NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 27, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 27, 2022

Auston Matthews tallies his 60th goal of the season, Steven Stamkos reached 100 points, the Hurricanes clinch the Metropolitan Division, the Predators and Kings secure playoff berths, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Auston Matthews scored twice to reach the 60-goal plateau as the Toronto Maple Leafs blanked the Detroit Red Wings 3-0. Matthews is the first player to score 60 goals in a season since Steven Stamkos in 2011-12. He’s also the first American-born player to reach that mark. John Tavares also scored and Jack Campbell made 20 saves for the shutout. Toronto defenseman Jake Muzzin returned to the lineup after missing six games with an undisclosed injury. With the win, the Leafs (113 points) secure second place in the Atlantic Division and home-ice advantage for the opening round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

Speaking of Stamkos, the Tampa Bay Lightning captain reached the 100-point plateau for the first time in his career in a 4-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Stamkos scored twice and collected two assists while Nikita Kucherov also had a four-point performance. The Lightning have won four straight games and sit in third place in the Atlantic with 108 points. Before the game, the Blue Jackets confirmed Boone Jenner and Sean Kuraly will be sidelined for the remainder of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the season ended today, the Leafs and Lightning would face each other in the first round. We’ll find out for sure by week’s end.

The Carolina Hurricanes (114 points) clinched first place in the Metropolitan Division by holding off the New York Rangers 4-3. Sebastian Aho scored to reach his 400th career point, Vincent Trocheck and Brady Skjei each collected two points and rookie goalie Pyotr Kochetkov got the win with a 31-save performance. Rangers winger Chris Kreider tallied his 52nd goal of the season. His teammate, Andrew Copp, returned to action from a lower-body injury but left the game in the second period. So did winger Artemi Panarin but it appears both were held out of this contest for precautionary reasons. The Rangers sit second in the Metro with 108 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes were hopeful that sidelined starting goalie Frederik Andersen would be ready to return to action for the opening game of the playoffs next week. ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski reports the current expectation is he’ll miss the Hurricanes’ first few games of the first round.

An overtime goal by Elias Lindholm gave the Calgary Flames a 5-4 win over the Nashville Predators, but the latter still secured a playoff spot in the Western Conference with 95 points. Matthew Tkachuk scored in the final second of regulation to tie the game and set the stage for Lindholm’s winner. Both players have 41 goals on the season. Filip Forsberg scored twice for the Predators to reach 42 goals while teammates Matt Duchene and Mikael Granlund each had three points. The Flames (110 points) recently clinched first place in the Pacific Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Predators goaltender Juuse Saros left the game in the third period with what appeared to be an injured left leg. An update on his condition could come on Wednesday.

The Dallas Stars moved closer to clinching the final playoff berth in the Western Conference after downing the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2 on a shootout goal by Miro Heiskanen. Jason Robertson scored twice to reach 40 goals on the season while Jake Oettinger kicked out 33 shots. The Stars hold the final wild-card spot with 95 points. With 91 points, the Golden Knights’ playoff hopes now hang by a thread while the Stars’ victory means the idle Los Angeles Kings have clinched a postseason berth with 96 points. They will face the Edmonton Oilers in the first round.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights still have a slim chance if they win their final two games and the Stars lose their last two in regulation, thus ensuring they’d take the wild-card berth on the basis of regulation wins. The Stars, however, need just one to qualify for the postseason.

Speaking of the Oilers, they secured second place in the Pacific Division with 100 points by dropping the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-1. Oilers captain Connor McDavid had a goal and three assists to reach a career-high 122, widening his lead in the scoring race by seven points over the Florida Panthers’ Jonathan Huberdeau. Mike Smith kicked out 33 shots for his 10th straight win.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Penguins winger Jason Zucker left the game in the first period with an undisclosed ailment. The Penguins (101 points) have already secured a playoff berth but hold a one-point lead over the Washington Capitals for third place in the Metropolitan Division.

As for the Capitals, they failed to overtake the Penguins after falling 4-1 to the New York Islanders. Ilya Sorokin made 32 stops for the Islanders. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin missed this game as he’s listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

The Colorado Avalanche gained ground on the Florida Panthers for first place in the overall standings with a 5-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues, snapping the latter’s 16-game points streak. Darcy Kuemper made 29 saves for the win while Valeri Nichushkin had a goal and an assist as the Avalanche (118 points) moved within two points of the Panthers. Blues center Ryan O’Reilly scored twice and collected an assist. The Blues remain in third place in the Central Division with 109 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews returned to the lineup after sitting out the last four games dealing with undisclosed minor injuries. Sidelined teammates Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen are both expected to return in time for the playoffs next week.

Meanwhile, the Panthers dropped a 4-2 decision to the Boston Bruins. Brad Marchand, Tayler Hall and David Pastrnak each collected two points as the Bruins (105 points) sit three points behind the Lightning for third place in the Atlantic Division. The Panthers sit first overall with 120 points.

The Minnesota Wild remains tied with the Blues with 109 points following a 5-3 loss to the Arizona Coyotes. Karel Vejmelka got the win with a 35-save performance while Shayne Gostisbehere collected three assists. Kirill Kaprizov had two assists for Minnesota, who holds second place in the Central over the Blues with a game in hand. Wild forward Marcus Foligno returned to the lineup after missing the past four games due to a bout of COVID-19.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild and Blues will face each other in the opening round of the playoffs. The outcome of their final games will decide which one gets home-ice advantage in their upcoming series.

Quinn Hughes set a single-season record for Vancouver Canucks defensemen by reaching 66 with a goal and two assists in a 5-2 victory over the Seattle Kraken. The Canucks were officially eliminated from playoff contention by the Stars’ win over the Golden Knights. Vancouver goalie Thatcher Demko missed this game as he’s listed as day-to-day with an unspecified injury.

Ottawa Senators forward Drake Batherson scored twice, including the winner in overtime, to down the New Jersey Devils 5-4. Tim Stutzle had two goals and two assists and Brady Tkachuk picked up three helpers for the Senators. Nolan Foote tallied twice for the Devils.

The Anaheim Ducks beat the San Jose Sharks 5-2. Max Comtois and Sonny Milano each had a goal and an assist for the Ducks.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price is traveling with his teammates to New York, where he has a medical appointment concerning his surgically repaired knee. He’s listed as day-to-day.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s sparked speculation in Montreal over whether Price will play in the Canadiens’ final game of the season on Friday against the Panthers as well as concerns about whether he can continue his playing career. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports Price still plans on being in net for Friday’s game and he wants to play next season. Nevertheless, we can expect questions about Price’s future to carry over into the offseason.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 13, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 13, 2022

Recaps of Saturday’s action, Hurricanes close to re-signing Kotkaniemi, Avs re-sign Francouz, Landeskog and Chychrun injured, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Artemi Panarin had a goal and four assists to lead the New York Rangers to a 7-4 victory over the Dallas Stars. Dryden Hunt also collected three assists while Ryan Strome and K’Andre Miller each had two points for the Rangers (79 points), who moved ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins into second place in the Metropolitan Division. John Klingberg, Esa Lindell and Roope Hintz each had two points for the Stars (67 points), who sit one point behind the Vegas Golden Knights for the final Western Conference wild-card berth.

New York Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin (NHL Images).

The Carolina Hurricanes took over first place in the overall standings by downing the Philadelphia Flyers 3-1, extending their home points streak to 13 games. Hurricanes goaltender Frederik Andersen made 28 saves while Jordan Martinook and Sebastian Aho scored unanswered goals in the third period. The Hurricanes and Colorado Avalanche each have 87 points but the Canes hold a game in hand.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid scored twice to lead his club over the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1. Mikko Koskinen made 31 saves for the win, Tyson Barrie collected two assists in his return from injured reserve while Josh Archibald was activated off long-term injury reserve for the Oilers (68 points), who moved ahead of the Golden Knights into third place in the Pacific Division. The Lightning (80 points) have dropped three straight and hold a one-point lead over the Toronto Maple Leafs for second place in the Atlantic Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid regained first place in the scoring race with 83 points, one up on Florida Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau and two ahead of teammate Leon Draisaitl.

Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom made 19 saves for his league-leading ninth shutout of the season in a 3-0 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Elias Lindholm reached the 30-goal plateau for the first time in his career and Matthew Tkachuk collected two assists. With 79 points, the Flames hold a seven-point lead over the Los Angeles Kings for first place in the Pacific Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flames defenseman Oliver Kylington missed this game with a lower-body injury and is listed as day-to-day.

The Kings, meanwhile, were shut out by the San Jose Sharks 5-0. Adin Hill made 29 saves in his first start since Jan. 29 while teammate Timo Meier had a goal and two assists.

St. Louis Blues forward Robert Thomas scored twice and set up two others in a 7-4 victory over the Nashville Predators. The Blues blew a 3-0 lead but recovered on three unanswered third-period goals by Thomas, David Perron and Justin Faulk. Matt Duchene scored twice for the Predators, including his 30th goal of the season. The Blues hold a three-point lead over the Minnesota Wild for second place in the Central Division with 75 points. With 70 points, the Predators hold a two-point lead over the Golden Knights for the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

The Boston Bruins nipped the Arizona Coyotes 3-2 on a late goal by Charlie Coyle. Craig Smith scored twice and Jeremy Swayman made 27 saves as the Bruins (77 points) hold a three-point lead over the Washington Capitals for the first Eastern Conference wild-card spot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun left the game in the second period following a collision with a Bruins player. No update was provided but the club is hopeful he’ll be day-to-day. Chychrun has been a fixture in the trade rumor mill for the past couple of months. Coyotes forward Christian Fischer missed the game with an upper-body injury and is considered day-to-day.

Patrick Kane collected three assists while Jonathan Toews and Caleb Jones each scored twice as the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Ottawa Senators 6-3. With 1,156 points, Kane moved in second place among the Blackhawks’ all-time scoring leaders. Blackhawks defenseman Connor Murphy was stretchered from the game after being hit into the boards in the first period. He wasn’t taken to hospital and remained at the arena under the team’s medical supervision. Murphy is traveling back to Chicago with his teammates.

Shootout goals by Tomas Tatar and Jesper Bratt gave the New Jersey Devils a 2-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. Devils goalie Nico Daws made 33 saves in regulation and overtime. The loss leaves the Ducks four points out of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Ducks defenseman Josh Manson returned from injured reserve but forward Sam Steel wound up on IR with a facial injury.

A shootout goal by Marcus Johansson lifted the Seattle Kraken over the Montreal Canadiens 4-3. The Canadiens rallied on third-period goals by Alexander Romanov and Nick Suzuki to force overtime and the shootout. Canadiens defenseman Joel Edmundson made his season debut after being sidelined last summer by a back injury while Kale Clague was placed on injured reserve with an upper-body injury.

HEADLINES

TSN: The Carolina Hurricanes are reportedly close to agreeing to an eight-year contract extension with center Jesperi Kotkaniemi. It’s believed to be worth between $4.25 million and $4.5 million annually. The Hurricanes successfully signed away Kotkaniemi last summer from the Montreal Canadiens with a one-year, $6.1 million offer sheet.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Chris Johnston reports the deal cannot be formally completed until after the March 21 trade deadline because it’s an eight-year extension. Kotkaniemi was never a $6 million player but that was the salary needed to sign him away from the Canadiens. It was widely assumed he’d accept a lesser annual cap-hit on a long-term deal after this season.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog will be sidelined indefinitely by a knee injury. The club hopes to have him back before the start of the playoffs in late April or early May. Defenseman Samuel Girard will miss approximately four weeks with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Landeskog and Girard earn a combined $12 million. If they’re placed on long-term injury reserve it would provide the Avalanche with much-needed salary-cap flexibility to add a player or two before the March 21 trade deadline.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: The Avalanche signed backup goaltender Pavel Francouz to a two-year, $4 million contract extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It remains to be seen if Darcy Kuemper will also get an extension. The Avs starter is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets captain Boone Jenner is listed as week-to-week with a lower-back injury.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Flyers forward Scott Laughton is sidelined indefinitely after suffering a concussion during Thursday’s game against the Florida Panthers.

TSN: Minnesota Wild winger Marcus Foligno was fined $5,000.00 by the department of player safety for kneeing Blue Jackets winger Jakub Voracek on Friday.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 13, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 13, 2021

The Golden Knights defeat the Kraken while the Penguins upset the Lightning as the puck drops on the 2021-22 season. Details and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: A tie-breaking goal by Chandler Stephenson lifted the Vegas Golden Knights to a 4-3 win over the Seattle Kraken in the latter’s first-ever NHL regular-season game. Max Pacioretty scored twice and Robin Lehner made 28 saves for Vegas, who blew a 3-0 lead as the Kraken rallied on goals by Ryan Donato (the first in franchise history), Jared McCann and Morgan Geekie.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kraken were expected to have a strong defense but they look shaky while their offense acquitted themselves well in this contest. McCann, Joonas Donskoi, Marcus Johanssen and Jamie Oleksiak had entered the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol on Monday but were cleared to play in this game.

Kris Letang collected two assists and Tristan Jarry made 26 saves as the Pittsburgh Penguins downed the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-2. Danton Heinen and Brian Boyle scored in their debuts with the Penguins. Alex Killorn and Anthony Cirelli replied for the Lightning, who raised their 2020-21 Stanley Cup banner in a pre-game ceremony.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning were flat throughout this game, outshot 35-28 by a Penguins team skating without scoring stars Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jake Guentzel. The Bolts certainly missed former third-liners Yanni Gourde, Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow, who departed this summer via expansion draft, free agency and trade.

It was nice seeing Boyle score in his first NHL game since 2019-20. He missed all of last season as an unsigned free agent and earned a spot on the Penguins following a professional tryout offer.

HEADLINES

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens signed center Nick Suzuki to an eight-year, $63 million contract extension. The annual average value is $7.875 million, making him the highest-paid forward on the roster.

Montreal Canadiens center Nick Suzuki (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some observers questioned the Canadiens signing Suzuki to such a hefty raise after just two consecutive 41-point performances. Anyone who watched his performance in the 2021 playoffs will understand the rationale behind this contract. The 22-year-old Suzuki blossomed into a reliable first-line center, playing a solid game at both ends of the rink.

Suzuki was scoring at a higher rate last season than in his rookie campaign. His 41 points in 56 games last season prorates to 60 points in an 82-game season. Should he reach or exceed that point total this season he would’ve been in a better position next summer to seek a more lucrative deal. The Canadiens now have Suzuki locked in through what should be his prime playing years at what could prove to be a cost-effective long-term contract.

Cap Friendly shows the Canadiens sitting at $84.88 million in projected cap space for 13 players in 2022-23, well above the projected $82 million for next season. They could get over $7.8 million in relief if Shea Weber ends up on permanent long-term injury reserve. Even then, however, they won’t have much cap space to fill out the rest of their roster.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss their season-opener tonight against the Chicago Blackhawks. He’s reportedly asymptomatic and feeling good. His earliest possible return is Saturday against the St. Louis Blues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL announced just four players remain unvaccinated. Nevertheless, MacKinnon’s case shows why the league has implemented strict protocols for this season for even its fully vaccinated players.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom (hip injury) was placed on long-term injury. Though he skated yesterday for the first time as he rehabs his injury, he will miss at least the first 10 games of the season. Meanwhile, team captain Alex Ovechkin remains day-to-day with a lower-body injury but took to the ice for the club’s optional skate on Tuesday.

THE WASHINGTON POST: Speaking of Ovechkin and Backstrom, they starred in a new commercial for MassMutual.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a funny commercial with Backstrom in a brief but memorable scene-stealing role.

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner left practice yesterday as a precautionary measure following a collision with Wayne Simmonds. He’ll be re-evaluated today.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers defensemen Ryan Ellis and Rasmus Ristolainen have missed several recent practices for “maintenance days.” That’s raising some concern over whether they’ll be in the lineup for their season opener on Friday against the Vancouver Canucks.

SPORTSNET 590’s Nick Kypreos took to Twitter reporting the NHL could be leaning toward suspending San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane under supplementary discipline as per Section 18-18a of the CBA. After serving a set number of games he could be cleared to resume his career. Meanwhile, Cap Friendly reports Kane’s $7 million cap hit currently doesn’t count against the Sharks cap space.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane is currently under two league investigations regarding allegations of spousal abuse and using a fake COVID-19 vaccination card.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets named Boone Jenner as their new captain.

WGR 550: Kyle Okposo and Zemgus Girgensons will split the captaincy of the Buffalo Sabres this season.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers winger Vitali Kravtsov refused assignment to their AHL affiliate in Hartford and could face suspension. His agent has also been given permission to speak to other teams to facilitate a trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kravtsov was projected as a potential third-line winger this season for the Rangers. He was the ninth overall pick in the 2018 NHL draft.

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks signed Alex Chiasson to a one-year, $750K contract. He earned a roster spot following a professional tryout offer.

THE ATHLETIC: The NHL set the escrow rate on players’ contracts at 17.2 percent for 2021-22.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is in line with the rates set in the CBA extension last year. The players owe the owners close to $1 billion as a result of the impact of the pandemic upon hockey-related revenue.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 8, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 8, 2021

A franchise record for Leafs’ goalie Jack Campbell, hat tricks for Leon Draisaitl and Kevin Fiala, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Toronto Maple Leafs’ goaltender Jack Campbell set a franchise record with his 10th consecutive win to hold off the Montreal Canadiens 3-2. Campbell made 32 saves while teammate Auston Matthews tallied his league-leading 28th goal of the season. Corey Perry scored twice for the Canadiens. The Leafs moved into first place in the league’s overall standings with 58 points as they hold a seven-point lead over the Edmonton Oilers for first in the Scotia North Division. The Canadiens remain in fourth with 43 points.

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell (NHL Images).

The Oilers, meanwhile, doubled up the Ottawa Senators 4-2 thanks to Leon Draisaitl’s hat trick. Draisaitl and Connor McDavid (three assists) each finished with four points on the night. The Oilers (50 points) hold a one-point lead over the third-place Winnipeg Jets.

A hat trick by Kevin Fiala (the first of his NHL career) powered the Minnesota Wild to an 8-3 drubbing of the Colorado Avalanche. Fiala finished with four points while Wild rookies Kirill Kapizov scored twice and collected an assist while Victor Rask and Jared Spurgeon each had three helpers. The Wild (50 points) snapped the Avalanche’s 15-game points streak and moved within two points of the second-place Vegas Golden Knights (52 points) in the Honda West Division.

Speaking of the Golden Knights, they dropped a 3-1 decision to the St. Louis Blues and remain four points back of the first-place Avalanche. Jordan Binnington made 50 saves and Vladimir Tarasenko netted his third goal of the season as the Blues (40 points) snapped a seven-game winless skid to move two points ahead of the San Jose Sharks into fifth place.

A three-goal outburst in the third period rallied the Los Angeles Kings over the Arizona Coyotes 4-3. The Coyotes remain in fourth place in the West with 43 points.

HEADLINES

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks have 21 players who’ve tested positive for COVID-19. As the cases spread among the team, the NHL remains committed to having the team complete its schedule. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league has a plan in place to allow the Canucks to complete the season.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild winger Zach Parise played his first game last night since March 22 after testing positive for COVID-19. He’s not fully convinced he had the coronavirus as he didn’t feel any symptoms.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars coach Rick Bowness rejoined his team in Chicago after a false positive COVID-19 test forced him into quarantine for the past two games.

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs’ winger William Nylander was held out of last night’s game against the Montreal Canadiens as a precaution after coming in contact with a potential positive COVID-19 case from outside the team.

Montreal Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher has been placed on long-term injury reserve as he’s expected to be sidelined at least six weeks with a fractured thumb.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will allow the Canadiens to exceed the cap by almost the equivalent of Gallagher’s $3.75 million cap hit if they decide to acquire another player before the 3 pm ET trade deadline on Monday.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets captain Blake Wheeler has been sidelined indefinitely by a concussion. It’s believed he suffered the injury after being elbowed in the head by Ottawa’s Brady Tkachuk during Monday’s game between the Jets and Senators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a big loss for the Jets. Wheeler usually skates at right wing on their top line though of late he’s also played on their second line. He’s fourth among their scorers with 10 goals and 32 points.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets forward Boone Jenner is out for six weeks with a broken finger.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A significant blow for the struggling Blue Jackets as they try to stay in playoff contention in the Discover Central Division. Jenner’s a big, hard-working forward who can play center or wing. They’ll miss his energy and physical game.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues winger Mike Hoffman was a healthy scratch from last night’s game against the Golden Knights. Head coach Craig Berube denied it has anything to do with his trade status, claiming it was his decision to put Sammy Blais into the lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hoffman’s come up in recent days as a trade candidate with the Blues’ playoff hopes fading. He could be playing elsewhere by Monday’s deadline.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks purchased AHL affiliate Rockford IceHogs and signed a new 15-year lease with the club’s arena.