NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 8, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 8, 2021

The Canadiens sweep the Jets to advance to the semifinals, the Islanders have the Bruins on the brink of elimination, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Tyler Toffoli’s overtime goal gave the Montreal Canadiens a 3-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets in Game 4 to sweep their second-round series. The Canadiens are the first team to reach the 2021 semifinals. They opened the scoring with first-period goals by Erik Gustafsson and Artturi Lehkonen but the Jets forced the extra frame as Logan Stanley tallied twice in the second period.

Montreal Canadiens forward Tyler Toffoli (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Montreal dominated the play despite the close score, outshooting Winnipeg 42-16. If not for Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck this would’ve been a lopsided victory. Habs defenseman Jeff Petry missed this game after dislocating two fingers in Game 3 but he’s expected to be ready for the semifinals.

The New York Islanders held off the Boston Bruins for a 5-4 win in Game 5 to take a 3-2 lead in their second-round series. Isles goaltender Semyon Varlamov made 40 saves while Brock Nelson’s early third-period goal held up as the winner. The Isles went three-for-four on the power play. David Pastrnak scored twice for Boston, who pulled goaltender Tuukka Rask after two periods. Bruins forward Curtis Lazar left the game after throwing a big hit on Isles defenseman Ryan Pulock. Game 6 is tomorrow night on Long Island.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy questioned the officiating during his post-game press conference, saying the penalties called against his club weren’t being called on the Islanders. He also singled out his opponent. “We’re playing a team that have very respected management and coaching staff, they’ve won a Stanley Cup. But I think they sell a narrative over there that it’s more like the New York Saints and not the New York Islanders,” said Cassidy.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes winger Nino Niederreiter could return to action for Game 5 tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning. He missed the first four games of this series with an undisclosed injury but returned to practice yesterday. The Hurricanes face a must-win situation down three games to one.

NHL.COM: The Florida Panthers signed forward Anton Lundell to a three-year entry-level contract. He was selected 12th overall by the Panthers in last year’s NHL Draft.

Renee Hess (founder of the Black Girl Hockey Club), Kevin Hodgson (executive director of HEROS), and Howard Smith (co-founder of Pittsburgh I.C.E.) are the three finalists for the Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 1, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 1, 2021

The Canadiens upset the Maple Leafs in seven games, the Islanders tie their second-round series with the Bruins, Reaves suspended two games, Kadri suspension upheld, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Montreal Canadiens advanced to the second round of the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs following a 3-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 7 of their first-round series. Canadiens goaltender Carey Price made 30 saves while Brendan Gallagher, Corey Perry and Tyler Toffoli were the goal scorers. William Nylander spoiled Price’s shutout bid late in the third. The Canadiens will face the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday for the opening game of that series.

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens deserved the win. Down three games to one and seemingly on the ropes, they rebounded to upset the heavily favored Leafs. Price once again reminded everyone why teammates and opponents still consider him the best goaltender in the league. He was outstanding in this series. His teammates were buoyed by his play and his calm leadership and rode it to victory.

The Leafs choked. There’s no sugarcoating this one. They had the Canadiens on the ropes after Game 4 but couldn’t find the knockout punch. Richard Trophy winner Auston Matthews was held to one goal. Mitch Marner finished the regular season in fourth place among the league’s point leaders but couldn’t score a goal in this series. There’s plenty of blame to go around for this epic failure. However, Matthews and Marner are the Leafs’ biggest stars and were expected to lead their club to victory in this series. They didn’t, and they’ll carry that burden for a while.

This will be an interesting summer for the Leafs as they evaluate this disappointing finish to what had been a dazzling regular season. I’ll have more later this morning in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

An overtime goal by Casey Cizikas gave the New York Islanders a 4-3 win over the Boston Bruins to tie their second-round series at a game apiece. Semyon Varlamov got the start for the Isles and made 39 saves for the win while Jean-Gabriel Pageau had a goal and an assist. Brad Marchand had a goal and an assist for the Bruins. Game 3 goes Thursday night on Long Island.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was an entertaining back-and-forth contest. Boston quickly opened the scoring, the Islanders rebounded to take a 3-1 lead but the Bruins rallied to force overtime. A turnover at the Islanders blueline by Jeremy Lauzon sprung Cizikas for his breakaway winner.

The NHL released its full schedule for the second round of the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Golden Knights forward Ryan Reaves received a two-game suspension for roughing and unsportsmanlike conduct against Colorado Avalanche defenseman Ryan Graves in Game 1 of their second-round series on Sunday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski reported Reaves admitted he yanked out some of Graves’ hair while the Golden Knights admitted the incident was retaliatory due to Graves’ earlier hit on Mattias Janmark. And for that, he gets two games, probably because Graves returned to the game after leaving the ice for repairs.

SPORTSNET: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has upheld Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri’s eight-game suspension after hearing Kadri’s appeal last week. He was suspended for a hit to the head of St. Louis Blues defenseman Justin Faulk in Game 2 of their first-round series.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes could shuffle their lineup with winger Nino Niederreiter expected to be sidelined for the entirety of their series against the Tampa Bay Lightning.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 31, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 31, 2021

The Avalanche and Lightning win the opening games of their respective second-round series, an update on Jake Muzzin, the Islanders consider a goalie change, commemorating a notable anniversary in Jets history, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog each had two goals and an assist while Cale Makar collected four points as the Colorado Avalanche thumped the Vegas Golden Knights 7-1 in the opening game of their second-round series. Game 2 goes Wednesday in Denver.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (NHL Images).

Tempers flared after Vegas forward Mattias Janmark left the game in the second period with an apparent head injury following a hit by Avalanche defenseman Ryan Graves. Golden Knights forward Ryan Reaves received a match penalty in the third period for punching Graves in the back of the head, throwing him to the ice and attacking him while he was down. The Avs defenseman was down for several minutes before skating to the dressing room.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche took control of this game in the opening minutes and never let up. Vegas goaltender Robin Lehner looked a little rusty in his first appearance of this postseason. I daresay we’ll see Marc-Andre Fleury return to the Vegas net for Game 2. Lehner wasn’t solely to blame for this lopsided loss. His teammates were outclassed in this contest.

Reaves’ match penalty means he could receive a suspension by the NHL department of player discipline. Graves received a minor penalty for interference on the Janmark hit. No word on whether he’ll face supplemental discipline.

The Tampa Bay Lightning downed the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 in Game 1 of their second-round series. Barclay Goodrow snapped a 1-1 tie in the third period while Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy made 37 saves for the win. Brayden Point was the other Lightning scorer while Jake Bean replied for the Hurricanes. Game 2 goes Tuesday night in Carolina.

Carolina winger Nino Niederreiter missed the game with an undisclosed injury suffered during practice on Saturday. Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said Niederreiter is “very, very doubtful” to play in this series.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This series will be closely contested between two talented clubs if Game 1 was any indication. Vasilevskiy made the difference in this contest. Hurricanes goalie Alex Nedeljkovic played well for most of this contest but looked off-balance on the Goodrow goal.

HEADLINES

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs aren’t ruling out defenseman Jake Muzzin from Game 7 tonight against the Montreal Canadiens. He left Game 6 with a lower-body injury and was receiving further tests yesterday. If Muzzin can’t play, Rasmus Sandin is expected to replace him.

NEW YORK POST: Islanders coach Barry Trotz is mulling whether to replace rookie Ilya Sorokin with veteran Semyon Varlamov for Game 2 against the Boston Bruins tonight. Sorokin gave up four goals on 39 shots in a 5-2 loss to the Bruins.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins winger Craig Smith status for Game 2 is uncertain following a lower-body injury suffered in the first game.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers’ front-office purge continues as director of European scout Nick Bobrov was dismissed by new general manager Chris Drury.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: On this date in 2011, the Atlanta Thrashers relocated to Winnipeg and become the second edition of the Jets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After struggling in Atlanta, moving to the NHL’s smallest market improved the franchise’s fortunes. They’ve become a perennial playoff contender and are well-supported by Winnipeg fans. The Jets upset the Edmonton Oilers last week to advance to the second round of the 2021 playoffs. They currently await the winner of the Toronto-Montreal series.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 4, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 4, 2021

Recaps of Wednesday’s games and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Toronto Maple Leafs thumped the Edmonton Oilers 6-1 to sweep their three-game series. Jimmy Vesey scored two goals, Jason Spezza collected three assists and Fredrik Andersen made 26 saves in his return to action after missing four games with a lower-body injury. Auston Matthews also returned after missing two games with a wrist injury but was held scoreless.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs outscored the Oilers 13-1 in their three games, including back-to-back shutouts. They held Oilers captain Connor McDavid scoreless while Leon Draisaitl managed just one assist.

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (NHL Images).

The Vegas Golden Knights picked up their fourth straight victory by taming the Minnesota Wild 5-1. Marc-Andre Fleury made 36 saves while Mark Stone, William Karlsson, Alex Tuch and Colin Stephenson each had a goal and an assist. Wild winger Zach Parise was a healthy scratch for the first time in his career with the club owing to an overextended shift during Monday’s overtime loss to Vegas.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury has bounced back well from last season’s inconsistent performance. He’s among the league leaders with 11 wins, a .939 save percentage, 1.71 goals-against average and three shutouts. The 36-year-old netminder could become a Vezina Trophy finalist if he can maintain that level of play.

Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog each had four-point performances as the Colorado Avalanche blanked the San Jose Sharks 4-0. Philipp Grubauer made 26 saves for the shutout. It was a costly win for the Avs as center Nathan MacKinnon left the game in the third period after a hit to the head from Sharks winger Joachim Blichfield, who received a match penalty and could face supplemental discipline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Avs coach Jared Bednar said MacKinnon seemed to be doing okay following the game. We should find out today or tomorrow if he avoided serious injury.

A shootout goal by Jakub Vrana lifted the Washington Capitals over the Boston Bruins 2-1. David Pastrnak scored for the Bruins while Lars Eller replied for the Capitals. The Bruins honored former captain Zdeno Chara with a video tribute as he returned to Boston for the first time since signing with the Capitals in the offseason. Before the game, the Bruins announced center Charlie Coyle was placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 list.

The St. Louis Blues got power-play goals from Oskar Sundqvist, Brayden Schenn and Zach Sandford to hold the Anaheim Ducks 3-2. Blues goalie Jordan Binnington kicked out 27 shots. The Ducks have dropped eight straight games.

Arizona Coyotes netminder Antti Raanta stopped 40 shots as his club nipped the Los Angeles Kings 3-2. Two goals 40 seconds apart in the second period by Nick Schmaltz and Johan Larsson gave the Coyotes the win. The Kings have dropped three straight.

IN OTHER NEWS…

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said his decision to fire goalie coach Stephane Waite during Tuesday’s 3-1 win over Ottawa. He said he consulted interim head coach Dominique Ducharme beforehand but not with netminder Carey Price, who learned of the move following the game. The Habs hired Sean Burke as their new director of goaltending.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergevin said the move was made to help Price improve his performance, which has fallen off over the past four seasons. The Habs GM is not expected to make any further organizational changes this season after firing coaches Claude Julien and Kirk Muller last week. However, Bergevin could face losing his job if his moves fail to improve the Canadiens,

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes winger Nino Niederreiter was fined $5,000.00 for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros on Tuesday. Saros is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

CBS SPORTS: Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jason Zucker (lower body) was placed on long-term injury reserve yesterday.

TSN: Frank Seravalli reports NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said league revenue for 2021-22 could be affected by Canada’s slow vaccine rollout. While admitting it is premature to make predictions, Daly hinted it could affect everything from revenue to competition, including division alignment, travel and trades. He also said the league remains optimistic that its trajectory remains on pace toward a normal work environment for next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadian government maintains the COVID-19 vaccines will be available to all its citizens who want one by September. Recent reports suggest the distribution of those vaccines could speed up in the coming months. Nevertheless, we won’t know for certain until the start of next season what the effect will be on Canadian teams and league revenue.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 20, 2020

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – September 20, 2020

Possible free-agent destinations for Alex Pietrangelo, plus the latest on the Islanders and Canadiens in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

WHERE COULD PIETRANGELO GO VIA FREE AGENCY?

THE SCORE: Joel Wegman listed the Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, Calgary Flames, and Edmonton Oilers as possible destinations for St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo if he hits the open market next month. Contract talks between Pietrangelo and the Blues broke off last week as the club advised him to pursue free agency.

Wegman acknowledged the salary-cap constraints of the Leafs and Oilers mean they’d have to shed a salary or two to sign Pietrangelo. The Bruins’ logical need is for a scorer (Wegman suggests Arizona’s Taylor Hall) but he doesn’t rule out general manager Don Sweeney signing Pietrangelo and shopping Brandon Carlo or Connor Clifton for a left-side defenseman.

The Flames would have to overpay but they have $17 million in salary-cap room. The Avalanche have plenty of cap room and Wegman suggests they could shop Ian Cole and Erik Johnson to make room for Pietrangelo and create long-term cap space to re-sign Cale Makar and Gabriel Landeskog.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some interesting suggestions from Wegman. The Leafs have been tied to Pietrangelo in the rumor mill for months. Signing him, however, requires some nifty salary-cap gymnastics by Leafs GM Kyle Dubas, which could include acquiring a player on permanent LTIR to allow them to spend over the cap ceiling.

The Oilers must improve their goaltending and add a reliable right-wing scorer. I don’t think they’ll get into the Pietrangelo sweepstakes. The Flames could try but GM Brad Treliving could be reluctant to overpay for his services.

Boston and Colorado are the intriguing ones on this list. Perhaps Sweeney gets creative as Wegman suggests, but the Avs’ Joe Sakic seems in prime position to strike. I think he should pursue an experienced starting goalie, but Pietrangelo could be that missing piece of the championship puzzle.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE ISLANDERS?

NEW YORK POST: Mollie Walker looked at the roster issues facing the New York Islanders next season. She expects UFA goalie Thomas Greiss will be replaced by promising Ilya Sorokin. UFA defenseman Andy Greene and winger Matt Martin might have to take pay cuts to stay with the Isles. Forward Derick Brassard was a healthy scratch at times during the postseason.

Center Mathew Barzal and defensemen Devon Toews and Ryan Pulock are restricted free agents. GM Lou Lamoriello said earlier this year he’d match any offer sheet for Barzal and it isn’t his intention to allow negotiations to reach that point.

NEWSDAY: Andrew Gross believes the Islanders need a top-six scorer or two who can improve their power play. Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine, Florida Panthers winger Mike Hoffman, or Arizona’s Taylor Hall could be good initial targets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Islanders have $72.5 million invested in 20 players. Barzal’s new contract will eat up most of that remaining $8.9 million even if he agreed to an affordable bridge deal. GM Lou Lamoriello will have to shed salary just to re-sign Barzal, Toews and Pulock, which could mean bidding farewell to Martin, Greene and Brassard.

Lamoriello could get creative to add a scoring forward. However, I don’t see him being able to acquire a sniper such as Laine or sign an expensive UFA winger like Hall or Hoffman.

LATEST CANADIENS SPECULATION

TVA SPORTS: noted Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin recently said he’s interested in landing a big forward who can help his club’s offensive attack. The site listed Chicago’s Brandon Saad, Detroit’s Anthony Mantha, Columbus’ Josh Anderson, Carolina’s Nino Niedereitter, Minnesota’s Jordan Greenway and Edmonton’s Jesse Puljujarvi as power forwards who might be enticing to Bergevin.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks must shed salary to re-sign RFAs Dominik Kubalik and Dylan Strome as well as re-sign or replace UFA goalie Corey Crawford. They could move Saad and his $6 million cap hit for next season but could be reluctant to go that route unless they get a more affordable replacement. Some Habs fans might suggest Max Domi, but the Blackhawks are set at center with Jonathan Toews, Kirby Dach and Dylan Strome, and might not see Domi as an effective substitution for Saad.

Anderson has potential but his season-ending shoulder injury could be cause for concern. Niederreiter tends to be inconsistent and at $5.25-million annually for the next two seasons would be an expensive gamble.

Puljujarvi has proven nothing yet at the NHL level. Unless the Oilers are willing to dump him for a song, Bergevin should consider more established options. I don’t believe Mantha or Greenway are available.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 3, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 3, 2019

Game recaps, injury updates, Nikita Kucherov fined, Ducks talking contract with Jakob Silfverberg, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning became the first team to reach 80 points this season by holding on for a 3-2 win over the New York Rangers. Lightning forward Brayden Point missed the game with a lower-body injury and is listed as day-to-day. Earlier in the day, the NHL announced Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov was fined $5,000.00 for a dangerous trip on New York Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield on Friday.

The Philadelphia Flyers overcame a 4-2 deficit to edge the Edmonton Oilers 5-4 on an overtime goal by Nolan Patrick, with four of their goals coming on the power-play. Flyers captain Claude Giroux had a goal and two assists while Carter Hart made 40 saves. 

Nico Hischier scored the game-tying and game-winning goals as the New Jersey Devils eked out a 3-2 overtime victory over the Montreal Canadiens. 

Jack Roslovic’s hat trick helped the Winnipeg Jets thump the Anaheim Ducks 9-3 (Photo via NHL Images).

The Winnipeg Jets tallied a franchise-record six goals in the first period to roast the Anaheim Ducks 9-3. Jack Roslovic had a hat trick and Bryan Little added two goals. Ducks goalie John Gibson was pulled in the first period after giving up six goals on 14 shots while teammate Corey Perry was held pointless in his season debut.  Meanwhile, reports indicate contract talks are progressing between the Ducks and pending free agent winger Jakob Silfverberg. 

Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Travis Dermott had a goal and an assist in a 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Earlier in the day, the Leafs placed defenseman Martin Marincin on waivers

Jonathan Bernier turned in a 35-save performance as the Detroit Red Wings shut out the Ottawa Senators 2-0. The Wings were playing without center Dylan Larkin, who’s sidelined one-to-two weeks with a strained oblique muscle. Earlier in the day, the league announced Senators forward Zack Smith was fined $5,000.00 for elbowing Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Marcus Pettersson on Friday. 

The Florida Panthers downed the Vegas Golden Knights 3-1, handing the latter their fourth straight defeat. Panthers goalie James Reimer kicked out 34 shots while Aleksander Barkov had a goal and an assist. 

Three unanswered third-period goals powered the New York Islanders to a 4-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings, extending their points streak to eight games. Isles defenseman Ryan Pulock collected three assists. 

St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko scored one goal and set up two others as his club doubled up the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2, handing the latter their fifth straight loss. The Blues have won six of their last nine games to move within three points of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference. The Blue Jackets now hold a three-point lead over the Carolina Hurricanes for the final wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference. 

Third-period goals by Blake Comeau and Mattias Janmark enabled the Dallas Stars to beat the Nashville Predators 3-1, giving the Stars their fourth straight victory. 

Erik Gustafsson’s overtime goal lifted the Chicago Blackhawks to a 4-3 win over the Minnesota Wild. Blackhawks winger Alex DeBrincat had a three-point performance. 

Jacob Markstrom’s 34-save performance carried the Vancouver Canucks to a 5-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche, enabling the Canucks (54 points) to move past the Avs (52 points) into the final wild-card berth in the Western Conference.  Jake Virtanen and Antoine Roussel each had a goal and an assist. 

The San Jose Sharks nipped the Arizona Coyotes 3-2 thanks to an overtime goal by Brent Burns. The Coyotes were playing without defenseman Jakob Chychrun, who didn’t embark on their road trip owing to a lower-body injury

WASHINGTON POST: Capitals forward Lars Eller (lower-body injury) will be a game-day decision for today’s contest against the Boston Bruins.

THE SCORE: Sportsnet analyst Brian Burke is no fan of the Carolina Hurricane’s post-game victory celebrations.  “I think it’s bush league. If they want to keep doing it in Carolina, fine. I think it’s bush league (and) I hate it.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Burke then yelled at some kids to stay off his lawn, shook his fist at a passing cloud, and told a long-winded tale about how much better things were back in his day.