NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 14, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 14, 2020

Recaps of Thursday’s playoff games, Canadiens coach Claude Julien hospitalized, Dan Hamhuis retires, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

Vegas Golden Knights winger Reilly Smith (NHL Images).

  NHL.COM: The Vegas Golden Knights edged the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 on Reilly Smith’s overtime goal in Game 2 of their first-round series, which Vegas now leads 2-0. It was goalie Robin Lehner’s seventh straight win in as many starts with the Golden Knights, who were without winger Max Pacioretty (unfit to play) in Game 2. His replacement, Tomas Nosek, left the game in the second period. Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane collected three assists.

 

    Dougie Hamilton’s third-period goal lifted the Carolina Hurricanes to a 3-2 win over the Boston Bruins in Game 2 of their series, tying it at a game apiece. Hurricanes winger Andrei Svechnikov had a goal and an assist. Brad Marchand and David Krejci each had a goal and an assist for the Bruins, who were without winger David Pastrnak following an apparent leg injury suffered in Game 1.  

 

 

Boston goalie Tuukka Rask, meanwhile, raised eyebrows with his post-game comments comparing the atmosphere in this playoff bubble to playing exhibition games. “To be honest with you, it really doesn’t feel like playoff hockey out there,” said Rask. “There are no fans, so it’s kind of like playing an exhibition game.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rask probably isn’t the only player feeling that way, which could account in part for why some teams and notable players seem to struggle to regain their intensity in the early going. Those who adjust more quickly could have an advantage through the opening round.

Joonas Korpisalo made 36 savers backstopping the Columbus Blue Jackets over the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 in Game 2 of their first-round series, which now stands knotted at a game apiece. Oliver Bjorkstrand snapped a 1-1 tie in the second period, Alexander Wennberg put the game away with his third-period tally and Pierre-Luc Dubois picked up two assists. Nikita Kucherov scored for the Lightning.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s the same story with the Blue Jackets. They get outshot by a big margin (37-22 in this game) but weather the storm and break your heart with their timely offense.

The Dallas Stars tied their series with the Calgary Flames at a game apiece as Jamie Oleksiak’s goal with 40 seconds remaining in regulation gave them a 5-4 victory. Stars blueliner Miro Heiskanen scored twice while teammates Alexander Radulov and Corey Perry each had a goal and an assist. Ben Bishop returned to the Stars net after being unfit to play in Game 1 while Taylor Fedun filled in for the sidelined Stephen Johns. Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk left the game following a third-period collision with Oleksiak and Jamie Benn.

HEADLINES

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens head coach Claude Julien was rushed to hospital after suffering chest pains following his club’s 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 1 of their first-round series. His condition isn’t related to COVID-19. Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said Julien won’t return for the remainder of the series. Assistant coaches Kirk Muller, Dominque Ducharme, and Luke Richardson will share the coaching duties in Julien’s absence.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergevin indicated he’d received some good news about Julien’s condition yesterday afternoon but didn’t elaborate. Here’s hoping the Habs bench boss makes a quick and full recovery.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom is in concussion protocol and won’t take part in Game 2 against the New York Islanders later today. Backstrom was injured following a late hit by Islanders’ captain Anders Lee. Lars Eller will replace Backstrom after returning to the club following the birth of his son.

AZCENTRAL.COM: The Arizona Coyotes hope to have center Nick Schmaltz in the lineup for Game 2 against the Colorado Avalanche later today. He’s been absent since being injured during an exhibition game two weeks ago.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The low-scoring Coyotes could use Schmaltz’s offense against the Avs. He was their leading scorer during the regular season.

THE SCORE: Defenseman Dan Hamhuis announced his retirement after 16 NHL seasons with the Nashville Predators, Vancouver Canucks, and Dallas Stars. He played in 1,184 games, netting 356 points. Hamhuis played in two games of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final until a groin injury sidelined him for the rest of the series. He won a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2014 Winter Olympics.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Hamhuis in his future endeavors. He was among the league’s best defensive blueliners during his playing prime.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 6, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 6, 2020

In today’s NHL morning coffee headlines, recaps of Wednesday’s games plus the latest on Jake Muzzin,  Mark Scheifele, Patrik Laine, Micheal Ferland, and more.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Jeff Petry scored his second game-winning goal as the Montreal Canadiens overcame a 3-1 deficit to edge the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3, taking a 2-1 lead in their qualifying-round series. Habs captain Shea Weber led the way with a goal and two assists.

 

Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens seemed done like dinner midway through the second period. They’re now poised to eliminate the Penguins in Game 4 on Friday. And speaking of potential upsets…

The Chicago Blackhawks got two unanswered third-period goals by Matthew Highmore and Jonathan Toews to nip the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 and take a 2-1 lead in their qualifier. Toews finished the game with two goals while teammate Corey Crawford made 25 saves to become the 20th goaltender in NHL history to record his 50th career playoff win. Leon Draisaitl scored twice and set up another for the Oilers. Edmonton defenseman Adam Larsson was unfit to play while Oilers winger Tyler Ennis left the game in the second period with an apparent leg injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The bounces went the Blackhawks’ way as Highmore’s goal was a deflection from a point shot while Toews’ deflected shot bounced in off an Oilers’ defenseman. They’re now poised to eliminate the Oilers if they win Game 4 on Friday.

The Boston Bruins won’t be the top seed in the 2020 playoffs after dropping a 3-2 decision to the Tampa Bay Lightning in round-robin play. Tyler Johnson tallied the winning goal late in the third period. Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask made 32 saves in his return to action after being unfit to play in their first round-robin game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s the first time in NHL history the season’s Presidents’ Trophy winner won’t be the top seed in the playoffs. The Bruins are 0-2 in round-robin play. While they are guaranteed a playoff spot, they risk drawing a tougher first-round opponent the lower they sink in the round-robin seedings.

The Florida Panthers avoided elimination by hanging on for a 3-2 victory over the New York Islanders. Third-period goals by Mike Hoffman and Brian Boyle broke a 1-1 tie while Sergei Bobrovsky made 20 saves for the win. A rare penalty by Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov for playing the puck beyond the trapezoid behind his net led to Hoffman’s power-play goal. The Isles hold a 2-1 series lead.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the Panthers’ first postseason victory since the 2016 playoffs. It certainly came at the right time. They also shook up their lineup yesterday, scratching Mike Matheson and Frank Vatrano after their disappointing performances in the first two games.

Three unanswered third-period goals by Conor Garland, Taylor Hall, and Carl Soderberg lifted the Arizona Coyotes over the Nashville Predators 4-1. The Coyotes hold a 2-1 series lead. Darcy Kuemper enjoyed a bounce-back effort in this contest with a 39-save performance.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes weathered the first-period onslaught from the Predators and opened the scoring on their first shot of the game. They finally got some productions from Hall and Garland, who’d been held goalless in the first two games.

Colorado Avalanche goaltender Pavel Francouz kicked out 27 shots to shut out the Dallas Stars 4-0 in round-robin action. Cale Makar tallied the game-winner while Joonas Donskoi and Andre Burakovsky each had a goal and an assist.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars were without starting goalie Ben Bishop and defenseman John Klingberg in this game. Both were declared unfit to play. Under league protocols, no reason was given for their absence, but it doesn’t appear as though it’s COVID-related.

HEADLINES TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Muzzin won’t be available for the remainder of his club’s qualifying-round series with the Columbus Blue Jackets. He was injured in Game 2 and taken to hospital with what appeared to be a head or neck injury. Muzzin was released yesterday and returned to the Leafs hotel within the safety zone and will remain in quarantine until cleared. Martin Marincin will replace him in the lineup for today’s match with the Jackets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois won’t face supplemental discipline for the hit that sent Muzzin to hospital after colliding awkwardly with Jackets forward Oliver Bjorkstand.

NHL.COM: The Winnipeg Jets aren’t ruling out Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine for Game 4 of their qualifier with the Calgary Flames later today. Both players have been sidelined since Game 1. The Flames hold a 2-1 series lead and could wrap it up with a win today.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets need some help following a dispiriting loss in Game 3. They also need Blake Wheeler and Kyle Connor to start cashing in or this series will be over later tonight.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks winger Micheal Ferland is out of action and has returned to his home in Brandon, Manitoba. He’s been declared “unfit to play”, raising speculation it’s tied to the concussion symptoms that sidelined him for most of this season.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals forward Lars Eller returned to Washington to be with his wife as she gives birth to their second child. He’ll rejoin his teammates following a period of quarantine and testing in the first round of the playoffs.

SPORTSNET: A report from a Swedish media outlet indicates winger Oskar Lindblom will be traveling to the Toronto bubble to join his Philadephia Flyers teammates. He missed the bulk of this season battling a rare form of bone cancer and finished his treatment on July 2. He could return to action in September if the Flyers are still in the playoffs by then.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks winger Tomas Hertl has resumed skating for the first time since suffering a season-ending knee injury in January.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers winger Jesse Puljujarvi has re-signed a one-year contract with Finland’s Karpat. It’s believed the deal contains an out-clause should Puljujarvi return to the Oilers next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Recent reports suggest the relationship between Puljujarvi and the Oilers has improved after he spent last season in Finland. With the NHL tentatively planning a full 82-game schedule in December, it makes sense for him to get in some meaningful playing time in Finland before NHL camps open in November.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): The general managers of the seven non-playoff teams have submitted a proposal to the league allowing their clubs a two-week mini-camp before training camp for all clubs open in November.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sounds like a reasonable proposal. Those teams haven’t played since the regular season was derailed in mid-March and they’re now amid an unusually long off-season.  










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 15, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 15, 2020

Ted Lindsay Award nominees announced, exhibition and Stanley Cup qualifying round schedules revealed, plus the latest on Johnny Gaudreau, Shea Weber, Pierre-Luc Dubois, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHLPA.COM: Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl, Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, and New York Rangers winger Artemi Panarin are the 2020 finalists for the Ted Lindsay Award, presented annually to the NHL’s most outstanding player as voted by the NHL Players Association membership.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon is among the finalists for the 2019-20 Ted Lindsay Award (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All are worthy finalists. They could also be in the running for the Hart Memorial Trophy. The finalists for that award will be announced on July 21.

NHL.COM: The league released its schedule of exhibition games and the Stanley Cup qualifiers schedule for Phase 4 of its return-to-play plan. All Western Conference games will be played at Rogers Place in Edmonton and all Eastern Conference games at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.

SPORTSNET: Johnny Gaudreau’s separation from his linemates and the main group during the opening two days of the Calgary Flames’ training camp is raising eyebrows. Flames coach Geoff Ward claimed the move was due to “circumstances that became apparent last week.” He declined to elaborate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The first-line winger continues to participate in the Flames’ practices with a smaller group, and Ward suggested he could be reunited with his linemates at some point. The NHL’s tight controls over the players’ medical status could cause imaginations to run wild over Gaudreau’s situation. If he were suffering COVID-19 symptoms, he wouldn’t be at practice. Perhaps he’s nursing a recent injury.

TSN: Montreal Canadiens captain Shea Weber was “unable to practice” yesterday but took to the ice afterward with assistant coach Luke Richardson for some individual work. Canadiens coach Claude Julien anticipates Weber will return to practice on Wednesday.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois missed practice yesterday with what is believed to be a minor issue. Because of the league’s return-to-play rules, the team didn’t provide details.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues defenseman Colton Parayko returned to the ice yesterday with his teammates after missing the first day of training camp. Teammate Robert Bortuzzo remained absent. Both are believed to have recently tested positive for COVID-19. Blues coach Craig Berube expects Bortuzzo will return soon.

THE WASHINGTON POST: Capitals forwards Lars Eller and Carl Hagelin intend to leave the protective bubble during the playoffs to be with their expectant wives. Eller’s wife is due to give birth on Aug. 8 while Hagelin’s spouse is due in September. Both players must isolate and test negative for four consecutive days before returning to the lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Players are allowed to leave and return to the host cities for family reasons.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks defenseman Calvin de Haan missed practice yesterday for a family emergency. Teammate Corey Crawford remains “unfit to play” for the second straight day.

WGR550.COM: Buffalo Sabres winger Michael Frolik has reportedly received a contract offer from KHL team Avangard Omsk. The 32-year-old is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks re-signed winger Troy Terry to a three-year, $4.35-million contract extension. Terry, 22, is completing his entry-level contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Terry is among several promising youngsters the Ducks hope to rebuild around over the next several years. He’s tallied eight goals and 28 points in 81 games over the past three seasons.

NHL.COM: The Vancouver Canucks signed prospect defenseman Jack Rathbone to an entry-level contract.

SPORTSLOGO.NET: cites The Athletic reporting the Ottawa Senators will be switching to a slightly modified version of the 2d Senator Head logo they wore from 1997 to 2007.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 19, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 19, 2019

The latest on Dustin Byfuglien, Artemi Panarin, Matthew Tkachuk, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: Bob McKenzie yesterday reported Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien is believed to be pondering his future during his current leave of absence from the club. There’s no timetable as to a decision or a return to the roster. Neither Byfuglien or his agent responded to a request for an interview. McKenzie’s colleague Darren Dreger said the Jets are giving the blueliner as much time and space as he needs to contemplate his future.

Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien is reportedly mulling his future (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This report came as a shock for Jets fans still reeling from the club’s ongoing inability to get forwards Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor under contract and last June’s trade of rearguard Jacob Trouba to the New York Rangers. Byfuglien, 34, missed 40 games last season to two ankle injuries, a concussion, and an upper-body injury.

McKenzie indicated he’s not saying Byfuglien will retire or not return to the Jets. Nevertheless, the possibility of either result is generating plenty of commentary over the effect his absence could have upon the Jets’ already depleted blueline this season.

There’s also speculation over how they might try to replace Big Buff. I’ll have more this morning in the Rumors section.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers winger Artemi Panarin left last night’s preseason game against the New Jersey Devils with a mild groin strain. Head coach David Quinn said it was a precautionary move and expects Panarin will be fine.

LONDON FREE PRESS’ Ryan Pyette tweeted Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk is skating with the OHL’s London Knights this week. Tkachuk played for the Knights in 2015-16.

WASHINGTON POST: Capitals center Lar Eller is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury and was scratched from last night’s preseason contest with the St. Louis Blues.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers yesterday signed former KHL forward Anton Burdasov to a professional tryout offer.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Golden Knights are the top-selling team on the ticket exchange website StubHub for the third straight season.

THE SCORE: Former Philadelphia Flyers general manager Ron Hextall is returning to the Los Angeles Kings as a part-time advisor to their hockey operations department. Hextall was the Kings’ assistant GM from 2006 to 2013.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 25, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 25, 2019

Patrick Maroon signs with the Lightning, plus updates on Taylor Hall, Bruce Boudreau, and Lars Eller in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TAMPA BAY TIMES/STLTODAY.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning signed former St. Louis Blues winger Patrick Maroon to a one-year, $900K contract. Maroon, 31, joined the Blues last summer on a one-year contract, helping his hometown club win its first Stanley Cup.

Former St. Louis Blues winger Pat Maroon signs with the Tampa Bay Lightning (Photo via NHL Images).

“He brings size and physicality to our group as well as significant playoff experience,” Lightning vice president and general manager Julien BriseBois said. “We expect Pat to be a great addition to the roster.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was speculation earlier this summer suggesting it could cost over $2 million annually on a two-year deal to sign Maroon. The Lightning got him for considerably less. With no state tax in Florida, that $900K will go further for Maroon than it would’ve in St. Louis.

Maroon also joins a Cup contender in the Lightning. Despite their early playoff exit following a dominant performance last season, the Bolts lead the pack for this season’s Cup favorites. Maroon’s size and experience could help them win the big mug next spring.

THE SCORE: New Jersey Devils winger Taylor Hall expects to be fully recovered from last February’s arthroscopic knee surgery when training camp opens next month.

“I haven’t had any issues with the knee so far since I’ve been skating, and it’s been a really good process, so hopefully that can continue into (training) camp,” said Hall. He only skated in 33 games last season after winning the Hart Trophy in 2017-18.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A healthy Hall will be crucial to the Devils’ playoff hopes this season. If he returns to form and new additions P.K. Subban, Wayne Simmonds, Nikita Gusev, and Jack Hughes also play well, the Devils could be a serious playoff contender.

NHL.COM: Don’t expect Bill Guerin, the Minnesota Wild’s new general manager, to make a coaching change before the upcoming season. Guerin said he has “full confidence” in current Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau.

“I talked to (coach) Bruce (Boudreau) for a while (Thursday) morning, and he’s got training camp under control, so next week we’re just going to dive in and just go over and see what everybody’s got,” said Guerin. He claimed he and Boudreau had a “great conversation”, assuring the Wild bench boss that he was behind him 100 percent.

NBC SPORTS: Despite aggravating a lower-body injury at this spring’s World Championships, Washington Capitals center Lars Eller claims he’s good to go for training camp next month. “I’m over that,” Eller told NBC Sports Washington. “Taken good care of that and it’s not an issue right now.”










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 16, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 16, 2019

Sharks get controversial OT win over the Blues in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final. Check out the recap plus updates on the Bruins, Hurricanes, Patrick Kane, Jeff Skinner, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: An overtime goal by Erik Karlsson gave the San Jose Sharks a 5-4 victory over the St. Louis Blues in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final. Karlsson’s tally was controversial as it was the result of an uncalled hand pass by teammate Timo Meier deemed unreviewable by the officials. The Sharks hold a 2-1 lead in this best-of-seven series.

Timo Meier’s hand pass led to teammate Erik Karlsson’s OT goal as the San Jose Sharks edged the St. Louis blues 5-4 in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final (Photo via NHL Images)

Karlsson and Joe Thornton each scored twice for the Sharks, who overcame a 4-3 deficit after blowing a 3-1 lead. Blues winger David Perron scored twice. St. Louis defenseman Vince Dunn took a puck to the face in the first period and didn’t return. An update on his condition could be coming later today.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This game will stand as yet another example of the poor quality of the officiating in this year’s playoffs. The salt in the wound was Meier getting credited with an assist for a hand pass the officials apparently didn’t see. The argument was also made that Meier’s hand pass glanced off Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester and thus no infraction should be called. 

This wasn’t the only call the officials missed in this game. St. Louis winger David Perron flipped the puck over the glass in the second period but no delay of game penalty was whistled. In the third period, Blues forward Sammy Blais got away with a hit to the head of Sharks defenseman Justin Braun. 

Carolina Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour said there’s a good chance goaltender Curtis McElhinney will start Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final. The Boston Bruins hold a 3-0 lead and can close out the series tonight.

NBC SPORTS: Boston Bruins right winger Chris Wagner has returned to Boston for further evaluation of his injured right arm. He won’t play in Game 4 tonight and is sidelined indefinitely.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane set a US career scoring record at the World Hockey Championships. With 36 points, he surpassed Mark Johnson’s previous record of 33.

TSN: The Columbus Blue Jackets signed goaltender Elvis Merzlikins to a one-year contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Prior to this signing, Cap Friendly indicated the Blue Jackets only had two goaltenders under contract for 2019-20. “The CBA requires that all clubs have at least 3 goalies under contract at any given moment during a league year. Meaning the club needed to sign a third goalie prior to July 1st.” 

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Former Canadiens team doctor Douglas Kinnear passed away at age 92. He worked with the Canadiens from 1962 to 1999.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Condolences to Kinnear’s family, friends, and the Canadiens organization.