NHL Playoffs: Lightning Take Series Stranglehold with 3-1 Win Over The Bruins
The Lightning and Canucks tie their respective series, updates on the Avalanche and Islanders, Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella fined, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Ondrej Palat scored his first goal of the playoffs in overtime as the Tampa Bay Lightning edged the Boston Bruins 4-3. With the win, the Lightning tied the series at a game apiece. Blake Coleman scored twice for the Bolts while the Bruins’ Brad Marchand also netted two goals, including the game-tying goal that forced the extra frame. The two clubs face off again tonight in Game 3.
— BOSHockeyNow (@BOSHockeyNow) August 26, 2020
SPECTOR’S NOTE A better effort from the Lightning in this contest compared to Game 1. They rallied from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits, taking their first lead of the series until Marchand tied it late in the third, and getting that big goal from Palat to tie the series.
The Vancouver Canucks tied their series with the Vegas Golden Knights with a 5-2 victory in Game 2. Canucks winger Tyler Toffoli marked his return from injury with a goal and two assists, Elias Pettersson also had three points, Bo Horvat scored two goals and Jacob Markstrom made 38 saves.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A solid bounce-back performance by the Canucks following their meek effort in a 5-0 loss to Vegas in Game 1. The return of Toffoli and his two-way skills provides a welcome boost to their lineup.
THE DENVER POST: Down 2-0 in their series with the Dallas Stars, the Colorado Avalanche need production from their secondary scorers if they’re to rally back. Apart from Nazem Kadri’s secondary assist in Game 1, none of their forwards beyond the top line of Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Gabriel Landeskog has a point in this series.
NEW YORK POST: Facing back-to-back games on Wednesday and Thursday, the Islanders could sit starter Semyon Varlamov for one of them. Varlamov’s played in every game thus far for the Isles in this postseason.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The NHL fined Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella $25K for his quick exit from his post-game video press conference following his club’s opening- round elimination by the Tampa Bay Lightning. Tortorella answered just two questions before abruptly leaving.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tortorella’s GAF factor (Give A F**k) was probably at zero by the end of that game.
NHL.com: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly isn’t ruling out the possibility of the league returning to action next season in divisional bubble cities but it’s not something they’ve necessarily considered.
“I don’t think our current format for bubbles would work for the regular season, particularly because our objective is to play a full season and I’m not sure how we do that in the format we’re currently utilizing. It’s already a significant amount of time just to complete our playoffs in that type of bubble format. I don’t think it’s going to look like what we’re currently doing, but could it be a variation of what we’re currently doing. I wouldn’t rule that out any more than I would rule out any number of other alternatives.”
Daly said they’d love to be in the position to open on Dec. 1 with full arenas but acknowledged that might not be possible under the current course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Options could include pushing back the start date of the season or opening to partial crowds in all or part of their 31 markets.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL’s intention is to stage a full 2020-21 campaign. Daly indicated they will be flexible and will keep a close eye on other leagues that open this fall to determine what works and what doesn’t. With 24 of the league’s 31 teams located in the United States, the course of the pandemic in that country will determine when the puck drops next season and how and where they stage those games.
More Alex Pietrangelo conjecture plus some recent Devils speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.
THE LATEST ON PIETRANGELO
STLTODAY.COM: In his latest Q&A live chat with his readers, Jim Thomas was asked how the St. Louis Blues could free up sufficient salary-cap room to re-sign team captain Alex Pietrangelo, who becomes an unrestricted free agent in the off-season. He feels the most likely scenario is trading goaltender Jake Allen and buying out the final season of veteran forward Alexander Steen’s contract.
Thomas doesn’t consider buying out Justin Faulk as an option, in part because it would be more costly to the Blues for much longer than buying out Steen or Tyler Bozak. He also speculated the re-signing of Marco Scandella means at least two players must come off the current roster to re-sign Pietrangelo and doesn’t see Jaden Schwartz being moved in a cost-cutting deal.
If Pietrangelo wants the biggest possible deal, Thomas speculates the blueliner could move on. Despite the possibility of a flat cap next season, he feels there will be enough teams willing to pay big bucks for Pietrangelo. Thomas doubts the Toronto Maple Leafs will be among them, as they have over $76.9 million invested in next season’s cap payroll.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pietrangelo wants to stay in St. Louis and the Blues want to keep him, but he also wants to be paid what he considers fair market value. Reports throughout this season suggest that’s over $9 million annually.
If he’s unwilling to come down from that or the Blues can’t free up sufficient cap room, he’ll be playing elsewhere next season. Unless the Leafs shed a considerable amount of salary, he won’t be coming to Toronto.
NORTHJERSEY.COM: Abbey Mastracco believes the New Jersey Devils could attempt to bring in a short-term veteran winger or two to bridge the gap until those in their farm system are ready to join the roster.
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): In a recent mailbag segment, Corey Masisak suggested the Devils could attempt to add an impact defenseman in the off-season. He thinks they’ll try to do that via the trade route, like the New York Rangers last summer when they acquired Jacob Trouba from the Winnipeg Jets. If they shop one of their first-round picks, Masisak felt it could be for that impact blueliner or a first-line winger.
The Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs are two cap-strapped clubs the Devils could target in the trade market. The Lightning might be forced to part with winger Alex Killorn or Ondrej Palat to re-sign Mikhail Sergachev. Leafs wingers Kaspari Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson could be available, but Toronto would have to include something else if they want the Devils’ third first-rounder.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Killorn and Palat have no-trade protection and probably won’t waive it to join a rebuilding club. Kapanen and Johnsson lack such protection and would be more viable trade options.
Game recaps, injury updates, latest additions to the 2020 NHL All-Star Game, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: An overtime goal by Jared McCann lifted the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 3-2 decision over the Colorado Avalanche. Evgeni Malkin had a goal and an assist, tying Jaromir Jagr for the third-most assists (640) in franchise history. Teammate Dominik Kahun collected three assists.
Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Petr Mrazek kicked out 32 shots to shut out the Arizona Coyotes 3-0. Warren Foegele, Lucas Wallmark, and Martin Necas were the goal scorers. Hurricanes goalie Antti Raanta left the game with a lower-body injury and didn’t return. He recently returned from a lower-body injury suffered on Jan. 4 against Philadelphia.
Dylan Larkin tallied the only goal in the shootout as the Detroit Red Wings edged the Ottawa Senators 3-2. Winger forward Tyler Bertuzzi scored and collected an assist, as did Senators forward Colin White. The Sens are winless in their last six games (0-4-2).
TSN: Arizona Coyotes winger Taylor Hall avoided supplemental discipline for his knee-on-knee hit on Tampa Bay Lightning winger Ondrej Palat on Thursday. Palat is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
SPORTSNET: San Jose Sharks winger Tomas Hertl and Vegas Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty will replace Logan Couture and Jakub Silfverberg at the 2020 NHL All-Star Game in St. Louis. Couture recently fractured an ankle while Silfverberg is anticipating the birth of his first child during the All-Star break.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher is consulting a physician after experiencing headaches following Thursday’s 4-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers. He recently returned after missing four games with a concussion. Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot will miss tonight’s game against the Senators with a lower-body injury.
TORONTO SUN: Friday’s AHL game between the Toronto Marlies and Texas Stars was forfeited to the Stars after Marlies assistant coach Rob Davison experienced a medical emergency in the dressing room before game time. Davison was immediately transported to a local hospital and was evaluated while remaining under medical supervision. The episode left the Marlies’ players in such a state of shock that they couldn’t participate in the game. The Marlies are the primary farm club of the Maple Leafs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping Davison will be all right and make a swift recovery. No word yet as to what the medical emergency was.
SPORTSNET: Speaking of the Maple Leafs, they re-signed defenseman Martin Marincin to a one-year contract extension worth $700K.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chris Johnston first reported Marincin’s re-signing on Twitter. The reactions of some Leafs followers in Johnston’s Twitter thread were, shall we say, less than enthusiastic.
CBS SPORTS: The Anaheim Ducks sent forward Troy Tery to their AHL affliliate in San Diego for a conditioning stint.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The good folks at Cap Friendly did a fine job replacing the seminal CapGeek.com after that site’s founder, the late Matthew Wuest, was forced to suspend operations in early 2015 due to health reasons. Since then, they’ve been my go-to site for all things related to the NHL’s salary cap, providing invaluable insight on individual player contract details, team salary-cap information, and much more.
The effect of Andrei Vasilevskiy’s new contract upon the Lightning’s cap space, plus the latest on Mitch Marner and Kevin Shattenkirk in today’s NHL rumor mill.
VASILEVSKIY’S CONTRACT COULD FORCE LIGHTNING TO SHED SALARY NEXT SUMMER
TAMPA BAY TIMES/THE ATHLETIC: John Romano and Joe Smith examined the effect Andrei Vasilevskiy’s new eight-year. $76-million contract will have upon the Tampa Bay Lightning’s salary-cap payroll for 2020-21. Vasilevskiy, Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman, and Ryan McDonagh have annual average values between $6.75 million and $9.5 million. Restricted free agent Brayden Point could receive a minimum of $8 million, leaving the Bolts with six players taking up nearly 60 percent of their salary cap.
Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois acknowledged he’ll have tough decisions to make next summer. Last month, he shipped forward J.T. Miller to Vancouver in a cost-cutting deal.
Romano speculates that could mean parting ways with someone like Alex Killorn, Ondrej Palat or Tyler Johnson. Smith, however, observes their respective no-trade clauses, and that of forward Yanni Gourde could make it challenging to move one of them for cap flexibility.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Cap Friendly, the Lightning have over $67.3 million invested in 13 players for 2020-21. Assuming Point is re-signed to a new deal paying him $8 million annually, they’ll be sitting at over $75 million committed to 14 players. Should the cap rise to $84 million next season, that won’t leave enough to re-sign RFAs like Mikhail Sergachev, Erik Cernak, Mathieu Joseph, and Anthony Cirelli and still provide room to fill out the rest of the roster.
Johnson frequently surfaced in trade speculation over the past two years and could become their prime trade candidate. He has a full no-trade clause, which will significantly hamper efforts to move him. Killorn, Palat, and Gourde would also attract interest if available but, like Johnson, their NTCs could handcuff BriseBois’ efforts to shed salary.
AGENTS WAITING FOR MARNER TO SET RFA MARKET
THE SCORE: Sean O’Leary cites The Athletic’s Joe Smith reporting a source saying player agents of high-profile RFAs are waiting for Mitch Marner to set the market for their clients. Marner is among several young stars coming off entry-level contracts. Others include Tampa Bay’s Brayden Point, Colorado’s Mikko Rantanen, Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine, Vancouver’s Brock Boeser, and Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Whatever Marner gets doesn’t mean the others will be getting the same. It’s believed he could receive around $10.5 million annually. Whatever he does receive, however, could raise the ceiling for the rest.
It’s assumed Point could get around $8 million, in part because he plays where there’s no state tax. The decline in Laine’s production last season could keep him in the $8 million per season range. Rantanen and Tkachuk are expected to receive around $9 million while Boeser could come in around $7.5 million.
COULD SHATTENKIRK BE A FIT WITH THE OILERS?
EDMONTON JOURNAL: If the New York Rangers buy out defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk within their current second buyout period, David Staples wonders if he’d be a worthwhile fit with the Oilers. He examined the strengths and weaknesses in Shattenkirk’s game, suggesting he might be worth it on a short-term deal within the range of $1.5 million annually. That being said, he feels it would be a longshot for the Oilers to sign him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’ll find out very soon, probably by tomorrow at the latest, if the Rangers intend to buy out Shattenkirk. If they do, he’ll attract interest in a free-agent market that’s been picked almost clean of decent veteran talent. But as Staples observes, Shattenkirk’s preference for playing in the Boston-New York area could make him reluctant to sign with a Western team.