NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 28, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 28, 2018

Jets down the Predators, Hart Trophy finalists announced, Evander Kane suspended. Details and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Connor Hellebuyck made 47 saves backstopping the Winnipeg Jets to a 4-1 victory over the Nashville Predators in Game 1 of their second-round series. Mark Scheifele scored twice and Blake Wheeler collected two assists.

Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck backstopped his club to a Game 1 victory over the Nashville Predators (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hellebuyck flat-out stole this game for the Jets, who were outplayed and outshot by the Predators. They’ll need a better overall effort in Game 2. 

New Jersey Devils left wing Taylor Hall, Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar and Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon are this year’s finalists for the Hart Memorial Trophy.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This should also bring an end to weeks of tedious debate over whether Edmonton Oilers star (and 2017 Hart winner) Connor McDavid should be a nominee. If you’re among those who believe he should’ve, don’t worry, he’ll likely be a frequent finalist (and winner) in the coming years. Now you can turn your focus toward more important matters, like what the Oilers intend to do to surround McDavid with the talent needed to turn the Oilers into a Stanley Cup contender. 

San Jose Sharks left wing Evander Kane received a one-game suspension for cross-checking Vegas Golden Knights forward Pierre-Marc Bellemare in Game 1 of their second-round series.

The 2018 NHL Draft Lottery will be held tonight in Toronto starting at 7:30 pm ET. The Buffalo Sabres have the best chance of winning this year’s lottery, with an 18.5 percent chance.

CALGARY SUN: Brian Burke is stepping down as president of hockey operations for the Calgary Flames.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Now Burke has time to devote to more important matters, like relearning how neckties work and taming his Sonic the Hedgehog hairstyle. 

Speaking of the Flames, former NHL linesman Don Henderson has been ordered to pay $11,000.00 for costs in his unsuccessful lawsuit against former Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman and the team.

USA TODAY: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand denied reports claiming the Bruins forward was asked by the league to stop licking players.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This has to be the silliest headline I’ve read this week. 

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews and head coach Mike Babcock denied a report claiming a rift had emerged between the two during their opening-round series against the Bruins.

Todd McLellan will return next season as head coach of the Edmonton Oilers. Assistant coaches Ian Herbers and Jim Johnson were relieved of their duties. 

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres forward Jacob Josefson signed a four-year deal with Djurgarden of the Swedish Elite League.

CANES COUNTRY: Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Klas Dahlbeck is set to sign with KHL team CSKA Moscow.


Why Brad Marchand Should Be a Hart Trophy Candidate

Why Brad Marchand Should Be a Hart Trophy Candidate

Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand is garnering praise for his outstanding play this season.

The recent scoring surge by Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand has him challenging for the lead in this season’s NHL goals and points race. That’s also generated some talk suggesting the 28-year-old could be a candidate for the Hart Memorial Trophy as the most valuable player to his team.

Until a couple of months ago, Marchand as a Hart Trophy candidate would’ve seem a far-fetched notion. It took his recent rise in the scoring race to get some pundits to take notice of his play.

As of March 18, Marchand led the Bruins in goals (37), assists (42) and points (79). He also led them in shorthanded points (five) and shooting percentage (17.8) and was tied with Patrice Bergeron for the lead in game-winning goals (seven).

Marchand’s also in a three-way tie with David Pastrnak and Torey Krug for the team lead in power-play points (21) and with Dominic Moore for the lead in shorthanded goals (three). He’s second in power-play goals (eight) and third in shots (208).

The recent surge in the scoring race by Marchand shouldn’t be surprising. He’s been among the league leaders in goals and points for most of this season, putting him in position to challenge for the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s leading scorer and the Richard Trophy as the top goal scorer.

In recent days, columnists from The Boston Globe, Boston Herald, CSNNE.com and NESN made the case for Marchand to receive consideration for the Hart Trophy. While unsurprising that Boston-area columnists would sing his praises, they were also joined by TSN’s Bob McKenzie and Frank Seravalli, The Hockey News’ Jared Clinton and Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski.

Despite Marchand’s impressive numbers, most observers acknowledge he faces an uphill battle for the Hart. He’ll be going up against Pittsburgh Penguins captain and two-time Hart winner Sidney Crosby, as well as Crosby’s teammate and former Hart winner Evgeni Malkin, Chicago Blackhawks right wing (and 2016 Hart winner) Patrick Kane, young Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid and San Jose Sharks’ defenseman Brent Burns.

Marchand’s reputation as a dirty player could also hurt his chances. On January 26, he received a $10,000 fine for what the NHL Department of Player Safety labelled a dangerous trip on Detroit Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall. Given his lengthy history of suspensions (four infractions totaling 12 games) and three previous fines in his NHL career, it’s surprising he didn’t miss more time.

Those prior transgressions could work against Marchand when the Professional Hockey Writers Association casts their votes for the Hart later this spring. Even if he goes on to win the Art Ross and Richard trophies, some pundits probably won’t bring themselves to vote for the Bruins’ pest.

NHL fans have no say in the voting. However, some will undoubtedly consider it a disgrace that a player with a checkered history such as Marchand should even merit consideration for the Hart.

Despite the competition and his reputation, few players were as valuable to his team this season as Marchand to the Bruins.

I made the case back on February 4, when I named Marchand as my dark-horse candidate for the Hart.

It’s been a roller coaster season for the Bruins. There were a couple of points where they teetered on the brink of falling out of playoff contention. They also underwent a mid-season coaching change. While holding a playoff berth today, only four points separates the Bruins from the ninth overall New York Islanders in the Eastern Conference. A late losing skid or a strong surge by the Isles and the eighth overall Toronto Maple Leafs could still knock them down the standings. 

Through it all, Marchand’s been their one constant this season. While Bergeron, David Krejci, David Backes and Ryan Spooner struggled at times offensively, he was consistently their leading scorer and best player by a wide margin. Without him, the Bruins probably wouldn’t be holding a postseason spot right now

Regardless of reputation, Marchand is worthy of serious consideration for the Hart Trophy.