NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 20, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 20, 2021

Alex Ovechkin extends his goal streak, the Leafs’ struggles continue, the Canucks surge in the standings while the Bruins’ next two games are postponed over COVID-19 concerns. Details plus updates on Evgeni Malkin, Matt Dumba and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Alex Ovechkin scored twice in the third period to lead the Washington Capitals over the New York Rangers 2-1. Vitek Vanecek made 32 saves for the win while Artemi Panarin scored the Rangers’ only goal. The Capitals (44 points) moved two points up on the New York Islanders into first place in the MassMutual East Division.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin now has 720 career goals. He also has 14 on the season, moving to within seven of Toronto’s Auston Matthews and his league-leading 21 goals.

Mark Giordano’s power-play goal in the second period held up as the game-winner as the Calgary Flames edged the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3, handing the latter their sixth loss in their last seven games. While the Leafs (40 points) still hold first place in the Scotia North Division, the Flames (33 points) picked up their fourth win in their last five contests and sit two points behind the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens. Leafs winger Wayne Simmonds picked up an assist in his first game since suffering a broken wrist on Feb. 6.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toronto goalie Frederik Andersen gave up four goals on 18 shots as he continues to struggle with a nagging lower-body injury. Leafs fans are hoping a healthy Jack Campbell can provide some much-needed stability between the pipes when he returns from injury tonight against the Flames.

Despite the Leafs’ position in the standings, the race in the North is tightening. The Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets are breathing down their necks while the Flames and Vancouver Canucks are surging. Only six points separate Toronto from the fifth-place Canucks.

Speaking of the Canucks, they handed the Canadiens their ninth straight defeat in extra time with a 3-2 overtime victory. J.T. Miller tallied the game-winner as Vancouver (34 points) has won four straight and moved to within one point of the fourth-place Habs. Earlier in the day, they announced winger Tanner Pearson will be sidelined four weeks with a sprained ankle and placed center Elias Petterssen (wrist) on long-term injury reserve.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks were being written off a month ago and are still considered by some observers as a potential seller by the trade deadline. Their recent improvement, however, has put them back in the playoff picture, especially with the Canadiens struggling to hang onto the final playoff spot in the North Division.

Max Pacioretty scored twice as the Vegas Golden Knights picked up their fifth straight win by doubling up the Los Angeles Kings 4-2. Vegas netminder Robin Lehner made 23 saves in his first game since being sidelined by a concussion on Feb. 7. With 43 points, the Golden Knights opened a five-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche for the top spot in the Honda West Division. The Kings (30 points) sit five back of the fourth-place St. Louis Blues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pacioretty now has 16 goals, moving to within five of Matthews.

The Blues, meanwhile, snapped a five-game losing skid by nipping the San Jose Sharks 2-1 on a shootout goal by Vladimir Tarasenko. Jordan Binnington made 30 saves for the win while Tyler Bozak tied the game for the Blues with a shorthanded goal.

HEADLINES

The Boston Bruins’ next two games (Saturday against Buffalo, Tuesday against the New York Islanders) have been postponed over COVID-19 concerns as four Bruins (Jake DeBrusk, David Krejci, David Pastrnak and Craig Smith) were added to the COVID protocol list on Friday. This comes one day after the Bruins canceled practice when Sean Kuraly was added to the list. They played the Sabres on Thursday.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins listed center Evgeni Malkin as week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Losing Malkin will be a big test for the Penguins as they strive to move further up the East Division standings. With 37 points, they just one up on the fourth-place Bruins and four ahead of the fifth-place Philadelphia Flyers.

STARTRIBUNE.COM: Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba is doubtful for today’s rematch with the Colorado Avalanche after suffering a lower-body injury during the Wild’s 5-1 loss to the Avs on Thursday.

WGR 550: Speaking of the Avalanche, they are reportedly close to acquiring Sabres goaltender Jonas Johansson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nothing confirmed as of this morning and no indication as to what the Sabres would receive in return. Johansson was not on the ice for Sabres practice yesterday while the club announced the signing of netminder Michael Houser. The Avs are believed in the market for a reliable backup with Pavel Francouz sidelined indefinitely.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings are listing goaltender Jonathan Bernier as day-to-day after he suffered a lower-body injury during Thursday’s win over the Dallas Stars. However, they’re awaiting clarification as to the severity of his injury.

SPORTSNET: Senators goalie Joey Daccord will be out long-term with an apparent leg injury suffered during Wednesday’s loss to the Vancouver Canucks. There’s speculation he could be done for the season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 19, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 19, 2021

Connor McDavid widens his lead in the NHL scoring race, Mikko Rantanen enjoys a four-point performance and Robby Fabbri tallies a hat trick. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Connor McDavid scored twice to lead the Edmonton Oilers to a 2-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets. The Oilers have the same number of points (40) as the first-place Toronto Maple Leafs in the Scotia North Division but the latter hold three games in hand. McDavid (58 points) extended his points streak to eight games and leads the NHL scoring race by nine points over teammate Leon Draisaitl.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid is on pace for 98 points in 56 games this season.

Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen (NHL Images).

Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen scored twice and added two assists in a 5-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild. Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog each had a goal and two assists as Colorado peppered Wild goaltender Cam Talbot with 55 shots. Avs defensemen Cale Makar and Bo Byram returned from upper-body injuries that had sidelined each from multiple games. Wild defenseman Matt Dumba left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury. The Avalanche (38 points) moves one point up on the Wild into second place in the Honda West Division.

A hat trick by Robby Fabbri enabled the Detroit Red Wings to hold off the Dallas Stars 3-2. It was a costly victory for the Wings as goalie Jonathan Bernier left the game in the second period with an apparent injury to his right leg. An update is expected on his condition today.

The New Jersey Devils held off the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 thanks to goaltender Scott Wedgewood’s 40-save performance. Devils forward Jack Hughes had a goal and an assist. Wedgewood got the call after starter Mackenzie Blackwood suffered an upper-body injury during warmups. No update was provided for his status. Earlier in the day, the Penguins placed forwards Evgeni Malkin and Teddy Blueger (undisclosed) on injured reserve. The Pens sit in third place in the MassMutual East Division with 37 points.

A new head coach didn’t change the Buffalo Sabres fortunes as they dropped a 4-1 decision to the Boston Bruins in their first game with Don Granato behind the bench. The Sabres fall to 0-11-2 in their last 13 games. David Krejci collected three assists for the Bruins, who sit one point behind the Penguins in the East Division.

The Philadelphia Flyers (33 points) moved to within three points of the Bruins by edging the New York Islanders 4-3. The Flyers blew a 3-0 lead but got the win on Oskar Lindblom’s second goal of the game late in the third period. Travis Konecny had three assists for the Flyers while Isles defenseman Nick Leddy had three helpers. Before the game, the Flyers announced defenseman Robert Hagg would be sidelined two-to-four weeks with a shoulder injury. The Islanders (42 points) remain in second place in the East.

An overtime goal by Seth Jones lifted the Columbus Blue Jackets over the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2. It was Jones’ second goal of the game. Carolina center Sebastian Aho countered with two goals. The Hurricanes remain in third place in the Discover Central Division with 42 points while the Jackets (31 points) climbed to within two points of the fourth-overall Chicago Blackhawks.

Speaking of the Blackhawks, they dropped a 4-2 decision to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Bolts goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy made 19 saves for his 10th straight victory while Victor Hedman had a goal and an assist. The Lightning (44 points) opened a two-point lead over the Hurricanes and Florida Panthers for first place in the Central Division. Chicago center Dylan Strome scored in his first game since being sidelined a month ago by a concussion. The Blackhawks have dropped three straight.

The Nashville Predators got two goals from Calle Jarnkrok and a 40-save effort from Juuse Saros to edge the Panthers 2-1. Jonathan Huberdeau scored for the Panthers, who remain in second place in the Central.

Anaheim Ducks rookies Jamie Drysdale and Trevor Zegras each scored their first NHL goals in a 3-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes. Drysdale finished the game with two points while Adam Henrique tallied the game-winner. Clayton Keller and Conor Garland replied for the Coyotes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Drysdale and Zegras offer what could be a promising look at the Ducks’ future depending on what moves management makes to rebuild the roster.

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen admits he’s been battling a nagging lower-body injury for the past six games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That news won’t silence Andersen’s critics but it explains his struggles since returning to action from the same injury that sidelined him for two weeks in the second half of February.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 17, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 17, 2021

Recaps of Tuesday’s action include Alex Ovechkin reaching two milestones,  the Sabres fire coach Ralph Krueger, plus the latest on Evgeni Malkin, Taylor Hall, John Gibson and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Alex Ovechkin scored his 718th career goal and reached his 1,300th career points as his Washington Capitals earned a 3-1 victory over the New York Islanders, snapping the latter’s nine-game winning streak. Nicklas Backstrom also had a goal and an assist for the Capitals, who moved ahead of the Isles into first place (42 points) in the MassMutual East Division. Ovechkin moved past Phil Esposito into sixth place on the all-time goals list and 34th on the all-time points list with 1,301.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin is now 13 goals behind Marcel Dionne, who sits fifth overall.

The Boston Bruins rode a 34-save debut by rookie goaltender Dan Vlader to a 2-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Trent Frederic tallied the game-winner in the third period for the Bruins (34 points), who opened a three-point over the Philadelphia Flyers for fourth place in the East Division.

It was a rough game for both clubs, as Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (lower-body) and Bruins defenseman Jarred Tinordi (upper-body) left the game with injuries. Penguins forward Brandon Tanev was assessed a major penalty and game misconduct for boarding Tinordi. Earlier in the day, the Penguins placed defenseman John Marino (undisclosed) on injured reserve and announced forward Teddy Blueger was sidelined longer-term with an upper-body injury.

A third-period goal by Miles Wood lifted the New Jersey Devils over the Buffalo Sabres 3-2, handing the latter their 12th straight loss. It was the Devils’ first home victory since Jan. 24. Sabres winger Taylor Hall left the game in the first period after being knocked to the ice by P.K. Subban and struck in the face by a shot from teammate Colin Miller but returned in the second to complete the game. Earlier in the day, the Devils announced captain Nico Hischier would be sidelined approximately three weeks following surgery to repair a sinus fracture.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hall was fortunate to escape serious injury. This season is the nadir of what’s been a decade of suck for the Sabres. Ownership and management seem uncertain over what to do, head coach Ralph Krueger has no solutions while the players seem to be growing more dispirited with each loss.

**UPDATE**

The Buffalo Sabres this morning fired Ralph Krueger and assistant coach Steve Smith. Don Granato replaces Krueger on an interim basis while development coaches Matt Ellis and Dan Girardi become assistant coaches. 

The Colorado Avalanche scored six unanswered goals to overcome a 4-2 deficit and double up the Anaheim Ducks 8-4. Nazem Kadri scored twice and set up two others and Devon Toews collected three assists while Philipp Grubauer got the win after replacing Hunter Miska following the first period. With 36 points, the Avs opened a three-point lead over the St. Louis Blues for third place in the Honda West Division. Earlier in the day, the Ducks announced goaltender John Gibson is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

Minnesota Wild goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen made 31 saves to shut out the Arizona Coyotes 3-0 and extending his winning streak to nine games. Ryan Hartman, Mats Zuccarello and Jared Spurgeon were the goal scorers as the Wild (37 points) sit two behind the first-place Vegas Golden Knights in the West Division.

The Tampa Bay Lightning blew a 3-1 lead but edged the Dallas Stars 4-3 on a shootout goal by Brayden Point, who also had a goal and an assist in regulation. Third-period goals by Jamie Benn and Alexander Radulov forced overtime and the shootout. The win moved the Lightning (42 points) past the Florida Panthers into first place in the Discover Central Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Quite the battle going on between the Lightning, Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes for the top spot in the Central. The rivalry between the two Florida-based franchises is getting more entertaining with the Panthers’ improvement this season.

Speaking of the Hurricanes, their eight-game win streak came to an end as they fell 4-2 to the Detroit Red Wings. Adam Erne tallied twice while teammate Filip Hronek had a goal and two assists for the Wings. Jonathan Bernier kicked out 35 shots for the win. The Hurricanes (41 points) are one behind the Lightning and Panthers in the Central. Earlier in the day, the Wings announced forward Bobby Ryan is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE SCORE: Former Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford admitted he attempted to reacquire goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury from the Vegas Golden Knights during the offseason. He said one of the reasons behind the decision to buy out defenseman Jack Johnson was to clear cap space for Fleury.

Rutherford also said he inquired into Fleury’s availability while the Golden Knights were still in the playoffs. The trade discussions were never deeply involved because of the salary-cap difficulties in acquiring Fleury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt we’ll see Rutherford’s successor Ron Hextall pursuing Fleury. The cap issues remain but Hextall wants to take the club in a different direction by focusing on younger players.

Speaking of the Golden Knights, they’ve activated goalie Robin Lehner off injured reserve. He’d been sidelined since Feb. 7 with a lower-body injury.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 16, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 16, 2021

Last night’s action featured milestones for Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Patrick Kane and Carey Price. Get the details plus the three stars of the week and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Alex Ovechkin scored his 717th career NHL goals as his Washington Capitals crushed the Buffalo Sabre 6-0. Ovechkin is tied with Phil Esposito for sixth on the all-time goals list. Washington goaltender Vitek Vanecek made 23 saves for his first career NHL shutout. The Capitals (40 points) sit two back of the first-place New York Islanders in the MassMutual East Division.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin had a goal and an assist to reach his 1,100th career point in a 4-1 victory over the Boston Bruins. Tristan Jarry kicked out 42 shots for the win while Sidney Crosby had a goal and two assists. The Penguins (37 points) won their sixth straight to sit third in the East Division while the Bruins (32 points) are clinging to fourth place.

Patrick Kane scored to collect his 1,064 point but his Chicago Blackhawks fell 6-3 to the Florida Panthers. Kane sits fifth on the all-time points list for American-born players, one behind Keith Tkachuk. Florida tallied five unanswered goals with captain Aleksander Barkov leading the way with a goal and two assists. The Panthers (42 points) vaulted over the Carolina Hurricanes into first place in the Discover Central Division while the Blackhawks hold fourth place with 33 points.

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price made 34 saves to pick up the win in his 700th career game as his club doubled up the Winnipeg Jets 4-2. Montreal winger Tyler Toffoli scored twice and collected an assist while Winnipeg winger Kyle Connor tallied two goals. The Jets (36 points) remain in second place in the Scotia North Division while the Canadiens held onto fourth place with 33 points. Earlier in the day, the Habs announced defenseman Ben Chiarot will be sidelined six-to-eight weeks following surgery on a fractured hand.

Pekka Rinne turned aside 38 shots while Calle Jarnkrok scored and picked up three assists as the Nashville Predators upset the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1. Mattias Ekholm had a goal and an assist for the Predators while Steven Stamkos tallied Tampa Bay’s only goal as the Lightning (40 points) slipped to third in the Central Division.

The Philadelphia Flyers edged the New York Rangers 5-4 on an overtime goal by Jakub Voracek, who also collected two assists. Rangers winger Artemi Panarin also had a goal and two helpers. With 31 points, the Flyers sit one back of the fourth-place Bruins in the East.

J.T. Miller scored in overtime as the Vancouver Canucks nipped the Ottawa Senators 3-2. The Senators overcame a 2-0 deficit to force the extra frame on goals by Josh Norris and Colin White. Vancouver goalie Thatcher Demko picked up the win with a 42-save performance as the Canucks (30 points) sit three behind the fourth-place Canadiens in the North Division.

The Calgary Flames picked up their third straight win under new coach Darryl Sutter with a 3-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. Noah Hanifin netted the game-winner in the third period just over a minute after Edmonton forward Leon Draisaitl tied the game. Oilers forward Jujhar Khaira left the game after being knocked out by Brett Ritchie during a first-period fight. Khaira answered the challenge from Ritchie following a high hit on Flames defenseman Oliver Kylington, who left the game but later return to action. The Oilers (36 points) remain in third place in the North Division while the Flames (31 points) are two behind the fourth-place Canadiens.

Mark Stone scored the game-winning goal and set up the game-opening tally as his Vegas Golden Knights held off the San Jose Sharks 2-1. Max Pacioretty also scored while Marc-Andre Fleury kicked out 23 shots for the win. Timo Meier scored for the Sharks. With 39 points, the Golden Knights opened a four-point lead over the Minnesota Wild for first place in the Honda West Division.

IN OTHER NEWS…

NHL.COM: Colorado Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer, Edmonton Oilers center Leon Draisaitl and Winnipeg Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending March 15.

TORONTO STAR: Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen’s recent struggles may be tied to the groin injury he’s playing through.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve seen Leafs fans on this site and elsewhere demanding general manager Kyle Dubas acquire a goaltender. However, they have limited salary-cap space and the pickings are slim in the trade market for rental goalies.

I’ve seen some suggest Arizona’s Antti Raanta as one option but he’s unlikely to move with Darcy Kuemper sidelined and I’ll be very surprised if the Coyotes trade the latter. Detroit’s Jonathan Bernier could be the best available choice but the Leafs could face competition for his services from contenders like Colorado and Washington.

TSN: Three Rangers (Pavel Buchnevich, Phillip Di Giuseppe and Adam Fox) are among the five players on yesterday’s NHL COVID-19 protocol list. New Jersey’s Will Butcher and the Islanders’ Noah Dobson are the others.










NHL Rumor Mill – February 16, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – February 16, 2021

More Evgeni Malkin trade speculation, an update on the Penguins’ efforts to reacquire Marc-Andre Fleury, the Leafs could be eyeing a Predators’ forward and the latest on Victor Mete in today’s NHL rumor mill.

MORE ON MALKIN

TRIBLIVE.COM: Tim Benz cited Mark Madden last week claiming he heard Evgeni Malkin would not be traded and an extension with the Pittsburgh Penguins may be looming. Madden has since walked it back a bit, citing a source saying Malkin “is not likely to be traded.” He said team co-owner Mario Lemieux doesn’t want to move the veteran center but “that could be up for review,” adding Sidney Crosby was the only true untouchable on the Penguins.

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (NHL Images).

Benz wondered if the Florida Panthers could be a trade partner as Malkin’s wife and child reside in Miami full time. That could be his preference if the Penguins decide to trade him but Madden is sure Crosby doesn’t want Malkin to be traded. “If you made me bet right now, I would bet Geno finishes his career as a Penguin.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Malkin has a full no-movement clause. If, and that’s still a big “IF” at this point, Penguins GM Ron Hextall and president of hockey ops Brian Burke decide to make that move I suspect they’ll quietly make inquiries with potential trade partners before broaching the subject with Malkin.

They’ll want potential partners lined up that they can take to Malkin and say, “We’re thinking of trading you and here are the teams interested in your services. Choose one.”

DID THE PENGUINS MAKE A PITCH FOR FLEURY?

THE ATHLETIC: Rob Rossi cited NHL insider Bob McKenzie last week saying Patrik Allvin, in his brief tenure as acting Penguins GM before Ron Hextall took over, made an offer to the Vegas Golden Knights for goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury “a couple of weeks ago”. McKenzie also said Allvin’s predecessor, Jim Rutherford, had an interest in reacquiring Fleury, who played for the Penguins until selected by the Golden Knights in the 2017 expansion draft.

Rossi confirmed Rutherford’s interest last summer in Fleury but cited team and league sources denying any communication about the goalie between Allvin and the Golden Knights. A source close to Fleury said the netminder has “shut the door…for now” on playing for Pittsburgh again.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rossi goes on to say any trade while Allvin was acting GM would’ve had to be approved first by team CEO David Moorehouse. A club source said Allvin hadn’t discussed a Fleury trade with Moorehouse and was neither near making or known to be working on a potential trade. Fleury also never came up during Hextall’s interviews with the Penguins before taking over as GM.

It’s clear Fleury’s focus is on helping the Golden Knights, who have no interest in moving him this season. The “Fleury back to Pittsburgh” speculation could ramp up again in the offseason but Hextall could have other plans in mind for the Penguins’ goaltending.

LEAFS EYEING GRANLUND?

THE ATHLETIC: James Mirtle wonders how aggressive Leafs GM Kyle Dubas will be with the Apr. 12 trade deadline just under eight weeks away. He cited Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman’s cryptic comment last week almost guaranteeing the Leafs would add a winger at the trade deadline who could play on the top six with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner or John Tavares and William Nylander.

Friedman didn’t elaborate but the consensus around the league suggests Nashville Predators winger Mikael Granlund fits the description. He could become available if the Predators continue to struggle. The winger signed a one-year, $3.75 million contract with the Predators. Mirtle indicated the Leafs had an interest in him during the offseason but lacked the cap space to sign him.

Other possible rentals who fit the description include the Buffalo Sabres’ Eric Staal and Los Angeles Kings’ Alex Iafallo. Mirtle doubts the Leafs have the assets or cap space to land Sabres winger Taylor Hall.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s no indication yet if Granlund, Staal or Iafallo could be available at the deadline.

Granlund’s a former two-time 60-point winger whose production has suffered in recent years. He’s got decent numbers with the Preds this season (seven points in 12 games) but only one point in his last five contests.

Staal still has a 10-team no-trade list and we don’t know if the Leafs are on it. Iafallo, 27, had a career-high 43 points with the Kings last season and nine in 13 games this season. He could be available if he seeks more on his next contract than the rebuilding Kings are willing to pay.

CANADIENS GM SHOOTS DOWN METE TRADE RUMORS

TSN: Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin once again stated he has no intention of trading Victor Mete. The defenseman’s agent made a public trade request earlier this season after his client was a healthy scratch through the Habs’ first seven games. “We have no intention of moving Victor and I was clear with the agent on that,” he said.










Crosby, Malkin and Letang Dominate The NHL Rumor Mill

Crosby, Malkin and Letang Dominate The NHL Rumor Mill