NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 27, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 27, 2022

The Oilers eliminate the Flames, the Hurricanes push the Rangers to the brink of elimination, updates on the Avalanche and Blues and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Edmonton Oilers are heading to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in 16 years. Connor McDavid’s overtime goal gave the Oilers a 5-4 victory over the Calgary Flames in Game 5 to take their best-of-seven second-round series four games to one.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (NHL Images).

Edmonton overcame a 2-0 deficit and held a 3-2 lead before Calgary battled back to regain the lead 4-3. Oilers defenseman Evan Bouchard tied the game 4-4 late in the second period. Flames forward Blake Coleman appeared to score the go-ahead goal late in the third but it was overruled on a controversial video review claiming he kicked the puck into the net.

Leon Drasaitl collected four assists while Zach Hyman had a goal and two assists for the Oilers. Coleman had two assists, Mikael Backlund had a goal and an assist and Johnny Gaudreau scored for the Flames.

The Oilers await the winner of the Colorado Avalanche-St. Louis Blues series. Game 6 of that series is tonight with the Avalanche up three games to two.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t have a dog in this fight but that didn’t look like a kicking motion on Coleman’s part. His skate made contact with the pick but there was incidental contact by an Oilers defenseman as Coleman was heading toward the net. Just my two cents. The league’s video review folks believed differently.

While that disallowed goal cost the Flames this game, their sloppy defensive play and uncharacteristic shaky goaltending from Jacob Markstrom throughout this series led to their postseason demise. They struggled to contain Edmonton’s offense, especially McDavid and Draisaitl. Had they won this game, I doubt they would’ve gone on to take the series.

The Carolina Hurricanes have the New York Rangers on the brink of elimination following a 3-1 victory in Game 5 of their second-round series. Teuvo Teravainen snapped a 1-1 tie in the second period while Andrei Svechnikov’s third-period goal put the game out of reach. The Hurricanes can advance to the Eastern Conference Finals with a win in Game 6 on Saturday in New York.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes have yet to win a road game in this postseason but they’ve been dominating on home ice. They outshot the Rangers 34-17, controlled this game at even strength, scored on the power play and shorthanded, and apart from Mika Zibanejad’s goal overwhelmed the Rangers’ top line. If they can carry over that effort into Game 6, they’ll have a date with the Tampa Bay Lightning starting next week.

HEADLINE

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche hope to avoid a Game 7 when they face off against the St. Louis Blues in Game 6 of their second-round series tonight. Head coach Jared Bednar believes his club will put their blown lead in Game 5 behind them and play with confidence in tonight’s contest.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche dominated the first 40 minutes of Game 5 but took their foot off the gas and tried to protect their lead in the third period. That enabled the Blues to rally back twice, setting the stage for their dramatic overtime victory.

TSN: Don’t expect St. Louis Blues defenseman Torey Krug to return to action in tonight’s game. He’s been sidelined by a lower-body injury since Game 3 of their first-round series with the Minnesota Wild. Blues coach Craig Berube indicated Krug would also be out for Game 7 if this series goes that far.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin has changed agents, hiring Pat Brisson to negotiate his next contract. Larkin is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in 2023. The Wings can sign him to a contract extension on July 13.

SPORTSNET: Los Angeles Kings defenseman Sean Durzi underwent successful shoulder surgery. He’s expected to be ready for the start of the 2022-23 season.

The Geneve-Servette Hockey Club signed former NHL defenseman Sami Vatanen to a two-year contract and former NHL forward Valtteri Filppula to a one-year contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, don’t expect either guy to be signing with NHL teams this summer as free agents.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 7, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 7, 2022

The Bruins bounce back against the Hurricanes while the Leafs, Oilers and Wild take 2-1 leads in their respective first-round series. Details and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Boston Bruins doubled up the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2 in Game 3 to pick up their first win of the series. The Hurricanes now hold a 2-1 lead in their best-of-seven first-round series. Brad Marchand had a goal and two assists, David Pastrnak and Charlie Coyle each had two points while rookie goaltender Jeremy Swayman made 25 saves for his first-ever NHL playoff victory. Game 4 will be on Sunday, May 8.

Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The reunited “Perfection Line” of Marchand, Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron made their presence felt in this contest. Swayman showed no sign of nerves stepping into this contest after being the backup in the first two games.

There was a scary moment for NHL off-ice official Joe Foley as a pane of glass was accidentally knocked loose by Bruins fans and fell on him while he was working in the penalty box. He was taken off on a stretcher and sent to a local hospital for observation, where he is reportedly all right and is expected to recover.

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell made 32 saves to help his club hold off the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2 in Game 3 of their opening round series. They led Tampa Bay two games to one. Pierre Engvall collected three assists while Ilya Mikheyev tallied twice for the Leafs. Ondrej Palat had a goal and an assist for the Lightning. The two clubs square off in Game 4 on Sunday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning cut Toronto’s 3-0 lead to 3-2 early in the third period but Campbell’s goaltending and Mikheyev’s two late goals sealed the win. The Leafs’ depth players stepped one as their big guns (Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander and John Tavares) were held to just one assist in this contest.

The Edmonton Oilers got a hat trick from Evander Kane in their 8-2 drubbing of the Los Angeles Kings in Game 3 to go up 2-1 in their first-round series. Zach Hyman and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins each scored two goals and an assist while Mike Smith turned in a 44-save performance for the win. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick got the hook after giving up four goals on 17 shots.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After a narrow 4-3 loss in Game 1, the Oilers have outscored Los Angeles 14-2 over the next two games. This series will be over quickly at this rate if the Kings fail to neutralize the Oilers’ offense. They’ll get the opportunity in Game 4 on Sunday.

Minnesota Wild netminder Mark-Andre Fleury made 29 saves to backstop his club to a 5-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues in Game 3 to go up two games to one in their first-round series. Jordan Greenway opened the scoring just 39 seconds into the first period. Kirill Kaprizov and Joel Eriksson Ek each had a goal and an assist for the Wild.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues’ banged-up blueline suffered another blow as defenseman Torey Krug left the game with a lower-body injury. They were already playing without Robert Bortuzzo and Nick Leddy as both are sidelined by upper-body injuries.

HEADLINES

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Penguins backup goaltender Casey DeSmith underwent core-muscle surgery on Friday and is out for the remainder of the playoffs. With starter Tristan Jarry still rehabbing an injured foot, the Penguins will turn to Louis Domingue in Game 3. Domingue replaced DeSmith during their series-opening 4-3 triple overtime win over the New York Rangers. The series is tied at a game apiece with Game 3 on Saturday in Pittsburgh.

TRIBLIVE.COM: In other Penguins news, winger Jason Zucker (lower-body injury) will be a game-time decision for Game 3. Winger Rickard Rakell (upper-body injury) and defenseman Brian Dumoulin (lower body) are listed as day-to-day.

ESPN.COM: Nashville Predators starter Juuse Saros has been ruled out for Saturday’s Game 3 against the Colorado Avalanche. Connor Ingram is expected to get the start for the Predators, who are down 2-0 to the Avalanche in their first-round series.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ingram made 49 saves in a 2-1 overtime loss in Game 2. He must maintain that level of performance and hope his teammates’ popgun offense can improve if the Predators are to get back into this series.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals winger Tom Wilson remains day-to-day with a lower-body injury. It’s uncertain if they’ll start Vitek Vanecek or Ilya Samsonov in goal tonight for Game 3 against the Florida Panthers.

THE ATHLETIC: Vegas Golden Knights captain Mark Stone will undergo further tests and research to attempt to address a nagging back injury that hampered his performance this season.

DAILY FACEOFF: cited Cap Friendly indicating only six teams (Bruins, Lightning, Golden Knights, Calgary Flames, Seattle Kraken, and Winnipeg Jets) will have the full $82.5 million salary-cap payrolls to spend in 2022-23. Fourteen clubs will be affected by performance bonuses exceeding this season’s $81.5 million cap and being applied to next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Click on the link above for the full list. It ranges from as low as $25K (Avalanche) to as high as $1.25 million (Vancouver Canucks).

OTTAWA SUN: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said there isn’t a “for sale” sign in front of the Senators. There was speculation the club could be sold following the death of owner Eugene Melnyk in March. Bettman said it will be up to Melnyk’s daughters what they wish to do but indicated the club isn’t on the market and there are “no problems”.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators are being by a three-man group that has had a hand in running the club for several years. They will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

TSN: Speaking of Bettman, he said former NHL coach Joel Quenneville hasn’t approached him about returning behind the bench. Quenneville resigned as coach of the Florida Panthers last fall for his role in the Chicago Blackhawks’ mishandling of Kyle Beach’s sexual assault allegations against a former video coach in 2010. Part of the conditions surrounding any plan for his return to the NHL coaching ranks is approval from the league commissioner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There were recent rumors Quenneville was either contemplating a return or that a club was interested in hiring him.

NHL.COM: The dates for the announcements of the NHL Award finalists have been released, starting with the James Norris Memorial Trophy on Monday, May 9. Click the link for the complete list. The winners will be revealed during the Conference Finals and the Stanley Cup Final.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 12, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 12, 2022

The Jets keep their playoff hopes alive, Evgeni Malkin is suspended, Drew Doughty is done for the season, the three stars of the week and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Winnipeg Jets got third-period goals from Evgeny Svechnikov and Adam Lowry to double up the Montreal Canadiens 4-2 in the only game on Monday’s schedule. Jets forward Paul Stastny reached the 20-goal plateau for the first time since 2013-14. With the win, the Jets (81 points) move to within five points of the Dallas Stars for the final Western Conference playoff berth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rookie Morgan Barron collected his first two points since joining the Jets at last month’s trade deadline from the New York Rangers in the Andrew Copp deal. Meanwhile, his younger brother Justin missed his third straight game with the Montreal Canadiens with a suspected broken right ankle that could finish his season. Like his older brother, the younger Barron was also traded on deadline day. The Canadiens acquired him from the Colorado Avalanche in the Artturi Lehkonen trade.

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (NHL Images).

  PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: The NHL department of player safety handed down a four-game suspension to Penguins center Evgeni Malkin for his “retaliatory and aggressive” crosscheck on Nashville Predators defenseman Mark Borowiecki on Sunday. It’s the second time in Malkin’s NHL career that he’s been suspended for a stick infraction.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Kings defenseman Drew Doughty will miss the remainder of the season after undergoing wrist surgery on Monday. He’s expected to be fully recovered in time for training camp in September.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Doughty is the Kings’ top defenseman. His absence could cripple their efforts to secure their first playoff berth since 2017-18. The Kings are clinging to third place in the Pacific Division with 86 points, two points ahead of the surging Vegas Golden Knights.

NHL.COM: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson, and Florida Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending April 10.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog has not yet returned to on-ice activities in his recovery from knee surgery. However, he’s still expected to return to action when the playoffs begin in early May.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs defenseman Rasmus Sandin (knee injury) has resumed solo skating but there’s still no timetable for his return to the lineup. Leafs winger Ondrej Kase remains sidelined with a concussion.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues defenseman Torey Krug could return to the lineup tonight against his former club, the Boston Bruins. He’s missed the last 10 games with an upper-body injury.

MLIVE.COM: Sam Gagner is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer but hopes to return with the Detroit Red Wings next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wings reportedly appreciate the 32-year-old Gagner’s experience, leadership and two-way skills. He’s on a one-year, $850K contract and should be an affordable re-signing if they wish to bring him back next season.

THE ATHLETIC: Eric Stephens reports sources indicate Dallas Eakins will return next season as head coach of the Anaheim Ducks.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 25, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 25, 2022

Claude Giroux collects points in his Panthers debut, David Pastrnak tallies his 12th career hat trick, general managers to discuss closing the “LTIR playoff loophole” and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Claude Giroux had two assists in his debut with the Florida Panthers as they held off the Montreal Canadiens 4-3. Former Montreal defenseman Ben Chiarot picked up an assist in his first game against his former team. Canadiens blueliner Jeff Petry left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury. The Panthers (92 points) move one point ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes for first place in the Eastern Conference standings.

Speaking of the Hurricanes, they dropped a 4-3 decision to the Dallas Stars on a shootout goal by Tyler Seguin. Scott Wedgewood picked up the win with a 44-save performance while Roope Hintz scored twice in regulation. Nino Niederreiter netted two goals for the Hurricanes. The Stars (74 points) remain one point ahead of the Vegas Golden Knights for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak (NHL Images).

Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak tallied his 12th career hat trick in a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Erik Haula collected three assists and Hampus Lindholm collected an assist in his first game with Boston. The Bruins (85 points) move into third place in the Atlantic Division, knocking the Lighting into the first Eastern Conference wild-card berth. They’re also tied with the Leafs but the latter holds second place in the Division with a game in hand.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh left the game after blocking a shot in the third period.

The Vegas Golden Knights got a goal and two assists from Evgenii Dadonov to thump the Nashville Predators 6-1 to avoid falling further behind the Dallas Stars for the final Western wild-card spot. It was Dadonov’s first game since his trade to the Anaheim Ducks was overturned by the league. The Predators, meanwhile, are three points up on the Stars in the first wild-card spot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Golden Knights center Brett Howden was stretchered from the game following a hit by Predators winger Filip Forsberg. He was reportedly conscious, in stable condition with full movement of his limbs and sent to a hospital for further tests.

Earlier in the day, the Predators announced defenseman Mark Borowiecki is listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury.

Leon Draisaitl scored twice and Connor McDavid added two assists to lead the Edmonton Oilers to a 5-2 win over the San Jose Sharks. McDavid sits atop the scoring race with 95 points, five ahead of Draisaitl. With 77 points, the Oilers are two points behind the second-place Los Angeles Kings in the Pacific Division. Sharks captain Logan Couture left the game with an upper-body injury.

The Kings, meanwhile, picked up a point in a 4-3 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. Alex DeBrincat had a goal and an assist in regulation and potted the winning goal in the shootout while Colin Delia made 43 saves for the win. Phillip Danault scored twice for the Kings.

An overtime goal by Joel Eriksson Ek lifted the Minnesota Wild over the Vancouver Canucks 3-2. Kirill Kaprizov had a goal and an assist and Cam Talbot kicked out 26 shots as the Wild (80 points) sit one point ahead of the St. Louis Blues in second place in the Central Division. With 71 points, the Canucks are four points out of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

The Blues, while, fell 5-2 to the Philadelphia Flyers. Travis Konecny scored two goals and Martin Jones made 26 saves for the win. Earlier in the day, the Blues announced Tyler Bozak (lower-body) was moved to injured reserve.

A four-goal third period by the Ottawa Senators carried them to a 5-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets, leaving the latter five points out of the final Western wild-card spot. Brady Tkachuk scored twice and Tim Stutzle collected two assists for the Senators. Jets winger Kyle Connor netted his 40th goal of the season.

The New York Islanders picked up their fourth win in their last five games by downing the Detroit Red Wings 5-2. Brock Nelson scored twice and Anders Lee had three assists.

HEADLINES

DAILY FACEOFF: Closing the LTIR playoff loophole in the salary cap will be among the items up for discussion in next week’s meetings of NHL general managers. Some general managers aren’t happy that some teams exceed the salary cap in the regular season with players on long-term injury reserve only to see those players return to the lineup for the playoffs when the salary cap no longer counts.

One proposed solution is to have 20 players iced by a team in a playoff game to count against the salary cap. Any attempted changes to the salary cap or to roster requirements, however, would constitute a material change of the collective bargaining agreement and would have to be negotiated with the NHL Players Association.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some would consider this the “Nikita Kucherov rule”, which arose because the Tampa Bay Lightning winger returned to action at the start of the 2021 playoffs after spending last season on LTIR recovering from offseason hip surgery. That allowed the Lightning the salary-cap flexibility to exceed the cap by the equivalent of Kucherov’s $9.5 million annual cap hit and add players before the trade deadline.

This loophole has existed since the implementation of the salary cap in 2005 and was used before, specifically by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2015 when Patrick Kane went on LTIR several weeks before the trade deadline with a broken collarbone. It’s taken this long, however, for some general managers to have an issue with it.

Bear in mind that medical substantiation must be provided to the league to justify placing a player on LTIR. The league looked into Kucherov’s status late last season and concluded the Lightning did nothing wrong.

Assuming the majority of general managers support this proposal, I don’t expect the PA to be onboard with it. This could be an issue that gets revisited during the next round of collective bargaining.

NBC SPORTS: The International Ice Hockey Federation has asked an independent ethics council board to investigate the Russian Hockey Federation and former IIHF president Rene Fasel regarding issues related to the war in Ukraine. Fasel was critical of the IIHF’s decisions to ban Russia and Belarus from upcoming international competitions. He’s serving as an advisor to Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League.

NHL.COM: St. Louis Blues defenseman Torey Krug is listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury.

Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo will undergo season-ending hip surgery. He’s expected to make a full recovery in six months.

TSN: New York Islanders forward Cal Clutterbuck will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery while defenseman Scott Mayfield is done for the season with a lower-body injury.

Washington Capitals forward Garnet Hathaway was fined $2,000.00 for diving/embellishment by the NHL department of player safety.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 6, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 6, 2021

Oilers stars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl enjoy multi-point performances against the Rangers, Carey Price will soon return to the Canadiens, Brady Tkachuk named captain of the Senators, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Connor McDavid’s game-tying goal set the stage for Leon Draisaitl’s overtime winner as the Edmonton Oilers overcame 4-1 and 5-4 deficits to defeat the New York Rangers 6-5. McDavid, Draisaitl and Tyson Barrie each finished the night with a goal and two assists while Jesse Puljujarvi tallied twice and Darnell Nurse collected three assists for the Oilers. Mika Zibanejad scored two goals for the Rangers. Before the game, the Oilers honored former defenseman Kevin Lowe by retiring his No. 4 jersey.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid’s highlight-reel goal was another example of why he’s the best hockey player in the world right now. He stickhandled through four Rangers inside the New York blueline at high speed before tucking the puck past a sprawling Alexandar Georgiev. Draisaitl (23 points) and McDavid (22) are currently the NHL’s leading scorers.

Unanswered goals by Matt Duchene and Philip Tomasino lifted the Nashville Predators to a 3-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Predators goalie Juuse Saros made 26 saves while teammate Mikael Granlund picked up two assists. Brock Boeser and Nils Hoglander scored for the Canucks.

The Winnipeg Jets downed the Chicago Blackhawks 5-1. Andrew Copp collected three assists while Kyle Connor and Nikolaj Ehlers each had a goal and an assist. The Jets (6-2-2) are off to their best start since relocating to Winnipeg in 2011 while the sad-sack Blackhawks fall to 1-9-2.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Something’s gotta give for the Blackhawks soon. It could be a trade or a coaching change but this is a team badly in need of a shakeup. Another month of this and they can kiss their already fading playoff chances goodbye. Then again, whatever they do will probably already be too late to reverse their fortunes this season.

Anaheim Ducks goaltender Anthony Stolarz made 28 saves to backstop his club over the Arizona Coyotes 3-1. Adam Henrique had a goal and an assist for the Ducks, who honored team captain Ryan Getzlaf before the game for becoming the highest-scoring player in team history. The Coyotes have yet to win a game this season, sitting 0-10-1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This game highlighted two rebuilding clubs going in different directions. The Ducks (5-4-3) are off to a better than expected start while the Coyotes are feeling the effects of management’s offseason teardown moves that depleted the club’s depth, especially in goal. The Ducks still aren’t guaranteed to reach the playoffs but they’re showing early signs of becoming more competitive. The Coyotes, meanwhile, are going to endure a very long and difficult season.

The Los Angeles Kings nipped the New Jersey Devils 3-2 on an overtime goal by Alex Iafallo. Adrian Kempe and Arthur Kaliyev also scored for the Kings while Jesper Bratt and Pavel Zacha replied for the Devils.

HEADLINES

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price will rejoin the club on Monday following a 30-day stint in the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program. However, there’s no timetable for when he’ll return to action.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Price was recovering from offseason knee surgery prior to entering the program. It will likely take some time, perhaps several weeks, before he’s ready for game action. Nevertheless, it’s good to see that Price feels well enough mentally to make this first step toward resuming his career.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators named Brady Tkachuk as their new captain on Friday. The Senators also placed winger Auston Watson in COVID protocol.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators haven’t had a team captain since trading Erik Karlsson to the San Jose Sharks in 2018. It’s an unsurprising choice as it had been speculated Tkachuk or Thomas Chabot would be named captain at some point this season. He leads by example on the ice and has become the face of the franchise.

Brady’s brother, Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk was fined $5,000.00 for high-sticking Dallas Stars defenseman John Klingberg.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets winger Patrik Laine will be sidelined for four-to-six weeks with a strained oblique.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A tough setback for Laine, who was off to a good start with 10 points in nine games before the injury. He had just 21 points in 45 games with the Jackets last season.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals forward Anthony Mantha is sidelined indefinitely after undergoing shoulder surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Injuries continue to plague Mantha, who’s been sidelined in recent years with an injured lung, a broken hand, a fractured finger and a groin injury.

STLTODAY.COM: The St. Louis Blues placed Torey Krug and Niko Mikkola in COVID protocol and announced center Brayden Schenn will be sidelined for two games with an upper-body injury. Ryan O’Reilly has come out of COVID protocol.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The NHL department of player safety handed down a two-game suspension to Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev for an illegal hit to the head of Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner on Thursday.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks reassigned winger William Eklund to his Swedish Hockey League club, Djurgardens IF, to save a year of the 19-year-old rookie’s contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a difficult decision by the Sharks. Eklund collected four assists in nine games and show considerable potential. The youngster is disappointed by the move but I expect he’ll be back full-time with the Sharks next season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 2, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 2, 2021

The Islanders clinch a playoff spot, Marc-Andre Fleury reaches another milestone, the top rookie and players of April are announced and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The New York Islanders clinched a playoff berth by downing the New York Rangers 3-0. Semyon Varlamov picked up his third straight shutout with a 28-save performance while Anthony Beauvillier scored twice. The Isles hold third place in the MassMutual East Division with 67 points.

Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry made 24 saves to shut out the Washington Capitals 3-0. Bryan Rust tallied two goals for the Penguins (71 points), who sit two points ahead of the Capitals in first place in the East Division. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin missed his fourth straight game with a lower-body injury.

A hat trick by Craig Smith powered the Boston Bruins over the Buffalo Sabres 6-2. David Krejci collected three assists and Taylor Hall had two. With 66 points, the fourth-place Bruins move within a point of the third-place Islanders. Sabres goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen left the game following two periods with an apparent lower-body injury.

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (NHL Images).

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury picked up his 489th career NHL victory by beating the Arizona Coyotes 3-2 on an overtime goal by Jonathan Marchessault. Fleury is now tied with Roberto Luongo for third place on the all-time wins list. The Golden Knights sit in first place in the Honda West Division with 74 points.

Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon each had a goal and an assist as the Colorado Avalanche held off the San Jose Sharks 4-3. The Avs (70 points) sit four back of the Golden Knights in second place. Tomas Hertl and Alexander Barabanov had a goal and an assist for the Sharks.

An overtime goal by Kevin Fiala capped a three-goal rally by the Minnesota Wild to beat the Blues 4-3. The Wild remain two points back of the Avs in third place while the Blues (53 points) hold a three-point lead over the Coyotes for fourth place. St. Louis defenseman Torey Krug missed the game with an upper-body injury.

Auston Matthews scored twice to lead the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 5-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks. With 71 points, the Leafs hold a nine-point lead over the Edmonton Oilers for first place in the Scotia North Division. Matthews leads the league this season with 38 goals.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barring injury, Matthews will reach 42 goals in 52 games. That’s a big achievement in this pandemic-shortened season.

Connor McDavid had a goal and two assists and Leon Draisaitl collected four assists to douse the Calgary Flames 4-1. The Oilers (62 points) opened a five-point lead over the third-place Winnipeg Jets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid now has 87 points with seven games remaining in the season. He still has a good shot at finishing with 100 points.

Montreal Canadiens rookie Cole Caufield’s first NHL goal came in overtime as his club overcame a 2-0 deficit to nip the Ottawa Senators 3-2. Jeff Petry and Tyler Toffoli each had a goal and an assist as the fourth-place Canadiens (55 points) moved within two points of the third-place Jets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens now hold an eight-point lead over the Flames with both clubs having six games left.

An overtime goal by Dougie Hamilton lifted the Carolina Hurricanes to a 2-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Hurricanes goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic kicked out 31 shots and collected an assist on Hamilton’s goal. The Hurricanes sit atop the Discover Central Division with 75 points, two up on the second-place Florida Panthers.

Speaking of the Panthers, Anthony Duclair scored twice and picked up an assist in a 5-4 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Aleksander Barkov had a goal and an assist and Sam Bennett collected two helpers. The Panthers sit two points up on the third-place Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Lightning, meanwhile, dropped a 1-0 decision to the Detroit Red Wings. Thomas Greiss made 33 saves for the shutout while Sam Gagner tallied the winner in a shootout. Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy was a healthy scratch as head coach Jon Cooper alluded to a plan for his starter down the stretch.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It sounds like Cooper intends to rest Vasilevskiy as much as possible over the remainder of the regular season in preparation for the upcoming playoffs.

An overtime goal by Erik Haula lifted the Nashville Predators over the Dallas Stars 1-0. Juuse Saros made 28 stops for the shutout as the Predators (58 points) opened a three-point lead over the Stars for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central.

Anaheim Ducks goalie Ryan Miller made 23 saves in his final home game in a 6-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Danton Heinen and Jacob Larsson each had a goal and two assists. Miller is retiring at the end of this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings lined up following the game to congratulate Miller while the Ducks honored the goaltender and his family with a center-ice ceremony.

The New Jersey Devils defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1. Jack Hughes collected two assists and Mackenzie Blackwood made 31 saves for the Devils.

Carolina Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho, Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand and Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews were named the NHL’s stars of the month for April 2021. Dallas Stars left wing Jason Robertson was named rookie of the month for April.

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks placed Jake Virtanen on leave and are taking part in an independent investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct by the 24-year-old winger.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: People will rush to judgment on Virtanen but we don’t know all the facts. The accuser must be heard and have their claim fully investigated but Virtanen also has the right to defend himself. Remember, innocent until proven guilty.