Tag Archives: Beauchemin

Sharks Move On From Past; Ducks Mired in It

 

Game 3 was a must-win for the Anaheim Ducks after losing two games at home to the San Jose Sharks.  The embarrassing 8-1 lost showed a tale of two California teams–one finally moving beyond the team helmed by Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton for the past decade and the other desperate to relive their past glory from 2007.  The team that has moved on from its past appears to be the team that will move on to Round 2, while the team trying to relive its past is learning a hard lesson–the NHL is not the same as it was in 2007.

When the Ducks brought back Randy Carlyle, the thought was that his discipline was what was needed to get the team to the next level.  If this is what discipline looks like, I’d hate to see what anarchy would look like for this team.  10 penalties, including four from Captain Ryan Getzlaf (including a misconduct), who should know better.

The Sharks breakaway speed has been a problem for the Ducks the entire series, and it was again in Game 3.  The Sharks started to break it open in the second period when two quick goals gave them a 3-1 lead.  The first of those two goals was scored by Joonas Donskoi on a nice feed from, who else, Evander Kane and the second saw Donskoi setting up Marcus Sorensen on another breakaway. It went downhill from there as John Gibson couldn’t bail out the Ducks and the score was 5-1 by the time the third period began, leading to the Ducks going to Ryan Miller in desperation.  It didn’t matter, despite a solid season, Miller would give up 3 goals in the third period.

I don’t know if the Sharks are good enough for Buffalo to get that first round pick from the Kane deal, but it is clear that Kane fits right in on the team.  The Sharks don’t appear to be missing either Marleau or Thornton.  Without Jumbo out there, they are able to take advantage of their speed against a team like the Ducks.  This is the way hockey is played in 2018.

The Ducks, on the other hand, are playing with a team built literally and figuratively for 2007.  Francois Beauchemin. Jason ChimeraRyan Kesler.  Miller. This doesn’t even include some of the guys not currently playing for the Ducks such as Kevin Bieksa, Antoine Vermette, Jared Boll and Chris Kelly.  Beauchemin played nearly 20 minutes, so its not as if he was a rarely-used third pairing defenseman.

Some of that was certainly the result of injuries.  But the Ducks, in general, need to do what San Jose has done this year and start moving on from the past.  This isn’t Getzlaf and Corey Perry‘s team any more than the 2007 Ducks were Teemu Selanne‘s team–its Rickard Rakell‘s team.  Its Jakob Silfverberg‘s team.  Its Ondrej Kase‘s team.   Yes, Perry and Getzlaf will continue to be important, but their role should be a supporting role the way Selanne’s role was when he returned to Anaheim.  This is a young man’s league and you can’t build a team in this league around a core of 30-somethings.

You also can’t build the team the Ducks need to build with Carlyle at the helm.  Bob Murray needs to learn from the mistakes of his mentor, Brian Burke.  When Burke got nostalgic and brought in Todd Bertuzzi, he messed with the chemistry he had created in Anaheim.  Murray needs to abandon nostalgia and build around youth and speed with Perry and Getzlaf there to provide just enough grit and physicality to balance things.

The Ducks will have at least one more game in 2017-18.  Hopefully it is the end of an era and the beginning of a bright future.  They have the young players and prospects to do it, but they need to have faith to hand the team over to them.

As for the Sharks, it is going to be fun to see what this team can do in the rest of the post-season, particularly as the next round is shaping up to be against the team with the Midas Touch, the Vegas Golden Knights.

Kane Raises Sharks, Ducks Lose Home Ice

 

I’ve seen many Ducks-Sharks playoff matchups through the years, but this one might prove to be different.  This year the Sharks are without Patrick Marleau, now in Toronto.  Joe Thornton is out with an injury.  Their big trade deadline acquisition was a guy portrayed (rightly or wrongly) as a locker room cancer.

The Ducks came into the playoffs a hot team after struggling with injuries early in the season.  Ryan Getzlaf put up over a point a game on the season, albeit after missing substantial time to injury.  Both John Gibson and Ryan Miller put up solid numbers on the season with save percentages over .920.  Despite trading Sami Vatanen, the Ducks still boast a solid defense.

Despite all of that, the Ducks managed to give up home ice and look pretty lackluster doing it.  In the first period, the Ducks seemed to have problems with the Sharks speed. Neither team’s power play could come up big despite opportunities.  The Ducks only managed 4 shots prior to the first intermission.

Things would get decidedly worse for Anaheim in the second frame.  With nearly 7 minutes gone in the period and the Sharks already outshooting the Ducks 15 to 7, the Ducks took two ill-advised penalties to give San Jose a 5-on-3.  Before the PA announcer could finish telling the crowd about the second penalty, Evander Kane had put the Sharks up 1-0 on a beautiful feed by Pavelski.

Pavelski would make another solid pass to Kane that led to the second goal for the Sharks.  Less than a minute later, Brent Burns would put the game away with a snap shot through traffic to put the Sharks up 3-0.  The score would hold through the third period, despite the Ducks out-shooting the Sharks 12-9.

Evander Kane looks like a guy trying to prove something.  This is a point made by several of us on the DTFR playoff podcast.  Randy Carlyle did nothing to contradict my hypothesis that the game has passed him by and the Ducks now find themselves down 1-0 and needing to win at least one game in the Shark Tank to win this series.  One bright spot for the Ducks was Gibson, who had a solid performance despite the loss.

If the Ducks are going to even up the series, they really need to stay out of the penalty box.  What is a bigger concern is how much the Ducks seemed to struggle with the Sharks’ speed.  Relying on Francois Beauchemin to play 20 plus minutes is probably not helping in this respect, something necessitated as a result of injuries and the trade of Vatanen earlier this season.  It is possible the Ducks get Kevin Bieksa back, but it is also hard to see how a lumbering 38-year old is going to do any better against the Sharks’ quick forwards.  Somehow the Ducks are going to have to find an answer before Saturday or they’ll find themselves headed to San Jose down 2-0.

April 4 – Day 175 – Which team will Wild Wing pull for?

There’s not much happening in the world of hockey tonight, as there’s only three games on the schedule in anticipation of an important busy weekend.

First up is Ottawa at Buffalo (SN1/SN360/TVAS) at 7:30 p.m., followed half an hour later by Chicago at St. Louis (NBCSN). Finally, Minnesota visits Anaheim (SN1/SN360) at 10 p.m. to close out the evening’s festivities. All times Eastern.

In terms of percentages, there’s rivalries galore tonight. That will play an especially important role in Missouri, as there’s nothing more the Blackhawks want to do than spoil St. Louis’ playoff push.

However, the tilt that deserves the most attention this evening is taking place on the West Coast between two teams that, though they may not be rivals, are hoping to meet in the Western Conference Finals.

 

You’re hard pressed to find a hotter team in the Pacific Division than 41-25-13 Anaheim, currently the Western Conference’s first wild card. The Ducks have posted a 7-1-1 record over their past nine games to keep pace with the Kings in the race for third place in the Pacific.

As would be expected by a team with such an impressive record over the last three weeks, there’s been little Anaheim has done wrong during this run. With five skaters having scored at least six points in their last nine games, the Ducks’ offense is averaging an impressive 3.22 goals per game since March 14 to rank 12th-best in the NHL in that time.

However, the Ducks’ attack has paled in comparison to their effort on the defensive end. Led by D Francois Beauchemin (1.6 blocks per game since March 14), C Ryan Getzlaf (13 takeaways in his last eight games) and D Josh Manson (3.6 hits per game during this run), Anaheim has allowed only 30.22 shots against per game since March 14, the eighth-lowest mark in the NHL in that span.

A major note concerning Anaheim’s defense this evening is the absence of D Cam Fowler, who took a strong hit from W Blake Comeau along the boards in Sunday’s game against Colorado. He’d been averaging two blocks per game during the Ducks’ impressive streak and will leave a sizable hole for whoever fills his spot on the blue line.

That being said, it’s not like 31-18-7 G John Gibson has needed all that much help to find success. Having posted a .926 save percentage and 2.43 GAA for the entire season, his defense playing so well in front of him lately has helped him manage an even better .936 save percentage and 1.9 GAA in his last nine starts.

Between Gibson and his defense, Anaheim has allowed only 2.11 goals against per game since March 14, the third-best mark in the NHL over the past three weeks.

Unfortunately, Gibson was another victim of the Avalanche on Sunday, and his upper-body injury is going to make him unavailable for at least tonight’s game. That puts 9-6-6 G Ryan Miller, who completed the 4-3 overtime victory against the Avs, in the spotlight for the undetermined future. Miller has managed a .925 save percentage and 2.51 GAA for the season.

Based on those marks being comparable to Gibson’s and the defense the Ducks have been playing lately, I’d assume it will be business as usual on The Pond this evening provided Fowler’s replacement can perform half as well as he usually does.

Another team playing some spectacular hockey of late are the 44-25-10 Wild, the Central Division’s third place club. Minnesota has posted a 5-1-3 record over its past nine showings, including wins over Vegas and Nashville.

Both the Golden Knights and Predators are certainly capable of lighting up a scoreboard, yet they combined for only three goals in their losses to Minnesota. That’s been a normal occurrence for the Wild during this run, as they’ve allowed only 1.89 goals against per game since March 16, the (t)best mark in the league in that time.

Minnesota’s incredible defense has been a major reason for that success, as it has allowed only 28.33 shots against per game during this run – the third-lowest average in the NHL since March 16. Whether it’s been D Jonas Brodin (two blocks per game since March 16), LW Marcus Foligno (2.6 hits per game during this run) or W Jason Zucker (eight takeaways in his past nine games), the Wild excel at making life extremely difficult on opposing attacks.

Just like Anaheim, Minnesota will also be missing a vital part of its defense for the extended future. D Ryan Suter is out indefinitely with a fractured fibula suffered in Dallas Saturday night. D Carson Soucy made his NHL debut filling in for Suter in the Wild’s first game without him (a 3-0 win over the Oilers), firing three shots and throwing two hits in 15:26 of play on the third pair.

Part of the reason the Wild aren’t in terrible shape without Suter is because they have 34-15-7 G Devan Dubnyk manning the pipes. Though this campaign has been far from the 2015 Masterton-winner’s best – he has a .918 save percentage and 2.52 GAA on the season – Dubnyk has been exemplary when it matters most. In his last seven starts, Dubnyk has managed a .939 save percentage and 1.68 GAA, and he’ll be called upon tonight to stop a hungry Anaheim attack.

With the Wild making the trip into Los Angeles tomorrow night, there were questions whether Dubnyk or 10-10-3 G Alex Stalock, would be in net this evening. According to Michael Russo of The Athletic yesterday at 6 p.m. Eastern, Dubnyk has been confirmed as tonight’s starter.

Not only have the Wild already clinched a spot in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but they need only one point in their remaining three games (or one St. Louis loss of any variety in its last three games) to be locked into third place in the Central Division.

That 5-7-2 record was a long time ago, wasn’t it Minnesota?

If only the future were so certain for the Ducks. Currently the Western Conference’s first wild card, there’s still a chance Anaheim could miss the postseason altogether.

Of course, two points tonight can make the Ducks’ footing a little more certain, as they would jump Los Angeles for third place in the Pacific Division with only two games to play for both clubs.

Both of the first two meetings between these sides were so close, they required more than 60 minutes to determine a winner.

Game 1 took place on December 8 at The Pond, where the Wild claimed a 3-2 overtime victory (D Mathew Dumba scored the game-winner). However, Minnesota couldn’t successfully defend home ice when the Ducks came to St. Paul on February 17, as Anaheim stole a 3-2 shootout win (LW Nick Ritchie claimed First Star honors for ending the 11-round shootout).

The fact that the Ducks have an offense that is playing slightly better lately paired with home ice advantage leads me to thinking Anaheim should earn two points tonight. However, as well as Minnesota’s defense has been performing, it just might be able to force overtime to lock in its playoff position.


Led by First Star of the Game G Andrei Vasilevskiy‘s 33-save shutout, the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Boston Bruins 4-0 at Amalie Arena in yesterday’s DtFR Game of the Day.

Between Tampa’s defense holding the Bruins to only eight shots on goal and G Tuukka Rask saving all 17 shots the Bolts managed to send his way, this game had the looks of a tight affair after the first period ended scoreless.

That all changed in the second period, as Tampa registered three of its four goals in the span of 9:26, starting with F Brayden Point‘s (RW Nikita Kucherov and Second Star D Braydon Coburn) game-winning wrist shot at the 5:01 mark.

Kucherov deserves a lot of credit for setting up this goal, as the way he skated circles around LW Brad Marchand and C Patrice Bergeron to get the puck into the offensive zone would probably be a suitable audition for hockey’s version of the Harlem Globetrotters. Once Kucherov reached the left face-off circle, he flung a pass across the zone to Point, who proceeded to rip his wrister from above the right face-off circle. Though it was a long distance, Point’s dart to the far post sneaked under Rask’s right arm and into the back of the net.

But the Lightning were far from done with that tally. D Victor Hedman (Coburn and Third Star RW Ryan Callahan) doubled Tampa Bay’s advantage 5:58 later with a slap shot, followed by LW Chris Kunitz‘ (Callahan and D Dan Girardi) wrister setting the score at 3-0 with 5:33 remaining in the frame.

Even though the Bruins out-shot the Bolts 12-3 in the third period, F J.T. Miller was the only player to score in the final frame. He buried his unassisted snap shot 2:34 into the period to set the 4-0 final score.

While Vasilevskiy was busy earning his eighth shutout of the season, Rask saved 32-of-36 shots faced in the loss (.889 save percentage).

With Tampa’s victory at Amalie Arena, the home teams in the DtFR Game of the Day series now have a 100-54-21 record that is 48 points better than the roadies’.

December 18 – Day 75 – Henrique The Rock

There are good Mondays in the NHL, and there are bad Mondays in the NHL.

This is one of the bad ones, as there’s only five games on the schedule for our viewing pleasure. Three of tonight’s contests (Columbus at Boston [SN/TVAS], Anaheim at New Jersey and Los Angeles at Philadelphia [NHLN]) drop the puck at 7 p.m., while the evening’s co-nightcaps – Pittsburgh at Colorado and San Jose at Edmonton – will get underway at 9 p.m. All times Eastern.

Who would’ve guessed it, but I already have notes on a couple of today’s games.

  • Anaheim at New Jersey: C Adam Henrique had been a member of the Devils’ organization since 2008. After being traded at the end of last month, he’ll make his first-ever trip to the Prudential Center as a member of the road squad.
  • San Jose at Edmonton: The Western Quarterfinals might have been eight months ago, but that won’t dull the Sharks’ desire to exact revenge on the Oil for eliminating them at The Tank.

It’s been a while since we’ve watched a Ducks game. Let’s see if Henrique gets a warm welcome.

 

Selected in the third round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, the Devils’ organization is the only professional hockey team Henrique has ever known. After completing his fourth and final season with the Windsor Spitfires, he reported to the capital of New York at the start of the 2010-’11 season before earning his first NHL experience on April 11, 2011.

Henrique would retain his spot on the senior roster for most of the 2011-’12 season, and has not seen the AHL since the 2012-’13 campaign. In all, Henrique played 455 games over eight seasons with New Jersey, managing decent 122-135-257 totals over that time to average .56 points-per-game.

But even a decent résumé could not save him from being traded at the end of November. With 14 points to his name over his first 24 games played this season, he was shipped to Anaheim to help the Ducks with their injury-laden offense (W Patrick Eaves, F Ryan Kesler, F Mike Liambas, W Corey Perry and LW Nick Ritchie are all currently on injured reserve). I’m sure the Devils had been happy with how he’d been playing this year, but with him under contract for only one more season following this one and the opportunity to snag D Sami Vatanen through the 2019-’20 season and a potential draft pick sitting on the table, this was a no-brainer for Devils General Manager Ray Shero.

Since trading for Henrique, Anaheim has earned a 3-1-4 record to improve its season mark to 14-11-8, which is good enough for 11th place in the Western Conference. The Ducks have played especially good of late, as they’ve earned points in seven-consecutive contests.

However, even by adding Henrique to the Ducks’ second line, the true core of this team is its incredible effort on the defensive end, which has allowed a (t)fifth-lowest 18 goals since November 30.

Led by D Francois Beauchemin‘s 2.62 blocks-per-game and F Chris Wagner‘s 3.62 hits-per-game since the end of November, the Ducks’ defense has been a decent presence, allowing only 256 shots against – the 10th-fewest in the NHL. However, when he’s been on the ice – as he will be tonight – 3-0-4 G Ryan Miller has been the true star. He’s started only two games since Henrique’s arrival, but he’s earned three points in those efforts with his dominant .969 save percentage and .96 GAA to elevate his season numbers to a .945 save percentage and 1.74 GAA. On the season, Miller is second-best in both statistics among the 64 netminders with at least four starts.

Given the unenviable task of trying to give Miller his first regulation loss of the season are the 18-9-5 Devils, the second-place team in the Metropolitan Division. Similar to Anaheim, New Jersey has also turned into a defensive team since trading for Vatanen, as it has allowed only 22 goals since his arrival – the 13th-fewest in the NHL.

Just like Anaheim, even though 13-6-4 Cory Schneider has had some excellent assistance from F Brian Gibbons (10 takeaways), D Andy Greene (2.5 blocks-per-game) and D Steven Santini (3.4 hits-per-game) during this run, he’s been the true stud on the defensive end. Since November 30, he’s posted a .932 save percentage and 1.99 GAA to earn nine points in the standings and elevate his season numbers to a .921 save percentage and 2.58 GAA, both top-10 efforts among the 31 goaltenders with at least 16 starts.

In a defensive matchup like this, it’s going to boil down to which offense can impose its will better. Considering Jersey’s offense has been stronger both since the trade and on the season as a whole, I’d bank on the Devils earning two points at home tonight – no matter how strong a fight Miller puts up.


On the back of First Star of the Game F Patrick Kane‘s two-goal performance, the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Minnesota Wild 4-1 at the United Center in yesterday’s DtFR Game of the Day.

Only one goal apiece was struck in the first two periods, and they both belonged to Kane. The first period’s marker – a Kane (F Nick Schmaltz and F Artem Anisimov) slap shot – was struck with 9:04 remaining in the frame. Showtime (D Jordan Oesterle and D Duncan Keith) scored again with 4:24 remaining in the second period with a wrist shot that proved to be the game-winner.

Coming off the bench, Kane was simply fortunate to be the beneficiary of a stellar Oesterle pass that crossed both blue lines. That pass, which extended well beyond 50 feet, set Kane up for a one-on-one scenario against G Alex Stalock, and he took advantage to beat the backup’s five hole to the left post.

Thanks to Third Star RW Ryan Hartman‘s unassisted wrister 1:41 into the third period, the Hawks earned themselves a three-goal advantage, but D Mathew Dumba (D Ryan Suter and F Charlie Coyle) was able to pull the Wild back within a two-goal deficit 4:15 later. That’s as close as Minnesota could get however, and F Tommy Wingels set the 4-1 final score with an unassisted shorthanded backhanded shot with four minutes remaining in the game.

Second Star G Corey Crawford earned the victory after saving 27-of-28 shots faced (.964 save percentage), leaving the loss to Stalock, who saved 42-of-45 (.933).

Home teams in the DtFR Game of the Day series have rediscovered their winning ways, as Chicago’s victory was the hosts’ third-straight. That has improved the homers’ record in the series to 42-24-9, 18 points better than the visitors.

October 17 – Day Six – Someone must lose

Up until last night, the Edmonton Oilers had been a fun, high-flying offense. Then Buffalo gave them a taste of their own medicine, beating them 6-2 in yesterday’s Game of the Day.

2:37 after taking the ice for the first time this season, Kyle Okposo (Sam Reinhart and First Star of the Game Ryan O’Reilly) scored the first goal of the game, followed 4:37 later by O’Reilly (Okposo and Rasmus Ristolainen) doubling the Sabres‘ lead. The first period ended tied though, as Benoit Pouliot (Zack Kassian and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins) and Milan Lucic (Third Star Leon Draisaitl and Jordan Eberle) scored 100 seconds apart before the first intermission.

Buffalo continued their trend of scoring twice a period in both the second and third frames. O’Reilly (Ristolainen and Cody Franson) takes credit for the winner, with Marcus Foligno (A), Second Star Brian Gionta (2G), Johan Larsson (A), Jake McCabe (A), Matt Moulson (G), O’Reilly (A) and Ristolainen (A) all participating in the three insurance tallies.

Robin Lehner earns the victory after saving 31-of-33 (93.9%) shots faced, while Cam Talbot takes the loss after saving 17-of-23 (73.9%). He was replaced with 10:04 to go by Jonas Gustavsson, who saved the lone shot he faced for no decision.

Although the road team won this time, the home squads still own a 5-3-0 record and a two-point lead over the roadies in the DtFR Game of the Day series.

We’ve got four games to choose from this evening, starting with two at 7 p.m. (San Jose at the New York Rangers [NHLN] and Colorado at Pittsburgh [SN1]). Ottawa visits Detroit half an hour later (RDSI), and the night starts to find its end at 8 p.m. with Boston at Winnipeg (TVAS). All times eastern.

I must admit, none of the games are extremely enticing. Ottawa at Detroit is the only contest between teams of the same conference, but the Red Wings would probably prefer we didn’t watch them right now. Although it is early in the season, Colorado at Pittsburgh is the lone game between undefeated teams, so we’ll head to the Steel City.

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The Avalanche come to PPG Paints Arena owning an incredible 1-0-0 record. Their lone game so far this season was a 6-5 barn-burner against the Dallas Stars at the Pepsi Center. Tyson Barrie‘s then-unassisted insurance goal with 6:03 remaining in the game ended up being the game-winner Saturday night. Francois Beauchemin (2A), Joe Colborne (3G), Blake Comeau (A), Mikhail Grigorenko (A), Erik Johnson (A), Gabriel Landeskog (A), Nathan MacKinnon (G/A), Carl Soderberg (G), Patrick Wiercioch (A) and Nikita Zadorov (A) all participated in the scoring explosion.

In addition to their opening thriller against the Washington Capitals, the Penguins have also bested the Anaheim Ducks without leaving the comforts of home. Phil Kessel (Patric Hornqvist) takes credit for the game-winner 2:02 before the halfway point of the contest. Ian Cole (G), Matt Cullen (A), Trevor Daley (A), Chris Kunitz (A), Evgeni Malkin (A) and Conor Sheary (G) all earned the honor of being listed on the score sheet.

Some players to keep an eye on include Colorado‘s Colborne (three goals [tied for third-most in the league]) and Pittsburgh‘s Marc-Andre Fleury (two wins [tied for the league-lead] and a .948 save percentage [fifth-best in the NHL]).

Last season, Pittsburgh won both games against the Avalanche by a combined 8-5 score. It was the first time either team had swept the other since 2012, which capped a four-game winning streak by the Penguins over Colorado over the span of three seasons.

The Pens opened in Vegas favored at -155, and bettors have continued to bet against the visitors. Although the Avs outscored one of the most potent offenses from the comforts of home, I have a hard time believing they can duplicate that success against a Pittsburgh team with a better defense and goaltender. I pick the Pens to win by at least two goals.

Hockey Birthday

  • Francis Bouillon (1975-) – Bouillon played 776 games over 14 seasons in the NHL, 581 of which were with the Montréal Canadiens. Though only 5′ 8″,  Bouillon was always in the thick of things and helped the Habs  reach the playoffs six times during his tenure.

March 24 – Day 161 – All the wildcards

The New York Rangers made easy work of Boston in yesterday’s Game of the Day, beating them 5-2.

Two unanswered power play goals in the first period set the tone for the Rangers.  The first found the back of the net at the 8:37 mark, scored on a Mats Zuccarello wrister, assisted by Third Star of the Game Keith Yandle and First Star Derek Stepan.  3:02 later, Stepan scored his own goal after assists from Yandle (his 37th helper of the season) and Second Star Henrik Lundqvist.  The Blueshirts‘ two goal shutout lead held into the intermission.

5:26 after resuming play, Derick Brassard scored the eventual game-winner (his 26th tally of the season), assisted by Kevin Klein and Jesper Fast.  Boston finally scored 26 seconds before the midway point of both the period and the game courtesy of a Lee Stempniak wrister, assisted by Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron (his 34th helper of the season).  The 3-1 Rangers lead held into the second intermission.

New York took control of the scoring again 6:32 after returning to the ice, as J.T. Miller’s wrister crossed the goal line after assists from Stepan and Zuccarello (his 32nd helper of the season).  Frank Vatrano scored 5:34 later for the Bruins on a snap shot, assisted by Loui Eriksson (his 28th helper of the season) and Zdeno Chara.  The final goal of the game was scored with 2:53 remaining, scored by Rick Nash on an empty net.

Lundqvist earns the win after saving 39 of 41 shots faced (95.1%), while Jonas Gustavsson takes the loss, saving 13 of 15 (86.7%).  He replaced Tuukka Rask after the first intermission, as Rask saved only six of eight shots faced (75%).

The third straight home win sets the DtFR Game of the Day series at 73-41-17, favoring the home squads by 35 points over the roadies.

Yesterday’s reprieve sets us up for an exciting Thursday schedule.  Three games drop the puck at 7 p.m. eastern (Florida at Boston [TVAS], New Jersey at Pittsburgh and Carolina at Columbus), followed half an hour later by two more (Anaheim at Toronto and Montréal at Detroit [NHLN/RDS]).  Another trio gets started at 8 p.m. eastern (Vancouver at Nashville [SN360], Calgary at Minnesota and Los Angeles at Winnipeg), with Philadelphia at Colorado trailing an hour later.  Dallas at Arizona gets its start at 10 p.m. eastern, and Edmonton at San Jose, this evening’s nightcap, follows 30 minutes later.

Five of the 11 games taking place tonight are division rivalries (Florida at Boston, New Jersey at Pittsburgh, Carolina at Columbus, Montréal at Detroit and Edmonton at San Jose), but only Florida at Boston is between teams currently qualifying for the playoffs.

You might think I’d choose the PanthersBruins game, but since that one doesn’t have immediate impact on the standings, I’m more interested in Philadelphia at Colorado.

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In addition to both appearing in the Game of the Day series six times before tonight’s game, both Philadelphia and Colorado own 4-2-0 records in those games.  Philadelphia was last featured Saturday in their 4-1 home loss to the rival Penguins, and Colorado last played in the series March 1, a 6-3 loss in Minnesota.

The 35-24-13 Philadelphia Flyers currently occupy fifth in the Metropolitan Division and eighth in the Eastern Conference, good enough for the second wildcard spot.  To get into that position, they’ve played the 15th best defense, but it’s been backed by the 10th worst offense.  A more in-depth breakdown of Philly‘s game can be found within Saturday’s article.

The Flyers last played to a 3-2 shootout loss in Columbus on Tuesday.  A win tonight for the Flyers is very important, as the Red Wings are also in action this evening, and playing Montréal to boot – a much weaker opponent than the Avalanche.  An added bonus to winning is pulling within two points of the idle Islanders for the first wildcard spot.

The  38-31-4 Colorado Avalanche are currently sixth in the Central Division and ninth in the Western Conference, making them the first team left out of the playoff picture.  Offense has led the way, as they rank 14th best in scoring, but 11th worst in defense.

The injured Nathan MacKinnon’s 245 shots have led the Avalanche to firing the puck only 2108 times, but 9.2% have found the back of the net for 198 goals (led by Matt Duchene’s 29 tallies), the 14th most in the league.  They step up the pressure on the power play, as Colorado‘s 19.41% success rate, good for 46 power play goals (led by Jarome Iginla’s dozen extra man tallies), ranks 11th best in the NHL.

Even with Francois Beauchemin’s 236 blocks, the Avs have allowed a whopping 2317 shots to reach 26-18-3 Semyon Varlamov and co., of which they’ve collectively saved 91.8% for 204 goals against, the 11th most in the league.  Although the defense as a whole hasn’t been that strong, Colorado definitely clamps down on the penalty kill, neutralizing 82.1% of their penalties for 41 power play goals against, the ninth best rate in the league.  Further improving on that solid rate, the Avalanche have also scored seven shorthanded goals, two more than the league average.

The Avalanche are currently riding a three game winning streak, with their most recent being Sunday’s 3-2 win in Edmonton.  Just like Philadelphia, Colorado‘s main playoff competition, the Minnesota Wild, is playing this evening against a weaker opponent, the Calgary Flames.  As the Wild have only a one point lead over the Avs, a Colorado win paired with anything less than a Wild win would propel Colorado into the second wildcard.

Colorado has already made their yearly visit to Philadelphia, and they certainly enjoyed their time in the City of Brotherly Love, winning on a four-goal shutout on November 10.

Some players to keep an eye on include Colorado‘s Duchene (56 points, 29 of which are goals, with 21 at even strength [all lead the team]) and Philadelphia‘s Michal Neuvirth (.925 save percentage [fifth best in the league] and 2.28 GAA [10th best in the league]).

Colorado seems to be the better team, both statistically and given their three game winning streak.  Add that in with the fact that they are hosting this evening’s contest, it should be an Avalanche winner.

March 1 – Day 138 – A Wild wildcard push

It took overtime, but Detroit was able to beat one of the best offenses in the league 3-2 in Dallas in yesterday’s Game of the Day.

It took 31:50 of play before Detroit struck the first goal, courtesy of an Second Star of the Game Andreas Athanasiou wrister, assisted by Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist, but their lead lasted only 5:42 before Colton Sceviour leveled the scored, assisted by Third Star Vernon Fiddler and Alex Goligoski (his 22nd helper of the season).  The one-all score held into the second intermission.

6:38 after resuming play, Athanasiou scored his second of the night, assisted by Mike Green (his 18th helper of the season) and Luke Glendening.  The score was again leveled, but not until only 1:31 remained in regulation.  Fiddler takes the credit, assisted by Ales Hemsky and Jason Demers, and his goal sent the game to overtime.

Thanks to a Mattias Janmark hooking penalty, Detroit earned a four-on-three power play, which they used to their advantage to win the game on First Star Pavel Datsyuk’s 13th score of the season.

Jimmy Howard earns the win after saving 39 of 41 (95.1%), while Antti Niemi takes the loss, saving 30 of 33 (90.9%).

The DtFR Game of the Day series now stands at 61-34-13, favoring the home squads by 30 points over the roadies.

It’s a busy Tuesday in the NHL, with a solid nine games on tap.   Two games drop the puck at 7 p.m. eastern (Calgary at Boston and Carolina at New Jersey), followed half an hour later by three more (Pittsburgh at Washington [NBCSN], Edmonton at Buffalo and St. Louis at Ottawa).  Another trio drops the puck at 8 p.m. eastern (Dallas at Nashville, Colorado at Minnesota and Florida at Winnipeg), with this evening’s nightcap, the New York Islanders at Vancouver, beginning at 10 p.m. eastern.

Four of tonight’s games are divisional rivalries (Carolina at New Jersey, Pittsburgh at Washington, Dallas at Nashville and Colorado at Minnesota), and only two are between teams currently qualifying for the playoffs (Pittsburgh at Washington and Dallas at Nashville).

Usually, I would choose either the PittsburghWashington or the DallasNashville game, but there’s an even bigger game, a battle for the second wildcard spot, going on this evening in the Xcel Energy Center.

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Tonight’s game will be Colorado‘s sixth in the Game of the Day series, where they currently own a 4-1-0 record.  Their most recent showing in our series was January 27, a 4-3 victory in Los Angeles.  Minnesota has been featured seven times before this evening, and own a 4-3-0 record in such games.  They were last featured January 3 when they lost 2-1 in Florida.

The 32-28-4 Colorado Avalanche currently occupy fifth in the Central Division and eighth in the Western Conference, good enough for the second wildcard position.  It has been their top-10 offense that has led them to that position, and it has been necessary – the defense is eighth-worst.

Even with Nathan MacKinnon’s 220 shots, the Avs have fired the puck only 1826 times, but 9.3% have found the back of the net for 172 goals (led by Matt Duchene’s 26 tallies), ninth-most in the league.  The most exciting thing about this offense is that they do not rely on the power play, as Colorado connects on only 19.07% of opportunities for 41 goals (led by Jarome Iginla’s 11 extra-man tallies), only the 13th-best in the league.

It has been a good thing Colorado has found such success on the offensive end, because the defense has been… lacking.  Even with Francois Beauchemin’s 195 blocks, Colorado has allowed 2016 shots to reach 22-17-3 Semyon Varlamov and co., of which they’ve collectively saved 91.6% for 181 goals against, eighth-most in the league.  The defensive special teams have clamped down a little bit more, as they kill off 80.2% of penalties for 40 power play goals against, 12th-worst in the league.  To make up for that, the Avalanche have scored seven short-handed goals, two more than the league average.

The Avalanche last played Saturday at Coors Field, where they fell 5-3 at the hands of the Red Wings.  With a regulation win over the Wild this evening, they not only improve their lead over ninth place to four points, they also have the potential to pull within three points of first wildcard Nashville should they lose to the Stars.

The 28-25-10 Minnesota Wild currently occupy sixth place in the Central Division and ninth in the Western Conference.  While that may be good enough to get them ‘first team out’ status, close counts only in horseshoes and hand grenades, so management has done all they can to get the state of hockey another playoff birth.

So far this season, they’ve been led by their defense.  Jared Spurgeon has 125 blocks to his credit, which has helped lead the Wild to allowing only 1801 shots to reach 22-21-5 Devan Dubnyk and co., of which they’ve collectively saved 91.8% for 159 goals against, 12th-fewest in the league.  The overall defense hasn’t gotten much help from the special teams, as the Wild kill only 76.88% of their penalties for 37 power play goals against, the third-worst rate in the NHL.  To slightly lessen the effects of those stats, Minnesota has scored six short-handed goals, led by Erik Haula’s two.

Even with Zach Parise’s 182 shots, the Wild have only managed to fire the puck 1844 times, with 8.9% finding the back of the net for 164 goals (led by Charlie Coyle’s 19 tallies), 13th-fewest in the league.  The power play has been slightly better, capitalizing on 18.59% of opposing penalties for 37 power play goals (led by Mikko Koivu’s seven extra-man tallies), the 14th-best rate in the league.

With a win this evening, the Minnesota Wild will propel themselves into the second wildcard position by virtue of one fewer game played than Colorado.  If they lose, Minnesota‘s lead over 10th place could slip to four points if Vancouver beats the Islanders.

Minnesota has yet to lose in regulation in the season series, and as such, lead it 2-0-1.  That being said, it was the last meeting between these squads that Colorado was able to earn two points, as they won the back half of a home-and-home series on December 7 2-1 in overtime.

Some players to keep an eye on in tonight’s game include Colorado‘s Duchene (26 goals [tied for ninth-most in the league]) and Minnesota‘s Koivu (43 points, 22 of which are even-strength assists and seven are power play goals [all lead the team]).

Seeing as Minnesota is the more balanced of these teams and they have the home ice advantage, I think the Wild beat the Avalanche and re-enter the playoff picture for the first time in months.

January 20 – Day 102 – We ain’t talking about no auto shop

Thanks to a two-goal third period to seal the deal, the Boston Bruins have won their third in a row after beating the Canadiens 4-1 in Montréal in yesterday’s Game of the Day.

The only goal of the first period occurred at the 13:08 mark, courtesy of Max Talbot, his second of the season.

The Habs leveled the score at one-all 8:48 after resuming play with Third Star of the Game Mark Barberio’s first goal of the season, assisted by P.K. Subban (his 30th helper of the season) and David Desharnais, but the Bruins were able to take the lead again 3:11 before the second intermission with First Star Patrice Bergeron’s game-winner (his 18th goal of the season), assisted by David Pastrnak and Dennis Seidenberg.

Boston scored their first insurance goal of the evening at the 12:14 mark of the final period, scored by Pastrnak (his fourth tally of the season) and assisted by Zac Rinaldo and Joe Morrow.  The final goal was an empty netter from Brad Marchand, assisted by Loui Eriksson (his 23rd helper of the season), setting the score at the 4-1 final.

Second Star Tuukka Rask improves his record to 16-13-4 after saving 38 of 39 (97.4%), while Mike Condon’s falls to 12-12-4 after saving only 20 of 23 (87%).

The DtFR Game of the Day series now stands at 43-20-9, favoring the home squad by 31 points over the roadies.

A busy Tuesday schedule makes way for a light Wednesday, as their are only three games taking place today.  The action gets started at 8 p.m. eastern when St. Louis visits their old friends in Detroit (NBCSN/TVAS/SN), followed two hours later by Buffalo at Colorado (BELL TV).  This evening’s nightcap drops the puck at 10:30 p.m. eastern, when Minnesota visits Anaheim (NBCSN/SN).

There are no division rivalries being played tonight, and St. Louis at Detroit represents the only matchup between teams currently qualifying for the playoffs.

While the BluesRed Wings game would be fun for a variety of reasons (Speaking of, I have not featured the Red Wings enough this season… We’ll consider that a note for another day), I’m attracted to another game tonight, as Buffalo visits the Mile High City with a couple of old friends.

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Tonight’s game will only be Buffalo‘s second appearance in the Game of the Day series, with their only other showing being a 4-3 loss in Pittsburgh on October 29.  Colorado has been featured twice before tonight, and own a 1-1-0 record in the series.  Their most recent game with our attention was 6-3 loss in Chicago on January 10.

With the Sabres visiting Colorado this evening, Jamie McGinn and Ryan O’Reilly will be making their first appearances in the Pepsi Center since being traded during the 2015 Entry Draft.

McGinn spent a total of 162 games over four seasons with the Avs, with his best season by far being his 2013-’14 campaign in which he scored 38 points (evenly split between assists and goals) and helped Colorado to their first division title in 11 years, although they could not advance beyond the first round after a 4-3 overtime loss to Minnesota on home ice.

O’Reilly had a longer career in Colorado, playing 427 games over six seasons.  Similar to McGinn, O’Reilly’s best season was the division championship campaign, where he scored 28 goals and 36 assists for 64 points with a 13.9% season shooting percentage, his best to date, although he has the potential to best that stat with a current 15.6% this season.  That strong shooting percentage is what he’s used to lead his team in scoring, with 17 goals to his credit.

The 19-23-4 Buffalo Sabres currently sit in seventh place in the Atlantic Division and 14th in the Eastern Conference.  Their success has been found on the defensive end, although they are still below-average in that end.

Even with Josh Gorges’ team-leading 98 blocks, Buffalo has allowed 1372 shots to reach 12-12-2 Chad Johnson and co., of which they’ve collectively saved 91.8% for 120 goals against, 13th-most in the league.  The first step in improving this defense should be to beef up the penalty kill, as the special teams have only killed 79.28% of opposing power plays for 23 goals against (four below the league average).

The offense has been the main thing holding the Sabres back this season.  Led by Jack Eichel’s 143 shots, Buffalo has fired the puck 1368 times, of which only 7.7% have found the back of the net for 106 goals (led by O’Reilly’s 17 tallies), fourth-fewest in the league.  Although the offense as a whole has not found much success, the Sabres‘ power play has still been strong, scoring on 20.41% of opportunities for 30 goals (led by O’Reilly’s seven tallies).

The Sabres are currently riding two-game win streak, with their most recent being a 2-1 victory in Arizona on Monday.  A win tonight might do more harm than good at this point in the season, as it will take a miracle for Buffalo to qualify for the playoffs.

The 23-21-3 Colorado Avalanche currently occupy fifth place in the Central Division and eighth in the Western Conference, good enough to qualify them for the second wild card position.  The Avs play one of the top-five offenses in the league, but have not been able put their opponents away due also having a bottom-ten defense.

Even with Nathan MacKinnon’s 157 shots, Colorado has fired the puck only 1337 times, of which 9.8% have found the back of the net for 131 goals (led by Matt Duchene’s 22 tallies), fifth-most in the NHL.  Colorado‘s power play is slightly better than Buffalo‘s, as they’ve scored on 20.89% of opportunities for 33 goals (led by Jarome Iginla’s seven extra-man tallies).  That stat does come with a qualifier though, as the Avs have given up five shorthanded goals this season, two more than the league average.

As good as the offense has been, it’s a shame Colorado hasn’t done much to improve the blue line.  Although Francois Beauchemin has 143 blocks to his credit, 1454 shots have made their way to 16-12-3 Semyon Varlamov and co., of which they’ve collectively saved 91.5% for 130 goals against, seventh-most in the league.  The shining spot for this defense has been their penalty kill, as not only have they killed 80.54% for 29 power play goals against, but they’ve also scored four shorthanded goals, led by Blake Comeau’s two.

The Avalanche won their most recent game 2-1 in Winnipeg on Monday.  A Colorado win has the potential to pull them within a game of Minnesota for the first wild card spot, but a regulation loss allows Vancouver to take their spot in the second wild card position.

Some players to watch include Buffalo‘s O’Reilly (39 points, including 17 goals, 10 of which were at even-strength, with the remaining seven being power play tallies [all lead the team]) and Colorado‘s Duchene (22 goals [tied for sixth-most in the league]).

Based on standings alone, you’d like to think the Avs would win this game regardless of location, but that defense does not leave me with a good taste in my mouth.  I think I’ll pick Colorado, but I believe it will be a nail-biter.

January 10 – Day 92 – A streak must end tonight

It may have taken overtime, but the Washington Capitals were able to complete their weekend-sweep of New York City-based teams, as they knocked off the Rangers with a 4-3 victory.

The first two periods had only a goal each, both scored by the Caps.  The first period tally is compliments of none other than First Star of the Game Alex Ovechkin, a power play goal with only 15 seconds remaining before intermission.

Washington‘s second goal of the night came a little bit quicker, only 3:56 after resuming play.  Nate Schmidt assisted Justin Williams to his 12th goal of the year to set the score the score at 2-0.

Although the Caps entered the period with the lead, it took a late goal to get the game into overtime.  Oscar Lindberg and the Blueshirts got on the board 5:54 after resuming play after assists from Dominic Moore and Ryan McDonagh, his 13th helper of the season.  Twelve seconds before the midway point of the period, Third Star McDonagh and Derick Brassard (his 16th assist of the year) assisted Kevin Hayes to level the score at two-all.  New York‘s go-ahead goal crossed the goal line at the 13:11 mark, scored by Viktor Stalberg after assists from Keith Yandle (his 20th of the season) and Kevin Hayes.  The Rangers got within six seconds of the victory, but Washington had different plans, as Second Star Nicklas Backstrom scored a game-tying goal after assists from Williams and Matt Niskanen (his 16th helper of the season).

The overtime period lasted only until 1:25 before Nate Schmidt assisted Ovechkin to the 24th goal of his season, and the 499th of his career to earn the Capitals the bonus point.

Braden Holtby improves his record to 27-4-2 after saving 23 of 26 (88.5%), while Henrik Lundqvist’s record falls to 18-11-4 after saving 27 of 31 (87.1%).

The DtFR Game of the Day series now stands at 35-19-8, favoring the home squad by 20 points over the roadies.

The second weekend of the new year is completed with six games being played this Sunday.  Only one matinee game is being played, with Buffalo visiting Winnipeg (BELL TV) at 3 p.m. eastern.  Two games get started at the usual 7 p.m. eastern (Ottawa at Washington [TVAS/SN] and Colorado at Chicago), followed an hour later by a couple more (New Jersey at Minnesota [NBCSN] and Detroit at Anaheim).  The final game of the night gets started at 9:30 p.m. eastern when Florida visits Edmonton (SN1).

Colorado at Chicago represents not only the only divisional matchup of the evening, but also the only game between teams both qualifying for the playoffs.  Especially since I’ve been wanting to write about the Avs for a while, lets take a look at that game.

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Tonight’s game is only Colorado‘s second appearance in the DtFR Game of the Day series, with their first being a three-goal shutout victory in Anaheim on October 16.  On the other hand, Chicago has been featured a series-leading 12 times, and host a 6-4-1 record in such games.  Their most recent showing was a 3-2 overtime victory in Pittsburgh on Tuesday.

The 21-18-3 Colorado Avalanche currently sit in fifth place in the Central Division and seventh in the Western Conference, good enough to qualify them for the second wild card position over the Nashville Predators (Colorado wins on regulation+overtime wins).  To get to this position, they’ve utilized one of the best offenses in the league to compensate for a less-exemplary defense.

So far this season, the Avs have put only fired the puck 1189 times (led by Nathan MacKinnon’s 137), of which a whopping 10.3% have found the back of the net for 122 goals (led by Matt Duchene’s 19 tallies), third-most in the NHL.  That sharp-shooting success has followed them to the power play, where Colorado has converted 21.77% of their 147 opportunities for 32 goals.  This success is good, but it comes with a catch – the Avalanche has already given up five short-handed goals this season, two more than the league average.

The offense has been necessary to cover up some less-than-ideal play on the defensive end.  Although Francois Beauchemin has 125 blocks to his credit, 1296 shots have still made their way to 15-10-3 Semyon Varlamov and co., who’ve collectively saved an average 91.5% for 117 goals against, seventh-most in the league.  The average, if not less-than, defensive play has continued to the penalty kill, where Colorado has killed only 79.26% of opposing attempts (1.61% below the league average) for 28 power play goals against.

Colorado is currently riding a three-game winning streak, with their most recent being a 5-3 victory over the Predators on Friday.

The 26-13-4 Chicago Blackhawks currently sit in second place in both the Central Division and the Western Conference, trailing the Dallas Stars by six points with a game in hand.  As indicated by their place in the standings, they are one of the strongest teams in the Conference, playing a balanced, strongly competitive game.  You can read more about their style of play here.

Chicago is currently riding a six-game win streak, with their most recent being a 3-1 win over the Sabres on Friday.

Some players to watch in tonight’s game include Chicago‘s Corey Crawford (six shutouts [leads the league], 22 wins [third-best in the league] and .927 save percentage [ninth-best in the league]) and Patrick Kane (60 points [leads the league], 37 assists [leads the league], +20 [third-best in the league] and 23 goals [fifth-best in the league]) & Colorado‘s Duchene (19 goals [tied for seventh-best in the league]).

Tonight’s meeting will be the third in the four-game season series, and the second in the Windy City.  Colorado currently leads the series 1-0-1, thanks to a three-goal shutout victory in the United Center on December 15, followed by a 4-3 overtime Blackhawks winner on New Year’s Eve in Denver.

It will be a tall task for the Avalanche to pull off the upset in the United Center tonight.  Not only are they playing on the road, but the Hawks‘ offense should be able to shred the Avs‘ defense and goaltending.  While I always like to pull underdog, I gotta go with Chicago taking the win.

October 16 – Day 10 – Beach u to it (yeah, that was super lame)

Last night’s Game of the Day between the Blueshirts and Habs ended in a three-goal shutout for Montréal, earning them their best start (5-0-0) in their illustrious franchise history.

The Habs earned their first goal after almost 29 minutes of scoreless play when Tomas Fleischmann scored his second goal of the year, the eventual game winner, off an assist from David Desharnais.  Both were involved in the first insurance goal of the game, assisting Dale Weise to his first season of the season with little more than two minutes remaining in the game.  The final goal was fired by Tomas Plekanec into an empty net in the final minute of action.

Carey Price earned the shutout victory by stopping all 25 Rangers shots, while Henrik Lundqvist only stopped 29 of 31 (93.5%).

Don’t let the Canadiens (or Maple Leafs fans!) know now, but in addition to having the best start ever, they also have a little bit of history on their side.  The franchise has begun their season at 4-0-0 three times before, and all three of those seasons ended with the Stanley Cup living in The City of Saints for the year.

The DtFR Game of the Day series now stands at a 5-4 advantage for the home squad after the third straight shutout.

Tonight, there’s seven games on the schedule.  The evening gets started at 7 p.m. eastern when San Jose visits New Jersey and Toronto visits Columbus.  Half an hour later, the Canes visit the Wings.  At 8 p.m. eastern, Calgary visits Winnipeg.  Starting at 10 p.m. eastern are St. Louis at Vancouver and Colorado at Anaheim.  Finally, Minnesota and Los Angeles drop the puck at 10:30 p.m. eastern.

There are a few significant returns tonight, including Calgary‘s Michael Frolik to Winnipeg and San Jose coach Peter DeBoer to New Jersey.  That being said, there is one that stands out even more: Francois Beauchemin, current defenseman for the Colorado Avalanche, is returning to the Pond, a place he has called home twice for a combined 9 seasons (approximately) of his 14+ year career.  Because of this, Colorado at Anaheim is today’s Game of the Day.

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How funny that the first game he’s played against Anaheim since January 20, 2011 (when he was a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs) is with the very team he made his Ducks debut against (of course, they were then the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim)!  It was on November 18, 2005 that Beauchemin played his first game for the Ducks, against the Colorado Avalanche.

Beauchemin was a part of Anaheim‘s lone Stanley Cup squad in the 2006-’07 season.  During those playoffs, he scored four goals (seventh on team) (all of them were power play goals, a stat in which he was second best on the team), eight points (tied for 10th on team), a +2 Corsi rating (tied for 10th on team) and four assists (tied for 11th on team).

Beauchemin still owns a few records on the Ducks‘ books, including being tied for the most playoff game appearances (97) with Ryan Getzlaf, the fourth most playoff points (39) and playoff assists (29), the seventh most playoff goals (10) and the 10th most regular season assists (126).

So far this season with the Avs, Beauchemin has had positive effects on his new club.  He has brought his penchant for assists to Colorado, already notching five in only three games played, which is best on the team and third best in the league (10th best in league in points).

The line currently reads -176 for Anaheim, but both teams have lost two of their three games to start the season and will try to use this matchup to restart their seasons.  That being said, I expect the Ducks to hold their own and earn their first win of the season in what should be a great game.