Categories
NHL Nick's Net

Halak, Bruins shutout Rangers, 1-0

Nick Ritchie scored the only goal, while Jaroslav Halak stopped 21 shots in a, 1-0, shutout for the Boston Bruins over the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Friday night.

Halak (4-0-1, 1.38 goals against, .938 save percentage in five games played) earned his 51st career shutout in the win, as well as Boston’s first shutout of the season in his first start since Feb. 1st after B’s starting goaltender, Tuukka Rask, played in the last three games.

Rask got the bulk of the workload due to additional days off thanks to a pair of games with the Buffalo Sabres having been postponed due to the league’s COVID protocol.

Rangers goaltender, Igor Shesterkin (3-4-1, 2.16 GAA, .922 SV% in nine games played) made 29 saves on 30 shots faced for a .967 SV% in the loss.

The Bruins improved to 10-1-2 (22 points) and remained 1st in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while the Rangers fell to 4-6-3 (11 points) overall and stuck in 6th place in the division.

The Bruins were without the services of Ondrej Kase (upper body) and Matt Grzelcyk (lower body) on Friday as both players were out of the lineup due to injury.

Kase’s missed 11 games this season due to an upper body injury sustained on Jan. 16th at New Jersey, while Grzelcyk returned to the lineup on Wednesday night, but re-aggravated his nagging lower body injury and was held out of Friday night’s matchup– missing his seventh game of the season in the process.

As a result, Boston head coach, Bruce Cassidy, replaced Grzelcyk with Connor Clifton on the second defensive pairing and made no other changes to his lineup from Wednesday night’s, 3-2, overtime win in New York.

Greg McKegg, Par Lindholm, John Moore, Steven Kampfer, Callum Booth, Anton Blidh and Karson Kuhlman made up Boston’s all healthy scratches and/or taxi squad members Friday night.

Brad Marchand and Mika Zibanejad had a standoff after the pregame warmup as neither player would leave the ice (both players like to be the last one off the rink for their respective teams).

Marchand lost an ensuing rock-paper-scissors battle, which left Zibanejad as the last player off about five minutes after the ice resurfacing machines had already passed them by.

Less than a minute into the opening frame, Clifton inadvertently sent the puck over the glass and drew an automatic delay of game infraction 56 seconds into the first period.

New York did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Moments later, Kaapo Kakko tripped Craig Smith and presented the Bruins with their first power play of the night at 6:02 of the first period, but Boston’s power play was also equally as powerless.

Late in first period, Brandon Carlo was penalized for interference, but the Rangers couldn’t muster anything on the power play at 17:01.

Entering the first intermission at Madison Square Garden on Friday night, the Bruins and Rangers were tied, 0-0, on the scoreboard, despite New York holding a, 10-6, advantage in shots on goal.

The Blue Shirts also held the advantage in takeaways (4-3) and hits (14-7), while the B’s led in blocked shots (5-2) and faceoff win percentage (56-44).

Both teams had three giveaways each, while the Rangers were 0/2 and the Bruins were 0/1 on the power play after one period of action.

Early in the middle frame, Charlie Coyle slashed Julien Gauthier and was sent to the sin bin as a result.

New York couldn’t convert on the resulting power play at 2:12 of the second period, however, and was quickly shorthanded themselves after their skater advantage ended when Brendan Lemieux was dealt a minor for boarding against Sean Kuraly at 4:23.

Boston couldn’t find the back of the net on the resulting power play.

Moments later, Charlie McAvoy and Jacob Trouba exchanged pleasantries and received roughing minors at 6:33 after a few quick punches were thrown.

Trouba picked up an extra roughing infraction, yielding another power play to Boston that went unfulfilled.

In the vulnerable minute after the skater advantage, however, Ritchie (5) pocketed the puck off of Shesterkin’s pad and in between the post for the game’s only goal at 9:27 of the second period.

David Krejci (10) and Jeremy Lauzon (3) tallied the assists on Ritchie’s goal and the Bruins led, 1-0.

On the ensuing faceoff, Trent Frederic and Lemieux dropped the gloves before attempting to bash each others’ faces in with their fists.

The two players received fighting majors at 9:28 and play continued at even strength, 5-on-5.

It was the fifth fight of the second for Boston and first since Chris Wagner fought Anthony Bitetto on Wednesday night in New York.

About a minute later, after a post-whistle scrum, Marchand cross checked Brett Howden, who countered with a slash on Marchand, while Kuraly was being assessed a boarding penalty on the original call.

With Marchand and Kuraly heading to the box while only one Ranger (Howden) cut a rut to the sin bin, New York went on the power play at 10:41 of the second period.

The Blue Shirts were not successful on the ensuing advantage.

Late in the period, Lauzon and Pavel Buchnevich gave it a go behind the play after Lauzon finished his hit on the Rangers forward behind Halak in New York’s attacking zone.

Buchnevich received five-minutes for fighting, while Lauzon picked up a fighting major as well as a ten-minute misconduct at 15:14.

It was the sixth fight of the season for Boston and the first since Frederic and Lemieux dropped the gloves earlier in the second period.

Through 40 minutes of action on Friday night, the Bruins led, 1-0, on the scoreboard and, 24-16, in shots on goal, including an, 18-6, advantage in shots on goal in the second period alone.

Boston also held the advantage in faceoff win% (56-44), while New York led in takeaways (11-5), giveaways (8-4) and hits (23-15).

Both teams had eight blocked shots aside after two periods.

The Rangers were 0/4 and the B’s were 0/3 on the power play heading into the second intermission.

Trouba was guilty of holding Anders Bjork at 1:38 of the third period and presented Boston with an early power play to kick off the action in the final frame of regulation, but the Bruins– once again– could not score on the skater advantage.

McAvoy tripped Kakko and presented the Rangers with a power play at 4:31 of the third period, but New York couldn’t fire anything past Halak on the resulting 5-on-4 advantage.

With 6:38 remaining in the game, Ryan Lindgren smacked his face along the glass on a followthrough from Lauzon landing an otherwise clean bodycheck.

Lindgren had a cut above the eye and was able to skate off on his own power, get a towel on the bench and some minor repairs before returning to the action in the closing minutes unscathed.

Rangers head coach, David Quinn, pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker with 1:10 left in the game, but even despite calling a timeout and having a 6-on-4 advantage after McAvoy cleared the rubber biscuit over the glass for an automatic delay of game penalty at 18:58, New York couldn’t execute a game-tying plan.

At the final horn, Boston had won, 1-0, and earned a shutout on the road at Madison Square Garden for the first time since March 9, 2008, when Alex Auld earned a shutout in a, 1-0, shootout loss for the Bruins.

The B’s finished Friday night’s effort leading in shots on goal, 30-21, including a, 6-5, advantage in the third period alone.

Boston also maintained a lead in blocked shots (18-12) and faceoff win% (54-46), while New York capped off the night leading in giveaways (9-5) and hits (31-23).

The Rangers went 0/6 on the power play, while the Bruins were 0/4 Friday night.

The Bruins extended their winning streak to five games– earning each of them on the road in the process.

Boston improved to 3-1-0 when tied after the first period, 5-0-0 when leading after two periods and 6-0-0 when scoring the game’s first goal this season with the win.

The Bruins face the New York Islanders on the road Saturday before returning home (possibly) to face the New Jersey Devils on Feb. 18th (if it doesn’t get postponed).

New Jersey still has a lot of players in COVID protocol, so there’s no guarantee that Boston will play another home game before taking on the Philadelphia Flyers outdoors on Feb. 21st at Lake Tahoe.

And if the Flyers have too many players in COVID protocol, the Rangers are reportedly ready to make the trip to face Boston outdoors.

Categories
NHL Nick's Net

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wagner’s shorthanded goal was unassisted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories
NHL Nick's Net Previews

Winnipeg Jets 2019-20 Season Preview

Winnipeg Jets

47-30-5, 99 points, 2nd in the Central Division

Eliminated in the First Round by St. Louis

Additions: F Mark Letestu, D Anthony Bitetto, D Neal Pionk (acquired from NYR)

Subtractions: F Alex Broadhurst (signed with San Diego, AHL), F Marko Dano (signed with CBJ), F Kevin Hayes (traded to PHI), F Matt Hendricks (retired), F Nicolas Kerdiles (signed with Manitoba, AHL), F Par Lindholm (signed with BOS), F Brandon Tanev (signed with PIT), D Ben Chiarot (signed with MTL), D Bogdan Kiselevich (KHL), D Joe Morrow (signed to a PTO with NYR), D Tyler Myers (signed with VAN), D Jimmy Oligny (signed with Manitoba, AHL), D Jacob Trouba (traded to NYR), G Ken Appleby (signed with Milwaukee, AHL)

Still Unsigned: F Kyle Connor, F Patrik Laine

Re-signed: F Andrew Copp, D Nathan Beaulieu, D Nelson Nogier, D Cameron Schilling, G Eric Comrie

Offseason Analysis: The Winnipeg Jets have $15,450,836 million in cap space currently and two prominent restricted free agents still unsigned.

Kyle Connor and Patrik Laine present a challenge for the Jets. Even worse, General Manager, Kevin Cheveldayoff, and head coach, Paul Maurice, aren’t exactly seeing eye-to-eye with their biggest star in Laine.

Regardless of whatever’s going on, the bottom line is we’ve seen this before and it led to one of Cheveldayoff’s trades this offseason.

No, not the Kevin Hayes trade with the Philadelphia Flyers that earned the Jets a 5th round pick in 2019, but rather the Jacob Trouba deal with the New York Rangers.

After back-to-back offseasons of uncertainty surrounding their RFA defender, Winnipeg dealt Trouba to the Rangers for Neal Pionk and a 2019 1st round pick– their own, that they originally sent to New York for Hayes at the trade deadline.

Trouba wanted a long-term deal with a significant pay raise in addition to a little job security.

The Rangers happily handed the 25-year-old a seven-year contract worth $8.000 million per season with a no-movement clause that goes into effect next season and becomes a modified no-trade clause in the final two years of the contract.

But it took a little drama in Winnipeg– without all the hype that surrounded William Nylander and Mitch Marner in Toronto over the last couple of summers– to get to the end result.

Laine has never scored fewer than 30 goals in a season and is sure to rebound from his 30-20–50 totals last season after reaching a career-high 44-26–70 totals in his sophomore season (2017-18).

He’s a goal-scorer, no doubt, and he might just be one of those players that exceeds expectations one year, then meets expectations the following year.

But since he’s of a higher caliber than others in the league, a “down” year might look like a tremendous drop-off.

It’s like saying Patrick Kane is a shell of his former self after posting a 76-point season in the midst of the last four seasons in which Kane has had 106 points in 2015-16, 89 points in 2016-17, 76 points in 2017-18 and 110 points last season.

Sure, Laine hasn’t reached the 60 or 70-point plateau as many times as Kane has in his career yet, but then again, Laine has only been around for three seasons to Kane’s 12 seasons entering 2019-20.

There’s a lot of potential left in the Finnish forward– just like there is or there was still a lot of potential in the Jets organization until the team that was three wins away from a Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2018 had the wheels fall off.

Dustin Byfuglien– a huge part of their defense– was granted a personal leave of absence and is contemplating stepping away from the game with two-years left on his contract (worth $7.600 million per season).

If there’s no lingering injury that would enable Winnipeg to place Byfuglien on the long-term injured reserve, well, that leaves Cheveldayoff with an even tougher proposition.

If Byfuglien’s done there’s a chance his contract could be traded, freeing up enough cap space to fit both Laine and Connor comfortability under the ceiling.

Connor’s had back-to-back seasons of more than 30 goals. He’s been a pleasant surprise for the Jets in his consistent play, but it’d be premature to throw him a larger contract like what should be expected with Laine.

Though both were first round picks, only one of them (Laine) came immediately after Auston Matthews in their respective draft.

Contract negotiations, especially for quality RFAs, are infused with untapped potential and future performance expectations– both in signing bonuses and performance bonuses, as well as the cap hit itself.

Laine has every right to feel that he should be paid what he thinks he is worth based on his career projection. Connor might have to settle for a bridge deal to further supplement his own belief in himself if he is to aim for the kind of money Laine might be looking at.

The hardest part of this saga for Jets fans?

Nobody really knows where anyone stands. Laine could be asking for $8.000 million or he could be asking for $11.000 million.

If it’s only $8.000 million, why wouldn’t a deal be done already?

If it’s closer to $11.000 million, why haven’t we heard near constant updates for one of the game’s biggest young stars, a la Marner?

The fact of the matter is that it feels like something is brewing that could send yet another Finnish superstar out of Winnipeg reminiscent of when Teemu Selanne was traded to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 1996.

Otherwise, the Jets have already had a lot of departures from their depth that might just start to interfere with their forward progress in the standings as of the last few seasons.

Offseason Grade: F

If two of your RFAs still don’t have a contract by this point of the offseason, it can only be the result of improper management and poor planning– especially as the rest of the league’s RFAs are putting pens to paper.

Besides that, Winnipeg did some major subtraction without addition and is on the brink of returning to pedestrian performance in the regular season and playoffs (if they even make the postseason). If Laine and/or Connor isn’t on the roster by Dec. 1st, then the Jets are a lost cause for 2019-20.

Categories
NHL Nick's Net Previews

Minnesota Wild 2019-20 Season Preview

Minnesota Wild

37-36-9, 83 points, 7th in the Central Division

Missed the postseason for the first time in seven years

Additions: F Gabriel Dumont, F Ryan Hartman, F Luke Johnson, F Drew Stafford (signed to a PTO), F Mats Zuccarello, D Fedor Gordeev (acquired from TOR)

Subtractions: F Pontus Aberg (signed with TOR), F Eric Fehr (NLA), F Landon Ferraro (signed to a PTO with VAN), F Cal O’Reilly (signed with Lehigh Valley, AHL), F Matt Read (signed to a PTO with TOR), F Dante Salituro (signed with Indy, ECHL), D Anthony Bitetto (signed with WPG), D Gustav Bouramman (traded to FLA), D Michael Kapla (signed with Toronto, AHL), D Nate Prosser (signed with PHI), G Johan Gustafsson (DEL), G Andrew Hammond (signed with BUF)

Still Unsigned: F Chase Lang

Re-signed: F Ryan Donato, F Joel Eriksson Ek, F Kevin Fiala, D Brad Hunt, D Carson Soucy, D Hunter Warner

Offseason Analysis: It’s a wild time for the Minnesota Wild on what will likely be a wild ride to the bottom of the standings before things get better.

At the very least, Minnesota tried to jumpstart things and stave off a rebuild by firing Paul Fenton one season after naming Fenton as General Manager and replacing the now former GM of the franchise with Bill Guerin.

Guerin– who spent parts of 18 seasons as winger with the New Jersey Devils, Edmonton Oilers, Boston Bruins, Dallas Stars, St. Louis Blues, San Jose Sharks, New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins– was most recently the assistant general manager for the Penguins and is just the fourth general manager in franchise history for the Wild.

Bruce Boudreau returns as head coach, despite finishing in last place in the Central Division en route to Minnesota missing the playoff last season for the first time since 2012.

Before Fenton was fired, he signed Mats Zuccarello on July 1st to a five-year, $30 million contract worth $6.000 million per season.

Zuccarello has never scored more than 26 goals in a season– a feat he accomplished in 81 games with the New York Rangers in 2015-16– and is 32-years-old.

He usually amasses at least 50 points a season, however, so it’s not quite an overpay, but rather a bit of a concern due to the long-term nature of the contract, plus the fact that he has a no-movement clause through the first three years and a modified no-trade/no-movement clause in the final two years.

Basically, it’s a great deal for Zuccarello because it protects him from the Seattle Expansion Draft in 2021, which is exactly why it could come back to bite the Wild.

Minnesota’s defense is aging and the entire roster only has three pending-unrestricted free agents at the end of the upcoming season, which means Guerin’s going to have to get creative at restructuring some of the mess left behind without just letting players walk in free agency.

If the Wild are confident this season will be better than last season– it’s make or break.

When things don’t work out, at least the inevitable front office turmoil has already been taken care of (hopefully).

Offseason Grade: F

This offseason, Minnesota pulled the equivalent of making just enough of an effort on an exam to get one or two answers right, but missed the mark on everything else.

Having said that, firing Fenton and hiring Guerin is probably the one or two questions on the exam that they got right. Other than that, there’s not much else that went well for the Wild to assure the Hockey Gods that they’re prepared for the 2019-20 season.

Categories
Previews

Nashville Predators 2018-19 Season Preview

Nashville Predators

53-18-11, 117 points, Presidents’ Trophy winners

Lost in the Second Round to Winnipeg (4-3)

Additions: C Colin Blackwell, LW Connor Brickley, RW Rocco Grimaldi, D Dan Hamhuis, C Zachary Magwood, LW Zac Rinaldo, D Jarred Tinordi

Subtractions: C Cody Bass, LW Brandon Bollig, D Stefan Elliott, D Alexei Emelin, C Mike Fisher, D Petter Granberg, LW Scott Hartnell, G Anders Lindback, C Mark McNeil, G Matt O’Connor, D Rick Pinkston, D John Ramage, C Trevor Smith, D Scott Valentine, LW Harry Zolnierczyk

Re-signed: D Ryan Ellis, RW Ryan Hartman, W Miikka Salomaki, G Juuse Saros

Offseason Analysis: The Predators had all the ingredients of a Stanley Cup winner last year. The offense was solid, the defense was stifling, and the goaltending was world-class. They boasted largely the same group that had made it all the way to the Final in 16-17, so now they had the experience and know-how that allows teams to get to the promised land. They dominated the regular season and walked into the playoffs with a Vince McMahon-like strut. Mike Fisher was so confident in their abilities to win a Cup that he quite literally decided he’d rather get back into hockey shape and unretire to join them for the playoffs rather than stay home and be Carrie Underwood’s husband (she never did return my letters about being her fill-in husband while he was away).

After dispatching of the Avs in the First Round, though, the Preds encountered a problem. They encountered (arguably) the one team that was capable of beating them: the Winnipeg Jets. The knock-down, drag-out playoff matchup hockey fans and media were begging for was to be the downfall of the Preds. Winnipeg’s unrelenting physicality, superior offensive firepower and the shattering of Pekka Rinne‘s confidence were too much for the Preds to overcome, and they’d fall unceremoniously in a 5-1 home loss after managing to force a Game 7.

Luckily for the Nashville brass, the offseason they faced wasn’t supremely daunting. Apart from a few young RFA’s and some aging role players (plus the re-retirement of Fisher), they had no real NHL-level contract concerns. The core of the team was secure heading into the 18-19 campaign. But still the sting of defeat in back-to-back potential Cup-winning years hurt, and efforts to counter a potential third year of the same had to be made.

With no draft picks until the fourth round, GM David Poile instead focused on free agency to bring immediate help to his team. When things opened up on July 1, he first tasked himself with helping them from within, re-signing wingers Miikka Salomaki (two years, $750 thousand per) and Ryan Hartman (one year, $875 thousand) and young stud No. 2 goaltender Juuse Saros (three years, $1.5 million per) to very reasonable deals. He then snagged one of his former draft picks in Dan Hamhuis, inking the 35-year-old to a two-year, $2.5 million contract to replace the departed Alexei Emelin and solidify the defense. Poile then knocked a big task off of next year’s to-do list when he signed defenseman Ryan Ellis to an eight-year, $50 million contract extension ($6.25 million cap hit) that takes hold next summer. Ellis has grown into one of the Preds’ most versatile and reliable defenders, and Poile saw no reason to wait on locking him up for the foreseeable future.

Few other signings were notable names, mostly organizational depth, although newcomers Rocco Grimaldi, Zac Rinaldo, Colin Blackwell, and AHL-contracted Brian Cooper have made noise to this point in training camp and are all still on the preseason roster heading into the final days/cuts.

Up front, the lineup will look largely unchanged from last year’s group, with really only depth positions likely up for grabs. Winger Scott Hartnell was the only full-timer from last year to depart, and 2017 first round pick Eeli Tolvanen looks poised to inherit his place in the lineup. While lacking Hartnell’s snarl, Tolvanen is a deadly shooter and spent last year lighting up the Finnish Elite League as a rookie fresh out of the USHL. With success in a men’s league and experience on North American ice, Tolvanen should be ready for an NHL roster spot. The only other notable absence, at least to start the season, will be the lack of power forward winger Austin Watson. The 26-year-old was suspended for the first 27 games of the season after pleading no contest to charges of domestic battery over the summer. It comes after Watson finally solidified his place in the Predators lineup last season, and they’ll have to make due without his size and physicality for at least the first few months of the year.

In Watson’s absense, I have the opening night forward group looking like:
Forsberg – Johansen – Arvidsson
Fiala – Turris – Smith
Tolvanen – Bonino – Sissons
Salomaki – Jarnkrok – Hartman
Extra forwards Grimaldi and Frederick Gaudreau

The defense also only lost one regular from last year, and Hamhuis should step right into that slot. Really only the No. 6 slot to his right remains a question, and while Matt Irwin and Anthony Bitetto are more than capable, they both have an uphill battle to unseat Yannick Weber based solely upon the fact that he’s the only right handed shot among them. The only problem facing the Preds here is that none of the three are on two-way contracts, so basically they get to decide who they’re most comfortable putting on waivers. In the end I think Irwin’s NHL experience could give him the edge in that decision.

Defensive lineup should look like:
Josi – Ellis
Ekholm – Subban
Hamhuis – Weber
Extra defender Irwin

In goal, it’s Pekka Rinne and Jusse Saros. Sorry I couldn’t make that any more entertaining.

Er, well, it is a contract year for Rinne. So… umm… that’ll be interesting, I guess.

Offseason Grade: B

Less really was more, here.

Poile played it smart, as he often does. He kept his spending to a minimum (the Preds should enter the season with a smidge north of $8 million to play with) and used the depth he’s accumulated to still ice one of the better lineups in the league.

The defense is arguably the best (or at least top three) in the league, and none of the top seven are in contract years. (In fact, only four forwards likely to make the NHL club are to see free agency next year, and every one of them is still RFA eligible)

Rinne is likely looking at his last shot at a Cup as a No. 1 guy (he’ll turn 36 this year), so he’ll be leaving nothing on the table.

The forward group is solid, if not spectacular. But with all that aforementioned cap space available, scoring punch can certainly be brought in sometime before the deadline if it proves to be a concern heading towards the playoffs.

We haven’t seen the last of Smashville playoff runs.

Categories
Nick's Net

2017 NHL Expansion Draft: Available Lists

30 of the NHL’s 31 teams submitted their protected lists on Saturday by 5 p.m. ET. The protected lists were made public at 10:30 a.m. ET (originally scheduled for 10 a.m.) on Sunday. Additionally, the available lists of players to choose from were released.

vegas_golden_knights_logo

The Vegas Golden Knights will now spend the next few days constructing their roster, with the full reveal set for Wednesday night during the NHL Awards Ceremony at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Vegas can choose from the following available players:

Anaheim Ducks

Forwards: Spencer Abott, Jared Boll, Sam Carrick, Patrick Eaves, Emerson Etem, Ryan Garbutt, Max Gortz, Nicolas Kerdiles, Andre Petersson, Logan Shaw, Nick Sorensen, Nate Thompson, Corey Tropp, Chris Wagner

Defensemen: Nate Guenin, Korbinian Holzer, Josh Manson, Jaycob Megna, Jeff Schultz, Clayton Stoner, Sami Vatanen

Goalies: Jonathan Bernier, Jhonas Enroth, Ryan Faragher, Matt Hackett, Dustin Tokarski

Arizona Coyotes

Forwards: Alexander Burmistrov, Shane Doan, Tyler Gaudet, Peter Holland, Josh Jooris, Jamie McGinn, Jeremy Morin, Mitchell Moroz, Chris Mueller, Teemu Pulkkinen, Brad Richardson, Garret Ross, Branden Troock, Radim Vrbata, Joe Whitney

Defensemen: Kevin Connauton, Jamie McBain, Zbynek Michalek, Jarred Tinordi

Goalies: Louis Domingue

Boston Bruins

Forwards: Matt Beleskey, Brian Ferlin, Jimmy Hayes, Alex Khokhlachev, Dominic Moore, Tyler Randell, Zac Rinaldo, Tim Schaller, Drew Stafford

Defensemen: Linus Arnesson, Chris Casto, Tommy Cross, Alex Grant, John-Michael Liles, Adam McQuaid, Colin Miller, Joe Morrow

Goalies: Anton Khudobin, Malcolm Subban

Buffalo Sabres

Forwards: William Carrier, Nicolas Deslauriers, Brian Gionta, Derek Grant, Justin Kea, Matt Moulson, Cal O’Reilly, Cole Schneider

Defensemen: Brady Austin, Mathew Bodie, Zach Bogosian, Justin Falk, Taylor Fedun, Cody Franson, Josh Gorges, Dmitry Kulikov

Goalies: Anders Nilsson, Linus Ullmark

Calgary Flames

Forwards: Brandon Bollig, Lance Bouma, Troy Brouwer, Alex Chiasson, Freddie Hamilton, Emile Poirier, Hunter Shinkaruk, Matt Stajan, Kris Versteeg, Linden Vey

Defensemen: Matt Bartkowski, Ryan Culkin, Deryk Engelland, Michael Kostka, Brett Kulak, Ladislav Smid, Michael Stone, Dennis Wideman, Tyler Wotherspoon

Goalies: Brian Elliott, Tom McCollum

Carolina Hurricanes

Forwards: Bryan Bickell, Connor Brickley, Patrick Brown, Erik Karlsson, Danny Kristo, Jay McClement, Andrew Miller, Andrej Nestrasil, Joakim Nordstrom, Lee Stempniak, Brendan Woods

Defensemen: Klas Dahlbeck, Dennis Robertson, Philip Samuelsson, Matt Tennyson

Goalies: Daniel Altshuller, Eddie Lack, Michael Leighton, Cam Ward

Chicago Blackhawks

Forwards: Kyle Baun, Andrew Desjardins, Marcus Kruger, Pierre-Cedric Labrie, Michael Latta, Brandon Mashinter, Dennis Rasmussen, Jordin Tootoo

Defensemen: Brian Campbell, Dillon Fournier, Shawn Lalonde, Johnny Oduya, Ville Pokka, Michal Rozsival, Viktor Svedberg, Trevor van Riemsdyk

Goalies: Mac Carruth, Jeff Glass

Colorado Avalanche

Forwards: Troy Bourke, Gabriel Bourque, Rene Bourque, Joe Colborne, Turner Elson, Felix Girard, Mikhail Grigorenko, Samuel Henley, John Mitchell, Jim O’Brien, Brendan Ranford, Mike Sislo, Carl Soderberg

Defensemen: Mark Barberio, Mat Clark, Eric Gelinas, Cody Goloubef, Duncan Siemens, Fedor Tyutin, Patrick Wiercioch

Goalies: Joe Cannata, Calvin Pickard, Jeremy Smith

Columbus Blue Jackets

Forwards: Josh Anderson, Alex Broadhurst, Matt Calvert, Zac Dalpe, Sam Gagner, Brett Gallant, William Karlsson, Lauri Korpikoski, Lukas Sedlak, T.J. Tynan, Daniel Zaar

Defensemen: Marc-Andre Bergeron, Scott Harrington, Jack Johnson, Kyle Quincey, John Ramage, Jaime Sifers, Ryan Stanton

Goalies: Oscar Dansk, Anton Forsberg, Joonas Korpisalo

Dallas Stars

Forwards: Adam Cracknell, Justin Dowling, Cody Eakin, Ales Hemsky, Jiri Hudler, Curtis McKenzie, Mark McNeill, Travis Morin, Patrick Sharp, Gemel Smith, Matej Stransky

Defensemen: Mattias Backman, Andrew Bodnarchuk, Ludwig Bystrom, Nick Ebert, Justin Hache, Dan Hamhuis, Patrik Nemeth, Jamie Oleksiak, Greg Pateryn, Dustin Stevenson

Goalies: Henri Kiviaho, Maxime Lagace, Kari Lehtonen, Antti Niemi, Justin Peters

Detroit Red Wings

Forwards: Louis-Marc Aubry, Mitch Callahan, Colin Campbell, Martin Frk, Luke Glendening, Darren Helm, Drew Miller, Tomas Nosek, Riley Sheahan, Ben Street, Eric Tangradi

Defensemen: Adam Almquist, Jonathan Ericsson, Niklas Kronwall, Brian Lashoff, Dylan McIlrath, Xavier Ouellet, Ryan Sproul

Goalies: Jared Coreau, Petr Mrazek, Edward Pasquale, Jake Paterson

Edmonton Oilers

Forwards: David Desharnais, Justin Fontaine, Matt Hendricks, Roman Horak, Jujhar Khaira, Anton Lander, Iiro Pakarinen, Tyler Pitlick, Zach Pochiro, Benoit Pouliot, Henrik Samuelsson, Bogdan Yakimov

Defensemen: Mark Fayne, Andrew Ference, Mark Fraser, Eric Gryba, David Musil, Jordan Oesterle, Griffin Reinhart, Kris Russell, Dillon Simpson

Goalies: Laurent Brossoit, Jonas Gustavsson

Florida Panthers

Forwards: Graham Black, Tim Bozon, Jaromir Jagr, Jussi Jokinen, Derek MacKenzie, Jonathan Marchessault, Colton Sceviour, Michael Sgarbossa, Reilly Smith, Brody Sutter, Paul Thompson, Shawn Thornton, Thomas Vanek

Defensemen: Jason Demers, Jakub Kindl, Brent Regner, Reece Scarlett, MacKenzie Weegar

Goalies: Reto Berra, Sam Brittain, Roberto Luongo

Los Angeles Kings

Forwards: Andy Andreoff, Justin Auger, Dustin Brown, Kyle Clifford, Andrew Crescenzi, Nic Dowd, Marian Gaborik, Jarome Iginla, Trevor Lewis, Michael Mersch, Jordan Nolan, Teddy Purcell, Devin Setoguchi, Nick Shore

Defensemen: Matt Greene, Vincent Loverde, Brayden McNabb, Cameron Schilling, Rob Scuderi, Zach Trotman

Goalies: Jack Campbell, Jeff Zatkoff

Minnesota Wild

Forwards: Brady Brassart, Patrick Cannone, Ryan Carter, Kurtis Gabriel, Martin Hanzal, Erik Haula, Zack Mitchell, Jordan Schroeder, Eric Staal, Chris Stewart, Ryan White

Defensemen: Victor Bartley, Matt Dumba, Christian Folin, Guillaume Gelinas, Alexander Gudbranson, Gustav Olofsson, Nate Prosser, Marco Scandella, Mike Weber

Goalies: Johan Gustafsson, Darcy Kuemper, Alex Stalock

Montreal Canadiens

Forwards: Daniel Carr, Connor Crisp, Jacob De La Rose, Bobby Farnham, Brian Flynn, Max Friberg, Charles Hudon, Dwight King, Stefan Matteau, Torrey Mitchell, Joonas Nattinen, Steve Ott, Tomas Plekanec, Alexander Radulov, Chris Terry

Defensemen: Brandon Davidson, Alexei Emelin, Keegan Lowe, Andrei Markov, Nikita Nesterov, Zach Redmond, Dalton Thrower

Goalies: Al Montoya

Nashville Predators

Forwards: Pontus Aberg, Cody Bass, Vernon Fiddler, Mike Fisher, Cody McLeod, James Neal, P.A. Parenteau, Adam Payerl, Mike Ribeiro, Miikka Salomaki, Colton Sissons, Craig Smith, Trevor Smith, Austin Watson, Colin Wilson, Harry Zolnierczyk

Defensemen: Taylor Aronson, Anthony Bitetto, Stefan Elliott, Petter Granberg, Brad Hunt, Matt Irwin, Andrew O’Brien, Adam Pardy, Jaynen Rissling, Scott Valentine, Yannick Weber

Goalies: Marek Mazanec

New Jersey Devils

Forwards: Beau Bennett, Michael Cammalleri, Carter Camper, Luke Gazdic, Shane Harper, Jacob Josefson, Ivan Khomutov, Stefan Noesen, Marc Savard, Devante Smith-Pelly, Petr Straka, Mattias Tedenby, Ben Thomson, David Wohlberg

Defensemen: Seth Helgeson, Viktor Loov, Ben Lovejoy, Andrew MacWilliam, Jon Merrill, Dalton Prout, Karl Stollery, Alexander Urbom

Goalies: Keith Kinkaid, Scott Wedgewood

New York Islanders

Forwards: Josh Bailey, Steve Bernier, Eric Boulton, Jason Chimera, Casey Cizikas, Cal Clutterbuck, Stephen Gionta, Ben Holmstrom, Bracken Kearns, Nikolay Kulemin, Brock Nelson, Shane Prince, Alan Quine, Ryan Strome, Johan Sundstrom

Defensemen: Calvin de Haan, Matthew Finn, Jesse Graham, Thomas Hickey, Loic Leduc, Scott Mayfield, Dennis Seidenberg

Goalies: Jean-Francois Berube, Christopher Gibson, Jaroslav Halak

New York Rangers

Forwards: Taylor Beck, Chris Brown, Daniel Catenacci, Jesper Fast, Tanner Glass, Michael Grabner, Marek Hrivik, Nicklas Jensen, Carl Klingberg, Oscar Lindberg, Brandon Pirri, Matt Puempel

Defensemen: Adam Clendening, Tommy Hughes, Steven Kampfer, Kevin Klein, Michael Paliotta, Brendan Smith, Chris Summers

Goalies: Magnus Hellberg, Antti Raanta, Mackenzie Skapski

Ottawa Senators

Forwards: Casey Bailey, Mike Blunden, Alexandre Burrows, Stephane Da Costa, Christopher DiDomenico, Nikita Filatov, Chris Kelly, Clarke MacArthur, Max McCormick, Chris Neil, Tom Pyatt, Ryan Rupert, Bobby Ryan, Viktor Stalberg, Phil Varone, Tommy Wingels

Defensemen: Mark Borowiecki, Fredrik Claesson, Brandon Gormley, Jyrki Jokipakka, Marc Methot, Patrick Sieloff, Chris Wideman, Mikael Wikstrand

Goalies: Mike Condon, Chris Driedger, Andrew Hammond

Philadelphia Flyers

Forwards: Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Greg Carey, Chris Conner, Boyd Gordon, Taylor Leier, Colin McDonald, Andy Miele, Michael Raffl, Matt Read, Chris VandeVelde, Jordan Weal, Dale Weise, Eric Wellwood

Defensemen: Mark Alt, T.J. Brennan, Michael Del Zotto, Andrew MacDonald, Will O’Neill, Jesper Pettersson, Nick Schultz

Goalies: Steve Mason, Michal Neuvirth

Pittsburgh Penguins

Forwards: Josh Archibald, Nick Bonino, Matt Cullen, Jean-Sebastien Dea, Carl Hagelin, Tom Kuhnhackl, Chris Kunitz, Kevin Porter, Bryan Rust, Tom Sestito, Oskar Sundqvist, Dominik Uher, Garrett Wilson, Scott Wilson

Defensemen: Ian Cole, Frank Corrado, Trevor Daley, Tim Erixon, Cameron Gaunce, Ron Hainsey, Stuart Percy, Derrick Pouliot, Chad Ruhwedel, Mark Streit, David Warsofsky

Goalies: Marc-Andre Fleury

San Jose Sharks

Forwards: Mikkel Boedker, Barclay Goodrow, Micheal Haley, Patrick Marleau, Buddy Robinson, Zack Stortini, Joe Thornton, Joel Ward

Defensemen: Dylan DeMelo, Brenden Dillon, Dan Kelly, Paul Martin, David Schlemko

Goalies: Aaron Dell, Troy Grosenick, Harri Sateri

St. Louis Blues

Forwards: Kenny Agostino, Andrew Agozzino, Kyle Brodziak, Jordan Caron, Jacob Doty, Landon Ferraro, Alex Friesen, Evgeny Grachev, Dmitrij Jaskin, Jori Lehtera, Brad Malone, Magnus Paajarvi, David Perron, Ty Rattie, Scottie Upshall, Nail Yakupov

Defensemen: Robert Bortuzzo, Chris Butler, Morgan Ellis, Carl Gunnarsson, Jani Hakanpaa, Petteri Lindbohm, Reid McNeill

Goalies: Jordan Binnington, Carter Hutton

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forwards: Carter Ashton, Michael Bournival, J.T. Brown, Cory Conacher, Erik Condra, Gabriel Dumont, Stefan Fournier, Byron Froese, Yanni Gourde, Mike Halmo, Henri Ikonen, Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond, Tye McGinn, Greg McKegg, Cedric Paquette, Tanner Richard, Joel Vermin

Defensemen: Dylan Blujus, Jake Dotchin, Jason Garrison, Slater Koekkoek, Jonathan Racine, Andrej Sustr, Matt Taormina, Luke Witkowski

Goalies: Peter Budaj, Kristers Gudlevskis, Jaroslav Janus, Mike McKenna

Toronto Maple Leafs

Forwards: Brian Boyle, Eric Fehr, Colin Greening, Seth Griffith, Teemu Hartikainen, Brooks Laich, Brendan Leipsic, Joffrey Lupul, Milan Michalek, Kerby Rychel, Ben Smith

Defensemen: Andrew Campbell, Matt Hunwick, Alexey Marchenko, Martin Marincin, Steve Oleksy, Roman Polak

Goalies: Antoine Bibeau, Curtis McElhinney, Garret Sparks

Vancouver Canucks

Forwards: Reid Boucher, Michael Chaput, Joseph Cramarossa, Derek Dorsett, Brendan Gaunce, Alexandre Grenier, Jayson Megna, Borna Rendulic, Anton Rodin, Drew Shore, Jack Skille, Michael Zalewski

Defensemen: Alex Biega, Philip Larsen, Tom Nilsson, Andrey Pedan, Luca Sbisa

Goalies: Richard Bachman, Ryan Miller

Washington Capitals

Forwards: Jay Beagle, Chris Bourque, Paul Carey, Brett Connolly, Stanislav Galiev, Tyler Graovac, Liam O’Brien, T.J. Oshie, Zach Sill, Chandler Stephenson, Chrisitan Thomas, Nathan Walker, Justin Williams, Daniel Winnik

Defensemen: Karl Alzner, Taylor Chorney, Cody Corbett, Darren Dietz, Christian Djoos, Tom Gilbert, Aaron Ness, Brooks Orpik, Nate Schmidt, Kevin Shattenkirk

Goalies: Pheonix Copley, Philipp Grubauer

Winnipeg Jets

Forwards: Marko Dano, Quinton Howden, Scott Kosmachuk, Tomas Kubalik, J.C. Lipon, Shawn Matthias, Ryan Olsen, Anthony Peluso, Chris Thorburn

Defensemen: Ben Chiarot, Toby Enstrom, Brenden Kichton, Julian Melchiori, Paul Postma, Brian Strait, Mark Stuart

Goalies: Michael Hutchinson, Ondrej Pavelec

Categories
Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Pavelski leads the way (again) as Sharks top Predators 5-1 in Game 5

By: Nick Lanciani 

UnknownJoe Pavelski picked up the game-winning goal on a two-goal night in the San Jose Sharks 5-1 victory over the Nashville Predators at SAP Center in Game 5 on Saturday night.

Patrick Marleau, Logan Couture and Melker Karlsson had the other goals for the Sharks and Mike Fisher had the lone goal for Nashville.

Martin Jones made 24 saves on 25 shots against for a .960 SV% en route to the win, while Pekka Rinne made 23 saves on 27 shots faced for a .852 SV% before being replaced by Carter Hutton for the final three minutes of the game. Hutton allowed one goal on two shots on net in his 3:01 of ice time.

With the win, San Jose now has a 3-2 series lead over Nashville heading into Game 6 on Monday night at Bridgestone Arena. The Sharks are one win away from advancing to the Western Conference Final for the first time since 2011. Meanwhile, the Predators fell to 0-7 at SAP Center in their all-time Stanley Cup Playoff matchups with San Jose.

Marleau kicked off the scoring at 10:47 of the first period with his 3rd goal of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Joonas Donskoi picked up his first of two assists on the night. Marleau’s goal gave San Jose a 1-0 lead, but Mike Fisher soon answered with a game tying goal of his own less than five minutes later. Fisher found the back of the net on a backhand shot that beat Jones for his 5th goal of the postseason, assisted by James Neal (3) and Colin Wilson (8) at 15:40 of the first period.

But the game wouldn’t stay tied at 1 for long.

Joe Pavelski received a pass from Joe Thornton and fired home a slap shot behind Rinne for what would be the eventual game winning goal. Pavelski’s 7th goal of the playoffs was assisted by Thornton (5) and Marc-Edouard Vlasic (5) at 17:21 of the opening frame and gave the Sharks a 2-1 lead heading into the first intermission.

After twenty minutes of play San Jose was leading in shots on goal (13-11), giveaways (8-6) and takeaways (5-1). Nashville led in hits (15-11) and blocked shots (12-5), while both teams split faceoff wins 11-11 and had yet to see special teams opportunities.

Just thirty-five seconds into the second period, Logan Couture found himself on a breakaway and sent one past Rinne on the backhand to give the Sharks a 3-1 lead. Couture’s 5th goal of the playoffs was his 7th point of the series and put him one point shy of leading in postseason scoring across the NHL with 5-8-13 totals thus far in two rounds. Donskoi picked up the assist (his fourth of the playoffs) on the goal.

Marleau, Pavelski and Couture rank 1st, 2nd and 3rd respectively, in Sharks all-time playoff goal scoring and each forward had at least one goal on Saturday night.

Brenden Dillon was charged with the game’s first penalty as he was sent to the box for interference 10:31 into the 2nd period. The Predators were unable to convert on their first power play opportunity of the night and the Sharks were therefore successful on their first penalty kill of the game.

UnknownRoman Josi had the most time on ice of any player in Game 4 (49:42 TOI) and was called for a tripping minor at 19:13 of the second period after he tripped up Couture.

Nine seconds on the power play was all it took for Pavelski to find the twine for the second time of the night and his 8th goal of the postseason. Pavelski’s power play goal gave San Jose a 4-1 lead and was assisted by Marleau (4) and Thornton (6).

Ryan Johansen received a minor penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct with less than 15 seconds remaining in the second period and gave the Sharks a short power play before Joel Ward caught Paul Gaustad with a high stick and drew some blood. Ward was sent to the box with a double minor for high sticking and the Sharks and Predators would see some 4-on-4 action to end the 2nd period and begin the 3rd period.

Not much happened in the third period until Johansen tried to mix things up with Pavelski and Thornton roughed up Barret Jackman. Johansen was given a roughing minor and a 10-minute misconduct, while Thornton received two minutes for slashing Jackman and Mike Ribeiro ascertained a 10-minute misconduct himself at 16:01 of the third period.

Almost a minute later, Anthony Bitetto put the Sharks on a 4-on-3 power play after Bitetto tripped Nick Spaling. By then the Predators had tried just about anything and soon replaced Rinne in goal with Hutton for the last three minutes or so.

None sooner had the Predators swapped goalies than San Jose capitalized on the goalie change and Melker Karlsson squeaked one past Hutton to make it 5-1 with about 50 seconds left in the game. Chris Tierney (1) and Justin Braun (3) picked up the assists on Karlsson’s 2nd of the postseason.

The Sharks finished the night leading in shots on goal (29-25), hits (40-37), giveaways (22-17), takeaways (13-2) and blocked shots (18-16) while the Predators ended the night leading in faceoff wins (32-27). Nashville went 0/3 on the power play and San Jose went 1/3 on the man advantage after sixty minutes of play.

With the 5-1 victory on home ice in Game 5, San Jose now holds a 3-2 series lead— with a chance to eliminate Nashville from the Second Round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs— heading to enemy territory for Game 6 on Monday night at Bridgestone Arena. Puck drop is scheduled for 9:00 PM EST and the game will be televised on CNBC in the United States and on Sportsnet and TVA Sports in Canada.

Categories
Playoff Recaps

An All Around Team Effort Helps Nashville Earn a Giant Win at Home.

The Nashville Predators took down the San Jose Sharks easily by the score of 4-1 after scoring four straight unanswered goals. Nashville played a great all-around game and easily won in front of their home crowd. This loss was San Jose’s first road loss of the playoffs.

The Predators looked to use home ice advantage in their favor to get back in the series. They even had Tennessee Titans superstar quarterback Marcus Mariota appear before the game on the ice to get the crowd pumped up. Nashville made a major lineup change prior to Game 3. Preds center Mike Ribeiro was a healthy scratch after having only one point and a minus-three in nine playoff games this year. Nashville replaced Ribeiro with rookie Pontus Aberg who made his NHL debut tonight. Aberg recorded 40 points, 25 of them goals, in 73 games with their AHL affiliate Milwaukee Admirals.

Nashville applied major pressure early and just 1:11 into the game the pressure resulted in the game’s first penalty. Sharks winger Melker Karlsson took down Preds star Roman Josi with a hook and earned a two-minute trip to the sin bin. This sent the Predators to their awful man advantage. Nashville is a horrendous 2/31 on the PP in the playoffs. The penalty resulted in no big chances as they only managed 2 shots and San Jose killed it off.

Unknown

The games first goal came with 6:47 remaining in the first period. This goal resulted from pure skill and speed. San Jose vet Patrick Marleau kicked the puck to himself at his own blue line but kicked it so far even I thought the play was going to result in nothing. I and probably every fan in the arena was wrong. Marleau was able to split Predators defender, Shea Weber, and Roman Josi and beat them to the puck in the Preds zone. Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne tried to come out and perform a diving poke check but completely missed the puck after Marleau pulled the puck back onto his stick. Marleau then had a wide open net and slammed the puck home to open up the Sharks tab. This goal was the first 1st-period goal of the series between these two teams.

With a little of five minutes left in the first period, Predators D-man Anthony Bitetto crossed check Sharks center Joe Thornton. After the penalty was called, a major scrum ensued which resulted in a roughing minor for Sharks defender Brent Burns and Predators defender Barret Jackman. These two calls canceled each other out and sent San Jose to their first PP of the game from the Bitetto cross-check call. The Preds were able to kill this PP of with poise. Then with 55 seconds left in the first, Preds winger Viktor Arvidsson gets the call for slashing Sharks defenseman Brendan Dillon sending San Jose to their second PP of the game and the first period ended with them on the man advantage.

The second period started with the Sharks on the power play. Nashville was once again up to the task and didn’t allow a shot and killed off the penalty. Then just 2:19 into the second period, San Jose youngster Joonas Donskoi received a four-minute high-sticking call after he caught Preds winger James Neal up high. Nashville went to their second manpower advantage of the game, looking for some major momentum and even a goal to tie the game.

That is exactly what Nashville did thanks to a very good power play. Predators Mattias Ekholm gathered the puck on the left-hand side, skated the puck across the blue line and drove right into the slot. Ekholm spotted Preds winger James Neal low on the right-hand side and fed him a nifty pass. Neal took the pass and HAMMERED a one-timer from almost the goal line and beat San Jose goalie Martin Jones high short side to tie the game up at 1-1 on the power play.

Nashville would then get another glorious chance to take the lead just 3:21 later. Predators defender Roman Josi corralled the puck high in the left-hand slot and ripped a wrister looking to beat Jones high glove side. Martin Jones had other plans and robbed Josi with a stellar glove save to keep the game knotted at 1 goal a piece.

San Jose went back on the penalty kill after Sharks winger Matt Nieto hooked Preds Ryan Johansen. Nashville went back to the power play for the third time looking to take the lead again. Sadly, their power play did not last long because Nashville winger Craig Smith caught Sharks winger Nick Spalling with a stick up high and we then played 4 on 4 hockey.

Just 44 seconds later of four aside hockey, Nashville would take the lead thanks to Shea Weber. Predators Ryan Johansen carried the puck in on the right side and tried dancing around the defenseman. Johansen got the puck poked right off his stick and went right to Shea Weber sitting in the slot. Weber unleashed a HOWITZER of a slap shot that beat Martin Jones high glove side and went bar down to give them a 2-1 lead. This goal was Weber’s 13th career playoff goal, tieing the franchise record for goals in the playoffs with David Legwand (no longer on the team).

San Jose went back on the power play with their fourth chance of the game. This time, Nashville defenseman Barret Jackman got called for hooking Sharks defender Brent Burns. The Sharks look to tie the game up on their power play which is usually very strong. San Jose managed to fire four shots on Pekka Rinne, but Rinne was very effective and shut down every opportunity. The second period would end with Nashville up 2-1, but San Jose still looking to tie the game.

Just like the second period started, the third period started with the Sharks back on the power play for 21 seconds. Nashville killed off that penalty once again, especially thanks to Pekka Rinne and blocked shots. The two teams would then trade a couple of decent scoring chances, but again, the duo of Rinne and Jones would turn them away.

Then with 13:51 left in the third period, Predators youngster Colton Sissons went on a mini breakaway looking to score. Sissons would then get knocked off the puck and taken down. He went flying into the post banging his knee right off the post. Sissons would then need help to get off the ice and went right into the locker room. Hope he can return quickly!

Then just 46Unknown seconds later the Predators would strike again to go up 3-1 with 13 minutes remaining. Nashville winger Colin Wilson grabbed the puck on the goal line and slid a beautiful pass to pinching defender Ryan Ellis. He then threw a snap shot on net that was immediately saved by Jones’ left pad. The puck went off the boards and right to Wilson who was sitting in the same spot. Wilson corralled the loose puck on the goal line and shot it off the right post and in to give the Preds their first two-goal lead of the series. Wilson now has points in four straight games.

San Jose would then start applying some more pressure in the hope of getting back into the game. Although, once again Pekka Rinne was able to stone the Sharks on back to back chances to keep his team’s two-goal lead.

With 8:52 left in the contest we would get more 4 on 4 hockey. Nashville D-man Roman Josi collects a slashing call against Sharks center Joe Thornton and Joe Thornton getting two minutes for slashing Roman Josi right back. San Jose looked to take a page out of Nashville’s book and score a goal while playing 4 on 4 just like the Preds did earlier in the game, but this never happened.

Nashville winger Craig Smith would then be sent on a mini breakaway off a nice pass. San Jose D-man Brenden Dillon would slash Smith on his BA causing his shot to go wide. This sent the Preds to their fifth PP of the game looking to convert for another goal. Just 47 seconds into the power play, Mike Fisher would have another amazing chance to add to the lead. Fisher got the puck in the high slot and fired a laser that was calmly gloved down by Jones to still give his team a glimmer of hope.

Then 1:48 into the Predators fifth power play, Nashville would strike again. Preds winger Filip Forsberg, who was in the right-hand corner, passed the puck up to Preds D-man Roman Josi at the point. Josi passed the puck right back to Forsberg who grabbed the puck, curled back and drove right to the top of the right faceoff circle. Forsberg then rifled a NASTY wrist shot that, once again, beat Martin Jones high glove side and went bar down to increase the lead to 4-1. This would end up being the final score of the game as the Predators would hold on for a huge win.

Nashville’s goalie Pekka Rinne would end the game saving 24 out of 25 shots for a .963 SV%. While San Jose’s tendy Martin Jones would save 21 out of 25 shots for a measly .840 SV%.

Nashville would lead faceoffs (35-26), hits (37-28), and giveaways (6-5). San Jose would lead in shots (27-25) and penalty minutes (14-12). The teams would tie in blocked shots (19-19). The Sharks went a terrible 0/4 on the power play and the Predators went 2/5.

Nashville would earn a huge win and also a huge momentum builder with tonight’s win. Thier win would cut San Jose’s series lead to 2 games to 1. These two teams will meet again on Thursday night at 9 pm back here in Nashville, Tennesee. The game can be seen on CNBC, SN, or TVAS2.

Categories
Playoff Recaps

Frederik Andersen and Chris Stewart Lead the Ducks to a Crucial Game 3 Win

 

The Anaheim Ducks took care of the Nashville Predators by a score of 3-0 on Tuesday night in the heart of the music city. The Ducks were led by an unlikely hero, right winger Chris Stewart. He picked up a goal and an assist in tonight’s contest.

You were able to tell at the immediate start of the game that the Predators fans were amped up and ready to go. The fans stuck to their 14-year tradition dating back to 2002 and ended up throwing not one, not two, but THREE huge catfish on the ice. So the Bridgestone Arena was all ready to go, but unfortunately, the result was not what they were hoping for. While the Ducks, on the other hand, were looking to build off of their outstanding 23-11-7 record away from the Honda Center (their home rink) during the regular season.

The Anaheim Ducks decided to move away from their young goaltender John Gibson after his underperformances in Games 1 and 2. Ducks skipper Bruce Boudreau turned to his usual number 1 goalie Frederik Andersen, who hasn’t played since the season finale on April 10th, to help backstop the Ducks and hope to propel them to a Game 3 win.

The first scoring chance went to Ducks young center Rickard Rakell just 5 minutes into the game with a quick snapshot from the right dot. Although, Predators superstar goalie Pekka Rinne was sublime and snared the puck out of the air. Nashville then counters with a great chance just a minute later with Pred’s left winger Colin Wilson driving to the slot and ripping a shot, but Andersen was up to the task and made his save look even easier.

The first goal of the game came with 9:55 remaining in the first period. Predator’s youngster Anthony Bitetto committed a horrendous turnover in his own defensive end. Ducks winger Chris Stewart picked up the loose puck, dropped it off to Shawn Horcoff, who then drew two Nashville defenders to him and spotted Duck’s left winger Jamie McGinn open on the right side and slid a pass over to him and he hammered it home to open up the scoring. It was McGinn’s 3rd career playoff goal and first of the 2016 playoffs.

Then a minute later at 8:13 remaining in the period Pred’s right winger James Neal took the game’s first penalty by catching Anaheim defenseman Simon Despres up high with his stick. This sent the Ducks to the power play where they looked to build on their  1-0 lead but only had one shot and never gained any great scoring chances.

Simon Despres looked to add to his team’s lead himself when he was spotted by Ducks vet Ryan Getzlaf with a beauty of a backhand pass from the corner. Although, Rinne stood tall and stoned his one-timer to keep the ducks lead at one. Also to end the period, Despres took down Nashville’s Mike Fisher with 41 seconds left in the first to earn a two-minute spot in the sin bin. This sent the Predators to their first PP of the game.

Nashville opened up the second period still on the power play looking to tie the game early. Unfortunately, Anaheim had an awesome penalty kill and only gave up 3 weak shots. Nashville would then go back on the PP with Jamie McGinn tripping Predators left winger Filip Forsberg  just eight minutes later, but just like before, it did not amount to anything.

Just 3:37 later the Ducks add another goal, courtesy of Ducks center Rickard Rakell. Ducks winger Corey Perry fed a nice pass to defenseman Sami Vatanen who let a wrist shot go from the point that found Rakell in front for a beautiful tip just over Rinne’s pad. This was also Rakell’s 3rd career playoff goal and first of his 2016 playoff campaign.

Believe it or not,then 5:37 later Anaheim tacked on another goal to push its lead to 3-0. This time, Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf, after receiving a pass from defenseman Hampus Lindholm, drove right down main street, making moves left and right and pulled the puck into the corner going untouched. From there he spotted a streaking Christ Stewart in the slot and hit him with a superb pass. Stewart corralled the pass, threw a quick shot that was swiftly turned away from Rinne with a pad save. Then, immediately got his own rebound and lifted a backhand shot right over Rinne’s blocker for his first goal of the playoffs.

With 1:53 remaining in the second Duck’s D-man Cam Fowler took an interference penalty on Pred’s center Mike Ribeiro. This sent the Predator’s on the 3rd PP of the game, but just like the previous two resulted in nothing special.

The third period had little to no action at all, a couple shots here and there but nothing big. Ducks right winger Jakob Silfverberg slashed Mike Ribero sending the Pred’s to their 4th PP just 29 seconds into the third period. Everyone in the building and all the fans begged and pleaded for a goal or just some momentum going their team’s way but never got it. The only exciting play on this power play was Ryan Johansen beating Simon Despres behind the net, then played the puck in front but Andersen had that play covered up. The Pred’s last PP came just five minutes later with the Ducks picking up a bench minor for too many men. This, just like the other power plays, resulted in nothing special again. They simply need to produce on the man advantage if the want to win the series and win the Cup.

With 8:26 remaining in the game Predators winger Calle Jarnkrok slashed Jamie McGinn’s stick and broke it right in half to cap off a terrible night for all Predators players. This sent the Ducks on their second and last PP of the game, nothing came from it. Nashville would get their last good scoring chance with six minutes remaining with a shot coming from the point from Pred’s D-man Ryan Ellis firing a low hard wrister from the point which was calmly saved by Andersen capping off a big night from the Dane.

The Predators would then pull Pekka Rinne with 2:19 remaining in the game in hopes of a miracle comeback, but clearly it did not work at all. On the other hand, Duck’s goalie Frederik Andersen had a huge night! He stopped all 27 shots Nashville threw at him for his second career playoff shutout. Predators goalie Pekka Rinne stopped 18 out of 21 shots and finished with an awful .857%

The Predators outshot the Ducks (27-21) lead in faceoffs (33-30) and giveaways (14-3). While the Ducks lead in hits (29-27) penalty minutes (10-4) and blocked shots (15-11). Anaheim went 0/2 on the power play and Nashville went for a dreadful 0/5.

It was also a special night for Anaheim Ducks captain, Ryan Getzlaf as he played in his 100th career playoff game. He now holds the record for most playoff games played by a Duck after passing long-time Anaheim defenseman Francois Beauchemin.

This was a huge win for the Ducks because they avoid going down 3-0 and cut Nashville’s lead down to 2 games to 1 (2-1). These teams will be back at it on Thursday night back here in Nashville, Tennesee at 8 pm EST. The game can be caught on NHLN-US, FX-CA, or FS-TN.

Categories
Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Predators Stun Heavily Favored Ducks in Game 1 at Honda Center

By: Nick Lanciani

Pekka Rinne, and the usual suspects for the Nashville Predators when it comes time for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, stunned the Anaheim Ducks in Game 1 of their series, emerging victorious on road ice, 3-2. Rinne made 27 saves on 29 shots against for a .931 SV% while picking up the win, as Anaheim’s goaltender, John Gibson made 30 saves on 33 shots against for a .909 SV% in the loss.

Gibson had appeared in four Stanley Cup Playoff games heading into Friday night at the Honda Center, having gone 2-2 with a 2.70 GAA, and entered the night as the regular season’s tied-for-2nd best goaltender in goals-against-average with St. Louis Blues goalie, Brian Elliot, with a 2.07 GAA behind only Tampa Bay Lightning goalie, Ben Bishop’s 2.06 GAA.

UnknownJames Neal started the scoring for Nashville 35 seconds into the first period and gave the Predators a 1-0 lead with some help from Ryan Johansen.

The Predators and Ducks then swapped minor penalties about four minutes apart nearly seven minutes and eleven minutes into the opening frame, with Nashville forward, Mike Ribero, being sent to the box for hooking at 7:08 and Anaheim defenseman, Simon Despres, sent to the sin bin for high sticking at 11:24 of the first period. Neither team was successful on their first power play opportunities of the night.

At 16:15 of the first period, Nashville’s Anthony Bitetto was called for holding the stick of Ducks forward, Nate Thompson, giving Anaheim a power play. Less than 40 seconds later, the Ducks went on a two-man advantage with star defenseman, Shea Weber, going to the box for cross checking David Perron.

Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf capitalized on the ensuing 5-on-3 power play with his first playoff goal of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs assisted by Cam Fowler and Corey Perry at 17:39 of the first period to tie the game at 1-1. Shots on goal were even at 12-12 after the first twenty minutes of play and the Ducks were leading in hits (16-12), faceoffs (17-9) and giveaways (7-2), while the Predators led in takeaways (1-0) and blocked shots (8-4).

The second period started with another quick goal, however, it was scored this time Anaheim Ducks forward, Ryan Kesler, to give the Ducks their first lead of the night at 2-1, 48 seconds into the 2nd. Kesler’s goal was assisted by Andrew Cogliano (1) and Hampus Lindholm (1).

UnknownNashville responded to Anaheim’s goal with a goal from Colin Wilson at 7:55 of the 2nd period, with help from Ryan Ellis (1) and Roman Josi (1) to tie the game, 2-2.

Both teams continued to swap chances as the rest of the second period went on and after forty minutes of play the Predators were leadings in shots on goal 25-20, takeaways (3-1) and blocked shots (12-11). Anaheim, on the other hand, led in faceoffs (26-17) and giveaways (12-6) after forty. Both teams had 27 hits aside.

Twenty-five seconds past halfway in the third period, Filip Forsberg shot the puck towards Gibson and it appeared to have deflected off of Anaheim’s Shea Theodore and wound up behind Gibson. Forsberg’s fluke goal proved to be the game winner, as the Ducks could not answer the Predators tally, despite trailing 3-2 with almost half a period left in regulation.

Anaheim used their timeout with 1:51 remaining in the game and had pulled their goaltender, but it was to no avail. Nashville kept the puck out of their zone and forced the Ducks to recover and retreat.

After sixty minutes of play, the Nashville Predators had won 3-2 and took a 1-0 series lead on the home ice advantage, Anaheim Ducks. The Preds ended the game with 33 shots on goal compared to the Ducks 29. Nashville also led in hits (33-31) and blocked shots (20-17), while Anaheim dominated the faceoff dot (42-27), giveaways (20-11) and went 1/4 on the power play. The Predators failed to convert on all three of their power play opportunities and tied the Ducks in takeaways (5-5).

This is just the 2nd time that the Anaheim Ducks and the Nashville Predators have met in a Stanley Cup Playoffs matchup. The previous series between these two teams was back in the 2011 Western Conference Quarterfinals, where Nashville went on to win the series in six games (4-2). That same series was the first playoff series win in the Predators franchise history, before succumbing to the Vancouver Canucks in the 2011 Western Conference Semifinals.

Game 2 of this year’s 2016 Western Conference Quarterfinal between Anaheim and Nashville is slated for Sunday at 10:30 PM EST on NBCSN, live from the Honda Center in Anaheim, before swinging to the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville for Game 3 on Tuesday.