NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 26, 2018
Bruins eliminate Leafs, second-round playoff schedule revealed, Jack Adams Award nominees and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Boston Bruins tallied four unanswered goals in the third period to defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-4 in the seventh and deciding game of their opening-round series. Rookie winger Jake DeBrusk scored twice for Boston while teammate Patrice Bergeron had a three-point game. Leafs forward Patrick Marleau scored two goals in a losing cause. The Bruins will meet the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: After taking 2-0 and 3-1 series leads, Boston almost blew this one. Despite the Leafs obvious weaknesses (which I’ll get to in a moment), the Bruins’ inconsistent play saw them enter the third period of Game 7 down 4-3 before their four-goal outburst saved their season. Goalie Tuukka Rask was erratic, the defense was sloppy and their secondary scorers disappeared for long stretches. They must address these issues if they’re to succeed against the Tampa Bay Lighting in the second round.
Lots of Leafs fans are making defenseman Jake Gardiner the scapegoat for this defeat. He had a horrible game, on the ice for five of the Bruins’ seven goals. However, it’s unfair to pin this solely on him. This defeat was a team effort, starting with those two blowout losses to open this series. Goalie Frederik Andersen was hot and cold, forwards Auston Matthews and William Nylander were non-factors in many games and Nazem Kadri’s undisciplined play in Game 1 cost him a three-game suspension
Once again, the Leafs overall defense was their Achilles heel, finishing the opening round with the second-worst penalty kill and giving up the third-most shots-against per game. Until the Leafs address their defensive issues, they won’t become a Stanley Cup contender.
The full second-round schedule has been released.
Jared Bednar of the Colorado Avalanche, Bruce Cassidy of the Boston Bruins and Gerard Gallant of the Vegas Golden Knights are this year’s nominees for the Jack Adams Award.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bednar and Cassidy did a fine job with their respective clubs this season, but I believe Gallant deserves this award. He took an expansion roster and turned it into one of this season’s top teams.
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Penguins forwards Evgeni Malkin (lower-body injury) and Carl Hagelin (upper body) will miss Game 1 of their club’s second-round series against the Washington Capitals.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Despite suffering “a tear in his pelvic area, fractured ankle, pulled groin, busted mouth (twice) and the torn ligament in his thumb” during this season, Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds missed only seven games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the NHL had a “toughest player” award, Simmonds would win it this season. That litany of injuries also explains why he was struggling earlier in the season, which briefly gave rise to trade speculation. He still finished with a respectable 24 goals and 46 points.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens forward Andrew Shaw underwent surgery on his left knee Wednesday. His recovery period is expected to be six months.
COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski is believed to have suffered a shoulder injury in the first half of this season.
SPORTSNET: NHL Hall-of-Famer and former Colorado Avalanche coach Patrick Roy is expected to return to the QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts as coach and general manager. He previously held those roles (and was also a part-owner) from 2005 to 2013.
TWINCITIES.COM: Nashville Predators assistant general manager Paul Fenton is considered the front-runner for the Minnesota Wild GM position.