NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 1, 2022
The Avalanche hold off the Oilers in a high-scoring Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, plus the latest on Igor Shesterkin, Andrei Vasilevskiy, Jordan Binnington and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines
NHL.COM: The Colorado Avalanche took Game 1 of the 2022 Western Conference Finals by holding off the Edmonton Oilers 8-6. Cale Makar lead the way for the Avalanche with a goal and two assists, J.T. Compher scored twice while Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen each had a goal and an assist. Connor McDavid had a goal and two assists, Leon Draisaitl collected two helpers and Evander Kane and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins each had a goal and an assist for the Oilers. Game 2 goes Thursday night in Denver.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Makar’s goal late in the first period generated some controversy when it appeared teammate Valeri Nichushkin was offside. However, the Oilers lost the coach’s challenge when it was deemed Makar didn’t actually cross the blueline and take possession of the puck until after Nichushkin tagged up. The Avs made it 4-2 on the subsequent power play and never trailed after that.
Both starting goaltenders didn’t finish this game. The Oilers’ Mike Smith was replaced by Mikko Koskinen in the second period after giving up six goals on 25 shots. Meanwhile, an upper-body injury forced the Avs’ Darcy Kuemper to leave the game soon after Smith’s departure. Pavel Francouz took over for Kuemper. Smith will likely return for Game 2 but Kuemper’s status is unknown at this time.
Give the Oilers credit for battling back after falling behind 7-3 late in the second period. Smith didn’t look sharp on the Avs’ first goal but wasn’t at fault for the other five that eluded him. His teammates struggled to defend against the Avalanche’s speed and puck-possession game, which at times turned the Oilers’ zone into a shooting gallery.
NEW YORK POST: Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin is looking forward to facing Tampa Bay Lightning starter Andrei Vasilevskiy when the puck drops on the Eastern Conference Finals on Wednesday. Shesterkin was the Rangers’ regular-season MVP and he’s a finalist for the Vezina Trophy. However, he praised Vasilevskiy, calling him “the best goalie in the world right now.”
NHL.COM: Speaking of Vasilevskiy, he’s trying to become the first goaltender to backstop his team to three straight Stanley Cups since Hall-of-Famer Billy Smith with the New York Islanders in 1982.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This should be an entertaining matchup between the two best goalies in the league. Shesterkin was 3-0-0 against the Lightning this season with a 1.30 goals-against average and .958 save percentage. However, Vasilevskiy has a well-deserved reputation for elevating his game in postseason competition, winning the Conn Smythe Trophy last season.
THE SCORE: St. Louis Blues netminder Jordan Binnington admitted he threw an empty water bottle at Avalanche center Nazem Kadri following Game 3 of their second-round series. Binnington was upset with suffering a series-ending injury following a collision with Kadri earlier in the game. “I just felt it was a God-given opportunity,” he said.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A futile attempt at payback by Binnington, whose temper sometimes gets the better of him. The report noted the two players have a history. During a game in October, Binnington swung his stick at Kadri’s head but didn’t make contact.
TSN: Montreal Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes said his club is considering all its options regarding the 2022 draft. He said they had not yet decided which player they’ll select but will reach a decision by July.
Hughes also said the club is still awaiting clarity on the status of Carey Price’s injured knee. He indicated the goalie has not seen additional doctors since visiting a specialist at the end of this season. They can place him on long-term injured reserve if they know he’s unable to play next season.
The Canadiens GM indicated they intend to soon finalize a new contract for head coach Martin St. Louis. He also shot down a rumor from a Russian media outlet claiming his club won’t be selecting Russian-born players in this year’s draft. (UPDATE: The Canadiens announced this morning that St. Louis signed a three-year extension)
NHL.COM: Speaking of the draft, the league released the draft order for selections 17 through 28. The final four positions will be determined by the outcome of the Conference Finals and the Stanley Cup Final. The Canadiens hold the first-overall pick after winning the draft lottery last month.