NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 3, 2017

by | May 3, 2017 | News, NHL | 33 comments

Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis scores against the St. Louis Blues in Game 4 of their second-round playoff series.

Game recaps, injury updates, Lindsay Award finalists revealed & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: Ryan Ellis and James Neal scored and Pekka Rinne made 32 saves as the Nashville Predators edged the St. Louis Blues 2-1 in Game 4 of their second-round series. The win gives the Predators a 3-1 series lead and the opportunity to wrap things up in Game 5 on Friday in St. Louis. Ellis currently has a seven-game point streak on the go. 

Henrik Lundqvist made 26 saves and Mats Zuccarello scored a goal and set up another to give the New York Rangers a 4-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators in Game 3 of their second-round series. The Senators now hold a 2-1 lead in the series. Senators forwards Zack Smith and Bobby Ryan left the game with injuries. An update on their status for Game 4 could be revealed today. 

TRIBLIVE.COM/SPORTSNET: Pittsburgh Penguins forwards Sidney Crosby and Conor Sheary will miss Game 4 of their series against the Washington Capitals with concussions. Both were injured in their club’s Game 3 loss to the Capitals. 

CSN MID-ATLANTIC: Capitals defenseman Matt Niskaken won’t be suspended for his cross check on Crosby that resulted in the latter’s concussion. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league is facing some media criticism over the poor quality of playoff officiating resulting in injuries to stars such as Crosby. While I agree that what qualifies as a penalty in the regular season tends to go uncalled more often than not in the postseason, there’s little pundits and fans can do about it. This has been going on for years and it’s obvious that not even losing someone like Crosby to injury will do anything to change it.

Sure, the league deserves its share of criticism, but the NHL Players Association has seemingly done little to pressure the league into ensuring the players are protected and the rule book is enforced throughout the regular season and playoffs. Don’t expect Crosby’s injury to spur any significant improvement. 

Crosby, Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid and San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns are finalists for the Ted Lindsay Award honoring the NHL’s most valuable player as voted by the players. 

TORONTO STAR: The Maple Leafs re-signed defenseman Nikita Zaitsev to a seven-year, $31.5 million contract. The annual average value is $4.5 million. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some observers are puzzled over why the Leafs invested in such a lengthy deal for a rookie blueliner. The Athletic’s James Mirtle breaks it down, citing the 24-year-old’s arbitration rights and the fact he was only two years away from unrestricted free agent status. To keep the salary reasonable, the Leafs opted for term. Time will tell how well this deal pans out for the Leafs. 

ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson revealed the difficulty he had playing this season while his mother was dying of cancer in Finland. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Too often we forget pro athletes are human beings who must deal with the same real-life personal difficulties and tragedies as the rest of us. My condolences to Ekman-Larsson and his family. 

TWINCITIES.COM:  Minnesota Wild defenseman Marco Scandella underwent surgery on his left hip and is expected to be ready to go for next season. 

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Charges against Sabres left wing Evander Kane stemming from an incident in a Buffalo-area bar last June were dropped as part of a plea agreement approved last October. 

ESPN.COM’S Craig Custance reports the NHL sent a memo to the 30 clubs listing the players considered exempt from the expansion draft. Among the notables are Chris Pronger, Dave Bolland, Johan Franzen, David Clarkson, Nathan Horton, Pascal Dupuis, Ryane Clowe and Mikhail Grabovski.



  1. Crosby was attacked, it’s as simple as that. There’s no justice in the NHL. Because of it I’m sure there’s some players on Pitt that just want to go McSorley on someone right now.

    • Niskanen didn’t deserve a 5 maybe a 2 but if it was anyone other than Crosby we wouldn’t be talking about it

    • Crosby attacked Methot too. You think he’s receiving any different treatment than other stars of the game? Give it a frikken rest

      • Drop the Methot case George. The slash on the hands is something that goes uncalled each game, every game of the regular season. remember when the wild broke Gaudreau’s hand earlier in the year?
        This wasn’t an intent to injure.
        I see that you are sour but the code is simple, lets crash and bang, but watch the head.
        The two things aren’t comparable.

      • I’ll drop it, Taz, when Crosby stops whining, and when the NHL starts calling penalties for such slashes in ALL cases.

      • Hey George I guess you should have grown up and stopped whining a few years ago just like Crosby did.

        I’m a big Crosby fan, and yes he used to whine when he came into the league. He might argue occasionally like every player. But he doesn’t whine.

      • Pathetic. Want to take my lollipop away too? Make your point without that crap. And no, he hasn’t stopped whining. It’s a reputation that will stick with him for his career.

      • How about you take it from Gary Roberts then? Go listen to leafs lunch.

        If you can’t respect his opionion of Crosby then you’ve got your mind made up no matter what.

      • You do know Roberts gets paid by players right? It would be bad for business I would think to call them out for what they are

    • I think you should see the video again and notice these things:
      1) Crosby fell because he tripped ACCIDENTALLY with OVI’s feet
      2) He glided into Niskanen
      3) Niskanen is trying to brace himself for the incoming player
      4) Niskanen has his stick on HIS HIP level

      The video showing the incident has been slow motion so that we normal people realize what happened. In full speed it looks so fast that you realize there is no way Niskanen had time to do anything with intent.

      I see it as a hockey play as I did see the Crosby/Method incident. Hockey plays happen more often to the great players that personally have the puck and that’s the reason Crosby is involved in these things.

      P.S. I like Crosby and I would like to hear Lyle’s take on this.

      • If you don’t think Ovie knew he was doing skate to skate on Crosby watch the video again

      • 1) Ovie slashed him high and kicked his foot.
        2) That caused him to fall into Niskanen
        3) Niskanen took advantage of opportunity and braced his pants from crosbys face with his stick
        4) If it were a white Jersey there would be no forceful contact with the head by Niskanens stick.
        5) No justice.

      • Exactly! Plays on the ice don’t happen in super-slow motion. Niskanen was, in fact, out of position and trying to get back into the play when Crosby came flying off-balance towards him – everything at full tilt. How the hell was he supposed to avoid him? He shouldn’t even have been penalized – and would not have been had he been a “super-star.”

      • Arnie. I disagree. If a Washington player had been coming back hard & had Crosby tied up & fell in a similiar fashion Niskanen would have nailed him in just the same way. No time to react. See Rust on Sheary I guess he should have avoided elbowing his own player in the head.

        I don’t really care who wins this series. I took Washington in 7, called it a coin toss that most likely would come down to injures. I got forced to draft a few Washington players in 1 of my pick em pools & they are better than the few Pittsburgh players I was able to choose. For my bracket pool I literally flipped a coin. Washington won that toss. In my bracket pools it’s a wash.

      • Yeah and the Steckel shoulder was a mistake too, huh. He had no time to react. What a coincidence. Unbelievable. If you don’t agree you’re wrong, simply put.

      • Arnie if you think that was intentional you’re wrong simply put

    • Ovie kicked his foot after slashing him high. Niskanen gave him a shot on the way down. To quote Will Ferrell I feel like I’m on crazy pills or something, does nobody else see what happened? I don’t want to talk about Methot either, that’s a different topic. And yes, he absolutely receives different treatment than any other players in the league. So I suppose you’re going to say Steckel didn’t mean to hit him either and that it’s just a coincidence that he played for Washington? It’s hard to give it a rest when there’s dum dums out there that can’t see what happened.

      • The reason these guys get slightly different treatment is that they are easily the most targeted night in night out. See Gaudreau broken hand above.
        Players like Crosby and McDavid need to retaliate otherwise they would just get pummeled all the time.

    • After choking and losing the first two games at home, the Caps had two paths to winning the series.

      1) Hurting Crosby.
      2) Hurting Fleury.

      5 minutes into the next game and 4 fouls in a two second span later, Sid was out of the game.

      I guess they just caught a lucky break, huh?

      A well timed piece of good fortune that one of the few things that could occur that would allow them a chance to win just luckily happened, eh?


      • Jaysus. The whining is contagious.

    • The only way for the Caps to win the series after choking away their first two home games and being outscored 9-4 despite throwing the kitchen sink…hurt Crosby or Fleury.

      5 minutes into the next game and 4 fouls in a two second span later and Crosby was out.

      I guess that was just a well timed lucky break for the Caps, huh? K.

      • Why wasn’t Kunitz given a penalty for goalie interference on the waived off goal? That’s a penalty. How about Kuntiz nailing Oshie just inside the blue line with no puck in sight? It swings both ways.

        Take off the rose colored glasses & try to be objective. Stop watching the play in slow motion but at real speed. less than 1/2 a second, no way Niskanen has time to adjust for what’s about to happen. Injures are part of hockey, especially playoff hockey. Everyone has them & most players are playing hurt. As soon as the playoffs end there is a rash of surgeries for players playing thru them. God love hockey.

        Game 1. Washington seriously outplayed Pittsburgh & lost 3-2. Out shot them 35 to 21. Out hit them 41 to 17.

        Game 2. Washington seriously outplayed them again & lost 6-2. The #2 Line got chewed up all came off -3. Out shot them 36 to 24. Out hit them 37 to 19.

        Holtby played poorly in game 1 & was brutal in game 2 but his teammates didn’t help. Shattenkirk especially. Nor did Washington have their #3, Alzner who plays on their #1 pairing with Carlson.

        The PP opportunities in this series are equal by opportunity. Niskanen didn’t deserve 5, really he didn’t deserve 2. He can’t be responsible for Crosby’s choices or bad luck.

        The goalie you don’t like MAF has played brilliant with a few minor hiccups. Had he not Washington would have taken games 1 & 2.

      • Exactly. The Caps threw the kitchen sink at the Pens and still lost by a combined 9-4 at home.

        LUCKY for them, they fortunately and completely UN-intentionally injured the best player in the world.

        Sure, even Don Cherry and Tie Domi say the hit is dirty, but nope, just good “puck” luck for the Caps. That’s all.

      • Cherry the dinosaur and Domi the Goon wouldn’t know dirty if it rose up and bit them on the ass.

    • Niskanen didn’t target Crosby. Had Crosby’s path not changed & there wasn’t sufficient contact by Ovy’s stick to the head or their feet coming into contact to justify Crosby falling as he did, he went down on purpose to draw a penalty & or to try & avoid contact with Holtby. This altered his path & put his head in Niskanen’s hands. I call that bad Karma. It all happened in under 1/2 a second. Niskanen’s hands moved but barely & this is a natural reaction to anyone facing running into anything. The brains choice to get ready to push Crosby was made before Niskanen would have known he was even falling.

      This is most unfortunate. No 1 wants to see Crosby lost. I don’t but accidents happen. This is the fastest sport in the world played by athlete’s with out things with motors. This isn’t the worst we have seen, not even close, wouldn’t make the top 100 in even the last 20 years. It happens every year in every playoffs. This is a systemic problem that neither the NHL nor players care to address.

      The NHLPA has fought every rule change the NHL has ever tried to make. Go read Westhead’s latest on the NHL’s defensive of the concussion law suit trying to be made a class action.

      • Exactly Striker. THE NHL & NHLPA share equally in the blame. The playoffs are prison rules, and it has always been that way.
        If you let the games turn into an all out anything goes battle, guess what happens.
        Crap like this. And correct it happens every year.
        You know why I think the NHL doesn’t change it? Why the NHLPA doesn’t change it?
        Because they believe most of the fans love it and it brings in $$.
        And we do, and we pay the $$.
        Until something like this happens and then we all point fingers.

      • As usual Ray Bark we agree. I would like to see the NHL start to force change in this line of mentality. Yes I love hard hitting hockey but there are at least 6 to 10 hits a game I don’t like. They are simply hitting way to hard & it serves no purpose nor is really a hockey play.

        They talk about wearing players down, what a joke. Few players are intimidated by the time they get to the NHL & by year 2 or 3 what few are get weeded out of the game. 2 of my favorite players of all time are Ray Bourque & Nic Lidstrom. They played hockey. They snapped on very rare occasions but they didn’t play to hurt people & rarely hit players so hard they couldn’t get up quickly.

        This mentality has to change. Let’s at least start to alter this line of thinking. I don’t need to see players being punished. You shouldn’t be allowed to leave your feet at any point thru the hit. You should have keep your feet on the ice. Yes push thru the hit but not launch yourself off your feet at point of contact.

      • If you do leave your feet at any point during a hit it’s called boarding or charging. 2 if the player isn’t injured. 5 minute major, a 10 min misconduct served in the penalty box, if the player doesn’t return with in those 15 minutes the player is tossed from the game.

      • Agreed. We all love the physical play of the playoffs and the “warrior” mentality. Most of us grew up playing this game in Canada and can identify with it and have a great appreciation for it and what it takes to win even at the levels we got to.
        But now we know more about concussions and what the damage is. It can ruin the lives of the players, and their families.
        The game needs to evolve, and it is that simple.

      • I think it has actually improved over the years. I mean, every single hit Scott Stevens ever threw, would be a suspension in today’s NHL.

  2. If the NHL would just enforce the rule book as written & not hand out penalties subjectively all would be happier including the players. What is a slash 1 minute isn’t the next, same for almost every penalty. Really it’s a joke. Call the game like the officials call the WJC’s, better yet to an even higher standard.

    Sticks are for passing & shooting, they aren’t weapons. Waive your stick at a player & make any contact, slashing, for that matter any contact on the stick above the knee. Force your stick into a player anywhere on the ice before or after a goal with 2 hands & your 2 hands are not the parts that contact the player, cross checking. Lets eliminate hitting to hurt as well. Call far more boarding & charging penalties.

    I love physical hard hitting hockey if it’s an actual hockey play. We check/hit to eliminate the puck from the player, player from the puck or player from the play. That doesn’t mean the player has to be injured or so dazed they can’t complete the game. That’s not a hockey play.

    It’s never going to happen but good to have dreams.

    • This x 1000

    • No kidding. Very well written Striker.

      Regardless if someone hates Crosby or not…. Crosby out hurts hockey. Just like if Stamkos, Malkin, Ovechkin, Kane, any elite player being hurt, in turn hurts the NHL.

      These players are exciting to watch, even if we dislike them. Right now the amount of stick work going on is a joke. If they actually enforced these rules, a player wouldn’t have his stick up like that to begin with!!! He would have just had a hand up, knowing that if his stick was up and came in contact with his body it was a penalty for sure.

      The NHL came so close a few years ago eliminating these stick infractions. Now the amount of slashing, cross checking that is happening unpunished is a joke.

      As a result more and more players are realizing that’s what they need to do to win and its accepted again, so everyone’s doing it…..

      They might as well just burn a couple of NHL rule books at center ice before every game. As god knows whats going to get called or not called.