Sick Hand of the Month-Toews’ Monster Month Doesn’t Steal From Burns’ 5th Appearance on SHotM

Hey, everyone, I’m back this week for the second Sick Hands of The Month! If you forgot what that was, here is a quick reminder: So what I’m basically going to do is pick a player from each position on the ice (Left Wing, Center, Right Wing, two defenders, and a goalie). Then it’s basically the same thing as the normal “SHS” where I recap why I picked them and highlight their best games, goals, assists, etc. This Sick Hands of the Month is going to range from the last time I put one out (1/25-2/25). (A quick side note, sorry I’m a week late getting this out, I got all caught up being sick last week and it’s been a mess and I haven’t found time to write it out but here I go!)

laine

benntoews

114706132x                                                                        erik                                                             holtby

Jonathan Toews – Center (CHI) The reason why I picked this big broad lad out of Winnipeg, Canada was because this guy was on fire this past month! When I mean fire like he couldn’t be stopped and for a good reason too. Toews recorded a total of 16 points in just a span of 11 games this past month and those 16 points were made up of 6 goals and 10 assists. He also had a total of five power play points with two of them being goals over this past calendar month as well as two game-winning goals and an overtime goal.  Also, Toews has torn it up in his past five games registering a total of ELEVEN points in that span, consisting of five goals and six assists. He also had a five-point night made up of a hat trick and two assists in a game against Minnesota on February 21st. So you can clearly tell that Captian Serious as they like to call him up in Chicago is coming into form down the stretch and killing the game.

Jamie Benn – Left Wing (DAL) I picked this STAR-studded player (see what I did there?) It’s okay I’ll let myself out now that was a terrible pun but I had to write it in. But I picked Benn because like Toews he himself had a killer month and it was fantastic to watch because I love watching Benn and he killed it. Been tallied the same number of points as Toews did this past month at 16 total in 12 games, but Benn did it differently as his 16 was made up of nine goals and seven assists. Benn also had a total of seven points on the manpower advantage with three of them turning into goals. He also followed in Toews footsteps and tallied two game-winning goals and one overtime goal as well. In Benn’s last five games he hasn’t been as on fire, but still pretty good at six points made up of three goals and three assists apiece. So as Benn and the Stars start to heat up look for them down to make a push to a playoff spot.

Patrik Laine – Right Wing (WPG) First off, this rookie is just been sensational to watch play, I mean every time I get a chance to watch him play my eyes are glued to the TV. Every time I see a highlight, my eyes are glued to my phone, he is a freak athlete and great for just a rookie. But enough of praising him let’s get to his stats shall we? In this past month Laine took a page out of Benn’s and Toews book and decided to tally 16 points as well and he also did it in just 12 games like Benn. Another funny thing is that he, like Benn, registered nine goals and seven assists to make up his total points. Although his other stats were down, he only tallied one power play point which was a goal and one game-winning goal. But his last five games are where he caught fire, and I mean burnt up! Laine recorded 10 points in his last five games which were made up of seven goals and three assists! So he is in the same boat as Benn is, if Laine continues to play like this and the rookie can rally the troops around his play, the Jets can make a push for the playoffs once again.

Brent Burns – Defense (SJS) DEAR LORD, would you look who it is, it’s Brent Burns! I need to ask my readers a question, are you really astonished that he’s on here again, or should we just start getting used to seeing his name? Don’t worry, I’ll wait for an answer….the answer is probably an astounding NO we aren’t surprised. Because that has been my answer for a while now. But yes, Mr. Burns appears on Sick Hands of the Month for the FIFTH month in a row because he was on yet another rampage during this month of hockey. Burns finished this month tied for the lead in points by D-men with 13 points in 11 games that were made up by six goals and seven points. He also had four power play points where one of them became a goal as well as one overtime goal. In Burns’ last five games he tallied eight points in that span which came from five goals and three assists. The Sharks are loving this play from Burns as I am sure everyone one is and if he keeps playing like this I am just going to pencil his name in every month.

Erik Karlsson – Defense (OTT) Hey look who it is, we’ve seen Mr. Karlsson here a couple times before and I am honestly not surprised he’s here again. These two guys are the best two offensive defenders in the league and it shows it. Karlsson had another great month and was tied with Burns in points for the month with 13 points in 13 games made up of only three goals but a whopping 10 assists! Karlsson also copied Burns this month and finished with four power play tallied and one of them turning out to be a geno as well as one game-winning goal! In Karlsson’s last five games, he recorded six points in that span made up of two goals and four assists. The Senators are in a heated race with the Canadiens for first place in the Atlantic and are only separated by four points at the moment. So if Karlsson keeps up his play, we could see a turnaround!

Braden Holtby – Goalie (WSH) The reason why I picked this star goaltender is simply easy. He was the best goalie this month by far and I will tell you just that and a little more. In the last month, Holtby has started and played in nine games and gone 8-0-1 in those games with an impressive .923 save percentage and a solid 1.99 goals against average. He also stopped a total of 216 shots out of 234 in the month and only gave up 18 total goals in that span which was the least amount given up for all goalie in the past month. In Holtby’s past five games he has gone 4-0-1 with one of them being an overtime loss. In his past three games, he’s faced 23 shots or more and hasn’t given up more than two goals in the process. If the Capitals are looking to make a deep run this year, I think it will happen if Holtby keeps up this great play.

February 28 – Day 132 – Shattenkirk welcome tour

Tuesdays are absolutely fantastic, aren’t they? Anything is better than Monday, and the NHL makes that even better by usually scheduling a wide slate of games that night. That action gets a strong start at 7 p.m. with four games (Washington at the New York Rangers [SN1/TVAS], Nashville at Buffalo, Colorado at Philadelphia [NBCSN] and Arizona at Boston), followed half an hour later by another pair of contests (Carolina at Florida and Columbus at Montréal [RDS]). 8 p.m. marks the puck drop of two matchups (Edmonton at St. Louis and Minnesota at Winnipeg), with Pittsburgh at Dallas trailing 30 minutes after. Los Angeles at Calgary (SN1) gets green-lit at 9 p.m., followed an hour later by Detroit at Vancouver. Finally, Toronto at San Jose – tonight’s nightcap – gets underway at 10:30 p.m. All times eastern.

Rivalry nights mean only more with the ultra-competitive nature of the Metropolitan Division this season. Looks like we’re headed to Madison Square Garden.

Washington Capitals LogoNew York Rangers Logo

 

It seems impossible to believe, but this is the first time this season Down the Frozen River has featured a CapitalsRangers matchup. In our defense, we’ve only had two previous opportunities, but that’s no excuse given the incredible hockey being played by both clubs this season.

While this rivalry has technically existed since the 1980s, it’s really heated up since 2009 with the clubs meeting in the playoffs five times from ’09-’15. Mix in the fact that they’ve played in the same division since 2014, and you get one of the better matchups of the season.

So far, it’s been all New York when these teams compete, as they’ve won both games by a combined 6-3 score. They last met only Sundays ago on February 19 at the World’s Most Famous Arena, where the Blueshirts won 2-1 in front of their usual 18,006 fans.

Before hopping into Washington‘s preview, I’d be remiss to ignore the fact that the Capitals came away with the big shiny prize of the 2017 trade deadline: defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, formerly of the Blues. Shatty, as he was affectionately known in St. Louis, had the second most points (42) on the club this season, including seven power play goals. His move reunites him with the injured T.J. Oshie, another former fan-favorite in the Gateway to the West.

In comparison, the Capitals‘ best offensive blueliner before Shattenkirk’s arrival was the injured Matt Niskanen, who had 32 points and only one tally on the man-advantage. As if Washington needed help scoring the puck, this move certainly puts them in an even better position in those regards. Shattenkirk also has the added luxury of leaving one solid defensive corps and joining another. This is important, as his offensive contributions can often cause a negligence on the defensive end, made evident by his -11 mark – the second-worst in St. Louis among all players.

As for the Caps as a whole, they’re just the best team in hockey getting better. To put it simply, their 41-13-7 record gives them a three-point lead over Minnesota for the Presidents’ Trophy, and with that comes a lead in the Metropolitan Division and the Eastern Conference. As imposing a reputation as Washington‘s offense has, it’s actually been the defense and goaltending leading the charge this year, as the Capitals have allowed only 128 goals against – the fewest in the NHL.

It is truly an understatement to say that 31-8-5 Braden Holtby is good at his job. Not only are his .928 save percentage and 1.97 GAA the best marks in Washington, they’re also fourth and tops, respectively, in the league. Vezinas don’t win themselves, you know.

As stated before, Holtby also has the added luxury of one of the top defensive units playing in front of him. Led by Karl Alzner‘s 122 shot blocks, Washington‘s blueline-corps has allowed only 28 shots-per-game to reach Holtby’s crease, which ties for the fifth-best rate – with St. Louis, ironically – in the league.

That success carries right over into the penalty kill, where the Capitals rank seventh-best after stopping 83.8% of opposing power plays. Just as he is at even-strength, Alzner is a brick wall of a shot blocker, as his 32 rejections are most in Washington.

What should be alarming to the Rangers is that the Caps‘ power play is even better than their penalty kill. Successful on 21.8% of attempts, Washington is sixth-best with an extra-man at their disposal. Nicklas Backstrom headlines the power play with his 23 man-advantage points, but we all know who’s scoring all the goals in these situations. It’s none other than Alex Ovechkin, who has a dozen goals on the power play – almost all of them probably from his spot in the left face-off circle.

Their the scary monsters of the league, but it seems the 40-20-2 Rangers are unfazed by the daunting task of taking down the Caps as they’ve already bested them twice this season. Currently occupying fourth place in both the Metropolitan and the East, the Blueshirts are most known for their offense, which has managed a whopping 203 tallies this year – the second-most in the NHL.

How many third lines can you think of that are as intimidating as this one? The Rangers have found scoring magic this season, specifically with J.T. Miller, whose 47 points are tops on the club. Most of Miller’s points are assists, as he prefers to set up fellow wing Michael Grabner, who does a great job of finishing plays. He has 26 goals to his credit – all but one at even-strength – to lay claim to the squad’s scoring title.

Some players to keep an eye on this evening include New York‘s Grabner (+28 [eighth-best in the league]) and Henrik Lundqvist (28 wins [seventh-most in the NHL]) or Antti Raanta (.92 save percentage [10th-best in the league]) & Washington‘s Backstrom (45 assists [tied for second-most in the NHL] for 63 points [sixth-most in the league]), Holtby (1.97 GAA [best in the NHL], including seven shutouts [tied for most in the league], on a .928 save percentage [fourth-best in the NHL] for 31 wins [tied for third-most in the league]), Dmitry Orlov (+28 [tied for eighth-best in the NHL]) and Ovechkin (27 goals [tied for eighth-most in the league]).

You know what a -110 line in Vegas says to me tonight? “We’re going to favor the Rangers on home ice, but we don’t feel very confident that they can hold their own against Washington.” It’s rarely wise to bet against the Caps, and I wouldn’t advise it this evening.

Hockey Birthday

  • Eric Lindros (1973-) – One of the most recent Hall of Fame inductees, this center was selected first-overall in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft by Quebec. Playing most of his 13-season career in Philadelphia, the six-time All-Star was the recipient of the Hart and Pearson Trophies in 1995.

In a back-and-forth match like we witnessed in yesterday’s DtFR Game of the Day, it almost always boils down who scores last. That proved to be First Star of the Game Mikael Granlund, who’s tally a dozen seconds into overtime secured Minnesota a 5-4 victory over the visiting Kings.

The Wild actually never led yesterday’s contest until the 60:12 mark, as it was Nick Shore (Marian Gaborik and Jake Muzzin) who struck the first goal, a snap shot 8:15 into play. Nino Niederreiter (Third Star Jared Spurgeon and Second Star Ryan White) pulled Minnesota even 4:45 later, but an unassisted Tanner Pearson deflection with 4:59 remaining in the first frame set the score at 2-1, the count that held to the first intermission.

Once again the Wild tied the game, this time on a Jordan Schroeder (Chris Stewart) deflection 4:23 into the second period. That 2-2 draw held until 8:30 remained in the frame. That’s when Muzzin (Nic Dowd and Dwight King) scored a deflection to once again give Los Angeles a one-goal lead. 1:35 later, Minnesota‘s White (Eric Staal) pulled the Wild into a tie – again. The three-all score held into the second intermission.

Minnesota scored last, so… Cue Gaborik (Shore and Trevor Lewis), who buried a wrist shot 1:57 after returning from the break. The pattern struck one more time only 5:07 later, as Jason Zucker (Tyler Graovac and Schroeder) buried a wicked turn-around wrister to tie the game. It was so good, in fact, that you need to see it for yourself.

Overtime lasted only 12 seconds before Granlund (Spurgeon and Mikko Koivu) powered his way through two Kings before burying a wrister past Jonathan Quick to secure the bonus point for the Wild.

Devan Dubnyk earned the victory after saving 26-of-30 shots faced (86.7%), leaving the overtime loss to Quick, who saved 30-of-35 (85.7%).

For the first time in 10 days, a home team in the DtFR Game of the Day series has finally held serve and earned two points on its own ice. Minnesota‘s victory pulls hosts within 10 points of the 69-43-22 roadies.

TBT: 2016 Trade Deadline Recap

Can’t seem to recall what happened at last year’s trade deadline? Fear not, because we remember everything.

Below is a recap of all the trades made the day of the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline.

2016 NHL Trade Deadline- February 29, 2016

UnknownAnaheim Ducks

Acquired: F Jamie McGinn from Buffalo.

F Brandon Pirri from Florida.

F Corey Tropp from Chicago.

D Martin Gernat and a 2016 4th round pick from Edmonton.

Traded: A 6th round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft to Florida

A conditional 2016 3rd round pick to Buffalo.

F Tim Jackman and a 2017 7th round pick to Chicago.

F Patrick Maroon to Edmonton.

Arizona_Coyotes.svgArizona Coyotes

Acquired: F Sergei Plotnikov from Pittsburgh.

F Alex TanguayF Conner Bleackley and D Kyle Wood from Colorado.

F Matia Marcantuoni from Pittsburgh.

Future considerations from Arizona.

Traded: F Matthias Plachta and a 7th round pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft to Pittsburgh.

F Mikkel Boedker to Colorado.

F Dustin JeffreyF Dan O’Donoghue and D James Melindy to Pittsburgh.

D Corey Potter to Nashville.

UnknownBoston Bruins

Acquired: D John-Michael Liles from Carolina.

F Lee Stempniak from New Jersey.

Traded: F Anthony Camara, a 3rd round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft and a 5th round pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft to Carolina.

2017 2nd round pick and 2016 4th round pick to New Jersey.

Buffalo Sabres LogoBuffalo Sabres

Acquired: A conditional 2016 3rd round pick from Anaheim.

Traded: F Jamie McGinn to Anaheim.

Unknown-4.pngCalgary Flames

Acquired: D Jyrki JokipakkaD Brett Pollock and a conditional 2nd round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft from Dallas.

G Niklas Backstrom and a 2016 6th round pick from Minnesota.

Traded: D Kris Russell to Dallas.

F David Jones to Minnesota.

Carolina Hurricanes LogoCarolina Hurricanes

Acquired: F Anthony Camara, a 3rd round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft and a 5th round pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft from Boston.

D Dennis Robertson from Chicago.

Traded: D John-Michael Liles to Boston.

G Drew MacIntyre to Chicago.

Unknown-2Chicago Blackhawks

Acquired: G Drew MacIntyre from Carolina.

F Tim Jackman and a 2017 7th round pick from Anaheim.

Traded: D Dennis Robertson to Carolina.

F Corey Tropp to Anaheim.

Unknown-1.pngColorado Avalanche

Acquired: F Taylor Beck from New York (I).

F Mikkel Boedker from Arizona.

D Eric Gelinas from New Jersey.

Traded: Marc-Andre Cliche to New York (I).

F Alex TanguayF Conner Bleackley and D Kyle Wood to Arizona.

2017 3rd round pick to New Jersey.

Columbus Blue Jackets LogoColumbus Blue Jackets

Did not make a trade at the deadline.

CJhyiLmKDallas Stars

Acquired: D Kris Russell from Calgary.

Traded: D Jyrki JokipakkaD Brett Pollock and a conditional 2nd round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft to Calgary.

Unknown.pngDetroit Red Wings

Did not make a trade at the deadline.

200px-Logo_Edmonton_Oilers.svgEdmonton Oilers

Acquired: F Patrick Maroon from Anaheim.

Traded: D Martin Gernat and a 2016 4th round pick to Anaheim.

Unknown-2Florida Panthers

Acquired:6th round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft from Anaheim.

Traded: F Brandon Pirri to Anaheim.

Unknown-3.pngLos Angeles Kings

Acquired: F Brett Sutter from Minnesota.

Traded: F Scott Sabourin to Minnesota.

Unknown-2.pngMinnesota Wild

Acquired: F Scott Sabourin from Los Angeles.

F Michael Keränen from Ottawa.

F David Jones from Calgary.

Traded: F Brett Sutter to Los Angeles.

D Conor Allen to Ottawa.

G Niklas Backstrom and a 2016 6th round pick to Calgary.

UnknownMontreal Canadiens

Acquired: F Stefan Matteau from New Jersey.

Traded: F Devante Smith-Pelly to New Jersey.

UnknownNashville Predators

Acquired: D Corey Potter from Arizona.

Traded: Future considerations from Arizona.

New Jersey Devils LogoNew Jersey Devils

Acquired: 2017 3rd round pick from Colorado.

2017 2nd round pick and 2016 4th round pick from Boston.

F Devante Smith-Pelly from Montreal.

Traded: D Eric Gelinas to Colorado.

F Lee Stempniak to Boston.

F Stefan Matteau to Montreal.

New York Islanders LogoNew York Islanders

Acquired: F Marc-Andre Cliche from Colorado.

F Shane Prince and a 2016 7th round pick from Ottawa.

Traded: F Taylor Beck to Colorado.

2016 3rd round pick to Ottawa.

New York Rangers LogoNew York Rangers

Did not make a trade at the deadline.

Unknown-2Ottawa Senators

Acquired: D Conor Allen from Minnesota.

2016 3rd round pick from New York (I).

Traded: F Michael Keränen to Minnesota.

F Shane Prince and a 2016 7th round pick to New York (I).

 

Philadelphia Flyers LogoPhiladelphia Flyers

Did not make a trade at the deadline.

Pittsburgh Penguins LogoPittsburgh Penguins

Acquired: F Matthias Plachta and a 7th round pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft from Arizona .

F Dustin JeffreyF Dan O’Donoghue and D James Melindy from Arizona.

Traded: F Sergei Plotnikov to Arizona.

F Matia Marcantuoni to Arizona.

Unknown-3San Jose Sharks

Did not make a trade at the deadline.

Unknown-1St. Louis Blues

Did not make a trade at the deadline.

Unknown-1Tampa Bay Lightning

Did not make a trade at the deadline.

Unknown-3Toronto Maple Leafs

Did not make a trade at the deadline.

Unknown-1Vancouver Canucks

Did not make a trade at the deadline.

Washington Capitals LogoWashington Capitals

Did not make a trade at the deadline.

Unknown-3Winnipeg Jets

Did not make a trade at the deadline.

February 27 – Day 131 – Qui(c)k Trip to Minnesota

This Monday in the NHL is no different than many of the others in that there aren’t too many games on the schedule this evening. The staggered starts begin at 7 p.m. with Montréal at New Jersey (RDS), followed half an hour later by Ottawa at Tampa Bay (RDS2). Finally, tonight’s nightcap – Los Angeles at Minnesota (NBCSN/TVAS) – drops the puck at 8 p.m. All times eastern.

Jonathan Quick‘s triumphant return to the ice Saturday has significantly increased Los Angeles‘ chances of making the playoffs, but they face a stiff test against the Wild tonight. What better way to see if they’re up to the task for a magical run?

Unknown-3Unknown-2

 

Just as I was prepared to count the Kings out of this year’s edition of the Stanley Cup playoffs, Quick reemerged from injured reserve and proved he is more than capable of resuming the high quality play we know he’s capable of. He proved that by allowing only one tally against the Ducks.

He resumes control of a team 30-27-4 Kings team that is currently three points outside a playoff spot, as it’s only fifth-best in the Pacific Division and ninth-best in the Western Conference. Unfortunately for Los Angeles, Quick’s return probably will have little impact on the offense, where it needs the most help. The Kings have managed only 149 goals  in 61 games this season, which ties for the sixth-worst scoring rate in the NHL.

The issue becomes immediately apparent when one analyzes the Kings‘ individual performances. Jeff Carter has had an incredible season and is far-and-away Los Angeles‘ brightest spot as his 30 goals and 55 points are both team-highs. But he leads second-best Tanner Pearson by 11 tallies and 18 points, a wildly large disparity.

Compare that same differential to Minnesota‘s much more well-rounded attack. Mikael Granlund, the Wild‘s leading point-scorer, has 55 points to his name, only nine more than Mikko Koivu. Similarly, he and Nino Niederreiter – who both have 19 tallies – lead Jason Zucker‘s effort by only one goal.

Not surprisingly, the offense continues to struggle even when presented with the man-advantage. Even with Carter’s 16 power play points and nine extra-man goals, the Kings have found success only 16.7% of the time, the seventh-worst rate in the league.

What’s kept Los Angeles alive this season is that as bad as the power play has been, the penalty kill has been good. Led by Alec Martinez‘ 26 shorthanded shot blocks, the Kings have properly defended 84.5% of opposing power plays, the fifth-best effort in the NHL.

Of course, no matter how good Quick looked against Anaheim, the Wild is a far superior opponent. Even more alarming, it’s not even the offense that makes this team the best team in both the Central Division and the West. Instead, it’s the incredible play of their netminder, who has allowed only 136 goals against – the second-fewest in the league.

To put things simply, 32-11-3 Devan Dubnyk has been one of, if not the best goaltender in the NHL this season. Not only is his .933 save percentage and 2.01 GAA the best in the State of Hockey, but they’re also the best and second-best marks, respectively, in the league.

His effort is made only more impressive by the fact that he faces an average of 31 shots-per-game, the (t)10th-highest rate in the NHL. Jared Spurgeon has done all he can to limit his netminder’s work with 106 shot blocks, but he’s the only skater with more than 80 to his credit. But, with as well as Dubnyk, is playing, I doubt Bruce Boudreau will hear him complain too much.

The Wild continue to be an impenetrable force even when they’re down a man, as their 83.1% penalty kill rate is 10th-best in the league. Just has he does at even-strength, Spurgeon headlines the penalty kill, as his 15 shorthanded blocks lead the club.

The Wild‘s penalty kill is good, maybe even great, but their power play is even better. Actually, to be more specific, it’s tied for best in the league with Toronto, as both are successful on 22.8% of attempts. Granlund headlines that attack with his 17 power play points, but it’s Niederreiter who will keep Quick on his toes. The Swiss wing has buried eight extra-man goals, the most on the squad.

On January 7, the Wild made their annual trek to the Staples Center to face Los Angeles, and they almost came away with two points. Instead, Pearson scored an overtime winner to give the Kings a 4-3 victory.

Some players to keep an eye on this evening include Los Angeles‘ Carter (30 goals [tied for second-most in the league]) & Minnesota‘s Dubnyk (32 wins on a .933 save percentage [both best in the NHL] and a 2.01 GAA [second-best in the league], including five shutouts [tied for fourth-most in the NHL]), Granlund (+29 [seventh-best in the league]), Koivu (+30 [sixth-best in the NHL]), Spurgeon (+32 [tied for second-best in the league]), Ryan Suter (+33 [best in the NHL]) and Zucker (+32 [tied for second-best in the league]).

With Minnesota favored -145 by Vegas, I’d be very surprised if the Kings manage to even force overtime this evening. Abysmal might be a compliment for this offense, and it will be made only worse by the overpowering play of Dubnyk. The Wild should continue to fight for the Western lead with relative ease this evening.

Hockey Birthday

  • Braydon Coburn (1985-) – Currently playing his third season in Tampa Bay, this defenseman was originally selected eighth-overall by Atlanta in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. Most of his 12-season career was spent in Philadelphia, and he was a member of that 2010 Flyers team that won the Eastern Conference from the seven-seed.
  • Dustin Jeffrey (1988-) – Drafted in the sixth-round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft by Pittsburgh, he last appeared in the league with Arizona in the 2015-’16 season.

Twice scoring two goals in a period, the Columbus Blue Jackets took it to the Rangers in Madison Square Garden in yesterday’s DtFR Game of the Day, winning 5-2.

Only 1:02 into the game, First Star of the Game Alexander Wennberg (David Savard and Oliver Bjorkstrand) got the Jackets‘ attack started with a tip-in tally. Rick Nash (Jimmy Vesey and Derek Stepan) pulled New York back even with his snap shot 3:05 later, but a Second Star Cam Atkinson (Sam Gagner and Zach Werenski) power play snapper at the 6:47 mark once again gave the Blue Jackets a lead. That 2-1 score held into the first intermission.

The same man to strike first in the opening frame took credit for the lone tally of the second. Wennberg’s (Bjorkstrand) 12th goal of the year was a backhanded shot at the 9:47 mark of the period, and proved to be the eventual game-winner.

The Wennberg-Atkinson pattern continued 4:12 into the final frame, as Atkinson (Brandon Dubinsky) buried a snapper to give Columbus a 4-1 lead. With 24 seconds remaining in the game, Josh Anderson (William Karlsson and Scott Hartnell) scored the Jackets‘ final tally of the night, followed by Jesper Fast‘s (Marc Staal and Oscar Lindberg) goal with a second remaining on the clock.

Third Star Sergei Bobrovsky earned the victory after saving 28-of-30 shots faced (93.3%), leaving the loss to Henrik Lundqvist, who saved 21-of-26 (80.8%).

It’s been nine days since a road team in the DtFR Game of the Day series has lost. That incredible streak has given the 69-43-21 visitors an 11-point lead over hosts.

2017 NHL Trade Deadline Preview: Pacific Division

Unknown1. San Jose Sharks– 36-18-7 (79 points, 61 GP)

The San Jose Sharks are exactly where they want to be this time around at the trade deadline. Wednesday is sure to be a busy day around the league, but don’t expect to hear much out of San Jose– not just because of the lack of salary cap space, but rather, because the Sharks don’t have to all that much, if anything at all.

San Jose has a plethora of pending free agents to re-sign this summer and much more to worry about potentially losing to the incoming Vegas Golden Knights at the expansion draft in June. So yeah, feel things out if you must, but the Sharks really shouldn’t try to mix things up.

Potential assets to trade: D Justin Braun, D David Schlemko

Potential assets to acquire: F Radim Vrbata (ARI), F Thomas Vanek (DET), F Ryan Strome (NYI), F Scottie Upshall (STL), F Brian Boyle (TB)

Unknown-12. Anaheim Ducks– 32-21-10 (74 points, 63 GP)

Barring the team’s looming salary cap maze, the Anaheim Ducks aren’t in that bad of a position heading into this season’s trade deadline. They’re quietly going about the year as one of the league’s best teams and competing stride for stride with San Jose and Edmonton for dominance in the Pacific Division.

Anaheim clearly doesn’t need to sell and it would appear as though they don’t have that much to move– with the exception of draft picks– in order to bring anything substantial in for the long run. The Ducks should look to add without subtracting and continue to add another depth rental player, like they did the other day in a trade with the Dallas Stars for veteran forward, Patrick Eaves.

Potential assets to trade: F Jared Boll, F Ryan Garbutt, D Shea Theodore

Potential assets to acquire: F Radim Vrbata (ARI), D Joe Morrow (BOS), D Taylor Fedun (BUF), F Jarome Iginla (COL), D Johnny Oduya (DAL), F Thomas Vanek (DET), D Nick Jensen (DET), D Yannick Weber (NSH), F Scottie Upshall (STL)

Unknown-53. Edmonton Oilers– 33-22-8 (74 points, 63 GP)

Edmonton Oilers general manager, Peter Chiarelli, has certainly turned the team around in his short time in the northern most organization in the NHL. Yes, it helps that Connor McDavid is an Oiler, however Edmonton is seeing some depth in their roster and that’s something that hasn’t been seen since their 2006 Stanley Cup Final run. Granted, I’m not saying they’ll go that far this year.

A quick glance at their roster reveals that the Oilers have room to grow and develop, in addition to deal. Yes, even as one of the top teams in the Pacific Division, I believe Edmonton will move at least one “major” piece.

Similar in nature to the Taylor Hall trade in the offseason that brought in Adam Larsson on defense, the Oilers are bound to make a big splash at this year’s trade deadline that just might put them over the edge of a fringe playoff team (in terms of predicted success) to a contender that has a chance of at least making the second round.

Potential assets to trade: F Jordan Eberle, F Matt Hendricks, F Mark Letestu, D Mark Fayne

Potential assets to acquire: D Justin Faulk (CAR), F Matt Duchene (COL), F Jarome Iginla (COL), F Gabriel Landeskog (COL), F Patrick Sharp (DAL), F Thomas Vanek (DET), F Ryan Strome (NYI), F Brandon Pirri (NYR), F Curtis Lazar (OTT), D Kevin Shattenkirk (STL), F Tyler Johnson (TB), F Ondrej Palat (TB)

Unknown-44. Calgary Flames — 33-26-4 (70 points, 63 GP)– currently hold the first Wild Card in the Western Conference

It wouldn’t hurt the Calgary Flames to add a missing component or two, except for the fact that the Flames have $0 in cap space. Seriously. Calgary is right up against the ceiling in salary and they don’t exactly have anything worth selling, considering how close the battle in the Pacific Division is, let alone the fight for a Wild Card spot in the entire Western Conference.

A year after trading Kris Russell (and making it look like a steal), the Flames acquired the rental defenseman– with a chance of becoming a more permanent blue liner in Calgary, depending on his audition for the role– Michael Stone from the Arizona Coyotes about a week ago.

Brian Burke has some interesting decisions to make, in regards to pending free agents, as well as what direction he might take the team on March 1st. Whether they will become serious playoff contenders or early playoff dropouts (or even make the playoffs at all) remains to be seen.

Potential assets to trade: F Brandon Bollig, F Lance Bouma, D Deryk Engelland

Potential assets to acquire: D Joe Morrow (BOS), F Jarome Iginla (COL), F Ryan Strome (NYI), D Dennis Seidenberg (NYI), F Curtis Lazar (OTT), F Scottie Upshall (STL)

Unknown-35. Los Angeles Kings– 30-27-4 (64 points, 61 GP)

Well… What I had originally planned to say is irrelevant now.

The Los Angeles Kings made quite a splash on Sunday, acquiring G Ben Bishop from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for G Peter Budaj, D Erik Cernak, a 2017 7th round draft pick and a conditional 2017 draft pick. Los Angeles also acquired a 2017 5th round pick in the deal.

While the Kings need a goal scorer, they opted to go boldly in the opposite direction, by bringing in a quality goaltender who will now compete for time with the recent return of Jonathan Quick. Perhaps they are pushing Quick to regain his competitiveness sooner rather than later at such a late point in the season? Perhaps they are testing Quick’s durability with an audition from Bishop in case Quick isn’t as healthy as we think.

Nobody knows but Los Angeles’s front office (we can assume/hope). Despite the move and lack of salary cap room, the Kings could still have another move up their sleeve on Wednesday.

Potential assets to trade: F Dustin Brown, F Dwight King, F Trevor Lewis, F Jordan Nolan, D Brayden McNabb

Potential assets to acquire: F Matt Duchene (COL), F Jarome Iginla (COL), F Gabriel Landeskog (COL), F Patrick Sharp (DAL), F Thomas Vanek (DET), F Ryan Strome (NYI), F Brian Boyle (TB)

Unknown6. Vancouver Canucks– 26-29-6 (58 points, 61 GP)

It is a well known fact that the Vancouver Canucks have been a dumpster fire at asset management for the last few years, so why not burn everything down at this point?

The Canucks will be selling on Wednesday, but how much they sell and what they will sell remains to be seen. Vancouver could play the role of a dark horse at this year’s trade deadline, not in the sense that they’ll add a rental player or two that will put them in the hunt, but rather in the sense that this might be their best chance to be tactically smart.

Bottom line, Vancouver, trade wisely. It’s time to recognize that you’re in a rebuild (injuries aside) and go full throttle. Make an attempt. Take a stab at it on March 1st, because you can’t get much worse than that team in burgundy and blue (that’s also in the Western Conference).

Potential assets to trade: F Alex Burrows, F Jannik Hansen, F Jayson Megna, D Alex Biega, D Philip Larsen, D Luca Sbisa, G Ryan Miller

Potential assets to acquire: D Cam Fowler (ANA), F Jimmy Hayes (BOS), D Joe Morrow (BOS), F Andrew Desjardins (CHI), F Matt Duchene (COL), F Gabriel Landeskog (COL), D Tyson Barrie (COL), G Kari Lehtonen (DAL), G Antti Niemi (DAL), F Thomas Vanek (DET), G Petr Mrazek (DET), F David Desharnais (MTL), F Tomas Plekanec (MTL), F Ryan Strome (NYI), G Jaroslav Halak (NYI), F Brandon Pirri (NYR), F Curtis Lazar (OTT), G Marc-Andre Fleury (PIT), D Kevin Shattenkirk (STL), F Valtteri Filppula (TB), G Michael Hutchinson (WPG)

Unknown-37. Arizona Coyotes– 22-32-7 (51 points, 61 GP)

The Arizona Coyotes will without a doubt be forced to sell at this year’s trade deadline and they have a plethora of rental players to move for future assets as part of their long rebuild. After making several moves that appeared to be part of a bold strategy at the 2016 draft, Coyotes general manager, John Chayka has yet to see successful results from the roster he reconstructed over the summer.

Additionally, this year certainly might be the end of an era for Arizona. No, not their nagging search for a longtime home in the desert, but rather the face of the franchise since their move from Winnipeg, Shane Doan, may be destined to be on the move to a Stanley Cup contender in a trade reminiscent of the one the Boston Bruins made in 2000 in order to give Ray Bourque a real chance to win the Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche.

Potential assets to trade: F Shane Doan, F Anthony Duclair, F Josh Jooris, F Radim Vrbata, D Kevin Connauton, G Mike Smith

Potential assets to acquire: D Cam Fowler (ANA), F Jimmy Hayes (BOS), D Joe Morrow (BOS), F Andrew Desjardins (CHI), F Matt Duchene (COL), F Gabriel Landeskog (COL), D Tyson Barrie (COL), G Kari Lehtonen (DAL), G Antti Niemi (DAL), F Thomas Vanek (DET), G Peter Mrazek (DET), F David Desharnais (MTL), F Tomas Plekanec (MTL), F Ryan Strome (NYI), G Jaroslav Halak (NYI), F Brandon Pirri (NYR), F Curtis Lazar (OTT), G Marc-Andre Fleury (PIT), D Kevin Shattenkirk (STL), F Valtteri Filppula (TB), G Michael Hutchinson (WPG)

vegas_golden_knights_logo*Not participating- Vegas Golden Knights

Yes, the Vegas Golden Knights could have participated at their first NHL trade deadline prior to even taking the ice, however, Golden Knights owner Bill Foley indicated last week that the final installment on expansion fees would not get to league offices in New York City in time for the deadline. The team’s final payment is due April 5th.

Foley added that outstanding documents would be signed in time for the organization to send general manager, George McPhee, to the league’s annual general managers meetings in Boca Raton, Florida on March 6-8.

Had the paperwork been taken care of in time, Vegas would have been able to acquire draft picks or make trades tied to the expansion draft in June (usually surrounding an agreement not to select a certain player from a team, as historically shown).

According to Mike Cranston of NHL.com, Foley downplayed the importance of trading at the deadline, since the Golden Knights could not acquire players prior to March 1st.

Upon final payment, the organization will be able to sign free agent college players once their season ends (like the rest of the league can, regarding eligible college players), junior players over 20 years of age and free agents from Europe.

 

February 26 – Day 130 – Rubber-match with big implications? Yes, please.

There’s another great sampling of games on tap today in the NHL. The action starts at 12:30 p.m. with Boston at Dallas (NBC), followed by Calgary at Carolina at 3 p.m. Two contests (Edmonton at Nashville [SN360] and Columbus at the New York Rangers [NHLN]) drop the puck at 5 p.m., trailed by another pair (St. Louis at Chicago [NBCSN] and Ottawa at Florida [SN/SN360/TVAS]) two-and-a-half hour after. Finally, tonight’s nightcap – Buffalo at Arizona – gets underway at 8:30 p.m. All times eastern.

Short list:

  • Edmonton at Nashville: Did you know these towns are sister cities? Something tells me this contest between current playoff qualifiers will not be quite as friendly.
  • Columbus at New York: Talk about a battle for position. There’s a big difference between the third division spot and a wild card.
  • St. Louis at Chicago: One of my favorite rivalries in the league, but I’m definitely biased.

As much as I do love the BluesHawks rivalry, the game at Madison Square Garden is far too important to neglect.

Columbus Blue Jackets LogoNew York Rangers Logo

 

 

 

 

 

There’s no denying the magnitude of today’s matchup. Separated by only one point in the standings, this is the last time these clubs will meet this regular season. So far, both teams are 2-2-0 in the five-game season series, so tonight’s game is a true rubber-match.

It could be argued that New York has had a little bit more success in the series, as they have hosted the Jackets only once before today. They may have lost that previous game, but that also means they won two-of-three games in Nationwide Arena (including a 3-2 victory on February 13) – an impressive feat given the Jackets‘ 22-9-1 home record. Of course, what else should we expect from the best road team in the NHL? The Rangers are 21-8-0 as visitors this season, three points better than Chicago‘s second-best road mark of 19-10-1.

Columbus enters play today with a 38-16-5 record, the fourth-best mark in both the Metropolitan Division and the Eastern Conference. As you’d expect from the sixth-best team in the league, the Blue Jackets play phenomenally on both ends of the ice, to the point that it’s often difficult to discern which is better – and that’s a really good position to be in. Given the fact that they just whipped the Islanders 7-0 yesterday, let’s focus in on Columbus‘ offense.

The Blue Jackets have already buried 192 goals this season, the fifth-most in the entire league. That attack is spearheaded by none other than Cam Atkinson and his team-leading 51 points. To put in perspective how incredible this right wing has been this year, he set his career-high in points last season with 53. Yes, 53, only two more than he has right now. With 23 games left on the schedule, he’s on pace for 71 points by season’s end. With next year being the last of his current contract, he’s well on his way to a significant raise.

What’s made Atkinson so special is the fact that he creates goals almost as often as he scores them – and he scores a lot of goals. 27, to be exact, the most on the team. That total ties the mark he set last year, and I have a suspicion he’ll find a way to tack on at least one more tally before the season closes.

As you’d guess from an offensive juggernaut like the Jackets, they play a mean power play. That guess is correct, as they convert 21.9% of opportunities into goals – the fourth-best rate in the NHL. While Atkinson leads the charge at even-strength, Alexander Wennberg has been the extra-man champion with his team-leading 21 power play points. Not quite the goalscorer, he prefers to set up linemate and captain Nick Foligno, who has buried a team-high 10 man-advantage tallies.

Riding a two-game winning streak, the 40-19-2 Rangers currently occupy the third-best spot in both the Metropolitan and the East. Offense is the name of the game in the Big Apple, as the Blueshirts have accounted for 201 goals already this season – the third-most in the NHL.

Just as he’s done all year, J.T. Miller has paced that attack like a pro. He’s already accounted for 47 points this season and is on pace to notch another 16 before things are all said and through. His previous career-high was 43, set a season ago, so Miller is certainly on the up-and-up.

The major beneficiary of Miller’s productivity is linemate Michael Grabner, who has buried a team-leading 26 goals this season from the third line. The wing has been playing so well, he has a chance of besting his current career-high of 35 tallies that he set in 2010-’11 with the crosstown rival Isles.

One thing is certain about tonight’s game: Whomever wins tonight will be in third place in the Metropolitan (currently slated to face Pittsburgh in the Eastern Quarterfinals), while the loser – regardless of if its in regulation or some variety of overtime – would lay claim to the first wildcard (would currently face Montréal). While I’m certain neither club is too worried about trying to work their way into a specific playoff spot right now, this game could be the one pointed to if one team faces a more difficult path to Lord Stanley’s Cup.

Some players to keep an eye on this evening include Columbus‘ Atkinson (27 goals [tied for seventh-most in the league]), Sergei Bobrovsky (31 wins [tied for second-most in the NHL] on a 2.21 GAA [fifth-best in the league] and a .925 save percentage [tied for sixth-best in the NHL], including three shutouts [10th-most in the league]) and Wennberg (40 assists [tied for fourth-most in the NHL]) & New York‘s Grabner (+28 [tied for eighth-best in the league]) and Henrik Lundqvist (28 wins [seventh-most in the NHL]).

When two of the top-six teams in the league square off, you’re almost ensured a fantastic matchup. That’s almost made more certain by the fact that most books in Vegas aren’t even posting a line for tonight’s contest. With impressive goaltending and offense on both benches, it’s hard to pick a winner, but I’ll pick the Rangers since they have home ice.

Hockey Birthday

  • Joe Mullen (1957-) – From undrafted to the Hall of Fame, this right wing truly had a phenomenal, unpredictable career. Spending most of his days in Pittsburgh paid off very well, as he hoisted two of his three Stanley Cups with the Penguins – just as many All-Star designations he earned in his 16 seasons. Mullen also won the Lady Byng Trophy twice in the span of three years.
  • Marc Fortier (1966-) – Another undrafted forward, this center played 212 games in the NHL over six seasons, most of which with Quebec. He registered 102 points in the before retiring in 2005.
  • Marty Reasoner (1977-) – A longtime Oiler, this center was selected 14th-overall by St. Louis in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft. His most productive season was in 2005-’06 when he split time between Edmonton and Boston, as he registered 34 of his 266 career points.

With his overtime winner, Third Star of the Game Andrew Shaw earned the right to be named “King of Quebec” for the day, as he led the Canadiens to a 3-2 victory against rival Toronto in yesterday’s DtFR Game of the Day.

Of course, we had to get to overtime first. Second Star Auston Matthews (Jake Gardiner and James van Riemsdyk) got the Maple Leafs on the board first with 9:06 remaining in the opening period. His tip-in was the lone tally of the first frame.

The Habs scored both their regulation goals in the second period. Captain Max Pacioretty (First Star Alex Galchenyuk and Shaw) leveled the contest with a power play snap shot 7:29 after returning from intermission, followed 8:52 later by a wrist shot from Galchenyuk (Nikita Nesterov and Nathan Beaulieu) to take a 2-1 lead, the score that held to the second intermission.

All Galchenyuk’s goal did was spark Matthews to do more Auston Matthews things. Only 1:19 after resuming play for the third period, he (Zach Hyman and William Nylander) buried another tip-in to level the game for the home team and ultimately force three-on-three overtime.

Shaw (Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Markov) needed was 1:06 to bury his backhander to clinch the bonus point for Montréal.

Carey Price earned the victory after saving 32-of-34 shots faced (94.1%), leaving the overtime loss to Frederik Andersen, who saved 25-of-28 (89.3%).

Road teams are not supposed to have this much success in a competitive league like the NHL, yet the visitors in the DtFR Game of the Day series are currently riding an eight-game win-streak and have a 68-43-21 record, nine points better than hosts.

February 25 – Day 129 – Bring a broom

If Saturdays are good for nothing else, they’re definitely fantastic for hockey.

Even better, we’re treated with a wide sample of matinee action today. Anaheim at Los Angeles (NHLN/SN1) gets things started at 4 p.m., followed an hour later by a trio of contests (Washington at Nashville [SN], the New York Islanders at Columbus and the New York Rangers at New Jersey). The usual starting time of 7 p.m. marks the puck drop of Montréal at Toronto (CBC/CITY/TVAS), followed 60 minutes later by Philadelphia at Pittsburgh (NBC/SN/TVAS2). Finally, today’s co-nightcaps (San Jose at Vancouver [CBC/SN1] and Buffalo at Colorado) drop the puck at 10 p.m. All times eastern.

Short list:

  • Anaheim at Los Angeles: The Freeway Face-Off resumes at 1 p.m. local time.
  • New York at New Jersey: The Battle of the Hudson River also rages on at the Prudential Center.
  • Montréal at Toronto: These rivals go way, way back.
  • Philadelphia at Pittsburgh: So do these enemies, but tonight’s game will not take place at PPG Paints Arena. Instead, it’s under the lights at Heinz Field.

I know the NHL loves its outdoor games, but the best game happening today is easily the one in Hogtown between two of the best teams the Atlantic Division has to offer.

Unknown-1Unknown

 

Nevermind the fact that these teams have been competing since 1917, how could a rivalry not emerge between the two largest cities in Canada, especially when they’re separated by only 337 miles 542 kilometers?

Montréal makes their second and final trip of the regular season to the Air Canada Centre with a 32-21-8 record, the best mark in the Atlantic Division. Defense and goaltending has definitely been the name of the game in the City of Saints this season, as the Habs have allowed only 156 goals in 61 games, which ties them for the eighth-best rate in the NHL.

Of course, that always starts with the goaltender, and the Canadiens have a good one in 25-16-6 Carey Price. His .918 save percentage and 2.43 GAA are not only the best of the two netminders Claude Julien has at his disposal, but they also tie for 11th and 12th-best in the league, respectively, among the 43 goalies with at least 23 appearances.

What makes Price special is the fact that the defense playing in front of him is, although above average, not one of the elite units in the league. They allow 29.8 shots-per-game to reach his crease, which ties them for only 11th-best in the NHL. Shea Weber has been at the forefront of that effort with his team-leading 127 shot blocks. At the rate Weber is on, he is on pace for a total of 171 blocks by the end of the regular season, the second-highest mark of his career.

Surprisingly, that effort does not carry over to the penalty kill at all, as the Canadiens rank ninth-worst in the league when down a man. Even with Weber’s 34 shorthanded blocks (which ties for third-most in the NHL), Montréal only stops 80.3% of opposing power plays.

Of course, if they’re allowed to, the Habs usually have a good chance of earning that goal back. Successful on 21% of attempts, Montréal ranks 10th-best in the league on the man-advantage. That effort has been headlined by Shea “Special-Teams-Mastermind” Weber, who has 19 power play points to lead the team. 11 of those points have been goals which tie for fourth-most in the NHL in addition to – you guessed it – leading the squad.

Hosting them this evening are the 28-20-12 Maple Leafs, the third-best team in the Atlantic. This team has certainly accumulated some offensive firepower, as they’ve taken credit for 186 goals so far this season, the fifth-most in the NHL.

The ringmaster of that attack is the next NHL stud, rookie Auston Matthews. He’s already accounted for 52 points this season and shows no sign of slowing down. One of his favorite things to do is shoot the puck, but Toronto isn’t complaining. Even though he leads his club in shot attempts, he has the fourth-highest shooting percentage  (13.3%) for 28 goals, the clubhouse lead.

When was the last time the Leafs could claim the best power play in the league? Regardless, it’s happening right now, as their 23.1% success rate is .3% better than Minnesota’s. While one rookie leads the even-strength effort, another has taken an interest in the five-on-four play. William Nylander has 19 power play points to his credit to lead the squad, but it’s actually Nazem Kadri he’ll need to keep an extra-close eye on. Kadri has potted 10 goals with the extra man this season, which leads the team.

The penalty kill has also played extremely well this season for Toronto. Led by Roman Polak‘s 29 shorthanded shot blocks, the Leafs have correctly battled 83.5% of opposing power plays, which ties for eighth-best in the NHL.

The Canadiens have already clinched the season series between these clubs this year with a perfect 3-0-0 record. The last time they met was January 7, when the Habs won 5-3 on this very surface thanks to Alexander Radulov‘s one-goal, two-point performance.

Some players to keep an eye on this evening include Montréal‘s Max Pacioretty (28 goals [tied for fourth-most in the league]) and Price (25 wins [ninth-most in the NHL]) & Toronto‘s Matthews (28 goals [tied for fourth-most in the league]).

It’s not a huge spread, but being favored is always a club’s preference. Vegas has marked the Maple Leafs as a -114 favorite to win this evening, and I believe they’ll be able to keep up their end of the bargaining. Regardless of how well their special teams will play or home ice advantage, this is big hurdle for this team. Toronto does not want to get swept by one of their biggest rivals this season, and they’re going to put everything on the line tonight to win.

Hockey Birthday

  • King Clancy (1903-1986) – This defenseman spent most of his 16-season NHL career with the original Senators franchise. Hoisting two of his three Stanley Cups with the club, the Hall of Famer is now memorialized in the NHL by having a leadership and humanitarian award named in his honor.
  • Anton Volchenkov (1982-) – Another defenseman that spent most of his career in Ottawa, this Russian was selected 21st-overall in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft by the Sens. Although he has not yet formally retired, he has not made an appearance in the NHL since the 2014-’15 season.
  • Justin Abdelkader (1987-) – This left wing was selected 42nd-overall in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft by Detroit, and he’s been there ever since. His best season was in 2014-’15 when he accounted for 23 goals and 44 points, both career-highs.

With three-straight unanswered goals in the first frame, the Flames bested Florida 4-2 in yesterday’s DtFR Game of the Day.

A whopping five goals were struck in the first period, starting with Nick Bjugstad‘s (Jussi Jokinen and Reilly Smith) power play slap shot for the Panthers only 4:54 into the game. That 1-0 lead is all the motivation the Flames needed to start their scoring stampede. Sam Bennett (Michael Stone and Second Star of the Game Troy Brouwer) pulled the game even 4:03 after Bjugstad’s tally, and Mikael Backlund (Matthew Tkachuk and Michael Frolik) gave the Flames a 2-1 lead with a wrist shot. The goal that proved to be the game-winner belonged to Deryk Engelland (Frolik and Tkachuk), the third Calgary goal in 4:54 of play. With 2:40 remaining in the period, Third Star Aleksander Barkov (Jonathan Huberdeau and Smith) pulled Florida back within a goal with a pure snap shot, setting the score at 3-2.

Brouwer (Matt Stajan and Lance Bouma) tacked on an additional insurance goal, the final of the game, in the second period to secure Calgary‘s 4-2 victory.

First Star Chad Johnson earned the victory after saving 36-of-38 shots faced (94.7%), leaving the loss to Roberto Luongo, who saved 24-of-28 (85.7%).

For the past seven days, all road teams featured in the DtFR Game of the Day series have done is win. That streak has improved the visitors’ record to 67-43-21, eight points better than home teams in the series.

NHL Trades Since January 1st, 2017

As usual, here’s our annual recap of all of the trades made in the NHL since the change of the calendar year. For anything prior to January 1, 2017, check out NHL.com’s official Trade Tracker (as I’m sure we all will be saving that as our homepage and refreshing it every few minutes from now until the deadline).

This year’s trade deadline is Wednesday, March 1, 2017. All trade calls must be made by 3:00 PM EST on Monday in order for any deal to potentially go through.

This post will be updated as frequently as possible leading up to March 1st.

The Toronto Maple Leafs kicked things off in the year of our current era two-thousand-seventeen by trading G Jhonas Enroth to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for a 2018 7th round pick on January 11th.

Longtime member of the Colorado AvalancheF Cody McLeod was traded to the Nashville Predators on January 13th. The Av’s acquired F Felix Girard in return.

January 21st witnessed the trade between the Los Angeles Kings and the Chicago Blackhawks in which F Michael Latta swapped LA living for the Windy City. D Cameron Schilling was pretty psyched for sunny skies and California weather, as he was sent in return from Chicago to the Kings.

The Ottawa Senators made a splash with the acquisition of F Tommy Wingels from the San Jose Sharks on January 24th in exchange for F Buddy RobinsonF Zach Stortini and a 2017 7th round pick.

D Nikita Nesterov was sent to the Tampa Bay Lightning by the Montreal Canadiens on January 26thD Jonathan Racine and a 2017 6th round pick were sent to the Habs in return.

36-year-old F Vernon Fiddler was traded to the New Jersey Devils on February 4th. New Jersey sent the Nashville Predators2017 4th round pick in return.

D Tom Gilbert was traded by the Los Angeles Kings to the Washington Capitals for future considerations on February 15th.

The New Jersey Devils kept themselves busy two weeks after acquiring Fiddler from Nashville and traded F Sergey Kalinin to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for D Viktor Loov on February 18th.

February 20th was a busy day for John Chayka and the Arizona Coyotes as the 27-year-old general manager sent D Michael Stone to the Calgary Flames in exchange for a 2017 3rd round pick and a conditional 2018 5th round pick.

The Carolina Hurricanes and the Montreal Canadiens swapped minor league defensemen on February 21stD Keegan Lowe went from the Hurricanes organization to the Canadiens as D Philip Samuelsson did the reverse (MTL –> CAR).

On February 23rd, the Carolina Hurricanes made their second trade in three days and sent D Ron Hainsey to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Carolina acquired F Danny Kristo and a 2017 2nd round pick in the transaction.

Two trades were completed on February 24th, with the first transaction involving the Dallas Stars and the Anaheim Ducks. The Stars swapped F Patrick Eaves with Anaheim for a conditional 2017 2nd round pick.

In the second trade of the day, the Detroit Red Wings sent F Tomas Jurco to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for a 2017 3rd round pick.

The Tampa Bay Lightning acquired F Stefan Fournier from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for F Jeremy Morin on February 25th.

G Ben Bishop and a 2017 5th round pick were traded by the Tampa Bay Lightning to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for G Peter BudajD Erik Cernak, a 2017 7th round pick and a conditional 2017 draft pick on February 26th.

Also on February 26th, F Martin HanzalF Ryan White and a 2017 4th round pick, were traded by the Arizona Coyotes to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for a 2017 1st round pick, a 2018 2nd round pick, a 2019 conditional 4th round pick and F Grayson Downing.

On Monday, February 27th, the Arizona Coyotes acquired F Teemu Pulkkinen from the  Minnesota Wild in exchange for future considerations.

The Tampa Bay Lightning traded F Brian Boyle to the Toronto Maple Leafs and received F Byron Froese and a 2017 2nd round pick in return.

The Dallas Stars were also active on February 27th, having acquired D Greg Pateryn and a 2017 4th round pick from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for D Jordie Benn.

Longtime member of the Vancouver CanucksF Alex Burrows, was traded to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for F Jonathan Dahlen. The Senators, by the way, immediately signed Burrows to a two-year extension.

Late Monday night the St. Louis Blues traded D Kevin Shattenkirk and G Pheonix Copley to the Washington Capitals in exchange for F Brad MaloneF Zach Sanford, a 2017 1st round pick and a conditional 2019 2nd round pick. St. Louis retained 39% of Shattenkirk’s salary in the deal. Hire a lawyer to walk you through the conditions on the draft pick, if you’re curious.

The dump-and-rebuild process in Detroit seems to have officially begun, as the Red Wings have traded D Brendan Smith to the New York Rangers Tuesday for two draft picks: New York’s 2017 third round pick and their 2018 second round pick. This season is Smith’s fourth playing full time in the NHL, but he’s only appeared in 33 games so far this year. He’s on the last year of his contract, but he’s indicated to the Red Wings in the past that he’d prefer to avoid free agency. Perchance New York will become a new long-term home.

Tuesday’s second trade involved the Ottawa Senators and Carolina Hurricanes. Now-former Cane F Viktor Stalberg was sent to the Canadian capital in exchange for Ottawa’s 2017 third round pick. Stalberg signed a one-year deal with Carolina in 2016 and is currently slated to become a free agent in July.

With approximately 24 hours remaining before the deadline, the Buffalo Sabres and New York Rangers swapped F Daniel Catenacci and D Mat Bodie, respectively. A third-rounder in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Catenacci joins the Blueshirts with 11 games of NHL experience, though he has not yet received a call up this season. In return, the Sabres received Bodie, the now-former captain of the Rangers’ AHL affiliate. Yet to play an NHL game, he’s registered 30 points this season with the Wolf Pack – the 12th-most by an AHL defenseman.

It seems the time for big-name defensemen to be traded is during the evening, as the Dallas Stars traded D Johnny Oduya to the Chicago Blackhawks. In return, the Stars received F Mark McNeill and a conditional fourth round pick in 2018. Oduya returns to the Hawks after a two-year stint in Dallas, and he’ll be an unrestricted free agent at the completion of this season. Drafted 18th-overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, McNeill has only one NHL game to show for his short career.

Tuesday night, the Montréal Canadiens shipped F David Desharnais to the Edmonton Oilers, and received D Brandon Davidson in return. Desharnais provides 38 games of Stanley Cup playoff experience to the young Oilers on the final year of his four-year contract, while Davidson is a blueline presence that is near ready for the big leagues – if he’s not there already – and has one more year on his $2.85 million contract before he becomes a restricted free agent.

Boston Through 60 (2016-2017)

Raise your hand if you’ve been staying up late for the last week to watch Bruins games without having one sip of coffee to do so. Anyone? No? Just me. Okay then.

Anyway, here’s a look at the way things stand after 60 games (through Wednesday night’s action in Anaheim) for the Boston Bruins.

Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak are in the fight of their lives to lay claim to the status as the best goal scorer for the Bruins this season. Marchand is on track to edge Pastrnak in the scoring race this season with Boston with 72 points to Pastrnak’s 64. However, Pastrnak is apt to leading Marchand in goals scored at season’s end, as shown below.

Additionally, the line of Patrice Bergeron, Marchand and David Backes has shown signs of being like the days of Bergeron, Marchand and Mark Recchi at times. More statistical evaluation, as well as the eye test, will yield further analysis, but there’s something promising about the likes of Bergeron and Marchand working with the power forward who’s not afraid to go to the net (Backes) in the chemistry that seems natural.

David Krejci and Pastrnak have appeared to have found their own peanut butter and jelly in 21-year-old rookie Peter Cehlarik. Simply put, I wish we could get a full season of the 83-46-88 line.

Other bright spots include career years for Frank Vatrano and Torey Krug, as well as a tremendous offensive output for the usually goal scoring inept, Adam McQuaid— everything is relative, keep in mind.

On pace for three goals, McQuaid is in the midst of perhaps his most all around season as the guy who’s lovable in the locker room, will beat you up on the ice and knows and plays his role well enough to contribute when he can in a full 60 minute effort.

The continued transition from Claude Julien to Bruce Cassidy will show more results in the next 20 games, but as shown in the data so far, the Cassidy era Bruins will be better off at offensive production and efficiency.

After deciding on a backup (though Don Sweeney has indicated an interest in acquiring a backup at the trade deadline on March 1st, if available), the Bruins are rolling with Anton Khudobin playing behind Tuukka Rask.

Rask might end up appearing in 69 games this season, which, granted is better than 70+ games, is still not ideal for balancing work and play (or more appropriately, rest). He is still on pace for a GAA of 2.12 and a save percentage of .923. Both of which are impressive in light of the last couple of seasons.

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Boston Bruins Projections- Through game 60 of 82

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For comparison, here’s how the Bruins were projected to do at Game 0 of 82 (prior to the start of the 2016-2017 regular season):

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February 24 – Day 128 – Scrapping for their playoff lives

Friday is finally here! Time to sit down and watch some hockey.

While there may be only four contests tonight, there’s certainly some quality matchups. The action starts at 7 p.m. with Edmonton at Washington (NHLN/SN/TVAS), followed half an hour later by two more games (Ottawa at Carolina [RDS] and Calgary at Florida). Finally tonight’s nightcap – Arizona at Dallas – drops the puck at 8:30 p.m. All times eastern.

I know Alex Goligoski is making his return to Dallas, but the playoff push is already in full swing – especially in the Eastern Conference. Instead, we’ll turn our attention to Sunrise, Fla. for a game between teams scrapping for their postseason lives.

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Thanks in part to their two-game winning streak, the Flames make their annual visit to Florida in fourth place in the Pacific Division and  eighth in the Western Conference with a 31-26-4 record. Although good enough for the second wildcard, the Flames are an interesting team as they aren’t exactly among the league’s elite on either end of the ice. If you had to pick Calgary‘s forte, I’d choose it’s offense, which has managed 159 goals so far this season, which ties for 18th-most in the NHL.

So far this season, it’s been the Mikael Backlund show on offense in Calgary, as his 43 points currently lead the way for the Flames. Nearing the peak of his career, he’s getting very close to succeeding his current personal-high of 47 points (I’d expect him to do that in Winnipeg next month). That being said, Sean Monahan is probably the biggest reason Calgarians make their way to the Saddledome on a nightly basis, as he’s scored a team-leading 20 goals this campaign.

Playing host tonight is 28-21-10 Florida, the fourth-best team in the Atlantic Division and ninth-best in the Eastern Conference. As I said Monday, the Panthers can blame the fact that they are on the outside of the playoff picture looking in squarely on their offense, which has managed only 149 goals so far this season, the ninth-fewest in the NHL.

As he made evident Monday night in St. Louis, there’s no doubt that Vincent Trocheck is the leader of Florida‘s offense (sorry Jaromir Jagr). His 42 points top the team, and just like Backlund, he looks like he’s going to achieve his previous career-mark in the statistic this season. He’ll need 54 points to do just that, and I expect him to achieve that goal late next month in Toronto.

Part of the reason Trocheck has been so successful is because he’s not afraid to shoot the puck on his own. His 21 goals lead the team, and he’s only four tallies shy of tying that personal best. March should be a special time for the center, as he’s on pace to bury his 26th goal against Arizona on March 23.

While Trocheck is preoccupied with the even-strength efforts, Jon Marchessault has taken up a power play specialty. Yet, even though he leads the team with 13 power play points, and Reilly Smith has a team-high six extra-man goals, the Panthers still only convert 15.8% of their man-advantages, the fifth-worst rate in the league.

Fortunately, Florida is much better on the penalty kill. In fact they’re one of the elite clubs in the league, as their 85.2% success rate is third-best in the NHL. Mark Pysyk can take a lot of credit for that, as his 12 shorthanded blocks are most on the team.

The Panthers have already made their yearly trip to the Saddledome, but it wasn’t a pleasant visit for them. Led by Backlund’s three-point, two-goal night, the Flames beat Florida 5-2 on January 17.

Some players to keep an eye on this evening include Calgary‘s Mark Giordano (+16 with 133 shot blocks [both lead the team]) and Florida‘s Trocheck (21 goals for 42 points [both lead the team]).

The Panthers come into tonight’s game with Vegas’ blessing and a -150 line, but I actually like Calgary to win. Both have won at least seven of their past 10 games, but the Flames have been quietly solid on the road this year and I think they can continue that success in Sunrise.

Hockey Birthday

  • Mike Vernon (1963-) – Selected in the third-round of the 1981 NHL Entry Draft by Calgary, this goaltender was one of the best in his day. Retiring with a career 385-273-92 record, he hoisted the Stanley Cup twice to go with his five All-Star appearances, the 1996 Jennings and the 1997 Smythe.
  • Brian Savage (1971-) – This left wing was picked by Montréal in the eighth-round of the 1991 NHL Entry Draft, and that’s where he spent most of his 12-season career. By the time he retired, he had accounted for 192 goals and 359 total points.
  • Alex Kovalev (1973-) – Picked 15th-overall by the Rangers in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft, this right wing was a member of New York‘s 1994 Stanley Cup winning team. He was also selected to three All-Star games.

They needed a shootout to get it done, but the Rangers were able to best Toronto 2-1 in yesterday’s DtFR Game of the Day.

Connor Brown (Tyler Bozak and Jake Gardiner) gave the Leafs a lead on his wrist shot with 9:04 remaining in the first half. That 1-0 score held not only to the first intermission, but also all the way through the second period.

Being unable to find an insurance goal finally cost Toronto when J.T. Miller (Kevin Hayes and Brandon Pirri) found the back of the net with 9:10 remaining in regulation. Although the game went to the always unpredictable three-on-three overtime period, neither club could find a winner, which led to the shootout.

  1. Rookie William Nylander was the first to try his hand, but his snap shot was saved by First Star of the Game Henrik Lundqvist.
  2. That proved to cost the Leafs, as Mats Zuccarello gave New York a 1-0 shootout lead on his attempt.
  3. Next up for Toronto was rookie Auston Matthews, who leveled the shootout 1-1.
  4. It didn’t last long though, as Third Star Mika Zibanejad scored the Blueshirts‘ second-straight shootout attempt.
  5. All the pressure was on Nazem Kadri to keep the shootout alive, but Lundqvist was up to the task to earn New York the bonus point.

Lundqvist earned the victory after saving 32-of-33 shots faced (97%), leaving the shootout loss to Second Star Frederik Andersen, who saved 37-of-38 (97.4%).

They got close, but the Leafs couldn’t snap the road teams’ six-game winning steak in the DtFR Game of the Day series. The 66-43-21 roadies now have a six-point lead over the hosts in the series.