NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 24, 2021

by | Mar 24, 2021 | News, NHL | 39 comments

Patrick Kane honored for his 1,000th career game, Andrei Vasilevskiy sets a franchise record, three more Canadiens games are postponed by COVID-19 concerns, changes to the NHL Draft and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


NHL.COM: Patrick Kane collected two assists to lead the Chicago Blackhawks past the Florida Panthers 3-2. Goaltender Kevin Lankinen made 33 saves as Chicago snapped a four-game losing skid. Before the game, the Blackhawks honored Kane for recently playing in his 1,000th career NHL game. Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov missed the game with a lower-body injury. The Hawks (35 points) hold a two-point lead over the Columbus Blue Jackets for fourth place in the Discover Central Division while the Panthers (44 points) remain one point behind the second-place Carolina Hurricanes.

Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane (NHL Images).

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy made 16 saves for his franchise-record 12th consecutive win as his club edged the Dallas Stars 2-1. Second-period goals by Steven Stamkos and Yanni Gourde gave the Lightning the victory. With 50 points, they sit atop the NHL’s overall standings and hold a five-point lead over the Hurricanes in the Central Division. Before the game, Stars coach Rick Bowness announced forward Joel Kiviranta will be sidelined “for a while” with a lower-body injury.

The Nashville Predators got a 31-save performance Juuse Saros to shut out the Detroit Red Wings 2-0. Mikael Granlund and Mathieu Olivier were the goal scorers while captain Roman Josi collected an assist in his first game in two weeks. The Predators (31 points) are four back of the Blackhawks in the Central. Meanwhile, the NHL is investigating an incident during this game when one of the referees was overheard on a hot mic apparently admitting to targeting the Predators for a penalty in the first period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The incident didn’t affect the outcome of the game but it would be a concerning issue for the league if its officials give the impression they’re singling out teams or players for questionable infractions.

Shootout goals by Conor Garland and Christian Dvorak gave the Arizona Coyotes a 5-4 victory over the Colorado Avalanche, snapping the latter’s seven-game winning streak. Arizona overcame a 4-2 deficit on third-period goals by Lawson Crouse and Phil Kessel to force extra time. Coyotes goaltender Antti Raanta was placed on injured reserve before the game with a lower-body injury. Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and two assists with the Avs (43 points), who sit two points behind the Vegas Golden Knights in the Honda West Division. Jonas Johansson made 28 saves in his debut with Colorado. The Coyotes (33 points) are four back of the fourth-place St. Louis Blues.

The New Jersey Devils got a 30-save effort from Mackenzie Blackwood to hold off the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3. Yegor Sharangovich and Travis Zajac each had a goal and an assist for the Devils. Sean Couturier scored twice for the Flyers (34 points), who remain two back of the fourth-place Boston Bruins in the MassMutual East Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers had won just three of their last 10 games. They’ve failed to gain ground on a Bruins team sidelined by COVID-19 protocols.


MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens next three games have been postponed because of COVID-19 protocols. They were scheduled to play the Edmonton Oilers today and Friday and the Ottawa Senators on Sunday. Their game this past Monday with the Oilers was also postponed when Canadiens forwards Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Joel Armia were placed on the COVID protocol list. They remain the only two Habs on the list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens will have a difficult time making up those games. The Gazette reports they’re scheduled to play 16 games in 30 days in April and four games in eight days in May. It will also be a problem for the Oilers.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Four Anaheim Ducks – Danton Heinen, Ben Hutton, Jacob Larsson and Anthony Stolarz – were placed on the COVID-19 protocol list. The total number of players on the list has grown to 15.

TSN: The NHL’s proposed changes to the draft lottery were formally approved yesterday by the league’s board of governors.

Starting this year, only the top-two spots in the draft will be determined by the lottery, down from the previous number of three.

Starting in 2022, a team can move up a maximum of 10 spots, meaning only 11 of the 16 non-playoff teams will be eligible for the first-overall pick. Also starting in 2022, a team can win the lottery no more than twice in a five-year period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pierre LeBrun reports the changes are meant to augment the chances of the bottom teams getting the first-overall pick. That became an issue in three of the last four drafts when teams with the worst record in the league slid to fourth overall in the draft lottery.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin skipped practice yesterday dealing with a lower-body injury. Head coach Peter Laviolette downplayed Ovechkin’s absence by claiming it was “more just maintenance than anything.”

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury and hasn’t been ruled out for tonight’s game against the Winnipeg Jets.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators forward Austin Watson could be sidelined for a while with an injured left arm. He was spotted in the stands during practice yesterday with a cast on that arm.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks forward Kurtis Gabriel was fined $3.017.24 by the NHL’s department of player safety for a pre-game altercation with Los Angeles Kings defenseman Kurtis MacDermid on Monday. Head coach Bob Boughner was fined $5,000.00 and the team received a $25,000.00 fine.


  1. It’s been obvious forever that nhl refs manipulated the games. “They put away the whistles”. “Playoff hockey”.

    It’s a shame.

    • So, I was unfamiliar with the hot-mic incident until reading about it on TSN early this morning.

      I thought to myself while reading it that “it’s probably Tim Peel”.

      Upon further reading, it was, apparently Tim Peel.

      I can’t imagine I’m the only one who thought that.

      • Whalercane, You can count me as one that immediately thought it was Peel before reading it was him. Maybe its just Canes fans.

  2. I’d like to point out something that has been a topic lately of people commenting on a player’s value based on being wavied and not being taken “even for free”.

    It has been repeatedly claimed by a few different people to the point of fanciful conclusion that their team’s slugs are grabbed by others, proving some kind of superiority.

    Reality check: this short season and flat cap have impacted waivers claims.

    Players claimed this year range around $725,000 with one at $1 million as the first claim.

    In other words, players earning $3-4 million aren’t claimed. Teams need to unload a 3-4 million player to pick up the “free” player.

    Habs leftover Juulsen was nabbed right away, the guy couldn’t crack the 7D or get on the taxi squad but at $700,000 was worth a chance and that is the kind of player who gets picked up.

    If “your” team has a few of those types as starters who are easy to unload rather than keep, your team might not be as good as you think it is.

    • It’s been theorized, too, that some claiming teams (e.g. Vancouver) could be gearing up for the trade deadline and/or the expansion draft.

      • George,

        Vancouver is gearing up by claiming 2 $700,000 guys….because that’s the room they have not because they can step in for Elias Pettersson and Tanner Pearson.

        Bottom line is Vancouver for example doesn’t have the room to gear up with $3-4 million “free” players, right?

      • Yep. But then, you do with what you have to do anything. The alternative is to shove your thumb up your butt and do nothing.

    • If “your” team has a few of those types as starters who are easy to unload rather than keep, your team might not be as good as you think it is.

      Or, if your team has some of those players starting then your team might have a 4th line.

  3. sitting here drinking my Black Rifle Coffee and thinking that when Tuukka Rask misses time he really misses a lot of time, the Bruins should look into trading him to a SC contending team and cut the cord ….

    • Hey Joe, where you goin with that gun in your hand-

      • That line cracked me up Casper 👍😄😄

        You owe Jimi a nickel in residuals though

      • Well done Caper, send the $ to Billy Roberts he wrote, although Jimi’s version way better.
        This Covid through the B’s is gonna hurt as they already missed games as the other team had it.
        They will have a whack of games to make up, plus it was a critical time to determine what to do next for Sweeney.

        PHI keeps losing so they likely get in if they can play 500 hockey.

        Tough call for the Don.

    • I agree,Bruins will be 4th seed at best and don t have a chance to beat either Capitals or Islanders.Don t let 40,41,46 leave for nothing in return.Then you can resign them at a reduced rate in the offseason and keep them in Boston.Why is this so difficult.

      • Hi Steve R

        No moves by Hex or Sweeney and if injuries persist and/or longer… Bruins in 3rd, Pens 4th

        Bruins only 4 pts behind but have 4 games in hand

  4. if I may

    Jake DeBrusk, Sean Kuraly, David Krejci, David Pastrnak, and Craig Smith all out because of Covid-19

    Tuukka Rask Jeremy Lauzon, Brandon Carlo, Zach Senyshyn, John Moore, Jarred Tinordi, and Kevan Miller all hurt


    • With the sudden proliferation of positive test results resulting in postponed games, the rapid spread of variants, and the acknowledged risk of further injuries if and when teams are forced to cram x number of games into y number of available days, has some pundits speculating about – gasp – season cancellation! Which would, in effect. reduce what has transpired to far into a long series of exhibition games.

      Let’s be honest here – we are in the “third wave” and a lot of people in Canada either won’t be eligible for the vaccine until well into the summer, or are among that fringe element who refuse vaccinations of any sort and so, either way, as a consequence, there is going to be further spread as and when governments try to relax restrictions in the interest of the economy.

      And hockey players – in this country at least – won’t be going to the head of the line to get their shots before others in their various age groupings become eligible to REGISTER – and I emphasize that because actual vaccination will be some weeks after registration.

      • “… transpired so far …”

  5. Re…

    “ one of the referees was overheard on a hot mic apparently admitting to targeting the Predators for a penalty in the first period.”

    Uh Oh

    I’ve been begging for reffing consistency all year and witnessing inconsistencies in-game ref to ref; game to game in B2Bs with same reffing crew; and games across the league with different reffing crews

    Now the refs are caught with their biased pants down

    Add to that the nightmare Parros show; and goal review inconsistencies ….

    Not good

    If true re hot mic…. 100% he must be suspended


    • He was scheduled to retire on April 24th. He has been suspended until then, so essentially fired without losing any benefits of retirement.

      • Thanks for the info and link DM

        It makes you wonder how much has been said off-mic when the arenas were full and no one could hear the refs

        Was there ever…”that decapitation by Wilson is going to slide as he told me I missed an interference call a few minutes ago”

        How many bad apples are out there amongst the NHL “stripes”

        Consistency …. that’s all that is asked…. from the drop of the puck on game one of the season , all the way through to triple OT game 7

        No player exempt from a call and no player should be able to draw a phantom call

        Is that going to happen…. nope

        Are the refs going to be on their toes for the next week….scrutiny scrutiny scrutiny… yes I would expect so

        ….but that has to continue past the next week through to the awarding of the SC

    • The fact that he did say it, show that it’s a more frequent thought and action then one may realize.

      Really shouldn’t be surprise

      • I was thinking the same thing Caper. The fact that it was said conversationally with another referee points to a larger issue than one phantom call last night.

        I haven’t heard what the context of the call was though. Was the ref actually trying to give Detroit an advantage thinking it would help them win the game?

        Had there been a previous bad call against Detroit and he “wanted” to make up for it? We’ve all seen that happen but probably not heard a NHL ref admitting to it.

      • Absolutely not a surprise Caper.
        We’ve all been watching a game and your team gets a couple PP’s and you just know that the next call is going against you.
        And then it usually does.

        I recognize Peel and know he can be pretty arrogant, but punting this guy with a month left for something every fan, talking head, player and coach basically acknowledges happens and thinks exists is odd. We all know make up calls happen all the time.

        Maybe this guy was already on notice from the NHL, I don’t know.

        My point is, if the NHL didn’t teach/coach/train this out of the game, means they were OK with it too. Or maybe they were behind the scenes and we didn’t know it.

        I hope this causes a change.

      • Ray Barker,
        Tim Peel has been making bad controversial calls for 10 years.

        At this point his entitlement is long established and easily explains his talking to Sutherland and considering that the NHL has never suspended him, the hot mic makes up for tears of abuse.

        ‘Canes and Preds fans can attest to blown calls that directly impacted games and overtimes.

  6. Never count the Bruins out and never say they have zero chance against an opponent because it’s really not true. If Boston gets healthy even without making a deadline move they will be a team no one wants to play. Experience been there done that great goaltending and best line in hockey is hard to beat.

    • Noted and quite valid, Obe

      But as a Pens and Leafs fan, I’d rather that Sweeney , misguidedly , stands pat. 🤞🙏

  7. The NHL commentators actually endorse the crooked application of the rules often saying: “better watch out in that scrum or the ref will just pick one player out to penalize just one team to get it under control”

    That should be a firable offence for the ref doing it and the commentator for suggesting it is a fair way to officiate games.

    It is a bush league. That is why I am a Leafs fan and not an NHL fan.

    • On many aspects – not just that factor – I can’t disagree, Wendel

    • Wendell, two things: first from what game are you quoting that call? I have heard commentators suggest referees penalize instigators to get a game under control and that is not out of bounds in my mind. Second, the Leafs are in the NHL. I understand your passion as a Toronto fan having grown up there before moving to Florida in ‘84. But as soon as you isolate yourself from the league in which you compete you are no longer in touch with the game as a whole and create the impression of being better than everyone else. Be better than that!

      • I’ have heard the exact same comment that Wendel mentions. Numerous times. Can’t pinpoint a game but I generally watch Bruins and Oilers, but when they aren’t playing I will watch whatever is on.

        I’ll try and be better too!

      • Yup. And it’s usually the ex nhl player color commentator that makes the comments. Cause they in the know.

  8. I’ve heard it hundreds of times from the colour commentators primarily, Simpson and Millen say it all the time (brief aside: it is great to not have to listen to millen this year).

    I cannot imagine trying to explain to a potential new fan how the game is officiated with ignored and missed obvious aggregious penalties and then tiny or total phantom hooks, trips and holds.

    If I was watching the NHL for the first time I would think it was fixed and the players and refs were characters like WWE.

    I long for the 70s and 80s when you earned a penalty and didn’t just lose the luck of the draw with the refs 5th make up call. The style of play wS much more entertaining with stars like Lafleur, McLeish, Middleton and Salming etc all weaving their magic in the theater of violence.

    • Guys I think we’re on the same page word applies for the leagues need for better officiating. Truth, the make up calls would not be so plentiful were it not for many of the ridiculously soft calls that were made before them. Some of the hooking calls immediately come to mind. When the blade of a defending player’s stick grazes a puck carrier’s glove results in a penalty without dispossesing said player’s possession it is beyond ridiculous. That call was made against Yanni Gourde which Port Tampa Bay down to men late in their game last night versus Dallas. The score was 2 to 1 for Tampa Bay at the time. They managed to kill off the five on three but it clearly could’ve impacted the outcome of that game

      • ShaneinTpa, two things about what you said. First, do we decide to call the game to the letter of the law or not… not being the allowance of the refs’ opinion of an infraction or not. The second thing is if a ref blows a call and makes one of those ticky-tack calls, in no way should he be calling a penalty (again one of those excuse me types) to make up for the previous bad call… that’s just the two wrongs thing.

        Also, can someone explain why “refs put away whistles in the play-offs? The same rules apply or not?

  9. Listen it happens in every league and all the time.

    Let them play, pick one out of the scrum, make-up call, cracking down on this one, losing control etc, etc

    During the Super Bowl, such comments made about the penalty calls. This is the Super Bowl don’t call that.

    It’s a mind set, do you want ever call made every time as per a black and white rule book?

    If you listen to ex-players their main comment is consistency, so the players know what is and isn’t being called.

    If you call the rule book wouldn’t that then become the consistency. If you hook, trip, slash, cross-check, wherever on the ice, in the play, away from the play, a close game or a blowout make the call. first minute, last minute, overtime, one man down doesn’t matter make the call.

    Watching a Jets game recently, player got cross check 4 times in the back in front of the net. Color commentator says “ref allowed the first 3 but the 4th was too many.” So the limit is 3 on the cross-check to the back.

    If you enforce the rule book as intended doesn’t that become the consistency? Or as it is and let the ref gauge the game and flow?

    • I saw a quote on LinkedIn recently. While it was meant as a commentary on leadership in the workplace it certainly applies to refereeing as well (some bosses are forced to be referees at times I suppose…). My last boss was a strictly by the book type about everything and while there were times I felt he could have given leeway in certain circumstances he was never accused of playing favorites or being inconsistent…

      “The culture of any organization is shaped by the worst behavior the leader is willing to tolerate.”

      • So licking opponents is the culture of Boston.