NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 24, 2023

by | Mar 24, 2023 | News, NHL | 51 comments

The Hurricanes clinch a playoff berth, John Carlson makes his return to the Capitals, the Bruins continue their quest for the single-season wins record and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes dropped a 2-1 decision to the New York Rangers but still clinched a playoff spot for the fifth straight season. Artemi Panarin and Adam Fox scored for the 42-20-10 Rangers, who sit in third place in the Metropolitan Division with 94 points. Sebastian Aho netted his 31st goal of the season for the 46-16-8 Hurricanes as they sit on top of the Metro with 100 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rangers defensemen Ryan Lindgren missed this game as he remains plagued by a nagging shoulder injury that had sidelined him for 11 straight games.

The Hurricanes clinched that spot thanks to the Toronto Maple Leafs downing the Florida Panthers 6-2. Auston Matthews scored two goals and John Tavares collected three assists for the Leafs (43-19-9) as they sit in second place in the Atlantic Division with 95 points. Matthew Tkachuk netted his 35th goal of the season for the 36-29-7 Panthers (79 points) as they remain one point behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eric and Marc Staal of the Panthers became the latest NHL players to opt out of wearing Pride-themed warmup jerseys for their club’s Pride Night, citing their religious beliefs. However, Eric Staal took part in a similar ceremony with the Montreal Canadiens in 2021.

A handful of players opting out of Pride Night has overshadowed the fact that most of their teammates are willingly taking part in these events.

Some teams, like the Chicago Blackhawks, opted not to participate but those were reportedly front-office decisions. The Blackhawks cited safety concerns for their Russian players over potentially violating their native country’s homophobic law banning “gay propaganda”. However, that theory was punctured by Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky taking part in his club’s Pride-themed warmup.

Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson (NHL Images).

Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson had a goal and an assist in a 6-1 romp over the Chicago Blackhawks. It was his first game since being in the head by a slapshot on Dec. 23 resulting in a fractured skull and severed temporal artery. Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom also had a goal and an assist for the Capitals as they improved to 34-31-8 to sit four points behind the Penguins with 76 points. Nikita Zaitsev scored for the 24-41-6 Blackhawks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chicago forward Colin Blackwell underwent season-ending sports hernia surgery on Wednesday.

Speaking of the Penguins, they dropped a 3-2 decision to the Dallas Stars. Joe Pavelski and Jamie Benn scored 31 seconds apart in the third period to take the lead while Joel Oettinger held off the Penguins with a 40-save performance as the Stars (39-19-14) hold first place in the Central Division with 92 points. Sidney Crosby and Pierre-Olivier Joseph replied for the 35-27-10 Penguins as they cling to the final Eastern wild-card spot with 80 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stars defenseman Miro Heiskanen set a franchise record for defensemen by extending his points streak to 12 games. Penguins starting goalie Tristan Jarry missed this game with a lower-body injury.

The Boston Bruins continued their quest for the single-season wins record by doubling up the Montreal Canadiens 4-2. David Pastrnak netted his 49th of the season while Tyler Bertuzzi scored his first goal since joining the Bruins before the trade deadline. Boston sits atop the overall standings with 115 points thanks to their record of 55-11-5. Nick Suzuki and Kirby Dach replied for the 28-38-6 Canadiens.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins have 11 games remaining in their regular-season schedule to break the record of 62 wins co-held by the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings and 2018-19 Tampa Bay Lightning. Meanwhile, the injury-ravaged Canadiens announced Josh Anderson suffered a season-ending high-ankle sprain on Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

A shootout goal by James van Riemsdyk gave the Philadelphia Flyers a 5-4 win over the Minnesota Wild. Joel Farabee had a goal and an assist for the 27-32-10 Flyers. Matt Boldy scored twice for Minnesota (41-22-9) as they sit one point back of the first-place Stars in the Central Division. Wild defenseman John Klingberg missed this game with an upper-body injury.

The Vegas Golden Knights held off the Calgary Flames by a score of 3-2. Vegas goaltender Logan Thompson made 37 saves before leaving the game with an injury with six minutes remaining. Jonathan Quick stopped all five shots he faced as the Golden Knights (45-21-6) hold first place in the Western Conference with 96 points. Milan Lucic and Nazem Kadri replied for the 32-26-15 Flames (79 points) as they slipped six points back of the Winnipeg Jets for the final Western Conference wild-card berth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was Thompson’s first game after missing 17 games with a leg injury. Golden Knights winger Reilly Smith also left the game with an injury during the second period.

Speaking of the Jets, they got a 3-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks when Adam Lowry broke a 2-2 tie in the third period. The win improved their record to 41-29-3 and opened a five-point cushion over the Nashville Predators with 85 points. Cam Fowler and Frank Vatrano scored for the 23-39-10 Ducks.

Meanwhile, the Predators surpassed the Flames in the standings by nipping the Seattle Kraken 2-1 on shootout goals by Matt Duchene and Philip Tomasino. Kiefer Sherwood also scored and Juuse Saro stopped 27 shots for the 36-26-8 Predators (80 points). Daniel Sprong scored for the Kraken (39-24-8) as they sit one point up on the Jets in the first wild-card spot.

The Ottawa Senators kept their playoff hopes alive with a 7-2 upset of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Alex DeBrincat and Brady Tkachuk each scored twice and Mads Sogaard stopped 27 shots for the 35-32-5 Senators (75 points) as they sit five points out of the final Eastern wild-card berth. Brayden Point tallied his 45th goal of the season for the Lightning (42-25-6) as they hold third place in the Atlantic Division with 90 points.

Vancouver Canucks forward Andrei Kuzmenko set a franchise record for most goals by a first-year player with 35 in a 7-2 drubbing of the San Jose Sharks. The Canucks improved to 32-34-5 on the season while the Sharks are 19-38-15.

The St. Louis Blues held off the Detroit Red Wings 4-3. Joel Hofer made 25 saves for the win as the Blues improved to 32-33-6. Simon Edvinsson tallied his first career NHL goal for the 31-31-9 Red Wings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blues forward Richard Thomas was a late scratch due to an illness.


  1. “We carry no judgement on how people choose to live their lives, and believe that all people should be welcome in all aspects of the game of hockey,” the Staal brothers said in a statement. “Having said that, we feel that by us wearing a Pride jersey it goes against our Christian beliefs.”

    Uh oh, those damn Russians are at it again! Oh wait…

    • Can one solution be, not doing these pre-game events which I’m pretty sure there are more affective ways (like using financial might) to help their local communities no matter the cause.
      I just think there are better ways to communicate that “all are welcome” or “unity” than before one game out of 82 with a fashion choice.

  2. You have to wonder if some added motivation for the Senators last night came from the decision by Tampa to start back-up goalie Elliot rather than Vasilevsky. Perceived as a sort of a “we can beat these stiffs with anyone in nets” attitude.

    The Leafs did them a favour as well by thumping Florida, as did Dallas by knocking off the Penguins. And things get tighter and tighter with Ottawa now sitting 1 point back of Washington, with a game in hand, and 4 back of Florida and 5 behind Pittsburgh, with all 3 having 10 games left.

    But it doesn’t get any easier with New Jersey up next in Jersey, followed next Monday at home to Florida.

    • And what a shock… Chychrun is listed as “day to day” uggh.

  3. Another pile of bulls**t, for refusing to accept/support the gay community. What’s worse is using religion as an excuse. These players have rarely or never attended church in there life. Truth is, there is a hate, stop hiding behind the church. ” Jesus loved the ones you hate.”

    • It’s not hate that the Staal Bros exhibit. But you clearly exhibit hate for them. Jesus loves us all, even you.

    • Dave and Captain Obvious,
      Read the First Amendment.

      • Paul, re CaptainObvious post … I think that was deliberately infused with a liberal dose of sarcasm, aimed at those who were singling out the Russians for their stance as if the same position isn’t taken by North Americans.

      • @Paul, you beat me to the First Amendment. The choice is they’re right.

    • Not sure anyone on here or anywhere actually knows who Jesus loved or didn’t, but according to the gospels (written by folks who also likely never met him either) he never once mentions gay folks.

      Just sayin’

      • Amen

      • But he did say to love your neighbour as you would love yourself.

      • The Bible does mention that man lying with man is a sin. Among many other sins that people seem to ignore

      • Sure does chrisms, and folks sure do.
        It also mentions plenty of stuff folks would be wise to ignore, and do ignore, well most do anyway.

      • Every time someone bring up the lying with man as he does a women makes me realize how much people have misinterpreted the Bible to excuse hatred.

        That verse is about the ownership of another man. In Biblical times, men owned women and that was apparently totally fine and just even in the Bible. But to own another MAN was an absolute sin. Every man should be free. So to “lay with a man as one does with a woman” means slavery should be abolished but women are still property.

      • Seems kinda fine with slavery in this part don’t ya think?

        “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. 46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

      • well yeah Ray. It’s a thousand+ work of complete fiction written and changed by humans over and over. The message will always change to whatever the society at the time wants to tell others to do.

        Basing any actual personal beliefs on such a tome is insanity itself.

      • Fair enough theSaint, especially the Old Test. I’m not a believer either. But I will add that lots of people who do are very good people, and do some good things in their communities regularly. So stick tap to them.

        Seems to be some credible evidence that Jesus did exist, but the whole God part doesn’t make much sense to me.

        I would bet $20 if you polled gay hockey fans whether or not they care about players wearing pride jerseys in the pregame warmup, it probably wouldn’t be very high on their priority list of things they worry about every day. At least not the ones I know.

      • “Jesus saves but Esposito scores on the rebound”!! remember that sign when I was fast becoming a hockey fan!!!!!!

  4. Those russian homophobic laws can go get f***ed. Who gives a chit what they think.

    Wake up !

  5. It seems in the east the Islander are the ones who want in the most, follow by Florida over the last 10 games.

    The west nothing has changed other then Wpg lost a point

    NYI 7-2-1
    Pitts 4-5-1
    Fld 6-3-1
    Wash 4-4-2
    Ott 3-6-1
    Buff 2-6-2

    Sea 5-3-2
    Wpg 5-4-1
    Nash 5-3-2
    Cal 5-3-2

    Calgary may have the easiest schedule remaining however they are 6 pts out and one head to head left. Along with Wpg, LA is the only other game Calgary has remaining against a playoff team. The have 6 home games and 3 road games.

    • Ty Caper . Let’s talk about what matters . Have never once looked at Lyles amazing site to talk about political views .

      I will say should be a great race for the bottom playoff race. Last year the East was only playing for positions

  6. Eric Steal claimed he never wore a Pride jersey… which is a lie, aka a SIN. He must be tried for heresy!

    • Î Î That Î Î lol : https://i.redd.it/ai7kf6b08mpa1.jpg

      I respect everyone’s beliefs, as a matter of act I believe in God but I don’t believe everything written 1500 to 2000 years ago by everyday yet almost pre historic men in a life instructions books.

      • *in life instructions books* sorry ! 🙂 I just wish these sex orientation and skin pigmentation stories would go away for good, they are medieval. Heck we are supposed to be an evolved species ! We are all the same race: human

  7. I really can’t remember, but have any teams or players ever told the queer community that they weren’t welcome at an NHL game?
    Why does the media have such an axe to grind on this particular topic?
    I’m willing to bet that those of us who played sports at any higher or even lower levels played with or against gay players.
    I think it’s a shame that guys are facing “heat” for their own personal decisions. With that said, if my captain told me to wear the sweater, I most likely would. If I respected said captain, that is.
    One love! Hockey is for everyone! Just stop trying to make it political, cause it ain’t helping.

    • @Shoreorrpark, The liberal media push’s the agenda to make everyone think they have no choice, but to follow the sheep no matter what your beliefs might be. The thought of asking people to participate isn’t in the media’s playbook as they like telling you what you must do…Good luck with that.

      • I wonder if you see the irony of using the term liberal media and then calling others sheep in the same sentence?

  8. What I’ve always wondered is if people who are antigay because of religion are as literal in their following of the Bible in all its intricate behavioral expectations. Do they also hold to the various dietary expectations? The family life expectations? If someone truly held to the Bible’s teachings across the board I’d respect that even if I disagreed. Cherry picking homosexuality out of the Bible just feels like a justification for one’s personal prejudices and fear.

    • Amen to that, Chrisms. I respect everyone’s right to follow their chosen religion, but my own particular beliefs are that it’s just another form of division and control. We should be better than that by now. I was raised Catholic in a non catholic community. (I no longer practice). The old girls in the community church (non catholic) told my mom, who was not catholic (dad was) that my brothers and I shouldn’t attend because we were baptized catholic. My mom lit em up right in front of the minister. Such a great memory of my mom, and a lasting memory of my first experience of bigotry and prejudice.

      • Chrisms and SOP, yep and yep.

        SOP, I think you are getting to the nub of where this is ending up and why some NHL teams are saying fuq it already. Just not worth the heat, for their players, from all sides of this debate, in particular in the US where folks just get all fired up about this. With all the other stuff that actually matters going on this is what some politicians talk about? One would almost think they are trying to distract you…. Catch on yet?

        Just live and let live, this is incredibly simple.

        This is why we can’t have nice things.

      • +1 for mom Shore !

      • convenient christian

      • convenient christian
        send the shrimp cocktail back bro’

      • Sorry, ds. I’m not sure what you mean.

    • I remember seeing someone tattoo the so-called “anti gay” scripture on their skin and someone responded to the picture of it with another verse in the Bible that basically says tattoos are a sin and will send you to hell.

      • Snicker.

    • Lmao. A self described atheist, now has an awful snide view of religion?

      Jesus! No pun intended!

      How the bleeeerep do you have ANY say about religious beliefs?

      Just stfu!!!

      • What an assumption. So, someone who isn’t Christian is an atheist? That’s news to me. I think that you should heed the quote usually attributed to George Washington. “It is better to be silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”

      • Well Paul,

        I was addressing someone who actually said the day before they were an atheist.

        So yeah, just be silent. Probably the best contribution you’ve ever made here. Now just follow that! Lmao

  9. I think teams should say, “fine, you don’t have to wear the special jersey, go on out there in your normal jersey”…. that way they can show EVERYONE that they are a homophobe. I bet that would end this B.S.

    • Think about that for a second Starsfan; the player(s) have released their own statement, stating the reason they didn’t wear the sweater, i think they would not be bother by wearing their regular sweater.

      This is why in hiring practice today, you’re not allowed to ask about, gender, religious or political beliefs. because it’s none of anyone business and it could discriminate against some one not getting the job or help someone else get a job based on them answer.

      This is more of a media story then it is anything else. They like to say Hockey isn’t for everyone, which is ironic for the fact they make their livelihood off covering the sport but want to drag it down.

      Has any reporter said “only 4 players in the NHL refused to wear pride jersey”

      That is a pretty good number isn’t it?

      • Have to disagree. If they feel strongly enough to not wear the sweater, then stand up for your beliefs, don’t hide in the dressing room.

  10. Not supporting something is a lot different than hating something.
    Lets not over-sensationalize everything.

    • @Taz, well said and spot on. The media screams like they are on top of a Mountain even though it’s really just a mole hill and prefer to burn the bridge while it’s still being built.

      • Rob, the media is not a monolith. These days it is whatever you want it to be. Change the channel, or subscribe to a different one. The reason they keep doing it is because people keep watching it or clicking on it, and yes they do push narratives. Their common agenda is turning a profit and these emotional issues (for some) sell.

        Look at how many posts there are today vs recently since the TDL passed and we all wait for the playoffs.

        Only one of the major media organizations are proven liars for profit, and they are in court right now facing a $1.6B lawsuit because of it. Hopefully they change after this experience.

  11. Don’t poke the Bear 🐻

    • Marchand is a great teammate, hey, Obe? We don’t have a heavyweight on the club, but we sure make up for it in team toughness. Everyone’s in the fight.

  12. “We have no judgment on how these people live their lives, but our religion which is based on a fictional collection of stories (which says absolutely nothing about homosexuality) does judge how other people live their lives therefore we actually do too.”


  13. Went to the Sens vs. Lightning game last night and the Sens played well throughout the game. Good energy, few mistakes, lots of offensive drive and solid defence. Brannstrom made a solo end to end rush and scored with a beautiful shot into the top corner.

    Sogaard was solid in goal.

    They have essentially no chance at the play-offs but it will do a lot for their confidence next year if they can finish off the season on a strong positive note.

  14. Eric Staal seems to have forgotten that he wore the pride jersey while he played with the Habs.

    Might be the political shade in Florida influencing this decision.