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NHL Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Marchand lifts Bruins over Capitals, 4-3, in OT, ties series 1-1

Taylor Hall never gave up and tied the game late in the third period, while Brad Marchand ended it 39 seconds into overtime as the Boston Bruins defeated the Washington Capitals, 4-3, in Game 2 at Capital One Arena on Monday.

It was the fastest goal to start a Stanley Cup Playoffs overtime in franchise history– beating Bobby Orr’s iconic 1970 Stanley Cup winning overtime goal by one second– as the Bruins tied the series 1-1 heading back home for Game 3 on Wednesday.

Tuukka Rask (1-1, 2.86 goals-against average, .915 save percentage in two games played) made 36 saves on 39 shots against in the win.

Meanwhile, Capitals netminder, Craig Anderson (1-1, 2.65 goals-against average, .929 save percentage in two games played) stopped 44 out of 48 shots faced in the loss.

The B’s were without the services of Ondrej Kase (upper body), John Moore (hip) and Jeremy Lauzon (upper body) on Monday.

With Lauzon as the newest entry on Boston’s list of injured players, head coach, Bruce Cassidy, inserted Connor Clifton on the third defensive pairing with Kevan Miller.

Among his forwards, Cassidy moved Charlie Coyle back to centering the third line– flanked by Nick Ritchie at left wing and Jake DeBrusk at right wing– while Sean Kuraly was slotted into the fourth line left wing spot with Curtis Lazar at center and Chris Wagner on the right side.

At puck drop, Patrice Bergeron moved into sole possession of the second-most playoff games in a Bruins uniform– suiting up in his 151st career Stanley Cup Playoff game on Monday night and passing former Bruin, turned current Capitals defender, Zdeno Chara, in the process.

David Krejci (146) also surpassed Wayne Cashman (145) for sole possession of the fourth-most postseason games with Boston.

Boston’s long list of healthy scratches, injured players and taxi squad members included Trent Frederic, Moore, Kase, Jaroslav Halak, Steven Kampfer, Jack Ahcan, Lauzon, Jakub Zboril, Callum Booth, Dan Vladar, Anton Blidh, Karson Kuhlman and Jarred Tinordi.

Early in the opening frame, DeBrusk (2) pocketed a catch and release goal while choking up on his stick as Anderson was out of position on a scramble from the doorstep after Coyle wrapped around the net.

Coyle (1) and Ritchie (1) had the assists on DeBrusk’s second goal in as many games this postseason and the Bruins took a, 1-0, lead at 5:05 of the first period.

About a minute later, David Pastrnak was penalized for holding and presented the Capitals with the first power play of the night at 6:19.

Washington made quick work of the resulting skater advantage as T.J. Oshie (1) tipped in a shot from Alex Ovechkin on the short side to tie the game, 1-1 at 6:31.

Ovechkin (2) and John Carlson (1) tallied the assists on Oshie’s power-play goal.

Almost three minutes later, Bergeron (1) one-timed a shot from the high slot in his usual bumper role after Pastrnak leapt to keep the puck onside, then generate the scoring chance by feeding his captain the puck for the goal.

Pastrnak (2) had the only assist on Bergeron’s goal as the Bruins took the lead, 2-1, at 9:21.

Moments later, Nic Dowd tangled with Krejci and presented Boston with another power play as Dowd cut a rut to the penalty box for roughing at 12:46.

The B’s didn’t get that much time on the skater advantage before the 5-on-4 was cut short thanks to a roughing minor that was assessed to Marchand at 13:54, after the Bruins forward retaliated for being pinned by a knee after a stoppage.

After 52 seconds of 4-on-4 action, Washington went on an abbreviated power play and capitalized on the skater advantage as Garnet Hathaway (1) redirected a shot that had eyes through Rask’s five-hole with a heavy net front presence from both teams creating traffic in the slot.

Dmitry Orlov (1) and Lars Eller (1) were credited with the assists on Hathaway’s tying goal at 16:42 as the Caps evened things up, 2-2, on the scoreboard.

Late in the opening frame, Mike Reilly and Conor Sheary exchanged words and shoves and were sent to the box with roughing minors– necessitating 4-on-4 play at 19:50 of the first period and extending into the middle frame.

After one period of action Monday night, the Bruins and Capitals were tied, 2-2, on the scoreboard and knotted up in shots on goal, as well, 18-18.

Boston dominated in blocked shots (7-3), takeaways (3-2) and faceoff win percentage (65-35), while Washington led in giveaways (2-1) and hits (18-14) heading into the first intermission.

The Caps were 1/2 and the B’s were 0/1 on the power play entering the middle frame.

Carlson tripped Hall to present the Bruins with a power play at 6:22 of the second period, but Boston was powerless on the ensuing skater advantage.

Moments later, Eller was spotted heading down the tunnel and did not return to the night’s action.

Midway through the middle frame, Clifton and Tom Wilson got caught up in an open ice hit away from the puck.

Clifton was assessed an interference minor, while Wilson picked up two minutes for embellishment at 13:31. The two clubs skated at 4-on-4 as a result.

It remained 4-on-4 when less than a minute later, Marchand and Anthony Mantha went at it after Anderson froze the puck at 14:11.

Marchand was assessed a slashing infraction, while Mantha picked up a high sticking minor.

Just as both squads resumed full strength at 5-on-5, Craig Smith and Nick Jensen could resist letting go of one another in a net front battle, yielding roughing minors for the two of them at 16:54.

Through 40 minutes of play at Capital One Arena, the score remained tied, 2-2, despite the Bruins leading in shots on goal, 33-27, including a, 15-9, advantage in the second period alone.

Boston also held the advantage in blocked shots (10-9), takeaways (4-3) and faceoff win% (62-38), while Washington led in hits (28-17).

Both teams had three giveaways each as the B’s were 0/2 and the Caps were 1/2 on the power play after two periods.

Early in the final frame, Ritchie inadvertently clotheslined Oshie behind the net while battling for a loose puck along the endboards.

Ritchie cut a rut to the sin bin for roughing at 2:05 of the third period as the Capitals went on the power play.

Washington couldn’t muster anything past Boston’s penalty kill, however, and still couldn’t do anything when the B’s gifted the Caps another power play at 4:53 as Hall tripped Sheary.

In the vulnerable minute after special teams action, however, the Capitals went to work on a 2-on-1 while catching Boston’s defense out of position, whereby Orlov was able to setup Hathaway (2) for his second goal of the night on a catch and release effort at 7:04 of the third period.

Orlov (2) and Carl Hagelin (1) notched the assists on Hathaway’s second goal as Washington took their first lead of the night, 3-2, almost midway through the final frame of regulation.

About ten minutes later, Hall (1) kept plugging away at a loose puck in the crease before sliding it over the goal line while chaos surrounded him and everyone hacked and whiffed at the rubber biscuit in the blue paint.

Smith (1) and Matt Grzelcyk (1) had the assists as Hall’s goal tied the game, 3-3, at 17:11.

Boston rode the momentum surge of tying the game late in the final minutes of regulation and entered the dressing room after 60 minutes with the lead in shots on goal, 46-39, including a, 13-12, advantage in the third period alone.

The Bruins also led in takeaways (9-6) and faceoff win% (63-38), while the Capitals held the advantage in blocked shots (19-15) and hits (35-30).

Both teams had four giveaways, while the Caps were 1/4 on the power play and the B’s were 0/2 on the skater advantage heading into the extra frame.

It didn’t take long before Krejci intercepted a clearing attempt from Brenden Dillon and passed the puck across the point to Grzelcyk, whereby the Bruins defender tossed it back across the high slot to Marchand (1) for the one-timer blast from the faceoff dot over Anderson’s glove side as the Washington goaltender dove across the crease.

Grzelcyk (2) and Krejci (1) tallied the assists on Marchand’s game-winning goal 39 seconds into the overtime period and the Bruins took home a, 4-3, victory in Game 2 as a result.

Boston finished the night leading in shots on goal, 48-39, including a, 1-0, advantage in overtime alone.

The B’s wrapped up Game 2 leading in faceoff win% (63-37), while the Capitals led in blocked shots (19-15), giveaways (7-4) and hits (36-30).

As there were no penalties called in overtime, Washington finished 1/4 and Boston went 0/2 on the power play on Monday night.

Monday night also marked the 11th-straight postseason game decided by one-goal between the two clubs dating back to their 1998 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series– the longest such streak in National Hockey League history.

As a result of their overtime win in Game 2, the Bruins have tied the series 1-1 heading home to TD Garden for Game 3 on Wednesday night in Boston. Puck drop is expected a little after 6:30 p.m. ET and fans in the United States can catch national coverage of the action on NBCSN, while those in Canada can tune to SNE, SNO, SNP, SN360 or TVAS.

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NHL Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Caps snag, 3-2, overtime win in Game 1 over Bruins

Nic Dowd redirected T.J. Oshie’s blast early in overtime to give Craig Anderson a, 3-2, win in relief and the Washington Capitals a 1-0 series lead over the Boston Bruins on Saturday night at Capital One Arena in Game 1 of their 2021 First Round series.

Anderson (1-0, 1.15 goals-against average, .955 save percentage in one game played) made 21 saves on 22 shots faced in the overtime win after replacing injured Capitals goaltender, Vitek Vanecek, in the first period.

He’ll turn 40-years-old on May 21st and became the oldest goaltender to earn a Stanley Cup Playoffs win in Capitals history (39 years, 359 days old), surpassing Mike Liut’s previous record (34 years, 110 days).

Vanecek (0-0, 4.62 goals-against average, .750 save percentage in one game played) had three saves on four shots his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut prior to suffering a lower body injury at 13:10 of the first period and leaving the game.

Boston netminder, Tuukka Rask (0-1, 2.78 goals-against average, .906 save percentage in one game played), stopped 29 out of 32 shots faced in the loss.

The Bruins and Capitals are meeting for the fourth time in a postseason series. Washington holds the all time series advantage, 2-1, having beaten Boston in six games in the 1998 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal and most recently in seven games in the 2012 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal.

The B’s swept the Caps in the 1990 Wales Conference Final.

Boston made the playoffs for the 74th time in franchise history, while finishing 3rd in the MassMutual NHL East Division.

Meanwhile, Washington entered the postseason for the 31st time in club history and has home ice advantage in the series by virtue of finishing 2nd in the same division.

The Bruins were without Ondrej Kase (upper body) and John Moore (hip) in Game 1.

Kase is not yet ready to return to the lineup, while Moore is out for the rest of the season and playoffs after undergoing a hip arthroscopy and labral repair on March 22nd. Moore’s expected recovery time is five to six months.

Charlie Coyle, meanwhile, was back in the lineup after missing the last four games of the regular season with an upper body injury.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, didn’t do much out of the ordinary with his lines as captain, Patrice Bergeron, centered the first line with his usual partners in crime, Brad Marchand at left wing and David Pastrnak at right wing.

David Krejci centered the second line with Taylor Hall to his left and Craig Smith to his right, while Sean Kuraly centered the third line with Nick Ritchie and Coyle on his wings.

Rounding out the bottom-six forwards, Jake DeBrusk and Chris Wagner were slotted alongside Curtis Lazar.

Bergeron tied Zdeno Chara for the second-most appearances in a playoff game in a Bruins uniform– having participated in his 150th career Stanley Cup Playoff game on Saturday night.

Krejci, meanwhile, surpassed Wayne Cashman for sole possession of the fourth-most playoff games in the spoked-B, skating in his 146th career postseason game on Saturday.

On defense, Cassidy started the night with Matt Grzelcyk and Charlie McAvoy on the first pairing, Mike Reilly suited up with Brandon Carlo and Jeremy Lauzon alongside Kevan Miller.

Reilly made his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut in the process.

Boston’s long list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and/or injured players included Trent Frederic, Kase, Steven Kampfer, Jack Ahcan, Jakub Zboril, Connor Clifton, Anton Blidh, Karson Kuhlman, Jarred Tinordi, Jaroslav Halak, Callum Booth and Dan Vladar.

Washington, meanwhile, was without Evgeny Kuznetsov, who remained in COVID protocol ahead of Game 1.

Tom Wilson (1) scored the game’s first goal and opened the scoring in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs on a give-and-go play that led to a far side shot over Rask and into the twine to make it, 1-0.

Oshie (1) and Daniel Sprong (1) had the assists on Wilson’s goal at 6:22 of the first period as the Capitals capitalized on a shattered stick by McAvoy in Boston’s attacking zone that led to the breakout and ensuing goal.

Almost 90 seconds later, John Carlson sent the puck over the glass and yielded an automatic delay of game minor infraction at 7:58, presenting the Bruins with the night’s first power play as a result.

Boston was powerless on the skater advantage, however.

Moments later, DeBrusk (1) scored from the edge of the faceoff dot to the left of Vanecek after an attacking zone draw was won by Lazar back to the B’s winger for a quick shot to tie the game, 1-1, at 13:10.

Lazar (1) had the only assist while Vanecek sustained a lower body injury on the play and promptly left the game with the assistance of a Capitals trainer.

Anderson replaced Vanecek in his first playoff appearance since 2017, when the Ottawa Senators lost, 4-2, in double overtime to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 7 of the 2017 Eastern Conference Final.

The Bruins did not put Anderson to the test nearly enough for the remainder of the action.

Justin Schultz tripped Hall at 16:42 and presented Boston with another power play before the first period came to a close, but the B’s weren’t able to muster anything on the advantage and entered the first intermission tied on the scoreboard, 1-1.

Washington led in shots on goal, 11-7, after 20 minutes and held the advantage in takeaways (2-1) and hits (19-13), while Boston led in blocked shots (5-2), giveaways (2-1) and faceoff win percentage (81-19).

The Bruins were 0/2 on the power play while the Capitals had yet to see any action on the skater advantage heading into the middle frame.

Entering the second period Washington tweeted that Vanecek would not return to the night’s action with a lower body injury. If necessary, Pheonix Copley would be available as the emergency goaltender for the Caps.

Midway through the middle frame, Brenden Dillon (1) blasted a shot from the point that deflected off of Lauzon’s stick and into the back of the twine– giving the Capitals a, 2-1, lead at 8:44 of the second period in the process.

Anthony Mantha (1) and Alex Ovechkin (1) tallied the assists on Dillon’s goal.

Ovechkin later cross checked Miller, but Lauzon retaliated with a cross check on Ovechkin and was the only player that was penalized at 9:01 of the second period.

Washington did not convert on the ensuing power play.

Late in the period, Dmitry Orlov caught Marchand with a high stick at 15:21.

Boston capitalized on the resulting skater advantage when Pastrnak wired a shot off of Ritchie’s (1) shaft in front of the net– deflecting the puck through Anderson and just over the goal line.

Pastrnak (1) and McAvoy (1) had the assists on Ritchie’s power-play goal, tying the game, 2-2, in the process at 16:40.

Through 40 minutes of play, the score was tied, 2-2, despite the Capitals leading in shots on goal, 22-16, including an, 11-9, advantage in the second period alone.

The Bruins led in blocked shots (16-8) and faceoff win% (62-38), while the Caps led in giveaways (4-3) and hits (31-30).

Both teams had four takeaways aside, while Washington was 0/1 and Boston was 1/3 on the power play entering the second intermission.

There were no goals in the final frame of regulation and only one penalty as Michael Raffl tripped Hall with a knee-on-knee swipe (inadvertent or not, it was a penalty) at 5:06 of the third period.

After 60 minutes, the Capitals led in shots on goal, 31-24, including a, 9-8, advantage in the third period alone.

Washington held the advantage in hits (51-40), while Boston led in blocked shots (18-12), giveaways (7-6) and faceoff win% (59-41). Both teams had six takeaways aside.

As there were no penalties called in overtime, the Capitals finished 0/1 and the Bruins finished 1/4 on the power play.

Early in the extra frame, Washington got a break whereby Oshie let go of a one-timer that Dowd (1) deflected off of Rask and in for the game-winning goal at 4:41 of the overtime period.

Oshie (2) and Wilson (1) had the assists on Dowd’s goal as the Capitals secured a, 3-2, victory in overtime in Game 1.

Washington finished Saturday night’s action leading in shots on goal, 32-26, despite Boston outshooting the Capitals, 2-1, in overtime alone.

The Caps also wrapped up Game 1 with the advantage in hits (51-41), while the Bruins finished the game leading in blocked shots (19-16), giveaways (7-6) and faceoff win% (60-40).

The Bruins fell to 0-1 when tied after the first period, 0-1 when allowing the game’s first goal and 0-1 when tied after the second period this postseason, while the Capitals improved to 1-0 when tied after the first, scoring the game’s first goal and tied after two periods in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Washington leads the series 1-0 and looks to go up by two games on Monday night in Game 2. Puck drop in Washington is set for a little after 7:30 p.m. ET. Fans in the United States can tune to NBCSN for national coverage, while viewers in Canada have the option to choose from SN, CBC or TVAS.

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NHL Nick's Net Previews

2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round Preview: MassMutual NHL East Division

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.

It’s time.

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.

N.Y. Islanders: 56 games played, .634 points percentage, 24 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

Schedule:

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*

*If necessary

(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

Schedule:

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

5/23- Game 5 BOS @ WSH*

5/25- Game 6 WSH @ BOS*

5/27- Game 7 BOS @ WSH*

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Raffl sinks Bruins in dying seconds, Caps win, 2-1

Michael Raffl scored the game-winning goal off the back of Jeremy Swayman with about three seconds left on the game clock to give the Washington Capitals a, 2-1, victory over the Boston Bruins at Capital One Arena in both teams’ last game of the regular season.

Vitek Vanecek (21-10-4, 2.70 goals-against average, .908 save percentage in 37 games played) made 24 saves on 25 shots against in the win for Washington.

Swayman (7-3-0, 1.50 goals-against average, .945 save percentage in 10 games played), stopped 30 out of 32 shots faced in the loss.

The Bruins finished the 2020-21 regular season 33-16-7 (73 points) overall and in 3rd place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while the Capitals went 36-15-5 (77 points) this season and finished in 2nd place in the same division.

The two clubs will face each other in the First Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Boston also dropped to 15-9-4 on the road and 4-2-2 against Washington in 2020-21.

The Bruins were without Ondrej Kase (upper body), John Moore (hip) and Charlie Coyle (upper body) due to injury on Tuesday, while head coach, Bruce Cassidy elected to rest Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak, Taylor Hall, David Krejci, Craig Smith, Sean Kuraly, Charlie Coyle, Matt Grzelcyk, Charlie McAvoy, Mike Reilly, Brandon Carlo, Jeremy Lauzon, Kevan Miller, Jaroslav Halak and Tuukka Rask for the final game of the regular season.

Boston returns home after their evening in Washington, D.C. for a day off on Wednesday.

The B’s return to practice at Warrior Ice Arena on Thursday and Friday ahead of Game 1 back in Washington, D.C. on Saturday night.

By sitting most of his regular lineup, Cassidy jumbled his forwards and defenders on Tuesday night with Curtis Lazar centering the first line– flanked by Jake DeBrusk and Chris Wagner on his wings.

Greg McKegg centered the second line with Nick Ritchie and Zach Senyshyn on the wings. Ritchie and Wagner each wore an “A” with Steven Kampfer wearing the third “A”, designated as alternate captains while Bruins captain, Bergeron, and regular alternates, Krejci and Marchand were withheld from Tuesday night’s action.

Jack Studnicka centered the third line with Trent Frederic at left wing and Oskar Steen at right wing, while Cameron Hughes, Anton Blidh and Karson Kuhlman rounded out the bottom-six forwards.

On defense, Jakub Zboril was paired with Connor Clifton on the first pairint, while Jarred Tinordi and Kampfer, as well as Jack Ahcan and Urho Vaakanainen rounded out the rest of the blue line.

Dan Vladar served as Swayman’s backup with Rask and Halak given the night off.

Boston’s long list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and injured players included Reilly, Smith, Coyle, Carlo, Moore, Kase, Bergeron, Rask, Halak, Krejci, Grzelcyk, Kuraly, Lauzon, Marchand, Callum Booth, Hall, McAvoy, Miller and Pastrnak.

Washington was without some big names in T.J. Oshie (lower body), John Carlson (lower body), Evgeny Kuznetsov (COVID protocol) and Ilya Samsonov (COVID protocol) on Tuesday.

At puck drop, Ritchie became the only Bruin to play in all 56 games this season.

Meanwhile, midway through the opening frame, Clifton caught Carl Hagelin with a slash and promptly presented the Capitals with the first power play of the night at 7:15 of the first period.

Washington’s power play was cut short, however, when Anthony Mantha tripped Kampfer at 8:44, yielding 31 seconds of 4-on-4 action before the Bruins had an abbreviated power play.

Boston’s special teams couldn’t muster anything on their brief skater advantage.

Heading into the first intermission, the game was still tied, 0-0, despite Washington leading in shots on goal, 9-6.

The Bruins led in blocked shots (9-2), takeaways (4-2), giveaways (2-1) and hits (16-13), while the Capitals held the advantage in faceoff win percentage (55-46).

Both the Caps and the B’s were 0/1 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

DeBrusk worked the puck up to Tinordi as the Bruins defender pinched into the attacking zone on a rush before sending a pass to Lazar (7) in the slot for a tap-in while Vanecek was out of position– giving Boston a, 1-0, lead in the process.

Tinordi (1) and DeBrusk (9) tallied the assists on Lazar’s goal at 10:11 of the second period.

The B’s did not hold the lead for long, however, as Hagelin (6) pocketed a rebound while Swayman was sprawling in effort to clear the crease.

Garnet Hathaway (12) and Zdeno Chara (8) had the assists on Hagelin’s goal as the Caps tied the game, 1-1, at 16:15 of the second period.

Through 40 minutes of play, the Bruins and Capitals were tied, 1-1, on the scoreboard despite Washington holding a, 26-14, advantage in shots on goal, including a, 17-8, advantage in the second period alone.

Boston dominated in blocked shots (16-4) and hits (22-20), while the Caps led in takeaways (7-4) and faceoff win% (52-48).

Both teams had three giveaways each and remained 0/1 on the power play heading into the final frame.

Prior to the start of the third period, the Bruins tweeted that Zboril would not return to the night’s action with an upper body injury.

Less than two minutes into the final frame, Frederic and Tom Wilson exchanged pleasantries leading to ten-minute misconducts for each player– a fair tradeoff for Boston to give up a bottom-six winger for Washington’s infamous forward at 1:49 of the third period.

As each penalty was a misconduct, there was no change in strength as both teams remained at 5-on-5 for the rest of the night.

No more penalties were called and no goals were scored until the dying seconds when Raffl (4) riffled a shot from behind the goal line off of Swayman’s back– bouncing just under the crossbar and back out from the twine.

Justin Schultz (24) had the only assist on Raffl’s game-winning goal at 19:57 of the third period as the Capitals secured the, 2-1, victory at the final horn.

Washington wrapped up the night’s action with the advantage in the final shot total, 32-25, despite being outshot by Boston, 11-5, in the third period alone.

The Bruins finished the night leading in blocked shots (21-10), while the Capitals led in giveaways (9-4), hits (39-33) and faceoff win% (62-38).

Both teams finished 0/1 on the night on the skater advantage.

After the game, Cassidy informed reporters that Swayman would serve as Rask’s backup in the postseason and indicated that Coyle would likely be cleared for a return to the lineup for Game 1.

Meanwhile, Kase’s status remains uncertain for Saturday night, at least.

Boston finished the 2020-21 regular season 8-8-2 (5-4-0 on the road) when tied after the first period, 25-6-3 (12-6-1 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal and 6-8-3 (5-6-2 on the road) when tied after two periods.

Washington, on the other hand, wrapped up their 2020-21 regular season efforts 16-3-1 (7-2-1 at home) when tied after one period, 11-10-2 (7-6-1 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal and 8-2-5 (4-1-3 at home) when tied after the second period.

The Bruins finished their 2020-21 regular season on Tuesday and will return to Boston for a day off on Wednesday before practicing on Thursday and Friday ahead of Saturday’s Game 1 matchup with the Capitals in Washington, D.C.

Washington has home-ice advantage in their First Round series with Boston in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since their 1998 matchup with the Bruins in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal that year. 

This will be the fourth time that the two clubs go head-to-head in the playoffs with the Capitals holding an all-time 2-1 series advantage. 

The Caps defeated the B’s most recently in seven games in the 2012 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal as well as in six games in the 1998 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal, while the Bruins swept Washington in the 1990 Wales Conference Final.

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Smith’s hat trick caps, 6-2, win for Boston over Buffalo

Craig Smith scored half of the goals in a, 6-2, win for the Boston Bruins over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday afternoon at TD Garden, while Jeremy Swayman (6-2-0, 1.62 goals-against average, .942 save percentage in eight games played) made 17 saves on 19 shots against in the victory.

Smith’s hat trick was just his second career hat trick (previous, Feb. 13, 2020 with Nashville in, 5-0, win vs. N.Y. Islanders) and his first in a Bruins uniform.

Sabres goaltender, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (1-3-0, 3.89 goals-against average, .906 save percentage in four games played) stopped 26 out of 29 shots faced before sustaining a lower body injury at the end of the second period that kept him out of the final frame.

Luukkonen was replaced by Dustin Tokarski (2-8-2, 3.46 goals-against average, .904 save percentage in 13 games played) turned aside 11 out of 14 shots against for no decision in his relief appearance.

Boston improved to 30-14-6 (66 points) on the season and moved into 3rd place in the MassMutual NHL East Division temporarily as the New York Islanders were in action against the New York Rangers later Saturday night at the time of this writing.

Buffalo fell to 13-32-7 (33 points) overall and remained in last place (8th) in the same division as the B’s finished 7-1-0 in their regular season series with the Sabres.

Boston was without the services of Ondrej Kase (upper body), John Moore (hip) and Brandon Carlo (oblique) on Saturday, though Carlo is expected to return to the lineup next week in New Jersey.

Chris Wagner and Trent Frederic were scratched in favor of Jake DeBrusk and Karson Kuhlman, who served as Curtis Lazar’s wingers on the fourth line.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, promoted Nick Ritchie to the third line left wing with Sean Kuraly at center and Charlie Coyle on right wing, while Jaroslav Halak backed up Swayman– giving Tuukka Rask the afternoon off as the B’s navigate a three-goaltender rotation.

On defense, Matt Grzelcyk was paired with Charlie McAvoy on the first pairing with Mike Reilly alongside Kevan Miller and Jeremy Lauzon with Connor Clifton to round out the blue line.

Boston’s long list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and injured players included Frederic, Wagner, Greg McKegg, Carlo, Moore, Kase, Rask, Steven Kampfer, Jakub Zboril, Callum Booth, Anton Blidh and Jarred Tinordi.

Later this month (May 10th), limited seating capacity at TD Garden will increase to 25% (up from 12%) in accordance with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ COVID-19 reopening plans.

Smith (11) opened the scoring at 1:21 of the first period on a redirected shot pass from David Krejci while on the doorstep to make it, 1-0, Boston.

Krejci (27) and Taylor Hall (21) had the assists as the Bruins struck first for the ninth time in their last 10 games.

Midway through the opening frame, Riley Sheahan was penalized for holding, presenting the afternoon’s first power play to Boston at 10:28.

The Bruins had one second of a 5-on-3 advantage when Mattias Samuelsson tripped Coyle at 12:27, but the B’s power play was powerless as Buffalo’s penalty kill converted on a shorthanded goal off the ensuing faceoff.

As Sheahan (4) was freed from the box, Jacob Bryson connected with his teammate on a tape-to-tape pass, leading No. 15 for the Sabres into the attacking zone on a breakaway before he fired a shot past Swayman on the short side– tying the game, 1-1, in the process.

It was the sixth shorthanded goal against allowed by Boston this season, while Bryson (7) and Casey Mittelstadt (10) tallied the assists on Sheahan’s fourth goal of the season at 12:35 of the first period.

Moments later, Kuraly (3) golfed a loose puck into the back of the twine after Ritchie’s initial shot was blocked by a Sabres defender.

Ritchie (11) had the only assist on Kuraly’s first goal in 31 games at 16:38 and the Bruins led, 2-1.

After one period on Saturday, Boston led, 2-1, on the scoreboard and, 17-4, in shots on goal. The Bruins also held the advantage in blocked shots (3-1), takeaways (3-2), hits (12-8) and faceoff win percentage (56-44).

Both teams had five giveaways each, while only the B’s had seen any action on the power play– and were 0/2 in that regard– heading into the first intermission.

Lauzon threw a shot towards the goal that Patrice Bergeron (19) deflected, then backhanded a tap-in on his own rebound past Luukkonen while falling to give Boston a two-goal lead, 3-1, at 5:36 of the second period.

Lauzon (7) and Brad Marchand (34) had the assists on Bergeron’s goal.

A few minutes later, Kuraly slashed Bryson and cut a rut to the penalty box, presenting the Sabres with their first power play of the afternoon at 8:34 of the second period.

The B’s penalty kill stood tall as Buffalo’s power play units could not capitalize on the skater advantage.

Dylan Cozens was sent to the sin bin for slashing Miller at 19:09, but the Bruins weren’t able to convert on the ensuing power play, despite several zone entries.

Meanwhile, Luukkonen made a save late in the period, then struggled to get up and was helped off as the horn sounded to signal the start of the second intermission.

He did not return to Saturday afternoon’s action and was replaced by Tokarski for the third period.

Through 40 minutes of action, the Bruins led, 3-1, on the scoreboard and, 29-11, in shots on goal, including a, 12-7, advantage in the second period alone.

The Sabres led in giveaways (8-6) and faceoff win% (55-45), while Boston held the advantage in blocked shots (7-5) and hits (23-19).

Each squad had six takeaways apiece, while Buffalo was 0/1 and the B’s were 0/3 on the power play heading into the final frame.

Ritchie (13) deflected a shot from the point by Grzelcyk over Tokarski to give Boston a three-goal lead, 4-1, at 3:18 of the third period.

Grzelcyk (12) and Miller (3) had the assists on Ritchie’s goal as the Bruins winger picked up his second point of the afternoon.

Shortly thereafter, Reilly worked the puck deep into the zone before sending a quick pass from behind the goal line to Smith (12) for the redirection goal– his second of the game– that made it, 5-1, Boston.

Reilly (25) and Krejci (28) notched the assists on Smith’s goal at 5:31 of the third period, giving the Bruins back-to-back goals in a span of 2:13.

Less than two minutes later, Arttu Ruotsalainen (5) scored on a rebound from the doorstep through Swayman’s five-hole to cut Boston’s lead to three goals.

Rasmus Asplund (4) and Mittelstadt (11) had the assists on Ruotsalainen’s goal as the Sabres trailed the Bruins, 5-2, at 7:02 of the third period.

Less than a minute later, Rasmus Dahlin cross checked David Pastrnak and delivered a swift cross check to Marchand thereafter, though only the initial cross check on Pastrnak was called as a scrum ensued between both lines on the ice at 7:45.

Marchand and Pastrnak received roughing minors, thereby giving the Sabres a power play, despite losing Dahlin to a cross checking infraction.

Buffalo’s power play was unsuccessful, however.

Midway through the third period, William Borgen was penalized for interference at 13:39.

It didn’t take Boston’s power play long for Smith (13) to send another redirected shot pass into the twine behind Tokarski for a power-play goal to extend the lead back to four goals for the B’s.

Krejci (29) and Coyle (11) tabbed the assists on Smith’s third goal of the afternoon and the Bruins led, 6-2, at 14:05 of the third period.

According to 98.5 The Sports Hub‘s Bruins beat reporter, Ty Anderson, Smith’s hat trick was the first for a player not named Bergeron, Marchand, Pastrnak or Krejci since Jimmy Hayes recorded a hat trick in a, 7-3, win against the Ottawa Senators on Dec. 29, 2015.

At the final horn, the B’s sealed the deal on a, 6-2, victory over the Sabres, finishing the afternoon leading in shots (43-19, including a, 14-8, advantage in the third period alone), blocked shots (8-7) and hits (31-25).

Buffalo wrapped up Saturday afternoon, leading in giveaways (10-7) and faceoff win% (53-47), while the Sabres went 0/2 and the Bruins went 1/4 on the power play.

Boston is now 22-5-3 (11-0-2 at home) when scoring the game’s first goal, 18-0-2 (9-0-1 at home) when leading after the first period and 21-0-2 (13-0-2 at home) when leading after the second period this season.

The Sabres fell to 6-27-2 (3-12-1 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 3-21-0 (2-9-0 on the road) when trailing after one period and 1-27-2 (0-12-1 on the road) when trailing after two periods in 2020-21.

Next week, the Bruins travel to New Jersey for back-to-back games against the Devils on Monday and Tuesday before hosting the New York Rangers on Thursday and Saturday.

Boston’s last home game of the regular season is May 10th against the New York Islanders and the B’s will finish the regular season on May 11th in Washington, D.C. against the Capitals.

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NHL Nick's Net

Bruins down Sabres, 5-2, extend gap with Rangers

The Boston Bruins got the most out of their top-six forwards on Thursday night in a, 5-2, victory over the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden as Tuukka Rask (13-4-2, 2.27 goals-against average, .916 save percentage in 21 games played) made 29 saves on 31 shots faced in the win.

Sabres netminder, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (1-2-0, 3.75 goals-against average, .908 save percentage in three games), had 35 saves on 39 shots against in the loss.

Boston improved to 29-14-6 (64 points) on the season and remain in command of 4th place in the MassMutual NHL East Division– six points ahead of the New York Rangers, who remain on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoff picture.

Buffalo fell to 13-31-7 (33 points) overall and stagnant in 8th place (last) in the division.

The B’s are now 6-1-0 against the Sabres this season with one more game remaining in their regular season series on Saturday afternoon.

The Bruins were without Ondrej Kase (upper body), John Moore (hip), and Brandon Carlo (upper body) on Thursday, while Craig Smith was a game-time decision due to an issue that was resolved prior to warmup with his COVID testing.

As Smith’s issue was absolved, Jake DeBrusk remained a healthy scratch, while B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made minor adjustments among his forwards.

Trent Frederic, Sean Kuraly and Charlie Coyle made up the third line, while Nick Ritchie, Curtis Lazar and Chris Wagner comprised the fourth line.

Jaroslav Halak served as Rask’s backup with Jeremy Swayman earning the night off.

Meanwhile, Boston’s long list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and injured players including, Swayman, Greg McKegg, Carlo, Moore, Kase, Steven Kampfer, Jakub Zboril, Callum Booth, DeBrusk, Anton Blidh, Karson Kuhlman and Jarred Tinordi.

Jack Ahcan was sent to the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Wednesday, while Urho Vaakanainen was also reassigned to Providence on Thursday ahead of Boston’s game against the Sabres.

The P-Bruins season is winding down and will not feature a postseason following it as the American Hockey League announced on Thursday that for the second straight year, there would be no traditional Calder Cup Playoffs.

Only the AHL’s Pacific Division elected to have a playoff tournament to determine a division champion, while the rest of the AHL’s division title winners will simply default to the team that finishes the season with the best regular season record.

Providence is currently 1st in the Atlantic Division with a 14-6-1-1 record on the season.

Meanwhile, starting May 10th (vs. N.Y. Islanders), TD Garden will increase their limited seating capacity from 12% to 25% in accordance with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ COVID-19 reopening plans.

A little over a minute into the action on Thursday night, David Pastrnak (19) rocketed a one-timer past Luukkonen from his typical spot near the faceoff dot on a pass from across the slot to make it, 1-0, Boston at 1:16 of the first period.

Patrice Bergeron (24) and Brad Marchand (33) tallied the assists on Pastrnak’s 199th career National Hockey League goal.

Late in the period, Casey Mittelstadt (10) buried a rebound after the Bruins turned the puck over in their own defensive zone and were caught behind the play.

Arttu Ruotsalainen (1) and Rasmus Asplund (3) notched the assists on Mittelstadt’s goal as the Sabres tied the game, 1-1, at 14:09.

Moments later, Buffalo forward, Sam Reinhart, tripped Pastrnak and presented the Bruins with their first power play of the night at 18:05.

Late in the ensuing skater advantage, as the final second on the clock was winding down prior to the first intermission, David Krejci (8) sent a one-timer off the post that had eyes off of Luukkonen’s back and trickled into the net to give Boston a, 2-1, lead heading into the first intermission.

Charlie McAvoy (23) and Smith (18) had the primary and secondary assists on Krejci’s power-play goal at 19:59.

After one period, the B’s led, 2-1, on the scoreboard and held the advantage in shots on goal, 13-11.

Meanwhile, Buffalo held the advantage in takeaways (4-3), giveaways (4-3), hits (13-9) and faceoff win percentage (59-41). Both teams had two blocked shots apiece while the Sabres had yet to appear on the skater advantage and the Bruins were 1/1 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

Lazar interfered with Reinhart and presented the Sabres with their first power play of the night at 5:36 of the second period, but Boston’s penalty kill did its job and went unscathed on the scoreboard.

Late in the middle frame, Rasmus Dahlin hooked Marchand and cut a rut to the penalty box at 14:50, but Bruins weren’t able to convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Through 40 minutes of action on Thursday, Boston led Buffalo, 2-1, on the scoreboard and, 28-22, in shots on goal, including a, 15-11, advantage in the second period alone.

The Sabres maintained a hold in blocked shots (6-4), takeaways (8-4), hits (22-17), while the Bruins led in giveaways (7-6) and faceoff win% (63-37).

Buffalo was 0/1 and Boston was 1/2 on the power play heading into the final frame.

Reinhart (23) tied the action, 2-2, with a quick release from the slot, while Victor Olofsson (17) and Jeff Skinner (6) worked the puck deep into the zone and earned the assists on Reinhart’s goal at 1:43 of the third period.

Almost midway through the final frame, Coyle (6) stole the rubber biscuit in the neutral zone and charged up the ice– forcing his own breakaway into fruition while Reinhart and Rasmus Ristolainen trailed on his back– before roofing the puck top-shelf for his first goal in 28 games.

Coyle’s individual effort was unassisted and ended the longest scoring drought in his career thus far (nine years) and made it, 3-2, for Boston at 7:58 of the third period.

Moments later, Krejci and Dahlin got tangled up in a bit of a heated exchange in which Krejci was handed a minor for interference and Dahlin received a holding infraction, yielding two minutes of 4-on-4 action at 13:30.

Just as the two clubs resumed 5-on-5 play, Smith worked the puck to Krejci while No. 46 in black and gold broke into the attacking zone by deking around Dahlin, then toe-dragging around Henri Jokiharju before setting up Taylor Hall (7) for the one-timer goal at 16:43.

Hall’s goal gave Boston some insurance with a, 4-2, lead, while Krejci (26) and Smith (19) had the assists.

About a minute later, Connor Clifton, slashed former teammate, Anders Bjork, and presented Buffalo with a power play at 17:47.

Sabres interim head coach, Don Granato, pulled Luukkonen for an extra attacker, but it was to no avail as Marchand (27) sent the puck into the open net from his own end on a floater of a shot just under the bar for his 31st career shorthanded goal.

Marchand’s empty net goal was unassisted at 18:26 and the Bruins secured the, 5-2, victory as a result at the final horn.

Boston finished the night leading in shots on goal, 40-31, including a, 12-9, advantage in the third period alone.

Buffalo finished the night leading in his (30-24), while the B’s wrapped up Thursday’s action with the advantage in blocked shots (9-7), giveaways (10-8) and faceoff win% (59-41).

The Sabres went 0/2 on the power play, while the Bruins finished 1/2 on the skater advantage.

Boston improved to 21-5-3 (10-0-2 at home) when scoring the game’s first goal, 17-0-2 (9-0-1 at home) when leading after the first period and 20-0-2 (12-0-2 at home) when leading after two periods in 2020-21.

Buffalo, meanwhile, fell to 6-26-2 (3-11-1 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 3-20-0 (2-8-0 on the road) when trailing after one and 1-26-2 (0-11-1 on the road) when losing after the second period this season.

The Bruins face the Sabres to kick off the month of May on Saturday afternoon before hitting the road for a pair of games next week in New Jersey against the Devils. Boston went 11-5-1 in the month of April.

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NHL Nick's Net Previews

Preview: Game 46- Bruins @ Sabres

Friday night at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York, the Boston Bruins face the Buffalo Sabres in the second night of back-to-back games while Boston vies for a seventh-straight win in their current winning streak.

The Bruins enter Friday having beaten the Sabres twice this week, most recently on Thursday night in a, 5-1, victory. Buffalo has yet to beat Boston this season as the two teams square off for the sixth time in 2020-21.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, indicated that defender, Kevan Miller, would make a return to the lineup in place of Connor Clifton, while Tuukka Rask would get the start in net on Friday.

Jaroslav Halak is expected to serve as Rask’s backup with Jeremy Swayman earning the night off in the press box as a healthy scratch after making 29 saves on 30 shots against in Thursday’s win.

Boston will be without Ondrej Kase, Brandon Carlo, John Moore, Trent Frederic and Patrice Bergeron as Kase and Carlo did not travel with the team for their current road trip, Moore is out for the rest of the season due to a hip injury and Frederic is still recovering from a non-COVID protocol related illness.

Bergeron was withheld from pregame warmup with a lower body injury.

Cassidy told reporters earlier in the week that while Kase is not regressing, he has still yet to return to full capacity at practice and would require some game action before making any swift lineup adjustments down the stretch as the Bruins are inside of 10 games remaining in the regular season after Friday night’s action.

The B’s (27-12-6, 60 points) are 4th place in the MassMutual NHL East Division entering their 46th game of this season’s 56-game schedule, while Buffalo is last in the division with a 12-28-7 record (31 points).

Boston is 13-6-3 on the road this season and 8-2-0 in their last ten games, while the Sabres are 5-16-4 on home ice and 4-5-1 in their last ten games.

The Bruins are 147-113-29-12 in 301 regular season meetings against the Sabres all time with 966 goals for and 932 goals against in that span.

Boston is 32-25-1-7 in 65 games at KeyBank Center since the building was opened in 1996, though Buffalo has outscored the Bruins, 177-168, in that span.

Brad Marchand leads the Bruins in scoring with 25-32–57 totals in 43 games, while Bergeron (18-23–41 totals in 48 games) and David Pastrnak (18-23–41 totals in 38 games) round out the top-three in team scoring this season.

Pastrnak is two goals away from his 200th career NHL goal. He has 198-222–420 totals in 428 career NHL games since being drafted by Boston in the 1st round (25th overall) of the 2014 NHL Draft.

Sam Reinhart leads the Sabres in scoring with 17-13–30 totals in 45 games this season, while Victor Olofsson (12-15–27 totals in 47 games) and Rasmus Dahlin (4-16–20 totals in 47 games) rank second and third in scoring for Buffalo.

Rask (11-4-2, 2.22 goals-against average, .916 save percentage in 18 games played) is expected to get the start for the Bruins after having Thursday night off. He had a 32-save shutout in Boston’s, 2-0, win in Buffalo on Monday.

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen is set to make his National Hockey League debut in the crease for the Sabres since he was drafted in the 2nd round (54th overall) by Buffalo in 2017.

He posted a 1.80 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage in six games for Finland at the 2019 IIHF World Junior tournament and has a 3.60 goals-against average and an .888 save percentage in 14 games for the Rochester Americans (AHL) this season.

Boston is currently 2-0-0 on their five-game road trip with a pair of games in Pittsburgh after Friday night’s action in Buffalo before returning home to face the Sabres to close out the month of April.

Expected lineups

Boston Bruins

63 Brad Marchand (A) 13 Charlie Coyle 88 David Pastrnak

71 Taylor Hall 46 David Krejci (A) 12 Craig Smith

21 Nick Ritchie 20 Curtis Lazar 74 Jake DeBrusk

81 Anton Blidh 52 Sean Kuraly 14 Chris Wagner

48 Matt Grzlecyk 73 Charlie McAvoy

6 Mike Reilly 86 Kevan Miller (A)

55 Jeremy Lauzon 44 Steven Kampfer

40 Tuukka Rask

41 Jaroslav Halak

Healthy scratches, injured and taxi squad members (officially TBA, below is only a prediction based on last game)

Jeremy Swayman, Trent Frederic (illness), Greg McKegg, Brandon Carlo (upper body), John Moore (hip), Ondrej Kase (upper body), Jack Ahcan, Urho Vaakanainen, Jakub Zboril, Callum Booth, Connor Clifton, Anton Blidh, Karson Kuhlman, Jarred Tinordi, Kevan Miller (right knee)

Buffalo Sabres

53 Jeff Skinner 23 Sam Reinhart 68 Victor Olofsson

74 Rasmus Asplund 37 Casey Mittelstadt 72 Tage Thompson

96 Anders Bjork 24 Dylan Cozens 25 Arttu Ruotsalainen

13 Tobias Rieder 15 Riley Sheahan 91 Drake Caggiula

54 Mattias Samuelsson 55 Rasmus Ristolainen

26 Rasmus Dahlin 10 Henri Jokiharju

78 Jacob Bryson 3 Will Borgen

1 Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen

31 Dustin Tokarski

Healthy scratches, injured and taxi squad members (officially TBA, below is only a prediction based on last game)

Jack Eichel (lower body), Cody Eakin, Colin Miller, Linus Ullmark, Carter Hutton, Matt Irwin

Goaltending stats entering Thursday

Boston Bruins

1 Jeremy Swayman 5-1-0 in 6 GP, 1.65 GAA, .943 SV%, 1 SO

40 Tuukka Rask 10-4-2 in 17 GP, 2.35 GAA, .910 SV%, 1 SO

41 Jaroslav Halak 9-5-3 in 17 GP, 2.44 GAA, .910 SV%, 2 SO

70 Callum Booth 0-0-0 in 0 GP, 0.00 GAA, .000 SV%, 0 SO

80 Dan Vladar 2-2-1 in 5 GP, 3.40 GAA, .886 SV%, 0 SO

Buffalo Sabres

1 Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen 0-0-0 in 0 GP, 0.00 GAA, .000 SV%, 0 SO

31 Dustin Tokarski 2-7-2 in 11 GP, 3.23 GAA, .914 SV%, 0 SO

32 Michael Houser 0-0-0 in 0 GP, 0.00 GAA, .000 SV%, 0 SO

35 Linus Ullmark 9-6-3 in 20 GP, 2.63 GAA, .917 SV%, 0 SO

40 Carter Hutton 1-10-1 in 13 GP, 3.47 GAA, .886 SV%, 0 SO

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NHL Nick's Net

Rask earns 51st career shutout in, 2-0, win in Buffalo

Brad Marchand and Connor Clifton scored the only goals while Tuukka Rask (11-4-2, 2.22 goals-against average, .916 save percentage in 18 games played) made 32 saves in a, 2-0, shutout win for the Boston Bruins over the Buffalo Sabres Tuesday night at KeyBank Center.

Rask picked up his first shutout of the season and 51st of his career, while Dustin Tokarski (2-6-2, 3.05 goals-against average, .918 save percentage in 10 games played) stopped 39 out of 41 shots faced for a .951 save percentage in the loss for Buffalo.

The Bruins improved to 26-12-6 (58 points) on the season and in command of 4th place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while the Sabres fell to 12-27-7 (31 points) overall and in last place in the same division.

The B’s also improved to 4-0-0 against Buffalo this season.

The Bruins were without the services of Ondrej Kase (upper body), John Moore (hip), Brandon Carlo (upper body), Trent Frederic (non-COVID protocol related illness), Kevan Miller (undisclosed) and Jaroslav Halak (COVID protocol) on Tuesday.

Kase and Carlo did not travel with the team for their five-game road trip, while Miller traveled with the club and is “better” according to head coach, Bruce Cassidy.

After missing 18 games this season, most recently due to an upper body injury sustained on April 10th in Philadelphia, Matt Grzelcyk returned to the lineup on defense.

Jakub Zboril was back too after missing a game due to a non-COVID protocol related illness.

Cassidy made no changes among his forwards, while slotting Grzelcyk in on the left side of the first defensive pairing with Charlie McAvoy and moving Jeremy Lauzon to the third pairing with Zboril.

Mike Reilly and Clifton remained paired on the second defensive pairing while Jarred Tinordi and Steven Kampfer joined Frederic, Greg McKegg, Carlo, Moore, Kase, Halak, Jack Ahcan, Urho Vaakanainen, Callum Booth, Anton Blidh, Karson Kuhlman, Tinordi and Miller on Boston’s long list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and injured players.

Ahcan and Vaakanainen were recalled to the taxi squad depending on your source for American Hockey League transactions (CapFriendly, the AHL transactions page itself, TSN or CBS Sports), meanwhile Zach Senyshyn was sent to the Providence Bruins (AHL) over the weekend with Dan Vladar.

Editor’s note: Also apparently McKegg’s been erroneously forgotten from the taxi squad in these lineup notes/recaps since early April. My bad. Please forgive me, Greg.

Midway through the opening frame, Marchand (24) backhanded a rebound over Tokarski while the Sabres goaltender reached to trap the loose puck.

David Pastrnak (22) and Reilly (22) had the assists on Marchand’s goal as the Bruins jumped out to a, 1-0, lead at 8:06 of the first period.

Moments later, Jake DeBrusk cut a rut to the penalty box for hooking former teammate turned newest skater in Buffalo, Anders Bjork at 11:17.

The Sabres weren’t able to convert on the ensuing skater advantage, however.

There were no more goals or penalties as the first period came to a close with Boston ahead, 1-0, on the scoreboard and both teams tied, 9-9, in shots on goal.

Buffalo held the lead in takeaways (3-1) and giveaways (3-2), while the B’s had the advantage in hits (7-3) and faceoff win percentage (69-31) after one period.

Both teams had five blocked shots each, while the Sabres were 0/1 on the power play and the Bruins had yet to see time on the skater advantage.

Early in the middle frame, Clifton (1) threw a shot on goal from the point that trickled through Tokarski and was kicked in by the Buffalo netminder, giving Boston a two-goal lead.

Sean Kuraly (3) and Curtis Lazar (5) had the assists on Clifton’s first goal since Nov. 19, 2019, and the Bruins led, 2-0, at 3:03 of the second period.

Midway through the middle period, Marchand elbowed Henri Jokiharju and received a minor infraction at 11:04 as a result.

Buffalo’s power play was short lived, however, as Rasmus Ristolainen laid out Lauzon in front of the net for no apparent reason at 12:10, resulting in 4-on-4 action for about 56 seconds before the B’s had an abbreviated power play.

Through 40 minutes of action on Tuesday, Boston led Buffalo, 2-0, on the scoreboard, as well as in shots on goal, 27-15, including an, 18-6, advantage in the second period alone.

The Bruins held the advantage in hits (13-6) and faceoff win% (65-35), while the Sabres led in blocked shots (11-9), takeaways (7-4) and giveaways (6-4).

Buffalo was 0/2 and Boston was 0/1 on the power play entering the second intermission.

There were no goals scored in the third period, though there were plenty of chances to score on the skater advantage as multiple penalties were called on both clubs in the final frame.

Drake Caggiula interfered with Pastrnak and presented Boston with the first power play of the third period at 1:05, but the Bruins were unsuccessful in assuring themselves of complete dominance over the Sabres.

Instead, McAvoy roughed Jeff Skinner at 8:03, but Buffalo’s power play was cut short when Sam Reinhart tripped Clifton and sent the Bruins defender face first into the boards as a result.

The two squads skated at 4-on-4 for a little under 90 seconds as Reinhart cut a rut to the sin bin at 8:30 of the third period.

Moments later, Craig Smith caught Mattias Samuelsson with a high stick at 12:41, but Buffalo couldn’t muster anything on the power play.

Nor could the Sabres score when Nick Ritchie slashed Jacob Bryson at 16:59 and Lauzon followed his teammate in the box at 17:26 for roughing Victor Olofsson along the wall.

No, Buffalo, despite having a 6-on-3 advantage– having pulled Tokarski for an extra attacker– could not establish much of an attacking zone presence while on the power play late in the game.

The team looked all but defeated before they were, in fact, actually defeated.

At the final horn, not only had the Bruins killed off their minors, but they actually were on the power play as time expired since the Sabres had seven skaters on the ice while in possession of the puck at 19:06– yielding an automatic delay of game penalty for too many skaters.

At the final horn, Boston shutout Buffalo, 2-0, on the scoreboard and finished the night leading in shots on goal, 41-32, as well, despite the Sabres leading in shots in the third period alone, 17-14.

Buffalo finished the action leading in blocked shots (15-11), while the B’s wrapped up Tuesday night leading in hits (15-9) and faceoff win% (61-39).

Both teams had seven giveaways aside, while the Sabres were 0/6 and the Bruins were 0/4 on the power play.

Boston improved to 18-4-3 (9-4-1 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal, 15-0-2 (7-0-1 on the road) when leading after the first period and 17-0-2 (6-0-0 on the road) when leading after two periods this season.

Buffalo dropped to 5-22-2 (2-14-1 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 3-17-0 (1-11-0 at home) when trailing after one period and 1-23-2 (1-14-1 at home) when trailing after the second period in 2020-21.

The Bruins take on the Sabres in Buffalo on Thursday and Friday before venturing to Pittsburgh next week and hosting Buffalo to close out the month of April. Boston is 1-0-0 on their current five-game road trip.

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Bruins Forecast NHL Nick's Net Projected Stats Tracker

Boston Bruins 2020-21 Forecast Through 40 Games

“The stretch” is here. No, not the 7th inning stretch. It’s the Push for the Playoffs™️ as the NHL on NBC broadcasts will tell you.

Sure, the Boston Bruins have played 43 games and this forecast is already a little behind, but this time of year is loaded with things to do, stats to track and storylines to follow.

At least it’s not as far behind as other forecasts I still owe.

Everything that you’re about to see is done by hand. Kind of.

Sure, it all started in Microsoft Excel then migrated over to a GoogleDoc one day, but the premise is the same– I have no idea what I am doing.

My degree is in communication and my minor was in sport management. As part of my “Gen Ed” requirement to graduate, I got a “C” in Intro to Stats. Later, one of my sport management professors taught me how to use the “forecast” function in Excel (shouts Dr. Lyons).

It’s been four years since being told to step out of line and wait off to the side while my school searched high and low to find my diploma only to realize that it had been on the table in front of them the whole time (yes, this is a true story– my roommate even called me wondering where the hell I was for pictures with everyone).

The rest is history. Let’s get to talking about Boston’s forecast through 40 games, shall we?

First year players are hard to predict (if not impossible altogether) until they’ve had some experience in the National Hockey League under their belts. At least a game will make do, though their numbers will look a tad inflated until more time goes by and reality sets in.

That’s just a blanket statement that usually comes with an example– like Zach Senyshyn in recent years– though after 40 team games in a 56-game regular season schedule, there’s not enough data (this season, forecasted or otherwise) to really point out where making bets on a young player’s forecasted stats might be inadvisable.

Forecast is not pace.

While looking things over in both this current forecast and previous editions, please remember that there’s many variables that can (and will) disrupt a player’s season like injuries, lineup changes (being a healthy scratch, taxi squad member or otherwise), other American Hockey League related or waiver related transactions, trades, sickness, COVID protocol and intangible things like general superstitions, hot and cold streaks, etc.

Sadly, nobody’s been able to find a way to quantify all of that in a forecast function 2.0. In a perfect world, every player plays a full season.

Every player can reach, exceed or miss expectations in an exciting game of collective actions and puck luck. Unpredictability is part of many reasons why we watch sports.


Boston Bruins Forecast Through 40 Games Played (16 Games Remaining)

Brad Marchand remains on track to receive Hart Memorial Trophy attention as he’s in the midst of having a strong pull in Boston’s playoff direction.

The Bruins winger is forecasted to have 23-38–61 totals when all is said and done in 2020-21, which would’ve put him on pace for about 90 points in a regular length 82-game season had the ongoing pandemic never happened.

For the first time this season, David Pastrnak (17-19–36 forecasted totals) is not forecasted to lead his team in goals.

Instead, Marchand and Patrice Bergeron (23-28–51 forecasted totals) are forecasted to split the team lead in goals with 23 each, while Pastrnak trails with the second-most (17).

Nick Ritchie and Craig Smith are on track for 13 and 12 goals, respectively, as some of the better components of Boston’s depth this season, while third line center, Charlie Coyle’s down year continues with seven forecasted goals this season, which… …actually isn’t that bad?

Sure, 2021 hasn’t been the best year for Coyle, but it seems like a “bad year” for Coyle works much in the same that a “bad year” does for David Krejci.

It’s not that Coyle and Krejci are superhuman, but rather just human.

Plus, Krejci has already surpassed the four goals that he was forecasted to score in this 40 team games played model. Relax, folks. Every year can’t be golden.

On defense, Charlie McAvoy leads the team in points from the blue line with 7-30–37 forecasted totals, while newcomer Mike Reilly continues to impress with 22 forecasted assists (that’ll probably be too few).

In the meantime, upon returning to full health, Matt Grzelcyk can carve out 19 points in a battered season for Boston’s defenders.

While Reilly is destined to continue being a playmaker from the back end, newly acquired forwards Taylor Hall and Curtis Lazar are each expected to contribute offensively with Hall forecasted for 30 points by season’s end alongside Krejci and Smith, while Lazar should be good for 12 points on the season from the fourth line.

Oh and as for the since departed Anders Bjork? Well, at the time of the trade, he was forecasted to produce eight points this season.

That said, with consistent ice time in a top-six role in Buffalo, the new Sabres forward could yield respectable double-digit totals in such a short timespan. Nothing crazy, but 10 points or more isn’t out of reach if he was already on track to get about eight.

As long as the Bruins’ new-found offense can continue to produce and spur bottom-six scoring, then there’s a good chance with enough time to heal that the B’s can reset themselves on course for a playoff run with something to prove.

Sure the 2021 Expansion Draft for the Seattle Kraken got a bit more complicated with pending-unrestricted free agents in Hall and Reilly added to the fold, but if this is truly it for Boston’s core with Bergeron, Krejci, Marchand and Tuukka Rask (Krejci and Rask also being pending-UFA’s) then the time is now to go all-in and go for it.

Rask (2.20-2.22 forecasted goals-against average, .919-.923 forecasted save percentage) is expected to be rejuvenated by a decreased workload due to injury and the emergence of a hot hand in Jeremy Swayman– Boston’s fourth-string goaltender that, along with Dan Vladar, has literally saved the season.

Upon Jaroslav Halak’s (2.43-2.46 forecasted goals-against average, .913-.917 forecasted save percentage) return from COVID protocol, there’s a chance the usual duo of netminders for the Bruins could show signs of rust as they ease back into the routine for the long run.

That’s where Swayman and his best case scenario 2.22 forecasted goals-against average and .926 forecasted save percentage can provide relief as the B’s workout a three goaltender rotation similar to the Carolina Hurricanes’ situation with Petr Mrazek, James Reimer and Alex Nedeljkovic.

Whether it was inevitable that the NHL as a whole adopts a three-goaltender system because goaltending tandems were already catching on or simply a product of the contemporary times in a pandemic whereby carrying a third goaltender becomes a necessity by default, it’s not a bad idea for Boston to assess what they’ve got for the future.

Next season could very well be Rask and Swayman in net if the Bruins re-sign No. 40 this summer as the Finnish goaltender has indicated he’d like to be part of Boston’s transition in the crease a la the days of the transfer in power from Tim Thomas to Rask himself.

For a look at how things might have gone for the Bruins entering the 2020-21 season, feel free to read the original forecast through zero games played and how things looked through 20 games played.

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NHL Nick's Net

Trio of Bruins record pair of goals in eventful, 6-3, win over Capitals

Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Krejci each had a pair of goals in a, 6-3, win for the Boston Bruins over the Washington Capitals on Sunday afternoon at TD Garden.

A pair of milestones were met for both the team (21,000 goals) and Marchand (700 career points) as Tuukka Rask (10-4-2, 2.36 goals-against average, .910 save percentage in 17 games played) made 30 saves on 33 shots against for Boston en route to the win.

Washington goaltender, Vitek Vanecek (17-9-3, 2.77 goals-against average, .908 save percentage in 31 games played) stopped 22 out of 27 shots faced in the loss.

The Bruins improved to 25-12-6 (56 points) and remained in command of 4th place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while the Capitals fell to 29-12-4 (62 points) overall and in command of the division lead.

Boston also improved to 4-1-2 against Washington this season with the win.

The Bruins were without Ondrej Kase (upper body), John Moore (hip), Brandon Carlo (upper body), Trent Frederic (non-COVID protocol related illness), Matt Grzelcyk (upper body), Kevan Miller (undisclosed), Jakub Zboril (non-COVID protocol related illness) and Jaroslav Halak (COVID protocol) on Sunday.

Grzelcyk may travel with the team this week as the B’s hit the road, while Miller remains day-to-day and Halak could rejoin the group on Monday at practice.

Head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made one lineup change on defense with Zboril out due to an illness, Jarred Tinordi took Zboril’s spot on the third defensive pairing for Boston.

Frederic, Carlo, Moore, Kase, Halak, Grzelcyk, Jack Ahcan, Zboril, Callum Booth, Anton Blidh, Karson Kuhlman and Miller were on the long list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and/or injured players for Boston on Sunday, while Dan Vladar was reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Saturday.

Ahcan had been reassigned to Providence, but was recalled to the taxi squad on Saturday ahead of Sunday afternoon’s matinée matchup with Washington.

The Capitals were without Zdeno Chara (lower body) after he blocked a shot in Saturday’s, 6-3, win in Philadelphia against the Flyers. The former Bruins captain received a standing ovation from the TD Garden crowd in his first game back in Boston with fans on April 11th.

Dmitry Orlov hooked Marchand 35 seconds into the action Sunday afternoon, presenting the Bruins with the game’s first power play.

Boston did not convert on the skater advantage, however.

Midway through the opening frame, Connor Clifton caught Lars Eller with a high stick that resulted in a four-minute double minor infraction. Washington had an extended power play at 8:53 of the first period as a result.

Late in the penalty kill, the Bruins worked the puck out of their own zone, whereby Capitals defender, John Carlson, went to battle along the endboards with Marchand for possession.

Marchand got just enough of a touch on the puck as Carlson chipped it off of the Bruins winger’s stick prior to the rubber biscuit deflecting to an open space in the slot whereby Bergeron (17) scooped it up and pulled it to his backhand for a shot that beat Vanecek and gave Boston the game’s first goal.

Marchand (30) had the only assist Bergeron’s shorthanded goal as the Bruins pulled ahead, 1-0, at 12:02 of the first period on their eighth shorthanded goal this season– tying the Montreal Canadiens for the most in 2020-21.

Less than a couple minutes later, Krejci (4) received a pass through the low slot and one-timed a shot past Vanecek after Craig Smith and Clifton did a tremendous job working the puck low into the zone, then over to No. 46 in black and gold.

Clifton (6) and Smith (16) tallied the assists on Krejci’s goal as the Bruins took a, 2-0, lead at 13:56.

Late in the period, Mike Reilly got beat while pinching at the blue line, thus leaving Charlie McAvoy as the lone B’s defender in his own zone, whereby Nicklas Backstrom waltzed around the young Boston skater with a deke before getting a shot on Rask.

T.J. Oshie (15) scored on the rebound to cut Boston’s lead in half and get the Capitals on the board, 2-1.

Backstrom (32) had the only assist on the goal at 19:50.

After the horn to signify the end of the first period, Garnet Hathaway delivered a late check on Jeremy Lauzon along the boards.

The Bruins did not take kindly to Hathaway’s rejection of the unwritten “code” and a scrum ensued.

Nic Dowd and Curtis Lazar each received roughing minors as a result, yielding penalties at 20:00 of the first period and a pair of minutes at 4-on-4 to start the middle frame.

Entering the first intermission, the B’s led, 2-1, on the scoreboard, despite trailing the Capitals, 14-10, in shots on goal.

Washington held the advantage in blocked shots (4-3) and hits (16-13), while Boston led in takeaways (4-3) and faceoff win percentage (72-28) after one period.

Both teams had one giveaway each, while the Caps were 0/2 and the Bruins were 0/1 on the power play heading into the second period.

Clifton caught Conor Sheary with a high stick at 2:53 of the second period and presented the Capitals with an extended power play as a result of Sheary going down to the ice with an injury, resulting in a double-minor infraction for the young Bruins defender.

Washington capitalized on the ensuing power play as Backstrom dished a pass to Evgeny Kuznetsov behind the net for the setup to Oshie (16) for a one-timer over Rask’s glove on the short side– tying the game, 2-2, in the process.

Kuznetsov (17) and Backstrom (33) had the assists on Oshie’s second goal of the afternoon– and a power-play goal at that– at 3:48 of the second period.

About a minute later, Anthony Mantha (15) scored on a catch and release shot past Rask’s stick side while the Caps had a net front presence to screen the Bruins goaltender.

Orlov (8) and Eller (14) had the assists on Mantha’s power-play goal as the Capitals took the lead for the first time Sunday afternoon, 3-2, at 4:54.

The Bruins didn’t take long to respond, however, as Marchand (22) was fed a pass from David Pastrnak and beat Vanecek with a backhand shot to tie the game, 3-3, at 6:33.

Pastrnak (19) and Bergeron (22) had the assists on Marchand’s first goal of the game.

Midway through the period, Hathaway was assessed a holding minor at 13:55 and the B’s went on the power play as a result. Boston did not score on the resulting power play, however.

The Bruins caught the Capitals in the vulnerable minute after a skater advantage, though, as Krejci (5) received a pass and held the puck long enough for Orlov to dive and slide away before sending a quick shot over Vanecek’s glove side.

Smith (17) and Taylor Hall (18) notched the assists on Krejci’s second goal of the afternoon and the Bruins led, 4-3, at 16:02 of the second period.

About a minute later, Bergeron (18) had his second goal of the game on a one-timer from Pastrnak to give Boston another two-goal lead, 5-3, at 17:45.

Pastrnak (20) and Marchand (31) had the assists on the Bergeron’s goal, which marked the 21,000th goal in franchise history.

Late in the period, Rask had a broken stick and was playing with about half of a paddle and blade (goaltenders are allowed to play with a broken stick, for the record), which led to Reilly hooking Oshie to prevent Washington from establishing an attacking zone presence.

In the process, Reilly received a hooking minor and presented the Caps with a power play at 19:47 that would carry over into the final frame of regulation.

Through 40 minutes of play on Sunday, the Bruins led the Capitals, 5-3, on the scoreboard, despite trailing, 25-20, in shots on goal, including an, 11-10, advantage for Washington in the second period alone.

The Caps held the advantage in hits (25-21), while the B’s led in takeaways (7-6) and faceoff win% (62-39).

Both teams had six blocked shots and two giveaways each, while the Capitals were 2/5 and the Bruins were 0/2 on the power play heading into the final frame.

Tom Wilson caught Sean Kuraly while he was falling with a late hit that left Kuraly stunned and slow to get off the ice. There was no penalty on the play, similar to when Wilson knocked Carlo out of contention with a blindside hit on March 5th.

Carlo has missed 20 games since, despite appearing in one game on April 1st against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a, 4-1, loss.

Tinordi was the only player heading to the penalty box for roughing Wilson in response to his hit on Kuraly on Saturday. Washington went on the power play at 5:52 of the third period, but did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Shortly thereafter, Hathaway boarded Tinordi– cutting the Bruins defender open in the process as his visor smacked the boards first.

Initially, there was no call, nor a whistle for Tinordi while he bled out on the ice.

Divine intervention from the NHL’s office in Toronto, however, delivered a five-minute major penalty for boarding, as well as a match penalty for Hathaway– ending the Capitals forward’s afternoon early.

Boston went on the power play at 9:21 as Daniel Sprong skated to the sin bin to serve Hathaway’s major, but the B’s couldn’t muster anything past Washington’s penalty kill and Vanecek in the extended skater advantage.

With 2:18 remaining in the action, Capitals head coach, Peter Laviolette, pulled his netminder for an extra attacker, but it was to no avail.

Boston worked the puck free from their own zone, whereby Pastrnak hit Marchand with a pass through the neutral zone.

Marchand (23) looked to make a move to Bergeron for the hat trick, but settled for an empty net goal for himself at 18:16– assisted by Pastrnak (21) in the process and completing a four-point game for No. 63 in black and gold.

The empty net goal also marked the 700th career point for Marchand– becoming the ninth player in a Bruins uniform to record at least 700 points in franchise history in the process– as the B’s led, 6-3.

At the final horn, Boston had beaten Washington, 6-3, despite finishing the afternoon trailing in shots on goal, 33-28.

The Bruins finished Sunday’s action leading in blocked shots (12-9) and faceoff win% (55-46), while the Capitals ended the action leading in giveaways (6-2) and hits (33-28).

Washington finished the game 2/6 on the power play, while the B’s were 0/3 on the skater advantage.

Despite their lack of power play success on Sunday, the Bruins extended their winning streak to four games.

Boston also improved to 17-4-3 (9-0-2 at home) when scoring the game’s first goal, 14-0-2 (8-0-1 at home) when leading after the first period and 16-0-2 (11-0-2 at home) when leading after two periods this season.

Washington fell to 9-8-2 (4-4-1 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 4-8-1 (1-5-0 on the road) when trailing after one period and 2-9-0 (0-5-0 on the road) when losing after the second period in 2020-21.

After going 4-1-0 in their five-game homestand, the Bruins hit the road for the next five games including three stops in Buffalo and two stops in Pittsburgh before returning home to close out the month of April on the 29th against the Sabres.

Boston’s week ahead features stops in Buffalo on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday before heading to Pittsburgh next week.