NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 20, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 20, 2020

The Lightning, Bruins, and Avalanche march on to the second round, the Canucks have the Blues on the brink of elimination, and the Canadiens stave off elimination. Check out the recaps in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


NHL.COM: Brayden Point’s overtime goal gave the Tampa Bay Lightning a 5-4 series-clinching victory in Game 5 of their first-round series, avenging last year’s first-round elimination by the Blue Jackets. Point also picked up two assists while Nikita Kucherov collected three helpers. Alexander Wennberg and Nick Foligno each had a goal and an assist for the Jackets.



Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was easily the most entertaining game of this series. The Lightning saw an early 2-0 lead erased as the Jackets took a 4-2 lead, but rallied back to tie the game, setting the stage for Point’s overtime heroics. It was a tough loss for the plucky Jackets, but their lack of scoring depth cost them against a Lightning club more motivated and better-prepared compared to last year’s series.

Patrice Bergeron’s goal in the dying seconds of the second period held up as the winner to give the Boston Bruins a series-clinching 2-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 5 of their opening-round series. David Krejci tallied the game-tying goal in the second period and the Bruins shut the door on the Hurricanes in the third.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins recovered their dominant form following a lackluster round-robin. They also overcame the departure of starting goalie Tuukka Rask for family reasons midway through this series. The Hurricanes have a bright future but they still have depth issues to sort out. Losing sniper Andrei Svechnikov to a leg injury in Game 3 didn’t help.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon’s four-point performance (two goals, two assists) carried his club to a series-clinching 7-1 drubbing of the Arizona Coyotes in Game 5 of their first-round series. Nazem Kadri also scored twice for the Avs in their second-straight lopsided win. Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper gave up six goals on 30 shots. Following the game, it was revealed Arizona forward Christian Dvorak played this series with a separated shoulder.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Don’t blame Kuemper for his club’s implosion. The Coyotes were overmatched from the start, and it was only because of their starting goaltender that they kept this series reasonably close through the first three games. The dam burst in Game 4 and there was no stopping the Avs’ offensive flood in Game 5.

The Vancouver Canucks have the defending champion St. Louis Blues on the brink of elimination following a 4-3 comeback win in Game 5 to take a 3-2 lead in their series. The Canucks overcame a 3-1 deficit with unanswered second-period goals by J.T. Miller, Jake Virtanen, and Tyler Motte, who scored twice in this contest.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues appeared to have this one in the bag when they went up 3-1, but they sagged as the Canucks pushed back throughout the second period. It was a costly win for the Canucks as defenseman Alexander Edler left the game after being struck in the head by a skate. An update on his status could come later today.

The Montreal Canadiens staved off elimination with a wild 5-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 5 of their first-round series. Joel Armia scored twice, Nick Suzuki tallied the game-winner, and Brendan Gallagher snapped his goalless drought. Jakub Voracek scored twice for the Flyers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the most physical contest of the series. Jesperi Kotkaniemi earned a five-minute major and game misconduct for boarding Travis Sanheim in the second period, which the Flyers cashed in on with two power-play goals. The Habs rallied back with two goals to regain the lead. Joel Farabee tied it early in the third before Nick Suzuki and Phillip Danault put it away for the Habs. Gallagher set the tone for the Habs with his feisty play but may have suffered a fractured jaw after being cross-checked in the mouth by Matt Niskanen, who could face supplemental discipline.


MASSLIVE.com: Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask reportedly left the club to deal with a specific family emergency. Rask spoke with WEEI’s Greg Hill, who said the netminder received a call from his wife that there was a medical emergency with their daughter. Hill didn’t reveal the details of what Rask told him, adding that the goalie’s daughter is okay now.

NEW YORK POST: Islanders forward Cal Clutterbuck will be in the lineup against the Washington Capitals in Game 5 tonight. Clutterbuck left Game 4 following a low hit from Capitals defenseman Radko Gudas. The Islanders lead the series 3-1.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): James Mirtle reports the Toronto Maple Leafs received permission from the Minnesota Wild to speak with former head coach Bruce Boudreau. No formal interview has been conducted and the Leafs declined to comment, but sources close to Boudreau say he’s intrigued. The Leafs seek a replacement for departed assistant coach Paul McFarland.

TSN: The Washington Capitals signed goaltender Zach Fucale to a one-year, two-way contract.

NHL Rumor Mill – December 27, 2017

NHL Rumor Mill – December 27, 2017

The NHL holiday trade freeze ends at midnight tonight. Here’s the latest on the Penguins, Islanders,  Bruins and Canadiens in the rumor mill. 


SPORTSNET: The ongoing struggles of the defending Stanley Cup champions Pittsburgh Penguins could force general manager Jim Rutherford to consider a roster shakeup. Insider Nick Kypreos said he’s heard defenseman Kris Letang’s name bandied about. The blueliner has struggled since returning from neck surgery last season. The fact the Pens won the Cup last season without Letang could make moving the rearguard more palatable for Rutherford. He’s got four more seasons left on his contract with an annual cap hit of $7.25 million and the Pens would love to shed some salary. 

If the Pens shop Letang, Elliotte Friedman believes they’ll want two forwards, a center and a winger, in return. Blueliner Ian Cole also remains a potential trade candidate. Letang’s health remains a concern. 

FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cited Friedman’s appearance last Friday on Edmonton’s 630 CHED discussing the possibility of the Penguins and Buffalo Sabres becoming a trade match. He said he wouldn’t be surprised if Rutherford has Sabres’ winger Evander Kane on his radar. 

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks can see Ottawa Senators center Derick Brassard “energizing the Penguins and thriving in Pittsburgh”. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Moving Letang’s hefty contract is difficult, but as the Dion Phaneuf trade in Feb. 2016 proved, it’s not impossible to trade a defenseman with a big contract and a modified no-trade clause. The difference between the two, however, is the concern over Letang’s health. Since 2008-09, he was frequently sidelined by numerous injuries, as well as a heart ailment that put him on the shelf for 26 games in 2013-14. That could be the biggest trade impediment.

As for pursuing Kane, Rutherford could face tough odds prying him away from the Sabres right now. Buffalo GM Jason Botterill could retain the pending UFA left winger until the Feb. 26 trade deadline in hopes of driving up his value in the trade market. The Penguins won’t be the only club chasing him. The Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks are two Western clubs that could have serious interest in Kane.

Brassard would certainly address the Penguins need for a skilled two-way third-line center. However, Rutherford would have to shed salary to make room for his $5 million annual cap hit through 2018-19. 


Despite the New York Islanders’ successful arena bid for Belmont Park, Nick Kypreos reports there’s been no contract talks slated between the New York Islanders and John Tavares heading into the New Year. That could be bad news for Isles fans. Kypreos said the real feeling is Tavares could wait this out until after the season and perhaps examine the free-agent market in July. 

NEWSDAY: Arthur Staple recently reported the New York Islanders’ goaltending situations “is untenable”. He pointed out the current tandem of Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss combined to allow 123 goals in 36 games with no shutouts. Looking at possible trade options for GM Garth Snow, Staple lists Detroit’s Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek, Buffalo’s Robin Lehner, Arizona’s Antti Raanta and Vancouver’s Anders Nilsson as possible trade options, as well as their flaws. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yes, Tavares could test the UFA market in July. He could also just as easily re-sign with the Islanders. It wouldn’t be surprising if he waits to see how this season plays out. If he feels the Isles are serious about building a winner around him, I believe he’ll stay put. 

Of the Wings goalies, Mrazek is the trade candidate. While the Wings could be willing to pick up part of his $4 million salary-cap hit, the decline in his play screams “buyer beware!”. I concur with Staple that Lehner could be the best of this bunch. He could improve playing on a better club but his injury history is a concern. I don’t see the Coyotes or Canucks moving Raanta or Nilsson. A better option could San Jose Sharks backup Aaron Dell, but the asking price could be a scoring winger. 


THE BOSTON GLOBE: Fluto Shinzawa reported Saturday the Boston Bruins have a right wing and a left-side defenseman on their post-holiday freeze wish list. He suggests Thomas Vanek, who’s on a one-year contract with the Vancouver Canucks, could address that right-wing need.

Finding a left-side blueliner, however, could be more difficult. The Bruins have always thought highly of Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Noah Hanifin but the asking price would be expensive, perhaps Brandon Carlo either prospects or draft picks. Shinzawa lists Los Angeles’ Alec Martinez, Detroit’s Jonathan Ericsson or the New York Rangers’ Brendan Smith as more reasonable targets, though they’re not cheap in salary. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Bruins target Vanek they might have to wait until closer to the trade deadline to land him. As long as the Canucks remain in playoff contention they’ll be reluctant to move him.

There was talk earlier this season of the Kings moving a defenseman like Martinez if they felt they needed to add a scorer. So far, however, they seem to be doing fine in that regard.

If the Bruins are interested in Ericsson I daresay the Wings would love to shed his $4.25 million cap hit through 2019-20, but he also carries a full no-trade clause this season and he might not want to go to Boston. Smith is in the first year of a four-year deal worth $4.35 million annually and has a 15-team trade list. Given his struggles this season with the Blueshirts, I don’t think the Bruins will take that gamble. 


TVA SPORTS: The Montreal Canadiens attempted to trade goaltender Zachary Fucale in recent weeks but couldn’t find any takers. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yet another reason why the Canadiens probably won’t shop Charlie Lindgren. It appears the once-promising Fucale will never reach the NHL on a full-time basis.