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NHL Nick's Net

Marchand helps Bruins beat Devils, 3-2, in shootout victory

The Boston Bruins kicked off the 2020-21 regular season with a, 3-2, shootout win against New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Thursday night.

Tuukka Rask (1-0-0, 1.85 goals against average, .909 save percentage in one game played, one start) made 20 saves on 22 shots faced in the shootout win for the Bruins.

Mackenzie Blackwood (0-0-1, 1.85 goals against average, .946 save percentage in one game played, one start) turned aside 35 out of 37 shots against in the shootout loss for the Devils.

Boston improved to 1-0-0 (two points) on the season, while New Jersey fell to 0-0-1 (one point) on the season.

B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, improved to 162-66-34 in 262 games with Boston.

Devils head coach, Lindy Ruff, kicked off his new gig with a shootout loss as both teams will face each other seven more times this season in the temporarily realigned MassMutual NHL East Division for the 2020-21 season.

For the first time in franchise history (97 seasons), the Bruins will not face the Montreal Canadiens at all in the regular season due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and resulting temporary division realignment with the United States’ border with Canada currently closed.

Prior to Thursday night’s action in New Jersey, Patrice Bergeron was named the 20th captain in franchise history on Jan. 6th, replacing Zdeno Chara, who served as the club’s captain from 2006-20, before departing for the Washington Capitals in free agency on Dec. 30, 2020.

David Krejci and Brad Marchand will serve as alternate captains for Boston this season.

Krejci has been an alternate captain since the 2013-14 season, while Marchand has worn an “A” on his jersey off-and-on since the 2018-19 season.

As a result of the ongoing global pandemic, teams are allowed to carry extra players on a “taxi squad” that will not count against their daily salary cap limit.

The Bruins have not announced who they will utilize on their “taxi squad” this season, but Trent Frederic, Urho Vaakanainen, Jack Studnicka, Dan Vladar and Greg McKegg all made the trip to New Jersey with the team.

David Pastrnak (hip surgery in the offseason) was out of the lineup against the Devils Thursday night, but is expected to return to play ahead of schedule since his original prognosis when he underwent a right hip arthroscopy and labral repair on Sept. 16th.

Craig Smith (lower body injury) missed Thursday night’s action and is yet to make his B’s debut since signing a three-year contract worth $3.100 million per season on Oct. 10th.

Cassidy made a few adjustments to his lines as a result of the injuries and free agency departures in the offseason.

The first line consisted of Marchand at left wing, Bergeron at center and Studnicka on right wing.

Rounding out the top-six forwards on the second line were Ondrej Kase, David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk.

Charlie Coyle centered the third line with Nick Ritchie at his left side and Anders Bjork on his right side, while Sean Kuraly centered the fourth line with Frederic and Chris Wagner as his wings.

On defense, Cassidy started Matt Grzelcyk and Kevan Miller– honoring Miller in his first game back in 651 days since multiple knee injuries dating back to April 2019.

Jeremy Lauzon was paired with Charlie McAvoy and Jakub Zboril was partnered with Brandon Carlo.

Karson Kuhlman remains in COVID protocol, while Par Lindholm, John Moore and Connor Clifton were healthy scratches. Smith and Pastrnak were out of the lineup due to their injuries.

Early in the opening frame, Jesper Boqvist slashed Frederic and presented the Bruins with their first power play opportunity of the night at 6:14 of the first period.

Boston’s skater advantage didn’t last long as Grzelcyk caught Yegor Sharangovich with a slash at 7:16.

After an abbreviated period of 4-on-4 action followed by a short New Jersey power play, neither team could muster anything on the scoresheet.

McAvoy laid out Sharangovich with a crushing hit at 13:19, but was too far from the puck and assessed a minor infraction for interference.

The Devils were not successful on the ensuing power play, however.

Late in the first frame, Miles Wood collided with Rask and cut a rut to the box with a goaltender interference infraction at 17:02.

Boston didn’t waste much time getting to work on the resulting power play as Marchand (1) one-timed a redirection past Blackwood from just outside the crease to give the Bruins the first lead of the night, 1-0.

Krejci (1) and Bergeron (1) notched the assists on Marchand’s power-play goal at 17:40 of the first period.

Entering the first intermission, the Bruins were dominating in possession, on the scoreboard, 1-0, and in shots on goal, 16-4.

The B’s also held the advantage in faceoff win percentage, 67-33.

New Jersey, meanwhile, led in blocked shots (7-3), giveaways (8-2) and hits (12-5), while both teams had one takeaway each in the first 20 minutes of game action.

The Devils were 0/2 and the Bruins were 1/2 on the power play entering the middle frame.

Kuraly tripped Sharangovich at 2:41 of the second period and presented New Jersey with an early skater advantage in the period, but Boston’s penalty kill remained strong.

McAvoy was guilty of hooking Janne Kuokkanen at 7:56, but once again New Jersey’s power play couldn’t score.

Midway through the game, the Devils committed a bench minor for too many skaters on the ice at 10:53.

Newcomer, Andreas Johnsson, (acquired in the offseason via a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs) served the penalty while Boston’s power play went powerless.

Through 40 minutes of play on Thursday, the Bruins held onto the, 1-0, lead and led in shots on goal, 26-11– including a, 10-7, advantage in the second period alone.

New Jersey led in blocked shots (10-6), takeaways (6-2), giveaways (16-4) and hits (20-8), while Boston led in faceoff win% (63-37) after two periods.

The Devils were 0/4 on the power play, while the B’s were 1/3 entering the dressing room for the second intermission.

Kuokkanen was penalized for holding Kuraly and yielded another power play to Boston at 6:18 of the third period.

Shortly after killing off the infraction, Wood (1) broke free from the Bruins’ defense and snapped a shot over Rask’s blocker side to tie the game, 1-1, at 8:51 of the final frame of regulation.

Jack Hughes (1) had the only assist on Wood’s goal.

Moments later, Krejci hooked Travis Zajac and was sent to the sin bin at 10:14, but New Jersey’s power play didn’t last long as Wood ran into Rask again and picked up another goaltender interference infraction at 11:13.

The two clubs had about a minute of 4-on-4 action before an abbreviated power play followed for the Bruins.

Ritchie (1) scored a close range goal similar to Marchand’s to put the B’s back on top, 2-1, with a power-play goal of his own.

Marchand (1) and Grzelcyk (1) tallied the assists on Ritchie’s goal at 13:12, but Boston didn’t hold the lead for long as they surrendered a wacky goal 34 seconds later.

Ty Smith (1) scored his first career National Hockey League goal as the last Devils player to touch the puck before it bounced off of McAvoy, then Lauzon, Lauzon’s stick, McAvoy again and finally floated over Rask and into the twine.

The fluke goal tied the game, 2-2, and was assisted by Matt Tennyson (1) and Hughes (2) at 13:46 of the third period.

At the end of regulation, the score remained even, despite Boston outshooting the Devils, 35-18.

The Bruins had a, 9-7, advantage in shots on goal in the third period alone, while New Jersey led in blocked shots (13-6), takeaways (11-3), giveaways (19-6) and hits (26-13) after regulation.

Boston led in faceoff win%, 58-42, entering overtime.

As no penalties were called in the extra frame, the Bruins finished the night 2/5 on the power play, while the Devils went 0/5 on the skater advantage.

The two teams swapped chances in overtime– including a couple of heart-stopping moments where the Devils nearly completed the comeback, but neither side could seal the deal on an overtime win.

Despite Cassidy’s best efforts starting Coyle, DeBrusk and McAvoy in overtime, as well as Ruff’s lineup of Hughes, Kyle Palmieri and P.K. Subban in 3-on-3 OT, a shootout was necessary.

The Bruins finished the night leading in shots on goal, 37-22, despite being outshot, 4-2, in overtime alone.

New Jersey finished Thursday’s effort leading in blocked shots (14-7), giveaways (19-6) and hits (26-13), while the Bruins settled for the final advantage in faceoff win% (57-43).

The Devils elected to shoot first in the shootout and sent Nikita Gusev out to get the job in round one, but Rask stoned him cold as Gusev attempted to go five-hole on the veteran netminder.

Coyle was denied by Blackwood with a pad save as the Bruins forward tried to pull the New Jersey goaltender out of position.

Boqvist was stopped by Rask in a routine save while Kase couldn’t sneak one past Blackwood’s blocker side in the second round of the shootout.

After Hughes lost the puck while attempting to dangle his way into the low slot, Cassidy sent Marchand to try to get the win for Boston.

Marchand came through for his coach and the rest of the Bruins with an off-tempo shot through Blackwood’s five-hole after getting the New Jersey goaltender to commit to his fake handiwork before taking the shot.

The Bruins won the shootout, 1-0, after three rounds and clinched the, 3-2, shootout victory over the Devils to start the 2020-21 season.

It was Boston’s first shootout win since Feb. 20, 2019, when the B’s downed the Vegas Golden Knights on the road in what was also a, 3-2, shootout victory.

With the win, the Bruins improved to 1-0-0 when leading after the first period, 1-0-0 when leading after the second period, 1-0-0 when scoring the game’s first goal and 1-0 in shootouts (1-0 past regulation) this season.

Boston continues their three-game road trip on Saturday afternoon with a rematch against the Devils in New Jersey at 1 p.m. ET before heading to Nassau Coliseum on Monday (Jan. 18th) for a game with the New York Islanders.

The Bruins return to Boston for their home opener at TD Garden on Jan. 21st against the Philadelphia Flyers.

There will be no fans in attendance in Boston due to COVID-19 restrictions in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

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NHL Nick's Net

Chara, Hoffman and now this?

The Boston Bruins’ long-time captain since the 2006-07 season, 43-year-old Zdeno Chara remains unsigned as the end of the calendar year, 2020, draws near.

Chara’s agent, Matt Keator, has been reported as noting that the defender has had contact from more than 20 teams this offseason, but is focused on re-signing with the Bruins if there’s a deal to be had.

Of course, he could also just flat-out retire.

It’s not that Boston couldn’t use the services of their longtime cornerstone on the blue line, but the Bruins are shaking things up this offseason on defense– partially because of necessity and partially because that’s just how time works.

Torey Krug left for the St. Louis Blues in free agency and guys like Jakub Zboril, Jeremy Lauzon, Connor Clifton and Urho Vaakanainen are all vying for potentially the same couple of spots.

Kevan Miller was brought back on a one-year, $1.250 million deal and John Moore is still on the books through the 2022-23 season at a $2.750 million cap hit.

With a little under $3.000 million in available cap room, the B’s could be looking to sign Chara to a short-term league minimum contract– one-year, $700,000– and present themselves with at least $2.300 million to offer someone like Mike Hoffman or lure back Carl Soderberg into the mix for added scoring touch or depth, respectively.

If they can’t land Hoffman, then Soderberg is likely the best consolation prize as the offseason drags on and two-week quarantine periods might affect how call-ups from the Providence Bruins (AHL) work.

That’s the latest on how AHL roster transactions might be handled this season, by the way. It all depends on what your state, province or region (if short-term bubbles get involved) has to say about moving players within your own organization.

Soderberg might not be better than playing Jack Studnicka every night, but in a pinch he’d be better than nothing.

After all, he did have 35 points in 70 games with the Arizona Coyotes last season and that’s nothing to sneeze at for a bottom-six forward.

As for Chara, it might be a matter of swallowing a little pride.

He certainly is deserving of almost whatever he wants for the career he’s had and role he’s played in Boston’s leadership for almost 15 years.

But if he’s wanting $1.000 million or more for what’s likely his last season in the league, then the Bruins would be smart to bow out unless they’re able to trade someone like Moore and find a durable top-four defender while convincing Chara to minimize his minutes as a bottom-six defender.

Yet that’d mean they wouldn’t be able to find a guy to play on David Krejci’s wing. You know, kind of what they’ve needed since 2015.

As for Hoffman, the one-time 30-goal scorer has reached the 50-point plateau in the last five seasons and somehow remains on the free agent market.

Whereas the Columbus Blue Jackets have about $9.200 million to spend, how much is Hoffman willing to pull a move similar to Taylor Hall’s one-year deal with the Buffalo Sabres and try to match Hall’s $8.000 million cap hit this season?

Columbus could be a great landing spot for the 31-year-old winger, but would the Blue Jackets be spurned by yet another player in free agency next offseason? Especially if John Tortorella is what could be holding players up from staying long-term?

To play with the Blue Jackets you have to be a 200-foot player in accordance with Tortorella’s style. That’s likely to keep Hoffman from possibly capitalizing on short-term monetary gain with limited options elsewhere unless he can do more than just score.

He might be the one-dimensional sniper Columbus needs, but not if General Manager, Jarmo Kekäläinen, and Tortorella can’t see eye-to-eye on the team’s plan.

For the Bruins to sign Hoffman and bring his 29-30–59 totals in 69 games with the Florida Panthers last season to the Hub of the Universe, Boston would have to shed some salary in a swap for either a defender as they’re reportedly looking for or some draft picks.

That’s where Anders Bjork could be a suitable asset to send to a team in return for, like, a third round pick or something.

Nevertheless, Boston’s not the “Cup contenders” that they were going into last season.

They might figure out a way to win the East Division regular season standings or they could finish fourth in the division and barely make their way into the postseason.

Regardless, the Bruins need to land a top-six forward if Craig Smith is to settle in and get comfy on the third line and patch the defense for a short term fix if management thinks otherwise about the team’s “Cup contender” status.

It’s this year or bust– and in a 56-game regular season every early season game matters that much more.

Getting off on the right foot without Brad Marchand (possibly) and David Pastrnak on opening night (and missing Pastrnak for at least a month) is vital.

It’s crunch time.

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NHL Nick's Net

Assessing the Vegas market for Krejci’s wing

While the season’s upon us, there are still a few decisions to made regarding current unsigned free agents and more. Several teams are over the National Hockey League’s $81.5 million salary cap and will need to be compliant before the season begins on Jan. 13th.

One of those teams is the Vegas Golden Knights, who currently sit over the cap at $82,474,104.

Max Pacioretty’s name has come up in the latest round of trade rumors, but he’ll be the first to admit that’s nothing new, since he was subject to many rumors in his time with the Montreal Canadiens for about a decade before the Habs shipped him to Vegas on Sept. 10, 2018, for Tomas Tatar, Nick Suzuki and a 2019 2nd round pick (that originally belonged to the Columbus Blue Jackets and was later flipped to the Los Angeles Kings).

Pacioretty carries a $7.000 million cap hit through the 2022-23 season and has a modified no-trade clause.

Considering his longstanding disdain for the Boston Bruins as an opponent, as well as the fact that Boston doesn’t really have the workable cap space (about $3.000 million) to take on Pacioretty without giving up part of the core, the B’s aren’t likely to take a flyer unless they’re bold enough to go all-in on “win now” mode.

There’s actually something most of the Golden Knights core has in common, however– they all have modified no-trade clauses except for defender, Shea Theodore, who just had a bit of a breakout year (13-33–46 totals in 71 games last season).

It’s not likely that Vegas will shift from scooping up William Karlsson, making him into a 40-goal scorer in their inaugural season, then sending him packing in only their fourth season of existence, but they could try to move someone that’s a little more cap friendly by about $900,000 in annual cap hit.

Jonathan Marchessault has come up in the rumor mill and would be a quality second line asset for the Bruins to inquire about.

He reached the 30-goal plateau in 75 games with the Florida Panthers in 2016-17– his first full season– and has put up three consecutive seasons of 20 goals or more since with the Golden Knights, recording career-highs in assists (48) and points (75) in 77 games with Vegas in 2017-18.

At 29-years-old, Marchessault is in the midst of his prime, can play left or right wing and carries a $5.000 million cap hit through the 2023-24 season.

Though David Krejci is in the final year of his current contract, the Bruins wouldn’t just be looking to land someone that’s compatible with No. 46 on their roster, but rather someone that’s reliable for if and when Krejci moves on and someone like Charlie Coyle or Jack Studnicka slots into the second line center role.

There’s one more familiar face Boston could consider asking Vegas about, though he might have to fight Greg McKegg to get his old number back.

It’s Reilly Smith.

At 29, Smith is also in the midst of his prime and carries a cap hit worth $5.000 million per season through 2021-22, with a modified no-trade clause to boot.

Since departing the Bruins in a trade with the Panthers on July 1, 2015, Smith has become a consistent playoff performer, recording eight points in six games with Florida in 2016, 22 points with Vegas in 20 games en route to losing in five games to the Washington Capitals in the 2018 Stanley Cup Final, six points in Vegas’ seven-game run in 2019 and 14 points in 20 games with the Golden Knights in the 2020 postseason.

Smith’s numbers in the regular season have also been pretty good– reaching at least 40 points in six out of his seven full seasons, including five seasons of 50 or more points and setting a career-high in goals last season with 27 in 71 games.

Since their inaugural season in 2017-18, Smith has worn an “A” on his Golden Knights jersey.

Vegas also presented Pacioretty with an “A” last season, but has never given Marchessault the designation as an alternate captain.

Not that that’s really too much to look into or anything, but all signs seem to indicate it’d be harder to pry one someone from the Golden Knights’ leadership group, let alone their core rather than Marchessault and his versatile style.

Of course, Vegas would also have to be convinced to take something on from Boston and the Bruins wouldn’t exactly be giving Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon and their head coach, Peter DeBoer, much to work with other than cap space.

Anders Bjork signed a three-year extension on July 29th with the Bruins that carries a cap hit of $1.600 million through 2022-23.

He’ll be a pending-restricted free agent by the end of his current deal, which might be incentive for Vegas to latch onto him in any potential trade, but Bjork has struggled to stay healthy and hasn’t exactly dazzled pro scouts with 9-10–19 totals in 58 games last season for the B’s.

Again, though, if Vegas is trying to save money, they might be convinced to take on a reclamation project with a prospect or two and/or a draft pick invovled.

At 24-years-old, Bjork might just need a change of scenery if he can’t tap into his scoring ways with Boston.

Of course, most Bruins fans would like to see Boston’s General Manager, Don Sweeney, try to sell high on Nick Ritchie while he still can– to put it lightly.

Ritchie had 21 points last season in 48 games split between the Anaheim Ducks and Bruins, is 25-years-old and has a $1,498,925 cap hit, which is somehow better than Bjork’s production and value.

He only has one-year left on his current contract, so he’ll be a pending-restricted free agent at season’s end.

But then, of course, there’s a few problems for Boston with trying to move Bjork or Ritchie.

Players are expendable components of the business side of hockey, but they’re human and humans like a little loyalty in their relationships– business or otherwise.

To be signed to an extension over the summer, then dealt to another team before the new season begins or to be acquired at last season’s deadline and moved so early on in your tenure in a new market might put a damper on Boston’s reputation as a free agent destination.

It could also backfire among players with modified no-trade clauses or that are willing to nullify their NTC or no-movement clause, but might reconsider if the Bruins come up in the conversation if that player’s looking for their next stop to have a little more longevity to it.

Oh and there’s the general fact that a team isn’t likely to just hand you a good player for bits and pieces, so Boston could still be working from behind on any potential trades with Vegas.

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Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #208- Lightning Strikes Twice/Offseason Part II

Nick and Colby are annoyed by technological difficulties both on and off the podcast, so this is the best of their talk about the 2020 Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning, potential rebuild in Arizona, Patric Hornqvist trade and more. Seriously, the audio is that bad.

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsStitcher and/or on Spotify.

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NHL Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Bolts advance to the Eastern Conference Final with, 3-2, 2OT win over Bruins in Game 5

Victor Hedman scored the game-winning goal in double overtime to catapult the Tampa Bay Lightning into the 2020 Eastern Conference Final with a, 3-2, victory over the Boston Bruins in Game 5 of their Second Round series.

Tampa emerged victorious in the series, 4-1, while Boston is heading home from the Scotiabank Arena bubble in Toronto empty handed.

For the first time since 2018, the Lightning are back in the Eastern Conference Final, which, coincidentally also featured a five-game series win against the Bruins in the Second Round to advance to the Eastern Conference Final.

With the series win on Monday, Tampa improved to 2-1 in all-time postseason series meetings against Boston.

Andrei Vasilevskiy (9-4 in 13 games this postseason, 1.91 goals against average, .931 save percentage) made 45 saves on 47 shots against for a .957 SV% in the win for the Bolts.

Meanwhile, Jaroslav Halak (4-5 in nine games this postseason, 2.76 GAA, .902 SV%) stopped 32 out of 35 shots faced for a .914 SV% in the loss for the Bruins.

Bruce Cassidy made a few necessary adjustments to his lineup with Sean Kuraly, Nick Ritchie and Chris Wagner out due to injury (officially, “unfit to participate”).

With Kuraly missing his third game of the series, Par Lindholm remained as the fourth line center with Karson Kuhlman taking Wagner’s spot at right wing while Joakim Nordstrom remained on the left side.

Jack Studnicka was back in the lineup and took over Kuhlman’s spot on the right side of the third line with Anders Bjork also back in action on the left side of Charlie Coyle.

Kuraly, Ritchie and Wagner were all “unfit to participate”, while Boston’s list of scratches also included Zach Senyshyn, John Moore, Maxime Lagacé, Urho Vaakanainen, Jakub Zboril, Jeremy Lauzon and Trent Frederic.

Jon Cooper made one change to Tampa’s lineup for Game 5, re-inserting Ryan McDonagh on the blue line after the defender had been out since Game 1 with an injury.

As a result, Braydon Coburn joined Mathieu Joseph, Carter Verhaeghe, Jan Rutta, Mitchell Stephens, Steven Stamkos, Alexander Volkov and Scott Wedgewood among the Lightning’s scratches on Monday.

David Krejci tied Wayne Cashman for the fourth most postseason games played in a Bruins uniform with 145.

Meanwhile, Cassidy now holds a 27-28 (.491 winning percentage) record in the postseason behind the bench with Boston.

He is 29-32 overall as an NHL head coach in the Stanley Cup Playoffs (Cassidy was the head coach of the Washington Capitals for parts of two seasons from 2002-04, leading Washington to a 2-4 record in six postseason games outside his tenure with the Bruins).

2020 marks the sixth appearance (previous, 2004, 2011, 2015, 2016 and 2018) in the Eastern Conference Final for the Lightning since their first season in the NHL in 1992-93.

As a fun fact, Tampa spent their first season in the Campbell Conference (what is now known as the Western Conference) before moving to the Eastern Conference for the 1993-94 season and beyond.

Midway through the opening frame Nikita Kucherov tried to sneak behind Zdeno Chara while skating through the low slot in front of the net before the two collided without Chara knowing the Lightning forward was there, thereby lending both players to lose their balance.

In the process, the Bruins captain caught Kucherov with a high stick, while an errant puck hit Chara in the leg/skate as an unintentional blocked shot that left both players falling to the ice– Kucherov for the stick to the face, Chara for the shot to the leg/foot.

Chara was sent to the box with a double-minor for high sticking at 12:48 of the first period and despite having a four-minute power play, the Lightning weren’t able to score on the skater advantage.

Late in the period, Barclay Goodrow got a stick around David Pastrnak and hooked the Bruins forward, yielding a power play to Boston in the closing minutes of the opening frame at 17:46, but the B’s didn’t convert on the advantage.

The game was still tied, 0-0, after one period despite the Bruins holding an advantage in shots on goal, 8-5.

Boston also held the lead in blocked shots (10-4), while Tampa led in hits (14-10) and faceoff win percentage (59-41) heading into the first intermission.

Both teams had two takeaways and two giveaways aside, while the Lightning were 0/2 and the Bruins were 0/1 on the power play entering the middle frame.

Early in the middle frame, Ondrej Palat (5) redirected a shot from Kevin Shattenkirk over Halak’s shoulder on the glove side, off the bar and into the twine to give Tampa the, 1-0, lead, while tying the longest postseason goal scoring streak in Lightning franchise history as Palat has scored at least one goal in the last four games.

Palat (2020), Stamkos (2015 and 2018), Vincent Lecavalier (2007) and Martin St. Louis (2003) are all tied for the team record with goals in at least four-straight playoff games for the Bolts.

Meanwhile, Shattenkirk (4) and Blake Coleman (4) had the assists on Palat’s goal at 4:21 of the second period.

Midway through the period, Kucherov tripped Charlie McAvoy and was sent to the box at 10:44, presenting Boston with their second power play of the night.

Krejci sent a pass to Pastrnak (3) for the one-timer from the dot to Vasilevskiy’s right side– beating the Bolts goaltender on the blocker side and tying the game, 1-1, with a power-play goal at 12:38 of the second period.

Krejci (8) and Patrice Bergeron (6) yielded the assists while Pastrnak recorded his 20th career postseason goal in his 52nd career Stanley Cup Playoff game.

Only three players in Bruins history required fewer games to reach 20 goals in the playoffs– Barry Pederson (24 games), Gregg Sheppard (32) and Bobby Orr (50)– while Pastrnak has 20-33–53 totals in 52 games.

About four minutes later, Matt Grzelcyk hooked Goodrow at 16:13 and the Lightning went on the power play for the third time Monday night.

Tampa’s skater advantage was cut short when Yanni Gourde hooked McAvoy at 16:56 and presented each team with a 1:17 span of 4-on-4 action before the Bruins had a brief 5-on-4 power play afterwards.

Through 40 minutes of play, the B’s and Bolts were tied, 1-1, despite Boston leading in shots on goal, 23-13– including a, 15-8, advantage in the second period alone.

The Bruins also held the lead in takeaways (3-2), while the Lightning led in blocked shots (16-12), giveaways (7-6), hits (29-22) and faceoff win% (54-46) heading into the second intermission.

Tampa was 0/3 and Boston was 1/3 on the power play heading into the final frame of regulation.

Kucherov wasn’t available for the Bolts in the third period onward while an undisclosed injury kept him out for the rest of the night.

Meanwhile, Cedric Paquette ran McAvoy from behind into the boards– worthy of at least a minor for boarding, given the standards defined in the series, but instead received no penalty whatsoever while McAvoy needed assistance from a trainer and a teammate before returning late in the third period.

Midway through the final frame of regulation, Hedman sent a shot with eyes from the point that was redirected by Anthony Cirelli (2) off of Halak’s blocker and stick before it found the twine to give Tampa the, 2-1, lead at 12:03 of the third period.

Hedman (4) and Brayden Point (11) tallied the assists on Cirelli’s goal as the Lightning grabbed the lead once more and settled into their game for a few minutes.

McAvoy returned to Boston’s bench with 4:20 left in the third period, then the team rallied to tie the game, 2-2, at 17:27 of the third when Krejci (4) guided the puck into the open twine while Vasilevksiy was behind the play after Chara faked the goaltender and sent a pass to Krejci on the doorstep instead.

Chara (2) and Connor Clifton (2) collected the assists on Krejci’s game-tying goal and the B’s yanked enough momentum to carry themselves into overtime while earning a power play when Hedman tripped Ondrej Kase at 18:04.

After 60 minutes of action, the Bruins and Lightning were tied, 2-2, despite Boston leading in shots on goal, 35-21– including a, 12-8, advantage in the third period alone.

Boston also led in takeaways (3-2) and giveaways (11-9), while Tampa led in blocked shots (24-20), hits (40-34) and faceoff win% (59-41).

The Lightning were 0/3 and the Bruins were 1/4 on the power play heading into the first overtime period.

Cassidy opted to start Brad Marchand, Bergeron and Kase as his forwards, while sending out Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo on defense.

Cooper kicked things off in overtime with Coleman, Goodrow, Erik Cernak and McDonagh on the penalty kill before Hedman returned from the box and the Lightning could make a line change.

Midway through the first overtime period, Krejci tripped up Alex Killorn and was sent to the box at 10:27, but Tampa wasn’t able to capitalize on the power play in sudden death overtime.

Through 80 minutes of hockey on Monday night, the Bruins led in shots on goal, 46-28, despite the score remaining even at, 2-2, entering the second overtime.

Boston held the, 11-7, advantage in shots on goal in the first overtime period alone, while also leading in giveaways (15-11) entering the fourth intermission.

Tampa led in blocked shots (30-29), takeaways (5-3), hits (50-46) and faceoff win% (59-41) heading into the second overtime.

With no penalties called in the second overtime, the Bolts finished 0/4 and the B’s finished 1/4 on the power play on Monday.

Cassidy began the second overtime with Marchand, Bergeron, Kase, Clifton and Grzlecyk, while Cooper matched with Goodrow, Gourde, Coleman, Cernak and Mikhail Sergachev.

Both teams went back and forth until the ice was scrapped during a stoppage with 9:51 remaining in double overtime.

Moments later, Hedman (5) slipped a shot through Halak while Pat Maroon acted as a screen in front of the Boston netminder and sent the Lightning to the Eastern Conference Final while eliminating the Bruins with the, 3-2, game-winning goal at 14:10 of the double-overtime period.

Shattenkirk (5) and Point (12) tabbed the assists on the game-winning goal as the Bolts wrapped up the series.

Boston finished Monday night’s action leading in shots on goal, 47-35, despite trailing Tampa, 7-1, in shots on net in the second overtime period alone.

Tampa finished the night leading in blocked shots (35-34), hits (56-53) and faceoff win% (60-40), while Boston wrapped up the night leading in giveaways (21-12) in addition to their advantage in shots on goal.

With the win, the Lightning improved to 4-0 in overtime (5-0 past regulation this postseason– they went 1-0 in shootouts in the Round Robin), while the Bruins fell to 1-2 in overtime as they were ousted from the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Tampa improved to 20-8, while Boston fell to 59-77-3 in all-time overtime postseason games.

The Bruins also fell to 2-3 when tied after one period, 1-3 when tied after two periods and 1-2 when tied after three periods in the 2020 postseason.

While Tampa moves on and will likely travel to Edmonton to play in the Eastern Conference Final (though there is a plan to begin the series in Toronto if the Western Conference’s Second Round matchups take too long and/or the Lightning cannot travel to Rogers Place just yet), Boston will leave the Toronto bubble and disperse for the 2020 offseason with the future uncertain.

Chara is 43-years-old and may retire, Krug is a pending-unrestricted free agent looking for a big payday as a 29-year-old defender in his prime, while Jake DeBrusk and Grzelcyk are pending-restricted free agents.

Additionally, Nordstrom is a pending-UFA who may or may not be back due to Boston’s plethora of bottom-six talent, while Kevan Miller will likely be riding into the sunset after not playing since May 2019 due to multiple knee injuries that kept him out of 2019-20 action.

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Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #206- What’s Kapanen, My Dudes?

The DTFR Duo discuss Photoshop, Todd Reirden’s firing, Arizona Coyotes draft violations, the Kasperi Kapanen trade back to Pittsburgh and the Second Round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsStitcher and/or on Spotify.

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NHL Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Lightning rout Bruins, 7-1, in Game 3, lead series, 2-1

In a game that is ultimately meaningless, the Tampa Bay Lightning crushed the Boston Bruins, 7-1, in Game 3 of their 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs Second Round series at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.

Prior to the game, while most other professional sports leagues witnessed their players go on strike against police brutality and systemic racism, the NHL had a “moment of reflection” and completely missed the mark– but what else is there to really expect from a sport that took 60 years from the time Willie O’Ree broke the game’s color barrier in 1958, until his election to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2018?

Teams and players made statements intent to “learn and grow” in the aftermath of the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and many of those teams and players haven’t learned a thing.

You either make a whole hearted attempt (and struggle at times as learning can be a process) or you don’t make one at all and remain ignorant because ignorance is not bliss– it’s ignorance.

Andrei Vasilevskiy (8-3 in 11 games this postseason, 2.06 goals against average, .924 save percentage) made 23 saves on 24 shots against for a .958 SV% in the win for the Lightning.

Bruins netminder, Jaroslav Halak (4-3 in seven games this postseason, 2.92 GAA, .903 SV%) stopped 12 out of 16 shots faced for a .750 SV% in 31:18 time on ice in the loss before being replaced by Dan Vladar (0-0 in one game this postseason, 6.21 GAA, .800 SV%), who made 12 saves on 15 shots in 28:42 TOI.

The 23-year-old native of Czech Republic, Vladar made his NHL debut and became the first goalie to make his league debut in the playoffs since Jake Allen did so with the St. Louis Blues on April 30, 2012.

Vladar was also the first goaltender in B’s franchise history to make his NHL debut in the postseason.

With the win on Wednesday, Tampa takes a, 2-1, series lead heading into Game 4 on Friday.

With Sean Kuraly “unfit to participate” and seven defenders announced as part of Boston’s game plan ahead of the action on Wednesday, Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, juggled his lines with his top-six serving in their usual capacity, while working Nick Ritchie and Charlie Coyle with a rotation of possible right wing options on the third line as Par Lindholm slotted into the fourth line center role for Kuraly.

On defense, Jeremy Lauzon and John Moore joined the fray for Boston, splitting time with the usual defenders in Zdeno Chara, Charlie McAvoy, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo and Matt Grzelcyk.

Anders Bjork and Connor Clifton joined the long list of scratches for the Bruins, which included Zach Senyshyn, Maxime Lagacé, Kuraly, Urho Vaakanainen, Jakub Zboril, Jack Studnicka, Trent Frederic and Karson Kuhlman on Wednesday.

The Bolts rolled forward with seven defenders for the second game in-a-row, while Jon Cooper’s list of scratches included Mathieu Joseph, Carter Verhaeghe, Ryan McDonagh, Jan Rutta, Mitchell Stephens, Steven Stamkos, Alexander Volkov and Scott Wedgewood.

McDonagh (unfit to play) missed his second game of the series with an undisclosed injury.

Carlo tripped Alex Killorn and was sent to the penalty box at 37 seconds into the first period, yielding the first power play of the game to the Lightning.

Tampa didn’t score on their first skater advantage, however, but it wouldn’t take them long before they got their special teams going.

At 12:17 of the first period, Ritchie slashed Kevin Shattenkirk and cut a rut to the sin bin.

The Bolts made sure to take advantage of the skater advantage the second time, however, as Ondrej Palat (2) sent a one-timer that deflected off of Chara’s stick and went past Halak’s glove side to give Tampa their first power-play goal of the postseason.

Mikhail Sergachev (2) and Nikita Kucherov (8) had the assists as the Lightning jumped out to the, 1-0, lead at 12:46 of the first period.

Prior to Palat’s power-play goal, the Bolts were 0/16 on the power play in the 2020 postseason.

Yanni Gourde (3) made it a, 2-0, lead 15 seconds after Palat opened the game’s scoring when he was able to break in free of any Bruins defenders, held onto the puck long enough for Halak to commit, then roofed it into the twine while Lauzon was inadvertently held up by an on-ice official near the blue line.

Blake Coleman (3) and Erik Cernak (2) tabbed the assists on Gourde’s goal at 13:01, as the Lightning set a new postseason franchise record for the fastest back-to-back goals.

Entering the first intermission, Tampa held a, 2-0, lead on the scoreboard, despite trailing Boston in shots on goal, 8-7.

The Bruins led in blocked shots (5-4), takeaways (1-0) and hits (19-18), while the Lightning had the advantage in giveaways (4-3) and faceoff win percentage (56-44).

The Bolts were 1/2 on the power play, while the B’s had yet to see any action on the skater advantage heading into the middle frame.

Patrice Bergeron caught Palat with a high stick and was assessed a minor infraction at 1:18 of the second peirod.

Once again, Boston’s penalty kill was no match for the Lightning’s power play as Sergachev (1) crept in from the point to blast a one-timer from the slot over Halak’s leg pad, but under his glove hand to make it a three-goal game.

Kucherov (9) and Brayden Point (8) had the assists on Sergachev’s power-play goal and the Lightning led, 3-0, at 2:14 of the second period.

About a minute later, Zach Bogosian tripped Brad Marchand and was sent to the box– giving Boston their first power play opportunity of the night at 3:41.

On the ensuing power play, Krug sent an intentional shot pass in Marchand’s direction as Marchand (7) accidentally on purpose was in the right place at the right time for the deflection from the side of the crease to score Boston’s only goal of the night.

Krug (6) and David Pastrnak (7) had the assists on Marchand’s power-play goal and the Bruins trailed, 3-1, at 4:56 of the second period.

Moments later, McAvoy took things over the line with Kucherov and presented the Lightning with yet another power play while No. 73 in black and gold went to the box for roughing at 8:18.

Tampa’s skater advantage didn’t take long as Killorn (3) pocketed a rebound while falling as a result of a net front battle with Moore to give the Bolts a, 4-1, lead at 8:35.

Palat (4) and Kucherov (10) nabbed the assists on Killorn’s power-play goal.

The world feed from Toronto cut to Vladar dressed in full gear and ready to enter the game after Killorn’s goal, but Boston’s backup goaltender wouldn’t make his NHL debut until the next stoppage about a few minutes later.

Vladar didn’t get much support from his teammates after they had already let down one goaltender for the night.

Point (6) scored on a breakaway on the one chance Tampa had immediately after Boston mustered a rush the other way and made it a four-goal game as he extended the Lightning’s lead to, 5-1, at 15:23 of the second period.

Killorn (3) and Sergachev (3) had the assists on Point’s goal while Vladar made a desperate sprawling effort to stop the prominent young star for the Bolts, but came up a little bit short.

As soon as the puck was in the back of the net, Krug and Tyler Johnson were going at it in the other end exchanging fisticuffs and receiving fighting majors in what was Boston’s second fight this postseason and first since Krug dropped the gloves with Coleman on Aug. 5th in the Round Robin action.

As Johnson fell to the ice, he smashed face first and proceeded with caution down the tunnel, but eventually returned to the game’s action without issue.

A few minutes later, Killorn (4) notched his second goal of the game again on a rebound after Lauzon and Grzelcyk blew their defensive coverage in their own zone.

Gourde (4) and Bogosian (4) had the assists on Killorn’s goal and the Bolts led, 6-1, at 18:01 of the second period.

Through 40 minutes of action on Wednesday, the Lightning led, 6-1, on the scoreboard and, 25-16, in shots on goal– including an, 18-8, advantage in the second period alone.

The Bolts also led in blocked shots (10-9), takeaways (4-2) and faceoff win% (58-43), while the Bruins led in hits (37-31).

Both teams had five giveaways each after two periods.

Tampa was 3/4 and Boston was 1/1 on the power play heading into the final frame.

Kucherov (4) kicked things off in the final frame with a goal through Vladar’s five-hole to make it, 7-1, and tie Martin St. Louis’ franchise record for most playoff goals scored with his 33rd career Stanley Cup Playoff goal in a Lightning uniform.

Point (9) had the only assist on Kucherov’s goal at 3:58 of the third period.

Midway through the third, McAvoy and Kucherov got into another bit of a scuffle, but only McAvoy was penalized with a roughing minor and a misconduct at exactly 10:00 of the third period.

Boston killed Tampa’s string of three consecutive conversions on the power play and resumed even strength without any issues.

Late in the period, however, Bergeron sent the puck out of play and clear over the glass without any deflections, yielding an automatic delay of game penalty at 16:42.

Tampa’s ensuing power play was cut short three seconds into their advantage as Cedric Paquette was called for interference at 16:45.

While skating at 4-on-4, Coleman and David Krejci exchanged pleasantries, which yielded a 4-on-3 advantage for the Bruins after Coleman was hit with two roughing minors, while Krejci received only one roughing minor at 18:07 of the third period.

Krug received an early dismissal 15 seconds later after sending a puck with a little too much force in the direction of a linesman after an offside call at 18:22, and was given a misconduct, as well as a trip to the dressing room.

At the final horn, the Lightning had won, 7-1, and took a, 2-1, series lead in what was Boston’s worst deficit since losing, 9-3, in Buffalo against the Sabres on April 29, 1992 in the 1992 Adams Division Semifinal.

Tampa finished the game leading in shots on goal (31-24), blocked shots (15-12), giveaways (10-7) and faceoff win% (55-45), while Boston wrapped up Wednesday night’s action with the advantage in hits (50-40).

The Bolts finished 3/6 and the B’s finished 1/3 on the power play.

Boston fell to 2-3 when trailing after one period and 1-4 when trailing after two periods in the 2020 posteason.

Game 4 is scheduled for Friday night at 7:30 p.m. ET at Scotiabank Arena in the Toronto bubble. Viewers in the United States can tune to USA Network to catch the action, while those in Canada can choose from CBC, SN or TVAS.

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NHL Nick's Net Previews

2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs Second Round Preview: Eastern Conference

The turnaround from the Qualifier to the First Round was too quick to get this out of the way (other than on the podcast), but at least the league and broadcasting partners gave us all a day or two between the First and Second Round– oh.

By the time that you’ll be reading this, all four Second Round series’ will have played at least one game, while some might have already played through two games.

Fear not, though, the series winner and other basic notes entering the Second Round were written down before puck drop and before the rest of the words in this post were filled around them.

Once again, this postseason is unpredictable– and that’s besides whatever happens on the ice.

At any point in time things could be shutdown again, because– you know– of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The players, coaches, team and league staff, as well as broadcasting crews and essential arena/hotel employees have all been in the bubble for almost a month now.

There aren’t enough words to express how taxing on the mind the isolation really is, despite teammates being in the bubble together, etc.

None on the league staff or team staff will see their families, romantic partners, roommates back home, etc. until they’re either eliminated or heading home with the Stanley Cup in their arms *fingers crossed*.

Luckily, the league’s made it this far into Phase 4 with no positive tests for COVID-19 out of the thousands of tests they’ve conducted.

For one reason or another (TV broadcast deals, probably), they’ve decided to make the Second Round feature a multitude of “back-to-backs”– that’s two games in two nights, whereas normally by this point in the playoffs there’s always (except for extenuating arena availability circumstances) a day off between each game in a series.

Alas, being in two bubble cities (Edmonton and Toronto), the league can do whatever it wants.

For now, let’s focus on the Eastern Conference teams in the Second Round.

As a reminder, the Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Final will be held at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, if everything goes according to plan. All Eastern Conference games before then, however, will take place at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario.

Sadly, families won’t allowed to join the players in the Conference Finals and beyond as was first anticipated at the beginning of the bubble.

(1) Philadelphia Flyers (41-21-7, 89 points) vs (6) New York Islanders (35-23-10, 80 points)

Philadelphia: 69 games played, .645 points percentage, 31 regulation wins.

N.Y. Islanders: 68 games played, .588 points percentage, 24 regulation wins.

In his first season as head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers, Alain Vigneault led the team from finishing in fourth place in the Eastern Conference by points percentage at the stoppage to securing the top seed in the East as a result of an undefeated Round Robin performance in what can only be described as wild a ride as the year 2020 has been.

No, the Flyers haven’t had as many lows as what 2020 has brought to the world, but they’ve been on fire as of late– since February, really– so maybe the universe is collapsing only because Philadelphia has what might be their greatest chance at winning the Cup for the first time since 1975.

Oh and they have a legitimate goaltender, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

The Flyers beat the Montreal Canadiens in six games in the First Round to advance to their Second Round matchup with the New York Islanders and– as has been the trend with 2020– nobody quite knows what to expect going into this series.

Travis Konecny led Philly in scoring in the regular season with 24-37–61 totals in 66 games before the ongoing pandemic shortened the season. Sean Couturier had the second-most points with 59 in 69 games and Jakub Voracek was third on the roster in scoring with 56 points in 69 games.

Thus far in the postseason, Voracek leads the team entering the Second Round with eight points (four goals, four assists) in eight games. Kevin Hayes has 1-6–7 totals in nine games, while Scott Laughton and Couturier each have five points entering Philly’s matchup with the Islanders.

In the regular season, Carter Hart led the way in the crease with a 24-13-3 record in 43 games (40 starts), one shutout, as well as a 2.42 goals against average and a .914 save percentage in that span.

Brian Elliott forged a 16-7-4 record in 31 games (27 starts), with a 2.87 GAA, an .899 SV% and two shutouts as Philadelphia’s backup, while Alex Lyon made three appearances (two starts) and had a 3.55 GAA, as well as an .890 SV% in the process.

Entering the Second Round, Hart has a 6-2-0 record in eight games with a 1.71 GAA, a .943 SV% and two shutouts in the process, while Elliott made one start and one relief appearance (two games) for a 1-0-0 record with a 1.47 GAA and a .913 SV%.

At the other end of the ice, the New York Islanders overcame the Florida Panthers in four games (3-1) in their best of five Qualifier series, then defeated the Washington Capitals in five games (4-1) in the First Round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs to line themselves up with the Flyers in the Second Round.

Mathew Barzal led the charge for the Isles with 19-41–60 totals in 68 games this season with Brock Nelson (54 points in 68 games), Anders Lee (43 points in 68 games) and Josh Bailey (43 points in 68 games) at the forefront of New York’s offense in 2019-20.

Thus far in the postseason, Bailey’s emerged as the Islanders’ points leader with 2-8–10 totals in nine games, while Anthony Beauvillier entered Game 1 against Philadelphia hot on his tail with 6-3–9 totals in nine games.

Meanwhile, Nelson and Barzal each had seven points in nine games for the third most points on the team in the 2020 postseason.

In the crease, Semyon Varlamov went 19-14-6 in 45 games (39 starts) in the regular season with a 2.62 GAA and a .914 SV%, as well as two shutouts in that span, while Thomas Greiss backed Varlamov up with a 16-9-4 record in 31 games (29 starts), a 2.74 GAA and a .913 SV%.

Varlamov has a 7-2 record in nine games entering the Second Round with one shutout, as well as a 1.67 GAA and a .934 SV% in that span.

The Flyers went 0-2-1 in the regular season against the Islanders and– despite being the hottest team since February– now have to face one of the best teams at shutting things down on a night-to-night basis.

Barry Trotz’ defensive scheme is a game plan for success with the Isles’ makeup, so the Flyers are going to have to pull them away from their go-to lanes.

Plus there’s the lack of offense to worry about for Philadelphia from their First Round matchup with the Canadiens that, if any of it is leftover for the Second Round, could spell trouble for Philly’s Cup hopes.

Meanwhile, despite Varlamov’s consistency this postseason, the Flyers have the upper hand in the crease with Hart getting into a rhythm and hitting his stride when it counts.

This is the fifth time these two clubs have met in the postseason and the Flyers hold the, 3-1, advantage in all time series meetings prior, but there’s a chance New York gets revenge on Philadelphia for the first time since 1980.

As much as New York could pull off the upset (based on seeding only and disregarding regular season head-to-head performance), the Flyers should be able to put it together and advance to their first Eastern Conference Final since 2010, by wrapping things up in six games.

Regular season outcomes:

5-3 NYI at NYCB Live/Nassau Coliseum on Oct. 27th, 4-3 F/SO NYI at Wells Fargo Center on Nov. 16th, 5-3 NYI at Barclays Center on Feb. 11th

Schedule:

8/24- Game 1 NYI @ PHI in Toronto 7 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS

8/26- Game 2 NYI @ PHI in Toronto 3 PM ET on NBCN, SN, TVAS

8/27- Game 3 PHI @ NYI in Toronto 7 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS

8/29- Game 4 PHI @ NYI in Toronto 12 PM ET on NBC, SN, TVAS

8/31- Game 5 NYI @ PHI in Toronto*

9/2- Game 6 PHI @ NYI in Toronto*

9/3- Game 7 NYI @ PHI in Toronto*

*If necessary

(2) Tampa Bay Lightning (43-21-6, 92 points) vs (4) Boston Bruins (44-14-12, 100 points)

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

Boston: 70 games played, .714 points percentage, 38 regulation wins.

Despite the Boston Bruins clinching the Presidents’ Trophy with the league’s best record in the 2019-20 shortened regular season, the Tampa Bay Lightning have the higher seed thanks to a better performance in the 2020 Round Robin.

Tampa avenged their elimination from last year’s First Round in four games by beating the Columbus Blue Jackets in the five games (4-1) in the 2020 First Round, which included a 5OT victory in Game 1 and a commanding overtime win in Game 5 (that ultimately ended the series, because that’s how a best-of-seven works).

Nikita Kucherov led the Lightning in the regular season with 33-52–85 totals in 68 games played, while Steven Stamkos had the second-most points on the team (66) despite being limited to 57 games due to injury.

Brayden Point, meanwhile, had the third most points on the team in the regular season with 25-39–56 totals in 66 games.

Entering the Second Round, however, Point was in command of Tampa’s scoring leaders with 5-5–10 totals in eight games, while Kucherov had nine points in eight games and a three-way tie for the third most between Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn and Yanni Gourde had yet to be resolved as each had four points prior to Tampa’s series matchup with Boston.

Oh and nobody knows how long Stamkos will be out since having core muscle surgery in March, then leaving practice in July after supposedly recovering in the allotted six to eight weeks post operation.

In the crease, Andrei Vasilevskiy led the charge with a 35-14-3 record in 52 games played (all starts), as well as three shutouts, a 2.56 GAA and a .917 SV% in that span.

His backup, Curtis McElhinney, posted an 8-7-3 record in 18 games with a 2.89 GAA, a .906 SV% and one shutout this season.

Entering the Second Round, Vasilevskiy was 6-2 in eight games with a 1.98 GAA and a .927 SV%.

The Lightning have a lot of fire power and a defense that’s good enough to help inflate their goaltender’s win column, regardless of his status as a Vezina Trophy finalist this season– it certainly helps win some games every now and then when the rest of your teammates are limiting your workload for you.

At the other end of the ice, the Boston Bruins went winless in the Round Robin and failed to record a point in the tournament while Chris Wagner led the team in scoring with a pair of goals over the three Round Robin games.

Then they flipped the switch and beat the Carolina Hurricanes in five games (4-1) to advance to the Second Round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs and, well, here they are.

David Pastrnak shared the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy honors with Alex Ovechkin in 2019-20, as both players scored 48 goals before the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic cut the regular season short.

Pastrnak also led the Bruins in scoring with 48-47–95 totals in 70 games.

Brad Marchand was second on the roster with 28-59–87 totals and Patrice Bergeron completed the first line, as well as the top-three trio in scoring with 31-25–56 totals in 61 games in the regular season.

In the postseason so far, the re-emergence of David “Playoff Krech” Krejci has come to fruition as No. 46 in black-and-gold leads his teammates in playoff scoring with 3-6–9 totals in eight games entering the Second Round.

Marchand (3-4–7 totals in eight games) and Bergeron (2-4–6 totals in eight games) are second and third on the roster, respectively, in scoring prior to their series matchup with Tampa.

Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak combined efforts to take home the William M. Jennings Trophy having allowed the fewest combined goals against (174) among goaltender(s) with a minimum of 25 games played in 2019-20.

Rask finished the regular season with a Vezina Trophy finalist nomination, as well as a 26-8-6 record in 41 games (41 starts), a 2.12 GAA, a .929 SV% and five shutouts in that span.

Halak went 18-6-6 in 31 games (29 starts) and had a 2.39 GAA, a .919 SV% and three shutouts prior to the pandemic cutting the regular season short.

Prior to opting out of the rest of the 2020 postseason due to a family medical emergency involving one of his daughters, Rask had a 1-3-0 record in four games (four starts) in the bubble with a 2.57 GAA and a .904 SV% in that span.

There is no blame for being a good parent and knowing that the right thing to always do is take care of your family first– even if your team is in the middle of what could be their last chance to win a Cup with their current core group of players.

The last time the league participated in a postseason in a pandemic, several players contracted the flu and one (Montreal Canadiens star, Joe Hall) died a few days after the 1919 Stanley Cup Final was called off from pneumonia as a complication from influenza.

Have some compassion, for once.

Halak, in the meantime, enters the Second Round as Boston’s starting goaltender with a 3-1-0 record in four games (four starts), as well as a 2.29 GAA and a .912 SV% in that span.

In the regular season, the Bruins went 1-2-1 against the Lightning, while the Bolts held a 3-1-0 record against Boston in the season series (their first game back on Oct. 17th being a, 4-3, shootout victory for Tampa).

Scoring was pretty even at a, 13-10, advantage for the Lightning across all four meetings, despite the Bruins outshooting the Bolts, 139-113, in the four games combined.

The two clubs are 1-1 all time in two previous postseason meetings, where Boston eliminated Tampa in seven games in the 2011 Eastern Conference Final and the Bolts returned the favor to the Bruins in five games in the 2018 Second Round.

Two years removed from Boston’s collapsed hopes of a deep run at the hands of the Lightning, the B’s made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final in 2019, thanks to the Blue Jackets sweeping the Lightning in the 2019 First Round, then bowing out to Boston in six games in the 2019 Second Round.

These two Atlantic Division teams are more intertwined than average fan might think and a rivalry has sprung as of, well, really since that 2011 series.

The Bruins have struggled to handle the Lightning– especially within the last few seasons, at least.

With everything in mind, it’s also important to remember just how hard it is to go all the way back to the Stanley Cup Final after making it in the previous year– let alone make it out of the First Round after having five months off due to a pandemic.

If anything, it’s not that Bruins are an “aging team”– so are the Lightning at their core with each and every passing year that Stamkos and Co. have not won a Cup ring.

If anything, it’s that the Lightning simply are Boston’s Kryptonite like how the Montreal Canadiens once were before the 21st century.

Boston might be able to win a game or two, but Tampa should really have this series taken care of in six games.

Regular season outcomes:

4-3 F/SO TBL at TD Garden on Oct. 17th, 3-2 TBL at Amalie Arena on Dec. 12th, 2-1 BOS at Amalie Arena on March 3rd, 5-3 TBL at TD Garden on March 7th

Schedule:

8/23- Game 1 BOS @ TBL in Toronto 8 PM ET on NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS

8/25- Game 2 BOS @ TBL in Toronto 7 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS

8/26- Game 3 TBL @ BOS in Toronto 8 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS

8/28- Game 4 TBL @ BOS in Toronto 7:30 PM ET on USA, CBC, SN, TVAS

8/30- Game 5 BOS @ TBL in Toronto*

9/1- Game 6 TBL @ BOS in Toronto*

9/2- Game 7 BOS @ TBL in Toronto*

*If necessary

Categories
NHL Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Palat, Lightning strike Bruins with, 4-3, overtime win in Game 2, tie series, 1-1

Ondrej Palat scored the game-winning goal in overtime as the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Boston Bruins, 4-3, in Game 2 of their Second Round series on Tuesday.

Palat scored almost five minutes into the overtime period at Scotiabank Arena inside the National Hockey League’s Eastern Conference bubble in Toronto to tie the best-of-seven game series, 1-1.

Andrei Vasilevskiy (7-3 in 10 games this postseason, 2.15 goals against average, .921 save percentage) made 22 saves on 25 shots against for an .880 SV% in the win for the Lightning.

Bruins netminder, Jaroslav Halak (4-2 in six games this postseason, 2.50 GAA, .916 SV%) stopped 36 out of 40 shots faced for a .916 SV% in the loss.

Bruce Cassidy made no changes to Boston’s lineup from Sunday’s, 3-2, win in Game 1 to Tuesday night’s matchup in Game 2.

Zach Senyshyn, Par Lindholm, John Moore, Maxime Lagacé, Urho Vaakanainen, Jakub Zboril, Jack Studnicka, Jeremy Lauzon, Trent Frederic and Karson Kuhlman remained scratched for the Bruins.

With Ryan McDonagh (unfit to play, undisclosed injury) out of the lineup for the Bolts in Game 2, Lightning head coach, Jon Cooper, dressed seven defenders– inserting Braydon Coburn and Luke Schenn on the blue line, while striking Carter Verhaeghe and McDonagh from the lineup.

Tampa’s list of scratches on Tuesday included Mathieu Joseph, Verhaeghe, McDonagh, Jan Rutta, Mitchell Stephens, Steven Stamkos, Alexander Volkov and Scott Wedgewood.

Stamkos remains out after core muscle surgery in March, then leaving practice in mid-July.

Patrice Bergeron surpassed Wayne Cashman for participating in the third-most playoff games as a Bruins player in his 146th career postseason game.

Only Ray Bourque (180 games) and Zdeno Chara (147) have played in more Stanley Cup Playoff games while wearing the spoked-B in their career. David Krejci is currently fifth in franchise history with 142 career postseason games with Boston.

Early in the game the Bruins had the puck down low in the zone and worked the puck out from behind the net on goal when Nick Ritchie (1) banked a loose puck off of Vasilevskiy’s leg and trickled one through the five-hole to give Boston the game’s first goal.

Anders Bjork (1) had the only assist as the B’s jumped out to a, 1-0, lead at 3:14 of the first period.

Less than a couple of minutes later, the Lightning thought they had tied the game when Barclay Goodrow tipped a shot off of Halak’s mask and into the twine, but Cassidy used a coach’s challenge on the basis that the Bolts entered the offensive zone offside prior to the goal.

After review, the call on the ice was reversed as Brayden Point wasn’t fast enough to clear the zone before Tampa re-entered and had been offside before the goal was scored.

Boston still had the, 1-0, lead after the stoppage at 5:04.

About 30 seconds later, the two teams were struck with 4-on-4 action when Cedric Paquette and Matt Grzelcyk exchanged pleasantries after Halak froze the puck at 5:32.

Paquette went to the box with a slashing minor, while Grzelcyk was dealt a roughing infraction.

Midway through the opening frame, Zach Bogosian led Blake Coleman on a 2-on-0 rush after getting past Boston’s defense, subsequently feeding Coleman (2) for the redirection through Halak’s five-hole to tie the game, 1-1, at 12:42 of the first period.

Bogosian (3) and Goodrow (2) tallied the assists on Coleman’s first goal of the game.

About five minutes later, Alex Killorn caught Brad Marchand with a high stick and was sent to the box at 17:15, but the Bruins failed to convert on their first power play opportunity of the night.

Entering the first intermission, the game was tied, 1-1, despite Tampa holding the advantage in shots on goal, 11-9.

Boston held the advantage in blocked shots (5-2), hits (22-16) and faceoff win percentage (55-46), while the Bolts led in takeaways (2-1) and giveaways (7-1).

Tampa had yet to see time on the skater advantage, while the Bruins were 0/1 on the power play heading into the dressing room after 20 minutes of play.

Early in the middle frame, Sean Kuraly cut a rut to the sin bin for slashing Nikita Kucherov at 6:40 of the second period.

The Lightning did not score on the ensuing skater advantage, however.

Late in the period, Palat caught Connor Clifton with a high stick and was sent to the box at 14:14, yielding a power play to the Bruins.

Almost 20 seconds into the power play, David Pastrnak sent an intentional shot pass to Marchand (5) for a redirection from the side of the crease past Vasilevskiy to give Boston a, 2-1, lead at 14:33 of the second period.

Pastrnak (5) and Torey Krug (5) tallied the assists on Marchand’s power-play goal, but the B’s wouldn’t hold the lead for long.

Less than a minute after giving up a goal on the penalty kill, the Lightning scored at 5-on-5 to tie the game, 2-2, when Kucherov (3) tipped a shot from Kevin Shattenkirk past Halak’s blocker side.

Shattenkirk (3) and Point (7) nabbed the assists on Kucherov’s goal at 15:28.

Moments later, Victor Hedman was sent to the box for holding at 17:40, but Boston wasn’t able to muster anything on the ensuing skater advantage.

Through 40 minutes of play in Game 2, the game was tied, 2-2.

Tampa led in shots on goal, 23-16– including a, 12-7, advantage in the second period alone– as well as in takeaways (3-2), giveaways (9-5) and faceoff win% (52-48).

Entering the second intermission, the Bruins held the advantage in blocked shots (11-6) and hits (35-29).

The Bolts were 0/1 and the B’s were 1/3 on the power play heading into the final frame.

Clifton was charged with an interference minor to kick off the final frame of regulation 35 seconds into the third period, presenting the Lightning with another power play, but the Bolts had no thunder on the skater advantage.

Midway through the third, Coleman (3) broke through Boston’s defense with Clifton on his tail and fired a shot that plunked its way through Halak’s five-hole and trickled over the goal line to give Tampa their first lead of the night at 10:40 of the third period.

Hedman (3) had the only assist on Coleman’s second goal of the night and the Bruins trailed for the first time on Tuesday, 3-2.

Almost six minutes later, Marchand (6) notched his second goal of the game on a setup from Kuraly’s one touch pass across the slot to Marchand at the doorstep for the one-timer over Vasilevskiy’s outstretched leg pad.

Kuraly (2) and Pastrnak (6) tallied the assists on Marchand’s goal– tying the game, 3-3, at 16:02.

At the end of regulation, the game was even on the scoreboard, 3-3, while the Lightning held the advantage in shots on goal, 31-24, despite both teams recording eight shots on net in the third period alone.

Boston led in blocked shots (23-18), while Tampa led in takeaways (5-4), giveaways (15-7) and faceoff win% (52-48).

Both teams had 43 hits aside, while the Bolts were 0/2 and the B’s were 1/3 on the power play heading into overtime.

From the drop of the puck in the extra frame, the Lightning dominated– a trend that had been apparent all night, despite whatever the scoreboard read.

After the Bruins botched several attempts to clear their own zone or work a pass to one of their own teammates instead of giving it away, the Lightning thundered their way to the crease and scored on a loose puck after Palat (1) found a rebound and pocketed the rubber biscuit over Halak’s pad on the short side.

Yannie Gourde (3) and Pat Maroon (2) had the assists on Palat’s game-winning goal at 4:40 of the overtime period as the Lightning came away with the, 4-3, victory in Game 2– tying the series, 1-1, in the process.

Tampa finished the night leading in shots on goal, 40-25– including a, 9-1, advantage in overtime alone– as well as in giveaways, 15-10.

Boston wrapped up Game 2 with the advantage in blocked shots (27-18), hits (47-43) and faceoff win% (52-48).

The Bolts finished 0/2 and the B’s finished 1/3 on the power play Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, all seven of Tampa Bay’s wins in the postseason have been by one-goal.

Tuesday’s victory gave Vasilevskiy his 22nd career Stanley Cup Playoffs win– establishing a new Lightning franchise record in the process, having surpassed the previous record set by Nikolai Khabibulin and Ben Bishop (21 career playoff wins in a Bolts uniform).

The Lightning improved to 3-0 in overtime this postseason, while the Bruins fell to 1-1, as well as 28-3 all time in the postseason when Marchand scores at least one goal.

Boston also fell to 2-2 when tied after one, 1-2 when tied after two and 1-1 when tied after three periods in the 2020 postseason.

Game 3 is set for Wednesday night with the Bruins designated as the home team at Scotiabank Arena. Puck drop is expected a little after 8 p.m. ET and viewers in the United States can tune to NBCSN to catch the action, while those in Canada can view the game on CBC, SN or TVAS.

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NHL Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Bruins roar to, 3-2, victory in Game 1 against Tampa

Brad Marchand had a pair of points– including the eventual de facto game-winning goal– as the Boston Bruins defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning, 3-2, at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on Sunday night in Game 1 of their 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs Second Round matchup.

Jaroslav Halak (4-1 in five games this postseason, 2.23 goals against average, .921 save percentage) made 35 saves on 37 shots faced for a .946 SV% in the win for the Bruins.

Lightning goaltender, Andrei Vasilevskiy (6-3 in nine games this postseason, 2.09 GAA, .925 SV%) stopped 28 out of 31 shots for a .903 SV% in the loss.

For the first time since the Lightning beat the Bruins in five games in the 2018 Second Round, the two clubs meet once again in the Stanley Cup Playoffs– and it just so happens to also be the Second Round.

Both teams are 1-1 in all time postseason series’ against one another, as Boston defeated Tampa in seven games in the 2011 Eastern Conference Final prior to their five game ousting at the hands of the Bolts in 2018.

B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, re-inserted Anders Bjork and Nick Ritchie into his lineup– with Bjork to the right and Ritchie to the left of Charlie Coyle on the third line– while Jack Studnicka and Par Lindholm were scratched.

As a result of the “new” third line from Game 5 against the Carolina Hurricanes in the First Round to Game 1 against the Lightning in the Second Round, Sean Kuraly was once again in his usual role as the fourth line center.

Cassidy made no other changes to his lineup and opted to start Kuraly’s line against Tampa’s energy line.

Boston’s long list of scratches included Zach Senyshyn, Lindholm, John Moore, Maxime Lagacé, Urho Vaakanainen, Jakub Zboril, Studnicka, Jeremy Lauzon, Trent Frederic and Karson Kuhlman.

Tampa’s long list of scratches for Sunday’s matchup included Luke Schenn, Mathieu Joseph, Jan Rutta, Braydon Coburn, Mitchell Stephens, Steven Stamkos, Alexander Volkov and Scott Wedgewood.

Stamkos has not practiced since mid July and has been out of the lineup since having “core muscle surgery” in March. He was originally on track to be sidelined for six-to-eight weeks.

At puck drop, Bruins captain, Zdeno Chara took sole possession of the second-most playoff games in Bruins franchise history as he’s suited up in 146 career Stanley Cup Playoff games in the spoked-B– surpassing Wayne Cashman (145 playoff games in Boston), who’s now tied for third with Patrice Bergeron (who tied Cashman’s number of games on Sunday).

Ray Bourque is the all-time franchise leader with 180 career postseason games as a Bruin.

Less than a minute into the action, Chara was whistled for a cross checking infraction 29 seconds into the first period– yielding the game’s first power play to the Lightning.

Tampa couldn’t convert on the ensuing skater advantage, however, and the officials returned the favor for what was otherwise a thing threshold with a makeup call that was also questionable at best.

Mikhail Sergachev cut a rut to the penalty box for holding Chris Wagner at 11:40, but the Bruins weren’t able to capitalize on their first power play of the night.

Late in the opening frame, however, Brandon Carlo rocketed a shot from the point that Coyle (3) redirected over Vasilevksiy’s blocker into the upper 90 to give Boston the game’s first goal.

Carlo (1) and Marchand (5) tallied the assists on Coyle’s goal as the B’s went ahead, 1-0, at 18:52 of the first period.

Entering the first intermission, Boston led, 1-0, on the scoreboard and in shots on goal, 15-10.

The Bruins also held the advantage in takeaways (4-3), giveaways (4-0) and hits (18-10), while both teams had five blocked shots aside and were 50-50 in faceoff win percentage.

Each club was 0/1 on the power play after one period, as well.

Early in the middle frame, Victor Hedman tripped up Bjork and was sent to the sin bin at 3:08 of the second period.

While on the ensuing power play, the Bruins were moving the puck around the attacking zone with ease, but just hadn’t quite nailed the timing until David Krejci waited for the right passing lane to open up and fired a pass through the slot for David Pastrnak (2) to score on a one-timer from his usual spot at the faceoff dot to Vasilevskiy’s right side.

Pastrnak’s power-play goal gave Boston the, 2-0, lead and was assisted by Krejci (7) and Torey Krug (4) at 4:34 of the second period.

With the primary assist, Krejci’s ongoing point streak was extended to seven games– the longest since Bergeron’s seven-game point streak for Boston in the 2014 postseason.

About a minute later, Bergeron was sent to the box for holding, presenting the Bolts with a power play opportunity at 5:50 of the middle period.

Tampa didn’t score on the ensuing advantage, however.

Midway through the second period, Wagner was penalized for roughing against Tyler Johnson at 13:36, but once again the Lightning couldn’t muster any thunder on the power play.

Late in the period, Alex Killorn ran through Charlie McAvoy while the Bruins defender didn’t have the puck on his stick.

As a result, Killorn brought upon himself an interference minor at 16:46, but the Bruins didn’t score on the ensuing advantage.

Through 40 minutes of play Sunday night, the B’s led the Bolts, 2-0, on the scoreboard, despite trailing Tampa in shots on goal, 28-22– including an, 18-7, advantage for the Lightning in the second period alone.

The Bruins held the advantage in blocked shots (13-11), takeaways (9-7), giveaways (9-5), hits (29-23) and faceoff win% (59-41), however, as the teams returned to their dressing rooms for the second intermission.

Tampa was 0/3 and Boston was 1/3 on the power play heading into the final frame.

Boston’s first line worked the puck deep, Bergeron lifted a stick to free the rubber biscuit, then sent it to Pastrnak for a quick pass to Marchand (3) for the one-timer from point blank while free and clear of any Lightning defenders to make it, 3-0, for the Bruins.

Pastrnak (4) and Bergeron (5) notched the assists on Marchand’s goal at 1:17 of the third period and the B’s had a commanding three-goal lead.

Well, until midway in the third period, but not before both teams skated 4-on-4 for a couple of minutes after Ritchie and Zach Bogosian exchanged brief pleasantries resulting in roughing minors at 2:49 of the third period.

Hedman (2) jumped on a loose puck in the high slot and fired a shot under Halak’s glove while McAvoy inadvertently screened his own goaltender, cutting Boston’s lead back down to two-goals and putting the Lightning on the scoreboard, 3-1, at 8:50 of the third.

Brayden Point (6) and Ondrej Palat (3) tabbed the assists on Hedman’s first goal of the night.

Bolts head coach, Jon Cooper, pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker with about 2:29 remaining in the third period and Tampa was able to pull to within one when Hedman (again) fired a shot from the point off of McAvoy in front of his own goaltender while Pat Maroon acted as a screen for the Lightning.

Hedman (3) had his second goal of the night on a deflection off of McAvoy past Halak and the Lightning trailed, 3-2, at 18:46.

Kevin Shattenkirk (2) and Johnson (2) tallied the assists on the goal, but it was too little, too late for Tampa.

Despite vacating the crease for another extra attacker opportunity with one minute left in regulation, the Bruins worked a couple of chances in the offensive zone to hit the open twine, but missed, while the Bolts failed to send the game-tying goal past Halak at the other end.

At the final horn, Boston secured the, 3-2, win in Game 1 and took the, 1-0, series lead, despite trailing in shots on goal, 37-31.

The Bruins finished the night with the advantage in blocked shots (20-19), giveaways (10-9) and faceoff win% (59-42), while the Lightning completed the effort leading in hits (39-37).

Tampa finished 0/3 and Boston went 1/3 on the power play on Sunday, while Marchand tied Ken Hodge and Don Marcotte for ninth on Boston’s all-time postseason goal scoring list with his 34th career Stanley Cup Playoffs goal.

He also tied Bobby Orr for seventh on the team’s all-time list in postseason points with the Bruins with his 91st and 92nd career Stanley Cup Playoff points to aid his 1-1–2 totals in Game 1.

Game 2 is set for Tuesday night in the Toronto bubble with puck drop expected a little after 7 p.m. ET. Viewers in the United States can catch the action on NBCSN, while those in Canada can tune to CBC, SN or TVAS.