NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 28, 2023
The Golden Knights eliminate the Jets, the Lightning stay alive against the Leafs while the Devils are on the verge of eliminating the Rangers. Details and much more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: The Vegas Golden Knights are the first team to advance to the second round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 4-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets in Game 5 of their best-of-seven series. Mark Stone had a goal and two assists, Chandler Stephenson scored two goals and former Jets backup goaltender Laurent Brossoit made 29 saves for the win. The Golden Knights await the winner of the Edmonton Oilers-Los Angeles Kings series.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A well-deserved series win for the Golden Knights, especially over the last two games after defeating the Jets with an overtime victory in Game 3. Vegas forward Phil Kessel was scratched to make room for returning winger William Carrier. It’s the first game Kessel’s missed since 2009 but doesn’t affect his NHL Ironman record as that involves consecutive regular-season games.
Jets head coach Rick Bowness was furious with his club’s performance in this series and during the season. He vented his displeasure during a short press conference following the game, criticizing his players for a lack of pushback and pride. “I’m so disappointed and disgusted right now,” said Bowness.
Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers made his series debut in this contest after being sidelined since Apr. 11 with an upper-body injury but was held scoreless.
Changes could be coming for the Jets roster this summer. I’ll have more in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.
The Tampa Bay Lightning stayed alive in their series with the Toronto Maple Leafs with a 4-2 win in Game 5 of their opening-round series. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 28 shots, Anthony Cirelli and Michael Eyssimont each had a goal and an assist and Nick Paul scored the game-winner for the Lightning. Morgan Rielly and Auston Matthews tallied for the Maple Leafs, who hold a 3-2 lead in the series as it returns to Tampa Bay for Game 6 on Saturday night.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eyssimont replaced Tanner Jeannot, who was sidelined with an undisclosed injury.
Leafs fans can be forgiven if a feeling of dread is creeping in right now. After all, their club was in a similar position two years ago against the Montreal Canadiens but went on to lose that series in seven games. I still believe the Leafs will win this one but if they lose Game 6 they could be in big trouble given their recent history.
The Lightning lacks the depth that carried them to three straight Stanley Cup Finals but they served up a reminder in this contest that they still have enough talent and heart to battle back. They’re not going to go quietly and they don’t want to be eliminated on home ice. Game 6 should be a dandy.
New Jersey Devils rookie goalie Akira Schmid turned in a 23-save shutout to blank the New York Rangers 4-0 in Game 5 of their first-round series. Erik Haula netted two goals and an assist while Dawson Mercer had a goal and an assist as the Devils hold a 3-2 series lead and can wrap things up in New York on Saturday night.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers are in trouble as the Devils have seized the momentum by overcoming an 0-2 series deficit to find themselves on the verge of advancing to the second round.
They’ve done it by effectively neutralizing the Rangers’ star-studded offense, especially their power play. Schmid has played a big role in that since taking over as the Devils’ starter in Game 3, allowing just two goals on 82 shots to pick up three straight wins.
THE DENVER POST: A Seattle police department report revealed a woman was found so intoxicated in Colorado Avalanche winger Valeri Nichushkin’s hotel room on Saturday that a team doctor called an ambulance to take her to a hospital.
Nichushkin didn’t play Game 3 of the Avs’ first-round series with the Seattle Kraken later that day and hasn’t been with the team since the incident. A club spokesman declined to comment on whether Nichushkin’s absence to connected to the incident but said the winger is currently not with the team.
The Avalanche previously said Nichushkin was away from the club for “personal reasons.” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said his ongoing absence isn’t disciplinary and not related to legal issues, adding the team has been in contact with him. Bednar offered no timeline as to when Nichushkin might return to the lineup.
A Seattle Police Department spokesperson said there is no criminal investigation stemming from this incident. A Denver Police Department lieutenant who travels with the Avalanche told Seattle police that there were “no reports of any criminal interactions.”
TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov is confident he’ll break out of his four-game scoring slump against the Dallas Stars in Game 6 tonight in Minnesota. The Stars lead the series 3-2.
TSN: There’s a chance that Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Frederik Andersen could make his debut in this postseason tonight against the New York Islanders. He’d been sidelined from the first five games due to illness and an undisclosed injury. The Hurricanes hold a 3-2 series lead over the Islanders and could wrap things up with a win tonight.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins center David Krejci traveled with his team to Florida and hasn’t been ruled out of playing in Game 6 against the Panthers tonight. The Bruins hold a 3-2 series lead.
LA KINGS INSIDER: Kings forward Blake Lizotte could be ready to return to the lineup for Game 6 of their first-round series with the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday. He’s been sidelined since Game 2 with a lower-body injury.