June 22 — A Relieving Response & Checking on Coaches

Last Night’s News 📰

MOST VALUABLE PAPI: Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews was awarded the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player at last night’s NHL Awards show. The 24-year-old center became the first Leafs player—and first American—to ever score 60 goals in a season and the first player of any kind since Steven Stamkos with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2011-12.

SEEING STARS: Matthews wasn’t the only player to come away with hardware at the NHL Awards. Igor Shesterkin (NYR) won the Vezina, Cale Makar (COL) won the Norris, Moritz Seider (DET) won the Calder, and Patrice Bergeron (BOS) won another Selke. The list of award winners, plus those named to the First and Second All-Star teams, can be found here.

JIM GREGORY FINALISTS ANNOUNCED: During the NHL Awards Show, the NHL revealed this year’s finalists for the Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year Award to be Joe Sakic of the Colorado Avalanche, Chris Drury of the New York Rangers, and the Lightning’s Julien BriseBois. The league will announce the winner during the NHL Draft in Montreal. 

OILERS KNOCK ON WOOD-CROFT: Yesterday, Edmonton extended Jay Woodcroft’s contract through the 2024-25 season to remain the head coach. Woodcroft replaced Dave Tippet on Feb. 10, leading the Oilers to a 26-9-3 record and a trip to the Western Conference Final. 

Live Reaction: NHL Awards Show

Last night ESPN aired the NHL Awards as fans anxiously waited to hear the winner of various categories, including the Hart and Calder Trophies. The hour-long broadcast showcased some great presenters like Chris Snow and his family, who presented the Norris Trophy. If you missed the show, then no worries. We have you covered in real time! Let’s get started. 

7:00 p.m. – Why is the NHL hosting their award show in a high school auditorium? Gary Bettman said the NHL made a lot of money this year, which leads me to ask who was in charge of the budget for this event? I can’t blame Connor McDavid for sitting this one out. 

7:02 p.m. – Host Kenan Thompson could have used a laugh track behind him because the intimate audience does not seem overly amused during his somewhat cringy opening monologue. The one joke that appeared to land was, “no fighting tonight. This is the NHL Awards, not the Oscars.” Ooh, burn! 

7:08 p.m. – Igor Shesterkin is just like us—he buys his headbands off Amazon (thank you, Emily Kaplan). To the surprise of no one, he takes home the Vezina Trophy. The goaltender begins his speech by saying he does not speak English very well, and they still hit the kid with the “wrap it up” music. For shame!

7:24 p.m. – Moritz Seider wins the Calder Trophy by a landslide! The 21-year-old begins by saying, “I didn’t prepare a speech, so I’m just gonna go with the flow.” He gets a great laugh from the crowd when he says his parents just got back from Croatia, and they thought it was more important to go on vacation. I am officially a Seider fan. 

7:27 p.m. – Still questioning why the NHL decided to hold the show at a Marriott hotel event space

7:37 p.m. – The Ted Lindsey Award goes to Auston Matthews, making him the first player in Toronto Maple Leafs’ history to receive the honors. His speech was short and sweet, but according to hockey Twitter, his sister stole the show. 

7:48 p.m. – So let me get this straight, Roman Josi finished with more first-place votes than Cale Makar, but Makar won the Norris Trophy? There is an argument that Josi got robbed, but honestly, apples and oranges. Both players had an outstanding regular season, so there is no wrong answer—unless you’re a Predators fan. 

7:58 p.m. – Auston Matthews takes home the Hart Trophy as league MVP. I guess that is what happens when you score 60 goals. Congrats, Papi! 

8:00 p.m. – I want to thank the NHL for promptly ending on time and allowing Thompson to deliver the best line of the night, “it’s nice to see the Leafs winning something in June.”

Coaching Carousel Catch Up

Tuesday was news-heavy for the NHL—not just from an awards watch standpoint. The Edmonton Oilers removed Jay Woodcroft’s “interim” tag and locked him in for the next three years, while the Dallas Stars made their hiring of Pete DeBoer official. Suddenly, vacancies around the league are drying up, and hopeful coaching candidates are running short on options.

With that in mind, it seems like a good time to check in on where the coaching carousel currently stands:

Boston Bruins

Jim Montgomery’s second chance could come in Beantown (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Reports that the Bruins are looking for someone “newer and fresher” tend to rule out the Barry Trotzs of the world. Early reports connect Boston to Jay Leach and Jim Montgomery, who would fit the bill. If they opt to go elsewhere, Joe Sacco served as an assistant under Bruce Cassidy in Boston, and Toronto Maple Leafs special teams guru Spencer Carbery previously coached with the AHL’s Providence Bruins.

Detroit Red Wings

The Red Wings have cast a wide net in their search for a replacement for Jeff Blashill, interviewing the likes of Trotz, David Quinn, and Rick Tocchet. However, one might expect that Steve Yzerman will stick with what he knows. That puts Tampa Bay assistants, Jeff Halpern and Derek Lalonde, along with former Stars bench boss Rick Bowness, at the front of the line. Of course, that means we may not know much about Detroit’s direction until the Stanley Cup Final is over.

Winnipeg Jets

Trotz in the Peg makes almost too much sense not to happen (Photo Credit: Andy Martin Jr)

It seems like Trotz or bust in Winnipeg, with Kevin Cheveldayoff and the Jets hoping to bring the Manitoba native home. For all the questions surrounding the club this summer, it would feel nice to nail the first big move of the offseason. As for Trotz, who wouldn’t want free beers for life??

The Interims

Interim situations remain in Florida and Chicago, where the Panthers are still likely to reward Andrew Brunette with the full-time job (although they are interviewing candidates to keep their options open). Meanwhile, the Blackhawks are taking their time with Derek King serving as a placeholder.

Responding to a Replacing

After the host Colorado Avalanche won Game 1 of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final in overtime and destroyed the Tampa Bay Lightning in a Game 2 shutout, the Lightning bounced back in a big way, routing the Avalanche 6-2 in Tampa on Monday night. 

Colorado starting goaltender Darcy Kuemper gave up five goals on 22 shots before being replaced by Pavel Francouz after 31:11 of action. The Avalanche will be hoping that the 32-year-old Kuemper bounces back, playing more as he did in Game 2 for the remainder of the series. They can look to these last three goalies to be pulled in the middle of a Stanley Cup Final game for precedent.

Anton Khudobin, Dallas Stars (Game 3, 2020)

Khudobin started the 2020 Stanley Cup Final on the right foot, stopping 35 shots in a 4-1 Stars victory over the Lightning. The next game was less stellar, as he gave up three goals on 31 shots in a loss. Game 3 was even worse for the veteran, allowing five Tampa goals on 29 shots before being pulled for Jake Oettinger after two periods in a 5-2 Lightning win.

Anton Khudobin couldn’t quite match counterpart Andrei Vasilevskiy in a rough 2020 Final, which included a Game 3 benching (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Khudobin responded the next game and stayed in the entire time but again gave up five goals in an overtime loss. With the Stars facing elimination, the 34-year-old put up a solid Game 5 performance, making 39 saves in a 3-2 double-overtime victory. He allowed two goals again in Game 6, although Andrei Vasilevskiy outplayed him in a shutout loss.

Jordan Binnington, St. Louis Blues (Game 3, 2019)

The year before, Binnington and the Blues faced off against the veteran-laded Boston Bruins. After giving up three goals in a Game 1 loss and two more in a Game 2 win, the rookie had a rough go of it in Game 3. He allowed five goals on 19 shots before being replaced by Jake Allen 32:13 into the game. St. Louis went on to lose 7-2.

Rookie Jordan Binnington rebounded from being pulled in Game 3 of 2019 Final and helped the Blues win the Cup (AP Photo/Bill Boyce)

Bennington bounced back from the nightmarish Game 3. Aside from a Game 6 loss in which he gave up four goals, the 25-year-old was exceptional, allowing just two goals in a Game 4 win and one goal in a Game 5 victory, then made 32 saves in a 4-1 Game 7 triumph that secured St. Louis the Stanley Cup.

Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators (Game 2 & Game 5, 2017)

Rinne and the Predators quickly fell into a hole during the 2017 Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The veteran goalie saw just 11 shots in Game 1 but allowed four of them by him in a 5-3 loss. He then gave up four goals on 25 shots in the first 43:28 of a 4-1 Game 2 loss before being relieved by Juuse Saros.

Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Nashville and Rinne bounced back with two gems, as the 35-year-old stopped 27 of 28 shots in a 5-1 Game 3 win and 23 of 24 shots in a 4-1 Game 4 success. But the rough waters returned in Game 5 when Rinne was again given the hook, this time after allowing three goals in 20 minutes. Pittsburgh would win 6-0 and finish the series with a 2-0 Game 6 victory.

Stanley Cup Playoffs Bracket

Stanley Cup Playoffs Leading Scorers

Stanley Cup Final Schedule