NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 20, 2019
Avalanche eliminated the Flames, Leafs push Bruins to the brink of elimination, Masterton Trophy finalists revealed, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: For the first time in 11 years, the Colorado Avalanche are going to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Avalanche defeated the Calgary Flames 5-1 to win their opening-round matchup in five games. Philipp Grubauer made 28 saves, Mikko Rantanen and Colin Wilson each scored twice while Nathan MacKinnon and Tyson Barrie each collected three assists.
T.J. Brodie scored the only goal for the Flames, who made veteran winger James Neal a healthy scratch for this contest. The Flames’ elimination marks the first time in league history the top seeds in each conference failed to advance to the second round.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like the Tampa Bay Lightning against the underdog Columbus Blue Jackets, the Flames were outplayed by the upstart Avalanche, who didn’t clinch a playoff berth until the final week of the regular season. Put simply, the Avs best players rose to the occasion while most of the Flames’ best did not.
This defeat cannot be pinned on Flames goaltender Mike Smith, as he was outstanding through most of this series. His teammates, especially his defense, let him down, especially in Games 3 and 4 when he faced a total of 108 shots. Smith and versatile forward Sam Bennett were the only Flames who can still hold their heads high following this series.
The Toronto Maple Leafs held off a late rally by the Boston Bruins for a 2-1 victory in Game 5 of their opening-round series and return to Toronto with a chance to close things out in Game 6 on Sunday. Auston Matthews and Kasperi Kapanen scored in the third period while David Krejci tallied for the Bruins. Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen kicked out 28 shots for the win.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless you’re a Leafs or Bruins fan you probably found this game duller than dishwater. Nevertheless, the Leafs must be commended for playing what I consider their best defensive game of the season. They did a superb job containing the Bruins offense.
Columbus Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno, New York Islanders goaltender Robin Lehner, and San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton are this year’s finalists for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, awarded annually “to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.”
WINNIPEG SUN: Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers could be unavailable for tonight’s crucial Game 6 against the St. Louis Blues after blocking a shot late in Game 5.
NBC SPORTS: With winger T.J. Oshie sidelined with an upper-body injury, the Washington Capitals recalled 2018 playoff hero Devante Smith-Pelly from their AHL affiliate in Hershey for Game 5 of their series tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes. The series is deadlocked at two games apiece.
SPORTSDAY: Dallas Stars forward Mattias Janmark could return to the lineup for Game 5 this afternoon against the Nashville Predators. A lower-body injury sidelined Janmark since Game 2.
TSN: New York Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk will be sidelined three-to-four weeks by a lower-body injury.
NBC SPORTS: The Philadelphia Flyers “removed Kate Smith’s rendition of “God Bless America” from their music library and covered up the statue of the opera singer near the Wells Fargo Center in light of several songs by Smith containing racist lyrics being unearthed.” It’s expected the statue will be removed in the near future.
On an non-NHL note, congratulations to the Yarmouth Mariners (my old hometown team) on winning the Maritime Junior Hockey League’s Canadian Tire Cup with a four-game sweep of the Campbellton Tigers. Way to go, boys, you’ve made Yarmouth County proud.