Linus Ullmark recorded a season-high 41 saves, while Matt Grzelcyk scored his first goal of the season not a minute too soon in the dying minutes of the game to lift the Boston Bruins over the Edmonton Oilers, 3-2, at Rogers Place on Thursday.
Ullmark (6-4-0, 2.61 goals-against average, .917 save percentage, in 10 games played) made 41 saves on 43 shots against in the win for Boston.
Edmonton goaltender, Stuart Skinner (2-5-0, 2.75 goals-against average, .918 save percentage in eight games played), turned aside 27 out of 30 shots faced in the loss.
The Bruins improved to 13-8-2 (28 points) overall and remain in command of 5th place in the Atlantic Division– one point behind the Detroit Red Wings for 4th in the division standings.
The Oilers fell to 16-9-0 (32 points) on the season and in 3rd place in the Pacific Division– three points behind the Anaheim Ducks for 2nd place and two points ahead of the 4th place Vegas Golden Knights.
Anton Blidh returned to the lineup after dealing with an upper body injury since Nov. 28th against the Vancouver Canucks, while John Moore and Karson Kuhlman were also re-inserted amongst some redone lines and defensive pairings as acting head coach, Joe Sacco, was forced to make adjustments.
With Brandon Carlo (lower body) out day-to-day, Moore took over Carlo’s role on the second pairing alongside Grzelcyk.
Meanwhile, Blidh and Kuhlman’s reintroduction to the lineup meant that Curtis Lazar and Oskar Steen joined Jack Ahcan as healthy scratches for the B’s in Edmonton.
Erik Haula centered the third line with Jake DeBrusk at left win and Nick Foligno on right wing, while Trent Frederic manned the fourth line center role– flanked by Blidh and Kuhlman on his wings.
Jakub Zboril (lower body) and Tomáš Nosek (non-COVID illness) remained out of the lineup due to injury and illness on Thursday, while Bruce Cassidy (COVID-19 protocol) remained at home outside Boston in the National Hockey League’s COVID-19 protocol.
Leon Draisaitl kicked the night off with a tripping infraction after he brought down Moore at 3:50 of the first period, presenting Boston with the game’s first power play.
The Bruins weren’t able to convert on the ensuing skater advantage, however.
In fact, Boston was stumped on a 5-on-3 advantage for a little more than 10 seconds after Zach Hyman hooked Patrice Bergeron and cut a rut to the penalty box at 5:37.
Almost midway through the first period, Edmonton got their first taste of a power play opportunity as Frederic hooked Connor McDavid at 8:26.
The Oilers couldn’t beat Boston’s penalty kill, however.
Things did not pan out in Edmonton’s favor on their subsequent power play when Foligno was assessed a roughing minor for retaliating against Hyman at 16:03.
Just eight seconds into the penalty kill, the Bruins struck first on the scoreboard as Bergeron forced a turnover in the neutral zone before sending Brad Marchand (10) into the attacking zone on a breakaway prior to elevating a backhand show over Skinner’s glove side to make it, 1-0.
Bergeron (11) had the only assist on Marchand’s 32nd career shorthanded goal at 16:15 of the first period and– as a result– tied Phil Esposito for the fourth-most assists in a Bruins uniform (553).
Ray Bourque (1,111 assists), John Bucyk (794) and Bobby Orr (624) round out the top-three in franchise assist leaders.
Entering the first intermission, the Bruins led, 1-0, on the scoreboard despite trailing the Oilers, 13-9, in shots on goal.
Boston held an advantage in blocked shots (4-3), takeaways (2-1), giveaways (7-5) and hits (13-7), while Edmonton led in faceoff win percentage (54-46) after one period.
Both teams were 0/2 on the power play heading into the middle frame.
Draisaitl cross checked Marchand 10 seconds into the second period and presented the Bruins with an early power play in the middle period as a result.
Boston didn’t let this opportunity go to waste as Kailer Yamamoto turned the puck over to Taylor Hall, who then dished the rubber biscuit from the corner boards to DeBrusk (5) for a catch and release goal on the short side to put the Bruins up by two.
Hall (7) tallied the only assist on DeBrusk’s power-play goal as Boston pulled ahead, 2-0, at 2:02 of the second period.
Midway through the middle frame, Markus Niemelainen caught Frederic with a high stick, which led to the two players becoming a bit entangled as Frederic thought he had been wronged beyond the eyes of the on-ice officials.
Niemelainen went to the box for high sticking, while Frederic picked up a roughing minor and the two penalties resulted in some 4-on-4 action at 13:31 of the second period.
Neither team could score with the extra room on the ice available at both ends.
Minutes later, though, Haula was penalized for holding at 16:55 and the Oilers went on the power play late in the period.
Edmonton took their time on the ensuing skater advantage, but the barrage of shots eventually led to the formation of a triangle in which the Oilers worked the puck from the point to the side back to the point before Tyson Barrie setup Draisaitl (22) for the one-timer goal on the short side– cutting Boston’s lead in half in the process.
The Oilers trailed, 2-1, thanks to Draisaitl’s power-play goal at 18:14 with assists from Barrie (11) and McDavid (28).
Heading into the second intermission, Edmonton extended their domination in total shots to a, 27-15, advantage– outshooting Boston, 14-6, in the second period alone.
Though the Bruins led on the scoreboard, 2-1, and dominated in blocked shots (12-7), giveaways (16-12), hits (19-11) and faceoff win% (54-47), if you take your foot off the gas against the Oilers’ power play, well… don’t be too surprised if Edmonton surges in momentum thereafter for a bit.
As it was, the Oilers led in takeaways, 5-2, heading into the final frame as both teams were 1/3 on the power play.
Bergeron hooked McDavid to give the Oilers a power play at 4:03 of the third period.
This time, however, Boston’s penalty kill stood tall against Edmonton’s skater advantage, but the B’s presented the Oilers with another chance on the power play at 8:58 when Charlie Coyle was assessed a holding infraction against Yamamoto.
It only took Edmonton about half the time on Coyle’s minor to convert on the power play as it did the first time that Draisaitl scored a power-play goal in the second period and, coincidentally, Draisaitl (23) had the Oilers’ second power-play goal as well.
McDavid fed Draisaitl a pass from the dot to the goal line for a one-timer goal on Ullmark’s short side– tying the game, 2-2, in the process.
McDavid (29) and Barrie (12) had the assists on Draisaitl’s second goal of the game at 9:50 of the third period.
Late in the period, the Bruins had possession in the attacking zone where they worked the puck around from Hall to Craig Smith before finding Grzelcyk at his unnatural spot on the ice.
Grzelcyk (1), a left shot, blasted a shot from the right point off the far side post and into the back of the twine for his first goal of the season, as well as the eventual game-winner, as he gave Boston a, 3-2, lead at 17:27.
Smith (5) and Hall (8) tallied the assists on Grzelcyk’s late third period goal.
Minutes later, Oilers head coach, Dave Tippett, pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker with about 1:55 remaining in the game, but it was to no avail as the Bruins held off Edmonton’s best skaters for the, 3-2, win at the final horn.
Boston finished the night trailing in shots on goal, 43-30, despite making things close in the third period– only trailing the Oilers, 16-15, in third period shots alone.
The Bruins left Rogers Place with the two-point victory in regulation as well as the lead in blocked shots (19-9), giveaways (20-15), hits (23-17) and faceoff win% (57-43).
Edmonton had the most success on the power play, however, having gone 2/5 on the night to Boston’s 1/3 conversion rate on the skater advantage.
In the end, though, the final score was all that mattered as the Bruins won, 3-2, and improved to 9-4-0 (5-2-0 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal, 10-0-0 (6-0-0 on the road) when leading after one period and 9-1-0 (6-0-0 on the road) when leading after two periods this season.
The Oilers, meanwhile, fell to 7-9-0 (3-4-0 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 0-8-0 (0-4-0 at home) when trailing after the first period and 3-8-0 (2-3-0 at home) when trailing after the second period in 2021-22.
Boston visits the Calgary Flames on Saturday night to wrap up their Western Canada road trip (1-0-1) before returning home to host the Golden Knights on Dec. 14th at TD Garden.
The Edmonton Oilers scored three unanswered goals in the third period to rout the Boston Bruins, 5-3, at TD Garden on Thursday night.
Leon Draisaitl scored the game-tying and game-winning goals before Cody Ceci added an insurance marker for good measure, while Mikko Koskinen (8-1-0, 2.59 goals-against average, .918 save percentage in nine games played) made 26 saves on 29 shots against in the win for the Oilers.
Bruins goaltender, Linus Ullmark (3-3-0, 3.01 goals-against average, .903 save percentage in six games played) turned aside 23 out of 28 shots faced in the loss.
Boston fell to 6-5-0 (12 points) overall and stuck in 5th place in the Atlantic Division, while Edmonton remained atop the Pacific Division with a 10-2-0 record and 20 points on the season.
Nick Foligno and Anton Blidh returned from their upper-body injuries that kept Foligno out for the last eight games and Blidh out for the last seven games, respectively.
Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, inserted Foligno on the second line right wing slot– bumping Craig Smith down to the third line with Jack Studnicka having been reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) for a little seasoning.
Blidh, meanwhile, was slotted into the fourth line left wing role in place of Trent Frederic (upper body) who missed Thursday’s action as a result of an injury sustained in Tuesday night’s, 3-2, win against the Ottawa Senators.
Jakub Zboril and Karson Kuhlman served as Boston’s healthy scratches against the Oilers.
Prior to puck drop, the Bruins honored Colby Cave (1994-2020) with a tribute video and a moment of silence before Emily Cave dropped the ceremonial first puck and administered long hugs for each team’s captain before hugging a few more Oilers players and the entire Bruins bench.
About a minute into Thursday night’s action, Draisaitl tripped Brad Marchand and presented the Bruins with the first power play opportunity of the game at 1:02 of the first period.
Boston didn’t convert on the skater advantage, however, but took advantage of the vulnerable minute after as Patrice Bergeron sent a tape-to-tape pass to David Pastrnak, leading Pastrnak (4) into the attacking zone with Oilers defender, Duncan Keith, trailing before firing a shot from the dot through Koskinen’s five-hole to put the Bruins ahead, 1-0.
Bergeorn (5) had the only assist on Pastrnak’s goal at 4:45 of the first period.
The lead didn’t last long for the B’s as Evan Bouchard (2) snuck in from the point and wired a shot from the slot over Ullmark’s glove, off the bar and in– tying the game, 1-1, in the process 44 seconds after Pastrnak scored for Boston.
Draisaitl (14) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (15) tallied the assists on Bouchard’s goal at 5:29 of the first period.
Midway through the period, Connor Clifton sent an errant puck over the glass and out of play for an automatic delay of game infraction while trying to clear his own zone at 10:50.
Edmonton did not score on the ensuing power play, however.
Late in the period, Slater Koekkoek cut a rut to the sin bin for holding, but Boston couldn’t muster anything on the skater advantage at 17:30.
Heading into the first intermission, the score was tied, 1-1, while the Oilers led in shots on goal, 9-7.
Edmonton also held the advantage in takeaways (4-2), while Boston led in blocked shots (4-1), hits (19-9) and faceoff win percentage (73-27). Both teams had three giveaways each.
The Oilers were 0/1 and the Bruins were 0/2 on the power play after one period.
Pastrnak protected the puck in the attacking zone early in the middle period before sending an attempted pass for Bergeron through the slot, but the play was broken up by Bouchard before bouncing to Marchand (6), who promptly pounced on the loose puck and scored from the low slot.
Bergeron (6) and Pastrnak (6) tallied the assists on Marchand’s goal and the Bruins led, 2-1, at 5:06 of the second period.
The goal moved Marchand (731) into sole possession of the eighth-most points scored in a Bruins uniform, surpassing David Krejci (730) in the process.
Wayne Cashman (793 points with Boston) is seventh on the list ahead of Marchand.
Just like they did in the first period, though, the Oilers found a way to score within a minute after the Bruins pulled ahead– only this time Edmonton did it 24 seconds after Marchand’s goal as Zach Hyman (8) received a pass from Connor McDavid, skated past three Bruins players and scored on a quick flip to tie the game.
McDavid (15) had the only assist as Edmonton tied it, 2-2, at 5:30 of the second period.
A few minutes later, Koekkoek went back to the box– this time for tripping Marchand– at 8:42, but the B’s didn’t score on the resulting power play.
Late in the middle frame, Bergeron won an offensive zone faceoff and sent the puck back to Matt Grzelcyk at the point.
Grzelcyk sent a “D-to-D” pass along the blue line to Brandon Carlo (1), who rocketed a slap shot off of Koskinen’s glove and into the twine to give the Bruins a, 3-2, lead at 17:14.
Grzelcyk (2) and Bergeron (6) were credited with the assists on Carlo’s first goal of the season.
Through 40 minutes of action, the B’s led, 3-2, on the scoreboard and, 18-16, in shots on goal, including an, 11-7, advantage in the second period alone.
Boston also maintained the advantage in blocked shots (5-4), hits (27-25) and faceoff win% (67-33), while the Oilers led in giveaways (6-4). Both teams had four takeaways each.
Edmonton was still 0/1 on the power play, while the Bruins were 0/3 on the skater advantage.
Marchand held Darnell Nurse and was sent to the box at 1:28 of the third period as a result, but the Oilers couldn’t convert on the ensuing power play.
Moments later, Edmonton started to capitalize on a shift in momentum, plus quite a few defensive lapses in Bruins players’ judgment.
Carlo lost the rubber biscuit while second-guessing a pass to his defensive partner– softly giving the puck away to Draisaitl (11) instead for an unassisted goal from close range as No. 29 in an Oilers road jersey buried a shot past Ullmark’s glove with a blast.
Draisaitl’s first goal of the game tied things up, 3-3, at 6:22 of the third period.
About a few minutes later, Edmonton won an attacking zone faceoff back to the point where Keith tossed the puck to Ceci as he crept in before sending a shot pass for Draisaitl (12) to redirect from the slot to give the Oilers their first lead of the night, 4-3, at 9:26 of the third period.
Ceci (2) and Keith (3) had the assists as Edmonton tied the game and took the lead in a span of 3:04.
In the closing minutes of Thursday night’s action, Ullmark sent the puck along the boards up to Clifton around the goal line, whereby Clifton promptly banked it inadvertently off of Bouchard, resulting in a mad scramble in front of Boston’s own net.
Though Ullmark made the initial save, a rebound that no Bruin could settle on their stick and clear the zone led to Ceci (1) waltzing in with an easy shot from the point at a mostly empty net to cement Edmonton’s victory with a, 5-3, lead.
Ceci’s goal was unassisted at 17:41 of the third period.
With less than two minute remaining in the action, Cassidy pulled his netminder for an extra attacker, but it was all for naught as the final horn sounded– signaling a, 5-3, win for the Oilers, despite Boston finishing the night leading in shots on goal, 29-28.
Edmonton held the advantage in shots on net in the third period alone, 12-11, and exited the building leading in blocked shots (8-7), while the Bruins wrapped up Thursday night’s action leading in giveaways (9-8), hits (34-30) and faceoff win% (67-33).
The Oilers finished the night 0/2 on the power play, while Boston went 0/3 on the skater advantage.
The B’s fell to 5-3-0 (4-1-0 at home) when scoring the game’s first goal, 0-3-0 (0-1-0 at home) when tied after the first period and 4-1-0 (3-1-0 at home) when leading after two periods this season.
Edmonton, meanwhile, improved to 4-2-0 (2-1-0 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 4-0-0 (2-0-0 on the road) when tied after one and 3-1-0 (1-1-0 on the road) when trailing after the second period in 2021-22.
The Bruins travel to Prudential Center for a Saturday matinee road game against the New Jersey Devils before returning home to host the Montréal Canadiens on Sunday for the first time since the 2019-20 season. Boston then has five days off before their next road game in Philadelphia on Nov. 20th.
Every year on DTFR you may recall seeing division standings forecasts for the National Hockey League from month-to-month and, well, I didn’t forget about it this year, don’t worry.
When the Vegas Golden Knights joined the league in 2017-18, the initial forecast entering October was infused with an educated guess (*ahem*, gut feeling) for each and every team– but especially Vegas since they had never played before– in addition to the usual arithmetic utilized to compile the average of three different forecasts ranging from the last 10, five and three seasons.
In other words, the forecast you’re about to see uses the forecast function in your spreadsheet of choice (Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets), whereas the standings projections in the link above is based on an expected points totals model using last season’s offense and a whole bunch of other things I won’t bore you with.
As such, Seattle received a projected points total based on the loosely projected offense using a composite of what the Kraken could have had, if every player on their roster entering training camp had scored goals last season for Seattle instead of their respective teams.
But for this edition of standings predictions– using the forecast function– since the Kraken never played a game entering October 2021, they were given an 8th place standing in the Pacific Division with an asterisk– signifying that their results are incomplete until they hit the ice.
Now, of course, entering November, the Kraken have played some games, so the forecast reflects that (albeit limited in the variance of possible outcomes, since they don’t have quite the same backlog as the 31 other NHL franchises).
If you’re confused, let’s move on and talk about how things looked entering October for each division and whether or not things have changed that much entering November– keeping in mind that all 32 teams played anywhere from as few as seven games to as many as 10 games in October.
And remember, my degree is in communication, not statistics.
Entering October, the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion, Tampa Bay Lightning were a safe bet to lead the Atlantic Division standings over the course of a return to the usual 82-game schedule.
The Boston Bruins, who made quite a few moves in the offseason, would do their usual thing under head coach, Bruce Cassidy, and display a strong effort, though how realistic is this expectation, you ask?
Probably not as spot on as you’d think.
Last season’s temporarily realigned divisions– featuring intra-divisional play only– helped teams like the Bruins beat teams like the Philadelphia Flyers almost every time they squared off.
This season, Boston will have to face a stronger than ever before– if not as good as they were in 1995-96– Florida Panthers roster, for example, which is more likely to be reflected in a later forecast after a couple of months are in the record books.
So that’s actually a perfect explanation for why the Toronto Maple Leafs and Panthers don’t look quite as dominant as they were last season in the forecast entering October.
The reduced schedule alone yielded similar point totals to regular-length seasons in the past, which downplays this year’s projected outcome, logically, right?
Keep that in mind for the Colorado Avalanche later, though there may be more to it than just the fact that the 2016-17 season is still accounted for in both the 10-year and five-year models, which drags down the average.
Anyway, the Montréal Canadiens aren’t a playoff team and the spread between the Ottawa Senators, Detroit Red Wings and Buffalo Sabres reveals each of those three teams is likely to be more competitive than in season’s past, but like Montréal likely on the outside looking in.
Entering November, the Bruins and Senators have played the fewest games in the division (seven games each), resulting in not that much change, while Florida gained seven points in the current forecast– moving themselves into a divisional playoff berth in the process.
Should the Panthers’ success be of concern to Leafs fans if Toronto isn’t in the top-3 in the Atlantic Division?
The Lightning haven’t had as much spark as they usually do, which can be attributed to the price of winning back-to-back Cups in a span of, what, like, 10 months?
They’re tired, but not too tired, because Jon Cooper will ensure his team bounces back when the real season starts as the trade deadline approaches and the push for the playoffs begins.
Though the Sabres are quick out of the gate, reality should set in as the calendar flips to December and Buffalo will slip out of playoff contention and into being surprisingly somewhere in the middle.
That isn’t to say that Ottawa and Detroit have been that much worse than the Sabres to start the 2021-22 season, but, yeah, things are better than last season for Buffalo, at least.
If you’re going to put stock into anything, invest in the Panthers rising to 1st or 2nd place in the Atlantic by season’s end.
Taking a look at the Metropolitan Division entering the 2021-22 season, it seems like it’s more of the same for the last four or five seasons now.
Somehow the Washington Capitals or Pittsburgh Penguins win the division, while the New York Islanders and Carolina Hurricanes upset either team in the First Round. I don’t make the rules.
While there’s a lot of optimism for the Islanders to make a significant jump in the standings given their recent runs to the Eastern Conference Final, it wouldn’t surprise me if they’re like the Lightning and take a little dip in just about everything.
It’s not a reset, but a refresh with high expectations for a big 2022-23 season to finally get over the hump and reach their first Stanley Cup Final appearance since 1984.
Maybe by then Tampa will have succumbed to the salary cap era, so they won’t be in New York’s way in the postseason.
As for the other New York team, well, the Rangers are sure to frustrate more than just their own fans as they’ll agitate their opponents, sure, but won’t play much of a spoiler in their quest for whatever it is James Dolan has told General Manager, Chris Drury, to do this offseason.
At the very least, the fact that the Metropolitan Division is a close spread reveals what we already know– that it’s truly anyone’s guess as to who will make the playoffs this year.
The last decade has conditioned us to expect Pittsburgh or Washington to be the top team, but the Philadelphia Flyers or New Jersey Devils could sneak in and disrupt things enough for the Hurricanes to run away with the Metropolitan title in the regular season.
Though the Columbus Blue Jackets are forecasted to have the same number of points as the Flyers in both October and November, it’s worth noting that Philadelphia is forecasted to amass 29 regulation wins to Columbus’ 23 regulation wins in the latest projection, so yeah, they’re a team.
The Blue Jackets could be within striking distance of a playoff spot or they could simply be better than the Rangers and Devils and that’s about it in their attempt to do something.
Is it a rebuild or are they just holding out for the right offseason moves? Time will tell, but the time may be ticking on prolonged irrelevance.
Anyway, Washington and Pittsburgh have cooled off as Carolina got out to the best start among all 32 teams, which, given the eight points between 1st and 3rd in the November forecast, could indicate that the Hurricanes will usurp the Capitals and Penguins for division control.
Meanwhile, the longer the Islanders go without setting a tone, the better chance the Flyers have at making the postseason.
In the Central Division, the St. Louis Blues are expected to return to form entering October from a pure forecast standpoint.
Is it realistic? Probably not, though St. Louis should be better than their 2021 First Round exit in four games at the hands of the Avalanche.
That said, Colorado may surprise you being so low in this forecast.
Again, remember that it’s an average of models based on the last decade, five seasons and three seasons, so the Avs rise to division dominance in recent years is better reflected on the contingency that they continue to play well.
Right now, they aren’t playing that well, but again the graphic above reads “entering October” not “entering November”, so perhaps I should’ve saved that tidbit for a minute.
Meanwhile, the Nashville Predators, Winnipeg Jets and Minnesota Wild have all been consistent enough in recent years to earn better praise entering the 2021-22 calendar, but at least one of those teams is sure to reveal themselves as a pretender by about the quarter-mark of the season.
As for the Dallas Stars, Chicago and the Arizona Coyotes, well, if Dallas can stay healthy, they should improve. Chicago hasn’t done themselves any favors in terms of roster makeup and the Coyotes are intentionally steering the ship aground for a top lottery draft pick in 2022.
Not much has changed after one month of NHL action in the Central Division forecast, though it should be noted just how quickly Arizona’s fallen off (even though they were already expected to be a basement team given the immense roster turnover over the summer).
The Wild and Jets flipped positions courtesy of Minnesota gaining a point between October and November’s forecast, as well as the regulation win tiebreaker (entering November, the Wild are forecasted to have 36 regulation wins, while the Jets are forecasted to finish with 31).
The Blues have had a hot start and, as a result, remain atop the Central forecast while nearly every expert analyst’s Stanley Cup favorite not named the Lightning (Colorado) remains in 5th.
Entering the 2021-22 season, the Vegas Golden Knights made a big trade, but looked to be on the verge of contending for the Presidents’ Trophy in back-to-back seasons.
Though they lost the Presidents’ race to the Avalanche last season on a tiebreaker, the Golden Knights could benefit from an overall weaker division they’re in. And yet… (keep reading)
The Calgary Flames are surprisingly hot in the Pacific forecast entering October, but considering the three California teams, the uncertainty of Seattle and the volatile wishy-washiness of the Vancouver Canucks, it kind of makes sense.
What doesn’t make sense is the Edmonton Oilers– with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl on their roster– seated in 5th place in the Pacific Division.
Then again, to repeat myself, this forecast is an average based on the last 10, five and three seasons, so the Oilers have really only been a consistent playoff contender for the last five seasons or so, which means that they won’t rise in the forecasted standings quite as fast as you’d hope.
It pays to be consistently good over a longer period of time in this model.
Finally, after their first nine games in NHL history, the Kraken have entered the chat in the 2021-22 forecast entering November, but they’re forecasted for a league-worst 64 points.
Seattle isn’t bad, necessarily, they’re just figuring out the chemistry on the ice, in the room and giving Philipp Grubauer plenty of time to learn the system and get acquainted with being the No. 1 goaltender on a new team– both in the brand new expansion team sense and since leaving the Avalanche for the Kraken in free agency.
The Flames are continuing to turn heads by being within striking range of taking the forecasted division lead from Vegas– especially as the Golden Knights roll slowly out of the gate.
Meanwhile, Edmonton’s on course for significant gains in the next forecast entering December, while everything else looks to be about the same because, after all, it is the Pacific Division.
It’s not great!
If you’ve read every word of this, congrats. Give yourself a sticker or something.
Stay tuned for the next forecast in about a month. It should be a little quicker to update the stats, write a few words and hit “publish” than it took this time around.
Additions: F Warren Foegele (acquired from CAR), F Zach Hyman, F Brendan Perlini, F Derek Ryan, F Colton Sceviour (signed to a PTO), F Tim Soderlund (acquired from CHI), D Cody Ceci, D Duncan Keith (acquired from CHI)
Subtractions: F Adam Cracknell (signed with Bakersfield Condors, AHL), F Tyler Ennis (signed to a PTO with OTT), F Joseph Gambardella (signed with Utica Comets, AHL), F Gaëtan Haas (NL), F Dominik Kahun (NL), F Jujhar Khaira (signed with CHI), F James Neal (buyout), F Joakim Nygård (SHL), F Alan Quine (signed with Henderson Silver Knights, AHL), F Patrick Russell (SHL), F Anton Slepyshev (KHL), D Ethan Bear (traded to CAR), D Caleb Jones (traded to CHI), D Dmitry Kulikov (signed with MIN), D Adam Larsson (expansion, SEA), D Theodor Lennström (KHL), G Dylan Wells (traded to CAR)
Still Unsigned: F Alex Chiasson
Re-signed: F Tyler Benson, F Cooper Marody, F Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, F Devin Shore, F Kailer Yamamoto, D Tyson Barrie, D Slater Koekkoek, G Stuart Skinner, G Mike Smith
Offseason Analysis: The second-best team in the Scotia NHL North Division would’ve been the fourth-best team in the other three divisions last season.
No matter what, the Oilers would’ve been a playoff team in 2020-21, but it’s the embarrassment that came with being swept in the 2021 First Round by the Winnipeg Jets and subsequent offseason moves that have left many scratching their heads.
Instead of overreacting and making big, sweeping, changes, Edmonton went for a big piece and a few smaller moves that still ate up their valuable cap space in the midst of a flat salary cap due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
So really it’s just more of the same from the Oilers.
Let’s start with the good news…
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Kailer Yamamoto and Tyson Barrie are back and solidify some semblance of depth for Edmonton with Nugent-Hopkins on an affordable eight-year extension worth $5.125 million per season– the Oilers will have a surefire center on the second or third line for years to come.
The 28-year-old was Edmonton’s 1st overall pick in the 2011 NHL Draft and had 35 points (16 goals, 19 assists) in 52 games last season after reaching the 60-point plateau in back-to-back seasons from 2018-19 through 2019-20.
Had there been an 82-game schedule in 2020-21, Nugent-Hopkins likely would’ve at least eclipsed the 50-point mark.
At 5-foot-8, 135-pounds, Yamamoto has a lot in common with guys like Martin St. Louis in his stature and– like St. Louis– is better off developing on his own as he had 8-13–21 totals in 52 games in his first full season run with the Oilers last season.
Though he made his league debut in 2017-18, Yamamoto has only been utilized by Edmonton sparingly in parts of three seasons leading up to his full-time status in 2020-21.
His game should be fine in due time, though offering him a supporting cast (a theme for the Oilers in general) would be fine.
After he had 59 points in 78 games with the Colorado Avalanche in 2018-19, Barrie was shipped as part of a package to the Toronto Maple Leafs in a trade that, well, didn’t exactly live up to the high expectations in Toronto.
Barrie’s production from the point plummeted to 39 points (five goals, 34 assists) in 70 games with the Maple Leafs in 2019-20.
He joined the Oilers on a one-year deal last October and bounced back with an admirable 48 points (eight goals, 40 assists) in 56 games.
He had 25 points on the power play in his last season in Colorado, then just 12 points as a quarterback on Toronto’s power play unit before rebounding with 23 points from the blue line while on the skater advantage last season for Edmonton.
For his efforts, Barrie was rewarded with a sweet three-year deal worth $4.500 million per season and at 29-years-old that’s about right for a defender on the cusp of beginning the eventual decline from a defensive prime.
Zach Hyman joins the Oilers on a seven-year contract worth $5.500 million per season, which isn’t completely terrible for a 29-year-old forward in his prime that had 15-18–33 totals in 43 games with the Maple Leafs last season and has reached the 40-point plateau twice before.
As a top-six forward, Hyman is a welcome addition to Edmonton’s Art Ross Trophy-winning powerhouse offense (Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl).
An additional positive from this offseason?
Edmonton’s rid themselves of James Neal via a buyout. Granted, he’ll still be on the books through the 2024-25 season at about a $1.917 million cap penalty, but after parts of two seasons with the Oilers since being acquired for Milan Lucic, at least that branch of franchise history has come to a close.
Neal had five goals and five assists (10 points) in 29 games last season after bouncing back from 19 points (seven goals, 12 assists) in 63 games with the Calgary Flames in 2018-19 to 31 points (19 goals, 12 assists) in 55 games for Edmonton in 2019-20.
He’s a shell of his former self, but on a low-risk contract, he could fit in fine just about anywhere else that needs a touch of veteran experience.
Now for the bad stuff that… …isn’t necessarily that bad, it’s just disappointing from the Oilers (who seemingly have chosen to make the Buffalo Sabres look good for at least being salary cap smart this offseason and that’s about it).
At 39-years-old, Mike Smith could’ve called it a career, but when Jimmy Howard turned down Oilers General Manager, Ken Holland, Smith was rewarded with two-year (not just one-year!) extension worth $2.200 million per season.
The cap hit is fine, considering he recored a goals-against average under 2.50 for the first time since the 2011-12 season with the Phoenix Coyotes.
Back then, in 67 games with Phoenix, Smith had a 38-18-10 record, a 2.21 goals-against average, a .930 save percentage and eight shutouts en route to backstopping the Coyotes to the 2012 Western Conference Final, where the Los Angeles Kings eliminated Phoenix in five games.
Last season with the Oilers, Smith went 21-6-2 in 32 games, had three shutouts and amassed a 2.31 goals-against average as well as a .923 save percentage.
In 2019-20, he had a 19-12-6 record in 39 games, one shutout, a .902 save percentage and a whopping 2.95 goals-against average.
Whether it’s the introduction of Barrie to Edmonton’s defense that helped singlehandedly reduce the workload Smith faced or not– Smith had a fantastic season in 2020-21.
However, time stops for nobody and with an average age of 35.3 between Smith, Mikko Koskinen and Alex Stalock as reliable options in the crease under contract at the NHL level, well, it’s easy to feel uneasy about Edmonton’s chances at stopping the puck from night-to-night as their bodies collectively wear down through an 82-game schedule.
Then again, they are athletes and you and I are not.
Yet, it’s worth noting since unlike Smith, Koskinen went from an 18-13-3 record in 38 games with a 2.75 goals-against average, a .917 save percentage and one shutout in 2019-20 with the Oilers to a dismal 13-13-0 record in 26 games with a 3.17 goals-against average and an .899 save percentage in 2020-21.
For all the good that Barrie and Co. on Edmonton’s blue line have done, there’s two new additions that, uh, might undo some of the forward progress.
Connor McDavid (ever heard of him?) vouched for Holland to acquire Duncan Keith from Chicago and then Holland went along and signed Cody Ceci in free agency.
Though Keith recorded 6-34–40 totals in 82 games in 2018-19 with Chicago, he’s been in decline, notching 27 points (three goals, 24 assists) in 61 games in 2019-20 and just 15 points (four goals, 11 assists) in 54 games last season.
The 38-year-old defender would’ve accepted any trade to a team close to the pacific northwest as he expressed a desire to be closer to family, having been isolated playing hockey for a living for most of the time during the ongoing pandemic and spending roughly five months combined with his son prior to being traded to Edmonton.
In 1,192 career NHL games, he’s won three Stanley Cup rings, was named playoff MVP in 2015, and has 105-520–625 totals in the regular season.
With two years left on his contract, Keith’s $5.538 million cap hit is a bit steep for what could be a defensive liability as the aging process continues and– turns out– Holland could’ve done better by waiting another day and signing Keith Yandle for much less after the Florida Panthers bought him out. Who knew?!
Though the Internet likes to make fun of Ceci, the 27-year-old defender really hasn’t been all that bad.
Sure 17 points (four goals, 13 assists) in 53 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins last season isn’t great, but he’s not expected to be a top-four defender– or at least he shouldn’t be.
Mistakes and weird things will happen. Sometimes you’re just unlucky like that.
Wait, Holland gave him four-years at $3.250 million per season? Yikes.
And to put the icing on the cake, Holland traded Ethan Bear to the Carolina Hurricanes for Warren Foegele. Not that Foegele’s bad, but for a team that could use a better defense, Bear fit in pretty well.
Has this McDavid guy ever tried watching the Oilers?
For the Nugent-Hopkins extension, sensible new deal for Barrie and Yamamoto bridge contract, Holland deserves some praise for keeping the right pieces happy and on the roster heading into 2021-22.
That said, he also made some errors in judgment acquiring Keith at the price he paid, as well as handing out Ceci a contract with a steep cap hit and term for a guy that’s probably not that good.
In other words, it was just another normal offseason for the Oilers.
Edmonton made some smart moves, but then overreacted in other areas, while still searching for the second coming of Andy Moog in net or whatever.
Apparently the National Hockey League’s Board of Governors were up to something this month as it was reported by Sportico on Tuesday that the Board unanimously approved ads on the front of NHL jerseys beginning with the 2022-23 season.
The ads will be no bigger than a 3-inch-by-3.5-inch rectangle, which is slightly larger than the ads featured on the front of National Basketball Association (NBA) jerseys.
It was only a matter of time before the NHL followed the NBA in generating additional revenue by doing what professional hockey leagues outside of North America have been doing for many years, as well as what’s been done for at least a few seasons now in the American Hockey League (AHL) and ECHL minor league levels on this side of the pond.
As always, hockey Twitter is taking the news well.
Let’s embrace the chaos for a moment and pick some sponsors for all 32 NHL teams that would make so much sense they’ll obviously be overlooked for, well, actual revenue generating streams instead.
What we want: Disney+ or TCL
What we’ll get: Honda
The Ducks play at Honda Center and, yeah, there’s really nothing besides Disney swooping in and sponsoring the team that they used to own as a means of cross promoting both the Ducks and The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers on Disney+, so we’re stuck with a Honda logo at center ice and on the front of Anaheim’s jerseys.
In any case, Honda’s red logo works pretty well with the Orange County orange featured as an accent color on Anaheim’s home and road jerseys.
NHL teams have a tendency to go back to the well with their partners– think of how many teams have either the same helmet sponsor as another team or just slapped on the same brand as their venue’s naming rights deal– but if we want to expand the playground a little bit perhaps TCL could be of interest for the Ducks.
Come to think of it, that’s probably a better option.
*Opens up Photoshop*
What we want: P.F. Chang’s or Cold Stone Creamery
What we’ll get: Fry’s or something, probably
Believe it or not the Los Angeles Chargers won’t be the only team tweeting about P.F. Chang’s for long as the restaurant chain was founded in 1993, and opened their first location in Scottsdale, Arizona, so it only makes sense to go back to their roots and toss an ad on the Coyotes’ jersey.
Also founded in Arizona– Cold Stone Creamery.
We figured that’d probably make sense on an AHL team’s jersey, though, despite the obvious cold ice, cold ice cream connection.
The Coyotes had Mountain America on their helmets at home and Dignity Health on their road helmets in 2020-21, so in reality we’ll probably get one of those two on the front of their jerseys in 2022-23.
What we want: Dunkin’ or bust
What we’ll get: TD Bank or O.R.G. Packaging, probably
What could possibly be more Boston than a Bruins jersey with a Dunkin’ logo on it?
Their AHL affiliate– the Providence Bruins– already play in the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Rhode Island and have a Dunkin’ ad patch on their jerseys. Why not call it up to the major league?
That said, with some NBA teams earning up to about $20 million in jersey ad space revenue, the B’s likely will reach for a brand with deeper pockets than doughnuts and coffee.
Delaware North likes their relationship with a certain bank from Toronto (TD Bank) and has had one of the league’s longest relationships with a Chinese company (O.R.G. Packaging) as part of the NHL’s intended growth beyond the continents of North America and Europe, so one of the two brands is more likely to appear on a Bruins jersey.
What we want: Super Chexx
What we’ll get: KeyBank
The Sabres could use some fun in their lives these days and you know what really helps put the mind at ease? Bubble hockey.
That’s right, Innovative Concepts in Entertainment, Inc. (ICE)– the manufacturers of the popular bar and arcade classic, Super Chexx, that your rich friend down the street growing up also had in the comforts of their home– is based outside Buffalo and would be a match made in heaven right about now.
Especially as Sabres fans are looking for something to do while the game’s on TV.
So yeah, we’re definitely going to get KeyBank, Tim Horton’s or something else entirely instead.
What we want: WestJet or Duraflame
What we’ll get: Scotiabank
If you, as an American, can name any other Canadian airline other than Air Canada, then congratulations. If you can’t, then may I introduce you to WestJet?
WestJet’s headquarters are next to Calgary International Airport and it’d be nice to prove to the world that Canada is more than just a land of Tim Horton’s, Roots, Canadian Tire, Rogers, Scotiabank and Mr. Sub.
If Duraflame isn’t available, then you might as well dip into the low-cost airline industry as a means of attracting tourists to Banff National Park, Calgary Stampede or whatever it is that sets Calgary apart from the rest of Alberta (so… not being Edmonton).
What we want: Surge
What we’ll get: PNC, Diehard, maybe Cheerwine or something else
This should be obvious, but if you haven’t paid attention to the Hurricanes for at least the last few seasons now they do a “Storm Surge” celebration after every win on home ice in the regular season (and sometimes playoffs).
Surge (the soda) is one of those drinks that makes headlines every few years for being pulled straight out of the vault and placed back on grocery store shelves– speaking of which, does anyone know if it’s currently available?
If not, it’ll definitely be back by the 2022-23 season.
Yes, it’s hard to envision where an ad will be placed on the road jersey as the prime real estate is used up by the diagonal “CANES” letters and– for a few players– the captain’s “C” or alternate captain’s “A”.
What we want: Portillo’s
What we’ll get: United
Look, between Walgreens, Sears and Portillo’s there’s a few legendary brands that Chicago could partner with as their first jersey ad in franchise history (not including practice jerseys).
Obviously only one of the three mentioned above is the right choice and its the one that might lead you to Walgreens later if you have a weak stomach. Besides, Sears is fading from our collective memory whether it is out of business already or not.
Clark Griswold would be proud of Portillo’s proudly being displayed on a, well, if a WHL team can rebrand, so can you, Chicago.
What we want: Chipotle or Coors
What we’ll get: Ball
Look, whether or not Nathan MacKinnon eats Chipotle is a debate for another day, but one thing’s for sure– both Chipotle and MacKinnon started their careers in Colorado.
Though Coors or Coors Light would make more sense, we have to consider the fact that kids might be wearing these jerseys to the game and we haven’t heard whether or not the jerseys that are sold in the proshops in 2022-23 and beyond will include the front jersey ad or not.
If they do, then we probably can’t market beer to children.
I’m pretty sure there’s a law about that and it’s also the reason why all my 1:64 scale diecast Rusty Wallace and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. cars from when I was a kid said “Team Rusty” and “Dale Jr.” on them, respectively, instead of Miller Lite and Budweiser.
Columbus Blue Jackets
What we want: Wendy’s
What we’ll get: Nationwide
Coinciding with the uptick in Columbus born and raised players on the Blue Jackets roster, it would be a great idea to add Wendy’s– which was founded in Columbus in 1969– to the team in such a way that perhaps Jack Roslovic and Sean Kuraly star in local commercials to the Blue Jackets viewing area during the 2022-23 season.
I know that’s assuming Roslovic signs an extension, but the pending-restricted free agent at the end of the 2021-22 season helped facilitate the Pierre-Luc Dubois for Patrik Laine trade with the Winnipeg Jets by forcing Winnipeg into trading him to his hometown team.
Unlike several recent stars that left the city via free agency, Roslovic will stick around for the long term.
Especially if there’s some goods in kind involved with a Wendy’s sponsorship. I mean, I would at least.
What we want: Whataburger
What we’ll get: AT&T
Though Whataburger would be a welcome party in the burger wars when Columbus and Dallas would “meat” up, there’s no beef to be found in this hypothetical because AT&T has already made that decision for us.
Sometimes you just can’t think too hyperlocal and AT&T fetches a more national audience than a regional chain that primarily serves Texas.
Besides, if you go to Dallas for a Stars game, you can always just get Whataburger then. It’s not like they’re going to send you a meal with a jersey if ads are on the jerseys sold to fans in 2022-23.
Detroit Red Wings
What we want: Little Caesars
What we’ll get: Little Caesars
The last few teams have all involved food and we’re going to be stuck on this theme for at least one more team after this.
Both the Red Wings and Little Caesars are owned by the Ilitch family and if you think adding one more connection between Detroit and pizza is a bad thing then you clearly don’t understand the marketing behind this.
Kids love pizza. Adults love pizza. There’s a lot of good memories involving pizza.
Plus, with General Manager, Steve Yzerman, in charge, the Red Wings are on the rise, which will only further tap into the nostalgia from when Detroit was doing what the Tampa Bay Lightning are currently doing to the rest of the league.
What we want: Boston Pizza
What we’ll get: Rogers
Edmonton thought they could replicate the success Ken Holland had in Detroit by hiring Holland as their General Manager and when they see that we’ve got a pizza establishment heading for the front of the Red Wings’ jersey, then the Oilers will think it’s also a good idea to snag a slice.
That’s where Boston Pizza comes in.
Whether or not they’ll get Connor McDavid to do an ad read or be left with whatever scraps surround him on the Oilers roster remains to be seen.
In all likelihood, Rogers Communications will probably just get to slap their logo on another element of Edmonton’s brand.
What we want: Royal Caribbean International
What we’ll get: Baptist Health or something
The Blockbuster guy (the late Wayne Huizenga) founded the team and almost named them the “Florida Block Busters”, so it’d be neat to incorporate an homage to the days of Blockbuster (rest in peace) with the almost Blockbuster-like colors of Royal Caribbean International on the jersey.
Plus, who among us hasn’t uttered the words “I need a vacation from my vacation” before?
If you’re an out of town fan visiting the Panthers in Florida or watching the Panthers come to your town— there’s a cruise line for you even if you wouldn’t go remotely near a cruise before the ongoing pandemic began.
Los Angeles Kings
What we want: Dollar Shave Club
What we’ll get: Anschutz Entertainment Group
Never doubt for a second that a team owner wouldn’t give up the chance to toot their own horn, which is why it’s quite possible that one of the world’s biggest entertainment entities would slap their own logo on the front of a Kings jersey.
If you’re not able to finagle a way to write things off as a deduction, then Dollar Shave Club presents a unique opportunity despite the fact that shaving isn’t something that’s in Drew Doughty’s vernacular (or any hockey player, for that matter, when the Stanley Cup Playoffs roll around).
Manscaped could also make a run here and in any case, fine.
What we want: Target or General Mills
What we’ll get: Xcel Energy
When you think of Minnesota what’s the first thing you think about?
That’s right, the very place where you could be standing right now reading this while you’re waiting for a cash register to open up or aimlessly perusing the aisles for those impulse purchases you somehow always make at Target.
It fits the Wild color scheme well and if we’re not going to get General Mills involved then at least getting more than the standard 5% discount for having a Target RedCard via goods in kind might be enough to convince Kirill Kaprizov to stay in Minnesota long-term.
What we want: CCM and/or Molson
What we’ll get: Bell
CCM makes more than just jerseys, but it’s not like adidas would be just fine with a CCM logo appearing on the front of an adidas ADIZERO jersey.
So, we’re left with two obvious choices– Molson or Bell.
If there’s nothing against a Canadian team bearing an alcoholic beverage on the front of their jersey with the potential for that brand to be marketed towards kids, then perhaps Molson– whose family ties own the Habs– might make an appearance near the crest.
That or we’ll just get more airtime for Bell. Either way, Montréal would be attractive enough as a franchise to bring in more than one jersey ad sponsor if the league doesn’t have any specific rules outside of the size of the ad.
What we want: Curb Records or CMT
What we’ll get: Fifth Third Bank
The music city could attract a music label if they wanted to, but Fifth Third Bank loves investing in Nashville for some reason– like, a lot, despite being headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio and primarily serving Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, West Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida more than all of Tennessee.
In any case, good for the Predators. They’ll have some deep pockets to reach into while other teams surely will have to squabble for seven figures related to the going rate for the prime ad space.
Still feels like we’d be missing out on a sweet Curb Records patch close enough to the guitar pick on the right shoulder though.
New Jersey Devils
What we want: Honestly, just Prudential is fine
What we’ll get: Prudential
The Devils are overlooked and let’s admit it, you couldn’t think of something distinctly New Jersey either– besides not being allowed to fill your own gas tank.
Bruce Springsteen is not sponsoring the Devils alone.
Whether it’s settling on an old reliable or simply making use of what’s trustworthy and already available, Prudential and New Jersey just seem like a good fit.
New York Islanders
What we want: Gorton’s
What we’ll get: Not Gorton’s
“We want fishsticks!”
O.K., you got them. Take that, Rangers fans. The Islanders are cool now because they’re steering into the skid.
They just won’t go as far as bringing back the fisherman jersey from the dead, but alas, they’ll show a spark of creativity and even crack a smile on Lou Lamoriello’s face with the real Gorton’s fisherman making an appearance on the jersey.
Obviously this will never happen.
New York Rangers
What we want: Liberty Mutual if they’re bringing back the “Lady Liberty” jerseys as an alternate
What we’ll get: Chase for sure, maybe New York Life too
Liberty Mutual (a Boston company) on the “Lady Liberty” jersey would be a sight to see, but New York will never let it happen.
Instead, Chase, which already has quite a great partnership with the team, Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, etc. will likely just step up and foot the bill for one– if not all– of the jerseys in full.
That’s fine. The Rangers will suffer the same consequences of having a diagonal wordmark on their jersey like Carolina’s road jersey, but at least New York’s pretty much always been this way so they should have some ideas of how to work around that.
What we want: Canada Post
What we’ll get: Bell, Scotiabank or Canadian Tire
Canada’s capital city gets the honor of having Canada Post on their jerseys because it breaks up the trend of having the same three or four companies sponsoring all seven Canadian teams (like how their helmets were for 2020-21).
In reality, we’ll probably get more of the same from the Sens and either Bell, Canadian Tire or Scotiabank will make an appearance on Ottawa’s jersey.
At the very least, Canada’s postal service sponsoring a team is more economically viable than the United States Postal Service sponsoring a team.
What we want: Wawa or Audacy
What we’ll get: Comcast or GlaxoSmithKline
Remember how I said you don’t want to go too local for a jersey ad? Well, Wawa on a Flyers jersey is an exception.
That said, it probably wouldn’t have the staying power to work on a road jersey too, so Philadelphia could tap into the artist formerly known as Entercom, since rebanded as Audacy, for more.
Audacy maintained their Philadelphia headquarters and covers a broad range of Internet radio, digital content, regular radio and podcasting platforms, plus their logo is orange which fits the Flyers brand.
It’s either that or Comcast will slap their own logo on the jersey or something.
What we want: Duolingo
What we’ll get: PPG Industries
Duolingo is headquartered in Pittsburgh and as a website and mobile app, every sports league with ads on jerseys needs at least one that makes you scratch your head at first before realizing the connection between the company and the city.
The dating app, Bumble, once was featured on the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers jerseys prior to the Clippers replacing Bumble with their more jersey ad with the online browser extension coupon company, Honey.
Dating and living expenses in Los Angeles are probably harder than learning a few new languages through Duolingo, so combining Duolingo with the Penguins makes perfect sense since hockey players can come from all over and speak many languages.
Besides, it might give your team an advantage if they can communicate with one another in a setting that is more comfortable for them.
St. Louis Blues
What we want: Busch
What we’ll get: Enterprise
I know we’ve been over the whole “can they market beer to kids with these jerseys” thing, but St. Louis is the city of Anheuser-Busch, so it’s only fitting that the Blues get a jersey ad that 1) is Anheuser-Busch related and 2) works with their color palette.
If Major League Baseball’s St. Louis Cardinals play in Busch Stadium and get Budweiser by default with red as a primary color for the ball club, then the Blues naturally get Busch blue and Busch beer. I don’t make the rules.
Plus Midwesterners really like the stuff.
San Jose Sharks
What we want: Adobe
What we’ll get: SAP or Zoom
Look, we weren’t going to get away with making these in Photoshop and not having to give Adobe something— and with headquarters in San Jose it only made sense.
The Sharks have a deep relationship with SAP, though, so it’s more likely than not that the team will just go further with the brand that also is featured on their helmets at home and holds the current naming rights for SAP Center.
Plus with the uptick in the use of Zoom, San Jose could double-dip and match SAP on the home jersey with SAP stickers on their helmets with Zoom covering the road set (jersey ad and helmet ads).
What we want: Boeing
What we’ll get: Alaska Airlines
The Kraken already have a deal with Alaska Airlines as the official airline of the franchise, but what’s bigger than an airline itself?
That’s right, Boeing, the company that makes a lot of planes and other aerospace stuff, was founded in Seattle and still has a major presence in Washington as the largest private employer in the state.
Want to see your newest expansion team take flight? Just add some Boeing engineering to the jerseys.
You might have thought Microsoft would make sense for a Seattle-based team, but the league’s agreement with Apple probably puts a quick end to that.
Tampa Bay Lightning
What we want: Accusoft
What we’ll get: DEX Imaging
Every sport with ads on jerseys has that one company that nobody’s really sure what they do, but they appreciate that they’re spending their money on their favorite team.
That just might be Accusoft’s relationship with the Lightning come time for ads on jerseys in 2022-23.
The private computer software company is headquartered in Tampa and was founded back in 1991, as Pegasus Imaging– one year prior to the Lightning’s debut season as an NHL team in 1992-93.
Toronto Maple Leafs
What we want: Swiss Chalet, Sun Life Financial
What we’ll get: Scotiabank, Sun Life Financial
Scotiabank already has a stronghold on Toronto both financially and in the sense that the Maple Leafs play inside Scotiabank Arena and proudly display Scotiabank’s logo on their helmets, so it seems inevitable that Scotiabank would also make an appearance on the Leafs jersey.
But Toronto is strong enough to maximize the value of a 3-by-3.5-inch ad and capitalize on the Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) brand.
MLSE already has an agreement with Sun Life Financial on their NBA team’s jerseys and the Toronto Raptors were able to go on to win their first championship in 2019.
Perhaps the key to ending the Maple Leafs’ Stanley Cup drought lies within attracting Sun Life Financial to an NHL jersey ad.
What we want: Hootsuite
What we’ll get: Rogers
Remember when you’d see Hootsuite on just about every tweet with a photo? Am I the only one imagining that?
In any case, Hootsuite was founded and is based in Vancouver and still plays a major role in social media management for brands.
Whereas Rogers is accessible to most every day Canadians, Hootsuite would be more of a “corporate” target audience and you need sponsors at all levels to attract a wide base of potential clients, fans, etc.
That said, the Canucks have had a long relationship with Rogers in that they play in Rogers Arena, so it’s probably going to be Rogers.
Vegas Golden Knights
What we want: Zappos.com
What we’ll get: MGM Resorts International or Allegiant Air
Want to have fun with a local Nevada brand? Zappos is the way to go!
Want to be realistic and attract out of town fans to a destination like Las Vegas? MGM Resorts International is your sponsor and with Allegiant Air as an ultra-low cost airline that’ll gladly bring you to Vegas for a Golden Knights game…
Yeah, it’s inevitable that between MGM and Vegas’ current road helmet sponsor (Allegiant) that there’d quickly be no room for a company like Zappos.
Credit One Bank is on the home helmets for the Golden Knights, so don’t be surprised if they’re a wild card for a jersey ad too.
What we want: Marriott International
What we’ll get: Capital One, Custom Ink
Sportswriters rejoice! Your Marriott points may soon reward you with a Capitals jersey or something like that.
Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Marriott International would make sense from a local and international brand recognition stance.
But you know what we’re probably going to get instead? Sheer confusion as Capital One places an ad on front of a jersey that already says “Washington Capitals”. The Capital One Washington Capitals– live at Capital One Arena!
Either that or Caps owner, Ted Leonsis, might like to make a connection between making custom jerseys for local adult league co-ed softball teams or something and, well, Custom Ink’s logo appearing on Capitals jerseys.
What we want: A&W or SkipTheDishes
What we’ll get: Canada Life or Bell
A&W was founded in Winnipeg, while SkipTheDishes is headquartered in Winnipeg.
Since it’s 2021, and not 1956, we’re more than likely to see SkipTheDishes on a Jets jersey, but if their helmet ads from 2020-21 are any indication for 2022-23 and beyond, then Bell is probably going to land a spot near Winnipeg’s crest.
Canada Life is taking over as the new naming rights holder for Canada Life Centre where the Jets play, so there’s always a chance they’ll end up with their logo on the front of the jersey too.
After a night of triple overtime, the Winnipeg Jets secured their tickets to the next round defeating the Edmonton Oilers 4-3. Kyle Connor sent the Oilers packing with his second goal of the postseason. The Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets saw overtime 3 out of 4 times this series. Two of those games being played back to back.
It was a late night regardless of the coast you were on. We were tired just watching from the comfort of our own homes. I can’t imagine actually playing in a 4 hour and nineteen minute hockey game.
Darnell Nurse broke Chris Pronger’s TOI record with a whopping 62:07. If you remember last postseason, Seth Jones of the Columbus Blue Jackets played 65:06 in that 5OT game against Tampa Bay. Nurse is now 9th all-time in TOI. Seth Jones remains number one.
Josh Morrisey led the Jets in TOI behind Connor Hellbuyck with 41:52 minutes.
The Oilers looked to avoid elimination It started with the Oilers announcing Mike Smith would start. It appeared that would wrap up the series and Winnipeg would skate away with their brooms out. Edmonton was not going down without a fight. It appeared we saw a different Oilers team through regulation. While there were plenty of missed calls on Connor McDavid, the team seemed to be playing a more physical game. This might come to a surprise to you, but your superstar cannot be the only one pulling the weight. Secondary scoring appeared to be there but it wasn’t enough to stay alive.
The first 20 was welcomed by three goals. Unlike the other North Division game, the special teams showed up to play. Winnipeg’s Mark Scheifele, who missed last year’s postseason due to an unfortunate in-game injury in game 1 against Calgary, got the Jets on the board with a power play goal. Oilers Captain Connor McDavid looked nothing shy of dejected after last night’s loss. A new day and a new game means another chance to stay in it. McDavid found his playoff stride, earning Edmonton’s first goal of the night. The game was not knotted at one for long. Mason Appleton earned his first career playoff goal, giving the Jets the lead as they wrapped up the first period.
It was a two goal period for the Oilers as they earned their first lead of the night. 2011 first overall pick Ryan Nugent Hopkins tied it back up, 3 minutes into the second frame. RNH had 16 goals in 52 games. The Jets’ penalty kill could not stop Alex Chiasson from cleaning up a loose puck in front of the net. The Oilers had a one goal lead and a little bit of confidence before they were down to the final buzzer.
Scheifele tied it up at 3 with an absolute snipe from where his first goal was scored from. The cameras panned to McDavid on the bench and his face said it all. You’ve got to feel bad for him. He’s the greatest hockey player of all time trapped on a team that can’t win. The biggest travesty in hockey history would be not seeing him lift the cup in his playing career. Amidst the frustration of a tied game in the third period, Blake Wheeler got a puck to the groin. He was doubled over in pain as he raced right to the room. He would return to the bench for overtime.
Triple overtime. That’s what it took to settle the score.
You have to give both goaltenders credit. They’d both stood on their head through the series and were now trapped in another overtime game. Mike Smith is no spring chicken at the age of 39. Edmonton’s defense was playing peak a boo at times but he still held down the fort for as long as he could. Connor Hellebuyck was nothing shy of his Veznia Trophy winning self. He had a .950SV% through the series.
The Jets can sit back and recover while they wait to see who their opponent will be. Will it be the Toronto Maple Leafs who haven’t seen the second round since 2004 or the slow and uncertain about everything Montreal Canadiens?
The Winnipeg Jets are one step close to moving on as they beat the Edmonton Oilers 5-4 in overtime. Nikolaj Ehlers’ made his return to the Jets’ lineup in the best way possible. The game-winner belonged to him. The Oilers’ goaltending crumbled in true Oilers fashion, letting go of a 4-1 lead.
McDavid had a 3 point game with just assists. The Captain was goalless once again. Leon Draisaitl was responsible for the first 2 Oilers’ goals as he earned his first goal of the postseason six and a half minutes into it. Less than three minutes later, he earned the second of his night. The Jets were woken up in the second period with Ehlers’ first goal of the night. Ehlers’ made his return to the Winnipeg lineup and let it be known. This would not be enough for the Jets to take off as Zack Kassian scored about a minute later. It wasn’t until the third period where the Jets fired up their engines. After Jujuhar Kharia scored Edmonton’s fourth and final of the night, the Jets were ready for take off. Mathieu Perrault, Blake Wheeler, and Josh Morrisey responded and stopped Edmonton right in their tracks.
Nothing will ever go down smoothly for Connor McDavid. I can only imagine the phone calls made after the game went to overtime and then after Ehlers scored his second goal of the night, giving the Jets a 3-0 series lead. The Jets have a chance to advance tomorrow night. Will Mike Smith start between the pipes or will Mikko Koskinen make an appearance in an attempt to keep the Oilers a float?
The Oilers outshot the Jets 48-37 but failed to succeed in faceoffs, getting demolished 63- 37% at the dot. Special teams rose to the occasion with 2 goals on the Jets’ powerplay and 1 goal for the Oilers.
There is a lot at stake for the Oilers and I don’t think it’s just the series. Tomorrow night the team makes a last ditch effort to save themselves from this healthy Jets team.
Paul Stastny gave the Winnipeg Jets a 2-0 series lead with an overtime goal against the Edmonton Oilers. Connor McDavid was silenced again as the Oilers could not get anything by Connor Hellebuyck who earned his third career postseason shutout. Pierre-Luc Dubious returned to the lineup in game 2. The forward played a total of 13:05 minutes in his first postseason game with the Jets. The teams were hanging together through sixty. Mike Smith was in rare form for the Oilers making 35 saves. Hellebuyck stopped 38 shots faced. The Oilers won 57% of the faceoffs. Both teams were successful in killing their respective penalties.
McDavid has 0 points through two games. That’s not something you would expect from someone who had 105 points through 56 games. Is Winnipeg his Kryptonite? He had 22 points against the Jets during the regular season. The healthy Jets team is actually a threat to the North Division. Last season the team was all banged up and without their star players, losing to the Calgary Flames in the play-in series. Paul Maurice said that Nikolaj Ehlers could play on Sunday. Ehlers missed the end of the season with a lower-body injury.
The Winnipeg Jets and Edmonton Oilers kicked off the Scotia NHL North Division’s postseason Wednesday night. No overtime was needed here as the Jets crushed the Oilers, 4-1 after sixty.
The Jets were without Pierre-Luc Dubois ( 8 goals, 12 assists ) and Nikolaj Ehlers ( 21 goals, 25 assists ) for game one. PLD missed the final game of the season with an undisclosed injury. Ehlers has been sidelined since mid April due to an upper body injury.
The offense would not skip a beat without the pair, scoring 4 goals on the Oilers in sixty minutes.
Jesse Puljujarvi opened up the the battle, scoring the only Oilers goal of the evening. Puljujarvi had 15 goals and 10 assists through 55 games.
Tucker Poolman tied it in the first period and the offense was grounded until the final 20. Dominic Toninato had the go ahead goal and from there, the Jets took off. Kyle Connor and Blake Wheeler both had empty net goals, cementing the first win of the series.
2021 Art Ross Trophy Winner, Connor McDavid did not have a single point. This isn’t a cause for concern because he could turn around and have a five point game. This Oilers team is different from the ones we’ve seen in years past. McDavid isn’t carrying this team by himself. If he does have a quiet night, you can count on players like Tyson Barrie to push the puck toward the net.
Comparing the Oilers’ goaltending to Winnipeg’s seems a bit like comparing apples and oranges. While Mike Smith is not the same Mike Smith from the past, he is certainly not Vezina winner Connor Hellebuyck.
The pair face off again on Friday where Edmonton looks to even the series. Will PLD and Ehlers return to the lineup or will Paul Maurice keep the winning lineup the way it is?
Sometime in the last however many days (or perhaps years, maybe even centuries, for some, as it felt) the calendar went from reading “March 2020” to “March 2021”, then April and now May.
Between then and now, the Tampa Bay Lightning were crowned Stanley Cup champions in the 2020 Stanley Cup Final over the Dallas Stars in six games after last year’s playoffs were held inside a bubble (well, technically two bubbles in Edmonton and Toronto before coming together in the former).
Then a somewhat regular-looking 56-game 2020-21 season took place as the National Hockey League and the rest of the world started returning to a sense of normalcy from January through now– getting vaccinated and seeing the light at the end of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic tunnel.
Resiliency in life cannot be understated.
That– even after so much loss and millions of deaths around the world– the course of nature goes on.
There is still a lot of grieving to be done, a pandemic ongoing and tensions rising around the globe, yet here we are, arguing over who will win one game– the next four games, a series– the Stanley Cup.
We, as hockey fans, have regressed to the mean. Our veins are pulsing as we hit “tweet” arguing between Toronto Maple Leafs and Montréal Canadiens fans for the first time since 1979.
Our humanity goes on.
Make no qualms about it, the 2020-21 season was one of the hardest seasons on all of the players in the NHL.
Their seemingly lavish lifestyles were disrupted by isolation on road trips, isolation in COVID protocol and isolation from so many family members and friends that may not have been able to go see them play or be around at home due to local rules, regulations or the mere fact that a player is single and living on their own.
No, there are no heroes. Only people.
Even hockey players.
As the dawn of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs arises, we’ll call their clutch goals, big hits and key saves “heroic”, but after all, we’re just watching 10 skaters and two goalies on the ice at any given time play a game at the highest level that so few are ever so privileged to play.
They’re making memories among their teammates on the ice that we’ll never be able to experience.
We’ll never be able to see it from their eyes– until, at least, nano camera technology that can be worn in a contact lens becomes mainstream in sports anyway– but we’ll watch the game with our own eyes and try to memorize every little detail of a play as we try to recreate it in driveways, streets and ice rinks in our own town or others.
Let’s hockey together, friends.
Four teams in each division made the postseason.
The best team facing the fourth best team, the second best team taking on the third best team– the winners of the First Round will face each other in the Second Round staying within their own division as they’ve done through 56 regular season games.
Each division will produce one winner heading to the Stanley Cup Semifinal in light of a Conference Finals round in usual years.
The Semifinal will reseed based on how the four remaining teams finished in regular season points standings with the first best team taking on the fourth, as well as the second best team facing the third best team in a series narrowing down the field to the 2021 Stanley Cup Finalists as a result.
Neither the Prince of Wales Trophy nor the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl will be awarded this year.
No trophies, just vibes (until the Stanley Cup, that is).
(1) Pittsburgh Penguins (37-16-3, 77 points) vs (4) New York Islanders (32-17-7, 71 points)
Pittsburgh: 56 games played, .688 points percentage, 29 regulation wins.
The Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders are facing each other for the sixth time in a Stanley Cup Playoffs series with the Islanders holding the lead in all time series wins, 4-1.
New York beat Pittsburgh in seven games (4-3) in the 1975 Wales Conference Quarterfinal, in five games (3-2) in the 1982 Patrick Division Semifinal, in seven games (4-3) in the 1993 Patrick Division Final and in four games (4-0) in the 2019 First Round.
The Penguins beat the Islanders in six games (4-2) in the 2013 Eastern Conference Quaterfinal, meanwhile.
The Pens are making their 36th postseason appearance, while the Isles enter their 27th postseason in franchise history.
Pittsburgh was led by Sidney Crosby (24-38–62 totals in 55 games played) in the regular season, with Jake Guentzel (23-34–57 totals in 56 GP) and Kris Letang (7-38–45 totals in 55 GP) rounding out the top-three scorers on the Penguins’ roster in 2020-21.
Crosby and the Pens cruised to an 8-2-0 record in their last 10 games and an impressive 22-4-2 record on home ice this season, which bodes well for their return to the playoffs after missing out on First Round action last season thanks to an early exit on behalf of the Canadiens in four games (3-1) in the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifier.
Among active members of the current roster, Crosby leads the Penguins with 68-121–189 totals in 168 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, while Evgeni Malkin– suffering from a lower body injury as of late– has 63-106–169 totals in 166 career postseason games.
Letang brings up the rear to round-out the top-three playoff performers currently on the roster with 80 points (21 goals, 59 assists) in 136 playoff games.
In the regular season, Pittsburgh relied on Tristan Jarry for a 25-9-3 record as a starter in 39 games played (38 starts) and two shutouts, as well as a 2.75 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage.
Casey DeSmith (11-7-0 in 20 games, 17 starts, 2.54 goals-against average, .912 save percentage, two shutouts) served as Jarry’s backup and even Maxime Lagacé made an appearance, recording a win in his only start, as well as a shutout.
When it comes to playoff experience, only Jarry has ever touched the ice in a Stanley Cup Playoff game– earning one start in a loss, as well as a 1.02 goals-against average and a .952 save percentage.
At the other end of the rink, the Islanders were led by Mathew Barzal in scoring with 45 points (17 goals, 28 assists) in 55 games, as Josh Bailey (8-27–35 totals in 54 games) trailed the prolific 23-year-old center with the second-most points on the team in the 2020-21 regular season.
Brock Nelson (18-15–33 totals in 56 games) and Jordan Eberle (16-17–33 totals in 56 games) were tied for the third-most points in team scoring for New York.
Isles captain, Anders Lee, had his season cut short by a knee injury that will keep him out of contention through the playoffs.
Meanwhile, the Islanders went 3-4-3 in their last 10 games as they backed themselves into the postseason.
Among active players on New York’s current roster, Bailey leads his teammates in postseason scoring with 10-27–37 totals in 52 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, while Nelson (16-13–29 in 48 games) and newcomer, Travis Zajac (11-17–28 totals in 57 games) round out the top-three playoff performers entering the Islanders’ 2021 postseason run.
Zajac was acquired along with Kyle Palmieri from the New Jersey Devils ahead of the 2021 trade deadline back in April.
In the crease, Semyon Varlamov led the way for the Islanders with a Vezina Trophy worthy season, amassing a 19-11-4 record in 36 games played (35 starts) to go with seven shutouts, a 2.04 goals-against average a .929 save percentage.
Varlamov and Colorado Avalanche netminder, Philipp Grubauer, led the league in shutouts in 2020-21, while Vegas Golden Knights duo, Marc-Andre Fleury and Robin Lehner took home the William M. Jennings Trophy, having allowed the fewest goals against this season.
Meanwhile, Ilya Sorokin served as Varlamov’s backup in his first NHL season and had a 13-6-3 record in 22 games played (21 starts), as well as three shutouts, a 2.17 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage.
As Sorokin just completed his first season at the game’s highest level of competition, only Varlamov has had postseason experience and is expected to be New York’s starter in their 2021 First Round matchup with Pittsburgh.
Varlamov has a 24-20 record in 46 career Stanley Cup Playoff games (44 starts), as well as four shutouts, a 2.38 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage in that span.
The Penguins went 6-2-0, while the Islanders went 2-4-2 in their eight games against one another this season with Pittsburgh outscoring New York, 26-19, in that span.
That alone should give a good indication of how Pens head coach, Mike Sullivan, is back on his regular routine and how Isles head coach, Barry Trotz, will need to get crafty to drag Pittsburgh’s offense down a bit more to the level of New York’s “defense first” mentality.
Though it might be easier to slow down Crosby’s game than it is to ease Edmonton Oilers phenom, Connor McDavid, from his carousel around opponents, Pittsburgh has a deeper roster than New York’s stagnant core.
Jeff Carter alone has made a bigger impact on the Pens so far than Palmieri and Zajac combined for the Islanders.
That said, New York has the historical high ground over the Penguins in the playoffs– especially in light of their 2019 First Round sweep.
This time around, however, expect Pittsburgh to get the job done in six games– just long enough to get a rhythm going into an epic clash with either the Washington Capitals or Boston Bruins in the Second Round.
Regular season outcomes:
4-3 NYI at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Feb. 6th
4-3 F/SO PIT at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Feb. 11th
4-1 PIT at PPG Paints Arena on Feb. 18th
3-2 PIT at PPG Paints Arena on Feb. 20th
4-3 F/OT PIT at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Feb. 27th
2-0 NYI at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Feb. 28th
6-3 PIT at PPG Paints Arena on March 27th
2-1 PIT at PPG Paints Arena on March 29th
5/16- Game 1 NYI @ PIT 12 PM ET on NBC, SN, TVAS
5/18- Game 2 NYI @ PIT 7:30 PM ET on NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVAS
5/20- Game 3 PIT @ NYI 7 PM ET on NBCSN, SN360, TVAS
5/22- Game 4 PIT @ NYI 3 PM ET on NBC, SN, TVAS
5/24- Game 5 NYI @ PIT*
5/26- Game 6 PIT @ NYI*
5/28- Game 7 NYI @ PIT*
(2) Washington Capitals (36-15-5, 77 points) vs (3) Boston Bruins (33-16-7, 73 points)
Washington: 56 games played, .688 points percentage, 29 regulation wins.
Boston: 56 games played, .652 points percentage, 25 regulation wins.
The Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins are meeting each other in a playoff series for the fourth time with the Capitals holding the lead in all time series wins, 2-1.
Washington beat Boston in six games (4-2) in the 1998 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal and in seven games (4-3) in the 2012 Eastern Conference Final.
Prior to the last two postseason series meetings between the two clubs, the Bruins swept the Capitals (4-0) in the 1990 Wales Conference Final.
The Caps are making their 31st appearance, while the B’s are set to embark on their 74th appearance in the postseason in franchise history.
Washington was led by Nicklas Backstrom (15-38–53 totals in 55 games played) in scoring this season, while John Carlson had the second-most points and T.J. Oshie rounded out the top-three in team scoring.
Carlson had 44 points (10 goals, 34 assists) in 52 games, while Oshie notched 22-21–43 totals in 53 games for the Capitals in 2020-21.
While battling injury at times this season, Washington captain, Alex Ovechkin, and Co. went 7-2-1 in their last 10 games of the regular season, amassing a 17-8-3 record on home ice.
Ovechkin leads his current teammates in active career postseason scoring with 69-62–131 totals in 136 Stanley Cup Playoff games (all with the Capitals), while Backstrom is second and former Bruin captain, turned Washington defender, Zdeno Chara, has the third-most career Stanley Cup Playoff points on the Capitals’ current roster.
Backstrom has 107 points (36 goals, 71 assists) in 128 career playoff games, while Chara has 18-52–70 totals in 195 career postseason games between the Ottawa Senators (45 games) and Boston (150 games).
In the regular season, Washington relied on the emergence of Vitek Vanecek as their starter with Ilya Samsonov serving as the Caps backup and Craig Anderson getting a handful of appearances mixed in.
Vanecek led the team with a 21-10-4 record in 37 games (36 starts), two shutouts, a 2.70 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage, while Samsonov amassed a 13-4-1 record in 19 games (18 starts) as Vanecek’s backup.
Samsonov had a 2.69 goals-against average and a .902 save percentage to go along with a pair of shutouts, while Anderson went 2-1-0 in four games played (two starts) and yielded a 2.13 goals-against average, as well as a .915 save percentage in that span.
Though Anderson is the only goaltender on the roster with previous playoff experience– including a 23-22 record in 46 games (46 starts) to go along with four shutouts, a 2.35 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage in the process– Vanecek will likely be the starter for the Caps for the foreseeable future.
Especially with Samsonov still in COVID protocol on Friday (at the time of this writing).
Brad Marchand led the Bruins in scoring with 29-40–69 totals in 53 games this season, while Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak were tied for the second-most points with 48 points each.
Bergeron had 23-25–48 totals in 54 games, while Pastrnak had 20-28–48 totals in 48 games after getting a late start to the season due to offseason surgery.
Meanwhile, David Krejci, for those wondering, had 8-36–44 totals in 51 games and had the fourth-most points on the roster this season.
Boston’s current career postseason scoring leaders shapes up to be exactly what you expect– Krejci leads over Bergeron and Marchand.
Krejci has 40-75–115 totals in 145 career Stanley Cup Playoff games entering 2021, while Bergeron has 111 points (42 goals, 69 assists) in 149 playoff games and Marchand has 95 points (37 goals, 58 assists) in 121 postseason games.
The trio of Bruins define an era of consistent success not seen since the days of Phil Esposito in the spoked-B and are in search of their second Stanley Cup ring.
Boston utilized four goaltenders this season due to injury and COVID protocol effecting the season as Tuukka Rask led the team with a 15-5-2 record in 24 games (24 starts)– amassing a 2.28 goals-against average, a .913 save percentage and two shutouts in the process.
Rask’s “average” season was balanced out by Jaroslav Halak’s “average” season as a backup– posting a 9-6-4 record in 19 games (17 starts), as well as a 2.53 goals-against average, a .905 save percentage and two shutouts in that span.
Despite Halak’s best efforts, the emergence of Jeremy Swayman has led to Swayman moving up in the depth charts from surefire starter in Providence (AHL) to current NHL backup (with the ultimate goal of taking over for Rask someday as the Bruins transition from their franchise goaltender to their 22-year-old first year professional).
Swayman had a 7-3-0 record in 10 games (10 starts) and put up a 1.50 goals-against average, two shutouts and a .945 save percentage in his first taste of the NHL.
Dan Vladar, meanwhile, contributed where it mattered most and, despite one, 8-1, loss on the second night of back-to-back games against Washington, managed to have a 2-2-1 record in five games played (five starts) with a 3.40 goals-against average and an .886 save percentage for Boston.
With Halak relegated to the third string goaltender role, his 17-20 record in 39 postseason games (37 starts) and 2.48 goals-against average, as well as his .919 career playoff save percentage should remain untouched.
Sure, Vladar made a relief appearance in the 2020 Second Round, but Rask is Boston’s starter, after all.
And for good reason too– since Rask has a 51-42 record in 93 career Stanley Cup Playoff games (93 starts), as well as seven shutouts, a 2.20 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage in that span.
No. 40 in black and gold is two wins away from tying Gerry Cheevers for the most postseason wins in franchise history (53).
The Capitals went 4-4-0, while the Bruins went 4-2-2 in their eight games against one another this season with Boston outscoring Washington, 26-25, in that span.
As noted, don’t let too many results in their head-to-head matchups from this season fool you.
The Bruins dressed the equivalents of their AHL affiliate (Providence Bruins) about two times against the Capitals this season.
The first time was due to a ton of injuries and the second time happened to be another final night of a back-to-back matchup in Boston’s schedule and the end of the regular season with both teams having clinched a playoff berth and not eligible for mobility in the standings.
That said, the B’s and Caps are pretty evenly matched.
Vanecek has the chance to ride the waves of his breakout season, while Rask is the steady hand that’s been the model of consistency in the crease this time of year.
Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, should get the most out of Krejci, Craig Smith and Taylor Hall to round out his top-six forwards, while Peter Laviolette can rely on Chara’s past knowledge of Boston’s systems to utilize as a strength for Washington.
That said, the Bruins should try to wrap things up in six games and move on to the Second Round before worrying about what a Game 7 would look like on the road for the first time since 2011.
Regular season outcomes:
4-3 F/OT WSH at Capital One Arena on Jan. 30th
5-3 BOS at Capital One Arena on Feb. 1st
2-1 F/SO WSH at TD Garden on March 1st
5-1 BOS at TD Garden on March 5th
4-2 BOS at Capital One Arena on April 8th
8-1 WSH at TD Garden on April 11th
6-3 BOS at TD Garden on April 18th
2-1 WSH at Capital One Arena on May 11th
5/15- Game 1 BOS @ WSH 7:15 PM ET on NBC, SN, CBC, TVAS
5/17- Game 2 BOS @ WSH 7:30 PM ET on NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVAS
5/19- Game 3 WSH @ BOS 6:30 PM ET on NBCSN, SNE, SNO, SNP, SN360, TVAS
5/21- Game 4 WSH @ BOS 6:30 PM ET on NBCSN, SNE, SNO, SNP, SN360, TVAS