NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 18, 2019

by | Apr 18, 2019 | News, NHL | 17 comments

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. 

Mikko Rantanen’s two goals lifted the Colorado Avalanche to a 3-2 overtime victory over the Calgary Flames in Game 4 of their opening-round series (Photo via NHL Images)

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. 


  1. Well you can’t dive as much in the playoffs to draw penalties, so Johnny Soccer is searching for a new game.

  2. Re Barkov …”usually it’s the player who declines the invite …” since when has Florida ever done anything the normal way? And they call Ottawa dysfunctional!

    • I’m pretty sure barkov didn’t feel well enough to play and Florida did him a solid by being the bad guy. Now his fellows at home can blame them instead of barkov.

      • Considering the weird moves made over the years by Florida management, I’ll put it down as you being charitable

      • We don’t know why Florida did it, but I gotta agree with Chrisms on this one.
        Methinks Barkov didn’t want to be the one to say no.

      • I doubt you’ll find anyone pick or think Ottawa as a “not as bad as” team because when you remove your rose colored glasses, you’ll see no one has it worse right now.

      • I was being facetious Ron Moore – but, as usual, you feel the need to criticize the Senators, Hardly surprising considering the source. Tell me, do you EVER contribute anything substantive to these threads?

      • Strange by Florida but your explanation, Chrisms , if right , does have logic

  3. Well the Bruins got away with one last night. Still not playing their game and Debrusk hasn’t thrown a hit, leave me to believe he must be playing with an injury.
    Toronto 4th line is killing Boston 4th line, they we able to change or keep the momentum going every time they were on the ice. I know a team shouldn’t miss a 4th line player much but Boston is certainly missing Sean Kuraly.
    Hoping for a more entertaining game 5 on Friday. Talk about entertaining the Calgary Colorado game last night was a blur, up and down the ice, Smith almost stole the game for Calgary but with a late power play goal on what I would call a questionable call, given everything that wasn’t called up to that point.
    Let them play they say, don’t want the refs to impact the game. If you’re not going to make the call then aren’t you impacting the game? Letting things go is one thing but then a call is made, that hasn’t been called all game, must be real confusing and frustrating for the players. Seen a lot of this thru out the playoffs so far.

    • I thought the Bruins played good early Caper, then some questionable penalties changed momentum. They scored a couple quick ones to take it back and then went into the dreaded shell, which never flippin works. A little lucky on the Chara goal which turned out to be huge. Ya so fortunate overall.
      agree on 4th line and Kuraly. Big upgrade. Rumor is he is ready. Coaches hardly ever breakup a lineup after a win though.
      I would.

      • The Bruins normally have a good fourth line. The problem is the absence of Sean Kuraly. If Kuraly returns, the problem is solved.

    • Hi Caper

      I disagree; I wouldn’t say “they got away with one”

      They won ; it was close later in the third but Bruins ; looking at the game overall ; I think they deserved the win

      Tommorrow night’s game will be exciting

  4. Just happy for Grubauer. Got a chance to be the Avs starter and I think he played very well so far.
    I’m also surprised that Smith returned to form. Didn’t expect that after the regular season. Could have been much uglier for the Flames without Smith in net.

  5. Why does the league get to decide where the Islanders play?

    • I don’t know.
      I’ll look.

    • Higher revenues at the basketball arena in Brooklyn than at the old beautiful barn.
      More people means more playoff dollars.