Bruins take 2-0 series lead over the Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Final. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Boston Bruins took a 2-0 series lead over the Carolina Hurricanes with a 6-2 beatdown in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final. Matt Grzelcyk scored two goals while Charlie Coyle and Torey Krug each collected three assists. Game 3 goes Tuesday night in Raleigh.
Boston Bruins forward Charlie Coyle collected three assists in a 6-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final (Photo via NHL Images)
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins dominated this game from start to finish. Their roster depth is well on display in this series. They’ve controlled the play of this series since the third period of Game 1. Even Brad Marchand’s agitating antics are going the Bruins’ way, as he suckered Hurricanes captain Jason Williams into a retaliatory penalty.
This game got out of reach for the Hurricanes early in the second period. Down 2-0 and with Bruins center Patrice Bergeron off for tripping, the Hurricanes failed to generate any offense with the man advantage. Soon after the penalty expired, Connor Clifton scored and the rout was on. By the time the Canes finally got on the scoreboard in the third period, it was far too late to change the outcome.
STLTODAY.COM: The St. Louis Blues need a better effort from sniper Vladimir Tarasenko in Game 2 of their Western Conference Final against the San Jose Sharks. Tarasenko managed just one shot on goal during the Blues 6-3 loss to the Sharks in Game 1.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tarasenko’s teammates and Blues coach Craig Berube were quick to defend his performance, but he went largely unnoticed in Game 1. It’ll be interesting to see how he responds in Game 2.
THE SCORE: Former Edmonton Oilers coach Ralph Krueger is reportedly a candidate for the vacant head-coaching job with the Buffalo Sabres.
Latest on the Maple Leafs, Senators, Islanders, Blackhawks and more in today’s NHL rumor roundup.
LEAFS SHOPPING FOR A DEFENSEMAN
SPORTSNET: Nick Kypreos reports the Toronto Maple Leafs are searching for a right-shot defenseman. He brought up Alex Pietrangelo of the St. Louis Blues, who was first mentioned in trade speculation a couple of months ago.
While it’s debatable if Pietrangelo’s still available, Kypreos speculated they could be a few losing streaks away from making him available. Pursuing a top-four rearguard will be expensive.
Possible trade chips could include their 2019 first-round pick or prospects such as Timothy Liljegren or Calle Rosen. The Leafs aren’t willing to part with winger Kasperi Kapanen or 2018 first-round pick Rasmus Sandin.
Elliotte Friedman suggested the Leafs consider such options as Jake Muzzin of the Los Angeles Kings or Radko Gudas of the Philadelphia Flyers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Pietrangelo becomes available (and that might not happen until June at the earliest), Kapanen and Sandin would probably be the Blues’ asking price. Muzzin is a left-shot defenseman so he can’t address that right-shot need. Gudas shoots right and would provide some grit to their blueline but he’s skating on the Flyers’ third defense pairing. The Leafs could be seeking someone with a better right-side presence than Gudas.
Ottawa Senators reportedly make an eight-year contract offer to center Matt Duchene (Photo via NHL Images)
SENATORS MAKE OFFER TO DUCHENE
SPORTSNET: Nick Kypreos reports the Ottawa Senators made an offer to center Matt Duchene believed to be in the vicinity of $64 million over eight years. The annual average value would be $8 million, which Kypreos deems a fair offer for Duchene. He also speculated there could be a soft deadline to this. If the two sides fail to reach an agreement soon, Kypreos believes Senators general manager Pierre Dorion will need at least two weeks to shop Duchene before the Feb. 25 trade deadline to get the best return possible.
Elliotte Friedman believes the Senators also made an offer to pending UFA winger Mark Stone. He’s not certain of the salary numbers but assumed they could be higher than Duchene’s.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eight years and $64 million may seem like a fair offer for Duchene but does his camp feel the same way? They could decide he might get more via free agency.
ISLANDERS COULD BE DEADLINE BUYERS
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks wouldn’t be shocked if New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello became a buyer as the Feb. 25 trade deadline approaches. While no one knows what the famously tight-lipped Lamoriello has in store, Brooks noted he has a history of making moves near the deadline when he believes his team is close.
Lamoriello has a collection of young assets he could peddle near the trade deadline. Brooks speculates his rental targets might include Matt Duchene or Mark Stone of the Senators, or maybe a defenseman such as Jake Muzzin or Alec Martinez of the Kings.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders are the biggest surprise of this season. After losing John Tavares to Toronto via free agency, they were expected to finish near the bottom of the standings. Instead, they begin this week sitting atop the Metropolitan Division.
As Brooks points out, we don’t know what Lamoriello’s plans are or who he might target if he does decide to be active in the trade market. But I think he’ll do what he can to improve his club’s playoff odds.
COULD AVALANCHE PURSUE HAYES?
DENVER POST: Mark Kiszla believes the Colorado Avalanche should pursue New York Rangers center Kevin Hayes, suggesting it can be done without mortgaging the future. GM Joe Sakic holds two first-round picks in this year’s draft, one of them a lottery-protected selection from the Ottawa Senators. Kiszla suggests Sakic offer up the Avs first-rounder to the Rangers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It would certainly be a bold move by Sakic to pursue Hayes. He has to do something, however, to bolster his club’s secondary scoring depth. Already guaranteed of a high pick in this year’s draft, perhaps even the first-overall selection, Sakic can afford to dangle his own first-rounder to bring in a reliable second-line scorer.
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Scott Powers reports a league source claims the Chicago Blackhawks are shopping forwards Marcus Kruger, Chris Kunitz, and Andreas Martinsen. Kruger could attract interest from clubs seeking checking-line depth. Powers also recently examined the pros and cons of trading defenseman Erik Gustafsson. If they move Gustafsson, he could fetch a third-round pick.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kruger, Kunitz, and Martinson are all due for UFA status this summer. Kruger has a seven-team no-trade list while Kunitz has a full no-movement clause. Each could fetch a draft pick but probably nothing higher than a third.
Game recaps, injury updates, Sabres to terminate Patrik Berglund’s contract, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Sidney Crosby had a goal and an assist and goaltender Matt Murray made 31 saves as the Pittsburgh Penguins edged the Washington Capitals 2-1. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin saw his 15-game point streak come to an end. Washington winger Tom Wilson knocked Penguins defenseman Jamie Oleksiak out of the game with three punches during a first-period fight between the two. An update on Oleksiak’s status is expected today.
Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby had a goal and an assist in a 2-1 win over the Washington Capitals (Photo via NHL Images).
Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog gave the Colorado Avalanche a 2-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens. Habs goalie Carey Price’s ill-timed pass across his crease led to Rantanen’s game-tying goal. On a plus note for the Canadiens, they got a rare power-play goal.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: The Sabres yesterday placed center Patrik Berglund on unconditional waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract. He was recently suspended by the club for failing to report but there have been few details from either side regarding the situation. Berglund has three years remaining on his contract worth an annual average value of $3.85 million but that will be removed from their cap payroll once his contract is terminated.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHLPA could intervene on Berglund’s behalf, though his refusal to report gives the Sabres justification to end his contract.
NBC SPORTS: After a slow start with the San Jose Sharks, defenseman Erik Karlsson is getting his offensive groove back. With seven assists in his last six games, he now has 23 points in 35 contests.
DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars defenseman John Klingberg will return tonight from a six-week absence (broken hand) to face the Chicago Blackhawks.
THE SCORE: Los Angeles Kings winger Ilya Kovalchuk is expected to return from ankle surgery on Saturday to face the Sharks.
THE DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings starting goaltender Jimmy Howard will return to action tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes. Howard hurt his back during warmups prior to Tuesday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers.
ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes general manager John Chayka said starting goaltender Antti Raanta (lower-body injury) could miss the remainder of the season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Raanta’s been out since Nov. 27. The Coyotes are 5-6-0 in his absence.
LAS VEGAS SUN: The Vegas Golden Knights placed winger Max Pacioretty (leg injury) on injured reserved and called up Brandon Pirri.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Marcus Kruger became the third Blackhawks to be placed on IR with a concussion within the last 10 days. Artem Anisimov recently returned but goalie Corey Crawford remains sidelined.
EDMONTON SUN: Oilers forward Jujhar Khaira received a two-game suspension for a cross-check to the head of St. Louis Blues defenseman Vince Dunn on Tuesday. Dunn received a $1,942.20 fine by the league for cross-checking Khaira.
SPORTSNET: Ottawa’s National Capital Commission “is moving to terminate a development deal with Rendez-Vous LeBreton Group, which includes Senators owner Eugene Melnyk, in the wake of bitter legal infighting within the development group.” Melnyk and business partner John Ruddy have filed lawsuits against each other.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As long as Melnyk is the Senators’ owner, the club seems to have little chance of getting a new downtown arena.
Game recaps, injury updates, Senators owner sued, and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NOTE: The NHL holiday “trade freeze” period begins at 11:59 PM ET on Dec. 19 and expires at 11:59 PM ET on Dec. 27.
NHL.COM: Philadelphia Flyers rookie goaltender Carter Hart got the win in his first career NHL game and was named the game star as he backstopped his club to a 3-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. The Wings played without starting goalie Jimmy Howard as he hurt his back during the pre-game warm-up. No word as to how long he could be sidelined.
Philadelphia Flyers rookie goaltender Carter Hart got his first NHL win in a 3-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings (Photo via NHL Images)
Meanwhile, Flyers center Jori Lehtera will reportedly face criminal prosecution in his native Finland regarding his alleged connection to a cocaine ring. Lehtera’s summer cottage was raided during the summer while he was away and seven people arrested. He has denied any involvement with the ring and isn’t considered among the main suspects in the case.
Center Nazem Kadri collected three assists while teammates Auston Matthews and John Tavares each had a goal and an assist as the Toronto Maple Leafs crushed the New Jersey Devils 7-2. Tyler Ennis also tallied twice for the Leafs.
The Tampa Bay Lightning extended their points streak to 10 games with a 5-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks. Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy turned aside 36 shots. The Canucks also announced prospect defenseman Olli Juolevi will miss the remainder of the season following knee surgery.
The Chicago Blackhawks picked up their second win in 12 games by edging the Nashville Predators 2-1. Gustav Forsling and Erik Gustafsson scored while goaltender Cam Ward made 30 saves. Blackhawks center Marcus Kruger suffered a concussion following an inadvertent elbow to the head from Predators forward Ryan Hartman and is expected to miss their next two games. The Hawks also loaned defenseman Henri Jokiharju to Finland for the upcoming World Junior Hockey Championships.
The Florida Panthers scored four unanswered third-period goals to defeat the Buffalo Sabres 5-2. Panthers winger Evgenii Dadonov scored twice and set up another.
Three unanswered third-period goals powered the New York Rangers to a 3-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. Kevin Hayes picked up the game-winner with a shorthanded breakaway.
Goaltender Martin Jones made 26 saves as the San Jose Sharks blanked the Minnesota Wild 4-0. Logan Couture scored twice as the Sharks picked up their fifth consecutive victory.
Dallas Stars netminders Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin combined for a 24-save 2-0 shutout over the Calgary Flames. Bishop briefly left the game in the second period following a collision with Flames forward Garnet Hathaway but returned for the third period. Flames winger James Neal missed the game with an upper-body injury.
Jaden Schwartz scored and set up another as the St. Louis Blues tallied three unanswered third-period goals to down the Edmonton Oilers 4-1. Oilers captain Connor McDavid had his points streak end at nine games. Oilers forward Jujhar Khaira received a match penalty for hitting Blues defenseman Vince Dunn in the head midway through the third period.
New York Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss kicked out 36 shots in a 3-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes. Isles winger Joshua Ho-Sang netted his first goal of the season.
The Los Angeles Kings snapped a four-game losing skid by beating the Winnipeg Jets 4-1, ending the latter’s five-game win streak. Austin Wagner scored twice for the Kings.
OTTAWA SUN: Senators owner Eugene Melnyk has been hit with a $1 billion countersuit from business partner John Ruddy regarding a failed bid to construct a new downtown arena. Melnyk has already filed a $700 million suit against Ruddy.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Melnyk fiddles, the Senators burn. Attendance is reportedly down by 1,000 fans compared to this time a year ago, averaging 14, 335 fans through 18 home games this season.
Hanley clears. Last day of waivers before freeze…is Smith (BOS) and Wilson (PIT)
Game recaps, Joe Thornton reaches another milestone, plus updates on Tuukka Rask, Shea Weber, and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Joe Thornton reached another milestone in his long career by scoring the game-winning goal as the San Jose Sharks downed the Nashville Predators 5-4. It was Thornton’s 400th career goal. Teammates Erik Karlsson also reached a milestone by collecting his 400th career NHL assist. Joe Pavelski scored twice for the Sharks while Filip Forsberg also tallied two goals for the Predators.
Taylor Hall’s four-point performance led the New Jersey Devils to a 4-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. (Photo via NHL Images)
Taylor Hall factored in all his team’s goals (two goals, two assists) as the New Jersey Devils snapped a three-game losing skid by doubling up the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2. With just 17 points in 16 games, the Penguins have slid toward the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
Two goals by Tom Kuhnhackl helped the New York Islanders break a three-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Isles forward Cal Clutterbuck tallied his first goal in 52 games.
Mike Hoffman tied a Florida Panthers’ record by extending his points streak to 13 games as his club edged the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1. Hoffman had an assist in the Panthers’ game-opening goal.
The Buffalo Sabres picked up their third straight win by squeezing past the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1. Jeff Skinner and Kyle Opkoso tallied for the Sabres.
Six unanswered goals powered the Detroit Red Wings to a 6-1 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. Mike Green scored and added two assists. With four straight wins, the Wings’ now have a .500 record with 18 points in as many games.
Earlier in the day, the Coyotes announced that defenseman Jakob Chychrun had agreed to a six-year contract extension beginning next season. The annual average value will be $4.6 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chychrun, 20, is in the final season of his entry-level contract. He’s shown considerable potential over the past two NHL campaigns, though his injury history is a little worrisome. If he can stay reasonably healthy over the next seven seasons he has the all-around ability to become a reliable top-two blueliner for the Coyotes. Should Chychrun reach his full potential, general manager John Chayka will look like a genius for locking the young rearguard into a long-term deal for an affordable price.
After having his 20-game suspension reduced to 14 games, Tom Wilson scored in his return as the Washington Capitals defeated the Minnesota Wild 5-2. Dmitry Orlov also scored twice for the Capitals.
The Edmonton Oilers ended a four-game losing skid in grand style by thumping the Montreal Canadiens 6-2. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl led the way with three points each. The Canadiens did get some good news as sidelined captain Shea Weber could return from offseason knee surgery as early as late-November.
John Tavares extended his points streak to six games with a goal and two assists in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 5-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Nazem Kadri netted two power-play goals for the Leafs.
BOSTON HERALD: Goaltender Tuukka Rask has returned to the Bruins roster following a brief leave of absence to deal with a personal matter.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Vegas Golden Knights have placed forward Erik Haula (lower-body, possible right-knee injury) on injured reserve.
TSN: Winnipeg Jets forward Mathieu Perreault left practice yesterday with a lower-body injury.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: The Blackhawks placed forward Marcus Kruger on injured reserve and recalled defenseman Gustav Forsling.
CBS SPORTS: The Carolina Hurricanes sent forward Valentin Zykov to their AHL affiliate in Charlotte on a two-week conditioning stint. Meanwhile, the Columbus Blue Jackets placed Adam Clendening on waivers.
THE SCORE: Former NHL player Dan Carcillo said he won’t opt into the proposed concussion lawsuit settlement between the NHL and NHLPA. “Carcillo, for his part, has decided to opt out, saying he wants the NHL to admit liability for failing to sufficiently protect the health of the league’s players.”
Lightning and Golden Knights on verge of advancing to the Conference Finals. Brad Marchand’s face-licking fetish creates a stir. Details and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Dan Girardi’s overtime goal gave the Tampa Bay Lightning a 4-3 victory over the Boston Bruins in Game 4 of their second-round series. With the win, the Lightning hold a 3-1 series lead and have an opportunity to conclude the series in Tampa Bay on Sunday.
The face-licking antics of Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand could soon be coming to a end. (Photo via NHL Images)
The game, however, was overshadowed by questionable officiating, including a missed call on the Lightning’s Nikita Kucherov for knocking over Boston defenseman Charlie McAvoy in the third period that led to Steven Stamkos’ game-tying goal. Drawing the most attention was Bruins winger Brad Marchand licking Tampa Bay’s Ryan Callahan on the face in the first period.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t know why people are so upset about the lousy postseason officiating. After all, we really shouldn’t so surprised. Fans and pundits have complained about it for years and it’s only gotten worse. Here’s live footage of the league addressing the most recent complaints:
As for Marchand’s latest antics, yes, it’s disgusting, unsportsmanlike and should be considered akin to spitting in an opponent’s face. I don’t doubt the league will actually crack down on that.
The Vegas Golden Knights held off a third-period rally by the San Jose Sharks for a 5-3 victory in Game 5 of their second-round series. Vegas holds a 3-2 series lead and can wrap things up in Game 6 on Sunday in San Jose. At one point, the Golden Knights held a 4-0 lead thanks to two goals by winger Alex Tuch, chasing Sharks netminder Martin Jones from the game after he gave up four goals on 31 shots. Logan Couture collected three assists in a losing cause for San Jose.
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Penguins captain Sidney Crosby delivered a new set of hockey equipment to a seven-year-old fan whose family lost their possessions in a recent house fire.
NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Changes could be coming to the Capitals lineup for Game 5 tonight against the Penguins in Washington after the top line of Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Devante Smith-Pelly was held goalless in the previous game. Ovechkin and Smith-Pelly failed to register a shot on goal in that contest. The series is tied at two games apiece.
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Now healthy, Jets forward Mathieu Perreault is hoping to return to the lineup in Game 5 after being held out of the previous game.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Jets having dropped Game 5, Perreault might get his wish.
THE TENNESSEAN: Five-year-old heart recipient Caleb Daniels will get the opportunity to toss a catfish onto the ice in Game 5 of the Nashville Predators-Winnipeg Jets series today at Bridgestone Arena.
TSN: Arizona Coyotes center Marcus Kruger revealed he spent this season playing with a sports hernia before undergoing surgery last month. The Coyotes acquired Kruger on Thursday from the Carolina Hurricanes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That explains Kruger’s on-ice struggles this season. He managed just six points in 48 games and spent 19 games in the AHL.