NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 14, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 14, 2020

Recaps of Thursday’s playoff games, Canadiens coach Claude Julien hospitalized, Dan Hamhuis retires, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

Vegas Golden Knights winger Reilly Smith (NHL Images).

  NHL.COM: The Vegas Golden Knights edged the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 on Reilly Smith’s overtime goal in Game 2 of their first-round series, which Vegas now leads 2-0. It was goalie Robin Lehner’s seventh straight win in as many starts with the Golden Knights, who were without winger Max Pacioretty (unfit to play) in Game 2. His replacement, Tomas Nosek, left the game in the second period. Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane collected three assists.

 

    Dougie Hamilton’s third-period goal lifted the Carolina Hurricanes to a 3-2 win over the Boston Bruins in Game 2 of their series, tying it at a game apiece. Hurricanes winger Andrei Svechnikov had a goal and an assist. Brad Marchand and David Krejci each had a goal and an assist for the Bruins, who were without winger David Pastrnak following an apparent leg injury suffered in Game 1.  

 

 

Boston goalie Tuukka Rask, meanwhile, raised eyebrows with his post-game comments comparing the atmosphere in this playoff bubble to playing exhibition games. “To be honest with you, it really doesn’t feel like playoff hockey out there,” said Rask. “There are no fans, so it’s kind of like playing an exhibition game.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rask probably isn’t the only player feeling that way, which could account in part for why some teams and notable players seem to struggle to regain their intensity in the early going. Those who adjust more quickly could have an advantage through the opening round.

Joonas Korpisalo made 36 savers backstopping the Columbus Blue Jackets over the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 in Game 2 of their first-round series, which now stands knotted at a game apiece. Oliver Bjorkstrand snapped a 1-1 tie in the second period, Alexander Wennberg put the game away with his third-period tally and Pierre-Luc Dubois picked up two assists. Nikita Kucherov scored for the Lightning.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s the same story with the Blue Jackets. They get outshot by a big margin (37-22 in this game) but weather the storm and break your heart with their timely offense.

The Dallas Stars tied their series with the Calgary Flames at a game apiece as Jamie Oleksiak’s goal with 40 seconds remaining in regulation gave them a 5-4 victory. Stars blueliner Miro Heiskanen scored twice while teammates Alexander Radulov and Corey Perry each had a goal and an assist. Ben Bishop returned to the Stars net after being unfit to play in Game 1 while Taylor Fedun filled in for the sidelined Stephen Johns. Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk left the game following a third-period collision with Oleksiak and Jamie Benn.

HEADLINES

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens head coach Claude Julien was rushed to hospital after suffering chest pains following his club’s 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 1 of their first-round series. His condition isn’t related to COVID-19. Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said Julien won’t return for the remainder of the series. Assistant coaches Kirk Muller, Dominque Ducharme, and Luke Richardson will share the coaching duties in Julien’s absence.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergevin indicated he’d received some good news about Julien’s condition yesterday afternoon but didn’t elaborate. Here’s hoping the Habs bench boss makes a quick and full recovery.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom is in concussion protocol and won’t take part in Game 2 against the New York Islanders later today. Backstrom was injured following a late hit by Islanders’ captain Anders Lee. Lars Eller will replace Backstrom after returning to the club following the birth of his son.

AZCENTRAL.COM: The Arizona Coyotes hope to have center Nick Schmaltz in the lineup for Game 2 against the Colorado Avalanche later today. He’s been absent since being injured during an exhibition game two weeks ago.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The low-scoring Coyotes could use Schmaltz’s offense against the Avs. He was their leading scorer during the regular season.

THE SCORE: Defenseman Dan Hamhuis announced his retirement after 16 NHL seasons with the Nashville Predators, Vancouver Canucks, and Dallas Stars. He played in 1,184 games, netting 356 points. Hamhuis played in two games of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final until a groin injury sidelined him for the rest of the series. He won a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2014 Winter Olympics.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Hamhuis in his future endeavors. He was among the league’s best defensive blueliners during his playing prime.










NHL Rumor Mill – March 31, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – March 31, 2020

A look at several veterans who could face retirement in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Steven Ellis lists Dallas Stars winger Corey Perry and Minnesota Wild center Mikko Koivu among six pending unrestricted free agents that may have played their final NHL games if the league cancels the remainder of this season and the playoffs. Nashville Predators defenseman Dan Hamhuis, Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard, Pittsburgh Penguins winger Patrick Marleau, and Carolina Hurricanes winger Justin Williams round out his list.

Dallas Stars winger Corey Perry is among several veterans who may have played their final NHL games if the season doesn’t resume (Photo via NHL Images).

Perry’s low production (21 points) makes it hard to imagine another team signing him after this season. Injuries have hampered Koivu, who’s slipped down the Wild’s depth chart. He’s also shown no interest in playing elsewhere. Injuries have also taken a toll on Hamhuis’ play.

Howard’s struggles in recent years leads Ellis to suggest a club would be desperate to take a chance on the veteran netminder. Marleau didn’t manage much offense with the Penguins after being traded to Pittsburgh last month. Williams put up decent numbers following his return from a half-season hiatus, but his two-way play was rusty and his ice time reduced from last season.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien recently looked at which NHL players may have played their final games if the league doesn’t return to action this season.

He also notes Koivu’s Wild-or-nothing position could make things tricky for the veteran center. He also believes the Stars’ one-year gamble on Perry hasn’t worked out. However, Williams could still be an affordable option if he decides to return next season. For teams with flexibility, a player like Marleau, Toronto’s Jason Spezza or Washington’s Ilya Kovalchuk might be worthwhile signings.

Turning to defensemen, O’Brien suggests injuries could force the end of the careers of Chicago’s Brent Seabrook, Dallas’ Roman Polak, Detroit’s Jonathan Ericsson, and Trevor Daley. He also hopes St. Louis Blues rearguard Jay Bouwmeester hangs up his skates following his health scare last month. He feels Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara is a “play as long as you want” option, while Hamhuis and Ottawa’s Ron Hainsey could remain good veteran options.

Among the goaltenders, Anaheim’s Ryan Miller could get nudged out the door. O’Brien wondered if Henrik Lundqvist would accept a backup role if the New York Rangers buy him out. He speculates Howard might accept less money and a reduced role to remain in the NHL. Ottawa’s Craig Anderson and Edmonton’s Mike Smith are aging and struggled in recent seasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the NHL cancels this season, it will rob those on Ellis’ and O’Brien’s lists the opportunity for a last hurrah.

I think Perry, Koivu, Howard, Hamhuis, Miller, Anderson, Polak, Ericsson, and Daley have probably played their final NHL games. Bouwmeester’s cardiac incident last month will probably bring his playing days to an end.

Lundqvist’s situation will be interesting if he and the Rangers part company. He could move on to a mentor role with another club or call it a career. At this point, it could go either way.

Chara will return with the Bruins next season on another one-year, bonus-laden deal. I can see Marleau doing the same with the Sharks, though that’ll depend upon their cap space. Williams could return with the Hurricanes, but they’ll probably want a full-season commitment this time around.

Seabrook could be placed on long-term injury reserve for next season if he needs more time to recover from his surgeries. Smith’s had his inconsistencies, but he’s played well enough to remain in Edmonton in a backup role for another season.

Spezza could stick with the Leafs for another season on a cheap one-year deal. Speculation out of Montreal claims Kovalchuk is all-but-certain to return to the Canadiens on a bonus-filled one-year deal.










NHL Last Lap: Hainsey, Hamhuis and Perry Worthy of Recognition

NHL Last Lap: Hainsey, Hamhuis and Perry Worthy of Recognition

 










Where Are They Now? 2011 Vancouver Canucks

Where Are They Now? 2011 Vancouver Canucks

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 31, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 31, 2019

Game recaps, Alex Ovechkin reaches 50 goals again, Islanders clinch a playoff berth, Flyers eliminated from the postseason race, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: Washington Capitals captain and NHL goal-scoring leader Alex Ovechkin scored twice and reached the 50-goal plateau for the eighth time in his career to lead his club to a 6-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie each scored twice and collected an assist.

With the win, the Capitals (102 points) maintain a three-point lead over the New York Islanders for first place in the Metropolitan Division. It was a costly loss for the Lightning, as defenseman Victor Hedman left the game in the first period after being struck in the face by the helmet of Capitals winger Carl Hagelin. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Only Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy have more 50-goal seasons (nine each) than Ovechkin, who narrowly missed the cut with 49 goals last season. It’s a remarkable achievement by one of the greatest goal scorers in NHL history.

For the eighth time in his career, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin has scored 50 goals (Photo via NHL Images)

The New York Islanders clinched a playoff spot by downing the Buffalo Sabres 5-1. Robin Lehner made 31 stops and Anthony Beauvillier scored two goals. Sabres forward Vladimir Sobotka missed the game with an upper-body injury. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Entering this season, the Islanders weren’t expected to be in the playoff chase following the offseason departure of John Tavares to Toronto. Credit the coaching of Barry Trotz and his staff,  a career season by goaltender Robin Lehner, and the determination of the players for the Isles surprising performance. 

The Philadelphia Flyers are out of the playoff race after dropping a 5-2 decision to the Carolina Hurricanes. Teuvo Teravainen and Brock McGinn each tallied a goal and an assist for the Hurricanes (93 points) who remain one point ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets for the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Columbus Blue Jackets maintained their hold on the second Eastern Conference wild-card spot by beating the Nashville Predators 5-2. Cam Atkinson scored twice for the Jackets. The Predators activated defenseman Dan Hamhuis, who missed over a month with a leg injury.

The Montreal Canadiens (92 points) kept pace with the Blue Jackets by beating the Winnipeg Jets 3-1. Jordan Weal had a goal and an assist for the Canadiens, who remain tied with the Jackets but sit outside the final Eastern wild-card spot. 

The San Jose Sharks (97 points) secured home-ice advantage in the opening round of the upcoming playoffs by edging the Vegas Golden Knights 4-3 on an overtime goal by Brent Burns. The Sharks also snapped a seven-game losing skid. 

Vince Dunn scored in overtime as the St. Louis Blues edged the New Jersey Devils 3-2. Robert Thomas had a goal and an assist for the Blues (92 points), who moved within two points of the Nashville Predators for second place in the Central Division. 

Roberto Luongo made 30 saves and Evgenii Dadonov scored two goals as the Florida Panthers upset the Boston Bruins 4-1. The Bruins (103 points) remains six points ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs for second place in the Eastern Conference. 

Craig Anderson kicked out 42 shots and Anthony Duclair scored twice as the Ottawa Senators upset the slumping Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2. The loss prevented the Leafs (97 points) from clinching a playoff spot. Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki missed the game with an upper-body injury. 

Markus Granlund scored the only goal in a shootout to give the Vancouver Canucks a 3-2 win over the Dallas Stars. Jacob Markstrom made 38 saves for the win. The Stars (89 points) maintain a four-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche for the first wild-card berth in the West.

Rickard Rakell tallied a natural hat trick to lead the Anaheim Ducks to a 5-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. The loss keeps the Oilers (77 points) eight points out of a playoff spot in the West.

The Chicago Blackhawks (79 points) dropped a 3-2 overtime decision to the Los Angeles Kings but moved within six points of the Avalanche for the final Western wild-card berth. Drew Doughty tallied the game-winner for the Kings. 

The Detroit Red Wings are expected to announce a two-year contract extension for head coach Jeff Blashill in the coming days. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Wings general manager Ken Holland has frequently supported Blashill’s efforts and recently indicated his intention to negotiate a new contract for his bench boss. The improvement of their young players under Blashill’s coaching is the main reason for this move. 

The Arizona Coyotes re-signed center Nick Schmaltz to a seven-year contract extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates it’s worth $40.95 million ($5.85-million annual average value) with a modified no-trade clause (10-team no-trade list) starting in 2023-24. It’s a big raise for the 23-year-old Schmaltz coming out of his entry-level contract. His tenure with the Coyotes has been short thus far, playing in just 17 games after being acquired earlier in the season from Chicago.

A knee injury finished his season but Coyotes management obviously liked what they saw from him and feel confident he’ll be their first-line center going forward. Schmaltz had 52 points last season with the Blackhawks and 14 points with the Coyotes before his injury. 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 26, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 26, 2018

Jarome Iginla to announce retirement, Trevor Linden leaves Canucks, an update on Henrik Zetterberg, the latest notable contract signings and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

CALGARY SUN: Former Flames captain Jarome Iginla will return to the Saddledome on July 30 to officially announced his retirement as an NHL player after 20 years. Iginla, 41, was an unrestricted free agent last season but couldn’t find any takers among the 31 NHL teams.

Iginla totaled “625 goals and 675 assists in 1,554 regular-season outings between 1996-2017”, with 525 goals and 1,095 points coming with the Flames, making him the franchise leader in both categories. He’s a former two-time winner of the Richard Trophy as the league’s leading goalscorer. He also won the Art Ross Trophy as the top scorer and the Pearson Award (now the Ted Lindsay Award) as the MVP as voted by the players.

Jarome Iginla is returning to Calgary to officially announced his NHL retirement.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Iginla was the greatest player in Flames history, no small feat considering their ranks over the years included Lanny McDonald, Al MacInnis, Mikka Kiprusoff, Joe Nieuwendyk, Theo Fleury and Mike Vernon. It’s only fitting that he retires in Calgary where he had his greatest seasons.

The Flames also re-signed center Mark Jankowski to a two-year deal worth an annual average value of $1.675-million, while an arbiter awarded Flames defenseman Brett Kulak a one-year, one-way contract worth $900K.

CTV NEWS: The Vancouver Canucks last night announced Trevor Linden was stepping down as their president of hockey operations. Linden said in a statement he wanted to spend more time with his family while the club called the decision an amicable one.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s already speculation suggesting disagreements between Linden and others in the front office and ownership over the rebuilding club’s direction is the real reason behind his decision. 

Speaking of the Canucks, they re-signed forward Jake Virtanen to a two-year contract worth $1.25-million per season.

THE DETROIT NEWS: Player agent Gunnar Svensson, who represents Detroit Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg, told Swedish publication Hockeybladet his client remains undecided if he’ll return to action in 2018-19. 

“There have been some injury problems with his back. It is impossible to answer how it will be, for it one cannot know what it is now. He simply has not decided,” said Svensson. Wings GM Ken Holland has said he expects Zetterberg will report to training camp in September but he’s also uncertain about his status for the upcoming season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We won’t know Zetterberg’s status for certain until training camp opens. He’ll have to pass the club medical before he can take to the ice with his teammates, which should provide the earliest indication as to whether he’ll be playing in 2018-19.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild avoided salary arbitration with winger Jason Zucker as the two sides agreed to a five-year, $27.5-million contract with an annual average value of $5.5 million. “He will be paid $5 million in the 2018-19 season, $6.25 million in 2019-20, $4.8 million in 2020-21, $6.25 million in 2021-22 and $5.2 million in 2022-23.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zucker was the subject of trade speculation following a disappointing playoff performance this spring but it’s obvious now that he’s not going anywhere. The 26-year-old reached career highs with 33 goals and 31 assists for 64 points last season. His re-signing leaves the Wild with around $1.7-million in projected salary-cap space (stick tap to Cap Friendly), suggesting new GM Paul Fenton is probably done making any significant additions to the roster. 

THE TENNESSEAN: Defenseman Dan Hamhuis is returning to the team where his NHL career began, inking a two-year contract with the Nashville Predators worth $2.5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A good, affordable veteran addition by the Predators. Hamhuis, 35, won’t be logging the big minutes he did earlier in his career but he’s still capable of skating 20 minutes per game if necessary. He’ll make a solid third-pairing addition who can move up if necessary should injuries strike the top-four blueliners. 

DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars re-signed forward Mattias Janmark to a one-year, $2.3-million contract.

SUN-SENTINEL.COM: The Florida Panthers re-signed defenseman MacKenzie Weegar to a one-year deal. Cap Friendly indicates it’s a one-way agreement worth $900K

NEWSDAY: The New York Islanders named Piero Greco as their new goaltending coach, replacing Fred Brathwaite.

SPORTSNET: Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby will be honored as the top Nova Scotia athlete of all time at a gala dinner in Halifax on Thursday.