NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 4, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 4, 2017

The Montreal Canadiens celebrate their win over the Florida Panthers to clinch the Atlantic Division crown.

Game updates, stars of the week and the NHL opts not to participate in 2018 Olympics in your morning coffee headlines.   

NHL.COM: The Montreal Canadiens clinched their second Atlantic Division title in three years by downing the Florida Panthers 4-1. Artturi Lehkonen scored twice for the Habs and call-up goalie Charlie Lindgren made 31 saves. Panthers forward Jonathan Marchessault tallied his 30th goal of the season. The Habs played without defenseman Shea Weber, who will miss another game with a lower-body injury. 

The Toronto Maple Leafs moved backed into second place in the Atlantic Division with a 4-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres. Auston Matthews scored his 39th goal, breaking the record for American-born NHL rookies and setting a new points record (67) for Leafs freshmen. The Leafs (93 points) sit one ahead of the Ottawa Senators.

The Senators, meanwhile fell 5-4 in overtime to the Detroit Red Wings. However, they picked up a point to push the Boston Bruins (92 points) into the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. Senators captain Erik Karlsson return to action, but Cody Ceci, Marc Methot and Zack Smith could miss the remainder of the regular season with injuries

The NHL yesterday announced it will not participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, citing an overwhelming reluctance on the part of the team owners to shutter the league for two weeks and the risk of injury to star players participating in the tournament. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reaction to this announcement among NHL players and the punditry is largely negative. I’ll have my take on this subject later today in my Soapbox section. 

Chicago Blackhawks winger Artemi Panarin, Washington Capitals winger Marcus Johansson and Edmonton Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending April 2, 2017.

ARIZONA SPORTS:  Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson will miss the remainder of the regular season on a leave of absence following the recent death of his mother. 

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets defenseman Zack Werenski (shoulder injury) is listed as day-to-day. 

STLTODAY.COM:  Blues center Jori Lehtera is ready to return to action after missing 12 games with a concussion. 

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes have recalled winger Bryan Bickell from the Charlotte Checkers. Bickell was diagnosed last fall with multiple sclerosis.

NJ.COM: New Jersey Devils defenseman Dalton Prout received a two-game suspension for his hit on Philadelphia Flyers blueliner Radko Gudas.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 3, 2016

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 3, 2016

San Jose Sharks goalie Martin Jones makes one of his 31 saves against the Montreal Canadiens.

San Jose Sharks goalie Martin Jones makes one of his 31 saves against the Montreal Canadiens.

Game recaps, injury updates, NHLPA rejects CBA extension offer & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM:  Martin Jones made 31 saves as the San Jose Sharks held off a late surge by the Montreal Canadiens for a 2-1 victory. Habs winger Alexander Radulov left the game in the third period after taking a stick to the face from Sharks center Logan Couture. He required stitches but apparently avoided serious injury. 

Sean Monahan’s shootout goal lifted the Calgary Flames to a 3-2 win over the Minnesota Wild. 

CHICAGO TRIBUNE:  The Blackhawks placed captain Jonathan Toews (upper-body injury) on injured reserve, though he could return to action on Sunday. 

TSN:  The Ottawa Senators placed winger Bobby Ryan (injured finger) on injured reserve. Defenseman Marc Methot (hip injury) could return to action tonight against the Florida Panthers. 

THE DETROIT NEWS:  Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader will miss two-to-four weeks with a strained MCL in his right knee. 

STLTODAY.COM: St. Louis Blues center Jori Lehtera could be a healthy scratch. He’s struggled offensively, turning up on the score sheet in only five of his 20 games this season. 

THE GLOBE AND MAIL: The Vancouver Canucks are downplaying talk of revenge in their upcoming game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Their previous match resulted in several fights, including a line brawl, prompting Canucks defenseman Erik Gudbranson to single out Leafs forward Matt Martin, yelling “Matt Martin’s dead!” following the game. The league will be closely watching tonight’s contest. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gudbranson later admitted he was simply upset over the outcome of the game and the fights that ensued. Still, you can bet the officials will take great pains to ensure this match doesn’t get out of control. No one in Vancouver wants a repeat of the Todd Bertuzzi-Steve Moore incident from 2004. 

TSN.CA:  To the surprise of no one, the NHL Players Association rejected the NHL’s proposal of participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics in exchange for extending the collective bargaining agreement by three years. PA director Donald Fehr said there were elements of the current CBA, including escrow, that the players want to further examine before getting into bargaining. He claimed there was insufficient time to do so before a decision had to be reached about participating in the 2018 Games. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  The league could try to spin this to make the players look like the bad guys. However, it’s the league that expressed reluctance about participating in the 2018 Olympics, citing the growing unhappiness of team owners over shutting down the schedule to accommodate Olympic play plus the costs of meals, transportation and insurance for the players taking part. 

NEWSDAY: New York Islanders ownership are apparently seeking a “big-name executive” for the position of team president, a role currently held by general manager Garth Snow. They’ve spoken with Pat LaFontaine and Brad Richards, player agent Pat Brisson and former Montreal Canadiens COO Kevin Gilmore. A team spokesman denied the club is searching for a new president. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This will likely spark speculation over Snow’s future as general manager, but there’s no indication in the report that he could lose that job. 

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 20, 2016

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 20, 2016

Winnipeg Jets rookie Patrik Laine (29) celebrates his overtime goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Winnipeg Jets rookie Patrik Laine (29) celebrates his overtime goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Game recaps plus updates on Jonathan Quick, Mike Smith & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Winnipeg Jets rookie Patrik Laine scored twice in the third period and netted the winner in overtime to give his club a 5-4 come-from-behind victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs, who at one point led the Jets 4-0.  Nazem Kadri scored twice and William Nylander had a goal and an assists for the Leafs, while their rookie star Auston Matthews collected an assist. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  That was an impressive performance by Laine, who is considered a future star for the Jets. The media is already playing up a so-called rivalry between Matthews, the first-overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, and Laine, the second-overall selection, trying to make it this generation’s “Crosby-Ovechkin”. However, it’s far too early to start making that comparison. 

Goaltender Jimmy Howard made 32 saves to backstop the Detroit Red Wings to a 2-1 win over the New York Rangers, who dominated the play through the first 40 minutes. Thomas Vanek and Drew Miller scored as the Wings overcame a 1-0 deficit. Mika Zibanejad tallied the Rangers’ only goal. 

LOS ANGELES TIMES:  Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick underwent a non-surgical procedure to strength a groin tendon and could be sidelined for up to three months. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That leaves the Kings goaltending duties to backup Jeff Zatkoff and call-up Peter Budaj. Could be worth keeping an eye on their performances. If they struggle, Kings management could be forced into the trade market for help.

ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes goalie Mike Smith is listed as day-to-day with an injured left leg. 

TRIBLIVE.COM:  Kris Letang (upper-body injury) and Conor Sheary (facial injury) are listed as day-to-day, but aren’t expected to be sidelined for long.

STLTODAY.COM: The St. Louis Blues placed center Jori Lehtera (upper-body injury) on injured reserve. The earliest he could return is Oct. 25 against the Calgary Flames.

PHILLY.COM: Philadelphia Flyers winger Michael Raffl (upper-body injury) is out for 10-14 days. 

NEWSDAY:  The New York Islanders called up defenseman Ryan Pulock on an emergency basis. 

TORONTO STAR: The Maple Leafs and defenseman Jared Cowen are awaiting an arbiter’s decision on the club’s attempt to buy out the remainder of his contract. Cowen claims he was still suffering the effects of injury when the Leafs tried to buy him out in June. Under the CBA, players still hampered by injuries suffered from game action during the season cannot be bought out.

USA TODAY: Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby’s Tragically Hip-themed mask raised $27K, which will be donated to lead singer Gord Downie’s charities. Downie suffers from inoperable brain cancer.

TODAY’S SLAPSHOT: NHL veteran forward Dave Moss yesterday announced his retirement. He spent nine seasons with the Calgary Flames and Arizona Coyotes, netting 178 points in 501 career NHL games.