NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 23, 2012.

Evgeni Malkin leads Penguins over Capitals…Alexander Ovechkin and Zbynek Michalek could face suspensions…Jonas Hiller the difference for improving Ducks…Bruins costly win over Flyers…No suspension for Henrik Zetterberg for hit on Nikita Nikitin…Sabres misery continues…Devils GM unconcerned over team’s record against top teams…Cam Ward improving…Nick Leddy becoming key defenseman for Blackhawks.

POST-GAZETTE.COM: Evgeni Malkin led the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals. It was a rough affair, however, which could result in possible suspensions for Capitals captain Alexander Ovechkin and Penguins defenseman Zbynek Michalek.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin has a suspension history, and leaving his feet to lay that hit on Michalek could prove costly. Michalek has no previous suspension history, but that hit on Hendricks is the kind the league now frowns upon. As for Malkin, he’s taken over the league points race, and is third in the goal-scoring race. At this pace, he could finish the season winning both titles, and is muscling his way into the lead for the Hart Trophy as league MVP.

Hiller's improved play key factor in Ducks surge.

ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Goaltender Jonas Hiller has made the difference for the Anaheim Ducks in their recent 8-1-1 surge, going “6-0-1 with a 1.50 goals-against average and a .947 save percentage.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hiller had been playing poorly in the first half of the season, but of late appears to have regained his form. The Ducks are 11 points out of the playoff chase, and it remains to be seen if they can maintain their current pace, but they’re among the hottest teams in the league right now, and could gain significant ground in the standings if they can keep this up.

CSNNE.COM: Boston Bruins forward Nathan Horton was forced to leave yesterday’s game (a 6-5 Bruins win over the Philadelphia Flyers) due to a blindside hit by Flyer Tom Sesito. The Bruins also learned Andrew Ference had been suspended three games for charging Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh in an earlier game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No word yet on the seriousness of Horton’s condition. He has a concussion history so this is obviously being treated with concern by the Bruins. No word yet if Sesito will face disciplinary action for that hit.

DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg won’t face a suspension for his push to the back of Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Nikita Nikitin, who suffered a knee injury after crashing awkwardly into the boards. The league felt there was no intent to injure on Zetterberg’s part. Nikitin is expected to miss the Blue Jackets next two games, but the injury isn’t believed to be serious.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve heard a few yahoos claiming league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan is showing favoritism to his former team and Zetterberg, but it’s obvious Zetterberg made incidental contact and never intended to hurt Nikitin. Even the Blue Jackets aren’t questioning the decision, as Zetterberg is renowned as one of the cleanest players in the league. While Zetterberg was willing to face whatever discipline might’ve been handed down, this was a good call by Shanahan.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: The Sabres return home from a road trip in which they went 0-5, dropping them to the bottom of the Northeast Division and 14th overall in the Eastern Conference.

NJ.COM: Devils GM Lou Lamoriello is unconcerned over his team’s 1-6 record against the top teams in the Conference.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Probably because he’s more concerned over the team’s financial situation. Bazinga!

NEWSOBSERVER.COM: Carolina Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward has gone 8-4-5 since regaining his focus after an on-bench meltdown during a loss against the Winnipeg Jets in early December.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: 20-year-old defenseman Nick Leddy is blossoming into a quality defenseman for the Blackhawks.


  1. I’d go as far as saying that the lack of penalty and discipline on Ovechkin for the charge on Michalek was a major contributor for Michalek’s hit on Hendricks. You could tell Michalek was upset there was no call on the play (Orpik as well) and most likely that frustration boiled over later on. Not saying it was a smart move on his part, but officials should either be calling everything regardless of star player or nothing at all and letting them play.

  2. Consistency has always been a problem with referees. Things are different from game to game, and things are just plain missed. Problem being, when we get three or four looks at a play in slow motion, refs get one look from one angle in real-time. Things will be missed.

    Blatant things though, that’s inexcusable.

  3. Shanahan needs to be more consistent. He is all over the place. Intent to injure or dangerous hit? Who cares. Should still face a suspension for it.

  4. Ovie left his feet and crushed Michaleks head against the glass. Pretty sure that’s a suspension. Zetterberg did not crush/push/intend to injure nikitin. Glad he isn’t looking at it. No comment on Bruins players as their fans come out from under their bridges to cry and flame the blog. Although, I love antagonizing them. :)

    Here’s my 99.9% unlikely trade of the day: Gomez back to the Devils! He loves it there, his salary is 5.5 and 4.5 for the next two years but the cap hit is 7.3. Devils get the cap threshold for revenue sharing but save money. Eh? Eh?!? Lol. Ok. You guys can flame me for that one, but a guy can hope and dream. Lol. At this point I think the Canadiens would do that for a autographed Brodeur jersey.

    Good for Hiller for bouncing back. He’s a quality goalie and battled vertigo last year.

    Sabres…. Well, when there’s talk of shippin out a all star, Vezina calibre, Olympian, all star before firing the coach and trying a new GM then I think there’s some management over there that need to give their head a shake.

  5. Smielman – did you ever think that there is a problem with the “all star goalie” and the rest of the team? Might not be a coaching issue, but more of a “hang em out to dry” issue as it seems there aren’t too many that come to Ryan’s defense. In reality – at the end of the season Hecht, Boyes and Gaustaud most likely will be gone as they are UFAs. We should try to get something for them and bring up some guys from Rochester. As we draw closer to the trade deadline and as we see more players get hurt a la Briere, Kane, JVR, Ashim and Liles (to name a few) – I believe the value of tradeable players is going to rise. To me, I would rather have the Sabres focus on achieving small goals and look towards next year. Let’s unload some salary now and maybe Darcy/Pegula can get into the running for Parisi as he is the type of guy we need for this team. I also believe we need to make a splash and I wouldn’t be adverse to trading Stafford to NJ for Parisi and the right to jump start a negotiation. Doing a deal like that would give Parisi the opportunity to see what Bflo is all about. Another guy Darcy should be looking at is Getzlaff – he is having a horrible year and maybe it is time for him to get a change of scenary. We could trade Roy and throw in Sekera, Gragnani and/or Weber. Can’t see Anaheim doing a trade Hiller for Miller – but you never know.

  6. I agree with ferences suspension,and im a bruins fan it was a stupid hit from behind.I would just like to see more consistent calls from all officials and the suspensions being handed out,are different every time.I think players dont really know whats gonna be called.I think zetterberg should have been fined not suspended as it was a push from behind but ,i dont think he has ever really been fined or suspended for anything.the leauge has to take intent out of the process.and just rule on the play.I agree the refs have to make a split second decision and it must be tough but the leauge can go back and at least fine the player for a cheap shot.

  7. Steve- maybe I’m biased towards goalies, but I would consider miller the best player on that team. He’s visibly frustrated because he is used to being one of the best, not mid level. I think that when your part of a team you should have everyone’s back though. After the Lucic hit everyone should have dog piled him, but they were hesitant. Maybe te team has no solid leadership in the room to get everyone on the same page? It might be disheartening for some players to see guys like erhoff and Leino come in with massive money and not produce too. Who knows what really goes on in these locker rooms. I would look at moving other pieces before Miller though. Rumor has it that Roy is close to going.

  8. I’d also consider Miller the best player on that team, however things fell apart after that game early on when they allowed the Bruins to take runs at him as mentioned. Miller lost confidence in his teammates and then they lost confidence in him. It shows when they start Enroth and the defence actually sure hustle all of a sudden. Sadly its going to take a major shakeup to right this ship which is unfortunate since the Sabres have a decent fanbase, excellent and committed owner and decent/reliable coach and GM going for them.

    Now I assume Roy will be on the move since he’s the trade chip with the most value. Who, where and for what right now are the big questions.