NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 5, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 5, 2020

The Stars and Golden Knights will meet in the Western Conference Final. Check out the game recaps plus the recent notable news in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Dallas Stars advanced to the Western Conference Final by edging the Colorado Avalanche 5-4 in Game 7 of their second-round series. Stars winger Joel Kiviranta completed his first-ever NHL hat trick with the game-winner at 7:24 of overtime. Alexander Radulov scored twice for the Stars while defensemen Miro Heiskanen and Joel Klingberg each collected two assists and Anton Khudobin made 40 saves. Vladislav Namestnikov tallied twice for the Avalanche while Nathan MacKinnon was shut out for the first time in this series.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a very entertaining game that see-sawed back and forth between the two clubs. The story of the game, of course, was Kiviranta, a rookie with just one goal in 11 regular-season contests before his heroics as a replacement for the sidelined Andrew Cogliano in Game 7. Sometimes, the playoffs give us the unlikeliest of heroes.

The Stars will meet the Vegas Golden Knights in the Conference Final as the latter blanked the Vancouver Canucks 3-0 in Game 7 of their second-round series. The Golden Knights netted three unanswered third-period goals by Shea Theodore, Alex Tuch, and Paul Stastny, the latter two into an empty net as the Canucks went with an extra attacker in the dying minutes. Robin Lehner made 14 saves for the shutout while Vancouver netminder Thatcher Demko kicked out 33.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Through the first two periods it appeared Demko was going to steal this game as he did the previous two. Despite his best efforts, however, his teammates couldn’t muster any offense against a deep, talented Golden Knights club. Demko was dejected following the game but he had nothing to hang his head over. If not for his play, the Canucks wouldn’t have overcome a 3-1 series deficit.

The Golden Knights and Stars won’t have to wait long to face each other. Game 1 of the Western Conference Final begins at 8 pm ET on Sunday, Sept. 6.

NOTABLE HEADLINES

NOTE: We experienced some publishing problems from Wed, Sept. 2 to Fri, Sept. 4 that prevented us from publishing each day’s noteworthy headlines. Here’s a collection of the most interesting news during that period.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins winger David Pastrnak was hampered by a lower-body injury. It seemed to be related to his conditioning level following a month-long quarantine odyssey that prevented him from participating in Phase 3 training with his teammates.

TSN: Bruins captain Zdeno Chara indicated he’s committed to returning to the club next season. It would be the 23rd campaign of the 43-year-old blueliner’s NHL career.

SUN-SENTINEL: The Florida Panthers formally introduced Bill Zito as their new general manager.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins name former Washington Capitals head coach Todd Reirden as a new assistant coach. It’s his second stint as a Pens assistant coach.

NHL.COM: St. Louis Blues assistant coach Marc Savard is stepping down and returning to Ontario to be with his family.

THE ATHLETIC: The Columbus Blue Jackets won’t be renewing the expired contract of assistant coach Paul MacLean.

THE SCORE: The NHL is launching a series of initiatives to combat racism and foster inclusion and diversity training within the league.










NHL Playoffs: Expect Fireworks in Bruins-Lightning Series

NHL Playoffs: Expect Fireworks in Bruins-Lightning Series

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 19, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 19, 2020

The Golden Knights eliminate the Blackhawks, the Capitals stave off elimination by the Isles, the Flyers and Stars are on the verge of advancing,  and the hockey world mourns Dale Hawerchuk in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Alex Tuch’s third-period goal snapped a 3-3 tie as the Vegas Golden Knights edged the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 to win Game 5 and their opening-round series. The Golden Knights overcame 2-0 and 3-2 deficit. Max Pacioretty had a goal and an assist for Vegas, who face the Western Conference’s lowest-remaining seed in the next round.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A well-earned series victory by the Golden Knights over a plucky, but over-matched Blackhawks club. Vegas dominated the play through most of this series and probably would’ve swept it if not for Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford, who likely earned a new contract with the Hawks following his strong postseason play.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

The Washington Capitals avoided being swept by the New York Islanders as they rallied from a 2-0 deficit for a 3-2 win in Game 4 of their first-round series. Evgeny Kuznetsov sparked the comeback by cutting the deficit to 2-1, setting the stage for Alex Ovechkin’s game-tying and game-winning goals. Isles winger Cal Clutterbuck left the game in the second period following a low hit by Capitals defenseman Radko Gudas. An update on his condition is expected today.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Isles seemed to have this game in the bag after taking a 2-0 lead into the second period, but their energy sagged as the desperate Capitals fought back, dominating the Isles at even strength. It’ll be interesting to see if the Caps can maintain that energy in Game 5 on Thursday.

Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart become the second-youngest goaltender in NHL history to post back-to-back playoff shutouts as he and his teammates blanked the Montreal Canadiens 2-0 in Game 4 of their first-round series. Hart made 29 saves while Michael Raffl and Philippe Myers scored.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Follow this link for my take of Game 4. The Flyers lead the series 3-1 and can wrap things up tonight in Game 5.

The Dallas Stars took a 3-2 series lead over the Calgary Flames by hanging on for a 2-1 victory in Game 5. John Klingberg’s third-period goal held up as the winner while Anton Khudobin made 28 saves.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars have done a good job stifling the Flames’ top scorers. Johnny Gaudreau has just three points (two of those in one game) while Sean Monahan and Elias Lindholm have been limited to two assists each. The Flames also miss feisty sidelined winger Matthew Tkachuk.

HEADLINES

WINNIPEG SUN: Dale Hawerchuk passed away at age 57 from stomach cancer. The Hall-of-Famer spent 16 seasons with the Winnipeg Jets, Buffalo Sabres, St. Louis Blues, and Philadelphia Flyers, amassing 518 goals and 1,409 points in 1,188 games. It was with the Jets that he had his best seasons, with six 100-plus point seasons in nine years in Winnipeg, winning the Calder Memorial Trophy in 1981-82. He also played for Team Canada in their memorable 1987 Canada Cup series with the Soviet Union. Hawerchuk went on to coach the OHL’s Barrie Colts from 2010-11 until his illness forced him to step down in 2019.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Hawerchuk’s family and friends. He was overshadowed during his prime by Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux, but he was among the NHL’s top centers during the 1980s, as well as the Jets’ franchise player.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko has returned to St. Louis to have his surgically-repaired left shoulder reevaluated. He won’t return for the remainder of his club’s series against the Vancouver Canucks and could be sidelined even longer.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: There’s a chance Bruins winger David Pastrnak could suit up for today’s Game 5 against the Carolina Hurricanes. He’s been sidelined with an undisclosed injury since Game 1.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 17, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 17, 2020

Recaps of Sunday’s action plus the latest on Andrei Svechnikov, David Pastrnak, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (NHL Images).

  NHL.COM: The New York Islanders have the Washington Capitals on the brink of elimination following their 2-1 overtime victory in Game 3 of their best-of-seven first-round series. Mathew Barzal broke a 1-1 tie to give the Isles a commanding 3-0 series lead. Anders Lee opened the scoring for the Islanders while Evgeny Kuznetsov tied it in the second period.

 

 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals have been outplayed by the Islanders, especially five-on-five. They held Washington captain Alex Ovechkin to just one shot in this contest. The Isles also held the Caps to just five goals in this series and can complete the sweep on Tuesday.

Joe Pavelski’s hat trick set the stage for Alexander Radulov’s overtime goal as the Dallas Stars edged the Calgary Flames 5-4 to tie their series at two games apiece. Stars defenseman John Klingberg picked up three assists. Flames forward Sam Bennett scored twice while Calgary goalie Cam Talbot made 57 saves.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A vintage playoff performance by Pavelski, having the type of game the Stars expected when they signed him last summer. The Flames’ undisciplined play did in them in, taking seven penalties to the Stars’ four.

Corey Crawford made 48 saves as the Chicago Blackhawks staved off elimination with a 3-1 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights. Drake Caggiula, Matthew Highmore, and Alex DeBrincat scored for the Blackhawks. Vegas winger Max Pacioretty was fined $2,500.00 for slashing DeBrincat as he scored into the empty net.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crawford saved the Blackhawks’ bacon. Most of this game seemed to be played in the Chicago zone but he put in a stellar performance to steal this one and keep his team’s hopes alive.

Braydon Schenn scored in overtime as the St. Louis Blues nipped the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 in Game 3 of their first-round series. Jake Allen made 39 saves for the win while Ryan O’Reilly collected two assists. Jacob Markstrom kicked out 46 shots for the Canucks, who lead the series 2-1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A big win for the Blues to avoid falling behind 3-0. Allen was solid replacing a struggling Jordan Binnington. The Blues were also playing without Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen as they were declared unfit to play for this game. Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes is just the third rookie defenseman in NHL history to tally points in six straight playoff games.

The Philadelphia Flyers spoiled Montreal Canadiens’ goalie Carey Price’s 33 birthday with a 1-0 win to take a 2-1 lead in their opening-round series. Flyers goalie Carter Hart made 23 saves while Jakub Voracek scored the only goal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A good bounce-back performance by Hart and his teammates after getting blown out 5-0 in Game 2. This was a tight-checking, choppy game with Hart and Price once again the standouts.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Caroline Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said it’s highly doubtful Andrei Svechnikov returns to action during their opening-round series against the Boston Bruins. The winger suffered a leg injury during Game 3 on Saturday and will undergo an MRI today. Brind’Amour doesn’t rule out Svechnikov returning if the Canes reach the Eastern Conference Final or the Stanley Cup Final.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Svechnikov’s injury might not be playoff-ending for him, but his absence will be felt by the Hurricanes. He and linemate Sebastian Aho provided Carolina with a potent one-two scoring punch.

THE BOSTON GLOBE: Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy guessed there’s a 50-50 chance David Pastrnak suited up for Game 4 today against the Hurricanes. The winger’s been sidelined since suffering an apparent leg injury during Game 1.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 15, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 15, 2020

Recaps of Friday’s action, Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask opts out of return-to-play, the King Clancy Memorial Trophy finalists are announced, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat (Photo via NHL Images)

  NHL.COM: Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat opened and finished the scoring as he led his club to a 4-3 overtime victory over the St. Louis Blues, taking a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven opening-round series. Horvat’s game-winner came after the Blues’ Jaden Schwartz tied the game in the dying seconds of regulation. Canucks forwards Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser each had two points, as did the Blues’ Alex Pietrangelo and David Perron.

 

 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues outhit the Canucks 41-27 but struggled at times to keep up with their speedy young opponents. They’re also getting no production from sniper Vladimir Tarasenko. The Canucks have an opportunity to take a stranglehold on this series in Game 3 on Sunday.

Tomas Tatar and Jesperi Kotkaniemi each scored twice as the Montreal Canadiens thumped the Philadelphia Flyers 5-0 to square their first-round series at one game apiece. Carey Price kicked out 30 shots for his second shutout of the postseason. Flyers winger Travis Konecny left the game in the third period after injuring his left foot blocking a shot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Determined to win this game for sidelined coach Claude Julien, the Canadiens came out flying with a rare dominating performance. Flyers coach Alain Vigneault expressed his displeasure following the game over Habs interim coach Kirk Muller putting his top power-play unit on the ice late in the game. Muller said it was merely to give a little more work to his club’s erratic play with the man advantage.

Vigneault indicated he’d try to use that as motivation for his players in Game 3. If that’s his intended rallying point, the Flyers could be in worse shape than we thought. They’re a better team than what we’ve seen thus far in this series, but most of their scoring forwards have fired blanks thus far in this postseason. If those players don’t start scoring soon, the Flyers could be in big trouble against the underdog Habs.

Calgary Flames goaltender Cam Talbot made 35 saves to shut out the Dallas Stars 2-0 in Game 3 of their series, putting his club up two games to one. Mikael Backlund and T.J. Brodie were the goalscorers for the Flames, who hope to have sidelined winger Matthew Tkachuk back in their lineup for Game 3 on Sunday. Earlier in the day, the Flames announced forward Austin Czarnik has returned home to attend to a personal matter.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Talbot stole this one for the Flames, as the Stars dominated the play for most of this contest. They were also their own worst enemies, missing several quality scoring chances.

Three unanswered goals by Brock Nelson, Cal Clutterbuck, and Anders Lee powered the New York Islanders over the Washington Capitals 5-2, giving the Isles a 2-0 series lead. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin tallied both goals for his club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders were the better-disciplined team in this contest, as the Capitals were sloppy defensively and took too many unnecessary penalties. Without a better effort in Game 3, the Caps could fall into a hole too deep to climb out of against the determined Isles.

The Colorado Avalanche took a 2-0 series lead over the Arizona Coyotes with a 3-2 victory. Andre Burakovsky snapped a 2-2 tie with 2:53 remaining in regulation.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a disappointing defeat for the Coyotes, who had a strong bounce-back effort after being dominated by the Avs in Game 1. Game 3 now becomes a must-win for the Desert Dogs.

HEADLINES

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask has opted out of participating further in the return-to-play plan. In a statement released by the team, Rask indicated he’s making the decision for family reasons. “I want to be with my teammates competing, but at this moment there are things more important than hockey in my life, and that is being with my family.”  Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said Rask’s priorities are in the right order, noting the goalie had a newborn baby daughter born just months ahead of the return-to-play in Toronto. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Losing their starting goaltender is a significant blow for the Bruins in the midst of their opening-round series with the Carolina Hurricanes. Backup Jaroslav Halak will take over the starter’s role, and NBC Sports suggests Daniel Vladar will be Halak’s understudy.

Some will rush to criticize Rask’s actions, but we don’t know the full story other than it’s for family reasons. He may have found being isolated from his family for weeks simply too difficult to bear. The Bruins and the league are respecting his decision. We should too. 

Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba, New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, and New Jersey Devils blueliner P.K. Subban are the finalists for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy, presented annually to the player “who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community.”

THE BOSTON GLOBE: Bruins winger David Pastrnak didn’t practice yesterday and remains uncertain for Game 3 today against the Carolina Hurricanes. The 48-goal scorer was unfit to play in Game 2 following an apparent left injury in the previous game.

TSN: The Florida Panthers plan to interview former Los Angeles Kings assistant GM Mike Futa as they search for a replacement for former general manager Dale Tallon.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs have let go of assistant coaches Paul McFarland and Andrew Brewer.

WGR550: The Buffalo Sabres are reportedly hiring Seth Appert as head coach of their AHL affiliate in Rochester.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Kings have suspended the mascot actor who performs as team mascot Bailey. He is being investigated for alleged sexual misconduct.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 14, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 14, 2020

Recaps of Thursday’s playoff games, Canadiens coach Claude Julien hospitalized, Dan Hamhuis retires, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

Vegas Golden Knights winger Reilly Smith (NHL Images).

  NHL.COM: The Vegas Golden Knights edged the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 on Reilly Smith’s overtime goal in Game 2 of their first-round series, which Vegas now leads 2-0. It was goalie Robin Lehner’s seventh straight win in as many starts with the Golden Knights, who were without winger Max Pacioretty (unfit to play) in Game 2. His replacement, Tomas Nosek, left the game in the second period. Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane collected three assists.

 

    Dougie Hamilton’s third-period goal lifted the Carolina Hurricanes to a 3-2 win over the Boston Bruins in Game 2 of their series, tying it at a game apiece. Hurricanes winger Andrei Svechnikov had a goal and an assist. Brad Marchand and David Krejci each had a goal and an assist for the Bruins, who were without winger David Pastrnak following an apparent leg injury suffered in Game 1.  

 

 

Boston goalie Tuukka Rask, meanwhile, raised eyebrows with his post-game comments comparing the atmosphere in this playoff bubble to playing exhibition games. “To be honest with you, it really doesn’t feel like playoff hockey out there,” said Rask. “There are no fans, so it’s kind of like playing an exhibition game.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rask probably isn’t the only player feeling that way, which could account in part for why some teams and notable players seem to struggle to regain their intensity in the early going. Those who adjust more quickly could have an advantage through the opening round.

Joonas Korpisalo made 36 savers backstopping the Columbus Blue Jackets over the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 in Game 2 of their first-round series, which now stands knotted at a game apiece. Oliver Bjorkstrand snapped a 1-1 tie in the second period, Alexander Wennberg put the game away with his third-period tally and Pierre-Luc Dubois picked up two assists. Nikita Kucherov scored for the Lightning.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s the same story with the Blue Jackets. They get outshot by a big margin (37-22 in this game) but weather the storm and break your heart with their timely offense.

The Dallas Stars tied their series with the Calgary Flames at a game apiece as Jamie Oleksiak’s goal with 40 seconds remaining in regulation gave them a 5-4 victory. Stars blueliner Miro Heiskanen scored twice while teammates Alexander Radulov and Corey Perry each had a goal and an assist. Ben Bishop returned to the Stars net after being unfit to play in Game 1 while Taylor Fedun filled in for the sidelined Stephen Johns. Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk left the game following a third-period collision with Oleksiak and Jamie Benn.

HEADLINES

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens head coach Claude Julien was rushed to hospital after suffering chest pains following his club’s 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 1 of their first-round series. His condition isn’t related to COVID-19. Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said Julien won’t return for the remainder of the series. Assistant coaches Kirk Muller, Dominque Ducharme, and Luke Richardson will share the coaching duties in Julien’s absence.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergevin indicated he’d received some good news about Julien’s condition yesterday afternoon but didn’t elaborate. Here’s hoping the Habs bench boss makes a quick and full recovery.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom is in concussion protocol and won’t take part in Game 2 against the New York Islanders later today. Backstrom was injured following a late hit by Islanders’ captain Anders Lee. Lars Eller will replace Backstrom after returning to the club following the birth of his son.

AZCENTRAL.COM: The Arizona Coyotes hope to have center Nick Schmaltz in the lineup for Game 2 against the Colorado Avalanche later today. He’s been absent since being injured during an exhibition game two weeks ago.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The low-scoring Coyotes could use Schmaltz’s offense against the Avs. He was their leading scorer during the regular season.

THE SCORE: Defenseman Dan Hamhuis announced his retirement after 16 NHL seasons with the Nashville Predators, Vancouver Canucks, and Dallas Stars. He played in 1,184 games, netting 356 points. Hamhuis played in two games of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final until a groin injury sidelined him for the rest of the series. He won a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2014 Winter Olympics.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Hamhuis in his future endeavors. He was among the league’s best defensive blueliners during his playing prime.