NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 9, 2021

by | Feb 9, 2021 | News, NHL | 22 comments

Recaps of Monday’s games, stars of the week, additional Sabres, Devils and Wild game postponed by COVID-19 protocols, injury updates and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


NHL.COM: New York Islanders coach Barry Trotz picked up his 850th career win as his club blanked the New York Rangers 2-0. Trotz moves past Ken Hitchcock into third on the list of all-time career victories by NHL coaches. Semyon Varlamov picked up the shutout with a 30-save performance while Casey Cizikas and Matt Martin were the goal scorers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to Trotz on his milestone. He’s 81 victories behind Florida Panthers coach Joel Quenneville, who’s second with 931. Scotty Bowman is the all-time leader with 1,244 wins.

The Columbus Blue Jackets edged the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 on Jack Roslovic’s third-period goal, but it was Patrik Laine’s benching that garnered headlines. The Jackets winger didn’t play in the final 26:19 of the game. Head coach John Tortorella said the benching wasn’t about one play but was “part of the process of understanding our team concept, how we do things here, the discipline of being a pro.” Laine had no shots and had a plus-minus of minus-1 during his 11:14 of ice time.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Welcome to playing under Tortorella, Patrik Laine. Torts’ critics will suggest this might force the recently-acquired winger to reconsider re-signing with the Jackets as a restricted free agent this summer. However, Laine will adjust and adapt to his new coach and his system. As long as he’s getting first-line minutes and scoring opportunities, he’ll do whatever Tortorella wants him to do on the ice.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

Auston Matthews extended his goal streak to eight games and collected his 300th career point by scoring the game-winner in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 3-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Frederik Andersen made 31 saves for the win.

Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith made 27 saves in his season debut in a 3-1 win over the Ottawa Senators. Leon Draisaitl (two points) and Connor McDavid (one point) extended their points streaks to 10 games. Smith was activated off long-term injury reserve earlier this week.

The Tampa Bay Lightning extended their win streak to five games by beating the Nashville Predators 4-1. Anthony Cirelli scored twice for the Lightning. Earlier in the day, the Predators placed center Ryan Johansen (upper body) on injured reserve. He’s listed as week-to-week.

Clayton Keller’s game-tying goal in the final second of regulation set the stage for Christian Dvorak’s shootout winner as the Arizona Coyotes nipped the St. Louis Blues 4-3. Coyotes goalie Darcy Kuemper kicked out 40 shots in regulation and overtime. Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly scored twice and collected an assist.


NHL.COM: Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak, Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane and Montreal Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Feb. 7.

The NHL also postponed additional games for the Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils and Minnesota Wild because of COVID-19. A decision on when these teams can resume practice and their game schedule will be made in the coming days.

The number of Wild players on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list grew to 11 with the additions of Victor Rask and Carson Soucy on Monday. Wild general manager Bill Guerin confirmed one staff member has tested positive for the coronavirus.

NJ.COM: The Devils have a league-leading 19 players on the protocol list as Connor Carrick, Nico Hischier and Sami Vatanen were added on Monday.

THE ATHLETIC: Joe Yerdon reports Rasmus Dahlin joined the Sabres’ list, raising their number to nine players. Two linesmen who worked the Sabres-Devils game when the outbreak is believed to have taken place have also entered protocols.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The growing number of sidelined players and game postponements is raising concerns over the league’s handling of its COVID-19 protocols and of the effects upon the schedule.

The league remains intent on maintaining its 56-game schedule and making up those postponed games. However, some critics are calling for a league-wide postponement until the COVID curve is flattened or reduced but that’s unlikely to happen. Some suggest the schedule could be shortened in order to meet the May 9 completion of the regular season while others believe that the end date could be pushed forward toward late May or early June.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman expressed concern for Brent Seabrook. The 35-year-old defenseman remains sidelined by a back injury and there’s no timetable for his return. The Blackhawks also announced defenseman Adam Boqvist has come off the COVID-19 protocol list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bowman indicated Seabrook’s back injury occurred prior to training camp. It appears to be the result of several injuries he played through and underwent surgery for last season.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs confirmed winger Wayne Simmonds suffered a broken wrist during Saturday’s game against the Canucks and will be sidelined for at least six weeks.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals got some good news as Evgeny Kuznetsov, Ilya Samsonov and Justin Schultz returned to practice on Monday. Kuznetsov and Samsonov were taken off the COVID protocol list. Schultz was recovering from a facial injury suffered on Jan. 28.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars goaltender Anton Khudobin returned to practice yesterday following a one-game team disciplinary suspension for being late for practice on Saturday. Khudobin downplayed the incident, saying he had a good conversation with head coach Rick Bowness and accepted his punishment.


  1. Columbus ownership and GM JK just don’t get it … the head coach has to be the star, has to be the focus, it’s always about him … players are human and make mistakes but this guy doesn’t care, he craves the spotlight … a few years ago the Jackets had a bright future … those days are over.

    • Laine had scored three goals in the preceding two games. He’s doing what he’s supposed to do. No player is perfect every game. Every team has players who have issues with the coach, but there seems to be a big problem in Columbus. Especially with younger players. It seems that players can’t wait to get out of there. Eventually, ownership will figure out what the problem is.

      • Howard, I disagree. Every player has a responsibility to his teammates to give 100%. Laine was coasting. Good on Torts. Columbus won the game with the players that wanted to compete. Yes Torts has his problems but the root cause of the benching was Laine’s effort.

      • The Jackets have had 4 players who wanted to leave vs. nearly a dozen who quickly signed contracts under Jarmo’s reign. Your assertion is flawed.

      • It’s all about Torts @ Columbus. 3 goals in the last 2 games, I’m sure most teams will love to have Laine and it’s okay to reduce to 4th line minutes but to bench for almost half the game?

  2. At least Devils fans can brag that their team leads the league in something…when was the last time they could say that?

  3. GM JK will ultimately be forced to choose between Torts and his countryman.

    I think both will lose their jobs before next year.

  4. The NHL didn’t want to do rapid testing and said there approach was the best way forward for them.

    That has now been proven wrong and rapid testing should be the way forward.

    With a condensed schedule and trying to fit all games in; this may not be plausible.

    We could potentially see some games later in the season that have no affect on the standings just be cancelled and or not all teams playing the same amount of games and teams will enter the playoffs on pct winning.

    • I suppose they would have to go with team points/games played. That would certainly shake up some of the standings.

      I wonder if they would follow that with adjusting how, for instance, the Ross or Richard Trophies are awarded.

  5. Torts certainly has a different way of communicating, he has to know all eyes are on this and no one is shocked or surprised.

    I understand taking ice time away is certainly away to catch the player attention.

    I also understand asking a player to change habits; however in this incident i think it might be time for the coach to change his habits.

    Instead of the public embarrasment and drawing unwanted attention to the team; may i suggest, a sit down in your office and dialogue without anger and explain what you’re happy with and where the improvements must be and why. Two roses to each thorn if you wish.

    • I’m fine with Torts benching guys. Every coach does it, and I think Maurice may have benched Laine before as well. Caper would know better than I.
      I was fine with Torts benching PLD, he had no choice in that situation.
      When talking to, coaching a guy in practice, stop working, that is how you make it clear what the expectations are.

      My issue with Torts are his temper tantrums on the bench etc. The guy snaps and starts yelling and spittin and stuff. That is where the line gets crossed for me. Have some self control.

      Seems like he is learning as we don’t see it as often. Players don’t take that crap anymore and I can’t say I blame them.

      • Ray, I do not recall Maurice shortening Laine ice time.

        The main early concerns from the fans was Laine wasn’t on the PP and leading the team in goals.

        The only time i heard anything about ice time, was very recent, when Wheeler only got 13 minutes of ice time, it was made a big issue by the media; not the fans.

        2.0 do you recall? I’m hazard to guess if there was, no issue was made of it.

  6. Its really easy to point a finger at Torts and say get rid of him . Look at there lineup last year made the playoffs beat the Leafs . The year before made the playoffs beat the lighting .
    I grew up respecting all my coaches but times have changed . Torts I don’t think can change so his days will be done soon . Its the young stars in the game that sell tickets not a coach . I would not want to be JK here but you only get a few true superstars and to be the guy that may lose all 3 because of a coach would make my choice easier

  7. Torts makes it about Torts, not media, not fans, not the players.

    Columbus knew exactly what they were getting in Laine, a pure scorer, one of the best in the league.

    What did he do on arrival? He scored goals.

    They didn’t trade for a project.

    GM’s are all ready planning to sign a fed up Laine who’ll use his UFA status to find a home.

  8. From the frying pan into the fire for Patrick Laine. Looks like the 3rd grade maturity of tortorella is already going to work on Laine and he should be looking for the next team to sign with at the end of the year … assuming the Blue Jackets don’t give tortorella his pink slip. If Laine walks, then Columbus just gave away Pierre-Luc Dubois for 40 games with Laine? ANOTHER great job, tortorella! Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy!

    • He’s an RFA after this season. Won’t be eligible for UFA status till 2023. He can’t just walk away for nothing. Unless he decides to play in Europe, which won’t happen.

      • Guys are forcing trades all the time. 3 games in and Laine already benched. As a Jets fan I was sad to see Laine go, but ultimately I knew that they were probably trading 40 Laine games for PLD. Laine wasn’t going to sign again with the Jets – these RFAs are bullying trends and it’s a bad trend.

      • Right you are Howard, I jumped the gun.

        As an RFA qualifying him will cost 6.75 m to an all ready disgruntled player.

        Mikko Koivu got off the Torts train today.

  9. Congrats to Mr. Trotz. When he took over the Islanders, they had just finished a dismal season, and then they lost some of their best players. the Capitals with him won the Cup.
    Gee what has happened with those 2 teams since?

    • Second the motion. A great career for Barry Trotz and he ‘s far from done. Team Canada next?

      • If Trotz had been in charge of the Titanic, he woulda turned that puppy right around!

  10. So Brian Burke and Ron Hextal are the new old boys club at the Pens. Man I love hockey. Pengy, do what you do.