NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 27, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 27, 2021

The Lightning and Islanders advance to the second round, the Wild force Game 7 with the Golden Knights, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning have advanced to the second round of the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs with a 4-0 victory over the Florida Panthers, winning their best-of-seven series in six games. Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy made 29 saves for the shutout, team captain Steven Stamkos had a goal and an assist while Pat Maroon tallied what proved to be the game-winning goal. Lightning forward Barclay Goodrow returned to action after missing six games with an upper-body injury.

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This ends the most entertaining series of the opening round. The Panthers were a worthy opponent but were overwhelmed by the depth and experience of the defending Stanley Cup champions.

Three-point performances by Brock Nelson and Anthony Beauvillier carried the New York Islanders to a 5-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins to eliminate the latter in six games. Ilya Sorokin kicked out 34 shots for the Isles, who go on to face the Boston Bruins in the second round.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders earned this victory with their hard work, smothering defense and timely scoring. Pittsburgh goalie Tristan Jarry’s shaky performance in this game and throughout that series raises questions about the depth in the Penguins crease. I’ll have more in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

A 23-save shutout by Cam Talbot gave the Minnesota Wild a 3-0 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 6 of their first-round series. Ryan Hartman, Kevin Fiala and Nick Bjugstad scored in the third period to force a seventh and deciding game back in Las Vegas on Friday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild have seized the momentum from the Golden Knights by overcoming a 3-1 series deficit to force a winner-take-all Game 7.

TSN: Maple Leafs captain John Tavares joined his teammates at their practice facility yesterday to get “re-acclimated” with his teammates, said Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe. Tavares suffered a concussion and knee injury in Game 1 of their current series with the Montreal Canadiens. He’s expected to be sidelined for at least two weeks.

Leafs center Nick Foligno remains day-to-day with a lower-body injury and is questionable for Game 5 tonight. Canadiens forwards Artturi Lehkonen (upper-body) and Jake Evans (undisclosed) did not travel with their teammates to Toronto for Game 5.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Bo Byram has returned to the lineup after being sidelined by a concussion since March 25.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Defenseman Ethan Bear and the Oilers spoke out yesterday after the 23-year-old was the target of racist attacks on social media following the club’s first-round elimination earlier this week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bear was singled out after a Game 4 turnover resulted in a goal by the Winnipeg Jets. It’s one thing to criticize his play but attacking his Cree heritage was a despicable move by racist cowards.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks have agreed not to sue Google or the City of San Jose after the franchise and the tech company reached a settlement over the latter’s plans to expand into downtown San Jose. The Sharks were concerned over the potential effect the expansion would have on parking at SAP Center.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 29, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 29, 2021

Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad could be sidelined for an extensive period, the Predators surge into a playoff spot, the regular-season schedule is extended to May 11, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: A serious leg injury suffered by Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad overshadowed his club’s 4-1 victory over the Dallas Stars. Ekblad fell awkwardly following a routine play along the corner boards with Stars blueliner Esa Lindell and was carried off the ice on a stretcher. Florida coach Joel Quenneville indicates Ekblad could be sidelined for an “extensive time.” Jonathan Huberdeau scored twice for the Panthers (48 points) as they sit two points behind the first-place Tampa Bay Lightning in the Discover Central Division.

Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ekblad was clutching his lower-left leg after crumpling to the ice. His absence will leave a big gap on the Panthers’ blueline at a time when they’re jockeying with the Lightning and Carolina Hurricanes for the top spot in their division. He’s their top defenseman, sitting fifth among their scoring leaders with 11 goals and 22 points.

Roman Josi’s third-period goal lifted the Nashville Predators over the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2. Alex DeBrincat scored both of Chicago’s goals. The Predators have won five straight and moved past the Blackhawks into fourth place in the Central Division. Both clubs have 37 points but the Preds hold a game in hand.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The higher Nashville rises in their division the more reluctant general manager David Poile could be to become a seller at the April 12 trade deadline. Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm is considered the top trade candidate but he could be unavailable if his club stays in playoff contention leading up to deadline day.

The Washington Capitals withstood a four-goal third period by the New York Rangers for a 5-4 victory. Tom Wilson scored twice, T.J. Oshie had a goal and two assists and Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin tallied his 724th career goal. Rangers forward Colin Blackwell scored two of his club’s third-period goals. The Capitals sit atop the MassMutual East Division with 50 points, two up on the second-place New York Islanders. The Rangers (34 points) remain five points behind the fourth-place Boston Bruins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin now has 18 goals on the season and sits three behind Toronto’s Auston Matthews and his league-leading 22 tallies. The Capitals captain is now seven goals behind Marcel Dionne, who sits fifth on the all-time goal-scoring list.

An overtime goal by Josh Manson enabled the Anaheim Ducks to upset the St. Louis Blues 3-2. Anthony Stolarz made 38 saves for the Ducks, who lost winger Rickard Rakell to an upper-body injury during a collision with Blues forward Kyle Clifford in the second period. Blues winger Mike Hoffman was a healthy scratch after scoring just two goals in his last 17 games. The Blues sit fourth in the West Division with 38 points, just one ahead of the Arizona Coyotes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues have dropped nine of their last 11 games. They scored three-or-more goals only three times during that stretch. GM Doug Armstrong is rumored to be in the market for a scorer but finding one who fits within his limited cap space won’t be easy. Hoffman’s struggles are part of the problem and damaging to his value as a free agent this summer.

Three third-period goals carried the Detroit Red Wings to a 4-1 upset of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Wings goalie Calvin Pickard made 16 saves for his second win in as many days. The loss leaves the Jackets with 34 points, three back of the Predators and Blackhawks in the Central.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jackets’ winger Patrik Laine has really struggled to score over the past month. In 16 games since Feb. 25, he’s tallied just one goal and three assists.

A 40-save shutout by Mackenzie Blackwood gave the New Jersey Devils a 1-0 win over the Boston Bruins. Kyle Palmieri tallied the only goal. The loss leaves the Bruins (39 points) seven points behind the third-place Pittsburgh Penguins and three up on the fifth-place Philadelphia Flyers in the East Division.

The NHL announced the extension of the regular season to May 11 to accommodate the rescheduling of postponed games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: John Shannon reports the league intends to start the playoffs as soon as possible, perhaps as early as May 12. Teams playing on the 10th and 11th would start the playoffs later in the week.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins forwards Mark Jankowski and Brandon Tanev came off the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list one day after being placed on the list.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Bo Byram is in concussion protocol since becoming injured during Thursday’s game against the Vegas Golden Knights. He remains day-to-day but head coach Jared Bednar didn’t rule out moving him to week-to-week.










10 NHL Rookies To Watch This Month

10 NHL Rookies To Watch This Month

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 18, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 18, 2021

Game recaps plus the latest on Patrik Laine, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, J.T. Miller, Erik Johnson, Jason Spezza and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Jake Guentzel tallied the only goal in a shootout as the Pittsburgh Penguins picked up their first win over the season by edging the Washington Capitals 4-3. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin scored his first of the season, moving to within one career goal of tying Mike Gartner (708) for seventh place on the all-time goal-scoring list.

Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jake Guentzel (NHL Images).

Three unanswered third-period goals by Eetu Luostarinen, Patric Hornqvist and Jonathan Huberdeau lifted the Florida Panthers to a 5-2 season-opening victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Huberdeau had a goal and two assists while teammate Keith Yandle tallied his 100th career goal in his 867th consecutive NHL game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trade rumors dogged Yandle last week amidst speculation he could become a healthy scratch, snapping his Ironman streak. It remains to be seen how things unfold for the veteran blueliner and the Panthers.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets winger Patrik Laine left practice yesterday with an apparent injury above his left hip. Head coach Paul Maurice shed little light on Laine’s status, adding he’ll see how the winger is doing on Monday. Laine is slated to travel with the team to Toronto.

AZCENTRAL: The Arizona Coyotes placed captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson on injured reserve. He’s slated to miss their next three games. Ekman-Larsson suffered a lower-body injury during Saturday’s 5-3 win over the San Jose Sharks following a hit from Sharks’ winger Evander Kane.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller returns to the lineup after missing the club’s first three games in coronavirus quarantine as a high-risk contact of teammate Jordie Benn.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche defensemen Erik Johnson and Bowen Byram will join their teammates after completing COVID-19 quarantine. Johnson missed all of training camp and the Avs’ first test games after testing positive for the coronavirus. Byram was in quarantine after traveling from Canada following the 2021 World Juniors in Edmonton.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs placed center Jason Spezza and goaltender Aaron Dell on waivers for the purpose of assigning them to their taxi squad. Spezza indicated he’ll retire immediately if claimed by another club. Dell, meanwhile, could be targeted by a club with goalie issues like the Edmonton Oilers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’ll learn their fate by noon ET today.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins placed defenseman Mike Matheson on injured reserve retroactive to Friday with an undisclosed ailment. Head coach Mike Sullivan said Matheson was injured during Friday’s loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues placed defenseman Robert Bortuzzo on injured reserve following a hit to the head suffered during Friday’s loss to the Colorado Avalanche. Bortuzzo was struck by the shoulder of Avs winger Valeri Nichushkin.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins winger Ondrej Kase is doubtful for Monday’s game against the New York Islanders. Kase suffered an upper-body injury during Saturday’s overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils.

CBS SPORTS: The Calgary Flames signed forward Brett Ritchie to a one-year, two-way contract. He’d attended Flames’ training camp on a professional tryout offer.










NHL Rumor Mill – January 7, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – January 7, 2021

Recent speculation on the Penguins, Avalanche and Rangers in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Josh Yohe recently reported Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford believes spending money in free agency will be pivotal to keeping his club competitive two years from now.

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (NHL Images).

Yohe believes the summer of 2022 could be crucial for the Penguins, as Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang will become eligible for unrestricted free agency. Malkin will be 36 by then, Letang 35. Rutherford feels it will be key to plug in one or two impact players in their mid-20s into the roster.

For now, Rutherford isn’t expected to make any immediate deals. He wants to evaluate the current roster to see what they have to offer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see if the Penguins move on from aging core players like Malkin and Letang next year or retain them on more affordable, short-term contracts. If Rutherford’s intent is to make a big splash or two in the 2022 free-agent market for younger impact players, there might not be enough cap space to retain those veteran stars.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Adrian Dater recently reported Bowen Byram’s solid performance for Canada during the 2021 World Junior Championship have the Colorado Avalanche considering a trade to free up a roster spot for the young defenseman.

Dater doubts this move would happen before February. Nevertheless, he considers Ian Cole a likely trade candidate. The veteran blueliner is eligible for UFA status this summer with a salary cap hit of $4.25 million for this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Byram has considerable potential and could crack the Avs’ lineup soon. However, there’s no need to rush him. They can take their time and see how things unfold.

Cole lacks no-trade protection but moving him won’t be easy. It could involve packaging him with a sweetener to a team with sufficient cap space to take on his contract.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the Rangers have checked in with free agent Brian Boyle. They need help in the faceoff circle plus there are questions about a vacuum of veteran leadership as well as the makeup and role of the fourth line.

Brooks feels the former Ranger could address those issues but the club informed Boyle they’re taking a wait-and-see approach with their young players. Meanwhile, several other clubs have also reached out to the veteran center.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 27, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 27, 2019

The latest on  Antti Raanta, Nolan Patrick, Alex Galchenyuk,and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

ARIZONA SPORTS: Oft-injured Coyotes goaltender Antti Raanta is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. An injured knee sidelined Raanta for 59 games last season.

Arizona Coyotes starting goalie Antti Raanta is day-to-day with a lower-body injury (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Raanta’s health was cause for concern entering this season. Fortunately for the Coyotes, they can rely on backup Darcy Kuemper. He was solid last season, winning a career-high 27 games for the offense-challenged Desert Dawgs, sporting a 2.33 goals-against average and .925 save percentage.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers center Nolan Patrick was diagnosed with a migraine disorder and is listed as week-to-week. He’ll miss the club’s season opener next week. General manager Chuck Fletcher said the club’s doctors don’t believe the disorder is linked to any previous hits.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tough break for Patrick, who struggled through a sophomore slump last season. Here’s hoping he makes a swift recovery.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins winger Alex Galchenyuk missed practice yesterday with an undisclosed injury that kept him out of the lineup for Wednesday’s preseason game. He’s listed as day-to-day.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Vegas Golden Knights winger Ryan Reaves expects to play in the club’s season opener next week. He’s been dealing with an undisclosed injury during the preseason.

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche sent highly touted prospect Bo Byram back to his junior team, the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League. Byram was the Avs first-round pick (fourth overall) in this year’s NHL Draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some observers expected Byram to crack the Avs lineup this season. Best to give him another season in junior rather than rush him into NHL action.

CBS SPORTS: The Boston Bruins signed defenseman Alex Petrovic to a one-year, two-way contract and placed him on waivers for the purpose of sending him to their AHL affiliate.

CALGARY SUN: The Flames promoted Chris Snow to assistant general manager.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Hall-of-Famer Guy Lafleur underwent successful quadruple-bypass surgery yesterday. He’s expected to make a full recovery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Get well soon, Flower!