NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 6, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 6, 2021

The Canadiens avoid being swept from the Stanley Cup Final, Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks dies in a fireworks accident, Wild re-sign Nick Bjugstad and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Montreal Canadiens staved off elimination from the Stanley Cup Final with a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 4 on Monday night.

Montreal Canadiens winger Josh Anderson (NHL Images).

Josh Anderson opened the scoring in the first period and tallied the game-winner in overtime. Alexander Romanov scored his first of the playoffs for the Canadiens while Carey Price made 32 saves for the win. Barclay Goodrow and Pat Maroon replied for the Lightning.

The series returns to Tampa Bay for Game 5 on Wednesday night with the Lightning holding a 3-1 lead.

TSN: The Canadiens made some lineup changes for Game 4. Jesperi Kotkaniemi was replaced by Jake Evans as their third-line center while Romanov and Brett Kulak replaced Erik Gustafsson and Jon Merrill on their third defense pairing. Anderson moved to the Canadiens’ second line alongside Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield.

Lightning winger Alex Killorn missed his third straight game of this series. He remains day-to-day with a leg injury suffered in Game 1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning controlled most of the play in this game. Head coach Jon Cooper lamented several near misses for his club, including several shots clanging off the goalposts.

That doesn’t detract from what was a big win by the Canadiens. Price and his penalty killers were outstanding as they shut down five Lightning power-play opportunities, including a double-minor on Habs captain Shea Weber that stretched from late in the third period into the early minutes of overtime. Price was particularly strong during the opening minutes of the game, shutting down the Lightning as they pushed to open the scoring.

NHL.COM: Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks died on July 4 at age 24. It was initially reported that he suffered an apparent head injury during a fall, but an initial autopsy revealed he suffered a percussive injury from a fireworks explosion that led to major damage to his heart and lungs.

The incident took place at the Novi, Michigan home of former Detroit Red Wings goalie Manny Legace. Kivlenieks’ death is being investigated as accidental and no charges are under consideration at this time.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets fans gathered at a popular bar near NationWide Arena to mourn Kivlenieks’ passing. It included an 80-second moment of silence in honor of the netminder, who wore No. 80 with the Jackets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My sincere condolences to Kivlenieks’ family, friends, teammates and the Jackets organization and fans. This was a tragic ending to a young life and career that held so much promise.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild signed Nick Bjugstad to a one-year, $900K contract. The 28-year-old center was slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28. He excelled in a depth role with the Wild this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bjugstad’s taking a big pay cut to stay in Minnesota. Cap Friendly indicates he was coming off a six-year deal worth an annual average value of $4.1 million. That reflects how much his role has changed since signing that deal with the Florida Panthers in 2014.

The signing puts only a slight dent into the Wild’s projected salary-cap space for next season. They have over $15.9 million remaining with restricted free agent stars Kirill Kaprizov and Kevin Fiala to re-sign.

NHL.COM: Swedish prospect forward William Eklund received the E.J. McGuire Award of Excellence. The award, presented by NHL Central Scouting, goes to the candidate who best displays a commitment to excellence through strength of character, competitiveness and athleticism. Previous winners include Philadelphia Flyers forward Travis Konecny and New Jersey Devils center Nico Hischier.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eklund overcame an emergency appendectomy and a positive COVID-19 test to become this year’s top European skater as ranked by NHL Central Scouting. He’s projected to go in the top five of this year’s NHL Draft.

THE BOSTON GLOBE: The AHL’s Providence Bruins will be seeking a new head coach as Jay Leach has joined the NHL’s Seattle Kraken as an assistant coach.

NHL Playoffs: Lightning Try Again to Clinch Eastern Conference Final

NHL Playoffs: Lightning Try Again to Clinch Eastern Conference Final

NHL Playoffs: Lightning Must Anticipate Better-Prepared Islanders

NHL Playoffs: Lightning Must Anticipate Better-Prepared Islanders

NHL Playoffs: Lightning Open Eastern Conference Final with Big Win Over The Islanders

NHL Playoffs: Lightning Open Eastern Conference Final with Big Win Over The Islanders

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 26, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 26, 2020

More details on the plan to resume the schedule, plus the latest on Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports the NHL and NHL Players Association have established a Return to Play Committee engaged in discussions to draft plans to reopen the season when it’s safe to do so. The league has to determine whether it can safely resume amid a pandemic and whether the players will agree to it.

“Gary Bettman, Bill Daly, and senior VPs Colin Campbell and Steve Hatze Petros represent the NHL, while the NHLPA is represented by Don Fehr, Mathieu Schneider, general counsel Don Zavelo, divisional rep Steve Webb, and active players John Tavares, Connor McDavid, James van Riemsdyk, and Ron Hainsey. Medical advisers from both the league and union are added to the calls when appropriate.”

Decisions to resume will ultimately be made by local governments and public health agencies. League deputy commissioner Bill Daly was asked to clarify comments to TSN on Friday in which he suggested one or more positive COVID-19 tests among the participants wouldn’t necessarily shut the whole thing down. Daly said he wouldn’t get into hypotheticals. “I’m fully comfortable with our level of knowledge and the experts we have retained to make the right decisions,” he said. 

Brooks indicates Toronto and Columbus are among the leading candidates to be part of the four regional division hosts. A Canadian host city would mean lower costs to stage part of the schedule because of the lower Canadian dollar.

All teams would hold training camps of up to three weeks at their assigned locations. Depending on how far a team advances in the playoffs, those players could face being isolated from their families for up to four months. 

Player health will be an issue, especially for those with medical conditions like Montreal’s Max Domi, the New York Rangers’ Kaapo Kaako, and Minnesota’s Luke Kunin, who are Type 1 diabetics and more susceptible to contracting the coronavirus. Testing, travel restrictions, and family matters will be other issues facing the committee.

Boston Bruins president Cam Neely

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This report provides an interesting glimpse into the myriad of challenges facing the league and the PA in their attempt to complete the season and crown a Stanley Cup champion. Both sides appear busy behind the scenes trying to address those issues. It appears they want the players to return to their clubs by May 15, open training camps in those four host cities by June 1, and resume play by late-June.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins president Cam Neely said the league and the players are on board to do whatever possible to complete the season. “If that means playing into the summer then we’re all willing to do that. The feeling is there’s an opportunity to be able to push next season back and still get an 82-game schedule in next year. Everything is on the table to try and get the (2019-20) season completed.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Every option is being considered, but the preference certainly seems to be a full completion of the current schedule and staging a full playoff format.

That could mean awarding the Stanley Cup by early September, holding a brief offseason period from mid-September into mid-October to stage the draft, open the free-agent period, and allow for salary-arbitration hearings. That could be followed by a two-three week training camp, with the 2020-21 season starting up in mid-November and the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs ending in late June or early July.

THE SCORE: Should the NHL schedule resume in empty arenas, Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper feels the players will quickly adjust to the absence of fans. He believes the players won’t notice a thing once the competitive juices and physical play begins.

SPORTSNET: Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby sent a message of love and support to his fellow Nova Scotians as the province grieves the senseless deaths of 22 people during a shooting rampage by a lone gunman last weekend. “I’m in Pittsburgh, but being from Nova Scotia, my heart and mind is home with all of you,” said the Cole Harbour native. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like everyone, I was shocked and horrified by what happened last weekend. I was raised in Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia. Many of my family still live there. I regularly drive through the area where many of those murders took place on route to visit my folks. My heart goes out to the victims’ families and friends.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning captain Steven Stamkos has resumed skating as he rehabs from his March 2 core muscle surgery. He’s expected to be fully recovered when the season resumes.

The Tampa Bay Lightning Are Flying Under The NHL Radar This Season

The Tampa Bay Lightning Are Flying Under The NHL Radar This Season