NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 9, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 9, 2022

The Lightning, Bruins, Kings and Blues tie their best-of-seven first-round series at two games apiece. Check out the details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning took a 5-0 lead after two periods over the Toronto Maple Leafs on route to a 7-3 victory, tying their best-of-seven opening-round playoff series at two games apiece. Ross Colton scored twice while Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman and Brandon Hagel each collected two assists. William Nylander tallied two goals for the Leafs while teammate Jack Campbell was pulled after giving up five goals on 16 shots. The series returns to Toronto for Game 5 on Tuesday night.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs are learning the hard way that the defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning rises to the occasion when their backs are to the wall. At least the Lightning hasn’t held a lead in this series but that could change if the Leafs come out with another flat effort in Game 5.

Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand (NHL Images).

Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand scored twice and set up three others to lead his club over the Carolina Hurricanes 5-2 to square their first-round series at two games each. Patrice Bergeron had a goal and two assists and David Pastrnak scored and picked up a helper. Jeremy Swayman got the win with a 24-save performance while Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy missed this game due to COVID protocol. Game 5 is in Carolina on Tuesday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ill-disciplined play proved costly for the Hurricanes as the Bruins went two-for-nine on the power play. Marchand was also his usual pesky self, getting into the head of Hurricanes defenseman Tony DeAngelo by appearing to call him a racist during a heated exchange. Meanwhile, Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour was frustrated when his challenge of Jake DeBrusk’s tying goal in the second period for goalie interference was ruled as incidental contact while attempting to make a play with the puck loose in the crease.

Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick made 31 saves to shut out the Edmonton Oilers 4-0 to tie their series at 2-2. He set the playoff shutout record (10) for American-born NHL netminders. Carl Grundstrom scored two goals and collected an assist while Trevor Moore and Troy Stecher each had a goal and an assist. The series shifts back to Edmonton on Tuesday night for Game 5.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings looked done like dinner following lopsided losses in the previous two games. Quick’s superb goaltending and the Kings’ veteran leadership were crucial in this series-tying win. The Oilers played as though they were expecting another easy victory. This game should be a wake-up call that they’re facing an opponent they cannot take lightly.

The St. Louis Blues got a 28-save effort from Jordan Binnington in his 2022 postseason debut to tame the Minnesota Wild 5-2 and even their series at two games apiece. Jordan Kyrou scored two goals while Ryan O’Reilly and David Perron each picked up three points. Kirill Kaprizov and Matt Boldy replied for the Wild. The two sides face off in Minnesota for Game 5 on Tuesday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues’ revolving door blueline continued in this game as Scott Perunovich returned to action for the first time since January while Marco Scandella left this game with a lower-body injury. It’s possible Nick Leddy, Robert Bortuzzo or both could return for Game 5.

HEADLINES

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper escaped a serious eye injury on Saturday but swelling could keep him out of Game 4 against the Nashville Predators on Monday. The injury occurred in Game 3 when the blade of Predators center Ryan Johansen’s stick accidentally poked through the cage of Kuemper’s mask. Johansen was remorseful over the incident and was glad to hear the Avs goalie wasn’t seriously hurt.

ASSOCIATED PRESS: Teresa Walker reports Predators coach John Hynes said starting goalie Juuse Saros will not be playing in Game 4 against the Avs. He’s been sidelined since April 26 by a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Predators down 3-0 in this series it would be folly to put Saros in net if he’s not fully recovered.

NHL.COM: Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn was fined $5,000.00 by the NHL department of player safety for high-sticking Calgary Flames winger Andrew Mangiapane during Game 3 of their first-round series on Saturday.

Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov received the same fine for a similar infraction against Florida Panthers forward Noel Acciari in Game 3 of their series on Saturday.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Speaking of the Capitals, winger Tom Wilson remains day-to-day with a lower-body injury. An update on his status is expected later today before Game 4 against the Panthers.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 7, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 7, 2022

Devils center Jack Hughes enters COVID protocol, Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour considers the Panthers a juggernaut, the Wild look like Stanley Cup contenders, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

ESPN.COM: New Jersey Devils center Jack Hughes was placed on the NHL’s COVID protocol list after participating in the 2022 All-Star Game over the weekend.

New Jersey Devils center Jack Hughes (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see how many other All-Star participants join Hughes on the protocol list.

SPORTSNET (via THE SCORE): Carolina Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour praised the Florida Panthers when asked about them during an interview on Friday. “That’s the juggernaut for me,” he said, commending the club’s management for the “great job” it did to construct the roster. “There’s no weaknesses,” said Brind’Amour.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers could get even better if they land a top-four, left-side defenseman before the March 21 trade deadline. Their only real weakness is the lack of playoff success. Perhaps that will change this year.

TWINCITIES.COM: Dane Mizutani points out the Minnesota Wild’s current record of 28 wins, 10 losses and three overtime losses is a franchise-best after 41 games. He cites several factors, including the one-two scoring punch of Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello, that makes them legitimate Stanley Cup contenders this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild’s lack of experienced depth at center could hold them back, but there’s no question they’ve become a rising force since last season in the Western Conference.

PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW (via THE SCORE): Penguins president of hockey operations Brian Burke praised general manager Ron Hextall’s support of Tristan Jarry after the latter’s struggles during last year’s playoffs. Jarry is enjoying a bounce-back performance this season. He’s among this season’s top netminders and played in the 2022 All-Star Game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hextall ignored calls to find a replacement for Jarry via trade or free agency last summer. Some observers still believe the Penguins should go shopping for a goalie but those calls are now for a reliable backup for Jarry.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks fired long-time Rockford Icehogs head athletic trainer D.J. Jones in November for sexual harassment that allegedly took place in 2014 but didn’t come to light until recently.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can’t find the words to describe my reaction to this story given everything about the Blackhawks organization that’s preceded this report. Disgust doesn’t seem sufficient to cover it.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators are among the Canadian clubs that approached the NHL about playing some home games within the stringent rules in Ontario regarding large gatherings that are in place until March.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 1, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 1, 2021

Filip Forsberg enjoys a four-goal performance, the Panthers and Blues turn deficits into victories, the Devils re-sign Jack Hughes, Rod Brind’Amour and Brendan Lemieux fined, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Filip Forsberg scored four goals as the Nashville Predators thumped the Columbus Blue Jackets 6-0. Forsberg also reached his 400th career point in this contest. Juuse Saros made 27 saves for the shutout while Mikael Granlund collected four assists.

Nashville Predators winger Filip Forsberg (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Forsberg now has 10 goals and 15 points in just 13 games. Granlund, meanwhile, has 25 points in just 22 games. He had a combined 57 points over the last two seasons but should exceed that total this season at his current rate of production.

Four unanswered third-period goals lifted the Florida Panthers to a 5-4 victory over the Washington Capitals. Sam Reinhart buried the winner with just 15 seconds remaining in regulation. Jonathan Huberdeau and Aaron Ekblad each collected three assists for the Panthers.

Ryan O’Reilly scored the only goal in a shootout as the St. Louis Blues overcame a 3-0 deficit to drop the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3. O’Reilly also scored in regulation while Jordan Binnington settled down from a shaky first period to make 30 saves for the win. Lightning captain Steven Stamkos missed the game to attend the birth of his second child while Erik Cernak returned to the Bolts lineup after missing eight games with an upper-body injury.

Dallas Stars forward Roope Hintz tallied a hat trick as his club downed the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1. Joe Pavelski also scored for the Stars and collected two assists while Braden Holtby picked up the win with a 39-save performance. Earlier in the day, the NHL fined Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour $25,000.00 for inappropriate conduct during Sunday’s game against the Capitals. Brind’Amour yelled at the referees late in the game over a slashing call against Sebastian Aho that gave the Capitals a 5-on-3 power play.

Shootout goals by Trevor Zegras and Kevin Shattenkirk lifted the Anaheim Ducks over the Los Angeles Kings 5-4. The Kings rallied back from a 4-1 deficit in the third to tie the game. Kings defenseman Drew Doughty returned to the lineup for the first time since suffering a knee injury on Oct. 22. The Kings also played without winger Brendan Lemieux, who was suspended five games for biting Ottawa Senators captain Brady Tkachuk on Saturday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In the “Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From The Tree Department”, Brendan and his father Claude Lemieux hold the dubious honor of being the first father/son duo in NHL history to be suspended for biting opponents during their respective careers.

The Detroit Red Wings got a 41-save performance from Alex Nedeljkovic as they nipped the Boston Bruins 2-1. Marc Staal broke a 1-1 tie in the third period. The Bruins were playing without Brad Marchand (three-game suspension) and head coach Bruce Cassidy after he was placed in COVID protocol yesterday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Speaking of COVID protocols, the NHL sent a memo to its 32 teams yesterday outlining a series of new measures designed to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Those steps include canceling team Christmas parties, charity events and autograph sessions.

A 5-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes moved the Minnesota Wild into a tie with the Calgary Flames for first place in the Western Conference standings. Jordan Greenway had a goal and two assists while Kirill Kaprizov had a goal and an assist. Clayton Keller scored and set up another for the Coyotes.

Timo Meier scored twice and James Reimer kicked out 32 shots as the San Jose Sharks beat the New Jersey Devils 5-2. Devils center Jack Hughes returned to the lineup after missing 17 games with a dislocated shoulder. Earlier in the day, the Devils announced Hughes signed an eight-year, $64-million contract extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils are making a major investment in the 20-year-old Hughes after just 120 games and 55 points since 2019-20. He’s shown considerable potential since last season but will face a lot of pressure to meet the expectations that come with this contract. If he does, this could turn into a worthwhile deal for one of their core players.

HEADLINES

THE SCORE: Evander Kane downplayed reports from earlier this summer claiming his San Jose Sharks teammates were frustrated by his behavior and didn’t want him back on the team this season. He said his end-of-season interview with management was positive, singling out how well he worked with the younger players and praising his performance. Kane cleared waivers Monday and reported to the AHL’s San Jose Barracudas, where he took part in his first practice with the team on Tuesday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Meanwhile, there were reports during the offseason claiming the Sharks attempted to trade Kane earlier in the summer. They’re reportedly trying to do so again. Draw your own conclusions, folks.

CBC SPORTS: Quebec Remparts general manager and coach Patrick Roy has expressed interest in the Montreal Canadiens’ vacant general manager position. “Since 1993, this club has been running in circles,” said the Canadiens Hall-of-Famer. “What do they have to lose by giving me a chance, and seeing what I can do with this club?”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The issue would be whether the temperamental Roy could work well with Jeff Gorton, the Canadiens’ new executive VP of hockey operations. That might not be possible given his departure from the Colorado Avalanche in 2016 over a disagreement regarding the direction of that club. The last thing the Habs will want is their next GM butting heads with Gorton and turning their disagreements into a media circus.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers placed defenseman Cody Ceci in COVID protocol yesterday. The club also canceled Tuesday’s practice and order two rounds of tests.

TSN: Ottawa Senators center Shane Pinto underwent season-ending shoulder surgery. They also traded minor leaguer Kole Sherwood to the Nashville Predators for future considerations.










Random Thoughts on the NHL – June 21, 2021

Random Thoughts on the NHL – June 21, 2021

Some NHL followers were grumbling on social media over how the Vegas Golden Knights got more favorable expansion draft rules compared to previous clubs entering the league. Those complaints arose during the Golden Knights march to the 2018 Stanley Cup Final and resurfaced as they reached this year’s semifinals

The previous rules hamstrung the expansion franchises of the 1990s, ensuring for some a long, difficult road toward playoff contention. Some struggled longer than others, largely because of impatient owners, incompetent management or both.

In hindsight, the Golden Knights benefited from those changes to the expansion draft rules. But let’s be honest folks, no one looked at their initial roster and thought, oh, yeah, that’s an instant Cup contender.

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (NHL Images).

Their most notable player was goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, considered past his prime by that time. There were also several skilled veterans in Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith, David Perron and James Neal, plus some promising players like Shea Theodore, Alex Tuch and William Karlsson. The rest of the lineup was comprised mostly of depth players.

Anyone who declared the Golden Knights a playoff contender entering 2017-18 would’ve been considered naive. Those declaring them a Cup contender would’ve been dismissed as lunatics.

Yet here they are four years later, a club with a solid foundation forged by the former general manager (now team president) George McPhee and built up by current GM Kelly McCrimmon, well-coached first by Gerard Gallant and now Peter DeBoer.

It wasn’t favorable expansion draft rules that made the Golden Knights what they are today. It was savvy management and coaching, something the Seattle Kraken hope to emulate approaching their inaugural campaign.

*****

One benefit of this season’s compacted NHL schedule is we don’t have to endure the cringe-worthy train wreck of the league’s annual award show. Instead, the individual awards are announced by the league, with the winner giving his acceptance speech from his home via Zoom or Skype.

It’s so much better than seeing NHL stars gathered in Las Vegas chafing in their finery enduring has-been musical acts and unfunny comedy routines. This year’s winners seem almost relieved they don’t have to go through that dog-and-pony show.

The league should make this a permanent change but they won’t. The powers-that-be think hockey fans want to watch their favorite stars sitting through its lame-ass version of the Academy Awards. Most couldn’t care less. Those who do so only for the opportunity to mercilessly mock it on social media.

*****

Loyalty is a big reason why Carolina Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour turned his club into a rising force among NHL teams. It played a part in why he’s this year’s winner of the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year.

The Hurricanes wanted to re-sign Brind’Amour and he wanted to stay on one condition: that his entire coaching staff also received new contracts. It took weeks to hash out the details but the two sides got it done.

Brind’Amour was a team guy when he was a player and he’s the same as a coach. That’s why his players work as hard as they do for him. It’s why the Hurricanes have a bright future as long as ownership ensures Brind’Amour has the players he needs to contend for the Stanley Cup.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 18, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 18, 2021

The Lightning regains the lead in their semifinal series with the Islanders, Rod Brind’Amour wins the Jack Adams Award and re-signs with the Hurricanes, the GM of the Year finalists are revealed, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Brayden Point’s goal late in the second period held up as the winner as the Tampa Bay Lightning nipped the New York Islanders 2-1 to take a two games to one lead in their semifinal series. Point has a six-game point streak and leads all postseason scorers with 11 goals. Yanni Gourde opened the scoring in the first for the Lightning and Cal Clutterbuck tied it in the second. Game 4 is Saturday evening on Long Island.

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Brayden Point (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning caught a break when Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech received a questionable penalty for interfering with Nikita Kucherov. While they killed that off, the Bolts scored four seconds after Pelech left the box.

Despite that call, the Islanders had plenty of time to even the score but couldn’t generate sufficient offense against the Lightning’s close checking. The Bolts beat the Isles at their own game last night.

Carolina Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour is this year’s winner of the Jack Adams Award. He also signed a three-year contract extension after guiding the Hurricanes to their first division title since 2005-06.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The contract negotiations dragged on for weeks but this had an air of inevitability about it. The delay was due to final details being hashed out for new contracts for Brind’Amour’s coaching staff.

Marc Bergevin of the Montreal Canadiens, Lou Lamoriello of the New York Islanders, and Bill Zito of the Florida Panthers are this year’s finalists for the Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year Award. The award is voted on by the league’s general managers and a panel of NHL executives and media following the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

NHLPA: Toronto’s Auston Matthews was named the NHL’s best goal-scorer, Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman named the best defenseman and his teammate Andrei Vasilevskiy the best goalie in the 2020-21 NHLPA player poll.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of particular note in this poll was over 68 percent of the players don’t want to see the regional division format carried forward from this season. Over 66 percent, however, would like to see the series-style schedule continue.

We already knew the league will return to its traditional conference and divisional format next season. It’ll be interesting to see if the players’ view on the series-style format carries any weight next season’s schedule is drawn up.

Colorado Avalanche center Carl Soderberg is returning home, signing a two-year contract with the Malmo RedHawks of the Swedish Hockey League. He began his playing career with the RedHawks before embarking on a nine-year NHL career with the Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, Chicago Blackhawks and Arizona Coyotes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This likely spells the end of the 35-year-old Soderberg’s NHL career. He had 110 goals and 297 points in 597 games.

TSN: Rick Westhead reports Chicago Blackhawks senior management allegedly refused to report allegations of sexual assault of two players by a former video coach to the local police during the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A superb piece of investigative journalism by Westhead. A lawsuit filed by one of the two players against the Blackhawks is ongoing. A club spokesman declined to comment because this is an active litigation matter.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild signed a new affiliate deal with the ECHL’s Iowa Heartlanders.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – June 13, 2021

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – June 13, 2021

Will the Bruins re-sign Taylor Hall? Could the Oilers target Jake DeBrusk? Can the Hurricanes afford to re-sign Dougie Hamilton? Check out the latest in the Sunday NHL rumor roundup.

LATEST ON THE BRUINS

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: On Friday, Nick Goss reported Taylor Hall is hoping to return with the Bruins. “I see a fit, and hopefully they feel the same way,” he said during his season-ending press conference.

Boston Bruins left wing Taylor Hall (NHL Images).

The 29-year-old left-winger played well after being acquired from the Buffalo Sabres at the trade deadline. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28.

Hall indicated he’s not looking to maximize his value at this point in his career. That suggests he’s looking more for term than dollars this time around. Goss believes the Bruins must re-sign Hall, pointing to their lack of secondary scoring depth without him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Hall is looking at no more than $6 million annually, the Bruins could re-sign him to perhaps a four or five-year deal.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jim Matheson wondered if the Oilers should attempt to acquire winger Jake DeBrusk from the Bruins. The 24-year-old winger seems to have lost his way in Boston, spending time on his off-wing shuffling between the second and third lines.

The Bruins need to free up some cap space if they hope to re-sign Hall, David Krejci and Tuukka Rask. DeBrusk and his $3.65 million cap hit for next season could be manageable on the Oilers’ second line.

Matheson also wondered if the Oilers could have their eye on older, most-costly pending UFA left-wingers like Brandon Saad or Zach Hyman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins were said to be concerned about giving up on DeBrusk too soon and watch him blossom elsewhere. That could change, however, if they need to clear cap room to retain older veterans. It could also depend upon what type of offers they get for DeBrusk. His status could be worth monitoring this summer.

UPDATE ON THE HURRICANES

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The respective contract statuses of defenseman Dougie Hamilton and head coach Rod Brind’Amour top Chip Alexander’s list of pressing questions facing the Carolina Hurricanes this summer.

Hamilton, 27, is due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28. Coming off a deal with an annual average value of $5.75 million, he could look around and see Washington’s John Carlson earning $8 million annually, Nashville’s Roman Josi making $9 million per, Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman checking in at $7.875 million and Minnesota’s Jared Spurgeon at $7.57 million.

Brind’Amour is adamant about keeping his coaching staff together before re-signing with the Hurricanes. Alexander wondered if that’s become a snag in the contract talks.

Alexander also wondered if this season was the last for pending UFAs Petr Mrazek, Brock McGinn and Jordan Martinook.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Ben Pope believes Hamilton could be the game-changing defenseman the Blackhawks need if he hits the open market next season. While recent rumors tied the Hawks to Columbus’ Seth Jones, Pope noted Jones’ offensive stats have declined in recent years. It would also cost the Blackhawks some young assets to acquire Jones in a trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hamilton wants to stay in Carolina and the Hurricanes want to keep him. Unless he’s willing to accept a little less than market value, the Hurricanes will have to pay big bucks to keep him. That could affect efforts to re-sign some of their other UFAs.

Hamilton would draw plenty of suitors on the open market. Whether the Blackhawks would be among them remains to be seen. They could prefer more affordable short-term options while waiting for young defensemen such as Adam Boqvist and Ian Mitchell to reach their potential.