The DTFR Duo runs through some Tampa Bay Lightning franchise records, Conor McGregor reactions, hands out more awards, fixes the NHL and takes a look at how things are shaping up in the Pacific Division for the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
We’re less than a month away from the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, so let’s take a gander at how things should shape up for the Central Division.
The Tampa Bay Lightning clinched the first postseason berth this season, Quinn Hughes signed his entry-level contract with the Vancouver Canucks, Shane Wright was granted exceptional status and the DTFR Duo presented the first few individual season awards.
*Zach Boychuk wasn’t actually on… …this time around, anyway.*
The DTFR Duo honors Ted Lindsay, addresses a potential outdoor game hosted by the Carolina Hurricanes, talk John Tavares’ “welcome” back to Long Island, can’t figure out the Ottawa Senators coaching change circus and more.
Happy Meteorological Spring (and when the time comes, actual Spring too as the Spring Equinox falls on… well, it’s written on the calendar in your office somewhere).
Of course, the only day that really matters in March is the 18th (you thought I was going to say the 17th, but we can’t all pretend to be Irish now, can we?).
If you’re new to the sport, that’s the day the Lord Stanley of Preston first presented the idea of the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup back in 1892 and thus the Stanley Cup was first played for and awarded in 1893.
The original Cup resides in an old bank vault at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, Ontario and was purchased for ten guineas, which was $48.67 at the time or almost $1,400 in contemporary times.
Anyway, March is a pretty important month.
Teams have added or subtracted to their rosters from the trade deadline and are looking to go down the stretch without any additional injuries or worries heading into the postseason (or for some, the offseason).
Feeling lucky? Is this the year your bracket won’t be busted in the First Round? Let the madness begin with a look at the latest standings forecast* across the league based on all 31 NHL teams’ performances through February 28, 2019.
*Standard disclaimer: This forecast is not an exact science, but rather an educated guess among recent and season long trends, with a foundation steeped in recent records over the last few seasons.
In simple terms, just focus on the standing within the division and less on the point spread. A team isn’t eliminated from postseason contention until they are mathematically eliminated.
Anything can still happen (relatively, of course).
Projected Standings After Five Months
- p-Tampa Bay Lightning, 121 points (65 games played entering March 1st)
- x-Boston Bruins, 115 points (64 GP)
- x-Toronto Maple Leafs, 105 points (64 GP)
- wc1-Montreal Canadiens, 103 points (64 GP)
- wc2-Buffalo Sabres, 90 points (63 GP)
- Florida Panthers, 82 points (63 GP)
- Ottawa Senators, 61 points (64 GP)
- Detroit Red Wings, 60 points (64 GP)
In the Atlantic Division, the Tampa Bay Lightning are still on pace for what could almost be the best regular season in league history. Their franchise record ten-game winning streak was halted by the re-hot Boston Bruins on Feb. 28th.
Tampa should still lock up the division (if not the President’s Trophy) with ease, though they are beatable– as proven by the Bruins recent win (ignoring the back-to-back games), as well as the St. Louis Blues’ 1-0 overtime victory on Feb. 7th (more on the Blues later).
Boston, meanwhile, is surging at the right time. After going 7-7-0 in December and 6-3-3 in January, the B’s went without a regulation loss in the month of February, finishing with an 11-0-2 record.
It was the 9th time in franchise history and first time since November 2011, that the Bruins went without a regulation loss in an entire calendar month.
Not to be outdone, the Toronto Maple Leafs are still very alive and well in a divisional spot and for the second straight season appear destined to battle the Bruins in a First Round rematch from last season.
At least one of the Eastern Conference wild card spots in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs will be filled by an Atlantic Division team– the first of which being the Montreal Canadiens.
The Habs are in the hunt and could knock the Maple Leafs out of the last divisional spot with a good run down the stretch, while the second wild card spot is a little harder to project.
It could be the Buffalo Sabres or it could very well be a team that’s surging in the Metropolitan Division.
- y-New York Islanders, 113 points (63 GP)
- x-Columbus Blue Jackets, 101 points (63 GP)
- x-Washington Capitals, 92 points (64 GP)
- Carolina Hurricanes, 89 points (63 GP)
- Pittsburgh Penguins, 87 points (63 GP)
- New York Rangers, 77 points (63 GP)
- Philadelphia Flyers, 74 points (64 GP)
- New Jersey Devils, 61 points (64 GP)
John Tavares wasn’t well-received in his first trip back to Long Island since leaving the New York Islanders for the Leafs in free agency last July, however, Barry Trotz has been adored by Isles fans as the coach of the Metropolitan Division’s best team.
Despite adding a lot of firepower leading up to the trade deadline, the Columbus Blue Jackets aren’t quite a surefire powerhouse in the division, but they should be good enough for home ice advantage in the First Round and a rematch with the defending Stanley Cup champion, Washington Capitals.
It’s a wide-open race for two or three potential playoff spots in the Metropolitan Division, as the Capitals, Carolina Hurricanes and Pittsburgh Penguins all have their sights set on one of two remaining divisional spots or at least one wild card spot in the postseason.
Despite the Capitals edging the Hurricanes and Penguins in this forecast, gut feeling indicates there’s sure to be an upset before the brackets are even finalized.
Carolina is playing really well lately and as those bunch of jerks have shown all season long– you can’t count them out. They also reached 70 points in 61 games played for just the second time in franchise history this season.
The last time they did that was in the 2005-06 season– you know, the one they went on to beat the Edmonton Oilers in the 2006 Stanley Cup Final.
As for the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers, well, there’s always a chance things go south for some of the teams ahead of them– except the Rangers are rebuilding and the Flyers have gone zero weeks without an injury to one of the eight goaltenders they’ve used this season.
- y-Winnipeg Jets, 104 points (63 GP)
- x-St. Louis Blues, 100 points (63 GP)
- x-Nashville Predators, 93 points (66 GP)
- wc1-Colorado Avalanche, 92 points (64 GP)
- Minnesota Wild, 85 points (64 GP)
- Dallas Stars, 84 points (64 GP)
- Chicago Blackhawks, 75 points (64 GP)
The Western Conference as a whole has been weaker than the Eastern Conference this season, but no division has been quite as lively as the Central Division.
While the Winnipeg Jets soar into the postseason as the top-team in the Central, the St. Louis Blues are attempting to go from last to first– and then some.
St. Louis might not stop at potentially leading the Central Division by the time the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs begin– they could just very well go on to win the Cup. The Blues are that hot.
Meanwhile, the Nashville Predators added a lot of grit leading up to the trade deadline, acquiring Cody McLeod, Brian Boyle and Wayne Simmonds to bolster their crunch to go along with new addition, Mikael Granlund‘s scoring ability.
Anyway, they’ve been slipping as of late and appear destined to miss out on home ice advantage in what will likely be a First Round matchup with St. Louis.
Finally, one of the Western wild cards will surely come from the Central Division teams. Whether that’s the Colorado Avalanche, Minnesota Wild or Dallas Stars will depend on how hot Colorado’s first line is and/or how injured the Wild and Stars are.
Kudos to the Chicago Blackhawks for setting the second half of the season ablaze, though not nearly as mightily as the Blues have, but they’ll still end up last in the Central, but about mid-pack league-wide.
- z-Calgary Flames, 111 points (64 GP)
- x-San Jose Sharks, 107 points (64 GP)
- x-Vegas Golden Knights, 100 points (65 GP)
- wc2-Arizona Coyotes, 91 points (64 GP)
- Vancouver Canucks, 88 points (65 GP)
- Edmonton Oilers, 84 points (64 GP)
- Anaheim Ducks, 75 points (64 GP)
- Los Angeles Kings, 68 points (64 GP)
In the most disappointing division of the season, the Calgary Flames have risen a cut above the rest in the West. Not only do they look to lead the conference, but they look to do so in style.
The Flames are a team that’s destined for a deeper run than just a First or Second Round exit in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but how much will recent playoff experience for the San Jose Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights play into Calgary’s chances of going far?
Vegas hasn’t been as dominant as they were in their inaugural season, however the Sharks have also had a few slip ups in the last month.
Both teams are looking like they’ll meet in the First Round– a round sooner than their Second Round matchup last postseason. It’s a rematch for the ages for the Golden Knights, as the young franchise looks to continue to add to the nearly 30 years of dismal playoff failure for San Jose.
One of the biggest– and most pleasant– surprises in the Western Conference? The Arizona Coyotes.
The team is destined for a wild card spot this season and just might spoil the party for more than just who they cut out of the playoff picture.
For the Vancouver Canucks, it’s a battle until the end. They might make it, they might not, but next season should be better– just stay the course.
And if you’re the Edmonton Oilers, Anaheim Ducks and/or the Los Angeles Kings, you’ve got a lot of work to do in the offseason.
The St. Louis Blues just keep on winning (11 straight, to be exact). Can they win it all? The Tampa Bay Lightning are not Stanley Cup favorites according to Nick– nobody is! Did the Edmonton Oilers win a trade? Cory Schneider won a game! and other milestones from the last week, as well as whatever happened in the Boston Bruins vs San Jose Sharks game on Monday.
Whether you’re looking for love or looking to win the Stanley Cup, February is an active month.
Some teams are buying in on false promises that will ultimately end in heartbreak. Others are selling and living the single life.
In either case, most teams will be suited for a stretch run– ’til death do [them] part (or they miss out on the playoffs altogether or are eliminated in the postseason).
So let’s see if it’s a match between your team and finishing first in the divisional standings in this new forecast based on how the league standings were through January 31, 2019.
Before you scroll down to the tinder box that is known as the comment section and go bumbling on how wrong these numbers will be, keep in mind there’s no guarantees with any forecast.
It’s not always about the exact number of points expected on the season, but rather the general trends indicated or “educated” guesses that are shown.
The focus might be on the spread or positioning in the standings more than any specifics. Context is key and nothing’s impossible until it’s mathematically impossible.
Without further ado, it’s time to take a look at the potential dates available for this season.
Projected Standings After Four Months
- p-Tampa Bay Lightning, 130 points (50 GP entering Feb. 1st)
- x-Toronto Maple Leafs, 110 points (49 GP)
- x-Montreal Canadiens, 104 points (51 GP)
- wc1-Buffalo Sabres, 102 points (50 GP)
- wc2-Boston Bruins, 97 points (51 GP)
- Florida Panthers, 77 points (48 GP)
- Detroit Red Wings, 67 points (51 GP)
- Ottawa Senators, 66 points (50 GP)
In the Atlantic Division the Tampa Bay Lightning are flirting with the President’s Trophy and a 130 point season. But can they take home the best looking person in school or will the Calgary Flames have anything to say about it and steal their date? (more on that later)
The Toronto Maple Leafs are smitten with 2nd place in their division, but searching for the one to take them all the way (to the Cup). Is this the year that it finally happens?
While the Boston Bruins have been coming up short in sealing the deal (they went 6-3-3 in January, which was a marginal improvement from 7-7-0 in December), the Montreal Canadiens have been eyeing the last divisional spot in the Atlantic.
If the Buffalo Sabres can get over their recent dry spell, they’re sure to rebound well and land with the first wild card in the Eastern Conference– successfully reaching the postseason for the first time since 2011.
At the bottom of the division, it’s more of the same– the exact same (standings-wise) from last month.
- y-New York Islanders, 113 points (49 GP)
- x-Pittsburgh Penguins, 99 points (50 GP)
- x-Columbus Blue Jackets, 98 points (50 GP)
- Washington Capitals, 93 points (50 GP)
- Carolina Hurricanes, 89 points (50 GP)
- New York Rangers, 79 points (50 GP)
- Philadelphia Flyers, 73 points (51 GP)
- New Jersey Devils, 68 points (50 GP)
Things are looking up for the New York Islanders as they continue to hookup with some top-notch strategy put forth by head coach, Barry Trotz. Robin Lehner has been stellar and everyone’s buying in on being accountable as a team.
Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins are in a long-term committed relationship with making the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but will this one bring another ring to it?
“Don’t go breaking my heart//I wouldn’t if I [actually] tried,” said Sergei Bobrovsky as he let down Columbus Blue Jackets fans with subpar goaltending, despite somehow clinching the last playoff spot in the Metropolitan Division.
The Stanley Cup looks like it will be in another’s arms given the recent stretch of play from the Washington Capitals as the team goes through a breakup with the postseason for 2019.
If things get steamy it’s only because the Carolina Hurricanes are storming and desperately making a charge to quench their postseason thirst.
There’s not much to be said about the bottom three teams in this division either. Even if Carter Hart is stealing hearts in the City of Brotherly Love. Swipe left.
- y-Winnipeg Jets, 116 points (51 GP)
- x-Nashville Predators, 96 points (52 GP)
- x-Dallas Stars, 86 points (50 GP)
- Minnesota Wild, 86 points (50 GP)
- Colorado Avalanche, 85 points (50 GP)
- St. Louis Blues, 77 points (49 GP)
- Chicago Blackhawks, 66 points (51 GP)
The Winnipeg Jets are soaring on cloud nine with the Central Division title this season as the Nashville Predators have hit some bumps in the road throughout the season.
It’s a rocky relationship for the Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche in terms of playoff berths. The spread between the three teams in the latest forecast indicates it’s still anybody’s game and though the Stars are tagged as being above the cutoff line in this display, they aren’t safe and sound.
The St. Louis Blues are creeping their way into a playoff spot in reality, but things could very well go back to the way it was before Jordan Binnington came along as the right man to be number one in Blues fans’ hearts.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Blackhawks might as well consciously uncouple with their expendable assets by the end of the month– if not before.
- z-Calgary Flames, 123 points (51 GP)
- x-Vegas Golden Knights, 108 points (52 GP)
- x-San Jose Sharks, 103 points (52 GP)
- wc1-Vancouver Canucks, 88 points (51 GP)
- wc2-Arizona Coyotes, 87 points (50 GP)
- Edmonton Oilers, 79 points (50 GP)
- Anaheim Ducks, 74 points (51 GP)
- Los Angeles Kings, 65 points (50 GP)
Things are heating up in Calgary as the Flames have not just been good– they’re really good. Calgary continues to surge into a definite number one seed in not just the Pacific Division, but the Western Conference as a whole.
What’s more impressive? The Flames are closing in on the Bolts in the President’s Trophy race. A few odd puck bounces going either way could really hamper what everyone thought Tampa’s all season long.
Meanwhile, the Vegas Golden Knights are feeling lucky as a rematch with the San Jose Sharks is looking more and more like it’s going to happen.
It’s a wild race for the wild card berths in the Western Conference, which means that the Vancouver Canucks and Arizona Coyotes could end up on either side of the fence, depending on what kind of dance partner they’re interested in acquiring at the trade deadline.
Is it time to buy, sell or continue to rebuild?
For the Edmonton Oilers, Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings, it’s time to rekindle the spark in their lives.
Auston Matthews signed an extension with the Toronto Maple Leafs. What does this mean for the Leafs? Alex Stalock, Jordan Martinook and Pheonix Copley all signed extensions with their clubs, as Tuukka Rask became the winningest goaltender in Boston Bruins history, Alex Ovechkin became the highest scoring Russian-born NHL player and Paul Maurice reached 1,500 games behind the bench as a head coach.
The DTFR Duo also reviewed all 31 NHL teams as buyers and/or sellers at the 2019 trade deadline.
The Edmonton Oilers fired their president of hockey operations and General Manager, Peter Chiarelli (April 2015-January 2019). The club officially made the announcement after the DTFR Duo finished recording this week’s episode.
There won’t be a 2020 World Cup of Hockey and there were a few milestones to go along with a bunch of minor trades made this week.
Nick and Connor talk the latest trades, Torts drama (and latest record), Casey DeSmith’s extension with the Pittsburgh Penguins, as well as a tribute to the careers of Rick Nash and Josh Gorges who both announced their retirement this week.
Additionally, what’s up with the Edmonton Oilers and St. Louis Blues this season and why can’t they just pick a side? Plus, it’s time to hand out awards for being slightly more than halfway through the 2018-19 regular season. #FlamingNotToFlamingHot
Sean Couturier recorded his first career hat trick in the Philadelphia Flyers’, 4-3, victory Wednesday night over the Boston Bruins on home ice.
Carter Hart (5-5-1 record, 2.72 goals against average, .915 save percentage in 11 games played) made 39 saves on 42 shots against for a .929 SV% in the win for Philadelphia.
Meanwhile, Bruins netminder, Jaroslav Halak (13-8-2, 2.46 GAA, .920 SV% in 25 GP) turned aside just 15 out of 19 shots faced for a .789 SV% in the loss and allowed four or more goals in his fourth straight appearance.
With his goal in the first period, Pastrnak surpassed Barry Pederson for the most goals in Bruins franchise history by a player prior to his 23rd birthday.
As a result of the loss, Boston is now 16-4-3 when scoring first this season.
The B’s fell to 26-15-5 (57 points) on the season and remained 3rd in the Atlantic Division, while the Flyers improved to 18-23-6 (42 points) and now trail the New Jersey Devils by one point for 7th in the Metropolitan Division. In other words, Philadelphia is still last in the Metro.
After Colby Cave was claimed off waivers by the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday, the Bruins brass called up 23-year-old, Peter Cehlarik, from the Providence Bruins (AHL).
Boston head coach, Bruce Cassidy, assured reporters prior to Wednesday night’s battle that Cehlarik would be inserted on the second line, sliding in to the left of David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk, with David Backes as the odd forward out of the lineup.
Cassidy made no other changes to his lineup.
Cehlarik riled up the Wells Fargo Center crowd when he boarded Travis Konecny at 1:25 into the first period– even more so when the Flyers weren’t able to score on the ensuing skater advantage.
It only took 15 seconds on the power play for the Bruins to crack the code on Hart as Torey Krug sent a cross-ice pass to Pastrnak (27) for the one-timer from one knee near the side of the goal to give Boston the lead, 1-0.
Pastrnak’s 13th power play goal leads the NHL in that stat category and was assisted by Krug (26) and Brad Marchand (33) at 4:39 of the first period.
Moments later, Cehlarik (1) followed up with his first goal of the season in his 2018-19 debut as Boston entered the zone on a rush led by DeBrusk that began with a pass from Krejci through the neutral zone.
Similar to Pastrnak’s goal, Cehlarik received a pass on the open weak side for the one-timer, but from the opposite side of the ice from where Pastrnak scored his goal from.
DeBrusk (4) and Krejci (27) were credited with the assists on Cehlarik’s first goal of the night and the Bruins led, 2-0, at 9:12.
A few minutes later, Philadelphia answered back on the scoreboard with a similar rush going the opposite way resulting in Lindblom (5) firing a shot past Halak’s blocker side on the short side to cut the lead in half, 2-1.
Entering the first intermission, the Bruins led, 2-1, on the scoreboard and, 12-7, in shots on goal.
Boston also held onto the advantage in blocked shots (6-5) and hits (12-6), while Philly led in takeaways (4-3) and giveaways (7-2). Both teams were 50-50 in face-off win percentage, while the Flyers were 0/1 on the power play and the B’s were 1/1 on the skater advantage through one period.
Early in the second period, with momentum going their way, the Flyers pounced early on a shot by Jakub Voracek that was tipped in by Couturier (17) to tie the game, 2-2, at 5:32 of the middle frame.
Voracek (27) and Travis Sanheim (11) notched the assists on the goal and less than a minute later, Philadelphia had a tremendous opportunity to take advantage of the scoreboard on the power play after Patrice Bergeron tripped up Couturier at 6:10.
Just 37 seconds into the ensuing skater advantage for the Flyers, after Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner failed to convert on a shorthanded bid and were caught up ice, Philadelphia raced back the other way– catching the Bruins lagging behind the play.
With the B’s severely outnumbered, Couturier (18) rocketed home a one-timer goal past Halak to give the Flyers their first lead of the night, 3-2, at 6:47 of the second period.
Wayne Simmonds (8) and Giroux (38) had the assists on Philadelphia’s power play goal and first lead of the night.
Late in the second period, Lehtera hit Ryan Donato from behind and drove Donato’s face into the boards right where the glass meets the dasher, leaving Donato bloodied and headed for the dressing room as per concussion protocol.
Lehtera was given a five-minute major penalty for boarding and a game misconduct at 16:48, resulting in a power play for Boston that would carry into the third period.
The B’s failed to convert on their longest– guaranteed– extra skater advantage of the night.
After 40 minutes of play, Philadelphia held onto the lead, 3-2, despite being outshot by Boston, 29-14 (17-7 in the second period alone for the Bruins).
The Flyers dominated blocked shots (18-7), takeaways (9-7) and giveaways (10-5) through two periods as the Bruins entered the second intermission leading in hits (17-13) and face-off win% (58-42).
Both teams were 1/2 on the power play entering the third period.
Early in the final frame, Philadelphia was caught up in a poor line change, resulting in an automatic bench minor penalty for too many men on the ice.
Flyers head coach, Scott Gordon, sent Konecny to serve the minor penalty at 3:39 and Philadelphia killed off the ensuing shorthanded bid.
Scott Laughton hooked Pastrnak at 12:00 of the third period, but the Bruins did not score on the resulting power play opportunity.
Having killed off Laughton’s minor infraction, the Flyers went for the jugular in the vulnerable minute after a power play.
From the face-off dot to the right of Halak, Couturier (19) unloaded a wrist shot that Halak got a chunk of– but not enough of– as the puck twirled past the Boston goaltender and into the twine for Couturier’s first career hat trick at 13:53 of the third period.
Philadelphia led, 4-2, thanks to Couturier’s three goals and Lindblom (9) and Provorov (13) recorded the assists on his third goal Wednesday night.
With under two minutes to go in regulation, Cassidy pulled Halak for the extra attacker.
Boston was able to bring the game back to within one-goal as Marchand threw the puck towards net from almost the goal line for Cehlarik (2) to redirect for his second goal of the night at 18:54.
Marchand (34) and Krug (27) tallied the assists as the Bruins trailed, 4-3.
While attempting to disrupt an otherwise surefire empty net goal for the Flyers, Krejci interfered with Couturier at 19:44 and was surprisingly handed a two-minute minor penalty instead of automatically awarding Couturier with his fourth goal of the night.
The Bruins finished the game shorthanded as the final horn sounded on Philadelphia’s, 4-3, victory.
Boston finished the night leading in shots on goal (42-19), hits (18-17) and face-off win% (57-43), while the Flyers led in blocked shots (30-8) and giveaways (13-10).
The B’s went 1/4 on the power play Wednesday night, while Philly was 1/3.
For the first time since March 3-8, 1999, a player (Couturier) registered a hat trick in the National Hockey League in six consecutive days.
Boston heads back home to take on the St. Louis Blues on Thursday and finish up three games in four nights with a matchup on Saturday against the New York Rangers at TD Garden.
Saturday’s game is also the last game before the All-Star break for the Bruins. Pastrnak is the lone representative for the B’s that will be heading to SAP Center in San Jose, California for the weekend of festivities.