NHL Offseason Lookahead – Chicago Blackhawks
Recaps of Sunday’s games plus updates on Mark Schiefele, Patrik Laine, Tuukka Rask, Dougie Hamilton, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Nazem Kadri scored with a fraction of a second remaining in the game to lift the Colorado Avalanche over the St. Louis Blues 2-1 in round-robin play. Ryan Graves also scored for the Avs while Philipp Grubauer made 31 stops. David Perron tallied the sole Blues’ goal while Jordan Binnington made 36 saves.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Binnington was outstanding in a losing cause for the Blues, especially in the first period when the Avs dominated his teammates. Their play improved as the game went on but the Avs still had better scoring chances.
WITH 0.1 SECONDS LEFT! 😳
— NHL (@NHL) August 3, 2020
Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo made 28 saves to shut out the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-0 in Game 1 of their best-of-five qualifying round series. Cam Atkinson netted the game-winner and Alexander Wennberg got the insurance goal with an empty-netter. Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen turned aside 34 shots.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blue Jackets’ grinding style sucked the life out of the Leafs’ offense. Not that they didn’t get some quality chances but Korpisalo was superb, robbing Auston Matthews in the second period with a flashy glove save.
Jared Spurgeon scored twice and set up the winning goal while Alex Stalock had a 28-save effort as the Minnesota Wild blanked the Vancouver Canucks 3-0 to take Game 1 of their qualifier. Kevin Fiala netted the game-winner with a power-play slapper in their first period.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild’s experience came through in this game. They effectively neutralized the Canucks’ young guns while creating quality scoring chances of their own. Canucks winger Micheal Ferland could get a call by the NHL department of player safety after appearing to spear Ryan Hartman on the Wild bench.
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) August 3, 2020
A three-goal second period powered the Philadelphia Flyers over the Boston Bruins 4-1 in round-robin play. Flyers goalie Carter Hart made 34 saves for his first-ever NHL postseason win. Michael Raffl had a goal and an assist but left the game in the third period with an apparent leg injury. Jaroslav Halak was in net for the Bruins as starter Tuukka Rask was deemed unfit to play. His status for Wednesday’s round-robin game against the Tampa Bay Lightning is uncertain.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers played as though this was a playoff game, while the Bruins seemed to treat it as an exhibition contest. Yes, it’s only a round-robin that determines final seeding for the playoffs, but that doesn’t excuse what seemed like a halfhearted effort by the Bruins.
Arizona Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper kicked out 40 shots in a 4-3 victory over the Nashville Predators. Christian Dvorak had a goal and an assist while Taylor Hall and Phil Kessel each collected two assists. Filip Forsberg scored twice for the Predators. The Coyotes lead the series 1-0.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Check out my take on this game here.
TSN: Sara Orlesky reports a source claims Mark Scheifele’s apparent leg injury isn’t believed to be long-term. The Winnipeg Jets center was hurt during the first period of Game 1 of his club’s qualifier against the Calgary Flames following a collision with Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk. Scheifele left the game in obvious pain and didn’t return. He’s not expected to play in Game 2 tonight.
WINNIPEG SUN: Jets coach Paul Maurice doubled down on his accusation that Tkachuk deliberately injured Scheifele. Maurice also provided no update about the condition of winger Patrik Laine, who also left Game 1 with what appeared to be an injured hand. Per league protocols, the Jets can’t reveal the full details of their injuries.
CALGARY SUN: Flames coach Geoff Ward defended Tkachuk, claiming his winger was trying to finish his check but Scheifele’s sudden shift in direction caught the Flames winger off-balance as they collided into the boards.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is similar to the Matt Cooke incident with Erik Karlsson in 2013. Cooke’s skate blade accidentally sliced Karlsson’s Achilles tendon, but he was accused of purposefully injuring the blueliner.
Like Cooke, Tkachuk has a reputation for cheap shots, which could explain why Maurice felt that hit was a deliberate attempt to injure Scheifele. In this instance, however, I agree with Ward that it was an unfortunate accident.
TSN: Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos remains questionable for today’s round-robin game with the Washington Capitals. He’s still dealing with a lower-body injury suffered during Phase 2 training.
THE NEW & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton remains sidelined with an undisclosed injury. He could be a week or so away from returning to the lineup.
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Blackhawks forward Drake Caggiula received a one-game suspension for an illegal check on Edmonton Oilers winger Tyler Ennis during Game 1 of their qualifying-round series on Saturday.
Recaps of the opening games of the qualifying round and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Chicago Blackhawks winger Dominik Kubalik scored twice and collected three assists in a 6-4 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. Kubalik set a record for most points by a rookie in his first playoff game. Jonathan Toews also scored twice for the Hawks. Oilers forwards Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins each had a goal and two assists. Blackhawks forward Drake Caggiula will have a hearing on Sunday with the league’s department of player safety for an illegal hit to the head of Oilers winger Tyler Ennis.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks feasted on the shaky play of Oilers goaltender Mike Smith and his teammates’ sloppy defensive play. Smith was replaced in the second period by Mikko Koskinen after giving up five goals on 23 shots. He could get the call for Game 2 on Monday.
The Montreal Canadiens upset the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 on an overtime goal by Jeff Petry. Canadiens’ goaltender Carey Price made 39 saves while rookies Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Nick Suzuki picked up their first NHL playoff goals. Sidney Crosby and Bryan Rust replied for the Penguins. Pittsburgh winger Conor Sheary and Montreal winger Jonathan Drouin failed to score on penalty-shot attempts.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins also missed several good scoring opportunities. Nevertheless, Price did a fine job rising to the occasion for his overmatched teammates. If he wasn’t in the heads of the Penguins before this game, he is now.
A 4-1 victory by the Calgary Flames over the Winnipeg Jets was overshadowed by the departure of Jets center Mark Scheifele early in the game with an injured left leg following a collision with Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk. The Flames got power-play goals by Johnny Gaudreau and Mikael Backlund and a shorthanded tally by Tobias Rieder. The Jets also lost winger Patrik Laine to an apparent hand injury in the third period.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jets coach Paul Maurice believes Tkachuk deliberately attempted to injure Schiefele, which the winger denied. There’s no question the loss of Scheifele affected his teammates, who seemed off-balance for most of the game. Maurice also indicated Scheifele and Laine will be examined by specialists, which suggests both could be sidelined for lengthy periods.
Sebastian Aho and Jaccob Slavin each had a goal and an assist as the Carolina Hurricanes edged the New York Rangers 3-2. Petr Mrazek picked up the win with a 24-save effort. Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist turned aside 34 shots while Mika Zibanejad also had a goal and an assist.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The score flattered the Rangers, who were dominated by the Hurricanes for most of this game. It would’ve been a more lopsided loss if not for Lundqvist, who got the call after Igor Shesterkin was a last-minute scratch. He’s listed as day-to-day. Rangers winger Jesper Fast left the game in the first period following a big hit by former teammate Brady Skjei.
Semyon Varlamov kicked out 27 shots while Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Anthony Beauvillier scored as the New York Islanders held on for a 2-1 win over the Florida Panthers. Sergei Bobrovsky turned aside 26 shots for the Panthers. Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk left the game in the second period following an illegal hit to the head from Panthers blueliner Mike Matheson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bobrovsky kept his teammates in this game but they couldn’t get the equalizer. No word on Boychuk’s status while Matheson only received a two-minute penalty.
THE SCORE: Prior to Saturday’s Oilers-Blackhawks game, Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba made a moving speech on behalf of the Hockey Diversity Alliance and took a knee during the American National Anthem, flanked by Blackhawks goalie Malcolm Subban and Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse. Dumba is among the co-founders of the Hockey Diversity Alliance to eradicate racism and intolerance in hockey.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask is questionable for today’s round-robin game against the Philadelphia Flyers. Coach Bruce Cassidy said Rask wasn’t feeling well and was unfit to participate in yesterday’s practice.
Bruins winger Ondrej Kase finally rejoined his teammates after missing all of the Phase 3 training camp. He isn’t expected to be in today’s lineup and it could be a few games before he returns to action.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cassidy’s remarks about Rask doesn’t sound as though his status is COVID-related.
NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals defenseman John Carlson returned to practice Saturday for the first time since leaving Wednesday’s exhibition game with an undisclosed ailment. It’s yet to be decided if he’ll play in tomorrow’s round-robin game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Red Wings and Hurricanes pull off upset victories, Sportsnet and NBC Sports make NHL history with all-female broadcast crews, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Shootout goals by Dylan Larkin and Robby Fabbri carried the Detroit Red Wings to a 5-4 upset of the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bolts rallied from a 4-2 deficit to force overtime and the shootout frame. Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi each had a goal and three assists. Brayden Point tallied twice for the Lightning (92 points), who sit six points back of the league-leading Boston Bruins. Tampa Bay defenseman Ryan McDonagh returned to the lineup after missing 14 games with a lower-body injury, but Victor Hedman (lower body) missed the game and is listed as day-to-day.
Carolina Hurricanes rookie Morgan Geekie scored twice in his NHL debut to help his club down the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-2. Justin Williams also scored twice for the Hurricanes (76 points), who surged ahead of the New York Islanders into the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot. The slumping Penguins (84 points) sit third in the Metropolitan Division, but they’ve dropped eight of their last 10 contests.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins were playing better when their roster was depleted by injuries. They’re struggling despite a healthier lineup bolstered by recent additions made before the Feb. 24 trade deadline.
St. Louis Blues goalie Jake Allen turned in a 29-save shutout in a 2-0 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Robert Bortuzzo and Alex Pietrangelo were the goal scorers. Blues defenseman Justin Faulk missed his second straight game with an upper-body injury. Blackhawks defenseman Adam Boqvist left the game with a suspected concussion after being elbowed in the head by Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist. In the subsequent scrum, Chicago forward Drake Caggiula left the game after injuring his wrist in a fight with the Blues’ Vince Dunn. The Blues (92 points) remain two points ahead of the Colorado Avalanche for first place in the Western Conference.
The Avalanche, meanwhile, kept pace with the Blues by nipping the San Jose Sharks 4-3. Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog led the way with a goal and two assists each. Sharks captain Logan Couture left the game after being struck in the face with the puck. He was placed in concussion protocol but could return to action on Wednesday.
The red-hot Vegas Golden Knights (84 points) defeated the Calgary Flames 5-3 to regain first place in the Pacific Division. Third-period goals by Shea Theodore and Jonathan Marchessault carried Vegas to victory after the Flames overcame a 3-1 deficit. The Flames (79 points) sit third in the Pacific.
An overtime goal by Kevin Fiala lifted the Minnesota Wild to a 4-3 win over the Anaheim Ducks. It was Fiala’s second goal of the game for the Wild (77 points), who moved into the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Jakob Silfverberg and Rickard Rakell each had three points for the Ducks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fiala is blossoming into a star for the Wild this season. He’s their leading scorer with a career-high 54 points and is tied with Zach Parise and Joel Eriksson Ek for second in game-winning goals with four.
Elvis Merzlikins returned to the Columbus Blue Jackets net for the first time since Feb. 24 to backstop his club to a 2-1 victory over the slumping Vancouver Canucks. With 81 points, the Jackets moved into the first Eastern Conference wild-card spot, while the Canucks (76 points) cling to the second Western wild-card berth.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks are in trouble, winning just three of their last 10 contests. They definitely miss starting goaltender Jacob Markstrom, who’s been sidelined since late February with a knee injury.
THE SCORE: Sportsnet and NBC Sports made NHL history yesterday with all-female broadcast crews calling the Golden Knights-Flames and the Blue-Blackhawks games.
NBC SPORTS: Nashville Predators captain Roman Josi was fined $5,000.00 for cross-checking Dallas Stars winger Corey Perry on Saturday.
ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes’ playoff hopes took a hit as leading scorer Conor Garland is listed as week-to-week with a lower-body injury.
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Jets forward Adam Lowry is expected to return to action tonight after missing 20 games with an upper-body injury.
CBS SPORTS: The Detroit Red Wings re-signed Alex Biega to a one-year, $875K contract.
SPORTSNET: The NHL has tentatively finalized April 9 as the date for the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery.
Tony DeAngelo ties a Rangers record, David Pastrnak extended his points streak, Pekka Rinne tallied his first goal, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: New York Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo scored a hat trick and added two assists in a 6-3 victory over the New Jersey Devils. DeAngelo tied club records for defensemen for most goals and most points in a single game. Rangers rookie goalie Igor Shesterkin made 46 saves for his second win in as many starts.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With 11 goals and 36 points in 43 games, DeAngelo is on pace to reach 20 goals and 70 points by season’s end. After being forced to accept a one-year, $925K contract last summer, he’s got terrific leverage entering this summer with salary arbitration rights.
David Pastrnak tallied a hat trick to lead the Boston Bruins over the Winnipeg Jets 5-4. Pastrnak extended his points streak to 12 games and widened his lead in the league goal-scoring race (35) by four over Toronto’s Auston Matthews. Jake DeBrusk also scored twice for Boston. Bruins captain Zdeno Chara missed the game due to an abscess in his surgically-repaired jaw unrelated to his fight with Nashville Predators forward Yakov Trenin on Tuesday. Jets defenseman Dmitry Kulikov returned to action for the first time since suffering an upper-body injury on Nov. 29. They also placed Logan Shaw on waivers.
Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne became the 12th goalie in NHL history to score a goal in a 5-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Rinne is also the first netminder to score a goal since Mike Smith in October 2013. It was the Predators’ first win under new head coach John Hynes. Blackhawks forward Drake Caggiula returned to action for the first time since suffering a concussion on Nov. 11.
Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid reached 70 points as his club doubled up the fading Montreal Canadiens 4-2. McDavid picked up an assist while teammates Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Leon Draisaitl each collected two points as the Oilers overcame a 2-1 deficit.
The Tampa Bay Lightning picked up their ninth straight victory by blanking the Arizona Coyotes 4-0. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 25 saves for the shutout while Nikita Kucherov scored twice. Coyotes rookie Barrett Hayton is listed as week-to-week with a shoulder injury suffered playing for Team Canada at the 2020 World Junior Hockey Championships.
Noel Acciari scored two goals and Jonathan Huberdeau collected two assists as the Florida Panthers downed the Vancouver Canucks 5-2. The Canucks have given up 14 goals in consecutive losses to the Panthers and Lightning.
St. Louis Blues forwards Robert Thomas and Tyler Bozak collected three points and Alex Steen scored two goals in a 5-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres. Jack Eichel netted the struggling Sabres only goal.
Cam Talbot made 42 saves as the Calgary Flames edged the Minnesota Wild 2-1, handing the latter their fourth loss in their last five games. Derek Grant and Johnny Gaudreau tallied for the Flames while Mats Zuccarello replied for the Wild.
A four-goal first period carried the Los Angeles Kings over the Vegas Golden Knights 5-2. Adrian Kempe led the way with two goals for the Kings.
Ben Bishop turned in a 27-save shutout as the Dallas Stars blanked the Anaheim Ducks 3-0. Roope Hintz scored and collected an assist.
San Jose Sharks winger Kevin Labanc scored and set up another in a 3-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets, snapping the latter’s nine-game road points streak.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his left knee and is expected to be sidelined for three weeks.
Golden Knights defeat the Coyotes, the Oilers make trades with the Blackhawks and Panthers, an update on Dustin Byfuglien, and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Paul Stastny and Brandon Pirri each had a goal and an assist to lead the Vegas Golden Knights to a 5-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes. Alex Galchenyuk tallied for the Coyotes.
EDMONTON SUN: The Oilers had a busy Sunday, making trades with the Florida Panthers and Chicago Blackhawks. The Oilers first shipped defenseman Chris Wideman to the Panthers for blueliner Alex Petrovic, then traded winger Drake Caggiula and rearguard Jason Garrison to the Blackhawks for defensemen Brandon Manning and Robin Norrell.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Oilers having dropped five in a row and once again in danger of sliding out of the playoff race, general manager Peter Chiarelli opted to make a couple of deals to shore up his injury-depleted blueline. Petrovic and Manning will be expected to bring more grit and shutdown experience to the Oilers’ defense. Both moves were greeted with puzzlement and disdain by the club’s followers, who see them as merely rearranging the deck chairs on a sinking ship.
As for the Panthers and Blackhawks, they’re giving up players who no longer fit into their plans. The Panthers gave up Jonathan Marchessault to protect Petrovic in the 2017 expansion draft, a move that backfired as Marchessault now stars with the Vegas Golden Knights. The Blackhawks signing of Manning this summer turned into a costly mistake for a club with limited salary-cap space, one that management is now happy to have off its books.
WINNIPEG SUN: Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien will be sidelined for at least a month with a lower-body injury.
TSN: The NHL Players Association released a statement on Sunday ripping Dallas Stars CEO Jim Lites for his “reckless and insulting remarks” regarding the performance of Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. “If players directed such comments towards management, how would those be regarded?” the NHLPA said in its statement. “To say that Jim Lites’ conduct is unprofessional would be a gross understatement. In professional sports, all individual players and teams go through highs and lows, but this is not how professionals handle adversity.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stars GM Jim Nill said he agreed with the hockey aspect of Lites’ criticism but not the tone. Publicly calling out your best players for underperforming is one thing. Calling them “fucking horseshit” in a long expletive-filled published rant was unnecessary and could do more harm than good.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning’s high-scoring ways have overcome their defensive struggles of late.
THE ATHLETIC: Vancouver Canucks goaltender Jakob Markstrom had his best December performance ever, sporting a record of 8-1-0 with a 1.66 goals-against average and a save percentage of .943.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Markstrom’s performance is a key reason why the Canucks vaulted up the standing this month and sit just outside of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: Struggling winger Kyle Okposo could be skating on the Sabres fourth line after failing to score in 21 straight games.