Game recaps, Senators fire head coach Guy Boucher, plus injury updates and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
TSN: The Ottawa Senators fired head coach Guy Boucher, naming Marc Crawford as interim coach for the remainder of the season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Having purged their roster of their top pending unrestricted free agents, the Senators are getting an early start on shaking up the coaching staff. This move marks the sixth coaching change since 2009.
Given the Senators’ decline since the start of last season, it’s unsurprising Boucher got the boot. While a lot of their issues weren’t of his making, his coaching style seems to have a short shelf life. The players buy in for the first season or two and then they start tuning him out.
NHL.COM: The New York Islanders welcomed John Tavares back with a 6-1 beatdown of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Islanders fans jeered and booed Tavares (who signed with the Leafs last summer) at every opportunity, including during the Isles’ video tribute to their former captain.
Toronto Maple Leafs center John Tavares was jeered mercilessly by New York Islanders fans as their team rolled to a 6-1 victory on Thursday (Photo via NHL Images)
Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk avoided serious injury after being cut under his chin by the skate blade of Leafs winger Mitch Marner. Earlier in the day, the Leafs announced defenseman Travis Dermott will be sidelined four weeks with a shoulder injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most fans will jeer and boo their departed stars when they play their first home game against their former team, but usually put that aside to applaud during the video tribute. Not so for Tavares, as Isles fans feel he betrayed them by signing with Toronto.
This could also be the result of over three decades of pent-up anger and frustration among a fan base whose team put them through a lot of embarrassment and humiliation prior to this season. Tavares’ departure was just one more kick in the teeth for Islanders’ supporters, making his return an easy outlet for their emotions. The fact the Isles are exceeding expectations and sit atop the Metropolitan Division made taunting their former franchise player more cathartic for their long-suffering fans.
Brad Richardson tallied four goals to lead the Arizona Coyotes (67 points) to a 5-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks, moving to within one point of the final Western Conference wild-card berth. The Canucks now sit five points out of contention.
Seth Jones’ overtime goal gave the Columbus Blue Jackets a 4-3 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. With the win, the Blue Jackets (75 points) rose to third place in the Metropolitan Division.
Three third-period goals scored within a minute and 28 seconds powered the Boston Bruins to a 4-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bruins extended their points streak to 15 games while halting the Lightning’s win streak at 10 games.
The Dallas Stars moved into the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference with a 4-3 overtime win over the Los Angeles Kings, handing the latter their 10th straight loss. Roope Hintz tallied the winner in the extra frame
Reilly Smith scored twice while Shea Theodore tallied the game-winner in a shootout as the Arizona Coyotes edged the Florida Panthers 6-5. Panthers winger Mike Hoffman also scored twice and teammate Jonathan Huberdeau had a four-point performance.
Goaltender Mikko Koskinen made 35 saves as the Edmonton Oilers doubled up the Ottawa Senators 4-2, handing the latter their sixth straight defeat. Connor McDavid scored his 33rd goal of the season as the Oilers (61 points) sit seven points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. Earlier in the day, the Oilers announced winger Jesse Puljujarvi will undergo season-ending hip surgery.
SPORTSNET: New Jersey Devils left wing Taylor Hall under arthroscopic knee surgery earlier this week but it’s unclear if he’ll return before the end of the season.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: Sabres goaltender Carter Hutton is questionable for tonight’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins after “tweaking” a lower-body injury during practice yesterday. Forward Vladimir Sobotka (upper-body) and defenseman Marco Scandella (lower-body) are listed as day-to-day.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price recently spent several minutes with a young fan whose mother promised to do everything she could to help the young boy meet his hero but who passed away from cancer before it could happen. Price comforted the youngster with a long hug, signed his jersey and gave him two autographed sticks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Carey Price: class act.