NHL 2019-20 Season Preview: New York Islanders
Avalanche and Bruins tie their respective series at two games apiece. Recaps and a roundup of notable news in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Colorado Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer made 32 saves for his first career NHL playoff shutout in a 3-0 win in Game 4 over the San Jose Sharks. Their second-round series is tied at two games apiece. Nathan MacKinnon extended his playoff points streak to eight games while linemate Miko Rantanen had two assists.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Special teams were also a factor in this one for the Avs, killing off two penalties and tallying a power-play goal. MacKinnon, meanwhile, is emerging as an early favorite for the Conn Smythe Trophy. He’s certainly been the Avs most valuable player thus far.
The Boston Bruins also tied their series at two games apiece with a 4-1 victory in Game 4 against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Patrice Bergeron scored twice and Tuukka Rask turned aside 39 shots. Blue Jackets winger Artemi Panarin’s goal was controversial, coming after the puck had deflected up into the mesh behind the Bruins net.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: While the Bruins were upset over the Panarin goal they didn’t lose their composure. The stage is set for what should be an entertaining Game 5 back in Boston on Saturday.
NEW YORK POST: Islanders coach Barry Trotz won’t rule out shaking up his lineup for tonight’s Game 4 against the Carolina Hurricanes. Those changes could include backup Thomas Greiss replacing starter Robin Lehner. The Isles face elimination tonight.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A popgun offense, not Lehner’s goaltending, is the reason the Isles find themselves down 3-0 in this series. Yes, Lehner’s turnover in the third period of Game 3 resulted in the Hurricanes’ game-winning goal, but he’s been otherwise solid throughout this series. Without him, the Islanders probably don’t reach the playoffs, let alone advance to the second round. Changing the goalies won’t improve the Islanders anemic scoring punch.
LAS VEGAS SUN: The Vegas Golden Knights yesterday announced assistant general manager Kelly McCrimmon was promoted to general manager. Now-former GM George McPhee will remain president of hockey operations.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights didn’t want to risk losing McCrimmon to another team. There was talk he was a possible candidate for the Oilers’ vacant GM role. McCrimmon played a significant role in assisting McPhee in building and maintaining the roster. McPhee will still provide oversight over all hockey decisions but he and McCrimmon have a solid working relationship.
THE SCORE: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews underwent a procedure yesterday to remove surgical hardware from a 2014 surgery to repair a broken femur. The procedure isn’t expected to affect his offseason training routine.
NEW YORK POST: The Rangers signed prospect defenseman Adam Fox to an entry-level contract. Earlier this week, the Rangers acquired Fox from the Carolina Hurricanes.
SPORTSNET: Hockey Hall of Famer Red Kelly passed away yesterday at age 91. Kelly won eight Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs during his 20-year career. He was a defenseman who could also play at center. A six-time First Team all-star, Kelly won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy four times and the James Norris Memorial Trophy in 1953-54. In 1,316 games, Kelly scored 281 goals and 823 points. He also went on to coach the Los Angeles Kings, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Toronto Maple Leafs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Kelly’s family, friends, former teammates, and fans. He was truly a unique NHL player and coach, pioneering the role of the puck-moving defenseman.
Game recaps, Lightning win their 59th game, Predators clinch a playoff berth, stars of the week, Capitals visit the White House, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning became the fourth team in NHL history to win 59 games in a season by erasing a 4-2 deficit to beat the Boston Bruins 5-4. Steven Stamkos scored two goals and Anthony Cirelli netted the game-winner with 53 seconds remaining in regulation. Earlier in the day, the Lightning revealed defenseman Dan Girardi (lower-body injury) is sidelined indefinitely.
A four-goal performance by John Tavares powered the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 7-5 victory over the Florida Panthers. With 45 goals, Tavares sits second among the league leaders. Mitch Marner and Zach Hyman each had three points for the Leafs while Jonathan Huberdeau and Jayce Hawryluk each scored twice for the Panthers. The Leafs (96 points) are five behind the Boston Bruins for second in the Atlantic Division.
Zach Sanford had a goal and an assist as the St. Louis Blues downed the Vegas Golden Knights 3-1, preventing the latter from clinching a postseason spot. With 90 points, the Blues sit two points behind the Nashville Predators for second in the Central Division.
The Nashville Predators secured a playoff spot by blanking the Minnesota Wild 1-0. Juuse Saros made 29 saves for the shutout and Ryan Johansen tallied the only goal. With 92 points, the Predators sit two behind the Central Division-leading Winnipeg Jets. The Wild (79 points) remain two back of the Colorado Avalanche for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
Speaking of the Jets, they dropped a 5-2 decision to the Dallas Stars. Tyler Seguin and Radek Faksa each scored twice for the Stars (84 points), who opened a three-point lead over the Avalanche for the first Western wild-card berth.
The Pittsburgh Penguins (95 points) moved to within a point of first place in the Metropolitan Division by defeating the New York Rangers 5-2. Teddy Blueger tallied twice as the Penguins overcame a 2-0 deficit. Phil Kessel also collected two assists. Earlier in the day, the Rangers announced winger Jesper Fast (shoulder injury) will be sidelined for the remainder of the season.
Jack Campbell had a 42-save shutout as the Los Angeles Kings upset the Calgary Flames 3-0. The Kings played without winger Ilya Kovalchuk, who remained back in Los Angeles to work with the club’s development and skills staff. GM Rob Blake said the decision was not based on Kovalchuk’s comments last week complaining about his declining ice time under coach Willie Desjardins.
Earlier in the day, Kings defenseman Drew Doughty created a pre-game stir by saying he has no respect for Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk, who clashed with Doughty in previous contests.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kovalchuk was going to be a healthy scratch during the Kings’ three-game road trip so apparently it was a mutual decision (based on his suggestion) to remain in Los Angeles. I’ll have more on Kovalchuk and the Kings later this morning in the Rumors section.
The San Jose Sharks suffered their sixth straight defeat by falling 3-2 to the Detroit Red Wings. The loss leaves the Sharks six points behind the Flames for first place in the Pacific Division and the overall Western Conference standings.
New Jersey Devils goaltender Cory Schneider kicked out 45 shots backstopping his club to a 3-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres. Pavel Zacha had a goal and an assist. The Sabres have dropped 12 consecutive road games.
Winnipeg Jets winger Kyle Connor, Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos, and Colorado Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending March 25, 2019.
The White House and President Trump yesterday welcomed the Washington Capitals to commemorate their 2018 Stanley Cup championship. Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny attended the event on crutches and is considered sidelined long-term with an injured left leg.
NEWSDAY: New York Islanders coach Barry Trotz became the fourth coach in league history to reach 1,600 regular-season games during his club’s 2-0 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday.
It was a night of NHL milestones for several players and one coach. Check out the details in today’s morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price tied Jacques Plante for most wins by a Habs goalie (314) with a 28-save effort in a 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Teammate Brendan Gallagher scored his 30th of the season. Canadiens rookie Jesperi Kotkaniemi was a healthy scratch for the first time this season as coach Claude Julien felt the 18-year-old could use a bit of rest. With the win, the Canadiens (79 points) hold the second wild-card berth in the East.
Sidney Crosby scored his 30th goal of the season and added two assists to reach 1,200 career points to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins over the Florida Panthers 3-2. Jake Guentzel scored twice, including the winner in overtime. The Penguins also honored center Matt Cullen for playing in his 1,500th career NHL game. With 79 points, the Penguins hold the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
Tampa Bay Lightning right winger Nikita Kucherov collected two assists to tie a franchise record of 108 points in a 5-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. Winnipeg goaltender Connor Hellebuyck was shaken up after taking a Kucherov shot off his mask in the second period but returned to finish the game.
New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz picked up his 800th career victory as his club edged the Ottawa Senators 5-4. It was a costly win for the Isles as starting goaltender Robin Lehner left the game late in the third period following a collision with Senators winger Brady Tkachuk. Earlier in the day, the Islanders recalled forwards Joshua Ho-Sang and Michael Dal Colle on an emergency basis. The Isles (89 points) move into a tie for first place in the Metropolitan Division with the Washington Capitals,
SPECTOR’S NOTE: An update on Lehner’s status will likely be revealed today. It’s assumed he left the game for concussion protocol.
The Boston Bruins extended their points streak to 17 games with a 4-3 overtime victory over the Carolina Hurricanes, who were playing in Hartford Whalers jerseys. David Krejci scored the winning goal. Sebastian Aho tallied twice for the Hurricanes. Bruins winger Marcus Johansson left the game in the second period following a hard shoulder-to-shoulder hit by Hurricanes left winger Micheal Ferland. Johansson was taken to hospital but coach Bruce Cassidy said the news of his condition could be “encouraging“. The Bruins (89 points) opened a three-point lead over the Toronto Maple Leafs for second place in the Atlantic Division.
Ryan Johansen scored the only goal in a shootout as the Nashville Predators nipped the Minnesota Wild 5-4. Wild winger Kevin Fiala scored twice against his former team. With the win, the Predators (83 points) move one point ahead of the Jets for the top spot in the Central Division. The Wild (72 points) hold a two-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche for the final Western Conference wild-card spot.
Dallas Stars goalie Ben Bishop turned in a 28-save shutout performance and John Klingberg scored the only goal in a 1-0 victory over the New York Rangers. Dallas forward Alexander Radulov was a healthy scratch as punishment for being late for a morning team meeting. The Stars (73 points) hold a one-point lead over the Wild.
Nathan MacKinnon’s overtime goal gave the Colorado Avalanche a 4-3 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. MacKinnon had two points while linemate Mikko Rantanen had a three-point game. Red Wings defenseman Mike Green will be sidelined seven-to-ten days due to the recurrence of a liver virus.
Shootout goals by Cam Atkinson and Artemi Panarin gave the Columbus Blue Jackets a 2-1 win over the New Jersey Devils, snapping a three-game losing skid. Devils forward Jesper Bratt left the game in the second period with an undisclosed injury. The Jackets (77 points) remain two points out of a wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.
The Anaheim Ducks defeated the Arizona Coyotes 3-1 to snap the latter’s six-game winning streak. The Coyotes (69 points) sit three points behind the Wild. Defenseman Jason Demers returned to the Coyotes lineup after being sidelined for four months.
VANCOUVER SUN: Canucks center Brandon Sutter will undergo season-ending sports-hernia surgery.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks recalled goaltender Collin Delia as veteran Cam Ward is out seven-to-ten days with a knee injury.
CALGARY SUN: Flames defenseman Michael Stone has been assigned to the club’s AHL affiliate in Stockton on a conditioning stint. Stone’s been sidelined since November 22 by a blood clot in his arm.
STLTODAY: Blues center Brayden Schenn will rejoin the lineup after being sidelined since Feb. 19 with an upper-body injury.
TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs re-signed backup goalie Garret Sparks to a one-year, $750K contract extension.
TSN: NHL general managers could recommend a rule change forcing players to skate directly to the bench if they lose their helmet during gameplay. The players could also be forced to wear their helmets during pre-game warmups. Those recommendations will require the endorsement of the NHL Players Association. Another proposed change could give a team with a power play the choice of which side of the offensive zone they’ll take the faceoff.
Game recaps, Ryan Johansen suspended, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Thomas Greiss made 19 saves as the New York Islanders blanked the Washington Capitals 2-0. During a break in the first period, the Capitals honored Islanders bench boss Barry Trotz, who coached the Capitals to the Stanley Cup last season. With the win, the Islanders take over first place in the Metropolitan Division and extend their win streak to four games.
Vancouver Canucks rookie goalie Thatcher Demko made 36 saves in his season debut to backstop his club to a 4-3 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. Canucks forwards Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat each had two points for the Canucks (50 points), who vaulted over the Minnesota Wild, Edmonton Oilers and Anaheim Ducks into the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
Three power-play goals and a shorthanded tally carried the Calgary Flames to a 6-4 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Sam Bennett netted two of their power-play goals. Red Wings center Dylan Larkin also scored twice. The Flames sit first overall in the Western Conference with a three-point lead over the Winnipeg Jets. Flames defenseman Travis Hamonic returned to action after missing two games tending to his daughter, who became seriously ill last weekend and was rushed to the Alberta Children’s Hospital.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to the Hamonic family as their daughter recovers from her illness.
The Florida Panthers snapped a seven-game losing streak by downing the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1. Panthers forward Vincent Trocheck made his return after missing 27 games to an ankle injury and assisted on Mike Matheson’s game-winning goal.
Montreal Canadiens forwards Tomas Tatar and Joel Armia each scored twice in a 4-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Canadiens goaltender Carey Price made 34 saves as his club won its fourth straight contest while ending the Jackets four-game win streak.
The Ottawa Senators collected their fourth win in their last five games by beating the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1. Anders Nilsson kicked out 33 shots for the win.
Phil Kessel scored in overtime as the Pittsburgh Penguins edged the Arizona Coyotes 3-2.
The NHL Department of Player Safety suspended Nashville Predators center Ryan Johansen for two games for high-sticking Jets center Mark Scheifele on Thursday.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins forward Anders Bjork underwent season-ending surgery on his left shoulder on Friday. His recovery will last five-to-six months.
NBC SPORTS: Former Buffalo Sabres forward Patrik Berglund told a Swedish publication he’s at peace with his decision to quit the club just a little over two months into this season. He claimed he lost some of his passion for hockey after being traded by the St. Louis Blues last summer. He added his emotions had nothing to do with playing in Buffalo and he apologized to Sabres fans for betraying them.
Game recaps, the latest schedule of outdoor games, the latest waiver updates, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Boston Bruins defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 4-2 in front of over 76,000 fans at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana at the 2019 NHL Winter Classic. Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak each had a goal and an assist while Tuukka Rask made 36 saves for the win.
Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made 17 saves for his league-leading sixth shutout in a 2-0 blanking of the Los Angeles Kings. Brandon Pirri and Alex Tuch were the goal scorers. Kings goalie Jack Campbell kicked out 46 shots in a losing cause.
Viktor Arvidsson scored twice and Jusse Saros made 32 saves as the Nashville Predators shut out the Philadelphia Flyers 4-0, handing the latter their fourth straight loss.
The NHL announced three outdoor games will be played during the 2019-20 season. The Winnipeg Jets will host the Calgary Flames in the 2019 Heritage Classic on Oct. 26 at Mosaic Stadium in Regina, Saskatchewan.
“In addition to the Heritage Classic, Commissioner Bettman announced the Dallas Stars will host the 2020 Winter Classic at Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas on Jan. 1, the 2020 NHL All-Star Weekend will be at Enterprise Center in St. Louis on Jan. 24-26 and the Colorado Avalanche will host the NHL Stadium Series game at the United States Air Force Academy’s Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs, Colorado on Feb. 15.”
NJ.COM: The New Jersey Devils placed left wing Taylor Hall (lower body) on injured reserve. He remains day-to-day but could return at some point during their current four-game road trip.
ASSOCIATED PRESS: New York Islanders coach Barry Trotz recently passed Al Arbour for fourth among coaches on the all-time wins list with 783.
NBC SPORTS: Calgary Flames forward Sam Bennett won’t face supplemental discipline for a high hit on San Jose Sharks defenseman Radim Simek on New Year’s Eve.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yet another example of why many NHL fans consider the league’s department of player safety a joke.
SPORTSNET: The Ottawa Senators placed forward Tom Pyatt on waivers. St. Louis Blues defenseman Chris Butler and forward Jordan Nolan are also on waivers. Meanwhile, the Nashville Predators claimed Phil Di Giuseppe from the Carolina Hurricanes.
AZCENTRAL.COM: In an open letter to Arizona Coyotes fans, team president and CEO Ahron Cohen addressed recent speculation of an ownership change. He said any potential deal involving a change of owners would be predicated upon the club remaining in Arizona for the foreseeable future. “Arizona is our home. We love it here. And we love playing for you, the very best fans in the NHL.”