January 1 – Day 83 – You get two guesses…

Yesterday’s Game of the Day between the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues ended poorly for the home squad, as the Wild scored two goals in the final 8:32 of play to secure the 3-1 victory.

The first goal of the game was not scored until 28:42 had ticked off the clock, and belonged to St. Louis.  Thanks to Marco Scandella sending the puck over the glass, the Blues took advantage of the extra man to get Third Star of the Game Kevin Shattenkirk his seventh goal of the season, assisted by Alexander Steen (his 22nd helper of the season) and Paul Stastny.  Minnesota waited until 3:48 remained in the second period to level the score at one-all, as Justin Fontaine and First Star Erik Haula assisted Second Star Nino Niederreiter to his eighth goal of the season.  The 1-1 score held into the second intermission.

The Wild notched their game winner at the 11:28 mark of the final period with a tally from Haula, assisted by Niederreiter.  Minnesota‘s final tally was an empty-netter, scored with 1:37 remaining in the game, compliments of Thomas Vanek, assisted by Charlie Coyle to set the score at 3-1.

Devan Dubnyk improves his record to 16-10-2 after saving 33 of 34 (97.1%), while Jake Allen’s record falls to 18-9-2 after saving 26 of 28 (92.9%).

The DtFR Game of the Day Series now stands at 32-15-6, with the homers favoring the roadies by 24 points.

Happy New Year from all of us at Down the Frozen River!  Too bad the NHL doesn’t share our sentiments, as they are only putting on two games today.  Jerks.

Oh wait.  One of those is the Winter Classic between the Montréal Canadiens and Boston Bruins!

It gets started at 1 p.m. eastern and takes place at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass.  The other game takes place inside Rogers Arena (Indoor games.  So yesterday, I know.) at 10 p.m. eastern when the Anaheim Ducks visit the Vancouver Canucks.

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Both teams have been featured six times before today’s game in the DtFR Game of the Day series, but the Habs own a much better record than the Bruins (5-1-0 and 2-3-1, respectively).  Montréal‘s last showing in the series was a 6-2 defeat in Dallas on December 19, while the home squad has been featured as recently as Tuesday, when they beat the Senators 7-3 on home ice.

The 21-15-3 Montréal Canadiens currently sit in second place in the Atlantic Division and fifth in the Eastern Conference.  Although they play a strong game on both ends of the ice, the Habs are certainly a more offensive-minded team having scored the fifth-most goals so far this season.

They may have two more games to their credit than the league average, but that is not the reason the Habs have 1226 shots to their credit (led by Max Pacioretty’s 156), 134 over the league average.  8.9% of those shots have turned into goals, 109 to be exact, led by Pacioretty’s 15 tallies.  Although the offense has been strong, the power play has been only average.  On 129 attempts, Montréal has only scored 25 goals (led by Pacioretty’s five goals) for a 19.38% success rate that leads the league average by only .24%.

The main facet of Montréal‘s defense has been keeping shots off 10-9-3 Mike Condon and co.  Thanks to Tom Gilbert’s team-leading 61 blocks, only 1077 shots have found their way to the crease, of which 91.2% have ben saved for 97 goals against.  The defensive successes have continued into the penalty kill, which has neutralized 84.5% of opposing opportunities for only 20 power play goals against.  Also, an added bonus to the penalty kill has been the seven short-handed goals that lead the league average by four tallies.

Their most recent showing was a 3-1 loss at Florida on Tuesday.

The 20-12-4 Boston Bruins currently sit in third place in the Atlantic Division and sixth in the Eastern Conference.  Just like Montréal, Boston employs a strong offensive attack, but are backed by a solid defense.

Led by Patrice Bergeron’s 122 shots, the Bruins have put 1127 shots on goal, of which 10% have found the back of the net for 113 goals (led by Brad Marchand’s 15).  Boston employs one of the strongest power plays in the league, successful on 29.41% attempts for 30 goals.

The Bruins‘ defense has also been very strong, as they’ve only allowed 1039 shots to reach 14-9-3 Tuukka Rask and co. (led by Adam McQuaid’s team-leading 64 blocks), of which 91.4% have been saved for 96 goals allowed.  Boston‘s penalty kill has been slightly better than average, allowing 23 goals on 127 opposing attempts for a 81.89% kill that leads the league average by 1.03%.

Their most recent showing was a 7-3 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday.

Some players to watch include Boston‘s Tuukka Rask (four shutouts [tied for third in the league]) and Montréal‘s P.K. Subban (25 assists [tied for seventh in the league]).

This will be the fourth meeting of the season between these two bitter rivals.  Montréal owns a 2-1-0 lead in the season series, but the most recent game, on December 9, was a 3-1 Boston victory in the Bell Centre.

It is hard to pick against the Bruins in today’s game.  Both their offense and defense is better than Montréal‘s, and the stands will definitely be filled with rowdy Patriots Bruins fans.  Expect Boston to pick up their first win of the New Year.

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