NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 2, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 2, 2020

The Canucks and Flyers stave off playoff elimination, plus the latest on Sean Couturier, Mathew Barzal, Zdeno Chara, Sidney Crosby, Vladimir Tarasenko, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Rookie goaltender Thatcher Demko made 42 saves as the Vancouver Canucks avoided playoff elimination by edging the Vegas Golden Knights 2-1 in Game 5 of their second-round series. Brock Boeser and Elias Pettersson scored as the Canucks overcome a 1-0 deficit. Shea Theodore tallied for the Golden Knights, who lead the series 3-2. Game 6 goes Thursday.

Vancouver Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Filling in for banged-up starter Jacob Markstrom, Demko was outstanding in his first game since March. Markstrom is listed as day-to-day with a groin injury and could be questionable for Game 6. Demko’s solid performance in Game 5 could ease the concerns of Canucks fans.

Scott Laughton scored in overtime as the Philadelphia Flyers stayed alive in their series with the New York Islanders in a 4-3 win in Game 5. The Islanders overcame a 3-1 deficit to force the extra frame. Flyers captain Claude Giroux and winger James van Riemsdyk each netted their first goals of the postseason.

It was a costly game for both clubs, as Flyers center Sean Couturier left the game with a possible leg injury while Isles center Mathew Barzal was accidentally clipped in the face by Giroux’s stick. An update on their conditions could be revealed today.

TSN: Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara hasn’t made a decision yet over whether he’ll return for a 23rd NHL season. He’s an unrestricted free agent this fall. The Bruins were eliminated from the playoffs on Monday.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby underwent arthroscopic wrist surgery on Monday. Recovery time is three-to-four weeks.

STLTODAY.COM: A Russian sportswriter can expect the cold shoulder from several Russian NHL players following disparaging comments he made toward Yana Tarasenko, wife of St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko.

Yana took to Instagram denying a claim by Alexei Shevchenko that her husband’s ongoing shoulder injury had the winger close to retirement. Shevchenko replied the only purpose of her husband and other players is to entertain the public, calling her “useless.”

Taranseko’s agent, Dan Milstein, said the remark outraged his Russian clients and their families. Milstein also represents Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov and goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy. Tarasenko, meanwhile, issued a statement indicating he has no plans to retire.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lashing out at a player’s wife or belittling her husband’s profession was uncalled for. “I stand by my story” would’ve sufficed. If your source was wrong, apologize and move on.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning are still awaiting word when they’ll travel from Toronto to Edmonton for the Eastern Conference Final. The Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Finals will be held in Edmonton. The Lightning eliminated the Bruins from the second round on Monday.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NEWS: cites Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and TSN’s Frank Seravalli reporting Bill Zito could become the new general manager of the Florida Panthers. Zito is currently the assistant GM of the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Panthers could make an announcement as early as today.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Kings re-signed forwards Austin Wagner and Carl Grundstrom to contract extensions. Wagner got a three-year deal worth an annual average value of $1.33 million, while Grundstrom’s is for two years at $725K annually.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres named Matt Ellis their director of player development.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Speaking of the Sabres, John Vogl reports their Hall of Fame has been largely inactive since its chairman, Bob Swados, passed away in 2012. Restarting the Hall has been on the back burner for years. It was raised several times to team executives, but Vogl indicated it always failed to gain traction.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: When the front office won’t even put in the time to honor a club’s history, that’s a pretty good indicator of a poorly-run franchise.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 27, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 27, 2020

The Lightning crushed the Bruins, the Flyers edge the Islanders in overtime, and the Avalanche get a big win over the Stars. Meanwhile, the NHL faces criticism over its response to protests over the Jacob Blake shooting. The latest in today’s morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning thumped the Boston Bruins 7-1 to take a 2-1 lead in their second-round series. Nikita Kucherov scored a goal and set up three others while Alex Killorn tallied twice and added an assist. The Bolts chased Bruins goalie Jaroslav Halak from the game after he gave up four goals on 16 shots. His replacement, rookie Dan Vladar, didn’t fare any better, allowing three goals on 15 shots.

Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This game was over in the second period as the Lightning scored four goals to take a 6-1 lead by period’s end. The Bruins were undisciplined and the Bolts made them pay with three power-play goals. 

Philippe Myers scored in overtime as the Philadelphia Flyers edged the New York Islanders 4-3 to tie their series at a game apiece. Kevin Hayes scored twice for the Flyers, who blew a 3-0 lead as the Isles battled back to tie the game after replacing goalie Semyon Varlamov with backup Thomas Greiss.

 

 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers’ top forwards played significant roles in this game, with Hayes scoring twice, Sean Couturier potting his first of the playoffs and assisting on Myers’ game-winner, while Claude Giroux and Travis Konecny each collected an assist. Nevertheless, the Flyers also learned a three-goal lead isn’t safe against the determined Islanders.

The Colorado Avalanche scored three unanswered third-period goals to defeat the Dallas Stars 6-4 in Game 3 of their second-round series. The Stars lead the series two games to one and were on the verge of taking a 3-0 series lead after rallying from a 3-1 deficit to take a 4-3 lead before the Avs’ staged their comeback. Nazem Kadri netted the winning goal, Cale Makar collected three assists, and Nathan MacKinnon added two helpers. Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin tallied for the Stars.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was an entertaining contest that see-sawed back and forth before the Avs rallied for the win. It wasn’t a shining moment for the goalies, as Colorado’s Pavel Francouz and Dallas’ Anton Khudobin looked shaky in this match.

HEADLINES

SPORTSNET: The NHL opted not to postpone Wednesday’s games in the wake of the NBA’s decision to delay its games after players from several of its teams boycotted games in protest over the recent police shooting of Jacob Blake, an unarmed black man in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The NHL instead staged a moment of reflection before the Tampa/Boston and Colorado/Dallas games.

The NHL’s decision prompted criticism from Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba and San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane, who are among the members of the Hockey Diversity Alliance fighting racial injustice. Dumba called the move “disheartening” while Kane felt it was disappointing. Both men felt the NHL should do more to acknowledge the situation. 

CBC SPORTS: Hockey analyst Kelly Hrudey shared those sentiments, saying he felt the NHL should’ve postponed those games to show support for their NBA peers and the Black Lives Matter movement. He felt the league was missing out on important discussions about racial injustice.

ESPN.COM: Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning players said they learned about the NBA players boycott just before their game and didn’t have sufficient time to discuss the matter.

Bruins captain Zdeno Chara voiced his support for his peers in other sports who sat out yesterday’s games. Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said he would’ve supported his players had they opted not to play. Tyler Seguin and Jason Dickinson of the Dallas Stars and Nazem Kadri of the Colorado Avalanche also voiced support, adding boycotting games isn’t the only way to back the cause.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see what transpires for today’s NHL games between the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Islanders and the Vegas Golden Knights and Vancouver Canucks. The league could be forced to postpone those games if players from those teams opt not to participate in support of their NBA peers.

THE SCORE: Sharks captain Logan Couture issued an apology after a tweet he made regarding American politics went viral. Couture claimed he was sucker-punched in Toronto after talking about voting for the Republican Party and mentioning US President Donald Trump. He added he didn’t explicitly say he’d vote for Trump but would vote Republican if he was an American citizen. Couture subsequently deleted those tweets after facing considerable criticism. The Sharks issued a statement condemning the use of violence toward Couture.

Vegas Golden Knights winger Jonathan Marchessault issued an apology for lashing out at several fans on Instagram who criticized his play during his club’s 5-2 loss to Vancouver. 

STLTODAY.COM: St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko will undergo a third surgery on his left shoulder and will be sidelined for five months. Meanwhile, Blues general manager Doug Armstrong indicated one-fifth of his squad tested positive for COVID-19 at some point before they departed for Edmonton on July 19. None of those players were asymptomatic, but their fitness levels were affected because they couldn’t train while under quarantine.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Arizona Coyotes will forfeit its second-round pick in 2020 and its first-round pick in 2021 as punishment for violating the NHL’s combine scouting policy. The league prohibits teams from testing prospects’ fitness before its’ annual draft combine.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Claude Julien expects to return behind the Canadiens bench whenever next season begins. The Habs coach had to leave his club during their first-round series against Philadelphia after experiencing chest pains. He had a stent implanted in one of his arteries and is expected to make a full recovery.

NHL.COM: Defenseman Mike Green announced his retirement after 15 seasons with the Washington Capitals, Detroit Red Wings, and Edmonton Oilers. He netted 501 points in 880 career NHL games, as well as 37 points in 76 playoff contests.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Green’s best years were with the Capitals, including back-to-back 70-plus point campaigns in 2008-09 and 2009-10. He was a First Team All-Star and a finalist for the Norris Trophy in both those seasons. Injuries, however, would hamper his performance over the remainder of his career. Best wishes to Green and his family in their future endeavors.










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 – July 17, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – July 17, 2020

Lady Byng and Masterton Trophy finalists are announced,  Edmonton’s Rogers Place suffers some water damage, plus the latest on David Pastrnak, Vladimir Tarasenko, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

2020 NHL AWARDS UPDATE

NHL.COM: Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, and St. Louis Blues center Ryan O’Reilly are this year’s finalists for the Lady Byng Trophy, awarded annually to the player who bests combines sportsmanship, gentlemanly conduct, and ability.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews is a finalist for the 2020 Lady Byng Memorial Trophy (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This award typically goes to the most notable superstar with the lowest penalty minutes. MacKinnon had 12 PIMs this season, O’Reilly 10 and Matthews eight. However, this year’s selections stirred up some controversy.

Matthews got himself into trouble last year when he and a group of friends were accused of harassing a female security guard in Arizona. Meanwhile, some pundits were puzzled why Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin (10 PIMs) was passed over as a finalist. It was also pointed out only three defensemen (Bill Quackenbush, Red Kelly, and Brian Campbell) have won the Lady Byng.

Dallas Stars defenseman Stephen Johns, Philadelphia Flyers winger Oskar Lindblom, and Ottawa Senators winger Bobby Ryan are this year’s finalists for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, awarded annually to the player who best exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johns returned to action after being sidelined nearly two years by post-traumatic headaches that at times left him confined to darkened rooms battling depression and suicidal thoughts.

Lindblom’s rookie season was derailed by Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. He recently completed cancer treatments, including chemotherapy.

Ryan took a leave of absence last November to receive treatment for alcohol abuse. He returned to action on Feb. 25 and scored a hat trick two days later.

LATEST RETURN-TO-PLAY NEWS

TSN: A storm in Edmonton caused some water damage to Rogers Place just two weeks before it becomes a host city for the Western Conference teams in the upcoming playoff tournament. Oilers Entertainment Group issued a statement expressing confidence the incident won’t hamper its hosting efforts. Most of the damage was reportedly limited to the Ford Hall terminus.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Time to break out the Shop-Vacs! Seriously, though, it doesn’t appear the arena, training facilities, or dressing rooms suffered any damage.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins wingers David Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase were declared unfit to participate in practice yesterday. Both had emerged from travel quarantine earlier in the week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Do they have COVID-19 symptoms? Did they suffer injuries preparing to return to play? No one knows because the league won’t allow teams to reveal a sidelined player’s status due to “medical privacy”. 

CALGARY SUN: Flames general manager Brad Treliving shot down speculation suggesting winger Johnny Gaudreau’s skating with a smaller group of players was some sort of punishment over his conditioning. “Johnny Gaudreau has never looked better,” claimed Treliving. He added Gaudreau’s placement with the smaller group was due to circumstances arising from the need to be cautious as the players returned from a long layoff.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That won’t prevent some folks from theorizing Gaudreau’s fallen out of favor with the coaching staff or stoking rumors about the winger’s future in Calgary.

THE SCORE: St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Taransenko isn’t concerned about living in a quarantine bubble in Edmonton for the upcoming playoff tournament. “I don’t need much to live. I just need a bed and food,” he told The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu is more concerned about his club’s opportunity to play for the Stanley Cup than his future. The 37-year-old center is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end and could be playing his final games with the Wild.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre examines the strict pandemic protocols the Winnipeg Jets are following during Phase 3 of the return-to-play plan. Defenseman Luca Sbisa explained the players aren’t really allowed to go anywhere but the rink and their homes, though they do partake in simple errands such as grocery shopping. The Jets have their own Phase 3 policies as well as those issued in a 19-page document by the league.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Phase 3 is the crucial period if the playoff tournament under Phase 4 is to take place starting in two weeks. The Jets, and the other clubs involved, are taking significant steps to ensure the health and safety of the players. Time will tell, however, if those measures prove successful.

IN OTHER NEWS…

TORONTO SUN: Long-time Leafs TV reporter Paul Hendricks is stepping down to spend more time with his wife, who’s battling cancer. Hendricks was part of Leafs TV from its infancy in the mid-1990s.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Hendricks and his wife during this difficult time.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Rocky Thompson is stepping down as head coach of the AHL’s Chicago Wolves after three seasons behind their bench. He’s expected to coach the Vegas Golden Knights’ new AHL affiliate in Nevada next season.