Categories
NHL Nick's Net

Bruins force Game 7 with commanding, 5-2, victory at home

For the 29th time in franchise history (a National Hockey League leading postseason stat), the Boston Bruins are going to a Game 7 in a best-of-seven series after defeating the Carolina Hurricanes, 5-2, Thursday night at TD Garden.

Whereas recent memory conjures images of Boston’s 2019 Stanley Cup Final Game 7 loss on home ice to the visiting St. Louis Blues, this time around the Bruins will look to be a spoiler on the road in Raleigh, North Carolina and become the first wild card team since the NHL adopted its current playoff format in 2014, to usurp a division winner in their non-traditional division.

See, the B’s belong to the league’s Atlantic Division, while the Canes exist in the Metropolitan Division.

Carolina, meanwhile, will have home ice in their first Game 7 against Boston since the Hurricanes upset the Bruins in the 2009 Eastern Conference Semifinal.

It will also be Carolina’s first Game 7 appearance since they beat the Washington Capitals on the road in their 2019 First Round matchup.

The last Game 7 victory on home ice for the Hurricanes was, of course, the 2006 Stanley Cup Final against the Edmonton Oilers.

Jeremy Swayman (3-1, 2.51 goals-against average, .913 save percentage in four games played) made 23 saves on 25 shots against in the win for Boston Thursday night.

Meanwhile, Hurricanes goaltender, Antti Raanta (2-2, 2.46 goals-against average, .926 save percentage in five games played), turned aside 29 out of 33 shots faced in the loss.

Once more, the Bruins were without Jakub Zboril (right ACL) and Jesper Frödén (lower body) Thursday night, while Hampus Lindholm returned to the lineup after missing the last few games with an upper body injury.

Down 3-2 in the series entering Thursday and with Lindholm’s return to action, Boston’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, restructured his lines and defensive pairings to a more familiar look around the trade deadline when the B’s were surging in the regular season.

Jake DeBrusk went back to the first line right wing with Patrice Bergeron at center and Brad Marchand on left wing, while David Pastrnak was reunited with Taylor Hall and Erik Haula on the second line.

Trent Frederic returned to the lineup on the third line with Charlie Coyle at center– flanked by Frederic and Craig Smith on his wings.

Meanwhile, Nick Foligno, Tomáš Nosek and Curtis Lazar returned to their usual roles on the fourth line with Chris Wagner joining the short list of healthy scratches in the press box at TD Garden for Game 6.

On defense, Lindholm and Charlie McAvoy were reunited, while Mike Reilly suited up alongside Brandon Carlo and Derek Forbort and Connor Clifton’s third pairing went unchanged.

Wagner and Matt Grzelcyk joined Jack Studnicka, Marc McLaughlin, Steven Fogarty, Troy Grosenick, Josh Brown, Joona Koppanen, Cameron Hughes, Jack Ahcan, Tyler Lewington, Oskar Steen, Nick Wolff, Anton Blidh, Kyle Keyser and Jakub Lauko as Boston’s healthy scratches on Thursday.

Sebastian Aho kicked things off with a hooking infraction at 12:44 of the first period, but the Bruins couldn’t muster anything on the skater advantage.

Neither team could score, nor did either club score a goal in the opening frame, rendering it, 0-0, entering the first intermission despite Carolina holding an, 11-8, advantage in shots on goal.

Boston led in blocked shots (6-3), giveaways (4-0) and faceoff win percentage (62-39), while the Hurricanes held the advantage in hits (22-11).

Both teams had three takeaways each and had yet to see time on the power play entering the middle frame.

It didn’t take long for the B’s to jump out ahead first as Marchand (4) received a pass and entered the attacking zone along his off wing before sending a wrist shot high on the short side over Raanta’s glove and under the bar to give the Bruins a, 1-0, lead 46 seconds into the second period.

Clifton (1) and Coyle (4) notched the assists as Boston scored the game’s first goal for the first time in the series.

Less than a few minutes later, however, Clifton kicked off a string of penalties for the Bruins when he was assessed a holding minor at 3:23, but Boston made the kill.

Carolina got a second chance on the power play at 9:08, however, when Frederic tripped Brett Pesce and even had 54 seconds on a 5-on-3 advantage when McAvoy cut a rut to the sin bin hooking Vincent Trocheck at 10:15 of the second period.

The Canes, however, failed to convert on the two power plays.

Haula caught Jesperi Kotkaniemi with a high stick at 13:36 of the second period and presented another power play opportunity that went by the wayside for Carolina.

At 16:58, Pesce was assessed a holding minor and yielded Boston their second power play of the night.

Late in the ensuing skater advantage, the B’s worked the puck around the zone enough before Marchand dished a pass back to Pastrnak for a shot attempt from the point that was blocked by a Hurricane before rebounding to Coyle (2) in the slot for the doorstep goal on the forehand.

Pastrnak (3) and Marchand (7) tallied the assists on Coyle’s power-play goal at 18:04 of the second period and the Bruins had a, 2-0, lead as a result.

Through 40 minutes of play, the B’s held a two-goal lead going into the second intermission and led, 19-17, in shots on goal, including an, 11-6, advantage in shots in the middle frame alone.

Boston also dominated in blocked shots (15-9), takeaways (6-3) and faceoff win% (53-47), while Carolina led in giveaways (5-4) and hits (27-21).

The Hurricanes were 0-for-4 and the Bruins were 1-for-2 on the power play heading into the final frame.

Carolina struck first in the final frame as Seth Jarvis setup Andrei Svechnikov (2) for a catch and release goal high on the short side past Swayman’s blocker to cut Boston’s lead in half, 2-1.

Jarvis (2) had the only assist on Svechnikov’s first goal of the game at 3:24 of the third period.

Less than four minutes later, however, the Bruins responded and re-extended their lead to two-goals after Haula (1) redirected a shot pass into the far corner of the net behind Raanta for a, 3-1, lead at 7:08 of the third period.

McAvoy (3) had the only assist on Haula’s first goal of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Midway through the third period, Forbort (1) flung a shot from the point with eyes that may have tipped off of a Canes skaters’ stick under Raanta’s blocker side while the Carolina netminder was temporarily without a stick– having dropped it seconds prior.

Nosek (1) had the only assist on Forbort’s first goal– regular season or playoffs– since Nov. 20th and the Bruins had a, 4-1, lead as a result at 10:43.

Jaccob Slavin sent an errant puck over the glass and out of play at 12:01, but the B’s failed to capitalize on their last power play opportunity of the night.

With 4:33 remaining in the action, Hurricanes head coach, Rod Brind’Amour, pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker, but it wasn’t long before Lazar (1) floated a shot from the red line into the empty twine to give Boston a, 5-1, advantage.

Foligno (1) and Nosek (2) tallied the assists on Lazar’s empty net goal at 15:43 of the third period.

Less than a minute later, Marchand was assessed a four-minute double-minor penalty for spearing Kotkaniemi while skating past the Carolina forward at 16:20.

The Hurricanes made relatively quick work of the first power play as Slavin sent the puck to Martin Nečas, who fed Svechnikov (3) for another one-timer goal– this time cutting the deficit from four goals to three.

Nečas (3) and Slavin (4) had the assists on Svechnikov’s power-play goal– his second goal of the game– at 17:30 of the third period.

The Bruins killed off the rest of Marchand’s penalty and went on to win, 5-2, at the final horn.

At the end of the night, Boston left their own ice leading in shots on goal, 34-25, including a, 15-8, advantage in the third period alone, while Carolina dominated in everything else, including blocked shots (18-12), giveaways (10-5), hits (42-34) and faceoff win% (52-48).

The Hurricanes finished the night 1-for-6 on the power play, while the Bruins went 1-for-3 on the skater advantage.

The B’s are now 13-14 all time in a Game 6 when trailing in a series 3-2 and are looking to win a best-of-seven series for just the third time in 29 instances of at one point trailing 2-0 in the series heading into Game 3.

Game 7 is back at PNC Arena in Raleigh Saturday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. ET with the winner clinching the series 4-3 and advancing to the Second Round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Viewers in the United States can tune to ESPN, while those in Canada can catch the action on SN360, SNE, SNW, SNP and TVAS.

Local markets can also watch the game on their corresponding regional networks if so desired.

Boston will be making their 29th appearance in a Game 7 and enters Saturday with a 15-13 record in 28 prior Game 7 efforts, having most recently lost in a Game 7 on home ice to the St. Louis Blues in the 2019 Stanley Cup Final.

The Bruins lead in Game 7 appearances (28) and are tied with the Montréal Canadiens for the most wins (15), as well as with the Toronto Maple Leafs for the most losses (13).

Carolina is entering their eighth appearance in a Game 7 Saturday afternoon with a 5-3 record in seven prior instances of a Game 7, having most recently beaten the Washington Capitals on the road in Game 7 of their 2019 First Round series in double overtime.

The Hurricanes last hosted a Game 7 on home ice in the 2006 Stanley Cup Final when they defeated the Edmonton Oilers to clinch the franchise’s first Stanley Cup championship.

The Canes are 5-0 in a Game 7 since relocating from Hartford and previously defeated the Bruins on the road in Game 7 of their 2009 Eastern Conference Semifinal series in overtime.

Coincidentally, that game was also held on May 14th.

Categories
NHL Nick's Net

Hurricanes can eliminate Bruins on the road in Game 6

The Carolina Hurricanes scored four unanswered goals before the Boston Bruins could even get on the board prior to pocketing an empty net goal to seal the deal on a, 5-1, victory in front of their home crowd at PNC Arena Tuesday night in Game 5 of their 2022 First Round matchup.

As a result, the Bruins face elimination on their own ice back at TD Garden in Game 6 on Thursday.

The Hurricanes have a 3-2 series lead and can advance to the Second Round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a win in Boston and go on to face the winner of the New York Rangers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins series (Game 5 is Wednesday night with the Penguins leading the series 3-1).

For Boston, it’s win and force a Game 7 back in Raleigh Saturday night or go home empty handed with an early postseason exit Thursday.

In any case, the home team has yet to lose in this series.

Antti Raanta (2-1, 1.96 goals-against average, .942 save percentage in four games played) made 33 saves on 34 shots against in the win for Carolina.

B’s netminder, Jeremy Swayman (2-1, 2.68 goals-against average, .911 save percentage in three games played), stopped 33 out of 37 shots faced in the loss.

The Bruins were without Jakub Zboril (right ACL), Jesper Frödén (lower body) and Hampus Lindholm (upper body) on Tuesday, while Charlie McAvoy returned from COVID-19 protocol and was cleared to play in Game 5 after missing Game 4.

Boston’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made a few lineup changes as a result of McAvoy’s return.

On defense, Cassidy reunited Matt Grzelcyk with Brandon Carlo on the second pairing, while Derek Forbort and Connor Clifton were relegated to the third pairing.

McAvoy slotted back into his regular role on the right side of the first pairing with Mike Reilly as his partner for the night while Lindholm remains out due to injury.

Among the forwards, Cassidy promoted Craig Smith to the second line right wing with Taylor Hall on the opposite wing and Erik Haula at center, while Jake DeBrusk took to the left side of Charlie Coyle on the third line with Tomáš Nosek playing right wing.

Josh Brown joined Trent Frederic, Anton Blidh and Kyle Keyser on Boston’s list of healthy scratches Tuesday night in Raleigh.

After pinching and winning a battle in the attacking zone, Jaccob Slavin (1) threw a shot on net that caught a piece of Swayman’s leg pad before trickling over the goal line while the Bruins netminder swatted at the rubber biscuit in desperation.

Carolina led, 1-0, at 6:11 of the first period as a result, while Tony DeAngelo (6) and Sebastian Aho (2) tallied the assists on Slavin’s goal.

For the fifth time in as many games this series, the Hurricanes struck first on the scoreboard.

A couple minutes later, Grzelcyk hooked Max Domi and cut a rut to the penalty box as a result. Carolina went on the power play at 8:30, but failed to convert on their first skater advantage of the night.

Shortly after killing Grzelcyk’s minor, Forbort was assessed a roughing infraction at 11:21– yielding another power play for the Canes as a result.

While on the penalty kill, Nosek failed to clear the puck and the B’s quickly became trapped in their own zone.

Vincent Trocheck worked the puck to Teuvo Teräväinen before Teräväinen setup DeAngelo (1) for a one-timer power-play goal to give Carolina a, 2-0, lead at 12:17 of the first period.

Entering the first intermission, the Hurricanes held that lead and held the advantage in shots, 12-8, as well.

The Canes also dominated in blocked shots (12-4), takeaways (6-2) and giveaways (5-3), while the Bruins led in hits (21-18) and faceoff win percentage (63-38).

Boston had yet to see time on the skater advantage, while Carolina was 1-for-2 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

Grzelcyk cut a rut back to the penalty box for catching Jesperi Kotkaniemi with a high stick at 2:53 of the second period, but the Hurricanes weren’t able to convert on the resulting skater advantage.

About ten minutes later, Kotkaniemi returned the favor with a high stick on Grzelcyk at 12:03.

Boston’s ensuing power play was cut short when McAvoy was penalized on a routine neutral zone battle for interference at 13:50.

After 14 seconds of 4-on-4 action, the Canes went on an abbreviated power play that the Bruins managed to kill off.

However, Carolina didn’t take long to catch the B’s in the vulnerable minute after special teams action.

No, the Canes didn’t waste much time at all as Seth Jarvis (2) benefited from sheer puck luck after Carlo failed to clear the puck out of his own zone– deflecting it off his own teammate in DeBrusk before watching the rubber biscuit float over Swayman’s shoulder and into the far side of the net.

Aho (3) and Teräväinen (3) notched the assists on Jarvis’ first goal of the game at 15:52 of the second period and the Hurricanes led, 3-0.

Entering the second intermission, Carolina maintained their three-goal advantage, 3-0, and led in shots on goal, 27-19, including a, 15-11, advantage in the second period alone.

The Hurricanes also led in blocked shots (19-12), takeaways (14-7) and giveaways (13-5), while the Bruins led in hits (32-28).

The two clubs split faceoff win%, 50-50, while the Canes went 1-for-4 on the power play and the B’s went 0-for-1 heading into the final frame.

Nino Niederreiter kicked off the third period 26 seconds into the final frame with a slashing infraction against Brad Marchand, but once more Boston’s advantage would be cut short.

This time, Hall slashed Martin Nečas and yielded 36 seconds of 4-on-4 action before an abbreviated power play for Carolina at 1:51 of the third period.

Shortly after Niederreiter was freed from the box, the Canes struck with another power-play goal– this time by Jarvis (3) for his second goal of the night– collecting the garbage on a redirected shot from point blank to make it, 4-0, Hurrianes.

Trocheck (4) and DeAngelo (7) collected the assists on Jarvis’ power-play goal at 3:31 of the third period as the Bruins fell to 23-for-27 on the penalty kill.

Midway through the third, Clifton (1) waltzed from end-to-end and drove to the net– scoring on Raanta’s five-hole with ease to get Boston on the scoreboard and cut Carolina’s lead to three-goals.

Haula (2) and Hall (1) tallied the assists on Clifton’s goal and the Bruins trained, 4-1, at 10:09 of the third period.

About a minute later, DeAngelo went to the box for holding at 11:36.

The B’s let the resulting power play go by the wayside and couldn’t muster a desperation effort.

With 4:52 remaining in the action, Cassidy pulled Swayman for an extra attacker.

By 16:20 of the third period, Trocheck (3) hit the back of the twine on an empty net goal in a third time’s the charm opportunity for the Hurricanes.

Nečas (2) and Teräväinen (4) had the assists as Carolina sealed the deal on a Game 5 victory with a, 5-1, lead.

At the final horn, the Hurricanes left their own ice leading in shots on goal, 38-34, despite Boston’s, 15-11, advantage in the third period alone.

Carolina finished Tuesday night’s action leading in giveaways (17-11), while the Bruins left PNC Arena leading in blocked shots (21-20), hits (45-34) and faceoff win% (54-46).

The Canes went 2-for-5 on the power play in Game 5, while the B’s went 0-for-3 on the skater advantage in the loss.

Carolina takes a 3-2 series lead as a result of the, 5-1, win heading into Game 6 Thursday night in Boston where the Hurricanes will have a chance to eliminate the Bruins and advance to the Second Round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs with another victory.

Puck drop at TD Garden is set for 7 p.m. ET and viewers outside of the local markets can catch the action on TNT in the United States, as well as SN360 and TVAS in Canada.

Categories
NHL Nick's Net

Marchand notches five points in, 5-2, victory in Game 4

For the 34th time since making his postseason debut in 2011, Brad Marchand had a multi-point Stanley Cup Playoff game as he amassed 2-3–5 totals in a, 5-2, win for the Boston Bruins over the Carolina Hurricanes Sunday afternoon in Game 4 at TD Garden.

Among active players, only Tampa Bay Lightning forward, Nikita Kucherov, has more multi-point postseason games in that span with 37.

Jeremy Swayman (2-0, 2.00 goals-against average, .925 save percentage in two games played) made 24 saves on 26 shots against in the win for Boston.

Carolina netminder, Antti Raanta (1-1, 2.40 goals-against average, .928 save percentage in three games played), stopped 23 out of 27 shots faced in the loss.

As a result of Sunday’s win in Game 4, the Bruins tied the series 2-2 heading back to PNC Arena Tuesday night for Game 5.

With a five-point effort– including a pair of goals– for Marchand and three points (one goal, two assists) for Patrice Bergeron on Sunday, the Boston duo continued to climb the ranks of Bruins franchise postseason records.

Bergeron is second in club goals in Stanley Cup Playoff history with 49, while Marchand usurped Phil Esposito for sole possession of the third-most with 48.

Bergeron now has 77 postseason assists– good enough for the third-most in team history– while Marchand jumped Bobby Orr for the fourth-most with 68 to Orr’s 66.

Bergeron (126) also surpassed David Krejci (124) for the second-most postseason points in Boston’s franchise history trailing only Ray Bourque (161) for the most overall.

The B’s were without Jakub Zboril (right ACL), Jesper Frödén (lower body), Hampus Lindholm (upper body) and Charlie McAvoy (COVID-19 protocol) in the, 5-2, win against the Canes– prompting head coach, Bruce Cassidy, to make a few changes among his defensive pairings due to McAvoy’s late removal from the lineup.

Matt Grzelcyk and Brandon Carlo were promoted to the first pairing with Derek Forbort and Connor Clifton filling out the rest of the top-four defenders.

Mike Reilly suited up alongside Josh Brown on the third defensive pairing as a result with Trent Frederic, Anton Blidh and Kyle Keyser comprising the short list of healthy scratches for Boston in Game 4.

Reilly caught Max Domi with a high stick and presented the afternoon’s first power play to the Hurricanes as a result at 2:24 of the first period.

The Bruins made the kill on the ensuing special teams play, however.

Midway through the opening frame, Curtis Lazar was penalized for interference at 11:44, but once more Carolina failed to convert on the resulting skater advantage.

The Canes caught Boston in the vulnerable minute after special teams action, though, as Jordan Staal sent a pass to Brett Pesce (1) in the slot as the Carolina defender pinched in from the point and buried the rubber biscuit on Swayman’s five-hole.

Staal (2) and Domi (1) had the assists on Pesce’s goal and the Hurricanes jumped out to a, 1-0, lead at 14:06.

Carolina’s scored first in every game so far this series, but Boston answered back in a hurry about a couple minutes later when Bergeron (3) snuck a shot through Raanta’s five-hole from the doorstep to tie the game, 1-1, at 16:09.

David Pastrnak (2) and Marchand (4) tallied the assists on the goal as the Bruins evened things up 2:03 after Pesce’s goal.

About a minute later, Staal cut a rut to the sin bin for hooking and presented Boston with another power play at 17:25.

The B’s time on the skater advantage was cut short, however, when Taylor Hall tripped Vincent Trocheck at 17:48 of the first period resulting in 1:38 of 4-on-4 action before an abbreviated power play for Carolina in the remainder.

Entering the first intermission, though, the Bruins and Hurricanes were tied, 1-1, on the scoreboard with the Canes leading in shots on goal, 10-6, after 20 minutes.

Carolina also led in blocked shots (4-2), giveaways (4-2), hits (13-12) and faceoff win percentage (62-38), while both teams managed two takeaways aside.

The Hurricanes were 0-for-3 and the Bruins were 0-for-1 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

The Canes wrapped the puck around the attacking zone quickly in the middle frame before Nino Niederreiter found Staal (1) for a one-timer goal from the slot to give Carolina a, 2-1, lead 33 seconds into the second period.

Niederreiter (1) and Tony DeAngelo (5) had the assists on the goal.

Less than a minute later, Andrei Svechnikov was given an interference infraction at 59 seconds of the second period and the Bruins went on the power play.

Boston’s 5-on-4 quickly became a 5-on-3 skater advantage when Trocheck sent an errant puck over the glass and out of play at 1:37 of the second period, yielding an abbreviated two-skater advantage to Boston for a span of 1:23.

The Bruins, however, did not convert on the power play opportunity.

Teuvo Teräväinen hooked Pastrnak at 13:40, but Carolina’s penalty kill managed to get their job done without issue.

Late in the period, however, Niederreiter tripped Craig Smith at 17:35 and presented the B’s with another skater advantage.

This time, Raanta made a save on a shot by Marchand before the puck dropped to the ice and sat in the crease at the Hurricanes netminder’s feet prior to Jake DeBrusk (1) burying it on the far side with one quick swoop.

Carolina’s head coach, Rod Brind’Amour, challenged the call on the ice on the basis that he believed DeBrusk made enough contact with his stick on Raanta prior to the goal to overturn the call, however the official review deemed DeBrusk’s play to be concurrent with the rulebook in terms of how a player is allowed to go after a loose puck in the crease.

The call on the ice stood. Good goal.

Boston tied it, 2-2, while Marchand (5) and Bergeron (2) tallied the assists on DeBrusk’s power-play goal at 18:44 of the second period.

As a result of the unsuccessful challenge, the Hurricanes were assessed a bench minor and Niederreiter went back to the sin bin to serve the infraction at 18:44.

The Bruins wound up with another 5-on-3 advantage after Sebastian Aho caught Bergeron with a high stick near the Boston captain’s eye and drew blood.

Aho was charged with a four-minute double minor for high sticking at 19:35 of the second period and the B’s went on the 5-on-3 advantage for the next 68 seconds– spilling over into the final frame as a result.

Through 40 minutes of action, Boston and Carolina were tied, 2-2, on the scoreboard despite the Bruins leading in shots on goal, 19-16, including a, 13-6, advantage in shots on net in the second period alone.

The Canes held the advantage in blocked shots (8-6), giveaways (5-4) and faceoff win% (57-43), while the B’s led in takeaways (4-3).

Both teams had 24 hits aside heading into the second intermission.

Entering the final frame, the Hurricanes were 0-for-3 and the Bruins were 1-for-7 on the power play.

Cassidy sent out five forwards to start the third period as the Bruins had time remaining on the power play with Aho in the box for Carolina.

It didn’t take Boston long to pull ahead of the Hurricanes.

Charlie Coyle found Marchand in the high slot by the top of the right circle where Marchand (2) riffled a shot over Raanta’s glove side to give the Bruins their first lead of the afternoon, 3-2, 44 seconds into the third period.

Coyle (2) and DeBrusk (2) notched the assists on Marchand’s power-play goal.

A couple minutes later, Grzelcyk caught Brady Skjei with a high stick and yielded 52 seconds of 4-on-4 action at 2:46 of the third period as a result before an abbreviated power play for Carolina would commence.

The Bruins managed to kill off Grzelcyk’s minor without issue.

Early in the final frame, Bergeron won an attacking zone faceoff over to Marchand before Marchand setup Pastrnak (2) for the catch and release goal from point blank on the low glove side while Raanta dove across the crease.

Marchand (6) and Bergeron (3) tallied the assists on Pastrnak’s goal as the Bruins extended their lead to two-goals, 4-2, at 5:41 of the third period.

DeAngelo cross checked Lazar in the face at the midpoint of the final frame and presented Boston with another power play at 10:00, but the Bruins failed to convert on the advantage while the Carolina defender was in the box.

With 3:48 remaining in the action, Brind’Amour used his timeout and pulled Raanta for an extra attacker.

Shortly thereafter, Marchand (3) buried the puck in the empty net to secure a, 5-2, win for Boston at 19:25 of the third period.

Coyle (3) and Carlo (1) had the assists on the goal as the B’s extended their lead to three-goals.

In the dying seconds of the action, Nick Foligno flipped the puck over the glass for an automatic delay of game minor at 19:57.

The Hurricanes did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage as the final horn sounded on a resounding victory for the Bruins in Game 4– tying the series 2-2 in the process.

Boston left their own ice leading in shots on goal, 28-26, despite trailing Carolina, 10-9, in shots on net in the third period alone.

The B’s also led in hits (37-29), while the Canes left TD Garden leading in blocked shots (15-6) and faceoff win% (54-46).

Both teams had six giveaways aside and the Hurricanes were 0-for-5, while the Bruins were 2-for-9 on the power play on Sunday.

Boston improved to 2-1 when tied after the first period and 1-0 when tied after the second period this postseason, while Carolina fell to 1-2 when tied after one and 0-1 when tied after two in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Bruins tied the series 2-2 as a result of their win in Game 4, which means a 3-2 series lead is up for grabs for either team Tuesday night at PNC Arena in Raleigh in Game 5.

Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. ET and viewers outside of the local markets can catch the action on ESPN in the United States, as well as SN360 and TVAS in Canada.

Categories
NHL Nick's Net

Hurricanes take 2-0 series lead, lose Raanta in Game 2

Sebastian Aho tied a franchise record with his fourth multi-goal game in a, 5-2, victory for the Carolina Hurricanes as they beat the Boston Bruins in Game 2 of their 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round matchup Wednesday night at PNC Arena.

Meanwhile, each team lost a key player to an injury and there were 14 combined power plays in a game that had a little bit of everything good, bad and ugly.

Antti Raanta (1-0, 0.88 goals-against average, .978 save percentage in two games played) made six saves on six shots against before he was taken out of the game due to injury, while Pyotr Kochetkov (1-0, 2.31 goals-against average, .938 save percentage in one game played) turned aside 30 out of 32 shots faced in the win for the Hurricanes.

Bruins goaltender, Linus Ullmark (1-1, 4.17 goals-against average, .860 save percentage in two games played), made 29 saves on 32 shots against in the loss.

The Bruins were without the services of Jakub Zboril (right ACL) and Jesper Frödén (lower body) on Wednesday, while head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made one change to his lineup– promoting Matt Grzelcyk to the first defensive pairing with Charlie McAvoy and relegating Hampus Lindholm to the second pairing with Brandon Carlo.

Boston’s list of healthy scratches went untouched from Game 1 to Game 2 with Mike Reilly, Chris Wagner, Josh Brown, Anton Blidh and Kyle Keyser watching from the press box at PNC Arena.

Nino Niederreiter tripped Carlo and presented the Bruins with their first power play of the night at 3:17 of the first period, but the B’s weren’t able to convert on the skater advantage.

Moments later, Tony DeAngelo checked Erik Haula without the puck and cut a rut to the sin bin for interference as a result at 7:28, but Boston’s ensuing power play was cut short about 19 seconds later.

David Pastrnak caught Raanta with a forearm to the head while trying to avoid a major collision with the goaltender as Raanta worked to clear the puck outside the crease and Pastrnak tried to come to a stop without bowling over the netminder– completely flattening him in the process.

That said, the on-ice officials ruled it a five-minute major for goaltender interference before reducing Pastrnak’s infraction to a minor penalty upon video review.

Raanta was bleeding from a cut on his face and took some time to be helped off the ice by a trainer, but was Pastrnak’s force enough to cause the inside of Raanta’s mask to cut the goaltender or Vincent Trocheck’s accidental bump in the side of his teammate’s head as he skated by while Raanta was down on the ice pulling his mask off do more damage on top of the incidental contact with Pastrnak?

This is the type of thing that’s going on inside the minds of the on-ice officials alongside their interpretation of the rulebook.

Carolina replaced Raanta with Kochetkov and the Bruins managed to kill Pastrnak’s minor for goaltender interference at 7:47 of the first period.

A little past the midpoint of the opening frame, however, Jordan Staal broke free from Derek Forbort and sent a pass across the ice through the slot to Jesper Fast (1) for a one-timer goal– giving the Hurricanes a, 1-0, lead as a result at 13:03 of the first period.

Staal (1) and Jaccob Slavin (2) tallied the assists on Fast’s goal.

A couple minutes later, Aho (1) tipped a shot from the point by DeAngelo past Ullmark on the stick side to extend the Canes’ lead to two-goals.

DeAngelo (2) and Slavin (3) notched the assists and the Hurricanes led, 2-0, at 15:30.

Patrice Bergeron cut a rut to the sin bin for slashing at 18:54 and the Bruins managed to make the kill on the infraction.

Late in the period, however, Charlie Coyle and Niederreiter went to the box with coincidental minors at 19:53, followed by a scrum as the first intermission began– yielding roughing minors for Haula, Carlo and Seth Jarvis at 20:00.

Boston would be shorthanded to begin the middle frame.

Carolina, meanwhile, led, 2-0, on the scoreboard and, 11-10, in shots on goal after 20 minutes of action.

The Hurricanes also led in blocked shots (6-3), takeaways (5-0), giveaways (7-3) and faceoff win percentage (59-41), while the Bruins led in hits (18-16) entering the first intermission.

Both teams were 0-for-2 on the power play heading into the middle period.

Carolina confirmed that Raanta (upper body) would not return to the night’s action with a tweet prior to the start of the middle frame.

While on the power play, Aho (2) blasted a one-timer past Ullmark low on the glove side to give the Hurricanes a, 3-0, lead at 1:10 of the second period.

DeAngelo (3) and Teuvo Teräväinen (1) had the assists on Aho’s power-play goal– giving the Finnish forward his fourth career multi-goal postseason game– tying Kevin Dineed for the most in Hartford Whalers/Hurricanes franchise history in the process.

Trent Frederic checked Teräväinen shortly thereafter in frustration and picked up an interference minor at 3:39, though the Canes failed to convert on the ensuing skater advantage this time around.

Andrei Svechnikov was penalized for holding at 14:36 and it didn’t take Boston long to get on the scoreboard with a power-play goal from Bergeron (1) after he sent the puck back to the point whereby a shot attempt went wide, caromed off the glass back to Brad Marchand in the slot before Bergeron got a piece of it from close range.

Marchand (1) had the only assist on Bergeron’s 16th career postseason power-play goal– tying him for the third-most in Bruins franchise history with Johnny Bucyk in the process– and Boston trailed, 3-1, at 14:36 of the second period as a result.

A few minutes later, Svechnikov made a big hit behind the goal line on Lindholm– knocking the Bruins defender to the ice and leaving him in a daze as he was assisted by a trainer and teammate, Jake DeBrusk, to the tunnel.

Carlo went after Svechnikov in defense of his injured blue line partner and picked up a pair of roughing minors, while Svechnikov only received two minutes for roughing at 17:11 of the second period, rendering Carolina on the power play as a result.

Less than a minute later, Marchand and Kochetkov exchanged pleasantries and yielded slashing penalties at 17:52, followed by a holding infraction on Forbort at 18:07.

Carolina’s ensuing 5-on-3 advantage didn’t last long as Niederreiter (2) had just enough mustard on a shot that it trickled through the crease and over the goal line to give the Hurricanes another three-goal lead, 4-1, at 18:52.

Trocheck (2) and DeAngelo (4) tallied the assists on Niederreiter’s power-play goal and the Canes took their, 4-1, lead into the second intermission after 40 minutes of play.

Carolina led in shots on goal, 25-21, including a, 14-11, advantage in the second period alone, while dominating in blocked shots (9-7), takeaways (7-5), giveaways (10-5) and faceoff win% (54-46).

Boston, on the other hand, led in hits, 31-30, after two periods on Wednesday.

The Hurricanes were 2-for-6 on the power play, while the Bruins were 0-for-3 on the skater advantage heading into the final frame.

Early in the final frame, Svechnikov and McAvoy collided in the open ice and rendered the Bruins defender to his knees amid a brief stoppage.

He did not miss any shifts, however, as DeBrusk received a roughing minor for expressing his displeasure with Svechnikov and the B’s tweeted that Lindholm (upper body) would not return to the night’s action at 1:52 of the third period.

Carolina had another brief 5-on-3 advantage after Forbort caught Teräväinen with a high stick and drew blood at 3:04.

Forbort skated to the box with a double-minor penalty and Boston somehow made the kill.

Moments later, the Hurricanes had too many skaters on the ice and were assessed a bench minor at 8:27, but the B’s couldn’t capitalize on the ensuing power play.

Midway through the third period, however, Bergeron (2) notched his second goal of the game on an inadvertent deflection off of his right skate behind Kochetkov on a shot by McAvoy from the top of the left circle.

McAvoy (2) had the only assist on the goal and the Bruins trailed, 4-2, at 12:21 of the third period, while Bergeron (47) surpassed Phil Esposito (46) for the second-most postseason goals in franchise history– trailing only Cam Neely (55) for first overall in a Boston uniform.

With about 4:30 remaining in regulation, Cassidy pulled a page out of the book of head coaching as taught by Patrick Roy and yanked Ullmark out of the crease for an extra attacker.

Brett Pesce caught Marchand with a high stick at 15:49 and the B’s went on a power play as a result, but the Hurricanes’ penalty kill came and went unscathed and unchallenged.

After a stoppage with 1:15 remaining, Cassidy used his timeout to rally his skaters, but it was to no avail.

Carolina picked up a rebound that made its way all the way into their attacking zone and Niederreiter (3) put the icing on the cake with his second goal of the game– this time on an empty net to make it, 5-2, for the Hurricanes at 19:19.

Svechnikov (1) had the only assist on the goal.

At the final horn, another scrum ensued and only Forbort was dealt a roughing minor at 20:00 of the third period, but it didn’t matter in the end result as Carolina pulled off a, 5-2, victory and a 2-0 series lead.

Boston finished the night leading in shots on goal, 38-34, and had a, 17-9, advantage in shots on net in the third period alone.

The Bruins led in blocked shots (13-10) and hits (45-33), while the Hurricanes left their own ice leading in giveaways (12-7) and faceoff win% (55-45).

Carolina went 2-for-9 on the skater advantage, while the B’s went 1-for-5 on the power play Wednesday night in Game 2.

For the first time since the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, the Bruins trail 2-0 in a series heading back to home ice for Game 3.

Teams that lead a best-of-seven series 2-0 go on to win the series about 87% of the time per Hockey-Reference.

The Hurricanes take a 2-0 series lead heading into Game 3 Friday night at TD Garden in Boston. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. ET and viewers outside of the local markets can catch the action on TNT in the United States, as well as SN360 and TVAS2 in Canada.

Categories
NHL Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Hurricanes take 1-0 series lead with, 5-1, victory against Boston

Two goals late in the second period set the momentum in motion for the Carolina Hurricanes Monday night as they opened up their 2022 First Round series against the Boston Bruins with a, 5-1, win in Game 1 at PNC Arena.

Antti Raanta (1-0, 1.00 goals-against average, .972 save percentage in one game played) made 35 saves on 36 shots against in the win for Carolina in his first career start in a Stanley Cup Playoff game.

Boston goaltender, Linus Ullmark (0-1, 4.07 goals-against average, .833 save percentage in one game played), stopped 20 out of 24 shots faced in the loss in his postseason debut.

The Bruins are meeting the Hurricanes for the seventh time in Stanley Cup Playoffs history with Boston holding an all-time series advantage, 5-1.

The two clubs are facing each other for the third time in four years with the B’s having most recently defeated the Canes in the 2020 First Round in five games while the league held its Eastern Conference playoff bubble in Toronto due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that summer.

Carolina won all three games against Boston in the 2021-22 regular season with 16 goals for and one goal against over the course of the year.

The Bruins were without Jakub Zboril (right ACL) and Jesper Frödén (lower body) on Monday as the two players missed a combined 69 games in the regular season due to injuries.

Jack Studnicka, Marc McLaughlin, Jack Ahcan and Oskar Steen were all reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) prior to Game 1 against Carolina as Providence is set to take on the Bridgeport Islanders in their 2022 Calder Cup Playoffs First Round series.

Kyle Keyser was recalled from Providence to serve as Boston’s third goaltender at practice this postseason.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, reunited his lines from the penultimate game in the regular season for Game 1 against Carolina, rendering Mike Reilly, Chris Wagner, Josh Brown, Anton Blidh and Keyser as healthy scratches for the B’s.

Brady Skjei sent an errant puck over the glass and out of play for an automatic delay of game infraction at 3:00 of the first period, but Boston’s power play failed to convert on the skater advantage.

Midway through the opening frame, Jordan Staal’s stick work pushed the puck over the line while pushing Ullmark’s pad through the crease in the process and was deemed incidental goaltender interference.

As a result, the Hurricanes were not penalized and the call on the ice (no goal) stood.

Moments later, Erik Haula cut a rut to the box for holding and presented the Canes with their first power play of the night at 13:53, but Boston’s penalty kill stood tall and made the kill.

Patrice Bergeron presented Carolina with their second skater advantage of the night for tripping Staal at 16:42, but the Hurricanes failed to capitalize on the resulting skater advantage.

Entering the first intermission, the score remained tied, 0-0, despite the Bruins leading in shots on goal, 14-10.

The B’s also held the advantage in blocked shots (6-5), while the Canes led in takeaways (7-4), giveaways (6-5), hits (22-12) and faceoff win percentage (57-43)– reflecting the momentum of the opening frame where Boston got out to a hot start for about 10 minutes before Carolina rocketed to the intermission.

The Hurricanes were 0-for-2 and the Bruins were 0-for-1 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

Almost midway through the second period, Ian Cole tripped Trent Frederic at 8:15, but Boston couldn’t muster a shot past Raanta on the ensuing power play.

In another surge in momentum late in the period, Jaccob Slavin riffled a shot from the point that Seth Jarvis (1) tipped through Ullmark’s five-hole to give Carolina the first goal of the game at 16:28 of the second period.

Slavin (1) and Cole (1) tallied the assists on Jarvis’ first career Stanley Cup Playoff goal and the Hurricanes led, 1-0.

Carolina scored a pair of goals in a span of 2:10 when Nino Niederreiter (1) sent a shot past Ullmark on the glove side from just outside the faceoff circles in the attacking zone.

Tony DeAngelo (1) and Martin Nečas (1) notched the assists as the Hurricanes grabbed a, 2-0, lead at 18:38.

Heading into the second intermission, the Canes led, 2-0, on the scoreboard despite trailing the Bruins, 25-19, in shots on goal.

Boston held an advantage in shots in the middle frame alone, 11-9, while Carolina led in blocked shots (13-10), takeaways (11-6), giveaways (14-9), hits (34-30) and faceoff win% (61-39).

Both teams were 0-for-2 on the power play through 40 minutes of play Monday night at PNC Arena.

Taylor Hall (1) fluttered a catch and release shot past Raanta to cut Carolina’s lead in half at 2:53 of the third period and the Bruins trailed, 2-1, early in the final frame as a result.

Haula (1) and Charlie McAvoy (1) had the assists on Hall’s goal.

Moments later– after Hall rang the post at the other end of the rink– Teuvo Teräväinen (1) scored on a 2-on-1 while Matt Grzelcyk got caught out of position while trying to pinch, leaving Brandon Carlo to defend on his own.

Vincent Trocheck (1) had the only assist on Teräväinen’s goal to give the Hurricanes a, 3-1, lead at 7:02 of the third period.

Midway through the final frame, Brendan Smith interfered with Craig Smith at 10:00, but the B’s failed to convert on the resulting skater advantage.

Late in the period, Trocheck (1) waltzed right into the attacking zone and cut to the net before flipping the puck over Ullmark as the Bruins goaltender tried to make a save with his mask.

Max Domi (1) and Brett Pesce (1) had the assists on Trocheck’s goal and the Hurricanes took a, 4-1, lead at 16:58 of the third period.

Cassidy pulled his goaltender with about 2:54 remaining in the action to rally his skaters with an extra attacker, but Sebastian Aho quickly received a pass from Aho and selflessly setup Andrei Svechnikov (1) for the empty net goal to give Carolina a, 5-1, lead at 17:59.

Aho (1) and Jarvis (1) tallied the assists on Svechnikov’s goal.

A couple minutes later, Frederic exchanged pleasantries with Smith after a brief stoppage and received a roughing minor as well as a ten-minute misconduct at 19:53 of the third period.

At the final horn, the Hurricanes won, 5-1, and took a 1-0 series lead in their 2022 First Round matchup with Boston.

The Bruins exited the ice leading in shots on goal, 36-25, including an, 11-6, advantage in the third period alone.

Boston finished the night leading in blocked shots, 17-16, while Carolina left their own building leading in giveaways (20-10), hits (48-42) and faceoff win% (57-43).

Both teams went 0-for-3 on the power play on Monday.

The Hurricanes take a 1-0 series lead heading into Game 2 at PNC Arena Wednesday night.

Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. ET and viewers outside of the local markets can catch the action on ESPN in the United States, as well as SN360 and TVAS2 in Canada.

Categories
NHL Nick's Net Previews

Carolina Hurricanes 2021-22 Season Preview

2020-21 record 36-12-8, 80 points

1st in the Discover NHL Central Division

Eliminated in the Second Round by Tampa

Additions: F Jesperi Kotkaniemi (signed to an offersheet, not matched by MTL), F Josh Leivo, F Maxim Letunov, F Sam Miletic, F Stefan Noesen, F Andrew Poturalski, F C.J. Smith, F Derek Stepan, D Ethan Bear (acquired from EDM), D Ian Cole, D Jalen Chatfield, D Tony DeAngelo, D Eric Gelinas, D Josh Jacobs, D Brendan Smith, G Frederik Andersen, G Alex Lyon, G Antti Raanta

Subtractions: F Warren Foegele (traded to EDM), F Morgan Geekie (expansion, SEA), F Dave Gust (signed with Chicago Wolves, AHL), F Egor Korshkov (KHL), F Saku Maenalanen (Liiga), F Brock McGinn (signed with PIT), F Cedric Paquette (signed with MTL), F Sheldon Rempal (signed with VAN), D Jake Bean (traded to CBJ), D Jani Hakanpää (signed with DAL), D Dougie Hamilton (signed with NJD), D Rolan McKeown (signed with COL), D Joakim Ryan (SHL), D David Warsofsky (DEL), G Jonathan Bernier (rights acquired from DET, signed with NJD), G Petr Mrázek (signed with TOR), G Alex Nedeljkovic (traded to DET), G James Reimer (signed with SJS)

Still Unsigned: F Max McCormick, F Drew Shore, G Jeremy Helvig, G Dylan Wells (acquired from EDM, CAR reserve list, AHL- Chicago Wolves)

Re-signed: F Jordan Martinook, F Spencer Smallman, F Andrei Svechnikov, D Maxime Lajoie

Offseason Analysis: Whoa boy, what didn’t the Canes do this offseason?

Carolina was all over the place– both in transactions and scrambling to assemble some semblance of a message in press conferences afterward while trying to convince everyone (perhaps more so themselves, at times) that they’re still a competitive team heading in the right direction and that they totally didn’t overreact.

Unlike how the New York Rangers reacted to one player on another team apparently dismantling their franchise, the Hurricanes reacted to– egad! The salary cap! The horror, the horror!

Canes General Manager, Don Waddell, didn’t like the optics of a team that’s been improving in each of the last three seasons despite First Round exits in back-to-back years after making the 2019 Eastern Conference Final.

Though owner, Tom Dundon, denies having any say in the approach to the offseason short of just signing the cheques, Carolina didn’t want to spend more than they absolutely had to on fielding a roster that can probably make the playoffs, generate some additional revenue and peter out before anyone catches Stanley Cup fever.

At the very least, the team is spending more than when Peter Karmanos, Jr. spent from season-to-season on a team that made the postseason in 2009, then again in 2019, with nothing happening in-between, for example.

The team didn’t have to lose both Dougie Hamilton and Alex Nedeljkovic while re-signing Andrei Svechnikov this offseason, but they did.

Hamilton received a low-ball offer and got what he felt he deserved on a seven-year deal with the New Jersey Devils worth $9.000 million per season. Compared to the rest of the defenders on the market and other extensions that begin in 2022-23 for Seth Jones with Chicago and Zach Werenski in Columbus, Hamilton’s deal with the Devils is a steal.

He could’ve made $10.000 or $11.000 million per season and you might say “what’s the difference of a couple million dollars” and well, everything in the sense that he’s saved New Jersey a couple million to spend on glue guys on the roster, like Tomas Tatar.

Carolina could’ve done that, but with a few more additional steps required to make space.

Fine, move on from Hamilton, then re-sign Nedeljkovic– oh.

The Hurricanes were not willing to spend $3.500 million per season on a two-year deal for the goaltender they drafted and brought up the ranks as their “goaltender of the future”.

Instead, Waddell traded him to the Detroit Red Wings for the rights to unrestricted free agent, Jonathan Bernier, who also joined Hamilton in New Jersey.

Petr Mrázek and James Reimer were both turned loose as the former went to the Toronto Maple Leafs and the latter joined the San Jose Sharks.

Waddell then signed Frederik Andersen– who’s had about as much playoff success as Nedeljkovic, regardless of the number of games played– to a two-year deal worth $4.500 million per season and Antti Raanta to a two-year contract worth $2.000 million per season.

Make it make sense.

Add to that, Carolina lost depth in the departure of Brock McGinn to the Pittsburgh Penguins via free agency and traded Jake Bean to the Columbus Blue Jackets at the draft.

In their place, enter a mixture of bottom-six talent in Derek Stepan, Josh Leivo and others, as well as bottom-six defenders in Tony DeAngelo and Brendan Smith.

At the very least, Carolina’s not spending much to “replace” what they’ve lost in an asset for asset sense.

They spent their money on goaltenders, an eight-year extension worth $7.750 million per season for Svechnikov and signed Jesperi Kotkaniemi to an offer sheet from the Montréal Canadiens for one-year at $6.100 million.

That makes up for signing DeAngelo to a one-year, $1.000 million contract, right?

Not even close.

Last year’s roster carried the threat of Hamilton, Jaccob Slavin, Brett Pesce, Brady Skjei, Bean and Haydn Fleury until he was traded for Jani Hakanpää at the 2021 deadline.

Only three defenders are returning to Carolina’s core on the blue line as Ian Cole, DeAngelo and Smith were brought in via free agency and Warren Foegele was dealt for Ethan Bear.

Oh and the same three defenders returning from last season are the only defenders under contract through next season.

There’s just no logic for whatever reaction– overreaction or, perhaps, under-reaction is going on here.

It begs the question that Canes fans have heard for far too long, “what, exactly, is the plan?”

Offseason Grade: D

The Hurricanes had a challenging, yet simple premise heading into the offseason– add without subtracting and limit the inevitable damage in the loss of a key player.

Instead, they chose violence (that’s a phrase kids say on Twitter these days, I’m told).

Keeping Svechnikov, Hamilton and Nedeljkovic satisfied was going to be a challenge and it was going to be the most strenuous negotiations that Waddell would have to go through in recent summers as Carolina continues building towards Stanley Cup contenders.

It’s likely that the Canes could’ve kept Svechnikov, Nedeljkovic and still added to the roster this offseason– whether they’d land Andersen, Raanta or someone else as a solid counterpart in the crease.

In any case, Hamilton was likely going to walk due to the constraints of the salary cap era and possible looming extensions for Martin Necas, Nino Niederreiter, Vincent Trocheck, Jordan Staal, Teuvo Teräväinen and Sebastian Aho in one-to-three summers from now.

After the marketing and promotions team led the way in showing the rest of the league how Pride Night could feel more like a celebration for the local fan base and not just a corporate shill– an organization that took the pledge to Get Uncomfortable by teaming up with Black Girl Hockey Club– the values of a kinder society were tossed aside in the interest of signing noted actual jerks.

This team did not get better. No matter the rehabilitation that may or may not occur with Rod Brind’Amour as head coach.

One step forward, two steps back.

Categories
NHL Nick's Net Previews

Arizona Coyotes 2021-22 Season Preview

2020-21 record 24-26-6, 54 points

5th in the Honda NHL West Division

Missed the postseason for the first time since 2020

Additions: F Jay Beagle (acquired from VAN), F Travis Boyd, F Ryan Dzingel, F Loui Eriksson (acquired from VAN), F Dmitrij Jaskin, F Bokondji Imama (acquired from LAK), F Andrew Ladd (acquired from NYI), F Liam O’Brien, F Antoine Roussel (acquired from VAN), D Shayne Gostisbehere (acquired from PHI), D Cole Hults (acquired from LAK), D Vladislav Kolyachonok (acquired from FLA), D Anton Strålman (acquired from FLA), D Conor Timmins (acquired from COL), G Carter Hutton, G Josef Korenar (acquired from SJS)

Subtractions: F Michael Bunting (signed with TOR), F Brayden Burke (traded to LAK), F Derick Brassard (signed with PHI), F Michael Chaput (signed with PIT), F Christian Dvorak (traded to MTL), F Conor Garland (traded to VAN), F John Hayden (signed with BUF), F Dryden Hunt (signed with NYR), F Tyler Pitlick (expansion, SEA), F Lane Pederson (rights traded to and signed with SJS), F Emil Pettersson (KHL), F Tyler Steenburgen (traded to LAK), F Nathan Sucese (signed with Iowa Wild, AHL), D Oliver Ekman-Larsson (traded to VAN), D Alex Goligoski (signed with MIN), D Jordan Gross (signed with COL), D Niklas Hjalmarsson (retired), D Jordan Oesterle (signed with DET), G Adin Hill (traded to SJS), G Darcy Kuemper (traded to COL), G Antti Raanta (signed with CAR)

Still Unsigned: F Frédérik Gauthier, F Marian Hossa (retired, contract expired), D Jason Demers, D Aaron Ness

Re-signed: F Hudson Fasching, F Blake Speers, D Cam Dineen, D Dysin Mayo

Offseason Analysis: Arizona took on a bunch of contracts this offseason, but still has about $11.946 million in cap space as Coyotes General Manager, Bill Armstrong, put on a masterclass of how to effectively clean house to rebuild.

The Coyotes are paying a combined $1.500 million this season for the services of Carter Hutton and Josef Korenar in the crease after signing Hutton in free agency and acquiring Korenar and a 2022 2nd round pick via a trade with the San Jose Sharks that sent Adin Hill in return.

Antti Raanta, meanwhile, left for the Carolina Hurricanes, seeking a career resurgence after a rocky, injury filled, tenure in Arizona, while Darcy Kuemper was traded the same day free agency began on July 28th to the Colorado Avalanche for defender, Conor Timmins, a 2022 1st round pick and a conditional 2024 3rd round pick.

Whereas the Buffalo Sabres viewed goaltending as an afterthought this offseason, the Coyotes, uhh, planned this?

Hutton had a 1-10-1 record in 13 games for the Sabres last season and recorded a 3.47 goals-against average and an .886 save percentage in that span, while Korenar made his NHL debut for the Sharks and went 3-5-0 in 10 games with a 3.17 goals-against average and an .899 save percentage.

But goaltending wasn’t the biggest focus for Arizona this offseason as they completely stripped down their roster and planned for a major reset between now and next summer.

Only 19 players throughout the organization are signed through the 2022-23 season, including six players currently on the NHL roster.

After trading Hill and a 2022 7th round pick to the Sharks for Korenar and a 2022 2nd round pick on July 17th, Armstrong made sure to add salary to work his way to the cap floor that same day by acquiring Andrew Ladd from the New York Islanders in addition to a 2021 2nd round pick that originally belonged to Colorado (60th overall, Janis Jerome Moser), as well as a conditional 2023 3rd round pick for future considerations.

Ladd’s been buried in the American Hockey League (AHL) in recent years with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (now Bridgeport Islanders) and last played at the NHL level in four games with New York in 2019-20– scoring one goal that season.

As crazy as it sounds, Arizona might use Ladd on their roster. At 35-years-old, he’s in his final run, but with two years remaining on his contract at a $5.500 million cap hit, he’s one of the few players left on the team entering 2022-23– unless he’s moved before then or retires.

Philadelphia saw what the Islanders did and said “hey, we can do that too” and traded defender, Shayne Gostisbehere, to the Coyotes with a 2022 2nd round pick and a 2022 7th round pick in exchange for future considerations.

Arizona takes on Gostisbehere’s remaining two years of his current contract at $4.500 million per season and looks to resurrect his offensive game from the blue line since his career-high 65 points in 78 games with the Flyers in 2017-18.

Last season, Gostisbehere bounced back from 12 points in 42 games in 2019-20 with a respectable 20 points in 41 games, but it’s not enough to justify his price tag amid a plethora of defenders looking to crack Philadelphia’s lineup on a regular basis, so the Coyotes are glad to give Gostisbehere a warm welcome.

A day after acquiring Gostisbehere, Arizona made waves when they traded their captain, Oliver Ekman-Larsson with the rights to then restricted-free agent forward, Conor Garland, to the Vancouver Canucks for Loui Eriksson, Jay Beagle, Antoine Roussel, a 2021 1st round pick (9th overall, Dylan Guenther), a 2022 2nd round pick and a 2023 7th round pick in return on July 23rd.

Ekman-Larsson’s production has been in decline since recording 21-34–55 totals in 75 games with the Coyotes in 2015-16. He followed that season up with 39 points in 79 games in 2016-17, and 42 points in 82 games in 2017-18, before signing an eight-year extension with an $8.250 million cap hit on July 1, 2018, that would go into effect for the 2019-20 season.

In 2018-19, Ekman-Larsson had 14-30–44 totals. In 2019-20, he had 30 points (nine goals, 21 assists) in 66 games and just last season, Ekman-Larsson had 24 points (three goals, 21 assists) in 46 games for Arizona.

So the Coyotes packaged him with Garland to a team that Ekman-Larsson had expressed a desire in being traded to entering last offseason (Ekman-Larsson would only accept a trade to the Boston Bruins or Vancouver, but Arizona held out and kept him for the 2020-21 season).

Garland signed an extension with the Canucks, while Arizona also retained 12% of Ekman-Larsson’s salary (about $990,000 per season through 2026-27) in the aftermath of the deal.

Meanwhile, Eriksson, Beagle and Roussel are looking for a fresh start in a new market– though they each have one-year remaining on their contracts, so they probably shouldn’t get too comfortable.

Eriksson managed to earn one assist in seven games last season for Vancouver, while Beagle was limited to 30 games due to injury and had 1-4–5 totals and Roussel chipped in four points (one goal, three assists) in 35 games.

So they’re not offensive powerhouses, but the Coyotes aren’t going for a Cup ring this season– they’re going for a complete reset as they continued to wheel and deal this offseason.

Arizona swapped minor leagues with the Los Angeles Kings in a trade on July 24th, then took July 25th off before acquiring defender, Anton Stålman, from the Florida Panthers for a 2023 7th round pick on July 26th.

Strålman fell out of favor in Florida after scoring 19 points from the blue line in 69 games in 2019-20 before dropping to nine points in 38 games last season with the Panthers.

Needing cap space, the Panthers moved on from Strålman, dropping him and his $5.500 million cap hit, along with defender, Vladislav Kolyachonok, off with the Coyotes for the 2021-22 season, where the 35-year-old defender is hungry to keep his playing days alive in the twilight of his career.

With a few new faces on defense, Arizona is ready for life in a post-Niklas Hjalmarsson world, since the 34-year-old native of Sweden retired after five points (all assists) in 41 games with the Coyotes last season.

On July 28th, Arizona executed the Kuemper trade, then the phone lines went silent for about a month until the Carolina Hurricanes signed Jesperi Kotkaniemi to an offer sheet that the Montréal Canadiens wouldn’t match.

Montréal inquired the Coyotes about the availability of Christian Dvorak on the trade market and he was shipped off the Habs on Sept. 4th for a conditional 2022 1st round pick (the worse of the Canadiens’ own or Carolina’s) and a 2024 2nd round pick.

By the way, Arizona hired a new head coach this offseason, naming André Tourigny as the designated leader to guide the rebuild down to the depths and back to the surface of playoff contention.

That should be fun.

At least Tourigny has a good repertoire among major junior players and can settle into the NHL level with whoever the Coyotes draft in 2022.

Offseason Grade: A-

Look, just because the offseason grade says “A-” doesn’t mean this team will actually be competitive.

Yes, the Coyotes are going to finish last in the Central Division– by the way, they’re new to the Central this season since the Seattle Kraken joined the league and took Arizona’s spot in the Pacific Division.

But it’s also true that Armstrong made most of the right moves that aligned with Arizona’s offseason philosophy– embrace the tank.

The Coyotes are loading up on draft picks, prospects and whatever scraps you can find with other teams’ bad contracts and should turn things around in the next few years.

Of course, there’s the fact that this seems to happen way too often in Arizona and the concern among the fanbase that things might not go as planned with their expected relocation from Glendale to Tempe, Arizona as the City of Glendale has booted the team out of their space at Gila River Arena after the 2021-22 season– opting out of their current lease agreement, as the city could in accordance with agreed upon clauses.

But for all things considered, the Coyotes have a plan. The same can’t be said for Buffalo.

Categories
Free Agency NHL Nick's Net

2021 NHL Free Agency Signings Quick Recap

This post will be updated as signings are officially announced. Be sure to check our Twitter account (@DtFrozenRiver) for all of the latest signings, news, and analysis.

Free agency begins at noon (technically 12:01 PM ET) on July 28th.

For the second-straight year, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the schedule a bit for the National Hockey League, but after the free agency signing period opens to kickoff the 2021-22 league calendar year, things will be back on track for a full 82-game schedule (albeit about a week later than usual).

All that is known is shown and will be updated throughout the day. More analysis will come as we play catch-up.

ESPN+ is streaming TSN’s coverage of free agency from 11 a.m. ET onward and NHL Network has the Sportsnet/their own feed, probably (we like the former, in all partiality).

Reported free agent signings

These are reported agreements in place that are yet to be confirmed and/or announced by a playing club.

F Kyle Palmieri has likely re-signed with the New York Islanders.

Announced free agent signings

These are confirmed/announced signings by playing clubs.

F Carter Verhaeghe signed a three-year extension worth about $4.167 million per season with the Florida Panthers that goes into effect starting with the 2022-23 season.

The Edmonton Oilers re-signed D Tyson Barrie to a three-year contract worth $4.500 million per season.

The Vegas Golden Knights signed D Alec Martinez to a three-year extension worth $5.250 million per season.

The Carolina Hurricanes signed G Frederik Andersen to a two-year deal worth $4.500 million per season.

G Petr Mrazek signed a three-year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs worth $3.800 million per season.

F Nick Bonino agreed to a two-year contract with the San Jose Sharks.

F Brandon Sutter signed a one-year extension worth $1.125 million with the Vancouver Canucks.

G Antti Raanta reportedly signed a two-year deal worth $2.000 million per season with the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Los Angeles Kings re-signed F Andreas Athanasiou to a one-year deal worth $2.700 million.

D Dougie Hamilton signed a seven-year contract worth $9.000 million per season with the New Jersey Devils.

F Blake Coleman signed a six-year deal worth $4.900 million per season with the Calgary Flames.

The Montréal Canadiens signed D David Savard to a four-year contract worth $3.500 million per season.

G Brian Elliott signed a deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

D Tucker Poolman agreed to a four-year contract worth $2.500 million per season with the Vancouver Canucks.

The Dallas Stars signed F Luke Glendening to a two-year deal worth $1.500 million per season.

D Andreas Borgman signed a one-year, two-way deal worth $750,000 at the NHL level with the Dallas Stars.

D Travis Hamonic signed a two-year extension worth $3.000 million per season with the Vancouver Canucks.

F Dominik Simon signed a one-year, two-way contract extension with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

F Charles Hudon signed a deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

D Zach Bogosian signed a three-year contract worth $850,000 per season with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The San Jose Sharks signed F Andrew Cogliano to a one-year contract worth $1.000 million.

The Montréal Canadiens signed F Cedric Paquette to a one-year contract worth $950,000.

D Brady Keeper signed a two-year deal worth $762,500 per season with the Vancouver Canucks.

The Vegas Golden Knights signed G Laurent Brossoit to a two-year deal worth $2.325 million per season.

F Jean-Sébastien Dea signed a one-year deal worth $750,000 with the Montréal Canadiens.

The San Jose Sharks signed G James Reimer to a two-year deal worth $4.500 million per season.

F Michael Bunting signed a two-year deal worth $900,000 with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

D Patrik Nemeth signed a three-year contract worth $2.500 million per season with the New York Rangers.

F Maxim Mamin signed a one-year deal worth $975,000 with the Florida Panthers.

D Louis Belpedio signed a one-year, two-way contract worth $750,000 with the Montréal Canadiens.

The Vancouver Canucks signed F Danila Klimovich to a three-year entry-level contract worth $886,667 per season.

The Dallas Stars signed D Alex Petrovic to a one-year, two-way contract.

F Michael Amadio signed a one-year, two-way deal worth $750,000 at the NHL level with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Vancouver Canucks signed D Luke Schenn to a two-year contract worth $850,000 per season.

F Josh Leivo has signed a deal with the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Carolina Hurricanes signed D Ian Cole to a one-year, $2.900 million deal.

F Nic Petan signed a one-year, two-way deal worth $750,000 at the NHL level with the Vancouver Canucks.

D Jake McCabe signed a four-year contract with Chicago worth $4.000 million per season.

The Detroit Red Wings signed D Jordan Oesterle to a two-year deal worth $1.350 million per season.

F Andrew Agozzino signed a two-way contract with the Ottawa Senators.

D Adam Clendening signed a two-way deal with the Philadelphia Flyers.

D Ryan Murphy signed a two-way contract with the Detroit Red Wings.

The Los Angeles Kings have signed D Alex Edler to a one-year contract worth $3.500 million per season.

The Boston Bruins signed F Erik Haula to a two-year deal worth $2.375 million per season.

F Tomas Nosek signed a two-year contract worth $3.500 million per season with the Boston Bruins.

F Phil Di Giuseppe signed a two-way contract worth $750,000 at the NHL level with the Vancouver Canucks.

The Tampa Bay Lightning signed F Pierre-Edouard Bellemare to a two-year contract worth $1.000 million per season.

F Matt Luff signed a one-year, two-way, $750,000 deal with the Nashville Predators.

F Jon Lizotte signed a one-year, two-way, contract worth $750,000 at the NHL level with the Minnesota Wild.

F Ryan Getzlaf agreed to a one-year extension with the Anaheim Ducks worth $4.500 million.

F Ryan Dzingel signed a one-year, $1.100 million deal with the Arizona Coyotes.

D Matt Tennyson signed a two-year, two-way contract with the Nashville Predators.

F Mattias Janmark reached an agreement on an extension with the Vegas Golden Knights.

F Josh Ho-Sang signed a PTO with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

F Mike Hoffman signed a three-year deal with the Montréal Canadiens worth $4.500 million per season.

G Linus Ullmark signed a four-year deal worth $5.000 million per season with the Boston Bruins.

G Garret Sparks reached an agreement on a one-year, two-way contract with the Los Angeles Kings worth $750,000 at the NHL level.

F Sam Gagner agreed to an extension with the Detroit Red Wings.

The Red Wings also agreed to an extension with G Calvin Pickard.

D Ryan Suter signed a four-year deal worth $3.650 million per season with the Dallas Stars.

The Columbus Blue Jackets signed F Boone Jenner to a four-year extension.

The Pittsburgh Penguins signed F Evan Rodrigues to a one-year extension worth $1.000 million.

F Patrik Laine signed his qualifying offer with the Columbus Blue Jackets and will make $7.500 million on a one-year deal as a result.

F Eric Robinson agreed to terms on a two-year extension worth $3.200 million with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Philadelphia Flyers signed D Keith Yandle to a one-year deal worth $900,000.

D Alex Goligoski signed a one-year deal worth $5.000 million with the Minnesota Wild.

G Braden Holtby signed a one-year contract worth $2.000 million with the Dallas Stars.

The Minnesota Wild signed F Frederick Gaudreau to a two-year deal worth $1.200 million per season.

D Jarred Tinordi signed a two-year deal worth $900,000 per season with the New York Rangers.

F Justin Bailey signed a one-year, two-way contract extension with the Vancouver Canucks.

The Vegas Golden Knights signed F Sven Baertschi to a one-year, two-way, contract worth $750,000 at the NHL level.

The Tampa Bay Lightning signed F Gabriel Dumont, D Darren Raddysh, D Andrej Sustr and G Maxime Lagacé to one-year, two-way contracts.

F Gage Quinney signed a one-year, two-way contract extension with the Vegas Golden Knights.

The Ottawa Senators signed D Michael Del Zotto to a two-year contract worth $2.000 million per season.

Chicago signed F Jujhar Khaira to a two-year deal worth $975,000 per season.

F Alexander Wennberg agreed to a three-year deal worth $4.500 million per season with the Seattle Kraken.

The Nashville Predators signed F Anthony Richard to a one-year, two-way contract worth $750,000 at the NHL level.

F Phillip Danault signed a six-year contract worth $5.500 million per season with the Los Angeles Kings.

The Seattle Kraken reached an agreement with F Jaden Schwartz on a five-year deal worth $5.500 million per season.

F Michael McCarron signed a two-year, two-way contract worth $750,000 at the NHL level with the Nashville Predators.

G Martin Jones signed a one-year, $2.000 million contract with the Philadelphia Flyers.

F Nate Thompson signed a one-year, $800,000 contract with the Philadelphia Flyers.

G Philipp Grubauer is signed a six-year deal worth $5.900 million per season with the Seattle Kraken.

F Greg McKegg signed a one-year, two-way contract worth $750,000 at the NHL level with the New York Rangers.

F Dryden Hunt signed a two-year deal with the New York Rangers.

The Florida Panthers signed D Brandon Montour to a three-year contract worth $3.500 million per season.

D Chris Wideman signed a one-year deal worth $750,000 with the Montréal Canadiens.

The Columbus Blue Jackets signed F Sean Kuraly to a four-year contract worth $2.500 million per season.

The San Jose Sharks signed F Lane Pederson to a two-year contract worth $750,000 per season.

D Tony DeAngelo signed a one-year contract with the Carolina Hurricanes worth $1.000 million.

D Gavin Bayreuther signed a two-year, two-way contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Edmonton Oilers signed D Cody Ceci to a four-year deal worth $3.250 million per season.

F Kurtis Gabriel signed a one-year, $750,000 contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

F Zachary L’Heureux signed a three-year, entry-level deal with the Nashville Predators.

The Toronto Maple Leafs signed F David Kampf to a two-year contract worth $1.500 million per season.

The Pittsburgh Penguins signed F Brock McGinn to a four-year contract worth $2.750 million per season.

The Arizona Coyotes signed F Dmitrij Jaškin to a one-year contract.

The Carolina Hurricanes re-signed F Jordan Martinook to a three-year contract worth $1.800 million per season.

F Juho Lammikko signed a one-year extension with the Florida Panthers.

G Jonathan Bernier signed a two-year deal worth $4.125 million per season with the New Jersey Devils.

The Buffalo Sabres signed F Vinnie Hinostroza to a one-year contract worth $1.050 million.

F Zach Hyman reached an agreement with the Edmonton Oilers on a seven-year contract worth $5.500 million per season.

G Filip Lindberg signed a two-year entry-level contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

F Brayden Point signed an eight-year extension worth $9.500 million per season with the Tampa Bay Lightning that goes into effect starting with the 2022-23 season.

The Boston Bruins agreed to a three-year deal with D Derek Forbort worth $3.000 million per season.

The Boston Bruins signed F Nick Foligno to a two-year deal.

G David Rittich agreed to a one-year deal worth $1.250 million with the Nashville Predators.

G Carter Hutton signed a one-year deal worth $750,000 with the Arizona Coyotes.

The Colorado Avalanche signed D Roland McKeown to a one-year contract.

The Columbus Blue Jackets signed F Alexandre Texier to a two-year contract extension worth $3.050 million.

F C.J. Smith signed a one-year, two-way contract worth $750,000 at the NHL level with the Carolina Hurricanes.

G Chris Gibson signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Florida Panthers.

The Detroit Red Wings signed F Pius Suter to a two-year contract.

D Brandon Davidson signed a one-year contract extension worth $750,000 with the Buffalo Sabres.

The Nashville Predators re-signed F Mikael Granlund to a four-year contract worth $5.000 million per season.

The Calgary Flames signed F Trevor Lewis to a one-year deal worth $800,000.

G Jaroslav Halak agreed to a one-year deal worth $1.500 million with the Vancouver Canucks.

Categories
Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #214- 2020-21 Season Preview: West Division

Zdeno Chara signed with the Washington Capitals, the AHL announced plans for the 2020-21 season, the NHL divisions are sponsored for 2020-21, what’s going on with the New York Islanders, Pierre-Luc Dubois wants out (maybe) and we preview the West Division for the 2020-21 season.

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

Categories
NHL Nick's Net Previews

2020 Stanley Cup Qualifier Preview: Western Conference

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With all of that in mind, let’s take a look at the Western Conference Qualifiers, while the St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche, Vegas Golden Knights and Dallas Stars sort themselves out.

All Western Conference games will be at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, including the Western Conference Final and all of the Stanley Cup Final.

(5) Edmonton Oilers (37-25-9, 83 points) vs (12) Chicago Blackhawks (32-30-8, 72 points)

Edmonton: 71 games played, .585 points percentage, 31 regulation wins.

Chicago: 70 games played, .514 points percentage, 23 regulation wins.

The Edmonton Oilers finished second in the Pacific Division with 83 points– three points behind the Vegas Golden Knights for the division lead. That’s how good the Oilers were at times and/or how far behind the Pacific Division was at times leading up to the premature end of the regular season due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

One thing is for sure about the always home-ice even without fans in the bubble Oilers team, their top players were much better than they were last season.

2019-20 Art Ross Trophy winner and Hart Memorial Trophy finalist, Leon Draisaitl had 110 points this season in 71 games played. He was on pace for 126 points had the regular season reached its original conclusion.

That would’ve been 21 points better than his previous high of 105 points in 82 games last season. Luckily for Draisaitl, he still set a new career-high in a pandemic– two new career-highs, actually.

Though 43 goals this season did not top the 50 goals he scored in 2018-19, Draisaitl set career-highs in assists (67) and points (110)– and yet, somehow he still was a minus-seven on the season.

Is it worth exploring moving Draisaitl out of Edmonton? MY COLUMN:

(If you’re wondering, that’s four consecutive seasons of at least 70 points and back-to-back 100-plus point seasons for Draisaitl, so no, he’s not going anywhere.)

Oilers captain, Connor McDavid, had 34 goals and 63 assists (97 points) in 64 games this season, which was 19 points shy of his career-high 116-points last season in 78 games in 2018-19. McDavid was on pace for 124 points this season at the time of the stoppage.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was third in scoring for Edmonton with 22-39–61 totals in 65 games this season, then the next highest skater had 34 points in 59 games (Zack Kassian). This season marked back-to-back 60-point seasons for Nugent-Hopkins for the first time in his career.

In goal, Mike Smith (19-12-6 in 39 games played, 37 starts, 2.95 goals against average, .905 save percentage and one shutout) split time with Mikko Koskinen (18-13-3 in 38 GP, 34 starts, 2.75 GAA, .917 SV% and one shutout in that span) this season.

The 38-year-old veteran goaltender, Smith, has a 2.17 GAA, a .938 SV% and four shutouts over 24 career Stanley Cup Playoff games.

Meanwhile, 32-year-old Koskinen has yet to appear in a postseason NHL game.

Smith’s .938 SV% in the playoffs, however, is league-leading among active NHL goaltenders with a minimum of 20 Stanley Cup Playoff games played.

Oilers head coach, Dave Tippett, might be smart to start Smith over Koskinen in Game 1, considering Smith’s career playoff numbers, but he did post a 3.20 GAA and a .917 SV% in five games with the Calgary Flames in the 2019 First Round en route to Calgary’s defeat at the hands of the Colorado Avalanche.

Smith did record one shutout in last year’s playoffs, however, and faced 205 shots against in those five games against the Avs.

That was about 34% of the number of shots he faced (602) in 16 games with the then known as Phoenix Coyotes en route to their 2012 Western Conference Final appearance against the eventual 2012 Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings.

At the other end of the rink, Patrick Kane led the way for the Chicago Blackhawks this season with 33-51–84 totals in 70 games, which was 24 points more than Jonathan Toews’ 60-point effort in 70 games for Chicago this season.

2019-20 Calder Memorial Trophy finalist, Dominik Kubalik, was third in Blackhawks scoring with 30 goals and 16 assists (46 points) in 68 games played.

For Kane, the pandemic shortened 2019-20 regular season marked five consecutive seasons with at least 70 points, while he was on pace for about 98 points had the regular season witnessed a full 82-game conclusion.

For Toews, he has never had a season with 82 games schedule below 50 points (though he had 48 points in 47 games in the lockout shortened 2012-13 season), but he did see a decrease in production from 81 points in 82 games last season to 60 points in 70 games this season. He was on pace for 70 points over an 82-game schedule in 2019-20.

In goal, Corey Crawford led the Blackhawks with a 16-20-3 record in 40 games played (39 starts), a 2.77 GAA, .917 SV% and one shutout this season.

Prior to being traded to the Vegas Golden Knights at the trade deadline via the Toronto Maple Leafs in a three-team trade– in which Chicago acquired, in part, Malcolm Subban– Robin Lehner served as Crawford’s tandem goaltender with a 16-10-5 record in 33 games played (31 starts), a 3.01 GAA, .918 SV% and no shutouts in that span with the Blackhawks.

Subban, on the other hand, made one appearance with Chicago after the trade and played in one minute as a Blackhawk. He had a 3.18 GAA and an .890 SV% in 20 games (19 starts) with the Golden Knights this season, however.

Should Blackhawks head coach, Jeremy Colliton, be given any reason not to opt for Crawford as his Qualifier starter, then there’s cause for concern as to whether or not Chicago can upset the Oilers if Subban can’t right the ship from his worst season as an NHL backup goaltender.

Four months off with plenty of rest to get in the right mindset might have been a good thing for his rhythm, however, as Crawford and Subban made a combined shutout effort in Chicago’s, 4-0, win over the St. Louis Blues in their exhibition matchup.

What’s more, the Blackhawks went 2-1-0 in three games against the Oilers this season, but before you start thinking there’s a chance Chicago upsets Edmonton with a sweep or anything, take caution as the Hawks had ten goals for and nine goals against in their season series.

This will be Colliton’s first appearance behind the bench as head coach in a postseason (but also not technically postseason) appearance for the Blackhawks– and Chicago’s first postseason action without Joel Quenneville at the reigns since before Quenneville was hired four games into the 2008-09 season.

It truly is a new era for Chicago, despite much of the core remaining from their three Cup championships in a five-year span.

Look for the Oilers to get the job done in four games with Tippett looking to punch his ticket back to the postseason since leading the Coyotes to the 2012 Western Conference Final, while The Hockey Gods favor Edmonton since the tragic loss of their teammate, Colby Cave, in April after the 25-year-old forward suffered a brain bleed and died days later after being placed in a medically induced coma.

Regular season outcomes:

3-1 CHI at United Center on Oct. 14th, 5-3 EDM at Rogers Place on Feb. 11th, 4-3 CHI at United Center on March 5th

Schedule:

8/1- Game 1 CHI @ EDM 3 PM ET on NBC, SN

8/3- Game 2 CHI @ EDM 10:30 PM ET on NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN

8/5- Game 3 EDM @ CHI in Edmonton 10:30 PM ET on NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN

8/7- Game 4 EDM @ CHI in Edmonton*

8/8- Game 5 CHI @ EDM*

*If necessary

(6) Nashville Predators (35-26-8, 78 points) vs (11) Arizona Coyotes (33-29-8, 74 points)

Nashville: 69 games played, .565 points percentage, 28 regulation wins.

Arizona: 70 games played, .529 points percentage, 26 regulation wins.

There’s something in the water in Nashville– and it’s not just catfish. Predators defender– and 2019-20 James Norris Trophy finalist– Roman Josi led the Preds in scoring this season with 65 points (16 goals, 49 assists) in 69 games.

He was on pace for 77 points at the time of the stoppage and trailed Washington Capitals defender– and fellow Norris finalist– John Carlson by ten points for the most points by a defender this season.

It was a career-season for Josi in goals, assists and points, by the way.

Nashville’s top-three in scoring, in fact, nearly contained two defenders as Josi led the way and Ryan Ellis notched 38 points in an injury-riddled 49-game season (a 64-point pace had the full 82-game schedule been completed if the pandemic never happened).

Ellis trailed Filip Forsberg (21-27–48 totals in 63 games) and Matt Duchene (13-29–42 totals in 66 games) in scoring on the Predators roster.

Juuse Saros finally emerged as a de facto starting goaltender for Nashville after amassing a 17-12-4 record in 40 games played (34 starts), as well as a 2.70 GAA, .914 SV% and four shutouts on the season.

Pekka Rinne, meanwhile, had an 18-14-4 record in 36 games (35 starts), which wasn’t bad, but his numbers past his overall record were actually a career-worst with a 3.17 GAA and an .895 SV% in 2019-20.

Rinne previously had a 3.80 GAA in a season, but that was only when he played in two games in 2005-06.

This was a season to forget for Rinne, but perhaps a larger indicator of more worries to come for Nashville in the net– especially more so after Saros didn’t exactly light it up as a starter with a goals against average that would even make a backup goaltender look, well, average.

The Arizona Coyotes enter the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifier with a new owner, as well as a new Interim General Manager in Steve Sullivan, as well as Nick Schmaltz leading the way in scoring with 11 goals and 34 assists for 45 points in 70 games played.

Not ideal, ideally speaking.

Clayton Keller had 44 points (17 goals, 27 assists) in 70 games and was on pace for 52 points had the pandemic not cut the regular season short.

Meanwhile, Conor Garland was third on the team in scoring with 39 points in 68 games, while establishing career-highs in goals (22), assists (17) and points (39) in the process.

Christian Dvorak and Phil Kessel each had 38 points in 70 games. Over an 82-game schedule, that’s about a 45-point pace, which would’ve still been a career-season for Dvorak and a disappointment for Kessel in his first season in the desert.

Granted, Kessel’s not playing with guys like Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin in his new home in Arizona.

He failed to reach the 20-goal plateau for the first time since the 2007-08 season, in which Kessel scored 19 goals in 82 games for the Boston Bruins in his sophomore season.

Kessel also failed to reach 30-assists for the first time since his first season as a Toronto Maple Leaf in 2009-10, in which he had 25 helpers in 70 games.

Finally, No. 81 on Arizona’s roster failed to amass at least 40 points in a season for just the third time in his career (29 points in 70 games while missing time battling testicular cancer with the Bruins in his rookie season in 2006-07, and 37 points in 82 games the following season in 2007-08 with Boston).

Granted, Kessel likely could have passed the 40-point plateau had the COVID-19 pandemic not interrupted plans for him and his Coyotes teammates.

In goal, Antti Raanta appeared in 33 games (32 starts) and had a 15-14-3 record, as well as a 2.63 GAA, a .921 SV% and two shutouts in that span.

Darcy Kuemper went 16-11-2 in 29 games played (all starts) and amassed a 2.22 GAA, while putting up a .928 SV% and two shutouts this season for the Coyotes.

If there’s any doubt Rick Tocchet has over deciding which goaltender to start in Game 1 against Nashville, there shouldn’t be any question– it has to be Kuemper.

Simply put, it’s Kuemper’s net to lose right now in Arizona and a little healthy competition isn’t a bad idea to try to spur Raanta in the right direction if he wants to be a starter in this league.

Boy, home ice advantage really would be something in this series by default, right? After all, each team won their only home game in their regular season matchups prior to the premature conclusion to the 2019-20 regular season due to the pandemic.

Since home ice is without fans in Edmonton for all Western Conference teams in the 2020 postseason, there’s not much to go off of in terms of these two clubs’ head-to-head meetings.

But the Predators have more than a few things going in their favor among their forwards and defenders who could also play forward, arguably.

The one thing Arizona has that Nashville hasn’t seen much of this season is a consistent starter in the crease.

If the Coyotes win the series, it’ll likely have something with Kuemper stealing a few games.

If the Preds sweep Arizona, it might have something to do with the sheer fire power in a last-ditch effort at what’s otherwise a closing window for a potential Cup contending roster.

At the very least John Hynes probably doesn’t have to worry about getting the same treatment as Peter Laviolette– who Hynes replaced in January– if the Predators dropped the ball in this series.

Let’s say Nashville in three, but give props to Kuemper for honing in his talents to tend the crease this well in his career. It hasn’t been easy, but he’s arrived and here to stay, unlike former Coyotes GM John Chayka.

Regular season outcomes:

5-2 ARI at Gila River Arena on Oct. 17th, 3-2 NSH at Bridgestone Arena on Dec. 23rd

Schedule:

8/2- Game 1 ARI @ NSH in Edmonton 2 PM ET on USA, NHL.TV, SN360

8/4- Game 2 ARI @ NSH in Edmonton 2:30 PM ET on NHLN, NHL.TV, SN1, SN360

8/5- Game 3 NSH @ ARI in Edmonton 2:30 PM ET on NHLN, NHL.TV, SN360

8/7- Game 4 NSH @ ARI in Edmonton*

8/9- Game 5 ARI @ NSH in Edmonton*

*If necessary

(7) Vancouver Canucks (36-27-6, 78 points) vs (10) Minnesota Wild (35-27-7, 77 points)

Vancouver: 69 games played, .565 points percentage, 27 regulation wins.

Minnesota: 69 games played, .558 points percentage, 30 regulation wins.

Entering the 2019-20 season, Vancouver Canucks General Manager, Jim Benning, added J.T. Miller to the fold in a trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Benning then went out and got Tyler Toffoli from the Los Angeles Kings leading up to the 2020 trade deadline.

As a result, the Canucks are much improved from last season to this season.

Miller led the team in scoring with 27-45–72 totals in 69 games played and was on pace for about 86 points at the time of the stoppage due to the pandemic.

Elias Pettersson (66 points in 69 games), Bo Horvat (53 points in 69 games) and Quinn Hughes (53 points in 69 games) rounded out the top-three in scoring for Vancouver.

Horvat and Hughes were tied for the third most points on the team as Hughes left his mark on the 2019-20 season by earning Calder Memorial Trophy finalist honors.

Meanwhile, Jacob Markstrom led the Canucks in the crease with a 23-16-4 record in 43 games played (all starts), as well as a 2.75 GAA, a .918 SV% and two shutouts in that span.

Thatcher Demko made 27 appearances (25 starts) as the backup goaltender and went 13-10-2 on the season with a 3.06 GAA and a .905 SV% in that span.

Louis Domingue also appeared in one game (one start) in the regular season for the Canucks and had a 4.08 GAA and an .882 SV%.

Markstrom will be the starter for Vancouver’s postseason run, but he’ll have to be a tad better in cutting down his goals against average for a deep run.

For Canucks head coach, Travis Green, it’s more of the same game plan to try to spur the Canucks back into the playoffs for the first time since their 2015 First Round appearance and elimination at the hands of the Calgary Flames in six games.

The Minnesota Wild removed the “interim” tag from their head coach, Dean Evason’s title since the pause in play and are looking to upset the Canucks and get back into the playoffs since missing the postseason last season.

Kevin Fiala led the way for the Wild in scoring with 54 points (23 goals, 31 assists) in 64 games played. He was on pace for 69 points had the season gone all 82 games, but still established career-highs in goals, assists and points in the shortened season regardless.

Ryan Suter led defenders and was second in scoring on the roster with 48 points (eight goals, 40 assists) in 69 games, while Eric Staal was ahead of Zach Parise by one point for third in scoring with 47 points in 66 games.

In goal, Alex Stalock (20-11-4 in 38 games played, 36 starts, 2.67 goals against average, .985 save percentage, four shutouts) outplayed Minnesota’s usual starter Devan Dubnyk (12-15-2 in 30 GP, 28 starts, 3.35 GAA, .890 SV%, one shutout) and will likely backstop the team in Game 1 against Vancouver.

Kaapo Kahkonen also made his NHL debut this season in the crease for the Wild in five games– amassing a 3-1-1 record, as well as a 2.96 GAA and a .913 SV%.

Both teams had nine goals for and nine goals against one another in their season series. They also each had 89 total shots on goal against one another in the 2019-20 regular season.

Though the Wild made strides this season at potentially avoiding a rebuild, it’s still an uphill climb for Minnesota against the Canucks on paper– regardless of their head-to-head matchups from the season.

Vancouver has the right combination of speed, skill and youth to limit Minnesota’s chances and, at times, lackluster offense.

The Canucks core is more defined than Minnesota’s fluid situation as Wild GM Bill Guerin evolves the roster over the next season or two.

It’s a transition period, nonetheless.

Benning and the Canucks are emerging from their transition and look to be ready to get back into the playoff hunt with what should be a four-game series win against the Wild.

Regular season outcomes:

4-1 VAN at Xcel Energy Center on Jan. 12th, 4-2 MIN at Xcel Energy Center on Feb. 6th, 4-3 F/SO MIN at Rogers Arena on Feb. 19th

Schedule:

8/2- Game 1 MIN @ VAN in Edmonton 10:30 PM ET on NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN

8/4- Game 2 MIN @ VAN in Edmonton 10:45 PM ET on USA, NHL.TV, SN

8/6- Game 3 VAN @ MIN in Edmonton TBD

8/7- Game 4 VAN @ MIN in Edmonton*

8/9- Game 5 MIN @ VAN in Edmonton*

*If necessary

(8) Calgary Flames (36-27-7, 79 points) vs (9) Winnipeg Jets (37-28-6, 80 points)

Calgary: 70 games played, .564 points percentage, 25 regulation wins.

Winnipeg: 71 games played, .563 points percentage, 30 regulation wins.

The Calgary Flames were led in scoring this season by their hottest controversial player, Matthew Tkachuk. Tkachuk ruffled some feathers en route to re-igniting the “Battle of Alberta” and managed to amass 23-38–61 totals in 69 games played in 2019-20.

He was on pace for 72 points this season at the time of the stoppage, but still had back-to-back seasons with at least 60 points nonetheless.

Johnny Gaudreau was second on the roster in points with 58 points (18 goals, 40 assists) in 70 games played, which was down from his 99 points in 82 games last season. That said, Gaudreau was still on pace for about 68 points when the regular season was cut short by the ongoing pandemic.

Instead, his streak of consecutive 60-plus point seasons was over at five seasons thanks to the pandemic.

Finally, Elias Lindholm managed to set a new career-high in goals (29), while scoring 54 points in 70 games this season– ranking third on the team in scoring.

In the crease, Calgary was saved by David “Big Save Dave” Rittich, who went 24-17-6 in 48 games played (all starts), had a 2.97 goals against average, a .907 save percentage and two shutouts this season.

Actually, on second thought, maybe that’s not very good numbers to have for a *checks notes* starting goaltender.

Alright, let’s check the backup…

Cam Talbot went 12-10-1 in 26 games played (22 starts), had a 2.63 GAA, a .919 SV% and two shutouts this season. Hmm, not much better.

Oh and did you remember that interim head coach, Geoff Ward, replaced Bill Peters after everyone found out Peters is racist?

The Winnipeg Jets landed in fifth place in the Central Division with 80 points this season– two points behind the Dallas Stars, who were the fourth best team in the Western Conference by points percentage and have earned themselves home ice in at least the First Round, which only matters so much in a bubble, but still, this was meant to show how close the Jets came to being a Round Robin team instead of playing in a Qualifier series.

Anyway, Kyle Connor soared as a Jet this season– establishing new career-highs in goals (38), assists (35) and points (73) in the process while playing in 71 games until the pandemic cut the regular season short.

Connor was on pace for 84 points this season if the full 82-game schedule could’ve occurred uninterrupted.

Meanwhile, Mark Scheifele actually tied Connor for the most points on the roster with 73, as Scheifele tallied 29 goals and had 44 helpers in 71 games. Not quite a career-season, but still respectable after setting career-high totals (38-46–84) last season in all 82 games.

Winnipeg’s captain, Blake Wheeler, contributed more than just actions and words in defense of the Constitution and human rights this season, scoring 22 goals and amassing 43 assists for third place on the roster in points (65) in 71 games played.

Patrik Laine, for those wondering, was fourth on the team with 63 points, which was back to his usual self, albeit with more assists (35) than goals (28) in 68 games.

Laine hasn’t been a bust for the Jets– he’s never had a season with fewer than 50 points (last season, 82 games) and was on pace for about 76 points had the season been played in full.

This was, however, the first season he failed to reach the 30-goal plateau, but he only missed it by two goals and, hello, the pandemic? Remember it? Yeah, that’s why he missed the mark, otherwise he would’ve (probably) scored a pair of goals in the remaining 11 games for Winnipeg on the 2019-20 regular season schedule at the time of the pause.

In goal, Paul Maurice relied on old reliable to bail him out even more so in the wake of Dustin Byfuglien’s decision to sit out the 2019-20 season and eventual mutual termination of his contract with the club.

2019-20 Vezina Trophy finalist, Connor Hellebuyck, held the fort down with a 31-21-5 record in 58 games played (56 starts), amassed a 2.57 goals against average and had a .922 save percenrage– as well as a league-leading six shutouts this season.

Yeah, it was kind of a big season for Hellebucyk and if he’s not the favorite among the NHL GMs that vote for the Vezina, well, who knows what games they were watching (presumably their own).

Laurent Brossoit went 6-7-1 in 19 games (15 starts) this season and had a dismal 3.28 GAA and an .895 SV% in that span. Yikes.

The defense looks different without Byfuglien, but Hellebuyck remained stable as their primary alternative to keeping the puck away from their own net.

That might not pay off against some of the powerhouses in the league, but luckily the Jets have enough time to let Maurice come up with a plan and enact it to cut down on Hellebuyck’s workload in the Qualifier if they want a chance to advance.

Oh, speaking of the Winnipeg and Calgary series– nobody knows what to expect!

The Jets and Flames met once this season– back in the 2019 Heritage Classic outdoors at Mosaic Stadium in Regina, Saskatchewan.

Winnipeg won in overtime in comeback fashion that night, 2-1.

They peppered Rittich with 45 shots (43 saves) and kept Hellebuyck to an ideal workload of 30 shots faced (29 saves).

If the Jets don’t win this series, it’ll be a huge disappointment– perhaps even bigger than making the First Round and getting stomped out by their next opponent after the phenomenal performance by Hellebucyk in the crease all season.

Then again, momentum no longer exists since everyone had about five months off.

Let’s say this one goes all five games for one reason or another and that Winnipeg can pull it off and advance to the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Regular season outcomes:

2-1 F/OT WPG at Mosaic Stadium, Regina, Saskatchewan on Oct. 26th

Schedule:

8/1- Game 1 WPG @ CGY in Edmonton 10:30 PM ET on NBCSN, NHL.TV, CBC, SN

8/3- Game 2 WPG @ CGY in Edmonton 2:30 PM ET on NHLN, NHL.TV, SN

8/4- Game 3 CGY @ WPG in Edmonton 4:45 PM ET on NHLN, NHL.TV, SN

8/6- Game 4 CGY @ WPG in Edmonton*

8/8- Game 5 WPG @ CGY in Edmonton*

*If necessary


2020 Western Conference Round Robin Action

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

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

St. Louis Blues

42-19-10, 94 points, 71 GP, .662 PTS%, 33 RW

Aug. 2nd @ COL in Edmonton 6:30 PM ET on NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN360

Aug. 6th vs. VGK in Edmonton, TBD

Aug. 9th vs. DAL in Edmonton, TBD

Colorado Avalanche

42-20-8, 92 points, 70 GP, .657 PTS%, 37 RW

Aug. 2nd vs. STL in Edmonton 6:30 PM ET on NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN360

Aug. 5th @ DAL in Edmonton 6:30 PM ET on NHLN, NHL.TV

Aug. 8th vs. VGK in Edmonton, TBD

Vegas Golden Knights

39-24-8, 86 points, 71 GP, .606 PTS%, 30 RW

Aug. 3rd vs. DAL in Edmonton 6:30 PM ET on NHLN, NHL.TV, SN1

Aug. 6th @ STL in Edmonton, TBD

Aug. 8th @ COL in Edmonton, TBD

Dallas Stars

37-24-8, 82 points, 69 GP, .594 PTS%, 26 RW

Aug. 3rd @ VGK in Edmonton 6:30 PM ET on NHLN, NHL.TV, SN1

Aug. 5th vs. COL in Edmonton 6:30 PM ET on NHLN, NHL.TV

Aug. 9th @ STL in Edmonton, TBD