NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 5, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 5, 2022

The Hurricanes widen their lead in the Eastern Conference standings, Joe Pavelski reaches a career milestone, more front-office changes for the Blackhawks, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes (81 points) opened a three-point lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning atop the Eastern Conference by downing the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2. The Hurricanes overcame a 2-0 deficit on two goals by Jordan Staal, setting the stage for Andrei Svechnikov’s overtime winner. Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel each had a goal and an assist for the Penguins, who are four points behind the Hurricanes.

Carolina Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Earlier in the day, the Penguins placed defenseman Mike Matheson on injured reserve retroactive to Feb. 24. He’s week-to-week with an upper-body injury.

Speaking of the Lightning, Victor Hedman collected three assists in a 3-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov had two assists while Brian Elliott picked up the win with 22 saves. The Bolts hold a one-point lead over the Florida Panthers for first place in the Atlantic Division.

Igor Shesterkin stopped 32 shots to backstop the New York Rangers to a 3-1 win over the New Jersey Devils. Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider each had a goal and an assist, with the latter tallying his 36th goal of the season to sit third in the NHL goal-scoring race. The Rangers (75 points) are two points behind the second-place Penguins in the Metropolitan Division.

A hat trick by Jason Robertson (including the winning goal in overtime) carried the Dallas Stars over the Winnipeg Jets 4-3. Stars forward Joe Pavelski picked up an assist to earn his 900th career point while goaltender Braden Holtby made 39 saves for the win. Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers also had an assist as he returned to the lineup following a 19-game absence with a knee injury. The Stars (65 points) moved one point ahead of the Nashville Predators into the first wild-card berth in the Western Conference while the Jets (58 points) are six points behind the Predators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Keep an eye on the Jets over the next couple of weeks. They could become sellers by the March 21 trade deadline if they don’t gain ground in the Western Conference wild-card race. The Stars, meanwhile, are less likely to be sellers if they can maintain their hold on a playoff berth.

Viktor Arvidsson completed his hat trick with an overtime goal as the Los Angeles Kings overcame a 3-1 deficit to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3. The Kings sit in second place in the Pacific Division with 67 points.

Vegas Golden Knights forward Michael Amadio had a goal and two assists as his club held off the Anaheim Ducks 5-4, moving into third place in the Pacific Division with 66 points. Nicolas Roy also tallied twice for the Golden Knights. With 61 points, the Ducks are three back of the Predators.

Jeff Skinner scored two goals as the Buffalo Sabres upset the Minnesota Wild 5-4 to hand the latter their seventh loss in their last nine games. Kirill Kaprizov tallied twice for the Wild while linemate Mats Zuccarello missed this game with an undisclosed injury. Minnesota is third in the Central Division with 67 points.

HEADLINES

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks announced yesterday that vice president of amateur scouting Mark Kelley and assistant GM of pro evaluation Ryan Stewart have left the team. The pair were part of the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup wins in 2010, 2013 and 2015.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs forward Wayne Simmonds will play in his 1,000th career NHL game tonight against the Vancouver Canucks

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The injury bug has bitten the Canadiens again as goaltender Andrew Hammond was placed on injured reserve. Cayden Primeau has been recalled from Laval.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Top Russian prospects such as Danila Yurov and Alexander Perevalov could see their stock plummet in this year’s NHL draft due to their country’s invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent international sanctions and bans implemented upon Russian hockey as a result.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 20, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 20, 2022

Recaps of Wednesday’s action, the league announces updates to its 2021-22 schedule, the Canadiens introduce Kent Hughes as their new GM, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Colorado Avalanche goaltender Pavel Francouz turned in a 34-save shutout to blank the Anaheim Ducks 2-0. Samuel Girard and Nazem Kadri were the goal scorers as the Avalanche picked up their fourth straight win and their ninth in the last 10 games. They also opened a four-point lead over the St. Louis Blues atop the Western Conference with 55 points.

New York Rangers forward Ryan Reaves (NHL Images).

The New York Rangers overcame a 3-1 deficit and rolled to a 6-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Adam Fox and Ryan Reaves each scored two goals as the Rangers moved into first place in the Metropolitan Division with 56 points. Mitch Marner had a goal and an assist for the Leafs, who remain in third place with 51 points in the Atlantic Division.

Arizona Coyotes goalie Karel Vejmelka kicked out 35 shots in a 4-1 win over the New Jersey Devils. Lawson Crouse and Loui Eriksson each had two points. Coyote defenseman Jakob Chychrun picked up an assist in his return to action after being sidelined for 11 games by an upper-body injury and COVID protocols.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: The league will play 95 games from Feb. 7 – 22 as part of its comprehensive update to its 2021-22 schedule. That three-week window was originally scheduled for the 2022 Winter Olympic break. With the NHL withdrawing from the Beijing Games, this period will be used to make up a number of games postponed by COVID protocols.

THE SCORE: Newly appointed Montreal Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes held his introductory press conference yesterday at the Bell Centre. His plans for the club include building an offensive-minded club with a focus on speed and puck possession.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hughes will have two months to determine which players he could shop before the March 21 trade deadline. Pending UFAs such as Ben Chiarot are the most likely to be moved. There are also questions over the futures of veterans such as Carey Price, Brendan Gallagher and Jonathan Drouin over whether they’ll want to be part of a full rebuild if that’s the direction the Habs take under Hughes. Those will likely be addressed in the offseason given their expensive contracts.

NHL.COM: Jack Eichel will be traveling with the Vegas Golden Knights on its four-game road trip next week. However, head coach Peter DeBoer said the 25-year-old center is at least a month or two away from making his debut with the club. The Golden Knights acquire Eichel from the Buffalo Sabres in November and he underwent artificial disk replacement surgery on Nov. 12. He started skating with the club earlier this month in a non-contact jersey.

SPORTSNET’s Nick Kypreos reports he’s heard the NHL will need until the end of this week to complete its investigation into whether Evander Kane violated COVID protocols during his tenure with the San Jose Sharks AHL affiliate. No decision is expected until next week at the earliest.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s speculation Kane could soon sign a new NHL contract if the league rules in his favor, perhaps with the Edmonton Oilers.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov received a two-game suspension by the NHL’s department of player safety for a knee-on-knee hit on Winnipeg Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers on Tuesday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ehlers is expected to be sidelined for at least three games.

SPORTSNET: Montreal Canadiens winger Jonathan Drouin was fined $5,000.00 for cross-checking Dallas Stars center Tyler Seguin on Tuesday.

Los Angeles Kings center Phillip Danault received a $5,000.00 fine for a dangerous trip of Tampa Bay Lightning forward Brayden Point.

MLIVE.COM: The Detroit Red Wings claimed center Gemel Smith off waivers from the Tampa Bay Lightning. He’s the older brother of Red Wings winger Givani Smith.

NBC SPORTS: One day after the Boston Bruins retired Willie O’Ree’s No. 22, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill to award the 86-year-old the Congressional Gold Medal. He was a hockey pioneer by becoming the first black man to play in the NHL.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to O’Ree for this recognition of his work as a hockey trailblazer during and after his playing days.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 19, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 19, 2022

The Bruins retire the number of hockey pioneer Willie O’Ree, the Canadiens hire Kent Hughes as their new general manager, updated COVID protocols are announced and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Boston Bruins retired hockey pioneer Willie O’Ree’s No. 22 in a pregame ceremony last night. It was the 64th anniversary of O’Ree’s debut as the first black player in NHL history with the Bruins, becoming the 12th player in franchise history to have his number retired.

The Boston Bruins raise Willie O’Ree’s No. 22 banner (NHL.com).

Following the ceremony, the Bruins were thumped by the Carolina Hurricanes 7-1. Jesperi Kotkaniemi scored two of the Hurricanes’ five goals in the first period while Jaccob Slavin and Tony DeAngelo each finished the night with three points. Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask was pulled after giving up five goals on 12 shots. The Hurricanes are tied with the New York Rangers atop the Metropolitan Division with 54 points but hold three games in hand while the Bruins hold the final wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference with 46 points.

Johnny Gaudreau collected four assists as the Calgary Flames snapped a four-game losing skid to drop the Florida Panthers 5-1, ending the latter’s nine-game points streak. Sean Monahan scored twice and Matthew Tkachuk collected three points. Sam Bennett scored for the Panthers in his first game in Calgary since being traded to Florida last season. The Flames (42 points) move within two points of the San Jose Sharks for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference. The Panthers (57 points) slip to second in the overall standings.

Victor Hedman scored twice and chipped in an assist to give the Tampa Bay Lightning a 6-4 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Despite playing with 12 forwards and four defensemen, the shorthanded Lightning picked up their fourth straight win to regain first place in the overall standings with 59 points. The Kings (45 points) remain in second place in the Pacific Division.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin tallied his league-leading 27th goal in a 4-3 win over the Winnipeg Jets. Tom Wilson netted the game-winner in overtime as the Capitals (53 points) sit one point behind the second-place Rangers in the Metropolitan Division. Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers could be sidelined for more than one game after leaving in the third period following a knee-on-knee collision with Capitals defenseman Dmitri Orlov. With 40 points, the Jets are two back of the Flames.

The Vancouver Canucks got a 31-save performance from Thatcher Demko to down the Nashville Predators 3-1, handing the latter their fourth straight defeat. Brock Boeser and Elias Pettersson each scored for the Canucks, who sit one point behind the Jets. The Predators, meanwhile are third in the Central Division with 51 points.

New York Islanders forward Oliver Wahlstrom scored in the ninth round of a shootout to give his club a 4-3 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers, who’ve lost nine straight games. Semyon Varlamov turned aside 31 shots to give the Isles their sixth win in their last eight games. Earlier in the day, the Flyers announced center Kevin Hayes will miss the next three to four weeks following a procedure to drain fluid from his adductor region.

Buffalo Sabres goalie Michael Hauser kicked out 43 shots in his season debut to backstop his club over the Ottawa Senators 3-1. Alex Tuch and Dylan Cozens each had a goal and an assist for the Sabres.

Montreal Canadiens netminder Sam Montembault turned aside a career-high 48 shots in a 5-3 victory over the slumping Dallas Stars. Christian Dvorak scored twice while Tyler Toffoli had a goal and an assist in his first game back with the Canadiens since Nov. 20. The Stars have dropped three straight and slip one point behind the Canucks.

HEADLINES

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Prior to yesterday’s game against the Stars, the Canadiens announced they’ve hired Kent Hughes as their new general manager. A bilingual Montreal native, Hughes was a player agent with a client list that included such notables as Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron, Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang, Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse and New York Islanders winger Anthony Beauvillier.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hughes hiring received widespread acclaim among NHL pundits. He built up an excellent reputation during his years as an agent. He understands the business of hockey, especially dealing with players and negotiating contracts.

Canadiens Executive VP of Hockey Ops Jeff Gorton is good friends with Hughes and reportedly wanted him for the job from the start. However, the latter apparently needed some convincing before agreeing to a five-year deal with the Canadiens.

This hiring should allay concerns among some Canadiens followers that Gorton was seeking a frontman while he pulled the management strings. Hughes wouldn’t have left his lucrative gig to be a puppet GM even for a friend.

Hughes and Gorton now face the daunting challenge of rebuilding a Canadiens roster seriously depleted by injuries to superstars Carey Price and Shea Weber, the departures of leaders such as Phillip Danault and Corey Perry to free agency, and significant talent gaps in the roster. They must decide the fate of embattled head coach Dominique Ducharme, who has two years remaining on his contract.

NHL.COM: The NHL and NHLPA announced it will stop testing asymptomatic players, coaches and staff who are fully vaccinated following the All-Star Break in early February, saying COVID-19 cases are declining around the league. The current testing policy will remain in place until Feb. 3.

Testing of asymptomatic individuals will continue when it is needed for crossing the Canada-US border. One negative test result will be required for players to return to team facilities following the All-Star break. The 90-day testing “holiday” for those who have recovered from COVID-19 will remain in place. Both sides also agreed to maintain the five-day isolation period for those who test positive.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL and NHLPA want to avoid any further game postponements that could jeopardize their intent of ending the regular season on April 29. It also appears they don’t want rosters to become significantly depleted as teams jockey for playoff positioning over the final half of the schedule.

SPORTSNET: Anaheim Ducks defenseman Josh Manson, Arizona Coyotes forward Antoine Roussel, Montreal Canadiens wingers Cole Caufield and Joel Armia and Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat are the latest notable players to enter the NHL COVID protocol.

NHL.COM: Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos, Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri, Anaheim Ducks winger Troy Terry and Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jake Guentzel have been named the Last Men In for the 2022 Honda NHL All-Star Game.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Muzzin (concussion) will miss their upcoming games against the New York Rangers and New York Islanders.

AWFUL ANNOUNCING: Edmonton Oilers star Leon Draisaitl got into a testy exchange yesterday with Edmonton Journal reporter Jim Matheson during a press conference yesterday. At one point, Matheson asked Draisail, “Why are you being so pissy?” after the forward declined to give much of an answer to one of his questions.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers’ poor play of late now seems to have ratcheted up tensions between the players and some of the reporters covering the club. Maybe Draisaitl should’ve been more forthcoming but most hockey players talk in cliches when addressing the media so I don’t know what answer Matheson thought he was going to get out of him with that catty remark.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 31, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 31, 2021

Check out the latest on Jonathan Toews, Connor McDavid, Matthew Tkachuk, Nikolaj Ehlers and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE ATHLETIC: in an exclusive interview with Mark Lazerus, Jonathan Toews acknowledged he’s probably a COVID “long hauler” given the tell-tale signs of a bout with the coronavirus in February 2020 before the pandemic became widespread. Combined with the cumulative effect of his long NHL career, it led to the symptoms of a mysterious illness that cost him a year, including the entirety of the 2020-21 season.

Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews (NHL Images).

Toews’ doctors initially believed his condition was due to chronic immune response syndrome. Feeling rejuvenated, he intends on returning to action this season. He also said he doesn’t want his story to overshadow the lawsuits by two former players against the Blackhawks alleging the club’s inaction to address their allegations of sexual assault by the team’s former video coach a decade ago.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toews might not be the only NHL player who contracted COVID-19 well before the league shut down the remainder of the regular season in March 2020. Many of them may have been asymptomatic.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid’s focus this season is on becoming a more complete player. He believes the key to helping his club go deeper in the playoffs is improving his play without the puck and in his own zone.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Working on the defensive aspects of his game may help McDavid improve his all-around game, but he still needs a good supporting cast for his Oilers to become a serious Stanley Cup contender. While the roster has improved they still have a ways to go no matter how much their captain’s game evolves.

THE SCORE: Matthew Tkachuk is entering 2021-22 determined to help the Calgary Flames stage a long postseason run. The Flames reached the playoffs in three of his five seasons in Calgary but failed to advance beyond the first round.

NBC BOSTON: An emotional funeral and procession were held on Monday for former Bruin Jimmy Hayes in his hometown of Dorchester, Massachusetts yesterday. Hayes died suddenly last week at age 31. His brother, Philadelphia Flyers forward Kevin Hayes, recalled Jimmy bringing a cancer-stricken youngster to the Bruins locker room, giving the child one of his best memories before he succumbed to the disease.

NHL.COM: Denmark defeated Norway 2-0 to qualify for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics thanks to an insurance goal by Winnipeg Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres forward Zemgus Girgensons collected an assist to help Latvia qualify for the Beijing Games in a 2-1 win over France in Group E qualification action on Sunday.

THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators re-signed winger Eeli Tolvanen to a three-year, $4.35 million contract.

Former NHLer Matt Calvert has joined the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings as a development coach. Injuries forced Calvert to announce his retirement earlier this year after 11 seasons.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes signed Dylan Guenther to a three-year entry-level contract. He was the ninth overall pick in this year’s NHL Draft.

PHILLY.COM:The Philadelphia Flyers will name a new inductee into their Hall of Fame for the first time in five years.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 10, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 10, 2021

The Islanders advance to the semifinals, the Norris Trophy finalists are announced, plus the latest on Mark Scheifele, Nikolaj Ehlers and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The New York Islanders advanced to the semifinals of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 6-2 victory over the Boston Bruins to end their series in six games. Brock Nelson scored two second-period goals to snap a 1-1 tie while Semyon Varlamov made 23 saves for the win. Brad Marchand tallied both Bruins goals. The Isles face the Tampa Bay Lighting for the second straight year in the third round.

New York Islanders forward Brock Nelson (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders were the better team in this series. They took control of this game in the second on those goals by Nelson with Kyle Palmieri making it 4-1 in the final minutes of the frame.

The Bruins were without sidelined defensemen Brandon Carlo and Kevan Miller. Goaltender Tuukka Rask acknowledged he was hampered by a nagging injury, raising questions over coach Bruce Cassidy’s decision to play him in this crucial game.

Adam Fox of the New York Rangers, Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche are this year’s finalists for the James Norris Memorial Trophy.

TSN: Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele still doesn’t believe he deserved a four-game suspension for charging Montreal Canadiens forward Jake Evans during their second-round series. “I thought I was going to be tried to be shut down by (Canadiens center) Phillip Danault,” said Scheifele. “Instead it was the Department of Player Safety that shut me down.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Scheifele shut himself down. He let his frustration get the better of him. Rather than accept the Game 1 loss and put the focus on rallying back in Game 2, he made a reckless hit that took himself out of the series. It contributed to the Jets getting swept from the second round by the Canadiens. Scheifele’s suspension is his fault. The sooner he accepts it the better.

Speaking of Evans, he resumed off-ice training yesterday after suffering a concussion from Scheifele’s hit that sidelined him for the rest of the second-round series. There’s no timeline for his return to play but Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme said he could return at some point in the semifinals. Defenseman Jeff Petry could also return for the semis after injuring his right hand in Game 3 against the Jets.

SPORTSNET: Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers claims he felt 100 percent during the playoffs but revealed he suffered a posterior labrum tear in his shoulder and a first-rib cartilage fracture.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The injuries affected Ehlers’ play as he managed just three points in six games. He enjoyed perhaps the best performance of his career during the regular season, tallying 46 points in 47 games.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin hired Ray Shero as senior advisor. Shero is the former general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins and New Jersey Devils.

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks hired former Columbus Blue Jackets assistant coach Brad Shaw as an assistant coach. He’s expected to help the Canucks improve their porous defense.

THE SCORE: New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban will serve as an ESPN in-studio NHL analyst for the remainder of the playoffs. The company is also reportedly hiring NHL Network analyst Kevin Weekes, as well as A.J. Mleczko Griswold and Ryan Callahan. Turner Sports, meanwhile, is bringing about NBC/Sportsnet analyst Anson Carter.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 3, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 3, 2021

The Avalanche take a 2-0 series lead over the Golden Knights, the Canadiens beat the Jets in their second-round series opener, the Sabres win the draft lottery, the Ted Lindsay Award finalists are announced, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Mikko Rantanen’s overtime power-play goal lifted the Colorado Avalanche to a 3-2 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights and a 2-0 lead in their second-round series. Brandon Saad and Tyson Jost also scored for Colorado while Alec Martinez and Reilly Smith replied for Vegas. Avalanche netminder Philipp Grubauer made 39 saves. Marc-Andre Fleury returned to the Golden Knights’ net after being the backup in Game 1.

Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vegas coach Peter DeBoer wasn’t happy with the officiating on the slashing call on Rielly Smith that led to Rantanen’s PP goal. “Just a soft call”, he said, going on to accuse the Avalanche players of embellishment throughout the game.

The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Winnipeg Jets 5-3 in Game 1 of their second-round series. Eric Staal had a goal and an assist while Carey Price made 27 saves for the win. Their victory, however, was overshadowed by a dangerous hit by Jets center Mark Scheifele on Habs center Jake Evans as the latter was scoring an empty net. Evans was stretchered from the ice while Scheifele received a major penalty for charging and a game misconduct.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was out of character for Scheifele, who has no history of supplemental discipline. He let his emotions get away with him and could face a suspension. Evans, meanwhile, was evaluated by the Canadiens’ medical staff. John Shannon reported he was back at the team hotel following the game, where he was described as doing fine, alert but shaken.

It should be noted that Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers protected the prone Evans during the ensuing scrum. He also called for additional medical attention for the fallen Hab. “In a situation like that, you don’t want anyone falling on top of him,” said Ehlers. “I was just trying to keep everyone away.”

Winnipeg center Paul Stastny missed this game with an undisclosed injury. Jets defenseman Dylan DeMelo left the game early in the first period with a lower-body injury.

The Buffalo Sabres won the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NHL Draft Lottery yesterday. The expansion Seattle Kraken won the second-overall pick while the Anaheim Ducks will select third.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres could select University of Michigan defenseman Owen Power. He’s listed as this year’s top prospect by NHL Central Scouting.

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, and Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid are the finalists for the Ted Lindsay Award.

TORONTO STAR: Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan defended his team’s top-four players during the club’s end-of-season press conference. He did, however, acknowledge the club lacked a “killer instinct” that must be addressed.

SPORTSNET: Leafs captain John Tavares said he’s doing “really well” in his recovery from the traumatic head injury suffered during Game 1 against the Canadiens. Tavares missed the rest of the series with a concussion and a knee injury. He said he has no memory of the incident and doesn’t intend to watch the replay.

TSN: Leafs winger Mitch Marner denied a report that he refused to play a goal-line role on the club’s power play. “It’s a complete lie,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Don’t expect Marner, Tavares, Matthews or William Nylander to be traded this summer if Shanahan’s comments are anything to go by. However, that hasn’t stopped the speculation among the Toronto media. I’ll have more in today’s Rumor Mill.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes center Vincent Trocheck’s status for Game 3 tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning remains uncertain. He was still being evaluated yesterday following his ankle-to-ankle collision with teammate Warren Foegele in Game 2.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins winger Craig Smith could return to the lineup for Game 3 tonight against the New York Islanders. He missed Game 2 with a lower-body injury suffered during the previous game.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Ron Hextall said he’d be comfortable returning with the same group of players next season. He defended beleaguered starting goaltender Tristan Jarry, lauded the coaching staff and expects core players like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang to return next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hextall and president of hockey ops Brian Burke intend to bring some size and toughness to the line next season. There will be some changes but those will likely involve their secondary players. They could also acquire an experienced backup as a mentor for Jarry.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers center Kevin Hayes underwent successful sports hernia surgery last week. His expected recovery period is five weeks.