NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 18, 2023
William Nylander continues his points streak as the Leafs rally to beat the Red Wings in Sweden while Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Montour return to the Panthers lineup. Details on these and other stories in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: Toronto Maple Leafs winger William Nylander extended his season-opening points streak to 16 games in a 3-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings at the NHL Global Series in Sweden. The Leafs were down 2-0 but Nylander rallied his teammates in the third period with a goal and two assists and was named the game’s first star. John Tavares also had a goal and two assists as the Leafs improved to 9-5-2. Daniel Sprong and Lucas Raymond scored for the 8-6-3 Red Wings.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nylander has been the Leafs’ best player thus far this season. He’s their leading scorer with 25 points and sits second in goals with 11. He’s also among the league leaders in both categories. At this pace, he’ll become a serious candidate for the Hart Memorial Trophy as his team’s MVP.
Nylander’s strong performance in his contract year will also make the cost of re-signing him even more expensive for the Leafs. Reports out of Toronto since July claimed his camp was seeking an annual average value of $10 million. That figure could be between $11 million and $12 million now.
Red Wings defenseman Jake Walman left this game in the second period with an apparent upper-body injury. There was no postgame update on his condition.
Florida Panthers defensemen Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Montour made their season debuts as their club nipped the Anaheim Ducks 2-1. Eetu Luostarinen and Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored for the Panthers (11-5-1) as Anthony Stolarz made 34 saves for the win. Frank Vatrano replied for the Ducks (9-8-0) as John Gibson stopped 33 shots.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ekblad and Montour had been sidelined by offseason shoulder surgeries. They were held scoreless but their return to the blueline was a welcome sight for the Panthers.
It was a costly win for the Panthers as team captain Aleksander Barkov left the game with an injured left knee in the third period after Ducks defenseman Jackson Lacombe stuck out his leg and struck Barkov. Lacome was initially assessed a five-minute major but it was reduced on review to two minutes. There was no postgame update on Barkov’s condition.
The Winnipeg Jets held off the Buffalo Sabres by a score of 3-2. Connor Hellebuyck turned aside 26 shots, Cole Perfetti extended his goal streak to five games while Nino Niederreiter and Vladislav Namestnikov each collected two assists for the 9-5-2 Jets. Alex Tuch and JJ Peterka replied for the Sabres as they slipped to 7-9-1.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres activated goaltender Eric Comrie and winger Zach Benson off injured reserve for this game while placing center Tage Thompson (left-hand injury) on IR.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Arizona Coyotes center Barrett Hayton will be sidelined for four to six weeks as he undergoes surgery for an upper-body injury suffered against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday.
Hayton’s teammate Matias Maccelli also left that game after being struck in the face by a puck. While he required “major dental surgery” he’s expected to be okay though it’s uncertain as to when he’ll return to the lineup.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens defenseman Arber Xhekaj is listed as day-to-day after leaving Thursday’s game against the Vegas Golden Knights with an apparent injury to his left shoulder.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was concern that Xhekaj could miss considerable time if the injury was serious. That’s understandable considering he underwent season-ending surgery to his right shoulder in February. This news suggests that he might not be laid up for too long.
SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sharks center Nico Sturm will miss the next two games as he takes a leave of absence to attend to a personal matter.
WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Capitals defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk (lower-body injury) and winger Anthony Mantha (ruptured eardrum) will return to the lineup for today’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Penguins backup goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic scored a goal for the club’s AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Friday against the Providence Bruins. It’s the second time he’s scored in AHL action during his career. He’s on loan to the Penguins’ farm team on a conditioning stint.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: The government of Quebec is facing criticism for paying upwards of $7 million to the Los Angeles Kings to play two preseason games next season in Quebec City against the Boston Bruins and Florida Panthers.
Critics believe that money could’ve been better spent on more pressing issues, especially when it was revealed that the Montreal Canadiens were willing to play some preseason games in Quebec City for free.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Someone on social media joked that Quebec City wanted to see real NHL teams rather than the Canadiens. It’s part of the province’s efforts to bring a team back to Quebec City. However, it’s unlikely to succeed given the more lucrative markets in Houston, Atlanta and Salt Lake City that are expected to be the next destinations for NHL expansion franchises.