NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 6, 2021
Recaps of Monday’s action, stars of the week, concern over growing COVID numbers on Canucks, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Auston Matthews scored twice and John Tavares picked up his 800th career points as the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Calgary Flames 5-3. Matthews has a league-leading 27 goals on the season as the Leafs sit atop the Scotia North Division with 55 points. Leafs goalie Jack Campbell extended his record to 9-0-0. Mikael Backlund scored two goals for the sputtering Flames, who’ve dropped eight of their last nine and sit sixth in the division with 35 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stick a fork in the Flames, folks, they’re done. They’re eight points out of a playoff spot in the North and show no sign of reversing their death spiral in the standings.
Eric Staal’s first goal with the Montreal Canadiens was an overtime winner in a 3-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. Staal made his debut over a week after being acquired from the Buffalo Sabres. It was a costly win for the Habs as winger Brendan Gallagher could be sidelined for weeks with a fractured thumb. With 43 points, the Canadiens sit five points behind the third-place Oilers in the North.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The feisty Gallagher will be difficult to replace. The Habs are pressed against the salary cap. If Gallagher’s out until the playoffs perhaps GM Marc Bergevin will place him on long-term injury reserve. It would free up $3.75 million to put toward pursuing a forward or defenseman before the April 12 trade deadline.
The Winnipeg Jets survived a late push by the Ottawa Senators for a 4-3 victory. Pierre-Luc Dubois tallied twice for the Jets (49 points), who sit one point up on the Oilers for second place in the North Division.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This game wasn’t as close as the score suggests. The Jets dominated the Senators, outshooting them 46-23.
A four-goal second period enabled the Colorado Avalanche to hold off the Minnesota Wild by a score of 5-4. Nathan MacKinnon and Andre Burakovsky each had a goal and an assist for the Avalanche, extending their points streak to 15 games and sitting in first place in the Honda West Division with 56 points. Ryan Hartman had a goal and two assists for the Wild. With 48 points, they are third in the West.
The Vegas Golden Knights picked up their first win in four games by downing the St. Louis Blues 6-1. Alec Martinez scored twice and Alex Pietrangelo picked up an assist in his first game in St. Louis since the former Blues captain signed with Vegas in the offseason. The Golden Knights are second in the West with 52 points while the struggling Blues are sixth with 38 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Two years after winning the Stanley Cup and a year after finishing with the best record in the Western Conference, the Blues are in serious danger of missing the playoffs. They’re winless in their last seven (0-6-1), tallying just eight goals in that stretch.
Michael Bunting’s first career NHL hat trick powered the Arizona Coyotes over the Los Angeles Kings 5-2. Adin Hill kicked out 36 shots for his third straight win as the surging Coyotes (43 points) hold a five-point lead over the Blues and San Jose Sharks for fourth in the West.
The Philadelphia Flyers edged the Boston Bruins 3-2 on an overtime goal by Travis Sanheim. The Flyers moved to within three points of the fourth-place Bruins (44 points) in the MassMutual East Division. Bruins goalie Jaroslav Halak missed the game after testing positive for COVID-19.
NHL.COM: New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal, San Jose Sharks goaltender Martin Jones, and Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending April 4, 2021.
The list of Vancouver Canucks on the NHL’s COVID protocol list grew to 17 players as Nils Hoglander tested positive. The league has extended the postponement of Canucks games to April 10.
TSN: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly expressed concern over the Canucks’ COVID numbers but remains confident the team will be able to complete its 56-game schedule.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will depend upon how many more Canucks test positive, the severity of their symptoms, how long they’ll be sidelined, and if this outbreak remains contained to the team. The league has a buffer week of May 10-14 to allow for rescheduled games to be completed.
DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars head coach Rick Bowness remains hopeful his COVID test result on Sunday turns out to be a false positive. He’s fully vaccinated and said he feels fine despite the positive test. If his follow-up test is negative he’ll be unable to rejoin the Stars in time for tonight’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks due to the NHL’s COVID protocols.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins forward Brandon Tanev is listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury.
ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks have sent rookie forward Trevor Zegras to their AHL affiliate in San Diego. The Ducks were pleased with the promising youngster’s play as a winger but want to give him more experience at center. It’s expected he’ll return to the Ducks before the end of the season.
NEW YORK POST: A Minnesota medical examiner ruled the March 3 death of Mark Pavelich a suicide. The former Team USA and NHL forward was receiving treatment at the Eagle’s Healing Nest in Minnesota as part of his civil commitment for assaulting his neighbor in August 2019. He was diagnosed with a mild neurocognitive disorder due to traumatic brain injury, likely related to repeated head injuries.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Once again, my condolences to Pavelich’s friends, family and former teammates.