NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 28, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 28, 2021

The NHL returns with CBA exemptions to give teams COVID roster relief, several stars lament the decision to withdraw from the 2022 Olympics, plus injury updates and much more in the morning coffee headlines.

NHL COVID NEWS UPDATES

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman provided highlights of recent CBA exemptions formalized by the NHL and NHLPA to provide COVID relief to their teams.

Teams will be allowed to add a third goaltender when two regulars aren’t available. There will be an emergency salary-cap exemption allowing clubs to make emergency recalls for teams that cannot dress two goalies, six defensemen or 12 forwards. The recalled player’s cap hit cannot exceed $1 million.

The taxi squad has returned until at least the All-Star break in early February consisting of a maximum of six players who cannot be on the squad longer than 20 days. Players cannot be on it if they were part of an NHL roster on Dec. 22, are waiver-exempt, were on the roster at least 75 percent of regular-season days or played in 16 of a team’s last 20 games through Dec. 22. Goalies who dressed but didn’t play are counted as having played.

TSN: Because of seven NHL teams based in Canada, the league cannot do blanket testing of fully vaccinated, asymptomatic players due to the rules and restrictions set up by the Canadian federal and provincial governments. A lack of widespread booster availability in Canada could also affect efforts by the NHL to make an extra dose part of being considered fully vaccinated.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league could review its COVID protocol after the US Centers for Disease Control reduced its recommended 10-day isolation period to five days.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The reduction in the isolation period plus the recent CBA changes could reduce the current upheaval affecting the NHL schedule by leading to fewer postponements in the coming weeks. There have also been calls for the league and PA to allow asymptomatic players to continue playing rather than undergo any isolation period but there’s no indication if that’s under serious consideration at the moment.

NHL.COM: Three more games were postponed due to COVID concerns, bringing the full number of postponements to 70. The three games are the Chicago Blackhawks at Winnipeg Jets and the home-and-home series on Wednesday and Friday between the Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild are trying to avoid any positive COVID tests as their Winter Classic matchup on Jan. 1 with the St. Louis Blues at Target Field draws near.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson described the stress the players are feeling trying to play with COVID lurking in the background. “Over the last two seasons, you kind of get used to it a little bit, but it’s not really about hockey, it’s about mental health,” he said. “It tears you down a little bit thinking about it all the time when you’re supposed to be playing and be good out on the ice.” He added that the players have to try to live with that, while also saying they were fortunate that no one has gotten seriously ill and are vaccinated.

SPORTSNET: Has a daily tracker of the NHL players and head coaches currently in COVID protocol. Among the latest are Chicago’s Marc-Andre Fleury, Colorado’s Mikko Rantanen, Dallas’ Miro Heiskanen, Detroit’s Lucas Raymond, Florida’s Jonathan Huberdeau, Philadelphia’s Ryan Ellis, Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy, Toronto’s William Nylander and Vegas head coach Peter DeBoer.

MORE REACTION TO NHL WITHDRAWAL FROM 2022 OLYMPICS.

THE SCORE: Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid called for a best-on-best tournament if the 2022 Winter Olympics aren’t pushed ahead by COVID in the same way the Tokyo Summer Games were moved from 2020 to 2021. “We can’t go six, seven, eight years without playing best-on-best,” said McDavid. “I’d like to see something worked out if the Olympics don’t get pushed.”

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NHL owners don’t like Olympics breaks because they don’t make any money from it. They only agreed to participate to get the players on board with last year’s extension to the collective bargaining agreement. However, they would be amenable to a World Cup of Hockey. That’s an NHL-controlled event staged in September that doesn’t adversely affect the regular season.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Bruins’ Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand were the latest NHL stars to express disappointment over the league’s decision to withdraw from the Olympics. Bergeron indicated he would’ve gone as it would’ve been his last opportunity to experience it after having played in 2010 and 2014.

Marchand has never played in an Olympic competition and this year was likely his best chance of doing so. He criticized the decision, claiming the league doesn’t care about the Olympics because they don’t make any money from it. “It’s a business and we’re an asset. Let’s call a spade a spade,” he said.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin said he would’ve gone to the Olympics despite the potential consequences of testing positive for COVID while in Beijing. Under Chinese law, anyone testing positive while in the country must quarantine three to five weeks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The players’ frustration is understandable but the league took the necessary action and was within its rights to do so under the CBA. The postponed games brought about by the latest spread of COVID-19 threatened to derail this season. That would’ve significantly affected league revenue, in turn affecting next season’s salary cap, which also would’ve impacted the timetable for the players to repay their hockey-related revenue debt to the owners incurred last year.

IN OTHER NEWS…

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Winger Zach Hyman returns to the Oilers lineup after being sidelined by a shoulder injury since Dec. 11. Meanwhile, goaltender Mike Smith looks ready to return to action for the first time since suffering an ankle injury on Oct. 19.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Penguins forwards Evgeni Malkin and Bryan Rust took part in full-contact practice yesterday. Rust could return to action later in the week but there’s still no set time for Malkin’s return. Meanwhile, winger Jason Zucker is listed as week-to-week with a nagging lower-body injury.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: Kraken forward Bradon Tanev will require season-ending ACL surgery after suffering a knee injury on Dec. 18.

TSN: A lawsuit filed against the Chicago Blackhawks for a former high school student who claimed he was sexually assaulted by former video coach Bradley Alrich has been dismissed. Rick Westhead reports the withdrawal of the suit indicates a settlement has been reached.

THE PROVINCE: Former NHL coach Bob McCammon passed away on Dec. 23 at the age of 80. He served two stints as head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers (1978-79, 1981-82 to 1983-84), two stints as an assistant coach with the Edmonton Oilers (1985-86, 1995-96 to 1997-98) and was head coach of the Vancouver Canucks from 1987-88 to 1990-91.

DAILY DEMOCRAT: Former NHL player and coach Jim Wiley died Sunday at age 71. He spent five seasons as a player with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Vancouver Canucks from 1972-73 to 1976-77, finishing with four goals and 14 points in 63 games. He went on to become a minor league coach from 1984-85 to 2007-08, except for one season as head coach of the San Jose Sharks in 1995-96.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to the families and friends of both men.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 22, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 22, 2021

The Bruins and Avalanche take commanding series leads, the Jets take a 2-0 series lead over the Oilers, the Predators battle back against the Hurricanes, Nazem Kadri gets an 8-game suspension, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Boston Bruins pushed the Washington Capitals to the brink of elimination with a 4-1 victory in Game 4 of their first-round series. Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask made 19 saves to set a franchise record for most career playoff wins with 54. Charlie McAvoy had three assists and David Pastrnak had a goal and an assist. Alex Ovechkin tallied the sole Capitals goal. The series heads back to Washington for Game 5 on Sunday with the Bruins up three games to one.

Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (NHL Images).

Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller left the game following a high hit to the head by Capitals blueliner Dmitry Orlov. Miller was sent to a local hospital for tests. Orlov received a double-minor for roughing.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Orlov could face supplemental discipline for that hit. Meanwhile, his club played what I consider one of the worst postseason games of the Ovechkin era. After three closely contested contests that could’ve gone either way, the Capitals were listless in Game 4 and find themselves facing elimination on home ice on Sunday.

Colorado Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer made 31 stops as his club beat the St. Louis Blues 5-1, taking a commanding 3-0 lead in their opening-round series. Colorado defenseman Ryan Graves celebrated his birthday with a goal and two assists. Tyler Bozak replied for the Blues. The Avalanche can close out this series on Sunday.

The Blues played without defensemen Justin Faulk, Robert Bortuzzo and Vince Dunn. Faulk and Bortuzzo were both sidelined in Game 2 by hits to the head.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reports Blues general manager Doug Armstrong wants a serious discussion in the offseason about player safety. That could become a front-burner topic within the league this summer following several puzzling decisions handed down this season by the league’s department of player safety and the growing criticism of those rulings.

Connor Hellebuyck turned in a 38-save shutout as his Winnipeg Jets blanked the Edmonton Oilers 1-0 on an overtime goal by Paul Stastny. Oilers stars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl were held off the score sheet for the second straight game. With the Jets up 2-0, the series shifts to Winnipeg for Game 3 on Sunday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets are doing a good job neutralizing the Oilers’ dynamic duo of McDavid and Draisaitl. Hellebuyck is reminding everyone why he won the Vezina Trophy last year.

Matt Duchene scored in double-overtime as the Nashville Predators nipped the Carolina Hurricanes 5-4 for their first win in this series. Filip Forsberg and Ryan Ellis each had a goal and an assist. Sebastian Aho collected a goal and two assists for the Hurricanes, who still lead the series two games to one. Game Four goes tomorrow in Nashville.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was an entertaining game that seesawed back and forth between the two clubs. Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour claimed his team was “fighting the refs”, pointing out his club had been whistled for more penalties (14) than the Predators (six) over the last two games. Meanwhile, Predators winger Viktor Arvidsson missed this matchup with an upper-body injury.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: Avalanche center Nazem Kadri received an eight-game suspension from the department of player safety for an illegal hit to the head of Blues defenseman Justin Faulk during Game 2 of their opening-round series. The suspension began in Game 3 last night.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is Kadri’s third suspension for reckless postseason play. If the Avalanche sweeps their series with the Blues, he could return for Game 7 of their next series if it goes that far.

TORONTO STAR: Maple Leafs captain John Tavares was released from the hospital yesterday but is sidelined indefinitely with a concussion. Tavares was injured during the first period of Game 1 of the Leafs’ opening-round series with the Montreal Canadiens after being accidentally struck in the head by the knee of Canadiens winger Corey Perry.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping Tavares makes a complete recovery and returns to action soon.

NEW YORK POST: The Islanders are mulling a goaltending change after starter Semyon Varlamov’s shaky performance in Game 3 of their series with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rookie Ilya Sorokin was in goal for the Isles’ Game 1 victory filling in for the sidelined Varlamov, who returned for the next two games.

CALGARY SUN: Flames defenseman Chris Tanev spent the final month-and-a-half of the regular season playing with two broken ribs and a torn pectoral muscle.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Even with access to the best medical treatment, that still had to be painful for Tanev. Unreal.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild forward Marcus Johansson suffered a broken left arm during Game 3 of his club’s 5-2 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maybe Zach Parise will make his debut in this series. He was a healthy scratch in the first three games.

THE PROVINCE: As expected, the Vancouver Canucks signed head coach Travis Green to a contract extension. It’s believed the new deal will keep him in Vancouver until at least 2023.

WGR 550: Former NHL coaches Bruce Boudreau and Rick Tocchet are among those the Buffalo Sabres will interview for their head coach position. Interim bench boss Don Granato is also in the mix.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 13, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 13, 2021

Recaps of Monday’s action following the trade deadline, the stars of the week are revealed, the Kings re-sign Alex Iafallo, the Flyers re-up Scott Laughton, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Nathan MacKinnon extended his points streak to 10 games with a goal and an assist as the Colorado Avalanche held off the Arizona Coyotes 4-2. Mikko Rantanen scored twice for Colorado as they’ve won 16 of their last 19 contests. With 62 points, the Avalanche sit atop the Honda West Division and the NHL’s overall standings. The Coyotes (43 points) remain one point back of the fourth-place St. Louis Blues.

Vegas Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty (NHL Images).

Vegas Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty netted his 300th career NHL goal as his club scored four unanswered goals to beat the Los Angeles Kings 4-2. The Golden Knights remain four points behind the first-place Avs in the West Division.

A franchise-record 46-save shutout performance by Anthony Stolarz carried the Anaheim Ducks over the San Jose Sharks 4-0. Alexander Volkov scored two goals for the Kings. The loss leaves the Sharks (40 points) four points behind the Blues.

The Montreal Canadiens doubled up the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2 to snap Leafs goalie Jack Campbell’s 11-game winning streak. Montreal winger Tomas Tatar scored twice while Leafs star Auston Matthews tallied his league-leading 32nd of the season. The Canadiens sit in fourth place in the Scotia North Division with 45 points, 14 back of the first-place Leafs.

Ottawa Senators winger Brady Tkachuk tallied two goals in a 4-2 upset of the Winnipeg Jets. Senators forward Connor Brown extended his goal-scoring streak to eight games. The Jets remain in second place in the North with 53 points.

An overtime goal by Brandon Hagel gave the Chicago Blackhawks a 4-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Patrik Laine scored twice for the Jackets, who sit eight points behind the fourth-place Nashville Predators in the Discover Central Division. The fifth-place Blackhawks, meanwhile, sit just two points back of the Predators.

The Detroit Red Wings spoiled the 1,000th career NHL game of Carolina Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal by dropping the Hurricanes 3-1. Wings goaltender Jonathan Bernier made 37 saves as his teammates tallied three third-period goals. The loss leaves the Hurricanes tied with the Tampa Bay Lighting with 58 points but the latter holds first place in the Central Division on the basis of wins.

The NHL postponed Monday’s game between the St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild. The game is rescheduled for May 12.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews and Dallas Stars forward Roope Hintz are the three stars for the week ending April 11, 2021.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Kings signed forward Alex Iafallo to a four-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $4 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Contract talks between the Kings and Iafallo went through most of Monday before an agreement was reached before the 3 pm ET trade deadline. Having traded long-time veteran forward Jeff Carter to Pittsburgh, the Kings cleared sufficient cap room to keep the 27-year-old Iafallo as they continue their rebuild.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers signed forward Scott Laughton to a five-year contract extension worth an annual salary-cap hit of $3 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like Iafallo, Laughton’s contract talks carried on until close to the trade deadline. Both players were considered potential trade candidates if their respective teams failed to re-sign them before the 3 pm ET deadline. This is an affordable signing by the Flyers, retaining a versatile, energetic 26-year-old player who could help them rebound from this difficult season going forward.

WIVB.COM: Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams said Jack Eichel will remain sidelined for a while. The Sabres captain has been out since March 7 with an upper-body injury. With 15 games remaining, this could be season-ending for Eichel.

THE ORANGE COUNTRY REGISTER: Anaheim Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm could miss the remainder of the season with a fractured wrist suffered on Feb. 27 against the Vegas Golden Knights.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins forward Branden Tanev could be sidelined for the rest of the regular season with an undisclosed injury.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators claimed defenseman Victor Mete off waivers from the Montreal Canadiens.

NJ.COM: The Dallas Stars claimed blueliner Sami Vatanen off waivers from the New Jersey Devils.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 6, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 6, 2021

Recaps of Monday’s action, stars of the week, concern over growing COVID numbers on Canucks, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Auston Matthews scored twice and John Tavares picked up his 800th career points as the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Calgary Flames 5-3. Matthews has a league-leading 27 goals on the season as the Leafs sit atop the Scotia North Division with 55 points. Leafs goalie Jack Campbell extended his record to 9-0-0. Mikael Backlund scored two goals for the sputtering Flames, who’ve dropped eight of their last nine and sit sixth in the division with 35 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stick a fork in the Flames, folks, they’re done. They’re eight points out of a playoff spot in the North and show no sign of reversing their death spiral in the standings.

Montreal Canadiens center Eric Staal (NHL Images).

Eric Staal’s first goal with the Montreal Canadiens was an overtime winner in a 3-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. Staal made his debut over a week after being acquired from the Buffalo Sabres. It was a costly win for the Habs as winger Brendan Gallagher could be sidelined for weeks with a fractured thumb. With 43 points, the Canadiens sit five points behind the third-place Oilers in the North.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The feisty Gallagher will be difficult to replace. The Habs are pressed against the salary cap. If Gallagher’s out until the playoffs perhaps GM Marc Bergevin will place him on long-term injury reserve. It would free up $3.75 million to put toward pursuing a forward or defenseman before the April 12 trade deadline.

The Winnipeg Jets survived a late push by the Ottawa Senators for a 4-3 victory. Pierre-Luc Dubois tallied twice for the Jets (49 points), who sit one point up on the Oilers for second place in the North Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This game wasn’t as close as the score suggests. The Jets dominated the Senators, outshooting them 46-23.

A four-goal second period enabled the Colorado Avalanche to hold off the Minnesota Wild by a score of 5-4. Nathan MacKinnon and Andre Burakovsky each had a goal and an assist for the Avalanche, extending their points streak to 15 games and sitting in first place in the Honda West Division with 56 points. Ryan Hartman had a goal and two assists for the Wild. With 48 points, they are third in the West.

The Vegas Golden Knights picked up their first win in four games by downing the St. Louis Blues 6-1. Alec Martinez scored twice and Alex Pietrangelo picked up an assist in his first game in St. Louis since the former Blues captain signed with Vegas in the offseason. The Golden Knights are second in the West with 52 points while the struggling Blues are sixth with 38 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Two years after winning the Stanley Cup and a year after finishing with the best record in the Western Conference, the Blues are in serious danger of missing the playoffs. They’re winless in their last seven (0-6-1), tallying just eight goals in that stretch.

Michael Bunting’s first career NHL hat trick powered the Arizona Coyotes over the Los Angeles Kings 5-2. Adin Hill kicked out 36 shots for his third straight win as the surging Coyotes (43 points) hold a five-point lead over the Blues and San Jose Sharks for fourth in the West.

The Philadelphia Flyers edged the Boston Bruins 3-2 on an overtime goal by Travis Sanheim. The Flyers moved to within three points of the fourth-place Bruins (44 points) in the MassMutual East Division. Bruins goalie Jaroslav Halak missed the game after testing positive for COVID-19.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal, San Jose Sharks goaltender Martin Jones, and Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending April 4, 2021.

The list of Vancouver Canucks on the NHL’s COVID protocol list grew to 17 players as Nils Hoglander tested positive. The league has extended the postponement of Canucks games to April 10.

TSN: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly expressed concern over the Canucks’ COVID numbers but remains confident the team will be able to complete its 56-game schedule.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will depend upon how many more Canucks test positive, the severity of their symptoms, how long they’ll be sidelined, and if this outbreak remains contained to the team. The league has a buffer week of May 10-14 to allow for rescheduled games to be completed.

DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars head coach Rick Bowness remains hopeful his COVID test result on Sunday turns out to be a false positive. He’s fully vaccinated and said he feels fine despite the positive test. If his follow-up test is negative he’ll be unable to rejoin the Stars in time for tonight’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks due to the NHL’s COVID protocols.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins forward Brandon Tanev is listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury.

ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks have sent rookie forward Trevor Zegras to their AHL affiliate in San Diego. The Ducks were pleased with the promising youngster’s play as a winger but want to give him more experience at center. It’s expected he’ll return to the Ducks before the end of the season.

NEW YORK POST: A Minnesota medical examiner ruled the March 3 death of Mark Pavelich a suicide. The former Team USA and NHL forward was receiving treatment at the Eagle’s Healing Nest in Minnesota as part of his civil commitment for assaulting his neighbor in August 2019. He was diagnosed with a mild neurocognitive disorder due to traumatic brain injury, likely related to repeated head injuries.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Once again, my condolences to Pavelich’s friends, family and former teammates.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 2, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 2, 2021

A five-point performance by the Islanders Mathew Barzal, three more Canucks games are postponed by COVID-19 protocols, division stars and rookie of the month for March are announced, Nathan MacKinnon fined, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Mathew Barzal’s hat trick carried the New York Islanders to an 8-4 romp over the Washington Capitals. Barzal finished with five points while teammate Jordan Eberle scored twice. John Carlson tallied twice for the Capitals, who lost goaltender Ilya Samsonov early in the first period following an accidental collision with teammate T.J. Oshie. The Islanders are tied with the Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins with 50 points but the Capitals remain in first place in the MassMutual East Division on the basis of a game in hand.

New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (NHL Images).

The Penguins, meanwhile, rode a 30-save performance by goaltender Casey DeSmith to a 4-1 victory over the Boston Bruins. Pittsburgh forward Branden Tanev returned to the lineup after missing six games and picked up an assist. The Penguins have won five straight but sit in third place behind the Islanders as the latter has two more regulation wins. Boston defenseman Brandon Carlo left the game with an upper-body injury. The Bruins sit fourth in the vision with 41 points, three ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers.

Speaking of the Rangers, they edged the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 on an overtime goal by Mika Zibanejad. Artemi Panarin collected two assists for the Blueshirts while Sabres goalie Dustin Tokarski kicked out 44 shots. The Rangers are tied with the Flyers with 38 points but the latter holds fifth place with a game in hand.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The East division is getting quite interesting. The Penguins have surged to jockey with the Capitals and Islanders for first place, the Bruins are clinging to fourth place but are being threatened by the Rangers, who could soon surpass the struggling Flyers.

Third-period goals by Ross Colton and Brayden Point 66 seconds apart lifted the Tampa Bay Lightning past the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 to snap a three-game losing streak. Point had two goals on the night while Andrei Vasilevskiy turned aside 36 shots. Zach Werenski had a goal and an assist for the Jackets. With 52 points, the Lightning holds onto first place in the Discover Central Division. The Jackets (36 points) remain in sixth place in the division, three points back of the Nashville Predators and Chicago Blackhawks.

An overtime goal by Alex Wennberg gave the Florida Panthers a 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Frank Vatrano scored the tying goal and collected an assist on Wennberg’s winner. The Panthers also have 52 points but remain in second place in the Central as the Lightning hold a game in hand.

The Carolina Hurricanes got a late goal by Jesper Fast to nip Chicago 4-3 and sit one point behind the Lightning and Panthers. Warren Foegele tallied twice for the Hurricanes. The Blackhawks remain tied with Nashville with 39 points but the latter holds fourth place in the Central on the basis of regulation wins.

As for the Predators, they missed an opportunity to open a lead over the Blackhawks as their six-game win streak ended in a 4-1 loss to the Dallas Stars. Joe Pavelski collected two assists for the Stars (34 points), who sit five behind the Predators and Blackhawks.

A shootout goal by Kevin Fiala lifted the Minnesota Wild past the Vegas Golden Knights by a score of 3-2. Cam Talbot had a 35-save performance while Kirill Kapizov had a goal and an assist for the Wild (46 points), who moved within four points of second-place Vegas in the Honda West Division. The Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche each have 50 points but the latter holds first place because of regulation wins.

The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Ottawa Senators 4-1 as Brendan Gallagher and Phillip Danault each had a goal and an assist. Jake Allen made 23 saves for the Habs, who hold a six-point lead for fourth place over the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks with 41 points.

HEADLINES

Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov is the star of the month for March in the Discover Central Division. Colorado Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer is the Honda West star of the month. Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby took home the honor for the MassMutual East Division while Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid is the Scotia North Division star for March.

Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic was named the NHL’s rookie of the month for March 2021.

The Vancouver Canucks have had three additional games postponed as forwards Adam Gaudette and Travis Hamonic and a member of the coaching staff were placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list earlier this week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gaudette and his wife faced some flak on social media by several folks alleging they failed to properly protect themselves from COVID-19. In fact, the couple followed all guidelines and were informed they did nothing wrong by the team and health officials. The Gaudettes have no idea how they caught the coronavirus and don’t deserve being hounded by some ill-informed fans.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon received a $5,000.00 fine from the NHL department of player safety for unsportsmanlike conduct against Arizona Coyotes winger Conor Garland on Wednesday.

Vegas Golden Knights forward Chandler Stephenson received a three-game suspension for elbowing Los Angeles Kings defenseman Tobias Bjornfot on Wednesday.

NEW YORK POST: Brendan Lemieux requested a trade from the Rangers prior to their dealing him last week to the Los Angeles Kings for a fourth-round pick. Lemieux made the request as he wanted to play for a team where he’d have a more meaningful role. He’d been seeing fourth-line duty this season with the Rangers.

THE SCORE: Roberto Luongo is expected to be named general manager of Team Canada’s 2021 World Championship team.

SPORTSNET: Wisconsin forward Cole Caufield, Minnesota State goaltender Dryden McKay and North Dakota forward Shane Pinto are this year’s finalists for the Hobey Baker Award. Caufield recently signed an entry-level contract with the Montreal Canadiens while Pinto inked a similar deal with the Ottawa Senators.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 22, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 22, 2021

Recaps of Sunday’s action, updates on Max Pacioretty and Ryan McDonagh, the Kings re-sign Matt Roy, the Capitals re-up Trevor van Riemsdyk, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Tyler Johnson scored the winning goal in the third period as the Tampa Bay Lightning defeat the Florida Panthers 5-3. Brayden Point and Yanni Gourde each had a goal and an assist for the Lightning. They’ve won four straight and sit atop the Discover Central Division with 48 points, opening a four-point lead over the Panthers. It was a costly win for the Lightning as defenseman Ryan McDonagh left the game with a lower-body injury.

Los Angeles Kings captain Anze Kopitar (NHL Images).

The Los Angeles Kings downed the Vegas Golden Knights 3-1 to snap the latter’s five-game win streak. Goaltender Cal Petersen made 41 saves and Anze Kopitar collected two assists for the Kings (32 points), who sit five points behind the fourth-place St. Louis in the Honda West Division. Vegas winger Max Pacioretty was scratched from this contest with a lower-body injury and is listed as day-to-day. The Golden Knights (43 points) sit atop the West Division.

An overtime goal by Jesper Bratt lifted the New Jersey Devils to a 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Sidney Crosby scored for the Penguins and Sami Vatanen replied for the Devils, who got a 35-save performance by Mackenzie Blackwood. Pittsburgh (40 points) picked up a point to open a four-point lead over the fourth-place Boston Bruins in the MassMutual East Division. Penguins forward Brandon Tanev missed the game with an undisclosed injury and is considered day-to-day.

The Nashville Predators overcame a two-goal deficit to nip the Dallas Stars 4-3 on a shootout goal by Calle Jarnkrok. Eeli Tolvanen had a three-point performance, including scoring the game-tying goal. With the win, the Predators (29 points) moved within four points of the fourth-place Columbus Blue Jackets in the Central. Stars forwards Radek Faksa and Joel Kiviranta left the game with lower-body injuries.

TSN: The Kings announced they’ve signed defenseman Matt Roy to a three-year, $9.45 million contract extension. The annual average value is $3.145 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A seventh-round pick by the Kings in 2015, Roy has steadily risen up the club’s blueline depth chart since his debut in 2018. He skates on their second defense pairing and has become a reliable presence on the blue line.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals signed defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk to a two-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $950K.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: J.J. Regan speculates this move could be insurance for this summer’s expansion draft as the Capitals could lose a rearguard like Justin Schultz or Nick Jensen to the Seattle Kraken.

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks have had preliminary discussions with local health officials about a plan to host some fans at Rogers Arena this season. The Montreal Canadiens have also pitched the Quebec government about allowing a limited number of fans at the Bell Centre.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Currently none of the seven Canadian franchises are allowing fans in their arenas. The Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators have also broached the subject with their respective provincial governments. Much will depend upon COVID-19 case counts and vaccine distribution. If all goes well, whatever four Canadian clubs qualify for the playoffs in May could be allowed to welcome back some fans for postseason games.