NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 21, 2021

by | Mar 21, 2021 | News, NHL | 29 comments

Recaps of Saturday’s action, the Avalanche acquire goalie Jonas Johansson from the Sabres, plus the latest on Connor McDavid, Sean Couturier and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Connor McDavid became the first player to reach 60 points this season as his Edmonton Oilers overcame a 2-0 deficit to double up the Winnipeg Jets 4-2. McDavid had a goal and an assist for the Oilers (42 points), moving them into a tie with the first-place Toronto Maple Leafs in the Scotia North Division. He’s also tied with Toronto’s Auston Matthews for the league lead in goals with 21.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid is making a convincing case for the Hart Memorial Trophy this season.

Jack Campbell returned to the Toronto Maple Leafs net and turned in a 30-save shutout to douse the Calgary Flames 2-0. Campbell had been sidelined three weeks with a lower-body injury. Jason Spezza and Zach Hyman scored for the Leafs, who end a three-game losing skid and remain atop the North Division with 42 points with two games in hand over the second-place Oilers. Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen was unavailable to back up Campbell because of a lower-body injury, forcing an emergency recall of Michael Hutchinson.

Andrei Vasilevskiy made 30 saves for his 11th straight victory as the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1. Victor Hedman had three assists while Steven Stamkos tallied a goal and picked up an assist. The Lightning (46 points) have the league’s best record and sit atop the Discover Central Division. The Blackhawks (33 points) find themselves tied with the Columbus Blue Jackets for fourth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After exceeding expectations through the first two months the Blackhawks appear to be crashing back to earth. They’ve dropped four straight games and seven of nine contests in March.

Panthers’ goaltender Chris Driedger made 21 saves to shut out the Nashville Predators 2-0. Anthony Duclair had a goal and an assist for the Panthers (44 points), who sit two behind the first-place Lightning in the Central Division.

Sidney Crosby collected two assists and Bryan Rust tallied the game-winner as the Pittsburgh Penguins downed the New Jersey Devils 3-1. The Penguins played without Branden Tanev as he was a late scratch with an upper-body injury. With 39 points, the Penguins hold a three-point lead over the fourth-place Boston Bruins in the MassMutual East Division.

A 31-save shutout by Philipp Grubauer carried the Colorado Avalanche to a 6-0 blanking of the Minnesota Wild. Nathan MacKinnon collected three assists while Gabriel Landeskog had a goal and two helpers as the Avalanche (40 points) sit three points behind the first-place Vegas Golden Knights in the Honda West Division. Earlier in the day, the Avalanche acquired goaltender Jonas Johansson from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for a sixth-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avs also recalled Adam Werner from their AHL affiliate. The Athletic’s Peter Baugh doesn’t believe the Johansson acquisition resolved the Avalanche’s need for a reliable backup for Grubauer. “The moves feel like a stopgap, not a solution,” he said, pointing out neither Johansson nor Werner has a save percentage better than .900 or more than 15 games of NHL experience.

Mika Zibanejad tallied the game-winner as the New York Rangers upset the Washington Capitals 3-1. Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich each had a goal and an assist. Earlier in the day, the Rangers confirmed Kris Knoblauch will remain acting head coach for at least two more games as head coach David Quinn remains on the COVID-19 protocol list. They also announced defenseman Jack Johnson will be sidelined for the remainder of the season recovering from core-muscle surgery. Meanwhile, the Capitals (44 points) remain atop the Eastern Division.

A four-goal first period carried the New York Islanders over the Philadelphia Flyers 6-1. Casey Cizikas scored twice while defenseman Thomas Hickey picked up two assists in his first game with the Isles in nearly two years after his career was nearly derailed by injuries. Flyers center Sean Couturier was a late scratch with a lower-body injury. The Isles (44 points) have the same amount of points as Washington but sit second in the East as the Capitals hold a game in hand. The Flyers, meanwhile, remain in fifth place with 33 points.

Shootout goals by Patrik Laine and Oliver Bjorkstand gave the Columbus Blue Jackets a 3-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. Seth Jones tied the game for the Jackets with 29 seconds left in regulation while Elvis Merzlikins kicked out 35 shots for the win. The Jackets are tied with the fourth-place Blackhawks in the Central while the Hurricanes (43 points) are two points back of the second-place Panthers.

The Dallas Stars shut out the Detroit Red Wings 3-0 on a 21-save effort by Anton Khudobin. Tanner Kero, Andrej Sekera and Ty Dellandrea were the goal scorers. With 27 points, the Stars move to within five points of the Blue Jackets and Blackhawks for fourth in the Central.

Tomas Tatar tallied the shootout winner as the Montreal Canadiens edged the Vancouver Canucks 5-4, snapping a nine-game losing skid for the Habs in extra time. Tatar also had a goal and an assist in regulation for Montreal. The Canadiens played without Tyler Toffoli, who’s day-to-day with a lower-body injury. The win gives the fourth-place Habs (37 points) a two-point lead over the Canucks in the North Division.

Ryan O’Reilly and David Perron each had a goal and three assists to give the St. Louis Blues a 5-2 decision over the San Jose Sharks. Jordan Kyrou scored twice and picked up an assist for the Blues (37 points), who are tied with the Wild in the West Division but remain in fourth place because the Wild have two games in hand. Earlier in the day, they announced forward Oskar Sundqvist is done for the season with a torn ACL in his left knee.

A hat trick by Derick Brassard carried the Arizona Coyotes over the Anaheim Ducks 5-1. Jakob Chychrun had a goal and an assist for the Coyotes.


  1. Does anybody really think the Leafs would of won last nights game , with the sieve- Freddy – the soft goal king – Anderson in net ….
    It’s unbelievable , the remarks on here, people defending this guy .
    Who has 2 worse goaltenders than Anderson and Hutchison .
    Hopefully Jack Campbell isn’t injury prone and can carry a heavy workload going forward .
    Dubais isn’t smart enough to send Anderson packing .
    You can’t tell me , he can’t obtain another capable goalie to backup Campbell .
    Even someone , minor league affiliate is an upgrade to Anderson …,
    Hutchison should just retire , another JOKE !
    Knowing Dubais , he will trade for a forward …
    The problem is the second line , Tavares and Nylander , not adding a winger to those “2 slugs”
    Promote Spezza to the second line , slide Tavares to the fourth line , just trade the streaky Nylander , make CAP space
    My other concern is what their plans are their intentions with Hyman and Holl …
    Holl is their premier defenseman , the other 3 are average at best , Dermot should be gone, as well , Bogosion is fine ….
    Other people on this site seem to differ ..
    Who is the stats freak on this site, Pengy? Anyone know !
    What is the cap hit , if Leafs buy out Tavares contract

    • spezza needs more time for sure—he could play up on 1st 2nd or 3rd no problem

    • Blah, blah, blah….. and on and on……

      • Fairweather fans, huh? Who needs em?! We have our share on here as well.

    • I’ll defend him again Ken.
      He got hurt Feb 20.
      After that game he was 11-3-2. .906 Sv %. A little better than league average for this season.
      Led the league in wins.
      Since then 2-5 with .876.

      The issue seems pretty obvious.

      I’ve never played net other than shinny as a kid, but guessing doing it in the NHL with a groin injury is difficult.
      My guess is his team mates appreciate him playing hurt when they needed him, especially after watching him get roasted by fans for sucking it up when they needed him.

      I always root against the Leafs unless they play the Habs, but part of me really wants him to come back and turn it around.

      Fair weather indeed SOP.

  2. Anyone , this year’s playoffs how far do you believe the Maple Leafs will advance ?

    • As far as the bettman made American mr mathews will lead them.

  3. Best case scenario , they get out of their conference ..
    Depends on Campbell’s health.
    Move on from Anderson .
    Put him on someone’s dart board

  4. Why do the Pittsburgh Penguins suffer so many horrible injuries year in and year out???

    Tavares’ contract is murdering the Loaves … and yes, goaltending is an issue but it has become a major problem for many teams around the league … look at Carter Hart … Carey Price … and does anyone really think Jack Campbell can lead the Loaves to the promised land? bwa ha ha ha ha a teammate ties his skate crooked in front of him and he gets hurt …

  5. McDavid has 15 points 5 vs 5 in the last 9 games.

    Bruins fan let that sink in for a moment.

    • He’s something special, but I don’t cotton to the idea of supporting a tire fire of a team for a decade or more, purposely trying to lose enough to draft one like him.
      On the other hand, could get lucky like the Leafs and only tank for a few years before one drops into our lap. Either way, I like him a lot! He makes things happen.

      • The Leafs could give the Oil a run over that stretch SOP. From the lockout and the next 11 seasons (05/06 to 15/16) he Leafs missed the playoffs 10 of 11. And still haven’t won a playoff series.
        Oil, same thing 10 of 11, but won some playoff series, just finished worse more often, plus won a couple lotteries when they were not last. Including McDavid draft.
        I don’t think they lost on purpose other than maybe the leading into the RNH draft, having lived here since 2011. I think they were just that inept.
        Hiring Holland with enough experience to be patient and calm stuff down, I think those days are behind the Oilers for a while.

      • Fair enough, Ray. You make a valid point. I just can’t get behind the idea of tanking to grab a premium player. To your point, yes the Oil did win lotteries. The Leafs flat out mailed it in to get Matthews. The Wings did the same last season and it went sideways on them.
        One ball each, regardless of standings. Imho.

  6. Just to set the record straight on Toronto’s goalies, Jack Campbell, solid backup, great team-mate, has played in four games this year – four out of thirty-two. The jury might still be out on him.
    Andersen has played hurt because Campbell has been on the IR – does he get no credit for that? He has answered the bell for Toronto ever since he arrived – overused and underappreciated.
    Tell me that’s the Leafs biggest problem right now. The current problem is they don’t score at their usual pace. Matthews has been hurt, is playing through it, has no puck luck lately – is he the next scapegoat? I don’t think so – it’s always the goalie.
    If goalies are so critical, why aren’t they paid more?

    • Anderson, obviously people are not watching him ..
      He is facing very few shots , going down , not standing up , teams are going high on him .
      Not howitzers from the blue line , but knuckle balls finding the back of the net …
      His confidence has diminished ..
      He needs serious time off to find his game , which might not be there again ..
      Anderson is not the goalie that can steal a game for you , especially playoffs , even he’s operating on all cylinders .
      Right now , there are serious issues , he’s not in the future plans , Leafs can’t afford him ..
      Campbell , the dressing room “loves” this guy – affordable , big time team player
      His health , proven ability is still in question …
      Leafs don’t really have anything of significance , in the system .
      Tampa Bay is going to be a really difficult opponent with their present goaltender, Vazileski, however u spell it
      Halybuick , in Winnipeg is outstanding , as is Vancouver’s goalie , but don’t have the Tampa Bay team in front of them

      • Malarkey and hogwash.

    • BC do not utter Auston Mathews name associated with the word “scapegoat” Auston was born to lead TML to the promise land. He is the GOAT. He is the TRUE leader on the team. He bears too much responsibility, I hope he can just play the game without putting pressure on to himself. I hope he knows the leafs Nation is behind him, know that we appreciate him, and know that we are very aware of his god given talents. Thus, know that we don’t judge him in anyways. Auston Mathews is the Superman of TML justice league. Anybody who thinks AM is anything but will be on his way to SCORCHING hell of FIRE. In Mathews we BELIEVE.

      • You read too many DC comics … I mean, why beat around the bush Mike? Why don’t you come right out and say what you think of the Leafs and their chances come playoff time!

    • BCLF,

      The better goalies are paid upward of 7 million and 3 are paid 10 million.

      Its clearly an important position and more often than not carries a team as far as it goes in the playoffs.

      Teams go o a run when the goalie has a hot streak, yet rarely do these guys last. Real deal goalies have some dips, but carry the day when it counts.

      Looking from the outside it seems to me that Andersen has stood on his head and serves loyally behind a porous defense, btw Bogosian has a NTC and needs to be protected. One more reason for Andersen to run for the hills.

      • Oh yeah – who can forget the Hamburglar? 21 games of glory – then mostly oblivion thereafter.

      • How many Stanley cups did those 10 million goalies win again? About the same as some 800 thousand goalies I guess. I only know of 2 way overpaid 10 million plus goalies who’s the 3rd. Money well spent for sure.

  7. Further to this note
    Anderson faced 16 shots the game before , against Calgary – 5 goals
    Campbell – 31 shots last night -0 goals
    Enough Said !
    I am dead on this issue !!!
    Tavares is another “HUGE” hindrance ….
    Holl and Hyman have to be resigned …
    Matthews shouldn’t even be playing … He has a serious wrist situation , and cannot hammer the 1 timers to the back of the net …
    He should be under proper rehab and ready for the playoffs

    • Ken, I totally agree. Anderson is at best an average goalie in NHL. But, like I said before, the management will not be bringing in any reinforcement anytime soon. Firstly because Anderson is their fall guy come summer if they don’t win the cup. Secondly because they don’t have the cap space. No other teams in the league will come to their rescue, why would they? Anderson is like Dermott, they are taking up roster spots. In this case leafs can greatly improve simply by subtraction. Make Anderson to be their back up and swap Dermott with Sandin. You instantly improve the roster. It’s unbelievable, how Keefe can’t see how bad of a defenseman Dermott is. I would think by now, he has seen enough to know how detrimental Dermott is to the team. Also, the team as whole seem to really rally around Campbell whenever he is in net. With Anderson in net, no lead seem to be safe, but with Campbell there is this sense of quiet confidence at anytime of the game.

      As for the GOAT (AM), he definitely need to be rested, as he is not 100%. The problem is, even at his 30%, he is their best player, okay exception being Marner. At this point, Toronto is not totally out the woods in securing the playoff spot, as Vancouver and Calgary seem to have found their games. And, to be totally fair, Auston has been snake bit last 4 to 5 games. He must of hit about half a dozen posts. But, this shows how Toronto’s top end is overrated, specifically Tavares and Nylander.
      On the bright note, I am super enthused with Simmonds. This guy is exactly the type of player we need more of. He is physical, he is heavy on fore check, and never afraid to drop the gloves, also with touch of skill. Great player.

  8. Swapping Sandin for Dermot
    That’s a start , not sure on Sandin’s health status , where he is , with the Marlies perhaps .

    Dermot is definitely a detriment , error prone ….

  9. Why are there no Leafs fans are talking about how Dubais allowed Tyson Barrie to walk away from the Leafs???

    Second in scoring for D-men in the league & a plus 7.

    • He was on the Lears last year Uwey? I agree Dubas is in no way as smart as you.

  10. Tyson Barrie had a difficult time in Toronto , especially with Babcock
    He couldn’t find himself afterwards ..

    • Tyson Barrie was a right handed version of Morgan Reilly. Good offensive instincts but not so great defensively.

      The Leafs need defencemen that can play defence while making good outlet passes to the forwards.

      It may be an unpopular decision but a trade of Reilly for Ekholm makes sense. Leafs save cap space and get a better defensive player. He’s signed for the same amount of time as Reilly but saves the Leafs $1.25M

  11. Daryl
    I couldn’t agree more ..
    I was just listening to a buzz cast from Eklund ..
    He thinks Reilly is worth 8.5 mil/ year , upon renewal of his contract …
    If so, he has to Go
    Poile , I think would do this deal for Reilly.
    Dubais doesn’t have the gumph to propose it to him