NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 27, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 27, 2022

Auston Matthews tallies his 60th goal of the season, Steven Stamkos reached 100 points, the Hurricanes clinch the Metropolitan Division, the Predators and Kings secure playoff berths, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Auston Matthews scored twice to reach the 60-goal plateau as the Toronto Maple Leafs blanked the Detroit Red Wings 3-0. Matthews is the first player to score 60 goals in a season since Steven Stamkos in 2011-12. He’s also the first American-born player to reach that mark. John Tavares also scored and Jack Campbell made 20 saves for the shutout. Toronto defenseman Jake Muzzin returned to the lineup after missing six games with an undisclosed injury. With the win, the Leafs (113 points) secure second place in the Atlantic Division and home-ice advantage for the opening round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

Speaking of Stamkos, the Tampa Bay Lightning captain reached the 100-point plateau for the first time in his career in a 4-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Stamkos scored twice and collected two assists while Nikita Kucherov also had a four-point performance. The Lightning have won four straight games and sit in third place in the Atlantic with 108 points. Before the game, the Blue Jackets confirmed Boone Jenner and Sean Kuraly will be sidelined for the remainder of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the season ended today, the Leafs and Lightning would face each other in the first round. We’ll find out for sure by week’s end.

The Carolina Hurricanes (114 points) clinched first place in the Metropolitan Division by holding off the New York Rangers 4-3. Sebastian Aho scored to reach his 400th career point, Vincent Trocheck and Brady Skjei each collected two points and rookie goalie Pyotr Kochetkov got the win with a 31-save performance. Rangers winger Chris Kreider tallied his 52nd goal of the season. His teammate, Andrew Copp, returned to action from a lower-body injury but left the game in the second period. So did winger Artemi Panarin but it appears both were held out of this contest for precautionary reasons. The Rangers sit second in the Metro with 108 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes were hopeful that sidelined starting goalie Frederik Andersen would be ready to return to action for the opening game of the playoffs next week. ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski reports the current expectation is he’ll miss the Hurricanes’ first few games of the first round.

An overtime goal by Elias Lindholm gave the Calgary Flames a 5-4 win over the Nashville Predators, but the latter still secured a playoff spot in the Western Conference with 95 points. Matthew Tkachuk scored in the final second of regulation to tie the game and set the stage for Lindholm’s winner. Both players have 41 goals on the season. Filip Forsberg scored twice for the Predators to reach 42 goals while teammates Matt Duchene and Mikael Granlund each had three points. The Flames (110 points) recently clinched first place in the Pacific Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Predators goaltender Juuse Saros left the game in the third period with what appeared to be an injured left leg. An update on his condition could come on Wednesday.

The Dallas Stars moved closer to clinching the final playoff berth in the Western Conference after downing the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2 on a shootout goal by Miro Heiskanen. Jason Robertson scored twice to reach 40 goals on the season while Jake Oettinger kicked out 33 shots. The Stars hold the final wild-card spot with 95 points. With 91 points, the Golden Knights’ playoff hopes now hang by a thread while the Stars’ victory means the idle Los Angeles Kings have clinched a postseason berth with 96 points. They will face the Edmonton Oilers in the first round.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights still have a slim chance if they win their final two games and the Stars lose their last two in regulation, thus ensuring they’d take the wild-card berth on the basis of regulation wins. The Stars, however, need just one to qualify for the postseason.

Speaking of the Oilers, they secured second place in the Pacific Division with 100 points by dropping the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-1. Oilers captain Connor McDavid had a goal and three assists to reach a career-high 122, widening his lead in the scoring race by seven points over the Florida Panthers’ Jonathan Huberdeau. Mike Smith kicked out 33 shots for his 10th straight win.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Penguins winger Jason Zucker left the game in the first period with an undisclosed ailment. The Penguins (101 points) have already secured a playoff berth but hold a one-point lead over the Washington Capitals for third place in the Metropolitan Division.

As for the Capitals, they failed to overtake the Penguins after falling 4-1 to the New York Islanders. Ilya Sorokin made 32 stops for the Islanders. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin missed this game as he’s listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

The Colorado Avalanche gained ground on the Florida Panthers for first place in the overall standings with a 5-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues, snapping the latter’s 16-game points streak. Darcy Kuemper made 29 saves for the win while Valeri Nichushkin had a goal and an assist as the Avalanche (118 points) moved within two points of the Panthers. Blues center Ryan O’Reilly scored twice and collected an assist. The Blues remain in third place in the Central Division with 109 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews returned to the lineup after sitting out the last four games dealing with undisclosed minor injuries. Sidelined teammates Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen are both expected to return in time for the playoffs next week.

Meanwhile, the Panthers dropped a 4-2 decision to the Boston Bruins. Brad Marchand, Tayler Hall and David Pastrnak each collected two points as the Bruins (105 points) sit three points behind the Lightning for third place in the Atlantic Division. The Panthers sit first overall with 120 points.

The Minnesota Wild remains tied with the Blues with 109 points following a 5-3 loss to the Arizona Coyotes. Karel Vejmelka got the win with a 35-save performance while Shayne Gostisbehere collected three assists. Kirill Kaprizov had two assists for Minnesota, who holds second place in the Central over the Blues with a game in hand. Wild forward Marcus Foligno returned to the lineup after missing the past four games due to a bout of COVID-19.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild and Blues will face each other in the opening round of the playoffs. The outcome of their final games will decide which one gets home-ice advantage in their upcoming series.

Quinn Hughes set a single-season record for Vancouver Canucks defensemen by reaching 66 with a goal and two assists in a 5-2 victory over the Seattle Kraken. The Canucks were officially eliminated from playoff contention by the Stars’ win over the Golden Knights. Vancouver goalie Thatcher Demko missed this game as he’s listed as day-to-day with an unspecified injury.

Ottawa Senators forward Drake Batherson scored twice, including the winner in overtime, to down the New Jersey Devils 5-4. Tim Stutzle had two goals and two assists and Brady Tkachuk picked up three helpers for the Senators. Nolan Foote tallied twice for the Devils.

The Anaheim Ducks beat the San Jose Sharks 5-2. Max Comtois and Sonny Milano each had a goal and an assist for the Ducks.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price is traveling with his teammates to New York, where he has a medical appointment concerning his surgically repaired knee. He’s listed as day-to-day.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s sparked speculation in Montreal over whether Price will play in the Canadiens’ final game of the season on Friday against the Panthers as well as concerns about whether he can continue his playing career. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports Price still plans on being in net for Friday’s game and he wants to play next season. Nevertheless, we can expect questions about Price’s future to carry over into the offseason.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – April 24, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – April 24, 2022

In the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup, Pierre-Luc Dubois’ contract negotiations could be worth monitoring and the Wild must find a way to sign Kevin Fiala.

SPORTSNET (via KUKLA’S KORNER): Elliotte Friedman believes Pierre-Luc Dubois’ contract talks with the Winnipeg Jets will be worth watching this offseason. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights sitting two years away from unrestricted free agency.

Winnipeg Jets center Pierre-Luc Dubois (NHL Images).

Friedman speculated Dubois’ name could be out there in this summer’s trade market if the 23-year-old center and the Jets fail to reach an agreement on a long-term contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubois is completing a two-year deal with a $5 million annual cap hit but an actual salary of $6.65 million for this season. Cap Friendly indicates it’ll cost the Jets $6 million to qualify his rights. I daresay he’ll be seeking more than that on his new contract.

The Jets have $66.3 million invested in 15 active players for 2022-23 with Dubois as their priority signing. They have the talent to be a better club than they’ve been this season but their defensive game needs improvement while their scorers need more consistency.

Whatever moves they make to address their issues this summer will likely factor into their contract discussions with Dubois. He’ll want assurances the Jets can get back on track and become a perennial playoff contender. He will also want to be paid as a first-line center, a role he took over from Mark Scheifele during this season. He could seek $8 million annually, which could mean shedding a high-salaried player to free up cap space for his new contract.

Having given up Patrik Laine to get Dubois last season, it wouldn’t be a good look for this franchise to start peddling him this summer. They might not have much choice if he only wants a two-year deal taking him up to UFA eligibility. However, I believe they’ll get him signed to a long-term deal but it will be expensive.

NBC SPORTS: Adam Gretz believes the Minnesota Wild must find a way to re-sign Kevin Fiala, who’s formed a dominant scoring duo with rookie Matt Boldy this season. The 25-year-old winger is completing a one-year, $5.1 million contract and is enjoying a career year with 32 goals and 82 points.

Fiala is due for a significant raise on his next contract. The Wild, however, face a significant salary-cap crunch over the next three seasons following last summer’s contract buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.

Gretz suggests they need to shed some salary to free up the cap space needed to keep Fiala in the fold. They could ship out a depth forward such as Marcus Foligno or Jordan Greenway or Tyson Jost, or perhaps a higher-salaried player such as Matt Dumba or Jonas Brodin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fiala has garnered praise for his improved performance this season. Cynics will suggest he only stepped up his game to land a lucrative long-term deal but I don’t buy into that theory. He’s genuinely worked hard to better all aspects of his game, so much so that parting with him now would be a serious blow to their top-six depth.

As Gretz points out, the Wild must make a cost-cutting deal in order to re-sign Fiala. They have over $74 million invested in 17 players for next season. That includes the $12.7 million buyout hit for Parise and Suter. Moving a higher-salaried player will make it easier to free up sufficient space for Fiala’s next season.

Dumba has frequently surfaced in trade rumors over the past couple of seasons. He’s popular among his teammates but is only a year away from UFA status and carries a 10-team no-trade list. He’d be easier to move than Brodin, who has a full no-movement clause. He would also fetch a better return than Greenway or Foligno.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 19, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 19, 2022

The Canucks keep their slim playoff hopes alive, Cale Makar sets a franchise record, Johnny Gaudreau reaches two scoring milestones, the stars of the week are revealed and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Vancouver Canucks remained in the chase for the final Western Conference playoff berth with a 6-2 win over the Dallas Stars. Elias Pettersson scored twice and added an assist, Brock Boeser and Jason Dickson each had three points and Thatcher Demko made 28 saves. Roope Hintz tallied twice for the Stars while Jake Oettinger got the hook after giving up four goals on 19 shots. The Stars hold the final Western wild-card spot with 91 points. Winners of six straight games, the Canucks sit five points back.

Meanwhile, the Vegas Golden Knights’ efforts to gain ground on the Stars and widen their lead over the Canucks took a hit with a 3-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils. Andrew Hammond kicked out 42 shots while Nathan Bastian had a goal and an assist for the Devils. The Golden Knights remain four points behind the Stars and are now just one point ahead of the Canucks.

Alex Ovechkin scored his 48th goal of the season and Marcus Johansson netted the game-winner as the Washington Capitals defeated the Colorado Avalanche 3-2, snapping the latter’s nine-game winning streak. Ovechkin tied Teemu Selanne for the most goals in a season by a player aged 36-or-older. The Avalanche’s Cale Makar picked up an assist to set a franchise record of 83 points by a defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avs remain atop the overall standings with 116 points, two points up on the Florida Panthers. Earlier in the day, they announced defenseman Devon Toews will take the next four games off to recover from a couple of minor injuries before the playoffs. Having clinched a playoff berth over the weekend, the Capitals (96 points) are one point behind the third-place Pittsburgh Penguins in the Metropolitan Division.

Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau (NHL Images).

Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau scored two goals in a 5-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Gaudreau passed the 600-point milestone and became the first player since Jaromir Jagr in 1995-96 to reach 85 even-strength points in a season. Matthew Tkachuk collected two assists as the Flames (103 points) hold a nine-point lead over the Edmonton Oilers for first place in the Pacific Division.

The Carolina Hurricanes downed the Arizona Coyotes 5-3 to take over sole possession of first place in the Metropolitan Division with 106 points. Max Domi and Nino Niederreiter each had a goal and an assist for the Hurricanes while Coyotes goalie Karel Vejmelka made 46 saves.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Earlier in the day, the Hurricanes announced forwards Jordan Staal and Jesperi Kotkaniemi are day-to-day with injuries. Goaltender Frederik Andersen underwent an MRI yesterday for a lower-body injury and will be re-evaluated in a week’s time.

Seattle Kraken rookie Matty Beniers scored to collect his third point in his first three NHL games in a 4-2 win over the Ottawa Senators. Kraken defenseman Vince Dunn collected three assists. Senators captain Brady Tkachuk scored his 28th goal of the season.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko, Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala and Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith are the league’s three stars for the week ending April 17.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: David Pastrnak, Hampus Lindholm and Linus Ullmark remained sidelined and won’t be traveling with the Bruins on their two-game road trip to St. Louis and Pittsburgh.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins have clinched a playoff berth so there’s no need to rush those players back into action. They’ll want them healthy for the upcoming playoffs.

MLIVE.COM: Detroit Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin will miss his club’s final six games of this season after undergoing core muscle surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A disappointing end to Larkin’s season. He’s their leading scorer with 31 goals and 69 points, marking his best performance since his career-high 32-goal, 73-point effort in 2018-19.

NEW YORK POST: Islanders center Mathew Barzal was fined $2,500.00 by the department of player safety for making contact with Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner from the bench on Sunday. Barzal grabbed Marner’s jersey and held on to him for a couple of seconds.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild winger Marcus Foligno was placed in COVID protocol ahead of tonight’s game against the Montreal Canadiens.

NEW YORK POST‘s Mollie Walker yesterday tweeted that Rangers winger Kaapo Kakko (lower body) is listed as week-to-week.

NHL.COM: Canadiens forward Michael Pezzetta received a two-game suspension for an illegal check on Capitals winger T.J. Oshie on Saturday.

TSN: Former NFL running back Marshawn Lynch and recording artist Macklemore are joining the Seattle Kraken’s minority investor group.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: The Capitals will be bringing back their “screaming eagle” logo for 2022-23.

THE ATHLETIC: Long-time Flyers trainers Jim McCrossin and Sal Raffa are suing the club’s ownership claiming they were unknowingly exposed to cancer-causing chemicals used in Zambonis at the club’s training facility.










NHL Rumor Mill – April 8, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – April 8, 2022

In today’s NHL rumor mill, speculation on how the Wild might make room to re-sign Kevin Fiala plus a look at what might be in store for the Sharks under a new general manager.

DAILY FACEOFF: Chris Gear recently examined ways for the Minnesota Wild to escape their salary cap hell following 2021-22 when the buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter bite deeply into their payroll for the next three seasons. The most immediate effect will be felt in the club’s efforts to sign winger Kevin Fiala to a new contract.

Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala (NHL Images).

Fiala, 25, is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s a year away from unrestricted free agent eligibility. He’s completing a one-year, $5.1 million deal and is enjoying a career-best performance with 61 points in 69 games.

Gear speculates it could cost the Wild $6.5 million to sign Fiala. He wondered if they might part with Jordan Greenway or Marcus Foligno or perhaps consider moving defenseman Matt Dumba or winger Mats Zuccarello.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wild GM Bill Guerin knew full well he was putting his club into a cap crunch over the next three years when he bought out Parise and Suter. I daresay he’s got several options in mind to address this issue for next season.

Guerin could simply trade Fiala this summer if unable to reach an agreement with the winger on a new contract and use the savings to invest in younger, cheaper talent. Otherwise, he’ll have to make a cost-cutting deal or two to keep Fiala in the fold. Greenway or Foligno would be easiest to move given their affordable contracts and lack of no-trade protection.

Dumba’s been a fixture in the rumor mill over the past two seasons. He’s a year away from UFA eligibility. While he should draw interest in the trade market, his $6 million cap hit and 10-team no-trade clause are potential stumbling blocks.

Zuccarello also carries a $6 million annual average value and a full no-movement clause. However, the no-trade portion becomes modified after this season to a 10-team no-trade list. Nevertheless, teams could be reluctant to take on a 34-year-old winger with two years remaining on his contract.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the San Jose Sharks will conduct an extensive external search for a new general manager after Doug Wilson announced yesterday he’s stepping down for health reasons. They intend to take their time as several candidates might not be available until the summer.

Ownership has faith in the current management to handle the draft and free agency until a suitable replacement for Wilson is found. They’re not interested in a full rebuild and that could affect which candidates are interested in the job.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Sheng Peng also noted the Sharks’ unwillingness for a full rebuild, pointing to their recent signing of Tomas Hertl to an eight-year contract extension. He also believes the reason they’re not handing the role to assistant GM Joe Will, noting they’re seeking an infusion of new ideas as well as different types of candidates. Will also didn’t deny interest in the job.

Peng also thinks Bob Boughner’s job as head coach remains safe for now. That could depend on who eventually takes over for Wilson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Will did a good job filling in for Wilson. He re-signed Hertl, terminated Evander Kane’s contract and acquired promising goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen before the trade deadline. If he doesn’t end up with the GM job, he’ll likely remain in the front office as assistant GM.

The Sharks have several aging stars carrying expensive contracts that could prove difficult to move. With ownership uninterested in rebuilding, Wilson’s replacement will have to find suitable players to incorporate with those veterans in order to build a serious playoff contender.

As noted in yesterday’s rumor mill, the Sharks could trim some payroll to make room for younger talent. Kahkonen’s addition means James Reimer or Adin Hill will be shopped this summer. They could attempt to move Kevin Labanc and his $4.75 million cap hit or Radim Simek and $2.25 million annual average value.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 13, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 13, 2022

Recaps of Saturday’s action, Hurricanes close to re-signing Kotkaniemi, Avs re-sign Francouz, Landeskog and Chychrun injured, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Artemi Panarin had a goal and four assists to lead the New York Rangers to a 7-4 victory over the Dallas Stars. Dryden Hunt also collected three assists while Ryan Strome and K’Andre Miller each had two points for the Rangers (79 points), who moved ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins into second place in the Metropolitan Division. John Klingberg, Esa Lindell and Roope Hintz each had two points for the Stars (67 points), who sit one point behind the Vegas Golden Knights for the final Western Conference wild-card berth.

New York Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin (NHL Images).

The Carolina Hurricanes took over first place in the overall standings by downing the Philadelphia Flyers 3-1, extending their home points streak to 13 games. Hurricanes goaltender Frederik Andersen made 28 saves while Jordan Martinook and Sebastian Aho scored unanswered goals in the third period. The Hurricanes and Colorado Avalanche each have 87 points but the Canes hold a game in hand.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid scored twice to lead his club over the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1. Mikko Koskinen made 31 saves for the win, Tyson Barrie collected two assists in his return from injured reserve while Josh Archibald was activated off long-term injury reserve for the Oilers (68 points), who moved ahead of the Golden Knights into third place in the Pacific Division. The Lightning (80 points) have dropped three straight and hold a one-point lead over the Toronto Maple Leafs for second place in the Atlantic Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid regained first place in the scoring race with 83 points, one up on Florida Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau and two ahead of teammate Leon Draisaitl.

Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom made 19 saves for his league-leading ninth shutout of the season in a 3-0 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Elias Lindholm reached the 30-goal plateau for the first time in his career and Matthew Tkachuk collected two assists. With 79 points, the Flames hold a seven-point lead over the Los Angeles Kings for first place in the Pacific Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flames defenseman Oliver Kylington missed this game with a lower-body injury and is listed as day-to-day.

The Kings, meanwhile, were shut out by the San Jose Sharks 5-0. Adin Hill made 29 saves in his first start since Jan. 29 while teammate Timo Meier had a goal and two assists.

St. Louis Blues forward Robert Thomas scored twice and set up two others in a 7-4 victory over the Nashville Predators. The Blues blew a 3-0 lead but recovered on three unanswered third-period goals by Thomas, David Perron and Justin Faulk. Matt Duchene scored twice for the Predators, including his 30th goal of the season. The Blues hold a three-point lead over the Minnesota Wild for second place in the Central Division with 75 points. With 70 points, the Predators hold a two-point lead over the Golden Knights for the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

The Boston Bruins nipped the Arizona Coyotes 3-2 on a late goal by Charlie Coyle. Craig Smith scored twice and Jeremy Swayman made 27 saves as the Bruins (77 points) hold a three-point lead over the Washington Capitals for the first Eastern Conference wild-card spot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun left the game in the second period following a collision with a Bruins player. No update was provided but the club is hopeful he’ll be day-to-day. Chychrun has been a fixture in the trade rumor mill for the past couple of months. Coyotes forward Christian Fischer missed the game with an upper-body injury and is considered day-to-day.

Patrick Kane collected three assists while Jonathan Toews and Caleb Jones each scored twice as the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Ottawa Senators 6-3. With 1,156 points, Kane moved in second place among the Blackhawks’ all-time scoring leaders. Blackhawks defenseman Connor Murphy was stretchered from the game after being hit into the boards in the first period. He wasn’t taken to hospital and remained at the arena under the team’s medical supervision. Murphy is traveling back to Chicago with his teammates.

Shootout goals by Tomas Tatar and Jesper Bratt gave the New Jersey Devils a 2-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. Devils goalie Nico Daws made 33 saves in regulation and overtime. The loss leaves the Ducks four points out of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Ducks defenseman Josh Manson returned from injured reserve but forward Sam Steel wound up on IR with a facial injury.

A shootout goal by Marcus Johansson lifted the Seattle Kraken over the Montreal Canadiens 4-3. The Canadiens rallied on third-period goals by Alexander Romanov and Nick Suzuki to force overtime and the shootout. Canadiens defenseman Joel Edmundson made his season debut after being sidelined last summer by a back injury while Kale Clague was placed on injured reserve with an upper-body injury.

HEADLINES

TSN: The Carolina Hurricanes are reportedly close to agreeing to an eight-year contract extension with center Jesperi Kotkaniemi. It’s believed to be worth between $4.25 million and $4.5 million annually. The Hurricanes successfully signed away Kotkaniemi last summer from the Montreal Canadiens with a one-year, $6.1 million offer sheet.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Chris Johnston reports the deal cannot be formally completed until after the March 21 trade deadline because it’s an eight-year extension. Kotkaniemi was never a $6 million player but that was the salary needed to sign him away from the Canadiens. It was widely assumed he’d accept a lesser annual cap-hit on a long-term deal after this season.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog will be sidelined indefinitely by a knee injury. The club hopes to have him back before the start of the playoffs in late April or early May. Defenseman Samuel Girard will miss approximately four weeks with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Landeskog and Girard earn a combined $12 million. If they’re placed on long-term injury reserve it would provide the Avalanche with much-needed salary-cap flexibility to add a player or two before the March 21 trade deadline.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: The Avalanche signed backup goaltender Pavel Francouz to a two-year, $4 million contract extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It remains to be seen if Darcy Kuemper will also get an extension. The Avs starter is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets captain Boone Jenner is listed as week-to-week with a lower-back injury.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Flyers forward Scott Laughton is sidelined indefinitely after suffering a concussion during Thursday’s game against the Florida Panthers.

TSN: Minnesota Wild winger Marcus Foligno was fined $5,000.00 by the department of player safety for kneeing Blue Jackets winger Jakub Voracek on Friday.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 9, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 9, 2022

Sidney Crosby tallies his 499th career goal, Brad Marchand could face another suspension, Tuukka Rask’s comeback could be over, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Sidney Crosby tallied his 499th career NHL goal and Danton Heinen scored twice as the Pittsburgh Penguins overcame a 2-0 deficit to double up the Boston Bruins 4-2. Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry made 43 saves for the win but was also on the receiving end of a punch and a stick to the head from Bruins winger Brad Marchand late in the game. Marchand received a match penalty and could face supplemental discipline for attempting to injure Jarry. David Pastrnak scored both Bruins goals.

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby (NHL Images).

The Penguins are tied with the New York Rangers with 64 points but the latter holds second place in the Metropolitan Division with 30 wins while the Pens have 28. With 54 points, the Bruins remain four points behind the Washington Capitals, who hold the first wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins also lost captain Patrice Bergeron in the third period when he fell awkwardly into the boards following a collision with Crosby. He was assisted off and the Penguins captain received a minor penalty for roughing though the contact was minor and didn’t appear intentional on Crosby’s part. **CORRECTION: Crosby received the roughing penalty a minute later for a different incident.**

Speaking of the Capitals, they suffered their fourth loss in their last six games by falling 5-4 to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Boone Jenner snapped a 4-4 tie late in the third period while teammate Patrik Laine scored twice and collected an assist. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin picked up an assist after emerging from COVID protocol yesterday.

Alex Pietrangelo scored to collect his 500th career NHL point while Laurent Brossoit kicked out 28 shots as the Vegas Golden Knights blanked the Edmonton Oilers 4-0. William Karlsson and Reilly Smith each had a goal and an assist. Oilers goalie Mike Smith made 24 saves in his first start since Jan. 5. The Golden Knights sit on top of the Pacific Division with 59 points while the Oilers (49 points) remain three points behind the Calgary Flames for the final Western Conference wild-card spot.

The Winnipeg Jets got a 28-save shutout from Connor Hellebuyck in a 2-0 victory over the Minnesota Wild. Mark Scheifele and Nate Schmidt were the goalscorers as the Jets (49 points) sit seven points behind the Flames. The Wild remain in third place in the Central Division with 59 points. Wild forward Marcus Foligno received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for kneeing Jets forward Andrew Copp in the head during their third-period scrap.

Vancouver Canucks defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson had three assists and winger Conor Garland scored against their former club in a 5-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes. With 48 points, the Canucks are four back of the Flames.

Ottawa Senators winger Brady Tkachuk scored two goals as his club held on to down the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3. The Hurricanes were down 4-0 but made it interesting with three goals in the third period. Anton Forsberg stopped 42 shots as the Senators have gone 5-2-2 in their last nine contests. The Hurricanes sit in first place in the Metropolitan Division with 65 points.

The New Jersey Devils snapped a seven-game losing skid by humiliating the lowly Montreal Canadiens 7-1. Michael McLeod scored twice for the Devils.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some pundits are wondering how many more embarrassing lopsided losses the Canadiens front office is willing to endure before they start making changes. Apparently, they’re willing to endure many more over the remainder of this season.

Trades seem unlikely at the moment because they probably prefer waiting until the March 21 deadline when they hope the value of their trade candidates is at their highest. A coaching change would have a more immediate effect but they committed to head coach Dominique Ducharme for the rest of the season and seem reluctant to change their minds.

The Canadiens have been walloped by injuries and illnesses to key players throughout the season. Ducharme hasn’t been placed in the best position as a coach to deal with these unique situations he’s faced since becoming their head coach. Nevertheless, they’re now mired in a toxic atmosphere. Many veterans appear to have tuned out Ducharme knowing he’s a goner at season’s end while their younger players are growing discouraged with the constant losing. That’s not going to help improve the club’s culture going forward.

Bottom line is the Canadiens are a laughingstock and an easy two points for most clubs, including those fading in the playoff race like the Devils. That’s not going to change over the remainder of this season. It might help improve the Canadiens’ chances of winning the draft lottery, but it’s not a healthy mood for a franchise facing what could be years of rebuilding.

HEADLINES

THE ATHLETIC: Sources tell Fluto Shinzawa that the Boston Bruins don’t expect Tuukka Rask to continue his comeback. He felt discomfort in his surgically repaired hip following his last game on Jan. 24 and has been on injured reserve. He could finalize his retirement in the next several days.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Rask is calling it a career he’ll be retiring as one of the top goaltenders in Bruins history. He backstopped them to two Stanley Cup Finals (2013 and 2019), won the Vezina in 2014 and was a finalist in 2020, and is their franchise leader in games-played for goalies with 564 and win with 308.

CBS SPORTS: Anaheim Ducks defenseman Josh Manson (finger) was placed on injured reserve yesterday.

TSN: The Tampa Bay Lightning signed forward Patrick Maroon to a two-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $1 million.

The St. Louis Blues signed defenseman Robert Bortuzzo to a two-year, $1.9 million contract extension.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks defenseman Tucker Poolman remains sidelined with headaches and migraines and continues to meet with doctors.

CBS SPORTS: Blues defenseman Scott Perunovich was placed on IR with an upper-body injury.

TSN: The Seattle Kraken claimed forward Austin Czarnik off waivers from the New York Islanders.

ESPN.COM: The Anaheim Ducks named Hall-of-Famer and former captain Scott Niedermayer as a special advisor to their hockey operations department.

NHL.COM: The Philadelphia Flyers yesterday named Daniel Briere as special assistant to general manager Chuck Fletcher.