NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 6, 2023
The Golden Knights take a 2-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final, the Canadiens sign Cole Caufield to a long-term contract, the Ducks hire a new head coach, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
GOLDEN KNIGHTS TAKE 2-0 LEAD IN THE STANLEY CUP FINAL
NHL.COM: The Vegas Golden Knights thumped the Florida Panthers 7-2 to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Stanley Cup Final. Jonathan Marchessault scored twice and added an assist, Brett Howden tallied two goals, Jack Eichel had two assists and Adin Hill made 29 saves for the win.
Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky got the hook early in the second period after giving up four goals on 13 shots as the Golden Knights jumped to a 4-0 lead. Anton Lundell and Matthew Tkachuk replied for the Panthers.
Tkachuk leveled Eichel with a hard, clean open-ice hit late in the second period. Eichel briefly left the game but returned to action in the third period. Tkachuk received a 10-minute misconduct and a two-minute roughing penalty in a scrum following the hit.
The Panthers winger would receive another misconduct late in the third period. He has a combined 36 penalty minutes in this series thus far, setting an NHL record for the most through the first two games of a Stanley Cup Final.
Panthers defenseman Radko Gudas left the game early in the first period following a hit by Golden Knights forward Ivan Barbashev. Panthers forward Eetu Luostarinen remained sidelined for the second straight game due to a lower-body injury suffered in the final game of the Eastern Conference Final.
The series shifts to Florida for the next two games. Game 3 will be Thursday at 8 pm ET.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights dominated Game 2 from the opening faceoff, taking advantage of Florida’s porous defense and undisciplined play. Bobrovsky had a rough outing but Panthers coach Paul Maurice believed his club should’ve played better in front of their goalie. Their sloppy performance has prompted some to suggest that their 10-day layoff between series has done them more harm than good.
Tkachuk’s thunderous bodycheck on Eichel was done in part to try to light a spark under his floundering teammates. Following the game, the Golden Knights center said it was a clean hit. “Got to be aware of it,” Eichel said. “Got to keep your head up. I’ll be fine.” He shrugged off concerns about an injury, claiming that he left the game because he’d had the wind knocked out of him. He would set up Marchessault’s second goal in the third period.
Speaking of Marchessault, he is likely moving into consideration for the Conn Smythe Trophy. After managing just two assists in Vegas’ first seven games of this postseason, he’s since tallied 12 goals and 19 points, including three goals and four points against the Panthers. The Golden Knights’ Twitter handle trolled Florida during Game 2, pointing out that they chose Marchessault when the Panthers left him unprotected in the 2017 expansion draft.
MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: The Canadiens signed Cole Caufield to an eight-year, $62.8 million contract worth an average annual value of $7.85 million. That makes the 22-year-old winger the second-highest-paid skater on the team next season, earning just $25,000 less than linemate and team captain Nick Suzuki.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Caufield’s contract is front-loaded as he’ll earn $9.975 million in each of the first two seasons as well as a $5 million signing bonus for each of those seasons.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Caufield emerged as a gifted young sniper since joining the Canadiens late in the 2020-21 season, helping the Habs reach the 2021 Stanley Cup Final.
The young winger struggled through the first half of 2021-22 until Martin St. Louis took over as head coach. Under St. Louis, Caufield has tallied 48 goals in 83 games, including 26 goals in 46 games before suffering a season-ending shoulder surgery in January.
Caufield has the potential to become a consistent 40-goal scorer. If he regularly reaches that plateau, his contract will be a bargain for the Canadiens over the next eight years.
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks announced yesterday that they’ve hired Greg Cronin as their new head coach. Cronin spent the past five seasons coaching the AHL’s Colorado Eagles.
“Being a young team, I felt we need a teacher of the finer points of the game, and someone who has worked extensively over time with talented young players, helping them develop into successful NHL players,” said Ducks general manager Pat Verbeek. “Greg has done all that and more, and we are excited to name him head coach of the Anaheim Ducks.”
NEW YORK POST: Despite rumors linking Patrick Roy to the New York Rangers, the club does not consider him a coaching candidate and will not interview him for the position. Former Nashville Predators coach John Hynes and former Washington Capitals bench boss Peter Laviolette are considered the front-runners for the job.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Roy guided his Quebec Remparts to the QMJHL championship and the Memorial Cup this season. He was also the head coach of the Colorado Avalanche from 2013-14 to 2015-16. There’s speculation one of the prospective owners of the Ottawa Senators could be interested in hiring Roy if their efforts to purchase the club are successful.
THE ATHLETIC: Chris Chelios will not have his contract as an in-studio hockey analyst with ESPN renewed at the end of this season. The move is part of a series of budget cuts by the network.
TSN: Michael Thompson, the general manager of infrastructure services for the city of Calgary, said the $1.2 billion deal to replace the aging Saddledome comes with a 35-year lease that includes a commitment from the Flames to remain in the city.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The deal is drawing increasing criticism from those concerned with the high cost of the project and how it will be funded. One critic said the agreement would ultimately generate no operating revenue for the city.