NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 27, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 27, 2021

Recaps of Friday’s action plus the latest on Auston Matthews, Jack Eichel, Vladimir Tarasenko and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Two goals in 12 seconds by Colin Blackwell and Chris Kreider lifted the New York Rangers to a 6-2 drubbing of the Boston Bruins in front of 1,800 fans at Madison Square Garden. Ryan Strome had a goal and two assists for the Rangers. Bruins’ captain Patrice Bergeron scored to collect his 889th career point, surpassing Bobby Orr for fifth on the club’s all-time points list while linemate Brad Marchand netted his 300th career goal. The Bruins have dropped four of their last five contests.

Minnesota Wild forward Kirill Kaprizov (NHL Images).

The Minnesota Wild picked up their fifth straight victory by downing the Los Angeles Kings 3-1, snapping the latter’s six-game win streak. Wild rookie Kirill Kaprizov scored his fifth of the season and leads the Wild and all NHL rookie skaters with 16 points in 17 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kaprizov must be considered the favorite to win the Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year. The smooth-skating 23-year-old is very entertaining to watch and a big reason why the Wild are playing so well of late.

Nazem Kadri had a goal and two assists as the Colorado Avalanche held off the Arizona Coyotes 3-2. Mikko Rantanen had a goal and an assist while rookie goalie Hunter Miska made 16 saves for this first NHL win.

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews is listed as day-to-day with an injured hand. Goaltender Frederik Andersen (lower-body injury) was on the ice yesterday ahead of Leafs practice while winger Joe Thornton and defenseman Jake Muzzin joined their teammates in practice.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews’ injury is reportedly considered a minor issue. He and his teammates are slated to meet the Edmonton Oilers tonight.

ESPN.COM: Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury while goaltender Linus Ullmark is expected to miss at least two games with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel’s absence could force Sabres coach Ralph Krueger to insert Jeff Skinner into the lineup. The struggling winger was a healthy scratch for the club’s last three games.

STLTODAY.COM: Vladimir Tarasenko could soon return to the Blues’ lineup before the club’s six-game road trip ends on March 8. The 29-year-old winger has been recovering from offseason shoulder surgery but is taking part in practice with his teammates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues have struggled of late so the return of their top sniper should provide a welcome boost to their offense. They’ll have to do some juggling with their salary cap space to make room for his $7.5 million annual salary-cap hit when he comes off long-term injury reserve.

THE ATHLETIC: Jim Rutherford told Pierre LeBrun he’s ready to work in the NHL only a month after suddenly stepping down as general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Rutherford insists he was “treated great” by the Penguins and has no regrets. He also said he has no geographical limitations on where he’d like to work.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford has a solid reputation around the NHL as one of the savviest general managers in the business. I doubt he’ll be unemployed for long.

NHL.COM: Former Montreal Canadiens general manager Irving Grundman passed away on Friday at age 93 following a short illness. He was the Habs GM from 1978-79 to 1982-83, winning the Stanley Cup in his first season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Grundman’s family, friends, and the Canadiens’ organization. During his tenure as GM he drafted future Hall-of-Famers Chris Chelios and Guy Carbonneau, as well as such noteworthy players as Mats Naslund, Craig Ludwig and Mike McPhee.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 17, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 17, 2021

Recaps of Tuesday’s action, the league reschedules more postponed game, an explosive report about turmoil within the Coyotes’ organization and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Nazem Kadri scored with 41 seconds remaining in regulation to lift the Colorado Avalanche over the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2. Nathan MacKinnon scored, Brandon Saad tallied a goal and picked up an assist and Philipp Grubauer made 27 saves for the win.

Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the most entertaining game of the night. It could be a preview of a potential playoff series between these two clubs.

The New York Islanders extended their points streak to eight games by blanking the Buffalo Sabres 3-0. Isles rookie goaltender Ilya Sorokin made 20 saves for his first NHL win and shutout while team captain Anders Lee scored twice. Anthony Beauvillier returned to the Islanders lineup after missing nine games with a lower-body injury.

Three unanswered goals in the third period gave the New Jersey Devils a 5-2 victory over the New York Rangers. Mackenzie Blackwood kicked out 37 shots and Janne Kuokkanen collected three assists in the Devils’ first game since Jan. 31. Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba left the game in the third period with an upper-body injury.

The Washington Capitals snapped a four-game losing skid by downing the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1. Vitek Vanacek made 26 saves, Jakub Vrana tallied what proved to be the game-winner and Richard Panik collected two assists. Penguins defenseman Marcus Pettersson returned to action after being sidelined for nine games.

Jonathan Quick turned in a 28-save shutout as the Los Angeles Kings blanked the Minnesota Wild 4-0. It was the Wild’s first game since Feb. 2 following a COVID-19 outbreak. They took to the ice with five regulars (Jonas Brodin, Brad Hunt, Victor Rask, Carson Soucy and Cam Talbot) still on the protocol list.

HEADLINES

THE ATHLETIC: Katie Strang reported on widespread turmoil and financial woes with the Arizona Coyotes organization. Her detailed investigation involving interviews with more than 50 people including current and former employees. Among the issues revealed were inquiries into the Coyotes’ finances (including unpaid invoices, delays in paying bonuses to players and accusations of breach of contract) and complaints of dysfunctional workplace culture.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes released a statement condemning Strang’s report, accusing The Athletic of engaging in a “harassment campaign” and questioning the reliance on what the club deemed “disgruntled ex-employees.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Strang is a well-respected hockey reporter who did considerable research into this story. This wasn’t harassment, it was journalism. The issues examined in her report are serious and have been bubbling for some time. raising legitimate concerns about the Coyotes’ ownership and the club’s future in Arizona.

The NHL announced widespread changes to its schedule. Twenty-nine postponed games have been rescheduled while another six are expected to be rescheduled in the near future.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The NHL postponed a second straight game between the Stars and Nashville Predators due to ongoing power issues in Dallas stemming from a major winter storm.










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.