NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 11, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 11, 2021

The Canadiens clinch the last postseason spot in the North Division, the opening day of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs is revealed, Jack Eichel talks about his season and the state of the Sabres, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Montreal Canadiens clinched the final playoff berth in the Scotia North Division in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Edmonton Oilers. An overtime goal by Connor McDavid gave the Oilers the win after Canadiens winger Artturi Lehkonen forced overtime with the game-tying goal in the third period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens are expected to face the Toronto Maple Leafs in the opening round. However, they could meet the Oilers if they win their final game of the season and the Winnipeg Jets drop their final two games in regulation. The Jets sit in third place with 59 points, one up on the Canadiens.

Speaking of the Jets, they dropped a 3-1 decision to the Vancouver Canucks. Jonas Hoglander scored twice for Vancouver.

A 36-save performance by Philipp Grubauer carried the Colorado Avalanche to a 2-1 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights. J.T. Compher snapped a 1-1 tie in the third period. With 78 points, Colorado sits two behind first-place Vegas in the Honda West Division. The Golden Knights (39 wins) have one game left while the Avs have two.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Whoever tops the West will win the Presidents’ Trophy for this season’s best record.

An overtime goal by Justin Faulk gave the St. Louis Blues a 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings The Blues will face the Golden Knights or Avalanche in the first round of the playoffs.

The Carolina Hurricanes chances of winning the Presidents’ Trophy ended in a 5-0 loss to the Nashville Predators. Pekka Rinne picked up the shutout with 30 saves while Matt Duchene scored two goals. The Hurricanes finish the season in first place in the Discover Central Division with 36 wins and 80 points while the Predators finish in fourth place.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes and Predators will face off against each other in the opening round of the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs beginning this weekend.

A 30-save shutout performance by Chris Driedger carried the Florida Panthers over the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-0. Keith Yandle had an assist for his 600th career NHL points. Lightning forwards Mathieu Joseph, Gemel Smith and Daniel Walcott played together on what is believed to be the first all-Black forward line in NHL history.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the win, the Panthers clinched second place in the Central and home-ice advantage over the Lightning in their first-round series starting this weekend.

Boston Bruins winger Taylor Hall (NHL Images)

Taylor Hall’s overtime goal lifted the Boston Bruins past the New York Islanders 3-2. Bruins winger Ondrej Kase left the game with an upper-body injury. The win clinched third place in the MassMutual East Division for the Bruins, who’ll face the second-place Washington Capitals in the opening round of the postseason with Game 1 on Saturday. The Islanders will face the Pittsburgh Penguins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kase was playing in his first game since suffering a concussion in January. An update on his condition could be made today.

The Dallas Stars nipped the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 on an overtime goal by Jason Robertson.

Two goals by Joel Farabee gave the Philadelphia Flyers a 4-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the North Division playoffs could begin once all the regular-season games in that division are concluded. Several games earlier in the season involving the Vancouver Canucks were postponed due to COVID-19. Their final regular-season game is May 19.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That would allow those Canadian clubs some extra rest while giving some of their banged-up players more time to recover before the playoffs begin.

WGR 550: Jack Eichel expressed his displeasure over the way the Buffalo Sabres handled the herniated disk in his neck during an end-of-season media conference call on Monday. He suffered that season-ending injury in early March. Asked why he hasn’t yet undergone surgery, he said it’s a contractual issue, saying the club decides what he can or cannot do to treat an injury.

The Sabres captain also revealed he suffered a sprained ankle during the season, fractured a rib several weeks before training camp and had a lingering abdominal injury from last season.

Eichel dodged the question of whether he’ll ask for a trade but admitted he has a lot of thinking to do regarding his future. He said he has to do what best for him and the Sabres must do what’s best for the organization.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel’s comments (which you can read in full by following the above link) raised eyebrows around the league. It sounds like he may have played his final game with the Sabres. I’ll have more in the Rumors section.

TSN: Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said yesterday it’s “self-explanatory” that Patrik Laine remains a key part of the club’s future. The winger is a restricted free agent this summer. However, his rights remain under the Jackets’ contract until 2022-23.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Laine’s contract status prompted speculation suggesting he could be traded if he and the Blue Jackets failed to reach an agreement on a new deal. The winger yesterday confirmed his wish to remain with the Jackets.

THE SCORE: San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane said filing for bankruptcy was a big weight off his shoulders. He considers it a relief that he didn’t have to hide his financial troubles anymore, calling it the end of that chapter of his life. Kane said the birth of his daughter 10 months ago helped him mature and accept responsibility for his actions.

SPECTOR’ S NOTE: That relief was reflected in Kane’s play this season. He’s the Sharks’ leading scorer with 22 goals and 49 points in 55 games.

NHL.COM: The list of candidates for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy was released yesterday. Among the notables is Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba, Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos, and Washington Capitals blueliner Zdeno Chara.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid, Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov, and Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending May 9, 2021.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers signed defenseman Ryan Lindgren to a three-year, $9 million contract extension.

ESPN is reportedly adding Ray Ferraro and Brian Boucher as NHL analysts starting next season. The network declined to comment.

NHL.COM: The New York Islanders have renamed AHL affiliate Bridgeport Sound Tigers as the Bridgeport Islanders.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 30, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 30, 2021

The Penguins and Capitals clinch playoff berths, Ryan Miller to retire at season’s end, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals both clinched playoff berths as the Penguins edged the Capitals 5-4 on an overtime goal by Jake Guentzel. Kasperi Kapanen scored twice for the Penguins while Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom collected three assists. Both clubs are tied with 69 points but the Capitals hold first place in the MassMutual East Division with a game in hand. Capitals defenseman John Carlson was a late scratch and is day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jake Guentzel (NHL Images).

A 25-save shutout by Semyon Varlamov gave the New York Islanders a 4-0 win over the New York Rangers. It was the Isles’ fourth win in their last 10 games, leaving them four points behind the Capitals and Penguins. Rangers defenseman Ryan Lindgren left the game in the third period with an upper-body injury. Earlier in the day, the league fined Islanders center Mathew Barzal $2,000.00 for embellishment during an April 22 game against the Capitals.

Third-period goals by Charlie Coyle, Taylor Hall and Brad Marchand lifted the Boston Bruins to a 5-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. With 64 points, the fourth-place Bruins sit one point back of the Islanders while opening a six-point lead over the Rangers.

Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen each had two points to give the Carolina Hurricanes a 3-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Jakub Vrana replied for the Red Wings. The Hurricanes sit in first place in the Discover Central Division with 73 points.

An overtime goal by Sam Bennett gave the Florida Panthers a 4-3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Florida rookie goalie Spencer Knight picked up his third win in as many games. The Panthers sit two points behind the Hurricanes.

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy picked up his 30th win of the season by shutting out the Dallas Stars 3-0. Ondrej Palat, Blake Coleman and Brayden Points were the goal scorers. The Lightning (70 points) sit one point behind the second-place Panthers. The Stars (54 points) remain two behind the fourth-place Nashville Predators.

St. Louis Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly scored twice, including the winner in overtime, as his club nipped the Minnesota Wild 5-4. Kevin Fiala had a three-point game for the Wild as they rallied from a 4-2 deficit to force the extra period. The Blues (52 points) have won four straight games to open a five-point lead over the Arizona Coyotes for fourth place in the Honda West Division. The Wild are in third place with 66 points. Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko missed the game with a lower-body injury.

Auston Matthews tallied his 36th goal of the season as the Toronto Maple Leafs downed the Vancouver Canucks 4-1. Mitch Marner had a goal and an assist for the Leafs, who sit atop the Scotia North Division with 69 points. The Canucks have dropped four of their last five games. Earlier in the day, the Leafs placed defenseman Zach Bogosian (shoulder) on long-term injury reserve.

The Calgary Flames kept their slim playoff hopes alive with a 3-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers. Elias Lindholm scored twice for the Flames (47 points), who’ve won four of their last five contests and sit four points behind the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens. The Oilers are in second place with 60 points.

A two-goal performance by Yegor Sherangovich powered the New Jersey Devils over the Philadelphia Flyers 5-3, eliminating the latter from playoff contention. Earlier in the day, the Flyers announced goaltender Carter Hart will miss the rest of the season with a sprained MCL in his left knee.

IN OTHER NEWS…

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Anaheim Ducks goaltender Ryan Miller has announced his retirement at the end of this season. He’s spent 18 seasons in the NHL with the Buffalo Sabres, St. Louis Blues, Vancouver Canucks and the Ducks. Miller spent nearly 11 seasons with the Sabres, winning the Vezina Trophy in 2009-10. He leads all American-born NHL goalies with 390 wins and sits second with 44 shutouts and 794 games played. He’s 14th on the all-time wins list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Miller was in his prime during his years with the Sabres, backstopping them to back-to-back Eastern Conference Finals in 2006 and 2007. He was also named MVP of the 2010 Winter Olympics as Team USA won the silver medal in Men’s Hockey. Best wishes to Miller and his family in their future endeavors.

TSN: The NHL is expected to reach a decision between June 1-5 as to where the winner of the Scotia North Division will play its home games. Discussions between the league and the Canadian federal government are ongoing.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The ongoing closure of the Canada-US border to non-essential travel and traffic could mean whoever comes out of the North Division will have to play all their remaining playoff games in the United States. That means the league will have to find a suitable venue to host the Canadian team.

THE AHL: announced the Calder Cup won’t be awarded this season. Instead, the Pacific Division will hold a tournament to decide its division champion. The first-place teams in the other four divisions will be named division champions.

CALGARY SUN: Original Flames co-owner Byron J. Seaman passed away last weekend at age 97. He was among the ownership group that moved the Flames to Calgary from Atlanta in 1980 and held a stake in the franchise for the next three decades.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Seaman’s family, friends and the Flames organization.










Rick Nash Trade Tree Continues to Sprout Roots for Rangers

Rick Nash Trade Tree Continues to Sprout Roots for Rangers

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 9, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 9, 2020

Auston Matthews sets an NHL record for American-born players, Logan Couture sidelined, the Flames re-sign Rasmus Andersson, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews became the first American-born player to score 30 goals in each of his first four NHL seasons in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Winnipeg Jets. Matthews reached the milestone by scoring twice against the Jets, who took the game on Blake Wheeler’s game-winner. With the win, the Jets hold the first wild-card berth (52 points) in the Western Conference. Before the game, Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly admitted he’s been playing through a lower-body injury this season.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews is the first American-born player to score 30 goals in each of his first four NHL seasons (Photo via NHL Images).

Kevin Hayes’ shorthanded second-period goal proved to be the game-winner as the Philadelphia Flyers held off the Washington Capitals 3-2, snapping a four-game losing skid.

The Dallas Stars picked up their fifth straight win by edging the Los Angeles Kings 2-1. Anton Khudobin made 30 saves while Jamie Benn and Blake Comeau scored within 37 seconds in the second period.

HEADLINES

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks captain Logan Couture reportedly fractured an ankle during his club’s 3-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday. He’s listed as week-to-week and could be sidelined for at least six weeks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Losing their leading scorer could be the death blow to the Sharks’ fading playoff hopes.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks goaltender Robin Lehner is ready to return from a knee injury, but center Dylan Strome will miss at least one game with a sprained ankle.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Despite Corey Perry’s suspension, the Anaheim Ducks still intend to honor his tenure with the club during tonight’s game against the Dallas Stars. Perry spent 14 seasons with the Ducks, helping them win the Stanley Cup in 2007 and winning Hart and Maurice Richard trophies in 2011. He signed with the Stars last summer after the Ducks bought out his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Perry’s chippy style of play aside, he was one of the best players in Ducks’ history. He sits second in games-played (988) and goals (372) and third in assists (404) and points (776). For a time, he was also among the league’s elite scorers.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba donated $11.2K to help with Australia’s wildfire relief. He spent over two weeks last spring touring the country’s east coast and credits the experience with helping him mentally overcome a pectoral injury that cost him half of last season.

CALGARY SUN: The Flames re-signed defenseman Rasmus Andersson to a six-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $4.55 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Andersson, 23, has quickly established himself as a key member of the Flames’ defense corps. This is a good move by management, locking him into a long-term deal that could become a bargain as he continues his development as a top-pairing rearguard.

TSN: Montreal Canadiens forward Nick Cousins was fined over $2,600.00 for boarding Detroit Red Wings defenseman Mike Green.

New York Rangers defenseman Ryan Lindgren won’t face supplemental discipline for his hit on Colorado Avalanche winger Joonas Donskoi.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maybe the department of player safety decided he suffered enough punishment after getting his butt kicked by Nazem Kadri following that hit.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins placed Joseph Blandisi on waivers.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington has agreed to a shootout challenge with pop star Justin Bieber with the proceeds going to a charity of the winner’s choice. It appears the challenge will take place during the offseason.

MLIVE.COM: Detroit Red Wings fans sang “O Canada” prior to Tuesday’s game against the Montreal Canadiens after the anthem singer’s microphone malfunctioned.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Classy move by Wings fans.










NHL Rumor Mill – November 24, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – November 24, 2018

Latest on the Bruins, Wild, Canadiens, and Coyotes in your NHL rumor mill.

BRUINS INTERESTED IN COYLE?

THE ATHLETIC: With Patrice Bergeron sidelined at least four weeks with a rib injury, Joe McDonald reports the Boston Bruins are looking at the possibility of trading for a center. That will depend on whether Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson can handle the first-line center role in Bergeron’s absence.

McDonald claims the Bruins could revisit their offseason interest in Minnesota Wild center Charlie Coyle, with either Ryan Donato, Danton Heinen, or Anders Bjork packaged with a draft pick heading the other way. Coyle would be seen as a stopgap measure until Bergeron’s return, providing much-needed depth down the middle for the Bruins for the remainder of the season.

The Boston Bruins could have interest in acquiring Minnesota Wild center Charlie Coyle. (Photo via NHL Images)

 McDonald also suggests St. Louis Blues center Tyler Bozak or Arizona Coyotes center Derek Stepan as alternative trade options.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Coyle’s name surfaced last season in the trade-rumor mill. As we’ll see below, he’s considered by some as a potential trade chip for the Wild. If the Bruins are in the market for a center, Coyle seems a more likely trade option than Bozak or Stepan.

The Blues signed Bozak last summer and I don’t think they’re looking at making trades just yet, especially involving one of their recent veteran additions. Given the Coyotes’ lack of depth at center, I don’t think they’re keen to move Stepan unless they’re getting a proven center in return. 

WILD TRADE CANDIDATES

THE ATHLETIC: Michael Russo recently speculated over possible Minnesota Wild trade candidates and if the club could pursue a deal to acquire Toronto Maple Leafs restricted free agent William Nylander before Dec. 1.

He dismissed the notion of the Wild landing Nylander, pointing out whatever interest management may have had a month ago has waned since the Wild 11 of their last 16 (13 of their last 18 since Nov. 23). Russo also cites a source claiming general manager Paul Fenton isn’t going there as it’s too complicated, with the Leafs likely to ask for defenseman Matt Dumba and Nylander reportedly seeking over $8 million per season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless the Leafs are willing to accept Jared Spurgeon instead of Dumba and if the Wild can convince Nylander to accept a more affordable contract, I don’t see the young Swede continuing his NHL career in Minnesota. 

Russo considers Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter among the Wild’s most likely to move candidates. He also suggests they might consider trading pending unrestricted free agent Eric Staal if their season goes off the rails by the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Wild remain in playoff contention Staal isn’t going anywhere. Russo believes Coyle isn’t a finisher and just lacks a killer instinct while Niederreiter’s current struggles have to be troubling for Wild management. Still, I believe there is a market for either guy if Fenton puts one or both on the trade block. 

POTENTIAL CANADIENS TRADE CANDIDATES

THE ATHLETIC: Arpon Basu lists Charlie Hudon, David Schlemko, Tomas Tatar, Andrew Shaw, and Jordie Benn as possible Montreal Canadiens’ trade candidates, with little-used forward Nikita Schebak as the most likely to go. 

Canadiens coach Claude Julien isn’t pleased with Hudon’s defensive shortcomings. Schlemko’s injury history and $2.1-million salary-cap hit could make him difficult to move. Tatar’s play this season has increased his trade value but also his value to the retooling Canadiens. Shaw is having success skating alongside Max Domi and Jonathan Drouin but Basu speculates GM Marc Bergevin might listen if the price is right.

NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: During an appearance yesterday on Calgary’s Sportsnet 960, NHL insider Elliotte Friedman discussed the Florida Panthers’ potential interest in Montreal Canadiens third-string goaltender Charlie Lindgren. He believes the Panthers had interest in the promising Lindgren last season but believes the Canadiens could set a high asking price.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Canadiens become sellers it’ll likely be in the New Year, probably in the weeks leading up to the Feb. 25, 2019 trade deadline. Of those who could move, Benn seems the likely option as the Habs will soon have a logjam on the blueline when Shea Weber and Noah Juulsen return from injuries. If call-up Brett Kulak keeps playing as well as he did in last night’s game against Buffalo, it could increase the likelihood of Benn hitting the trade block. 

As for Lindgren, he’s in the first season of a three-year contract and the Canadiens aren’t in any rush to move him. Still, they could use him as trade bait at some point to address another roster need. 

POSSIBLE COYOTES TRADE CANDIDATES

THE ATHLETIC: Craig Morgan recently listed Brendan Perlini, Richard Panik, Dylan Strome, and perhaps Alex Goligoski as potential Arizona Coyotes’ trade candidates. Perlini is struggling to produce, Panik’s a frequent resident in coach Rick Tocchet’s doghouse, while flaws in Strome’s game raise questions over where he’d be playing if Christian Dvorak weren’t sidelined. Meanwhile, Jakob Chychrun could soon be ready to take Goligoski’s place among the Coyotes’ top-four defensemen. 

 










NHL Rumor Mill – November 19, 2018

NHL Rumor Mill – November 19, 2018

Latest on the Flames, Penguins, and Oilers in your NHL rumor mill.

MORE POSSIBLE FLAMES GOALIE TARGETS

SPORTSNET: Sergei Bobrovsky of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cory Schneider of the New Jersey Devils, and Jimmy Howard of the Detroit Red Wings top Rory Boylen’s list of possible trade targets if the Calgary Flames decide to go shopping for a goaltender. The others are Jaroslav Halak of the Boston Bruins, Charlie Lindgren of the Montreal Canadiens, Ryan Miller of the Anaheim Ducks, and Craig Anderson of the Ottawa Senators.

Could the Calgary Flames target Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard for a possible trade? (Photo via NHL Images)

Several of these goalies (Bobrovsky, Schneider, Howard, and Lindgren) were discussed by Elliotte Friedman during a recent appearance on Calgary’s Sportsnet 960. Boylen noted Bobrovsky’s no-movement clause makes it unlikely he’ll come to Calgary. He also observed Schneider’s been struggling to regain his form following offseason hip surgery.

Friedman suggested Howard might be a better option, even though there are rumors that he’s looking at signing a short-term contract extension with the Red Wings. He doubts the Flames can pry Halak away from the Bruins and thinks Lindgren could be a more affordable acquisition than Howard.

Boylen wonders if Miller might be an option near the trade deadline if the Ducks are out of playoff contention by that point. Anderson expressed interest in a trade during the summer as he was growing weary of the drama surrounding the team. However, their surprising play this season and lack of a quality goalie in their system who can step into the starter’s job could make the Senators reluctant to move him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bobrovsky’s not joining the Flames via trade. Even if he was willing to accept a move to Calgary, the Blue Jackets’ asking price and the high cost of re-signing him could hurt the Flames more than he could help. Schneider’s difficulties won’t make him an attractive option for the Flames, assuming he’s willing to waive his no-trade clause.

Howard’s played a crucial role in the Wings’ recent resurgence. He wants to stay in Detroit and the Wings appear keen to keep him. Unless things go off the rails in the coming weeks, I don’t think Howard’s available. Tuukka Rask’s inconsistency this season means the Bruins aren’t parting with Halak.

Anderson could become available if Senators owner Eugene Melnyk decides to blow things up but that’s unlikely to happen as long as the club continues to exceed expectations this season. As for Miller, his wife is actress Noureen DuWulf so I don’t think he’s keen to leave Anaheim even if the Ducks continue to struggle this season. 

Of those on this list, Lindgren seems the most likely trade option but there’s no certainty the Canadiens will part with him. Montreal general manager Marc Bergevin could prefer keeping Lindgren as insurance in case Carey Price or Antti Niemi get hurt at some point in the season. 

MORE PENGUINS SPECULATION

SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston reports the Pittsburgh Penguins aren’t likely to stop at their recent addition of winger Tanner Pearson, especially when they’re sitting at the bottom of the Eastern Conference and GM Jim Rutherford remaining keen to deal.

Johnston noted younger winger Daniel Sprong has surfaced in the trade-rumor mill and defenseman Olli Maatta’s name has popped up as well. “There have even been some renewed whispers about Phil Kessel’s availability — although the Penguins need more scoring behind Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, not less, and Kessel has an eye-popping 115 points to show for his last 100 games.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t see Kessel going anywhere. He’s their leading goal scorer (nine goals) and sits second in points (23) behind Evgeni Malkin. Sprong and Maatta are more likely trade candidates. Forwards Bryan Rust and Riley Sheahan could also be available.