The Buffalo Sabres: When 2021 Feels Worse Than 2015
The Penguins down the Capitals, the Golden Knights edge the Avalanche, plus the latest injury and COVID protocol list updates in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Bryan Rust scored two goals and collected an assist as the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Washington Capitals 6-3. Jake Guentzel also had a three-point performance (one goal, two assists) while Sidney Crosby had a goal and an assist.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crosby also set a new milestone, surpassing Hall of Famer Al MacInnis for the most points (1,275) by a Nova Scotia-born NHL player.
Marc-Andre Fleury turned in a 30-save shutout as the Vegas Golden Knights blanked the Colorado Avalanche 1-0. Max Pacioretty tallied the game’s only goal. It was the Avalanche’s first game since their schedule was postponed on Feb. 4 for COVID-19 protocols.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury now has 473 career victories, sitting just 11 behind Ed Belfour for fourth on the all-time list. His 63 shutouts place him one back of Henrik Lundqvist for 16th all-time.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning captain Steven Stamkos came off the NHL’s COVID protocol list yesterday after it was determined his first test was a false positive. He remains sidelined with a lower-body injury.
WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres coach Ralph Krueger and defenseman Rasmus Dahlin came off the protocol list yesterday. Krueger, who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month, joined the Sabres on the ice for a few minutes during yesterday’s practice. He isn’t sure if he’ll be behind the bench for their game today against the New York Islanders. The Sabres haven’t played since Jan. 31 due to COVID protocols.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers still have seven players on the protocol list. Travis Sanheim came off the list yesterday but winger Travis Konecny was added to it. The Flyers’ next scheduled game is Thursday against the New York Rangers, after which they’re slated to fly to Lake Tahoe for an outdoor game against the Boston Bruins on Sunday.
TORONTO STAR: Joe Thornton returns to the Maple Leafs lineup tonight against the Ottawa Senators after missing 10 games with a rib injury.
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Jets center Pierre-Luc Dubois (lower-body injury) will miss tonight’s game against the Edmonton Oilers.
STLTODAY.COM: Blues winger Jaden Schwartz is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury. He joins Vladimir Tarasenko (shoulder surgery), Tyler Bozak (upper body, likely concussion), Robert Thomas (broken hand) and Sammy Blais (undisclosed) on the sidelines.
THE MERCURY NEWS: San Jose Sharks defenseman Radim Simek (upper body) on injured reserve.
Bruins take a commanding 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Final, Leafs re-sign Brendan Shanahan, Sabres to name Raph Kruger as head coach. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Tuukka Rask made 35 saves as his Boston Bruins edged the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1, taking a commanding 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Final. Chris Wagner and Brad Marchand scored for the Bruins while Calvin de Haan replied for the Hurricanes. Game 4 goes tomorrow night in Raleigh at 8 pm ET.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes had their best game of this series. They controlled most of the play, generated plenty of scoring opportunities and were the more physical of the two clubs. They also got a steady effort from backup goalie Curtis McElhinney. But it wasn’t enough to beat Rask, who was outstanding in this game.
The Hurricanes also missed about half-a-dozen glorious scoring chances and failed to cash in on the power play. They now find themselves on the verge of getting swept out of the Conference Final.
NBC SPORTS: Wagner suffered an injured right arm after blocking a shot in the third period. His arm was in a sling following the game and he’ll get x-rays to determine the severity of the injury.
TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs yesterday announced clubs president Brendan Shanahan signed a six-year contract extension.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Color me unsurprised by this news. Under Shanahan’s stewardship, the Leafs rose from one of the worst teams in the league into one of the best during the regular season.
WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres are today expected to announce they’ve hired Ralph Kruger as their new head coach. Krueger was the head coach of the Edmonton Oilers in 2012-13.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Apart from coaching Team Europe in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, Krueger’s been out of the game for a while. For the past five years, he was chairman of the Southhampton Football Club in the English Premier League. However, he’s a highly-regarded hockey coach. Many Oilers followers believe their club made a big mistake firing Krueger after only one season.
THE ATHLETIC: George Richards reports Columbus Blue Jackets teammates Sergei Bobrovsky and Artemi Panarin are vacationing in South Florida. Bobrovsky insists the trip is merely a post-playoff holiday. Rumors link the duo to the Florida Panthers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The trip prompted speculation this foreshadows their anticipated signings with the Panthers on July 1. The duo remains the property of the Blue Jackets until then.
THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic said he’d prefer re-signing winger Mikko Rantanen to a long-term contract. He also has no problem inking him to a short-term deal if necessary. Rantanen is completing an entry-level contract and could become the Avalanche’s highest-paid player.
TSN.CA: Buffalo Sabres defenseman Brandon Montour will miss the remainder of the World Championships with a lower-body injury. Playing for Canada, Montour suffered the injury during a 6-5 win over Slovakia on Monday.