NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 23, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 23, 2020

The latest on Nikita Kucherov, Tyler Seguin, Ryan Kesler and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov isn’t allowing the Dallas Stars to frustrate him and knock him off his game during the Stanley Cup Final. In the past, opponents would target Kucherov and get under his skin.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kucherov’s taken his lumps from the Stars during the first two games of the series. He was held off the score sheet in Game 1 but the Lightning as a team played poorly for most of that contest. In Game 2, Kucherov got the primary assists on the Lightning’s first two goals and leads all NHL scorers with 28 points.

NATIONAL POST: The Stars need more from Tyler Seguin if they hope to win the Stanley Cup. The first-line center has just two goals and eight points in 22 games, with one assist in the last 12. His last goal was on Aug. 26 against Colorado.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The decline in Seguin’s production is troubling but could attributable to an undisclosed injury. He missed an exhibition game against Nashville and a round-robin game against St. Louis. It was a topic of concern in early August but hasn’t been mentioned much as the Stars rolled to the Cup Final.

ESPN.COM: Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler said the lack of education among NHL players regarding the painkiller toradol led to his chronic digestive problems. Kesler and other former NHL players talked about the overuse of pain medication in the TSN documentary, “The Problem of Pain”.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL must do a better job educating its teams, medical staff, and players regarding pain management and the use of pain medication. Failure to do so can lead to addiction or serious medical side effects.

NHL.COM: The Ottawa Senators won’t have a captain for 2020-21. They’ll go with three alternate captains on a game-by-game basis. Head coach D.J. Smith said the plan is to transition younger players like Thomas Chabot and Brady Tkachuk into leadership roles.

OTTAWA SUN: Speaking of the Senators, they and the other teams that didn’t qualify for the return-to-play program could be granted a longer training camp leading up to next season if the NHLPA agrees to it.

TSN: The San Jose Sharks named Bob Boughner their full-time head coach. Boughner took over on an interim basis on Dec. 29 after the club fired Peter DeBoer.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes fired assistant general manager Lindsay Hofford.

 










NHL Offseason Lookahead – Chicago Blackhawks

NHL Offseason Lookahead – Chicago Blackhawks










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 2, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 2, 2020

Recaps of the opening games of the qualifying round and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Chicago Blackhawks winger Dominik Kubalik scored twice and collected three assists in a 6-4 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. Kubalik set a record for most points by a rookie in his first playoff game. Jonathan Toews also scored twice for the Hawks. Oilers forwards Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins each had a goal and two assists. Blackhawks forward Drake Caggiula will have a hearing on Sunday with the league’s department of player safety for an illegal hit to the head of Oilers winger Tyler Ennis.

Chicago Blackhawks winger Dominik Kubalik (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks feasted on the shaky play of Oilers goaltender Mike Smith and his teammates’ sloppy defensive play. Smith was replaced in the second period by Mikko Koskinen after giving up five goals on 23 shots. He could get the call for Game 2 on Monday.

The Montreal Canadiens upset the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 on an overtime goal by Jeff Petry. Canadiens’ goaltender Carey Price made 39 saves while rookies Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Nick Suzuki picked up their first NHL playoff goals. Sidney Crosby and Bryan Rust replied for the Penguins. Pittsburgh winger Conor Sheary and Montreal winger Jonathan Drouin failed to score on penalty-shot attempts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins also missed several good scoring opportunities. Nevertheless, Price did a fine job rising to the occasion for his overmatched teammates. If he wasn’t in the heads of the Penguins before this game, he is now.

A 4-1 victory by the Calgary Flames over the Winnipeg Jets was overshadowed by the departure of Jets center Mark Scheifele early in the game with an injured left leg following a collision with Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk. The Flames got power-play goals by Johnny Gaudreau and Mikael Backlund and a shorthanded tally by Tobias Rieder. The Jets also lost winger Patrik Laine to an apparent hand injury in the third period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jets coach Paul Maurice believes Tkachuk deliberately attempted to injure Schiefele, which the winger denied. There’s no question the loss of Scheifele affected his teammates, who seemed off-balance for most of the game. Maurice also indicated Scheifele and Laine will be examined by specialists, which suggests both could be sidelined for lengthy periods.

Sebastian Aho and Jaccob Slavin each had a goal and an assist as the Carolina Hurricanes edged the New York Rangers 3-2. Petr Mrazek picked up the win with a 24-save effort. Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist turned aside 34 shots while Mika Zibanejad also had a goal and an assist.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The score flattered the Rangers, who were dominated by the Hurricanes for most of this game. It would’ve been a more lopsided loss if not for Lundqvist, who got the call after Igor Shesterkin was a last-minute scratch. He’s listed as day-to-day. Rangers winger Jesper Fast left the game in the first period following a big hit by former teammate Brady Skjei.

Semyon Varlamov kicked out 27 shots while Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Anthony Beauvillier scored as the New York Islanders held on for a 2-1 win over the Florida Panthers. Sergei Bobrovsky turned aside 26 shots for the Panthers. Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk left the game in the second period following an illegal hit to the head from Panthers blueliner Mike Matheson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bobrovsky kept his teammates in this game but they couldn’t get the equalizer. No word on Boychuk’s status while Matheson only received a two-minute penalty.

HEADLINES

THE SCORE: Prior to Saturday’s Oilers-Blackhawks game, Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba made a moving speech on behalf of the Hockey Diversity Alliance and took a knee during the American National Anthem, flanked by Blackhawks goalie Malcolm Subban and Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse. Dumba is among the co-founders of the Hockey Diversity Alliance to eradicate racism and intolerance in hockey.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask is questionable for today’s round-robin game against the Philadelphia Flyers. Coach Bruce Cassidy said Rask wasn’t feeling well and was unfit to participate in yesterday’s practice.

Bruins winger Ondrej Kase finally rejoined his teammates after missing all of the Phase 3 training camp. He isn’t expected to be in today’s lineup and it could be a few games before he returns to action.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cassidy’s remarks about Rask doesn’t sound as though his status is COVID-related.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals defenseman John Carlson returned to practice Saturday for the first time since leaving Wednesday’s exhibition game with an undisclosed ailment. It’s yet to be decided if he’ll play in tomorrow’s round-robin game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.










2020 NHL Awards – Calder Trophy, Lindsay and Adams Award Finalists

2020 NHL Awards – Calder Trophy, Lindsay and Adams Award Finalists

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 16, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 16, 2020

The Calder Trophy and Adams Award finalists revealed, plus the latest on David Pastrnak, Shea Weber, Patrik Laine, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

2020 NHL AWARDS UPDATE

NHL.COM: Vancouver Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes, Chicago Blackhawks winger Dominik Kubalik and Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar are the finalists for the 2019-20 Calder Memorial Trophy honoring this season’s rookie-of-the-year.

Vancouver Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kubalik was a pleasant surprise for the Blackhawks this season, become the leading goal-scorer (30) among this season’s rookie class, but he will be overshadowed by Hughes and Makar. During the first half of this season, Makar seemed a lock for the Calder, but Hughes steadily came on throughout the season. The Canucks blueliner leads this season’s rookies in assists (45), points (53), and power-play points (25) while sitting second in ice time, averaging 21:53 per game.

Boston Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy, Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella, and Philadelphia Flyers coach Alain Vigneault are this season’s finalists for the Jack Adams Award honoring the league’s top head coach.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cassidy’s Bruins were the NHL’s top team during the regular season. Tortorella’s efforts helped his injury-ravaged Blue Jackets remain a playoff contender. Vigneault guided the Flyers to their first best performance (second in the Metropolitan Division) since 2010-11. Tortorella is a two-time winner (2003-04, 2016-17) of the Adams Award while Vigneault took home the award in 2006-07.

NHL TRAINING CAMP NOTES

THE SCORE: Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine admits he’s not quite up to speed following his lengthy layoff. “Still kind of far away,” he told reporters yesterday. “It’s kind of hard to see myself playing playoff hockey in two weeks.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Laine won’t be the only NHL player trying to shake off the rust and return to game shape following a four-month layoff. He said he’s trying to make the most of it and hopes to be game-ready when the puck drops.

TRIBLIVE.COM: There are mixed reports regarding Matt Murray’s performance in the opening three days of Pittsburgh Penguins’ training camp. Mark Madden cites sources claiming  Tristan Jarry is outplaying Murray, but Seth Rorabaugh (who’s covering the Penguins’ training camp) said he’d seen no difference in play between the two. Rorabaugh observed Murray is more often between the pipes when facing some of the Penguins’ top players.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Murray’s restricted free agent status at season’s end ensures he’ll be closely watched in practice and the upcoming playoff tournament. He’s been the subject of frequent trade speculation this season. His performance will determine his future with the Penguins.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins winger David Pastrnak joined his teammates for his first practice since completing his mandatory quarantine period after returning from the Czech Republic.

CBS SPORTS: Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury is expected to make his training camp debut before the weekend. He’s been sidelined with an undisclosed issue.

Montreal Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber returned to full practice Wednesday. He’d spent Tuesday doing drills on his own.  

CANES COUNTRY: Sami Vatanen is healthy and looking forward to making an impact with the Carolina Hurricanes in the upcoming playoff tournament. The Hurricanes acquired the 29-year-old defenseman near the trade deadline, but an injury prevented him from suiting up with his new team.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With Dougie Hamilton recovered from a broken leg, he and Vatanen will provide a much-needed boost to the Hurricanes’ defense corps, especially if Brett Pesce (shoulder surgery) remains unable to participate.

NBC SPORTS: The pause in the schedule proved to be a silver lining for a banged-up Columbus Blue Jackets lineup, allowing sidelined players such as Seth Jones, Oliver Bjorkstrand, and Cam Atkinson an opportunity to recover.

CALGARY SUN: Flames bench boss Geoff Ward denies he’s split up some of his roster over fitness-related issues. Johnny Gaudreau’s removal from the Flames’ top line raised eyebrows this week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league’s clampdown on the players’ medical status only stokes speculation over the motivation behind such moves.

SPORTSNET: The Toronto Maple Leafs were told to stop using on-ice officials during their practices following complaints from rival clubs.

IN OTHER NEWS…

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks officially signed defenseman Ian Mitchell to a three-year, entry-level contract beginning next season. He would’ve had the first year of his ELC burned off if he’d joined his teammates for Phase 3 training camp.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Former Carolina Hurricanes TV announcer John Forslund will be freelancing for NBC Sports during the upcoming playoff tournament. His status with the Hurricanes remains uncertain since his contract expired last month.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 12, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – June 12, 2020

Check out recent speculation on the Blackhawks, Ducks, and Sharks in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON THE BLACKHAWKS

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Scott Powers and Mark Lazerus report Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has stayed in touch with his pending free agents. However, he hasn’t spoken much about their pending free agency.

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford (Photo via NHL Images).

​Re-signing Corey Crawford, Dominik Kubalik, and Dylan Strome are on Bowman’s to-do list but he can’t get into negotiations until he knows what next season’s salary cap will be.

In a mailbag segment, Lazerus was asked who he felt would be the Blackhawks’ starting goalie next season. He still believes it will be Crawford, who badly wants to remain in Chicago and is coming off a strong season.

Making the money work will be difficult, especially with Kubalik and Strome to re-sign. Nevertheless, Crawford would be a better option than most of this year’s pending UFA goalies and not as expensive as Braden Holtby or Robin Lehner.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks don’t have much choice but to re-sign Crawford. They don’t have anyone in their system ready to step in as their full-time starter. Finding a suitable replacement will be expensive. Perhaps Bowman inks the 35-year-old Crawford to a one-year, bonus-laden deal with a base salary of $4 million.

Asked if the Blackhawks should trade Strome, Lazerus believes it would be a mistake to move the 23-year-old center. He envisions Strome becoming the Hawks No. 2 center behind Kirby Dach in four or five years while Jonathan Toews moves into the third-line center role.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Strome’s production dropped this season (38 points in 58 games) after tallying 51 points in the same number of games with the Hawks last season. Lazerus suggests he’s still scarred by his experience with the Arizona Coyotes and could take a little less to stay where he’s happy and getting lots of playing time.

Strome is a restricted free agent completing his entry-level contract and lacks arbitration rights. Bowman will likely use that to leverage an affordable short-term bridge deal.

UPDATES ON THE DUCKS AND SHARKS

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Matt Larkin recently did his postmortems of the 2019-20 Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks.

Larkin doesn’t expect the rebuilding Ducks will be adding any expensive veterans, especially with their limited salary-cap space for 2020-21. He anticipates they’ll keep trying to shed salary and make room for younger players.

The Sharks, meanwhile, could see around one-third of their roughly $15 million in salary-cap space go toward re-signing Kevin Labanc to a make-good contract after he took a one-year bargain-basement deal last summer. They’ll also have to decide if they’ll bring back Joe Thornton for one more year. If they re-sign the 41-year-old center, it won’t leave much room to chase higher-end UFAs, especially a No. 2 goaltender. Larkin also wondered if they might consider buying out starting goalie Martin Jones.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Labanc has arbitration rights this time around, so GM Doug Wilson must either pay him a suitable raise or trade him. Labanc’s stats declined this season but that could be tied to the Sharks’ overall poor performance.

The cap hit for buying out Jones is $2.875 million for 2020-21, $1.875 million for 2021-22, $2.375 million in 2022-23, and $2.875 million for 2023-24 before dropping to $1.625 million annually through 2027-28. While it’s not expensive, it’s still a long time to be carrying that much dead cap space.