NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 3, 2017
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.