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.










Lightning’s Vasilevskiy Continues To Steer Towards Another Vezina Trophy

Lightning’s Vasilevskiy Continues To Steer Towards Another Vezina Trophy

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 15, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 15, 2021

Marc-Andre Fleury reaches a career wins milestone, J.T. Miller expresses concern about the Canucks returning to action on Friday, Jack Eichel done for the season, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury picked up his 485th career victory as he backstopped the Vegas Golden Knights over the Los Angeles Kings 6-2. Fleury moved into sole possession of fourth place on the all-time NHL wins list. Max Pacioretty and Tomas Nosek each had a goal and two assists for the Golden Knights, who remain in second place in the Honda West Division with 60 points.

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (NHL Images)

Devan Dubnyk made 31 saves in his debut with the Colorado Avalanche as they held off the St. Louis Blues 4-3. Colorado winger Mikko Rantanen had a goal and an assist while Blues winger Mike Hoffman tallied twice. The Avalanche sit atop the West Division with 64 points while the Blues (44 points) remain in fourth place. They played without goaltender Philipp Grubauer, who tested positive for COVID-19 and is expected to be sidelined for two weeks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The recent acquisition of Dubnyk proved timely for the Avs. With Grubauer on the shelf and regular backup Pavel Francouz out of the season, they would’ve been in big trouble without an experienced netminder to fill the void. Dubnyk’s no longer in his playing prime but should provide some short-term stability between the pipes.

The Arizona Coyotes missed an opportunity to overtake the Blues by dropping a 5-2 decision to the Minnesota Wild. The Coyotes have lost five straight and remain one point back of the Blues. Mats Zuccarello scored two goals for the Wild as they sit in third place with 53 points.

A 27-save performance by Anthony Stolarz carried the Anaheim Ducks to a 4-1 win over the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks have lost four of their last five and sit four points back of the Blues.

The Calgary Flames kept their playoff hopes alive in the Scotia North Division by beating the Montreal Canadiens 4-1. Jacob Markstrom made 26 saves as the Flames (41 points) picked up their third straight win to sit just four points behind the Canadiens, who’ve dropped four of their last five contests.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames’ postseason hopes seemed all but dashed a week ago. They were mired in a lengthy losing skid while the Canadiens were playing .500 hockey and seem assured of clinching a playoff spot. The odds still favor the inconsistent Habs as they hold three games in hand over the Flames with several key games coming up between those two teams.

Laurent Brossoit stopped 27 shots as the Winnipeg Jets edged the Ottawa Senators 3-2. With 55 points, the Jets opened a three-point lead over the Edmonton Oilers for second place in the North Division.

HEADLINES

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller spoke out yesterday against his club’s scheduled return to action on Friday after he and his teammates were sidelined for nearly three weeks by a recent COVID-19 outbreak. He believes the Canucks haven’t had sufficient time to recover and return to play, especially with eight players still on the COVID-19 protocol list. He feels he and his teammates would be at greater risk of injury, adding they’re also concerned over the health of their family members who also contracted the coronavirus.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Province’s Patrick Johnston reported the Canucks players met with the NHLPA. TSN’s Darren Dreger reported the PA, NHL and Canucks medical met to determine if the club is healthy enough to play on Friday. A decision is expected later today.

None of the Canucks want to opt-out of completing the season, but they have justifiable concerns about their health and safety right now. It could take at least another week for enough of them to be healthy enough to safely return to action.

TORONTO SUN: Speaking of COVID-19, Maple Leafs forward Nick Robertson was placed on the NHL’s protocol list as a precautionary measure after the AHL postponed three Toronto Marlies games. Robertson recently played with the Marlies before skating in the Leafs’ last two games.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel will not return this season because of a herniated disk in his neck. He’s expected to be recovered and healthy for 2021-22. The Sabres also announced Jason Karmanos has been hired as associate general manager.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel’s been sidelined since March 7 so I don’t think anyone’s surprised by this announcement. It’s just another blow in a seemingly unending series of them this season for the sad-sack Sabres.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars announced goaltender Ben Bishop (knee surgery) and winger Alexander Radulov (core muscle injury) will miss the remainder of the season. The Stars also signed defenseman Joel Hanley to a two-year contract extension with an annual average value of $750K.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bishop underwent surgery last fall. He was on track to return in two weeks’ time but his condition reportedly worsened and they decided to shut him down for the season. Tyler Seguin is still expected to return soon from offseason hip surgery.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals winger Conor Sheary signed a two-year, $3 million contract extension yesterday. The annual average value is $1.5 million.

SPORTSNET: The plans to construct a new arena for the Calgary Flames have been put on hold over budget concerns. The parties involved in the construction are pausing to review and resolve the issues.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 2, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 2, 2021

A five-point performance by the Islanders Mathew Barzal, three more Canucks games are postponed by COVID-19 protocols, division stars and rookie of the month for March are announced, Nathan MacKinnon fined, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Mathew Barzal’s hat trick carried the New York Islanders to an 8-4 romp over the Washington Capitals. Barzal finished with five points while teammate Jordan Eberle scored twice. John Carlson tallied twice for the Capitals, who lost goaltender Ilya Samsonov early in the first period following an accidental collision with teammate T.J. Oshie. The Islanders are tied with the Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins with 50 points but the Capitals remain in first place in the MassMutual East Division on the basis of a game in hand.

New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (NHL Images).

The Penguins, meanwhile, rode a 30-save performance by goaltender Casey DeSmith to a 4-1 victory over the Boston Bruins. Pittsburgh forward Branden Tanev returned to the lineup after missing six games and picked up an assist. The Penguins have won five straight but sit in third place behind the Islanders as the latter has two more regulation wins. Boston defenseman Brandon Carlo left the game with an upper-body injury. The Bruins sit fourth in the vision with 41 points, three ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers.

Speaking of the Rangers, they edged the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 on an overtime goal by Mika Zibanejad. Artemi Panarin collected two assists for the Blueshirts while Sabres goalie Dustin Tokarski kicked out 44 shots. The Rangers are tied with the Flyers with 38 points but the latter holds fifth place with a game in hand.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The East division is getting quite interesting. The Penguins have surged to jockey with the Capitals and Islanders for first place, the Bruins are clinging to fourth place but are being threatened by the Rangers, who could soon surpass the struggling Flyers.

Third-period goals by Ross Colton and Brayden Point 66 seconds apart lifted the Tampa Bay Lightning past the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 to snap a three-game losing streak. Point had two goals on the night while Andrei Vasilevskiy turned aside 36 shots. Zach Werenski had a goal and an assist for the Jackets. With 52 points, the Lightning holds onto first place in the Discover Central Division. The Jackets (36 points) remain in sixth place in the division, three points back of the Nashville Predators and Chicago Blackhawks.

An overtime goal by Alex Wennberg gave the Florida Panthers a 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Frank Vatrano scored the tying goal and collected an assist on Wennberg’s winner. The Panthers also have 52 points but remain in second place in the Central as the Lightning hold a game in hand.

The Carolina Hurricanes got a late goal by Jesper Fast to nip Chicago 4-3 and sit one point behind the Lightning and Panthers. Warren Foegele tallied twice for the Hurricanes. The Blackhawks remain tied with Nashville with 39 points but the latter holds fourth place in the Central on the basis of regulation wins.

As for the Predators, they missed an opportunity to open a lead over the Blackhawks as their six-game win streak ended in a 4-1 loss to the Dallas Stars. Joe Pavelski collected two assists for the Stars (34 points), who sit five behind the Predators and Blackhawks.

A shootout goal by Kevin Fiala lifted the Minnesota Wild past the Vegas Golden Knights by a score of 3-2. Cam Talbot had a 35-save performance while Kirill Kapizov had a goal and an assist for the Wild (46 points), who moved within four points of second-place Vegas in the Honda West Division. The Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche each have 50 points but the latter holds first place because of regulation wins.

The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Ottawa Senators 4-1 as Brendan Gallagher and Phillip Danault each had a goal and an assist. Jake Allen made 23 saves for the Habs, who hold a six-point lead for fourth place over the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks with 41 points.

HEADLINES

Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov is the star of the month for March in the Discover Central Division. Colorado Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer is the Honda West star of the month. Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby took home the honor for the MassMutual East Division while Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid is the Scotia North Division star for March.

Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic was named the NHL’s rookie of the month for March 2021.

The Vancouver Canucks have had three additional games postponed as forwards Adam Gaudette and Travis Hamonic and a member of the coaching staff were placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list earlier this week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gaudette and his wife faced some flak on social media by several folks alleging they failed to properly protect themselves from COVID-19. In fact, the couple followed all guidelines and were informed they did nothing wrong by the team and health officials. The Gaudettes have no idea how they caught the coronavirus and don’t deserve being hounded by some ill-informed fans.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon received a $5,000.00 fine from the NHL department of player safety for unsportsmanlike conduct against Arizona Coyotes winger Conor Garland on Wednesday.

Vegas Golden Knights forward Chandler Stephenson received a three-game suspension for elbowing Los Angeles Kings defenseman Tobias Bjornfot on Wednesday.

NEW YORK POST: Brendan Lemieux requested a trade from the Rangers prior to their dealing him last week to the Los Angeles Kings for a fourth-round pick. Lemieux made the request as he wanted to play for a team where he’d have a more meaningful role. He’d been seeing fourth-line duty this season with the Rangers.

THE SCORE: Roberto Luongo is expected to be named general manager of Team Canada’s 2021 World Championship team.

SPORTSNET: Wisconsin forward Cole Caufield, Minnesota State goaltender Dryden McKay and North Dakota forward Shane Pinto are this year’s finalists for the Hobey Baker Award. Caufield recently signed an entry-level contract with the Montreal Canadiens while Pinto inked a similar deal with the Ottawa Senators.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 27, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 27, 2021

Recaps of Friday’s action features more scoring from Alex Ovechkin, a milestone game for Phil Kessel, the Blues remember beloved alumni Bob Plager, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Alex Ovechkin scored two goals and Ilya Samsonov made 24 saves as the Washington Capitals blanked the New Jersey Devils 4-0. With 48 points, the Capitals are tied with the New York Islanders and hold first place in the MassMutual East Division with a game in hand.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With 17 goals, Ovechkin is just four behind Toronto’s Auston Matthews, who leads the goal-scoring race with 21. The Capitals captain now has 723 career goals, sitting eight behind Hall-of-Famer Marcel Dionne for fifth on the all-time list.

Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel scored in his 1,100th career game in a 5-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks. Christian Dvorak scored twice for the Coyotes (35 points), who sit two points back of the fourth-place St. Louis Blues in the Honda West Division. Kessel and Dvorak lead the Coyotes with 11 goals each.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes became the subject of trade speculation over the past couple of weeks. There’s talk general manager Bill Armstrong could become a seller by the trade deadline but he could have other plans as his club surges back into playoff contention.

Speaking of the Blues, they dropped a 4-1 decision to the Anaheim Ducks. Anaheim goaltender John Gibson returned from a five-game absence with a lower-body injury by making 33 saves as his club snapped a three-game losing skid. Ducks defenseman Jamie Drysdale left the game in the first period with an upper-body injury. Before the game, the Blues honored the memory of beloved alumni Bob Plager, who died earlier this week in a car accident that investigators believe was the result of Plager suffering a cardiac event.

A third-period goal by Paul Stastny enabled the Winnipeg Jets to held off the Calgary Flames 3-2. Stastny, Blake Wheeler and Kyle Connor each had a goal and an assist. The Jets move into a tie with the Toronto Maple Leafs with 44 points but the Leafs hold first place in the Scotia North Divisions because they have a game in hand. The Flames (33 points) remain four behind the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Looks like the Flames need more than bringing back Darryl Sutter as head coach to reverse their fortunes. They’ve dropped four straight after winning four of their first five games after Sutter took over behind the bench. General manager Brad Treliving could turn to the trade market in search of a season-saving deal.

SPORTSNET: The Canadian government has officially approved reducing the 14-day quarantine period for players acquired by Canadian teams from American clubs to seven days. The decision has the support of the five Canadian provinces with NHL teams.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This makes it easier for Canadian teams to make trades with American clubs before the April 12 trade deadline. It’s the same quarantine period as players must undergo when traded between American clubs.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer could be in line for a significant raise following this season. He leads the league in goals-against average (1.69) and shutouts (five) and among the leaders in save percentage (.931) and wins (20).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Grubauer could become a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, which will ensure he gets a big raise from the Avalanche or another club via this summer’s free-agent market. Cap Friendly indicates his current annual average value is $3.33 million. The Post’s Mike Chambers suggests Grubauer could double his money.

ESPN.COM: Buffalo Sabres interim head coach Don Granato and assistant coach Mike Ellis can return behind the bench after being cleared from the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol. The pair were placed on the list just hours before the Sabres game on Thursday against Pittsburgh.

NHL.COM: Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Samuel Morin was fined $3, 017.24 by the league’s department of player safety for unsportsmanlike conduct against New York Rangers forward Brendan Lemieux.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 16, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 16, 2021

Last night’s action featured milestones for Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Patrick Kane and Carey Price. Get the details plus the three stars of the week and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Alex Ovechkin scored his 717th career NHL goals as his Washington Capitals crushed the Buffalo Sabre 6-0. Ovechkin is tied with Phil Esposito for sixth on the all-time goals list. Washington goaltender Vitek Vanecek made 23 saves for his first career NHL shutout. The Capitals (40 points) sit two back of the first-place New York Islanders in the MassMutual East Division.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin had a goal and an assist to reach his 1,100th career point in a 4-1 victory over the Boston Bruins. Tristan Jarry kicked out 42 shots for the win while Sidney Crosby had a goal and two assists. The Penguins (37 points) won their sixth straight to sit third in the East Division while the Bruins (32 points) are clinging to fourth place.

Patrick Kane scored to collect his 1,064 point but his Chicago Blackhawks fell 6-3 to the Florida Panthers. Kane sits fifth on the all-time points list for American-born players, one behind Keith Tkachuk. Florida tallied five unanswered goals with captain Aleksander Barkov leading the way with a goal and two assists. The Panthers (42 points) vaulted over the Carolina Hurricanes into first place in the Discover Central Division while the Blackhawks hold fourth place with 33 points.

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price made 34 saves to pick up the win in his 700th career game as his club doubled up the Winnipeg Jets 4-2. Montreal winger Tyler Toffoli scored twice and collected an assist while Winnipeg winger Kyle Connor tallied two goals. The Jets (36 points) remain in second place in the Scotia North Division while the Canadiens held onto fourth place with 33 points. Earlier in the day, the Habs announced defenseman Ben Chiarot will be sidelined six-to-eight weeks following surgery on a fractured hand.

Pekka Rinne turned aside 38 shots while Calle Jarnkrok scored and picked up three assists as the Nashville Predators upset the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1. Mattias Ekholm had a goal and an assist for the Predators while Steven Stamkos tallied Tampa Bay’s only goal as the Lightning (40 points) slipped to third in the Central Division.

The Philadelphia Flyers edged the New York Rangers 5-4 on an overtime goal by Jakub Voracek, who also collected two assists. Rangers winger Artemi Panarin also had a goal and two helpers. With 31 points, the Flyers sit one back of the fourth-place Bruins in the East.

J.T. Miller scored in overtime as the Vancouver Canucks nipped the Ottawa Senators 3-2. The Senators overcame a 2-0 deficit to force the extra frame on goals by Josh Norris and Colin White. Vancouver goalie Thatcher Demko picked up the win with a 42-save performance as the Canucks (30 points) sit three behind the fourth-place Canadiens in the North Division.

The Calgary Flames picked up their third straight win under new coach Darryl Sutter with a 3-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. Noah Hanifin netted the game-winner in the third period just over a minute after Edmonton forward Leon Draisaitl tied the game. Oilers forward Jujhar Khaira left the game after being knocked out by Brett Ritchie during a first-period fight. Khaira answered the challenge from Ritchie following a high hit on Flames defenseman Oliver Kylington, who left the game but later return to action. The Oilers (36 points) remain in third place in the North Division while the Flames (31 points) are two behind the fourth-place Canadiens.

Mark Stone scored the game-winning goal and set up the game-opening tally as his Vegas Golden Knights held off the San Jose Sharks 2-1. Max Pacioretty also scored while Marc-Andre Fleury kicked out 23 shots for the win. Timo Meier scored for the Sharks. With 39 points, the Golden Knights opened a four-point lead over the Minnesota Wild for first place in the Honda West Division.

IN OTHER NEWS…

NHL.COM: Colorado Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer, Edmonton Oilers center Leon Draisaitl and Winnipeg Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending March 15.

TORONTO STAR: Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen’s recent struggles may be tied to the groin injury he’s playing through.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ve seen Leafs fans on this site and elsewhere demanding general manager Kyle Dubas acquire a goaltender. However, they have limited salary-cap space and the pickings are slim in the trade market for rental goalies.

I’ve seen some suggest Arizona’s Antti Raanta as one option but he’s unlikely to move with Darcy Kuemper sidelined and I’ll be very surprised if the Coyotes trade the latter. Detroit’s Jonathan Bernier could be the best available choice but the Leafs could face competition for his services from contenders like Colorado and Washington.

TSN: Three Rangers (Pavel Buchnevich, Phillip Di Giuseppe and Adam Fox) are among the five players on yesterday’s NHL COVID-19 protocol list. New Jersey’s Will Butcher and the Islanders’ Noah Dobson are the others.