NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 21, 2023

by | Mar 21, 2023 | News, NHL | 23 comments

Aleksander Barkov makes franchise history as the Panthers overtake the Penguins for the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth, the three stars of the week are announced plus injury updates and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov collected an assist to become the franchise’s all-time leading scorer (614 points) in a 5-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Carter Verhaeghe scored two goals and Matthew Tkachuk had a goal and two assists for the Panthers, who improved to 36-27-7 and vaulted over the Pittsburgh Penguins into the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth with 79 points. Dylan Larkin scored his 26th goal of the season for the 30-30-9 Red Wings.

Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov (NHL Images).

The Penguins, meanwhile, slipped to 34-26-10 (78 points) by dropping a 2-1 decision to the Ottawa Senators. Rookie goaltender Dylan Ferguson kicked out 48 shots for his first NHL win in just his second career game since 2017-18. Thomas Chabot and Drake Batherson scored for the 34-31-5 Senators, who sit six points behind the Panthers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a tale of two teams going in different directions. The Panthers have been red-hot over the last 10 games (7-2-1) while the Penguins have dropped four straight and are 4-5-1 in their last 10. The Pens’ injury-depleted defense took another hit when Marcus Petterson was placed on long-term injury reserve.

The Senators, meanwhile, kept their playoff hopes alive but their odds of gaining ground on the Panthers are shrinking with the end of the regular season (April 13) just over three weeks away.

Speaking of teams struggling to reach a wild-card spot, the Calgary Flames were thumped 8-2 by the Los Angeles Kings. Adrian Kempe and Carl Gundstrom each tallied twice for the 41-20-10 Kings as they sit in second place in the Pacific Division with 92 points. Tyler Toffoli and Noah Hanifin replied for the 31-25-15 Flames (77 points) as they remain four points behind the Winnipeg Jets in the Western Conference.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets’ sputtering performance in recent weeks is the only reason the Flames remain in striking distance of that final Western wild-card spot. If the Jets can string a few wins together over the next week or two, the flickering Flames’ postseason hopes will be doused.

Turning to the Flames’ Alberta rival, the Edmonton Oilers picked up their fourth straight win by nipping the San Jose Sharks 5-4 on an overtime goal by Darnell Nurse. Mattias Ekholm scored twice, including the game-tying goal late in the third period as the Oilers (40-23-8) sit four points back of the Kings in the Pacific Division with 88 points. Erik Karlsson tallied twice for the 19-37-15 Sharks.

Colorado Avalanche goalie Alexandar Georgiev stopped 27 shots to shut out the Chicago Blackhawks 5-0. Denis Malgin scored twice and collected an assist as the Avalanche picked up their sixth straight win (41-22-6) to sit second in the Central Division with 88 points, one behind the Dallas Stars. The Blackhawks dropped to 24-40-6.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Georgiev is now tied for the league lead in shutouts with five. The Avalanche played without Cale Makar as he’s listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury.


NHL.COM: New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad, Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar and Boston Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman are the three stars for the week ending March 19.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Capitals defenseman John Carlson could be one step closer to returning to action after joining his teammates yesterday wearing a regular practice jersey, indicating he’s cleared for contact.

Carlson, 33, suffered a fractured skull and severed his temporal artery after being struck by a slapshot during a game against the Winnipeg Jets three months ago.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: The Kraken could open their four-game road trip in Dallas tonight without starting goaltender Philipp Grubauer as he battles a non-COVID-related illness. The Kraken hold the first Western Conference wild-card berth with 83 points.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers defenseman Ryan Lindgren is expected to be in the lineup for Tuesday’s games against the Carolina Hurricanes. He’s been sidelined since Feb. 25 by a shoulder injury.

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs blueliner T.J. Brodie is listed as day-to-day after blocking a shot during Saturday’s game against the Ottawa Senators.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Former Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, 46, will be running next month’s Boston Marathon for charity. It will be the first time Chara has run in a marathon.

USCHO.COM: Carson Briere has been charged with criminal mischief and disorderly conduct after a video emerged showing him pushing a double amputee’s empty wheelchair down a flight of stairs in a bar on March 11. Briere is the son of Philadelphia Flyers assistant general manager Daniel Briere.


  1. So, yesterday Pengy advised Senators fans to prepare for a banner night against the fading Penguins, while I thought that, while it might well be a high-scoring game, the Penguins would still win by firing a ton of shots against rookie goalie Mads Sogaard, whose game has taken a dip since both Talbot and Forsberg went down.

    To make matters worse, Ottawa would then throw the just called-up ex-Marlie goalie, Ferguson, under the proverbial bus tonight against the Bruins.

    And, of course, everything turned out otherwise. Not only was it a low-scoring game, but they decided to start Ferguson last night and so, what he does – in just his second NHL game ever – is face down that predicted barrage of shots in a low-scoring affair, coming out on top 2-1 in a game which the Penguins should have won going away.

    Bottom line? None of us could predict s*&t in a barnyard. 🙂

    I will say this … if Ottawa is still in the playoff hunt after their next 3 games – Boston tonight – Tampa on Thursday and NJ towards the end of the week – there will be two moons in the sky.

    • Both teams have the same number of wins and loses if you don’t give a point for OT losses.
      Something just isn’t right about these 3 point games. I really wish (one can dream) they fix that. There will still be parity if they did, it just means that in an odd year a (sub).500 team might make the playoffs and we can’t have that, especially because the current seeding would allow having a superior team with a better record not make the cut.

  2. I thought the kid got called up because Mandolese was injured! NOPE. Someone just felt like Ferguson, fresh from the ECHL, and having won 5 of 6 in Bingo should go against the Penguins. Gutsy call by coach and GM. But it worked. Last night was the winnable game between the two of this back-to-back. The Bruins are just other worldly right now. Sure the Sens have played them tough this year but….Soggard is in for it tonight.

    • Speaking of the Bruins’ incredible season, Travis Yost analyzed Boston’s achievements today at TSN.
      Here’s a sample – their regular 19 skaters through the season so far are all outscoring their opponents. Every single skater – forwards and defence – is a plus.
      It’s a wonder they ever lose a game.

    • I get home from the Oilers game last night,
      I check out Sports desk for all the scores.. and read the Sen’s & Pens score….🤔

      Wow Who is this Sens Goaltender… I know all four
      and have never hear of Dylan Ferguson stops 47 shots⁉️
      the Very young guns Sanderson & Rilly Greig get an other point ….👌
      dont think ether team make the playoffs.. but who knows with a Hot Goaltender…

  3. Dylan Ferguson was definitely the story last night for the Sens….Pens threw tons at him; he was spectacular

    Goals against Pens…. Hello Ruhweedel (caused first goal and took awful penalty late that gave Sens a PP on which they got their GWG ) and Dumo (poor coverage on GWG). Now Pens outside playoff cut line AND next 2 games on road v two teams vying for 1st in Central…. Stars/Avs

    Jacob Penturi thinks maybe Penguins better off missing playoffs….


    I agree re him saying that missing will force necessary changes

    1. no more crazy multi-year signings to those in their 30’s

    2. No more Dumo or Ruhweedel…. EVER EVER EVER!!!

    3. Sully (unless he’s fired by HexBurkie) will FINALLY be forced to play the best players he has available (had he sat Dumo and Ruhweedel and played Friedman and Smith through many games this year; and had not stuck with Carter/Kappy/McG as 3rd line for so long; Pens would have [at a minimum] 8 – 10 more points; and battling for 3rd in Metro; instead of now being out of the playoff picture)

    4. Perhaps it forces HexBurkie to bite the bullet and move older players contributing below their Cap hit (Carter; Petry; etc)

    5. Stop Sully from blaming losses on Jarry (and pulling him). 4 pulls recently…. None for true goaltending reasons….. all for horrific defensive woes…. Does anybody believe he’d have been pulled in any of those games if Dumo had been in the press box?

    Next year staying for sure : Sid; Gino; Guentz; Tanger; Rakell; Pettersson; P-O J

    My Ships N Giggles dream:

    also keep: Smith; Friedman (actually played solid in the Ranger drubbing Sat; and very good last night) ; Jarry (watch his play when neither Dumo or Ruhweedel are on the ice!!!!); O’Connor, Poehling; Nylander, Arch

    Even if they could miraculously retain 50% (on EACH of ) Petry; Carter; Rusty; Rutta ; Granlund…and move them all….would definitely be worth it…. Would net some “scraps” (late round picks) . Carter…. Maybe just tell him he’s sitting the year… if he retires; Cap still counts, but roster spot opens up…. Bonus!!!!

    Above…. Leaves ~ $27 M or so for 9 players …. All replacement to be in their 20’s…After signing a top 4 RHD; back – up ; 2 depth wingers; and a 7thD …. Leaves ~ $16 M for

    Two top 6 wingers and a 3C

    That’s a hell of a re-tool…. But would be younger; faster; and far better defensively

    On the flip side…. Just watch Hextall re-up Zucker (great season but for sure an exception season only to be much less down the road)…. 8 years @ $6M; Dumo 6 @$ 3.5 M (cuz Hextall thinks he’s saving Cap space); re-upping Ruhweedel 6 years @$2M; De-Smith; 5 @ $5M; trading Smith ; P-O J ; this year’s 1st; next year’s first (UNprotected of course) for 2 mid 30’s slow footed D men…. Each at over $7M per and at least 4 more years on their contracts…. Nice!!!!

    Sully just not making right decisions (roster, lines , etc etc)… maybe new coaches???

    Hextall…. Crappy moves snd re-ups last year; expansion draft uber failure; trades he lost…. Then nothing this year until the very end…. Where hr got the already ancient Pens; even older… Hextall and Burke must go

    Sad Sad Sad for Pens all around 💩🤬👎💩🤬👎💩🤬👎

    • Pittsburgh’s problem isn’t Hextall, who is a pretty good GM. Pittsburgh’s problem is their fans who demand playoffs every year, disregarding the simple fact that their core is aging and there aren’t really any A Grade prospects in the system because GMs have been trading futures, year after year, to get the Pens into the playoffs. I anticipate lots of whining by Penguins fans when they aren’t good enough to make the playoffs and Hextall can’t say rebuild, much less actually begin one. You know, the problem the Flyers have had for too long.

      • Hi Paul

        Agree that Fans cries and ownership demands dictate the direction a GM takes

        That said…. Ownership and for sure the large majority of fans…. Wanted a continued push to get into the playoffs

        With that mandate… Hextall’s moves have been brutal….. especially expansion draft and this year’s TDL

        He’s not all to blame

        Sully has not fielded the best available (to him) roster this year

        Repeatedly playing Dumo; Ruhweedel ; and the 3rd line of Carter/Kappy/McGinn EASILY cost Pend AT LEAST 8-10 game points…. If they had those…. Battling for 3rd in Metro and not (as now) outside looking in

      • I agree there Paul – 100%. Singling out Ruhwedel and Dumoulin for EVERY loss, and blaming Sullivan for not icing “better players” (better according to WHO?) is just ludicrous.

        The reason they lost last night was simply and directly the inability to put more than one puck behind a goalie whose previous NHL experience was 9 minutes, despite firing 48 shots.

        A lot of us have been saying, for some time now, that Pittsburgh is simply an “old” team with a prospect pool ranked at or near the bottom by a consensus of Hockey Writers. The effort to remain in a playoff position by trading away picks/prospects has reached the end of the line.

        It happens to the very best of teams that try to follow that approach. The question is, have they taken that route in Pittsburgh because they know that the crowds will fall off dramatically should they ever signal a re-build the proper way by dealing the so-called “untouchables?”

        In other words, are they known to management as “fair weather fans” spoiled by the blind luck in originally landing Lemieux (more deliberate losing than blind luck there), Crosby, Malkin, Letang?

        Two maligned D-men and a stupid coach are NOT the reason they’re hanging on for dear life now.

      • Are you sure about Hextall, Paul? I recall that this year Hextall resigned Malkin and Letang to multi year, no trade extensions which will carry them both to 40+ years. That hobbled the chances of a rebuild.

        Do you really believe fans dictate the GMs’ decisions? Not sure that deserves much thought.

      • That was one of the most foolish posts you’ve ever had Paul. The stats are black and white that continuing to try to win around the aging core is still a viable strategy. They are playing at a high level still. It was hextalls failure to surround them with decent depth. Even the statement hextall is a pretty good gm holds no water. Beyond some success as assistant gm where has he demonstrated this in the nhl? And every fan should go into a season expecting the gm and owners to provide them a chance to make the playoffs. Only fans of persistently bad teams that have had their expectations drug through the mud would have such a negative outlook.

      • George. Without a doubt Pittsburgh is a town full of penguin fans… not necessarily hockey fans. Like many us markets. If … no make that when… their star players dry up it will effect attendance. Sustained losing will as well. But there will remain a strong following. So long as the ownership group is committed to spending up towards the cap. One thing Pittsburgh sports fans won’t tolerate is an ownership group trying to sell tickets to a team they are not putting full effort into competing. A full rebuild would not go over well. It didn’t go over well pre crosby but that was partly cause they tried to sell Rico fata and sick tarnstrom as the second coming of jags and Murphy. A retool type of situation would be tolerated by most fans.

      • Hi George

        I’ve never blamed all losses on Dumo and Ruhweedel

        Between them… for sure they have cost a few wins

        Last night was all about the young tender…. Pens certainly did their due diligence and overall through all they had to get to OT(get a point)…. Ruhweedel caused the first goal; and took a stupid penalty late (that Sens scored winning goal on; while Dumo couldn’t handle his player infront of the net)

        So due to 3 players…. Ferguson; Ruhweedel; Dumo…. Pens lost last night’s game

        No Ruhweedel or Dumo ghastly errors…. And at least Pens could have got 1 point

        It is not Ruhweedel’s direct fault per se… he’s an extremely poor and very costly D man. Same can be said, with a lesser extent for Dumo (had some good years and even a handful of good games spread out through this year)

        Both are trying…. It is not due to lack of effort. Dumo has lost a step; lost confidence; and is prone to errors this year

        Ruhweedel’s issue is that he doesn’t have the skill; speed( size; strength; and mostly the hockey iQ and unfortunately has the total inability to play on his side (confuses right from left…. Fedun had to tell him 3 times last night that he was on the wrong side… It’s very possible he has Gerstmann Syndrome… which then is NOT his fault)

        many times each game following his D partner into the partner’s corner where the partner is already engaged with the puck carrier; leaving Ruhweedel’s own man uncovered in front of jarry or De Smith

        Dumo and Ruhweedel are on the roster per Sully’s choice…., in essence…. The real culprit is Sully

        All year he could have played Friedman or Smith instead of Ruhweedel; AND could have dropped Dumo to bottom pairing and maxed him at 10 minutes; or had him replaced by Friedman or Smith…. Sully didn’t make the right choice

        Those issues stem from Sully choices

        Also Sully repeatedly threw out the seriously underperforming Carter/Kappy/McG line…. Again…. On Sully

        That’s what I am saying; certainly NOT saying all of Pens loses are solely because of Ruhweedel and Dumo

  4. The Pens are headed for a brutal re-build in the very near future. I would say a rebuild is in order, but with the best trade assets all with NMC or NTC’s that is going to be tough.

    • Now you have me thinking if the Pens do enter a rebuild after this season would they trade Crosby to a contender? Then I got think of to which team. Then I got thinking of Crosby on the same team as McDavid! 😀
      One can dream, right!?

      • Only if crosby asked to go. I think he follows his mentor and stays with one team his while career

      • You could be right and no one would blame Crosby for staying. I don’t think it will happen, but as I said, one can dream. lol

    • Hi Pengy,

      See the Write up about the Pens top 10 Prospect today on
      http://www.NHL Rumors.com

      its a Very Hard Read for any Pens Fan’s….⁉️
      fyi… Willie

      • No I haven’t Willie

        I’m sure it id as awful as I felt after watching yhe last few Pens games…. Sad sad sad

  5. Everything I’m reading about Pens sounds awfully familiar about what was said about the Bruins to old to slow blow it up. Nothing wrong with experience if you play hard and have everyone pulling the rope the same same direction.

    • And have a competent gm.

    • Obe, the Bruins changed their coach, acquired a top d-man (Lindholm) and then were gifted with elite goaltending this season. Top 4 D are under the age of 30 whereas Pittsburgh has only Pettersson in that category.

      Last year, Ulmark was an average + NHL goalie (917 save percentage); this year Linus should be a candidate for the Vezina trophy (935). Stellar in Buffalo, it seems like it just took Ulmark 40 games to settle in. Tough to play against a team like Boston – talented, tough, nasty, physical and doesn’t allow many easy goals.

    • Hi Obe

      Team overall is old and slow…. Yes….But their two top C’s (36 and 37 in a few months) are still firing on all cylinders … still PPG + players

      Hextall failed at bottom 6…. Huge

      Hextal blew trades

      Hextal was abysmal with the Expansion draft

      Just this alone should tell thr story….

      Consider where Pens would be with


      Replaced by


      Hextall then waited until right near TDL (after other teams had already made good moves)…. And over-paid to get 3 players (one with two more years) that actually made the already old Pens; older

      He had so many better; and cheaper options….. he just failed…. Miserably