NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 3, 2021

by | Apr 3, 2021 | NHL | 14 comments

Recaps of Friday’s action, a growing concern as COVID-19 spreads through the Canucks roster, the Blackhawks and Panthers make a trade, plus updates on Tuukka Rask, Eric Staal and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


NHL.COM: Nathan MacKinnon scored two goals to lead the Colorado Avalanche over the St. Louis Blues by a score of 3-2. Avs goaltender Jonas Johansson made 25 saves for his first win of the season. David Perron had a goal and an assist for the Blues. The Avalanche moved into sole possession of first place in the Honda West Division with 52 points, holding a two-point lead over the Vegas Golden Knights. The Blues, meanwhile, dropped to fifth place in the division with 38 points.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche are red hot of late, riding a 13-game points streak. As for the Blues, they continue to sputter offensively and are in real danger of tumbling out of the playoff race altogether.

The Arizona Coyotes (39 points) moved one point ahead of the Blues into fourth in the West with a 4-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. Phil Kessel scored the winning goal and also picked up an assist as the Coyotes have won four of their last five contests.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kessel also leads the Coyotes with 15 goals and 28 points in 37 games. Their recent rise into playoff contention could take them out of the sellers’ category with the NHL’s April 12 trade deadline just over a week away.

A shootout goal by Jason Spezza gave the Toronto Maple Leafs a 2-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets. Jack Campbell made 31 saves for the win as the Leafs sit atop the Scotia North Division with 51 points, four ahead of the Edmonton Oilers and the Jets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Campbell remains undefeated in eight games this season. He’s doing a fine job holding the fort in Frederik Andersen’s absence.

Connor McDavid snapped a 2-2 tie in the third period as the Oilers edged the Calgary Flames 3-2, moving ahead of the Jets into second place in the North with 23 wins on the season. Leon Draisaitl collected two assists for the Oilers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames (35 points) have lost seven of their last nine games and sit sixth in the North, six points behind the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens who have five games in hand. The Flames are toast unless they stage a remarkable turnaround over the next six weeks and the Canadiens collapse down the stretch.

An overtime goal by Dmitry Orlov lifted the Washington Capitals over the New Jersey Devils 2-1. Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood made 38 saves to keep his club in this one. With 52 points, the Capitals opened a two-point lead over the New York Islanders for first place in the MassMutual East Division.

The San Jose Sharks kept their playoff hopes alive in the West Division by blanking the Los Angeles Kings 3-0. Martin Jones had a 30-save shutout, Brent Burns collected his 500th NHL assist and Rudolfs Balcers had a goal and two assists. With 36 points, the Sharks moved two points ahead of the Kings into sixth place in the division, two points behind the fifth-place Blues and three back of the fourth-place Coyotes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sharks were given up for dead a month ago but five wins in their last seven contests have moved them into contention for the fourth and final playoff spot in the West.


THE PROVINCE: Seven Vancouver Canucks players and one coach are now on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list, with several of the cases involving the highly contagious Brazilian P.1 variant that has resulted in a surge of COVID cases in British Columbia. It’s expected more Canucks players could test positive when the league updates its protocol list later today.

SPORTSNET: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said there has been no consideration given to reducing the number of games the Canucks will play once they emerge from their current shutdown. The club is currently not expected to play again until next Thursday but that date could change as more players get added to the protocol list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Quinn Hughes, Alex Edler, Braden Holtby, Antoine Roussel and Zack MacEwen joined Adam Gaudette and Travis Hamonic on the list yesterday. If the league doesn’t intend to reduce the Canucks games that could mean extending the end of the regular season to accommodate those postponed games.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks yesterday acquired forward Vinnie Hinostroza from the Florida Panthers in exchange for minor-league Brad Morrison. Hinostroza began his NHL career with the Blackhawks in 2015-16 and was traded in 2018 to the Arizona Coyotes. He played nine games this season with the Panthers and is due to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks add a depth player they’re familiar with as they jockey for a playoff spot in the Discover Central Division. Hinostroza carries a $1 million cap hit. This move is considered a salary dump by the Panthers, shedding Hinostroza’s $1 million cap hit to perhaps free up space to add a defenseman after Aaron Ekblad recently fractured his leg.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Blackhawks forward Brandon Hagel was placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 list yesterday.

BOSTON GLOBE: Bruins starting goaltender Tuukka Rask’s status remains unclear as he continues to receive treatment for an upper-body injury that’s sidelined him for the past four games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s not good news for a Bruins club clinging to the final playoff spot in the MassMutual East Division. Third-stringer Dan Vladar could be sticking around a little longer.

SPORTSNET: Eric Staal will be making his debut with the Montreal Canadiens on April 5 against the Edmonton Oilers. The Canadiens acquired Staal last Friday in a trade with the Buffalo Sabres.

TSN: Winnipeg Jets defenseman Nathan Beaulieu underwent season-ending shoulder surgery on Thursday.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres forward Curtis Lazar is listed as week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

NHL.COM: The Ottawa Senators-Winnipeg Jets game scheduled for May 7 has been moved up to April 5.


  1. While Winnipeg is a good offensive team they have lost that swagger of being scary good without Laine. That trade is turning out to be very bad for both teams.

    • Lol, what? They’re 2nd place right now and Laine played 1 game for them this season.

  2. The Flames got rooked, Connor McCheapshot shouldn’t have even been playing in that game … garage league …

  3. Is anyone surprised that covid has crept into some teams? Apparently, yes: the NHL. This was so likely an occurrence that a safety buffer of time should have been built into the schedule.

    Now the Habs and the Canucks are going to face ridiculous schedules – and that has to have a cascading effect on other teams in the North as well.
    Makes for poor hockey, increases the chances of injury and is unfair to the players and the teams.

    • These covid variants have changed things dramatically. It will be a miracle if the Leafs and Sens make it to the finish line unscathed the way things are going in Ontario.
      Not sure how the Canucks can play all the games on their schedule.
      Points percentage being considered?

    • LJ The NHL did. There is a plan that the playoffs could start a week later but the league REALLY REALLY does not want to do that (according to Pierre LBrun of TSN). The Habs-Oilers games are scheduled on the last day the league wants the season to end by, but as you said, things are not looking good for that now.

      Speaking of the shedule, I’d add to Spector’s comments re: the Flame. They specifically have to do really well in their up comig games against the Habs. If they drop those games, or even come out less than even split, they are in huge trouble.

    • I figured it would right from the get-go LJ … and said as much on more than one occasion in here – usually in reference to governments unwisely allowing variances in protocol between ordinary Joes and pro athletes. I said it would … and it will … come back to bite them. BC’s, Ontario’s and Quebec’s relaxations of stringent controls – with the proliferation of the variants – combined with Federal foot-dragging on the acquisition of vaccines compared to a host of other countries – could only turn out bad. And it is. As I said a week back – it’s going to get worse.

  4. Man you have to give props to Spezza. For league min, he has 20pts playing very limited mins and with his assist from last night, he’s top 100 point getter all time.

    Bottom line for me is this guy has delivered so the team better deliver something special for this guy. They owe him that.

    Hey has there been another team that took over top spot in their division and hasn’t given it up? Since the Leafs took first in the north, I don’t think anyone has caught them yet. Also they have beaten all the teams back to back now which again don’t think anyone else has done that too.

    • Spezza has been excellent. Far more impactful than Thornton with far less opportunity.

      • And spezza wil do what he has done his whole careeer disappear in the playoffs and retire cupless! He’s too soft for the playoffs

  5. Relax with your hate bbb. He’s on our 4th line for goodness sake. I dont think he will win the Conn Smythe either you silly goose.

    • Conn Smythe!?? Lol remember he’s on the leafs they won’t make it out of the first round Habs, oilers and jets ALL built better for the playoffs than the leafs!

  6. Wondering about all these NHL covid stories and positive tests.
    How many NHL players have been hospitalized ?
    How many NHL players have been hospitalized more than 30 days ?
    How many NHL players have died ?
    Would the NHL and associates have access to a secret potion for wellness
    that the general public is unaware of ?

    …..Just Wondering…..

    • Wonder no more:

      1. No NHL players have been hospitalized by COVID-19,
      2. See above,
      3. None have died from COVID-19,
      4. No.