NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 25, 2021

by | Mar 25, 2021 | News, NHL | 32 comments

Recaps of Wednesday’s games, referee Tim Peel will no longer work NHL games, the Lightning and Ducks makes a trade, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.


NHL.COM: Sidney Crosby and Zach Aston-Reese each had a goal and an assist as the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Buffalo Sabres 5-2. Penguins winger Kasperi Kapanen left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury. A further evaluation of his condition is expected today. With 42 points, the Penguins sit two points behind the second-place Washington Capitals in the MassMutual East Division. The Sabres have dropped a league-record 15 straight games in the shootout era. It’s also a franchise record for the beleaguered club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: At this point, I almost wish there was a mercy rule so the Sabres could just end their schedule today and start the rebuild process. It’s just so painful watching this club flounder through the remainder of a lost season.

Winnipeg Jets forward Andrew Copp (NHL Images).

Winnipeg Jets forward Andrew Copp scored a career-high four goals to lead his club to a 5-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks. Bo Horvat returned to the Canucks lineup after leaving the previous game between the two clubs with a lower-body injury. The Jets (42 points) move into a three-way tie with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers with the Leafs holding first place in the Scotia North Division with a game in hand over the Jets and two on the Oilers. Meanwhile, the Canucks (35 points) remain two points back of the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens, who hold six games in hand.

The Ottawa Senators staged their second straight upset of the Calgary Flames with a 3-1 victory on second-period goals by Josh Norris, Chris Tierney and Nikita Zaitsev. Filip Gustavsson made 28 saves for his second straight win. The Flames have dropped three straight and remain two points behind the Canucks. Earlier in the day, the Senators announced winger Austin Watson (hand injury) will be sidelined for four-to-six weeks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: While the sidelined Canadiens hold games in hand, victories aren’t assured for them in what becomes a more compact, difficult schedule. The Canucks and Flames had golden opportunities to overtake the Habs in the standings. These recent losses could prove costly to their playoff hopes.

Jared Spurgeon scored twice and Ryan Suter collected his 600th career point as the Minnesota Wild edged the Anaheim Ducks 3-2, handing the latter their 10th straight loss on home ice. With 41 points, the Wild sit two back of the second-place Colorado Avalanche in the Honda West Division. Wild winger Zach Parise missed the game due to COVID-19 protocols. 

The San Jose Sharks got two goals from Evander Kane and a 42-save performance by Martin Jones to double up the Los Angeles Kings 4-2. Sharks captain Logan Couture left the game in the final minutes of the third period following a late hit by Kings forward Jeff Carter.


The NHL yesterday announced referee Tim Peel will no longer be working games after he was got on a hot mic stating his desire to call a penalty against the Nashville Predators during Tuesday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Peel wasn’t fired but simply relieved of his duties until his intended retirement following what was slated to be his final game on April 24. The incident has raised concerns from Predators players and from pundits over how games are managed by on-ice officials. Some observers believe this could be an opportunity for the league to address this issue but there’s no guarantee we’ll see significant change. The league could simply dismiss this incident as a one-off and move on.

TAMPA BAY TIMES/THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Tampa Bay Lightning traded forward Alexander Volkov to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for forward prospect Antoine Morand and a seventh-round pick in the 2023 draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois explained this move as a way of providing some short-term salary-cap flexibility and insurance against dressing only five defensemen in the event some of their blueliners suffer multiple short-term injuries. Volkov saw his ice time decline over the course of this season. Ducks GM Bob Murray believes he’ll benefit from a fresh start in Anaheim as the Ducks add more youthful talent.

NBC SPORTS: Bob McKenzie reports contract talks have started between the Minnesota Wild and Kirill Kaprizov’s representatives. The 23-year-old winger is a restricted free agent this summer. McKenzie suggests they could be working toward a mid-range deal of five or six years or possibly longer. A bridge contract might not work here because it’ll take Kaprizov up to his UFA eligibility age.

SPORTSNET: Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen remains day-to-day with a lower-body injury. There is no definitive timeline for his return.

STLTODAY.COM: Former Blues defenseman Bob Plager was killed yesterday in a traffic accident in St. Louis. He was 78. An original member of the Blues renowned for his hip checks, Plager spent 11 of his 14 seasons in St. Louis and three seasons before that with the New York Rangers, finishing his career with 146 points in 644 NHL games. He and his brothers Barclay and Bill skated for the Blues from 1967 to 1972. Plager was one of the most popular players in franchise history and among the most popular of their alumni.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Former NHL linesman Swede Knox passed away on Monday from lung cancer at the age of 73. Knox worked 2,248 NHL games from 1972 to 2000, including five Stanley Cup Finals and one NHL All-Star Game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to the Plager and Knox families, as well as their friends and former teammates and colleagues.


  1. Sitting here drinking my delicious Black Rifle Coffee I came across a article that stated the Bruins Kase has played his last two games as a Bruin way back when as a pending RFA he probably won’t be back….Then I went a little digging …in the last Month of play the Bruins have been awarded 8 goals total from Ritchie, Smith, DeBrusk & Coyle which shows there’s no secondary scoring …..Sweeney sure knows how to pick them

    • Sweeney s is a capologist.His strentgh is in negotiating contracts although he missed on Coyle s.He needs to make a decision on trades soon.Saying that he is waiting to see when the group gets healthy is a pipe dream.Between injuries,covid and the schedule you need to be proactive.Evaluate your team,Do they appear to be a Stanley cup contender,absolutely not.

      • Steve… agree they aren’t a SC contender even if healthy there’s no help from the middle 6 with scoring and the type of player Sweeney usually brings in won’t move that needle only team worse than the Bruins 5/5 play are the Sabers …. maybe it’s time to shed salary with their pending UFA & RFA and others get the top 3 help instead of bandaids … move Rask,Krejci,DeBrusk among others to SC contenders

    • Let me ask you joe. You are a GM of another team. Sweeny calls you and asks about a star player. Who do you ask for in return?

      • Who’s asking for stars I want a few players that have been on the Bruins wish list for the last 5 years…. 20 – 25 goal scorer with size and uses it … get a Dman who can play both ends of the ice don’t have to be a star

    • How many wins Joe and how many losses it’s still how the game is decided.

      • Really … thanks

  2. I remember watching the Plager brothers when I was a kid.

    I always got them mixed up

    Condolences out to the Plager family

    Condolences also out to the Knox family

    Re: Peel “firing”…. ummmm “early retirement”👍👍👍

    Re Pens win 👍👍👍

    Re possibly another key player (Kappy) injured👎👎👎

    …if Kappy a no go tonight… they have to call up somebody, so why not give Burkie a happy meal of the long pants Zohorna🤔🧐

    Re Appleton 4 Gs 👍👍👍👍

    But Appleton earned something like maybe 30K (??) for his feat last night; some woman entered a contest and because Appleton got 4Gs, she won 100 Gs👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍

    Re both Jets AND Oil Noel (in the standings) knocking on Leaf’s sagging back door 🤬💩😡

    Re Kirill Kaprizov…. and his agent…. start loading up the truck💰💰💰💰💰

    Sens… showing us just a glimpse of what is coming over the next 2-3 years…. so 👍👍for Sens fans; 👎👎 for Leafs and other “East” Div (back next year) teams

    Lyle, thanks for the explanation re Volkov move… didn’t make sense when I first saw it; does now👍👍

    • “ Noel” ????

      How in holy Hannah did that pop in there???… that’s auto-correct gone seriously awry …. not a fan of the auto-correct

      • Heh. Have you ever typed a word that you screwed up so badly by “hitting the cracks” that even Auto-Correct comes back with “I ain’t got nothin’ man?”

      • No

        But Mrs. Pengy apparently has that answer for me all the time

    • Sorry, but it was Copp with 4 goals not Applelton.

      • Noted and Thanks Rocket

        My bad

        I was just impressed both with the 4 goals , and with the lady winning $100 K because of those goals

  3. Random thoughts this morning:

    What could be the cruelest blow for the Sabres management – and their fans – will be to finish dead last … and then watch someone else get lucky in the draft and bump them down the list.

    Finally got to see Alex Formenton in the Senators line-up and while he didn’t score (unless you count that shot that deflected off his pants and beat Gustavsson (thank you Pittsburgh) for the only Calgary goal) his speed was noticeable. Especially since he was replacing the essentially useless Watson on the left side.

    While the wins were nice to see, I think tonight the Leafs will shake off their recent funk and win fairly big – 5-1 or 5-2.

    Sorry to hear about Bob Plager’s death. He and his brothers made the Blues a must-watch in those early original expansion years.

    • Yep, you’re welcome, another Jim Rutherford give away …

    • Sabres have franchise center, franchise dman, potential 1st line center in couzins, a few other top 6 wingers, 2nd pairing D in risto and cant win in 15

      its broken

      • Hi ds

        I say , until Pens have played their 8 games against Sabres…. don’t fix the broken

        Tonight actually …. all pressure is on Pens…. they are expected to win but now likely w/o Kappy… and because there is an expectation of them to win… pressure on Pens… the more relaxed Sabres just might pop a couple of early ones and ride it out

    • I don’t know about that George. The upcoming draft is fettered by a severely reduced number of games by which to judge prospects. It is shaping up to be the draft with the most educated guesses in a long time.

      Besides, the worst thing that can happen to the Sabres is the Pegulas continuing as owners. What perpetual losers gut their scouting?

      • I meant that as a more enticing feature for their tortured fan base more than anything else FD. Perception of having the # 1 is a lot better than seeing this wreck of a season followed by dropping several slots … and who knows, maybe some team further down the list have done some extra research and set their sights on someone in particular … trading the pick might help with shoring up here and there.

    • Welcome George! We even tossed you guys another goalie for good measure!

      • Yeah Chrisms, but if Gustavsson continues to impress and proves to be the real deal, that helps remove some of the sting of the Zibanejad for Brassard fiasco with the Rangers since it was Suitcase Brassard (now on his 8th NHL team) that went to Pittsburgh for Gustavsson, Cole and a couple of picks, including a 2018 first-rounder that turned out to be D prospect Jacob Bernard-Docker.

  4. >>>The league could simply dismiss this incident as a one-off and move on.

    This. This is exactly what they’re going to do. You didn’t expect an actual substantive response, did you? Bwaa ha ha.

    The league lucked into this as Peel was retiring anyway. So, they didn’t have to face the wrath of the NHLOA, or come up with any troubling pro/con debates.

    “Hey, he’s leaving anyway, let’s ‘fire’ him and say we’re done”.

    This is the easiest, most convenient PR fix that I can remember.

  5. I don’t follow the Tampa rationale in this deal.

    I get that they traded a roster player for a non-roster play who has the same salary albeit in the AHL.

    Tampa now has only 19 roster players, 11F, 6D and 2G.

    The temporary salary relief comes from not filling out 4 lines, couldn’t they just waive the player to the taxi squad or AHL?

    • Hi HabsFan30

      That’s what I was thinking at first

      However… waive Volkov… prob lose to another team… zero return on the move…. this way, they get same Cap relief but get “something” in return

      “Something is better than nothing” …. was a favourite mantra of my late father (who grew up in the Depression)

      • If it were me… to save more Cap… since they repeatedly tried to trade TJ; and I can’t think of any team that would pick him up on waivers…. since he doesn’t have a NMC (he does have an NTC)…

        Waive him (send him down just like ELCs) on non game days (since it requires 24 hours… do for every time Bolts have at least 2 games off per game)

        While buried …$1.07 M (annual Cap) comes off the books

        That’s $9K – $10 K every day they can do that

        Again… per my late father… something is better than nothing

        They are right at Cap… so any strategy that works is good

        The down risk…. someone picks him up…. and they tried to move him anyway and would have cost a sweetener!!

      • Pengy,

        They traded him for a minor league player but are now short a man for their roster.

        Had they lost Volkov (unlikely) they’d replace him on the 4th line the same way as they will now.

        Your idea of waiving TJ makes much more sense as he’s too expensive to claim, nobody took him for “free” when he was waived twice this year.

      • Hi HabsFan30

        With you

        Us “logical” arm chair GMs would have waived TJ between games

        … BriseBois didn’t do the TJ route; was quite literally at the Cap ceiling so had to do something

        Waiving Volkov… for sure he gets picked up… receiving team gets an NHL player (albeit on the lower end of production) for giving up nothing and has this asset (Volkov) for the lowest possible cost (League min Sal) and owns his rights for a few more years

        I have full confidence he would have been picked up… I believe his NHL rights go for another 5 years…. can’t get paid less; and even if his ceiling is 4th line/depth…. he is better than the worst roster NHLer on at least 10 teams; and is only 23

        So… since BrisBoise HAD to do something AND didn’t do the TJ route; AND every other BOLT for sure would have been picked up on waivers…. he chose to take Volkov off of his Cap hit; AND got something instead of nothing

        Re replacing Volkov on roster just to have 20 skaters…. Raddysh, Katchouk , et al can be moved on (game day) and off (off day) the NHL squad w/o having to clear waivers

        I’m surmising here… I’m thinking BrisBoise fells Raddysh better than Volkov…. that move saves Cap on off days; and he (BrisBoise) got at least something for Volkov

        Not waiving TJ in off game days…. I don’t know why he wouldn’t do it…. he’s not making TJ take a pay cut… same Sal up or down; while on Taxi squad he can practice with the club.

        Is BrisBoise trying to save TJ any embarrassment??? He already trade over and over to trade him, AND with sweeteners… that didn’t work… how could waiving him embarrass TJ any more

        BrisBoise always has the option of discussing with TJ and agent ahead of time and then announcing his Capology strategy publicly…. win-win-win !,

        Bolts still remain as one of the 2 cup favs…. their real concerns lie in any potential major injury to Vaz

    • Actually Habfan Volkov had the opportunity to show he is an NHL player and in the process was badly outplayed in a 4th line spot by Ross Colton. Since the lightning often play with 11 forwards and seven defenseman they only have to pay the 12th forward NHL money when they use him in that role. It seems minuscule but given Tampa Bay’s woeful cap situation, every little bit helps and the savings gives them enough flexibility to reach out for other options given an injury

      • Pengy if production didn’t matter your theory would make more sense. But it does matter. Johnson, for all the criticism he gets is averaging a half a point a night with only 13 minutes average ice time. Volkov’s departure doesn’t move the production needle in either direction one iota. If Johnson were not here Tampa Bay would not have an equal or better replacement as both a 3C and on the second PP unit. Sure, his cap hits stinks, but I wouldn’t be going to far out on a limb to say he would be an upgrade at 3C on your team

      • Hi ShaneinTpa

        Sorry if I miss conveyed

        I meant TJ waived in-between games (would have to be a 2 games off period)

        TJ loses zero dollars

        TJ while on Taxi squad on off days… can practice with the big club

        Bolts get Cap relief on those “off” days

        TJ waived…. won’t be picked up by any team

        TJ doesn’t miss a single game (if healthy)

        Bolts lose none of his game production


      • ShaneinTpa

        If I understand you correctly, your explanation makes more sense than the statement by BriseBois, he got rid of a player in return for a prospect and hail mary draft pick.

        The cap flexibility story didn’t make sense, if he was outplayed, they could have waived him easily.

        I think you’re misunderstanding the TJ waiving suggestion.

        It would for non playing days only, getting bounced up and down for cap savings.

        Tyler Johnson is a very good hockey player but clearly nobody is willing to assume his contract. He’s been waived twice and there has been no trade partner.

      • Just did a quick look at the Bolts sched… looks like there was/will be 7 times this season where there is 2 days or more off….

        So that’s 7 days of the season… Cap hit calculated per diem … season 13/1–10/5… 118 days… so 7 days at his Cap nets about $300 K in Cap savings… Bolts right at the ceiling… every Cap dollar counts

        I was just trying to come up with a solution where player loses no money; team gets his production for 56 games (barring injury) and saves $300 K in precious Cap