NHL ProteauType: Dept. of Player Safety Is Toothless, In Need of Repair
Connor McDavid moves closer to 100 points, the Hurricanes move closer to their first Presidents’ Trophy, Tom Wilson’s fine draws condemnation from the Rangers, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid collected two assists in a 4-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. McDavid has a league-leading 93 points on the season with five games remaining in the schedule. Leon Draisaitl scored twice for the Oilers, who sit in second place in the Scotia North Division with 66 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid’s chances of reaching 100 points in 56 games are improving. The Oilers play the Canucks three more times and the Montreal Canadiens twice. The Habs did a good job containing McDavid through their first five games, limiting the Oilers’ captain to just two assists in those contests. However, McDavid lit up the Canadiens for six points during their last two meetings.
The Carolina Hurricanes overcame a 2-0 deficit to down the Chicago Blackhawks 6-3. Andrei Svechnikov and Teuvo Teravainen each scored two goals for Carolina while Alex DeBrincat tallied twice for Chicago. Blackhawks center Kirby Dach missed the game due to scar tissue aggravation in his right wrist.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes (79 points) moved closer to winning their first Presidents’ Trophy, holding a four-point lead over the Florida Panthers with a game in hand for the top spot in the Discover Central and the overall standings.
Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby scored twice and collected an assist in a 7-3 drubbing of the Philadelphia Flyers. Jake Guentzel had a goal and two assists for the Penguins, who regained first place in the MassMutual East Division with 73 points.
The New Jersey Devils nipped the Boston Bruins 4-3 in overtime. Pavel Zacha scored twice, including the game-winner. With 69 points, Boston sits two behind the second-place Washington Capitals. Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo returned to action after being sidelined a month with an oblique muscle injury.
A 45-save performance by minor-league call-up Michael Houser gave the Buffalo Sabres a 4-3 shootout win over the New York Islanders. Anders Bjork scored two goals and regulation and the winning goal in the shootout. Houser has two wins in as many games for the Sabres. The Islanders sit one point behind the Bruins.
The NHL department of player safety served Washington Capitals winger Tom Wilson the maximum $5,000.00 fine for roughing New York Rangers winger Pavel Buchnevich during Monday’s game.
NEW YORK POST: Wilson also slammed Rangers winger Artemi Panarin to the ice but received no supplemental discipline for that incident. Panarin suffered a lower-body injury and will miss the remaining three games of the Rangers’ season. Following the announcement of Wilson’s fine, the Rangers released a statement condemning the mild punishment. They considered it a dereliction of duty by NHL head of player safety, George Parros, declaring him unfit to continue in his current role.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wilson’s slap on the wrist sparked outrage on social media and widespread condemnation among many NHL pundits. However, the Rangers’ public statement is a shot across the bow.
Team owner James Dolan is no fan of league commissioner Gary Bettman dating back to the latter’s smackdown of Dolan’s 2007 attempt to set up a Rangers website outside of the NHL.com realm. The league will likely fine the Rangers as Bettman won’t tolerate any public challenge to his authority. I doubt this leads to any major changes in the player safety department.
As for Wilson, he’s expected to be in the Capitals lineup tonight against the Rangers.
SPORTSNET: Milan Lucic has agreed to waive his no-movement clause to allow the Calgary Flames to leave him unprotected in this summer’s NHL expansion draft. The move allows the Flames the opportunity to protect a player like Mikael Backlund, Dillon Dube or Andrew Mangiapane.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: An unselfish act by Lucic to give Flames general manager Brad Treliving some flexibility in the expansion draft. However, it’s unlikely the Seattle Kraken will claim him. The 32-year-old winger’s best seasons are behind him plus he carries a $5.25 million cap hit for the next two seasons.
NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov was added to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list for the second time this season. Kuznetsov and teammate Ilya Samsonov didn’t dress for Monday’s game against the Rangers as a disciplinary measure for missing a team function. It’s uncertain if he tested positive or broke protocol.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s speculation over Kuznetsov’s future in Washington. I’ll have more in today’s Rumor Mill.
THE ATHLETIC: San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane has been sued for $15 million by a lender for punitive damages stemming from a $1.5 million loan. Kane is in the midst of a tangle Chapter 7 bankruptcy case.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane’s financial issues haven’t affected his play on the ice. He’s the Sharks scoring leader with 22 goals and 45 points in 52 games.
OTTAWA SUN: Senators defensemen Thomas Chabot and Josh Brown are sidelined by injuries that will keep them out of the lineup for the club’s remaining four games of the season.
THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks are moving their AHL affiliate from Utica, NY to Abbotsford, BC, beginning in 2021-22.
Anthony Mantha has an impressive debut with the Capitals, Artemi Panarin breaks a Rangers record, Milan Lucic reaches a career milestone and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Washington Capitals thumped the Philadelphia Flyers 6-1 to open a two-point lead over the New York Islanders atop the MassMutual East Division with 60 points. Anthony Mantha tallied a goal and an assist in his first game with Washington since being acquired from the Detroit Red Wings on Monday. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin tallied his 728th career goal to move within three of Marcel Dionne for fifth on the overall list.
Artemi Panarin broke Mark Messier’s franchise record for the most points (138) in the first 100 games with the New York Rangers in a 3-0 win over the New Jersey Devils. Igor Shesterkin made 27 saves for his first career NHL shutout while Pavel Buchnevich had a goal and an assist. The Rangers sit in fifth place with 46 points in the East Division.
Shootout goals by Jake DeBrusk and Charlie Coyle lifted the Boston Bruins past the Buffalo Sabres 3-2. Taylor Hall was held scoreless in his Bruins debut after being acquired from Buffalo before Monday’s trade deadline. Sabres goaltender Linus Ullmark left the game in the first period with an undisclosed injury. The Bruins (50 points) hold a four-point lead over the Rangers.
The Calgary Flames edged the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 on an overtime goal by Johnny Gaudreau. Flames winger Milan Lucic collected an assist and a fighting major in his 1,000th career NHL game. John Tavares had two helpers for the Leafs, who sit in first place in the Scotia North Division with 60 points.
A two-goal performance by Viktor Arvidsson powered the Nashville Predators to a 7-2 drubbing of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Defenseman David Savard had a plus-minus of minus-4 in his first game with Tampa Bay since they acquired him on Saturday from the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Predators (49 points) opened a four-point lead over the Chicago Blackhawks in the Discover Central Division.
An overtime goal by Frank Vatrano gave the Florida Panthers a 3-2 victory over the Dallas Stars. The Panthers are tied with the Lightning and Carolina Hurricanes with 58 points, but the Hurricanes hold first place in the Central and the Lightning second place on the basis of games in hand. The Panthers played without winger Carter Verhaeghe, who’s listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury.
ESPN.COM: The Canadian Hockey League yesterday announced the 2021 Memorial Cup tournament has been canceled. It’s the second straight year the prestigious trophy won’t be awarded to Canada’s top junior team because of COVID-19.
Patrice Bergeron reaches a career milestone, Artemi Panarin has a four-point performance, Carey Price sidelined, an update on Henrik Lundqvist, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Patrice Bergeron tallied a hat trick and reached his 900th career NHL point leading the Boston Bruins over the Philadelphia Flyers 4-2. Brad Marchand had a goal and three assists. Boston defenseman Charlie McAvoy missed the game with an upper-body injury. With 46 points, the Bruins hold fourth place in the MassMutual East Divison, sitting four points behind the third-place Pittsburgh Penguins. The Flyers (41 points) slip to sixth place.
The New York Islanders edged the Washington Capitals 1-0. Semyon Varlamov had a 29-save shutout while Brock Nelson scored the only goal and Josh Bailey collected his 500th career NHL point. Washington goalie Vitek Vanecek kicked out 38 shots. The Islanders moved into a tie with the Capitals (54 points) but the latter holds first place in the East Division on the basis of regulation plus overtime wins.
Artemi Panarin had a goal and three assists as the New York Rangers romped to an 8-4 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Pittsburgh defenseman John Marino left the game in the third period with an undisclosed injury. The loss leaves the Penguins in third place in the East while the Rangers move into fifth place with 41 points.
The Carolina Hurricanes got two goals from captain Jordan Staal to down the Florida Panthers 5-2, snapping the latter’s six-game winning streak. Carolina center Sebastian Aho collected three assists while Florida captain Aleksander Barkov tallied both of his club’s goals. The Hurricanes moved into second place in the Discover Central Division with 55 points, one point back of the first-place Panthers.
A 36-save performance by Joonas Korpisalo carried the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 4-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Max Domi and Jack Roslovic each had a goal and an assist for the Blue Jackets (38 points), putting them five points behind the fourth-place Nashville Predators in the Central. The Lightning, meanwhile, slipped to third place with 54 points. They’ve won just two of their last seven contests.
Speaking of the Predators, shootout goals by Ryan Johansen and Roman Josi gave them a 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Nashville holds fourth place with 43 points in the Central.
The Chicago Blackhawks remain two points behind the Predators after doubling up the Dallas Stars 4-2. Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat each had a goal and an assist and Kirby Dach tallied his first of the season since returning from a broken wrist on March 27.
A 34-save performance by John Gibson gave the Anaheim Ducks a 5-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks remain in sixth place in the Honda West Division with 38 points, five behind the fourth-place Arizona Coyotes.
The Buffalo Sabres beat the New Jersey Devils 5-3. Rasmus Dahlin and Casey Mittelstadt each had a goal and an assist for the Sabres, who’ve won three of their last four following their 18-game winless skid.
TSN: Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price is listed as day-to-day after suffering a lower-body injury during Monday’s 3-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers. The club called up goalie Cayden Primeau from the AHL’s Laval Rocket.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Price will remain in Montreal receiving treatment as the club travels to Toronto to face the Maple Leafs tonight.
Frank Seravalli reported Washington Capitals goalie Henrik Lundqvist remains intent on resuming his playing career as he recovers from open-heart surgery earlier this year. He’s continuing to skate as he awaits word from his doctors later this week. The Capitals aren’t ruling out Lundqvist returning to play later this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals have come up in recent media chatter suggesting they could pursue an experience rental goaltender before the April 12 trade deadline. That conjecture will cease immediately if Lundqvist gets the green light to return to action this season.
SPORTSNET: Jake Virtanen was the latest member of the Vancouver Canucks added to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. Eighteen Canucks players are now on the list.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Virtanen is among several Canucks still popping up in recent trade chatter for some bizarre reason. Who the hell is gonna pursue a trade-deadline deal with Vancouver now?
CBS SPORTS: Columbus Blue Jackets forward Riley Nash will be sidelined for four-to-six weeks with a sprained knee.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nash had popped up in trade talks before his injury. He’s an unrestricted free agent this summer and may have played his final game with the Jackets.
OTTAWA SUN: The Senators re-assigned former goaltender coach Pierre Groulx to a scouting and development while Zac Bierk takes over the Sens goalie coach.
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.
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.
The Canadiens get a shutout win in their first game in 10 days, the injury bug bites the Panthers again, the Flyers put Shayne Gostisbehere on waivers, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price made 17 saves for his 49th career shutout to blank the Edmonton Oilers 4-0. Brendan Gallagher had a goal and an assist for the Canadiens in their first game since March 20. With 39 points, the Habs opened a four-point lead over the Calgary Flames for fourth place in the Scotia North Division with five games in hand. The Oilers (45 points) remain a point back of the second-place Winnipeg Jets.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A good start for a rested Canadiens squad in their first game in 10 days after COVID-19 protocols postponed four of their games. The Oilers were a tired bunch playing their third game in four nights.
Artemi Panarin had a goal and two assists as the New York Rangers tallied four unanswered third-period goals in a 5-2 win over the Washington Capitals. Igor Shesterkin kicked out 30 shots for the Rangers (36 points), who sit five points behind the fourth-place Boston Bruins in the MassMutual East Division. The first-place Capitals (50 points) remain two points up on the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Bruins, meanwhile, overcame a 4-2 deficit to defeat the New Jersey Devils 5-4 on shootout goals by Charlie Coyle and David Pastrnak. Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood made 44 saves. Bruins winger Marchand returned after missing one game to COVID-19 protocols while defenseman Brandon Carlo played his first game since being sidelined by an upper-body injury on March 5. With 41 points, the Bruins sit three up on the fifth-place Philadelphia Flyers in the East Division.
An overtime goal by Eeli Tolvanen lifted the Nashville Predators over the Dallas Stars 3-2. Tolvanen and Calle Jarnkrok each had a goal and an assist while Juuse Saros made 33 saves as Nashville picked up their sixth straight victory. With 39 points, the Predators sit fourth in the Discover Central Division.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators’ playoff hopes were fading away two weeks ago and they seemed destined to become sellers before the April 12 trade deadline. Management might be rethinking its trade plans as they surge back into postseason contention.
A 31-save performance by Kevin Lankinen enabled the Chicago Blackhawks to hold off the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1. Alex DeBrincat tallied his 19th goal of the season for the Blackhawks, who are tied with the Predators but sit fifth in the Central because of two fewer regulation wins. The Hurricanes (49 points) are third in the division, one point back of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers.
The Panthers, meanwhile, got two goals from Carter Verhaeghe to down the Detroit Red Wings 4-1. Sergei Bobrovsky made 35 stops for the win. Florida winger Anthony Duclair left the game with an upper-body injury and is expected to be sidelined a week to 10 days. The Panthers are tied with the Lightning with 50 points but sit in second place in the division as the latter hold a game in hand.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Duclair joins Aleksander Barkov (lower-body), Patric Hornqvist (undisclosed) and Aaron Ekblad (fractured left leg) on the Panthers’ injury list. Eklad is done for at least the regular season following surgery on Monday.
Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins made 37 stops in a 3-1 upset of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Nick Foligno had two assists for the Blue Jackets (36 points), who sit three points behind the Predators in the Central. The Lightning (50 points) have lost three straight.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers raised eyebrows yesterday by placing Shayne Gostisbehere on waivers, generating speculation over the 27-year-old defenseman’s future with the club.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gostisbehere has struggled since Alain Vigneault became the Flyers head coach in 2019. His $4.5 million salary-cap hit makes it unlikely he’ll be claimed. The Flyers could put him on their taxi squad or demote him to their AHL affiliate if he clears waivers at noon ET today. There’s also talk he could be traded if he goes unclaimed.
THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks forward Adam Gaudette tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday. He was participating in practice when informed of the test results and left the ice immediately. Tonight’s game between the Canucks and Flames will depend upon the results of contact tracing and additional testing of players and staff.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gaudette was retested yesterday and will be tested again today.
SPORTSNET: Canucks forward Justin Bailey underwent season-ending shoulder surgery on Monday. He’s been sidelined since Feb. 11.