NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 9, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 9, 2021

The Lightning eliminated the Hurricanes, the Golden Knights push the Avalanche to the brink of elimination, the Masterton Trophy finalists are announced, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Andrei Vasilevskiy’s 29-save shutout carried the Tampa Bay Lightning over the Carolina Hurricanes 2-0 to win their second-round series four games to one. Brayden Point and Ross Colton were the goal scorers. The Lightning awaits the winner of the Boston Bruins-New York Islanders series in the semifinals.

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: By eliminating the Hurricanes and the Florida Panthers before them, the Lightning are serving notice that they still have the depth in talent to repeat as Stanley Cup champions. Vasilevskiy is also showing everyone why he’s a Vezina Trophy finalist for the fourth straight year. He was superb in this series.

The Hurricanes remain a rising force. They’re very close to breaking through as a Stanley Cup contender. Much will depend on how management handles the offseason, particularly the expansion draft and the contract negotiations with defenseman Dougie Hamilton and head coach Rod Brind’Amour.

The Vegas Golden Knights overcame a 2-0 deficit for a 3-2 Game 5 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on an overtime goal by Mark Stone. Brandon Saad and Joonas Donskoi scored for the Avalanche but Alex Tuch and Jonathan Marchessault tallied in the third period to set the stage for Stone’s OT heroics. The Golden Knights hold a 3-2 series lead and can wrap things up Thursday night in Las Vegas.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avs controlled the play through the first and second periods. Turnovers, however, proved costly as the Golden Knights capitalized for all three goals. The winner of this series faces the Montreal Canadiens in the semifinals.

Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba, Philadelphia Flyers forward Oskar Lindblom, and San Jose Sharks winger Patrick Marleau are this year’s finalists for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

An independent arbitrator upheld the eight-game suspension of Avalanche center Nazem Kadri. He’s already served seven games of that suspension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Would the Avalanche be on the verge of elimination if Kadri hadn’t been suspended? Maybe, maybe not, but his reckless hit on St. Louis Blues defenseman Justin Faulk in the previous series hasn’t helped matters.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy was fined $25,000 by the league for his post-game criticism of the officiating in Game 5 of this club’s second-round series with the New York Islanders. Bruins winger Nick Ritchie was fined $5,000.00 for elbowing Isles defenseman Scott Mayfield during that contest.

Injuries have sidelined Bruins forward Curtis Lazar and defensemen Brandon Carlo and Kevan Miller from Game 6 tonight.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Yannick Weber has signed a three-year contract with ZSC Lions in Switzerland. Weber spent the past 13 NHL seasons with the Montreal Canadiens, Vancouver Canucks, Nashville Predators and the Penguins. He played only two games for the Pens this season, spending most of his time on their taxi squad.

THE SCORE: Toronto’s CN Tower was lit in red, white and blue to honor the Montreal Canadiens as the last Canadian team still standing in the 2021 NHL playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I bet that went down well in the heart of Leafs Nation.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 1, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 1, 2021

The Canadiens upset the Maple Leafs in seven games, the Islanders tie their second-round series with the Bruins, Reaves suspended two games, Kadri suspension upheld, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Montreal Canadiens advanced to the second round of the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs following a 3-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 7 of their first-round series. Canadiens goaltender Carey Price made 30 saves while Brendan Gallagher, Corey Perry and Tyler Toffoli were the goal scorers. William Nylander spoiled Price’s shutout bid late in the third. The Canadiens will face the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday for the opening game of that series.

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens deserved the win. Down three games to one and seemingly on the ropes, they rebounded to upset the heavily favored Leafs. Price once again reminded everyone why teammates and opponents still consider him the best goaltender in the league. He was outstanding in this series. His teammates were buoyed by his play and his calm leadership and rode it to victory.

The Leafs choked. There’s no sugarcoating this one. They had the Canadiens on the ropes after Game 4 but couldn’t find the knockout punch. Richard Trophy winner Auston Matthews was held to one goal. Mitch Marner finished the regular season in fourth place among the league’s point leaders but couldn’t score a goal in this series. There’s plenty of blame to go around for this epic failure. However, Matthews and Marner are the Leafs’ biggest stars and were expected to lead their club to victory in this series. They didn’t, and they’ll carry that burden for a while.

This will be an interesting summer for the Leafs as they evaluate this disappointing finish to what had been a dazzling regular season. I’ll have more later this morning in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

An overtime goal by Casey Cizikas gave the New York Islanders a 4-3 win over the Boston Bruins to tie their second-round series at a game apiece. Semyon Varlamov got the start for the Isles and made 39 saves for the win while Jean-Gabriel Pageau had a goal and an assist. Brad Marchand had a goal and an assist for the Bruins. Game 3 goes Thursday night on Long Island.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was an entertaining back-and-forth contest. Boston quickly opened the scoring, the Islanders rebounded to take a 3-1 lead but the Bruins rallied to force overtime. A turnover at the Islanders blueline by Jeremy Lauzon sprung Cizikas for his breakaway winner.

The NHL released its full schedule for the second round of the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Golden Knights forward Ryan Reaves received a two-game suspension for roughing and unsportsmanlike conduct against Colorado Avalanche defenseman Ryan Graves in Game 1 of their second-round series on Sunday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski reported Reaves admitted he yanked out some of Graves’ hair while the Golden Knights admitted the incident was retaliatory due to Graves’ earlier hit on Mattias Janmark. And for that, he gets two games, probably because Graves returned to the game after leaving the ice for repairs.

SPORTSNET: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has upheld Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri’s eight-game suspension after hearing Kadri’s appeal last week. He was suspended for a hit to the head of St. Louis Blues defenseman Justin Faulk in Game 2 of their first-round series.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes could shuffle their lineup with winger Nino Niederreiter expected to be sidelined for the entirety of their series against the Tampa Bay Lightning.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 28, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – May 28, 2021

Are offseason changes coming for the Predators? Has Evgeny Kuznetsov played his final game with the Capitals? Are the Senators interested in Flyers captain Claude Giroux? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE PREDATORS?

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan believes it’s time for the Nashville Predators to start incorporating more young players into their lineup. She also anticipates they’ll prioritize re-signing defenseman Mattias Ekholm if he seeks a long-term extension before his contract expires next summer.

Could the Nashville Predators attempt to trade Matt Duchene this summer? (NHL Images).

Free-agent goaltender Pekka Rinne won’t be back as Juuse Saros has taken over the starter’s job. Kaplan proposed trying to entice the Seattle Kraken into selecting Ryan Johansen or Matt Duchene in this summer’s expansion draft.

THE ATHLETIC: Joe Rexrode believes the Predators must figure out where they are and how to get to the next level. Assuming long-time general manager David Poile isn’t asked to leave or doesn’t step down, he’ll have to figure out what to do with Johansen, Duchene and pending free agent Mikael Granlund.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Attempting to unload overpaid underachievers Johansen and Duchene won’t be easy. Both have several seasons remaining on their respective contracts with each carrying an $8 million annual average value. They lack no-trade protection but those contracts will be tough to move with the salary cap remaining flat at $81.5 million next season.

Poile will have to get creative to find a way to move one or both. Getting the Kraken to select one of them will mean offering up a sweetener in the form of a draft pick, a top prospect or a good young player. That still might not be enough to get it done. Maybe Poile finds a club will to be a third-party broker by taking on part of the cap hit in return for a pick or prospect.

HAS KUZNETSOV PLAYED HIS FINAL GAME WITH THE CAPITALS?

THE ATHLETIC: Tarik El-Bashir reported Washington Capitals GM Brian MacLellan addressed the recent trade rumors about Evgeny Kuznetsov during his end-of-season press conference on Wednesday. “We’re always open to trading people if it makes sense,” he said. “If it’s going to make our team better, we’re open to it. “

SPECTOR’S NOTE: MacLellan also said they need Kuznetsov to play at his highest ability. If that wasn’t possible, they wouldn’t be a good team and they’ll have to make some other decisions.

The Capitals GM could entertain trade offers for Kuznetsov this summer. Then again, this could be his public way of reminding the center that his tenure in Washington is in jeopardy unless he cleans up his act on and off the ice.

Kuznetsov’s play has declined over the last couple of years. He received a three-game suspension by the league in 2019 for “inappropriate conduct” less than a month following a four-year ban from international competition following a positive test for cocaine. He tested positive twice this year for COVID-19 and was benched for one game earlier this month after he and goalie Ilya Samsonov missed a team function.

Those factors could impede MacLellan’s efforts to trade Kuznetsov. So could his $7.8 million annual average value over the remaining four years of his contract and his 15-team no-trade clause.

ARE THE SENATORS INTERESTED IN GIROUX?

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports there’s speculation among Senators followers over Claude Giroux’s future with the Philadelphia Flyers. He becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer. Garrioch considers it doubtful he’ll be traded because of his no-move clause and his desire to stay in Philadelphia.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That speculation linking Giroux to the Senators wasn’t generated by media sources. The Athletic’s Ian Mendes recently observed the “Giroux-to-Ottawa” talk that appeared among Senators fans on social media in recent weeks. The Flyers captain spends his offseasons in the Ottawa area but Mendes doubted that would be a factor in his future plans. If Giroux and the Flyers part company, the 33-year-old center will likely want to join a Stanley Cup contender.

Garrioch believes there are other possibilities in the trade and free-agent markets if the Senators decide to bring in an experienced center. His list included Sean Monahan of the Calgary Flames, Nazem Kadri of the Colorado Avalanche, and Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

He also mentioned Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel but doesn’t believe that move makes much sense for the Senators. He also dismissed Washington’s Evgeny Kuznetsov because of his hefty contract.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 28, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 28, 2021

The Hurricanes eliminate the Predators to advance to the second round while the Canadiens stay alive with an overtime win over the Leafs. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes advanced to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs with a 4-3 overtime victory over the Nashville Predators in Game 6 of their opening-round series. Sebastian Aho tallied the overtime winner as the Hurricanes rallied from a 3-1 deficit. Aho scored twice and Dougie Hamilton netted the game-tying goal on an assist by Jaccob Slavin. Nick Cousins, Mikael Granlund and Ryan Johansen scored for the Predators.

Montreal Canadiens center Nick Suzuki (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes will face the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round.

An overtime goal by Nick Suzuki gave the Montreal Canadiens a 4-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Canadiens had a 3-0 lead at one point but the Leafs battled back thanks to two third-period goals by Jake Muzzin. Joel Armia scored twice the Habs. Game 6 goes Saturday night in Montreal with the Leafs holding a 3-2 series lead.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That was the first game in this series that Montreal looked like the better team despite blowing that three-goal lead. Canadiens rookie Cole Caufield’s heads-up play at his blueline picking off a blind pass by the Leafs’ Alex Galchenyuk set the stage for Suzuki’s winner. The Habs will become the first Canadian team in these playoffs to have fans in the stands as 2,500 people will be in attendance for Saturday’s game.

Game 1 of the second-round series between the New York Islanders and Boston Bruins is 8 pm ET on Saturday, May 29 in Boston.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild center Joel Eriksson Ek will be in the lineup for Game 7 tonight against the Vegas Golden Knights. Eriksson Ek was banged up in the previous game after crashing into the Golden Knights’ net in Game 6 but said he’s good to go for tonight’s contest.

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: The Vegas Golden Knights go into tonight’s game against the Wild without forwards Ryan Reaves and Peyton Krebs and defenseman Brayden McNabb. The trio was placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri awaits his fate after appealing his eight-game suspension before NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. A decision could be announced as early as today. Kadri was suspended by the NHL department of player safety for an illegal hit to the head of St. Louis Blues defenseman Justin Faulk in the first round.

NHL.COM: The NHL Central Scouting Bureau released its final rankings of the prospects eligible for the 2021 NHL Draft. University of Michigan defenseman Owen Power topped the list of North American skaters while winger William Eklund of Djurgarden in the Swedish Hockey League leads all international skaters.

TSN: Sports agency PBI Sports announced it represents former Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford. The announcement is seen as Rutherford showing interest in returning to NHL management. Rutherford stepped down as Penguins GM in January.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 25, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – May 25, 2021

Could the Flyers land Dougie Hamilton via free agency this summer? Should the Rangers attempt to acquire Nazem Kadri from the Avalanche. What’s the latest on J.T. Miller? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

COULD THE FLYERS SIGN HAMILTON?

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall examined the possibility of the Flyers signing Dougie Hamilton. The Carolina Hurricanes defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton (NHL Images).

Signing Hamilton away from the Hurricanes won’t be easy. They finished among the league’s top teams this season and he’s in a good spot there. There’s mutual interest between Hamilton and Hurricanes management in getting a deal done.

The Flyers must also be cognizant that Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier will be due for new contracts after next season, with the latter due for a big raise.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hall cited Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher saying his club will have to get creative to address their roster issues. With over $69 million invested in 17 players for 2021-22 (as per Cap Friendly), that creativity will require freeing up sufficient cap room for someone like Hamilton without tying up too much for future signings like Couturier. That could prove too daunting a challenge.

SHOULD THE RANGERS PURSUE KADRI?

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks suggests the Rangers should consider acquiring Nazem Kadri if the Colorado Avalanche dangles the 30-year-old center on the trade market this summer. Kadri is serving his third playoff suspension in four years and the sixth overall in his nine NHL season.

Despite Kadri’s suspension history, Brooks thinks he could be the type of “nasty, jagged-edge, checking-type center who can score” that the Rangers need.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maybe Rangers GM Chris Drury would consider it if Kadri is shopped this summer. However, they would better off acquiring a physical forward who isn’t as reckless as the Avalanche center.

LATEST ON J.T. MILLER

THE PROVINCE: Steve Ewen reports the agent for Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller said his client loves Vancouver and hasn’t asked for a trade. Brian Bartlett said Miller “has loved Vancouver and we’ve never discussed him wanting out.” He added this stemmed from a meme with a fake quote attributed to his client.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman also cited a source over the weekend citing Miller saying he didn’t want to leave the Canucks. There could be some changes to the Canucks roster over the summer. Some players could be traded or bought out but Miller won’t be among them.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 24, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 24, 2021

The Bruins eliminated the Capitals, the Avalanche sweep the Blues, the Jets rally to put Oilers on the brink, and the Predators tie their series with the Hurricanes. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Patrice Bergeron scored twice and Tuukka Rask made 40 saves as the Boston Bruins defeated the Washington Capitals 3-1 to win their opening-round series 4 games to 1. David Pastrnak had a goal and an assist for the Bruins

Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins were strong on the power play and penalty kill in this series. Core veterans like Bergeron, Rask, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak led the way while Charlie McAvoy continues to grow as an elite defenseman.

The first three games of this series were very close and could’ve gone either way, but Washington failed to recover from their double-overtime loss in Game 3. Changes could be in store for the Capitals following three straight first-round playoff exits.

The Colorado Avalanche swept the St. Louis Blues in four games with a 5-2 victory. Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen each had a goal and an assist. Vladimir Tarasenko scored both goals for the Blues, who played without sidelined forward David Perron and defensemen Justin Faulk, Robert Bortuzzo and Vince Dunn.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The absence of those key players contributed to the Blues’ demise. Even if they had been in the lineup, however, they might’ve only delayed their club’s elimination by a game or two. Led by MacKinnon, Landeskog, and Rantanen, a deep blueline corps featuring Cale Makar and goaltender Philipp Grubauer, the Avalanche were just too powerful for St. Louis.

An overtime goal by Nikolaj Ehlers capped a four-goal rally as the Winnipeg Jets downed the Edmonton Oilers 5-4 to take a 3-0 lead in their first-round series. Ehlers scored twice while Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck made 44 saves. Leon Draisaitl scored two goals and Connor McDavid collected three assists. The Jets can close out the series in Game 4 tonight. Oilers forward Josh Archibald faces a hearing with the NHL department of player safety for clipping Jets defenseman Logan Stanley.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That was a stunning collapse by Edmonton. They had a 4-1 lead early in the third period and seemed to have this game under wraps.

The turning point was the Archibald penalty. The Jets tallied three goals in just over a three-minute span, including two goals 16 seconds apart by Blake Wheeler and Josh Morrissey to force the extra frame. The Oilers now face the daunting challenge of trying to overcome a 3-0 series deficit.

Nashville Predators winger Luke Kunin’s double-overtime goal gave his club a 4-3 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes to even their series at two games apiece. Kunin also scored the game-opening goal while teammate Juuse Saros made 58 saves for the win. Brock McGinn scored twice for the Hurricanes. The series shifts back to Carolina for Game 5 on Tuesday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the most entertaining game of the day for me. It was a see-saw contest as both clubs pushed hard for the win. With back-to-back double-overtime victories, the Predators overcame a 2-0 series deficit.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri will appeal his eight-game suspension for his hit to the head of Blues defenseman Justin Faulk.

TSN: Montreal Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber was fined $5,000.00 by the league for crosschecking Toronto Maple Leafs forward Wayne Simmonds in Game 2 on Saturday.