Tag Archives: 1989 NHL Entry Draft

April 6 – Day 169 – Pacific pandemonium

Buckle up for a wild Thursday.

There’s a dozen games on tap this evening, starting with four (Ottawa at Boston [NBCSN/RDS], Pittsburgh at New Jersey [SN360], the New York Islanders at Carolina and Winnipeg at Columbus) at 7 p.m. and another two (Tampa Bay at Toronto [TVAS] and St. Louis at Florida) half an hour later. 8:30 p.m. marks the puck drop of Nashville at Dallas, with Minnesota at Colorado waiting 30 minutes before getting underway. A pair of contests (Vancouver at Arizona and Chicago at Anaheim [NBCSN]) see their start at 10 p.m., with our co-nightcaps – Calgary at Los Angeles (SN360) and Edmonton at San Jose – dropping the puck half an hour later. All times eastern.

Short list:

  • Ottawa at Boston: These clubs are tied at 94 points apiece for second and third place in the Atlantic Division.
  • Tampa Bay at Toronto: Tampa‘s postseason dreams are still alive, but they’ll be dashed with a loss this evening.
  • Chicago at Anaheim: Chicago has already clinched home ice throughout the Western Conference playoffs, but the Ducks still have some work to do within the Pacific Division.
  • Edmonton at San Jose: Speaking of the Pacific, these squads are tied at 97 points apiece for second and third place.

Of that list, the two tie-breaking games certainly stand out among the rest. It’s a tough choice between them, and I don’t think there’s really a wrong answer.

But…

Since Montréal has already clinched the Atlantic and both the Oilers and Sharks can still win their division, we have to turn our attention to The Tank for this episode Pacific Pandemonium!

 

No, not pandamonium. Pandemonium.

Though, come to think of it, that is a good representation of what is going on out West.

The top three teams in the Pacific are all over each other, and each still has a chance to advance into first place in the group. In fact, this panda .gif is so accurate, it even shows the fourth-place Flames leaving the tussle, as they’re already locked into one of the wild cards.

To continue with our panda metaphor, the bear at the bottom of the pile is certainly the 45-28-7 Sharks. Though tied with Edmonton on points, they’ve played one more game to put them in third place. Should they fall tonight, whether it be in regulation or extra-time, they will be unable to claim the top seed in the division.

The reason they’ve fallen from grace is their 1-8-0 record over the second half of March. As pointed out the last time we featured San Jose, it led the Pacific by five points at the beginning of the month. Now, the Sharks are simply fighting for home ice in the first round.

That article went on bemoaning the Sharks and their play of late. Somebody in San Jose‘s front office must have read it, because things have certainly changed since the beginning of April.

San Jose enters tonight’s game on a two-game winning streak (their first since March 12-14), and it’s all because 35-22-6 Martin Jones rediscovered his game. Over the second half of March, Jones posted an atrocious .862 save percentage and 3.85 GAA. Simply put, you’re not going to win many games that way.

Jones’ goaltending coach is Johan Hedberg, himself a former NHL goaltender.  Undoubtedly, Hedberg probably also went through tough patches like Jones did. Whatever he said or did with Jones has obviously worked, as the Sharks have their number one goalie back.

Jones hasn’t been just good in these last two games, he’s been great. He’s posted an incredible .969 save percentage and averaged only one goal-allowed, both numbers that are near the top of the league to start the month.

One of the best tests of a goalie is his performance against the power play, especially when the penalty kill in front of him manages only an average 80.9% kill rate on the campaign. Of all the goaltenders to have faced at least eight power play shots in the past four days, Jones is one of only six to have saved all of them.

There is still one remnant from the losing skid, though it’s no surprise given the Sharks‘ season success rate of only 16.7% on the power play that ties for sixth-worst in the NHL. San Jose has converted neither of its extra-man opportunities this month even though both Brent Burns and Joe Pavelski – the Sharks‘ best players on the man-advantage – have not missed any time.

With a game-in-hand on the Pacific-leading Ducks, 44-26-9 Edmonton still has its sights set on hoisting its first Division Champion banner since 1992. They can make a strong step in that direction with a win tonight.

It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Oilers did just that (win, that is), as they’ve earned a 9-2-0 record in their past 11 games – the third-best record in the league in that time.

The only thing better than Edmonton‘s record is its propensity for scoring the puck. 44 Oilers goals have been struck since March 14, the most in the league since then. I probably don’t need to tell you who’s behind most of those tallies, but would I be doing my job if I didn’t?

Simply put, Connor McDavid is really, really good at hockey. He’s registered 20 points in his past 11 games to pace the league since mid-March. What is truly impressive about McDavid’s late-season surge is that he’s calling his number more often. He’s only notched 29 goals on the season, a surprisingly low total since he’s effectively locked up his first Art Ross Trophy. But lately? He’s buried six of those tallies in the last 11 contests, a run that is matched by line-mate Patrick Maroon to co-lead the squad.

The Oil‘s offensive dominance continues on the power play, where it has converted an impressive 28.9% to rank sixth-best in the league since mid-March. McDavid is joined on this attack by Leon Draisaitl and Milan Lucic, as they’ve all notched five man-advantage points in the past 24 days. Lucic has been especially impressive during this run, as four of his points have been goals, which ties for the second-highest total in the NHL in that time.

Edmonton‘s penalty kill has also been excellent of late, as it’s properly defended and neutralized 85.7% of its infractions to tie for the sixth-best mark in the league since mid-March. Andrej Sekera deserves a lot of the credit for that success, as he’s blocked eight shots on the penalty kill in the past 11 games, which ties for second-most in the league.

The Oilers own a one-point lead in the series between these clubs this season, thanks to forcing overtime they first ran into the Sharks on December 23. These clubs last met March 30 in Edmonton, where the Oil bested San Jose 3-2 thanks to Maroon’s two-goal night.

Some players to keep an eye on this evening include Edmonton‘s Draisaitl (75 points [eighth-most in the league] on 47 assists [tied for ninth-most in the NHL]), McDavid (66 assists for 95 points [both lead the league] and a +25 [10th-best in the NHL]) and Cam Talbot (40 wins [third-most in the league], including seven shutouts [tied for third-most in the NHL]) & San Jose‘s Burns (74 points [ninth-most in the league]) and Jones (35 wins [seventh-most in the NHL]).

I’m surprised: Vegas favors the Sharks to win tonight on a -125 line. While Jones’ resurgence have helped to cool my doubts about San Jose going into the playoffs, I still don’t think it’s enough to fend off the Oilers‘ dominant offense.

Hockey Birthday

  • Connie Broden (1932-2013) – This center did the unthinkable by the standards of today’s game: he played only six regular season games in the NHL – all with the Canadiens – and scored only three points, but he hoisted two Stanley Cups. Talk about an effective career!
  • Michel Larocque (1952-1992) – This goaltender was selected sixth-overall by Montréal in the 1972 NHL Amateur Draft, and that’s where he played most of his 11 seasons. Amassing a career 160-89-45 record, he won four Vezina Trophies and the 1979 Stanley Cup.
  • Olaf Kolzig (1970-) – The only South African to play in the NHL to date, this goaltender was the 19th-overall pick by Washington in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft. All but one of his 17 seasons were spent with the Capitals, and he won the 2000 Vezina and 2006 King Clancy Memorial Trophies and played in two All-Star Games before retiring.
  • Hal Gill (1975-) – Another player to spend most of his career with the club that drafted him, this defenseman was selected by Boston in the eighth round of the 1993 NHL Entry Draft. He hoisted his lone Stanley Cup as a member of the Penguins‘ 2009 squad.
  • Ville Nieminen (1977-) – This NHL journeyman was picked by Colorado 78th-overall in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft. In only seven seasons, he played with seven different clubs, but before being shipped off from the Avalanche, he helped them to the 2001 Stanley Cup.
  • Travis Moen (1982-) – Calgary selected this left wing in the fifth round of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, but he never played a game with the Flames. Instead, he spent half of his 12-year career in Montréal. Another Stanley Cup winner, he was a member of the 2007 Ducks.
  • Clarke MacArthur (1985-) – Buffalo selected this left wing 74th-overall in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, but he’s in his fourth season with the Senators. Due to suffering a concussion during training camp, he finally made his season debut Tuesday.

With a two-goal shutout victory over the Rangers in yesterday’s DtFR Game of the Day, I present you your 2016-’17 regular season champion, the back-to-back Presidents’ Trophy-winning Washington Capitals!

With four prominent skaters healing up in the press box, the Rangers entered this contest over-matched. That being said, they managed to keep the Capitals off the board until only 5:11 remained in the second period. Alex Ovechkin (Second Star of the Game Evgeny Kuznetsov and Third Star Marcus Johansson) took advantage of a Brendan Smith holding penalty to score a deflected power play goal.

That was the only tally Washington managed before the second intermission, meaning the game’s lone insurance goal was struck in the third period. It came off Kuznetsov’s (Johansson and Justin Williams) stick, a wrist shot 5:42 into the frame.

First Star Braden Holtby earned the victory after saving all 24 shots he faced, leaving the loss to Henrik Lundqvist, who saved 23-of-25 (92%).

With the final playoff pushes seeing their last breaths, hosts in the DtFR Game of the Day series are truly taking advantage of their home-ice advantage. They’ve improved their records in the series to 87-59-25 (seven points better than the road teams) by winning six of the last seven games.

March 31 – Day 163 – Keeping it in Alberta

Welcome to the penultimate Friday in the NHL’s regular season. Unless you’re a fan of one of the 16 teams heading for the playoffs, there’s not much hockey left to be watched so make sure to catch the rest of this season’s games!

Tonight’s festivities start with Pittsburgh at the New York Rangers (SN) at 7 p.m., followed half an hour later by New Jersey at the New York Islanders. 8:30 p.m. marks the puck drop of Columbus at Chicago,  with two more (St. Louis at Colorado and San Jose at Calgary) getting underway at the top of the hour. Two contests – Los Angeles at Vancouver (SN360) and Washington at Arizona – share the role of nightcap and get started at 10 p.m. All times eastern.

Short list:

  • Pittsburgh at New York: Not only is it a rematch of last year’s Eastern Quarterfinals, but the Blueshirts could pull within four points of third place in the Metropolitan Division.
  • Columbus at Chicago: Two of the three best teams in the league? Yes please.
  • San Jose at Calgary: Thanks to the Sharks‘ loss last night, the Flames are only three points out of third place in the Pacific Division.

I’d love to watch the Hawks and Jackets square off, but it doesn’t have major playoff implications – and that’s what we’re all about this time of year. As much as I dislike repeating teams on back-to-back nights, it looks like we have to catch the Sharks‘ plane to Calgary for another important Pacific tilt.

 

If the Sharks can be happy about anything right now, it’s that today is the final day in what has been a dreadful March for them. Their 6-9-0 mark is tied with Arizona for the sixth-worst record in the month, and being compared to Coyotes in anything is usually a sign of trouble.

What makes the recent struggles an even harder pill to swallow is that it is spoiling an overall solid regular season. When the final game in February was played, San Jose was not only leading the Pacific Division by five points, but also trailed Minnesota by only seven points for the top seed in the Western Conference.

Thirty days later, the 43-27-7 Sharks sit alone in third place in the division, and four teams separate them from home ice throughout the conference playoffs. It leaves a club and fan base that entered the season on a quest to hoist its first Stanley Cup wondering if they can even escape what will be a very trying quarterfinals matchup against the Ducks, Flames, Oilers or possibly even the Blackhawks.

As I mentioned yesterday, it’s been an nearly all-inclusive collapse (defense notwithstanding) by the Sharks that has resulted in their horrendous run over the past 15 games.

Since 33-32-6 Martin Jones was in net last night, I’d assume 10-6-1 Aaron Dell will start in goal tonight (of course, I tabbed Dell to start yesterday and I was wrong, so who knows?). Dell has actually been a solid backup all season, as his .928 save percentage and 2.09 GAA are not only better than Jones’ effort, but also rank (t)third and fourth-best in the league among the 56 netminders with at least 16 appearances.

Whether we get that Dell or the Dell that has seen his save percentage drop to .915 in March remains to be seen, but you can plan on Justin Braun and San Jose‘s defense playing as strong as ever.

All season the goal has been to keep pucks off Dell and Jones’ crease as much as possible, and they’ve done an excellent job in achieving just that. All year, they’ve allowed only 27.5 shots-against per game – the third-best rate in the league – and they’ve actually been slightly better of late, allowing only 27.1 per game in March.

No Shark deserves more credit for that than Braun. He’s been the defensive stalwart of the club all year, and it shows in his team-leading 154 shot blocks. Another that has done well defensively is Joe Thornton, but he does his work before the opposition even thinks about firing at the net. He leads the squad in takeaways with 64 (tied for eighth-most in the league), including 13 this month.

The goaltending issues have proven to be especially detrimental to San Jose‘s penalty kill. Since it has been only an average effort on the season as a whole (80.8% kill rate is 15th-worst in the NHL), taking away the luxury of a usually-reliable backstop has dropped the Sharks to ninth-worst in March, neutralizing only 78% of their infractions. Dell has saved only 85% of the power play shots that have come his way this month, the 14th-worst effort among the 38 goalies with at least six March appearances.

Special teams seem to be a struggle for Peter DeBoer’s squad this year, as his power play has actually been worse than his penalty kill. The Sharks rank seventh-worst on the season with their 17.1% success rate with the man-advantage.

It’s surprising that San Jose has been so poor, mostly because they have one weapon few can match: Brent Burns. The offensive-minded blueliner has notched 24 points on the power play this campaign, which ties for 16th-most in the NHL.

Perhaps the Sharks‘ mojo has relocated itself to Cowtown. Currently in possession of a 43-30-4 record and the West’s first wild card, the Flames have earned a 15-4-1 record since February 15. That ties Columbus for the best mark in that time, though I’d argue the Flames have been better with one fewer game played.

I may actually be on to something regarding San Jose‘s mojo, as Brian Elliott has been fantastic during this run. After a rocky start to the season, he’s reclaimed the starting job in Calgary and made it his own. Since mid-February, he’s earned a .933 save percentage and a 1.97 GAA, the fourth and fifth-best marks in the league, respectively, among the 33 goalies with at least nine appearances in that time.

Tonight is the fourth of five games between these clubs this season, and the Flames have the opportunity to clinch the series victory with a win tonight. They’ve gone 2-1-0 so far against San Jose, including the last time they met on January 11. It was a closely contested affair, but Dougie Hamilton scored with 2:19 remaining in regulation to earn a 3-2 win for the Flames in the Saddledome.

Some players to keep an eye on this evening include Calgary‘s Johnny Gaudreau (42 assists for 59 points [both lead the team]) and Mark Giordano (176 blocks for a+22 [both lead the team]) & San Jose‘s Burns (73 points [eighth-most in the league]) and Jones (33 wins [seventh-most in the NHL]).

It’s hard to argue with recent success. Vegas has marked the Flames a -130 favorite to win tonight. Just like I said yesterday, the Sharks‘ rebound has to start in the crease. While Calgary certainly doesn’t pose the offensive threat the Oilers did a night ago, the Flames‘ confidence should be enough to get past whichever goaltender DeBoer decides to go with.

Hockey Birthday

  • Bud MacPherson (1927-1988) – For seven seasons MacPherson roamed along Montréal‘s blueline, and he was rewarded with one All-Star Game and the 1953 Stanley Cup.
  • Gordie Howe (1928-2016) – There’s no discussion: this right wing is one of the greatest players the world has ever seen. Named to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972 – seven years before his last season in the league – he played in 23 All-Star Games over 26 NHL seasons (all but one with Detroit) and won both the Hart Memorial and Art Ross Trophies six times apiece, not to mention his four Stanley Cups.
  • Bob Pulford (1936-) – Another Hall of Famer, this left wing played all but two seasons of his 16-year career in Toronto. He won four Stanley Cups in the process, including three-straight from 1962-’64.
  • Bill Hicke (1938-2005) – Spending most of his time in Montréal, this right wing played 13 seasons in the NHL. The three-time All-Star was good for almost as many penalty minutes as points contributed, but that didn’t stop him from being a two-time Stanley Cup champion.
  • Gilles Gilbert (1949-) – Selected by the North Stars 25th-overall in the 1969 NHL Amateur Draft, this goaltender played 416 games over his 14-year career. Spending most of his time in Boston, he earned a 192-143-60 record before hanging up his pads.
  • Tom Barrasso (1965-) – Buffalo selected this goaltender fifth-overall in the 1983 NHL Entry Draft, but he played a majority of his career for the Penguins. He played well for both clubs, as he earned the 1984 Calder Memorial and Vezina Trophies and the 1985 William M. Jennings Trophy with the Sabres and back-to-back Stanley Cups in Pittsburgh.
  • Pavel Bure (1971-) – Though only selected in the sixth round of the 1989 NHL Entry Draft by Vancouver (his longest-tenured club), this right wing had a highly successful career. In addition to six All-Star Game appearances, he won two Maurice Richard Trophies and the 1992 Calder. All of that added up to a Hall of Fame induction in 2012.
  • Michael Ryder (1980-) – Montréal selected this right wing in the eighth round of the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, and that’s where he played most of his 11 seasons. That being said, he was wearing the crest of the arch-rival Bruins when he hoisted his lone Stanley Cup.
  • David Clarkson (1984-) – A longtime right wing for the Devils, this Toronto-native played 10 seasons in the NHL. He could’ve been playing his 11th this year with Columbus, but he was denied the opportunity to practice with the club due to failing his physical.
  • Steve Bernier (1985-) – The 16th-overall selection in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft by San Jose, this right wing has played 633 games over 11 seasons in the league. His longest -tenured club is New Jersey, with whom he scored 28 goals for 65 points.
  • Jakob Chychrun (1998-) – This rookie defenseman was the 16th-overall pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft by Arizona. He shows promise on the offensive end of the ice, as he’s provided 19 points already this year, the third-most among Coyotes blueliners.

Thanks to Second Star of the Game Cam Talbot‘s 38-save effort, Edmonton was able to best the Sharks 3-2 in yesterday’s DtFR Game of the Day to improve into second place in the Pacific Division.

Though Talbot had a strong night, it didn’t start off the best way. He allowed Jannik Hansen (Paul Martin) to score only his eighth goal of the season 1:01 into play to allow the Sharks to take an early lead. Fortunately for him, Third Star Patrick Maroon (First Star Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl) provided a game-tying goal 9:21 later. Though Zack Kassian was sent off the ice for hooking birthday boy Marc-Edouard Vlasic with 3:24 remaining in the period, McDavid (Oscar Klefbom and Drake Caggiula) was able to score a shorthanded backhander only 52 seconds later to give the Oil a 2-1 lead it would not yield.

Maroon (Kris Russell) provided what proved to be the game-winning goal 7:51 into the third period with a tip-in. It became the winner with 6:01 remaining in regulation when Joe Pavelski (Vlasic and Hansen) scored a tip-in of his own, but the Sharks were unable to find another tally before the final horn.

Talbot earned the victory after saving 38-of-40 shots faced (95%), leaving the loss to Jones, who saved 19-of-22 (86.4%).

We’re all squared up once again in the DtFR Game of the Day series, as both home and away teams in the series have an identical 189 points. Road sides still have more wins with their 83-59-23 record.

March 19 – Day 151 – We’ve turned into David Copperfield

There may be fewer games on today’s schedule compared to yesterday’s 10-game slate, but these matchups are no less important. The action starts at 1 p.m. with two games (Columbus at New Jersey and Florida at Pittsburgh [SN/TVAS]), followed by Minnesota at Winnipeg at 5 p.m. Colorado at Chicago (NHLN) drops the puck at the usual 7 p.m. starting time, trailed by two more (Carolina at Philadelphia and Ottawa at Montréal [RDS/SN]) half an hour later. Finally, Los Angeles at Calgary (SN1) acts as tonight’s nightcap, getting underway at 9:30 p.m. All times eastern.

In what is probably a first in the short history of the DtFR Game of the Day series, today’s featured game is nearly an exact replica of yesterday’s, as we follow the Canadiens and Senators from Ottawa to Montréal.

 

Since we just featured this matchup, today’s preview is going to look a little bit different. To start, the best way to set today’s matchup is with a recap of yesterday’s:


For the second night in a row, the road team won the DtFR Game of the Day with on a shootout victory. Last night, it was the Canadiens who beat Ottawa 4-3.

No goals were registered in the first period, but three were scored in both the remaining frames. Andrew Shaw (Phillip Danault and Shea Weber) got the scoring at the 22:37 mark of the game, but Third Star of the Game Derick Brassard (Kyle Turris and Mike Hoffman) buried a power play wrist shot 9:59 later to level the game at one-all. With 6:08 remaining in the second period, Ryan Dzingel (Alexandre Burrows and Second Star Erik Karlsson) scored a wrister to give the Senators a 2-1 lead they would take into the second intermission.

With two goals in 31 seconds, the Canadiens flipped a one-goal deficit into a one-goal lead. 6:15 into the period, Danault (Artturi Lehkonen and Shaw) scored a wrister to tie the game at two-all, followed by a Brendan Gallagher (Andrei Markov) wrister to set the score at 3-2. With 4:57 remaining in regulation, Karlsson (Marc Methot and Brassard) buried his wrister to set tie the game at three-all, which would hold through the rest of timed play.

Off to the shootout!

  1. The best way to score in the shootout is to put a puck on net. Bobby Ryan apparently did not get that memo.
  2. First Star Paul Byron took advantage of Ryan’s mistake, burying his shot into Craig Anderson‘s net. The Habs led the shootout 1-0 after the first round.
  3. Turris tried to level the shootout for Ottawa, but Carey Price was up to the task and did not yield a tally, earning a sink-to-win scenario for Montréal.
  4. Alexander Radulov is not one to shy away from pressure in the shootout, and he proved that once again by scoring the unofficial game-winning goal.

Price earned the victory after saving 28-of-31 shots faced (90.3%), leaving the shootout loss to Anderson, who saved 29-of-32 (90.625%).

Those two straight shootout-winners by the 78-53-22 road teams in the DtFR Game of the Day series is part of a larger four-game winning streak, which has expanded their lead to five points over the series’ hosts.


That may have been the first blemish the Senators‘ record has suffered at the hands of Montréal this year, but that doesn’t change the fact that they have a two-point lead on the Habs in the season series.

Of course, the most important two-point lead belongs to Montréal. That lead, of course, pertains to the Atlantic Division.

That’s what has made this weekend’s series so important. Although the Habs have led the division for almost the entire season, the competition between these two clubs has been very tight for the entire year. The Sens are right behind the Habs, and could claim the division lead with a victory tonight due to their game-in-hand.

Goaltending is the strength of both these clubs, as made evident in last night’s meeting. Since 21-8-2 Anderson and 32-17-5 Price both played in yesterday’s prolonged game, it will be intriguing to see if they get the nod again today or if 18-12-6 Mike Condon and/or 8-6-3 Al Montoya make an appearance.

Had yesterday’s meeting not gone into a shootout, I would’ve been very confident in guessing that Montoya would continue to ride the bench this evening. Of course, the extra work could have Guy Boucher and Cluade Julien reconsidering their original plans.

Offensively, there’s no secret who leads the home Canadiens. It’s easily been Max Pacioretty and his 60 points – including 33 goals, another club high. Although he didn’t get on the scorecard last night against Anderson, the Habs‘ captain has a knack for scoring against the Sens. He’s registered 11 goals for 22 points over his career against Ottawa, including a hat trick plus two assists on April 4, 2014.

Ottawa‘s main offensive threat doesn’t even technically play offense. Of course, it’s the one-and-only Karlsson. He’s notched 65 points this season, the second-highest total among blueliners league-wide. Turris has a slight edge over Mark Stone in the Sens‘ goal-scoring race, but that’s due in part to the right wing missing four more games than the proud owner of 23 tallies.

Yesterday’s game may not have been the best example, but Montréal should have a special teams advantage in tonight’s game due to Ottawa‘s struggles on the power play. The Senators convert only 17.8% of their man-advantages, which is the 10th-worst rate in the NHL.

That being said, the Sens have definitely been on the upswing in the last month. Since February 19, Ottawa has converted 21.4% of their power plays, a 3.6% improvement in comparison to their season average.

Regardless of who wins this very important game, it looks to be certain that these clubs will finish first and second in the division. Boston has 82 points to its credit (which trails Ottawa by only four points), but all three teams have been playing solid hockey of late.

Some players to keep an eye on this evening include Montréal‘s Pacioretty (33 goals [tied for fourth-most in the NHL]) and Price (32 wins [tied for sixth-most in the league] on a .922 save percentage [seventh-best in the NHL] and a 2.28 GAA [tied for eighth-best in the league) & Ottawa‘s Anderson (.929 save percentage [tied for third-best in the NHL] for a 2.25 GAA [seventh-best in the league]) or Condon (five shutouts [tied for sixth-most in the NHL]) and Karlsson (51 assists [third-most in the league]).

While it proved correct to pick the Canadiens last night, a quick, incomplete search implies that oddsmakers are not so against the Senators with Anderson is involved in play. That being said, I’m still leaning towards Montréal in what should be another tight, exciting game.

Hockey Birthday

  • Vladimir Konstantinov (1967-) – This 11th-rounder in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft may have lasted only six seasons with Detroit, but it was a successful six years. That was no more true than his final season in the league when he hoisted the 1997 Stanley Cup.
  • Tyler Bozak (1986-) – This center has played his entire eight-year NHL career with the Maple Leafs, and he’s en route for the best campaign in that time this season. His 31 assists this season is already a career-high, and his 47 points is only two points short of matching his two-time high (last in 2014-’15).

February 13 – Day 117 – Blueshirts… Blue Jackets… Blue Everything!

There may only be two games happening today, but one of them is going to be absolutely fantastic. The action starts at 7 p.m. eastern when the New York Rangers visit Columbus (NBCSN/SN/TVAS), followed 90 minutes later by Arizona at Calgary.

You get one guess at which one we’re going to feature.

New York Rangers LogoColumbus Blue Jackets Logo

 

 

 

 

 

The 20-somethings will remember this blue song…

…while the 30-something crowd might enjoy a little LeAnn Rimes.

Regardless of your preference, I think the message is clear: blue is the color of the day.

The 36-18-1 Rangers may be wearing white tonight, but they’re the Blueshirts all the same, complete with a five-game winning streak. Currently occupying fourth place in both the Metropolitan Division and the Eastern Conference, offense is the name of the game in Manhattan, as the Rangers have managed 187 goals this season – the third-most in the league.

Calling J.T. Miller the standout forward is almost an insult to the rest of the Rangers‘ attackers, as four players have 40 or more points to their credit. That being said, Miller does lead the team by contributing to 45 tallies this season. Of course, most of those are assists, meaning someone has to be scoring those passes… That’s where linemate Michael Grabner comes into play: he leads the team with 26 tallies.

Playing host this evening is 35-14-5 Columbus, the second-best team in the Metropolitan. Although they’ve been exemplary on both ends of the ice, the Blue Jackets have been most impressive at keeping the opposition off the scoreboard, as they’ve yielded only 132 goals this season – the third-fewest in the NHL.

Every good defense starts with a good goalie, and Columbus is no different. 30-11-3 Sergei Bobrovsky has been the man to beat this year with his .926 season save percentage and 2.17 GAA. Respectively, those stats rank (t)third and fourth-best in the league against the 38 other netminders with at least 22 appearances.

For those wondering, last year’s Vezina Trophy winner – Braden Holtby – currently has a .926 season save percentage and 2.02 GAA. Yes, he’s better than Bobrovsky, but only by the skin of his teeth.

Yet I’d argue Bobrovsky has had a better season than Holtby so far, mostly due to the defenses playing in front of them. Washington has a fantastic defense, which takes pressure off Holtby. Meanwhile, Columbus‘ blueline is only average, as they allow 30.1 shots-per-game to reach Bobrovsky’s crease – only the (t)13th-best in the league. Jack Johnson has been at the head of that effort with his team-leading 89 shot blocks.

The Blue Jackets are no slouch on the other end, though – especially when they have the man-advantage. Led by Alexander Wennberg‘s 20 power play points, Columbus has buried 23.3% of their power play opportunities, which ties for the second-best rate in the NHL. Power play linemates Cam Atkinson and Nick Foligno have shared scoring responsibilities, as both have nine goals with the extra man.

It’s rare the Penguins pull for New York, but that’s the case this evening. Should the Rangers win in regulation, Pittsburgh advances past Columbus for second place in the Metropolitan Division due to winning the three-way games-played tie with the Jackets and Blueshirts (Columbus would still lead the Rangers with a game in hand). Meanwhile, a Jackets victory of any variety leaves the Eastern standings as they are – for a night, anyways.

This is the fourth game in a five-game series between these teams. Currently, Columbus has a 2-1-0 series lead over the Rangers, thanks to a 6-4 victory at Madison Square Garden the last time these clubs met on the last day of January.

Some players to keep an eye on this evening include Columbus‘ Atkinson (27 goals [fourth-most in the league]) and Bobrovsky (30 wins [second-most in the NHL] on a 2.17 GAA [fifth-best in the league] and a .926 save percentage [tied for fifth-best in the NHL], including three shutouts [tied for eighth-most in the league]) & New York‘s Grabner (26 goals [tied for fifth-most in the NHL] for a +28 [tied for sixth-best in the league]) and Henrik Lundqvist (26 wins [tied for seventh-most in the NHL]) or Antti Raanta (2.34 GAA [tied for ninth-best in the league]).

With a great goaltender, a killer power play and home ice to boot, it’s hard to argue with a -135 line in favor of the Blue Jackets. While the Blueshirts will certainly not lose easy, I think Columbus wins tonight.

Hockey Birthday

  • Gaston Gingras (1959-) – Picked by Montréal 27th-overall in the 1979 NHL Entry Draft, this defenseman played 10 seasons in the NHL. Not only did he spend most of his days with the club that selected him, he also won his lone Stanley Cup with the Canadiens in 1986.
  • Marc Crawford (1961-) – This left wing was selected by Vancouver in the fourth-round of the 1980 NHL Entry Draft. Every single one of his 176 games in the league were in a Canucks sweater.
  • Mats Sundin (1971-) – The first overall pick in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft by Quebec, this Hall-of-Fame center played 18 seasons – most of which with Toronto. He was selected to eight All Star games and notched 1349 career points.
  • Niklas Backstrom (1978-) – Although he currently plays for HIFK, this netminder spent 10 seasons in the NHL, almost all of which with Minnesota. He most recently played for Calgary, making three starts last season.

Rivalries are supposed to be tight games. That wasn’t the case last night in the DtFR Game of the Day, as Boston won a four-goal shutout against the hated Canadiens.

Those that bet on Adam McQuaid (Third Star of the Game Peter Cehlarik and Torey Krug) scoring not only the first goal of the game, but also the game-winner, are currently a whole lot richer. He buried his snap shot 8:57 into the game for the lone tally of the first period.

The Bruins truly took control of this contest in the second period with two goals courtesy of Second Star Zdeno Chara (Ryan Spooner and Brad Marchand) at the 5:08 mark in a shorthanded situation, followed almost exactly 10 minutes later by David Krejci (David Backes and Cehlarik) on the power play.

Five minutes into the third, Frank Vatrano (Krejci and David Pastrnak) took credit for the final Boston goal to set the 4-0 final score.

First Star Tuukka Rask saved all 25 shots he faced to earn the victory, leaving the loss to Carey Price, who saved 32-of-36 (88.9%).

Boston‘s victory is the first shutout in the DtFR Game of the Day series since February 6, and expands the 62-39-18 home teams’ lead over visitors in the series to eight points.

February 2 – Day 106 – Can Yeo save the Blues?

It’s a busy day in the NHL, so let’s jump right into tonight’s schedule. Montréal at Philadelphia (RDS) gets the action started at 7 p.m., followed half an hour later by two more contests (the New York Rangers at Buffalo [NBCSN/TVAS] and Ottawa at Tampa Bay [RDS2]). 8 p.m. marks the start of Edmonton at Nashville, with Winnipeg at Dallas waiting 30 minutes before dropping the puck. Two games (Chicago at Arizona and Toronto at St. Louis) drop the puck at 9 p.m., followed an hour later by tonight’s nightcap: San Jose at Vancouver.

Tonight’s game in St. Louis is the first for Mike Yeo in charge of the Blues. Let’s see if he can get the severely under-performing club back in shape.

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After taking the 2010-’11 season off, Ken Hitchcock took command of the Notes on November 6, 2011. Since then, St. Louis has done nothing but succeed, finishing no worse than second place in the division over the past five years and qualifying for the Western Semifinals twice.

Unfortunately for Hitch, the Blues aren’t on the right track towards making that a six-season streak. Even with one of the best scorers in the game, they haven’t found anywhere near the success they did a season ago. Nothing makes that point clearer than looking back at February 2 a year ago when they were featured in the DtFR Game of the Day series.

And that’s not even bringing up the goaltending situation. In fact, that’s almost certainly what cost Hitchcock his job yesterday, as Jim Corsi was also relieved of his duties.

While it’s not the way Doug Armstrong envisioned it happening, Hitchcock was never going to coach the Blues beyond this season. That’s what is making this transition so easy. Yeo was hired last summer as a coach-in-waiting, effectively securing him from the other 29 30 other teams (don’t forget, somebody has to lead Vegas!) that might have been interested in his talents.

Even the goaltending coaching change was easy. Corsi is being replaced by Martin Brodeur and Ty Conklin, two former NHL netminders that were already employed by the club, with 787 wins, 1481 games and three Stanley Cups between them. Conklin was already working with the netminders as a goalie development coach, and is now joined by Assistant GM Brodeur, one of the greatest netminders of all-time.

It’s Yeo’s second stint as a head coach. He was last seen leading the Wild, and he certainly found his share of success. After his first season when Minnesota finished fourth in the five-team Northwest Division, he qualified the Wild for the Stanley Cup playoffs three-straight times. Unfortunately for him, his club managed to run into Chicago each of those postseasons.

In case you haven’t heard, Chicago is pretty darn good. The Blackhawks refused to allow the Wild to advance any further in those three campaigns – winning the Stanley Cup twice in that span – which makes assessing Yeo’s playoff coaching abilities harder than it seems on the surface.

Yeo takes command of a 24-21-5 Blues team that currently sits in fourth place in the Central Division and ninth in the Western Conference. As stated earlier, the blame rests almost entirely on the Blues‘ goaltending, which has allowed 156 goals  and ties for fourth-most in the NHL.

17-13-3 Jake Allen has been the man between the pipes more often than not for St. Louis. His record doesn’t show that he’s been struggling, but his .895 save percentage and 2.87 GAA, which rank 43rd and 35th-worst, respectively, against the other 45 netminders with at least 18 appearances, tells the entire story.

Those who like stats a lot know that a horrendous save percentage with a slightly better GAA can usually be attributed to the defense. That remains the case in St. Louis, where the blueline allows only 27.6 shots-per-game to reach Allen’s net – tying for the fifth-best effort in the league. Alex Pietrangelo deserves a lot of the credit, as his 96 shot blocks are not only tops on the team, but also 19th-best in the entire league.

Interestingly, it’s been Allen that elevates his game on the penalty kill, as his .887 save percentage is 15th-best in the league. That’s led the Blues to a 82.8% kill rate, which ties for 10th-best in the NHL. Defensively, Pietrangelo remains the leader with his 23 shorthanded shot blocks.

Another aspect of the game where the Blues are right on schedule is their power play. Successful on 22.1% of attempts, it ranks eighth-best in the NHL, thanks in large part to both Kevin Shattenkirk and Vladimir Tarasenko, who both have a team-leading 18 power play points. Surprisingly, it’s actually been Shattenkirk that has buried the most goals with the man-advantage, as his seven are one more than Tarasenko’s.

With eighth-place Calgary dormant for the night, St. Louis can get their comeback started and potentially finished all in one game. A victory tonight would pull them into a tie with the Flames at 55 points-apiece, but the Blues will have only 51 games played, two fewer than Calgary.

The Maple Leafs make their lone visit to St. Louis of the year with a 23-16-9 record, good enough for fourth place in the Atlantic Division and ninth in the Eastern Conference. Although they’re a solid team, the reason the Leafs haven’t cemented themselves into a playoff position is their defense, the weaker of the two facets of their game. Toronto has allowed 133 goals, which ties for 20th-most in the league.

21-10-8 Frederik Andersen has started all but eight games for the Leafs, and for good reason. His .919 save percentage and 2.61 GAA are (t)13th and 22nd-best in the NHL, respectively, among the 42 goalies with 20 or more appearances to their credit.

If he had a better defense playing in front of him, Andersen would probably be a lot better. Toronto‘s bluelines allow 32.1 shots against-per-game, the sixth-highest (read: worst) rate in the league. Nikita Zaitsev has tried his hardest to build a solid defensive corps with his team-leading 81 shot blocks to his credit, but only him, Roman Polak and the injured Morgan Rielly have more than 60 blocks on their season-resumes. If I’m Lou Lamoriello, I’m looking around for a solid top-four defenseman this month before the trade deadline for the playoff push.

Interestingly, Toronto‘s defensive deficiencies are nonexistent when they’re facing a power play. Led by Polak’s 24 shorthanded blocks, the Leafs have successfully nullified 84.9% of opposing man-advantages, the third-best rate in the NHL.

The Maple Leafs‘ own power play has also been daunting. It’s a two-headed beast, consisting of William Nylander and James van Riemsdyk who both lead the team with 15 power play points. Toronto is home to the second-best man-advantage in the league, successful on 23.6% of attempts. Although Nylander and van Riemsdyk have been impressive, the man scoring most of those extra-man goals has been Nazem Kadri, who has 10 power play goals to his credit.

Although they sit outside the playoff bubble right now, a single point in the standings paired with a Philadelphia regulation loss would earn the Leafs the second wildcard, if only for a night. Two points for Toronto and a Philly overtime or shootout loss would also do the trick.

Some players to keep an eye on this evening include St. Louis‘ Tarasenko (49 points [tied for eighth-most in the NHL]) & Toronto‘s Andersen (three shutouts [tied for seventh-most in the league] among 21 wins [tied for ninth-most in the NHL]) and Auston Matthews (23 goals [tied for sixth-most in the league]).

The main issue with the Blues is their last line of defense; their goaltending. I don’t know a lot about being a goalie, but I get the vibe it’s a highly technical position that isn’t going to be resolved in 48 hours. Vegas has marked St. Louis a -120 favorite, but I don’t like those odds. If you’re a gambler, I recommend betting on the Leafs tonight.

Hockey Birthday

  • Kjell Dahlin (1963-) – Drafted in the fourth round of the 1981 NHL Entry Draft, this right wing played only three seasons with Montréal, the club that picked him. It was an incredible rookie season, as he notched 71 points en route to the 1986 Stanley Cup. Due to injuries, he was never able to replicate that success and was out of the league after the 1987-’88 season.
  • Arturs Irbe (1967-) – This goalie might have only been drafted in the 10th round of the 1989 NHL Entry Draft by the North Stars, but he was able to turn that selection into a 13-year career. The two-time All Star spent most of his career in Carolina.
  • Todd Bertuzzi (1975-) – The Islanders picked this right wing 23rd-overall in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft, but he spent most of his career in Vancouver. By the time he retired, the two-time All Star notched 770 points to go with his 1478 penalty minutes.
  • Jordin Tootoo (1983-) – A fourth-round pick by Nashville in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, this right wing has appeared in almost every season since 2003. He’s currently a member of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Just like I predicted, Calgary was able to best the Wild 5-1 in yesterday’s DtFR Game of the Day.

The two tallies in the first period both belonged to the Flames, meaning they were in possession of their winner for quite a while. Alex Chiasson (Sam Bennett and Kris Versteeg) takes credit for Calgary‘s first goal, a deflection 4:26 after the initial puck drop. 3:43 later, First Star of the Game Sean Monahan (Johnny Gaudreau and Troy Brouwer) provided the winner with a power play wrister.

Minnesota‘s lone goal of the game was struck in the second period, courtesy of Jason Zucker (Mikael Granlund) with 7:20 remaining in the frame.

Monahan (Dennis Wideman and T.J. Brodie), Third Star Deryk Engelland (Matt Stajan) and Michael Ferland (Engelland) take credit for the three insurance goals in the final period.

Second Star Brian Elliott earns the victory after saving 28-of-29 shots faced (96.6%), leaving the loss to Devan Dubnyk, who saved only 31-of-36 (86.1%).

Calgary‘s win is the third-straight for the home teams in the DtFR Game of the Day series. It improves the hosts’ records to 57-35-16, nine points better than the roadies.

January 9 – Day 86 – These goaltenders are Eller good

It’s a low-key Monday in the NHL with only eight teams in action. The action starts at 7 p.m. with Florida at New Jersey (SN/SN1), followed half an hour later by Washington at Montréal (NHLN/RDS). 8 p.m. marks the puck drop of Calgary at Winnipeg (TVAS), with tonight’s nightcap – Dallas at Los Angeles (SN) – waiting until 10:30 p.m. All times eastern.

Short list:

  • Washington at Montréal: For all intents and purposes, Lars Eller played the first six years of his NHL career in Montréal. Nowadays, he finds himself playing for the Capitals.
  • Calgary at Winnipeg: It’s the third-straight rivalry game for the Flames.

Not only is this a special night for Eller, but it should be a fantastic game between two competitive teams. To the City of Saints we go!

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The Danish center might have been drafted by St. Louis 13th-overall in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, but he only suited up seven times for the Blues during the 2009-’10 season before being traded to the Canadiens with Ian Schultz for Jaroslav Halak.

It turned out to be a good trade for both clubs. Specifically for Eller, he ended up notching 154 points from 2010-’16 during his tenure with the Habs – the eighth-most for a Canadien during that span.

He especially had a knack for scoring when shorthanded, as his eight shorthanded points for the Habs are second-most for the club during his tenure. That 2011-’12 season was certainly a magical one for Eller. He notched three shorthanded points that season, including two shorthanded goals.

But scoring probably isn’t what he’s most known for.

From the moment he showed up in Montréal to the day he left, Eller was always known as a physical player. Every single season, he made Montréal‘s top-10 list for hits thrown, including twice finishing the season with the third-most on the club. His presence was most known during the 2013-’14 campaign when he threw 130 hits, his career-high.

During the 2016 NHL Entry Draft with two years remaining on his contract, Eller was shipped down to Washington in exchange for the Capitals‘ 2017 and 2018 second-round picks.

Eller has kept his hitting ways up with the Capitals, as his 33 hits 10th most on the club. But he’s been an even bigger asset at the faceoff dot, where his .46 winning percentage is fifth-best on the team.

Eller and his new club, winners of their last five contests, come to Montréal with a 25-9-5 record, only good enough for fourth place in the ultra-competitive Metropolitan Division. Although usually known for their offense, it’s been the Capitals’ impressive defense and goaltending that has led the way, allowing only 79 goals this season – the fewest in the NHL.

As you’d expect after the phenomenal year he had last season, 18-8-4 Braden Holtby has been charged with manning Washington‘s crease most nights. He’s done a good job, notching a season .931 save percentage and 1.93 GAA – the fourth and second-best efforts, respectively, among the 45 goaltenders with 16 or more appearances.

A player of Holtby’s caliber doesn’t necessarily need help, it’s certainly nice to play behind the sixth-best defense. Led by Karl Alzner‘s 70 blocks, Washington allows only 28 shots-per-game to reach Holtby’s net.

That success has continued into the penalty kill, where the Capitals are third-best in the league, neutralizing 87.1% of their shorthanded situations. Among the blueliners, Brooks Orpik deserves most credit for that success with his team-leading nine shorthanded blocks.

Surprisingly, the Washington power play is on the verge of being strikingly bad. Scoring on only 16.4% of their opportunities, the Capitals are tied for 10th worst in the NHL. Nicklas Backstrom has led the man-advantage surge with 13 power play points to his credit but, as one would expect, it’s been Alex Ovechkin scoring most the power play goals, with six to his credit – twice the total of second place.

Playing host this evening are the 25-9-6 Canadiens, the best team in the Atlantic Division. Winners of their last three games, Montréal has also played fantastically on the defensive end, allowing only 92 goals – the fifth-fewest in the league.

20-5-4 Carey Price has been just as impressive for the Habs with a season .93 save percentage and 2.06 GAA – the fifth and seventh-best efforts, respectively, in the league among the 45 netminders with 15 or more appearances.

I would like to submit the argument that Price’s play has been more important for the Habs than Holtby’s for the Caps. You see, even with Shea Weber‘s team-leading 85 blocks, Montréal‘s defense allows 30.1 shots-per-game to reach Price’s crease, the 15th-highest total in the league.

The defensive issues especially come to light when Montréal is on the penalty kill, as their 80.3% success rate is tied for 10th-worst in the league. Once again, Weber takes command of the defensive efforts with 24 shorthanded blocks, but he and Alexei Emelin are the only two skaters with 20 or more blocks on the penalty kill. More skaters need to get involved if the Habs want to find success when the playoffs come around.

Fortunately for the Canadiens, they’ve been able to cover their inability to stop power play goals by scoring quite a few of their own. Successful on 21.3% of power play opportunities, the Habs are 10th-best in the league and led by Weber’s 14 man-advantage points, eight of which are goals, which also leads the club.

These clubs have already met once this season, with the Canadiens earning a 2-1 road victory on December 17. Price earned the victory thanks to a Jeff Petry tally late in the second period.

Some players to keep an eye on this evening include Montréal‘s Max Pacioretty (19 goals [tied for sixth-most in the league]) and Price (20 wins [tied for second-most in the NHL] on a .93 save percentage [fifth-best in the league] and a 2.06 GAA [seventh-best in the NHL], including two shutouts [tied for ninth-most in the league]) & Washington‘s Holtby (five shutouts [tied for most in the NHL] and a 1.93 GAA [tied for second-best in the league] and .931 save percentage [tied for third-best in the NHL] for 18 wins [tied for seventh-most in the league]) and Ovechkin (18 goals [tied for ninth-most in the NHL]).

Montréal has a -110 next to their name in Vegas, marking them the favorite in tonight’s contest, and based on the most recent matchup, I think that’s fair. As both teams are certainly capable of scoring, I give the edge in this game to the Habs‘ blueline that will guide them to victory.

Hockey Birthday

  • Scott Thornton (1971-) – This left wing was the third-overall pick in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft by Toronto, but he spent most of his playing days in San Jose. By the time his 17-season career was through, he’d notched 285 points, 144 of which were goals. And yes, he and Joe Thornton are cousins.
  • Radek Bonk (1976-) – A two-time All Star, this center was drafted third-overall in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft by Ottawa. He played 10 of his 14 seasons with the Senators, helping them to eight playoff appearances over his tenure.
  • Mathieu Garon (1978-) – The 44th-overall pick in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft by Montréal, this goaltender played 341 games over a dozen seasons. He played most of those games with Los Angeles, even though he spent more years with the Canadiens. He was a member of Pittsburgh‘s 2009 Stanley Cup winning squad.

Minnesota took command of the second period in yesterday’s DtFR Game of the Day, beating the Ducks 2-1 at the Honda Center.

Only the Ducks were able to break through for a goal in the first period, compliments of Third Star of the Game Ryan Kesler‘s (Jakob Silfverberg) tip-in tally, his 16th time lighting the lamp this season. Anaheim held their lead into the first intermission.

Only 4:39 after returning to the ice, Matt Dumba (Zach Parise and First Star Eric Staal) took advantage of a five-on-three power play caused by both Cam Fowler and Logan Shaw taking seats in the penalty box for separate offenses and leveled the game with a slap shot. 1:42 later, Jared Spurgeon (Jason Pominville and Jason Zucker) scored what ended up being final goal of the game, a game-winning wrister.

Devan Dubnyk earns the victory after saving 23-of-24 shots faced (95.8%), leaving the loss to Second Star John Gibson, who saved 34-of-36 (94.4%).

Minnesota‘s win is the second-straight for road teams in the DtFR Game of the Day series, setting the series record at 47-27-14 in favor of the hosts by 11 points.

January 1 – Day 78 – Centennial Classic

Wake up, sleepyheads! I don’t care how late you stayed up! We’ve got to get this year started off right and the only way to do that is with hockey!

The action starts at 3 p.m. with Detroit at Toronto (NBC/SN/TVAS) at Exhibition Stadium – you know, where the Argonauts and Toronto FC play. Ottawa at Washington (SN/TVAS) drops the puck at 7:30 p.m., followed half an hour later by tonight’s nightcap: Philadelphia at Anaheim (NHLN). All times eastern.

All three games are going to be very exciting, but only one is a rivalry. Oh, and it’s also being played outside, which seems to get everybody excited. We’ll head up to Toronto just in case something cool happens.

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BMO Field  – that’s the usual name of this facility – has certainly seen some special events this season. It was the site of TFC‘s MLS Eastern Conference-clinching effort, making them the first-ever Canadian participant in the MLS Cup. Unfortunately, they lost the scoreless title game to the Seattle Sounders in penalty kicks, earning the Sounders their first Cup.

Also, the Argonauts… played football… sometimes.

The same could also be played for today’s visitors. For 25-straight seasons, Detroit has played at least four games beyond their regular season schedule, but at 16-16-4, it looks like more than Joe Louis Arena will be coming to an end. The main culprit? A lackadaisical offense that has managed only 84 goals – the fifth-fewest in the NHL.

The ‘C’ on Henrik Zetterberg‘s chest is important to him, and it shows in his play. He leads his club with 25 points, acting most of the time as a facilitator. The Wings‘ sniper is the same kid it was last year. Dylan Larkin has 10 tallies to his credit, most on the team.

Yesterday we featured the best power play in the game. Today, Detroit represents the worst, successful on only 12% of opportunities. It’s with the man-advantage that Frans Nielsen truly shines, as his seven power play points are tops on the club. Larkin once again tops the Wings‘ goal chart with the extra man, but he shares the title with Thomas Vanek as both have lit the lamp three times.

Although they’re nearly five kilometers (that’s three miles, Americans) from their usual surface, the 16-12-7 Maple Leafs play host this evening. Winners of their last four, they’re the fifth-best team in the Atlantic Division even though they’re tied for the 12th-most goals scored.

Unfortunately in the Eastern Conference this year, 12th-most is not good enough to break into a playoff position, even when Toronto‘s defense/goaltending is even better than their offense. Star rookie Auston Matthews has been at the head of the Leafs‘ attack, notching 30 points in 35 games. 18 of those points have been goals, which is also the best mark on the squad.

Defensively, the Leafs are at their best when down a man. They’ve properly defended 84.9% of opposing power plays, the sixth-best mark in the NHL. Zach Hyman and Roman Polak have both been at the head of that effort, with 14 shorthanded blocks apiece.

Let us not forget that it was not randomly the Red Wings to visit Toronto this fine first day of 2017. This rivalry is as old as the league itself and has been played out in the Stanley Cup playoffs more than every other rivalry other than Boston-Montréal. Even though they haven’t faced since 1993 in that capacity, don’t think the animosity between these fan-bases has dwindled any since then.

Some players to keep an eye on include Detroit‘s Jimmy Howard (.934 save percentage [tied for second-best in the league] for a 1.96 GAA [fourth-best in the NHL]) & Toronto‘s Frederik Andersen (.925 save percentage [ninth-best in the league] for 15 wins [tied for eighth-most in the NHL]) and Matthews (18 goals [fifth-most in the league]).

Vegas has marked the Maple Leafs a -150 favorite, and I’d be shocked if the Wings pull even a point out of Hogtown. Although Howard is going to give his best shot, Toronto‘s offense is far superior to the Wings‘ and will be able to power the Leafs to victory.

Hockey Birthday

  • Calum MacKay (1927-2001) – A Red Wing for six games, this left wing played most of his seven seasons in Montréal. He was an All Star selection and hoisted the Stanley Cup in 1953.
  • Dave Silk (1958-) – This right wing was the 59th-overall pick in the 1978 NHL Entry Draft by the Rangers, and he played most of his seven-season career with the club. Just like MacKay, Silk had a brief tenure in Detroit, but he’s most known for his gold medal at the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympic Games.
  • Bobby Holik (1971-) – The 10th-overall pick in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft by Hartford, this center played most of his 18-season career in New Jersey. While there, he was twice named to the All Star team and also hoisted two Stanley Cups.
  • Jeff Carter (1985-) – This two-time Cup winning center was the 11th-overall pick in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft by Philadelphia, the club he’s technically played most his games with. Of course, it looks like his tenure in Los Angeles will continue well beyond this season and we’ll forever remember him a King.
  • Gilbert Brule (1987-) – Columbus picked this center sixth-overall in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, and that’s who he spent most of his eight NHL seasons with. Nowadays, this Canadian is playing in Croatia with the Medveščak Zagreb in KHL.
  • Devin Setoguchi (1987-) – The eighth-overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft by San Jose, this right wing is in his ninth NHL season, playing this year for Los Angeles.

Columbus‘ winning streak extends to 15-straight, thereby ending Minnesota‘s at 12, after a 4-2 Blue Jackets victory in yesterday’s DtFR Game of the Day.

The first goal of the day was struck with 9:55 remaining in the first period, belonging to First Star of the Game Cam Atkinson (Brandon Dubinsky) and the Jackets. It was the lone tally of the first frame.

3:29 after returning to the ice, Jack Johnson (Brandon Saad and Alexander Wennberg) doubled Columbus‘ lead to 2-0, and Atkinson (Ryan Murray and Markus Nutivaara) buried the eventual game-winning goal only 15 seconds later. The Wild finally got on the board with a power play wrister from Mikael Granlund (Third Star Jared Spurgeon and Mikko Koivu) at the 5:58 mark to set the score at 3-1, but Columbus had one more trick up their sleeve: a Seth Jones (Saad and Nick Foligno) snap shot with 2:25 remaining in the period to resume their three-goal lead.

Only 24 seconds after resuming play in the third period, Jason Zucker (Granlund and Spurgeon) buried a backhand shot to set the score at 4-2, but the Wild were unable to pose anymore of a threat to lose their first contest since December 2.

Second Star Sergei Bobrovsky earns the victory after saving 29-of-31 shots faced (93.5%), leaving the loss to Devan Dubnyk, who saved 21-of-25 (84%).

The Jackets‘ road victory sets the DtFR Game of the Day series at 44-24-12, favoring the home squads by 14 points over the roadies.

December 13 – Day 62 – Darling division leaders

Welcome to Tuesday night hockey. As usual, it’s a busy night, and the action gets started at 7 p.m. with four contests (Los Angeles at Buffalo, Washington at the New York Islanders, Chicago at the New York Rangers [NBCSN/SN/TVAS] and Vancouver at Carolina). Two more games drop the puck half an hour later (San Jose at Toronto and Arizona at Detroit), while another pair waits until the top of the hour (St. Louis at Nashville and Florida at Minnesota). Anaheim at Dallas finds its start at 8:30 p.m., and this evening’s nightcap – Columbus at Edmonton – gets green-lit at 9 p.m. All times eastern.

Short list:

  • Washington at New York: A Metropolitan Division rivalry that began in the 1980s.
  • Chicago at New York: An “Original Six” matchup, and the only time this regular season that the Hawks visit Manhattan.

Chicago at New York would be a phenomenal game even if it weren’t an old-school rivalry. The history between both franchises only adds to this contest.

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I don’t know how they keep slipping through the cracks, but the Blackhawks haven’t been featured in the DtFR Game of the Day series since their 2-1 shootout victory over Florida on November 29.

Their play has been far from the reason for their absence, as their 18-8-4 record is best in the Western Conference. Although Chicago is home to a long list of excellent goalscorers, they’ve found much of their success by keeping opponents off the scoreboard. The Hawks have yielded only 69 goals this season, tying for seventh-fewest in the league.

While Corey Crawford is still the lead netminder in the Windy City, an emergency appendectomy on December 3 has forced him to the Blackhawks‘ injured reserve list. Enter 6-2-2 backup Scott Darling, whose .929 save percentage and 2.12 GAA is 11th and 12th-best effort, respectively, among the 58 goalies with five or more appearances.

For those wondering, I wouldn’t bet on Lars Johansson making his first-ever NHL start, even though Darling has played every second of Chicago‘s last five games (Darling is 2-2-1 in those games). We’ll break down New York‘s offense in a minute, but a quick summary: they’re one of the best in the league. Not the best way to introduce him to the NHL family.

Crawford, and now Darling, deserve much of the success for Chicago‘s defensive prowess, as the blueline playing in front of them has been nothing to write home about. The Hawks‘ goalies face an average of 30.8 shots-per-game, tying for the 11th-most in the NHL. That being said, that critique does not apply to Niklas Hjalmarsson, whose 64 blocks not only lead the squad, but ties for sixth-most in the entire league.

Due in large part to the overall effort of the defense, Chicago‘s penalty kill has struggled mightily this year. The Hawks allow opposing power plays to score 27.3% of the time, the absolute worst in the NHL. Other than Hjalmarsson’s 16 shorthanded blocks, no other defenseman has more than 10 to his name.

Hosting the Hawks this evening are the 20-9-1 Rangers, who currently occupy second place in the Metropolitan Division, arguably the toughest division in hockey. As mentioned before, they’ve played the best offense in hockey, scoring 105 goals in 30 games.

That 3.5 goals-per-game average is led by J.T. Miller and his 22 points. Although that effort is only good enough to tie him for 33rd-best in the league, it’s the fact that four skaters for the Rangers have 20 or more points to their credit. Adding to that depth has been Michael Grabner, who – although he only has 17 points – has buried 13 goals already this season, the most on the team.

Like I said, Johansson wants no part of this game, and Darling probably doesn’t either!

As would be expected, New York‘s power play has been very successful as well. Converting 22.6% of their opportunities, the Blueshirts rank fifth-best in the league. Again, what makes this man-advantage so frightening is that goaltenders have no idea where the pressure is coming from. A whopping six skaters have six power play points to their credit, including Rick Nash, Brandon Pirri and Jimmy Vesey, each of whom have four extra-man tallies.

The winning ways don’t stop when down a man. Madison Square Garden also houses the fourth-best penalty kill, as the Rangers refuse to allow the opposition to score on 85.9% of power play opportunities. Kevin Klein takes much of the credit in that department, as his 13 shorthanded blocks are most on the club.

The Rangers have already made their yearly trip to the United Center, where they won 1-0 game last Friday thanks to a Nick Holden overtime winner. Darling was in net for Chicago in that game, so perhaps he knows the secret that has eluded so many other teams to slowing down an offense that has so far been better than last year’s Stars and Capitals.

Some players to keep an eye on this evening include Chicago‘s Darling (.929 save percentage [10th-best in the NHL]), Marian Hossa (15 goals [tied for fourth-most in the league]) and Patrick Kane (20 assists [tied for fifth-most in the NHL]) & New York‘s Kevin Hayes (+16 [tied for third-best in the league]), Grabner (+19 [best in the NHL]) and, should he play, Antti Raanta (1.65 GAA [second-best in the league] on a .943 save percentage [third-best in the NHL]).

The Rangers are marked -145 favorites to win tonight’s game, and I think you’d be crazy to bet against them. In addition to simply being  an incredible team overall (potentially the best team in hockey), they have an impressive 11-4-1 record at home and are riding a three-game winning streak. Although it won’t be an easy win, I am confident in a Blueshirt victory.

Hockey Birthday

  • Doug Mohns (1933-2014) – This seven-time All-Star played an impressive 22 seasons, most of which with the Boston Bruins. By the time his career was over, he’d notched 710 points, including 462 assists.
  • Bob Gainey (1953-) – The eighth-overall pick in the 1973 NHL Entry Draft, he played his entire NHL career with the club that drafted him: the Habs. By the time his playing days were through, he was a five-time Stanley Cup winner, four-time Selke winner, and the recipient of the 1979 Smythe Trophy. As you might expect with a resume like that, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1992 and his number 23 was retired in 2008.
  • Sergei Fedorov (1969-) – Another Hall-of-Famer (Class of 2015), this center was drafted 74th-overall by Detroit in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft. After 18 seasons, he’d won three Stanley Cups, two Selke Trophies, and the 1994 Hart and Pearson Trophies.
  • Bates Battaglia (1975-) – This left wing may have been drafted by Anaheim in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft, but he never played for the Mighty Ducks. Instead, he spent most of his days in Carolina, where he notched 150 of his career 198 points.
  • Dan Hamhuis (1982-) – The 12th-overall pick in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft is currently in his first season with Dallas. Most of his playing days have been spent with the Central Division rival Predators, where he played 483 games.

They may have needed overtime, but Boston finally earned their first win of the season against the bitter rival Canadiens, winning 2-1 in yesterday’s DtFR Game of the Day.

Sixty-five seconds remained in the second period before the first goal was struck. Austin Czarnik (Adam McQuaid and Third Star of the Game Ryan Spooner) takes credit with only the third goal of his career. His wrister gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead heading into the final 20 minutes of regulation.

Desperation time was on the horizon in Montréal, but the Habs avoided making the decision to pull their netminder when Paul Byron (Torrey Mitchell and Andrei Markov) netted a backhander with 3:12 remaining on the clock. As neither team could break the knotted game, they settled to play three-on-three overtime.

Spooner (Torey Krug and Czarnik) apparently had enough of overtime, or he simply doesn’t like shootouts. Either way, he scored a wrister with 100 seconds remaining in overtime to earn the Bruins the extra point.

First Star Tuukka Rask earned the victory after saving 30-of-31 shots faced (96.8%), leaving the overtime loss to Second Star Carey Price, saving 27-of-29 (93.1%).

The DtFR Game of the Day series still favors the hosts, as their 36-19-9 record is 14 points better than the roadies’ efforts.

December 5 – Day 54 – If there are emperor Penguins, are there any from the legislative branch?

Time to start another week the only way we know how: with more hockey. There’s four contests occurring this evening, all at 7 p.m. eastern: Florida at Boston (NHLN/SN/TVAS), Ottawa at Pittsburgh (RDS2), Buffalo at Washington and Arizona at Columbus.

The Steel City looks to be hosting the best game of the evening, so we’re off to PPG Paints Arena!

Unknown-6pittsburgh_penguins_logo

 

Ottawa comes to town sporting a 15-8-2 record, good enough for second place in the Atlantic Division. The reason they’ve been able to find such success is due totally to their goaltending that has allowed only 59 goals, tying for eighth-fewest in the NHL.

Craig Anderson has made 18 starts this season, and looks to be in line for another tonight after spending time with his wife during her cancer treatment. Even with something that could be a distraction (don’t get me wrong, life comes before sports), he’s still had a successful season so far, earning a 12-5-1 record with a .93 save percentage and 2.2 GAA – the sixth (tied) and 14th-best efforts among the 42 netminders with nine or more appearances.

That effort has been necessary for most of the season, but the Senators‘ defense has been improving. Last time we featured Ottawa, they were allowing the ninth-most shots-against average, but they now rank only 13th-worst, allowing 30.8 shots-against-per-game. As usual, that defensive effort has been led by Captain Erik Karlsson, who’s 73 blocks is tops in the Canadian capital.

The Senators‘ defense has continued its strong play even when disadvantaged. Ottawa ranks ninth-best in the NHL on the penalty kill, refusing to yield a goal 84.6% of the time. This is where Dion Phaneuf has taken command, as his 15 shorthanded blocks lead the club.

Unfortunately for Ottawa, the other special team has been nowhere near as competitive. Successful on only 12.6% of opportunities, the Senators‘ power play is third-worst in the league. Don’t tell Mike Hoffman though – his eight power play points are the most on the squad, as are his four man-advantage goals.

Winners of their last two games, the Penguins enter tonight’s game with a 15-7-3 record, good enough for second-place in the Metropolitan Division. They’ve earned that success by scoring 78 goals, the fourth-most in the NHL.

It’s finally happened. Even though he gave Phil Kessel and Evgeni Malkin a six-game head-start, Captain Sidney Crosby has taken the points lead in Pittsburgh, with 26 to his credit. 16 of those have been goals, which is seven more Malkin’s nine, the second-best goal-scorer on the squad.

Where the Pens still need to improve is on their penalty kill. Even though Ian Cole has 11 shorthanded blocks, to his credit, Pittsburgh ranks fifth-worst in the league at neutralizing their infractions, stopping only 78.4% of opponents’ power plays.

Some players to keep an eye on tonight include Ottawa‘s Anderson (three shutouts [tied for second-most in the NHL] among 12 wins [tied for sixth-most in the league] on a .93 save percentage [tied for eighth-best in the NHL]) & Pittsburgh‘s Crosby (16 goals [tied for league-lead] among 26 points [tied for fifth-most in the NHL]), Kessel (16 assists [tied for seventh-most in the league] among 24 points [tied for ninth-most in the NHL]), Malkin (16 assists [tied for seventh-most in the league] among 25 points [eighth-most in the NHL]) and Matthew Murray (2.02 GAA [sixth-best in the league]).

Pittsburgh is heavily favored to win tonight’s game, indicated by the -225 next to their name. Although Anderson is having his best season in Ottawa since his 2012-’13 campaign, the Penguins simply have too many weapons to overload him and his defense. Pittsburgh should win.

Hockey Birthday

  • Kevin Haller (1970-) – This defenseman was the 14th-overall selection in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft by Buffalo, but he played for six teams and seven franchises (he mad the trip from Hartford to Greensboro). His favorite days were probably spent in Montréal, where he hoisted the 1993 Stanley Cup.
  • Olli Jokinen (1978-) – This center was the third-overall selection in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft, but he spent far more of his time in Florida than with Los Angeles, the team that drafted him. Somehow, even though he played 17 seasons, he’s only made one playoff appearance.
  • Niklas Hagman (1979-) – Another Fin, this left wing was a Florida selection in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft. He played 770 games over his 10-season career and notched 301 points.

In our fifth game in the last nine days to require extra time, Detroit beat the Islanders 4-3 in overtime in yesterday’s DtFR Game of the Day.

Anders Lee (Cal Clutterbuck and Casey Cizikas) didn’t wait too long to get the home Isles on the board, burying a wrist shot only 5:16 into the game. The Wings drew even again 7:37 later when First Star of the Game Mike Green (Frans Nielsen) scored a scary slap shot from outside the face-off left circle. The 1-1 tie held into the first intermission.

The Red Wings notched the lone tally of the second period with 5:20 remaining in the frame. Green (Thomas Vanek) takes credit again, but this time with a wrister to give Detroit a one-goal edge.

The Islanders tried their hardest to score quickly each period, and they were successful two-of-three times. Third Star Johnny Boychuk scored only 1:52 after returning from the second intermission to once again level the game. With 6:54 remaining in regulation, Henrik Zetterberg (Jonathan Ericsson and Tomas Tatar) scored a tip-in goal, but that lead lasted only 2:33 before Josh Bailey (John Tavares and Dennis Seidenberg) leveled the score once more at three-all. This tie was unbroken in the remaining 4:21 of regulation and forced five minutes of three-on-three overtime.

Second Star Danny DeKeyser (Tatar and Zetterberg) needed only 1:02 of that extra period to bury a wrist shot, securing the bonus point for the visiting Red Wings.

Petr Mrazek earned the victory after saving 32-of-35 shots faced (91.4%), leaving the overtime loss to Jaroslav Halak, who saved 30-of-34 (88.2%).

Detroit‘s win pulls the road squads within two points of the homers in the DtFR Game of the Day series. It stands at 29-19-8.

November 9 – Day 28 – Quackin’ Jackets, or not so much?

Let’s watch ourselves some hockey tonight. While the selection is small at only three games, there’s some quality matchups being contested, starting with Anaheim at Columbus at 7 p.m. Half an hour later, Ottawa visits Buffalo (SN/TVAS), followed by Chicago at St. Louis (NBCSN), this evening’s nightcap.

Short list:

  • Anaheim at Columbus: Jared Boll was a Blue Jacket for the last nine seasons, but he now finds himself sitting on the opposite bench.
  • Ottawa at Buffalo: It seems like every game for Buffalo has been a rivalry, of late. Tonight’s contest against Ottawa is another one.
  • Chicago at St. Louis: Another rivalry only magnified by last season’s playoff meeting.

Oh… That’s all the games going on this evening. Like I said, you can’t go wrong with whichever game you choose to watch tonight.

As far as the game DtFR will focus on, I’m leaning towards the AnaheimColumbus game since Boll will only play in Nationwide Arena once this year, and we’re a little partial to him for sharing Charlotte, N.C. as our hometown.

Unknown-1Columbus Blue Jackets Logo

 

Columbus selected the right wing 101st in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. He notched 40+ points in three of his four junior seasons, but Boll turned out to not be quite the striker in the pros. Like many before him who have suffered the same fate, he turned to his physical play to continue to earn a spot on the Jackets‘ roster and a paycheck.

Over his nine seasons in Columbus, Boll threw 967 hits – 107.4 per season and 1.9 per game. That translated into 1195 minutes in the penalty box – 132.8 minutes per season and 2.31 minutes per game. For those of you that don’t like stats and numbers, this set – especially the penalty minutes – screams an enforcer position.

This offseason, Boll signed with Anaheim, who currently sits at 6-5-2. What has been most-impressive about the Ducks this season has been their defense, which has allowed only 30 goals against.

John Gibson has started in net for all but three of the Ducks‘ games, and has earned a 5-4-0 record on a .914 save percentage and 2.43 GAA.

Not very good numbers.

It has been the blue line that has stood strong. Anaheim has allowed only 378 shots to reach Gibson and co. in 13 games. Limiting opposing offenses to only 29.1 shots per game is an impressive move, given that the average team in the league allow 30.2 per game. Sami Vatanen has led the charge with 29 blocks to his credit, but he is the only Duck with more than 20. I’ve said it every time I’ve featured Anaheim, but the remainder of the blue line needs to protect their young goaltender if they want to find success.

What has kept Anaheim alive offensively has been their strong power play. Successful on 27.9% of attempts, the Ducks have the third-best man-advantage in the league and should be feared. Ryan Kesler has led the special teams with four power play goals to his credit.

Columbus enters the night with a 5-3-2 record. Just like Anaheim, the Blue Jackets have been finding success on the defensive end by allowing only 21 goals.

Sergei Bobrovsky has been playing out of his mind so far this season, earning a 5-3-1 record in his nine starts. His three losses haven’t entirely been his fault though, as he owns a season .947 save percentage and 1.79 GAA – both ranking top-six in the league among goaltenders that have played three or more games. Even more impressive is the fact that he faces an average of 33.3 shots per game, well above the league average.

It will be interesting to see if Bobrovsky can continue his stellar play as the season progresses and if the Jackets could by buyers at the deadline – but hey, that’s still four months away!

One place the Jackets don’t need to improve at right now is their power play. The Ducks‘ is good, but Columbus‘ 39.3% success rate is way better. In fact, it’s best in the league, beating second-best Philly by 11%. Cam Atkinson has lead the charge for the Blue Jackets on the power play, notching four extra-man goals.

The penalty kill has also been extremely good for the Jackets. Columbus has found themselves in the penalty box 32 times this season, but they’ve refused to yield a goal on 90.6% of those attempts for the second-best rate in the league.

Some players to keep an eye on tonight include Anaheim‘s Jonathan Bernier (.939 save percentage [sixth-best in the NHL] for a 2.03 GAA [ninth-best in the league]) and Ryan Getzlaf (11 assists [tied for second-most in the NHL]) & Columbus‘ Bobrovsky (three shutouts [tied for most in the league] on a .947 save percentage [fourth-best in the NHL] for a 1.79 GAA [fifth-best in the league]) and Alexander Wennberg (11 assists [tied for second-most in the NHL]).

Vegas has marked Columbus as a -119 favorite coming into tonight’s game. Going back to last season, I don’t know if I’ve ever favored the Jackets before in this series, but I agree with the odds-makers. Columbus is a hot team right now, being opportunistic and refusing to yield opposing tallies. It will be interesting to see if this is just a hot streak or a real threat in the Eastern Conference.

Hockey Birthday:

  • Bill Guerin (1970-) – Over 18 seasons, Guerin played 1263 games at right wing, most of which – 30.1%, in fact – were with the Devils, the team that drafted him fifth overall in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft. He’s hoisted the Stanley Cup three times, most recent of which was last season as Assistant General Manager for Pittsburgh.
  • Carl Gunnarsson (1986) – The Swedish defender of the St. Louis Blues, the team he’s playing his third season with. Tonight will be his 447th career game, and he’ll be looking for his second point of the season this evening against Chicago.

A late Canadiens goal was the difference in yesterday’s Game of the Day, leading them to a 3-2 victory over the arch-rival Bruins.

After no goals were struck in the first frame, the Habs broke the draw with a power play slap shot from Shea Weber (Andrei Markov and Tomas Plekanec) 3:58 after resuming play. That lead lasted only 50 seconds before Colin Miller scored an unassisted wrister to level the score for Boston. The third-and-final goal of the second frame was struck at the 5:08 mark, 20 seconds after Miller’s, when Alex Galchenyuk‘s (Alexander Radulov and Second Star of the Game Paul Byron) backhand found the back of the net to give the Canadiens a 2-1 lead they would take into the second intermission.

The score was tied once again 6:38 into the final frame when Third Star David Pastrnak (John-Michael Liles and Brad Marchand) scored a power play slap shot. The Bruins nearly forced overtime, but Byron’s (Galchenyuk and Radulov) backhander with 62 seconds remaining earned Montréal two more points in the standings to further cement their spot at the top of the league.

First Star Carey Price earned the victory after saving 41-of-43 shots faced (95.3%), while Zane McIntyre saved only 20-of-23 (87%) in the loss.

Montréal‘s Game of the Day victory is their fourth out of four appearances and the second-straight for the home team in the series. It improves the home squads’ record to 17-10-3 and expands their lead over the roadies to eight points.