NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 24, 2023
The Golden Knights are one game away from reaching the Stanley Cup Final, the Flames officially introduce Craig Conroy as their new general manager, former Leafs GM Kyle Dubas is moving on, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: The Vegas Golden Knights are on the verge of reaching the Stanley Cup Final following a 4-0 win over the Dallas Stars in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final, taking a 3-0 lead in this best-of-seven series.
Vegas got three first-period goals by Jonathan Marchessault, Ivan Barbashev and William Carrier to take an early stranglehold on this game. Alex Pietrangelo made it 4-0 in the second period. Adin Hill stopped 34 shots for his first career NHL playoff shutout.
Stars captain Jamie Benn received a five-minute major and a game misconduct for cross-checking Golden Knights captain Mark Stone at 1:53 of the first period shortly after Marchessault’s goal. Goaltender Jake Oettinger was pulled following Carrier’s goal. The Stars also lost winger Evgeni Dadonov to a lower-body injury following a collision with teammate Roope Hintz.
Stars forward Max Domi received a 10-minute misconduct for cross-checking Vegas defenseman Nicolas Hague with 26 seconds remaining in the second period. Unhappy Dallas fans littered the ice with debris, forcing officials to send both teams to the dressing room until the ice was cleaned up. Golden Knights netminder Hill was showered with popcorn as the teams returned to finish the period.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Star imploded early in this game and never recovered. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong as the Golden Knights swiftly took advantage to take what should be an insurmountable lead in this series. Their frustration from the previous two games boiled over in this contest, all but scuttling any hope they had of reaching the Stanley Cup Final
Benn’s undisciplined penalty and ejection following Marchessault’s game-opening goal seemed to rattle his teammates. Everything devolved after that with Domi’s stupid penalty and Dallas fans showing their displeasure by littering the ice marking an ugly climax to a crappy night for the Stars.
The Stars defended Benn’s action following the game by claiming he “made a mistake.” No, this wasn’t a mistake. He’s not some inexperienced youngster who let his emotions get away from him. It was a boneheaded move by a veteran player and team captain who’s supposed to know better. He hurt his team at a time when they needed his leadership. It’ll be interesting to see if Benn received supplemental discipline from the league.
Meanwhile, Stars coach Peter DeBoer must decide if he’ll go with Oettinger for Game 4 or with backup Scott Wedgewood. Pulled three times in this postseason, Oettinger’s best save percentage in this series was .892 in Game 1.
The Golden Knights, meanwhile, received solid goaltending from Hill, picked apart a Dallas defense in disarray and quickly capitalized on their opponent’s many mistakes. They can put this series away in Game 4 on Thursday in Dallas and return to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2018.
CALGARY HOCKEY NOW: The Flames yesterday formally introduced Craig Conroy as their new general manager. They also introduced Dave Nonis as senior vice-president of hockey operations and assistant GM, promoted Brad Pascall to VP of hockey ops and assistant GM, and promoted Chris Snow to VP of data/analytics and assistant GM.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Conroy offered up no timeline for when he’ll name the Flames new head coach but indicated it’s high on his priority list. There’s a report suggesting former New York Rangers bench boss Gerard Gallant could be a “prime candidate” for the job. For now, Conroy’s immediate focus is on amateur scouting meetings ahead of the upcoming NHL Draft Combine (June 4-10).
TORONTO SUN: Former Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas released a statement yesterday declining to get into the details of his recent firing. Instead, he thanked the organization for the opportunity to work with them over the past nine seasons. He offered up no information about his future plans, concluding his statement by saying he and his family “will roll from here.”
The Maple Leafs have given the Pittsburgh Penguins permission to speak with Dubas regarding their vacant general manager position.
PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Speaking of which, former Arizona Coyotes general manager John Chayka has emerged as a “strong candidate” for the job. Dubas, however, is considered the front-runner. The Penguins have reportedly informed “multiple candidates” that they were no longer in the running.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubas’ sudden availability had a significant effect on the Penguins’ search for a new general manager. It was rumored for weeks that he was their preferred choice if he and the Leafs failed to agree to a new contract. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s soon announced as their next GM.
TSN: Darren Dreger reports a source close to the St. Louis Blues is dismissing rumors of general manager Doug Armstrong becoming a candidate for the Leafs GM job. The “high-ranking source” said all of the talk “seems to be fabricated.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Armstrong has declined to comment on these rumors which have originated in the Toronto media. He would make a prime candidate for that job but this speculation seems to be based more on pundit musing than any hard fact.
Some Toronto talking heads think the Blues might let Armstrong interview for the job if the Leafs were to ask permission or if he told Blues owner Tom Stillman that he was interested in that role. So far, however, there’s no indication that either situation has unfolded.
It wouldn’t make sense for the Blues to let Armstrong go at this stage of the offseason with the draft and free agency a little over a month away. He’s also two years into a five-year contract which lacks an “out clause” allowing him to move on to other management jobs elsewhere.
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Panthers head coach Paul Maurice said he’s optimistic that team captain Aleksander Barkov will be in the lineup for Game 4 of their Eastern Conference Final with the Carolina Hurricanes. Barkov left Game 3 on Monday with a lower-body injury but Maurice indicate his absence was “as much precautionary as anything sinister.”
THE HOCKEY NEWS: The New Jersey Devils will host the Philadelphia Flyers as part of the 2024 NHL Stadium Series at Metlife Stadium next February.