NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 11, 2023
The Golden Knights are one game away from winning the Stanley Cup, the league’s sponsorship revenue surges, plus the latest on the Blue Jackets and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
GOLDEN KNIGHTS DOWN PANTHERS TO TAKE 3-1 LEAD IN STANLEY CUP FINAL
NHL.COM: The Vegas Golden Knights held off the Florida Panthers for a 3-2 victory in Game 4 of the 2023 Stanley Cup Final to take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Chandler Stephenson scored twice and William Karlsson scored what proved to be the winning goal as Vegas jumped to a 3-0 lead midway through the second period. Florida battled back on goals by Brandon Montour and Aleksander Barkov.
The Panthers pulled goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky with Vegas defenseman Alex Pietrangelo in the penalty box for a six-on-four power-play with 17.4 seconds remaining in the third period. However, the Golden Knights held firm as netminder Adin Hill finished the game with 29 saves.
Game 5 will be in Las Vegas on Tuesday at 8 pm ET with the Golden Knights having the opportunity to win their first Stanley Cup title on home ice.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers faced a 3-1 deficit in their first-round series with the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Boston Bruins but battled back to upset the Bruins and win that series. However, this is a different team they’re facing in the Golden Knights and a different situation with the stakes being much higher.
For the first time in this series, the Golden Knights failed to score on the power play. It didn’t matter as they jumped to an early lead on Stephenson’s game-opening goal and tallied twice more in the second at even strength.
Florida caught a break as Montour’s goal pinballed in off Vegas defenders Brayden McNabb and Shea Theodore. Aleksander Barkov’s first of the series early in the third gave the Panthers life and made it interesting but they ultimately couldn’t crack the Golden Knights’ defense or Hill’s goaltending over the rest of the period.
The Panthers head into Game 5 with leading scorer Matthew Tkachuk hampered by an apparent shoulder injury suffered during Game 3. He struggled through the first two periods and skated just four shifts in the third, though he was on the ice for the final 2:26 of the frame. The Panthers star was noncommittal over whether he’ll play in Game 5.
With Tkachuk neutralized, other Panthers scorers must step up if they hope to overcome another 3-1 deficit. Barkov, Anthony Duclair and Carter Verhaeghe each have just one goal in this series while Sam Reinhart and Sam Bennett have yet to find the back of the net against Vegas.
The league is expected to take a close look at a brawl that broke out around the Vegas net at the end of the game. Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo had been serving a delay of game penalty when he exited the penalty box and joined the skirmish. It remains to be seen if he’ll face supplemental discipline.
IN OTHER NEWS…
AD AGE: The NHL’s sponsorship revenue has surged thanks to their digitally enhanced dasherboard ads, an expanded field of advertisers and jersey sponsor patches. It rose by 21 percent this season to $1.28 billion.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That likely won’t elevate the league’s projected $1 million increase in the salary cap for 2023-24. That’s because the players still owe $70 million in escrow debt to the team owners stemming from the COVID-shortened seasons of 2019-20 and 2020-21. That debt is expected to be paid in full before the end of next season.
It does bode well for significant increases in hockey-related revenue for 2024-25 and beyond. However, it’s also going to raise concerns among some fans that the league could further clutter up jerseys with more ad patches and ice space with more digital advertisements.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Former NHL goaltender Niklas Backstrom is rumored to become the next goaltending coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Speaking of the Blue Jackets, THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH’s Brian Hedger reports general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said he’s received multiple calls about his first-round pick (third overall) in the upcoming 2023 NHL Draft. However, he said it would take “an awful lot” to convince him to move it. So far, he’s received nothing even close that would tempt him to move that pick.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kekalainen could move that pick for the right offer but I wouldn’t hold my breath in anticipation. Given the depth in this year’s draft, they’re going to get a very good prospect with that pick that could blossom into an NHL star.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson said he’s not chasing additional goaltending depth this summer. He’s comfortable heading into next season with oft-injured veteran Petr Mrazek and rookie Arvid Soderblom as his goalie tandem.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Soderblom should expect a heavy workload in 2023-24. Mrazek last played at least 40 games in a season back in 2019-20, though he did appear in 39 games this season.
DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Hall-of-Fame goaltender Dominik Hasek is getting offers from the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto and the Buffalo Sabres for his memorabilia. He recently had to remove those items from the Czech Hockey Hall of Fame, which closed due to economic issues. Hasek’s best seasons were with the Sabres from 1992-93 to 2000-01.