NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 30, 2023

by | Apr 30, 2023 | News, NHL | 61 comments

The Maple Leafs win their first playoff series in 19 years, the Oilers eliminate the Kings and the Rangers force Game 7 with the Devils. Details and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: For the first time since 2004, the Toronto Maple Leafs advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. John Tavares’ overtime goal gave the Leafs a 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning to win their first-round series four games to two. Toronto center Auston Matthews opened the scoring in the second period but Lightning captain tied it in the third period to force overtime. Ilya Samsonov kicked out 31 shots for the win.

Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs await the winner of the Boston Bruins-Florida Panthers series. Game 7 of that matchup goes this evening at 6:30 pm ET in Boston.

This was a well-deserved and long-overdue series victory for the Maple Leafs. Samsonov was solid in goal for most of this series while star players like Tavares and Matthews rose to the occasion in nearly every game. The players brought in by management at the trade deadline gave them a deep roster that the Lightning ultimately couldn’t match despite their experienced core.

I’ve seen some fans of other clubs mocking Leafs supporters on social media for their enthusiastic celebration of their team finally winning a playoff round after 19 years. I’m not a Leafs fan but I have relatives and friends who’ve stood by this club for years, even decades, and I’m happy for them. It takes a special kind of devotion to stick by a team that has frustrated them for so long. If I were in their shoes, I’d be in a party-hearty mood too.

As for the Lightning, this could be the end of perhaps the most dominating run of any NHL team in the salary-cap era. As The Tampa Bay Times’ John Romano observed, the Lightning won more games and scored more goals than any other NHL club over the last nine years. They won 50 more postseason games than any other team, went to six Conference Finals and four Stanley Cup Finals, winning two championships.

The cost of maintaining a Cup contender under the salary cap, however, also depleted their roster over the past three seasons. Players departed via free agency or cost-cutting trades as cap dollars went to retain their core players. Even though many of those players accepted hometown discounts, it was still expensive to keep guys like Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman, Andrei Vasilevskiy and Brayden Point in the fold.

That core of talent is still solid enough to keep the Lightning competitive as a playoff contender over the next several years. Higher increases in the salary cap after next season could help them replenish their roster. Nevertheless, their championship window appears to have finally slammed shut.

The Edmonton Oilers also advanced to the second round by defeating the Los Angeles Kings 5-4 on a tie-breaking goal by Kailer Yamamoto late in the third period to win their series four games to two. Klim Kostin scored twice and collected an assist while Stuart Skinner stopped 40 shots for the Oilers, who go on to face the Vegas Golden Knights in the second round. Kevin Fiala had a goal and two assists for the Kings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This series didn’t go the full seven games like last year’s between these two teams but it was still closely contested and very exciting. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of the Oilers and Kings meeting in the postseason over the next several years.

Not to take anything away from the Oilers’ well-earned series victory but I wonder if the outcome would’ve been the same had Fiala played in every game in this series. Sidelined by injury for the first three games, he had six points for the Kings in their final three games, giving their offense a noticeable boost.

The New York Rangers defeated the New Jersey Devils 5-2 to force a seventh and deciding game in their first-round series on Monday night in New Jersey. Chris Kreider led the way with a goal and two assists while Mika Zibanejad and Vladimir Tarasenko each had a goal and an assist and Igor Shesterkin made 34 saves. Curtis Lazar and Dawson Mercer replied for the Devils.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s only fitting that these long-time rivals should go to Game 7 in this series. It’s been an interesting back-and-forth between these two clubs with the Rangers dominating the first two games, the Devils bouncing back with three straight wins and the Blueshirts staving off elimination on home ice.


COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Avalanche forward Andrew Cogliano suffered a fractured neck and is sidelined indefinitely. He suffered the injury during Game 6 of the Avalanche-Kraken series when he was hit from behind by Kraken winger Jordan Eberle and driven head-first into the boards. Eberle receive a two-minute minor penalty and received no supplemental discipline for his actions. Game 7 of the Avalanche-Kraken series goes tonight in Colorado.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yet another example of how much of a joke the NHL’s so-called “department of player safety” has become in the eyes of the fans and pundits.

Eberle isn’t a dirty player and has never done anything like this before. Nevertheless, it was a dangerous hit that deserved at least a five-minute major and a match penalty. Even if we give the on-ice officials the benefit of the doubt with their initial call (something that’s becoming increasingly difficult to do in every series of this round), the department of player safety should’ve reviewed this and handed down the proper discipline.

And yet, nothing. Not a peep.

Cogliano’s postseason is probably over even if the Avs reach the Stanley Cup Final. Eberle, meanwhile, gets away with a dangerous hit and continues to play. The league’s officiating loses more respect while the department tasked with protecting the players loses more credibility.

What a farce.

Speaking of the Avalanche, The Denver Post’s Bennett Durando reports Josh Manson and Darren Helm remain sidelined for Game 7.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Matthew Tkachuk has played a major role in the Panthers’ rallying to force Game 7 against the Boston Bruins. He scored the overtime goal in Game 5 and led the way in Game 6 with two goals and an assist.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tkachuk was Florida’s leading scorer during the regular season with 109 points. He’s also their leader in this series with five goals and 10 points in six games. Love him or hate him, Tkachuk’s aggressive style has paid dividends for the Panthers.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery said Saturday that the decision on who starts in goal for them in Game 7 against the Panthers will be made on Sunday morning. There’s speculation Jeremy Swayman could get the call after starter Linus Ullmark struggled in his last two games.

THE ATHLETIC: Minnesota Wild goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said he intends to honor the final season of his contract. The 38-year-old hinted next season might be his last. “I’ve got one more year and that might be it,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Age is catching up with Fleury, who lost the starter’s job to Filip Gustavsson during the Wild’s first-round series against the Dallas Stars.

WINNIPEG SUN: Blake Wheeler and Kyle Connor were among several Jets who took issue with head coach Rick Bowness’ scathing public criticism of their performance following their first-round elimination by the Vegas Golden Knights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wheeler said he didn’t agree with how Bowness handled himself after that game, preferring the coach directed those comments to them behind close doors. If you asked most Jets fans, however, they probably agreed with Bowness questioning the players’ lack of pride and pushback in their series against Vegas and over the final two months of the regular season.


  1. Those celebrations are simply reflecting the result of having one HUGE monkey removed from long-suffering backs.

    Congratulations to the Leafs … and Oilers … who are keeping the dream of seeing Lord Stanley take up residence again North of the Border.

    I called the Leafs in 6 … also had the Oilers in 6 over L.A., but it took one more game. So far I’ve picked 3 winner (Vegas, Toronto, Edmonton) but lost 2 (had Minnesota over Dallas and NYI over Carolina).

    • Nothing about the fact that a few seconds before the end of regulation that Hagel took a stick to the face 15 ft in front of the ref and NO CALL!!!!!!
      The officiating in the play-offs has been atrocious!
      There is more officiating in an MMA contest!
      Leafs might have won anyway but call the damn games right!
      Congrats to the Leafs.

      • Johnny Z, we’d need a whole separate forum if we’re to discuss missed calls or bad calls.

        I’ve been following pro sports since the late 1940s and gave up on getting riled over what I perceived as poor officiating a LONG time go as a completely wasted emotion, since there’s obviously not a damned thing I can do about it.

        Bottom line? They’re right probably 95% of the time whereas the athletes likely screw up at a higher %.

      • Yea the refs for once put away their whistles for incidental contact/fouls and called the blatant obvious ones. Did they miss some? Yes, but nothing I think would of changed the result…unfortunately for you Johnny.

      • True, George, with the exception of the Department of Player Safety which is a combination of clown school, old boys, and travesty.

        Mind, this is a league that refuses to acknowledge CTE injuries …

        Unfortunately, until Bettman is replaced there will be no improvement. Owners love the revenue growth, and it is a fine line for the NHLPA to walk in pressing for more suspensions, safety on one hand, membership representation for the assailant.

  2. Championship window slammed shut? Bit rough of an assessment seeing how you also just pointed out how they maintained their core and the cap is going up. Pretty sure that core will have a shot at another championship over the next several years.

    • Yes Chris, the commentators, like I’ve been saying for years are best if ignored. I can’t help but think they talk just to hear the sound of their voice because clearly they have no problems contradicting themselves or saying truly dumb things.

      • That was Lyle that said that….

      • Yes, it was, and I didn’t say it to hear the sound of my voice or to be deliberately provocative. Even with the salary cap expected to increase substantially after next season, the Lightning will continue to have a difficult time maintaining sufficient depth around their core players who have already played a lot of hockey over the past nine seasons with some of them now in or approaching their early-30s.

        They possess little trade capital in terms of draft picks and quality prospects. With over $60 million invested in just nine players for 2024-25 and $51.6 million invested in seven of them for 2025-26, it’s going to be harder to bring in that depth necessary for them to be perennial Cup contenders again over the next three seasons.

      • Definitely tough but with their core and a very capable gm I wouldn’t classify their cup window as zero chance. Which is kinda how I read “slammed shut “

        Just to clarify I don’t equate Ron’s comments to your work.

      • I was commenting on the broadcast where I thought that contradiction was said. They did mention that “fact”.

  3. @George

    Who comes out on top – Boston or Florida
    Mind boggling – that series

    Alot of passionate Bruin fans on here

    • Ken, I had the Bruins … but in 5.

      That series is shaping up to be a reversal of what transpired last season where Florida won the President’s Trophy with a 58 18 6 122 pts record, scoring 340 while giving up 246. But bowed out in the playoffs, losing 4 straight to TB in Round 2.

      This season the Bruins won it with a 65 12 5 135 pts record scoring 305 while giving up 177, reflecting a much tighter D and goaltending over the 82 games than did Florida the year before.

      When you get to a game 7 all bets are off regardless of where it’s being played.

      After that scoring marathon in Miami the other night – more like an NBA game than an NHL one – I would not be surprised to see this one going into the 3rd 0-0 or 1-1.

      Should Boston prevail, I don’t see them putting themselves in that position again against the Leafs. If Florida wins, I can see them suffering a let-down in intensity and going out quickly against the Leafs.

      • As for the rest of the opening rounds still to be decided, I called NJ over NYR in 6 – now going to game 7 in Joisey.

        I also had Colorado dumping Seattle in 5- also going to game 7.

      • Florida won’t be an easy out if they get to the second round…which is crazy to think they would get there to begin with. The Panthers were swept by the Bolts last year in round two…I’m sure they will want to make sure they show up for round two this time. There’s no easy outs.

  4. YES !

    wait, there’s 3 more rounds ?

    • LOL. The reality that has suddenly dawned on a lot of teams over the years, FD.

  5. Things are nowhere near as grim as people make it out to be in Tampa.

    They took a loaded Toronto team to 6. And weren’t exactly healthy doing so.

    They still have Point, Cirelli, Kucherov, Vasilesky etc as a core going forward.

    Trading either or both of Stamkos and Hedman (which I think is a very real possibility) would bring back pretty massive returns. Especially if they retain $$$’s.

    • Captain, I agree that the Bolts still have a strong roster, but the depth just isn’t there anymore. And Killorn is likely gone.
      One factor that has been talked about is fatigue. They’ve played a lot of hockey these past few years. I read somewhere that since the return to play after Covid, the Bolts have played 52 more games than the Leafs. And all of them high intensity playoff games. Maybe a longer offseason with more rest will help them recharge.
      The problem is that their prospect cupboard is bare. And age will soon catch up to their core if they don’t retool somewhat.

      • The cupboard is definitely bare. But as I mentioned above, trading one of or both of Stamkos and Hedman refills it very quickly.

        Both franchise players, but we’ve seen other teams (Pittsburgh / Chicago) rot from the inside out by holding on to franchise players too long.

        If Tampa were to make either or both players available, there wouldn’t be many teams that didn’t come calling.

        Stamkos has a full nmc, Hedman has a modified-ntc.
        But if they find a way, these 2 guys will bring back a boatload!

      • Hedman can submit a ten team list. If need be, he’d fill it with teams that don’t need him, can’t afford him or division rivals that the team will never trade him to. I don’t see the Bolts being able to trade either of them quite frankly.

      • I don’t think you’d find 3 teams in the NHL that wouldn’t want or need Hedman.

        Especially at 50% retained. Hedman at 3.9 per for 2 years? Who’s passing on that? Lol.

        I think only a GM that hates his job.

      • We agree on something, Howard! (It’s fine when we don’t). I almost wonder if cap friendly is wrong, as it shows no Bolts picks in 2023 until the 6th round, no first round picks for three years, and one second round pick for three years. Wow!

        Tampa clearly mortgaged the farm to do what they did, and the way forward is either accepting an also ran status or trading a stud like Hedman.

      • Captain, you are certainly correct that there is no team in the league that wouldn’t want Hedman. But there is a big difference in the cap world between wanting him and being able to take on his contract. Even with money retained.
        To start with, if Hedman does not want to leave Tampa his first step would be to load up his ten team trade list with division rivals that Tampa will not trade him to. Boston, Toronto, Florida, up and coming rivals like Buffalo and Ottawa. That’s half the list right there. Then add in a couple of teams like the Habs, Anaheim, Chicago who are at a stage of rebuild where they will not give up the type of young assets that Tampa will seek for a player, even as good as Hedman, who will turn 33 before the season is half over. And top it off with a couple of teams who are strong on D and need to direct their cap space up front.
        I realize that anything’s possible. And I suppose that stranger things have happened. But I frankly don’t see Hedman or Stamkos being traded unless they want to be.

      • LJ, I checked on it and it looks like the Bolts have no picks this year till Round 6. Their 2024 and 2025 picks have been traded but are top 10 protected. So they may be deferred but I doubt it.
        For the past several years, Tampa has traded first rounders for bottom six forwards to strengthen their depth. Helped win 2 Cups but the price will be paid down the road.

      • IMO if TB moved Hedman for picks and or prospects, they wouldn’t be a contender either.
        He was playing hurt this series and gutted it out.

        When both are healthy, Hedman and Vas are their MVP’s. Hedman would leave a massive hole and make the team worse.

        Stamkos on the other hand…

    • I wonder if Cerelli is the one to go. He did not have a good regular season, but was good in the play-offs. He has no trade protection and would garner a good return. Killorn, Ross and most other UFA’s are probably gone. And what to do with Jeannot????????

      • TB has a better future than Pgh. after what Hextall did the past 2 years with his insane signings and trades !!!

        Trade Stamkos, don’t make the same mistake Pens made with Malkin

      • And stamkos waives outta sunny tax free Florida why?

      • Why would he? Perhaps he’s watching what’s happening in Pittsburgh?

        In all seriousness, he has one year remaining. Don’t see Tampa renewing his deal.

        More than likely, he’ll be looking for a new home come next year anyway. Is he really going to miss out on an opportunity to win another cup over 10-14% state tax (possibly prorated to deadline) differential and watch his current team rot away? Doubtful.

        I’d wager one or both of he and Hedman will be gone by next years deadline.

        If Tampa can find a way, they almost have to do it.

        They’re younger players are locked up long term

      • @Chrisms I agree why wouldn’t Stammer just sign a team friendly deal after his current contract is up? There is no way that team won’t be viable for another 2-3 years. I can’t see him moving to another team either as he or Hedman hold the leverage with NTC/M-NTC and likely won’t be moved having been in FL their entire career’s and moving families is probably a reason for either to sign lower cap hit extension (Stamkos) or Hedman might say no or I’ll retire, so either likely not going anywhere.

  6. Lyle, you are 100% correct, DOPS is a complete joke. If that was Manson, Landeskog or any other Avalanche player, they would have got suspended. Should at minimum miss Game 7? Congratulations to Maple Leafs fans. Anytime you can beat Tampa Bay, that is a major accomplishment, they are one tough hockey team. GO AVS!!!!

    • Lady Bing Eberle or not why did they not give the 5 minutes to start?

    • I agree with Bowness, he’s been around hockey a lot longer than those players? I remember him benching Neely, Oates and Bob Sweeney in the 3rd period of a Bruins playoff game back in the day, I believe. The players job is to go out and play, to execute the game plan from their coach and he is a good coach, always has been. The situation in Winnipeg continues because the players have a piss poor attitude. They need to get rid if the ones that don’t buy in? We are always hearing about the success of teams that “buy in” to what the coach is bringing, why are the Jets an exception? They’re not and that’s why the results aren’t there, IMHO!

      • Why do you think Maurice walked away?

    • Well, they went.

  7. @George

    There are Superstars –

    Than there the Tkachuk brothers , in a league of their own

    U have 1 in Ottawa- Bruins are experiencing the other ..

    Leaders , Tremendous, fierce competitors ..

    Reynolds’s will soon have his 1 Billion dollar team in Ottawa

    • There was a time, when Brady was playing hardball as an RFA, when a lot of fans were calling for Chabot to get the C. Thankfully, saner heads prevailed. Brady is the epitome of a team captain.

  8. Rangers finally looked like they cared again.
    Most knowledgable Ranger fan felt added Tarasenko was a solid move and they just needed to find a 13th forward.
    an injured Kane drags down the team. the players understand and respect him so its better to keep him off the ice

    • Messier was questioning all the Ranger deadline additions. Mark noted that it takes time to develop chemistry, suggesting that NY was still trying to find it. He remarked about one combination that has been together for 5 years. Can’t develop that level of synergy in a few months.

      • Seeings how many deadline acquisitions fit in well right away I.e. ekholm that kinda comment from messier seems like Monday morning quarterbacking.

  9. Johnny z you are 100% correct! Ref looking right at it. Pathetic

    The ref don’t want to impact the game. Guess what you did. It’s a clear high stick. Listening to them clowns in the intermission, laughing about it and if it was reverse they would’ve spent the whole intermission on how Toronto got screwed

    If Cernak was in the lineup this series has different ending.

    Congrats to Toronto

    • Caper

      You mean to tell me that in game 5 when Maroon pasted Giordano into the board from behind right in front of the referee that it wasn’t a more egregious non-call than a one handed accidental high stick?

      The refereeing in the entire playoffs has been atrocious. Not just this series.

      Eberle hits a guy from behind and gets a 2 minute minor…and the guy getting hit has a neck fracture and there is no supplemental discipline?

      Tell me how Bunting gets 3 games for the Cernak hit and Eberle gets none?

      • re: Tell me how Bunting gets 3 games for the Cernak hit and Eberle gets none?

        Bunting is a Leaf and DOPS is headed up by a former Montreal player. Toronto will get the short end of the stick every time.

      • Or bunting is a turd with a history. Not to defend dops but the bias thing is laughable. Or were you actually making a joke?

      • Hammer,

        Parros played 474 games in the NHL, most of them in Anaheim.

        He played a whopping 22 games in Montreal to end his career.

  10. Some fans Lyle, not this one.

    Media and fans like Bowness calling out the team, during the season and after they got eliminated.

    Players exit interviews.

    Adam Lowry “we still view Blake Wheeler as our captain”

    Josh Morrissey ” the players didn’t take away the captaincy. ”

    Lowry and Morrissey the room is strong

    Wheeler, Morrissey, Hellebuyck, Connor and Lowry (some big names)

    All call out Bowness for his handling of losing after game 5

    Bowness lost the room before the season started.

    When things didn’t go his way he decided to coach thru the media and get the fans on his side.

    His post game comments after the loss, were immature, although some fans and media enjoyed it, all it done was bond the players against the coach.

    Bowness gets alot of press for being players coach; clearly not the case here in Winnipeg. Media and fans coach yes. Players not so much.

    Winnipeg will have some changes in the off-season and I don’t see how they can come back with Bowness as their head coach.

    • You need Babcock, obviously!

    • Jets disappointment for years now… their top6 has been solid(even top 9) forwards and a Vezina quality keeper. veterans vs coach ? last guy walked away with a winning record

      • ds, yes, I was going to mention Paul Maurice. He blamed himself for not being able to maximize the talent based results. Gotta think it’s some of the players.

        Can’t help but wonder if the next area to quantify is a player’s ability to buy into and play a system – CFPs, Coach Friendly Players. That’s how teams with few superstars win championships – great goaltending combined with extreme attention to detail. I am impressed by Seattle’s performance this year.

    • Wow, that’s 4 coaches that are obviously delusional eh Caper?

      I smell BS !

  11. I’m hoping for an all Canadian Stanley Cup Final!!

    • The NHL is crossing their fingers that doesn’t happen.

  12. 19 years…. Whoosh… time flies…. Not!

    Monkey off the back…. Yep

    Samsonov is the hero of this series…. No Samsonov…, Bolts win…. Can’t see it any other way

    To Bolts fans …. Great series…. Yes, we saw the high stick, the hook; and the trip not called against the Leafs that aided in the win…. We aren’t blind; and we do appreciate the gifts…. But selfishly …, your team has gone to 3 straight SCFs; won 2…. We’ve waited 19 years to get out of round 1. Yes , Refs already handed 1 game to us; and certainly abetted in the Samsonov spearheaded theft last night…. And a game 7 comes with all kinds if unknowns and would have been filled with exciting moments….But we Leafs fans will humbly take the V; and move on to Beantown

    Re “ Yet another example of how much of a joke the NHL’s so-called “department of player safety” has become in the eyes of the fans and pundits.“

    Easy solution… fire Parros ; and hire a player that didn’t make a career doing exactly what he’s supposed to protect the players from

    Better still…. Have a Troika at the helm…. Retired player; retired ref; retired coach

    Would love to see Kariya have Parros’s job

    Once again…. Failure by Gary to do the right thing

    • Pengy I see you on hear all the time your a Pittsburgh fan I grant you that. 90% of your posts are what fantasy trades they should make.
      But a leafs fan lol give me a break all you do is come on here say they got lucky the refs the calls and they can’t win it’s not their window.

      I got news for you you can fool some of the people some of the time you fool me none of the time.
      As a leaf fan I can see it both ways you only see it one way.

      • Hi MoTV

        Leaf fan for over 5 1/2 decades
        Pens fan since Mario early days

        Fan equally of both

        I’m sure others hear will feel 90% of my Penguins posts have been re the brutal impacts (on Pens) from JJ and Ruhweedel and this year from Carter and Dumo

        I’m happy as a 🐖 in 💩 that Leafs are moving on

        That said; I’m in no way blind to calls/non calls for friend and foe

        Leafs were benefitted tremendously (by Refs) for 1 game in the series; and there is no one in my circle of friends that saw it differently

        and although refs put whistles away late last night and both teams got away with “violations”; I just wanted to state for Bolts fans that Leafs indiscretions late last night were greater and more obvious than Bolts.

        I’m not saying that the blatant high stick actually called; wins Bolts the game…. But it does give them a shot at pushing series to 7

        Leafs were expected to win the series…. They did, now moving on…. Almost assuredly v Bruins

        I’d love to see the Leafs best Bruins, I just have tempered expectations

        Leafs will win the cup sometime ; and I’ll be there for the madness parade….I’m just logically thinking it will be a wait still


        Go Leafs Go
        Go Pens Go

      • Man, don’t waste your time. You’re right, no need to prove anything here. There will always be a seat for guys like him on the bandwagon.

  13. Any other Bruin fan nervous?

    No upset in the first round so far.

    Last game was quite the emotional roller-coaster.

    I’m hoping they can hear me screaming at the TV tonight. I have alot of insight.

    I’m already nervous and the game is 4.5hrs away.

    • I’m nervous.
      I’m also thinking that if we somehow don’t finish the job today, the Leafs will play in the finals. All it takes is a little luck.

    • Caper

      If bruins stop handing a couple free goals they will win
      Swayman starts Frederick back in with Gryz. I will say bruins abd Avs both get through to 2nd rd. If not I will have to take week off to cool down lol

  14. It’s easy to say the Lightning should trade Stamkos and Hedman. However, I doubt it’s going to happen.

    Both players were key pillars in building the Lightning into Stanley Cup champions. They’re among the best players in franchise history.

    Management tends to get as attached to those guys as the fans do. The Penguins are a prime example. So are the Capitals with Ovechkin.

    The Lightning are no different. I wouldn’t be surprised if they attempt to re-sign Stamkos and Hedman on short-term deals for less than their current salaries.