October 26 – Day 15 – The Boston-New York thing is happening again

We’ve got four games to choose from tonight! Montréal visits the New York Islanders at 7 p.m. (RDS/SN1), followed an hour later by Boston at the New York Rangers (NBCSN/TVAS). 9:30 p.m. brings with it Washington at Edmonton (SN1/SN360) and this evening’s nightcap, Nashville at Anaheim, drops the puck an hour later. All times eastern.

Short list:

  • Boston at New York: In addition to being hockey’s more recognized iteration of the Boston vs. New York rivalry, tonight also marks Dominic Moore‘s first return to Madison Square Garden, his home arena of the last three seasons.
  • Nashville at Anaheim: Remember the Western Quarterfinals a year ago? The Ducks wish you wouldn’t.

This may be Moore’s 10th team, but his story is worth repeating and makes the rivalry between these clubs a little bit more interesting.

Unknown-7New York Rangers Logo

 

 

 

 

 

Tonight is far from Moore’s first time in the visitor’s dressing room in Madison Square Garden – he’s done that 12 times before tonight with half as many teams. Heck, this isn’t even his first return to the World’s Most Famous Arena after time with the Blueshirts, as 2013-’15 was his second stint with the club.

What makes this game special is his signing his second contract with the Rangers in the summer of 2013. The last time Moore was on the ice, he was a member of the San Jose Sharks participating in the 2012 playoffs.

The gap year was far from recreational. Moore’s wife Katie was diagnosed with cancer. Instead of travel across the continent for a seven-month hockey season, he stayed by her side until she ultimately passed.

The Rangers took a chance with their third round pick in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft and signed him to a one-year deal after he had been off the ice for more than a year, and he didn’t disappoint. He scored 18 points (tied for 12th-most on the team) en route to the Bill Masterton Trophy, earning him a two-year extension. Following the 2015-’16 season, he signed with the Bruins during free agency.

Things haven’t been going so well in Boston, as the Bruins are 3-3-0 after last night’s 5-0 drubbing by the Wild. Their 18 goals-against ties them for 12th worst in the NHL, and that is made even worse by the fact that their three goals-against-per-game ranks even worse, tying for a bottom-11 standing.

Those numbers wouldn’t be quite as bad if the Bruins were scoring like they did last season when they fired 240 goals, the fifth-most in the NHL. This season’s 15 tallies ties for ninth-fewest, once again made worse when taking the number of games Boston has played into account. They average only 2.5 scores-per-game, the sixth-lowest rate in the league and worst in the Atlantic Division.

They’re led offensively by Brad Marchand‘s team-leading nine points and David Pastrnak‘s four goals.

On paper, the 4-2-0 Rangers look like they should be doing much better. They’ve scored the ninth-most goals this season, backed by the great Henrik Lundqvist, who’s led the goaltending department to allowing only 16 goals to tie for ninth-fewest.

They are led offensively by Chris Kreider‘s seven points. Additionally, Jimmy Vesey ties Kreider’s goal totals with three tallies.

Statistics can be misleading though. Even though the Rangers currently have the second-best standing in the Metropolitan Division, they have been unable to find sustained success. Until their last game, a 3-2 victory over the Coyotes, the Blueshirts would win a game, then lose a game. Win a game, then lose a game. Until they prove that they can play consistently, the Rangers are a difficult team to trust.

Some players to keep an eye on in tonight’s game include Boston‘s Marchand (nine points [tied for second-most in the NHL], including six assists [tied for third-most in the league] for a +8 [tied for third-best in the NHL]), Pastrnak (+8 [tied for third-best in the league]) and Tuukka Rask (three wins [tied for third-most in the NHL] on a .947 save percentage [fourth-best in the league] for a 1.67 GAA [tied for fourth-best in the NHL]) & New York‘s Lundqvist (three wins [tied for third-most in the league]).

Most establishments in Vegas mark bets as off in this contest, but I don’t think it’s the same scenario as when San Jose visited Pittsburgh last week. Given them riding their first win streak of the season, I’m leaning towards the home Rangers in this one.

Happy Birthday

  • Miikka Kiprusoff (1976-) – This Finnish goaltender spent nine of his 12 NHL seasons with Calgary, playing 576 games for the Flames. He’s also earned Team Finland three silver medals (two at the World Championships and the 2004 World Cup).

Troy Brouwer and Second Star of the Game Brian Elliott made good on their return to Scottrade Center in yesterday’s Game of the Day, leading the Flames to a 4-1 victory.

Third Star Dennis Wideman (Brouwer and John Gaudreau) scored a power play wrister only 3:54 after puck drop to give Calgary an early lead. With 9:30 remaining in the frame, Deryk Engelland (Kris Versteeg and First Star Sam Bennett) doubled the Flames‘ lead with the eventual game-winner, a score that would hold into intermission.

Only one goal was struck in the second period, belonging to the visiting squad. Bennett (Dougie Hamilton and Matthew Tkachuk) is the guilty party, scoring 2:16 after returning to the ice.

St. Louis finally got on the board at the 5:49 mark of the final frame with a Kevin Shattenkirk (Vladimir Tarasenko and Colton Parayko) power play wrister, but Gaudreau (Matt Stajan and Micheal Ferland) scored on an empty net with 71 seconds remaining to end any chance of a Blues comeback.

Elliott earns the win after saving 23-of-24 shots faced (95.8%), while Carter Hutton takes the loss, saving 26-of-29 (89.7%).

Calgary‘s win sets the DtFR Game of the Day series at 10-6-1, but that still favors the home sides by four points.