NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 5, 2024

by | Apr 5, 2024 | News, NHL | 21 comments

The Jets clinch a playoff berth, Bruins captain Brad Marchand reaches a scoring milestone, the battle for the final Eastern Conference wildcard continues, and the latest on the Coyotes in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: The Winnipeg Jets defeated the Calgary Flames 5-2 to clinch a playoff berth. Gabriel Vilardi tallied a hat trick and Connor Hellebuyck made 31 saves for the Jets (46-24-6), who sit third in the Central Division with 98 points. Dustin Wolf stopped 40 shots for the 34-36-5 Flames (73 points), who were officially eliminated from postseason contention.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flames rookie Connor Zary was a healthy scratch from this game. His teammate Martin Pospisil could face supplemental discipline after being ejected in the second period for elbowing Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey in the face. Morrissey was not injured.

Boston Bruins captain Brad Marchand (NHL Images).

Boston Bruins captain Brad Marchand scored his 400th career NHL regular-season goal in a 4-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. David Pastrnak and Danton Heinen each had a goal and an assist and Jeremy Swayman turned aside 28 shots for the 45-17-15 Bruins, who’ve won three straight and sit third in the overall standings with 105 points. Jake Guentzel replied for the Hurricanes (47-22-7) as they sit sixth overall with 101 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bruins forward Justin Brazeau missed this game with an upper-body injury suffered during Tuesday’s win against the Nashville Predators. He’s listed as week-to-week.

The New York Islanders moved into the final Eastern Conference wildcard berth after doubling up the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2. Noah Dobson broke a 2-2 tie and Kyle Palmieri netted his 25th goal of the season for the Islanders, who’ve won three straight and improved to 34-27-15 (83 points). Kirill Marchenko had a goal and an assist for the 25-39-12.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blue Jackets goaltender Daniil Tarasov left the game in the first period with an upper-body injury following a collision with teammate David Jiricek. There was no postgame update regarding his condition. Jackets winger Johnny Gaudreau missed this game due to illness.

A 30-save performance by Alex Nedeljkovic (including 16 in the first period) backstopped the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 4-1 win over the Washington Capitals. Kris Letang and Reilly Smith each collected two assists for the Penguins (35-30-11), who extended their points streak to seven games and sit two points behind the Islanders. Alex Ovechkin scored for the 36-29-10 Capitals as they slipped one point back of the Isles.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Capitals winger T.J. Oshie (undisclosed) missed this game and has been ruled out for Friday’s contest with the Hurricanes.

Tampa Bay Lightning forwards Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos each collected three assists to beat the Montreal Canadiens 7-4 and eliminate the latter from playoff contention. Stamkos and Nick Paul each tallied twice as the Lightning improved to 43-26-7 (93 points) as they hold the first Eastern wildcard and sit two points behind the third-place Toronto Maple Leafs in the Atlantic Division. Joel Armia scored two goals and Juraj Slafkovsky had a goal and an assist for the 29-34-12 Canadiens.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens defenseman Kaiden Guhle left this game in the first period with an upper-body injury following a hit from behind by Kucherov. No penalty was called on the play and no postgame update was provided about Guhle’s condition. Kucherov sits atop the points race with 133 and reached the 90-assist plateau for the first time. Meanwhile, his teammate Tanner Jeannot missed this contest with an upper-body injury and is listed as day-to-day.

Colorado Avalanche goalie Justus Annunen kicked out 44 shots in a 5-2 win over the Minnesota Wild. Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin collected three points each for the Avalanche (48-22-6), who sit fifth overall with 102 points. Filip Gustavsson stopped 31 shots for the 36-30-9 Wild.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: MacKinnon (130 points) remains in second place in the points race.

The Florida Panthers got a 30-save shutout from Sergei Bobrovsky to blank the Ottawa Senators 6-0. Matthew Tkachuk had a goal and two assists and Sam Reinhart tallied his 53rd goal of the season for the Panthers (48-24-5) as they sit seventh in the overall standings with 101 points. The Senators dropped to 33-38-4.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers announced before this game that defenseman Aaron Ekblad will likely miss the remainder of the regular season with an undisclosed injury. The club is confident Ekblad will be ready to go for the start of the playoffs.

Nashville Predators winger Filip Forsberg scored two goals and picked up an assist in a 6-3 win over the St. Louis Blues. Juuse Saros made 44 saves for the 44-28-4 Predators, who hold the first Western Conference wildcard spot with 92 points. Brandon Saad, Jake Neighbours and Jordan Kyrou replied for the 40-32-4 Blues.

Rookie Akil Thomas’ first NHL goal was the game-winner as the Los Angeles Kings nipped the San Jose Sharks 2-1. Adrian Kempe scored his 25th of the season for the Kings (40-25-11) as they hold the final Western wildcard with 91 points. Mackenzie Blackwood made 25 saves for the 17-50-8 Sharks.


ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo has reportedly spoken to multiple potential buyers within and outside Arizona to gauge their interest in purchasing the franchise from him.

Meruelo reportedly seeks USD 1 billion for the franchise he purchased in July 2019. He is believed to have recently met with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman regarding the Coyotes’ future.

On Thursday, the club told Arizona Sports that Meruelo and the team are “solely focused on the land auction (for a new arena) and winning the bid. And to keep the Coyotes in Arizona.”

Speaking of the land auction, the date is set for June 27.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Any attempt to sell the team to new owners willing to keep the franchise in Arizona will depend on whether Meruelo and the Coyotes win that land auction. If they fail, relocation is the next step. Whether he’ll get $1 billion for the franchise could depend on the location of the bidders and the size of their fortunes.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers captain Sean Couturier (upper-body injury) will miss the club’s back-to-back games with the Buffalo Sabres on Friday and the Blue Jackets on Saturday.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Speaking of the Flyers, they’re working on a “longer-term contract” for goaltender Ivan Fedotov. The 27-year-old Fedotov can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.


  1. Marchand quite an achievement for and undersized overachiever! His contract at 6.1 AAV is one of the best in the league!

    • Have to think this was leaning on him, he’s a pest especially when he was younger has seem to calm it down, next year is last year of present contract and have to believe he’ll be on 1 year contracts until he’s done playing …where did the years go ?

  2. Coyotes Interest in Gouging Potential Buyers

    This should be the headline!

  3. Just relocate the Coyotes and put an end to this tragedy.

    • They’ll relocate to Atlanta. then, when the team fails again there, they’ll go back to AZ

    • Gary Bettman needs to
      Send them over to Salt Lake City Yesterday its a Complet JOKE!!!

  4. If the NHL maintained a category titled “Ugliest Losses” the Ottawa Senators would lead by a wide margin. Absolutely NO excuse for that type of pathetic “effort.”

    • I feel for you man! They can’t keep the puck out of their own net. What I remember of them when they play Colorado is they give up so many quality chances even when they have been out playing you for stretches. I thought Korpisalo would be a good fit for them because of his athleticism? To me Forsberg is bad. Maybe I am wrong. Definitely thought they are headed in the right direction! Brighter days ahead though, they have some really good talent. Hopefully, they turn it around next year!!

    • Yup. They lack discipline. I genuinely believe the goalie tandem they have would be ok if they played better over all team defense. But it’s just a poop show, Shift to shift you just get no sense of “this is the way we should play”. And you can’t say they didnt’ have their chances. 0 for what…5? on the pp?

      They need a Tortorella.

      On a completely unrelated note. Why couldn’t major league baseball agree to a three year lease with Montreal for the Oakland Athletics? A perfect way to actually gauge and prove Montreal’s fanbase’s interest. Bring some more major league ball back to Canada in a …..”at least serviceable” ballpark.

      • Dark G, to a man they HAD to know Florida – coming off losses to Toronto and Montreal – would be pissed at themselves and would come out hard from the opening face-off.

        Actually, I fully expected this and figured it would be a loss for that very reason. Florida is too good a team to go into lengthy losing streaks. But I also expected a total effort from the Senators – along the lines of how they play against Toronto and Montreal whenever and wherever they meet.

        Last night was just a farce and every one of them should be docked for “failing to appear” in front of a full house at home.

  5. Kucherov’s hit on Guhle was a clear hit from behind. Guhle’s Back was clearly turned and he was facing the boards. Not saying it was suspension worthy but should have been a double minor.

    Jesperi Kotkaniemi was a healthy scratch last night. Not a bad idea to have him sit and watch for a couple of games before the playoffs so he could regain focus. Right now the Canes decision to give him an 8 year deal isn’t looking too good and Bergevins decision to pick him #3 is looking much worse.

    Good to hear that Ekblad will be back for the playoffs. He’ll probably suffer another injury in Game 1. Tough luck for a solid D-man.

    • Howard, today I am an optimist:

      Canes took a bust off of our hands by signing KK.

      It ties cap money down that may ultimately be to the Habs advantage: what if the result is we sign Necas because the ‘Canes can’t afford him?

      Even if we don’t, we are free of a long and sterile cap hit.

      We turned the acquired first round pick for Dvorak (a disappointment), but we also have a 2022 2nd round pick out of the deal. Who knows how that will turn out.

      And then there is the sweet taste of karma …

      • I have no problem with the Habs not matching that ridiculous offer sheet. The problem was drafting him so high in the first place. They could have had Brady Tkachuk. Or Quinn Hughes. But truth be told I was hoping they’d take Zadina and he’s been even worse. It’s an in exact science

  6. Interesting note regarding the Yotes…if I was a billionaire in Utah, Texas and/or Georgia, I would try to land the team now before the land auction (which I wouldn’t be surprised if the current owners won’t win) thus giving them all the rights to justifiably relocate the team to their city of choice.

    It would be a simple way to end this terrible soap opera in the desert

  7. drouin has been a $825k a year bargain for the av’s!

  8. I am not sure the Popsposil check will be a suspension. I think his arm was tucked until after the contact follow through and the feet leaving the ground was plyometrics follow through – most of the contact was to the head area but it looked like Morrissey’s stick took most of the force.

    Pretty sure we are going to see a fine or maybe a short suspension for Kevin Rooney check to head of Lowry, no call on the play.

  9. Muerelo… $1B ??? Not for sny purchaser staying in Arizona

    Huston, Quebec, SLC…. Perhaps

    Great win for Penguins last night

    That said. I’m neither optimistic or pessimistic. I’m pragmatic.

    Per PuckPedia 20% odds of making playoffs. (Note: I realize the odds are based on upcoming opponents; but strange that Penguins are only 2 points behind Flyers with same games played and Penguins 2 games ahead in tie-breaker [reg wins], yet PuckPedia has Flyers at 61 % chance to make playoffs).

    No matter what, Pens need rev wins against Wings and Isles…. Putting them at 85 points; plus whatever they can get from:

    Vs Tampa Bay (Sat); @Toronto (Mon); Vs Bruins (Sat 13th) and Vs Predators (Mon 15th)…. 4 points in those 4 games??? Does 89 points get them in?

    This is crapland for Penguins

    As at this morning; Penguins have about a 5% chance of picking 2nd (no chance at Celebrini) but just shy of 95% chance of handing pick to Sharks

    10 days ago they had 14% chance of picking top 2

    Likely now to finish just out… 17th-19th…. So about 1 % chance of picking 5th(18th) or 6th (17th) and 3% chance at 4th (19th); but closing in on 99% chance of handing 1st round pick to Sharks

    Why couldn’t they have played this way earlier in year… they have 10 or 11 regulation 1 goal losses…. So just 1 more goal for (Penguins) if 1 goal LESS for opponents in any two of those 11 games…. Penguins in 3rd Metro; up 2 points on Flyers

    This dreaded no man’s land is just crappy

    • I think the Pens have a real shot to get in Pengy. Being behind doesn’t help, but none of the teams in front of them are all that either. The easiest picks for the first round will be CAR and NYR to win.

      PHI in freefall and Torts rants to the press after every game about how bad his team is for like a month. How’s that workin’ for ya? Might want to try a different approach for the last couple weeks of the season.

      Doesn’t matter if it’s true or not, tell the truth in the room. Perhaps take it on the chin yourself in front of the camera, just once, and try to show you have your teams back publicly. Or keep repeating what isn’t working.

      I get what he is trying to do for the long term. But, you can only beat your team up publicly so many times until folks just start to think your a selfish prick. Including the guys you need to win games.


      • Hi Ray

        Again, I’m not Pengy

        Good points re Torterella. I will never be a fan of his and yes the Flyers are one Torterella super rant away from implosion

        There still are several teams vying for playoffs

        Penguins are battling Caps and Flyers and Ilses for 3rd in Metro; and if unsuccessful at getting that M3rd position; battling the remaining (Caps or Flyers or Ilses) AND Wings for the 2nd WC spot

        5 teams, 2 spots

        I’d love them to get in; but if they don’t get in; I’d rather have a top ten pick than hand a 13th to 16th overall to Sharks; and then wait and hope for a top 10 in ‘25

        About 2 weeks ago, Penguins were in the 24th-26th spot…. Giving them 10%-13% chance of a top 3 pick; AND 100% guarantee of picking top 10

        Right now (per listed draft odds):

        5.1 % chance of picking 2nd
        0.1 % chance if picking 3rd
        0.1 % chance of picking 4th

        94.7 % chance of handing Sharks the 12th-14th OA pick

        Why did they wait so long for this push?

      • Why did they wait so long for a push? I dunno, maybe they just needed to get rid of that Guentzel guy!

        Or, once the drama is over with the TDL, they looked at what they had in the room, some proud veterans and one of the all time greats, and are relaxed and giving it a go. WTF, might as well, nothing to lose. I would rather see them make it than the Isles, Caps or Flyers. A team like the Caps with a negative 30 something goal differential shouldn’t be in the playoffs.

        Plus good to see Crosby get in again.

    • hey Pengy,

      Your Pens have a slight chance of wadling in but they are Chasing the NYI

      Wings & Caps look like they are sliding out
      if they play Boston or NYR they are Out in 4….⁉️