Bruins beat Leafs, 5-1, advance to Second Round

Depth scoring was ridiculed all season for the Boston Bruins, but the bottom six forwards got the job done in Boston’s, 5-1, win over the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 7 of their 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round matchup.

The Bruins improved to 4-1 in Game 7s against Toronto and have now won the last six consecutive series meetings between the two franchises dating back to 1969.

Maple Leafs head coach, Mike Babcock, fell to 3-7 all-time in Game 7s (0-2 with Toronto), while Boston’s bench boss, Bruce Cassidy, improved to 2-0 in Game 7s (both with the Bruins).

B’s goaltender, Tuukka Rask (4-3-0 record, 2.31 goals against average, .928 save percentage in seven games this postseason) made 32 saves on 33 shots against (.970 SV%) in the win.

Leafs goaltender, Frederik Andersen (3-4-0, 2.75 GAA, ,922 SV% in seven games played this postseason) stopped 27 out of 30 shots faced (.900 SV%) in the loss.

The B’s clinched the series, 4-3, and advance to the Second Round of the postseason for the second year in a row.

Zdeno Chara tied Scott Stevens and Patrick Roy for the most career Game 7 appearances all-time with his 13th on Tuesday. Patrice Bergeron is the next highest on the Bruins with 11 Game 7 appearances.

With Connor Clifton (upper body) and Kevan Miller (lower body) still out of the lineup due to injury, Cassidy made no changes to his lineup from Sunday afternoon to Tuesday night.

Zane McIntyre was recalled from the Providence Bruins (AHL)– while his teammate, Dan Vladar, tends to the crease for Providence in their First Round Calder Cup Playoff matchup with the Charlotte Checkers (AHL)– and served as a healthy scratch on the depth chart for Boston.

McIntyre joined Chris Wagner, Paul Carey, David Backes and Steven Kampfer as the healthy scratches for the home team on Tuesday.

Toronto dominated possession through the first half of the opening period, but Boston was first to get on the scoreboard late in the opening frame.

Joakim Nordstrom (2) followed up on a rebound from point blank and pocketed the puck short side on Andersen and into the twine to give the Bruins the lead, 1-0, after the B’s sustained solid pressure in the offensive zone.

Matt Grzelcyk (4) and Sean Kuraly (1) recorded the assists on Nordstrom’s goal at 14:29 of the first period.

Moments later, Marcus Johansson (1) picked up a loose puck behind the net and wrapped around the frame to fire a shot off the far post and in while Charlie Coyle was screening the Maple Leafs goaltender.

Johansson’s goal was unassisted and gave Boston the two-goal lead, 2-0, at 17:46 of the first period.

The Bruins amassed two goals in a span of 3:17 as they entered the first intermission with the lead on the scoreboard, but trailed Toronto in shots on goal, 12-11.

Toronto also held the advantage in takeaways (2-1) and hits (12-9), while Boston led in blocked shots (6-1), giveaways (6-4) and face-off win percentage (54-46) after one period.

Entering the second period, both teams had yet to see any time on the power play.

Early in the middle frame, Tyler Ennis worked the puck out from deep in the attacking zone and dropped it back to John Tavares, whereby Tavares (2) sniped a wrist shot past Rask from close range to cut the lead in half, 2-1.

Ennis (2) had the only assist on Tavares’ goal at 3:54 of the second period.

Almost midway through the period, Brandon Carlo cross checked Andreas Johnsson and was assessed a minor penalty at 8:22. Toronto did not convert on their first skater advantage of the night.

Through 40 minutes of action, the Bruins led, 2-1, on the scoreboard and the Maple Leafs led, 25-19, in shots on goal– including a, 13-8, advantage in the second period alone.

Heading into the second intermission, Boston led in blocked shots (14-2), giveaways (15-9) and face-off win% (57-44), while Toronto led in takeaways (7-5) and hits (25-15).

The Leafs were 0/1 on the power play after two periods and the B’s had yet to see any action on the skater advantage heading into the third period.

After knocking the puck out of his own zone with his stick, Kuraly (1) slipped through the neutral zone and fired a shot past Andersen from the face-off circles in Boston’s attacking zone to give the Bruins another two-goal lead.

Noel Acciari (1) and Nordstrom (1) tabbed the assists on Kuraly’s goal at 2:40 of the third period and the B’s led, 3-1.

Moments later, Boston’s fourth line was on the ice again, but so was David Pastrnak and the home team’s bench was charged with a minor penalty for too many men at 5:19 of the third period.

Pastrnak served the infraction in the box, while the Maple Leafs went back on the power play for the second time of the night.

Once again, Toronto couldn’t muster anything on the skater advantage.

With a little over three minutes remaining in regulation, Babcock pulled Andersen for an extra attacker. It backfired.

David Krejci worked the puck deep in the offensive zone and over to Coyle (3) for the empty net goal to make it, 4-1, Bruins at 17:26. Boston’s bottom-six forwards had scored four goals in a game after facing scrutiny in the regular season for their lack of depth scoring.

Meanwhile, Krejci (3) notched the only assist on Coyle’s goal.

With about two minutes remaining in the game, Toronto pulled their goaltender again, then shortly thereafter iced the puck and had to pull Andersen all over again about a minute later.

This time, as the final second ticked off the clock, Bergeron (3) had the final say as he so often does for Boston against Toronto with the Bruins’ second empty net goal of the night to clinch the victory, 5-1, at 19:59.

At the final horn, the Leafs had been eliminated and their 15-year streak of failing to advanced past the First Round of the playoffs extended.

Toronto finished Tuesday night leading in shots on goal, 33-32, as well as in hits, 32-26, while the B’s finished off Game 7 leading in blocked shots (17-4) and giveaways (17-13).

Both teams went 50-50 in face-off win% and the Maple Leafs finished the night (0/2) with the only power play opportunities in the game.

The team that scored the first goal in a Game 7 improved to 129-44 (.746) all-time, while Boston also improved to 15-12 overall (14-8 at home) in an NHL record 27 Game 7s.

Toronto fell to 12-12 in franchise history in Game 7s and 5-11 while on the road for the seventh and deciding game in that span.

The Boston Bruins will face the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Second Round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs and have home ice advantage for as long as they remain in Cup contention.

It will be the first time both clubs face each other in the postseason.

Game 1 is Thursday at TD Garden with the rest of the Second Round schedule to be officially announced upon the conclusion of all the First Round matchups.

Bruins force Game 7 with, 4-2, win in Toronto

For the second time in as many years, the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs are going to a Game 7 at TD Garden after the Bruins defeated the Leafs, 4-2, on Sunday afternoon at Scotiabank Arena.

Jake DeBrusk scored the defacto game-winning goal midway through the second period, while Tuukka Rask (3-3-0 record, 2.54 goals against average, .921 save percentage in six games this postseason) made 22 saves on 24 shots against (.917 SV%) in the win for Boston.

Maple Leafs goaltender, Frederik Andersen (3-3-0, 2.70 GAA, .925 SV% in six games this postseason) stopped 37 out of 40 shots faced (.925 SV%) in the loss.

The two franchises are just the third pair in NHL history to require a Game 7 in three consecutive head-to-head postseason matchups (2013 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal, 2018 First Round and 2019 First Round).

Additionally, Bruins captain, Zdeno Chara, is set to take part in his 13th career Game 7 appearance, tying Scott Stevens for the most all-time.

Boston has won the last five postseason series matchups against Toronto. The Maple Leafs last defeated the Bruins in the 1959 Stanley Cup Playoffs Semifinal– yes, back when the league had six economically stable franchises.

Connor Clifton (upper body) and Kevan Miller (lower body) remained out of the lineup due to injury for Game 6, while Bruce Cassidy juggled his bottom-six forwards– inserting Karson Kuhlman on the third line right wing and moving Sean Kuraly to center on the fourth line, with Joakim Nordstrom back in the lineup on the left wing after being a healthy scratch for Game 5.

Noel Acciari slid over to the right wing on the fourth line, with David Backes and Chris Wagner joining Paul Carey, Steven Kampfer and Dan Vladar as the healthy scratches for the Bruins in Game 6.

Early in the first period, Chara sent the puck over the glass and out of play for an automatic delay of game minor penalty at 5:21.

Toronto did not convert on the ensuing power play.

Moments later, after the Maple Leafs kept the puck in the attacking zone on a turnover by the Bruins, Morgan Rielly (1) blasted a shot from the point past Rask as the Boston goaltender was screened by Leafs forward, Connor Brown, at 9:42 of the first period.

William Nylander (2) and Patrick Marleau (2) tallied the assists on Rielly’s first goal of the postseason and Toronto led, 1-0.

Less than a minute later, Tyler Ennis took a trip to the penalty box for holding at 10:25 of the first period.

Almost a minute into the resulting skater advantage for Boston, Patrice Bergeron won a face-off to the right of Andersen and squibbed the puck over to Brad Marchand (3) for the shot on goal that deflected off of Toronto defender, Ron Hainsey, and slid through the five-hole of Andersen.

Bergeron (2) had the only assist on Marchand’s power play goal at 11:23 of the first period and the game was tied, 1-1.

While being brought down in the corner over a minute later, Nordstrom got a stick up high on Travis Dermott and was assessed a high-sticking infraction at 12:37.

The B’s managed to kill off the penalty with ease and resumed even strength action without difficulty.

About a minute after their power play, Toronto found themselves going down a skater thanks to Dermott’s tripping infraction against DeBrusk at 15:36.

Late in the power play, Boston worked the puck around the horn and back across the ice to Torey Krug (1) for the one-timer rocket that beat Andersen for the game’s first lead change.

The Bruins led, 2-1, with David Pastrnak (3) and Marchand (5) earning the assists on Krug’s power play goal at 17:02.

After one period of play, Boston led, 2-1, on the scoreboard and, 14-6, in shots on goal. The B’s also led in hits (13-9) and face-off win percentage (57-44), while the Maple Leafs led in takeaways (4-3) and giveaways (5-4).

Both clubs managed seven blocked shots aside entering the first intermission, while Toronto was 0/2 on the power play and Boston was 2/2 on the skater advantage heading into the middle frame.

Almost midway through the second period, after a hairy couple of minutes in their own zone, the Bruins went back the other way on the attack with DeBrusk sending the puck across to David Krejci for the give-and-go back to DeBrusk (1) for the redirection into the twine.

Krejci (2) and Pastrnak (4) notched the assists on DeBrusk’s goal at 7:57 of the second period and Boston led, 3-1.

Almost a minute later, Charlie Coyle tripped up Frederik Gauthier at 8:47, but the Leafs were not able to capitalize on the ensuing power play opportunity.

Through 40 minutes of play the Bruins led, 3-1, on the scoreboard and outshot the Maple Leafs, 2:1, with a, 30-15, advantage in shots on goal.

Toronto maintained an advantage in blocked shots (17-11) and hits (29-22), while Boston led in face-off win% (58-43). Both teams amassed seven takeaways each and ten giveaways aside.

The Leafs entered the third period 0/3 on the power play, while the B’s were 2/2 on the skater advantage.

After returning to the ice for the final frame of regulation with an extra skip and a jump in their step, the Maple Leafs won a face-off in the offensive zone and worked the puck around to Auston Matthews (5) for the wrist shot goal– off the far post and in– to cut Boston’s lead to one-goal.

Jake Gardiner (2) and Dermott (2) had the assists on Matthews’ goal at 4:15 of the third period and Toronto trailed, 3-2.

Save after save was made all night by both goaltenders, leaving Maple Leafs head coach, Mike Babcock, with no choice but to pull his goaltender for an extra attacker.

Perhaps, though, pulling Andersen with 2:04 remaining in regulation left too much time for those pesky, Big Bad Bruins.

After jumping on a puck in his own zone, Marchand (4) worked it loose and fired away from the neutral zone to pocket the empty net goal to seal the deal on the, 4-2, victory for Boston at 18:06 of the third period.

Chara (1) and Charlie McAvoy (2) tallied the assists on the goal as the B’s assured themselves of a Game 7 on Tuesday.

Andersen vacated the crease once more with about 1:42 to go in the game, but Toronto could not find a way to score two quick goals to tie and force overtime.

At the final horn, the Bruins had won, 4-2, and finished the afternoon leading in shots on goal (41-24) and face-off win% (52-48). The Maple Leafs wrapped up Sunday afternoon with the advantage in blocked shots (19-15), giveaways (19-16) and hits (40-34).

There were no penalties called in the final frame, leaving Toronto 0/3 on the power play for the day and Boston, 2/2, on the skater advantage.

For the third time in their last three series matchups against each other, Boston and Toronto will square off in a decisive Game 7 at TD Garden. Puck drop is expected a little after 7 p.m. on Tuesday and viewers in the United States can catch the action on NBCSN.

Canadian residents can watch the game on CBC, SN or TVAS.

Leafs can advance in Game 6 after, 2-1, win in Boston

For the first time since the 2004 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Toronto Maple Leafs can advance to another round of postseason play after their, 2-1, victory on road ice against the Boston Bruins.

The TD Garden crowd was silenced Friday night after the Leafs took the, 3-2, series lead with them out the “exit” doors.

Frederik Andersen (3-2-0 record, 2.62 goals against average, .925 save percentage in five games played this postseason) made 28 saves on 29 shots against for a .966 SV% in the win for Toronto.

Bruins goaltender, Tuukka Rask (2-3-0, 2.65 GAA, .922 SV% in five games played this postseason) stopped 25 out of 27 shots faced (.926 SV%) in the loss.

Auston Matthews and Kasperi Kapanen had the goals for Toronto, while David Krejci scored the lone goal for the Bruins.

Connor Clifton (upper body) and Kevan Miller (lower body) remain out of the lineup for the Bruins due to injury, while Sean Kuraly (fractured right hand) was back in action for Boston in Game 5 after missing the last 12 games.

Kuraly was placed on the fourth line left wing with Noel Acciari at center and Chris Wagner on the opposite wing.

B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, kept his lines the same otherwise, with Joakim Nordstrom joining Paul Carey, Steven Kampfer, Jakub Zboril, Dan Vladar and Karson Kuhlman as Boston’s healthy scratches on Friday.

The first period started with a heavy defensive presence from both clubs as the players trailed up and down the ice.

Toronto dominated the first half of the period, but missed wide of the net more than a few times before Boston started to kick into gear in the latter end of the opening frame.

Late in the period, Zach Hyman tripped up Charlie McAvoy and sent the Bruins on their first power play of the night at 17:00 of the first period. The B’s did not convert on the resulting skater advantage.

After one period of play, the score was tied, 0-0, while Toronto led in shots on goal, 7-6. The Maple Leafs also led in takeaways (10-5) and face-off win percentage (64-36), while the Bruins led in blocked shots (8-1), giveaways (5-2) and hits (14-11).

Entering the first intermission, the Leafs had yet to see any time on the power play and Boston was 0/1.

Early in the second period, Patrick Marleau hooked Krejci and was assessed a minor penalty at 4:13.

The Bruins didn’t convert on the ensuing power play, but had another chance on the skater advantage when Mitch Marner sent the puck over the glass for the automatic delay of game penalty at 8:24 of the second period.

Once again, Boston failed to capitalize on the power play for the third time of the night.

There was no scoring in the second period, as the second intermission commenced with the score still tied, 0-0.

Through 40 minutes of play, Toronto maintained the advantage in shots on goal (16-15) and takeaways (14-5), while the B’s led in blocked shots (10-2), giveaways (8-4) and face-off win% (57-43).

Both teams had 21 hits aside through two periods, while the Maple Leafs had yet to see any time on the skater advantage.

Boston was 0/3 on the power play entering the third period.

Almost midway through the third period, the Bruins were caught with too many skaters on the ice and Boston was charged with a bench minor. Marcus Johansson served the penalty at 7:14 of the third period.

Despite killing off the infraction, the B’s were caught up behind the pace of play and lagging in the aftereffects of the vulnerable minute.

That’s when Toronto pounced.

Jake Muzzin sent a pass across the ice to Matthews (4) for the one-timer past Rask at 11:33 of the third period to give the Leafs the lead, 1-0.

Muzzin (2) and Kapanen (1) tallied the assists on the game’s first goal.

The Bruins used their coach’s challenge arguing that Hyman had interfered with Rask in the crease prior to the shot on goal, thereby inhibiting Rask’s ability to play the puck and make a save across the crease.

After review, had the call on the ice been reversed, it likely would’ve been the softest goaltender interference call in the history of the coach’s challenge.

Regular season? You might get that one.

In the playoffs? Not a chance. The absolute right call has to be made and it was made.

As a result of losing the challenge, Boston lost their timeout. That would’ve come in handy later…

A little over two minutes later, the Maple Leafs caught the Bruins on a rush the other way and waltzed into the attacking zone with the chance to convert on another one-timer– and convert they did.

Kapanen (1) scored his first goal of the postseason and perhaps the most important goal of the series so far at 13:45 of the third period to give Toronto the two-goal lead.

Andreas Johnsson (3) and Morgan Rielly (4) notched the assists on and the Leafs led, 2-0.

Toronto scored two goals in a span of 2:12 and took a stronghold on the eventual outcome.

With about 2:49 remaining in regulation, the Bruins pulled their goaltender for an extra attacker.

Boston continued to hold onto the puck for too long trying to set up the “perfect” play, but caught a break after entering the zone and setting up Krejci (2) for a one-timer to cut the lead in half and make it a, 2-1, game.

David Pastrnak (2) and Torey Krug (3) were credited with the assists on Krejci’s goal at 19:16 of the third period.

After sending the goal through video review to confirm that the Bruins had not entered the zone offside, Boston pulled Rask again for an extra skater with about 30 seconds left in regulation.

Hyman iced the puck for the Leads with 13.2 seconds to go.

Boston couldn’t convert.

Toronto iced the puck again with 1.2 seconds remaining.

Boston couldn’t get a next to impossible shot into the back of the twine as time expired.

At the sound of the final horn, Toronto had won, 2-1, and finished the night trailing in shots on goal, 29-27.

The B’s finished Friday night with the advantage in blocked shots (13-9), giveaways (13-5), hits (29-26) and face-off win% (65-36), while both clubs failed to record a power play goal.

Toronto went 0/1 on the skater advantage and Boston went 0/3.

The Maple Leafs enter Game 6 back on home ice at Scotiabank Arena on Sunday with the chance to eliminate the Bruins and punch their ticket to the Second Round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Puck drop is set for 3 p.m. ET and viewers in the United States can tune in on NBC. Canadian residents can catch the action on CBC, SN or TVAS.

DTFR Podcast #154- Sweep City!

Nick, Colby and Pete assess the Philadelphia Flyers’ hiring of Alain Vigneault, the Los Angeles Kings’ hiring of Todd McLellan, where does this leave the Buffalo Sabres in their search for a head coach, as well as some of the good (CBJ and NYI sweep), bad and ugly from the ongoing First Round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts (iTunes), Stitcher and/oron Spotify. Support the show onPatreon.

Bruins hold on for, 6-4, win in Game 4, tie series, 2-2

Ten combined goals in 60 minutes of action tipped the way of the Boston Bruins, 6-4, over the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 4 of their 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round matchup at Scotiabank Arena on Wednesday.

With the win for the Bruins, the series is now tied, 2-2.

David Pastrnak had a pair of goals Boston, while Auston Matthews matched Pastrnak’s effort and had a pair of goals for Toronto.

Tuukka Rask (2-2-0 record, 2.77 goals against average, .921 save percentage in four games this postseason) made 38 saves on 42 shots against (.905 SV%) in the win for the B’s.

Maple Leafs goaltender, Frederik Andersen (2-2-0, 3.03 GAA, .917 SV% in four games this postseason) stopped 25 out of 30 shots faced (.833 SV%) in the loss.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, re-inserted John Moore and Marcus Johansson into his lineup after Moore (upper body) missed the first three games of the series and Johansson (illness) missed Games 2 and 3.

Cassidy also juggled his lines, starting Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Danton Heinen on the first line and dropped Pastrnak to the second line right wing with Jake DeBrusk at his usual spot at left wing and David Krejci in his usual role as the center.

Johansson suited up on the left side of the third line with Charlie Coyle at center and David Backes on the right wing.

The fourth line trio of Joakim Nordstrom, Noel Acciari and Chris Wagner was left alone, as were the top-four defenders.

On the third defensive pairing, Matt Grzelcyk was partnered with Moore in Moore’s first game back from injury.

As a result of the returning players to Boston’s lineup, forward Karson Kuhlman and defender Steven Kampfer joined Paul Carey, Jakub Zboril and Dan Vladar as the healthy scratches for the Bruins, while Sean Kuraly (fractured right hand), Connor Clifton (upper body) and Kevan Miller (lower body) remained out of the action.

Early in the action, Connor Brown held Nordstrom and was assessed a minor infraction at 1:08 of the first period.

Late on the ensuing power play, the B’s sent the puck around the horn as Charlie McAvoy (1) snuck into the slot to receive a pass and one-timed a shot past Andersen to give the Bruins the lead, 1-0.

Coyle (1) and Grzelcyk (3) tallied the assists on McAvoy’s power play goal at 3:03 of the first period.

Moments later, Marchand (2) capitalized on the momentum swing as Boston again maintained tremendous pressure in the offensive zone, yielding the two-goal lead from Marchand.

McAvoy (1) and Heinen (2) notched the assists on the goal that made it, 2-0, for the Bruins at 6:38 of the first period as the B’s pocketed a pair of goals in a span of 3:35.

Midway through the opening frame, Bergeron tied up Mitch Marner and was penalized for interference at 13:29.

Boston managed to kill off their first shorthanded bid of the evening, but was not as successful in the vulnerable minute after McAvoy was also penalized for interference at 15:44.

Just 11 seconds after making the kill on McAvoy’s minor infraction, the Bruins failed to clear the zone and the Maple Leafs pounced.

Morgan Rielly fired a shot from the point that Zach Hyman (1) tipped past Rask and cut the lead in half, 2-1, as Toronto got on the scoreboard for the first time of the night at 17:55 of the first period.

Rielly (2) and John Tavares (3) were credited with the assists on Hyman’s first goal of the postseason.

Entering the first intermission, Boston led on the scoreboard, 2-1, and in shots on goal, 14-12.

The Bruins also held the advantage in blocked shots (6-5), while the Maple Leafs led in takeaways (3-1), giveaways (4-3), hits (15-13) and face-off win percentage (53-47).

Heading into the second period, Toronto was 0/2 on the power play and Boston was 1/1 on the skater advantage.

Despite trailing by a goal at the end of the first period, Toronto emerged rejuvenated for the second period with a stretch pass off the boards that yielded a break-in for Matthews about a minute into the middle frame.

Matthews (2) scored as the Bruins bungled a line change and tied the game, 2-2, at 1:07 of the second period.

Andreas Johnsson (2) and Ron Hainsey (1) collected the primary and secondary assists, respectively, on the goal as the Leafs surged.

A couple minutes later, Marchand entered the attacking zone for Boston with Pastrnak (1) speeding to the net to redirect the pass in front of the crease past Andersen– reminiscent of the days of Mark Recchi scoring grungy goals in an NHL rink– to give the Bruins the lead once again, 3-2, at 3:16 of the second period.

The game was tied for a span of 2:09 before Boston pulled back into the lead.

A little over a minute later, Matthews caught McAvoy with a high-stick in front of the Bruins net and was penalized at 4:37, yielding a Boston power play for the second time of the night.

Less than 20 seconds into the resulting power play, Marchand worked a pass through the low slot for the one-timer goal from Pastrnak (2) as No. 88 for the black-and-gold acted as a bumper and gave Boston a two-goal lead, 4-2, at 4:51 of the second period.

Marchand (4) had the only assist on the goal and collected the primary assist on back-to-back goals from Pastrnak for his third point of the game.

Through 40 minutes of play, Boston led, 4-2, on the scoreboard.

Toronto held the advantage in shots on goal (26-22) after two periods– including a, 14-8, advantage in the second period alone. The Maple Leafs also led in takeaways (6-2) and hits (30-24), while the Bruins led in blocked shots (20-8) and face-off win% (54-46) entering the second intermission.

Both clubs had nine giveaways each as the Leafs were 0/2 and the B’s were 2/2 on the power play heading into the third period.

Early in the third period, after keeping the puck in the zone, Zdeno Chara (1) rocketed a shot from the point that beat Andersen as Bergeron screened the Maple Leafs goaltender.

Chara’s goal was unassisted at 5:39 of the third period and gave the Bruins a three-goal lead, 5-2.

With the goal, Chara (42 years, 30 days), became the second-oldest defender in NHL history to score a goal in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, trailing Chris Chelios (45 years, 86 days) for the record.

Midway through the period, McAvoy’s stick rode up Hyman’s shaft and caught the Maple Leafs forward in the face, yielding a high-sticking infraction and presenting Toronto with their third power play of the night at 11:42.

Ten seconds into the ensuing skater advantage, after working the puck around the zone, Marner floated the puck through the low slot for the redirection from Matthews (3) past Rask for the power play goal and Matthews’ second goal of the game.

Marner (2) and Rielly (3) tallied the assists as the Leafs pulled to within two-goals, 5-3, at 11:52 of the third period.

With momentum on their side, Travis Dermott (1) unloaded a shot from the point past the Bruins goaltender to make it a one-goal game at 13:27.

Jake Gardiner (1) and Brown (1) notched the assists as Boston’s lead was cut to one, 5-4, after Toronto scored a pair of goals in a span of 1:35.

Maple Leafs head coach, Mike Babcock, pulled his goaltender for the extra attacker with 1:55 remaining in regulation.

Despite every last effort by the Leafs, Boston held the line and mustered the puck out of the zone, including the final drive initiated by Krejci up to Nordstrom (1) for the empty net goal at 19:58 of the third period to put the game away, 6-4, on the road.

Krejci (1) had the only assist on the goal– Nordstrom’s first career Stanley Cup Playoff goal.

At the final horn, the Bruins had secured the victory, despite trailing in shots on goal, 42-31.

Boston finished the night leading in blocked shots (25-12) and face-off win% (59-41), while Toronto led in giveaways (14-13) and hits (37-35).

The Maple Leafs finished 1/3 on the power play on Wednesday and the B’s finished 2/2 on the skater advantage.

With his ninth and tenth career postseason goals in 22 career Stanley Cup Playoff games (all with Boston), Pastrnak trails only Gregg Sheppard (14 games), Barry Pederson (15 games) and Derek Sanderson (19 games) for the fastest to reach 10 career postseason goals.

The two clubs square off in Game 5 at TD Garden in Boston on Friday night with the series tied, 2-2. Viewers in the United States can tune in for puck drop at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN, while Canadian fans can catch the action on CBC, SN, or TVAS.

Maple Leafs edge out Bruins, 3-2, in Game 3

Some nights it’s a 60-minute effort. Other nights all of the scoring occurs in the second period, en route to a, 3-2, victory by the Toronto Maple Leafs over the Boston Bruins at Scotiabank Arena in Game 3 of their 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round matchup.

Oh and Toronto still produced a 60-minute effort.

Frederik Andersen (2-1-0 record, 2.33 goals against average, .947 save percentage in three games played this postseason) made 34 saves on 36 shots faced (.944 SV%) in the win for Toronto.

Bruins goaltender, Tuukka Rask (1-2-0, 2.36 GAA, .928 SV% in three games played this postseason) stopped 31 out of 34 shots faced (.912 SV%) in the loss.

The Maple Leafs hold a, 2-1, series lead for the third time in the last 15 years. Toronto led the Ottawa Senators, 2-1, in the 2004 Eastern Conference Quaterfinals and the Washington Capitals, 2-1, in the 2017 First Round.

After winning, 4-1, in Game 2 at TD Garden on Saturday, the Bruins tied the series, 1-1. Charlie Coyle, Brad Marchand, Danton Heinen and Patrice Bergeron had goals for Boston in Saturday night’s win.

Toronto’s Nazem Kadri scored the only goal for the Leafs in Game 2, but was suspended for the remainder of the First Round for cross-checking Jake DeBrusk in the head.

Heading into Game 3 on Monday, Bruce Cassidy indicated Torey Krug and DeBrusk would be good to go in Toronto (despite both players looking as though they would need to remain in concussion protocol– Krug left Saturday night’s action and DeBrusk looked “off” according to most beat reporters after the game).

Steven Kampfer was inserted on the third defensive pairing with Connor Clifton (upper body) out of commission for Monday night as a result of an injury sustained in Game 2.

As a result, Kampfer made his Stanley Cup Playoff debut for the first time after spending parts of seven seasons in the NHL. Originally drafted 93rd overall in the 2007 NHL Draft by the Anaheim Ducks, Kampfer was previously acquired by the Bruins and made his NHL debut in the 2010-11 season.

After suiting up in 10 games for Boston in 2011-12, he was traded to the Minnesota Wild where he went on to play in 13 games before resurfacing at the NHL level with the Florida Panthers in the 2014-15 season.

In 2016-17, Kampfer was traded from the Panthers to the New York Rangers, where he spent time as a depth defender until Sept. 11, 2018, when he was reacquired by the B’s in the Adam McQuaid trade.

The 30-year-old blue liner has 13-19–32 totals in 201 career regular season games in the NHL.

Joining Clifton in the press box at Scotiabank Arena on Monday were John Moore (upper body), Sean Kuraly (fractured right hand) and Dan Vladar (healthy scratch).

Moore participated in morning skate in a full-contact jersey, but was not ready to return to game action.

Kevan Miller (upper body) and Marcus Johansson (illness) did not travel with the club for Game 3, but Johansson may return for Game 4 and should likely join the team by Wednesday.

Cassidy kept Marchand, Bergeron and David Pastrnak as his first line with DeBrusk, David Krejci and Karson Kuhlman filling out the remainder of his top-six forwards.

With Johansson still out of the lineup, Heinen suited up to the left of Coyle with David Backes on the right wing of the third line and Joakim Nordstrom, Noel Acciari and Chris Wagner comprising of the fourth line trio.

On defense, Zdeno Chara remained paired with Charlie McAvoy, while Krug and Brandon Carlo filled out the top-four blue liners.

Matt Grzelcyk played alongside Kampfer on the third pairing.

Late in the first period, Ron Hainsey was penalized for interference at 16:36, resulting in the first power play of the game for Boston.

The Bruins did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage and took a penalty of their own at 19:21 of the first period, as McAvoy was assessed a holding the stick infraction against Frederik Gauthier.

Toronto failed to capitalize on their first power play opportunity.

Entering the first intermission, the score remained tied, 0-0, as Boston led in shots on goal, 15-10.

The B’s also held the advantage in blocked shots (8-4), takeaways (2-1) and giveaways (4-2), while the Maple Leafs led in hits (19-16) and face-off win percentage (56-44).

Both clubs were 0/1 on the power play heading into the second period.

Early in the middle frame, the Leafs fired a shot on goal that squeaked through Rask and was left sitting in the crease behind the Boston goaltender, while Krug was out of position on defense.

Trevor Moore (1) pounced on the loose puck and picked up his first career Stanley Cup Playoff goal to give Toronto the lead, 1-0, at 2:38 of the second period.

Morgan Rielly (1) and Tyler Ennis (1) tabbed the assists on the goal.

Despite allowing the game’s first goal, the Bruins rallied and tied the game 52 seconds later after working the puck down low, then back into the slot for DeBrusk to keep the play alive and generate a rebound.

Upon finding the puck in the low slot, Krejci (1) pocketed it into the twine at 3:30 of the second period.

DeBrusk (1) and Kuhlman (1) had the assists on the goal and the game was tied, 1-1. With the secondary assist on the goal, Kuhlman picked up the first career point in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Shortly thereafter, while attempting to clearJohn Tavares from the slot, McAvoy checked the Maple Leafs forward into his own goaltender– leaving Rask slow to get up, but the Bruins netminder did not come out of the game.

Right at the midpoint of the period, Backes caught Kasperi Kapanen with a high-stick and served a two-minute minor in the penalty box at 10:00 of the second period.

Toronto’s ensuing power play only needed 12 seconds to convert on the skater advantage as the Maple Leafs won the ensuing offensive zone face-off, sent the puck around the boards and quickly back through the slot from Andreas Johnsson to Auston Matthews (1) for the power play goal.

Johnsson (1) and Mitch Marner (1) were credited with the assists on the goal at 10:12 and the Leafs led, 2-1.

Moments later, Grzelcyk cut a rut to the sin bin for hooking Patrick Marleau at 15:59.

Late on the resulting power play, Johnsson (1) sent a backhanded shot over Rask’s glove side after sneaking in on a loose puck while Kampfer left his post as the sole defender responsible for the front of Boston’s net while his partner was off fighting for the puck in the corner.

Johnsson’s power play goal made it, 3-1, Toronto at 17:12 and was assisted by Tavares (2) and Matthews (1).

Less than a minute later, Jake Muzzin was penalized for holding Heinen at 17:45 and the Bruins went on the power play.

Boston was sure to convert on the resulting skater advantage, thanks to Coyle’s (2) effort on a rebound– with Andersen down and out of position– in the lot slot to cut the Maple Leafs lead to one-goal.

Heinen (1) and Grzelcyk (2) notched the assists on Coyle’s power play goal– his second goal in two games– at 19:22 of the second period.

Toronto led, 3-2, entering the second intermission as both teams were even in shots on goal, 26-26.

The Maple Leafs held the advantage in shots on goal in the second period alone (16-11), as well as the lead in hits (34-27) and face-off win% (60-40) through two periods of action.

After 40 minutes of play, Boston led in blocked shots (10-6) and giveaways (6-5), while both teams had three takeaways aside.

The Leafs were 2/3 on the power play and the B’s were 1/2 on the skater advantage heading into the final frame of regulation.

There were no goals scored in the third period, but Nikita Zaitsev sent the puck over the glass and out of play for an automatic delay of game penalty at 5:01.

Boston did not convert on the ensuing power play.

With about 90 seconds remaining in regulation, Cassidy pulled his goaltender for the extra attacker and even used his only timeout after a stoppage with 65 seconds remaining on the clock.

The Bruins were not able to utilize their skater advantage and tie the game as Toronto ate up every chance Boston put forward and time expired in the action.

At the sound of the final horn on Monday, the Maple Leafs had won, 3-2, and finished the night leading in blocked shots (16-14), hits (42-33) and face-off win% (56-44). Toronto went 2/3 on the power play.

Across the sheet of ice at Scotiabank Arena, the Bruins wrapped up Monday night’s action leading in shots on goal (36-34) and giveaways (14-11) and finished 1/3 on the power play.

Toronto leads the series, 2-1, heading into Game 4 at home on Wednesday, while Boston fell to 0-2-0 when trailing after two periods this postseason.

Puck drop on Wednesday is scheduled for a little after 7:00 p.m. ET and viewers in the United States can tune into the action on NBCSN, while Canadian viewers can tune to CBC or TVAS.

DTFR Podcast #153- Solo Cup Picks

Nick reacts to coaching changes, the draft lottery and the First Round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs already in progress while providing an update.

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts (iTunes)Stitcher and/or on Spotify. Support the show onPatreon.

Maple Leafs jump out to, 1-0, series lead in Boston

Mitch Marner had a pair of goals in the Toronto Maple Leafs’, 4-1, victory over the Boston Bruins at TD Garden in Game 1 of their 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round matchup on Thursday.

Frederik Andersen (1-0-0 record, 1.00 goals against average, .974 save percentage in one game played this postseason) made 37 saves on 38 shots against in the win for Maple Leafs.

Bruins goaltender, Tuukka Rask (0-1-0, 3.05 GAA, .906 SV% in one GP this postseason) stopped 29 out of 32 shots faced in the loss.

Toronto leads the series, 1-0, and is 1-0 this postseason, while Boston is 0-1.

The two clubs are meeting in the playoffs for the 3rd time since 2013, Bruins prevailing in seven games in 2013 and 2018 over the Leafs.

Boston re-assigned Anton Blidh, Trent Frederic, Jeremy Lauzon and Zach Senyshyn to the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Sunday ahead of their 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round matchup after utilizing the group of forwards to rest their veteran players for the series against the Leafs.

Sean Kuraly (fractured right hand) and John Moore (upper body) remain day-to-day, but continue to skate on their own after practice. Kevan Miller (lower body) remains unavailable and inactive.

Bruce Cassidy revealed his lines for the B’s ahead of Thursday’s game, leaving Karson Kuhlman on the second line right wing with Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci, while moving Danton Heinen to the third line with Marcus Johansson and Charlie Coyle.

Cassidy also kept Joakim Nordstrom, Noel Acciari and Chris Wagner together on his fourth line, while scratching David Backes.

On defense, with Miller and Moore out of the lineup, Cassidy inserted Connor Clifton on the right side of the third pair with Matt Grzelcyk.

Steven Kampfer was the only defender that was a healthy scratch for the B’s.

Midway through the opening frame, William Nylander caught Clifton with a high-stick and was assessed a two-minute minor penalty at 8:55 of the first period.

Less than a minute into the ensuing power play, Boston worked the puck around the offensive zone as Brad Marchand connected with Patrice Bergeron (1) to give the Bruins the lead, 1-0, at 9:31 of the first period.

Marchand (1) and Torey Krug (1) collected the assists on Bergeron’s power play goal as Marchand faked a shot and slid a pass across the ice to a wide-open Bergeron, forcing Andersen to play catch up.

With the goal, the current longest-tenured alternate captain in the NHL (Bergeron) now has four goals and eight assists (12 points) in his last eight playoff games against Toronto.

Late in the period, Marner (1) tied the game, 1-1, as the Maple Leafs pounced on an erratic face-off in the attacking zone, first tipping the puck off the near post, then banking it off a body in front of the Bruins net and into the twine.

Jake Muzzin (1) and John Tavares (1) were credited with the primary and secondary assists, respectively, at 16:44.

After 20 minutes of play, the score was tied, 1-1, with the Maple Leafs leading in shots on goal (10-8), as well as takeaways (7-5), giveaways (6-5), hits (17-14) and face-off win percentage (58-42).

Boston led in blocked shots (4-2) and was 1/1 on the power play entering the first intermission. Toronto had yet to see any time on the skater advantage heading into the second period.

Early in the middle frame, Kasperi Kapanen caught DeBrusk with a high-stick and took a trip to the penalty box with a minor penalty at 2:16 of the second period.

The B’s failed to convert on the resulting skater advantage and allowed a shorthanded breakaway that nearly resulted in a goal for Marner.

Instead, DeBrusk tripped Marner as the Leafs winger reached the crease and rewarded Marner with a penalty shot at 2:47.

Marner (2) scored his second goal of the game– a shorthanded penalty shot goal– after getting Rask to commit to the poke check, pulling the puck around the Boston netminder and pocketing it into the mostly open twine.

No. 16 in blue-and-white became just the 5th player in NHL history to score a shorthanded penalty shot goal in the playoffs and the first Toronto player to convert on the penalty shot since Mats Sundin did so against the Buffalo Sabres in Game 4 of the 1999 Eastern Conference Final on May 29, 1999.

Late in the period, Nylander (1) scored off the paddle of Rask’s stick and through the Bruins goaltender’s five-hole after receiving a stretch pass from Nazem Kadri and breaking into the zone all alone.

Kadri (1) and Patrick Marleau (1) notched the assists on Nylander’s goal and the Maple Leafs led, 3-1, at 18:25.

Through two periods of play, Toronto led, 3-1, on the scoreboard and in blocked shots (8-7), takeaways (12-6), giveaways (9-5) and hits (25-21).

Boston led in shots on goal (29-24– including a, 21-14, advantage in the second period alone) and face-off win% (52-48) entering the third period.

The B’s were also 1/2 on the power play after 40 minutes of action.

Midway through the final frame, Zdeno Chara was penalized for interference against Marleau to the displeasure of the Boston crowd– despite the obvious infraction– at 11:45 of the third period.

Toronto did not convert on their only power play opportunity of the night.

With 2:37 remaining in regulation, Cassidy pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker. About a minute later, after a stoppage in play, Cassidy used his timeout to draw up a plan to score at least one goal and cut into Toronto’s two-goal lead.

Things didn’t go as planned for the Bruins.

After winning a face-off in the neutral zone, Boston bungled a pass that was quickly intercepted by Tavares (1) as the Leafs center went on to bury the puck in the empty goal frame, icing the win, 4-1, for Toronto at 18:41 of the third period.

Tavares’ first postseason goal as a Maple Leaf was unassisted.

At the final horn, Toronto took the, 1-0, series lead with a, 4-1, victory on road ice, despite finishing the night trailing in shots on goal, 38-33.

The Maple Leafs finished Thursday night leading in blocked shots (14-11), giveaways (12-7) and hits (33-31), while both teams were 50-50 in face-off win%.

Boston went 1/2 on the power play and Toronto went 0/1 on the skater advantage.

In their four regular season meetings, the team that scored the game’s first goal went on to win all four games. On Thursday, the team that scored the game’s first goal lost.

Welcome to the postseason. It’s a whole new [hockey] game.

Game 2 is Saturday night at TD Garden with puck drop expected shortly after 8 p.m. ET. Viewers can tune into NBC, CBC or TVAS.

2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round Preview: Western Conference

In continuation with Monday’s Eastern Conference preview, here’s the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round preview many of you have been waiting for.

In the past, Down the Frozen River has covered every game of every series. This year, DtFR is changing things up a bit with a preview of every round and continued excellence in analysis on the DTFR Podcast as well as some Instagram Live sporadic thoughts throughout the playoffs.

P1 Calgary Flames (50-25-7, 107 points) vs WWC2 Colorado Avalanche (38-30-14, 90 points)

The Calgary Flames reached the 50-win plateau for the first time since the 1988-89 season (and just the second time in franchise history). For those of you who might be younger than 30-years-old, that’s also the last time the Flames won the Stanley Cup.

Yes, the Flames won a Cup. Also, it’s been 15 years since Calgary’s appearance in the 2004 Stanley Cup Final or as it’s known to Johnny Gaudreau, “ten years before [his] birth.”

Only kidding.

Scotiabank Saddledome is ready to rock again as the Flames are fiery hot this season. So hot, they’re going to wear their throwback sweaters at home to rekindle the 1989 Cup run flame that burns deep inside the heart and soul of the C of Red.

Anyway, puns aside, Calgary is good. Very good.

Head coach, Bill Peters, has gotten the most out of his goaltenders, Mike Smith (23-16-2 record, 2.73 goals against average, .898 save percentage in 42 games played) and David Rittich (27-9-5, 2.61 GAA, .911 SV% in 45 GP), as they’ve racked up the wins.

Led by Gaudreau (36-63–99 totals in 82 games played), Sean Monahan (34-48–82 totals in 78 GP), Elias Lindholm (78 points), Matt Tkachuk (77 points) and potential 2018-19 Norris Trophy finalist, Mark Giordano (74 points), the Flames rose to the top and stayed there, laying claim to home ice all the way through the Western Conference Final– if not Stanley Cup Final, should the Tampa Bay Lightning be eliminated prior to then.

For Jared Bednar and the Colorado Avalanche, the Avs head coach rode the rollercoaster of injuries, out-of-this-world performances and pedestrian play as Colorado reached the top of the Central Division, fell to 6th place and resurfaced to playoff contention, snagging the 2nd wild card spot in the Western Conference.

Nathan MacKinnon finished one-point shy of the 100-point plateau with 41 goals and 58 assists (99 points) in 82 games this season, centering captain, Gabriel Landeskog (34-41–75 totals in 73 GP), and Mikko Rantanen (31-56–78 totals in 74 GP) on one of the best lines in hockey throughout the year.

Rantanen, of course, has been out of commission since March 22nd with an upper body injury, and remains a question mark for Game 1 against Calgary.

Back to MacKinnon for a moment, the 23-year-old sensation became the third 40-goal scorer since the Quebec Nordiques relocated to Colorado, joining current General Manager, Joe Sakic, and Milan Hejduk as the only players to do so.

Tyson Barrie led the Avs defenders with 59 points from the blue line.

In net, Semyon Varlamov (20-19-9, 2.87 GAA, .909 SV% in 49 GP) stole most of the games this season from Philipp Grubauer (18-9-5, 2.64 GAA, .917 SV% in 37 GP), who– despite getting off to a slow start– has really turned his play around as of late, notching three wins in his last five appearances.

Calgary swept the season series, 3-0-0, but the Avalanche kept every game close.

Both teams have hot hands and solid defenses, but there’s one common theme for each club– goaltending. Who’s going to get the starts? Who will rise above? And who’s going to flounder in the First Round?

Because of this, Calgary will likely get stretched to taking the series in six games, with or without a return of Rantanen to Colorado’s lineup.

Regular season outcomes:

5-3 CGY at Scotiabank Saddledome on Jan. 9th, 6-5 CGY at Scotiabank Saddledome on Nov. 1st, 3-2 F/OT CGY at Pepsi Center on Oct. 13th

Schedule:

4/11- Game 1 COL @ CGY 10 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS

4/13- Game 2 COL @ CGY 10:30 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS

4/15- Game 3 CGY @ COL 10 PM ET on CNBC, CBC, TVAS2

4/17- Game 4 CGY @ COL 10 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, TVAS

4/19- Game 5 COL @ CGY*

4/21- Game 6 CGY @ COL*

4/23- Game 7 COL @ CGY*

*If necessary

P2 San Jose Sharks (46-27-9, 101 points) vs P3 Vegas Golden Knights (43-32-7, 93 points)

The San Jose Sharks quietly lurked the waters working their way diligently to 2nd place in the Pacific Division this season after acquiring Erik Karlsson from the Ottawa Senators and not destroying teams out of the gate as everyone expected.

Still, San Jose was led by Brent Burns (83 points) in what was yet another Norris Trophy worthy performance this season. The Sharks leading scorer among forwards was 25-year-old Tomas Hertl (35-39–74 totals in 77 GP), while Logan Couture (27-43–70 totals in 81 GP) continued to be a presence in the lineup.

There’s no question surrounding San Jose’s explosive offense and their world class defense. Rather, the Sharks goaltending seems to be the club’s only weakness.

Martin Jones (36-19-5, 2.94 GAA, .896 SV% in 62 GP) posted career-worsts in goals against average and save percentage, while backup goaltender, Aaron Dell (10-8-4, 3.17 GAA, .886 SV% in 25 GP) didn’t look so hot either.

For the Vegas Golden Knights, a slow start and a lot of injuries almost decimated their inaugural season success, but in true Golden Knights fashion, the comeback got rolling and Vegas stormed into a divisional spot for the postseason.

Granted, it doesn’t come with home ice, but still.

Vegas didn’t have a 40-goal scorer like last season, but Jonathan Marchessault still led the way with 59 points (25 goals, 34 assists), while his teammate, William Karlsson amassed 24-32–56 totals in 82 GP.

Reilly Smith put up 53 points in a “down” season, but Alex Tuch (20-32–52 totals) had a breakout year, so everything evens out in the end.

In the crease, Marc-Andre Fleury (35-21-5, 2.51 GAA, .913 SV% in 61 GP) remained in control of the Golden Knights starting job, but fell victim to the increased scoring around the league– notching his worst GAA and SV% in a season where he was the starting goaltender since his 2.65 GAA and .905 SV% in 67 games played with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009-10.

For Malcolm Subban (8-10-2, 2.93 GAA, .902 SV% in 21 GP) it was a season to forget for the backup goalie. The sophomore slump is real.

The Sharks lost to the Golden Knights in the Second Round last year and it’s not hard to imagine Vegas pulling out another improbable postseason run.

But this time around feels different.

San Jose split the season series, 2-2-0, but was outscored by Vegas, 18-10, in that span. Though the Sharks should be able to batten down the hatches and outlast the Golden Knights in what’s sure to be quite the entertaining matchup in the First Round, there’s no way it won’t go seven games.

Regular season outcomes:

4-3 F/OT SJS at SAP Center on March 30th, 7-3 VGK at SAP Center on March 18th, 3-2 SJS at T-Mobile Arena on Jan. 10th, 6-0 VGK at T-Mobile Arena on Nov. 24th

Schedule:

4/10- Game 1 VGK @ SJS 10:30 PM ET on NBCSN, SN, TVAS2

4/12- Game 2 VGK @ SJS 10:30 PM ET on NBCSN, SN360, TVAS2

4/14- Game 3 SJS @ VGK 10 PM ET on NBCSN, SN, SN360, TVAS

4/16- Game 4 SJS @ VGK 10:30 PM ET on NBCSN, SN360, TVAS2

4/18- Game 5 VGK @ SJS*

4/21- Game 6 SJS @ VGK*

4/23- Game 7 VGK @ SJS*

*If necessary

C1 Nashville Predators (47-29-6, 100 points) vs WWC1 Dallas Stars (43-32-7, 93 points)

A year removed from winning the President’s Trophy, the Nashville Predators entered the final day of the regular season with the chance to grab the 1st seed in the Central Division. The Preds did just that, of course, and will promptly hold a banner ceremony worthy of AFC Finalists.

It’s fine for the local fan base to take pride in their team. It’s also fine for others in the league to poke a little fun at other organization’s unique quirks.

For Nashville, it’s catfish (see, this classic moment from Puck Soup animated— fair warning, language) and banners (see, “Regular Season Western Conference Champions 2017-18”).

Anyway, real talk, the Preds are a legitimate team.

Their defense is still a colossal stronghold with Roman Josi (2nd in points on the roster, 15-41–56 totals in 82 GP), Mattias Ekholm (44 points and a team leading, plus-27 rating), Ryan Ellis and P.K. Subban.

Their offense was led by Ryan Johansen (14-50–64 totals in 80 GP) this season with Filip Forsberg chipping in 50 points and Viktor Arvidsson reaching the 30-goal plateau (he finished with 34).

Their goaltending… oh. Is this when Juuse Saros (17-10-2, 2.62 GAA, .915 SV% in 31 GP) takes over for Pekka Rinne (30-19-4, 2.42 GAA, .918 SV% in 56 GP) as the regular starter?

Oh. Again. Never mind.

While Rinne has had the better year, statistically speaking, his goals against average and save percentage rank 10th and 13th, respectively, among goaltenders who played at least 20 games this season.

In the same respect, there were only eight goaltenders with a goals against average below 2.40.

Saros ranked 21st in GAA (among goalies with 20 GP) and 20th in SV%.

This is only relevant in the head-to-head aspect with the Dallas Stars, which, let’s take a look at their organizational depth this season, shall we?

Dallas’s forwards went from being “f—ing horse—-” to… well, at least Tyler Seguin reached the 80-point plateau this season with 33 goals and 47 assists. Alexander Radulov still had 72 points and Jamie Benn ranked third on the team with 27-26–53 totals.

On the blue line, John Klingberg and Miro Heiskanen made a case for Sergei Zubov to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame and reached 10-35–45 and 12-21–33 totals, respectively as Klingberg continued to emerge as a veteran and Heiskanen made quite an impression in his rookie season.

Not to be outdone, Esa Lindell notched 32 points from the backend this season.

But in the crease, the Stars had two quality stars.

Starting goaltender, Ben Bishop (27-15-2, 1.98 GAA, .934 SV% in 46 GP) put up a career-best season while fighting a lower body injury at times and backup goaltender, Anton Khudobin (16-17-5, 2.57 GAA, .923 SV% in 41 GP) split time with Bishop– taking on more time while the starter was injured– and had almost a mirror image in wins (16) and goals against average from last season.

As long as Bishop (1st in the league in SV% and 2nd in GAA among goaltenders who played at least 20 games) is healthy, yeah, the Stars take home that advantage. Big time.

Nashville has never won the Cup. Dallas won it 20 years ago.

Both franchises have a thirst to quench for their respective markets. Both clubs split the series with two wins and two losses– never winning or losing by more than two goals.

It’s anybody’s guess, but the Stars should upset the Predators in a seven-game stunner.

Regular season outcomes:

5-3 NSH at American Airlines Center on Feb. 19th, 3-2 F/OT NSH at Bridgestone Arena on Feb. 7th, 3-1 DAL at Bridgestone Arena on Feb. 2nd, 2-0 DAL at Bridgestone Arena on Dec. 27th

Schedule:

4/10- Game 1 DAL @ NSH 9:30 PM ET on USA, SN1, TVAS

4/13- Game 2 DAL @ NSH 6 PM ET on CNBC, SN, TVAS2

4/15- Game 3 NSH @ DAL 9:30 PM ET on NBCSN, SN, TVAS

4/17- Game 4 NSH @ DAL 8 PM ET on USA, SN, TVAS2

4/20- Game 5 DAL @ NSH*

4/22- Game 6 NSH @ DAL*

4/24- Game 7 DAL @ NSH*

*If necessary

C2 Winnipeg Jets (47-30-5, 99 points) vs C3 St. Louis Blues (45-28-9, 99 points)

After a surprising run to the Western Conference Final last season, the Winnipeg Jets struggled at times to find scoring from their top-six forwards, as well as the mythical runway that let their goaltending soar beyond expectations.

This season, the Jets had their ups and downs, while coming back to Earth in other areas.

Blake Wheeler (20-71–91 totals) led Winnipeg in scoring and established a franchise record– dating back to their days as the Atlanta Thrashers– for most assists in a season, while Mark Scheifele (84 points) and Kyle Connor (66 points) rounded out the top-three scorers.

Despite a stretch of games without a goal, Patrik Laine still reached the 30-goal plateau and had 50 points on the season in 82 games played.

On defense, Jacob Trouba picked up the slack with 8-42–50 totals from the blue line while Dustin Byfuglien was limited to 42 games and 31 points due to injury.

In goal, Connor Hellebuyck (34-23-3, 2.90 GAA, .913 SV% in 63 GP) posted a career-worst goals against average (2.90) topping his previous worst 2.89 GAA in 2016-17 (56 GP).

Hellebuyck had his 2nd worst save percentage since his .907 SV% in 2016-17 as well.

Laurent Brossoit (13-6-2, 2.52 GAA, .925 SV% in 21 GP) posted decent numbers as a backup goaltender in his first season with the Jets, since joining the organization in free agency last July.

Winnipeg missed a major part of their defense for most of the season in Byfuglien and to some respects, that’s hampered their goaltending as a result. Tending the net is never solely about one person tending the crease, but rather a team keeping the puck out of their own zone.

However, Hellebuyck has shown signs of a “good year, bad year, good year, bad year” pattern in the past and might have just been victim to a bad year– statistically speaking.

The St. Louis Blues missed the playoffs last year, losing the final game of the regular season to the Colorado Avalanche and the last wild card spot in the process.

This year, the Blues redeemed themselves after almost completely embarrassing themselves. St. Louis was last in the Central Division, then they fired Mike Yeo and hired Craig Berube as interim head coach.

Berube began to right the ship, then Jordan Binnington (24-5-1, 1.89 GAA, .927 SV% in 32 GP) came along.

Binnington lifted the Blues to a franchise record 12-game winning streak and established the franchise record for most wins by a rookie goaltender (24)– surpassing the previous mark (22 wins) set by teammate and presumably the backup goaltender in the postseason, Jake Allen (19-17-8, 2.83 GAA, .905 SV% in 46 GP).

Don’t try to mess with what’s working.

Ryan O’Reilly led St. Louis in scoring with 28-49–77 totals in 82 games played. Meanwhile, Vladimir Tarasenko (68 points) and Brayden Schenn (54 points) compiled respectable totals in 76 and 72 games played, respectively.

Captain, Alex Pietrangelo, provided more than just leadership from the defensive zone. He added 13 goals and 28 assists (41 points) from the point to help guide St. Louis to a divisional playoff berth.

For the first time in franchise history, Winnipeg is making consecutive playoff appearances. Though they tied in points (99) in the standings, the Jets had the advantage in the regulation-plus-overtime wins tiebreaker, leading the Blues, 45-42, in that department.

Winnipeg won the season series 3-1-0, but is facing a Blues team that has completely shifted gears in the second half of the season. For that reason alone, it’s not impossible to predict St. Louis will be the series winner in five games as Binnington cements his status as a goaltender in the NHL– if not a Calder Memorial Trophy candidate at least.

Regular season outcomes:

1-0 STL at Bell MTS Place on Dec. 7th, 8-4 WPG at Enterprise Center on Nov. 24th, 5-4 F/OT WPG at Bell MTS Place on Oct. 22nd, 5-1 WPG at Enterprise Center on Oct. 4th

Schedule:

4/10- Game 1 STL @ WPG 8 PM ET on NHL Network, SN, TVAS3

4/12- Game 2 STL @ WPG 9:30 PM ET on CNBC, SN, TVAS

4/14- Game 3 WPG @ STL 7:30 PM ET on CNBC, CBC, SN, TVAS2

4/16- Game 4 WPG @ STL 9:30 PM ET on CNBC, SN, TVAS

4/18- Game 5 STL @ WPG*

4/20- Game 6 WPG @ STL*

4/22- Game 7 STL @ WPG*

*If necessary

2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round Preview: Eastern Conference

*cue Andy Williams*

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

The Stanley Cup Playoffs have returned and all is right with the world (unless your team missed the postseason).

In the past, we here at Down the Frozen River have covered every game of every series.

This year, we’re mixing it up a bit– starting with this preview of every First Round series in the Eastern Conference, continuing with a followup preview of every First Round series in the Western Conference and as much analysis as possible on the DTFR Podcast in addition to the blog.

Ch-ch-ch-changes are inevitable and yours truly cannot cover all 16 teams in the postseason alone.

A1 Tampa Bay Lightning (62-14-6, 128 points) vs EWC2 Columbus Blue Jackets (47-31-4, 98 points)

The Tampa Bay Lightning clinched the President’s Trophy (for the first time in franchise history) by mid-March and finished with the 4th most points in a season in NHL history, while star forward, Nikita Kucherov, amassed 128 points (the most by a Russian born player in a season) and Andrei Vasilevskiy (39-10-4 record, 2.40 goals against average, .925 save percentage in 53 games played) turned in a Vezina Trophy worthy performance in the crease.

Oh yeah and Steven Stamkos had 45 goals.

The Bolts also tied the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings for most wins in a regular season (62).

Backup goaltender, Louis Domingue (21-5-0, 2.88 GAA, .908 SV% in 26 GP) posted respectable numbers as well in the Lightning’s thunderous run through the season.

Tampa has home ice throughout the playoffs and kicks things off with a First Round matchup against the Columbus Blue Jackets, who punched their ticket to the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a, 3-2, shootout victory over the New York Rangers last Friday– eliminating the Montreal Canadiens from postseason contention in the process.

Columbus was all over the Metropolitan Division this season, but went all-in at the trade deadline, adding Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel, Adam McQuaid and Keith Kinkaid for the stretch run.

Duchene and Dzingel quickly fit in to their respective top-nine roles, while McQuaid struggled to find a suitor on the blue line at first in his return to the organization that originally drafted him 55th overall in the 2005 NHL Draft before he was traded to the Boston Bruins and broke into the league with the B’s in 2009-10.

Kinkaid was added solely for goaltending depth as pending-unrestricted free agent, Sergei Bobrovsky (37-24-1, 2.58 GAA, .913 SV% in 62 GP) led the league with nine shutouts on the season.

Blue Jackets backup goaltender, Joonas Korpisalo (10-7-3, 2.95 GAA, .897 SV% in 27 GP) hit some rough patches at times, but found a way to dig his team out from the backend when necessary.

In the grand scheme of things, the Bolts won the season series, 3-0-0, and outscored Columbus, 17-3, in that span.

While many consider Columbus as a Stanley Cup Playoffs pushover– given the franchise has never won a series– Blue Jackets head coach, John Tortorella always poses a tough challenge that can wear down his opponent.

Lightning head coach, Jon Cooper, earns his own merit in his ability to keep his players cool, calm, collected and always in comeback mode, but it’s not unfathomable to see the Blue Jackets pestering Tampa about as much– if not more than– Columbus did to Washington in last season’s First Round matchup.

After all, the Blue Jackets did lead that series, 2-0.

That said, this is Tampa’s year for a Cup run or bust. The Lightning should win the series in six games.

Regular season outcomes:

5-1 TBL at Nationwide Arena on Feb. 18th, 4-0 TBL at Amalie Arena on Jan. 8th, 8-2 TBL at Amalie Arena on Oct. 13th

Schedule:

4/10- Game 1 CBJ @ TBL 7 PM ET on USA , SN360, TVAS

4/12- Game 2 CBJ @ TBL 7 PM ET on CNBC, SN360, TVAS

4/14- Game 3 TBL @ CBJ 7 PM ET on NBCSN, SN360, TVAS

4/16- Game 4 TBL @ CBJ 7 PM ET on CNBC, SN360, TVAS

4/19- Game 5 CBJ @ TBL*

4/21- Game 6 TBL @ CBJ*

4/23- Game 7 CBJ @ TBL*

*If necessary

A2 Boston Bruins (49-24-9, 107 points) vs A3 Toronto Maple Leafs (46-28-8, 100 points)

For the second season in a row, the Boston Bruins are hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs in the First Round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Despite being without Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara at one point this season, the Bruins rallied from their 12th defenseman on up through the rest of the lineup to finish one win shy of consecutive 50-win seasons in Bruce Cassidy‘s third season (second full season) as head coach.

Speaking of Bergeron, however, the perfect two-way center finished the season with a career-high in points (79) and matched his career-high in goals (32) while battling injury early in the season. Bergeron’s 32-47–79 totals came in just 65 games. That’s only one more game played than last season for No. 37 in black-and-gold.

Meanwhile, his linemates, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak each reached milestones of their own. Marchand reached the 100-point plateau this season and became the first Bruin to do so since Joe Thornton recorded 101 points in 2002-03.

The “Little Ball of Hate” also set a career-high in assists (64) and was not suspended in 79 games played this season (he was rested for the final two games in the regular season and missed one game due to injury).

Pastrnak set a career-high in goals (38) and points (81) despite missing time due to a left thumb injury and being limited to 66 games played.

The B’s were led in net this season by Tuukka Rask (27-13-5, 2.48 GAA, .912 SV% in 46 GP) and Jaroslav Halak (22-11-4, 2.34 GAA, .922 SV% in 40 GP) in a 1A/1B scenario. For the first time since the 1989-90 season, Boston had two goaltenders with 20-plus wins.

Back north in Toronto, the Maple Leafs added a formidable center in John Tavares in free agency and his presence was immediate, notching career-highs in goals (47 ) and points (88) in 82 games.

Auston Matthews (37-36–73 totals in 68 games) and Mitch Marner (26-68–94 totals in 82 games) continued to their thing as the $11.634 million man (starting next season) and the soon to be at least $10.000 million boy wonder man.

Maple Leafs General Manager, Kyle Dubas, added Jake Muzzin in January in a trade with the Los Angeles Kings in effort to shore up his blue line, however, questions remain as to how head coach, Mike Babcock will limit time on ice for veterans, like Ron Hainsey, and mix in more opportunities for Morgan Rielly (20-52–72 totals in 82 games) in his breakout season.

Boston won the season series, 3-1-0, outscoring Toronto, 16-10, in that span.

Some experts are picking the Bruins in five games. They also said similar things in 2013 and 2018. This series is going six games (at least), with Boston overcoming the Maple Leafs defense in Game 7, once again.

To their credit, Toronto always makes things interesting in what’s likely to be the most unpredictable First Round matchup.

Regular season outcomes:

3-2 BOS at Scotiabank Arena on Jan. 12th, 6-3 BOS at TD Garden on Dec. 8th, 4-2 TOR at Scotiabank Arena on Nov. 26th, 5-1 BOS at TD Garden on Nov. 10th

Schedule:

4/11- Game 1 TOR @ BOS 7 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS

4/13- Game 2 TOR @ BOS 8 PM ET on NBC, CBC, TVAS

4/15- Game 3 BOS @ TOR 7 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, TVAS

4/17- Game 4 BOS @ TOR 7 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, TVAS

4/19- Game 5 TOR @ BOS*

4/21- Game 6 BOS @ TOR*

4/23- Game 7 TOR @ BOS*

*If necessary

M1 Washington Capitals (48-26-8, 104 points) vs EWC1 Carolina Hurricanes (46-29-7, 99 points)

Just as everyone expected, the Washington Capitals led the Metropolitan Division with 104 points after Barry Trotz left for the head coaching job on Long Island. Did I mention the Capitals are the defending Stanley Cup champions?

Anyway, Alex Ovechkin scored 51 goals and collected his 8th career Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy as a result– though Edmonton Oilers forward, Leon Draisaitl, was hot on his tail with 50 goals this season.

After the New York Islanders led the Metropolitan Division for what seemed like forever, it’s important to note the Metro was actually anybody’s game from puck drop in October. Here’s the thing, the Carolina Hurricanes were near the top of the division– they’ve been surging all season.

Speaking of surging, Carolina introduced their “Storm Surge” post-win celebration and the Caniacs loved it.

For those of you who haven’t been paying attention to the club in Raleigh, Brett Pesce is good. Also, Sebastian Aho (30-53–83 totals in 82 GP), Andrei Svechnikov (20-17–37 totals in 82 GP) and Teuvo Teravainen (21-55–76 totals in 82 games)– they’re pretty good too.

Washington was led by Braden Holtby (32-19-5, 2.82 GAA, .911 SV% in 59 GP) between the pipes this season and is comforted to know Pheonix Copley (16-7-3, 2.90 GAA, .905 SV% in 27 GP) is quite capable of playing this season’s role of Philipp Grubauer (since traded to the Colorado Avalanche after last season’s Cup celebrations).

The Canes were led by a duo of goaltenders who were once thought of as an after thought in Curtis McElhinney (20-11-2, 2.58 GAA, .912 SV% in 33 GP) and Petr Mrazek (23-14-3, 2.39 GAA, .914 SV% in 40 GP).

Though his record might not show it, Mrazek has been hitting his stride for the last month and is locked in. Ride that wave until it crests.

The Hurricanes had a league-leading ten skaters play in all 82 games. There’s no such thing as playing too much hockey– especially when it’s the first postseason appearance since 2009.

Last year, the Columbus Blue Jackets gave the Caps some interruptions coming out of the gate.

Despite Washington having swept the season series, 4-0-0, the Hurricanes kept things close in their most recent matchup with a, 3-2, loss at PNC Arena on March 28th.

Carolina almost pulled off the victory in a shootout on Dec. 14th, but lost, 6-5, on home ice to the Capitals.

Washington is beatable. Hurricanes head coach, Rod Brind’Amour knows that, his team just hasn’t done it yet. Caps head coach, Todd Reirden, is also making his postseason debut at the reigns behind the bench for his respective team.

Though they won the Cup last season– that was then. This is now.

This series is going seven games and the Hurricanes will make sure there’s no repeat Cup winner this year.

Regular season outcomes:

3-2 WSH at PNC Arena on March 28th, 4-1 WSH at Capital One Arena on March 26th, 3-1 WSH at Capital One Arena on Dec. 27th, 6-5 F/SO WSH at PNC Arena on Dec. 14th

Schedule:

4/11- Game 1 CAR @ WSH 7:30 PM ET on USA, SN360, TVAS2

4/13- Game 2 CAR @ WSH 3 PM ET on NBC, SN, TVAS

4/15- Game 3 WSH @ CAR 7 PM ET on CNBC, SN, TVAS2

4/18- Game 4 WSH @ CAR 7 PM ET on TBD, SN360, TVAS

4/20- Game 5 CAR @ WSH*

4/22- Game 6 WSH @ CAR*

4/24- Game 7 CAR @ WSH*

*If necessary

M2 New York Islanders (48-27-7, 103 points) vs M3 Pittsburgh Penguins (44-26-12, 100 points)

Barry Trotz figured out how to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins last season with the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals. Trotz is the key. Trotz knows the secret stuff to beat Mike Sullivan and his Penguins.

That’s why the William M. Jennings Trophy winning duo of Robin Lehner (25-13-5, 2.13 GAA, .930 SV% in 46 GP) and Thomas Greiss (23-14-2, 2.28 GAA, .927 SV% in 43 GP) will backstop the New York Islanders past Pittsburgh in their First Round matchup in six games.

Am I getting ahead of myself? Probably.

New York split the season series with the Pens, 2-1-1, with their most recent result against Pittsburgh coming in a, 2-1, shootout loss on Dec. 10th at NYCB Live (that’s the Nassau Coliseum, if you haven’t already heard. The Isles will host their First Round games there).

Islanders General Manager Lou Lamoriello put together a team without John Tavares. Trotz figured out how to get the most out of his players– guys like Matt Martin, Leo Komarov, Casey Cizikas and even Andrew Ladd (until Ladd got injured)– while playing the trap.

That same trap won the Cup last season.

This season, Trotz has Mathew Barzal and Anders Lee as his main attractions instead of names like Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov.

Long Island residents have long memories– the Penguins are one of their greatest rivals– and the added energy of Tavares’ departure has only fueled more passion all season long.

Can New York flip the switch from their late season bumps in the road?

Obviously, Pittsburgh has Sidney Crosby. They also have Evgeni Malkin. Crosby and Malkin are ready to go for another deep postseason run after watching their biggest rival not only beat them in the Second Round last year, but go on to take the Cup out of the hands of the Penguins’ recent streak of dominance in 2016 and 2017.

Patric Hornqvist is also another silent killer option for Sullivan when his team needs a clutch goal– and that’s on top of Jake Guentzel and Phil Kessel throughout the rest of the lineup.

The Penguins were led in the crease by Matt Murray (29-14-6, 2.69 GAA, .919 SV% in 50 GP) this season with some helpful bailout backup goaltending from Casey DeSmith (15-11-5, 2.75 GAA, .916 SV% in 36 GP). If Murray shows any signs of wavering, Sullivan shouldn’t have a hard time going to DeSmith to push his team over the edge.

How will Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann play into the fold as Jim Rutherford‘s biggest prize acquisitions this season? Who might be the breakout star for Pittsburgh that outshines Crosby in the Conn Smythe Trophy vote?

Aren’t these questions supposed to be answered in an editorial preview? Sure.

Regular season outcomes:

2-1 F/SO PIT at NYCB Live on Dec. 10th, 6-2 PIT at PPG Paints Arena on Dec. 6th, 3-2 F/SO NYI at Barclays Center on Nov. 1st, 6-3 NYI at PPG Paints Arena on Oct. 30th

Schedule:

4/10- Game 1 PIT @ NYI 7:30 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, TVAS2

4/12- Game 2 PIT @ NYI 7:30 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, TVAS2

4/14- Game 3 NYI @ PIT 12 PM ET on NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS

4/16- Game 4 NYI @ PIT 7:30 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, TVAS2

4/18- Game 5 PIT @ NYI*

4/20- Game 6 NYI @ PIT*

4/22- Game 7 PIT @ NYI*

Down the Frozen River(.com!)