NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 4, 2021

by | Mar 4, 2021 | News, NHL | 50 comments

Recaps of Wednesday’s games and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


NHL.COM: The Toronto Maple Leafs thumped the Edmonton Oilers 6-1 to sweep their three-game series. Jimmy Vesey scored two goals, Jason Spezza collected three assists and Fredrik Andersen made 26 saves in his return to action after missing four games with a lower-body injury. Auston Matthews also returned after missing two games with a wrist injury but was held scoreless.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs outscored the Oilers 13-1 in their three games, including back-to-back shutouts. They held Oilers captain Connor McDavid scoreless while Leon Draisaitl managed just one assist.

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (NHL Images).

The Vegas Golden Knights picked up their fourth straight victory by taming the Minnesota Wild 5-1. Marc-Andre Fleury made 36 saves while Mark Stone, William Karlsson, Alex Tuch and Colin Stephenson each had a goal and an assist. Wild winger Zach Parise was a healthy scratch for the first time in his career with the club owing to an overextended shift during Monday’s overtime loss to Vegas.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury has bounced back well from last season’s inconsistent performance. He’s among the league leaders with 11 wins, a .939 save percentage, 1.71 goals-against average and three shutouts. The 36-year-old netminder could become a Vezina Trophy finalist if he can maintain that level of play.

Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog each had four-point performances as the Colorado Avalanche blanked the San Jose Sharks 4-0. Philipp Grubauer made 26 saves for the shutout. It was a costly win for the Avs as center Nathan MacKinnon left the game in the third period after a hit to the head from Sharks winger Joachim Blichfield, who received a match penalty and could face supplemental discipline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Avs coach Jared Bednar said MacKinnon seemed to be doing okay following the game. We should find out today or tomorrow if he avoided serious injury.

A shootout goal by Jakub Vrana lifted the Washington Capitals over the Boston Bruins 2-1. David Pastrnak scored for the Bruins while Lars Eller replied for the Capitals. The Bruins honored former captain Zdeno Chara with a video tribute as he returned to Boston for the first time since signing with the Capitals in the offseason. Before the game, the Bruins announced center Charlie Coyle was placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 list.

The St. Louis Blues got power-play goals from Oskar Sundqvist, Brayden Schenn and Zach Sandford to hold the Anaheim Ducks 3-2. Blues goalie Jordan Binnington kicked out 27 shots. The Ducks have dropped eight straight games.

Arizona Coyotes netminder Antti Raanta stopped 40 shots as his club nipped the Los Angeles Kings 3-2. Two goals 40 seconds apart in the second period by Nick Schmaltz and Johan Larsson gave the Coyotes the win. The Kings have dropped three straight.


MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said his decision to fire goalie coach Stephane Waite during Tuesday’s 3-1 win over Ottawa. He said he consulted interim head coach Dominique Ducharme beforehand but not with netminder Carey Price, who learned of the move following the game. The Habs hired Sean Burke as their new director of goaltending.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergevin said the move was made to help Price improve his performance, which has fallen off over the past four seasons. The Habs GM is not expected to make any further organizational changes this season after firing coaches Claude Julien and Kirk Muller last week. However, Bergevin could face losing his job if his moves fail to improve the Canadiens,

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes winger Nino Niederreiter was fined $5,000.00 for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros on Tuesday. Saros is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

CBS SPORTS: Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jason Zucker (lower body) was placed on long-term injury reserve yesterday.

TSN: Frank Seravalli reports NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said league revenue for 2021-22 could be affected by Canada’s slow vaccine rollout. While admitting it is premature to make predictions, Daly hinted it could affect everything from revenue to competition, including division alignment, travel and trades. He also said the league remains optimistic that its trajectory remains on pace toward a normal work environment for next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadian government maintains the COVID-19 vaccines will be available to all its citizens who want one by September. Recent reports suggest the distribution of those vaccines could speed up in the coming months. Nevertheless, we won’t know for certain until the start of next season what the effect will be on Canadian teams and league revenue.


  1. After Boston’s last game against Washington, a lot of people were saying Trent Frederic really showed some balls for fighting Tom Wilson. Last night, Ovechkin tried to surgically remove his balls with a hockey stick. I wonder if Ovechkin will face any discipline?

    Frederic spent most of the night agitating Ovechkin and Wilson. He’s really establishing himself as one of those players everyone hates unless they play for their favorite team. He’s as annoying and frustrating as Marchand but with size and fighting skill to back it up.


  2. After watching last night s b s, capitals game I think that the Islanders and Caps are playoff teams.Pick 2 of the 3 others,Bruins,flyers,or penguins.Bottom line .one of these teams will not make the playoffs because of the new alignment.That is a shame after seeing some of the 4th place teams now.

    • Hi Steve

      Agree that one f those five are not going to make it… my fear of course is that without a change soon, it will be Pens

      The Isles “Rope-a-dope” style of play drives me nuts…. I seriously dislike low scoring games…. but the “aim to get less GAs than the other team “ as compared to all other teams playing “get more goals than the other team” is working for Isles

      It won’t work for them against Bolts or Knights though

  3. According to Bergevin, the decision to fire Waite was made during Tuesday night’s game. And Waite was informed during the second intermission. In a game in which Price was playing well. Sounds rather strange. There must have been a particular incident which ticked Bergevin off that were not being told about.

    • Howard,
      There’s definitely a backstory to such a messy transition.

      The Bergevin haters will be crowing bur the guy has shouldered all the responsibility and sheltered both the coach and the player.

      • Yes. Berg has done a very good job with the new signings, recent trades, and drafting (with Timmons et al). It’s all on the players right now, and had Price played better all the sturm und drang would not have happened.

        No coaches to lay off the blame, it’s all on the players.

        Interesting that in response to a comment that Price’s answers seem to indicate that he doesn’t care, Price said “I don’t care anymore.” I interpret that to mean he has tuned out the perpetual noise in Montreal.

    • Isn’t that the special something Marc Bergevin brings since he also traded Cammallari during a game, I think during the 2nd period too! I hope Montreal keeps MB forever.

      • That was Pierre Gauthier, Ron.

  4. Props to my new favorite player, Trent Frederic … strange how Ovechkin had no problem punching out Svechnikov last year but turtled when confronted by Frederic … weak response from the captain …

    • No. I liked it. Why would a superstar fight an AHL/ECHL calibre slug, ever. Even a suspension is worth it as a reminder to other goons that should not be on the ice with him.
      Rules have changed in NHL so players need to protect themselves…in any manner necessary.

    • seriously ? you expect Ovechkin to drop the mitts in third period of a tie game with a rookie who played 12 minutes? I did not watch the game but I see OV 23 minutes and was the first star.
      I agree Fredric did a nice job getting under OV’s skin. There is a time and a place. Wilson and Frederic will settle this next time they meet.

      • I’m a Boston fan and agree that Frederic did his job getting under Ovechkin’s skin last night.

        With that said, it was not really cowardice that caused Ovechkin to decline but common sense and good leadership. There’s no reason that one of the best players to ever put on skates needs to fight a guy like Frederic. The look on Ovechkin’s face was less fear and more annoyance, like he was the head cheerleader being asked to the prom by a band geek.

      • That $5000 fine Ovi got was money well spent. I didn’t see that game but someone said Ovi was games 1st star. If that is correct Fergie then how do you conclude this guy did a nice job agitating Ovi, games 1st star and delivered a very agitating Sir Lancelot to his goolies. To the contrary I say:
        Nice job Mr. Ovechkin.

      • Part of me thinks it may be Chara settling the score with Frederic…just a gut feeling.

      • Whoever decided Ovechkin was the star of the game needs a breathalizer…should’ve been the 2 goalies and Lars Eller.

        0 goals, 0 assists. -1, 4 PIM.
        The only notable thing Ovechkin did was spear Trent in the nuts…

      • Nothing says ‘leadership’ like spearing an opponent in the crotch…

      • Frederic’s fight invitation, when he dropped his gloves and Ovechkin didn’t, and the spear were on different plays. I never said spearing him was good leadership.

    • Ed do you need to watch a different sport like wrestling or something? (side note, wrestling is the bomb) But I do find it interesting that an “old schooler” like yourself isn’t actually using the respect argument as in: where’s the respect for a star player by a guy who hasn’t, and to be honest, isn’t gonna be a special player anywhere near Ovie is get away with such shenanigans.

  5. Edmonton appeared like they had little or no idea about what the process is, from time to time. Not even in the same league!

  6. Edmonton – 3 games on home ice 1 goal for and 13 against and that 1 goal was scored by neither McDavid or Draisaitl.

    Yeah, so the opposition in the North doesn’t exactly add up to the quality of a Vegas, Colorado, Tampa, Carolina, Washington, NYI, Boston, Philadelphia – hell, even the Panthers – but that’s still impressive.

    Wendel, Pengy, Ron, Roger et al – I have to admit, they may just be in the finals this season.

    • George,
      The North brings out the shortcoming of team structure during the season vs the playoffs.

      In the old days one player would shut down the star and the series would change, eg Provost shut down Hull.

      Oilers took over Habs dynasty when Hunter shut down Lafleur.

      Today the big line gets shut down and structured teams take advantage.

      Senators are a good example of a team that doesn’t have the horses but in a series/back to back, can do a lot of damage,

      The team with four strong lines and hot goaltending will go to the final.

      • I agree and that team will be the Leafs.

      • The Leafs, much to everyone’s chagrin have a very good roster.
        They have 9 top 10 draft picks in their line up. Varying degrees of youth and experience.

        Edmonton has three really good players up front and not much else. Toronto’s 3rd and 4th line beat the Oilers last night. One guy I wish the Leafs got from EDM in the offseason is Kaihra.

        The Leafs have a coach that is using the players to their strengths.

    • Give credit where credit is due; Toronto is playing strong hockey all around.

      I’m not ready to hand them the final four spot.

      The Winnipeg Jets can score with the leafs and the forwards have more depth.

      Toronto has a much better D and it will be an area of concern for Winnipeg if not improved.

      The Jets have the superior goaltender and it’s not close. If Hellebuyck were to get injured then the Jets are grounded; they do not have a suitable long term goaltender to take the throttle.

      • It appears it doesn’t matter who plays net for the Leafs Caper.
        Oilers lost every aspect of every game. They obviously aren’t as bad as they played over these 3 games, but was a wow.
        Time for a regroup here in Edmonton. Fix the problem, but don’t dwell.
        They get the Leafs 2 more times, I can’t think of more important regular season games than those 2 just for their confidence.

      • Ray that what makes it more impressive for the leafs it they did it with 3 different goalies, sound like a good structure d game plan.

      • It was strange to watch Caper, last night again Oilers came out strong and had the better of it early. Didn’t score, Leafs push back and get one and were the better team for the rest.
        The Oil didn’t get a PP in games 1 or 3, which is telling as they weren’t forcing anything.
        The frustration was evident with the Oilers early after that goal. That wasn’t there over the last month when they fell behind.

        Leafs got in their kitchen and are banging around the pots and pans.

        Oil could have used an early save or 2 in all 3.
        Smith is back to his norm, not his fault, just what he is at this time in his career. Need Koskinen to find it and find it now.

      • I agree Caper, this isn’t the Leafs of old, or even last year. They win at full compliment and with a plethora of injuries. Full mark so far.

        That said, the Cup isn’t won in the regular season, and we are at the half way pole. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

      • The way I see it is, their younger D like Holl and Dermott are gaining both experience and, more importantly, confidence as this season progresses, we know where the scoring is coming from and that won’t diminish, and veterans like Simmonds, Spezza, Thornton, Brodie, Bogosian, Muzzin and, yes, Andersen, probably see this as their best kick at the can when it comes to a cup.

        They are also getting timely goals from 3rd/4th liners like Mikheyev, Vesey and one of the biggest bargains in the NHL, Zach Hyman.

        If Dubas can somehow acquire a decent 3rd/4th line-type scorer to insert, look out.

        Hey, I am NOT becoming a fan … but just paying more attention to their overall game I have to say I have developed quite a bit of grudging respect, including the way the coach has them tuned into a game plan including shorter shifts.

    • It sounds weird to say this, George, but I was really disappointed with the Edmonton/Toronto series.
      I thought, with the Oilers hot streak and a potential battle for first place, that we’d see some of the best hockey of the year. Wrong, dead wrong.
      Very disappointing.
      This Leaf team keeps meeting and exceeding expectations though. Time will tell.

  7. Great Job by the Leafs

    I am really liking their play of late

    That said…. unless they see each other in the semis it is looking more and more like a Knights/Bolts Cup Final

    Bolts pounding away sans Kuch

    …. and Knights…. 3 scoring lines fully clicking; a 4th that doesn’t let anybody push them around …. and Fleury puts in another spectacular night (Knight … LOL.. had to) … 973.

    big speedy team with constant onslaught

    What is scarier still is that Knights are exempt in the Seattle draft… have all but three players on board now (*Martinez, Nosek , Coughlan) that are signed through next year… and will have $4.5 M in Cap space for those spots…. with the up and coming young D… no need to re-up Martinez…. Coughlan will be a low cost bridge….. they will easily fill the 3 spots with $4.5 M in space and basically have the same team back

    The only time Knights seem to falter as a team is when they are wearing those ridiculous retinal damaging sparkling Gold head cans…. Doh

    * Knights will have Theodore and McNabb as 1 & 2 LDs…. no need to re-up Martinez (at likely $3.5 M) to play 3LD… Hague doing fine

    Next year


    Their D prospects are also bright

    Korsczack (sp?); Cormier, Corcoran (oldest is 20)

    Their forward pipeline also not too shabby…

    Krebs; Elvenes; Lechyshyn , Duggan (Duggan is the oldest at 22)

    They also still hold their own 1st this year and have NJ’s 2nd as well as their own

    NJs 2nd should be low 2nd round

    Outlook very good for Knights

  8. TB and VGK are cup favorites as full rosters stands now. COL and TOR have the better rosters, goalies excluded. If either or both of TOR or COL upgrade their goaltending they both leapfrog TB and VGK as the cup favourites.

    • If Winnipeg addresses their D, they will come out of the north.

      • Perhaps, Caper, the D ingredients are already there in the ‘Peg – could be that some back-checking by the F and optimum pairings will do the trick.

        I look at Ottawa as an example. Without adding any D of consequence they’ve gone from 50 goals against in their first 10 games – an average of 5 a game – to 45 in their past 15, lowering the average to 3.00 per game.

    • Maybe Wendell, but upgrade with who?
      Easier for COL as they have the space at the TDL.
      Or do the Leafs trade Anderson as well?

      There are some decent upcoming goalie UFA’s on crappy teams that might be available.
      Ullmark, Raanta and Bernier are playing well at the moment.
      Edmonton should pursue Ullmark in off season if still available.

    • Hi W17H

      Leafs as is, in no way have a better Roster than either Bolts or Knights (as those two teams are right now)

      As you have pointed out already; setting aside Goaltending

      But… Leafs D is not as good as either Bolts or Knights D

      Leafs top 4 Fwds for sure are better than Knights top 4

      Leafs top 4 now are better than Bolts; when Kuch is back… call it close enough to a saw-off; some could say Bolts top 4 better

      But …. Leafs 4 lines compared to Bolts 4 lines (now and that’s without Kuch) and Knights 4 lines; are not as good… just not

      I’ve watched all Leafs games this year and have seen all but 3 Knights games and all but 3 Bolts games…. To me…. Knights and Bolts are considerably better than Leafs; and they certainly are in a tougher divisions than Leafs

      I was very very happy re the announcement of the CanDiv as I knew that gave Leafs the best shot at making the playoffs; and if so , playoff success

      Were Divs like normal… if Leafs finished 3rd (not guaranteed with the surprising surge of Panthers) it is likely once again a Bruins v Leafs match-up …. if they somehow beat Bruins…. they are not getting past Bolts… that’s best case scenario

      If Panthers were in their Div and finished ahead of them… Leafs would have to hope to finish ahead of the 5th place in that tight Metro ; and even if they did…. it’s Leafs as last WC v Bolts in first round …. one and done

      Leafs could make a serious move at TDL… very tough with basically no Cap…. but what move improves them enough to be better than Bolts or Knights? I can’t think of any feasible move that could accomplish this

      To add insult to injury…. series have often been stolen by a goalie… Leafs don’t have that luxury… but Helebuck does have that talent …. so Leafs need to be wary of Jets

      I’m hoping and praying I’m wrong; but I’m certainly not betting on it


      • Pengy! Are your opinions based on what your brain is making sense of what your eyes telling it or are you looking at stats and not understanding them? Numbers are absolute, they don’t lie your eyes on the other hand…ya a tiny bit.

      • Well said Pengy. The Leafs record is not a true indicator of who they really are, as they are literally playing in a mini AHL league in all Canadian North. The BIG boys like TB, WC, BB, VG, and CA are all in a much tougher divisions. I’ll say we are in a second tier groups like Islanders, Panthers, Flyers, Penguins and Hurricanes. All that being said, there is no question, Toronto will have a free ride to the conference final under COVID-19 format. I don’t see Winnipeg beating the Leafs 4 games in a series. We will get a glimpse of it next week. But the point is, TO have to go through one of the following teams in the conference finals: Tampa,
        Boston, or Washington all of them in the last 3 years have been in conference finals and two if them have gone to win the STANLEY. These teams are battle tested while the LEAFS are known to be great in the regular season but flame out when it matters. Hopefully, Sheldon Keief can guide these guys to the promise land like Nick Nurse did for the Raptors. We don’t need Kawahi calibre player as we have the second and third best players in the league in Mathews and Marner. We just need to bring in couple if guys who can stand toe to toe with TB WC and BB physically. All the up and down rushes the Leafs are allowed to do at WILL currently in the North division, that will all change in the conference finals. TO needs to get heavier and nastier to get through anyone of those teams. Go Leafs Go

      • Ron

        What numbers are you talking about?

        Have you been watching Leafs and Knights and Bolts

        I’m a Leaf Fan and have great hopes for a cup; but I’m also a realist


      • Thats what I thought Pengy.

      • Thanks Ron

        If you actually review what you’ve provided; it backs what I’ve been saying

  9. Ray, yes Andersen goes. Canes will take him but ideally Leafs trade him to zoilers so we can be on the right side of his collapse should they meet. Leafs have the picks and prospects (Robertson, sandin) to get what they want i.e. Gibson or Kuemper. Even just going with Campbell is an upgrade as he has no scars.

    Pengy, I’m sorry but I have trouble taking your analysis seriously until you unequivocally fess up to your absurd contention that MTL is a good team

    • Wendel, if Campbell could get through more than a game without getting hurt we would have a better idea.
      Canes tenders are no scream, but OK. Kind of like Anderson.
      COL gets a guy, look out. My pick for final 4, as I think they will.
      Plus get EJ back, maybe? What’s up with him?
      I stick with my preseason 4. TB, Leafs, COL and Philly.
      Hate to say I’m rooting for Anderson? Doesn’t feel right. Perhaps just rooting against you. But then I would be rooting for the Leafs, which helps you?

      What evs, all good.

      • Campbell is seeming pretty fragile i agree. I really don’t know who from East but agree with the other 3 for semis as I believe COL upgrades goal.

        While CAR goalies may very well be as good as TOR I think Andersen would be viewed as an upgrade. What a tandem he would make with Reimer !! They may be able to combine to blow a 7 goal lead in game 7.

  10. Winnipeg Jets are waving “Hello”

    • Fair enough Caper, they’ve only played the Leafs once.
      Have to assume the Leafs hit a rough patch, maybe it will be when they meet the Jets.
      I’ll be rooting for the Jets, likely won’t be betting on them without some odds.

      • The Jets offensive intimidation factor went waaaaay down with the Laine trade.

  11. I don’t get this north is the weakest division garbage. Every division has 3-4 weak teams and a couple of strong teams. The west is stronger than the North with Anaheim, San Jose and Arizona? Every division is only playing against their own division but the assumption is because Toronto is running away with the north and best record in the league that the other divisions are the real hockey? Tor isn’t trading their starting goaltender during a season where they would be on pace for 128 points in a full season, they just held Edm to 1 goal in 3 games. And in the highest scoring division in the league toronto has a goal differential of +31, second in the league to TB which is +32.

    Look at the comments today and how everyone who acknowledges they are playing well admits they say it grudgingly. Put aside any dislike of Toronto, if this exact team was wearing a different jersey would you be talking about them the same way? They are a really good team, but it seems like people don’t like Toronto so they have to really overdeliver to get any respect. The ‘Toronto-centric’ media in Canada were talking about how improved Montreal was before the season started, most improved team in the north….um…sure.

    • Hi Jello

      I have lived in the GTA all my life and have been a Leaf fan for closing in on 5 1/2 decades

      Leafs are doing absolutely great; but it is reflective partially due to being in a weaker division. Notice I said partially

      They certainly are playing very well ; but had the divisions been as usual; there is no way Leafs are “running away” in a normal East Division

      They’d be 2nd place at best; I just can’t see them tied with Bolts let alone ahead of them

      And Bolts are playing (and will likely finish the regular season) without Kuch

      Unless there is a trade of significance ; Leafs chance at a Cup will have to wait another year IMVHO

      Odds are extremely high right now that Bolts and Knights will make it to the semis

      IMHO, Leafs only path to the finals is if Bolts play Knights in Semis

      If it is winner of North vs either winner of West or winner of Central; the chances of Leafs getting to the finals are very very slim

      I’m hoping and praying that I’m wrong and that a miracle happens; but I couldn’t bet on it

      Go Leafs Go