NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 26, 2023
The Oilers and Stars take 3-2 leads in their respective series, the Islanders stave off elimination, Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar suspended, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: The Edmonton Oilers are poised to eliminate the Los Angeles Kings following a 6-3 victory in Game 5 of their best-of-seven first-round series. Nick Bjugstad scored twice while Connor McDavid, Darnell Nurse and Mattias Ekholm each collected two assists for the Oilers, who hold a 3-2 lead in the series. Adrian Kempe had a goal and an assist for the Kings, who pulled goaltender Joonas Korpisalo after he gave up four goals on 19 shots.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There will be a long layoff for both clubs as Game 6 goes Saturday in Los Angeles. The Oilers will hope this doesn’t stall their momentum following back-to-back wins while the Kings attempt to regroup and prepare for a season-saving win on home ice.
Dallas Stars center Roope Hintz had three assists in his club’s 4-0 win over the Minnesota Wild in Game 5 of their first-round series. Jake Oettinger kicked out 27 shots to become the first goaltender in the 2023 playoffs to record a shutout. With a 3-2 series lead, the Stars can close out the series in Game 6 on Friday in Minnesota.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hintz has 11 points this postseason, setting a franchise record for most points in a single series. Wild forward Marcus Foligno was ejected from this game for a knee-on-knee hit on Stars forward Radek Faksa, who was helped from the ice but did return to action later in the game.
The New York Islanders staved off elimination by nipping the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2. Brock Nelson and Pierre Engvall each had a goal and an assist while Ilya Sorokin stopped 34 shots. Sebastian Aho and Paul Stastny replied for the Hurricanes, who hold a 3-2 series lead heading into Game 6 on Friday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A big win by the Islanders as they showed considerably more energy and determination than they did in Game 4 on home ice.
NHL.COM: The department of player safety levied a one-game suspension on Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar for interference against Seattle Kraken forward Jared McCann during Game 4 of their series on Monday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: McCann suffered an upper-body injury. He will miss Game 5 tonight and could be sidelined indefinitely.
TAMPA BAY TIMES/TORONTO SUN: Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy isn’t solely to blame for his club’s collapse in their last two games putting them on the brink of elimination. However, the Bolts need him to be at his best in Game 5 on Thursday to avoid elimination by the Toronto Maple Leafs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vasilevskiy remains a very good goaltender but the team in front of him isn’t as deep as it once was. The Lightning’s roster has been steadily depleted as salary-cap constraints led to several key players departing via free agency or cost-cutting trades. That means the Lightning’s opponents are getting more scoring chances.
Fatigue could also be a factor. Vasilevskiy and his fellow Lightning core players have played a lot of hockey over the past three seasons. Reaching the Stanley Cup Final in three straight seasons eventually takes its toll.
WINNIPEG SUN: Jets center Mark Scheifele traveled with the Jets to Las Vegas for Game 5 of their series against the Golden Knights. He left Game 4 with an apparent shoulder/collarbone injury but it’s hoped he’ll be able to play in Thursday’s crucial game. The Jets face elimination as they’re down three games to one to Vegas.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jets coach Rick Bowness said Scheifele is day-to-day but added he looked better yesterday. “Let’s put him in the hopeful category for Thursday,” said Bowness.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Speaking of the Golden Knights, team captain Mark Stone warned his teammates against complacency as they head into Game 5 with a chance to close out the series on home ice. “It’s going to be the hardest one, boys,” said Stone following their Game 4 victory. “Be ready!”
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Patrice Bergeron could make his series debut against the Florida Panthers in Game 5 tonight in Boston. The Bruins captain has been sidelined by an upper-body injury. Center David Krejci remains out with an upper-body injury.
THE SCORE: Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad and winger Anthony Duclair will return to action in Game 5 against the Bruins tonight. Both players missed Game 4 with injuries.
NEW YORK POST: Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant is calling out his best players following their lackluster loss to the New Jersey Devils in Game 4. “For me, it’s the top-six forwards,” said Gallant. “They’ve got to be a lot better. They’ve got to be more productive.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those players include Mika Zibanejad, Artemi Panarin, Patrick Kane, Vladimir Tarasenko and Vincent Trocheck. The only one who’s played well consistently is winger Chris Kreider. He’s had points in every game and leads the Rangers with five goals.
IN OTHER NEWS…
CALGARY SUN: The long, sometimes acrimonious negotiations between the city of Calgary and the Flames regarding a new arena have finally ended in a deal. The city has an agreement in principle with the team and the province of Alberta on a $1.22-billion deal to replace the aging Saddledome.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: On the one hand, I’m happy for Flames fans and players that they’re going to get a new state-of-the-art arena. It will put an end to concerns about the club relocating without a deal, ensuring their longstanding rivalry with Edmonton (“The Battle of Alberta”) continues to provide entertainment for hockey fans for a long time.
On the other hand, that $1.22 billion price tag is considerably higher than the original estimate of $550 million before cost escalations to $634 million prompted the city to reject it. This new agreement sees the bulk of the cost being picked up by municipal and provincial governments.
Speaking of the Flames, winger Andrew Mangiapane is recovering from shoulder surgery and is expected to be ready for the start of training camp. He admitted that his shoulder had bothered him on and off during the season. That would explain the drop in his production this season.
OTTAWA SUN: The Senators’ improved performance this season resulted in improved ticket sales. They played to 90 percent capacity in their 41 home games this season. They averaged 16, 757 fans this season, their highest since 2016-17.