The DTFR Duo breaks down Jimmy Howard’s one-year extension with the Detroit Red Wings, Gritty’s allegiance in the 2019 NHL Global Series, the New York Islanders’ bottom-six dilemma, Ilya Kovalchuk’s relationship with the Los Angeles Kings, more awards and a look at how things should stack up in the Metropolitan Division for the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The DTFR Duo honors Ted Lindsay, addresses a potential outdoor game hosted by the Carolina Hurricanes, talk John Tavares’ “welcome” back to Long Island, can’t figure out the Ottawa Senators coaching change circus and more.
Jaroslav Halak stopped all 30 shots he faced and Chris Wagner had the empty net goal against his former team in the Boston Bruins’ 3-0 shutout victory over the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on Friday.
Halak (15-9-4 record, 2.35 goals against average, .923 save percentage in 30 games played) earned his 4th shutout of the season (46th career shutout) and became the 14th goaltender in Bruins franchise history to record at least four shutouts in his first season with the club.
Byron Dafoe was the last Boston goaltender to do so in his first season with the B’s, recording six shutouts in 1997-98.
Noel Acciari and Jake DeBrusk also had goals for Boston in the win.
Kevin Boyle (1-1-0, 1.52 GAA, .955 SV% in three games played) made 26 saves on 28 shots against for a .929 SV% in the loss for Anaheim.
Boston improved to 33-17-8 (74 points) on the season and remains in 3rd place in the Atlantic Division, while the Ducks fell to 22-27-9 (53 points) thus far and stayed in 7th in the Pacific Division.
The Bruins improved to 21-4-5 when scoring first this season, as well as 21-1-3 when leading after two periods. With Friday’s win, the B’s are now 12-10-5 on the road this season (including 1-0-0 on the current road trip) and 6-0-1 in the month of February.
Anaheim is now 3-16-4 since Dec. 18th with the loss on Friday. The Ducks also trailed on the scoreboard after two periods for the 29th time this season and fell to 6-21-2 in that span.
Bruce Cassidy didn’t make any changes to his lineup from Tuesday, but indicated prior to Thursday’s practice in Anaheim that Karson Kuhlman would make his NHL debut on Saturday against the Los Angeles Kings and Matt Grzelcyk (lower body) would return to the lineup as well.
Kuhlman was recalled from the Providence Bruins (AHL) prior to the B’s departure for their current road trip with David Pastrnak (left thumb) out of the action.
Steven Kampfer remains on conditioning loan to Providence and technically a healthy scratch for the Bruins on Friday.
Early in the first period, Brandon Carlo ripped a slap shot from the point that was tipped in by Acciari (2) to give Boston the, 1-0, lead at 5:31 of the opening frame.
Carlo (3) and Sean Kuraly (9) had the assists on the goal.
Entering the first intermission, despite leading on the scoreboard, the B’s trailed the Ducks, 11-8, in shots on goal.
Nine seconds into the ensuing skater advantage, DeBrusk (16) buried a rebound to give Boston a two-goal lead on the power play.
DeBrusk tied his career-high in goals– set last season– and now has goals in back-to-back games after a 13-game goalless drought prior to Tuesday night against the Chicago Blackhawks.
14 seconds after Boston capitalized on their first power play of the night, Brandon Montour got a stick up high on Peter Cehlarik and cut a rut to the penalty box, leaving the B’s with their second power play opportunity of the game.
The Bruins were not able to convert on Montour’s penalty.
Moments later, Wagner was penalized for interference at 8:57 of the middle frame, giving the Ducks their first look on the power play of the night.
The Ducks amassed three shots on goal through almost four minutes on the power play and could not beat Halak.
Through 40 minutes of play, the Bruins led, 2-0, on the scoreboard, despite trailing Anaheim in shots on goal (22-17). Boston held the advantage in giveaways (12-7) and face-off win percentage (61-39), while the Ducks led in blocked shots (12-8) and hits (19-16).
Both teams had four takeaways aside as Anaheim went 0/2 and Boston went 1/2 on the power play heading into the 3rd period.
Derek Grant jumpstarted the action in the third period with a holding penalty at 1:13, but the Bruins were not able to convert on the resulting power play.
Instead, shortly after the power play expired, Moore bumped into Boyle and received a two-minute fraction for goaltender inference at 13:05 of the third period.
The Ducks did not muster any offense on the ensuing power play.
Interim head coach (and current Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Ducks), Bob Murray, pulled his goaltender with about two minutes remaining in regulation for the extra attacker, but it was too little, too late.
Especially more so after Wagner (7) put the game away with his empty net goal at 18:29. Kuraly (10) and Zdeno Chara (6) collected the assists on Wagner’s goal against his former team.
The goal also tied Wagner’s career-high for most goals in a season (seven) and was the 13th empty net goal allowed by the Ducks in the 2018-19 regular season.
At the final horn, Boston had defeated Anaheim, 3-0.
Though the Ducks actually led the Bruins all night in shots on goal (finishing with a, 30-29, advantage), they could not beat the B’s defense and Halak.
Anaheim finished the night leading in blocked shots (16-13) and hits (27-22), while Boston led in giveaways (14-12) and face-off win% (65-35).
The Ducks went 0/3 on the skater advantage and the B’s finished Friday 1/4 on the power play.
The Bruins are now on a four-game winning streak as they continue their two-week road trip against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday, then pay a visit to the San Jose Sharks on Monday, before swinging through the Vegas Golden Knights (Feb. 20th) and St. Louis Blues (Feb. 23rd).
Boston’s next home game this month is Feb. 26th against the Sharks.
Evgeni Malkin did a bad thing, the 2019 NWHL All-Star Game broke attendance records and more trades happened in the NHL. Patrice Bergeron reached 1,000 games and David Pastrnak is injured for the Boston Bruins leaving Nick in a glass case of emotion.
Plus, Eugene Melnyk plans to spend money, the Tampa Bay Lightning have a new alternate sweater, Randy Carlyle was fired and Scott Niedermayer will have his number retired (again) this week. Finally, Connor has a new segment.
The Edmonton Oilers fired their president of hockey operations and General Manager, Peter Chiarelli (April 2015-January 2019). The club officially made the announcement after the DTFR Duo finished recording this week’s episode.
There won’t be a 2020 World Cup of Hockey and there were a few milestones to go along with a bunch of minor trades made this week.
Thoughts on the conclusion and controversies of the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship, as well as a look at the schedule around the league as we near the All-Star Weekend festivities and bye week(s). Nick puts Connor on the spot and asks him some trivia questions that only went so well.
More on the Arizona Coyotes latest debacle with Seattle expansion looming, Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith did something never done before, the Calgary Flames rise in the Western Conference and the St. Louis Blues dismal season. Bob Murray and the Anaheim Ducks made a few moves– signing Murray to an extension, claiming Chad Johnson off waivers and a minor trade.
Plus, Nick and Connor review the last 15 years of first round picks by the Pittsburgh Penguins and do a deep dive on their future and what it might look like.
44-25-13, 101 points, 2nd in the Pacific Division
Swept in the First Round by San Jose, 4-0
Subtractions: D Francois Beauchemin (retired), G Reto Berra (signed, Switzerland), F Jared Boll (retired), F J.T. Brown (signed with MIN), F Derek Grant (signed with PIT), F Chris Kelly (retired), F Nicolas Kerdiles (traded to WPG), F Mike Liambas (signed with MIN), F Andre Petersson (signed, KHL), F Corey Tropp (signed with San Diego Gulls, AHL)
Offseason Analysis: Despite finishing one point ahead of the San Jose Sharks in the final standings at the end of the regular season, the Sharks took a bite out of the Anaheim Ducks in the First Round of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. So much of a bite, in fact, it swept the Ducks off their feet.
Get it? Because they got swept in the postseason.
Despite winning the Cup with Randy Carlyle behind the bench in 2007, Anaheim needs to recognize just how much has changed in the last 11 years. The Ducks got back with their ex and fell into their old habits in a new-age game.
Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler aren’t the players they used to be. It’s not that Perry can’t score, it’s just that he’s not as effective. As for the Ryans (Getzlaf and Kesler), one’s still existent (Getzlaf) though he’d be much better on the second or third line– or at least flanked by youth on his wings– and the other (Kesler) has become irrelevant.
Brian Gibbons and Carter Rowney are fourth liners, so depth down the bottom-six is covered, at least. Meanwhile Luke Schenn and Andrej Sustr provide excellent coverage as sixth defensemen fighting for the last spot on Anaheim’s blue line, which is one of two bright spots for the Ducks heading into 2018-19.
Anaheim’s defensive core is strong with Hampus Lindholm, Josh Manson, Cam Fowler and Brandon Montour as their top-four defenders. As one of the most under-the-radar defensive core, they’ve kept John Gibson‘s workload to a manageable– wait, actually, Gibson faced 435 shots more in eight additional games last season than he did in 2016-17.
For the record, Gibson faced 1,437 shots against in 52 games (25-16-9 record) in 2016-17, while he faced 1,872 shots against in 60 games (31-18-7) last season. Though the workload increased, Gibson’s save percentage improved from a .924 to a .926. He also won over half the games he played in last season.
So Anaheim’s main strong point is the best American goaltender in the game, while having one of the better than average defenses in the game. Meanwhile, Nick Ritchie remains an unsigned RFA that Murray has to manage carefully.
Quintessential to the transition from the 2000s/2010s style Ducks to the 2020s era Ducks, the 22-year-old left winger is Anaheim’s biggest blue chip roster player outside of the crease. Ritchie is just waiting to emerge with a breakout year as Troy Terry joins the fold on offense.
The fact of the matter remains– play the kids more.
It can only help manage the workload of the physically worn out Ducks that have been around for the last decade. Perry might still produce, but it’s time to break him free from Getzlaf on the first line.
Ondrej Kase could move up a line, but Jakob Silfverberg isn’t actually the problem on the second line.
Anaheim’s in the middle of something– middle of the road, middle of a transition or middle of mediocrity. Whatever it is, they didn’t do much this offseason to fix it this season, but there’s still time to turn things around in the next few years– wait, Perry, Getzlaf and Kesler all have NMCs in their contracts that have three, three and four-years remaining respectively?
Offseason Grade: D+
No you can’t get an “A” by default after having Francois Beauchemin, Jared Boll and Chris Kelly retire in one offseason from your roster.
John Gibson might be the closest thing to Dominik Hasek that we’ve seen since Dominik Hasek led the nonchalant 1999 Buffalo Sabres (seriously, look up the scoring leaders for that team, it trails off after Miroslav Satan— shouts Puck Soup) in the dead puck/trap era to the Stanley Cup Final– that’s if Gibson single handedly leads the Ducks to the 2019 Stanley Cup Final, mind you, and the mountain looks too steep.
The theme of aquatic birds continues in DtFR’s offseason preview series, as it’s time to tackle the Anaheim Ducks’ priorities regarding their pending free agents.
Featuring a playoff roster with an average age of 28.5-years-old, logic would indicate the Ducks are in their prime. However, even though they’ve qualified for the postseason for six-straight seasons, they’ve failed to advance beyond the first round in half of those appearances – including a four-game sweep at the hands of the San Jose Sharks this April.
One of the biggest concerns about this Anaheim club is it plays an old-fashioned, grind-it-out style that simply doesn’t mesh well against the increasingly quicker and technically-sound opponents.
In simpler terms, the Ducks need to get younger and faster.
2018 NHL Entry Draft
One of the easiest ways to get younger is with a solid draft class, and Anaheim will have that opportunity with the 23rd-overall selection.
If one of the mock drafts I’ve compiled (all of which are available at Elite Prospects) are correct, I’d bet on General Manager Bob Murray selecting D Alexander Alexeyev (Red Deer Rebels), C Ryan McLeod (Mississauga Steelheads), D Rasmus Sandin (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds) or D Bode Wilde (USNTDP) with his first round selection.
If there’s one thing the Ducks’ scouts know, it’s definitely defense. Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson are all solid blueliners 26-years-old or younger that will service this organization for years to come, and I’d only expect Alexeyev, Sandin or Wilde to join the group if they’re deemed truly worthy.
That’s what makes McLeod such an attractive option. Even though the 18-year-old is all but ensured at least one more season with the Steelheads, Anaheim’s deep defense gives it the opportunity to invest in restocking its attack.
McLeod had a breakout season in 2017-18, registering 26-44-70 totals in 68 games played (1.03 points per game), followed by 2-3-5 marks in his six postseason appearances. If he can take command of the club following the potential departure of brother F Michael McLeod (12th-overall pick by New Jersey in 2016) and lead Mississauga on a deep playoff run, Anaheim could happen into a stellar young forward.
Pending free agents
Let’s tackle Anaheim’s easiest position first: goaltending. G John Gibson and G Ryan Miller are both under contract for one more season, so the Ducks will likely make no moves in this department. The most important note here is making sure Murray reserves money on the back burner for Gibson next summer (he’ll be an RFA, for those that care about those sorts of things). He currently has a touch over $9 million in cap space this season and a whopping $23 million to play with in 2019-20.
Montour’s 20:28 time on ice per game was fourth on the team, and the same can be said for his .4 points per game. At 24-years-old, he’ll be worth every penny of any contract he receives to play an imposing presence as a top-four defenseman.
Having just turned 37-years-old Saturday following a 0-8-8, -13 season in 59 games played, it’s hard to see a way Bieksa returns to Anaheim for a fourth season. That makes signing Welinski – the Ducks’ third-round pick in 2011 – to a low-cost, two-way contract all the easier to swallow.
Instead, the toughest decisions for Anaheim will be made in the forwards room. RW J.T. Brown, W Jason Chimera, C Derek Grant, W Ondrej Kase, F Chris Kelly, LW Nick Ritchie and F Antoine Vermette are all looking for contracts this summer, with all but Kase and Ritchie being of the UFA variety.
Regardless of type, Kase is by far the most important free agent on Anaheim’s plate this summer. He reached the 20-goal plateau in his second season in the NHL, and he needed only 66 games to do it. He may not compare to RW Teemu Selanne (I mean, the Finnish Flash did score 76 goals in his rookie season compared to Kase’s five), but I believe he’s fully ready to climb into a top-six position with F Rickard Rakell to lead this Ducks team when F Ryan Kesler and C Ryan Getzlaf depart.
In a similar fashion, fellow 22-year-old Ritchie should also receive a fresh deal to keep him in Orange County. While not quite the scorer Kase is (he managed only 10-17-27 totals in 76 games played this season), Ritchie is an excellent third-liner that still has more than enough time to develop into a real weapon from his position. Get him a bridge deal for a cap hit under $1.25 million and move on.
Anaheim’s most important UFA is Grant, a player that provided 12-12-24 totals in 66 appearances this season from his position on the fourth line. Coming off a one-year, $650 thousand deal, he’ll likely sign for cheap to give the Ducks four solid centers.
The rest of the UFAs (Brown – 27, Chimera – 39, Kelly – 37, Vermette – 35) either don’t fit with the “get younger” plan or simply aren’t worth the money (looking at you, Brown). Anaheim can either promote a forward from its organization (I like pending RFA F Kalle Kossila) or acquire another from outside to fill its 13th forward position.