December 31 – Day 82 – Last games this year

The 5-2 final score is not indicative of how competitive last night’s Game of the Day between the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning was, as the Blueshirts scored two empty-netters in the final 1:30 to secure the win.

The first two periods ended in ties, but New York never trailed.  They earned their first lead of the night after only 1:53 of play, when Keith Yandle and First Star of the Game Dominic Moore assisted Third Star Dan Boyle to his fifth goal of the season.  The Bolts waited until the 16:35 mark to take advantage of a Rick Nash high-sticking penalty, allowing Second Star Anton Stralman and Nikita Kucherov to assist Jonathan Marchessault to the game-tying goal.  The one-all score held into the intermission.

Even quicker than they scored in the first, New York scored in the second, only 56 seconds after resuming play.  J.T. Miller and Boyle assisted Mats Zuccarello to his 16th goal of the season to give the Rangers their second lead of the night.  Tampa waited until only nine seconds remained in the period to level the score, this tally couresty of Stralman on another power play after being assisted by Valtteri Filppula and Kucherov.  The two-all score held into the final period.

New York‘s winning goal came after 3:16 of play, courtesy of Moore, who was assisted by Viktor Stalberg.  Stalberg’s night wasn’t yet complete, as he scored the first of the Rangers‘ two empty-netters, this one at the 18:39 mark.  The Blueshirts‘ final tally came with only 33 seconds remaining in the game after Jesper Fast assisted Nash to his 12th of the season.

Henrik Lundqvist improves his record to 17-10-3 after saving 20 of 22 (90.9%), while Ben Bishop’s record falls to 15-12-3 after he saved 21 of 24 (87.5%).

The DtFR Game of the Day series now stands at 32-14-6, favoring the home squad by 26 points over the roadies.

Eighteen teams will play on the last day of 2015, with the action getting started an hour earlier than usual when three games drop the opening puck at 6 p.m. eastern (the New York Islanders at Buffalo [BELL TV], Pittsburgh at Detroit [SN] and Washington at Carolina).  8 p.m. eastern brings with it two Central division rivalries (Minnesota at St. Louis and Chicago at Colorado), followed half an hour later by another (Nashville at Dallas).  Three games combine as this evening’s nightcap, which will get started at 9 p.m. eastern (Los Angeles at Calgary [NHLN/SN360/SN1], Anaheim at Edmonton and Winnipeg at Arizona).

Six of tonight’s nine games are divisional rivalries (Washington at Carolina, Minnesota at St. Louis, Chicago at Colorado, Nashville at Dallas, Los Angeles at Calgary and Anaheim at Edmonton), while two of those, Minnesota at St. Louis and Nashville at Dallas, feature matchups between two teams currently qualifying for the playoffs.  Based on records alone, the WildBlues game should be more competitive, and it is also a rematch of a Western Conference Quarterfinals matchup, so let’s head to the Scottrade Center.

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This will be Minnesota‘s sixth time featured in the Game of the Day series, where they own a 3-2-0 record.  Their most recent showing in the series was a 6-3 loss to the Stars on home ice on December 21.  St. Louis has one more game played in the series, and it was a 3-2 nine-round shootout victory against the Stars on Saturday that improved their record in the series to 4-2-0.

To start the season, the 19-10-6 Minnesota Wild (third in the Central Division and fourth in the Western Conference) were leaning on their offense to cover up for defensive decencies.  But, as more games have been played, the Wild have improved their goals against to third best in the league.

So far this season, the Wild defense has allowed only 1005 shots to reach 15-10-2 Devan Dubnyk and co., thanks in part to Jared Spurgeon’s team-leading 79 shots.  91.9% of those shots have been saved, leaving only 84 goals against.  These numbers are good, but Minnesota is still searching for answers on the penalty kill.  Although they’ve allowed only 85 opposing power plays, 19 of them have yielded goals, giving Minnesota a 77.65% kill rate that trails the league average by 3.23%.

Offensively, the Wild has had a falling-off.  They only have 991 shots to their credit, but fortunately for them, 9.6% of those attempts have found the back of the net for 95 goals.  Although the offensive numbers overall have slid, the power play has still been strong.  On 109 opportunities, they’ve scored 22 goals for a 20.18% success rate that leads the league average by 1.06%.

Their most recent showing was a 3-1 victory over the Red Wings on Monday.

The 23-12-4 St. Louis Blues are currently second best in both the Central Division and the Western Conference and, just like Minnesota, have utilized defensive prowess to get them where they are.

Even with Jay Bouwmeester’s team-leading 71 blocks, 1114 shots have made their way to 18-8-2 Jake Allen and co., who have saved a combined 92.4% (leads the league average by .9%) for only 92 goals against.  An especially strong aspect of this Blues‘ defense has been their penalty kill.  86.4% of the opposing power plays have been killed for only 17 goals allowed, both easily superior to the league average.

St. Louis‘ offense has put a whopping 1170 shots on goal (led by Vladimir Tarasenko’s 142), of which 8.3% have found the back of the net for 97 goals (led by Tarasenko’s 22).  St. Louis‘ power play has also been successful this season, scoring on 20.37% of attempts for 22 goals (led by Tarasenko’s seven).

Their last showing was a 4-3 overtime victory over the Predators Tuesday.

Some players to watch include Minnesota‘s Dubnyk (four shutouts [tied for third in the league]) & St. Louis‘ Allen (five shutouts [tied for first in the league], 18 wins [fourth in the league], .927 save percentage [tied for sixth in the league] and 2.08 GAA [seventh in the league]) and Tarasenko (22 goals [tied for second in the league] and 39 points [tied for sixth in the league]).

Tonight’s game will be the third in the season series between these two squads, where Minnesota currently leads 1-0-1.  Their most recent meeting was two months ago on Halloween night when the Wild visited St. Louis and left with a point as the Blues won in overtime 3-2.

Since I have to make a pick for this game, I am leaning towards the Blues since I believe their defense is more capable of stopping Minnesota‘s offense than the Wild’s defense against St. Louis‘ offense.  Pairing that with home ice, I predict the Blues to have a pleasant start to 2016.

December 30 – Day 81 – Blueshirt-Bolt Bout

It may have ended in a 7-3 victory for the Boston Bruins over the Ottawa Senators, but a better representation of yesterday’s Game of the Day is the combined 110 penalty minutes.

Thanks to a goal from Second Star of the Game Jimmy Hayes after 8:01 of play, the Bruins never trailed in this game.  Assisted by Kevan Miller, he scored his first of three goals in the game, the Game of the Day’s second straight hat trick.  Only 4:30 later, Shane Prince and Max McCormick assisted Chris Neil to level the score at one-all.  The final goal of the period was the first of four power play tallies on the evening, all scored by Boston.  This one came with only 3:35 remaining in the first period courtesy of First Star Patrice Bergeron, assisted by Torey Krug and Ryan Spooner.

The third and final Bruin to score in the game notched his first goal only 1:21 after resuming play, as Brett Connolly and Brad Marchand assisted Third Star Matt Beleskey to the Bruins‘ second power play goal.  Ottawa waited until only 2:09 remained in the period to get a goal back, with a tally from Mika Zibanejad after being assisted by Neil and Prince, setting the second intermission score at 3-2.

The Bruins‘ game winner was, you guessed it, a power play goal from Bergeron after being assisted by Krug and Seth Griffith, his first of the season, at the 2:38 mark.  Ottawa‘s final tally of the evening came 1:44 later when Erik Karlsson and Marc Methot assisted Mike Hoffman, setting the score at 4-3.  As far as scoring is concerned, the game slowed down for over 11 minutes until Max Talbot and Loui Eriksson assisted Hayes to his second score of the night.  At the 16:40 mark, Beleskey closed his scoring line for the evening with his second goal after being assisted by Spooner and Eriksson, setting the score at 6-3.  Hayes scored his hat trick-clinching goal into the game with only a second remaining in the game while on the power play, assisted by Talbot and Dennis Seidenberg.

Tuukka Rask improves his record to 14-9-3 after saving 29 of 32 (90.6%), while Craig Anderson’s record falls to 16-10-4, due to saving only 30 of 37 (81.1%).

The DtFR Game of the Day series now stands at 32-13-6, favoring the home squad by 28 points over the roadies.

Today’s Wednesday schedule is a light one, as only 10 teams are in action.  The evening’s festivities begin at the usual starting time of 7 p.m. eastern when two of the five games get started (Toronto at Pittsburgh [SN] and Buffalo at Washington [BELL TV]), followed half an hour later by New Jersey at Ottawa (TVAS).  8 p.m. eastern brings with it the first leg of NBCSN’s Wednesday Night Rivalry, as the New York Rangers visit Tampa Bay.  Following the conclusion of that game, NBCSN completes their double-header by showing Philadelphia at San Jose, this evening’s nightcap.

None of tonight’s games are between either division rivals or teams currently qualifying for the playoff.  Probably the most intriguing matchup of the evening based on team names alone is the New York at Tampa Bay game, as it is a rematch of the Eastern Conference Finals and their second meeting of the year.  Due to this and the fact that I don’t want to focus on Ottawa three times in the last six games, let’s take a look at the BlueshirtBolt game.

New York Rangers LogoUnknown-1

 

 

 

 

This will be New York‘s ninth time featured in the DtFR Game of the Day Series, but their first since a 7-3 loss to the Capitals on December 20 that set their series record at 5-2-1.  Tampa Bay has been featured four times before tonight and host a 2-1-1 record in the series.  The last time they were the focus of our attention was October 27 when they fell in St. Louis 2-0.

The 20-13-4 New York Rangers are currently in third place in the Metropolitan Division and sixth in the Eastern Conference.  Their most recent showing was a 5-3 loss in Nashville on Monday.  Even though Madison Square Garden is home to one of, if not the best goalkeeper in hockey, the Rangers have actually been a better offensive team this season.

They may have put only 1037 shots on goal so far this season (led by Rick Nash’s 110), but the Rangers have scored 10.2% of those attempts (1.3% above the league average) for 106 goals (led by Mats Zuccarello’s 15), sixth-most in the league. As it does for most good teams, the success continues into the power play, where the Blueshirts score on 21.36% of attempts (2.25% above the league average) for 22 goals.

Defensively, the Rangers haven’t played as well as I would expect.  Even though Dan Girardi has 72 blocks to his credit, they’ve allowed 1133 shots to reach 16-10-3 Henrik Lundqvist and co., who’ve saved 92% and allowed 96 goals.  Just as the defense as a whole has been average, so too has the penalty kill.  The Rangers are killing 80.99% of attempts, only .1% over the league average, and allowing 23 goals.

The 18-15-4 Tampa Bay Lightning sit in sixth place in the Atlantic Division and 10th in the Eastern Conference.  Their most recent game was a 4-3 shootout loss at home against the Canadiens on Monday.  Tampa has favored the defensive end this season, where they are eighth-best in the league in goals against.

Thanks in part to Jason Garrison’s 58 blocks, the Lightning have allowed only 1049 shots to reach 15-11-3 Ben Bishop and co., who have saved 92.4% and allowed only 85 goals.  Although the defense as a whole has been strong, the penalty kill has been lacking.  The Bolts have allowed 24 power play goals on 110 attempts for a 78.18% kill rate that trails the league average by 2.71%.

Although the penalty kill needs to be improved, a bigger hole for the Bolts has been the offense.  Even with Steven Stamkos’ 100 shots, the Lightning have only managed 1048 shots, of which 9% have found the back of the net for 94 goals (led by Stamkos’ 16).  Just as the offense has only been average, so too has been the power play.  Although the Bolts have 24 power play goals to their credit (led by Stamkos’ nine), they’ve needed 130 opportunities, and those of us that are mathematically astute know that brings down averages – 18.46%, to be exact, which trails the league average by .65%.

Some players to watch include New York‘s Lundqvist (16 wins [tied for fifth in the league]) and Tampa Bay‘s Bishop (2.03 GAA [fourth in the league], 15 wins [tied for eighth in the league] and .926 save percentage [tied for eighth in the league]).

This is the second of three meetings between these two squads this season, with the first occurring on November 19 when Tampa held home ice to win 2-1.  Of course, it is not the regular season series that makes this one special, but the playoff series in May.  It took seven games, but Tampa was able to earn their spot in the Stanley Cup Finals with a 2-0 victory in the Garden.  If both of these results are indicative of anything, we should be in for a good game.

These teams match up well, given that it’s both teams’ strengths are going against one another.  Tampa has been surging of late and has the opportunity to get back into the playoff conversation, so I think they can defend home ice and earn two points.

Numbers Game: Look to the Rafters- Winnipeg Jets

By: Nick Lanciani

Many teams chose to retire (or honor) jersey numbers based on extraordinary circumstances, dedication to the organization, or legendary status. With that in mind, what will retired numbers look like around the league in the future? Let’s explore what each team around the NHL might do in the coming seasons for former and/or current players that should see their numbers raised to the rafters someday.

Feel free to speak your mind and drop us a line in the comments or tweet to @DtFrozenRiver using #DTFRNumbersGame.

Unknown-3Winnipeg Jets

Current Retired Numbers- None

 

 

 

Recommended Numbers to Retire

37 Dan Snyder/Rick Rypien

There’s no denying the tragic history that followed the Jets from their Thrashers days. Officially retiring number 37 would be a humbling gesture and one of the best things the Winnipeg front office could do to continue to honor Snyder. Although Rick Rypien never suited up for the Jets and was slated to wear number 11 with them (as they haven’t used number 37 while in Winnipeg- it was retired in Atlanta), his last days in the NHL featured the number on the back of his Vancouver Canucks jersey.

All I’m saying is it would truly bring some closure to all the grief associated with the franchise as well as bring light to the issues of speeding while driving as well as the importance of mental health.

16 Andrew Ladd

Ladd became the Jets first captain when the franchise relocated from Atlanta, so it only seems natural that if he spends the rest of his career in Winnipeg, they’ll set aside number 16 in the rafters of the MTS Centre.

9 Bobby Hull

It was retired previously by the original Winnipeg Jets, now Arizona Coyotes- and still remains retired to this day in Glendale. Evander Kane asked for Hull’s permission to use the number during his days at the MTS Centre, but has since been dealt to the Buffalo Sabres. Perhaps it’s time to set number 9 aside officially, as to many Jets fans it already is.

10 Dale Hawerchuk

The Coyotes retired the number once they reached the desert and once again we have a similar instance here. It’s a once famous number of the previous installation of the Winnipeg Jets. Current Jets center, Bryan Little, refused to wear the number out of respect for Hawerchuk and switched to the number 18 when the Thrashers moved to Winnipeg.

Other Notes

I’m sure we’ll see at least one of the names and their corresponding numbers retired by the Jets someday if they do something significant or stay relevant to the franchise for long enough that they are honored for their dedication to the team. Bryan Little (18), Blake Wheeler (26), Dustin Byfuglien (33), Tobias Enstrom (39), or Mark Scheifele (55) could one day become enshrined in Winnipeg Jets history.

With that the “Numbers Game: Look to the Rafters” series has come to a close. I hope you enjoyed all of it, if not your favorite team’s. To catch up on any you may have missed, simply search click on the “DTFR Numbers Game” tag below and find your team.

Numbers Game: Look to the Rafters- Washington Capitals

By: Nick Lanciani

Many teams chose to retire (or honor) jersey numbers based on extraordinary circumstances, dedication to the organization, or legendary status. With that in mind, what will retired numbers look like around the league in the future? Let’s explore what each team around the NHL might do in the coming seasons for former and/or current players that should see their numbers raised to the rafters someday.

Feel free to speak your mind and drop us a line in the comments or tweet to @DtFrozenRiver using #DTFRNumbersGame.

Washington Capitals LogoWashington Capitals

Current Retired Numbers- 5 Rod Langway, 7 Yvon Labre, 11 Mike Gartner, 32 Dale Hunter

Recommended Numbers to Retire

 

8 Alex Ovechkin

Ovi-bvious. Next.

70 Braden Holtby

Holtby has solidified his elite goaltender consideration for years to come with the last couple of seasons he’s been having. If he can backstop the Capitals all the way to their first Stanley Cup championship with guys like Ovechkin, Niklas Backstrom, and Evgeny Kuznetsov in front of him, he’ll become even more legendary among Washington faithful.

Having said that, you could throw in Backstrom’s number 19 into consideration for future discussion.

I’ll admit that there’s not that much to go off of, but that can only mean that the best is yet to come for the Washington Capitals as an organization, on the ice, as well as for their fans. They’re still heavily favored to represent the Eastern Conference in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final as it is right now with one of the best records in the NHL.

Numbers Game: Look to the Rafters- Vancouver Canucks

By: Nick Lanciani

Many teams chose to retire (or honor) jersey numbers based on extraordinary circumstances, dedication to the organization, or legendary status. With that in mind, what will retired numbers look like around the league in the future? Let’s explore what each team around the NHL might do in the coming seasons for former and/or current players that should see their numbers raised to the rafters someday.

Feel free to speak your mind and drop us a line in the comments or tweet to @DtFrozenRiver using #DTFRNumbersGame.

Unknown-1Vancouver Canucks

Current Retired Numbers- 10 Pavel Bure, 12 Stan Smyl, 16 Trevor Linden, 19 Markus Naslund

Recommended Numbers to Retire

22 Daniel Sedin

I think this one is rather straightforward, don’t you think? Years after the 1999 NHL Entry Draft saw Brian Burke pull off one of the best trades in the 1st round in the history of the Entry Draft, it would make sense for the franchise to rightfully recognize the faces of their franchise someday.

33 Henrik Sedin

I think this one is rather straightforward too, don’t you think? It’s only fitting that if they were to retire one, they retire the other. Also, please remember that Patrik Stefan was drafted 1st overall by the Atlanta Thrashers in 1999- you’ll need that someday for trivia (if not already).

1 Roberto Luongo

Retiring Luongo’s number 1 may receive some consideration by the Canucks when it comes time for him to hang up the skates, blocker, glove, and leg pads, given how much time he spent with Vancouver, the turnaround, and his love and appreciation for the city and fans. It might not have always been reciprocal, but one thing is for sure, he is always welcome to spend a little time strolling through Stanley Park before a game.

The Florida Panthers should retire his number, no questions asked, once he removes himself from the game. The Vancouver Canucks should do as they please. I won’t hold anything against them if they do or if they don’t retire Luongo’s number some day.

December 29 – Day 80 – Déjà Vu

In last night’s Game of the Day, we confirmed our beliefs that it’s Los Angeles and the rest of the Pacific Division, as the Kings won in Vancouver with a five-goal shutout that included the first hat trick of the Game of the Day series, courtesy of First Star of the Game Tyler Toffoli.

The winning goal was the lone tally of the first period, compliments of Toffoli, assisted by Second Star Anze Kopitar and Milan Lucic after 15:33 of play.

6:24 minutes later (if you’re only counting game time and not the intermission!), Trevor Lewis assisted Derek Forbort to his first goal of his career in 11 games, setting the score at 2-0.  Exactly 10 minutes later, Kopitar notched his second assist of the evening with a helper to Brayden McNabb at the 11:57 mark.  The Kings‘ 3-0 lead held into the second intermission.

If they hadn’t put the final nail in the coffin yet, Los Angeles scored their fourth goal of the evening at the 5:55 mark when Kopitar (yes, if you’re keeping score at home, that’s three assists!) and Alec Martinez assisted Toffoli to his second tally.  Toffoli completed his hat trick at the 12:56 mark with a power play goal, assisted by Drew Doughty and, you guessed it, Kopitar, for his fourth assist of the evening, setting the score at the 5-0 final.

Third Star (guess that’s what a shutout gets you when there’s a hat trick and a four-assist night) Jonathan Quick made all 27 saves to improve his record to 19-9-1, while Jacob Markstrom’s record falls to 3-4-3 after saving only 33 of 38 (86.8%).

The DtFR Game of the Day series now stands at 31-13-6, favoring the homers by 26 points over the roadies.

Ten games will be played this evening in the NHL, with the action getting started at the usual 7 p.m. eastern starting time as four matchups go underway (Ottawa at Boston [RDS2], the New York Islanders at Toronto [TVAS], Carolina at New Jersey and Dallas at Columbus), followed half an hour later by Montréal at Florida (RDS).  8 p.m. eastern brings with it two games (Nashville at St. Louis [NBCSN] and Detroit at Winnipeg), with the final three games beginning an hour later (Anaheim at Calgary, Los Angeles at Edmonton and Chicago at Arizona).

Six of tonight’s games are divisional rivalries (Ottawa at Boston, Carolina at New Jersey, Montréal at Florida, Nashville at St. Louis, Anaheim at Calgary and Los Angeles at Edmonton), while four feature teams currently qualifying for the playoffs (Ottawa at Boston, Montréal at Florida, Nashville at St. Louis and Chicago at Arizona).  Finally, tonight also features a rematch of the Western Conference Semifinals, as Anaheim takes on Calgary.

While most of the matchups listed are tantalizing, it is hard to take our attention away from the OttawaBoston game due to their deadlock tie in the division table.  To the TD Garden we go!

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Both squads have been featured five times already in the DtFR Game of the Day series, with their most recent being against each other only two days ago in Ottawa, where the Sens won 3-1.  In the Game of the Day Series, Boston has a lackluster 1-3-1 record, while the Sens host a 2-2-1 record.

Yes, before you write nasty things in the comment section, I’m fully aware we just watched these two go at it on Sunday (this sounds like as good a time as ever for a plug: here’s my quick-and-dirty recap of that game!).  But, the fact of the matter is that both of these teams are tied at 42 points apiece and qualifying for both the wild card spots, and a win tonight has the potential to move one of these teams into a division qualifying-spot should Detroit lose.

You can read an analysis of both teams here.

Some players to watch in tonight’s game include Boston‘s Tuukka Rask (four shutouts [tied for third in the league]) & Ottawa‘s Craig Anderson (16 wins [tied for fifth in the league]), Mike Hoffman (17 goals [tied for seventh in the league]) and Erik Karlsson (31 assists [tied for league lead] and 40 points [tied for fourth in the league]).

Ottawa spoiled my prediction when they beat the Bruins at home, but I feel much more confident picking Boston to win in the Garden.

Numbers Game: Look to the Rafters- Toronto Maple Leafs

By: Nick Lanciani

Many teams chose to retire (or honor) jersey numbers based on extraordinary circumstances, dedication to the organization, or legendary status. With that in mind, what will retired numbers look like around the league in the future? Let’s explore what each team around the NHL might do in the coming seasons for former and/or current players that should see their numbers raised to the rafters someday.

Feel free to speak your mind and drop us a line in the comments or tweet to @DtFrozenRiver using #DTFRNumbersGame.

Unknown-3Toronto Maple Leafs

Current Retired Numbers- 5 Bill Barilko, 6 Irvine “Ace” Bailey

Current Honored Numbers- 1 Turk Broda/Johnny Bower, 4 Hap Day/Red Kelly, 7 King Clancy/Tim Horton, 9 Ted Kennedy/Charlie Conacher, 10 Syl Apps/George Armstrong, 13 Mats Sundin, 17 Wendell Clark, 21 Borje Salming, 27 Frank Mahovlich/Darryl Sittler, 93 Doug Gilmour

Recommended Numbers to Honor

15 Tomas Kaberle

Kaberle is the second highest scoring defenseman in franchise history for the Toronto Maple Leafs. That speaks for itself. He may not make an NHL return at this point in his life (and career), but he’s sure to see some well deserved recognition from the Toronto faithful and the organization he spent the most time with in his NHL days.

29 Félix Potvin

Surely Potvin deserves some kind of recognition for the way he broke into the league and his impressive numbers for the number of games he played in a single year and shots faced. Perhaps the Maple Leafs front office might see this one as a bit of a stretch, but it’d likely send a nice submittal message to their current goalie tandem that they too, can stand on their head sometimes and make out just fine as long as the team in front of them doesn’t give up.

Other Notes

Dion Phaneuf certainly isn’t going to be getting that much love (if any at all) any time soon. The only potential bright spot would be if James van Riemsdyk becomes spectacular on a nightly basis. Only then would I have at least one more player to add to the honored player list in Toronto. So yeah, there’s that.

Numbers Game: Look to the Rafters- Tampa Bay Lightning

By: Nick Lanciani

Many teams chose to retire (or honor) jersey numbers based on extraordinary circumstances, dedication to the organization, or legendary status. With that in mind, what will retired numbers look like around the league in the future? Let’s explore what each team around the NHL might do in the coming seasons for former and/or current players that should see their numbers raised to the rafters someday.

Feel free to speak your mind and drop us a line in the comments or tweet to @DtFrozenRiver using #DTFRNumbersGame.

Unknown-1Tampa Bay Lightning

Current Retired Numbers- None

Recommended Numbers to Retire

4 Vincent Lecavalier

Prior to being bought-out by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the summer of 2013, Vincent Lecavalier was crucial to the heart and soul of the franchise. Lecavalier’s leadership and craft left quite an impact on the Lightning, having won a Stanley Cup in 2004 with the franchise. Throughout Lecavalier’s storied career he has had eight 60-points- or more- seasons, all with Tampa, as he has recently battled a rash of injuries and healthy scratches with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Regardless, Lecavalier remained faithful to the Lightning during his time in Tampa. Rumors had swirled and a trade was nearly complete in 2009, that would have sent him to his hometown team, the Montreal Canadiens, but Lecavalier was determined to stay in Tampa for the rest of his career. He wore number 4 with the Lightning out of respect for two of his all time favorite players- Montreal’s Jean Béliveau and Boston Bruins defenseman, Bobby Orr.

In Tampa, he made number 4 his own. When the time comes for Lecavalier to call it quits, the Lightning will undoubtedly call it quits on using the number 4 and raise it to the rafters of Amalie Arena.

The 1st overall selection of the 1998 NHL Entry Draft was the first success story of all things regarding scouting and player development in Tampa and preceded the 1st overall selection, ten years later, that is the current face of the Lightning- and another center- Steven Stamkos.

26 Martin St. Louis

St. Louis spent so much of his career proving people wrong about size in hockey. When many were calling for the sport to get bigger, taller, and quite possibly stronger (by default), Martin St. Louis with his 5’8” frame and dominated the game in so many underrated ways. We all know how much of a stale taste was left in the mouths of everyone after the way he left Tampa, but we all know that Lightning fans would be the first to welcome him back for his number retirement ceremony. I don’t think we’ll have to wait too long before number 26 is hanging from the rafters of Amalie Arena.

The native of Laval, Quebec did not disappoint over the years. In fact, in the years after winning the Cup in 2004, St. Louis put up some even more impressive regular season scoring numbers. It’s too bad we only got to see this phenomenal advocate of the game play in 9 Stanley Cup Playoffs out of his 17-year career. St. Louis was always the underdog you’d root for, because his foundation of class was taller than anyone else on the ice at all times. His clutch performances with the New York Rangers in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, although ultimately disappointing in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final, will never be forgotten.

19 Brad Richards

Richards spent the most amount of time with the Tampa Bay Lightning in his entire career and would surely receive consideration for retiring his number in Tampa, where his game stood out better than any other place he’s been since. While his connection between the Lightning and everything he did for them is surely fading, it is important to remember how much of a role he played for Tampa on the road to the 2004 Stanley Cup championship.

Until this year, Brad Richards held many playoff records for the Lightning. His 12-14-26 totals in 23 games played in the 2004 playoffs were never seen before by the franchise and not replicated until Tyler Johnson had 13-10-23 totals in 26 games played in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Ultimately the question that will be asked when considering retiring the number 19 in Tampa will look something like this- does being a valuable member of the franchise’s first championship, merely a little more than a decade in existence, translate into having your number retired regardless of how the rest of your career panned out?

91 Steven Stamkos

There is little question that number 91 will be retired one day by the Lightning. That is as long as they can keep Stamkos around long enough. The only thing that might put retirement celebrations on hold in Tampa is the looming contract extension agreement that may or may not still occur between Steven Stamkos and the Lightning. Again, as long as they have him for longer than the seven years he’s already been with the club, his number is a shoe in someday to be retired by the organization.

Numbers Game: Look to the Rafters- San Jose Sharks

By: Nick Lanciani

What will retired numbers look like around the league in the future? While there’s only a finite set of numbers to utilize on the back of a jersey, many teams choose to retire (or honor) some numbers based on extraordinary circumstances, dedication to the organization, or legendary status.

With that in mind, let’s explore what each team around the NHL might do in the coming seasons. Feel free to speak your mind and drop us a line in the comments or tweet to @DtFrozenRiver using #DTFRNumbersGame.

For each team, I thought of former and current players that should have their numbers retired now or once they hang up the skates.

Unknown-3San Jose Sharks

Current Retired Numbers- None

Recommended Numbers to Retire

19 Joe Thornton

Thornton began his career with the Boston Bruins as the 1st overall selection of the 1997 NHL Entry Draft but was traded to the San Jose Sharks 23 games into the 2005-2006 season and has been an important piece the franchise ever since. Thornton is a stellar playmaker who has fully immersed himself into Bay Area culture to the point that he remains one of the most recognizable Sharks players ever.

While his goal production may be sagging and his leadership has recently come into question, Thornton’s presence in San Jose was the reason why they became such a dominant team in the late 2000s/early 2010s. Now of course, the Sharks find themselves in a bit of a transition, looking to rebuild their roster and either keep Jumbo Joe as part of their long term plan to capture their first Cup or look to see if there are any organizations willing to take on such a large cap hit.

At the end of the day, Joe Thornton is certainly deserving of having his number retired by the San Jose Sharks when he decides to hang up the skates, out of his dedication to the team and northern California hockey.

12 Patrick Marleau

Marleau is closing in on nearly 20 years with the San Jose Sharks and is the epitome of what it means to be a Shark. His inconsistent play these days shrouds the average hockey fan’s ability to see what Marleau has truly meant to the organization. He is a well liked leader and respected around the league. He is the first successful player to have been developed by the Sharks in their entire franchise history.

The longtime playmaker is also the youngest player in NHL history to have reached the 1,300 games played milestone. The 2nd overall pick of the 1997 NHL Entry Draft is sure to see his number 12 raised to the rafters of the SAP Center when he steps away from the game.

11 Owen Nolan

Nolan spent his longest amount of time with the San Jose Sharks over the course of his 18-year NHL career. He played in eight seasons for the Sharks between the 1995-1996 season and the 2002-2003 season. Nolan, while an iconic player of the 1990s and early 2000s, was most easily recognizable wearing a San Jose teal jersey to many fans of the game.

For the very reason of popularity alone, he stands a chance of having his number retired by the Sharks. However, compared to longtime Sharks forwards, Thornton and Marleau, Nolan’s got little chance of seeing his jersey number hung from the ceiling.

20 Evgeni Nabokov

Nabokov was a San Jose Sharks goaltender for ten years out of his 14-year NHL net minding career. This past season he suited up in 11 games for the Tampa Bay Lightning before being placed on waivers with the purpose of reassignment to Syracuse, ultimately opting for a trade to San Jose to then retire a Shark. Simply put, Evgeni Nabokov was the best goaltender in franchise history for the San Jose Sharks (thus far, anyway). Without a doubt, he’ll likely see his number raised to the rafters within a few years.

December 28 – Day 79 – Hollywood vs. Hollywood North

I predicted a Bruins win, but the Senators proved me wrong with a 3-1 victory on home ice in yesterday’s Game of the Day.

Ottawa snuck in the only goal of the first period with only 19 seconds remaining.  After Jimmy Hayes was sent to the box for instigating, Kyle Turris and Erik Karlsson assisted Mark Stone to a power play goal.

That late goal did not sit well with Third Star of the Game David Krejci and the Bruins during the intermission, as he scored a goal after 7:54, assisted by Matt Beleskey and Loui Eriksson, to knot the game at one-all.  Again, the Sens waited until the end of the period to take the lead, as Bobby Ryan and Mike Hoffman assisted Second Star Mika Zibanejad to the game-winner with only 1:39 remaining in the second period.

The final goal only occurred because Tuukka Rask was on the bench to give the Bruins a man-advantage.  It was a copy of the Senators‘ first goal, with Turris and Karlsson assisting Stone to an empty netter with 54 seconds remaining in the game, setting the score at the 3-1 final.

First Star Craig Anderson made 38 of 39 saves (97.4%) to improve his record to 16-9-4, while Rask’s record falls to 13-9-3 after saving 19 of 21 (90.5%).

The DtFR Game of the Day series now stands at 31-12-6 in favor of the home side, leading the roadies by 28 points.

After 18 games over the weekend, Monday is a slightly relaxed schedule, featuring six matchups.  The action gets started at 7 p.m. eastern when Washington visits Buffalo, followed half an hour later by Montréal at Tampa Bay (RDS).  Two games drop the opening puck at 8 p.m. eastern (the New York Rangers at Nashville [TVAS] and Detroit at Minnesota) and are the last games to start before 10 p.m. eastern, when Los Angeles visits Vancouver.  Finally, this evening’s nightcap gets started at 10:30 p.m. eastern when Colorado visits San Jose.

Two of tonight’s games are between divisional rivals (Montréal at Tampa Bay and Los Angeles at Vancouver), while three are between quality squads currently qualifying for the playoffs (New York at Nashville, Detroit at Minnesota and Los Angeles at Vancouver).  Finally, Montréal at Tampa Bay is also a rematch of one of last season’s Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Even though the rematch provides interesting storylines, I’m taking the personal leverage to instead focus in the Los AngelesVancouver, mostly because I want to look into the Kings‘ play.  I know, selfish.

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This will be Los Angeles‘ second appearance in the DtFR Game of the Day – the other time they were featured, they fell in Chicago 4-2 on November 2.  Tonight’s game will be Vancouver‘s first appearance as the Game of the Day.

The 21-11-2 Los Angeles Kings currently own a seven-point lead in the Pacific Division, and are tied for third in the Western Conference.  They’ve found that success by playing one of the best defenses in the league, even though their most recent showing, a 4-3 overtime victory in Arizona on Saturday may not be indicative of that.

Thanks in part to Alec Martinez’ team-leading 73 blocks, the Kings have allowed only 958 shots to reach the net, of which 18-9-1 Jonathan Quick and co. have saved 92.1%, allowing only 78 goals, the second best in the league.  The Kings have also killed 82.11% of penalties, allowing 22 goals on 123 attempts.

I say it on a regular basis, but more shots usually turn into more goals.  While the Kings‘ percentages may not be on par with the league average, 86 (led by Tyler Toffoli’s 14 goals) of their 1097 shots (led by Jeff Carter’s 103 shots) have found the back of the net.  One point that the Kings should focus on to improve their offense should be their power play.  They have been successful on only 18%, scoring 18 goals on, you guessed it, 100 attempts.

Their counterparts, the 14-14-9 Vancouver Canucks, currently sit in third place in the Pacific Division, but eighth in the Western Conference.  They are currently riding a two-game win streak, with their most recent showing a 2-1 overtime victory over the Oilers on Saturday.  So far this season, the Canucks have been a better team with the puck on their stick, but both sides of the ice are performing below the league average.

Led by Daniel Sedin’s 133 shots, Vancouver has put 1086 shots on net so far this season (well above the league average), but only 91 have found the back of the net, led by Sedin’s 16 tallies.  The main facet of Vancouver‘s offense that is holding them back is their lack of success on the power play.  On 124 attempts (well-above the league average), the Canucks only have the league-average 21 goals to their credit, led by Sedin’s five.  Given the weak competition in the Pacific division, I expect Vancouver to make moves to improve their offense in preparation of a playoff run.

Defensively, the Canucks have needed all the help they can get.  Even though Chris Tanev has a team-leading 89 blocks to his credit, Vancouver has allowed 1129 shots to reach 10-11-6 Ryan Miller and co., of which they’ve saved 91.2% and allowed 102 goals.  The special teams’ issues continue when defending against the man-advantage, as the Canucks have allowed 124 opportunities to the opposition.  Of those, they’ve killed 79.69%, allowing 26 goals.

Some players to watch include Los Angeles‘ Carter (+16 [tied for fifth in the league]), Quick (18 wins [tied for second in the league] and two shutouts [tied for eighth in the league]) and Toffoli (+18 [third in the league]) & Vancouver‘s D. Sedin (37 points [tied for seventh in the league] and 16 goals [tied for ninth in the league]) and Henrik Sedin (24 assists [tied for seventh in the league]).

The Kings and Canucks have already played two games in their five-game season series.  The Canucks won the first meeting 3-0 on October 13 in the Staples Center, but the Kings were able to hold home ice on the first day of this month, winning 2-1 in overtime.

Given Vancouver‘s defensive woes, it’s hard to pick against a stellar Kings team, even if the Canucks have played Los Angeles tough twice this season.  Expect Los Angeles to get the win north of the border.