NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 26, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 26, 2021

The Leafs and Hurricanes are on the verge of advancing to the second round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, plus the latest on Alex Ovechkin, Tuukka Rask and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines

NHL.COM: The Toronto Maple Leafs are on the verge of winning their first playoff series in 17 years after blanking the Montreal Canadiens 4-0 in Game 4 of their opening-round series. Alexander Kerfoot and Alex Galchenyuk each had three points, William Nylander tallied his fourth goal in as many games, Joe Thornton tallied his first playoff goal as a Leaf, and Jack Campbell kicked out 32 shots for his first NHL playoff shutout. The Leafs can wrap things up in Game 5 on Thursday in Toronto.

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: For the third straight game, the Leafs took control in the second period. They’ve done a fine job nullifying the Canadiens’ popgun offense and they’re getting more production from their secondary scorers as this series goes on.

The Habs have the depth to be a better team than what we’ve seen in this series and most of this season. However, their coaching staff doesn’t seem to know how to get the best out of them. Part of that could be due to pressure they’re getting from their desperate general manager.

Even if the Canadiens were playing better, they still couldn’t match the offensive depth the Leafs bring to bear in this series. While Austin Matthews was kept off the scoreboard in three games and Mitch Marner in two games, William Nylander has proven to be the biggest Hab killer in this series.

An overtime goal by Jordan Staal gave the Carolina Hurricanes a 3-2 victory over the Nashville Predators in Game 5 of their first-round series. Martin Necas scored two goals for Carolina while Yakov Trenin tallied twice for the Predators. Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin returned to the lineup following a three-game absence and collected an assist. With a 3-2 series lead, the Hurricanes can end this series in Nashville on Thursday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes will have to become the first team in this series to win a road game if they hope to wrap this up on Thursday.

SPORTSNET: Alex Ovechkin could become an unrestricted free agent this summer but the 35-year-old left winger wants to remain with the Washington Capitals. “I’m confident, we still have time,” said the Capitals captain. “Obviously, I want to finish my career here, I’m pretty sure we will do something.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Capitals owner Ted Leonsis also wants Ovechkin to finish his career in Washington. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of deal they can hammer out and how long it takes to get it done.

NHL.COM: Boston Bruins president Cam Neely said management and Tuukka Rask have agreed to table the goaltender’s contract talks until after the playoffs. The 34-year-old Rask is due to become a UFA this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rask understands he’s not getting a long-term extension given his age. The sticking point could be salary. He’s earning an annual average value of $7 million on his current deal. He could point to his performance as justification for maintaining that annual salary. He backstopped the Bruins to the 2019 Stanley Cup Final, was a finalist last year for the Vezina Trophy, and helped them advance to the second round of this year’s playoffs.

THE SCORE: Winnipeg Jets captain Blake Wheeler joked about taking a Kris Russell slapshot to the groin during Game 4 of his club’s first-round series against the Edmonton Oilers. “I’ve got three beautiful kids, we’re not having anymore, so what the hell,” he joked with reporters following the Jets’ series-clinching 4-3 triple-overtime victory.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ballsy guy, that Wheeler. The Jets captain left the game briefly in obvious pain after blocking that shot but returned to play in all three overtime periods.

NEW YORK POST: New York Islanders winger Oliver Wahlstrom could be sidelined for Game 5 tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He suffered an apparent right-knee injury following a collision with Penguins defenseman Mike Matheson in Game 4.

TSN: Tampa Bay Lightning forward Pat Maroon and defenseman Ryan McDonagh received fines from the NHL department of player safety for their actions during Game 5 against the Florida Panthers. Maroon was fined over $3,800.00 for unsportsmanlike conduct while McDonagh was fined $5,000.00 for cross-checking Panthers forward Mason Marchment.

NEW YORK POST: Wayne Gretzky has stepped down as vice-chairman of the Edmonton Oilers and is reportedly joining TNT as a lead hockey analyst starting next season.

The New York Rangers interviewed former Arizona Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet for their vacant head-coaching position. The Blueshirts already interviewed former Vegas Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant, who is considered the leading candidate for the job.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 8, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 8, 2021

A franchise record for Leafs’ goalie Jack Campbell, hat tricks for Leon Draisaitl and Kevin Fiala, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Toronto Maple Leafs’ goaltender Jack Campbell set a franchise record with his 10th consecutive win to hold off the Montreal Canadiens 3-2. Campbell made 32 saves while teammate Auston Matthews tallied his league-leading 28th goal of the season. Corey Perry scored twice for the Canadiens. The Leafs moved into first place in the league’s overall standings with 58 points as they hold a seven-point lead over the Edmonton Oilers for first in the Scotia North Division. The Canadiens remain in fourth with 43 points.

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell (NHL Images).

The Oilers, meanwhile, doubled up the Ottawa Senators 4-2 thanks to Leon Draisaitl’s hat trick. Draisaitl and Connor McDavid (three assists) each finished with four points on the night. The Oilers (50 points) hold a one-point lead over the third-place Winnipeg Jets.

A hat trick by Kevin Fiala (the first of his NHL career) powered the Minnesota Wild to an 8-3 drubbing of the Colorado Avalanche. Fiala finished with four points while Wild rookies Kirill Kapizov scored twice and collected an assist while Victor Rask and Jared Spurgeon each had three helpers. The Wild (50 points) snapped the Avalanche’s 15-game points streak and moved within two points of the second-place Vegas Golden Knights (52 points) in the Honda West Division.

Speaking of the Golden Knights, they dropped a 3-1 decision to the St. Louis Blues and remain four points back of the first-place Avalanche. Jordan Binnington made 50 saves and Vladimir Tarasenko netted his third goal of the season as the Blues (40 points) snapped a seven-game winless skid to move two points ahead of the San Jose Sharks into fifth place.

A three-goal outburst in the third period rallied the Los Angeles Kings over the Arizona Coyotes 4-3. The Coyotes remain in fourth place in the West with 43 points.

HEADLINES

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks have 21 players who’ve tested positive for COVID-19. As the cases spread among the team, the NHL remains committed to having the team complete its schedule. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league has a plan in place to allow the Canucks to complete the season.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild winger Zach Parise played his first game last night since March 22 after testing positive for COVID-19. He’s not fully convinced he had the coronavirus as he didn’t feel any symptoms.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars coach Rick Bowness rejoined his team in Chicago after a false positive COVID-19 test forced him into quarantine for the past two games.

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs’ winger William Nylander was held out of last night’s game against the Montreal Canadiens as a precaution after coming in contact with a potential positive COVID-19 case from outside the team.

Montreal Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher has been placed on long-term injury reserve as he’s expected to be sidelined at least six weeks with a fractured thumb.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will allow the Canadiens to exceed the cap by almost the equivalent of Gallagher’s $3.75 million cap hit if they decide to acquire another player before the 3 pm ET trade deadline on Monday.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets captain Blake Wheeler has been sidelined indefinitely by a concussion. It’s believed he suffered the injury after being elbowed in the head by Ottawa’s Brady Tkachuk during Monday’s game between the Jets and Senators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a big loss for the Jets. Wheeler usually skates at right wing on their top line though of late he’s also played on their second line. He’s fourth among their scorers with 10 goals and 32 points.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets forward Boone Jenner is out for six weeks with a broken finger.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A significant blow for the struggling Blue Jackets as they try to stay in playoff contention in the Discover Central Division. Jenner’s a big, hard-working forward who can play center or wing. They’ll miss his energy and physical game.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues winger Mike Hoffman was a healthy scratch from last night’s game against the Golden Knights. Head coach Craig Berube denied it has anything to do with his trade status, claiming it was his decision to put Sammy Blais into the lineup.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hoffman’s come up in recent days as a trade candidate with the Blues’ playoff hopes fading. He could be playing elsewhere by Monday’s deadline.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks purchased AHL affiliate Rockford IceHogs and signed a new 15-year lease with the club’s arena.










Five Surprises so far from the NHL North Division

Five Surprises so far from the NHL North Division

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 16, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 16, 2021

Recaps of Monday’s action, the Leafs acquire Alex Galchenyuk, three stars of the week and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Darcy Kuemper made 24 saves for the shutout while Clayton Keller scored the only goal as the Arizona Coyotes blanked the St. Louis Blues 1-0. The Coyotes took four of the seven games in this series. Blues defenseman Torey Krug left the game after the second period with an upper-body injury and is listed as day-to-day.

The New York Islanders defeated the Buffalo Sabres 3-1. Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored and Josh Bailey collected two assists for the Islanders while Victor Olofsson tallied for Buffalo. It was the Sabres’ first game since their schedule was paused after Jan. 31 due to COVID-19.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The long layoff adversely affected the Sabres’ performance in this contest. They had nine shot attempts in the third period but none of them reached the net.

Ottawa Senators winger Evgenii Dadonov (NHL Images).

Evgenii Dadonov scored the tying and winning goals as the Ottawa Senators roared back from a 5-1 deficit to upset the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-5 in overtime. Auston Matthews scored twice for the Leafs while teammate Joe Thornton had a goal and an assist in his return after missing 10 games to a rib injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators deserve credit for not giving up after falling behind by four goals. However, the Leafs were their own worst enemies as complacency seemed to set in after they took that big lead.

Speaking of the Leafs, they acquired forward Alex Galchenyuk from the Carolina Hurricanes for forward Egor Korshkov and David Warsofsky.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Galchenyuk is on the move just two days after being acquired by the Hurricanes from the Senators. He’s now on his seventh team since 2018 and is expected to join the Leafs’ farm club because he already cleared waivers before the trade went down. He also doesn’t have to quarantine because he was still in Ottawa preparing to head to Carolina when this deal went down.

The Leafs were in the market for a depth forward. Acquiring Galchenyuk is an affordable move to bring in some additional experience.

And speaking of the Hurricanes, they tallied six unanswered goals to defeat the Columbus Blue Jackets 7-3. Teuvo Teravainen scored twice and set up two others, Brock McGinn had a goal and three assists, Jordan Staal netted two goals and James Reimer made 37 saves for the win.

The Florida Panthers held off the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-4, handing the latter their first home loss of the season. Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau and Anton Stralman each had a goal and an assist for the Panthers. Alexander Volkov tallied twice for the Lightning.

Dominik Kubalik scored twice, including the winner in overtime as the Chicago Blackhawks edged the Detroit Red Wings 3-2. The Wings overcame a two-goal deficit to force the extra frame.

The Winnipeg Jets downed the Edmonton Oilers 6-5 as Blake Wheeler tallied the winning goal in the third period. Jets center Mark Scheifele had a goal and two assists. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Alex Chiasson each scored twice for the Oilers as they overcame 4-2 and 5-3 deficits.

Johnny Gaudreau’s overtime goal lifted the Calgary Flames to a 4-3 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. The Flames rallied back from a 2-0 deficit to take a 3-2 lead until Brock Boeser force overtime with a shorthanded goal late in the third period.

San Jose Sharks captain Logan Couture had a goal and an assist to lead his club over the Anaheim Ducks 3-2.

HEADLINES

Columbus Blue Jackets winger Cam Atkinson, Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and Pittsburgh Penguins winger Bryan Rust are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Feb. 14.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars postponed their game last night against the Nashville Predators at the request of Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson as a severe winter storm left hundreds of thousands of Dallas residents without power.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers canceled practice on Monday at the request of the NHL as a measure of caution. The club has seven players on the COVID-19 protocol list. They are still scheduled to practice today. They’ve been shut down for a week now.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins defensemen Matt Grzelcyk and Jakub Zboril are still nursing injuries and are questionable for Thursday’s game against the New Jersey Devils.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers defenseman K’Andre Miller is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin believes prospect forward Cole Caufield will turn pro at the conclusion of his college season with the University of Wisconsin. It’s uncertain if Caufield will play any games with the Canadiens this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Caufield’s offensive exploits in college play and in the 2021 World Juniors have generated plenty of anticipation among Habs fans. Time will tell if he can successfully make the jump into the NHL.

THE ATLANTIC: NHL Hall-of-Fame goaltender Ken Dryden believes oversized upper-body goaltending equipment has changed the game and not for the better. He feels expanding the net is a viable solution.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dryden makes a compelling case. He points to golf-club technology making championship courses longer, how a lighter soccer ball now makes it possible for players to curve or drop shots around a goaltender, and how the three-point shot eventually improved scoring in basketball.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 4, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 4, 2021

Recaps of Wednesday’s action, more game postponements, plus the latest on Henrik Lundqvist, Petr Mrazek, Blake Wheeler and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Boston Bruins overcame a 3-1 deficit to upset the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 on an overtime goal by Patrice Bergeron. David Pastrnak tallied a hat trick, including the Bruins’ final two goals in regulation to force the extra frame. He also had an assist on Bergeron’s winner while the Bruins’ captain also collected three assists.

Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It appears Pastrnak is quickly returning to game shape following his recovery from offseason hip surgery. That was an impressive performance on his part in the third period. Penalties proved costly for the Flyers as the Bruins’ final three goals all came on the power play.

Three goals within the first five minutes of the first period power the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 5-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. Victor Hedman and Blake Coleman each had two points. The Red Wings are winless in their last seven contests.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild’s schedule is on pause to at least next Tuesday after five more players were added to their COVID-19 protocol list. Nick Bjugstad, Nick Bonino, Joel Eriksson Ek, Marcus Johansson and Jared Spurgeon joined Marcus Foligno on the list.

THE DENVER POST: One of the postponed Wild games involved Thursday’s contest with the Colorado Avalanche, who placed forward Tyson Jost on the COVID-19 protocol list.

WGR 550: Tobias Rieder and Brandon Montour have joined Taylor Hall and Rasmus Ristolainen on the Buffalo Sabres COVID-19 protocol list. The Sabres schedule is paused until at least Feb. 8 with four games postponed.

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Defenseman John Marino is the first member of the Penguins to be placed on the COVID-19 protocol list.

NEW YORK POST: Henrik Lundqvist is in good spirits and said he’s feeling well a month after undergoing open-heart surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to King Henrik in his ongoing recovery.

NHL.COM: Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Petr Mrazek has undergone surgery on his right thumb. A timetable for his return is expected in the next several days.

THE SCORE: Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice ripped into critics of captain Blake Wheeler’s defensive play. “He’s got f*****g 11 points in 10 games,” said Maurice. While he doesn’t have a problem with criticism of Wheeler’s play, he claims he wants it to be accurate. “You’ll do your deep dives and analytics, and god, they do a horses**t job of telling you what five guys do.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wheeler has been on the ice for more five-on-five goals against the Jets than the rest of his teammates. It’s fair to note that point but Maurice is right to say it doesn’t tell the whole story of his overall performance.

CBS SPORTS: Los Angeles Kings defenseman Sean Walker is expected to be sidelined two-to-four weeks after undergoing surgery on his nose. He took a slapshot to the face during a recent game against the Minnesota Wild.

TSN: The Ottawa Senators placed defenseman Braydon Coburn on waivers.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers assistant general manager Chris Drury has taken himself out of the running for the vacant position of Pittsburgh Penguins GM.

TSN: Hockey Canada announced St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong has been named GM of Canada’s Men’s Olympic Hockey Team at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. Joining him will be Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland, Seattle Kraken GM Ron Francis, Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney and Florida Panthers executive Roberto Luongo.

THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators will make a limited number of tickets available for six February home games beginning Friday.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 15, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 15, 2020

Players mull over the idea of performing in arenas without fans, Ryan Reaves and Evander Kane put aside their differences to help form Hockey Diversity Alliance, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE CANADIAN PRESS (via CTV News): Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid and teammate Darnell Nurse, Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares, and Winnipeg Jets captain Blake Wheeler are among several NHL players pondering playing in arenas without fans under the league’s return-to-play plan later this summer.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (Photo via NHL Images).

NHL players are accustomed to playing in front of thousands of noisy fans, drawing energy and intensity from the crowds. That won’t be the case during the 24-team playoff tournament, as fans won’t be allowed into the two hub arenas due to COVID-19 concerns.

Nurse believes it will be a test for the players to create their own intensity. Tavares acknowledged it’ll be unlike what the players are used to, but pointed out the game between the boards remains the same.

Wheeler suggests players will have to push aside the distraction of silence and remember millions of fans will be watching them on television. McDavid, meanwhile, acknowledged it won’t be the same. “It’ll suck, but we gotta do what we gotta do.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The lack of fan noise will be a little disconcerting at first, but I expect the players will quickly adjust. As Nurse pointed out, the players will have to find other ways to create their own environment and draw sufficient motivation.

THE SCORE: Vegas Golden Knights winger Ryan Reaves and San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane have a well-documented rivalry. However, the two put their differences aside to become part of the newly-formed Hockey Diversity Alliance, which seeks to eradicate racism from hockey.

I spoke to Evander and told him I want to jump in on this powerful message,” Reaves told the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Ed Graney. “We have to put aside our differences on the ice and come together for a much bigger cause.”

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton said he and his staff intend to use their time leading up to the tournament in preparation to face the Edmonton Oilers, their qualifying-round opponent. They intend to work on improving their systems while ramping up their focus on the Oilers as the tournament draws near.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NHL coaches will have plenty of time to prepare. Late July is the earliest the tournament could begin, though early August seems the more likely time.

NJ.COM: Executives from the seven non-playoff clubs are hoping the NHL will allow them to spend some on-ice time evaluating their players during their long off-season. The New Jersey Devils, Detroit Red Wings, Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, Buffalo Sabres, Ottawa Senators, and San Jose Sharks failed to qualify for the post-season tournament.

Devils interim general manager Tom Fitzgerald said those teams are hoping to get in some form of game action for their players.

Bring them in in any shape or form. It could be a mini-camp. It could be rookie camp. It could be a rookie tournament. Maybe the Eastern teams get together. Maybe there’s an appetite for all of us to somehow have some sort of mini-tournament. But there’s definitely going to be some push from us at least to be able to have the ability to work with our players in a smaller window, whatever that may look like. We all believe it’s not fair that we go nine months without being able to have contact with our players.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Getting those teams together could be difficult as they’d all have to follow the same protocols as those participating in the playoff tournament. Perhaps mini-camps or rookie camps would be acceptable, though those clubs might have to pick up the costs of travel, accommodation, and COVID-19 testing.

HOKEJ.CZ: reports Dallas Stars forward Martin Hanzal is considering retirement after spending the past several seasons plagued by back injuries. He’s in the final year of his contract and spent the entire 2019-20 season on long-term injury reserve. With his contract still technically on the Stars’ books, he’ll likely wait until this season is over before making it official.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Craig Morgan reports Hanzal told him two months ago retirement was likely, but he’d wait until his contract expired to make an official decision. Morgan writes Hanzal’s back problems flare up whenever he plays hockey.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Former Oiler Nail Yakupov, the first-overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, is bouncing around the KHL with the same frequency as he did during his final NHL seasons.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I attributed Yakupov’s NHL woes to the revolving door of coaches during his four seasons with the Oilers. However, it appears his problems are much deeper than that. He has the dubious honor of being among the biggest draft busts in NHL history.

SPORTSNET: Montreal Canadiens mascot Youppi! is the first character from a Canadian-based sports team to be inducted into The Mascot Hall of Fame. He’s also the first two-sport mascot to be inducted, having joined the Canadiens in 2005 after serving with the Montreal Expos from 1979 until the MLB club was relocated in 2004. Youppi! is also the only mascot to be ejected from an MLB game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations, Youppi! One of my favorite mascots of all time.