NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 8, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 8, 2020

The Maple Leafs rally to tie their series with the Blue Jackets while the Canucks, Canadiens, Blackhawks, Coyotes, and Islanders march on to the playoffs. Recaps and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (Photo via NHL Images).

  NHL.COM: Auston Matthews’ overtime tally capped a four-goal rally by the Toronto Maple Leafs to edge the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3, tying their best-of-five qualifying-round series at two games apiece. The Leafs were down 3-0 late in the third when they tied it on goals by William Nylander, John Tavares, and Zach Hyman, setting the stage for Matthews’ OT heroics. The fifth and deciding game will be played Sunday.

 

    SPECTOR’S NOTE: Until that rally, Toronto looked done and dusted. With the game and the series seemingly in the bag following a solid defensive performance, the Jackets were unprepared for the Leafs’ desperate push. Both teams are now even in third-period comebacks. The Vancouver Canucks are marching on to the playoffs after Chris Tanev’s overtime goal gave them a series-clinching 5-4 win over the Minnesota Wild in Game 4 of their qualifier. Tanev enjoyed a three-point performance while Bo Horvat, Quinn Hughes, and Tanner Pearson each had a goal and an assist.  

 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This series was a big step forward for the rebuilding Canucks. The Wild, meanwhile, enter an off-season that could lead to some significant roster changes. This game may have been the last one for long-time Wild captain Mikko Koivu. 

Carey Price had a 22-game shutout as he backstopped the Montreal Canadiens over the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-0 in Game 4 of their qualifier, winning the series 3 games to 1. Artturi Lehkonen snapped a scoreless tie on a beautiful pass by Paul Byron late in the third period. Shea Weber put it away with an empty-netter.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens out-worked and out-hit the Penguins, whose intensity seemed to wan as they struggled to put pucks past Price. The Habs goalie was outstanding in this series, silencing (for now) the critics claiming he was past his prime. 

Dominik Kubalik snapped a 2-2 third-period tie to lift the Chicago Blackhawks to a 3-2, series-ending Game 4 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews collected two assists while Corey Crawford kicked out 43 shots for the win. Oilers captain Connor McDavid had two assists.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks had solid goaltending, veteran postseason experience, and scoring depth. The Oilers had McDavid’s line and not much else.

An overtime goal by Brad Richardson propelled the Arizona Coyotes to a 4-3 series-clinching win over the Nashville Predators. Coyotes goalie Darcy Kuemper made 49 saves, team captain Oliver-Ekman-Larsson collected two assists, and Phil Kessel tallied his first goal of the series.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kuemper was the difference throughout this series. Nashville dominated much of the play but couldn’t crack the Coyotes netminder. The Preds also didn’t get much secondary scoring in this series. 

Anthony Beauvillier scored twice as the New York Islanders wrapped up their series against the Florida Panthers with a convincing 5-1 victory in Game 4.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers had little answer for the Islanders’ defensive system. Their lack of depth could lead to a front-office shakeup as a report claimed Dale Tallon could be out as general manager.

HEADLINES

LAS VEGAS SUN: The top seed in the Western Conference is on the line as the Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche face off today in round-robin action.

TSN: Steven Stamkos will miss today’s final round-robin game against the Philadelphia Flyers. The Tampa Bay Lightning captain is still recovering from an undisclosed injury suffered during Phase 2 training. Lightning coach Jon Cooper said Stamkos is considered to be out indefinitely for the time being.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers winger Jakub Voracek is unavailable to play in today’s contest with the Lightning. As per league protocols, the club cannot elaborate as to his condition. Flyers winger James van Riemsdyk returns to the lineup after being a healthy scratch in Thursday’s win over the Washington Capitals.

MLIVE.COM: The Detroit Red Wings have loaned Filip Zadina to HC Ocelari Trinec (Czech) and Moritz Seider to Mannheim, his former German League club.

TSN: The NHL is continuing its investigation into allegations of pre-draft fitness testing by the Arizona Coyotes. A ruling could come on Monday.

NHL.COM: The Seattle Kraken named Everett Fitzhugh as their team broadcaster, making him the NHL’s first Black full-time play-by-player announcer.

 

   

 










2020 NHL Awards – Vezina, Lady Byng and Masterton Finalists

2020 NHL Awards – Vezina, Lady Byng and Masterton Finalists

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 17, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 17, 2020

Lady Byng and Masterton Trophy finalists are announced,  Edmonton’s Rogers Place suffers some water damage, plus the latest on David Pastrnak, Vladimir Tarasenko, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

2020 NHL AWARDS UPDATE

NHL.COM: Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, and St. Louis Blues center Ryan O’Reilly are this year’s finalists for the Lady Byng Trophy, awarded annually to the player who bests combines sportsmanship, gentlemanly conduct, and ability.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews is a finalist for the 2020 Lady Byng Memorial Trophy (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This award typically goes to the most notable superstar with the lowest penalty minutes. MacKinnon had 12 PIMs this season, O’Reilly 10 and Matthews eight. However, this year’s selections stirred up some controversy.

Matthews got himself into trouble last year when he and a group of friends were accused of harassing a female security guard in Arizona. Meanwhile, some pundits were puzzled why Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin (10 PIMs) was passed over as a finalist. It was also pointed out only three defensemen (Bill Quackenbush, Red Kelly, and Brian Campbell) have won the Lady Byng.

Dallas Stars defenseman Stephen Johns, Philadelphia Flyers winger Oskar Lindblom, and Ottawa Senators winger Bobby Ryan are this year’s finalists for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, awarded annually to the player who best exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johns returned to action after being sidelined nearly two years by post-traumatic headaches that at times left him confined to darkened rooms battling depression and suicidal thoughts.

Lindblom’s rookie season was derailed by Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. He recently completed cancer treatments, including chemotherapy.

Ryan took a leave of absence last November to receive treatment for alcohol abuse. He returned to action on Feb. 25 and scored a hat trick two days later.

LATEST RETURN-TO-PLAY NEWS

TSN: A storm in Edmonton caused some water damage to Rogers Place just two weeks before it becomes a host city for the Western Conference teams in the upcoming playoff tournament. Oilers Entertainment Group issued a statement expressing confidence the incident won’t hamper its hosting efforts. Most of the damage was reportedly limited to the Ford Hall terminus.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Time to break out the Shop-Vacs! Seriously, though, it doesn’t appear the arena, training facilities, or dressing rooms suffered any damage.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins wingers David Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase were declared unfit to participate in practice yesterday. Both had emerged from travel quarantine earlier in the week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Do they have COVID-19 symptoms? Did they suffer injuries preparing to return to play? No one knows because the league won’t allow teams to reveal a sidelined player’s status due to “medical privacy”. 

CALGARY SUN: Flames general manager Brad Treliving shot down speculation suggesting winger Johnny Gaudreau’s skating with a smaller group of players was some sort of punishment over his conditioning. “Johnny Gaudreau has never looked better,” claimed Treliving. He added Gaudreau’s placement with the smaller group was due to circumstances arising from the need to be cautious as the players returned from a long layoff.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That won’t prevent some folks from theorizing Gaudreau’s fallen out of favor with the coaching staff or stoking rumors about the winger’s future in Calgary.

THE SCORE: St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Taransenko isn’t concerned about living in a quarantine bubble in Edmonton for the upcoming playoff tournament. “I don’t need much to live. I just need a bed and food,” he told The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu is more concerned about his club’s opportunity to play for the Stanley Cup than his future. The 37-year-old center is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end and could be playing his final games with the Wild.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre examines the strict pandemic protocols the Winnipeg Jets are following during Phase 3 of the return-to-play plan. Defenseman Luca Sbisa explained the players aren’t really allowed to go anywhere but the rink and their homes, though they do partake in simple errands such as grocery shopping. The Jets have their own Phase 3 policies as well as those issued in a 19-page document by the league.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Phase 3 is the crucial period if the playoff tournament under Phase 4 is to take place starting in two weeks. The Jets, and the other clubs involved, are taking significant steps to ensure the health and safety of the players. Time will tell, however, if those measures prove successful.

IN OTHER NEWS…

TORONTO SUN: Long-time Leafs TV reporter Paul Hendricks is stepping down to spend more time with his wife, who’s battling cancer. Hendricks was part of Leafs TV from its infancy in the mid-1990s.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Hendricks and his wife during this difficult time.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Rocky Thompson is stepping down as head coach of the AHL’s Chicago Wolves after three seasons behind their bench. He’s expected to coach the Vegas Golden Knights’ new AHL affiliate in Nevada next season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 14, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 14, 2020

A roundup of notable news from the opening day of Phase 3 training camp, including the latest on Auston Matthews, David Pastrnak, Corey Crawford, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NOTES FROM DAY ONE OF TRAINING CAMP

NHL.COM: The league revealed a total of 30 positive COVID-19 tests from 4,934 tests administered to over 600 players taking part in the Phase 2 voluntary training period (June 8 to July 12). They’re also aware of an additional 13 players who tested positive outside the Phase 2 training. All players who tested positive were/have been self-isolated and followed CDC and Health Canada protocols.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league will continue testing players in Phase 3 and will release weekly updates. Bear in mind this doesn’t mean all the players with positive tests remain sidelined. A number of them may have already recovered. 

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews confirmed he tested positive for COVID-19 last month. He said he was asymptomatic during his two weeks of self-quarantine at his Arizona home and is now fully healthy. Matthews indicated he couldn’t really pinpoint how and when he contracted the virus.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews remains the only player to be publicly identified as testing positive for the Coronavirus.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: David Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase were missing from the opening day of Bruins’ training camp. Their absence was due to their quarantine period since returning from the Czech Republic. They’re expected to join their teammates within the next couple of days.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford missed practice yesterday and was declared “unfit to play” by head coach Jeremy Colliton. Under the NHL’s return-to-play protocols, the Blackhawks cannot disclose the reason behind Crawford’s absence or how long he’ll be away. Center Zack Smith (back injury) was also absent. 

TSN: Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw opted out of participating in the return-to-play plan to recover from ongoing concussion symptoms. He hopes to return to action for the 2020-21 season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The deadline for opting out was 5:30 pm ET yesterday.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues defenseman Colton Parayko and forward Robert Bortuzzo were absent from practice yesterday. General manager Doug Armstrong said he expects the duo will return soon.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Patric Hornqvist is among 11 players absent from Penguins practice yesterday The others include forwards Anthony Angello, Adam Johnson, Sam Miletic, Sam Poulin, Phil Varone, defensemen Pierre-Olivier Joseph, Juuso Riikola, goaltenders Casey DeSmith, Alex D’Orio, and Emil Larmi.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nine of the players were reportedly sidelined because of exposure with a person who has been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, though the teams didn’t identify them as per league protocols. They won’t be participating in practices until they’ve passed additional screenings. 

THE TENNESSEAN: Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi and forward Colton Sissons weren’t with the main group at practice but skated earlier in the day.

THE ATHLETIC: Vancouver Canucks winger Micheal Ferland was listed as unfit to play yesterday. It’s believed linked to post-concussion symptoms related to a head injury suffered nine months ago.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Martin Necas was the notable absence from the Carolina Hurricanes practice yesterday.

THE ATHLETIC’s Arpon Basu updated his story on three Montreal Canadiens reportedly testing positive for COVID-19, indicating two of those players tested were false positives.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: reported Brett Kulak, Xavier Ouellet, and Josh Brook missed practice yesterday. Max Domi is taking 7-10 days to decide if he’ll rejoin his teammates because he’s a type-1 diabetic with celiac disease.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers defenseman Caleb Jones was listed unfit to play with the main group yesterday, but would skate with a smaller group working with extra goaltenders.

CALGARY SUN: Flames forwards Dillon Dube and Buddy Robinson were absent from yesterday’s practice.

TSN: Florida Panthers assistant coach Mike Kitchen opted out of the return-to-play plan.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We better get used to this lack of information regarding the absence of players throughout the return-to-play plan. Don’t be surprised if this trend continues beyond the return-to-play period. It could make one yearn for the days when a player was absent because of an “upper-body” or “lower-body” injury.

CBS SPORTS: Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Shayne Gotisbehere underwent arthroscopic knee surgery during the league’s hiatus. He was at training camp yesterday but admitted he’s not fully 100 percent.

TSN: Speaking of the Flyers, Nolan Patrick remains sidelined with a migraine disorder. He’s not expected to participate in the return-to-play plan.

IN OTHER NEWS…

MONTREAL GAZETTE/NEW YORK POST/TWINCITIES.COM: Montreal Canadiens defenseman Alexander Romanov, New York Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin, and Minnesota Wild forward Kirill Kaprizov signed their entry-level contracts (ELC) yesterday. They’re allowed to practice with their new clubs but cannot participate in the upcoming playoff tournament in Phase 4 of the return-to-play plan. They will also burn off the first year of their ELCs.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild removed the interim label from head coach Dean Evason’s title, signing him to a two-year contract extension.

SPORTSNET: Mikhail Grigorenko is returning to the NHL in 2020-21, signing a one-year, $1.2-million contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets. He spent the past three seasons in the KHL.

TORONTO SUN: Canadian broadcasters are unhappy over NBC Sports serving as the world feed for all NHL games played in the hub city of Toronto. Sportsnet will provide the world feed for the hub city of Edmonton. The Stanley Cup Final, to be held in Edmonton, will have Canadian and American feeds for the individual rights-holders.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 13, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 13, 2020

Teams begin to announce their training-camp rosters, at least three Montreal Canadiens test positive for COVID-19, plus updates on Max Domi, Auston Matthews, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Multiple clubs revealed their training-camp rosters for Phase 3 of the return-to-play plan. They include the Arizona Coyotes, Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Colorado Avalanche, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Edmonton Oilers, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Vegas Golden Knights, Washington Capitals, and Winnipeg Jets.

The Chicago Blackhawks, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, and St. Louis Blues have yet to announce their training-camp rosters.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: You can find the full rosters by following the link above. The other clubs will likely reveal their rosters later today.

TSN: Cites a report from The Athletic’s Arpon Basu stating at least three Montreal Canadiens players have tested positive for COVID-19. The team and the NHL declined to comment, citing the league’s COVID-19 disclosure policy.

Montreal Canadiens forward Max Domi (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those three positives occurred during the league’s Phase 2 voluntary workout phase. We have no idea which players were involved and when those positive tests took place. We’ll likely get a better idea about the identity of those players when the Habs take to the ice today for mandatory training camp.

With over 700 players on 24 teams spread out in their respective home cities starting today for Phase 3, we could see an increase in positive tests over the next two weeks. How high that number rises could determine the fate of the playoff tournament under Phase 4.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens forward Max Domi will wait seven-to-10 days before deciding if he’ll join his teammates for training camp. As a type-1 diabetic with celiac disease, Domi is a greater risk for COVID-19.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t blame Domi for his caution, especially in the light of the news of three teammates testing positive. It’ll be understandable if he opts-out of participating in the return-to-play plan.

TVA SPORTS: Speaking of the Canadiens, young defenseman Alexander Romanov is expected to sign an entry-level contract with the club. He could practice and travel with the Habs, but cannot participate in the Phase 4 playoff tournament. It will also burn off the first year of his entry-level deal.

STARTRIBUNE.COM/NEW YORK POST: The Minnesota Wild are expected to sign winger Kirill Kaprisov and the New York Islanders to sign goaltender Ilya Sorokin to entry-level contracts. Like Romanov, they’ll be allowed to train and travel with their respective NHL clubs but cannot take part in the playoff tournament. They’ll also burn off the first year of their ELCs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The teams want those Russian players locked up to NHL contracts as soon as possible, even if it means they’re ineligible to skate in the upcoming playoffs and burns off the first year of their contracts. It avoids the risk of those three opting to stay in the KHL for next season and allows them the opportunity to ease into their new NHL rosters.

THE SCORE: Good news for the Toronto Maple Leafs, as center Auston Matthews is fit to play and will join his teammates in training camp today. Matthews reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 in May and self-isolated at his off-season home in Arizona.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews is the only player to be named in the media as testing positive, though the league and the Leafs declined to comment. It’ll be interesting to see if Matthews addresses the report with the press. I doubt he will give the league’s policy on players’ medical information.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins reserve defenseman Zach Trotman isn’t expected to participate in the return-to-play plan.

THE DETROIT NEWS: Because Edmonton Oilers defenseman Mike Green is opting out of participating in the return-to-play plan, the Detroit Red Wings will receive the Oilers’ fourth-round pick. It’s part of the deal that saw the Wings trade Green to the Oilers at the trade deadline in February.

NHL.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes hired former NHL player Peter Harrold as a skills coach.

 










NHL Pushing Ahead for Playoff Tournament Despite Positive COVID-19 Tests

NHL Pushing Ahead for Playoff Tournament Despite Positive COVID-19 Tests