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NHL Nick's Net

Capitals down Bruins, 2-1, in shootout in Chara’s return

Things got a little crispy in Zdeno Chara’s first game back at TD Garden as a visitor on Wednesday night as the Washington Capitals emerged with a, 2-1, shootout win over the Boston Bruins.

Vitek Vanecek (10-4-3, 2.69 goals against average, .910 save percentage in 18 games played) made 18 saves on 19 shots against for a .947 SV% in the shootout win for Washington.

Boston goaltender, Tuukka Rask (8-3-2, 2.57 GAA, .902 SV% in 13 games played) stopped 27 out of 28 shots faced for a .964 SV% in the shootout loss.

The Bruins fell to 12-5-3 (27 points) on the season and remain in 3rd place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while the Capitals improved to 13-5-4 (30 points) overall and widened their division standings lead by two points over the New York Islanders.

Matt Grzelcyk returned to the lineup for the first time since being injured at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers on Feb. 10th.

David Krejci was back in the lineup for Boston too for the first time since sustaining a lower body injury on Feb. 18th against the New Jersey Devils.

As a result, Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made several changes to his lineup, including Grzelcyk and Krejci to their usual roles, as well as shuffling other forwards and defenders.

Cassidy left the first line intact, but slotted Craig Smith on Krejci’s right wing on the second line with Nick Ritchie in his usual role on the left side.

Jack Studnicka remained in the lineup– centering the third line with Trent Frederic and Jake DeBrusk on his wings, while Anders Bjork returned to the lineup after being a healthy scratch in Sunday’s, 4-1, win at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers.

Bjork was back in his left wing role on the fourth line with Sean Kuraly returning to center and Chris Wagner on the right wing.

On defense, Jakub Zboril was paired with Charlie McAvoy on the top pairing, while Grzelcyk was reunited in his return to game action with Brandon Carlo to round out the top-four defenders.

Jarred Tinordi made his Boston debut on the third defensive pairing with Connor Clifton on the right side.

The Bruins claimed Tinordi off waivers from the Nashville Predators on Saturday and he avoided a long time on the league’s COVID protocol list by driving from Nashville to Boston.

He’s also the first player in Bruins history to wear No. 84 and has 11 points (one goal, ten assists) in 88 career National Hockey League games for the Montreal Canadiens, Arizona Coyotes and Predators since making his league debut as a 20-year-old in the 48-game lockout shortened 2012-13 season.

The 6-foot-6, 205-pound Burnsville, Minnesota native will provide added depth to Boston’s blue line– already depleted by injuries throughout the 2020-21 season thus far.

Charlie Coyle was added to the league’s COVID protocol list prior to Wednesday night’s action and missed his first game this season as a result.

Coyle was the first Bruin to miss a game due to COVID protocol since Karson Kuhlman missed the first game of the season in New Jersey on Jan. 14th, due to a testing issue dating back to Jan. 5th, when Cassidy revealed why Kuhlman was “unfit to participate” in the club’s training camp activities.

The B’s were also without the services of Ondrej Kase (upper body), Kevan Miller (knee) and Jeremy Lauzon (fractured left hand) on Wednesday against Washington.

Coyle, John Moore, Greg McKegg, Steven Kampfer, Urho Vaakanainen and Callum Booth were all either in COVID protocol, a healthy scratch and/or taxi squad members for the B’s on Wednesday.

Kuhlman was assigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Tuesday.

Wednesday night’s meeting with the Capitals also marked the first time that Chara returned to Boston as a member of the visiting team since March 16, 2006, when Chara was then a member of the Ottawa Senators defense.

Chara had one shot, two blocked shots and three hits in Ottawa’s, 3-2, shootout loss to the Bruins that night.

Brad Boyes and Patrice Bergeron each had a goal for Boston, while Jason Spezza and Antoine Vermette added goals for the Senators in the third period before Bergeron scored the only goal in the shootout.

The Bruins honored Chara with a tribute video that included well wishes from fans via Zoom.

Boston will not have fans at TD Garden until it is opened to about 12% capacity on March 22nd (with the first game featuring fans being a Bruins vs. Islanders matchup on March 23rd).

Fans will be able to give Chara an in-person standing ovation if everything goes according to plan on April 18th, when Washington returns to Boston after Friday’s game.

Early in the action, McAvoy was penalized for interference and presented the first power play of the night to the Capitals at 2:23 of the first period.

Washington did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Moments later, David Pastrnak rang the post (twice on the same shot attempt) on a breakaway after the Bruins killed off McAvoy’s minor infraction.

Midway through the opening frame, the Caps thought they scored when T.J. Oshie received a pass through the low slot and banked a shot off of Tinordi’s stick past Rask, but the B’s challenged the call on the ice on the basis that they believed Oshie had entered the attacking zone offside.

Video review confirmed that the puck was airborne and not yet over the blue line while Oshie was well past breaking the plane and therefore offside.

The call on the ice was reversed as the Bruins were successful on the coach’s challenge.

The score remained, 0-0.

Moments later, Krejci tripped Alex Ovechkin, but Washington’s power play was powerless on the ensuing advantage at 14:19 of the first period– in part because of Ovechkin’s interference minor at 14:36 that resulted in abbreviated 4-on-4 action before Boston saw a short power play thereafter.

Ovechkin, meanwhile, collided with McAvoy in the neutral zone away from the puck resulting in his trip to the penalty box, but not before catching his breath a moment in light of the awkward collision.

Less than a minute after Ovechkin was in the box, the Bruins recorded their first shot on goal in the game at 15:28.

Late in the period, Richard Panik caught Wagner away from the play and received an interference penalty at 19:49.

Boston’s resulting power play would extend into the second period as both teams entered the first intermission tied, 0-0, on the scoreboard, despite Washington holding a, 7-2, advantage in shots on goal.

The Caps also led in blocked shots (3-2), takeaways (2-1) and faceoff win percentage (61-39), while the B’s held the advantage in giveaways (5-1) and hits (13-12).

Both teams were 0/2 on the power play and would remain as such, despite Ovechkin and Frederic each receiving a minor penalty in the third period (they were matching).

There were no goals and no penalties called in the second period as the two teams remained locked in a, 0-0, tie through 40 minutes of action, despite the Capitals holding an, 11-9, advantage in shots on goal.

Boston actually held a, 7-4, advantage in shots on goal in the second period alone, but Washington dominated in blocked shots (10-4), takeaways (4-3), hits (25-21) and faceoff win% (64-36).

The Bruins, meanwhile, led in giveaways (6-4) heading into the final frame of regulation.

Brad Marchand fed Pastrnak (10) a pass that No. 88 in black and gold redirected through Vanecek’s five-hole to give the Bruins the game’s first goal and lead, 1-0, at 1:19 of the third period.

Marchand (14) had the only assist on Pastrnak’s goal.

Less than five minutes later, the Capitals tied the game, 1-1, after Kuraly turned the puck over in his own zone, whereby Oshie broke up the play and sent a pass to Nick Jensen.

Jensen threw the puck on goal for a rebound that Panik scooped up and flipped to Lars Eller (5) for the surefire odd-angle shot from the side of the net that sneaked between Rask’s leg pad and the post over the goal line.

Panik (5) and Jensen (7) tallied the assists on Eller’s goal at 6:14 of the third period.

Late in the action, after Frederic checked Ovechkin and the two exchanged pleasantries behind Boston’s net– leaving Frederic with his gloves on the ice and ready to fight, Ovechkin and Frederic got tangled up once again near the boards in Boston’s attacking zone.

This time, Frederic delivered a few quick cross checks in rapid succession followed by a swift spear below the belt from Ovechkin to the first-year Bruins forward.

Ovechkin received a roughing minor, while Frederic picked up a cross checking minor infraction at 14:30.

The two teams resumed full even strength after two minutes of 4-on-4 action unscathed.

Three periods was not enough to decide Wednesday night’s action as the Bruins and Capitals were tied, 1-1, heading into overtime.

After 60 minutes of play, the Caps led in shots on goal, 23-18, including a, 12-9, advantage in the third period alone.

Washington also held the advantage in blocked shots (12-9), takeaways (7-3) and hits (28-25), while Boston led in giveaways (7-6). Both teams were 50-50 in faceoff win% and finished the night 0/2 on the power play as no penalties were called in the overtime period.

Caps head coach, Peter Laviolette, started Nicklas Backstrom, Tom Wilson and John Carlson in overtime, while Cassidy countered with Bergeron, Marchand and McAvoy.

Washington dominated play in overtime, while Rask made a pair of great saves that quite literally saved the game for Boston (at least holding the team over until the shootout).

After the five-minute extra frame wasn’t enough with the game still tied, 1-1, and the Capitals leading in shots on goal, 28-19, including a, 5-1, advantage in shots on goal in the overtime period alone– a shootout was required.

Washington finished the night leading in blocked shots (12-9) and hits (28-26), while Boston wrapped up Wednesday night’s action leading in faceoff win% (53-48). Both teams had seven giveaways aside.

DeBrusk kicked off the shootout for Boston, but was denied by Vanecek with a glove save.

Jakub Vrana countered with a deke for the Capitals before pulling the puck around Rask’s right pad and slipping the rubber biscuit between the post and the Bruins netminder’s skate to give Washington the, 1-0, edge after one round of the shootout.

Pastrnak made a nifty move to send a backhanded attempt off of Vanecek’s pad while trying to go five-hole.

Oshie responded with a shot that Rask gloved.

The Capitals held a, 1-0, advantage in the shootout entering the third round. All Marchand had to do when he stepped up for his shot was score to force Rask to make another save and extend the shootout.

Instead, Vanecek denied Marchand with a glove save and the Caps didn’t even need to take their third shot– winning the shootout in three rounds and sealing the deal on a, 2-1, shootout win in Boston.

Washington improved to 2-2 in shootouts this season, while Boston fell to 2-1.

The Bruins are now 5-3 past regulation this season, while the Capitals are 3-4 overall after 60 minutes.

The B’s also fell to 4-2-1 (2-1-1 at home) when tied after the first period and 3-3-2 (0-0-1 at home) when tied after two periods this season.

Meanwhile, Washington improved to 6-0-0 (4-0-0 on the road) when tied after the first period and 3-1-4 (1-0-2 on the road) when tied after two periods this season.

Boston also fell to 8-2-1 (4-0-1 at home) when scoring the game’s first goal, while the Caps improved to 5-2-2 (2-1-1 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal this season.

The Bruins and Capitals go at it again on Friday before Boston finishes up their three-game homestand on Sunday against the New Jersey Devils.

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Coyle nets two in Bruins’, 4-1, win at Rangers

Charlie Coyle scored a pair of goals, while Trent Frederic recorded the eventual game-winning goal as the Boston Bruins defeated the New York Rangers, 4-1, Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.

Tuukka Rask (8-3-1, 2.71 goals against average, .896 save percentage in 12 games played) stopped 20 out of 21 shots faced for a .952 SV% in the win– the 299th of his National Hockey League career.

No Bruins goaltender has ever won 300 games in franchise history.

Rangers goaltender, Alexandar Georgiev (3-2-2, 2.80 GAA, .907 SV% in eight games played) made 31 saves on 33 shots against for a .939 SV% in 45:25 time on ice as he was briefly pulled from the game by a concussion spotter after allowing the game’s first goal after Bruins forward, Nick Ritchie, fell on top of the New York netminder’s head minutes earlier.

Igor Shesterkin (4-7-1, 2.44 GAA, .917 SV% in 13 games played) made one save on two shots against (.500 SV%) and was charged with the loss in 13:19 TOI as Frederic’s eventual game-winner got by Shesterkin while he was in net for Georgiev.

The Bruins improved to 12-5-2 (26 points) on the season and retook command of 1st place in the MassMutual NHL East Division from the Washington Capitals (11-5-4, 26 points) who were in action later in the afternoon on Sunday.

The Rangers fell to 7-9-3 (17 points) overall and remained in 6th place in the division– at least before later games on Sunday.

Boston also picked up their 50th win in 107 games at Madison Square Garden (the fourth edition of New York City’s world famous arena), despite being outscored by New York, 333-325, in that span. The Bruins are 50-46-7-4 all time at the fourth iteration of MSG.

The B’s are now 3-1-0 against the Blue Shirts this season.

After Friday night’s, 6-2, loss to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden, Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made several changes to his lineup utilizing members of the club’s taxi squad.

Cassidy slid Sean Kuraly to the left wing of the fourth line while inserting Greg McKegg and Karson Kuhlman back into the lineup at center and on the right wing, respectively.

McKegg, in the process, made his Boston debut on Sunday.

On defense, Cassidy jumbled his pairings, placing Jakub Zboril alongside Charlie McAvoy on the first pairing, while uniting Connor Clifton with Brandon Carlo to round out the top-four defenders.

Urho Vaakanainen was partnered with Steven Kampfer, who made his season debut on Sunday, on the bottom defensive pairing.

Anders Bjork, Chris Wagner and John Moore were healthy scratches for the B’s, while Ondrej Kase (upper body), David Krejci (lower body), Matt Grzelcyk (lower body), Jeremy Lauzon (fractured left hand) and Kevan Miller (knee) remained out of the lineup due to injury.

Callum Booth was the only taxi squad member not listed as a healthy scratch or out due to injury Sunday afternoon in New York.

Early in the opening frame, Ryan Strome cross checked Kuhlman and was sent to the sin bin with a minor infraction at 5:35 of the first period.

Boston’s ensuing power play did not last long, however, as Ritchie and Ryan Lindgren went at it shortly after Ritchie fell on top of Georgiev, resulting in two roughing penalties to Ritchie and one roughing minor for Lindgren at 5:48.

Craig Smith served one of Ritchie’s minors as the two clubs had a little 4-on-4 before the Rangers had an abbreviated power play.

Meanwhile, less than a minute later, Coyle (4) roofed a shot on the far side past the New York netminder to give Boston a, 1-0, lead at 6:41 of the first period.

David Pastrnak (8) and McAvoy (12) tallied the assists on Coyle’s first goal of the afternoon, which led to Shesterkin’s brief relief appearance in the crease.

Six seconds after the B’s went up on the scoreboard, 1-0, Pastrnak caught Alexis Lafrenière with a high stick, yielding a 5-on-3 skater advantage to the Rangers at 6:47.

New York, however, could not muster anything on the power play.

Late in the period, Clifton wristed a shot from the point that Frederic (2) deflected past Shesterkin from the slot to give Boston a two-goal lead.

Clifton (3) and Jack Studnicka (2) notched the assists as the Bruins led, 2-0, at 18:14 of the first period.

Entering the first intermission, the B’s had a, 2-0, lead on the scoreboard despite trailing the Rangers in shots on goal, 9-7.

Boston held the advantage in blocked shots (9-4) and takeaways (2-0), while New York led in giveaways (3-0), hits (21-18) and faceoff win percentage (53-47).

The Rangers were 0/2 and the Bruins were 0/1 on the power play heading into the middle period.

Georgiev was back in net for New York to start the second period.

Midway through the middle frame, after winning an attacking zone faceoff, the B’s worked the puck around the offensive zone, whereby McAvoy ended up sending a pass to Pastrnak across the ice before receiving the rubber biscuit back on the blade of his stick.

McAvoy (3) rocketed a slap shot from the point past Georgiev to make it, 3-0, Boston at 10:20 of the second period.

Pastrnak (9) and Marchand (13) had the assists as the Bruins extended their lead to three goals.

No penalties were called in the second period as the two teams entered the second intermission with the B’s leading, 3-0, on the scoreboard and, 19-15, in shots on goal, including a, 12-6, advantage in the middle period alone.

Boston also held the advantage in takeaways (2-0), hits (32-29) and faceoff win% (56-44), while New York led in giveaways (5-2).

Both teams had 10 blocked shots aside, while the Rangers remained 0/2 and the Bruins remained 0/1 on the power play heading into the final frame.

Colin Blackwell (5) parted the seas, skated into the slot and fired a shot past Rask’s blocker side to pull the Rangers to within two goals at 10:47 of the third period.

He then delivered a quick check– whether it was an accident on a follow through or not, he caught the ire of McKegg, the recipient of Blackwell’s blow– and a scrum ensued while New York was celebrating their goal.

The Rangers trailed, 3-1, as Blackwell went to the box for roughing and McKegg went to the sin bin for slashing at 10:47.

Neither team scored a goal on the resulting 4-on-4 even strength action.

Meanwhile, Lafrenière (2) and K’Andre Miller (4) had the assists on Blackwell’s goal.

Late in the period, Smith received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty at 16:09, but the New York wasn’t able to convert on the resulting power play.

With about two minutes left in regulation, Rangers head coach, David Quinn, pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker to try to even up the score.

Seconds after Georgiev vacated his crease, Coyle (5) flipped the puck just about the length of the rink from his own zone past the faceoff circles into the open twine.

Kuraly (2) had the only assist on Coyle’s empty net goal and the Bruins sealed the deal on their, 4-1, win at 18:05 of the third period.

After a stoppage in play with about two seconds left in the game, the final faceoff commenced, but not before Brendan Lemieux and Ritchie had a little chat that resulted in a fight officially as time expired at 20:00 of the third period.

Lemieux also received a misconduct in the matter as the both players picked up fighting majors to finish the afternoon.

It was the seventh scrap this season for Boston and the first since Lauzon fought Pavel Buchnevich back on Feb. 12th in a, 1-0, win at the Rangers.

At the final horn, the Bruins had won, 4-1, and finished Sunday afternoon leading in shots on goal, 36-21, including a, 17-6, advantage in the third period alone.

Boston also finished the game leading in blocked shots (16-12), hits (43-37) and faceoff win% (55-45), while New York wrapped up the afternoon’s action leading in giveaways (9-4).

The Rangers finished 0/3 and the B’s went 0/1 on the power play on Sunday.

The Bruins improved to 8-2-0 (4-2-0 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal this season, while the Rangers fell to 2-7-2 (1-6-1 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal this season.

Boston also improved to 6-0-0 (3-0-0 on the road) when leading after the first period and 7-0-0 (3-0-0 on the road) when leading after the second period this season.

New York dropped to 2-4-2 (1-3-1 at home) when trailing after one period and 0-6-0 (0-4-0 at home) when trailing after two periods this season.

The Bruins went 1-2-0 on their three-game road trip and 7-4-0 in the month of February. The B’s return home to face the Washington Capitals on Wednesday and Friday before squaring off with the New Jersey Devils next Sunday on March 7th.

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NHL Nick's Net

Bruins drop four out of five in, 6-2, loss at Rangers

The Boston Bruins have allowed 13 goals in back-to-back nights as a result of their, 6-2, loss to the New York Rangers on Friday at Madison Square Garden.

Alexandar Georgiev (3-2-2, 2.81 goals against average, .901 save percentage in seven games played) made 31 saves on 33 shots faced for a .939 SV% in the win for the Rangers.

Bruins goaltender, Tuukka Rask (7-3-1, 2.87 GAA, .892 SV% in 11 games played) stopped 28 out of 34 shots against for an .824 SV% in the loss.

Boston fell to 11-5-2 (24 points) on the season, but is barely holding onto 1st place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while New York improved to 7-8-3 (17 points) and jumped to 6th place in the division.

The Bruins are now 1-4-0 in their last five games and 2-1-0 against the Rangers this season.

Ondrej Kase (upper body), Matt Grzelcyk (lower body), David Krejci (lower body), Kevan Miller (knee) and Jeremy Lauzon (fractured left hand) remained out of the lineup Friday night due to injury.

Grzelcyk is targeting a return to the blue line on Sunday afternoon while still in New York.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, left lineup untouched from Thursday night’s, 7-2, loss on Long Island against the New York Islanders.

Kase, Krejci, Grzelcyk, Lauzon, Karson Kuhlman, Miller, Greg McKegg, Steven Kampfer and Callum Booth made up Boston’s list of injuries, healthy scratches and taxi squad members.

Midway through the opening frame, Julien Gauthier (2) fired a shot from the faceoff dot to Rask’s right side that beat the Bruins netminder on the short side while he was screened by net front traffic.

Ryan Lindgren (6) had the only assist on Gauthier’s goal and the Rangers took the, 1-0, lead at 13:03 of the first period.

Both of Gauthier’s goals this season have come against Boston (and they’re the first and second of his National Hockey League career, respectively).

About a couple minutes later, New York defender, K’Andre Miller, was penalized for holding and sent to the box with a minor infraction at 15:27.

Boston did not convert on the ensuing power play opportunity.

Entering the first intermission, the Rangers led the Bruins, 1-0, on the scoreboard and, 9-6, in shots on goal.

New York also held the advantage in takeaways (2-0), hits (17-8), as well as faceoff win percentage (53-47), while the B’s led in giveaways (4-2).

Both teams had seven blocked shots aside and the Bruins were 0/1 on the power play. The Rangers had yet to see any action on the skater advantage heading into the middle frame.

Shortly after puck drop in the second period, Jack Johnson got a stick up high on Sean Kuraly except Kevin Rooney was sent to the box with the minor infraction for high sticking six seconds into the middle period.

Once more, Boston’s power play was powerless.

Not to be outdone, in the vulnerable minute after special teams action, New York capitalized on Boston’s faults as Alexis Lafrenière worked a pass to Ryan Strome (6) for a catch and release goal over Rask’s glove to give the Rangers a two-goal lead.

Lafrenière (1) and Chris Kreider (2) tallied the assists on Strome’s goal at 2:32 of the second period and the Blue Shirts led, 2-0.

Less than two minutes later, Brad Marchand sent a pass to David Pastrnak who then feigned a shot and setup Patrice Bergeron with a slap pass for Bergeron (8) to redirect one past the Rangers goaltender on the doorstep while Georgiev was expecting a shot from Pastrnak and out of position.

Pastrnak (6) and Marchand (12) had the assists on Bergeron’s goal as the B’s cut New York’s lead in half, 2-1, at 4:02 of the second period.

The goal was Bergeron’s 889th career NHL point, which moved him into sole possession for fifth all-time among Boston’s scorers– surpassing Bobby Orr’s 888 career points in a Bruins uniform and trailing Rick Middleton’s 898 points with Boston for fourth place.

Early in the period, Lindgren hit Bergeron in the neutral zone which caused a bit of a scrum to form.

Marchand, in turn, roughed Lindgren and received a minor infraction at 6:54, though the Rangers did not convert on the ensuing power play.

Moments later, after a stoppage in play, Brendan Lemieux pulled Jake DeBrusk down by the collar and received a roughing infraction at 11:23.

The Bruins remained powerless on the power play, however.

A few minutes after that, Marchand caught Kreider with a high stick and was sent to the sin bin at 14:19. Boston made the kill on the resulting skater disadvantage, however.

Nick Ritchie tripped Brendan Smith and was sent to the penalty box at 18:42.

The Rangers did not waste much time on the ensuing power play opportunity– capitalizing ten seconds into the 5-on-4 advantage after passing the puck around the zone while Boston’s penalty kill just hung around.

Adam Fox fired the initial shot from the point, but Colin Blackwell (4) tipped the rubber biscuit in front of the net to give New York a, 3-1, lead.

Fox (8) and Strome (6) tallied the assists on Blackwell’s power-play goal at 18:52.

The Rangers made it a, 4-1, lead 12 seconds later when Kreider (9) fired the puck off of Charlie McAvoy and in from about the goal line at 19:04.

Strome (7) had the only assist on Kreider’s goal as New York scored a pair of goals in the final 68 seconds of the second period.

In the closing seconds of the middle frame, Trent Frederic retaliated with a slash after Johnson caught the young Bruins forward with a cross check to the head.

Both players received minor infractions (Frederic for slashing, Johnson for cross checking) at 19:51 of the second period, yielding 4-on-4 action into the third period.

Through 40 minutes of action Friday night at Madison Square Garden, the Rangers led the Bruins, 4-1, on the scoreboard and, 24-22, in shots on goal, despite trailing Boston, 16-15, in shots on goal in the second period alone.

The B’s held the advantage in blocked shots (11-10) and giveaways (7-3), while the Blue Shirts led in takeaways (4-2), hits (27-20) and faceoff win% (57-43) after two periods.

New York was 1/3 on the power play, while Boston was 0/3 on the skater advantage heading into the second intermission.

Pavel Buchnevich (5) redirected a puck into the twine from the low slot on a tape-to-tape pass to give the Rangers a, 5-1, lead at 1:45 of the third period.

Fox (9) and Lindgren (7) had the assists on Buchnevich’s goal.

About two minutes later, Jonny Brodzinski (1) received a pass from Rooney before firing the puck off of Rask’s pad and in to make it a five-goal lead for New York.

Rooney (2) and Smith (2) were credited with the primary and secondary assists, respectively, on Brodzinski’s first goal of the season at 3:43 of the final period.

Almost midway through the final frame of regulation, Marchand (10) buried a rebound for the 300th goal of his NHL career. He trails Cam Neely (344 career goals with Boston) for sixth in all time goal scorers in Bruins franchise history.

Pastrnak (7) and Jakub Zboril (4) had the assists on Marchand’s goal and the B’s trailed, 6-2, at 7:51 of the third period.

Late in the period, Zboril was penalized for holding at 15:59, but New York couldn’t muster anything on the resulting skater advantage.

At the final horn, the Bruins had been outscored on back-to-back nights by their opponents by a combined score of, 13-4, losing on Friday to the Rangers, 6-2, in New York.

The Blue Shirts finished the effort leading in shots on goal, 34-33, despite trailing Boston, 11-10, in shots on goal in the third period alone.

New York wrapped up Friday’s win with the advantage in blocked shots (14-12), hits (32-28) and faceoff win% (51-49), while Boston finished the game leading in giveaways (11-4).

The Rangers finished 1/4 on the skater advantage, while the Bruins went 0/3 on the power play on Friday.

Additionally, Boston is now 1-4-0 in their last five games.

The Bruins fell to 4-3-2 (3-2-2 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal this season, while the Rangers improved to 5-2-1 (3-0-1 at home) when scoring the game’s first goal in 2020-21.

The B’s also fell to 2-3-2 (2-3-2 on the road) when trailing after the first period and 2-2-1 (1-1-1 on the road) when trailing after two periods this season.

New York improved to 4-2-1 (3-0-1 at home) when leading after the first period and 5-1-2 (3-0-1 at home) when leading after two periods thi season.

The Bruins close out their three-game road trip (0-2-0) Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden against the Rangers to finish the month of February. The B’s return home to face the Washington Capitals on March 3rd and 5th before squaring off with the New Jersey Devils on March 7th.

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NHL Nick's Net

Bruins lose big in, 7-2, blowout to Islanders

The New York Islanders erupted for seven goals on home ice in their, 7-2, victory over the Boston Bruins at Nassau Live at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Thursday night.

Semyon Varlamov (9-4-2, 2.06 goals against average, .928 save percentage in 15 games played) stopped 34 out of 36 shots faced for a .944 SV% in the win for the Isles.

Bruins goaltender, Jaroslav Halak (4-2-1, 2.42 GAA, .903 SV% in seven games played) made 30 saves on 37 shots against for an .811 SV% in the loss.

The former Islanders goaltender was visibly frustrated and broke his stick against the post after allowing four goals.

Boston fell to 11-4-2 (24 points) on the season, but remained in command of the MassMutual NHL East Division standings.

New York improved to 10-6-3 (23 points) overall and jumped from 5th in the division to 3rd place in the standings.

Thursday night marked the 400th career National Hockey League game (all with Boston) for David Pastrnak. Entering Thursday, he had 393 points (189 goals, 204 assists) in 399 games, including 9-5–14 totals in nine games this season.

The Bruins were without the services of Ondrej Kase (upper body), Matt Grzelcyk (lower body), David Krejci (lower body), Kevan Miller (knee) and Jeremy Lauzon (fractured left hand) against the Islanders Thursday night.

Boston did, however, see the return of Jakub Zboril to the blue line after Zboril missed the last two games with an upper body injury sustained on Feb. 13th at the Islanders.

Grzelcyk, meanwhile, skated on Thursday morning and may make his return to the lineup on Friday or Sunday in Manhattan against the New York Rangers. He has missed 11 games so far this season due to a recurring lower body injury originally sustained on Jan. 21st vs. Philadelphia, then re-aggravated on Jan. 28th vs. Pittsburgh and again on Feb. 10th at the Rangers.

The newest member of Boston’s long list of injuries– Lauzon– played 34 seconds in the 2021 NHL Outdoors at Lake Tahoe game against the Flyers and will be out for approximately four weeks with a fractured left hand.

Krejci and Miller did not travel with the team to New York for the current three-game road trip.

Halak earned his first start against the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum since 2014, while Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy made no adjustments to his forward lines, but played with his defensive pairings from Sunday’s, 7-3, win over the Flyers outdoors to Thursday night’s battle indoors on Long Island.

Urho Vaakanainen earned first pairing minutes with Charlie McAvoy to start the action, while Zboril was placed on the left side of Brandon Carlo on the second defensive pairing.

Meanwhile, John Moore and Connor Clifton rounded out the six dressed defenders.

Kase, Krejci, Grzelcyk, Lauzon, Karson Kuhlman, Miller, Greg McKegg, Steven Kampfer and Callum Booth made up Boston’s long list of injuries, healthy scratches and taxi squad members on Thursday.

Nick Ritchie (7) kicked things off by redirecting a pass through the low slot past Varlamov to give the Bruins the game’s first goal 62 seconds into the action.

Zboril (3) and Charlie Coyle (3) tallied the assists as Boston led, 1-0, at 1:02 of the first period.

The B’s didn’t lead for long before Adam Pelech (1) pocketed a rebound past Halak’s blocker side while crashing the net for his first goal in 42 games.

Pelech’s goal was unassisted as the Islanders tied the game, 1-1, at 3:16 of the opening frame.

A couple of minutes past the midpoint of the first period, Mathew Barzal (7) burst into the attacking zone with speed and sniped a shot over Halak’s glove side to put New York ahead, 2-1, at 12:39.

Nick Leddy (10) and Varlamov (1) had the assists on Barzal’s goal as the two teams got off to a fast pace on Thursday.

Entering the first intermission, New York led Boston, 2-1, on the scoreboard, despite the Bruins holding the, 15-10, advantage in shots on goal.

The B’s also led in blocked shots (4-3), takeaways (2-1) and faceoff win percentage (53-47) after one period, while the Isles led in giveaways (5-1) and hits (12-5).

Neither team had seen any action on the skater advantage entering the middle frame.

Anthony Beauvillier tripped Pastrnak at 1:01 of the second period and yielded the game’s first power play to Boston, but the Bruins weren’t able to convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Craig Smith cut a rut to the sin bin for the B’s after hooking Leddy, but the Islanders didn’t capitalize on their first power play of the night as a result.

In the vulnerable minute after special teams action, Boston capitalized on a shift in momentum when Smith redirected the puck behind his back to his stick with a free hand– never closing his hand on the puck in the process– in the neutral zone before skating into the attacking zone and sending a pass towards Jack Studnicka as Studnicka crashed the net.

There was just one problem, however, as the puck deflected off of Matt Martin’s stick and fluttered over Varlamov and into the twine– tying the game, 2-2, in the process.

Smith (4) was credited with the goal while Jake DeBrusk (3) and Vaakanainen (2) earned the assists at 11:36 of the second period.

Through 40 minutes of play, the scoreboard was even, 2-2, but the Bruins were leading in shots on goal, 28-19, including a, 13-9, advantage in the second period alone.

The B’s also led in blocked shots (12-5) and faceoff win% (52-48), while the New York led in takeaways (3-2), giveaways (9-3) and hits (20-14).

Both teams were 0/1 on the power play heading into the final frame of regulation.

Beauvillier (1) kicked things off in the third period with the eventual game-winning goal for the Islanders after stealing the puck right off of Trent Frederic’s stick and slipping the rubber biscuit through Halak to give New York a, 3-2, lead at 5:41.

Then it started.

The Islanders began an offensive onslaught, first when Barzal sent a pass to Jordan Eberle leading Halak to drop down into the splits while Eberle (8) roofed the puck over Halak’s glove and into the net.

Barzal (10) and Anders Lee (4) notched the assists on Eberle’s goal and New York took a two-goal lead, 4-2, at 10:45 of the third period.

Less than a couple of minutes later, Casey Cizikas sent the puck over the glass and received an automatic delay of game infraction at 12:04, but Boston’s power play was once again powerless and instead gave up an ensuing shorthanded goal against.

That’s right, Jean-Gabriel Pageau (8) emerged with a quick breakout from his own zone that translated into a breakaway into the attacking zone before scoring top-shelf over Halak’s glove side to make it, 5-2, Islanders at 12:24.

Pelech (4) had the only assist on Pageau’s shorthanded goal as the New York forward scored his third goal in three games against Boston this season.

About two minutes later, a wacky deflection off of Clifton, then Halak, then Vaakanainen and the post (or the other way around, it doesn’t matter that much) left a loose puck with eyes finding its way to Lee’s stick for Lee (9) to pot his team leading ninth goal of the season to make it a four-goal game.

Noah Dobson (7) and Leddy (11) had the assists on Lee’s goal and the Isles led, 6-2, at 14:44 of the third period.

Again, less than two minutes later, after Halak made an initial stop with his shoulder, the puck flew back into the slot whereby Oliver Wahlstrom (2) was waiting and anticipating burying the rebound to make it, 7-2, for New York– capping off five unanswered goals in a span in the third period alone for the Islanders.

Ryan Pulock (8) and Cizikas (3) were credited with the primary and secondary assists, respectively, at 16:33.

About a minute later, Frederic delivered a swift cross check to Lee after a stoppage in play and was dealt a minor infraction for cross checking as well as a game misconduct at 17:53.

Smith served Frederic’s minor as Boston’s penalty kill managed to go unscathed on the final special teams appearance of the night.

At the final horn, the Islanders handed the Bruins their worst loss of the season thus far on the scoreboard, 7-2.

It was Boston’s first game since beating the Flyers, 7-3, outdoors, so at least the Bruins managed consecutive games with at least seven goals scored by the winning team– just on both sides of the final result.

New York finished night leading in shots on goal, 37-36, including an, 18-8, advantage in the third period alone– the most shots allowed by Boston in any third period this season so far.

The B’s finished the game with the advantage in blocked shots (16-8) and faceoff win% (53-47), while the Isles managed the advantage in giveaways (13-6) and hits (26-24).

Both clubs went 0/2 on the power play on Thursday.

Thursday night’s game also marked just the second time this season that Boston lost by more than one goal. Coincidentally, the last time the Bruins did that this season was back on Feb. 13th against the Islanders on Long Island in a, 4-2, loss.

The Bruins fell to 7-2-0 (3-2-0 on the road) when scoring the game’s first game, while the Islanders improved to 3-5-2 (3-0-0 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal this season.

Boston also fell to 2-2-2 (2-2-2 on the road) when trailing after the first period and 3-3-1 (3-3-1 on the road) when tied after two periods this season.

New York, conversely, improved to 7-1-1 (4-0-1 at home) when leading after the first period and 6-2-2 (5-0-1 at home) when tied after two periods this season.

The Bruins are now 1-3-0 in their last four games and continue their three-game road trip (0-1-0) to close out the month of February (6-3-0) with a pair of games at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers on Friday night and Sunday afternoon.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts announced earlier on Thursday that fans will be allowed at TD Garden, Fenway Park and Gillette Stadium at about 12% seating capacity as of March 22nd, which means Boston’s first home game with fans at TD Garden is currently scheduled for March 23rd against the Islanders.

Information regarding ticket sales and more is coming soon. Check your local listings (nhl.com/bruins, preferably).

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Blue Jackets Forecast NHL Nick's Net Projected Stats Tracker

Columbus Blue Jackets 2020-21 Forecast and 20-Game Update

Welcome back to another exciting rendition of “let’s trust the guy with a degree in communication to do some basic math stuff”.

As you are hopefully already aware, I kept the 2019-20 forecasts under wraps simply because I didn’t have the time and/or motivation to write up an explanation for each and every one of them.

Even still, I’m “behind” on 2020-21 posts given that the Columbus Blue Jackets have already reached the 20-game mark of the season.

That’s why we’re looking at both what the expectations were coming into the condensed 56-game schedule, as well as how things are holding up after the first, well, almost half the season.

If you’re a fan of numbers and things, you probably already read about this “catch-up format” in my first forecast for the Boston Bruins roster entering 2020-21. If you’re just a Blue Jackets fan, I’ve done my best to paraphrase my own writing, but you can go back and read it if you feel inclined.

As always, keep in mind that my degree is in communication and my minor was in sport management. My Intro to Stats class only fulfilled the math portion of my “general education” and met once-a-week at night for two-and-a-half hours in the fall 2013 semester.

I actually learned how to use the forecast function in Microsoft Excel in one of my sport management classes. Besides that, I got a “C” in that Intro to Stats class, so my credentials for doing this seem promising, right?

First year players are impossible to predict until they’ve had at least one National Hockey League game under their belt.

Young players that have had minimal NHL experience may also reflect “inflated” results– Liam Foudy’s forecasted assists entering the 2020-21 season has been highlighted for this reason.

Entering this season, he had only been part of two career NHL games and had one assist in that span. The forecasting function accounts for a player’s entire career and does some mathematics to come up with something over a predetermined number of games for the upcoming season (in this year’s case, 56).

In other words, Foudy’s forecast after 20 team games played should look a bit more “realistic”, for the lack of a better term.

A forecast is not the same as predicting pace.

Foudy has three assists in 12 games played in 2020-21, for example, and is forecasted to finish with about 11 on the season, whereas he is currently on pace for about eight helpers.

There are numerous variables that can, and will, impact a players’ performance throughout the year, including injuries, being a healthy scratch (or on the taxi squad), other American Hockey League related or waiver related transactions, sickness, COVID protocol, suspensions and general superstitions related to individual routines, beliefs, etc. (getting enough sleep before a game, wearing a certain lucky tie, using the same undershirt or shoulder pads for the last 13 years or whatever).

Players can get “hot” or “cold” at any point.

It’s not something that can be accounted for in a numerical forecast that sets aside the “eye test” until you try to figure out the nuances of how or why a player is playing the way they are playing.

In a perfect timeline, this forecast pretends nothing bad could ever happen and every Blue Jackets player lives up to their expectations. In reality, some will pan out, some will exceed expectations and some will fall short for whatever reason.

It’s an educated guess for an outcome in a sport that’s highly unpredictable due to its collectivistic nature and sheer puck luck.


Columbus Blue Jackets Forecast Through 0 Games (56 Games Remaining)

First up, let’s take a look at how things were expected to go coming into the 2020-21 season.

Prior to being traded to the Winnipeg Jets for Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic, Dubois was forecasted to lead Columbus in scoring with 16-22–38 totals this season.

New acquisition, Max Domi, was forecasted as a close second to Dubois with 37 points– leading the team in assists in the process with 25 (among NHL regulars last season, since Foudy technically was forecasted to lead in assists among Blue Jackets with 28).

Of course, Dubois was traded and Laine and Roslovic are off to hot starts with Columbus– scoring goals in bunches when they find the scoresheet, it seems. We’ll get to that in a minute.

Cam Atkinson was forecasted to score 19 goals prior to the start of the 2020-21 season, which leads Dubois’ 16 forecasted goals and Gustav Nyquist’s 14 forecasted goals on the roster.

Dubois, of course, was traded and Nyquist is out due to injury for most of this season, so… that checks out.

On defense, Zach Werenski and Seth Jones were expected to continue to lead with the way with 33 and 27 points, respectively, from the blue line.

Both defenders are expected to amass 21 assists this season– good enough for the third most forecasted among Blue Jackets skaters entering this season.

In the crease, John Tortorella will have to find the right balance between Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins.

There’s potential for a really solid goaltending duo in Columbus if Korpisalo is the starter and can best his 2.66 forecasted goals against average, as well as his forecasted .911 save percentage, while Merzlikins manages to find a way to reach his 2.35 forecasted GAA and .923 forecasted SV%.

Of course, after 20 team games played, Merzlikins is currently out with an upper body injury, so time will tell if he can return to form.

Columbus Blue Jackets Forecast Through 20 Games (36 Games Remaining)

Through 20 games of the 2020-21 season, the Blue Jackets are three points outside of the last playoff spot in the Discover NHL Central Division, trailing the Chicago Blackhawks for this season’s 4th place cutoff line.

The acquisition of Laine and Roslovic have been quite a welcome sight for Columbus fans, though consistency from the rest of the lineup remains to be an issue.

Laine, however, is currently forecasted to lead the team in goals (26) and points (46), while Roslovic is on track for 10-17–27 totals, which is about what he had in 71 games with the Jets last season (29 points).

Using the current forecasted totals, Roslovic is on track for about .551 points per game this season. He had .408 points per game with Winnipeg in 2019-20.

Atkinson remains in the top-three in scoring, trailing Laine in goals and points with 20 forecasted goals and 39 forecasted points, respectively, while Oliver Bjorkstrand is currently forecasted to amass 15-21–36 totals (the third most on the current roster).

On the blue line, Jones leads the way among defenders in points (32), as well as all skaters in assists with 27 forecasted assists through 20 team games played in the 2020-21 season.

Werenski is more in line with what you’d expect from a young defender of his caliber (8-16–24 forecasted totals) and has missed time due to injury, so that’s clearly a factor in his forecasted drop from before the season began to now.

In the crease, Korpisalo is sure to get more starts than Merzlikins as the latter is currently injured.

Korpisalo’s current forecast yields a goals against average between 2.59-2.63, while Merzlikins is on track for a 2.29-2.33 in however many games he ends up getting.

Why the range in GAA?

That’s new for this season.

It’s just to show a range between what the forecasted total is according to the model and what the adjusted forecast shows (calculated based on the forecasted goals allowed/forecasted minutes multiplied by 60, as one would traditionally do with goals allowed/minutes played multiplied by 60 to determine GAA).

I’m no statistician and I felt like there might be a way to try to get a better read on how things are going for goaltenders (with or without enough necessary data to yield a “realistic” result).

Don’t make any bets using only this forecast. If you’re a professional, you probably already know that.

Anyway, Korpisalo has a forecasted range between .912 and .913 in save percentage through 20 team games played and Merzlikins is on track for between a .923 and a .924 in SV%.

Again, a similar principle applies here.

One end of the range is the straight up forecast, while the other is influenced by forecasted saves/forecasted shots against.

Well, that does it for this forecast. Tune in after 40 team games played to see how things might go down the stretch (the final 16 games this season).

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NHL Nick's Net

Bruins shred Flyers, 7-3, at Lake Tahoe

Philadelphia Flyers mascot, Gritty, and Boston Bruins mascot, Blades the Bruin, might have shared the slopes on Saturday, but their two teams weren’t in much of a sharing mood on Sunday when Boston defeated Philadelphia in a lopsided, 7-3, victory outdoors by the 18th hole of the Edgewood Tahoe Resort.

David Pastrnak had a hat trick in the win for the Bruins, while Tuukka Rask (7-2-1, 2.56 goals against average, .901 save percentage in 10 games played) made 16 saves on 19 shots against (.842 SV%) for the win on the shores of Lake Tahoe.

Flyers goaltender, Carter Hart (5-3-3, 3.68 GAA, .891 SV% in 11 games played) stopped 17 out of 23 shots faced for a .739 SV% before being replaced after two periods by Brian Elliott (3-1-0, 2.25 GAA, .928 SV% in six games played) in the loss.

Boston improved to 11-3-2 (24 points) on the season and remained in command of 1st place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while Philadelphia fell to 8-4-3 (19 points) overall, but stable in the division in 3rd place.

The B’s also improved to 5-1-0 on home ice this season– yes, they were designated as the home team despite playing at a neutral rink in Stateline, Nevada.

The Colorado Avalanche defeated the Vegas Golden Knights, 3-2, on Saturday night after an eight-hour sunny weather delay melted sections of the ice– deeming the playing surface too unsafe for both players and on-ice officials after the first period ended around midday on Saturday.

The Avs and Golden Knights resumed play around midnight on the East Coast (9 p.m. local time Saturday) and finished the remaining 40 minutes of action unscathed.

It was the first outdoor win for Colorado (1-2-0) and the very first outdoor appearance for Vegas (0-1-0) in the first of two games as part of the National Hockey League’s 2021 Outdoors at Lake Tahoe weekend.

The Bruins were without the services of Ondrej Kase (upper body), Matt Grzelcyk (lower body), Jakub Zboril (upper body), David Krejci (lower body) and Kevan Miller (lower body) on Sunday.

As a result, Boston recalled Urho Vaakanainen and Jack Studnicka from the taxi squad and head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made several adjustments to his lineup.

Pastrnak was returned to his usual role on the first line right wing, having spent last Thursday’s, 3-2, loss at home to the New Jersey Devils on the second line with Krejci at center.

Craig Smith and Charlie Coyle moved up to the second line with Krejci out due to injury and Jake DeBrusk demoted to the third line comprised of Anders Bjork at left wing, Studnicka at center and DeBrusk on the right side.

Meanwhile, Nick Ritchie retained his role on the second line left wing.

Trent Frederic, Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner were reunited on the fourth line.

On defense, Vaakanainen slid in on the left side of the second defensive pairing with Brandon Carlo as his partner and wearing an “A” as an alternate captain while Krejci is out of the lineup.

John Moore and Connor Clifton were paired on the third pairing, while Jeremy Lauzon and Charlie McAvoy remained as the top blue liners.

Kase, Krejci, Grzelcyk, Zboril, Karson Kuhlman, Miller, Greg McKegg, Steven Kampfer and Callum Booth were out of the lineup due to injury, being a healthy scratch and/or members of the taxi squad.

All injured Bruins, in fact, did not travel with the team for Sunday’s matchup with the Flyers at Lake Tahoe.

Several Flyers were also not in attendance, though the majority of them were in the league’s COVID protocol, including Travis Konecny, Oskar Lindblom, Scott Laughton, Jakub Voracek, Claude Giroux and Justin Braun. Meanwhile, Morgan Frost was already on the injured reserve.

Pastrnak (7) opened the scoring 34 seconds into the first period after Patrice Bergeron blocked a shot in his own zone before sending Brad Marchand through the neutral zone with a pass that led to the two-on-one, one-timer opportunity for Pastrnak to rocket a shot past Hart.

Marchand (10) and Bergeron (12) tallied the assists on the game’s first goal as the Bruins took a, 1-0, lead less than a minute into Sunday’s action.

With the secondary assist on Pastrnak’s first goal of the game, Bergeron tied Bobby Orr for 5th place on Boston’s all time scoring list with 888 points in a Bruins uniform.

Meanwhile, Lauzon left the rink after just 34 seconds and later was ruled out for the rest of the night with an upper body injury as the Bruins would later confirm in a tweet during the first intermission.

Nearly six minutes into the opening frame, Joel Farabee (8) pounced on a puck that took a wild bounce off the endboards with enough juice to make it back into the slot while falling and fired it past Rask to tie the game, 1-1.

Sean Couturier (4) and James van Riemsdyk (12) notched the assists on Farabee’s goal at 6:41 of the first period.

In fact, van Riemsdyk’s secondary assist marked the 500th career NHL point for the 31-year-old New Jersey native.

By the end of the night, he had 502 career points– 208 in 343 games with the Flyers and 294 in 413 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs– as a result of his 1-2–3 totals in the loss.

Midway through the opening frame, Couturier tripped Marchand and was sent to the box with a minor infraction at 12:34.

Boston’s first chance on the power play did not go as well as they had hoped and resulted in a goal against in the vulnerable minute after special teams play.

Fresh out of the sin bin, Couturier (3) buried a loose puck from the low slot after McAvoy shattered his stick in the other end, then played catchup without a blade in his hands.

Kevin Hayes worked the puck to van Riemsdyk, but Rask made the initial save.

Hayes (8) and van Riemsdyk (13) still ended up grabbing the assists on Couturier’s goal as Philadelphia took their first lead of the night, 2-1, at 14:48.

Boston answered back in a hurry, however, when McAvoy (2) sent a blast from the point while Bergeron screened Hart in front of the net.

Marchand (11) and Clifton (1) tallied the assists on McAvoy’s goal at 15:27, as the Bruins tied the game, 2-2.

Entering the first intermission, the score was tied, 2-2, despite the Flyers holding an, 11-8, advantage in shots on goal.

Boston held the advantage in blocked shots (6-1), giveaways (1-0) and faceoff win percentage (58-42), while Philadelphia led in hits (13-8) after one period of action in Lake Tahoe.

Neither team had a takeaway, while the B’s were 0/1 on the power play heading into the middle frame (Philly had yet to see time on the skater advantage).

Less than a minute into the second period, Pastrnak (8) added his second goal of the night after ripping a shot high over Hart’s glove on short side under the bar.

Ritchie (7) and Vaakanainen (1) picked up the assists as Boston took a, 3-2, lead 46 seconds into the second period.

Vaakanainen’s secondary assist marked the first point of his NHL career in just his eighth game.

Meanwhile, the Flyers were penalized for too many skaters on the ice at 6:17, but the B’s weren’t able to convert on the ensuing power play.

Late in the second period, Boston kicked off a flurry of goals when Coyle (3) unleashed a shot off the post, off the back of Hart and into the net to give the Bruins a two-goal lead at 16:14.

Smith (3) had the only assist on Coyle’s goal as the B’s led, 4-2, for less than a minute before Frederic (1) sniped a shot high-side side from about the faceoff circle to the left of the Philadelphia netminder to make it a three-goal lead.

Moore (1) and Clifton (2) tallied the assists on Frederic’s first career NHL goal and the Bruins led, 5-2, at 16:47.

After serving the bench minor for too many skaters, Andy Andreoff took out his frustrations after two quick goals against by delivering his stick to Kuraly’s face.

The Flyers forward spent two more minutes in the penalty box– this time with a roughing infraction at 16:47.

About a minute into the resulting power play, Ritchie (5) tipped in a shot from the point by Moore to give Boston a power-play goal and a, 6-2, lead on the scoreboard.

Moore (2) and Smith (4) notched the assists at 17:53 of the second period as Boston riffled three goals in about 90 seconds.

Less than a minute later, Bjork was penalized for holding and gave Philly a power play at 18:16 of the second period.

After 40 minutes of play lakeside, the Bruins led, 6-2, on the scoreboard and, 23-14, in shots on goal, including a, 15-3, advantage in the second period alone.

Boston also held the lead in blocked shots (13-6), takeaways (3-2), giveaways (5-3) and faceoff win% (59-41), while Philadelphia led in hits (22-13).

The Flyers were 0/1 on the power play, while the Bruins were 1/3 on the skater advantage heading into the final frame of regulation.

Flyers head coach, Alain Vigneault, swapped goaltenders in the second intermission, replacing Hart with Elliott for the final period at Lake Tahoe.

Hart finished his night with six goals allowed on 23 shots, but in the process became the youngest goaltender to play in an outdoor NHL game at 22 years and 192 days old.

He beat Semyon Varlamov’s previous record of 22 years and 249 days back when Varlamov was the netminder for the Washington Capitals in the 2011 Winter Classic at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

Meanwhile, Bjork cut another rut to the penalty box for hooking Flyers defender, Shayne Gostisbehere at 9:31 of the third period– presenting another power play opportunity for Philadelphia.

Philly didn’t have any luck on their second skater advantage of the evening, but as the saying goes “the third time’s a charm” as Carlo was assessed an interference minor when colliding with Travis Sanheim in front of the Boston net at 12:37.

This time the Flyers won the ensuing faceoff, worked the puck around the attacking zone before Hayes found van Riemsdyk in front of the net in the low slot whereby van Riemsdyk (8) inadvertently sent the puck off Vaakanainen and into the twine behind Rask while trying to make a no-look between the legs pass.

Hayes (9) and Ivan Provorov (6) picked up the assists on van Riemsdyk’s power-play goal and the Flyers trailed, 6-3, at 12:45 of the third period.

Late in the game, Pastrnak (9) completed his hat trick thanks to a one-timer goal from one knee on a pass from Studnicka at 17:04.

Studnicka (1) had the only assist on Pastrnak’s third goal of the game and the Bruins took a four-goal lead, 7-3, while Pastrnak picked up his 10th career hat trick, as well as his 2nd hat trick of the season and just the 2nd hat trick in an outdoor NHL game in league history.

Tyler Toffoli scored a hat trick for the Los Angeles Kings in their, 3-1, win over the Avalanche at Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs, Colorado for the first outdoor NHL hat trick in the 2020 Stadium Series game.

Pastrnak’s hat trick, meanwhile, was the first outdoor hat trick in Bruins franchise history and gave Boston an outdoor record tying seven goals as the B’s matched the same outcome of the New York Rangers’, 7-3, victory against the New Jersey Devils in a 2014 Stadium Series game at Yankee Stadium.

The Rangers (four wins outside) are the only team with more outdoor wins than Boston (three) and Washington (three) as the Bruins picked up another outdoor victory over the Flyers at the final sound of the horn.

The Bruins finished the evening with a, 7-3, win on the scoreboard and a, 35-19, advantage in shots on goal.

Boston also wrapped up Sunday’s effort leading in blocked shots (16-8) and faceoff win% (52-48), while Philadelphia maintained the advantage in giveaways (6-5) and hits (31-23).

Both teams went 1/3 on the power play in the 60-minute effort.

The B’s improved to 7-1-0 (4-0-0 at home) when scoring first this season, while the Flyers fell to 3-3-1 (2-2-0 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal in 2020-21.

Boston also improved to 4-2-0 (2-1-0 at home) when tied after the first period and 6-0-0 (4-0-0 at home) when leading after two periods this season.

Meanwhile, Philadelphia fell to 2-2-1 (1-1-1 on the road) when tied after the first period, as well as 0-3-0 (0-2-0 on the road) when trailing after two periods this season.

The Bruins improved to 3-1-0 all time in outdoor NHL games, while the Flyers fell to 1-3-1 all time outside.

Boston and Philadelphia became the third pair of teams to face each other in an outdoor rematch (previous, Philadelphia vs. Pittsburgh– 2017 Stadium Series and 2019 Stadium Series, as well as Detroit vs. Toronto– 2014 Winter Classic and 2017 Centennial Classic).

The B’s begin a three-game road trip on Long Island and in Manhattan with a meeting against the New York Islanders on Feb. 25th, as well as a pair of games against the New York Rangers to close out the month of February on the 26th and 28th.

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Bruins Forecast NHL Nick's Net Projected Stats Tracker

Boston Bruins 2020-21 Forecast

Hello, friend.

Last season, I didn’t get around to posting my forecasts for the Boston Bruins, Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets and Vegas Golden Knights’ rosters.

I kept track of everything before the 2019-20 season began and after each quarter mark (roughly 20 games) as I normally do, but I just didn’t quite have the time and/or motivation to do a write up here on the blog for each one– let alone any of them.

This season, I’m already behind in presenting my findings entering 2020-21, but I’ve prepared all four teams’ player forecasts as usual.

To kick things off, we’ll take a look at how the 2020-21 season could’ve panned out if all Bruins players were healthy entering the 56-game season, but by the end of the month, Boston will already be 20 games into the season (provided nothing else is postponed) so it’ll be time for an updated forecast.

For the rest of the teams– including the addition of the Colorado Avalanche for a total of five teams being tracked this season– we’ll just take a gander at how things looked coming into 2020-21 and where each player is tracking after their respective 20-game mark.

In other words, Boston gets two posts (this one and another one in March) while Carolina, Colorado, Columbus and Vegas will each get a joint “forecast before the season began and forecast through 20 team games played” post, probably.

If you’re a fan of those teams and my… …expertise(?), I’m sorry. Please be patient. You’ve already been waiting since the last forecast I published in the 2018-19 season.

If you’re a fan of the B’s, well good news, let’s get into the forecast details.

As always, keep in mind that my degree is in communication and my minor was in sport management. I got a “C” in my Intro to Stats class in my first semester of college way back in *checks notes* the fall of 2013.

It was a night class and it was terrible, but I digress.

First year players are impossible to predict until they’ve had at least one National Hockey League game under their belt.

Young players that have had minimal NHL experience may also reflect “inflated” results.

No, Zach Senyshyn probably isn’t going to have 28 assists this season, but since he has two assists in six games over the last two seasons (his entire NHL career), the forecasting function in Microsoft Excel does math stuff based on his entire career as it would relate to if he played in all 56 games for Boston this season.

This will fix itself as the season progresses.

The same goes for Jack Studnicka’s forecasted 28 assists. Entering 2020-21, Studnicka has only played in two NHL games since just last season.

He’s already had a goal in six games this season and in the next forecast (after 20 team games played), he’ll likely be forecasted to have 1-8–9 totals by season’s end (assuming he plays in the remaining 36 games).

Forecast is different from pace.

Injuries, being a healthy scratch or on the taxi squad, other American Hockey League related or waiver related transactions, sickness, COVID protocol and general superstitions (getting enough sleep the night before a game, taping your stick a certain way every time, putting on the right skate before the left skate or whatever) may disrupt a player’s season.

These variables– tangible or not– are part of the game and cannot be accounted for in your everyday “straight up” forecast.

In an utopian timeline, this forecast pretends nothing bad could ever happen and every player has a chance to live up to their expectations. Of course, some will pan out, some will exceed expectations and some will miss the mark.

It’s merely a suggested outcome for a sport that’s highly unpredictable because of its collectivistic nature and sheer puck luck.


Boston Bruins Forecast Through 0 Games (56 Games Remaining)

Had the 2019-20 season gone according to schedule, David Pastrnak might not have missed any time to start the 2020-21 season.

Nevertheless, we’ll pretend that an alternate timeline stills exists for a moment and mention that if he had played in all 56 games this season, he was forecasted to lead the Bruins with 26-29–55 totals.

Brad Marchand was forecasted as the next highest scorer with 21 goals and 47 points, while David Krejci looked to lead the B’s in assists (29).

Of course, none of this is how it really happened, but Pastrnak is still off to a hot start, Marchand is feeling “100-percent” and Krejci is only now just about to miss game action, having not traveled with the team to Lake Tahoe for their outdoor matchup with the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday night.

Senyshyn and Studnicka’s assist totals have been highlighted in the chart above in reference to what’s already been stated in the introduction to this post.

Newcomer, Craig Smith, was forecasted to hit the twine 13 times and accrue 14 assists for 27 points this season, while Ondrej Kase was expected to notch 27 points in a 56-game season prior to injury.

On defense, the loss of Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug is expected to be felt on the scoresheet, though we’re likely to see Charlie McAvoy’s stock rise in the next forecast after 20 team games played.

Speaking of McAvoy, he was expected to lead the team in points from the blue line entering the 2020-21 season with 6-22–28 totals.

In goal, Boston’s poised for another strong run from their goaltending tandem of Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak.

Though Rask is likely to get more starts than Halak, the two are prime for producing similar numbers this season in differing workloads.

Rask is set for another season with a goals against average in the low two’s, between 2.28 and 2.34, while Halak is right on track for being one of– if not– the best “backups” in the league with a forecasted GAA between 2.48 and 2.72.

Stay tuned for the next forecast in about four games– however soon that will be, provided nothing else is postponed and the Bruins can avoid piling up names on the league’s COVID Protocol list.

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NHL Nick's Net

Palmieri nets two as Devils defeat Bruins, 3-2

Kyle Palmieri scored a pair of goals as the New Jersey Devils beat the Boston Bruins, 3-2, at TD Garden on Thursday night in Boston.

Mackenzie Blackwood (4-0-1, 1.94 goals against average, .945 save percentage in five games played) made 25 saves on 27 shots faced for a .926 SV% in the win for New Jersey.

Boston netminder, Jaroslav Halak (4-1-1, 1.66 GAA, .928 SV% in six games played) stopped 23 out of 26 shots against (.885 SV%) in the loss.

The Bruins fell to 10-3-2 (22 points) on the season, but remained in command of the MassMutual NHL East Division lead, while the Devils improved to 6-3-2 (14 points) overall and stagnant in 6th place in the division.

Once more, the Bruins were without the services of Ondrej Kase (upper body) and Matt Grzelcyk (lower body), but Jakub Zboril (upper body) joined the pair of injured teammates in the press box on Thursday night– missing his first game of the season due to an injury sustained on Feb. 13th in the, 4-2, loss at the Islanders.

Kase missed his 13th game due to an injury sustained on Jan. 16th in New Jersey, while Grzelcyk missed his ninth game due to an injury originally sustained on Jan. 21st against Philadelphia, then re-aggravated on Jan. 28th against Pittsburgh and on Feb. 10th in New York (against the Rangers).

As a result of the injuries and more, Boston’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, jumbled his lines.

Jake DeBrusk replaced David Pastrnak on the first line right wing with Brad Marchand at left wing and captain, Patrice Bergeron, at center.

Pastrnak was “demoted” to the second line with Nick Ritchie and David Krejci, while Trent Frederic, Charlie Coyle and Craig Smith were reunited on the third line.

Anders Bjork, Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner made up the fourth line.

On defense, Cassidy left Jeremy Lauzon with Charlie McAvoy on the first defensive pairing, while John Moore filled in Grzelcyk’s usual role on the second pairing with Brandon Carlo and Connor Clifton was slotted into Zboril’s spot alongside Kevan Miller.

Greg McKegg, Steven Kampfer, Urho Vaakanainen, Callum Booth and Karson Kuhlman made up Boston’s taxi squad on Thursday, while Anton Blidh was assigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Wednesday and Par Lindholm had his contract terminated by the club on Monday after being placed on waivers for the purpose of terminating his deal on Sunday.

Lindholm signed a multiyear contract with Skellefteå AIK in his return to the Swedish Hockey League (SHL).

Not much happened in the first period. In fact, so much not much that the only event on the scoresheet was a penalty against Wagner for tripping Devils forward, Miles Wood, at 10:29.

New Jersey did not convert on the ensuing power play.

After one period of action Thursday night at TD Garden, the game was tied, 0-0, on the scoreboard and in shots on goal, 7-7.

Boston held the advantage in blocked shots (7-4) and giveaways (5-3), while New Jersey led in hits (9-8).

Both teams managed three takeaways aside and split faceoff win percentage (50-50).

The Devils were 0/1 on the power play, while the Bruins had yet to see time on the skater advantage heading into the first intermission.

Early in the middle period, Jack Hughes pulled both Boston defenders out of position before dropping a pass to Palmieri (1) for the wrist shot goal over Halak’s glove side.

Hughes (6) had the only assist on Palmieri’s first goal of the night as the Devils took the lead, 1-0, at 1:34 of the second period.

Less than a minute later, Palmieri cut a rut to the penalty box with McAvoy after the two players roughed each other up a bit after a stoppage in play, resulting in 4-on-4 action for a pair of minutes at 2:14 of the middle frame.

Moments later, Moore tripped Jesper Bratt and was sent to the sin bin at 8:01, yielding a power play to New Jersey in the process.

Once again the Devils weren’t able to convert on the skater advantage, however, as P.K. Subban caught Bjork with a high stick and drew blood at 9:05 of the second period, resulting in a four-minute double minor penalty on Subban.

The two clubs shared 56 seconds of 4-on-4 action before the Bruins began an extended power play for a span of 3:04.

While shorthanded, the Devils forced a turnover in the neutral zone, presenting Palmieri (2) with a clear lane to the net for his second goal of the night on a similar shot to his first goal of the game.

Damon Severson (5) and Bratt (3) tallied the assists on Palmieri’s shorthanded goal as New Jersey led, 2-0, at 10:39 of the second period.

In the waning minute of their power play, DeBrusk (1) found a loose puck in the slot and buried a shot over Blackwood’s blocker side to cut New Jersey’s lead in half, 2-1, and give Boston their first goal of the night.

DeBrusk’s power-play goal was unassisted at 12:36.

Moments later, the Bruins tweeted that Krejci (lower body) would not return to the night’s action– necessitating some changes to Cassidy’s in-game lineup.

Late in the period, Nathan Bastian and Coyle received matching roughing minors after yet another post-whistle scrum at 15:08.

On the ensuing 4-on-4 action, New Jersey worked the puck in the offensive zone while Moore and Carlo struggled to remain in proper positioning in their own end.

Andreas Johnsson sent a pass to Pavel Zacha (4) for a one-timer goal over Halak’s blocker from the inside circle to the Bruins netminder’s right side.

Johnsson (2) and Will Butcher (1) notched the assists on Zacha’s goal and the Devils led, 3-1, at 15:37 of the second period.

Through 40 minutes of play on Thursday, New Jersey led, 3-1, on the scoreboard and, 18-15, in shots on goal, including an, 11-8, advantage in the second period alone while Boston struggled on home ice.

The Bruins led in blocked shots (11-8), giveaways (8-6) and faceoff win% (58-43), while the Devils led in takeaways (5-4) and hits (16-15).

New Jersey was 0/2 on the power play, while Boston was 1/2 on the skater advantage entering the final frame of regulation.

The Bruins found themselves shorthanded when Lauzon tripped Palmieri at 7:01 of the third period, but made matters worse when Marchand caught Hughes with a high stick at 7:36 and presented the Devils with a two-skater advantage for 1:25.

Boston’s penalty kill got the job done, however.

Late in the final frame, Ty Smith sent an errant puck clear over the glass and received a minor infraction for delay of game at 17:49, presenting the B’s with a power play that– if they couldn’t score– would expire with 11 seconds left in the game.

Cassidy pulled Halak for an extra attacker to make it a 6-on-4 advantage for Boston.

About a minute into the ensuing power play, Pastrnak fired a shot from the point that McAvoy (2) deflected while battling Dmitry Kulikov in the slot to pull Boston to within one goal.

Pastrnak (6) and Ritchie (6) were credited with the assists on the power-play goal and the Bruins trailed, 3-2, at 18:54 of the third period.

With 1:06 to go, Cassidy used his timeout to rally Boston for another goal, but it was too little, too late as the final horn sounded 66 seconds later.

New Jersey emerged victorious, 3-2, as time expired.

The Bruins finished with the advantage in shots on goal, 27-26, including a, 12-8, advantage in shots on goal in the third period alone.

Boston also wrapped up Thursday night’s action leading in blocked shots (16-13), giveaways (11-9) and faceoff win% (61-39), while the New Jersey finished the night leading in hits (24-21).

The Devils went 0/4 on the skater advantage while the B’s converted on 2/3 power play opportunities.

The B’s fell to 3-2-0 (1-1-0 at home) when tied after the first period, 2-1-1 (1-1-0 at home) when trailing after two periods and 4-2-2 (1-1-0 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal this season.

New Jersey, meanwhile, improved to 2-1-1 (2-0-1 on the road) when tied after the first period, 4-0-0 (3-0-0 on the road) when leading after two periods and 6-1-0 (4-0-0 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal this season.

The Bruins hit the road for a home game outdoors at Lake Tahoe against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday (2 p.m. ET on NBC) before returning to the road for a three-game road trip against the New York Islanders on Feb. 25th and New York Rangers on Feb. 26th, as well as Feb. 28th.

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NHL Nick's Net

Islanders beat Bruins, 4-2, B’s five-game win streak ends

After winning their last five games (and on the road, too), the Boston Bruins fell to the New York Islanders, 4-2, on Saturday night at Nassau Live at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Islanders goaltender, Semyon Varlamov (6-2-2, 1.98 goals against average, .930 save percentage in ten games played) stopped 28 out of 30 shots faced for a .933 SV% in the win.

Bruins netminder, Tuukka Rask (6-2-1, 2.51 GAA, .906 SV% in nine games played) made 38 saves on 42 shots against for a .905 SV% in the loss.

Boston fell to 10-2-2 (22 points) on the season, but remained in 1st place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while New York improved to 6-4-3 (15 points), but stuck in 4th place in the division.

Ondrej Kase (upper body) missed his 12th game this season due to an injury sustained on Jan. 16th in New Jersey, while Matt Grzelcyk (lower body) missed his eighth game of the season due to a lingering injury originally sustained on Jan. 21st against Philadelphia, then re-aggravated on Jan. 28th against Pittsburgh and again on Feb. 10th in New York (against the Rangers).

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made one change to his lineup from Friday night’s, 1-0, win against the Rangers, replacing Connor Clifton on the second defensive pairing with John Moore, who made his season debut.

Par Lindholm, Clifton, Anton Blidh, Karson Kuhlman, Greg McKegg, Steven Kampfer and Callum Booth served as Boston’s healthy scratches and/or taxi squad members on Saturday night.

Midway through the opening frame, Brad Marchand (9) fired the puck past Varlamov on the blocker side from the slot on a catch and release shot after Patrice Bergeron fed Marchand with a pass.

Bergeron (11) and David Pastrnak (4) tallied the assists on Marchand’s goal and the Bruins led, 1-0, at 8:41 of the first period.

Boston earned a little over a minute of consecutive attacking zone time leading up to Marchand’s goal in a dominant display of possession as Saturday night’s action got going.

A few minutes later, Islanders defender, Ryan Pulock fed the slot where Jean-Gabriel Pageau hacked at the puck before Leo Komarov (1) put the finishing touch on it– sneaking the puck behind Rask and tying the game, 1-1, in the process.

Pageau (4) and Pulock (5) notched the assists on Komarov’s first goal of the season at 11:36.

Almost four minutes later, New York took the lead on a tremendous momentum swing whereby Jordan Eberle (6) rocketed an old-school blast from the faceoff circle off of Rask’s leg pad and through the five-hole at 15:16 of the first period.

Brock Nelson (3) and Scott Mayfield (1) had the assists on Eberle’s goal and the Islanders led, 2-1.

Entering the first intermission, New York had the lead on the scoreboard, as well as shots on goal, 15-7.

The Isles also dominated in blocked shots (6-2) and hits (15-13), while Boston led in faceoff win percentage (65-35).

Both clubs had two takeaways and two giveaways each after one period of action and had yet to see any time on the skater advantage.

Prior to the start of the middle period, the Bruins tweeted that defender, Jakub Zboril, would not return to Saturday night’s game with an upper body injury.

Almost midway through the second period, Adam Pelech cross checked Pastrnak and received a minor infraction at 7:47.

Boston did not convert on the ensuing power play– the first skater advantage of the night.

Late in the period, Pastrnak worked the puck up to Marchand through the neutral zone, whereby Marchand then setup Bergeron (7) for another catch and release goal over Varlamov’s blocker side at 16:51.

Marchand (9) and Pastrnak (5) were credited with the assists on Bergeron’s goal and the Bruins tied the game, 2-2.

Through 40 minutes of action at the Coliseum, the score was tied, 2-2, despite the Islanders holding a, 30-16, advantage in shots on goal, including a, 15-9, advantage in just the second period alone.

New York also led in blocked shots (9-7), takeaways (5-2) and hits (29-23), while the B’s led in giveaways (9-5) and faceoff win% (62-38).

Boston was 0/1 on the power play, while the Isles had yet to see any time on the skater advantage heading into the second intermission.

Pastrnak hooked Mathew Barzal at 4:09 of the third period and the penalty proved to be costly for the Bruins as New York took full advantage of their only power play of the night.

Barzal (6) gave the Islanders a go-ahead power-play goal on a one-timer that sailed over Rask’s blocker side from close range.

Anders Lee (3) and Eberle (3) had the assist’s on Barzal’s goal as the Islanders took a, 3-2, lead at 5:30 of the third period.

Past the midpoint of the final frame, Eberle caught Jeremy Lauzon with a high stick at 13:37, but the Bruins were no match for New York’s penalty kill.

In fact, Boston’s power play gave up a goal as Komarov fed Pageau (4) with a short breakaway, leading to a shot past Rask’s glove side into the back of the twine to make it, 4-2, for the Islanders.

Komarov (2) had the only assist on Pageau’s shorthanded insurance goal at 14:32.

It was the first shorthanded goal against allowed by Boston this season.

With 2:40 remaining in Saturday night’s action, Cassidy pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker, but it was to no avail as the Islanders defense stood tall against Boston’s last-ditch effort.

At the final horn, New York had won, 4-2.

The Islanders finished the night leading in shots on goal, 42-30, despite trailing, 14-12, in shots in the third period alone.

The Isles also wrapped up the night leading in blocked shots (13-12) and hits (36-27), while Boston finished the effort leading in giveaways (14-11) and faceoff win% (64-37).

New York went 1/1 on the power play, while the Bruins finished 0/2 on the skater advantage– reminiscent of their 0-2-0 record on Long Island this season.

Both of Boston’s regulation losses this season have been against the Islanders at Nassau Live at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

The Bruins fell to 6-1-0 (3-1-0 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal, while the Islanders improved to 1-3-2 (1-0-0 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal this season.

Boston also fell to 2-1-2 when trailing after the first period, as well as 3-2-1 when tied after two periods this season.

New York, meanwhile, improved to 4-1-1 when leading after the first period and 4-1-2 when tied after two periods this season.

The B’s were scheduled to face the New Jersey Devils at home on Monday (Feb. 15th), but that game has been postponed due to many of the Devils players being in COVID protocol recently.

New Jersey is scheduled to return to practice on Monday, which means next Thursday (Feb. 18th) remains on tap for Boston’s next home game (unless it, too, becomes postponed). Boston then travels to Lake Tahoe for an outdoor game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Feb. 21st.

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NHL Nick's Net

Halak, Bruins shutout Rangers, 1-0

Nick Ritchie scored the only goal, while Jaroslav Halak stopped 21 shots in a, 1-0, shutout for the Boston Bruins over the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Friday night.

Halak (4-0-1, 1.38 goals against, .938 save percentage in five games played) earned his 51st career shutout in the win, as well as Boston’s first shutout of the season in his first start since Feb. 1st after B’s starting goaltender, Tuukka Rask, played in the last three games.

Rask got the bulk of the workload due to additional days off thanks to a pair of games with the Buffalo Sabres having been postponed due to the league’s COVID protocol.

Rangers goaltender, Igor Shesterkin (3-4-1, 2.16 GAA, .922 SV% in nine games played) made 29 saves on 30 shots faced for a .967 SV% in the loss.

The Bruins improved to 10-1-2 (22 points) and remained 1st in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while the Rangers fell to 4-6-3 (11 points) overall and stuck in 6th place in the division.

The Bruins were without the services of Ondrej Kase (upper body) and Matt Grzelcyk (lower body) on Friday as both players were out of the lineup due to injury.

Kase’s missed 11 games this season due to an upper body injury sustained on Jan. 16th at New Jersey, while Grzelcyk returned to the lineup on Wednesday night, but re-aggravated his nagging lower body injury and was held out of Friday night’s matchup– missing his seventh game of the season in the process.

As a result, Boston head coach, Bruce Cassidy, replaced Grzelcyk with Connor Clifton on the second defensive pairing and made no other changes to his lineup from Wednesday night’s, 3-2, overtime win in New York.

Greg McKegg, Par Lindholm, John Moore, Steven Kampfer, Callum Booth, Anton Blidh and Karson Kuhlman made up Boston’s all healthy scratches and/or taxi squad members Friday night.

Brad Marchand and Mika Zibanejad had a standoff after the pregame warmup as neither player would leave the ice (both players like to be the last one off the rink for their respective teams).

Marchand lost an ensuing rock-paper-scissors battle, which left Zibanejad as the last player off about five minutes after the ice resurfacing machines had already passed them by.

Less than a minute into the opening frame, Clifton inadvertently sent the puck over the glass and drew an automatic delay of game infraction 56 seconds into the first period.

New York did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Moments later, Kaapo Kakko tripped Craig Smith and presented the Bruins with their first power play of the night at 6:02 of the first period, but Boston’s power play was also equally as powerless.

Late in first period, Brandon Carlo was penalized for interference, but the Rangers couldn’t muster anything on the power play at 17:01.

Entering the first intermission at Madison Square Garden on Friday night, the Bruins and Rangers were tied, 0-0, on the scoreboard, despite New York holding a, 10-6, advantage in shots on goal.

The Blue Shirts also held the advantage in takeaways (4-3) and hits (14-7), while the B’s led in blocked shots (5-2) and faceoff win percentage (56-44).

Both teams had three giveaways each, while the Rangers were 0/2 and the Bruins were 0/1 on the power play after one period of action.

Early in the middle frame, Charlie Coyle slashed Julien Gauthier and was sent to the sin bin as a result.

New York couldn’t convert on the resulting power play at 2:12 of the second period, however, and was quickly shorthanded themselves after their skater advantage ended when Brendan Lemieux was dealt a minor for boarding against Sean Kuraly at 4:23.

Boston couldn’t find the back of the net on the resulting power play.

Moments later, Charlie McAvoy and Jacob Trouba exchanged pleasantries and received roughing minors at 6:33 after a few quick punches were thrown.

Trouba picked up an extra roughing infraction, yielding another power play to Boston that went unfulfilled.

In the vulnerable minute after the skater advantage, however, Ritchie (5) pocketed the puck off of Shesterkin’s pad and in between the post for the game’s only goal at 9:27 of the second period.

David Krejci (10) and Jeremy Lauzon (3) tallied the assists on Ritchie’s goal and the Bruins led, 1-0.

On the ensuing faceoff, Trent Frederic and Lemieux dropped the gloves before attempting to bash each others’ faces in with their fists.

The two players received fighting majors at 9:28 and play continued at even strength, 5-on-5.

It was the fifth fight of the second for Boston and first since Chris Wagner fought Anthony Bitetto on Wednesday night in New York.

About a minute later, after a post-whistle scrum, Marchand cross checked Brett Howden, who countered with a slash on Marchand, while Kuraly was being assessed a boarding penalty on the original call.

With Marchand and Kuraly heading to the box while only one Ranger (Howden) cut a rut to the sin bin, New York went on the power play at 10:41 of the second period.

The Blue Shirts were not successful on the ensuing advantage.

Late in the period, Lauzon and Pavel Buchnevich gave it a go behind the play after Lauzon finished his hit on the Rangers forward behind Halak in New York’s attacking zone.

Buchnevich received five-minutes for fighting, while Lauzon picked up a fighting major as well as a ten-minute misconduct at 15:14.

It was the sixth fight of the season for Boston and the first since Frederic and Lemieux dropped the gloves earlier in the second period.

Through 40 minutes of action on Friday night, the Bruins led, 1-0, on the scoreboard and, 24-16, in shots on goal, including an, 18-6, advantage in shots on goal in the second period alone.

Boston also held the advantage in faceoff win% (56-44), while New York led in takeaways (11-5), giveaways (8-4) and hits (23-15).

Both teams had eight blocked shots aside after two periods.

The Rangers were 0/4 and the B’s were 0/3 on the power play heading into the second intermission.

Trouba was guilty of holding Anders Bjork at 1:38 of the third period and presented Boston with an early power play to kick off the action in the final frame of regulation, but the Bruins– once again– could not score on the skater advantage.

McAvoy tripped Kakko and presented the Rangers with a power play at 4:31 of the third period, but New York couldn’t fire anything past Halak on the resulting 5-on-4 advantage.

With 6:38 remaining in the game, Ryan Lindgren smacked his face along the glass on a followthrough from Lauzon landing an otherwise clean bodycheck.

Lindgren had a cut above the eye and was able to skate off on his own power, get a towel on the bench and some minor repairs before returning to the action in the closing minutes unscathed.

Rangers head coach, David Quinn, pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker with 1:10 left in the game, but even despite calling a timeout and having a 6-on-4 advantage after McAvoy cleared the rubber biscuit over the glass for an automatic delay of game penalty at 18:58, New York couldn’t execute a game-tying plan.

At the final horn, Boston had won, 1-0, and earned a shutout on the road at Madison Square Garden for the first time since March 9, 2008, when Alex Auld earned a shutout in a, 1-0, shootout loss for the Bruins.

The B’s finished Friday night’s effort leading in shots on goal, 30-21, including a, 6-5, advantage in the third period alone.

Boston also maintained a lead in blocked shots (18-12) and faceoff win% (54-46), while New York capped off the night leading in giveaways (9-5) and hits (31-23).

The Rangers went 0/6 on the power play, while the Bruins were 0/4 Friday night.

The Bruins extended their winning streak to five games– earning each of them on the road in the process.

Boston improved to 3-1-0 when tied after the first period, 5-0-0 when leading after two periods and 6-0-0 when scoring the game’s first goal this season with the win.

The Bruins face the New York Islanders on the road Saturday before returning home (possibly) to face the New Jersey Devils on Feb. 18th (if it doesn’t get postponed).

New Jersey still has a lot of players in COVID protocol, so there’s no guarantee that Boston will play another home game before taking on the Philadelphia Flyers outdoors on Feb. 21st at Lake Tahoe.

And if the Flyers have too many players in COVID protocol, the Rangers are reportedly ready to make the trip to face Boston outdoors.