NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 25, 2023
The Panthers advance to the Stanley Cup Final, Stars captain Jamie Benn is suspended for two games, the finalists for general manager of the year are revealed, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: The Florida Panthers are going to the Stanley Cup Final after defeating the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final. Matthew Tkachuk scored twice, including the winning goal with 4.3 seconds remaining in regulation. Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 36 shots as the Panthers win the Prince of Wales Trophy for the first time since 1996.
Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin left the game early in the first period with an apparent concussion after a hard hit by Panthers forward Sam Bennett behind the Hurricanes net. He was sidelined for the remainder of the game with a suspected concussion. Following the game, Slavin said the hit was clean.
Slavin’s teammate Stefan Noesen suffered an upper-body injury in the first period. He returned in the second period but was not on the bench for the third.
The Panthers await the winner of the Western Conference Final. The Vegas Golden Knights hold a 3-0 series lead over the Dallas Stars and can close out the series with a win tonight in Game 4.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A well-earned win by the Panthers in both this game and in a series where each game was closely contested and decided by one goal. Bobrovsky and Tkachuk were their dominant players but this sweep of such a strong opponent was definitely a team effort. Captain Aleksander Barkov tied with Tkachuk for the club lead in points (five) in this series while forwards Anthony Duclair, Carter Verhaeghe, Sam Reinhart and Bennett each had three points.
This was the third time dating back to 2009 that the Hurricanes were swept in the Conference Final. However, this one probably hurts the most. Head coach Rod Brind’Amour believes they deserved better and he has a point. The Hurricanes controlled the play but were stymied offensively by Bobrovsky’s goaltending. Losing Slavin in Game 4 was a big blow to their blueline.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars captain Jamie Benn received a two-game suspension for cross-checking Vegas Golden Knights captain Mark Stone in Game 3 of their Western Conference Final series.
Benn’s teammate Max Domi was fined $5,000.00 for slashing Stone in the third period of that game.
Evgeni Dadonov is doubtful for Game 4. The Stars winger suffered a lower-body injury in Game 3 and didn’t return.
SPORTSNET: Stars president and CEO Brad Alberts issued an apology to the Golden Knights after fans littered the ice with debris late in the second period of Game 3.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The fallout from the Stars’ horrible performance in Game 3 will have consequences for tonight’s game against the Golden Knights. They must now try to avoid elimination without their captain, whose undisciplined antics have taken him out of this series at a crucial time when they need his leadership and experience the most.
NHL.COM: Jim Nill of the Stars, Don Sweeney of the Boston Bruins and Bill Zito of the Florida Panthers are this season’s finalists for the Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year Award.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This award, like all NHL individual awards except for the Conn Smythe Trophy, is based on regular-season performance. Thus, I think Sweeney will win it because of his club’s record-setting performance with 65 wins and 135 points.
WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres announced that Kyle Okposo has agreed to a one-year, $2.5 million contract. Okposo, 34, served as the Sabres captain last season. In 75 games, he had 11 goals and 27 points.
Okposo also earned the Rick Martin Memorial Award, “presented to the player who fans believe best embodies what it means to be a Sabre through on-ice excellence, resilience, and dedication to the community.”
WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Capitals defenseman Rasmus Sandin is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Playing for Sweden at the IIHF World Championship, Sandin was injured following a knee-on-knee hit by Team USA’s Michael Eyssimont, who was ejected from the game.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals are probably breathing a sigh of relief that it was much worse. Sandin is expected to play a big role among their top-four defensemen next season.