NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 2, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 2, 2022

The Rangers take Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the latest on the Avalanche and Oilers, the Canadiens make Martin St. Louis their full-time head coach, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The New York Rangers drew first blood with the Tampa Bay Lightning with a convincing 6-2 victory in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. A four-goal second period powered New York to victory with Filip Chytil scoring two of them. Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad and Frank Vatrano each had a goal and an assist while Igor Shesterkin made 37 saves for the win. Steven Stamkos and Ondrej Palat replied for the Lightning. Game 2 goes Friday night in New York.

New York Rangers forward Filip Chytil (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This game was close until the Rangers blew it open midway through the second period, controlling the play and pinning Tampa Bay in their own zone for lengthy stretches of time. Their “Kid Line” of Chytil, Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko made the difference as they gave the Lightning fits throughout this game. Shesterkin frustrated the Bolts’ scorers, shutting the door after Palat’s goal.

The Lightning looked rusty from their 10-day layoff following their second-round sweep of the Florida Panthers. I anticipate a better performance from them in Game 2. The Bolts also suffered a blowout series-opening loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round but rallied back and eventually took that series.

The Rangers were the better team in Game 1 and their victory was well-deserved. Nevertheless, they must avoid getting swept up too much in the emotion of this big win. Their opponent hasn’t lost consecutive postseason games since 2019.

SPORTSNET: Speaking of the Lightning, head coach Jon Cooper confirmed before Game 1 that sidelined center Brayden Point probably won’t play in this series against the Rangers. He suffered a lower-body injury in Game 7 of their first-round series with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cooper said Point is over the worst of his injury and is improving daily. Footage emerged yesterday showing him skating with full equipment for the first time since he got hurt. However, it doesn’t seem likely he’ll be returning for this series.

Edmonton Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft declined to say whether Mike Smith or Mikko Koskinen will be the starting goaltender for Game 2 against the Colorado Avalanche in the Western Conference Finals on Thursday. Smith was replaced in the second period of Game 1 after giving up six goals on 25 shots. Koskinen gave up one goal on 21 shots in the 8-6 loss.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche starter Darcy Kuemper’s status remains uncertain for Game 2 after leaving the opening game with an upper-body injury.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens officially removed the “interim” tag from head coach Martin St. Louis’ job title. On Wednesday morning, they announced the signing of St. Louis to a three-year contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lacking NHL experience behind the bench, St. Louis did a good job stepping in back in February and improving the struggling Canadiens. This rebuilding club still has a long way to go to become a playoff contender again but they obviously liked what they saw in St. Louis’ efforts in improving struggling players like Cole Caufield.

NHL.COM: Los Angeles Kings captain Anze Kopitar is this year’s winner of the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of all the awards Kopitar has won in his long and successful NHL career, the Messier Leadership Award is one of them.

THE SCORE: Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Frederik Andersen missed the 2022 playoffs with an MCL tear. He suffered the injury on April 16 in a game against the Colorado Avalanche.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We don’t know if a healthy Andersen might’ve changed the outcome of the Hurricanes’ second-round series against the New York Rangers. Still, having their starter on the sidelines certainly didn’t help the Canes.

TSN: The St. Louis Blues signed defenseman Calle Rosen to a two-year, two-way contract.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 26, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 26, 2022

The Blues defeat the Avalanche to stave off elimination, the latest news on the Flames-Oilers and Hurricanes-Rangers series, updates on the Panthers, Tom Wilson undergoes knee surgery & more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Tyler Bozak’s overtime goal lifted the St. Louis Blues over the Colorado Avalanche 5-4 in Game 5 of their second-round series. The Blues overcame 3-1 and 4-3 deficits, setting the stage for Bozak’s OT heroics. Robert Thomas scored twice, Nick Leddy collected three assists and Vladimir Tarasenko had a goal and an assist for the Blues. Nathan MacKinnon tallied a hat trick for the Avalanche, who hold a 3-2 lead in this series as it returns to St. Louis for Game 6 on Thursday.

St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche seemed to have this game in the bag, holding a 2-0 first-period lead and 3-1 after the second. However, they let it slip through their fingers in the third by playing to protect the lead, enabling the Blues to tie the game. MacKinnon’s breathtaking end-to-end goal late in the third restored the Avs’ lead but the Blues pulled goalie Ville Husso and tied it again with less than a minute remaining in the period.

Before the game, Blues head coach Craig Berube spoke out against the racist threats aimed at Avalanche center Nazem Kadri. Claiming he’s not on social media, Berube said he was aware that a threat had been made against Kadri but didn’t know about the “racist stuff.” The threats led to heightened security by St. Louis police around the Blues arena (Enterprise Center) and the Avalanche’s hotel before and during Game 4.

DAILY HIVE: Edmonton Oilers winger Evander Kane didn’t join his teammates in Calgary yesterday as he took time away to be with girlfriend Mara Teigen for the birth of their child. He’s expected to rejoin his teammates today and be in the lineup for tonight’s Game 5 against the Flames. The Oilers hold a 3-1 series lead.

CALGARY SUN: Speaking of the Flames, three Calgary businessmen have engaged with the club in hope of reviving and mediating arena talks between the club’s ownership and the city.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames are in need of a new arena to replace the nearly 40-year-old Saddledome. After talks with the city fell through, ownership indicated they will not relocate the Flames but will continue to operate out of their current arena. Nevertheless, everyone understands that’s not a viable long-term solution. Time will tell if these efforts to restart those negotiations will be successful.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour called out his struggling scorers to step up their performances. Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechnikov, Teuvo Teravainen, Vincent Trocheck and Martin Necas have been outplayed by the Rangers. Brind’Amour praised rookie winger Seth Jarvis for his effort during their two losses against the Rangers but felt the 20-year-old can’t be their best player.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers’ power play was a key factor in the club’s two wins to tie their series with the Carolina Hurricanes at two games apiece.

THE SCORE: Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov endorsed interim coach Andrew Brunette. “He did an unbelievable job,” said Barkov, stressing how much the players respected Brunette and enjoyed playing for him this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers enjoyed their best regular season in franchise history under Brunette, taking the Presidents’ Trophy for finishing atop the overall standings and winning their first postseason series since 1996. Still, there remains uncertainty over whether he’ll return on a full-time basis or be replaced by a more experienced head coach.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Joe Thornton said he hasn’t put any thought yet toward his future following the Panthers’ second-round playoff elimination. The 42-year-old forward intends to take the offseason to consider his options.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Thornton was sidelined for 20 games by injury and used sparingly by the Panthers, appearing in just 34 regular-season games and one playoff contest. He’s an unrestricted free agent this summer but I think his NHL playing days are over.

Claude Giroux can see himself returning with the Panthers next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers acquired Giroux from the Philadelphia Flyers before the trade deadline. A pending free agent, he was a terrific fit with his new club. However, they might not have the cap space to bring him back unless he accepts a significant pay cut from his current $8.275 million cap hit.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Capitals winger Tom Wilson underwent successful surgery on Wednesday to repair a torn ACL in his left knee. His recovery timeline is six-to-eight months.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The earliest he could return to action is late November.

SPORTSNET: Former NHL star Jaromir Jagr was unharmed when his vehicle and a tram collided in Prague. He took responsibility for the accident, saying his view was partially obscured by traffic before crossing into the tram’s path.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Happy to hear Jagr wasn’t hurt in the accident. The photo he shared on Instagram showed his vehicle suffered significant damage.

TSN: Darren Dreger reports a new contract for Montreal Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis is expected to be announced in the near future.

Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion said the knee injury suffered by Tim Stuetzle during the World Championships is the same ailment he dealt with during the regular season. He’ll require a two-week recovery period.

THE PROVINCE: The agent for Alex Chiasson denied a report his client might sign with HC Lugano in Switzerland. The Vancouver Canucks winger is eligible for unrestricted free agent status this summer. However, his agent said Chiasson wants to stay with the Canucks.

TRIBLIVE.COM: After four seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins, defenseman Juuso Riikola has signed with IK Oskarshamm of the Swedish Hockey League.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 1, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 1, 2022

The three stars and the rookie of the month for April are announced, the Red Wings fire head coach Jeff Blashill, plus the latest on Carey Price, Ryan Ellis, Patrik Laine, Mathew Barzal and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (NHL Images).

  NHL.COM: Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith and St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko are the NHL’s three stars for April 2022. Florida Panthers goalie Spencer Knight was named the rookie of the month.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: The Red Wings yesterday fired head coach Jeff Blashill. They also announced assistant coach Doug Houda and goaltending coach Jeff Salajko were relieved of their duties.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blashill spent seven seasons as the Wings’ bench boss. He wasn’t to blame for the club’s struggles as management tore down and rebuilt the roster during those years. However, the Wings’ failure to meet heightened expectations this season led to his downfall.

Detroit Hockey Now’s Kevin Allen reports Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman could seek a head coach who will demand more from his players and develop the club’s young talent. He listed former NHL coaches like John Tortorella, Paul Maurice, Claude Julien, and Jim Montgomery among the possible candidates Yzerman could consider as Blashill’s replacement. It’ll be interesting to see if the Wings GM hires one of those veterans or opts for someone else.

SPORTSNET: Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price said he didn’t believe the current state of his surgically repaired knee would be sustainable to play an entire season. He indicated he’ll be seeking a second opinion regarding ongoing swelling of the knee after games and didn’t rule out a second procedure.

Price, 34, admitted he approached Friday’s season-closing game against the Florida Panthers as if it could be his last. Nevertheless, he remains determined to resume his playing career.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Price will have a longer offseason recovery period this time around compared to last year. Still, the uncertainty over his future could affect the Canadien’s offseason plans. I’ll have more in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Speaking of the Canadiens, general manager Kent Hughes said he’d like to sign interim head coach Martin St. Louis to a three-year contract. On Friday, St. Louis indicated he would be shedding the interim tag and returning next season behind the Canadiens’ bench.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens showed noticeable improvement once St. Louis took over in February. It bodes well for what he might be able to achieve with a better, healthier roster.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Sidelined Flyers defenseman Ryan Ellis dismissed recent speculation suggesting he was unhappy with the team. He also indicated he and the club have determined the root cause of the pelvic injury that limited him to just four games this season. Ellis indicated they now have a clear rehab plan in place and he’s hoping to be healthy for training camp in September.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ellis was expected to be the core piece of the Flyers’ defense corps and an important part of what management hoped would be a bounce-back season for the club. His absence played a big part in their downfall. Getting him back healthy for 2022-23 could help the Flyers get back on track.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: On the subject of Flyers defensemen, Keith Yandle played the final game of his NHL career on Saturday as confirmed by teammate Nick Seeler. The 35-year-old reigning NHL Ironman (989 consecutive games) didn’t speak to the media yesterday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yandle’s performance has been in decline over the past three seasons. In 1,109 games with the Flyers and the Arizona Coyotes, New York Rangers and Florida Panthers, he has 103 goals and 516 assists for 619 career regular-season points.

NHL.COM: Patrik Laine doesn’t see any issues that would prevent him from signing a new contract this summer with the Columbus Blue Jackets. The 24-year-old winger is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. He also thanked the club for their support as he coped with injuries and the death of his father in November.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Laine had 56 points in as many games to finish third among Jackets scorers. He’s completing a one-year, $7.5 million contract and could seek a lucrative long-term deal.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Speaking of the Blue Jackets, goaltender Elvis Merzlikins admitted he found it difficult at times this season to maintain his focus while dealing with the grief of the sudden death last summer of his close friend Matiss Kivlenieks. He said he and goalie coach Manny Legace relied on each other to cope with the emotional trauma. Kivlenieks died during a fireworks accident at Legace’s home last July 4.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Merzlikins admitted he was rattled at times earlier this season by the celebratory cannon fired at Blue Jackets home games and from fireworks displays during last New Year’s Eve celebrations. He managed to overcome those issues thanks in part to Legace’s support.

NEW YORK POST: Islanders center Mathew Barzal indicated his willingness to sign a contract extension. The 24-year-old has a year remaining on his current deal with an annual cap hit of $7 million. “This is where I want to be, this is where I want to win,” said Barzal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello would probably love to ink Barzal to a new deal this summer. His reputation as a tough negotiator, however, could make it a slow process. I’m not saying it won’t get done, but I wouldn’t be surprised if talks drag on through the summer.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets chairman Mark Chipman confirmed general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff will continue in his role into the offseason.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That douses the recent rumors floating around about Cheveldayoff’s future. He has a busy offseason coming up as he must find a new head coach, improve the Jets’ porous defense, and sign restricted free agent center Pierre-Luc Dubois to a new contract.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Kurtis MacDermid was fined $2,187.50 by the NHL department of player safety for kneeing Minnesota Wild winger Marcus Foligno on Friday. Avs forward Logan O’Connor was fined $1,812.50 for cross-checking Wild defenseman Dmitry Kulikov in the same game.

ARIZONA HOCKEY NOW: The Coyotes played their final game at Gila River Arena on Friday. After 19 seasons, they’ll be moving next season to Arizona State’s new hockey arena while awaiting word on a proposed new NHL arena in Tempe.

THE ATHLETIC: Malcolm Subban earned praise from his Buffalo Sabres teammates after singing the National Anthem during the club’s final game of the season on Friday night.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Subban sounded pretty good. Maybe there’s a future for him as a singer following his playing career.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 14, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 14, 2022

The Avalanche sets franchise records in a lopsided win over the Kings, Martin St. Louis clarifies his future plans with the Canadiens, the Flames are poised to clinch a playoff berth and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Colorado Avalanche set franchise records with their 53rd win of the season by crushing the Los Angeles Kings 9-3. Nathan MacKinnon had a hat trick and collected two assists, Cale Makar had a goal and three assists while Valeri Nichushkin and Nicolas Aube-Kubel each scored two goals. The Avalanche also set a franchise record with their 29th home victory, sitting on top of the overall standings with 112 points.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avs’ franchise record for points in a season is 118 in 2000-21. With nine games remaining in their schedule, they can break that record with four more wins. The Kings, meanwhile, cling to third place in the Pacific Division with 88 points, holding a three-point lead over the Vegas Golden Knights.

New York Rangers goaltender Alexandar Georgiev made 28 saves to shut out the Philadelphia Flyers 4-0. Kaapo Kakko scored twice while Jacob Trouba and Barclay Goodrow each had two assists. With 102 points, the Rangers sit two points behind the first-place Carolina Hurricanes in the Metropolitan Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers suffered their 40th loss of the season, marking the second time in franchise history they’ve reached that level. They dropped 48 games in 2006-07.

The Columbus Blue Jackets got two goals from Jack Roslovic and three points from Patrik Laine in a 5-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis indicated he’d like to return behind the Habs bench following yesterday’s morning skate. He said he was brought in to finish the season and that’s where he was putting his focus, but added his goal would be to be back with the club next season.

St. Louis was clarifying earlier comments where he seemed to suggest he might not return after this season, raising some concern among Canadiens fans. He’s in his current position on an interim basis but general manager Kent Hughes recently said he’d like to keep him on as their full-time bench boss.

HEADLINES

CALGARY SUN: The Flames can clinch a playoff berth with a win over the Vegas Golden Knights tonight. They sit in first place in the Pacific Division with 99 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: They’ll have their hands full against a determined opponent battling for a wild-card spot.

SPORTSNET: The NHL department of player safety fined Minnesota Wild forward Ryan Hartman $4,250.00 for unsportsmanlike conduct for flipping off Edmonton Oilers winger Evander Kane on Tuesday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hartman can afford that fine but that hasn’t stopped Wild fans (and Kane’s estranged wife Anna) from chipping in to an online fund to help him pay it off. I suspect he’ll donate that money to charity.

NEW YORK POST: Vitaly Kravtsov will not be joining the Rangers for the upcoming playoffs. However, he remains in good standing with the organization and plans are being made for him to come to New York this summer to get an early start on training camp. Kravtsov, 21, spent this season on loan to the KHL after refusing to report to the Rangers’ AHL affiliate last fall.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kravtsov was a hot topic for early-season trade speculation. He could resurface in this fall’s rumor mill if he fails to secure a full-time roster spot with the Rangers. It’s also possible he gets traded during the offseason if the Rangers get a suitable trade offer.

NHL.COM: Boston’s Fenway Park will host the 2023 NHL Winter Classic on Jan. 2 as the Bruins face off against the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins.

THE ATHLETIC: Jonas Siegel makes the case for Toronto Maple Leafs winger Michael Bunting to receive votes for the Calder Memorial Trophy despite the 26-year-old rookie’s age and his previous (albeit limited) NHL experience with the Arizona Coyotes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I consider Detroit Red Wings defenseman Moritz Seider and Anaheim Ducks center Trevor Zegras as the front-runners for this award, with Seider my choice as rookie of the year.

I acknowledge Siegel’s point that Bunting had to rise to the challenge of dealing with the pressure of playing alongside superstars Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner in hockey’s biggest market. However, Seider and Zegras are already establishing themselves as invaluable players on rebuilding clubs lacking big-name talent.

The Leafs would still be a playoff club this season regardless of whether Bunting played on their top line. Seider and Zegras, however, are budding impact players already playing important roles on their respective teams.

TSN: The Chicago Blackhawks signed forward Reese Johnson to a two-year contract extension with an annual average value of $800K.