NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 8, 2021

by | Feb 8, 2021 | News, NHL | 16 comments

Recaps of Sunday’s action plus the latest injury and COVID-19 updates and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


NHL.COM: Scott Laughton tallied his first career NHL hat trick while a returning Sean Couturier scored twice and added an assist as the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Washington Capitals 7-4. Joel Farabee collected three assists for the Flyers. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin scored twice and set up two others while Tom Wilson had a four-point game.

Philadelphia Flyers forward Scott Laughton (NHL Images).

Before the game, Flyers defenseman Travis Sanheim entered the league’s COVID-19 protocol list, resulting in rapid testing of both clubs. Once those tests returned negative the game was allowed to proceed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL and NHLPA are reportedly looking into implementing more rapid testing league-wide in hope of flattening the rising COVID-19 curve among the teams. The Buffalo Sabres, Colorado Avalanche, Minnesota Wild and New Jersey Devils are currently sidelined because a number of their players are on the COVID protocol list.

A third-period goal by Chandler Stephenson lifted the Vegas Golden Knights to a 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings. Stephenson scored twice while teammate Zach Whitecloud tallied his first NHL regulation goal. Kings’ rookie Jaret Anderson-Dolan netted his first career NHL goal. The Kings played without forward Martin Frk as he was unavailable due to a lower-body injury.

Alex DeBrincat scored twice, including the winner in overtime, as the Chicago Blackhawks edged the Dallas Stars 2-1. Patrick Kane had two assists and Malcolm Subban kicked out 31 shots for the win.

The Detroit Red Wings upset the Florida Panthers 4-1, handing the latter their first regulation loss of the season. Wings forward Givani Smith had a Gordie Howe hat trick with a goal, an assist and a fight with Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad following Smith’s hit to the head of Panthers’ blueliner MacKenzie Weegar. No word if Smith will face supplemental discipline. Wings forward Anthony Mantha was a healthy scratch from this contest.

A controversial offside call in the second period overshadowed the Carolina Hurricanes 6-5 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Officials overruled an offside challenge by the Jackets on a goal by Hurricanes center Vincent Trocheck and assessed the Jackets a bench penalty. The officials subsequently decided the play was offside after all and waved off the final 45 seconds of the Hurricanes power-play but still allowed Trocheck’s goal to stand.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Usually outspoken Jackets coach John Tortorella declined to offer his opinion following the game. “You know what? I’m gonna let the league explain it,” said Tortorella. Jackets winger Patrick Laine, who scored twice in the game, didn’t shy away from expressing his view. “I think that’s the biggest joke I’ve ever seen,” said Laine.


WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres forwards Dylan Cozens, Curtis Lazar and Casey Mittelstadt joined teammates Taylor Hall, Rasmus Ristolainen, Brandon Montour, Tobias Rieder and Jake McCabe on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list.

STARTRIBUNE.COM: Minnesota Wild defenseman Brad Hunt joined teammates Nick Bjugstad, Nick Bonino, Ian Cole, Joel Eriksson Ek, Marcus Foligno, Marcus Johansson, Jared Spurgeon and Nico Sturm on the COVID protocol list.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs winger Wayne Simmonds could be sidelined up to six weeks after getting hit in the hand with a shot during Saturday’s game against the Vancouver Canucks.

SPORTSNET: The Leafs signed forward Scott Sabourin to a one-year, two-way contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabourin signing is a further indication Simmonds could miss significant time.

SPORTSNET: The Edmonton Oilers activated goaltender Mike Smith off long-term injury reserve.

TSN: San Jose Sharks defenseman Radim Simek was fined $5,000.00 for spearing Anaheim Ducks forward Adam Henrique during Saturday’s game between the two clubs.

FOX SPORTS MIDWEST: The St. Louis Blues activated defenseman Robert Bortuzzo off injured reserved, placed winger Robert Thomas (broken thumb) on IR and recalled winger Jacob de la Rose.

NHL.COM: Former NHL forward Ralph Backstrom died Sunday at age 83 following a lengthy illness. Backstrom won the Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year in 1959 and won six Stanley Cups with the Montreal Canadiens. He tallied 278 goals and 639 points in 1, 032 NHL games with the Canadiens, Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks, as well as 214 points in 234 games in the WHA.

Backstrom went on to coach the University of Denver, scouted for the St. Louis Blues and founded the Colorado Eagles, now the AHL farm club of the Colorado Avalanche.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Backstrom lived a full, productive life in hockey and the game is better for it. My condolences to his family, friends, teammates and associates.


  1. A controversial offside call in the second period overshadowed the Carolina Hurricanes 6-5 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Officials overruled an offside challenge by the Jackets on a goal by Hurricanes center Vincent Trocheck and assessed the Jackets a bench penalty. The officials subsequently decided the play was offside after all and waved off the final 45 seconds of the Hurricanes power-play but still allowed Trocheck’s goal to stand.

    Say what? is this a type O? It can’t be as it’s written, that sound so Mikey Mouse; better off saying nothing and let sleeping dogs lie.

    • I remember Bure scoring his 50th goal but the other team claimed they had scored and play went on. They reviewed it and determined the puck had gone into the net prior to the Bure goal so they backed the clock up and the centre ice faceoff was for the opponents goal and Bure was back to 49 goals.

      That is all they gad to do here when they came back to the ice after intermission they play the minute fifteen after the offside finish the period have the goalies switch sides and play the final period

      Easy peasy

    • In the old days they would end a period early when brawls got out of hand. Play the end say 2nd period before they start the third. In this case that’s exactly what they should have done. Taking the penalty of the board was absolutely an insane decision. One minute and 15 seconds was all that they had to replay. All the great minds sitting in Toronto couldn’t think of this. The real problem is they’re all sitting up there saying how good the officiating is when in fact it’s god awful. They’ll let a vicious boarding call go where the player is facing the ice and is hit high (head shot) and is bleeding going off the ice and two minutes later they’ll call a stick TAP foul. There should be no automatic penalties in the game of hockey. There looking for these fouls and hesitate to call real penalties when they happen. Get your act together, because with all the great players and skill being displayed on the ice, it’s the referees who are ruining the game for the fans.

  2. As Torts said: let league explain it! Not sure how you eventually win challenge, but don’t turn clock back to point before goal was scored. Of course Torts probably more incensed his team gave up 5 other goals.

  3. We might see multiple suspensions from the Panthers / Wings game. Radio Gudas took Luke Glendenning out of the game with a hit to the head earlier in the game. Smith provided the Wings with exactly what they need – toughness, physical play and checking, with enough skill to contribute offensively.

    • indeed. but give the wings credit. played a great road game. and what can you say about motor hitty smitty???i noticed ekblad chirping at smith in the p-box after being body slammed to the ice. a wildly entertaining game. was good to see some nastiness.shout out to all the wings fans.

  4. Losing Simmonds is a tough blow to the Loaves … very impressive win by the Flyers, I think Sean Couterier is one of the most underrated players in the game … and Givani Smith looks like one bad dude … what on the world happened to Anthony Mantha???

    • Couturier is right up there with Bergeron for the best 2 way forward in the NHL.
      Finally got recognized with the Selkie last year.

    • Healthy scratch. Blashill wouldn’t explain why.

    • Is this the real Ed Van Impe? 1967 I was on the glass when you block a shot with your mouth. You came out for the third period and spit blood right in front of me. I’m 70 now and that game at the Spectrum made me a hockey fan forever. Your the greatest. Thanks.

      • Ha!

  5. I remember Backstroms final season with the Habs when I was I kid first starting to follow the team. No one has yet mentioned one of his notable claims to fame. Late in the 1970-71 season, he was traded to the Kings. Part of Sam Pollack’s plan to ensure that no team fell behind the California Golden Seals, whose 1st pick the Habs had, and ruin his plan to draft Guy Lafleur first overall. The rest, as they say, is history.

    • That helps explain how they became the last major professional sports team to fold.

  6. The NHL position in the Carolina/Columbus game is baffling. The judgement is an admission of error without consequence.

    The goal had to be taken away and at most quibble about the “time” being reset or not.

    This splitting the baby is advantageous to only one team, Carolina and harmful to only one team, Columbus.

    Almost as if the DOPS made the decision.

    • This worked out in my team’s favor, and it still makes no sense to me.

      There seems to be 3 categories now:
      1) Right (all good, proceed as directed)
      2) Wrong (ok, we just reset the score and clock)
      3) Sort of wrong (some middle ground we make up on the spot)

      #2 would seem to be the obvious solution here. Not sure why it wasn’t chosen.

    • Ya, baffling.

      They get it wrong.
      Admit they got it wrong.
      Then still get it wrong.

      I’m happy they admitted their mistake, because if they were just trying to avoid criticism they wait until after the game to acknowledge their mistake, but the solution just makes them look stupid.

      Imagine if the Jackets miss the playoffs by a point, and you it’s gonna be tight.