NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 10, 2022
The Avalanche swept the Predators, the Penguins take a commanding series lead over the Rangers, the Flames and Panthers even their series 2-2, the Islanders fire Barry Trotz, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines
NHL.COM: The Colorado Avalanche has marched on to the second round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs. They defeated the Nashville Predators 5-3 in Game 4 of their first-round series, sweeping the latter in four straight. Valeri Nichushkin snapped a 3-3 tie in the third period and Nathan MacKinnon added the insurance goal. Cale Makar and Andre Burakovsky each had a goal and two assists for the Avs while Yakov Trenin tallied twice and Filip Forsberg scored for the Predators.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators played the entire series without starting goaltender Juuse Saros, who was sidelined late in the season by a lower-body injury. Even if he’d been healthy, he probably wouldn’t have prevented the sweep. The Predators struggled down the stretch and were no match for the powerful Avalanche, who await the winner of the Minnesota Wild-St. Louis Blues series.
Sidney Crosby had a goal and two assists as the Pittsburgh Penguins rode a five-goal second-period outburst to a 7-2 drubbing of the New York Rangers in Game 4 of their best-of-seven opening-round series. Jake Guentzel and Kris Letang each had two points for the Penguins. They hold a commanding 3-1 lead in the series and can wrap things up in Game 5 back in New York on Wednesday night. Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin gave up six goals on 30 shots and go the hook following the second period.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins have lit up Shesterkin over the past two games, tallying a combined 10 games against the presumptive favorite to win this year’s Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goalie. However, this was a complete team defeat by the Rangers, who have been neutralized at both ends of the rink by a veteran Penguins club with more in the tank than most observers (like me) believed when this series began.
An overtime goal by Carter Verhaeghe carried the Florida Panthers to a 3-2 victory in Game 4 to tie their first-round series at two games apiece. It was Verhaeghe’s second goal of the game. Sam Reinhart tied the game late in the third for the Panthers. T.J. Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov replied for the Capitals while Ilya Samsonov made 29 saves.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers outshot the Capitals 32-16 and seemed on the verge of stealing this one before Reinhart sent the game to overtime. The series returns to Florida for Game 5 on Wednesday. Florida coach Andrew Brunette wasn’t happy with Oshie for what he felt was a targeted hit to the head of Panthers forward Sam Bennett. There was no call on the play. Bennett remained in the game and got the primary assist on the winning goal.
The Calgary Flames burned the Dallas Stars 4-1 in Game 4 of their series. Johnny Gaudreau scored on a penalty shot in a three-goal third-period for the Flames. Stars netminder Jake Oettinger turned in a 50-save performance in a losing cause. The series returns to Calgary for Game 5 on Wednesday tied at two games apiece.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Calgary’s margin of victory would’ve been much wider if not for Oettinger, who did everything he could to give his club a fighting chance. The Flames dominated Dallas in this contest. The Stars made it interesting when Tyler Seguin scored on the power play late in the third to cut the Flames’ lead to 3-1 before Mikael Backlund put the game out of reach.
NEW YORK POST: The New York Islanders fired head coach Barry Trotz yesterday. “I believe this group of players needs a new voice,” said general manager Lou Lamoriello. “This is not negative on Barry Trotz. He is a tremendous human being.” Assistant coaches Lane Lambert and Mitch Korn remain under contract for next season, though Trotz’s replacement will have a say over whether they’ll return for 2022-23.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a stunning move by Lamoriello. Under Trotz, the Islanders went to the Eastern Conference Final in 2020 and the semifinal in 2021. A season-opening five-week road trip while awaiting the opening of their new arena followed by a COVID-19 outbreak contributed to their failure to reach the playoffs this season. Nevertheless, the Isles GM felt his aging club needs a new bench boss going forward.
Changes could also be coming to the Islanders roster. Lamoriello indicated he’s like to bolster his blueline’s offense and he could make a trade involving his forwards. For now, however, whoever replaces Trotz and where the former Isles coach ends up are the hot topics of speculation. I’ll have more in today’s NHL Rumor Mill update.
NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning’s Victor Hedman, Nashville Predators’ Roman Josi and Colorado Avalanche’s Cale Makar are the finalists for the James Norris Memorial Trophy as this season’s top NHL defenseman. The winner will be announced later in the postseason.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprises there. All three are worthy nominees. Hedman won the award in 2018 and Josi in 2020 while Makar was a finalist last season.
The 2022 NHL Draft Lottery will be held at 6:30 PM ET on Tuesday. The Montreal Canadiens have the best odds at 18.5 percent, followed by the Arizona Coyotes (13.5), Seattle Kraken (11.5), Philadelphia Flyers (9.5) and New Jersey Devils (8.5).
TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala is struggling to replicate his regular-season production in his club’s first-round series with the St. Louis Blues. The 25-year-old winger had a career-high 33 goals and 85 points this season but has managed only an assist in four games thus far against the Blues.
OTTAWA SUN: The Senators have parted ways with Pierre McGuire after only nine months in his role as senior vice president of hockey development.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: McGuire, a long-time TV hockey analyst and a former NHL general manager was hired by late Senators owner Eugene Melnyk last year. He still has two years remaining on his contract. General manager Pierre Dorion had no comment, which probably speaks volumes for his opinion of McGuire’s contributions.
NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks signed pending unrestricted free agents Alexander Barabanov and Jaycob Megna to two-year contract extensions. As per Cap Friendly, Barabanov’s annual average value is $2.5 million with a 10-team no-trade list while Megna will earn $762,500 annually.
TSN: Montreal Canadiens goaltender Samuel Montembeault underwent successful surgery on his right wrist last Friday. He’s expected to be ready for the start of training camp in September.