nashville Predators general manager David Poile consider making some roster moves that could put his club in a better position to secure a top-five pick in the 2021 and 2022 NHL Drafts.

Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm (NHL Images)

Kennedy suggests there could be some blue-chip forward prospects (Dylan Guenther of the Edmonton Oil Kings, Sweden’s William Eklund, or the University of Michigan’s Matty Berniers and Kent Johnson) who could address the Predators’ need for more scoring punch. 2022 draft prospects could include Kingston Frontenac’s Shane Wright, the USHL’s Matthew Savoie or Finland’s Brad Lambert.

It will be difficult to move struggling Predators forwards Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen. They lack no-trade protection but their expensive contracts would mean trying to package either guy with other assets and/or absorbing part of their annual salary-cap hits. Kennedy believes affordable depth players such as Mikael Granlund, Calle Jarnkrok and Erik Haula would be easier to move in return for draft picks and prospects.

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun suggested the Boston Bruins, Winnipeg Jets, Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers as trade destinations for Mattias Ekholm. The 30-year-old left side defenseman has a year remaining on his contract with an affordable annual average value of $3.75 million. He believes Ekholm is their move desirable trade asset.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators are showing little indication they’re about to right the ship. Mired near the bottom of the standings, they’re running out of time to avoid falling completely out of this year’s playoff race.

Assuming Poile isn’t in danger of losing his job, he must soon decide if he’s going to be a seller. Moving expensive underachievers like Duchene and Johansen won’t be easy but it’s worth looking into if for nothing else than to try to get as much of their annual cap hits off the books as possible. Players on one-year contracts like Granlund, Jarnkrok and Haula are obvious trade candidates.

Ekholm is their best trade chip and could fetch a decent return. All those clubs listed by LeBrun would be prime destinations though it could involve the Predators taking back a contract as part of the return or shedding a salary in a separate deal. He suggested John Moore from the Bruins, Mathieu Perreault from the Jets, Nick Jensen from the Capitals or Shayne Gostisbehere from the Flyers. Those clubs would also have to take into account what effect acquiring Ekholm could have upon their expansive draft protection lists this summer.

UPDATES ON BENNETT AND VIRTANEN

THE SCORE: Josh Gold-Smith cited comments made by Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving to Sportsnet 960 on Friday regarding Sam Bennett. The 24-year-old forward’s agent took to the media earlier this month claiming his client might prefer a change of scenery. Treliving indicated he’s not going to pressured into moving Bennett.

We’ll determine – whether it’s Sam or anybody else – what their scenery is and when it’s going to change, and until such time, Sam is a member of the Calgary Flames and he’s like every other member of the Calgary Flames.”

Treliving called Bennett “a hell of a player,” adding he expects he’ll be “a real good player here, and we’ll go from there.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The trade request sparked considerable speculation over possible destinations for Bennett but that chatter has since petered out. Treliving isn’t saying he’s not going to trade Bennett but he obviously won’t have his agent try to force the issue.

THE ATHLETIC: Harman Dayal believes buying out Jake Virtanen would make sense for the Vancouver Canucks. The 24-year-old winger is believed to be on the trade block but rumors suggest there’s not much interest because of his poor performance this season.

An interested club might insist the Canucks take back an inefficient contract in return. Buying out Virtanen this summer would save $2.5 million next season with only $50K counting against the cap, and $500k toward their 2022-23 cap payroll.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with Dayal that buying out Virtanen this summer might be the best option if they cannot trade him. Best to get him off the books as soon as possible. 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 18, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 18, 2018

Game recaps, injury updates and more CBA optimism in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Anthony Cirelli scored in overtime as the Tampa Bay Lightning edged the Philadelphia Flyers 6-5 following a wild third period that saw the Flyers rally from a 5-1 deficit to force the extra frame. Brayden Point scored twice for the Lightning while James van Riemsdyk had a three-point game for the Flyers.

New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist moved into seventh place on the NHL all-time wins list for goaltenders. (Photo via NHL Images)

Henrik Lundqvist picked up his 438th career victory to move ahead of Jacques Plante into seventh on the all-time goaltender wins list as the New York Rangers doubled up the Florida Panthers 4-2. Rangers winger Chris Kreider had a goal and two assists.

Erik Karlsson scored his first goal with the San Jose Sharks while Aaron Dell turned in a 30-save shutout to blank the St. Louis Blues 4-0. Joe Pavelski scored twice and Logan Couture had three assists.

Cam Atkinson’s hat trick powered the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 4-1 win over the slumping Carolina Hurricanes. Artemi Panarin also collected three assists for the Jackets while Sergei Bobrovsky kicked out 30 shots.

Calle Jarnkrok potted his first career NHL hat trick as the Nashville Predators beat the Los Angeles Kings 5-3.

Carey Price turned in his second straight solid performance (35 saves) backstopping the Montreal Canadiens to a 3-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks, handing the latter their fifth straight loss. Jonathan Drouin scored the winner while Canucks rookie Elias Pettersson netted his 11th goal of the season.

The Ottawa Senators ran up a 5-1 lead and held on for a 6-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Mark Stone and Matt Duchene each scored twice for the Senators, who chased Penguins goalie Matt Murray from the net after he gave up three goals on 10 shots. Penguins forward Derick Brassard returned to the lineup after missing nine games with a lower-body injury. 

The Buffalo Sabres picked up their fifth straight win by overcoming a 2-0 deficit to beat the Minnesota Wild 3-2. Rasmus Dahlin and Jason Pominville tallied the tying and winning goals.

The Calgary Flames won the latest round in the Battle of Alberta by overcoming a 2-0 deficit to defeat the Edmonton Oilers 4-2. Elias Lindholm scored two goals for the Flames, handing the Oilers their fifth loss in six games.

Dylan Larkin’s overtime goal gave the Detroit Red Wings a 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils. The Wings have won eight of their last 10 games. Wings forward Darren Helm could be sidelined for some time after leaving the game in the first period with an injured right arm.

Jaroslav Halak turned aside 32 shots and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson tallied his first NHL goal to give the Boston Bruins a 2-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes. The injury-ravaged Bruins lost another key player, as Patrice Bergeron (suspected shoulder injury) returned to Boston for medical evaluation. 

DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars defenseman John Klingberg (broken hand) could be sidelined for longer than four weeks, as coach Jim Montgomery suggested the blueliner could be out six weeks. 

SPORTSNET: The Anaheim Ducks placed defenseman Luke Schenn on waivers. Forward Patrick Eaves was placed on injured reserve suffering from back spasm. 

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the NHL is doing everything it can to dodge another labor dispute with the NHLPA, with the two sides engaged in ongoing preliminary talks “aimed at extending the CBA before either party can exercise its reopener in September 2019.”  Brooks cites multiple sources claiming league commissioner Gary Bettman hopes to avoid the prospect of a fourth lockout in 17 years under his watch.

Among the highlights from Brooks’ column:

-The league and the PA are apparently interested in participating in the 2022 Winter Olympic in Beijing. The trade-off could be staging a World Cup of Hockey in 2020 (and possibly 2024) with most of the revenue going to the league. 

-Escrow isn’t the major sticking point it once was. While the players are having 11.5 percent of their salaries withheld this season, the PA expects a postseason refund of eight percent. 

-The PA seeks a change in the way long-term injury reserve payments are calculated against the cap. “If the league eliminates additional payroll dedicated to LTI as part of the mix, that would reduce escrow. It would also slightly tilt the 50/50, so the NHL obviously would need something tangible in return — perhaps a redefinition of Hockey-Related Revenue that would benefit the teams.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is the second report in as many weeks suggesting the possibility another work stoppage might be avoided, perhaps before next September’s deadline for either side to re-open CBA talks. According to last weekend’s report by Hockey Night in Canada’s “Headlines” crew, the league needs to know by January if they can stage a 2020 World Cup of Hockey. If that tournament gets the green light,  a new CBA could be in place by next fall or the current one will remain in place until its expiry date in September 2022. 

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 16, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 16, 2018

Game recaps, injury updates, plus milestones for Patrik Laine and James van Riemsdyk  in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Nashville Predators extended their points streak to 13 games by downing the Arizona Coyotes 3-2 on third-period goals by Kyle Turris and Kevin Fiala. With 102 points, the Predators hold the top spot in the overall standings. Earlier in the day, however, they learned center Calle Jarnkrok will miss the rest of the regular season with an upper-body injury

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Winners of nine of their last 10 games, the Predators are the league’s hottest team right now. With the playoffs looming, they’re peaking at the right time. 

Winnipeg Jets 19-year-old winger Patrik Laine set an NHL record for consecutive points by a teenaged player. (Photo via NHL Images)

The Winnipeg Jets (94 points) strengthened their grip on second place in the Central Division by thumping the Chicago Blackhawks 6-2. Jets winger Patrik Laine collected an assist to extend his point streak to 14 games, setting a record for the longest NHL points streak by a teenage player. Kyle Connor also scored twice for Winnipeg. Before the game, the Jets learned center Matt Hendricks will miss the remainder of the regular season and the opening round of the playoffs with a lower-body injury

The Washington Capitals (87 points) maintained their hold on first in the Metropolitan Division by crushing the New York Islanders 7-3. T.J. Oshie scored two goals while Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov had three-point performances. The Isles (70 points) sit ten back of the New Jersey Devils for the final wild-card berth in the East.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barring an impressive late surge by the Isles, their playoff hopes are all but dashed now. With just one victory in their last 10 games, they’ve lost too much ground in the standings.

Patrick Hornqvist scored twice and Evgeni Malkin netted his 40th goal of the season as the Pittsburgh Penguins overcame an early 2-0 deficit to defeat the Montreal Canadiens 5-3. Bryan Rust returned to the Pittsburgh lineup and collected two points. The Penguins remain tied with the Capitals for top spot in the Metro Division, though the Caps hold the advantage by having two games in hand.

Cam Atkinson’s hat trick powered the surging Columbus Blue Jackets to a 5-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. The Jackets (81 points) have won six straight games and hold the first wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference. The Jackets also announced yesterday the signing of veteran forward Nathan Gerbe to a two-year, two-way contract

Toronto Maple Leafs winger James van Riemsdyk had his second straight multi-goal game to lead his club to a 5-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres. He tallied twice to reach a career-best single-season mark of 31 goals. No update on the status of Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen, who remains sidelined with an upper-body injury suffered during Wednesday’s game against Dallas.

A four-point effort by Anze Kopitar gave the Los Angeles Kings (84 points) a 4-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Kopitar had a goal and set up three others, while teammate Drew Doughty collected three assists. The Kings sit third in the Pacific Division.

Colorado Avalanche forwards Nathan MacKinnon and Miko Rantanen each scored twice to lead their club to a 4-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues. The Avs (84 points) hold the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference. For the Blues (79 points), the loss puts them five points out of a playoff spot. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues have won only three of their last 10 contests. With 12 games remaining in the season, they’re running out of time to turn things around. 

James Riemer made 46 saves as the Florida Panthers shut out the Boston Bruins 3-0. Nick Bjugstad had a goal and an assist while Evgenii Dadonov picked up two assists. The Panthers sit three points back of the Devils for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot. The Bruins were playing without defenseman Zdeno Chara and winger Jake DeBrusk, who are both sidelined with upper-body injuries. 

TSN: Over four years after a group of former players filed a lawsuit against the NHL over its perceived inability to protect them from concussion injuries, the two sides will face off Friday for the first time in court.