NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 9, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 9, 2021

The Lightning eliminated the Hurricanes, the Golden Knights push the Avalanche to the brink of elimination, the Masterton Trophy finalists are announced, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Andrei Vasilevskiy’s 29-save shutout carried the Tampa Bay Lightning over the Carolina Hurricanes 2-0 to win their second-round series four games to one. Brayden Point and Ross Colton were the goal scorers. The Lightning awaits the winner of the Boston Bruins-New York Islanders series in the semifinals.

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: By eliminating the Hurricanes and the Florida Panthers before them, the Lightning are serving notice that they still have the depth in talent to repeat as Stanley Cup champions. Vasilevskiy is also showing everyone why he’s a Vezina Trophy finalist for the fourth straight year. He was superb in this series.

The Hurricanes remain a rising force. They’re very close to breaking through as a Stanley Cup contender. Much will depend on how management handles the offseason, particularly the expansion draft and the contract negotiations with defenseman Dougie Hamilton and head coach Rod Brind’Amour.

The Vegas Golden Knights overcame a 2-0 deficit for a 3-2 Game 5 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on an overtime goal by Mark Stone. Brandon Saad and Joonas Donskoi scored for the Avalanche but Alex Tuch and Jonathan Marchessault tallied in the third period to set the stage for Stone’s OT heroics. The Golden Knights hold a 3-2 series lead and can wrap things up Thursday night in Las Vegas.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avs controlled the play through the first and second periods. Turnovers, however, proved costly as the Golden Knights capitalized for all three goals. The winner of this series faces the Montreal Canadiens in the semifinals.

Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba, Philadelphia Flyers forward Oskar Lindblom, and San Jose Sharks winger Patrick Marleau are this year’s finalists for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

An independent arbitrator upheld the eight-game suspension of Avalanche center Nazem Kadri. He’s already served seven games of that suspension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Would the Avalanche be on the verge of elimination if Kadri hadn’t been suspended? Maybe, maybe not, but his reckless hit on St. Louis Blues defenseman Justin Faulk in the previous series hasn’t helped matters.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy was fined $25,000 by the league for his post-game criticism of the officiating in Game 5 of this club’s second-round series with the New York Islanders. Bruins winger Nick Ritchie was fined $5,000.00 for elbowing Isles defenseman Scott Mayfield during that contest.

Injuries have sidelined Bruins forward Curtis Lazar and defensemen Brandon Carlo and Kevan Miller from Game 6 tonight.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Yannick Weber has signed a three-year contract with ZSC Lions in Switzerland. Weber spent the past 13 NHL seasons with the Montreal Canadiens, Vancouver Canucks, Nashville Predators and the Penguins. He played only two games for the Pens this season, spending most of his time on their taxi squad.

THE SCORE: Toronto’s CN Tower was lit in red, white and blue to honor the Montreal Canadiens as the last Canadian team still standing in the 2021 NHL playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I bet that went down well in the heart of Leafs Nation.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 8, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 8, 2021

The Canadiens sweep the Jets to advance to the semifinals, the Islanders have the Bruins on the brink of elimination, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Tyler Toffoli’s overtime goal gave the Montreal Canadiens a 3-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets in Game 4 to sweep their second-round series. The Canadiens are the first team to reach the 2021 semifinals. They opened the scoring with first-period goals by Erik Gustafsson and Artturi Lehkonen but the Jets forced the extra frame as Logan Stanley tallied twice in the second period.

Montreal Canadiens forward Tyler Toffoli (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Montreal dominated the play despite the close score, outshooting Winnipeg 42-16. If not for Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck this would’ve been a lopsided victory. Habs defenseman Jeff Petry missed this game after dislocating two fingers in Game 3 but he’s expected to be ready for the semifinals.

The New York Islanders held off the Boston Bruins for a 5-4 win in Game 5 to take a 3-2 lead in their second-round series. Isles goaltender Semyon Varlamov made 40 saves while Brock Nelson’s early third-period goal held up as the winner. The Isles went three-for-four on the power play. David Pastrnak scored twice for Boston, who pulled goaltender Tuukka Rask after two periods. Bruins forward Curtis Lazar left the game after throwing a big hit on Isles defenseman Ryan Pulock. Game 6 is tomorrow night on Long Island.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy questioned the officiating during his post-game press conference, saying the penalties called against his club weren’t being called on the Islanders. He also singled out his opponent. “We’re playing a team that have very respected management and coaching staff, they’ve won a Stanley Cup. But I think they sell a narrative over there that it’s more like the New York Saints and not the New York Islanders,” said Cassidy.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes winger Nino Niederreiter could return to action for Game 5 tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning. He missed the first four games of this series with an undisclosed injury but returned to practice yesterday. The Hurricanes face a must-win situation down three games to one.

NHL.COM: The Florida Panthers signed forward Anton Lundell to a three-year entry-level contract. He was selected 12th overall by the Panthers in last year’s NHL Draft.

Renee Hess (founder of the Black Girl Hockey Club), Kevin Hodgson (executive director of HEROS), and Howard Smith (co-founder of Pittsburgh I.C.E.) are the three finalists for the Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 10, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 10, 2020

Lightning edge Islanders to take 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Final, Bruce Cassidy wins the Jack Adams Award, GM of the Year finalists announced, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Nikita Kucherov scored with 8.8 seconds remaining in regulation as the Tampa Bay Lightning edged the New York Islanders 2-1 in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final. The Lightning holds a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. Islanders winger Matt Martin opened the scoring in the first period but Victor Hedman tied it before the period was over.

This was a close-checking, physical contest. Lightning winger Alex Killorn was ejected early in the first period for boarding Isles center Brock Nelson, who left the game under concussion protocol but returned to action. Martin and Luke Schenn received fighting majors early in the second period. Martin and Pat Maroon received roughing minors later in the period.

It was a costly victory for the Lightning as first-line center Brayden Point left the game in the second period with an apparent lower-body injury. Head coach Jon Cooper said an update on Point’s condition could be revealed on Thursday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a heartbreaking loss for the Islanders. They rebounded well from their 8-2 blowout loss in Game 1 and did a good job for the most part shutting down the Lightning’s offense until Kucherov struck in the dying seconds. They outshot the Bolts 13-4 in the first period and 28-21 overall.

However, the Isles couldn’t get more than one puck past Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy and failed to capitalize on four power-play opportunities. They now find themselves in a deep hole against a very talented club approaching Game 3 on Friday night.

Bruce Cassidy of the Boston Bruins is the 2020 winner of the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year. He guided the Bruins to this season’s best record as they were the only club to reach 100 points, winning the Presidents’ Trophy for their efforts.

Julien BriseBois of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Lou Lamoriello of the New York Islanders, and Jim Nill of the Dallas Stars are this year’s finalists for the Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year Award.

TSN: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league is still targeting an 82-games schedule for 2020-21. However, he admitted the projected start date of Dec. 1 appears less likely. They’re also hoping to have fans in the stands when they reopen but can’t guarantee that’ll be the case. Daly also doesn’t think it would be a problem if the league staged games next summer, pointing to how well ice conditions held up in the bubble cities of Edmonton and Toronto.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barring a miracle, next season won’t open on Dec.1. Or Jan. 1. And I have my doubts it’ll start on Feb. 1. My guess is we’ll see a shortened schedule between 50-60 games starting in mid-February at the earliest, with the playoffs running into late-July.

THE SCORE: NBC hockey analyst Pierre McGuire is no longer in the running for the Arizona Coyotes’ vacant general manager position.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Several folks on Twitter yesterday observed McGuire almost always seems to be in the running for a GM job and always seems to be the first one eliminated from the competition.

Meanwhile, Arizona Coyotes Insider Craig Morgan reports former Coyotes captain Shane Doan isn’t under consideration for the job. He cites several sources suggesting the club believes Doan, who works for the NHL, had a hand in the sanctions the league handed the Coyotes for violating fitness testing rules for draft-eligible players. However, there’s no indication Doan was involved in the league’s decision.

THE ATHLETIC: Dan Hinote is expected to join the Nashville Predators as an assistant coach.










2020 NHL Awards – Calder Trophy, Lindsay and Adams Award Finalists

2020 NHL Awards – Calder Trophy, Lindsay and Adams Award Finalists

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 16, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 16, 2020

The Calder Trophy and Adams Award finalists revealed, plus the latest on David Pastrnak, Shea Weber, Patrik Laine, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

2020 NHL AWARDS UPDATE

NHL.COM: Vancouver Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes, Chicago Blackhawks winger Dominik Kubalik and Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar are the finalists for the 2019-20 Calder Memorial Trophy honoring this season’s rookie-of-the-year.

Vancouver Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kubalik was a pleasant surprise for the Blackhawks this season, become the leading goal-scorer (30) among this season’s rookie class, but he will be overshadowed by Hughes and Makar. During the first half of this season, Makar seemed a lock for the Calder, but Hughes steadily came on throughout the season. The Canucks blueliner leads this season’s rookies in assists (45), points (53), and power-play points (25) while sitting second in ice time, averaging 21:53 per game.

Boston Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy, Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella, and Philadelphia Flyers coach Alain Vigneault are this season’s finalists for the Jack Adams Award honoring the league’s top head coach.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cassidy’s Bruins were the NHL’s top team during the regular season. Tortorella’s efforts helped his injury-ravaged Blue Jackets remain a playoff contender. Vigneault guided the Flyers to their first best performance (second in the Metropolitan Division) since 2010-11. Tortorella is a two-time winner (2003-04, 2016-17) of the Adams Award while Vigneault took home the award in 2006-07.

NHL TRAINING CAMP NOTES

THE SCORE: Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine admits he’s not quite up to speed following his lengthy layoff. “Still kind of far away,” he told reporters yesterday. “It’s kind of hard to see myself playing playoff hockey in two weeks.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Laine won’t be the only NHL player trying to shake off the rust and return to game shape following a four-month layoff. He said he’s trying to make the most of it and hopes to be game-ready when the puck drops.

TRIBLIVE.COM: There are mixed reports regarding Matt Murray’s performance in the opening three days of Pittsburgh Penguins’ training camp. Mark Madden cites sources claiming  Tristan Jarry is outplaying Murray, but Seth Rorabaugh (who’s covering the Penguins’ training camp) said he’d seen no difference in play between the two. Rorabaugh observed Murray is more often between the pipes when facing some of the Penguins’ top players.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murray’s restricted free agent status at season’s end ensures he’ll be closely watched in practice and the upcoming playoff tournament. He’s been the subject of frequent trade speculation this season. His performance will determine his future with the Penguins.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins winger David Pastrnak joined his teammates for his first practice since completing his mandatory quarantine period after returning from the Czech Republic.

CBS SPORTS: Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury is expected to make his training camp debut before the weekend. He’s been sidelined with an undisclosed issue.

Montreal Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber returned to full practice Wednesday. He’d spent Tuesday doing drills on his own.  

CANES COUNTRY: Sami Vatanen is healthy and looking forward to making an impact with the Carolina Hurricanes in the upcoming playoff tournament. The Hurricanes acquired the 29-year-old defenseman near the trade deadline, but an injury prevented him from suiting up with his new team.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With Dougie Hamilton recovered from a broken leg, he and Vatanen will provide a much-needed boost to the Hurricanes’ defense corps, especially if Brett Pesce (shoulder surgery) remains unable to participate.

NBC SPORTS: The pause in the schedule proved to be a silver lining for a banged-up Columbus Blue Jackets lineup, allowing sidelined players such as Seth Jones, Oliver Bjorkstrand, and Cam Atkinson an opportunity to recover.

CALGARY SUN: Flames bench boss Geoff Ward denies he’s split up some of his roster over fitness-related issues. Johnny Gaudreau’s removal from the Flames’ top line raised eyebrows this week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league’s clampdown on the players’ medical status only stokes speculation over the motivation behind such moves.

SPORTSNET: The Toronto Maple Leafs were told to stop using on-ice officials during their practices following complaints from rival clubs.

IN OTHER NEWS…

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks officially signed defenseman Ian Mitchell to a three-year, entry-level contract beginning next season. He would’ve had the first year of his ELC burned off if he’d joined his teammates for Phase 3 training camp.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Former Carolina Hurricanes TV announcer John Forslund will be freelancing for NBC Sports during the upcoming playoff tournament. His status with the Hurricanes remains uncertain since his contract expired last month.