NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 2, 2023
The Bruins and Hurricanes head into the All-Star break on a winning note, the three stars and the top rookie for January are revealed, Golden Knights captain Mark Stone undergoes a second back surgery, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: The Boston Bruins ended a three-game winless skid by dropping the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2. Pavel Zacha scored twice and Linus Ullmark made 33 saves for the Bruins (39-7-5) as they sit atop the overall standings with 83 points. Mitch Marner and Calle Jarnkrok replied for the 31-13-8 Leafs as they sat third overall with 70 points.
Carolina Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho scored for the sixth straight game in a 5-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. Brent Burns also scored to extend his points streak to seven games as the Hurricanes (34-9-8) picked up their seven straight win to sit second overall with 76 points. The Sabres slipped to 26-20-4 and remain one point back of the Pittsburgh Penguins for the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot with 56 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sabres scoring leader Tage Thompson left this game in the second period with an upper-body injury. He’s slated to play in Saturday’s All-Star Game so it’ll be interesting to see if he still attends or ends up replaced. These were the final games before the All-Star break which begins today
NHL.COM: New Jersey Devils center Jack Hughes, Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak and Seattle Kraken defenseman Vince Dunn are the league’s three stars for the month of January 2023. Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen was named the rookie of the month for January.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Golden Knights captain Mark Stone is sidelined indefinitely after undergoing successful back surgery on Tuesday. It’s the second time in nine months that the 30-year-old right winger has had back surgery, having missed 45 games last season. He didn’t miss a game this season until getting injured on Jan. 12 against the Florida Panthers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights have gone 1-5-2 since Stone was sidelined. His ongoing absence could send management into the trade market in search of help. I’ll have more about that in today’s Rumor Mill update.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets winger Gustav Nyquist has been ruled out for the remainder of the season with a left shoulder injury. It’s the same shoulder he has surgically repaired in November 2020 but he won’t have to go under the knife this time.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline reports Nyquist is hoping to return before the end of this season. While the current injury hurts the winger’s trade value, Portzline suggests that it doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t be moved before the March 3 trade deadline. He points out the Toronto Maple Leafs acquired a sidelined Riley Nash two years ago, who ultimately played in two playoff games for the Leafs.
THE SCORE: New Jersey Devils associate coach Andrew Brunette was arrested early Wednesday morning in South Florida while driving home from a bar in his golf cart. He was charged with driving under the influence and two counts of disobeying a stop or yield sign. Brunette was released on $500.00 bond. In a statement, the Devils indicated that they’re aware of the situation and were gathering additional information.
OTTAWA SUN’s Bruce Garrioch reports the expectation for Cam Talbot is the sidelined Senators goaltender will resume skating next week when the club reconvenes following the All-Star break.
SPORTS BUSINESS JOURNAL: NHL viewership on ESPN and TNT is down 22 percent heading into the All-Star break compared to the same time last year.
The main reason is both networks doubled the number of games they carried compared to last season. Bigger schedules tend to hurt average viewership.
TNT is also affected by local blackouts affecting big markets in Boston, Pittsburgh and New York whereas last season they had no blackouts. ESPN’s numbers were hurt by scheduling six games on Sunday up against the NFL whereas the network had no Sunday games at this point last season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Critics seized on that ratings drop as an opportunity to rail against the issues they believe are hurting the game’s popularity. The Athletic’s Sean Gentille acknowledged that those issues are real and long-standing but aren’t applicable to the real reasons (noted above) behind those ratings decline. Gentille pointed out that those numbers could improve once ABC’s 20-game coverage during the remainder of the regular season is included in the final equation.
ESPN: Emily Kaplan reports the NHL Players Association’s executive board will meet this week in Florida to discuss the possible appointment of US Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh as its new executive director. Walsh has emerged as the leading candidate to replace current PA director Donald Fehr, who is stepping down after 12 years.