NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 20, 2021

by | Feb 20, 2021 | News, NHL | 17 comments

Recaps of Friday’s action, the Avalanche and Golden Knights prepare for today’s outdoor game at Lake Tahoe, Sidney Crosby addresses his future as he approaches his 1000th career NHL game, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.


NHL.COM: A four-goal first period powered the Florida Panthers to a 7-2 romp over the Detroit Red Wings. Aleksander Barkov and Keith Yandle each had three points, Patric Hornqvist scored twice and Jonathan Huberdeau picked up two assists. The Panthers (24 points) sit in first place in the Central Division, one point up on the Carolina Hurricanes.

Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane (NHL Images).

Speaking of the Hurricanes, they extended their points streak to five games (4-0-1) by defeating the Chicago Blackhawks 5-3. Nino Niederreiter scored twice and collected an assist for Carolina while Patrick Kane factored in each goal (one goal, two assists) for the Blackhawks, who sit one point behind the Hurricanes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane has to be considered among the early favorites for the Hart Memorial Trophy. He’s definitely been the Blackhawks’ MVP this season. They wouldn’t be jockeying with the Panthers, Hurricanes and Tampa Bay Lightning for the top spot in the division without Kane powering their offense.

The Edmonton Oilers won the latest chapter in the Battle of Alberta by edging the Calgary Flames 2-1. Oilers goaltender Mike Smith made 20 saves for his fourth win since his season debut earlier this month. Jesse Puljujarvi and Gaetan Haas tallied for the Oilers while Rasmus Andersson replied for the Flames.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I was really looking forward to this contest but it lacked the usual fireworks we’ve come to expect whenever these two clubs meet.

Winnipeg Jets backup Laurent Brossoit turned in a 29-save shutout as his club blanked the Vancouver Canucks 2-0. Jets center Mark Scheifele scored to extend his points streak to nine games. The Jets (21 points) sit one back of the second-place Oilers in the North Division.


Marc-Andre Fleury will be in goal for the Vegas Golden Knights when they tangle later today with the Colorado Avalanche in the Bridgestone NHL Outdoors Saturday game at Lake Tahoe, Nevada. It’s the first outdoor contest for the Golden Knights in franchise history.

Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog will return to the lineup for this contest after coming off the COVID-19 protocol list on Wednesday. Defenseman Cale Makar (upper-body injury) will be a game-day decision.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Sidney Crosby reaffirmed his desire to finish his career with the Penguins. “I love playing here, and this is where I’d love to play for the rest of my career,” said Crosby, adding“I can’t really control what’s said or rumors and things like that.” Crosby will play his 1000th NHL game tonight against the New York Islanders.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crosby was referring to recent media speculation about his future with the Penguins if the club’s new management decides to rebuild. That doesn’t appear to be their intention. It’s worth remembering that he has four years remaining on his contract with a full no-movement clause giving him full control over his situation.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: A lower-body injury could keep center David Krejci from traveling with the Bruins for Sunday’s outdoor game against the Philadelphia Flyers.

TSN: Buffalo Sabres head coach Ralph Krueger believes his club’s fragile psyche is the reason behind their inability to score goals. “They’re fragile right now,” he said. “They don’t believe in themselves and they don’t see themselves celebrating.” The Sabres opened the season 4-4-2 and has dropped three straight since resuming their schedule after it was postponed for two weeks by an outbreak of COVID-19 among their players.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres are a mess despite their front-office purge and several notable roster changes during the offseason. That sparked recent speculation about captain Jack Eichel’s future in Buffalo. Bigger changes could be in store for the Sabres if they miss the playoffs again. Whether those adjustments would involve their franchise player is anyone’s guess right now.

Meanwhile, Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen revealed to a Finnish newspaper that he suffered chest pains and significant drops of oxygen levels when he was sidelined by COVID-19. He was cleared to resume skating on Wednesday but has yet to return to action. He spent a team-high two weeks on the COVID protocol list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping Ristolainen can resume his playing career without any adverse aftereffects from the coronavirus.

NHL.COM: The St. Louis Blues announce forward Ivan Barbashev was placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury. He’s expected to be sidelined for six weeks.

The league also rescheduled March 28th’s game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Carolina Hurricanes to today. The Hurricanes game against the Blackhawks today has been postponed and will be rescheduled at a later date.

TSN: The number of players on the NHL’s COVID protocol list dropped to 11 names yesterday. Six of those are members of the Philadelphia Flyers.

THE DETROIT NEWS: Long-time Red Wings masseur Sergei Tchekmarev passed away yesterday at age 65. He’d been with the Wings since 1998.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Tchekmarev’s family, friends and the Red Wings’ organization.


  1. Lyle, a question (if it’s already been answered earlier, my apologies):

    Should a team from the North (Canadian) Division – say, the Leafs – make it to the Stanley Cup finals would their opposition need to quarantine each time they crossed the border? Or would the Leafs need to play all their games in the U.S.?

    With the growing concern over the rapid spread of the Covid variants I really can’t see the feds agreeing to any relaxation of the quarantine rules for a hockey team. Right now the Raptors are required to play all their games in the U.S. for that very reason and I doubt there will be any relaxation of the rules for baseball when they get under way, especially with the lag in vaccine deliveries to Canada.

    • In that scenario, I believe the plan is for the two teams to play each other in one city for the entire series. It could be a neutral site or one of the two cities involving the teams in question.

      • Thanks Lyle. Since there is little likelihood of appreciable bums in the seats anyway, I’d guess they all opt for a neutral site – and in that instance U.S. or Canada – makes no difference. Probably the best choice for TV/radio coverage facilities.

        Wouldn’t that be the ultimate in cruel irony if Toronto finally hosted a Stanley Cup finals … and the Leafs weren’t in it?

      • I read a while back that once the 4 finalist are set the remaining games are to be played in the US.

      • That wouldn’t surprise me. I would just hope they’d play the series at a neutral site so that none of the 4 have any unfair “familiarity.”

  2. Can someone explain to me what depth scoring is ?
    Listening to game coverage , media etc (aside from Cassie Campbell last night for the first time) , you would be led to believe Connor and Leon score every goal Edmonton scores . They are great great players and it is rare when neither has a point , that’s not going to change and every team in the league struggles when there best players aren’t there best players .
    Let’s look at the last 10 games of this team , not Edmonton teams from prior years .
    Goals scored 39
    Connor and Leon 8
    The rest 31
    15 different goal scorers
    11 multi goal scorers
    4 guys with 3+ in that stretch not named Connor or Leon

    D men leading league in goals and points .

    That is a small sample , but it is over half the season to date !

    Even the first 9 games
    26 goals
    Connor and Leon 11
    The rest 15
    11 different scorers
    5 multi goal scorers
    2 not Connor or Leon with 3+
    That’s a little top heavy but not nearly what you hear and read .

    • Craig I’m not sure if you’re actually asking a question.

      Seem like you summed it up better good.

      You have players who are depended on to score regularity and when they don’t score then your hoping that others who don’t score regularity will provide some scoring to gain wins, when the dependent couldn’t be depended on.

    • Craig that’s just goals scored how many of the other goals were mcdavid or drasaitl a part of. Last year the scored 21 percent of Edmonton goals and assistance on over half there goals. Simply put no Mcdavid and Drasaitl and no Oilers. The other players are still NHL players so they’ll get goals here and there but there’s no other team in the league that relies on just 2 players like Edmonton. I believe I mentioned this yesterday the main focus for Edmonton should be getting these guys some help. They’ll burn out. No Puljujarvi and his 8 points in 18 games is not what I’m talking about nor is Nugent hopkins who should be a second line defensive center. Doesn’t have to be a star either because if they get the right chemistry with either mcdavid or Draisaitl they’ll make them stars.

      • Obviously without mcdavid and Leon they would be a different team with 20 million spent in other places .
        They have been getting the help , this year. As two of the best players in the world they will always have a high percentage of contribution . I disagree on both nuge and Jesse P , sounds like you want to trade to find guys doing what they are already , 5 in the last 7 for Jesse . Been getting looks all year , like nuge , just starting to go in .

      • Edmonton like the leafs have no depth in their bottom 2 lines, those lines are crucial in a series hence why the leafs haven’t won one playoff round with that group

      • Agree Craig, the Oil are getting more scoring from others. JP is starting to pot some goals consistently, Nuge was always going to start finishing, Yamo produces as well as Barrie and Nurse from the back end.
        They have been drafting better and these guys are and will contribute.
        The D core has depth now too.
        Just that whole goalie thing. Smith has been good, but for how long? We will need Koskinen to find it, I think he will.

        If any team lost their top 2 C’s or top 2 scorers it’s gonna hurt.

  3. So veterans like Eichel, Skinner and Hall now have “fragile psyches’???” Pathetic …

  4. Who did the Jets steal Brossoit from? He looked like a starter in disguise last night!

    • Henry,
      The guy has been the back up for the past 2 years

      • Thanks for the info. but that isn’t what I asked. Checked his history. Another goalie that Edmonton gave up on.

      • And he played Jr for the Oil Kings

  5. Looking forward to watching the outdoor game … should be very scenic and I believe that theses two teams will be battling in their Div finals

    Kudos to Sid on 1,000 games and silver stick… too bad there will be no fans to celebrate

    Panthers looking good….. so far