Tag Archives: Alex Ovechkin

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Washington capitalizes on, 3-2, shootout win in Boston

Braden Holtby and the Washington Capitals came back to beat the Boston Bruins, 3-2, in a shootout on Saturday at TD Garden.

Holtby (10-1-3 record, 2.98 goals against average, .904 save percentage in 15 games played) is now 13-1-0 in his last 14 starts against Boston and made 21 saves on 23 shots against (.913 SV%) in the win for the Caps.

Jaroslav Halak (4-1-3, 2.57 GAA, .924 SV% in eight games played) stopped 42 out of 44 shots faced for a .955 SV% in the shootout loss.

Prior to puck drop, the Bruins held a moment of remembrance for Worcester firefighter, Jason Menard, who was killed while battling a fire on Wednesday.

Menard rescued a probationary firefighter and another member of his crew before a mayday was called around 1:32 in the morning after conditions worsened on the third floor of the three-decker building.

The Bruins fell to 12-3-5 (29 points) on the season, but remain 1st in the Atlantic Division after the loss.

Meanwhile, Washington is still in command of 1st place in the Metropolitan Division with a 15-3-4 record and 34 points on the season so far.

Boston fell to 7-0-4 at home as a result of Saturday’s loss.

Steven Kampfer served as Boston’s only healthy scratch with Kevan Miller (knee), John Moore (shoulder), Karson Kuhlman (fractured tibia), David Backes (upper body), Jake DeBrusk (lower body), Brett Ritchie (upper body), Torey Krug (upper body) and Zach Senyshyn (lower body) out of the lineup due to injury.

Joining them in the press box Saturday night was Patrice Bergeron (lower body), who sustained some discomfort during Friday night’s matchup in Toronto.

As a result, Paul Carey was recalled from the Providence Bruins (AHL).

The 31-year-old center has 13 points (seven goals, six assists) in 17 games with Providence this season and skated in his 100th career NHL game as a result of being recalled on Saturday.

Krug, in the meantime, was placed on the injured reserve on Saturday, despite skating earlier in the morning with Ritchie, DeBrusk and Moore.

Of the injured Bruins, Ritchie is the closest to returning to the lineup, according to B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy.

Cassidy juggled his lines from Friday night to Saturday night thanks to Bergeron’s day-to-day status, moving David Krejci up to center the first line with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak as his wings, while reuniting Anders Bjork, Charlie Coyle and Danton Heinen as a trio on the second line.

Boston’s usual fourth liners– Joakim Nordstrom, Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner– were promoted to third line duties, while Trent Frederic, Par Lindholm and Carey comprised of the new fourth line for Saturday night’s action.

The defensive pairings remained the same from Friday night against the Maple Leafs to Saturday night against the Capitals.

Midway through the opening period, Pastrnak hooked Jakub Vrana and was sent to the penalty box. The Caps didn’t convert on the ensuing power play at 8:03 of the first period.

In the vulnerable minute after special teams play, Heinen worked the puck deep into Boston’s attacking zone, then sent a pass to Coyle (4) as Coyle crashed the net and redirected the puck through Holtby’s five-hole– giving the Bruins a, 1-0, lead at 11:32 of the first period.

Heinen (5) and Charlie McAvoy (5) notched the assists on the goal.

The goal extended Coyle’s current point streak to four games (a career-high).

Moments later, Travis Boyd (1) tipped in a shot from the point while standing in front of Halak, tying the game, 1-1, in the process.

John Carlson (24) and Brendan Leipsic (5) tallied the assists on Boyd’s goal at 14:27.

With less than a minute remaining in the opening frame, Radko Gudas hooked Marchand and was sent to the sin bin, leaving Washington shorthanded into the second period as Boston couldn’t score on the skater advantage before time expired in the first period.

After one period in Boston, the score was tied, 1-1, while the Capitals led in shots on goal, 18-9. It was the most shots allowed by the Bruins in the first period at any point this season, but the B’s led in blocked shots (4-0) and takeaways (4-3) to make up for it.

Washington also managed the advantage in giveaways (9-3), hits (13-11) and faceoff win percentage (72-28) entering the first intermission.

Both teams were 0/1 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

The Capitals killed off the remainder of Gudas’ penalty early in the second period as things resumed at TD Garden.

Early in the period, McAvoy missed an empty net, sending the puck wide and off the endboards, whereby Pastrnak (17) gathered the carom and banked the puck into the twine to give Boston the lead, 2-1, at 3:30 of the second period.

McAvoy (6) and Krejci (9) picked up the assists on the goal as the Bruins surged out of the gate for the middle frame before falling back on a heavy defensive presence in their own zone for the remainder of the period.

About a minute later, Heinen hooked Leipsic and was sent to the box at 4:42.

Washington did not convert on the resulting skater advantage and responded with a penalty of their own midway through the period.

Holtby tripped up Carey as the Bruins forward skated by the crease, yielding a minor infraction for the Capitals goaltender that was served by Leipsic at 10:05.

With 16 seconds left in the period, Evgeny Kuznetsov cross checked McAvoy and was charged with a minor penalty at 19:44, meaning the B’s would still be on the power play into the third period if they couldn’t score by the end of the second period.

Boston didn’t score and carried their advantage into the third period as the Bruins led, 2-1, through 40 minutes of action Saturday night.

The Caps led in shots on goal, 30-15, after two periods– including a, 12-6, advantage in the second period alone– and held the advantage in takeaways (9-8), giveaways (11-9), hits (21-16) and faceoff win% (72-28), while the Bruins led in blocked shots (10-0).

Washington was 0/2 on the power play through two periods and Boston was 0/3 on the skater advantage in that same span.

Midway through the final frame of regulation, Tom Wilson tried to mix things up with McAvoy after each player had big hits in the third period.

Wilson grabbed hold of McAvoy’s stick– but was not penalized for holding the stick– and exchanged words with the young defender until Bruins captain, Zdeno Chara, skated over to offer his opinion on the subject matter– at which point, Wilson fell over and the two (Chara and Wilson) were assessed roughing minors at 13:59 of the third period.

The two teams survived 4-on-4 action unscathed for two minutes before returning to full strength.

With 1:22 left in the third period, Capitals head coach, Todd Reirden, pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker and it was very effective.

T.J. Oshie (10) blasted a one-timer from the low slot over Halak’s glove side to tie the game, 2-2, at 19:01 of the third period.

Kuznetsov (11) and Nicklas Backstrom (13) had the assists on Oshie’s goal as Washington force overtime.

After regulation, the score was tied, 2-2, and the Caps led the B’s in shots on goal, 41-21– including an, 11-6, advantage for Washington in the third period alone.

Boston led in blocked shots (11-5), while Washington led in takeaways (14-12), giveaways (20-13), hits (28-23) and faceoff win% (66-34).

The Capitals finished the night 0/2 on the power play and the Bruins finished 0/3 on the skater advantage as there were no more penalties called after 60 minutes of play.

Kuznetsov, Carlson, Wilson, Coyle, Marchand and McAvoy were the starters in overtime for both teams as the two squads couldn’t get the job done in the five-minute allotted extra frame of 3-on-3 action.

Washington led in shots on goal, 3-2, in overtime alone, bringing their shot total advantage to, 44-23.

Boston finished the night leading in blocked shots (11-5), but trailing the Capitals in giveaways (20-15), hits (28-23) and faceoff win% (67-33).

In the shootout, the B’s elected to shoot second, yielding Oshie as the shootout’s first shooter for Washington.

Oshie skated his way in toward Halak and tried to fire one past the Bruins netminder’s glove, but Halak made the save.

Coyle followed up with Boston’s first attempt of the shootout and slid one through Holtby’s five-hole to give the Bruins a, 1-0, advantage after one shootout round.

Kuznetsov hit the post to the right of Halak and couldn’t muster the puck into the twine, leaving Pastrnak with the chance to win it as Boston’s second shooter.

Instead, Pastrnak went for the gaping five-hole that Holtby quickly squeezed his pads together to close after poking the puck off of Pastrnak’s stick and letting the rubber biscuit slide through his legs with just enough time to cover it comfortably.

Next up, Backstrom wired a shot into the back of the net on Halak’s glove side– keeping Washington’s shootout hopes alive.

With the game on his stick, Marchand tried to do exactly what every Bruin has done in just about every shootout attempt this season– aim for the five-hole.

Marchand was unsuccessful.

In the fourth round of the shootout, the Caps sent in their best shot– Alex Ovechkin.

Ovechkin tried to sneak it past Halak, low on his glove side, but the Boston goaltender dove in desperation and robbed the Washington captain– barely getting his glove around the puck before Ovechkin could sneak it over the goal line.

In response, Cassidy sent Krejci out to try to win the game with the last shot in the fourth round of the shootout.

But Krejci also opted for the predictable five-hole and did not score, leaving the fate of the game undecided.

Vrana opened the fifth round of the shootout with a toe-drag that left Halak doing the splits, which was just enough to let Vrana elevate the puck over Halak’s leg pads and into the net.

Boston had to score on their next shot or else the shootout (and the game) would be over.

As such, Wagner was presented the opportunity to extend the shootout, but he too, tried to go five-hole on Holtby, who didn’t face much pressure on the shot as the puck trickled through the crease and wide of the goalframe.

The Capitals had won.

Washington improved to 3-1 in shootouts this season, while Boston fell to 0-4 in such instances.

Holtby improved to 25-14 overall in shootouts in his career as Halak stumbled to 32-33 in shootouts.

The Bruins fell to 7-0-2 when leading after two periods this season and 10-2-3 when scoring the game’s first goal.

Boston travels to New Jersey to take on the Devils next Tuesday (Nov. 19th) before a two-game homestand against Buffalo (Nov. 21st) and Minnesota (Nov. 23rd).

The B’s close out November with back to back nights in Montreal (Nov. 26th) and Ottawa (Nov. 27th) before finishing the month at home against the New York Rangers in a Black Friday matinee on Nov. 29th.

DTFR Podcast #177- And A Dollar Short

2020 Winter Classic sweater reviews, a standings update and Top-10 NHL power rankings.

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2019-20 League Forecast Entering November

For the first time this season, the calendar is flipped to a new month– and with a new month comes new expectations.

All 31 National Hockey League teams are starting to find a rhythm– for better or worse– and it’s time to acknowledge the general trends of what to expect based on what’s already happened for the first 1/8th of the season (approximately).

American Thanksgiving is still around the corner, which means that any team in a playoff position by Nov. 28th is more likely to qualify for the playoffs by April 4th.

There’s enough time between now and then for a lot to change.

As always, that means it’s time for a new forecast based on what we’ve seen so far and what we may see in the future.

In other words, here’s an educated guess based on a formulaic approach thanks to the wonderful world of spreadsheets.

This isn’t an exact science. It takes into account everything from the last few seasons, as well as every little detail through the end of Oct. 31, 2019.

Anything can happen. It’s a long road to April.

Projected Standings After One Month

Eastern Conference

Atlantic Division

  1. p-Boston Bruins, 110 points (12 games played entering November 1st)
  2. x-Tampa Bay Lightning, 106 points (12 GP)
  3. x-Montreal Canadiens, 92 points (13 GP)
  4. Florida Panthers, 91 points (13 GP)
  5. Toronto Maple Leafs, 91 points (14 GP)
  6. Buffalo Sabres, 82 points (13 GP)
  7. Detroit Red Wings, 79 points (13 GP)
  8. Ottawa Senators, 74 points (11 GP)

The Boston Bruins are off to a hot start thanks to Tuukka Rask’s stellar goaltending (6-0-1 record, 1.42 goals against average, .951 save percentage in seven games played) and David Pastrnak’s hot stick (12-12–24 totals in 12 games played).

Bruce Cassidy’s leadership behind the bench has steered the B’s away from a Stanley Cup Final appearance hangover and towards another playoff berth for what would be the fourth year in-a-row.

Meanwhile, after a slow start to their season, Jon Cooper and the Tampa Bay Lightning casually waltz into home ice advantage in at least the First Round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs and Claude Julien re-enters the postseason frame with the Montreal Canadiens as if it’s 2004 again (granted, Julien and the Habs made it in 2017, but only after Julien replaced Michel Therrien as head coach for the second time).

Joel Quenneville’s first season as head coach of the Florida Panthers led to an improvement, but not quite enough to get them back into the postseason, while another Stanely Cup winning coach took his team in a different direction.

That coach is Mike Babcock and that team is the Toronto Maple Leafs, who trudged through the middle of the road all season and ended up just outside of a wild card spot in the Eastern Conference (unless Kyle Dubas and Brendan Shanahan decide to stray from the “Shanaplan”).

Though the Buffalo Sabres are hot right now, it seems history repeats itself. Buffalo’s great October, November and/or December wasn’t enough to sustain themselves through the winer months of January, February and March, but overall the team improved and should be a playoff contender next season.

At least the Sabres aren’t the Detroit Red Wings (still a few years away from being a contender) or the Ottawa Senators (they say they’ll spend money in 2021, but…).

Metropolitan Division

  1. y-Washington Capitals, 110 points (14 GP)
  2. x-Pittsburgh Penguins, 102 points (13 GP)
  3. x-New York Islanders, 95 points (11 GP)
  4. wc1-Carolina Hurricanes, 92 points (12 GP)
  5. wc2-Columbus Blue Jackets, 91 points (12 GP)
  6. Philadelphia Flyers, 89 points (11 GP)
  7. New York Rangers, 87 points (10 GP)
  8. New Jersey Devils, 81 points (10 GP)

Alex Ovechkin continues his annual quest for the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy and likely succeeds unless Pastrnak has anything to say about it.

In the meantime, the Washington Capitals continue to take home the regular season crown in the Metropolitan Division because somehow they always seem to do that no matter the postseason outcome.

The Pittsburgh Penguins avoid major missteps without Evgeni Malkin in the lineup for most of October due to injury and turned things on for the duration of the second half of the season as they always do, yielding 2nd place in the Metropolitan Division.

Barry Trotz’s leadership with the New York Islanders has keep things tight-knit and playoff bound, but unless every 2020 Stanley Cup Playoff home game for the Isles is played at NYCB Live/Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, then it’s not worth it.

Rod Brind’Amour is the best coach for the Carolina Hurricanes and he continues to climb the ranks of “best head coaches in franchise history” with another wild card appearance, at least, and what should be yet another thrilling playoff run for the Canes.

Meanwhile, somehow the Columbus Blue Jackets pieced together enough wins to snag the last wild card spot in the Eastern Conference before bowing out in the First Round due to a lack of depth.

Finally, the Philadelphia Flyers, New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils are all near the bottom of the division, but only with a few points spread between them– meaning that anything after 1st or 2nd place in the division is realistically up for grabs as long as a team goes on a perfectly timed run.

Western Conference

Central Division

  1. z-Nashville Predators, 104 points (13 GP)
  2. x-St. Louis Blues, 101 points (13 GP)
  3. x-Winnipeg Jets, 93 points (13 GP)
  4. wc1-Colorado Avalanche, 92 points (12 GP)
  5. Chicago Blackhawks, 87 points (11 GP)
  6. Dallas Stars, 86 points (14 GP)
  7. Minnesota Wild, 85 points (13 GP)

In the Western Conference, the Nashville Predators are going to pounce on the competition as the leaders of the West in the regular season. The only trouble is, they still might blow it in the last second of overtime or something.

The defending champion St. Louis Blues are content to finish 2nd in the Central Division, but remain hungry in their quest for another Cup.

After a slow start to the season, Paul Maurice and the Winnipeg Jets somehow right the ship and earned themselves the last divisional spot in the Central Division.

But the Colorado Avalanche hold a wild card spot in the latest forecast as the real wild card of the entire Western Conference. Injuries could hold them back in the regular season, but they’ve shown they can make noise in the playoffs last spring.

Otherwise, if the Avs can stay healthy for longer periods of time, then Colorado could climb in the standings.

Finally, the Chicago Blackhawks are still trending in the wrong direction– facing the existential crisis of holding onto the old guard or continuing to dismantle their Cup-winning core– while the Dallas Stars and Minnesota Wild compete for the worst of the former and/or current Minnesota franchises this season.

Spoiler alert, it’s the Wild.

Pacific Division

  1. y-Vegas Golden Knights, 101 points (14 GP)
  2. x-Anaheim Ducks, 96 points (14 GP)
  3. x-San Jose Sharks, 92 points (13 GP)
  4. wc2-Calgary Flames, 91 points (15 GP)
  5. Vancouver Canucks, 89 points (12 GP)
  6. Edmonton Oilers, 84 points (14 GP)
  7. Arizona Coyotes, 82 points (12 GP)
  8. Los Angeles Kings, 82 points (13 GP)

Nothing is going how things were expected to go in the Pacific Division and as a result, there’s still no conclusive results.

The Vegas Golden Knights are good and could likely win the Pacific Division regular season title, but the Anaheim Ducks aren’t bowing out of playoff contention just yet.

Meanwhile, the San Jose Sharks are as bad as the Los Angeles Kings, so this forecast will be further fine-tuned next month as the Sharks continue to slip from dominant to dormant in the standings.

The Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers all might take a stab at playoff contention, yet the Arizona Coyotes are on the rise.

At the very least, this is the most unpredictable division in the league that not even our current forecast can make any definitive claims.

Check back next month for further separation in the spread, as well as a more realistic view of where each team should likely land within the range of standings.

DTFR Podcast #174- Coaching Conundrums

Some firsts, 100s, broken fingers and pointing fingers– who should be concerned about their job security behind the bench? Plus Cap’n and Pete are back.

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DTFR Podcast #172- Participation Trophies After One Game (Part IV)

The 2019-20 season has begun, so naturally we handed out awards in our 4th Annual Participation Trophies After One Game ceremony.

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Washington Capitals 2019-20 Season Preview

Washington Capitals

48-26-8, 104 points, 1st in the Metropolitan Division

Eliminated in the First Round by Carolina

Additions: F Garnet Hathaway, F Brendan Leipsic, F Philippe Maillet, F Richard Panik, D Radko Gudas (acquired from PHI)

Subtractions: F Riley Barber (signed with MTL), F Mathias Bau (EBEL), F Andre Burakovsky (traded to COL), F Brett Connolly (signed with FLA), F Hampus Gustafsson (SHL), F Dmitrij Jaskin (KHL), F Jayson Megna (signed with COL), F Mason Mitchell (signed with Rochester, AHL), F Devante Smith-Pelly (signed to a PTO with CGY), F Nathan Walker (signed with STL), D Aaron Ness (signed with ARI), D Matt Niskanen (traded to PHI), D Brooks Orpik (retired), G Parker Milner (signed with Hershey, AHL)

Still Unsigned: F Scott Kosmachuk (rights acquired from COL)

Re-signed: F Chandler Stephenson, F Jakub Vrana, D Christian Djoos, D Colby Williams, G Vitek Vanecek

Offseason Analysis: The Washington Capitals have earned themselves a little grace period after winning the Cup in 2018, but don’t let that fool you from some of the poor choices they made this offseason.

Whether or not they would’ve had the money to keep Brett Connolly from joining the Florida Panthers in free agency after posting a career year with 22-24–46 totals in 81 games is besides the point.

The Caps made a lot of odd decisions.

For starters, they signed Garnet Hathaway (19 points in 76 games for Calgary last season), Brendan Leipsic (23 points in 62 games with Vancouver and Los Angeles) and Richard Panik (33 points in 75 gamed for Arizona).

Sure, Hathaway and Panik are durable top-nine forwards that are likely to see an increase in their offensive numbers by virtue of being on the same team as Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, but to have them for four years as your mid-range forwards with Carl Hagelin and Lars Eller might just catch up to you at some point.

At least Leipsic has always been in demand on waivers and is a good option to plug somewhere in the lineup or send down to the Hershey Bears (AHL).

Meanwhile, Capitals General Manager, Brian MacLellan, worked the phones this summer to trade Matt Niskanen to the Philadelphia Flyers for Radko Gudas in a one-for-one swap and dealt Andre Burakovsky to the Colorado Avalanche for Scott Kosmachuk (unsigned), a 2020 2nd round pick and a 2020 3rd round pick.

It might seem like an overpay for Avalanche GM, Joe Sakic, but Burakovsky’s looking to prove himself in the biggest role he’s ever had and it wouldn’t hurt Washington to restock their prospect pool as a result.

In the meantime, Gudas is almost assured of doing something to yield a suspension, which may or may not hurt the Capitals more than Evgeny Kuznetsov’s three-game suspension to start the regular season may already do.

Kuznetsov was suspended by the league for “inappropriate conduct”, in which he failed a drug test and was banned from international competition by the International Ice Hockey Federation for four years.

The NHL, on the other hand, doesn’t have a policy for testing positive for cocaine.

Washington’s head coach, Todd Reirden, is entering his second season at the reigns behind the bench and has plenty of fresh faces to utilize in effort to avoid another seven-game First Round elimination at the hands of the Carolina Hurricanes.

Don’t get too comfortable in Washington as Braden Holtby is due for an extension by season’s end or else he may walk in free agency.

Offseason Grade: D+

The Capitals could contend for another Cup in the next few years or they could continue to slide towards irrelevancy faster than the current trend the Pittsburgh Penguins are on.

Neither fan base wants to hear that, let alone be compared to one another in such a similar manner, but it’s true. None of their free agent additions even remotely scream “decent depth signing” or anything.