NHL Playoffs: Milbury Another Dinosaur Living In NHL Broadcast Booth
The Stars draw first blood in their second-round series with the Avalanche, plus the latest on Marc-Andre Fleury, Steven Stamkos, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Dallas Stars took a 1-0 lead in their second-round series against the Colorado Avalanche with a 5-3 victory in the opening game. The Stars’ first line led the way, with Alexander Radulov scoring twice and collecting an assist, Tyler Seguin opening the scoring and assisting on another, and captain Jamie Benn adding three helpers.
Nathan MacKinnon had a three-point game (two goals, one assist) for the Avalanche, who lost starting goalie Philipp Grubauer with an apparent left leg injury during the second period. Avs defenseman Erik Johnson also suffered a lower-body injury in the first period. He tried to return during the second and spent the third period on the bench.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Led by their first-liners, the Stars dominated much of the play in this game. Apart from MacKinnon, the Avs failed to match their opponent’s intensity.
We could learn more about the status of Grubauer and Johnson later today. Colorado coach Jared Bednar didn’t sound optimistic about his goalie returning to action for Game 2. “He won’t be hitting the ice tomorrow or anything like that,” said Bednar. While he’s hopeful Grubauer can return soon, he indicated backup Pavel Francouz will have to get the job done during his starter’s absence.
SPORTSNET: A suggestive social media post by the agent for Marc-Andre Fleury raised eyebrows and questions over the status of the Vegas Golden Knights netminder. Allan Walsh yesterday tweeted a picture depicting Fleury with a sword in his back and the name “DeBoer” on the blade, suggesting Walsh’s client was being stabbed in the back by Vegas coach Peter DeBoer.
Fleury has appeared in just two postseason contests with Robin Lehner getting the bulk of the starts. Elliotte Friedman last night reported Fleury remains with the Golden Knights and the club seems to be ignoring Walsh’s provocative post. Neither side issued a statement on the matter, but Friedman indicated Fleury met with team officials yesterday and they’re satisfied this won’t be an issue.
— Allan Walsh (@walsha) August 22, 2020
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I understand Walsh has Fleury’s best interests at heart and he’s going to bat for his client, but this post was over the top. The Golden Knights are trying to win the Stanley Cup. DeBoer is simply going with the better goalie. Right now, that’s Lehner. Walsh’s post created an unnecessary distraction for his client and the team.
CBS SPORTS: Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper said team captain Steven Stamkos won’t be available for Game 1 of their club’s second-round series against the Boston Bruins. Stamkos remains sidelined by a lower-body injury suffered during Phase 2 training.
TSN: Montreal Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher underwent surgery on Friday for his fractured jaw and returned home to British Columbia. He was also playing with a slight tear in his hip suffered during the qualifying-round series with Pittsburgh.
THE SCORE: NBC Sports hockey analyst Mike Milbury issued a statement yesterday indicating he was temporarily stepping away from his role following an insensitive remark made about women during a broadcast on Thursday. The remark was condemned by the network and the league shortly afterward.
In addition to the shoulder injury, I reported previously on Christian Dvorak, Rick Tocchet said Conor Garland had a head injury & Brad Richardson had a thumb injury that will require offseason surgery. With C/F Nick Schmaltz also out, the Coyotes’ center position was hard hit. — Craig Morgan (@CraigSMorgan) August 21, 2020
The Canucks eliminate the Blues while the Flyers send the Canadiens packing. Recaps and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: There will be new Stanley Cup champs in 2020 as the Vancouver Canucks eliminated the defending champion St. Louis Blues with a 6-2 victory in Game 6 of their first-round series. Jacob Markstrom got the win with a 34-save performance while Tyler Motte scored twice and Brandon Sutter collected three assists. Jaden Schwartz tallied twice for the Blues.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues couldn’t contain the speedy young Canucks, who chased goaltender Jordan Binnington from the game after leaping to a 4-0 lead. It’s the first time the Canucks have won a playoff series since their run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2011. It also provides a considerable confidence boost to their young core led by Elias Pettersson, Bo Horvat, Quinn Hughes, and Brock Boeser.
St. Louis coach Craig Berube cited a lack of energy among his players for their demise. Perhaps it was challenging for the Blues to regain their championship mojo after such a long layoff due to COVID-19. Whatever the reason, the Canucks were the better team throughout most of this series and deserve to march on.
The Philadelphia Flyers also advanced to the second round as they hung on for a 3-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens in Game 6 of their first-round series. Michael Raffl’s goal early in the third period held up as the winner as Carter Hart kicked out 31 shots for the Flyers. Nick Suzuki tallied twice for the Canadiens.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hart made the difference for the Flyers in this series, sporting back-to-back shutouts and bouncing back well from two lopsided losses. He’s looking more and more like the true starting goaltender they’ve lacked since Ron Hextall was in his prime 30 years ago. While many of the Flyers’ leading scorers were shut down in this series, Jakub Voracek proved to be a Hab killer with seven points.
The lowest seed in the Eastern Conference when return-to-play began, the Canadiens exceeded expectations by upsetting the Pittsburgh Penguins in the qualifier and pushing the favored Flyers to six games in this series. Goaltender Carey Price was outstanding, captain Shea Weber was a force on the blueline and youngsters Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi gave a tantalizing glimpse of their potential. They have nothing to hang their heads over.
The second-round match-ups and schedule have been released. In the Western Conference, the Canucks will face the Vegas Golden Knights while the Dallas Stars tangle with the Colorado Avalanche. Over in the Eastern Conference, the Flyers face off against the New York Islanders while the Tampa Bay Lightning meet the Boston Bruins in a rematch of their 2018 second-round series.
ESPN.COM: The NHL issued a statement Friday condemning what it called an “insensitive and insulting” comment by NBC hockey analyst Mike Milbury during Thursday’s game between the New York Islanders and Washington Capitals. As Milbury and fellow analyst Brian Boucher was discussing the merits of the NHL playoff bubble, Milbury said, “Not even any woman here to disrupt your concentration.” The league communicated its concern to NBC. Milbury issued an apology on Twitter.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As ESPN’s Emily Kaplan noted, this isn’t the first time Milbury’s made insensitive comments about women during telecasts. Forbes.com’s Kim Elsesser pointed out his remarks have no basis in fact. She called them “reductive, diminishing the role of all women to a distraction. It implies there are only drawbacks of having women around.”
Milbury’s comments were the latest in a long list of stupid things he’s said over the years. This one might be the last straw. He was removed from Friday’s telecast and it remains to be seen if he’ll be back.
#CBJ GM Jarmo Kekalainen said that C Brandon Dubinsky “most likely” won’t be able to play again because of his chronic wrist injury. Not a surprise, really, but straight from the GM.
— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) August 21, 2020
An update on Mikko Rantanen, Mike Milbury offers up his opinion on analytics, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: (Stick tap to Shawn Lamba): Mikko Rantanen isn’t concerned over the lack of a new contract with the Colorado Avalanche. “Nothing’s wrong; there’s still one month until [training] camp starts,” said Rantanen. “I know what’s happening, but I’m not stressful. There are a lot of players who are in the same situation.”
Rantanen, 22, is a restricted free agent coming off an entry-level contract. Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic said he’s looking forward to the young winger returning to Colorado.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As the dog days of the NHL offseason drag on, the unusually high number of top restricted free agents still unsigned dominates the slow news cycle. Most, if not all, of those RFAs (including Rantanen, Toronto’s Mitch Marner, Tampa Bay’s Brayden Point, and Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk) will probably be re-signed before training camps open next month.
THE BOSTON GLOBE: NBC hockey analyst Mike Milbury has no interest in using any of the analytic information from the league’s new Puck and Player Tracking system.
“I know they’re counting on it, but I’ve made my feelings known. No thanks. I mean, every move measured and calculated . . . what the [bleep] is the fun in that?! I guess I could be wrong, and there’ll be something in all of it that will catch my eye, but . . . ”
Milbury feels those numbers could be useful for player assessment. However, he doesn’t want them to bog down the broadcast or become a substitution for the trained eye. “How is a team adjusting its power play or forecheck . . . what are a player’s strengths? That, for me, is the fun of it. Now we’re going to be talking about equations based on that? Come on, really?”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Milbury’s earned his fair share of criticism over the years for his coverage of the game. I daresay his remarks won’t go down well with the analytic community.
I believe analytics have a place in hockey and it could be worthwhile to share that information during the broadcasts if it’s done with the right balance. Bombard fans with too many numbers and it could detract from the overall coverage.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: As hockey analytics evolves, the Chicago Blackhawks are confident they’ll remain among the leaders in their assessment and usage of that data.
NEWSOBSERVER.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes signed college defenseman Chase Priskie to an entry-level contract. “At Quinnipiac, Priskie led Division I defensemen in goals (17), power-play goals (10) and game-winning goals (five) last season. He was a top-10 finalist for the Hobey Baker Award in 2018-19.”
Game recaps, Crosby injured, Hart Trophy finalists revealed & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Kevin Shattenkirk’s overtime goal gave the Washington Capitals a 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 3 of their second-round series. The Penguins had rallied from a 2-0 deficit on third-period goals by Evgeni Malkin and Justin Schultz to force the extra frame.
The Capitals win, however, was overshadowed by an upper-body injury suffered in the first period by Penguins captain Sidney Crosby after he was cross-checked by Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen, who received a five-minute major and a game misconduct.
Crosby left the game and didn’t return. The Penguins provided no update on Crosby following the game and there’s no indication if Niskanen will receive supplemental discipline, though the blueliner claims he didn’t deliberately target Crosby’s head.
Penguins forward Conor Sheary also left the game with a facial injury after a collision with teammate Patric Hornqvist and didn’t return.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given Crosby’s concussion history there’s legitimate concern over his status. An update on his status could come later today. If he’s suffered a serious injury it could prove the turning point of this series.
Speaking of Crosby, he joins Columbus Blue Jacket goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid as finalists for the Hart Memorial Trophy.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Just my opinion but I believe McDavid will win the Hart this season. He was the league’s top scorer and without him the Oilers probably don’t reach the playoffs.
OTTAWA SUN: Senators forward Clarke MacArthur said he’ll be ready to play in Game 3 of his club’s series with the New York Rangers. He left Game 2 with a pinched nerve in his neck.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Anaheim Ducks winger Patrick Eaves is day-to-day with a lower-body injury (right foot).
THE TENNESSEAN: NBC Sports hockey analyst Mike Milbury attempted to walk back his comments accusing Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban of acting like a “clown” during the warm-ups for Game 2 of his club’s series against the St. Louis Blues.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Milbury’s remarks drew considerable criticism from hockey fans on Twitter. Considering the most notable moment in Milbury’s NHL playing career was hitting a fan with a shoe, he’s in no position to call anyone a clown.
CALGARY SUN: The Flames announced the re-signing of general manager Brad Treliving to a multi-year contract extension.
TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild defenseman Christian underwent surgery on his right shoulder. He’s expected to be ready for training camp in September.
TSN.CA: The NHL lays blame on the NHLPA for repeatedly interfering with attempts to implement rules to limit staged fights, improve player safety and implement tougher penalties for hits to the head in an affidavit related to a lawsuit filed by former NHL players. The league is also asking that the case not be certified as a class-action lawsuit.