NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 28, 2021

by | Mar 28, 2021 | News, NHL | 22 comments

Recaps of Saturday’s action, the Rangers and Kings make a trade, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


NHL.COM: Third-period goals by Nick Ritchie and Craig Smith lifted the Boston Bruins over the Buffalo Sabres 3-2, handing the latter their 17th straight loss. Boston winger Brad Marchand missed the game when he was placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. With 39 points, the Bruins hold a three-point lead over the Philadelphia Flyers for fourth place in the MassMutual East Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres were actually the better team through the first two periods but couldn’t close the deal in the third.

The Flyers ended a four-game losing skid by edging the New York Rangers 2-1. Samuel Morin’s first NHL goal was the game-winner. The Rangers (34 points) sit two points behind the Flyers and five back of the Bruins.

Max Pacioretty’s overtime goal gave the Vegas Golden Knights a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. The Golden Knights (47 points) hold a one-point lead for first place in the Honda West Division over the Avalanche, who extended their points streak to 10 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the day’s most entertaining game and perhaps a preview of a playoff series between these two clubs later this spring.

Detroit Red Wings goaltender Calvin Pickard made 21 saves for his first win since 2018 by backstopping his club to a 3-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Dylan Larkin collected two assists and Robby Fabbri tallied what proved to be the game-winner as the Wings snapped a three-game losing streak. The loss leaves the Blue Jackets (34 points) one point behind the fifth-place Nashville Predators and three back of the fourth-place Chicago Blackhawks in the Discover Central Division.

Carolina Hurricanes forward Martin Necas (NHL Images).

Martin Necas scored twice and added two assists to lead the Carolina Hurricanes over the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3. Teammate Dougie Hamilton picked up an assist to extend his team points record to 14 games. Pat Maroon had a goal and an assist for Tampa Bay. With 49 points, the Hurricanes sit one back of the first-place Lightning in the Central Division.

An overtime goal by Auston Matthews lifted the Toronto Maple Leafs over the Edmonton Oilers by a score of 4-3. The Leafs overcame a 3-1 deficit on third-period tallies from John Tavares and William Nylander. Leon Draisaitl had a goal and two assists for the Oilers while Connor McDavid collected two assists. The win gives the Leafs (46 points) a two-point lead over the Winnipeg Jets for first place in the Scotia North Division. The Oilers sit one behind the Jets.

A hat trick by Bryan Rust powered the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 6-3 win over the New York Islanders, bringing goalie Ilya Sorokin’s eight-game win streak to an end. Sidney Crosby had a goal and an assist for the Penguins (46 points), who move within two points of the second-place Islanders in the MassMutual East.

The Nashville Predators picked up their fourth straight victory by downing the Chicago Blackhawks 3-1. Luke Kunin collected two assists in his first game since being sidelined on Feb. 28 with a lower-body injury. Blackhawks center Kirby Dach was held pointless in his season debut after missing 34 games with a fractured wrist. The win moves the Predators (35 points) just two points behind the fourth-place Blackhawks in the Central.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nashville defenseman Mattias Ekholm and forward Mikael Granlund are considered among the players most likely to move by the April 12 trade deadline. That could change, however, if the Predators overtake the Blackhawks.

Aaron Ekblad scored the game-winner as the Florida Panthers edged the Dallas Stars 4-3 in overtime. Ekblad tallied earlier in the frame but that goal was overturned on an offside review. Carter Verhaeghe had a hat trick for the Panthers (46 points), who remain three points back of the second-place Hurricanes in the Central. The Stars (31 points) sit six points behind the fourth-place Blackhawks but hold four games in hand.

The Arizona Coyotes got a natural hat trick from Phil Kessel and a 34-save shutout performance from Adin Hill to blank the San Jose Sharks 4-0. The Coyotes have won three straight and move into a tie with the St. Louis Blues with 37 points in the West Division. The Blues, however, hold fourth place with a game in hand.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes were expected to become sellers at the April 12 trade deadline. That will change if they stay in the thick of the West Division playoff race.

Third-period goals by Andrew Mangiapane and Sam Bennett enable the Calgary Flames to double up the Winnipeg Jets 4-2 and snap a four-game losing skid. Calgary winger Johnny Gaudreau collected an assist in his 500th career NHL game. The Flames (35 points) move two points behind the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens in the North Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gaudreau showed a lot of energy in this game after being publicly called out by head coach Darryl Sutter before this contest.


NEW YORK POST: The New York Rangers traded winger Brendan Lemieux to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for a fourth-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Post reports the Rangers were looking to free up a roster spot, perhaps for promising Vitali Kravtsov after he recently joined the team following a stellar season in the KHL. Lemieux, 25, will bring some grit to the rebuilding Kings’ checking lines.

TSN: Boston Bruins defenseman John Moore will be sidelined five-to-six months after electing to undergo hip arthroscopy and labral repair on March 22. He appeared in just five games this season.

ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes forward Nick Schmaltz was fined $5,000.00 by the NHL’s department of player safety for boarding San Jose Sharks defenseman Radim Simek on Friday.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins forwards Brandon Tanev and Mark Jankowski were placed on the NHL COVID-19 protocol list.

CBS SPORTS: Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Calvert is listed as week-to-week with an undisclosed injury.

New York Islanders forward Michael Dal Colle will miss the next two games with a lower-body injury.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens signed high-touted US college prospect forward Cole Caufield to a three-year entry-level contract. He will start his pro career with the Habs’ AHL affiliate in Laval. Caufield is a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award.


  1. I don’t feel like the Lemieux trade had anything to do with creating a roster spot. Not with taxi squad option and several other bottom 6 guys that can go to AHL. Rangers just gave him a 2 year deal this past off season with a 1.55 cap hit. I wonder if Lemieux had any locker room issues or if this could be clearing some cap space for another move? Really was no reason to trade him otherwise. Not that I minded. Not really a fan of his play and can’t believe he saw time on 2nd PP unit.

    • @slick
      Maybe Lemoo was on PP2 to showcase? His hands are terrible and throwing him infront of the goalie made no sense…even putting the bigger Kakko there is a better option

      Blackwell or Smith can do went mini-Lemoo brought.
      But he was Tony D’s buddy yeah?

      • ds. I wonder. Trade came out of nowhere. It’s neither a buy or sell IMO. Doesn’t bring back a player that helps team and he wasn’t set to be a ufa.

      • DiGuissepe is set to return and probably takes Lemieux spot on 4th line. Hoping Kravtsov moves into 3rd line RW spot sooner than later.

      • Lemieux is not a loss. He did look ago yesterday but he is replaceable.

        Rangers are loaded on the wings

  2. I watched 3 games in full yesterday and not only fully agree with Lyle that the Knights v Avs was the most entertaining of all NHL games yesterday…. but absolutely the best hockey

    Just fantastic hockey from all aspects

    Both of these two teams have justified merit in being in the SCF vs Bolts…. yet one of them won’t even make it out of the Div because they’ll be knocked out by the other

    If the NHL decides that the Semis are West v Central… again knocking out one of the “deserved” cup winners this year [Bolts, Knights, Avs]…. it’s a tragedy

    The perfect and most entertaining cup this year IMVHO would be Bolts v Knights or Bolts v Avs

    Great for my two fav teams winning yesterday… Pens handily; Leafs sneaking out a come from behind V….but…

    They (IMVHO) are just not at the collective team play that I saw from both Knights and Avs yesterday

    Re “ Pittsburgh Penguins forwards Brandon Tanev and Mark Jankowski were placed on the NHL COVID-19 protocol list.”

    When it rains it pours…😡👎🤬💩😭

    They are both out with injury and now get hit with the double whammy of being under Covid Protocols

    This of course doesn’t mean they have it; it is just another kick to the nadz for Pens

    Pens did quite well with entire 2nd line and 2/3rds of third line out

    I’ve been very impressed with Gaudreau, and Rodrigues has kicked it up a notch. Laffy, who has been struggling this year, had a good game.

    Pens still need a 3C…. Hextall, pick up the phone !!

    • Like Hextall hasn’t already been making calls … wow … it takes two to make a trade plus the what do the Pens have to offer??? Burke said we don’t have any picks to trade and our young guys are off the table … whom does that leave to trade? Lafferty? Angelo? Sceviour? Jankowski? You couldn’t get a batch of broken sticks for those guys …

      • Hi Ed

        Here is where we differ

        I don’t believe Hextall was actively calling; and there has already been posts stating he didn’t call on Staal

        Re Burke and “ our young guys are off the table”…. he didn’t say it with those words or that strong of intimations

        He said that he was not trading picks from this year (and said that if it is a pick from next year that the 1st is off the table, leaving a 2nd if a real good deal comes up) and would “likely have to look real hard” regarding any moves of his prospects

        He hasn’t out and out said that a specific prospect is off the table

        Poulin; P-OJ; Legare should not even be in any convo

        That said…. Laffy; Maniscalco; O’Connor are trade possibilities

        He also has a surplus at LHD now

        C UFAs are slim pickings; but that is his need

        He can and should , get one

    • Pengy, your comment doesn’t make sense. There is only one deserving cup winner. That will be the team that comes out of that conference by beating the other two or the Leafs if they get a goalie.

      • Pengy

        As per CapFriendly PIT has $1.1M in TDL cap space. If they want to make a move for a 3C it will either have to be a $ for $ move or the other team will have to retain salary. Who would you like to see Hextall target? I know you want someone to take Zucker but he’s currently on LTIR and not having a great year.

        Now for my Leafs…

        They need help at LW, on D, and a better option than Hutchinson as 3rd string G.

        I think this will be their last kick at the can with the current “core 4” as WW will likely have to be sacrificed to upgrade at D and in G.

        I had a crazy idea the other day. Why not try to get Kessel out of ARZ? He’s a better option than Hall. He’s an underrated playmaker and he’s still fast. He’s shown that he can perform in the playoffs too. ARZ wants to restock their prospect pool and get out of cap hell too.

        How’s this look?

        To ARZ: Andersen, Kerfoot, 2021 1st round pick,

        To TOR: Kuemper, Kessel (50%retained) Garland

        The salaries would work out pretty even.
        Kessel would play RW with JT and Garland could play LW. Move WW to 3C ?

      • Hi WH17

        What I was trying to convey is that there is a possibility that only 1 of Bolts; Knights; Avs are in the SCF….. and IMVHO; 2 of those “should” be playing against each other in the SCF

        This is the only year where my two favourite teams (Leafs and Pens) could (although basically so remote it ain’t happen’) meet in the SCF

        This would be fantastic for me…. I get to hope and pray for 7 OT games; last one quintuple OT…. with literally not a care if Sid or JT hoists the cup

        Alas…. that is but a dream…. neither of the two is mathematically assured of a playoff birth yet; should be ; but not 100 % assured

        They are both , far from assuring their Semis birth

        …. and even if they do both make it to the semis…. they could be sawed off against each other

        Neither team; as at now; IMVHO; can get by any of Bolts; Knights; Avs….so SC in ‘21 for either Leafs or Pens without a change…. mmmmmm ….. nyet

        The change for Leafs needed… D & G

        The biggest need for Pens is a stop to any more injuries and a return to health for the roster so that lines can get back to chemistry and cohesiveness. A fully healthy Pens line-up , just needs, IMHO , a respectable 3C

        With a healthy roster, and a respectable 3C…. Pens can win their Div and with that accomplishment has a 1/3rd chance at getting into the SCF… they meet either Bolts, Avs, Knights in SFs…. I have serious doubts of going further

        I truly believe that a healthy Pens; with a 3C added; can beat (in a series) any team in the North Div; as at the make-up right now (of every team in the North…. including Leafs).

        If the Pens stay injury ridden to key players (last night entire 2nd line and 2/3rds of 3rd line on IR or LTIR) …. winning just one series in the East will be difficult

        With the North… I am not 100% convinced that Campbell can get Leafs to the Semis; and I don’t have much confidence that Freddy can…. so that is one injury (to Campbell) away from a strong possibility of another 1 and done year for Leafs

        I’m still (as a Leafs fan) very afraid of Helebyuck

        Go Leafs Go
        Go Pens Go

      • Hi Daryl

        As you may know, I am equally a Leafs and Pens fan

        Pens window (with the aging core) is basically shutting

        Leafs…. the window, IMVHO, does not start until next year. I just can’t envision any way in which Leafs can have any chance at beating one of Knights; Avs, Bolts

        Their high watermark this year IMVHO; would be to get to the semis. They (CanDiv) get matched against the West or Central…. that’s it

        Vs East

        Bruins… if Sweeney gets his gear together and gets a top 6 W and healthy goalies….that team overall; is better than Leafs

        Caps…. Leafs might get by them , but the crunch and smash of Caps might be too much

        Isles…. they can; and likely would, keep scores low… Isles goaltending > Pens

        Flyers… Leafs beat; but I am doubting Flyers make playoffs let alone win Div

        Pens (as at right now with all the injuries)…. get beaten by Leafs. Healthy Pens with just a 3C added; beat Leafs as is and/or a Leafs team with any change made that they can get done within Cap

        Re Pens and space… CF has not included Zucker’s amount yet …. not showing until he is off… Zucker’s LTIR amount …. already at 34 days…. is already in and of itself, $1.5 M. Gino, is week to week …. will not be back until April; if he gets to 8/4 (that’s 24 days and at least 10 games)… he kicks in at LTIR… at just 24 days (min)…. that $1.9 M extra in space… minimum…. so Pens will have space for a move

        Cheapest and easiest , and therefore best move…. has passed them by… Staal

        Re my hopes in someone taking Zucker… already practicing with team ; will be able to play ver shortly …. so his tradability will have nothing to do with injury

        Ducks had tried in vain earlier this year to move Henrique

        I truly believe that a change of scenery benefits both players… Ducks with their internal budget; save more than $6M in committed Sal

        Pens with


        Would have 3 scoring lines ; taking off all the pressure currently on the top line; and a shut-down line; and depth

        Re Leafs

        See my response to WH17

        I just can’t see any shot at all this year…. none. Why blow futures

        Yes D needs upgrading; so does the G

        They can’t win next year with the same 4 Fwds taking up 1/2…. they need a starter … call that $5M …. minimum; and Hyman (they MUST re-sign) can NOT be had for less than a $1.5 M raise IMHO…. and that’s taking a hometown discount

        Off-season… WW for a D and average 3W; and a those two for a total of max $6 M…. gets $1M towards Hyman’s well deserved raise

        Re Kessel….. your asking the wrong guy. I didn’t like the overpay when Leafs got him the first time; watched him start to decline quickly in his last year as a Pen; and then last year he fell off the Cliff in the desert

        This year his offence has come back somewhat … 14-12-26 in 35 GP; but watching him play tells me that he is exactly the type of player Leafs don’t need…. puck on his stick 👍👍👍👍👍👍; puck with the opposition 💩😡🤬😡🤬💩👎👎👎👎


        “To ARZ: Andersen, Kerfoot, 2021 1st round pick,
        To TOR: Kuemper, Kessel (50%retained) Garland”

        I can’t fathom Arz doing this deal.

        Keumper waaaaay better than Freddy
        Garland… this kid IMHO; is the real deal…. much better than Kerfoot
        1st not enough for them retaining 50% (of his remaining, already retained) of Kessell

        Even if this deal comes through…. IMHO…. still doesn’t get Leafs past Bolts or Avs or Knights

        Fingers crossed that Dubas doesn’t go big…. as big is still not enough this year

        Go Leafs Go
        Go Pens Go

  3. With Nashville and Arizona winning of late, too much uncertainty , as how teams want to move forward .
    Any significant player movement , looks like it will be closer to the deadline , rather than anything immediate .
    Except for Buffalo , they can “dump” their roster , WHENEVER!!
    Boston needs to do something , to only “squeak” a win, with them ..

    • Ken, it was close and as Lyle said Buffalo out played Boston in the first 2 periods. But a win is a win and we’ll take it.

      We still don’t know what Boston is until they have a full roster.

      Players not available yesterday:

      Task, Marchand, Debrusk, Kulman, Kuraly, Carlo, Miller, Tinordi.

      Lauzon was kind of pushed back in for his first game in awhile.

      Not to mention Kase if he ever plays.

      Moore is done, he will go on ltir giving Sweeney more capspace if he is able to do anything as the standings are getting tighter.

      • @Caper
        Marc Staal coming to town for you

      • Ya it wasn’t pretty Caper, but as you say take the points and on to the next one.

        Bright note – Vladar. Brain cramp cost the first goal, but played well overall.

        Your idea of trading Halak makes more sense by the day.

        Assuming Rask gets healthy of course.

    • Here’s my question for teams that are making a late surge to get the last spot…

      Since no fans are allowed in the buildings does it make sense for these bubble teams to trade for futures? They’re not going to get extra revenues from playoff gates.

      ARZ has no first round pick in the 2021 draft. They have some interesting assets to move.

      NSH is in the same boat. CHI has been awful lately which has allowed the Preds to catch up.

    • That trade is pure fantasy for us leaf fans. Dubas and co will have to go in with their Dali masks and alot of firepower.

    • Why would Zona ever make that trade ? They want to shed salary not eat half of Kessels . Plus trade a goalie at a good cap hit for and iUFA goalie and then throw in a top young prospect for A guy the leafs fans have in every trade in Kerfoot . All for a late first . I think Kefoot maybe a Marluo type trade give up a pick to rid the contract next year .

      • Swany

        I don’t think Kerfoot can be compared to Marleau at all. Marleau had a year at $6.5M left on his contract and was well past his best before date.
        Kerfoot is only 26 and making $3.5M. He’s about a 35-40 point player. Only real reason Leafs fans include him in trades is because he’s one of the only forwards other that the core 4 and Hyman making more than $1.5M a season.

        It’s been rumoured that ARZ might trade Garland because he has arbitration rights and due for a raise. They’re in need of picks/prospects and always in trouble financially

  4. Necas has Aho type skills. Robert Kron was instrumental in both selections. Good move by Francis to hire him as director of scouting for Seattle. Carolina is fortunate they do not have to protect Necas in the expansion draft.

  5. I didn’t realize Boston had all of those players out ..
    I watched the Bruin, Washington game awhile ago, as per Carlo and the “menace” Wilson .
    Marchand is a “huge “ loss, hopefully not for long ..He’s the motor , that runs that team , unique player!