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Hurricanes take 2-0 series lead, lose Raanta in Game 2

Sebastian Aho tied a franchise record with his fourth multi-goal game in a, 5-2, victory for the Carolina Hurricanes as they beat the Boston Bruins in Game 2 of their 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round matchup Wednesday night at PNC Arena.

Meanwhile, each team lost a key player to an injury and there were 14 combined power plays in a game that had a little bit of everything good, bad and ugly.

Antti Raanta (1-0, 0.88 goals-against average, .978 save percentage in two games played) made six saves on six shots against before he was taken out of the game due to injury, while Pyotr Kochetkov (1-0, 2.31 goals-against average, .938 save percentage in one game played) turned aside 30 out of 32 shots faced in the win for the Hurricanes.

Bruins goaltender, Linus Ullmark (1-1, 4.17 goals-against average, .860 save percentage in two games played), made 29 saves on 32 shots against in the loss.

The Bruins were without the services of Jakub Zboril (right ACL) and Jesper Frödén (lower body) on Wednesday, while head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made one change to his lineup– promoting Matt Grzelcyk to the first defensive pairing with Charlie McAvoy and relegating Hampus Lindholm to the second pairing with Brandon Carlo.

Boston’s list of healthy scratches went untouched from Game 1 to Game 2 with Mike Reilly, Chris Wagner, Josh Brown, Anton Blidh and Kyle Keyser watching from the press box at PNC Arena.

Nino Niederreiter tripped Carlo and presented the Bruins with their first power play of the night at 3:17 of the first period, but the B’s weren’t able to convert on the skater advantage.

Moments later, Tony DeAngelo checked Erik Haula without the puck and cut a rut to the sin bin for interference as a result at 7:28, but Boston’s ensuing power play was cut short about 19 seconds later.

David Pastrnak caught Raanta with a forearm to the head while trying to avoid a major collision with the goaltender as Raanta worked to clear the puck outside the crease and Pastrnak tried to come to a stop without bowling over the netminder– completely flattening him in the process.

That said, the on-ice officials ruled it a five-minute major for goaltender interference before reducing Pastrnak’s infraction to a minor penalty upon video review.

Raanta was bleeding from a cut on his face and took some time to be helped off the ice by a trainer, but was Pastrnak’s force enough to cause the inside of Raanta’s mask to cut the goaltender or Vincent Trocheck’s accidental bump in the side of his teammate’s head as he skated by while Raanta was down on the ice pulling his mask off do more damage on top of the incidental contact with Pastrnak?

This is the type of thing that’s going on inside the minds of the on-ice officials alongside their interpretation of the rulebook.

Carolina replaced Raanta with Kochetkov and the Bruins managed to kill Pastrnak’s minor for goaltender interference at 7:47 of the first period.

A little past the midpoint of the opening frame, however, Jordan Staal broke free from Derek Forbort and sent a pass across the ice through the slot to Jesper Fast (1) for a one-timer goal– giving the Hurricanes a, 1-0, lead as a result at 13:03 of the first period.

Staal (1) and Jaccob Slavin (2) tallied the assists on Fast’s goal.

A couple minutes later, Aho (1) tipped a shot from the point by DeAngelo past Ullmark on the stick side to extend the Canes’ lead to two-goals.

DeAngelo (2) and Slavin (3) notched the assists and the Hurricanes led, 2-0, at 15:30.

Patrice Bergeron cut a rut to the sin bin for slashing at 18:54 and the Bruins managed to make the kill on the infraction.

Late in the period, however, Charlie Coyle and Niederreiter went to the box with coincidental minors at 19:53, followed by a scrum as the first intermission began– yielding roughing minors for Haula, Carlo and Seth Jarvis at 20:00.

Boston would be shorthanded to begin the middle frame.

Carolina, meanwhile, led, 2-0, on the scoreboard and, 11-10, in shots on goal after 20 minutes of action.

The Hurricanes also led in blocked shots (6-3), takeaways (5-0), giveaways (7-3) and faceoff win percentage (59-41), while the Bruins led in hits (18-16) entering the first intermission.

Both teams were 0-for-2 on the power play heading into the middle period.

Carolina confirmed that Raanta (upper body) would not return to the night’s action with a tweet prior to the start of the middle frame.

While on the power play, Aho (2) blasted a one-timer past Ullmark low on the glove side to give the Hurricanes a, 3-0, lead at 1:10 of the second period.

DeAngelo (3) and Teuvo Teräväinen (1) had the assists on Aho’s power-play goal– giving the Finnish forward his fourth career multi-goal postseason game– tying Kevin Dineed for the most in Hartford Whalers/Hurricanes franchise history in the process.

Trent Frederic checked Teräväinen shortly thereafter in frustration and picked up an interference minor at 3:39, though the Canes failed to convert on the ensuing skater advantage this time around.

Andrei Svechnikov was penalized for holding at 14:36 and it didn’t take Boston long to get on the scoreboard with a power-play goal from Bergeron (1) after he sent the puck back to the point whereby a shot attempt went wide, caromed off the glass back to Brad Marchand in the slot before Bergeron got a piece of it from close range.

Marchand (1) had the only assist on Bergeron’s 16th career postseason power-play goal– tying him for the third-most in Bruins franchise history with Johnny Bucyk in the process– and Boston trailed, 3-1, at 14:36 of the second period as a result.

A few minutes later, Svechnikov made a big hit behind the goal line on Lindholm– knocking the Bruins defender to the ice and leaving him in a daze as he was assisted by a trainer and teammate, Jake DeBrusk, to the tunnel.

Carlo went after Svechnikov in defense of his injured blue line partner and picked up a pair of roughing minors, while Svechnikov only received two minutes for roughing at 17:11 of the second period, rendering Carolina on the power play as a result.

Less than a minute later, Marchand and Kochetkov exchanged pleasantries and yielded slashing penalties at 17:52, followed by a holding infraction on Forbort at 18:07.

Carolina’s ensuing 5-on-3 advantage didn’t last long as Niederreiter (2) had just enough mustard on a shot that it trickled through the crease and over the goal line to give the Hurricanes another three-goal lead, 4-1, at 18:52.

Trocheck (2) and DeAngelo (4) tallied the assists on Niederreiter’s power-play goal and the Canes took their, 4-1, lead into the second intermission after 40 minutes of play.

Carolina led in shots on goal, 25-21, including a, 14-11, advantage in the second period alone, while dominating in blocked shots (9-7), takeaways (7-5), giveaways (10-5) and faceoff win% (54-46).

Boston, on the other hand, led in hits, 31-30, after two periods on Wednesday.

The Hurricanes were 2-for-6 on the power play, while the Bruins were 0-for-3 on the skater advantage heading into the final frame.

Early in the final frame, Svechnikov and McAvoy collided in the open ice and rendered the Bruins defender to his knees amid a brief stoppage.

He did not miss any shifts, however, as DeBrusk received a roughing minor for expressing his displeasure with Svechnikov and the B’s tweeted that Lindholm (upper body) would not return to the night’s action at 1:52 of the third period.

Carolina had another brief 5-on-3 advantage after Forbort caught Teräväinen with a high stick and drew blood at 3:04.

Forbort skated to the box with a double-minor penalty and Boston somehow made the kill.

Moments later, the Hurricanes had too many skaters on the ice and were assessed a bench minor at 8:27, but the B’s couldn’t capitalize on the ensuing power play.

Midway through the third period, however, Bergeron (2) notched his second goal of the game on an inadvertent deflection off of his right skate behind Kochetkov on a shot by McAvoy from the top of the left circle.

McAvoy (2) had the only assist on the goal and the Bruins trailed, 4-2, at 12:21 of the third period, while Bergeron (47) surpassed Phil Esposito (46) for the second-most postseason goals in franchise history– trailing only Cam Neely (55) for first overall in a Boston uniform.

With about 4:30 remaining in regulation, Cassidy pulled a page out of the book of head coaching as taught by Patrick Roy and yanked Ullmark out of the crease for an extra attacker.

Brett Pesce caught Marchand with a high stick at 15:49 and the B’s went on a power play as a result, but the Hurricanes’ penalty kill came and went unscathed and unchallenged.

After a stoppage with 1:15 remaining, Cassidy used his timeout to rally his skaters, but it was to no avail.

Carolina picked up a rebound that made its way all the way into their attacking zone and Niederreiter (3) put the icing on the cake with his second goal of the game– this time on an empty net to make it, 5-2, for the Hurricanes at 19:19.

Svechnikov (1) had the only assist on the goal.

At the final horn, another scrum ensued and only Forbort was dealt a roughing minor at 20:00 of the third period, but it didn’t matter in the end result as Carolina pulled off a, 5-2, victory and a 2-0 series lead.

Boston finished the night leading in shots on goal, 38-34, and had a, 17-9, advantage in shots on net in the third period alone.

The Bruins led in blocked shots (13-10) and hits (45-33), while the Hurricanes left their own ice leading in giveaways (12-7) and faceoff win% (55-45).

Carolina went 2-for-9 on the skater advantage, while the B’s went 1-for-5 on the power play Wednesday night in Game 2.

For the first time since the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, the Bruins trail 2-0 in a series heading back to home ice for Game 3.

Teams that lead a best-of-seven series 2-0 go on to win the series about 87% of the time per Hockey-Reference.

The Hurricanes take a 2-0 series lead heading into Game 3 Friday night at TD Garden in Boston. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. ET and viewers outside of the local markets can catch the action on TNT in the United States, as well as SN360 and TVAS2 in Canada.

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Bruins blowout Devils in historic, 8-1, victory

Charlie Coyle, Curtis Lazar, Anton Blidh, Tomáš Nosek, Brandon Carlo and Josh Brown failed to record a point while 12 other members of the Boston Bruins had at least one mention on the scoresheet in an, 8-1, thrashing of the New Jersey Devils Thursday night at TD Garden.

Patrice Bergeron (1-2–3) and David Pastrnak (0-3–3) each had three points, while Linus Ullmark (21-9-2, 2.65 goals-against average, .911 save percentage in 34 games played) made 25 saves on 26 shots faced for a .962 save percentage in the win for Boston.

New Jersey goaltender, Nico Daws (8-9-0, 3.27 goals-against average, .894 save percentage in 19 games played) made 15 saves on 20 shots against in 29:01 time on ice in the loss before he was replaced by Jon Gillies (3-10-0, 3.88 goals-against average, .882 save percentage in 17 games played) made 17 saves on 20 shots (30:59 time on ice) in relief of Daws for no decision.

The Bruins improved to 42-20-5 (89 points) overall and remain in command of 4th place in the Atlantic Division– two points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs and one point behind the Tampa Bay Lightning for 2nd and 3rd, respectively.

The B’s also hold the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference entering April.

The Devils, meanwhile, fell to 24-38-5 (53 points) on the season and fell to 8th place in the Metropolitan Division, trailing the Philadelphia Flyers by virtue of a tiebreaker in which the Flyers have 17 regulation wins to New Jersey’s 16.

Boston swept their regular season series against the Devils 3-0-0 in 2021-22 after going 3-3-2 against New Jersey in last season’s condensed 56-game schedule (the Bruins went 2-0-1 against New Jersey in 2019-20).

The B’s outscored the Devils, 18-6, over the course of their three matchups this season.

Bruce Cassidy was without the services of Jakub Zboril (right ACL), Craig Smith (illness) and Nick Foligno (lower body) on Thursday.

As a result, Marc McLaughlin made his National Hockey League debut in place of Smith on the third line, while Foligno was ruled “day-to-day” and replaced by Blidh on the fourth line.

Cassidy also switched out Derek Forbot and Connor Clifton on the third defensive pairing with Mike Reilly and Brown– the latter of which made his Bruins debut on Thursday since being acquired at the trade deadline on March 21st.

Jack Studnicka, Forbort and Clifton served as Boston’s trio of healthy scratches against the Devils.

Prior to puck drop, the Bruins honored recently retired goaltender, Tuukka Rask, with a video and a ceremonial puck drop at center ice with his wife and three daughters.

Rask is the winningest goaltender in franchise history, amassing 308 wins in 564 games played (also a franchise record).

He ranks second in shutouts (52) with the club, second in career goals-against average (2.28) and is tied for first in career save percentage (.921) all in a Bruins uniform over 15 seasons.

Rask also appeared in 104 Stanley Cup Playoff games and won 57 of them (both franchise records)— winning the Stanley Cup as the backup in 2011, and appearing in two more Finals in 2013 and 2019.

Less than a minute into the opening frame, Matt Grzelcyk (4) wristed a shot from the point into the back of the twine over Daws’ blocker side– giving the Bruins a, 1-0, lead at 57 seconds of the first period.

The two teams got a few extra minutes between Grzelcyk’s unassisted goal and the next faceoff, however, as the TD Garden game clock malfunctioned and left both clubs skating around the ice in a free skate prior to resuming play.

Less than a couple of minutes later, Brown made his first impression with the Boston crowd by squaring off with Mason Geertsen and delivering a few heavy punches back and forth before both players were escorted to their respective penalty box with five-minute majors for fighting at 2:56.

Brown would later leave the game after the second period with an upper body injury, but didn’t look out of place in a Bruins uniform in his debut.

Shortly thereafter, Miles Wood checked Charlie McAvoy hard behind the Boston net and elicited a response from Reilly as the two players wrestled and tumbled to the ice at 4:16 of the first period.

Reilly received two roughing minors– four minutes in penalties in total– to Wood’s sole roughing infraction, rending the night’s first power play to New Jersey as a result.

The Devils did not score on the ensuing skater advantage however.

Hampus Lindholm was penalized for holding at 8:49 and New Jersey went back on the power play, but once again failed to convert on the advantage.

Instead, however, the Devils caught Boston in the vulnerable minute after special teams action as the Bruins were trapped in their own zone.

Nico Hischier cut behind the net, stopped on a dime and turned back the other way before one-handing it to Jack Hughes while falling to his knees after almost losing possession in the trapezoid.

Hughes (25) promptly buried the rubber biscuit high on the short side as Ullmark was a few inches too far off the post.

Hischier (30) and Damon Severson (28) notched the assists as New Jersey tied the game, 1-1, at 11:02 of the first period.

Roughly five minutes later, Jake DeBrusk (18) collected a rebound, deked and pulled the puck to his forehand around Daws’ right pad and into the back of the net for his third goal in as many games after Bergeron initially sent a shot with purpose off of Daws’ blocker back into the high slot.

Bergeron (31) and Lindholm (19) tallied the assists as the Bruins took a, 2-1, lead at 16:09.

Heading into the first intermission, Boston was ahead on the scoreboard and led, 12-7, in shots on goal.

The B’s also held the advantage in blocked shots (5-1), takeaways (4-2), hits (9-8) and faceoff win percentage (67-33).

The Devils led in giveaways (7-1) and were o/2 on the power play, while the Bruins had yet to see time on the skater advantage entering the middle frame.

Pastrnak broke up a pass while Erik Haula intercepted the puck and worked it back to Pastrnak, who wrapped around the goal frame as Haula (10) pounced on the rebound and scored over the glove side to extend Boston’s lead to two-goals at 2:22 of the second period.

Pastrnak (31) had the only assist on the goal as the Bruins led, 3-1.

Shortly thereafter, P.K. Subban yanked Blidh to the ice and was assessed a holding infraction at 2:44, but Boston didn’t convert on the resulting power play.

Nevertheless, the Bruins had all the momentum as they continued to pile up pucks behind Daws and his replacement in Gillies.

First, DeBrusk retrieved his own bad angle shot that went into the far corner before working the puck around the horn back to DeBrusk, who by now had made his way back to about where he sent an initial attempt from.

DeBrusk tried again and hit some dead wood before Brad Marchand (29) gathered the puck and wired it into the twine to give Boston a, 4-1, lead on the scoreboard at 6:33 of the second period.

DeBrusk (12) and Grzelcyk (18) tallied the assists on Marchand’s first goal of the game.

Jesper Boqvist then used his hand on a faceoff shortly thereafter– receiving a faceoff violation infraction in the process– and presented the Bruins with another power play at 8:30 of the middle frame.

It only took the B’s about 30 seconds to convert on the skater advantage as Pastrnak sent a shot on goal that was inadvertently redirected by Bergeron (18) with his skate through Daws’ five-hole– giving Boston a four-goal lead at 9:01 of the second period as a result.

Pastrnak (32) and McAvoy (37) notched the assists on Bergeron’s power-play goal as Lindy Ruff swapped his goaltenders with the Devils trailing, 5-1.

Almost 90 seconds later, DeBrusk checked Ty Smith and left the New Jersey defender catching his breath for a few seconds while Bergeron won the loose puck back to Reilly at the point.

Reilly forked it to Marchand (30) for a one-timer goal– giving him 30 goals on the season in the process for the fifth time in his career (13 seasons) as Boston scored a pair of goals in a span of 1:33 to lead, 6-1.

Reilly (11) and Bergeron (32) tallied the assists on Marchand’s second goal of the game at 10:34 of the second period and the Bruins weren’t done scoring.

Trent Frederic entered the attacking zone on a 2-on-1 with McLaughlin (1) and flipped the puck to No. 26 in black and gold for a one-timer goal on the high glove side– beating Gillies for his first career NHL goal in his first game and extending Boston’s lead to six goals at 12:04.

Frederic (10) had the only assist as Coyle retrieved the puck for McLaughlin’s safekeeping after the game and the B’s led, 7-1, after scoring a trio of goals in a span of 3:03 in the middle frame.

McLaughlin, meanwhile, became the fifth Massachusetts-born NHLer to score in his debut in Bruins history, joining Ryan Donato (March 19, 2018), Frank Vatrano (Nov. 7, 2015), Shawn Bates (Oct. 2, 1997) and Hago Harrington (Dec. 29, 1925) in doing so.

Late in the period, Taylor Hall (16) added one more on a one-timed redirection after Pastrnak and Hall kept it in the attacking zone on a Devils turnover and had a brief 2-on-1 as they made their way to the slot.

Pastrnak (33) had the only assist on Hall’s goal and the Bruins had an, 8-1, lead at 16:12 of the second period– amassing the most goals they’ve scored in a single game this season and reaching eight goals in a game for the first time since Nov. 26, 2019, when Boston beat Montréal, 8-1, at Bell Centre– in part due to a hat trick from Pastrnak that night.

The Bruins also recorded their first instance of scoring six goals in one period since Nov. 3, 1983, when they had six goals in the second period of a, 9-5, victory against the St. Louis Blues at Boston Garden.

Through 40 minutes, the Bruins led, 8-1, on the scoreboard and dominated shots on goal, 28-17, including a, 16-10, advantage in the second period alone.

Boston also led in blocked shots (9-3), takeaways (7-4), hits (16-15) and faceoff win% (64-36), while New Jersey led in giveaways (10-5) after two periods.

The Devils remained 0/2 on the power play, while the B’s were 1/2 on the skater advantage heading into the final frame.

Haula hooked Hughes at 1:10 of the third period, but the Devils couldn’t get another shot past Ullmark while the Bruins did their job on the penalty kill in front of their netminder.

Jonas Siegenthaler sent an errant puck over the glass and out of play for an automatic infraction at 7:26, but Boston wasn’t able to convert on the resulting power play.

Late in the game, Coyle and Geertsen exchanged pleasantries and received ten-minute misconducts with a ticket to their respective showers early for the night at 17:03 of the third period.

At the sound of the final horn, the Bruins had won, 8-1, and finished the night leading in shots on goal, 40-26, including a, 12-9, advantage in the third period alone.

Boston also left their own ice leading in hits (23-20) and faceoff win% (60-40), while New Jersey led in blocked shots (13-6) and giveaways (15-10).

The Devils finished 0/3 on the power play, while the B’s went 1/3 on the skater advantage in Thursday’s effort– improving to a 15-3-1 record in their last 19 games, as well as 8-0-1 in games after allowing five or more goals in the previous game.

Boston also improved to 31-7-2 (14-4-1 at home) when scoring first, 25-2-1 (12-1-0 at home) when leading after the first period and 28-1-3 (12-1-1 at home) when leading after the second period this season.

New Jersey fell to 9-23-2 (3-15-1 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 5-18-2 (1-11-0 on the road) when trailing after one period and 3-31-2 (2-20-1 on the road) when trailing after two periods in 2021-22.

The Bruins went 10-3-1 in the month of March and begin the month of April by hosting the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday before hitting the road for the next four games starting next Monday (April 4th) in Columbus, next Tuesday (April 5th) in Detroit, then Tampa (April 8th) and Washington, D.C. (April 10th).

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Hurricanes sweep season series against Boston for first time in 10 years

The Carolina Hurricanes shutout the Boston Bruins, 6-0, Thursday night at TD Garden to sweep their regular season series (3-0-0) against Boston for the first time since the 2011-12 season.

Andrei Svechnikov had a three-point night (one goal, two assists), while Frederik Andersen (25-6-1, 2.01 goals-against average, .930 save percentage in 32 games played) made 34 saves on 34 shots against for his second shutout of the season.

Bruins goaltender, Linus Ullmark (16-7-1, 2.78 goals-against average, .910 save percentage in 25 games played) stopped 37 out of 43 shots faced in the loss.

Dating back to the 2019-20 season– as the two teams did not meet in the temporarily realigned division-based schedules in 2020-21– three out of their last four regular season games have been shutouts with the Hurricanes amassing two shutouts this season against Boston, while the B’s shutout the Canes in their only meeting in 2019-20.

In 2021-22 alone, Carolina outscored Boston, 16-1.

The Bruins last beat the Hurricanes, 2-0, on Dec. 3, 2019, at TD Garden as Jaroslav Halak made 24 saves en route to a shutout victory.

Thursday night in Boston, the Bruins fell to 26-16-3 (57 points) on the season, but remain in 4th place in the Atlantic Division, as well as in command of the second wild card berth in the Eastern Conference.

Carolina, meanwhile, improved to 32-10-3 (67 points) overall and sit perched atop the Metropolitan Division– two points behind the Florida Panthers for first overall in the entire Eastern Conference– and three points behind the Colorado Avalanche in the race for the 2021-22 Presidents’ Trophy as the Avs beat the Tampa Bay Lightning, 3-2, Thursday night.

The Bruins were without the likes of Jakub Zboril (right ACL), Urho Vaakanainen (upper body), Patrice Bergeron (upper body) and Brad Marchand (suspension) in the, 6-0, loss Thursday.

34-year-old goaltender, Tuukka Rask, announced his retirement from the National Hockey League after 15 NHL seasons (all with Boston).

Ultimately, Rask’s body was not responding well enough from offseason hip surgery to continue to play at the level of competition that the Finnish goaltender desired after signing a one-year deal with Boston on Jan. 11th and playing in four games (2-2-0, 4.29 goals-against average, .884 save percentage) this season.

Rask leaves the game leading the franchise in wins (308), games played by a goaltender (564), saves (14,345), minutes played by a goaltender (32,404:55) and second in career goals-against average (2.28), as well as shutouts (52).

He is tied with Tim Thomas for the lead in career save percentage as a Bruin (.921) and was a member of the 2011 Stanley Cup championship roster, serving as Thomas’ backup in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 regular seasons after briefly usurping Thomas for the role of the starter in 2009-10.

Rask was named to the All Star Game in 2017, as well as in 2020, but chose not to go, thereby serving a mandatory one-game suspension in the following game after the All Star break.

He won the Vezina Trophy as the league’s best goaltender in 2013-14 and shared the honor of winning the William M. Jennings Trophy with Halak in 2019-20.

Tiny Thompson spent parts of 11 seasons with Boston, while Frank Brimsek played in nine, Gerry Cheevers played in 12 and Thomas spent eight years with the club.

Rask made his league debut in the 2007-08 season and played in 15 seasons for Boston. All for Boston.

Thompson was traded to the Detroit Red Wings as Brimsek forced Art Ross’ hand in the 1938-39 season. Brimsek was dealt to Chicago at the twilight of his career prior to the 1949-50 season.

Cheevers left for a stint in the World Hockey Association in Cleveland from 1972-76, before returning to the Bruins.

Thomas sat out the lockout shortened 2012-13 season and was subsequently traded to the New York Islanders on Feb. 7, 2013, as a result before making an NHL comeback with the Florida Panthers in 2013-14, prior to being traded to the Dallas Stars at the 2014 trade deadline, where he finished his career.

The Bruins traded Andrew Raycroft to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Rask on June 24, 2006, after the Leafs selected Rask 21st overall in 2005.

Rask backstopped Boston to three playoff series wins against Toronto in 2013, 2018, and 2019– leading the Bruins to a pair of Stanley Cup Final appearances in 2013, and 2019.

The torch in the crease passes as Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman look to compete for the starting role in the years to come.

As Bergeron and Marchand were out of the lineup on Thursday, the Bruins had no players remaining from the 2011 Stanley Cup Final in the night’s action for just the second time (previous, Dec. 16th at the Islanders in a, 3-1, loss this season while Bergeron and Marchand were in COVID-19 protocol).

Jack Studnicka and Tyler Lewington were recalled from the Providence Bruins (AHL), while Oskar Steen was reassigned ahead of Thursday night’s loss to Carolina.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, placed Studnicka on the second line with Jake DeBrusk and Craig Smith on his wings– promoting the usual second line to first line duties for the night.

Meanwhile, Trent Frederic and Anton Blidh returned to action with Frederic at left wing on the third line and Blidh at left wing on the fourth line.

Charlie Coyle and Nick Foligno joined Frederic on the checking line, while Tomáš Nosek and Curtis Lazar were the usual suspects with Blidh on the fourth line.

Bergeron, Lewington, Vaakanainen, Marchand and Zboril were all out of the lineup due to injury, suspension or healthy scratch purposes on Thursday.

Cassidy informed reporters after the game that Bergeron would not be traveling with the team to Ottawa for Saturday’s matinée on the road against the Senators and remains “day-to-day” with a head injury.

Martin Nečas cross checked Charlie McAvoy and presented Boston with the night’s first power play at 1:29 of the first period on Thursday.

The Bruins, however, did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

A few minutes later, Ian Cole caught Lazar with a high stick at 4:21, but once again the B’s were powerless on the power play.

Frederic cut a rut to the box for cross checking Svechnikov at 7:43 of the first period and yielded Carolina their first power play of the game as a result.

It didn’t take the Hurricanes long before they converted on the skater advantage as Vincent Trocheck (13) stood in the right place at the right time to kick a pass to himself and score on the far side on a rebound.

Teuvo Teräväinen (22) and Svechnikov (23) tallied the assists on Trocheck’s power-play goal as the Canes pulled ahead, 1-0, at 8:26 of the first period.

About a minute later, McAvoy unloaded on a clean hit in the neutral zone on Sebastian Aho– drawing the ire and a response from Tony DeAngelo as the two defenders exchanged fisticuffs and received fighting majors at 9:35.

Moments later, Connor Clifton cut a rut to the sin bin or interference at 13:17, but Teräväinen shortly followed at 14:17 for hooking.

After one minute of 4-on-4 action and an abbreviated power play for the Bruins, neither team could muster another goal on the scoreboard, despite Carolina receiving a power play that bled into the middle frame courtesy of a high stick from David Pastrnak on Nečas at 18:07 of the first period.

Entering the first intermission, the Hurricanes led, 1-0, on the scoreboard and, 18-11, in shots on goal.

The Canes also held the advantage in blocked shots (3-1), takeaways (3-0), giveaways (3-2) and faceoff win percentage (59-41). Meanwhile, the Bruins held the advantage in hits (22-9).

Carolina went 1/3 and Boston went 0/3 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

The Bruins failed to clear their own zone and turned the puck over right to Svechnikov (18) for an unassisted shot that had eyes and beat Ullmark high on the blocker side.

The Hurricanes jumped out to a, 2-0, lead as a result at 2:35 of the second period and kept pouring it on as the period continued.

Almost midway through the second period, Nečas sent a shot towards the net that Teräväinen deflected off Ullmark and generated a fortunate rebound to Aho (20) as Aho crashed the net in open ice– extending Carolina’s lead to three goals in the process.

Teräväinen (23) and Nečas (16) notched the assists on Aho’s goal as a result and the Hurricanes pulled ahead, 3-0, at 8:01.

Late in the period, while dominating attacking zone possession, the Canes generated yet another rebound that Jesper Fast scooped up and dropped a pass back to the point where Brett Pesce (3) fluttered a shot past the Boston netminder to give Carolina a four-goal lead.

Fast (8) and Jordan Staal (11) had the assists as the Hurricanes took a, 4-0, lead at 14:02 of the second period.

Minutes later, Svechnikov and Matt Grzelcyk collided awkwardly in the corner as Grzelcyk went down in pain– clutching his right shoulder.

After a minute on the ice, Grzelcyk skated off on his own power and went down the tunnel, but did not return to the night’s action.

Through 40 minutes of action Thursday night, the Hurricanes led, 4-0, on the scoreboard, as well as in shots on goal, 29-22, despite both teams amassing 11 shots on net each in the second period alone.

Carolina held the advantage in blocked shots (7-1), takeaways (4-1) and faceoff win% (52-48), while Boston led in hits (36-26).

Both teams had eight giveaways each, while the Canes remained 1/3 and the B’s were 0/3 on the power play heading into the final frame.

Foligno thought he scored a goal and got the Bruins on the board 22 seconds into the third period– only, the on-ice officials quickly waved off the would-be goal.

The official call on ice was no goal by rule of incidental contact with the goaltender as Foligno’s momentum brought him into touch with Andersen– up close and personal as he bowled into the Hurricanes goaltender.

Cassidy challenged the call on the ice on the grounds that he believed his Boston forward was pushed by Brady Skjei, which caused Foligno to continue his path towards the net instead of having a last second chance to bail out.

Video review did not agree with Cassidy’s interpretation of events and the call on the ice was confirmed– no goal.

The Bruins were assessed a bench minor for delay of game as a result of losing the challenge and sent DeBrusk to serve the infraction in the box.

Late on the ensuing power play, Teräväinen gathered a pass from Svechnikov, twirled and spun the rubber biscuit over to Aho (21) for Aho’s second goal of the game– giving Carolina a, 5-0, lead on the scoreboard.

Teräväinen (24) and Svechnikov (24) tallied the assists on Aho’s power-play goal at 1:58 of the third period.

Shortly thereafter, Steven Lorentz tripped Derek Forbort at 6:50, but Boston’s power play went by the wayside (by now you should probably realize this, since Carolina shutout the Bruins on Thursday).

There was no change in the number of skaters on the ice when McAvoy and Aho got into a shoving match and exchanged slashing minors at 8:13.

Things started to quiet down thereafter before Carolina made one more mark on the scoreboard courtesy of a great display of hand-eye coordination from Staal.

Off of an attacking zone faceoff win, Skjei received a pass at the point and wound up to take a shot.

Skjei sent the puck fluttering through the air whereby Staal (3) tipped the shot close past Smith and over Ullmark’s glove to give the Hurricanes a, 6-0, advantage on the scoreboard.

Skjei (12) recorded the only assist on Staal’s goal at 15:24 of the third period.

After that, there were no more goals and no more penalties for the rest of the night– just the sound of the final horn when time ticked down to zeros across the clock.

Carolina won, 6-0, and finished the night leading in shots on goal, 43-34, while also amassing a, 14-12, advantage in shots on goal in the third period alone.

The Hurricanes left TD Garden leading in blocked shots (13-4), giveaways (10-9) and faceoff win% (51-49), while the Bruins exited their own building leading in hits (42-32).

The Canes went 2/4 on the power play on Thursday, while the B’s finished the night 0/4 on the skater advantage.

Andersen, meanwhile, picked up his second shutout of the season, as well as the 21st of his career in the process as Carolina finished their regular season series with Boston– outscoring the Bruins by a combined score of, 16-1, over three games.

Both of Andersen’s shutouts so far in 2021-22, came against the Bruins as the Hurricanes swept their regular season series against the B’s.

Boston fell to 9-10-3 (6-6-1 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 4-10-2 (4-6-1 at home) when trailing after the first period and 3-13-2 (3-8-1 at home) when trailing after two periods this season.

Carolina, meanwhile, improved to 23-3-2 (12-2-2 on the road) when scoring first, 19-1-1 (8-1-1 on the road) when leading after one and 22-1-1 (8-0-1 on the road) when leading after the second period in 2021-22.

The Bruins hit the road for the next four games and will pay a visit to the Ottawa Senators on Saturday, New York Rangers next Tuesday, New York Islanders next Thursday and Senators once more next Saturday.

Boston returns home to host the Colorado Avalanche on Feb. 21st before swinging through Seattle, San Jose and Los Angeles to close out the month of February.

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Penguins complete comeback in first meeting with Boston this season

Danton Heinen scored a pair of goals in his first game back at TD Garden as a member of the visiting team since he was traded to the Anaheim Ducks for Nick Ritchie on Feb. 24, 2020, while Sidney Crosby scored the eventual game-winning goal and Bryan Rust added an empty net goal to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins over the Boston Bruins, 4-2, on Tuesday night.

Heinen signed with Pittsburgh as a free agent on July 29, 2021, after spending parts of two seasons with Anaheim. The Ducks opted not to tender a qualifying offer to the then would have been-restricted free agent.

Meanwhile, Tristan Jarry (24-8-6, 2.21 goals-against average, .925 save percentage in 38 games played) made a season-high 43 saves on 45 shots against in the win for the Penguins.

Bruins goaltender, Jeremy Swayman (8-7-2, 2.35 goals-against average, .914 save percentage in 18 games played) stopped 21 out of 24 shots faced in the loss.

David Pastrnak had a pair of goals in Boston’s loss and Patrice Bergeron exited the game midway through the third period with an upper body injury induced by what was deemed as an “incidental” trip (as there was no penalty on the play) by Crosby.

The B’s will likely be without Brad Marchand in their next matchup as a result of his antics in the final minute of the action, but more on that after as we recap some roster news and notes from the All Star break to Tuesday night’s loss.

But first, a quick standings update.

Boston fell to 26-15-3 (55 points) overall, but still holds on to 4th place in the Atlantic Division as well as the second wild card in the Eastern Conference.

Pittsburgh improved to 28-11-8 (64 points) on the season and in command of 3rd place in the Metropolitan Division standings.

The B’s fell to 0-1-0 against the Pens this season after amassing a 5-3-0 record in their regular season series in 2020-21, as well as a 2-1-0 record against Pittsburgh in 2019-20.

The Bruins were without the services of Jakub Zboril (right ACL), Trent Frederic (upper body), Tuukka Rask (lower body) and Urho Vaakanainen (upper body) on Tuesday, while Nick Foligno and Erik Haula made their return to the lineup.

Foligno took Anton Blidh’s spot on the fourth line left wing, while Haula resumed his role as the second line center with Tomáš Nosek returning to his fourth line job.

As a result of the lineup changes and in accordance with the league’s rules on temporary taxi squads up until the All Star break, Steven Fogarty, Tyler Lewington and Jesper Frödén were reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL).

On defense, Connor Clifton took over Vaakanainen’s spot on the third pairing alongside Derek Forbort.

Frederic, Rask, Vaakanainen, Zboril and Blidh made up Boston’s list of injured players and healthy scratches against the Penguins.

During the first intermission The Athletic‘s, Fluto Shinzawa, reported that Rask’s comeback from offseason hip surgery was likely coming to an end and that the 34-year-old goaltender is considering a retirement announcement in the next few days.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, offered no update on Rask’s status after the game other than reiterating that Rask will be unavailable for the week and any decisions that may suggest retirement would come from Rask– not as a team directive.

If Rask is, in fact, retiring, he would do so as Boston’s winningest goaltender in franchise history, amassing 308 wins in 564 career NHL games– all with the Bruins– since making his league debut in 2007-08.

In that 15-season span, Rask would finish with a career goals-against average of 2.28 and a career save percentage of .921 in about 32,405 minutes played– the most by any Boston goaltender in club history, while ranking second in shutouts (52) to Tiny Thompson’s 74.

He also served as the backup netminder on the 2011 Stanley Cup champion roster and backstopped Boston to two more Final appearances in 2013, and 2019.

Almost two minutes into the opening frame, Radim Zohorna tripped up Charlie Coyle and cut a rut to the penalty box at 1:40 of the first period as result.

It didn’t take Boston long to convert on the ensuing power play, as Brian Boyle botched an indirect pass up the boards intended for John Marino that was instead snagged by Bergeron as the Bruins captain kept the rubber biscuit in the attacking zone.

Bergeron worked a pass up to Taylor Hall, who set up Pastrnak (23) for a one-timer goal from one knee at the faceoff dot– giving the B’s a, 1-0, lead at 2:01 of the first period in the process.

Hall (20) and Bergeron (23) tallied the assists on Pastrnak’s power-play goal.

A few minutes later, Jake DeBrusk hooked Dominik Simon and presented the Penguins with their first power play of the night at 5:27.

Boston’s penalty kill stood tall, however, and killed off DeBrusk’s minor.

Late in the period, the Pens turned the puck over in their attacking zone– rendering a de facto 3-on-1 opportunity for the Bruins as Haula sent a pass to Hall through the zone before Hall’s shot generated a rebound whereby Pastrnak (24) batted the puck out of mid-air and under Jarry’s glove.

Boston took a, 2-0, lead courtesy of Pastrnak’s 40th career two-goal game, while Hall (21) and Haula (12) notched the assists at 15:34 of the first period.

Entering the first intermission, the B’s led, 2-0, on the scoreboard, as well as in shots on net, 17-10.

Pittsburgh held the advantage in blocked shots (6-5) and hits (12-11), while Boston led in takeaways (5-2), giveaways (5-4) and faceoff win percentage (53-47).

The Penguins were 0/1 and the Bruins were 1/1 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

Heinen (10) struck early in the second period– cutting Boston’s lead in half, 2-1, courtesy of being in the right place at the right time to catch a pass from Brock McGinn on a drive-by through the low slot before wrapping the rubber biscuit around Swayman.

McGinn (6) and Mike Matheson (13) had the assists on Heinen’s first goal of the game at 4:18 of the second period.

Just 28 seconds later, Heinen (11) recorded his second goal of the night courtesy of a shot with eyes from the circle to Swayman’s left off of the Bruins goaltender’s shoulder and into the twine.

Marino (17) and Evan Rodrigues (18) notched the assists on the goal as the Pens tied it, 2-2, at 4:46 of the second period– marking the fastest two goals by one Penguins skater since Martin Straka scored a club-record two goals in a seven-second span on Feb. 11, 2000, against the Edmonton Oilers.

Almost midway through the period, Pittsburgh was caught with too many skaters on the ice– rendering a bench minor at 7:24 that was served by Heinen.

Boston couldn’t convert on the ensuing power play, however.

Minutes later, Coyle interfered with Jeff Carter and yielded a power play to the Penguins at 11:56.

It took roughly a minute on the skater advantage for Crosby (13) to notch a power-play goal– the eventual game-winner in the process, as well as his 499th career NHL goal– to give Pittsburgh their first lead of the night, 3-2, at 12:53 of the second period.

Rust (19) and Jake Guentzel (24) had the assists on the goal as the Penguins capped off a trio of goals in a span of 8:35.

Late in the period, Matheson and Hall exchanged some pleasantries after a whistle and earned minor penalties for roughing at 18:49– resulting in 4-on-4 action that would seep into the final frame.

Through 40 minutes of action, Pittsburgh led Boston on the scoreboard, 3-2, despite the Bruins leading in shots on goal, 35-18– including an, 18-8, advantage in the second period alone.

The Penguins held the advantage in blocked shots (11-7) and hits (24-19), while the B’s led in takeaways (9-5), giveaways (7-5) and faceoff win% (66-34).

Both teams were 1/2 on the power play heading into the second intermission.

Craig Smith interfered with McGinn at 1:43 of the third period, but the Penguins weren’t able to score on the ensuing power play to begin the final frame.

Moments later, Crosby took down Bergeron with an errant leg as the Bruins captain smacked the back of his head off the boards while falling.

Bergeron did not return to the night’s action after going down the tunnel under his own power after a brief exchange with a Boston athletic trainer.

Matt Grzelcyk tried to invite Crosby to a square dance shortly thereafter with a swift cross check, but the Pittsburgh captain would not accept and instead was caught retaliating and assessed a roughing minor at 9:25.

The Bruins did not score on the resulting power play, however.

With 1:42 remaining in the action, Cassidy pulled Swayman for an extra attacker amidst the jumbled lines, but as Smith shortly tried to enter the zone and fumbled the puck– Charlie McAvoy couldn’t recover on the error and Rust broke free with possession.

Rust (15) skated through the neutral zone and buried the rubber biscuit in the open basket for a, 4-2, lead at 18:31 of the third period, while Guentzel (25) recorded the only assist.

Swayman vacated the crease once more with about 1:19 left on the clock, but it was ultimately to no avail despite Boston crowding the net in the other end.

After Jarry delivered a quick slash amongst the net front traffic, Marchand took exception to the Pittsburgh goaltender’s action and choice words shortly thereafter– appearing to aggravate the oft-short-tempered Bruin in the process.

Marchand swung a punch at Jarry’s mask and proceeded to get his stick in Jarry’s face– whether or not it was a forceful shove or spear remains at the mercy of the discretion of the officials on the ice and/or league office as Marchand was assessed a match penalty on the play, rendering an automatic suspension unless otherwise stated.

The B’s finished the night shorthanded as Marchand’s roughing minor and match penalty came at 19:35 of the third period.

Jarry took the high road after the game and told reporters “I think it’s just the heat of the moment, everyone’s battling hard out there. [Marchand’s] just trying to get the puck to the net and I think the team did a great job. … It’s part of the game and it stays on the ice.”

Cassidy noted after the game that Marchand’s antics were “undisciplined” and that he “needs to control his emotions in that situation.”

The rest is up to the league now.

At the final horn Tuesday night, the Penguins had won, 4-2, despite trailing Boston in shots on goal, 45-25.

The Bruins held the advantage in shots on goal in the third period alone, 10-7, as well as in giveaways (11-8) and faceoff win% (55-45), while Pittsburgh wrapped up the night’s action leading in blocked shots (19-13) and hits (30-22).

The Pens finished the night 1/4 on the power play while the B’s left their own ice 1/3 on the skater advantage in the loss.

The Bruins fell to 17-6-0 (9-4-0 at home) when scoring first, 16-1-0 (8-1-0 at home) when leading after the first period and 3-12-2 (3-7-1 at home) when trailing after two periods this season.

Pittsburgh improved to 7-8-7 (4-3-3 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 4-3-3 (3-2-1 on the road) when trailing after one and 21-1-1 (11-1-0 on the road) when leading after the second period in 2021-22.

Boston will host the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday before venturing across the border to visit the Ottawa Senators on Saturday afternoon to begin a four-game road trip.

The Bruins swing through New York for a pair of games against the Rangers and Islanders before visiting the Senators once more next Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, respectively.

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NHL Nick's Net

What does Don Sweeney need to do to make it up to you by the 2022 trade deadline? (Part 1)

Chapter One- In The Beginning… (2016)

With over two months until the 2022 NHL trade deadline on March 21st, there’s plenty of time to start speculating about what kind of moves— if any— would make the most sense for the Boston Bruins in their 2021-22 endeavor.

Though it wasn’t easy at the start of his tenure as General Manager, Don Sweeney, has significantly improved his trading prowess as the deadline approaches from season to season in Boston.

That said, not every trade has yielded a gold mine for the Bruins and they’ve yet to win the Stanley Cup since 2011, despite making it all the way to Game 7 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final on home ice and winning the Presidents’ Trophy the following season (2019-20).

For the record, a lot has changed in both the league itself, as well as the team’s development since the days of acquiring guys like John-Michael Liles and Lee Stempniak on Feb. 29, 2016, instead of swinging for the fences and landing, uh, guys like Pat Maroon, Kris Russell or Mikkel Boedker at the 2016 trade deadline.

In retrospect, maybe there really wasn’t that much of a market that season.

Sure, Eric Staal was traded to the New York Rangers the day before the 2016 trade deadline on Feb. 28th, but he only managed to amass six points in 20 games with the Rangers down the stretch.

Staal then joined the Minnesota Wild in free agency on July 1, 2016, and had four seasons of a career resurgence before he was traded to the Buffalo Sabres prior to the 2020-21 season— whereby he was later flipped to the Montréal Canadiens— only to end up losing in the 2021 Stanley Cup Final to the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games.

These days he has been invited to Team Canada’s training camp for the 2022 Winter Games as he’s currently an unrestricted free agent.

More and more recently, the bigger trades happen in the last couple of weeks leading up to the deadline itself, so let’s widen the scope a bit for 2016, just for a second.

The Florida Panthers added Jakub Kindl from the Detroit Red Wings, Jiri Hudler from the Calgary Flames and Teddy Purcell from the Edmonton Oilers on Feb. 27th that year.

Kindl spent parts of two seasons in Florida before leaving for Europe after the 2016-17 season, Hudler joined the Dallas Stars for 2016-17, and promptly retired thereafter, while Purcell joined the Los Angeles Kings in 2016-17, before joining the Bruins on a PTO at training camp in 2017, prior to being released then spent the 2017-18 season in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) and retired thereafter.

One other team tried going for it in the rental market, as Chicago acquired Tomáš Fleischmann and Dale Weise from the Montréal Canadiens for Phillip Danault and a 2018 2nd round pick (38th overall, Alexander Romanov), added Christian Ehrhoff from Los Angeles for Rob Scuderi and dealt Marko Dano, a 2016 1st round pick (later flipped to the Philadelphia Flyers, 22nd overall—selected German Rubtsov) and a conditional 2018 3rd round pick (the condition was not met) to the Winnipeg Jets for Jay Harrison, Andrew Ladd and Matt Fraser.

Fleischmann retired after that season, Weise left for the Philadelphia Flyers in free agency that summer, Ehrhoff went back to Europe, Harrison never suited up for Chicago, Ladd had 12 points in 19 games— then joined the New York Islanders in free agency— and Fraser also never suited up in a Chicago uniform.

So, the rental market didn’t really pan out that year.

The San Jose Sharks added James Reimer and Jeremy Morin from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for Ben Smith, Alex Stalock and a 2018 3rd round pick (83rd overall, Riley Stotts) the same day the Panthers made all of their moves.

Reimer went on to serve as a decent backup to Martin Jones in San Jose’s 2016 Stanley Cup Final appearance before ultimately losing in six games to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Sharks also bolstered their blue line five days prior in a separate trade with Toronto on the 22nd, in which San Jose acquired Roman Polák and Nick Spaling from the Maple Leafs for Raffi Torres, a 2017 2nd round pick (later flipped to the Anaheim Ducks, 50th overall— Maxime Comtois) and a 2018 2nd round pick (52nd overall, Sean Durzi), but again, neither of those deals were earth-shattering.

Polák was in search of a Cup ring late in his career (despite playing four more seasons afterward) and had three assists in 24 games with San Jose in the regular season before failing to put up a point in 24 Stanley Cup Playoff games as a Shark prior to rejoining Toronto via free agency that summer.

Spaling at least had 2-4—6 totals in 24 games down the stretch with the Sharks and even recorded an assist in 24 playoff games before— like the rest of the team— losing to the Penguins in the Final and leaving the NHL for the Swiss League that summer.

In terms of immediate impact, the Sharks got their money’s worth (kind of), but for a trio of rental players.

San Jose’s deals might have been the biggest trades not involving the Bruins in the buildup to one of Sweeney’s most often criticized trade deadlines because first impressions mean a lot to some in the Boston fanbase.

What was made available, however, didn’t amount to much.

Although, there is enough credibility to the thought that the Bruins should’ve sold high on Loui Eriksson at the time when they could’ve shipped him out of the Hub at a premium before missing the playoffs for a second-straight year.

Instead, Eriksson went on to amass 63 points (30 goals, 33 assists) in all 82 games with Boston in his first healthy season in the three years he had been there after the Tyler Seguin trade (which happened under previous General Manager, Peter Chiarelli, while Sweeney worked in a player development role)— and signed on the dotted line with the Vancouver Canucks on July 1, 2016, leaving Boston with nothing in his wake.

This, after the Bruins (42-31-9, 93 points, 4th in the Atlantic Division) missed the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs by virtue of a tiebreaker with the Red Wings (41-30-11, 93 points, 3rd in the Atlantic) who had 39 regulation plus overtime wins (ROW) to Boston’s 38.

Two teams from the Metropolitan Division— the Islanders and the Flyers— clinched the Eastern Conference wild card playoff berths with 100 and 96 points, respectively, in the standings.

As for the biggest deal leading up to the 2016 trade deadline, you’d probably have to move the goalposts a little bit on the “within two weeks before the deadline itself” rule to find the best deal.

But the Ottawa Senators were the beneficiary of a revival on Feb. 9, 2016, when they traded Colin Greening, Milan Michalek, Jared Cowen, Tobias Lindberg and a 2017 2nd round pick (59th overall, Eemeli Räsänen) to Toronto for Dion Phaneuf (captain of the Maple Leafs at the time), Matt Frattin, Ryan Rupert, Casey Bailey and Cody Donaghey.

Phaneuf had a late career renaissance with the Sens and proved to be pivotal in their run to the 2017 Eastern Conference Final the following year— only to lose on the road in a Game 7 against the Penguins, 3-2, in double overtime.

Pittsburgh, by the way, went on to repeat as Stanley Cup champions that June.

Frattin never suited up for the Senators and left for the KHL after spending a year with the Stockton Heat (AHL) in 2016-17.

Rupert was mired in the minors until going to Europe in 2018-19, while Bailey played in seven games for Ottawa in 2016-17, then spent time split between the American Hockey League and Europe since then (currently in the DEL).

Donaghey, on the other hand, played in one AHL game in 2017-18, before spending the majority of his time in the ECHL prior to leaving for Europe last season (currently in the ELH).

But Phaneuf brought his $7.000 million cap hit to the Sens and actually saved the team money since they shipped out Greening ($2.650 million), Michalek ($4.000 million) and Cowen ($3.100 million) as part of the package— adding about $2.750 million towards the cap for Toronto in the deal.

Of course, the Leafs went on to win the 2016 Draft Lottery and selected Auston Matthews 1st overall that June, so it wasn’t all that bad.

In 51 games with the Maple Leafs prior to the trade in the 2015-16 season, Phaneuf had 3-21—24 totals. In 20 games with Ottawa, he had 1-7—8 totals.

The following year, he had 9-21—30 totals in 81 games and put up five points (one goal, four assists) from the blue line in 19 playoff games in 2017.

He then had 3-13—16 totals in 53 games with Ottawa in 2017-18, before he was traded to the Los Angeles Kings in another deal that— you guessed it, saved the Senators some money (only about $1.100 million this time around).

Phaneuf had 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in 26 games with Los Angeles and recorded an assist in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs as the Kings were swept by the Vegas Golden Knights in the 2018 First Round.

Then in 2018-19, he amassed 1-5—6 totals in 67 games and had the last two years of his contract bought out by Los Angeles on June 15, 2019.

He didn’t officially retire until Nov. 16, 2021, and spent parts of two seasons following Brendan Shanahan around in his role as president and alternate governor of the Leafs.

Though he wasn’t scoring 40, 50 or even 60 points as a defender like he did in his prime with the Calgary Flames, Phaneuf was still the rugged and durable veteran blue liner that he was in his short tenure from before the 2016 deadline until about his final season and injury was really the only thing that did him in at the end due to his physical style.

He had value and the Leafs just gave him up to their intra-provincial rivals about three years before Toronto repeated themselves in giving Ottawa a better defender (Nikita Zaitsev) for a younger defender (Cody Ceci) that just didn’t really pan out as part of a larger package in a trade on July 1, 2019.

Anyway, that last part was really just for those of you that made it this far and care about things outside of just the Bruins organization.

We’ll move on to analyzing Sweeney’s deadline deals since 2016, in the next chapter.

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NHL Nick's Net Previews

New York Islanders 2021-22 Season Preview

2020-21 record 32-17-7, 71 points

4th in the MassMutual NHL East Division

Eliminated in the Stanley Cup Semifinal by Tampa

Additions: F Andy Andreoff, F Richard Panik (acquired from DET), F Zach Parise, D Paul LaDue, D Zdeno Chara

Subtractions: F Robert Carpenter (signed with Milwaukee Admirals, AHL), F Jordan Eberle (expansion, SEA), F Tanner Fritz (signed with Hartford Wolf Pack, AHL), F Joshua Ho-Sang (signed with Toronto Marlies, AHL), F Andrew Ladd (traded to ARI), F Travis Zajac (signed to one-day contract with NJD, retired), D Nick Leddy (traded to DET)

Still Unsigned: F Kieffer Bellows (RFA), F Michael Dal Colle (RFA), D Braydon Coburn, G Cory Schneider

Re-signed: F Cole Bardreau, F Anthony Beauvillier, F Casey Cizikas, F Otto Koivula, F Kyle Palmieri, F Dmytro Timashov, D Andy Greene, D Adam Pelech, G Ilya Sorokin

Offseason Analysis: It’s October and we still don’t really know who is and who isn’t under contract with the New York Islanders because Isles General Manager, Lou Lamoriello, plays by his own rules.

Well, not exactly like that, but he at least doesn’t like facial hair and won’t allow his players to sport a scruffy look. Not even a goatee (which bothers me as someone that looks much too young without sporting even a small patch of stubble on my chin to prove, in fact, that I am old enough to order a beer– let alone see an “R”-rated movie).

Anyway, Lamoriello has slowly been announcing– though never disclosing the financial terms– deals that have been signed by players like Zach Parise and Zdeno Chara, as well as extensions for Kyle Palmieri, Adam Pelech, Andy Greene and Ilya Sorokin.

Parise, 37, joins New York after amassing 393-417–810 totals in 1,060 career National Hockey League games for the New Jersey Devils and– most recently– the Minnesota Wild.

Last season with the Wild, he had 18 points (seven goals, 11 assists) in 45 games, which was a bit of a steep decline in his production from 2019-20, albeit in much more limited time as Minnesota head coach, Dean Evason, felt his team was better with Parise scratched from time to time.

New York head coach, Barry Trotz, on the other hand, thinks he can utilize Parise in the right amounts to maximize his value as a veteran of the league in search of his first Cup ring– let alone his first trip back to the Stanley Cup Final since 2012.

Chara, 44, reunites with the Islanders– the team that drafted him in the 3rd round (56th overall) in the 1996 NHL Draft prior to breaking into the league with the Isles in the 1997-98 season and spending parts of four seasons on Long Island before then-General Manager Mike Milbury traded him to the Ottawa Senators ahead of the 2001-02 season.

The long time veteran defender is entering his 24th season after amassing 207-459–666 totals in 1,608 games thus far with the Islanders, Senators, Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals. Chara was a member of the 2011 Stanley Cup champion Bruins roster and should pay dividends on the third pairing, as well as on the penalty kill, while Pelech and Ryan Pulock rest up for another long shift.

After being acquired ahead of last season’s deadline, Palmieri put up four points (two goals, two assists) in 17 games down the stretch with New York after amassing 8-9–17 totals with the Devils in 34 games prior in 2020-21.

In the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, however, Palmieri found his scoring touch– notching seven goals and two assists (nine points) in 19 games en route to being eliminated by the Tampa Bay Lightning in seven games in the 2021 Stanley Cup Semifinal.

Lamoriello added more veterans to an already veteran infused lineup while presumably remaining tight against the salary cap.

Though New York had a bit of a bumpy ending to the regular season last year, they peaked at the right time to be one goal away from the franchise’s first Stanley Cup Final appearance since 1984.

As an organization that’s been on the rise with Trotz behind the bench, the Islanders are sure to be out with something to prove in the league’s return to a normal 82-game schedule format and everything.

Pelech’s eight-year extension worth $5.750 million per season at 27-years-old is Lamoriello’s greatest gift thus far to New York’s core as a good team friendly contract as Pulock enters a contract year in 2021-22 and Mathew Barzal carries two remaining years on his current deal.

Love him or hate him, Lamoriello also did a decent job keeping Casey Cizikas in line with more conventional thinking for a top-nine forward on a new six-year deal worth $2.500 million per season compared to his last contract, which was a five-year deal with a $3.350 million cap hit.

Generally speaking, first line forwards should be paid around $9.000 million, second liners between $4.000 to $6.000 million with third liners earning roughly $1.000 to $4.000 million and fourth liners taking home a cap hit between league minimum and $2.000 million per year at most.

Follow that logic and you’ll be able to spread some wealth around on short-term contracts among your replacement level players or sign long term deals at a decent cap hit that’s expendable if you run into performance issues or cap related casualties down the road.

Meanwhile, because of Lamoriello’s masterclass in contract negotiations this summer, Anthony Beauvillier got a three-year bridge deal at $4.150 million per season and Ilya Sorokin earned a three-year extension worth $4.000 million per season– keeping the Islanders competitive as Cup contenders for at least the next few years while balancing the growth and development of their core as they age into their prime.

Of course, everything comes with a price as Lamoriello shipped out Nick Leddy to the Detroit Red Wings in a trade on July 16th for Richard Panik and a 2021 2nd round pick (originally from Edmonton, via Detroit- 52nd overall, Aatu Raty).

Chara is 14 years Leddy’s senior, but Leddy’s $5.500 million cap hit was a roadblock in keeping the bulk of New York’s core together.

To save some additional funds for redistribution this summer, the Islanders dealt Andrew Ladd, a 2021 2nd round pick (originally from Colorado via the Islanders, 60th overall- Janis Jerome Moser), as well as a conditional 2022 2nd round pick and a conditional 2023 3rd round pick to the Arizona Coyotes for future considerations.

Arizona took on Ladd’s entire $5.500 million cap hit through the 2022-23 season.

Offseason Grade: B

For what needed to be done to protect the integrity of the Islanders as a Cup contender in the next few seasons (at least), Lamoriello made proper efforts to add without subtracting, while balancing the books in an efficient manner.

There’s a lot to like about the respectable bridge contracts, but Pelech’s eight-year extension is a home run for what is otherwise New York’s cornerstone on defense with Pulock due for a bit of a pay raise next summer.

That said, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Isles off their game by just a little as the long runs into the third round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2020 and 2021 take a toll on a team in every sense of the imagination.

New York won’t need to hit “reset”, but rather “refresh” as they should comfortably reach the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but as for how far they go depends on if they can stay healthy and focused– especially with UBS Arena set to open in November, thereby giving the Islanders a long 13-game road streak to start the 2021-22 regular season.

If they don’t win it all in 2022, they should be primed for a bounce-back in 2023, with their best chance at a Cup since their dynasty in the 1980s.

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NHL Nick's Net

Where do the 2020-21 Boston Bruins go from here?

To some, the 2020-21 Boston Bruins season ended in disappointment. To others, it made sense. Not for the reasons that you’re probably thinking.

No, there’s no arguments to be made around here regarding the departures of Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug from 2019-20 to 2020-21, though there certainly is something to be said about what moves were made (or not made) since then.

Chara made his own decision to leave and pursue a challenge that was unique to his own career, while Krug and the Bruins just… …never really saw eye-to-eye in the end.

Boston’s General Manager, Don Sweeney, has a long offseason ahead with some tough decisions regarding his roster composition— the draft, free agency, possible trades and the looming Seattle Kraken expansion draft (not necessarily in that order).

For starters, it’d be unwise for the Bruins to trade their 2021 1st round pick unless it’s one of those “home run” deals where you’ve all but assured yourself of a slam dunk that’ll take you all the way to the 2022 Stanley Cup Final.

Then again, the Colorado Avalanche were built to be a super team and they were eliminated in the same Second Round that Boston was ousted from this year. Hockey is weird.

Let’s not focus on Seattle too much just yet and sort through just about every player that hit the ice in a Bruins uniform this season instead.

EDITOR’S NOTE: “Control” or “Command” “F”, then type your favorite player’s name is your best friend here. It’s a long read, folks.

Forward Line 1

BRAD MARCHAND (29-40—69 totals in 53 games)

Marchand remains under contract through the 2024-25 season and is currently 33-years-old which means he’s only just entering the other side of his prime.

That said, he’s still in his prime and he’s expressed his desire to remain a Bruin for a long time (that was a given when he signed his current contract as an eight-year extension on Sept. 26, 2016, well ahead of when he would’ve reached free agency on July 1, 2017).

PATRICE BERGERON (23-25—48 totals in 54 games)

Along with Marchand, the Bruins captain has expressed to B’s President, Cam Neely, that he would like to go for another Cup with his current team. That doesn’t necessarily rule out whether or not Bergeron would stick around for a rebuild, but it also means that Boston can’t rebuild until Bergeron says so, basically.

He’s earned that right since being drafted by the team in the 2nd round (45th overall) in 2003, and making the roster out of training camp as an 18-year-old for the 2003-04 season— going on to spend the last 17 NHL seasons with Boston.

Bergeron’s entering the final year of his current contract, which means he’ll be a pending-unrestricted free agent after the 2021-22 season. He’ll also be 36-years-old, so if Jack Studnicka and/or John Beecher aren’t already being trained to become the next first line center sooner rather than later, then that’s going to be something Sweeney will need to fix.

Bergeron has the makeup of a lifetime Bruin, but even Bobby Orr left via free agency (though Alan Eagleson had more to do with that) and Boston was forced to trade Ray Bourque after not being able to win the Cup with him over a 20-year span (regardless of your views on Harry Sinden and penny-pinching).

At least Bergeron already has a 2011 Stanley Cup ring with the Bruins to his name, but it wouldn’t be crazy to see him take one or two more chances elsewhere if things head south.

DAVID PASTRNAK (20-28—48 totals in 48 games)

Pastrnak had a late start to the already months behind 2020-21 league calendar as he recovered from offseason surgery. At times he appeared at the top of his game, but there were a few cold streaks here and there— whether it was injury related or not, sometimes a season just goes like that.

Though he was on pace for 29 goals in a regular 82-game schedule—down from 48 goals in 70 games in a pandemic shortened 2019-20 season, well, again none of that really matters. He was on pace for 56 goals last season at the time the league shut down due to the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 pandemic declaration and he’s probably on pace for almost 1,000,000 goals in his career.

Pastrnak is one of two or three biggest components in Boston’s new core (the others being Charlie McAvoy and, if you will, Jeremy Swayman) and has two more years left on his current contract with a $6.667 million cap hit through 2022-23.

Forward Line 2

TAYLOR HALL (10-23—33 totals in 53 games)

Hall arrived via a trade with the Buffalo Sabres with Curtis Lazar in tow in exchange for Anders Bjork and a 2021 2nd round pick, which is one of the best ways to get good value in a deal involving a 1st overall pick (Hall in 2010).

The fact that Hall only had two goals in 37 games with the Sabres is certainly a wild one, but at least he had 17 assists to make up for things, right?

With the exception of his Hart Memorial Trophy winning 93-point performance in 2017-18, Hall has never reached the 30-goal plateau (he had 39 in 2017-18) and plays with a little bit more of a playmaker style to what some might consider a power forward frame or whatever.

He’s got speed, hands and great vision, but he won’t score 50 goals. That’s fine.

He’s still one of the league’s best top-six forwards and pairing him on a line with David Krejci is almost certainly a no brainer. Give him the best fit to excel and it’s no wonder why Hall had 8-6—14 totals in 16 games with the Bruins after the trade.

Buffalo retained 50% of Hall’s salary in the deal, which was great for Boston as he only had a one-year, $8.000 million contract in the first place, so it was much easier to fit $4.000 million under the cap than the full value the Sabres paid for his services back in last October during free agency.

Boston hasn’t had a suitable winger on their second line since the days of, well, Milan Lucic basically.

Bringing Hall back is a top priority for Sweeney this offseason and should get done on a three or four-year deal worth about $6.000 million per season.

DAVID KREJCI (8-36—44 totals in 51 games)

Krejci has previously indicated a desire to finish his professional playing days back home in Czechia and was asked again at the end of season press conference about his desires to return Czech Republic and couldn’t provide a response— citing that he hasn’t even been able to answer his own parents on that question.

Would he like to get another Cup ring? Probably.

Would he also like to play back in his native country for at least a couple of seasons so his children can learn Czech and be able to communicate with their grandparents? Also, probably.

Krejci’s $7.250 million cap hit is expiring this offseason as the 35-year-old will become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career.

In 962 career NHL games— all with Boston— since making his league debut in the 2006-07 season, he’s amassed 215-515—730 totals, while spending five out of the last six seasons without a winger that best fits his “pass first” playmaking abilities.

Taylor Hall is destined to re-sign with the Bruins as they have about $27 million in cap space this summer.

If the B’s find a solution on the right wing of the second line or simply continue to operate with Craig Smith as such, then Krejci should want to get a full season out of it just to say that he tried.

Realistically, Krejci could be one of those players that retires from the game at 38 or 39, which might sound early for some, but let’s remember that he’s already been part of 15 NHL seasons— he’s played a lot longer than the average NHL career (about three times longer, in fact).

The best solution for Boston as they transition from Patrice Bergeron and Krejci down the middle in the top-six to Jack Studnicka, Charlie Coyle, John Beecher or whoever else is in the fold— might be to sign Krejci to a one-year deal and give him time for at least two seasons afterwards back in the Czech Republic.

CRAIG SMITH (13-19—32 totals in 54 games)

Smith was highly touted as a decent signing in free agency last offseason and performed as expected for Boston in 2020-21. Though he might’ve made the roster deeper as a whole spending more time on the third line, Smith elevated his game with Ondrej Kase out for most of the season.

He was on pace for 47 points in a regular 82-game schedule, which would’ve been his best performance since he had 51 points in 79 games with the Nashville Predators in 2017-18.

With two years left on his contract at $3.100 million per season, Smith is well worth every penny thus far.

Forward Line 3

JAKE DeBRUSK (5-9—14 totals in 41 games)

There’s no way around it, but DeBrusk had a disappointing season in 2020-21.

Whether you’re on the fence about criticizing his performance given the ongoing pandemic and league protocol related restrictions in relation to how that affects a player’s mindset or one of those people that calls in to a show to complain about nonsense someone made up, DeBrusk was demoted to the fourth line and spent some nights as a healthy scratch.

He established a career-high 27 goals in his second season over 68 games in 2018-19, despite missing some games due to injuries that season and has more offsensive skill to his game and a speed component that his father, Louie, perhaps didn’t have in his NHL playing days.

Where Jake might lack in physicality, he makes up for in his scoring prowess, ability to move the puck and line chemistry.

Yes, there are times when it would seem that he needs to be reminded of forechecking and staying on an opponent, but he’s also provided a versatility along the left side or rarely on his opposite wing when the Bruins have struggled with bottom-six depth over the season.

Things may be coming to a crescendo with Boston, however, given the opportunity to sell before things continue on a downward spiral, even though his $3.675 million cap hit through next season is pretty affordable for what— in the best of times— is a top-nine forward.

The chance to avoid retaining salary is now, rather than later as the 2022 trade deadline approaches and if there’s a team out there that wants to prioritize DeBrusk in their plans, they may very well like that fact that he’s only 24-years-old and will be a pending-restricted free agent at season’s end in 2021-22.

For Boston, he’s a cheaper alternative to the one-dimensional style of Mike Hoffman when he’s on his game and producing goals.

But he’s also trade bait this offseason for the B’s, since a change of scenery might just help him find solid ground in things that bigger than just the game and net the Bruins the depth they badly needed in the playoffs.

NICK RITCHIE (15-11—26 totals in 56 games)

Ritchie amassed a career-high 15 goals in his first full season with the Bruins. That would’ve been phenomenal if he did all from the fourth line, but also highly unrealistic even for the new-age “roll four lines” style of the contemporary NHL.

He looked a lot better overall, though, than when Boston traded Danton Heinen for him on Feb. 24, 2020.

It’s going to be hard to try to finagle a fair contract, though, given his offensive outburst and pending-RFA status coming off of a previous deal where he had a cap hit of about $1.499 million.

Paying Ritchie $3.000 million a year and expecting him to reach almost 20 goals would be very unwise and should earn comparisons to the previous GM in Boston.

If he stays or goes, he’s earned another look in a Bruins uniform— just for the right price, in the right role and as long as he doesn’t stray too far from whatever worked this season (again, namely playing well beyond his expectations alongside David Krejci out of necessity until Taylor Hall was acquired, so that’s unrealistic if Hall and Krejci are re-signed).

If nothing else can be done in free agency regarding the third line (Blake Coleman would be great) and the fourth line is gutted, then Ritchie deserves another “prove it” contract in Boston.

CHARLIE COYLE (6-10—16 totals in 51 games)

In 2015-16, Coyle broke the 40-point plateau with 21-21—42 totals in 82 games with the Minnesota Wild. The following season, Coyle set career-highs in assists (38) and points (56) in 82 games with the Wild.

He’s averaged about 33 points per season over 621 games in his nine-year NHL career between Minnesota and Boston.

Had 2020-21 been a regular 82-game schedule, Coyle would’ve been on pace for 23 points. Instead, he notched 16 points in 51 games— missing some time due to a stint on the league’s COVID protocol list and due to injury— over the course of the league’s 56-game season in light of the ongoing pandemic.

Like most people, Coyle would probably like to forget the last year.

Especially if you were hoping for him to start making the transition from being the third line center to a possible short-term replacement for David Krejci if Krejci doesn’t return.

One season is not worth overreacting to, but it also might not be considered an overreaction if you find the right way to be proactive. Just don’t mess up either way.

That said, Coyle usually bounces back from a “down” (in reality, just average) year. His $5.250 million cap hit through 2025-26 is the least of Boston’s worries.

Sure, you’d like to see more from him in goal production, but the Bruins had bigger problems than just one player having an off year. He’s fine, but doesn’t have as much of a leash as he might have had coming into 2020-21.

It’s also possible that fans and media members alike are overvaluing someone that’s always been on the cusp of reaching top-six status, but otherwise has only been good in a third line role.

As always, it wouldn’t be a bad thing to be proven wrong.

ONDREJ KASE (0-0—0 totals in 3 games)

Kase sustained an upper body injury (concussion) in the second game of the season on Jan. 16th and played in part of one more game after that in the last week of the regular season on May 10th.

In nine games with the Bruins, he’s had one point and missed 55 games during his Boston tenure— though the majority of that lost time was in this season alone.

That said, Kase’s got bigger things to think about— like the rest of his life, for example. Given his concussion history, it might mean shutting things down for a while, if not possibly for good.

Boston could bring him back on a cheap contract and place him on long term injured reserve if necessary. At best, Kase recovers and is signed—by the Bruins or not— and goes on to have a lengthy career in the NHL.

Only Kase will be able to tell when his body is ready, if it’s ever ready again. In any case, it’s an unfortunate situation for everyone involved in the hard decisions that are to be made.

KARSON KUHLMAN (2-0—2 totals in 20 games)

In 56 career NHL games, Kuhlman’s had 6-7—13 totals so far. He made his league debut in the 2018-19 season and put up five points (three goals, two assists) in 11 games in what looked like it was going to be a fast start for the prolific college scorer.

He then had 1-5—6 totals in 25 games in the 2019-20 season while bouncing around and getting some work with the Providence Bruins (AHL) before recording two goals in 20 games with Boston after a late start to the 2020-21 season due to being in COVID protocol as the short training camp in January got underway.

Kuhlman’s been able to hold his own with his speed among the bottom-six forwards, though with Blake Coleman potentially being available in free agency, the Bruins would have better options to pursue moving forward for the time being.

While Boston remains in “win now” mode, they can gently guide Kuhlman’s NHL career into… …whatever it may be at this point. Sure, defenders and goaltenders take a little bit longer to develop, but whether you think Kuhlman’s gotten enough ice time or too little at the NHL level it seems there’s been a stalling point.

Either his role will evolve as a third or fourth line regular for 2021-22 or he’ll be the next young player out of college on his way out a la Ryan Donato, Danton Heinen and Anders Bjork in recent years, which means something’s not clicking among the B’s scouting department.

All of them still have potential and could become better players, but they’d be doing so after moving on from your club. If your deals don’t land a Cup, then that’s just poor asset management as a result of bad player scouting and development.

Forward Line 4

SEAN KURALY (4-5—9 totals in 47 games)

Kuraly was on pace for 13 points in a regular 82-game season, which would’ve been his worst performance out of his four full seasons at the NHL level. That’s a down year for sure— even for nine points in 47 games in a 56-game schedule— but is it really that bad?

While he’s expected to be a 20-point scorer as an effective fourth line center and penalty killer (with the chance that he might crack the top-nine forward lineup), scoring primarily from the fourth line isn’t a good strategy to win hockey games in 2021.

That’s not to say that the Bruins didn’t have scoring problems as a whole in a league where rolling four lines is vital, though.

Yes, Kuraly’s 2020-21 season was not great— especially in a contract year, do you think he’ll make another $1.275 million cap hit in Boston? But, he’s still a durable 28-year-old NHLer that should bounce back with a regular schedule.

It might be time to move on, though it wouldn’t be surprising if he’s kept inhouse as an affordable utility player.

Maybe he’s the next Austin Czarnik and simply has to move on elsewhere.

Nothing would be surprising at this point. The Bruins need to reevaluate their bottom-six and they know it’ll mean letting go of some guys that have been around for at least a few seasons.

If you’re going to hold Kuraly to Jake DeBrusk or Charlie Coyle-levels of expectations, well, it might be time to reevaluate your own opinion really quick. At least two of those players should be solid top-nine forward options for any NHL club and scoring at least 15 goals and 30-40 points a season in a third line role.

Kuraly, on the other hand, should be closer to 20 points (at best) no matter how it comes.

TRENT FREDERIC (4-1—5 totals in 42 games)

It’s fine to think that Frederic should’ve been given more games.

It’s crazy, however, to think that Frederic was going to be the determining factor— especially if that was your only lineup change down the stretch.

He’s a young player with an edge, so he’s susceptible to taking unnecessary penalties, plus it’s always easier to have a learning experience conversation with a younger player craving to become an NHL regular than an older veteran that might not take being forced to sit out too well.

“But they’re professional players! They should know it’s for the common good— the benefit of the team!”

Yes, but how would you like it if a younger replacement was slotted into your job at your office and you were forced to watch and couldn’t help whoever you enjoyed working with from about nine floors above?

Doesn’t sound as enticing now, doesn’t it?

That’s not to say you shouldn’t play younger players in a youth driven league, but Boston’s bottom-six wasn’t filled with old players as the season came to an end.

It was filled with players that couldn’t score and struggled to get the puck out of their own zone.

Frederic has the makings of a power forward, but he was on pace for about six goals in a regular 82-game schedule. It’s hard to argue whether his 4-1—5 totals in 42 games look better or worse than Chris Wagner’s 2-3—5 totals in 41 games— after all, they each had five points.

If you like Frederic because he fights, makes hits and puts the puck in the net occasionally like what Milan Lucic used to do in a Bruins uniform, that’s fine, but don’t overvalue the reality that’s in front of you.

Frederic is young, though, so he’s developing and some mistakes are bound to be overlooked by the fanbase for a year or two— at least until someone in the balcony demands he be placed on the first line, then wonders why he doesn’t have, like, 50 goals out of nowhere by that point.

His two-year extension at $1.050 million per season through the 2022-23 league calendar is just fine. He’ll be an NHL regular in 2021-22, which means he’s in control of his own destiny at this point.

ANTON BLIDH (1-0—1 totals in 10 games)

Blidh’s sticking around with the organization on a one-year, two-way contract worth the league minimum $750,000. That guy really likes I-95, huh?

At 26-years-old, there’s not much more to the ceiling for Blidh’s potential, but it is nice to have someone that’s as dedicated as Trent Whitfield was as a player to the club (and still is as a coach in Providence).

As a utility guy in Boston, Blidh fits the role well. In a season where taxi squads were a thing, there really wasn’t anyone better as a durable “emergency use only” player. Here’s hoping things continue to go up for him with the team in whatever role he’s in for 2021-22.

CAMERON HUGHES (0-0—0 totals in 1 game)

In parts of four seasons with the Providence Bruins since making his professional debut at the tail end of the 2017-18 season, Hughes has been getting better each year in one way or another.

In 25 games with Providence in 2020-21, he had 21 points (five goals, 16 assists). He’ll be someone to watch in training camp in September as a potential option for the fourth line in some capacity.

Hughes is sure to get more than just the honorary treatment as a fill-in for the last game of the regular season with the Boston regulars having already clinched a playoff spot and earning a night off to rest for the playoffs.

This coming season is a contract year for him and could be his big step up to the major league as the Bruins deal with building the foundation for eventual first and second line centers.

CURTIS LAZAR (7-6—13 totals in 50 games)

Acquired ahead of the trade deadline with Taylor Hall for Anders Bjork and a 2nd round pick in 2021, Lazar had four points (two goals, two assists) in 17 games with Boston after he departed the Buffalo Sabres.

The 26-year-old provides speed and an influx of determination to the fourth line as someone that’s fought for just about every second of his NHL career.

No, not necessarily speaking with the fisticuffs here, but since his first two seasons in the league with the Ottawa Senators in 2014-15 and 2015-16, he’s never really been given a fair shake at a full season until he played in 50 games with the Sabres and Bruins this season.

He’s bounced from the Sens to the Calgary Flames, Buffalo and now Boston, but it looks like the B’s just might have a home for Lazar.

His numbers reflect that of a true fourth liner, so don’t expect too much, but he was on pace for 19 points in 2020-21 if it had been a regular 82-game season.

Lazar’s entering a contract year in 2021-22 with an $800,000 cap hit and there’s reason to believe he’ll do everything he can to prove his worth to Boston.

Assembling a roster isn’t so much about having all the best players and young, enticing prospects, so much as it is about having the right players.

The 2011 Stanley Cup champion Bruins had Gregory Campbell, Daniel Paille and Shawn Thornton on the fourth line and— though the league was different 10 years ago— remember what it was like going into the 2010-11 season wondering who the hell this Campbell guy from the Florida Panthers was as an almost afterthought in the Dennis Wideman for Nathan Horton and Campbell trade.

Now come back to reality and remind yourself that the 2021-22 Bruins are not going to be Stanley Cup contenders, but anything can happen if you make the playoffs and play a Conference Finals round that lasts longer than the other one.

JACK STUDNICKA (1-2—3 totals in 20 games)

Well, Studnicka didn’t really pan out this season like some had hoped, but the 21-year-old is only entering his fifth professional season after being drafted in the 2nd round (53rd overall) by Boston in 2017.

Three points in 20 games just seems like a case of bad luck given the way Studnicka plays with control in his game. Seven points in 11 games with Providence this season— despite all of them coming in the form of assists— is promising considering what he had to go through being in and out of Boston’s lineup, being on the taxi squad and dealing with the exceptionally condense AHL season in both division travel and the varying schedule itself from team to team.

The pandemic has been detrimental to the development of young players across the board, but it doesn’t mean that some of these players won’t go on to be stars in their own right.

Studnicka may have his name penciled on the roster for 2021-22, but don’t be surprised if he needs a little fine tuning in Providence for another year.

GREG McKEGG (1-0—1 totals in 5 games)

McKegg is probably gone in the offseason, but he served well as a utility player for Boston and even had a pair of assists in two games with Providence at one point in the 2020-21 season. His five appearances for the B’s this season were the fewest games he played in a season since his early days with the Toronto Maple Leafs when he played in three games as a 22-year-old in 2014-15.

Now 29, McKegg finds himself in the difficult position of being an NHL journeyman doomed to a fourth line role if he can find one, being a top AHL forward on the verge of either sticking  to it or retiring or he could just sign overseas for more money, probably.

CHRIS WAGNER (2-3—5 totals in 41 games)

Wagner was on pace for seven points if the 2020-21 season was a regular 82-game schedule.

That’s right. Seven.

He had a career-high 19 points in 76 games with Boston in 2018-19, when the Bruins went all the way to the Stanley Cup Final on the backs of tremendous bottom-six scoring depth—considering Wagner was responsible for 12 goals that season.

Since then he had 10 points in 67 games in 2019-20 and, well, the five points that he had in 41 games for Boston in 2020-21.

Injuries and the insurmountable expectations placed upon a local kid playing for the local team (as the unofficial mayor of Walpole), well, this season left much to be desired— especially considering it was the first year of his three-year extension worth $1.350 million per season. Oops.

If he bounces back, great! If he doesn’t, then the writing is on the wall and you already have to rework the fourth line anyway, so…

That said, Wagner admitted to suffering from some previously unexperienced anxiety related to the pandemic and the league’s COVID-19 protocols that limited teammate interaction with the cities they traveled to, as well as with each other, to try to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Hopefully the 2021-22 season provides a sense of normalcy that’ll allow him to get back on his game— even if he is limited in the number of games played, which he probably should be at this point.

OSKAR STEEN (0-0—0 totals in 3 games)

One of the bright spots for the Bruins this season was Steen’s NHL debut. Though he didn’t register anything on the scoresheet and hasn’t in his first three career NHL games, Steen’s provided a spark and some physicality despite his 5-foot-9, 188-pound frame.

Brad Marchand once went 20 games without scoring a goal in a season back when he made his league debut in the 2009-10 season. He’s also 5-foot-9 and about seven pounds lighter than Steen.

Not trying to make comparisons here that might otherwise set unrealistic expectations, but Steen certainly could see more ice time in the 2021-22 season among Boston’s bottom-six if they’re trying to make any kinds of repairs to the team’s depth from within.

ZACH SENYSHYN (0-0—0 totals in 8 games)

Look, Senyshyn only played in eight games this season, but in 14 career NHL games spanning parts of three seasons, he has 1-2—3 totals. Zach Hamill had four points (all assists) in 20 games from when he made his league debut in the 2009-10 season through the 2011-12 season with Boston.

That’s what we’re looking at here.

The pending-RFA could be tendered a qualifying offer, could have his negotiating rights traded or could just be off into the unknown.

In 42 games with Providence in 2019-20, he had 7-9—16 totals (or about .381 points per game). In 18 games with the P-Bruins in 2020-21, he wore an “A” on the front of his sweater and had 7-6—13 totals (about .722 points per game).

He had a career-high 26 points (12 goals, 14 assists) in 66 games with Providence in his first full professional season in 2017-18.

Whether he’s back among the Bruins organization next season depends on how patient both the club and the player are with each other.

At 24-years-old, he could just be a late bloomer. He could also just need a change of scenery. Or he could be like Hamill. Those are the possibilities at this point.

Can his hot hands in Providence last season continue moving forward?

Defensive Pairing 1

MATT GRZELCYK (5-15—20 totals in 37 games)

Despite injuries limiting Grzelcyk to 37 games in 2020-21, he was on pace for 29 points if the season had been a regular 82-game schedule, so 20 points in 37 games in an already condensed 56-game season is actually not that bad, considering the Bruins were looking for someone to step up and replace Torey Krug’s stature as an offensive defender from the point.

Grzelcyk had five goals, while Krug had two this season. Grzelcyk had 20 points in 37 games (.541 points per game), while Krug had 32 points in 51 games (.627 points per game).

One player is just a little bit better on the power play and it’s Krug, which is to be expected given his 10 years in the NHL at this point to Grzelcyk’s five-year career thus far.

Sure, Grzelcyk’s defensive lapses are noticeable at times, but then again, what defender isn’t going to standout when a goal against is scored.

That’s not to say that Boston can’t do better with the addition of a solidified left shot blue liner for the first pairing, but Grzelcyk gets a lot blame for something that is largely mismanagement.

Again, not to go too deep into the “should’ve kept the band together” argument, but the Bruins at least should’ve had a backup plan that wasn’t just “play the kids and hope for the best”— not while they’re trying to win one more Cup with their old core, at least.

More on that in a minute.

CHARLIE McAVOY (5-25—30 totals in 51 games)

McAvoy is a stud. He’s the new core to build around on the back end and he had a great season all things considered.

He’s also on the verge of a breakout it seems, but when remains to be seen. That said, you want him on your team for the ride. Imagine if the Bruins dealt Ray Bourque, like, 20 years before they actually traded Bourque to the Colorado Avalanche in 2000. Yeah, see, that would’ve been one of the franchise’s worst mistakes in this hypothetical situation.

When McAvoy breaks out, he’ll get Norris Trophy attention. Until then, he’s considered to be a star in Boston, but otherwise just a really good defender that’s young— even as a 23-year-old with four seasons under his belt— and has time to learn to become a master.

Enough said.

Defensive Pairing 2

MIKE REILLY (0-27—27 totals in 55 games)

If Alec Martinez is too costly and Jamie Oleksiak or Ryan Suter aren’t options, then it’s fine to stick with Reilly on Boston’s defense.

No, he probably shouldn’t be on the second pairing, but a career-year and the way he moves the puck up through the neutral zone will draw some attention to giving him more ice time and seeing what he can handle.

In a perfect world, nobody gets injured and the Bruins sign a guy like Suter or whoever to cement the left side with Grzelcyk, some guy and Reilly.

It wouldn’t be like, say, the Tampa Bay Lightning’s defense, but it would be more competitive than when all of your defenders are injured and you’re left reaching for Jack Ahcan or Urho Vaakanainen a bit too soon (not that they’re bad players, for the record).

BRANDON CARLO (3-1—4 totals in 27 games)

Carlo was limited to 27 games due to multiple injuries and had four points this season before his postseason run was cut short by yet another concussion. His new six-year extension with Boston carries a $4.100 million cap hit which is both 1) a steal if he’s healthy and remains a solid shutdown defender on the second pairing and 2) a bit of an overpay if he can’t play.

The good news, however, is that long term injured reserve exists for a reason, so, you know, just legally circumvent the salary cap if you have to.

Here’s hoping his traumatic brain injury days are behind him.

Defensive Pairing 3

JEREMY LAUZON (1-7—8 totals in 41 games)

It’s honestly kind of surprising that Lauzon only had a goal this season. He’s managed to hit the back of the net in each of the parts of three seasons that he’s played for Boston, but he’s yet to record two goals in one league calendar year.

At 24-years-old, he’s the same age as Brandon Carlo, though Carlo is a late 1996 birthday, whereas Lauzon is an early 1997 Gen-Zer or whatever.

If he’s not taken by the Seattle Kraken at the 2021 Expansion Draft, then that’s a good thing. One mistake alone by Lauzon didn’t cost Boston their Second Round series against the New York Islanders and he seems to be the kind of player that will learn quickly and correct things in-game just by continuing to play.

Lauzon doesn’t get disgruntled and he doesn’t give up. Sure, he might be battling his own youth and inexperience at times, but he likes to hit and play a bit of a physical game, which is in demand for Boston’s defense.

The Bruins should try to coerce Seattle to take someone that might otherwise be hoping for a fresh change of scenery in Jakub Zboril.

KEVAN MILLER (1-3—4 totals in 28 games)

After numerous knee injuries, surgeries, rehab and more, a concussion in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs was the final blow for the 33-year-old Miller as he announced his retirement on Wednesday.

Though he was signed to a one-year, $1.250 million contract last offseason, the Bruins could’ve used that money elsewhere on, say, a different defender.

Instead, Brandon Carlo now gets Miller’s cap hit added on to his freshly expired $2.850 million AAV contract for Carlo’s new six-year, $24.6 million deal.

Whereas last season anyone else could’ve been signed for that price or less and not have missed half of the season, this season with the flat cap and everything, Boston is destined to make a trade if they’re able to re-sign some of their pending-UFAs in Taylor Hall, David Krejci and others before assessing what else needs to be done.

CONNOR CLIFTON (1-6—7 totals in 44 games)

Clifton set career-highs in assists (six) and points (seven), while playing in a career-high 44 games in the 2020-21 season. As he came into the league, Clifton was a bit more of a run of the mill seventh defender, but he’s played well enough to earn a shot at being on the last pairing full-time.

At 5-foot-11, 175-pounds, Clifton still plays hard and bangs bodies with ease.

With a $1.000 million cap hit through the 2022-23 season, he’s the perfect low-cost, high-reward player to have in the toolbox as Boston continues to overhaul their blue line.

JARRED TINORDI (0-1—1 totals in 21 games)

Claimed off waivers during the season, Tinordi had one assist in 14 games with Boston as a depth defender. He’s got a big frame at 6-foot-6, 205-pounds and can fight when necessary, so he’ll pack an extra punch when the team needs a physical boost or someone to provide a spark.

He’ll be a pending-UFA though and with Steven Kampfer heading off to the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), it’d make sense to keep Tinordi around on another league minimum contract as the new seventh defender.

JAKUB ZBORIL (0-9—9 totals in 44 games)

Zboril can move the puck. How well can he do that? Depends on who you ask.

He’s been frustrated by the fact that he’s not yet set in stone on Boston’s roster full-time, was given that chance in the 2020-21 season and really didn’t live up to expectations.

Nine assists are fine for defender that was projected to be on the bottom pairing for most of the year, but Zboril couldn’t play up the lineup when teammates went down with injuries and was exposed as a young, inexperienced, blue liner time and time again.

It’d probably take a lot of convincing for Seattle to see something in him rather than a couple other potential options from the Bruins at the expansion draft, but if Boston somehow lost Zboril for nothing to the Kraken, they wouldn’t be losing too much.

Sure, Zboril could go on to develop into a fine defender for Seattle, but that’s just it. Maybe it’s time for a change of scenery.

Defenders take a few extra years to develop sometimes, but unless everyone understands that rushing things right now is unwise or that there’s a lot of work to be done, then it’s time to do yourself a favor and stop the bleeding.

JOHN MOORE (0-2—2 totals in 5 games)

Moore has two more years remaining on his five-year contract worth $2.750 million per season and appeared in five games in 2020-21 in between some pretty major season ending injuries.

Is he the new Kevan Miller, you ask? Probably.

Moore’s latest surgery back in March was a hip arthroscopy and labral repair and will keep him out until about time for training camp in September at the earliest, but if he’s not ready to go then at least there’s the long-term injured reserve.

Unless you find a trading partner to take on his cap hit.

The Moore experiment wasn’t necessarily a failure, but it also hasn’t really worked out so far.

Was it a long contract to sign at the time? Yes, but the cap hit is low enough to be manageable in the event that, well, this happens.

Now on the wrong side of 30, Moore will be turning 31 in November and if his body can’t take what’s being thrown at him, he’ll be on his way out of the league sooner rather than later.

If the Bruins don’t do anything substantial to their defense and Moore can return to full health, he’s not a bad bottom-pairing solution to rotate among the youth, but that’s also the problem facing Boston.

They have too many bottom-pairing defenders with little to no upside and not enough jobs for each of them.

STEVEN KAMPFER (2-3—5 totals in 20 games)

Kampfer contributed a lot this season in a limited role as a seventh defender that ended up playing almost half the season and bounced back and forth between Providence and Boston on a few occasions.

Despite making his league debut in his first stint with the Bruins during the 2010-11 season, Kampfer never really made a full-time impact anywhere he went in the NHL, whether it was with the B’s, Minnesota Wild, Florida Panthers, New York Rangers and Bruins again.

Now, he’s got a chance to make more money playing in the KHL and could flourish given his NHL development over his nine-year NHL career.

JACK AHCAN (0-0—0 totals in 3 games)

Ahcan made his NHL debut this season with Boston and looked fine. Probably not ready for a full-time role, but just fine. That’s about it on that.

URHO VAAKANAINEN (0-2—2 totals in 9 games)

Vaakanainen is only 22, so if you’re going to freak out about development of a defender taking a normal length of time that it should take, then there’s not much else to say, I guess.

He recorded his first pair of points in the NHL in nine games this season and did fine, but probably will spend more time in Providence this season.

Starting Goaltender

TUUKKA RASK (15-5-2 in 24 GP, 24 GS, 2.28 GAA, .913 SV%, 2 SO)

Rask is a pending-UFA that won’t be able to play until January at the earliest while he recovers from offseason hip surgery. As one of the greatest goaltenders in league history— statistically speaking— as well as one of the best Finnish-born netminders, there will certainly be a lot of teams interested in his services regardless of when he can get back into the crease for the 2021-22 season.

But for Rask, there’s only one option— playing for Boston.

He’s been a Bruin ever since the Rask-for-Raycroft trade on June 24, 2006, that sent 2003-04 Calder Memorial Trophy winner, Andrew Raycroft, to the Toronto Maple Leafs for a then considered expendable goaltending prospect in Rask.

Talk about one of the best deals for Boston since the Phil Esposito trade, which also landed the Bruins Ken Hodge and Fred Stanfield for Jack Norris, Pit Martin and Gilles Marotte in return to Chicago on May 15, 1967.

Though some would consider that to be a “hockey trade”.

Rask’s indicated that he would like to be part of the transition in the crease as the B’s are expected to make Jeremy Swayman their full-time starter within the next two to three seasons (though out of necessity to start 2021-22) and he’s earned every right to wind down his career as he sees fit.

It’s Boston or bust and Rask is sure to come back for at least one more season before ultimately retiring.

Bruins GM, Don Sweeney, can take his time with a new deal for Rask— both with expansion in mind and as it relates to either starting the season on long term injured reserve or just signing No. 40 almost midway through the year.

Backup Goaltender

JEREMY SWAYMAN (7-3-0 in 10 GP, 10 GS, 1.50 GAA, .945 SV%, 2 SO)

With Tuukka Rask out until January (if he sticks around for another year in Boston), there’s good news and bad news for the Bruins in the crease.

The good news is that it looks like Swayman’s ready to start taking on a prominent role as a goaltender in the NHL.

The bad news is that it comes without Rask able to guide him as much in the first half of the season and because of the fact that Swayman’s developed into at least a surefire backup goaltender for the B’s, Jaroslav Halak is leaving in free agency to find a stable job elsewhere with another team.

Oh, plus if the defense doesn’t improve— from within or due to external influences, well…

At the very least, Boston should probably sign another goaltender to take some of the stress off of Swayman and Dan Vladar so they don’t try to rush the young phenom into too big of a role too quickly.

Philadelphia Flyers goaltender, Carter Hart’s 2020-21 season is the last thing you want to happen to Swayman, ultimately.

Third String Goaltender

JAROSLAV HALAK (9-6-4 in 19 GP, 17 GS, 2.53 GAA, .905 SV%, 2 SO)

Despite putting up a solid goals-against average for a backup goaltender in the NHL, two shutouts and winning almost ten games in a 56-game condensed season due to the ongoing pandemic, Halak was relegated to the third string goaltender role as Jeremy Swayman emerged and Tuukka Rask returned to the lineup at the end of the 2020-21 season.

Halak’s .905 save percentage was a bit low for the average backup (usually around .910) and a few of his outings didn’t do him any favors in the eyes of those that are tasked with assessing his game and figuring out whether he’s ready to go take the load off of the starter for a night.

Whether Halak ended up on Bruce Cassidy or Don Sweeney’s bad side doesn’t really matter here, though. His play was average to below-average while Swayman played lights out down the stretch.

Generally speaking, you go with the hotter goaltender more often than you don’t.

Halak’s short Bruins tenure has run its course after three seasons and though the 36-year-old didn’t win a Cup ring with Boston, he did exactly what he needed to for the organization and went above and beyond at times— winning the William M. Jennings Trophy for his second time with Rask in 2019-20.

Fourth String Goaltender

DAN VLADAR (2-2-1 in 5 GP, 5 GS, 3.40 GAA, .886 SV%, 0 SO)

Vladar and the B’s were blown out by the Washington Capitals, 8-1, in his last start of the season in his 2020-21 campaign, but otherwise looked great in his regular season debut and subsequent minutes.

Though he’s likely projected as Boston’s backup goaltender in both the immediate sense with Jeremy Swayman as the projected starter for 2021-22 while Tuukka Rask is out due to offseason surgery, Vladar has the chance to solidify himself as a capable contender for the long-term starting job in a Bruins uniform or perhaps elsewhere if it comes down to that.

Right now, though, he’ll be Boston’s protected goaltender in the Seattle Kraken expansion draft since Rask and Jaroslav Halak are pending-UFAs and Swayman isn’t eligible to be exposed.

The Bruins will have tendered a qualifying offer to Callum Booth— the long-time taxi squad practice goaltender during the 2020-21 season, though the Kraken will likely pry a defender or a forward away from the organization instead.

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NHL Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Canadiens advance to first Stanley Cup Final in 28 years

For the first time since the last time they won the Stanley Cup in 1993, the Montréal Canadiens are heading back to the Stanley Cup Final after defeating the Vegas Golden Knights, 3-2, in overtime on home ice in Game 6 at Bell Centre on Thursday night.

With the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl secured, the Canadiens have now won every trophy in National Hockey League history and join the Detroit Red Wings, Philadelphia Flyers, Chicago Blackhawks and New York Islanders as the only teams to have won both the Campbell Bowl and Prince of Wales Trophy in franchise history.

Artturi Lehkonen scored the biggest goal of his short five-year NHL career thus far a little more than 90 seconds into overtime as the Canadiens won the series 4-2 to advance to the 2021 Stanley Cup Final.

Habs netminder, Carey Price (12-5, 2.02 goals-against average, .934 save percentage in 17 games played), stopped 37 out of 39 shots faced in the win.

Robin Lehner (1-2, 3.63 goals-against average, .887 save percentage in three games played) made 29 saves on 32 shots against in the loss.

Golden Knights head coach, Peter DeBoer, fell to 12-7 when facing elimination all time in his career behind the bench of an NHL team in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Meanwhile, Montréal improved to 11-2 when scoring first this postseason and 11-0 when scoring at least two goals in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

They’re also the first Canadian NHL team in the Stanley Cup Final since the Vancouver Canucks lost to the Boston Bruins in seven games (4-3) in 2011.

Jake Evans remained out of the lineup for Montréal, while DeBoer swapped Nick Holden on his defense with Nic Hague and gave Lehner the start over Marc-Andre Fleury on Thursday.

Luke Richardson led the Canadiens behind the bench for the fourth time in the series while Dominique Ducharme remains in isolation after testing positive for COVID-19 prior to Game 3.

Vegas General Manager, Kelly McCrimmon, remains out of commission in isolation as well, having tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of Game 4.

Nicolas Roy caught Jon Merrill with a high stick and presented the Habs with the first power play of the night at 1:56 of the first period.

Montréal was unsuccessful on the ensuing skater advantage, however.

It wouldn’t take the Canadiens all night before they found a way to convert on the power play as Alex Pietrangelo presented the Habs with their second advantage of the night as a result of a roughing infraction at 12:36.

This time, Montréal used up about 90 seconds of power play time before Alec Martinez went to clear the puck out of the zone but failed as a result of his stick shattering and an errant puck landing on Shea Weber’s blade instead.

Weber (1) unloaded on an unassisted slap shot past Lehner’s blocker side while Jesperi Kotkaniemi screened the Vegas goaltender to give the Canadiens a, 1-0, lead on a power-play goal at 14:06 of the first period.

Less than a minute later, though, the Golden Knights responded and tied things up, 1-1, thanks to a shot pass from Shea Theodore that Reilly Smith (3) redirected behind Price on the low blocker side.

Theodore (9) and William Karlsson (11) tallied the assists on Smith’s goal at 14:54.

Entering the first intermission, the score was tied, 1-1, despite the Golden Knights leading in shots on goal, 10-8.

Vegas also held the advantage in blocked shots (6-5), giveaways (11-5) and faceoff win percentage (52-48), while Montréal led in takeaways (1-0) and hits (10-7).

The Canadiens were 1/2 on the power play, while the Golden Knights had yet to see time on the skater advantage after one period on Thursday.

Tyler Toffoli hooked Smith early in the middle frame and cut a rut to the box at 3:15 of the second period– presenting Vegas with their first power play of the night as a result.

The Golden Knights couldn’t convert on the ensuing advantage, however, and would go back on the penalty kill shortly after Montréal killed off Toffoli’s minor.

Vegas had too many skaters on the ice and sent Keegan Kolesar to serve the bench infraction at 5:42 of the second period.

The Canadiens failed to score on the resulting power play.

Moments later, Jeff Petry and Joel Edmundson worked to get the puck out of their own zone as Edmundson fed Cole Caufield with a lead pass through the neutral zone that Caufield deflected over Brayden McNabb’s stick while breaking into the attacking zone.

Caufield (4) drove to the net and elevated a shot high on Lehner’s glove side to put the Habs up, 2-1, midway through the second period.

Edmundson (6) and Petry (5) notched the assists on Caufield’s goal at 9:36.

Eric Staal hooked Kolesar at 11:04 of the second period and presented Vegas with their second and final power play of the evening, but the Golden Knights couldn’t muster anything on the skater advantage as the Canadiens went on to kill off their 30th consecutive infraction this postseason– extending their ongoing franchise record as a result.

Through 40 minutes of play, the Habs led, 2-1, on the scoreboard despite trailing Vegas, 22-21, in shots on goal.

Montréal actually held the advantage in shots on net in the second period alone, 13-12, and led in blocked shots (11-7), takeaways (8-2) and hits (20-19) heading into the dressing room for the second intermission.

Vegas led in giveaways (17-13) and faceoff win% (56-44) after two periods.

As there were no penalties called in the final frame of regulation, as well as in the extra frame, the Habs finished the night 1/3 on the power play, while the Golden Knights went 0/2.

Pietrangelo wired a shot on net that rebounded in and out of Price’s glove before Martinez (4) did what he does best in the postseason– score clutch goals– this time off of Price and through the five-hole to tie the game, 2-2, at 1:08 of the third period.

Pietrangelo (8) and Karlsson (12) were credited with the helpers on Martinez’ goal as both teams continued to swap chances throughout the third period.

Vegas couldn’t get anything going with their surge in momentum as Smith continued to be a prominent figure on the ice among their top-six forwards as Phillip Danault and his Canadiens teammates continued to shutdown Golden Knights captain, Mark Stone, in every way imaginable.

Stone expressed remorse to reporters after the game for failing to record a single point in the series and had 5-3–8 totals in 19 games this postseason for Vegas– down from 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) in 20 games last postseason for the Golden Knights.

The horn sounded to indicate the end of the third period and the necessity for overtime as the two teams remained tied, 2-2, after 60 minutes.

Vegas led in shots on goal, 37-31, and held a, 15-10, advantage in the third period alone.

The Golden Knights continued to lead in giveaways (25-19), hits (31-28) and faceoff win% (52-48), while the Canadiens led in blocked shots (13-12) and takeaways (11-5).

For the third time in the series, Vegas and Montréal were heading to overtime.

Though the Golden Knights got two quick shots on the board to start the extra frame, it didn’t take long before the Canadiens emerged victorious as they won a battle in their own end before sprinting down the ice, whereby Danault released a pass to Lehkonen (3) for the one-timer goal on Lehner’s short side that eliminated Vegas and sent Montréal to the Stanley Cup Final.

Danault (3) and Brendan Gallagher (3)– two of the Habs’ longest tenured players not named Price– had the assists on Lehkonen’s game-winner at 1:39 of the overtime period as the Canadiens took home a, 3-2, victory.

Vegas exited Bell Centre leading in the final shots on goal total, 39-32, including a, 2-1, advantage in overtime alone, as well as the lead in giveaways (25-21), hits (31-29) and faceoff win% (53-47).

Meanwhile, Montréal delighted their home crowd with the win, pictures with the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl and the final advantage in blocked shots (14-13) on the night.

Speaking of the trophy that’s normally been presented to the winner of the Western Conference Final (or its Campbell Conference Finals equivalent from 1982-93), with the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl now belonging to the Canadiens for the 2021 postseason, Montréal has won every trophy in league history.

As a result of the Game 6 win in overtime, the Habs improved to 5-1 past regulation this postseason, while the Golden Knights finished 2-4.

The Canadiens are 1-2 in all time Stanley Cup Playoff series’ against Tampa and 3-1 in all time postseason series’ against New York.

Montréal will face the winner of the Islanders vs. Lightning series on Monday night (June 28th) on the road in Game 1 of the 2021 Stanley Cup Final.

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NHL Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Habs victorious on the road in Game 5, can advance to the Stanley Cup Final on Thursday

The Montréal Canadiens matched a franchise record set in 1989, for the most road wins in a postseason with their seventh victory on an opponent’s ice in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs as they defeated the Vegas Golden Knights, 4-1, in Game 5 at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday.

Carey Price (11-5, 2.02 goals-against average, .933 save percentage in 16 games played) made 26 saves on 27 shots against as the Habs took a 3-2 series lead in the win.

Meanwhile, Marc-Andre Fleury (9-7, 2.04 goals-against average, .918 save percentage in 16 games played) stopped 22 out of 25 shots faced in the loss for the Golden Knights.

The Canadiens can reach the Stanley Cup Final with a win in front of their own fans on Thursday and join a short list of teams to have won both the Prince of Wales Trophy and the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl in franchise history, as only the Detroit Red Wings, Philadelphia Flyers, Chicago Blackhawks and New York Islanders have done so in National Hockey League history.

With no conferences this season due to the ongoing global pandemic restricting travel, the NHL decided to hold a Stanley Cup Semifinals round with the winner of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Islanders series taking home the Prince of Wales Trophy, while the winner of Vegas and Montréal’s best-of-seven games series would take home the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl.

The former is usually reserved for the Eastern Conference champion, while the latter is usually presented to the Western Conference champion since a Conference Finals round became a thing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 1982.

Jake Evans remained out of the lineup for the Habs, while Chandler Stephenson returned to his usual spot on the first line for Vegas after missing the last three games due to an undisclosed injury.

Golden Knights General Manager, Kelly McCrimmon, remains isolated in Montréal after testing positive for COVID-19 ahead of Game 4 on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Canadiens head coach, Dominique Ducharme, likely won’t return to the series after testing positive prior to Game 3 unless the NHL’s protocols change between now and the conclusion of his scheduled isolation.

Despite his recent offensive contributions– including the game-winning goal in overtime in Game 3– Paul Byron opened the action with a cross checking infraction at 2:05 of the first period, yielding the game’s first power play to Vegas.

The Golden Knights, however, couldn’t convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Almost midway through the opening frame, Josh Anderson fired a shot on Fleury that rebounded as Jesperi Kotkaniemi (5) crashed the net before he floated the puck into the top-right corner of the net with his backhand as the Vegas goaltender swung his paddle behind his back in desperation.

Anderson (1) and Byron (3) had the assists on Kotkaniemi’s goal on the rebound as the Canadiens pulled ahead, 1-0, at 8:45 of the first period.

Entering the first intermission, Montréal led, 1-0, on the scoreboard despite both teams managing to record six shots on goal each.

The Golden Knights held the advantage in blocked shots (4-3), takeaways (5-4), giveaways (7-1) and faceoff win percentage (73-27), while the Habs led in hits (16-10) after one period.

Vegas had the only power play in the first period and went 0/1, while Montréal was still awaiting their first skater advantage of the night heading into the middle frame.

Alex Pietrangelo caught Kotkaniemi with a high stick, but an official review determined that it was an unintentional result of a follow through– thereby negating any infraction early in the middle period.

Minutes later, Eric Staal (2) emerged fresh off the bench on a line change for a catch and release snipe over Fleury’s glove after Nick Suzuki broke up Jonathan Marchessault’s play at the other end and generated a breakout for the Habs before connecting with Staal.

Suzuki (7) and Tyler Toffoli (8) tallied the assists on Staal’s goal as Montréal extended their lead to, 2-0, at 6:32 of the second period.

The Canadiens got their first power play of the night after Nicolas Roy caught Artturi Lehkonen with a high stick at 8:33.

The Habs made relatively quick work on the resulting skater advantage as Suzuki forced a turnover, which led to Corey Perry and Cole Caufield entering the attacking zone with an almost 2-on-1 advantage.

Perry made a no-look pass to Caufield (3) for the one-time goal as Fleury stood no chance with the burst of speed approaching and shortened reaction time.

Caufield’s power-play goal made it, 3-0, for the Canadiens as Perry (6) and Suzuki (8) notched the assists at 9:49 of the second period.

Less than a minute later, the Habs were back on the power play as Lehkonen drew another penalty as Shea Theodore cross checked the Canadiens skater at 10:42.

Montréal did not convert on the resulting power play, however.

Late in the period, Shea Weber hooked Stephenson at 17:10, but the Golden Knights couldn’t convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Through 40 minutes of play, the Canadiens led, 3-0, on the scoreboard and, 17-15, in shots on goal, including an, 11-9, advantage in shots in the second period alone.

Montréal also held the advantage in hits (35-20), while Vegas led in takeaways (9-7), giveaways (10-2) and faceoff win% (57-43).

Both teams managed to have eight blocked shots each.

There were no penalties called in the final frame, as the Habs went 1/2 on the power play and the Golden Knights went 0/2 on the skater advantage on the night.

Roy won an attacking zone faceoff early in the final period as Max Pacioretty (5) fanned on his initial shot attempt before gathering his composure and sending the puck over Price’s blocker side.

Pacioretty’s goal put Vegas on the scoreboard, though they trailed, 3-1, at 4:09 of the third period, nonetheless.

Roy (5) had the only assist on Pacioretty’s first goal of the series.

With 2:53 remaining in the game, Fleury skated to the bench for an extra attacker as Peter DeBoer pulled his goaltender to rally the Golden Knights for a pair of goals, ideally.

Instead, while trying to keep the puck in the attacking zone, Vegas botched a play along the blue line whereby Toffoli was able to gather the loose puck and send it off the glass through the neutral zone.

As the puck made its way out of Montréal’s defensive zone, Suzuki (5) gathered the de facto indirect lead pass and raced to the vacant goal frame for an empty net goal to make it, 4-1, for the Canadiens.

Toffoli (9) had the only assist on Suzuki’s added insurance marker at 18:54 of the third period.

At the final horn, Montréal had won, 4-1, and taken a 3-2 series lead with the chance to advance to their first Stanley Cup Final since 1993.

Coincidentally, 1993, is also the last time the Canadiens won the Stanley Cup, defeating Wayne Gretzky’s Los Angeles Kings in five games in the process.

The Golden Knights finished the night leading in shots on goal, 27-26, including a, 12-9, advantage in the third period alone.

The Canadiens finished Game 5 with the advantage in blocked shots (18-8) and hits (44-35), while Vegas exited their own building on Tuesday leading in giveaways (14-4) and faceoff win% (58-42).

With a win in Game 6 on Thursday night in front of their own fans at Bell Centre, Montréal can become the first Canadian team to appear in the Stanley Cup Final since the Vancouver Canucks represented Canada in 2011, before losing to the Boston Bruins in seven games (4-3).

Puck drop is set for 8 p.m. ET on Thursday and viewers in the United States can tune to USA Network, while those in Canada can choose from CBC, SN or TVAS.

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NHL Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Lightning shutout Stars in Game 6, win 2nd Cup in franchise history

For the first time since 2004, the Tampa Bay Lightning are Stanley Cup champions.

Gone are the days of choking in the 2015 Final, the 2016 and 2018 Eastern Conference Final or being swept in the 2019 First Round.

Open a window– make it a championship window– and see just how long the good times will last (there’s going to be some salary cap stuff to figure out for 2020-21 and beyond, but worry about that later).

For now, raise a socially distant glass on Zoom or whatever and celebrate responsibly as the Bolts downed the Dallas Stars, 2-0, in Game 6 at Rogers Place in Edmonton to win the series 4-2 and bring the Cup back to Tampa for the second time in franchise history.

Brayden Point’s power-play goal in the first period held up to be the game-winning, Stanley Cup clinching goal as Blake Coleman added an insurance marker in the middle frame.

Victor Hedman became the second player in Lightning franchise history to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the 2020 postseason’s most valuable player.

Hedman’s also the third player from Sweden to win the Conn Smythe and the 10th different defender to win it in league history, joining Duncan Keith (2015), Scott Niedermayer (2007), Nicklas Lidstrom (2002), Scott Stevens (2000), Brian Leetch (1994), Al MacInnis (1989), Larry Robinson (1978), Bobby Orr (1970 and 1972) and Serge Savard (1969) in the process.

He also had 10 goals in the 2020 postseason, which were the most by a defender since Leetch had 11 in 23 games with the 1994 Stanley Cup champion New York Rangers.

Lightning goaltender, Andrei Vasilevskiy (18-7, 1.90 goals against average, .927 save percentage in 25 games this postseason) earned his first career Stanley Cup Playoff shutout in his 58th career postseason appearance– stopping all 22 shots faced en route to winning the Cup Monday night.

Dallas netminder, Anton Khudobin (14-10, 2.69 GAA, .917 SV% in 25 games this postseason) had 27 saves on 29 shots against (.931 SV%) in the loss.

Dallas interim head coach, Rick Bowness, didn’t change a thing from his lineup after winning in double overtime, 3-2, in Game 5 on Saturday to Monday night’s action in Game 6.

As a result, Radek Faksa, Blake Comeau, Jason Robertson, Roope Hintz, Stephen Johns, Ben Bishop, Landon Bow, Taylor Fedun, Gavin Bayreuther, Thomas Harley and Ty Dellandrea remained out of the lineup due to injury or otherwise.

Prior to Game 6 on Monday, Steven Stamkos was ruled out of the rest of the Final by the Lightning on Sunday.

Tampa’s head coach, Jon Cooper, inserted Alexander Volkov on Stamkos’ slot on the fourth line right wing (where Carter Verhaeghe played in Game 5 after Stamkos returned for Game 4 before re-aggravating an injury forced him out of the lineup).

On defense, Kevin Shattenkirk was bumped up to the first pairing with Hedman, while Jan Rutta joined the list of scratches as Zach Bogosian took over Shattenkirk’s role on the third pairing with Ryan McDonagh.

Everything else was the same for the Bolts.

Tampa’s list of scratches on Monday included Luke Schenn, Mathieu Joseph, Verhaeghe, Scott Wedgewood, Rutta, Braydon Coburn, Mitchell Stephens and Stamkos.

Early in the opening frame, Andrew Cogliano tripped up Point and was assessed a minor infraction at 6:32 of the first period.

Tampa wasn’t able to convert on their first power play opportunity of the night, but soon found themselves back on the skater advantage at 11:58, after John Klingberg tripped Volkov.

Less than a minute into the ensuing power play, Point (14) gathered his own rebound and scored on the far side while Khudobin was caught thinking the puck was trapped between his arm and his body.

Nikita Kucherov (27) and Hedman (12) tallied the assists on Point’s power-play goal at 12:23 of the first period and the Lightning led, 1-0.

The goal was Point’s fifth of the series and set a franchise record for the most goals in one postseason by a Tampa player as Point surpassed Tyler Johnson’s previous mark of 13 goals in Tampa’s 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs run, which ended in a loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games in the Stanley Cup Final that year– the most recent time the Bolts made the Final before beating Dallas in six games on Monday night.

Kucherov’s primary assist on the goal also assured him of the fifth most assists (27) in a playoff year in NHL history, trailing Wayne Gretzky (31 assists in 1988), Gretzky again (30 assists in 1985), Gretzky for a third time (29 in 1987) and Mario Lemieux (28 in 1991).

Late in the first period, Hedman interfered with Stars forward, Corey Perry, and received a minor penalty at 18:36, but Dallas’ first power play opportunity did not go well.

Through one period of action in Edmonton on Monday night, the Lightning led, 1-0, on the scoreboard and, 11-4, in shots on goal.

The Bolts also held the advantage in takeaways (1-0), hits (18-12) and faceoff win percentage (60-40).

The Stars, meanwhile, led in blocked shots (8-5) and giveaways (7-5).

Tampa was 1/2 on the power play, while Dallas was 0/1 on the skater advantage heading into the first intermission.

Almost midway through the middle frame, Coleman (5) received a pass through the high slot from Cedric Paquette and fired a one-timer past Khudobin to extend Tampa’s lead to two-goals.

Paquette (3) and Pat Maroon (5) notched the assists on the goal and the Lightning led, 2-0, at 7:01 of the second period.

About a minute later, Tampa defender, Ryan McDonagh was penalized for interference after colliding with Dallas forward, Tyler Seguin at 8:02.

Once more, however, Dallas’ power play was powerless and, in fact, cut shot when Perry bumped into Vasilevskiy yielding a penalty for goaltender interference at 9:22.

Tampa’s ensuing abbreviated power play after a little 4-on-4 action did not result in a difference on the scoreboard as both teams eventually entered their respective dressing rooms for the second intermission with the Bolts still in command, 2-0.

Through 40 minutes of play, the Lightning led in shots on goal, 21-8– including a, 10-4, advantage in the second period alone.

The Bolts also held the advantage in takeaways (3-2), hits (31-20) and faceoff win% (56-44), while the Stars led in giveaways (9-8).

Both teams had 13 blocked shots aside after two periods.

Tampa was 1/3 on the power play, while Dallas was 0/2 heading into the final frame of regulation.

Not much happened in the final period as the Stars rallied to a, 14-8, shots on net in the third period alone advantage– despite ultimately failing to score and finishing the night trailing, 29-22, in total shots on goal.

Dallas played desperate and had one final chance to cut the lead in half on the power play at 15:27 of the third period when McDonagh tripped Joel Kiviranta, but the Stars just couldn’t get any offense on the board.

With 1:44 remaining in the season, Bowness pulled Khudobin for an extra attacker in an attempt to muster just about anything by that point to spur his team for one last chance at forcing a Game 7.

This time, their heroic comeback moment did not come as the Lightning bolted down their defense and struck the Stars with a, 2-0, shutout at the final horn.

Tampa emerged with the 4-2 series win and their first Stanley Cup championship since 2004– their second Stanley Cup ring in franchise history.

Dallas fell to 1-2 in three Stanley Cup Final appearances overall, having won in six games in 1999, against the Buffalo Sabres, and losing in six games in 2000, against the New Jersey Devils.

Six games is all it takes, apparently, for better or worse for the Stars in the Final.

Meanwhile, it’s all the Lightning needed to complete a redemption arc from losing in six games to Chicago in 2015, and the ensuing bouts of embarrassment since then until the stars aligned for Tampa on Monday.

Tampa finished Game 6 leading in blocked shots (22-16), hits (40-37) and faceoff win% (53-47), while Dallas exited the bubble with the advantage in giveaways (11-9) in their final game.

The Lightning finished 1/3 on the power play as the Stars finished 0/3 on the skater advantage.

As the Bolts skated around with Lord Stanley’s mug, Cooper had completed the achievement of winning a championship at every level of hockey that he has coached– a feat that is by no means easy to accomplish, even though he did so while only 53-years-old (which is relatively young for a head coach).

Tampa became the first team to win the Presidents’ Trophy and be swept in the First Round the year before winning the Cup in the following season as the Columbus Blue Jackets ousted the Lightning in four games in the 2019 First Round.

The Lightning, fun fact, overcame Columbus in five games in the 2020 First Round before defeating the Boston Bruins in five games in the Second Round and the New York Islanders in six games in the Eastern Conference Final to advance to the 2020 Stanley Cup Final.

Maroon became the eighth player in history– and first since former Lightning player, Cory Stillman– to win back-to-back Cups with different teams in consecutive seasons.

Stillman won the Cup with the Lightning in 2004, before winning it again in 2006 with the Carolina Hurricanes (the NHL had a lockout that canceled the 2004-05 season in between), while Maroon won the Cup last year with the St. Louis Blues– his hometown team– before raising the Cup again in 2020 with Tampa.

Vasilevskiy set an NHL record for minutes played by a goaltender in a postseason with 1,708:12 time on ice.

He also became the 10th different netminder since the league expanded prior to the 1967-68 season to appear in every game en route to the Cup, joining Corey Crawford (with Chicago in 2013), Jonathan Quick (with the Los Angeles Kings in 2012), Tim Thomas (with Boston in 2011), Martin Brodeur (with New Jersey in 2000), Ed Belfour (with Dallas in 1999), Grant Fuhr (with the Edmonton Oilers in 1988), Patrick Roy (with the Montreal Canadiens in 1986), Ken Dryden (five times with Montreal from 1971-78) and Bernie Parent (with the Philadelphia Flyers in 1974) in the process.

Bowness fell to 15-13 with Dallas in the postseason (all-time) as the Stars fell to 15-13 in the 2020 postseason as a whole, while Cooper improved to 54-29 behind the bench in the postseason with Tampa.

The Lightning finished 18-7 in the bubble in postseason action– capitalizing their longest postseason (25 games) with a Cup win.

Meanwhile, the NHL as a whole was able to award the Stanley Cup for the 2019-20 season amidst the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic with zero positive tests in Phase 4 of their Return to Play plan– which deserves a banner in its own right– having “administered 33,174 tests to club Personnel, including Players” from the beginning of Phase 4 through September 26th, according to a statement released by the league prior to the game on Monday.

Kudos to the NHL, NHLPA, Gary Bettman and all of the public health and local Canadian government officials that were able to make this happen.