NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 28, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 28, 2020

The NHL postpones Thursday and Friday games to protest racial injustice, plus the latest on Marc-Andre Fleury and Matthew Tkachuk in today’s morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The National Hockey League yesterday postponed its Thursday and Friday playoff games after the players on the eight remaining postseason clubs decided not to play to protest systemic racism and police brutality.

The decision was announced in a joint statement yesterday by the league and the NHL Players’ Association. Players from each of the four Eastern Conference and Western Conference teams held joint news conferences in Toronto and Edmonton expressing their support of players in other leagues boycotting games in protest.

“Black and Brown communities continue to face real, painful experiences. The NHL and NHLPA recognize that much work remains to be done before we can play an appropriate role in a discussion centered on diversity, inclusion and social justice,” the NHL and NHLPA said. “We understand that the tragedies involving Jacob Blake, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others require us to recognize this moment. We pledge to work to use our sport to influence positive change in society.

“In this moment, the NHLPA and NHL are committed to working to foster more inclusive and welcoming environments within our arenas, offices and beyond.”

Tom Gulitti reports Vegas Golden Knights winger Ryan Reaves played an integral role in discussions among the players in both cities. He also praised the white players for their support.

“I think if you look around this room, there’s a lot of white athletes in here, and I think that’s the statement that’s being made right now,” Reaves said. “It’s great that the NBA did this and the MLB and the WNBA. They have a lot of Black players in those leagues. But for all these athletes in here just to take a stand and say, ‘You know what? We see the problem too and we stand behind you,’ I’d go to war with these guys. I hate their guts on the ice, but I couldn’t be more proud of these guys. This statement that they’ve made today is something that’s going to last.”

Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri expressed his hope that the next two days would allow the players to further educate themselves for the betterment of society.

Dallas Stars forward Jason Dickinson believes it’s time for the league to do more.

“We can keep using our words, keep trying to get the message, but it comes down to action,” Dickinson said.

Gulutti reports the players said they hope this shows they are united against racism and to bring about further conversations on the subject with their fans.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL faced considerable criticism from the media and from fans on social media for not postponing their games on Wednesday at the same time as the NBA, MLB, WNBA and other leagues. The Hockey Diversity Alliance, which includes players of color such as Reaves, Kadri, guided the decision process that led to yesterday’s announcement by the league and the PA.

These postponements weren’t prompted by the leagues or their team owners. It was a result of their players’ boycotting the games or threatening to do so.  That’s why the NHL received so much criticism. 

It remains to be seen if these actions will lead to these leagues living up to their stated intent to become a more positive influence for societal change going forward. If so, will the leagues’ take the initiative, or will they once again be forced into doing so by their players?

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski examined the factors that led to Marc-Andre Fleury losing his starter’s role with the Vegas Golden Knights, prompting his agent to post an image of his client with a photoshopped blade through his back with the name of head coach Peter DeBoer on the blade. Fleury played just one game in the round-robin and one in the first round of the playoffs.

The Golden Knights addition of Robin Lehner at the trade deadline was portrayed as shoring up their backup goaltending if anything happened to Fleury. However, DeBoer began saying he had two starters heading into the playoffs. While the Golden Knights’ coach spoke of goalie rotation during the playoffs, that hasn’t happened yet. Wyshynski also noted the club’s director of goaltending Dave Prior was relieved of his duties following the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wyshynski believes the Golden Knights’ crease should’ve belonged to Fleury to start the playoffs. DeBoer feels otherwise and it appears he has management’s support. 

Fleury struggled at times during the season which I believe led to the acquisition of Lehner., who played well down the stretch and garnered enough trust from DeBoer to earn the bulk of the starts thus far. It’ll be interesting to see how this situation unfolds over the rest of the playoffs and into the off-season.

CALGARY SUN: Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk is defending his teammates, especially Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, from criticism by fans and pundits blaming them for the club’s early playoff exit.

I just couldn’t believe some of the criticism some guys on my team were getting for this and getting the blame for this. Especially the criticism towards Johnny and Monny, it makes me sick. It really upsets me and pisses me off.

Tkachuk acknowledged he and the rest of the Flames’ best players didn’t do enough to get past the first round but shouldered the blame for the lack of production. “Everyone was upset at them (Gaudreau and Monahan) for offensive production. Well, they produced more offense than me. So put the blame on me.” He felt he didn’t do enough to put the club over the top when he was in the lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Meet the future captain of the Calgary Flames. 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 27, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 27, 2020

The Lightning crushed the Bruins, the Flyers edge the Islanders in overtime, and the Avalanche get a big win over the Stars. Meanwhile, the NHL faces criticism over its response to protests over the Jacob Blake shooting. The latest in today’s morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning thumped the Boston Bruins 7-1 to take a 2-1 lead in their second-round series. Nikita Kucherov scored a goal and set up three others while Alex Killorn tallied twice and added an assist. The Bolts chased Bruins goalie Jaroslav Halak from the game after he gave up four goals on 16 shots. His replacement, rookie Dan Vladar, didn’t fare any better, allowing three goals on 15 shots.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This game was over in the second period as the Lightning scored four goals to take a 6-1 lead by period’s end. The Bruins were undisciplined and the Bolts made them pay with three power-play goals. 

Philippe Myers scored in overtime as the Philadelphia Flyers edged the New York Islanders 4-3 to tie their series at a game apiece. Kevin Hayes scored twice for the Flyers, who blew a 3-0 lead as the Isles battled back to tie the game after replacing goalie Semyon Varlamov with backup Thomas Greiss.

 

 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers’ top forwards played significant roles in this game, with Hayes scoring twice, Sean Couturier potting his first of the playoffs and assisting on Myers’ game-winner, while Claude Giroux and Travis Konecny each collected an assist. Nevertheless, the Flyers also learned a three-goal lead isn’t safe against the determined Islanders.

The Colorado Avalanche scored three unanswered third-period goals to defeat the Dallas Stars 6-4 in Game 3 of their second-round series. The Stars lead the series two games to one and were on the verge of taking a 3-0 series lead after rallying from a 3-1 deficit to take a 4-3 lead before the Avs’ staged their comeback. Nazem Kadri netted the winning goal, Cale Makar collected three assists, and Nathan MacKinnon added two helpers. Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin tallied for the Stars.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was an entertaining contest that see-sawed back and forth before the Avs rallied for the win. It wasn’t a shining moment for the goalies, as Colorado’s Pavel Francouz and Dallas’ Anton Khudobin looked shaky in this match.

HEADLINES

SPORTSNET: The NHL opted not to postpone Wednesday’s games in the wake of the NBA’s decision to delay its games after players from several of its teams boycotted games in protest over the recent police shooting of Jacob Blake, an unarmed black man in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The NHL instead staged a moment of reflection before the Tampa/Boston and Colorado/Dallas games.

The NHL’s decision prompted criticism from Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba and San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane, who are among the members of the Hockey Diversity Alliance fighting racial injustice. Dumba called the move “disheartening” while Kane felt it was disappointing. Both men felt the NHL should do more to acknowledge the situation. 

CBC SPORTS: Hockey analyst Kelly Hrudey shared those sentiments, saying he felt the NHL should’ve postponed those games to show support for their NBA peers and the Black Lives Matter movement. He felt the league was missing out on important discussions about racial injustice.

ESPN.COM: Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning players said they learned about the NBA players boycott just before their game and didn’t have sufficient time to discuss the matter.

Bruins captain Zdeno Chara voiced his support for his peers in other sports who sat out yesterday’s games. Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said he would’ve supported his players had they opted not to play. Tyler Seguin and Jason Dickinson of the Dallas Stars and Nazem Kadri of the Colorado Avalanche also voiced support, adding boycotting games isn’t the only way to back the cause.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see what transpires for today’s NHL games between the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Islanders and the Vegas Golden Knights and Vancouver Canucks. The league could be forced to postpone those games if players from those teams opt not to participate in support of their NBA peers.

THE SCORE: Sharks captain Logan Couture issued an apology after a tweet he made regarding American politics went viral. Couture claimed he was sucker-punched in Toronto after talking about voting for the Republican Party and mentioning US President Donald Trump. He added he didn’t explicitly say he’d vote for Trump but would vote Republican if he was an American citizen. Couture subsequently deleted those tweets after facing considerable criticism. The Sharks issued a statement condemning the use of violence toward Couture.

Vegas Golden Knights winger Jonathan Marchessault issued an apology for lashing out at several fans on Instagram who criticized his play during his club’s 5-2 loss to Vancouver. 

STLTODAY.COM: St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko will undergo a third surgery on his left shoulder and will be sidelined for five months. Meanwhile, Blues general manager Doug Armstrong indicated one-fifth of his squad tested positive for COVID-19 at some point before they departed for Edmonton on July 19. None of those players were asymptomatic, but their fitness levels were affected because they couldn’t train while under quarantine.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Arizona Coyotes will forfeit its second-round pick in 2020 and its first-round pick in 2021 as punishment for violating the NHL’s combine scouting policy. The league prohibits teams from testing prospects’ fitness before its’ annual draft combine.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Claude Julien expects to return behind the Canadiens bench whenever next season begins. The Habs coach had to leave his club during their first-round series against Philadelphia after experiencing chest pains. He had a stent implanted in one of his arteries and is expected to make a full recovery.

NHL.COM: Defenseman Mike Green announced his retirement after 15 seasons with the Washington Capitals, Detroit Red Wings, and Edmonton Oilers. He netted 501 points in 880 career NHL games, as well as 37 points in 76 playoff contests.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Green’s best years were with the Capitals, including back-to-back 70-plus point campaigns in 2008-09 and 2009-10. He was a First Team All-Star and a finalist for the Norris Trophy in both those seasons. Injuries, however, would hamper his performance over the remainder of his career. Best wishes to Green and his family in their future endeavors.










NHL Playoffs: These 10 Players Are Shining In The Stanley Cup Spotlight

NHL Playoffs: These 10 Players Are Shining In The Stanley Cup Spotlight

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 3, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 3, 2020

Recaps of Sunday’s games plus updates on Mark Schiefele, Patrik Laine, Tuukka Rask, Dougie Hamilton, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Nazem Kadri scored with a fraction of a second remaining in the game to lift the Colorado Avalanche over the St. Louis Blues 2-1 in round-robin play. Ryan Graves also scored for the Avs while Philipp Grubauer made 31 stops. David Perron tallied the sole Blues’ goal while Jordan Binnington made 36 saves.

Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Binnington was outstanding in a losing cause for the Blues, especially in the first period when the Avs dominated his teammates. Their play improved as the game went on but the Avs still had better scoring chances.

 

Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo made 28 saves to shut out the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-0 in Game 1 of their best-of-five qualifying round series. Cam Atkinson netted the game-winner and Alexander Wennberg got the insurance goal with an empty-netter. Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen turned aside 34 shots.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blue Jackets’ grinding style sucked the life out of the Leafs’ offense. Not that they didn’t get some quality chances but Korpisalo was superb, robbing Auston Matthews in the second period with a flashy glove save.  

Jared Spurgeon scored twice and set up the winning goal while Alex Stalock had a 28-save effort as the Minnesota Wild blanked the Vancouver Canucks 3-0 to take Game 1 of their qualifier. Kevin Fiala netted the game-winner with a power-play slapper in their first period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild’s experience came through in this game. They effectively neutralized the Canucks’ young guns while creating quality scoring chances of their own. Canucks winger Micheal Ferland could get a call by the NHL department of player safety after appearing to spear Ryan Hartman on the Wild bench.

 

A three-goal second period powered the Philadelphia Flyers over the Boston Bruins 4-1 in round-robin play. Flyers goalie Carter Hart made 34 saves for his first-ever NHL postseason win. Michael Raffl had a goal and an assist but left the game in the third period with an apparent leg injury. Jaroslav Halak was in net for the Bruins as starter Tuukka Rask was deemed unfit to play. His status for Wednesday’s round-robin game against the Tampa Bay Lightning is uncertain.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers played as though this was a playoff game, while the Bruins seemed to treat it as an exhibition contest. Yes, it’s only a round-robin that determines final seeding for the playoffs, but that doesn’t excuse what seemed like a halfhearted effort by the Bruins.

Arizona Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper kicked out 40 shots in a 4-3 victory over the Nashville Predators. Christian Dvorak had a goal and an assist while Taylor Hall and Phil Kessel each collected two assists. Filip Forsberg scored twice for the Predators. The Coyotes lead the series 1-0.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Check out my take on this game here.

HEADLINES

TSN: Sara Orlesky reports a source claims Mark Scheifele’s apparent leg injury isn’t believed to be long-term. The Winnipeg Jets center was hurt during the first period of Game 1 of his club’s qualifier against the Calgary Flames following a collision with Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk. Scheifele left the game in obvious pain and didn’t return. He’s not expected to play in Game 2 tonight.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets coach Paul Maurice doubled down on his accusation that Tkachuk deliberately injured Scheifele. Maurice also provided no update about the condition of winger Patrik Laine, who also left Game 1 with what appeared to be an injured hand. Per league protocols, the Jets can’t reveal the full details of their injuries.

CALGARY SUN: Flames coach Geoff Ward defended Tkachuk, claiming his winger was trying to finish his check but Scheifele’s sudden shift in direction caught the Flames winger off-balance as they collided into the boards.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is similar to the Matt Cooke incident with Erik Karlsson in 2013. Cooke’s skate blade accidentally sliced Karlsson’s Achilles tendon, but he was accused of purposefully injuring the blueliner.

Like Cooke, Tkachuk has a reputation for cheap shots, which could explain why Maurice felt that hit was a deliberate attempt to injure Scheifele. In this instance, however, I agree with Ward that it was an unfortunate accident. 

TSN: Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos remains questionable for today’s round-robin game with the Washington Capitals. He’s still dealing with a lower-body injury suffered during Phase 2 training.

THE NEW & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton remains sidelined with an undisclosed injury. He could be a week or so away from returning to the lineup.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Blackhawks forward Drake Caggiula received a one-game suspension for an illegal check on Edmonton Oilers winger Tyler Ennis during Game 1 of their qualifying-round series on Saturday.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 12, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 12, 2020

Ducks-Blues game postponed following Jay Bouwmeester’s cardiac incident, injury updates, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Last night’s game between the Anaheim Ducks and St. Louis Blues was postponed after Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester suffered a cardiac incident and collapsed on the Blues’ bench in the first period. Thanks to the quick response of the medical staff of both clubs, Bouwmeester was stabilized and reportedly conscious, alert, and moving his extremities as he was transported to a local hospital for further tests and observations. An update on his condition will be released later today.

St. Louis Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester hospitalized following a cardiac incident (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A frightening moment for all concerned. Here’s hoping Bouwmeester makes a full recovery and returns to action soon.

Yanni Gourde’s overtime goal gave the Tampa Bay Lightning a 2-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy extended his franchise-record points streak to 19 games. The Bolts (79 points) have won eight straight games and sit one point behind the league-leading Boston Bruins. It was a costly win for the Lightning, as Nikita Kucherov and Anthony Cirelli left the game with lower-body injuries.

Philipp Grubauer turned in a 34-save shutout as the Colorado Avalanche blanked the Ottawa Senators 3-0. The Avs (72 points) have won eight of their last nine contests and sit one behind the Western Conference-leading Blues. Earlier in the day, the Avalanche learned center Nazem Kadri will miss multiple weeks with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kadri’s injury has sparked speculation the Avs could seek a short-term replacement before the trade market. I’ll have more shortly in the Rumors section.

Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn’s hat trick powered his club to a 4-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. The Stars (69 points) have won four of their last six games and sit third in the Central Division, while the Hurricanes (67 points) are two points out of an Eastern Conference wild-card berth.

Leon Draisaitl had a goal and three assists while Kailer Yamamoto scored twice in the Edmonton Oilers 5-3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. The Oilers (66 points) sit one back of the Vancouver Canucks for first in the Pacific Division, while the Blackhawks (58 points) are six points out of a Western Conference wild-card spot. Earlier in the day, the Oilers announced captain Connor McDavid will be sidelined two-to-three weeks with a quadriceps injury.

The New York Islanders blew a 3-0 lead but rallied on goals by Ryan Pulock and Leo Komarov to down the Philadelphia Flyers 5-3. Isles center Mathew Barzal collected three assists while teammate Casey Cizikas left the game in the first period with an apparent cut to his left leg. The Isles (72 points) sit third in the Metropolitan Division, while the Flyers (69 points) hold the final wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.

An overtime goal by Kasperi Kapanen lifted the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 3-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes. The Coyotes had seemingly won the game earlier in the extra frame, but it was overturned due to goaltender interference. Zach Hyman scored both regulation goals for the Leafs (68 points), who hold third place in the Atlantic Division.

Mike Matheson, Mark Pysyk and Noel Acciari each had a goal and two assists to power the Florida Panthers over the New Jersey Devils 5-3. The Panthers sit two points behind the Leafs in the Atlantic Division.

Sam Reinhart’s early third-period goal held up as the game-winner as the Buffalo Sabres edged the Detroit Red Wings 3-2. The Sabres sit 10 points behind the third-place Leafs in the Atlantic Division. Wings forward Anthony Mantha picked up two assists. Teammate Brendan Perlini suffered a bruised right orbital bone and received several stitches to his face after being struck by a skate in the first period.

Minnesota Wild goaltender Alex Stalock made 26 saves to shut out the Vegas Golden Knights 4-0. Kevin Fiala scored and picked up two assists for the Wild (60 points), who sit four points behind the Golden Knights and Coyotes for one of the two wild-card spots in the Western Conference.

New York Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin kicked out 42 shots in a 4-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets. He briefly left the game early in the first period under the league’s concussion protocol but showed no ill-effects upon his return. Chris Kreider scored twice for the Rangers (60 points), who sit nine points out of an Eastern Conference wild-card spot. The Jets (63) sit one point out of a wild-card spot in the West. Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba received a mixed reaction from Jets fans in his first game back in Winnipeg since getting traded to New York last summer. Before the game, Randy Carlyle and Tomas Steen were inducted into the Jets Hall of Fame.

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones will be sidelined for eight-to-ten weeks with an injured right ankle.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens remain mum on the status of captain Shea Weber. The Habs captain remains sidelined with a lower-body injury and there’s no timetable for his return.

THE WASHINGTON POST: Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

SPORTSNET: Vancouver Canucks winger Antoine Roussel was fined $5,000.00 by the NHL department of player safety for slashing Nashville Predators defenseman Yannick Weber.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers re-signed forward Joakim Nygard to a one-year, $875K contract.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 21, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 21, 2020

Game recaps, three stars of the week, plus the latest on Connor McDavid, Jacob Markstrom, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Nazem Kadri scored twice and set up another as the Colorado Avalanche defeated the Detroit Red Wings 6-3. Nathan MacKinnon also tallied twice for the Avs while Dylan Larkin had a three-point outing for Detroit. Wings goalie Jimmy Howard is winless in his last 15 games (0-13-2).

Nazem Kadri’s three-point performance powered the Colorado Avalanche to a 6-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings (Photo via NHL Images)

A late goal by Noel Acciari lifted the Florida Panthers to a 5-4 victory over the Minnesota Wild. Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle collected four points. Luke Kunin scored two goals for the Wild.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins, and Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Jan. 19.

THE SCORE: In an upcoming Sportsnet documentary, Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid reveals the knee injury he suffered at the end of last season was more serious than originally reported.

Doctors told McDavid he was facing surgery and a 10-month recovery period to repair a torn PCL ligament, a torn lining at the back of his knee, and a crack at the front of his tibia. He instead opted for a rigorous rehabilitation schedule.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The rehab obviously worked for McDavid. He hasn’t missed a game this season and is the NHL’s leading scorer, on pace for a career-high 127 points.

NHL.COM: Vancouver Canucks assistant general manager John Weisbrod said his club has started contract extension talks with goaltender Jacob Markstrom.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Markstrom is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July. He’s won 18 of 34 starts with a 2.71 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage while facing the sixth-most shots.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins forward Dominik Kahun was diagnosed with a concussion during Sunday’s game against Boston.

TSN: Winnipeg Jets forward Adam Lowry will be sidelined at least a month with an upper-body injury.