February 7 – Day 115 – Super Bowl Sunday

The New Jersey Devils took the Washington Capitals to a shootout, but were not able to prevent them from taking two points away from The Rock.

The first goal didn’t come until 32:30 were played, by way of a Andre Burakovsky deflection, assisted by Justin Williams and Evgeny Kuznetsov (his 37th helper of the season) to give the Caps a one-goal lead.  It was the only tally of the second period.

New Jersey finally got on the board after 41:51 of play, a tip-in from Joseph Blandisi, assisted by Travis Zajac (his 18th helper of the season) and Jacob Josefson.  5:56 later, Adam Henrique fired a wrister to give the Devils the lead, assisted by Blandisi and Lee Stempniak (his 24th helper of the season).  Washington leveled the score at the 14:07 mark when Paul Carey scored his first goal of the year, a wrister off assists from Matt Niskanen (his 20th helper of the season) and Brooks Laich.  The two-all score held to the end of regulation, and not a goal was scored in overtime.

T.J. Oshie and Alex Ovechkin both converted their shootout attempts, which bested New Jersey‘s lone shootout goal from Reid Boucher.

Braden Holtby earns the win by saving 22 of 24 (91.7%), while Cory Schneider takes the loss after saving 27 of 29 (93.1%).

The DtFR Game of the Day series now stands at 51-24-10, favoring the home squad by 37 points over the roadies.

Especially to all the American readers, happy Super Bowl Sunday!  As usual, the NHL has a light schedule today, which is always wise with that type of competition.  In fact, the NHL has already planned ahead and scheduled all the games before the coin toss, so us sports fans won’t miss a thing!  The first game, Philadelphia at Washington, drops the puck at noon eastern on NBC, and today’s nightcaps (more like afternooncaps) start at 2:30  p.m. eastern (Carolina at Montréal and Edmonton at the New York Islanders).

Only Philadelphia at Washington is a divisional matchup, and no games feature both teams in the playoffs.

I fully acknowledge that I’m biased since I’ve lived in the Carolinas for over six years, but I can’t say I’m big enough to not let it affect my decision for today (Go Panthers!).  There’s a reason the Hurricanes haven’t been in red!

Carolina Hurricanes LogoUnknown

 

 

 

This afternoon’s game will be only Carolina‘s third appearance in the Game of the Day series, where they currently own a 0-1-1 record.  Their most recent appearance was when they hosted the Canucks, but fell 3-2 in overtime, on January 15.  On the other hand, Montréal has been featured eight times before today’s game, and own a 6-2-0 record in such games.  Their most recent showing in the series was on January 19, when they fell 4-1 on home ice to the arch-rival Bruins.

The 24-21-8 Carolina Hurricanes are currently the second team out of the Eastern Conference playoffs, occupying sixth in the Metropolitan Division and 10th in the conference.  It is interesting that they are in such a good position, seeing as they have scored the ninth-fewest goals and given up the ninth-most.

Led by Ron Hainsey’s 79 blocks, the Canes have allowed only 1409 shots to reach 15-11-5 Cam Ward and co., of which they’ve collectively saved 90.3% for 141 goals against, ninth-most in the NHL.  Carolina‘s penalty kill is the 15th best, nullifying 81.06% of penalties for only 25 extra-man goals against.

The offense hasn’t been much better, scoring only 129 goals so far this season, led by Jeff Skinner’s 18 tallies.  They’ve found that total by keeping decent pressure on opposing netminders, firing 1594 shots (led by Justin Faulk’s 160), connecting on 8.1%.  Probably the biggest issue Carolina faces is their power play, or lack thereof.  It is the third-worst in the league, scoring on only 16.36% of attempts for only 27 power play tallies (led by Faulk’s 12).

Carolina won their most recent game, a 5-3 victory in Winnipeg, on Friday.  While a win does not propel the Canes into the playoff bracket, it does have the potential to get them within a point of the second wildcard.

The 25-24-4 Montréal Canadiens currently sit in fifth place in the Atlantic Division and 12th in the Eastern Conference, trailing the second wildcard position by five points.  The Habs‘ offense ranks 10th best so far this season in goals scored, but the defense has given up the ninth-most goals.

Led by Max Pacioretty’s 204 shots, the Canadiens have fired a whopping 1656 shots so far this season, but only 8.3% have found the back of the net for 137 goals.  Most of Montréal‘s offensive issues stem from their power play, currently ranked 15th worst in the league.  They’ve converted on only 17.98% this season, scoring 32 power play goals.

Led by Andrei Markov’s 84 blocks, the Habs have allowed only 1431 shots to reach 13-15-4 Mike Condon and co., of which they’ve collectively saved only 90.8% for 141 goals against.  Although the goalkeeper play has not been as strong overall this season, things have still been going Montréal‘s way on the penalty kill, which ranks sixth-best in the league.  They’ve killed 83.13% of opposing opportunities, for only 28 goals against.  To make matters even better, Montréal has also scored eight shorthanded goals, led by Paul Byron’s three shorties.

Going back to before the All-Star Break, the Habs have lost four straight, with their most recent being a 4-2 defeat at the hands of the Sabres on Wednesday.  Many of the media are pulling the plug on the Habs, which I partially understand.  Condon has showed his youth and regressed to the mean, and it does not help that the power play has virtually disappeared on the other end.  That being said, I’m not 100% ready to give up on the Canadiens.  The penalty kill has played incredibly all season, and the offense is still more than capable of putting pressure on the opposition.  Carey Price was seen on the ice yesterday, and if he can return soon and play the way he did at the beginning of the season, I believe the Canadiens can at least make a solid run at qualifying for the playoffs.

This is the second of two meetings this season between these two squads. Carolina won on home ice 3-2 December 5.

Some players to keep an eye on include Carolina‘s Faulk (34 points, 12 of which were power play goals, on 160 shots and 93 hits [all lead the team]) and Montréal‘s P.K. Subban (36 assists [fourth-most in the league]).

I know that they’ve gotten a lot of bad coverage in the media lately, but I think Montréal can win this game.  Not only are they going to be at home (hopefully in front of optimistic fans), but they are going up against a team not exactly known for their scoring ability.

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