NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 23, 2020

by | Feb 23, 2020 | News, NHL | 70 comments

Alexander Ovechkin tallies his 700th career goal, the Toronto Maple Leafs lose to a Zamboni driver, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin became the eighth player in NHL history to score 700 career goals in a 3-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils. A power-play goal by Devils defenseman Damon Severson snapped a 2-2 tie late in the third period. With the loss, the Capitals (80 points) remain tied for first place with the Pittsburgh Penguins for first place in the Metropolitan Division, with the Penguins holding a game in hand.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin is the eighth player in NHL to score 700 career goals (Photo via NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A well-deserved milestone for The Great Eight. The next one is overtaking Mike Gartner (708) for seventh on the all-time list. The Capitals, however, have won just three of their last 10 games. With Ovechkin’s chase for 700 goals now over, perhaps it will bring about a shift in their focus.

The Penguins, meanwhile, missed an opportunity to take a two-point lead over the Capitals by dropping a 5-2 decision to the Buffalo Sabres. Jack Eichel scored twice, despite a midsection ailment preventing him from bending over to take faceoffs. Evgeni Malkin scored both Penguins’ goals. The Sabres (64 points) are eight behind the Toronto Maple Leafs, who sit third in the Atlantic Division. Earlier in the day, they officially terminated defenseman Zach Bogosian’s contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel has 35 goals on the season. The young Sabres captain is doing everything he can to keep the his club’s playoff hopes alive.

Speaking of the Maple Leafs, they dropped a 6-3 decision to the Carolina Hurricanes, who pressed into service 42-year-old emergency backup (and Zamboni driver) David Ayres when regular goaltenders James Reimer and Petr Mrazek were sidelined. Ayres made eight saves on 10 shots to preserve the win. The Hurricanes (74 points) moved into a tie with the Columbus Blue Jackets for the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot, holding two games in hand over the Jackets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: For Ayres, this was a moment he and his family and friends will never forget. The Hurricanes did a fine job putting him at ease, as well as checking the Leafs to a near-standstill in the third. That was perhaps the most embarrassing regular-season defeat in Leafs history. I’ll leave it to Steve Dangle to summarize this debacle.

The Philadelphia Flyers (77 points) doubled up the Winnipeg Jets 4-2, widening their lead over the New York Islanders for third place in the Metro by three points. Scott Laughton scored two goals and Justin Braun collected three assists. Following the game, the Flyers got a visit from teammate Oskar Lindblom, who’s battling Ewing’s sarcoma. “Really good, really good to see him,” said Laughton. The Jets (69 points) hold a one-point lead over the Nashville Predators and Calgary Flames for the final Western Conference wild-card berth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Lindblom in his ongoing treatments. Here’s hoping he make a full recovery.

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price turned in a 30-save shutout to blank the Ottawa Senators 3-0. Max Domi scored twice for the Habs (66 points), putting them six behind the Leafs in the Atlantic. Senators defenseman Thomas Chabot left the game with an injured left leg in the first period, but coach D.J. Smith believes it wasn’t anything serious.

The New York Rangers also kept their playoff hopes alive by edging the San Jose Sharks 3-2. Jesper Fast scored twice and Igor Shesterkin kicked out 44 shots for the Rangers (70 points), who’ve won seven of their last eight contests and sit just four points out of a wild-card berth in the East. Joe Thornton scored both goals for the Sharks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers’ surge of late raises questions over whether GM Jeff Gorton will be a seller at the trade deadline. Until recently, it was assumed he’d start peddling some pending free agents like Fast and Chris Kreider. That might not be a certainty now.

Conor Garland and Clayton Keller each scored twice as the Arizona Coyotes upset the Tampa Bay Lightning 7-3. With 70 points, the Coyotes hold the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Earlier in the day, they revealed defenseman Jakob Chychrun could miss multiple games with a hip injury. Meanwhile, goaltender Darcy Kuemper was assigned to their AHL affiliate on a conditioning stint.

The Columbus Blue Jackets are winless in eight straight games after dropping a 4-3 shootout decision to the Nashville Predators. Jusse Saros turned aside 40 shots for the Predators while Rocco Grimaldi netted the game-winning goal. The Predators (68 points) sit one back of the Jets for the final Western wild-card berth.

Tyler Toffoli scored his first two goals with the Vancouver Canucks in a 9-3 thrashing of the Boston Bruins. J.T. Miller also collected three assists for the Canucks (72 points), who sit two behind the Pacific Divison-leading Vegas Golden Knights. Bruins winger David Pastrnak scored twice and leads the league with 45 goals. The Bruins remain the overall league leaders with 90 points.

The Golden Knights, meanwhile, picked up their fifth straight win by defeating the Florida Panthers 5-3. Reilly Smith scored twice and Marc-Andre Fleury made 32 saves for Vegas. The Panthers (70 points) remain two behind the Leafs. They’ve won just three of their last 11 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers are blowing a golden opportunity to pass the struggling Leafs and secure a grip on the final playoff spot in the Atlantic. They’re also in danger of being overtaken by the Canadiens and Sabres.

Joonas Donskoi’s shootout goal gave the Colorado Avalanche a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. The Avs (79 points) sit one back of the St. Louis Blues for first place in the Western Conference. Earlier in the day, the Kings re-signed Martin Frik to a two-year contract extension.


  1. It’s better the Leafs lost , can you imagine the controversy if they had won.
    Carolina showed the Leafs how to play together as a team. They really protected their goalie.
    At the start I don’t think the Leafs wanted to embarrass Ayres . Well that worked, they embarrassed themselves

    • LOVE THIS sooooo accurate !!!

      DUBAS has signed David Ayers to a 4 year 11.5 million dollar per year contract!

      As the back up !

    • I am in need of a kidney and be of the things my team told me was that contact sports were over for me. Then I see a 42 year old transplant recipient play goalie in a NHL game. I am in awe of this guy and thank him for living his best life.

      It seems it’s buried in all the hoopla but this is to me a big deal.

      Lots of people need kidneys. I am working hard to raise awareness.

      • Please contact Lyle for my contact info, Jason.
        I’d like to see if I can help.

        Thanks in advance, Lyle.

  2. 3 games in 4 nights ending with a back to back on the road was a tough spot for a for the Bruins ….

    • Good morning ..( sarcasm )

      I will no longer be discussing anything Leafs here for the rest of this year this is my last post ……thats it for me …I dont care what they do ..DUBAS has made the poorest and most stubborn decisions I have ever seen a GM make over the past 2 years…

      We all know that Barrie is on the block ..and the fact that he played last night and almost got hurt was an absolute JOKE …he is your #1 . 2 commodity to help improve this joke of a team and he is out there playing …what a JOKE!
      This team deserves everything it gets from Tavares to Dubas….bunch of wussies !
      BIG TIME WUSSIES! …Ya Dubas go out and trade a 6 foot 2 player for a 5 foot 9 player ina playoff drive ..BLAHAHAHAHA! Skil skil skils …yes look where it got ya skill skil skil ..cant even beat a Zamboni driver to win a crucial game !

      No heart no will no determination..NO TEAM IS SCARED TO PLAY THE Leafs

      I look forward to discussing hockey with everyone as I LOVE the game …but done with Leaf posts …

      If Dubas trades for Stetcher Ghostisbeir or Julolevi I will not watch another game.

      I can see Bogosian not even wanting to play for these guys either and he is fighting for an NHL career…LMAO !

      I really do not know what to say other than what GEORGE says ….I TOLD YOU SO !

      These guys suck !!!…. Dubas is a joke !

      Send a BIG message and send pretty boy Nylander packing and START THERE should never had been signed they needed a REAL D MAN LONG AGO instead !


      GO PENS GO !

      • Kal El

        You spelled it wrong (or cut it short

        You had




        Pinball to replace Dubas?

      • @ PENGY

        Bring back Hunter if he even accepts !

        Iam serious !

      • Well, he did “bolster” the Marlies F by trading D-man Harpur for some guy named Miikka Salomäki from the Nashville system.

        Or was that – as Chrisms suggested the other day – the initiative of the assistant GM? Who is that anyway?

      • Well George. The assistant gm is a guy who provides assistance to the gm.

      • Chrisms


        Dwight Shrute?

      • LOL. I meant his name wise-acre. Dammit, left myself wide open for that … by the way, that’s some “assistance” … with help like that from supposedly your friends on a day your team LOSES TO A ZAMBONI DRIVER you don’t need any enemies – an enema maybe

      • Nice one Chrisms …, LOL

        Dwight Shrute??

      • Who?

      • Hi Chrisms

        Dwight Shrute (Rainn Wilson) from “The Office”

        Who oft’ claimed he was “The Assistant General Manager” when in fact he was the “ Assistant” TO the General Manager

      • Ah.

      • Pridham is the assistant gm in Toronto, his primary job is cap management. He’s the genius that keeps the Leafs cap compliant while Dubas takes the credit or I should say media gives the credit to Dubas

      • Now THAT’S interesting!

    • Needed Rask to steal one.

      Bruce made a mistake, pulling him and sending a tired Halak in net for relief.
      He should have stayed and finished it.

      Bad look coddling Rask, still.

      Trade him and Kuraly. 😐

  3. Well oh well oh well

    I was at last night’s game

    I’m not sure which statement is grammatically correct so I will state both

    It was the worst waste of $700 I’ve ever had???

    It was the best waste of $700 I’ve ever had???

    Suffice to say ….. $700 wasted

    Only one Leaf tried ; he had some ten-bellers and took the loss


    There were chants from one section late in the third “Go Panthers Go. Go Panthers Go

    The only saving grace on the night is that Fleury had some great saves and Montenbault let in a couple of easy ones…. so Leafs stay (as at now) in playoffs

    Re…the Clifford hit on Mrazek… we’re centre ice a half dozen rows up from ice and opposite side ; in real time it looked like Clifford literally tried to knock his head clear off his shoulders. All around us they were saying “minimum 10 game suspension”…. because they wouldn’t show a replay; there was originally no way to tell. We’re all trying to see if there was a clip on the internet. At the time there wasn’t. They then reduced it to 2 mins so we knew it wasn’t as bad as what it looked real time

    Watched it when I got home. Hell of a collision and proper call at 2 min. IMHO . I guess the league will review it anyway due to the head contact and Mrazek ending his game there

    If Leafs play like last night; against Panthers ….. forgeddaboudit


    • @ PENGY

      Sorry about your waste of money !!

      Save it and go to the Caribbean !!

  4. TML: U were embarrassed on HNIC and u stunk…again….what’s worse? U appear to be ok with it. They won’t fire Keefe…nope, you’re going…not him

    So if any of you get traded for broken sticks, rolls of tape or other $ store items on Monday, don’t blame anybody else but yourself for your effort tonight.

  5. Thank you Lyle for the Steve Dangle link: Thumbs up to that !

  6. Thank you Lyle for the Steve Dangle link: Thumbs up for that !

  7. Auston Matthews: $11.6M $15.2M Signing Bonuses paid already
    John Tavares: $11M. $14.99M
    Mitchell Marner: $10.9Mistake $15.3M
    William Nylander: $6.9M $ 8.3M

    Total: $40.4M. Total: $ 53.79M Signing Bonuses already paid
    Thus no incentive to be consistent on playing for keeps. “Zero Urgency “

    • There might be something to that Antoni. That was the theory in EDM with Hall, Eberle and RNH all getting long term deals that at the time were high for what they had done.
      Hall and Ebs didn’t play with intensity or buy into the D system. RNH did.
      Now with McDavid and Draisaitl, both are producing. RNH still is.
      I guess it depends on the player and what drives them. If it is just $$, then you have a problem.

  8. This team is a reflection of Dubas a total failure

    • You were dead right two days ago in your response to my post that, if the Leafs showed the same resolve over their next 3 or 4 games as they did in the 4-0 shut-out of Pittsburgh, they’d be alright.

      You said “Nah George that’s like getting mad at the wife for not listening to what you say. She’ll start listening for awhile then it goes back to the same old after a while. It’s like lip service, it’ll take a good 20 games before I’ll believe these guys have turned the corner and are ready for the real world”

      Do you also give stock advice? 🙂

      • Hi George I coached hockey for 20 years and things haven’t changed as much as they want us to believe. Someone has a bit of success playing a certain way and everyone jumps on the band wagon. But all this has been around a long time they’ve just given everything fancy names now to make it look like it’s new and improved. The equipment has changed and probably causes as many of the injuries as the players do. As far as stocks go IPO’s George

  9. Lyle, I’m thinking that must have been one of the best lines you’ve ever written – “the Leafs lost to a Zamboni driver.”
    And that pretty well sums up the season – the sky actually is falling.

    • To me the worst part of that ugly demonstration was getting out-shot by an almost 2-1 margin by a team that was more intent on protecting a civilian plucked out of the stands.

  10. All eyes should be on Shanahan now. This is the mess he created he hired Dubas no one else did

  11. Auston Matthews: $11.6M $15.2M Signing Bonuses paid already
    John Tavares: $11M. $14.99M
    Mitchell Marner: $10.9Mistake $15.3M
    William Nylander: $6.9M $ 8.3M
    Total: $40.4M. Total: $ 53.79M Signing Bonuses already paid.
    Thus no incentive being consistent in playing for keeps. “Zero Urgency|Desperation”.
    Epic fail!

    They lost (and couldn’t score on) against a 42 year old guy 👇who made $500 👇and drives a zamboni👇and Manages Mattamy Athletic Centre.
    Dangle link just elevated my blood pressure and 💯 done as a TML fan period full stop.😡😡😡😡😡😡😡😡

  12. 1. Strip Tavares of the captaincy. Barrie gets steamrolled into boards and looks like injury….Tavares comes in with a three finger push. That taught him a lesson not mess with his teammate. On the bench glazed and confused. On the ice fearful and disengaged. Unable to motivate a cockroach.

    2. Strip Marner of the “A”. Period at the end of that sentence. No explanation needed.

    3. Put a picture of David Ayres driving the Zamboni in the Leafs dressing room above everyone’s locker, as a reminder that they are now officially recorded in history as the laughing stock of all professional hockey.

    • Frank

      Obvious # 4

      Every Leaf player (Exception Freddy) must watch Dangle clip in front of friends and family…. and answer questions after

    • @Frank: Hey the ” A ” on Marner’s sweater can stay IF they add the letter “S” x 2

  13. After a great move signing Tavares for less than market value… a true top line player… Dubas failed to send one of his offensive assets, chiefly Marner, for defensive help. He could have brought back a legit top pair.. something that was not available in ufa.

    • The was the start of the end! They didn’t need scoring and to waste 11 million on Tavares who is no leader which everyone saw in NY! If 11 million is below market value for a declining one dimensional forward that’s crazy

  14. OK ,,, Finally, the facts are coming out, about Dubais, as per the above, and people everywhere, in disbelief – with this menace..
    Shanahan seems to be in his corner, How long will he honestly last, before getting kicked to the curb.
    Something about this organization, its frightening- it’s deja vu all over again…
    Gord Stellick, John Ferguson Jr… complete ‘flops’, embarrassing is an understatement..
    Why did Lamorello and Hunter walk, after Dubais was appointed..
    I really do believe , Dubais is the biggest failure, of all time…
    Trust me , this team will be in a total rebuild mode, in the not too distant future,, pending who the next GM might be, but surely, Shanahan realizes, he can’t keep this guy around.
    The fans will run him out of town, as they did – Ron Wilson, hopefully sooner than later !
    Now, we are starting from scratch, once again.
    I guess Fletcher, was their only legitimate GM, from what I can remember.
    Raptors have a GM, WITH KNOWLEDGE AND PASSION FOR THE GAME, as did the Blue Jays, during their era- with Pat Gillick…
    We all know where the problem lies. Shanahan might have to go as well, if he supports this guy .

  15. Wendel17Higgins – still think they’re going to be fine and “surge into the playoffs?”

    • @ GEORGE O


      And no first round pick either !


      • To be fair Kal-El, it was certainly “one of those nights” in the NHL … not just for the Leafs embarrassing loss but the fact the top two teams in the league – Tampa Bay and Boston – were on the receiving end of serious s+&t-kickings out west.

      • Hi George

        Adding to ur post

        The top 4 NHL teams (in standings) ALL lost yesterday

        We’ll see who is “awake” today for the early game … Pens/Caps

        🤞🙏 That it’s Sid and the boys

    • Most talented roster in the league.
      Why, if not for all of the injuries, they’d be in first place, charging into the playoffs.

      • Well, to be fair to Wendel, that was Frank who said “Your that envious of the Leafs that you write about them, wishing your team had half the talent the Leafs do.!!!! If they didn’t have injuries all season the Leafs would be head of the NHL.!!!! 100%”

        Both he and Wendel are conspicuous by their absence – would be curious to hear their take on that debacle. Maybe see it from a different angle. As Vinnie did at the opening – seeing a silver lining that no one else saw.

    • Yes I do George O. I imagine this debacle will be their reference point when they do. Also I’m from Whitby and I am gonna egg Ayers house LOL!!

  16. I solved the leaf problem!!! It’s the Media!

    The r F-ing nuts!!!

    Toronto has a bad game against Pittsburgh gets called out, Muzzin makes some comments and backs them up against Pitts next game.

    Muzzin called a leader by the media team came to play, they turned a corner now with Muzzin leading the way with his leadership.

    Then last night happens and during the 2and intermission of the Vancouver beat down of Boston they discussed if Toronto should be sellers!

    I’m like what, did I miss something, let me check the standings. No still I’m 3rd in the Atlantic holding down a playoff spot.

    The media changes their outlook of the leafs after every single win or every single loss. Their like a flag in the wind or a stool in the toilet.

    They still hold a playoff spot and see what the tdl brings or doesn’t.

    • Agree Caper, but they make big $$ on the clicks.
      More to your point, some players have to talk to the media, but it is time for the polite Crosby type canned “need to give 100%” answers and get off your phones and shut off the TV and band together.
      They are in a playoff battle and it’s not like FLA is all that, and really that is the only team they have to beat. It’s like being in the mountains with your buddies, you don’t have to be faster than the grizzly, just you slowest buddy.

  17. There was decent feedback in the beginning of this day, than comes George 0,
    OMG , where did this guy come come from…
    Spector, please white out his name, seriously,
    Caper came in, another , shoreorrpark, go onto southpark and finish watching your episode..

    There is a video, out there…
    Steve Dangle goes off on Leafs, over the Zambonin driver loss, PLEASE WATCH..
    As per the dumb remarks , later on here, as per Leaf injuries etc….its a joke, LEAFS have the worse DEFENSE in the league !!!
    They blew their brains out, with half of their salary cap, handed out to 4 players…
    Do the math, Leafs have 42 million dollars to satisfy 16 players needs – smoke on that one

    • And you have added what, exactly? Don’t look now but Lyle already posted a link to Dangle.

      Forgive us, Ken, for simply having fun with the “exploits” of a team that set themselves up for ridicule. Next time, should I ask your permission before posting?

    • Ken everything you said in your post been discussed, mocked, resolved over and over again.

      We all know who getting paid and their main concern is on d.

      You say Dubas need to go and maybe Shanahan. Why wouldn’t it be Shanahan first? He had is plan and decided to go with the kid who first emphasis is on analytics and doesn’t seem to be working out so well for him at the moment.

    • I’m seriously offended, Ken.
      I’ve never watched an episode of South Park in my life.

      • You should start Shoreorrpark. Seriously funny sometimes. Often relevant to the times as well.

      • Is Kenny still dying?

      • Nope George. He’s now posting belligerent stuff on internet hockey boards. It’s a step down.

      • With you shoreparkorr, other then one part I walked by. The baby kept saying Mom, mom, mom, mom over and over, while his mother was napping on the couch until she woke up and said “what” and the baby said “Hi” and giggled as he walked away. For me that way so funny and relatable.

  18. Not me George. There’s another Frank possibly posting. This is not a team I would say is a top team. Built on four players who take almost 50% of the cap and others who can’t hit, forecheck, backcheck, or score.

    When you lose to a zamboni driver, it should be the team, coaching staff, GM and president that should be wearing paper bags, not the fans.

  19. I agree with almost all the comments here.

    However One big move changes everything trade Marner for Top Dman.

    Changes culture in room and changes complexion of the team. If they can’t make this trade sell hard!

    I also agree with the multiple post saying their done as leafs fans. If they don’t make drastic changes at the deadline I am done! If it is major trade i.e. marner for Dman I am happy if it sell most players for assets I am happy. It has to be major team overhaul or Dubas needs to be fired before 11pm Monday

    I am not saying Campbell is the next Pat Roy but I think they should give him another 4 games in a row see how team responds.

  20. All those that are saying you are done… your not. Toronto doesn’t have it in them to actually be real fans and tune them out and stay away. When tv ratings drop and seats are empty then the collective fan base has done their job to send a message. Absolutely no reason for Toronto to make changes right now.

    • You described Ottawa in a nutshell there Chrisms. More empty seats than filled (except for last night when the Habs were in town – every die-hard Habs fan from Orleans to Trois Pistoles were there – hell, if they could play the Leafs and Habs 20 times each at home there’d be no attendance problems).

      And hey, Pengy, move to the capital – you could have had two good seats for about $125 – far better than $700!

      • LOL

    • @Chrism

      About changing teams. I know I am not true leafs if I do this lol and I will still tune in to see what they are doing cuz that’s who comes on tv in our market.

      My father in-law is huge Boston fan we hang out once or twice a month to watch hockey. I got my B’s sweater on order in case dubas keeps this up come monday

  21. Hi Caper, Tattenbaum signed Shanahan, I think for another 5 years, not that he can’t still be terminated, but I doubt it.
    I do not like making derogatory remarks, as per the listeners, on this site, but it gets to the point, where do you go, with this Saturday night live performance !
    Biggest Joke in Sports History, there will be a disney “flick”or a slapshot movie, down the road, especially if the Hurricanes, after last nights game , turns them into contenders, and not pretenders…
    Hurricanes are very, very well coached, big time under-rated is Brind’Amour !!!
    I would love to see them make the playoffs and make some noise !
    This game is definitely an adrenaline boost, but they don”t have a clear number 1 goalie ?
    Anderson out of Ottawa, has been discussed, but is he the guy, who knows,,, New York has something to offer , maybe even Lunquist ?
    I am a huge Brind’Amour supporter,as a player and a coach, not necessarily a Carolina fan.
    My Leaf days, are almost over…
    Pengy had to dish out 700$ last night to witness this humiliation!

    I t will come to the point, as with Ron Wilson, the fans , media – tim and sid.. Dangle, BUTTON – has already spealed off !!!! Simmons from the Star likes to be negative !
    It’s only a matter of time !!!!

  22. My buddy and I (oldtimers team-mates for years: he can play, I can’t) have just dissected the latest Leaf embarassment (again!) and, like Bob above, feel that the players may be bigger, stronger, faster (and wealthier) but the game hasn’t really changed that much.
    The forwards still need to cover for the defence if they pinch. The forwards still need to backcheck to neutralize odd-man rushes. The forwards still need to position themselves in the defensive zone to give the defence men an easy target for the first pass. The forwards need to work as hard, if not harder, when the other team has the puck.
    And, above all else, every player needs to play for his team-mates, not for himself.
    The game hasn’t really changed and the best teams do all of the above almost all the time, especially down the stretch and in the playoffs.
    Ordinary teams and bad teams tend to pick their spots – we were bad on Tuesday, we’ll play the right way on Thursday – OK that was good, we’ll take Saturday off – oh well, there’s always next Tuesday, etc.
    There’s a team in Toronto that plays the right way and doesn’t take nights off. It isn’t the Leafs.

    • I strongly agree with all of this, BC LesfFan.

  23. Absolutely hated the takedown of Pasta last night after he scored a breakaway goal …..nothing was done about it

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