Tag Archives: Brassard

Stanley Cup Playoffs: Second Round– May 9

Unknown-6New York Rangers Logo

 

 

 

 

Ottawa Senators at New York Rangers – Game 6

It’s been a decade, but the Ottawa Senators are back in the Eastern Conference Final coming off a 4-2 victory against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night. Erik Karlsson had the game winning goal and Craig Anderson made 37 saves on 39 shots faced in the win for a .949 save percentage, while Henrik Lundqvist racked up 22 saves on 25 shots against for an .880 SV% in the loss.

Ottawa defeated New York in six games and will face the winner of Wednesday night’s Game 7 action between the President’s Trophy winning Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins in the next round.

Mike Hoffman (4) kicked things off with the game’s first goal under five minutes into the 1st period. Hoffman tipped in a shot from the point and completely changed the direction of the puck past a stunned Lundqvist on the glove side. Karlsson (11) and Clarke MacArthur (3) had the assists on Hoffman’s goal.

The Senators made it a two-goal lead at 14:44 of the 1st period on a wrist shot goal from Mark Stone (4). In keeping with the night’s trend, Stone’s twine seeking missle found the back of the net past Lundqvist’s glove side. MacArthur (4) and Chris Wideman (3) were credited with the primary and secondary assists on Stone’s goal.

After trailing 2-0 in the 1st period, New York was eager to respond in the 2nd period and get on the scoreboard.

Former Senator – turned Ranger as a result of this offseason’s one-for-one trade for Derick BrassardMika Zibanejad (2) scored on a breakaway that was set up by Mats Zuccarello (3), with the other assist going to Nick Holden (2) at 13:32 of the 2nd period. Zibanejad made it a one-goal game as the Rangers now trailed, 2-1 with less than seven minutes to go in the second frame.

It would not remain a one-goal game for long, however, as the Senators were quick to respond on a rush after both teams swapped chances at each end of the ice. Bobby Ryan skated in towards the left side of the goal before dropping a no-look backhand pass to Erik Karlsson (2) who pocketed his 2nd goal of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs on the short side of Lundqvist. Ryan (5) and Anderson (1) had the assists on the goal that made it, 3-1 Ottawa.

Just 53 seconds into the 3rd period Chris Kreider (3) made it a one-goal game once again with Zibanejad (7) and Brendan Smith (4) collecting the helpers. It wouldn’t be until 19 minutes later in the final period of regulation until the scoreboard would read something other than 3-2.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau (7)– undeniably the star of the series, aside from Karlsson’s Conn Smythe worthy postseason run so far– fired home the empty net goal at 19:53 of the 3rd period, sealing a 4-2 win for Ottawa in both Game 6 and in the series. Stone (2) had the lone assist on the goal.

The Senators advanced to their first Eastern Conference Finals appearance since 2007 (the same year they made their one and only Stanley Cup Final appearance). Tuesday night’s victory also marked the third time in franchise history (2003, 2007) that the Sens have made the third round of the postseason.

This will be Ottawa head coach, Guy Boucher’s first Eastern Conference Final appearance since his days as the Tampa Bay Lightning head coach in a thrilling seven game series in 2011 against the eventual Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins that postseason. Boucher is looking to redeem his one-win-away from a trip to the Stanley Cup Final coupon, pending an opponent that is to be determined.

Pittsburgh visits Washington on Wednesday night for a Game 7 matchup to determine who will face the Senators in the 2017 Eastern Conference Final. The winner of the Pittsburgh-Washington series will have home ice in the next round of the playoffs.

Wednesday night is chock full of Game 7 action for your viewing pleasure with Pittsburgh at Washington beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET and Edmonton at Anaheim at 10:00 p.m. ET. Both games can be viewed on NBCSN throughout the United States and on TVAS in Canada. Additionally, CBC will broadcast the Penguins-Capitals game while SN takes over for Oilers-Ducks.

On a positive note (if you’re not emotional right now, sorry, Rangers fans), NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced during the 1st intermission that the 10th edition of the league’s Winter Classic will feature the Rangers and the Buffalo Sabres at Citi Field on January 1, 2018.

Stanley Cup Playoffs: First Round – April 23

For at least the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the authors at Down the Frozen River present a rapid recap of all of the night’s action. Tonight’s featured writers are Connor Keith and Nick Lanciani.

 

 

 

 

 

Ottawa Senators at Boston Bruins – Game 6

By: Nick Lanciani

The Ottawa Senators came back in Game 6 to eliminate the Boston Bruins from 2017 Stanley Cup Playoff competition with a 3-2 victory in overtime on road ice at TD Garden on Sunday. Clarke MacArthur had the game-winning power play goal to end the series.

Third Star of the game and Senator’s goaltender, Craig Anderson, made 28 saves on 30 shots faced for a .933 save percentage in the win, while Boston’s Tuukka Rask made 26 saves on 29 shots against for an .897 SV% in the loss.

After killing off three consecutive delay of game penalties for sending the puck over the glass, the Bruins had their first power play opportunity of the afternoon after Ottawa forward, Mark Stone, tripped Sean Kuraly as he was exiting the defensive zone.

On the ensuing power play, Brad Marchand faked a shot and slid a pass over to Drew Stafford (2) who went high with a slap shot, beating Anderson on the blocker side, to give Boston a 1-0 lead at 18:13 of the 1st period. Marchand (2) and Charlie McAvoy (3) recorded the assists on Stafford’s goal.

In an incredible display of goaltending, Rask denied Stone on a breakaway and follow up shot with about 15 seconds left in the period after David Pastrnak failed to connect on a pass to a mid-line change Bruins defense.

McAvoy was sent to the box early in the 2nd period for tripping Senators forward, Tommy Wingels in a manner similar to how Ottawa defenseman, Chris Wideman, injured Bruins forward, David Krejci in Game 5 with a knee-on-knee collision. Wideman’s play was not penalized, unlike McAvoy’s.

While on the power play, Bobby Ryan (4) tied the game, 1-1, 3:26 into the 2nd period on a redirected slap shot from Derick Brassard. Brassard (5) and Erik Karlsson (6) were credited with the primary and secondary assists on Ryan’s power play goal.

Past the halfway mark in the 2nd period, Kyle Turris (1) received a pass from Ryan Dzingel and unleashed an absolute laser of a wrist shot that found the back of the net. Dzingel (1) had the only assist on Turris’s goal, which made it 2-1 Ottawa.

Trailing 2-1 early in the 3rd period, Boston caught Ottawa in a slow line change, which resulted in a quick rush from Colin Miller to Marchand, who fired a shot at Anderson, producing a rebound. Patrice Bergeron (2) was on the doorstep and scored on the rebound from the left side of the crease, having tapped the trickling puck into the twine while Anderson sprawled to recover.

Marchand (3) and Miller (1) were given the helpers on the play and the Bruins tied the game, 2-2.

For the fourth time in the series, overtime was necessary to determine a game winner.

Pastrnak was sent to the box for tying up MacArthur on a Senators rush with 14:06 to go in the overtime period.

MacArthur (2) ended the series on the ensuing power play, scoring Ottawa’s second power play goal of the afternoon at 6:30 of overtime. Ryan (3) and Brassard (6) notched the assists on the game winning goal.

Sunday’s game marked the first time in Senators franchise history that they were involved in four overtime games in a playoff series. Additionally, all six games in the series were decided by one goal.

Per the NHL’s PR department, 17 out of 41 First Round games (41.5%) have required overtime in this year’s postseason, which ties the record for an opening round. In 2013, 17 out of 47 games (36.2%) required overtime in the Conference Quarterfinals.

Of note, Ottawa had three shots on goal in the 3rd period, while Boston recorded 12 shots on net in the last twenty minutes of regulation. In overtime, the Senators had six shots on goal, while the Bruins failed to record a shot on net.

The Senators advance to the Second Round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs and will face the New York Rangers at the Canadian Tire Centre in Games 1 and 2, as Ottawa will have home ice in the series.

The first contest of the series will take place Thursday at 7 p.m. Eastern time. American viewers can watch the game on CNBC, while Canadian residents will be serviced by both CBC and TVAS.

 

Washington Capitals at Toronto Maple Leafs – Game 6

By: Connor Keith

On the backs of Braden Holtby and Marcus Johansson, the Capitals beat in overtime Toronto 2-1 at the Air Canada Centre Sunday night to advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals for the third-straight year.

Only 6:31 of extra time was required before Washington made its move. The play started in the far face-off circle in front of Frederik Andersen. Evgeny Kuznetsov won the scrum by kicking the puck back to John Carlson at the far point. The defenseman shoved the puck down the far boards to Justin Williams, who fired a shot a slap shot from the top of the face-off circle. That attempt never reached the waiting netminder because it was intercepted by Johansson, who redirected the puck beyond his reach to the near post.

It’s only fitting this contest went to overtime, as all but Game 4 of this series required post-regulation hockey to determine a winner. In fact, overtime has been a theme throughout the 2017 playoffs so far. In addition to being the first time the Caps played five overtime games in a single playoff series, this was the 18th match to require extra time – an NHL record for a single round.

This game was a true goaltending treat. No matter how hard each offense tried, it simply could not register a goal. In all, the Capitals fired 36 shots at Andersen (94.4%) and Toronto 37 at Holtby (97.4%) over the course of the game, but they both answered the bell on all but three combined times.

Both regulation tallies were struck in the third period. The scoreless draw survived 47:45 before being snapped by Auston Matthews (Morgan Rielly and Zach Hyman) with a wrist shot from the slot. The Maple Leafs didn’t get to celebrate their lead long though, as Johansson (Lars Eller and Brooks Orpik) buried a wrister of his own only 5:06 later to level the knot at one-all and force the eventual overtime.

Much of the reason neither club could find a goal for so long was due to the very disciplined play by both sides.  Only five penalties were recorded in the entire game to yield what proved to be effectively one power play – an opportunity for Washington due to William Nylander holding Nicklas Backstrom.

Technically, the Leafs did earn a man-advantage in the first period when Johansson was caught holding Nylander, but Tyler Bozak‘s hi-stick against Carlson negated that power play only 22 seconds into the opportunity.

Nazem Kadri and T.J. Oshie were sent to the box simultaneously for roughing with 47 seconds remaining in regulation for the final two infractions.

With their victory, the Capitals will host the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Verizon Center for Games 1 and 2 of their Eastern Conference Semifinals matchup. It will be their second-straight meeting in the second round and their fourth since the turn of the millennium.

Game 1 drops the puck at 7:30 p.m. Eastern time on Thursday. Residents of the United States can watch the game on NBCSN, while interested Canadians will be serviced by both SN and TVAS.

This will be the 10th time the Capitals and Penguins have squared off in the postseason, but it’s been a lopsided affair in the past. Pittsburgh has won all but one of the previous series and has advanced to the next round six straight times at the Caps’ expense. Washington’s only time besting the Pens was in the 1994 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, winning four games to two, before falling in the conference semifinals to the New York Rangers, the eventual Stanley Cup Champions.

Stanley Cup Playoffs: First Round – April 15

For at least the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the authors at Down the Frozen River present a rapid recap of all of the night’s action. Tonight’s featured writer – unless noted otherwise –  is Connor Keith.

Boston Bruins at Ottawa Senators – Game 2

By: DtFR Staff

After trailing 3-1 in 3rd period, the Ottawa Senators completed the comeback with a 4-3 victory on an overtime goal from Dion Phaneuf shortly after the Boston Bruins killed off a delay of game penalty against captain Zdeno Chara.

Boston’s Tuukka Rask made 25 saves on 29 shots faced for an .862 save percentage in the loss, while Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson made 26 saves on 29 shots against for an .897 SV% for the win.

Still tied 0-0 entering the 2nd period, the Bruins struck first on a goal from Drew Stafford (1) at 9:47 of the period. Stafford’s goal was challenged by the Senators, who thought it was offsides, but after review it was determined that there was not enough evidence to overturn the call on the ice. David Backes (1) and Chara (1) tallied the assists on Stafford’s goal.

Clarke MacArthur (1) hit the twine for his first playoff goal since his comeback from injury (and first in two years) on a power play at 10:57 of the 2nd period. MacArthur’s goal tied the game, 1-1, and was assisted by the hot hands of Bobby Ryan (1) and Derick Brassard (1).

Tim Schaller (1) picked up his first career Stanley Cup Playoff goal on a shorthanded opportunity at 12:39 in just his 2nd career NHL playoff appearance to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead. Dominic Moore (1) recorded the only assist on Schaller’s goal.

With 3:59 remaining in the 2nd period, it looked like Boston had the game all but put away as Patrice Bergeron (1) redirected a shot from David Pastrnak past Anderson for a two-goal lead for the Bruins. Pastrnak (2) and Ryan Spooner (1) were credited with the assists on Bergeron’s goal.

Boston went into the second intermission with a 3-1 lead, but came out looking flat for the final twenty minutes of regulation. And it ultimately cost them.

Chris Wideman (1) fired a shot past Rask— who had been partially screened by his own rookie defenseman, Charlie McAvoy— to make it a one goal game just 5:28 into the 3rd period. Phaneuf (1) had the only assist on the goal and recorded his first point of a three-point night (one goal, two assists).

A mere 2:20 later, Brassard (1) received a pass from Erik Karlsson and sent it behind Rask on a one-timer goal. Karlsson (2) and Phaneuf (2) notched the assists on the game-tying tally not even halfway into the final period of regulation.

After Chara sent the puck over the glass and earned an automatic two-minute minor penalty for delay of game, the Bruins managed to kill off 1:48 of the remaining time on the penalty kill that had carried over into overtime.

Eleven seconds later, it was all over, however, as the B’s were caught in their own zone, while the Sens pressured their will onto their opponent.

Phaneuf (1) sent one behind Rask on a pass from Mark Stone (1) almost two minutes into overtime and tied the series 1-1 with his game winning overtime goal.

The series shifts to TD Garden in Boston on Monday night with Games 3 and 4 hosted by the Bruins before the now necessary Game 5 will occur in Ottawa on Friday, April 21st.

Again, Game 3 is Monday at 7 p.m. ET and can be seen nationally on CNBC in the United Stats and SN/TVAS in Canada.

Toronto Maple Leafs at Washington Capitals – Game 2

Led by First Star of the Game Kasperi Kapanen‘s two-goal night, the Maple Leafs were able to level their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series against the Captials at one-all with a 4-3 double-overtime victory at the Verizon Center.

When a playoff game requires overtime, some believe that most of the regulation action doesn’t matter. Kapanen probably doesn’t prescribe to that theory, as his first career postseason goal was almost as important as his second.

With 5:35 remaining in the second period, the rookie right wing (Matt Martin and Brian Boyle) scored a turn-around backhander five-hole on Braden Holtby from right in front of his crease. That tally pulled then the Leafs even at two-goals apiece.

Of course, the one he’ll remember for a long time is the first game-winner of his short NHL career – playoffs or otherwise. To beat the current holder of the Vezina Trophy, you have to be quick, and that’s exactly what Kapanen and co. were. The play started when Martin won a battle near the far corner behind Holtby’s net. He managed to force a pass behind the goal to Boyle, who one-touched the puck with a backhander back towards to far post. Kapanen was streaking towards the crease, so he was more than able to collect the pass and pound it home behind an unsuspecting Holtby, who thought Boyle still had the puck.

This series is turning nasty in a hurry. Though it’s only two games deep, 32 penalty minutes have been served between these two clubs – 24 of which were Saturday night.

All those opposing power plays put pressure on goaltenders, but both Frederik Andersen and Holtby performed rather amicably. Andersen saved 47-of-50 (94%) on the night for the victory, leaving the overtime loss to Holtby, who stopped 47-of-51 (92.2%).

Nashville Predators at Chicago Blackhawks – Game 2

As far as seeding is concerned, the Central Division is an absolute mess in the first round, as the Predators beat Chicago 5-0 Saturday at the United Center to take a two-game lead in their Western Conference Quarterfinals matchup as the series transitions to Nashville.

Nashville is playing the Blackhawks like a fiddle right now. Led by Austin Watson and his eight blows, the Predators threw 48 hits to get under the top seed in the West’s skin. And as you’d expect, that’s yielded penalties, and lots of them. The Hawks served 16 penalty minutes – almost all of them in the all-important third period.

Nashville was able to convert one of its three power plays into a goal, though it was the ultimately unimportant fifth goal – a Kevin Fiala (Second Star of the Game Ryan Johansen and P.K. Subban) wrist shot from the far face-off dot to beat Corey Crawford stick-side with 107 seconds remaining in the game.

No, the winner came off Third Star Ryan Ellis‘ (Johansen and Roman Josi) stick. Only 3:44 into the contest, he fired a one-timer from the blueline so hard the rebound off Crawford’s pad came right back to him. If at first you don’t succeed… Ellis went right back to work, firing another slap shot to beat the netminder glove side.

Even when Chicago was able to run its offense, it ran into one major problem: First Star Pekka Rinne. The goaltender saved all 30 shots he faced for the third postseason shutout of his career, and second straight.

Calgary Flames at Anaheim Ducks – Game 2

Thanks to a power play tally late in the third period, Anaheim beat the Flames 3-2 at the Honda Center to take a two-game lead in their Western Conference Quarterfinals matchup.

No penalty is a good penalty when it turns into a power play goal. Just ask Dougie Hamilton, who was caught holding Corey Perry‘s stick with 5:27 remaining in regulation. Only 41 seconds later, First Star of the Game Ryan Getzlaf (Ryan Kesler and Patrick Eaves) miraculously ricocheted a pass-turned-shot off Lance Bouma‘s skate for the freak game-winning goal.

Those Calgary mistakes were further compounded when T.J. Brodie cross-checked Kesler with 2:38 remaining in regulation. Though Mikael Backlund (Michael Frolik) managed to bury a shorthanded wrist shot with 96 seconds remaining in the first period to then pull Calgary back within a 2-1 deficit, goals while down a skater are tough to come by – especially at the end of games.

If not for their 17 penalty minutes and miserable 41% face-off percentage, the Flames were doing a lot of the right things to win. They matched the Ducks’ physicality by throwing 34 hits to their 38, while also managing almost 40 shots on goal. Though it has yet to win a game, Calgary still is a dangerous foe for the Pacific champions.

Stanley Cup Playoffs: First Round – April 12

For at least the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the authors at Down the Frozen River present a rapid recap of all of the night’s action. Tonight’s featured writer – unless noted otherwise –  is Connor Keith.

 

New York Rangers at Montréal Canadiens – Game 1

On nights like these, it doesn’t matter who the goal comes from. All that matters is that it goes in the net. That was the case for the Rangers, who bested the Habs 2-0 at the Bell Centre to take an early lead in their playoff series.

After collecting a face-off Tomas Plekanec had originally won for Montréal, Second Star of the Game Tanner Glass sneaked an unassisted backhanded shot over Third Star Carey Price‘s glove shoulder at the 9:50 mark of the first period for what proved to be the netminder’s only goal allowed on the night. Michael Grabner (Jesper Fast) provided the lone insurance tally on an empty net with 70 seconds remaining in regulation.

We knew coming into this series it was a matchup between two incredible goaltenders in 31-20-4 First Star Henrik Lundqvist and 37-20-5 Price, and they didn’t disappoint, combining for 59 saves. Lundqvist saved all 30 he faced for the 10th postseason shutout of his career.

New York truly took command of this game after the first intermission, limiting the Canadiens to only 15 shots over the remaining 40 minutes. Even when the Habs were able to control the posession, the Blueshirts would not let them get a shot on Lundqvist’s net, managing 24 blocks – led by Dan Girardi‘s four.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boston Bruins at Ottawa Senators – Game 1

By: Nick Lanciani

After going 0-3-1 against the Ottawa Senators in the regular season, the Boston Bruins opened up their edition of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 2-1 victory on road ice.

Fresh off of his two-game suspension for the last two games of the regular season, Brad Marchand scored the game winning goal with 2:33 to go in the 3rd period– capping an almost two-minute long shift.

Ottawa Senators goaltender, Craig Anderson, played a stellar game despite the loss. Anderson made 23 saves on 25 shots faced for a .920 save percentage.

Both teams swapped tremendous chances in the first 20 minutes, but neither Boston’s David Pastrnak, nor Ottawa’s Derick Brassard could score on back-to-back breakaway chances. After an eventful 1st period which nearly witnessed Bruins forward– and Ottawa native– Ryan Spooner pocket one in the twine with about four seconds to go, the score remained tied at 0-0.

The Sens kicked off the series’s goal scoring in the 2nd period with a goal from Bobby Ryan (1) at 10:28. Ryan crashed the net and followed up on one of his own chances, firing the puck short side by Bruins goaltender, Tuukka Rask. Erik Karlsson (1) notched the only assist on the goal.

For the first time since May 10, 2014 an NHL team was held without a shot in a single period in a Stanley Cup playoff game, as Boston did not record a shot on goal in the 2nd period. The Anaheim Ducks, by the way, were the last team to do so in their matchup with the Los Angeles Kings. The Ducks wound up winning the game 2-0, however.

After going without a goal in his last 15 games of the regular season, Frank Vatrano (1) found the back of the net with 15:05 to go in the 3rd period in his first career Stanley Cup Playoff game. Riley Nash (1) and Adam McQuaid (1) were credited with the assists on the goal.

Vatrano became the 6th Bruin since 1999 to score in his playoff debut and Boston tied the game, 1-1.

Late in the 3rd period, Marchand (1) put the Bruins ahead for the first time in the game with the game-winning goal off of a blocked shot by Dion Phaneuf. Patrice Bergeron (1) and Pastrnak (1) collected the assists on Marchand’s 17th career NHL playoff goal.

Boston’s Rask made 26 saves on 27 shots against for a .936 save percentage in the win. The Bruins lead the series 1-0 with Game 2 scheduled for Saturday at Canadian Tire Centre and can be viewed on NBC/TVAS/SN at 3 p.m. ET.

 

Columbus Blue Jackets at Pittsburgh Penguins – Game 1

When Matthew Murray went down in warmups, things were looking grim for the Penguins, at least for their playoff opener. Instead, First Star of the Game Marc-Andre Fleury saved all but one shot faced to lead Pittsburgh to a 3-1 victory over the Blue Jackets at PPG Paints Arena.

Just like Pierre McGuire said during the broadcast, sometimes the best trade a club can make is the very one they don’t. Trade rumors swirled about the Penguins’ former first-overall pick all season, but he turned in a 31-save performance and a Game 1 victory for First Star honors.

Jeff Zatkoff, anyone? Maybe Fleury has too much playoff experience to be the Pens’ new “Mr. Game 1,” but the story is beginning to sound eerily similar to last year’s Cup run.

Offensively, the Pens showed one period of greatness after a sluggish opening frame. The Jackets held them to only three shots on the opening 20 minutes – including none in the last 14:49 – due in large part to their 23 first period hits .

The Penguins came out on fire after the intermission, notching all three of their tallies. Only 1:15 after returning from the dressing room, Bryan Rust (Second Star Phil Kessel and Third Star Evgeni Malkin) broke the ice with a snap shot. Kessel’s assist was especially impressive, as he used his skate to pass to the right wing.

Rust’s tally was followed only 2:30 later by Kessel’s (Justin Schultz and Malkin) eventual game-winner. Kessel’s tally was a strong power play wrist shot from the near face-off dot over Sergei Bobrovsky‘s glove shoulder.

Nick Bonino (Patric Hornqvist and Olli Maatta) provided Pittsburgh’s final tally with 3:35 remaining in the frame.

Columbus finally got on the board with 7:19 remaining in regulation courtesy of Matt Calvert (Josh Anderson), but the Jackets couldn’t convert any more of their 32 shots on goal into markers.

 

St. Louis Blues at Minnesota Minnesota Wild – Game 1

Overtime game-winners in the playoffs can come from the most unlikely of sources. In Game 1, it was First Star of the Game Joel Edmundson that gave St. Louis the 2-1 overtime victory over the Wild at the Xcel Energy Center.

No matter how hard Minnesota’s offense tried, it could not get past Second Star Jake Allen. The Blues’ goaltender saved 43 straight shots faced for an unblemished effort.

That is, until only 23 seconds remained in regulation. Zach Parise (Mikko Koivu and Mikael Granlund) scored a wrist shot to match Vladimir Sobotka‘s (Alex Steen) snap shot at the 6:21 mark of the second period to force the first overtime period of the 2017 postseason.

Similar to the Notes’ long playoff run a year ago, the Wild found its success when it made its presence known. Led by Jared Spurgeon and Chris Stewart‘s four checks apiece, Minnesota threw an impressive 28 hits in regulation to St. Louis’ 13, which led to 11 takeaways.

In all, Allen saved 51 shots faced before Edmundson (Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz) scored the game-winning wrister. It wasn’t the prettiest play the Blues have ever run, but they aren’t complaining. Tarasenko was crashing Third Star Devan Dubnyk‘s crease, but lost control of the puck before he could manage a shot. Fortunately for him and his club, the loose puck found the defenseman’s stick and he easily scored on Dubnyk’s stick side.

 

San Jose Sharks at Edmonton Oilers – Game 1

The Sharks arguably entered the playoffs in their worst slump of the season, but those losing ways just might be behind them. San Jose beat Edmonton 3-2 in overtime at Rogers Place to take an early one-game lead in their first round series.

San Jose’s worst fears were realized in the first period, as Edmonton’s offense made it known that it has no trouble picking Martin Jones apart when he’s off his game. Both Oscar Klefbom (Jordan Eberle and Milan Lucic) and Lucic (Mark Letestu and Connor McDavid) scored in the opening frame to give the Oil an early 2-0 lead.

Playoff experience is one of the most valuable things a club can have. Whether it was the Oilers’ offense not having much of it or the Sharks’ defense being able to match the hosts’ efforts (Edmonton managed only nine shots on goal after the first period), San Jose was able to fight its way back into this contest by constricting Edmonton’s attack. As a result, Joel Ward (Joonas Donskoi and Marc-Edouard Vlasic) took advantage of Drake Caggiula‘s hooking penalty late in the opening period to score a power play wrist shot 1:43 into the second.

Paul Martin (Tomas Hertl) completed the comeback 5:22 into the final frame. He buried the rebound off Second Star of the Game Cam Talbot‘s left pad after Hertl’s inial shot to tie the game at two-all and force the second extra-time game of the night.

It only took 3:22 of extra time, but that playoff experience was truly apparent in that time. San Jose fired six shots to the Oilers’ two, and the final one, a snap shot by First Star Melker Karlsson (Joe Pavelski and Valsic), was able to get past Talbot for a Sharks victory.

March 19 – Day 151 – We’ve turned into David Copperfield

There may be fewer games on today’s schedule compared to yesterday’s 10-game slate, but these matchups are no less important. The action starts at 1 p.m. with two games (Columbus at New Jersey and Florida at Pittsburgh [SN/TVAS]), followed by Minnesota at Winnipeg at 5 p.m. Colorado at Chicago (NHLN) drops the puck at the usual 7 p.m. starting time, trailed by two more (Carolina at Philadelphia and Ottawa at Montréal [RDS/SN]) half an hour later. Finally, Los Angeles at Calgary (SN1) acts as tonight’s nightcap, getting underway at 9:30 p.m. All times eastern.

In what is probably a first in the short history of the DtFR Game of the Day series, today’s featured game is nearly an exact replica of yesterday’s, as we follow the Canadiens and Senators from Ottawa to Montréal.

 

Since we just featured this matchup, today’s preview is going to look a little bit different. To start, the best way to set today’s matchup is with a recap of yesterday’s:


For the second night in a row, the road team won the DtFR Game of the Day with on a shootout victory. Last night, it was the Canadiens who beat Ottawa 4-3.

No goals were registered in the first period, but three were scored in both the remaining frames. Andrew Shaw (Phillip Danault and Shea Weber) got the scoring at the 22:37 mark of the game, but Third Star of the Game Derick Brassard (Kyle Turris and Mike Hoffman) buried a power play wrist shot 9:59 later to level the game at one-all. With 6:08 remaining in the second period, Ryan Dzingel (Alexandre Burrows and Second Star Erik Karlsson) scored a wrister to give the Senators a 2-1 lead they would take into the second intermission.

With two goals in 31 seconds, the Canadiens flipped a one-goal deficit into a one-goal lead. 6:15 into the period, Danault (Artturi Lehkonen and Shaw) scored a wrister to tie the game at two-all, followed by a Brendan Gallagher (Andrei Markov) wrister to set the score at 3-2. With 4:57 remaining in regulation, Karlsson (Marc Methot and Brassard) buried his wrister to set tie the game at three-all, which would hold through the rest of timed play.

Off to the shootout!

  1. The best way to score in the shootout is to put a puck on net. Bobby Ryan apparently did not get that memo.
  2. First Star Paul Byron took advantage of Ryan’s mistake, burying his shot into Craig Anderson‘s net. The Habs led the shootout 1-0 after the first round.
  3. Turris tried to level the shootout for Ottawa, but Carey Price was up to the task and did not yield a tally, earning a sink-to-win scenario for Montréal.
  4. Alexander Radulov is not one to shy away from pressure in the shootout, and he proved that once again by scoring the unofficial game-winning goal.

Price earned the victory after saving 28-of-31 shots faced (90.3%), leaving the shootout loss to Anderson, who saved 29-of-32 (90.625%).

Those two straight shootout-winners by the 78-53-22 road teams in the DtFR Game of the Day series is part of a larger four-game winning streak, which has expanded their lead to five points over the series’ hosts.


That may have been the first blemish the Senators‘ record has suffered at the hands of Montréal this year, but that doesn’t change the fact that they have a two-point lead on the Habs in the season series.

Of course, the most important two-point lead belongs to Montréal. That lead, of course, pertains to the Atlantic Division.

That’s what has made this weekend’s series so important. Although the Habs have led the division for almost the entire season, the competition between these two clubs has been very tight for the entire year. The Sens are right behind the Habs, and could claim the division lead with a victory tonight due to their game-in-hand.

Goaltending is the strength of both these clubs, as made evident in last night’s meeting. Since 21-8-2 Anderson and 32-17-5 Price both played in yesterday’s prolonged game, it will be intriguing to see if they get the nod again today or if 18-12-6 Mike Condon and/or 8-6-3 Al Montoya make an appearance.

Had yesterday’s meeting not gone into a shootout, I would’ve been very confident in guessing that Montoya would continue to ride the bench this evening. Of course, the extra work could have Guy Boucher and Cluade Julien reconsidering their original plans.

Offensively, there’s no secret who leads the home Canadiens. It’s easily been Max Pacioretty and his 60 points – including 33 goals, another club high. Although he didn’t get on the scorecard last night against Anderson, the Habs‘ captain has a knack for scoring against the Sens. He’s registered 11 goals for 22 points over his career against Ottawa, including a hat trick plus two assists on April 4, 2014.

Ottawa‘s main offensive threat doesn’t even technically play offense. Of course, it’s the one-and-only Karlsson. He’s notched 65 points this season, the second-highest total among blueliners league-wide. Turris has a slight edge over Mark Stone in the Sens‘ goal-scoring race, but that’s due in part to the right wing missing four more games than the proud owner of 23 tallies.

Yesterday’s game may not have been the best example, but Montréal should have a special teams advantage in tonight’s game due to Ottawa‘s struggles on the power play. The Senators convert only 17.8% of their man-advantages, which is the 10th-worst rate in the NHL.

That being said, the Sens have definitely been on the upswing in the last month. Since February 19, Ottawa has converted 21.4% of their power plays, a 3.6% improvement in comparison to their season average.

Regardless of who wins this very important game, it looks to be certain that these clubs will finish first and second in the division. Boston has 82 points to its credit (which trails Ottawa by only four points), but all three teams have been playing solid hockey of late.

Some players to keep an eye on this evening include Montréal‘s Pacioretty (33 goals [tied for fourth-most in the NHL]) and Price (32 wins [tied for sixth-most in the league] on a .922 save percentage [seventh-best in the NHL] and a 2.28 GAA [tied for eighth-best in the league) & Ottawa‘s Anderson (.929 save percentage [tied for third-best in the NHL] for a 2.25 GAA [seventh-best in the league]) or Condon (five shutouts [tied for sixth-most in the NHL]) and Karlsson (51 assists [third-most in the league]).

While it proved correct to pick the Canadiens last night, a quick, incomplete search implies that oddsmakers are not so against the Senators with Anderson is involved in play. That being said, I’m still leaning towards Montréal in what should be another tight, exciting game.

Hockey Birthday

  • Vladimir Konstantinov (1967-) – This 11th-rounder in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft may have lasted only six seasons with Detroit, but it was a successful six years. That was no more true than his final season in the league when he hoisted the 1997 Stanley Cup.
  • Tyler Bozak (1986-) – This center has played his entire eight-year NHL career with the Maple Leafs, and he’s en route for the best campaign in that time this season. His 31 assists this season is already a career-high, and his 47 points is only two points short of matching his two-time high (last in 2014-’15).

November 27 – Day 46 – Brassard was a Blueshirt

The long weekend is coming to an end, but not before we get six more games in. Today’s action gets started at 1 p.m. with two contests (Nashville at Winnipeg and Tampa Bay at Boston), followed two hours later by Arizona at Edmonton (SN). Whether you consider 6 p.m. a matinee or an evening game, it marks the start of Florida at Carolina. An hour later Ottawa visits the New York Rangers (NHLN/TVAS), trailed by Calgary at Philadelphia half an hour after. All times eastern.

I know it will be the sixth time in the last eight days that we’ve featured one of these two teams, but Derick Brassard is making his first trip back to Madison Square Garden of the year.

Unknown-6New York Rangers Logo

 

 

 

 

 

Brassard found his way to the Big Apple at the 2013 trade deadline during his sixth season with Columbus, the club that drafted him. The center played 254 games with the Rangers over his four campaigns, notching 174 points, plus an additional 44 over 59 playoff appearances.

His two most successful seasons so-far were played on this surface. In 2014-’15 he notched a career-high 60 points, which he missed by only two points in his 27-goal campaign a season later.

Coming off that 2015-’16 season, the Rangers shipped him off to the Canadian capital in exchange for Mika Zibanejad and a 2018 second round pick. It’s a trade that has worked out well for both clubs, as each skater ranks top-six in points for their new squad.

Ottawa enters tonight’s game with a 13-7-1 record and riding a three-game winning streak, the best active in the Eastern Conference. They’ve made it to second-best in the Atlantic Division by allowing only 51 goals, the ninth-fewest in the NHL.

A defensive breakdown always starts with the goaltender, in this case the 11-4-1 Craig Anderson. He’s reached that mark with a .932 save percentage and 2.15 GAA, the ninth and (t)12th-best effort among the 41 netminders with eight or more appearances.

Those numbers are even more impressive given how taxed he is. The Sens‘ blueline allows 31.1 shots to reach the cage a night, the ninth-highest average in the league. Erik Karlsson‘s 64 blocks are impressive, but he has 20 more deflections than Cody Ceci and Dion Phaneuf, who tie for second-most. I’ve been saying it all season, and I’ll say it again: the blueline has to improve if Ottawa doesn’t want to face the same fate as they did last year (read: no playoffs).

Anderson has continued his success on the penalty kill, as opponents’ power plays have been rejected 85.2% of the time – the eighth-best effort in the NHL.

The power play is Ottawa‘s Achilles heel, as their 10% success rate is second-worst in the NHL. Mike Hoffman and Karlsson have been the skaters leading the extra-man charge with four power play points to their credit, and Hoffman leads the team with two man-advantage goals.

Hosting Ottawa this evening are the 15-6-1 Rangers, the best club in the Metropolitan Division. Offense has been the name of the game in New York, as their 85 goals is best in the league by 17 tallies.

After 22 games, Kevin Hayes and J.T. Miller tie for the Blueshirt scoring lead with 19 points apiece. That being said, it’s been Michael Grabner who has scored the most goals – two more, in fact, than Hayes. In all, 22 skaters have gotten involved in the scoring, an incredible total.

As you’d probably expect, the success has continued to the power play where New York ranks sixth-best with a 21.5% success rate. This is really where the Rangers cashed in on their trade with Ottawa: Zibanejad leads the club with five power play points. That being said, those are all assists, leaving Rick Nash and Brandon Pirri to score three extra-man goals apiece to co-lead the squad.

The Rangers‘ success doesn’t stop there, though. The penalty kill has been equally as impressive, nullifying 86.2% of their infractions to rank sixth-best in the NHL.

Some players to keep an eye on tonight include New York‘s Dan Girardi (+12 [tied for fifth-best in the league]), Grabner (+20 [leads the NHL] on 12 goals [tied for second-most in the league]), Hayes (+16 [third-best in the NHL]) and Miller (+13 [fourth-best in the league]) & Ottawa‘s Anderson (11 wins [tied for second-most in the NHL] including two shutouts [tied for fifth-most in the league]).

It looks like it’s another game where Vegas doesn’t have a favorite. I don’t feel very comfortable with that pick, as the Rangers are arguably playing the best hockey in the league right now. I think they can handle the Senators tonight, especially playing at Madison Square Garden.

Hockey Birthday

  • Pierre Mondou (1955-) – This center was the 15th-overall pick in the 1975 NHL Entry Draft by Montréal. He played eight seasons and nine postseasons with the club, totaling 616 total games played. Two of those playoff appearances ended with him hoisting the Stanley Cup.
  • Chad Kilger (1976-) – Selected fourth-overall in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft by Anaheim, this right wing spent most of his 714 games in Toronto.

They needed a shootout, but the Penguins bested New Jersey 4-3 in yesterday’s Game of the Day.

The only goal of the first frame belonged to the visiting Devils. Second Star of the Game Mike Cammalleri (Kyle Palmieri) takes credit for the tally struck only 3:33 after taking the ice that gave Jersey a 1-0 lead.

Mike Sullivan didn’t seem to like that very much, as Pittsburgh quickly took the lead in the second frame. 1:23 after returning to the ice, the Pens found themselves tied after a Jake Guentzel (First Star Evgeni Malkin and Trevor Daley) wrister. 1:15 later, Tom Kuhnhackl‘s (Malkin and Steven Oleksy) first goal of the season put Pittsburgh ahead. That lead lasted only 1:22 before Vernon Fiddler buried an unassisted, shorthanded backhander to level the game at two-all. The final score of the frame was struck with 41 seconds remaining before the 10-minute mark. Cammalleri (Pavel Zacha and John Moore) takes credit again, this time with a power play slap shot, to give Jersey a 3-2 lead going into the third frame.

With 14 seconds remaining in regulation, who else than Third Star Sidney Crosby (Bryan Rust and Malkin) to come to the rescue for the Pens? His late wrister leveled the score to force three-on-three overtime, which proved to be scoreless.

The shootout featured a lot of saves. A lot of saves. Pittsburgh took the first attempt…

  1. Malkin opened the shootout to a Keith Kinkaid save.
  2. P.A. Parenteau went next, only to be saved by Matthew Murray.
  3. Crosby? Kinkaid.
  4. Cammalleri? Yup, you guessed it. Murray said “no way.”
  5. Leave it to a defenesman to bury a goal. Kris Letang beats Kinkaid to force a miss-and-lose scenario for New Jersey.
  6. Travis Zajac gave it his best effort, but Murray sealed the Penguins‘ victory.

Murray earned the win after saving 27-of-30 (90%) leaving the shootout loss to Kinkaid, who saved an incredible 46-of-49 (93.9%).

Pittsburgh‘s DtFR Game of the Day victory sets the series record at 26-15-7, favoring the home squads by eight points.

March 31 – Day 168 – Staal comes home

With two successful shootout goals, the Flyers held home ice to beat Washington 2-1 in yesterday’s Game of the Day.

The first two periods were just like I like them – scoreless.  It wasn’t until 41:28 had ticked off the clock that Alex Ovechkin connected on a power play snap shot, assisted by Evgeny Kuznetsov (his 54th helper of the season) and Justin Williams.  With 5:28 remaining in regulation, Brayedn Schenn leveled the game for the Flyers, assisted by Claude Giroux (his 43rd helper of the season) and Wayne Simmonds.  Neither side could find the net again during the remaining time, nor the five minutes of overtime, sending us to a shootout.

Washington got to shoot first, but T.J. Oshie’s attempt was denied by Third Star of the Game Steve Mason.  Nick Cousins was up next, and scored on a backhander.  Kuznetsov danced around a bit before getting almost all the way to the goal line and tried to bang one off the far post, but Mason make a quick glove save to end that attempt.  Second Star Sam Gagner gets the unofficial game winner, going five hole on First Star Braden Holtby to secure the bonus point.

Mason earns the win after saving 29 of the 30 shots he faced (96.7%), while Holtby take the shootout loss, saving 33 of 34 (97.1%).

With the third straight home win, the DtFR Game of the Day series now stands at 77-43-18, favoring the home sides by 37 points over the roadies.

This Thursday, we have 10 games on tap for you to choose from.  40% of them drop the puck at 7 p.m. eastern (Toronto at Buffalo [BELL TV], Columbus at the New York Islanders, Nashville at Pittsburgh [NHLN/TVAS] and the New York Rangers at Carolina), followed half an hour later by two more (Montréal at Tampa Bay [RDS] and New Jersey at Florida).  Ottawa at Minnesota [RDS2] starts at 8 p.m. eastern, with Arizona at Dallas trailing 30 minutes later.  Finally, our co-nightcaps drop the puck at 10:30 p.m. eastern (Calgary at Los Angeles and Vancouver at San Jose).

Over half of tonight’s games are divisional rivalries (Toronto at Buffalo, Columbus at New York, New York at Carolina, Montréal at Tampa Bay, Calgary at Los Angeles and Vancouver at San Jose), but only Nashville at Pittsburgh is between playoff qualifiers.  Also, the MontréalTampa Bay game is a rematch of one of last season’s Eastern Semifinals.

The game that stands out the most this evening actually has nothing to do with the standings, but everything to do with the return of a beloved player.

New York Rangers LogoCarolina Hurricanes Logo

 

Tonight’s game will be New York‘s 22nd in the Game of the Day series, where they own a 11-7-3 record, with their most recent being Sunday’s home 3-2 overtime loss to the Penguins.  Carolina has been featured four times before this game, and own a 1-1-2 record in such contests, with their most recent being February 23’s 3-1 home victory over the Flyers.

Drafted by the Hurricanes second overall in the 2003 Entry Draft, Eric Staal has only recently joined the second team of his career at this season’s trade deadline.

Over 12 years in Carolina, Staal played 909 games, scoring 322 goals and adding 453 assists for 775 points.

No doubt the best year to be a Cane was during the 2005-’06 season when they won the Stanley Cup.  During that playoff run, Staal scored nine goals (tied for second most on the club) and 19 assists (led the team) for 28 points, the most for Carolina.  Arguably his most important goal was his only game winner of the postseason, an overtime power play tally, his first his playoff career, that saved the Canes from going down three games to none in Montréal.  With that new found momentum, Carolina won the next three games following to win that series 4-2 and eventually hoist the Cup.

That success wasn’t isolated to the playoffs though, as he scored 45 goals during the regular season, as well as 55 assists, for 100 points flat, all categories he led (ok, tied for the lead in assists with Cory Stillman) for his club.  Those sophomore numbers have also been the peak of his career, which he achieved with cool 16.1% shooting rate.

Before joining the Rangers this February, he notched 23 assists, a total that still ranks fourth most on the team this season.  His production has improved since making the move to Manhattan, as he already has three goals and two assists to his credit after only 14 games played.

The 43-24-9 New York Rangers sit in second place in the Metropolitan Division as well as the Eastern Conference.  To get there, they’ve played solid offense backed by the 12th best defense.

Even with Derek Stepan’s 176 shots, New York has fired the puck only 2158 times, but 10% have found the back of the net for 219 goals (led by Derick Brassard’s 27 tallies), the fifth best offense in the NHL.  The Rangers prefer to keep things even-steven, as their power play, successful on 19.32% of their attempts for 40 extra man goals (led by Brassard’s eight power play tallies) ranks only 12th best in the league.

Even with Dan Girardi’s 187 blocks, the Blueshirts have allowed 2303 shots to reach 33-19-7 Henrik Lundqvist and co., of which they’ve collectively saved 92% for 199 goals against, the 12th fewest in the league.  If you thought New York was concerned about their power play, you haven’t seen the other side of their special teams.  Madison Square Garden is the home of the fourth worst penalty kill in the league, neutralizing only 77.93% of their infractions for 49 power play goals against.

The Rangers last played Sunday when they fell to the Pens, which ended their winning streak at three.  A win is very important for New York, as they are still very much competing with Pittsburgh for second in the division and home ice for the first round of the playoffs.

The  33-28-16 Carolina Hurricanes are seventh in the Metropolitan Division and 11th in the Eastern Conference.  The Canes play the 15th worst defense, paired with the fifth worst offense.

Led by Ron Hainsey’s 118 blocks, Carolina has allowed only 2112 shots to reach 21-16-10 Cam Ward and co., of which they’ve collectively saved only 90.8% for 208 shots against, the 15th most in the league.  The worst part about that stat is that most of those goals come at even strength, as the Hurricanes‘ 84.38% kill rate that has allowed only 30 power play goals against ranks fifth best in the entire league.

Led by Jeff Skinner’s 239 shots, the Canes have fired the puck 2312 times, with 8% finding the back of the net for 187 goals (led by Skinner’s 26 tallies), the fifth fewest in the league.  A major contributor to that issue is certainly their power play, which ranks eighth worst after finding success on only 16.67% of attempts for 38 goals (led by Justin Faulk’s 12 power play tallies).

Carolina last played Tuesday to a 2-1 shootout loss in Brooklyn.  The Canes are technically still alive for the playoffs, but trail the Flyers by seven points with only five games remaining.

New York has already won the season series against the Hurricanes, but would like to complete the season sweep with a fourth win this evening in Raleigh.

Some players to keep an eye on include Carolina‘s Skinner (26 goals, 22 of which were at even strength and seven were game winners, for 47 points on 239 shots [all lead the team]) and Jordan Staal (+6, 20 even strength assists, two shorthanded assists and 156 hits [all lead the team]) & New York‘s Lundqvist (33 wins [tied for sixth most in the league], four shutouts [tied for seventh most in the league] and .922 save percentage [eighth best in the league]) and Ryan McDonagh (+27 [tied for fifth best in the league]).

There’s no doubt in my mind that New York, especially with the help of their offense, will win this game.  That being said, they will get cheered at least once by the Hurricane faithful when the 12-year Carolina alumnus takes the ice.

March 23 – Day 160 – Rubber game

It was an easy game plan for the Lightning in yesterday’s Game of the Day, as they used two goals a period to beat the Red Wings 6-2.

Tampa Bay earned the lead they would not yield after only 1:47 of play courtesy of a First Star of the Game Erik Condra wrister, assisted by Third Star Ondrej Palat (his 16th helper of the season) and Brian Boyle.  Vladislav Namestnikov doubled that lead 8:08 later with a wrister of his own, assisted by J.T. Brown (his 14th helper of the season).  Starting the formula, the Bolts held their at those two tallies for the remainder of the period.

Even quicker than they scored in the first period, Tampa scored their game-winning goal in the second.  Steven Stamkos fired a wrister only 33 seconds after resuming play (his 34th tally of the season), assisted by Nikita Kucherov and Second Star Victor Hedman.  Detroit began trying to stage a comeback, as they also scored two goals in the second – the first of which found the back of the net at the 8:08 mark on a Justin Abdelkader power play wrister, assisted by Henrik Zetterberg (his 32nd helper of the season) and Niklas Kronwall.  With 4:35 remaining in the frame, the Wings pulled within a goal after Darren Helm fired a wrister assisted by Pavel Datsyuk (his 27th helper of the season) and Anthony Mantha, but Tampa scored their first of three insurance goals 2:17 later on a Kucherov power play wrister (his 28th tally of the season), assisted by Tyler Johnson and Stamkos to nip that in the bud.  The 4-2 score held into the second intermission.

Another quick start gave the Lightning a two goal advantage, as Palat’s backhander only 1:03 after resuming play, assisted by Johnson and Hedman (his 34th helper of the season) extended their lead to three.  The Bolts‘ final tally was Condra’s second of the game, assisted by Boyle at the 16:56 mark, setting the score at the 6-2 final.

Ben Bishop earns the win after saving 23 of 25 shots faced (92%), while Jimmy Howard takes the loss after saving 13 of 16 (81.3%).  He was replaced after Stamkos’ second period goal by Petr Mrazek, who saved 15 of 18 (83.3%) for no decision.

Tampa Bay‘s win makes it two straight for the home sides, setting the DtFR Game of the Day series at 72-41-17, favoring the home sides by 33 points over the roadies.

I hope you enjoyed all the games yesterday, because this evening has only two matchups to offer.  Even better, they’re both occurring not even five miles apart, so it’s doubtful they’re happening anywhere near you.  The first drops the puck at 7 p.m. between Ottawa and the New York Islanders (TVAS/SN), followed an hour later by Boston visiting the New York Rangers (NBCSN/SN1).

Seeing as Ottawa trails Philadelphia by seven points for the final spot in the postseason, we’ve gotta keep an eye on the important battle for playoff position that will take place in Madison Square Garden.

UnknownNew York Rangers Logo

 

 

 

 

 

Tonight’s game will be Boston‘s 18th in the Game of the Day series where they own a 7-9-1 record, with their most recent being their 4-0 loss in Anaheim on Friday.  New York has been featured 19 times before tonight’s game, and own a 10-7-2 record such contests.  Their most recent was March 13, a 5-3 loss on home ice to the Penguins.

The 39-26-8 Boston Bruins currently sit in third place in the Atlantic Division and sixth in the Eastern Conference.  It has been their offense that has gotten them there, as they’ve scored the third most goals, but also given up the 13th most scores.  A more in-depth analysis of Boston‘s game can be found within Friday’s article.

A win tonight does two things for the Bruins, the less of which is expanding their lead over the Red Wings to five points for the final division qualifier.  More important is catching the slipping Panthers for the second spot, and they would pull within a point of doing just that.

The 41-24-8 New York Rangers currently occupy second place in both the Metropolitan Division and the Eastern Conference.  They’ve also be a stronger offensive team, scoring the sixth most goals in the league, but give up the 15th most scores in the process.

Even with Derek Stepan’s 168 shots, the Rangers have fired the puck only 2084 times, but an incredible 9.8% have found the back of the net for 207 goals (led by Derick Brassard’s 25 tallies), the sixth most in the league.  What is surprising about the Blueshirts‘ offensive success is that it is not very dependent on the power play, as their 18.37% success rate, good for only 36 extra man goals (led by Brassard’s eight power play tallies), ranks 15th worst in the NHL.

Even with Dan Girardi’s 182 blocks, New York has allowed 2204 shots to reach 32-19-6 Henrik Lundqvist and co., of which they’ve collectively saved 92% for 192 goals against, the 15th most in the league.  Even worse than the power play has been the penalty kill, as the Rangers have neutralized only 76.89% of their infractions to allow 49 power play goals, the third worst rate in the NHL.

Seeing as the Capitals have already clinched both the division and the conference, New York is now focused on securing the second seed in the Metropolitan.  A win tonight would help them do that by extending their lead over third place Pittsburgh to four points, although the Pens will have two games in hand.

The season series between these squads is currently tied at 1-1-0, with the most recent meeting occurring January 11 in the World’s Most Famous Arena, a 2-1 victory for the home Rangers.

Some players to keep an eye on in tonight’s game include Boston‘s Brad Marchand (34 goals [tied for fourth most in the league] and +22 [10th best in the league]) & New York‘s Lundqvist (32 wins [tied for fifth most in the league], four shutouts [tied for sixth most in the league] and .922 save percentage [tied for ninth best in the league]) and Ryan McDonagh (+25 [eighth best in the league]).

Boston has the better offense, power play and penalty kill, so I’m leaning towards the Bruins winning the season series with a road victory tonight.

March 13 – Day 150 – Yup, Pittsburgh-New York again

They needed overtime, but the Blues beat the Stars 5-4 in yesterday’s Game of the Day.

Troy Brouwer scored St. Louis‘ first goal at the 8:47 mark of the first period with a snap shot, assisted by Robby Fabbri (his 16th helper of the season) and Paul Stastny, but the Stars leveled the game 2:19 later with a Cody Eakin backhander, assisted by Jamie Benn (his 43rd helper of the season) and Kris Russell.  The one-all score held into the intermission.

Only 1:37 after resuming play, the Blues again took a lead, this time off a Vladimir Tarasenko wrister (his 33rd tally of the season), assisted by Jay Bouwmeester and Third Star of the Game Alex Pietrangelo, but once again Dallas leveled quickly, as Second Star Jason Spezza’s wrister (his 27th tally of the season), assisted by Tyler Seguin and Russell, found the back of the net 1:01 later.  The Notes took control of the final 10 minutes of the second period, scoring two goals.  The first crossed the goal line at the 10:19 mark, compliments of a First Star Kevin Shattenkirk wrap-around shot (his 11th tally of the season), assisted by Stastny and Jaden Schwartz.  With 46 seconds remaining in the frame, Shattenkirk scored his second of the night on a slap shot, assisted by Schwartz and Tarasenko (his 28th helper of the season).  The 4-2 score held into the second intermission.

Dallas responded to the Blues‘ two unanswered goals in the second with two of their own in the third, the first of which came courtesy of Spezza at the 6:02 mark, assisted by Ales Hemsky and Alex Goligoski.  The lone power play goal of the night found the back of the net with only 1:12 remaining in regulation off a Benn tip-in, assisted by Seguin (his 39th helper of the season) and Goligoski.  Neither team was able to break the tie before regulation, so the game moved into three-on-three overtime.

It took only 2:11 of overtime before Pietrangelo’s wrister, assisted by Stastny (his 28th helper of the season) and Fabbri, found the back of the net for the Blues‘ winner.

Jake Allen earns the win after saving 34 of 38 shots faced (89.5%), while Antti Niemi takes the overtime loss, saving 31 of 36 (86.1%).

After St. Louis‘ win, the DtFR Game of the Day series now stands at 66-38-16, favoring the home teams by 28 points over the roadies.

With such a busy hockey Saturday, you probably need a rest.  But, luckily for us, the people in charge of NHL scheduling are addicted to the game just as much as us and can’t just take a day off, so they gave us three games to watch today.  The first of those games, Pittsburgh at the New York Rangers, drops the puck at 12:30 p.m. eastern on NBC.  Game Two gets started at 3 p.m. eastern between Tampa Bay at Columbus, and this evening’s nightcap, Toronto at Detroit (NBCSN) goes underway at 7:30 p.m. eastern.

Two of today’s games are between division rivals (Pittsburgh at New York and Toronto at Detroit), but Pittsburgh at New York is the only game between teams currently qualifying the playoffs.

In addition to qualifying for both of those groups, the PittsburghNew York game is also a rematch of one of last season’s Eastern Conference Quarterfinal matchups, so you know we’re watching that one!

Pittsburgh Penguins LogoNew York Rangers Logo

 

 

 

 

 

This afternoon’s game will be Pittsburgh‘s 13th in the DtFR Game of the Day series, where they own a 4-7-1 record.  Their most recent appearance in such games was March 3, a 4-1 home victory over these Rangers.  New York was featured again the day later in their 3-2 victory in Washington, their 18th showing in the series which set their record in such games at 10-6-2.

The 35-24-8 Pittsburgh Penguins are currently the fourth best team in the Metropolitan Division and eighth best in the Eastern Conference, good enough for the second wild card.  To get to that position, the Pens have played the ninth best defense, paired with the 14th best offense.

Even with Kris Letang’s team-leading 94 blocks, the Penguins have allowed 2030 shots to reach 28-16-6 Marc-Andre Fleury and co., of which they’ve collectively saved 92.2% for 170 goals against, the ninth fewest in the league.  Pittsburgh‘s defense especially clamps down when short a man, defending 83.65% of their penalties, allowing only 34 power play goals against, the sixth best rate in the NHL.  Further improving on that rate, the Pens have also scored six shorthanded goals this season (led by Eric Fehr’s three shorties), one more than the league average.

The offense had a slow start to the season, but has grown throughout the season to become what we typically expect from Pittsburgh.  Led by Phil Kessel’s 221 shots, the Penguins have fired the puck 2188 times, of which 8.3% have found the back of the net for 183 goals (led by Sidney Crosby’s 28 tallies), the 14th most in the league.  The biggest struggle for the Pens seems to be the power play, as they are successful on only 18.31% of attempts, earning 39 extra man goals (led by the injured Evgeni Malkin’s 11 power play tallies), the 13th worst rate in the league.

Pittsburgh‘s last game was Friday, a 3-2 victory in Columbus.  As long as the Penguins do anything better than losing in regulation, they will move ahead of Detroit for the first wildcard position, but Pittsburgh would prefer to earn two points to pull within two points of the Islanders for the final division qualifier.

The 39-22-7 New York Rangers currently occupy second place in the Metropolitan Division and third in the Eastern Conference.  To get to that position, the Rangers have played the seventh best offense, backed by the 12th best defense.

Even with Derick Brassard’s 150 shots, the Blueshirts have only fired the puck 1925 times, but 9.8% have found the back of the net for 192 goals (led by Brassard’s 24 tallies), the seventh most in the NHL.  Just like the Penguins, New York‘s offensive special team has not been indicative of their scoring success, as they are successful on only 18.23% of attempts, good for 33 power play goals (led by Brassard’s seven extra man tallies), the 14th worst rate in the league.

Dan Girardi’s 162 blocks have helped lead the Blueshirts to allowing only 1990 shots to reach 31-17-4 Henrik Lundqvist and co., of which they’ve collectively saved 92% for 173 goals against, the 12th fewest in the league.  The biggest hole in New York‘s game has been their penalty kill, whose 77.39% kill rate that has allowed 45 power play goals ranks fourth worst in the league.

The Rangers‘ most recent game was a 3-2 overtime loss in Detroit yesterday.  Currently, the Blueshirts have only a three point lead over their Brooklyn-based rivals, but a win today would improve that spread to five points.

The season series is currently tied 1-1-0, but this is the first visit by the Penguins to Madison Square Garden this campaign.  The last time these teams met was 10 days ago, when the Penguins beat the Rangers 4-1.  Last postseason, these two squads met in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, where the Rangers easily took care of the opposition in five games before eventually falling in the Eastern Finals.

Some players to keep an eye on in this afternoon’s game include New York‘s Lundqvist (31 wins [fifth most in the league], four shutouts [tied for fifth most in the league] and .923 save percentage [tied for seventh best in the league]) & Pittsburgh‘s Crosby (67 points [sixth most in the league] and 28 goals [10th most in the league]), Fleury (five shutouts [tied for second most in the league] and 28 wins [tied for seventh most in the league]), Chris Kunitz (+28 [tied for second best in the league]) and Olli Maatta (+26 [tied for fourth best in the league]).

We’ve covered both of the previous games between these two squads, and both times I predicted the Rangers to win.  While the Blueshirts are the better team overall, their poor special team play, specifically the penalty kill, always allows other teams the chance to beat them.  Should Pittsburgh get under New York‘s skin, this one could go the way of the visitors.

March 3 – Day 140 – Double down on the Blueshirts

Brooks Laich’s return to Washington was almost a successful one, as the Toronto Maple Leafs fell to the Capitals by only a score of 3-2.

Washington scored two of their three goals in the first period, all in the span of 28 seconds.  Taylor Chorney’s first goal of the season was also the Caps‘ first of the night, scored at the 18:15 mark.  His wrister was assisted by T.J. Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov (his 46th helper of the season).  Alex Ovechkin doubled Washington‘s lead with a slap shot (his 41st tally of the season), assisted by Nicklas Backstrom and Oshie.

The lone goal of the second period pulled the Maple Leafs back within a goal, scored at the 1:37 mark courtesy of Nikita Soshnikov’s first tally of the season, assisted by Nazem Kadri (his 23rd helper) and Matt Hunwick.

Toronto leveled the score at two-all only 8:16 into the third period, courtesy of a Colin Greening snap shot, assisted by Peter Holland (his 17th helper of the season) and Connor Carrick.  The Capitals‘ winner found the back of the net at the 9:31 mark when Matt Niskanen scored on the power play, assisted by Backstrom (his 43rd helper of the season) and Oshie.

Philipp Grubauer earns the win after saving 27 of 29 (93.1%), while Jonathan Bernier takes the loss, saving 20 of 23 shots (87%).

Washington‘s win is the second in the row for home squads, setting the season record at 63-34-13, 34 points better than the roadies.

It’s a busy Thursday in the greatest hockey league in the world, as 24 teams are in action this evening.  Eight of those teams drop the puck at 7 p.m. eastern (the New York Rangers at Pittsburgh [NHLN], Chicago at Boston, Calgary at Buffalo and Edmonton at Philadelphia), followed half an hour later by two more games (Tampa Bay at Ottawa and Minnesota at Toronto).  8 p.m. eastern brings with it the beginning of two games (New Jersey at Nashville and the New York Islanders at Winnipeg), with another couple trailing an hour later (Florida at Colorado and Anaheim at Arizona).  San Jose at Vancouver drops the puck at 10 p.m. eastern, and this evening’s nightcap, Montréal at Los Angeles, gets its start at 10:30 p.m. eastern.

Four of tonight’s games are between divisional rivals (New York at Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay at Ottawa, Anaheim at Arizona and San Jose at Vancouver), and two are between teams currently qualifying for the playoffs (New York at Pittsburgh and Chicago at Boston).  The New YorkPittsburgh game is also a rematch of one of last season’s Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

New York Rangers LogoPittsburgh Penguins Logo

 

 

 

 

 

Tonight’s game is New York‘s 17th in the DtFR Game of the Day series, where they own a 9-5-2 record.  Their most recent in the series was February 21, a 1-0 overtime win over the Red Wings.  Pittsburgh has been featured 11 times before tonight, and own a 3-7-1 in such games.  Their most recent was February 24, a 5-1 beat down in Boston.

The 37-20-6 New York Rangers currently occupy second in both the Metropolitan Division and the Eastern Conference.  To get to that position, they’ve played the sixth best offense in the league, paired with the ninth best defense.

Although he is still out on injury, Rick Nash’s 149 shots still leads the Blueshirts, who have only 1822 to their credit.  A solid 9.7% of those attempts have found the back of the net for 180 goals (led by Derick Brassard’s 22 tallies), sixth most in the league.  The most impressive part about New York‘s game is that most of that success has occurred at even strength, as their 17.44% success rate, good for only 30 power play goals, ranks seventh worst in the league.

Led by Dan Girardi’s 148 blocks, the Blueshirts have allowed only 1864 shots to reach 31-16-4 Henrik Lundqvist and co., of which they’ve collectively saved 92.1% for 159 goals against, the ninth fewest in the league.  Yet again, the Rangers‘ special teams let them down, as their 77.78% kill rate is fifth worst in the league.

New York is currently riding a three game win streak, with their most recent being a 2-1 victory over the Blue Jackets on Monday.  While a win tonight would pull the Rangers within 16 points of the Capitals, it more importantly has the opportunity to increase their lead over the Islanders to seven points.

The 32-22-8 Pittsburgh Penguins currently sit in fourth in the Metropolitan Division and eighth in the Eastern Conference, good enough for the second wildcard position.  They’ve achieved that position by playing the 10th best defense, paired with the 14th worst offense.

Even with Kris Letang’s 90 blocks, the Pens have allowed 1900 shots to reach 26-14-6 Marc-Andre Fleury and co., of which they’ve saved 92.2% for 160 goals against, 10th fewest in the league.  When a man down, Pittsburgh‘s defense has improved their play, killing 83.51% of their penalties for only 32 power play goals against, the seventh best rate in the league.

Led by Phil Kessel’s 201 shots, the Penguins have fired the puck 2035 times, but only 8.1% have found the back of the net for 167 goals (led by Sidney Crosby’s 25 tallies), 14th worst in the league.  That lack of success has followed Pittsburgh to the power play, as their 18.18% success rate, good for only 36 goals (led by Evgeni Malkin’s 10 extra man tallies) is 13th worst in the league.

Pittsburgh‘s most recent game was a 3-2 loss in Washington on Tuesday.  With a win today, Pittsburgh does not improve their position in the standings, but they do draw within a point of Detroit for the first wildcard position.  That being said, a loss does put them at risk of having only a one point lead over the ninth place Flyers.

The Penguins and Rangers have met only once this season, a three goal shutout victory in Pittsburgh for the Blueshirts.  They also met in the playoffs last season, where New York won 4-1.

Some players to keep an eye on include New York‘s Lundqvist (31 wins [tied for third most in the league], four shutouts [tied for fifth most in the league] and .924 save percentage [tied for eighth best in the league]) and Pittsburgh‘s Crosby (60 points [tied for eighth most in the league]), Fleury (five shutouts [tied for second most in the league] and 26 wins [tied for eighth most in the league]), Chris Kunitz (+25 [third best in the league]) and Olli Maatta (+23 [tied for sixth best in the league]).

To be honest, even with the Pens having home ice for the night, they have no business beating the Rangers.  I expect a relatively easy New York win.