NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 15, 2021

by | Apr 15, 2021 | News, NHL | 29 comments

Marc-Andre Fleury reaches a career wins milestone, J.T. Miller expresses concern about the Canucks returning to action on Friday, Jack Eichel done for the season, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


NHL.COM: Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury picked up his 485th career victory as he backstopped the Vegas Golden Knights over the Los Angeles Kings 6-2. Fleury moved into sole possession of fourth place on the all-time NHL wins list. Max Pacioretty and Tomas Nosek each had a goal and two assists for the Golden Knights, who remain in second place in the Honda West Division with 60 points.

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

Devan Dubnyk made 31 saves in his debut with the Colorado Avalanche as they held off the St. Louis Blues 4-3. Colorado winger Mikko Rantanen had a goal and an assist while Blues winger Mike Hoffman tallied twice. The Avalanche sit atop the West Division with 64 points while the Blues (44 points) remain in fourth place. They played without goaltender Philipp Grubauer, who tested positive for COVID-19 and is expected to be sidelined for two weeks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The recent acquisition of Dubnyk proved timely for the Avs. With Grubauer on the shelf and regular backup Pavel Francouz out of the season, they would’ve been in big trouble without an experienced netminder to fill the void. Dubnyk’s no longer in his playing prime but should provide some short-term stability between the pipes.

The Arizona Coyotes missed an opportunity to overtake the Blues by dropping a 5-2 decision to the Minnesota Wild. The Coyotes have lost five straight and remain one point back of the Blues. Mats Zuccarello scored two goals for the Wild as they sit in third place with 53 points.

A 27-save performance by Anthony Stolarz carried the Anaheim Ducks to a 4-1 win over the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks have lost four of their last five and sit four points back of the Blues.

The Calgary Flames kept their playoff hopes alive in the Scotia North Division by beating the Montreal Canadiens 4-1. Jacob Markstrom made 26 saves as the Flames (41 points) picked up their third straight win to sit just four points behind the Canadiens, who’ve dropped four of their last five contests.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames’ postseason hopes seemed all but dashed a week ago. They were mired in a lengthy losing skid while the Canadiens were playing .500 hockey and seem assured of clinching a playoff spot. The odds still favor the inconsistent Habs as they hold three games in hand over the Flames with several key games coming up between those two teams.

Laurent Brossoit stopped 27 shots as the Winnipeg Jets edged the Ottawa Senators 3-2. With 55 points, the Jets opened a three-point lead over the Edmonton Oilers for second place in the North Division.


THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller spoke out yesterday against his club’s scheduled return to action on Friday after he and his teammates were sidelined for nearly three weeks by a recent COVID-19 outbreak. He believes the Canucks haven’t had sufficient time to recover and return to play, especially with eight players still on the COVID-19 protocol list. He feels he and his teammates would be at greater risk of injury, adding they’re also concerned over the health of their family members who also contracted the coronavirus.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Province’s Patrick Johnston reported the Canucks players met with the NHLPA. TSN’s Darren Dreger reported the PA, NHL and Canucks medical met to determine if the club is healthy enough to play on Friday. A decision is expected later today.

None of the Canucks want to opt-out of completing the season, but they have justifiable concerns about their health and safety right now. It could take at least another week for enough of them to be healthy enough to safely return to action.

TORONTO SUN: Speaking of COVID-19, Maple Leafs forward Nick Robertson was placed on the NHL’s protocol list as a precautionary measure after the AHL postponed three Toronto Marlies games. Robertson recently played with the Marlies before skating in the Leafs’ last two games.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel will not return this season because of a herniated disk in his neck. He’s expected to be recovered and healthy for 2021-22. The Sabres also announced Jason Karmanos has been hired as associate general manager.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel’s been sidelined since March 7 so I don’t think anyone’s surprised by this announcement. It’s just another blow in a seemingly unending series of them this season for the sad-sack Sabres.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars announced goaltender Ben Bishop (knee surgery) and winger Alexander Radulov (core muscle injury) will miss the remainder of the season. The Stars also signed defenseman Joel Hanley to a two-year contract extension with an annual average value of $750K.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bishop underwent surgery last fall. He was on track to return in two weeks’ time but his condition reportedly worsened and they decided to shut him down for the season. Tyler Seguin is still expected to return soon from offseason hip surgery.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals winger Conor Sheary signed a two-year, $3 million contract extension yesterday. The annual average value is $1.5 million.

SPORTSNET: The plans to construct a new arena for the Calgary Flames have been put on hold over budget concerns. The parties involved in the construction are pausing to review and resolve the issues.


  1. The one thing for Ottawa fans to look forward to down the stretch is to see the Senators continue to make it difficult for the opposition looking to solidify their playoff positioning and watch the kids gain experience … and confidence.

    Jacob Bernard-Docker made his debut on the D last night and didn’t look out of place playing consequential minutes … nor did Brannstrom. F Shane Pinto and D Lassi Thompson should get their initiation soon.

    • George, Pinto was a kid I thought the Rangers should’ve targeted last off season. NY kid. I think you got a good one there.

      • Yeah, quite happy with the choice, Slick62 – 1st pick in 2019 2nd round – a C with good size (6′ 2″ 192 lbs) – very good in the face-off circle (62% at U of North Dakota) where he became the first player in NCHC history recognized as Forward of the Year and Defensive Forward of the Year.

        The C position could be a strong point for the team in seasons coming with Stutzle likely shifted there, Norris and Pinto maybe holding down the top 3 lines. Both Tierney and Colin White will likely be moved at some point.

  2. My observations from the newest bruins first game vs the might Sabres, I thought Hall would come out of the gate like a caged lion, he looked more like an enraged lamb. Lazar looked good, laid out some hits played a high energy game. Mike Reilly in my opinion was the best out of the three good defensive and offensive tactics .Tonight the bruins face the Isles NY has owned the bruins this year they have to split their series or just mail in the season.

    • Hall didn’t have a bad game create some chances but a little tentative see how a few games goes.

      Lazar played very well brought energy and toughness that line had control most of the night.

      Reilly nice skater, some really good passes, able to get his shot thru to the net, a few defensive slipups, tried to pinch, missed he check and Miller covered up for him, another time completely missed his bodycheck by stepping up created a two on one. Brings alot a like.

      All 3 were good additions in game 1.

      • I’ve met Lazar a few times. He billeted at a friends place whose son also played on the Oil Kings at the time.
        Seems like a really good guy and was the leader of that team that won the Mem Cup.

        The knock on him has been his speed at the NHL level, hopefully he’s improved it. Character guy.

      • Caper,
        your observation of Reilly:

        “Reilly nice skater, some really good passes, able to get his shot thru to the net, a few defensive slipups, tried to pinch, missed he check and Miller covered up for him, another time completely missed his bodycheck by stepping up created a two on one.”

        Bang on and you’ll see that regularly, the upside will always be there but so will the downside.

        The poor decisions, missed checks, two on ones all due to poor hockey IQ .

        Great physical ability, well liked as he isn’t lazy but for all his effort the regularity of the same slipups.

        Lazar plays like a Bruin, he’ll fit right in the bottom 6.

        Hall? I think you’re going to get what Buffalo was hoping for with a distributor like Krejci.

  3. Good on JT Miller to express his concerns; not sure where it goes but the NHL doing the right thing to have them medically clear.

    • Absolutely Caper.

    • Yep, that is a crazy amount of games in a short period of time, and right of the get go. Especially for those that got hit hard.

      Good on him for sticking up for his team.

      • Absolutely. And on top of just clearing the protocols, the players need rest to fully recuperate, not dive back in to crazy physical exertion at a break-neck pace just so the NHL can meet its own timetables at the players expense.
        That’s just a recipe for injuries and overall not a heathy approach to recovering properly at all.

  4. The elephant wearing the “C” in the Habs locker room needs to addressed.

    Weber is what Weber is!!! If it is an exhibition game, a game early in the regular season, a game down the stretch or a playoff game he plays the same game.

    He is not able to elevate his game when the team requires he do so. As THE LEADER of the team, he needs to be able to elevate when required. This was very reason Nashville moved on from him.

    His greatest attribute is supposed to be leadership, but the when he struggles it is because the Habs have nobody to compliment Weber’s game. Well IMHO, if his forte is leadership, then he should be raising level of his partners games, not the other way around.

    I hated the trade then & even more so now!!!

    Jeff Petry is without question the leader of the Habs blueline, so what does that say about Weber’s leadership on the team, if he isn’t even the leader on the blueline???

    • Uwey, I get the frustration. I have all but given up on the Habs and sense an epic collapse in the making.

      What is with this team? Whatever it is, pinning it on Weber is misplaced frustration.

      Have you counted the number of Stanley Cup winners in the Habs dressing room? 5. Edmunson, Toffoli, Allen, Perry, and Staal. If I missed someone, so what. The point is that there is a ton of leadership in that room.

      You can dump truck on Weber all you want but it doesn’t explain why so many players are not scoring. It is shorter to list those who are scoring : Toffoli and Anderson. Even they are streaky and inconsistent.

      Whatever ails this team it has been stocked with far too much talent to stink. And it isn’t just one player it is almost the entire roster.

      • LJ, respectfully disagree, Weber was brought in solely for his leadership.

        This is his fifth year here, they have been to the playoff twice & in all honesty, did not deserve to be there last year.

        Outside of his devastating slap shot & devastating crosscheck, brings very little to the ice.

        I cannot remember a fight that he has “won”, they are usually draws that end in wrestling match with a smaller opponent.

        His decision with the puck is often questionable, he is not a great passer & he is often stripped of the puck at the opposing blueline & not capable of ever recovering when he does so. He rarely ever hits an opponent with an open ice body check.

        If the rest of the team is looking to this guys for inspiration & leadership, I feel they are being extremely short changed.

        As far as Edmunson, Toffoli, Allen, Perry, and Staal they were brought in to compliment the captain, not overshadow him. It is hard to compliment something that is not doing it’s job.

      • It’s easy. They have mediocre talent, just as Wendel17 has said time after time. They have zero offensive talent that scares anybody. This group is led by the ultimate floater Jonathan Drouin.

      • You know, Raging, I do look forward to spirited debate with some substance and insight. Your post provides none of that.

        A sure sign someone is saying something devoid of worth is when they quote Wendel with approval.

      • LJ,

        The Habs have quite a bit of talent spread over 4 lines without any superstars. A potential couple of series wins are there for the taking.

        The team’s success is predicated on the old system of head manning the puck and attacking in numbers with speed.

        Everything starts in the back end, it’s up to the defence to make a good first pass or skate out.

        The aggressive two man forechecks have taken the speed away, forcing the forewards to come back deeper and allowing the opposing D to pinch.

        At the outset of the season the Habs were constantly doing the alley oop to one winger who would break away or at least force opponents to hang back.

        Then opponents clogged up the middle in response, to which you dump and chase and they have the speed to do it.

        The frustration is that they don’t react and change on the go, only between periods.

        IMO not having superstars or a true #1 line has the advantage of not being shut down by a checking line.

        Point of interest, Eric Staal is 59% on face offs since joining the Habs

      • One thing I’ve observed over the many years I’ve followed hockey are the ups and downs of fan emotions predicated on the latest games of their favourite team. They lose one the fans think should have been an “easy’ 2 points or they struggle at certain stages of the season, and the finger-pointing begins.

        Yes, the Habs lost at home to the Flames. But you know what, the Flames have a decent collection of good to very good players and while they recently went through their own struggles for quite a stretch, they had won 2 in a row heading into that game and have been showing definite signs of adhering to Sutter’s system.

        When meeting a team like that, if you fall behind early and have to play catch-up hockey the rest f the way it obviously upsets your hole game plan, and often leads to “trying to do too much too quickly.”

        Early season games against teams like Ottawa, Detroit, Buffalo, Anaheim, NJ, L.A. and SJ were runs in the park for the opposition most nights – but these are all pros – players to coaches to GMs – and they have pride, and as adjustments are made they all become just a bit tougher to handle. None of the ones I named are going anywhere this season in terms of playoffs – but if a team takes them lightly they could be in for a rude awakening.

        Calgary was never among that group, and while they might have had “system” difficulties that showed in long stretches, they appear to have made the necessary adjustments.

        Not too long ago Ottawa handed them their lunch over several games – but they had better be ready for the Flames this time around.

      • Habfan30 and George. Thanks, yes good points.

        In fact, George I think it was your Sens who figured out they could slow the Habs fire wagon hockey by a 1-1-3 defence. Other teams seem to have followed by either a form of a neutral zone trap or as Habfan30 points out, a hard fore check.

        But it does prompt a couple of questions: where is the Habs fore check? And where is that sense of urgency? I wonder if Bergevin hasn’t dialed 9-1-1 and reported a missing sense of will to win.

      • LJ,
        The Habs forecheck is one man with an active stick and two forewards alternating on the boards and middle of the blue line,

        It’s more passive, much less bodywork and more stealing the puck, breaking up passes resulting in a lot more turnovers.

        The eye test doesn’t always show it but at the end of the day the turnover possession stats bear it out.

        As for effort, I think it’s there but puck luck comes and goes. A few posts and crossbars last night would change perceptions of the game, same goes for the missed open nets.

        I’m not making excuses or saying the Habs deserved better, at the end of the day its the final score that matters.

        A few games with seeing eye shots and goals will have them winning with same effort and forecheck.

  5. After a great playoff run Stars season is a disaster. Injuries throughout and now Radulov and Bishop. Bright spot is Pavelski with .93 points per game and a plus 14.
    Trade still looks good after two years.

    • Yeah, for Dallas it’s been one of “those” seasons where “if anything can go wrong … it will.”

  6. I sympathize with the Canuck players, who are facing a brutal schedule, now or when they return. It is almost cruel to expect them to return and then go through so many games so close together. It will almost certainly lead to injuries due to fatigue, and really, what chance do they have to make the playoffs? Why then?

    But this is not merely about them. There are the other teams in the North who have to have their schedule rejigged. The revised schedule will affect the entire division.

    How much time do the Canucks’ players want? Another week on top of the current delay? Forget it.

    It would be better off for the North division for the NHL to cancel the rest of the Canucks games. They can be seeded for lottery purposes by their winning percentage. It’s not as if fan revenue is on the line.

    • Just guessing LJ, but TV contract might be an issue.
      Have to think there is language included in the event this happened? Would like to read it.

      • Didn’t think of that, Ray. You probably have it right.

      • Yup, Money will always trump player safety. It’s the way it has always been. The league just wants to try and put a positive spin on a situation they can not control and if the players safety is the cost of doing business, so be it.

        Just spread whipped crème on the poop pie and tell the players to enjoy their slice.

    • lj–Just to offer another possibility to Ray’s : I didn’t check the number of games each North team has remaining with the Canucks, but hypothetically, could a team claim its position in the standings or in the draft was affected because another team played fewer or more games against the division’s (possibly) worst team?

  7. Just realized…. top 4 NHL goaltenders (wins) all time….. are from Quebec (Bradeur, Roy, Luongo, Fleury)

    5 of top 9… Quebec…. Plante is the other

    Congrats to the Flower… he’ll pass Bobby Looo in a couple of weeks for 3rd place

    • Pengy,

      It’s all on account of the success of Patrick Roy and the work with his coach Francois Allaire creating the butterfly style.

      He was young, cocky and very good, and the kida all wanted to be like him. All of a sudden goalie schools were popping up and Quebec was producing goalies.

      It was novel in Montreal as Ken Dryden was a stand up goalie, though the butterfly wasn’t new, it just went missing for a while.

      Glenn Hall, Terry Sawchuck , Roger Crozier and Tony Esposito were great butterfly goalies prior to Roy and his “new style”