NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 3, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 3, 2021

The Lightning are on the verge of winning their second straight Stanley Cup, the Wild re-sign Joel Eriksson Ek, the Kraken could spend to the salary cap this summer, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning took a commanding 3-0 series lead over the Montreal Canadiens with a 6-3 victory in Game 3 of the 2021 Stanley Cup Final. Tampa Bay is now one victory away from winning their second straight Stanley Cup and the third in franchise history.

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Tyler Johnson (NHL Images).

Tyler Johnson scored twice, Ondrej Palat collected two assists, Victor Hedman had a goal and an assist while Andrei Vasilevskiy made 32 saves for the win. Phillip Danault, Nick Suzuki and Corey Perry replied for the Canadiens while Carey Price allowed five goals on 29 shots.

Lightning winger Alex Killorn missed his second straight game with a lower-body injury. He remains day-to-day.

Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme returned behind the bench for the first time since testing positive for COVID-19 in the semifinal. He criticized the Quebec government’s decision to limit attendance to 3,500 fans in the Bell Centre while a much larger number would be following the game outside the arena.

The Lightning can sweep the Habs and claim the Cup in Game 4 on Monday night in Montreal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning once again feasted on the Canadiens’ mistakes, converting turnovers into goals and keeping the Habs on their heels throughout this contest. Their depth in talent is making the difference in this series and the Canadiens have no answers.

It was an impressive run for Montreal but midnight is tolling on their Cinderella story. They had to win Game 3 and were instead beaten soundly by a superior opponent. Tampa Bay is just too powerful. History is also against the Canadiens as only one team in NHL history (the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs) has overcome a 3-0 deficit in the Final to win the Cup.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild signed center Joel Eriksson Ek to an eight-year, $42 million contract. The annual average value is $5.25 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eriksson Ek, 24, is completing a two-year bridge contract with an annual cap hit of $1.487 million. He earned that big raise with a breakout performance this season with a career-high of 19 goals and 30 points in 56 games. A solid two-way center, he also finished fourth in voting for the Selke Trophy.

The Wild now has $16.8 million in projected cap space for 2021-22. Next on their list is signing Calder Trophy winner Kirill Kaprizov and 20-goal scorer Kevin Fiala.

THE ATHLETIC: Seattle Kraken CEO Tod Leiweke said he’s told general manager Ron Francis he can spend up to the $81.5 million salary cap if necessary to build a contending roster for next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kraken’s expansion draft is July 21. They have a 48-hour interview leading up to that period when they can interview pending unrestricted free agents on other clubs. They can also make trades now with any club.

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks will announce the name of their Abbotsford, BC AHL affiliate on July 9.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 2, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 2, 2021

The Lightning takes a 2-0 series lead over the Hurricanes, the Vezina Trophy finalists are announced, the 2021 Draft Lottery goes tonight, an update on Jack Eichel and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: A third-period goal by Anthony Cirelli was the game-winner as the Tampa Bay Lightning held off the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 to take a 2-0 lead in their second-round series. Alex Killorn opened the scoring in the second period for the Lightning. Andrei Svechnikov got the Hurricanes on the board late in the third. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 31 saves for the win as the Bolts were outshot 32-15. The series shifts to Tampa Bay for Game 3 on Thursday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hurricanes center Vincent Trocheck left the game with an injured right leg following a second-period collision with teammate Warren Foegele. Head coach Rod Brind’Amour said it didn’t know the extent of Trocheck’s injury but indicated it didn’t look good. An update could come later today.

Losing their second-line center would be another blow to the Hurricanes’ forward lines. Winger Nino Niederreiter is out for the series with an undisclosed injury suffering in practice before Game 1.

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (NHL Images).

Speaking of Andrei Vasilevskiy, he joins Marc-Andre Fleury of the Vegas Golden Knights and Philipp Grubauer of the Colorado Avalanche as this year’s finalists for the Vezina Trophy.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s the fourth straight season Vasilevskiy has been named a finalist, winning the award in 2018-19. It’s the first time Fleury and Grubauer have been honored.

The 2021 NHL Draft Lottery goes tonight at 7 pm ET at league headquarters. The Buffalo Sabres have the best odds of winning after finishing with the worst overall record, followed by the Anaheim Ducks. The expansion Seattle Kraken has the third-best odds.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL Draft will be held virtually on July 23-24. Follow the link above for full details on the lottery rules and this year’s top prospects.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel has reached the end of the rehab period for the herniated disk in his neck. If he still wants the neck surgery that team doctors haven’t been comfortable with, he has the right to take the team to arbitration. If he doesn’t agree with the arbiter’s decision, he can ask for a trade.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The surgical procedure Eichel prefers has never been done before on an NHL player. The team doctors’ preference is for continued rehab. It’ll be interesting to see what unfolds if Eichel feels he hasn’t made much progress with his current treatment.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy admitted goaltender Tuukka Rask has been battling nagging injuries. However, he doesn’t feel there’s any reason to believe Rask won’t be ready to play against the New York Islanders tonight in Game 3 of their second-round series.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rask appeared to struggle during the Bruins’ overtime loss in Game 2. If that continues in Game 3 we could see backup Jeremy Swayman for Game 4.

TSN: Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk was fined $5,000.00 by the NHL department of player safety for cross-checking Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield in Game 2.

WINNIPEG SUN: The province of Manitoba will allow 500 fully-vaccinated healthcare workers into the MTS Centre tonight for the Winnipeg Jets’ opening game of their second-round series against the Montreal Canadiens.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin said he suffered a sprained shoulder during his club’s series against the Vegas Golden Knights. Teammate Joel Eriksson Ek played through a knee injury suffered in Game 6. The duo won’t require offseason surgery.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Panthers signed defenseman Kevin Connauton to a one-year, two-way contract extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: According to Cap Friendly, Connauton will earn $825K at the NHL level. He spent most of this season on the Panthers’ taxi squad, seeing action in seven games.

TSN: The Pittsburgh Penguins have given teams around the league permission to speak with former general manager Jim Rutherford before his contract with them expires at the end of June. Rutherford stepped down as GM in January for personal reasons.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 28, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 28, 2021

The Hurricanes eliminate the Predators to advance to the second round while the Canadiens stay alive with an overtime win over the Leafs. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes advanced to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs with a 4-3 overtime victory over the Nashville Predators in Game 6 of their opening-round series. Sebastian Aho tallied the overtime winner as the Hurricanes rallied from a 3-1 deficit. Aho scored twice and Dougie Hamilton netted the game-tying goal on an assist by Jaccob Slavin. Nick Cousins, Mikael Granlund and Ryan Johansen scored for the Predators.

Montreal Canadiens center Nick Suzuki (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes will face the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round.

An overtime goal by Nick Suzuki gave the Montreal Canadiens a 4-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Canadiens had a 3-0 lead at one point but the Leafs battled back thanks to two third-period goals by Jake Muzzin. Joel Armia scored twice the Habs. Game 6 goes Saturday night in Montreal with the Leafs holding a 3-2 series lead.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That was the first game in this series that Montreal looked like the better team despite blowing that three-goal lead. Canadiens rookie Cole Caufield’s heads-up play at his blueline picking off a blind pass by the Leafs’ Alex Galchenyuk set the stage for Suzuki’s winner. The Habs will become the first Canadian team in these playoffs to have fans in the stands as 2,500 people will be in attendance for Saturday’s game.

Game 1 of the second-round series between the New York Islanders and Boston Bruins is 8 pm ET on Saturday, May 29 in Boston.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild center Joel Eriksson Ek will be in the lineup for Game 7 tonight against the Vegas Golden Knights. Eriksson Ek was banged up in the previous game after crashing into the Golden Knights’ net in Game 6 but said he’s good to go for tonight’s contest.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Vegas Golden Knights go into tonight’s game against the Wild without forwards Ryan Reaves and Peyton Krebs and defenseman Brayden McNabb. The trio was placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri awaits his fate after appealing his eight-game suspension before NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. A decision could be announced as early as today. Kadri was suspended by the NHL department of player safety for an illegal hit to the head of St. Louis Blues defenseman Justin Faulk in the first round.

NHL.COM: The NHL Central Scouting Bureau released its final rankings of the prospects eligible for the 2021 NHL Draft. University of Michigan defenseman Owen Power topped the list of North American skaters while winger William Eklund of Djurgarden in the Swedish Hockey League leads all international skaters.

TSN: Sports agency PBI Sports announced it represents former Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford. The announcement is seen as Rutherford showing interest in returning to NHL management. Rutherford stepped down as Penguins GM in January.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 17, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 17, 2021

The Lightning, Wild and Islanders win the first games of their opening-round series, plus the latest on Carey Price, Brendan Gallagher, Nathan MacKinnon and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point scored the game-tying and winning goals as his club squeaked past the Florida Panthers 5-4 in Game 1 of their opening-round series. Tampa Bay winger Nikita Kucherov tallied two power-play goals in his first game after missing the regular season recovering from offseason hip surgery. Jonathan Huberdeau had a goal and two assists for the Panthers. Game 2 of this series is on Tuesday evening.

Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the best game of the playoffs thus far. It could end up being the best series of the first round if the Lightning and Panthers maintain the pace this set in Game 1. Kucherov showed no signs of rust in his first game of this season. The Panthers must play a more disciplined style. Three of the Bolts’ goals came with the man advantage.

An overtime goal by Joel Eriksson Ek gave the Minnesota Wild a 1-0 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of their first-round series. Cam Talbot kicked out 42 shots for the shutout while Vegas’ Marc-Andre Fleury made 29 saves. They meet again in Game 2 on Tuesday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was an entertaining game despite the low score. Both clubs had plenty of good scoring opportunities but the goaltenders were superb. The Golden Knights were without sniper Max Pacioretty. He’s been sidelined since May 1 by an undisclosed injury.

The New York Islanders nipped the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 on an overtime goal by Kyle Palmieri, who also opened the scoring. Ilya Sorokin picked up the first playoff victory of his career with a 39-save performance while teammate Jean-Gabriel Pageau had a three-point game. Game 2 of this series is also on Tuesday night.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pittsburgh goaltender Tristan Jarry was shaky in this contest. Every goal beat him high to the glove side. Penguins center Evgeni Malkin missed the game with an undisclosed injury. Sorokin got the start as Isles starter Semyon Varlamov was out with a lower-body injury.

An overtime goal by Elias Lindholm lifted the Calgary Flames over the Vancouver Canucks 6-5 after the Canucks overcame a 5-1 deficit to force overtime. Brock Boeser scored twice for the Canucks. Both clubs face each other two more times before their regular-season schedule is complete.

HEADLINES

SPORTSNET: Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price and winger Brendan Gallagher have been assigned to the club’s AHL affiliate in Laval on a long-term injury conditioning stint. Both are expected to be in the Canadiens lineup for Game 1 of their first-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some Canadiens followers freaked out on social media over this decision because they’re afraid one or both could get hurt playing a meaningless AHL game. However, the Habs want both players to get in some game action before Game 1 due to their long absences from the lineup.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon will be in the lineup when his club faces off tonight against the St. Louis Blues in the opening game of their first-round series. He missed four of the Avs’ final five regular-season contests with minor injuries.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Evgeny Kuznetsov and Ilya Samsonov returned to the ice yesterday for the Capitals optional practice. Both had been on the COVID-19 protocol list since May 4.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s unclear who will back up Craig Anderson for Game 2 tonight against the Boston Bruins. Anderson replaced Vitek Vanecek in Game 1 when the latter suffered a lower-body injury. Kuznetsov, meanwhile, could be several days away from rejoining the lineup.

TORONTO SUN: Jack Campbell will get the start for the Maple Leafs when they faced the Canadiens on Thursday. Winger Zach Hyman is also expected to return to action after being sidelined since April 18 by a sprained knee.

THE ATHLETIC: John Tortorella reportedly wanted to step down last offseason as head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets. One of the reasons he stayed was because Nick Foligno convinced him to return for one last season.










NHL ProteauType: Wild Are Turning Corner, But Still Not Stanley Cup Contenders

NHL ProteauType: Wild Are Turning Corner, But Still Not Stanley Cup Contenders

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 17, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 17, 2019

Game recaps, stars of the week, the Kings place Ilya Kovalchuk on unconditional waivers, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Jonathan Huberdeau collected four assists and Noel Acciari tallied a hat trick as the Florida Panthers crushed the Ottawa Senators 6-1. The Panthers blew the game open with four unanswered second-period goals.

Florida Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau collected four assists in a 6-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators (Photo via NHL Images).

David Perron’s hat trick led the St. Louis Blues over the Colorado Avalanche 5-2, snapping the latter’s nine-game points streak. Blues forwards Ryan O’Reilly and Oskar Sundqvist each collected two assists.

The Edmonton Oilers picked up their first win in five games by edging the Dallas Stars 2-1. Mikko Koskinen kicked out 34 shots while teammates Zack Kassian and Leon Draisaitl scored for the Oilers. 

Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros made 39 saves backstopping his club over the New York Rangers 5-2. Predators captain Roman Josi collected three points. Rangers winger Artemi Panarin scored to extend his points streak to five games.

The Columbus Blue Jackets blanked the Washington Capitals 3-0. Joonas Korpisalo turned aside 30 shots for the shutout while Oliver Bjorkstrand tallied twice for the Jackets.

HEADLINES

Vegas Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty, Ottawa Senators winger Anthony Duclair, and Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending December 15.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Kings yesterday placed winger Ilya Kovalchuk on unconditional waivers to terminate his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The contract termination won’t provide the Kings any salary-cap relief because it’s a 35-plus contract. It just means they’re no longer paying Kovalchuk’s actual salary.

Kovalchuk will become an unrestricted free agent. He could sign with another NHL club or return to the KHL.

The 36-year-old winger is no longer an offensive force. If he wants to stay in the NHL, he won’t get a lucrative offer like the three-year, $6.25-million per season contract he had with the Kings.

I’ll have more on Kovalchuk in the Rumors section.

CBS SPORTS: Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers winger Joel Farabee received a three-game suspension for interference on Winnipeg Jets center Mathieu Perreault.

TORONTO SUN: Sidelined Maple Leafs Tyson Barrie and Trevor Moore could return to action tonight against the Buffalo Sabres.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild sent goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen to their AHL affiliate in Iowa and placed forward Joel Eriksson Ek (upper body) on injured reserve.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks assistant coach Marc Crawford issues an apology for his unacceptable language and actions toward several former players earlier in this coaching career. He will resume his normal coaching duties with the club on Jan. 2.