NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 30, 2022
Game recaps, the salary cap will rise next season, possible LTIR changes to be discussed in the offseason, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Colorado Avalanche are the first team to reach 100 points this season by downing the Calgary Flames 2-1. Valeri Nichushkin scored twice, Darcy Kuemper made 44 saves and Cale Makar became the third defenseman in Avalanche history to reach 50 assists in a season. The Avs hold a four-point lead over the Florida Panthers for first overall. Tyler Toffoli scored for the Flames (88 points), who hold a seven-point lead over the Los Angeles Kings for first place in the Pacific Division.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche got the win without Nathan MacKinnon, who is sidelined with what’s believed to be a fractured hand as the result of a fight with Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba on Sunday.
Speaking of the Panthers, they blew a 4-1 lead over the Montreal Canadiens before rolling to a 7-4 victory with three unanswered third-period goals. Jonathan Huberdeau scored twice and collected an assist, tying the record for most assists (70) in a season by a left wing. Ryan Lomberg also had two goals and an assist while Sam Bennett had a goal and two assists. Laurent Dauphin had a goal and an assist.
Auston Matthews netted his league-leading 49th goal of the season while Mitch Marner, John Tavares and Morgan Rielly each had two points as the Toronto Maple Leafs held off the Boston Bruins 6-4. It was a costly win for Toronto with goaltender Petr Mrazek and defensemen Justin Holl and Ilya Lyubushkin leaving the game with injuries. The Leafs (89 points) sit one point behind the second-place Tampa Bay Lightning in the Atlantic Division while Boston sits two points behind the Leafs. David Pastrnak had a goal and an assist for the Bruins.
Tampa Bay, meanwhile, beat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 with Steven Stamkos tallying his 30th goal of the season in overtime. Stamkos and winger Nikita Kucherov finished the game with three points each as the Lightning sits six points behind the first-place Panthers in the Atlantic Division. Seth Jarvis had a goal and an assist for the Hurricanes (96 points), who hold a five-point lead over the New York Rangers atop the Metropolitan Division.
As for the Rangers, they held on for a 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Chris Kreider scored his 45th goal of the season as the Rangers hold a one-point lead over Pittsburgh for second place in the Metro Division. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby scored to reach 70 points for the 12th time in his career.
The Dallas Stars regained the final wild-card berth in the Western Conference by downing the Anaheim Ducks 3-2 on third-period goals by Roope Hintz and Jacob Peterson. The Stars (77 points) hold a one-point lead over the Vegas Golden Knights. Miro Heiskanen returned to the Dallas lineup after being sidelined since March 2 by mononucleosis. The Ducks have lost 10 straight games.
Marc-Andre Fleury kicked out 32 shots to backstop the Minnesota Wild to their seventh straight win by downing the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1. Kirill Kaprizov’s 37th goal of the season proved to be the game-winner as the Wild hold second place in the Central Division with 86 points.
Nashville Predators netminder Juuse Saros made 36 stops in a 4-1 win over the Ottawa Senators. Michael McCarron tallied twice and Mattias Ekholm had three assists for the Predators, who sit four points behind the Wild in third place in the Central. Before the game, the Predators held a moment of silence to honor Senators owner Eugene Melnyk, who passed away on Monday.
The New York Islanders held on for a 4-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Brock Nelson netted his 32nd goal of the season while Mathew Barzal and Anders Lee each had two assists. Vladislav Gavrikov tallied twice for the Blue Jackets, who played without head coach Brad Larsen and assistant coach Steve McCarthy as they entered COVID protocol yesterday.
TSN: NHL general managers were officially informed by the league the salary cap will rise by $1 million to $82.5 million during the second day of their meetings in Florida. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the league’s revenues are expected to top $5 billion this season.
Pierre LeBrun reports discussions on potential changes to long-term injury reserve rules (such as a playoff salary cap) didn’t lead to any rule changes. However, there is expected to be a further talk on this subject during the NHL Draft in Montreal in July. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said he’s already spoken with the NHL Players Association about this issue.
LeBrun mentioned there’s been lots of “white noise” over how the Vegas Golden Knights are handling their LTIR this season. Bettman and Daly, however, said there are no issues with how Vegas is handling their LTIR business.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Darren Dreger said the league doesn’t consider this to be a major problem but rather a perception one where the media and fans are concerned. Nevertheless, they intend to discuss addressing that impression with the NHLPA. Whether it results in any immediate change remains to be seen. Because this is a collective bargaining agreement issue, it might not be addressed until the next round of CBA talks in 2026.
Chris Johnston reported the league is finalizing an agreement with the NHLPA regarding how no-trade and limited no-trade clauses are submitted by players. The plan would see a player’s no-trade lists sent to NHL Central Registry and the PA to eventually compile a database. This comes on the heels of the NHL overturning the Vegas Golden Knights’ recent attempt to trade Evgenii Dadonov to the Anaheim Ducks because the league was not aware of his no-trade clause when they initially approved the deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m surprised it took this long for a snafu like the attempted Dadonov trade to surface.
LeBrun reports there won’t be a Team North America or Team Europe in the 2024 World Cup of Hockey. It will instead return to a traditional format of countries.
SPORTSNET: Bettman also said he’ll be speaking with the daughters of the late Senators owner Eugene Melnyk as well as the executor of Melnyk’s estate. He said an ownership structure has been in place and it’s expected the franchise will continue to operate as it always has.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some Senators fans were concerned over whether the team would be sold to a prospective owner who might have designs on relocating the franchise. That is not going to happen.
IN OTHER NEWS…
NHL.COM: Montreal Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes is hoping to retain interim head coach Martin St. Louis after this season. The club is 10-8-4 since St. Louis took over behind the bench on Feb. 9.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The job is St. Louis’ if he wants it. Judging by how much fun he’s having and the Canadiens’ improvement despite an ongoing rash of injuries and the recent trades involving four key players, I’ll be surprised if he turns down the opportunity.
DAILY FACEOFF: The Minnesota Wild have reportedly signed defenseman Alex Goligoski to a two-year contract extension with an annual average value of $2 million.
CBS SPORTS: Arizona Coyotes forward Lawson Crouse’s season could be over after suffering a broken bone in his hand.