NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 2, 2023
The Devils eliminate the Rangers, the Flames fire head coach Darryl Sutter and the Panthers limit ticket sales for fans of the Maple Leafs. Details and much more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: The New Jersey Devils blanked the New York Rangers 4-0 in Game 7 of their best-of-seven first-round series. Akira Schmid turned in a 31-save shutout while Michael McLeod, Tomas Tatar, Erik Haula and Jesper Bratt scored for the Devils, who advance to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2012. They’ll face off with the Carolina Hurricanes with Game 1 starting Wednesday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a big step forward for the Devils emerging from years of rebuilding. Schmid was their MVP in this series, taking over in Game 3 with his club down 2-0 in the series and winning four of five games. His goaltending inspired his teammates as their overall play improved over the course of this series.
Credit also goes to head coach Lindy Ruff, whose gamble on Schmid paid off handsomely for the Devils. Haula, Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier were among the Devils who stepped up as this series went on.
Devils winger Timo Meier left the game in the third period following a thundering hit by Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba. He left the game but return to the Devils’ bench late in the third. Ruff had no update on Meier following the game but felt that Trouba made contact with the winger’s head. No penalty was called on the play.
For the Rangers, this is a major letdown after their run to the Eastern Conference Finals last season. They loaded up for a run at the Stanley Cup by acquiring Vladimir Tarasenko and Patrick Kane but they tallied four goals between them in seven games.
They’re not solely to blame for this defeat. The only Rangers who played well consistently in this series were goalie Igor Shesterkin and winger Chris Kreider.
Mika Zibanejad was limited to one goal and four points while Artemi Panarin had just two assists. The Kid Line of Filip Chytil, Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafreniere wasn’t as effective as they were in last year’s playoffs. Meanwhile, the blueline struggled to contain the speedy Devils forwards.
CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: The Flames yesterday announced they fired head coach Darryl Sutter. The move came two weeks after Brad Treliving stepped down as general manager. Treliving’s replacement has yet to be named but whoever takes over that role will choose the Flames’ next head coach.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames must still honor Sutter’s two-year contract extension worth a reported $8 million. They evidently felt it was worthwhile eating that deal considering how the club struggled this season amid reports of growing unhappiness among the players over Sutter’s coaching style.
Winger Jonathan Huberdeau admitted he and Sutter “really didn’t click” and there were rumors that Sutter was clashing with center Nazem Kadri. Centers Elias Lindholm and Mikael Backlund hinted they might depart as free agents next summer though Lindholm seemed to suggest he would see what direction the club took in the coming months.
Speaking of the Flames, Oliver Kylington will return to the club next season. The 25-year-old defenseman missed the entirety of this season for personal reasons.
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Panthers are limiting tickets being sold on their website for the first two home games of their series against the Toronto Maple Leafs to those with a billing address in the United States. Team president Matthew Caldwell called it “an access thing so our fans can get tickets.” He said they will eventually allow tickets to be sold to Toronto fans.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, the Panthers want to ensure their fans aren’t outnumbered by fanatical Leafs supporters. However, there will be plenty of “snowbirds” who live in Florida that are Leafs fans. They will likely make their presence felt at those games.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: According to ESPN’s Kevin Weekes, Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark played through a “debilitating and painful injury that limited his mobility and technique.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That explains why Ullmark (the favorite to win the Vezina Trophy as this season’s top goalie) at times didn’t seem like himself in the first-round series against the Panthers. It calls into question the coaching staff’s decision to allow him to play through that injury rather than give more starts to a healthy Jeremy Swayman.
TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild center Joel Eriksson Ek said he suffered a broken leg while blocking a shot during an Apr. 6 game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He attempted to play in Game 3 of the Wild’s first-round series with the Dallas Stars but left after one shift. He had surgery on his fibula shortly following that game.
NEW YORK POST: The Islanders signed winger Hudson Fasching to a two-year, one-way contract worth $775K annually.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: The Capitals signed top prospect Ivan Miroshnichenko to a three-year entry-level contract after he and his KHL club Avangard Omsk mutually agreed to terminate his deal. The 19-year-old forward was chosen 20th overall by the Capitals in the 2022 NHL Draft
THE SCORE: Rapper Snoop Dogg is part of a bid fronted by Los Angeles entrepreneur Neko Sparks interested in purchasing the Ottawa Senators. He’s the latest celebrity connected to a bid for the Senators, joining actor Ryan Reynolds.
So here we are, ready for Round 2 with 8 teams left in the running – 2 of which just experienced the greatest turnaround from the season before.
Last season NJ finished 28th overall with a 27 46 9 63 pts record, scoring 248 and giving up 307.
This season they posted a 52 22 8 112 pts record, scoring 291 and giving up 226 while finishing 3rd overall. So, 43 more goals for and 81 goals less accounted for an eye-opening improvement of 49 pts and a jump in the overall standings of 25 positions.
Seattle finished 30th overall last season with a 27 49 6 60 pts record, scoring 216 and giving up 285.
This season they posted a 46 28 8 100 pts record, scoring 289 while giving up 256. In their case, 73 more goals for and 29 goals against less gave them an equally impressive 40 pts increase and a jump in the overall standings of 20 positions.
And don’t count them out in Round 2 either. Bottom line: with the right moves anything’s possible.
The Bruins yesterday. The Rangers today. Everyday just keeps getting better.
I called the that Trouba hit 2 days ago. Illegal hits to the head are the only thing the Rags “captain” ever contributes. Just glad to see them lose.
The forward depth of Seattle and NJ both play a 200 ft game and have good wheels.
The Rangers lacked chemistry and the effort was sad by some of the vets last night. Kreider for all his goal scoring was lazy on backchecks that could of stopped both the first two goals. He was -4.
Every Ranger fan knew the Kane move was not the correct one
George, I do remember the outcry from Devils fans to fire Lindy Ruff.
team chemistry is something too
Rangers looked as if they were all playing for themselves. Just seemed like it was NJ Devils vs Igor
Speaking of not counting anyone out, rookie goalie Akyra Schmid – drafted in Round 5 (136th overall) in 2018 – having played a total of 29 regular season games, now has 2 SOs in the playoffs while his vastly improved team moves on to Round 2.
And yet there are still doubters that Mads Sogaard, drafted in Round 2 (37th overall) in 2019, and with 21 regular season games in the bag, must spend another year in the AHL despite the fact Ottawa continues to improve both offensively and defensively comparable to NJ.
Well, after going 5-3 with my first round predictions ( did not have Florida or Seattle upsets, and the NYI’s did not upset Carolina as I picked ), here are my round 2 picks:
Florida over Toronto
NJ over Carolina
Dallas over Seattle
Edmonton over Vegas
It will be fun watching round 2….looking forward to it.
FLA over Trono is more hopeful than probable. But if hope were a strategy, I would be right with ya!
Johnny, that is probably the same strategy that Florida and Seattle utilized in Round 1.
Iago, I finished 4 and 4 in Round 1 – picking the Toronto, NJ, Vegas, Edmonton winners.
This round I see
Toronto in 6 again over Florida
Carolina over NJ in 7
Dallas over Seattle in 6
Vegas over Edmonton in 7
I was 4 and 4 as well. I had Edmonton, Vegas, Dallas, and NJ.
Florida over Toronto
Carolina over NJ
Edmonton over Vegas
Dallas over Seattle
I was Not 4&4…. some shockers there 🤔
my perdections for the next round are…..
➡️Toronto Over Florida 7.
➡️NJ Over Carolina in 6.
➡️Dallas Over Seattle in 6.
➡️Edmonton Over Vegas in 5.👌
I’m glad to see troubas in case of emergency break glass(head) tactic didn’t work this year
A lot of Sutter bashing going on. When he was let go in LA the beat reporters said he had worn on the players there too. He is hard on players and that style has a shelf life.
At the same time, there is a lot of crap from the media, in particular Eric Francis. He actually blamed Sutter for forcing Treliving to “fall on his sword” and quit which really is saying Treliving as Sutter’s boss was afraid of Sutter so Treliving quit rather than give his employee direction. Sound like credible analysis to you?
And while acknowledging that Gaudreau and Tkachuk were destined to move prior to Sutter’s arrival Francis still blamed Sutter for sealing their departure. The reason: Francis was offended by Sutter’s treatment of the media. Too precious for my tastes, Francis. No one watches hockey to hear the media.
I also note that Hubdereau complained Sutter affected his confidence. Mixed reviews on that as well. Playing against one’s style is a fair complaint. But Huberdeau got his ice time and didn’t do his job. Pro sports is big bucks for performing. Huberdeau got his ice time. Players often have to adjust their style of play to fit into a coaches system.
This doesn’t change the fact that Sutter did lose the dressing room and had to go, but seems to me that Sutter is a convenient scape goat.
The danger of that is that player evaluation gets distorted. I’ve had a quick look at the Flames scoring and most players put up points that were about equal to their normal production. Toffoli had a better than average year, Khadri about average, and guess who had a clearly poorer year than average? They guy complaining about his coach in the media.
But hey, always easier to blame someone else for one’s shortcomings.
I second all of this! I’m never sure if Francis is sincere or doing a shtick to try to get more readers. And the whining in Calgary really got annoying as the season dragged on.
Sutter may have lost the room but before that he also lost his two best players from the season before, a season which if I recall correctly set a franchise mark for points.
Moreover, if you look at the difference in goal differential that would have been observed if the team had received even league average goaltending this past season, let alone the excellent play Markstrom is capable of, that’s a team that very likely would at least have made the playoffs.
But Sutter definitely makes a good scapegoat
Perfect storm in Calgary….Johnny G and MT announce they are leaving…..Treliving does the best he could to replace them with Kadri, Huberdeau, and Weeger….but Huberdeau and Weeger aren’t really Sutter type of guys….Sutterdoes what he knows how to do, but without the roster he would want….unsurprisingly, it doesn’t work, and Treliving and Sutter are sacrificed at Lord Stanley’s altar…..some players likely to follow…and so it goes….everyone to blame….no one at fault.
Last season, with Tkachuk and Gaudreau, they had a 50 21 11 111 pts record with 393 goal for and 208 goals against.
This season, after losing some potent offense, and a re-jigging of the D, they wind up 37 27 and a whopping 17, good for 93 pts and missing the WC by 2 pts while scoring 260 – a drop of 33 goals) and giving up 252 (an increase of 44).
You have to think that the failure to adequately replace the lost offense of Tkachuk and Gaudreau probably cost them the win in at least 3 or 4 of those 17 OT/SO losses, which would have put them around 98-100 points and right back in it.
Hardly the coach’s fault – he didn’t assemble the line-up given to him. But, as Marco says, they needed a scapegoat.
Funny how its rarely mentioned that Sutter took his new “stud” and played him on Right wing after 10 years on Left wing.
Not sure how often his improvement in play since being moved back is mentioned either.
Sutter clearly failed that experiment or test of wills.
A pro hockey player can’t switch from left to right, HF30? Is Huberdeau only able to play on one half of the ice?
That’s a big limitation for $115 million dollars.
I listen to the Morning Bru podcast with Jaffe and Raycroft quite a bit. They were shooting down speculation that Ullmark was injured a few days ago. They reasoned that if Linus wasn’t injured then clearly Swayman would be in nets, since even at full health there’s very little drop off between the two goalies. I guess they were wrong and I don’t understand why Swayman wasn’t getting the starts.
Similarly, Bergeron didn’t really look like himself when he came back from injury (which we later found out was a herniated disk). Why insert him back into the lineup with a 3-1 series lead and all of the momentum? Boston had enough depth to take care of business without rushing Bergy back (they were up 3-1 without him).
Montgomery is an excellent coach, and obviously made the right decisions 99% of the time this year but I seriously question some of the decisions made against Florida.
If Linus was* injured.
Agree DoubleMinor, if it was in fact a debilitating and painful injury, a big mistake to play him. I get it if you don’t have a guy like Swayman as your #2, but they did have Swayman. Unless Ullmark was saying he was good to go, then it’s on him. I get the culture of gutting it out, but if you’re hurting the team you need to step aside. You’re the only one who knows what’s going on with your body.
If I recall Caper and some others thought their was an issue with Ullmark, looks like they were on to something.
The 2 best games the Bruins player in this series were 3 and 4. They played their structured, forecheck them to death, shut them down game. Neither Bergy nor Krejci played, which maybe caused them to focus more on that? I dunno, but again, I get wanting to suck it up and be there for your team, but maybe you weren’t helping? If they get another week’s rest would they have been in a better position to contribute?
Maybe it had nothing to do with it all and it is correlation vs causation, but kinda weird when you look at how that series went down.
And if Marchand scores on that late-seconds-ticking-away scoring chance in alone with the game tied late in the 3rd of game 5, we’re talking today about the Leafs’ chances versus their playoff boogeyman in Round 2.
Instead, it gave Florida life after scoring in OT which they used to full advantage in games 6 and 7.
There are way too many what if’s from that series George.
Almost feeling guilty about indoctrinating my 4 yr old grandson to be all in Bruins, as it might be quite a while until we are this good again. But I’ll get over it!
I think we’ll hang around a playoff spot, but that’s about it for a bit.