NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 21, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 21, 2020

The Norris Trophy & Selke Trophy finalists are revealed, the latest COVID-19 testing results, plus the latest on Max Domi, Charlie McAvoy, Ilya Samsonov, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


NHL.COM: John Carlson of the Washington Capitals, Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Roman Josi of the Nashville Predators are this year’s finalists for the James Norris Memorial Trophy, awarded to the NHL’s top defenseman as voted by the Professional Hockey Writers Association.

Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson is a finalist for the Norris Trophy (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hedman is a former Norris winner (2018) and was a finalist last season. This is the first time as finalists for Carlson and Josi. Carlson led all defensemen in scoring, with Josi second and Hedman third.

Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron, Philadelphia Flyers center Sean Couturier, and St. Louis Blues center Ryan O’Reilly are the finalists for the Frank J. Selke Trophy, awarded annually to the league’s top defensive forward as voted by the PHWA.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergeron could win the Selke for a record-setting fifth time. O’Reilly won the award last season while Couturier was a finalist in 2017-18.


The NHL yesterday released the results of their COVID-19 testing from last week, indicating two players tested positive for the coronavirus. Both players are self-isolating and following CDC and Health Canada guidelines. The league administered 2,618 tests to over 800 players from July 13-17.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a notable improvement over the previous numbers released by the league. At that rate, the league’s chances of staging its playoff tournament in Edmonton and Toronto look very good.

This week, however, will be the crucial period, as the players have been around each other more since Phase 3 of the return-to-play plan began on July 13.


MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens forward Max Domi rejoined his teammates yesterday after taking a week to evaluate the risks to his health associated with COVID-19. He’s a type-1 diabetic and also suffers from celiac disease.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Domi will need some time to get up to speed with his teammates. Nevertheless, his return to the lineup should provide a boost to their forward lines entering their best-of-five qualifying-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Charlie McAvoy and Chris Wagner were missing from Bruins practice yesterday, joining wingers David Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase on the sidelines.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy couldn’t elaborate as to why McAvoy and Wagner weren’t at practice due to league protocols. However, he seemed to hint at the reason behind their absence, noting that COVID-19 tests results are sometimes delayed or inconclusive. Pastrnak is out for precautionary reasons linked to possible secondary exposure to a person with the coronavirus. As per league rules, the Bruins say Kase remains unfit to participate. 

CBS SPORTS: Washington Capitals goaltender Ilya Samsonov is the sole member of the roster not to participate in Phase 3 training.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Because of league protocols, we don’t know if Samsonov has tested positive for COVID-19 or is nursing an injury.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Patric Hornqvist was among nine players returning to the ice yesterday after being held out of practice as a precaution for potential secondary exposure to COVID-19. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby missed practice again yesterday after leaving the ice on Saturday.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers winger Brendan Lemieux received a two-game suspension for a hit to the head of Colorado Avalanche forward Joonas Donskoi on March 11. He will serve that suspension during the opening two games of his club’s qualifying-round series against the Carolina Hurricanes.


SPORTSNET: released its broadcast schedule for the qualifying round and round-robin series commencing Aug. 1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Former Sportsnet analyst John Shannon reported hearing the NHL plans to put its World feed on a five-second delay to monitor the players’ language. Expect to hear plenty of bleeps given how salty their on-ice language tends to be and how clearly it will be heard without fan noise to drown it out.

Former NHL winger Alex Kovalev was named head coach of KHL team Kunlun Red Star.

Former NHL defenseman Jack McIlhargey passed away from cancer on Sunday at age 68. McIlhargey spent nine seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers, Vancouver Canucks, and Hartford Whalers from 1974-75 to 1981-82, tallying 47 points and collecting 1,102 PIMs in 393 games. Following his playing career, he served within the Canucks system from 1984 until 2007 as a minor-league head coach and as a scout.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to McIlhargey’s family, friends, and former teammates and associates.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 18, 2019

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 18, 2019

Avalanche push Flames to the brink of elimination, Bruins and Stars tie their respective series, Selke Trophy finalists revealed, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: The Colorado Avalanche pushed the Calgary Flames to the brink of elimination with a 3-2 overtime victory in Game 4 of their opening-round series. Mikko Rantanen scored the tying and winning goals for the Avalanche, who hold a commanding 3-1 series lead. Game 5 goes Friday in Calgary. 

Mikko Rantanen’s two goals lifted the Colorado Avalanche to a 3-2 overtime victory over the Calgary Flames in Game 4 of their opening-round series (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames took a 2-0 lead into their third but sloppy defensive play killed them. You can’t pin this loss on goaltender Mike Smith, who faced over 50 shots (52) for the second straight game. Smith faced the onslaught well but his teammates let him down.

The Flames leading scorers – Johnny Gaudreau (one point), Sean Monahan (two points) and Matthew Tkachuk (three points) – have been disappointing thus far. If they don’t start finding the back of the net soon, the Flames will be golfing after Friday. 

David Pastrnak scored twice and Brad Marchand had a three-point night as the Boston Bruins held off the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-4 to square their opening-round series at two games apiece. Auston Matthews scored twice for the Leafs, who made it interesting in the third period with two goals to narrow the score to 5-4 before Joakim Nordstrom’s empty netter in the dying seconds. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy shook up his forward lines a bit in this one, shifting Pastrnak down to the second line for a while with David Krejci and moving Danton Heinen to the top line. The Bruins also put on a master class of how to play smart defensive hockey when an opponent pulls their goalie for an extra attacker late in the game. They didn’t panic by icing the puck or make “Hail Mary” attempts to score an empty netter, but smartly chipped the puck along the boards and into the neutral zone or skated it past center whenever they could and dumped it into the Leafs zone. 

A four-goal first period powered the Dallas Stars to a 5-1 victory over the Nashville Predators to tie their series at two games apiece. Stars goalie Ben Bishop kicked out 34 shots, Roope Hintz tallied his first two playoff goals of his career and John Klingberg collected three assists. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a strong bounce-back effort by Bishop, who struggled a bit in Game 3 by giving up a couple of soft goals. He was outstanding in this contest. Credit also the Stars’ offensive pressure as they chased Predators starter Pekka Rinne after he gave up four goals on eight shots.

Bruins center Patrice Bergeron, St. Louis Blues center Ryan O’Reilly, and Vegas Golden Knights right wing Mark Stone are the finalists for the Frank J. Selke Trophy, which honors the NHL’s top defensive forward. 

 SPECTOR’S NOTE: Can’t say I disagree with those choices. I’m happy to see Stone finally getting recognition for his two-way play. 

O’Reilly is also among the 31 nominees for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy, awarded to the player “who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community.” Other nominees include Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel, Edmonton Oilers winger Leon Draisaitl, Montreal Canadiens center Max Domi and New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.

SPORTSNET: The Florida Panthers declined captain Aleksander Barkov’s invitation to play for Finland at the upcoming IIHF World Championships citing a need for Barkov to recover from the effects of a long NHL season. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Odd to see a team decline a player’s invitation to participate in the Worlds. Barkov played for Finland in previous tournaments. It’s understandable if he needs to recuperate from injuries that he played through this season but usually it’s the player who declines the invite. 

NBC SPORTS: The Washington Capitals will shake up their forward lines for Game 4 of their series tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes. “T.J. Oshie moves up to the top line to play with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom while Tom Wilson drops to the second line to play with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Jakub Vrana.”

The San Jose Sharks are sticking with struggling starting goalie Martin Jones in Game 5 tonight against the Vegas Golden Knights. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, Sharks coach Pete DeBoer has no confidence in backup Aaron Dell. 

NEW YORK POST: Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello isn’t troubled by the league’s decision that his club will play the remainder of their playoff games at Barclays Center. He dismissed the notion that the change of venue from Nassau Coliseum will adversely affect his club’s performance. The Islanders are awaiting the winner of the Capitals-Hurricanes series. 

ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes forward Brad Richardson is the inaugural winner of the Shane Doan Good Guy Award, voted on and present by the Arizona chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. 

STARTRIBUNE.COM: The Minnesota Wild hired Chris O’Hearn as their new director of hockey operations. 

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 19, 2018

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 19, 2018

Sharks eliminate Ducks, Selke Trophy nominees revealed and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The San Jose Sharks are the second team to advance to the second round of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Martin Jones made 30 saves and Tomas Hertl scored the game winner as the Sharks edged the Anaheim Ducks 2-1 to sweep their best-of-seven opening-round series. The Sharks will face the Vegas Golden Knights in the second round.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sharks did a fine job neutralizing the Ducks offense, limiting them to just four goals in this series. That lack of production has already spurred some speculation suggesting Ducks general manager Bob Murray might shake up his roster core this summer. 

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby tallied a goal and an assist to pass Mario Lemieux as his club’s all-time playoff scorer as the Penguins blanked the Philadelphia Flyers 5-0 to take a 3-1 lead in their opening-round series. Pittsburgh goaltender Matt Murray made 26 saves to pick up his second shutout of the series. Phil Kessel and Evgeni Malkin also each had a goal and an assist. The Penguins can wrap up the series in Game 5 on Friday night in Pittsburgh.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Malkin got the game winner but Kessel’s goal was the backbreaker. Until that point, the Flyers had sustained pressure on the Penguins in hopes of tying the game. Once Kessel made it 2-0, the Flyers were finished. 

Nikita Kucherov’s three-point performance lead the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 3-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils in Game 4 of their opening-round series (Photo via NHL Images).

Nikita Kucherov scored twice and set up another to lead the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 3-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils, taking a 3-1 lead in their best-of-seven series. Kucherov also laid out Devils defenseman Sami Vatanen with a thunderous check, forcing Vatanen from the game with an upper-body injury. The Lightning can finish off the series in Game 5 on Saturday in Tampa Bay.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils didn’t do themselves any favors on the power play. While they successfully killed five penalties, they cashed in just once in six attempts with the man advantage. 

The Nashville Predators hung on for a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche to take a 3-1 lead in their series. The Preds took a 3-0 lead, thanks in part to another highlight-reel goal by Filip Forsberg, and held off a third-period surge by Colorado. Avs goaltender Jonathan Bernier left the game with a lower-body injury at the start of the third period and was replaced by Andrew Hammond. The Predators can clinch the series with a win on Friday in Nashville. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Give the Avalanche credit for their “never-say-die” attitude throughout this series. They’ve been a feisty opponent for the heavily favored Predators. 

Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron, Philadelphia Flyers center Sean Couturier and Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar are this year’s nominees for the Selke Trophy as the NHL’s top defensive forward. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Bergeron wins it’ll be his fifth Selke award, surpassing Hall-of-Famer Bob Gainey. 

The NHL department of player safety handed down a one-game suspension to Winnipeg Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey for cross-checking Minnesota Wild center Eric Staal. 

TORONTO STAR: Maple Leafs forward Leo Komarov (lower-body injury) will miss Game 4 tonight against the Boston Bruins. 

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers approached goaltender Henrik Lundqvist to give him the option of being moved by the trade deadline. “We told Hank that if he didn’t want to ride it out through this process, we’d find a good landing place for him,” said team president Jim Dolan. Lundqvist, however, said he wanted to stay and be part of the club’s rebuilding process. “I’m very happy that’s the way he feels. I think with him at the top of his game, that gives us our best chance of competing for a playoff spot next year,” said Dolan.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens forward Paul Byron underwent surgery on his right shoulder and could be sidelined up to six months. 


NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 20, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 20, 2017

Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf (center) celebrates his empty-net goal over the Calgary Flames in Game 4 of their opening round series.

Ducks eliminate Flames, Senators push Bruins to brink & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: John Gibson made 38 saves to backstop the Anaheim Ducks to a 3-1 win over the Calgary Flames, eliminating the latter from the opening round of the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs in four straight games. Patrick Eaves, Nate Thompson and Ryan Getzlaf scored for the Ducks, while Sean Monahan tallied the Flames’ only goal. The Ducks await the winner of the Edmonton Oilers-San Jose Sharks series. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ducks were simply too strong defensively for the Flames. Brian Elliott’s shaky goaltending was a key factor in the Flames’ demise. He’s likely played his final game for Calgary. 

Bobby Ryan scored the only goal and Craig Anderson had a 22-save shutout as the Ottawa Senators blanked the Boston Bruins 1-0, taking a 3-1 series lead and pushing the Bruins to the brink of elimination. Senators forward Tom Pyatt left the game with an upper-body injury in the first period and didn’t return. Bruins defenseman Colin Miller returned to action after missing Games 2 and 3 with an injury. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators are doing a fine job clogging up the neutral zone and stymieing the Bruin’s attack. While Ryan’s been a clutch scorer for the Sens, captain Erik Karlsson is the dominant player of this series so far. His playmaking is a big reason the Sens hold a 3-1 series lead.

Four first-period goals, including two by winger Tom Wilson, helped the Washington Capitals to a 5-4 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, tying their series at two games apiece returning to Washington for Game 5. T.J. Oshie also scored twice for the Caps, including the game winner in the third period. Leafs forwwards William Nylander and Mitch Marner each collected two assists.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The score flattered the Leafs, as the Capitals dominated most of the play in this game and never surrendered the lead.

Devan Dubnyk made 28 saves as the Minnesota Wild shut out the St. Louis Blues 2-0 to stave off elimination. Charlie Coyle and Martin Hanzal scored for the Wild. The Blues hold a 3-1 lead in the series as it head back to Minnesota for Game 5 on Saturday. 

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Sabres center Jack Eichel and his agent yesterday denied a report citing team insiders claiming he wouldn’t sign a contract extension if Dan Bylsma remained as head coach. Eichel is in the second season of a three-year entry-level deal. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The report added more spice to an offseason of intrigue for the Sabres. With the club missing the playoffs and failing to notable improve, speculation is swirling over Bylsma’s future. Eichel made headlines earlier this month by calling out some of his teammates for sub-par play. 

EDMONTON SUN: Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl was fined $2,569.44, the maximum allowable under the collective bargaining agreement, for spearing San Jose Sharks forward Chris Tierney in the crotch during the Sharks 7-0 win over the Oilers in Game 4. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Draisaitl had no previous history of suspensions or fines, hence the reason he got off lightly for jabbing Tierney in the junk. 

NHL.COM: Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron, Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler and Minnesota Wild center Mikko Koivu are the finalist for the 2017 Frank J. Selke trophy honoring the league’s top defensive forward. 

COLUMBUS DISPATCH: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the league has no plans to change the playoff format. 

TORONTO SUN: NHL Hall of Famer Lanny McDonald has been inducted in the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks could scratch veteran defenseman Johnny Oduya from Game 4 of their series against the Nashville Predators.