NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 23, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 23, 2021

The Canadiens take a 3-2 series lead over the Golden Knights, Lou Lamoriello is the GM of the Year, Mathew Barzal fined, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines

NHL.COM: The Montreal Canadiens are one win away from advancing to the 2021 Stanley Cup Final after beating the Vegas Golden Knights 4-1 in Game 5 of their semifinal series. Nick Suzuki had a goal and two assists, Tyler Toffoli collected two helpers and Carey Price turned aside 26 shots for the win. Max Pacioretty tallied Vegas’ only goal. The Canadiens lead the series three games to two and can put it away Thursday in Game 6 on home ice.

Montreal Canadiens center Nick Suzuki (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some fans on social media took to blaming Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury for this loss. They also questioned head coach Peter DeBoer going with Fleury after Robin Lehner played well in Game 4. The problem, however, doesn’t lie with Fleury but with their offense.

Once again, the Canadiens did a fine job shutting down Vegas’ leading scorers. Pacioretty is the only member of the Golden Knights’ top-six forwards to score a goal against the Habs, while team captain Mark Stone is facing some criticism in the local media for failing to step up in this series.

The Golden Knights may be down but they proved in Game 4 they can battle back. However, they no longer have any margin of error. The Canadiens are playing like a team that believes it can win. Price’s goaltending and their defensive play have made the difference so far. If the Golden Knights don’t figure out a way to beat the Habs’ system on Thursday, they’ll be heading to the golf course by this weekend.

For the second straight year, New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello is the winner of the Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year Award.

NEWSDAY: Islanders center Mathew Barzal received a $5,000 fine by the NHL department of player safety for his cross-check of Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Jan Rutta in Game 5 of their semifinal series.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning may have routed the Islanders in Game 5 to take a 3-2 series lead but they aren’t taking their opponent for granted heading into Game 6 tonight on Long Island.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Isles caught a big break when Barzal didn’t receive a suspension for that cross-check on Rutta. It would’ve been a blow to their chances of winning Game 6 to lose their top center.

VANCOUVER SUN: Henrik and Daniel Sedin are returning to the Canucks, this time as special advisors to general manager Jim Benning.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We’ll have to wait and see if the Sedins will have significant input into management decisions or if this is just window-dressing.

SPORTSNET: Referee Wes McCauley is not expected to work any remaining games in the semifinal. His last assignment was as a standby referee in Game 1 of the Lightning-Islanders series. He’s not believed to be injured and there is a possibility he’ll work a Stanley Cup Final game. Considered the consensus “best referee in the NHL,” his absence comes as the league faces growing criticism over the quality of officiating in this postseason, particularly in several semifinal games.

STLTODAY.COM: The St. Louis medical examiner determined that Blues alumni Bob Plager died of a cardiac event prior to his SUV crashed in March. Plager spent 11 seasons with the Blues as a player and spent years with the organization following his playing career. He was 78 years old.

WGR 550: Former Buffalo Sabres star Rene Robert passed away yesterday after suffering a heart attack last week in Florida. He was 72 years old.

Robert spent 12 seasons with the Sabres, Toronto Maple Leafs, Pittsburgh Penguins and Colorado Rockies from 1970-71 to 1981-82. His best seasons were with the Sabres (’71-’72 to ’78-’79) with Gilbert Perreault and Richard Martin on the fabled French Connection Line. He tallied 284 goals and 702 points in 744 career games, as well as 41 points in 50 playoff contests.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Robert’s family, friends, former teammates and the Sabres organization.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 27, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 27, 2021

Recaps of Friday’s action features more scoring from Alex Ovechkin, a milestone game for Phil Kessel, the Blues remember beloved alumni Bob Plager, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Alex Ovechkin scored two goals and Ilya Samsonov made 24 saves as the Washington Capitals blanked the New Jersey Devils 4-0. With 48 points, the Capitals are tied with the New York Islanders and hold first place in the MassMutual East Division with a game in hand.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With 17 goals, Ovechkin is just four behind Toronto’s Auston Matthews, who leads the goal-scoring race with 21. The Capitals captain now has 723 career goals, sitting eight behind Hall-of-Famer Marcel Dionne for fifth on the all-time list.

Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel scored in his 1,100th career game in a 5-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks. Christian Dvorak scored twice for the Coyotes (35 points), who sit two points back of the fourth-place St. Louis Blues in the Honda West Division. Kessel and Dvorak lead the Coyotes with 11 goals each.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes became the subject of trade speculation over the past couple of weeks. There’s talk general manager Bill Armstrong could become a seller by the trade deadline but he could have other plans as his club surges back into playoff contention.

Speaking of the Blues, they dropped a 4-1 decision to the Anaheim Ducks. Anaheim goaltender John Gibson returned from a five-game absence with a lower-body injury by making 33 saves as his club snapped a three-game losing skid. Ducks defenseman Jamie Drysdale left the game in the first period with an upper-body injury. Before the game, the Blues honored the memory of beloved alumni Bob Plager, who died earlier this week in a car accident that investigators believe was the result of Plager suffering a cardiac event.

A third-period goal by Paul Stastny enabled the Winnipeg Jets to held off the Calgary Flames 3-2. Stastny, Blake Wheeler and Kyle Connor each had a goal and an assist. The Jets move into a tie with the Toronto Maple Leafs with 44 points but the Leafs hold first place in the Scotia North Divisions because they have a game in hand. The Flames (33 points) remain four behind the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Looks like the Flames need more than bringing back Darryl Sutter as head coach to reverse their fortunes. They’ve dropped four straight after winning four of their first five games after Sutter took over behind the bench. General manager Brad Treliving could turn to the trade market in search of a season-saving deal.

SPORTSNET: The Canadian government has officially approved reducing the 14-day quarantine period for players acquired by Canadian teams from American clubs to seven days. The decision has the support of the five Canadian provinces with NHL teams.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This makes it easier for Canadian teams to make trades with American clubs before the April 12 trade deadline. It’s the same quarantine period as players must undergo when traded between American clubs.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer could be in line for a significant raise following this season. He leads the league in goals-against average (1.69) and shutouts (five) and among the leaders in save percentage (.931) and wins (20).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Grubauer could become a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, which will ensure he gets a big raise from the Avalanche or another club via this summer’s free-agent market. Cap Friendly indicates his current annual average value is $3.33 million. The Post’s Mike Chambers suggests Grubauer could double his money.

ESPN.COM: Buffalo Sabres interim head coach Don Granato and assistant coach Mike Ellis can return behind the bench after being cleared from the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol. The pair were placed on the list just hours before the Sabres game on Thursday against Pittsburgh.

NHL.COM: Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Samuel Morin was fined $3, 017.24 by the league’s department of player safety for unsportsmanlike conduct against New York Rangers forward Brendan Lemieux.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 25, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 25, 2021

Recaps of Wednesday’s games, referee Tim Peel will no longer work NHL games, the Lightning and Ducks makes a trade, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Sidney Crosby and Zach Aston-Reese each had a goal and an assist as the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Buffalo Sabres 5-2. Penguins winger Kasperi Kapanen left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury. A further evaluation of his condition is expected today. With 42 points, the Penguins sit two points behind the second-place Washington Capitals in the MassMutual East Division. The Sabres have dropped a league-record 15 straight games in the shootout era. It’s also a franchise record for the beleaguered club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: At this point, I almost wish there was a mercy rule so the Sabres could just end their schedule today and start the rebuild process. It’s just so painful watching this club flounder through the remainder of a lost season.

Winnipeg Jets forward Andrew Copp (NHL Images).

Winnipeg Jets forward Andrew Copp scored a career-high four goals to lead his club to a 5-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks. Bo Horvat returned to the Canucks lineup after leaving the previous game between the two clubs with a lower-body injury. The Jets (42 points) move into a three-way tie with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers with the Leafs holding first place in the Scotia North Division with a game in hand over the Jets and two on the Oilers. Meanwhile, the Canucks (35 points) remain two points back of the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens, who hold six games in hand.

The Ottawa Senators staged their second straight upset of the Calgary Flames with a 3-1 victory on second-period goals by Josh Norris, Chris Tierney and Nikita Zaitsev. Filip Gustavsson made 28 saves for his second straight win. The Flames have dropped three straight and remain two points behind the Canucks. Earlier in the day, the Senators announced winger Austin Watson (hand injury) will be sidelined for four-to-six weeks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: While the sidelined Canadiens hold games in hand, victories aren’t assured for them in what becomes a more compact, difficult schedule. The Canucks and Flames had golden opportunities to overtake the Habs in the standings. These recent losses could prove costly to their playoff hopes.

Jared Spurgeon scored twice and Ryan Suter collected his 600th career point as the Minnesota Wild edged the Anaheim Ducks 3-2, handing the latter their 10th straight loss on home ice. With 41 points, the Wild sit two back of the second-place Colorado Avalanche in the Honda West Division. Wild winger Zach Parise missed the game due to COVID-19 protocols. 

The San Jose Sharks got two goals from Evander Kane and a 42-save performance by Martin Jones to double up the Los Angeles Kings 4-2. Sharks captain Logan Couture left the game in the final minutes of the third period following a late hit by Kings forward Jeff Carter.

HEADLINES

The NHL yesterday announced referee Tim Peel will no longer be working games after he was got on a hot mic stating his desire to call a penalty against the Nashville Predators during Tuesday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Peel wasn’t fired but simply relieved of his duties until his intended retirement following what was slated to be his final game on April 24. The incident has raised concerns from Predators players and from pundits over how games are managed by on-ice officials. Some observers believe this could be an opportunity for the league to address this issue but there’s no guarantee we’ll see significant change. The league could simply dismiss this incident as a one-off and move on.

TAMPA BAY TIMES/THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Tampa Bay Lightning traded forward Alexander Volkov to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for forward prospect Antoine Morand and a seventh-round pick in the 2023 draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois explained this move as a way of providing some short-term salary-cap flexibility and insurance against dressing only five defensemen in the event some of their blueliners suffer multiple short-term injuries. Volkov saw his ice time decline over the course of this season. Ducks GM Bob Murray believes he’ll benefit from a fresh start in Anaheim as the Ducks add more youthful talent.

NBC SPORTS: Bob McKenzie reports contract talks have started between the Minnesota Wild and Kirill Kaprizov’s representatives. The 23-year-old winger is a restricted free agent this summer. McKenzie suggests they could be working toward a mid-range deal of five or six years or possibly longer. A bridge contract might not work here because it’ll take Kaprizov up to his UFA eligibility age.

SPORTSNET: Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen remains day-to-day with a lower-body injury. There is no definitive timeline for his return.

STLTODAY.COM: Former Blues defenseman Bob Plager was killed yesterday in a traffic accident in St. Louis. He was 78. An original member of the Blues renowned for his hip checks, Plager spent 11 of his 14 seasons in St. Louis and three seasons before that with the New York Rangers, finishing his career with 146 points in 644 NHL games. He and his brothers Barclay and Bill skated for the Blues from 1967 to 1972. Plager was one of the most popular players in franchise history and among the most popular of their alumni.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Former NHL linesman Swede Knox passed away on Monday from lung cancer at the age of 73. Knox worked 2,248 NHL games from 1972 to 2000, including five Stanley Cup Finals and one NHL All-Star Game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to the Plager and Knox families, as well as their friends and former teammates and colleagues.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 30, 2017



NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 30, 2017

Metropolitan Division wins the 2017 All-Star Game 3-on-3 tournament.

Metropolitan Division wins All-Star Game final, Simmonds named MVP & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.com: Two goals five seconds apart by Cam Atkinson and Wayne Simmonds gave the Metropolitan Division a 4-3 victory over the Pacific Division in the All-Star Game final, winning the $1 million prize.

The game’s turning point came when Metropolitan coach Wayne Gretzky successfully challenged a Ryan Kesler goal that would’ve given the Pacific a 4-2 lead when review showed Connor McDavid was offside. Simmonds was named the most valuable player. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I though the final game of this tournament was more competitive and entertaining than the semifinals. Heck, at one point late in the game, Washington’s Alex Ovechkin blocked a shot, something rarely seen in an All-Star game. Obviously the competitive juices kick in when a million bucks in on the line. Ovechkin, in my opinion, was the most entertaining player, as he was clearly enjoying himself throughout this tournament. Simmonds and Atkinson, who replaced sidelined Pittsburgh Penguins star Evgeni Malkin, were the offensive standouts. 

NBC SPORTS: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman reiterated his criticism of the International Olympic Committee, saying the league owes it to its fans to ensure Olympic participation doesn’t adversely affect the NHL product. “Subjecting the game to players who might get injured more often, or are more tired because they’ve got more back-to-backs, so they’re playing five games in seven nights — that’s what you get when you disrupt the schedule.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With all due respect, Mr. Commissioner, I call bullshit. You and the team owners have no problem with Olympic participation when its held in North America. The concerns only seem to arise whenever the Olympics are staged elsewhere. And if previous reports are to be believed, the league wants to participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing as a means of establishing a footprint in China. But because the 2018 Winter Olympics are being staged in a much smaller market (South Korea), the league doesn’t seem to believe it’s worthwhile participating in those games. 

If the NHL is to grow its product, it must do so outside the tapped-out North America market. That means taking part in the Winter Olympics, regardless of where they’re staged. The players are obviously keen to take part so there’s no issue with them.

Ultimately, this comes down to money for the league. If the IOC was willing to give the NHL a bigger cut of the revenue generated by the league’s top players taking part in the Olympics, this would probably be a different story. 

MONTREAL GAZETTE:  Hockey Hall of Fame goaltender Ken Dryden believes the NHL should do more to protect its goalies. 

STLTODAY: The St. Louis Blue will retire former defenseman Bob Plager’s No. 5 in a ceremony prior to their Feb. 2 game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. 

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Long-time LA Kings broadcaster Bob Miller suffered a mild stroke during the All-Star weekend. He is reportedly under the care of specialized physicians and is in good spirits. 

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: The Blackhawks placed defenseman Michal Rozsival on injured reserve. 

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes have recalled goalie Eddie Lack from his conditioning stint in the minors. 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 29, 2016



NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 29, 2016

Carolina Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner scores one of his two goals against the New York Rangers.

Carolina Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner scores one of his two goals against the New York Rangers.

Game recaps, plus the latest waiver and injury updates and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: Cam Talbot made 26 saves backstopping the Edmonton Oilers to a 2-0 blanking of the Vancouver Canucks, pushing their record to 7-1-0.

Jeff Skinner scored twice and set up another to power the Carolina Hurricanes to a 3-2 win over the New York Rangers. Earlier in the day, it was reported Rangers defenseman Dylan McIlrath cleared waivers. 

Sam Gagner and Brandon Saad each scored twice as the Columbus Blue Jackets blanked the Anaheim Ducks 4-0. 

Winnipeg Jets goalie Michael Hutchinson turned aside 37 shots in a 1-0 shutout of the Colorado Avalanche. Earlier in the day, the Jets placed center Bryan Little (leg injury) on injured reserve and called up forward Marko Dano. 

Artem Anisimov’s overtime goal lifted the Chicago Blackhawks to a 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils.

Dougie Hamilton scored twice to lead the Calgary Flames to a 5-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators, who lost goalie Andrew Hammond to a lower-body injury after the first period. 

CSNNE.com: Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak received a two-game suspension for an illegal hit on New York Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi. 

TAMPA BAY TIMES:  Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury. 

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild placed forward Teemu Pulkkinen on waivers. 

NHL correspondent Sami Hoffren reports free agent forward Tuomo Ruutu signed a one-year deal with HC Davos in Switzerland. 

THE BUFFALO NEWS:  Buffalo-area linesman Tim Nowak will work his 1,500th NHL game on Saturday when the Buffalo Sabres face the Florida Panthers. 

STLTODAY.COM:  The St. Louis Blues will retire former defenseman Bob Plager’s No. 5. He played 11 of his 13 NHL seasons with the Blues, helping them reach the Stanley Cup Final three times from 1968 to 1970.