NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 9, 2017

by | May 9, 2017 | News, NHL | 12 comments

Washington Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky scores one of his two goals against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 6 of their second-round series.

Capitals force Game 7 against Penguins plus updates on John Tavares, Vladimir Tarasenko & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM:  Andre Burakovsky scored twice and Nicklas Backstrom tallied a goal and an assist as the Washington Capitals defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2 in Game 6 of their second-round series. The seventh and deciding game will be played on Wednesday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals dominated the Penguins in this game, breaking up Pittsburgh’s passing game and frustrating their best players. Some believe there’s been a momentum shift since Game 5 of this series, but I believe that shift occurred following captain Sidney Crosby’s concussion in Game 3. While the Penguins won Game 4 in Crosby’s absence, they were outplayed in that game and owed their victory to the goaltending of Marc-Andre Fleury. Crosby’s return in Game 5 hasn’t helped. Indeed, he hasn’t looked the same since his injury. His teammates look like they’ve lost the energy they had earlier in this series.

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby collected an assist for his 97th career NHL playoff point, surpassing Mario Lemieux as the club’s all-time playoff points leader. However, that was overshadowed by the loss and a scary incident in which Crosby crashed headfirst into the end boards during the first period. Crosby would continue playing but he and Penguins coach Mike Sullivan offered up conflicting replies post-game regarding concussion evaluation. Crosby said he was evaluated following the first period but Sullivan said he wasn’t. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s surprising the NHL’s concussion spotters didn’t ask to take a look at Crosby following that incident. The conflicting comments by the Penguins captain and Sullivan could raise more questions over how the club and the league evaluates their players for possible concussion symptoms. 

The Penguins also played without defenseman Trevor Daley, who missed Game 6 with a lower-body injury and is listed as day-to-day.

 EDMONTON SUN/ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Oilers fourth-liner and first-unit power-play shooter Mark Letestu has more points than superstar teammate Connor McDavid, sitting seventh among all scorers in this postseason. Meanwhile, Ducks forwards Patrick Eaves and Logan Shaw remain questionable for Game 7 tomorrow. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s largely due to Ducks center Ryan Kesler’s close checking of McDavid, but the Ducks seem to have no answer for Letestu, who’s really stepped up his game in his series. 

OTTAWA SUN/NEW YORK POST:  Long-time Senators enforcer Chris Neil hopes he’ll see some playing time in Game 6 of his club’s series tonight against the New York Rangers. Neil played just over two minutes in Game 5, but his presence provided a boost to his teammates. However, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault doubts Neil will have much impact if he plays in Game 6. 

NEWSDAY: New York Islanders captain John Tavares underwent surgery last month on his right hand but is expected to be ready for training camp in September. It’s also believed the Islanders are likely to offer Tavares, who’s eligible next July for unrestricted free agency, an eight-year contract extension worth $10 million annually. Meanwhile, sources claim Barclays Center has taken the preliminary step toward a potential opt-out of its 25-year lease with the Islanders. 

STLTODAY.COM: The coach of Russia’s national hockey team said St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko won’t be joining his club at the World Championships because he’s due to undergo surgery. However, there’s no confirmation about this from Tarasenko or Blues management. 

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs forward Frederik Gauthier underwent surgery for a lower-body injury and is expected to be sidelined for six months. 

COURIER POST’S Dave Isaac reports the Philadelphia Flyers there is interest in bringing back Dean Lombardi, the former general manager of the Los Angeles Kings. No word what his role could be. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flyers GM Ron Hextall worked with Lombardi as assistant GM with the Kings. I imagine Hextall wants to bring Lombardi in as his right-hand man. 

TSN: If the NHL Players Association opts out of the current CBA in 2019 and there isn’t a new CBA in place by 2020, there won’t be a World Cup of Hockey that fall. 

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports the Vegas Golden Knights will be able to sign an unprotected restricted free agent as though they’re their own player. No offer sheet required and no compensation for the team. 

BSN DENVER:  The Colorado Avalanche has parted ways with team doctor Andrew Parker and their medical staff. 

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Former Canadiens owner and president John David Molson passed away at age 88. He was president of the club from 1964 to 1972, during which the Habs won five Stanley Cups. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to the Canadiens organization and the Molson family. 



  1. Does Lebrun’s comment refer to Vegas being allowed to sign any RFA was was unprotected after the draft or before the draft?

    So for instance, if a team makes a trade so that Vegas won’t select a player, and then leaves them unprotected, is Vegas technically allowed to sign that RFA after the expansion draft during free agency?

    Or is Vegas allowed to make offers to expiring RFAs early, before the expansion draft. In which case they could take advantage of teams leaving multiple decent players exposed thinking, well we can only lose one, so vegas would then be able to sign the RFA and select the other?

    Just a bit confused as the wording is vague. Being able to sign an RFA as if they were your own player, without giving compensation to me seems like it must mean something more than being able to sign RFAs that are selected, as I would have assumed anyway that it would mean you would get that players rights.

  2. That makes more sense. So it’s basically allowing vegas a negotiating window ahead of the draft to see if a player who was not given protection would be willing to sign with Vegas, but it looks as if it would count as their selection. This likely doesn’t change a whole lot. UFAs who have not yet signed because they want to circumvent the selection process won’t likely change their minds just because Vegas came knocking. I was more thinking about the potential to get multiple assets from a team that exposes two decent players, by signing one as an RFA and selecting the other. There aren’t a lot of instances, but it would be a pretty dramatic wrinkle to throw into the process last minute.

  3. I am looking forward to a couple of game 7’s. I guess we will find out if Momentum really matters from one game to the next, because you have to imagine that if a team could be reeling after blowing an opportunity to close out a series, it has to be the Pens and Ducks.

    The Pens have been out shot, out chanced, and overall out played the entire series, but were up due to some timely scoring from it’s stars and Fleury playing some of the best hockey of his career. Now the Caps have come back, and kept looking more confident and dominant as things wore on. They look to have gotten to Fleury a little, and completely overwhelmed the Pens. The Pens are too good a team to count out, but if Momentum matters at all, you would have to imagine it bodes well for the Caps.

    The Ducks thought they had Edmonton down and out, instead they dominated to get to 7. The one thing the Ducks should consider is that Edmonton completely turned things around after what should have been a momentum sapping game 5, so the Ducks must do the same thing now.

    The final thing I will say, I am glad that Crosby is playing well and looking healthy. It makes the series more interesting, and more importantly, no matter what happens, it would just be a damper on the playoffs if he were out with a concussion. If the Caps won after knocking Crosby out of the series, it would feel like a shallow victory in some ways, if the Pens won without their Captain, while a nice story of team rallying without their best player, you would just prefer to see Crosby trying to lead his team to the first back to back championships in the post lockout era, as it would really just add some more cement to his already cemented legacy as the best player of this generation.

  4. Pens were starting to goon it up last night no pens fans talking about that today? If game 7 goes any thing like last night the pens will be out

    • If Washington plays the way they did last night, I am not sure that the Penguins are able to answer without spectacular games from all it’s stars including Fleury.

      Regardless of the outcome, this Caps team is constructed, and playing differently than in the past. They just keep coming, even when they aren’t getting the bounces, and they seem capable of holding it together. They had really outplayed the pens going into game 5, but were down in the series, and the 3rd period of what could have been the end of their playoffs, but they just kept playing their game just believing that they either needed to go out doing what made them great all year, or believing that what made them so good this year would reward them.

      In the past too many players started to try and do too much when things weren’t going their way.

      Anyway, game 7 should be entertaining.

  5. What’s the purpose of a concussion spotter, if he isn’t going to do his/her job. I’m wanting Pitts to advance but have no idea why Crosby wasn’t pulled for the 15 minute window and checked for concussion. This player just recently from a concussion and go head first into the board and is clearly shaken but is allow to continue.
    Doesn’t this just leave one to believe the higher the stakes, the less likelihood a player will be pulled from a game for concussion protocol. We all know any player is going to say he OK to continue and we know that’s all the coach wants to hear. Isn’t this why the spotter was put in place to take the decision out of the coach and player hand. I guess their there for the safety of the player as long as it isn’t late second round with a chance to advance. I’m guessing in the finals you’ll need to be carted off the ice.

    • In addition, What I don’t get is why Crosby is still taking shifts when the score is 5-0 with ten minutes to go.
      What is Sullivan seeing that makes him think they are erasing that deficit?

      • I have to agree with you. Why risk an injury?

        The Pens were playing no where near good enough to think they could make up that deficit. I think they had 12 shots on goal in 5on5 play overall, and they weren’t exactly carrying the play at any point in the 3rd to make them think that maybe their is a chink in the armor. I know they scored a couple late, but even after that Washington was able to push back and kill time in the Pens zone rather than let them build off that momentum.

        To win I think the Pens need to get to Holtby early, as Fleury outplaying Holtby is what has them in this series, so they need to introduce that doubt again to stand a chance.

      • That’s a fair point. Sully didn’t bother pulling the goalie, which, fine, whatever. But if you don’t think it’s worth pulling the goalie, why keep running Sid and Geno out there in the last 3-5 minutes?

    • Very true. They made MacArthur leave a game recently – and although the injury turned out to be nothing more than a pinched neck nerve, they still insisted he leave the game because of his concussion history. Someone isn’t doing their job and no matter what Crosby thought/said, he should have been made to follow the protocol IF they are serious about reducing concussion after-effects.

    • I think you really already know the answer. Any other player or team would not have gotten away with this.