Tag Archives: Boston Bruins

February 28 – Day 136 – The Bolts won’t stop winning!

It took five games for the Predators to beat the Blues, but they made up for it by scoring five unanswered goals in yesterday’s Game of the Day.

The winning tally was the only one of the first period.  Third Star of the Game Craig Smith’s wrister found the back of the net at the 5:39 mark, assisted by Mike Ribeiro and First Star Filip Forsberg (his 20th helper of the season).

Only 54 seconds into the second, Nashville doubled their lead with a Forsberg wrister.  He was assisted by Petter Granberg and Smith (his 10th helper of the season).  4:45 later, Forsberg struck again with another wrister, assisted by Smith and Ribeiro, for his 25th tally of the season.  The lead become 4-0 with 5:11 remaining as Forsberg’s snap shot, assisted by Ribeiro (his 36th helper of the season) and Roman Josi, earned him a hat trick.

The final goal entered the net at the 4:37 mark of the third, courtesy of Colin Wilson’s wrister (his fifth goal of the season), assisted by Viktor Arvidsson and Anthony Bitetto.

Second Star Pekka Rinne earns the shutout victory, saving all 28 shots he faced.  Jake Allen takes the loss, allowing four goals on 23 shots (82.6%).  He was replaced by Pheonix Copley at the 15:34 mark of the second period for this first NHL action.  He made five of six saves (83.3%).

The DtFR Game of the Day series now stands at 61-33-12, favoring the home sides by 33 points over the roadies.

To close out the week, there’s seven games taking place this Sunday.  The first of those drops the puck at 12:30 p.m. eastern when Washington visits Chicago, followed two and a half hours later by two matchups (Florida at Minnesota and St. Louis at Carolina).  6:30 p.m. eastern features the puck drop of the Tampa Bay at Boston game, trailed 30 minutes later by San Jose at Vancouver.  At 9 p.m. eastern, Los Angeles visits Anaheim, with this evening’s nightcap, the New York Islanders at Edmonton, dropping the puck half an hour later.

Three of the games are between division rivals (Tampa Bay at Boston, San Jose at Vancouver and Los Angeles at Anaheim), and another set of three are between teams currently qualifying for the playoffs (Washington at Chicago, Tampa Bay at Boston and Los Angeles at Anaheim).

Although the WashingtonChicago game is very tempting, the game that has the most immediate impact on the standings actually occurs in New England, as the Bolts and B’s are currently tied for second place in the Atlantic Division.

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This evening’s game will be Tampa Bay‘s 13th in the Game of the Day series, where they own a 8-3-1 record.  Their most recent under our scrutiny was their 4-0 victory in New Jersey on Friday.  Boston has also been featured this week, as they beat Pittsburgh 5-1 on Wednesday, which set their series record at 5-7-1 in 13 games played.

The 35-22-4 Tampa Bay Lightning currently sit in second place in the Atlantic Division and fourth in the Eastern Conference.  They’ve no doubt earned that position, as they play the sixth-best defense in the league paired with the ninth-best offense.

Thanks in part to Victor Hedman’s team-leading 102 blocks, the Lightning have allowed only 1727 shots to reach 25-17-3 Ben Bishop and co., of which they’ve collectively saved 92.1% for only 149 goals against, sixth-fewest in the league.  That strong defensive play has continued to the penalty kill, as Tampa‘s 82.97% kill rate for only 31 power play goals against ranks eighth-best in the NHL.  That rate improves even more when the Bolts‘ short-handed goals are taken into account, of which they have five (led by Brian Boyle’s two), one more than the league average.

The offense trails right behind, led by Steven Stamkos’ 170 shots for 1775 attempts on goal, of which a solid 9.4% have found the back of the net for 169 tallies (led by Stamkos’ 27 tallies), ninth-most in the league.  It has been the power play where Tampa Bay‘s biggest weakness can be found, as they connect on only 16.98% of opportunities (fifth-worst in the league) for 36 power play goals (led by Stamkos’ dozen).  To make matters worse, the Bolts have also given up six shorties on the season.

Tampa is currently riding a five-game winning streak, the second-best active streak in the NHL right now.  Their most recent showing was the four-goal shutout at The Rock Friday night.  In addition to breaking their tie with the Bruins for second place, a win also has the potential to pull the Bolts within two points of the in-state rival Panthers should they lose to the Wild.

The 34-22-6 Boston Bruins currently occupy third place in the Atlantic Division and fifth in the Eastern Conference.  Their efforts have been almost entirely on the offensive end, as the defense and goaltending have allowed the 11th-most goals.  A more in-depth analysis of their game can be found within Wednesday’s article.

The Bruins are currently riding a two-game winning streak, with their most recent being their 4-1 victory in Carolina Friday night.  Just like Tampa, a win by Boston earns the Bruins outright ownership to second place in the division, with them potentially trailing Florida by only two points for the division lead.

The season series is currently tied at 1-1-0, with both teams earning a win on the road.  Their most recent meeting Halloween, when the Bruins won 3-1 in Tampa.

Some players to keep an eye on in this evening’s game include Boston‘s Brad Marchand (32 goals [tied for third-most in the league]) and Tuukka Rask (four shutouts [tied for fourth-most in the league]) & Tampa Bay‘s Bishop (2.09 GAA [second-best in the league], .924 save percentage [tied for seventh-best in the league] and 25 wins [tied for ninth-most in the league])and Stamkos (27 goals [seventh-most in the league]).

Although neither team has been able to defend home ice yet in this season this year, I think Boston‘s poor defense allows Stamkos and co. to earn two points and focus in on catching the Panthers for the top seed in the Atlantic.

TRADE: San Jose swaps goalies and more with Toronto

By: Nick Lanciani

The San Jose Sharks traded backup goaltender Alex Stalock, forward Ben Smith and a conditional fourth round pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for goaltender James Reimer and forward Jeremy Morin. The conditional pick involved in the deal can become a third round pick in the 2018 draft if the Sharks reach this year’s Stanley Cup Final as reported by TSN’s Darren Dreger.

UnknownReimer is a 27-year-old native of Morweena, Manitoba who has played in 207 NHL games, all with the Maple Leafs. He posted a 85-76-23 record with a .914 SV%, 2.83 GAA and 11 shutouts during his time with Toronto.

He is most notably remembered as the Maple Leafs goalie in their 2013 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal matchup with the Boston Bruins, posting a 3-4 record with a .923 SV% and 2.88 GAA in seven career Stanley Cup Playoffs games.

He has represented Canada twice at the World Championships (2011 and 2014) and posted a cumulative record of 7-1 with a .915 SV% and 2.13 GAA in eight games. Reiner was originally selected by Toronto in the fourth round (99th overall) in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.

Morin is a 24-year-old forward who is currently playing with the Toronto Marlies in the American Hockey League (AHL). Through 41 games with the Marlies and the Rockford IceHogs, Morin has 11-17-28 totals, 32 penalty minutes and a plus-7 rating. He has played in 82 career NHL games with the Chicago Blackhawks and the Columbus Blue Jackets and has 10-12-22 career totals, as well as 69 penalty minutes and a plus-8 rating.

He was drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers in the second round (45th overall) of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. Morin has previously played for San Jose’s assistant coach, Steve Spott, during his Junior hockey days with the Kitchener Rangers in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL).

Unknown-3Stalock is a 28-year-old goaltender who has split time with the Sharks and their AHL affiliate San Jose Barracuda this season. In 62 career NHL games, spanning five seasons with the Sharks, Stalock posted a 24-19-7 record with a 2.37 GAA and a .911 SV%. This season alone, he was 3-5-2 in 13 games with a 2.94 GAA.

The St. Paul, Minnesota native is 2-0-0 with the Barracuda this season with a 1.96 GAA. He was originally drafted by the Sharks in the fourth round (112th overall) in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. He was also a pleasure to watch with the Worcester Sharks, as an aside.

Smith is a 27-year-old native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina who has split the season with the Sharks and the Barracuda. He was previously acquired by San Jose in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks last season and played in 25 games with the Sharks this season, notching two goals and three assists. Smith has 8-2-10 totals in 14 games with the Barracuda this season.

He has played in 181 career NHL games split between San Jose and Chicago and has 25-19-44 career totals. Smith was a sixth round (169th overall) draft pick of the Blackhawks in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.

As a result of the trade, the Maple Leafs have recalled goaltender, Garret Sparks, from the Marlies to serve as the backup to Jonathan Bernier tonight as Toronto squares off with the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre. Meanwhile, San Jose’s additions may join the team as early as Sunday when the Sharks take on the Vancouver Canucks on the road at Rogers Arena.

 

Down the Frozen River Podcast #26- More 2016 Trade Deadline Previews

The Down the Frozen River crew takes a look at whether teams in the Eastern Conference should sell, sell, sell or buy, buy, buy this year at the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline. The bottom five teams in the conference as of mid-day Thursday are explored in depth, as well as some other potential buyers and sellers. Loui Eriksson’s future is also discussed.

This week’s episode got a little delayed by all the trades that happened between recording, editing and uploading this podcast, so sorry for being a little late. Stay tuned for next week’s show, but until then, hear what they have to say about the latest news and notes from around the NHL in this week’s #DTFRPodcast.

Join the conversation, make a suggestion, or ask a question for our next podcast using #AskDownTheFrozenRiver or #DTFRPodcast on Twitter and/or drop us a line on Facebook– your thoughts might make it on our show!

TRADE: Blackhawks acquire Ladd in deal with Winnipeg

By: Nick Lanciani

The Chicago Blackhawks and the Winnipeg Jets provided a little trade action on Thursday night in a deal that involved quite a bit. Chicago sent forward Marko Dano, a first round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, and a conditional pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft to Winnipeg in exchange for forwards Andrew Ladd and Matt Fraser, as well as defenseman Jay Harrison. The conditional pick in the trade will be a third rounder if the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup this season.

Unknown-2Ladd is a 30-year old left-winger who served as the Jets’ captain since the franchise moved from Atlanta to Winnipeg prior to the 2011-2012 season.

The two-time Stanley Cup champion ranks 4th in franchise history for Winnipeg in goal scoring with 139 goals since being acquired from Chicago after winning his most recent Cup championship in 2010.

His first Cup championship was with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006.

He had 17-17-34 totals in 59 games this season with the Jets and had a three game goal streak this month. Ladd had 143 shots on goal and 126 hits prior to the trade, as well. He tallied 37-62-99 totals in 184 career games in his first stint with the Blackhawks and amassed 6-4-10 totals in 36 playoff games with Chicago during that time. In 750 career NHL games, spanning 11 seasons with Carolina (2005-2008), Chicago (2008-2010), Atlanta (2010-2011) and Winnipeg (2011-2016), Ladd has 202-252-454 totals.

The native of Maple Ridge, British Columbia, was the Hurricane’s first round pick (4th overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft and had a career high in points (62) last season in 81 games with Winnipeg. He led the Jets in scoring in three seasons (2010-2011, 2012-2013 and 2014-2015). Ladd has 16 points (8 goals, 8 assists) in 57 career Stanley Cup Playoffs appearances.

Unknown-3Dano is a 21-year old forward who has played in 48 career NHL games with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Chicago Blackhawks. He was a product of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft having been selected 27th overall by Columbus.

He had two points (one goal, one assist) in 13 games with the Blackhawks this season and 4-19-23 totals in 34 games with the Rockford IceHogs (AHL).

The Blackhawks previously acquired the Eisenstadt, Austria native on June 30, 2015 in a trade that sent Brandon Saad to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Dano has 23 career points and 16 penalty minutes and was named one of the top three players on team Slovakia at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship. In 83 career AHL games, he has 17-31-48 totals and 78 penalty minutes over the last three seasons.

Harrison is a 33-year old defenseman who spent 18 games with the Manitoba Moose in the American Hockey League this season, notching 3-2-5 totals. The Oshawa, Ontario native has 23-52-75 scoring totals in 372 career NHL games in nine career NHL seasons with Toronto (2005-2009), Carolina (2009-2015) and Winnipeg (2014-2015). Harrison has 37-80-117 totals in 426 career AHL games, with 20 points in 45 career Calder Cup Playoffs games.

Fraser is a 25-year old right-winger who has 5-9-14 totals in 44 games with the Moose this season. He has 11-6-17 totals in 87 career NHL games, spanning four seasons with the Dallas Stars (2011-2013), Boston Bruins (2013-2014) and Edmonton Oilers (2014-2015).

The native of Red Deer, Alberta has two points (one goal, one assist) in four career Stanley Cup Playoffs games from his 2014 playoff appearance with Boston. Fraser has 95-50-145 totals in 225 career AHL games and 5-2-7 totals in 14 Calder Cup Playoffs games.

Both Fraser and Harrison will report to the IceHogs.

The Jets retained 36% of Andrew Ladd’s salary in the deal. Ladd and Harrison are pending UFAs, while Fraser is a pending RFA. Dano has two years left on his entry-level deal.

The Blackhawks take on the Nashville Predators Thursday night at home and will see Ladd return to Chicago on Sunday when they take on the Washington Capitals at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois as part of NBC’s Game of the Week coverage.

Winnipeg travels to Dallas to play the Stars on Thursday night, but will move on with Dano in their system in time for Saturday’s matchup on the road against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

February 24 – Day 132 – Wildcard Wednesday

The Carolina Hurricanes finally won a game in the Game of the Day series, beating the Philadelphia Flyers, who hadn’t lost in our series, 3-1.

It was actually the Flyers that scored first, but it wasn’t until late in the first.  Scott Laughton’s wrister found the back of the net at the 17:45 mark, assisted by Matt Read (his 10th helper of the season) and Radko Gudas, the only score of the opening frame.

In their black alternates, the Canes leveled the score 8:09 after resuming play with a Joakim Nordstrom snap shot, his eighth tally of the season.  10:17 later, Jordan Staal’s 16th goal of the season gave Carolina a lead they would not yield, assisted by Brett Pesce and Andrej Nestrasil.  The Hurricane‘s 2-1 lead held into the second intermission.

Carolina‘s lone insurance goal found the back of the net with 5:49 remaining, courtesy of a Eric Staal wrister, assisted by Jay McClement and Elias Lindholm (his 21st helper of the season).

Cam Ward earns the win after saving 36 of 37 (97.3%), while Michal Neuvirth takes the loss, saving 15 of 18 (83.3%).

The DtFR Game of the Day series now stands at 59-31-12, favoring the home squad by 33 points over the roadies.

Today’s schedule is fairly light, with only four games to be played.  The first, Montréal at Washington, drops the puck at 7 p.m. eastern, followed half an hour later by Pittsburgh at Boston (NBCSN).  San Jose at Colorado (NBCSN) gets started at 10 p.m. eastern, trailed 30 minutes later by this evening’s nightcap, Buffalo at Anaheim.

None of tonight’s games are divisional rivalries, but two are between teams currently qualifying for the playoffs (Pittsburgh at Boston and San Jose at Colorado).

I must admit, I’m being swayed by a mini-rivalry here in the “office” (aka our dorm rooms), but I think the PittsburghBoston game will be the most competitive this evening, so let’s head to the TD Garden!

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Tonight’s game will be Pittsburgh‘s 11th in the Game of the Day series, where they own a 3-6-1 record.  Their most recent showing under our observation was a 4-2 loss to the Lightning on Saturday.  Boston hasn’t been featured since Valentine’s Day, when they fell 6-5 in Detroit.  That game was their 12th in the series, and set their record at 4-7-1 in such games.

The 30-20-8 Pittsburgh Penguins currently occupy fourth place in the Metropolitan Division and eighth in the Eastern Conference, good enough for the second wildcard position.  To get to that position, they’ve played the 12th-best defense in the league, but have scored the 11th-fewest goals, which has kept contests tight.  A more in-depth analysis of their game can be found within Saturday’s article.

The Penguins most recent game was a 4-3 victory in Buffalo Sunday afternoon.  A regulation win tonight would propel Pittsburgh past Boston into the first wildcard position, and they would trail the Islanders by a lone point for the third division spot.  A loss would not put them out of the playoffs, but it would keep the differential between them and the first team out, New Jersey, at only a lone point.

The 32-22-6 Boston Bruins currently sit in third place in the Atlantic Division and fifth in the Eastern Conference.  It has been the offense that has led the way for the Bruins, as they’ve scored the third-most goals in the league, but they’ve given up the 10th-most goals.

Led by Patrice Bergeron’s 201 shots, the B’s have fired puck an incredible 1902 times, with a whopping 9.5% finding the back of the net for 185 goals (led by Brad Marchand’s 30 tallies), third-most in the NHL.  Just like you’d expect, that offense success has continued on the power play, where Boston‘s 22.29% success rate, for 39 power play goals (led by Bergeron’s nine), ranks fourth-best in the league.

The center line has represented the divide between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for the Bruins, as the defense continues to struggle this season.  Even with Kevan Miller’s team-leading 96 blocks, Boston has allowed 1822 shots to reach 22-17-5 Tuukka Rask and co., of which they’ve collectively saved 91.3% for 169 goals against, 10th-most in the league.  That being said, the Bruins do flip a switch on the penalty kill, as they’ve killed 82.76% of their penalties for only 35 power play goals against.  In addition, the kill has also been tremendous at scoring, as they have eight short-handed goals to their credit (led by Marchand’s four shorties).

The Bruins last played Monday night, a 6-4 loss to the Blue Jackets on home ice.  A win tonight would put Boston back into the third division spot by virtue of losing the games played tiebreaker to Tampa Bay.  A regulation loss allows the Penguins to jump the Bruins for the top wildcard spot, and they would have a three point lead over New Jersey.

Boston has already won the season series 2-0-0, with the cumulative score reading 9-2.  Both previous games were played in a home-and-home series on December 16 and 18, with the Bruins winning 3-0 on home ice before travelling to the Steel City and winning 6-2.  Those games were the second and third of Mike Sullivan’s Pittsburgh career.

Some players to keep an eye on in tonight’s game include Boston‘s Marchand (30 goals [tied for fourth-most in the league]) and Rask (four shutouts [tied for fourth-most in the league]) & Pittsburgh‘s Sidney Crosby (56 points [eighth-most in the league] and 25 goals [tied for ninth-most in the league]), Marc-Andre Fleury (four shutouts [tied for fourth-most in the league] and 24 wins [tied for ninth-most in the league]) and Chris Kunitz (+21 [tied for seventh-best in the league]).

This Pittsburgh team is a much different one than played the Bruins in December, and is much more capable of scoring.  I expect to see a lot of goals scored, but favoring the Bruins when the clock reads zeroes.

Should he stay or should he go? (feat. Loui Eriksson)

By: Nick Lanciani

The Boston Bruins have a big decision to make leading up to this year’s trade deadline. If you haven’t heard by now, there’s a lot of speculation surrounding Boston’s RW Loui Eriksson and his future with the franchise.

UnknownBased on the latest trades in the NHL, the market value of someone of Eriksson’s stature could yield more than enough to satisfy the Bruins front office for the next few years. Just think, the Toronto Maple Leafs were able to get two 2nd round picks (and Raffi Torres) from the San Jose Sharks for Roman Polak and Nick Spaling.

If the Maple Leafs could get two 2nd round picks for their fire sale, think of what the Bruins could get for a player on the verge of his best season since at least the 2011-2012 regular season and on pace to reach the 70 point plateau.

The fact of the matter is that Loui Eriksson is a very versatile player. Three years removed from the infamous Tyler Seguin trade with the Dallas Stars, Boston has finally seen what they expected all along from Eriksson on the ice. He goes to the right places, can be found on the rush and is dependable on the power play, if not deadly on special teams on a night-to-night basis.

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Could it be the end of Loui Eriksson in Black and Gold? (Photo via author)

Eriksson has 23-25-48 totals so far in 60 games played this season; already besting his 22-25-47 totals last season over 81 games played and significantly improving upon his 10-27-37 total production in an injury plagued 61 game season in his first year in Boston during the 2013-2014 run that culminated in a Bruins second round playoff exit to the rival Montreal Canadiens. In 12 career playoff games with the B’s, Eriksson has put up two goals and three assists.

The offensive upside to Eriksson’s game is crucial to his role as a top six forward. Yet, the 30-year old is on the final year of a six-year, $4.250 million AAV deal and is only expected to earn more, much more, in comparison to what the Bruins might be able to offer in an extension. Had the two sides discussed a deal much earlier in the season (prior to Eriksson’s rampage on the scoresheet), Boston might have been able to secure Eriksson to a similar deal to the one that is soon to expire.

He is a dependable forward that brings a lot more to the table than Nick Spaling will bring to San Jose. By comparison, Eriksson makes Spaling look like a fourth liner (if not a depth forward) on just about any NHL roster.

Compared to a player of similar caliber, but only a couple of years younger, Loui Eriksson could be raking in a well deserved raise similar to the 28-year old Anze Kopitar’s $80 million over 8 years extension with the Los Angeles Kings. Somewhere in the ballpark between $6.000 to $8.000 million AAV for any amount of time is well worth the chance for Eriksson to take the money and run.

And the Bruins don’t have the room for that. Granted, their salary cap crunch days are much better than last year’s numbers.

In the next two free agency cycles the Boston Bruins will have to resign a plethora of young stars including, Ryan Spooner ($950,000), David Pastrnak ($925,000), Brett Connolly ($1.000 million), Brad Marchand- who by the way is having a career year himself this year- ($4.500 million), Torey Krug ($3.400 million), Colin Miller ($600,000), Seth Griffith ($750,000) and quite possibly Alexander Khokhlachev ($800,000) assuming the Bruins don’t try to package the disgruntled Providence Bruin who has hinted at jettisoning the spoked-B for the KHL.

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Will the Bruins give up on second chances for Alexander Khokhlachev? (Photo via author)

At least for Boston, they have some comfort in knowing that Milan Lucic’s retained salary of $2.750 million is coming off the books after this season and that forwards, Chris Kelly ($3.000 million) and Max Talbot ($900,000) may not be resigned. Kelly for sure will likely be forced to search for a job elsewhere in the league or face retirement in his comeback from a fractured left femur just 11 games into the season.

So it all comes back down to what is here and now- Loui Eriksson.

Without a doubt, Eriksson has a long future left in the NHL with any team in the league. Where he might end up is not necessarily clear, but the Bruins should seek to land a 1st round pick, a prospect, and a solid forward or top-4 defenseman at the very least in an exchange for just Loui Eriksson.

The more pieces you add to the puzzle, the more things appear to stack up in favor of Boston (at least from a negotiating side). The Bruins have plenty of chips to put on the table with Eriksson, Khokhlachev and even Kevan Miller (who’s superb on the physical aspect of defense and shot blocking) to offer to a team that’s on the border or well within the cutoff of the playoff picture. Bruins GM Don Sweeney also has a couple of 1st round picks that he could dangle in front of an attractive trading partner.

So while it might be sad to see such a productive player go in one of his best seasons, it just might be one of those classic examples of a “good hockey trade”- something reminiscent of when the Bruins brought in Phil Esposito or the like. Who knows, it just might be enough to put them in Cup contention for 2016.

(And as requested by our in-house music guru, Connor, he wouldn’t let me get away with the title without alluding to this).

Colby’s Corner: A Surprise Hurricane Hit Carolina

Carolina Hurricanes LogoNow I am not talking about an actual storm, I am talking about the hockey team. One of the biggest surprises this year for me is the Carolina Hurricanes. After finishing in the bottom five last year and not adding much in the off-season, I don’t think many people had playoff hopes for this team, and with the declining attendance, that was pretty apparent. With the threat of relocation of the franchise, the team has come together and are still in the playoff hunt.

The Hurricanes are 6th in the metropolitan division, however they are only two points out of a Wildcard spot. The Hurricanes have been a special team this year, as they are finding ways to win games with such a young roster. The average age of the players on their current roster is 24 years old, including 10 players under the age of 24.

This includes the 5th overall pick from the 2015 entry-level draft, Noah Hanifin. The 19-year-old was the first defenseman selected in the 2015 draft. It surprised many people to see him jump into the Hurricanes’ roster so quickly this season. So far, the Hurricanes’ management team has to be happy with his performance, as he has two goals and ten assists in 54 games played. That’s not the stat everyone should be surprised by, however.

Young defensemen in this league make mistakes, and it usually results in giving up goals and a learning moment for the kid. Well, Hanifin isn’t making these mistakes, as his plus minus is a plus two on the season. This shocked me, as this shows that he is being calm and composed. It also shows that he has strong leadership on the back end from players like Ron Hanisey and John-Michael Liles.

Gregg Forwerck
Gregg Forwerck

Hanifin could also be following the path paved by the new leader of the team, Justin Faulk. Faulk is only 23 years old and this is his 4th full season in the NHL. Faulk leads the team in points with 34 points on the season. Faulk is shown to be a powerplay expert at his young age, as he is 3rd in the league for powerplay goals with 12 in the season.

The ‘Canes also have six players over 30 points on 56 games played. One of those players is Eric Staal. Staal is a major unrestricted free agent in this offseason, and if the Hurricanes hope to keep him, they are going to need to open their wallets wide as a lot of teams are eyeing him to help their teams next year. Eric Staal is one of the only players that was on the team when they won the Stanley Cup in the 2005-2006 season.   

For the sake of the franchise, I hope the Hurricanes can make the playoffs this season. This would instantly boost attendance for them, and they would be allowed to stay in Carolina, although Las Vegas and Quebec City may be hoping otherwise. The Hurricanes have a tough couple of games coming up against the Lighting, Blues and Bruins, so we will see how they do.  

February 14 – Day 122 – These teams definitely don’t love each other…

It took overtime, but the Anaheim Ducks were able to avenge their 3-2 overtime loss on the Pond against the Blackhawks by winning in Chicago by the same score.

The Hawks scored the first goal, but it wasn’t until 35:28 had ticked off the clock and Anaheim committed a penalty.  It came courtesy of Second Star of the Game Brent Seabrook on a slap shot, assisted by Patrick Kane (his 45th helper of the season) and Duncan Keith.  It was the only goal of the period, so Chicago took the 1-0 lead into the third.

The Ducks leveled the score at the 4:56 mark of the final frame on a Jakob Silfverberg wrister, assisted by Third Star Ryan Kesler (his 16th helper of the season) and Cam Fowler.  The Ducks then took the lead 3:42 later with a David Perron wrister, assisted by First Star Ryan Getzlaf (his 36th helper of the season) and Mike Santorelli.  The Hawks leveled the game again with 7:59 remaining in regulation when Seabrook scored his second of the night, assisted by Andrew Desjardins and Andrew Shaw (his 18th helper of the season).  Neither team was able to break the tie, so our Game of the Day series went to its second straight overtime period.

The three-on-three lasted only 2:16 before Getzlaf scored the wrister-winner, assisted by Fowler and Sami Vatanen (his 20th helper of the season).

Frederik Anderson replaced John Gibson (16 of 17,  94.1%) at the beginning of the third period and earned the win, saving five of the six shots he faced (83.3%), while Corey Crawford takes the loss after saving 41 of 44 (93.2%).

The DtFR Game of the Day series now stands at 54-27-11, favoring the home squads by 34 points over the roadies.

As usual, the NHL takes a little bit of a reprieve on Sundays, but with the NFL finally out of the way, there’s a little bit more room for some exciting games.  The first games drop the puck at 12:30 p.m. eastern (Colorado at Buffalo and Los Angeles at New Jersey), followed three hours later by Boston at Detroit (NBC).  Tampa Bay hosts St. Louis at 6 p.m. eastern, which is trailed by Philadelphia at the New York Rangers (NBCSN) by 90 minutes.

40% of today’s games are between divisional rivals (Boston at Detroit and Philadelphia at New York), and another set of two are between teams currently qualifying for the playoffs (Boston at Detroit and St. Louis at Tampa Bay).  As usual, I like to choose the game that qualifies for both, especially since they are slated to meet in the Eastern Quarterfinals, so we’re headed to Hockeytown!

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Today’s game will be Boston‘s 12th in the Game of the Day series (most in the Atlantic Division), where they own a 4-6-1 record.  Their most recent was Tuesday’s game, where the Kings smashed them 9-2 in the TD Garden.  Detroit has been featured six times before today, and own a 4-2-0 record in such games.  They were last featured Monday, when they beat the Panthers in Motown 3-0.

The 30-19-6 Boston Bruins currently sit in second in the Atlantic Division and fourth in the Eastern Conference.  They play one of the best offenses in the league, but it’s paired with a defense that, although improving, allows the 13th-most goals.  As they were just featured Tuesday, a more in-depth analysis of their game can be found within that post.

With yesterday’s 4-2 win in Minnesota, the Bruins are currently riding a two-game win streak.  Should they extend it to three, they not only expand their lead over the Wings for second in the division to three points, but they also draw within two points of Florida for the division lead.

The 28-18-9 Detroit Red Wings currently occupy third in the Atlantic Division and fifth in the Eastern Conference.  The name of the game in Motown is defense, which ranks 11th-best in the league, but it is paired with the ninth-worst offense in the NHL.

Thanks in part to Danny DeKeyser’s 76 blocks, 21-10-5 Petr Mrazek and co. have had to save 1624 shots, only one more than the league average, of which they’ve collectively saved 92.3% for 138 goals against, 11th-fewest in the league.  That ranking may be explained by Detroit‘s penalty kill, which ranks 14th-worst in the league, killing only 80.43% for 36 extra-man goals against.

The offense has been even poorer, firing only 1593 shots (led by Dylan Larkin’s 149 attempts), 8.7% of which have found the back of the net for 139 goals (led by Larkin’s 18 tallies), ninth-fewest in the league.  Again, those numbers might have the special teams to blame, as the Wings rank 11th-worst in the league with a man-advantage.  They score on only 18.18% of attempts, for 32 power play goals (led by Gustav Nyquist’s six extra man tallies).

The Wings lost their most recent showing, a 3-2 shootout loss on home ice to the Avalanche.  Should the Wings avoid that loss from becoming a streak, they will move a point past Boston for second place in the Atlantic Division, but a loss runs the risk of the Wings falling to the first wild card spot should Tampa Bay beat the Blues.

Boston and Detroit have already played twice this season, with the Bruins winning both contests.  Their most recent meting was November 25, a 3-2 overtime game in Detroit.

Some players to watch in today’s game include Boston‘s Brad Marchand (27 goals [tied for fifth-most in the league]) and Tuukka Rask (four shouts [tied for fourth-most in the league) & Detroit‘s Larkin (+25 [tied for second-best in the league]) and Mrazek (1.94 GAA [leads the league], .933 save percentage [leads the league] and four shutouts [tied for fourth-most in the league).

Especially when taking Detroit‘s offense into consideration, it is tough to pick against the Bruins.

 

February 9 – Day 117 – Hello, old friend

Although they only needed one, the Red Wings decided to score three goals in the final period to secure the shutout victory over the Panthers in yesterday’s Game of the Day.

Detroit waited 44:19 before Tomas Tatar tipped-in a goal, assisted by Jakub Kindl and Dylan Larkin (his 20th helper of the season), which came to be the game-winner.  But, now that the goose egg was off the board, the Wings felt a little bit more confident, scoring only 7:07 later when First Star of the Game Pavel Datsyuk snapped his goal off assists from Brad Richards (his 11th helper of the season) and Henrik Zetterberg.  The final goal occurred at the 12:34 mark (yes, 1-2-3-4) when Datsyuk scored his second of the night, assisted by Zetterberg (his 27th helper of the season) and Third Star Justin Abdelkader.

Second Star Petr Mrazek earns the win after saving all 23 shots he faced, while Al Montoya loses, saving 28 of 31 (90.3%).

The DtFR Game of the Day series now stands at 53-24-10, favoring the home squad by an even 40 points.

It’s a busy Tuesday schedule in the NHL!  The action gets started at the usual 7 p.m. eastern starting time with four games (Los Angeles at Boston, Florida at Buffalo, Anaheim at Philadelphia and the New York Islanders at Columbus), followed half an hour later by Tampa Bay at Montréal.  Four more games drop the puck at 8 p.m. eastern (Winnipeg at St. Louis, Washington at Nashville, Dallas at Minnesota [NBCSN] and Edmonton at New Jersey), with San Jose at Chicago beginning half an hour later.  Finally, this evening’s co-nightcaps, Vancouver at Colorado and Toronto at Calgary, drop the puck at 9 p.m. eastern.

Five of the 12 games this evening are divisional rivalries (Florida at Buffalo, New York at Columbus, Tampa Bay at Montréal, Winnipeg at St. Louis and Dallas at Minnesota), while three are between teams currently qualifying for the playoffs (Los Angeles at Boston, Washington at Nashville and San Jose at Chicago).  The Tampa BayMontréal game is also a rematch of one of last season’s Eastern Conference Semifinals.

It is not only because Boston‘s and Los Angeles‘ records are closest of the playoff qualifiers that we will focus on this game, but also because of the return of Milan Lucic to the TD Garden, where he spent the first eight years of his career.

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This will only be the Kings‘ fourth appearance in the Game of the Day series, where they currently own a 1-2-0 record.  Their most recent showing in the series was January 27, the last day before the All-Star Break, falling 4-3 on home ice to the Avalanche.  Boston has been featured more often, 10 times before tonight, and own a 4-5-1 record in such games.  Their most recent showing in the series was a 4-1 victory in Montréal on January 19.

Hailing from the city of the now-division rival Canucks, Milan Lucic was drafted by the Boston Bruins in 2006.  By 2007, he was playing full time for the Black and Gold, and ended up playing 566 regular season games for the Bruins.  By far his most successful season was the 2010-’11 season (which corresponds with the Bruins‘ most recent Stanley Cup), when he scored 30 goals and 32 assists for 62 points (career-highs in goals and points).

Since being traded to the Kings, Lucic has the most hits (157), scored the most game-winning goals (five) and is tied for second-most even-strength goals (11) on the squad.  He’s also been a great distributor, as he is tied for third on the team in even-strength assists (14).

After missing the playoffs a year ago (and becoming the first since Carolina to not qualify after hoisting the Cup the season prior), 31-17-3 Los Angeles has appreciated his contributions.  Although they are still a team that likes to play squelching defense, they appreciate his efforts to make the Kings‘ offense the best of the worst (Does that not make sense?  It will soon…).

Led by Alec Martinez’ 112 blocks, the Kings have allowed only 1421 shots to reach 27-14-2 Jonathan Quick and co., of which they’ve collectively saved 92% for only 119 goals against, fourth-fewest in the league.  Part of that success can be attributed to the penalty kill, which ranks ninth-best in the league, killing 82.7% of opposing power plays for 32 extra-man goals against.

On the other end, Dustin Brown’s 142 shots have led the way to a whopping 1632 attempts, of which 8.3% have found the back of the net for 137 goals scored (led by Tyler Toffoli’s 23 tallies), 15th-fewest in the league.  That lack of success cannot be attributed to the power play, as it is fourth-best, connecting on 21.85% of attempts for 33 extra-man goals (led by Toffoli’s eight).

Los Angeles most recently lost 4-2 to the Ducks on Thursday, but that did little to affect the Kings‘ seven-point Pacific Division lead.  A win tonight has the potential to expand that lead to nine points over San Jose, or diminish the differential between the Kings and the Blackhawks to nine, pending the result of the San JoseChicago game.

The 28-18-6 Boston Bruins currently sit in third in the Atlantic Division and fifth in the Eastern Conference, and have done so playing on of the best offenses in the league.  But what really makes the Bruins scary is the continual improvement on the defensive end, making them a sizable threat on either end of the ice.

Led by Patrice Bergeron’s 181 shots, the Bruins have fired the puck a whopping 1654 times, with 9.1% finding the back of the net for 155 goals scored (led by Brad Marchand’s 24 tallies), fourth-most in the NHL.  Much of that success can be attributed to the second-best power play in the league, which scores on 24.14% of attempts for 35 extra-man goals (led by Bergeron’s nine power play tallies).

Led by Kevan Miller’s 78 blocks, Boston has allowed only 1545 shots to reach 19-15-5 Tuukka Rask and co., of which they’ve collectively saved 91.7% for 138 goals against, 14th-fewest in the league.  Again, that success stems from the special teams play.  The Bruins kill 84.66% of penalties, allowing only 27 goals, making them fourth-best .

The Bruins are currently riding a two-game win streak, with their most recent being a 2-1 overtime win over the Sabres.  Extending that streak to three breaks the tie with Detroit for the third spot, but also has the ability to propel the Bruins to second in the division should Tampa Bay fall in Montréal.

Some players to keep an eye on in tonight’s game include Boston‘s Marchand (24 goals [tied for seventh-most in the league]) and Rask (four shutouts [tied for third-most in the league]) & Los Angeles‘ Anze Kopitar (33 assists [tied for ninth-most in the league] and +19 [tied for ninth-best in the league]), Quick (27 wins [third-most in the league]) and Toffoli (+23 [tied for third-best in the league]).

Based on the numbers, this is going to be an incredible game.  That being said, I’m still expected to pick a winner.  Not only because they are on home ice, but also because I think they are the better team overall, I believe that the Boston Bruins will earn the victory this evening.

A Few Thoughts…

By: Nick Lanciani

Hello, it’s me- okay I promise I won’t get Adele stuck in your head. I’m back again (kind of) and I’m here to share a few thoughts with you on the state of the National Hockey League as we wrap up the 2016 NHL All Star Break and get ready for tonight’s games. Thank you for reading (and hopefully enjoying) my “Look to the Rafters” series last year. I had a lot of fun writing most of them before the season started, then making minor changes to them before posting them throughout the last several months as I tried to cram them into my busy schedule.

This is my first “real-time” post in a while that hasn’t just been a podcast, because I’ve had other commitments on weekends. Having said that, I’ll resume a regular column role after the Super Bowl because, well, I’ll be working this weekend (go Panthers! – Carolina Panthers, that is).

Anyway, how about the league parity this year? Every division is pretty close unless you’re the Columbus Blue Jackets, then there’s pretty much no hope (I’m sorry, good people of Columbus, Ohio).

Plenty of teams are in spectacular standings battles as we begin the rest of the season after the All Star Break (it’s not really the second half of the season, since every team has played over 41 games already ¯\_(ツ)_/¯). I’ll be taking a look at some trade deadline previews in the next week or two, as the trade deadline is looming over the horizon, but first here’s a few thoughts for your pleasure…

First, good for the NHL for finally stepping up to the plate and embracing John Scott at the All Star Game- that and the new 3 on 3 All Star Game format made it perhaps the best All Star Game since at least 2004. I won’t go into the hypocritical nuances and overtones from the entire All Star Weekend regarding the storylines the league was drumming up about John Scott, but I digress.

Second, John Scott has a way with words (and I mean it). If you still haven’t had the time to read Scott’s column in The Players’ Tribune go ahead and read it now, I’ll wait. You good now? If you’ve already read it, read it again. Scott’s piece is exceptional. It’s well crafted, well written, and well, better than anything I ever did/aim to do here on this site. Seriously, Mr. Scott, if you ever consider becoming a hockey blogger after you retire from the game someday, please write for us, as long as we’re still around however many years into the future.

Third, there’s plenty of speculation mounting regarding league expansion once again- then again, when hasn’t it been this season? I’m sure the league is doing everything in its power to carefully review and construct all the details that would be necessary to work out for any cautious business ventures that may or may not ultimately be made.

Again, however, not much has changed in the discussion at the end of the day. Québec City is still a beautiful city and deserves an NHL team, however, history may be repeating itself in that the Canadian dollar has been showing signs of the ultimate demise of the 1990s Quebec Nordiques. In other words, it’s not good.

You might ask, “what about revenue sharing?” and the answer is that the league already has a system in place that significantly boosts its smaller market Canadian teams (Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Winnipeg, and even Ottawa- these are “small” in the sense that their financial backing is nothing compared to the Toronto Maple Leafs and/or the Montreal Canadiens).

Bottom line, it’s important to remember that 1) any sports franchise is expensive as heck to own and operate, especially if any public funding comes into play and 2) all Canadian teams generate revenue in Canadian dollars, but must pay their salaries in American dollars per the terms and conditions of the current CBA.

So, yeah, umm I’d like to see the Québec Nordiques resurrected, but not if it means that they’ll end up folding or relocating only a few years into a rebirth.

With regards to Las Vegas, T-Mobile picked up the tab on the naming rights for the new Las Vegas arena, so that’s promising for something, whether it’s hockey or just another entertainment venue ultimately. The league seems to have a special interest in the Las Vegas ownership group given its strong backing and the tremendous amounts of support that local Vegas residents have shown in hopes of landing an NHL gig.

And for you, good people of Las Vegas, Nevada, I am hopeful. Just as hopeful as I am for the wonderful citizens of Le Ville de Québec. Indeed, it would be a shame if this is all for nothing for now, but at least the serious level of the discussions is out there, are tangible, and within reach of hopefully putting something together.

As for Seattle, remember they are not part of the formal expansion application/discussion process at this time because they still cannot come to terms on building a new NHL/NBA ready arena in the Seattle metropolitan area.

Which, hey, if you wonderful people of Seattle, Washington got on that, we could be talking about another possible expansion team and almost being able to balance the conferences again (and that right there, lies another issue potentially holding expansion back- the imbalance of the conferences as they are and as they would be by adding teams in Québec and Las Vegas).

All I know is that I’m glad I’m not the one that is responsible for making all of these decisions. I’d much rather be a GM right now that’s having to debate trading a major component of a franchise or not and praying he doesn’t leave in free agency if he doesn’t resign (I’m looking at you, Mr. Yzerman). It seems as though at the end of the day, dealing with player contracts that don’t yield $500 million in expansion fees is much easier to crunch than well, what I just said about expansion fees.

Finally, thank you to the NHL, NWHL, CWHL, Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens, Boston Pride, and hockey fans everywhere for joining forces and continuing to support Denna Laing. It’s incredible to see the outpouring of compassion by the hockey community and helps make the world a better place.

I’ve seen some bad injuries in person before and I never want to have to see another stretcher on the ice again, but it’s nice to know and see how positive Denna Laing has remained through the last month and has given a newfound hope for us all to see that anything is possible and dreams may come true.

Let’s let our professional women’s athletes play another outdoor game as part of the Winter Classic festivities, let’s let our player’s play, and let’s have it televised, because there’s no reason to believe that women’s hockey is any less thrilling than men’s hockey.