Some firsts, 100s, broken fingers and pointing fingers– who should be concerned about their job security behind the bench? Plus Cap’n and Pete are back.
Steven Stamkos’ only goal in a shootout was enough to lift the Tampa Bay Lightning over the Boston Bruins, 4-3, on Thursday night at TD Garden.
The Bolts led briefly in the third period before the B’s tied the game almost two minutes later and forced overtime.
Andrei Vasilevskiy (4-1-0, 2.58 goals against average, .921 save percentage in five games played) made 34 saves on 37 shots against for a .919 SV% in the shootout win for Tampa.
Boston goaltender, Tuukka Rask (3-0-1, 1.72 GAA, .946 SV% in four games played) stopped 33 out of 36 shots faced for a .917 SV% in the shootout loss.
The Bruins fell to 5-1-1 (11 points) on the season and temporarily moved into 1st place in the Atlantic Division before the Buffalo Sabres won their late game Thursday night and regained control of the Atlantic.
Meanwhile, the Lightning improved to 4-2-1 (9 points) and moved into 3rd place in the Atlantic, thanks to having more points in fewer games than the Toronto Maple Leafs (Tampa has nine points in seven games, while Toronto has nine points in eight games).
For the seventh time this season, Kevan Miller (knee) and John Moore (shoulder) were out of the action due to injury.
David Krejci (upper body) was also ruled out of Thursday night’s action after sustaining an injury or re-injuring something in Monday afternoon’s meeting with the Anaheim Ducks.
Miller and Moore both skated on their own in red no-contact sweaters before practice Thursday morning, while Krejci’s prognosis is to be determined.
Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, juggled his lines in Krejci’s absence, moving Charlie Coyle and Brett Ritchie up to the second line with Jake DeBrusk (celebrating his 23rd birthday on Thursday) at left wing, while re-inserting Par Lindholm in the lineup at center on the third line and bumping Karson Kuhlman to the third line right wing.
Connor Clifton was also back in the lineup for Boston after serving his time as a healthy scratch against the Ducks.
David Backes and Steven Kampfer were the only healthy scratches for Boston on Thursday.
Midway through the opening frame, Lightning forward, Mikhail Sergachev, was guilty of holding Bruins forward, Brett Ritchie, and was sent to the penalty box at 9:27 of the first period.
Seven seconds into the ensuing power play, Boston’s David Pastrnak (7) struck first on the scoreboard with a power play goal on a one-timer pass from Patrice Bergeron to give the B’s the lead, 1-0, at 9:34.
Bergeron (5) and Torey Krug (4) had the assists on Pastrnak’s goal.
With his 5th consecutive goal for Boston, Pastrnak tied Dunc Fisher for the 2nd most consecutive goals in Bruins franchise history. Glen Murray is the team record holder with six consecutive goals for Boston in the 2003-04 season, while Pastrnak and Fisher each have five in 2019-20 and 1951-52, repsectively.
Less than two minutes later, Sean Kuraly hooked Nikita Kucherov and Tampa went on the skater advantage for the first time of the night.
The Bruins killed off Kuraly’s minor without any major issues.
Moments later, Bergeron was penalized for slashing against Ondrej Palat and cut a rut to the sin bin at 16:09.
Once more, the Bolts weren’t able to convert on the resulting power play.
In the final seconds of the first period, Yanni Gourde flipped the puck through the neutral zone to Brayden Point (3) who entered the attacking zone on a quick breakaway and elevated the puck into the top of the twine to tie the game, 1-1, at 19:59.
Gourde (3) and Victor Hedman (6) notched the assists on Point’s goal as the teams went into the first intermission knotted at, 1-1.
Tampa led in shots on goal (16-11), hits (12-4) and faceoff win percentage (60-40), while Boston held the advantage in blocked shots (4-1) and giveaways (8-4).
Both teams had two takeaways aside after 20 minutes of action.
The Lightning were 0/2 on the skater advantage, while the B’s were 1/1 on the power play heading into the second period.
Bergeron took a beating early in the middle frame as No. 37 in black-and-gold was on the receiving end of consecutive penalties by the Lightning.
First, Carter Verhaeghe tripped Bergeron at 2:15 of the second period, then Gourde interfered with Bergeron at 6:23.
Boston was unsuccessful on their first power play of the second period, but worked their magic while Gourde was in the box.
Bergeron (2) redirected a slap pass from Pastrnak into the twine to give the Bruins their second power play goal of the game and the lead, 2-1.
Pastrnak (5) and Brad Marchand (6) tallied the assists on Bergeron’s goal at 7:26.
Shortly after regaining the lead, the Bruins turned the puck over at an inopportune time, leading to a quality scoring chance for the Bolts.
Tampa forward, Alex Killorn, fired a shot that Rask got a chunk of, but couldn’t contain the rebound as Mathieu Joseph (2) pounced on the loose puck for the tap-in goal, tying the game, 2-2.
Killorn (3) and Erik Cernak (1) were credited with the assists on Joseph’s goal at 10:32..
Late in the period, Cernak was charged with a minor for interference against Lindholm at 17:56 and the B’s went on the power play for the fourth time of the night.
Boston was not able to capitalize on the skater advantage, however.
Through 40 minutes of action at TD Garden, the Bruins and Lightning were tied, 2-2, on the scoreboard.
Tampa led in shots on goal (29-21– including a, 13-10, advantage in the second period alone), blocked shots (6-5) and hits (22-9), while Boston led in takeaways (4-3) and giveaways (11-8).
The two clubs were split in faceoff win%, 50-50.
The Bolts were powerless on the power play (0/2) after two periods, while the B’s were 2/4 on the skater advantage heading into the third period.
Midway through the final frame of regulation, Matt Grzelcyk hooked Pat Maroon while trailing the Lightning forward and was sent to the box at 8:25 of the third.
Tampa didn’t convert on their third power play opportunity of the night and the Bruins killed off Grzelcyk’s minor as a result.
After dominating in shots on net, Boston gave up a chance the other way that Kevin Shattenkirk (4) was sure to take advantage of– sending a snap shot over Rask’s glove side from the faceoff dot to give the Lightning their first lead of the night, 3-2, at 15:13 of the third period.
Stamkos (5) and Point (2) recorded the assists on Shattenkirk’s goal.
The Bolts followed up their lead with a quick penalty of their own– Anthony Cirelli was guilty of a minor infraction for tripping Pastrnak at 16:08.
On the ensuing skater advantage, Boston fired everything but the kitchen sink towards the goal, missing the net entirely a couple of times, but proving to be worthy in the long-run.
After Marchand fired a shot off the endboards that caromed back into the slot, Pastrnak (8) sent the puck off of Shattenkirk’s stick and into the net behind Vasilevskiy to tie the game, 3-3, with his 2nd goal of the night.
Marchand (7) and Krug (5) each had a hand in assisting Pastrnak’s power play goal at 16:55.
Boston’s three goals all came on the power play, while Tampa’s weak penalty kill was on full display Thursday night.
At the end of regulation, the score remained tied, 3-3, on the scoreboard, while Tampa held onto a slim advantage in shots on goal, 33-32, despite trailing, 11-4, in shots on goal in the third period alone.
The Lightning maintained an advantage in blocked shots (12-9), takeaways (7-6), giveaways (15-12), hits (29-21) and faceoff win% (53-47) heading into overtime.
The Bolts were 0/3 on the power play, while the B’s were 3/5 on the skater advantage.
Cassidy started Coyle, Pastrnak and Krug in overtime, while Tampa’s head coach, Jon Cooper, opted for Cirelli, Killon and Hedman to kick things off in the five-minute, 3-on-3, OT action.
Neither team scored and Marchand had Point in a headlock in the dying seconds to prevent a last second scoring chance for the Bolts.
He was assessed a roughing penalty at 5:00 of the overtime period, but could still take part in the shootout, because apparently there’s no rule that’d say otherwise.
After the overtime period, the Bruins held the slight advantage in shots on goal, 37-36, including a, 5-3, advantage in overtime alone.
Tampa finished the night with the lead in blocked shots (12-9), giveaways (15-12), hits (31-21) and faceoff win% (53-47), while both teams had seven takeaways aside.
The Lightning finished the night 0/3 on the power play and the B’s went 3/5.
Boston elected to shoot second in the shootout, thereby giving Tampa the first shot of the first round of the shootout.
Cooper sent Hedman to get things started, but the defender was denied by Rask with a blocker save.
Cassidy responded by sending Coyle for the first attempt on Vasilevskiy, but the Tampa netminder wasn’t fooled by Coyle’s deke and made a pad save.
Point made an appearance for the Lightning in the second round of the shootout, but clipped Rask’s blocker and sent the puck wide of the net.
Next up for Boston, Pastrnak flat out missed the goal frame, leaving the shootout tied, 0-0, through two rounds.
Last season’s Art Ross Trophy and Hart Memorial Trophy winner, Kucherov had Tampa’s first shot of the third round of the shootout, but was stopped by Rask with the pad save as Kucherov tried to go five-hole.
In response, Marchand tried to get Vasilevskiy to stretch just far enough that Marchand would’ve eluded the Lightning goaltender, but Vasilevskiy made the save with the right leg pad and kept the shootout even, 0-0, through three rounds.
Finally, Stamkos broke open the scoring in the shootout with a shot high over Rask’s blocker and into the back of the net to give Tampa the, 1-0, advantage– meaning Boston would have to score to extend the shootout.
Celebrating his birthday in style, DeBrusk was given Boston’s last chance in the shootout, but was stopped by Vasilevskiy’s blocker, leaving the Bruins scoreless in the shootout and with the, 4-3, loss in the final boxscore.
Boston wrapped up their three-game homestand 2-0-1 thanks to their shootout loss to Tampa on Thursday.
The Bruins travel to Toronto for a home and home series with the Maple Leafs on Oct. 19th at Scotiabank Arena and Oct. 22nd at TD Garden.
It will be Boston and Toronto’s first meeting since their 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round matchup.
Afterwards, the B’s then have a few days off until they’ll face the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues in a 2019 Stanley Cup Final rematch for the first time this season at home on Oct. 26th.
St. Louis kicks off the first games on back-to-back days for the Bruins this season, as Boston will travel to Madison Square Garden to face the New York Rangers on Oct. 27th before finishing the month on home ice against the San Jose Sharks on Oct. 29th.
A four-goal afternoon– the first of his career– for David Pastrnak was enough to lift the Boston Bruins over the Anaheim Ducks, 4-2, Monday afternoon at TD Garden.
Jaroslav Halak (2-1-0, 1.69 goals against average, .951 save percentage in three games played) made 30 saves on 32 shots against for a .938 SV% in the win for Boston.
Ducks goaltender, John Gibson (3-2-0, 1.82 GAA, .941 SV% in five games played) stopped 19 out of 23 shots faced (.826 SV%) in the loss.
Pastrnak became the 19th Bruin in franchise history to have a four-goal game. Prior to Monday, Patrice Bergeron had the most recent four-goal game in franchise history in a, 7-1, win at home over the Carolina Hurricanes on Jan. 6, 2018.
Bergeron and Pastrnak are the only members on the current roster for Boston to have scored four goals in a game.
No. 88 in black-and-gold became the first Bruin to score four in game in the month of October since Dave Andreychuk had a four-goal effort in a, 7-3, victory on home ice against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Oct. 28th, 1999.
He (Pastrnak) was also the first to score all four of his team’s goals in a game in the win.
Boston improved to 5-1-0 (10 points) on the season and temporarily moved up to 1st in the Atlantic Division while the Buffalo Sabres were in action against the Dallas Stars Monday afternoon.
Meanwhile, Anaheim fell to 4-2-0 (8 points) and dropped to 3rd in the Pacific Division by virtue of the Vegas Golden Knights holding the tiebreaker in the standings (goal differential), since the two teams have the same record and have not faced each other yet this season.
B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made one change to his lineup from Saturday night’s matchup with the New Jersey Devils, scratching Connor Clifton in favor of Steven Kampfer on defense.
Kevan Miller (knee) and John Moore (shoulder) missed their sixth game of the season due to lingering injuries from last spring, while Par Lindholm, David Backes and Clifton were healthy scratches for the Bruins.
Prior to the game, the Bruins held a moment of applause and celebration for former blue liner, Ted Green, who died on Oct. 8 at the age of 79.
Shortly after being on the receiving end of an open-ice hit from Kampfer, Ducks defender, Michael Del Zotto slashed Bruins forward, Brett Ritchie, and was charged with a minor infraction at 4:10 of the first period.
Eight seconds into the ensuing power play, Pastrnak (3) scored with a one-timer on a pass from Bergeron from the faceoff dot to Gibson’s right side.
Boston cycled the puck from the initial faceoff, which led to Pastrnak’s appearance in the open for the goal.
Bergeron (4) and Torey Krug (2) had the assists on the goal at 4:18 and the Bruins led, 1-0.
Late in the period, Bergeron slashed Ondrej Kase and was sent to the penalty box with a minor at 17:16. Anaheim did not convert on the resulting power play.
Heading into the first intermission, Boston led, 1-0, on the scoreboard and in shots on goal, 11-8. The B’s also held the advantage in takeaways (1-0), giveaways (4-3), hits (11-10) and faceoff win percentage (53-47), while both teams had four takeaways aside.
Anaheim was 0/1 on the power play after 20 minutes, while the Bruins were 1/1 on the skater advantage entering the second period.
David Krejci left the action during the first period with an undisclosed injury and did not return to the game.
Early in the middle frame, Pastrnak “tripped” Maxime Comtois and the Ducks went on the power play at 4:40 of the second period, but Anaheim wasn’t able to capitalize on the phantom call.
Moments later, Kampfer took a trip to the sin bin for a legitimate hooking penalty against Max Jones at 9:28, but again the Ducks were unsuccessful on the skater advantage.
Shortly after killing off Kampfer’s minor, Boston pounced at even strength on a rush.
Pastrnak (4) received a pass from Brad Marchand and released a one-timer past Gibson to give the B’s a two-goal lead, 2-0, at 11:38.
Marchand (4) had the only assist on Pastrnak’s second goal of the game.
About a minute later, Sam Steel was penalized for holding Joakim Nordstrom at 12:50, but the Bruins weren’t able to take advantage of their second power play of the day.
Late in the period, Rickard Rakell (2) snapped a shot wide of Charlie McAvoy and past Halak on the far side to cut Boston’s lead in half and get Anaheim on the scoreboard, 2-1, at 17:52.
Adam Henrique (1) and Cam Fowler (1) had the assists on Rakell’s goal.
A minute later, McAvoy sent the puck clear over the glass and received an automatic delay of game penalty at 18:53.
Boston would be on the penalty kill heading into the third period.
Through 40 minutes of play, the Bruins led, 2-1, on the scoreboard and were being outshot by the Ducks, 24-17– including a, 16-6, advantage in shots on goal for Anaheim in the second period alone.
The Ducks also led in blocked shots (8-4), takeaways (5-4) and hits (18-17) entering the second intermission, while Boston held the lead in giveaways (8-4) and faceoff win% (56-44).
Anaheim was 0/4 on the power play and the B’s were 1/2 on the skater advantage heading into the final frame of regulation.
Pastrnak (5) scored his hat trick goal in Monday afternoon’s action off a faceoff in the attacking zone after the Ducks iced the puck.
The puck bounced off an Anaheim skater right in front of Pastrnak for the unassisted effort at 2:20 of the third period and the Bruins led, 3-1.
Almost 100 seconds later, Comtois was guilty of holding Charlie Coyle and sent to the penalty box at 3:37.
The Bruins capitalized on their third power play of the day as Marchand sent the puck through the low slot for Pastrnak (6) to redirect while getting his stick in the crease upon the puck’s entrance into the blue paint for his fourth goal of the game.
Marchand (5) and Krug (3) tabbed the assists on the power play goal at 4:34, as Boston took control of the game, 4-1.
Late in the period, Halak misplayed the puck behind his own net, leaving the goaltender defenseless as Nick Ritchie fished the loose puck to his teammate.
Henrique (2) scored while Halak struggled to get back in front of the net and the Ducks cut the lead to two goals.
Brett Ritchie’s brother on the opposing team, Nick Ritchie (2) had the only assist on Henrique’s goal at 16:08 and the Bruins still led, 4-2.
With about three minutes left in the action, Anaheim’s head coach, Dallas Eakins, pulled Gibson for the extra attacker.
Almost 90 seconds later, Eakins used his timeout after a stoppage to instruct his players what to do in the event of anything in effort to try to comeback and tie the game, but it was to no avail.
Boston’s defense stood tall and things got a little out of hand when Ryan Getzlaf lost his composure and got into a tangle with Chris Wagner after a stoppage at 19:41.
Both players received roughing minor penalties and the teams finished the game 4-on-4.
At the final horn, Halak and the Bruins picked up the, 4-2, win on home ice over the Ducks, despite trailing in shots on goal, 32-23.
Anaheim left TD Garden leading in hits (26-24), while Boston finished the afternoon leading in blocked shots (12-10) and giveaways (13-7).
Both teams were split even (50-50) in faceoff win%.
The Ducks went 0/4 on the power play, while the Bruins were 2/3 on the skater advantage.
Boston wraps up their three-game homestand (2-0-0) against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday before the Bruins travel to Toronto for a home and home series on Oct. 19th at Scotiabank Arena and Oct. 22nd at TD Garden.
It will be Boston and Toronto’s first meeting since their 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round matchup.
Tuukka Rask picked up his first shutout of the season, while Brad Marchand had a milestone night at TD Garden in the Boston Bruins’, 3-0, victory over the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night.
Rask (3-0-0, 1.33 goals against average, .957 save percentage in three games played) turned aside 31 shots out of the 31 shots he faced for his 1st shutout of the season and 46th of his career.
New Jersey netminder, Cory Schneider (0-2-0, 3.31 GAA, .897 SV% in three games played) made 29 saves on 32 shots against (.906 SV%) in the loss.
The Bruins improved to 4-1-0 (8 points) and moved into sole possession of 2nd place in the Atlantic Division, while the Devils fell to 0-3-2 (2 points) on the season and 8th place in the Metropolitan Division.
Boston also improved to 14-2-1 in their last 17 home games against New Jersey.
Kevan Miller (knee) and John Moore (shoulder) were the only Bruins skaters out of the lineup due to injury.
Meanwhile, Boston head coach, Bruce Cassidy, reinserted Brett Ritchie on the third line with Danton Heinen and Charlie Coyle, while scratching David Backes in the process.
Backes joined Par Lindholm and Steven Kampfer as the B’s trio of healthy scratches in the press box.
Early in the first period, Marchand (4) gave the Bruins with the game’s first goal with a shot off from the point that deflected off of Devils defender, Damon Severson, and went past Schneider while Patrice Bergeron was screening the New Jersey goaltender.
David Pastrnak (4) had the only assist on Marchand’s goal and the B’s led, 1-0, at 3:33 of the first period.
Just past the midpoint of the opening frame, Joakim Nordstrom (1) tallied his first goal of the season in just his second game of the year since returning from injury.
Chris Wagner got a piece of the puck in the low slot, but it bounced off his stick towards Nordstrom, whereby the left winger pocketed the loose puck to give Boston a two-goal lead, 2-0, at 11:22.
Wagner (1) and Sean Kuraly (2) had the assists on Nordstrom’s goal.
Moments later, Kuraly went to the penalty box for hooking Devils forward, Miles Wood, at 15:24, but New Jersey wasn’t able to convert on the ensuing power play opportunity.
With less than 20 seconds left in the period, New Jersey defender, Mirco Mueller, was penalized for interference against Coyle and the Bruins went on their first power play of the night at 19:43.
Boston’s skater advantage, however, would extend into the second period as the B’s weren’t able to capitalize on the power play by the end of the first 20 minutes.
After one period of play, the Bruins led, 2-0, on the scoreboard and, 15-10, in shots on goal. Boston also held the advantage in blocked shots (5-2) and hits (11-2), while New Jersey led in takeaways (5-4).
Both teams had two giveaways each and were split in faceoff win percentage, 50-50.
The Devils and B’s were both 0/1 on the power play heading into the second period.
Connor Carrick kicked things off in the middle frame with a tripping minor after the New Jersey defender brought down Karson Kuhlman at 6:12 of the second period.
Boston did not score on the ensuing skater advantage and followed things up with a penalty of their own at 9:19, as Brandon Carlo was caught behind the play and hooked Jack Hughes.
The Devils were powerless on their second power play of the night.
Midway through the second period, Pastrnak served Boston’s bench minor for a faceoff violation delay of game penalty at 13:52.
New Jersey couldn’t muster anything on the resulting skater advantage and Pastrnak was freed from the box without any issue.
Late in the period, Kyle Palmieri tripped Charlie McAvoy and was sent to the sin bin with an infraction for tripping at 18:59.
Less than 20 seconds into their third power play of the night, Boston scored as Bergeron (1) scored his first game of the season, following up on a loose puck from point blank with a backhand tap-in after Jake DeBrusk got the initial chance that rebounded.
DeBrusk (1) and Marchand (3) were credited with the assists on Bergeron’s power play goal, giving Marchand 300 assists in his career as a result.
Through 40 minutes of action, the Bruins led, 3-0, while the Devils led in shots on goal, 25-24, including a, 15-9, advantage in shots on net in the second period alone.
Boston led in every other statistical category entering the second intermission, including blocked shots (8-6), takeaways (8-7), giveaways (9-4), hits (21-8) and faceoff win% (55-45).
New Jersey was 0/3 on the power play, while the B’s were 1/3 on the skater advantage heading into the third period.
Aside from Kevin Rooney going over the boards and into Boston’s bench after missing a hit on DeBrusk early in the third period, not much happened in the third period.
Bruins captain, Zdeno Chara, was penalized for holding against Nico Hischier at 11:15 of the third, but the Devils failed to capitalize on the power play yet again.
Boston finished the night leading in shots on goal (32-31, including an, 8-6, advantage in the third period alone), blocked shots (13-11), giveaways (10-7), hits (23-11) and faceoff win% (54-46).
New Jersey went 0/4 on the power play, while the B’s went 1/3 on special teams with the skater advantage.
Chara played in the 1,490th game of his NHL career, passing Wayne Gretzky for 23rd all time. Phil Housley is next on the list with 1,495 career NHL games played.
Rask became the first goaltender to record a shutout in Boston’s home opener since Gilles Gilbert on Oct. 11, 1979 and just the fourth netminder to do so in franchise history, while recording the most saves in a shutout performance by a Bruins goaltender in a home opener since the statistic began being tracked in the 1955-56 season.
The B’s host the Anaheim Ducks Monday afternoon in Boston’s first matinee meeting of the season, then the Tampa Bay Lightning pay their first visit to TD Garden on Thursday before the Bruins travel to Toronto for a home and home series on Oct. 19th in Toronto and Oct. 22nd in Boston.
St. Louis Blues
45-28-9, 99 points, 3rd in the Central Division
Defeated Boston in the Stanley Cup Final
Additions: F Dakota Joshua (acquired from TOR), F Nick Lappin, F Evan Polei, F Michael Vecchione, F Nathan Walker, D Andreas Borgman (acquired from TOR), D Jake Dotchin, D Justin Faulk (acquired from CAR), D Derrick Pouliot
Subtractions: F Conner Bleackley (signed with Idaho, ECHL), F Dominik Bokk (traded to CAR), F Pat Maroon (signed with TBL), F Nikita Soshnikov (KHL), D Chris Butler (retired), D Michael Del Zotto (signed with ANA), D Joel Edmundson (re-signed, then traded to CAR), D Jani Hakanpaa (signed with ANA), D Jakub Jerabek (KHL), D Jordan Schmaltz (traded to TOR), D Tyler Wotherspoon (signed with PHI), G Jared Coreau (signed with NYI)
Still Unsigned: F Chris Thorburn
Re-signed: F Ivan Barbashev, F Sammy Blais, F Robby Fabbri, F Zach Sanford, F Oskar Sundqvist, D Carl Gunnarsson, G Jordan Binnington, G Ville Husso
Offseason Analysis: Winning the Stanley Cup cures everything. Nobody’s asking when and if the St. Louis Blues will ever a) make another appearance in the Stanley Cup Final or b) winning the Cup.
The Blues crossed off the top item from their bucket list and hoisted the Stanley Cup over their heads in Boston after winning Game 7 against the Bruins in June.
General Manager, Doug Armstrong, has been building and retooling the organization since assuming his current role in 2010. A finalist for the NHL General Manager of the Year Award last season, Armstrong landed a key piece of St. Louis’ Cup-winning roster (and Conn Smythe Trophy winner as the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs MVP) in Ryan O’Reilly last offseason in a trade with the Buffalo Sabres.
St. Louis won the Cup, so now Armstrong’s task of winning one is taken care of. He– along with the rest of the Blues– will have a bit of a grace period until fans are fed up again with whatever behooves them next.
Of course, the goal of winning the Cup for any GM ultimately isn’t to just win it once, but rather to win it as many times as possible in your career.
Armstrong took care of a delicate balance in re-signed a plethora of restricted free agent members of the Blues.
Rather than making Jordan Binnington the surefire franchise goaltender, Armstrong was able to negotiate a solid two-year bridge deal worth $4.400 million per season.
The 26-year-old goaltender took over St. Louis’ starting role at the dawn of the new year in January and– even though he set a National Hockey League rookie record for most wins in the postseason with 16– has yet to solidify his legitimacy as a starting goaltender in the NHL.
Binnington and 29-year-old, Jake Allen, each have two years on their respective contracts. This season, one will rise above the other as the starter (likely Binnington), but for the next couple of seasons each are competing for a long-term role with the organization.
Glue guys, Ivan Barbashev, Sammy Blais, Robby Fabbri, Zach Sanford, Oskar Sundqvist and Carl Gunnarsson are all sticking around in St. Louis for the near future, with Sundqvist extended for the longest tenure on a new four-year deal worth $2.750 million per season.
The Blues can sit back for a season or two and see if Craig Berube and Co. can recreate the magic of their 52nd season in franchise history.
Whether or not this team has what it takes to formulate a dynasty remains to be seen, but Armstrong bolstered their chances after trading Joel Edmundson, Dominik Bokk and a 2021 7th round pick to the Carolina Hurricanes for veteran defender, Justin Faulk, and a 2020 5th round pick on Sept. 24th.
Carolina retained 14% of Faulk’s salary ($676,667), which means he will carry a $4.157 million cap hit for the Blues this season.
Upon his acquisition, Armstrong locked up the defender to a seven-year extension with St. Louis worth $45.500 million ($6.500 million per season). Faulk’s extension goes into effect next season and carries a no-trade clause for the first five years, then a modified no-trade clause for the remainder.
A full no-trade clause was added by the Blues to the final year of his current deal.
If nothing else, this trade covers Armstrong’s back in case he is unable to sign Blues captain, Alex Pietrangelo, to an extension.
The 29-year-old defender is a pending-unrestricted free agent at season’s end and likely to see a pay raise from his current $6.500 million cap hit (especially considering, 1) his role in St. Louis’ turnaround, 2) his Stanley Cup ring and 3) the fact that Faulk’s extension carries Pietrangelo’s current cap hit).
In short, Pietrangelo is better than Faulk and best while the two of them are on the same blue line.
Armstrong will also have to balance the books next season by deciding whether or not to re-sign Brayden Schenn, Fabbri, Blais, Dunn, Jay Bouwmeester and Mackenzie MacEachern.
For now, bars across St. Louis will keep playing “Gloria” even as the team on the ice must turn the page on last season and focus on what looms this season and beyond.
Offseason Grade: B-
Considering the number of RFAs Armstrong had to re-sign, the Blues GM managed to do a decent job tidying things up for the time being, but most of the extensions were short term, one or two year deals.
St. Louis has about $138,740 in cap space available, leaving them with little to no room for any major extensions for next season without having to unload some larger contracts from the books.
At the very least, the only major loss from last season’s Cup winning roster to this season was Pat Maroon, who signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning due to St. Louis’ cap constraints.
46-29-7, 99 points, 4th in the Metropolitan Division
Eliminated in the Eastern Conference Final by Boston
Additions: F Dominik Bokk (acquired from STL), F Ryan Dzingel, F Brian Gibbons, F Erik Haula (acquired from VGK), F Alex Lintuniemi, D Fredrik Claesson, D Joel Edmundson (acquired from STL), D Gustav Forsling (acquired from CHI), D Jake Gardiner, D Chase Priskie, D Kyle Wood (acquired from SJS), G Anton Forsberg (acquired from CHI), G James Reimer (acquired from FLA)
Subtractions: F Patrick Brown (signed with VGK), F Micheal Ferland (signed with VAN), F Patrick Marleau (bought out), F Greg McKegg (signed with NYR), F Andrew Poturalski (signed with ANA), F Nicolas Roy (traded to VGK), F Aleksi Saarela (traded to CHI), D Trevor Carrick (traded to SJS), D Calvin de Haan (traded to CHI), D Justin Faulk (traded to STL), D Adam Fox (traded to NYR), D Dan Renouf (signed with COL), D Josh Wesley (signed with San Antonio, AHL), G Scott Darling (traded to FLA), G Curtis McElhinney (signed with TBL)
Still Unsigned: F Saku Maenalanen (KHL, CAR reserve list), F Justin Williams
Re-signed: F Sebastian Aho, F Clark Bishop, F Brock McGinn, D Hadyn Fleury, D Roland McKeown, G Petr Mrazek
Offseason Analysis: While some teams have signed the biggest names in free agency and improved in one particular aspect, one team has made all the right moves in multiple areas.
Already stocked with plenty of strength, depth and youth, the Carolina Hurricanes added in every category.
Canes GM, Don Waddell, was busy this summer making nine trades since the end of the regular season– seven of which involved players– and signing key pieces of the 2019-20 roster to new deals.
First and foremost, Carolina’s priority this offseason resided in Sebastian Aho’s next contract.
Aho originally signed an offer sheet with the Montreal Canadiens at the dawn of free agency on July 1st, but the Hurricanes matched the deal about a week later and retained his services.
Montreal thought a five-year, $8.454 million per season, offer with a little more than $21 million in signing bonuses owed in the first year of the contract would unnerve Carolina.
It’s just a drop in the bucket for Canes owner, Tom Dundon, who is investing more than just a better on-ice product around the organization.
Though the Hurricanes couldn’t convince Adam Fox to sign with the team after acquiring the defender from the Calgary Flames as part of the Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm for Dougie Hamilton and Micheal Ferland trade, Carolina sent Fox to the New York Rangers for a 2019 2nd round pick and a conditional 2020 3rd round pick.
If Fox plays at least 30 games this season for the Rangers, then the 2020 3rd round pick is upgraded to a 2020 2nd round pick.
At the Draft in June, Waddell worked a deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs acquiring Patrick Marleau, a conditional 2020 1st round pick and a 2020 7th round pick in exchange for a 2020 6th round pick.
If the 2020 1st round pick from Toronto is a top-10 pick, then Carolina will receive a 2021 1st round pick instead.
Marleau was bought out by the Hurricanes and will cost Carolina $6.250 million against the cap this season.
The Canes have $8.583 million tied up in buyout penalties as Alexander Semin’s $2.333 million penalty expires at the conclusion of the 2020-21 season, which means Waddell has plenty of salary to work with in the coming years.
Two days after the Draft, Carolina sent Calvin de Haan and Aleksi Saarela to the Chicago Blackhawks for Gustav Forsling and Anton Forsberg on June 24th.
Forsling, 23, is a suitable option for a top-six defender role with room for growth– given he’s on the upswing in his prime (defenders generally aren’t considered “peak” until their early 30s).
Forsberg, 26, has some experience as an NHL backup, but will supplement Alex Nedeljokvic’s workload with the Charlotte Checkers (AHL) for the foreseeable future.
After winning their first Calder Cup championship in franchise history, a significant portion of the Checkers’ core was utilized as trade bait or pushed out of the Hurricanes organization by incoming youth are ready for their AHL debuts.
There are seven newcomers to the Checkers roster from within the Hurricanes system from last season to this season, including three players under the age of 22.
Out of the 33 players listed on their 2019 Calder Cup Playoff roster, 15 of them have moved on from Charlotte to another team in professional hockey (NHL, AHL, ECHL, Europe, Russia, etc.) and even Mike Vellucci left the Checkers to join the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins as their new head coach.
In his place, former assistant coach turned current Checkers head coach, Ryan Warsofsky, will take the task of running things from behind the bench as the AHL’s youngest head coach at 31-years-old.
Nicolas Roy and a conditional 2021 5th round pick were flipped to the Vegas Golden Knights for Erik Haula on June 27th.
Haula, 28, only managed to play 15 games last season for the Golden Knights before suffering a knee injury, but the veteran forward had a career-high 55 points (29 goals, 26 assists) in 76 games with Vegas in 2017-18.
He should fit in well within a top-nine forward role, either as a second line or third line center/left wing and is a cheaper replacement for Ferland’s breakout year that led to a new four-year deal worth $3.500 million per season with the Vancouver Canucks in free agency.
If Haula is still on Carolina’s roster after this season or if the Canes trade Haula for a player, multiple draft picks or a draft pick in rounds 1-5, then Vegas receives the conditional 2021 5th round pick. If no condition is met, then the Hurricanes will not have to forfeit their draft pick to the Golden Knights.
Three days after adding Haula, Waddell found a new backup goaltender in a trade with the Florida Panthers.
Carolina traded Scott Darling and a 2020 6th round pick (originally belonging to the Buffalo Sabres) to Florida in exchange for James Reimer on June 30th.
Reimer, 31, had a disappointing 3.09 goals against average and a dismal .900 save percentage in 36 games with the Panthers and is looking to rebound with the Hurricanes in a backup role after seeing his GAA climb for the last three seasons with Florida while trying to take on more games in light of Roberto Luongo’s waning years.
Luongo is now retired (as of this offseason) and didn’t win a Stanley Cup championship in his 19 NHL seasons, unlike Justin Williams, who won the Cup three times in 20 seasons.
Williams, 37, hasn’t officially retired, but is “stepping away” from the game for the time being.
The 2014 Conn Smythe Trophy winner won two Cups with the Los Angeles Kings in 2012 and 2014 and played a role in Carolina’s 2006 Stanley Cup championship.
His presence in the Hurricanes dressing room over the last two seasons was pivotal in the transition among ownership, the front office and with the players on the ice.
Finally, after a minor swap with the San Jose Sharks, which saw Trevor Carrick depart the organization for Kyle Wood on August 6th, Waddell finished (for now) his busy offseason trades with one more major move.
Longtime anchor on Carolina’s power play and top-four defender, Justin Faulk, was packaged with a 2020 5th round pick and traded to the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues in exchange for Joel Edmundson, Dominik Bokk and a 2021 7th round pick on Sept. 24th.
The Canes retained 14% of Faulk’s salary ($676,667) in the transaction, while adding a solid top-six defender (Edmundson) and a top German prospect (Bokk) to the fold.
And that’s not even covering Waddell’s brilliance in free agency.
Carolina signed Ryan Dzingel to a two-year contract worth $3.375 million per season on July 12th– adding to the Hurricanes’ plethora of forwards with 20 or more goals last season.
Dzingel recorded 22-22–44 totals in 57 games with the Ottawa Senators last season before being traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets at the trade deadline.
Though he only managed 4-8–12 totals in 21 games with Columbus, Dzingel fell victim to Blue Jackets head coach, John Tortorella’s, coaching style– whereby nothing is changed until it has to change.
Columbus didn’t find the right fit for the 27-year-old forward in their lineup and Dzingel didn’t take to Tortorella’s scheme and thus, signed with the Hurricanes, where Rod Brind’Amour is saving the team once more.
Seriously, Brind’Amour is the perfect person behind the bench for the organization, if last season didn’t already prove that enough.
Not only did the Hurricanes make the Eastern Conference Final, but Brind’Amour brought back the glow of Carolina’s glory days.
He was the face of the franchise at the dawn of the millennium and he is the face of efficient coaching– with a high compete level– in the contemporary NHL.
And one more thing…
If you’re worried about what Faulk’s departure means for Carolina’s power play, don’t be.
That’s why Jake Gardiner signed a four-year contract worth $4.050 million per season on Sept. 6th.
The durable 29-year-old defender is in his prime, effective on special teams and looking to turn over a new leaf after breaking into the league with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2011-12 season.
Offseason Grade: A
In short, this team is legit. Waddell added to the roster without subtracting anything major that he hadn’t already planned to replace and Martin Necas could land a job on the team this season.
Of the 22 skaters on the team currently, the average age is 25.3, which makes last season’s run to the Eastern Conference Final even more impressive– even with the ever increasing presence of younger and younger players league-wide.
Carolina is the last team to receive an “A” grade for their offseason work and is looking to make a jump in the Metropolitan Division standings in the regular season from wild card team to division title contender.
Brayden Point re-signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning, a bunch of other RFAs signed extensions, the Boston Pride were sold, Dan Girardi retired and DTFR’s season previews continued with the Atlantic Division.
44-26-12, 100 points, 3rd in the Metropolitan Division
Eliminated in the First Round by the N.Y. Islanders
Additions: F Andrew Agozzino, F Alex Galchenyuk (acquired from ARI), F Dominik Kahun (acquired from CHI), F Brandon Tanev, D Pierre-Olivier Joseph (acquired from ARI), D John Marino (acquired from EDM), D David Warsofsky
Subtractions: F Matt Cullen (retired), F Phil Kessel (traded to ARI), F Ben Sexton (signed with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, AHL), F Garrett Wilson (signed with TOR), D Dane Birks (traded to ARI), D Macoy Erkamps (signed with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, AHL), D Olli Maatta (traded to CHI), D Ethan Prow (signed with FLA), D Blake Siebenaler (signed with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, AHL), D Chris Summers (DEL), D Jeff Taylor (signed with Hartford, AHL), D Chris Wideman (signed with ANA)
Still Unsigned: F Jimmy Hayes, G John Muse
Re-signed: F Zach Aston-Reese, F Joseph Blandisi, F Teddy Blueger, F Adam Johnson, D Marcus Pettersson
Offseason Analysis: Pittsburgh, your job is simple, keep everyone happy and don’t press the “panic” button– oh.
Penguins General Manager, Jim Rutherford, made a splash last offseason in free agency by adding Jack Johnson to the blue line. It wasn’t the right kind of splash, but rather more of an anchor falling into the depths of a body of water.
Suddenly, Pittsburgh’s defense went from fluid and ever-dynamic with Kris Letang at the helm to a liability with Johnson at the tail-end of his prime locked up to a long-term deal.
This offseason, Rutherford had one mission– don’t sign another bad contract– and you know what he did?
Rutherford rewarded Brandon Tanev’s talents in Winnipeg with a six-year contract worth $3.500 million per season and a modified no-trade clause.
This isn’t to say Tanev won’t make a fine specimen for a season or two with the Pens, but rather that it’s careless spending and term thrown around like this that gets teams in a jam.
Speaking of jams, the Penguins are currently in one with no cap space available and a strained relationship with at least one of their current players.
Evgeni Malkin apparently isn’t a fan of hot dogs and thought Phil Kessel was dragging the team down.
Therefore, the Russian forward presented Rutherford with an ultimatum– it was either Kessel or him.
As such, Rutherford relied on the cliché “Kessel is un-coachable” mantra and dealt the forward along with a prospect and a 2021 4th round pick to the Arizona Coyotes on June 29th for Alex Galchenyuk and Pierre-Olivier Joseph.
Galchenyuk was drafted by Montreal 3rd overall in 2012 and is a little familiar with the city, considering the 2012 NHL Entry Draft was held in Pittsburgh.
He also had half as many points (41) as Kessel (82) last season.
Now Kessel’s reunited with former Penguins assistant coach and current Coyotes head coach, Rick Tocchet. Meanwhile, Rutherford’s secretly hoping that trading away Kessel to please Malkin was enough.
If you’re worried about how the Penguins are going to makeup for Kessel’s offense, just remember that Pittsburgh also added Dominik Kahun (13-24–37 totals in 82 games last season) in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks that sent Olli Maatta to the Windy City.
Together, Kahun and Galchenyuk’s scoring totals mean the Penguins have a net loss of four-points from losing Kessel alone.
What’s that? We have to include Maatta’s totals too? In that case, Pittsburgh lost, let’s see here… 18 points by trading Maatta and Kessel for Kahun and Galchenyuk in the grand scheme, but hey the free agent addition of Tanev puts them at plus-15.
If this sounds like gambling to you, it’s because it is, probably.
Which is also another reason why the Pens supposedly shipped Kessel– known for his love of poker– to Arizona where Tocchet *puts sunglasses on* gambles.
None of this matters if the Penguins are playing craps with the standings by April and Mike Sullivan’s going to have to play the hand he was dealt.
Offseason Grade: F
Rutherford has fallen into the trap of rearranging deck chairs on a sinking ship as Malkin’s relationship with the team frays, bad long-term contracts are signed and other players are overpaid.
Penguins fans have had about a dozen solid years of status as a Cup contending organization, it’s only inevitable that the growth would stall and things would start to fall apart with or without warning (in fairness, Pittsburgh should have really seen it coming though).
44-30-8, 96 points, 4th in the Atlantic Division
Missed the postseason for the second straight year
Additions: F Riley Barber, F Nick Cousins, F Phil Varone, D Ben Chiarot, G Keith Kinkaid
Subtractions: F Daniel Audette (signed with Springfield, AHL), F Nicolas Deslauriers (traded to ANA), F Andrew Shaw (traded to CHI), F Hunter Shinkaruk (signed with Charlotte, AHL), D Jordie Benn (signed with VAN), D Brett Lernout (signed with VGK), G Antti Niemi (KHL)
Still Unsigned: None
Re-signed: F Joel Armia, F Charles Hudon, F Artturi Lehkonen, F Michael McCarron
Offseason Analysis: The Montreal Canadiens didn’t even get a meeting with John Tavares last offseason and they tried to ask out a couple of potential suitors to the prom this offseason, but were ultimately rejected.
Before Habs fans try to claim that technically Sebastian Aho accepted their offer, but was then taken back by his… still current romantic partner (Carolina), let’s remember that this is only a terrible attempt at a metaphor or whatever.
The bottom line is Canadiens General Manager, Marc Bergevin, wanted to get Matt Duchene in free agency this offseason, but lost out to the Nashville Predators– which was inevitable given Duchene was building a house in Nashville anyway.
Then Bergevin turned to his next option– becoming the “villain” among his peers by submitting an offer sheet to another team’s restricted free agent.
That RFA happened to be Aho, the Carolina Hurricanes forward who remains a Carolina Hurricanes forward after signing a five-year, $8.454 million per season offer sheet from the Habs that was officially matched by the Canes about a week later.
If Bergevin was really comfortable with paying a steep compensation price, he likely offered more in cap hit, length of the deal and, well, just about everything else.
Instead, Carolina wasn’t fazed by the $8.454 million annual cap hit, despite a little more than $21 million front loaded in the deal in signing bonuses and Hurricanes owner, Tom Dundon, simply wrote a cheque for Aho to cash in and avoid a long offseason of “uncertainty” as many other RFAs faced around the league.
While Bergevin may have done the Hurricanes a favor, Tampa Bay Lightning center, Brayden Point is still unsigned, so…
Actually, on second thought, Montreal only has about $4.045 million in cap space now since missing out on Aho and signing defender, Ben Chiarot, to a consolation prize, three-year, $3.500 million per season contract.
It’s not that Chiarot isn’t a durable defender, but rather, that the Canadiens really could use a young, promising forward to shore up a legitimate top-six– especially with pending-RFA Max Domi in a contract year.
Montreal wants to get back into the postseason, but they don’t just want to make it– they want to make a splash and go on a deep run. Especially since they’re the most recent Canadian team to win the Cup, having done so in 1993, which seems like ages ago, right?
Seven teams have joined the league since a Canadian market last hoisted the Cup high above their heads in a celebratory skate.
Head coach, Claude Julien, transitioned his style from a more veteran dependent coaching style to a more contemporary “play the kids” approach last season and it got Montreal to finish two points outside of the playoffs thanks to the Columbus Blue Jackets’ defeat of the New York Rangers in the last weekend of the regular season.
The good news for Julien? His roster is about the same, so there’s a lot of familiarity in the room in their quest for progress.
Keith Kinkaid signed a one-year, $1.750 million deal to backup Carey Price this season and can be useful in offsetting Price’s workload, though Kinkaid’s looking to bounce back from a dismal year with the New Jersey Devils last season.
Kinkaid amassed a 3.36 goals against average and an .891 save percentage in 41 games played while New Jersey transitioned from Cory Schneider to Mackenzie Blackwood (when healthy) in the crease as their starter.
One thing’s for sure for the Habs this season– if they don’t make it back to the playoffs in 2020, there’s going to be some change coming.
There just has to be.
Offseason Grade: C
Nothing spectacular walked into Bell Centre in the offseason and nothing spectacular walked out. That’s not terrible, but might not be up to the expectations of a fanbase and front office that expects to win every season.
That said, Montreal is due for a resurgence in the standings sooner, rather than later. It’s just going to take a little more work than… whatever was done this offseason.