NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 12, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 12, 2021

North Division playoff matchups set plus the latest on Alex Ovechkin, Patrick Kane, Mika Zibanejad and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Connor Hellebucyk turned in a 24-save shutout and Blake Wheeler collected four points as the Winnipeg Jets blanked the Vancouver Canucks 5-0. With the win, the Jets secured third place in the Scotia North Division and will face the Edmonton Oilers in the opening round of the upcoming Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens will meet in the other North Division first-round series.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

The Washington Capitals nipped the Boston Bruins 2-1 on Michael Raffl’s goal in the dying seconds of the third period. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin returned to action for the first time since May 3 after being sidelined by a lower-body injury. With 24 goals, it’s the first time Ovechkin hasn’t reached the 30-goal plateau in his NHL career. The next time the Capitals and Bruins face off will be Saturday in Game 1 of their opening-round series.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin missed 11 games this season. Had he been healthy he would’ve reached 30 goals. With 730 career goals, he’s one shy of Marcel Dionne for fifth place on the all-time goals leader list.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane admitted he’s been dealing with an injury that nagged him since before last year’s playoffs. Kane didn’t reveal details but said he’s trying to figure it out and hopes it’s nothing serious. He doesn’t expect it to interfere with his offseason training but has been advised to take a little more time off the ice.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sounds like a lower-body or core-muscle injury. While Kane did take time away from practices for maintenance days down the stretch, he finished with a team-leading 66 points in 56 games.

THE SCORE: Speaking of the Blackhawks, they signed forward Henrik Borgstrom to a two-year contract. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. PuckPedia reports it’s worth an annual average value of $1 million.

NBC SPORTS: New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad admitted he struggled to regain his form following his bout with COVID-19 at the start of this season. He tallied just three goals in his first 27 games but rallied in the second half with 21 goals in the final 29 games. Zibanejad finished the season with 50 points.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: David McNab is stepping down as the Anaheim Ducks’ senior vice-president of hockey operations.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 9, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 9, 2021

Connor McDavid reaches 100 points in 53 games, the Leafs and Penguins secure division titles, the Predators clinch a playoff spot, John Tortorella reportedly won’t return next season as Blue Jackets coach, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid reached 100 points in his 53rd game of the season in a 4-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks. McDavid had a goal and three assists to become the first player to score at least 100 points in the same number of games since Mario Lemieux (126 points) and Jaromir Jagr (101) in 1995-96. Teammate Leon Draisaitl scored twice to reach his 500th career point. With 68 points, the Oilers are assured of second place in the Scotia North Division.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That was a remarkable achievement by McDavid. He’s the favorite to win the Hart Memorial Trophy this season as the most valuable player.

The Toronto Maple Leafs won its first division title in 21 years with a 3-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens, preventing the latter from clinching a playoff spot. The Leafs overcame a 2-0 deficit with second-period goals by Peter Engvall, William Nylander and Mitch Marner. They sit atop the North Division with 76 points. The Canadiens played without center Phillip Danault, who suffered a concussion during Thursday’s game between the two clubs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Montreal holds a 10-point lead over the Calgary Flames but the latter has three games in hand while the Canadiens have two games left in the schedule. The Habs need just one point or the Flames to lose one of their remaining games to clinch a playoff berth.

Ottawa Senators rookie Tim Stutzle tallied his first career hat trick as the Ottawa Senators doubled up the Winnipeg Jets 4-2. Mark Scheifele tallied his 200th career goal for the Jets (57 points), who remain just two points ahead of the fourth-place Canadiens.

The Pittsburgh Penguins clinched first place in the MassMutual East Division by blanking the Buffalo Sabres 1-0. Maxime Legace made 26 saves for the shutout while Jeff Carter scored the only goal. The Penguins finish the season with 77 points, two up on the Washington Capitals.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Carter’s offense has really picked up since the Penguins acquired him from the Los Angeles Kings at the trade deadline. After collecting just 19 points in 40 games with the Kings, Carter has nine goals and 11 points in 14 games with the Penguins.

An overtime goal by Conor Sheary saw the Capitals squeak past the Washington Capitals 2-1. Craig Anderson kicked out 28 shots for the win as the Capitals sit four points ahead of the third-place Boston Bruins.

The Bruins, meanwhile, dropped a 5-4 decision to the New York Rangers. Mika Zibanejad scored twice, including his 200th career goal while Boston winger David Pastrnak also tallied the 200th of his career. The Bruins (71 points) hold a one-point lead over the New York Islanders with a game in hand.

Speaking of the Islanders, they got two goals from Brock Nelson to beat the New Jersey Devils 5-1. Mathew Barzal had a goal and an assist for the fourth-place Isles.

The Nashville Predators clinched the final playoff spot in the Discover Central Division by beating the Carolina Hurricanes 3-1. Luke Kunin scored two goals for the Predators (62 points), who will face the Hurricanes in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No one saw the Predators in this position two months ago. A six-game winning streak in late March sparked an impressive season-saving surge in the standings.

A hat trick by Alexander Wennberg carried the Florida Panthers over the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-1. The Panthers (77 points) have won five straight games to move two points ahead of the Lightning into second place in the Central. These two teams will face off in the opening round of the playoffs. Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman missed this game with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reports Hedman’s been dealing with this injury since March 30 and he could face surgery following the playoffs. A hobbled Hedman will affect the Lightning’s efforts to successfully defend their Stanley Cup title.

The Vegas Golden Knights maintained their lead atop the Honda West Division with a 4-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues. Reilly Smith netted his first career hat trick as the Golden Knights (80 points) hold a four-point lead over the second-place Colorado Avalanche.

Defenseman Devon Toews scored twice as the Avalanche nipped the Los Angeles Kings 3-2. Andre Burakovsky extended his points streak to five games with two assists. The Avs (76 points) sit one point ahead of the third-place Minnesota Wild with a game in hand.

An overtime goal by Victor Rask gave the Wild a 4-3 win over the Anaheim Ducks. It was the final game of Ducks goaltender Ryan Miller’s NHL career.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild saluted Miller following the game by lining up to shake his hand. He ends his career with 391 victories, a 2.64 goals-against average, .914 save percentage and 44 shutouts.

Phil Kessel scored in overtime in his 900th consecutive game as the Arizona Coyotes downed the San Jose Sharks 5-4. Kessel also reached the 20-goal mark for the 12th time in his career.

An overtime goal by Max Domi lifted the Columbus Blue Jackets over the Detroit Red Wings 5-4. Seth Jones collected three assists for the Jackets.

HEADLINES

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline cites sources saying John Tortorella won’t be returning as head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets next season. His contract expires after this season. Tortorella is the winningest coach in franchise history, guiding them to four playoff appearances in six seasons, including the first playoff series win in franchise history.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tortorella won the second of his Jack Adams Awards in 2016-17 for his efforts in getting the Jackets into the playoffs that season. However, the club struggled throughout most of this season, sparking speculation some of the players were growing weary of his demanding ways. He reportedly intends to continue his NHL coaching career.

NHL.COM: The league will relax its COVID-19 restrictions on fully vaccinated teams and players for the upcoming Stanley Cup Playoffs.

TSN: Some players on Canadian teams have started receiving their COVID-19 vaccinations in accordance with Canadian federal and provincial protocols. The Toronto Maple Leafs will begin receiving their shots today.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith and forward Brett Connolly are both in the NHL’s concussion protocol and won’t complete the club’s final two games of the season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 8, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 8, 2021

The Hurricanes clinch first place in the Central Division, the Panthers and Lightning will face each other in the playoffs, the Blues clinch a postseason berth, the Stars stay alive and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Dallas Stars kept their playoff hopes alive by downing the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2. Joe Pavelski led the way with two goals and two assists while Roope Hintz had three points. With 58 points, the Stars sit two points behind the fourth-place Nashville Predators.

Dallas Stars forward Joe Pavelski (NHL Images).

Thanks to the Stars, the Carolina Hurricanes clinched first place in the Discover Central Division. The Lightning will face the Florida Panthers in the first round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes have an opportunity to win their first-ever Presidents’ Trophy. They have 80 points with two games remaining while the Vegas Golden Knights have 78 points with three games left.

The Panthers-Lightning will be facing each other for the first time in postseason competition. I’m looking forward to watching their opening-round series. These rivals are evenly matched, with each team have won three of their six games thus far in their season series. We’ll get a first-round preview as their final two games of the schedule (today and Monday) are against each other with playoff seeding on the line.

The Washington Capitals remain two points out of first place in the MassMutual East Division after dropping a 4-2 decision to the Philadelphia Flyers. Wade Allison scored two goals for the Flyers. Washington was without Alex Ovechkin (lower-body injury) and Evgeny Kuznetsov (COVID-19 protocol list). With 73 points, the Capitals have a game in hand over the first-place Pittsburgh Penguins (75 points), who play their final game of the schedule today against the Buffalo Sabres.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins, Sabres, New York Rangers, Arizona Coyotes, Detroit Red Wings, Columbus Blue Jackets and Anaheim Ducks all have one game remaining in their respective schedules.

The St. Louis Blues clinched a playoff spot in the Honda West Division despite falling 4-3 to the Vegas Golden Knights. Jonathan Marchessault’s overtime goal capped a three-goal rally by the Golden Knights, who hold a four-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche for first place in the division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues were in danger of missing the playoffs in early April following a seven-game losing skid. Their current eight-game points streak (including five wins) put them over the top.

Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen tallied his 30th goal of the season as his club held off the Los Angeles Kings 3-2, eliminating the latter from playoff contention. Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon missed the game with a lower-body injury in what appeared to be a precautionary move by head coach Jared Bednar. Earlier in the day, the Kings announced winger Dustin Brown will miss the remainder of the season with an upper-body injury.

An overtime goal by rookie winger Kirill Kaprizov lifted the Minnesota Wild to a 4-3 win over the Anaheim Ducks. Kaprizov has 27 goals on the season as the Wild sits one point back of the Avalanche in third place with 73 points.

Phil Kessel collected his 900th career point as his Arizona Coyotes beat the San Jose Sharks 5-2. Kessel had a goal and an assist while teammate Conor Garland collected three points. The Sharks were without captain Logan Couture, who could miss the remainder of the regular season with a lower-body injury.

A three-goal outburst in the second period rallied the Detroit Red Wings to a 5-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Vladislav Namestnikov scored twice, Valtteri Filppula collected three assists and Joe Veleno tallied his first NHL goal.

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE SCORE: Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said Friday he’s hopeful of returning to action for his club’s postseason opener. Stamkos has been sidelined by a lower-body injury since April 8.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens center Phillip Danault is day-to-day with an upper-body injury and will miss Saturday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Goaltender Carey Price (concussion) has been working out on the ice at the Habs’ practice facility but there’s no timetable for his return. Shea Weber and Paul Byron are each listed as day-to-day. Brendan Gallagher (broken thumb) has resumed skating while Jonathan Drouin remains on an indefinite leave of absence.

THE PROVINCE: The NHL department of player safety handed a one-game suspension to Vancouver Canucks forward Zack MacEwen for kneeing Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse on Thursday.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Ondrej Kase returned to Bruins practice for the first time in four months after taking a high hit from New Jersey Devils winger Miles Wood back in January. He hasn’t ruled out returning for the Bruins’ final two games of the season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 6, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 6, 2021

The Jets clinch a playoff spot, T.J. Oshie get a hat trick the day after his father’s passing, Marc-Andre Fleury and Anze Kopitar reach milestones, the Blues salute David Backes and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Winnipeg Jets became the third team in the Scotia North Division to clinch a playoff spot by blanking the Calgary Flames 4-0. Connor Hellebuyck made 32 saves for the shutout, Blake Wheeler collected his 800th career point and Mark Scheifele got his 500th career point. The win moved the Jets into third place in the division with 59 points, two up on the Montreal Canadiens.

Speaking of the Canadiens, they failed to secure a playoff berth by falling 5-1 to the Ottawa Senators. Erik Brannstrom collected three assists and Shane Pinto tallied his first NHL goal as the Senators have won seven of their last nine games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With 57 points, Montreal still holds a 10-point lead over Calgary, though the latter has a game in hand. The Flames playoff hopes, however, are now hanging by a thread.

Washington Capitals winger T.J. Oshie (NHL Images).

T.J. Oshie scored a hat trick the day following his father’s death as the Washington Capitals doubled up the New York Rangers 4-2. Oshie’s performance, however, was overshadowed by several brawls between the two clubs in the fallout over Capitals winger Tom Wilson receiving a fine for roughing Pavel Buchnevich and injury Artemi Panarin in the previous game between the two clubs. Wilson left the game in the first period with an upper-body injury while Buchnevich received a major penalty and game misconduct for cross-checking Capitals winger Anthony Mantha in the face.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Oshie and his family. His hat trick was a fitting honor to his father and a better story than that clown show of a game. With the win, the Capitals regained first place from the Pittsburgh Penguins in the MassMutual East Division with 73 points and hold a game in hand over the Penguins.

The Dallas Stars playoff hopes suffered another blow as they fell 6-2 to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Erik Cernak had a goal and two assists for the Lightning, putting them into a tie with the Florida Panthers in the Discover Central Division. Both clubs have 75 points but the Lightning holds second place with a game in hand. With 56 points, the Stars remain four back of the fourth-place Nashville Predators.

Meanwhile, the Predators dropped a 4-2 decision to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Oliver Bjorkstrand scored twice and collected an assist for the Jackets.

Marc-Andre Fleury picked up his 490th career victory as the Vegas Golden Knights nipped the Minnesota Wild 3-2 on an overtime goal by Alex Pietrangelo. Fleury moved into sole possession of third place on the all-time wins list. Kirill Kaprizov scored twice for the Wild. The Golden Knights (76 points) maintained a four-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche for first place in the Honda West Division.

As for the Avalanche, they blew a 2-0 lead to fall 3-2 to the San Jose Sharks. Tomas Hertl scored twice and Evander Kane collected three assists for the Sharks. With 72 points, the Avs are one point ahead of the third-place Wild.

The St. Louis Blues failed to clinch a playoff spot in the West Division following a 3-2 shootout loss to the Anaheim Ducks. Troy Terry tallied the winner in the shootout. During the game’s first timeout, the Blues honored Ducks winger David Backes with a video tribute commemorating his 10 seasons in St. Louis.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Backes, 37, is in the final season of his contract and is expected to retire.

Anze Kopitar collected his 1000th career NHL point to lead the Los Angeles Kings over the Arizona Coyotes 4-2. Sean Walker collected three points and Gabriel Vilardi tallied twice for the Kings to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. The Coyotes, meanwhile, have been eliminated from postseason contention.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kopitar’s been a model of consistency for the Kings throughout his 15 NHL seasons. He has 50 points on the season, marking the 14th time he’s reached that plateau.

HEADLINES

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs winger Nick Foligno is day-to-day with an upper-body injury and will miss tonight’s game against the Canadiens and likely Saturday’s contest as well.

CBS SPORTS: Boston Bruins center Charlie Coyle suffered an undisclosed injury during Tuesday’s game against the New Jersey Devils and should be considered day-to-day.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere received a two-game suspension for boarding Pittsburgh Penguins blueliner Mark Friedman.

MLIVE.COM: Detroit Red Wings forward Bobby Ryan is recovering from triceps surgery three weeks ago. An unrestricted free agent at season’s end, Ryan hopes to remain with the Wings. Meanwhile, teammate Tyler Bertuzzi underwent back surgery last Friday and is expected to be fully recovered in time for next season.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators signed goaltender Anton Forsberg to a one-year, $900K contract.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks TV analyst Ed Olczyk will become the lead NHL game analyst for Turner Sports. He’ll join Kenny Albert as Turner’s top team on TNT when the network’s seven-year contract begins next season.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reported if the Seattle Kraken select a player in this summer’s expansion draft who received a bonus on July 1, they will have to re-pay that player’s previous team. The Kraken must also draft at least $48.9 million under the salary cap.

FLYERS ALUMNI: tweeted the passing of former NHL player Jim Johnson at age 78. Johnson spent eight seasons in the NHL with the New York Rangers, Flyers and Los Angeles Kings from 1964-65 to 1971-72. An original member of the Flyers, he spent nearly five seasons with the club. In 302 NHL games, Johnson had 75 goals and 186 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Johnson’s family, friends and former teammates.










NHL ProteauType: Dept. of Player Safety Is Toothless, In Need of Repair

NHL ProteauType: Dept. of Player Safety Is Toothless, In Need of Repair

 










NHL Rumor Mill – May 5, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – May 5, 2021

Could the Capitals shop Evgeny Kuznetsov in the offseason? Is Jets coach Paul Maurice in danger of losing his job? Will the Senators leave Matt Murray exposed in the expansion draft? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the Washington Capitals could be willing to listen to trade offers this summer for Evgeny Kuznetsov. The 28-year-old center has four years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $7.8 million, plus a modified no-trade clause.

Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov (NHL Images).

LeBrun noted Kuznetsov and teammate Ilya Samsonov were scratched by the Capitals from Monday’s game against the New York Rangers for disciplinary reasons stemming from missing a team function. The center also missed time earlier this season when he ran afoul of COVID-19 protocols. Two years ago, he was suspended by the league for three games for “inappropriate conduct.”

Kuznetsov’s play over the last couple of years has been inconsistent. LeBrun said he’s hearing it’s starting to irritate some members of the Capitals’ organization.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman also the Capitals could be running out of patience with Kuznetsov, pointing to head coach Peter Laviolette saying the club is “working through things inside the room.”

Kuznetsov is a talented player but his stats have tumbled since his career-best 83-point performance in 2017-18. His on-ice inconsistency, recent off-ice issues and a hefty contract could make him difficult to move, especially with the salary cap remaining around $81.5 million next season.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre suggests this season could be Paul Maurice’s last as head coach of the Jets if the club makes another early playoff exit. While the Jets are certain to clinch a postseason berth they’re mired in a seven-game losing skid.

McIntyre doesn’t expect Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff will make an immediate move to replace Maurice. Nevertheless, the pundit noted the Jets’ bench boss has made some questionable choices lately.

Maurice keeps playing Tucker Poolman with Josh Morrissey when it’s clear that defense tandem isn’t working while keeping Dylan DeMelo stuck on the third pairing. He has also relied heavily on the struggling first line of Kyle Connor, Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler and hasn’t found a way to get Pierre-Luc Dubois going.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Winnipeg Sun’s Paul Friesen doesn’t see Maurice losing his job before the playoffs. He noted the loyalty Cheveldayoff and team chairman Mark Chipman have toward their head coach. Friesen also pointed out the players aren’t showing any sign of quitting on Maurice. Still, he doesn’t rule out Maurice losing his job if the Jets get bounced from the opening round.

OTTAWA SUN: Ken Warren believes the Senators won’t protect Matt Murray in this summer’s expansion draft. He doubts the Seattle Kraken will select a goaltender “with a 10-13-1 record, 3.38 average, .893 save percentage, injury question marks and with three years and $21 million remaining on his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Agreed. Even if Murray had better stats this season his injury history and remaining salary should scare off the Kraken.