Categories
NHL Nick's Net

The definitive review of all 31 Reverse Retro jerseys

Adidas and the National Hockey League are trying something creative this season. It wouldn’t really be right to call it “new”, since most things are old anyway, but all 31 adidas Reverse Retro jerseys were revealed on Monday to mixed reviews by fans and jersey critics alike on social media.

In theory, “everything that’s old is new again” can be a reassuring nostalgic feeling, but it works best when you’re reuniting with friends you haven’t seen in a while and some of them haven’t changed one bit or something.

In reality, “everything that’s old is new again” is just a marketing ploy to sell jerseys and– to the dismay of my wallet– I’m sold. Somewhat.

Not every jersey is perfect, but some are unique, some are good looking and others are downright attractive.

Yes, it’s possible to be seduced by sweater threads. Ask any jersey collector.

Before we begin, there’s just one question left to ask– what, exactly, were the prerequisites for determining what could be considered “retro”?

There’s inconsistency across the board between all 31 teams, but that’s bound to happen since some have been around since before the league’s inception (see, Montreal Canadiens) and other teams are just entering their fourth season of existence (shoutout Vegas Golden Knights).

Alright, let’s grade some sweaters.

Editor’s note: Yes, adidas picked a single year that each jersey represents, but we’re going to present a more accurate timeline for when each original design was flying around the ice.

Anaheim Ducks (based on the 1995-96 alternate)

The Anaheim Ducks must have been browsing eBay one night, saw that the original “Wild Wing” (or “Mighty Wing”, if you prefer) jerseys often sell for double the price of a regular adidas authentic jersey these days and said to themselves “gee, we could make that money easily” without realizing that the sales on eBay do not– in any part– go to the Ducks themselves.

Nevertheless, this is a good plan B, but almost everything from the Mighty Ducks era is beloved except for one thing– whatever’s happening on this jersey.

For one season, it’s a good gimmick and a quick cash grab (especially for the drying up reserves due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic).

It’s standard for an NHL team to reach back in time, change a thing or two and sell a lot of “new” jerseys. Solid effort, Anaheim.

It shouldn’t come back out of the vault ever again.

Grade: C

Arizona Coyotes (based on the 1998-2003 alternate)

This is one of my favorite jerseys in the Reverse Retro bunch simply for the fact that the Arizona Coyotes took an already legendary concept from the 1990s and made it better.

Sure the original look wasn’t great (but also not as horrendous as you probably remember) back in the day, but this time around it looks much better with purple as the base color instead of green.

Why? Because the Coyotes’ moon logo is primarily purple and purple is featured more prominently in the crest logo on this jersey than the green ever was– plus is makes the saguaro inspired cacti design at the bottom pop.

Purple is the night sky of a desert sunset. It accentuates the mountains and rock formations in the lower third.

In simple terms, this jersey is art. It’s a masterpiece.

Grade: A

Boston Bruins (based on the 1981-95 design)

A simple remix of an iconic look that the Boston Bruins used for many years spanning the likenesses of Terry O’Reilly, Ray Bourque and Cam Neely in the “Big Bad Bruins”/”Lunchpail A.C.” era, this Reverse Retro redesign works well as a short-term implementation of the league’s fourth jersey rotation to Boston’s lineup.

Could it become something that sticks in the Hub for a while? Sure, but the franchise would be best to use this for a few seasons and work on an incredible new gold design.

Though it’s hard to argue not resurrecting the bear patch on the shoulders full-time. That bear has seen some things.

The Bruins last used a gold-based jersey in the 2010 Winter Classic and a gold-based third jersey in 1995-96 (the first year of the NHL’s official third jersey program). Prior to that, the B’s actually wore gold for select games from 1940-44, then again as a primary design from 1955-67, when the team was mostly irrelevant to the overall league standings.

It must be mentioned, however, that when Bobby Orr first laced up for Boston, he was wearing a gold uniform in his 1966-67 rookie season.

Simply put, the Bruins need a gold jersey in their rotation. This one works (for now).

Grade: A

Buffalo Sabres (based on the 2000-06 alternate)

The Buffa-goat is back. Kind of.

It’s on the shoulders and modernized with the current color scheme (so… Buffalo’s original colors), but the Sabres opted to cancel out one of their positive changes made in the offseason with a negative resurrection.

No, the two swords logo on the front isn’t bad, but one thing that never made me feel anything special for the original 2000-06 alternates was the fact that the city’s name appears in the lower striping pattern.

It’s neat, but is it necessary?

At least it looks better in traditional Sabres colors and the number font is just like “the good old days” when Buffalo dominated the league with players like Miroslav Satan, Maxim Afinogenov, Daniel Brière and others.

If the Sabres make the playoffs for the first time since 2011, then we’ll know the real reason why the franchise has been awful for about a decade. It all comes down to style points.

Grade: A

Calgary Flames (based on the 1998-2006 alternate)

Yes, folks, as the Calgary Flames’ tweet mentions– “Blasty” is back.

Now get off your high horse if you think this is truly a “Reverse Retro” jersey and not just an updated alternate/fourth sweater.

There was just one minor change to the eye in this design– aside from the white flaming “C” instead of how it looked originally on the shoulders in red– and it’s the striping pattern on the bottom.

There’s significantly less red to this jersey. It isn’t bad, but just… …not great. It doesn’t really “reverse” anything major, which discredits the basic foundation and understanding of the Reverse Retro ideology.

Had adidas gone in a different direction and made a white reversed version of the iconic “Blasty” look, then Calgary would be getting a better grade.

Grade: C

Carolina Hurricanes (based on the Hartford Whalers 1979-82, 1983-85 design)

Prior to the 2018-19 season, the Carolina Hurricanes introduced a Hartford Whalers Throwback jersey that they wore three times between 2018-20 (twice against the Boston Bruins in 2018-19 and once against the Los Angeles Kings in 2019-20).

Despite not playing in Hartford since relocating to North Carolina ahead of the 1997-98 season, Carolina made every effort to get into character– even dressing up PNC Arena in Whalers colors on the inside of the barn, but there was one thing missing from the look.

This time around the Canes have added “Pucky” to the shoulders of this second iteration of a throwback sweater.

It’s grey though, which isn’t so much of an inversion of the 1979 color scheme so much as it is a reversal of the 1992-97 final design before leaving Hartford.

At the very least the Hurricanes deserve credit for going all-in on the retro requirement and not coming up with any “fauxback” shenanigans using Whalers colors on a Carolina logo.

Grade: B+

Chicago Blackhawks (based on the 1940-41 design)

Well, this is… something.

Back in 1940, the Chicago Blackhawks only had the crest on their dark jersey with the white jersey simply having numbers on the front and back a la American football teams.

This is, in fact, a Reverse Retro with the overall design of the white jersey from the 1940-41 season now done in black, but the logo was understandably modified to make it… less racist than it was back then?

Sure the Blackhawks name itself was done in honor of both a military division and a prominent Sauk nation member, Black Hawk, and the club does (at best) more than other professional teams that have recently changed their name (see, Washington Football Team) to honor indigenous people, but the logo isn’t great.

The overall aesthetic is simplistic, but sharp. Why ruin it with a caricature?

Grade: D+

Colorado Avalanche (based on the Québec Nordiques 1991-95 design)

It’s hard to imagine what the Québec Nordiques would look like today– especially since they were rebranding for the 1995-96 season anyway had they not relocated to Denver, Colorado, but the Avalanche have provided a clear look at what wouldn’t have been a terrible idea if the Nordiques had decided to go with the rebrand in the ’90s, then settle back down from a period of throwing caution to the wind.

There’s nothing wrong with bringing something out of the closet once in a while, but someone might cry “jersey foul” if it’s exactly as things used to look before relocating.

That makes things difficult for Carolina and Colorado to do a Reverse Retro sweater without leaving someone feeling like they’ve had their team “stolen” once again.

But whatever, these are meant to make a profit off of nostalgic feelings and jersey collectors. Buy one or not, it doesn’t affect the feelings of the overall brand.

The fact that the Avs and Canes lay claim to the old logos helps them make it out alive in the grueling course of Reverse Retro critics, unlike the Minnesota Wild’s attempt at being the Minnesota North Stars without stepping on the Dallas Stars’ history too much.

Now the only question I have left for the Avalanche is should I get this in Nathan MacKinnon or Mikko Rantanen?

Grade: A

Columbus Blue Jackets (based on the 2000-01 design)

The Columbus Blue Jackets read the directions for the assignment and nearly got a 100% on the final exam. These jerseys are incredible– even if they remind you of the early days of the Washington Capitals (and Washington’s current alternate jersey).

Sure the original Blue Jackets logo is a bit out there, but Columbus set the bar in terms of doing something different and giving the fans in the heart of Ohio a red jersey for the first time in franchise history.

It shouldn’t become commonplace, since– you know– they’re the Blue Jackets– “blue” is literally in their name, but for an “outlandish” marketing standpoint, this jersey has everything.

Except for one thing. Stinger’s not on the shoulder patch.

For whatever reason, adidas decided to include Columbus’ current cannon shoulder patch/alternate logo on this jersey instead of following the guidelines of simply reversing their original look.

That’s why they almost got a “100” on their exam. Just a few points off for not including the most iconic thing about the franchise’s early years and current mascot.

Grade: A

Dallas Stars (based on their 1997-2006 design)

Adidas claims this jersey is based on Dallas’ 1999 Stanley Cup champion look, but the star based design for the Stars began as a third jersey in 1997, before making its way to the full-time grounds for the home and road uniforms from 1999-2006.

Since rebranding ahead of the 2013-14 season, Dallas has put an emphasis on one thing– being Dallas. Gone are the days of the Minnesota North Stars. By removing any semblance of gold from their jersey, the Stars fully completed their transition from pre-relocation to post-relocation.

As a result, this monstrosity happened.

It’s not that the star-shaped design isn’t appreciated– it’s that it shouldn’t be matched with white pants, white gloves, white socks and drained of any color or originality to begin with, since the crest is rather muted as a result of the change from gold to silver on a white background.

Had the jersey been black with a white bottom star-striping pattern then it’d be a different story.

Grade: D

Detroit Red Wings (based on their 1987-2007 design)

Once more, adidas claims that this Reverse Retro jersey harkens back to a championship winning year for the Detroit Red Wings back in 1998. In reality, the Red Wings wore the same look from 1987-2007, with the only difference being that since the 2003-04 season, the NHL deemed white jerseys to be the road set instead of the home uniform.

This jersey seems to borrow the silver from Detroit’s 2017 Centennial Classic jersey to give it a little more definition than a long-sleeved plain white shirt with a logo slapped on the front and red numbers with a nameplate on the sides and back.

If only they would’ve picked something from Detroit’s days as the Detroit Cougars or even the Detroit Falcons.

The Cougars had some designs unlike any other in franchise history, while the Falcons used yellow with the usual red and white format for the club– marking the only time the team has ever used more than just red and white on a regular sweater.

Reversing the Falcons colors would’ve been a hard sell, sure, but the Cougars, man. There was potential and it was left untapped.

Grade: F

Edmonton Oilers (based on the 1979-80 design)

It’s simple, clean and a nod to the team’s inaugural NHL season, while subtly paying homage to their pre-Edmonton Oilers days as the Alberta Oilers in the World Hockey Association (WHA).

Orange is more prominent in what would otherwise likely be a better companion to their home uniform as a road jersey than their current road set, but that’s just probably one of the reasons why the entire jersey wasn’t done in orange instead of white as the base design– because it already exists (sure, with the more modern shade of blue and traffic cone orange, but you get the point).

These aren’t bad, but the Oilers never really stray far from the formula.

Todd McFarlane at least had fun with the brand and nudged it towards the future with his 2001-07 alternate jersey– love it or hate it.

There are just… …fine. The logo wasn’t reversed like some had hoped, but whatever.

Grade: B-

Florida Panthers (based on the 1993-98 design)

The Florida Panthers have long had an identity crisis.

For some, the leaping panther is a better looking logo than today’s spitting image of current head coach, Joel Quenneville, despite the modern logo dating back to the 2016-17 season, which was prior to Quenneville’s arrival behind the bench last season.

Confused? That’s exactly how Florida feels.

This team has probably flipped from red to blue and back again as many times as the state has in U.S. Presidential elections in the last few decades.

Florida’s first dark based uniform was red, then added a blue alternate jersey to their rotation from 1998-2003, before swapping the red with the blue as their new home look from 2003-06, prior to de-arching the nameplates on the back of the jersey on an otherwise untouched design in 2006-07– which was prior to Reebok’s demands that the Panthers use a template with vertical piping centered between the underarms and crest from 2007-11.

Anyway, the Panthers need a blue uniform in their set and this one utilizes the current colors of the franchise (red, blue, tan and white) well in the inverted aesthetic of how the club looked when the team first hit the ice in South Florida after almost being named the Florida Block Busters upon expansion in 1993.

At this point anything else is just filler material to describe a masterpiece that doesn’t really need words to be observed.

Grade: A

Los Angeles Kings (based on the 1988-91 design)

Purple “Forum Blue” is back and the Los Angeles Kings have never felt more royal– except for that time they won the Cup twice in a three-year span in 2012 and 2014.

The timeless look of the Wayne Gretzky era jerseys were given a fresh paint job with old leftover colors, which begs the question “is this really a Reverse Retro look or something new entirely from recycled parts?”

Has marketing gone too far?

Probably not, since there’s no burgers involved this time around.

While the Kings could’ve come up with something different, Los Angeles played it safe and went with something that encapsulates the spirit of the city– trying to be the Los Angeles Lakers.

You might not know some of the struggling actors in Hollywood or if that really was just Anze Kopitar that walked by, but everyone can identity a favorite (or hated, if you’re a Boston Celtics fan) Laker.

Grade: C+

Minnesota Wild (based on the Minnesota North Stars 1978-79 design)

Whereas the Carolina Hurricanes and Colorado Avalanche own and used some form of their old logo from prior to relocation for their Reverse Retro jerseys, the Minnesota Wild have no ties to the Minnesota North Stars because the North Stars moved to Dallas in 1993, so we’re left with the Wild logo as the crest on the front in 3-D and in North Stars colors.

By default, these jerseys should’ve been what the Stars used, but with the North Stars stylized “N” on the front of the jersey or Dallas could’ve just let Minnesota buy back that old logo or whatever, but instead we get this jersey that looks more appropriate for a local beer league team sponsored by Subway.

Some say the Wild should switch to these colors full time– especially with Dallas relinquishing gold from their palette ahead of the 2013-14 season, but those people should just move on like the North Stars did.

The Wild are here to stay and could’ve been really creative with a red or tan based primary color in a true Reverse Retro design based on their original look from 2000-03.

Besides, Minnesota could use a red jersey as an alternate, whether you like it or not. It is one of their team colors and it could go well with their more uniform approach to their jerseys since adidas took over ahead of the 2017-18 season.

Otherwise these are just fine. The yellow on green number font gives off a “Da Beauty League” vibe, which just isn’t very like the NHL to have fun.

Grade: C

Montreal Canadiens (based on the 1974-2007 design with 1909 elements, etc.)

While the Montreal Canadiens played it rather conservative with regards to their Reverse Retro look, the designers over at adidas really came up with something crisp, clean and hit it out of the park.

Montreal last had a third sweater in 2006-07, and it was really well done for being the one and only regular alternate jersey in franchise history.

Though the Habs have a timeless look that isn’t one to be messed with in any matter, there’s always an exception to every rule and this is it if the Canadiens are planning on using this blue jersey as an alternate in the long-term.

Then again, people from Montreal might feel weird about wearing what would otherwise be considered the Nordiques’ primary color, so there’s the “Battle of Québec” to consider.

If you’re a Habs diehard, maybe you don’t like this jersey. If you’re from Québec City and begrudgingly became a Habs fan after the Nordiques relocated to Colorado instead of joining the Boston Bruins fanbase north of the border or simply following the Avalanche, then perhaps this is the jersey for you.

Grade: A

Nashville Predators (based on the 1998-2001 design)

If the Nashville Predators had walked out onto the ice wearing these in 1998, it would’ve explained their evolution to the modern marigold jerseys a lot better than the simple reversal of the colors that they originally made ahead of the 2011-12 season before Reverse Retro became a thing for 2020-21 (and beyond?).

That said, Nashville’s original look inverted to a gold based jersey with the blue stripe separating the silver yoke that runs down the sleeves still looks fantastic– and with the old number and nameplate fonts too!

The one thing that’s not true to the original 1998 design (other than the slightly modified original crest), however, is the shoulder patch that originally debuted on the mustard yellow alternate sweater from 2001-07, but made its way to the home and road uniform’s shoulders from 2005-07.

Does that actually mean this look is really just based on the 2005-07 design and adidas doesn’t think that something as old as 15 years ago isn’t, you know, actually kind of old?

No big deal though, these jerseys are still great, since the Predators went with the better shoulder patch from their early days.

The guitar pick that’s been on their right shoulder of their regular jerseys since 2011 shouldn’t be afraid of going extinct.

Grade: A

New Jersey Devils (based on the 1982-92 design)

Italy! Great to see they finally got an NHL team.

The New Jersey Devils are paying homage to The Sopranos with these Italian flag inspired jerseys.

Actually, it’s just the inverted color scheme of their original road jersey and the Devils have a quality Reverse Retro jersey on their hands. If they plan on keeping the Heritage Jersey long-term, then this brings a fine balance to The Force.

If not, New Jersey should really design a black alternate jersey and roll with red, white, black and green as their main color scheme among the club’s four jersey options.

Now why do I have a craving for Sbarro?

Grade: A

New York Islanders (based on the 1978-84 design)

Was the Gorton’s Fisherman unavailable?

It doesn’t really look like the New York Islanders even tried at all, but upon further inspection you’ll notice that the orange and white are reversed on this jersey– and that’s besides the fact that the blue is a darker shade than how it looked back in the day (and nowadays too).

To the Isles’ credit, this jersey isn’t outlandish like most of their other attempts at creating a contemporary image for their club.

It’s uninspiring and, frankly, not that original, but it works. It just doesn’t offer much for the Reverse Retro vibes, however, which takes major points off overall.

At the very least it wasn’t oversimplified like their neighbors’ new threads in Manhattan.

Grade: D

New York Rangers (based on the 1996-98, 1999-2007 alternate)

Want to know how to kill a good thing? Make it a practice jersey.

These Statue of Liberty jerseys don’t scream “[g]ive me your tired “, but rather “I’m tired and I shouldn’t have been awoken. Now let me go back to sleep.”

The striping pattern on the sleeves would look better on a New England Patriots pro-shop sweater, which should probably unnerve New York Giants and New York Jets fans that are also New York Rangers fans.

It should’ve been red with blue, silver and white inverted stripes to truly make it “Reverse Retro”.

Instead, New York gave us this. Whatever this is.

Grade: F

Ottawa Senators (based on the 1992-93 design with the 1997-2007 crest)

Are you upset about the Ottawa Senators going back and modernizing an early version of their 2-D logo while casting off the red based home jerseys into the sunset? Well then here’s a red jersey for you!

It’s the reverse of the original black jersey, which is sort of back (there’s some minor differences in number font, striping, etc.) and it’s fine, but it just feels like something Sens fans have come to know and despise in recent years– it feels cheap.

Sure, Brady Tkachuk, Thomas Chabot, Matt Murray and Co. will look good in it, but introducing this jersey alongside the resurrected homage to the days of yore that the team currently has as home and road sweaters just makes this whole thing feel off.

That said, Ottawa does need a red jersey to complete their otherwise timeless set and it wasn’t like we’re going to get a reversed barber pole jersey anytime soon.

Usually something a little different is preferred, though, to make it feel like an alternate or at least a throwback to the original Senators franchise. This will work for now, however.

Grade: B+

Philadelphia Flyers (based on the 1984-97 design)

The inside of the neck of the jersey says it’s inspired by Philadelphia’s look in 1995, but the Flyers wore this design for much longer before, during and after the mid-90s.

Hell, the base of this design first emerged when “Cooperalls” were adorned, then promptly banned by the NHL because after two seasons they were found to be too much of a safety hazard (sliding on ice without any brakes became an issue because of the nature of the pants’ ability to act like a broom in curling and clear a path to the boards).

Anyway, the Flyers already have a solid set of jerseys to the extent that this one isn’t really necessary.

It might conjure images of Halloween, nightmares of Gritty or reminders of being sent down to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL) if you don’t perform well in them, but they’re fine, I guess.

Unnecessary, but fine.

Grade: C

Pittsburgh Penguins (based on the 1992-97 design)

The Pittsburgh Penguins became bold in the 1990s after winning their first Stanley Cup ring in franchise history.

First, in 1992, they introduced the “Robo-Penguin” crest to the world, then they made a jersey with diagonal lettering on the front as their road uniform.

Neither decision was very smart and only one of them was corrected on this Reverse Retro jersey, which– all things considered– doesn’t look that bad.

Sure the Penguin on the shoulders is free from his triangle like on their current alternate jerseys (former 2017 Stadium Series look), but the “Pittsburgh” letting seems to standout better on the white edition of this timeless classic (for better or worse).

More teams should experiment with diagonal alternates, but that’s not to say that every team can succeed– let alone barely get away with an acceptable look with just words on the front of their jersey.

There’s a lot of rich jersey history for the Pens though and some of that potential went untapped. It’s a shame, really.

Grade: C+

St. Louis Blues (based on the 1995-98 design)

Aside from the music, the St. Louis Blues are blue for a reason. Sure red is in the St. Louis city flag, but they’re the Blues. The BLUES.

This is almost as bad as the trumpet jerseys that were rightfully spited to the gates of the underworld.

It’d almost make sense to put the shoulder patch as the main crest on these, since then it’d at least make sense as an homage to what was almost the worst alternate jersey in the history of the league, but thankfully avoided due to Mike Keenan’s keen eye.

Some things are just better in concept, but in reality they’re not. As a fashion jersey, this is probably fine. As something the team has to wear on the ice for a game, well… …that’s different.

At least the team didn’t end up moving to Saskatoon back in 1983, right?

Grade: D

San Jose Sharks (based on the 1997-2007 design)

Adidas stipulates that this jersey harkens back to 1998, but the San Jose Sharks originally used this template as an alternate jersey back in 1997-98– the final season that San Jose wore their original uniforms since joining the league in 1991 as an expansion team.

The original Sharks logo is a timeless classic from the ’90s, while the fact that San Jose has already reached back and utilized their original setup to mark their 25th anniversary back in the 2015-16 season, it’s only fitting that they’d naturally move onto their second ever look for the subsequent nod to their franchise history.

In other words, ten years from now, you can probably expect an orange Reverse Retro jersey based on the 2007-13 design, because that’d keep the pattern going.

Anyway, these are fine. They’re nothing spectacular, since grey is a hard sell on a home uniform, but reviving an iconic look without murdering it by reversing it is exactly what the Reverse Retro jerseys are all about.

Grade: B

Tampa Bay Lightning (based on the 2001-07 design)

They really like pointing out when teams won Cups years ago with these jerseys, huh? Once again, adidas points out that this is from “2004” (as in “the year the Tampa Bay Lightning won their first Stanley Cup championship in franchise history”), but the Bolts used this template from 2001-07 after originally debuting the frameworks of this jersey when they first hit the ice in 1992 as an expansion team.

Tampa refined the look over the years by changing the number and nameplate font to italics, changing the font altogether and finally landing on the look that they wore the last time they won the Cup before 2020.

As such, these Reverse Retro jerseys are a great nod to the Lightning’s history as a hockey market.

Though their current uniforms might be a bit plain, a blue version of what is essentially their original design adds a spark of life to their complete jersey set.

Teams sometimes go back to old motifs after a while and if these are popular enough, the Lightning would be smart to find a way to mix their current logo with this jersey template or something.

Grade: A

Toronto Maple Leafs (based on the 1967-70 design and 1970-72, 1973-75 design, etc.)

What were they thinking? Seriously, what were they thinking?

It’s one thing to pull out the old alternate Leaf logo on the shoulders from “the bad Leaf era” or whatever, but it’s another thing to use elements from the 1960s Toronto Maple Leafs jersey and slap it on the 1970s and 1980s jersey design.

Toronto introduced new jerseys for the 1967 Stanley Cup Playoffs and went on to win the Cup wearing the Leafs logo that was brought back for its appearance on this Reverse Retro jersey, but again, it’s a sin according to Leafs fans and historians to put it on the base design of some of the worst Maple Leafs hockey in franchise history.

Also, it’s a crime to put a blue maple leaf on a blue Maple Leafs jersey– and with blue numbers on the sides and back too!

There’s so much adidas could’ve done with Toronto’s lengthy history of jerseys and instead they went for the most bland design.

If they hadn’t used up the throwbacks to the Toronto Arenas and Toronto St. Pats over the last few years, then that would’ve been a great opportunity for a Reverse Retro look that was truly something special.

Even still, they could’ve gone with anything from 1927-67 or 1992-2011 for a better retro feel.

These are just insulting to the Leafs’ legacy.

Grade: F

Vancouver Canucks (based on the 2001-06 alternate)

Gradients aren’t usually something that look great in sports– especially on a hockey jersey. Yet, this time around the Vancouver Canucks have made significant strides in gradient technology.

When this template first hit the ice in 2001, Vancouver utilized a slow change from blue to maroon which– while being a little bit out there– didn’t look completely out of place for Canucks standards.

It wasn’t the greatest thing ever seen, but it also wasn’t the worst, since Vancouver’s previous gradient design was a horizontal change as opposed to the almost symmetrical vertical approach.

Plus, the Canucks had those “V” jerseys before, so it can’t possibly get any worse, right?

This time around, instead of maroon, the Canucks are using green and a sharper looking number font. Sometimes progress takes time, but when it’s allowed the time to grow, the end result is something pretty special.

These Reverse Retro threads get a seal of approval as one of the better nods to an organization’s more recent past.

Grade: A

Vegas Golden Knights (based on the Las Vegas Thunder 1993-98 design)

The Vegas Golden Knights were born in 2017, therefore making it pretty difficult to reverse something retro that hadn’t even been born yet.

If you were thinking “well, they could at least reverse the colors of their jerseys” then you must not have noticed the introduction of their gold alternate uniform this offseason, so that limits you further.

Unless you get creative.

“Sin City” used to have an International Hockey League (IHL) team known as the Las Vegas Thunder.

The Thunder had a primarily a 1990s looking teal, silver, black and white color scheme and used the template that Vegas based their Reverse Retro jersey on to design this red edition with the Golden Knights’ alternate logo on the front of it.

It works, but at what cost?

Vegas could use a red jersey in their overall selection of jerseys to choose from, but this one probably won’t be getting too much time in the spotlight.

Even for a place where “a bit much” is the standard, this jersey seems a bit too much.

Grade: C

Washington Capitals (based on the 1995-2000 road design)

The Washington Capitals hit a home run by digging out the eagle and updating it with their current colors. The only thing that should change if these become part of their jersey rotation is the name and number font.

It’s nice to see something from the past brought into the future, but it’d also be nice to see it get cleaned up a bit more than just the occasional dusting.

It’s an iconic look from the days of a questionable change in the direction of the franchise’s branding, but in the end it made the team that much better.

Or maybe this all just the nostalgia talking. Either way, it gets them an “A”.

Grade: A

Winnipeg Jets (based on the old 1979-80 Winnipeg Jets)

Like the Minnesota Wild and their relation to the Minnesota North Stars, the current Winnipeg Jets have nothing to do with the old Winnipeg Jets, but at least the Jets have the ability to use the old Jets logo.

They also have the ability to use the old Jets’ colors, which could’ve led to a unique red based Reverse Retro jersey, but we got something that looks like it was designed by Snow Miser instead.

Did it really have to be grey?

The Aviator Jersey is at least more colorful than this and did a better job inverting the color scheme than whatever’s going on here.

The logo is fine, the rest of the jersey is, well, it leaves something to be desired.

Grade: D-

Categories
Free Agency

Petrovic signs with Flames

The Calgary Flames had a strong opening day in free agency. Not only did they add Jacob Markstrom earlier in the day on Friday, but Calgary also added Alexander Petrovic with a one-year, two-way, contract worth $700,000 at the NHL level and $300,000 at the AHL level.

Petrovic did not play in an NHL game last season after signing a professional tryout agreement with the Boston Bruins at training camp, then later earning a one-year contract and being sent to the Providence Bruins (AHL).

He amassed 2-18–20 totals in 54 games with the P-Bruins last season and might be a little more than just a depth signing if the Flames were in dire need.

Calgary wanted to improve their defense and they got their guy. What a time to be a Flames fan right now.

Categories
Free Agency NHL

Calgary lands Markstrom in free agency

Jacob Markstrom is the latest goalie off of the market, as he and the Calgary Flames agreed to a six-year, $36 million contract (worth $6.000 million per season). It was the longest unrestricted free agent signing of the day on Friday as the NHL’s free agency period began.

A native of Gävle, Sweden, Markstrom was originally drafted in the second round (31st overall) by the Florida Panthers in the 2008 NHL Draft and made his league debut with Florida in the 2010-11 season before he was later traded during the 2013-14 season to the Vancouver Canucks ahead of the 2014 trade deadline.

The 30-year-old goaltender had a 23-16-4 record in 43 games (43 starts) last season and amassed a 2.75 goals against average, as well as a .918 save percentage and two shutouts in that span.

For the first time in his career, he made a postseason start in the 2020 playoff format and carried Vancouver in 14 games to an 8-6 record with a 2.85 GAA and a .919 SV%– as well as one shutout– until an injury forced Thatcher Demko to takeover in the crease for the Canucks in their ultimate Second Round series loss to the Vegas Golden Knights in seven games.

Meanwhile, the Flames desperately needed an upgrade in net and can finally differentiate between having a starting goalie and a backup. For the first time in what feels like forever, this isn’t a 1A/1B situation.

Markstrom is an elite goaltender that’s been in the Pacific Division since March 4, 2014, so there’s enough familiarity in what the Flames are getting and will more than likely provide the stability Calgary has been after.

Categories
Free Agency NHL Nick's Net

Wild sign Talbot to three-year deal

Minnesota Wild General Manager, Bill Guerin, added depth to his crease by signing veteran goaltender, Cam Talbot, to a three-year contract worth $11.000 million ($3.667 million per season) on Friday.

The Wild have to negotiate a new contract with their current-restricted free agent goaltender, Kaapo Kähkönen, but once Guerin locks up the 24-year-old young goalie Minnesota will have some healthy competition for the starting and backup jobs in St. Paul between Talbot, Kähkönen and Alex Stalock.

Talbot was originally signed as a free agent by the New York Rangers on March 30, 2010, and broke into the league in the 2013-14 season as the backup to the now new Washington Capitals goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist, and spent parts of two seasons as a Ranger before he was traded to the Edmonton Oilers on June 27, 2015.

After parts of four seasons with the Oilers, Talbot was dealt to the Philadelphia Flyers leading up to the 2019 trade deadline, then signed a one-year deal with the Calgary Flames prior to last season on July 1st.

The 33-year-old native of Caledonia, Ontario went 12-10-1 with a 2.63 goals against average, a .919 save percentage and two shutouts in 26 games (22 starts) with the Flames in 2019-20.

He recorded a 5-4 record with a 2.42 GAA and a .924 SV%, as well as two shutouts for Calgary in all 10 postseason games this summer and has a career record of 150-122-25 in 314 regular season NHL games with a 2.61 GAA, a .915 SV% and 22 shutouts in that span with the Rangers, Oilers, Flyers and Flames.

Talbot played three seasons of college hockey at the University of Alabama-Huntsville from 2007-10 and helped save the independent program in the offseason.

Categories
Free Agency NHL

Oilers add a bit of depth

While the Oilers are out hunting for a goaltender, they’re also adding some depth in hopes for another winning season.

After being bought out by the Nashville Predators, Kyle Turris looks to revitalize his career in Edmonton. He is signed through the 2021-22 season, earning money from his buy out and also an addition $1.65m from Edmonton.

The 31-year-old native of New Westminster, British Columbia, has 416 points (165 goals, 251 assists) in 726 career NHL games for the Phoenix Coyotes, Ottawa Senators and– most recently– the Nashville Predators.

He was originally drafted by the Coyotes in the first round (3rd overall) of the 2007 NHL Draft.

Former Calgary Flame, Alan Quine signs a one year $750,000 deal. Simple addition for some depth and more development. The Oilers are also adding Seth Griffith to their roster on a two-way two year deal that’s worth $750,000. Their minor league team will see some in net depth as Anton Forsberg signs a one year deal.

Categories
Free Agency NHL

Penguins sign Mark Jankowski

The Pittsburgh Penguins signed penalty kill specialist, Mark Jankowski, to a one-year deal worth $700,000 on Friday.

Jankowski, 26, is a solid depth player, but never made much of an impact at 5-on-5 play with the Calgary Flames in his tenure.

A native of Hamilton, Ontario, he was drafted by the Flames in the first round (21st overall) in the 2012 NHL Draft and had seven points (five goals, two assists) last season in 56 games with Calgary and was a minus-12.

His production fell off after setting career-highs in assists (18) and points (32), while amassing 14 goals in 79 hames in 2018-19, and had a career-high 17 goals in 72 games in the 2017-18 season with the Flames.

He’s more of a bottom-six role player these days and has 36-28–64 totals in 208 career NHL games (all with Calgary).

Categories
NHL

NHL 2020 Top 10 Free Agents

The Tampa Bay Lightning completed their bubble journey and were crowned the 2020 Stanley Cup Champions… but that’s old news now. On Tuesday, the first round of the NHL draft happened followed by rounds 2-7 on Wednesday.

With all of that excitement now in the past (or still in the present for some), it’s time to move on in the NHL offseason. Friday, October 9th marks the first day of the NHL free agency period. An exciting day as fans are anxious to see if their team will make any moves, some will be happy, some on the other hand will experience heartbreak.

This offseason will be no different despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Many top stars are expected to be on the move, and here’s what I expect to happen to the top stars of this year’s NHL free agency class.

The crown jewel of this year’s free agency class is without a doubt St. Louis Blues defender Alex Pietrangelo. It has been reported that Pietrangelo will in fact test the free agent market to see who will offer him the best deal.

As we know, the St. Louis Blues had an impeccable run back in 2019, winning the Stanley Cup in seven games over Boston. However, the Blues won’t have any luck in resigning their captain. Here’s probably a prediction that fans of a team on the East Coast is going to love.

For the 2020-21 season, Alex Pietrangelo will be a member of the Boston Bruins. Yes, the 2019-20 Presidents’ Trophy winner will land the top free agent in this year’s free agent class.

With Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara as unrestricted free agents, Boston has money to spend (about 9 million). With Tampa Bay looking like an actual threat now, Boston is seeing its Stanley Cup window closing. Pietrangelo would be the perfect signing to boost Boston’s chances again of challenging for the Stanley Cup.

If teams miss out on Pietrangelo, the consolation prize is just as nice. This year it’s Taylor Hall. The former number one pick won the Hart Trophy back in the 2017-18 season, but since then, his production on the ice hasn’t been the same. It appears that Hall will not return to Arizona, so where will he go? Colorado.

Yes, the Avalanche will land Hall.

Hall needs to locate to another team to give him the confidence booster he had back in 2017. Nathan MacKinnon will do exactly that. Hall will join a contender and possibly push Colorado over the edge that they have desperately been trying to cross over.

As for the rest, here’s what I got.

  • Torey Krug (D) 2019-2020 (Boston) —> Detroit Red Wings
  • Tyson Barrie (D) 2019-2020 (Toronto) —> Toronto Maple Leafs
  • Jacob Markstrom (G) 2019-2020 (Vancouver) —> Edmonton Oilers
  • Mike Hoffman (LW/RW) 2019-2020 (Florida) —> Carolina Hurricanes
  • Braden Holtby (G) 2019-2020 (Washington) —> Calgary Flames
  • Evgenii Dadonov (RW)- 2019-2020 (Florida) —> Florida Panthers
  • Tyler Toffoli (RW/LW) 2019-2020 (Vancouver) —> Los Angeles Kings
  • Mikael Granlund (C/LW) 2019-2020 (Nashville) —> Nashville Predators

One more time just as a friendly reminder, NHL free agency starts this Friday!

Categories
NHL Nick's Net

2020 NHL Entry Draft: Round 1 Recap

Round 1 of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft was held virtually Tuesday night after the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic changed plans from hosting the draft at Bell Centre in Montreal to a properly socially distanced from home event.

Coverage of this year’s first round begins Tuesday night at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN in the United States, as well as SN and TVAS in Canada. Rounds 2-7 will be televised at 11:30 a.m. ET on NHLN in the U.S. and SN1 in Canada.

As always, there were plenty of surprises and (possibly) a lack of trades. Here’s how it all went down.

2020 NHL Entry Draft Round 1

1. New York Rangers–> LW Alexis Lafrenière, Rimouski Océanic, (QMJHL)

2. Los Angeles Kings–> C Quinton Byfield, Sudbury Wolves (OHL)

3. Ottawa Senators (from San Jose Sharks)–> C/LW Tim Stützle, Adler Mannheim (DEL)

4. Detroit Red Wings–> RW Lucas Raymond, Frölunda HC (SHL)

5. Ottawa Senators–> D Jake Sanderson, USA U-18 (USHL)

6. Anaheim Ducks–> D Jamie Drysdale, Erie Otters (OHL)

7. New Jersey Devils–> RW Alexander Holtz, Djurgårdens IF (SHL)

8. Buffalo Sabres–> RW Jack Quinn, Ottawa 67s (OHL)

9. Minnesota Wild–> C Marco Rossi, Ottawa 67s (OHL)

10. Winnipeg Jets–> C/LW Cole Perfetti, Saginaw Spirit (OHL)

11. Nashville Predators–> G Yaroslav Askarov, SKA-Neva St. Petersburg (VHL)

12. Florida Panthers–> C Anton Lundell, HFIK (Liiga)

13. Carolina Hurricanes (from Toronto Maple Leafs)–> C/RW Seth Jarvis, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)

14. Edmonton Oilers–> C/LW Dylan Holloway, Wisconsin Badgers (NCAA)

15. Toronto Maple Leafs (from Pittsburgh Penguins)–> LW Rodion Amirov, Tolpar Ufa (MHL)

16. Montreal Canadiens–> D Kaiden Guhle, Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)

17. Chicago Blackhawks–> LW Lukas Reichel, Eisbären Berlin (DEL)

18. New Jersey Devils (from Arizona Coyotes)–> C/RW Dawson Mercer, Chicoutimi Saguenéens (QMJHL)

19. New York Rangers (from Calgary Flames)–> D Braden Schneider, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)

20. New Jersey Devils (from Vancouver Canucks via Tampa Bay Lightning)–> D Shakir Mukhamadullin, Tolpar Ufa (MHL)

21. Columbus Blue Jackets–> RW Yegor Chinakhov, Avangard Omsk (KHL)

22. Washington Capitals (from Carolina Hurricanes via New York Rangers and Calgary Flames)–> C Hendrix Lapierre, Chicoutimi Saguenéens (QMJHL)

23. Philadelphia Flyers–> RW Tyson Foerster, Barrie Colts (OHL)

24. Calgary Flames (from Washington Capitals)–> C Connor Zary, Kamloops Blazers (WHL)

25. Colorado Avalanche–> D Justin Barron, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)

26. St. Louis Blues–> LW Jake Neighbours, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)

27. Anaheim Ducks (from Boston Bruins)–> RW Jacob Perreault, Sarnia Sting (OHL)

28. Ottawa Senators (from New York Islanders)–> C Ridly Greig, Brandon Wheat Kings (OHL)

29. Vegas Golden Knights–> C Brendan Brisson, Chicago Steel (USHL)

30. Dallas Stars–> C Mavrik Bourque, Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)

31. San Jose Sharks (from Tampa Bay Lightning)–> RW Ozzy Wiesblatt, Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)

Trades made on Day 1 of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft:

  • The Columbus Blue Jackets traded F Josh Anderson to the Montreal Canadiens for F Max Domi and a 2020 3rd round pick (78th overall).
  • The Calgary Flames traded their 2020 1st round pick (19th overall) to the New York Rangers for a 2020 1st round pick (22nd overall from Carolina via NYR) and a 2020 3rd round pick (72nd overall).
  • Calgary later flipped their 2020 1st round pick (22nd overall from Carolina via NYR) to the Washington Capitals for a 2020 1st round pick (24th overall) and a 2020 3rd round pick (80th overall).
Categories
NHL Nick's Net Previews

2020 Stanley Cup Final Preview

It’s not June, but it is the Stanley Cup Final. This year’s matchup will be between the Western Conference champion, Dallas Stars, and the Eastern Conference champion, Tampa Bay Lightning.

For the first time in recorded history, the Stanley Cup will be awarded in the month of September.

If you’re still in the bubble, congrats on making it this far!

If you were in the bubble, but were eliminated, you still went through a lot of things most of us will never get to know or experience.

If you have yet to be in the bubble– stay tuned for 2020-21 season announcements, because National Hockey League commissioner, Gary Bettman, indicated on Saturday that the 2020-21 regular season could start in mid-December or sometime in January with the expectation still set on a full-82 game schedule and a return to the usual 16-team playoff format.

The entire hockey world (well, those that care about the NHL anyway) shifts its focus to that of the 2020 Stanley Cup Final.

It’s time for one team to win four games before the other team and raise the Cup high over their heads– even though nobody quite knows what a postgame celebration might look like, let alone what travel plans might be in store for Lord Stanley’s mug as it usually ventures across borders for a day with each member of the winning team.

For the first time since 2000, the Stars are in the Final.

They last lost to the New Jersey Devils in seven games in their most recent Final appearance and Dallas has witnessed a generation pass, as well as players come and go between now and then.

For the first time since 2015, the Lightning are in the Final.

They lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games in that Final– which was just their second appearance in franchise history– and Tampa hasn’t seen much change, save for the acquisition of youth and glue guys to go along with their “stick to the plan” regimen since then.

(2) Tampa Bay Lightning (43-21-6, 92 points) vs (3) Dallas Stars (37-24-8, 82 points)

Tampa: 70 games played, .657 points percentage, 35 regulation wins.

Dallas: 69 games played, .594 points percentage, 26 regulation wins.

The Tampa Bay Lightning were led by Nikita Kucherov in regular season scoring with 33-52–85 totals in 68 games played prior to the shortened conclusion of the regular season due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Steven Stamkos had the second-most points on the roster with 29 goals and 37 assists (66 points) in 57 games before missing all action since the league’s return due to injury. He had core muscle surgery in mid-March, skated in June, but was not cleared to play in Tampa’s exhibition, Round Robin or playoff matchups since then.

There is currently no known timetable for his return.

Meanwhile, Brayden Point (25-39–64 totals in 66 games) continue to emerge as a high-caliber center with the third-most points on the Lightning roster in the 2019-20 regular season.

Tampa rolled through the Columbus Blue Jackets in five games in the First Round– avenging Columbus’ sweep of the Bolts in the 2019 First Round in the process.

Then the Lightning made a repeated effort of their 2018 Second Round matchup with the Boston Bruins, eliminating the B’s in five games once again.

In the Eastern Conference Final, the Bolts were met with their toughest opponent yet as the New York Islanders took Tampa to six games before succumbing to the almighty powers that exist for the Lightning.

Tampa advanced to their third Stanley Cup Final appearance in the process.

They have been almost untouchable past regulation, but they are beatable as the Islanders pointed out in double overtime in Game 5 of their series.

Kucherov (6-20–26 totals in 19 games played) leads the Lightning in playoff scoring, while Point (9-16–25 totals in 17 GP) is hot on his tail– as long as he is healthy and in the lineup.

Victor Hedman leads all defenders with the most goals this postseason with nine and has six assists to go along with 15 points in 19 games for the third-most points on Tampa’s playoff roster.

Ondrej Palat (13 points in 19 games) and Yanni Gourde (12 points in 19 games) round out the top-five in playoff scoring for the Bolts.

Meanwhile, after finishing as a finalist for the Vezina Trophy for the 2019-20 regular season, Andrei Vasilevskiy (35-14-3 in 52 games played, 52 starts, 2.56 goals against average, .917 save percentage and three shutouts in the regular season) has posted a 14-5 record in all 19 games for Tampa in the 2020 postseason.

Through he has yet to record a shutout in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs– let along in his entire postseason career- Vasilevskiy has accrued a 1.82 GAA and a .931 SV% without yielding time in the crease to his backup, Curtis McElhinney (8-7-3 in 18 games, 18 starts, 2.89 GAA, .906 SV% and one shutout in the 2019-20 regular season).

Head coach, Jon Cooper, leads the Lightning behind the bench, while General Manager, Julien BriseBois hasn’t had all that much to do during the season, save for the important acquisitions of Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow to add speed and grit to their bottom-six forwards.

The Dallas Stars were led by Tyler Seguin in regular season scoring with 17-33–50 totals in 69 games played before the 2019-20 regular season was cut short by the pandemic.

Jamie Benn had 19 goals and 20 assists (39 points) for the second-most points for the Stars in 69 games, while Miro Heiskanen had the third-most points for Dallas with 8-27–35 totals in 69 games in his sophomore campaign.

Dallas trailed, 3-0, within the first seven minutes of Game 6 of their First Round matchup with the Calgary Flames as a Game 7 was all but likely to be forced and some left scratching their heads regarding the Stars.

The Stars came back to win, 7-3, and eliminated Calgary in six games in the 2020 First Round thanks to a five-point night (including four goals) from Denis Gurianov.

After the Colorado Avalanche forced a Game 7 in their Second Round matchup with Dallas, Joel Kiviranta became the first rookie to complete a hat trick with a game-winning overtime goal in a Game 7 to send the Stars to the Western Conference Final.

From there, Dallas beat the Vegas Golden Knights in five games to advance to their fifth Stanley Cup Final appearance in history.

Sometimes it pays to be good. Sometimes it pays to be lucky.

Other times it pays to be good and lucky– and that’s how the 2020 postseason has gone for the Stars.

In the postseason, Heiskanen has emerged as Dallas’ best player with five goals and 17 assists (22 points) in 21 games played. Heiskanen is on track to setting some franchise records as long as nothing cuts his postseason run short.

Benn has the second-most points on the playoff roster with 8-10–18 totals in 21 games, followed by Gurianov (9-8–17 totals in 21 games) for the third-most, John Klingberg (3-13–16 totals in 20 games) for the fourth-most and Joe Pavelski (9-5–14 totals in 21 games), as well as Alexander Radulov (8-6–14 totals in 21 games) tied for the fifth-most points on the Stars this postseason.

Anton Khudobin (16-8-4 in 30 games, 26 starts, 2.22 GAA, .930 SV% in the regular season) is the de facto starting goaltender with Ben Bishop (21-16-4 in 44 games, 43 starts, 2.50 GAA, .920 SV% and two shutouts in 2019-20) out due to injury for most of the postseason.

Khudobin’s spectacular run to the Final at 34-years-old has come on the backs of a 12-6 record in 19 games (18 starts), as well as a 2.62 GAA, a .920 SV% and one shutout in that span.

Bishop made three appearances in the 2020 postseason, posting a 1-2-0 record with a 5.43 GAA and an .844 SV% in the process.

Meanwhile, Jake Oettinger made his NHL debut– the second goaltender to make his NHL debut this postseason, joining Dan Vladar of the Boston Bruins in doing so– to the tune of a 0-0-0 record in one relief appearance with a 0.00 GAA and a 1.000 SV%.

He had five saves on five shots against in 18 minutes of gameplay.

Rick Bowness took over as the interim head coach for the Stars on Dec. 10th after Jim Montgomery was fired due to unprofessional conduct (Montgomery entered rehab for alcohol abuse and has since rejoined the league as an assistant coach with the St. Louis Blues).

Dallas General Manager, Jim Nill, hasn’t rocked the boat with any major player acquisitions during the season, but certainly added to the depth of veteran experience with the additions of Pavelski and Corey Perry in free agency.

The Stars went 2-0-0 against the Lightning in the regular season– having won both games in overtime.

Khudobin made 45 saves on 48 shots faced in his, 4-3, win at Amalie Arena on Dec. 19th, while Bishop earned the overtime win with 23 saves on 25 shots faced in a, 3-2, Stars victory on Jan. 27th at American Airlines Center.

Home ice means next to nothing in the bubble.

The Stars are this year’s dark horse team that went on a run that doesn’t seem to show any signs of stopping anytime soon.

That said, the Lightning are supposed to be the team to beat this year.

If it goes short, expect Tampa to be the team leaving Edmonton with the Cup, but otherwise the writing is on the wall for this year’s Final to go all seven games with the Dallas Stars emerging victorious with their second Stanley Cup ring in franchise history.

There’s just too much that they’ve already overcome to not be in their favor ultimately.

Regular season outcomes:

4-3 F/OT DAL at Amalie Arena on Dec. 19th, 3-2 F/OT DAL at American Airlines Center on Jan. 27th

Schedule:

9/19- Game 1 DAL @ TBL in Edmonton 7:30 PM ET on NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS

9/21- Game 2 DAL @ TBL in Edmonton 8 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS

9/23- Game 3 TBL @ DAL in Edmonton 8 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS

9/25- Game 4 TBL @ DAL in Edmonton 8 PM ET on NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS

9/26- Game 5 DAL @ TBL in Edmonton 8 PM ET on NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS*

9/28- Game 6 TBL @ DAL in Edmonton 8 PM ET on NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS*

9/30- Game 7 DAL @ TBL in Edmonton 8 PM ET on NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS*

*If necessary

Categories
NHL Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Take Five: Five takeaways from Game 2 of the 2020 Western Conference Final

Paul Stastny opened the game’s scoring with the eventual game-winning goal as the Vegas Golden Knights shutout the Dallas Stars, 3-0, in Game 2 of the 2020 Western Conference Final to tie the series, 1-1.

William Karlsson and Tomas Nosek each had a goal in the win as the Golden Knights evened the series thanks to Robin Lehner’s second consecutive shutout– his fourth of the postseason overall.

So with Game 3 in mind on Thursday night (8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS), let’s review some takeaways from Game 2 and where the series might go from here.

1. Now that we’ve seen Vegas respond, the obvious “will Dallas respond in Game 3?” must be asked.

Dallas came out flying in Game 1, despite only scoring one goal and winning, 1-0– Vegas looked flat to kick off the series.

Just like in 2018, however, the Golden Knights went full throttle in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final, nearly scored four goals (Shea Theodore had a goal disallowed due to incidental contact with the goaltender courtesy of Max Pacioretty on the doorstep of the crease) and notched the shutout to tie the series.

Now, of course, how will the Stars respond?

Especially since they were outshot, 8-5, in the first period and, 19-7, in the second period alone. After 40 minutes, the Stars trailed the Golden Knights, 3-0, on the scoreboard (all Vegas goals were scored in the second period– traditionally what has been a better period for Dallas since their comeback over the Calgary Flames in Game 6 back in the First Round) and, 27-12, in total shots on goal entering the second intermission.

To Dallas’ credit, however, the Stars outshot Vegas, 12-5, in the third period alone.

In fact, the Golden Knights didn’t even have a shot on goal through the midpoint of the final frame, despite finishing with the advantage in shots on net, 32-24, at the final horn.

How will Stars interim head coach, Rick Bowness, respond to Vegas bringing out the big guns?

Especially since Ryan Reaves returned from his one-game suspension and suited up alongside William Carrier and Nick Cousins, which has been an effective shutdown fourth line thus far in the postseason.

2. Never tip your hand on a good future goalie.

Stars goalie, Jake Oettinger, made his NHL debut after Anton Khudobin was pulled prior to the third period.

The Boston University Terriers men’s hockey team standout amassed a league-leading .917 SV% among first year American Hockey League goaltenders in 2019-20 with the Texas Stars (AHL affiliate of Dallas).

Oettinger was the second goalie to make his league debut this postseason, joining Dan Vladar of the Boston Bruins as the other goalie to do so in the 2020 playoffs and marking the first time since 1937, that two goalies made their NHL debuts in the same postseason.

Whereas Vladar was fed to the wolves (a.k.a. the Tampa Bay Lightning) without much help in both ends of the ice, the Stars played better in front of their backup goaltender after clearly getting the message from Bowness– that they had let Khudobin down.

Oettinger only faced five shots and made five saves in 17:09 time on ice.

Yes, you read that right.

Despite Khudobin amassing 40 minutes played on Tuesday, Oettinger played less than a full period because Bowness pulled his netminder for an extra attacker with lots of time remaining in the game on the off-chance Dallas could score three quick goals and tie the game, at least.

They did not, but in the meantime, at least they didn’t rush Oettinger into any NHL action before it became absolutely necessary (though some watchful eyes of the minor leagues might wonder why Oettinger didn’t get a start earlier in the postseason to offset Khudobin’s workload while Ben Bishop is still injured and “unfit to play”).

Kudos to the Stars for not letting everyone else know about Oettinger’s impressive development thus far, though.

3. So… Robin Lehner the rest of the way?

This one should be obvious, but Lehner just had his fourth shutout this postseason (and second consecutive, if you didn’t read earlier).

Though Marc-Andre Fleury made 24 saves on 25 shots in Game 1, Lehner is the hotter goaltender right now– hands down.

Fleury’s 2.27 goals against average and .910 save percentage is fine. It pairs well with his 3-1 record in four games in the 2020 postseason.

But Lehner has a 1.84 GAA and a .924 SV% to go with the four shutouts, as well as a 9-4 record in 13 games played, which, if you’re wondering is better than Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Lightning in GAA and shutouts.

Vasilevskiy is 11-3 with Tampa so far in 14 games and has a 1.92 GAA, a .930 SV% and no shutouts in that span.

Yeah, this should be an easy decision for Golden Knights head coach, Peter DeBoer. It’s Lehner’s crease until the team advances or comes up short this year.

4. They scored a goal (at even strength)!

The Golden Knights entered Game 2 against Dallas without a goal from their forwards at even strength since the third period of Game 4 against the Vancouver Canucks in the Second Round.

Thankfully, Stastny put an end to Vegas’ misery at 5-on-5 (or 4-on-4) play with his third goal of the 2020 postseason at 4:53 of the second period.

Vegas added one more goal at even strength when Nosek scored his second playoff goal this year on a beautiful 3-on-1 rush to make it a three-goal game at 14:32 of the second period.

Prior to Stastny’s tally, however, the Golden Knights’ last four goals (dating back to Game 6 against Vancouver in the Second Round) included two empty net goals and a pair of goals from Theodore.

As long as the compete level from Game 2 doesn’t dissipate, Vegas looks to have snapped their even strength skid.

5. Shutouts galore!

Vegas’ last four games have all been shutouts.

The Canucks shutout the Golden Knights, 4-0, in Game 6 of their Second Round matchup as Thatcher Demko emerged as a playoff hero before the Golden Knights returned the favor with a, 3-0, shutout in Game 7– courtesy of Lehner.

To kick things off in the 2020 Western Conference Final, Khudobin had a, 1-0, shutout in Game 1 for the Stars, then Lehner returned the favor again with another, 3-0, shutout in Game 2 for Vegas.

Then there’s this to consider– Lehner is the first NHL goaltender to record four shutouts in a single postseason since Fleury did so in 2018 with the Golden Knights on their run to a Stanley Cup Final appearance in their inaugural season.

Only five goalies in league history have recorded more shutouts in a playoff year.

Lehner’s extended his shutout streak to 131:44 in the process, which is the second-longest postseason shutout streak by a Golden Knights goaltender since Fleury had a 144:04 shutout streak going in 2018.

And finally, with both teams earning a shutout through the first two games of the Western Conference Final, Dallas and Vegas joined the Toronto Maple Leafs and Columbus Blue Jackets this season as the only teams to record shutouts in their first two games in a series this year.

The Stars and Golden Knights also joined a longer list in the process since the NHL’s Modern Era (since 1943-44) that includes the Lightning and New York Islanders in the 2004 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal, the Islanders and Ottawa Senators in the 2003 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal, the Philadelphia Flyers and Senators in the 2002 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal, the Florida Panthers and New York Rangers in the 1997 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal, the New Jersey Devils and Rangers in the 1997 Eastern Conference Semifinal and the Montreal Canadiens and Maple Leafs in the 1947 Stanley Cup Final.

Here’s to another shutout in Game 3 for either team to make more history, probably.