NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 15, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 15, 2021

The Jets down the Leafs in their final regular-season game, Conference championship trophies won’t be awarded this season, plus the latest on Alex Ovechkin, Ondrej Kase and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Winnipeg Jets ended their regular season on a high note by doubling up the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2. Kyle Connor scored twice to finish the season with a team-leading 26 goals. The Leafs’ Auston Matthews was held pointless, finishing the season with a league-leading 41 goals.

Winnipeg Jets winger Kyle Connor (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both clubs will have several days off before they begin their respective first-round series. The Jets face off against the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday while the Leafs meet the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday.

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski reports the NHL won’t be handing out the Prince of Wales Trophy or the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl to the conference champions this season. The Prince of Wales Trophy is usually awarded to the Eastern Conference champion while the Campbell Bowl is awarded to the Western Conference champion.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The bright side is we won’t have to listen to any of the superstitious nonsense over whether the winning teams will touch those respective trophies. Because, of course, everyone knows touching those awards could determine the outcome of the Stanley Cup Final (end sarcasm mode).

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The lack of a new contract for Alex Ovechkin isn’t bothering Capitals owner Ted Leonsis. He said he and Ovechkin are focused on the upcoming playoffs.

Alex knows that if he plays five more years, 10 more years, whatever it is, we’ve got his back,” Leonsis said, adding the team’s commitment to his captain is to continue to have great teams. “We’ll spend to the cap, we’ll try to win championships. And that’s what he’s focused on because that’ll be his legacy.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin is completing a 13-year, $124 million contract. He and Leonsis agreed at the start of this season to put aside contract discussions until after the playoffs are over. Based on Leonsis’ comments, it sounds like Ovechkin won’t be going anywhere.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins winger Ondrej Kase won’t be playing in Game 1 of his club’s opening-round series against the Washington Capitals tonight. Kase suffered an upper-body injury unrelated to the suspected concussion that sidelined him for all but three games this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Whatever the issue, it sounds like Kase could miss more than just Game 1.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Penguins backup goaltender Casey DeSmith left Friday’s practice early to receive medical treatment after making a routine save. It’s suspected to be a lower-body injury. The Penguins open their first-round series against the New York Islanders on Sunday.

TSN: Minnesota Wild forward Ryan Hartman was fined $5,000.00 for a dangerous trip on St. Louis Blues forward Sammy Blais on Thursday.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators signed defenseman Artem Zub to a two-year, $5 million contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zub, 25, joined the Senators as a free agent from the KHL and played well in his first NHL season. He finished with 14 points in 47 games and a plus-minus of plus-4 while logging over 18 minutes of ice time per game.

SPORTSNET: Speaking of the Senators, team owner Eugene Melnyk declined to comment about lawsuits filed against five defendants by his traveling companions related to his Caribbean vacation last Christmas.

THE SCORE: cites a report by The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun indicating Alain Vigneault will return as head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers next season.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Speaking of returning coaches, Stars general manager Jim Nill confirmed Rick Bowness will be back behind the bench with his club next season. Nill also said forward Roope Hintz will undergo surgery next week in New York to repair a groin injury.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 8, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 8, 2021

A franchise record for Leafs’ goalie Jack Campbell, hat tricks for Leon Draisaitl and Kevin Fiala, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Toronto Maple Leafs’ goaltender Jack Campbell set a franchise record with his 10th consecutive win to hold off the Montreal Canadiens 3-2. Campbell made 32 saves while teammate Auston Matthews tallied his league-leading 28th goal of the season. Corey Perry scored twice for the Canadiens. The Leafs moved into first place in the league’s overall standings with 58 points as they hold a seven-point lead over the Edmonton Oilers for first in the Scotia North Division. The Canadiens remain in fourth with 43 points.

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell (NHL Images).

The Oilers, meanwhile, doubled up the Ottawa Senators 4-2 thanks to Leon Draisaitl’s hat trick. Draisaitl and Connor McDavid (three assists) each finished with four points on the night. The Oilers (50 points) hold a one-point lead over the third-place Winnipeg Jets.

A hat trick by Kevin Fiala (the first of his NHL career) powered the Minnesota Wild to an 8-3 drubbing of the Colorado Avalanche. Fiala finished with four points while Wild rookies Kirill Kapizov scored twice and collected an assist while Victor Rask and Jared Spurgeon each had three helpers. The Wild (50 points) snapped the Avalanche’s 15-game points streak and moved within two points of the second-place Vegas Golden Knights (52 points) in the Honda West Division.

Speaking of the Golden Knights, they dropped a 3-1 decision to the St. Louis Blues and remain four points back of the first-place Avalanche. Jordan Binnington made 50 saves and Vladimir Tarasenko netted his third goal of the season as the Blues (40 points) snapped a seven-game winless skid to move two points ahead of the San Jose Sharks into fifth place.

A three-goal outburst in the third period rallied the Los Angeles Kings over the Arizona Coyotes 4-3. The Coyotes remain in fourth place in the West with 43 points.

HEADLINES

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks have 21 players who’ve tested positive for COVID-19. As the cases spread among the team, the NHL remains committed to having the team complete its schedule. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league has a plan in place to allow the Canucks to complete the season.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild winger Zach Parise played his first game last night since March 22 after testing positive for COVID-19. He’s not fully convinced he had the coronavirus as he didn’t feel any symptoms.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars coach Rick Bowness rejoined his team in Chicago after a false positive COVID-19 test forced him into quarantine for the past two games.

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs’ winger William Nylander was held out of last night’s game against the Montreal Canadiens as a precaution after coming in contact with a potential positive COVID-19 case from outside the team.

Montreal Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher has been placed on long-term injury reserve as he’s expected to be sidelined at least six weeks with a fractured thumb.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will allow the Canadiens to exceed the cap by almost the equivalent of Gallagher’s $3.75 million cap hit if they decide to acquire another player before the 3 pm ET trade deadline on Monday.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets captain Blake Wheeler has been sidelined indefinitely by a concussion. It’s believed he suffered the injury after being elbowed in the head by Ottawa’s Brady Tkachuk during Monday’s game between the Jets and Senators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a big loss for the Jets. Wheeler usually skates at right wing on their top line though of late he’s also played on their second line. He’s fourth among their scorers with 10 goals and 32 points.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets forward Boone Jenner is out for six weeks with a broken finger.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A significant blow for the struggling Blue Jackets as they try to stay in playoff contention in the Discover Central Division. Jenner’s a big, hard-working forward who can play center or wing. They’ll miss his energy and physical game.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues winger Mike Hoffman was a healthy scratch from last night’s game against the Golden Knights. Head coach Craig Berube denied it has anything to do with his trade status, claiming it was his decision to put Sammy Blais into the lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hoffman’s come up in recent days as a trade candidate with the Blues’ playoff hopes fading. He could be playing elsewhere by Monday’s deadline.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks purchased AHL affiliate Rockford IceHogs and signed a new 15-year lease with the club’s arena.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 6, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 6, 2021

Recaps of Monday’s action, stars of the week, concern over growing COVID numbers on Canucks, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Auston Matthews scored twice and John Tavares picked up his 800th career points as the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Calgary Flames 5-3. Matthews has a league-leading 27 goals on the season as the Leafs sit atop the Scotia North Division with 55 points. Leafs goalie Jack Campbell extended his record to 9-0-0. Mikael Backlund scored two goals for the sputtering Flames, who’ve dropped eight of their last nine and sit sixth in the division with 35 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stick a fork in the Flames, folks, they’re done. They’re eight points out of a playoff spot in the North and show no sign of reversing their death spiral in the standings.

Montreal Canadiens center Eric Staal (NHL Images).

Eric Staal’s first goal with the Montreal Canadiens was an overtime winner in a 3-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. Staal made his debut over a week after being acquired from the Buffalo Sabres. It was a costly win for the Habs as winger Brendan Gallagher could be sidelined for weeks with a fractured thumb. With 43 points, the Canadiens sit five points behind the third-place Oilers in the North.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The feisty Gallagher will be difficult to replace. The Habs are pressed against the salary cap. If Gallagher’s out until the playoffs perhaps GM Marc Bergevin will place him on long-term injury reserve. It would free up $3.75 million to put toward pursuing a forward or defenseman before the April 12 trade deadline.

The Winnipeg Jets survived a late push by the Ottawa Senators for a 4-3 victory. Pierre-Luc Dubois tallied twice for the Jets (49 points), who sit one point up on the Oilers for second place in the North Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This game wasn’t as close as the score suggests. The Jets dominated the Senators, outshooting them 46-23.

A four-goal second period enabled the Colorado Avalanche to hold off the Minnesota Wild by a score of 5-4. Nathan MacKinnon and Andre Burakovsky each had a goal and an assist for the Avalanche, extending their points streak to 15 games and sitting in first place in the Honda West Division with 56 points. Ryan Hartman had a goal and two assists for the Wild. With 48 points, they are third in the West.

The Vegas Golden Knights picked up their first win in four games by downing the St. Louis Blues 6-1. Alec Martinez scored twice and Alex Pietrangelo picked up an assist in his first game in St. Louis since the former Blues captain signed with Vegas in the offseason. The Golden Knights are second in the West with 52 points while the struggling Blues are sixth with 38 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Two years after winning the Stanley Cup and a year after finishing with the best record in the Western Conference, the Blues are in serious danger of missing the playoffs. They’re winless in their last seven (0-6-1), tallying just eight goals in that stretch.

Michael Bunting’s first career NHL hat trick powered the Arizona Coyotes over the Los Angeles Kings 5-2. Adin Hill kicked out 36 shots for his third straight win as the surging Coyotes (43 points) hold a five-point lead over the Blues and San Jose Sharks for fourth in the West.

The Philadelphia Flyers edged the Boston Bruins 3-2 on an overtime goal by Travis Sanheim. The Flyers moved to within three points of the fourth-place Bruins (44 points) in the MassMutual East Division. Bruins goalie Jaroslav Halak missed the game after testing positive for COVID-19.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal, San Jose Sharks goaltender Martin Jones, and Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending April 4, 2021.

The list of Vancouver Canucks on the NHL’s COVID protocol list grew to 17 players as Nils Hoglander tested positive. The league has extended the postponement of Canucks games to April 10.

TSN: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly expressed concern over the Canucks’ COVID numbers but remains confident the team will be able to complete its 56-game schedule.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will depend upon how many more Canucks test positive, the severity of their symptoms, how long they’ll be sidelined, and if this outbreak remains contained to the team. The league has a buffer week of May 10-14 to allow for rescheduled games to be completed.

DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars head coach Rick Bowness remains hopeful his COVID test result on Sunday turns out to be a false positive. He’s fully vaccinated and said he feels fine despite the positive test. If his follow-up test is negative he’ll be unable to rejoin the Stars in time for tonight’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks due to the NHL’s COVID protocols.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins forward Brandon Tanev is listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury.

ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks have sent rookie forward Trevor Zegras to their AHL affiliate in San Diego. The Ducks were pleased with the promising youngster’s play as a winger but want to give him more experience at center. It’s expected he’ll return to the Ducks before the end of the season.

NEW YORK POST: A Minnesota medical examiner ruled the March 3 death of Mark Pavelich a suicide. The former Team USA and NHL forward was receiving treatment at the Eagle’s Healing Nest in Minnesota as part of his civil commitment for assaulting his neighbor in August 2019. He was diagnosed with a mild neurocognitive disorder due to traumatic brain injury, likely related to repeated head injuries.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Once again, my condolences to Pavelich’s friends, family and former teammates.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 5, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 5, 2021

Another milestone for Alex Ovechkin, Kyle Palmieri withheld from Devils game, the Panthers sit atop the overall standings, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Alex Ovechkin tied Brett Hull for the second-most career power-play goals in NHL history as the Washington Capitals held on for a 5-4 win over the New Jersey Devils. Ovechkin and Hull each have 265 power-play goals, nine behind all-time leader Dave Andreychuk at 274. Ovechkin is also at 725 career goals, six behind Marcel Dionne for fifth on the all-time list.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

With 54 points, the Capitals sit two points up on the New York Islanders for first place in the MassMutual East Division. The Devils held winger Kyle Palmieri out of this game in anticipation of a potential trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll have more on Palmieri’s situation in today’s Rumor Mill update.

The Florida Panthers moved into first overall in the NHL standings by blanking the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-0. Panthers’ goaltender Chris Driedger made 32 saves for the shutout while captain Aleksander Barkov had a goal and an assist. The Panthers have 56 points and hold a two-point lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Discover Central Division while the Blue Jackets remain in seventh with 36 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The red-hot Panthers have won six straight games. Four of those victories came without top defenseman Aaron Ekblad, who’s out for the rest of the regular season with a fractured leg. The Jackets, meanwhile, have won just three of their last 10 games and are falling further out of playoff contention.

The Lightning, meanwhile, suffered a 5-1 defeat at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings, who picked up their first win in Tampa Bay since 2011. Second-period goals by Valtteri Filppula, Michael Rasmussen and Marc Staal powered the Wings to victory. The Lightning (54 points) sits one point ahead of the third-place Carolina Hurricanes.

Speaking of the Hurricanes, they edged the Dallas Stars 1-0 on a goal by Jordan Martinook. Goaltender Petr Mrazek kicked out 28 shots for the shutout in his first game since being sidelined by a broken thumb on Jan. 30. Stars coach Rick Bowness left the game following the second period and was placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list following a positive test result. The Stars (36 points) remain five points out of the fourth and final playoff berth in the Central.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bowness received his COVID vaccination in January. General manager Jim Nill is hopeful this was a false positive as it was what he called a “very low grade” of test result. Goaltender Anton Khudobin missed his scheduled start on Saturday following a positive test but he was removed yesterday from the protocol list after a subsequent negative result.

Third-period goals by John Tavares and Auston Matthews lifted the Toronto Maple Leafs over the Calgary Flames 4-2. Matthews is now at a league-leading 25 goals on the season as the Leafs (53 points) open a six-point lead over the second-place Edmonton Oilers in the Scotia North Division. The Jets are tied with the Oilers with 47 points but the latter has more regulation victories.

A hat trick by Jakob Chychrun carried the Arizona Coyotes over the Anaheim Ducks by a score of 3-2. The Coyotes sit in fourth place in the Honda West Division with 41 points and hold a three-point lead over the St. Louis blues.

THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma reports the number of Vancouver Canucks on the COVID-19 protocol list officially grew to 16 when Jalen Chatfield and Marc Michaelis tested positive yesterday. However, an NHL source claims more than 20 Canucks players and coaches have tested positive with some experiencing symptoms of the Brazilian P.1 variant.

TSN’s Darren Dreger reported Canucks family members are also contracting the coronavirus. He added the variant symptoms including vomiting, cramping and dehydration. However, a source told Postmedia the numbers vary and that it’s under 20. The source also said there haven’t been reports of severe symptoms, with most experiencing mild headaches, fever, fatigue and lethargy, with no reports of vomiting.

The training staff said few Canucks have had severe symptoms. Most are said to be feeling better, with just one player having had an IV administered.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping those symptoms remain mild and those infected make a swift and full recovery. The Canucks are likely to be shut down for at least two weeks by the league given their high number of infections. That’s how long the Dallas Stars and New Jersey Devils were sidelined following their respective outbreaks earlier this season.










Dallas Stars Stumbling At Quarter-Point Of The NHL Season

Dallas Stars Stumbling At Quarter-Point Of The NHL Season

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 30, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 30, 2020

The Sabres avoid arbitration with Victor Olofsson, the Stars name Rick Bowness as a full-time coach, former Panthers GM Dale Tallon cleared of wrongdoing, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres avoided salary arbitration with Victor Olofsson by reaching an agreement on a two-year, $6.1 million contract.

Buffalo Sabres winger Victor Olofsson (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Olofsson had an impressive first full NHL season, scoring 20 goals and 42 points in 54 games to become a finalist for the 2019-20 Calder Trophy as rookie of the year. This is a reasonable raise for the 25-year-old winger, who becomes a restricted free agent with arbitration rights in 2022.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars removed the interim tag from head coach Rick Bowness’ job title as he signed a two-year contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise. Bowness took over behind the bench on Dec. 10 and guided the Stars to the 2020 Stanley Cup Final.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The NHL has cleared former Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon of wrongdoing following an investigation into whether he used racially-charged language during the club’s time in the Toronto playoff bubble.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tallon was reportedly being considered for an advisory role with the Pittsburgh Penguins. This could clear the way for his new job but is being greeted with criticism by some observers.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes are renouncing the rights of 2020 fourth-round pick, Mitchell Miller, after reports emerged of his bullying and racially taunting an African-American classmate with developmental issues four years ago.

THE DENVER POST: Former Colorado Avalanche winger Colin Wilson discussed his struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder, as well as drug and alcohol abuse, in The Players’ Tribune on Thursday. The 31-year-old center also indicated hip injuries may have brought his NHL career to a close. He’s now sober, receiving therapy and back in New England preparing for the next step in his life.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wilson spent 11 seasons in the NHL with the Nashville Predators and the Avalanche, tallying 113 goals and 286 points in 632 games. Best wishes to him in his future endeavors.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon has an option to sell the club back to former owner Peter Karmanos. While the coronavirus is affecting the NHL’s economics, Dundon doesn’t believe it will affect his ownership of the club. “I don’t have any intention of not owning the team,” he said.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning officially announced the signings of Patrick Maroon and Luke Schenn. The pair signed new contracts with the Lightning on Oct. 9.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks have loaned center Kirby Dach to Team Canada’s roster for the 2021 World Junior Championships.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A wise decision by the Blackhawks. This will allow Dach to get in some meaningful playing time under a quarantine bubble in Edmonton as he and the Hawks await the start of the 2020-21 season.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets signed restricted free agent defenseman Sami Niku to a two-year contract worth an annual average value of $725K.

NORTHJERSEY.COM: The New Jersey Devils signed defenseman Colton White to a one-year, two-way contract.

TVA SPORTS: The Montreal Canadiens have been refused access to their practice facility in Brossard by public health officials. The facility is within a COVID-19 red zone.

SPORTSNET: Travis Roy, who was left paralyzed in his first college hockey game with Boston University in 1995, has died at age 45. He went on to become an advocate for spinal cord injury survivors both in and outside the sports world, raising over $9 million through the Travis Roy Foundation. He also worked in tandem with the Boston Bruins, with team president Cam Neely and former Bruins defenseman Ray Bourque among those extending condolences.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My sympathies to Roy’s family, friends, and former teammates. Neely put it best when he called him “the ultimate symbol of determination and courage.”