NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 6, 2021

by | Jul 6, 2021 | News, NHL | 34 comments

The Canadiens avoid being swept from the Stanley Cup Final, Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks dies in a fireworks accident, Wild re-sign Nick Bjugstad and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Montreal Canadiens staved off elimination from the Stanley Cup Final with a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 4 on Monday night.

Montreal Canadiens winger Josh Anderson (NHL Images).

Josh Anderson opened the scoring in the first period and tallied the game-winner in overtime. Alexander Romanov scored his first of the playoffs for the Canadiens while Carey Price made 32 saves for the win. Barclay Goodrow and Pat Maroon replied for the Lightning.

The series returns to Tampa Bay for Game 5 on Wednesday night with the Lightning holding a 3-1 lead.

TSN: The Canadiens made some lineup changes for Game 4. Jesperi Kotkaniemi was replaced by Jake Evans as their third-line center while Romanov and Brett Kulak replaced Erik Gustafsson and Jon Merrill on their third defense pairing. Anderson moved to the Canadiens’ second line alongside Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield.

Lightning winger Alex Killorn missed his third straight game of this series. He remains day-to-day with a leg injury suffered in Game 1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning controlled most of the play in this game. Head coach Jon Cooper lamented several near misses for his club, including several shots clanging off the goalposts.

That doesn’t detract from what was a big win by the Canadiens. Price and his penalty killers were outstanding as they shut down five Lightning power-play opportunities, including a double-minor on Habs captain Shea Weber that stretched from late in the third period into the early minutes of overtime. Price was particularly strong during the opening minutes of the game, shutting down the Lightning as they pushed to open the scoring.

NHL.COM: Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks died on July 4 at age 24. It was initially reported that he suffered an apparent head injury during a fall, but an initial autopsy revealed he suffered a percussive injury from a fireworks explosion that led to major damage to his heart and lungs.

The incident took place at the Novi, Michigan home of former Detroit Red Wings goalie Manny Legace. Kivlenieks’ death is being investigated as accidental and no charges are under consideration at this time.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets fans gathered at a popular bar near NationWide Arena to mourn Kivlenieks’ passing. It included an 80-second moment of silence in honor of the netminder, who wore No. 80 with the Jackets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My sincere condolences to Kivlenieks’ family, friends, teammates and the Jackets organization and fans. This was a tragic ending to a young life and career that held so much promise.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild signed Nick Bjugstad to a one-year, $900K contract. The 28-year-old center was slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28. He excelled in a depth role with the Wild this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bjugstad’s taking a big pay cut to stay in Minnesota. Cap Friendly indicates he was coming off a six-year deal worth an annual average value of $4.1 million. That reflects how much his role has changed since signing that deal with the Florida Panthers in 2014.

The signing puts only a slight dent into the Wild’s projected salary-cap space for next season. They have over $15.9 million remaining with restricted free agent stars Kirill Kaprizov and Kevin Fiala to re-sign.

NHL.COM: Swedish prospect forward William Eklund received the E.J. McGuire Award of Excellence. The award, presented by NHL Central Scouting, goes to the candidate who best displays a commitment to excellence through strength of character, competitiveness and athleticism. Previous winners include Philadelphia Flyers forward Travis Konecny and New Jersey Devils center Nico Hischier.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eklund overcame an emergency appendectomy and a positive COVID-19 test to become this year’s top European skater as ranked by NHL Central Scouting. He’s projected to go in the top five of this year’s NHL Draft.

THE BOSTON GLOBE: The AHL’s Providence Bruins will be seeking a new head coach as Jay Leach has joined the NHL’s Seattle Kraken as an assistant coach.


  1. Well, the Mayor of TB got her wish. Now she better not hope it blows up in fer face.

    • Bad choice of words on this if all mornings George

      • My choice of words was simply based on a longtime catch-phrase used for at least 100 years which seemed to fit that situation. I hadn’t even read that story yet about the poor kid and the fireworks incident.

        However, if we’re going to avoid use of such phrases due to some unrelated incident happening somewhere in the world almost continuously we may as well forget them all – such as “they’ll bury them” in relation to one team’s assured defeat of another in light of what’s happening at residential school locations.

        Did I realize the unfortunate connection? Of course – AFTER I posted it. I didn’t need your pious comment to point it out.

      • Extra crotchety on this beautiful Tuesday eh George?

      • Not at all – just read your post again – how else am I supposed to take it except an accusation that I did it deliberately, knowing about the incident. I’m sure – in retrospect – you didn’t mean it that way, but after I read THAT story I felt like crap but it was too late to take it back. I sure didn’t need a reminder.

      • I meant as a

        (Sucks his teeth, oof)

        Type of statement.
        Maybe even a bit of dark humor.

        No shaming or piousness intended.

  2. First of all, my prayers and deepest sympathies go out to the Kivlenieks family. Tragic. Horrific.

    Re Habs… your middle name is “Resilient”

    Not sure of the complete comeback for a cup…. but last night they were resilient

    Great game by all Habs but especially Anderson and Suzuki

    I guess McD will be talking to himself (or writing on the chalkboard 100 times)…” when I come back hard; I don’t skate past the player I’m to cover, and go beyond my own goal line, and casually watch as he plays the puck”. McD had played a great game… that was a brain fart; I don’t see it happening again

    Gut feeling… Bolts wake up and close it out next game…. but then again…I didn’t foresee Habs beating Knights…. so anything is possible

    • Sadly, it wasn’t that long ago the type of firework involved in the incident was illegal here in Michigan. We had fairly restrictive laws regarding what type the public could buy. Hopefully this will push us to return to those restrictions.

  3. Now hockey is second after that tragic event but I can’t help but feel like Columbus is cursed right now. It’s such a nice hockey town.

  4. I was surprised Cooper mentioned hitting the posts as one reason for losing, as if the Habs didn’t hit posts and crossbar too.

    That 4 minute penalty that TBL failed to score on might be an aberration or possibly a turning point and cause for Cooper’s unusual comment.

    Funny how haters complain that Price is the only reason Habs are in the SCF and gloat that he isn’t up to snuff now, yet he came up big last night.

    The game is played on the ice and we are watching a series between an exceptional TBL team and an extremely resilient Habs team.

    There is clearly a perception that this series is over, were the TBL complacent or is the team getting worn down by the Habs?

    A quick whistle on a loose puck saved TBL going down 2-0 in the first period. Frustration showed as Vasilevskiy punched Perry in the face with his glove.

    Coming back from a 3-1 deficit is hard and unlikely but this bunch has done it.

    • Habfan30, the habs deserved their victory, played a heavy game and the hits didn’t stop coming.

      I thought the blocker to Perry face was justified and didn’t find Val getting frustrated but more of sending Perry a message if you want to keep bumping me, then i’m going to smack you in your stitched up nose.

      Wondering is Tampa wearing down, personally i don’t see any indication of that.

      I was glad Tampa didn’t score on Weber 4 minute minor; would’ve been a sad way to end the series for Weber who has played very well.

      The question for me going into game 5 is can Montreal keep it up? Can they keep hitting and forcing the play? Will Anderson be as impactful as he was last night; he shown to be inconsistent but if he continue to drive the net and use his speed he will make things happen.

      Lastly i expect Vasilevskiy to be much better in game 5

      Yes the habs came back from 3-1 but can they come back from 3-0

      • Kudos to Montreal for the resiliency and great games by Anderson and Suzuki.

        That said, what a tank job by Tampa Bay on the power-play that bled three minutes into the overtime session. They looked more like they were killing the penalty than on a PP. I watchthis team every night and I have no words for what I witnessed there. Did they not want to embarrass Weber? Did they not want to win the series on an unintentional act by Shea? Did they just want to come home and win it in front of the fans? I will let any of you fill in the blanks.

        Yes I will be there for game five Wednesday night assuming we can get to the arena in the storm. But part of the joy of any pending cup celebration in my mind as a true hockey fan is diminished by the Bolts tanking that power-play. There I said it

      • Caper,
        “I thought the blocker to Perry face was justified and didn’t find Val getting frustrated but more of sending Perry a message”

        I find that a measure of frustration, considering the referee was right there and:

        51.3 Match Penalty – If, in the judgment of the Referee, a goalkeeper uses his blocking glove to punch an opponent in the head or face in an attempt to or to deliberately injure an opponent, a match penalty must be assessed.

        The TBL players being disorganized on much of the 4 min powerplay, being late on the back check and the flyby on Caufield are indicators of being worn down or complacent.

        The Habs have been concentrating on hitting and have been getting more impactful as the series wears on.

        The Habs are a team that scores by committee, if Anderson doesn’t score it may be Toffoli, Caufield, Petry whomever.

        As for Vasilevskiy, he has let in a few bad goals in both game 3 and 4, so whatever aura of invincibility he had, it’s gone.

        The series may end on Wednesday and if it doesn’t, I think that fruitless 4 min powerplay may be the pivotal point of the SCF.

      • Shane: relax: Your team is up 3 – 1. The Habs have had an otherworldly penalty kill all playoffs. Tampa’s Cup win has been delayed, not denied.

      • Perry deliberately skated into Vas. Wasn’t pushed or shoved.
        While Vas was vulnerable as he was making a save.
        Perry deserved the shot to the beak, should have hit him harder.
        Perry does that accidental on purpose stuff all the time and deserves every scar on his face. He would probably tell you that if you asked him. It’s what he does, it’s what makes him effective even at this age.
        The non call was the right call or you call both. Same difference.
        Match penalty, not so much.

      • Ray Bark,

        Correction, Perry was cross checked into Vasilevskiy though it’s immaterial to what I’m pointing out.

        The point was the risk of a penalty or being tossed out of the game showed a loss of composure and frustration from Vasilevskiy.

        I’m not complaining that he got away with it.
        C’est la vie.

        As for the fruitless 4 min powerplay, imagine had Suzuki scored on that cross from Danault in the OT.

        We’ll see Wednesday 🙂

      • Correction back at ya HF30. He was not cross checked. Had my readers on and checked again. Freeze framed it too. Nada on the cross check. But hey your team is in it so I get it. It’s not like Perry totally ran him, just got in his grill.

        Link below.

        I don’t think he was rattled or lost composure but OK, only he knows for sure, so we are both guessing.

        If we are going to guess I will go with an opportunity to punch Perry in the face when he knew he would get away with it. Can’t say I blame him.


      • Ray Bark,

        In hindsight you’re right, what I thought was a crosscheck from McDonagh was Staal and McDonagh jockeying and crashing Perry who was on his knees in front of Vasilevskiy.

        As for frustration, I am just putting the pieces together after what I found to be an unusual comment by Cooper in response to the pp and difficulty closing out the series.

        The potential match penalty is incorrect as well, he hit him with his glove not his blocker.

    • They were down 3-0 and now 3-1 so no it’s not the same. They still need to win 4 straight that’s the reality. They’ve shown us that they can do 3 like when they were down 3-1.
      Hope this helps.
      Let’s say this does go the full 7, what does this tell you about the true parity in the league when a team under normal circumstances or season finished 18 overall which would of not qualified for the playoffs, be good enough to make it to the Stanley Cup finals?

    • Hitting a goal post is another phrase for “miss.” Near miss, far miss, still a miss.

  5. Montreal could have Hasek in goal Weds and it won’t make any difference in outcome.

    • The Joe Btfsplk of prognosticators has spoken.

  6. That over time goal, Im not even a hab fan…but that was heart and determination. He makes the whole play, flicks it in front of the net, gets shmucked, has the presence of mind to keep his eye on the puck, dives and roofs it. Unbelievable.

    I don’t really care what happens.Both of these cups for Tampa will have shiny Houston Astro **asterisk** beside them. The Covid Cup. The Second Covid Cup with a Cap Circumvention Twist.


  7. Speaking as a hockey fan, Kivi will be missed and it’s terrible that this happened when, barring unusual circumstances, he was about to spend his first full season in the NHL as a backup goalie.
    Speaking as a combat veteran with PTSD, maybe (I’m not counting on it, but just maybe) this terrible incident will cause lawmakers to ban fireworks sales. Frankly, I’m tired of hiding in the basement on July 4 to reduce the volume of fireworks being used.

    • Yup that’s the sad thing people don’t know about vets. What you said is true because my neighbor is the same and affects him bad and once he told me we’ve spend it together ever since at my place with music and lots of weed.

    • I agree, and so does every pet in our neighborhood. Enough is enough ! There are always multiple injuries due to fireworks every year. We have had them going off every evening for the past 8-10 days now, sometimes going on past 12:30 AM. Our dog is just beside herself.

    • Paul, I do truly feel for vets with PTSD. I don’t imagine being in an area with a horn going off every time a goal is scored is better for you. Surely the better way to go is for vets to get proper and ongoing treatment for PTSD. Way better for vets, as celebratory fireworks aren’t going to end.

      • I do know what vets go through – only in my dad’s time they didn’t call it PTSD. He was overseas from December 1939 to August 1945 as a Sgt-Major with the First Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery and saw almost continuous action from the invasion of Sicily, all through Italy and battles of the Moro River and Ortona and, brought back to England during D-Day with his unit, finished the war in battles through Belgium and Holland.

        When he came home I was 7 and I remember walking with him and him ducking whenever a car or truck backfired, and he couldn’t get far enough away from fireworks for the longest time.

        They had no name for it then and no specific treatment.

      • LJ,
        I’ve been in and out of therapy for 30+ years, when I wasn’t self-medicating, and I can honestly tell you that you can only ease how PTSD effects you, there is no cure or end to it.

      • Paul , sorry to hear that your have to live life dealing with PTSD. No one knows how hard that must be unless you have walked a mile in those shoes. You seem to have a good attitude about how to deal with it. All the best.

      • Thank you, Fergy. Could be worse. A lot of my brothers and sisters took their life instead of getting help.
        Now for my plug. If you know a veteran and (s)he seems to be struggling, there are lots of programs (Including the Warriors hockey program) to help them adjust to civilian life &/or deal with PTSD. You can learn about these programs through the VA or Wounded Warrior Project. Please help. I’m really tired of losing my brothers and sisters.

      • Late to reply Paul, hope you read my sympathies for your situation.

  8. I respect the ptsd posts. But not having fireworks which are loved by the majority due a small minority isn’t the answer either. Anyone got any thoughts how to have a display while trying to minimize the impact on those who are disturbed by it?

    Maybe the big fireworks company’s putting a fraction of money away for sensory blocking devices for the community they are performing in?

    I do think the random bozos in urban or suburban areas firing off random mortars could be reigned in.

  9. LJ I respect your post on Tampa being up 3-1 and their ultimately taking the series is not denied. I also respect the Habs’ pk but it would be really difficult to contrive Tampa skated as much in their own end during the extended PP because of Montreal more than the Bolts’ own complacency.