2020 Stanley Cup Qualifying Round Preview: Vancouver Canucks vs. Minnesota Wild
Recaps of the final day of exhibition games, including updates on Tyler Seguin, Brad Marchand, John Carlson, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: First-period goals by Boone Jenner, Zach Werenski, and Gustav Nyquist powered the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 4-1 victory over the Boston Bruins. Nyquist finished with two points while teammate Oliver Bjorkstrand collected two assists.
Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask gave up three goals on 20 shots before being replaced by Jaroslav Halak. Teammate Brad Marchand left the game in the third period with an apparent lower-body injury following a hit on Werenski. Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy will provide an update today.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins appeared rusty in this contest, but they’ll have plenty of time to sharpen their play during the seeding round-robin before the opening round of the playoffs. The Jackets, meanwhile, showed how much better they can be when they have a mostly healthy roster, something they didn’t have for long stretches in the regular season.
Reilly Smith scored two goals and Marc-Andre Fleury went the distance with a 22-save performance to give the Vegas Golden Knights a 4-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes. Alex Tuch’s highlight-reel goal put the game out of reach. Coyotes center Nick Schmaltz left the game in the second period following a heavy check from Vegas winger Ryan Reaves.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reaves’ arm made contact with Schmaltz’s head during that hit. No word yet if the league’s department of player discipline will be looking at this. It’s interesting that Robin Lehner didn’t split the goalie duties with Fleury. Perhaps he’ll get the start in the Golden Knights’ first game in the round-robin on Monday.
Viktor Arvidsson scored twice while Juuse Saros and Pekka Rinne combined for a 26-save shutout as the Nashville Predators blanked the Dallas Stars 2-0. Stars center Tyler Seguin was scratched from the lineup (unfit to play), while forward Andrew Cogliano left the game in the second period favoring his left leg following a collision with Predators defenseman Yannick Weber.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seguin is expected to be ready for the round-robin starting Aug. 3 against the Golden Knights. No update was provided on Cogliano’s status.
IN OTHER NEWS…
NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals defenseman John Carlson didn’t practice yesterday after missing the final half of the third period of Wednesday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes. Carlson crashed awkwardly into the boards and was removed from the game as a precautionary measure. Head coach Todd Reirden expects the blueliner will return to practice on Saturday.
CBS SPORTS: Toronto Maple Leafs forward Andreas Johnsson took part in special teams’ practice yesterday. He’s still recovering from a knee injury suffered during the regular season. Johnsson isn’t expected in the lineup when the Leafs face off against the Blues Jackets on Sunday in Game 1 of their qualifying-round series.
THE AHL.COM: American Hockey League president and CEO Scott Howson announced a revised start date of Dec. 4 for their 2020-21 season. Details of their full schedule have yet to be determined.
Recaps of the second day of exhibition games, an update on John Chayka’s departure from the Coyotes, the Blackhawks announce initiatives to honor Native American culture, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
EXHIBITION GAME RECAPS
NHL.COM: The line of Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov, and Ondrej Palat combined for 10 points as the Tampa Bay Lightning blanked the Florida Panthers 5-0. Point led the way with two goals and two assists. Andrei Vasilevskiy picked up the shutout with a 26-save performance.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky gave up five goals on 34 shots, but he was hung out to dry by his teammates. The Panthers must improve their defensive play before they face off against the New York Islanders in their qualifying round series.
Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin tallied twice and set up another to lead his club over the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2. Capitals defenseman John Carlson left the game in the final 10 minutes as a precautionary measure after crashing awkwardly into the boards. An update on his condition is expected today. Hurricanes goalie Petr Mrazek gave up three goals on 16 shots before being replaced by James Reimer.
Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck kicked out 37 shots in a 4-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Jets captain Blake Wheeler had a goal and an assist. Teammate Nikolaj Ehlers also scored, but left the game in the third period with an apparent lower-body injury. No word yet as to his status.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Looks like the long layoff had little effect on Hellebuyck’s performance. The Vezina Trophy finalist was on top of his game against the Canucks. Ehlers may have aggravated an ailment that nagged him throughout training camp.
Dominik Kubalik scored twice and added an assist as the Chicago Blackhawks blanked the St. Louis Blues 4-0. Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford made 11 saves through two periods.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crawford looked sharp in this contest after missing most of the Blackhawks’ training camp when he tested positive for COVID-19. His performance against the Blues is a good sign as he and his teammates face the Edmonton Oilers in the qualifying round.
Colorado Avalanche forwards Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, and Joonas Donskoi were the goal scorers as their club edged the Minnesota Wild 3-2. Wild center Eric Staal had a goal and an assist. The Avs killed off seven of eight penalties.
Semyon Varlamov and Thomas Greiss combined for 26 saves as the New York Islanders held off the New York Rangers 2-1. Anthony Beauvillier and Devon Toews scored for the Isles. Rangers defenseman Marc Staal left the game in the second period for precautionary reasons and isn’t expected to miss their qualifying series against the Hurricanes.
NEW YORK POST: Howie Kussoy cites multiple reports claiming former Arizona Coyotes general manager John Chayka’s relationship with the club’s ownership was irrevocably damaged when he lied about having a job interview with the New Jersey Devils, who then were uninterested in hiring him. Chayka resigned from the Coyotes last weekend as the club was preparing to head to Edmonton for Phase 4 of the return-to-play plan.
An NHL team approached Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo about a month ago seeking permission to speak to Chayka, which Meruelo rejected. Chayka then reportedly lied to Meruelo about the Devils’ interest, only to subsequently request his contract be terminated so he could pursue an opportunity within the Devils ownership’s sports portfolio.
Meruelo felt betrayed but wanted to wait until the season ended to discuss this with Chayka, but the latter felt that was unreasonable. The situation quickly deteriorated, culminating in Chayka’s departure from the team.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This has degenerated into a messy they-said/he said situation with each side blaming the other. If Chayka lied about the Devils interview, it could damage his reputation and his efforts to find employment elsewhere in the NHL.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks are taking steps designed to honor Native American culture. They’ve banned headdresses at their games and intend to incorporate Native American culture and education into their arena and the games there. The club has resisted calls to change its nickname and logo after the NFL’s Washington Redskins announced they were moving on from their nickname.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Bruins re-signed forward Anders Bjork to a three-year, $4.8-million contract extension. The annual average value is $1.6 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Bruins now have over $65.1 million invested in 19 players for 2020-21. Torey Krug, Jake DeBrusk, Matt Grzelcyk, and team captain Zdeno Chara are among the notables still to be re-signed.
TSN: Former Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock has taken on a volunteer advisory role with the Vermont Catamounts coaching staff.
LA PRESSE: Montreal Canadiens winger Dale Weise denied a report out of Switzerland claiming he signed a contract with Swiss club HC Lausanne.
Results from the first exhibition games of return-to-play, an update on David Pastrnak, the Ducks re-sign Sonny Milano, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Connor McDavid scored twice to lead the Edmonton Oilers over the Calgary Flames 4-1 as exhibition games began yesterday leading up to the upcoming playoff tournament beginning Aug. 1. Elias Lindholm netted the sole goal for the Flames, who outshot the Oilers 37-30.
Scott Laughton scored in overtime as the Philadelphia Flyers edged the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby played over 19 minutes and said he had no issues after missing five of six practices last week to an undisclosed ailment.
The Toronto Maple Leafs tallied two shorthanded goals to double up the Montreal Canadiens 4-2. Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly scored and set up two others while Alexander Kerfoot potted two goals. The Canadiens went zero-for-six on the power play.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The overall play in those three games wasn’t bad. Granted, these were exhibition games following a nearly five-month layoff for the teams involved, lacking the intensity and crisp play one expects to see when the tournament begins on Aug.1. The players were still working out the kinks.
Nevertheless, the quality of play was better than I expected. Not great, but not horrible. The games also felt a little weird with piped-in noise and no fans, but I didn’t find it detracted from the on-ice action. I’ll get used to this as Phase 4 (hopefully) rolls on.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins winger David Pastrnak took responsibility for his actions that resulted in missing almost all of the Phase 3 training camp with his teammates. He confirmed returning to quarantine after skating with some amateur players at a rink north of Boston at the start of Phase 3. He traveled with the Bruins to Toronto for Phase 4 and has resumed practicing with his teammates.
THE PROVINCE: Canucks winger Micheal Ferland continues to impress his teammates with his play in practice. Ferland was questionable to participate in the playoff tournament after missing most of this season dealing with head-trauma symptoms. He’s expected to be in the lineup for today’s exhibition game against the Winnipeg Jets.
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks yesterday re-signed Sonny Milano to a two-year, $3.4 million contract. The 24-year-old winger was acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets at the February trade deadline, collecting five points in nine games with the Ducks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Cap Friendly, Milano’s annual average value ($1.7 million) leaves the Ducks with over $77.3 million invested in 17 players for 2020-21.
Here’s the average age of the 24 NHL teams involved in the restart: pic.twitter.com/H2ywugfSxS
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) July 28, 2020