NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 19, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 19, 2022

The Avalanche crush the Lightning to take a 2-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final, Nicklas Backstrom undergoes hip surgery, the Oilers are on the verge of re-signing head coach Jay Woodcroft, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: The Colorado Avalanche holds a 2-0 series lead in the 2022 Stanley Cup Final after drubbing the Tampa Bay Lightning 7-0 in Game 2 on Saturday. Valeri Nichushkin and Cale Makar each scored two goals, Mikko Rantanen collected three assists while Darcy Kuemper made 16 saves for the shutout. The series shifts to Tampa Bay for Games 3 and 4 starting on Monday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That was one of the most lopsided Stanley Cup Final games I’ve seen. The Avalanche dominated the defending champion Lightning from the opening whistle to the final buzzer. Their speed made the difference throughout this contest, leaving the Bolts chasing the game and struggling to keep up.

Colorado Avalanche winger Valeri Nichushkin (NHL Images).

Three years after being bought out by the Dallas Stars, Nichushkin had a career-best performance this season and is enjoying a solid postseason. In this series, he’s taken his game to a higher level, tallying two points in each of the first two games. Eligible for unrestricted free agency on July 13, Nichushkin is on his way to a lucrative new contract.

Following the game, Lightning captain Steven Stamkos called his club’s performance “unacceptable”. Head coach Jon Cooper said the Avalanche were playing at an elite level while his club was not. Andrei Vasilevskiy was in net for all seven goals-against but Stamkos and Cooper laid the blame on the poor defensive play in front of him.

Stamkos and Cooper said all the right things about the need for the Lightning “man up” and not give up. They’re capable of surmounting a 2-0 series deficit as the New York Rangers discovered in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Rallying back this time will be far more challenging for the Lightning. They’re up against the most formidable opponent they’ve faced over the course of their championship reign.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom underwent left hip resurfacing surgery on Friday. He faces a lengthy recovery process with no timetable for his return.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Backstrom will likely miss the opening weeks of the 2022-23 season and could be sidelined for much longer. His absence leaves a big hole in the second-line center position.

Cap Friendly indicates the Capitals have $8.9 million in salary cap space with Backstrom carrying an annual average value of $9.2 million. Management could place him on long-term injury reserve to exceed the $82.5 million salary cap in order to find a suitable short-term replacement or to address other roster needs. Should he return to action during the season, however, they’ll have to shed salary to become cap compliant.

DAILY FACEOFF: cites ESPN’s Kevin Weekes and Bob Stauffer of Oilers Now reporting the Edmonton Oilers are on the verge of removing the interim tag from head coach Jay Woodcroft’s job title. They’re expected to reach an agreement on a three-year contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Color me unsurprised. Woodcroft did a fine job after replacing Dave Tippett behind the bench. Taking over a struggling Oilers’ team that was in danger of falling out of playoff contention, he coached them to a 26-9-3 record in their remaining 38 games and guided them to the Western Conference Finals.

NBC SPORTS: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Jack Johnson has earned his degree in general studies at the University of Michigan. He’s fulfilled a promise to himself and Red Berenson, who coached Johnson at Michigan.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s been a special season for Johnson. In addition to earning his degree and appearing in his first Stanley Cup Final, he also became the 21st American-born defenseman to play in 1,000 career NHL games.

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks have dismissed Chris Brumwell, who was their vice-president of communications and community partnerships for the past nine seasons.

PHILADELPHIA HOCKEY NOW: Flyers senior director of communications Zack Hill is retiring on July 1 after 29 years with the organization.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 12, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 12, 2022

The Lightning defeats the Rangers to advance to the Stanley Cup Final, the latest on the Flyers and Golden Knights’ search for new head coaches and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: For the third straight year, the Tampa Bay Lightning are heading to the Stanley Cup Final. Steven Stamkos scored twice and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 20 saves as the Bolts defeated the New York Rangers 2-1 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals to take the series 4 games to 2. Frank Vatrano replied for the Rangers while Igor Shesterkin made 29 stops.

Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (NHL Images).

The Lightning will face off against the Colorado Avalanche in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday, June 15, in Denver.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Experience, a commitment to defensive play and their best players stepping up were keys to the Lightning winning back-to-back Stanley Cups. Those factors also enabled them to overcome a 2-0 series deficit against the Rangers.

The Bolts didn’t get rattled after dropping the first two games in New York. They effectively neutralized the Rangers’ top offensive players as the series went on, holding the Blueshirts scoreless in the final two games and limiting them to one goal in each of the final three games and just one five-on-five goal in the final four.

Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman and Ondrej Palat rose to the occasion over the final four games. Shesterkin was outstanding for the Rangers, but Vasilevskiy won the goaltending duel.

The Lightning will also get a boost to their roster for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. Center Brayden Point is expected to be ready to rejoin the lineup after being sidelined by a lower-body injury since Game 7 of their first-round series with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

THE DENVER POST: Speaking of the Avalanche, Mike Chambers agrees with Wayne Gretzky’s opinion of Cale Makar as the best defenseman since Bobby Orr. “The closest player we’ve ever seen offensively and defensively that can make an impact on the game that much – probably Bobby Orr,” Gretzky recently said on TNT. He considered Makar to be the Avalanche’s best player on the ice during the Western Conference Finals.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Makar has been an impact player since his arrival with the Avalanche in the 2019 playoffs. He’s the favorite to win the Norris Trophy this season and should be a perennial candidate for that award for at least the next 10 years.

Makar is a big reason why the Avs reached this year’s Stanley Cup Final and have a legitimate shot at dethroning the Lightning. He has to be considered among the leading candidates for the Conn Smythe Trophy.

DAILY FACEOFF: Sources tell Frank Seravalli that the Philadelphia Flyers have narrowed down their list of head coaching candidates. Former bench bosses Barry Trotz and John Tortorella are believed to be among the finalists.

YARDBARKER: cited Seravalli reported the Vegas Golden Knights have zeroed in on Bruce Cassidy in their search for a new head coach. Cassidy was recently relieved of his duties as coach of the Boston Bruins.

THE SCORE: cited NJ.com’s Ryan Novozinsky reporting New Jersey Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald met recently with winger Jesper Bratt and the two sides are trying to get a deal done this summer. The 23-year-old Bratt is coming off a career-high 73-point performance. He’s slated to become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights on July 13.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fitzgerald indicated his intent to pursue a long-term deal with Bratt during his end-of-season interview last month. The Devils GM could seek an eight-year deal while the winger’s camp could be looking for a raise of over $7 million annually.

TSN: The NHL Board of Governors is set to meet this Thursday in New York City.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 1, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 1, 2022

The three stars and the rookie of the month for April are announced, the Red Wings fire head coach Jeff Blashill, plus the latest on Carey Price, Ryan Ellis, Patrik Laine, Mathew Barzal and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (NHL Images).

  NHL.COM: Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith and St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko are the NHL’s three stars for April 2022. Florida Panthers goalie Spencer Knight was named the rookie of the month.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: The Red Wings yesterday fired head coach Jeff Blashill. They also announced assistant coach Doug Houda and goaltending coach Jeff Salajko were relieved of their duties.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blashill spent seven seasons as the Wings’ bench boss. He wasn’t to blame for the club’s struggles as management tore down and rebuilt the roster during those years. However, the Wings’ failure to meet heightened expectations this season led to his downfall.

Detroit Hockey Now’s Kevin Allen reports Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman could seek a head coach who will demand more from his players and develop the club’s young talent. He listed former NHL coaches like John Tortorella, Paul Maurice, Claude Julien, and Jim Montgomery among the possible candidates Yzerman could consider as Blashill’s replacement. It’ll be interesting to see if the Wings GM hires one of those veterans or opts for someone else.

SPORTSNET: Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price said he didn’t believe the current state of his surgically repaired knee would be sustainable to play an entire season. He indicated he’ll be seeking a second opinion regarding ongoing swelling of the knee after games and didn’t rule out a second procedure.

Price, 34, admitted he approached Friday’s season-closing game against the Florida Panthers as if it could be his last. Nevertheless, he remains determined to resume his playing career.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Price will have a longer offseason recovery period this time around compared to last year. Still, the uncertainty over his future could affect the Canadien’s offseason plans. I’ll have more in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Speaking of the Canadiens, general manager Kent Hughes said he’d like to sign interim head coach Martin St. Louis to a three-year contract. On Friday, St. Louis indicated he would be shedding the interim tag and returning next season behind the Canadiens’ bench.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens showed noticeable improvement once St. Louis took over in February. It bodes well for what he might be able to achieve with a better, healthier roster.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Sidelined Flyers defenseman Ryan Ellis dismissed recent speculation suggesting he was unhappy with the team. He also indicated he and the club have determined the root cause of the pelvic injury that limited him to just four games this season. Ellis indicated they now have a clear rehab plan in place and he’s hoping to be healthy for training camp in September.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ellis was expected to be the core piece of the Flyers’ defense corps and an important part of what management hoped would be a bounce-back season for the club. His absence played a big part in their downfall. Getting him back healthy for 2022-23 could help the Flyers get back on track.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: On the subject of Flyers defensemen, Keith Yandle played the final game of his NHL career on Saturday as confirmed by teammate Nick Seeler. The 35-year-old reigning NHL Ironman (989 consecutive games) didn’t speak to the media yesterday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yandle’s performance has been in decline over the past three seasons. In 1,109 games with the Flyers and the Arizona Coyotes, New York Rangers and Florida Panthers, he has 103 goals and 516 assists for 619 career regular-season points.

NHL.COM: Patrik Laine doesn’t see any issues that would prevent him from signing a new contract this summer with the Columbus Blue Jackets. The 24-year-old winger is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. He also thanked the club for their support as he coped with injuries and the death of his father in November.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Laine had 56 points in as many games to finish third among Jackets scorers. He’s completing a one-year, $7.5 million contract and could seek a lucrative long-term deal.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Speaking of the Blue Jackets, goaltender Elvis Merzlikins admitted he found it difficult at times this season to maintain his focus while dealing with the grief of the sudden death last summer of his close friend Matiss Kivlenieks. He said he and goalie coach Manny Legace relied on each other to cope with the emotional trauma. Kivlenieks died during a fireworks accident at Legace’s home last July 4.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Merzlikins admitted he was rattled at times earlier this season by the celebratory cannon fired at Blue Jackets home games and from fireworks displays during last New Year’s Eve celebrations. He managed to overcome those issues thanks in part to Legace’s support.

NEW YORK POST: Islanders center Mathew Barzal indicated his willingness to sign a contract extension. The 24-year-old has a year remaining on his current deal with an annual cap hit of $7 million. “This is where I want to be, this is where I want to win,” said Barzal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello would probably love to ink Barzal to a new deal this summer. His reputation as a tough negotiator, however, could make it a slow process. I’m not saying it won’t get done, but I wouldn’t be surprised if talks drag on through the summer.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets chairman Mark Chipman confirmed general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff will continue in his role into the offseason.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That douses the recent rumors floating around about Cheveldayoff’s future. He has a busy offseason coming up as he must find a new head coach, improve the Jets’ porous defense, and sign restricted free agent center Pierre-Luc Dubois to a new contract.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Kurtis MacDermid was fined $2,187.50 by the NHL department of player safety for kneeing Minnesota Wild winger Marcus Foligno on Friday. Avs forward Logan O’Connor was fined $1,812.50 for cross-checking Wild defenseman Dmitry Kulikov in the same game.

ARIZONA HOCKEY NOW: The Coyotes played their final game at Gila River Arena on Friday. After 19 seasons, they’ll be moving next season to Arizona State’s new hockey arena while awaiting word on a proposed new NHL arena in Tempe.

THE ATHLETIC: Malcolm Subban earned praise from his Buffalo Sabres teammates after singing the National Anthem during the club’s final game of the season on Friday night.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Subban sounded pretty good. Maybe there’s a future for him as a singer following his playing career.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 30, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 30, 2022

The regular season ends for all but two teams, the opening-round playoff matchups are set, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Carey Price made 37 saves for his first win of the season as his Montreal Canadiens thumped the Florida Panthers 10-2. Montreal rookie Cole Caufield scored his first career NHL hat trick. The Canadiens finish last in the overall standings and have the best odds heading into the 2022 NHL Draft Lottery in May. The Panthers clinched the Presidents’ Trophy with the best overall record and rested several of their best players from this contest.

Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (NHL Images).

Speaking of hat tricks, Steven Stamkos picked up the 10th of his career to lead the Tampa Bay Lightning over the New York Islanders 6-4. The Lightning finished the season with 110 points and third place in the Atlantic Division. Zdeno Chara scored for the Islanders in what could be his final NHL game.

Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander tallied two goals in a 5-2 victory over the Boston Bruins. The Leafs have secured second place in the Atlantic Division with 115 points. Craig Smith had two assists for the Bruins (107 points) as they finish with the first Eastern Conference wild-card berth.

The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-3. Marcus Pettersson had a three-point game while Evgeni Malkin and Brian Boyle each had a goal and an assist. The Penguins finish the season in third place in the Metropolitan Division with 103 points.

Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov scored his 47th goal of the season in a 4-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. Jordan Greenway tallied twice for the Wild, who finished second in the Central Division with 113 points and hold home-ice advantage in their upcoming first-round series with the St. Louis Blues. The Avalanche, meanwhile, finish atop the Western Conference with 119 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wild head coach Dean Evason was unhappy with Avalanche defenseman Kurtis MacDermid for a knee-on-knee hit that knocked Wild winger Marcus Foligno from the game. He also chided Avs forward Logan O’Connor for cross-checking Wild defenseman Dmitry Kulikov into the boards. MacDermid received a game misconduct.

The Blues, meanwhile, dropped a 7-4 decision to the Vegas Golden Knights. Jack Eichel scored twice for the Golden Knights, who were eliminated from playoff contention earlier in the week. Ryan O’Reilly scored two goals and added an assist as the Blues finish third in the Central Division with 109 points.

Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck made 32 saves to backstop his club over the Calgary Flames 3-1. Matthew Tkachuk scored his 41st goal of the season as the Flames finished in first place in the Pacific Division with 111 points.

The New York Rangers beat the Washington Capitals 3-2 on Dryden Hunt’s game-winning goal in the third period. Kaapo Kakko and Braden Schneider each had two assists for the Rangers, who finished in second place in the Metropolitan Division. The Capitals lost their final four games of the regular season but hold the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth with 100 points.

A shootout goal by Devin Shore gave the Edmonton Oilers a 3-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks. The Oilers finished in second place in the Pacific Division with 104 points and rested superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl from this contest. Conor Garland had a goal and an assist for the Canucks while teammate J.T. Miller scored to finish the season with a team-leading 99 points.

Dallas Stars sophomore winger Jason Robertson scored his 41st goal of the season as his club clinched the first Western Conference wild-card spot with 98 points in a 4-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks pressed emergency backup Thomas Hodges into action when goalies John Gibson and Anthony Stolarz both went down with injuries. Hodges, a 28-year-old insurance salesman by day, stopped two of the three shots he faced in the third period and received praises from his teammates and the Stars following the game.

The Nashville Predators finished the season in the final Western Conference wild-card spot with 97 points after blowing a 4-0 lead to fall 5-4 to the Arizona Coyotes. Shayne Gostisbehere scored twice and Harri Sateri got the win in relief of Coyotes starter Karel Vejmelka by stopping all 27 shots he faced in the game.

Buffalo Sabres center Casey Mittelstadt’s overtime goal lifted his club to a 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Following the game, the Sabres and their fans honored long-time play-by-play man Rick Jeanneret as he signed off for the final time as he retires after 51 seasons with the club.

Seattle Kraken goaltender Chris Driedger finished the season with a 24-save shutout to blank the San Jose Sharks 3-0. Yanni Gourde, Adam Larsson and Victor Rask were the goal scorers.

Detroit Red Wings goaltender Magnus Hellberg made 20 saves to win his first NHL game in five years by downing the New Jersey Devils 5-3. Michael Rasmussen had a goal and an assist for the Red Wings.

Ottawa Senators captain Brady Tkachuk scored his 30th goal of the season as his club doubled up the Philadelphia Flyers 4-2. Tkachuk’s teammate Josh Norris netted his 35th.

IN OTHER NEWS…

NHL.COM: The opening-round series of the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs are now set and will begin on Monday, May 2.

In the Eastern Conference, the Florida Panthers will face off against the Washington Capitals, the Toronto Maple Leafs will meet the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Carolina Hurricanes tangle with the Boston Bruins and the New York Rangers square off against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Western Conference sees the Colorado Avalanche face the Nashville Predators, the Minnesota Wild take on the St. Louis Blues, the Calgary Flames going up against the Dallas Stars and the Edmonton Oilers battling the Los Angeles Kings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Follow the link above for the dates, timings and broadcast networks for each series.

NHLPA: The NHL Players’ Association executive board has voted in favor of forming a search committee to lead the search for a new executive director to eventually replace Donald Fehr. The committee will provide a progress report to the executive board during its summer meeting in Toronto in July.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This comes in the wake of an independent investigation that cleared Fehr and his staff of fault over their handling of Kyle Beach’s allegations that he was sexually assaulted by the former video coach of the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010.

It’s uncertain at this point if those findings – and the questions and criticism that were subsequently raised – played a role in this decision by the board. There had been previous reports raising concerns over the 73-year-old Fehr’s succession plan before the next round of collective bargaining in 2026. The results of the Beach investigation may have hastened things.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 27, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 27, 2022

Auston Matthews tallies his 60th goal of the season, Steven Stamkos reached 100 points, the Hurricanes clinch the Metropolitan Division, the Predators and Kings secure playoff berths, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Auston Matthews scored twice to reach the 60-goal plateau as the Toronto Maple Leafs blanked the Detroit Red Wings 3-0. Matthews is the first player to score 60 goals in a season since Steven Stamkos in 2011-12. He’s also the first American-born player to reach that mark. John Tavares also scored and Jack Campbell made 20 saves for the shutout. Toronto defenseman Jake Muzzin returned to the lineup after missing six games with an undisclosed injury. With the win, the Leafs (113 points) secure second place in the Atlantic Division and home-ice advantage for the opening round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

Speaking of Stamkos, the Tampa Bay Lightning captain reached the 100-point plateau for the first time in his career in a 4-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Stamkos scored twice and collected two assists while Nikita Kucherov also had a four-point performance. The Lightning have won four straight games and sit in third place in the Atlantic with 108 points. Before the game, the Blue Jackets confirmed Boone Jenner and Sean Kuraly will be sidelined for the remainder of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the season ended today, the Leafs and Lightning would face each other in the first round. We’ll find out for sure by week’s end.

The Carolina Hurricanes (114 points) clinched first place in the Metropolitan Division by holding off the New York Rangers 4-3. Sebastian Aho scored to reach his 400th career point, Vincent Trocheck and Brady Skjei each collected two points and rookie goalie Pyotr Kochetkov got the win with a 31-save performance. Rangers winger Chris Kreider tallied his 52nd goal of the season. His teammate, Andrew Copp, returned to action from a lower-body injury but left the game in the second period. So did winger Artemi Panarin but it appears both were held out of this contest for precautionary reasons. The Rangers sit second in the Metro with 108 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes were hopeful that sidelined starting goalie Frederik Andersen would be ready to return to action for the opening game of the playoffs next week. ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski reports the current expectation is he’ll miss the Hurricanes’ first few games of the first round.

An overtime goal by Elias Lindholm gave the Calgary Flames a 5-4 win over the Nashville Predators, but the latter still secured a playoff spot in the Western Conference with 95 points. Matthew Tkachuk scored in the final second of regulation to tie the game and set the stage for Lindholm’s winner. Both players have 41 goals on the season. Filip Forsberg scored twice for the Predators to reach 42 goals while teammates Matt Duchene and Mikael Granlund each had three points. The Flames (110 points) recently clinched first place in the Pacific Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Predators goaltender Juuse Saros left the game in the third period with what appeared to be an injured left leg. An update on his condition could come on Wednesday.

The Dallas Stars moved closer to clinching the final playoff berth in the Western Conference after downing the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2 on a shootout goal by Miro Heiskanen. Jason Robertson scored twice to reach 40 goals on the season while Jake Oettinger kicked out 33 shots. The Stars hold the final wild-card spot with 95 points. With 91 points, the Golden Knights’ playoff hopes now hang by a thread while the Stars’ victory means the idle Los Angeles Kings have clinched a postseason berth with 96 points. They will face the Edmonton Oilers in the first round.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights still have a slim chance if they win their final two games and the Stars lose their last two in regulation, thus ensuring they’d take the wild-card berth on the basis of regulation wins. The Stars, however, need just one to qualify for the postseason.

Speaking of the Oilers, they secured second place in the Pacific Division with 100 points by dropping the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-1. Oilers captain Connor McDavid had a goal and three assists to reach a career-high 122, widening his lead in the scoring race by seven points over the Florida Panthers’ Jonathan Huberdeau. Mike Smith kicked out 33 shots for his 10th straight win.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Penguins winger Jason Zucker left the game in the first period with an undisclosed ailment. The Penguins (101 points) have already secured a playoff berth but hold a one-point lead over the Washington Capitals for third place in the Metropolitan Division.

As for the Capitals, they failed to overtake the Penguins after falling 4-1 to the New York Islanders. Ilya Sorokin made 32 stops for the Islanders. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin missed this game as he’s listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

The Colorado Avalanche gained ground on the Florida Panthers for first place in the overall standings with a 5-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues, snapping the latter’s 16-game points streak. Darcy Kuemper made 29 saves for the win while Valeri Nichushkin had a goal and an assist as the Avalanche (118 points) moved within two points of the Panthers. Blues center Ryan O’Reilly scored twice and collected an assist. The Blues remain in third place in the Central Division with 109 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews returned to the lineup after sitting out the last four games dealing with undisclosed minor injuries. Sidelined teammates Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen are both expected to return in time for the playoffs next week.

Meanwhile, the Panthers dropped a 4-2 decision to the Boston Bruins. Brad Marchand, Tayler Hall and David Pastrnak each collected two points as the Bruins (105 points) sit three points behind the Lightning for third place in the Atlantic Division. The Panthers sit first overall with 120 points.

The Minnesota Wild remains tied with the Blues with 109 points following a 5-3 loss to the Arizona Coyotes. Karel Vejmelka got the win with a 35-save performance while Shayne Gostisbehere collected three assists. Kirill Kaprizov had two assists for Minnesota, who holds second place in the Central over the Blues with a game in hand. Wild forward Marcus Foligno returned to the lineup after missing the past four games due to a bout of COVID-19.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild and Blues will face each other in the opening round of the playoffs. The outcome of their final games will decide which one gets home-ice advantage in their upcoming series.

Quinn Hughes set a single-season record for Vancouver Canucks defensemen by reaching 66 with a goal and two assists in a 5-2 victory over the Seattle Kraken. The Canucks were officially eliminated from playoff contention by the Stars’ win over the Golden Knights. Vancouver goalie Thatcher Demko missed this game as he’s listed as day-to-day with an unspecified injury.

Ottawa Senators forward Drake Batherson scored twice, including the winner in overtime, to down the New Jersey Devils 5-4. Tim Stutzle had two goals and two assists and Brady Tkachuk picked up three helpers for the Senators. Nolan Foote tallied twice for the Devils.

The Anaheim Ducks beat the San Jose Sharks 5-2. Max Comtois and Sonny Milano each had a goal and an assist for the Ducks.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price is traveling with his teammates to New York, where he has a medical appointment concerning his surgically repaired knee. He’s listed as day-to-day.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s sparked speculation in Montreal over whether Price will play in the Canadiens’ final game of the season on Friday against the Panthers as well as concerns about whether he can continue his playing career. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports Price still plans on being in net for Friday’s game and he wants to play next season. Nevertheless, we can expect questions about Price’s future to carry over into the offseason.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 26, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 26, 2022

The Blackhawks down the Flyers, the three stars of the week and the Masterton Trophy nominees are revealed, Golden Knights goalie Robin Lehner to undergo season-ending surgery, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Jonathan Toews had a goal and an assist and Alex DeBrincat matched his career-high with his 41st goal of the season as the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Philadelphia Flyers in the only game on the NHL schedule last night.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Earlier in the day, the Blackhawks announced center Kirby Dach is expected to miss their remaining games of this season due to a shoulder injury.

Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (NHL Images).

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala and Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick are the three stars for the week ending April 24.

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price, Vegas Golden Knights center Jack Eichel and Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf are among the 32 nominees for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. It is awarded annually to the player who best exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.

Other noteworthy nominees include Dallas Stars forward Tyler Seguin, Florida Panthers winger Anthony Duclair, New Jersey Devils center Nico Hischier, New York Islanders defenseman Zdeno Chara, New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider, St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko, San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns, and Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom.

The full list can be seen at this link. Three finalists will be chosen with the winner announced between Games 3 and 4 of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to all the nominees. Each of them are worthy candidates for the Masterton Trophy.

The eight Eastern Conference clubs that qualified for the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs made history. It’s the first time eight teams in the same conference each reached 100 points in a single season.

DAILY FACEOFF: The Vegas Golden Knights announced goaltender Robin Lehner will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery. Frank Seravalli first reported on Lehner’s injury and his requirement for surgery over two months ago. The Golden Knights denied Seravalli’s report, as they did with a recent report by ESPN.com’s Emily Kaplan claiming the 30-year-old Lehner would require a surgical procedure.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights’ handling of this situation was very puzzling. It was apparent Lehner was struggling over the past two months and had missed some games likely because of his injury. They did themselves no favors with their public denials. It’ll be interesting to see if there will be any fallout from this story in the coming months.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury. He was hurt during Sunday’s loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs when he crashed awkwardly into the boards following a failed scoring attempt.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: By the sound of things, Ovechkin is expected to return to action in time for the start of the playoffs next week.

THE ATHLETIC: Sara Civian cited sources reporting sidelined Carolina Hurricanes goalies Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta are expected to return in time for the playoffs starting next week. Andersen is out day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Raanta left the club’s previous game but that was due to a cramping issue. He’s expected to suit up as the backup for Tuesday’s game against the New York Rangers.

NEW YORK POST: Speaking of the Rangers, sidelined forwards Andrew Copp, Filip Chytil and Kaapo Kakko are considered game-day decisions for tonight’s match with the Hurricanes.

CBS SPORTS: Buffalo Sabres winger Kyle Okposo is being evaluated for a leg injury suffered during practice on Monday.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The NHL department of player safety levied a one-game suspension on Panthers forward Ryan Lomberg for instigating a fight with Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak on Sunday. Panthers coach Andrew Brunette received a $10,000.00 fine for a game misconduct in the aftermath of the Lomberg-Cernak scuffle.

TSN: Los Angeles Kings forward Arthur Kaliyev was fined over $2,245 for cross-checking Anaheim Ducks defenseman Josh Mahura on Saturday.

Sidelined Ottawa Senators forwards Shane Pinto, Connor Brown and Colin White are expected to remain out of the lineup for the remainder of the season.

TORONTO SUN: 2022 Hobey Baker Award winner Dryden McKay signed a two-year AHL contract with the Maple Leafs’ farm team, the Marlies.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: The Red Wings have signed top prospect Simon Edvinsson to a three-year entry-level contract.