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NHL Nick's Net

Bruins score five unanswered in, 5-3, comeback over Capitals

For the second game in a row, the Boston Bruins got themselves out of a, 3-0, deficit only this time they just kept scoring and beat the Washington Capitals, 5-3, in regulation at Capital One Arena Monday night.

David Pastrnak recorded a pair of goals and the B’s notched five unanswered– including four goals in the third period alone– en route to the victory.

Bruins goaltender, Jaroslav Halak (3-0-1, 1.72 goals against average, .923 save percentage in four games played), made 23 saves on 26 shots faced for an .885 SV% in the win.

Meanwhile, Capitals netminder, Vitek Vanecek (5-1-2, 2.94 GAA, .913 SV% in eight games played), stopped 28 out of 32 shots against for an .875 SV% in the loss.

Boston improved to 6-1-2 (14 points) on the season and remains in command of 3rd place in the MassMutual East Division, while Washington fell to 6-1-3 (15 points) overall and bounced out of their top spot for the division lead by the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Capitals are now 2nd by virtue of having one fewer regulation win than the Flyers. Washington has four this season, while Philadelphia has five.

The Bruins were without the services of Ondrej Kase (upper body), Matt Grzelcyk (lower body) and Jake DeBrusk (lower body) on Monday, while Greg McKegg, Jack Studnicka, Par Lindholm, John Moore, Urho Vaakanainen, Callum Booth and Dan Vladar all remained as healthy scratches and/or listed on Boston’s taxi squad.

B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, juggled his right wings from Saturday night’s, 4-3, loss in overtime to the Capitals to Monday night’s action– moving Craig Smith to the David Krejci’s right side on the second line and Chris Wagner to Charlie Coyle’s right side on the third line, while demoting Karson Kuhlman to the right side of the fourth line.

Cassidy made no other adjustments to his lineup.

Almost midway into the first frame, Bruins defender, Kevan Miller, was penalized for interference, yielding the game’s first power play opportunity to the Capitals at 8:18 of the first period.

Washington did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage, however.

Moments later, the Capitals thought they had taken advantage of a momentum swing thanks to their successful penalty kill when it appeared that a shot from John Carlson had eyes and was redirected by Carl Hagelin into the twine behind Halak at 11:41, but Boston used their coach’s challenge on the grounds that the play entering the zone was offside.

After review, it was determined that Garnet Hathaway entered the offensive zone offside while the puck was mid-air at the blue line.

It was not in Hathaway’s immediate possession, as Miller had forced the puck to take flight on a poke check.

Had the Boston defender not gotten his stick on the puck, it’s likely the goal wouldn’t have been overturned as a result of an impressive move by the Washington forward in accordance with the new interpretation of “breaking the plane”.

Then again, who knows? What’s a catch, anyway?

Hagelin’s goal being discredited did not deter the Washington attack.

A couple minutes later, the Capitals won a faceoff in the offensive zone, worked the puck back to former Bruin defender, Zdeno Chara, and let the 6-foot-9 blue line wind up for one of his patented slap shots from the point.

Chara (2) sent a rocket low on Halak’s blocker side into the back of the net and gave the Caps the first official goal of the night at 13:26 of the first period.

Washington led, 1-0.

Hathaway (2) and Nic Dowd (2) had the assists.

It was Chara’s first goal against Boston since April 11, 2006, when he was then a member of the Ottawa Senators and scored two goals– including the game-winner– in a, 4-3, overtime victory for the Sens.

The Capitals grabbed a two-goal lead 11 seconds after Chara kicked off the night’s scoring when Daniel Sprong (2) worked his way in close and fired a shot through Halak’s five-hole.

Jakub Vrana (4) and Nick Jensen (2) tallied the assists on Sprong’s goal and Washington led, 2-0, at 13:37.

Late in the period, Jakub Zboril delivered a swift cross check to T.J. Oshie and promptly received a minor infraction at 18:23.

Washington’s power play would extend into the middle frame, but yield no change in the scoreboard.

After one period of play, the Capitals led, 2-0, on the scoreboard and, 15-8, in shots on goal.

The Caps also held the advantage in blocked shots (4-3), giveaways (4-0), hits (9-8) and faceoff win percentage (61-39).

Both teams had two takeaways aside, while Washington was 0/2 on the power play (Boston had yet to see time on the skater advantage).

Oshie kicked off the middle frame with a holding penalty against Zboril– presenting the Bruins with their first taste of power play action at 3:07 of the second period.

About a minute later, Hathaway cut a rut to the penalty box on an automatic delay of game minor for clearing the puck over the glass at 4:09.

Boston had a 5-on-3 advantage for 58 seconds, but didn’t muster anything on the scoreboard in what was a failed power play operation.

Shortly after killing off both infractions, Washington went on the power play after Jeremy Lauzon hooked Tom Wilson at 7:19.

About a minute later, Carlson and Vrana setup a give-and-go through Wagner’s legs back to Carlson (4) whereby the Capitals defender waltzed into the slot before dragging and snapping a shot over Halak’s blocker side for a power-play goal.

Vrana (5) had the only assist on Carlson’s goal as Washington took a, 3-0, lead at 8:35 of the second period.

Less than a minute later, Boston couldn’t stop their bad habits as Krejci caught Trevor van Riemsdyk without the puck and received an interference minor at 9:03.

Washington did not convert on the ensuing power play, however.

Midway through the middle frame, the Bruins won a faceoff in the offensive zone before working the puck to Brad Marchand as Pastrnak setup in the bumper position.

Marchand fed Pastrnak (1) for the one-timer goal while Patrice Bergeron screened the Washington netminder to cut the Caps’ lead to two-goals.

Marchand (7) and Brandon Carlo (1) tabbed the assists on Pastrnak’s first goal of the season as the Bruins trailed, 3-1, at 12:37 of the second period.

Dowd promptly tripped Pastrnak at 13:51 and presented the B’s with a skater advantage, but Boston’s power play was powerless on Monday– despite getting creative at one point and utilizing a special teams unit comprised of only forwards.

Through 40 minutes of action in D.C., the Capitals led, 3-1, on the scoreboard and, 20-17, in shots on goal, despite Boston leading in second period shots alone, 9-5.

Washington also maintained the advantage in blocked shots (10-7), takeaways (5-3) and giveaways (7-0), while Boston led in hits (17-14).

The two clubs were 50-50 in faceoff win% after two periods.

Meanwhile, the Caps were 1/4 on the power play, while Boston was 0/3 on the night on the skater advantage.

Early in the final frame, the Bruins won an attacking zone faceoff whereby Boston’s defense worked the puck to Pastrnak for a quick wraparound from the dot to the circle on Vanecek’s right side before Pastrnak (2) unloaded a shot past the Washington goalie’s low blocker side.

The Bruins trailed by one as Zboril (2) and Charlie McAvoy (7) tallied the assists on Pastrnak’s second goal of the night.

Washington barely held onto a, 3-2, lead at 6:08 of the third period with more than enough time for the inevitable comeback.

Almost midway in the third, Trent Frederic and Wilson exchanged fisticuffs at 8:49, yielding fighting majors in what was a considerably favorable tradeoff for Boston.

Sure, the Bruins first year forward would miss at least the next five minutes, but Washington’s power-forward scorer in Wilson would also be off of the ice too.

The fight was just the second of Frederic’s young National Hockey League career (with his first coming back on Jan. 29, 2019, in his NHL debut against Brandon Tanev and the Winnipeg Jets), as well as just the second fight this season for Boston (previous, Kevan Miller vs. Miles Wood on Jan. 16th in New Jersey).

At 10:02 of the third period, Alex Ovechkin slashed Nick Ritchie and presented Boston with a power play that coincided with an already surging momentum swing in the Bruins’ favor.

Though the B’s did not score on the ensuing skater advantage, Boston caught Washington in the vulnerable minute after special teams action when Smith (3) one-timed a shot past Vanecek’s blocker side.

Lauzon (2) setup Smith with the primary assist on a backhand pass through the slot, while Ritchie (4) was credited with the secondary assist as the Bruins tied it, 3-3, at 13:07 of the third period.

A little more than four minutes later, the Bruins made good on the comeback– Carlo (2) blasted a one-timer past the Capitals netminder to give the B’s their first lead of the night, 4-3.

Sean Kuraly (1) and Wagner (1) each earned their first assist of the season on Carlo’s goal at 17:23.

With 1:38 remaining in regulation, Washington head coach, Peter Laviolette, used his timeout and pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker.

Though the Caps drew up plans to try to tie the game, the B’s foiled them.

Krejci setup Marchand (6) with a lead pass through the neutral zone so that No. 63 in black and gold could hit the empty net and give Boston a two-goal lead.

Krejci (7) had the only assist on Marchand’s empty net goal at 18:34 and the Bruins led, 5-3.

Washington pulled their goalie again with about 35 seconds left, but it was to no avail as the clock ticked down to the final seconds, then “zero”.

Boston sealed the deal on the, 5-3, comeback victory– scoring five unanswered goals in what was just their sixth victory after overcoming a three-goal deficit in the regular season since 1995-96.

The Bruins finished Monday night’s effort leading in shots on goal, 33-26, including a, 16-6, advantage in the third period alone.

Boston also finished the night leading in hits (27-17), while Washington wrapped up Monday’s action with the advantage in blocked shots (19-8) and giveaways (11-2).

The teams finished the night 50-50 in faceoff win%, while the B’s went 0/4 and the Caps went 1/4 on the skater advantage.

The Bruins improved to 1-0-2 when trailing after the first period, 2-0-1 when trailing after the second period and 2-1-1 when allowing the game’s first goal this season.

They also became the first team to beat Washington in regulation this season.

Boston continues their four-game road trip (1-0-1) with a pair of games in Philadelphia against the Flyers on Wednesday and Friday before returning home to face the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday.

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NHL Nick's Net

Bruins rally, Ovi ends it, Caps top B’s, 4-3, in OT

The Boston Bruins came back from being down, 3-0, only for Alex Ovechkin to do what he does best and score the game-winning goal less than a minute into overtime on Saturday night at Capital One Arena– giving the Washington Capitals the, 4-3, victory in the process.

Vitek Vanecek (5-0-2, 2.78 goals against average, .918 save percentage in seven games played) made 40 saves on 43 shots against for a .930 SV% in the win for the Capitals.

Bruins goaltender, Tuukka Rask (3-1-1, 2.49 GAA, .890 SV% in five games played), stopped 19 out of 23 shots faced for an .826 SV% in the overtime loss.

Boston fell to 5-1-2 (12 points) overall and slipped to 3rd place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while Washington improved to 6-0-3 (15 points) and maintained their division lead.

Saturday night marked the first of eight meetings between Capitals defender, Zdeno Chara, and his most recent former team after spending 14 seasons as captain of the Bruins.

His last game against Boston was on April 11, 2006, as a member of the Ottawa Senators, in which Chara had two goals– including the game-winning goal in overtime– as the Sens beat the B’s, 4-3.

Chara had a plus-1 rating on Saturday and recorded one shot on goal, as well as one takeaway in 20:54 time on ice.

With David Pastrnak back in the lineup for the first time this season since undergoing a right hip arthroscopy and labral repair on Sept. 16th, Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy made a few adjustments to his lineup from Thursday night’s, 4-1, win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

First, Pastrnak was slotted into his usual spot on the first line right wing, while Karson Kuhlman also made his season debut in place of Jack Studnicka in the lineup and placed on the second line right wing.

Charlie Coyle was reunited with Trent Frederic and Craig Smith as his wingers on the third line, while Sean Kuraly was flanked by Anders Bjork and Chris Wagner on the fourth line.

On defense, Matt Grzelcyk remained out of the lineup with a lower body injury, so Connor Clifton suited up next to Brandon Carlo on the second pairing.

Ondrej Kase (upper body), Grzelcyk (lower body) and Jake DeBrusk (lower body) were out of the lineup due to injury, while Greg McKegg, Studnicka, Par Lindholm, John Moore, Urho Vaakanainen, Callum Booth and Dan Vladar made up Boston’s list of scratches and/or taxi squad members on Saturday.

Late in the opening frame, Nicklas Backstrom (5) generated a turnover and broke into the attacking zone with possession before the puck had crossed the blue line (putting the new interpretation of what’s “offside” to the eye-test as the Bruins did not use a coach’s challenge) before wiring a shot past Rask.

Backstrom’s goal was unassisted and gave the Capitals a, 1-0, lead at 18:06 of the first period.

It also came after a barrage of shots by Boston that were turned aside with ease by Vanecek. Talk about a momentum swing.

Less than a minute later, Washington presented the Bruins with the first power play of the night when Richard Panik tripped Coyle at 18:45.

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

With 12.3 seconds left in the first period, Pastrnak fired a shot that deflected off of Chara’s stick and hit the Capitals defender in the face. Chara returned for the second period with a minor scratch and some signs of blood loss, but was undeterred.

After 20 minutes of action at Capital One Arena, the Caps led, 1-0, despite trailing the B’s in shots on goal, 19-7.

Washington held the advantage in just about everything else, however, including blocked shots (10-2), takeaways (4-3) and hits (12-5), while Boston led in faceoff win percentage (58-42).

Both teams had four giveaways aside, while the Bruins were 0/1 on the power play.

The Capitals had yet to see time on the skater advantage.

Early in the middle frame, Washington established a net front presence that cut down on Rask’s line of sight enabling Trevor van Riemsdyk (1) to score his first goal as a Capital with a wrist from from the point while the Bruins netminder was screened.

Brenden Dillon (4) and Backstrom (7) tallied the assists on van Riemsdyk’s goal and the Caps extended their lead to, 2-0, at 5:22 of the second period.

Moments later, David Krejci hooked Nic Dowd and cut a rut to the penalty box, yielding a power play to the Capitals for the first and only time Saturday night at 8:39.

Late in the ensuing power play, after an attacking zone faceoff, Washington zipped the puck back to the point then to Tom Wilson at the faceoff dot for a shot that ricocheted off of Panik (1) and over Rask’s blocker.

Wilson (4) and Ovechkin (5) had the assists as Washington grabbed a, 3-0, lead thanks to Panik’s power-play goal at 10:03 of the second period.

Moments later, Garnet Hathaway was penalized for interference at 16:43 and Boston had a chance to answer on the power play.

The Bruins went to work as Nick Ritchie set himself up in front of the net while Patrice Bergeron sent a shot towards the crease, where the rubber biscuit first clipped Krejci on its way by before bouncing off of Ritchie (4) and into the twine.

Krejci (6) and Bergeron (4) were credited with the assists as Ritchie’s power-play goal pulled Boston to within two goals, trialing Washington, 3-1, at 17:32 of the second period.

Heading into the second intermission, the Caps led, 3-1, on the scoreboard, but the Bruins led, 34-17, in shots on goal, including a, 15-10, advantage in the second period alone.

Boston also led in faceoff win% (53-47), while Washington held the advantage in blocked shots (16-8), giveaways (6-4) and hits (27-9).

Both teams had six takeaways each.

The Capitals were 1/1, while the Bruins were 1/2 on the skater advantage entering the final frame of regulation.

Brad Marchand (5) fired a shot over Vanecek’s blocker side from point blank early in the third period to pull the Bruins to within one.

Off of an icing, Boston won the ensuing attacking zone faceoff and worked the puck from Bergeron to Charlie McAvoy then over to Marchand for the goal to make it, 3-2, at 6:03 of the third period.

McAvoy (6) and Bergeron (5) nabbed the assists on Marchand’s goal.

Less than a minute later, Jakub Vrana caught Jeremy Lauzon with a high stick and was sent to the box at 6:43, but the Bruins couldn’t convert on the resulting power play.

Late in the period, the Capitals lost count of their skaters and had too many on the ice with possession, thus rendering an automatic delay of game infraction at 14:04.

Conor Sheary served Washington’s bench minor, but Boston couldn’t tie the game on the resulting power play.

With 1:24 remaining in regulation, Rask vacated his net for an extra attacker.

Seconds later, Boston hacked away at the puck until McAvoy (1) slipped it through Vanecek for his first of the season at 19:02 of the third period– tying the game, 3-3, in the process.

Pastrnak (1) and Bergeron (6) tallied the assists on McAvoy’s game-tying goal as the Bruins forced overtime.

At the end of regulation, the game was tied, 3-3, despite the Bruins outshooting the Capitals, 43-22, including a, 9-5, advantage in the third period alone.

Washington led in blocked shots (25-10), takeaways (11-8) and hits (38-15), while Boston held the advantage in faceoff win% (55-45).

Both teams had nine giveaways each, while the Capitals finished the night 1/1 on the power play and the Bruins went 1/4 on the skater advantage as there were no penalties called in overtime.

Peter Laviolette sent out Backstrom, Ovechkin and John Carlson to start in overtime, while Cassidy matched with Krejci, Pastrnak and McAvoy.

The puck hadn’t even been on the ice for 30 seconds in overtime before Ovechkin (2) skated from his own end on a drop pass from Backstrom to the attacking end and ripped a shot over Rask’s blocker side from just after the blue line to win the game for Washington.

Backstrom (8) and Carlson (7) notched the assists on Ovechkin’s game-winning goal 28 seconds into the overtime period as the Capitals sealed the deal on the, 4-3, victory.

Boston never had possession in overtime prior to what was the 24th career regular season overtime game-winning goal for Ovechkin.

The Bruins finished the night leading in shots on goal, 43-23, despite trailing Washington in shots in overtime alone, 1-0.

Washington finished the night leading in blocked shots (26-10) and hits (38-15), while Boston led in faceoff win% (55-45).

Both teams finished Saturday night’s effort with nine giveaways aside.

The Capitals improved to 1-1 in overtime this season (2-3 overall past regulation), while the Bruins fell to 1-2 in overtime this season (3-2 past regulation).

Boston also fell to 0-0-2 when trailing after the first period, 1-0-1 when trailing after the second period and 1-1-2 when allowing the game’s first goal this season.

Despite all that, the B’s have not lost a game by more than one goal this season.

The Bruins continue their four-game road trip (0-0-1) with another matchup with the Capitals on Monday (Feb. 1st) before venturing to Philadelphia for two games against the Flyers on Feb. 3rd and Feb. 5th prior to returning home to Boston on Feb. 6th against the Buffalo Sabres.

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Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #206- What’s Kapanen, My Dudes?

The DTFR Duo discuss Photoshop, Todd Reirden’s firing, Arizona Coyotes draft violations, the Kasperi Kapanen trade back to Pittsburgh and the Second Round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsStitcher and/or on Spotify.

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NHL Nick's Net Previews

2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs Second Round Preview: Eastern Conference

The turnaround from the Qualifier to the First Round was too quick to get this out of the way (other than on the podcast), but at least the league and broadcasting partners gave us all a day or two between the First and Second Round– oh.

By the time that you’ll be reading this, all four Second Round series’ will have played at least one game, while some might have already played through two games.

Fear not, though, the series winner and other basic notes entering the Second Round were written down before puck drop and before the rest of the words in this post were filled around them.

Once again, this postseason is unpredictable– and that’s besides whatever happens on the ice.

At any point in time things could be shutdown again, because– you know– of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The players, coaches, team and league staff, as well as broadcasting crews and essential arena/hotel employees have all been in the bubble for almost a month now.

There aren’t enough words to express how taxing on the mind the isolation really is, despite teammates being in the bubble together, etc.

None on the league staff or team staff will see their families, romantic partners, roommates back home, etc. until they’re either eliminated or heading home with the Stanley Cup in their arms *fingers crossed*.

Luckily, the league’s made it this far into Phase 4 with no positive tests for COVID-19 out of the thousands of tests they’ve conducted.

For one reason or another (TV broadcast deals, probably), they’ve decided to make the Second Round feature a multitude of “back-to-backs”– that’s two games in two nights, whereas normally by this point in the playoffs there’s always (except for extenuating arena availability circumstances) a day off between each game in a series.

Alas, being in two bubble cities (Edmonton and Toronto), the league can do whatever it wants.

For now, let’s focus on the Eastern Conference teams in the Second Round.

As a reminder, the Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Final will be held at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, if everything goes according to plan. All Eastern Conference games before then, however, will take place at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario.

Sadly, families won’t allowed to join the players in the Conference Finals and beyond as was first anticipated at the beginning of the bubble.

(1) Philadelphia Flyers (41-21-7, 89 points) vs (6) New York Islanders (35-23-10, 80 points)

Philadelphia: 69 games played, .645 points percentage, 31 regulation wins.

N.Y. Islanders: 68 games played, .588 points percentage, 24 regulation wins.

In his first season as head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers, Alain Vigneault led the team from finishing in fourth place in the Eastern Conference by points percentage at the stoppage to securing the top seed in the East as a result of an undefeated Round Robin performance in what can only be described as wild a ride as the year 2020 has been.

No, the Flyers haven’t had as many lows as what 2020 has brought to the world, but they’ve been on fire as of late– since February, really– so maybe the universe is collapsing only because Philadelphia has what might be their greatest chance at winning the Cup for the first time since 1975.

Oh and they have a legitimate goaltender, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

The Flyers beat the Montreal Canadiens in six games in the First Round to advance to their Second Round matchup with the New York Islanders and– as has been the trend with 2020– nobody quite knows what to expect going into this series.

Travis Konecny led Philly in scoring in the regular season with 24-37–61 totals in 66 games before the ongoing pandemic shortened the season. Sean Couturier had the second-most points with 59 in 69 games and Jakub Voracek was third on the roster in scoring with 56 points in 69 games.

Thus far in the postseason, Voracek leads the team entering the Second Round with eight points (four goals, four assists) in eight games. Kevin Hayes has 1-6–7 totals in nine games, while Scott Laughton and Couturier each have five points entering Philly’s matchup with the Islanders.

In the regular season, Carter Hart led the way in the crease with a 24-13-3 record in 43 games (40 starts), one shutout, as well as a 2.42 goals against average and a .914 save percentage in that span.

Brian Elliott forged a 16-7-4 record in 31 games (27 starts), with a 2.87 GAA, an .899 SV% and two shutouts as Philadelphia’s backup, while Alex Lyon made three appearances (two starts) and had a 3.55 GAA, as well as an .890 SV% in the process.

Entering the Second Round, Hart has a 6-2-0 record in eight games with a 1.71 GAA, a .943 SV% and two shutouts in the process, while Elliott made one start and one relief appearance (two games) for a 1-0-0 record with a 1.47 GAA and a .913 SV%.

At the other end of the ice, the New York Islanders overcame the Florida Panthers in four games (3-1) in their best of five Qualifier series, then defeated the Washington Capitals in five games (4-1) in the First Round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs to line themselves up with the Flyers in the Second Round.

Mathew Barzal led the charge for the Isles with 19-41–60 totals in 68 games this season with Brock Nelson (54 points in 68 games), Anders Lee (43 points in 68 games) and Josh Bailey (43 points in 68 games) at the forefront of New York’s offense in 2019-20.

Thus far in the postseason, Bailey’s emerged as the Islanders’ points leader with 2-8–10 totals in nine games, while Anthony Beauvillier entered Game 1 against Philadelphia hot on his tail with 6-3–9 totals in nine games.

Meanwhile, Nelson and Barzal each had seven points in nine games for the third most points on the team in the 2020 postseason.

In the crease, Semyon Varlamov went 19-14-6 in 45 games (39 starts) in the regular season with a 2.62 GAA and a .914 SV%, as well as two shutouts in that span, while Thomas Greiss backed Varlamov up with a 16-9-4 record in 31 games (29 starts), a 2.74 GAA and a .913 SV%.

Varlamov has a 7-2 record in nine games entering the Second Round with one shutout, as well as a 1.67 GAA and a .934 SV% in that span.

The Flyers went 0-2-1 in the regular season against the Islanders and– despite being the hottest team since February– now have to face one of the best teams at shutting things down on a night-to-night basis.

Barry Trotz’ defensive scheme is a game plan for success with the Isles’ makeup, so the Flyers are going to have to pull them away from their go-to lanes.

Plus there’s the lack of offense to worry about for Philadelphia from their First Round matchup with the Canadiens that, if any of it is leftover for the Second Round, could spell trouble for Philly’s Cup hopes.

Meanwhile, despite Varlamov’s consistency this postseason, the Flyers have the upper hand in the crease with Hart getting into a rhythm and hitting his stride when it counts.

This is the fifth time these two clubs have met in the postseason and the Flyers hold the, 3-1, advantage in all time series meetings prior, but there’s a chance New York gets revenge on Philadelphia for the first time since 1980.

As much as New York could pull off the upset (based on seeding only and disregarding regular season head-to-head performance), the Flyers should be able to put it together and advance to their first Eastern Conference Final since 2010, by wrapping things up in six games.

Regular season outcomes:

5-3 NYI at NYCB Live/Nassau Coliseum on Oct. 27th, 4-3 F/SO NYI at Wells Fargo Center on Nov. 16th, 5-3 NYI at Barclays Center on Feb. 11th

Schedule:

8/24- Game 1 NYI @ PHI in Toronto 7 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS

8/26- Game 2 NYI @ PHI in Toronto 3 PM ET on NBCN, SN, TVAS

8/27- Game 3 PHI @ NYI in Toronto 7 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS

8/29- Game 4 PHI @ NYI in Toronto 12 PM ET on NBC, SN, TVAS

8/31- Game 5 NYI @ PHI in Toronto*

9/2- Game 6 PHI @ NYI in Toronto*

9/3- Game 7 NYI @ PHI in Toronto*

*If necessary

(2) Tampa Bay Lightning (43-21-6, 92 points) vs (4) Boston Bruins (44-14-12, 100 points)

Tampa: 70 games played, .657 points percentage, 35 regulation wins.

Boston: 70 games played, .714 points percentage, 38 regulation wins.

Despite the Boston Bruins clinching the Presidents’ Trophy with the league’s best record in the 2019-20 shortened regular season, the Tampa Bay Lightning have the higher seed thanks to a better performance in the 2020 Round Robin.

Tampa avenged their elimination from last year’s First Round in four games by beating the Columbus Blue Jackets in the five games (4-1) in the 2020 First Round, which included a 5OT victory in Game 1 and a commanding overtime win in Game 5 (that ultimately ended the series, because that’s how a best-of-seven works).

Nikita Kucherov led the Lightning in the regular season with 33-52–85 totals in 68 games played, while Steven Stamkos had the second-most points on the team (66) despite being limited to 57 games due to injury.

Brayden Point, meanwhile, had the third most points on the team in the regular season with 25-39–56 totals in 66 games.

Entering the Second Round, however, Point was in command of Tampa’s scoring leaders with 5-5–10 totals in eight games, while Kucherov had nine points in eight games and a three-way tie for the third most between Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn and Yanni Gourde had yet to be resolved as each had four points prior to Tampa’s series matchup with Boston.

Oh and nobody knows how long Stamkos will be out since having core muscle surgery in March, then leaving practice in July after supposedly recovering in the allotted six to eight weeks post operation.

In the crease, Andrei Vasilevskiy led the charge with a 35-14-3 record in 52 games played (all starts), as well as three shutouts, a 2.56 GAA and a .917 SV% in that span.

His backup, Curtis McElhinney, posted an 8-7-3 record in 18 games with a 2.89 GAA, a .906 SV% and one shutout this season.

Entering the Second Round, Vasilevskiy was 6-2 in eight games with a 1.98 GAA and a .927 SV%.

The Lightning have a lot of fire power and a defense that’s good enough to help inflate their goaltender’s win column, regardless of his status as a Vezina Trophy finalist this season– it certainly helps win some games every now and then when the rest of your teammates are limiting your workload for you.

At the other end of the ice, the Boston Bruins went winless in the Round Robin and failed to record a point in the tournament while Chris Wagner led the team in scoring with a pair of goals over the three Round Robin games.

Then they flipped the switch and beat the Carolina Hurricanes in five games (4-1) to advance to the Second Round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs and, well, here they are.

David Pastrnak shared the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy honors with Alex Ovechkin in 2019-20, as both players scored 48 goals before the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic cut the regular season short.

Pastrnak also led the Bruins in scoring with 48-47–95 totals in 70 games.

Brad Marchand was second on the roster with 28-59–87 totals and Patrice Bergeron completed the first line, as well as the top-three trio in scoring with 31-25–56 totals in 61 games in the regular season.

In the postseason so far, the re-emergence of David “Playoff Krech” Krejci has come to fruition as No. 46 in black-and-gold leads his teammates in playoff scoring with 3-6–9 totals in eight games entering the Second Round.

Marchand (3-4–7 totals in eight games) and Bergeron (2-4–6 totals in eight games) are second and third on the roster, respectively, in scoring prior to their series matchup with Tampa.

Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak combined efforts to take home the William M. Jennings Trophy having allowed the fewest combined goals against (174) among goaltender(s) with a minimum of 25 games played in 2019-20.

Rask finished the regular season with a Vezina Trophy finalist nomination, as well as a 26-8-6 record in 41 games (41 starts), a 2.12 GAA, a .929 SV% and five shutouts in that span.

Halak went 18-6-6 in 31 games (29 starts) and had a 2.39 GAA, a .919 SV% and three shutouts prior to the pandemic cutting the regular season short.

Prior to opting out of the rest of the 2020 postseason due to a family medical emergency involving one of his daughters, Rask had a 1-3-0 record in four games (four starts) in the bubble with a 2.57 GAA and a .904 SV% in that span.

There is no blame for being a good parent and knowing that the right thing to always do is take care of your family first– even if your team is in the middle of what could be their last chance to win a Cup with their current core group of players.

The last time the league participated in a postseason in a pandemic, several players contracted the flu and one (Montreal Canadiens star, Joe Hall) died a few days after the 1919 Stanley Cup Final was called off from pneumonia as a complication from influenza.

Have some compassion, for once.

Halak, in the meantime, enters the Second Round as Boston’s starting goaltender with a 3-1-0 record in four games (four starts), as well as a 2.29 GAA and a .912 SV% in that span.

In the regular season, the Bruins went 1-2-1 against the Lightning, while the Bolts held a 3-1-0 record against Boston in the season series (their first game back on Oct. 17th being a, 4-3, shootout victory for Tampa).

Scoring was pretty even at a, 13-10, advantage for the Lightning across all four meetings, despite the Bruins outshooting the Bolts, 139-113, in the four games combined.

The two clubs are 1-1 all time in two previous postseason meetings, where Boston eliminated Tampa in seven games in the 2011 Eastern Conference Final and the Bolts returned the favor to the Bruins in five games in the 2018 Second Round.

Two years removed from Boston’s collapsed hopes of a deep run at the hands of the Lightning, the B’s made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final in 2019, thanks to the Blue Jackets sweeping the Lightning in the 2019 First Round, then bowing out to Boston in six games in the 2019 Second Round.

These two Atlantic Division teams are more intertwined than average fan might think and a rivalry has sprung as of, well, really since that 2011 series.

The Bruins have struggled to handle the Lightning– especially within the last few seasons, at least.

With everything in mind, it’s also important to remember just how hard it is to go all the way back to the Stanley Cup Final after making it in the previous year– let alone make it out of the First Round after having five months off due to a pandemic.

If anything, it’s not that Bruins are an “aging team”– so are the Lightning at their core with each and every passing year that Stamkos and Co. have not won a Cup ring.

If anything, it’s that the Lightning simply are Boston’s Kryptonite like how the Montreal Canadiens once were before the 21st century.

Boston might be able to win a game or two, but Tampa should really have this series taken care of in six games.

Regular season outcomes:

4-3 F/SO TBL at TD Garden on Oct. 17th, 3-2 TBL at Amalie Arena on Dec. 12th, 2-1 BOS at Amalie Arena on March 3rd, 5-3 TBL at TD Garden on March 7th

Schedule:

8/23- Game 1 BOS @ TBL in Toronto 8 PM ET on NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS

8/25- Game 2 BOS @ TBL in Toronto 7 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS

8/26- Game 3 TBL @ BOS in Toronto 8 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS

8/28- Game 4 TBL @ BOS in Toronto 7:30 PM ET on USA, CBC, SN, TVAS

8/30- Game 5 BOS @ TBL in Toronto*

9/1- Game 6 TBL @ BOS in Toronto*

9/2- Game 7 BOS @ TBL in Toronto*

*If necessary

Categories
Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #204- Late For Everything!

Nick and Colby talk about what went wrong for the Toronto Maple Leafs and other teams eliminated in the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifier, as well as preview the already in progress 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round.

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsStitcher and/or on Spotify.

Categories
NHL Nick's Net Numbers Game

Look To The Rafters: Boston Bruins (Part II)

In the early days of DTFR, we made an educated guess as to who each team might honor in the future regarding retired jersey numbers. Since then, the Vegas Golden Knights came into existence and more than a few jersey numbers went out of circulation across the league. 

It’s time for an update and a look at who the Boston Bruins might honor by hanging their name and number from the rafters of TD Garden someday.

Boston Bruins Current Retired Numbers

2 Eddie Shore

3 Lionel Hitchman

4 Bobby Orr

5 Dit Clapper

7 Phil Esposito

8 Cam Neely

9 Johnny Bucyk

15 Milt Schmidt

16 Rick Middleton

24 Terry O’Reilly

77 Ray Bourque

Did Anything Change In The Last Five Years?

Yes! Rick Middleton had his No. 16 retired by the Bruins on Nov. 29, 2018, after scoring 898 points in 881 games with Boston over 12 seasons from 1976-88.

Possible Numbers to Retire Someday

30 Gerry Cheevers/Tim Thomas

The Bruins have never retired a goaltender’s jersey number, so why not make the first one count for two of the most prolific Boston netminders in the Expansion Era?

Boston has a chance to right a few wrongs if there’s any ill will leftover from Cheevers’ departure to the World Hockey Association (WHA) and back or Thomas’ debacle regarding his year-long vacation from the sport that led to being suspended from the team and his trade to the New York Islanders in Feb. 2013, while Thomas was resting at home reconnecting with (in his words) his family, friends and faith.

Last month, I addressed the pros and cons facing what might be a longshot at this point for No. 30 to ever be raised to the rafters at TD Garden in Cheevers’ and/or Thomas’ honor, but with Rick Middleton having his No. 16 retired last season– years after he hung up the skates and despite being on the outside looking in regarding Hockey Hall of Fame status, then there’s a chance the B’s overlook Cheevers’ sin and Thomas’ short tenure.

Nevertheless, both are Stanley Cup champion goaltenders and legends in their own right among Bruins fans around the Hub.

33 Zdeno Chara

The 2008-09 James Norris Trophy winner has played in 1,023 games in a Bruins uniform and amassed 148-333-481 totals in that span– so far. No, the 43-year-old defender and longest tenured captain in the National Hockey League is not done yet. 

Chara has indicated he’d like to go out on his own terms, whether that’s with another Cup under his belt or another full season– at least– if there’s ever another “normal” 82-game schedule again in the future.

In 1,553 career NHL games played for the Bruins (1,023 games), Ottawa Senators (299) and New York Islanders (231), Chara has 205 career goals and 451 career assists (656 points).

At 6-foot-9, he’s the tallest player in NHL history and though he might be tall in stature and a fierce competitor on the ice, Chara has a big heart off of it– taking charge in the annual pie donation at homeless shelters across Boston on American Thanksgiving, being one of the first You Can Play Project supporters and many other charitable efforts throughout the city, including, most recently, joining Black Lives Matter protests on the streets of Boston.

He joined the Bruins as a free agent on July 1, 2006, with Marc Savard as two centerpieces tasked with overhauling a floundering Original Six franchise on the ice and transforming the team into not only an annual playoff contender, but more popular than perhaps even the 1970s B’s teams throughout the New England region.

And even still, there’s some in the Bruins fan base that negate his workhorse effort, team leader mentality and humility.

Well, there was until he sustained a broken jaw in Game 4 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final, then played in Game 5 on home ice with a cage and (presumably) in pain.

He’ll do anything to win another Cup since winning it with Boston nine years ago and ending the city’s 39-year Cup drought between raising Lord Stanley’s mug in 1972 and 2011.

37 Patrice Bergeron

Throughout the course of Bruins history there have been several individuals who have exemplified– with the utmost detail in every little thing they do– what it means to be a Bruin in Boston. 

Their names are Art Ross, Eddie Shore, Milt Schmidt, Bobby Orr and Patrice Bergeron.

Bergeron has spent his entire 16-year NHL career with Boston since being drafted by the Bruins in the second round (45th overall) in 2003. In 1,089 games, he’s scored 352 goals and amassed 517 assists for 869 career points. 

He’s also a member of the elusive Quadruple Gold Club, having won a Stanley Cup ring in 2011, two gold medals at the Winter Games for Canada in 2010 and 2014, a gold medal at the World Championship in 2004 and a gold medal at the World Junior Championship in 2005.

And if the Pentaple Gold Club was a thing, then Bergeron would be in that too– having been a member of the 2016 World Cup of Hockey championship winning Team Canada.

But enough about what he’s done away from the Bruins, eh.

If Schmidt was “Mr. Bruin”– or “The Ultimate Bruin” in his later years– then Bergeron is “Mr. Bruin Jr.” as the quintessential (likely) Bruin for life like how Schmidt lived and breathed (despite at one point coaching the Washington Capitals).

Bergeron recorded back-to-back 70-point seasons in his sophomore season and third NHL season, then suffered an almost career-ending– if not life threatening– concussion at the helm of Philadelphia Flyers defender, Randy Jones’ hit from behind just ten games into the 2007-08 season.

Bergeron’s season was cut short and his 2008-09 campaign was limited to 64 games when another concussion from a run-in with future teammate, then Carolina Hurricanes defender, Dennis Seidenberg, sidelined Bergeron for a duration of the season.

In 2011, Bergeron captured the Cup with Chara, Thomas and several other players who will be named in a moment that are possibly also deserving of the highest team honor in Boston– which raises a point about retired numbers in Bruins lore.

They come in bunches.

Nos. 2, 3 and 5 were all early pioneers of the franchise with No. 15 serving as a bridge between them and Nos. 4, 7 and 9. Then along came No. 24 before Nos. 8, 16 and 77 defined an era of Bruins hockey.

The same can be said for Nos. 33, 37, 40, 46 and perhaps 63 one day.

Anyway, No. 37 will go down in Boston sports history for more than a few reasons aside from his playoff overtime goals and everything else– he got better with age.

Bergeron turned in a career-high 79 points in 65 games played in 2018-19, and had 31-25–56 totals in 61 games up until the COVID-19 stoppage this season. He was on pace for 75 points had the regular season not met an abrupt end.

40 Tuukka Rask

No, Rask has “never won a Cup”. He has a Stanley Cup ring from 2011 and it doesn’t matter in the eyes of the engraver whether or not you were the starter or the backup when your name is etched into Lord Stanley’s mug.

Also, what hasn’t he done in Boston?

Rask has been a finalist for the Vezina Trophy twice (which was the same number of times Thomas was a Vezina finalist) in his career, winning in 2013-14 and yet to be determined this season. 

Oh, plus he ranks 1st in Bruins franchise history in wins (Rask has 291, Tiny Thompson is 2nd with 252), games played (Rask has 536, Thompson is 2nd with 468), saves (Rask has 13,711, Eddie Johnston had 12,375), save percentage (among goalies with a minimum of 100 games played as a Bruin, Rask has a .922, Thomas had a .921) and goals against average (again, among goalies with a minimum of 100 games played, Rask has a 2.26, Byron Dafoe had a 2.30).

Rask also leads all Bruins goaltenders in franchise history in points with 15 (all assists, as no B’s netminder has ever scored a goal). Cheevers is second to Rask in points by a Boston goaltender with 11 assists.

Want to talk about the two most important trophies in the league?

Cheevers and the Bruins made four Stanley Cup Final appearances together, winning in 1970 and 1972, and losing in 1977 and 1978. Boston also finished first in the regular season standings in 1970-71 and 1971-72, which preceded the creation of the Presidents’ Trophy in 1986, but was done with Cheevers in net.

Thomas won the Cup and the Conn Smythe in his only Stanley Cup Final with the team in 2011, but never backstopped the team to a Presidents’ Trophy season.

Rask, meanwhile, earned a Cup ring on the 2010-11 roster, dragged his teammates to the 2013 and 2019 Stanley Cup Final and helped them to the franchise’s second and third Presidents’ Trophy seasons in 2013-14 and 2019-20.

The Bruins have never retired a goaltender’s jersey number, but they’d be crazy not to retire Rask’s when his playing career is over.

And that’s not even mentioning the fact that both Thomas and Rask won the William M. Jennings Trophy in their careers. Thomas shared the award with his backup, Manny Fernandez, in the 2008-09 season, while Rask won the award with his backup, Jaroslav Halak, this season.

Crazy, right?

46 David Krejci

Imagine for a moment, if you will, a player like Bergeron, but only quieter and better at making everyone around him better because he has a golden stick when it comes to passing. That player is Krejci.

Krejci has 38 assists fewer than Bergeron in 178 games less in his career so far. Bergeron has 517 assists in 1,089 games, while Krejci has 479 assists in 911 career NHL games. Both players have only ever played for Boston.

A second-half of the season player, Krejci emerges in peak performance from about February onward and crests his prime in the postseason. As long as the Bruins clinch a playoff berth, Krejci remains a dark horse threat for the Conn Smythe Trophy.

He had 23 points in 25 games in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs and improved that to 26 points in 22 games in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs. In the run to his third Stanley Cup Final appearance, Krejci had 16 points across 24 games played through the seven-game series loss to the St. Louis Blues in 2019.

All of this is to say that Krejci is the other constant in the Bergeron-Chara Era (or is it really the Bergeron-Chara-Krejci Era?) and that he’s quietly amassed 207-479–686 totals in 911 career games with Boston from breaking into the league in the 2006-07 season through now.

Do not sleep on him. He deserves as much praise when all is said and done as some of the surefire players to have their jersey numbers retired when they hang up the skates.

63 Brad Marchand

Controversial? You got it.

But Terry O’Reilly has his jersey number hanging from the rafters of TD Garden, which means the “Little Ball of Hate” can get the same treatment as “Taz”.

Then there’s the fact that Marchand had 100 points last season in 79 games played– no, he did not miss any time due to any suspensions in 2018-19. He’s also had 85-points or more in the last four seasons dating back to 2016-17.

Since breaking into the league with a 20-game stint and only one assist in 2009-10, Marchand has gone on to amass 290-355–645 totals in 731 games from 2010-11 through the pandemic shortened 2019-20 season. That means he’s had 646 points in 751 career NHL games from the 2009-10 season through now.

After reaching 100 points last season in 79 games, Marchand had 87 points in 70 games this season. He was on pace for 102 points had the COVID-19 pandemic not interrupted those plans.

Instead of extending his four consecutive 30-goal seasons to five, Marchand finished short with 28 goals in 2019-20’s shortened regular season. He had a career-high 39 goals in 2016-17, and a career-high 64 assists last season.

Like Bergeron, Marchand appears to only be getting better with age and that’s only going to cement his status as an icon in Bruins franchise history. It might just be enough to push him over the edge and encourage Boston to hang his number from the rafters someday.

88 David Pastrnak

How did 24 other teams– yes fully acknowledging that some teams traded their picks to other teams that then had multiple picks in the first round before Boston selected 25th overall– pass over Pastrnak in the 2014 NHL Draft? How? 

In 390 career NHL games thus far, Pastrnak has 379 points. He has 180 goals and 199 assists in that span since breaking into the league in the 2014-15 season and not being sent back down to the Providence Bruins (AHL).

This season alone, Pastrnak had 48 goals in 70 games– tied for the league lead in goals scored with Washington Capitals forward, Alex Ovechkin– en route to sharing the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy and being the first Bruin in franchise history to have his name etched on that award named after the prolific Montreal Canadiens goal scorer from many years ago.

In fairness, the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy wasn’t a thing until the 1998-99 season, so B’s legends like Rick Middleton and Cam Neely never got a chance to win it (let alone Bobby Orr).

But Pastrnak is a star in his own right. He’s a star in the making that was on pace for 56 goals at the time of the stoppage and 111 points before the pandemic put an early end to the 2019-20 regular season.

Nevertheless, he set career-highs in goals (48), assists (47) and points (95) this season and has scored more goals than the prior season in four-consecutive seasons now (34 goals in 75 games in 2016-17, 35 goals in 82 games in 2017-18, 38 goals in 66 games in 2018-19 and 48 goals in 70 games in 2019-20).

As long as Pastrnak can stay healthy and maintain and/or elevate his play for the next four or five seasons, then he’ll see his jersey number in Boston’s rafters with their most recent prolific goal scorer with the last name “Neely”.

Final Thoughts

Since Chara created the current team culture, it’d be an insult to leave out any of the key core members of the last decade or so of Bruins hockey history. 

Sure, it might be a bit much to have so many jersey retirement nights upcoming and increasing the amount of jersey numbers taken out of circulation in Boston from 11 to upwards of at least 16, but to reiterate– the Bruins retire numbers in bunches.

These players define an era in B’s lore. These players are doing so as one unit– the way their current captain and perhaps greatest leader in the history of the team methodically designed, cultivated and produced the close-knit machine that is the Bruins organization on the ice and in the dressing room.

In a time with rightful public shaming and disgrace for not immediately stepping up and committing to help their employees in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, these players stepped up out of their own volition to do something their owner wouldn’t do without being provoked.

The very least that owner can do to keep in good faith standing with the club’s alumni and current players destined for jersey retirement night ceremony glory, would be to honor this extraordinary group of gentlemen with class.

Categories
NHL Nick's Net

Pastrnak’s hat trick propels Bruins over Habs, 4-1

For the second time this season, David Pastrnak recorded a hat trick against the Montreal Canadiens as the Boston Bruins defeated the Habs, 4-1, at TD Garden on Wednesday night.

Pastrnak regained the lead as top goal scorer in the league with 41 goals so far this season and became the first player since Gordie Howe to score multiple hat tricks against Montreal in the same season (Howe did so back in 1951-52).

Bruins goaltender, Tuukka Rask (21-5-6 record, 2.11 goals against average, .930 save percentage in 33 games played), made 28 saves on 29 shots against for a .966 SV% in the win.

Canadiens netminder, Carey Price (24-20-4, 2.73 GAA, .913 SV% in 48 games played) stopped 34 out of 37 shots faced for a .919 SV% in the loss.

Boston improved to 35-11-12 (82 points) on the season and remained atop the entire league, while Montreal fell to 27-25-7 (61 points) and stayed put in 5th place in the Atlantic Division.

The B’s also improved to 20-2-9 at home this season and have won eight out of their last ten games.

The Bruins were without the services of Kevan Miller (knee), Connor Clifton (upper body) and Jeremy Lauzon (suspension) on Wednesday.

Lauzon wrapped up his two game suspension from last Saturday’s, 4-2, win against the Arizona Coyotes for an illegal hit to the head of Coyotes forward, Derek Stepan.

Meanwhile, Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made a few minor changes among his forwards against the Canadiens.

Joakim Nordstrom was back in the lineup after missing the last four games due to allergy related complications and resumed his usual role on the fourth line left wing– reuniting the Nordstrom, Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner trio.

Cassidy moved Danton Heinen to the third line right wing with Anders Bjork at left wing and Charlie Coyle down the middle.

As a result, Par Lindholm joined Anton Blidh as Boston’s only healthy scratches against Montreal as Urho Vaakanainen was reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) late Sunday night after being recalled on an emergency basis.

Wednesday night marked the 750th all time regular season matchup between the B’s and Habs. Montreal has won 363 of those matches, while Boston has now won 284 of them. The two clubs tied in 103 times in that span.

Almost midway through the opening frame, Brad Marchand snaked his way into the attacking zone and through Montreal’s defense before curling a pass to Pastrnak (39) for a one-timer into the back of the twine– giving Boston the game’s first lead, 1-0.

Marchand (47) had the only assist on Pastrnak’s goal– his 39th of the season, which established a new career-high in goals for No. 88 in black and gold– at 6:59 of the first period.

The pair of wingers on Boston’s first line each have amassed at least 70 points in the last four seasons– marking the 10th time a Bruins player has recorded 70-plus points in four or more consecutive seasons.

Just past the midpoint of the first period, the Canadiens made an error in judgment and had too many skaters on the ice– yielding the first power play of the night to the Bruins at 10:32, but Boston did not convert on the ensuing legal skater advantage.

Late in the opening frame, Marchand got tangled up with Jeff Petry in front of the Montreal net as the two players exchanged shoves and roughing penalties (with Marchand earning an extra slashing minor in the process).

The Canadiens had their first power play of the night at 18:48 of the first period while Heinen served Marchand’s extra minor in the box.

Montreal’s power play would extend into the second period as the two teams entered the first intermission with the B’s in the lead on the scoreboard, 1-0, and in shots on goal, 11-10.

After one period of play, Boston held the advantage in blocked shots (6-2) and takeaways (2-0), while the Habs led in hits (12-11) and faceoff win percentage (53-47).

Both teams had four giveaways aside and were 0/1 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

The Habs began the second period with 48 seconds remaining on their power play, but their special teams were no match for Boston’s penalty kill fresh off the intermission as the Bruins killed off Marchand’s minor.

Moments later, Pastrnak (40) tallied his second goal of the game after Kuraly fed Pastrnak with pass while on a two-on-one break-in that led to Pastrnak deking and scoring top-shelf while Price dove in desperation.

Kuraly (15) had the only assist on Pastrnak’s goal and the B’s led, 2-0, at 4:16 of the second period.

For the first time since Glen Murray tallied 44 goals in the 2002-03 season, a Bruin recorded 40 or more goals in a season as Pastrnak reached and surpassed the 40-goal plateau.

He also required the fewest games (58) by a Bruins player to score 40 goals in a season since Cam Neely reached 40 goals in 36 games played in 1993-94 (which is also the fastest in franchise history to reach 40 goals).

Less than a minute later, Marco Scandella ripped a shot from the point that went off of Nick Suzuki’s (12) hip and past Rask– cutting Boston’s lead in half, 2-1, and putting the Habs on the scoreboard.

Scandella (8) had the only assist on Suzuki’s unintentional redirection goal at 4:52 of the second period.

Shortly thereafter, Heinen slashed Artturi Lehkonen and was sent to the box at 5:38.

Prior to the ensuing faceoff on the power play for Montreal, Zdeno Chara and Brendan Gallagher exchanged pleasantries with Chara promptly delivering a swift cross check to Gallagher and Gallagher receiving a roughing minor as the two were sent to their respective penalty boxes with Heinen already in Boston’s sin bin at 5:38 of the middle frame.

The Canadiens didn’t convert on the resulting power play.

Late in the second period, the nastiness continued with Jonathan Drouin and Wagner exchanging shoves and receiving roughing infractions at 14:32.

While on the ensuing 4-on-4 action, Joel Armia took a penalty for roughing against Torey Krug at 15:14 and yielded a 4-on-3 advantage for Boston for an abbreviated 1:19 span.

Montreal failed to clear a rebound in the resulting zone time for the Bruins as Patrice Bergeron battled Petry’s net front presence before the loose puck ended up on Pastrnak’s stick.

Pastrnak (41) slid the rubber biscuit through Price’s five-hole into the far side of the goal for his fourth hat trick of the season and first since Jan. 9th against the Winnipeg Jets.

Pastrnak’s hat trick goal was unassisted at 15:45 of the second period as Pastrnak joined Washington Capitals prolific goal scorer, Alex Ovechkin, as the only other active player to score nine hat tricks (including regular season and playoffs) prior to his 24th birthday.

Pastrnak’s third goal of the game was also his eighth goal against Montreal this season and left him second to Phil Esposito in Bruins franchise history for the most hat tricks in a single season– Pastrnak has four thus far, while Esposito notched seven hat tricks in the 1970-71 season for Boston.

Shortly after play resumed, Kuraly bumped into his own defender, Charlie McAvoy, and went down the tunnel, but returned to play unharmed ahead of the third period.

Entering the second intermission, the B’s led the Habs, 3-1, on the scoreboard and, 26-19, in shots on goal through 40 minutes of play.

Boston held the advantage in blocked shots (11-2) and takeaways (4-1), while Montreal led in giveaways (8-6) and faceoff win% (56-44).

Both teams recorded 17 hits aside after two periods of action. The Canadiens were 0/2 on the skater advantage, while the Bruins were 1/2 on the power play heading into the final period.

Early in the final frame, McAvoy sent the puck off the boards and out of play, but received an automatic delay of game penalty despite the on-ice officials convening to determine if the puck had gone clearly out of play or otherwise (it was evident via replay that the puck glanced off the boards, changed direction and traveled out of the playing surface, but alas, delay of game penalties of this nature cannot be subject to video review).

So the Canadiens went on the power play at 4:19 of the third period, but the Habs continued to struggle on the skater advantage.

Gallagher tried to get under the skin of Bruins defender, John Moore, in the dying seconds of Montreal’s power play in effort to yield an extension on the advantage, but Moore was not biting and Gallagher actually caught the B’s defender with a high stick at 6:18, reversing the skater advantage from the Habs to Boston.

Despite being presented with another power play opportunity of the night, the Bruins failed to convert while Gallagher was in the box.

With about 2:34 remaining in the game, Canadiens head coach, Claude Julien, pulled Price for an extra attacker to try to muster a pair of goals for his team in the dying minutes of the game.

Despite using his team’s timeout after a stoppage with 43.7 seconds remaining, Montreal’s last ditch effort was no match for Boston’s strong defense and forward progression.

Pastrnak flipped the puck down the ice whereby Marchand won a battle along the boards and was able to free the puck to Bergeron (24) for the empty net goal that sealed the deal on Boston’s, 4-1, victory.

Marchand (48) had the only assist on Bergeron’s empty netter at 19:40 of the third period and finished the night with a pair of helpers.

At the final horn the Bruins had won and finished the night leading in shots on goal, 38-29, with the final score reading as a, 4-1, win over the Canadiens.

Boston wrapped up Wednesday night ahead of Montreal in blocked shots (13-6), as well, while the Habs finished the game leading in giveaways (10-8), hits (27-25) and faceoff win% (58-42).

The Canadiens went 0/3 on the skater advantage and the B’s went 1/3 on the power play in Wednesday night’s matchup.

Rask extended his franchise record for longest point streak to open a season at home– improving to 13-0-6 at TD Garden this season with the win.

The Bruins also improved to 20-5-3 when leading after the first period, 20-1-6 when leading after two periods and 21-7-8 when scoring the game’s first goal this season.

Boston wraps up their two-game homestand against the Detroit Red Wings next Saturday (Feb. 15th) before going on a four-game road trip with stops against the New York Rangers, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks.

Categories
NHL Nick's Net

Three ways to improve the NHL All Star Game

Let’s face it, most people over the age of 18 don’t care for the NHL’s annual All Star Game, but it’s still an important part of the sport nonetheless.

For starters, the host city is provided with a boost in tourism for a weekend in January, while the local community receives more attention and support from the league in terms of growing the game for the duration leading up to that weekend and beyond– making it more accessible, more affordable and more inclusive, ideally.

It’s because of the good public relations and the charitable efforts made that the All Star Game should never go away.

That said, it could use some improvements to try to bring back the casual onlookers of the sport or even the diehards that tune out for the night and would rather watch paint dry.

Here’s three ways to try to bring more eyes to the game and at the very least boost its ratings on a weekend when not much else is happening to distract viewers from that season’s best NHLers having a little fun (how dare they).

Make it like the 2016 World Cup of Hockey

Want to further exemplify how the game is continuing to evolve, while getting younger and faster? Look no further than introducing a 23 and under team inspired by the 2016 World Cup of Hockey’s Team North America to the 3-on-3 format of the All Star Game!

Simply go back to naming teams after players and having them select their teammates and/or opponents, then pit the 23-year-olds and younger against the 30-year-olds and older and see if Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews and Rasmus Dahlin can beat Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin (assuming he wouldn’t skip the game) and John Carlson.

Want an added challenge? Bring back the Young Stars Game for players ranging in age from 18 to 20 and have them take on each other in an East vs. West format or simply throw them into the fire with the 23 and under team, 24 to 29-year-old team and 30 and older team (or something like that).

But seriously, either adopt the World Cup of Hockey teams for a 3-on-3 battle, mix it up with a young vs. old mentality or just pick who goes to the All Star Game and let them create their teams.

Imagine a team solely comprised of goaltenders. Now that’s worth tuning in for.

Better yet, let’s have the Elite Women’s team take on NHLers in a Billie Jean King vs. Bobby Riggs inspired matchup or have Marie-Philip Poulin lace up her skates alongside Crosby, while Hilary Knight suits up with Matthews and unleash the fury that is all of Hockey Canada and USA Hockey coming together for an ultimate 3-on-3 battle.

Make it a weekend of skills

If most fans over the age of 18 are tuning in for All Star weekend festivities just to see who’s the fastest skater, who has the hardest shot, what kind of crazy relay race Gatorade has come up this year or the all-new addition of a 3-on-3 women’s game to the skills competition, then why not make it a two-night main event?

The Hardest Shot competition, for example, wouldn’t get to be featured on both nights with the possibility of players altering their sticks within legal manners to try to get more speed on their shot– unless you wanted to add something like that as a curveball.

If you don’t want to expand the number of events, then get creative and allow a little tampering for players to study what they did on the first night, learn what their competition did better and try to beat that on the second night.

Alternatively, the league could just have have a mixture of traditional skills (Hardest Shot, Fastest Skater, Accuracy Shooting) and newer competitions (Shooting Stars, Save Streak, Elite Women’s 3-on-3 game) spread out over two nights with the return of the Breakaway Challenge, Skills Challenge Relay, Premier Passer, Puck Control Relay, Elimination Shootout and whatever you can come with to split each night with six different events.

Bring back the Eastern Conference vs. Western Conference format or have the divisions compete against each other and award points to the winners of each event.

The squad with the most points at the end of the two-night challenge wins bonus money or something.

Throw in an extra $50,000 for a charity that the winning team was playing for and you’ve got yourself even more good PR.

Don’t announce the All Star rosters until player introductions

Remember the outrage about Team USA’s 2010 Winter Games roster after it was announced immediately following the 2010 Winter Classic at Fenway Park?

This would be like that, but with more people than ever before on Hockey Twitter™ completely freaking out about how Jack Johnson was named to the All Star Game.

Think of the controversy that could be drummed up in real-time without allowing anyone to have about a month to whine about All Star snubs or substitutions.

Even better, it might force players to go to the game instead of using the built-in time off from the bye week as an excuse to skip out on something that’s made for fans to get a chance to see who they might otherwise not see regularly.

(So the NHLPA’s never going to agree to this idea from the start, because time off matters.)

Sure the schedule currently lets every market see players from out of town, but the novelty of the All Star Game has always been that the host city and its fans (or anyone that may have traveled from out of town to the region) can get to see the stars of the game without the barriers of dynamic ticket pricing getting in the way (in theory) for a family of four that might not be able to afford a regular matchup against one of the more superstar loaded teams.

This idea’s the hardest one to pull off given how well secrets are kept in the league (they’re not), as well as due to the fact that people would know by warmups who’s made the team and tweet about it, plus the fact that All Star merchandise with any player’s likeness would still need to be made ahead of time to sell at just the right time leading up to the game and thereafter (which could get leaked).

New jerseys and future Winter Classic venues and teams are constantly being disclosed before official announcements or reveals, which can sometimes take the fun away from the moment when it actually happens or– more often– only further stew angry complaints on social media until fans see it on the ice.

But just think, what if we all agreed to show up to Enterprise Center or watch the 2020 All Star Game on TV without knowing who’s in it only to find out that Brad Marchand was left off the team even though he’s currently 6th in league scoring (with 64 points– 10 points fewer than league leader, McDavid) or that anyone from the Detroit Red Wings or New Jersey Devils even made the team despite the former being on track for the worst regular season since the 2016-17 Colorado Avalanche?

Imagine the drama– then watch them play a 3-on-3 tournament!

Oh yeah, this also assumes that you’d somehow not spoil the rosters with the Skills Competition, but we can work those details out at a later time.

Categories
NHL Nick's Net

Bruins capitalize on, 7-3, win over Washington

The Boston Bruins routed the Washington Capitals, 7-3, on Monday night at TD Garden after scoring four goals in the first period on 11 shots.

Tuukka Rask (14-4-5 record, 2.32 goals against average, .923 save percentage in 23 games played) turned aside 39 out of 42 shots faced for a .929 SV% in the win for the Bruins.

Capitals goaltender, Braden Holtby (17-5-4, 2.87 GAA, .907 SV% in 27 games played) made seven saves on 11 shots against (6.36 SV%) before being replaced after the first period in the loss.

Ilya Samsonov (9-2-1, 2.39 GAA, .914 SV% in 13 games played) stopped three out of four shots faced (.750 SV%) for no decision after replacing Holtby for the final 40 minutes of action on Monday.

Boston improved to 22-7-9 (53 points) on the season and remained in 1st place in the Atlantic Division. Meanwhile, Washington fell to 26-7-5 (57 points) on the season and remained in 1st place in the
Metropolitan Division.

The B’s also improved to 13-1-8 at home this season with the victory.

Monday night marked the first time that the Bruins beat the Capitals at home since March 6, 2014. Gregory Campbell, Loui Eriksson and Brad Marchand each had a goal in Boston’s, 3-0, win that night.

Boston was without the services of Kevan Miller (knee), Karson Kuhlman (fractured tibia) and Zdeno Chara (infection) on Monday.

Miller missed his 38th game this season and has yet to make his season debut, while Kuhlman missed his 30th consecutive game since being injured in Toronto on Oct. 19th.

Chara, on the other hand, missed his 1st game this season due to injury after requiring surgery to take out the plates that were put in his jaw after originally breaking his jaw in Game 4 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final last June.

As a result, John Moore returned to the lineup and took over the left side of the top defensive pairing with Charlie McAvoy after missing the last two games with an illness.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made minor adjustments to his lineup, re-inserting Joakim Nordstrom on the fourth line while scratching Chris Wagner as a result.

Nordstrom returned to his fourth line left wing role, while Sean Kuraly moved up to the left side of the third line and Anders Bjork took over on the third line right wing with Wagner scratched.

Wagner and David Backes were the only healthy scratches for the B’s on Monday.

Nick Jensen caught Kuraly with a high stick and presented Boston with their first power play of the night at 1:30 of the first period.

The Bruins did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Moments later, Radko Gudas hooked Marchand at 5:28 of the opening frame and the B’s went back on the power play.

Nine seconds into the ensuing skater advantage, Jake DeBrusk (9) slid a rebound through Holtby’s five-hole to give Boston their first power play goal of the night and the, 1-0, lead at 5:37.

David Krejci (18) and Matt Grzelcyk (8) had the assists on DeBrusk’s goal.

For the third time this season, the Bruins scored first against the Capitals. Boston went 0-1-1 in their previous meetings with Washington entering Monday.

Almost midway through the first period, McAvoy tripped Lars Eller and received a minor penalty at 8:54.

The Caps couldn’t convert on the resulting skater advantage.

Less than five minutes later, Marchand (19) followed up on a rebound and pocketed the puck in the twine for his first goal in 12 games at 13:29.

David Pastrnak (24) and McAvoy (13) tallied the assists on Marchand’s goal and the Bruins extended their lead to, 2-0.

Boston scored again, 27 seconds later, when Bjork (6) fired a one-timer through Holtby’s seven-hole to give Boston a three-goal lead.

Charlie Coyle (12) tallied the only assist on Bjork’s goal at 13:56 and the B’s led, 3-0.

Less than a minute later, Connor Clifton and Garnet Hathaway both skated to the penalty box at 14:46, presenting both clubs with two minutes of 4-on-4 action while Clifton was in the sin bin for slashing and Hathaway was in the box for cross checking.

A few minutes later, Washington found themselves on the penalty kill once again– only this time the Capitals were going to be short by two skaters.

Boston had a full two-minute 5-on-3 power play as a result of Jakub Vrana tripping Pastrnak and Evgeny Kuznetsov slashing Krejci at 17:25 of the first period.

Less than a minute later, Patrice Bergeron (14) tipped in a shot from Pastrnak over Holtby’s blocker and gave the Bruins a four-goal lead.

Pastrnak (25) and Krejci (19) notched the assists on Bergeron’s power play goal at 18:57 and the B’s led, 4-0.

Bergeron’s goal marked the first time that the Bruins had a four-goal lead over Washington since Oct. 30, 2002– when Cassidy was then head coach of the Capitals– according to 98.5 The Sports Hub’s, Ty Anderson.

It was also the first four-goal first period this season for Boston.

After one period of play on Monday, Boston led Washington, 4-0, on the scoreboard and, 11-8, in shots on goal.

The Bruins also held the advantage in takeaways (5-2), giveaways (5-2) and faceoff win percentage (64-36), while the Caps led in blocked shots (7-2) and hits (12-8) entering the first intermission.

Washington was 0/1 on the skater advantage, while the B’s were 2/4 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

Capitals head coach, Todd Reirden, replaced Holtby with Samsonov to start the second period and Washington limited Boston’s chances to score for the remainder of the night.

DeBrusk slashed Gudas at 2:05 of the second period and was sent to the penalty box as a result, but the Caps didn’t convert on the ensuing power play.

After killing off DeBrusk’s minor, Krejci was the next Bruin to take a skate to the sin bin and serve a minor infraction for tripping Dmitry Orlov at 5:06.

Wes McCauley blew the whistle to make the call despite Boston not having possession of the puck and a would be Washington own goal taking place at the same time, but the league ruled the play “not reviewable”.

In the meantime, Bruins defender, Torey Krug, quietly exited the game down the tunnel after taking a huge hit from Tom Wilson. Krug did not return in the third period and was ruled out for the night with an upper body injury as Boston later tweeted.

While shorthanded, Marchand sent Coyle (7) on a breakaway whereby the B’s third liner scored on Samsonov’s glove side for his 100th career NHL goal.

Marchand (34) had the only assist on Coyle’s shorthanded goal and the Bruins led, 5-0, at 6:55 of the second period.

Late in the middle frame, Alex Ovechkin (23) wired a shot over Rask’s blocker with traffic in front of the net to disrupt Rask’s shutout attempt and cut Boston’s lead to four goals.

Wilson (14) and John Carlson (35) had the assists as Washington trailed, 5-1, at 14:35.

Less than 20 seconds later, Carlson slashed Kuraly and was assessed a minor infraction at 14:53, but the B’s did not capitalize on the resulting power play.

Through 40 minutes of action on Monday, Boston led Washington, 5-1, on the scoreboard and trailed the Caps, 25-13, in shots on goal as Washington outshot Boston, 17-2, in the second period alone.

The Capitals also held the advantage in takeaways (8-7) and hits (25-16), while the Bruins led in blocked shots (10-8), giveaways (9-2) and faceoff win% (54-46) heading into the final frame of regulation.

Washington was 0/3 on the power play and Boston was 2/5.

Ovechkin kicked things off with a holding penalty at 4:59 of the third period, but Boston wasn’t able to convert on the ensuing power play and was caught with too many men on the ice in the vulnerable minute after their advantage ended at 7:28.

The Capitals, however, couldn’t score on the power play while DeBrusk served the bench minor.

Midway through the final frame of regulation, Wilson hit Pastrnak, then speared him, which led to the two players exchanging pleasantries near the benches and an ensuing scrum at center ice began between the two clubs.

Wilson and Pastrnak each received roughing minors at 13:26, but Wilson earned an extra misconduct for his actions.

Meanwhile, Boston had ended up with too many skaters as a result of a line change as things escalated between Pastrnak and Wilson, so Washington ended up with a power play opportunity as DeBrusk went back to the box to serve the Bruins’ bench minor.

Lars Eller (8) redirected Vrana’s shot under Rask’s glove and brought the Capitals to within three goals at 15:29.

Vrana (16) and Gudas (10) collected the assists on Eller’s goal as Washington trailed, 5-2, with less than five minutes left in the action.

Reirden pulled Samsonov for an extra attacker with about 3:40 remaining in regulation, but Krejci (8) tallied an empty net goal shortly thereafter once Kuraly picked off Ovechkin’s attempt to send the puck out of Washington’s defensive zone.

Kuraly (10) had the only assist on Krejci’s goal and the B’s led, 6-2, at 16:50 of the third period.

Less than a minute later, Hathaway (6) cleaned up a mishap to cut Boston’s lead to two goals as Jonas Siegenthaler bounced the puck off the endboards and Hathaway pounced on the loose puck for the goal.

Rask misread the play as his defenders opted not to reach for the puck thinking their goaltender would get it, but Rask thought his defense would get it instead and thus– Washington collected a goal as Boston was stuck in no man’s land.

Siegenthaler (6) had the only assist on Hathaway’s goal at 17:47 and the Bruins led, 6-3.

With 2:07 remaining in the game, Samsonov once again vacated the goal for an extra attacker, but Boston made sure to put the game away as Bergeron (15) collected his second goal of the game– this time on an empty net.

Bergeron’s empty net goal was assisted by Marchand (35) and Pastrnak (26) at 19:32 of the third period and sealed the deal on a, 7-3, victory for the Bruins.

This, after T.J. Oshie leveled McAvoy along the benches, ending the young defender’s night early, but avoiding any major injury as Cassidy indicated to reporters after the game.

Boston finished the night trailing Washington in shots on goal, 42-17, but led in blocked shots (13-10) and giveaways (10-8).

Meanwhile, the Capitals held the advantage in hits (40-19) and were even with the Bruins in faceoff win% (50-50) at the end of the game.

Washington went 0/5 and Boston went 2/6 on the power play on Monday.

The Bruins improved to 15-5-5 when scoring the game’s first goal, 13-3-1 when leading after the first period and 12-0-3 when leading after two periods this season.

Boston finished their four-game homestand (1-0-3) and enters the holiday break 21-7-9 overall on the season. The Bruins travel to Buffalo to take on the Sabres in a home-and-home on Dec. 27th before hosting Jack Eichel and his teammates on Dec. 29th. The B’s finish off the month of December in New Jersey on Dec. 31st.

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Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #181- Hall-iday Shopping

What’s the right price to pay for Taylor Hall? Plus, Cap’n Cornelius joins the show to talk about new NHL policies and coaching changes.

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