The Golden Knights defeat the Canadiens in the opening game of their semifinal series, the Rangers hire Gerard Gallant as head coach, the Hurricanes allow Dougie Hamilton to speak with other clubs, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made 28 saves for his 90th career playoff win in a 4-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens in Game 1 of their semifinal series. Defensemen provided the bulk of the scoring for Vegas with Shea Theodore, Alec Martinez and Nick Holden tallying three of their four goals. Cole Caufield replied for Montreal with his first career playoff tally. Game 2 goes Wednesday in Las Vegas.
Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights withstood a good start by Montreal, scored the opening goal, and took control of the game in the second period. Canadiens goalie Carey Price played well and made some big saves, but three of the four goals against him resulted from the Golden Knights’ moving him side-to-side with their quick puck movement. The Habs successfully killed four penalties but that disrupted their game plan, which the Golden Knights exploited to their advantage.
NEW YORK POST: The Rangers have hired Gerard Gallant as their new head coach. The 2018 Jack Adams Award winner recently guided Canada to a gold medal at the World Championships in Latvia.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gallant has a proven body of work as an NHL head coach. He’s taking over a Rangers club laden with good young talent and a promising future.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reported the Carolina Hurricanes have granted permission to Dougie Hamilton to speak with other clubs. The 27-year-old defenseman is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 28. This could set the stage for a potential sign-and-trade scenario, though it also allows Hamilton the opportunity to return to the Hurricanes if he doesn’t receive better offers on the open market.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As Friedman observes, this is an interesting maneuver by Hamilton and the Hurricanes. Prior to the extension of the CBA last year, pending UFAs were allowed several weeks to speak with interested clubs before the free-agent market opened. That’s no longer the case. It’ll be interesting to see if others teams will follow this example. I’ll have more on Hamilton’s situation in today’s Rumor Mill.
NHL.COM: Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne is this year’s winner of the King Clancy Memorial Trophy.
NEW YORK POST: Islanders forward Oliver Wahlstrom is almost fully recovered from the lower-body injury suffered during their first-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins. However, he may have to wait to get back into the lineup as Travis Zajac has done a good job in his stead.
Hearing the @BuffaloSabres would like to interview Jack Capuano for head coaching position, but the @Senators are not allowing him the opportunity.
The Canadiens widen their series lead over the Jets, the Golden Knights rally to get back into their series with the Avalanche, plus the latest on Mark Scheifele, Evgeni Malkin, Max Domi and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Carey Price turned in a 30-save shutout and Tyler Toffoli netted the only goal as the Montreal Canadiens blanked the Winnipeg Jets 1-0. The Canadiens hold a 2-0 lead in the series, which shifts to Montreal for Game 3 on Sunday. The Jets were without Mark Scheifele (four-game suspension), Paul Stastny (undisclosed injury) and Dylan DeMelo (lower body).
Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens were the better team in this game. They did an effective job shutting down the Jets’ offense. The Habs have now won five straight games stretching back to their first-round series with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Vegas Golden Knights got third-period goals from Jonathan Marchessault and Max Pacioretty 45 seconds apart to defeat the Colorado Avalanche 3-2. Colorado goaltender Philipp Grubauer kicked out 40 shots in a losing cause. The Avs hold a 2-1 series lead with Game 4 slated for Sunday in Denver.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights have outshot the Avalanche 84-45 over the last two games. Many of the Avs’ best players weren’t at their best in this contest. Grubauer’s been brilliant but he’s going to need more help from his teammates or this series will be tied on Sunday evening.
WINNIPEG SUN: Jets center Mark Scheifele said he was shocked by what he considered an excessive four-game suspension for his hit on Canadiens center Jake Evans in Game 1 on Wednesday. However, he won’t appeal the suspension. He also expressed his unhappiness over the hate his family received on social media following the incident. Evans, meanwhile, is sidelined indefinitely with a concussion.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s one thing to criticize Scheifele for his hit on Evans. He brought that upon himself and must face the consequences for his actions. It’s another to drag his family into this. There’s no justification for that at all.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin underwent surgery on his right knee. He’s expected to be available for the start of Penguins training camp in mid-September.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Malkin suffered the initial injury in early March, missing 23 regular-season games. He reinjured his knee during the club’s final game of the regular season, missing two of their six playoff games against the New York Islanders.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets center Max Domi will be sidelined five-to-six months following surgery to repair a labral tear in his right shoulder.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could explain the decline in Domi’s performance this season. He had just 24 points in 54 games this season with the Jackets.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury but hasn’t been ruled out for Game 4 against the New York Islanders tonight.
NHL.COM: San Jose Sharks winger Kurtis Gabriel, Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne and New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban are the finalist for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy.
The Lightning takes a 2-0 series lead over the Panthers, the Penguins and Golden Knights tie their respective series, the King Clancy Memorial Trophy nominees are announced, the Red Wings re-sign Jeff Blashill and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Andrei Vasilevskiy made 32 saves to backstop the Tampa Bay Lightning over the Florida Panthers 3-1. Tampa Bay leads the series 2-0. Steven Stamkos, Ondrej Palat and Yanni Gourde scored for the Lightning while Mason Marchment replied for the Panthers. The series shifts to Tampa Bay for Game 3 on Thursday.
Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vasilevskiy was the difference maker as the Lightning took an early 2-0 lead. The Panthers outshot the Bolts 24-13 over the second and third periods but could only get one shot past the former Vezina Trophy winner.
Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry made 37 saves as his club held on for a 2-1 win over the New York Islanders to even their series at a game apiece. The Penguins got first-period goals from Bryan Rust and Jeff Carter while Josh Bailey replied for the Isles in the second period. The series shifts to Long Island for Game 3 on Thursday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A solid bounce-back effort for Jarry following his shaky performance in Game 1. Isles goalie Semyon Varlamov looked rusty in the early going as he returned to action after missing a week with a lower-body injury.
Marc-Andre Fleury kicked out 34 shots and Alex Tuch scored twice as the Vegas Golden Knights tamed the Minnesota Wild 3-1 to tie their series 1-1. Jonathan Marchessault also scored for Vegas while the Wild’s Matt Dumba opened the scoring. The series moves to Minnesota for Game 3 on Thursday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Strong goaltending was the theme for the winning teams on Tuesday. Fleury also played well in his club’s 1-0 overtime loss in Game 1.
The Vancouver Canucks doubled up the Calgary Flames 4-2 in their second-to-last regular-season contest. Canucks netminder Thatcher Demko made 38 saves while Brock Boeser, Tyler Myers and Travis Hamonic each had a goal and an assist. The two clubs will play their season finale tonight.
NHL.COM: Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel, Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby and Toronto Maple Leafs center John Tavares are among this season’s 31 nominees for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy.
MLIVE.COM: The Detroit Red Wings agreed to a contract extension with head coach Jeff Blashill. Details were not released. Blashill’s current contract was to expire at the end of this season. Meanwhile, the Wings announced captain Dylan Larkin is recovering from an undisclosed injury and is expected to be ready for the start of 2021-22.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wings also revealed assistant coach Dan Bylsma won’t be back. Wings general manager Steve Yzerman believes the club’s improvement this season earned Blashill at least another year behind the bench.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Vancouver Canucks have informed GM Jim Benning will return next season.
THE PROVINCE: There’s speculation former Canucks stars Daniel and Henrik Sedin could return to the club in front-office roles. Meanwhile, there’s still no indication if head coach Travis Green will receive a contract extension.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The news of Benning’s return won’t please his critics. Meanwhile, uncertainty remains over Green’s future in Vancouver. Benning signaled his intent in January to sign Green to a contract extension but he’s gone quiet in recent weeks about those negotiations.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Young Canadiens Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Alexander Romanov and Cole Caufield will be scratched from Game 1 of their upcoming series-opening game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme wants to go with a more experienced lineup to open the series but benching those kids isn’t sitting well with Habs fans on social media. Their unhappiness will grow if that veteran-laden lineup drops Game 1 to the Leafs.
Speaking of the Canadiens, the province of Quebec will be easing some COVID-19 restrictions later this month. As a result, the Habs could have 2,500 fans at the Bell Centre for Game 6 against the Leafs on May 29.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s assuming there is a Game 6. The Leafs are the heavy favorites in this series. Most experts predict they’ll eliminate the Habs in four or five games.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins defenseman Jeremy Lauzon will miss Game 3 tonight against the Washington Capitals with an injured hand. He’s listed as day-to-day. Blueliner Kevan Miller suffered a cut in Game 2 but will be in the lineup for tonight’s contest.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers have parted ways with Scott Gordon and Kerry Huffman. Gordon was head coach of their AHL affiliate while Huffman was the assistant coach.
THE QMJHL: The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League announced Guy Lafleur’s No. 4 will be retired across the league starting next season. Lafleur wore that number when he starred with the Quebec Remparts from 1969 to 1971 before becoming the first-overall pick by the Montreal Canadiens in the 1971 draft.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Former Canadiens defenseman and NHL player agent Gilles Lupien passed away yesterday from cancer at age 67. He won two Stanley Cups with the Habs in 1978 and 1979, playing 226 career NHL games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Lupien’s family, friends, former teammates and clients.
Recaps of Friday’s action, Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask opts out of return-to-play, the King Clancy Memorial Trophy finalists are announced, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat (Photo via NHL Images)
NHL.COM: Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat opened and finished the scoring as he led his club to a 4-3 overtime victory over the St. Louis Blues, taking a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven opening-round series. Horvat’s game-winner came after the Blues’ Jaden Schwartz tied the game in the dying seconds of regulation. Canucks forwards Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser each had two points, as did the Blues’ Alex Pietrangelo and David Perron.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues outhit the Canucks 41-27 but struggled at times to keep up with their speedy young opponents. They’re also getting no production from sniper Vladimir Tarasenko. The Canucks have an opportunity to take a stranglehold on this series in Game 3 on Sunday.
Tomas Tatar and Jesperi Kotkaniemi each scored twice as the Montreal Canadiens thumped the Philadelphia Flyers 5-0 to square their first-round series at one game apiece. Carey Price kicked out 30 shots for his second shutout of the postseason. Flyers winger Travis Konecny left the game in the third period after injuring his left foot blocking a shot.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Determined to win this game for sidelined coach Claude Julien, the Canadiens came out flying with a rare dominating performance. Flyers coach Alain Vigneault expressed his displeasure following the game over Habs interim coach Kirk Muller putting his top power-play unit on the ice late in the game. Muller said it was merely to give a little more work to his club’s erratic play with the man advantage.
Vigneault indicated he’d try to use that as motivation for his players in Game 3. If that’s his intended rallying point, the Flyers could be in worse shape than we thought. They’re a better team than what we’ve seen thus far in this series, but most of their scoring forwards have fired blanks thus far in this postseason. If those players don’t start scoring soon, the Flyers could be in big trouble against the underdog Habs.
Calgary Flames goaltender Cam Talbot made 35 saves to shut out the Dallas Stars 2-0 in Game 3 of their series, putting his club up two games to one. Mikael Backlund and T.J. Brodie were the goalscorers for the Flames, who hope to have sidelined winger Matthew Tkachuk back in their lineup for Game 3 on Sunday. Earlier in the day, the Flames announced forward Austin Czarnik has returned home to attend to a personal matter.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Talbot stole this one for the Flames, as the Stars dominated the play for most of this contest. They were also their own worst enemies, missing several quality scoring chances.
Three unanswered goals by Brock Nelson, Cal Clutterbuck, and Anders Lee powered the New York Islanders over the Washington Capitals 5-2, giving the Isles a 2-0 series lead. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin tallied both goals for his club.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders were the better-disciplined team in this contest, as the Capitals were sloppy defensively and took too many unnecessary penalties. Without a better effort in Game 3, the Caps could fall into a hole too deep to climb out of against the determined Isles.
The Colorado Avalanche took a 2-0 series lead over the Arizona Coyotes with a 3-2 victory. Andre Burakovsky snapped a 2-2 tie with 2:53 remaining in regulation.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a disappointing defeat for the Coyotes, who had a strong bounce-back effort after being dominated by the Avs in Game 1. Game 3 now becomes a must-win for the Desert Dogs.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask has opted out of participating further in the return-to-play plan. In a statement released by the team, Rask indicated he’s making the decision for family reasons. “I want to be with my teammates competing, but at this moment there are things more important than hockey in my life, and that is being with my family.” Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said Rask’s priorities are in the right order, noting the goalie had a newborn baby daughter born just months ahead of the return-to-play in Toronto.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Losing their starting goaltender is a significant blow for the Bruins in the midst of their opening-round series with the Carolina Hurricanes. Backup Jaroslav Halak will take over the starter’s role, and NBC Sports suggests Daniel Vladar will be Halak’s understudy.
Some will rush to criticize Rask’s actions, but we don’t know the full story other than it’s for family reasons. He may have found being isolated from his family for weeks simply too difficult to bear. The Bruins and the league are respecting his decision. We should too.
Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba, New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, and New Jersey Devils blueliner P.K. Subban are the finalists for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy, presented annually to the player “who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community.”
THE BOSTON GLOBE: Bruins winger David Pastrnak didn’t practice yesterday and remains uncertain for Game 3 today against the Carolina Hurricanes. The 48-goal scorer was unfit to play in Game 2 following an apparent left injury in the previous game.
TSN: The Florida Panthers plan to interview former Los Angeles Kings assistant GM Mike Futa as they search for a replacement for former general manager Dale Tallon.
TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs have let go of assistant coaches Paul McFarland and Andrew Brewer.
WGR550: The Buffalo Sabres are reportedly hiring Seth Appert as head coach of their AHL affiliate in Rochester.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Kings have suspended the mascot actor who performs as team mascot Bailey. He is being investigated for alleged sexual misconduct.
Exhibition games begin today, there were no positive COVID-19 tests during the final week of training camp, plus the latest on Max Pacioretty, Dougie Hamilton, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Exhibition play for Phase 4 of the return-to-play plan begins today in the hub cities of Edmonton and Toronto. The Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins face off at 4 pm ET, followed by the Toronto Maple Leafs taking on the Montreal Canadiens at 8 pm ET at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. In Edmonton, the Oilers tangle with the Calgary Flames at 10:30 pm ET at Rogers Place.
Rogers Place in Edmonton (NHL.com).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: These could be the most-watched exhibition games in NHL history. It will provide hockey fans a first glimpse of what the upcoming playoff tournament will look like under bubble conditions without fans.
SPORTSNET: The NHL yesterday announced it received no positive COVID-19 tests from the 4,256 tests among over 800 players during the final week of Phase 3 training camp.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a total of two positive tests during Phase 3. That’s still no assurance a COVID-19 outbreak won’t take place during the playoffs. Nevertheless, it’s a very promising sign as the 24 teams prepare to face off for Phase 4 under stricter quarantine conditions.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Vegas Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty didn’t travel with his teammates to Edmonton for the upcoming playoff tournament. He’s recovering from a minor injury that kept him out of the final week of training camp.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pacioretty is expected to travel to the Edmonton bubble at a later date. He will undergo a brief quarantine requiring four negative COVID-19 tests before he can rejoin his teammates.
THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton missed practice in Toronto yesterday. He’s been listed as unfit to participate. Hamilton hasn’t skated since leaving practice on Wednesday in some discomfort.
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad returned to the ice on Monday after missing the last three practice sessions. He’ll be held out of Wednesday’s exhibition game against the Tampa Bay Lightning for precautionary reasons.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins winger Ondrej Kase didn’t travel with his teammates to Toronto on Sunday and there’s no indication when he’ll rejoin the club. He missed all of the Bruins’ training camp and remains listed as unfit to play.
NHL.COM: Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel, Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price, and Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby are among the 31 nominees for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy. The award honors “the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution to his community.”
NEW YORK POST: The son of former NHL defenseman Barry Beck was fatally stabbed over the weekend in Binbrook, Ontario. Brock Beck, 20, was pronounced dead in hospital following a confrontation with unidentified suspects.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to the Beck family. Here’s hoping the suspects are quickly captured and feel the full penalty of the law.