NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 22, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 22, 2021

Recaps of Sunday’s action, updates on Max Pacioretty and Ryan McDonagh, the Kings re-sign Matt Roy, the Capitals re-up Trevor van Riemsdyk, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Tyler Johnson scored the winning goal in the third period as the Tampa Bay Lightning defeat the Florida Panthers 5-3. Brayden Point and Yanni Gourde each had a goal and an assist for the Lightning. They’ve won four straight and sit atop the Discover Central Division with 48 points, opening a four-point lead over the Panthers. It was a costly win for the Lightning as defenseman Ryan McDonagh left the game with a lower-body injury.

Los Angeles Kings captain Anze Kopitar (NHL Images).

The Los Angeles Kings downed the Vegas Golden Knights 3-1 to snap the latter’s five-game win streak. Goaltender Cal Petersen made 41 saves and Anze Kopitar collected two assists for the Kings (32 points), who sit five points behind the fourth-place St. Louis in the Honda West Division. Vegas winger Max Pacioretty was scratched from this contest with a lower-body injury and is listed as day-to-day. The Golden Knights (43 points) sit atop the West Division.

An overtime goal by Jesper Bratt lifted the New Jersey Devils to a 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Sidney Crosby scored for the Penguins and Sami Vatanen replied for the Devils, who got a 35-save performance by Mackenzie Blackwood. Pittsburgh (40 points) picked up a point to open a four-point lead over the fourth-place Boston Bruins in the MassMutual East Division. Penguins forward Brandon Tanev missed the game with an undisclosed injury and is considered day-to-day.

The Nashville Predators overcame a two-goal deficit to nip the Dallas Stars 4-3 on a shootout goal by Calle Jarnkrok. Eeli Tolvanen had a three-point performance, including scoring the game-tying goal. With the win, the Predators (29 points) moved within four points of the fourth-place Columbus Blue Jackets in the Central. Stars forwards Radek Faksa and Joel Kiviranta left the game with lower-body injuries.

TSN: The Kings announced they’ve signed defenseman Matt Roy to a three-year, $9.45 million contract extension. The annual average value is $3.145 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A seventh-round pick by the Kings in 2015, Roy has steadily risen up the club’s blueline depth chart since his debut in 2018. He skates on their second defense pairing and has become a reliable presence on the blue line.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals signed defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk to a two-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $950K.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: J.J. Regan speculates this move could be insurance for this summer’s expansion draft as the Capitals could lose a rearguard like Justin Schultz or Nick Jensen to the Seattle Kraken.

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks have had preliminary discussions with local health officials about a plan to host some fans at Rogers Arena this season. The Montreal Canadiens have also pitched the Quebec government about allowing a limited number of fans at the Bell Centre.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Currently none of the seven Canadian franchises are allowing fans in their arenas. The Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators have also broached the subject with their respective provincial governments. Much will depend upon COVID-19 case counts and vaccine distribution. If all goes well, whatever four Canadian clubs qualify for the playoffs in May could be allowed to welcome back some fans for postseason games.










NHL Rumor Mill – December 2, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – December 2, 2020

Could the Lightning and Red Wings become trade partners? Are the Predators preparing for more moves? What’s the latest on Mikael Granlund? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Eric Duhatschek was asked what moves the Tampa Bay Lightning could make to shed sufficient cap space to re-sign Anthony Cirelli and Erik Cernak while staying cap compliant for 2020-21.

Could the Detroit Red Wings take Tyler Johnson off the Tampa Bay Lightning’s hands? (NHL Images)

Duhatschek suggested the Detroit Red Wings as “the obvious first landing place” to address the Lightning’s cap issues. Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman is the former Lightning GM and responsible for many of the contracts on their books.

In a perfect world,” Duhatschek said he’d try to move Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn to Detroit, along with a first-round pick and quality young player. He thinks the Wings would jump on that deal if the young player was Cernak but the Bolts don’t want to part with him. Whatever moves the Lightning make they won’t be taking back players in return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Duhatschek’s colleagues Joe Smith and Max Bultman discussed the possibility of a Lightning-Red Wings swap. They agree Johnson or Killorn to the Wings could make sense depending on what the rest of the package looks like.

As Duhatschek points out, the Wings seem a logical trade partner for the Lightning given their cap space and Yzerman’s ties to the Bolts. However, that depends on whether the Wings are among the preferred trade destinations for Johnson or Killorn.

Duhatschek also commended the Nashville Predators for a “quietly successful” offseason, creating nearly $13 million in cap space while adding affordable grit such as Luke Kunin, Nick Cousins, Brad Richardson and Mark Borowiecki. He feels they’ve done their heavy lifting and suggests they hoard their cap space to see what the club looks like on the ice and what areas of the roster still needs improvement.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators have been tied to unrestricted free agent Mike Hoffman. Some believe GM David Poile is playing the waiting game with Hoffman hoping he’ll lower his asking price.

Poile could add Hoffman on a one-year deal for considerably less than the $5.5 million to $6.5 million the winger’s camp reportedly seeks. That would still leave sufficient cap room to make other additions over the course of the season if required.

If Poile has made his significant moves this offseason it won’t hurt to have that cap space for the coming season, especially near the trade deadline.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 25, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 25, 2020

Islanders blank the Flyers, Stars take 2-0 series lead over the Avalanche, the mental challenge of life inside the playoff bubble, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Semyon Varlamov made history with 29 saves as the New York Islanders blanked the Philadelphia Flyers 4-0 in Game 1 of their second-round series. Varlamov became the first goalie in franchise history to record consecutive playoff shutouts. Defenseman Andy Greene’s first-period goal proved to be the game-winner. It was also his first postseason goal in 10 years, with the last also coming against the Flyers.

New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders did a fine job neutralizing the Flyers with strong defensive play, solid goaltending, and an aggressive forecheck. Many of the Flyers’ leading scorers are struggling to find the back of the net in this postseason. Their playoff bubble will burst if they don’t address this soon.

The Dallas Stars overcame a 2-0 deficit to defeat the Colorado Avalanche 5-2, taking a 2-0 lead in their second-round series. The Stars tallied four goals in the second period, including two on the power-play. Joe Pavelski netted his team-leading seventh goal while Alexander Radulov had a goal and an assist.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avs’ inability to score with a 5-on-3 when the game was tied was the turning point. Esa Lindell’s controversial goal late in the second period gave the Stars a 4-2 lead that the Avs couldn’t overcome. Colorado also came into this game without goaltender Philipp Grubauer and defenseman Erik Johnson. Both are sidelined indefinitely following injuries suffered in Game 1.

HEADLINES

SPORTSNET: The NHL’s received no positive COVID-19 tests for the fourth straight week inside their Edmonton and Toronto bubbles.

ASSOCIATED PRESS (via Chicago Sun-Times): Bubble fatigue is becoming a mental challenge for teams participating in the NHL’s return-to-play plan. Close confines, daily COVID testing, restricted access, monotony, and separation from families are weighing heavily on everyone.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly indicated the league is “actively trying to minimize” the length of the playoffs because of “the dynamics and constraints of ‘bubble life’”. He added the league “will continue to pursue all ‘move up’ opportunities aggressively as we go forward.” The league is still checking with health officials to determine if families can join the players within the bubbles before or during the Conference Finals.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: For the most part, everyone involved is doing their best to cope with this situation. Nevertheless, it’s apparent the league will try to keep the postseason moving briskly to complete the schedule as quickly as possible.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh is a game-day decision for tonight’s second game of his club’s second-round series with the Boston Bruins. McDonagh left the third period of Game 1 with an undisclosed injury.

THE BOSTON GLOBE: The Bruins might have to turn to rookie backup goalie Dan Vladar for Game 3 against the Lightning tomorrow night. Jaroslav Halak is expected to start Game 2.

THE SCORE: Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk suffered a concussion against the Dallas Stars in their first-round series. Defenseman Rasmus Andersson suffered a broken foot and forward Sam Bennett had a torn triceps muscle.

STLTODAY.COM: Long-time Blues forward Alexander Steen indicated he intends to return for his 16th NHL season, which would also be his 13th with the Blues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Steen is frequently mentioned as a cost-cutting candidate as the Blues attempt to free up salary-cap space to re-sign captain Alex Pietrangelo and blueliner Vince Dunn. Steen, however, carries a full no-trade clause into next season.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings yesterday re-signed forward Robby Fabbri to a two-year, $5.9-million contract extension.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 24, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 24, 2020

The Bruins and Golden Knights are victorious in the opening games of their respective second-round series, the Capitals fire head coach Todd Reirden, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand each had a goal and an assist as the Boston Bruins held off the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 in Game 1 of their second-round series. Jaroslav Halak made 35 saves for the win. Victor Hedman scored twice for the Lightning, who also lost defenseman Ryan McDonagh in the third period to an undisclosed injury.

Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The score flattered the Lightning. They were dominated through the first two periods by the Bruins, who took a 3-0 lead before Hedman’s goals made it interesting. There could be an update on McDonagh later today.

Robin Lehner turned in a 26-save shutout while Mark Stone, Reilly Smith, and Alex Tuch each had a goal and an assist as the Vegas Golden Knights blanked the Vancouver Canucks 5-0 in the opening game of their second-round series.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights blew this open with three goals in the second period. They outshot, out-skated, out-hit, and out-chanced the Canucks. Golden Knights winger Ryan Reaves got under the skin of Canucks winger Antoine Roussel, goading him into taking a misconduct penalty in the third period and taunting him for the rest of the game.

LAS VEGAS SUN: The Golden Knights had to deal with an off-ice issue before Game 1. Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury attempted to distance himself from his agent’s provocative social media post criticizing coach Peter DeBoer over his client’s lack of playing time.

Referring to his agent, Allan Walsh, Fleury felt he was “just trying to protect me a bit.” He indicated he’s spoken with DeBoer and Lehner and doesn’t want to be a distraction. “I just want to be behind it and move on,” he said, adding he’s focused on winning and what’s best for the team.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Walsh’s post and Fleury’s response is sparking speculation over his future with the Golden Knights. I’ll have more later today in the Rumors section.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals yesterday relieved Todd Reirden of his duties as head coach. The move comes shortly following the club’s elimination from the opening round of the 2020 playoffs.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Pierre LeBrun reports the Capitals seek an experienced replacement to keep their championship window open.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise here. Reirden was outcoached by Isles bench boss (and former Caps coach) Barry Trotz in that series. His firing has generated a lot of conjecture over his possible replacement. Experienced options include Mike Babcock, Gerard Gallant, and Peter Laviolette.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer (leg injury) won’t be playing in Game 2 against the Dallas Stars tonight. Defenseman Erik Johnson (undisclosed) is doubtful while Matt Calvert is listed as unfit to play and day-to-day.

WEEI.COM: The Bruins re-signed backup goalie Dan Vladar to a three-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $750K. It’s a two-way deal in the first two years and becomes a one-way deal in the final season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 9, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 9, 2020

The Red Wings and Hurricanes pull off upset victories, Sportsnet and NBC Sports make NHL history with all-female broadcast crews, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Shootout goals by Dylan Larkin and Robby Fabbri carried the Detroit Red Wings to a 5-4 upset of the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bolts rallied from a 4-2 deficit to force overtime and the shootout frame. Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi each had a goal and three assists. Brayden Point tallied twice for the Lightning (92 points), who sit six points back of the league-leading Boston Bruins. Tampa Bay defenseman Ryan McDonagh returned to the lineup after missing 14 games with a lower-body injury, but Victor Hedman (lower body) missed the game and is listed as day-to-day.

Detroit Red Wings forward Anthony Mantha had a four-point performance in a 5-4 upset over the Tampa Bay Lightning (Photo via NHL Images).

Carolina Hurricanes rookie Morgan Geekie scored twice in his NHL debut to help his club down the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-2. Justin Williams also scored twice for the Hurricanes (76 points), who surged ahead of the New York Islanders into the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot. The slumping Penguins (84 points) sit third in the Metropolitan Division, but they’ve dropped eight of their last 10 contests.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins were playing better when their roster was depleted by injuries. They’re struggling despite a healthier lineup bolstered by recent additions made before the Feb. 24 trade deadline.

St. Louis Blues goalie Jake Allen turned in a 29-save shutout in a 2-0 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Robert Bortuzzo and Alex Pietrangelo were the goal scorers. Blues defenseman Justin Faulk missed his second straight game with an upper-body injury. Blackhawks defenseman Adam Boqvist left the game with a suspected concussion after being elbowed in the head by Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist. In the subsequent scrum, Chicago forward Drake Caggiula left the game after injuring his wrist in a fight with the Blues’ Vince Dunn. The Blues (92 points) remain two points ahead of the Colorado Avalanche for first place in the Western Conference.

The Avalanche, meanwhile, kept pace with the Blues by nipping the San Jose Sharks 4-3. Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog led the way with a goal and two assists each. Sharks captain Logan Couture left the game after being struck in the face with the puck. He was placed in concussion protocol but could return to action on Wednesday.

The red-hot Vegas Golden Knights (84 points) defeated the Calgary Flames 5-3 to regain first place in the Pacific Division. Third-period goals by Shea Theodore and Jonathan Marchessault carried Vegas to victory after the Flames overcame a 3-1 deficit. The Flames (79 points) sit third in the Pacific.

An overtime goal by Kevin Fiala lifted the Minnesota Wild to a 4-3 win over the Anaheim Ducks. It was Fiala’s second goal of the game for the Wild (77 points), who moved into the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Jakob Silfverberg and Rickard Rakell each had three points for the Ducks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fiala is blossoming into a star for the Wild this season. He’s their leading scorer with a career-high 54 points and is tied with Zach Parise and Joel Eriksson Ek for second in game-winning goals with four.

Elvis Merzlikins returned to the Columbus Blue Jackets net for the first time since Feb. 24 to backstop his club to a 2-1 victory over the slumping Vancouver Canucks. With 81 points, the Jackets moved into the first Eastern Conference wild-card spot, while the Canucks (76 points) cling to the second Western wild-card berth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks are in trouble, winning just three of their last 10 contests. They definitely miss starting goaltender Jacob Markstrom, who’s been sidelined since late February with a knee injury.

HEADLINES

THE SCORE: Sportsnet and NBC Sports made NHL history yesterday with all-female broadcast crews calling the Golden Knights-Flames and the Blue-Blackhawks games.

NBC SPORTS: Nashville Predators captain Roman Josi was fined $5,000.00 for cross-checking Dallas Stars winger Corey Perry on Saturday.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes’ playoff hopes took a hit as leading scorer Conor Garland is listed as week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Jets forward Adam Lowry is expected to return to action tonight after missing 20 games with an upper-body injury.

CBS SPORTS: The Detroit Red Wings re-signed Alex Biega to a one-year, $875K contract.

SPORTSNET: The NHL has tentatively finalized April 9 as the date for the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 9, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 9, 2020

Patrik Laine’s hat trick power the Jets over the Senators, Ilya Kovalchuk comes through again for the Canadiens, Claude Giroux reached 800 career points, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Patrik Laine tallied a hat trick and Kyle Connor picked up four points as the Winnipeg Jets downed the Ottawa Senators 5-2. Laine moved past Sidney Crosby with the seventh-most goals (133) scored by a player before the age of 22. With 61 points, the Jets passed the Arizona Coyotes into the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

Patrik Laine’s hat trick powered the Winnipeg Jets to a 5-2 win over the Ottawa Senators (Photo via NHL Images).

Speaking of the Coyotes, they dropped a 4-2 decision to the Boston Bruins. While they also have 61 points, the Jets hold a game in hand. Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask made 29 saves to extend his home points streak to a team-record 18 games. Charlie Coyle scored twice and Patrice Bergeron had a three-point game. The Bruins (80 points) hold a three-point lead over the Washington Capitals in the overall standings. Coyotes goaltender Antti Raanta was scratched before the game with a lower-body injury.

Two third-period goals by Leon Draisaitl lifted the Edmonton Oilers over the Nashville Predators 3-2. The Oilers had a scare when captain Connor McDavid suffered a bruised knee in the second period, but he returned to play over five minutes in the third. Draisaitl (85 points) holds a four-point lead over McDavid for top spot in the NHL scoring race. The Oilers (64 points) moved within a point of the Vancouver Canucks for first place in the Pacific Division, while the Predators (59 points) remain two points out of a Western Conference wild-card berth.

The Montreal Canadiens edged the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 on an overtime goal by Ilya Kovalchuk. Marco Scandella scored the tying goal late in the third period. John Tavares tallied for the Leafs. Kovalchuk leads the Habs with three game-winning goals, with two of those in overtime. Montreal winger Jonathan Drouin returned to action for the first time since suffering a wrist injury on Nov. 15. The Canadiens (61 points) are five points behind the Leafs for third place in the Atlantic Division.

Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy extended his franchise-record points streak to 18 games with a 3-1 victory over the New York Islanders. Brayden Point had a goal and an assist for the Bolts, who’ve won six straight and remain five points behind the Bruins in the Eastern Conference standings. The Lightning also revealed defenseman Ryan McDonagh will be sidelined for two weeks with a lower-body injury.

Kris Letang had a goal and an assist and Tristan Jarry kicked out 33 shots as the Pittsburgh Penguins hung on for a 3-2 win over the Florida Panthers. The Penguins (73 points) sit in second place in the Metropolitan Division.

New Jersey Devils netminder Mackenzie Blackwood picked up his second straight shutout to blank the Los Angeles Kings 3-0. Nikita Gusev, Blake Coleman, and Kyle Palmieri were the goal scorers. The Kings have dropped nine of their last 10 contests.

Claude Giroux picked up three points, including his 800th career point, as the Philadelphia Flyers thumped the Washington Capitals 7-2. Sean Couturier tallied two goals for the Flyers, while Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin remains two goals away from 700 career goals. The Flyers (67 points) sit just outside the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Third-period goals by Nazem Kadri and Nathan MacKinnon gave the Colorado Avalanche a 2-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, ending Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins’ winning streak at eight games. The Jackets (69 points) sit third in the Metropolitan Division.

Dallas Stars winger Roope Hintz scored the game-tying and game-winning goals in a 3-2 overtime victory over the St. Louis Blues. The Stars sit third in the Central Division with 67 points. Dallas winger Alexander Radulov missed the game with an upper-body injury.

The Calgary Flames snapped a three-game losing skid by thrashing the Vancouver Canucks 6-2. Christian Dube had a goal and two assists and Milan Lucic had a goal and an assist for the Flames (62 points), who cling to the first wild-card berth in the Western Conference. Canucks winger Brock Boeser left the game with an apparent arm injury and could be sidelined for a little while.

Shootout goals by Andrei Svechnikov and Justin Williams gave the Carolina Hurricanes a 6-5 win over the Vegas Golden Knights. Jake Gardiner picked up three assists for the Hurricanes, who hold the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth with 67 points. The Golden Knights (64 points) sit third in the Pacific Division.

IN OTHER NEWS…

STLTODAY.COM: The Blues will retired Chris Pronger’s No. 44 next season. The date has yet to be announced. Pronger had his best seasons with the Blues, spending nine years in St. Louis. Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2015, Pronger won the Hart and Norris Trophies with the Blues in 2000.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Arizona Coyotes organization may face $5 million in fines if found guilty of allegations involving physical fitness testing of draft prospects.

TSN: The International Olympic Committee engaged with the NHL last week. It’s unclear if they offered enough to sway the league into allowing its players to participate in future Winter Olympics.