NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 12, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 12, 2020

Islanders get their first win of the Eastern Conference Final, Nathan MacKinnon wins the Lady Byng Trophy, the Penguins trade Nick Bjugstad to the Wild, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Brock Nelson’s tie-breaking goal late in the third period powered the New York Islanders to a 5-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final. The Lightning rallied from a 3-1 deficit to tie the game in the third before Nelson scored and Jean-Gabriel Pageau netted the insurance goal. Isles goalie Semyon Varlamov made 27 saves for the win.

The Lightning leads the best-of-seven series two games to one. They were without two regulars in this contest. Winger Alex Killorn served a one-game suspension for boarding Nielsen in Game 2. Center Brayden Point was unfit to play following an undisclosed injury in Game 2.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A big win for the Isles to avoid falling behind 3-0 in the series. It appeared the Lightning were going to pull off a come-from-behind victory but the Isles proved their mettle in this one. Their top-six forwards led the way with Nelson and Anthony Beauvillier each netting a goal and an assist while Josh Bailey collected two assists.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon is this year’s winner of the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, awarded to the NHL player who best displays sportsmanship, gentlemanly conduct and ability. He took just five minor penalties during the regular season while finishing fifth in points.

The Pittsburgh Penguins traded Nick Bjugstad last night to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for a conditional draft pick in 2021. The 28-year-old center has a year remaining on his contract. Cap Friendly indicates they’re retaining $2.050 million of Bjugstad’s $4.1 million salary-cap hit for next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Acquired by the Penguins from the Florida Panthers in February 2019, Bjugstad was frequently sidelined by injuries, limited to just 13 games this season. He’ll get a chance to get his career back on track in his hometown next season. This is a salary dump by the Penguins as they attempt to clear some cap space, perhaps for other offseason moves.

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner rejected a report yesterday claiming he and the Golden Knights agreed to a five-year, $25-million contract back in June. “Yeah, well, it’s not true,” said Lehner. “You know, you have some talks and kind of (discuss) where you’re at, what you want to do. Nothing has been finalized.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The report might not be true but Lehner seems to suggest his camp has had some discussions with Golden Knights management. We know Lehner seeks stability after bouncing from Buffalo to the Islanders to the Blackhawks to Vegas since 2018. Perhaps he’ll find it with the Golden Knights. If so, that will only stoke speculation about Marc-Andre Fleury’s future with the club.

The 2020 NHL Draft will be held virtually from Oct. 6 and 7. The first round begins at 7 pm ET on Oct. 6, with rounds 2 through 7 taking place the following day beginning at 11:30 am ET. Broadcast times to be determined.

The NHL free-agent market opens at noon et on Friday, Oct. 9.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Kings re-signed defenseman Sean Walker to a four-year, $10.6 million contract extension. The annual average value is $2.65 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A good, affordable move by the Kings. As the report observed, Walker’s blossomed into a speedy, productive two-way blueliner. He’ll be a key piece of their rebuilding roster.










2020 NHL Awards – Vezina, Lady Byng and Masterton Finalists

2020 NHL Awards – Vezina, Lady Byng and Masterton Finalists

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 17, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 17, 2020

Lady Byng and Masterton Trophy finalists are announced,  Edmonton’s Rogers Place suffers some water damage, plus the latest on David Pastrnak, Vladimir Tarasenko, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

2020 NHL AWARDS UPDATE

NHL.COM: Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, and St. Louis Blues center Ryan O’Reilly are this year’s finalists for the Lady Byng Trophy, awarded annually to the player who bests combines sportsmanship, gentlemanly conduct, and ability.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews is a finalist for the 2020 Lady Byng Memorial Trophy (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This award typically goes to the most notable superstar with the lowest penalty minutes. MacKinnon had 12 PIMs this season, O’Reilly 10 and Matthews eight. However, this year’s selections stirred up some controversy.

Matthews got himself into trouble last year when he and a group of friends were accused of harassing a female security guard in Arizona. Meanwhile, some pundits were puzzled why Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin (10 PIMs) was passed over as a finalist. It was also pointed out only three defensemen (Bill Quackenbush, Red Kelly, and Brian Campbell) have won the Lady Byng.

Dallas Stars defenseman Stephen Johns, Philadelphia Flyers winger Oskar Lindblom, and Ottawa Senators winger Bobby Ryan are this year’s finalists for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, awarded annually to the player who best exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johns returned to action after being sidelined nearly two years by post-traumatic headaches that at times left him confined to darkened rooms battling depression and suicidal thoughts.

Lindblom’s rookie season was derailed by Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. He recently completed cancer treatments, including chemotherapy.

Ryan took a leave of absence last November to receive treatment for alcohol abuse. He returned to action on Feb. 25 and scored a hat trick two days later.

LATEST RETURN-TO-PLAY NEWS

TSN: A storm in Edmonton caused some water damage to Rogers Place just two weeks before it becomes a host city for the Western Conference teams in the upcoming playoff tournament. Oilers Entertainment Group issued a statement expressing confidence the incident won’t hamper its hosting efforts. Most of the damage was reportedly limited to the Ford Hall terminus.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Time to break out the Shop-Vacs! Seriously, though, it doesn’t appear the arena, training facilities, or dressing rooms suffered any damage.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins wingers David Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase were declared unfit to participate in practice yesterday. Both had emerged from travel quarantine earlier in the week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Do they have COVID-19 symptoms? Did they suffer injuries preparing to return to play? No one knows because the league won’t allow teams to reveal a sidelined player’s status due to “medical privacy”. 

CALGARY SUN: Flames general manager Brad Treliving shot down speculation suggesting winger Johnny Gaudreau’s skating with a smaller group of players was some sort of punishment over his conditioning. “Johnny Gaudreau has never looked better,” claimed Treliving. He added Gaudreau’s placement with the smaller group was due to circumstances arising from the need to be cautious as the players returned from a long layoff.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That won’t prevent some folks from theorizing Gaudreau’s fallen out of favor with the coaching staff or stoking rumors about the winger’s future in Calgary.

THE SCORE: St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Taransenko isn’t concerned about living in a quarantine bubble in Edmonton for the upcoming playoff tournament. “I don’t need much to live. I just need a bed and food,” he told The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu is more concerned about his club’s opportunity to play for the Stanley Cup than his future. The 37-year-old center is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end and could be playing his final games with the Wild.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre examines the strict pandemic protocols the Winnipeg Jets are following during Phase 3 of the return-to-play plan. Defenseman Luca Sbisa explained the players aren’t really allowed to go anywhere but the rink and their homes, though they do partake in simple errands such as grocery shopping. The Jets have their own Phase 3 policies as well as those issued in a 19-page document by the league.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Phase 3 is the crucial period if the playoff tournament under Phase 4 is to take place starting in two weeks. The Jets, and the other clubs involved, are taking significant steps to ensure the health and safety of the players. Time will tell, however, if those measures prove successful.

IN OTHER NEWS…

TORONTO SUN: Long-time Leafs TV reporter Paul Hendricks is stepping down to spend more time with his wife, who’s battling cancer. Hendricks was part of Leafs TV from its infancy in the mid-1990s.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Hendricks and his wife during this difficult time.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Rocky Thompson is stepping down as head coach of the AHL’s Chicago Wolves after three seasons behind their bench. He’s expected to coach the Vegas Golden Knights’ new AHL affiliate in Nevada next season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 19, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 19, 2019

Steve Yzerman named Red Wings GM, Blues push Jets to the brink of elimination, Hurricanes even their series with the Capitals, Sharks stave off elimination,  Lady Byng Trophy finalists revealed, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

The Detroit Red Wings will hold a press conference today to formally announce the hiring of Steve Yzerman as their new general manager. Ken Holland will remain as senior vice president. 

The Detroit Red Wings have hired Steve Yzerman as their new general manager (Photo via NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Can’t say I’m surprised by this announcement. Yzerman stepped down last fall as general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning to return home to Detroit. Holland is signed through 2019-20 and gave no indication he was stepping aside but I think it’s clear that was the Wings plan all along.

Yzerman returns to the Wings with a stellar reputation for building the Lightning into one of the NHL’s top teams. He takes over a roster stocked with promising young talent. It’ll be interesting to see what moves he’ll have in store to advance the Wings’ rebuild. 

One thing Yzerman won’t be doing is replacing the head coach as Jeff Blashill was re-signed earlier this month to a new contract. I wouldn’t be surprised if Yzerman was consulted on this before Blashill was signed. 

NHL.COM: A three-goal third-period comeback lifted the St. Louis Blues to a 3-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets and a 3-2 lead in their opening-round series.  Brayden Schenn’s game-tying goal was a controversial one for Jets’ fans as it appeared the net was dislodged by Schenn’s teammate Oscar Sundqvist as the puck crossed the goal line. Video review determined Sundqvist was checked into the net by Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien and allowed the goal to stand. The Blues can close out the series back in St. Louis for Game 6 on Saturday. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A heartbreaking loss for the Jets after it appeared they were cruising to victory entering the third period. It’s the second time in this series they’ve blown a lead in the third. This one could prove the most costly. 

Petr Mrazek’s 30-save performance carried the Carolina Hurricanes to a 2-1 win over the Washington Capitals in Game 4 of their opening-round series (Photo via NHL Images)

The Carolina Hurricanes squared their opening-round series with the Washington Capitals at two games apiece with a 2-1 victory in Game 4. Teuvo Teravainen’s tiebreaker later in the second period held up as the winning goal. Petr Mrazek made 30 saves for the Hurricanes. It was a costly defeat for the Capitals as winger T.J. Oshie left the game with an upper-body injury in the third period after being checked from behind by Hurricanes forward Warren Foegele. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Foegele received a two-minute boarding minor penalty but it remains to be seen if he’ll face supplemental discipline. Further details on Oshie’s status could be released today but the early word is he could be sidelined for some time. The injury overshadowed what was a solid effort by the Hurricanes in neutralizing the Capitals offense for the second straight game. 

The San Jose Sharks staved off elimination with a 5-2 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 5 of their opening-round series. Tomas Hertl scored twice, Joe Pavelski and Erik Karlsson each had two-point performances, and Martin Jones made 30 saves in a bounce-back performance. The series returns to Las Vegas on Saturday for Game 6 with the Golden Knights holding a 3-2 series lead.

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  That was Jones’ best game of the series. He’ll need two more like that for the Sharks to have a shot at winning this series. Their blueline was also improved as this was the first time since Game 1 that they didn’t give up a goal in the first five minutes. 

 

Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov, Calgary Flames center Sean Monahan, and St. Louis Blues center Ryan O’Reilly are this year’s finalists for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, awarded each year to the player “voted to best combine sportsmanship, gentlemanly conduct and ability.”

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois is standing by head coach Jon Cooper after his club was swept from the opening round by the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Lightning re-signed Cooper a month ago to a multi-year contract extension. “If I hadn’t re-signed [Cooper] when I did, I’d be looking to re-sign him now,” BriseBois said. “There’s no point looking for the next [Cooper] when I have the original and I like the original and I have faith in the original.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I understand why some unhappy Lightning followers were calling for Cooper to be replaced but that wasn’t going to happen. They aren’t going to fire a guy they just re-signed, especially after he coached them to a record-tying 62-win season. By the sound of things, BriseBois isn’t about to make any drastic moves regarding his club. 

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby has declined an invitation to join Team Canada at the upcoming IIHF World Championships, opting to use the extra time to rest and heal from a long season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Can’t say I blame Crosby. He’s played a lot of hockey since his last appearance at the Worlds in 2015.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel will suit up for Team USA at the Worlds.  

SEATTLE TIMES: NHL Seattle president and CEO Tod Leiweke admitted costs to renovate KeyArena are expected to top $900 million and will push back the opening date to June 1, 2021. The delay isn’t expected to affect the debut season of Seattle’s NHL expansion team. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Over $900 million for an arena renovation project? Good thing this is privately funded or city taxpayers would have a fit. 

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens re-signed defenseman Christian Folin to a one-year, one-way contract worth $800K. 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 21, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 21, 2018

Jets eliminated Wild, Flyers and Avalanche stave off elimination, Lady Byng Trophy finalist revealed and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Winnipeg Jets advanced to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs by crushing the Minnesota Wild 5-0, winning their best-of-seven opening-round series in five games. Connor Hellebuyck made 30 saves for his second straight shutout while Mark Scheifele, Paul Stastny and Dustin Byfuglien each had two point for the Jets, who await the winner of the Colorado Avalanche-Nashville Predators series. Jets forward Joel Armia left the game after the first period with an upper-body injury. 

Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck collected his second straight shutout in a 5-0 series-clinching win over the Minnesota Wild (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a dominating performance by the Jets, whose roster depth was simply too much for the Wild. It also marks the first NHL playoff series victory by a Winnipeg franchise since 1987.

Speaking of the Avalanche and Predators, there will be a sixth game in their series on Sunday in Denver. Third-string goaltender Andrew Hammond, making his first playoff appearance since 2015, made 44 saves to backstop the underdog Avs to a 2-1 victory over the Predators in Game 5. Gabriel Landeskog tallied the game-tying goal, setting the stage for Sven Andrighetto’s game winner late in the third period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Someone call the cops because “The Hamburglar” just stole another game. Credit his teammates as well for their never-say-die attitude, as they’re certainly proving to be a handful for the heavily favored Predators. 

And speaking of never-say-die, the Philadelphia Flyers lived to play another day by doubling up the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2 in Game 5 of their opening-round series. Game 6 goes Sunday afternoon in Philadelphia. Sean Couturier snapped a 2-2 tie late in the third and Matt Read added the insurance goal into an empty net.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Couturier was obviously still feeling the effects of the leg injury that sidelined him from Game 4 but his gutsy performance in this game didn’t go unnoticed. Credit also goes to his teammates for overcoming a 2-1 deficit and outworking the Penguins through most of this contest. 

Aleksander Barkov of the Florida Panthers, William Karlsson of the Vegas Golden Knights and Ryan O’Reilly of the Buffalo Sabres are this year’s finalists for the Lady Byng Trophy. 

BOSTON HERALD: Bruins center Patrice Bergeron (upper-body injury) could return to action for Game 5 tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Bruins lead the series three games to one. 

CSN WASHINGTON: Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky (upper-body injury) will miss the remainder of his club’s opening-round series with the Columbus Blue Jackets. The series is tied at two games apiece with Game 5 going this afternoon in Washington. 

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Head coach Bill Peters announced Friday he was opting out of the final year of his contract with the Carolina Hurricanes. He’s been mentioned as a potential candidate for the vacant head-coaching job with the Calgary Flames. Potential candidates for the Hurricanes coaching position “could include Charlotte Checkers coach Mike Vellucci and Canes assistant coach Rod Brind’Amour.”

 











NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 24, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 24, 2017

Washington Capitals forward Marcus Johansson celebrates his series-clinching overtime goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Capitals and Senators advance to second round, Kings hire new coach & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: Marcus Johansson scored twice, including the winner in overtime, to give the Washington Capitals a 2-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Capitals win the series in six games and will meet the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round. Braden Holtby made 37 saves for the Caps. Auston Matthews scored for the Leafs while goalie Frederik Andersen made 34 saves.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In what many observers felt would be an easy series for the heavily-favored Capitals, the upstart Leafs proved a handful for the Presidents’ Trophy winner. The rebuilding Leafs exceeded expectations, pushing five of the six games in this series to overtime. They have nothing to hang their heads over and will take away valuable lessons from this series. 

Clarke MacArthur’s power-play goal in overtime gave the Ottawa Senators a 3-2 win over the Boston Bruins to win their opening-round series in six games. MacArthur also drew the penalty on Bruins winger David Pastrnak that set the stage for his winner. Following the game, it was revealed Sens captain Erik Karlsson was playing with two hairline fractures in his foot. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a hard-fought win for the Senators over the injury-depleted Bruins. For MacArthur, scoring that goal after missing almost the entire season to a concussion must have felt sweet. Same goes for Sens goalie Craig Anderson, who missed time during the season to be alongside his wife during her cancer treatments. Karlsson sometimes gets labeled as a soft player, but playing through that foot injury should silence those critics, especially considering his contributions to the Sens victory throughout this series. 

The NHL has released the schedule for the second round of the 2017 playoffs. It begins on Wednesday with the Nashville Predators opening their series with the St. Louis Blues and the Edmonton Oilers meeting the Ducks in Anaheim. 

Calgary Flames left wing Johnny Gaudreau, Minnesota Wild forward Mikael Granlund and St. Louis Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko are the finalists for the Lady Byng Trophy, which honors the league’s most gentlemanly player. 

LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS: The Los Angeles Kings promoted former assistant coach John Stevens into the role of head coach. 

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets have opened preliminary contract talks with restricted free agent forward Alexander Wennberg and unrestricted free agent forward Sam Gagner.