What Next For the Philadelphia Flyers?
The Penguins and Capitals clinch playoff berths, Ryan Miller to retire at season’s end, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals both clinched playoff berths as the Penguins edged the Capitals 5-4 on an overtime goal by Jake Guentzel. Kasperi Kapanen scored twice for the Penguins while Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom collected three assists. Both clubs are tied with 69 points but the Capitals hold first place in the MassMutual East Division with a game in hand. Capitals defenseman John Carlson was a late scratch and is day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
A 25-save shutout by Semyon Varlamov gave the New York Islanders a 4-0 win over the New York Rangers. It was the Isles’ fourth win in their last 10 games, leaving them four points behind the Capitals and Penguins. Rangers defenseman Ryan Lindgren left the game in the third period with an upper-body injury. Earlier in the day, the league fined Islanders center Mathew Barzal $2,000.00 for embellishment during an April 22 game against the Capitals.
Third-period goals by Charlie Coyle, Taylor Hall and Brad Marchand lifted the Boston Bruins to a 5-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. With 64 points, the fourth-place Bruins sit one point back of the Islanders while opening a six-point lead over the Rangers.
Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen each had two points to give the Carolina Hurricanes a 3-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Jakub Vrana replied for the Red Wings. The Hurricanes sit in first place in the Discover Central Division with 73 points.
An overtime goal by Sam Bennett gave the Florida Panthers a 4-3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Florida rookie goalie Spencer Knight picked up his third win in as many games. The Panthers sit two points behind the Hurricanes.
Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy picked up his 30th win of the season by shutting out the Dallas Stars 3-0. Ondrej Palat, Blake Coleman and Brayden Points were the goal scorers. The Lightning (70 points) sit one point behind the second-place Panthers. The Stars (54 points) remain two behind the fourth-place Nashville Predators.
St. Louis Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly scored twice, including the winner in overtime, as his club nipped the Minnesota Wild 5-4. Kevin Fiala had a three-point game for the Wild as they rallied from a 4-2 deficit to force the extra period. The Blues (52 points) have won four straight games to open a five-point lead over the Arizona Coyotes for fourth place in the Honda West Division. The Wild are in third place with 66 points. Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko missed the game with a lower-body injury.
Auston Matthews tallied his 36th goal of the season as the Toronto Maple Leafs downed the Vancouver Canucks 4-1. Mitch Marner had a goal and an assist for the Leafs, who sit atop the Scotia North Division with 69 points. The Canucks have dropped four of their last five games. Earlier in the day, the Leafs placed defenseman Zach Bogosian (shoulder) on long-term injury reserve.
The Calgary Flames kept their slim playoff hopes alive with a 3-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers. Elias Lindholm scored twice for the Flames (47 points), who’ve won four of their last five contests and sit four points behind the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens. The Oilers are in second place with 60 points.
A two-goal performance by Yegor Sherangovich powered the New Jersey Devils over the Philadelphia Flyers 5-3, eliminating the latter from playoff contention. Earlier in the day, the Flyers announced goaltender Carter Hart will miss the rest of the season with a sprained MCL in his left knee.
IN OTHER NEWS…
LOS ANGELES TIMES: Anaheim Ducks goaltender Ryan Miller has announced his retirement at the end of this season. He’s spent 18 seasons in the NHL with the Buffalo Sabres, St. Louis Blues, Vancouver Canucks and the Ducks. Miller spent nearly 11 seasons with the Sabres, winning the Vezina Trophy in 2009-10. He leads all American-born NHL goalies with 390 wins and sits second with 44 shutouts and 794 games played. He’s 14th on the all-time wins list.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Miller was in his prime during his years with the Sabres, backstopping them to back-to-back Eastern Conference Finals in 2006 and 2007. He was also named MVP of the 2010 Winter Olympics as Team USA won the silver medal in Men’s Hockey. Best wishes to Miller and his family in their future endeavors.
TSN: The NHL is expected to reach a decision between June 1-5 as to where the winner of the Scotia North Division will play its home games. Discussions between the league and the Canadian federal government are ongoing.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The ongoing closure of the Canada-US border to non-essential travel and traffic could mean whoever comes out of the North Division will have to play all their remaining playoff games in the United States. That means the league will have to find a suitable venue to host the Canadian team.
THE AHL: announced the Calder Cup won’t be awarded this season. Instead, the Pacific Division will hold a tournament to decide its division champion. The first-place teams in the other four divisions will be named division champions.
CALGARY SUN: Original Flames co-owner Byron J. Seaman passed away last weekend at age 97. He was among the ownership group that moved the Flames to Calgary from Atlanta in 1980 and held a stake in the franchise for the next three decades.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Seaman’s family, friends and the Flames organization.
The Golden Knights become the first team to clinch a playoff berth, Patrick Marleau reaches another milestone for games played, plus the latest on Jonathan Toews, Conor Garland and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Vegas Golden Knights became the first team to clinch a berth in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs by downing the San Jose Sharks 5-2. Jonathan Marchessault led the way with two goals and two assists for the Golden Knights, who sit atop the Honda West Division and the overall standings with 68 points. San Jose forward Patrick Marleau reached another milestone, playing in his 900th consecutive NHL game. The Sharks (41 points) remain four points back of the fourth-place Arizona Coyotes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marleau recently broke Gordie Howe’s NHL record for most games played with 1,768. His Ironman streak is also impressive, becoming just the fourth player in league history to play 900 consecutive games. The leader is Doug Jarvis (964), followed by Garry Unger (914) and Florida Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle (913), with the latter poised to tie Unger in tonight’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Speaking of the Coyotes, they dropped a 4-1 decision to the Minnesota Wild. Kirill Kaprizov set the Wild record for most goals by a rookie with 19 while Cam Talbot kicked out 39 shots for the win. With 61 points, the Wild sits three points behind the second-place Colorado Avalanche. Coyotes winger Conor Garland missed the game following a lower-body injury suffered in practice earlier in the day.
Montreal Canadiens winger Josh Anderson scored twice as his club held off the Edmonton Oilers 4-3. Edmonton captain Connor McDavid had a goal and two assists as the Oilers (56 points) sit one point behind the second-place Winnipeg Jets in the Scotia North Division. The Canadiens, meanwhile, sit fourth with 49 points, opening an eight-point lead over the Calgary Flames. Oilers winger Zack Kassian left the game in the first period with a lower-body injury.
The Chicago Blackhawks overcame a 4-1 deficit to drop the Nashville Predators 5-4 on an overtime goal by Brandon Hagel, who also collected two assists. The Predators sit in fourth place in the Discover Central Division with 52 points while the Blackhawks sit three back in sixth.
The NHL extended the West Division schedule to May 13 to accommodate postponed games involving the Avalanche.
TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the NHL hopes to start the 2021-22 season on Oct. 12, which is one week later than in a normal year. Training camps would open on Sept. 22 if there are no COVID-related delays.
The league cannot say for certain when the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs will begin due to the in-season delays some teams have dealt with this season.
The NHL still intends to participate in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics provided an agreement is reached with the International Ice Hockey Federation and the International Olympic Committee.
The 2021 NHL Draft (July 23-24) will be held virtually for the second straight year.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That means it’ll probably take over seven hours again to complete the second day of the draft unless the league sets a more rigid timetable for each team to make their selections.
LAS VEGAS SUN: Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner accused the NHL of lying to the players regarding its policies on COVID-19 restrictions and vaccinations. He claimed the league told them restrictions would ease if a certain threshold of vaccinations were achieved.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly denied Lehner’s claim, saying loosened restrictions were previously discussed internally and with the NHL Players Association but no decision was reached or communicated to the players.
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews is likely done for the remainder of this season as he continues to battle an illness that’s left him drained and lethargic. However, his health is improving and he’s expected to return next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Toews as he continues his recovery.
CBS SPORTS: Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart will miss his club’s next two games due to a knee sprain.
TSN: A settlement in principle has been reached between the NHL and Kelli Ewen, widow of former player Todd Ewen, over the wrongful death lawsuit she filed against the league in 2019. The suit alleges Todd’s suicide in 2015 was linked to the league allegedly downplaying the potential long-term effects of repeated head trauma and profiting from a culture of on-ice violence.
Recaps of Tuesday’s action, the NHL is reportedly returning to ESPN, plus updates on Jack Eichel, Roman Josi, Nathan MacKinnon, Elias Pettersson and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Sidney Crosby had a goal and an assist and Tristan Jarry made 33 saves as the Pittsburgh Penguins doubled up the New York Rangers 4-2. Before the game, the Penguins announced forward Jared McCann was listed as day-to-day with an undisclosed injury. With 31 points, the Pens move one point ahead of the Boston Bruins into third place in the MassMutual East Division.
New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz picked up a win in his 1,700th career NHL game as his club edged the Bruins 2-1 on a shootout goal by Anthony Beauvillier. Semyon Varlamov made 32 saves and Brock Nelson scored in regulation as the Isles (36 points) got their sixth straight victory to maintain a two-point lead over the second-place Washington Capitals in the East Division. Bruins winger David Pastrnak tallied his 11th goal of the season while struggling teammate Jake DeBrusk was a healthy scratch.
Shootout goals by Sean Couturier and Nolan Patrick lifted the Philadelphia Flyers over the Buffalo Sabres 5-4, extending the latter’s winless skid to eight straight games. The Flyers overcame a 4-2 deficit on third-period goals by Claude Giroux and Shayne Gostisbehere. Their comeback began after they pulled starter Carter Hart in favor of backup Brian Elliott. They’re one point behind the fourth-place Bruins. Earlier in the day, the Sabres announced captain Jack Eichel is out at least a week with an upper-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hart gave up three goals on eight shots in the first period. It was the third time this season they’ve pulled the struggling 22-year-old goalie from a game. He is 6-5-3 in 15 starts this season with a bloated 3.61 goals-against average.
The Washington Capitals blew a 4-1 lead over the New Jersey Devils but emerged with a 5-4 victory following an overtime goal by Jakub Vrana, who finished the game with two goals. Capitals forwards Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov each collected two assists while Devils center Travis Zajac picked up three helpers.
Jordan Staal scored twice, including the winner in overtime, as the Carolina Hurricanes nipped the Nashville Predators 3-2. Sebastian Aho scored and collected an assist for the Hurricanes (37 points), who sit one back of the first-place Tampa Bay Lightning in the Discover Central Division. Predators captain Roman Josi missed the game as he’s listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators were already missing blueliner Ryan Ellis, who’s also week-to-week with an upper-body injury. Losing their two best defensemen within a week of each other could be the death blow to the Preds’ fading playoff hopes.
Florida Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky kicked out 38 shots as his club doubled up the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2, handing the latter their seventh loss in their last nine contests. With 36 points, the Panthers sit one point behind the second-place Hurricanes in the Central Division while the Jackets (25 points) are six points behind the fourth-place Chicago Blackhawks.
Connor Hellebuyck made 36 saves as the Winnipeg Jets held off the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3, handing the Leafs their third straight defeat. Jets defenseman Neal Pionk picked up three assists. Leafs center Auston Matthews snapped a five-game scoreless drought by tallying twice to become the first player to reach 20 goals this season. Jets defenseman Nathan Beaulieu left the game with an upper-body injury. With 33 points, the Jets are five points behind the first-place Leafs in the Scotia North Division.
An overtime goal by Blake Coleman gave the Lightning a 4-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Coleman and Tyler Johnson each had a goal and an assist as the Lightning (38 points) maintain a one-point lead for first place in the Central Division.
The Dallas Stars spoiled Blackhawks’ winger Patrick Kane’s 1000th career NHL game with a lopsided 6-1 victory. Stars winger Jason Robertson collected a career-high four assists while captain Jamie Benn picked up his 700th career point. The Stars, however, are 10 points behind the fourth-place Blackhawks.
SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports sources claimed the NHL and ESPN have reached an agreement on a seven-year to become one of the league’s media partners starting next season. It’s expected ESPN would split the package with another media company, getting exclusive rights to broadcast four Stanley Cup Finals between 2022 and 2028 plus streaming rights for Disney.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: ESPN hasn’t aired live NHL games since 2004 so this is a big deal for the league. The current contract with NBC pays $200 million per year so we can expect the new US broadcasting deal will be worth considerably more. This is also an indication of how much the NHL product has grown and improved in the American sports market over the past decade.
THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon is expected to return to action tonight against the Arizona Coyotes after missing the Avs’ last three games with a head injury.
THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson is expected to miss at least another week with an upper-body injury. His last game was March 2 against the Jets.
ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes placed goaltender Darcy Kuemper on injured reserve with an undisclosed injury. He’s returning to Arizona for further evaluation after getting hurt during Monday’s game against the Avalanche.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Connor Murphy faced no supplemental discipline for his hit to the head of Lightning blueliner Erik Cernak, who returned to action last night against Detroit.
TSN: Only three players – Edmonton’s Kyle Turris, Nashville’s Erik Haula and San Jose’s Marcus Sorensen – are on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list.
Recaps of Sunday’s action featuring a hat trick for Bruins winger David Pastrnak plus injury updates and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: David Pastrnak tallied a hat trick to lead the Boston Bruins to a 7-3 romp over the Philadelphia Flyers in the Honda NHL Outdoors Sunday at Lake Tahoe. It was Pastrnak’s second hat trick of the season and the 10th of his career. James van Riemsdyk had a goal and two assists for the Flyers, who pulled goaltender Carter Hart after the second period. Bruins defenseman Jeremy Lauzon left the game early in the first period with an undisclosed injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Any lingering concerns over the effects of offseason hip surgery on Pastrnak’s performance must be alleviated by now. He’s picking up where he left off last season and climbing up the NHL stat board. Hart, meanwhile, appeared to have trouble tracking the puck in the outdoor environment.
Winnipeg Jets forward Pierre-Luc Dubois scored twice, including the winner in overtime, in a 4-3 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Dubois also added an assist in his first game since being sidelined by a muscle injury 10 days ago. Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele also each collected three points. Elias Pettersson scored twice for the Canucks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets moved Dubois to left wing on the top line alongside Wheeler and Scheifele while moving Kyle Connor down to the second line. It’ll be interesting to see if that becomes a permanent change.
The Washington Capitals got two power-play goals from T.J. Oshie and another from Alex Ovechkin to hold off the New Jersey Devils 4-3. Kyle Palmieri and Andreas Johnsson each had two points for the Devils.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin now has 712 career NHL goals, putting him five back of Phil Esposito for sixth on the all-time goalscoring list.
Brady Tkachuk’s overtime goal lifted the Ottawa Senators over the Montreal Canadiens 3-2. Senators’ goalie Matt Murray made 30 saves for the win while Habs netminder Jake Allen made 36 stops. Montreal winger Jonathan Drouin left the game in the first period with an undisclosed injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens were lucky to escape with a point as they were outplayed by the lowly Senators. The Habs bolted from the gate this season with a 7-1-2 record, leading the league in scoring and jockeying with the Toronto Maple Leafs for first place in the overall standings. They have since dropped five of their last seven games, managing just 13 goals during that stretch and slipping to fourth in the North Division.
WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres winger Jeff Skinner could become a healthy scratch in their upcoming game against the New York Islanders. He’s hasn’t scored a goal in 14 games this season.
THE ATHLETIC: John Vogl reports there’s concern Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe may have suffered a season-ending knee injury on Saturday. The results of his examination are expected today and a source said they’re bracing for ligament damage.
TSN: Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins suffered an upper-body injury during Saturday’s game against the Nashville Predators. He’s listed as week-to-week.
THE ATHLETIC: Multiple sources tell Jeremy Rutherford St. Louis Blues defenseman Colton Parayko has a back injury. It’s not known if he’ll require surgery. The club intends to rest him for now and see how he responds.
OILERS NATION: Edmonton Oilers defenseman Slater Koekkoek suffered a broken collarbone during the club’s 7-1 win on Saturday over the Calgary Flames.
NHL.COM: The Department of Player Safety fined Los Angeles Kings defenseman Austin Strand over $3,100.00 for cross-checking Arizona Coyotes forward Conor Garland on Saturday.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Anaheim Ducks have recalled top prospect Trevor Zegras from their AHL affiliate in San Diego. The young prospect had nine points in eight games in the AHL.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zegras was the MVP of the 2021 World Junior Championship as he led Team USA to a gold medal in the tournament. The Ducks hope the youngster will provide a boost to an anemic offense with a league-worst 1.83 goals per game average.