NHL Playoffs: Lightning Eliminate Islanders, Advance to 2020 Stanley Cup Final
The Tampa Bay Lightning are going to the Stanley Cup Final, the Coyotes have a new general manager, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning are going to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2015. Anthony Cirelli scored in overtime as the Lightning edged the New York Islanders 2-1 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final to win the series 4-2 and the Prince of Wales Trophy as the Conference champions.
Islanders defenseman Devon Toews opened the scoring in the first period but Victor Hedman tied it with his ninth goal of the playoffs. Hedman is tied with Bobby Orr and Brad Park for the third-most goals in a single postseason by an NHL defenseman.
The Islanders were playing without defenseman Adam Pelech, who suffered a broken wrist in Game 5 that will require surgery. He was replaced by Noah Dobson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to the Lightning, whose depth of talent proved the difference in this series. The Isles also deserve praise for their impressive playoff run.
The Lightning will face the Dallas Stars in the Stanley Cup Final which begins Saturday with Game 1 at 7:30 pm ET. The league has released the full schedule for the Final. Game 7 (if necessary) would be played on Wednesday, Sept. 30.
ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes officially named Bill Armstrong as their new general manager. Armstrong is the former assistant GM and director of scouting for the St. Louis Blues.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I like this move by the Coyotes. Armstrong is an experienced and successful NHL executive, which is what the Coyotes need right now.
Armstrong began as an amateur scout with the Blues in 2004, became their director of scouting in 2010. He’s also a former AHL and ECHL coach. During his tenure, the Blues drafted such notables as Vladimir Tarasenko, Jaden Schwartz, Jordan Binnington, Colton Parayko and Vince Dunn.
Meanwhile, the Coyotes were behind on their payments to the company that manages the Gila River Arena. The club had layoffs and furloughs of employees in mid-August, citing the pandemic. Several players were also late receiving their bonus payments.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes are the most noteworthy team that appears to be having financial difficulties tied to the pandemic. It’ll be interesting to see if reports of similar problems emerge for other NHL clubs in the coming weeks and months.
TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs hired Manny Malhotra as an assistant coach.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers re-signed winger Nicolas Aube-Kubel to a two-year, $2.15-million contract extension.
NHL.COM: The Washington Capitals re-signed forward Brian Pinho to a two-year contract, with the second year being a one-way deal. He’ll earn $700K at the NHL level in the first year and $750K in the second.
WGR550.COM: The Rochester Americans hired Adam Mair and Mike Weber as assistant coaches. The Americans are the AHL affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres.
IIHF.COM: The 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship will be staged as a single-venue format in Edmonton under similar quarantine bubble conditions as the NHL’s return-to-play tournament.
The Islanders stave off elimination, the Capitals hire Peter Laviolette as their new head coach, the Wild re-sign Jonas Brodin, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The New York Islanders live to play another day after edging the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 in double overtime during Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final. Jordan Eberle tallied the game-winner, forcing a sixth game on Thursday. The Lightning hold a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Semyon Varlamov made 36 saves for the win. Ryan Pulock opened the scoring in the first period but Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman tied it with his eighth goal of the postseason. Lightning center Brayden Point missed the game with an undisclosed injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning controlled the play for most of this game but the Isles hung in there for the win. They blew a couple of opportunities to score the go-ahead goal during regulation, including Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s lame attempt to pass on a two-on-one that was broken up by Zach Bogosian and a long opportunity on a delayed penalty where they failed to find the back of the net with six attackers. Nevertheless, they prevailed and have another chance to keep their Stanley Cup dreams alive on Thursday.
NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals yesterday named Peter Laviolette as their new head coach.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Capitals general manager Brian McLellan sought an experienced no-nonsense bench boss and he’s got one in Laviolette. He has 18 seasons of NHL experience with the New York Islanders, Carolina Hurricanes, Philadelphia Flyers and Nashville Predators. He won the Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006 and guided the Flyers and Predators to the Stanley Cup Final.
There was a sense the Capitals were lackadaisical this season, especially during the playoffs. They won’t get away with that under Laviolette.
TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild yesterday re-signed defenseman Jonas Brodin to a seven-year, $42-million contract extension beginning in 2021-22.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Brodin was mentioned as a possible trade candidate this season. This signing indicates GM Bill Guerin sees him as a key part of the Wild’s roster. Brodin also has a full no-movement clause in the first four years of his new contract, which extends the one he has for 2020-21.
This signing sparked speculation over Matt Dumba’s future with the Wild. You can read more about that in today’s Rumor Mill update.
RDS.CA: The Montreal Canadiens are reportedly close to re-signing recently-acquired defenseman Joel Edmundson. The deal could be between three-to-five years, with a cap hit of $3.5 million or $4 million, depending on the duration.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The addition of Edmundson has generated rumors suggesting the Canadiens could move a left-side defenseman for a scoring forward. Check out the details in today’s Rumor Mill.
ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes re-signed goaltender Adin Hill to a one-year, one-way contract worth $800K.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Coyotes insider Craig Morgan speculates Hill will become the leading candidate as the club’s backup next season if they trade Darcy Kuemper or Antti Raanta.
Speaking of the Coyotes, the leading candidate for their vacant general manager position is St. Louis Blues assistant GM Bill Armstrong.
DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars GM Jim Nill said interim head coach Rick Bowness has earned the right to return as head coach. Nill and Bowness have an agreement to discuss the matter following the playoffs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, the job is Bowness’ if he wants it.
TSN: The Florida Panthers have parted ways with assistant coach Mike Kitchen for allegedly kicking a player on the bench during a game this season.
CALGARY SUN: Noted NHL author Kirstie McLellan Day is taking Hall-of-Famer Lanny McDonald to court after he withdrew his approval of a biography at the last minute. She’s seeking a court order to have the book published.