NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 21, 2017
Blackhawks and Blue Jackets eliminated, Calder Trophy finalists announced & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Roman Josi scored twice and Pekkan Rinne turned in a 30-save performance as the Nashville Predators defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1 to sweep their best-of-seven opening-round series. The Preds await the winner of the Minnesota Wild-St. Louis Blues series in the next round. It’s the first time since 1993 that the Blackhawks were swept in a playoff series.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators deserved this sweep. They simply outplayed a veteran Blackhawks club that suddenly showed its age in this series.
Marc-Andre Fleury made 49 saves and Brian Rust scored twice to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 5-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets to end their opening-round series in five games. The Pens await the winner of the Washington Capitals-Toronto Maple Leafs series in the next round.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blue Jackets have a lot of good young talent and a never-say-die attitude. Unfortunately, they lacked the depth and experience to take down the defending Stanley Cup champions. Fleury made the difference in this series. Filling in for the sidelined Matt Murray, he outplayed Blue Jackets netminder Sergei Bobrovsky.
Mika Zibanejad’s overtime goal gave the New York Rangers a 3-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens. They lead the series 3-2 and can wrap things up on home ice on Saturday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens’ anemic offense continues to hurt them. Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist is a key factor behind this, but the Habs lack of scoring punch could be their undoing in this series. Leading scorer and team captain Max Pacioretty has yet to find the back of the net in this series.
David Desharnais scored in overtime to lift the Edmonton Oilers to a 4-3 overtime win over the San Jose Sharks, taking a 3-2 lead in their best-of-seven series. The Oilers rallied back from a 3-1 deficit on goals by Mark Letestu and Oscar Klefbom to set the stage for Desharnais’ winner.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Along with the Ottawa Senators, the Oilers are one of only two of Canada’s five playoff clubs on the verge of advancing to the second round of the playoffs.
Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, Winnipeg Jets right wing Patrik Laine and Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski are the finalists for the Calder Memorial Trophy honoring the NHL’s rookie of the year.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I believe Matthews is the favorite to win this one. Laine and Werenski had terrific NHL debut seasons and should be stars for a long time. Matthews, however, led all rookies in scoring and was a significant reason why the rebuilding Leafs reached the playoffs this season.
THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks defenseman Nikita Tryamkin confirmed he will play for Avtomobilist in the KHL next season. The 22-year-old blueliner voiced his unhappiness over his lack of ice time with the Canucks this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tryamkin is a restricted free agent this summer. The Canucks hold his NHL rights until he turns 27.
TSN: Former NHL linesman Dennis Henderson is suing the league and Calgary Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman for over $10 million. Henderson’s career was ended after Wideman hit him from behind during a game last season.
WGR 550: In addition to firing general manager Tim Murray and coach Dan Bylsma, the Buffalo Sabres also fired director of pro scouting Rob Murphy and the director of amateur scouting Greg Royce.