NHL Free Agents & Trade Candidates – Vegas Golden Knights
Avalanche and Bruins tie their respective series at two games apiece. Recaps and a roundup of notable news in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Colorado Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer made 32 saves for his first career NHL playoff shutout in a 3-0 win in Game 4 over the San Jose Sharks. Their second-round series is tied at two games apiece. Nathan MacKinnon extended his playoff points streak to eight games while linemate Miko Rantanen had two assists.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Special teams were also a factor in this one for the Avs, killing off two penalties and tallying a power-play goal. MacKinnon, meanwhile, is emerging as an early favorite for the Conn Smythe Trophy. He’s certainly been the Avs most valuable player thus far.
The Boston Bruins also tied their series at two games apiece with a 4-1 victory in Game 4 against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Patrice Bergeron scored twice and Tuukka Rask turned aside 39 shots. Blue Jackets winger Artemi Panarin’s goal was controversial, coming after the puck had deflected up into the mesh behind the Bruins net.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: While the Bruins were upset over the Panarin goal they didn’t lose their composure. The stage is set for what should be an entertaining Game 5 back in Boston on Saturday.
NEW YORK POST: Islanders coach Barry Trotz won’t rule out shaking up his lineup for tonight’s Game 4 against the Carolina Hurricanes. Those changes could include backup Thomas Greiss replacing starter Robin Lehner. The Isles face elimination tonight.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A popgun offense, not Lehner’s goaltending, is the reason the Isles find themselves down 3-0 in this series. Yes, Lehner’s turnover in the third period of Game 3 resulted in the Hurricanes’ game-winning goal, but he’s been otherwise solid throughout this series. Without him, the Islanders probably don’t reach the playoffs, let alone advance to the second round. Changing the goalies won’t improve the Islanders anemic scoring punch.
LAS VEGAS SUN: The Vegas Golden Knights yesterday announced assistant general manager Kelly McCrimmon was promoted to general manager. Now-former GM George McPhee will remain president of hockey operations.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights didn’t want to risk losing McCrimmon to another team. There was talk he was a possible candidate for the Oilers’ vacant GM role. McCrimmon played a significant role in assisting McPhee in building and maintaining the roster. McPhee will still provide oversight over all hockey decisions but he and McCrimmon have a solid working relationship.
THE SCORE: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews underwent a procedure yesterday to remove surgical hardware from a 2014 surgery to repair a broken femur. The procedure isn’t expected to affect his offseason training routine.
NEW YORK POST: The Rangers signed prospect defenseman Adam Fox to an entry-level contract. Earlier this week, the Rangers acquired Fox from the Carolina Hurricanes.
SPORTSNET: Hockey Hall of Famer Red Kelly passed away yesterday at age 91. Kelly won eight Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs during his 20-year career. He was a defenseman who could also play at center. A six-time First Team all-star, Kelly won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy four times and the James Norris Memorial Trophy in 1953-54. In 1,316 games, Kelly scored 281 goals and 823 points. He also went on to coach the Los Angeles Kings, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Toronto Maple Leafs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Kelly’s family, friends, former teammates, and fans. He was truly a unique NHL player and coach, pioneering the role of the puck-moving defenseman.