NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 22, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 22, 2021

The Lightning thump the Islanders to take a 3-2 lead in their semifinal series, updates on the Golden Knights and Canadiens, 18 players exempt from the expansion draft, the latest notable contract signings and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning are one game away from returning to the Stanley Cup Final after crushing the New York Islanders 8-0 in Game 5 of their semifinal series. Steven Stamkos and Alex Killorn each scored twice, Nikita Kucherov collected three assists, Brayden Point scored to extend his goals streak to eight games, and Andrei Vasilevskiy turned in a 21-save shutout.

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos (NHL Images).

Islanders center Mathew Barzal could face supplemental discipline from the NHL department of player safety after receiving a five-minute major and game misconduct for cross-checking Lightning defenseman Jan Rutta, who was shaken up and played just one shift in the third period.

The Lightning holds a 3-2 series lead and can wrap up the series in Game 6 Wednesday on Long Island.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That was the Lightning’s most dominating performance of these playoffs. It was also the Islanders’ worst effort of the postseason. The Bolts jumped from the gate early with three first-period goals, chasing Isles starter Semyon Varlamov from the net. Backup Ilya Sorokin didn’t fare any better, allowing five goals on 26 shots.

This loss isn’t all on the Isles goaltenders. Their teammates seemed caught off guard by the Lightning’s strong start and never really mounted much of a response.

Barzal’s frustration boiled over when he crosschecked Rutta. It could prove more costly to the Isles in Game 6 if his actions result in suspension.

LAS VEGAS SUN: The Vegas Golden Knights’ top forwards are struggling to score in their semifinal series with the Montreal Canadiens. Nicolas Roy has two goals, Mattias Janmark one, and that’s it for their scoring forwards. Their defensemen have accounted for the bulk of their offense.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens have done a good job thus far bottling up Vegas’ top scorers. They’ll have another opportunity to find a way to thwart the Habs’ tight-checking system in Game 5 tonight in Las Vegas.

TSN: Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher believes the longer this series goes the more pressure falls on the heavily favored Golden Knights. “As this series goes on, we get more and more comfortable in these situations and we’re looking forward to it. We’ve shortened this series to a best-of-three,” said Gallagher.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tonight’s game could determine the direction of this series. The winner will have a chance to close it out in Game 6 on Thursday in Montreal.

SPORTSNET: Mark Spector weighs in on the poor quality of officiating in this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mark (no relation) isn’t the only pundit raising questions about the questionable calls and missed penalties in every series thus far. We can expect this issue to be raised by reporters during NHL commissioner Gary Bettman’s annual postseason press conference prior to Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma expressed concern over the recent positive COVID-19 tests of Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme and Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon. He suspects they contracted the coronavirus in Las Vegas, where transmission rates are six times higher than in Quebec as health guidelines in Vegas have gone from relaxed to non-existent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Regardless of where Ducharme and McCrimmon were infected with COVID-19, the league and the two clubs must ensure their health protocols for this series remain strictly enforced. An outbreak among the players could put their health at risk and derail their series.

CAP FRIENDLY: 18 NHL players are exempt from next month’s expansion draft due to injury or career-ending illness. They include Anaheim’s Ryan Kesler, Arizona’s Marian Hossa, Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg, Tampa Bay’s Marian Gaborik and Washington’s Henrik Lundqvist.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks re-signed forward Matt Nieto to a two-year, $1.7 million contract.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars re-signed forward Blake Comeau to a one-year, $1 million contract.

ESPN.COM: J.T. Brown has retired from professional hockey to join the expansion Seattle Kraken as a television analyst. He played seven NHL seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Anaheim Ducks and Minnesota Wild from 2011-12 to 2018-19, finishing with 72 points in 365 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Brown in his broadcasting career.

NHL.COM: Minnesota Wild assistant general manager Tom Kurvers passed away Monday from lung cancer at age 58. He was diagnosed in 2019 despite being a non-smoker.

Kurvers spent 11 NHL seasons as a defenseman with the Montreal Canadiens, Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, New York Islanders and Anaheim Ducks from 1984-85 to 1994-95, finishing with 421 points in 659 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Kurvers’ family, friends, former teammates and associates, and the Wild organization.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 9, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 9, 2021

Connor McDavid reaches 100 points in 53 games, the Leafs and Penguins secure division titles, the Predators clinch a playoff spot, John Tortorella reportedly won’t return next season as Blue Jackets coach, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid reached 100 points in his 53rd game of the season in a 4-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks. McDavid had a goal and three assists to become the first player to score at least 100 points in the same number of games since Mario Lemieux (126 points) and Jaromir Jagr (101) in 1995-96. Teammate Leon Draisaitl scored twice to reach his 500th career point. With 68 points, the Oilers are assured of second place in the Scotia North Division.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That was a remarkable achievement by McDavid. He’s the favorite to win the Hart Memorial Trophy this season as the most valuable player.

The Toronto Maple Leafs won its first division title in 21 years with a 3-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens, preventing the latter from clinching a playoff spot. The Leafs overcame a 2-0 deficit with second-period goals by Peter Engvall, William Nylander and Mitch Marner. They sit atop the North Division with 76 points. The Canadiens played without center Phillip Danault, who suffered a concussion during Thursday’s game between the two clubs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Montreal holds a 10-point lead over the Calgary Flames but the latter has three games in hand while the Canadiens have two games left in the schedule. The Habs need just one point or the Flames to lose one of their remaining games to clinch a playoff berth.

Ottawa Senators rookie Tim Stutzle tallied his first career hat trick as the Ottawa Senators doubled up the Winnipeg Jets 4-2. Mark Scheifele tallied his 200th career goal for the Jets (57 points), who remain just two points ahead of the fourth-place Canadiens.

The Pittsburgh Penguins clinched first place in the MassMutual East Division by blanking the Buffalo Sabres 1-0. Maxime Legace made 26 saves for the shutout while Jeff Carter scored the only goal. The Penguins finish the season with 77 points, two up on the Washington Capitals.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Carter’s offense has really picked up since the Penguins acquired him from the Los Angeles Kings at the trade deadline. After collecting just 19 points in 40 games with the Kings, Carter has nine goals and 11 points in 14 games with the Penguins.

An overtime goal by Conor Sheary saw the Capitals squeak past the Washington Capitals 2-1. Craig Anderson kicked out 28 shots for the win as the Capitals sit four points ahead of the third-place Boston Bruins.

The Bruins, meanwhile, dropped a 5-4 decision to the New York Rangers. Mika Zibanejad scored twice, including his 200th career goal while Boston winger David Pastrnak also tallied the 200th of his career. The Bruins (71 points) hold a one-point lead over the New York Islanders with a game in hand.

Speaking of the Islanders, they got two goals from Brock Nelson to beat the New Jersey Devils 5-1. Mathew Barzal had a goal and an assist for the fourth-place Isles.

The Nashville Predators clinched the final playoff spot in the Discover Central Division by beating the Carolina Hurricanes 3-1. Luke Kunin scored two goals for the Predators (62 points), who will face the Hurricanes in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No one saw the Predators in this position two months ago. A six-game winning streak in late March sparked an impressive season-saving surge in the standings.

A hat trick by Alexander Wennberg carried the Florida Panthers over the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-1. The Panthers (77 points) have won five straight games to move two points ahead of the Lightning into second place in the Central. These two teams will face off in the opening round of the playoffs. Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman missed this game with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reports Hedman’s been dealing with this injury since March 30 and he could face surgery following the playoffs. A hobbled Hedman will affect the Lightning’s efforts to successfully defend their Stanley Cup title.

The Vegas Golden Knights maintained their lead atop the Honda West Division with a 4-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues. Reilly Smith netted his first career hat trick as the Golden Knights (80 points) hold a four-point lead over the second-place Colorado Avalanche.

Defenseman Devon Toews scored twice as the Avalanche nipped the Los Angeles Kings 3-2. Andre Burakovsky extended his points streak to five games with two assists. The Avs (76 points) sit one point ahead of the third-place Minnesota Wild with a game in hand.

An overtime goal by Victor Rask gave the Wild a 4-3 win over the Anaheim Ducks. It was the final game of Ducks goaltender Ryan Miller’s NHL career.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild saluted Miller following the game by lining up to shake his hand. He ends his career with 391 victories, a 2.64 goals-against average, .914 save percentage and 44 shutouts.

Phil Kessel scored in overtime in his 900th consecutive game as the Arizona Coyotes downed the San Jose Sharks 5-4. Kessel also reached the 20-goal mark for the 12th time in his career.

An overtime goal by Max Domi lifted the Columbus Blue Jackets over the Detroit Red Wings 5-4. Seth Jones collected three assists for the Jackets.

HEADLINES

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline cites sources saying John Tortorella won’t be returning as head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets next season. His contract expires after this season. Tortorella is the winningest coach in franchise history, guiding them to four playoff appearances in six seasons, including the first playoff series win in franchise history.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tortorella won the second of his Jack Adams Awards in 2016-17 for his efforts in getting the Jackets into the playoffs that season. However, the club struggled throughout most of this season, sparking speculation some of the players were growing weary of his demanding ways. He reportedly intends to continue his NHL coaching career.

NHL.COM: The league will relax its COVID-19 restrictions on fully vaccinated teams and players for the upcoming Stanley Cup Playoffs.

TSN: Some players on Canadian teams have started receiving their COVID-19 vaccinations in accordance with Canadian federal and provincial protocols. The Toronto Maple Leafs will begin receiving their shots today.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith and forward Brett Connolly are both in the NHL’s concussion protocol and won’t complete the club’s final two games of the season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 5, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 5, 2021

Another milestone for Alex Ovechkin, Kyle Palmieri withheld from Devils game, the Panthers sit atop the overall standings, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Alex Ovechkin tied Brett Hull for the second-most career power-play goals in NHL history as the Washington Capitals held on for a 5-4 win over the New Jersey Devils. Ovechkin and Hull each have 265 power-play goals, nine behind all-time leader Dave Andreychuk at 274. Ovechkin is also at 725 career goals, six behind Marcel Dionne for fifth on the all-time list.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

With 54 points, the Capitals sit two points up on the New York Islanders for first place in the MassMutual East Division. The Devils held winger Kyle Palmieri out of this game in anticipation of a potential trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll have more on Palmieri’s situation in today’s Rumor Mill update.

The Florida Panthers moved into first overall in the NHL standings by blanking the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-0. Panthers’ goaltender Chris Driedger made 32 saves for the shutout while captain Aleksander Barkov had a goal and an assist. The Panthers have 56 points and hold a two-point lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Discover Central Division while the Blue Jackets remain in seventh with 36 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The red-hot Panthers have won six straight games. Four of those victories came without top defenseman Aaron Ekblad, who’s out for the rest of the regular season with a fractured leg. The Jackets, meanwhile, have won just three of their last 10 games and are falling further out of playoff contention.

The Lightning, meanwhile, suffered a 5-1 defeat at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings, who picked up their first win in Tampa Bay since 2011. Second-period goals by Valtteri Filppula, Michael Rasmussen and Marc Staal powered the Wings to victory. The Lightning (54 points) sits one point ahead of the third-place Carolina Hurricanes.

Speaking of the Hurricanes, they edged the Dallas Stars 1-0 on a goal by Jordan Martinook. Goaltender Petr Mrazek kicked out 28 shots for the shutout in his first game since being sidelined by a broken thumb on Jan. 30. Stars coach Rick Bowness left the game following the second period and was placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list following a positive test result. The Stars (36 points) remain five points out of the fourth and final playoff berth in the Central.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bowness received his COVID vaccination in January. General manager Jim Nill is hopeful this was a false positive as it was what he called a “very low grade” of test result. Goaltender Anton Khudobin missed his scheduled start on Saturday following a positive test but he was removed yesterday from the protocol list after a subsequent negative result.

Third-period goals by John Tavares and Auston Matthews lifted the Toronto Maple Leafs over the Calgary Flames 4-2. Matthews is now at a league-leading 25 goals on the season as the Leafs (53 points) open a six-point lead over the second-place Edmonton Oilers in the Scotia North Division. The Jets are tied with the Oilers with 47 points but the latter has more regulation victories.

A hat trick by Jakob Chychrun carried the Arizona Coyotes over the Anaheim Ducks by a score of 3-2. The Coyotes sit in fourth place in the Honda West Division with 41 points and hold a three-point lead over the St. Louis blues.

THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma reports the number of Vancouver Canucks on the COVID-19 protocol list officially grew to 16 when Jalen Chatfield and Marc Michaelis tested positive yesterday. However, an NHL source claims more than 20 Canucks players and coaches have tested positive with some experiencing symptoms of the Brazilian P.1 variant.

TSN’s Darren Dreger reported Canucks family members are also contracting the coronavirus. He added the variant symptoms including vomiting, cramping and dehydration. However, a source told Postmedia the numbers vary and that it’s under 20. The source also said there haven’t been reports of severe symptoms, with most experiencing mild headaches, fever, fatigue and lethargy, with no reports of vomiting.

The training staff said few Canucks have had severe symptoms. Most are said to be feeling better, with just one player having had an IV administered.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping those symptoms remain mild and those infected make a swift and full recovery. The Canucks are likely to be shut down for at least two weeks by the league given their high number of infections. That’s how long the Dallas Stars and New Jersey Devils were sidelined following their respective outbreaks earlier this season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 4, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 4, 2021

Brad Marchand and Alex Wennberg each tally a hat trick, the Stars and Sharks keep their playoff hopes alive and more Canucks added to the COVID-19 protocol list. Details and more in the NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Brad Marchand tallied a hat trick and David Pastrnak scored twice to lead the Boston Bruins over the Pittsburgh Penguins 7-5. Pittsburgh forwards Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel each had a goal and two assists. With the win, the Bruins (43 points) opened a four-point lead over the Philadelphia Flyers for fourth place in the MassMutual East Division. The Penguins (50 points) are seven points ahead of the Bruins in third, sitting two behind the second-place New York Islanders. The Bruins also learned defenseman Brandon Carlo is listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury suffered on Thursday against the Penguins. 

Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand (NHL Images)

Mathew Barzal scored the winner in a shootout as the Islanders nipped the Flyers 3-2. Anthony Beauvillier scored twice for the Isles but Claude Giroux countered with two to force extra time. The Islanders are tied with the Washington Capitals with 52 points but the latter holds first place in the East with a game in hand. Isles forward Ross Johnston left the game following a first-period fight with Flyers defenseman Samuel Morin and didn’t return.

The Buffalo Sabres picked up their second win in three games by edging the New York Rangers 3-2 in a shootout. Tage Thompson potted the winner for the Sabres. Artemi Panarin scored twice for the Rangers, who are tied with the Flyers with 39 points but the latter holds fifth place in the East Division with a game in hand.

The Tampa Bay Lightning picked up their 17th straight home victory over the Detroit Red Wings by edging the latter 2-1. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 25 saves while Ross Colton and Brayden Point tallied for the Lightning (54 points), who are tied with the Florida Panthers but hold first place in the Discover Central Division with a game in hand.

A hat trick by Alex Wennberg and a 44-save effort by Sergei Bobrovsky gave the Panthers a 5-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. The struggling Jackets sit seventh in the Central with 36 points. Jackets forward Jack Roslovic was a healthy scratch in his contest with just two points in his last six outings.

A 41-save shutout by Juuse Saros carried the Nashville Predators to a 3-0 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Eeli Tolvanen’s 10th goal of the season was also the winning goal as the Predators (41 points) have won seven of their last eight contests, opening a two-point lead over the Blackhawks for fourth in the Central Division.

The Dallas Stars kept their playoff hopes alive with a 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Tanner Kero broke a 2-2 tie while Jake Oettinger kicked out 41 shots for the Stars (36 points), who sit five points behind the fourth-place Predators in the Central Division. The Hurricanes (51 points) remain three points behind the Lightning and Florida Panthers in the Central.

Cale Makar’s goal within the final minute of regulation lifted the Colorado Avalanche over the St. Louis Blues 2-1. Nathan MacKinnon also scored for the Avs (54 points), who won their fourth straight and sit four points up on the Vegas Golden Knights in the Honda West Division. The Blues (38 points) remain one behind the fourth-place Arizona Coyotes.

Third-period goals by Kirill Kaprizov and Joel Eriksson Ek 55 seconds apart rallied the Minnesota Wild over the Vegas Golden Knights 2-1. With 48 points, the Wild are just two back of the second-place Golden Knights in the West Division.

A third-period goal by Dylan Gambrell gave the San Jose Sharks a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings. Evander Kane and Kevin Labanc each had a goal and an assist as the surging Sharks moved into a tie with the Blues, though the latter holds fifth in the West Division on the basis of regulation plus overtime wins.

The Ottawa Senators got two goals from Evgenii Dadonov and 35 saves from Anton Forsberg to beat the Montreal Canadiens 6-3, snapping the latter’s three-game win streak. Artem Anisimov also collected three assists for the Senators while Josh Anderson tallied twice for the Canadiens, who remain in fourth place in the Scotia North Division with 41 points. Habs winger Tyler Toffoli also scored in his return to the lineup after missing three games with a lower-body injury. The Senators played without Colin White, who’s day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

THE PROVINCE: Seven more Vancouver Canucks players were added to the NHL COVID-19 protocol list on Saturday while two more coaches also tested positive. Travis Boyd, Thatcher Demko, Jayce Hawryluk, Bo Horvat, Tyler Myers and Brandon Sutter were the new additions to the list. Several of the cases affecting the club are the highly contagious Brazilian P.1 variant.

Hawryluk is a positive case, marking the second time in a year he’s tested positive for COVID-19. Research shows the P.1 variant is capable of reinfecting people who previously suffered from other strains of the coronavirus.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the NHL is proceeding on the assumption the entire Canucks team will likely test positive. It’s built into the league’s planning going forward, similar to what happened at the start of the season with the Dallas Stars. This is a variant of the coronavirus the league hasn’t seen before.

The Canucks shutdown will last longer than anticipated. They will not be playing next week. The league has discussed future dates with the club but those won’t be announced for a while.

North Division games will likely be scheduled past May 11, using the week of May 10-14 as a buffer. The three US divisions could still start their playoffs on May 11. The league also remains confident it can complete the 56-game schedule.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports there are discussions about holding the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs in a bubble environment similar to last year, though it’s not something anyone wants at this point. Much will depend upon how things evolve between now and then.

Meanwhile, the NHL has issued a memo to its 31 teams reiterating the rules, regulations and best practices for mitigating the spread of COVID-19.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Previous outbreaks among several clubs have put a strain on the schedule, with most teams facing a grueling timetable over the next six weeks making up games postponed earlier in the season. That’s going to take a physical toll on the players over the next month.

The league wants to avoid moving the regular season and playoff schedules forward because they don’t want to push the postseason any deeper into the summer than it already is. They also don’t to risk the Stanley Cup Final being staged at the same time as the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, which are slated to begin on July 23.

Teams want to avoid a playoff bubble because it will adversely affect their already depleted revenue for this season. The players don’t want it because they’ll be separated for weeks from their families. Nevertheless, they could have little choice if the variants of the coronavirus lead to a significant increase in infections among the North American population.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 24, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 24, 2021

Patrick Kane honored for his 1,000th career game, Andrei Vasilevskiy sets a franchise record, three more Canadiens games are postponed by COVID-19 concerns, changes to the NHL Draft and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Patrick Kane collected two assists to lead the Chicago Blackhawks past the Florida Panthers 3-2. Goaltender Kevin Lankinen made 33 saves as Chicago snapped a four-game losing skid. Before the game, the Blackhawks honored Kane for recently playing in his 1,000th career NHL game. Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov missed the game with a lower-body injury. The Hawks (35 points) hold a two-point lead over the Columbus Blue Jackets for fourth place in the Discover Central Division while the Panthers (44 points) remain one point behind the second-place Carolina Hurricanes.

Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane (NHL Images).

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy made 16 saves for his franchise-record 12th consecutive win as his club edged the Dallas Stars 2-1. Second-period goals by Steven Stamkos and Yanni Gourde gave the Lightning the victory. With 50 points, they sit atop the NHL’s overall standings and hold a five-point lead over the Hurricanes in the Central Division. Before the game, Stars coach Rick Bowness announced forward Joel Kiviranta will be sidelined “for a while” with a lower-body injury.

The Nashville Predators got a 31-save performance Juuse Saros to shut out the Detroit Red Wings 2-0. Mikael Granlund and Mathieu Olivier were the goal scorers while captain Roman Josi collected an assist in his first game in two weeks. The Predators (31 points) are four back of the Blackhawks in the Central. Meanwhile, the NHL is investigating an incident during this game when one of the referees was overheard on a hot mic apparently admitting to targeting the Predators for a penalty in the first period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The incident didn’t affect the outcome of the game but it would be a concerning issue for the league if its officials give the impression they’re singling out teams or players for questionable infractions.

Shootout goals by Conor Garland and Christian Dvorak gave the Arizona Coyotes a 5-4 victory over the Colorado Avalanche, snapping the latter’s seven-game winning streak. Arizona overcame a 4-2 deficit on third-period goals by Lawson Crouse and Phil Kessel to force extra time. Coyotes goaltender Antti Raanta was placed on injured reserve before the game with a lower-body injury. Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and two assists with the Avs (43 points), who sit two points behind the Vegas Golden Knights in the Honda West Division. Jonas Johansson made 28 saves in his debut with Colorado. The Coyotes (33 points) are four back of the fourth-place St. Louis Blues.

The New Jersey Devils got a 30-save effort from Mackenzie Blackwood to hold off the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3. Yegor Sharangovich and Travis Zajac each had a goal and an assist for the Devils. Sean Couturier scored twice for the Flyers (34 points), who remain two back of the fourth-place Boston Bruins in the MassMutual East Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers had won just three of their last 10 games. They’ve failed to gain ground on a Bruins team sidelined by COVID-19 protocols.

HEADLINES

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens next three games have been postponed because of COVID-19 protocols. They were scheduled to play the Edmonton Oilers today and Friday and the Ottawa Senators on Sunday. Their game this past Monday with the Oilers was also postponed when Canadiens forwards Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Joel Armia were placed on the COVID protocol list. They remain the only two Habs on the list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens will have a difficult time making up those games. The Gazette reports they’re scheduled to play 16 games in 30 days in April and four games in eight days in May. It will also be a problem for the Oilers.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Four Anaheim Ducks – Danton Heinen, Ben Hutton, Jacob Larsson and Anthony Stolarz – were placed on the COVID-19 protocol list. The total number of players on the list has grown to 15.

TSN: The NHL’s proposed changes to the draft lottery were formally approved yesterday by the league’s board of governors.

Starting this year, only the top-two spots in the draft will be determined by the lottery, down from the previous number of three.

Starting in 2022, a team can move up a maximum of 10 spots, meaning only 11 of the 16 non-playoff teams will be eligible for the first-overall pick. Also starting in 2022, a team can win the lottery no more than twice in a five-year period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pierre LeBrun reports the changes are meant to augment the chances of the bottom teams getting the first-overall pick. That became an issue in three of the last four drafts when teams with the worst record in the league slid to fourth overall in the draft lottery.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin skipped practice yesterday dealing with a lower-body injury. Head coach Peter Laviolette downplayed Ovechkin’s absence by claiming it was “more just maintenance than anything.”

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury and hasn’t been ruled out for tonight’s game against the Winnipeg Jets.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators forward Austin Watson could be sidelined for a while with an injured left arm. He was spotted in the stands during practice yesterday with a cast on that arm.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks forward Kurtis Gabriel was fined $3.017.24 by the NHL’s department of player safety for a pre-game altercation with Los Angeles Kings defenseman Kurtis MacDermid on Monday. Head coach Bob Boughner was fined $5,000.00 and the team received a $25,000.00 fine.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 23, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 23, 2021

Recaps of Monday’s action, Oilers-Canadiens game postponed over COVID-19 concerns, stars of the week and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Third-period goals by Chris Kreider and Kaapo Kakko lifted the New York Rangers over the Buffalo Sabres 5-3, handing the landing their 14th consecutive defeat. Kreider and Kakko tallied twice for the Rangers. Dustin Tokarski played his first NHL games since 2016, making 33 saves after taking over for sidelined Sabres goalie Carter Hutton early in the first period. With the win, the Rangers (32 points) moved within two points of the fifth-place Philadelphia Flyers and within four of the fourth-place Boston Bruins in the MassMutual East Division.

Dougie Hamilton collected an assist to extend his points streak to 12 games as the Carolina Hurricanes blanked the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-0. Alex Nedeljkovic made 19 saves for the shutout and Sebastian Aho picked up two assists. The Hurricanes (45 points) vaulted into second place in the Discover Central Division with a one-point lead over the Florida Panthers. The Blue Jackets (33 points) are tied with the Chicago Blackhawks but slipped to fifth place.

A third-period goal by Chris Tierney gave the Ottawa Senators a 2-1 win over the Calgary Flames. Rookie goaltender Filip Gustavsson kicked out 35 shots for his first NHL victory. The Flames (33 points) remain in sixth place in the Scotia North Division, four points back of the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens.

An overtime goal by Anthony Beauvillier lifted the New York Islanders to a 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. Isles rookie goalie Ilya Sorokin made 36 saves for his eighth straight win. Flyers center Sean Couturier returned to the lineup after missing one game with a hip injury. The Islanders sit in first place in the MassMutual East, two points up on the Washington Capitals. Meanwhile, the Flyers (34 points) sit two points behind the fourth-place Bruins.

Vegas Golden Knights captain Mark Stone (NHL Images).

The Minnesota Wild edged the Anaheim Ducks 2-1 on a third-period goal by Nick Bjugstad. With 39 points, the Wild remains two points ahead of the St. Louis Blues for third place in the Honda West Division. Marcus Johansson returned to the Wild lineup after missing 16 games with an upper-body injury.

Mark Stone scored twice as the Vegas Golden Knights tallied four unanswered goals to down St. Louis 5-1. The Golden Knights have won six of their last seven contests and sit in first place in the West with 45 points, three points up on the Colorado Avalanche. The Blues remain in fourth place with 37 points.

Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck turned in a 22-save shutout and Adam Lowry scored twice to beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-0. Canucks center Brandon Sutter missed the game with an undisclosed injury while captain Bo Horvat limped off in the third period after being struck by a shot from teammate Alex Edler. The Jets sit in third place in the North Division, two points behind the Edmonton Oilers and three up on the Canadiens.

The Colorado Avalanche picked up their seventh straight victory by downing the Arizona Coyotes 5-1. Joonas Donskoi scored two goals and Philipp Grubauer picked up the win with 24 saves. Coyotes defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson left the game with an upper-body injury. With 42 points, the Avs hold a four-point lead over the Wild for second place in the West Division.

San Jose Sharks goaltender Martin Jones made 41 saves backstopping his club over the Los Angeles Kings 2-1. Ryan Donato tallied the game-winner in the third period. The loss leaves the Kings with 32 points, five back of the fourth-place Blues in the West.

HEADLINES

Monday’s game between the Edmonton Oilers and Montreal Canadiens was postponed after Canadiens forwards Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Joel Armia were placed on the COVID-19 protocol list. The Habs also canceled practice for today.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is the first North Division game to be postponed this season. The Canadiens will be awaiting the results of further testing. Placing Kotkaniemi and Armia on the list doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve contracted the coronavirus. Further information is expected later today. If all players pass the subsequent testing there’s talk this game could be played tonight.

The additions of Kotkaniemi and Armia to the COVID protocol list pushed the total number to 10 players. The Boston Bruins have five players on the list, including David Pastrnak, David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk.

The Canadiens also announced forward Tyler Toffoli will be sidelined until at least Sunday with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s assuming the remainder of the Canadiens’ games for this week aren’t postponed.

Nashville Predators forward Calle Jarnkrok, Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid and New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending March 21.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen is day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks claimed forward Travis Boyd off waivers from the Toronto Maple Leafs. It’s the second time in a week the Canucks have plucked a player off the Leafs roster, having claimed Jimmy Vesey on March 17.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some see those moves as the Canucks positioning themselves to become sellers by the April 12 trade deadline. That may well be the case if they fail to gain any ground in the North Division playoff race.

SPORTSNET: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league isn’t expecting to have full arenas this season despite more American teams allowing limited numbers of socially distanced fans to attend their games.