Tough Sledding For Florida Fans As Panthers Stumble Through Another NHL Season
Game recaps plus latest on Sidney Crosby, Nicklas Backstrom, Brent Burns & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Nikita Kucherov scored and set up two others to power the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 5-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings. The league-leading LIghtning have won eight of their last 10 games, including five straight road contests.
Leon Draisaitl scored in overtime as the Edmonton Oilers edged the New Jersey Devils 3-2, extending the latter’s losing streak to four games. Devils forward Brian Boyle scored his first goal of the season after returning to action following treatment for leukemia.
Jason Zucker tallied a hat trick and Devan Dubnyk turned in a 41-save shutout effort to lead the Minnesota Wild to a 3-0 blanking of the Montreal Canadiens, who were playing without top forward Jonathan Drouin (upper-body injury) and defenseman Shea Weber (lower body).
The Philadelphia Flyers’ top line of Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and Sean Couturier scored all of their club’s goals in their 3-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.
Jaromir Jagr got his first goal of the season and Johnny Gaudreau had a three-point performance (including two goal) to give the Calgary Flames a 6-3 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. Anthony Mantha netted three points for the Wings.
Jakob Silfverberg scored twice and Rickard Rakell had three assists in the Anaheim Ducks’ 4-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Ducks goalie Ryan Miller made 13 saves against his former club before leaving in the third period with a lower-body injury. The Canucks were playing without defenseman Chris Tanev, who could be sidelined two-three weeks with an upper-body injury.
Shootout goals by Brayden Schenn and Alexander Steen gave the St. Louis Blues a 3-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes.
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Penguins captain Sidney Crosby claims he’s unconcerned over his nine-game goalless streak.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crosby also has only three assists during that streak. He’s gone through similar droughts before and rebounded well, which is probably why his current production woes haven’t garnered as much attention this time around.
NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns’ offense is also sputtering. Coming off a career-best 76-point effort last season, he currently has just seven assists in 14 games. That’s adversely affected the Sharks in the wins column.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Burns is a key piece of the Sharks’ offensive punch. When he’s not producing they feel it.
THE WASHINGTON POST: Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom’s strong defensive play has come at the expense of his offensive game, as he’s mired in a career-long seven-game scoreless drought. Linemate T.J. Oshie hasn’t scored in eight games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The offseason changes to the Capitals roster has placed Backstrom into more of a defensive role this season.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Veteran Stars forward Jason Spezza has yet to score a goal this season. His 15-game goalless drought is the second-longest of his career. He has only five assists during that stretch.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Now in his 15th NHL season, age and the wear and tear over his long career could be catching up with Spezza.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen is now listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury.
BSN DENVER: A peanut allergy has landed Colorado Avalanche forward Alexander Kerfoot in a Swedish hospital. Fortunately, he’s not expected to miss any games. The Avalanche are playing two games in Sweden against the Ottawa Senators.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Vadim Shipachyov’s short NHL tenure is over as he and the Vegas Golden Knights officially part ways.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Kukla’s Korner observes, he’s the first player to retire as a Golden Knight.
Updates on Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene, Tyler Johnson, Jaromir Jagr and more in your Sunday NHL rumor roundup.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson recently reported NHL executives claim center Nathan MacKinnon isn’t as untouchable as he used to be for the Colorado Avalanche. He cited pro scouts claiming the Avs will listen to trade proposals for anyone except maybe young winger Mikko Rantanen.
As for Matt Duchene, the drop-off in his production (two goals in his last 38 games, one point in his last 18) means the Avs would be trading low this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: MacKinnon would attract considerable in the trade market and could fetch them that high return (a good young defenseman or goaltender, a first-round pick, top prospect and more) that they’re reportedly seeking for Duchene. However, he’s also the closest thing they have to a franchise player and I don’t believe they’ll move him. Doesn’t hurt to listen to offers but they’re unlikely to get something that will convince them to move MacKinnon.
The decline in Duchene’s production this season won’t hurt interest in him from other clubs who believe he’ll quickly regain his scoring touch on a deeper roster. However, his play this season could adversely affect his trade value. He certainly won’t get that big return the Avs sought before the trade deadline.
Matheson also speculated Tampa Bay Lightning center Tyler Johnson could become trade bait for a defenseman this summer. The solid play of rookie center Brayden Point and the club’s salary-cap concerns for next season could make Johnson, a restricted free agent with arbitration rights, expendable.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnson’s name surfaced in the rumor mill in January. While he has a recent injury history, he also has a good reputation as a clutch scorer. He could bring in that top-four defenseman the Lightning need. They could offer him to teams with blueline depth, such as the Anaheim Ducks, Carolina Hurricanes and Minnesota Wild.
The decline in Los Angeles Kings winger Tyler Toffoli’s production this season could hurt his efforts to get a significant pay raise this summer. Like Johnson, he’s an RFA with arbitration rights but his goal scoring dropped from 31 to 14 this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toffoli’s decline is solely because of the 19 games he missed with a lower-body injury. He played all 82 games last season. The Kings won’t hold that injury against him in contract talks.
Matheson wondered if the Vegas Golden Knight would take a chance on Buffalo Sabres winger Tyler Ennis, who has two years left on his contract ($4.6 million annually) and needs a change of scenery.
TORONTO SUN: Florida Panthers 45-year-old right wing Jaromir Jagr says he’d like to play until he’s 50, but Steve Simmons is hearing Jagr could have some difficulty getting a new contract next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jagr has a respectable 43 points in 78 games this season, but that’s down from the 66 he netted in 2015-16. Of course, it didn’t help that regular linemates Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau missed considerable time to injury this season. The Panthers could bring Jagr back on another one-year deal in hopes that healthier linemates could boost his production.
Simmons also said there’s talk the Los Angeles Kings could replace general manager Dean Lombardi and head coach Darryl Sutter after this season.
SPORTSNET: Kelly Hurdey reported earlier last week hearing the New York Islanders asked permission from the Florida Panthers to speak with executive and interim GM Dale Tallon. The Isles won’t comment on rumors, while Elliotte Friedman said the Panthers claim they haven’t been asked permission from another club to speak with Tallon.
Game recaps, Panthers shake up their management & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.com: Third-period goals by Roman Lyubimov and Brayden Schenn lifted the Philadelphia Flyers to their 10th consecutive victory by edging the Colorado Avalanche 4-3.
Bryan Rust’s overtime goal gave the Pittsburgh Penguins a 4-3 win over the Boston Bruins, giving the Penguins their seventh straight victory.
Brian Boyle and Alex Killorn each scored twice as the Tampa Bay Lightning doubled up the Calgary Flames 6-3. The Lightning were playing without Nikita Kucherov (day-to-day, lower-body injury) and Ryan Callahan, who’s close to returning from off-season hip surgery.
Kevin Leblanc’s overtime goal lifted the San Jose Sharks to a 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators. It was a nasty game, as Ottawa’s Mike Hoffman cross-checked Sharks forward Logan Couture in the back of the head, while Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic was accused by Senators blueliner Erik Karlsson of spearing him. Both could face suspension.
MIAMI HERALD: Florida Panthers president of hockey operations Dale Tallon is reportedly resuming control of the club’s management decisions, giving him more control over on-ice decisions. Tallon was replaced as general manager by Tom Rowe, who is also currently the Panthers’ interim head coach. Panthers owner Vinnie Viola and CEO Matthew Caldwell claim the club hasn’t made any changes within its hockey operations department.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sounds like Tallon will be having more input in helping Rowe make day-to-day decisions while the latter is working as interim head coach. How much effect Tallon will actually have regarding possible player moves remains to be seen. The Panthers are struggling and their recent coaching change hasn’t done anything to arrest their slide.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: Anaheim Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano is closing in on fifth overall on the NHL’s all-time consecutive games-playing list. With 734 games, Cogliano is nearing Jay Bouwmeester’s streak of 737 games.
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Former NHL coach Ron Wilson is reportedly fine and recovering from a stroke he suffered on Dec. 6.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Wilson for a speedy recovery.
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