The San Jose Sharks Facing Glum Future
Recaps of Thursday’s action, the league introduces enhanced COVID-19 protocols, two more Flyers are added to the protocol list and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Evgeni Malkin’s game-tying goal late in the third period set the stage for Sidney Crosby’s shootout winner as the Pittsburgh Penguins edged the New York Islanders 4-3. Penguins Bryan Rust had a goal and an assist while teammate Zach Aston-Reese scored in his first game since returning from offseason shoulder surgery.
The Florida Panthers picked up a 5-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning to snap the latter’s six-game winning streak. Alex Wennberg and Aaron Ekblad each tallied a goal and an assist for the Panthers, who were playing without winger Anthony Duclair as he was added to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. The Lightning played without captain Steven Stamkos, who’s day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers have 18 points (8-1-2) and sit one point behind the Lightning in the Central Division.
A four-goal third period rallied the Columbus Blue Jackets from a 4-2 deficit to nip the Chicago Blackhawks 6-5, ending the latter’s three-game win streak. Cam Atkinson scored and collected three assists while Jack Roslovic tallied twice. Blackhawks forwards Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat each had a goal and two assists. The Blackhawks played without Andrew Shaw as he suffered another concussion during Tuesday’s game against the Dallas Stars. They also learned defenseman Connor Murphy will miss 10-14 days with an injured right hip.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Shaw has a history of head injuries. It may be time for him to consider retirement rather than risk further serious injury by continuing his playing career. Roslovic, meanwhile, has four goals and nine points in eight games since being acquired from the Winnipeg Jets and now centers the Jackets’ top line.
The Nashville Predators ended a three-game losing skid by clipping the Detroit Red Wings 3-2. Dante Fabbro netted the game-winner in the final minute of the third period. Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm missed the game with an undisclosed injury and was placed on injured reserve.
Connor Hellebuyck made 41 saves backstopping the Winnipeg Jets over the Ottawa Senators 5-1, handing the latter their fourth straight defeat. The Senators also lost goalie Matt Murray as he left the game after two periods following a collision with teammate Nikita Zaitsev. More information about his condition could be released later today.
Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith made 38 saves for his 40th career shutout to blank the slumping Montreal Canadiens 3-0. Jujhar Khaira, Darnell Nurse and Tyson Barrie were the goal scorers. The start time for the game was pushed back an hour after Oilers winger Jesse Puljujarvi was held out of the game-day skate and placed on the COVID-19 protocol list. The game was allowed to proceed following rapid testing of his teammates.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens have returned to earth after their red-hot start. They’ve dropped three of their last four games and managed just six goals during that period. Opponents have neutralized the Habs’ offense by clogging the neutral zone and outworking them in their own zone. In recent years the Canadiens have started strong only to suffer setbacks during the second quarter of the schedule that leaves them struggling over the remainder of the season. Time will tell if the latest slump is a minor speed bump or the harbinger of yet another collapse.
The Carolina Hurricanes dumped the Dallas Stars 5-3 to hand the latter their four straight loss. Nino Niederreiter broke a 3-3 tie with a breakaway goal early in the third period. Jordan Staal and Sebastian Aho each had a goal and an assist for the Hurricanes. Stars defenseman Andrej Sekera returned to the lineup after spending a week on the COVID-19 protocol list while goalie Anton Khudobin played his first game after being scratched from Sunday’s game for missing Saturday’s practice.
Jacob Markstrom made 33 saves to give the Calgary Flames a 3-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks. Markstrom and teammates Chris Tanev and Josh Leivo were playing their first game in Vancouver since the former Canucks signed with the Flames last fall. Sean Monahan and Mark Giordano each collected two points for the Flames while the spiraling Canucks suffered their sixth straight defeat.
The Los Angeles Kings picked up their first win in six games by thumping the San Jose Sharks 6-2. Drew Doughty collected three assists for the Kings while Tomas Hertl scored both goals for the Sharks. Earlier in the day, the Sharks announced goaltender Devan Dubnyk was listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sharks coach Bob Boughner called out goalie Martin Jones following this game, saying his performance was “not up to our standard.” Jones (5-3-0) has been erratic, playing well in his victories and getting pulled early in each of his defeats this season.
Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson made 21 saves to shut out the Vegas Golden Knights 1-0. Max Comtois tallied the lone goal as Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (27 saves) suffered his first loss of the season. The Golden Knights played without netminder Robin Lehner, who’s listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
SPORTSNET: The NHL is adding game-day rapid testing for players, team personnel and on-ice officials as part of its expanded safety protocols in hope of stemming potential COVID-19 outbreaks.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The number of Flyers on the COVID-19 protocol list rose to five as Jakub Voracek and Morgan Frost were added on Thursday. The club’s next scheduled game is Feb. 18, after which they’re slated to travel to Nevada to face the Boston Bruins in an outdoor game at Lake Tahoe.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL could be forced to find a replacement for the Flyers in that game or postpone that contest and shift it to an indoor venue at a later date.
TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild are cleared to resume team activities today though 12 players remain on the protocol list. They are scheduled to return to action against the Kings on Tuesday.
ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes fired assistant general manager Steve Sullivan, adding they would not be seeking a replacement for him. Sullivan was interim GM after John Chayka left his role with the club last summer.
CBS SPORTS: A lower-body injury will sideline Boston Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk against the New York Rangers tonight.
STLTODAY.COM: Blues defenseman Scott Perunovich will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery today.
NHL.COM: Willie O’Ree’s number retirement ceremony has been rescheduled to Jan. 18, 2022, to allow for in-person attendance. A trailblazer for players of color, O’Ree was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a builder in 2018. He’ll become the 12th player in Bruins history to have his number retired.
Updates on Alex Pietrangelo, Patrik Laine and Dustin Byfuglien plus the latest on the Hurricanes and Sharks in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
STLTODAY.COM: In a recent live chat with Blues fans, Tom Timmermann said he’s leaning toward Alex Pietrangelo re-signing with the club. He feels the defenseman’s recent comments suggest he wants to stay in St. Louis and is trying to get the Blues to increase their offer. Timmermann believes eight years at $8 million annually is the starting point, but Pietrangelo wants more. He’s unsure if $9 million annually is possible under the current economic conditions in the free-agent market.
If Pietrangelo re-signs, Timmermann suggests Tyler Bozak and Alex Steen as the likely players to become cost-cutting casualties, but moving them won’t be easy. He feels teams would be more interested in winger Jaden Schwartz. Moving Schwartz in the offseason would fetch a better return than moving him at next season’s trade deadline.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin lists the Blues atop his list of five potential destinations for Pietrangelo. The Toronto Maple Leafs, Vegas Golden Knights, Calgary Flames and Florida Panthers are also on his list.
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Pierre LeBrun believes the Blues would be open to a sign-and-trade scenario if it appears they cannot repair negotiations. The incentive for interested teams is it would allow them to get Pietrangelo under contract for eight years instead of seven at potentially a lower annual average value, while the Blues could get a tangible asset in return instead of losing him for nothing to the free-agent market.
LeBrun doubts teams will part with a first-round pick to get Pietrangelo. Interested parties would also have to be able to negotiate a contract with the blueliner’s agent. He also lists the Leafs, Golden Knights, Flames and Panthers on his list of possible suitors.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sign-and-trade deals rarely occur because they’re difficult to pull off. Sticking points include the losing team’s asking price and how much of a raise the player seeks on his new contract. We can’t rule out the possibility of a sign-and-trade but I think it’s a long shot.
As for those interested clubs, the Leafs and Golden Knights have limited cap space so they’ll have to shed salary to make this work. The Golden Knights must also decide whether to re-sign goaltender Robin Lehner and what to do with Marc-Andre Fleury if they get Lehner under contract.
The Flames have the cap space but LeBrun points out they must also address their goaltending and perhaps add a winger. The Panthers are said to be cutting payroll but they must bolster their blueline depth. Whether Pietrangelo would be interested in signing with them is another matter.
LAINE AND BYFUGLIEN
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman acknowledged the recent trade speculation swirling about Patrik Laine. He doesn’t think the 22-year-old Winnipeg Jets winger has requested a trade. Friedman feels the Jets are just looking at this situation to see if using Laine would address their need for a No. 2 center or a right-hand shot defenseman.
Friedman also said it’s unlikely former Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien will play next season. Teams have contacted his agent, including the Minnesota Wild because of his ties to the state. Friedman feels the Wild would have the best chance but his agent said it’s doubtful Byfuglien will play again.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Could Laine get traded? Sure. Will he? That’s not a certainty. As talented as the young winger is and as much upside as he still has, it could be difficult for the Jets to find a return of equal value. It doesn’t hurt for general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff to explore his options, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to trade Laine
As I mentioned yesterday, Laine’s contract status could be a factor. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer who’ll seek a considerable raise over his current annual cap hit of $6.75 million. Whether the Jets can afford that could determine his future in Winnipeg.
Byfuglien may have reached the point where his body can’t handle the wear-and-tear of a long NHL season. He’s 35, coming off ankle surgery and was hampered by nagging injuries during his last two seasons. Perhaps he’s decided he’s had enough.
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Sara Civian recently listed goaltending trade and free-agent options for the Carolina Hurricanes. Arizona’s Darcy Kuemper, Vegas’ Marc-Andre Fleury and Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray were among her suggested trade targets, while her free-agent choices included Vancouver’s Jacob Markstrom, Vegas’ Robin Lehner, and Washington’s Braden Holtby.
THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Luke DeCock reports the Hurricanes are leaving the door open for winger Justin Williams if he’s willing to return, but they’re also progressing ahead as if their former captain will retire.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes have plenty of options if they seek to upgrade their goaltending. The question is, will they? Affordability works in favor of their current tandem of Petr Mrazek and James Reimer, who earn a combined $6.525 million next season.
No buyouts coming for the Sharks, per a league source. Really, the only candidate they had for a buyout was Martin Jones. Expect him back next season with another goalie TBD.
— Kevin Kurz (@KKurzNHL) September 25, 2020
The Lightning down the Blue Jackets in a five-overtime marathon. Check out the details in the recaps of the opening round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning needed five overtime periods to edge the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 in Game 1 of their opening-round playoff series. Brayden Point tallied the winner at 10:27 of the fifth-overtime period, marking the fourth-longest game in NHL history, lasting over six hours and 13 minutes. The goal was Point’s second of the game. Pierre-Luc Dubois had a goal and an assist for the Jackets.
— Here’s Your Replay ⬇️ (@TheReplayGuy) August 12, 2020
The two teams combined for a record 151 shots, with the Lightning firing a record 88. Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo set a record with 85 saves while Bolts netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy kicked out 61. Jackets defenseman Seth Jones also set a record for minutes-played by a skater, logging 65 minutes and six seconds of ice time.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That was the most entertaining multiple overtime game I’ve seen since the Buffalo Sabres edged the New Jersey Devils 1-0 in Game 6 of their 1994 Eastern Conference quarterfinal series. These types of games usually turn into long, dull defensive slogs with few quality scoring chances. Not this game. Every period was fast-paced and exciting, with the Lightning having the bulk of the offensive opportunities. A tough loss for the Jackets, who’ll have little time to recover before Game 2 tomorrow.
Because of the length of the Lighting-Blue Jackets game, the NHL rescheduled Game 1 between the Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes to 11 am ET today.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the right call by the league. It reportedly would’ve taken nearly two hours following the end of the Bolts-Jackets game to clean the dressing rooms and players benches and to prepare the ice surface for the Bruins and Hurricanes.
Rasmus Andersson’s second-period goal proved to be the game-winner as the Calgary Flames held off the Dallas Stars 3-2 in Game 1 of their opening-round playoff series. Dillon Dube scored twice as the Flames jumped to a 2-0 lead but the Stars tied it on goals by Denis Gurianov and Jamie Benn nine seconds apart. Stars defenseman Stephen Johns left the game in the second period and is listed as “unfit to play.” Stars center Tyler Seguin was held without a shot.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dube had a heck of a game for the Flames, especially with his second goal that looked like a Pavel Bure special. Teammate Milan Lucic is also playing well, picking up his fifth point (1-4-5) in as many games.
Reilly Smith scored twice and collected an assist to lead the Vegas Golden Knights over the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1 in Game 1 of their opening-round series.
WINNIPEG SUN: Jets center Mark Scheifele said he doesn’t believe Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk deliberately intended to injure him in Game 1 of their qualifying-round series. Scheifele suffered an injury to the back of his leg following a collision with Tkachuk, who reached out to the Jets center explaining he was skating too fast and lost control as he approached Scheifele along the boards.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jets coach Paul Maurice had thought otherwise, accusing Tkachuk of a dirty hit and doubling down a day later. It was obvious, however, that the collision was accidental. I think Tkachuk got a bad rap here because of his well-earned reputation for questionable tactics. If it had been Tkachuk’s teammate Johnny Gaudreau colliding with Scheifele, nobody would’ve thought it was dirty.
CBS SPORTS: Edmonton Oilers forward Tyler Ennis suffered a fractured leg and ligament damage near his ankle during an Aug. 5 game against the Chicago Blackhawks. He’s expected to be recovered in time for the 2020-21 season, but it might not be with the Oilers. Ennis is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
STLTODAY.COM: Blues forward Ivan Barbashev is expected to rejoin his teammates in Edmonton on Friday after traveling to St. Louis to be with his wife during the birth of his son.
Hearing that the Habs have given permission to Florida to speak with AGM Scott Mellanby.
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) August 11, 2020