Tag Archives: Cody Ceci

Down the Frozen River Podcast #84- What’s the Problem, Senator?

Nick and Connor discuss the hullabaloo regarding the fallout of the Ottawa Senators and whether or not they should trade Erik Karlsson (thereby tanking and rebuilding). A quick look around California reveals contenders and pretenders, while All-Star talent and rookies are also reviewed.

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November 10 – Day 38 – Duchene’s Stockholm syndrome cured

In a league that already features players from all around the world,  today’s schedule has an especially international flavor as the Avalanche and Senators square off at the Ericsson Globe in Stockholm, Sweden.

To ensure it takes place during prime time in Sweden, that game is scheduled for 2 p.m. Eastern time (NHLN/RDS). Back on our side of the Atlantic Ocean, the action begins at the usual time of 7 p.m. with four tilts (Florida at Buffalo, Boston at Toronto, Pittsburgh at Washington [NHLN/SN/TVAS] and Carolina at Columbus) followed by the New York Islanders at Dallas 90 minutes later. Finally, this evening’s nightcap drops the puck at 10:30 p.m. when Winnipeg visits Vegas. All times Eastern.

Yes, there’s an Original Six rivalry taking place in Ontario tonight; and yes, the Penguins and Capitals will meet up for the second of four times this season. But there’s something really exciting happening in Europe – and it’s not just the fact that the NHL is in town.

 

 

 

 

 

I’m always intentional about the order logos are presented in this column, and today is no exception: the Avs are designated the home team for today’s contest and they’ll swap benches for tomorrow’s game. Does that make them the Stockholm Avalanche today?

Obviously.

A few fun facts about today’s venue (all research from this Wikipedia article unless otherwise noted): the Ericsson Globe, located in southern Stockholm, opened in 1989 and “is the largest hemispherical building on Earth.” The design is no accident, as The Globe “represents the Sun in the Swedish Solar System, the world’s largest scale model of the Solar System.”

Huh. That’s neat.

The home arena of both Djurgårdens IF and the Swedish Men’s National Hockey Team, The Globe can hold 13,850 hockey fans. Though that would make it the smallest arena in the NHL by nearly 1500 seats, that hasn’t stopped it from hosting some major events in the past.

Limiting our list to just hockey, it has hosted the Ice Hockey World Championships four times (most recently in 2013 when host Sweden, led by C Henrik Sedin, took gold and F Alex Galchenyuk‘s Team USA won bronze in a shootout), the World Cup of Hockey twice (most recently the 2004 quarterfinals when Sweden fell 6-1 to the Czech Republic), five NHL Challenge series games (the most recent of which were two Maple Leafs games against Djurgårdens IF and Färjestad BK in 2003) and eight previous regular season NHL games, the last of which was during the 2011-’12 season.

Some famous Swedes participating in today’s contest include Senators defensemen Fredrik Claesson, Erik Karlsson and Johnny Oduya and the Avs’ LW Gabriel Landeskog. Of the four, three – Claesson, Landeskog and Oduya – are Stockholm natives.

Anton Lindholm, a rookie defenseman for Colorado, also would have been one singing “Du gamla, du fria” before today’s game, but he joined four other Avalanche players on injured reserve after breaking his jaw Saturday in Philadelphia. D Patrik Nemeth (undisclosed) and F Carl Soderberg (paternity leave) also did not make the trip back to their homeland.

While those are the names that will attract the most attention from Swedish hockey fans, those of us on this side of the ocean are far more interested in the play of F Matt Duchene, who will be making his Senators debut against the very team he was playing for only five days ago.

Though it’s been expected since last season’s trade deadline that Duchene would eventually play against the Avalanche during the 2017-’18 campaign, few could have predicted the events that took place Sunday night in Brooklyn. Instead of trading the 27-year-old during the offseason, General Manager Joe Sakic had Duchene stick around Denver for an awkward photo shoot, 13 games and two shifts before concocting a three-team trade to send him to Ottawa.

That’s right, Duchene was traded right in the middle of a game. Not before. Not after. Perhaps it was D Scott Mayfield‘s goal that Duchene was on ice for that was the final straw. Who knows?

It seems humorous and unlikely, but given how the Avalanche have been run of late, it just might be a safe assumption.

You can find a more in-depth analysis here courtesy of @nlanciani53, but I got all the information I needed from F Nathan MacKinnon‘s interview with Adrian Dater following the Islanders game:

 

All-in-all, it seems the squad would have still loved to have Duchene in the fold, but seeing him return from the offseason frustrated was enough to convince them that his heart was no longer in Colorado – no matter how much of “a real pro” MacKinnon says he was about the situation.

With that in mind, I’d figure it won’t be too tough – emotionally, at least – for the 8-6-0 Avalanche to square off against their old pal. As far as playing against the 6-3-5 Senators, though? That might be a taller task.

Though we’re used to saying it about every game the Avs play for the past year or two, it’s certainly true here: they’re just a bad matchup against the Senators, as it’s a situation of “anything you can do, I can do better.”

MacKinnon’s 4-10-14 totals might be good enough to lead Colorado to a seventh-best 3.36 goals-per-game, but Karlsson and his 1.44 points-per-game simply looks at that and scoffs, as his Senators have managed a superior 3.57 goals-per-game.

Well, maybe the Avs might have an advantage on defense.

Think again. D Erik Johnson might be managing 2.1 blocks-per-game, but that’s not enough to keep goaltenders Semyon Varlamov or Jonathan Bernier from facing a seventh-worst 33.6 shots-per-game. Meanwhile, although the other end of the ice is no brick wall, the efforts of D Cody Ceci (2.5 blocks-per-game) and co. has limited netminders Craig Anderson and Mike Condon‘s nightly workload to only 31.7 shots against.

Even the special teams skew Ottawa’s way. Led by F Mike Hoffman‘s five power play points, the Sens are converting 20 percent of their man-advantages into goals, a rate that is (t)11th-best in the NHL. Though RW Mikko Rantanen‘s eight extra-man points are individually more successful, the fact that the Avalanche’s 19.3 percent conversion rate ranks only 14th-best must be discouraging.

While not exactly successful in comparison to the rest of the league, Ottawa can take solace in the fact that its penalty kill that is successful 80.5 percent of the time is yet another point in its favor when compared to the Avalanche. Colorado plays the (t)10th-worst PK in the league, killing off only 78.6 percent of its infractions.

If there’s anywhere Colorado does have the advantage, it might be between the pipes. In most cases, you’d expect 5-3-3 Anderson to be superior to 6-3-0 Varlamov, but the Senators’ netminder has had a slow start to this season, managing only a .896 save percentage and 3.13 GAA that bows to Varlamov’s .911 save percentage and 3.09 GAA effort.

Whether they start today or tomorrow, I expect them to square off against each other. Just in case they don’t assume their spots in crease today, know that Ottawa’s 1-0-2 Condon has a .924 save percentage and 2.6 GAA that is easily superior to 2-3-0 Bernier’s .884 save percentage and 3.63 GAA.

No matter how you slice it, this weekend’s international series is looking like four points for Ottawa. If the Colorado Stockholm Avalanche can earn any points out of this trip to Europe, they’ll have Varlamov to thank for it.


By scoring four goals in 2:02 against the defense that entered the game giving up the fewest goals-per-game in the league, the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Los Angeles Kings 5-2 in yesterday’s DtFR Game of the Day.

For a California road trip that was supposed to be difficult, the Lightning aren’t having too much trouble finding wins. That was no more apparent than when the Lightning blitzed G Jonathan Quick in the first period. The attack started with First Star of the Game RW Nikita Kucherov (Second Star C Steven Stamkos and D Slater Koekkoek) burying a backhanded shot 9:27 into the contest, and it was followed up 34 seconds later by an F Alex Killorn (D Dan Girardi and C Tyler Johnson) tip-in.

Coincidentally, only 34 seconds ticked off the clock before Tampa scored yet again. This one, which proved to be the game-winner, was struck by D Victor Hedman (F Yanni Gourde and W Ondrej Palat) – a snap shot to give the Lightning a 3-0 advantage. Stamkos (Killorn and Kucherov) completed the attack with a power play slap shot struck with 8:31 separating the Kings from the safety of their dressing room.

Los Angeles did eventually have to emerge from its safe haven to play the second period, though probably not before Head Coach John Stevens gave his club a spirited tongue lashing. Whatever he did obviously worked, as F Tyler Toffoli (Third Star C Anze Kopitar and D Jake Muzzin) was the only player on the ice to find the back of the net in the frame, setting the score at 4-1 at the second intermission.

D Oscar Fantenberg (W Dustin Brown and F Brooks Laich) provided the Kings a plausible chance of a comeback at the 8:39 mark pf the third period with his first goal of the season, but F Vladislav Namestnikov (Hedman and Kucherov) squelched that optimism with a snapper with 7:01 remaining in regulation to set the final 5-2 score.

G Peter Budaj earned the victory after saving 22-of-24 shots faced (.917 save percentage), leaving the loss to Quick, who saved 38-of-43 (.884).

There’s a trend that has formed in the DtFR Game of the Day series since Halloween: the road teams win two games, followed by hosts winning one. Well, Tampa Bay’s road win comes on the heels of a home victory Wednesday night, so we’ll see if that pattern continues in today’s game.

In the meantime, the 19-15-4 hosts in the DtFR Game of the Day still hold an advantage in the series, but it has been trimmed to only two points.

TRADE ANALYSIS: Preds, Sens solidify contender status, Avs profit later

Breakups are hard.

Joe Sakic was one of Matt Duchene‘s all-time heroes growing up– right up there with golden age era Colorado Avalanche counterpart, Peter Forsberg. Now, Sakic has traded away the player that was meant to carry the torch as Colorado transitioned from their franchise’s greatest player of all-time to the 3rd overall pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.

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Last year’s Colorado Avalanche sealed the deal for Duchene. He had waited long enough for a franchise that has only made the playoffs twice in his career to rebuild.

His days were numbered and had been rumored to be on his way out since things really began to go south last season, but Avalanche general manager, Joe Sakic, held on until the very last minute– demanding quite the return in hopes of making up for the lost time in talent acquisition and development after the Ryan O’Reilly trade with the Buffalo Sabres at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

Nikita Zadorov hasn’t lived up to the hype– though he is on their roster, J.T. Compher isn’t as prolific as O’Reilly, Mikhail Grigorenko‘s now playing in the KHL and the 31st overall pick was flipped by the Avs at the draft to the San Jose Sharks. The O’Reilly deal had a clear winner (Buffalo) and setback Colorado further than they expected to have been in the post-O’Reilly Era, already depleted at center a season after losing Paul Stastny to the St. Louis Blues in free agency.

For Duchene, the drama’s over.

No more questions about who’s going to step up, when thing’s are going to turn around or how long things will last.

The deal is done.

Sunday night, while playing at Barclays Center against the New York Islanders, Matt Duchene was pulled off the ice during a stoppage to assist now former teammate, Blake Comeau, out of the rink with an injury. Duchene had been traded– mid-game. The first in recent memory since Janurary 12, 2012, when the Montreal Canadiens sent Mike Cammalleri to the Calgary Flames during a matchup with the Boston Bruins at TD Garden.

Unknown-6Duchene will be closer to home, bringing his 4-6-10 totals in 14 games with Colorado so far this season to Canada’s capital. His Senators debut will be against his former team later this week as Ottawa takes on Colorado in the 2017 SAP NHL Global Series this Friday and Saturday in Stockholm, Sweden.

The 26-year-old center had 428 points (178 goals, 250 assists) in 586 games played with the Avalanche since being drafted in 2009 and is moving on to greener pastures with the Ottawa Senators after a career worst minus-34 in 77 games last season.

Ottawa is going through a little breakup of their own as part of this three-team trade, sending the other largest part of the deal, Kyle Turris, to the Nashville Predators, while dealing Andrew Hammond, Shane Bowers, a 2018 1st round pick (with top-ten protection) and a 2019 3rd round pick to Colorado.

In perhaps the biggest underrated pickup from this trade, Turris brings his 3-6-9 totals in 11 games with the Sens this season to the Nashville Predators. The 28-year-old center is coming off of a career best 27 goals last season and finished the 2016-17 campaign with 27-28-55 totals in 78 games played.

A strong, two-way player, Turris’s current contract expires at the end of the season, but fear not, Preds fans, he’s already signed a six-year extension that’ll keep him in Nashville through the 2022-23 season at a $6.000 million cap hit (beginning next season).

Predators GM David Poile knows he’ll need plenty of depth down the middle for a long playoff run. Nashville has their sights set on a Cup run and given their last Stanley Cup Final appearance, they’ll need one of the best group of centers down the middle, in the event of injury (a la Ryan Johansen).

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Luckily, that’s where Kyle Turris fits the bill. In 544 career NHL games with Ottawa and the Phoenix Coyotes, he’s had 136 goals and 184 assists (320 points). The 3rd overall pick by the Coyotes in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft seeks to win it all with his third team in the NHL.

To complete the deal, the Predators sent Samuel Girard, Vladislav Kamenev and a 2018 2nd round pick to the Avalanche. Girard is a highly touted prospect once log-jammed in Nashville’s immense depth on the blue line, now free to flourish with Colorado and was the 46th overall pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. Kamenev was the 42nd overall choice by the Predators in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.

While Sakic kept his demands high throughout the entire process of trading Duchene, he may reap the rewards of a plethora of picks, prospects and much needed depth in goal that is all-too-often overlooked (but becomes quite apparent when goalies are injured, let alone one of them– hello, Vegas).

Whether or not Sakic will flip the assets he attained for more remains to be seen– if he’s even the one to do so (there’s no guarantees in the midst of a rebuild, even if the draft picks are one or two calendar years away).


tl:dr The Colorado Avalanche finally traded Matt Duchene to the Ottawa Senators in a three-team trade in which Kyle Turris got shipped from the Sens to the Nashville Predators. In all, Colorado acquired Shane Bowers, Andrew Hammond, Samuel Girard, Vladislav Kamenev, a 2018 1st round pick (OTT), a 2018 2nd round pick (NSH) and a 2019 3rd round pick (OTT).

Colorado makes off with the most assets that could pay off if they draft the right guys or flip for more roster components at a later date, Ottawa got a center that they won’t have to worry about giving a raise this offseason (though they’ll still have to re-sign other large components in the next year or two) and Nashville got Turris locked up to a six-year extension going into effect next season, while also legitimizing themselves as a contender for the Cup this season with a solid core down the middle.


Some fun facts:

Duchene’s contract expires at the end of the 2018-19 season. His current cap hit is $6.000 million. Ottawa has about $3.700 million in cap space currently, according to CapFriendly and will need to re-sign players like Mark Stone and Cody Ceci next July (2018), as well as Erik Karlsson in 2019.

Nashville’s current cap hit of about $70.270 million, with Turris signed to a 6-year, $6.000 million per extension going into effect next season, will be even tighter heading into July 2018, which means they could be the new Washington Capitals in terms of everyone’s “Cup or bust” team this season.

Colorado’s cap hit is now about $66.741 million with a little over $8.000 million in cap space with more to offer throughout the season in terms of potential transactions and expendable rental players come this year’s trade deadline.

2017 NHL Expansion Draft: Protected Lists

30 of the NHL’s 31 teams submitted their protected lists on Saturday by 5 p.m. ET. The protected lists were made public at 10:30 a.m. ET (originally scheduled for 10 a.m.) on Sunday. Additionally, the available lists of players to choose from were released.

The Vegas Golden Knights will now spend the next few days constructing their roster, with the full reveal set for Wednesday night during the NHL Awards Ceremony at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

To recap, here’s all of the protected players:

Anaheim Ducks

Forwards: Andrew Cogliano, Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Corey Perry, Rickard Rakell, Jakob Silfverberg, Antoine Vermette

Defensemen: Kevin Bieksa, Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm

Goaltender: John Gibson

Arizona Coyotes

Forwards: Nick Cousins, Anthony Duclair, Jordan Martinook, Tobias Rieder

Defensemen: Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Alex Goligoski, Connor Murphy, Luke Schenn

Goaltender: Chad Johnson

Boston Bruins

Forwards: David Backes, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Brad Marchand, Riley Nash, David Pastrnak, Ryan Spooner

Defensemen: Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, Kevan Miller

Goaltender: Tuukka Rask

Buffalo Sabres

Forwards: Tyler Ennis, Marcus Foligno, Zemgus Girgensons, Evander Kane, Johan Larsson, Ryan O’Reilly, Kyle Okposo

Defensemen: Nathan Beaulieu, Jake McCabe, Rasmus Ristolainen

Goaltender: Robin Lehner

Calgary Flames

Forwards: Mikael Backlund, Sam Bennett, Micheal Ferlund, Michael Frolik, Johnny Gaudreau, Curtis Lazar, Sean Monahan

Defensemen: T.J. Brodie, Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton

Goaltender: Mike Smith

Carolina Hurricanes

Forwards: Phillip Di Giuseppe, Elias Lindholm, Brock McGinn, Victor Rask, Jeff Skinner, Jordan Staal, Teuvo Teravainen

Defensemen: Trevor Carrick, Justin Faulk, Ryan Murphy

Goaltender: Scott Darling

Chicago Blackhawks

Forwards: Artem Anisimov, Ryan Hartman, Marian Hossa, Tomas Jurco, Patrick Kane, Richard Panik, Jonathan Toews

Defensemen: Niklas Hjalmarsson, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook

Goaltender: Corey Crawford

Colorado Avalanche

Forwards: Sven Andrighetto, Blake Comeau, Matt Duchene, Rocco Grimaldi, Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Nieto

Defensemen: Tyson Barrie, Erik Johnson, Nikita Zadorov

Goaltender: Semyon Varlamov

Columbus Blue Jackets

Forwards: Cam Atkinson, Brandon Dubinsky, Nick Foligno, Scott Hartnell, Boone Jenner, Brandon Saad, Alexander Wennberg

Defensemen: Seth Jones, Ryan Murray, David Savard

Goaltender: Sergei Bobrovsky

Dallas Stars

Forwards: Jamie Benn, Radek Faksa, Valeri Nichushkin, Brett Ritchie, Antoine Roussel, Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza

Defensemen: Stephen Johns, John Klingberg, Esa Lindell

Goaltender: Ben Bishop

Detroit Red Wings

Forwards: Justin Abdelkader, Andreas Athanasiou, Anthony Mantha, Frans Nielsen, Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Henrik Zetterberg

Defensemen: Danny DeKeyser, Mike Green, Nick Jensen

Goaltender: Jimmy Howard

Edmonton Oilers

Forwards: Leon Draisaitl, Jordan Eberle, Zack Kassian, Mark Letestu, Milan Lucic, Patrick Maroon, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

Defensemen: Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson, Andrej Sekera

Goaltender: Cam Talbot

Florida Panthers

Forwards: Aleksander Barkov, Nick Bjugstad, Jonathan Huberdeau, Vincent Trocheck

Defensemen: Aaron Ekblad, Alex Petrovic, Mark Pysyk, Keith Yandle

Goaltender: James Reimer

Los Angeles Kings

Forwards: Jeff Carter, Anze Kopitar, Tanner Pearson, Tyler Toffoli

Defensemen: Drew Doughty, Derek Forbort, Alec Martinez, Jake Muzzin

Goaltender: Jonathan Quick

Minnesota Wild

Forwards: Charlie Coyle, Mikael Granlund, Mikko Koivu, Nino Niederreiter, Zach Parise, Jason Pominville, Jason Zucker

Defensemen: Jonas Brodin, Jared Spurgeon, Ryan Suter

Goaltender: Devan Dubnyk

Montreal Canadiens

Forwards: Paul Byron, Phillip Danault, Jonathan Drouin, Alex Galchenyuk, Brendan Gallagher, Max Pacioretty, Andrew Shaw

Defensemen: Jordie Benn, Jeff Petry, Shea Weber

Goaltender: Carey Price

Nashville Predators

Forwards: Viktor Arvidsson, Filip Forsberg, Calle Jarnkrok, Ryan Johansen

Defensemen: Mattias Ekholm, Ryan Ellis, Roman Josi, P.K. Subban

Goaltender: Pekka Rinne

New Jersey Devils

Forwards: Taylor Hall, Adam Henrique, Kyle Palmieri, Travis Zajac

Defensemen: Andy Greene, John Moore, Mirco Mueller, Damon Severson

Goaltender: Cory Schneider

New York Islanders

Forwards: Andrew Ladd, Anders Lee, John Tavares

Defensemen: Johnny Boychuk, Travis Hamonic, Nick Leddy, Adam Pelech, Ryan Pulock

Goaltender: Thomas Greiss

New York Rangers

Forwards: Kevin Hayes, Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller, Rick Nash, Derek Stepan, Mika Zibanejad, Mats Zuccarello

Defensemen: Nick Holden, Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal

Goaltender: Henrik Lundqvist

Ottawa Senators

Forwards: Derick Brassard, Ryan Dzingel, Mike Hoffman, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Zack Smith, Mark Stone, Kyle Turris

Defensemen: Cody Ceci, Erik Karlsson, Dion Phaneuf

Goaltender: Craig Anderson

Philadelphia Flyers

Forwards: Sean Couturier, Valtteri Filppula, Claude Giroux, Scott Laughton, Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek

Defensemen: Shayne Gostisbehere, Radko Gudas, Brandon Manning

Goaltender: Anthony Stolarz

Pittsburgh Penguins

Forwards: Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist, Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin

Defensemen: Brian Dumoulin, Kris Letang, Olli Maatta, Justin Schultz

Goaltender: Matt Murray

San Jose Sharks

Forwards: Ryan Carpenter, Logan Couture, Jannik Hansen, Tomas Hertl, Melker Karlsson, Joe Pavelski, Chris Tierney

Defensemen: Justin Braun, Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic

Goaltender: Martin Jones

St. Louis Blues

Forwards: Patrik Berglund, Ryan Reaves, Jaden Schwartz, Vladimir Sobotka, Paul Stastny, Alexander Steen, Vladimir Tarasenko

Defensemen: Jay Bouwmeester, Joel Edmundson, Alex Pietrangelo

Goaltender: Jake Allen

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forwards: Ryan Callahan, Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn, Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov, Ondrej Palat, Steven Stamkos

Defensemen: Braydon Coburn, Victor Hedman, Anton Stralman

Goaltender: Andrei Vasilevskiy

Toronto Maple Leafs

Forwards: Tyler Bozak, Connor Brown, Nazem Kadri, Leo Komarov, Josh Leivo, Matt Martin, James van Riemsdyk

Defensemen: Connor Carrick, Jake Gardiner, Morgan Rielly

Goaltender: Frederik Andersen

Vancouver Canucks

Forwards: Sven Baertschi, Loui Eriksson, Markus Granlund, Bo Horvat, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Brandon Sutter

Defensemen: Alexander Edler, Erik Gudbranson, Christopher Tanev

Goaltender: Jacob Markstrom

Washington Capitals

Forwards: Nicklas Backstrom, Andre Burakovsky, Lars Eller, Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Alex Ovechkin, Tom Wilson

Defensemen: John Carlson, Matt Niskanen, Dmitry Orlov

Goaltender: Braden Holtby

Winnipeg Jets

Forwards: Joel Armia, Andrew Copp, Bryan Little, Adam Lowry, Mathieu Perreault, Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler

Defensemen: Dustin Byfuglien, Tyler Myers, Jacob Trouba

Goaltender: Connor Hellebuyck

Stanley Cup Playoffs: Conference Finals – May 25

 

Ottawa Senators at Pittsburgh Penguins – Game 7

With First Star of the Game Chris Kunitz‘ slap shot at the 85:09 mark of a winner-takes-all Game 7, Pittsburgh beat the Senators 3-2 in double-overtime at PPG Paints Arena to clinch its second-straight Prince of Wales trophy and the corresponding berth to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Receiving the puck at the far point, Second Star Justin Schultz crept down the boards before passing into the corner for Sidney Crosby. Chris Wideman was immediately on the Pens’ captain, so Crosby was forced into the far face-off circle instead of towards the goal crease. Once he reached the dot, he passed to a waiting Kunitz at the top of the circle, who fired his one-timer over Third Star Craig Anderson‘s right arm to clinch the series for Pittsburgh.

The Senators never led in regulation, but they never trailed for long. In total, Ottawa played from behind for only 3:17 of play.

Similar to Game 6, both teams took a slow approach to the first period to combine for only 11 shots on goal. None of those offerings got past Anderson or Matthew Murray, leaving the score tied at nil.

Instead, the attack began in full during the second frame. By the middle of the period, both Pittsburgh and Ottawa had managed at least seven shots on goal, but it was a supple Kunitz (Conor Sheary and Matt Cullen) wrister at the 9:55 mark that snapped the scoreless draw.

After receiving a quick pass along the neutral zone’s far boards from Cullen to get the play out of the defensive zone, Sheary bumped a pass towards center ice for Kunitz to create a Pittsburgh two-on-one opportunity. Kunitz returned the offering to Sheary when they both entered their offensive zone, but the youngster returned the favor from the far side of the slot. The maneuver was too quick for Anderson to respond and seal the near post, and Kunitz was more than willing to complete the play for his first goal of the 2017 postseason.

The Penguins held on to their 1-0 lead for a whopping 20 seconds before Mark Stone (Erik Karlsson and Jean-Gabriel Pageau) tied the game once again with a wicked top-shelf wrister.

Each player involved in the play was responsible for tackling one zone. Though a forward, Pageau was the one to get the puck out of Ottawa’s defensive zone. He passed from his far defensive point to Karlsson at the red line along the near boards. The star defenseman attacked into Ottawa’s offensive zone, driving towards the near face-off circle before passing across Olli Maatta to Stone in the near slot. A goalscorer 22 times during the regular season, Stone knew exactly what he needed to do to beat Murray and level the game.

After the blitz of tallies, the arena’s scoreboard operator had an opportunity to take a rest as no more markers were registered until 8:16 remained in regulation. Taking advantage of the Senators’ lone penalty of the game – an interference call on Dion Phaneuf against Phil Kessel – Schultz (Kessel and Kunitz) scored a snap shot 25 seconds later to reclaim the lead for Pittsburgh.

Schultz started at the near point with the puck, but passed to Kessel at the far face-off circle. Kessel tried to move towards the crease but was cut off by Cody Ceci, forcing him to return the puck to Schultz at the center of the offensive zone, a spot that is uncannily similar to where Kunitz would eventually bury his series-winner from. Schultz saw his opportunity and fired the puck towards the top-right corner of Anderson’s goal.

Though Kunitz earned an assist on the play, his primary role was as a goaltender screen. In particular, Marc Methot took notice and tried to move Kunitz out of Anderson’s way, but his attempt corresponded with Schultz’ shot and effectively doubled the size Kunitz’ screen to make it impossible for Anderson to see the play.

The Penguins managed to hold onto this lead a little bit longer than their first, but Ryan Dzingel‘s (Karlsson and Kyle Turris) response 2:57 after Schultz’ marker was too quick for Murray to handle.

The play began with Turris possessing the puck in the near corner of Ottawa’s offensive zone. With Cullen approaching him, he passed towards the top of the zone to Karlsson, who lined up a slap shot that passed everyone and everything except Murray’s crossbar. The goaltender incorrectly guessed where the rebound landed, leaving Dzingel with an exposed puck at the far corner of the crease and a gaping net.

Neither club could find its third goal in the remaining 5:19 of regulation, leading to the first overtime period.

To put it simply, the Penguins absolutely dominated those 20 minutes. Though they only had eight shots to show for their efforts, they possessed the puck for most of the play to limit Ottawa to only two shots on net.

One play of particular excitement occurred just minutes before the fourth intermission. Many Pens fans in the arena grew furious – to the point of unwisely throwing their golden rally towels onto the ice in protest – with an apparent uncounted goal.

But they did not have the benefit of a clear replay. It looked to them that the puck entered and exited the goal faster than the eye could see – and a poor in-house camera angle broadcast on the video board seemed to support their claims – but a television replay proved that the puck hit the rear bracket of the goal post on the wrong side of the crossbar – above it instead of below.

Of course, Kunitz’ goal approximately half an hour later in real time made all those worries for naught.

He earned only Third Star honors according to the members of the PPG Paints Arena Media, but Anderson was easily the player of the game – if not the entire Eastern Conference Finals. He saved an incredible 39-of-42 (92.9%) shots faced in Game 7, including all eight in the first overtime period (compared to Murray’s two).

For the entire series, he registered an even better .936 save percentage and 2.07 GAA on 242 shots faced (34.6 per game) to keep the Sens within reach of the Penguins with incredible saves or smart stoppages of play on multiple occasions.

Now that the Penguins have reclaimed the Prince of Wales Trophy, everything is set for the Stanley Cup Finals. The Nashville Predators are en route to Pittsburgh for Game 1, which is scheduled for Monday, May 29 at 8 p.m. Eastern time. Of note, this will be the first ever Stanley Cup Finals contested between two American-born head coaches, as both Nashville’s Peter Laviolette and Pittsburgh’s Mike Sullivan are Massachusetts natives.

Those intending to catch the action in America should tune to NBC, while Canadians have their choice of CBC, SN or TVAS.

Stanley Cup Playoffs: Second Round – May 2

For the first and second rounds of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the authors at Down the Frozen River present a rapid recap of all of the night’s action. Tonight’s featured writer is Connor Keith.

 

 

 

 

 

Ottawa Senators at New York Rangers – Game 3

Sparked by First Star of the Game Mats Zuccarello‘s two-point first period, New York beat the Senators 4-1 Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.

The Rangers need to defend home ice twice to level the series at two games apiece, and they completed half that goal with an explosive offense that reminded New Yorkers of the attack at the beginning of the season.

It takes approximately 90 minutes to fly from Canada’s capital to the biggest city in North America. Judging from Zuccarello’s (Third Star Mika Zibanejad and Dan Girardi) snap shot only 5:31 into the game, it was 90 minutes well spent. That marker was followed by Michael Grabner (Zuccarello) taking advantage of Craig Anderson being out of position to bury the eventual game-winning wrap-around goal with 6:36 remaining in the frame.

In all, the Blueshirts fired 15 pucks at Anderson’s net before the first intermission, the greatest total by either team in any period during Game 3.

But a two-goal lead was not enough to lead Alain Vigneault to take his foot off the gas. Rick Nash (Derek Stepan and Jimmy Vesey) expanded New York’s lead to three goals with a wrist shot at the 12:21 mark of the second period, followed by Oscar Lindberg (J.T. Miller and Tanner Glass) finding the back of the net with 103 seconds remaining before the second intermission.

Though Jean-Gabriel Pageau (Bobby Ryan and Cody Ceci) did manage to squeeze in a power play goal on Second Star Henrik Lundqvist before the end of the period, the damage had already been done. New York’s three-goal lead was too much for the Senators to surpass in the remaining 20 minutes.

In baseball, a pitcher that comes in for the final inning to ensure no more runs are scored is called a closer. New York knows a little bit about closing, but it was Lundqvist instead of Mariano Rivera playing that role Tuesday. With the exception of Pageau’s snapper at the end of the second period, King Henrik saved all 22 shots he faced in the final 40 minutes to ensure the Rangers a chance to level the series in Game 4.

Speaking of, Game 4 is scheduled for Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Eastern time. It will be the lone action of the day and can be viewed on NBCSN in the States and either CBC or TVAS in Canada.

 

St. Louis Blues at Nashville Predators – Game 4

With its 2-1 victory over the Blues at Bridgestone Arena Tuesday, Nashville has pulled within a victory of advancing to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history.

Founded in 1998, this is only Nashville’s ninth appearance in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Though they’ve had three postseason run-ins with the Blackhawks, the Predators have still been searching for a true rival.

If 24 combined penalty minutes, 64 total hits and post-whistle scrums beyond count are any indication, it would seem they’ve finally found the club that makes their fans’ blood boil most, and they just so happen to be only 300 miles away.

There has been nothing friendly about the Blues and Predators’ first postseason meeting. The penalties committed in this game are not simple delay of game infractions. Four roughing penalties were called (including three on the same play) as well as two unsportsmanlike conducts (coinciding) and tripping infractions.

In addition to getting under the opposition’s skin, all the physicality can also have a direct impact on the other team’s offensive proficiency and rhythm. St. Louis allowed only 25 Predators shots to reach Jake Allen (thanks in large part to Magnus Paajarvi and Jaden Schwartz registering four hits apiece), exceeded only by Nashville yielding only 18 in the first 40 minutes. Austin Watson seemed to be involved in every play with his eight hits to lead the Preds, though First Star of the Game Ryan Ellis also performed his defensive duties extremely well by blocking four shots.

Ellis is also proving himself to be a very capable striker when the opportunity arises. Though it lasted 45:09, the defenseman buried a power play wrist shot (Colin Wilson) broke the scoreless draw early in the third period.

That tally didn’t seem to phase the Blues, but Third Star James Neal‘s did. It was an impressive marker he earned after impeding David Perron‘s pass to Carl Gunnarsson at the Notes’ defensive blue line. Neal collected the loose puck in the middle of the offensive zone and took it above the near face-off circle before ripping a quick wrister over Allen’s stick shoulder.

After he buried his eventual game-winning goal with 6:57 remaining in regulation, only then did St. Louis’ offense seem to begin applying extra heat.

But Second Star Pekka Rinne was more than up to the task. If it weren’t for Joel Edmundson‘s (Alex Steen and Jori Lehtera) wicked upper-90 slap shot that pinged into the goal, he would have saved all 33 shots the Blues fired at his net.

Though the series returns to Scottrade Center, the Predators have all the momentum going into their first opportunity to punch their ticket to the conference finals. Game 5 is scheduled for 8 p.m. Eastern time on Friday, and will be televised by NBCSN in the USA and CBC and TVAS in Canada.

Stanley Cup Playoffs: Second Round – April 27

For the first and second rounds of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the authors at Down the Frozen River present a rapid recap of all of the night’s action. Tonight’s featured writer is Connor Keith.

 

 

 

 

 

New York Rangers at Ottawa Senators – Game 1

Second Star of the Game Erik Karlsson‘s third period wrist shot proved to be the difference in Game 1 at the Canadian Tire Centre, as Ottawa beat the Rangers 2-1.

It seems like it’s said every time Henrik Lundqvist is involved, but this was a stunning goaltending matchup.  The Swede saved a brilliant 41-of-43 shots faced (95.3%), but was out-dueled by First Star Craig Anderson, who allowed only one tally on 35 attempts (97.1%).

This contest’s scoreless draw was not broken until 27:10 had ticked off the clock, though what set up the play occurred a little bit before that. 6:54 into the second period, Cody Ceci earned a seat in the penalty box for tripping Michael Grabner, and the Blueshirts made sure he paid. Captain Ryan McDonagh (Mats Zuccarello and Pavel Buchnevich) took advantage of the man-advantage only 16 seconds later by pinging a strong slap shot from the far point off the near post.

But as happens so often in sports, what comes around goes around. Brady Skjei got caught holding Ryan Dzingel with 2:23 remaining in the frame, followed 62 seconds later by the Third Star himself (Alexandre Burrows and Kyle Turris) cashing in on the power play with a wrist shot from the slot. Dzingel’s goal leveled the contest at one-all with only one period of regulation remaining.

Karlsson is one of the most clutch players for the Senators and he proved that once again tonight with his first goal of the 2017 playoffs. The play reset at the far point when Marc Methot battled Rick Nash to keep the puck in the Sens’ offensive zone. Mike Hoffman collected that victory and carried the puck to the face-off circle before rolling it along the boards behind Lundqvist’s net to Karlsson at the opposite end of the goalline. There’s not much room to score from there by usual means, but the two-way defenseman proved his mastery at scoring by banking the puck off the back of the netminder’s head and into the net.

What a way to score the first postseason game-winning goal of your career.

As made evident by tonight’s action, it’s going to take a talented – or otherwise opportunistic – goalscorer to earn a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals. Be on the lookout for New York’s Grabner and J.T. Miller (both earned a .167 shooting percentage in the regular season) or Ottawa’s Mark Stone (scored on 16.4% of shots) to be the determining factor in future games.

Game 2 will drop the puck at 3 p.m. Eastern time this Saturday. Residents of the 50 States can catch the contest on NBC, while those that salute the red maple leaf will be serviced by CBC and TVAS2.

 

Pittsburgh Penguins at Washington Capitals – Game 1

The first round of this best-of-seven bout between Metropolitan Division rivals went to the visiting Penguins, who beat Washington 3-2 at the Verizon Center Thursday.

Before the offensive performances by the two captains, this series proved to be shaping into exactly what it was expected to be. Both defenses were flying in Game 1, leading to only 56 combined shots being fired. Pittsburgh’s blue line made its presence known with its 29 blocked shots (led by Ian Cole‘s eight), while the Capitals preferred a more personal approach: sparked by Third Star of the Game Alex Ovechkin‘s six hits, Washington threw an impressive 41 blows to disrupt the Pens’ attack.

But no matter how well a defensive corps plays, there’s not much that can ensure these clubs don’t bury the puck. Braden Holtby stopped all four shots he faced in the first period, but couldn’t keep Second Star Sidney Crosby (Jake Guentzel and Patric Hornqvist) off the board a dozen seconds into the middle frame. Crosby (Hornqvist and Olli Maatta) followed that up 52 seconds later with another wrist shot to give Pittsburgh a quick two-goal lead.

The game cooled – offensively, at least – following Crosby’s blitz, but the period wouldn’t end without Ovechkin (Lars Eller and T.J. Oshie) having some fun. With 103 seconds separating him from the second intermission, the captain scored a wrister of his own on Marc-Andre Fleury to pull his Caps back within a tally.

Washington’s comeback was completed 8:05 into the third period courtesy of Evgeny Kuznetsov, who scored a wrister from the slot off a beautiful cross-slot setup from former Penguin Matt Niskanen to set up a thrilling finish.

Unfortunately for fans clad in red, that finish is not what they were hoping for. That result is due in large part to the existence of First Star Nick Bonino, who has scored the last two game-winning goals for Pittsburgh in playoff games against the Capitals.

This one was a wrister struck with 7:24 remaining regulation with assists from Scott Wilson and Cole. After receiving a Justin Schultz from behind Fleury’s net, Cole dished to Wilson along the far boards into the offensive zone. The left wing one-touched a pass to his trailing center who was tearing towards Holtby’s crease. When he reached the slot, he ripped his wrister glove-side before the goalie could react.

These clubs will drop the puck again Saturday night at 8 p.m. Eastern time. The game will be televised on NBC in the USA and CBC and TVAS in Canada.

December 14 – Day 63 – Keeping up with the Jones

There’s only four games on the schedule today, but most of them are very good. Like it usually does, the action starts at 7 p.m. when San Jose visits Ottawa (SN/TVAS), trailed half an hour later by Boston at Pittsburgh (NBCSN). Tampa Bay at Calgary (SN/SN360) drops the puck at 9:30 p.m., leading tonight’s nightcap – Philadelphia at Colorado (NBCSN) – by 30 minutes. All times eastern.

The most competitive contest of the evening is where we try to turn our attention to, and I think that will occur tonight in the Canadian Tire Centre.

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The most recent winners of the Campbell Bowl are currently the proud owners of a 17-11-1, the best mark in the Pacific Division and winners of their past two games. They’ve reached that distinction riding an impressive defense and goaltending that has allowed only 63 scores this season, a total that is second-fewest in the Western Conference.

As has been the case since last season, Martin Jones mans the Sharks’ crease, and does a pretty good job of it. Although he only has a 14-10-1 record, his .921 save percentage and 2.07 GAA are 13th and ninth-best, respectively, among the 38 goalies in the league with 13 or more appearances. With numbers like that, his record is more representative of an offense that has managed only the ninth-fewest goals.

Part of the reason Jones has been so good has been due to the blueline in front of him. Led by Brent Burns‘ 55 blocks, Jones faces an average of only 26.4 shots per night, the second-fewest in the entire NHL.

Hosting that impressive Sharks defense are the 16-11-2 Senators, losers of their last two games. Although I’m not really impressed by either aspect of Ottawa‘s game, their defense and goaltending has certainly overshadowed their offensive efforts. They’ve allowed 78 goals so far this season, the 11th-fewest in the NHL.

Even though 12-6-1 Craig Anderson has been the main man in net for the Senators, Dean Brown says it will by 4-3-1 Mike Condon in net this evening.

Condon is the proud owner of a .923 save percentage and 2.28 GAA, the 19th and 17th-best effort, respectively, among all 60 goaltenders with four or more appearances.

Regardless of who is in net for Ottawa on a given night, they certainly earn their paycheck. The Senators‘ defense allows 31.2 shots-per-game to reach the crease, the eighth-most in the league. What’s disheartening is Erik Karlsson (79 blocks), Cody Ceci (64) and Dion Phaneuf (63) have been putting their bodies on the line for their goaltenders, but they are the only ones with more than 40 blocks to their names. If the Sens want to hold onto their current playoff spot, more blueliners need to get involved in performing their primary job description.

A good spot to start would be on the penalty kill, where Ottawa ranks eighth-worst in the league on a 80.2% kill rate. Phaneuf has been especially active when down a man, as he leads his club with 21 shorthanded blocks, but he’s the only skater with more than 13.

These squads just met up last Wednesday in The Tank, where Condon and the Senators were able to pull off the 4-2 victory.

Some players to keep an eye on this evening include Ottawa‘s Karlsson (20 assists [tied for sixth-most in the league]) and San Jose‘s Jones (14 wins [tied for fourth-most in the NHL], including two shutouts [tied for seventh-most in the league], on a 2.07 GAA [10th-best in the NHL]).

All bets are off in Vegas in this game, but I feel pretty confident in picking the Sharks to come away with the victory for no other reason than the Senators are struggling right now. Ottawa‘s penalty kill is not very good, and their defense has not been gelling of late. Add that to San Jose wanting revenge for losing on home ice, and you have a Sharks winner.

Hockey Birthday

  • Patrik Sundstrom (1961-) – A 10-year NHL veteran, this Swedish center was selected by Vancouver in the 1980 NHL Entry Draft. Sundstrom played 679 games over his career, and very near evenly split them between the Canucks and New Jersey.
  • Bill Ranford (1966-) – Boston selected this Canadian goaltender in the 1985 NHL Entry Draft, but he spent most of his 15-year career in Edmonton, where he won his only Stanley Cup in 1990. He also won the Smythe Trophy that season.

Only three goals were struck in yesterday’s DtFR Game of the Day series – and all in the same period – but it was Chicago who avenged their home loss to the Rangers to steal the 2-1 victory in Madison Square Garden.

Trevor van Riemsdyk (Artemi Panarin and Second Star of the Game Artem Anisimov) took credit for the Blackhawks‘ first goal of the night, only 25:18 after the initial puck drop. That lead lasted only 2:57 before Jesper Fast (Oscar Lindberg) tipped-in his third goal of the season to level the game for the Blueshirts. Anisimov (Brian Campbell and Panarin) takes credit for the Hawks‘ game-winner on a snap shot with 69 seconds remaining in the second period, and that 2-1 score held until the final horn.

First Star Scott Darling earns the victory after saving 33-of-34 shots faced (97.1%), while Third Star Antti Raanta takes the loss, saving 24-of-26 (92.3%).

The road teams’ second-straight victory pulls them back within a dozen points of the home sides, but the hosts still host a 36-20-9 record in the DtFR Game of the Day series.

November 27 – Day 46 – Brassard was a Blueshirt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hockey Birthday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 24 – Day 43 – I’m thankful for hockey

On behalf of Down the Frozen River, allow me to wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving. Unless you’re Canadian, because I’m 43 days late.

Oops.

All I’ve heard this week is about how Thanksgiving is about food, family and football. While these things may be true, you and I both know they’re missing one vital thing: hockey. Luckily for us, the NHL has us covered with two games tonight – Carolina at Montréal (NHLN/RDS/SN360) and Boston at Ottawa (RDS2). Both drop the puck at 7:30 p.m. eastern time.

One game is between two quality Atlantic Division rivals. The other features the team fifth from the bottom in the Eastern Conference standings. You tell me which one we’re watching.

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Welcome to the Canadian Tire Centre the 11-8-0 Boston Bruins, a team that has been led by their defense and goaltending so far this season, which is surprising giving last season’s effort.

At 228 goals, the Bruins allowed the 12th-most goals against in the league last year. This season, they allow only 2.32 per game – the fifth-best rate in the NHL. That success starts with 11-3-0 Tuukka Rask, who has a 1.57 GAA on a .942 save percentage, the third and sixth-best effort, respectively, among the 44 netminders with seven or more appearances.

Part of the reason Rask has found such success is the blueline playing in front of him. He has faced only 27.3 shots per game this year, the fourth fewest in the league. In comparison, the Bruins allowed 30.4 a season ago. That three-shot improvement has been headlined by Captain Zdeno Chara‘s 41 blocks, trailed closely by rookie Brandon Carlo‘s 38. A defensive specialist, the youngster has been a fantastic call-up effectively straight from the juniors (he played only six games at the end of the year in Providence).

As could be expected, the Bruins‘ defensive success has carried to the penalty kill, where they tie for seventh-best in the league with a 85.7% success rate.

Where Boston falters is on the power play. Led by David Krejci‘s five power play points (even though David Pastrnak has three goals on the man-advantage), the Bruins rank ninth-worst in the NHL with the man-advantage, as they’re successful on only 14.8% of their attempts.

The 11-7-0 Senators are the third-best team in the Atlantic Division, and just like Boston, I’ve been most impressed with their defense and goaltending, as they’ve only allowed 49 goals against, which ties for 11th-fewest in the NHL.

9-4-0 Craig Anderson has been the man between the pipes most often for the Sens, earning a .928 save percentage for a 2.32 save percentage – the 11th and 17th-best effort among those 44 goaltenders mentioned earlier with seven or more appearances.

In comparison to Rask, it doesn’t seem like he’s anywhere near as successful. But that’s too easy an answer. Anderson faces 31.6 shots-per-game, the sixth-highest rate in the NHL, and second-highest among clubs that would qualify for the playoffs if they started today. To put it plainly, this blueline simply is not cutting it. The top-three defensemen (Cody Ceci [42], Captain Erik Karlsson [53] and Dion Phaneuf [41]) may have over 40 blocks to their credit, but the rest of the team has yet to break the 24-block mark. Their efforts need to improve soon, or else General Manager Pierre Dorion may be forced to make a move if he wants his team to qualify for the postseason.

One facet of the game where Ottawa certainly has the advantage is on their penalty kill. Pairing with Boston‘s poor power play, Ottawa has the fourth-best penalty kill, nullifying 86.4% of their infractions. Of course, Jean-Gabriel Pageau remains a scoring threat on the penalty kill, as he had nine short-handed points last season to lead the league.

Boston regains the advantage when the Senators earn the power play. Led by Mike Hoffman‘s two power play goals, Ottawa has found the back of the net on only 10.5% of their extra-man attacks – the second-worst rate in the league.

Some players to keep an eye on include Boston‘s Chara (+12 [tied for fourth-best in the NHL]), Pastrnak (10 goals [tied for seventh-most in the league]) and Rask (11 wins [tied for most in the NHL], including three shutouts [tied for second-most in the league], on a 1.57 GAA [third-best in the NHL] and a .942 save percentage [seventh-best in the league]) & Ottawa‘s Anderson (two shutouts [tied for fifth-most in the NHL] among nine wins [tied for eighth-most in the league]).

This should be a fantastic game, and not just because the other game probably won’t be as good. Vegas doesn’t have a line marked for this one, but I’m favoring the Bruins to pull off the road upset.

Hockey Birthday

  • Keith Primeau (1971-) – This center was the third-overall pick in the 1990 NHL Entry Draft by Detroit. In 2000, his first season in Philadelphia, he ended the longest overtime playoff game in NHL history by burying a game at the 92:01 mark. Yes, you read that right: that’s over a game-and-a-half of play.
  • Christian Laflamme (1976-) – A defenseman, he was drafted 45th-overall in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft by Chicago, where he spent most of his eight seasons.

I expected New York to put the whipping on the Penguins at Madison Square Garden, but the opposite happened, with Pittsburgh winning 6-1.

The lone goal of the first period was the only shot that got past Matthew Murray. 4:22 into the game, Rick Nash (Chris Kreider and Mats Zuccarello) scored a power play wrister to give the Blueshirts an early lead.

The Penguins began their five-goal second period onslaught only 2:02 after returning to the ice with a wrist shot from Scott Wilson (Second Star of the Game Phil Kessel and Third Star Nick Bonino). 2:56 later, First Star Sidney Crosby (Ian Cole) gave Pittsburgh a lead they would not yield.

Kessel (Bonino), Crosby (Kris Letang) and Conor Sheary (Crosby and Carl Hagelin) all added insurance goals in the second, and Matt Cullen (Justin Schultz and Eric Fehr) notched another in the third.

Murray earns the victory after saving 16-of-17 shots faced (94.1%), while Henrik Lundqvist takes the loss, saving 13-of-17 (76.5%). He was replaced following Crosby’s second goal after 32:57 of play by Antti Raanta, who saved 19-of-21 (90.5%) for no decision.

Pittsburgh‘s victory is the fourth-straight for the visiting teams in the DtFR Game of the Day series. It pulls the roadies within seven points of the homers, who have a 24-14-7 record.