NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 20, 2022

by | Feb 20, 2022 | News, NHL | 22 comments

The Flames extend their points streak to nine games, the Avalanche widen their lead atop the overall standings, the Leafs and Coyotes make a trade, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


NHL.COM: The Calgary Flames remain red hot as they picked up their ninth straight victory by downing the Seattle Kraken 2-1, spoiling Mark Giordano’s return to Calgary for the first time since being selected by the Kraken in last year’s expansion draft. Elias Lindholm extended his goal streak to seven games with the tie-breaking goal in the third period. Lindholm and Matthew Tkachuk each finished the night with a goal and an assist as the Flames (64 points) hold a four-point lead over the Vegas Golden Knights for first place in the Pacific Division.

Calgary Flames forward Elias Lindholm (NHL Images).

Third-period goals by Alex Newhook and Mikko Rantanen lifted the Colorado Avalanche over the Buffalo Sabres 5-3. With 76 points, the Avs hold a three-point lead over the Florida Panthers for the top spot in the overall standings. Tage Thompson tallied all three goals for the Sabres.

The Edmonton Oilers got their fifth straight win under interim coach Jay Woodcroft by doubling up the Winnipeg Jets 4-2. Oilers captain Connor McDavid had a goal and two assists to become the first player to reach the 70-point plateau this season. The Oilers (59 points) have moved within a point of the second-place Golden Knights in the Pacific Division while the Jets (52 points) sit seven points out of the final Western Conference wild-card spot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Woodcroft’s hiring has given what had been a slumping Oilers club a timely shot in the arm. The players are all buying into his system, especially those who played for Woodcroft when he was coaching their AHL affiliate in Bakersfield. They’re not trying to rely solely on McDavid and Leon Draisaitl to carry the offense. Other players are getting more minutes plus the team has improved its defensive game.

St. Louis Blues winger Pavel Buchnevich scored twice while goaltender Ville Husso kicked out 34 shots in a 6-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Robert Thomas and David Perron each picked up two assists as the Blues moved ahead of the Minnesota Wild into second place in the Central Division with 64 points. William Nylander tallied two goals for the Leafs, who sit in third place in the Atlantic Division with 67 points.

David Pastrnak’s overtime goal lifted the Boston Bruins to a 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators. Bruins netminder Jeremy Swayman made 32 saves and defenseman Mike Reilly had two assists. Boston holds the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference with 60 points.

Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty and Adrian Kempe each had three points as the Los Angeles Kings overcame a 3-1 deficit to drop the Arizona Coyotes 5-3. Kopitar had three assists while Doughty and Kempe each scored two goals and collected an assist. The Kings hold the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference with 59 points.

The Anaheim Ducks remain two points behind the Kings after snapping a four-game skid with a 7-4 drubbing of the Vancouver Canucks. Adam Henrique and Nicolas Deslauriers tallied two goals each while rookie star Trevor Zegras picked up three assists. Elias Pettersson had a goal and two assists for the Canucks, who remain seven points back of the Ducks.


TSN: The Toronto Maple Leafs traded winger Nick Ritchie and a conditional pick to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin and winger Ryan Dzingel. The conditional pick received by the Coyotes will be either the Leafs’ 2023 third-rounder or their 2025 second-rounder.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ritchie signed a two-year deal ($2.5 million cap hit) with the Leafs this season but failed to play up to expectations and was eventually demoted to their AHL affiliate. This move brings in two affordable depth rentals for the Leafs in Dzingel ($1.1 million) and Lyubushkin ($1.35 million) who should contribute to their roster right away. Ritchie, meanwhile, will get an opportunity for more playing time with the rebuilding Coyotes.

NHL.COM: Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn was fined $5,000.00 by the league’s department of player safety for unsportsmanlike conduct during Friday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins signed defenseman Chad Ruhwedel to a two-year contract extension with an annual average value of $800K.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An affordable depth signing for the Penguins, who evidently liked what they’ve seen of Ruhwedel’s performance over the course of this season. He’s helped to improve the Penguins’ penalty kill.

MLIVE.COM: Gemel Smith is heading back to the Tampa Bay Lightning as they reclaimed him off waivers from the Detroit Red Wings. The Wings had claimed Smith on Jan. 19. He saw action in three games for Detroit, skating with his younger brother Givani.

THE ATHLETIC: The Anaheim Ducks have reportedly parted ways with assistant general manager Dave Nonis. The move is said to be part of the front-office restructuring under new GM Pat Verbeek. Nonis had a year remaining on his contract.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers yesterday announced Emile Francis passed at age 95. Nicknamed “The Cat”, he played for the Rangers as a goaltender and later served as head coach and general manager. He also worked for the St. Louis Blues and Hartford Whalers and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1982. He holds the Rangers’ coaching records for games (654) and wins (342), as well as playoff games (75) and wins (34).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Francis built the Rangers into a powerhouse during the late-60s and early-70s, which saw them reach the semifinals four times and the 1972 Stanley Cup Final. Their rivalry with the Boston Bruins during that time was must-watch hockey. My condolences to his family, friends and the Rangers’ organization.


  1. My favourite story about Emile Francis when he was GM of the NYR is when he said “you get a call from Sammy Pollock and he offers you this, this and that for your 1st pick in the draft, and right away your first inclination is to think “I thought I had a pretty good team … why am I going to finish last?”

    • I remember one story I read about The Cat. From back in his minor league goaltending days. The teams would often take overnight trains to games in those days. The sleeping quarters would have upper and lower berths. The goalies would be assigned the lower berths as they needed more rest. When the season ended, he bought a train ticket back home to Saskatchewan and chose an upper berth because it cost less. In the morning, out of force of habit, he hopped out of bed to the floor, forgetting that he was in the top bunk. “Damn near broke by leg”, he related.

  2. While I never got to see him play I grew up watching the teams he coached. I was, am and always be a Ranger’s fan thank to him. I loved the teams that he coached. I think that the NY Rangers should retire a jersey with his name on it (no number) He deserves to be in the rafters with the other Rangers legends. (And yes I know we are all still mad at him for trading away Giacomin)

    • We in Detroit knew that we weren’t getting the Eddie G in his prime, but he was such a hard worker, incredibly likeable, and a positive influence that I almost didn’t care. And yes, I watched EG’s return to MSG, and I applaud the crowd for treating him so well (and I don’t often applaud Ranger fans).

  3. Who was responsible for Ratelle and Park going to Boston and Esposito and Vadnais coming back to New York
    Awesome , if u R a Bruins Fan
    Horrible , if U R a Rangers fan
    I think this was Francises doing
    Sorry to reign on a mourning time in hockey , but that trade is well remembered in my mind

    The Leafs are masters with trade blunders over the years !

  4. So Benn gave Dylan Larkin a vicious cross check to the back of the neck last April that ended Larkin’s season and left him in a neck brace for months without receiving a fine or even a two minute penalty, but is hit for $5,000 for squirting water ? NHL, where are your priorities ?

    • Seconded!

    • Hi Iago

      There are no priorities in the DOPS…. Parros goes to his Magic 8 Ball for sentencing recommendations …. And accepts them almost every time…. or….

      He thought that the water could have been contaminated????


  5. I grew up a Hartford Whaler fan and Emile Francis did a solid job of turning the Whale into a decent team by the mid 80s. Larry Pleau before him made some questionable deals…..
    Emile’s draft selection of Sylvain Turgeon was always the one thing ….

    • Those Whalers/Bruins games were fun back then went to many of them in Hartford

  6. Leafs trade

    While not Earth shattering ….

    …and Iam not a fan of the many moves that Dubas has made like Mason Marchment for Denis Malgin
    ( what a joke that has been ) or Kadri and picks for Barrie and Kerfoot or Marleau and pick for money to Canes…or Mrazek for only $850 k less than Freddie ….or getting rid of Matt Martin only to be replaced by the same type of players and the same costs like Simmonds for ne reason…

    This move on a BUSINESS level was probably his best at its simplest to be able to move Ritchie and a draft pick and move out 2.5 million next year

    and pick up a creative winger who has a great shot with speed that can play good minutes in multiple rolls along with a big D man that can fill in if given a chance is a very decent move
    ..obviously there is a D man moving out of Toronto soon…..if they like this Russian D man ..

    Shout out to FLAMES fans ….team is on FIRE…LOL..

    They look really good and the team to beat IMO out West …hopefully they can play good playoff Hockey when the times comes …they look
    really really good…

    Gaudreau is going to command ( $9million or more on next contract ..
    thats going to be tough with Tkachuck up too?

    Take care

    • The most important thing the Leafs get is 2 expiring contracts while relieving themselves of Ritchie’s cap hit for next season.

  7. Has Woodcroft made the Oilers’ goaltending problem go away?

    • Well Francis, he solved the biggest problem, a team wide commitment to play the right way to have consistent success. I have been beating that drum all year.

      Do they have championship quality goaltending? Nope. Problem is who trades that? At least I don’t think they do. They have NHL quality goaltending though.

      We will see how far it gets them.

  8. Only a matter of time before the Oilers tailspin back to reality just like Vancouver did.

    • Agree

    • Disagree guys, this is a playoff team just like the last 2 years.
      They were playing better for a while, 10-2-1 in last 13. They lost those 2 after all star break in an ugly way Holland made the move.

      Will they likely have another tough stretch for a few games, ya probably, but I would bet a pay cheque they make the playoffs. The are not the Nucks.

  9. Toronto traded a conditional second round pick in 2025!!!

    That has to be a first, that is, 4 draft years a way.

    Or Arizona can take a third round pick in 2023

  10. Kal Ei
    I am on board with his last blurb on Dubais
    How does he keep his job !
    1 man wrecking crew and Shanahan gives him full reign

    Signing Tavares – HUGE mistake , Leafs are buried with their cap

    Dubais procrastinated , signing Matthews and Marner for far less money , I still have the article to support this evidence !

    Trades Kadri – What would Toronto look like today , with Kadri vs Tavares and 7 million left over cap space .

    You have a present at pairing defense , not even a second pairing
    This was recently discussed , as per the TSN with O Dog and the crew
    Muzzin is a 3 rd pairing at best , away overrated , Slow , prone to errors , braces on both knees , the list goes on
    Sandin will be fine , but needs time to develop .

    Marchment scored a hat trick recently , another Leaf castoff

    1 of the core will have to go in the office season , retool this lineup
    Hopefully Dubais , the governors step in and make some changes

    Montreal , Vancouver, Edmonton , just a few examples

    • Ken, just say you dislike the Leafs. Would have been easier.

  11. Finally talk about the Bruins team toughness is building & it’s about time there’s no denying this team is soft, for sure they need a 2nd line center but maybe they should look into trading for two tough Dmen who can play D and a big winger winger who likes to mix it up

  12. Leafs trade…. send out a player not being used much… bring in two depth players… not earthshaking by any stretch but OK

    I again reiterate that the Leafs window is almost impossible to start this year (have to go through at least one FLA team; likely 2; then Canes or Rangers or Pens; then Knights or Avs…… loooooooooonnnnnnnngggggggggssssssshhhhhhhhoooooot at best) so small moves giving up little/none of the future is OK

    Leafs lost to a team playing superior hockey last night…. This is what the playoffs will be like

    So… the trade… meh …. But OK

    Not sure if Oil have turned the corner… but certainly much better hockey of late

    Nice blaster one-timer OT goal by Pasta

    Re Ruhweedel extension… it’s almost as if Hextal and Burkie had a bet…. “The only way we’re extending him is if he scores in the next 2 weeks. Oh ya…. If he scores tomorrow… let’s extend him for 2 years….. LOL …. that’ll never happen”….. the next night ….”Oh Sh%$t…. Now we have to start the paper work”

    This is a depth signing and close to league min, so that is their argument

    That said… signing an extension early for Pens’ 8th (more like 9th) best D-man; just because he finally scored after 2 seasons (and did so in a game where he was responsible for a goal against and almost 2 more); at a time when so many Pens are unsigned for next year; AND effectively signalling to the rest of the team (who have long playoff run aspirations) that they (HexBurkie) have no intentions of upgrading at 3RD for the playoffs (thus tremendously dampening Pens players and fans hopes) is NOT a good sign

    This signing (if it HAD to be done) could very easily have been done off-season. Not good HexBurkie. This signing comes just about 3 or 4 weeks from when he was directly responsible for 4 goals against in two weeks (and were it not for Jarry…. Could have been 8 or 9 GAs) including Pens loss to Caps in OT… Pens could have won in reg were it not for CR…. tying goal his fault AND he was going to get a stupid Penalty on the play anyway…. So Caps would have had a late PP. Matheson has carried him and covered up for him all season