NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 12, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 12, 2020

The Lightning down the Blue Jackets in a five-overtime marathon. Check out the details in the recaps of the opening round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning needed five overtime periods to edge the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 in Game 1 of their opening-round playoff series. Brayden Point tallied the winner at 10:27 of the fifth-overtime period, marking the fourth-longest game in NHL history, lasting over six hours and 13 minutes. The goal was Point’s second of the game. Pierre-Luc Dubois had a goal and an assist for the Jackets.

 

 

     

Tampa Bay Lightning center Braydon Point (NHL Images).

The two teams combined for a record 151 shots, with the Lightning firing a record 88. Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo set a record with 85 saves while Bolts netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy kicked out 61. Jackets defenseman Seth Jones also set a record for minutes-played by a skater, logging 65 minutes and six seconds of ice time.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That was the most entertaining multiple overtime game I’ve seen since the Buffalo Sabres edged the New Jersey Devils 1-0 in Game 6 of their 1994 Eastern Conference quarterfinal series. These types of games usually turn into long, dull defensive slogs with few quality scoring chances. Not this game. Every period was fast-paced and exciting, with the Lightning having the bulk of the offensive opportunities. A tough loss for the Jackets, who’ll have little time to recover before Game 2 tomorrow.

Because of the length of the Lighting-Blue Jackets game, the NHL rescheduled Game 1 between the Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes to 11 am ET today.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the right call by the league. It reportedly would’ve taken nearly two hours following the end of the Bolts-Jackets game to clean the dressing rooms and players benches and to prepare the ice surface for the Bruins and Hurricanes.

Rasmus Andersson’s second-period goal proved to be the game-winner as the Calgary Flames held off the Dallas Stars 3-2 in Game 1 of their opening-round playoff series. Dillon Dube scored twice as the Flames jumped to a 2-0 lead but the Stars tied it on goals by Denis Gurianov and Jamie Benn nine seconds apart. Stars defenseman Stephen Johns left the game in the second period and is listed as “unfit to play.” Stars center Tyler Seguin was held without a shot.    

 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dube had a heck of a game for the Flames, especially with his second goal that looked like a Pavel Bure special. Teammate Milan Lucic is also playing well, picking up his fifth point (1-4-5) in as many games.

Reilly Smith scored twice and collected an assist to lead the Vegas Golden Knights over the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1 in Game 1 of their opening-round series. 

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets center Mark Scheifele said he doesn’t believe Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk deliberately intended to injure him in Game 1 of their qualifying-round series. Scheifele suffered an injury to the back of his leg following a collision with Tkachuk, who reached out to the Jets center explaining he was skating too fast and lost control as he approached Scheifele along the boards.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jets coach Paul Maurice had thought otherwise, accusing Tkachuk of a dirty hit and doubling down a day later. It was obvious, however, that the collision was accidental. I think Tkachuk got a bad rap here because of his well-earned reputation for questionable tactics. If it had been Tkachuk’s teammate Johnny Gaudreau colliding with Scheifele, nobody would’ve thought it was dirty.

CBS SPORTS: Edmonton Oilers forward Tyler Ennis suffered a fractured leg and ligament damage near his ankle during an Aug. 5 game against the Chicago Blackhawks. He’s expected to be recovered in time for the 2020-21 season, but it might not be with the Oilers. Ennis is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues forward Ivan Barbashev is expected to rejoin his teammates in Edmonton on Friday after traveling to St. Louis to be with his wife during the birth of his son.

 










2020 NHL Awards – Vezina, Lady Byng and Masterton Finalists

2020 NHL Awards – Vezina, Lady Byng and Masterton Finalists

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 17, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 17, 2020

Lady Byng and Masterton Trophy finalists are announced,  Edmonton’s Rogers Place suffers some water damage, plus the latest on David Pastrnak, Vladimir Tarasenko, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

2020 NHL AWARDS UPDATE

NHL.COM: Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, and St. Louis Blues center Ryan O’Reilly are this year’s finalists for the Lady Byng Trophy, awarded annually to the player who bests combines sportsmanship, gentlemanly conduct, and ability.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews is a finalist for the 2020 Lady Byng Memorial Trophy (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This award typically goes to the most notable superstar with the lowest penalty minutes. MacKinnon had 12 PIMs this season, O’Reilly 10 and Matthews eight. However, this year’s selections stirred up some controversy.

Matthews got himself into trouble last year when he and a group of friends were accused of harassing a female security guard in Arizona. Meanwhile, some pundits were puzzled why Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin (10 PIMs) was passed over as a finalist. It was also pointed out only three defensemen (Bill Quackenbush, Red Kelly, and Brian Campbell) have won the Lady Byng.

Dallas Stars defenseman Stephen Johns, Philadelphia Flyers winger Oskar Lindblom, and Ottawa Senators winger Bobby Ryan are this year’s finalists for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, awarded annually to the player who best exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johns returned to action after being sidelined nearly two years by post-traumatic headaches that at times left him confined to darkened rooms battling depression and suicidal thoughts.

Lindblom’s rookie season was derailed by Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. He recently completed cancer treatments, including chemotherapy.

Ryan took a leave of absence last November to receive treatment for alcohol abuse. He returned to action on Feb. 25 and scored a hat trick two days later.

LATEST RETURN-TO-PLAY NEWS

TSN: A storm in Edmonton caused some water damage to Rogers Place just two weeks before it becomes a host city for the Western Conference teams in the upcoming playoff tournament. Oilers Entertainment Group issued a statement expressing confidence the incident won’t hamper its hosting efforts. Most of the damage was reportedly limited to the Ford Hall terminus.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Time to break out the Shop-Vacs! Seriously, though, it doesn’t appear the arena, training facilities, or dressing rooms suffered any damage.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins wingers David Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase were declared unfit to participate in practice yesterday. Both had emerged from travel quarantine earlier in the week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Do they have COVID-19 symptoms? Did they suffer injuries preparing to return to play? No one knows because the league won’t allow teams to reveal a sidelined player’s status due to “medical privacy”. 

CALGARY SUN: Flames general manager Brad Treliving shot down speculation suggesting winger Johnny Gaudreau’s skating with a smaller group of players was some sort of punishment over his conditioning. “Johnny Gaudreau has never looked better,” claimed Treliving. He added Gaudreau’s placement with the smaller group was due to circumstances arising from the need to be cautious as the players returned from a long layoff.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That won’t prevent some folks from theorizing Gaudreau’s fallen out of favor with the coaching staff or stoking rumors about the winger’s future in Calgary.

THE SCORE: St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Taransenko isn’t concerned about living in a quarantine bubble in Edmonton for the upcoming playoff tournament. “I don’t need much to live. I just need a bed and food,” he told The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu is more concerned about his club’s opportunity to play for the Stanley Cup than his future. The 37-year-old center is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end and could be playing his final games with the Wild.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre examines the strict pandemic protocols the Winnipeg Jets are following during Phase 3 of the return-to-play plan. Defenseman Luca Sbisa explained the players aren’t really allowed to go anywhere but the rink and their homes, though they do partake in simple errands such as grocery shopping. The Jets have their own Phase 3 policies as well as those issued in a 19-page document by the league.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Phase 3 is the crucial period if the playoff tournament under Phase 4 is to take place starting in two weeks. The Jets, and the other clubs involved, are taking significant steps to ensure the health and safety of the players. Time will tell, however, if those measures prove successful.

IN OTHER NEWS…

TORONTO SUN: Long-time Leafs TV reporter Paul Hendricks is stepping down to spend more time with his wife, who’s battling cancer. Hendricks was part of Leafs TV from its infancy in the mid-1990s.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Hendricks and his wife during this difficult time.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Rocky Thompson is stepping down as head coach of the AHL’s Chicago Wolves after three seasons behind their bench. He’s expected to coach the Vegas Golden Knights’ new AHL affiliate in Nevada next season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 24, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 24, 2020

Latest on potential hub cities plus updates on Oskar Lindblom, Ryan Graves, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

UPDATE ON POTENTIAL NHL HOST CITIES

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports Minneapolis/St. Paul, Columbus, Pittsburgh, and Dallas were ruled out as possible host cities for the NHL’s 24-team playoff tournament later this summer. Six cities – Las Vegas, Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Chicago, and Los Angeles – remain in the running.

CNE Grounds in Toronto.

Toronto appears to be outside its western Canadian cousins. The city resubmitted its bid over the weekend, proposing a 40-acre Olympic Village-like bubble on the CNE Grounds where the players would have access to BMO Field, Coca-Cola Coliseum (home of the AHL’s Toronto Marlies), and the Toronto Raptors practice facility.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports New York City was under consideration as a hub city, but establishing and maintaining an appropriate quarantine bubble was unsustainable.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Las Vegas, Vancouver, and Edmonton are said to be the favorites. The league is expected to make an official announcement by week’s end.

VANCOUVER SUN: The government of British Columbia confirms only NHL players and team officials will be part of the cohort quarantine.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Families of players could travel to the two hub cities, but will remain separated by the quarantine bubble. How they’ll be able to spend time together is a concern among a number of players. It’ll be interesting to see how this issue is addressed if the next two phases of the return-to-play plan are approved.

SPORTSNET: Canucks general manager Jim Benning hopes to have all his players return to Vancouver this week in preparation for the start of training camp on July 10.

THE ATHLETIC’s Michael Russo took to Twitter to report all the Minnesota Wild’s European players will be back in town by Friday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All 24 NHL teams participating in the playoff tournament expect their players to return to their respective team cities by Friday. That will allow a 14-day quarantine period before Phase 3 commences in two weeks’ time.

IN OTHER NEWS…

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Over six months after being diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer, Flyers forward Oskar Lindblom resumed skating with several teammates. Lindblom is completing his treatments and isn’t expected to participate in the playoff tournament.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a good sign Lindblom feels strong enough to being skating again. It probably gave the youngster a tremendous physical and mental lift to return to the ice.

Some folks on social media questioned the Flyers allowing Lindblom to take part in small-group training. General manager Chuck Fletcher said every player and staff member must follow strict social distancing guidelines, pointing out the practice facility is a very safe environment. Lindblom also likely had his doctors’ approval.

SPORTSDAY: cites an interview Dallas Stars defenseman Stephen Johns gave to The Athletic detailing his 22-month absence from the NHL as he recovered from head trauma. His journey included battling depression and suicidal thoughts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johns returned to the Stars lineup on Jan. 18, netting five points in 17 games before the schedule was paused by COVID-19. He’s the Stars’ nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Colorado Avalanche defenseman Ryan Graves is so excited about returning to play that he drove 2,500 miles from Prince Edward Island to Denver. He chose to drive rather than fly as it would allow him to resume skating at the Avalanche’s practice facility soon after arrival. 

Josh Yohe reports Pittsburgh Penguins center Nick Bjugstad (spinal surgery) could be ready to return to the lineup if the Penguins make a deep run in the playoffs.

TSN: Rimouski’s Alexis Lafreniere, Mannheim’s Tim Stutzle, and Sudbury’s Quinton Byfield top Bob McKenzie’s ranking of this year’s top prospects. The NHL Draft Lottery will be held this Friday. Depending on when the playoff tournament ends, the draft could be held in October or November.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports New York Rangers assistant coach Lindy Ruff is among the candidates to become head coach of the New Jersey Devils. Ruff spent 15 years as head coach of the Buffalo Sabres and four seasons as the Dallas Stars’ bench boss.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks promoted Martin Madden as their new assistant general manager. Madden was their director of amateur scouting.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 4, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 4, 2020

Game recaps, three stars of the week, plus updates on Frederik Andersen, Carey Price and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: An upper-body injury to Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen overshadowed their 5-3 defeat to the Florida Panthers. Andersen suffered the injury following a first-period collision with Panthers winger Frank Vatrano. Before that, the Leafs goalie was a bit slow getting re-set after being bumped twice. No word yet regarding his status for Wednesday’s game against the New York Rangers. Panthers defenseman Mark Pysyk tallied his first career NHL hat trick. The Panthers (63 points) moved into third place in the Atlantic Division, pushing the Leafs out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen suffered an upper-body injury during Monday’s 5-3 loss to the Florida Panthers (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs were down 1-0 before Andersen’s injury. They took as 3-1 lead after backup Michael Hutchinson came in, but gave up four straight third-period goals. If Andersen’s sidelined long-term it’ll be a serious blow to the Leafs playoff hopes. It could also push general manager Kyle Dubas into the trade market for help. I’ll have more in the Rumors section.

Stephen Johns scored his first goal in nearly two years as the Dallas Stars downed the New York Rangers 5-3. Johns recently returned to action after being sidelined since 2018 by a head injury. Stars center Joe Pavelski scored twice within 16 seconds in the first period.

Philadelphia Flyers goalie Brian Elliott made 16 saves in a 3-0 blanking of the Detroit Red Wings. Scott Laughton, Kevin Hayes, and Matt Niskanen were the goal scorers. The Flyers (65 points) have won six of their last eight games and hold the first wild-card in the Eastern Conference.

HEADLINES

Edmonton Oilers winger Leon Draisaitl, Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, and Vancouver Canucks winger J.T. Miller are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Feb. 2.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs winger Kasperi Kapanen revealed his recent one-game benching was due to missing practice on Friday because he overslept.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The flu has sidelined Canadiens netminder Carey Price from tonight’s game with the New Jersey Devils.

CBS SPORTS: Columbus Blue Jackets center Alexander Wennberg (upper body) was placed on injury reserve. He’s expected to miss three-to-four weeks.

TSN: The Chicago Blackhawks claimed defenseman Nick Seeler off waivers from the Minnesota Wild.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Local police have cleared Flyers mascot Gritty in the alleged assault of a 13-year-old fan in November.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 19, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 19, 2020

More scoring milestones for Alex Ovechkin, Jonathan Toews leads the Blackhawks over the Leafs, another solid performance by Blue Jackets’ Elvis Merzlikins, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Alex Ovechkin tallied his second straight hat trick as the Washington Capitals overcame a 4-1 deficit to beat the New York Islanders 6-4. With 692 career goals, Ovechkin passed Mario Lemieux (690) for 10th on the all-time goal-scoring list and is tied for ninth place with Steve Yzerman. He’s also just the third player to score consecutive hat tricks three times, tying Wayne Gretzky for second place behind leader Joe Malone with four. Ovechkin is just two goals behind Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak (36) for the league lead. Devon Toews had a goal and two assists for the Islanders.

Another milestone performance for Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin in a 6-4 win over the New York Islanders (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin just keeps passing milestones on his way to 700 career goals. He needs just three goals to pass Mark Messier (694) for eighth place and should reach seventh-place Mike Gartner’s 708 before season’s end. Toews, meanwhile, poked the bear by mimicking Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov bird-dance goal celebration.

Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews scored twice and set up two others to lead his club over the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-2. Hawks rookie winger Dominik Kubalik scored twice to reach 20 goals on the season, while Patrick Kane picked up his 999th career point. The loss drops the Leafs (57 points) to 10th overall in the Eastern Conference, one point out of the final wild-card spot. The Blackhawks, meanwhile, move to within five points of the final Western Conference wild-card berth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Give the Blackhawks credit, they’re not giving up on this season. The Leafs, meanwhile, are starting to look like they did before they changed coaches two months ago. Perhaps a trade is necessary to bolster the lineup or shake them up.

Elvis Merzlikins made 41 saves for his third shutout in four games backstopping the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 4-0 win over the New Jersey Devils. Cam Atkinson scored twice and collected an assist. The Jackets (58 points) hold the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Colorado Avalanche held off the St. Louis Blues 5-3, snapping the latter’s six-game win streak. Nathan MacKinnon and Andre Burakovsky each picked up a goal and an assist while Cale Makar set the Avalanche record for rookie defensemen with his 11th goal of the season.

Connor McDavid scored two goals, Riley Sheahan picked up four points and Josh Archibald three in the Edmonton Oilers’ 7-3 trouncing of the Arizona Coyotes. The Oilers have won five of their last six games. McDavid (76 points) holds a one-point lead over linemate Leon Draisaitl as the league’s leading scorer. Coyotes goalie Antti Raanta was pulled after giving up six goals in 18 shots. Meanwhile, there’s speculation the Oilers are closing in a four-year contract extension with winger Zack Kassian worth between $3.2-$3.5 million annually.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Critics will complain that’s too much money for too long for a player whose production is dependent upon his more talented linemates. Nevertheless, the Oilers consider him a faster, more affordable replacement for Milan Lucic, who was shipped to Calgary last summer. Given the steady increase in the salary cap, that projected contract isn’t that bad. However, it would push their 2020-21 salary-cap payroll to nearly $63 million invested in 13 players, with defensemen Darnell Nurse and Ethan Bear in line for raises and veteran goalie Mike Smith to be re-signed or replaced.

The Vancouver Canucks sit atop the Pacific Division with 58 points following a 4-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks. Tanner Pearson, Adam Gaudette, and Jake Virtanen each had two points for the Canucks, who’ve won 11 of their last 14 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks still have their work cut out for them holding a playoff berth in the tightly-contested Pacific. With each game, however, they’re looking more and more like a postseason contender.

The Montreal Canadiens kept their playoff hopes alive in a 5-4 squeaker over the Vegas Golden Knights. The Habs blew 3-0 and 4-2 leads before Ilya Kovalchuk and Tomas Tatar scored in the shootout. Nick Cousins scored twice for the Canadiens (51 points), who sit six behind the third-place Florida Panthers in the Atlantic Division. Golden Knights center Paul Stastny had a goal and an assist before losing some teeth after catching an errant stick in the mouth.

Sergei Bobrovsky made 27 saves backstopping the Florida Panthers to a 4-1 win over the lowly Detroit Red Wings. The Panthers have won four in a row but played without netminder Chris Driedger, who’s expected to miss several weeks with a groin injury. Wings center Dylan Larkin tallied his 100th career goal.

Philadelphia Flyers winger Travis Konecny scored two goals and James van Riemsdyk had three points to defeat the Los Angeles Kings 4-1. Claude Giroux chipped in the two helpers for the Flyers (58 points), who hold the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot.

The Nashville Predators edged the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 on Craig Smith’s third-period goal. The Sabres win streak ended at three games while captain Jack Eichel’s points streak ended at nine games.

Jason Zucker had a goal and two assists and Alex Stalock had a 27-save shutout as the Minnesota Wild thumped the Dallas Stars 7-0. With 50 points, the Wild are seven points out of a Western Conference wild-card berth. Stars defenseman Stephen Johns returned to action following a 22-month absence dealing with post-concussion symptoms.

The Ottawa Senators picked up their first victory in 10 games by dousing the Calgary Flames 5-2. Senators goaltender Marcus Hogberg kicked out 40 shots while Brady Tkachuk had a goal and an assist. Brother Matthew was held scoreless by the Sens.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins center David Krejci (upper body) is expected to miss today’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Justin Williams is expected to return to the Carolina Hurricanes lineup today against the New York Islanders.