NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 12, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 12, 2020

The Lightning down the Blue Jackets in a five-overtime marathon. Check out the details in the recaps of the opening round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning needed five overtime periods to edge the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 in Game 1 of their opening-round playoff series. Brayden Point tallied the winner at 10:27 of the fifth-overtime period, marking the fourth-longest game in NHL history, lasting over six hours and 13 minutes. The goal was Point’s second of the game. Pierre-Luc Dubois had a goal and an assist for the Jackets.

 

 

     

Tampa Bay Lightning center Braydon Point (NHL Images).

The two teams combined for a record 151 shots, with the Lightning firing a record 88. Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo set a record with 85 saves while Bolts netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy kicked out 61. Jackets defenseman Seth Jones also set a record for minutes-played by a skater, logging 65 minutes and six seconds of ice time.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That was the most entertaining multiple overtime game I’ve seen since the Buffalo Sabres edged the New Jersey Devils 1-0 in Game 6 of their 1994 Eastern Conference quarterfinal series. These types of games usually turn into long, dull defensive slogs with few quality scoring chances. Not this game. Every period was fast-paced and exciting, with the Lightning having the bulk of the offensive opportunities. A tough loss for the Jackets, who’ll have little time to recover before Game 2 tomorrow.

Because of the length of the Lighting-Blue Jackets game, the NHL rescheduled Game 1 between the Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes to 11 am ET today.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the right call by the league. It reportedly would’ve taken nearly two hours following the end of the Bolts-Jackets game to clean the dressing rooms and players benches and to prepare the ice surface for the Bruins and Hurricanes.

Rasmus Andersson’s second-period goal proved to be the game-winner as the Calgary Flames held off the Dallas Stars 3-2 in Game 1 of their opening-round playoff series. Dillon Dube scored twice as the Flames jumped to a 2-0 lead but the Stars tied it on goals by Denis Gurianov and Jamie Benn nine seconds apart. Stars defenseman Stephen Johns left the game in the second period and is listed as “unfit to play.” Stars center Tyler Seguin was held without a shot.    

 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dube had a heck of a game for the Flames, especially with his second goal that looked like a Pavel Bure special. Teammate Milan Lucic is also playing well, picking up his fifth point (1-4-5) in as many games.

Reilly Smith scored twice and collected an assist to lead the Vegas Golden Knights over the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1 in Game 1 of their opening-round series. 

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets center Mark Scheifele said he doesn’t believe Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk deliberately intended to injure him in Game 1 of their qualifying-round series. Scheifele suffered an injury to the back of his leg following a collision with Tkachuk, who reached out to the Jets center explaining he was skating too fast and lost control as he approached Scheifele along the boards.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jets coach Paul Maurice had thought otherwise, accusing Tkachuk of a dirty hit and doubling down a day later. It was obvious, however, that the collision was accidental. I think Tkachuk got a bad rap here because of his well-earned reputation for questionable tactics. If it had been Tkachuk’s teammate Johnny Gaudreau colliding with Scheifele, nobody would’ve thought it was dirty.

CBS SPORTS: Edmonton Oilers forward Tyler Ennis suffered a fractured leg and ligament damage near his ankle during an Aug. 5 game against the Chicago Blackhawks. He’s expected to be recovered in time for the 2020-21 season, but it might not be with the Oilers. Ennis is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues forward Ivan Barbashev is expected to rejoin his teammates in Edmonton on Friday after traveling to St. Louis to be with his wife during the birth of his son.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 5, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 5, 2020

Recaps of Tuesday’s games plus the latest on Jake Muzzin, Steven Stamkos,  and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

Carolina Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho (Photo via NHL Images).

 NHL.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes are the first team to advance past the qualifying round, defeating the New York Rangers 4-1 to sweep their best-of-five series. The Hurricanes scored four unanswered goals, including two by Sebastian Aho, while James Reimer made 38 saves for the win. Chris Kreider tallied the only goal for the Rangers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This series saw dominant performances by Aho and linemate Andrei Svechnikov. The young Hurricanes forwards proved too much for the Rangers to contain. Aho leads all playoff scorers with eight points, while Svechnikov has three goals and five points in three games.

 

Auston Matthews’s second-period goal was the game-winner and Frederik Andersen had a 20-save shutout as the Toronto Maple Leafs blanked the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-0, tying their qualifying round series at a game apiece. John Tavares and Morgan Rielly also tallied for the Leafs. The Maple Leafs win was overshadowed by Jake Muzzin being stretchered from the ice late in the game with a suspected head/neck injury after a cross-check by Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois sent the defenseman colliding awkwardly with Jackets winger Oliver Bjorkstand. Muzzin was taken to a local hospital and was reportedly able to move his limbs.  

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping Muzzin will be ok. It remains to be seen how long he’ll be at the hospital and if he’ll have to undergo the mandatory four-day quarantine before rejoining his teammates. The Leafs had the better of the play in this game, outshooting the Jackets 39-20.

Sean Monahan had a goal and two assists as the Calgary Flames downed the Winnipeg 6-2 to take a 2-1 series lead. Monahan’s linemates Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm each had a goal and an assist, as the Flames went three-for-four on the power play. The injury-depleted Jets suffered another casualty as Mathieu Perreault left the game following a big hit from Flames forward Sam Bennett. Winnipeg defenseman Tucker Poolman left the game briefly left the game for stitches after taking a puck to the face.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a very physical game that left both sides battered, but the Jets got the worst of it. Already down two players with stars Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine sidelined, they cannot afford to lose more regulars. They also need more production from first-liners Blake Wheeler and Kyle Connor, who’ve both been held to just one point in this series.

The New York Islanders tallied three unanswered goals to double up the Florida Panthers 4-2 and take a 2-0 series lead. Jordan Eberle tallied twice as the Isles overcame 1-0 and 2-1 deficits. Mike Hoffman and Keith Yandle each had two points for the Panthers. The Islanders can wrap it up in Game 3 later today. Following the game, Panthers defenseman Mike Matheson was fined $2,500.00 for high-sticking Isles center Brock Nelson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders showed lots of poise in this game. They didn’t get rattled when they fell behind and garnered momentum after Matt Martin made it 2-2. It was a disappointing outcome for the Panthers, who played much better in this game but couldn’t hold the lead.

J.T. Miller and Bo Horvat each had a goal and an assist as the Vancouver Canucks held on to edge the Minnesota Wild 4-3 and tie their series at a game apiece. Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom turned in a 34-save performance. Kevin Fiala scored two late goals for the Wild. The Canucks successfully killed off six penalties in this contest but also lost winger Micheal Ferland to an undisclosed injury in the first period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A strong bounce-back effort for the Canucks, who looked flat in Game 1. They also tweaked their roster, with Jake Virtanen and Loui Eriksson entering the lineup for this one. Tyler Toffoli missed this game with an injured foot suffered in Game 1.

Nashville Predators’ goaltender Juuse Saros made 24 saves for his first career postseason win, backstopping his club to a 4-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes to tie their series at a game apiece. Ryan Johansen had a goal and an assist as the Preds rolled to a 4-0 lead before the Coyotes tallied twice in the final minute of regulation.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After falling behind early in Game 1, it was the Predators’ turn to ride an early lead to victory. Apart from brief flurries from the Coyotes, the Preds largely controlled the play, especially when Calle Jarnkrok made it 3-0. Coyotes backup goalie Antti Raanta was declared “unfit to play” after leaving the bench mid-game and won’t suit up for Game 3 later today.

HEADLINES

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning captain Steven Stamkos won’t be in the lineup when his club faces off today in round-robin play against the Boston Bruins. Though he’s skated with his teammates in recent days, he’s still recovering from an injury suffered during Phase 2 training.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins winger Jack Studnicka will be a healthy scratch from today’s game against the Lightning. He’ll be replaced by Nick Ritchie.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues forward Ivan Barbashev is returning to St. Louis to attend the birth of his first child. He’s expected to rejoin his teammates for the first round of the playoffs.

THE SCORE: Former Washington Capitals winger Brendan Leipsic signed a one-year contract with KHL club CSKA Moscow. He was released from his contract in May when inappropriate comments he made on a group chat were leaked to social media.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 22, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 22, 2020

Hart Trophy Finalists revealed, plus the latest on Tuukka Rask, Jonathan Toews, Carter Hart, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

2020 NHL AWARDS UPDATE

NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl, Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, and New York Rangers winger Artemi Panarin are this season’s finalist for the Hart Memorial Trophy, awarded by the Professional Hockey Writers Association to the player adjudged most valuable to his team.

Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl is among the finalists for the Hart Trophy (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: These three are also the finalists for the Ted Lindsay Award honoring the most valuable player as voted by the NHL Players Association membership.

LATEST NOTABLE PHASE 3 TRAINING CAMP NEWS

THE BOSTON GLOBE: Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask has a small fracture in one of the fingers on his left hand but he doesn’t believe that will impede his play. He said the injury happened several weeks ago and it’s feeling much better.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nevertheless, you can bet opposing players will test that hand by firing more shots to his glove hand wherever possible.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews left practice early on Monday and was out for Tuesday’s scrimmages. Coach Jeremy Colliton said Toews was “unfit to participate”, citing league protocols.

Meanwhile, Corey Crawford’s chances of returning to the ice before the Blackhawks head to Edmonton on Sunday appear to be dwindling. Teams are allowed to bring 31 players to the upcoming playoff tournament. The club isn’t ruling out saving a roster spot for Crawford.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crawford hasn’t participated in Phase 3 training, sparking speculation he’s nursing an injury. Without their starting goaltender, the Blackhawks could face long odds of upsetting the favored Edmonton Oilers in their qualifying round tournament.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers goaltender Carter Hart left the ice during the first period of a three-period scrimmage yesterday and didn’t return. Because of league injury protocols, the Flyers provided no details for Hart’s departure. Local broadcaster Colby Cohen said he was told Hart experienced minor back spasms and could return in a day or two.

CBS SPORTS: Toronto Maple Leafs winger Zach Hyman returned to the ice Tuesday after missing a pair of practices to a leg injury suffered when he blocked a shot on Friday.

TSN: St. Louis Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester won’t be traveling with the club to Edmonton for the upcoming playoff tournament. He’s been sidelined since suffering a cardiac incident on Feb. 11 during a game with the Anaheim Ducks.

Speaking of the Blues, STLTODAY.COM reports Ivan Barbashev will miss one or two round-robin games and the start of the opening round of the playoffs to attend the birth of his child. He’ll have to test negative for COVID-19 four times in four days before he can rejoin his teammates in Edmonton.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Washington Capitals forward Lars Eller and Carl Hagelin will also be departing the quarantine bubble in Toronto to be with their wives when they give birth. They’ll have to go through the same testing before rejoining the Capitals.

TSN: Darren Dreger reports every player traveling to the bubble cities in Edmonton and Toronto for the upcoming playoff tournament must have three negative COVID-19 tests within a 48-hour period.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 2, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 2, 2019

John Tavares could start the season with new linemates, the Blues re-sign Ivan Barbashev, and Evander Kane and Ryan Reaves continue their war of words. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TORONTO STAR: Maple Leafs center John Tavares could be without regular linemates Mitch Marner and Zach Hyman when the season opens next month. Marner has yet to re-sign with the Leafs while Hyman is rehabbing his right knee following surgery in April. While Marner could be under contract once the season opens, Hyman is expected to be placed on the injury list.

Toronto Maple Leafs center John Tavares could start this season with new linemates (Photo via NHL Images).

Andreas Johnsson could be among the options as a short-term replacement for Hyman. William Nylander and Kasperi Kapanen are the likely candidates to replace Marner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’ll find out in a month who Tavares’ linemates will be. If Marner and Hyman aren’t available, Johnsson and Nylander could be skating alongside the Leafs’ first-line center when the season opens.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues re-signed forward Ivan Barbashev to a two-year contract worth $1.475 million per season. His signing means the Blues championship roster returns almost intact. The exception is Patrick Maroon as he recently signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Blues have roughly $495K in salary-cap space for 2019-20 with 24 players under contract. If necessary, they can demote one of their lower-paid players to the minors to free up more room.

THE SCORE: San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane and Vegas Golden Knights forward Ryan Reaves continued their verbal jousting over the weekend. Reaves renewed the spat on Twitter by calling himself Kane’s “worst nightmare” while Kane dismissed the broadside as a great example “of trying to be relevant when you’re not.”

THE ATHLETIC: Los Angeles Kings head coach Todd McLellan told a gathering of Kings season-ticket holders it’ll take some time before they notice changes in the club’s performance, particularly on the forecheck, neutral-zone play, and special teams. McLellan was hired as their coach in April. Part of the reason is to break habits and time needed for things to evolve.

SPORTSNET: Dante Fabbro hopes to become the next great young Nashville Predators defenseman. With P.K. Subban traded to New Jersey in June, Fabbro could have an opportunity to become a regular this season on the Predators blueline.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 16, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 16, 2019

The latest on Mikko Rantanen, William Nylander, Sebastian Aho, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic remains hopeful of getting Mikko Rantanen re-signed before training camp opens on Sept. 11. The 22-year-old winger is among a half-dozen high-end restricted free agents coming off their entry-level contracts.

Sakic said he recently called Rantanen in Finland to discuss the terms of a new contract and how his summer was going. The two sides are interested in a long-term deal taking the winger up to unrestricted free agency.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It doesn’t sound like there have been any serious contract discussions between Sakic and Rantanen. I expect that will change as the start of training camp approaches. With over $16 million in salary-cap space, the Avs can afford a big raise for Rantanen, perhaps something between $8.5 – $9.5 million per season.

SPORTSNET: William Nylander is looking to bounce back from a disappointing performance last season with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The 22-year-old winger missed the opening two months of the season to a contract dispute and finished with just 27 points in 54 games. “Now I’m ready to dominate this year,” said Nylander.

William Nylander is looking to dominate with the Toronto Maple Leafs this season (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Considering the Leafs are paying Nylander over $6.9 million annually through 2023-24 (stick tap to Cap Friendly), he’d better dominate this season. Another sub-par effort like last season’s and the calls from his critics in Leafs Nation will only get louder.

Missing training camp and the first 28 games of the regular season hurt Nylander’s performance. I expect we’ll see at least a return to form this season.

NHL.COM: Sebastian Aho has no regrets about signing an offer sheet with the Montreal Canadiens but insists he’s happy the Carolina Hurricanes matched it. “I did sign an offer sheet with Montreal and I’m thankful for them to offer me that contract, but I’m happy to be in Carolina,” Aho said it wasn’t an easy decision at the time, claiming he had less than a day to think about it.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Aho’s name surfaced in the rumor mill leading up to July 1. Several reports claimed Hurricanes management was playing hardball with the young center’s representatives, sparking rumblings he could become an offer-sheet target. Aho might be happy with his new contract and to stay in Carolina, but I can’t help wondering if team owner Tom Dundon might hold it against the youngster down the road.

COURIER POST ONLINE: Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere said he was dealing with a nagging left-leg injury that bothered him throughout last season. He feels he’s now fully recovered. Gostisbehere’s point total tumbled from 65 points in 2017-18 to just 37 last season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Gostisbehere is fully recovered we should see a significant rise in his stats this season.

THE ATHLETIC: Pittsburgh Penguins assistant general manager Bill Guerin could be emerging as the front-runner for the Minnesota Wild’s GM job. Sources claim Guerin recently had a second interview with the Wild. Former Philadelphia Flyers GM Ron Hextall and New Jersey Devils assistant GM Tom Fitzgerald are also believed among the candidates.

NHL.COM: Speaking of the Wild, Kevin Fiala is waiting for the Wild to find a new GM before continuing contract discussions. The RFA was in negotiations with Paul Fenton before his firing.

CBS SPORTS: Ivan Barbashev could play in Europe this season if there’s no new deal soon with the St. Louis Blues.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 8, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 8, 2019

The Sabres re-sign Jeff Skinner, Ivan Barbashev receives a one-game suspension and Patrick Marleau puts his Toronto home up for sale. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

WGR550: The Buffalo Sabres last night reached an agreement with Jeff Skinner on an eight-year, $72-million contract extension. The 27-year-old left winger was slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. His new deal is worth an annual average value of $9 million. 

The Buffalo Sabres re-signed Jeff Skinner to an eight-year contract (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly provides the full details of Skinner’s new contract. He’s earned $10 million annually in actual salary through all but the final two seasons of this deal. In 2021 and 2023, he’ll receive $7.5 million in signing bonuses. It also comes with a full no-movement clause throughout.

Critics of Sabres general manager Jason Botterill quickly took to social media saying he overpaid to keep Skinner in the fold. They point to the decline in his goal production over the final two months of this season as a cause for concern.

Botterill, however, had little choice. Skinner established strong offensive chemistry with Sabres captain Jack Eichel. Letting him walk via free agency would’ve sent the wrong message to Eichel and his teammates, as well as the Sabres’ long-suffering fans.

Yes, this could end up being an expensive mistake by Botterill. But if Skinner continues to produce on Eichel’s line and helps turn the Sabres into a playoff contender, it’ll be considered as money well spent. 

STLTODAY: St. Louis Blues forward Ivan Barbashev will miss Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. He received a one-game suspension for an illegal hit to the head of Boston Bruins forward Marcus Johansson during Game 5. Blues GM Doug Armstrong called the punishment “excessive”. 

THE ATHLETIC: Thanks to the solid defense in front of Jordan Binnington, the Boston Bruins are struggling to cash in offensively on the Blues goaltender. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Bruins fail to address this issue in Game 6 on Sunday they can forget about returning to Boston for Game 7. 

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs winger Patrick Marleau put his Toronto home up for sale. Recent trade rumors have him linked to the Arizona Coyotes and Los Angeles Kings. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marleau is coming off a down season and carries a $6.25-million annual cap hit through 2019-20. Still, he could be moved to a budget club if the Leafs bundle him with a quality draft pick or prospect or perhaps a young NHL-ready player.

It could take until early-July for a potential Marleau deal to go down. Cap Friendly indicates he’ll receive $3 million of his $4.25-million actual salary as a signing bonus on July 1. Interested clubs will likely prefer the Leafs pay that bonus. 

LAUSANNE HC: signed forward Josh Jooris to a three-year contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jooris spent five NHL seasons with the Calgary Flames, New York Rangers, Arizona Coyotes, Carolina Hurricanes, and Pittsburgh Penguins. He spent this season with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies.