NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 23, 2021

by | Jun 23, 2021 | News, NHL | 42 comments

The Canadiens take a 3-2 series lead over the Golden Knights, Lou Lamoriello is the GM of the Year, Mathew Barzal fined, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines

NHL.COM: The Montreal Canadiens are one win away from advancing to the 2021 Stanley Cup Final after beating the Vegas Golden Knights 4-1 in Game 5 of their semifinal series. Nick Suzuki had a goal and two assists, Tyler Toffoli collected two helpers and Carey Price turned aside 26 shots for the win. Max Pacioretty tallied Vegas’ only goal. The Canadiens lead the series three games to two and can put it away Thursday in Game 6 on home ice.

Montreal Canadiens center Nick Suzuki (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some fans on social media took to blaming Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury for this loss. They also questioned head coach Peter DeBoer going with Fleury after Robin Lehner played well in Game 4. The problem, however, doesn’t lie with Fleury but with their offense.

Once again, the Canadiens did a fine job shutting down Vegas’ leading scorers. Pacioretty is the only member of the Golden Knights’ top-six forwards to score a goal against the Habs, while team captain Mark Stone is facing some criticism in the local media for failing to step up in this series.

The Golden Knights may be down but they proved in Game 4 they can battle back. However, they no longer have any margin of error. The Canadiens are playing like a team that believes it can win. Price’s goaltending and their defensive play have made the difference so far. If the Golden Knights don’t figure out a way to beat the Habs’ system on Thursday, they’ll be heading to the golf course by this weekend.

For the second straight year, New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello is the winner of the Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year Award.

NEWSDAY: Islanders center Mathew Barzal received a $5,000 fine by the NHL department of player safety for his cross-check of Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Jan Rutta in Game 5 of their semifinal series.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning may have routed the Islanders in Game 5 to take a 3-2 series lead but they aren’t taking their opponent for granted heading into Game 6 tonight on Long Island.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Isles caught a big break when Barzal didn’t receive a suspension for that cross-check on Rutta. It would’ve been a blow to their chances of winning Game 6 to lose their top center.

VANCOUVER SUN: Henrik and Daniel Sedin are returning to the Canucks, this time as special advisors to general manager Jim Benning.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’ll have to wait and see if the Sedins will have significant input into management decisions or if this is just window-dressing.

SPORTSNET: Referee Wes McCauley is not expected to work any remaining games in the semifinal. His last assignment was as a standby referee in Game 1 of the Lightning-Islanders series. He’s not believed to be injured and there is a possibility he’ll work a Stanley Cup Final game. Considered the consensus “best referee in the NHL,” his absence comes as the league faces growing criticism over the quality of officiating in this postseason, particularly in several semifinal games.

STLTODAY.COM: The St. Louis medical examiner determined that Blues alumni Bob Plager died of a cardiac event prior to his SUV crashed in March. Plager spent 11 seasons with the Blues as a player and spent years with the organization following his playing career. He was 78 years old.

WGR 550: Former Buffalo Sabres star Rene Robert passed away yesterday after suffering a heart attack last week in Florida. He was 72 years old.

Robert spent 12 seasons with the Sabres, Toronto Maple Leafs, Pittsburgh Penguins and Colorado Rockies from 1970-71 to 1981-82. His best seasons were with the Sabres (’71-’72 to ’78-’79) with Gilbert Perreault and Richard Martin on the fabled French Connection Line. He tallied 284 goals and 702 points in 744 career games, as well as 41 points in 50 playoff contests.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Robert’s family, friends, former teammates and the Sabres organization.


  1. Wow… IMO, both Bergevin and Zito were more deserving than Lou. Isles are in same position as last year. They’ll probably lose again. They don’t have their 1st or 2nd round picks this year. Their big additions, Zajac and Palmieri, are both ufa at seasons end. Montreal had best off season moves and it’s showing in playoffs. I’m not at all a Habs fan, but Bergevin should’ve won this.

    • Agree. all Lou did this season is call his old team for some UFAs at the TDL.
      Berg and Zito made multiple positive deals for their teams

      • No, what Lou really did is not move out any of the players Snow drafted. This is, to a point, Snow’s team and his picks coming into play for Lou’s success.

    • Agree on Zito of the 3.
      I think this is voted on before the playoffs start isn’t it?
      Didn’t see many folks singing MTL’s praises then.

      • Yeah, it is voted on the basis of the regular season.

        Why, I wonder, is the vote not conducted after the Cup to give a full perspective of the GM’s work? I don’t want to take anything away from Lamorillo (whose team has done well in the playoffs so the result might not change) or Zito but I’m amazed Bergevin got any votes the way the season ended.

        Does he seem to be an also ran now?

      • Wouldn’t it almost automatically then go to the gm who built/guided their team to the cup? They objectively did the best.

      • I didn’t know they voted after RD 2. Now it makes more sense.
        Do they usually vote then or is this a short season Covid thing?
        Agree with LJ and Chrisms, if it is every teams goal to win the cup, they should vote after the playoffs.
        Or call it the most improved team award which is more like the nice try award.

      • Chrisms, no it would not automatically go to the team that won the Cup. They already have an award for the team that wins it.

        Surely it is obvious that a GM who is lucky enough to stand pat and have a team win a Cup with minimal changes cannot be said to have improved his team the most.

        The award should be to the GM who makes the most meaningful improvement to the team. As it is now, the playoffs don’t count. If anyone things they shouldn’t be factored in, please explain why not.

      • You use a lot of surely obvious statements. I would argue that the cup winning gm who knew enough to stand pat knew his team better than the others AND kept assets.

      • Good for you, Chrisms.

      • I’m it is isn’t it.

      • It goes off the first 2 rounds of the playoffs this year because it was a shortened season and if you listen to anything Brendan kelly says I can’t help you! Lol

      • An article written by Brendan Kelly???

        A guy who pumps out “articles” weekly for years calling for the firing of Bergevin and still complains about the Subban/Weber trade and spent the last few years bemoaning Carey Price remaining the Habs goalie.

        His opinion and keep in mind it is just an opinion is trolling as click-bait.

        GMs and a panel of league executives and media types voted for the three nominees based on the regular season. Full stop.

      • Well my bad, then. MB deserves the award for his stellar job as GM, indicated by the team record and play during the regular season. I can’t think of anyone who was more deserving or did a better job…

      • TheFlyingV,

        We all have opinions and this is a subjective award.

        I was frequently castigated here for my take on the Habs this year and how Bergevin filled the holes on the team in the off season.

        I was consistent in stating that he built a playoff team not a skills competition team.

        Clearly the GM’s and league executives saw it the same way.

        I have zero problem/issue with you seeing it differently and you don’t owe anybody an explanation.

        My issue is Brendan Kelly

      • Flying V, don’t want to dog pile on you, but Brendan Kelly is a guy who went from reviewing hot dog stands and fringe festival plays to somehow being assigned a sports column.

        The Gazette went into a cost cutting mode and got rid of good sports writers like Dave Stubbs (who did terrific columns) and Mike Boone.

        Kelly has so little to offer that his schtick is to write negatively about everything, as it is easier to find fault than to actually think. Sorry if you feel picked on for referring to him but it is such a shame Kelly gets to write about sports while good sportswriters were put out to pasture in the name of $$.

      • I really don’t care about the author but how did anything that happened with the habs in the regular season, what this award is for, put MB in the running for this award?

        Don’t get me wrong, I for one am cheering them on. I think this team is making an excellent run and the pieces are now paying off but there is almost nothing from their regular season play and record that should put MB in the running, let alone the top 3.

        My point is that there definitely is some bias in the voting because of the shortened season and the fact that the playoffs were underway and now the pieces are falling together they are proving to be good moves.

        I fail to see how their regular season record and performance justifies it at all.

        No one is giving reasons why he would be a top 3 candidate based on the regular season alone as compared to other more deserving GM’s.

        Hating the author is not a reason…it is a deflection.

      • My point is, Flying V, few people read Kelly and even less give a rats ass about what he says. I am in the latter category. My friendly advice is that you make your own argument without referencing someone with so little credibility. It doesn’t help your cause.

      • TheFlyingV

        “No one is giving reasons why he would be a top 3 candidate based on the regular season alone”

        Carey Price was injured and played only 25 games, an off season signing , Allen played 29 and if not for him, who knows.

        Ben Chiarot was injured for a good part of the year, fortunately another off season signing, Edmundson, stepped right in.

        Two off season signings, Toffoli and Anderson led the team in goals scored.

        The team started off the season showing all the elements like in the playoffs, unbeaten, power play, and penalty kill humming.

        Felt a need for a coaching change and pulled the trigger quickly.

        The team limped into the playoffs on account of a condensed season shrunk even more with covid, playing every second night for almost half the season.

        Weber, Gallagher, Danault, Armia sat out extended periods in the last ten games.

        In sum, the depth signings of, Toffoli, Anderson, Allen, Edmundson, Perry, Romanov and the late additions of Staal, Merrill, Gustafsson, Caufield, completely transformed the Habs from the previous season.

        Additionally Bergevin reorganized the AHL affiliate, stocked it with draft picks being developed and has 11 draft picks this year.

        The transformation was dramatic enough for other GM’s and the panel to recognize.

        As far as the vote and awarding NHL.com states:

        Voting: NHL general managers and a panel of League executives, print and broadcast media vote for the Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year Award at the conclusion of the Second Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with the top three vote-getters designated as finalists.

        IF there is a bias as you feel, it has always been there.

  2. I had to drop my car off for a wallet job this morning My mechanic is a HUGE habs fan I have never seen a happier guy on the face of the earth. I thought lastnight was the end of Montreal but Price ( wish he was on the bruins) is going to take that series.

    • In Price’s previous ten years, he has had only one 8 win playoff run. Currently he is 41-41, .920, 2.35 in 83 career playoff starts. No Stanley Cup appearances.This is his 2nd Conf. Final.
      Tuukka on the other hand is 57-48, .925, 2.22 in 104 playoff starts. Two Finals.

      • No offense but if price was on those defensive bruins teams he would have better stats than rask,

      • @ Big Bear
        I understand your point, but in truth is ifs, buts and maybes can’t be known. It’s subjective speculation. But essentially the reply was to Rick who continually says Tuukka doesn’t deserve the net because he can’t win the big game.

  3. NHLexecutives have apparently chosen to act.

    According to Pierre LeBrun, Kelly Sutherland and Eric Furlatt who were the referees for Game 5 last night in Vegas, will be travelling back to Montreal when the two teams return for Game 6.

    They set the tone early with a penalty to Byron for crosschecking and held the line the rest of the game.

  4. It’s not just the offense that cost the Knights. Giveaways and poor defensive coverage on all of the Habs goals.

    • Fully agree Howard

      Congrats to Habs for win; they played a very good road game

      Knights played awful; in all aspects of the game

      This is not at all on The Flower… Holden completely responsible for one; and the Captain brutally tries a 1 on three on the PK that turns over puck and gives Habs an easy goal

      Knights flubbed (giving and receiving) pass after pass after pass; and were out of place often

      One word for Knights last night…. discombobulated

      Habs have a great shot at getting to the cup; but should not expect an easy ride…. I expect some serious film room meetings for Knights

      I’m thinking winner of game 6 ; goes to cup; obviously Habs if they win; but if Knights win 6; I think they also win Game 7

  5. Bergy is GM of the year, they can hand it to anyone they want to, real fans know …

    where will Ryan Reaves end up next year? He has clearly fallen out of favor with DeBoer … Vegas isn’t using the body enough which in turn spurs their transition game … but Carey Price is on top of his game at the exact time the Habs need him …

  6. The only reason the habs are at this point is Price.

    • Hmmmm … there are 4 guys on D, two old guys, and three young guys that have made a contribution. Just a smidge. Just a tiny one.

      • I agree LJ, the Habs defense have done an amazing job off limiting the high danger chances and Carey Price has played great. It looks like he is in the Knights heads.

  7. Neither Fleury or Stone are the problem, DeBoer knows it and he has been pulling at all the strings he has to solve it.

    VGK have lost their swagger and intimidation to a Habs team that has bought all in and believes they can win.

    VGK appear to be a demoralised team that is looking to the refs for help, kind of like when fighters lose their “invincibility” and they get beaten by a number of others.

    If they lose in 6, it may impact their next season…..but the series is far from over.

    That Cole Caufield looks pretty good eh.

    • aside from all the other good points made by other posters the one thing that has become very evident to me is that Vegas is underachieving at center and all 4 Habs centers are contributing.
      I also think that as much as Price deserves credit , Montreal’s top4 D are getting it done, not to mention Petry and Weber are banged up. Don’t be surprised to hear they both undergo surgery after the playoffs to repair hand injuries.

  8. These are great playoffs so far all considering. Does anyone know if there’s been a team who’s been the underdog for three rounds and if they win, I’ll bet they’ll be underdogs again making it 4?
    Vegas is doing its best to choke and if the Habs win the Cinderella story continues giving all hope for our team to be next years team. Plus a great shut it down team vs a let’s burn it down team for a final sits well with me.

    • The 2006 Carolina Hurricanes?

      • 2012 kings too

      • The amazing thing about the 2012 kings is they finished 8th and then smoked the field in the playoffs.

      • Ray: I’ve had the Cup ring on my finger from 2012. And the one from 2014 – which is the size of a chandelier.

    • Minnesota North Stars 1991

  9. Everyone quickly proclaimed DeBoer made the right move by starting Lehner in game 4. After last night’s loss, I now wonder about unintended consequences . MAF has had an incredible run. I’m sure no one feels worse than him after his late game gaffe. Benching him seemed like an over-reaction. I wonder how the team is mentally now. Is MAF’s confidence shaken and how comfortable will the team feel with him between the pipes?

    • I get why they went with Lehner if MAF seemed rattled after the miscue. Don’t want rattled in net.
      But after Lehner played well and you win, not sure how you switch from a winning lineup.
      Isn’t that a unspoken rule, never change a winning lineup?
      Once you make the change and win, stick with til you lose IMO.

    • Most analysts that I heard questioned the move by DeBoer in the first place even after the win.

      The consensus I heard is that it was gamesmanship by DeBoer, trying to throw the Habs off.

      What is known is that DeBoer has been making changes to his lines and lineup trying to get the offence, powerplay and the penalty killing going to no avail.

      You shouldn’t be pulling your Vezina finalist goalie to “shake up” up your team.