NHL Betting: Matthews Still A Rocket Richard Favorite But Others Lurk
Should the Bruins pursue Jack Eichel or revisit their interest in Oliver Ekman-Larsson? Will the Penguins add some toughness before the trade deadline? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.
LATEST BRUINS SPECULATION
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Nick Goss believes the Bruins should be among the first team to contact the Buffalo Sabres if Jack Eichel decides he wants out or if they decide to move him in order to stockpile assets for their ongoing rebuild. However, the Bruins should say no if the asking price is David Pastrnak or Charlie McAvoy.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With Patrice Bergeron aging and the possible departure this summer of David Krejci via free agency, Eichel would be a great fit with the Bruins. However, I don’t believe they can come up with a suitable trade package to pry him away from the Sabres if they’re unwilling (as they should be) to part with Pastrnak or McAvoy.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy noted the Bruins’ need for an experienced left-shot defenseman. He suggested Bruins general manager Don Sweeney should revisit his offseason trade discussions with the Arizona Coyotes regarding blueliner Oliver Ekman-Larsson. The Coyotes captain was willing to waive his no-movement clause for the Bruins or Vancouver Canucks but a trade failed to materialize by his self-imposed Oct. 9 deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ekman-Larsson’s agent was emphatic his client wasn’t going anywhere after that deadline passed. Maybe the Bruins could revisit those discussions in the offseason. With the Coyotes jockeying for a playoff spot in the Honda West division they’re probably not thinking of becoming sellers right now.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: DJ Bean wonders if the Bruins should go for it this season and fill in the cracks in their roster to improve their chances for a deep playoff run. He points out their roster could have a different look next season if Tuukka Rask and David Krejci depart via free agency this summer.
If the Bruins decide to go for it they’ll need to at least add a top scorer on Krejci’s line. They have $3.62 million in salary-cap space. They could be unwilling to part with their 2021 first-round pick and their prospect pool is unimpressive. Bean suggests inconsistent winger Jake DeBrusk could be an interesting trade candidate, though there is the risk that he could blossom on another club.
Bean also noted the Bruins could use an experience left-side defenseman, pointing out Nashville Predators blueliner Mattias Ekholm could be available.
THE ATHLETIC: Fluto Shinzawa reports one NHL assistant general manager claims the Bruins haven’t made DeBrusk available. Another NHL source, however, can see the 24-year-old winger being moved.
Shinzawa points to DeBrusk being bounced around the lineup and a five-game stretch sidelined by a lower-body injury as factors affecting his disappointing performance this season. He feels the Bruins should get back a like-minded forward or a left-shot defenseman if they decide to put DeBrusk on the block.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: DeBrusk has been a fixture in the rumor mill since the offseason but Sweeney has stuck with him. The Bruins GM might be able to bring in a decent second-line rental player by the trade deadline without having to part with DeBrusk to do so. Finding a top scorer for Krejci’s line or an established top-four left-side rearguard, however, could be difficult without giving up something worthwhile in return.
WILL THE PENGUINS ADD TOUGHNESS AT THE TRADE DEADLINE?
PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Dan Kingerski cites Penguins director of hockey operations Brian Burke hinting his club could make a move or two before the April 12 trade deadline. “That’s the goal, to see if we can add this year. See how far we can get with this group. Yes, the team is getting older. The stars are getting older. But since I’ve been here, they’ve all been excellent,” said Burke.
Penguins GM Ron Hextall last Saturday admitted he’d like to add some toughness after Washington Capitals winger Tom Wilson injured Pens forward Mark Jankowski with a hit during a recent game. Hextall said his club would look into it if a suitable player could be found but there aren’t many available around the league.
Kingerski listed Ottawa’s Austin Watson, Anaheim’s Nicolas Deslauriers and Detroit’s Luke Glendening as three options that could address that need.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: We know Burke likes an element of truculence on his rosters. Acquiring one of those players listed by Kingerski shouldn’t cost very much provided they’re available.
Recaps of Tuesday’s games, Sidney Crosby on COVID-19 protocol list, the Canadiens fire their goalie coach, stars of the month and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: A 5-2 victory by the Pittsburgh Penguins over the Philadelphia Flyers was overshadowed by the news Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list earlier in the day. Kaspari Kapanen scored twice and Tristan Jarry made 40 saves for the win. Joel Farabee tallied both goals for the Flyers (25 points), who are tied with the Penguins but hold fourth place in the MassMutual East Division with two games in hand.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crosby being placed on the list doesn’t necessarily mean he’s contracted the coronavirus. If he hasn’t returned to the lineup by the end of the week, however, it will be assumed he has it. A long absence by their captain could affect the Penguins’ efforts to clinch a playoff berth. Crosby is one of only three players on the league’s COVID protocol list.
The Montreal Canadiens got their first win under head coach Dominique Ducharme by downing the Ottawa Senators 3-1 to snap a five-game winless skid. Carey Price made 26 saves while teammates Brendan Gallagher and Jeff Petry each had a goal and an assist. Following the game, the Canadiens announced goaltending coach Stephane Waite was relieved of his duties. Sean Burke takes over as their new director of goaltending.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Waite’s sudden firing comes a week after they replaced Claude Julien with Ducharme. Some of the reactions on social media suggested management wouldn’t have made this move without clearing it first with Price. However, this move could also be a wake-up call from general manager Marc Bergevin to his struggling starting netminder.
Kyle Connor, Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele each collected three points as the Winnipeg Jets dumped the Vancouver Canucks 5-2. The Jets (29 points) moved in second place in the Scotia North Division, one point ahead of the Edmonton Oilers.
Andrei Vasilevskiy picked up his third straight shutout as the Tampa Bay Lightning blanked the Dallas Stars 2-0. Ondrej Palat and Yannie Gourde were the goal scorers. The Lightning have won five in a row while the Stars have just one victory in their last 10 games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill is not laying the blame for his club’s struggles at the feet of head coach Rick Bowness. “There is no hot seat,” Nill told The Athletic’s Saad Yousef. He praised Bowness’ efforts guiding the Stars to the Stanley Cup Final last year and his handling of what’s proven to be a difficult schedule this season.
The Carolina Hurricanes picked up their third straight win by doubling up the Nashville Predators 4-2. Sebastian Aho scored twice and rookie Steven Lorentz tallied his first NHL goal. Predators goalie Juuse Saros left the game early in the first period after being hit in the head. Before the game, the Predators placed defenseman Ryan Ellis and forward Luke Kunin on injured reserve and center Ryan Johansen on the COVID-19 protocol list. Ellis will be sidelined for four-to-six weeks with an upper-body injury.
Columbus Blue Jackets winger Cam Atkinson had a goal and an assist and teammate Zach Werenski collected two assists in a 4-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. It’s the Jackets’ first win in six games and came after general manager Jarmo Kekalainen gave a vote of confidence to head coach John Tortorella.
New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov made 28 saves as his club held off the New Jersey Devils 2-1. Oliver Wahlstrom and Anders Lee scored for the Islanders while Miles Wood replied for the Devils.
The New York Rangers edged the Buffalo Sabres 3-2, handing the latter their fourth straight loss. Pavel Buchnevich had a goal and an assist while teammate Filip Chytil returned to the lineup after missing 14 games with an upper-body injury.
IN OTHER NEWS…
Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrik Kane, Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak and San Jose Sharks captain Logan Couture are the NHL’s divisional stars for February 2021. Ottawa Senators forward Tim Stutzle was named the league’s rookie of the month for February.
TSN: Speaking of the Senators, the club confirmed center Derek Stepan will require season-ending shoulder surgery.
The NHL department of player safety suspended Edmonton Oilers winger Alex Chiasson one game for cross-checking Toronto Maple Leafs forward Jimmy Vesey at the end of Monday’s game between the two clubs.
AZCENTRAL.COM: Arizona Coyotes defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson is slated to appear in his 800th career NHL game tonight against the Los Angeles Kings
Recaps of Sunday’s action featuring a hat trick for Bruins winger David Pastrnak plus injury updates and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: David Pastrnak tallied a hat trick to lead the Boston Bruins to a 7-3 romp over the Philadelphia Flyers in the Honda NHL Outdoors Sunday at Lake Tahoe. It was Pastrnak’s second hat trick of the season and the 10th of his career. James van Riemsdyk had a goal and two assists for the Flyers, who pulled goaltender Carter Hart after the second period. Bruins defenseman Jeremy Lauzon left the game early in the first period with an undisclosed injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Any lingering concerns over the effects of offseason hip surgery on Pastrnak’s performance must be alleviated by now. He’s picking up where he left off last season and climbing up the NHL stat board. Hart, meanwhile, appeared to have trouble tracking the puck in the outdoor environment.
Winnipeg Jets forward Pierre-Luc Dubois scored twice, including the winner in overtime, in a 4-3 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Dubois also added an assist in his first game since being sidelined by a muscle injury 10 days ago. Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele also each collected three points. Elias Pettersson scored twice for the Canucks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets moved Dubois to left wing on the top line alongside Wheeler and Scheifele while moving Kyle Connor down to the second line. It’ll be interesting to see if that becomes a permanent change.
The Washington Capitals got two power-play goals from T.J. Oshie and another from Alex Ovechkin to hold off the New Jersey Devils 4-3. Kyle Palmieri and Andreas Johnsson each had two points for the Devils.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin now has 712 career NHL goals, putting him five back of Phil Esposito for sixth on the all-time goalscoring list.
Brady Tkachuk’s overtime goal lifted the Ottawa Senators over the Montreal Canadiens 3-2. Senators’ goalie Matt Murray made 30 saves for the win while Habs netminder Jake Allen made 36 stops. Montreal winger Jonathan Drouin left the game in the first period with an undisclosed injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens were lucky to escape with a point as they were outplayed by the lowly Senators. The Habs bolted from the gate this season with a 7-1-2 record, leading the league in scoring and jockeying with the Toronto Maple Leafs for first place in the overall standings. They have since dropped five of their last seven games, managing just 13 goals during that stretch and slipping to fourth in the North Division.
WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres winger Jeff Skinner could become a healthy scratch in their upcoming game against the New York Islanders. He’s hasn’t scored a goal in 14 games this season.
THE ATHLETIC: John Vogl reports there’s concern Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe may have suffered a season-ending knee injury on Saturday. The results of his examination are expected today and a source said they’re bracing for ligament damage.
TSN: Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins suffered an upper-body injury during Saturday’s game against the Nashville Predators. He’s listed as week-to-week.
THE ATHLETIC: Multiple sources tell Jeremy Rutherford St. Louis Blues defenseman Colton Parayko has a back injury. It’s not known if he’ll require surgery. The club intends to rest him for now and see how he responds.
OILERS NATION: Edmonton Oilers defenseman Slater Koekkoek suffered a broken collarbone during the club’s 7-1 win on Saturday over the Calgary Flames.
NHL.COM: The Department of Player Safety fined Los Angeles Kings defenseman Austin Strand over $3,100.00 for cross-checking Arizona Coyotes forward Conor Garland on Saturday.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Anaheim Ducks have recalled top prospect Trevor Zegras from their AHL affiliate in San Diego. The young prospect had nine points in eight games in the AHL.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zegras was the MVP of the 2021 World Junior Championship as he led Team USA to a gold medal in the tournament. The Ducks hope the youngster will provide a boost to an anemic offense with a league-worst 1.83 goals per game average.