NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 11, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 11, 2018

Check out the latest entering the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

Boston Bruins winger Rick Nash will return to action for Game 1 against Toronto (Photo via NHL Images).

 BOSTON HERALD: After missing 12 games with a concussion, winger Rick Nash will return to the Bruins lineup for Game 1 of their opening-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs tomorrow night. Nash’s return means promising rookie forward Ryan Donato will be a healthy scratch

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals named Philipp Grubauer as their starting goaltender for Game 1 of their first-round series tomorrow against the Columbus Blue Jackets. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Grubauer has only two postseason games under his belt but had better stats this season than starter Braden Holtby. Makes sense to go with the hot hand to open the series.

NORTHJERSEY.COM: New Jersey Devils forward Marcus Johansson participated in practice yesterday but appears unlikely to skate in Game 1 of their series against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Johansson missed the final 35 games of the regular season to a concussion. Checking-line forward Stefan Noesen is expected to be in the lineup for the opening game tomorrow.

SUN-SENTINEL.COM: As the Florida Panthers begin their offseason, veteran goaltender Roberto Luongo intends to return next season. “I’m not going anywhere,” said the 39-year-old netminder. 

NEW YORK POST: Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist admitted he played through a knee injury that plagued him since late-October. It was the same knee he injured playing for Sweden in last year’s World Championships. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lundqvist said he’d been managing the injury and was undergoing an MRI soon. There’s no indication he faces surgery. 

STLTODAY.COM: St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko will undergo surgery today to repair a dislocated left shoulder suffered in the final game of the regular season. His recovery period is expected to be between four-to-six months, taking him up to the start of training camp in September. 

THE ATHLETIC: Dallas Stars center Martin Hanzal is cautiously optimistic he’ll be able to resume his NHL career after undergoing back surgery last month. It was the third back operation for the 31-year-old Hanzal. 

MLIVE.COM: The Detroit Red Wings confirm Jeff Blashill will return next season as head coach.  


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 25, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 25, 2018

Games recaps, Connor McDavid takes over the lead in the scoring race, Bruce Boudreau reaches a coaching milestone and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid scored twice to take over the lead in the NHL scoring race as his club nipped the Los Angeles Kings 3-2. McDavid now has 96 points, one ahead of Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov. The loss leaves the Kings with 89 points, sitting just outside of a the final wild-card berth in the Western Conference.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid has taken over the lead in the NHL scoring race. (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers may be eliminated from playoff contention, but McDavid is making a statement that he’s not about to quit on this season. His recent surge in the scoring race will provide more fodder for those who believe he’s a Hart Trophy candidate this season. 

The Colorado Avalanche edged the Vegas Golden Knights 2-1 on an overtime goal by Gabriel Landeskog. Semyon Varlamov made 39 saves for the win. The Avs (90 points) moved into the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference while preventing the Golden Knights (101 points) from clinching a playoff spot. Vegas defenseman Deryk Engelland missed his second straight game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights are assured of a playoff berth but they have struggled a bit of late, dropping four of their last six contests. 

Minnesota Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau got his 500th career victory as his club defeated the Nashville Predators 4-1. Jason Zucker had a goal and an assist for the Wild, who limited the Predators to 20 shots. With 92 points, the Wild maintain their hold on third place in the Central Division.

The Toronto Maple Leafs edged the Detroit Red Wings 4-3, picking up their 13th straight home win and tying their franchise record with 45 wins. William Nylander and Nazem Kadri scored the tying and winning goals respectively in the third period for the Leafs (97 points), who sit third in the Atlantic Division.

The St. Louis Blues (89 points) climbed into the final wild-card berth in the Western Conference by edging the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1. Jake Allen turned aside 33 shots for the win as the Blues handed the Jackets their first loss in 11 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Teetering on the brink of falling completely out of the playoff race over two weeks ago, the Blues are now one of the league’s hottest teams, winning five straight games and seven of their last ten. 

New Jersey Devils goaltender Keith Kinkaid kicked out 35 shots to give his club a 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. With the win, the Devils (86 points) sit three over the Florida Panthers for the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth.

The Panthers, meanwhile, kept their playoff hopes alive by scoring four unanswered third-period goals to double up the Arizona Coyotes 4-3. Vincent Trocheck scored twice for the Panthers (83 points). The Panthers were playing without goaltender Roberto Luongo, who missed the game with a minor upper-body injury.

Nicklas Backstrom collected four assists while Evgeny Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson each scored twice as the Washington Capitals dumped the Montreal Canadiens 6-4. The Capitals (95 points) opened a five-point lead over the Pittsburgh Penguins for top spot in the Metropolitan Division.

Evander Kane scored twice as the San Jose Sharks downed the flickering Calgary Flames 5-1. With 95 points, the Sharks move to within six points of the Pacific Division-leading Golden Knights.

Cam Ward made 34 saves backstopping the Carolina Hurricanes to a 5-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators. It was the first game for Senators captain Erik Karlsson following the death of his unborn son.

A 31-save effort by Anton Forsberg gave the Chicago Blackhawks a 3-1 win over the New York Islanders, who are falling ever close to being eliminated from playoff contention.

Jimmy Vesey scored twice and set up another as the New York Rangers beat the Buffalo Sabres 5-1.

WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets are downplaying a scrap during practice between Blake Wheeler and Ben Chiarot as simply “boys being boys.”



NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 20, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 20, 2018

Game recaps, stars of the week, injury updates and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Columbus Blue Jackets picked up their eighth consecutive win by edging the Boston Bruins 5-4 on an overtime goal by Cam Atkinson. Rookie Ryan Donato made a memorable debut with a goal and two assists for the injury-ravaged Bruins, who were playing without winger Rick Nash and defenseman Adam McQuaid. The Jackets (85 points) move into a tie with the Philadelphia Flyers for third in the Metropolitan Division.

Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne picked up his 40th win of the season with a 35-save shutout of the Buffalo Sabres. Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson each had two points for the Predators, who extended their points streak to 15 games.

Florida Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo picked up his 76th career NHL shutout in a 2-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens (Photo via NHL Images)

Florida Panthers netminder Roberto Luongo collected his 76th career shutout backstopping his club to a 2-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens. Aaron Ekblad and Aleksander Barkov were the goal scorers. The Panthers (79 points) sit three points behind the New Jersey Devils for the final wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.

Dustin Brown’s game-tying goal set the stage for Jeff Carter’s overtime winner as the Los Angeles Kings rallied to defeat the Minnesota Wild 4-3. Carter scored twice and Drew Doughty had three assists for the Kings (86 points), who maintained their hold on third place in the Pacific Division. Wild center Eric Staal scored his 39th of the season and sits just three shy of Marian Gaborik’s franchise record of 42 goals.

The Calgary Flames’ fading playoff hopes suffered another blow as the Arizona Coyotes scored four unanswered goals on route to a 5-2 win. The Flames (80 points) sit six points out of a Western Conference wild-card spot.  Arizona’s Oliver Ekman-Larsson became the sixth Swedish defenseman in NHL history to tally 100 career goals.

St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon and Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Curtis McElhinney are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending March 18, 2018.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba is sidelined “for the foreseeable future with what is most likely a concussion,” though the club maintained that diagnosis has yet to be made. Trouba currently remains in concussion protocol. 

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Noah Hanifin (concussion) is sidelined indefinitely. 

TORONTO STAR: With a playoff spot assured and five of their last nine games, the Maple Leafs are in no hurry to bring back sidelined first-line center Auston Matthews, who continues to recover from a shoulder injury. 

NBC SPORTS: Some Ottawa Senators fans have expressed their frustrations with team owner Eugene Melnyk by putting up four billboards in downtown Ottawa calling for Melnyk to sell the club. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s unlikely Melnyk will be moved by the billboards, but he should at least consider the reasons why some fans are taking this unusual step. He’s been the target of growing annoyance among Sens followers for the club’s disappointing performance this season, fueled in part by his tone-deaf criticisms of their support and his recent veiled threat to move the franchise. Melnyk has his work cut out for him to repair his relationship with the fans, though he’s shown little interest thus far in doing so. 

TSN: NHL general managers are weighing potential change to goaltender interference. Those changes, however, are unlikely to be implemented before the end of this season. 

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS:  Larry Kwong, the NHL’s first player of Asian descent, passed away last week at age 94. Kwong played one game with the Rangers in 1947-48. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Kwong’s family and friends. 

Happy birthday to Bobby Orr, the greatest defenseman in NHL history. Orr turns 70 today. 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 9, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 9, 2018

Game recaps, injury updates and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COMTaylor Hall’s 26-game point streak ended as his New Jersey Devils fell to the Winnipeg Jets 3-2. Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck picked up his franchise-record 35th win of the season. Earlier in the day, the Jets learned center Mark Scheifele is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury. 

Winnipeg Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck picked up a franchise-record 35th win of the season. (Photo via NHL Images)

An overtime goal by Seth Jones lifted the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 5-4 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. Thomas Vanek scored twice for the Jackets, while Carl Soderberg netted two goal for the Avs. The win kept the Blue Jackets (75 points) two points up on the Florida Panthers as the two clubs jockey for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

 Marc-Andre Fleury kicked out 28 shots as the Vegas Golden Knights blanked the Detroit Red Wings 4-0. Cody Eakin and Alex Tuch each scored twice for the Golden Knights, whose 19th road win tied the NHL record for most by a team in its inaugural season. Earlier in the day, the Golden Knights learned winger Reilly Smith is day-to-day with an upper-body injury while defenseman Nate Schmidt could rejoin the lineup on Saturday. 

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy picked up his 40th win of the season as his club beat the New York Rangers 5-3. Anthony Cirelli had a goal and two assists for the Lightning. Rangers forward Chris Kreider left the game as a precautionary measure after being hit in the head. 

Roberto Luongo picked up his 75th career shutout backstopping the Florida Panthers to a 5-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens. Keith Yandle picked up three assists for the Panthers. 

The Nashville Predators tied this season’s longest win streak (10 games) by doubling up the Anaheim Ducks 4-2. Preds forwards Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson each had two points, while Ducks forward Rickard Rakell tallied twice. 

Brad Marchand tallied the game-winning goal late in the third period as the Boston Bruins edged the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2. Brian Gionta also scored his first goal since signing with the Bruins before the recent NHL trade deadline. The win was Boston’s fifth straight. 

Sebastian Aho’s third-period goal stood up as the game winner as the Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2. Justin Williams had a goal and an assist for the Hurricanes (71 points), who sit four points out of a wild-card spot in the East. Earlier in the day, the Blackhawks announced the re-signing of defenseman Jan Rutta to a one-year, $2.25-million contract extension. 

Jeff Carter scored and set up another as the Los Angeles Kings (79 points) downed the Washington Capitals 3-1 to regain a one-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference. 

San Jose Sharks goalie Martin Jones collected his fourth shutout of the season in a 2-0 win over the St. Louis Blues. Mikkel Boedker and Tomas Hertl were the goal scorers. 

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid scored the tying and winning goals to lead his club to a 2-1 victory over the New York Islanders (68 points), who’ve dropped eight straight games and are now seven points out of playoff contention. 

The Buffalo Sabres nipped the Ottawa Senators 4-3 on a shootout goal by Jacob Josefson. Sabres forward Sam Reinhart had a goal and an assist. Ryan Dzingel scored twice for the Senators. 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 23, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 23, 2018

Game recaps, Rangers trade Grabner to Devils, Bruins ship Vatrano to Panthers. Details and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.com: Auston Matthews game-tying goal set the stage for Tyler Bozak’s shootout winner as the Toronto Maple Leafs edged the New York Islanders 4-3. Matthews, however, left the game late in the third period with an undisclosed injury. A further update is expected today. Speaking of the Islanders, they’re reportedly closing in on a new five- or six-year contract with winger Josh Bailey worth $5 million annually. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leafs fans will be holding their breath today awaiting further word on Matthews’ condition. As for Bailey, looks like he could get a significant boost over his current $3.3-million annual cap hit. With 62 points in 58 games, the 28-year-old winger is enjoying a career-best season in his contract year. This could be a gamble on the Isles part, and not just because they’re investing so much in a late-blooming scorer. This could also be considered a vital step in their efforts to re-sign franchise player John Tavares before his UFA eligibility on July 1, as Bailey is one of Tavares’ linemates.

The New Jersey Devils acquired winger Michael Grabner from the New York Rangers (Photo via NHL Images).

A three-goal second-period outburst powered the Minnesota Wild to a 4-2 win over the New Jersey Devils. Taylor Hall extended his points streak to 13 by scoring one of the Devils two goals. Meanwhile, the Devils acquired winger Michael Grabner from the New York Rangers in exchange for their 2018 second-round pick and defenseman prospect Yegor Rykov. It’s the first trade between the two clubs since the Devils moved to New Jersey in 1982

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Grabner was one of the notable names among the trade candidates heading toward Monday’s 3 PM ET trade deadline. A speedy forward with a good scoring touch who can play either wing and kill penalties, Grabner was also one of the more affordable rental players on the market, carrying a $1.6-million salary-cap hit. With the Devils jockeying for playoff position,Grabner should provide a much-needed boost to their forward lines.

Speaking of the Rangers, they fell 3-1 to the Montreal Canadiens. The Habs were playing without goaltender Carey Price, who’s sidelined indefinitely after suffering a concussion in Tuesday’s loss to Philadelphia. They also announced defenseman Shea Weber, sidelined since Dec. 16 with a foot injury, will undergo season-ending surgery. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: RIP Montreal Canadiens’ 2017-18 season. You started ugly, finished poorly and won’t be missed by Habs fans. 

A late third-period goal by Vincent Trocheck gave the Florida Panthers a 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals. Before the game, Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo delivered an emotional speech honoring the victims of last week’s Stoneman Douglas school shooting. Luongo lives in Parkland, where the school is located, and expressed his support for the school’s survivors, many of whom are advocating for tougher gun laws. 

Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne collected his 300th career NHL victory as he made 33 saves to help his club crush the San Jose Sharks 7-1. 

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov tallied his league-leading 80th point as his club edged the Ottawa Senators 4-3. 

Johnny Gaudreau’s three-point performance (one goal, two assists) led the Calgary Flames to a 5-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes, snapping the Flames three-game losing skid and the Coyotes four-game win streak. 

Goaltender Petr Mrazek picked up his first win with the Philadelphia Flyers, backstopping them to a 2-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Flyers captain Claude Giroux scored one goal and set up the other.

Kari Lehtonen had an 18-save shutout performance as the Dallas Stars blanked the Los Angeles Kings 2-0. 

The Edmonton Oilers nipped the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 on an overtime goal by Connor McDavid. 

Marco Scandella’s overtime goal lifted the Buffalo Sabres to a 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings. 

BOSTON HERALD: The Bruins traded winger Frank Vatrano to the Florida Panthers in exchange for a third-round selection in the 2018 NHL Draft. They also announced forward Anders Bjork underwent successful shoulder surgery on Wednesday and is expected to require six months of recovery. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vatrano was once considered a promising scoring forward but he was surpassed on the Bruins depth chart by youngsters Danton Heinen and Jake DeBrusk. With the Panthers trying to reach the playoffs, Vatrano could provide some depth to their forward line. This move should also give him an opportunity to get his NHL career back on track. 

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues placed defenseman Robert Bortuzzo (knee)  on injured reserve 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 18, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 18, 2018

Game recaps plus the latest on Nathan MacKinnon, Cam Talbot, Devante Smith-Pelly and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

Washington Capitals winger Devante Smith-Pelly was the target of racial taunts by several Chicago Blackhawks fans (Photo via NHL Images)

  NHL.COM: The Chicago Blackhawks snapping an eight-game losing skid by crushing the Washington Capitals 7-1 was overshadowed by several Blackhawks fans racially taunting Capitals winger Devante Smith-Pelly while he was in the penalty box serving a five-minute fighting major. The four fans were identified and ejected from the game. The Blackhawks subsequently issued an apology to Smith-Pelly and the Capitals.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Capitals coach Barry Trotz summed it up perfectly following the game: “There is absolutely no place in the game of hockey, or our country, for racism. I think it’s disgusting,” Trotz told reporters. “There’s no place for it. Athletes in this country don’t deserve that. It just shows ignorance.”

Arizona Coyotes goaltender Antti Raanta made 40 saves to pick up his first shutout of the season in a 1-0 blanking of the Edmonton Oilers. Following the game, Oilers goalie Cam Talbot voiced his displeasure over the league’s goaltender interference rules after two calls went against his club. “There’s no consistency and I’m fucking sick of it,” said Talbot. “It’s fucking ridiculous. You can quote me, they can fine me, I don’t give a fuck anymore.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see what the NHL’s reaction will be toward Talbot, whose frustration is likely shared by many of his peers around the league. 

The Vegas Golden Knights set another milestone with their 6-3 win over the floundering Montreal Canadiens, tying the record for most home wins (22) for a team in its inaugural season. Reilly Smith scored twice and Jonathan Marchessault collected three assists for the Golden Knights.

The Pittsburgh Penguins collected their 11th straight home victory by downing the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-3. Pittsburgh center Evgeni Malkin scored a goal and added two assists, becoming the fourth player in Penguins history to reach 900 career points.

Florida Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo made a triumphant return to action on Saturday with a 30-save effort in a 6-3 victory over the Calgary Flames. It was Luongo’s first start since being sidelined by injury on Dec. 4. Mike Matheson had two goals and Aleksander Barkov collected three points.

Ottawa Senators center Derick Brassard scored a goal and set up two other as his club downed the New York Rangers 6-3. Rangers winger Michael Grabner had two goals, while teammate Pavel Buchnevich returned to action after missing seven games with a concussion.

Eddie Lack kicked out 48 shots backstopping the New Jersey Devils to their third straight win by edging the struggling Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3. The Bolts have dropped three of their last four games. Devils forward Miles Wood could face supplemental discipline for boarding Lightning forward Vladislav Namestnikov.

The Los Angeles Kings snapped a three-game losing skid by doubling up the Buffalo Sabres 4-2. Anze Kopitar led the way with two goals for the Kings, who picked up their first win in Buffalo in 15 years.

Detroit Red Wings goaltender Petr Mrazek made 31 saves to give his club a 3-1 win over the Nashville Predators.

Loui Eriksson scored twice to lead the Vancouver Canucks to a 6-1 upset of the Boston Bruins.

Nick Ritchie’s goal in the 11th round of the shootout gave the Anaheim Ducks a 3-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild.

The Columbus Blue Jackets activated defenseman Ryan Murray off injured reserve and sent him to their AHL affiliate for conditioning. 

NBC SPORTS: Good news for the Colorado Avalanche, as leading scorer Nathan MacKinnon will return to action on Sunday against the Edmonton Oilers after missing eight games with an upper-body injury. Unfortunately, they’ll be playing without backup goaltender Jonathan Bernier, who suffered a head injury during the Avs 6-1 loss on Friday to Winnipeg. 

TSN: Former NHL defenseman Greg Smyth recently passed away at age 51. He played in “228 career games over 10 NHL seasons with the Flyers, Quebec Nordiques, Calgary Flames, Florida Panthers, Toronto Maple Leafs and Chicago Blackhawks” from 1986-87 to 1996-97.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Smyth’s friends, family and former teammates.