NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 18, 2019
Avalanche push Flames to the brink of elimination, Bruins and Stars tie their respective series, Selke Trophy finalists revealed, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Colorado Avalanche pushed the Calgary Flames to the brink of elimination with a 3-2 overtime victory in Game 4 of their opening-round series. Mikko Rantanen scored the tying and winning goals for the Avalanche, who hold a commanding 3-1 series lead. Game 5 goes Friday in Calgary.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames took a 2-0 lead into their third but sloppy defensive play killed them. You can’t pin this loss on goaltender Mike Smith, who faced over 50 shots (52) for the second straight game. Smith faced the onslaught well but his teammates let him down.
The Flames leading scorers – Johnny Gaudreau (one point), Sean Monahan (two points) and Matthew Tkachuk (three points) – have been disappointing thus far. If they don’t start finding the back of the net soon, the Flames will be golfing after Friday.
David Pastrnak scored twice and Brad Marchand had a three-point night as the Boston Bruins held off the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-4 to square their opening-round series at two games apiece. Auston Matthews scored twice for the Leafs, who made it interesting in the third period with two goals to narrow the score to 5-4 before Joakim Nordstrom’s empty netter in the dying seconds.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy shook up his forward lines a bit in this one, shifting Pastrnak down to the second line for a while with David Krejci and moving Danton Heinen to the top line. The Bruins also put on a master class of how to play smart defensive hockey when an opponent pulls their goalie for an extra attacker late in the game. They didn’t panic by icing the puck or make “Hail Mary” attempts to score an empty netter, but smartly chipped the puck along the boards and into the neutral zone or skated it past center whenever they could and dumped it into the Leafs zone.
A four-goal first period powered the Dallas Stars to a 5-1 victory over the Nashville Predators to tie their series at two games apiece. Stars goalie Ben Bishop kicked out 34 shots, Roope Hintz tallied his first two playoff goals of his career and John Klingberg collected three assists.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a strong bounce-back effort by Bishop, who struggled a bit in Game 3 by giving up a couple of soft goals. He was outstanding in this contest. Credit also the Stars’ offensive pressure as they chased Predators starter Pekka Rinne after he gave up four goals on eight shots.
Bruins center Patrice Bergeron, St. Louis Blues center Ryan O’Reilly, and Vegas Golden Knights right wing Mark Stone are the finalists for the Frank J. Selke Trophy, which honors the NHL’s top defensive forward.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Can’t say I disagree with those choices. I’m happy to see Stone finally getting recognition for his two-way play.
O’Reilly is also among the 31 nominees for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy, awarded to the player “who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community.” Other nominees include Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel, Edmonton Oilers winger Leon Draisaitl, Montreal Canadiens center Max Domi and New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.
SPORTSNET: The Florida Panthers declined captain Aleksander Barkov’s invitation to play for Finland at the upcoming IIHF World Championships citing a need for Barkov to recover from the effects of a long NHL season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Odd to see a team decline a player’s invitation to participate in the Worlds. Barkov played for Finland in previous tournaments. It’s understandable if he needs to recuperate from injuries that he played through this season but usually it’s the player who declines the invite.
NBC SPORTS: The Washington Capitals will shake up their forward lines for Game 4 of their series tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes. “T.J. Oshie moves up to the top line to play with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom while Tom Wilson drops to the second line to play with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Jakub Vrana.”
The San Jose Sharks are sticking with struggling starting goalie Martin Jones in Game 5 tonight against the Vegas Golden Knights.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, Sharks coach Pete DeBoer has no confidence in backup Aaron Dell.
NEW YORK POST: Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello isn’t troubled by the league’s decision that his club will play the remainder of their playoff games at Barclays Center. He dismissed the notion that the change of venue from Nassau Coliseum will adversely affect his club’s performance. The Islanders are awaiting the winner of the Capitals-Hurricanes series.
ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes forward Brad Richardson is the inaugural winner of the Shane Doan Good Guy Award, voted on and present by the Arizona chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association.
STARTRIBUNE.COM: The Minnesota Wild hired Chris O’Hearn as their new director of hockey operations.