NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 27, 2011.

Predators captain Shea Weber sidelined…Marc-Andre Fleury the reason for Penguins success this season…Wild winless in seven…Blackhawks first to fifty points…Cam Ward gets first NHL goal…James van Riemsdyk playing with hip pain…Injuries force Panthers to adjust lines…Drew Stafford’s lengthy scoring slump…Darren Helm gets 20 stitches…Coaching changes not helping NHL teams.

 

Weber out with upper body injury.

THE TENNESSEAN: Nashville Predators captain Shea Weber is out with an upper body injury for an undetermined period of time, likely the result of a hit from Mark Fistric’s during Friday’s Predators-Stars game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If it’s for a lengthy period, it could not only have an impact upon the Predators’ season, but also perhaps upon his future with the team.

POST-GAZETTE.COM: Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury’s maturation is the main reason they continue to play well despite losing a number of key players to injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Imagine how powerful the Penguins would be this season with a healthy roster. Still, it’s given Fleury the long-overdue credit he deserves.

STARTRIBUNE.COM: The Minnesota Wild saw their winless skid extended to seven game, giving up three unanswered goals in a 4-2 loss at home to the Colorado Avalanche.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Injuries have played a significant factor in the Wild’s recent struggles, though they now have only three players (Guillaume Latendresse, Devin Setoguchi and Casey Wellman) on injured reserve.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: The Blackhawks were the first team to reach 50 points this season with a 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

NEW YORK POST: Carolina Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward was credited with a goal (his first in the NHL) as the Hurricanes down the New Jersey Devils.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ilya Kovalchuk inadvertently put the puck in his own net late in the game, but Ward was the last Hurricanes player to touch it.

PHILLY.COM: Flyers winger James van Riemsdyk has been bothered by a hip injury since the start of the season, which one source said could require surgery at season’s end.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That explains why his offensive production hasn’t been as strong this season as anticipated.

MIAMI HERALD: Injuries has forced Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen to shuffle his lines. Center Stephen Weiss is the 7th Panther currently sidelined and is questionable for Tuesday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This will prove a good test in handling adversity for the Panthers, who’ve been among the surprise teams of the opening months of this season.

BUFFALO NEWS: Sabres winger Drew Stafford continues to struggle to score.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stafford’s scoring problems is one of the reasons for the Sabres overall poor performance in recent weeks, making him the subject of trade rumors.

DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings forward Darren Helm received 20 stitches after taking a puck to the mouth during the warmup to last night’s Red Wings-Predators game. He still played in the game.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Of the six NHL teams which made coaching changes this season, only one – St. Louis – saw their fortunes improve.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A couple of those teams (Washington and Los Angeles) are capable of playing better, and should improve as the season progresses. The others (Anaheim, Carolina, Montreal ) simply suck this season, and no coaching change can help them. Those teams made those moves out of desperation, playing the only card they had left.