NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 8, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 8, 2021

Recaps of Sunday’s action plus the latest injury and COVID-19 updates and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Scott Laughton tallied his first career NHL hat trick while a returning Sean Couturier scored twice and added an assist as the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Washington Capitals 7-4. Joel Farabee collected three assists for the Flyers. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin scored twice and set up two others while Tom Wilson had a four-point game.

Philadelphia Flyers forward Scott Laughton (NHL Images).

Before the game, Flyers defenseman Travis Sanheim entered the league’s COVID-19 protocol list, resulting in rapid testing of both clubs. Once those tests returned negative the game was allowed to proceed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL and NHLPA are reportedly looking into implementing more rapid testing league-wide in hope of flattening the rising COVID-19 curve among the teams. The Buffalo Sabres, Colorado Avalanche, Minnesota Wild and New Jersey Devils are currently sidelined because a number of their players are on the COVID protocol list.

A third-period goal by Chandler Stephenson lifted the Vegas Golden Knights to a 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings. Stephenson scored twice while teammate Zach Whitecloud tallied his first NHL regulation goal. Kings’ rookie Jaret Anderson-Dolan netted his first career NHL goal. The Kings played without forward Martin Frk as he was unavailable due to a lower-body injury.

Alex DeBrincat scored twice, including the winner in overtime, as the Chicago Blackhawks edged the Dallas Stars 2-1. Patrick Kane had two assists and Malcolm Subban kicked out 31 shots for the win.

The Detroit Red Wings upset the Florida Panthers 4-1, handing the latter their first regulation loss of the season. Wings forward Givani Smith had a Gordie Howe hat trick with a goal, an assist and a fight with Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad following Smith’s hit to the head of Panthers’ blueliner MacKenzie Weegar. No word if Smith will face supplemental discipline. Wings forward Anthony Mantha was a healthy scratch from this contest.

A controversial offside call in the second period overshadowed the Carolina Hurricanes 6-5 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Officials overruled an offside challenge by the Jackets on a goal by Hurricanes center Vincent Trocheck and assessed the Jackets a bench penalty. The officials subsequently decided the play was offside after all and waved off the final 45 seconds of the Hurricanes power-play but still allowed Trocheck’s goal to stand.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Usually outspoken Jackets coach John Tortorella declined to offer his opinion following the game. “You know what? I’m gonna let the league explain it,” said Tortorella. Jackets winger Patrick Laine, who scored twice in the game, didn’t shy away from expressing his view. “I think that’s the biggest joke I’ve ever seen,” said Laine.

HEADLINES

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres forwards Dylan Cozens, Curtis Lazar and Casey Mittelstadt joined teammates Taylor Hall, Rasmus Ristolainen, Brandon Montour, Tobias Rieder and Jake McCabe on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list.

STARTRIBUNE.COM: Minnesota Wild defenseman Brad Hunt joined teammates Nick Bjugstad, Nick Bonino, Ian Cole, Joel Eriksson Ek, Marcus Foligno, Marcus Johansson, Jared Spurgeon and Nico Sturm on the COVID protocol list.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs winger Wayne Simmonds could be sidelined up to six weeks after getting hit in the hand with a shot during Saturday’s game against the Vancouver Canucks.

SPORTSNET: The Leafs signed forward Scott Sabourin to a one-year, two-way contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabourin signing is a further indication Simmonds could miss significant time.

SPORTSNET: The Edmonton Oilers activated goaltender Mike Smith off long-term injury reserve.

TSN: San Jose Sharks defenseman Radim Simek was fined $5,000.00 for spearing Anaheim Ducks forward Adam Henrique during Saturday’s game between the two clubs.

FOX SPORTS MIDWEST: The St. Louis Blues activated defenseman Robert Bortuzzo off injured reserved, placed winger Robert Thomas (broken thumb) on IR and recalled winger Jacob de la Rose.

NHL.COM: Former NHL forward Ralph Backstrom died Sunday at age 83 following a lengthy illness. Backstrom won the Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year in 1959 and won six Stanley Cups with the Montreal Canadiens. He tallied 278 goals and 639 points in 1, 032 NHL games with the Canadiens, Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks, as well as 214 points in 234 games in the WHA.

Backstrom went on to coach the University of Denver, scouted for the St. Louis Blues and founded the Colorado Eagles, now the AHL farm club of the Colorado Avalanche.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Backstrom lived a full, productive life in hockey and the game is better for it. My condolences to his family, friends, teammates and associates.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 30, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 30, 2021

The Blue Jackets edged the Blackhawks plus the latest on Patrik Laine, Kevin Fiala, Travis Zajac, Sam Reinhart and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

Columbus Blue Jackets forward Oliver Bjorkstrand (NHL Images)

  NHL.COM: The Columbus Blue Jackets held off the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1 to extend their points streak to seven games (4-0-3). Oliver Bjorkstrand had a goal and an assist while Joonas Korpisalo made 31 saves for the win. Dylan Strome replied for the Blackhawks.

SPORTSNET: Speaking of the Blue Jackets, winger Patrik Laine arrived in Columbus on Friday and could debut with the Jackets on Tuesday. Laine and Jack Roslovic were traded to Columbus last Saturday by the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for Pierre-Luc Dubois and a draft pick.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala received a three-game suspension for a dangerous hit on Los Angeles Kings defenseman Matt Roy on Thursday. Speaking of the Wild, Marco Rossi has returned to his native Austria to rehab an upper-body injury. The ninth overall pick in the 2020 draft, the 19-year-old center is expected to rejoin the Wild in six weeks.

NORTHJERSEY.COM: New Jersey Devils center Travis Zajac was placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocols list on Friday. He’s just two games from becoming the fourth player in Devils history to play 1,000 career games.

TSN: Buffalo Sabres winger Sam Reinhart is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Kings added center Blake Lizotte to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list on Friday.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes forwards Teuvo Teravainen, Jordan Martinook and Warren Foegele came off the COVID-19 protocol list on Friday.

LAS VEGAS SUN: The Golden Knights’ next two games (Monday and Wednesday) against the San Jose Sharks have been postponed. Four members of the Golden Knights, including three coaches, are currently in isolation after one coach tested positive for COVID-19.

CALGARY SUN: The Flames held a players-only meeting following their 4-2 loss on Thursday to the Montreal Canadiens to air their frustrations stemming from their third straight defeat.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames just haven’t looked good in their last couple of games. They’ve been dominated physically and on the scoreboard. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of effort they put forth in tonight’s rematch against the Habs.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 26, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – January 26, 2021

Are the Flyers in the market for a defenseman? What does the Jets’ acquisition of Pierre-Luc Dubois mean for Paul Stastny? What’s the latest on the Ducks? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Charlie O’Connor believes the Philadelphia Flyers aren’t going to rush into the trade market to address their recent struggles. Two-way center Sean Couturier is sidelined while the defense is bereft of puck-moving blueliners beyond Ivan Provorv and Travis Sanheim.

O’Connor points out it is only two weeks into the season and the only players on the trade market are those demanding to be moved or those who’ve been available for months because of bad contracts or poor fits with their current teams.

Winnipeg Jets center Paul Stastny (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That last blurb is probably aimed at recent speculation tying the Flyers to Florida Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle and Detroit Red Wings blueliner Danny DeKeyser. Philadelphia rearguard and South Florida native Shayne Gostisbehere were linked to Yandle but O’Connor indicates the Flyers intend to use him in the lineup once he’s off the COVID-19 protocol list.

SPORTSNET: In the wake of the Winnipeg Jets shipping Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic to Columbus for center Pierre-Luc Dubois last Saturday, Luke Fox is curious about where the Jets and current second-line center Paul Stastny go from here.

The Jets brought back Stastny last fall in a trade with the Vegas Golden Knights. He’s beloved by teammates and the coaching staff but the 35-year-old center becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer. Fox wonders if Stastny will take a pay cut to stay with the Jets as a No. 3 center or try to find a second-line center role elsewhere via free agency.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stastny’s had a long and production NHL career but he’s also at the age when skills and speed inevitably erode. If he has a decent performance this season he might be wise to consider sticking with the Jets. I doubt many teams will be in the market for a center turning 36 in December seeking second-line work.

THE ATHLETIC: Eric Stephens points out Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray attempted to acquire Justin Faulk, Kasperi Kapanen and Pierre-Luc Dubois over the past 18 months. He was also linked to Patrik Laine before the winger was shipped to Columbus. Fairly or not, it could reflect poorly on Murray’s ability to close a big trade.

Stephens wonders if the asking price for Dubois was top prospect Trevor Zegras. If so, Murray might be proven right not to part with Zegras or promising defenseman Jamie Drysdale. He doubts the Ducks GM could’ve put together a sufficient package to land Laine.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ducks are at a point right now where they’ll have to gut it out with what they’ve got this season and hope for the best.

Stephens also pointed out the Ducks lack sufficient cap space to part with inexpensive assets to land expensive, established young talent. Trading away Zegras and/or Drysdale would’ve been gutting the pieces necessary for their long-overdue rebuild. They also lack suitable talent to do a dollar-for-dollar swap that could improve their roster.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 26, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 26, 2021

The Canucks crush the Senators, last week’s three stars are announced, the latest on Pierre-Luc Dubois and David Pastrnak, plus injury/illness updates and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Brandon Sutter tallied his first career NHL hat trick and Thatcher Demko made 35 saves as the Vancouver Canucks thrashed the Ottawa Senators 7-1. Bo Horvat collected two assists while Tanner Pearson had a goal and an assist. The Senators have dropped five straight games.

Vancouver Canucks center Brandon Sutter (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A big win for the Canucks as their recent struggles were cause for concern among their followers. The two clubs meet again on Wednesday and finish their three-game series on Thursday.

Montreal Canadiens winger Tyler Toffoli, Dallas Stars center Joe Pavelski and Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Jan. 24.

TSN: Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen refuted any notion that last year’s contract negotiations with Pierre-Luc Dubois led to the 22-year-old center being traded on Saturday to the Winnipeg Jets.

Dubois suggested in a recent interview that those discussions led in part to his trade request. “That’s just flat out not true at all and he knows that, so I don’t know why he would say that or even insinuate something like that, because it’s not true,” said Kekalainen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The real reason for Dubois’ trade request will be a hot topic for some time. Some believe it was his relationship with Jackets coach John Tortorella but Dubois has denied this.

There are also lots of guessing behind the trade request of Patrik Laine, who the Jackets swapped for Dubois. Some condemn Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, head coach Paul Maurice and Jets leaders Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele for creating a supposed toxic atmosphere that drove Laine away. Others blame the winger’s perceived lackadaisical approach.

CBS SPORTS: David Pastrnak could return to action with the Boston Bruins as soon as Saturday. The 24-year-old winger has been sidelined by offseason hip surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s good news for a Bruins’ offense that has been inconsistent without their leading goal scorer.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Blackhawks winger Alex DeBrincat and defenseman Adam Boqvist were added to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list on Monday. There’s no confirmation either player has tested positive for the coronavirus.

THE SCORE: The NHL postponed Tuesday’s games between the Carolina Hurricanes and Tampa Bay Lightning. It’s the fourth consecutive Hurricanes game to be postponed. The club currently has five players on the COVID-19 protocol list with three confirmed to have tested positive. The league has released new dates for each of the postponed contests.

TSN: Edmonton Oilers winger Tyler Ennis and Colorado Avalanche defenseman Greg Pateryn were placed on waivers Monday. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay Lightning forward Mitchel Stephens is sidelined indefinitely with a lower-body injury while defenseman Erik Cernak is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins center Evan Rodrigues is sidelined indefinitely with an apparent lower-body injury suffering during a collision with New York Rangers forward Filip Chytil on Sunday.

ARIZONA REPUBLIC: Former Coyotes GM John Chayka has been suspended to the end of 2021 by the NHL for conduct detrimental to the league and the game. The suspension is reportedly due to Chayka’s departure from the Coyotes last summer.

THE TENNESSEAN: Nashville Predators goaltender Connor Ingram will be away from the club for an indefinite period as he voluntarily entered the league’s player assistance program.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Goaltender Scott Darling has signed a professional tryout offer with the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate in Rockford, Illinois. Darling spent three seasons with the Blackhawks from 2014-15 to 2016-17, helping them win the Stanley Cup in 2015.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 24, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 24, 2021

Recaps of Saturday’s action, the fallout from the Dubois-for-Laine trade, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price picked up his 350th career victory backstopping his club over the Vancouver Canucks 5-2. The Canadiens (4-0-2) sit atop the North Division with 10 points. Jonathan Drouin had a goal and an assist while Corey Perry scored his first goal for the Canadiens after being activated from their taxi squad on Friday.

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens completed a successful season-opening road trip with points in all six games. They’re also currently the league’s highest-scoring team with 29 goals.

Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron each scored twice and collected an assist to lead the Boston Bruins over the Philadelphia Flyers 6-1. Charlie Coyle, Nick Ritchie and Craig Smith each had two points for the Bruins, who’ve tallied 10 regulation goals in their last two games after managing just three goals in regulation time during their opening three contests.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A big win for the Bruins, who played without sidelined defenseman Matt Grzelcyk as he remains hampered by a lower-body injury. It was a tough outing for Flyers goalie Carter Hart, who apologized following the game for breaking his stick in frustration following this contest. To be fair to Hart, he and backup Brian Elliott haven’t had much help from their teammates over the last three games.

Defenseman Torey Krug tallied his first goal with the St. Louis Blues as they doubled up the Los Angeles Kings 4-2. Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly and teammates David Perron and Robert Thomas each collected two points.

Winnipeg Jets forwards Mark Scheifele and Paul Stastny each had a goal and two assists while Andrew Copp scored twice to down the Ottawa Senators 6-3. Jets captain Blake Wheeler collected three assists in this contest. Earlier in the day, the Senators placed rookie Tim Stuetzle on injured reserve for an undisclosed minor injury.

First-period goals by Nick Foligno, Mikhail Grigorenko and Vladislav Gavrikov powered the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 5-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins made 30 save for the win.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets and Blue Jackets showed no ill-effects from yesterday morning’s blockbuster trade that saw the Jets ship Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic to the Blue Jackets for Pierre-Luc Dubois and a draft pick. None of the players involved in the deal have joined their new clubs yet. COVID-19 protocols could further delay their arrivals.

HEADLINES

SPORTSNET: The Canadian government will decide how long Dubois must remain in self-quarantine before joining his new teammates after traveling from Columbus to Winnipeg on Saturday. The standard quarantine period for travelers arriving in Canada is 14 days but the Jets are lobbying the federal government to have that period reduced by seven days. All seven Canadian clubs would prefer to have that seven-day period, which was similar to the one during training camp.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The rationale behind that request is NHL players live and work under stricter COVID-19 protocols than other international travelers. That includes the requirement for four consecutive negative COVID tests before joining their teammates. It will significantly reduce the wait time for Canadian teams that acquire players via trade or waivers from American clubs.

THE SCORE: Dubois didn’t reveal the exact reason behind his trade request during an interview with Sportsnet’s Ron MacLean on Saturday. However, he indicated Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella wasn’t a factor in his decision. Dubois acknowledged Tortorella is a tough coach to play for but praised his style and never took criticism of his play personally.

Meanwhile, Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen has already engaged in preliminary contract-extension talks with the Laine camp. “We’re going to try to build a long-term relationship with him,” said Kekalainen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Building that relationship will depend upon how well Laine adjusts to playing for Tortorella and how much the Jackets are willing to invest in him. The 22-year-old winger is earning $7.5 million in actual salary this season and could seek around $10 million annually on his next contract.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars captain Jamie Benn missed Saturday’s practice with a lower-body injury and is listed as day-to-day.

THE NEW & OBSERVER: Jesper Fast has been added to the Carolina Hurricanes’ COVID-19 protocol list, bringing that number to six players. The Hurricanes have had their past three games postponed and their training facility closed as they deal with this issue.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks will be playing the first two of their home games in Glendale, Arizona. They’d hoped to return to SAP Center in San Jose for those games but the ban on contact sports in Santa Clara County remains in place.

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston and Elliotte Friedman report several NHL clubs are looking at moving the 2021 NHL Draft from July to December or January because the pandemic has made it difficult for draft-eligible players to be properly scouted. One solution could be staging a tournament this spring to showcase some of this year’s prospects for evaluation. Any changes to this year’s draft format require approval from the NHL and NHLPA.










Blue Jacket Ship Dubois to Jets For Laine and Roslovic in NHL Blockbuster

Blue Jacket Ship Dubois to Jets For Laine and Roslovic in NHL Blockbuster