NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 7, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 7, 2021

Recaps of Saturday’s action, Tom Wilson receives a seven-game suspension, Wayne Gretzky eulogizes his father Walter, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The New York Rangers got two goals from Ryan Strome to defeat the New Jersey Devils 6-3, handing the latter their fifth straight loss. Adam Fox opened the scoring for the Rangers with a beautiful end-to-end goal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils (16 points) looked like they could contend for a playoff berth several weeks ago. Their recent skid sent them tumbling toward the bottom of the MassMutual East Division standings, one point ahead of the Buffalo Sabres. They could be joining the list of potential sellers at the April 12 trade deadline.

Speaking of the Sabres, they dropped their sixth straight in a 5-2 loss to the New York Islanders. Mathew Barzal’s between-the-legs game-tying goal launched was the start of a four-goal outburst in the second period for the Islanders as they extended their points streak to seven games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the win, the Islanders (32 points) sit atop the East Division.

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (NHL Images)

Evgeni Malkin scored and collected an assist as the Pittsburgh Penguins held off the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3. Flyers winger Travis Konecny also had a goal and assist as his club is tied with the Penguins (27 points) but holds fourth place in the East on win percentage (.643) with two games in hand.

A hat trick by Noel Acciari powered the Florida Panthers over the Nashville Predators 6-2. Jonathan Huberdeau, Aaron Ekblad and Frank Vatrano each had a goal and an assist for the Panthers (34 points), who are tied with the first-place Tampa Bay Lightning in the Discover Central Division. Earlier in the day, the Predators placed center Matt Duchene on injured reserve. He will be sidelined three-to-five weeks with a lower-body injury.

Brock Boeser and J.T. Miller each had a goal and two assists as the Vancouver Canucks doubled up the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2 to sweep their two-game set. Canucks goaltender Thatcher kicked out 37 shots for the win.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Demko’s play has improved since mid-February. He’ll likely get the bulk of the starts in the coming weeks as the Canucks (24 points) sit four points out of a playoff spot in the Scotia North Division.

The Arizona Coyotes overcame a 2-0 deficit to defeat the Minnesota Wild 5-2. Darcy Kuemper made 32 saves while Lance Pitlick tallied twice for the Coyotes. The win puts Arizona (25 points) just two behind the Wild for the fourth and final playoff berth in the Honda West Division.

Carey Price turned aside 28 shots, Brendan Gallagher notched two goals and Tomas Tatar collected three assists as the Montreal Canadiens thumped the Winnipeg Jets 7-1. Josh Anderson scored in his first game with the Habs after being sidelined for three games by a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That was the most convincing Canadiens win since their 6-2 victory over the Canucks on Feb. 1. They’re now 2-1-2 in their first five games under interim coach Dominique Ducharme.

The Anaheim Ducks snapped a nine-game winless skid with a 5-4 overtime win over the Colorado Avalanche. The Ducks blew a 2-0 lead but overcame a 4-2 deficit on goals by Troy Terry and Kevin Shattenkirk to set the stage for Ryan Getzlaf’s game-winner in the extra frame. Terry scored twice and Rickard Rakell had a three-point night. Mikko Rantanen replied with two of his own for the Avalanche.

Dallas Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger made 21 saves for his first career NHL shutout to blank the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-0. Roope Hintz had a goal and an assist for the Stars to snap their four-game losing skid.

Vladimir Tarasenko’s season debut following offseason shoulder surgery couldn’t help the St. Louis Blues from dropping a 4-3 overtime decision to the Los Angeles Kings. Adrian Kempe tallied the game-winner while Anze Kopitar scored twice for the Kings. Tarasenko was held scoreless while teammate David Perron had a goal and an assist. With 25 points, the Kings sit two back of the fourth-place Wild in the West Division.

Vegas Golden Knights netminder Marc-Andre Fleury picked up his league-leading fourth shutout in a 4-0 victory over the San Jose Sharks. Alex Tuch scored twice to extend his goal streak to four games. Golden Knights captain Mark Stone left the game in the first period with an undisclosed injury. Vegas sits atop the West Division with 33 points.

The Edmonton Oilers got goals by Kailer Yamamoto and Connor McDavid to edge the Calgary Flames 3-2. McDavid also had two assists on the night. The Oilers (30 points) sit two up on the fourth-place Canadiens in the North Division and two back of the Jets.

HEADLINES

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The NHL suspended Capitals winger Tom Wilson for seven games for boarding Boston Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo on Friday. Carlo was taken to the hospital for treatment overnight but was released yesterday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given Wilson’s history of reckless hits resulting in four fines and three suspensions it’s not surprising the league handed down this judgement. He’s now been suspended for a total of 30 games in the NHL career.

SPORTING NEWS: Wayne Gretzky eulogized his father Walter during the latter’s funeral yesterday in Brantford, Ontario. “He was a remarkable man who loved life, loved family,” said Wayne. “We’d be a way better world if there were so many more people like my dad.” He also pointed out COVID-19 played no part in Walter’s passing, indicating he’d suffered a bad hip injury several weeks ago. He passed away last week at age 82.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rest in peace, Walter. Your legacy will live as long as your son’s.

LAS VEGAS SUN: The Vegas Golden Knights were left scrambling for new accommodations after the San Jose hotel they were staying in abruptly closed due to bankruptcy.

THE SCORE: A small number of NHL players in the United States have begun receiving COVID-19 vaccines. Some received it because of the city where they lived where the vaccine became available.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 27, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 27, 2021

Recaps of Friday’s action plus the latest on Auston Matthews, Jack Eichel, Vladimir Tarasenko and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Two goals in 12 seconds by Colin Blackwell and Chris Kreider lifted the New York Rangers to a 6-2 drubbing of the Boston Bruins in front of 1,800 fans at Madison Square Garden. Ryan Strome had a goal and two assists for the Rangers. Bruins’ captain Patrice Bergeron scored to collect his 889th career point, surpassing Bobby Orr for fifth on the club’s all-time points list while linemate Brad Marchand netted his 300th career goal. The Bruins have dropped four of their last five contests.

Minnesota Wild forward Kirill Kaprizov (NHL Images).

The Minnesota Wild picked up their fifth straight victory by downing the Los Angeles Kings 3-1, snapping the latter’s six-game win streak. Wild rookie Kirill Kaprizov scored his fifth of the season and leads the Wild and all NHL rookie skaters with 16 points in 17 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kaprizov must be considered the favorite to win the Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year. The smooth-skating 23-year-old is very entertaining to watch and a big reason why the Wild are playing so well of late.

Nazem Kadri had a goal and two assists as the Colorado Avalanche held off the Arizona Coyotes 3-2. Mikko Rantanen had a goal and an assist while rookie goalie Hunter Miska made 16 saves for this first NHL win.

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews is listed as day-to-day with an injured hand. Goaltender Frederik Andersen (lower-body injury) was on the ice yesterday ahead of Leafs practice while winger Joe Thornton and defenseman Jake Muzzin joined their teammates in practice.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews’ injury is reportedly considered a minor issue. He and his teammates are slated to meet the Edmonton Oilers tonight.

ESPN.COM: Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury while goaltender Linus Ullmark is expected to miss at least two games with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel’s absence could force Sabres coach Ralph Krueger to insert Jeff Skinner into the lineup. The struggling winger was a healthy scratch for the club’s last three games.

STLTODAY.COM: Vladimir Tarasenko could soon return to the Blues’ lineup before the club’s six-game road trip ends on March 8. The 29-year-old winger has been recovering from offseason shoulder surgery but is taking part in practice with his teammates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues have struggled of late so the return of their top sniper should provide a welcome boost to their offense. They’ll have to do some juggling with their salary cap space to make room for his $7.5 million annual salary-cap hit when he comes off long-term injury reserve.

THE ATHLETIC: Jim Rutherford told Pierre LeBrun he’s ready to work in the NHL only a month after suddenly stepping down as general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Rutherford insists he was “treated great” by the Penguins and has no regrets. He also said he has no geographical limitations on where he’d like to work.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford has a solid reputation around the NHL as one of the savviest general managers in the business. I doubt he’ll be unemployed for long.

NHL.COM: Former Montreal Canadiens general manager Irving Grundman passed away on Friday at age 93 following a short illness. He was the Habs GM from 1978-79 to 1982-83, winning the Stanley Cup in his first season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Grundman’s family, friends, and the Canadiens’ organization. During his tenure as GM he drafted future Hall-of-Famers Chris Chelios and Guy Carbonneau, as well as such noteworthy players as Mats Naslund, Craig Ludwig and Mike McPhee.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 13, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 13, 2021

Bruins edge the Rangers, Blues down the Coyotes, plus the latest on Steven Stamkos, Matt Murray, Zach Werenski and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Boston Bruins extended their points streak to 10 games by blanking the New York Rangers 1-0. Jaroslav Halak made 21 saves for the shutout while Nick Ritchie scored the only goal in a chippy affair that totaled 58 minutes in penalties with most of those in the second period. Earlier in the day, the Rangers announced winger Artemi Panarin would miss this game due to a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins (22 points) opened a four-point lead atop the East Division and moved to within a point of the first-overall Toronto Maple Leafs. The Rangers, meanwhile, have just three victories in their last 10 games.

Justin Faulk scored twice (including the game-winner) and collected an assist as the St. Louis Blues rolled to a 4-1 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. Brayden Schenn had a two-point night for the Blues. The Coyotes played without John Hayden as he was added to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list.

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos (NHL Images)

Earlier in the day, Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko surprised his teammates with an appearance during an optional practice. He’s recovering from offseason shoulder surgery and his return to action is still weeks away.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning placed captain Steven Stamkos on the COVID-19 protocol list. The development is unrelated to the lower-body injury that sidelined him from Thursday’s game against the Florida Panthers.

TSN: Ottawa Senators goaltender Matt Murray is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury and won’t play in today’s game against the Winnipeg Jets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators will need a better effort from backup Marcus Hogberg. He’s winless in five appearances with a 4.86 goals-against average and .836 save percentage.

CBS SPORTS: Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski returns to the lineup today against the Chicago Blackhawks after being sidelined for three games with a lower-body injury.

TWINCITIES.COM: Matt Dumba and Mats Zuccarello joined a depleted Minnesota Wild roster in the club’s first practice since their schedule was paused by COVID-19 10 days ago. Dumba could be ready to return to action for the Wild’s game on Tuesday against the Los Angeles Kings.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews could be ready to return to the lineup after being sidelined since Jan. 28 with an injured foot. The Avs are slated to play the Vegas Golden Knights on Sunday in their first game since their schedule was paused by the coronavirus.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The list of Flyers on the protocol list grew to seven as Oskar Lindblom and Scott Laughton were added yesterday.

THE SCORE: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed the league is working on changing the draft lottery. While Daly didn’t divulge details, TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports there were a number of people around the league who felt it unfair that the rebuilding Detroit Red Wings, who finished dead last in 2019-20, ended up with the fourth-overall pick in last year’s draft rather than selecting first overall. Changes to the draft are expected to be discussed with the league board of governors at a future date.

USA HOCKEY: announced New York Rangers associate general manager Chris Drury has been named the general manager of the 2021 US National Men’s Team.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 14, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 14, 2021

Recaps of the first games of the season, the Golden Knights and Red Wings name their new captains, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Morgan Rielly scored in overtime as the Toronto Maple Leafs edged the Montreal Canadiens 5-4. William Nylander scored twice and collected an assist while John Tavares had a goal and two assists. Josh Anderson scored twice for the Canadiens and teammate Jonathan Drouin had three assists.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A close, fast-paced contest between these long-time rivals. Some observers credit Wayne Simmonds’ fight with Ben Chiarot as the turning point when the Leafs were down 3-1 in the second period, but it was penalties by Anderson and Nick Suzuki leading to two Toronto goals that changed the course of the game.

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos (NHL Images).

The Tampa Bay Lightning unveiled their 2019-20 Stanley Cup championship banner before thumping the Chicago Blackhawks 5-1. Lightning captain Steven Stamkos led the way with a goal and two assists. The Blackhawks played without defenseman Brent Seabrook, who missed training camp with a back injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stamkos showed no lingering effects from the surgery he underwent in the offseason to address the core muscle injury that sidelined him for all but one game in the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Joel Farabee scored and collected three assists to lead the Philadelphia Flyers over the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-3. Michael Raffl snapped a 3-3 tie with the game-winner in the third period. Flyers forward Nolan Patrick scored in his first game since missing last season to migraines. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby tallied his first goal of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers exploited the Penguins’ sloppy defensive play throughout this game, especially in the third period.

Two third-period goals by Brock Boeser helped the Vancouver Canucks down the Edmonton Oilers 5-3. Braden Holtby made 28 saves in his Canucks’ debut as he and his teammates successfully killed four Oilers power-play opportunities.

St. Louis Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist scored two goals and Robert Thomas collected two assists as their club rolled to a 4-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. The Blues played without offseason acquisition Mike Hoffman as he missed the game due to a work visa issue. They also placed winger Vladimir Tarasenko (shoulder surgery) on long-term injury reserve.

HEADLINES

THE SCORE: The NHL revealed 22 players on 16 different clubs were unavailable for the start of the season due to COVID-19 protocols. They include Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson, Columbus Blue Jackets center Mikko Koivu, Oilers winger James Neal, Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, Canucks forward J.T. Miller and Winnipeg Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers.

TSN: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly revealed he tested positive for COVID-19 in December. He said he’s feeling fine and has fully recovered from the coronavirus.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A reminder that no one is immune from COVID-19. We’re bound to see more instances of positive tests over the course of this season. The best the league can do is take the necessary steps to limit exposure and spread of the coronavirus.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Vegas Golden Knights announced winger Mark Stone was named their first captain in franchise history.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings named center Dylan Larkin as their 37th captain in franchise history and the first since Henrik Zetterberg retired in 2018.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a foregone conclusion Larkin would get the Wings’ captaincy but the Golden Knights played coy about naming their first full-time captain. Fine choices by both clubs.

TSN: The Washington Capitals signed goaltender Craig Anderson to a one-year, $700K contract and placed him on waivers yesterday for the purpose of placing him on their taxi squad if he clears.

CBC SPORTS: The Jets signed forward Trevor Lewis to a one-year, $750K contract.

CBS SPORTS: The Florida Panthers signed Kevin Connauton to a one-year, two-way deal and placed him on waivers yesterday. He’ll join their taxi squad if he clears.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 7, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 7, 2020

Check out the latest on Vladimir Tarasenko, P.K. Subban, Jarome Iginla and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

STLTODAY.COM: St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko is over two months into recovery from offseason shoulder surgery and seems to be doing well. He and teammate Alexander Steen won’t be healthy enough to be on the active roster when the season begins.

New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban (NHL Images).

 MONTREAL GAZETTE: New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban’s marriage to skier Lindsey Vonn was slated for this past July but is now indefinitely on hold due to COVID-19. They’re waiting until their families, spread throughout North America and Europe, can safely attend.

CALGARY SUN: A Boston TV station had no idea they were interviewing NHL Hall-of-Famer Jarome Iginla when speaking with several local motorists dealing with a winter storm on Friday. Iginla and his family live in the Boston area.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It probably would’ve been a different story if Iginla had spent the bulk of his playing career with the Bruins instead of with the Calgary Flames. He only played one season with the Bruins in 2013-14, reaching the 30-goal plateau for the 12th and final time in his 20-year NHL career.

THE SCORE: Former NHL forward Thomas Vanek believes the league isn’t as tough as it was early in his career. He points out big defensemen like Chris Pronger and Derian Hatcher were rarely called for penalties for inflicting punishment on forwards parked in front of the net. “Now the game has changed. You’ve got a lot of smaller defensemen who are more mobile,” said Vanek. “They cross-check a little bit, but those guys (Pronger, Hatcher) are nonexistent really anymore.”

RDS: Former NHL forward Maxim Lapierre announced his retirement on Sunday. He tallied 65 goals and 74 assists for 139 points in 614 games with the Montreal Canadiens, Anaheim Ducks, Vancouver Canucks, St. Louis Blues and Pittsburgh Penguins from 2005-06 to 2014-15. He spent the last five seasons playing in Sweden, Switzerland and Germany.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Lapierre in his future endeavors.

NHL.COM: Former NHL linesman Neil Armstrong passed away Sunday at age 87. He officiated in 1,744 NHL regular-season games from 1957 to 1978 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991. He was the father of St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Armstrong’s family, friends and colleagues.










NHL Rumor Mill – December 5, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – December 5, 2020

Questions about Vladimir Tarasenko’s future with the St. Louis Blues and possible moves by the New Jersey Devils in today’s NHL rumor mill.

STLTODAY.COM: In his weekly live chat with Blues fans, Jim Thomas was asked if the St. Louis Blues might expose high-salaried veterans like Vladimir Tarasenko and David Perron in next year’s expansion draft or risk losing younger, cheaper players. Thomas doesn’t see that happening. He pointed out Perron is playing better in terms of production than he ever has, plus they’d hate to make the wrong decision with Tarasenko and see him regain his form with the Kraken.

St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko (NHL Images).

 THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Jeremy Rutherford was asked if the Blues might try to trade the injury-prone Tarasenko. Given the winger’s three shoulder surgeries, Rutherford doubted the Blues would get a good return. He felt there’s a better chance of Tarasenko helping the club upon his return from his latest surgery than a team offering a player or players who can contribute.

Rutherford was also asked if the Blues might make any more moves. While general manager Doug Armstrong hasn’t ruled out another signing, Rutherford would be surprised if it happened.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tarasenko’s recent shoulder injuries seem to have some Blues fans concerned about his performance over the remaining three years of his contract. Cap Friendly indicates signed through 2022-23 with an annual average value of $7.5 million, which could prove costly for the Blues if he cannot regain his 30-goal form.

Trading Taranseko won’t be easy if the Blues decide one day to part with him. In addition to his injury history and annual cap hit, the 28-year-old winger also has a full no-trade clause. That wouldn’t prevent him from being exposed in next year’s expansion draft but I’ll be shocked if Armstrong left him unprotected.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Corey Masisak was asked if the New Jersey Devils might attempt to acquire players from cap-strapped clubs, or pursue free agent Mike Hoffman on a one-year contract, or if they’d go the offer-sheet route.

Masisak noted the Devils have over $17 million in salary-cap space, though new contracts for restricted free agents Mackenzie Blackwood and Jesper Bratt could whittle that down to around $10 million. He feels Tampa Bay Lightning winger Alex Killorn could be a good fit but isn’t sure if Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald will want to tie up too much future cap space given the current economic uncertainty.

Signing a UFA like Hoffman, Mikael Granlund or Anthony Duclair to a short-term deal is possible. However, those players could be reluctant to join a team that isn’t a clear contender and risk getting moved at the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fitzgerald could make a move to further boost his roster before the season begins (next month?). I don’t expect a blockbuster move but perhaps he can get into the bidding for one of those UFA forwards on a cost-effective deal. Those players could be reluctant to join a non-contender on a short-term deal. With so few teams carrying sufficient cap space, however, they might not have much choice if Fitzgerald shows interest in one of them.