NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 18, 2018
Golden Knights stage historic sweep of the Kings, 2018 Vezina nominees revealed and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Vegas Golden Knights became the first NHL team to sweep a playoff series in its inaugural season by blanking the Los Angeles Kings 1-0 in Game 4 of their opening-round round. Former King Brayden McNabb scored the only goal while Marc-Andre Fleury made 31 saves for his second shutout of the series. The Golden Knights await the winner of the Anaheim Ducks-San Jose Sharks series, with the Sharks holding a 3-0 lead.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: An impressive series victory by the Golden Knights over the former two-time Stanley Cup champions. They’ve served notice that their regular-season performance was no fluke. Vegas is a dangerous postseason opponent.
The Washington Capitals picked up their first victory in their series the Columbus Blue Jackets with a 3-2 victory in double overtime of Game 3. Lars Eller was credited with the winning goal as his shot attempt banked in off Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski. Columbus holds a 2-1 series lead with Game 4 slated for Thursday night.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That was a must-win game for the Capitals. A loss would’ve put them into an almost insurmountable 3-0 series deficit. Washington goaltender Braden Holtby was solid in his first start in this series, turning aside 33 shots.
The Winnipeg Jets blanked the Minnesota Wild 2-0 to take a 3-1 lead in their opening-round series. Mark Scheifele scored both goals and Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck had a 30-save shutout effort. There was an ugly moment when Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey cross-checked Wild center Eric Staal in the head. Incredibly, no penalty was called on the play. Earlier in the day, the Wild learned winger Zach Parise is listed as week-to-week with a fractured sternum suffered in Game 3.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If it wasn’t for bad luck the Wild would have no luck at all. They were already without their best defenseman Ryan Suter (fractured ankle) entering this series. Losing Parise could be the final nail in their postseason coffin. The officiating in this game was horrible. How they missed that obvious penalty on Morrissey is beyond me. It doesn’t matter if the Jets blueliner intended to do it, it was a blatant and potentially dangerous infraction. No word if Morrissey will receive supplemental discipline.
TRIBLIVE.COM/CSNPHILLY.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins winger Patric Hornqvist will miss Game 4 tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers with an upper-body injury. Flyers center Sean Couturier is also questionable for that game after suffering an apparent leg injury during a collision with teammate Radko Gudas in practice yesterday. The Penguins lead the series two games to one.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightnings forwards Tyler Johnson (unspecified injury) and Ryan Callahan (shoulder) are questionable for Game 4 with the New Jersey Devils. The Bolts hold a 2-1 series lead.
NHL.COM: Connor Hellebuyck of the Winnipeg Jets, Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators and Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning are the finalists for the 2018 Vezina Trophy.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hellebuyck and Vasilevskiy led the league in wins (44) and Vasilevskiy was tied with Rinne most shutouts (eight). Of the three, Rinne (42 wins) had the best goals-against average (2.31) and save percentage (.927). He’s my pick for the Vezina.
CALGARY SUN: The Flames yesterday relieved head coach Glen Gulutzan and assistant coaches Dave Cameron and Paul Jerrad of their duties.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise there. The Flames were expected to significantly improve this season but instead faded down the stretch and missed the playoffs. Looks like general manager Brad Treliving will seek an experienced NHL bench boss to replace Gulutzan.
ARIZONA REPUBLIC: Coyotes forward Richard Panik was arrested April 8 outside a downtown Scottsdale nightclub and charged on suspicion of trespassing.
SNY: Sources say the New York Islanders “are in the process of identifying a top executive to join the Islanders’ hockey operations department.” Though Islanders general manager Garth Snow hasn’t been relieved of his duties, “it is believed that the new hire would become Islanders GM while Snow would remain President (or given a new title).”
MLIVE.COM: The Detroit Red Wings have parted ways with assistant coach John Torchetti.
NEW YORK POST: Legendary New York Rangers national anthem singer John Amirante passed away Tuesday at the age of 83. He was their full-time anthem singer from Nov 1990 to 2015, apparing sporadically in the role until Feb. 25 of this year.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Amirante’s family, friends and the Rangers organization.