NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 31, 2021

by | Mar 31, 2021 | News, NHL | 58 comments

The Canadiens get a shutout win in their first game in 10 days, the injury bug bites the Panthers again, the Flyers put Shayne Gostisbehere on waivers, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price made 17 saves for his 49th career shutout to blank the Edmonton Oilers 4-0. Brendan Gallagher had a goal and an assist for the Canadiens in their first game since March 20. With 39 points, the Habs opened a four-point lead over the Calgary Flames for fourth place in the Scotia North Division with five games in hand. The Oilers (45 points) remain a point back of the second-place Winnipeg Jets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A good start for a rested Canadiens squad in their first game in 10 days after COVID-19 protocols postponed four of their games. The Oilers were a tired bunch playing their third game in four nights.

New York Rangers winger Artemi Panarin (NHL Images).

Artemi Panarin had a goal and two assists as the New York Rangers tallied four unanswered third-period goals in a 5-2 win over the Washington Capitals. Igor Shesterkin kicked out 30 shots for the Rangers (36 points), who sit five points behind the fourth-place Boston Bruins in the MassMutual East Division. The first-place Capitals (50 points) remain two points up on the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Bruins, meanwhile, overcame a 4-2 deficit to defeat the New Jersey Devils 5-4 on shootout goals by Charlie Coyle and David Pastrnak. Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood made 44 saves. Bruins winger Marchand returned after missing one game to COVID-19 protocols while defenseman Brandon Carlo played his first game since being sidelined by an upper-body injury on March 5. With 41 points, the Bruins sit three up on the fifth-place Philadelphia Flyers in the East Division.

An overtime goal by Eeli Tolvanen lifted the Nashville Predators over the Dallas Stars 3-2. Tolvanen and Calle Jarnkrok each had a goal and an assist while Juuse Saros made 33 saves as Nashville picked up their sixth straight victory. With 39 points, the Predators sit fourth in the Discover Central Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators’ playoff hopes were fading away two weeks ago and they seemed destined to become sellers before the April 12 trade deadline. Management might be rethinking its trade plans as they surge back into postseason contention.

A 31-save performance by Kevin Lankinen enabled the Chicago Blackhawks to hold off the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1. Alex DeBrincat tallied his 19th goal of the season for the Blackhawks, who are tied with the Predators but sit fifth in the Central because of two fewer regulation wins. The Hurricanes (49 points) are third in the division, one point back of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers.

The Panthers, meanwhile, got two goals from Carter Verhaeghe to down the Detroit Red Wings 4-1. Sergei Bobrovsky made 35 stops for the win. Florida winger Anthony Duclair left the game with an upper-body injury and is expected to be sidelined a week to 10 days. The Panthers are tied with the Lightning with 50 points but sit in second place in the division as the latter hold a game in hand.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Duclair joins Aleksander Barkov (lower-body), Patric Hornqvist (undisclosed) and Aaron Ekblad (fractured left leg) on the Panthers’ injury list. Eklad is done for at least the regular season following surgery on Monday.

Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins made 37 stops in a 3-1 upset of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Nick Foligno had two assists for the Blue Jackets (36 points), who sit three points behind the Predators in the Central. The Lightning (50 points) have lost three straight.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers raised eyebrows yesterday by placing Shayne Gostisbehere on waivers, generating speculation over the 27-year-old defenseman’s future with the club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gostisbehere has struggled since Alain Vigneault became the Flyers head coach in 2019. His $4.5 million salary-cap hit makes it unlikely he’ll be claimed. The Flyers could put him on their taxi squad or demote him to their AHL affiliate if he clears waivers at noon ET today. There’s also talk he could be traded if he goes unclaimed.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks forward Adam Gaudette tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday. He was participating in practice when informed of the test results and left the ice immediately. Tonight’s game between the Canucks and Flames will depend upon the results of contact tracing and additional testing of players and staff.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gaudette was retested yesterday and will be tested again today.

SPORTSNET: Canucks forward Justin Bailey underwent season-ending shoulder surgery on Monday. He’s been sidelined since Feb. 11.


  1. Carlo returning to play AFTER his decapitator gets to return absolutely irks me

    Good comeback win by Bruins

    Were it not for Blackwood; IMHO, Bruins win in reg

    Panthers…. kudos on ur performance this year…. another injury sucks tho

    • Pengy. Wilson went ballistic at end of Ranger game last night. Got 2 and a 10 min misconduct. Guy has issues and me thinks it’s only a matter of time before he’s suspended again.

      • Pretty far from ballistic.
        He was agitated for sure, but not ballistic by any means. He’s a pretty emotional player that’s for sure. I’d take him on the Bruins in an instant. He needs a better mentor that OV, who himself is quite a stretch from being on kilter. Very effective player. Decent hands. Just a bully who goes a bit over the edge. That can be fixed with a strong mentor.

      • Nothing will change much until the players themselves demand it. It is their own union that allows and supports this sort of thing.

    • Did you see Wilsons’ antics in last nights game? There’s something mentally unstable with him!

      • Wilson is becoming a joke

        His teammates need to handle him as he is an important player to their playoff hopes

        Kid’s adrenaline gets the best of him everytime

      • Any team would take him in a heartbeat!

      • Just watched the video and its a big nothing burger. Wish he was a leaf.

      • @bigbear
        take him all day
        but the leaders of team need to control him

      • 2 sucker punches to back of Lindgren’s head. The guys a major pos.

      • What Wilson did last night was nothing, even Lindgren was laughing at him. Was kind of entertaining and really, who cares.

        It’s the head shots like the one on Carlo who was engaged in a puck battle with another player, Wilson comes in hands high to the head on a player who wasn’t looking and against the boards.

        Every player can do that if they choose to, most don’t. Doesn’t make him tough, it makes him a dick.
        If the suspension doesn’t work, sooner or later some player will return that.

    • Pengy if it wasn’t for Halak in the first two period, would’ve been an easy win for the Panthers.

      In a word “Brutal” was Boston play in period one and two. It took Marchand getting into a fight to get some energy going.

      Trent Frederick scored a couple of goals and seem to have forgotten how it got them. He needs to play physical otherwise he doesn’t create.

      • Agree Caper

        Bruins were lacklustre for 1/2 the game ; but when they awoke, Blackwood was sharp

        Would greatly appreciate Bruins being lacklustre for a full 60 mins in EACH of next 2 games

        Resting the top line for two games for those 2 games also welcomed 👍👍👍

    • Hi Slick and Bruins Fan

      I didn’t catch the Rangers game last night

      I have NHL Centre Ice so I will boot to late third to watch the clown now

      • Watched it now…. he is coo coo for coa coa puffs

        NHL can only be better if he is not playing

        BTW … the play by play guy closed with a statement that Rangers were only East team with winning record this year against Caps …. I know Pens have won 4 (and lost 2) against Caps so I don’t know what Stat person was feeding his prompter with that info??

  2. Florida likes their local kids. Could they claim Ghost with Ekblad’s cap space?

    • Hi Slick

      I don’t think Zito moves on Ghost

      I think he is likely going after one of Savard, Montour, or Manson to “somewhat” replace Ekblad

      If Zito wants a leftie … he could go after DelZ for a low cost

      The Ghost exodus just might have to wait until his SB is paid…. then only owed $4.3 M total for his final 2 years

  3. The bruins are the only team in the nhl that can continually make superstars out of ordinary players like Miles Wood and McKenzie Blackwood

    • Blackwood is an excellent young goalie, and Miles Wood is a good player. You sure do moan a lot for such a staunch Bruins fan.

  4. Everybody (including me) expected the Habs to come out flat even the coach as he started KK, Byron and Lehkonen who responded with 2 goals in the first 3 minutes.

    A tired Oiler team steamrollered by fresh Hab team that was expected to be rusty,

    Have to wonder what is it between KK and the referees….is it his smile? That roughing call on McDavid was a clear elbow to the face from the Tom Wilson hockey rulebook.

    The kid has been mugged a few times and after getting an unsportsmanlike for complaining he just takes it.

    Frolik hasn’t played in a year and stepped right in like a regular, it’s going to be an interesting second half.

    • Ya Habsfan30, McDavid was pissed. I watched the B’s game so didn’t see if anything caused it?
      Was he on McDavid all night and frustrated him or was he just the closest guy at the wrong time? If so good on KK, means he did a good job.

      McDavid deserved a penalty and should be fined IMO.

      • KK hadn’t done anything, he’s a pretty clean player, he just got out of the zone , made a quick pass and was skating for open ice.

        McDavid was being shadowed by Danault most of the night and he was frustrated. Not only did have no goals or points, he had no shots.

        It’s exactly the kind of play the league is supposedly trying to eliminate, a shot to the head/face to an unsuspecting player without the puck.

        I realize that McDavid gets mugged regularly and must get frustrated but it doesn’t justify going Tom Wilson on a player who had done nothing to expect anything retaliatory.

      • update:

        McDavid was fined $5,000 for the elbow to KK face, maximum allowable by the CBA.

      • Good to see he didn’t get treated special by the league.
        That’s why I like Danault and think the B’s should pursue him on off season if he doesn’t sign an extension. The guy is good at what he does. Lined up against McDavid he was plus 3 vs minus 2. Not gonna happen every night obviously, but he seems to win the battle a lot.

        McDavid gets harassed and interfered with every game. SN showed how Matthews did it a few times the last couple games. Smart play if the refs don’t call it. They should call it IMO.

      • Ray, he got a 2 game suspension for a similar elbow on Leddy in 2019 and this one was far, far worse. Premeditated assault in any book. He should be suspended as a repeat offender despite his “stature.”

      • Agreed George. I also think that most other players would have been ejected from that game for intent to injure. What was going through his head I wonder?

      • I didn’t know he had a prior. Ya, should have been suspended.

      • As an admittedly biased Hab fan who likes KK a lot and believe he will be a 1C in due time, I’m fine with the decision.

        The hit on Leddy and suspension is wiped of McDavid’s record, it was in 2019.

        He isn’t considered a repeat offender as it’s been more than 18 months since his last offense.

      • What they’re saying, in effect, is that, since you’ve kept your nose clean for 2 years we’ll only impose a $5,000 fine (like a $40 parking ticket for most of us) this time. In other words, every two years you have carte blanche.

      • Habfan30 – it was the league that adopted the “repeat offender” tag from the criminal justice system … and there there is no relaxing of the criteria for x number of years of good behavior. A repeat offender is just that – someone who repeats an offense regardless of the time between events.

      • George,
        The rules on repeat offenders has existed since at least 2015 and repeat offender is defined as a repeat within 18 months.

        It has no relation to the criminal justice system, it is based on Union Contracts and negotiation with the NHLPA

        In all of my experience with unions there is always a sunset clause to disciplinary measures.

      • Brilliant that is. Typical of that kind of thinking. And some “union” – the only one I know of where the individual members negotiate their own salaries. Wouldn’t Ford employees love THAT approach.

  5. McDavid had a bur in his saddle almost decapitated that Hab wow he looked angry. Bruins had nice comeback but still need a full 60 minute effort to win night in and night out.

  6. Say what you want against Tom Wilson but every one of you would take him in a heartbeat for the team you root for .. if you say otherwise you are lying … yes he is delusional and a cheap shot and a thug and a goon but teams know when he’s on the ice … plus he can play …

    • I wouldn’t. Didn’t like Matt Cooke either and he could also play. Was super glad they handled Cooke the way they did. Warshington should do the same.

    • As you describe him as delusional, cheap shot, a thug and a goon, why would someone want that on their team?

      Yes, he can play and has had 2 – 20 goal seasons. Yet He costs his team with penalties, and he costs his team when he is suspended. Or maybe he doesn’t cost them when he is suspended as Washington did pretty well during his recent suspension – won 5 in a row..

      No, I would not want an unstable player on my team. I wonder if Washington is starting to have the same thoughts.

    • I think Cooke is a better comparison than Marchand. At least as far a the cheap shots that can actually hurt somebody. I can only remember one like that with Marchand. Cooke and Wilson have had a multiple.

      I dunno about whether I would want him on my team or not. I have never met Wilson.
      I don’t buy the idea that his team mates or a team leader are responsible for his behavior. Chara is in WAS now, and I seem to remember him making his thoughts about Wilson pretty clear on the ice.

      Sure you’re honest with him and tell him what you think he needs to do, but in the end he is a pro; deal with your own sh*t or piss off.

      He needs to quit hurting guys with cheap shots just as a fellow player, and as a team mate he needs to quit getting suspended and hurting his team. Other guys have figured out how to play tough and within the rules, so can he unless he is a total screw up.

      We will see I guess.

    • With Chrisms here on this… I would not, under ANY circumstances, want Wilson on Leafs or Pens

      I’ve watched him since he was 15 and saw him completely knock out a very tiny player when he was 15 (and Wilson was big then) ….. charged him from at least 30’ away, smashed full tilt from behind into the boards… kids helmet and gloves flew off…. he was right out for 10 minutes… ambulance is called; kid taken away on stretcher. The kids mother damn near fainted.

      All the while Wilson is laughing his head off

      The kid’s (who got pummelled) crime… end to end rush around three players including Wilson ; and the goalie; with a beauty to put his team ahead of Wilson’s…. no hot dog celebration… no gleeful smile; no taunt; just hands in the air quickly and a cheer… that’s it

      Next time he is out against the kid…. Wilson does his Grim Reaper routine

      All players on both teams ; all coaches on both teams; all in the stands; absolutely horrified by what happened…. all the while … Wilson laughs

      Now I was not on the bench, nor had a kid on either team… no vested interest…. my son (one year older) often had games right after Wilson’s age group and that is why I got to see Wilson often play. He was known as a head hunter even to other teams in other age groups; league wide.

      His head hunting style has followed him to the NHL

      I have absolutely no time whatsoever for a player of his ilk

      If he would clean up his act and just be a heavy hitter (legal hits) instead of a goon trying to end careers with unsuspecting head shots (most recently with Carlo)…. then yes, that type of player is extremely valuable to a team…. good hands, fair speed; great strength… I’d welcome that style of player

      He is not that player right now

      And….I don’t however, see Wilson change his modus operandi

      I unfortunately think that there is a chance that Wilson’s career comes to an end (lifetime suspension) coinciding with him tragically ending (prematurely) the career (and maybe even ability to walk properly after… spinal injury??) of another.

      So, long and short… his unsporstmanship penalty and 10 last night has absolutely nothing to do with my stance; which is…. I hope he never dons a Pens or Leafs jersey

      The above sounds weird (coming from a guy who played with relatively the same height and weight advantage as Wilson has today…. I played at 210 [and I’m 6’3”] closing in on 4 decades ago…. very very few I played against were my size or bigger) but it is what it is. I may have had many hard hits but never did I hit from behind and never did I hit to the head.

      Go Leafs Go
      Go Pens Go

      • This is where the league players should be stepping in old school and having every team that plays them having their tough guy square off with him every opportunity given. That is the only type of message that might get through to a player like that. You want to play like that the you get played against by the toughest because the league and the players union aren’t really going to do anything about it.

  7. Ed I’ve always said wish Wilson was a Bruin just like everyone wishes Marchand was on their team. Wilson needs a teammate that can control him like a true leader.

    • Having a “teammate control him” (or at least teach him how to control himself) is something I think is possible with some players but not others. Being “coachable” in this regard requires humility and a sincere desire to improve.

      Wilson has hurt enough people , been suspended enough times without real change to make me think he lacks the ability to.

      • I refer again to the pens treatment of Cooke. Sat him down and made him get anger management and retrained him on how to not play the game to hurt. I’m certainly biased but every fan of the game that wants to be rid of this crap should applaud that effort by Mario and company and should insist their own teams follow suit.

      • I’m all for them trying to help him, but again it takes a desire, on the player’s part, to receive help in order for it to be successful. I suppose it’s like an addiction in that way.

        After all these years, Matt Cooke’s name still makes me sneer…Marc Savard was a favorite of mine.

      • Can’t blame you but cookie did make the effort for what’s it’s worth. Probably more so because the pens said your play will not reflect on the organization. Too bad warshington don’t feel that way

  8. This Wilson hating is a bunch of nonsense. A little crazy is good as it is such a tame league. Why in the world would Ovi want to reign that in? He would be welcomed on every team by every player. Full stop.

    • “He would be welcomed on every team by every player. Full stop.”
      Said like you actually know that Wendel, which you don’t. Just because you type in “full stop” doesn’t change that.

      Everybody wants players who are physical and can contribute on the ice. No doubt Wilson can. I think we all agree.
      We also know that players don’t like seeing fellow players get stretchered off the ice because of cheap shots.

      What happened last night was nothing and not what I am talking about with Wilson. We’ll see if he changes or becomes Raffi Torres.

    • Wendel, since you are the only one here that doesn’t give in to the propaganda on the other side., I will tell you that he was simply defending a teammate who was done wrong at the end of an already decided game. Oshie was in the corner with Brendan Smith who crosschecked him hard in the lower back sending Oshie to the bench in pain for the final few minutes. That’s the context of why he did what he did. But the hockey world won’t give you the context because they want their ‘2 minutes hate’.

      • Hey propaganda guy. Last night was nothing worth mentioning. Just a scrum.
        Here is 9 plus minutes of it him running around.
        Not all dirty, some are great, but many are dirty, and it isn’t all of them from Wilson. He like to hit guys when they don’t see him coming because they are engaged with another player or well after making a pass or hits them high, or from behind.

        Like I said all players can do this too if they choose to. Some do, most don’t, he does.
        He crosses the line too often.


      • You’re right. Nothing worth mentioning yet here we all are talking about his past. Did you know TW called B Carlo the next day and asked if he was alright. Carlo himself said he didn’t feel the hit was malicious. But no one hears about those things.

      • You’re right about it being nothing but here we all are discussing his past. Did you know that TW called Carlo the next day to see how he was? Did you know that Carlo just recently himself said he didn’t think the hit was malicious? But no one is told those parts of the story…

      • Ya it is what started it Mark and we have debated Wilson on here before. I looked for Carlo’s comments after reading your post. Couldn’t find it. Please post it if you don’t mind.

        Did you watch the video clips? Your thoughts?

        Lots of guys make a hit they regret, hell, I have. Some guys keep doing it, most stop. Wilson keeps doing it.

        He has been suspended 5 times.

      • Mark, Not sure the cross check by Smith was what hurt Oshie. Wilson fell on him. Regardless, Wilson went after Lindgren who had words with someone on Caps bench.

    • If Wilson played for our Leafs, Matthews would likely pop 75 goals a year. You bet Ovi wants him big time.

      • “our Leafs”???

  9. If the NHL was serious about cleaning up the game Tom Wilson wouldn’t be tolerated.

    it isn’t true that everybody would want him on their team, he isn’t Ryan Reaves, an enforcer who can play and doesn’t go postal.

    There used to be lots of Wilsons in the league, some teams had a few of them but that’s in the past where it belongs.

    Troglodytes should go watch Hanson Brothers clips instead of the NHL.

    • Well said

      • Hear, hear!