NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 23, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 23, 2018

Penguins and Predators advance to second round of the playoffs, Calder Trophy nominees revealed and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: A four-goal performance by Jake Guentzel propelled the Pittsburgh Penguins to a wild series-clinching 8-5 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. The Penguins took the series in six gamd and await the winner of the Columbus Blue Jackets -Washington Capitals series.  At one point the Flyers held a 4-2 lead in this game until Guentzel and Patric Hornqvist tied the score in the second period, setting the stage for Guentzel’s three-goal outburst in the third. 

Jake Guentzel’s four-goal performance powered the Pittsburgh Penguins to a series-clinching 8-5 win over the Philadelphia Flyers (Photo via NHL Images)

Flyers forward Sean Couturier tallied a hat trick playing with a torn MCL that should’ve sidelined him for weeks. Fortunately, Couturier won’t require surgery and is expected to be fully healed in time for training in September. Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov played with a shoulder injury suffered in Game 5.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s only fitting that the highest-scoring series in the opening round should end like that. Five of the six games saw the winning team tally five goals or more. Guentzel and Couturier both finished this game with five points. It was a gutsy performance by Couturier, who was his team’s best player in both of the last games despite his injured knee. 

Pekka Rinne had a 22-save shutout performance and Nick Bonino tallied a goal and two assists as the Colorado Avalanche blanked the Nashville Predators 5-0 to win their opening-round series in six games. The Predators will face the Winnipeg Jets in the second round.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The underdog Avalanche were a difficult opponent but the Predators were simply too strong. The stage is set for what should be an entertaining series between the Predators and the Jets. 

New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal, Vancouver Canucks forward Brock Boeser and Arizona Coyotes forward Clayton Keller are this year’s finalists for the Calder Memorial Trophy.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All three are worthwhile candidates but I anticipate Barzal will be the winner. He was the leading scorer among this year’s rookies by a wide margin




LA KINGS INSIDER: Defenseman Slava Voynov could attempt to return to the NHL next season, but it will require a proceeding before NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. Voynov was suspended indefinitely following his Oct. 2014 arrest on domestic assault charges. He spent the past three seasons in the KHL. 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 19, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 19, 2018

Sharks eliminate Ducks, Selke Trophy nominees revealed and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The San Jose Sharks are the second team to advance to the second round of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Martin Jones made 30 saves and Tomas Hertl scored the game winner as the Sharks edged the Anaheim Ducks 2-1 to sweep their best-of-seven opening-round series. The Sharks will face the Vegas Golden Knights in the second round.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sharks did a fine job neutralizing the Ducks offense, limiting them to just four goals in this series. That lack of production has already spurred some speculation suggesting Ducks general manager Bob Murray might shake up his roster core this summer. 

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby tallied a goal and an assist to pass Mario Lemieux as his club’s all-time playoff scorer as the Penguins blanked the Philadelphia Flyers 5-0 to take a 3-1 lead in their opening-round series. Pittsburgh goaltender Matt Murray made 26 saves to pick up his second shutout of the series. Phil Kessel and Evgeni Malkin also each had a goal and an assist. The Penguins can wrap up the series in Game 5 on Friday night in Pittsburgh.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Malkin got the game winner but Kessel’s goal was the backbreaker. Until that point, the Flyers had sustained pressure on the Penguins in hopes of tying the game. Once Kessel made it 2-0, the Flyers were finished. 

Nikita Kucherov’s three-point performance lead the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 3-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils in Game 4 of their opening-round series (Photo via NHL Images).

Nikita Kucherov scored twice and set up another to lead the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 3-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils, taking a 3-1 lead in their best-of-seven series. Kucherov also laid out Devils defenseman Sami Vatanen with a thunderous check, forcing Vatanen from the game with an upper-body injury. The Lightning can finish off the series in Game 5 on Saturday in Tampa Bay.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils didn’t do themselves any favors on the power play. While they successfully killed five penalties, they cashed in just once in six attempts with the man advantage. 

The Nashville Predators hung on for a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche to take a 3-1 lead in their series. The Preds took a 3-0 lead, thanks in part to another highlight-reel goal by Filip Forsberg, and held off a third-period surge by Colorado. Avs goaltender Jonathan Bernier left the game with a lower-body injury at the start of the third period and was replaced by Andrew Hammond. The Predators can clinch the series with a win on Friday in Nashville. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Give the Avalanche credit for their “never-say-die” attitude throughout this series. They’ve been a feisty opponent for the heavily favored Predators. 

Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron, Philadelphia Flyers center Sean Couturier and Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar are this year’s nominees for the Selke Trophy as the NHL’s top defensive forward. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Bergeron wins it’ll be his fifth Selke award, surpassing Hall-of-Famer Bob Gainey. 

The NHL department of player safety handed down a one-game suspension to Winnipeg Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey for cross-checking Minnesota Wild center Eric Staal. 

TORONTO STAR: Maple Leafs forward Leo Komarov (lower-body injury) will miss Game 4 tonight against the Boston Bruins. 

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers approached goaltender Henrik Lundqvist to give him the option of being moved by the trade deadline. “We told Hank that if he didn’t want to ride it out through this process, we’d find a good landing place for him,” said team president Jim Dolan. Lundqvist, however, said he wanted to stay and be part of the club’s rebuilding process. “I’m very happy that’s the way he feels. I think with him at the top of his game, that gives us our best chance of competing for a playoff spot next year,” said Dolan.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens forward Paul Byron underwent surgery on his right shoulder and could be sidelined up to six months. 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 17, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 17, 2018

Playoff game recaps, injury updates and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The San Jose Sharks tallied seven unanswered goals to crush the Anaheim Ducks 8-1 in Game 3 of their opening-round match-up, taking a 3-0 series lead and pushing the Ducks to the brink of elimination. Forwards Logan Couture and Joonas Donskoi each had a goal and two assists for the Sharks, who can close out the series with a win in Game 4 on Thursday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the most lopsided playoff defeat for the Ducks in franchise history. Undisciplined play proved costly in this game, but their lack of scoring punch in this series (three goals in as many games) remains their biggest weakness.

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen’s 40-save performance backstopped his club to a 4-2 win over the Boston Bruins in Game 3 of their opening-round series (Photo via NHL Images).

Patrick Marleau scored twice and Frederik Andersen made 40 saves as the Toronto Maple Leafs doubled up the Boston Bruins 4-2 in Game 3 of their opening-round series, cutting the latter’s series lead to 2-1.  The Leafs were playing without forward Leo Komarov, who was sidelined by a lower-body injury. Game 4 goes Thursday night in Toronto.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After being steamrolled in the first two games, the Leafs put forth a much better effort in this contest. They shut down the Bruins top-scoring line, thanks in part to solid goaltending from Andersen, including an amazing stick save on Bruins winger David Pastrnak late in the third period. 

A four-goal third period powered the New Jersey Devils to a 5-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 3 of their first-round series. Cory Schneider got his first start of the series and turned aside 34 shots, while winger Taylor Hall scored a goal and set up two others. Tampa Bay winger Ryan Callahan missed this game with a suspected right-shoulder injury. The Lightning hold a 2-1 series lead, with Game 4 slated for Wednesday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Schneider was solid in this contest, shrugging off an apparent leg injury in the third period to finish the game. The Devils played a much better team game, driving the Lightning to distraction and forcing them into undisciplined penalties. 

Nathan MacKinnon scored twice as the Colorado Avalanche jumped to a 4-0 lead on route to a 5-3 victory over the Nashville Predators in Game 3 of their opening-round series. The Predators hold a 2-1 series lead, with Game 4 set for Wednesday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avs once again opened the scoring but this time they were able to build on that early lead. They also chased Nashville starter Pekka Rinne from the net after he gave up four goals on 15 shots. 

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets coach Paul Maurice provided no update yesterday on the status of defenseman Tyler Myers, who suffered an apparent leg injury in Game 3 of their series against the Minnesota Wild. Myers is considered doubtful for Game 4 tonight in Minnesota. The Jets hold a 2-1 lead in that series. 

WASHINGTON POST: Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky (upper-body injury) is expected to miss Games 3 and 4 of his club’s series with the Columbus Blue Jackets. 

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters has until Friday to exercise the exit clause in his contract. He has one year remaining on his current deal worth $1.6 million in salary. Hurricanes president and interim general manager Don Waddell confirmed some team have contacted the club asking permission to speak to Peters. 


NHL Rumor Mill – January 4, 2017

NHL Rumor Mill – January 4, 2017

Is Matt Duchene a more likely trade candidate than Gabriel Landeskog?

Latest on the Colorado Avalanche, Chicago Blackhawks and Toronto Maple Leafs in your NHL rumor mill. 

FANRAG SPORTS: Chris Nichols cites NHL insider Bob McKenzie telling Vancouver’s TSN 1040 that something’s got to give for the struggling Colorado Avalanche. He believes a trade is more likely, but declined to suggest which moves the Avs could make. McKenzie believes they’re considering all options.

While noting defense is a concern, McKenzie cautions that trading a core forward such as Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene or Nathan MacKinnon to address that need could create a problem elsewhere in the lineup. 

McKenzie’s colleague Darren Dreger told Montreal’s TSN 690 he suspects Avalanche GM Joe Sakic is more inclined to move Duchene than Landeskog. He does note there was talk regarding Landeskog between Sakic and a Western Conference GM before last year’s draft lottery, suggesting a defenseman going to the Avs as part of a package, but the talk fizzled out.

Dreger doesn’t rule out a major trade for someone like Duchene by the March 1 trade deadline for the right collection of draft picks or young prospects. 

JOURNAL DE MONTREAL: Yvon Pedneault reports Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin is monitoring the trade market for any potential depth to add to his defense or at center. Pedneault suggests the Avalanche could be an interesting target for Bergevin. 

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports the Avs have told teams not to ask about MacKinnon or promising Mikko Rantanen. He claims the asking price for Duchene is quite high. The Avs seek “legit young defencemen or defensive prospects.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Duchene or Landeskog could be dealt by the March 1 trade deadline. However, there aren’t many teams with the depth in young blueliners with the cap space to take on either contract. Duchene’s annual cap hit is $6 million, Landeskog’s $5.5 million. As I’ve recently observed, the Carolina Hurricanes are the only team that suitably fits the bill, but there’s no certainty GM Ron Francis wants to part with any of his young blueliners. If either guy is dealt, I still think it’ll happen near the June draft. 

Friedman also reports the Chicago Blackhawks are seeking someone to play alongside center and team captain Jonathan Toews as winger Marian Hossa battles injury.

BLEACHER REPORT’s Adrian Dater reports via Twitter the Blackhawks are considering Avalanche right wing Jarome Iginla as a depth addition in case Hossa or another player is sidelined. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks don’t have a lot of cap space right now and Iginla’s cap hit is $5.5 million. They might have to wait until the trade deadline to squeeze him under their cap ceiling. 

TSN:  Darren Dreger wonders what could be in store for the Toronto Maple Leafs at the March trade deadline if they’re in contention for a playoff berth. Do they ship out key assets, such as forwards James van Riemsdyk, Leo Komarov and Tyler Bozak, for a return that bolsters their future?

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Leafs are still jockeying for a playoff spot by March 1, I doubt they’ll ship out those guys. If anything, I could see them shopping for one or two affordable (in both salary and return) rental players. Should the Leafs decide to move those players, I suspect they’ll wait until the offseason when they’ll get a better return.