NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 29, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 29, 2020

The Tampa Bay Lightning are the 2020 Stanley Cup champions, Victor Hedman wins the Conn Smythe Trophy, plus the latest on the Flyers, Blackhawks, Golden Knights and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning are the Stanley Cup champions after blanking the Dallas Stars 2-0 in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, winning the series four games to two. Andrei Vasilevskiy turned in a 22-save shutout while Brayden Point and Blake Coleman were the goal scorers. Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

Tampa Bay Lightning are the 2020 Stanley Cup Champions (NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to the Lightning for a well-deserved championship run under quarantine conditions in Toronto and Edmonton. The Bolts just get better as the playoffs progressed, using their deep roster and solid defensive play to defeat their opponents They never suffered consecutive losses during this postseason. Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov finished with 34 points to lead all playoff scorers while linemate Brayden Point was the goal-scoring leader with 14 goals.

Give the Stars credit for getting this far. They gave everything they had against a strong Lightning club in this series but seemed to run out of gas in Game 6.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Interim Stars coach Rick Bowness deflected questions during the post-game press conference over whether he’ll return as Dallas’ bench boss. However, he said he still has the passion to coach.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stars owner Tom Gaglardi and general manager Jim Nill said Bowness earned the right to return as their full-time coach next season. I’ll be very surprised if he doesn’t. Bowness did a fine job guiding the Stars to their first Stanley Cup Final in 20 years.

SPORTSNET: For the ninth straight week, the NHL reported no positive COVID-19 tests.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Everyone involved in the NHL return-to-play plan deserves a big round of applause. Their collective goal was to stage a safe environment for a playoff tournament to crown a Stanley Cup champion. Mission accomplished.

TSN: NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr doesn’t expect to see all of next season played under playoff quarantine conditions. However, he suggested the possibility of a hybrid bubble to start next season.

Frank Seravalli reports the league and the PA will meet soon to begin discussions. One concept could be starting the season in four-to-six bubbles in various locations, preferably cities where fans can be allowed into the arenas. At least one bubble would be in Canada, given the current restrictions at the Canada-US border.

Seravalli said the plan could see teams start the season in hybrid bubbles and gradually progress toward teams hosting games in their home arenas and cities with limited capacity before hopefully ramping up to full capacity in time for the playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league and the PA won’t rush into anything. As they did with the return-to-play plan, they’ll take their time to evaluate all their options as they formulate a workable schedule for next season. They’ll also likely evaluate how the NFL and US college football handles their games with fans in the stands. As with the playoff tournament, player safety will be the priority.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers re-signed defenseman Robert Hagg to a two-year, $3.2 million contract extension. Hagg, 25, was a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. The Flyers also hired recently-retired forward Chris Stewart as a player development coach.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks traded forward Dylan Sikura to the Vegas Golden Knights for forward Brandon Pirri.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 15, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 15, 2020

The Dallas Stars are the Western Conference champions, plus updates on the Lightning, Islanders and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: For the first time in 20 years, the Dallas Stars are Western Conference champions and headed to the Stanley Cup Final. Denis Gurianov tallied an overtime power-play goal as the Stars overcame a 2-0 deficit to defeat the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2 in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final.

The Golden Knights held a 2-0 lead until Jamie Benn scored at 9:54 of the third period. Joel Kiviranta scored the tying goal on the power play at 16:13, setting the stage for Gurianov’s series winner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This series looked like it was heading to Game 6 when Reilly Smith made it 2-0 early in the third for the Golden Knights. Benn’s goal, however, shifted the game’s momentum. He finished this series with three goals and five points. This was the second straight series where Gurianov scored the series winner. He leads the Stars with nine goals in this postseason.

Penalties proved costly for the Golden Knights as the Stars tallied the tying and winning goals with the man advantage. The second one was a heartbreaker as rookie defenseman Zach Whitecloud was called for delay of game after he inadvertently clearing the puck over the boards.

The Golden Knights head into the offseason with some issues to address. You can read about them in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning captain Steven Stamkos was on the ice with half of his teammates for yesterday’s optional practice. He’s still not ready to play or participate in full practices but the club still hasn’t ruled out a possible return in the playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perhaps Stamkos might return if the Lightning advance to the Stanley Cup Final against Dallas. The Bolts hold a 3-1 series lead over the New York Islanders in the Eastern Conference Final with Game 5 tonight.

NEW YORK POST: Islanders head coach Barry Trotz could shake up his top line for Game 5 by making Brock Nelson the first-line center and moving Mathew Barzal into the second-line spot. He could also elevate winger Derick Brassard or center Jean-Gabriel Pageau to a top-six role.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’ll find out tonight what changes, if any, Trotz has in store for his roster. He must do something to counter the Lightning’s top line of Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat.

THE SCORE: The NHL has recorded no positive COVID-19 tests for the eighth straight week.

CALGARY SUN: The Flames have made interim coach Geoff Ward their full-time head coach.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise there given the support Flames general manager Brad Treliving gave Ward throughout this season.

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports NHL teams have until 5 pm ET on Oct. 7 to submit qualifying offers to their respective restricted free agents. The RFAs can begin signing them at noon ET on Oct. 9. Those offers expire at 5 pm ET on Oct. 18.

US HOCKEY HALL OF FAME: Former NHL star and current University of Wisconsin head coach Tony Granato has been inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. He joins Dean Blais, Jenny Potter and Jerry York among the class of 2020.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to all of this year’s inductees.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 11, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 11, 2020

The Stars regain the lead in the Western Conference Final, Sean Couturier wins the Selke Trophy, and updates on Alex Killorn, Brayden Point and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Alexander Radulov scored 31 seconds into overtime as the Dallas Stars edged the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2 in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final. The Stars hold a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Stars captain Jamie Benn had a goal and an assist while Anton Khudobin made 38 saves for the win. Mark Stone had two points for the Golden Knights, including the game-tying goal that forced overtime. Game 4 of the series is Saturday at 8 pm ET.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All of the scoring came in the third period, with the Golden Knights out-shooting the Stars 18-4 thanks to three power-play opportunities. Khudobin was outstanding for Dallas while Stars coach Rick Bowness’ decision to reunite Benn, Radulov and Tyler Seguin on the top line provided a much-needed boost to their offense.

Philadelphia Flyers center Sean Couturier is this year’s winner of the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the NHL’s top defensive forward.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to Couturier for a long-overdue recognition of his place among the league’s best defensive forwards. He’s the first Flyer to win the Selke since Dave Poulin in 1986-87.

The NHL Department of Player Safety suspended Tampa Bay Lightning winger Alex Killorn for one game for boarding New York Islanders center Brock Nelson in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final.

The Lightning could also be without their leading scorer for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final. Center Brayden Point left Game 2 with an undisclosed injury and might not dress for tonight’s contest with the Isles.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning coped without Killorn and Point for most of Game 2. It will be a bigger challenge offsetting their absences for the entirety of Game 3.

TSN: Frank Seravalli reports 17 NHL teams have slashed expenditures and reduced payroll amid a COVID-19 crunch. That includes Original Six teams like the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks.

Of the seven Canadian teams, only the Toronto Maple Leafs haven’t yet reduced the pay of staff members, including team presidents, coaches and general managers. The Ottawa Senators’ coaching staff received relief from the league after having their pay cut by 50 percent.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Seravalli points out, the teams are doing this because there’s been no meaningful revenue coming in since mid-March and none on the immediate horizon. He also anticipates those cuts will affect free agency and salary-cap payrolls.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki will test the free-agent market.

STLTODAY.COM: The St. Louis Blues re-signed forward Jacob de la Rose to a one-year, one-way contract worth $700K.

TSN: The Edmonton Oilers signed forward Adam Cracknell to a one-year, two-way contract.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes signed a three-year agreement with the Chicago Wolves to be their new AHL affiliate.

NHL.COM: The Charlotte Checkers (the Hurricanes’ former AHL farm club) signed a multi-year affiliation deal with the Florida Panthers.

CBS SPORTS: Former Colorado Avalanche defenseman Mark Barberio signed a three-year contract with Lausanne HC of Switzerland’s National League.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 8, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 8, 2020

The Lightning crush the Islanders to open the Eastern Conference Final, Bobby Ryan wins the Masterton Trophy, plus updates on Sean Couturier, Mikael Granlund and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning thumped the New York Islanders 8-2 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final. Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov each collected five points while Victor Hedman and Kevin Shattenkirk each had three points. Jordan Eberle and Nick Leddy replied for the Islanders, who pulled goalie Thomas Greiss in the first period after he gave up three goals on nine shots.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning dominated the Islanders from the opening faceoff to the final whistle. Whatever the reason – lack of time to prepare following their Game 7 win over the Flyers on Saturday, the travel day between games – the Isles were flat in this contest. The Bolts aren’t expecting further lopsided wins in this series as their opponent is expected to put up a better effort in Game 2 on Wednesday.

Ottawa Senators winger Bobby Ryan is this year’s winner of the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for perseverance. He took an extended leave of absence in November to receive treatment for alcohol abuse. Ryan returned in February and tallied a hat trick in his second game back.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to Ryan and best wishes in his ongoing recovery.

THE SCORE: The NHL recorded its seventh consecutive week of zero positive COVID-19 tests among its players and staff participating in the return-to-play plan.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Once again, the league and the NHLPA deserve praise for how they’ve pulled this off. None of the doom-and-gloom forecasts from some observers came to pass.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers center Sean Couturier played through a sprained MCL during Game 7 against the Islanders.

THE ATHLETIC: Nashville Predators winger Mikael Granlund intends to test this year’s unrestricted free agent market.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 25, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 25, 2020

Islanders blank the Flyers, Stars take 2-0 series lead over the Avalanche, the mental challenge of life inside the playoff bubble, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Semyon Varlamov made history with 29 saves as the New York Islanders blanked the Philadelphia Flyers 4-0 in Game 1 of their second-round series. Varlamov became the first goalie in franchise history to record consecutive playoff shutouts. Defenseman Andy Greene’s first-period goal proved to be the game-winner. It was also his first postseason goal in 10 years, with the last also coming against the Flyers.

New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders did a fine job neutralizing the Flyers with strong defensive play, solid goaltending, and an aggressive forecheck. Many of the Flyers’ leading scorers are struggling to find the back of the net in this postseason. Their playoff bubble will burst if they don’t address this soon.

The Dallas Stars overcame a 2-0 deficit to defeat the Colorado Avalanche 5-2, taking a 2-0 lead in their second-round series. The Stars tallied four goals in the second period, including two on the power-play. Joe Pavelski netted his team-leading seventh goal while Alexander Radulov had a goal and an assist.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avs’ inability to score with a 5-on-3 when the game was tied was the turning point. Esa Lindell’s controversial goal late in the second period gave the Stars a 4-2 lead that the Avs couldn’t overcome. Colorado also came into this game without goaltender Philipp Grubauer and defenseman Erik Johnson. Both are sidelined indefinitely following injuries suffered in Game 1.

HEADLINES

SPORTSNET: The NHL’s received no positive COVID-19 tests for the fourth straight week inside their Edmonton and Toronto bubbles.

ASSOCIATED PRESS (via Chicago Sun-Times): Bubble fatigue is becoming a mental challenge for teams participating in the NHL’s return-to-play plan. Close confines, daily COVID testing, restricted access, monotony, and separation from families are weighing heavily on everyone.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly indicated the league is “actively trying to minimize” the length of the playoffs because of “the dynamics and constraints of ‘bubble life’”. He added the league “will continue to pursue all ‘move up’ opportunities aggressively as we go forward.” The league is still checking with health officials to determine if families can join the players within the bubbles before or during the Conference Finals.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: For the most part, everyone involved is doing their best to cope with this situation. Nevertheless, it’s apparent the league will try to keep the postseason moving briskly to complete the schedule as quickly as possible.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh is a game-day decision for tonight’s second game of his club’s second-round series with the Boston Bruins. McDonagh left the third period of Game 1 with an undisclosed injury.

THE BOSTON GLOBE: The Bruins might have to turn to rookie backup goalie Dan Vladar for Game 3 against the Lightning tomorrow night. Jaroslav Halak is expected to start Game 2.

THE SCORE: Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk suffered a concussion against the Dallas Stars in their first-round series. Defenseman Rasmus Andersson suffered a broken foot and forward Sam Bennett had a torn triceps muscle.

STLTODAY.COM: Long-time Blues forward Alexander Steen indicated he intends to return for his 16th NHL season, which would also be his 13th with the Blues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Steen is frequently mentioned as a cost-cutting candidate as the Blues attempt to free up salary-cap space to re-sign captain Alex Pietrangelo and blueliner Vince Dunn. Steen, however, carries a full no-trade clause into next season.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings yesterday re-signed forward Robby Fabbri to a two-year, $5.9-million contract extension.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 4, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 4, 2020

Recaps of Monday’s games, plus updates on Tuukka Rask, Micheal Ferland, Michael Raffl, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Connor McDavid’s first NHL career playoff hat trick led the Edmonton Oilers over the Chicago Blackhawks 6-3, tying their best-of-five qualifying round series at one game apiece. Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins picked up three assists. Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane has a goal and an assist while teammate Alex DeBrincat collected two assists. Chicago rookie Dominik Kubalik was held scoreless after tallying five points in the series opener.

 

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This series isn’t what you’d call a defensive struggle. Indeed, it’s been a throwback to the freewheeling style of the 1980s: fast-paced, high-scoring, sloppy, and entertaining. It’s my favorite of the qualifiers thus far.

Andrei Svechnikov tallied his first playoff hat trick and Sebastian Aho collected three assists to lead the Carolina Hurricanes over the New York Rangers 4-1. Artemi Panarin replied for the Rangers. Svechnikov’s hat trick was also the first in franchise history, including its years as the Hartford Whalers. The Hurricanes hold a 2-0 series lead and can wrap things up today in Game 3.  

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a dominant performance by the Hurricanes’ one-two punch of Svechnikov and Aho, and by the team as a whole. Their aggressive forecheck overwhelmed the Rangers, smothering their offense and forcing them to play catch-up throughout the game.

Nikolaj Ehlers’ third-period goal snapped a 2-2 tie as the Winnipeg Jets edged the Calgary Flames 3-2, tying their best-of-five qualifying round series at a game apiece. Jansen Harkins and Adam Lowry gave the Jets an early lead but the Flames tied it on goals by Elias Lindholm and Sam Bennett. It was Ehlers’ first NHL playoff goal. Connor Hellebuyck made 28 saves for the win.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A big bounce-back win for the Jets after dropping Game 1 and losing scorers Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine. No word yet as to when those two will return to the lineup, but their teammates did a fine job compensating for their absence.

The Pittsburgh Penguins evened their series with the Montreal Canadiens with a 3-1 victory. Sidney Crosby opened the scoring and Jason Zucker tallied the game-winner late in the third period. Jesperi Kotkaniemi replied for the Habs, who were kept in this game by Carey Price’s stellar goaltending.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins were more dominant in this contest compared to the series opener, generating more quality scoring chances and keeping the underdog Canadiens on their heels. If not for Price’s performance, the Penguins would’ve enjoyed a wider margin of victory.

Four unanswered third-period goals by Mark Stone, Nate Schmidt, William Carrier, and William Karlsson powered the Vegas Golden Knights over the Dallas Stars 5-3 in round-robin play. Stars defenseman Miro Heiskanen assisted on all of his club’s three goals. Before the game, Stars’ Tyler Seguin and Jason Dickinson and Golden Knights’ Ryan Reaves and Robin Lehner took a knee during the national anthems in support of racial equality.

 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not to take anything away from the Golden Knights’ comeback, but the Stars gave this game away. They were in control entering the third period but sat back on the lead and it cost them.

The Tampa Bay Lightning edged the Washington Capitals 3-2 in round-robin action on shootout goals by Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov. The Capitals played without defenseman John Carlson, who remains sidelined after leaving last week’s exhibition game against the Hurricanes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Still no word on when Carlson will return. He could be back before the end of the week. 

HEADLINES

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Tuukka Rask was back in the Bruins’ net during practice yesterday after being “unfit to participate” over the weekend with a cough. He was tested multiple times for COVID-19 before being allowed to return.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers winger Michael Raffl will miss some time after suffering an undisclosed injury during a round-robin game Sunday with the Bruins. Raffl appeared to be favoring a leg as he left the game following a collision with Bruins defenseman Jeremy Lauzon.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks winger Micheal Ferland received a $5,000.00 fine for spearing Minnesota Wild forward Ryan Hartman during Game 1 of their qualifier.

DETROIT FREE PRESS: The Red Wings have loaned prospect defenseman Moritz Seider to his old German club (Adler Mannheim) with the understanding he’ll return to the Wings for training camp ahead of next season. The NHL’s 2020-21 campaign is tentatively slated to begin Dec. 1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Expect more European prospects on the seven non-playoff teams to follow the Red Wings lead. Given the usually long off-season facing those clubs, it’s best to try and get those kids some playing time where possible.

SPORTSNET: The NHL received no positive COVID-19 tests during the first week of Phase 4 of its return-to-play plan. Over 7,000 tests were administered during that time.