NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 12, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 12, 2018

Game recaps from the opening night of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: Sidney Crosby tallied a hat trick and Matt Murray had a 24-save shutout as the Pittsburgh Penguins crushed the Philadelphia Flyers 7-0 in Game 1 of their best-of-seven opening round series. With the Pens up 1-0 early in the first period, Murray made a timely save on the Flyers’ Scott Laughton that proved to be a game changer. 

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby tallied a hat trick in a 7-0 thrashing of the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 1 of their opening-round series (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Had Laughton capitalized on that opportunity perhaps the outcome of this contest would’ve been different. The Flyers never really came close to beating Murray after that. Philadelphia goaltender Brian Elliott gave up five goals on 19 shots before he was given the hook. Given the Flyers lack of reliable goalie depth, don’t be surprised if Elliott gets the start in Game 2

The city of Winnipeg is celebrating its first playoff victory since 1996 as the Jets edged the Minnesota Wild 3-2 to take a 1-0 lead in their opening-round series. Joe Morrow snapped a 2-2 tie with a third-period point shot as the Jets overcame a 2-1 deficit for the win. All but one goal came in the third period. Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine also scored for Winnipeg, while Matt Cullen and Zach Parise tallied for the Wild.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the third period of this game is anything to go by, this will be a very entertaining series. Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk was outstanding, giving his club a chance to win despite being outshot 40-20. 

Marc-Andre Fleury made 30 saves and Shea Theodore scored the only goal as the Vegas Golden Knights got their first-ever playoff victory by edging the Los Angeles Kings 1-0. It was Fleury’s 63rd playoff win, tying him for 12th all-time with Curtis Joseph, and his 11th postseason shutout, moving him to 10th all-time. Kings netminder Jonathan Quick kicked out 27 shots. The Golden Knights lead the series 1-0. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This could become a hard-fought series between two evenly-matched opponents. The goaltending was strong for both clubs. If this keeps up, goals will be difficult to come by in this match-up. 

TAMPA BAY TIMES: After 10 NHL seasons, the pressure is on Lightning captain Steven Stamkos to deliver a Stanley Cup. 

THE ATHLETIC: Columbus Blue Jackets winger Thomas Vanek needs to carry over his solid regular-season play into the postseason.

THE ATHLETIC: Special teams could make the difference in the opening-round series between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins. 

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche have faith in backup goaltender Jonathan Bernier, who replaces sidelined starter Semyon Varlamov in their upcoming series against the Nashville Predators. 

STLTODAY.COM: Jake Allen will return as the Blues’ starting goalie next season, but he acknowledges he must improve. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Allen’s inconsistent performance was a factor in the Blues failing to reach the postseason. 

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Changes could be coming to the Oilers’ coaching staff. 

THE ATHLETIC: Chicago Blackhawks forward Vinnie Hinostroza underwent sports-hernia surgery on Wednesday. He’s expected to make a full recovery and resume training next month. 

OTTAWA SUN: Chris Neil is returning to the Senators in the role of alumni ambassador.



NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 15, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 15, 2017

Game recaps plus updates on Devan Dubnyk, Ryan Callahan, Matt Beleskey and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: Facing his former team for the first time, Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made 24 saves in a 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Jon Merrill tallied the game winner in the third period. 

Alex Chiasson scored twice and Alex Ovechkin tallied his 22nd goal of the season as the Washington Capitals defeated the Boston Bruins 5-3. Patrice Bergeron had two goals in a losing effort for the Bruins, who placed struggling winger Matt Beleskey on waivers yesterday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The decline in Beleskey’s play (no points in 14 games) and his $3.8 million annual salary-cap hit through 2019-20 makes it unlikely he’ll be claimed by another NHL club. If demoted as expected later today, the Bruins will get $1.025 million in prorated cap relief. 

The Tampa Bay Lightning picked up their sixth straight victory with a 4-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 32 saves for his league-leading 23rd win of the season while league scoring leader Nikita Kucherov picked up his 22nd goal and 44th point. Lightning winger Ryan Callahan left the game in the third period with an injured right arm and could be sidelined for an extended period.

Oliver Bjorkstrand collected a career-high three assists as the Columbus Blue Jackets held on for a 6-4 win over the New York Islanders. The Jackets blew a 3-0 lead but surged ahead on goals by Seth Jones and Nick Foligno. Josh Bailey potted a hat trick for the Isles. 

Juuse Saros turned in a 46-save shutout performance backstopping the Nashville Predators to a 4-0 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. Kyle Turris and Mattias Ekholm each had two points in this contest. 

The Minnesota Wild extended their winning streak to four games with a 2-0 blanking of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Tyler Ennis and Mikael Granlund were the goal scorers while Alex Stalock got a measure of revenge over this former team by turning aside 28 shots for the shutout. Stalock was subbing for starter Devan Dubnyk, who’s listed as week-to-week with a lower-body injury. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a good start for Stalock, who will be expected to carry the goaltending duties until Dubnyk’s return, which might not be until perhaps the end of December. 

Patrick Kane and Nick Schmaltz each collected a goal and an assist to lead the Chicago Blackhawks to a 5-1 drubbing of the Winnipeg Jets. Corey Crawford made 27 saves for his 15th win of the season. 

Nathan MacKinnon scored twice and Semyon Varlamov made 32 saves as the Colorado Avalanche edged the Florida Panthers 2-1. 

Tomas Plekanec scored in overtime as the Montreal Canadiens squeezed past the New Jersey Devils 2-1. It was Plekanec’s first goal in 18 games. Earlier in the day, the Devils made a minor trade by shipping forward Ryan Kujawinski to the Arizona Coyotes for forward Michael Latta.

Joonas Donskoi’s goal late in the third period lifted the San Jose Sharks to a 3-2 victory over the Calgary Flames. Donskoi, Timo Meier and Chris Tierney each had a goal and an assist against the Flames. 

Kevin Roy scored twice and John Gibson made 29 saves to give the Anaheim Ducks a 3-1 win over the St. Louis Blues. 

The Philadelphia Flyers collected their fifth straight win by edging the Buffalo Sabres 2-1. Travis Sanheim and Valtteri Filppula were the goalscorers for the Flyers. 

OTTAWA SUN: After 15 NHL seasons, all of them spent with the Senators, rugged winger Chris Neil announced his retirement yesterday. In 1,026 games, Neil collected 112 goals and 138 assists for 250 points, along with 2,522 PIMs. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best of luck to Neil and his family in their future endeavors. 

TSN: NHL Alumni Association executive director Glenn Healy met yesterday with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to discuss improving the medical benefits for retired players. The NHL Players Association was not scheduled to attend the meeting. 


NHL Rumor Mill – September 30, 2017

NHL Rumor Mill – September 30, 2017

Matt Duchene could open the season with the Colorado Avalanche.

Updates on Matt Duchene, Jaromir Jagr and Chris Neil in your NHL rumor mill.

THE DENVER POST: In a recent Q&A with his readers, Mike Chambers said it appears center Matt Duchene will open the season with the Colorado Avalanche. He adds there’s no rush to move him if management is happy with the defense to start the season. Chambers doubts Duchene’s presence will adversely affect his relationship with his teammates.

FANRAG SPORTS NETWORK: Chris Nichols cites Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman’s appearance Friday on Edmonton’s 630 CHED discussing the latest on Duchene. He notes things have been quiet of late but doesn’t know if it’s because there’s no trade discussions at this time or merely the lull before the storm.

Friedman believes the Columbus Blue Jackets remain “very, very much in it.” He also thinks the Nashville Predators are “circling” while the Calgary Flames and Anaheim Ducks have been “in and out.”  With center Ryan Kesler sidelined, Friedman suggests the Ducks are a team that could make that deal.

THE ATHLETIC: Graeme Nichols recently examined the pros and cons of the Ottawa Senators making a move for Duchene. He feels the addition of Duchene would address the Sens’ long-term need for a top-six forward at left wing. He could also become a contingency plan if contract talks with center Kyle Turris go south. Among the cons are the high cost of taking on his $6 million annual salary and keeping him in the fold long-term, as well as the Avs’ high asking price.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: What, did you really think we could get through an entire week without an update on Matt Duchene?

After weeks of non-stop speculation, things have grown quiet of late. Maybe it’s the calm before the storm but I think it’s because no one is willing to meet the Avs’ asking price. Teams are undoubtedly interested in Duchene but until the Avs seek a more reasonable return or someone gets desperate, he’s not going anywhere. 

NBC SPORTS: Cam Tucker cites Andy Strickland reporting the agent for unrestricted free agent winger Jaromir Jagr said he’s currently in talks with three NHL teams. Tucker recalls there was speculation linking Jagr to the Calgary Flames earlier this summer, while St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong admitted there were internal discussions regarding the veteran forward. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames lack scoring depth at right wing while the Blues are looking to plug gaps in their injury-riddled forward lines. Either of them could be taking a serious look at the 45-year-old Jagr. 

LA PRESSE: Guillaume Lefrancois reports agent Todd Reynolds said the Montreal Canadiens were among the teams that expressed interest in his client, former Ottawa Senators enforcer Chris Neil. Reynolds said the Habs offered up a professional tryout offer but Neil seeks a full-time NHL contract. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Habs appear to lack skilled blueline depth and have a longstanding need for a scoring center. Neil addresses none of those concerns. . 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 28, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 28, 2017

Andrei Markov heading to the KHL.

Andrei Markov returning to Russia plus updates on Dwight King, Chris Neil & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

MONTREAL GAZETTE: After 16 seasons, unrestricted free agent defenseman Andrei Markov won’t be returning to the Canadiens and won’t be signing with another NHL club. The 38-year-old blueliner intends to return to Russia and sign with a KHL team. He’s also hopeful of playing for Russia in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. Markov was reportedly seeking a two-year, $12 million contract.

Markov is just 10 games shy of 1,000 career NHL games, all with the Canadiens. He’s tied with Guy Lapointe for second among Habs defensemen in points (572) and is third all-time among their blueliners with 119 goals.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Markov isn’t completely closing the door on returning to the Habs one day. He was also apparently willing to accept a one-year contract from the Canadiens. I’ll have more on Markov’s situation and its effect upon the Habs offseason plans later this morning in the Rumors section. 

NBC SPORTS: Another former Hab, forward Dwight King, could also follow Markov to the KHL.  The Vancouver Canucks reportedly had “mild interest” in the 28-year-old, who played on two Stanley Cup winners with the Los Angeles Kings. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: King’s stock declined last season, especially after he was dealt to Montreal, where he had no positive effect as a playoff rental player for the Canadiens. 

OTTAWA SUN: Former Senators enforcer Chris Neil remains confident he’ll be playing in the NHL in 2017-18. He reportedly decided to hold off on one offer in hopes of getting a better deal more suitable for him and his family. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: For a 38-year-old fading player, that’s a risky position to take. 

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes signed forward Phil Di Giuseppe to a one-year, two-way contract paying him $725,000 on the NHL level.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: The Sabres signed left wing Evan Rodrigues to a two-year, two-way contract, 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 9, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 9, 2017

Washington Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky scores one of his two goals against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 6 of their second-round series.

Capitals force Game 7 against Penguins plus updates on John Tavares, Vladimir Tarasenko & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM:  Andre Burakovsky scored twice and Nicklas Backstrom tallied a goal and an assist as the Washington Capitals defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2 in Game 6 of their second-round series. The seventh and deciding game will be played on Wednesday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals dominated the Penguins in this game, breaking up Pittsburgh’s passing game and frustrating their best players. Some believe there’s been a momentum shift since Game 5 of this series, but I believe that shift occurred following captain Sidney Crosby’s concussion in Game 3. While the Penguins won Game 4 in Crosby’s absence, they were outplayed in that game and owed their victory to the goaltending of Marc-Andre Fleury. Crosby’s return in Game 5 hasn’t helped. Indeed, he hasn’t looked the same since his injury. His teammates look like they’ve lost the energy they had earlier in this series.

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby collected an assist for his 97th career NHL playoff point, surpassing Mario Lemieux as the club’s all-time playoff points leader. However, that was overshadowed by the loss and a scary incident in which Crosby crashed headfirst into the end boards during the first period. Crosby would continue playing but he and Penguins coach Mike Sullivan offered up conflicting replies post-game regarding concussion evaluation. Crosby said he was evaluated following the first period but Sullivan said he wasn’t. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s surprising the NHL’s concussion spotters didn’t ask to take a look at Crosby following that incident. The conflicting comments by the Penguins captain and Sullivan could raise more questions over how the club and the league evaluates their players for possible concussion symptoms. 

The Penguins also played without defenseman Trevor Daley, who missed Game 6 with a lower-body injury and is listed as day-to-day.

 EDMONTON SUN/ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Oilers fourth-liner and first-unit power-play shooter Mark Letestu has more points than superstar teammate Connor McDavid, sitting seventh among all scorers in this postseason. Meanwhile, Ducks forwards Patrick Eaves and Logan Shaw remain questionable for Game 7 tomorrow. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s largely due to Ducks center Ryan Kesler’s close checking of McDavid, but the Ducks seem to have no answer for Letestu, who’s really stepped up his game in his series. 

OTTAWA SUN/NEW YORK POST:  Long-time Senators enforcer Chris Neil hopes he’ll see some playing time in Game 6 of his club’s series tonight against the New York Rangers. Neil played just over two minutes in Game 5, but his presence provided a boost to his teammates. However, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault doubts Neil will have much impact if he plays in Game 6. 

NEWSDAY: New York Islanders captain John Tavares underwent surgery last month on his right hand but is expected to be ready for training camp in September. It’s also believed the Islanders are likely to offer Tavares, who’s eligible next July for unrestricted free agency, an eight-year contract extension worth $10 million annually. Meanwhile, sources claim Barclays Center has taken the preliminary step toward a potential opt-out of its 25-year lease with the Islanders. 

STLTODAY.COM: The coach of Russia’s national hockey team said St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko won’t be joining his club at the World Championships because he’s due to undergo surgery. However, there’s no confirmation about this from Tarasenko or Blues management. 

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs forward Frederik Gauthier underwent surgery for a lower-body injury and is expected to be sidelined for six months. 

COURIER POST’S Dave Isaac reports the Philadelphia Flyers there is interest in bringing back Dean Lombardi, the former general manager of the Los Angeles Kings. No word what his role could be. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flyers GM Ron Hextall worked with Lombardi as assistant GM with the Kings. I imagine Hextall wants to bring Lombardi in as his right-hand man. 

TSN: If the NHL Players Association opts out of the current CBA in 2019 and there isn’t a new CBA in place by 2020, there won’t be a World Cup of Hockey that fall. 

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports the Vegas Golden Knights will be able to sign an unprotected restricted free agent as though they’re their own player. No offer sheet required and no compensation for the team. 

BSN DENVER:  The Colorado Avalanche has parted ways with team doctor Andrew Parker and their medical staff. 

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Former Canadiens owner and president John David Molson passed away at age 88. He was president of the club from 1964 to 1972, during which the Habs won five Stanley Cups. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to the Canadiens organization and the Molson family. 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 10, 2016

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 10, 2016

St. Louis Blues forward Robby Fabbri scores one of his two goals against the New Jersey Devils.

St. Louis Blues forward Robby Fabbri scores one of his two goals against the New Jersey Devils.

Game recaps, Isles re-sign Clutterbuck, Leafs trade Holland to Coyotes & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Robby Fabbri scored twice and Vladimir Tarasenko collected three assists to lead the St. Louis Blues to a 4-1 win over the New Jersey Devils. 

Brandon Dubinsky netted the game winner in the second period as the Columbus Blue Jackets rolled to their fifth straight victory by clipping the Detroit Red Wings 4-1. 

Eric Staal’s shootout goal gave the Minnesota Wild a 3-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. It was the Wild’s third straight win and fifth in their last eight games. 

Nick Holden scored in overtime while Antti Raanta turned in a 26-save shutout performance as the New York Rangers blanked the Chicago Blackhawks 1-0. 

The Anaheim Ducks blew a two-goal lead but Hampus Lindholm’s tallied the winner in the third period to give them a 3-2 win over the San Jose Sharks. 

Philipp Grubauer made 27 saves backstopping the Washington Capitals to a 4-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres. 

The New York Islanders yesterday announced the re-signing of forward Cal Clutterbuck to a five-year contract extension. The deal is worth $17.5 million or an annual average value of $3.5 million. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a slight raise from the $2.75 million annual cap hit of his current deal. I’m not a fan of this signing, for reasons best explained by The Hockey News’ Jared Clinton. He believes, as I do, that this is a puzzling, big-money move by the Isles that could hurt them down the road.  

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs traded center Peter Holland on Friday to the Arizona Coyotes for a conditional draft pick in 2018. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs were shopping Holland, 25, for over two weeks. He no longer fit into their plans. The Coyotes needed depth at center after losing Brad Richardson a few weeks ago to a broken leg. This move could give Holland an opportunity to get his NHL career back on track. 

OTTAWA SUN: Senators forward Chris Neil will play in his 1,000th career NHL game tonight against the Los Angeles Kings. 

THE NEWS & OBSERVER:  Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos Jr. is no longer a member of the NHL’s executive committee. He and the late Ed Snider (former owner of the Philadelphia Flyers) were replaced by Winnipeg Jets owner Mark Chipman and Montreal Canadiens owner Geoff Molson.

NBC SPORTS: Former NHL star Kevin Stevens pleaded guilty in a Boston court on Thursday to charges of conspiring with another man to sell oxycodone, a powerful opioid drug.