NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 15, 2019
Blue Jackets and Islanders on the verge of sweeping their respective series, Golden Knights take a 2-1 series lead and the Jets get their first win in this year’s playoffs. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Columbus Blue Jackets are on the verge of winning their first-ever playoff series and eliminating the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning following a 3-1 victory in Game 3 of their opening-round contest. Sergei Bobrovsky made 30 saves while Cam Atkinson had a goal and an assist. The Lightning played without Nikita Kucherov (one-game suspension) and defenseman Victor Hedman (undisclosed injury).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It wouldn’t have mattered if Kucherov and Hedman were in the lineup. The LIghtning has been consistently outplayed in this series by a Blue Jackets team that’s gaining confidence with each period. While many of the Bolts have been part of this roster since 2015 and experienced playoff difficulties before, they never faced adversity throughout their record-tying 62-win regular season. They’ve forgotten how to deal with this type of determined, hardworking opponent that never backs down. You can see it in their growing frustration as this series goes along. They have no answers because they never had this problem during the regular season.
The New York Islanders are also poised to sweep their opening-round series as they defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1. Isles goalie Robin Lehner kicked out 25 shots while Jordan Eberle scored for the third straight game. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby has yet to tally a point in this series.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Speed was a significant weapon in the Penguins’ arsenal during their march to two straight Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017. However, most of their best players are now in their early-30s and seem to be struggling to keep pace with the fleet-footed Islanders, who hold a 3-0 series lead for the first time since the 1983 Stanley Cup Final. Eberle, who was traded by the Edmonton Oilers over concerns of his postseason scoring, has silenced his critics with his timely offense in this series.
Mark Stone’s hat trick powered the Vegas Golden Knights to a 6-3 win over the San Jose Sharks to take a 2-1 lead in their series. Paul Stastny also scored twice for the Golden Knights. Sharks center Joe Thornton could receive supplemental discipline for his headshot on Golden Knights winger Tomas Nosek. The Sharks also played without defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who suffered what appears to be a head injury in Game 2.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Slow starts and shaky goaltending plagued the Sharks throughout the regular season and were on display in this game. Stone, meanwhile, has been the Golden Knights’ best player in this series.
Kyle Connor tallied twice, Patrik Laine scored for the third straight game and Dustin Byfuglien had a goal and an assist as the Winnipeg Jets downed the St. Louis Blues 6-3. The Blues lead the series two games to one. Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo played in this game after receiving seven stitches to close a cut on his right wrist in Game 2.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets were getting plenty of scoring chances in the first two games of this series but were thwarted by Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington. Having finally broken through in Game 3, expect the Jets to keep up the pressure on the St. Louis rookie.
SPORTSNET: Toronto Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri will have an in-person hearing today with the NHL’s department of player discipline for cross-checking Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk in the head during Game 2 of their opening-round series.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: DeBrusk and teammate Torey Krug both traveled with the Bruins to Toronto for Games 3 and 4 of their series with the Leafs. No word if they’ll be skating in Game 3 tonight.
BOSTON HERALD: The Bruins blueline depth is being tested with Krug, Kevan Miller, John Moore, and Connor Clifton sidelined or banged up.
THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators provided no updates to the status of sidelined forwards Brian Boyle (illness) and Wayne Simmonds (knee).
THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche signed 2019 Hobey Baker Award winner Cale Makar to an entry-level contract. The young defenseman could make his NHL debut tonight in Game 3 of their opening-round series with the Calgary Flames.