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2022 NHL Entry Draft Round 1 Recap

Round 1 of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft was held Thursday night at Bell Centre in Montréal, Québec marking the first time since the 2019 NHL Entry Draft in Vancouver that the selections were made in person in front of a live audience as the 2020 and 2021 editions of the draft were held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coverage of this year’s first round began Thursday night at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN and streaming on ESPN+ in the United States, as well as on SN and TVAS in Canada.

Rounds 2-7 will be televised on NHL Network and ESPN+ in the U.S., while viewers in Canada can tune to SN or TVAS starting at 11 a.m. ET Friday morning.

Here’s a quick recap of the First Round in case you had other things going on Thursday night.

2022 NHL Entry Draft Round 1

  1. Montréal Canadiens – LW Juraj Slafkovsky, TPS (Liiga)
  2. New Jersey Devils – D Simon Nemec, Nitra (Slovakia)
  3. Arizona Coyotes – C Logan Cooley, USA U-18 (USHL)
  4. Seattle Kraken – C Shane Wright, Kingston (OHL)
  5. Philadelphia Flyers – C/LW Cutter Gauthier, USA U-18 (USHL)
  6. Columbus Blue Jackets (from Chicago) – D David Jiricek, Plzen (Extraliga)
  7. Chicago (from Ottawa Senators) – D Kevin Korchinski, Seattle (WHL)
  8. Detroit Red Wings – C Marco Kasper, Rögle BK (SHL)
  9. Buffalo Sabres – C Matthew Savoie, Winnipeg (WHL)
  10. Anaheim Ducks – D Pavel Mintyukov, Saginaw (OHL)
  11. Arizona Coyotes (from San Jose Sharks) – C Conor Geekie, Winnipeg (WHL)
  12. Columbus Blue Jackets – D Denton Mateychuk, Moose Jaw (WHL)
  13. Chicago (from New York Islanders via Montréal Canadiens) – C Frank Nazar, USA-U18 (USHL)
  14. Winnipeg Jets – RW Rutger McGroarty, USA U-18 (USHL)
  15. Vancouver Canucks – RW Jonathan Lekkerimäki, Djurgårdens IF (SHL)
  16. Buffalo Sabres (from Vegas Golden Knights) – C Noah Ostlund, Djurgårdens IF (SHL)
  17. Nashville Predators – RW Joakim Kemell, JYP (Liiga)
  18. Dallas Stars – D Lian Bichsel, Leksands IF (SHL)
  19. Minnesota Wild (from Los Angeles Kings) – LW Liam Ohgren, Djurgårdens IF (SHL)
  20. Washington Capitals – RW Ivan Miroshnichenko, Omsk Krylia (Russia)
  21. Pittsburgh Penguins – D Owen Pickering, Swift Current (WHL)
  22. Anaheim Ducks (from Boston Bruins) – C Nathan Gaucher, Québec (QMJHL)
  23. St. Louis Blues – RW Jimmy Snuggerud, USA U-18 (USHL)
  24. Minnesota Wild – RW Danila Yurov, Magnitogorsk (Russia)
  25. Chicago (from Toronto Maple Leafs) – D Sam Rinzel, Chaska (High School- Minnesota)
  26. Montréal Canadiens (from Calgary Flames) – RW Filip Mesar, Poprad (Slovakia)
  27. San Jose Sharks (from Carolina Hurricanes via Montréal Canadiens and Arizona Coyotes) – C Filip Bystedt, Linköping HC (SHL)
  28. Buffalo Sabres (from Florida Panthers) – C Jiri Kulich, Karlovy Vary (Extraliga)
  29. Arizona Coyotes (from Edmonton Oilers) – D Maveric Lamoureux, Drummondville (QMJHL)
  30. Winnipeg Jets (from New York Rangers) – C Brad Lambert, Pelicans (Liiga)
  31. Tampa Bay Lightning – LW Isaac Howard, USA U-18 (USHL)
  32. Edmonton Oilers (from Colorado Avalanche via Arizona Coyotes) – LW Reid Schaefer, Seattle (WHL)

Trades made during the first round of the draft:

  • The Montréal Canadiens trade D Alexander Romanov and the 98th overall pick to the New York Islanders for a 2022 1st round pick (13th overall).
  • Montréal traded a 2022 1st round pick (13th overall, originally belonging to the New York Islanders) and a 2022 3rd round pick (66th overall) Chicago for D Kirby Dach.
  • The San Jose Sharks traded a 2022 1st round pick (11th overall) to the Arizona Coyotes for a 2022 1st round pick (27th overall), a 2022 2nd round pick (34th overall) and a 2022 2nd round pick (45th overall).
  • Chicago acquired G Petr Mrázek and a 2022 1st round pick (25th overall) from the Toronto Maple Leafs for a 2022 2nd round pick (38th overall).
  • The Arizona Coyotes acquired F Zack Kassian, a 2022 1st round pick (29th overall), a 2024 3rd round pick and a 2025 2nd round pick from the Edmonton Oilers for a 2022 1st round pick (32nd overall).

Trades made earlier in the day prior to the first round of the draft:

  • The Colorado Avalanche acquired G Alexandar Georgiev from the New York Rangers in exchange for a 2022 3rd round pick, a 2022 5th round pick and a 2023 3rd round pick.
  • The Ottawa Senators traded a 2022 1st round pick (7th overall), a 2022 2nd round pick (39th overall) and a 2024 3rd round pick to Chicago for F Alex DeBrincat.
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Rangers complete comeback via lengthy shootout victory against Bruins

For the 12th time this season, the New York Rangers gave up the game’s first goal and came back to win despite Igor Shesterkin making a brief departure and reappearance in the, 2-1, shootout victory over the Boston Bruins Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.

Shesterkin (23-5-2, 2.05 goals-against average, .938 save percentage in 30 games played) made 31 saves on 32 shots faced and may have been a bit overdramatic in incidental contact that yielded a goaltender interference penalty, as well as a roughing minor about midway through overtime– necessitating the use of Alexandar Georgiev (7-7-2, 2.99 goals-against average, .898 save percentage in 20 games played) before Shesterkin could return for the shootout for no decision in about 41 seconds of playing time.

Did you get that? Shesterkin played all but 41 seconds on Tuesday night in the shootout victory and Georgiev’s brief appearance yielded no shots faced in the dying 41 seconds of overtime.

Apparently, there’s no strict adherence to the “15-minute rule” if a concussion spotter rules you out of a game for a checkup after regulation.

Anyway, Bruins goaltender, Jeremy Swayman (9-7-3, 2.15 goals-against average, .923 save percentage in 20 games played), made 33 saves on 34 shots against in the shootout loss.

Boston fell to 27-16-4 (58 points) on the season and remain in command of 4th place in the Atlantic Division, as well as the second wild card berth in the Eastern Conference.

The Rangers, meanwhile, improved to 31-13-4 (66 points) overall and in control of 3rd place in the Metropolitan Division– one point behind the Carolina Hurricanes for 2nd and four points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the division lead.

Having previously lost, 5-2, on Nov. 26th at TD Garden, the B’s fell to 0-1-1 in their season series against New York with one more regular season matchup remaining on April 23rd in Boston.

Boston went 5-3-0 against the Rangers last season and 3-0-0 against “The Broadway Blueshirts” in 2019-20.

Matt Grzelcyk made his return to the lineup alongside Brandon Carlo on the second defensive pairing after suffering an upper body injury against the Hurricanes on Feb. 10th.

Once again, the Bruins were without Jakub Zboril (right ACL), Urho Vaakanainen (upper body), Patrice Bergeron (upper body) and Brad Marchand (suspension) on Tuesday.

Vaakanainen and Bergeron are close to returning, though it may or may not be later this week.

Bergeron has been in a burgundy no-contact practice jersey for the last couple of days and could join the team on Long Island for their matchup with the Islanders on Thursday.

B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made no other changes to his lineup from Saturday afternoon’s, 2-0, victory in Ottawa to Tuesday night in New York.

Erik Haula took part in his 500th career National Hockey League game, while Mike Reilly participated in his 300th career NHL game.

Bergeron, Jack Ahcan, Vaakanainen, Marchand and Zboril made up the list of injured players and healthy scratches out of the action against the Rangers.

Charlie Coyle capitalized on a turnover in New York’s own zone as the Rangers brought the puck back into their own end inadvertently early in the opening frame.

Coyle setup Craig Smith for a one-timer, but the puck rebounded right in Coyle’s (11) direction for a layup goal while crashing the net– giving Boston a, 1-0, lead at 3:39 of the first period.

Smith (9) had the only assist on the goal.

The two teams then went about eight and a half minutes without a stoppage in the action before the next faceoff.

Neither team could score for the rest of the first period and there were no penalties called, so the Bruins took a, 1-0, lead into the first intermission and outshot the Rangers, 8-2, in the process.

Boston had allowed their fewest shots against in any first period (let alone any period) this season as a result.

Both teams had four blocked shots and two takeaways each, while the two clubs split faceoff win percentage, 50-50, after 20 mintues.

New York led in giveaways (5-3) and hits (16-15) heading into the middle frame, while each team had yet to see any time on the skater advantage.

There were no goals and no penalties in the second period.

Through 40 minutes, the Bruins led, 1-0, on the scoreboard. Both teams had 17 shots on net after two periods, despite the Rangers leading in shots on goal in the second period alone, 15-9.

New York led in blocked shots (11-7), giveaways (7-6) and hits (28-22), while Boston held the advantage in takeaways (6-4).

The two teams split faceoff win%, 50-50, and had yet to see any time on the power play heading into the final frame of regulation.

Braden Schneider sent an indirect pass off the boards through the neutral zone to Dryden Hunt, who promptly sent the rubber biscuit over to Filip Chytil for a shot on goal.

Chytil (5) followed up on his own rebound and tied the game, 1-1, at 6:45 of the third period.

Hunt (6) and Schneider (3) tallied the assists on Chytil’s goal as the Rangers surged in momentum to start the third period.

Midway through the final frame, K’Andre Miller tripped Coyle and presented the first power play of the night to the Bruins at 11:48 of the third period.

Boston’s power play was powerless as they couldn’t muster anything past Shesterkin– let alone get set up in the attacking zone.

About a minute after Miller was out of the box, Tomáš Nosek and Jacob Trouba cut a rut to their respective penalty boxes as Nosek was guilty of delivering a swift cross check, while Trouba earned a roughing minor for retaliating– this after a Rangers skater perhaps got away with a cross check that set things off– angering Nosek in the process.

The two teams skated at 4-on-4 for two minutes as a result of Nosek and Trouba’s infractions at 14:44 of the third period.

Less than two minutes later, Charlie McAvoy tripped up Miller and yielded a 4-on-3 power play to the Rangers at 16:32.

After 12 seconds of a rare 4-on-3 advantage, New York continued on an abbreviated 5-on-4 power play and failed to convert on the skater advantage.

After 60 minutes of action, the Bruins and Rangers were tied, 1-1, on the scoreboard despite Boston leading in shots on goal, 29-28– including a, 12-11, advantage in the third period alone.

Both teams had 13 blocked shots, eight takeaways and nine giveaways each.

New York led in hits (35-25) and faceoff win% (56-44) heading into overtime.

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

Cassidy sent out Coyle, Jake DeBrusk and McAvoy to start overtime, while Rangers head coach, Gerard Gallant, countered with Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider and Adam Fox.

About midway into overtime, Smith crashed the net hard despite coming to a stop at the crease and his momentum carried him into Shesterkin sending the Rangers goaltender flying (albeit somewhat under his own volition to draw a penalty).

Alexis Lafrenière took issue with Smith’s hard play and began to go after the Bruins forward– generating a scrum as a result.

Smith was assessed a minor penalty for goaltender interference, while Lafrenière received a roughing infraction at 2:48 of the overtime period.

The two teams then skated at 3-on-3 for two minutes (you know, as overtime is already) until Smith and Lafrenière returned from the box with seconds left in overtime– rendering it 4-on-4 for about six seconds.

A stoppage with about 40 seconds left in overtime also presented concussion spotters inside Madison Square Garden with the perfect chance to remove Shesterkin from the game– you know, about two minutes after the play in which he could have been injured occured.

Shesterkin slammed his stick against the glass before heading down the tunnel in displeasure, while Georgiev went into the net for New York for a grand total of 41 seconds and faced no shots in that span.

Gallant used his timeout with 6.7 seconds remaining in overtime and a potentially game-clinching attacking zone faceoff, but nothing came of it for the Rangers as time expired and signaled that a shootout would be necessary.

After 65 minutes of action, the score remained tied, 1-1, despite the Rangers amassing a, 34-32, advantage in shots on goal, including a, 6-3, advantage in overtime alone.

Both teams had 13 blocked shots and 10 giveaways each, while New York also led in hits (36-25) and faceoff win% (55-45).

Shesterkin emerged from the tunnel (“15-minute rule” be damned) and returned to the net for New York in the shootout as Gallant elected to have the home team Rangers shoot second.

DeBrusk led Boston’s first shootout attempt with a burst of speed heading towards the net and sent a shot past Shesterkin on the glove side– upper-90– ringing the iron before hitting the twine.

Zibanejad responded with a serpentine route into the zone before tucking the puck around Swayman as the Bruins goaltender overcommitted on the sell job.

After one round of the shootout, the score reflected that of the scoreboard itself, 1-1.

David Pastrnak took his time, skated wide and sent a shot off of Shesterkin’s glove to kick things off for each team’s second attempt.

Artemi Panarin tried his hand at emulating Zibanejad’s shootout goal, fake a shot and went backhand around Swayman to give the Rangers a, 2-1, advantage in the shootout.

Coyle had to score to prolong the skills competition and did just that after taking his time and burying a shot under the bar over Shesterkin’s glove side.

Gallant sent out Lafrenière to try to seal the deal, but the 2020 1st overall pick skated right down the middle of the ice and had his backhand shot denied by the Boston netminder.

Haula skated right down the middle lane and sent a shot off of Shesterkin’s leg pad without difficulty.

Fox entered the fourth round of the shootout for the Rangers wide from the right side before trying to pump fake Swayman with a deke before losing the puck on an aggressive poke check from the Boston goaltender.

Taylor Hall kicked off the fifth round of the shootout with a forehand shot off of Shesterkin’s glove.

Ryan Strome countered with a wide left approach to the slot before missing the net entirely.

Not to be outdone, McAvoy sent an attempt wide on the stick side from a backhand.

Kreider then lost the puck intentionally while trying to slip the rubber biscuit through the five-hole, but Swayman made the routine save.

Trent Frederic entered from the left side and sent a shot right at Shesterkin’s five-hole.

Chytil was then denied on after entering from the right side and trying his hand at Peter Forsberg’s patented postage stamp move, but Swayman made the save.

In the eighth round of the shootout, Cassidy sent Nick Foligno to center ice to try to put Boston ahead, but No. 17 in black and gold fired a shot right at the New York netminder from his off side.

Hunt then skated into the zone wide left, deked and was denied by Swayman.

Smith sped into the offensive zone before coming to a glide and sending a shot from the slot that Shesterkin made a routine save on to kick things off in the ninth round of the shootout.

Finally, the 18th shooter overall, Miller entered wide on the right side before deking and scoring on Swayman’s right pad to give the Rangers a, 3-2, advantage in the shootout and a, 2-1, shootout victory overall against the Bruins.

New York took home the shootout win, earned the extra point and improved to 4-1 in shootouts this season (5-4 past regulation), while Boston fell to 1-2 in shootouts in 2021-22 (3-4 past regulation overall).

The B’s fell to 18-6-1 (9-2-1 on the road) when scoring first, 17-1-1 (9-0-1 on the road) when leading after the first period and 18-1-2 (12-0-2 on the road) when leading after the second period this season.

The Rangers improved to 12-10-2 (6-3-2 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 9-7-2 (5-1-2 at home) when trailing after one and 3-11-0 (2-3-0 at home) when trailing after two periods in 2021-22.

The Bruins swing by the New York Islanders on Thursday before wrapping up their four-game road trip (1-0-1) against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday.

Boston returns home to host the Colorado Avalanche on Feb. 21st for a matinée matchup before heading back out on the road in Seattle, San Jose and Los Angeles to close out the month of February. The B’s open the month of March in Anaheim before venturing to Vegas and Columbus.

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New York Rangers 2021-22 Season Preview

2020-21 record 27-23-6, 60 points

5th in the MassMutual NHL East Division

Missed the postseason for the first time since 2020

Additions: F Sammy Blais (acquired from STL), F Barclay Goodrow (acquired from TBL), F Dryden Hunt, F Greg McKegg, F Ryan Reaves (acquired from VGK), D Patrik Nemeth, D Jarred Tinordi

Subtractions: F Colin Blackwell (expansion, SEA), F Pavel Buchnevich (traded to STL), F Phillip Di Giuseppe (signed with VAN), F Brett Howden (traded to VGK), F Patrick Newell (Eliteserien), D Tony DeAngelo (buyout, signed with CAR), D Nick DeSimone (rights acquired from VGK, signed with CGY), D Jack Johnson (signed to a PTO with COL), D Darren Raddysh (signed with TBL), D Yegor Rykov (KHL), D Brendan Smith (signed with CAR)

Still Unsigned: F Gabriel Fontaine, D Brandon Crawley

Re-signed: F Filip Chytil, F Julien Gauthier, F Tim Gettinger, F Ty Ronning, D Libor Hajek, G Adam Huska, G Igor Shesterkin

Offseason Analysis: Well, this offseason happened.

Because nobody sought vengeance for Tom Wilson’s shenanigans, Rangers owner, James Dolan, arose from his desk and remembered that he owns more than just the New York Knicks.

Heads were rolling as Chris Drury was instated as New York’s General Manager before last season ended– leaving Jeff Gorton to take a role with NHL Network during the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. Gerard Gallant replaced David Quinn behind the bench.

If the Rangers had a good thing going from the second-half of last season onward, well, they’ve surely burned it to the ground in a scorched-Earth search for guys that’ll punch other guys in the face for their 2021-22 roster.

Greg McKegg and Dryden Hunt are extra bodies to stockpile with the Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL) until somebody gets injured or booted out of the Rangers’ lineup because they’re suspended for trying to take Wilson’s head off or something.

New York was one or two pieces away from being a playoff contender and currently has about $8.872 million in cap space with almost $30 million to spend next summer when pending-restricted free agent, Kaapo Kakko, needs a new deal.

But for the time being, the Rangers decided to punt.

Sure, Jack Eichel is still available if the Buffalo Sabres ever decide to trade him one of these days (with or without letting him get his desired surgery done).

Drury’s logic, however, doesn’t necessarily see a fit for Eichel on the team– I mean, is he even tough enough?!?

Mika Zibanejad’s name is out there for some reason. He’s not too pleased by the rumor mill churning up whatever it can to excite Rangers fans about a team that took one step forward and two steps back on paper.

Pavel Buchnevich didn’t have to be traded. But he was.

Nothing makes sense anymore.

On July 17th, Drury traded a 2022 7th round pick to the Tampa Bay Lightning for the rights to restricted free agent forward, Barclay Goodrow, then signed Goodrow to a six-year extension worth about $3.642 million per season.

The 28-year-old had 6-14–20 totals in 55 games last season en route to winning his second-straight Stanley Cup ring with the Lightning, but Buchnevich, 26, had 20-28–48 totals in 54 games.

Somebody’s got to replace the scoring.

That same day, Brett Howden was dealt to the Vegas Golden Knights for Nick DeSimone’s rights and a 2022 4th round pick, but DeSimone tested the waters of free agency and signed with the Calgary Flames.

On July 23rd, Buchnevich was traded to the St. Louis Blues for Sammy Blais and a 2022 2nd round pick.

Blais had 8-7–15 totals in 36 games for St. Louis last season while battling injury and bouts on the league’s COVID-19 protocol list.

There’s still 13 points to replace to makeup for trading Buchnevich.

On July 29th, Drury listened to Gallant’s preferences for a rougher style, if not a personal request for a familiar face as New York traded a 2022 3rd round pick to Vegas for Ryan Reaves, who, at 34-years-old had 1-4–5 totals in 37 games for the Golden Knights.

Though he kept his penalty minutes relatively low with only 27 minutes spent in the box in 2020-21, he was suspended for two games in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs for his intent to injure then Colorado Avalanche defender, Ryan Graves, on an unnecessary roughing incident in front of Colorado’s own net.

But hey, an eye for an eye, right?

If you can’t beat them on the scoreboard– just beat them up instead.

It’s worked well for the Philadelphia Flyers since 1975.

Don’t want to fight Goodrow or Reaves? How about Jarred Tinordi on the defense? Maybe Patrik Nemeth?

Both were signed in free agency– Nemeth to a three-year contract worth $2.500 million per season and Tinordi on a two-year deal with a $900,000 cap hit.

Ryan Strome and Zibanejad are pending-unrestricted free agents and if Drury’s done enough to alienate them from whatever plan they bought into when the Rangers were on the rise coming out of their recent rebuild, then they’re the biggest pieces of trade bait for the team going into the deadline.

That’s not what you’d like to hear if you have aspirations of acquiring Eichel, since New York can’t guarantee that either player would want to stick around in Buffalo for longer than this season.

At the very least, Ryan Lindgren’s three-year extension with a $3.000 million cap hit looks pretty nice on the blue line and Igor Shesterkin’s four-year extension worth $5.667 million per season is good enough to foster healthy competition between Alexandar Georgiev and Shesterkin for the surefire starting goaltender role.

Offseason Grade: D

The Rangers didn’t have to do this to themselves and yet, here we are.

They were a team on the verge of something special with one or two more pieces to go and a little more experience to gain as the younger players learn and grow.

Instead, New York chose to go in the opposite direction– to overreact rather than react accordingly. A few irrational decisions means is the difference between middle of the road insanity and making the playoffs.

It seems like the Rangers are destined for the former once again in 2021-22.

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Halak picks up 2nd shutout this season as Bruins top Rangers, 4-0

Jaroslav Halak moved into 26th all-time in shutouts as four different goal scorers for the Boston Bruins helped keep the New York Rangers off the scoreboard, 4-0, Thursday night at TD Garden.

Halak (6-2-2, 1.88 goals-against average, .927 save percentage in 10 games played) made 27 saves on 27 shots against en route to his 52nd career shutout and his second shutout this season for Boston.

Rangers goaltender, Alexandar Georgiev (4-4-2, 3.33 GAA, .887 SV% in 12 games played) made 10 saves on 14 shots (.714 SV%) before he was replaced by Keith Kinkaid (1-0-1, 2.21 GAA, .912 SV% in three games played) during the second period.

Kinkaid turned aside all 13 shots that he faced in relief of Georgiev in 34:44 time on ice.

The Bruins improved to 14-6-4 (32 points) on the season, but stagnant in 4th place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while the Rangers fell to 10-12-3 (23 points), but comfortably in 6th place in the division.

Boston is now 4-1-0 against the Rangers this season.

The B’s were once again without the services of Ondrej Kase (upper body), Kevan Miller (right knee), Jeremy Lauzon (fractured left hand), Brandon Carlo (upper body) and Tuukka Rask (lower body) on Thursday night against the Rangers.

Bruce Cassidy adjusted his lines as Jake DeBrusk returned to his usual role as the second line left wing after being a healthy scratch in Tuesday night’s, 2-1, shootout loss at the New York Islanders.

As a result, Nick Ritchie was shifted to the second line right wing, while Jack Studnicka was bumped down to center the fourth line with Sean Kuraly and Zach Senyshyn on his wings.

Senyshyn made his season debut for the Bruins, which also marked the first time that Senyshyn, DeBrusk and Jakub Zboril were all in the lineup for Boston since being drafted together in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft (Zboril was selected 13th, DeBrusk 14th and Senyshyn 15th by the Bruins).

Cassidy made no changes to his defensive pairings and Dan Vladar served as Halak’s backup while Rask remained out of the action due to a lingering injury.

Anders Bjork, Chris Wagner and John Moore were healthy scratches for Boston, while Carlo, Kase, Rask, Lauzon and Miller were out of the lineup due to injury.

Greg McKegg and Steven Kampfer were left on the taxi squad for the B’s as Callum Booth was assigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Wednesday.

David Pastrnak (12) kicked things off early in the opening frame with a one-timer blast from the point to give Boston a, 1-0, lead at 4:14 of the first period.

Brad Marchand (17) and Patrice Bergeron (14) tallied the assists on Pastrnak’s goal.

With the primary assist on the goal, Marchand passed Ken Hodge for sole possession of 9th place in all-time scoring in Bruins franchise history. Marchand finished the night with three assists and 677 points to Hodge’s 674 points with Boston.

David Krejci is 8th on the list with 699 points with the B’s– having notched a goal and an assist in Thursday night’s effort.

Late in the first period, Ritchie tripped Rangers defender, K’Andre Miller, and was assessed a minor infraction at 17:07– yielding the game’s first power play to New York as a result.

But Boston penalty kill was better than the Rangers’ power play unit as Marchand forced the puck into the attacking zone before sending a backhand pass through the low slot to Bergeron (10) for a one-timer shorthanded goal to give the Bruins a two-goal lead.

Marchand (18) had the only assist on Bergeron’s 19th career shorthanded goal and the Bruins led, 2-0, at 17:34.

After one period of play, Boston led, 2-0, on the scoreboard, despite trailing New York, 14-9, in shots on goal entering the first intermission.

The Rangers held the advantage in blocked shots (3-2), giveaways (6-2) and hits (14-8), while the Bruins led in faceoff win percentage (59-41).

Both teams had two takeaways aside, while New York was 0/1 on the power play. The B’s had yet to see any action on the skater advantage entering the middle frame.

Libor Hajek was assessed a holding minor at 2:14 of the second period, presenting the Bruins with their first power play opportunity of the night as a result.

Boston took full advantage of their skater advantage as Krejci (1) blasted a one-timer from above the faceoff circle to Georgiev’s right side over the New York netminder’s glove.

Matt Grzelcyk (6) and Marchand (19) tabbed the assists as the Bruins extended their lead, 3-0, thanks to Krejci’s power-play goal at 3:31 of the second period.

Krejci, meanwhile, ended his second-longest streak without a goal in his 20th game this season.

A little over a minute later, DeBrusk (2) fired a one-timer from the dot to Georgiev’s left side past the Rangers goaltender and gave the Bruins a four-goal lead at 4:52.

Krejci (12) had the only assist on DeBrusk’s goal as Boston notched a pair of goals in a span of 1:21.

Meanwhile, New York head coach, David Quinn, pulled Georgiev and replaced him with Kinkaid after Boston took a, 4-0, lead thanks to DeBrusk’s goal.

Midway through the middle period, Ryan Lindgren slashed Trent Frederic and cut a rut to the sin bin at 12:12 as a result. Boston’s power play did not convert on the resulting advantage.

Late in the period, Marchand hooked Miller and was sent to the box at 18:54, where he would remain as the B’s began the final frame shorthanded.

Through 40 minutes of action on Thursday, Boston led, 4-0, on the scoreboard, despite trailing New York in shots on goal, 17-16, after two periods. The Bruins did, however, outshoot the Rangers, 7-3, in the second period alone.

The B’s also led in blocked shots (7-5) and faceoff win% (53-47), while the Blue Shirts held the advantage in takeaways (5-4), giveaways (7-4) and hits (18-13).

New York was 0/2 on the skater advantage, while Boston was 1/2 on the power play entering the second intermission.

Midway through the third period, Pastrnak was sent to the box for holding at 10:47, but the Rangers weren’t able to get anything going on the ensuing power play.

The same rang true when Ritchie tripped Brendan Lemieux at 17:15. New York did not score on the resulting skater advantage.

At the final horn, the Bruins secured the, 4-0, shutout and finished the night tied in shots on goal, 27-27, despite holding an, 11-10, advantage in the third period alone.

Boston wrapped up Thursday night’s action leading in blocked shots (14-6) and faceoff win% (55-45), while New York finished the night leading in giveaways (12-6) and hits (20-17).

The Rangers finished the night 0/4 on the power play while the Bruins went 1/2.

Boston improved to 10-2-2 (6-0-1 at home) when scoring the game’s first goal this season, while New York fell to 3-8-2 (2-2-1 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal in 2020-21.

The B’s also improved to 8-0-1 (5-0-0 at home) when leading after the first period and 9-0-0 (6-0-0 at home) when leading after two periods this season.

Meanwhile, the Rangers fell to 1-5-0 (1-2-0 on the road) when trailing after one period and 0-9-0 (0-5-0 on the road) when losing after two periods this season.

The Bruins go at it again with the Rangers on Saturday afternoon before venturing on a four-game road trip against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres next week.

Categories
NHL Nick's Net

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories
NHL Nick's Net

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boston did not convert on the ensuing power play opportunity.

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

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

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

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

Once more, Boston’s power play was powerless.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Bruins remained powerless on the power play, however.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories
NHL Nick's Net

Marchand’s OT goal lifts Bruins over Rangers, 3-2

Brad Marchand did what he does best in overtime– scored the game-winning goal– on Wednesday night as the Boston Bruins beat the New York Rangers, 3-2, at Madison Square Garden.

Boston goaltender, Tuukka Rask (6-1-1, 2.31 goals against average, .906 save percentage in eight games played) stopped 33 out of 35 shots faced for a .943 SV% in the overtime win.

Alexandar Georgiev (1-2-2, 3.21 GAA, .891 SV% in five games played) made 29 saves on 32 shots against (.906 SV%) in the overtime loss for New York.

The Bruins improved to 9-1-2 (20 points) on the season and continue to lead the MassMutual NHL East Division, while the New York Rangers fell to 4-5-3 (11 points), but surpassed the Buffalo Sabres and New Jersey Devils for 6th place in the division.

Matt Grzelcyk (lower body) and Jake DeBrusk (lower body) returned to the lineup since being injured on Jan. 28th and Jan. 26th, respectively.

Grzeclyk returned to his usual role on the left side of the second defensive pairing, while DeBrusk was placed on the third line left wing with Charlie Coyle at center and Anders Bjork on the right side.

Anton Blidh was scratched in favor of Trent Frederic on the fourth line left wing.

Meanwhile, Ondrej Kase (upper body) remained out of the lineup for the 10th time this season due to an injury sustained on Jan. 16th in New Jersey.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made no other changes to his lineup.

Greg McKegg, Jack Studnicka, Par Lindholm, John Moore, Steven Kampfer, Connor Clifton, Callum Booth, Blidh and Karson Kuhlman were all healthy scratches and/or members of the taxi squad on Wednesday.

A little past the midpoint of the opening frame, Brendan Lemieux won a battle along the boards before working the puck off of Bruins forward, Sean Kuraly’s, stick and into the slot where Julien Gauthier (1) reached out to pocket the puck into the twine for his first career National Hockey League goal.

Lemieux (2) had the only assist on Gauthier’s goal and the Rangers led, 1-0, at 13:50 of the first period.

About a couple minutes later, Chris Kreider tripped up Jeremy Lauzon and presented Boston with their first power play opportunity of the night at 15:47.

The Bruins weren’t able to convert on the ensuing skater advantage, however.

After one period of play at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night, New York led, 1-0, on the scoreboard, despite splitting shots on goal evenly at, 6-6.

The Rangers held the advantage in takeaways (3-2), while the Bruins had the advantage in hits (8-6) and faceoff win percentage (60-40) after 20 minutes.

Both teams had four blocked shots each and four giveaways aside while only the B’s had seen any action on the power play (0/1) entering the first intermission.

Almost midway through the middle frame, Craig Smith slashed Ryan Strome and was assessed a minor infraction, yielding a power play to New York at 8:05 of the second period.

While on the penalty kill, Chris Wagner (2) emerged on a breakaway for Boston and sent the puck under Georgiev’s glove side to tie the game, 1-1, at 9:41.

Wagner’s shorthanded goal was unassisted.

Moments later, Strome slashed Bjork and cut a rut to the penalty box at 13:30 as a result.

Boston’s power play was once again powerless, however, as the Rangers killed Strome’s minor with ease– often spending time on the penalty kill in the attacking zone.

After 40 minutes of action at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, the Bruins and Rangers were tied, 1-1, on the scoreboard.

Boston held the advantage in shots on goal, 25-20, including a, 19-14, advantage in the second period alone, while also leading in faceoff win% (67-33) after two periods.

New York led in blocked shots (11-5), giveaways (11-9) and hits (16-13), while both teams had five takeaways each entering the second intermission.

The Rangers were 0/1 and the B’s were 0/2 on the power play heading into the final frame of regulation.

DeBrusk thought he scored early in the third period when he rang the crossbar on a shot that bounced at the goal line, but the rubber biscuit just didn’t cross over the goal line completely– bouncing at an angle out of the crease and resulting in a “no goal” call (even after review).

Moments later, Bjork worked the puck to DeBrusk in the trapezoid who promptly sent it back to Bjork (1) for the goal from point blank while crashing the low slot to give the Bruins their first lead of the night, 2-1.

Bjork’s goal was assisted by DeBrusk (2) and Kevan Miller (2) at 9:00 of the third period.

Less than a minute later, Wagner and Anthony Bitetto exchanged fisticuffs, yielding fighting majors to go with a high sticking minor and a roughing infraction, respectively at 9:17.

It was the fourth fight this season for Boston and the first since Clifton fought Nicolas Aube-Kubel on Feb. 5th in Philadelphia.

A couple of minutes later, Ryan Lindgren let go of a shot from the point that Lemieux possibly tipped with a high stick, but deflected the rubber biscuit off of Grzelcyk before bouncing off of Rask and landing in the crease.

Kevin Rooney (3) was in the right place at the right time to pocket the puck into the twine and tie the game, 2-2.

Lemieux (2) and Lindgren (3) notched the assists as New York evened things up at 11:22 of the third period, despite a review that confirmed the call on the ice (goal).

Less than a couple minutes later, David Krejci tripped Lemieux and was assessed a minor penalty at 13:02, but the Rangers couldn’t muster anything on the ensuing power play.

As time winded down in the third period, Rask took an excursion towards the bench mistakenly believing the score to be, 2-1, in favor of the Rangers.

After Charlie McAvoy and the rest of the Bruins bench alerted their netminder that the game was actually tied, Rask returned to his crease unscathed and with a good laugh at the next stoppage of play.

With the score tied, 2-2, after regulation, the two clubs required overtime (at least) to determine a winner, despite New York holding an advantage in shots on goal, 35-31, after 60 minutes of action– including a, 15-6, advantage in the third period alone.

The Rangers also held the advantage in blocked shots (17-9), giveaways (15-14) and hits (29-21), while the Bruins led in takeaways (7-6) and faceoff win% (68-32).

As no penalties were called in the overtime period, both sides finished 0/2 on the power play Wednesday night.

Cassidy started Patrice Bergeron, Marchand and McAvoy in the overtime period, while New York head coach, David Quinn, countered with Mika Zibanejad, Pavel Buchnevich and Adam Fox.

Marchand had a chance early in the overtime period to end it, but the puck just wouldn’t settle the right way as the veteran Bruin forward was tripped and instead presented a chance for the Rangers to score at the opposite end.

After Boston broke up New York’s play, Bergeron worked the puck to McAvoy who then fed Marchand with a lead pass to set Marchand (8) on a breakaway whereby No. 63 in black and gold deked and sent a shot off the left post and in behind Georgiev to win the game, 3-2.

McAvoy (10) and Bergeron (10) notched the assists on Marchand’s game-winning overtime goal 36 seconds into the extra frame as the Bruins sealed the deal on the victory.

At the final horn Boston had won, 3-2, despite finishing the night behind in shots on goal, 35-32, to the Rangers (the Bruins had a, 1-0, shot advantage in overtime alone, however).

New York wrapped up Wednesday night’s action leading in blocked shots (17-9) and hits (29-21), while the B’s finished the night leading in faceoff win% (69-31).

Both teams had 15 hits aside as the Bruins improved to 3-2 in overtime (5-2 past regulation) this season.

The Rangers, on the other hand, fell to 1-2 in overtime alone (1-3 past regulation) in 2020-21.

With the primary assist on Marchand’s game-winning goal, McAvoy extended his assist streak to eight games (1-10–11 totals in that span)– becoming the first Bruins defender to record at least an eight-game assist streak since Ray Bourque’s 10-game streak in the 1992-93 season (Bourque had 4-13–17 totals in that span).

Boston improved to 2-0-2 when trailing after the first period, 3-1-1 when tied after the second period and 4-1-2 when allowing the game’s first goal this season.

The Bruins take on the Rangers again at Madison Square Garden on Friday before venturing to Long Island to face the New York Islanders on Saturday. Boston was scheduled to return home on Feb. 15th to face the New Jersey Devils, but that game has already been postponed due to numerous Devils players being in COVID protocol.

The B’s are scheduled to return home on Feb. 18th against New Jersey before facing the Philadelphia Flyers on Feb. 21st outdoors at Lake Tahoe.

Categories
Free Agency NHL Nick's Net

Mr. Lundqvist goes to Washington

Longtime New York Ranger, Henrik Lundqvist, has a new home in Washington, D.C. with the Washington Capitals after signing a one-year contract worth $1.500 million on Friday.

The 38-year-old goaltender was bought out by the Rangers on Sept. 30th after he was originally drafted by New York in the seventh round (205th overall) of the 2000 NHL Draft.

Lundqvist made his NHL debut with the Rangers in the 2005-06 season and amassed a 459-310-96 record in 887 career games (871 starts) with New York over 15 seasons and has recorded 64 shutouts in that span.

He had a 2.43 career goals against average and a career .918 save percentage with the Rangers and had a 10-12-3 record in 30 games played (26 starts) lasts season.

A native of Are, Sweden, Lundqvist had a 3.16 GAA and a .905 SV%, as well as one shutout in a more diminished role in 2019-20 as Igor Shesterkin and Alexanar Georgiev took over the starting and backup jobs, respectively, in the crease until New York’s Qualifier matchup with the Carolina Hurricanes.

Lundqvist started in Games 1 and 2 of the Qualifier series against the Hurricanes, posting a 0-2 record, as well as a 3.52 GAA and a .901 SV% in two games before Carolina finished off New York in three games while Shesterkin took over the reigns in the crease for Game 3 of the best-of-five game series.

Washington won the Cup in 2018, and is looking to get back into Stanley Cup contention with Lundqvist likely backing up Ilya Samsonov in net and new head coach, Peter Laviolette, leading behind the bench.

Meanwhile, Lundqvist is looking to fulfill a lifelong dream and win his first Stanley Cup ring in his career.

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 Previews

2020 Stanley Cup Qualifier Preview: Eastern Conference

Hockey’s back. In August!?! In this economy?!?

Yes, truer words have never been spoken. Hockey. Is. Back.

But not in the way you’re probably thinking if you’ve been under a rock for the last– let’s see, what month is it now?

The National Hockey League paused the 2019-20 regular season on March 12th due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic before canceling the rest of the regular season in late May and announcing a 24-team playoff format for 2020.

Make no mistake, whether you put an asterisk next to the winners of the 2020 Stanley Cup Final or not– it’ll be the hardest Cup to win since Lord Stanley of Preston announced he’d donate the silver rose bowl to the best hockey team in the world (so Canada) on March 18, 1892.

Despite all the training world class athletes do in contemporary times, nothing could prepare any athlete to stop playing, go through training camp after months of (in some cases) not being able to skate on any ice, then go full throttle for a championship tournament.

If anything, the asterisk next to the 2020 Stanley Cup champions will simply be a marker for the challenging times and remarkable feats of athleticism that team went through to put it all together and lift a 35-pound trophy at the end.

By now you’ve probably heard how the 2020 postseason will work– 24 teams vying for 16 spots, with eight teams (four in each conference) already locked into the playoffs, but fighting for the top-four seeds as the other 16 teams compete in a best-of-five series to punch a ticket into the playoffs.

Those 16 teams are in the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers, which technically isn’t part of the 2020 postseason according to the NHL, but the individual player and team stats will count towards the playoffs in the record books.

So for Arizona Coyotes fans, the long standing playoff drought since 2012, technically isn’t over yet. They’d have to beat the Nashville Predators first.

With all of that in mind, let’s take a look at the Eastern Conference Qualifiers, while the Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers sort themselves out.

All Eastern Conference games will be at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario until the Eastern Conference Final and Stanley Cup Final (both of which will be held in Edmonton, Alberta at Rogers Place).

(5) Pittsburgh Penguins (40-23-6, 86 points) vs (12) Montreal Canadiens (31-31-9, 71 points)

Pittsburgh: 69 games played, .623 points percentage, 29 regulation wins.

Montreal: 71 games played, .500 points percentage, 19 regulation wins.

The Pittsburgh Penguins were 5th in the Eastern Conference at the time of the pause and being led by Evgeni Malkin with 74 points in 55 games played, while Bryan Rust (56 points in 55 games) and Sidney Crosby 47 points in 41 games) trailed the Russian star on the roster. 

Yes, Malkin missed 14 games and still amassed 74 points in a season for the Penguins, while Pens head coach, Mike Sullivan, carefully charted the course through a bevy of injuries to bring his team within striking range of the Metropolitan Division lead had the regular season seen its full conclusion.

The Washington Capitals topped the Metropolitan Division with 90 points. The Philadelphia Flyers had 89. Pittsburgh had 86.

An annual Stanley Cup contender since Sullivan led the Penguins to back-to-back Cups in 2016 and 2017 (their second and third since 2009– fourth and fifth in franchise history), Pittsburgh’s goaltending might be the only thing that holds them back from their 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifier matchup with the Montreal Canadiens.

Matt Murray had a down year with a 2.87 goals against average and an .899 save percentage in 38 games played– his worst goals against average since he had a 2.92 GAA in 49 games in 2017-18 and his worst-career save percentage in a season. Murray finished the shortened season with a 20-11-5 record and one shutout in 38 starts.

Backup netminder, Tristan Jarry, went 20-12-1 in 33 games played (31 starts) and had a 2.43 GAA, as well as a .921 SV% and three shutouts.

Murray’s leash through the exhibition games should be a short one, despite his career 2.16 GAA and .921 SV% in 48 Stanley Cup Playoff games. His goals against average reached a career-low 1.70 in 11 games en route to Pittsburgh’s Cup win in 2017, but rose to a 2.43 in 2018 (12 games) and a 3.02 in 2019 (four games) as the Penguins were swept by the New York Islanders in last year’s First Round.

It’s not that he can’t bounce back, but rather that Sullivan should ride the hotter goaltender and force a little healthy competition if it yields the best in Murray’s game. If not, it’ll either be sink or swim with Jarry in the crease.

At the other end of the rink, the Montreal Canadiens went .500 this season and were mired in 12th place in the Eastern Conference at the stoppage with what looked like little hope for a late season surge into the postseason, despite leading scorer, Tomas Tatar (22-39–61 totals in 68 games played) and starting goaltender, Carey Price’s best efforts.

Phillip Danault had the second-most points on the Habs roster this season with 13 goals and 34 assists (47 points) in 71 games played, while Max Domi was third in scoring on the team with 44 points in 71 games.

Price led Montreal in net with a 27-25-6 record in 58 games played (58 starts), a 2.79 GAA, a .909 SV% and four shutouts this season. Since his 2.23 GAA and .923 SV% in 62 games in 2016-17, Price has not had a goals against average below 2.30 or a save percentage better than .920. He had a 3.11 GAA and a .900 SV% in 49 games in 2017-18, as well as a 2.49 GAA and a .918 SV% in 66 games last season.

As he approaches his mid-30s and the league shifts more and more towards tandem goaltending, Price shouldn’t be playing more than 50 games in a regular season, but the Canadiens struggled with finding a backup this season.

Charlie Lindgren went 2-4-0 in six games (six starts) and had a 3.33 GAA, as well as an .888 SV%. Meanwhile, Cayden Primeau went 1-1-0 in two games (both starts) and had a 2.52 GAA and a .931 SV%.

Keith Kinkaid also made an appearance with six games played (five starts), a 1-1-3 record, a 4.24 GAA and an .875 SV%.

Claude Julien has over 400 regular season wins as the head coach of the Boston Bruins and won the Cup with the B’s in 2011, but that was nine years ago and he’s three full seasons into his second stint behind the bench as head coach of the Canadiens.

His teams aren’t known for keeling over and being swept out of the playoffs, so they’ll likely be able to win one as Montreal scratches and claws their way to victory in classic Julien-style blue-collar work ethic fashion, but can he get it done against Pittsburgh in today’s NHL?

Especially when falling behind the eight ball is even more significant in a best-of-five series than it is in a best-of-seven.

Price might be fresh, but Pittsburgh’s got an offense and a defense. Plus the Penguins did win two out of their three regular season matchups and Crosby and Malkin are ready to make yet another postseason appearance– regardless of how far things will actually go.

It’s not out of the question that the Habs will be able to steal a game, but the Penguins should have this series wrapped up in four games and punch their ticket to the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Regular season outcomes:

4-1 MTL at PPG Paints Arena on Dec. 10th, 3-2 F/OT PIT at Bell Centre on Jan. 4th, 4-1 PIT at PPG Paints Arena on Feb. 14th

Schedule:

8/1- Game 1 MTL @ PIT in Toronto 8 PM ET on NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS

8/3- Game 2 MTL @ PIT in Toronto 8 PM ET NBCSN, SN, TVAS

8/5- Game 3 PIT @ MTL in Toronto 8 PM ET NBCSN, SN, TVAS

8/7- Game 4 PIT @ MTL in Toronto*

8/8- Game 5 MTL @ PIT in Toronto*

*If necessary

(6) Carolina Hurricanes (38-25-5, 81 points) vs (11) New York Rangers (37-28-5, 79 points)

Carolina: 68 games played, .596 points percentage, 27 regulation wins

N.Y. Rangers: 70 games played, .564 points percentage, 31 regulation wins

Rod Brind’Amour and the Carolina Hurricanes have their work cut out for them in what just might be the only series that would be an upset if the higher seed wins. The Hurricanes lost all four regular season matchups against the Rangers, despite Sebastian Aho’s team-leading 66 points in 68 games on the season.

Aho set a new career-high in goals (38) and had a pair of goals against New York this season, but fell shy of establishing a new career-high in points after putting up 83 points in 82 games last season. Of course, a pandemic shortened regular season will have something to do with that.

Regardless, he was on pace for about 80 points at the time the NHL season was paused.

Teuvo Teravainen continued to show that he’s one of the most consistent performers in the league with a respectable 48 assists and 63 points in 68 games played as one of Carolina’s more “veteran” players, despite only being 25-years-old.

Meanwhile, Andrei Svechnikov scored two lacrosse goals this season and managed to improve on all fronts from his rookie season (20-17–37 totals in 82 games last season) with 24 goals and 37 assists (61 points) in 68 games in 2019-20. He was on pace for almost 30 goals and around 73 points in his sophomore season had the pandemic not called it short.

In goal, David Ayres led the way with– just kidding– Petr Mrazek went 21-16-2 in 40 games this season (38 starts) and had a 2.69 GAA, as well as a .905 SV% and three shutouts. Not great, but not the worst entering the Qualifiers.

He’ll have to do much better than his 2.73 GAA and .894 SV% in 11 games in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs if he has any hopes of catapulting his team over the Rangers and backstopping them to a deep playoff run like last year.

That said, Curtis McElhinney was the one that replaced him against the Boston Bruins in the 2019 Eastern Conference Final after Mrazek allowed ten goals against in the series, compared to McElhinney’s five.

The good news for the Hurricanes, however, is that McElhinney’s numbers have been way off the mark this season and he’s the current backup for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Plus James Reimer exists in Carolina.

Reimer went 14-6-2 in 25 games for the Canes this season and had a 2.66 GAA, as well as a .914 SV% and three shutouts– so basically he’s the same as Mrazek, only Reimer’s looking for a bigger redemption arc in the postseason than being remembered as the Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender in Boston’s epic, 5-4, overtime comeback in the 2013 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal.

That wasn’t even Reimer’s last appearance in the playoffs, however, as he had a brief stint (29 minutes) with the San Jose Sharks en route to their 2016 Stanley Cup Final appearance.

Brind’Amour might be wise to use his best defensive game and start Reimer in Game 1 against the Rangers, except Mrazek had an .861 SV% against New York in three games this season, while Reimer had a .792 SV%.

Advantage… …Mrazek? But on a short leash?

On the other hand, the New York Rangers enter their Qualifier matchup with the Hurricanes two points behind Carolina in the season standings and three spots behind them in the Metropolitan Division standings that are virtually obsolete this postseason.

The Hurricanes had 81 points. The Rangers had 79 points. First place through seventh place in the division was separated by 11 points at the time of the stoppage.

And at that point, 2019-20 Hart Memorial Trophy finalist, Artemi Panarin, had already amassed 32-63–95 totals in 69 games for New York.

He had nine points (three goals, six assists) against the Hurricanes this season, while Mika Zibanejad sat 20 points behind Panarin in team scoring with 41 goals and 34 assists (75 points) in 57 games– including four goals and three assists against Carolina this season.

Ryan Strome carried third place honors for the Rangers in scoring this season with 18-41–59 totals in 70 games.

Rangers head coach, David Quinn, also doesn’t have an easy decision to make with his goaltenders heading to Toronto for their series against Carolina.

Henrik Lundqvist made three starts against the Canes and went 3-0-0, while stopping 125 shots out of 132 shots against (.947 SV%) in that span.

Igor Shesterkin made 27 saves on 29 shots against (.931 SV%) in his one start and one win against Carolina this season.

Lundqvist went 10-12-3 on the season in 30 games played (26 starts) with a 3.16 GAA, a .905 SV% and one shutout.

Shesterkin went 10-2-0 in 12 games played (12 starts) and had a 2.52 GAA, as well as a .932 SV%.

Oh yeah, and Alexandar Georgiev went 17-14-2 in 34 games (32 starts) while putting up a 3.04 GAA, a .910 SV% and two shutouts.

One thing is clearer now more than ever before– “King Henrik” is no longer king in “The Big Apple”.

Shesterkin should receive the nod for the playoffs, but this is just the Qualifier. It technically doesn’t count unless you win three out of the next possible five games.

In that case, Quinn could rely on Lundqvist to get the job done, then give Shesterkin his first real taste of the NHL’s toughest job– being a goaltender in the playoffs– since Lundqvist has a history for seemingly always having Carolina’s number when it matters most for the Hurricanes.

Regardless of who’s in net, New York holds all the advantages coming into this series.

The Rangers scored 17 goals for against Hurricanes and allowed nine goals against over their four games against one another.

Carolina threw the kitchen sink at New York on net– totaling 161 shots on goal in their four regular season matchups with the Blue Shirts– but Lundqvist was the key difference maker.

That said, the Hurricanes knocked off the then defending Cup champion Washington Capitals in seven games in last year’s First Round.

But can Brind’Amour motivate his players enough to get the job done more efficiently when the series is only a best-of-five instead of having the luxury to drag things out all seven games like they did against the Caps?

And with back-to-back games incorporated in the schedule, conditions are clearly unfavorable for the Hurricanes in their David and Goliath matchup (again, despite being the higher seed).

One thing that works in their favor? There’s no travel outside the bubble to and from the games, so that’s a plus.

Knowing how The Hockey Gods work, it’d be foolish not to believe this series won’t go all five games just because. Either that or Carolina will pull off the three-game sweep of the Rangers after losing every single regular season game against New York in 2019-20.

Flip a coin and that’s your winner– this series might just be a lot closer and more intense than you think.

Rangers in five, but don’t be surprised if/when Carolina defeats them.

Sit back and enjoy.

Regular season outcomes:

4-2 NYR at PNC Arena on Nov. 7th, 3-2 NYR at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 27th, 5-3 NYR at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 27th, 5-2 NYR at PNC Arena on Feb. 21st

Schedule:

8/1- Game 1 NYR @ CAR in Toronto 12 PM ET on NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN, SN360, TVAS

8/3- Game 2 NYR @ CAR in Toronto 12 PM ET on NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN, SN360, TVAS

8/4- Game 3 CAR @ NYR in Toronto 8 PM ET on NBCSN, SN360, TVAS

8/6- Game 4 CAR @ NYR in Toronto*

8/8- Game 5 NYR @ CAR in Toronto*

*If necessary

(7) New York Islanders (35-23-10, 80 points) vs (10) Florida Panthers (35-26-8, 78 points)

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

Florida: 69 games played, .565 points percentage, 30 regulation wins

Barry Trotz is still coaching the trap in today’s NHL, which, honestly, you have to hand it to him. His defense first mindset has turned the New York Islanders into a playoff contender since his arrival last season.

The only bad thing that’s come with Trotz’s arrival and John Tavares’ departure– a lack of goal scoring.

It’s no secret that to win games, your team must score more goals than the other team, whether it’s a, 10-9, high-scoring victory or a, 1-0, shutout.

Unfortunately for Trotz, the Isles ranked ninth in fewest goals for this season with 192, which is the worst among all the Qualifier team. Yes, even Montreal and Chicago each had 212 goals for this season, despite their minus-6 and minus-9 goal differentials, respectively.

At least the Islanders only allowed one more goal than they scored in the pandemic shortened regular season.

Anyway, Mathew Barzal led the charge for New York this season with 19-41–60 totals in 68 games played, while Brock Nelson (54 points in 68 games) and Anders Lee (43 points in 68 games) followed suit.

Barzal was on pace for 23 goals and 72 points this season, which would’ve been a career-high in goals in a season for the young forward only having just completed his third full season. Nevertheless, scoring at least 60 points in three consecutive seasons is respectable.

Nelson scored 26 goals this season, which marked back to back seasons of at least 20 goals for the 28-year-old. He was on pace for 31 goals in what was already a career-season in the making.

Lee was on pace for 52 points after putting up 20-23–43 totals in 68 games, which would have given him four consecutive seasons of 50-plus points.

But it’s not all about what would’ve been for the Islanders, because the future is here in goaltender Ilya Sorokin– oh wait, he can’t play in the 2020 postseason due to the NHL’s Return to Play rulings, which is fine– just means that next year’s looking good for the Isles.

In net, Semyon Varlamov amassed a 19-14-6 record in 45 games played (39 starts) with a 2.62 GAA and a .914 SV%, as well as two shutouts to go with it.

Ideally, you’d like a starting goaltender in the NHL to be closer to 2.50, maybe even 2.30 in goals against average and around a .920 in save percentage, but we addressed some of New York’s shortcomings this season– a lack of offense and injuries on defense with Adam Pelech limited to 38 games.

Thomas Greiss had a 16-9-4 record in 31 games (29 starts) with a 2.74 GAA and a .913 SV% in the process.

It’s likely his last season on Long Island/in Brooklyn with Sorokin signed for the next couple of seasons, so if he sees any ice time in the series, he’ll have to be better in order to prove his next payday at the expense of another team via free agency in November.

New York brought in Jean-Gabriel Pageau at the trade deadline from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for a conditional 2020 1st round pick (can become a 2021 1st round pick if the Islanders lose in the Qualifier and win the 1st overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft–a.k.a. top-3 lottery protected), a 2020 2nd round pick and a conditional 2022 3rd round pick (if New York wins the Cup in 2020), then signed Pageau to a six-year extension worth $5.000 million per season.

Though it was all too short to effectively judge Pageau in an Islanders sweater, it’s worth noting he scored two goals in seven games so far. That’s it.

A boost for the third line, sure, but his effectiveness in a new surrounding remains to be seen, which could be a key to New York defeating the Florida Panthers who lack an important figure in Vincent Trocheck since trading him to the Carolina Hurricanes for Erik Haula, Lucas Wallmark, Chase Priskie and Eetu Luostarinen at the deadline on Feb. 24th.

Speaking of the Panthers, Florida was led by Jonathan Huberdeau in scoring this season with 23 goals and 55 assists (78 points) in 69 games this season.

Aleksander Barkov had his fifth consecutive 20-goal season– one season removed from his career-high 35 goals (and 96 points!) last season– and was on pace for 25 tallies this season at the stoppage.

And bringing up the rear in Florida’s top-three scorers this season was Mike Hoffman with 29 goals and 30 assists (59 points) in 69 games. Hoffman finished one goal shy of back to back 30-goal seasons and was on pace to match his career-high 70 points in a season had the regular season been uninterrupted.

In goal, Sergei Bobrovsky probably wishes he could ask for a mulligan this season after going 23-19-6 in 50 games played (49 starts) and amassing a 3.23 GAA, as well as a .900 SV% and one shutout.

Yes, you read that right– one shutout this season. After leading the league with nine shutouts last season, Bobrovsky was far beyond a disappointment in his first year of a seven-year, $70 million contract.

Meanwhile, Sam Montembeault (5-5-1) started the season as Florida’s backup, but things took a turn after his 3.34 GAA and .890 SV% in 14 games played (nine starts) were no better than Bobrovsky’s career-worst season as a starter.

Alas, Chris Driedger was called up from the Springfield Thunderbirds (AHL) and put up a 7-2-1 record in 12 games played with a 2.05 GAA, a .938 SV% and one shutout in that span.

The Islanders beat the Panthers in all three regular season matchups this season, but New York has yet to face Driedger.

A word to the wise for Florida’s head coach, Joel Quenneville– what more could you lose by starting Driedger in Game 1?

Bobrovsky hasn’t had the form all season and isn’t going into the playoffs as your surefire starter– $10.000 million cap hit or not. Pray he returns to his two-time Vezina Trophy winning ability in time for 2020-21, but for now he hasn’t earned starter duties and your main focus is on winning three games, let alone going for the Cup with whatever you have for a roster.

The Islanders scored eight goals in their three games against the Panthers this season. They allowed four goals against, while Florida– to their credit– forced New York to a shootout in their first meeting back on Oct. 12th.

New York had 94 total shots on goal against Florida this season.

The Panthers had 108 shots against the Islanders.

It should be a close battle with each team ravaged in some manner– whether by injuries that plagued them all season or lackluster goaltending, neither club is exactly turning heads out there.

The Panthers lost in six games to the Islanders in the 2016 First Round, but this time around it’s a best of five.

New York should win in four games as Trotz has more recent playoff success and the more recent playoff experienced roster to go off of than, yes, Quenneville’s three Stanley Cup Rings from the last ten years.

It’s not that Quenneville can’t pull off the upset, but rather that the Panthers aren’t ready to make a dent in the postseason picture without all the necessary pieces.

The good news for them, at least, is they have a tried and true coach to guide them through what for now will be some growing pains.

Unless 20-goal scorer Noel Acciari pockets a hat trick in three straight games, which sounds quite plausible these days, so who knows!?

Regular season outcomes:

3-2 F/SO NYI at NYCB Live/Nassau Coliseum on Oct. 12th, 2-1 NYI at Barclays Center on Nov. 9th, 3-1 NYI at BB&T Center on Dec. 12th

Schedule:

8/1- Game 1 FLA @ NYI in Toronto 4 PM ET on NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN1, TVAS

8/4- Game 2 FLA @ NYI in Toronto 12 PM ET on NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN, TVAS

8/5- Game 3 NYI @ FLA in Toronto 12 PM ET on NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN, TVAS

8/7- Game 4 NYI @ FLA in Toronto*

8/9- Game 5 FLA @ NYI in Toronto*

*If necessary

(8) Toronto Maple Leafs (36-25-9, 81 points) vs (9) Columbus Blue Jackets (33-22-15, 81 points)

Toronto: 70 games played, .579 points percentage, 28 regulation wins

Columbus: 70 games played, .579 points percentage, 25 regulation wins

The Toronto Maple Leafs have home ice advantage and– well, technically, the Qualifier isn’t considered part of the playoffs and there’s a pandemic going on, so no fans are allowed inside the bubble.

But hey, at least there’s hockey in Canadian New York City, so we’ll take it!

The Leafs were led by Auston Matthews in scoring this season as the 22-year-old center finished third in the NHL in goals with 47 of them in 70 games played. He had 80 points overall, which established career-highs in both goals and points in his fourth NHL season– and fourth consecutive season with at least 30 goals.

Oh and for the second time in his young career, Matthews reached the 40-goal plateau and was on the cusp of 50 had it not been for the ongoing pandemic cutting things short. He was on pace for 55 goals at the stoppage.

Mitchell Marner was second on the Leafs roster in scoring with 16-51–67 totals in 59 games played– surpassing the 50-assist plateau for the second straight season and further proving his vital role as a playmaker on the roster.

Meanwhile, John Tavares had 26 goals and 34 assists (60 points) in 63 games, which was down from his 47-41–88 totals last season, but then again, he was on pace for 78 points this season had the regular season seen its proper conclusion, so really he wasn’t all that far off from a typical Tavares year.

As it is, the only time Tavares has ever had less than 50 points in a season was in the lockout shortened, 48-game, 2012-13 season, in which he had 47 points in all 48 games.

Yeah, he’s pretty good.

In the crease, the Maple Leafs were led by Frederik Anderson (29-13-7 record in 52 games played, 2.85 GAA, .909 SV%, three shutouts), but hold the phone! What’s this? Toronto acquired a legitimate backup netminder during the season!?!

That’s right, Jack Campbell (3-2-1 in six games with Toronto, six starts, 2.63 GAA, .915 SV% in that span) is a Maple Leaf and– heaven forbid– is more than capable of bailing out Toronto if things get dire with Andersen.

Oh and Sheldon Keefe is in charge behind the bench.

Plus there’s a wild card this year for Toronto that the rest of the league has yet to see– Nick Robertson. You know, the forward that had 55-31–88 totals in 46 games with the Peterborough Petes (OHL) this season and brings both even more speed and skill to the Maple Leafs lineup.

At the other side of the rink, the Columbus Blue Jackets were battered all season and had a trio of goaltenders at one point as a result, yet somehow, here they are to the surprise of all the experts that had them pegged for 8th place in the Metropolitan Division heading into the 2019-20 season after losing Artemi Panarin, Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel and Sergei Bobrovsky in free agency.

It’s all just part of the plan.

Many had them out against the Lightning last year and, well, the Blue Jackets brought the thunder in that series.

Unfortunately for CBJ fans, they couldn’t bring the cannon through customs, but they were able to bring their leading scorer, Pierre-Luc Dubois, and his 18-31–49 totals in 70 games this season.

Gustav Nyquist had a respectable 42-point season (15 goals, 27 assists) in 70 games with Columbus after being brought in via free agency, while Zach Werenski was third on the team in scoring with 20 goals and 21 assists (41 points) from the blue line in 63 games.

Columbus has the better defense on paper, but Toronto’s offense has more than enough firepower to outmatch the Blue Jackets’ best efforts.

In goal, however, emerged the rise of a new king (but not of rock)– Elvis Merzlikins. Though Joonas Korpisalo (19-12-5, 2.60 GAA, .911 SV%, two shutouts) played in more games (37 played, 35 starts) than Merzlikins, No. 90 in red, white and blue had the better numbers with a 13-9-8 record in 33 games played (31 starts), as well as a 2.35 GAA, a .923 SV% and five shutouts.

It’s the dawn of a new age in Columbus as a hot, young, goaltending tandem has arrived with the departure of Bobrovsky.

It’ll be Merzlikins’ biggest test, but the Blue Jackets just might be a lot better off now more than ever riding the hot goaltender.

Plus they struck down the dragon last spring and made it out of the First Round for the first time in franchise history, so now anything’s possible moving forward.

On paper this is the most even matchup as both teams finished with 81 points, had 70 games played and went won one out of the two games they played against one another before the pandemic shortened the regular season, but it’s hard to ignore one thing– Tortorella.

Once more Tortorella is a Jack Adams Award finalist and, oh yeah, he’s kind of responsible for figuring out how to not only beat, but sweep the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2019 First Round– you know, last year’s Presidents’ Trophy winners.

But a newcomer has entered the chat and that’s Keefe. He led the Toronto Marlies (AHL) to the 2018 Calder Cup championship and many of the players in the Leafs system have encountered his touch in recent years.

Is Keefe the answer to Toronto’s prayers or will yet another team that’s come into the league since their last Cup in 1967 raise Lord Stanley’s mug over their heads while the Maple Leafs are off somewhere preparing for next season?

The good news, this isn’t technically the playoffs yet, so that means Toronto’s got a better chance off the bat.

There’s not as much of a distraction surrounding their opponent (*ahem* for once, it’s not Boston!– yet, anyway), let alone the “hasn’t made it out of the First Round since before the 2004-05 season-long lockout” specter that shadows the Leafs.

The bad news, they’re the Maple Leafs. Of course only something like a pandemic would throw off any momentum they had going into a possible playoff run, etc.

Imagine if the Chicago Cubs didn’t win in 2016, or the Boston Red Sox didn’t win in 2004– yeah, that’s how most Toronto fans feel day-in and day-out– no matter how confident– no matter how much belief they have in the team.

There’s always that chance that something something goes wrong and the curse or whatever remains hanging over the Maple Leafs dressing room and front office.

Leafs in five, then we’ll see what happens, but Tortorella’s teams aren’t easy to knock off their game. This alone might be Toronto’s greatest test in the Matthews, Marner and Co. Era.

Mike Babcock’s gone. They’re playing the “new age” game. Can they get it done?

Regular season outcomes:

4-1 TOR at Nationwide Arena on Oct. 4th, 4-3 F/OT CBJ at Scotiabank Arena on Oct. 21st

Schedule:

8/2- Game 1 CBJ @ TOR 8 PM ET on NHLN, SN, TVAS

8/4- Game 2 CBJ @ TOR 4 PM ET on NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN, TVAS

8/6- Game 3 TOR @ CBJ in Toronto TBD

8/7- Game 4 TOR @ CBJ in Toronto*

8/9- Game 5 CBJ @ TOR*

*If necessary


2020 Eastern Conference Round Robin Action

Here’s a quick glance at the Round Robin schedule for the top-four Eastern Conference teams if you’re not at all interested in the Qualifiers for some reason.

Again, all games in the Eastern Conference are in Toronto this year and all times Eastern.

Boston Bruins

44-14-12, 100 points, 70 GP, .714 PTS%, 38 RW

Aug. 2nd vs. PHI in Toronto 3 PM ET on NBC, SN, TVAS

Aug. 5th vs. TBL in Toronto 4 PM ET on NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN, TVAS

Aug. 9th @ WSH in Toronto, TBD

Tampa Bay Lightning

43-21-6, 92 points, 70 GP, .657 PTS%, 35 RW

Aug. 3rd vs. WSH in Toronto 4 PM ET on NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN360, TVAS

Aug. 5th @ BOS in Toronto 4 PM ET on NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN, TVAS

Aug. 8th vs. PHI in Toronto, TBD

Washington Capitals

41-20-8, 90 points, 69 GP, .652 PTS%, 31 RW

Aug. 3rd @TBL in Toronto 4 PM ET on NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN360, TVAS

Aug. 6th @ PHI in Toronto, TBD

Aug. 9th vs. BOS in Toronto, TBD

Philadelphia Flyers

41-21-7, 89 points, 69 GP, .645 PTS%, 31 RW

Aug. 2nd @ BOS in Toronto 3 PM ET on NBC, SN, TVAS

Aug. 6th vs. WSH in Toronto, TBD

Aug. 8th @ TBL in Toronto, TBD