NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 13, 2022
The Blues eliminate the Wild, the Lightning, Bruins and Oilers force Game 7 in their respective series, the Hart Trophy finalists are announced, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The St. Louis Blues advanced to the second round of the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs with a 5-1 win over the Minnesota Wild in Game 6 of the opening-round series. Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko were among the goal scorers while Jordan Binnington made 25 saves for the win. The Blues go on to face the Colorado Avalanche.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues’ offensive depth made the difference in this series, particularly on the power play. They scored two goals with the man advantage in three of the six games and were held scoreless on the PP just once.
Despite a franchise-best regular season with 53 wins and 113 points and Kirill Kaprizov setting single-season franchise scoring records, the Wild once again came up short in postseason play. They haven’t won a playoff round since 2015 and haven’t advanced past the second round since 2003.
Wild general manager Bill Guerin faces a challenging offseason. He’s got over $12 million in dead cap space from last summer’s buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter biting deeply into his salary-cap payroll for next season. Winger Kevin Fiala is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights in line for a substantial raise while trade deadline acquisition Marc-Andre Fleury is an unrestricted free agent.
There will be a seventh and deciding game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs. Brayden Point’s overtime goal lifted the Lightning to a 4-3 victory in Game 6 to tie their first-round series at 3 games apiece. John Tavares tallied twice and Auston Matthews also scored for the Leafs, who overcame a 2-0 deficit for the second straight game. However, they couldn’t hold the lead this time as Nikita Kucherov’s third-period power-play goal tied the contest and forced the extra period.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Well, Toronto fans, here you are again, with your club extending their inability to win in a series-clinching contest to nine straight games dating back to 2013. With the series returning to Toronto for Game 7 on Saturday, it’s gut-check time for the Maple Leafs.
We already know what the defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning are made of because they’ve proven it over the past two years and in this series. They rise to the occasion under playoff pressure. The Leafs must finally get this monkey off their backs or endure a miserable postseason that could lead to changes on the roster, behind the bench and in the front office.
Speaking of rising to the occasion, the Boston Bruins did that with a convincing 5-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes to force Game 7 in their series on Saturday. Brad Marchand, Charlie Coyle and Tomas Nosek each had a goal and an assist while Jeremy Swayman kicked out 23 shots for the Bruins.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boston coach Bruce Cassidy made a key adjustment for this game by shifting David Pastrnak down to the second line and moving Jake DeBrusk onto the first line. The adjustment worked as the Bruins jumped to an early 2-0 lead and controlled the game after that. The Hurricanes made it interesting when Andrei Svechnikov cut the lead to 2-1 in the third period but the Bruins replied with three straight goals to put this one out of reach.
Each team has won their games in this series on home ice. That’s a trend the Hurricanes will hope to continue on Saturday.
The Edmonton Oilers got three-point performances from Connor McDavid and Evander Kane to double up the Los Angeles Kings 4-2. Mike Smith turned aside 30 shots for the win to send this series back to Edmonton for Game 7 on Saturday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Speaking of clubs needing to shake off a recent reputation for postseason failure, the Oilers have an opportunity to win their first series since 2017. Momentum seems to be on their side following Game 6 but the Kings have proven quite resilient, pushing this series further than most observers expected. I’d say the pressure remains on the Oilers.
NHL.COM: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid and New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin are this year’s finalists for the Hart Memorial Trophy, awarded to the player deemed most valuable to his team.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid is a two-time Hart winner who led the league in points with 123. Matthews, however, could be the favorite after becoming the first player to reach the 60-goal plateau since Steven Stamkos in 2012. However, I think a solid case can be made for Shesterkin, whose outstanding goaltending this season was crucial to the Rangers’ reaching the playoffs. My guess is Matthews ends up winning it.
THE ATHLETIC: A source claims Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby is being evaluated for a concussion suffered during Game 5 against the New York Rangers. He left that contest in the second period after being elbowed in the head by Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins are saying Crosby suffered an “upper-body injury” but everyone is well aware of his concussion history. It’s questionable if he’ll be available for Game 6 tonight in Pittsburgh. The Pens have recalled forward Radim Zohorna from their AHL affiliate to fill in for Crosby if he’s unavailable.
CBS SPORTS: Florida Panthers forward Mason Marchment remains sidelined by a lower-body injury and won’t play in tonight’s Game 7 against the Washington Capitals. Marchment’s been out of action for the past two games.
THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper has been declared “good to go” for Game 1 of his club’s upcoming second-round series against the St. Louis Blues. Kuemper suffered an eye injury in Game 3 of the first-round series against the Nashville Predators.