NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 12, 2023
Milestone performances for Toronto’s Auston Matthews and Chicago’s Connor Bedard while the Sabres sign Owen Power and the Devils ink Lindy Ruff to contract extensions. Get the details on these and other stories in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews collected a hat trick, including his 300th career goal, in a 6-5 season-opening win over the Montreal Canadiens. Mitch Marner netted the winner in a shootout after the Leafs overcame a 5-3 deficit in the third period while John Tavares had three assists. Alex Newhook scored twice in his first game with the Canadiens after being acquired from the Colorado Avalanche in the offseason.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was sloppy defense and goaltending by both clubs in this game. However, it proved more costly to the Canadiens as they also blew an early 2-0 lead.
Speaking of the Canadiens, Cap Friendly indicates they demoted winger Joel Armia to their AHL affiliate in Laval and recalled defenseman Arber Xhekaj, who collected an assist and got the better of Leafs enforcer Ryan Reaves during their first-period tussle.
Chicago Blackhawks rookie Connor Bedard tallied his first-ever NHL goal but his club fell 3-1 to the Boston Bruins. David Pastrnak scored the tying and winning goals for the Bruins while Linus Ullmark stopped 20 shots for the win.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blackhawks winger Taylor Hall suffered an upper-body injury following a hit by Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo. He’s listed as week-to-week.
The Vancouver Canucks crushed the Edmonton Oilers 8-1. Brock Boeser scored four goals while Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller each had a goal and three assists. Leon Draisaitl netted the sole Oilers goal while goalies Jack Campbell and Stuart Skinner each gave up four goals.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers are predicted to be a Stanley Cup contender this season but they were outperformed by the Canucks in every aspect of this contest. They’re obviously better than this and should use this game as motivation for a better effort in their next contest. Meanwhile, the Canucks couldn’t have asked for a better season-opening performance, especially Boeser given his struggles last season.
Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen scored twice and collected two assists in a 5-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and two assists while Alexandar Georgiev stopped 34 shots for the win. Carl Grundstrom and Quinton Byfield replied for the Kings.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I only saw the highlights of this contest but Rantanen and MacKinnon were dominating for the Avalanche. Cale Makar also picked up two points in this game for Colorado. Before this match, the Kings announced that winger Viktor Arvidsson would miss at least two games with a lower-body injury.
The Calgary Flames got a 34-save performance from Jacob Markstrom and two late goals by Elias Lindholm and Andrew Mangiapane to upset the Winnipeg Jets 5-3. Lindholm and Mangiapane each finished with three points for the Flames. Kyle Connor, Alex Iafallo and Mark Scheifele replied for the Jets, who outshot the Flames 37-22.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets deserved a better fate as they were the better team in this game. However, the Flames got outstanding goaltending and clutch scoring to take this one.
Carolina Hurricanes defensemen Brady Skjei and Jaccob Slavin scored in the third period to lift their club to a 5-3 win over the Ottawa Senators. Skjei and Jordan Staal each had a goal and an assist while Frederik Andersen made 27 saves. Joonas Korpisalo stopped 37 shots for the Senators.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: On the eve of their season opener, the Sabres signed defenseman Owen Power to a seven-year, $58.45 million contract extension effective next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nobody should be surprised by this move. The Sabres indicated they were working on re-signing Power after getting Rasmus Dahlin under contract on Sept. 22 for an eight-year, $88-million contract.
Power, 20, is in the final season of his entry-level contract. His salary will jump from an average of just over $916K to $8.35 million per season. Chosen first overall in the 2021 NHL draft, he was a finalist for the Calder Trophy last season.
The Sabres now have their two top defensemen under contract covering them through most of their playing prime. The duo will be crucial factors in this club’s hopes to become a Stanley Cup contender over the next seven years.
NEW JERSEY HOCKEY NOW: The Devils yesterday announced they reached an agreement with head coach Lindy Ruff on a multi-year contract extension that begins in 2024-25. Ruff is currently in the final season of a four-year deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The report didn’t indicate for how many years but wouldn’t surprise me if it’s another three-year contract with a one-year extension option.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: More bad news for San Jose Sharks captain Logan Couture as he suffered a setback in his recovery from a lower-body injury that will keep him out of his club’s opening games of the season. Sharks coach David Quinn said Couture will undergo more tests and evaluation.
PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Flyers forward Scott Laughton intends to take a stand against the NHL banning the use of Pride Tape during theme celebrations this season. “You’ll probably see me with the Pride Tape on that night,” said Laughton. “It’s not going to affect the way I go about it. If they want to say something, they can, but it’s not going to make a difference in what I do every night for the Pride community.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league should leave it up to the players if they’ll participate in on-ice support by wearing themed jerseys or using special tape on their sticks during warmups on Pride Night. It’ll be interesting to see if other players around the league follow Laughton’s lead.
NHL.COM: Vegas Golden Knights forward Brett Howden received a two-game suspension for an illegal hit to the head of Seattle Kraken forward Brandon Tanev on Tuesday.
VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Speaking of the Golden Knights, forward William Carrier could be sidelined with an upper-body injury after leaving Tuesday’s season opener.
TSN: The Columbus Blue Jackets signed forward Justin Danforth to a one-year, $1.1 million contract extension through 2024-25.
NHL.COM: Speaking of the Blue Jackets, they named Josef Boumedienne as assistant coach and signed assistant coaches Jared Boll and Steve McCarthy to one-year contract extensions.
STLTODAY.COM: The Blues’ current roster retool hasn’t adversely affected them at the gate. Team owner Tom Stillman said the club remains on par in season ticket sales where they’ve been when the club’s come off a playoff run.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s because they’ve got a solid fan base in St. Louis that has supported this franchise for years.