NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 22, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 22, 2024

The Leafs’ Auston Matthews set a record as he reached 50 goals, Houston Rocket owner interested in an NHL franchise, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.


NHL.COM: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews scored his 50th and 51st goals of the season in a 6-3 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. Matthews became the fastest American-born player to reach 50 goals in a season (54 games) and the fastest NHL player to do so since Mario Lemieux tallied 50 in 50 games in 1995-96.

William Nylander scored twice while Mitch Marner collected three assists for the 31-16-8 Leafs as they hold third place in the Atlantic Division with 70 points. Mattias Maccelli, Barrett Hayton and Dylan Guenther replied for the Coyotes (23-29-4), who’ve dropped six in a row and are winless in their last 11 games (0-10-1).

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews is well on his way to winning his third Richard Trophy in four years as the NHL’s top goal scorer. His league-leading 51 goals puts him 12 ahead of Florida’s Sam Reinhart, who sits second with 39 goals.

This is the second time Matthews has reached the 50-goal plateau and he’s within range of reaching 60 goals for the second time in three years. At his current pace, he could become the first player to score 70 goals in a season since Alexander Mogilny and Teemu Selanne in 1992-93.

The Boston Bruins blew a 4-1 lead but recovered to nip the Edmonton Oilers 6-5 on an overtime goal by Charlie McAvoy. Mason Lohrei collected three assists while McAvoy, David Pastrnak and Jake DeBrusk each had a goal and an assist for the Bruins (34-12-11) as they reclaimed first place in the Eastern Conference with 79 points, one behind the league-leading Vancouver Canucks. Warren Foegele scored two goals while Connor McDavid extended his home points streak to 20 games with two assists for the 33-18-2 Oilers, who sit third in the Pacific Division with 68 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boston defenseman Matt Grzelcyk left this game in the first period with a lower-body injury. The Bruins were already down a blueliner as Hampus Lindholm is listed as week-to-week with a lower-body injury. Meanwhile, Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins missed this contest due to illness.

Philadelphia Flyers winger Travis Konecny scored to extend his points streak to seven games in a 3-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Travis Sanheim and Garnet Hathaway also scored for the 30-20-7 Flyers as they continue to hold third place in the Metropolitan Division with 67 points. Colin Blackwell replied for the 15-39-3 Blackhawks.

A shorthanded goal by Alex Tuch late in the second period held up as the winner as the Buffalo Sabres defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3-2, handing the latter their third straight loss. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen stopped 29 shots for the Sabres (25-27-4). Arber Xhekaj and Jayden Struble replied for the Canadiens (22-26-8) as Nick Suzuki’s 10-game points streak and Juraj Slafkovsky’s seven-game points streak came to an end.

Columbus Blue Jackets forwards Johnny Gaudreau and Boone Jenner each had a goal and two assists in a 7-4 drubbing of the Anaheim Ducks. Zach Werenkski and Sean Kuraly each tallied twice for the 18-27-10 Blue Jackets while Mason McTavish scored two goals for the 20-34-2 Ducks.


BLOOMBERG: Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta is said to be in talks with the NHL about bringing a franchise to the Texas city. He’s been looking into it since 2017 but discussions have recently ramped up. He sees a professional hockey franchise being the next building block for the economy of downtown Houston.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ferttita’s increased interest in an NHL team comes weeks after the ownership group of the Utah Jazz requested the league initiate an expansion process to bring a team to Salt Lake City.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman recently said the league had no formal plans to expand from its current 32 teams but was willing to talk to cities interested in adding NHL clubs. With the expansion fee for a team said to be $2 billion, which is split among the existing NHL team owners and is not considered hockey-related revenue, don’t be surprised if there are two new NHL teams within the next 10 years.

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon said team captain Mark Stone is expected to be sidelined “for a while” with an upper-body injury. Meanwhile, he said that Jack Eichel is doing well with his rehab and should return “in the not-too-distant future.” Eichel (knee) is currently on long-term injury reserve.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Stone is placed on LTIR and is out for the rest of the regular season it will allow the Golden Knights to exceed the salary cap if necessary to add a player or two by the March 8 trade deadline.

DAILY FACEOFF: New York Rangers forwards Artemi Panarin and Jimmy Vesey are listed as day-to-day with lower-body injuries as they missed practice yesterday.

NEW YORK POST: Speaking of the Rangers, they signed forward Jonny Brodzinski to a two-year, one-way contract extension worth an average annual value of $785, 500.

ESPN: Kevin Weekes reports Los Angeles Kings forward Viktor Arvidsson could be sidelined week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

NHL.COM: Florida Panthers forward Ryan Lomberg was fined $2,083.33 by the NHL department of player safety for elbowing Ottawa Senators defenseman Jakob Chychrun during Tuesday’s game between the two clubs.

CBS SPORTS: The Vancouver Canucks placed forward Dakota Joshua (upper body) on injured reserve.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: The Penguins placed forward Colin White on waivers.

DAILY FACEOFF: Former Toronto Maple Leafs forward Gerry James passed away at age 89. James spent five seasons with the Leafs from 1954-55 to 1959-60. At the same time, he had a 13-year career as a running back in the Canadian Football League and holds the distinction of being the only person to appear in a Stanley Cup Final and a Grey Cup Final in the same season (1959-60). He was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1981.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to James’ family, friends and former teammates in both sports.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 29, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 29, 2023

The Hurricanes and Stars advance to the second round, the Panthers and Avalanche avoid elimination to force Game 7 in their respective series, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: An overtime goal by Paul Stastny lifted the Carolina Hurricanes to a 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers to win their best-of-seven first-round series four games to two. Sebastian Aho scored the tying goal for the Hurricanes while Frederik Andersen made 33 saves in his 2023 playoff debut. Ilya Sorokin stopped 39 shots and Cal Clutterbuck scored for the Islanders.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders made this game a tight-checking low-scoring contest but they were undone by a lack of scoring punch that dogged them throughout this series and during the regular season. Addressing that issue should be their offseason priority.

Andersen played well after an illness sidelined him from most of this series. He and his teammates await the winner of the New Jersey Devils-New York Rangers series.

Dallas Stars center Roope Hintz (NHL Images)

The Dallas Stars defeated the Minnesota Wild 4-1 to take their first-round series four games to two. Jake Oettinger turned aside 23 shots, Roope Hintz scored his playoff-leading 12th point while Mason Marchment and Max Domi each had a goal and an assist for the Stars. Frederick Gaudreau replied for the Wild.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dallas dominated most of this series led by a new generation of Stars like Hintz, Oettinger, Jason Robertson and Miro Heiskanen along with a resurgent Tyler Seguin.

This was a disappointing series for the Wild. Leading goal-scorers Kirill Kaprizov and Matt Boldy had just one goal between them while their defense at times struggled to contain the Stars’ scorers. With a salary-cap crunch coming for next season, management will find it difficult to improve their roster.

There will be a seventh and deciding game between the Boston Bruins and Florida Panthers as the latter tied the series with a 7-5 victory in Game 6. Eetu Luostarinen broke a 5-5 tie with 5:38 remaining in the third period. Matthew Tkachuk led the way for the Panthers with two goals and an assist. David Pastrnak scored twice for the Bruins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The series returns to Boston for Game 7 on Sunday as the Panthers battled back from being down three games to one to force this winner-take-all situation. They also had to do with winger Ryan Lomberg sidelined for this game with an upper-body injury.

Game 6 was an entertaining throwback to 1980s high-scoring hockey with the two clubs combining for seven goals in the third period. One team would score and the other would quickly reply to tie the game. It was punch and counterpunch that was only really settled by Sam Bennett’s empty-netter in the dying seconds of the third.

Boston fans and pundits are calling for Bruins coach Jim Montgomery to replace starting goalie Linus Ullmark with Jeremy Swayman for Game 7 as the former has struggled over the last two games. Ullmark hasn’t been helped by his teammates as the vaunted Bruins defense has grown porous of late. If they don’t regain their form in Game 7 it might not matter if Swayman is the starter for that contest.

The Colorado Avalanche forced a Game 7 with a series-tying 4-1 victory over the Seattle Kraken. Artturi Lehkonen tallied twice, Mikko Rantanen had a goal and an assist and Alexandar Georgiev made 22 saves for the Avalanche. Vince Dunn replied for the Kraken. Game 7 goes Sunday in Colorado.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche got the win with defenseman Josh Manson sidelined from this game with a lower-body injury. It’s not known yet if he’ll return to the lineup for Game 7.

Few observers expected this series to go the distance, let alone that the Avalanche would be the club facing a do-or-die situation in Game 6 to force a seventh-and-deciding contest. No matter the outcome of Game 7, the Kraken should be commended for how they’ve held their own in this series against the defending Stanley Cup champions.


NEW YORK POST: Vladimir Tarasenko ranks seventh among Rangers forwards in overall ice time and power-play ice time. Larry Brooks believes it’s imperative for head coach Gerard Gallant to give the sniper more playing time if the Rangers hope to avoid elimination by the New Jersey Devils in Game 6 of their first-round series tonight.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak will be sidelined for Game 6 tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Cernak hasn’t played since being hit in the head in Game 1 by Leafs winger Michael Bunting, who received a three-game suspension. Toronto leads the series three games to two.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Mattias Ekholm is enjoying the role of mentoring young Oilers defenseman Evan Bouchard.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bouchard’s performance has improved since being paired with Ekholm after the latter was acquired from the Nashville Predators before the trade deadline.

SPORTSNET: Actor Ryan Reynolds and the Remington Group led by real-estate mogul Christopher Bratty are said to be preparing to bid more than $1 billion for the Ottawa Senators. The deadline for the second and final round of bids is May 15.


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 26, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 26, 2022

The Blackhawks down the Flyers, the three stars of the week and the Masterton Trophy nominees are revealed, Golden Knights goalie Robin Lehner to undergo season-ending surgery, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Jonathan Toews had a goal and an assist and Alex DeBrincat matched his career-high with his 41st goal of the season as the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Philadelphia Flyers in the only game on the NHL schedule last night.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Earlier in the day, the Blackhawks announced center Kirby Dach is expected to miss their remaining games of this season due to a shoulder injury.

Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (NHL Images).

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala and Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick are the three stars for the week ending April 24.

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price, Vegas Golden Knights center Jack Eichel and Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf are among the 32 nominees for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. It is awarded annually to the player who best exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.

Other noteworthy nominees include Dallas Stars forward Tyler Seguin, Florida Panthers winger Anthony Duclair, New Jersey Devils center Nico Hischier, New York Islanders defenseman Zdeno Chara, New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider, St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko, San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns, and Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom.

The full list can be seen at this link. Three finalists will be chosen with the winner announced between Games 3 and 4 of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to all the nominees. Each of them are worthy candidates for the Masterton Trophy.

The eight Eastern Conference clubs that qualified for the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs made history. It’s the first time eight teams in the same conference each reached 100 points in a single season.

DAILY FACEOFF: The Vegas Golden Knights announced goaltender Robin Lehner will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery. Frank Seravalli first reported on Lehner’s injury and his requirement for surgery over two months ago. The Golden Knights denied Seravalli’s report, as they did with a recent report by ESPN.com’s Emily Kaplan claiming the 30-year-old Lehner would require a surgical procedure.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights’ handling of this situation was very puzzling. It was apparent Lehner was struggling over the past two months and had missed some games likely because of his injury. They did themselves no favors with their public denials. It’ll be interesting to see if there will be any fallout from this story in the coming months.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury. He was hurt during Sunday’s loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs when he crashed awkwardly into the boards following a failed scoring attempt.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: By the sound of things, Ovechkin is expected to return to action in time for the start of the playoffs next week.

THE ATHLETIC: Sara Civian cited sources reporting sidelined Carolina Hurricanes goalies Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta are expected to return in time for the playoffs starting next week. Andersen is out day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Raanta left the club’s previous game but that was due to a cramping issue. He’s expected to suit up as the backup for Tuesday’s game against the New York Rangers.

NEW YORK POST: Speaking of the Rangers, sidelined forwards Andrew Copp, Filip Chytil and Kaapo Kakko are considered game-day decisions for tonight’s match with the Hurricanes.

CBS SPORTS: Buffalo Sabres winger Kyle Okposo is being evaluated for a leg injury suffered during practice on Monday.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The NHL department of player safety levied a one-game suspension on Panthers forward Ryan Lomberg for instigating a fight with Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak on Sunday. Panthers coach Andrew Brunette received a $10,000.00 fine for a game misconduct in the aftermath of the Lomberg-Cernak scuffle.

TSN: Los Angeles Kings forward Arthur Kaliyev was fined over $2,245 for cross-checking Anaheim Ducks defenseman Josh Mahura on Saturday.

Sidelined Ottawa Senators forwards Shane Pinto, Connor Brown and Colin White are expected to remain out of the lineup for the remainder of the season.

TORONTO SUN: 2022 Hobey Baker Award winner Dryden McKay signed a two-year AHL contract with the Maple Leafs’ farm team, the Marlies.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: The Red Wings have signed top prospect Simon Edvinsson to a three-year entry-level contract.