NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 28, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 28, 2018

Game 1 of the 2018 Stanley Cup Final begins tonight. Check out the latest in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: Game 1 of the 2018 Stanley Cup Final between the Vegas Golden Knights and Washington Capitals begins tonight at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas at 8 pm ET. 

The experience and leadership of winger James Neal could be crucial for the Vegas Golden Knights in the 2018 Stanley Cup Final (Photo via NHL Images).

  NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: To win Game 1, the Capitals will need a fast start, limit turnovers, make Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury uncomfortable in his crease and shut down Vegas’ top line.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Golden Knights will lean on the experience and leadership of veterans such as James Neal in the Stanley Cup Final. 

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association have been asked to wear something red for Game 1 in honor of legendary sportswriter Red Fisher, who passed away earlier this season. Fisher covered the Montreal Canadiens for 57 years. 

NEW YORK POST: In his preview of the Stanley Cup Final, Larry Brooks says he isn’t attempting to minimize the Golden Knights’ achievement, after claiming the expansion draft was rigged, in part by “inflicting pain” on the clubs carrying a large number of players with no-movement clauses, and suggesting the current playoff bracket system helped Vegas reach the Final. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Funny how no one foresaw Vegas benefiting from a “rigged draft” last year. Most pundits and fans expected the Golden Knights to be a bad team in their inaugural campaign. Heck, some even lambasted Vegas GM George McPhee for passing up what they considered better players available in the expansion draft.

And how were teams carrying players with no-movement clauses supposedly “punished” by the expansion draft? Those teams agreed to give those players those contracts well before those expansion draft rules were drawn up. What part of “no-movement” did they not understand? They brought that pain upon themselves. The league couldn’t overturn the rules of the collective bargaining agreement just to make it possible for teams to dump untradeable players into the expansion draft. 

The Golden Knights’ path to the Final wasn’t easy. Yes, they swept the LA Kings in Round 1, but every game in that series was decided by one goal. A bounce here, a break there, and perhaps it would’ve had a different outcome. Round 2 against the San Jose Sharks was tied at two games apiece before Vegas took the next two games. And Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury flat-out stole the Western Conference Final against the Winnipeg Jets.

In other words, suggesting the Golden Knights benefited from a rigged draft or an easier playoff schedule IS attempting to minimize their achievements this season.  

KUKLA’S KORNER: cites a blog post from Cissy Franzen revealing her husband, former NHL player Johan Franzen, is undergoing extensive treatment for post-concussion syndrome. Franzen’s career was cut short by injuries in 2016. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Franzen and his family during this difficult period. 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 19, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 19, 2018

Golden Knights push Jets to the brink of elimination from the Western Conference Final, plus updates on Cory Schneider, Jaden Schwartz and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Vegas Golden Knights are one victory away from reaching the 2018 Stanley Cup Final after edging the Winnipeg Jets 3-2 in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final. Reilly Smith tallied the winner with a third-period goal while teammate Marc-Andre Fleury made 35 saves. With a 3-1 series lead, the Golden Knights could wrap things up on Monday in Winnipeg.

Reilly Smith’s game-winning goal over the Winnipeg Jets in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final has his team on the verge of reaching the Stanley Cup Final (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: For the third straight game, the Jets gave up the first goal and spent the rest of the contest playing catch-up. For the second straight game, they dominated the third period but came out on the short end. The Jets seem to have no answer for Fleury’s goaltending and his teammates swift, aggressive checking. If they can’t resolve these issues in Game 5, they’ll be hitting the links on Tuesday. 

WASHINGTON POST: After blowing a 2-0 lead to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final, the ghosts of previous postseason collapses by the Washington Capitals have returned.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals already put two playoff ghosts to rest this spring by defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins in a playoff series for the first time in 24 years and reaching the Conference Final for the first time in two decades. Now comes the challenge of regaining their confidence after blowing a series that seemed to be theirs for the taking. That test comes tonight in Game 5. 

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning winger Chris Kunitz is the only active NHL player to win four Stanley Cups. He could have an opportunity to win his fifth if his club can advance past the Capitals to reach the Cup Final.

NJ.COM: New Jersey Devils goaltender Cory Schneider isn’t selling his home because of an impending trade. He and his family are simply moving to another home in the area.

STLTODAY.COM: St. Louis Blues forward Jaden Schwartz suffered a shoulder injury in Canada’s 5-4 victory over Russia on Thursday at the World Championships. Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said the injury wasn’t serious and doesn’t require surgery.

DALLAS MORNING NEWS: After 30 seasons with six NHL teams in a variety of coaching roles, Dallas Stars assistant coach Rick Wilson has decided to retire. He’d been with the Stars from 1993 to 2009 and returned with the club this season after stops with Tampa Bay, Minnesota and St. Louis.

THE TENNESSEAN: Now-retired Nashville Predators center Mike Fisher isn’t ruling out returning to the club in a different role. He’s ruled out taking up coaching for now.



NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 13, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 13, 2018

Jets draw first blood in the Western Conference Final, latest on the Capitals and Lightning and Mike Fisher retires again. Details in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: The Winnipeg Jets scored three goals within the opening 7:35 of the first period on route to a 4-2 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final. Blake Wheeler collected three assists while teammates Mark Scheifele and Dustin Byfuglien each had a goal and an assist. Jonathan Marchessault assisted on both Golden Knights goals. Game 2 goes Monday night in Winnipeg. 

Winnipeg Jets captain Blake Wheeler collected three assists to lead his club to a 4-2 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets showed little signs of wear and had no difficulty adjusting to a new opponent only two days following the end of their second-round series. Meanwhile, the Golden Knights looked rusty after a week off between series. We’ll likely see a better effort from them on Monday. 

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals head coach Barry Trotz remains optimistic about Nicklas Backstrom taking part in the Eastern Conference Final at some point. Backstrom’s been sidelined with an upper-body injury suffered in Game 5 of the Capitals’ second-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Backstrom was reportedly skating with his teammates in practice on Saturday but there’s no confirmation that he’ll take part in Game 2 tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

TAMPA BAY TIMES: A better effort is expected from Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy and his defense in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final. The Lightning fell 4-2 to the Capitals in Game 1. 

NHL.COM: Nashville Predators center Mike Fisher is retiring again. He initially retired last August but rejoined the club in February, netting four points in 16 regular-season games and one goal in 12 playoff contests. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fisher said he has no intention of coming out of retirement again. “I’ve milked this cow as long as it’ll go,” he said. “It’s bone dry.”


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 10, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 10, 2018

Latest on the Predators and Jets on the eve of Game 7, Penguins and Bruins injury updates and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

Winnipeg Jets forward Nikolaj Ehlers has yet to score in the 2018 playoffs (Photo via NHL Images)

  WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Jets forward Nikolaj Ehlers still seeks his first goal of the playoffs as his club enters Game 7 of their second-round series against the Nashville Predators. 

THE TENNESSEAN:  Predators center Mike Fisher suffered an undisclosed injury late in Game 6 against the Jets and his status remains uncertain for Game 7 tonight. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The winner of tonight’s game goes on to host the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Bruins revealed a number of their players suffered through injuries during their recent playoff run. Torey Krug suffered a fractured ankle, Zdeno Chara had a shoulder injury and a fractured finger, Patrice Bergeron had a groin injury and concussion-like symptoms, Brad Marchand had a groin injury, David Backs suffered concussion-like symptoms, Jake DeBrusk a sprained AC joint, Riley Nash suffered a concussion and hip injury and Noel Acciari a sports hernia. 

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: The Pittsburgh Penguins were less candid about their injury woes during the 2018 playoffs, but admitted winger Phil Kessel was playing hurt. Meanwhile, Derick Brassard acknowledged he may have returned too soon from a late-season lower-body injury.  

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins claimed they didn’t want to use injuries as an excuse for their playoff elimination. Nagging injuries hamper performance. It’s not a sign of weakness or lack of character to admit it. If their list of walking wounded was anywhere near as lengthy as the Bruins, there’s no shame in acknowledging it may have contributed to their postseason demise. 

LA PRESSE: The Montreal Canadiens and center Phillip Danault are mutually interested in working out a long-term contract. Danault, 25, is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s completed a two-year, $1.825 million contract. 

DENVER POST: If you’ve got $5.2 million burning a hole in your pocket, former Colorado Avalanche star Milan Hejduk’s house could be for you. The 16, 700-foot home comes with a full-size hockey rink and a Zamboni.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Lehigh Valley Phantoms, the Flyers AHL farm team, needed five overtime periods to down the Charlotte Checkers 2-1 in Game 4 of their second-round series. The game set a record for the longest playoff game in league history. Phantoms goaltender Alex Lyon made 94 (!) saves, four shy of the all-time record held by former Flyer Michael Leighton. The Phantoms lead the Checkers three games to one.


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 3, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 3, 2018

Game recaps, injury updates plus the latest on Taylor Hall, Henrik Lundqvist and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM:  New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist celebrated his 36th birthday with his record-setting second-straight 50-save effort to backstop his club to a 3-1 victory over the Calgary Flames. 

Taylor Hall extended his personal points streak to 17 games as his New Jersey Devils fell 3-1 to the Carolina Hurricanes. Teuvo Teravainen and Justin Williams led the way with third-period goals for the Hurricanes (69 points), who moved into a tie with the Columbus Blue Jackets for the final wild-card spot in the East.

Nathan MacKinnon’s five-point performance powered the Colorado Avalanche to a 7-1 win over the Minnesota Wild (Photo via NHL Images).

Nathan MacKinnon’s five-point performance (two goals and three assists) powered the Colorado Avalanche to a 7-1 drubbing of the Minnesota Wild. Miko Rantanen collected four points (one goal, three assists) for the Avs (75 points), who moved within a point of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference. 

Mike Fisher scored in his season debut while Calle Jarnkrok tallied the winner in overtime to give the Nashville Predators a 4-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks. It was the the seventh straight win for the Predators (91 points) as they maintained a six-point lead over Winnipeg for first place in the Central Division. Canucks forward Sven Baertschi left the game in the second period with a shoulder injury. 

The Montreal Canadiens swept a home-and-home series with the New York Islanders with a 6-3 victory. Winger Alex Galchenyuk tallied a hat trick for the Habs, who handed the Isles their fifth straight defeat. Islanders winger Jordan Eberle missed the game with soreness suffered during Wednesday’s contest in Montreal. 

The Florida Panthers picked up their fifth straight win by downing the Buffalo Sabres 4-1. Nick Bjugstad and Evgenii Dadonov each collected two points for the Panthers, who moved to within one point of a wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference. 

The Ottawa Senators beat the Vegas Golden Knights 5-4, handing the latter their third straight loss. Erik Karlsson and Bobby Ryan each had three points for the Senators. Golden Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt and winger James Neal missed the game with undisclosed injuries

A two-goal performance by Patrik Laine helped the Winnipeg Jets edge the Detroit Red Wings 4-3. 

Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson returned to action with a 4-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Rickard Rakell and Cam Fowler each had a goal and an assist for the Ducks. 

SPORTSNET: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman claims the Calgary Flames’ financial situation “continues to deteriorate” operating out of the aging Scotiabank Saddledome. He doesn’t see their situation changing anytime soon. He also said the Flames are now drawing upon the league’s revenue-sharing program after years of contributing into it. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bettman has made no secret of his desire for the Flames to have a new arena. The club’s ownership is currently involved in a standoff with Calgary city council over funding for a new venue. 

The Flames aren’t having trouble drawing fans. They’re eighth in league attendance this season, averaging 18,855 fans per game and operating at 97.8 percent capacity. However, they began the season sitting 21st in median ticket prices ($99.00). As per Forbes.com, they’re 19th in operating income ($5.4 million) and 21st in revenue ($129 million). 

While the Flames could use a new arena, it’s unlikely to be the cure-all for their financial situation.Their fan cost index (revenue from tickets, merchandise, parking, etc) is based on what their market can bear. The decline of the Alberta oil industry and the drop in the value of the Canadian dollar since 2014 have contributed to the Flames’ financial woes.

Speaking of the Flames, the Calgary Sun reports a judge has ruled that the dispute “between NHL linesman Don Henderson and former Calgary Flames defenceman Dennis Wideman” should be sent to the league for arbitration. 

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Former NHL player Daniel Carcillo wants the NHL to do more to increase concussion awareness. 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 1, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 1, 2018

Game recaps, Mike Fisher returns to the Predators plus updates on Nathan MacKinnon, Taylor Hall and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: Toronto Maple Leafs rookies Travis Dermott and Justin Holl each scored their first NHL goals as their club blanked the New York Islanders 5-0. Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen made 28 saves for the shutout. Islanders left Andrew Ladd returned to the lineup after missing nine games with an upper-body injury. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s two straight losses for the Islanders (55 points), who failed to gain ground in the Eastern Conference standings. They remain one point out of a wild-card spot. 

Justin Abdelkader’s shootout goal lifted the Detroit Red Wings to a 2-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks (Photo via NHL Images).

Justin Abdelkader’s goal in the seventh round of the shootout gave the Detroit Red Wings a 2-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks, handing the latter their fourth consecutive loss. The Wings snapped a five-game home losing skid. 

The Washington Capitals overcame a 2-0 deficit with five straight goals to down the Philadelphia Flyers 5-3. Capitals forward Chandler Stephenson scored twice within a 47-second span in the second period. 

THE TENNESSEAN: Mike Fisher has come out of retirement and will rejoin the Nashville Predators roster. He intends to sign a contract with the club before the Feb. 26 trade deadline. Fisher retired last August but was encouraged to return by his family, former teammates and members of the Predators coaching and management staffs. The date of his return has yet to be determined. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I expect the Preds will likely start Fisher on the fourth line and take it from there. He was an effective two-way center in his prime but was hampered by injury in his final seasons and tallied just four points during the Preds’ run to the 2017 Stanley Cup Final. I doubt this will alter any plans by Nashville general manager David Poile to add a scoring forward before the trade deadline. 

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury and won’t play in tonight’s game against the Edmonton Oilers. Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar said MacKinnon’s injury doesn’t appear too serious at this point. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No word yet as to just how long MacKinnon could be sidelined. The longer he’s out, the greater the impact upon the Avs’ playoff hopes. 

NJ.COM: New Jersey Devils left wing Taylor Hall was fined $5,000.00 by the NHL department of player safety for boarding Buffalo Sabres winger Kyle Okposo during the Devils’ 3-1 win on Tuesday. 

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins forward Conor Sheary (lower-body injury) is questionable for Friday’s game against the Washington Capitals. 

TWINCITIES.COM: With Jaromir Jagr’s departure earlier this week to the Czech Republic, Minnesota Wild forward Matt Cullen, 41, is now the oldest active player in the NHL. 

TSN: The Tampa Bay Lightning acquired minor-league goaltender Eddie Pasquale from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for future considerations. 

TORONTO STAR: On the 25th anniversary of Gary Bettman becoming NHL commissioner, Kevin McGran “looks at the many faces, controversies and accomplishments of hockey’s top guy.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  Bettman has justifiably earned his share of criticism over the years, but there’s no question he’s also had a positive effect upon the NHL. His legacy will be felt for decades.