NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 21, 2021

by | Jan 21, 2021 | News, NHL | 18 comments

Recaps of Wednesday’s action, Capitals fined as four players violate the league’s COVID-19 rules, plus updates on Mika Zibanejad, Patrik Laine, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


NHL.COM: Leon Draisaitl’s third period snapped a 1-1 tie as the Edmonton Oilers downed the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1. Auston Matthews had tied the game earlier in the period before Draisaitl tallied the winning goal. Leafs center Joe Thornton is expected to miss some time after leaving the game early in the third period with an apparent wrist injury.

Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This game was hyped as a showdown between Matthews and Oilers star Connor McDavid but it turned out to be a disappointingly dull contest that failed to live up to its billing. Oilers fans will be happy with the win following back-to-back losses to the Montreal Canadiens. Leafs fans will be unhappy over their club’s disorganized performance.

Montreal Canadiens forward Tyler Toffoli’s hat trick wasn’t enough to defeat his former team as they fell 6-5 to the Vancouver Canucks in a shootout. Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat each had two goals and an assist, with Horvat also scoring the winner in the shootout frame. It was a costly win for the Canucks as defenseman Alexander Edler left the game with an upper-body injury in the second period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The return of J.T. Miller (three assists) to the lineup also played a crucial role in the Canucks’ victory. The Canadiens were their own worst enemies as their undisciplined play resulted in three power-play goals on six attempts for the Canucks. There was no post-game update on Edler’s status.

The Vegas Golden Knights rolled to their fourth straight victory by defeating the Arizona Coyotes 5-2. Alex Pietrangelo tallied his first goal with the Golden Knights while teammate Shea Theodore tallied twice and winger Alex Tuch scored and collected two assists.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pietrangelo has wasted little time adjusting to the Golden Knights after signing with them last October as a free agent. His addition to the lineup is a contributing factor to their strong start to this season.

Tomas Hertl scored the only goal in a shootout as the San Jose Sharks edged the St. Louis Blues 2-1. The Blues’ Brayden Schenn and the Sharks’ Marcus Sorensen tallied the only goals in regulation. Blues defenseman Marco Scandella missed the game with an upper-body injury.

The Minnesota Wild edged the Anaheim Ducks 3-2 on a third-period goal by Joel Eriksson Ek. Wild goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen made 22 saves in his first game of the season while Ryan Miller kicked out 29 shots.


NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The NHL fined the Capitals $100K for a violation of its health and safety protocols by four players. Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov and Ilya Samsonov recently gathered together in one hotel room without wearing proper facial coverings, which is prohibited by the league’s COVID-19 protocols for this season. Players must each have their own rooms on road trips and are not permitted to gather in each other’s rooms.

The four players were placed on the league’s COVID-19 absence list but it doesn’t mean they’ve tested positive for the coronavirus. Players can be added to the list as a precaution from possible exposure. It’s unknown if they’ll miss Friday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals and Ovechkin released statements acknowledging the incident, with the club expressing disappointment in the players’ actions and Ovechkin saying he regretted what happened and will learn from the incident.

Some observers questioned why the league is cracking down on players gathering in hotel rooms when they’re in close contact in the dressing room and on the ice during practice and games. The difference is the players stand a greater chance of catching COVID-19 away from the arenas, which are under strict health and safety controls to minimize the spread of the coronavirus.

The NHL is doing everything it can to stage a 56-game schedule in the midst of a pandemic. Its’ COVID-19 protocols follow federal guidelines in Canada and the United States. They don’t want the possibility of repeated protocol violations potentially putting the season at risk if they fail to adequately prevent or minimize community spread.

NEWSOBSERVER.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes’ next two games against the Florida Panthers have been postponed after five of their players were placed on the league’s COVID-19 protocol list.

NEWSDAY: New York Islanders winger Josh Bailey was placed on the league’s COVID-19 list.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers center Mika Zibanejad is expected to return to the lineup for Friday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Zibanejad left Tuesday’s game against the New Jersey Devils with an undisclosed ailment.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets winger Patrik Laine (upper-body injury) remains doubtful for Thursday’s game against the Ottawa Senators.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk (arm) should be ready to play tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers. He skated in practice with his teammates yesterday.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars placed defenseman Julius Honka on waivers.


  1. I just realized that with Canes missing next 2 games (Covid)…. that causes Panthers to now miss 4 of first 6 games (2 also against Stars)… so they are now already going to have to pack 4 games in later in an already tight schedule

    Just sayin’

  2. Concur Lyle… Leafs Oil game was dull

    Was hoping for (kinda expecting) something like 6-5 or 5-4

    Leafs need to pull up their socks… early in season but need to adjust

    Currently in second… but as I pointed out already; they should have lost in reg against Habs (instead of an OT win)…. that flip would have Leafs tied for 5th place in Div at 2-3; Habs would be at 3-0-1

    Season early but Leafs need to work some bugs out

    Also watched the VGKs game… 4-0 now and looking very good.

    They showed a picture of what the outdoor setting will be like for the Lake Taho Knights/Avs tilt… the setting looks very nice 👍

    • Pengy, I only saw the 3rd period, which from the sounds of it and what I read was the most entertaining.
      I’m not in the room, but I would guess you couldn’t have punched the smile off Tippett’s face.
      Exactly the type of “low event” game he has been hoping for.

      • LOL

        So right Ray

  3. A player gets his feet taken out from under him and crashes into the boards complains at the non-call gets a penalty for unsportsmalike???

    Same player gets a high stick to the face and another non-call???

    Seems like some refs don’t like KK’s smile.

  4. The commentary “Some observers questioned why the league is cracking down on players gathering in hotel rooms when they’re in close contact in the dressing room and on the ice during practice and games. The difference is the players stand a greater chance of catching COVID-19 away from the arenas, which are under strict health and safety controls to minimize the spread of the coronavirus” is a complete farce!
    If it’s OK to sit next to a player on the bench, sit next to them in the dressing room, celebrate on the ice, get up close when checking or holding them against the boards, get in close to fight, be on a plane with them, bus with them, eat with them, go in an elevator with them, why can’t they socialize?
    A virus doesn’t care where you are – it will do what it does regardless of the venue. This is NHL optics, pure and simple. Ovi knows this as does anyone else who has read his heartfelt apology, which was clearly written with his middle finger.

    • Nick i have to agree, 4 players from the same team gathering in their hotel room seem to be a stretch.

      Generally they sit beside each other for a couple hours while on the bench.

      Score a goal 5 guys full a sweat, yelling, and hugging each other as Saliva fly’s around.

      • 2-3 hours in a small hotel room, 2-3 hours in a cavernous arena is hardly the same thing.

        The league established rules and guidelines, follow them or go home.

      • habfan30 explain the medical difference? 4 guys who are negative gather in a room; what all of a sudden become positive?

      • Don’t forget – there is the pre-game warm up, sitting next to each other in the dressing room, being shoulder to shoulder on the bench for 3 periods, two intermissions in the dressing room, post-game showers etc…

        Smoke and mirrors – but, I do have to concede to habfan30 that yes, they did agree to the protocols. However flawed they are.

      • As been said, they have all agreed to all the conditions to be allowed to play. It’s incorrect to assume the same activities are happening in a private hotel room with jocks than a locker room. The bottom line is this: they agreed, they should adhere to it…plus I doubt any of them or the general public knows more than doctors or health experts who actually studied this crap officially for years not just some blurb on some site that validates your misguided notion. When the doubters and misbelievers can prove that they are more knowledgable or give reason to listen and trust them, then I’ll listen.

    • The league didn’t actually crack down on the players, though. They cracked down on the team. The league had a choice here. Each player could have been fined up to a max of 10,000 dollars so if they had fined the players individually, it would have been a total combined fine of 40,000 dollars. Instead, they chose to make a bigger statement and fined the team 100,000 dollars.

    • Agree it sounds a little like over kill with the room stuff. But I wouldn’t call it a complete farce either.
      I think the point Lyle was making is that the hotels don’t have the same protocols that the arena’s do for managing everyone’s behavior and cleaning processes.

      Yes they are tested regularly, but they don’t assume everyone is negative because of that. They assume one or more of them are positive.
      We have seen positives and Covid cases already, we will see more. You won’t know they are until you find out they are. These guys were at home before they went on the road, it takes a few days from exposure to test positive and contract the disease. Anyone in their families go to work, shopping, school? Were the guys in the room the same guys they sit next to on the bench, in the dressing room? Same lines or different?

      This is simply about lowering the risk and taking every precaution to give the league the best chance of having a season. Which is the whole point of this. They need to draw a line somewhere, and this is where it is. It’s not like they didn’t consult other leagues or health professionals and just drew this up on a napkin in an hour.

      I think Ovie was genuine in his apology. He is an important player and I think they expect to make the playoffs and go on a run. Hate to have 4 guys out because of that and cost your team points. His apology was as much to his team mates as anyone I would guess.

      They knew the rules and agreed to them.

    • This is another example of government and private business applying ‘the science’ selectively. Clearly, this is ridiculous. Fining an organization where players were gathering and chatting in a hotel room. Meanwhile, these same players are allowed to gather at center ice after a game or a goal to celebrate. This has everything to do with optics and nothing to do with facts or science. I get it, but it’s still sad.

      I guess this makes sense in a world where the new US president requires masks to be worn on federal property, then violates his own executive order within hours by giving a speech at the Lincoln Memorial. The rules are applied selectively to individuals and organizations.

  5. anyone here from MA…CT

    CT for me

  6. The medical difference is a hotel is unlikely to have the same protocols as the arena.

    The medical difference is increasing or decreasing the odds.

    The medical difference is in creating a mindset of being careful and following the protocols as opposed to choosing which ones to follow and which to ignore.

    A pandemic that has a death toll to date of 416,000 in the USA and 18,500 in Canada- following the rules isn’t a guarantee, flaunting them surely doesn’t increase the guarantee.

    • habfan30, I get it, protocols. What I don’t get is the science behind protocols that allow 17 or so sweaty, heavy breathing guys to gather at center ice to jump on each other in celebration. Whereas it is a punishable offense to have 4 of those same 17 guys gathered in a hotel room 20 minutes later.

      Admit it, it’s optics. I understand why the league is doing what it is doing. It makes total sense from every angle except a scientific or “medical” one.

      I’m not a big anti masker. I just think this is dumb.

      • Randino, you don’t need to “get it” and the players don’t need to understand the science.

        I doubt very few people understand how airplanes stay in the sky but they put on their seatbelts.

        I doubt people know the science behind right hand turns on a red and why you get a ticket in some places and get honked at in others if you don’t go.

        Perhaps they get a rapid test before going in the dressing room and are all clear.

        Perhaps the hotel doesn’t have same protocols and a player was exposed when they got back….and now passes it on to the three others.

        The science is to keep the odds as low as possible, whether you understand the science or not.

        I’d venture tosay that you don’t fully understand the engineering and science behind most things you use and operate, yet you follow the rules….and they are not life or death like covid.