NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 23, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 23, 2020

The Stars draw first blood in their second-round series with the Avalanche, plus the latest on Marc-Andre Fleury, Steven Stamkos, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Dallas Stars took a 1-0 lead in their second-round series against the Colorado Avalanche with a 5-3 victory in the opening game. The Stars’ first line led the way, with Alexander Radulov scoring twice and collecting an assist, Tyler Seguin opening the scoring and assisting on another, and captain Jamie Benn adding three helpers.

Dallas Stars winger Alexander Radulov (NHL Images).

Nathan MacKinnon had a three-point game (two goals, one assist) for the Avalanche, who lost starting goalie Philipp Grubauer with an apparent left leg injury during the second period. Avs defenseman Erik Johnson also suffered a lower-body injury in the first period. He tried to return during the second and spent the third period on the bench.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Led by their first-liners, the Stars dominated much of the play in this game. Apart from MacKinnon, the Avs failed to match their opponent’s intensity.

We could learn more about the status of Grubauer and Johnson later today. Colorado coach Jared Bednar didn’t sound optimistic about his goalie returning to action for Game 2. “He won’t be hitting the ice tomorrow or anything like that,” said Bednar. While he’s hopeful Grubauer can return soon, he indicated backup Pavel Francouz will have to get the job done during his starter’s absence.

SPORTSNET: A suggestive social media post by the agent for Marc-Andre Fleury raised eyebrows and questions over the status of the Vegas Golden Knights netminder. Allan Walsh yesterday tweeted a picture depicting Fleury with a sword in his back and the name “DeBoer” on the blade, suggesting Walsh’s client was being stabbed in the back by Vegas coach Peter DeBoer.

Fleury has appeared in just two postseason contests with Robin Lehner getting the bulk of the starts. Elliotte Friedman last night reported Fleury remains with the Golden Knights and the club seems to be ignoring Walsh’s provocative post. Neither side issued a statement on the matter, but Friedman indicated Fleury met with team officials yesterday and they’re satisfied this won’t be an issue.

 

 

 

 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I understand Walsh has Fleury’s best interests at heart and he’s going to bat for his client, but this post was over the top. The Golden Knights are trying to win the Stanley Cup. DeBoer is simply going with the better goalie. Right now, that’s Lehner. Walsh’s post created an unnecessary distraction for his client and the team.

CBS SPORTS: Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper said team captain Steven Stamkos won’t be available for Game 1 of their club’s second-round series against the Boston Bruins. Stamkos remains sidelined by a lower-body injury suffered during Phase 2 training.

TSN: Montreal Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher underwent surgery on Friday for his fractured jaw and returned home to British Columbia. He was also playing with a slight tear in his hip suffered during the qualifying-round series with Pittsburgh.

THE SCORE: NBC Sports hockey analyst Mike Milbury issued a statement yesterday indicating he was temporarily stepping away from his role following an insensitive remark made about women during a broadcast on Thursday. The remark was condemned by the network and the league shortly afterward.  










2020 NHL Playoffs: Flyers, Canadiens Could Face a Scrappy Game 6

2020 NHL Playoffs: Flyers, Canadiens Could Face a Scrappy Game 6

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 21, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 21, 2020

The Stars and Islanders advance to the second round, Matt Niskanen gets a one-game suspension for a cross-check that fractured Brendan Gallagher’s jaw and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

Dallas Stars forward Denis Gurianov (NHL Images)

  NHL.COM: Denis Gurianov scored four times as the Dallas Stars overcame a 3-0 deficit with seven unanswered goals to crush the Calgary Flames 7-3, winning their opening-round series four games to two. Five of those goals came in the second period. Stars defenseman Miro Heiskanen had a goal and three assists while teammate Joe Pavelski tallied one goal and set up two others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A well-deserved victory for the Stars in this game and in this series. They’ll face the Colorado Avalanche in the second round. I was very impressed with Heiskanen’s performance in this series. The 21-year-old NHL sophomore is rapidly blossoming into an elite defenseman. Pavelski, meanwhile, continues to prove at 36 he’s still a reliable postseason performer. As for the Flames, some big changes could be coming after this meltdown.

Anthony Beauvillier scored twice, including the game-winner, as the New York Islanders blanked the Washington Capitals 4-0 to take their first-round series four games to one. Semyon Varlamov made 21 saves for the shutout.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A dominant performance by the Islanders, shutting down the league’s second-best offensive team. It was a master class by Isles bench boss Barry Trotz as he outcoached the Capitals’ Todd Reirden in this series. Two years following the Caps’ Stanley Cup championship, some changes could be in store for the roster and behind the bench.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The NHL Department of Player Safety handed a one-game suspension to Flyers defenseman Matt Niskanen for cross-checking Montreal Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher in the face during Game 5 of their first-round series.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Niskanen’s cross-check fractured Gallagher’s jaw, sidelining the Canadiens winger for the remainder of this series and possibly longer should the Habs advance to the second round.    

 

CBS SPORTS: Vancouver Canucks defenseman Tyler Myers suffered a slightly separated shoulder. He’ll be sidelined for the remainder of the Canucks’ series with the St. Louis Blues. Canucks winger Tyler Toffoli (lower-body injury) could be in the lineup for Game 6 tonight.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Former NHL coach Bill Peters has tested positive for COVID-19. The head coach of Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg, Peters is reportedly asymptomatic.










NHL Playoffs: Canadiens Fend Off Elimination With 5-3 Win Over The Flyers

NHL Playoffs: Canadiens Fend Off Elimination With 5-3 Win Over The Flyers

 










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.

GAME RECAPS

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.

HEADLINES

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 Morning Coffee Headlines – June 30, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 30, 2020

The latest return-to-play news plus updates on Carey Price, Mikko Rantanen, Nick Foligno, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

RETURN-TO-PLAY UPDATES

NHL.COM: The NHL announced 26 players out of over 250 tested positive for COVID-19 since Phase 2 of the return-to-play plan began on June 8. Fifteen who took part in small-group training tested positive while an additional 11 tested positive outside the Phase 2 protocols. All have self-isolated and are following CDC and Health Canada protocols. Over 1, 450 tests have been implemented.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league didn’t indicate when those players contracted the coronavirus or the severity of their symptoms. Earlier reports indicated most were asymptomatic, with a small number having a low-grade fever. We also don’t know how many of those players have since recovered.

Those numbers will increase as more players report to their NHL cities ahead of Phase 3 (mandatory training camp) on July 10. Health and social distancing protocols will be stricter in Phase 3, though the league won’t be quarantining the players during that period.

TSN: Bob McKenzie reports a decision on the two host cities for the 24-team playoff tournament could come today. While the state of Nevada is seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases, Las Vegas could still be chosen as a host because it could have the best “locked-down” or “protected” bubble of the remaining candidates.

McKenzie also reports the league and the NHLPA appear to be getting closer toward an agreement on the final two phases of the return-to-plan plan and a CBA extension. A vote could come this week. July 10 is the tentative start date for Phase 3 but it could be pushed back a little with no effect upon the start of Phase 4 on July 30.

In a lengthy Twitter post, McKenzie pondered some possible changes in the CBA extension. He wanted to know if it would be 3 or 4 years or 3 years with a mutual opt-in/opt-out in year 4. He also wondered if there would be limitations on salary variance and signing bonuses, or opt-outs of the playoff tournament for players with existing medical conditions (diabetes, asthma, etc) or penalty-free opt-outs for those uncomfortable with taking part.

McKenzie points out the two sides still haven’t reached an agreement regarding bonus money owed on July 1. He also notes they must work out an international hockey calendar, but the Winter Olympics no longer appear a consideration.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless the bonus issue is part of the CBA extension, the two sides might need a separate agreement on that, perhaps a tentative on to push the bonuses to the end of October as they did with expiring contracts.

Until recently, it was believed the players were keen to return to the Olympics. If that’s no longer the case it’s probably because the changes in the NHL calendar over the next couple of years and ongoing concerns over the coronavirus could make participation in the 2022 Beijing Winter Games almost impossible.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Sean Shapiro reports the availability and location of hotels near American Airlines Arena played a major role in Dallas being ruled out as a potential hub city.

IN OTHER NEWS…

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price returned to Montreal for the first time since the schedule was paused in mid-March.

NHL.COM: Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen skated with his teammates in Phase 2 training. Rantanen had been sidelined by an injured shoulder suffered in late February

Carolina Hurricanes goaltenders Petr Mrazek and James Reimer have recovered from their previous injuries. Sidelined defensemen Dougie Hamilton, Brett Pesce, and Sami Vatanen could be ready to participate in the Phase 3 training camp.

TSN: Columbus Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno said he and his teammates aren’t interested in the possibility of his club having a shot at winning the first-overall pick in the 2020 draft. “We play to win the Stanley Cup regardless,” he told SiriusXM NHL Network Radio. He added the No. 1 pick is management’s concern.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s a silly theory floated by some fans suggesting some teams in the qualifying round could tank to become eligible for the second phase of the draft lottery to determine the winner of the No. 1 pick. They’re not going to endure Phase 3 training camp followed by a locked-down Phase 4 tournament isolated from family and friends away from their home cities while undergoing constant COVID-19 testing just to have a 12.5 percent chance at winning the rights to Alexis Lafreniere. Their motivation is winning the Stanley Cup and helping the league recoup some of their $1.1 billion in losses from the COVID-19 shutdown. 

DETROIT FREE PRESS: The Red Wings canceled their prospect tournament in September and will conduct training camp for 2020-21 at Little Caesars Arena due to COVID-19.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): The sports-marketing agency Wasserman expanded its pool of European hockey talent by acquiring Acme World Sports. Acme’s clients include Boston’s Tuukka Rask, Carolina’s Teuvo Teravainen, Dallas’ Esa Lindell, and Toronto’s Kasperi Kapanen.

VANCOUVER SUN/TAMPA BAY TIMES: Vancouver Province sportswriter Tony Gallagher has been honored by the Hockey Hall of Fame as the recipient of the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award for journalism excellence. Tampa Bay Lightning play-by-play man Rick Peckham received the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award for outstanding contributions by a broadcaster.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to Gallagher and Peckham.