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


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.


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 – April 13, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 13, 2020

The latest on Mathew Barzal, Islanders goalie prospect Ilya Sorokin may be leaving the KHL, the Rangers aren’t in any rush to name a captain, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: In a recent interview with Brian Compton, Mathew Barzal said he hasn’t had contract talks with the New York Islanders since the season was paused a month ago. The 22-year-old center is completing his entry-level contract. He remains confident of re-signing with the Isles. He also believes the season will resume at some point.

Mathew Barzal remains confident of signing a new contract with the New York Islanders (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was some speculation suggesting Barzal could be an offer-sheet target in the off-season. General manager Lou Lamoriello indicated he’ll match any offer for his leading scorer. Judging by Barzal’s comments, he doesn’t seem receptive to signing with another club.

NEWSDAY: Speaking of the Islanders, goalie prospect Ilya Sorokin might soon be joining the club. He’s reportedly decided not to re-sign with the KHL’s CSKA Moscow and is expected to sign with the Isles when his current KHL contract expires on April 30.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sorokin,24, is considered the KHL’s best goaltender. It’s anticipated he’ll become the Isles’ future starter.

THE SCORE: New York Rangers president John Davidson said management isn’t in a rush to name a team captain. That role has been vacant since the Rangers traded former captain Ryan McDonagh to the Tampa Bay Lightning two years ago.

Davidson believes you don’t name a captain just for the sake of doing so. “It’s an important question, but that can’t sway us into pushing us into something that we don’t feel is right as far as the timing goes,” he said. “That’s not a slight on anybody, believe me, but we’ll get to it and hopefully, it’ll work itself out.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe management should allow the players to select their captain. They’re the ones who know who the leaders are in the room. Hold a secret ballot. If it ends in a tie, the head coach makes the selection.

STLTODAY.COM: St. Louis Blues prospect defenseman Scott Perunovich of the University of Minnesota-Duluth is the 2020 winner of the Hobey Baker Award honoring the United States’ best college player.

PHILLY.COM: Phyllis Foreman, sister of the late Philadelphia Flyers’ owner Ed Snider, passed away at age 92. She created the club’s nickname and helped to design their logo.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to the family and the Flyers’ organization.


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 3, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 3, 2020

NHL players could forego their final paychecks, the latest on Dustin Byfuglien, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TSN: Frank Seravalli reports one of the options for the players to deal with the impact of the coronavirus upon the NHL is foregoing their final paychecks of the season. The gross amount is around $140 million, which is due on April 15. Player reps are canvassing their individual teams to determine what they want to do. They could also take only part of their paychecks, or take the entire payment and put it toward the escrow fund. A decision is required by April 7.

A decision on Dustin Byfuglien’s future with the Winnipeg Jets could be coming soon (Photo via NHL Images).

Darren Dreger reports the NHL has scheduled discussions with the Winnipeg Jets soon regarding their plans for Dustin Byfuglien. The NHLPA, the league, the team, and Byfuglien are all aligned toward a contract termination. It hasn’t been executed yet because of the current situation and the Jets aren’t in a position to announce it. Dreger expects details to be ironed out soon.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Byfuglien has probably played his final game with the Jets. He missed this season with an ankle injury that resulted in a disagreement with Jets management over the severity and treatment of the injury.

Whether Byfuglien continues his NHL career as an unrestricted free agent or retires remains to be seen. He has one year remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $7.6 million. A mutual agreement to terminate his contract will free up that cap space for the Jets.

Bob McKenzie reports several clubs have not yet taken their annual team photograph. They include the Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames and Ottawa Senators. The season could end without a commemorative photo for those clubs, though some could use Photoshop to include pictures of players who depart in the off-season.

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston, with an assist from Cap Friendly, listed 10 critical unanswered questions raised by the current NHL hiatus. Sorting out the salary cap, performance bonuses, trades with conditions or clauses, the draft lottery, and expiring contracts are among the issues facing the teams and players.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s an interesting list that provides considerable food for thought. Much will depend on whether the league resumes the remainder of the regular-season schedule, jumps directly to the playoffs, or cancels the entire season. Once they know for certain how this will end, they’ll begin to address those issues.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson praised the work of interim head coach Bob Boughner and his staff. Wilson admits Boughner has the upper hand to remains the Sharks’ bench boss.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Wilson truly feels that way, why not just say Boughner will return next season as head coach? Maybe he’s keeping his options open if a better coach becomes available this summer.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators announced temporary layoffs and several staff members were placed on furlough because of the COVID-19 crisis. Meanwhile, the club is hopeful no more members of their team test positive for the illness. Five unnamed players, a staff member, and broadcaster Gord Wilson tested positive for COVID-19.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Anaheim Ducks owners Henry and Susan Samueli will continue to pay 2,100 part-time employees through June 30.

NEWSDAY: The New York Islanders players pooled funds to donate 3,500 N95 masks to Northwell Health.

University of North Dakota forward Jordan Kawaguchi, University of Minnesota Duluth defenseman Scott Perunovich, and University of Maine goaltender Jeremy Swayman are the three finalists for the 2020 Hobey Baker Award.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 19, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 19, 2020

The league continues evaluating its options to resume the season while looking ahead at 2020-21, plus the latest on Alexander Radulov, Sidney Crosby and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the league continues to entertain all options regarding the resumption of the 2019-20 season. “In terms of where we go from here, we’re modeling all sorts of options and everything is on the table,” he said. “But we’re going to have to be flexible and react to things that are beyond our control.

Bettman hopes the Ottawa Senators player who tested positive for COVID-19 makes a swift recovery. He also said the league is taking steps to ensure all its employees are safe and taken care of during this crisis. Bettman indicated he’s been in constant contact with businesses, other hockey leagues and sports leagues.

NBC SPORTS: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said playing a full 82-games schedule in 2020-21 is the league’s priority. Whatever steps are taken to resume this season must not adversely affect its ability to stage a full ’20-’21 campaign.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If maintaining the remainder of the current schedule creates risk for 2020-21, I believe they’ll either cancel the rest of the regular season in favor of staging the 2020 playoffs. If that isn’t feasible, they’ll have to scrap the entire thing and focus on staging a full ’20-’21 campaign.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks say none of their players have shown COVID-19 symptoms at this time. They’ll continue monitoring their players through the league’s self-quarantine period through March 27. An Ottawa Senators player tested positive for the virus after coming down with symptoms following his return from the club’s recent California road trip.

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche may have been exposed to the coronavirus during a recent road game against the San Jose Sharks. Santa Clara County, where the Sharks play their home games, was a coronavirus hot spot at the time.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars winger Alexander Radulov tested negative for COVID-19. Radulov was ill for six days before the league pausing its schedule a week ago, missing two games.

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby has cancelled his summer hockey school over coronavirus concerns (Photo via NHL Images).

 TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby canceled his summer hockey school in Cole Harbour, NS as a result of the current pandemic.

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Speaking of the Penguins, general manager Jim Rutherford and team president and CEO David Morehouse will take voluntary pay cuts to ensure other members of the Penguins staff won’t be financially affected by the pandemic.

SPORTSNET: The Montreal Canadiens recently donated 13,000 pounds to a local food bank. The food was originally slated to be used during the remainder of the club’s home games in March.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Bruins are the only NHL team yet to announce how they’ll take care of their employees during this pandemic. A group of concerned Bruins players is running a GoFundMe page soliciting donations to help TD Garden employees. The club last week released a statement indicating they intend to reveal further information about helping those employees, citing the sheer size of their parent company Delaware North as one of the challenges.

THE SCORE: Seattle’s NHL expansion franchise has pushed back its March 31 plan to unveil its team nickname.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: CHL leagues canceled the remainder of their regular-season schedules.

NBC SPORTS: The USHL and NAHL canceled its seasons.

ESPN.COM: The cancellations of all NCAA winter and spring championships robbed Cornell University of a shot at a rare double national championship. Their men’s and women’s teams are both ranked No. 1 in the country.

BARDOWN: Former NHL enforcer Tie Domi ripped into Hockey Hall of Famer Scott Stevens, calling the former New Jersey Devils defenseman “the biggest phony” he ever played against.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: What do you think, folks? Is Domi right? Or is it merely a case of sour grapes? Feel free to weigh in via the comments section below.

NBC SPORTS: The 10 finalists for the 2020 Hobey Baker Award have been revealed:

Morgan Barron, Jr., F, Cornell
Jason Cotton, Sr., F, Sacred Heart
Jack Dugan, So., F, Providence
David Farrance, Jr., D, Boston University
Jordan Kawaguchi, Jr., F, North Dakota
John Leonard, Jr., F, Massachusetts
Dryden McKay, So., G, Minnesota State
Marc Michaelis, Sr., F, Minnesota State
Scott Perunovich, Jr., D, Minnesota Duluth
Jeremy Swayman, Jr., G, Maine

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 13, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 13, 2019

Blue Jackets, Islanders and Blues take 2-0 series leads, Golden Knights tie their series with Sharks, plus the latest on Connor McDavid, Todd McLellan, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: The Columbus Blue Jackets took a 2-0 lead in their opening-round series with the Tampa Bay Lightning with a convincing 5-1 Game 2 victory. Matt Duchene had a goal and three assists, Artemi Panarin collected two points, and Zach Werenski had a Gordie Howe hat trick with a goal, an assist, and a five-minute fighting major after scrapping with the Lightning’s Brayden Point. Tampa Bay right wing Nikita Kucherov will have a hearing today with the NHL’s department of player discipline for boarding Columbus defenseman Markus Nutivaara late in the game. 

Columbus Blue Jackets center Matt Duchene had a four-point performance in a 5-1 Game 2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After blowing a three-goal lead to fall 4-3 in Game 1, the consensus was the Bolts let that game get away from them. They cannot use that excuse for Game 2, as they were outworked and out-hustled by a motivated Blue Jackets club riding a big shot of confidence from their come-from-behind victory in the previous contest.

As the game went on, the Lightning lost their composure, resulting in Kucherov’s ill-disciplined antics late in the third when the game was out of reach. With the series shifting to Columbus for Games 3 and 4, the Blue Jackets are riding high while the Bolts are struggling to cope with real adversity for the first time this season. 

Third-period goals by Jordan Eberle and Josh Bailey lifted the New York Islanders to a 3-1 Game 2 victory and a 2-0 series lead over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Robin Lehner made 32 saves for the Isles while Eberle and Mathew Barzal each had two-point performances.  Erik Gudbranson scored for the Penguins. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A thoroughly entertaining and hard-fought playoff game that could’ve gone either way until Eberle broke the tie and Bailey put it out of reach. This is the first time since the 1983 Stanley Cup playoffs that the Islanders have taken a 2-0 lead in a playoff series. This year’s version has served notice to the veteran-laden Penguins as the series moves to Pittsburgh for the next two games that they’re a hungry bunch not satisfied with exceeding expectations during the regular season. 

Ryan O’Reilly scored the only goal in the third period as the St. Louis Blues edged the Winnipeg Jets 4-3 to take a 2-0 lead in their opening-round series. Oskar Sundqvist scored twice for the Blues while Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler and Patrik Laine tallied for the Jets. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both clubs were sloppy defensively but the Blues made the most of it. Jets goalie Connor Hellebucyk was not at his best in this one. Neither was Blues rookie netminder Jordan Binnington but he didn’t need to be as his teammates bailed him out.

Special teams made the difference for the Vegas Golden Knights in their 5-3 series-tying victory in Game 2 of their matchup with the San Jose Sharks. Colin Miller and William Karlsson tallied shorthanded goals and Mark Stone scored on the power play. The Sharks believed the game turned when Logan Couture’s apparent go-ahead goal in the second period with the score tied at three was waved off for goaltender interference. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sharks coach Pete DeBoer didn’t believe the call was goalie interference because Sharks goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was outside his crease and it wasn’t Couture’s intent to interfere with Fleury. Regardless, the call stood, the Golden Knights went on to win the game and the series is tied heading to Las Vegas for Games 3 and 4. 

SPORTSNET: The Edmonton Oilers sought second and third opinions regarding Connor McDavid’s leg injury while they formulate a recovery plan for their captain. While x-rays revealed McDavid didn’t suffer any broken bones, the exact nature of the injury remains publicly unknown. 

TSN/LOS ANGELES TIMES: Former Oilers coach Todd McLellan is no longer considered a candidate for the Buffalo Sabres’ head-coaching position. McLellan remains the leading contender to become coach of the Los Angeles Kings. 

WGR 550: Former Oilers coach Ralph Krueger could become a candidate for the Sabres’ job. 

NBC SPORTS: Center David Backes is expected to rejoin the Boston Bruins lineup tonight after being a healthy scratch from Game 1 of their series against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk skipped practice yesterday for a maintenance day after being shaken up in Game 1. 

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche prospect defenseman Cale Makar is the winner of the 2019 Hobey Baker Award. 

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 5, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 5, 2019

Game recaps, Hurricanes, Avalanche, and Penguins clinch playoff berths, Capitals win fourth straight division title, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning tied an NHL record with their 61st win of the season by beating the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1. League scoring leader Nikita Kucherov tallied his 40th goal of the season. Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner returned to the lineup after being sidelined since Feb. 25 by a back injury. 

For the first time since 2009, the Carolina Hurricanes (97 points) are heading to the Stanley Cup playoffs. They clinched a berth by defeating the New Jersey Devils 3-1. The Hurricanes currently hold a three-point lead over the Columbus Blue Jackets for the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Erik Johnson’s overtime goal propelled the Colorado Avalanche to a 3-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets, clinching the final playoff berth in the Western Conference. The loss dropped the slumping Jets (97 points) into second place in the Central Division.

Derek Stepan scored twice and Darcy Kuemper made 37 saves as the Arizona Coyotes downed the Vegas Golden Knights 4-1. Unfortunately for the Coyotes, they were eliminated from playoff contention by the Avalanche’s win over the Jets. Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury returned to action after missing nine games with a lower-body injury. Earlier in the day, Vegas defenseman Colin Miller was fined $2,000.00 for diving/embellishment during a March 30 game against San Jose. 

Pittsburgh Penguins winger Phil Kessel scored two goals as his club clinched a playoff spot with a 4-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings (Photo via NHL Images)

The Washington Capitals (104 points) won the Metropolitan Division title for the fourth straight year with a 2-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens. The loss puts the Canadiens (94 points) playoff hopes in jeopardy, as they could be eliminated tonight if the Columbus Blue Jackets defeat the New York Rangers. 

Phil Kessel scored twice to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a 4-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. With the win, the Penguins (99 points) clinched a playoff berth for the 13th consecutive season. 

Brock Nelson scored the only goal in a shootout as the New York Islanders edged the Florida Panthers 2-1. The Isles (101 points) reached the 100-point plateau for the first time since 2015-16 and secured second place in the Metropolitan Division. 

Overcoming a 2-0 deficit, the Nashville Predators went on to defeat the Vancouver Canucks 3-2. The Predators (99 points) took over first place in the Central Division. 

The St. Louis Blues (97 points) moved into a tie with the Jets for second place in the Central by thumping the Philadelphia Flyers 7-3. Alex Steen had two goals and an assist as the two clubs combined for eight goals in the first period. 

Gustav Nyquist’s goal late in the third period lifted the San Jose Sharks to a 3-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers. Leon Drasaitl tallied his 48th and 49th goals of the season while Sharks center Joe Thornton moved into eighth place on the all-time assist leaders list with his 1,064th helper.

Jaroslav Halak turned in a 26-save shutout as the Boston Bruins rolled to a 3-0 victory over the Minnesota Wild. 

The Buffalo Sabres snapped an eight-game losing skid by downing the Ottawa Senators 5-2. Jack Eichel had a goal and two assists.

Harvard University defenseman Adam Fox, UMass blueliner Cale Makar, and St. Cloud State University rearguard Jimmy Schuldt are the 2019 Hobey Baker Award nominees. Fox’s NHL rights belong to the Carolina Hurricanes, Makar’s with the Colorado Avalanche, and Schuldt with the Vegas Golden Knights.