Categories
NHL Nick's Net

Forbort scores pair in, 5-2, win for Boston

Derek Forbort notched his first career two-goal game and earned his second career game-winning goal in the process, while leading the Boston Bruins to a, 5-2, win over the Philadelphia Flyers Saturday night at Wells Fargo Center.

Linus Ullmark (4-3-0, 2.86 goals-against average, .908 save percentage in seven games played) made 29 saves on 31 shots against in the win for Boston.

Philadelphia goaltender, Martin Jones (3-2-0, 2.82 goals-against average, .920 save percentage in five games played), stopped 39 out of 44 shots faced in the loss.

The Bruins improved to 9-5-0 (18 points) on the season and remain 5th in the Atlantic Division, while the Flyers fell to 8-5-3 (19 points) overall and stuck in 4th place in the Metropolitan Division.

As a result of Saturday night’s win, the B’s are now 1-1-0 against Philadelphia this season and will face the Flyers once more in the 2021-22 regular season schedule on Jan. 13th at TD Garden.

Trent Frederic (upper body) remained out of the lineup for Boston, while head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made several changes to his lines with Craig Smith and Curtis Lazar returning to action.

Smith took to the third line right wing with Jake DeBrusk at left wing and Erik Haula at center, while Lazar was inserted on the fourth line right wing with Anton Blidh to the left of Tomáš Nosek.

On defense, Mike Reilly was back after serving as a healthy scratch in Boston’s, 5-2, victory over the Montréal Canadiens last Sunday.

Reilly suited up on the left side of the third defensive pairing with Jakub Zboril as his partner and Connor Clifton joining Karson Kuhlman in the press box on the short list of healthy scratches for the Bruins.

Oskar Steen was reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Monday.

Taylor Hall tripped up Claude Giroux to present the Flyers with their first power play of the night at 4:36 of the first period, but Philadelphia wasn’t able to convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Midway through the opening frame, Giroux tripped Brandon Carlo and presented Boston with their first power play opportunity of the evening at 10:19.

The Bruins even had a 5-on-3 advantage for 12 seconds when Justin Braun tripped David Pastrnak at 12:07, but the B’s couldn’t muster anything on either power play.

Late in the period, Lazar went deep on a forecheck and ensured that a puck chipped in from Matt Grzelcyk would find its way onto another Bruins skater’s stick.

Blidh sent a quick pass to Nosek from the trapezoid to the slot where Nosek (2) elevated a backhand shot under the bar from close range to give Boston the first lead of the night, 1-0, at 18:25 of the first period.

Blidh (2) and Lazar (3) tallied the assists on Nosek’s goal.

Entering the first intermission, the Bruins led, 1-0, on the scoreboard and outshot the Flyers, 21-8.

The B’s also held the advantage in takeaways (3-2) and hits (9-7), while Philly led in blocked shots (3-1), giveaways (4-2) and faceoff win percentage (60-40).

Philadelphia was 0/1 on the power play, while Boston was 0/2 on the skater advantage heading into the middle frame.

It didn’t take the Bruins long to extend their lead to two-goals as Forbort (3) sent a blast from the point that may have tipped off of Braun’s stick and floated over Jones’ blocker side to make it, 2-0, 30 seconds into the second period.

Brad Marchand (12) and Pastrnak (10) recorded the assists on Forbort’s first goal of the night.

Less than a minute later, however, Boston gave up a goal as Cam Atkinson won a race to a loose puck in the trapezoid and bounced a shot off of Ullmark before Derick Brassard (3) scooped up the rebound goal while crashing the net– cutting Boston’s lead in half.

Atkinson (3) and Rasmus Ristolainen (4) had the assists on the goal and the Flyers trailed, 2-1, at 1:22 of the second period.

About a couple minutes later, Forbort tripped Joel Farabee and was sent to the penalty box at 3:42, but Philadelphia wasn’t able to convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Marchand cut a rut to the sin bin after a post-whistle scrum resulted in an unsportsmanlike conduct infraction at 8:30.

It didn’t take the Flyers long to convert on the power play as Brassard (4) received a pass that deflected off of Lazar’s stick and buried a catch and release goal– tying the game, 2-2, in the process.

Giroux (8) and Ivan Provorov (4) tabbed the assists on Brassard’s power-play goal at 9:25 of the second period.

About a minute later, Charlie McAvoy took exception to Farabee’s aggressive play and the two exchanged fisticuffs– yielding five-minute majors for fighting at 10:32, as a result.

Late in the period, Smith setup Forbort (4) for a snap shot over Jones’ glove and under the bar to put Boston ahead, 3-2, on what became the eventual game-winning goal.

Smith (1) and DeBrusk (2) had the assists on Forbort’s second goal of the game as the Bruins defender doubled his career-high goals in a season (four) in just his 14th game with Boston at 16:27 of the second period.

Through 40 minutes of action, the B’s led, 3-2, on the scoreboard and dominated shots on goal, 34-19, including a, 13-11, advantage in the second period alone.

Boston led in blocked shots (8-5), takeaways (5-4), hits (25-18) and faceoff win% (55-45), while both teams had five giveaways each after two periods.

Philadelphia was 1/3 on the power play, while the Bruins remained 0/2 on the skater advantage entering the final frame.

Early in the final frame, Haula fed Smith with a lead pass into the zone before Smith (1) beat Jones on the short side to give Boston another two-goal lead.

Haula (2) and DeBrusk (3) tallied the assists on Smith’s first goal of the season and the Bruins led, 4-2, at 1:28 of the third period.

Oskar Lindblom was sent to the sin bin for hooking at 4:11, but Boston’s power play didn’t last long as Patrice Bergeron cut a rut in Lindblom’s wake with a hooking infraction of his own at 4:29.

After a span of 1:42 at 4-on-4, the Flyers had an abbreviated power play, but couldn’t muster anything past Ullmark.

Carlo went to the box for tripping Brassard at 11:54 and Philadelphia was set to begin a power play on an offensive zone faceoff– except Brassard got thrown out before the draw, so Giroux glided in to take the faceoff against Bergeron, but then the resulting redo was botched.

Bergeron might have accidentally nudged the linesman, but officials on the ice determined it was Giroux– for some unexplained reason– that had committed a faceoff violation and (seeing as it was Philadelphia’s second violation on the same faceoff) resulted in an automatic bench minor for delay of game.

Giroux protested to no avail as Zack MacEwen skated to the box at 11:54– negating Philly’s power play for 4-on-4 action instead.

Less than a minute later, Pastrnak sent a pass back to Zboril in the attacking zone whereby Zboril was patient with the puck before giving it back to his fellow Czechia native.

Pastrnak (5) then held the rubber biscuit while cutting through the slot before wrapping the puck high behind Jones’ glove into the open twine.

Zboril (2) and Charlie Coyle (4) were credited with the assists as the Bruins took a, 5-2, lead at 12:47 of the third period.

Finally, in the last entry on the event sheet for the night, Forbort hooked MacEwen and was assessed a minor infraction at 14:20, but the Flyers couldn’t score on the resulting power play.

At the final horn, Boston had won, 5-2, and finished the night leading in shots on goal, 44-31, despite trailing Philadelphia, 12-10, in shots on net in the third period alone.

The Bruins exited the building leading in blocked shots (9-8), giveaways (7-5), hits (33-29) and faceoff win% (51-49).

The Flyers finished the night 1/5 on the power play, while the B’s left Wells Fargo Center 0/3 on the skater advantage.

Boston improved to 7-3-0 (3-2-0 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal, 7-0-0 (3-0-0 on the road) when leading after the first period and 6-1-0 (3-0-0 on the road) when leading after two periods this season.

Philadelphia, meanwhile, dropped to 2-5-1 (1-3-0 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 1-3-1 (1-2-0 at home) when trailing after one period and 1-4-2 (0-2-1 on home ice) when trailing after the second period in 2021-22.

The Bruins return home on Sunday to host the Calgary Flames before hitting the road to face the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center next Wednesday (Nov. 24th) prior to closing out November with a three-game homestand including next Friday’s (Nov. 26th) matinee matchup with the New York Rangers– which will air nationally on ABC at 1 p.m. ET as part of the 2021 NHL Thanksgiving Showdown.

Categories
NHL Nick's Net

Flyers ground Bruins in, 6-3, loss on the road

Despite outshooting the Philadelphia Flyers, 40-25, the Boston Bruins lost, 6-3, on the road at Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday night in front of a national TV audience in their first regular season matchup on TNT.

Martin Jones (1-0-0, 3.00 goals-against average, .925 save percentage in one game played) made 37 saves on 40 shots against en route to the win in his Flyers debut.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Swayman (1-1-0, 3.03 goals-against average, .885 save percentage in two games played) stopped 19 out of 24 shots faced for Boston in the loss.

Cam Atkinson had a pair of goals, while Sean Couturier, Joel Farabee, Derick Brassard and Keith Yandle each had a pair of points in Philadelphia’s victory.

The Bruins fell to 1-1-0 (two points) on the season and remain 7th in the Atlantic Division standings, while Philly improved to 2-0-1 (five points) and jumped into a three-way tie for 2nd in the Metropolitan Division.

Once again, Curtis Lazar (upper body) was out of the lineup for Boston as head coach, Bruce Cassidy, declined to make any adjustments to his group of forwards and defenders after opening the season with a, 3-1, win against the Dallas Stars last Saturday.

As such, John Moore, Jakub Zboril and Anton Blidh joined Lazar in the press box as healthy scratches.

As a result of the loss, the Bruins are 0-1-0 against the Flyers so far this season. Boston went 6-1-1 against Philadelphia in 2020-21, and 1-0-2 against Philly in 2019-20.

Atkinson (2) kicked things off on a 2-on-1, where instead of passing the puck, he faked a pass and fired a shot off of Swayman’s glove side and into the twine to give the Flyers a, 1-0, lead.

Brassard (3) and Justin Braun (2) tallied the assists on Atkinson’s first goal of the game at 8:08 of the first period.

Moments later, Rasmus Ristolainen cut a rut to the penalty box for interference away from the rubber biscuit as he tied up and took down Bruins captain, Patrice Bergeron, at 13:52.

Boston’s ensuing power play couldn’t get anything going on the skater advantage, but took advantage of the vulnerable minute after special teams play as Trent Frederic sent a shot inadvertently off of a Philadelphia defender before Karson Kuhlman (1) sent the rolling puck under Jones’ blocker side– tying the game, 1-1, in the process.

Frederic (1) and Tomas Nosek (1) notched the assists on Kuhlman’s goal at 16:48.

Less than a couple of minutes later, however, Charlie Coyle tripped up Travis Sanheim and was sent to the sin bin with a minor infraction at 18:25.

Philadelphia didn’t waste too much time on the ensuing skater advantage as Ryan Ellis sent a shot from the point off of Brassard before Farabee (3) banked it in off of Swayman’s paddle while the B’s netminder reached in desperation for the puck.

Farabee’s power-play goal put the Flyers back on top, 2-1, at 19:51 of the first period.

Entering the first intermission, the Bruins trailed, 2-1, on the scoreboard despite leading in shots on goal, 10-7.

Philadelphia held the advantage in blocked shots (10-6), takeaways (3-1), giveaways (6-1), hits (13-9) and faceoff win percentage (60-40) after 20 minutes.

Philly was 1/1 on the power play, while Boston was 0/1 on the skater advantage heading into the middle frame.

Yandle sent a dump pass off the endboards indirectly to James van Riemsdyk whereby No. 25 on the Flyers flung a shot on goal that rebounded to Scott Laughton in the slot.

Laughton (1) capitalized on the errant puck and hit the twine to give Philadelphia a two-goal lead, 3-1, at 1:58 of the second period.

van Riemsdyk (2) and Yandle (5) were credited with the assists.

Almost midway through the middle period, Charlie McAvoy sent Taylor Hall up through the neutral zone into the attacking zone on a breakaway whereby Hall (1) beat Jones with an elevated shot under the bar on Jones’ glove side.

McAvoy (1) had the only assist on Hall’s first goal of the season as Boston pulled to within one– trailing, 3-2, at 8:38 of the second period.

With about a minute left on the clock until the second intermission, McAvoy worked the puck low into the attacking zone to David Pastrnak behind the net.

Pastrnak wrapped the rubber biscuit around the goal frame before slipping the puck through the crease to Brad Marchand (3) for a bit of slight redirection goal, tying the game, 3-3, in the process.

Pastrnak (2) and McAvoy (2) notched the assists at 19:00.

With a pair of assists on the night, McAvoy reached a career milestone of 100 assists in 237 career NHL games since making his league debut with the Bruins in the 2017-18 season.

Doesn’t sound too bad for a defender that just signed an eight-year extension worth $9.500 million per season that starts next season.

Through 40 minutes of action, the game was tied, 3-3, despite Boston outshooting the Flyers, 28-17, including an, 18-10, advantage in the second period alone.

Philadelphia, however, still dominated in just about everything else, including blocked shots (17-15), takeaways (6-4), giveaways (9-4) and hits (24-19), while both teams split faceoff win%, 50-50.

As there were no penalties called in the middle frame, the Flyers remained 1/1 on the power play, while the Bruins were still 0/1.

Less than a minute into the final frame, Farabee set up Atkinson (3) for a one-timed redirection goal past Swayman’s pad to give the Flyers the advantage on the scoreboard once more.

Farabee (3) had the only assists on what turned out to be the game-winning goal 58 seconds into the third period as Philadelphia emerged with a, 4-3, lead.

Midway through the final period, Couturier dropped a pass back to Travis Konecny (3) for an easy shot over Swayman’s glove and under the bar from about mid-range.

Couturier (3) and Claude Giroux (1) had the assists as the Flyers pulled ahead, 5-3, at 11:17 of the third.

Shortly thereafter, the Bruins tweeted that forward, Nick Foligno, would not return to Wednesday night’s action with an upper-body injury.

Late in the period, Brandon Carlo took a roughing minor and was sent to the box at 17:43.

With 1:18 remaining in the action, Swayman vacated his crease for an extra attacker while shorthanded.

Yandle worked the puck to Couturier (1) who flung a clearing attempt towards the empty net for the empty net power-play goal– sealing the deal on Philadelphia’s, 6-3, victory at 19:01 of the third period.

Yandle (5) had the only assist on Couturier’s goal from way downtown where Ben Simmons normally misses three pointers– further than that really.

At the final horn, the Flyers had won, 6-3, despite finishing the night trailing in shots on goal, 40-25.

Boston held the advantage in shots on net in the third period alone (12-8), while Philadelphia left their own building leading in blocked shots (23-18), giveaways (12-6), hits (35-32) and faceoff win% (52-48).

The Flyers went 2/2 on the power play on Wednesday, while the Bruins went 0/1.

The B’s fell to 0-1-0 (0-1-0 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 0-1-0 (0-1-0 on the road) when trailing after the first period and 1-1-0 (0-1-0 on the road) when tied after two periods this season.

Philly, meanwhile, improved to 2-0-1 (2-0-1 at home) when scoring the game’s first goal, 2-0-1 (2-0-1 at home) when leading after the first period and 1-0-0 (1-0-0 at home) when tied after the second period in 2021-22.

The Bruins wrap up their two-game road trip on Friday at KeyBank Center against the Buffalo Sabres before returning home on Sunday to host the San Jose Sharks.

The B’s travel again for another two-game road trip next week on Wednesday at FLA Live Arena against the Florida Panthers and Thursday at PNC Arena against the Carolina Hurricanes before closing out the month of October at home against the Panthers on next Saturday (Oct. 30th).

Categories
NHL Nick's Net Previews

Philadelphia Flyers 2021-22 Season Preview

2020-21 record 25-23-8, 55 points

6th in the MassMutual NHL East Division

Missed the postseason for the first time since 2020

Additions: F Cam Atkinson (acquired from CBJ), F Derick Brassard, F Ryan Fitzgerald, F Gerry Mayhew, F Nate Thompson, D Adam Clendening, D Ryan Ellis (acquired from NSH), D Rasmus Ristolainen (acquired from BUF), D Nick Seeler, D Keith Yandle, D Cooper Zech, G Martin Jones

Subtractions: F David Kase (ELH), F Pascal Laberge (signed with Maine Mariners, ECHL), F Nolan Patrick (traded to NSH, flipped to VGK), F Carsen Twarynski (expansion, SEA), F Jakub Voracek (traded to CBJ), D Chris Bigras (signed with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, AHL), D Shayne Gostisbehere (traded to ARI), D Robert Hagg (traded to BUF), D Philippe Myers (traded to NSH), D Matt Niskanen (retired prior to 2020-21, contract officially expired), D Derrick Pouliot (signed with Henderson Silver Knights, AHL), G Brian Elliott (signed with TBL), G Alex Lyon (signed with CAR)

Still Unsigned: F Andy Andreoff, D Nate Prosser, D Tyler Wotherspoon

Re-signed: F Connor Bunnaman, F German Rubstov, F Linus Sandin, D Samuel Morin, D Travis Sanheim, G Carter Hart, G Felix Sandström

Offseason Analysis: Not satisfied with their disappointing 2020-21 performance, Flyers General Manager, Chuck Fletcher, knew something would have to change.

Jakub Voracek broke into the NHL with the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2008-09 season after the Blue Jackets drafted him in the 1st round (7th overall) of the 2007 NHL Draft and spent three seasons in Columbus before being packaged with a 2011 1st round pick and a 2011 3rd round pick in a trade with Philadelphia for Jeff Carter on June 23, 2011.

In 968 career NHL games, Voracek has 214-520–734 totals, including 601 points (176 goals and 425 assists) in 727 games with the Flyers from 2011-21.

That 2011 1st round pick became Sean Couturier and the 3rd round pick was used to select Nick Cousins as Philadelphia was one-year removed from making the 2010 Stanley Cup Final.

Adding Voracek was to provide a spark for a player in need of a change of scenery and provide Philly’s top-six forward group with a better fit.

After serving primarily as a playmaker for a decade of waffling in and out of the playoffs, the Flyers dealt Voracek back to Columbus for Cam Atkinson, who proudly wore his wife’s Gritty t-shirt in his introductory Zoom with media members after the trade on July 24th.

Atkinson joins Philadelphia after amassing 213-189–402 totals in 627 games with the Blue Jackets since the 2011-12 season after Columbus drafted him in the 6th round (157th overall) of the 2008 NHL Draft.

But that’s not the only trade that Fletcher made to supplment his new-age core as Couturier, Travis Konecny, Claude Giroux, Joel Farabee, Kevin Hayes, Ivan Provorov and their teammates seek the franchise’s first Stanley Cup championship since 1975.

Fletcher kicked the summer off by trading Philippe Myers and Nolan Patrick to the Nashville Predators for defender, Ryan Ellis, on July 17th.

Nashville flipped Patrick after the deal in a separate trade with the Vegas Golden Knights, while Philadelphia added Ellis to bolster their top-four defenders.

For the first time in his career this October, Ellis will don a uniform that isn’t Predators marigold, but rather Flyers orange.

After being drafted in the 1st round (11th overall) in 2009, by Nashville, Ellis emerged in the 2011-12 season, putting up 3-8–11 totals in 32 games as he broke into the league. Since then, he’s produced 270 points (75 goals, 195 assists) in 562 games from parts of the 2011-12 season through 2020-21.

Due to an upper body injury, Ellis was limited to 35 games last season and only had 18 points (five goals, 13 assists) from the blue line, but his ability to move the puck out of his own zone and start a rush is important as the Flyers try to balance out Provorov’s prowess with someone that can keep up on his pairing.

Five days after acquiring Ellis, Fletcher dumped Shayne Gostisbehere’s $4.500 million cap hit in the Arizona desert with a 2022 2nd round pick and a 2022 7th round pick also going to the Coyotes for future considerations to make room for Ellis’ $6.250 million cap hit through the 2026-27 season.

Then Fletcher did something unprompted and– depending if you’re a Flyers fan or not– unhinged as he made a deal with the Buffalo Sabres, though not for Jack Eichel as Philly fans can only dream of to compete with Couturier for the first line center job, while Hayes would likely be demoted to the third line.

Rather, the Flyers traded Robert Hagg’s $1.600 million cap hit, a 2021 1st round pick (14th overall, Isak Rosén) and a 2023 2nd round pick to the Sabres for Rasmus Ristolainen and his $5.400 million cap hit on July 23rd.

Hagg managed 2-3–5 totals and was a minus-3 in 34 games last season with Philadelphia, while Ristolainen had 4-14–18 totals in 49 games and, uh, was a minus-18 to match Buffalo’s 18-game losing streak at one point last season.

Some would argue the points are an upgrade, but at what cost when it seems to be live by the sword, die by the sword.

Then Fletcher acquired Atkinson and free agency began on July 28th.

Seeking veteran experience to aid the younger players in making a long run, Fletcher signed Keith Yandle, Derick Brassard and took a chance on Martin Jones, while also brining back Nate Thompson for another stint with the Flyers in the bottom-six.

Yandle was bought out by the Florida Panthers and can command a power-play unit while not having missed a game since the 2008-09 season.

He had 3-24–27 totals with the Panthers after Joel Quenneville utilized him as an afterthought and nearly scratched the 35-year-old defender.

Brassard earned a one-year, $825,000 contract late in the summer on Aug. 25th as a low-risk, high-reward move as a recent league-journeyman that had 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) in 53 games with Arizona last season after a career-resurgence with the New York Islanders (32 points in 66 games) in 2019-20.

At the very least, he’ll give Philadelphia depth down the middle in the top-nine.

Jones, meanwhile, was bought out by the San Jose Sharks and is looking to salvage whatever’s left of his career as the presumptive backup to Carter Hart on a one-year, $2.000 million contract.

The 31-year-old Canadian goaltender went 15-13-4 in 34 games last season and had a 3.28 goals-against average, as well as an .896 save percentage and one shutout in that span.

Meanwhile, Brian Elliott departed for the Tampa Bay Lightning– replacing Curtis McElhinney as the Bolts’ backup.

McElhinney went 4-6-2 in 12 games last season for Tampa and had a 3.09 goals-against average as well as an .875 save percentage and one shutout.

Elliott had a 15-9-2 record in 30 games last season and sustained a 3.06 goals-against average, an .889 save percentage and two shutouts in that span with the Flyers.

Hart, meanwhile, had a disastrous run.

In 27 games played, the 23-year-old netminder went 9-11-5, had one shutout and amassed a 3.67 goals-against average, as well as an .877 save percentage– one season removed from going 24-13-3 in 43 games with a 2.42 goals-against average, a .914 save percentage and one shutout in 2019-20.

He earned a three-year extension worth $3.979 per season as a bridge contract with a lot to prove to get back to his once promising form.

Finally, Fletcher locked down Couturier and Farabee with long-term extensions that won’t begin until the 2022-23 season.

Couturier’s earned an eight-year deal worth $7.750 million per season, while Farabee’s nailed a six-year contract with a $5.000 million cap hit– presenting the Flyers with their greatest challenge yet– being tight against the cap and having high expectations.

Offseason Grade: B

It kind of feels like a “make or break” year for Philadelphia, even though there’s no way of really knowing what’s in store for the Flyers.

Fletcher made some admirable moves signing veterans that Philly could use in top-nine or specialty roles, but it’s also a risk to take on Jones while Hart is already on shaky ground heading into the 2021-22 season.

If the ghost of the revolving door of goaltenders in a Flyers uniform is to be kept out of Wells Fargo Center, then Philadelphia’s going to need to hope their goaltending coach is ready with a plan that’s different from whatever happened last season.

Flyers head coach, Alain Vigneault, can bring immediate success to an organization and make them hard to play against, but he tends to carry a time limit in the modern NHL as the game continues to evolve.

With about $381,500 left in cap space entering this season, Philadelphia had to move out at least one big contract in favor of something smaller– though they’ve taken on Ellis with term and Giroux is due for an extension unless he decides to walk in unrestricted free agency next summer.

The Flyers may have almost $15.6 million to spend next offseason, but they need to show forward progress, if not win now.

Categories
NHL Nick's Net Previews

Columbus Blue Jackets 2021-22 Season Preview

2020-21 record 18-26-12, 48 points

8th in the Discover NHL Central Division

Missed the postseason for the first time since 2016

Additions: F Sean Kuraly, F Zac Rinaldo, F Jakub Voracek (acquired from PHI), D Jake Bean (acquired from CAR), D Adam Boqvist (acquired from CHI)

Subtractions: F Cam Atkinson (traded to PHI), F Zac Dalpe (signed with FLA), F Mikhail Grigorenko (KHL), F Mikko Koivu (retired), F Ryan MacInnis (signed with BUF), F Stefan Matteau (signed with COL), F Cliff Pu (ICEHL), F Kole Sherwood (signed with OTT), F Daniel Zaar (KHL), D Adam Clendening (signed with PHI), D Michael Del Zotto (signed with OTT), D Seth Jones (traded to CHI)

Still Unsigned: F Brandon Dubinsky, F Calvin Thürkauf (NL, CBJ reserve list)

Re-signed: F Patrik Laine, F Alexandre Texier, D Gavin Bayreuther (expansion, SEA, then signed as UFA with CBJ), D Mikko Lehtonen

Offseason Analysis: First off, where do we even start with how hard this offseason has been for the Blue Jackets organization?

The loss of Matiss Kivlenieks is paramount in how Columbus approaches the season– honoring their fallen teammate along the way– as well as where they go from here with respect to future decisions in the crease.

Kivlenieks had potential to be selected by the Seattle Kraken at the expansion draft. He had potential to become the Blue Jackets’ backup in the near future if the team had moved Joonas Korpisalo or Elvis Merzlikins prior to choosing one or the other next July anyway as both Korpisalo and Merzlikins are pending-unrestricted free agents.

In what’s become an all too familiar reminder lately, tragedy, as with death, is part of life.

He was a kind soul that was taken from us too soon.


Columbus welcomed home Dublin, Ohio native, Sean Kuraly on a four-year contract worth $2.500 million per season as the 28-year-old departed his bottom-six role with the Boston Bruins for more money and a change of scenery as his production dropped from 23 points (six goals, 17 assists) in 69 games in 2019-20 to nine points (four goals, five assists) in 47 games last season.

The Blue Jackets are hoping Kuraly’s arrival will feature a resurgence unlike when Riley Nash left Boston on a high-note and faltered in his Columbus tenure before being traded at last season’s trade deadline to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Whereas Mikko Koivu joined Columbus for the 2020-21 season prior to retiring from the NHL after seven games in a Blue Jackets uniform, Blue Jackets General Manager, Jarmo Kekäläinen, can count on Kuraly to patch up the bottom-six– especially the fourth line– without the prospect of sudden retirement.

There’s a familiar face in town this season as Jakub Voracek is back in a Blue Jackets jersey for the first time since the 2010-11 season after Kekäläinen dealt Cam Atkinson to the Philadelphia Flyers in a one-for-one trade as the Flyers looked to save some salary for other important areas.

Voracek, like Kuraly, could use a bit of a resurgence as of late after his numbers dropped from 66 points in 78 games with Philadelphia in 2018-19 to 56 points in 69 games with Philly in 2019-20 and, most recently, 9-34–43 totals in 53 games with the Flyers last season.

Interestingly enough, the 32-year-old forward has never scored more than 23 goals in a season (set back in 82 games in 2013-14 with Philadelphia) and had three consecutive seasons of 20 or more goals from 2012-13 through 2014-15 and again from 2016-17 through 2018-19.

Columbus also grabbed the rights to Jake Bean in a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes and signed Bean to a three-year extension– incorporating the 23-year-old defender as part of the Blue Jackets’ blue line reform in the aftermath of one of the biggest trades this offseason.

After stating that he wouldn’t sign an extension with Columbus, Seth Jones was dealt to Chicago with a 2021 1st round pick (32nd overall, Nolan Allan) and a 2022 6th round pick for Adam Boqvist, a 2021 1st round pick (12th overall, Cole Sillinger), a 2021 2nd round pick that was when flipped to Carolina for Bean and a conditional 2022 1st round pick.

If Chicago wins one of the 2022 draft lotteries, then the 2022 1st round pick becomes a 2023 1st round pick and in any case, the Blue Jackets aren’t paying Jones $9.500 million per season when his new extension kicks in next season.

Except Columbus then turned around and gave Zach Werenski a six-year extension worth $9.583 million that goes into effect starting with the 2022-23 season through 2027-28.

At the very least, it shows that the Blue Jackets are willing to commit dollars and term to a player in their organization, though with the steep prices paid by teams for defensive talent via free agency, trades and in extensions this offseason, only time will tell if it was truly worth it.

Werenski is 24-years-old and will be turning 31 shortly after this extension expires.

The good news is that it’ll cover his defensive prime, as long as he can stay healthy and at that high level of competition.

The bad news is that Columbus could be playing with fire if their ongoing overhaul doesn’t pan out soon enough.

Speaking of the changing of seasons, Brad Larsen went from being an assistant coach with the team to being named the 10th head coach in franchise history after John Tortorella was told his contract would not be renewed.

Larsen’s been around in the Blue Jackets organization since the 2010-11 season when he was named as an assistant coach with the Springfield Falcons (AHL). He spent two seasons in that role before becoming the Falcons’ head coach from 2012-14, prior to being called up to being behind the bench in Columbus as an assistant coach from the 2014-15 season through 2020-21.

Perhaps Patrik Laine can get a chance to relax and play his game his way– as with the rest of the young Blue Jackets players– growing and developing in accordance with their preferred styles instead of being told to conform to a universal 200-foot style game.

That’s not to say that Tortorella’s tenure with Columbus wasn’t worth it, but rather to point out that it takes the right kind of players to perform under a certain structure and the Blue Jackets shifted away from that over the years.

Offseason Grade: C

Columbus didn’t do anything irrational and avoided the potential salary cap hell that might come with Jones’ extension in Chicago given his recent decline.

That said, they also then willingly gave Werenski what Jones was asking for and then some because surely they weren’t afraid of history repeating itself or anything.

Regardless, Kekäläinen still has about $10.4 million in cap space for 2021-22, which means they won’t necessarily be good enough for playoff contention, but that’s the point.

Either Columbus will get lucky and strike it rich with what they’ve got, the systems Larsen develops and the new additions here and there or they’ll fall further in the standings and get lucky in the 2022 Draft Lottery.

Categories
Blue Jackets Forecast NHL Nick's Net Stats Forecasts

Columbus Blue Jackets 2020-21 Forecast and 20-Game Update

Welcome back to another exciting rendition of “let’s trust the guy with a degree in communication to do some basic math stuff”.

As you are hopefully already aware, I kept the 2019-20 forecasts under wraps simply because I didn’t have the time and/or motivation to write up an explanation for each and every one of them.

Even still, I’m “behind” on 2020-21 posts given that the Columbus Blue Jackets have already reached the 20-game mark of the season.

That’s why we’re looking at both what the expectations were coming into the condensed 56-game schedule, as well as how things are holding up after the first, well, almost half the season.

If you’re a fan of numbers and things, you probably already read about this “catch-up format” in my first forecast for the Boston Bruins roster entering 2020-21. If you’re just a Blue Jackets fan, I’ve done my best to paraphrase my own writing, but you can go back and read it if you feel inclined.

As always, keep in mind that my degree is in communication and my minor was in sport management. My Intro to Stats class only fulfilled the math portion of my “general education” and met once-a-week at night for two-and-a-half hours in the fall 2013 semester.

I actually learned how to use the forecast function in Microsoft Excel in one of my sport management classes. Besides that, I got a “C” in that Intro to Stats class, so my credentials for doing this seem promising, right?

First year players are impossible to predict until they’ve had at least one National Hockey League game under their belt.

Young players that have had minimal NHL experience may also reflect “inflated” results– Liam Foudy’s forecasted assists entering the 2020-21 season has been highlighted for this reason.

Entering this season, he had only been part of two career NHL games and had one assist in that span. The forecasting function accounts for a player’s entire career and does some mathematics to come up with something over a predetermined number of games for the upcoming season (in this year’s case, 56).

In other words, Foudy’s forecast after 20 team games played should look a bit more “realistic”, for the lack of a better term.

A forecast is not the same as predicting pace.

Foudy has three assists in 12 games played in 2020-21, for example, and is forecasted to finish with about 11 on the season, whereas he is currently on pace for about eight helpers.

There are numerous variables that can, and will, impact a players’ performance throughout the year, including injuries, being a healthy scratch (or on the taxi squad), other American Hockey League related or waiver related transactions, sickness, COVID protocol, suspensions and general superstitions related to individual routines, beliefs, etc. (getting enough sleep before a game, wearing a certain lucky tie, using the same undershirt or shoulder pads for the last 13 years or whatever).

Players can get “hot” or “cold” at any point.

It’s not something that can be accounted for in a numerical forecast that sets aside the “eye test” until you try to figure out the nuances of how or why a player is playing the way they are playing.

In a perfect timeline, this forecast pretends nothing bad could ever happen and every Blue Jackets player lives up to their expectations. In reality, some will pan out, some will exceed expectations and some will fall short for whatever reason.

It’s an educated guess for an outcome in a sport that’s highly unpredictable due to its collectivistic nature and sheer puck luck.


Columbus Blue Jackets Forecast Through 0 Games (56 Games Remaining)

First up, let’s take a look at how things were expected to go coming into the 2020-21 season.

Prior to being traded to the Winnipeg Jets for Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic, Dubois was forecasted to lead Columbus in scoring with 16-22–38 totals this season.

New acquisition, Max Domi, was forecasted as a close second to Dubois with 37 points– leading the team in assists in the process with 25 (among NHL regulars last season, since Foudy technically was forecasted to lead in assists among Blue Jackets with 28).

Of course, Dubois was traded and Laine and Roslovic are off to hot starts with Columbus– scoring goals in bunches when they find the scoresheet, it seems. We’ll get to that in a minute.

Cam Atkinson was forecasted to score 19 goals prior to the start of the 2020-21 season, which leads Dubois’ 16 forecasted goals and Gustav Nyquist’s 14 forecasted goals on the roster.

Dubois, of course, was traded and Nyquist is out due to injury for most of this season, so… that checks out.

On defense, Zach Werenski and Seth Jones were expected to continue to lead with the way with 33 and 27 points, respectively, from the blue line.

Both defenders are expected to amass 21 assists this season– good enough for the third most forecasted among Blue Jackets skaters entering this season.

In the crease, John Tortorella will have to find the right balance between Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins.

There’s potential for a really solid goaltending duo in Columbus if Korpisalo is the starter and can best his 2.66 forecasted goals against average, as well as his forecasted .911 save percentage, while Merzlikins manages to find a way to reach his 2.35 forecasted GAA and .923 forecasted SV%.

Of course, after 20 team games played, Merzlikins is currently out with an upper body injury, so time will tell if he can return to form.

Columbus Blue Jackets Forecast Through 20 Games (36 Games Remaining)

Through 20 games of the 2020-21 season, the Blue Jackets are three points outside of the last playoff spot in the Discover NHL Central Division, trailing the Chicago Blackhawks for this season’s 4th place cutoff line.

The acquisition of Laine and Roslovic have been quite a welcome sight for Columbus fans, though consistency from the rest of the lineup remains to be an issue.

Laine, however, is currently forecasted to lead the team in goals (26) and points (46), while Roslovic is on track for 10-17–27 totals, which is about what he had in 71 games with the Jets last season (29 points).

Using the current forecasted totals, Roslovic is on track for about .551 points per game this season. He had .408 points per game with Winnipeg in 2019-20.

Atkinson remains in the top-three in scoring, trailing Laine in goals and points with 20 forecasted goals and 39 forecasted points, respectively, while Oliver Bjorkstrand is currently forecasted to amass 15-21–36 totals (the third most on the current roster).

On the blue line, Jones leads the way among defenders in points (32), as well as all skaters in assists with 27 forecasted assists through 20 team games played in the 2020-21 season.

Werenski is more in line with what you’d expect from a young defender of his caliber (8-16–24 forecasted totals) and has missed time due to injury, so that’s clearly a factor in his forecasted drop from before the season began to now.

In the crease, Korpisalo is sure to get more starts than Merzlikins as the latter is currently injured.

Korpisalo’s current forecast yields a goals against average between 2.59-2.63, while Merzlikins is on track for a 2.29-2.33 in however many games he ends up getting.

Why the range in GAA?

That’s new for this season.

It’s just to show a range between what the forecasted total is according to the model and what the adjusted forecast shows (calculated based on the forecasted goals allowed/forecasted minutes multiplied by 60, as one would traditionally do with goals allowed/minutes played multiplied by 60 to determine GAA).

I’m no statistician and I felt like there might be a way to try to get a better read on how things are going for goaltenders (with or without enough necessary data to yield a “realistic” result).

Don’t make any bets using only this forecast. If you’re a professional, you probably already know that.

Anyway, Korpisalo has a forecasted range between .912 and .913 in save percentage through 20 team games played and Merzlikins is on track for between a .923 and a .924 in SV%.

Again, a similar principle applies here.

One end of the range is the straight up forecast, while the other is influenced by forecasted saves/forecasted shots against.

Well, that does it for this forecast. Tune in after 40 team games played to see how things might go down the stretch (the final 16 games this season).

Categories
NHL Nick's Net

Blue Jackets beat Bruins, 4-1, in meaningless exhibition Game

This might sound like a postmodern lede, but nothing matters anymore.

Well, nothing yet, anyway, as the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Boston Bruins, 4-1, on Thursday night at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario in their exhibition matchup before the Blue Jackets face the Toronto Maple Leafs in their 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifier matchup and the Bruins take on the Eastern Conference Round Robin for the top-4 seeds.

Joonas Korpisalo made 11 saves on 11 shots faced in 29:51 minutes played, while Elvis Merzlikins allowed one goal on 13 shots against in 30:06 en route to Columbus’ win over Boston.

Bruins goaltender, Tuukka Rask stopped 17 out of 20 shots faced in 29:54– as well as a lackluster first period effort for the entire B’s roster– while Jaroslav Halak turned aside all ten shots he faced in the remaining 28:50 he played as the netminder for Boston.

Both Blue Jackets head coach, John Tortorella, and Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, planned on using both netminders as a quick tune-up for the postseason.

Meanwhile, Cassidy opted to dress an extra forward (Karson Kuhlman) and an extra defender (John Moore) in the effort as allowed for the one-off exhibition game before the NHL action officially restarts.

Boone Jenner (1) kicked off the game’s scoring with a redirection goal at 4:27 of the first period to give the Blue Jackets the, 1-0, lead courtesy of a saucer pass from Liam Foudy.

Foudy (1) had the only assist on the goal.

Midway through the first period, Moore, caught Cam Atkinson without the puck and received a minor penalty for interference at 13:18– yielding the first power play of the game to Columbus.

Shortly after killing off Moore’s infraction, the B’s were shorthanded once again after Matt Grzelcyk hooked Alexandre Texier at 16:16, but the ensuing power play for the Blue Jackets didn’t last long.

Four seconds after the face-off in Boston’s defensive zone, Seth Jones slashed Jeremy Lauzon and was sent to the penalty box with a minor infraction at 16:20.

Almost two minutes later, Brad Marchand hooked Texier and was sent to the box at 18:12.

Just six seconds later, Zach Werenski (1) doubled Columbus’ lead on a one-timer shot from the point– scoring from about the blue line to give the Blue Jackets the, 2-0, lead.

Atkinson (1) and Oliver Bjorkstrand (1) tallied the assists on Werenski’s goal at 18:18 of the opening frame.

Less than 30 seconds later, Gustav Nyquist (1) scored on a one-timer while Rask was left diving across the crease– trailing the play as Nyquist was left wide open by Boston’s penalty kill.

Pierre-Luc Dubois (1) and Bjorkstrand (2) had the assists on Nyquist’s power-play goal and the Blue Jackets led, 3-0, at 18:36 of the first period.

Entering the first intermission, Columbus had a three-goal lead on the scoreboard and led, 13-7, in shots on goal.

Meanwhile, the B’s held the advantage in just about every other category including blocked shots (5-4), takeaways (4-0), giveaways (8-1), hits (9-8) and faceoff win percentage (78-22).

The Blue Jackets were 1/3 on the power play, while the Bruins had yet to see any time on the skater advantage heading into the middle frame.

Almost midway into the second period, Brandon Carlo was penalized for tripping Dubois at 7:18.

This time, Boston’s penalty kill held off Columbus’ power play units and escaped without any further damage.

After a stoppage at 9:54 of the second period, both teams changed goaltenders as part of their Phase 4 plans for getting up to full speed for the postseason.

Merzlikins replaced Korpisalo and Halak replaced Rask– ending each starter’s night with about 29 minutes played in the game.

Shortly thereafter, David Pastrnak (1) faked a shot and slid the puck through Merzlikins’ gapping five-hole that No. 88 in black and gold managed to open up with his pump fake.

Sean Kuraly (1) and Charlie McAvoy (1) had the assists on Pastrnak’s goal and the Bruins got on the scoreboard, despite trailing, 3-1, at 12:16 of the second period.

A couple minutes later, Jones caught Anders Bjork without the puck and cut a rut to the penalty box for interference at 14:57, but Boston’s power play was powerless and the Blue Jackets made the kill.

Through 40 minutes of exhibition action, Columbus led the B’s, 3-1, on the scoreboard and, 25-16, in shots on goal– including a, 12-9, advantage in the second period alone.

Columbus also took the advantage in blocked shots (7-6), but Boston still held onto the lead in takeaways (7-0), giveaways (16-5), hits (18-14) and faceoff win% (72-28).

The Blue Jackets were 1/4 on the skater advantage and the Bruins were 0/1 entering the second intermission.

Early in the final frame, Dubois cross checked Marchand and was sent to the sin bin for a couple of minutes at 4:09 of the third period, but Boston’s power play came up short once more.

Shortly after Columbus killed off Dubois’ minor, the Blue Jackets were on the skater advantage once more when Par Lindholm collided with Merzlikins in an “accidentally on purpose” out of the way skate-by-fruiting– to steal a phrase from Mrs. Doubtfire (1993).

Lindholm received a minor penalty for goaltender interference at 7:28, but the Blue Jackets failed to capitalize on the resulting power play.

With 1:16 remaining in regulation, Cassidy pulled Halak for an extra attacker, but it was to no avail– especially more so after Texier (1) pocketed an empty net goal at 19:58 of the third period.

Nyquist (1) recorded the only assist and the Blue Jackets waltzed away with the, 4-1, victory.

At the final horn, Columbus finished ahead of Boston in both the scoreboard and in shots on goal (31-24)– despite the Bruins outshooting the Blue Jackets, 8-6, in the third period alone.

The Blue Jackets finished the night leading in blocked shots (9-8), while the B’s finished Thursday night’s action with the advantage in giveaways (22-8), hits (30-21) and faceoff win% (66-34).

Columbus went 1/5 on the power play and Boston went 0/2.

The Bruins take on the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday at 3 PM ET– on NBC in the United States, as well as Sportsnet and TVAS in Canada– in their first Round Robin matchup, while the Blue Jackets face the Toronto Maple Leafs for Game 1 of their Qualifier series Sunday night at 8 PM ET.

Tune to NHL Network in the States for the Blue Jackets and Leafs Game 1 or for viewers in Canada, either Sportsnet or TVAS. Likewise, residents in Ohio can catch the action on FoxSports Ohio and anyone with an NHL.TV subscription can also watch the game that way.

Categories
NHL Nick's Net Numbers Game

Look To The Rafters: Columbus Blue Jackets (Part II)

In the early days of DTFR, we made an educated guess as to who each team might honor in the future regarding retired jersey numbers. Since then, the Vegas Golden Knights came into existence and more than a few jersey numbers went out of circulation across the league. 

It’s time for an update and a look at who the Columbus Blue Jackets might honor by hanging their name and number from the rafters of Nationwide Arena someday.

Columbus Blue Jackets Current Retired Numbers

None

Did Anything Change In The Last Five Years?

No! The Blue Jackets have yet to retire any number still, but that should change as soon as possible.

Possible Numbers to Retire Someday

18 Pierre-Luc Dubois

Columbus has long needed a certified homegrown number one center on their roster, then along came Dubois 3rd overall in the 2016 NHL Draft. In his rookie season (2017-18), Dubois had 20 goals and 28 assists (48 points) in 82 games. Last season, he managed career-highs in goals (27), assists (34) and points (61) in 82 games.

Up until the abrupt end to the regular season due to the ongoing pandemic, Dubois had 18 goals and 31 assists (49 points) in 70 games and was on pace for about 57 points this season if the remainder of the regular season hadn’t been canceled.

Through 234 career games, Dubois has amassed 65-93–158 totals and brought a much more physical presence to the lineup that Blue Jackets fans likely haven’t seen since the days of Rick Nash.

With a little more time and development, perhaps Dubois can fine tune his scoring touch to emulate Nash. If not, he’s still shaping up to be in fine company and might see his No. 18 raised to the rafters of Nationwide Arena regardless.

61 Rick Nash

Nash formally retired in January 2019. Somehow Columbus doesn’t think there’s any reason to rush to put No. 61 in the rafters, but they should.

The franchise is approaching its 20th season and Nash was their first superstar while the rest of the team looked… well….

Sure you could argue that since his Blue Jackets relationship ended with him desperate to get out of Columbus and being traded to the New York Rangers on July 23, 2012, might take away some of that immediate response to honoring his legacy, but there have been other players in league history that have done less in greater lengths of time with one team then asked to be put out of their misery.

Nash had 289 goals and 258 assists (547 points) in 674 games with the Blue Jackets. He leads Columbus’ all-time stats in all four of those categories (goals, assists, points and games played).

Cam Atkinson is sitting at 571 games (2nd to Nash in franchise history) with Columbus, but with 198 goals (2nd to Nash), 170 assists (4th most all-time for Columbus) and 368 points (again, 2nd to Nash in franchise history) in his career.

Sure, Nash is destined to slide further down the top-10 list all-time one day, but he still drew eyes to the team in its infancy, put up all the points he pocketed without much of a supporting cast and, oh yeah, shared the 2003-04 Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy honors with Jarome Iginla and Ilya Kovalchuk as the league’s leading goal scorers that season with 41 goals.

Besides, as the 1st overall pick by Columbus in 2002, at least Nash had more of a successful career than Patrik Stefan did with the Atlanta Thrashers and he lasted nine seasons with the Blue Jackets whereas Kovalchuk was only a Thrasher for parts of eight seasons.

No team has ever gone without growing pains. No team has ever made their first faces of the franchise that rightfully deserve to be honored with a jersey retirement ceremony, wait it out, and see if they stack up with other franchise greats 50 years later– that’s just not how a team goes about making history and setting their standards.

Nash’s No. 61 isn’t going to be put into circulation anytime soon, why not make it formal?

71 Nick Foligno

Foligno has now almost been in Columbus as long as Nash was. Next season, Foligno will tie Nash in longevity as a Blue Jacket. The current captain of the Blue Jackets has done a lot for the team and in the community. 

It only seems fitting that, while Nash carries the flash and scoring prowess, as well as the Columbus “pioneer” image for the team years from now in its history (assuming No. 61 gets proper retirement treatment), then Foligno’s No. 71 will be a testament to character, leadership and everything in-between.

Acquired by the Blue Jackets from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Marc Methot on July 1, 2012, Foligno has amassed 135-183–318 totals in 557 games with Columbus.

Drafted by the Senators in the first round (28th overall) in 2006, Foligno managed 148 points in his Sens tenure in 351 games from 2007-12.

He broke out with a career-year in 2014-15, scoring career-highs in goals (31), assists (42) and points (73) in 79 games with the Blue Jackets that season. Since then, he’s fallen more into a consistent role as a bottom-six forward, but still managed at least 30-points in the last three seasons.

In 67 games until the ongoing pandemic cut the regular season short, Foligno had ten goals and 21 assists for 31 points. He was on pace for about 38 points this season.

Oh and he won the King Clancy Memorial Trophy and the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award in 2016-17.

If longevity, consistency and charity alone can earn the ultimate sign of respect from a franchise and yield a jersey retirement, then Foligno has crossed off every checkmark on the list for his time in Columbus.

Final Thoughts

In 2000, the NHL expanded to Columbus and brought back a team in Minnesota with the introduction of the Blue Jackets and the Wild. 

Minnesota shocked the hockey world and upset the Colorado Avalanche in the 2003 Stanley Cup Playoffs, eventually going on a run all the way to the Western Conference Final before being swept by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

Columbus didn’t win a playoff series until they also shocked the hockey world and swept the 2018-19 Presidents’ Trophy winning Tampa Bay Lightning.

Minnesota retired No. 1 for their fans before they even had their first puck drop.

Columbus didn’t resort to that, but probably should do something for their fans to make up for the many years of suffering on the outside looking in and/or playoff losses before making it out of the First Round.

Minnesota hasn’t made it back to the Second Round since 2015.

Columbus has at least made it to the Second Round since the Wild last made it.

The Vegas Golden Knights came into existence in 2017. They made it to the Stanley Cup Final in 2018, which was their inaugural season (2017-18).

Retire Nash’s number in 2020-21.

Categories
Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #163- Cap’n Crunch

The salary cap isn’t going up as much as everyone hoped. Also, there were plenty of trades, buyouts and extensions handed out in the last week. Nick, Colby, Cap’n and Pete examine each move and pick 2019 NHL Awards winners.

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

Categories
Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Bruins shutout Blue Jackets, 3-0, advance to 2019 Eastern Conference Final

For the first time since 2013, the Boston Bruins are heading to the Eastern Conference Final after a, 3-0, shutout win over the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena in Game 6 of their 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs Second Round series.

Boston will host the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2019 Eastern Conference Final after Tuukka Rask (8-5 record, 2.02 goals against average, .938 save percentage in 13 games played this postseason) made 39 saves on 39 shots against to record his 6th career postseason shutout and tie Tiny Thompson and Tim Thomas for the 2nd-most Stanley Cup Playoff shutouts in Bruins franchise history.

Gerry Cheevers leads the club with eight postseason shutouts in his career with the B’s.

Blue Jackets goaltender, Sergei Bobrovsky (6-4, 2.41 GAA, .925 SV% in 10 games played this postseason) stopped 26 out of 29 shots faced in the loss.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, kept his lineup the same from Game 5 to Game 6, while John Moore (upper body), Kevan Miller (lower body) and Noel Acciari (upper body) sat out due to injury.

Once again, Boston’s long list of healthy scratches included, Lee Stempniak, Zachary Senyshyn, Jordan Szwarz, Peter Cehlarik, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Zane McIntyre, Paul Carey, Ryan Fitzgerald, Steven Kampfer, Jack Studnicka, Urho Vaakanainen, Jakub Zboril, Jeremy Lauzon, Anton Blidh, Trent Frederic and Karson Kuhlman.

Early in the opening frame of the game, Pierre-Luc Dubois went hard into Rask and was assessed with a goaltender interference minor penalty. Boston went on the power play for the first time of the night at 6:46 of the first period.

Seconds after Columbus killed off Dubois’ minor, the Bruins thought they had a goal when Sean Kuraly appeared to pocket the puck in the open twine.

However, Blue Jackets head coach, John Tortorella used his coach’s challenge to send the call on the ice to a review, in which it was determined that Joakim Nordstrom was not pushed into Bobrovsky by a Columbus defender and instead had collided with the Columbus goaltender by his own merit.

As a result, the call on the ice was overturned. No goal.

The game remained tied, 0-0, heading into the first intermission with the B’s leading in shots on goal, 12-10.

Boston also held the advantage in giveaways (3-2) and face-off win percentage (60-40). Meanwhile, Columbus led in blocked shots (5-1) and hits (24-8). Both teams had one takeaway each and the Bruins were 0/1 on the power play entering the second period.

David Pastrnak tripped up Cam Atkinson and was sent to the penalty box at 2:42 of the second period as the Blue Jackets went on the skater advantage for the first time Monday night.

Columbus did not convert on the ensuing power play.

Midway through the period, Brad Marchand slashed the stick of Seth Jones and was sent to the box with a slashing minor at 9:22 of the second period.

The Blue Jackets didn’t capitalize on their second power play of the game and the Bruins took advantage of the vulnerable minute after special teams play.

Jake DeBrusk rang the crossbar and David Krejci (4) blasted the rebound under Bobrovsky’s blocker to give the B’s the lead, 1-0, at 12:13.

DeBrusk (3) and Connor Clifton (2) tallied the assists on Krejci’s goal.

In the final minute of the period, Charlie McAvoy charged Josh Anderson along the boards and led with his shoulder directly into the head of the Columbus forward.

McAvoy received a two-minute minor for an illegal hit to the head at 19:40, leaving fans inside the arena, at bars and on their couches at home confused as to why it was not a five-minute major infraction.

Regardless, McAvoy should expect to receive a phone call from the NHL Department of Player Safety, at the very least. Warnings can still be a thing, even if a player can or cannot be suspended.

Anderson did return from the second intermission for the third period.

Through 40 minutes of play, Boston led, 1-0, on the scoreboard and trailed, 27-17, in shots on goal after the Blue Jackets had a, 17-5, advantage in shots on goal in the second period alone.

Columbus also held the advantage in blocked shots (9-7) and hits (36-17), while the Bruins led in giveaways (6-5) and face-off win% (53-48) after two periods.

Both teams had four takeaways aside. The Blue Jackets were 0/3 on the skater advantage, while the B’s were 0/1 on the power play entering the third period.

Though they had a few shots on net while McAvoy was in the box with time remaining on his penalty to start the third period, Columbus did not score on the power play.

Nordstrom slashed Dubois at 4:48 of the third period and sent the Blue Jackets back on the power play early in the final frame of regulation.

Once again, the Blue Jackets failed to hit the back of the twine on the skater advantage.

A little over a couple of minutes after killing Nordstrom’s penalty, Boston’s bottom-six forwards went to work and hooked up Marcus Johansson (2) with a quick break-in and shot that popped off Bobrovsky and carried itself over the goal line with just enough momentum on the puck.

Johaonsson’s goal was assited by Charlie Coyle (3) and Danton Heinen (4) as the Bruins took a two-goal lead, 2-0, at 8:58 of the third period.

Less than a couple minutes later, Krejci worked a pass to Torey Krug, whereby Krug turned and flung the puck towards David Backes (1) for the redirection past the Columbus goaltender and the, 3-0, lead.

Krug (7) and Krejci (6) were tabbed with the primary and secondary assists, respectively, at 10:39.

As a result of his two-point effort in Game 6, Krejci is now three points shy of 100 career Stanley Cup Playoff points (all with Boston). He’s seeking to become the 5th Bruin to reach 100 postseason points with the franchise.

With no other choice but to pull his goaltender for an extra attacker, Tortorella exercised his right with 3:30 remaining in regulation, but the Blue Jackets couldn’t maintain enough offensive zone pressure to muster a comeback.

Nor could the Bruins tally an empty net goal, but by the final horn none of that mattered.

Boston had defeated Columbus, 3-0, in Game 6 and won the series 4-2.

The B’s finished Monday night leading in blocked shots (15-11), while the Blue Jackets gave their home crowd a solid performance– despite the loss– leading in shots on goal (39-29), giveaways (10-7), hits (43-19) and face-off win% (51-49).

You can’t say Columbus didn’t try.

Neither team scored a goal on the skater advantage in Game 6 as the Blue Jackets went 0/4 on the power play and the Bruins went 0/1.

The Bruins improved to 8-0 when leading after two periods this postseason as Rask picked up his first Stanley Cup Playoff shutout since 2014.

For the first time since they defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins in four games in the 2013 Eastern Conference Final, Boston will host the Hurricanes in the 2019 Eastern Conference Final.

Carolina last appeared in the Eastern Conference Final in 2009 and lost in four games to the Penguins.

But that same Hurricanes team also defeated the Bruins in their last series matchup in seven games in the 2009 Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Scott Walker had the series clinching goal in overtime against Thomas to lift the Canes over the B’s, 3-2, at the then branded TD Banknorth Garden in Game 7 of that series.

Boston holds a 3-1 series record all-time against the Hurricanes including two postseason matchups with the Hartford Whalers before they relocated to North Carolina in 1997.


Categories
Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Pastrnak, Bruins pull off, 4-3, win in Game 5, can advance in Columbus

Not to beat a dead horse, but the Boston Bruins’ first line got the job done again in Game 5, as the B’s topped the Columbus Blue Jackets, 4-3, at TD Garden on Saturday night.

After blowing a two-goal lead in the final ten minutes of the game, Boston overcame incredible shifts in momentum to give themselves the series lead, 3-2, heading back to Nationwide Arena for Game 6 on Monday.

Tuukka Rask (7-5 record, 2.19 goals against average, .932 save percentage in 12 games played this postseason) turned aside 33 out of 36 shots faced (.917 SV%) for the win.

Columbus goaltender, Sergei Bobrovsky (6-3, 2.33 GAA, .928 SV% in nine games played this postseason) had 32 saves on 36 shots against (.889 SV%) in the loss.

John Moore (upper body) and Kevan Miller (lower body) remained out of the lineup on Saturday, while Noel Acciari (undisclosed) was a game-time decision and did not dress for action.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, replaced Acciari on the fourth line right wing with Chris Wagner and did not make any other adjustments to his lineup.

Wagner was a healthy scratch for the last two games.

Boston had a plethora of healthy scratches to go with Moore, Miller and Acciari in the press box for Game 5, including Lee Stempniak, Zachary Senyshyn, Jordan Szwarz, Peter Cehlarik, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Zane McIntyre, Paul Carey, Ryan Fitzgerald, Steven Kampfer, Jack Studnicka, Urho Vaakanainen, Jakub Zboril, Jeremy Lauzon, Anton Blidh, Trent Frederic and Karson Kuhlman.

Blue Jackets head coach, John Tortorella dressed seven defenders– including Vladislav Gavrikov, who made his NHL debut as a result– and scratched Alexandre Texier for Game 5.

Almost midway through the opening frame, Cam Atkinson slashed Marcus Johansson at 9:03 of the first period and the Bruins went on the power play for the first time of the night.

The B’s failed to convert on the skater advantage opportunity.

After killing off Atkinson’s minor infraction, Columbus found themselves rewarded with a power play of their own seconds later when Charlie McAvoy slashed Boone Jenner at 11:35 of the first period.

The Blue Jackets did not capitalize on their first power play of the game and shortly followed things up with another penalty of their own– this time a bench minor for too many men on the ice.

Gavrikov was sent to the box to serve the infraction at 13:43 and the Bruins went back on the skater advantage.

Entering the first intermission, the game remained tied, 0-0, with the Bruins leading in shots on goal, 9-8.

Boston also held the advantage in hits, 14-13, while Columbus led in just about every other category, including blocked shots (6-2), takeaways (6-1), giveaways (5-4) and face-off win percentage (62-39).

Heading into the second period, the Blue Jackets were 0/1 and the Bruins were 0/2 on the power play.

Early in the middle frame, the pace of play quickened as both teams jumped out of the gate– yielding end-to-end action.

While on a rush up the ice, David Backes dropped a pass back to Jake DeBrusk, who then sent the puck cross-ice to David Krejci as the veteran center for Boston trailed the play.

Krejci (3) settled the puck and trickled an off-speed shot through Bobrovksy’s five-hole to give the Bruins the lead, 1-0, at 1:39 of the second period.

DeBrusk (2) and Backes (3) notched the assists on the goal.

As the midpoint of the night approached, Torey Krug held Nick Foligno inside the B’s crease and was charged with a holding minor at 9:52 of the second period.

Columbus did not convert on their ensuing power play.

Through 40 minutes of play, Boston led, 1-0, on the scoreboard, despite trailing, 23-21, in shots on goal.

The Blue Jackets maintained their dominance in every statistical category, leading in blocked shots (9-7), takeaways (11-2), giveaways (8-4), hits (31-23) and face-off win% (52-48) after two periods.

Both clubs were 0/2 on the power play heading into the third period.

Boston started things off with strong possession in the final frame of regulation and worked their way to scoring chance after scoring chance on Bobrovsky.

It wasn’t long before Brad Marchand (5) got his own rebound from close range– after the Columbus goaltender made the initial glove save– and fired the puck into the twine to give the B’s a two-goal lead.

Connor Clifton (1) and Patrice Bergeron (3) were credited with the assists on Marchand’s goal at 4:51 of the third period as the Bruins extended their lead to, 2-0.

With the primary assist on the goal, Clifton earned his first career Stanley Cup Playoff point in his seventh career postseason game.

Midway through the third period, Seth Jones (3) squeaked a puck between Rask’s pad and inside the post to cut the Bruins’ lead in half, 2-1, at 10:33.

The goal was originally reviewed and confirmed as a good goal more than a few minutes after the play itself occurred.

Zach Werenski (5) and Atkinson (6) had the assists on the goal after the official timeout helped wake up tired legs on both squads.

David Pastrnak (5) broke the other way after a Columbus scoring chance was denied and sent a shot past Bobrovsky’s blocker side to give Boston the lead, 3-1, at 11:16 of the third period.

Marchand (7) had the only assist on Pastrnak’s goal.

Not even a quick response was enough to stop the freight train of goals scored by both clubs in the final ten minutes of regulation, as after the B’s answered back in a hurray, the Blue Jackets replied.

Matt Duchene setup Ryan Dzingel (1) for a one-timer that Dzingel elevated through the roof of the twine to bring Columbus back to within one-goal at 12:07.

Duchene (5) and David Savard (2) had the primary and secondary assists respectively.

Just over a minute later, Dean Kukan (1) scored his first career Stanley Cup Playoff goal as the Blue Jackets defender blasted a shot from the slot over Rask’s glove without a body in the shooting lane to tie the game, 3-3, at 13:58.

Both Artemi Panarin (6) and Josh Anderson (2) had an assist on Kukan’s goal.

Late in the period, Marchand worked up ice with Pastrnak and threw a pass across the slot for Pastrnak (6) to redirect behind Bobrovsky to put Boston ahead, 4-3, at 18:32.

Marchand (8) and Brandon Carlo (1) had the assists on what would become Pastrnak’s first career Stanley Cup Playoff game-winning goal.

Tortorella had no choice but to pull Bobrovsky for an extra attacker with 1:21 remaining in regulation and the Blue Jackets threw the kitchen sink at the Bruins.

Duchene redirected a shot off the post behind Rask and Columbus nearly scored when Atkinson hacked away at a loose puck while Rask was desperate to get back across the crease less than a minute later.

Finally, after McAvoy extended his leg to block a shot with his foot in the closing seconds of the game, the Bruins came away with the victory, 4-3, on home ice.

Boston finished the night tied in shots on goal with Columbus, 36-36, and trailed in every other stat, including blocked shots (18-15), giveaways (11-4), hits (42-32) and face-off win% (54-46).

Both teams finished the night 0/2 on the power play, while the Bruins improved to 7-0 this postseason when leading after two periods.

The B’s take a 3-2 series lead to Columbus with the chance to punch their ticket to the 2019 Eastern Conference Final and host the Carolina Hurricanes in the next round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a win on Monday.

Puck drop is set for a little after 7 p.m. ET and viewers in the United States can tune to NBCSN for the action. Fans in Canada will have the choice between CBC, SN and TVAS for their viewing pleasure.