NHL Playoffs: These 10 Players Are Shining In The Stanley Cup Spotlight
Recaps of Friday’s action, Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask opts out of return-to-play, the King Clancy Memorial Trophy finalists are announced, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat opened and finished the scoring as he led his club to a 4-3 overtime victory over the St. Louis Blues, taking a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven opening-round series. Horvat’s game-winner came after the Blues’ Jaden Schwartz tied the game in the dying seconds of regulation. Canucks forwards Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser each had two points, as did the Blues’ Alex Pietrangelo and David Perron.
— Here’s Your Replay ⬇️ (@TheReplayGuy) August 15, 2020
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues outhit the Canucks 41-27 but struggled at times to keep up with their speedy young opponents. They’re also getting no production from sniper Vladimir Tarasenko. The Canucks have an opportunity to take a stranglehold on this series in Game 3 on Sunday.
Tomas Tatar and Jesperi Kotkaniemi each scored twice as the Montreal Canadiens thumped the Philadelphia Flyers 5-0 to square their first-round series at one game apiece. Carey Price kicked out 30 shots for his second shutout of the postseason. Flyers winger Travis Konecny left the game in the third period after injuring his left foot blocking a shot.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Determined to win this game for sidelined coach Claude Julien, the Canadiens came out flying with a rare dominating performance. Flyers coach Alain Vigneault expressed his displeasure following the game over Habs interim coach Kirk Muller putting his top power-play unit on the ice late in the game. Muller said it was merely to give a little more work to his club’s erratic play with the man advantage.
Vigneault indicated he’d try to use that as motivation for his players in Game 3. If that’s his intended rallying point, the Flyers could be in worse shape than we thought. They’re a better team than what we’ve seen thus far in this series, but most of their scoring forwards have fired blanks thus far in this postseason. If those players don’t start scoring soon, the Flyers could be in big trouble against the underdog Habs.
Calgary Flames goaltender Cam Talbot made 35 saves to shut out the Dallas Stars 2-0 in Game 3 of their series, putting his club up two games to one. Mikael Backlund and T.J. Brodie were the goalscorers for the Flames, who hope to have sidelined winger Matthew Tkachuk back in their lineup for Game 3 on Sunday. Earlier in the day, the Flames announced forward Austin Czarnik has returned home to attend to a personal matter.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Talbot stole this one for the Flames, as the Stars dominated the play for most of this contest. They were also their own worst enemies, missing several quality scoring chances.
Three unanswered goals by Brock Nelson, Cal Clutterbuck, and Anders Lee powered the New York Islanders over the Washington Capitals 5-2, giving the Isles a 2-0 series lead. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin tallied both goals for his club.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders were the better-disciplined team in this contest, as the Capitals were sloppy defensively and took too many unnecessary penalties. Without a better effort in Game 3, the Caps could fall into a hole too deep to climb out of against the determined Isles.
The Colorado Avalanche took a 2-0 series lead over the Arizona Coyotes with a 3-2 victory. Andre Burakovsky snapped a 2-2 tie with 2:53 remaining in regulation.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a disappointing defeat for the Coyotes, who had a strong bounce-back effort after being dominated by the Avs in Game 1. Game 3 now becomes a must-win for the Desert Dogs.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask has opted out of participating further in the return-to-play plan. In a statement released by the team, Rask indicated he’s making the decision for family reasons. “I want to be with my teammates competing, but at this moment there are things more important than hockey in my life, and that is being with my family.” Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said Rask’s priorities are in the right order, noting the goalie had a newborn baby daughter born just months ahead of the return-to-play in Toronto.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Losing their starting goaltender is a significant blow for the Bruins in the midst of their opening-round series with the Carolina Hurricanes. Backup Jaroslav Halak will take over the starter’s role, and NBC Sports suggests Daniel Vladar will be Halak’s understudy.
Some will rush to criticize Rask’s actions, but we don’t know the full story other than it’s for family reasons. He may have found being isolated from his family for weeks simply too difficult to bear. The Bruins and the league are respecting his decision. We should too.
Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba, New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, and New Jersey Devils blueliner P.K. Subban are the finalists for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy, presented annually to the player “who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community.”
THE BOSTON GLOBE: Bruins winger David Pastrnak didn’t practice yesterday and remains uncertain for Game 3 today against the Carolina Hurricanes. The 48-goal scorer was unfit to play in Game 2 following an apparent left injury in the previous game.
TSN: The Florida Panthers plan to interview former Los Angeles Kings assistant GM Mike Futa as they search for a replacement for former general manager Dale Tallon.
TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs have let go of assistant coaches Paul McFarland and Andrew Brewer.
WGR550: The Buffalo Sabres are reportedly hiring Seth Appert as head coach of their AHL affiliate in Rochester.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Kings have suspended the mascot actor who performs as team mascot Bailey. He is being investigated for alleged sexual misconduct.
The Devils fire GM Ray Shero, Jonathan Huberdeau become the highest-scoring Panther in franchise history, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The New Jersey Devils 3-1 upset of the Tampa Bay Lightning was overshadowed by their firing of general manager Ray Shero an hour before game time. Assistant GM Tom Fitzgerald takes over on an interim basis while Martin Brodeur moved to a role in hockey operations. The Devils’ victory brought the Lightning’s 10-game win streak to an end. The Devils also recalled goaltender Cory Schneider. Winger Kyle Palmieri missed the game with a lower-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Shero’s firing caught many observers off-guard. Ownership didn’t cite any specific reason, other than the club’s poor record this season. With the club poised to miss the playoffs for the fourth time in five years under Shero, they felt it was time for a change in the front office.
Shero made several positive moves during his tenure with the Devils, including the acquisitions of Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri and taking Nico Hischier with the first-overall pick in the 2017 Draft. However, his inability to suitably address his club’s defensive and goaltending issues hampered their development and led to his downfall. I’ll have more on the Devils in the Rumors section.
Florida Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau became the highest-scoring player in franchise history in an 8-4 thumping of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Huberdeau scored and collected an assist for his 420th point, surpassing Olli Jokinen as their all-time points leader. Mike Hoffman scored twice while Aleksander Barkov and Vincent Trocheck each had a goal and two assists. Mitch Marner scored twice for the Leafs.
Earlier in the day, the Panthers called up goaltender Sam Montembeault as starter Sergei Bobrovsky was sidelined with an upper-body injury suffered during Saturday’s practice. Leafs forward Andreas Johnsson returned to the lineup after missing 15 games with a leg injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With 61 points, Huberdeau is enjoying a career season thus far. The 26-year-old left winger is among the league’s top-10 scorers and on pace for a career-high 110 points.
Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat scored twice to lead his club to a 4-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild. J.T. Miller picked up two assists for the Canucks, who moved into third place (54 points) in the Pacific Division. Wild defenseman Greg Patertyn made his season debut after missing 44 games to core muscle surgery.
Teddy Blueger’s shootout goal gave the Pittsburgh Penguins a 4-3 win over the Arizona Coyotes. Evgeni Malkin collected two assists for the Penguins (61 points), who move within four points of the Washington Capitals for first place in the Metropolitan Division. Niklas Hjalmarsson returned to the Coyotes lineup after missing 43 games with a lower-body injury.
Jusse Saros had a 28-save shutout and Kyle Turris scored the only goal as the Nashville Predators blanked the Winnipeg Jets 1-0. Predators captain Roman Josi’s points streak ended at 12 games. Jets defenseman Tucker Poolman left the game in the first period with an injured right leg.
The Buffalo Sabres rolled to a 5-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings, Evan Rodrigues tallied twice while teammate Jack Eichel picked up an assist to stretch his points streak to seven games. The Wings played without goaltender Jonathan Bernier, who’s dealing with a lower-body injury.
IN OTHER NEWS…
SPORTSNET: Edmonton Oilers winger Zack Kassian will have a hearing today with the NHL’s department of player safety regarding his altercation with Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk on Saturday. Kassian took offense to two hits from Tkachuk, punching the Flames winger and throwing him twice to the ice.
TSN: New York Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba was fined $5,000.00 for slashing St. Louis Blues defenseman Vince Dunn on Saturday.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars defenseman Stephen Johns played his first game in 22 months with their AHL affiliate Texas Stars. Johns had been sidelined by post-concussion headaches.
Capitals defenseman John Carlson reaches 20 points, Sabres captain Jack Eichel has a four-point performance against the Sharks, the Canucks’ Bo Horvat tallied a hat trick against the Red Wings, and more in the NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: John Carlson became the fourth defenseman in NHL history to record 20 points in October as his Washington Capitals beat the Calgary Flames 5-3. He’s also the league points leader. Carlson scored twice while teammate Alex Ovechkin tallied a goal and an assist.
The Buffalo Sabres (8-1-1) moved into first place in the league’s overall standings by edging the San Jose Sharks 4-3 in overtime. Sabres captain Jack Eichel scored twice (including the game-winner) and assisted on two others.
Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat tallied his first career NHL hat trick leading his club to a 5-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. It was the Wings’ fifth straight loss. Earlier in the day, the Wings placed defenseman Jonathan Ericsson on waivers.
Boston Bruins forwards David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand each had a goal and an assist as their club doubled up the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2. Pastrnak holds the NHL goal-scoring lead with 10 goals. Earlier in the day, the Bruins placed center David Krejci (upper body) on injured reserve and revealed winger Kurtis Kuhlman will be sidelined four weeks with a hairline fracture in his right tibia.
Vegas Golden Knight goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury picked up his 446th career victory in a 2-1 shootout win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Fleury moves into seventh place on the all-time wins list. The Blackhawks also made a minor-league trade, shipping forward Aleksi Saarela to the Florida Panthers for defenseman Ian McCoshen.
Goaltenders Devan Dubnyk and Alex Stalock combined for 25 saves as the Minnesota Wild blanked the Edmonton Oilers 3-0. Dubnyk left the game following a second-period collision with teammate Ryan Donato and Oilers defenseman Brandon Manning. An update is expected later today. Earlier in the day, the Wild activated winger Mats Zuccarello off injured reserve.
Jonathan Huberdeau and Denis Malgin each had a goal and an assist in the Florida Panthers’ 4-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Aleksander Barkov collected two assists for the Panthers as they extended their points streak to six games. Penguins winger Jake Guentzel collected two helpers.
Viktor Arvidsson scored twice and added an assist to lead the Nashville Predators to a 6-1 drubbing of the Anaheim Ducks. Earlier in the day, the Ducks signed defenseman Luca Sbisa to a one-year, one-way contract and placed him on waivers to send him to their AHL affiliate in San Diego.
Christian Dvorak scored in overtime as the Arizona Coyotes nipped the New York Rangers 3-2. It was the Coyotes’ fourth straight victory and the Rangers’ fifth straight defeat. Blueshirts defenseman Tony DeAngelo scored twice in a losing cause.
Anze Kopitar’s third-period goal lifted the Los Angeles Kings to a 3-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets, who’ve lost four of their last five games. Nikolaj Ehlers scored and set up another for the Jets.
IN OTHER NEWS…
THE DENVER POST: An update is expected today on the status of Mikko Rantanen. The Colorado Avalanche winger suffered a leg injury during Monday’s game against the St. Louis Blues.
The Charlotte Checkers signed forward Jamie McGinn to a professional tryout.
CBS SPORTS: Former NHL winger Magnus Paajarvi signed a two-year contract with KHL club Lokomotiv Yaroslavl.
NBC SPORTS: Seattle’s NHL expansion franchise has narrowed down proposed team names to five. They are expected to officially reveal its name in 2020.
Game recaps, Canucks introduce their new captain, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Vancouver Canucks celebrated their 50th anniversary with an 8-2 drubbing of the Los Angeles Kings. J.T. Miller had a goal and three assists, Brandon Sutter scored twice, and rookie defenseman Quinn Hughes tallied his first NHL goal. In a pre-game ceremony featuring former Canucks captains Orland Kurtenbach and Henrik Sedin, the club announced Bo Horvat as their new captain.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A well-deserved honor for Horvat. Often overshadowed by young guns Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser, the 24-year-old Horvat emerged over the past three seasons as the Canucks’ best two-way forward as well a team leader.
Jack Eichel scored twice and assisted on two other goals as the Buffalo Sabres edged the Montreal Canadiens 5-4 on an overtime goal by Marcus Johansson. Joel Armia scored twice for the Canadiens, who overcame a 4-2 third-period deficit to force the extra frame.
Goaltender Carter Hart made 25 saves for his first NHL shutout as the Philadelphia Flyers blanked the New Jersey Devils 4-0. Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov each had a goal and an assist. The Devils are winless in their first three games of this season.
NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Patrick Marleau is extremely emotional about rejoining the San Jose Sharks. He spent 19 of his 21 NHL seasons with the Sharks, who signed him on Tuesday to a one-year, $700K contract. Marleau spent the last two seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs, who traded him in June to the Carolina Hurricanes, who subsequently bought out the final year of his contract,
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning center Brayden Point could make his 2019-20 debut tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Point has been recovering from off-season hip surgery.
TRIBLIVE.COM: The injury-ravaged Pittsburgh Penguins placed winger Alex Galchenyuk on injured reserve. He joins Nick Bjugstad, Evgeni Malkin and Bryan Rust on IR.