NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 15, 2021

by | Mar 15, 2021 | News, NHL | 27 comments

Recaps of Sunday’s action plus the latest on Anders Lee, Erik Karlsson, Marcus Foligno and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


NHL.COM: The New York Islanders picked up their ninth straight win by edging the New Jersey Devils 3-2 on a shootout goal by Oliver Wahlstrom. The Isles also extended their points streak to 12 games and sit atop the MassMutual Eastern Division with a league-leading 42 points. However, they also announced earlier yesterday that captain Anders Lee has been placed on long-term injury reserve retroactive to last Thursday, raising the possibility he could be unable to return for the regular season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will allow the Islanders to exceed the $81.5 million salary cap by up to the equivalent of Lee’s annual average value ($7 million) if they wish to add players before the April 12 trade deadline. They’re already exceeding the cap with permanently sidelined defenseman Johnny Boychuk ($6 million AAV) on LTIR.

Dougie Hamilton and Nino Niederreiter scored as the Carolina Hurricanes extended their win streak to eight games by nipping the Detroit Red Wings 2-1. With the win, the Hurricanes (41 points) vaulted into first place in the Discover Central Division, one point ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Ottawa Senators forward Drake Batherson (NHL Images).

A three-goal third period lifted the Minnesota Wild to a 4-1 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. Kevin Fiala had a goal and an assist while Zach Parise collected two assists as the Wild (35 points) picked up their fourth straight win and moved within two points of the first-place Vegas Golden Knights in the Honda West Division. Wild forward Marcus Foligno missed the game with a lower-body injury and could be sidelined for a while.

The Ottawa Senators got two goals from Drake Batherson and rookie goalie Joey Daccord made 33 saves for his first NHL victory to hold off the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3. The Senators opened the scoring with two goals within seven seconds. Daccord got the start when Matt Murray was a late scratch with an upper-body injury. Zach Hyman tallied twice for the Leafs (40 points), who remain in first place in the Scotia North Division but have dropped five of their last six games.

Nazem Kadri and Andre Burakovsky each had a goal and an assist to give the Colorado Avalanche a 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings. The victory gave the Avs 34 points, moving them into third place in the Honda West Division.

Alexander Radulov scored in a shootout as the Dallas Stars edged the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1. It was Radulov’s first game since being sidelined on Feb. 4. The Jackets (29 points) sit four points behind the fourth-place Chicago Blackhawks in the Discover Central Division.


NHL.COM: Erik Karlsson is hoping the San Jose Sharks can avoid a roster rebuild and find a way to build with their current core group. “Obviously, I did not sign here to go through a rebuild or go through what I did for 10 years with Ottawa,” said Karlsson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Karlsson’s comments raised hackles among some Senators followers who pointed out the club reached the playoffs (including the 2017 Eastern Conference Final) in five of his nine seasons in Ottawa. During the same period, however, the club twice tore down its roster to rebuild with younger talent.

Karlson obviously wanted to play for a long-time contender and felt the Sharks were his best bet. Nevertheless, that might no longer be the case with their aging core of expensive veterans. He might not want to see the club rebuild but management could have little choice if they miss the playoffs this season.

THE SCORE: Chicago Blackhawks goalie Kevin Lankinen and forwards Pius Suter and Philipp Kurashev are among six little-known NHL players making names for themselves this season. Florida Panthers forward Carter Verhaeghe, Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Zach Whitecloud and Senators defenseman Artem Zub are also earning recognition for their efforts.

TSN: Five players – Edmonton’s Kyle Turris, Los Angeles’ Olli Maatta, New Jersey’s Will Butcher, the Islanders Jean-Gabriel Pageau and the New York Rangers’ Phillip Di Guiseppe – were on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list as of Sunday.

LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS: Anaheim Ducks forward Carter Rowney will be sidelined four-to-six months following surgery on his left knee.



  1. Can’t help but wonder if Matt Murray didn’t get the Toronto version of the Philly Flu. Helluva spot to throw in a rookie goalie.

    To tell the honest truth, with about 8 minutes to go and Ottawa up 4-1, I was sure the Leafs would bounce back all the way … and they damned nearly did.

    Let’s face it, this was a case of simply taking a bottom team too lightly and, as it turns out, a 3-goal hole with 8 to go was just a tad too deep.

    One thing I did notice on SportsNet’s so-called “national” team’s faces was sheer incredulity that the Leafs did not pick up 2 points to shake off their mini-slump heading into a 6 day break.

    Another thing to come out of that game – for me anyway – was the affirmation that Zach Hyman’s $2,250,000 Caphit contract has to be THE bargain in the entire NHL

    • Agree George

      Certainly did not show any motivation

      Leaf media has to stop pumping talk of acquiring another top 6 player

      Leafs needs lie from the blue-line and back (G & D)

      Dubas, this morning get out your Rolodex , make 30 calls, get your chequebook ready; ask “just tell me the cost”

      Again, I am not in any way saying they are getting a cup ; or even getting to the finals this year ( I don’t believe they are) …. but they do need to attend to the back end

      Congrats to Daccord on his first win

      Batherson was looking very very good

      and “Jimmy” had some sick moves (and passes)

      Sens are going to be very good in 2 years

      Have they officially said what happened to Murray?

      • No – but whatever it was I bet he has a European soccer star’s “miraculous recovery”

    • The leafs defence were running around a lot in their own end, is Morgan Reilly a top pairing dman? Sure he gets offence but in his own zone he is out to lunch

    • Hyman is due for a significant raise, and he is exactly what the Oilers need in their top 6. They will have some space next year.

      • I’d love to see Dorion offer him Colin White money … talk about being able to afford it!

    • George,
      Considering the Leafs have the same poor record as the Habs in the last ten game and one fired 3 coaches, do you really think the Leafs took the Senators lightly?

      Aside from the any given Sunday theme of never take a team for granted there is reaching the halfway point of the season and weaknesses being exposed.

      Good teams get out of the rut and fix things with either players or systems, it will be an interesting second half.

      Sidebar- Karlson has some kind of nerve considering his play since arriving in San Jose

      • I can’t believe he actually said that! Clearly his strong suit isn’t math if he thinks anyone is going to deal for a soon-to-be 31 y/o one-way D whose one-way is deteriorating faster than yesterday’s weather report and who’s costing $11.5 off the cap through to 2026-27 when he’ll hit 37.

        That wasn’t a bullet Ottawa avoided – more like a cannon shell.

    • George, criticism when due, credit when due. The Sens didn’t cheat. They showed up. The Leafs’ schedule isn’t any worse than anyone else’s. They earned their win.

  2. Mike/WH17

    I’m hoping you are going to be all right today

    Not to worry… Leafs will have 5 days off to write on the chalk board 1,000 times a day “every regular season game is at least 60 minutes and regardless of opponents; I will show up every second of every game”

    A few bag skates might work as well

    Ekholm’s and Savard’s price tags just went up…..demand demand demand …. simple economics


    • Coaches who can outline a play on a blackboard are a dime a dozen … the ones who win get inside their players and motivate (Vince Lombardi)

  3. Does anyone know if Dunc Wilson has had his Covid jab? Asking for my friend, Kyle.

  4. Jack Campbell’s looking more important by the day. There are players on the Marlies that deserve a look – Liljegren for example.

  5. “Obviously, I did not sign here to go through a rebuild or go through what I did for 10 years with Ottawa,” said Karlsson.

    And obviously the Sharks expected much, much more out of you instead of the pedestrian performance they are receiving for millions of dollars.

    With this guy sounding off, Kane’s bankruptcy, the aging core players and inconsistent goaltending the Sharks are a mess.

    • I have a lot of respect for Doug Wilson, especially since he took time to talk with me for almost half an hour in the airport one day between flights. But picking up Karlsson and signing Vlassic and Jones long term were big mistakes obviously, ones that will plague the team for years. Karlsson is the one in particular that disappointed me, as his first year with the Sharks was pretty poor, and Wilson had an opportunity to back off from a long term deal.

  6. Dubas never had sufficient respect for the position of goalie. He tried to waive McElhenny….surprise surprise….could not get him past Tampa, He kept Garrett Sparks. He signs Aron Dell tries to waive him. He kept Nic Petan.

    This year all Canadian teams have a back door entry to the final four. The Leafs should trade NOW for a better goalie.

    Goalies that might be available….Elvis from Colombus, Kueper from Arizona, Gibson from the Ducks The Calgary number 1 ( I know he has a no move contract….that doesn’t mean he won’t move it just means he gets to decided when and where) even Jonathan Quick. Even Rinne might be available.

    Leaf fan to Kyle….you created a problem. You have a little time and considerable resources to solve it. As Pengy says….pick up the phone.

    If you give say NYlander and a 1 st you may get a good goalie and a good D. Ekholm and Rinne from Nashville. The easy back door closes this summer

    • I don’t get the easy North division theory.
      Ya, OTT is young and in full rebuild, but other than that, no easy games.
      Look at the West. 5 teams were not in a playoff position last season at the pause. Weakest div IMO.
      The Central ain’t all that.
      Chicago is currently in a playoff spot, what does that tell you? (Dallas will get it going and catch them IMO).
      The East is deeper than the North IMO, but I would put the North 2nd in that regard.

      The theory that the North is weak, doesn’t pass the smell test IMO.

      • Agreed, Ray. The East and the Central both have three teams below .500.

        Are the Sens and the Canucks write offs? They won’t make the playoffs but they have both beaten the first place Leafs at least twice – so far.

    • LOL RINNE!!!! He’s like 40 or something right? His sv% is sub .900.

      Keep ‘em coming!

      PS If you say they need a Dman, great, where do they play and who you getting? The team does need to booster the forwards…something isn’t working and I don’t believe they have enough depth to put fear in their opponents. The match ups are too easy now.

  7. I have enjoyed communicating with and respect the opinions of both Ray Bark( Borque) and LJ and am open that my easy back door theory might be wrong. It may be born on how tough it is get past the Bruins and Tampa in any play off year.

    I have not analyzed in detail the other divisions nor a play off game route to the final. But it still seems easier to me than other years..

    Thanks for the response guys

    • OBD, right back at you.

      Re your Leafs, I think your comments at the beginning of the year — if I remember them correctly – was that the Leafs are imbalanced. I agreed.

      Perhaps a harsh thing to say given they are still # 1 in the North, but I believe the mini series against the Jets is a fair indication of the strengths of each team.

      Is the Leafs’ biggest weakness Andersen? Maybe. But Dubas is still looking for another forward (witness Galchenyuk) so he can’t be confident in his bottom six.

      Their D? All seem to be on the + side of +/- but they aren’t scoring either.

      If the Leafs were imbalanced at the beginning of the season then surely the are still. Matthews and Marner’s great play is better than anticipated and I think masks that imbalance. A great goalie is always a help but is there really a goalie out there available at a price the Leafs can take on?

      My opinion is that the Leafs would be better off looking for an upgrade in D. It isn’t final 4 now, and given that the Leafs gave up on Lehtonen and Dahlin isn’t ready they are one injury away from really being exposed on their blue line.

      No doubt others will have a different opinion.

      • I think I read – somewhere – where someone is advocating they bring up Liljegren – this guy’s been around for 4 years now and has all of 11 look-see NHL games. Clearly, something is lacking – he’s starting to look like the D version of Bracco.

    • I agree on TB being the best team OBD, plus they have Kucherov due back just in time for the playoffs.

      My take on the divisions is pretty basic, and since they don’t play each other, obviously just an opinion. I simply look at last year and what did they do to improve. Both CGY and MTL added quite a bit.

      CAR a good team, DAL too but struggling due to early COVID problems and some injuries.

      After that, meh. FLA had a pretty easy start to season, we’ll see how they do. If Bob plays to his contract, ya playoff team that scares you. He hasn’t.

      The East, without TB is probably the deepest with 5 legit playoff teams from last year.

      The West has 4 teams that were brutal last year so more than half the games for the other 4 are good opportunities to pick up points. SJ, ANA and LA were all in the bottom 5 last season with ARI not much better. Those teams didn’t do much to improve.

  8. Andersen is the fall guy for the TML when the weakness is on D, Brodie and Bogosian were cast offs from their respective teams yet were signed to plug the holes on D.
    This was obvious and commented on at the time.

    Nylander , an over priced perimeter player, and a mid round 1st aren’t going to get you a Kuemper, Elvis, Gibson, Markstrom or Quick.

    They should be chasing Ekholm and Savard instead of a goalie.

    Habs filled a lot of holes and are improved yet in my opinion erred in not signing a Nate Thompson to continue mentoring their young C.

  9. Well, Luke Fox at sportsnet has lost the plot.

    Today, his analysis is the Leafs 2 pressing areas to address are a third line centre and a penalty killing defenseman. Wow.

    Someone should check if he has broken quarantine and is posting from the Maldives.

    No, a difference maker isn’t desirable and no need to even mention goaltending as a possible concern.

    I think his career may not be any brighter than Andersens.

    • He is probably just looking at the data Wendell.
      Leafs create way more chances than they give up, same with high quality chances.
      Their team SV% is better than average as is their shooting % (because they have high end offensive guys).
      I think what he is missing is that the higher save % is because of Campbell and Hutchinson. Anderson has actually been below average. I am guessing Anderson faces the tougher opposition though?
      Leafs have to move Anderson to get a tender, that’s the hard part unless another team gets involved and that team would need to be a contender as Anderson is a pending UFA.
      IE – Detroit isn’t taking him back for Bernier unless the Leafs add something worth while.
      Hey maybe Anderson shakes the ghosts of playoffs past this year.
      I think the the 3C is to be able to keep Hyman playing in the top 6, so you don’t sewer your 3rd line.

      • With Campbell not able to stay healthy and the quarantine period , if the target is Gibson kemper etc . That’s a risky move, the minute you make it , your relying on Campbell to all of a sudden stay healthy and play nightly until help arrives, if he goes down , those two weeks could really sink the ship , as we seen with the quick pull on b2b last night for hutch , not a lick of confidence in him