NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 23, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 23, 2021

The Canadiens take a 3-2 series lead over the Golden Knights, Lou Lamoriello is the GM of the Year, Mathew Barzal fined, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines

NHL.COM: The Montreal Canadiens are one win away from advancing to the 2021 Stanley Cup Final after beating the Vegas Golden Knights 4-1 in Game 5 of their semifinal series. Nick Suzuki had a goal and two assists, Tyler Toffoli collected two helpers and Carey Price turned aside 26 shots for the win. Max Pacioretty tallied Vegas’ only goal. The Canadiens lead the series three games to two and can put it away Thursday in Game 6 on home ice.

Montreal Canadiens center Nick Suzuki (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some fans on social media took to blaming Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury for this loss. They also questioned head coach Peter DeBoer going with Fleury after Robin Lehner played well in Game 4. The problem, however, doesn’t lie with Fleury but with their offense.

Once again, the Canadiens did a fine job shutting down Vegas’ leading scorers. Pacioretty is the only member of the Golden Knights’ top-six forwards to score a goal against the Habs, while team captain Mark Stone is facing some criticism in the local media for failing to step up in this series.

The Golden Knights may be down but they proved in Game 4 they can battle back. However, they no longer have any margin of error. The Canadiens are playing like a team that believes it can win. Price’s goaltending and their defensive play have made the difference so far. If the Golden Knights don’t figure out a way to beat the Habs’ system on Thursday, they’ll be heading to the golf course by this weekend.

For the second straight year, New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello is the winner of the Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year Award.

NEWSDAY: Islanders center Mathew Barzal received a $5,000 fine by the NHL department of player safety for his cross-check of Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Jan Rutta in Game 5 of their semifinal series.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning may have routed the Islanders in Game 5 to take a 3-2 series lead but they aren’t taking their opponent for granted heading into Game 6 tonight on Long Island.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Isles caught a big break when Barzal didn’t receive a suspension for that cross-check on Rutta. It would’ve been a blow to their chances of winning Game 6 to lose their top center.

VANCOUVER SUN: Henrik and Daniel Sedin are returning to the Canucks, this time as special advisors to general manager Jim Benning.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’ll have to wait and see if the Sedins will have significant input into management decisions or if this is just window-dressing.

SPORTSNET: Referee Wes McCauley is not expected to work any remaining games in the semifinal. His last assignment was as a standby referee in Game 1 of the Lightning-Islanders series. He’s not believed to be injured and there is a possibility he’ll work a Stanley Cup Final game. Considered the consensus “best referee in the NHL,” his absence comes as the league faces growing criticism over the quality of officiating in this postseason, particularly in several semifinal games.

STLTODAY.COM: The St. Louis medical examiner determined that Blues alumni Bob Plager died of a cardiac event prior to his SUV crashed in March. Plager spent 11 seasons with the Blues as a player and spent years with the organization following his playing career. He was 78 years old.

WGR 550: Former Buffalo Sabres star Rene Robert passed away yesterday after suffering a heart attack last week in Florida. He was 72 years old.

Robert spent 12 seasons with the Sabres, Toronto Maple Leafs, Pittsburgh Penguins and Colorado Rockies from 1970-71 to 1981-82. His best seasons were with the Sabres (’71-’72 to ’78-’79) with Gilbert Perreault and Richard Martin on the fabled French Connection Line. He tallied 284 goals and 702 points in 744 career games, as well as 41 points in 50 playoff contests.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Robert’s family, friends, former teammates and the Sabres organization.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 18, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 18, 2021

The Lightning regains the lead in their semifinal series with the Islanders, Rod Brind’Amour wins the Jack Adams Award and re-signs with the Hurricanes, the GM of the Year finalists are revealed, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Brayden Point’s goal late in the second period held up as the winner as the Tampa Bay Lightning nipped the New York Islanders 2-1 to take a two games to one lead in their semifinal series. Point has a six-game point streak and leads all postseason scorers with 11 goals. Yanni Gourde opened the scoring in the first for the Lightning and Cal Clutterbuck tied it in the second. Game 4 is Saturday evening on Long Island.

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Brayden Point (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning caught a break when Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech received a questionable penalty for interfering with Nikita Kucherov. While they killed that off, the Bolts scored four seconds after Pelech left the box.

Despite that call, the Islanders had plenty of time to even the score but couldn’t generate sufficient offense against the Lightning’s close checking. The Bolts beat the Isles at their own game last night.

Carolina Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour is this year’s winner of the Jack Adams Award. He also signed a three-year contract extension after guiding the Hurricanes to their first division title since 2005-06.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The contract negotiations dragged on for weeks but this had an air of inevitability about it. The delay was due to final details being hashed out for new contracts for Brind’Amour’s coaching staff.

Marc Bergevin of the Montreal Canadiens, Lou Lamoriello of the New York Islanders, and Bill Zito of the Florida Panthers are this year’s finalists for the Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year Award. The award is voted on by the league’s general managers and a panel of NHL executives and media following the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

NHLPA: Toronto’s Auston Matthews was named the NHL’s best goal-scorer, Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman named the best defenseman and his teammate Andrei Vasilevskiy the best goalie in the 2020-21 NHLPA player poll.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of particular note in this poll was over 68 percent of the players don’t want to see the regional division format carried forward from this season. Over 66 percent, however, would like to see the series-style schedule continue.

We already knew the league will return to its traditional conference and divisional format next season. It’ll be interesting to see if the players’ view on the series-style format carries any weight next season’s schedule is drawn up.

Colorado Avalanche center Carl Soderberg is returning home, signing a two-year contract with the Malmo RedHawks of the Swedish Hockey League. He began his playing career with the RedHawks before embarking on a nine-year NHL career with the Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, Chicago Blackhawks and Arizona Coyotes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This likely spells the end of the 35-year-old Soderberg’s NHL career. He had 110 goals and 297 points in 597 games.

TSN: Rick Westhead reports Chicago Blackhawks senior management allegedly refused to report allegations of sexual assault of two players by a former video coach to the local police during the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A superb piece of investigative journalism by Westhead. A lawsuit filed by one of the two players against the Blackhawks is ongoing. A club spokesman declined to comment because this is an active litigation matter.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild signed a new affiliate deal with the ECHL’s Iowa Heartlanders.