NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 27, 2021

by | Feb 27, 2021 | News, NHL | 37 comments

Recaps of Friday’s action plus the latest on Auston Matthews, Jack Eichel, Vladimir Tarasenko and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Two goals in 12 seconds by Colin Blackwell and Chris Kreider lifted the New York Rangers to a 6-2 drubbing of the Boston Bruins in front of 1,800 fans at Madison Square Garden. Ryan Strome had a goal and two assists for the Rangers. Bruins’ captain Patrice Bergeron scored to collect his 889th career point, surpassing Bobby Orr for fifth on the club’s all-time points list while linemate Brad Marchand netted his 300th career goal. The Bruins have dropped four of their last five contests.

Minnesota Wild forward Kirill Kaprizov (NHL Images).

The Minnesota Wild picked up their fifth straight victory by downing the Los Angeles Kings 3-1, snapping the latter’s six-game win streak. Wild rookie Kirill Kaprizov scored his fifth of the season and leads the Wild and all NHL rookie skaters with 16 points in 17 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kaprizov must be considered the favorite to win the Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year. The smooth-skating 23-year-old is very entertaining to watch and a big reason why the Wild are playing so well of late.

Nazem Kadri had a goal and two assists as the Colorado Avalanche held off the Arizona Coyotes 3-2. Mikko Rantanen had a goal and an assist while rookie goalie Hunter Miska made 16 saves for this first NHL win.

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews is listed as day-to-day with an injured hand. Goaltender Frederik Andersen (lower-body injury) was on the ice yesterday ahead of Leafs practice while winger Joe Thornton and defenseman Jake Muzzin joined their teammates in practice.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews’ injury is reportedly considered a minor issue. He and his teammates are slated to meet the Edmonton Oilers tonight.

ESPN.COM: Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury while goaltender Linus Ullmark is expected to miss at least two games with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel’s absence could force Sabres coach Ralph Krueger to insert Jeff Skinner into the lineup. The struggling winger was a healthy scratch for the club’s last three games.

STLTODAY.COM: Vladimir Tarasenko could soon return to the Blues’ lineup before the club’s six-game road trip ends on March 8. The 29-year-old winger has been recovering from offseason shoulder surgery but is taking part in practice with his teammates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues have struggled of late so the return of their top sniper should provide a welcome boost to their offense. They’ll have to do some juggling with their salary cap space to make room for his $7.5 million annual salary-cap hit when he comes off long-term injury reserve.

THE ATHLETIC: Jim Rutherford told Pierre LeBrun he’s ready to work in the NHL only a month after suddenly stepping down as general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Rutherford insists he was “treated great” by the Penguins and has no regrets. He also said he has no geographical limitations on where he’d like to work.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford has a solid reputation around the NHL as one of the savviest general managers in the business. I doubt he’ll be unemployed for long.

NHL.COM: Former Montreal Canadiens general manager Irving Grundman passed away on Friday at age 93 following a short illness. He was the Habs GM from 1978-79 to 1982-83, winning the Stanley Cup in his first season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Grundman’s family, friends, and the Canadiens’ organization. During his tenure as GM he drafted future Hall-of-Famers Chris Chelios and Guy Carbonneau, as well as such noteworthy players as Mats Naslund, Craig Ludwig and Mike McPhee.


  1. As a Penguins fan, I wish Jim Rutherford the best of luck in landing a job with the Capitals or the Flyers.

    • If Rutherford could speak French,he d be on his way to Montreal now.

    • If he lands with the flyers he’ll decimate the team! After winning back to back cups first though.

    • You win the comment section today with the first and best … congratulations

    • The highest form of praise is that which comes from one’s peers. If Rutherford’s successor is some day thought of as “one of the savviest general managers in the business,” Mario will be more than happy.

      • Concur Francis

        Re Jimbo and “ one of the savviest general managers in the business,” …. that statement by no stretch of the imagination; has applied since the afternoon;of 1/7/18

    • Cliff

      Well said good Sir

      If somehow not with Flyers or Caps; will accept him taking over the helm with the Isles


      • If you would stretch your imagination any further than you do with some of your proposed trades, I’m afraid it might rupture. It’s not surprising, then, that you would discard real relative success within the confines of a salary cap and disapprove of the last 3 years of Rutherford’s. Yours would leave him and his peers in tears and jeers. The inelastic truth, though, is that Spector applied the statement today, where he says, in present tense, “Rutherford has a solid reputation around the NHL as one of the savviest general managers in the business. I doubt he’ll be unemployed for long. Didn’t you notice it? Or did you see “Pengy” where “Rutherford” was typed? That’s imagination.

      • Hi Francis

        I stand by assertion

        Jimbo’s moves and statements since 1/7/18 have proven highly detrimental ; leaving the prospect and upcoming picks’ cupboard barren for Hextall, and Pens hovering near the cap ceiling and battling for (but as at now out of) a playoff spot

        When a GM hangs his goalie out to dry; and then blames everybody but the key reason for failure against Habs; then fires 3 coaches; all instead of admitting his mistake…. that IMVHO is not a savvy GM

        He was a savvy GM a few years ago. Not now

      • The condition for winning Cups is leaving the CUP-board bare so that it can hold new Cups. Have you followed up on the picks that were made with selections traded by Rutherford? Count the games they have played in the NHL Bazal is the most regrettable loss. Maybe, you’d prefer Rutherford had assembled a collection of high draft picks that don’t win hockey games, like the Oilers have done. He didn’t hang his goalie out to dry, either. Murray has been doing that quite well without help.

        Jim didn’t blame himself because he wasn’t guilty. How many teams have been in the playoffs for 13 consecutive years? If he wanted to blame a coach, he would have fired the coach who was supposed to orchestrate and instruct, not his assistants who simply followed orders.. But Sullivan is still coaching.

        At least, he wasn’t one of those guys who preached that all bad things would go away if Jack Johnson went away. Too bad he didn’t sign John Moore for 5 years instead of JJ.

        Listen to what the newly hired guys are saying. They seem to feel they’ve inherited a team that will at least make the playoffs for yet another season. If they though taking the Job would have led to their hanging, they wouldn’t have taken it.

      • Hi Francis

        I am with you that an “all in” means you sacrifice future for now and that depletes the cupboard. No challenges there.

        That said…. you also have to make prudent moves for emptying your cupboard

        Pre 1/7/18… yep

        Post 1/7/18…. many poor moves and/or over-pays

        Yes he did hang Murray out to dry

        Pens playoff streak ended for two reasons

        Habs played well in net; yes; but the main reason is JJ. Period. No JJ; Pens win series.

        In his last 7 play-off/playin games…JJ was directly responsible for 3 Pens losses; and co-responsible for two more

        Jimbo instead of either (1) saying nothing or (2) if he was going to lay the blame publicly; lay it where it belongs; he threw Murray under the bus and fired 3 coaches. None of them were the cause of the series loss

        Don’t forget…. Habs series… Murray was 970 when JJ was off the ice

        Jimbo paid too much for Zucker because he publicly announced how much he coveted him leaving him (Jimbo) in a far worse bargaining position. Even at that ; he overpaid even more than the lowered bargaining position called for

        He re-signed his 12th best D; at a raise; 9 months before he was UFA; and when there would have been (and never would be) competing bids

        He loaded up on League min depth rather than addressing the need at 3C

        It is not that the cupboard is bare per se

        It is a bare cupboard with nothing to show for it

        He waited a year too long to buyout JJ

        Had he bought him out after the isle’s loss ; the Cap hit would have only ben $270 K (yep) in 19/20; and he’d have more space for acquisitions ; and of course; each and every Pen would have had better stats; and Pens would have made playoffs last summer (not been a playin team) and would have kept the streak alive

        Marleau acquisition… bust

        Zucker…. over paid big

        Kahun in and gone…. not a good move

        Jamie O jettison …. unwise

        Grant in and out …. same as Kahun above

        Tanev …. 6 years; for at that time; to be a 4th liner

        Signed Weber instead of Bowey

        The one trade he did win in that time …. and he did win big…. Marino

        He didn’t even call about Staal ; even though he’d already done a recent trade with Wild; and Sabres snapped him up

        For the above reasons I stand with my assertion that Jimbo is far far far from the GM he was prior to the 18/19 season

        I’m very glad Hextall is in; I’m just hoping that he (Hextall) makes all the moves w/o any influence from Burkie

        Pens do not need to acquire slow skating, los skilled; vehemouth pugilists (that Burkie takes affection to)

      • Pengy–Allow me to remind you that the Pens did make the playoffs last season. For proof, search Jack Johnson and you will find that he is credited with playing in 4 playoff games last season. That’s because the NHL counts the round-robin games and the qualifying games as playoff games.

        Another reminder: Speculative rejoinders are not valid arguments. They are simple assertions. Can you prove that the Pens would have won if not for JJ?

        Some speculation of my own: You seem to have forgotten that GMs are sometime forced into making unsavory deals to get their teams cap-compliant after giving deserving players (Guentzel) raises, or to replace a critical player (Guentzel) who has been injured.

        I’ll end with a question. If Jj was to blame for so many of the Pens’ losses, how did he finish the season at only minus-1. and why is Sullivan not reprehensible for playing him in 67 of the team’s 69 games?

      • Bazinga!

      • Hi Francis

        Only re-checking back now; sorry, very busy yesterday

        Pens did NOT make playoffs last year.

        Per NHL; player stats are counted as playoff stats; but play-in teams losing play-in series do not officially make the playoffs.

        A strange situation; but this decision was a compromise made by the NHL and NHLPA.

        “ The eight lower seeded teams in each conference play in the Qualifying Round”

        Leafs, Rangers, Panthers, Oil, Preds, Wild, Jets also did not make playoffs.

        Their players got playoff stats but the teams did not get credited with being in the playoffs

        Pens playoff streak (was longest current pre last year) now gone….

        can I prove 100% that Pens would have won w/o JJ… nope…. but using just the US justice threshold of “beyond a reasonable doubt” … yep.

        I could go on for pages but I will leave you with just 2 simple facts that boost this way beyond a “reasonable doubt”

        1) Murray was 970 with JJ off the ice v Habs; 814 with JJ on

        2) JJ direct cause of 2 losses in series…. meaning Pens at worst would have been 2-1 going into 4th game or possibly could have already swept; but the worst case scenario would be Pens needing to win 1 of last 2 with a save percentage of 970 (as per your question; win without JJ)

        Re plus minus…. don’t forget that is even strength. JJ was on ice for 10 GAs on PK (6 directly his fault); he was on the ice for 7 EN GF , 1 EN GA …. so that is a +6 counting towards his overall minus 1

        Add to that he got +3 for stepping on the ice; out of play; when Pens scored

        So setting aside the ENs and gift plus 3 for having a skate on the ice; he was minus 10

        Re Sully and being reprehensible for playing him in so many games…. I have stated that (not used the word reprehensible but certainly laid the blame (on Sully) many many many times

        His Assistant coaches begged him (and escalated this to Jimbo) not to play JJ. As you know; they were fired for being right instead of Jimbo/Sully admitting they were wrong (Jimbo subsequently lauded JJ; and said it was others to blame…. doh!)

        Once again, I conclude with (re GMJR)

        He was a savvy GM a few years ago. Not now

  2. sitting here sipping my Black Rifle coffee and thinking how the Bruins have played the last couple of nights I’m worried isnt as good as their record shows…..The D & forward support on the D is terrible, no matter how you shake it the Bruins are a one line team. Will N Ritchie ever lay the body on someone, will Fredrick stop turning the puck over…needs a LD with size who can play both ends of the ice and the PP & a scoring winger with size also who can get this team some much needed secondary scoring ……with the shortenerd season every game is a playoff game

    • I’ve wanted to try that coffee. Is it as good as I’ve heard?

      • They have many kinds you need to find the one you like … start strong work your way down

    • Joe what they need is for the guys to give a F@#K!

      The guys with size; Carlo, Coyle, Kuraly, Ritchie. Role players like Wagner need to be physical, they show zero passion.

      Cassidy wants the D to pinch, well they are and to often staying to long.

      No forward is falling back for the pinching dman.

      Time to move on from DeBust and move, sit, trade or do whatever with Wagner. His play offers absolutely nothing. He hasn’t throwing a hit all year and if he’s not hitting shouldn’t be playing.

      Only two games but show you what you have when you don’t play physical or structural hockey.

      Carlo need to develop a nasty side and quickly.

      Did I mention it’s time to move on from Debrusk?

      Great speed, nice shot, but he is a straight line player that needs to drive the net but won’t.

      • Caper .. as stated all is true Carlo is big but doesn’t play that way needs to get tougher in the D zone …. I would trade him for Nurse in a NY minute

  3. Goaltending made team look better than they are.Slump has us dealing with reality.Borderline playoff team at best.Decisions to be made as a buyer or seller.37/46 their time is ending soon.Hindsight,they are not as good as they looked earlier,or are they as bad now.Decisions to be made quickly,as soon as tomorrow s noon game with Rangers.

    • “Goaltending made them look better”dead wrong bud. 5 loses with all the injuries pile up.Not so fun look at a stat. Since he put on that sweater The Boston bruins have a losing record when Krejci is injured. It shows what a huge part of this team’s success revolves around him. As for Ritchie he isn’t as tough as I’d like but he’s not that kind of player regardless of his size and has been pretty damn good all season. Right now this mess is on Bruce as he’s been out coached through those losses. Of which he admitted last night. I definitely believe they need a big defensive D. But I have faith they will figure this out sooner rather than later. The rooks definitely got a huge lesson over the last couple games and am good with that. Get it out the way now make adjustments and get back on track.

      • Check how many 1 goal games they have won and then tell me that their goaltending hasn t been good bud!

      • The Bruins have been Dow by 3 goals 4 times this year as noted last night ….

    • Ya Bergy, tending has been average at best so far.
      I agree they weren’t as good as their record as they had some improbable comeback wins earlier. This stretch won’t continue either. They do miss Krecji and Lauzon, who has been good.

      B’s have been an average 5 on 5 team all year, last year too. They win on special teams, which is why I don’t have too high of hopes for the playoffs as fewer PP’s.
      Wonder what Sweeney has planned for the TDL. Does he think they have a chance? Should be telling.

  4. DoubleMinor – re yesterday’s discussion on Boston’s “slump” – I’d venture to say it’s ok to say they’re in one now. That was a brutal display.

    • I came here just to see what kind of abuse I’d get from you George…haha.

      Yup..they are in a slump/funk/forgot how to play hockey/throwing games because they owe somebody money.

      Whatever’s going on I hope they fox it soon!

      • As I said yesterday, DoubleMinor, the complete disruption this season of what had become well-entrenched “habit” – opposition, travel, between game activities, fewer back-to-backs and 3 in 4s, crowd involvement – it will be a very special team that avoids a slump at some stage.

        They’ll come out of this one.

  5. here’s the problem

    Coyle -4
    DeBrusk -4
    Wagner -7
    Kuraly -6

  6. I had come to accept Rangers weren’t a playoff team. They’ve played Boston well in previous games and absolutely dominated last night from start to finish. This is not to gloat about Rangers as I’m still under no illusions of going anywhere this year. But Boston looked terrible. Again, I’m not bashing them as I’d still say they’re a playoff team but I don’t get the hype on DeBrusk. IMO he is totally invisible. Looks disinterested in getting involved in any way. With talk about Virtanen in Vancouver, I’d put DeBrisk in that category for effortless play.

    • watching DeBrusk was never a fan he plays the game in the middle of the ice…..Lemieux pulled him down from behind and he did nothing….not as big as daddy but could he play with a little edge and get dirty

  7. thinking its safe to say these Bruins wont be back with team next season unless its a team friendly contract…players with salary

    Krejci…7.2 million
    Ritchie…1.4 million
    Kuraly…1.2 million
    Frederic…1 million
    Miller…1.2 million

    Kase..2.6 million
    Rask…7 million
    Halak…2.2 million….

    Carlo will probably be back …2.8 million will be looking for 4-5 million

    thats around 25 million not counting Carlo but counting Backes

    and they will lose a young DMan to Sea

    • Joeman, Ritchie, Kase, Frederick are RFAs and will be back unless traded.

      I dont see any of them being dealt and definitely not Frederick (he may get claim by Seattle)

      Rask will be resigned and if Miller knee heals he will also be resigned to league minimum.

      Boston doesn’t have a better option then Krejci and I suspect he will also be back hopefully a two year deal and obviously it will be far less money.

    • Frederic was only guy that showed some fire last night. I don’t know what his ceiling is, but the kid don’t back down from anyone.

  8. Re

    “Bruins’ captain Patrice Bergeron scored to collect his 889th career point, surpassing Bobby Orr “

    A body who surpasses the best hockey player EVER; must be dang good


  9. Re Rutherford and

    “ He also said he has no geographical limitations on where he’d like to work.“

    Europe ?

    Asia ?

    Brazilian Rainforest League?

    Nepalese High Tops League?

    Any team that gets him better have future assets to give up immediately ; and also willing to accept that Jimbo just might award a 5 year contract to that Leagues worst player ever; because his current Captain was his Grade 9 BFF; or that Jimbo will announce to the world who he covets in trade; AND publicly lauds him; and then severely over-pays for him in trade; or that he’d rather throw everybody else (but worst player in the league; who was fully to blame) under the bus for team collapse; AND fire all assistant coaches because he refuses to admit he (Jimbo) made a mistake

    My preference ; as with Cliff above; is that Jimbo immediately signs on with Flyers or Caps; AND is allowed to do business unhindered…. thus guaranteeing Pens a playoff birth


    • Could you imagine the team gmjr could build in philly with all those assets?

      • Hi Chrisms

        Since 1/7/18; the word build does not apply to Jimbo

        Jimbo needs to work for

        Norhstar Group Services Inc. ; or

        Brandenberg Industrial Services Co.