NHL Betting: Andrei Vasilevskiy Sets The Bar High In Vezina Trophy Race
Vezina Trophy finalists announced, Caleb Jones admits testing positive for COVID-19, plus updates on David Pastrnak, Marc-Andre Fleury, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines
2020 NHL AWARDS UPDATE
NHL.COM: The Winnipeg Jets’ Connor Hellebuyck, Boston Bruins’ Tuukka Rask, and Tampa Bay Lightning’s Andrei Vasilevskiy are the finalist for the 2020 Vezina Trophy, awarded to the top goaltender as voted by NHL general managers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rask (2014) and Vasilevskiy (2019) won the Vezina before, while this is Hellebuyck’s second time as a finalist. Rask has the better stats of the three, but Hellebucyk led the league in shutouts (6) while carrying the Jets and their depth-depleted defense into the 2020 playoffs. That could be the determining factor in his favor.
LATEST TRAINING CAMP HEADLINES
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: David Pastrnak’s agent said his client is in quarantine after coming in contact with an individual who tested positive for COVID-19. The Bruins winger tested negative for the coronavirus. That explains why he was held out of practice Thursday.
Pastrnak and teammate Ondrej Kase were following travel quarantine protocols after recently returning from the Czech Republic to attend training camp. The reason for Kase’s absence remains unknown.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers defenseman Caleb Jones admitted he tested positive for COVID-19 several weeks ago when he returned to Edmonton from his off-season home in Dallas. He had no symptoms and self-quarantined for two weeks. He’s fine now and skating in Oilers’ practices.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jones is the second player known to have had the virus but the first to voluntarily admit it. Last month, the Toronto Sun reported Maple Leafs center Austin Matthews tested positive for COVID-19 over a month ago. He acknowledged it earlier this week.
The NHL is preventing teams from revealing the health status of its players during the return-to-play plan. Absent players are being listed as “unfit to play” or “unfit to participate” with no explanation.
Speaking of the Oilers, they and the mayor of Edmonton issued statements yesterday insisting the storm damage caused to part of Rogers Place arena on Thursday won’t derail plans to host Western Conference teams in the upcoming playoff tournament.
NHL.COM: Marc-Andre Fleury participated in training camp on Friday with his Vegas Golden Knights teammates for the first time this week. The club claims Fleury missed the opening days for “maintenance”, while head coach Peter DeBoer said the goaltender’s absence was not related to COVID-19.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Defensemen Olli Maatta and Connor Murphy joined Corey Crawford on the list of Blackhawks players deemed “unfit to play”. Blueliner Calvin de Haan missed his third straight practice dealing with a family emergency.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning forward Cedric Paquette was listed as “unable to practice” on Friday. He was banged-up during practice on Wednesday.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Noah Juulsen is battling for a spot on the Canadiens roster after being sidelined since Nov. 19, 2018, with migraines related to head trauma. The 23-year-old defenseman got in some games with the Habs’ AHL farm team in Laval before the schedule was interrupted in March and claims he’s felt great since then.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: For a while, there was concern Juulsen’s promising career could be over before it began. If he’s healthy he could be a valuable addition to the Canadiens blueline.
IN OTHER NEWS…
NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson declined to confirm a report by TSN’s Darren Dreger claiming interim coach Bob Boughner signed a contract extension to become their permanent head coach. Dreger also cited a report claiming former AHL coach Rocky Thompson would join the Sharks staff as an assistant coach. Wilson said there’s been no decision yet on the coaching staff.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maybe Wilson doesn’t like it when a reporter spoils his big reveal.
THE DENVER POST: Some promising news to report on former NHLer Kyle Quincey’s young son Axl. The 1-year-old appears on the road to recovery following his second brain surgery on June 9 to remove a tumor.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Axl and his family. Here’s hoping he makes a full recovery.
Blues eliminate the Jets, the Capitals and Stars take 3-2 leads in their respective series, Vezina Trophy finalists revealed, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The St. Louis Blues advanced to the second round of the 2019 Stanley Cup playoff by edging the Winnipeg Jets 3-2 to win their opening-round series four games to two. Jaden Schwartz tallied a hat trick for the Blues, who held off a third-period rally by the desperate Jets. They also held Winnipeg to just six shots through the first and second periods, including just one in the second.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: For most of this game, the Blues dominated the Jets, who struggled to get any serious scoring chances on Jordan Binnington. They deserve full marks for exploiting Winnipeg’s defensive breakdowns in this series. For a club that was last in the Western Conference on New Year’s Day, it’s been a helluva run so far for the Blues, who await the winner of the Dallas Stars-Nashville Predators series.
The Jets, meanwhile, brought most of this upon themselves. Not taking anything away from the Blues performance, but Winnipeg blew third-period leads in Games 1 and 5. The last one was a killer as they seemed firmly in control of that game entering the third. Defensive mistakes killed them in this series and they simply weren’t prepared for a fired-up Blues team in Game 6.
Braden Holtby made 30 saves for a franchise-record seventh playoff shutout while Nicklas Backstrom scored twice and set up two others as the Washington Capitals blanked the Carolina Hurricanes 6-0. Alex Ovechkin also scored and added two helpers. The Capitals hold a 3-2 lead as the series shifts back to Carolina for Game 6 on Monday. They could be without winger T.J. Oshie for the remainder of the postseason as he reportedly suffered a broken collarbone in Game 4.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That was a statement game by the defending Stanley Cup champions, dominating the upstart Hurricanes who had battled back to even the series in Games 3 and 4. Another performance like that and the Capitals will move on to face the New York Islanders in the next round. The Hurricanes did get some good news as rookie winger Andrei Svechnikov hopes to return for Game 6 after being sidelined since Game 3.
The Dallas Stars biggest stars were the main factors behind their 5-3 victory over the Nashville Predators in Game 5 of their opening-round series. Alex Radulov scored twice, Jamie Benn had three assists, Tyler Seguin scored a goal and added an assist, and goaltender Ben Bishop kicked out 30 shots. Jason Dickinson also scored twice for the Stars, who take a 3-2 series lead back to Dallas for Game 6 on Monday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: For a club carrying one of the deepest bluelines in the league, the Predators were sloppy defensively in this game. Three of Dallas’ goals were the result of turnovers. They’ve also been outplayed by the plucky Stars for most of this series. If the Predators can’t find a winning solution soon, they’ll be hitting the golf course after Monday.
Speaking of Ben Bishop, he’s one of this year’s finalists for the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goaltender, joining the New York Islanders’ Robin Lehner and the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Andrei Vasilevskiy.