NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 20, 2021

by | Mar 20, 2021 | News, NHL | 43 comments

Alex Ovechkin extends his goal streak, the Leafs’ struggles continue, the Canucks surge in the standings while the Bruins’ next two games are postponed over COVID-19 concerns. Details plus updates on Evgeni Malkin, Matt Dumba and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


NHL.COM: Alex Ovechkin scored twice in the third period to lead the Washington Capitals over the New York Rangers 2-1. Vitek Vanecek made 32 saves for the win while Artemi Panarin scored the Rangers’ only goal. The Capitals (44 points) moved two points up on the New York Islanders into first place in the MassMutual East Division.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin now has 720 career goals. He also has 14 on the season, moving to within seven of Toronto’s Auston Matthews and his league-leading 21 goals.

Mark Giordano’s power-play goal in the second period held up as the game-winner as the Calgary Flames edged the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3, handing the latter their sixth loss in their last seven games. While the Leafs (40 points) still hold first place in the Scotia North Division, the Flames (33 points) picked up their fourth win in their last five contests and sit two points behind the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens. Leafs winger Wayne Simmonds picked up an assist in his first game since suffering a broken wrist on Feb. 6.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toronto goalie Frederik Andersen gave up four goals on 18 shots as he continues to struggle with a nagging lower-body injury. Leafs fans are hoping a healthy Jack Campbell can provide some much-needed stability between the pipes when he returns from injury tonight against the Flames.

Despite the Leafs’ position in the standings, the race in the North is tightening. The Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets are breathing down their necks while the Flames and Vancouver Canucks are surging. Only six points separate Toronto from the fifth-place Canucks.

Speaking of the Canucks, they handed the Canadiens their ninth straight defeat in extra time with a 3-2 overtime victory. J.T. Miller tallied the game-winner as Vancouver (34 points) has won four straight and moved to within one point of the fourth-place Habs. Earlier in the day, they announced winger Tanner Pearson will be sidelined four weeks with a sprained ankle and placed center Elias Petterssen (wrist) on long-term injury reserve.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks were being written off a month ago and are still considered by some observers as a potential seller by the trade deadline. Their recent improvement, however, has put them back in the playoff picture, especially with the Canadiens struggling to hang onto the final playoff spot in the North Division.

Max Pacioretty scored twice as the Vegas Golden Knights picked up their fifth straight win by doubling up the Los Angeles Kings 4-2. Vegas netminder Robin Lehner made 23 saves in his first game since being sidelined by a concussion on Feb. 7. With 43 points, the Golden Knights opened a five-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche for the top spot in the Honda West Division. The Kings (30 points) sit five back of the fourth-place St. Louis Blues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pacioretty now has 16 goals, moving to within five of Matthews.

The Blues, meanwhile, snapped a five-game losing skid by nipping the San Jose Sharks 2-1 on a shootout goal by Vladimir Tarasenko. Jordan Binnington made 30 saves for the win while Tyler Bozak tied the game for the Blues with a shorthanded goal.


The Boston Bruins’ next two games (Saturday against Buffalo, Tuesday against the New York Islanders) have been postponed over COVID-19 concerns as four Bruins (Jake DeBrusk, David Krejci, David Pastrnak and Craig Smith) were added to the COVID protocol list on Friday. This comes one day after the Bruins canceled practice when Sean Kuraly was added to the list. They played the Sabres on Thursday.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins listed center Evgeni Malkin as week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Losing Malkin will be a big test for the Penguins as they strive to move further up the East Division standings. With 37 points, they just one up on the fourth-place Bruins and four ahead of the fifth-place Philadelphia Flyers.

STARTRIBUNE.COM: Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba is doubtful for today’s rematch with the Colorado Avalanche after suffering a lower-body injury during the Wild’s 5-1 loss to the Avs on Thursday.

WGR 550: Speaking of the Avalanche, they are reportedly close to acquiring Sabres goaltender Jonas Johansson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nothing confirmed as of this morning and no indication as to what the Sabres would receive in return. Johansson was not on the ice for Sabres practice yesterday while the club announced the signing of netminder Michael Houser. The Avs are believed in the market for a reliable backup with Pavel Francouz sidelined indefinitely.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings are listing goaltender Jonathan Bernier as day-to-day after he suffered a lower-body injury during Thursday’s win over the Dallas Stars. However, they’re awaiting clarification as to the severity of his injury.

SPORTSNET: Senators goalie Joey Daccord will be out long-term with an apparent leg injury suffered during Wednesday’s loss to the Vancouver Canucks. There’s speculation he could be done for the season.


  1. Daccord’s injury is a high ankle sprain – often worse than a cracked bone when it comes to recovery. But at least he won’t require surgery.

    Forsberg, the goalie they picked up on waivers from the Jets, doesn’t need to go into quarantine since hew flew from a “bubble” in Winnipeg to a “bubble” in Ottawa on a chartered flight.

  2. Surely to God, there’s a goaltender out there , the Leafs can trade for ?
    Groin injury or not , why is he playing …
    Pathetic, they don’t have a goalie in the minors to fill in ..
    How ready is Jack Campbell , as to leave him on the bench with Anderson’s pathetic, AGAIN performance last night .
    Here, the Leafs are trying to trade for a forward , Hoe “DUMB” is that !!!

    • The first goal deflected off Dermott, the second was a blast from the slot by an uncovered player. The stats for the night look bad but those are not Andersen’s doing. You could point the finger at Matthews too – sore wrist, not scoring. Doesn’t make much sense, does it?
      Let’s see what Campbell can do, hope he has better puck luck.

    • Trading for a #1 goalie when you have no cap space and are desperate is a difficult thing to pull off. And ya, the goals were not his fault, also didn’t stop to many.
      The question of why is he playing is fair.
      Would their record be any worse starting Hutchinson? And Freddie would have had another 2 weeks to heal.

  3. leafs need big trade with anaheim


    • Forget who for – a trade of that magnitude hasn’t been made in years – and with quarantine regulations in place it is extremely unlikely one of that sort would be made now.

      Add to that the fact that Manson has missed a clutch of games earlier due to an oblique injury and is currently on IR – as is Gibson.

      • Add to that the fact you see the Leafs bringing in a total cap hit of $14,289,444 !! You start calculating the “who” by that factor alone.

        Anaheim is in a re-build phase so they won’t want any part of Tavares. They already found Andersen expendable so why would they bring him back? So now you’re looking at combinations involving Matthews, Marner, Rielly …. like I say, something of that magnitude just won’t happen again.

    • Matthews…..

    • I could see Anaheim giving those 3 up for Matthews and Anderson. Or Marner, Hyman and Anderson. Gotta give to get.

  4. Holl has been there best defenseman , just hopefully Leafs know this , and font leave him unprotected
    8 forwards , 3 defenders, 1goaltender can be protected , as per the expansion draft

    • Hi Ken

      Dubas must protect Muzzin/Brodie (NMCs) and will protect Reilly …. so Holl will be unprotected… might have to do a side deal

      It’s actually 7-3-1 not 8-3-1

      Dubas has the option of 8-1 (8 skaters, 1G) where he could protect Holl but he has to protect JT (NMC) ; and would protect AM, MM, WW…. leaving all the rest of the forwards (under contract) open for the picking

      • Pengy neither Brodie nor Muzzin have a NMC in effect for expansion draft.

        Facts are important.

        As it stands now they will protect the core 4 forwarsd and top 2 pairs and Campbell. They will try to get a handshake deal with Hyman and officially sign him after the drat.

      • Hyman, as a UFA, will be THE sort of UFA just about every team will seek – why would he not test the waters?

      • Hyman wants to stay with Leafs. If someone offers better he will give Dubas a chance to match or get closer. He will take less i.e. 1M to stay.

        Hopefully Dubas is fired a week before deadline though if he hasn’t obtained a #1 goalie by then.

      • As it stands right now Holl will be exposed. Untill Dubas either trades for a dman that qualifies or resigns Bogo to an extension Holl is exposed. Facts are important

      • Dermott qualifies. Plus Dubas would expose Brodie over Holl. You dont expose bargains. If Brodie was taken the Leafs would have 5m cap freed up vs 2M to get a suitable replacement.

        Yes indeed Facts are Important

      • Hi Mike/WH17

        Per CapFreindly both of them are listed as NMC

        It’s possible CapFreindly has it wrong

        TSN per last weeks broadcast were speculating that Dubas would go 7-3-1

        If they do that; even if CapFreindly has the NMC incorrectly listed; I think it would be more likely to see Dubas leave Holl un-protected over either one of Muzzin or Brodie

        Not saying necessarily I would do that; but I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if Dubas did

        Expansion draft is the least of Dubai’s immediate concerns

      • Toronto must make 1 signed dman through 21-22 Dermott like Bogo isn`t signed so he doesn`t qualify right now. Brodie has a NMC can`t be exposed. Like you keep saying correct facts are a bonus

      • Pengy cap friendly clearly shows both with NTC not NMC for after this season when the draft takes place. The NMC are only for this season. Look at their extended contracts in Capfriendly .

        Bob RFA defenseman with the requisite games played qualify. That is Dermott.

        Guys, when the facts are laid out for you please recognize them.

      • One dman who has played the required amount of games and is signed through the 21-22 season must be exposed. Until Dubas either signs Dermott or Bogo to an extension or trades for one Holl would be the one to be exposed. Both Brodie and Muzzin signed their contracts with the 1st year as a MNC in it so they wouldn`t be exposed in the draft. Since the draft takes place before the end of the season neither can be exposed without them agreeing to it. Not only should youget the correct facts one should take a moment and read the rules pertaining to the draft

      • Ummm..Bob….you may not have noticed but Seattle isn’t in the league this season. They start NEXT season with the expansion draft.

        Oh, also… the NMC was changed to a NTC for exactly the opposite reason (180 degrees wrong)…so they both COULD be exposed. I never heard any comment from Brodie but when Muzzin signed he said he was a little disappointed Leafs wouldn’t give him that protection.

  5. Leafs and Pens …..

    Leafs performance last night, and 1 W in 7… and

    Gino out for a bit; Blueger out longer, Sid playing all 4 C positions…

    I feel like I’m ten again humming …. “uh oh… spaghettios”

    Well… my “alternate”/“3rd” team I watch regularly… Knights…. ploughing along…. tops in League in winning percentage …. .768

    Dubas… any move needs to include strategy for next year and maybe beyond…. cup not happening this year

    Hextal… 3C… and don’t spend big as it is looking more and more like rebuild starts next year. So UFA 3C…. Staal ideal. Exception…. term in term out… can you get a taker on Zucker? Pens sitting with surplus LHDs!

    McKrimmon… Ur sitting pretty but could also tweak with a 3C… use space acquired from the lengthy LTIRs of Lehner and McNabb… hush hush secret call to Mrs. Getzlaf about suggesting his last chance at another Cup… 1/2 Cap retained by Murray; 1/2 again by Bowman…. Bowman’s cash cost (@TDL) after escrow…about $170 K; Murray ~ $340 K

    Cap cost to McKrimmon at TDL after to -through…. ~ 580K…. space he’ll have for sure

    Murray get’s NJ’s 2nd, Bowman gets B prospect or 3rd (‘22)

    Or McKrimmon steers clear of the midnight collusion call to Mrs. Getzlaf and calls Fitzgerald about another Prairies C, 3 days younger than Getzlaf…. Zajac

    Fitzgerald’s cost at TDL is ~ $650 K… he gets his 2nd back; Bowman’s hit climbs to about $325K… so a little nicer prospect in the trade

    Cap hit to McKrimmon for Zajac over Getzlaf drops from ~ $580 K to ~ $400 K

    Both cases… McKrimmon has space still for a depth D (to protect against injuries)

    Knights outlook is very good

    Oh yeah…. they are exempt from Kraken and have 20/23 signed for next year at least… will have $4.3 M in space to fill those three… Coglahn (who will sign a reasonable bridge); Nosek (easy to replace but if they really want him back… he’s not getting a raise over $1.25 M); and Martinez… who they won’t afford and don’t need to resign with the emerging play of Hague ($791 K vs Martinez [ much smaller, slower, and 11 years older] at $4M)…. so they will likely go with Theo , McNabb, Hague at LHD (Holden is 4LHD) next year; and therefore only need a 3RD… and have Corcoran, Korczak, Pachal in the system and plenty of UFAs (that will cost but $800K – $1M) to pick from

    Knights future is bright

    • Pengy, their future is right now. All among Pacioretty, Marchessault, Reaves, Martinez, Holden, Fleury, the much-injured Lehner, and the currently-injured Pietrangelo are all fast approaching their mid- to late 30s, and their farm system sits at #17 according to The Hockey Writers analysis.

      • Hi George

        Agree that time is now for Knights if you are referring to this year AND next

        All other 30 teams will lose at least (maybe more with side deals) 1 player to Krakken and most of the top teams are at/near cap now and will be repeating that again next year

        Knights (already one of the two cup favs) will have a max of 2 that they could lose…. Coglahn will be bridged at very reasonable hit. Nosek may be re-signed but won’t get a raise ($1.25M) and there are plenty of UFAs to replace him that will be less than $1.25 M. Martinez will get replaced by the much much bigger, faster, more agile, 11 years younger Hague; and at less than 20% of his $4M cap hit

        Re prospects …re the THW list/rankings… subjective… fairly easy to rank top 5-8 and bottom 5 (for those with barren cupboards… hello Pens)

        The “middle” ranked teams are subjectively packed tight

        To me

        Krebs, Elevenes, Duggan, Lechyshyn at Fwd


        Corcoran, Cormier, and Korczak on D

        The oldest of those 7 is 22….. that’s a pretty fair pool

        They have Thompson, Ferguson and Patera in the “Pipes” pipeline (sorry, had to)

  6. The Leafs are who we thought they were .

  7. Leafs comfortably win 3 – 1 last night if there was a zamboni squad instead of a taxi squad.

    ENOUGH…enough …wake up and get a goalie Dubas.

  8. Rutherford left Hextall & Burke a giant mess, good luck trying to get out of it …

    I agree with jeff, the maple loaves need to make a deal with Anaheim … and this quarantine rule is BS … you trade for a guy, he gets to your city you test him … positive he sits, negative, here’s your jersey, let’s go …

    and once again M. Tkachuk acting like the gutter rat he really is last night … too bad Simmonds didn’t toss him around like a rag doll like Kassian did …

    • I thought sticking up for Johnny was the admirable thing to do. Tkachuk isn’t a noted fighter, yet he invited Holl to own up to a hit on his star teammate.
      Probably should have just fought, as opposed to going for a skate to the center circle for theatrics. It was obvious that Holl (a genuine non fighter) was confused as he attempted to pick up his gloves and resume play.
      Hit the star of the show, atonement is coming. It’s the way of the NHL, right, wrong, or indifferent.

    • Haven’t the Pens been really good since their D got healthy? Lost a couple lately, but have been playing well IMO.
      Injuries matter, B’s now, Leafs now.
      Can’t stand Tkachuk, not sure what he was doing when he went for the tour?

      • He’s a weird one, Ray. Decent hockey player, but I’d rather have his brother on my squad. I think the “tour” was all about confidence. I like to see Simmonds have a go at him and give him his comeuppance. Kid needs to be humbled. With that said, if Simmonds gets involved, then Lucic of Ritchie has a go at him. Just one vicious circle at that point. I really want to see Matthews fight sometime. Big strong kid. I bet he could handle himself well.

      • Maybe Matthews and Draisaitl can give it a go SOP. Both big strong guys who never fight. Same with Puljujarvi here in Edmonton, that kid did some chores but has likely never had a fight in his life.
        Ya his brother seems like a more normal guy, plays hard but not as cheap. Can’t argue they’re both really effective players.

  9. Well dear readers, there is surely a word for Leaf and Habs fans who were bursting our buttons 10 games in. Hubris, perhaps?

    Are the two teams who were first and second at the 10 game post going to fall out of playoff contention? The laughter that engendered has just a bit of nervousness in it …

    And now that the bottom teams in the North are imitating Lazarus does that increase the chances of Petry winning the Norris? He surely cannot be discounted for playing in a weak division now.

    • I had Leafs first and they are in first.

      I had Habs out of playoffs and they are well on their way

    • LJ,
      The season’s a marathon not a sprint and Habs fans are well aware of that.

      The only comments were the Habs plugged a lot of holes and that they are very much improved over last year….which they are.

      The Leaf fans…..well that’s something else, I tuned it within a week of getting here.

      • As the season commenced, habfan30, I was convinced the Habs were much improved over last year. Certainly every player that Berg brought in has been an upgrade.

        I see only two players from last year’s team that are playing well: Gally and Petry. What haunted them last year was losing one goal games and a miserable OT record. This year, more of the same. The season is not over but I find it hard to maintain optimism.

      • LJ,

        I’m still optimistic as the Habs are fine 5 on 5, they tend to finish strong and rarely lose in regulation time.

        You need to add Drouin and KK to last years players that are playing well.

        There is no shoot out and OT is 5 on 5.

        My pre-season thoughts were 3rd or 4th and playoff run, winning the North, then losing.

    • There are 6 teams that can make the playoffs in the North. I would have said 5 a few weeks ago, but Demko is staying hot. VCR has a ways to go, but I wouldn’t throw in the towel if I was them.
      The North is a strong division too bad there is Covid as a more CDN teams would make it IMO.

  10. I’m pretty sure OV is about to offer a goal scoring clinic (again). Sorry Matthews.

    • At retirement Ovi is going down as the best goal scorer and 4th best player in NHL history:

      1) Orr

      2) Lemieux
      3) Gretzky

      4) Ovechkin

      *spacing intended.

      • 5. Jagr

      • Is it to late to applaud you Wendel?

        This is the first fair minded and well considered post I have seen from you.


      • Where does Mike Bossy fit?

        The highest goals per game in NHL history.

        He scored over 50 goals every year of his career except his last when he retired with a chronic back injury and missed a big chunk of the season (still scored 38)

        The purest goal scorer in the history of the game, retired at 30

      • HabsFan30

        With you 100%

        The word best is subjective but I am with you re Bossy

        He started his first season with over 50, and did 9 strait 50 + seasons

        His back was seizing right up and he was in excruciating pain in that 10th season and he played through that excruciating pain; and when it got too bad he had to take games off in chunks

        Even with playing (when in his words he had serious trouble “just walking through the arena to the dressing room) that last season, his full season pace was 48 Gs

        Uninjured therefore … he’d easily have had 10 straight 50+ seasons … and it could be fairly argued that since his two previous seasons to his last , were 58 and 61; that uninjured …. he could have reached 13 straight seasons at 50+ …. thus putting him in the 740-750 G range …. 13 seasons; in around only 1,000 games, 33 years old

        Meaning he’d be in 4th all time now (that is if he retired healthy at 33)…. 20-30 goals ahead of Ovi (as at now) ; done at 2 1/2 years younger than Ovi is now; 3 seasons sooner and about 180 games less than Ovi has already played

        Ovi will have to play at 40 at least if he hopes to catch Gretzky

        So… this NHL fan, subjectively concludes that the best goal scorer of all time is Mike Bossy

        As for best hockey player of all time … again subjective…. but as at now, to me


        In 20 years from now I think the top 3 are unchanged but IMHO , by then McD and Sid are ahead of Howe then; Ovi just after Howe

        Transparency here… my favourite player of all time is Orr; and my favourite player currently in the NHL, is Sid