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The definitive review of all 31 Reverse Retro jerseys

Adidas and the National Hockey League are trying something creative this season. It wouldn’t really be right to call it “new”, since most things are old anyway, but all 31 adidas Reverse Retro jerseys were revealed on Monday to mixed reviews by fans and jersey critics alike on social media.

In theory, “everything that’s old is new again” can be a reassuring nostalgic feeling, but it works best when you’re reuniting with friends you haven’t seen in a while and some of them haven’t changed one bit or something.

In reality, “everything that’s old is new again” is just a marketing ploy to sell jerseys and– to the dismay of my wallet– I’m sold. Somewhat.

Not every jersey is perfect, but some are unique, some are good looking and others are downright attractive.

Yes, it’s possible to be seduced by sweater threads. Ask any jersey collector.

Before we begin, there’s just one question left to ask– what, exactly, were the prerequisites for determining what could be considered “retro”?

There’s inconsistency across the board between all 31 teams, but that’s bound to happen since some have been around since before the league’s inception (see, Montreal Canadiens) and other teams are just entering their fourth season of existence (shoutout Vegas Golden Knights).

Alright, let’s grade some sweaters.

Editor’s note: Yes, adidas picked a single year that each jersey represents, but we’re going to present a more accurate timeline for when each original design was flying around the ice.

Anaheim Ducks (based on the 1995-96 alternate)

The Anaheim Ducks must have been browsing eBay one night, saw that the original “Wild Wing” (or “Mighty Wing”, if you prefer) jerseys often sell for double the price of a regular adidas authentic jersey these days and said to themselves “gee, we could make that money easily” without realizing that the sales on eBay do not– in any part– go to the Ducks themselves.

Nevertheless, this is a good plan B, but almost everything from the Mighty Ducks era is beloved except for one thing– whatever’s happening on this jersey.

For one season, it’s a good gimmick and a quick cash grab (especially for the drying up reserves due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic).

It’s standard for an NHL team to reach back in time, change a thing or two and sell a lot of “new” jerseys. Solid effort, Anaheim.

It shouldn’t come back out of the vault ever again.

Grade: C

Arizona Coyotes (based on the 1998-2003 alternate)

This is one of my favorite jerseys in the Reverse Retro bunch simply for the fact that the Arizona Coyotes took an already legendary concept from the 1990s and made it better.

Sure the original look wasn’t great (but also not as horrendous as you probably remember) back in the day, but this time around it looks much better with purple as the base color instead of green.

Why? Because the Coyotes’ moon logo is primarily purple and purple is featured more prominently in the crest logo on this jersey than the green ever was– plus is makes the saguaro inspired cacti design at the bottom pop.

Purple is the night sky of a desert sunset. It accentuates the mountains and rock formations in the lower third.

In simple terms, this jersey is art. It’s a masterpiece.

Grade: A

Boston Bruins (based on the 1981-95 design)

A simple remix of an iconic look that the Boston Bruins used for many years spanning the likenesses of Terry O’Reilly, Ray Bourque and Cam Neely in the “Big Bad Bruins”/”Lunchpail A.C.” era, this Reverse Retro redesign works well as a short-term implementation of the league’s fourth jersey rotation to Boston’s lineup.

Could it become something that sticks in the Hub for a while? Sure, but the franchise would be best to use this for a few seasons and work on an incredible new gold design.

Though it’s hard to argue not resurrecting the bear patch on the shoulders full-time. That bear has seen some things.

The Bruins last used a gold-based jersey in the 2010 Winter Classic and a gold-based third jersey in 1995-96 (the first year of the NHL’s official third jersey program). Prior to that, the B’s actually wore gold for select games from 1940-44, then again as a primary design from 1955-67, when the team was mostly irrelevant to the overall league standings.

It must be mentioned, however, that when Bobby Orr first laced up for Boston, he was wearing a gold uniform in his 1966-67 rookie season.

Simply put, the Bruins need a gold jersey in their rotation. This one works (for now).

Grade: A

Buffalo Sabres (based on the 2000-06 alternate)

The Buffa-goat is back. Kind of.

It’s on the shoulders and modernized with the current color scheme (so… Buffalo’s original colors), but the Sabres opted to cancel out one of their positive changes made in the offseason with a negative resurrection.

No, the two swords logo on the front isn’t bad, but one thing that never made me feel anything special for the original 2000-06 alternates was the fact that the city’s name appears in the lower striping pattern.

It’s neat, but is it necessary?

At least it looks better in traditional Sabres colors and the number font is just like “the good old days” when Buffalo dominated the league with players like Miroslav Satan, Maxim Afinogenov, Daniel Brière and others.

If the Sabres make the playoffs for the first time since 2011, then we’ll know the real reason why the franchise has been awful for about a decade. It all comes down to style points.

Grade: A

Calgary Flames (based on the 1998-2006 alternate)

Yes, folks, as the Calgary Flames’ tweet mentions– “Blasty” is back.

Now get off your high horse if you think this is truly a “Reverse Retro” jersey and not just an updated alternate/fourth sweater.

There was just one minor change to the eye in this design– aside from the white flaming “C” instead of how it looked originally on the shoulders in red– and it’s the striping pattern on the bottom.

There’s significantly less red to this jersey. It isn’t bad, but just… …not great. It doesn’t really “reverse” anything major, which discredits the basic foundation and understanding of the Reverse Retro ideology.

Had adidas gone in a different direction and made a white reversed version of the iconic “Blasty” look, then Calgary would be getting a better grade.

Grade: C

Carolina Hurricanes (based on the Hartford Whalers 1979-82, 1983-85 design)

Prior to the 2018-19 season, the Carolina Hurricanes introduced a Hartford Whalers Throwback jersey that they wore three times between 2018-20 (twice against the Boston Bruins in 2018-19 and once against the Los Angeles Kings in 2019-20).

Despite not playing in Hartford since relocating to North Carolina ahead of the 1997-98 season, Carolina made every effort to get into character– even dressing up PNC Arena in Whalers colors on the inside of the barn, but there was one thing missing from the look.

This time around the Canes have added “Pucky” to the shoulders of this second iteration of a throwback sweater.

It’s grey though, which isn’t so much of an inversion of the 1979 color scheme so much as it is a reversal of the 1992-97 final design before leaving Hartford.

At the very least the Hurricanes deserve credit for going all-in on the retro requirement and not coming up with any “fauxback” shenanigans using Whalers colors on a Carolina logo.

Grade: B+

Chicago Blackhawks (based on the 1940-41 design)

Well, this is… something.

Back in 1940, the Chicago Blackhawks only had the crest on their dark jersey with the white jersey simply having numbers on the front and back a la American football teams.

This is, in fact, a Reverse Retro with the overall design of the white jersey from the 1940-41 season now done in black, but the logo was understandably modified to make it… less racist than it was back then?

Sure the Blackhawks name itself was done in honor of both a military division and a prominent Sauk nation member, Black Hawk, and the club does (at best) more than other professional teams that have recently changed their name (see, Washington Football Team) to honor indigenous people, but the logo isn’t great.

The overall aesthetic is simplistic, but sharp. Why ruin it with a caricature?

Grade: D+

Colorado Avalanche (based on the Québec Nordiques 1991-95 design)

It’s hard to imagine what the Québec Nordiques would look like today– especially since they were rebranding for the 1995-96 season anyway had they not relocated to Denver, Colorado, but the Avalanche have provided a clear look at what wouldn’t have been a terrible idea if the Nordiques had decided to go with the rebrand in the ’90s, then settle back down from a period of throwing caution to the wind.

There’s nothing wrong with bringing something out of the closet once in a while, but someone might cry “jersey foul” if it’s exactly as things used to look before relocating.

That makes things difficult for Carolina and Colorado to do a Reverse Retro sweater without leaving someone feeling like they’ve had their team “stolen” once again.

But whatever, these are meant to make a profit off of nostalgic feelings and jersey collectors. Buy one or not, it doesn’t affect the feelings of the overall brand.

The fact that the Avs and Canes lay claim to the old logos helps them make it out alive in the grueling course of Reverse Retro critics, unlike the Minnesota Wild’s attempt at being the Minnesota North Stars without stepping on the Dallas Stars’ history too much.

Now the only question I have left for the Avalanche is should I get this in Nathan MacKinnon or Mikko Rantanen?

Grade: A

Columbus Blue Jackets (based on the 2000-01 design)

The Columbus Blue Jackets read the directions for the assignment and nearly got a 100% on the final exam. These jerseys are incredible– even if they remind you of the early days of the Washington Capitals (and Washington’s current alternate jersey).

Sure the original Blue Jackets logo is a bit out there, but Columbus set the bar in terms of doing something different and giving the fans in the heart of Ohio a red jersey for the first time in franchise history.

It shouldn’t become commonplace, since– you know– they’re the Blue Jackets– “blue” is literally in their name, but for an “outlandish” marketing standpoint, this jersey has everything.

Except for one thing. Stinger’s not on the shoulder patch.

For whatever reason, adidas decided to include Columbus’ current cannon shoulder patch/alternate logo on this jersey instead of following the guidelines of simply reversing their original look.

That’s why they almost got a “100” on their exam. Just a few points off for not including the most iconic thing about the franchise’s early years and current mascot.

Grade: A

Dallas Stars (based on their 1997-2006 design)

Adidas claims this jersey is based on Dallas’ 1999 Stanley Cup champion look, but the star based design for the Stars began as a third jersey in 1997, before making its way to the full-time grounds for the home and road uniforms from 1999-2006.

Since rebranding ahead of the 2013-14 season, Dallas has put an emphasis on one thing– being Dallas. Gone are the days of the Minnesota North Stars. By removing any semblance of gold from their jersey, the Stars fully completed their transition from pre-relocation to post-relocation.

As a result, this monstrosity happened.

It’s not that the star-shaped design isn’t appreciated– it’s that it shouldn’t be matched with white pants, white gloves, white socks and drained of any color or originality to begin with, since the crest is rather muted as a result of the change from gold to silver on a white background.

Had the jersey been black with a white bottom star-striping pattern then it’d be a different story.

Grade: D

Detroit Red Wings (based on their 1987-2007 design)

Once more, adidas claims that this Reverse Retro jersey harkens back to a championship winning year for the Detroit Red Wings back in 1998. In reality, the Red Wings wore the same look from 1987-2007, with the only difference being that since the 2003-04 season, the NHL deemed white jerseys to be the road set instead of the home uniform.

This jersey seems to borrow the silver from Detroit’s 2017 Centennial Classic jersey to give it a little more definition than a long-sleeved plain white shirt with a logo slapped on the front and red numbers with a nameplate on the sides and back.

If only they would’ve picked something from Detroit’s days as the Detroit Cougars or even the Detroit Falcons.

The Cougars had some designs unlike any other in franchise history, while the Falcons used yellow with the usual red and white format for the club– marking the only time the team has ever used more than just red and white on a regular sweater.

Reversing the Falcons colors would’ve been a hard sell, sure, but the Cougars, man. There was potential and it was left untapped.

Grade: F

Edmonton Oilers (based on the 1979-80 design)

It’s simple, clean and a nod to the team’s inaugural NHL season, while subtly paying homage to their pre-Edmonton Oilers days as the Alberta Oilers in the World Hockey Association (WHA).

Orange is more prominent in what would otherwise likely be a better companion to their home uniform as a road jersey than their current road set, but that’s just probably one of the reasons why the entire jersey wasn’t done in orange instead of white as the base design– because it already exists (sure, with the more modern shade of blue and traffic cone orange, but you get the point).

These aren’t bad, but the Oilers never really stray far from the formula.

Todd McFarlane at least had fun with the brand and nudged it towards the future with his 2001-07 alternate jersey– love it or hate it.

There are just… …fine. The logo wasn’t reversed like some had hoped, but whatever.

Grade: B-

Florida Panthers (based on the 1993-98 design)

The Florida Panthers have long had an identity crisis.

For some, the leaping panther is a better looking logo than today’s spitting image of current head coach, Joel Quenneville, despite the modern logo dating back to the 2016-17 season, which was prior to Quenneville’s arrival behind the bench last season.

Confused? That’s exactly how Florida feels.

This team has probably flipped from red to blue and back again as many times as the state has in U.S. Presidential elections in the last few decades.

Florida’s first dark based uniform was red, then added a blue alternate jersey to their rotation from 1998-2003, before swapping the red with the blue as their new home look from 2003-06, prior to de-arching the nameplates on the back of the jersey on an otherwise untouched design in 2006-07– which was prior to Reebok’s demands that the Panthers use a template with vertical piping centered between the underarms and crest from 2007-11.

Anyway, the Panthers need a blue uniform in their set and this one utilizes the current colors of the franchise (red, blue, tan and white) well in the inverted aesthetic of how the club looked when the team first hit the ice in South Florida after almost being named the Florida Block Busters upon expansion in 1993.

At this point anything else is just filler material to describe a masterpiece that doesn’t really need words to be observed.

Grade: A

Los Angeles Kings (based on the 1988-91 design)

Purple “Forum Blue” is back and the Los Angeles Kings have never felt more royal– except for that time they won the Cup twice in a three-year span in 2012 and 2014.

The timeless look of the Wayne Gretzky era jerseys were given a fresh paint job with old leftover colors, which begs the question “is this really a Reverse Retro look or something new entirely from recycled parts?”

Has marketing gone too far?

Probably not, since there’s no burgers involved this time around.

While the Kings could’ve come up with something different, Los Angeles played it safe and went with something that encapsulates the spirit of the city– trying to be the Los Angeles Lakers.

You might not know some of the struggling actors in Hollywood or if that really was just Anze Kopitar that walked by, but everyone can identity a favorite (or hated, if you’re a Boston Celtics fan) Laker.

Grade: C+

Minnesota Wild (based on the Minnesota North Stars 1978-79 design)

Whereas the Carolina Hurricanes and Colorado Avalanche own and used some form of their old logo from prior to relocation for their Reverse Retro jerseys, the Minnesota Wild have no ties to the Minnesota North Stars because the North Stars moved to Dallas in 1993, so we’re left with the Wild logo as the crest on the front in 3-D and in North Stars colors.

By default, these jerseys should’ve been what the Stars used, but with the North Stars stylized “N” on the front of the jersey or Dallas could’ve just let Minnesota buy back that old logo or whatever, but instead we get this jersey that looks more appropriate for a local beer league team sponsored by Subway.

Some say the Wild should switch to these colors full time– especially with Dallas relinquishing gold from their palette ahead of the 2013-14 season, but those people should just move on like the North Stars did.

The Wild are here to stay and could’ve been really creative with a red or tan based primary color in a true Reverse Retro design based on their original look from 2000-03.

Besides, Minnesota could use a red jersey as an alternate, whether you like it or not. It is one of their team colors and it could go well with their more uniform approach to their jerseys since adidas took over ahead of the 2017-18 season.

Otherwise these are just fine. The yellow on green number font gives off a “Da Beauty League” vibe, which just isn’t very like the NHL to have fun.

Grade: C

Montreal Canadiens (based on the 1974-2007 design with 1909 elements, etc.)

While the Montreal Canadiens played it rather conservative with regards to their Reverse Retro look, the designers over at adidas really came up with something crisp, clean and hit it out of the park.

Montreal last had a third sweater in 2006-07, and it was really well done for being the one and only regular alternate jersey in franchise history.

Though the Habs have a timeless look that isn’t one to be messed with in any matter, there’s always an exception to every rule and this is it if the Canadiens are planning on using this blue jersey as an alternate in the long-term.

Then again, people from Montreal might feel weird about wearing what would otherwise be considered the Nordiques’ primary color, so there’s the “Battle of Québec” to consider.

If you’re a Habs diehard, maybe you don’t like this jersey. If you’re from Québec City and begrudgingly became a Habs fan after the Nordiques relocated to Colorado instead of joining the Boston Bruins fanbase north of the border or simply following the Avalanche, then perhaps this is the jersey for you.

Grade: A

Nashville Predators (based on the 1998-2001 design)

If the Nashville Predators had walked out onto the ice wearing these in 1998, it would’ve explained their evolution to the modern marigold jerseys a lot better than the simple reversal of the colors that they originally made ahead of the 2011-12 season before Reverse Retro became a thing for 2020-21 (and beyond?).

That said, Nashville’s original look inverted to a gold based jersey with the blue stripe separating the silver yoke that runs down the sleeves still looks fantastic– and with the old number and nameplate fonts too!

The one thing that’s not true to the original 1998 design (other than the slightly modified original crest), however, is the shoulder patch that originally debuted on the mustard yellow alternate sweater from 2001-07, but made its way to the home and road uniform’s shoulders from 2005-07.

Does that actually mean this look is really just based on the 2005-07 design and adidas doesn’t think that something as old as 15 years ago isn’t, you know, actually kind of old?

No big deal though, these jerseys are still great, since the Predators went with the better shoulder patch from their early days.

The guitar pick that’s been on their right shoulder of their regular jerseys since 2011 shouldn’t be afraid of going extinct.

Grade: A

New Jersey Devils (based on the 1982-92 design)

Italy! Great to see they finally got an NHL team.

The New Jersey Devils are paying homage to The Sopranos with these Italian flag inspired jerseys.

Actually, it’s just the inverted color scheme of their original road jersey and the Devils have a quality Reverse Retro jersey on their hands. If they plan on keeping the Heritage Jersey long-term, then this brings a fine balance to The Force.

If not, New Jersey should really design a black alternate jersey and roll with red, white, black and green as their main color scheme among the club’s four jersey options.

Now why do I have a craving for Sbarro?

Grade: A

New York Islanders (based on the 1978-84 design)

Was the Gorton’s Fisherman unavailable?

It doesn’t really look like the New York Islanders even tried at all, but upon further inspection you’ll notice that the orange and white are reversed on this jersey– and that’s besides the fact that the blue is a darker shade than how it looked back in the day (and nowadays too).

To the Isles’ credit, this jersey isn’t outlandish like most of their other attempts at creating a contemporary image for their club.

It’s uninspiring and, frankly, not that original, but it works. It just doesn’t offer much for the Reverse Retro vibes, however, which takes major points off overall.

At the very least it wasn’t oversimplified like their neighbors’ new threads in Manhattan.

Grade: D

New York Rangers (based on the 1996-98, 1999-2007 alternate)

Want to know how to kill a good thing? Make it a practice jersey.

These Statue of Liberty jerseys don’t scream “[g]ive me your tired “, but rather “I’m tired and I shouldn’t have been awoken. Now let me go back to sleep.”

The striping pattern on the sleeves would look better on a New England Patriots pro-shop sweater, which should probably unnerve New York Giants and New York Jets fans that are also New York Rangers fans.

It should’ve been red with blue, silver and white inverted stripes to truly make it “Reverse Retro”.

Instead, New York gave us this. Whatever this is.

Grade: F

Ottawa Senators (based on the 1992-93 design with the 1997-2007 crest)

Are you upset about the Ottawa Senators going back and modernizing an early version of their 2-D logo while casting off the red based home jerseys into the sunset? Well then here’s a red jersey for you!

It’s the reverse of the original black jersey, which is sort of back (there’s some minor differences in number font, striping, etc.) and it’s fine, but it just feels like something Sens fans have come to know and despise in recent years– it feels cheap.

Sure, Brady Tkachuk, Thomas Chabot, Matt Murray and Co. will look good in it, but introducing this jersey alongside the resurrected homage to the days of yore that the team currently has as home and road sweaters just makes this whole thing feel off.

That said, Ottawa does need a red jersey to complete their otherwise timeless set and it wasn’t like we’re going to get a reversed barber pole jersey anytime soon.

Usually something a little different is preferred, though, to make it feel like an alternate or at least a throwback to the original Senators franchise. This will work for now, however.

Grade: B+

Philadelphia Flyers (based on the 1984-97 design)

The inside of the neck of the jersey says it’s inspired by Philadelphia’s look in 1995, but the Flyers wore this design for much longer before, during and after the mid-90s.

Hell, the base of this design first emerged when “Cooperalls” were adorned, then promptly banned by the NHL because after two seasons they were found to be too much of a safety hazard (sliding on ice without any brakes became an issue because of the nature of the pants’ ability to act like a broom in curling and clear a path to the boards).

Anyway, the Flyers already have a solid set of jerseys to the extent that this one isn’t really necessary.

It might conjure images of Halloween, nightmares of Gritty or reminders of being sent down to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL) if you don’t perform well in them, but they’re fine, I guess.

Unnecessary, but fine.

Grade: C

Pittsburgh Penguins (based on the 1992-97 design)

The Pittsburgh Penguins became bold in the 1990s after winning their first Stanley Cup ring in franchise history.

First, in 1992, they introduced the “Robo-Penguin” crest to the world, then they made a jersey with diagonal lettering on the front as their road uniform.

Neither decision was very smart and only one of them was corrected on this Reverse Retro jersey, which– all things considered– doesn’t look that bad.

Sure the Penguin on the shoulders is free from his triangle like on their current alternate jerseys (former 2017 Stadium Series look), but the “Pittsburgh” letting seems to standout better on the white edition of this timeless classic (for better or worse).

More teams should experiment with diagonal alternates, but that’s not to say that every team can succeed– let alone barely get away with an acceptable look with just words on the front of their jersey.

There’s a lot of rich jersey history for the Pens though and some of that potential went untapped. It’s a shame, really.

Grade: C+

St. Louis Blues (based on the 1995-98 design)

Aside from the music, the St. Louis Blues are blue for a reason. Sure red is in the St. Louis city flag, but they’re the Blues. The BLUES.

This is almost as bad as the trumpet jerseys that were rightfully spited to the gates of the underworld.

It’d almost make sense to put the shoulder patch as the main crest on these, since then it’d at least make sense as an homage to what was almost the worst alternate jersey in the history of the league, but thankfully avoided due to Mike Keenan’s keen eye.

Some things are just better in concept, but in reality they’re not. As a fashion jersey, this is probably fine. As something the team has to wear on the ice for a game, well… …that’s different.

At least the team didn’t end up moving to Saskatoon back in 1983, right?

Grade: D

San Jose Sharks (based on the 1997-2007 design)

Adidas stipulates that this jersey harkens back to 1998, but the San Jose Sharks originally used this template as an alternate jersey back in 1997-98– the final season that San Jose wore their original uniforms since joining the league in 1991 as an expansion team.

The original Sharks logo is a timeless classic from the ’90s, while the fact that San Jose has already reached back and utilized their original setup to mark their 25th anniversary back in the 2015-16 season, it’s only fitting that they’d naturally move onto their second ever look for the subsequent nod to their franchise history.

In other words, ten years from now, you can probably expect an orange Reverse Retro jersey based on the 2007-13 design, because that’d keep the pattern going.

Anyway, these are fine. They’re nothing spectacular, since grey is a hard sell on a home uniform, but reviving an iconic look without murdering it by reversing it is exactly what the Reverse Retro jerseys are all about.

Grade: B

Tampa Bay Lightning (based on the 2001-07 design)

They really like pointing out when teams won Cups years ago with these jerseys, huh? Once again, adidas points out that this is from “2004” (as in “the year the Tampa Bay Lightning won their first Stanley Cup championship in franchise history”), but the Bolts used this template from 2001-07 after originally debuting the frameworks of this jersey when they first hit the ice in 1992 as an expansion team.

Tampa refined the look over the years by changing the number and nameplate font to italics, changing the font altogether and finally landing on the look that they wore the last time they won the Cup before 2020.

As such, these Reverse Retro jerseys are a great nod to the Lightning’s history as a hockey market.

Though their current uniforms might be a bit plain, a blue version of what is essentially their original design adds a spark of life to their complete jersey set.

Teams sometimes go back to old motifs after a while and if these are popular enough, the Lightning would be smart to find a way to mix their current logo with this jersey template or something.

Grade: A

Toronto Maple Leafs (based on the 1967-70 design and 1970-72, 1973-75 design, etc.)

What were they thinking? Seriously, what were they thinking?

It’s one thing to pull out the old alternate Leaf logo on the shoulders from “the bad Leaf era” or whatever, but it’s another thing to use elements from the 1960s Toronto Maple Leafs jersey and slap it on the 1970s and 1980s jersey design.

Toronto introduced new jerseys for the 1967 Stanley Cup Playoffs and went on to win the Cup wearing the Leafs logo that was brought back for its appearance on this Reverse Retro jersey, but again, it’s a sin according to Leafs fans and historians to put it on the base design of some of the worst Maple Leafs hockey in franchise history.

Also, it’s a crime to put a blue maple leaf on a blue Maple Leafs jersey– and with blue numbers on the sides and back too!

There’s so much adidas could’ve done with Toronto’s lengthy history of jerseys and instead they went for the most bland design.

If they hadn’t used up the throwbacks to the Toronto Arenas and Toronto St. Pats over the last few years, then that would’ve been a great opportunity for a Reverse Retro look that was truly something special.

Even still, they could’ve gone with anything from 1927-67 or 1992-2011 for a better retro feel.

These are just insulting to the Leafs’ legacy.

Grade: F

Vancouver Canucks (based on the 2001-06 alternate)

Gradients aren’t usually something that look great in sports– especially on a hockey jersey. Yet, this time around the Vancouver Canucks have made significant strides in gradient technology.

When this template first hit the ice in 2001, Vancouver utilized a slow change from blue to maroon which– while being a little bit out there– didn’t look completely out of place for Canucks standards.

It wasn’t the greatest thing ever seen, but it also wasn’t the worst, since Vancouver’s previous gradient design was a horizontal change as opposed to the almost symmetrical vertical approach.

Plus, the Canucks had those “V” jerseys before, so it can’t possibly get any worse, right?

This time around, instead of maroon, the Canucks are using green and a sharper looking number font. Sometimes progress takes time, but when it’s allowed the time to grow, the end result is something pretty special.

These Reverse Retro threads get a seal of approval as one of the better nods to an organization’s more recent past.

Grade: A

Vegas Golden Knights (based on the Las Vegas Thunder 1993-98 design)

The Vegas Golden Knights were born in 2017, therefore making it pretty difficult to reverse something retro that hadn’t even been born yet.

If you were thinking “well, they could at least reverse the colors of their jerseys” then you must not have noticed the introduction of their gold alternate uniform this offseason, so that limits you further.

Unless you get creative.

“Sin City” used to have an International Hockey League (IHL) team known as the Las Vegas Thunder.

The Thunder had a primarily a 1990s looking teal, silver, black and white color scheme and used the template that Vegas based their Reverse Retro jersey on to design this red edition with the Golden Knights’ alternate logo on the front of it.

It works, but at what cost?

Vegas could use a red jersey in their overall selection of jerseys to choose from, but this one probably won’t be getting too much time in the spotlight.

Even for a place where “a bit much” is the standard, this jersey seems a bit too much.

Grade: C

Washington Capitals (based on the 1995-2000 road design)

The Washington Capitals hit a home run by digging out the eagle and updating it with their current colors. The only thing that should change if these become part of their jersey rotation is the name and number font.

It’s nice to see something from the past brought into the future, but it’d also be nice to see it get cleaned up a bit more than just the occasional dusting.

It’s an iconic look from the days of a questionable change in the direction of the franchise’s branding, but in the end it made the team that much better.

Or maybe this all just the nostalgia talking. Either way, it gets them an “A”.

Grade: A

Winnipeg Jets (based on the old 1979-80 Winnipeg Jets)

Like the Minnesota Wild and their relation to the Minnesota North Stars, the current Winnipeg Jets have nothing to do with the old Winnipeg Jets, but at least the Jets have the ability to use the old Jets logo.

They also have the ability to use the old Jets’ colors, which could’ve led to a unique red based Reverse Retro jersey, but we got something that looks like it was designed by Snow Miser instead.

Did it really have to be grey?

The Aviator Jersey is at least more colorful than this and did a better job inverting the color scheme than whatever’s going on here.

The logo is fine, the rest of the jersey is, well, it leaves something to be desired.

Grade: D-

Categories
Free Agency NHL Nick's Net

Khudobin’s staying home, signs three-year extension with Dallas

After a miraculous run that ultimately led to defeat in the Stanley Cup Final, Anton Khudobin re-signed with the Dallas Stars on a three-year contract worth $10 million ($3.333 million per season) through the 2022-23 season.

The 34-year-old goaltender was originally drafted by the Minnesota Wild in the seventh round (206th overall) of the 2004 NHL Draft and made his league debut with Wild in the 2009-10 season and spent parts of two seasons with Minnesota.

On Feb. 28, 2011, Khudobin was traded to the Boston Bruins, where he played until he joined the Carolina Hurricanes as a free agent on July 5, 2013.

After parts of two seasons with Carolina, the Ust-Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan native was dealt to the Anaheim Ducks on June 27, 2015, then appeared in nine games with the Ducks before he was sent down to the San Diego Gulls (AHL).

He returned to Boston on July 1, 2016, with a two-year deal, then left the Bruins again via free agency for Dallas on July 1, 2018, serving as the Stars’ backup goaltender in a 1A/1B tandem with Ben Bishop for the last two seasons.

Khudobin made his first NHL postseason start and earned his first career Stanley Cup Playoff shutout in the 2020 postseason and had a 16-8-4 record with a 2.22 goals against average and a .930 save percentage in 30 games played in the 2019-20 regular season for Dallas.

He has a career 99-76-25 record in 218 NHL games spanning 11 seasons for the Wild, Bruins, Hurricanes, Ducks and Stars with a career 2.46 GAA and a career .919 SV%, as well as eight shutouts in that time.

In 27 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, Khudobin has a 14-10 record with a 2.63 GAA, as well as a .919 SV% and one shutout.

Categories
Free Agency

Petrovic signs with Flames

The Calgary Flames had a strong opening day in free agency. Not only did they add Jacob Markstrom earlier in the day on Friday, but Calgary also added Alexander Petrovic with a one-year, two-way, contract worth $700,000 at the NHL level and $300,000 at the AHL level.

Petrovic did not play in an NHL game last season after signing a professional tryout agreement with the Boston Bruins at training camp, then later earning a one-year contract and being sent to the Providence Bruins (AHL).

He amassed 2-18–20 totals in 54 games with the P-Bruins last season and might be a little more than just a depth signing if the Flames were in dire need.

Calgary wanted to improve their defense and they got their guy. What a time to be a Flames fan right now.

Categories
Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #208- Lightning Strikes Twice/Offseason Part II

Nick and Colby are annoyed by technological difficulties both on and off the podcast, so this is the best of their talk about the 2020 Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning, potential rebuild in Arizona, Patric Hornqvist trade and more. Seriously, the audio is that bad.

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Categories
NHL Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Take Five: Five takeaways from Game 2 of the 2020 Western Conference Final

Paul Stastny opened the game’s scoring with the eventual game-winning goal as the Vegas Golden Knights shutout the Dallas Stars, 3-0, in Game 2 of the 2020 Western Conference Final to tie the series, 1-1.

William Karlsson and Tomas Nosek each had a goal in the win as the Golden Knights evened the series thanks to Robin Lehner’s second consecutive shutout– his fourth of the postseason overall.

So with Game 3 in mind on Thursday night (8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS), let’s review some takeaways from Game 2 and where the series might go from here.

1. Now that we’ve seen Vegas respond, the obvious “will Dallas respond in Game 3?” must be asked.

Dallas came out flying in Game 1, despite only scoring one goal and winning, 1-0– Vegas looked flat to kick off the series.

Just like in 2018, however, the Golden Knights went full throttle in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final, nearly scored four goals (Shea Theodore had a goal disallowed due to incidental contact with the goaltender courtesy of Max Pacioretty on the doorstep of the crease) and notched the shutout to tie the series.

Now, of course, how will the Stars respond?

Especially since they were outshot, 8-5, in the first period and, 19-7, in the second period alone. After 40 minutes, the Stars trailed the Golden Knights, 3-0, on the scoreboard (all Vegas goals were scored in the second period– traditionally what has been a better period for Dallas since their comeback over the Calgary Flames in Game 6 back in the First Round) and, 27-12, in total shots on goal entering the second intermission.

To Dallas’ credit, however, the Stars outshot Vegas, 12-5, in the third period alone.

In fact, the Golden Knights didn’t even have a shot on goal through the midpoint of the final frame, despite finishing with the advantage in shots on net, 32-24, at the final horn.

How will Stars interim head coach, Rick Bowness, respond to Vegas bringing out the big guns?

Especially since Ryan Reaves returned from his one-game suspension and suited up alongside William Carrier and Nick Cousins, which has been an effective shutdown fourth line thus far in the postseason.

2. Never tip your hand on a good future goalie.

Stars goalie, Jake Oettinger, made his NHL debut after Anton Khudobin was pulled prior to the third period.

The Boston University Terriers men’s hockey team standout amassed a league-leading .917 SV% among first year American Hockey League goaltenders in 2019-20 with the Texas Stars (AHL affiliate of Dallas).

Oettinger was the second goalie to make his league debut this postseason, joining Dan Vladar of the Boston Bruins as the other goalie to do so in the 2020 playoffs and marking the first time since 1937, that two goalies made their NHL debuts in the same postseason.

Whereas Vladar was fed to the wolves (a.k.a. the Tampa Bay Lightning) without much help in both ends of the ice, the Stars played better in front of their backup goaltender after clearly getting the message from Bowness– that they had let Khudobin down.

Oettinger only faced five shots and made five saves in 17:09 time on ice.

Yes, you read that right.

Despite Khudobin amassing 40 minutes played on Tuesday, Oettinger played less than a full period because Bowness pulled his netminder for an extra attacker with lots of time remaining in the game on the off-chance Dallas could score three quick goals and tie the game, at least.

They did not, but in the meantime, at least they didn’t rush Oettinger into any NHL action before it became absolutely necessary (though some watchful eyes of the minor leagues might wonder why Oettinger didn’t get a start earlier in the postseason to offset Khudobin’s workload while Ben Bishop is still injured and “unfit to play”).

Kudos to the Stars for not letting everyone else know about Oettinger’s impressive development thus far, though.

3. So… Robin Lehner the rest of the way?

This one should be obvious, but Lehner just had his fourth shutout this postseason (and second consecutive, if you didn’t read earlier).

Though Marc-Andre Fleury made 24 saves on 25 shots in Game 1, Lehner is the hotter goaltender right now– hands down.

Fleury’s 2.27 goals against average and .910 save percentage is fine. It pairs well with his 3-1 record in four games in the 2020 postseason.

But Lehner has a 1.84 GAA and a .924 SV% to go with the four shutouts, as well as a 9-4 record in 13 games played, which, if you’re wondering is better than Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Lightning in GAA and shutouts.

Vasilevskiy is 11-3 with Tampa so far in 14 games and has a 1.92 GAA, a .930 SV% and no shutouts in that span.

Yeah, this should be an easy decision for Golden Knights head coach, Peter DeBoer. It’s Lehner’s crease until the team advances or comes up short this year.

4. They scored a goal (at even strength)!

The Golden Knights entered Game 2 against Dallas without a goal from their forwards at even strength since the third period of Game 4 against the Vancouver Canucks in the Second Round.

Thankfully, Stastny put an end to Vegas’ misery at 5-on-5 (or 4-on-4) play with his third goal of the 2020 postseason at 4:53 of the second period.

Vegas added one more goal at even strength when Nosek scored his second playoff goal this year on a beautiful 3-on-1 rush to make it a three-goal game at 14:32 of the second period.

Prior to Stastny’s tally, however, the Golden Knights’ last four goals (dating back to Game 6 against Vancouver in the Second Round) included two empty net goals and a pair of goals from Theodore.

As long as the compete level from Game 2 doesn’t dissipate, Vegas looks to have snapped their even strength skid.

5. Shutouts galore!

Vegas’ last four games have all been shutouts.

The Canucks shutout the Golden Knights, 4-0, in Game 6 of their Second Round matchup as Thatcher Demko emerged as a playoff hero before the Golden Knights returned the favor with a, 3-0, shutout in Game 7– courtesy of Lehner.

To kick things off in the 2020 Western Conference Final, Khudobin had a, 1-0, shutout in Game 1 for the Stars, then Lehner returned the favor again with another, 3-0, shutout in Game 2 for Vegas.

Then there’s this to consider– Lehner is the first NHL goaltender to record four shutouts in a single postseason since Fleury did so in 2018 with the Golden Knights on their run to a Stanley Cup Final appearance in their inaugural season.

Only five goalies in league history have recorded more shutouts in a playoff year.

Lehner’s extended his shutout streak to 131:44 in the process, which is the second-longest postseason shutout streak by a Golden Knights goaltender since Fleury had a 144:04 shutout streak going in 2018.

And finally, with both teams earning a shutout through the first two games of the Western Conference Final, Dallas and Vegas joined the Toronto Maple Leafs and Columbus Blue Jackets this season as the only teams to record shutouts in their first two games in a series this year.

The Stars and Golden Knights also joined a longer list in the process since the NHL’s Modern Era (since 1943-44) that includes the Lightning and New York Islanders in the 2004 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal, the Islanders and Ottawa Senators in the 2003 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal, the Philadelphia Flyers and Senators in the 2002 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal, the Florida Panthers and New York Rangers in the 1997 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal, the New Jersey Devils and Rangers in the 1997 Eastern Conference Semifinal and the Montreal Canadiens and Maple Leafs in the 1947 Stanley Cup Final.

Here’s to another shutout in Game 3 for either team to make more history, probably.

Categories
Podcasts

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

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

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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.

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Categories
Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #203- Hockey Christmas In August

The 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers and Round Robin tournament are almost underway, but this episode has almost nothing to do with that!

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

Categories
Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #202- What Are Your Qualifications?/Let’s Get Kraken

Using Qualifiers to enhance this postseason (it’s a breakdown of the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers and Round Robin action). Plus the Seattle Kraken!

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