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 – August 5, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 5, 2020

Recaps of Tuesday’s games plus the latest on Jake Muzzin, Steven Stamkos,  and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

Carolina Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho (Photo via NHL Images).

 NHL.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes are the first team to advance past the qualifying round, defeating the New York Rangers 4-1 to sweep their best-of-five series. The Hurricanes scored four unanswered goals, including two by Sebastian Aho, while James Reimer made 38 saves for the win. Chris Kreider tallied the only goal for the Rangers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This series saw dominant performances by Aho and linemate Andrei Svechnikov. The young Hurricanes forwards proved too much for the Rangers to contain. Aho leads all playoff scorers with eight points, while Svechnikov has three goals and five points in three games.

 

Auston Matthews’s second-period goal was the game-winner and Frederik Andersen had a 20-save shutout as the Toronto Maple Leafs blanked the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-0, tying their qualifying round series at a game apiece. John Tavares and Morgan Rielly also tallied for the Leafs. The Maple Leafs win was overshadowed by Jake Muzzin being stretchered from the ice late in the game with a suspected head/neck injury after a cross-check by Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois sent the defenseman colliding awkwardly with Jackets winger Oliver Bjorkstand. Muzzin was taken to a local hospital and was reportedly able to move his limbs.  

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping Muzzin will be ok. It remains to be seen how long he’ll be at the hospital and if he’ll have to undergo the mandatory four-day quarantine before rejoining his teammates. The Leafs had the better of the play in this game, outshooting the Jackets 39-20.

Sean Monahan had a goal and two assists as the Calgary Flames downed the Winnipeg 6-2 to take a 2-1 series lead. Monahan’s linemates Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm each had a goal and an assist, as the Flames went three-for-four on the power play. The injury-depleted Jets suffered another casualty as Mathieu Perreault left the game following a big hit from Flames forward Sam Bennett. Winnipeg defenseman Tucker Poolman left the game briefly left the game for stitches after taking a puck to the face.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a very physical game that left both sides battered, but the Jets got the worst of it. Already down two players with stars Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine sidelined, they cannot afford to lose more regulars. They also need more production from first-liners Blake Wheeler and Kyle Connor, who’ve both been held to just one point in this series.

The New York Islanders tallied three unanswered goals to double up the Florida Panthers 4-2 and take a 2-0 series lead. Jordan Eberle tallied twice as the Isles overcame 1-0 and 2-1 deficits. Mike Hoffman and Keith Yandle each had two points for the Panthers. The Islanders can wrap it up in Game 3 later today. Following the game, Panthers defenseman Mike Matheson was fined $2,500.00 for high-sticking Isles center Brock Nelson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders showed lots of poise in this game. They didn’t get rattled when they fell behind and garnered momentum after Matt Martin made it 2-2. It was a disappointing outcome for the Panthers, who played much better in this game but couldn’t hold the lead.

J.T. Miller and Bo Horvat each had a goal and an assist as the Vancouver Canucks held on to edge the Minnesota Wild 4-3 and tie their series at a game apiece. Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom turned in a 34-save performance. Kevin Fiala scored two late goals for the Wild. The Canucks successfully killed off six penalties in this contest but also lost winger Micheal Ferland to an undisclosed injury in the first period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A strong bounce-back effort for the Canucks, who looked flat in Game 1. They also tweaked their roster, with Jake Virtanen and Loui Eriksson entering the lineup for this one. Tyler Toffoli missed this game with an injured foot suffered in Game 1.

Nashville Predators’ goaltender Juuse Saros made 24 saves for his first career postseason win, backstopping his club to a 4-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes to tie their series at a game apiece. Ryan Johansen had a goal and an assist as the Preds rolled to a 4-0 lead before the Coyotes tallied twice in the final minute of regulation.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After falling behind early in Game 1, it was the Predators’ turn to ride an early lead to victory. Apart from brief flurries from the Coyotes, the Preds largely controlled the play, especially when Calle Jarnkrok made it 3-0. Coyotes backup goalie Antti Raanta was declared “unfit to play” after leaving the bench mid-game and won’t suit up for Game 3 later today.

HEADLINES

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning captain Steven Stamkos won’t be in the lineup when his club faces off today in round-robin play against the Boston Bruins. Though he’s skated with his teammates in recent days, he’s still recovering from an injury suffered during Phase 2 training.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins winger Jack Studnicka will be a healthy scratch from today’s game against the Lightning. He’ll be replaced by Nick Ritchie.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues forward Ivan Barbashev is returning to St. Louis to attend the birth of his first child. He’s expected to rejoin his teammates for the first round of the playoffs.

THE SCORE: Former Washington Capitals winger Brendan Leipsic signed a one-year contract with KHL club CSKA Moscow. He was released from his contract in May when inappropriate comments he made on a group chat were leaked to social media.










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.  










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 3, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 3, 2020

Recaps of Sunday’s games plus updates on Mark Schiefele, Patrik Laine, Tuukka Rask, Dougie Hamilton, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Nazem Kadri scored with a fraction of a second remaining in the game to lift the Colorado Avalanche over the St. Louis Blues 2-1 in round-robin play. Ryan Graves also scored for the Avs while Philipp Grubauer made 31 stops. David Perron tallied the sole Blues’ goal while Jordan Binnington made 36 saves.

Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Binnington was outstanding in a losing cause for the Blues, especially in the first period when the Avs dominated his teammates. Their play improved as the game went on but the Avs still had better scoring chances.

 

Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo made 28 saves to shut out the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-0 in Game 1 of their best-of-five qualifying round series. Cam Atkinson netted the game-winner and Alexander Wennberg got the insurance goal with an empty-netter. Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen turned aside 34 shots.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blue Jackets’ grinding style sucked the life out of the Leafs’ offense. Not that they didn’t get some quality chances but Korpisalo was superb, robbing Auston Matthews in the second period with a flashy glove save.  

Jared Spurgeon scored twice and set up the winning goal while Alex Stalock had a 28-save effort as the Minnesota Wild blanked the Vancouver Canucks 3-0 to take Game 1 of their qualifier. Kevin Fiala netted the game-winner with a power-play slapper in their first period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild’s experience came through in this game. They effectively neutralized the Canucks’ young guns while creating quality scoring chances of their own. Canucks winger Micheal Ferland could get a call by the NHL department of player safety after appearing to spear Ryan Hartman on the Wild bench.

 

A three-goal second period powered the Philadelphia Flyers over the Boston Bruins 4-1 in round-robin play. Flyers goalie Carter Hart made 34 saves for his first-ever NHL postseason win. Michael Raffl had a goal and an assist but left the game in the third period with an apparent leg injury. Jaroslav Halak was in net for the Bruins as starter Tuukka Rask was deemed unfit to play. His status for Wednesday’s round-robin game against the Tampa Bay Lightning is uncertain.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers played as though this was a playoff game, while the Bruins seemed to treat it as an exhibition contest. Yes, it’s only a round-robin that determines final seeding for the playoffs, but that doesn’t excuse what seemed like a halfhearted effort by the Bruins.

Arizona Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper kicked out 40 shots in a 4-3 victory over the Nashville Predators. Christian Dvorak had a goal and an assist while Taylor Hall and Phil Kessel each collected two assists. Filip Forsberg scored twice for the Predators. The Coyotes lead the series 1-0.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Check out my take on this game here.

HEADLINES

TSN: Sara Orlesky reports a source claims Mark Scheifele’s apparent leg injury isn’t believed to be long-term. The Winnipeg Jets center was hurt during the first period of Game 1 of his club’s qualifier against the Calgary Flames following a collision with Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk. Scheifele left the game in obvious pain and didn’t return. He’s not expected to play in Game 2 tonight.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets coach Paul Maurice doubled down on his accusation that Tkachuk deliberately injured Scheifele. Maurice also provided no update about the condition of winger Patrik Laine, who also left Game 1 with what appeared to be an injured hand. Per league protocols, the Jets can’t reveal the full details of their injuries.

CALGARY SUN: Flames coach Geoff Ward defended Tkachuk, claiming his winger was trying to finish his check but Scheifele’s sudden shift in direction caught the Flames winger off-balance as they collided into the boards.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is similar to the Matt Cooke incident with Erik Karlsson in 2013. Cooke’s skate blade accidentally sliced Karlsson’s Achilles tendon, but he was accused of purposefully injuring the blueliner.

Like Cooke, Tkachuk has a reputation for cheap shots, which could explain why Maurice felt that hit was a deliberate attempt to injure Scheifele. In this instance, however, I agree with Ward that it was an unfortunate accident. 

TSN: Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos remains questionable for today’s round-robin game with the Washington Capitals. He’s still dealing with a lower-body injury suffered during Phase 2 training.

THE NEW & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton remains sidelined with an undisclosed injury. He could be a week or so away from returning to the lineup.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Blackhawks forward Drake Caggiula received a one-game suspension for an illegal check on Edmonton Oilers winger Tyler Ennis during Game 1 of their qualifying-round series on Saturday.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 29, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 29, 2020

Results from the first exhibition games of return-to-play, an update on David Pastrnak, the Ducks re-sign Sonny Milano, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Connor McDavid scored twice to lead the Edmonton Oilers over the Calgary Flames 4-1 as exhibition games began yesterday leading up to the upcoming playoff tournament beginning Aug. 1. Elias Lindholm netted the sole goal for the Flames, who outshot the Oilers 37-30.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid scored twice in a 4-1 win over the Calgary Flames in exhibition play yesterday (NHL Images).

Scott Laughton scored in overtime as the Philadelphia Flyers edged the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby played over 19 minutes and said he had no issues after missing five of six practices last week to an undisclosed ailment.

The Toronto Maple Leafs tallied two shorthanded goals to double up the Montreal Canadiens 4-2. Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly scored and set up two others while Alexander Kerfoot potted two goals. The Canadiens went zero-for-six on the power play.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The overall play in those three games wasn’t bad. Granted, these were exhibition games following a nearly five-month layoff for the teams involved, lacking the intensity and crisp play one expects to see when the tournament begins on Aug.1. The players were still working out the kinks.

Nevertheless, the quality of play was better than I expected. Not great, but not horrible. The games also felt a little weird with piped-in noise and no fans, but I didn’t find it detracted from the on-ice action. I’ll get used to this as Phase 4 (hopefully) rolls on.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins winger David Pastrnak took responsibility for his actions that resulted in missing almost all of the Phase 3 training camp with his teammates. He confirmed returning to quarantine after skating with some amateur players at a rink north of Boston at the start of Phase 3. He traveled with the Bruins to Toronto for Phase 4 and has resumed practicing with his teammates.

THE PROVINCE: Canucks winger Micheal Ferland continues to impress his teammates with his play in practice. Ferland was questionable to participate in the playoff tournament after missing most of this season dealing with head-trauma symptoms. He’s expected to be in the lineup for today’s exhibition game against the Winnipeg Jets.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks yesterday re-signed Sonny Milano to a two-year, $3.4 million contract. The 24-year-old winger was acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets at the February trade deadline, collecting five points in nine games with the Ducks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Cap Friendly, Milano’s annual average value ($1.7 million) leaves the Ducks with over $77.3 million invested in 17 players for 2020-21.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 26, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 26, 2020

As the 24 teams involved in the return-to-play plan move to their hub cities for the upcoming playoff tournament, check out the latest NHL morning coffee headlines.

TRAINING CAMP UPDATES

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford finally took part in training camp yesterday and confirmed he had tested positive for COVID-19. After self-quarantining in Chicago for the past several weeks, Crawford received clearance to resume practicing and will travel with his teammates to Edmonton for the upcoming playoff tournament.

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That explains why the Blackhawks management and coaching staff were so cryptic about Crawford’s status over the past two weeks. It’s potentially good news for the Hawks if their long-time starter can shake off the rust before they face off against the Oilers in their qualifying round series. He’ll only have a few days to try to get up to speed.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins winger David Pastrnak will travel with his teammates to Toronto for the upcoming tournament after missing all but one practice due to potential exposure to someone with COVID-19. Ondrej Kase’s status, however, remains uncertain after being unfit to participate in Phase 3 training.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kase’s situation has sparked speculation he tested positive for COVID-19 because league protocols prevent the Bruins from elaborating on his condition.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: An injury suffered before Phase 3 training camp will prevent goaltender Ilya Samsonov from traveling to Toronto with his Capitals teammates. He’ll remain in Washington for treatment and is expected to be healthy for the 2020-21 season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fortunately for the Capitals, long-time starter Braden Holtby had a good training camp and should be match-fit for the upcoming tournament. Nevertheless, the loss of Samsonov could become a significant factor if Holtby should be sidelined or struggles in the playoffs.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Dougie Hamilton was absent from the Carolina Hurricanes’ final training-camp session yesterday. He’s been sidelined since Wednesday after leaving the ice in some discomfort. Forward Martin Necas left the ice on Saturday but his condition isn’t considered serious.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hamilton’s return would provide a big boost to an already-deep Hurricanes defense corps. They can adjust without him but they’d be much better with the mobile Hamilton patrolling the blueline.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers skated briefly yesterday but didn’t scrimmage with his teammates. He’s believed to be nursing an injury as he was held out of Thursday’s scrimmage.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse was held out of practice yesterday as a precautionary measure after tweaking something earlier in the week. Center Riley Sheahan left yesterday’s scrimmage with an apparent injury.

THE DENVER POST: Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar returned to Colorado Avalanche practice yesterday.

PHILLY.COM: Flyers goaltender Carter Hart took part in a full practice yesterday and said he’ll be ready for the club’s upcoming exhibition game this week against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks winger Micheal Ferland has played his way back into a regular roster spot. He’ll be traveling with his teammates to Edmonton for the playoff tournament. Ferland missed most of this season and the early part of training camp dealing with head trauma symptoms.

LATEST ON CHAYKA AND THE COYOTES

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the relationship between the Arizona Coyotes ownership and general manager John Chayka apparently fell apart over the latter receiving a job opportunity with another club.

The Coyotes were approached about Chayka’s availability and permitted him to explore the offer. An NHL source said the offer wasn’t for a general manager position. When it became apparent Chayka could leave, the Coyotes resisted. The two sides reportedly discussed a transition period where he would finish out the season as Coyotes GM, but talks fell apart. 

AZ COYOTES INSIDER Craig Morgan asked a Coyotes spokesperson about Chayka’s status but they declined to comment. Morgan also said the job opportunity wasn’t with another team but was another professional opportunity.

AZCENTRAL: Kent Somers and Richard Morin report the Coyotes ownership group made a contract offer to Taylor Hall during a recent dinner meeting. Chayka was not part of that meeting and learned about the offer a day or two later.

OTTAWA CITIZEN: Patrick Johnston suggests Buffalo could be a destination for Chayka. Pegula Sports and Entertainment own the Sabres, the NFL Bill, and the AHL’s Rochester Americans.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Morgan wonders why the Coyotes balked after granting Chayka permission to explore it. What’s apparent is the relationship between the two sides is eroding, perhaps to the point where Chayka seems to be on his way out. It’s a puzzling situation that could become an unnecessary distraction as the Coyotes head to Edmonton for the upcoming playoff tournament.