NHL Trade Market Returning to Life
Recaps of Thursday’s playoff games, Canadiens coach Claude Julien hospitalized, Dan Hamhuis retires, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
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.
— Here’s Your Replay ⬇️ (@TheReplayGuy) August 14, 2020
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.
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.
Jets eliminated from the qualifying round in today’s recaps of Thursday’s games, the date for Phase 2 of the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery is revealed, and more in the NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Winnipeg Jets became the second team eliminated from the qualifying round as they were blanked 4-0 by the Calgary Flames in Game 4 on Thursday night. Cam Talbot turned in a 31-save shutout, Dillon Dube scored the eventual game-winner while Sean Monahan and Sam Bennett each had a goal and an assist.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A dominating physical performance by the Flames over the shorthanded Jets, whose fate was sealed when scoring forwards Mark Scheifele (Achilles tendon) and Patrik Laine (wrist) were sidelined in Game 1. The Jets remain eligible to win Phase 2 of the upcoming NHL Draft Lottery and the chance to select top prospect Alexis Lafreniere.
Columbus Blue Jackets’ center Pierre-Luc Dubois’ hat trick (including the game-winner) completed his club’s comeback from a 3-0 deficit to down the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3 in overtime. The Jackets hold a 2-1 series lead and can wrap things up later today in Game 4. The Jackets’ fortunes turned after pulling goalie Joonas Korpisalo in the second period for Elvis Merzlikins, who stopped all 21 shots he faced from the Leafs.
— Here’s Your Replay ⬇️ (@TheReplayGuy) August 7, 2020
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs seemingly had this game well in hand but, as we saw during the regular season, their lack of defensive depth once again proved to be their undoing. Dubois was a one-man wrecking crew but his teammates also stepped up as the Jackets outshot the Leafs 37-27 from the second period onward.
The Vancouver Canucks beat the Minnesota Wild 3-0 to take a 2-1 lead in their qualifying series. Jacob Markstrom made 27 saves for the shutout, Quinn Hughes collected three assists, and Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser each had a goal and an assist.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Four of the Canucks’ best players came through in this physical contest with the Wild. They’ll have a chance to finish this series later today.
Three unanswered third-period goals gave the Vegas Golden Knights a 6-4 victory over the St. Louis Blues in round-robin play. Alex Tuch and Shea Theodore each scored twice for Vegas while Colton Parayko tallied two goals for the Blues.
Scott Laughton’s two goals powered the Philadelphia Flyers over the Washington Capitals 3-1 in round-robin play. Laughton and teammate Kevin Hayes each had three points. Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov was benched for most of the third period.
NHL.COM: Phase 2 of the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery will be held on Monday, Aug. 10 at 6 pm ET to complete the order of the top 15 selections. The winner will get the first-overall selection.
CBS SPORTS: Florida Panthers left wing Jonathan Huberdeau (leg) skipped practice yesterday but is expected to be in the lineup today for Game 4 of his club’s qualifying-round series with the New York Islanders. The Isles hold a 2-1 series lead.
Arizona Coyotes center Nick Schmaltz (undisclosed) skated yesterday at practice, raising speculation he could be in the lineup for Game 4 later today against the Nashville Predators. The Coyotes lead the series 2-1.
TSN: Edmonton Oilers winger Tyler Ennis is sidelined indefinitely with a suspected leg injury. The Oilers are down 2-1 in their series with the Chicago Blackhawk with Game 4 set for later today.
Montreal Canadiens winger Jakes Evans is doubtful for Game 4 today against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He suffered a suspected upper-body injury in Game 3 on Wednesday. The Canadiens lead the series 2-1.
NHL.COM: Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton has resumed practicing with his teammates after missing their entire qualifying-round series with the New York Rangers. He’s hoping to return to action in their first-round playoff series next week.
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks re-signed defenseman Jacob Larsson to a two-year, $2.4-million contract extension. The annual average value is $1.2 million.
Recaps of Sunday’s games plus updates on Mark Schiefele, Patrik Laine, Tuukka Rask, Dougie Hamilton, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Nazem Kadri scored with a fraction of a second remaining in the game to lift the Colorado Avalanche over the St. Louis Blues 2-1 in round-robin play. Ryan Graves also scored for the Avs while Philipp Grubauer made 31 stops. David Perron tallied the sole Blues’ goal while Jordan Binnington made 36 saves.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Binnington was outstanding in a losing cause for the Blues, especially in the first period when the Avs dominated his teammates. Their play improved as the game went on but the Avs still had better scoring chances.
WITH 0.1 SECONDS LEFT! 😳
— NHL (@NHL) August 3, 2020
Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo made 28 saves to shut out the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-0 in Game 1 of their best-of-five qualifying round series. Cam Atkinson netted the game-winner and Alexander Wennberg got the insurance goal with an empty-netter. Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen turned aside 34 shots.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blue Jackets’ grinding style sucked the life out of the Leafs’ offense. Not that they didn’t get some quality chances but Korpisalo was superb, robbing Auston Matthews in the second period with a flashy glove save.
Jared Spurgeon scored twice and set up the winning goal while Alex Stalock had a 28-save effort as the Minnesota Wild blanked the Vancouver Canucks 3-0 to take Game 1 of their qualifier. Kevin Fiala netted the game-winner with a power-play slapper in their first period.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild’s experience came through in this game. They effectively neutralized the Canucks’ young guns while creating quality scoring chances of their own. Canucks winger Micheal Ferland could get a call by the NHL department of player safety after appearing to spear Ryan Hartman on the Wild bench.
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) August 3, 2020
A three-goal second period powered the Philadelphia Flyers over the Boston Bruins 4-1 in round-robin play. Flyers goalie Carter Hart made 34 saves for his first-ever NHL postseason win. Michael Raffl had a goal and an assist but left the game in the third period with an apparent leg injury. Jaroslav Halak was in net for the Bruins as starter Tuukka Rask was deemed unfit to play. His status for Wednesday’s round-robin game against the Tampa Bay Lightning is uncertain.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers played as though this was a playoff game, while the Bruins seemed to treat it as an exhibition contest. Yes, it’s only a round-robin that determines final seeding for the playoffs, but that doesn’t excuse what seemed like a halfhearted effort by the Bruins.
Arizona Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper kicked out 40 shots in a 4-3 victory over the Nashville Predators. Christian Dvorak had a goal and an assist while Taylor Hall and Phil Kessel each collected two assists. Filip Forsberg scored twice for the Predators. The Coyotes lead the series 1-0.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Check out my take on this game here.
TSN: Sara Orlesky reports a source claims Mark Scheifele’s apparent leg injury isn’t believed to be long-term. The Winnipeg Jets center was hurt during the first period of Game 1 of his club’s qualifier against the Calgary Flames following a collision with Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk. Scheifele left the game in obvious pain and didn’t return. He’s not expected to play in Game 2 tonight.
WINNIPEG SUN: Jets coach Paul Maurice doubled down on his accusation that Tkachuk deliberately injured Scheifele. Maurice also provided no update about the condition of winger Patrik Laine, who also left Game 1 with what appeared to be an injured hand. Per league protocols, the Jets can’t reveal the full details of their injuries.
CALGARY SUN: Flames coach Geoff Ward defended Tkachuk, claiming his winger was trying to finish his check but Scheifele’s sudden shift in direction caught the Flames winger off-balance as they collided into the boards.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is similar to the Matt Cooke incident with Erik Karlsson in 2013. Cooke’s skate blade accidentally sliced Karlsson’s Achilles tendon, but he was accused of purposefully injuring the blueliner.
Like Cooke, Tkachuk has a reputation for cheap shots, which could explain why Maurice felt that hit was a deliberate attempt to injure Scheifele. In this instance, however, I agree with Ward that it was an unfortunate accident.
TSN: Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos remains questionable for today’s round-robin game with the Washington Capitals. He’s still dealing with a lower-body injury suffered during Phase 2 training.
THE NEW & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton remains sidelined with an undisclosed injury. He could be a week or so away from returning to the lineup.
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Blackhawks forward Drake Caggiula received a one-game suspension for an illegal check on Edmonton Oilers winger Tyler Ennis during Game 1 of their qualifying-round series on Saturday.
Exhibition games begin today, there were no positive COVID-19 tests during the final week of training camp, plus the latest on Max Pacioretty, Dougie Hamilton, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Exhibition play for Phase 4 of the return-to-play plan begins today in the hub cities of Edmonton and Toronto. The Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins face off at 4 pm ET, followed by the Toronto Maple Leafs taking on the Montreal Canadiens at 8 pm ET at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. In Edmonton, the Oilers tangle with the Calgary Flames at 10:30 pm ET at Rogers Place.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: These could be the most-watched exhibition games in NHL history. It will provide hockey fans a first glimpse of what the upcoming playoff tournament will look like under bubble conditions without fans.
SPORTSNET: The NHL yesterday announced it received no positive COVID-19 tests from the 4,256 tests among over 800 players during the final week of Phase 3 training camp.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a total of two positive tests during Phase 3. That’s still no assurance a COVID-19 outbreak won’t take place during the playoffs. Nevertheless, it’s a very promising sign as the 24 teams prepare to face off for Phase 4 under stricter quarantine conditions.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Vegas Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty didn’t travel with his teammates to Edmonton for the upcoming playoff tournament. He’s recovering from a minor injury that kept him out of the final week of training camp.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pacioretty is expected to travel to the Edmonton bubble at a later date. He will undergo a brief quarantine requiring four negative COVID-19 tests before he can rejoin his teammates.
THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton missed practice in Toronto yesterday. He’s been listed as unfit to participate. Hamilton hasn’t skated since leaving practice on Wednesday in some discomfort.
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad returned to the ice on Monday after missing the last three practice sessions. He’ll be held out of Wednesday’s exhibition game against the Tampa Bay Lightning for precautionary reasons.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins winger Ondrej Kase didn’t travel with his teammates to Toronto on Sunday and there’s no indication when he’ll rejoin the club. He missed all of the Bruins’ training camp and remains listed as unfit to play.
NHL.COM: Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel, Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price, and Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby are among the 31 nominees for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy. The award honors “the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution to his community.”
NEW YORK POST: The son of former NHL defenseman Barry Beck was fatally stabbed over the weekend in Binbrook, Ontario. Brock Beck, 20, was pronounced dead in hospital following a confrontation with unidentified suspects.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to the Beck family. Here’s hoping the suspects are quickly captured and feel the full penalty of the law.