Tag Archives: Buffalo Sabres

Numbers Game: 2018-19 League Forecast Entering February

Whether you’re looking for love or looking to win the Stanley Cup, February is an active month.

Some teams are buying in on false promises that will ultimately end in heartbreak. Others are selling and living the single life.

In either case, most teams will be suited for a stretch run– ’til death do [them] part (or they miss out on the playoffs altogether or are eliminated in the postseason).

So let’s see if it’s a match between your team and finishing first in the divisional standings in this new forecast based on how the league standings were through January 31, 2019.

Before you scroll down to the tinder box that is known as the comment section and go bumbling on how wrong these numbers will be, keep in mind there’s no guarantees with any forecast.

It’s not always about the exact number of points expected on the season, but rather the general trends indicated or “educated” guesses that are shown.

The focus might be on the spread or positioning in the standings more than any specifics. Context is key and nothing’s impossible until it’s mathematically impossible.

Without further ado, it’s time to take a look at the potential dates available for this season.

Projected Standings After Two Months

Eastern Conference

Atlantic Division

  1. p-Tampa Bay Lightning, 130 points (50 GP entering Feb. 1st)
  2. x-Toronto Maple Leafs, 110 points (49 GP)
  3. x-Montreal Canadiens, 104 points (51 GP)
  4. wc1-Buffalo Sabres, 102 points (50 GP)
  5. wc2-Boston Bruins, 97 points (51 GP)
  6. Florida Panthers, 77 points (48 GP)
  7. Detroit Red Wings, 67 points (51 GP)
  8. Ottawa Senators, 66 points (50 GP)

In the Atlantic Division the Tampa Bay Lightning are flirting with the President’s Trophy and a 130 point season. But can they take home the best looking person in school or will the Calgary Flames have anything to say about it and steal their date? (more on that later)

The Toronto Maple Leafs are smitten with 2nd place in their division, but searching for the one to take them all the way (to the Cup). Is this the year that it finally happens?

While the Boston Bruins have been coming up short in sealing the deal (they went 6-3-3 in January, which was a marginal improvement from 7-7-0 in December), the Montreal Canadiens have been eyeing the last divisional spot in the Atlantic.

If the Buffalo Sabres can get over their recent dry spell, they’re sure to rebound well and land with the first wild card in the Eastern Conference– successfully reaching the postseason for the first time since 2011.

At the bottom of the division, it’s more of the same– the exact same (standings-wise) from last month.

Metropolitan Division

  1. y-New York Islanders, 113 points (49 GP)
  2. x-Pittsburgh Penguins, 99 points (50 GP)
  3. x-Columbus Blue Jackets, 98 points (50 GP)
  4. Washington Capitals, 93 points (50 GP)
  5. Carolina Hurricanes, 89 points (50 GP)
  6. New York Rangers, 79 points (50 GP)
  7. Philadelphia Flyers, 73 points (51 GP)
  8. New Jersey Devils, 68 points (50 GP)

Things are looking up for the New York Islanders as they continue to hookup with some top-notch strategy put forth by head coach, Barry Trotz. Robin Lehner has been stellar and everyone’s buying in on being accountable as a team.

Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins are in a long-term committed relationship with making the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but will this one bring another ring to it?

“Don’t go breaking my heart//I wouldn’t if I [actually] tried,” said Sergei Bobrovsky as he let down Columbus Blue Jackets fans with subpar goaltending, despite somehow clinching the last playoff spot in the Metropolitan Division.

The Stanley Cup looks like it will be in another’s arms given the recent stretch of play from the Washington Capitals as the team goes through a breakup with the postseason for 2019.

If things get steamy it’s only because the Carolina Hurricanes are storming and desperately making a charge to quench their postseason thirst.

There’s not much to be said about the bottom three teams in this division either. Even if Carter Hart is stealing hearts in the City of Brotherly Love. Swipe left.

Western Conference

Central Division

  1. y-Winnipeg Jets, 116 points (51 GP)
  2. x-Nashville Predators, 96 points (52 GP)
  3. x-Dallas Stars, 86 points (50 GP)
  4. Minnesota Wild, 86 points (50 GP)
  5. Colorado Avalanche, 85 points (50 GP)
  6. St. Louis Blues, 77 points (49 GP)
  7. Chicago Blackhawks, 66 points (51 GP)

The Winnipeg Jets are soaring on cloud nine with the Central Division title this season as the Nashville Predators have hit some bumps in the road throughout the season.

It’s a rocky relationship for the Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche in terms of playoff berths. The spread between the three teams in the latest forecast indicates it’s still anybody’s game and though the Stars are tagged as being above the cutoff line in this display, they aren’t safe and sound.

The St. Louis Blues are creeping their way into a playoff spot in reality, but things could very well go back to the way it was before Jordan Binnington came along as the right man to be number one in Blues fans’ hearts.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Blackhawks might as well consciously uncouple with their expendable assets by the end of the month– if not before.

Pacific Division

  1. z-Calgary Flames, 123 points (51 GP)
  2. x-Vegas Golden Knights, 108 points (52 GP)
  3. x-San Jose Sharks, 103 points (52 GP)
  4. wc1-Vancouver Canucks, 88 points (51 GP)
  5. wc2-Arizona Coyotes, 87 points (50 GP)
  6. Edmonton Oilers, 79 points (50 GP)
  7. Anaheim Ducks, 74 points (51 GP)
  8. Los Angeles Kings, 65 points (50 GP)

Things are heating up in Calgary as the Flames have not just been good– they’re really good. Calgary continues to surge into a definite number one seed in not just the Pacific Division, but the Western Conference as a whole.

What’s more impressive? The Flames are closing in on the Bolts in the President’s Trophy race. A few odd puck bounces going either way could really hamper what everyone thought Tampa’s all season long.

Meanwhile, the Vegas Golden Knights are feeling lucky as a rematch with the San Jose Sharks is looking more and more like it’s going to happen.

It’s a wild race for the wild card berths in the Western Conference, which means that the Vancouver Canucks and Arizona Coyotes could end up on either side of the fence, depending on what kind of dance partner they’re interested in acquiring at the trade deadline.

Is it time to buy, sell or continue to rebuild?

For the Edmonton Oilers, Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings, it’s time to rekindle the spark in their lives.

Game of the week: February 4-10

Now that all the bye weeks are behind us, the next big event on the NHL calendar is the trade deadline at the end of the month. The activity leading up to that date will be majorly influenced by the next couple weeks’ games, including these tilts:

NHL SCHEDULE: February 4-10
TIME (ALL TIMES EASTERN) VISITOR HOST NATIONAL BROADCAST(S)/
Result
Monday, February 4
7 p.m. Anaheim Toronto 1-6
7 p.m. Los Angeles Kings New York Rangers 4-3 (OT)
7 p.m. Vancouver Philadelphia 1-2
8:30 p.m. Arizona Dallas 4-5
Tuesday, February 5
7 p.m. New York Islanders Boston Bruins 1-3
7 p.m. Minnesota Buffalo 4-5 (SO)
7 p.m. St. Louis Florida 3-2
7 p.m. Los Angeles New Jersey 5-1
7 p.m. Carolina Pittsburgh 4-0
7 p.m. Vancouver Washington 2-3
7:30 p.m. Anaheim Montréal 1-4
7:30 p.m. Vegas Tampa Bay 3-2 (SO)
8 p.m. Arizona Nashville 2-5
8 p.m. San Jose Winnipeg 3-2 (OT)
9 p.m. Columbus Colorado 6-3
9 p.m. Chicago Edmonton 6-2
Wednesday, February 6
7:30 p.m. Ottawa Toronto 4-5
8 p.m. Boston Bruins New York Rangers 3-4 (SO)
Thursday, February 7
7 p.m. Carolina Buffalo  
7 p.m. Pittsburgh Florida  
7 p.m. New York Islanders New Jersey Devils  
7 p.m. Los Angeles Philadelphia  
7 p.m. Colorado Washington ESPN+
7:30 p.m. Winnipeg Montréal RDS, TSN2
7:30 p.m. Anaheim Ottawa RDS2
7:30 p.m. Vegas Detroit  
7:30 p.m. St. Louis Tampa Bay  
8 p.m. Dallas Nashville  
8 p.m. Edmonton Minnesota  
8:30 p.m. Vancouver Chicago  
9 p.m. San Jose Calgary ESPN+, SN1
9 p.m. Columbus Arizona  
Friday, February 8
8 p.m. Carolina Hurricanes New York Rangers NHLN, SN
Saturday, February 9
1 p.m. Los Angeles Boston  
1 p.m. Detroit Buffalo  
1 p.m. Minnesota New Jersey  
1 p.m. Colorado Avalanche New York Islanders  
1 p.m. Anaheim Philadelphia  
2 p.m. Nashville St. Louis  
2 p.m. Winnipeg Jets Ottawa Senators CBC, SN, SN1, TVAS
4 p.m. Dallas Arizona  
7 p.m. San Jose Edmonton SN, SN360
7 p.m. Toronto Maple Leafs Montréal Canadiens CBC, CITY, SN1, TVAS
7 p.m. Pittsburgh Tampa Bay NHLN
7 p.m. Florida Washington ESPN+
10 p.m. Calgary Flames Vancouver Canucks CBC, CITY, SN, SN1, SN360
10 p.m. Columbus Vegas ESPN+
Sunday, February 10
12:30 p.m. St. Louis Nashville NBC, TVAS
3 p.m. Detroit Chicago  
3 p.m. Colorado Boston SN1, TVAS
3 p.m. Winnipeg Buffalo ESPN+
3 p.m. Carolina New Jersey  
3 p.m. Minnesota Wild New York Islanders  
6 p.m. Tampa Bay Florida  
7 p.m. Toronto Maple Leafs New York Rangers NBCSN, SN, TVAS

This week has more than its fair share of derbies with seven on the schedule spread across four days. First up are both of Wednesday’s tilts (the Battle of Ontario and an Original Six tilt between the Bruins and Rangers), followed this evening by Vancouver visiting Chicago (once a rivalry, always a rivalry). Toronto keeps the Original Six fever going into the weekend when it visits Montréal, then continues the trend into Sunday by visiting the Rangers. Joining the Leafs and Blueshirts in rivalry action to close the week will be Tampa Bay and Florida contesting another round of the Governor’s Cup.

In the player homecoming category, there was none bigger than F Jay Beagle‘s trip back to the District of Columbia on Tuesday. Beagle spent 10 seasons with the Caps, departing for the Pacific Northwest after winning the Stanley Cup last summer.

Also making major returns are G Philipp Grubauer and F Nick Bjugstad, both of whom spent six seasons with the Capitals and Panthers, respectively. These homecomings are especially significant for both, as Grubauer will be collecting his Stanley Cup ring and Bjugstad will probably be snagging some more clothes and household items for his new apartment in the Steel City after being traded there Friday.

However, to keep with tradition, let’s totally disregard those tilts and focus on a totally different fixture – specifically, the one featuring F Jeff Skinner taking on his former team.

Boasting a 4-1-1 record in their past six games (including a dominant 4-0 shutout win in Pittsburgh on Tuesday), the 26-21-6 Carolina Hurricanes have pulled within three points of the East’s second wild card with 29 games to play.

After more than half the season has gone by, there’s no surprises any more in the Canes’ style: they play an upbeat style of offense that stresses shots on goal, hoping to wear down opposing goaltenders simply by the mass volume of stops they have to make.

While that strategy has had varied levels of success throughout the campaign, Head Coach Rod Brind’Amour‘s crew has certainly been making magic lately, as they’ve been led by their offense averaging 4.33 goals per game during this run – the second-best in the entire NHL since January 20.

Leading that charge is none other than the 35th-overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, F Sebastian Aho. With 3-6-9 totals in his last six appearances, he’s continued his insane scoring pace to elevate his season marks to 24-36-60 in 53 appearances, putting him only five points away from matching last season’s career-highs in goals and points.

Joining Aho in averaging at least a point per game during this six-game run are F Teuvo Teravainen (2-5-7), D Jaccob Slavin (0-7-7) and new addition W Nino Niederreiter (5-1-6). With Niederreiter’s goal-scoring showing up in Raleigh on January 18, perhaps it’s no mere coincidence the offense has taken off and the Hurricanes are enjoying more of their patented “Carolina Surge” celebrations. Of course, the Canes might be just as surprised with Niederreiter’s success as he is – after all, he only scored nine goals in 46 games with the Wild this season. Since donning Carolina red, he’s already lit the lamp five times in only seven appearances.

But the Hurricanes haven’t been just another pretty offense during this winning run. They’ve also played incredibly well on the defensive end too.

Thanks to the excellent play of late by D Justin Faulk (two blocks per game since January 20) and W Micheal Ferland (3.5 hits per game in his last four outings), the Canes have also boasted the league’s third-best defense as measured by shots against per game, as they’ve allowed only 25.33 per game during this six-game span.

And not surprisingly, that solid defensive work has translated incredibly to the scoreboard. Carolina has allowed only 2.5 goals against per game during this run, the (t)10th-best in the league since January 20. While 11-11-3 G Petr Mrazek‘s (.894 save percentage and 2.83 GAA on the season) stats have been far from incredible during this stretch – he’s actually performed below his already below-average season marks, managing an .874 save percentage and 3.28 GAA behind this defense – the fact that he’s earned five of a possible eight points in his last four appearances indicates he’s doing enough to help the Canes win.

With Carolina heading to Manhattan tomorrow to take on a less offensively-talented Rangers team, it seems likely Mrazek will be in net tonight. Should Brind’Amour instead give 12-6-1 G Curtis McElhinney the nod, he’ll hope to improve on his .918 season save percentage and corresponding 2.37 GAA.

Speaking of New York-based teams, the 26-20-6 Buffalo Sabres also find themselves trailing eighth-place Columbus by three points, but they currently lead the Hurricanes in the standings by virtue of playing one fewer game so far this campaign.

Unfortunately for the Sabres, that is where the positive marks end for a moment, as they’ve had the misfortune of stumbling into a 3-6-0 rut over their past nine games.

The biggest reason for this slump? Struggling goaltending.

Due in large part to an offense that is providing only three goals per game (tied for 13th-fewest in the NHL since January 11) and a defense yielding 31.11 shots against per game (15th-worst in the league in their past nine outings) during this stretch, 11-5-3 G Linus Ullmark has been forced to shoulder the brunt of the Sabres’ mistakes for the past few weeks and has struggled mightily under the pressure.

Despite owning a solid .914 save percentage and 2.93 GAA for the season, Ullmark’s stats in his last seven appearances (of which only five were starts, meaning 15-15-3 G Carter Hutton is struggling even more than Ullmark) have showcased just how much Buffalo has been struggling in the middle of the season. Ullmark has only an .882 save percentage and 3.53 GAA in these games, a far cry from the performance Head Coach Phil Housley has come to expect.

Hutton has an even worse .832 save percentage and 5.59 GAA in his last four starts (of which he’s only won one), so I’d be surprised if the 33-year-old is in net tonight against the Canes’ rolling offense.

Regardless of who’s in net, I have a hard time seeing the Sabres breaking out of their funk against the red-hot Hurricanes. With everything coming up Carolina’s way in it’s last few outings, the Canes should escape the Queen City with two more points in their possession.

DTFR Podcast #144- (The Other) Auston City Limits

Auston Matthews signed an extension with the Toronto Maple Leafs. What does this mean for the Leafs? Alex Stalock, Jordan Martinook and Pheonix Copley all signed extensions with their clubs, as Tuukka Rask became the winningest goaltender in Boston Bruins history, Alex Ovechkin became the highest scoring Russian-born NHL player and Paul Maurice reached 1,500 games behind the bench as a head coach.

The DTFR Duo also reviewed all 31 NHL teams as buyers and/or sellers at the 2019 trade deadline.

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts (iTunes), Stitcher and/or on Spotify. Support the show on Patreon.

DTFR Podcast #142- Chia’s Pets

The Edmonton Oilers fired their president of hockey operations and General Manager, Peter Chiarelli (April 2015-January 2019). The club officially made the announcement after the DTFR Duo finished recording this week’s episode.

There won’t be a 2020 World Cup of Hockey and there were a few milestones to go along with a bunch of minor trades made this week.

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts (iTunes)Stitcher and/or on Spotify. Support the show on Patreon.

DTFR Podcast #141- The Midseasonies

Nick and Connor talk the latest trades, Torts drama (and latest record), Casey DeSmith’s extension with the Pittsburgh Penguins, as well as a tribute to the careers of Rick Nash and Josh Gorges who both announced their retirement this week.

Additionally, what’s up with the Edmonton Oilers and St. Louis Blues this season and why can’t they just pick a side? Plus, it’s time to hand out awards for being slightly more than halfway through the 2018-19 regular season. #FlamingNotToFlamingHot

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts (iTunes), Stitcher and/or on Spotify. Support the show on Patreon.

Petry petrifies Bruins in OT, Habs win, 3-2

Jeff Petry batted in his game-winning goal in overtime just 15 seconds into the five-minute, 3-on-3, overtime period to secure the, 3-2, victory for the Montreal Canadiens over the Boston Bruins Monday night at TD Garden.

Carey Price (18-13-4 record, 2.65 goals against average, .912 save percentage in 36 games played) made 41 saves on 43 shots against for a .953 SV% in the win for the Habs.

Tuukka Rask (13-8-3, 2.44 GAA, .919 SV% in 24 GP) turned aside 19 out of 22 shots faced for an .864 SV% in the loss for Boston.

The Bruins fell to 26-14-5 (57 points) on the season and remain in 3rd place in the Atlantic Division, while the Canadiens remain in 4th with a 25-17-3 record (55 points).

Boston fell to 16-3-3 when scoring first this season as Brad Marchand had opened the game’s scoring in the first period before Montreal added two unanswered goals.

It was the final regular season matchup between these two rival clubs, with the Bruins having won eight of the last nine games against Montreal entering Monday night.

Boston placed Colby Cave on waivers for the purpose of assigning the young center to Providence (AHL) prior to the game on Monday as Bruce Cassidy made no changes to his lineup with Steven Kampfer and John Moore serving as his only healthy scratches and Joakim Nordstrom (non-displaced fibula fracture) still out due to injury.

Despite the loss, one Bruins player reached a milestone in the action with David Pastrnak having appeared in his 300th career NHL game.

For just the second time since being fired by the Bruins, Monreal head coach, Claude Julien beat his former team (that he previously beat a bunch of times in his first stint with the Habs).

Mike Reilly tripped up Marchand at 8:16 of the first period and provided the Bruins their first power play of the night. Boston did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Past the midpoint of the opening frame, Zdeno Chara interfered with Jesperi Kotkaniemi, who– as a result– tripped up Charlie McAvoy while falling.

Both Chara and Kotkaniemi were sent to the box at 13:46, leaving Boston and Montreal at even strength, 4-on-4, for the next two minutes.

While both teams were short a skater, Marchand (17) received an exceptional pass from Patrice Bergeron, then skated past Shea Weber and sniped a wrist shot past Price’s glove side a la Joe Sakic on any goaltender in his prime.

Bergeron (25) and Matt Grzelcyk (12) notched the assists on Marchand’s goal at 14:09 of the first period and the B’s led, 1-0.

Moments later, tempers flared as Kevan Miller and Nicolas Deslauriers dropped the gloves and exchanged fisticuffs. Both players received five-minute majors for fighting at 16:10 as Miller perhaps sought revenge for his shoulder injury that he suffered back in the day when Deslauriers was a member of the Buffalo Sabres.

Is it your modern day Milan Lucic vs. Mike Komisarek matchup? No, but it was a great fight nonetheless and we’ll take it considering the B’s and Habs rivalry.

Late in the first period on a face-off in Montreal’s offensive zone, Phillip Danault won the draw back to Petry for the shot from the point that Brendan Gallagher (18) tipped with incredible hand-eye coordination through Rask’s five-hole.

Petry (23) and Danault (24) had the assists on Gallagher’s goal at 18:27 and the Canadiens had tied the game, 1-1.

Heading into the dressing room for the first intermission, the Bruins led in shots on goal (11-6), blocked shots (8-3) and takeaways (9-6), while Montreal led in giveaways (3-2), hits (14-9) and face-off win percentage (57-44).

The Habs had yet to see any time on the power play– and, in fact, wouldn’t see any skater advantage opportunities all night as it was a relatively quiet night for penalties– while the B’s were 0/1 on the power play after one period.

Late in the second period, Victor Mete hooked Miller at 16:16 and the ensuing skater advantage for Boston did not go as the B’s had planned.

Less than a minute into their power play, the Bruins turned the puck over as Paul Byron (10) went unchallenged, breaking into Montreal’s offensive zone with speed and beating Rask with an elevated backhander to give the Canadiens the lead, 2-1, at 17:09.

Byron’s shorthanded goal was unassisted and was the league-leading 10th shorthanded goal allowed by Boston this season.

In the final minute of the middle frame, a scrum ensued post whistle, whereby Max Domi sought out Jake DeBrusk and everyone pulled on a member of the opposing team’s sweater.

Brandon Carlo received a two-minute minor for roughing, as did Domi, and the two players were sent to their dressing rooms early as the period was coming to a close.

Through 40 minutes of play, Montreal led, 2-1, on the scoreboard, while Boston led, 26-17, in shots on goal.

The Bruins maintained an advantage in blocked shots (11-6), takeaways (11-10) and giveaways (7-4) after two periods, while the Canadiens led in hits (22-17). Both teams were 50-50 in face-off win% heading into the third period and the B’s were 0/2 on the power play.

Boston couldn’t put anything past Price as the Habs struggled to generate shots on goal in the third period.

Late in the third, Michael Chaput sent the puck over the glass and received an automatic delay of game minor at 17:55.

Cassidy pulled his netminder with about 1:35 remaining in regulation while on the power play to try to tie the game and force overtime.

As the seconds were ticking down– both in the power play and in the game itself– David Krejci (10) found himself with ample opportunity to unload a wrist shot past the blocker side of Price while the Montreal goaltender was screened by DeBrusk in front of the goal.

Krejci’s power play goal tied the game, 2-2, and was assisted by Marchand (32) and Pastrnak (28) at 19:22 of the third period.

At the end of regulation, the Bruins led in shots on goal, 43-21, despite the scoreboard only reading, 2-2.

It took 15 seconds after puck drop in the overtime period for the Habs to work the puck in the offensive zone, generate a shot on goal and a rebound that Petry (10) batted out of the air for the odd, sheer good puck luck, overtime game-winning goal.

Domi (26) and Byron (7) were credited with the assists as the Canadiens defeated the Bruins, 3-2.

Upon the final horn, Montreal had stolen the extra point on the road, despite the Bruins leading in shots on goal (43-22), blocked shots (14-11), giveaways (13-7) and face-off win% (53-47).

Montreal finished the night leading in hits (29-23) and never had a power play opportunity. Meanwhile, Boston went 1/3 on the skater advantage.

The Bruins embark on three games in four nights with a game in Philadelphia against the Flyers on Wednesday, then back home at TD Garden for a matchup Thursday night against the St. Louis Blues and finish off their third game in four nights with their final game before the All-Star break on Saturday against the New York Rangers.

DTFR Podcast #140- All-Star Finnish Trivia

Thoughts on the conclusion and controversies of the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship, as well as a look at the schedule around the league as we near the All-Star Weekend festivities and bye week(s). Nick puts Connor on the spot and asks him some trivia questions that only went so well.

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts (iTunes)Stitcher and/or on Spotify. Support the show on Patreon.

Bruins score wild goals in 4-0 win over Minnesota

Don’t look now, but the Boston Bruins are on a five-game winning streak after shutting out the Minnesota Wild, 4-0, Tuesday night at TD Garden. The Bruins haven’t lost since Dec. 29th’s, 3-2, comeback win in overtime against the Sabres in Buffalo.

Boston improved to 15-3-2 when scoring first this season, as Danton Heinen recorded the game’s first goal. Brad Marchand, Jake DeBrusk and Patrice Bergeron each added goals of their own in the Bruins’ win.

Tuukka Rask (12-8-2 record, 2.43 goals against average, .920 save percentage in 22 games played) made 24 saves on 24 shots against for the win and his first shutout of the season.

Rask’s last shutout came on March 17, 2018 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Tuesday night’s shutout was the 42nd of his career.

Alex Stalock (5-4-0, 2.75 GAA, .894 SV% in 11 GP) stopped 23 out of 27 shots faced for an .852 SV% in the loss for the Wild.

The B’s improved to 25-14-4 (54 points) on the season and remain 3rd in the Atlantic Division– two points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for 2nd place and two points ahead of the 4th place Sabres.

Minnesota fell to 21-18-3 (45 points) and remained 5th place in the Central Division.

Bruce Cassidy left his lines alone for Boston with Joakim Nordstrom (non-displaced fibular fracture) and Charlie McAvoy (lower body) still out of the lineup due to injury and Colby Cave, as well as Steven Kampfer, as the only healthy scratches Tuesday.

Heinen (5) notched the game’s first goal early in the first period after Torey Krug went d-to-d with a pass across the point to John Moore.

Moore fired a shot that Heinen tipped in past Stalock at 5:23 to give Boston the, 1-0, lead with Moore (6) and Krug (23) tallying the assists.

Moments later, Bruins captain, Zdeno Chara, cut a rut to the penalty box after being penalized for interference, having bumped into Minnesota’s Jordan Greenway without the puck at 7:00 of the first period.

The Bruins successfully killed off Chara’s minor infraction and momentum further swung to their side as almost a few minutes after the Wild’s power play failed, Marchand was in the right place at the right time.

Moore worked the puck over to Bergeron, who then fired a shot that went wide of the goal and caromed off the end-boards to Marchand as No. 63 in black-and-gold crashed the net.

Marchand (16) put home the rebound as Stalock was moving a step behind across the crease, giving Moore his first two-point game in a Bruins uniform.

Bergeron (23) and Moore (7) were credited with the assists at 11:29.

Late in the opening frame, the B’s and Wild swapped minor penalties with Kevan Miller going to the box first for holding Nino Niederreiter at 16:16, then Minnesota’s Eric Staal following up with a tripping minor against Rask at 17:42.

After an abbreviated 4-on-4 sequence, the Bruins went on an abbreviated power play that yielded their third goal of the period and first of two power play goals on the night.

Bergeron fired a shot towards the goal that deflected off of DeBrusk’s (14) chest and went past Stalock to give Boston a three-goal lead.

Bergeron (24) and Marchand (30) had the assists on DeBrusk’s goal at 19:15 of the first period and the B’s led, 3-0.

DeBrusk has four goals and one assist (five points) in his six games since returning from concussion-like symptoms.

Entering the first intermission, Boston was ahead by three goals and led in shots on goal, 15-6. Minnesota led in blocked shots (4-1), giveaways (5-2) and hits (13-9) after 20 minutes, while the Bruins led in face-off win percentage (67-33).

Both teams had two takeaways each through one period as the Wild went 0/2 on the power play and the B’s went 1/1.

Early in the second period, Zach Parise tripped Bergeron just past the six-minute mark of the middle frame and the Bruins went back on the power play.

Less than 20 seconds later, Bergeron (14) got his revenge on the scoreboard, redirecting a shot past Stalock for the power play goal at 6:24 of the second period.

Marchand (31) and Krug (24) had the assists on Bergeron’s goal and the Bruins led, 4-0.

Almost midway through the second period, with the pace in play rather deflated, Moore was charged with interference against Luke Kunin, resulting in the Wild’s final power play of the night and last chance to muster anything resembling the commencement of a comeback.

Minnesota did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Through 40 minutes of play at TD Garden, the Bruins led, 4-0, on the scoreboard and, 20-18, in shots on goal. Minnesota actually outshot Boston, 12-5, in the second period alone, but the Wild couldn’t get past the brick wall of Rask in Boston’s crease.

The B’s led in blocked shots (13-5) and face-off win% (59-41) after two periods. Minnesota led in takeaways (6-3), giveaways (8-5) and hits (23-16), while finishing the night 0/3 on the power play.

The Bruins went 2/2 on the skater advantage Tuesday night.

There were no penalties and there was no scoring in the third period from either club as the Bruins secured the, 4-0, victory and finished the night leading in shots on goal (27-24), blocked shots (18-9), giveaways (12-11) and face-off win% (54-46).

The Wild finished the night leading in hits (28-21).

Boston hosts the Washington Capitals this Thursday night at the Garden before traveling to Scotiabank Arena for a battle with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday night.

The Bruins return home for a Monday night (Jan. 14th) rivalry matchup with the Montreal Canadiens, before traveling to Philadelphia for the first of back-to-back games on the road at Wells Fargo Center against the Flyers next Wednesday (Jan. 16th) and at home against the St. Louis Blues next Thursday (Jan. 17th).

They’ll play one more game after that against the New York Rangers at home next Saturday (Jan. 19th) before the All-Star break and bye week begins for Boston.

Rask makes 31 saves as Wagner and Backes lead B’s, 2-1, over Sabres

For the first time since Oct. 4-14th (2018), the Boston Bruins are on a four-game winning streak thanks to their, 2-1, victory over the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden on Saturday night.

Chris Wagner opened the game’s scoring for Boston in the first period before David Backes‘ eventual defactogame winning goal in the second frame, while Tuukka Rask (11-8-2 record, 2.55 goals against average, .917 save percentage in 21 games played) made 31 saves on 32 shots against (.969 SV%) in the win.

Rasmus Ristolainen had Buffalo’s only goal with 2:38 remaining in regulation.

Linus Ullmark (9-2-3, 2.69 GAA, .924 SV% in 15 GP) turned aside 39 out of 41 shots faced for a .951 SV% in the loss for the Sabres.

Boston improved to 24-14-4 (52 points) on the season and remained in 3rd place in the Atlantic Division, while Buffalo fell to 22-14-6 (50 points) on the season and remained in 4th place in the Atlantic.

The B’s take on the Wild next Tuesday at home, while the Sabres head back to KeyBank Center to face the New Jersey Devils.

Minnesota comes to Boston on the second night of back-to-back road games with a stop in Montreal to face the Canadiens on Monday.

Saturday night was the final game of the regular season between the Bruins and the Sabres with Boston winning the season series, 2-1-1, and outscoring Buffalo, 11-7.

Backes returned to the lineup having served his three-game suspension, leaving Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy with the choice to make Colby Cave a healthy scratch on Saturday.

Steven Kampfer was the only other healthy scratch as Charlie McAvoy (lower body) and Joakim Nordstrom (non-displaced fibula fracture) remain out of the lineup for Boston.

Jack Eichel (5-6–11 totals in 13 career games against the Bruins) was out of Buffalo’s lineup for the second straight game due to his ongoing injury (upper body).

Sabres head coach, Phil Housley, did not provide an update on when his captain would return, though he was scheduled to miss at least two games (Thursday against the Florida Panthers and Saturday in Boston).

Cassidy inserted Backes on the second line to the right side of Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci, while keeping his first and fourth lines the same.

Danton Heinen, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson and Ryan Donato were reunited on the third line with their stellar, youth-infused, chemistry that yielded a couple quality scoring chances, but nothing on the scoresheet Saturday night.

Boston’s defensive pairings were left untouched with Rask getting the start in net over Jaroslav Halak.

About 20 seconds into the first period, Wagner thought he had scored the game’s first goal after following up on a rebound and burying the puck in the back of the largely open net as Ullmark was pulled out of position.

Wagner’s goal was immediately waved off by the officials and deemed “no goal” on account of Sean Kuraly falling and barreling into Ullmark as Ullmark was pushing away from the center of the crease to deny Kuraly’s initial shot that generated the rebound for Wagner to cash in on in the first place.

Cassidy used his coach’s challenge for further review, but the call on the ice was confirmed and the score remained, 0-0, with the Bruins losing their timeout less than half-a-minute into the game.

Moments later, Remi Elie was penalized for interference at 6:32, sending Boston on their first power play of the night.

The B’s were not able to generate a successful offense on the skater advantage and the Sabres killed off Elie’s minor.

Past the halfway mark of the first period, Wagner (5) scored a goal that actually counted this time after Rasmus Dahlin turned the puck over to Noel Acciari and Acciari slid the puck to Wagner for the twine seeking missile.

Acciari (2) had the only assist on Wagner’s goal at 10:10 of the first period and the Bruins led, 1-0.

The goal was Wagner’s first in his first game since his grandfather’s passing, leaving some comfort for the Boston forward in the face of such a tremendous loss outside of the game.

Through one period of play, the B’s led, 1-0, and held an advantage in shots on goal, 13-10. The Sabres entered the first intermission with the lead in takeaways (7-3) and hits (16-10), while the Bruins led in face-off win percentage (68-32).

Both teams had three blocked shots aside and seven giveaways each after 20 minutes of play and Boston was 0/1 on the power play.

A couple minutes into the second period, Backes (4) tallied a goal to make it, 2-0, Bruins on a rush the other way after Rask stopped a quality chance by Buffalo.

Backes sniped his shot past Ullmark’s glove side and rang the rear crossbar of the net at 2:00 of the second frame. Rask (1) had the only assist on the goal, giving the Bruins goaltending tandem four assists on the season.

After 40 minutes of play, Boston led by two goals and in shots on goal, 28-20, while the Sabres led in blocked shots (9-7), takeaways (18-8) and hits (22-21).

The B’s also led in face-off win% (63-37) heading into the dressing room for the second intermission, while both teams had eight giveaways each.

Almost midway in the third period, Matt Grzelcyk hooked Kyle Okposo and presented the Sabres with their first chance on the power play at 7:42.

Buffalo did not convert on the skater advantage.

Moments later, Jake McCabe tripped Donato and Boston went back on the power play for the second time of the night at 12:39 of the third period. The B’s did not capitalize on the 5-on-4 advantage.

Late in the final frame, Rasmus Ristolainen (5) put a shot past Rask, high on the short-side, that was unassisted at 17:22 to make it a one-goal game and put the Sabres on the scoreboard, 2-1.

With about 1:44 remaining in regulation, Housley pulled Ullmark for an extra attacker, but it was too little too late– even after Buffalo used their only timeout after a stoppage with 1:17 left in the game.

The Sabres failed to register a shot on goal after Ristolainen’s goal as time expired and the Bruins won, 2-1.

Boston finished the night leading in shots on goal (41-31) and face-off win% (56-44), while Buffalo ended the night leading in giveaways (16-8) and hits (32-26). Both teams had 11 blocked shots.

Buffalo went 0/1 on the skater advantage and Boston finished 0/2 on the power play Saturday night.

The B’s improved to 14-3-2 when scoring first this season and take on the Wild on Tuesday at TD Garden before hosting the Washington Capitals next Thursday, then traveling to Scotiabank Arena for a one-game road trip to visit the Toronto Maple Leafs next Saturday.

DTFR Podcast #139- They Ran Out Of Beer!

A bunch of minor trades were made in the last week, the 2019 Honda NHL All-Star Game rosters were released, as well as the 2019-20 outdoor game schedule. Nick and Connor also discuss the legacy that was the 2019 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic and the 2019 IIHF World Junior Quarterfinal upsets.

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts (iTunes)Stitcher and/or on Spotify. Support the show on Patreon.

*Editor’s Note: Of course, after recording this week’s episode, the Philadelphia Flyers claimed G Mike McKenna off waivers from the Vancouver Canucks.