NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 2, 2020

by | Aug 2, 2020 | News, NHL | 38 comments

Recaps of the opening games of the qualifying round and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


NHL.COM: Chicago Blackhawks winger Dominik Kubalik scored twice and collected three assists in a 6-4 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. Kubalik set a record for most points by a rookie in his first playoff game. Jonathan Toews also scored twice for the Hawks. Oilers forwards Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins each had a goal and two assists. Blackhawks forward Drake Caggiula will have a hearing on Sunday with the league’s department of player safety for an illegal hit to the head of Oilers winger Tyler Ennis.

Chicago Blackhawks winger Dominik Kubalik (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks feasted on the shaky play of Oilers goaltender Mike Smith and his teammates’ sloppy defensive play. Smith was replaced in the second period by Mikko Koskinen after giving up five goals on 23 shots. He could get the call for Game 2 on Monday.

The Montreal Canadiens upset the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 on an overtime goal by Jeff Petry. Canadiens’ goaltender Carey Price made 39 saves while rookies Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Nick Suzuki picked up their first NHL playoff goals. Sidney Crosby and Bryan Rust replied for the Penguins. Pittsburgh winger Conor Sheary and Montreal winger Jonathan Drouin failed to score on penalty-shot attempts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins also missed several good scoring opportunities. Nevertheless, Price did a fine job rising to the occasion for his overmatched teammates. If he wasn’t in the heads of the Penguins before this game, he is now.

A 4-1 victory by the Calgary Flames over the Winnipeg Jets was overshadowed by the departure of Jets center Mark Scheifele early in the game with an injured left leg following a collision with Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk. The Flames got power-play goals by Johnny Gaudreau and Mikael Backlund and a shorthanded tally by Tobias Rieder. The Jets also lost winger Patrik Laine to an apparent hand injury in the third period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jets coach Paul Maurice believes Tkachuk deliberately attempted to injure Schiefele, which the winger denied. There’s no question the loss of Scheifele affected his teammates, who seemed off-balance for most of the game. Maurice also indicated Scheifele and Laine will be examined by specialists, which suggests both could be sidelined for lengthy periods.

Sebastian Aho and Jaccob Slavin each had a goal and an assist as the Carolina Hurricanes edged the New York Rangers 3-2. Petr Mrazek picked up the win with a 24-save effort. Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist turned aside 34 shots while Mika Zibanejad also had a goal and an assist.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The score flattered the Rangers, who were dominated by the Hurricanes for most of this game. It would’ve been a more lopsided loss if not for Lundqvist, who got the call after Igor Shesterkin was a last-minute scratch. He’s listed as day-to-day. Rangers winger Jesper Fast left the game in the first period following a big hit by former teammate Brady Skjei.

Semyon Varlamov kicked out 27 shots while Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Anthony Beauvillier scored as the New York Islanders held on for a 2-1 win over the Florida Panthers. Sergei Bobrovsky turned aside 26 shots for the Panthers. Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk left the game in the second period following an illegal hit to the head from Panthers blueliner Mike Matheson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bobrovsky kept his teammates in this game but they couldn’t get the equalizer. No word on Boychuk’s status while Matheson only received a two-minute penalty.


THE SCORE: Prior to Saturday’s Oilers-Blackhawks game, Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba made a moving speech on behalf of the Hockey Diversity Alliance and took a knee during the American National Anthem, flanked by Blackhawks goalie Malcolm Subban and Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse. Dumba is among the co-founders of the Hockey Diversity Alliance to eradicate racism and intolerance in hockey.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask is questionable for today’s round-robin game against the Philadelphia Flyers. Coach Bruce Cassidy said Rask wasn’t feeling well and was unfit to participate in yesterday’s practice.

Bruins winger Ondrej Kase finally rejoined his teammates after missing all of the Phase 3 training camp. He isn’t expected to be in today’s lineup and it could be a few games before he returns to action.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cassidy’s remarks about Rask doesn’t sound as though his status is COVID-related.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals defenseman John Carlson returned to practice Saturday for the first time since leaving Wednesday’s exhibition game with an undisclosed ailment. It’s yet to be decided if he’ll play in tomorrow’s round-robin game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.


  1. I only got to see 3 of the five games fully. Caught the end of the Panthers/Isles game and was tired so only watched the first period of the Jets/Flames (taped) after Pens loss (watched live)

    Canes/Rangers was very exciting hockey. Love the high scoring Oil/Hawks game (not all on Smith BTW… several screen and multi-deflection/bounce goals. Panthers/Isles will be a tight series. Hope Scheiff OK but doesn’t look good.

    For the “big game” (for me)…. ended exactly how I feared…. spectacular goaltending by Price plus the nightmare from Indianapolis (NFI) played his horrific norm and caused (all by his lonesome) the loss for the Pens.

    Pens have lost 5 straight playoff games (yes I’m calling these playoff games) in the last 16 months. All 5 with opponents’ goalie playing lights out. When you are facing a fantastic goaltending show and your own goalie is doing fine (Murr did) and you are outshooting and out chancing…. all you have to do is play solid defensively and the offence will finally win it for you.

    Alas the NFI once again caused the loss. That’s 2 playoff games in the last 4 all on him. Minus 2 on night (if it weren’t for many many spectacular bail out saves by Murray; NFI could easily have been minus 5 on the night)

    Was the PP not up to par…. yes ( I’d take Zucker off PP1 BTW) but that was also a product of excellent play by Habs D coupled with spectacular saves by Price

    Throughout the game JJ did his normal brain dead stuff…. unforced icings (3) ; following Shultz into Shultz’s corner (leaving open man in front of Murr); brutal missed target breakout passes; failed cross ice blue-line passes and keeping puck in (both in the offensive zone) that stalled a Pens offensive onslaught several times; un-screened shots towards Price that completely miss the net…..

    But the costliest JJ moves (costing the game)… first goal …. of course he has to go out of position to the RHS boards; brutal poke check; swivels once puck is past him ; knocks over his own player (ZAR) then plows Habs player into Murr and net so that Murr has to deal with 200 lbs of flying player AND the puck. In OT he’s out of place and caught flat-footed ; allowing a breakaway ; and he holds the Hab on the breakaway causing a PS that could have ended it right there . A few minutes later; out of position; brutal poke check….. puck comes out …. tow drag and screened viewing … game over… Habs up 1-0 in series

    This is an easy fix…. all on Sully now. If he continues with NFI… high chance of golfing back home next week. Play the monumentally superior Riikola instead; and Pens highly highly likely to win series.

    After JJ’s absolutely horrific series of guffaws that lead to the first goal the air completely went out of his team-mates. The stares were noticeable . Sticks held tighter; Pens playing on edge; Habs invigorated and showing it. Before JJ’s brain dead moves causing that goal; Pens were in onslaught mode; completely dominating in shots and chances… if Pens had continued (and no frig up JJ causing the 0-1 goal ) they score first and maybe second and maybe third…. completely different game then coming from behind facing a super hot goalie

    Sully … wake up!! JJ out; Riikola in!!!!

    The only other changes I’d make…. Zucker off PP1; and give Rodrigues a game over Marleau in game 3 if Marleau continues to play weak


    Off to shop and then out for most of the day ; will check in later

    • Can’t believe I missed mentioning the spectacular 5 point performance by rookir Kubalik …. unbelievable ; and the brave and moving speech by Dumba (well done!)

      • While I agree jj did look very bad, after the first 10mins of the game the habs kept right up with the pens. This game is the reason prices peers vote him as the most feared to play against


        It’s a good thing the pens complained about a 2 out 3 and put the price rule of 3 out 5 in

      • Hi Big Bear

        Just back now and reading this

        JJ wasn’t just bad. He was his humiliatingly brutal.

        Habs were doing ok for a couple of shifts early, but then Pens were completely dominating; at one point I believe the shots were 9-2 ; shot attempts even a larger gap ; scoring chances differntials were also very very high.
        Price played extremely well throughout the game; and I really liked Suzuki’s game. Very very good.
        The “TSN turning point” so to speak….. JJ does his usual and causes a goal. Price was playing fantastic; but the full energy went completely out of the sails after JJ’s mistake. He doesn’t make that error (I wish) and Pens keep ploughing away. They would have eventually got it past price (and after they would have scored the first goal, more pressure from Pens). But, JJ did his thing and sucked the entire vim and vigour from the team for another 20 minutes of play. They didn’t get it back until ½ way through the second on Sid’s goal.
        To add insult to injury ; just after friggin NFI (Nightmare from Indianapolis) causes that first goal all by his lonsesome; I get a What’s App call… my cousin who now lives in Montreal and was always a Habs fan; had his twin 4 year old granddaughters call me… these cute little girls are in their Habs Jammies, singing “We want Jack, We want Jack” giggling and smiling
        Below please see a cut and pastes of just some of the texts I received during the game from friends of mine that are Habs fans (in some of them I’ve eliminated my real name so that I’m not letting everybody here know my real name). Others were not , shall we say, appropriate to post here

        “Heh ….. just wanted to thank you for having Jack Johnson playing. It was so nice of him to give us a goal. Is he on drugs? Seriously, is he?”

        “Please make sure Sullivan plays Jack more; we need another goal”

        “Yo >>>>> Jack Johnson is my hero. He’s winning us the game”

        “We’ll let you play with 6 skaters and a goalie for the entire game and series if you can guarantee that Jack boy plays the full 60 minutes. What a clown. People in Pittsburgh must be pulling their hair out. He’s got to be the worst player in the history of hockey PERIOD; not just the NHL”

        “Jack gives us two goals and we winnnnnnnn….. Nah Nah Nah Nah; Nah Nah Nah Nah; heh heh; good bye … Jack is the best. I’m buying him a beer; nah make it a 40 of Glenfiddich , he has outdone himself. Has his wife asked for a divorce?”

        “Price playing awesome. Johson even better. We must have him on payroll. Thanks for getting Rutherford hooked on heroin the night before he signed this wonderful bucket of love. He is just making my day. Merci Beaucoup from the absolute bottom of all of our hearts. La Belle Province is in debt to Rutherford for a long time”

        10 seconds after JJ’s buffoonery caused a penalty shot in OT…. “hugs and kisses from every habs fan, everywhere, current, past and present”

        Just after he “assisted” on the winning goal; I got a call… they were singing “For Jack’s a Jolly Good Fellow, for Jack’s a Jolly Good Fellow….”

        This is what I have to put up with . Not only does he gift goals to the opponents; and individually lose the game for the Pens; I have to live through his humiliation vicariously.

        Sullivan absolutely MUST sit him for the rest of time. He is just friggin God Awful.

    • Not a playoff game, it’s a play in game.

      • @Caper; the NHL is treating it very oddly. Apparently they are counting the goals / points as playoff points, so by that it is the playoffs according to the NHL. That said, the NHL.com playoff bracket isn’t open for selection until after the qualifiers.

        Guess the point I’m making is anyone can call it whatever they want and not really be wrong. Let him have it; call it the playoffs, you know you want to!

      • Hi Caper

        True officially

        But I’m calling it that. And the league is counting all stats… goals assists , shutouts etc.

        Technically every player that gets a point, increases his PPG in the playoffs (the divisor of number of games stays where it was at end of last year’s playoffs; but the numerator ; G’s A’s, Pts etc, climb)

        Weird though

    • What is NFI???? Johnson looked bad but let’s face it, Carey Price won this game for the Habs especially in the first ten minutes. The ice was tilted and the Pens threw the kitchen sink at him and he stopped everything. If you think Rikola is going to make a difference then you know less about hockey than I think you do.

      • Hi Ed,

        NFI — NIghtmare from Indianapolis (Jack Johnson).

        Price was an excellent player last night.

        I stand by my ascertion re Riikola over JJ.

        It’s not so much that he is a far better player, he is.

        It is just that taking out JJ from the game and the series, makes every single Pen player better. In 18/19 JJ individually cost Pens 11 game points; which would have put them in 2nd place in the entire league.

        He is that bad.

        Forget about Riikola.

        JJ out and Czuzman in. Pens play tremendously better and IMHO, win last nights game.

        JJ out and even P-O Joseph in; and the team plays better.

        With Johnson in the game; Pens play on pins and needles and then end up having to play from behind because he gifts a goal

        He had 3 unforced icings; blew break out paces; failed to keep the puck in; the list goes on and on.

        It is not just is very very costly mistakes that cause goals; it’s how he affects the play of others. Each of his D-mates has to cover more than their position and guy; as they have no idea where JJ is going to end up. He often goes into his D pairing’s corner while his D partner already has the guy with the puck; and JJ has left the open guy in front of the net.

        JJ is the penultimate difference maker.

        I responded to Big Bear with just a few texts that I received from friends of mine and relatives that are Habs fans. They absolutely love the fact that JJ is playing

        I am just a bitter Pens fan

    • Marleau has been finished for 2 years.

      • Hi W17H

        He certainly was finished last night. He could turn it around; but he certainly looked out of sync last night.

        Give Rodrigues the tilt in Game 3 if Marleau comes up dry again

  2. Price was good but he is not the only reason Montreal won I though Pittsburgh looked slow. I was surprised I thought the ice held up quite well heard it’s very cold inside those arenas. I personally am sick and tired of the crap before all sporting events I do not turn it on until the play begins. I watch sports to get away from all the craziness.

    • I agree Obe; thought that Montreal was definitely quicker to pucks and hungrier. Malkin looked off (by his normal high standard). Look for the Pens to come out quick in Game 2.

      Same thing happened to Edmonton; just flat-footed the whole night. I thought after their tune-up against the Flames they were coming to win, but Chicago just steamrolled them. I think 3 of 5 of the Chicago goals on Smith were more bad defence than goaltending.

      For the Flames – Jets (the big one for me) I will start with the Scheifele injury. I just don’t see any way that Tkachuk could have (even if he would have, which I don’t believe) purposefully caused the injury. He came in fast and Scheifele turned away from the hit, Chucky tried to change direction with him and came a bit off balance and they got awkwardly caught up. Awful to see and I hope Scheifele is back for G2.

      Good to see the Flames special teams run with it after a so-so year for the PP. Great puck movement against the poor Jets D and a whole lotta traffic in front of Hellebuyck to really make his life hard. If they keep doing that for the full series they may finally shake off the stigma of being a playoff one-and-done team.

      • Come out quick in Game 2? What do you think they did last night? Can’t come out any quicker than they did … Pens controlled the play for the first ten minutes of the game easily.

        I agree, I didn’t think Tkachuk injured Scheiffle on purpose … Paul Maurice is trying to work the officials and his own team for Game 2 …

      • @Ed, even if they were quick they were sloppy as hell and still got beat in most battles for the puck throughout (though I was admittedly 5 minutes late tuning into the 1st). So maybe I am using the wrong phrasing. Look for them to clean up their play in Game 2.

        I think too that Maurice is trying to get Tkachuk to second guess himself; plant a little bit of doubt while also (like you said) getting the refs to watch him a little closer. The bad thing for Peg is that they would be better off ‘ignoring’ Tkachuk (a la Colorado in G2 last year), because if you let him stir the pot then you’re playing his game.

      • Hi Obe and SCJ

        With Ed on this

        Pens were absolute gangbusters. Ploughing the play

        …. then alas the JJ story happens. The wind completely went out of their sails. …. and that goal energized the Habs. It didn’t balance back out until Sids goal.

        If Habs don’t get that first goal … IMHO, Pens keep pummeling until they score; that energizes them more; and then plough ahead more

    • Obe the ostrich!

      I think my kids have a book with that character in it.

      • That’s hilarious! Where do you come up with this stuff?

        Thanks for the contribution!

      • You are very welcome. Stay tuned folks. More to come!

  3. It was a beautiful day in Manitoba, spent the whole day outside.

    Didn’t watch any hockey or highlights; therefore I didn’t see the Tkachuk skate incident.

    Seem Jets fans are the only ones saying it was deliberate.

  4. I didn’t think the Habs looked faster than the Pens. I thought the Pens pushed the play up ice by flying the zone and trying to catch the Habs’ D flat footed, which is about three short of a strong corps. The Habs’ “Big 3” played 30 minutes plus and that is not sustainable.

    Let us enjoy this one, Habs fans. Without Price (and with a Malkin who fanned on a lot of scoring chanes) this would have been a loss.

    One good outcome is that maybe our good friend Roger will pause before posting another of his monotonous, repetitive grinds about Price’s save percentage on shots from behind the sink, shots from the rafters, shots from the stratosphere.

    • Hi LJ

      You have no worries of winning the series if Sullivan continues to play JJ 17 minutes a game.

      If he sits him; Pens have a very fair shot of wining 3 of the next 4. If Sullivan comes back with JJ and continues playing him the insane 17 + minutes… With Price playing like he did last night and having JJ play 17+ mins/game…Habs will win the series IMHO

  5. I was entertained without being overwhelmed by the distractions.
    It isn’t perfect, but it is a great effort by the NHL, teams and players.

    Good job, Gary Bettman.
    Good job, NHLPA.
    Good job, Chrisms.

  6. As predicted the NHL is well on their way to embarrassing their brand further with 2 12th place teams who had no chance of making playoffs had pandemic not hit, poised to knock off sure fire playoff teams. It was such an easy fix to just seed on season winning percentage but the NHL had to bastardized the process heavily favoring top 8 teams and teams out of playoffs at pause at expense of the middle teams like Pitt and Edm through to Leafs. Cup should have asterisk for all but the 9 -16 teams by winning percentage.

    • Its called parity.

      • AKA playoff hockey.

    • If Edmonton or Pittsburgh lose to the Blackhawks or Montreal it does nothing but show how even the league can be and the only people who should be embarrassed are the players on the losing team. Competition is great for the league and I love not seeing the 12th place teams blown out.

      • Hi SCJ,

        Embarrassed players last night are limited to those wearing #3 on the Black and Gold.

      • Hey Pengy,

        JJ is likely largely responsible for my opinion that the Pens were sloppy. The fancy stats for the overall team certainly don’t support my opinion but I still felt they had a lot of trouble finishing.

        Hopefully SS watches enough game tape to keep JJ out; or better yet, Rutherford terminates his contract so you can sleep soundly going into the next game!

      • Hi SCJ

        A buyout of JJ’s contract ? Be still my heart .

        Who is SS?

      • SS was short for Steve Sullivan, which I realized after was me mistaking the names for the former Pred’s player with the Pens coach Mike Sullivan.

  7. No one can say the refs put their whistles away in the Rangers Hurricanes game. The way it was called reminded me of an October game.

    • What it says is no one should watch the meaningless regular season of a joke league.

      • It seem to pay a lot of attention to joke?

      • He’s just prepping for a loss to the Jackets.
        He’ll be singing a different tune if the Leafs win that series, and make it into the playoff tournament.

      • But … but … isn’t that’s where many of high-priced “stars” fatten up their statistics which lead to multi-million dollar long-term contracts?? Especially in October to mid-December!

      • Bazinga ShoreOrrpark

      • Regular Season should be cut down significantly. Make the games more difficult important. At most a home and home with all teams. That would cut 20 games out. I’d love to see it even less. What makes nfl regular season so fun to watch is how important each game is. Now I’m not saying nhl should be at 16 games… but much shorter than 82 would be great.