Tag Archives: Evgeny Kuznetsov

Bruins capitalize on, 7-3, win over Washington

The Boston Bruins routed the Washington Capitals, 7-3, on Monday night at TD Garden after scoring four goals in the first period on 11 shots.

Tuukka Rask (14-4-5 record, 2.32 goals against average, .923 save percentage in 23 games played) turned aside 39 out of 42 shots faced for a .929 SV% in the win for the Bruins.

Capitals goaltender, Braden Holtby (17-5-4, 2.87 GAA, .907 SV% in 27 games played) made seven saves on 11 shots against (6.36 SV%) before being replaced after the first period in the loss.

Ilya Samsonov (9-2-1, 2.39 GAA, .914 SV% in 13 games played) stopped three out of four shots faced (.750 SV%) for no decision after replacing Holtby for the final 40 minutes of action on Monday.

Boston improved to 22-7-9 (53 points) on the season and remained in 1st place in the Atlantic Division. Meanwhile, Washington fell to 26-7-5 (57 points) on the season and remained in 1st place in the
Metropolitan Division.

The B’s also improved to 13-1-8 at home this season with the victory.

Monday night marked the first time that the Bruins beat the Capitals at home since March 6, 2014. Gregory Campbell, Loui Eriksson and Brad Marchand each had a goal in Boston’s, 3-0, win that night.

Boston was without the services of Kevan Miller (knee), Karson Kuhlman (fractured tibia) and Zdeno Chara (infection) on Monday.

Miller missed his 38th game this season and has yet to make his season debut, while Kuhlman missed his 30th consecutive game since being injured in Toronto on Oct. 19th.

Chara, on the other hand, missed his 1st game this season due to injury after requiring surgery to take out the plates that were put in his jaw after originally breaking his jaw in Game 4 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final last June.

As a result, John Moore returned to the lineup and took over the left side of the top defensive pairing with Charlie McAvoy after missing the last two games with an illness.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made minor adjustments to his lineup, re-inserting Joakim Nordstrom on the fourth line while scratching Chris Wagner as a result.

Nordstrom returned to his fourth line left wing role, while Sean Kuraly moved up to the left side of the third line and Anders Bjork took over on the third line right wing with Wagner scratched.

Wagner and David Backes were the only healthy scratches for the B’s on Monday.

Nick Jensen caught Kuraly with a high stick and presented Boston with their first power play of the night at 1:30 of the first period.

The Bruins did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Moments later, Radko Gudas hooked Marchand at 5:28 of the opening frame and the B’s went back on the power play.

Nine seconds into the ensuing skater advantage, Jake DeBrusk (9) slid a rebound through Holtby’s five-hole to give Boston their first power play goal of the night and the, 1-0, lead at 5:37.

David Krejci (18) and Matt Grzelcyk (8) had the assists on DeBrusk’s goal.

For the third time this season, the Bruins scored first against the Capitals. Boston went 0-1-1 in their previous meetings with Washington entering Monday.

Almost midway through the first period, McAvoy tripped Lars Eller and received a minor penalty at 8:54.

The Caps couldn’t convert on the resulting skater advantage.

Less than five minutes later, Marchand (19) followed up on a rebound and pocketed the puck in the twine for his first goal in 12 games at 13:29.

David Pastrnak (24) and McAvoy (13) tallied the assists on Marchand’s goal and the Bruins extended their lead to, 2-0.

Boston scored again, 27 seconds later, when Bjork (6) fired a one-timer through Holtby’s seven-hole to give Boston a three-goal lead.

Charlie Coyle (12) tallied the only assist on Bjork’s goal at 13:56 and the B’s led, 3-0.

Less than a minute later, Connor Clifton and Garnet Hathaway both skated to the penalty box at 14:46, presenting both clubs with two minutes of 4-on-4 action while Clifton was in the sin bin for slashing and Hathaway was in the box for cross checking.

A few minutes later, Washington found themselves on the penalty kill once again– only this time the Capitals were going to be short by two skaters.

Boston had a full two-minute 5-on-3 power play as a result of Jakub Vrana tripping Pastrnak and Evgeny Kuznetsov slashing Krejci at 17:25 of the first period.

Less than a minute later, Patrice Bergeron (14) tipped in a shot from Pastrnak over Holtby’s blocker and gave the Bruins a four-goal lead.

Pastrnak (25) and Krejci (19) notched the assists on Bergeron’s power play goal at 18:57 and the B’s led, 4-0.

Bergeron’s goal marked the first time that the Bruins had a four-goal lead over Washington since Oct. 30, 2002– when Cassidy was then head coach of the Capitals– according to 98.5 The Sports Hub’s, Ty Anderson.

It was also the first four-goal first period this season for Boston.

After one period of play on Monday, Boston led Washington, 4-0, on the scoreboard and, 11-8, in shots on goal.

The Bruins also held the advantage in takeaways (5-2), giveaways (5-2) and faceoff win percentage (64-36), while the Caps led in blocked shots (7-2) and hits (12-8) entering the first intermission.

Washington was 0/1 on the skater advantage, while the B’s were 2/4 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

Capitals head coach, Todd Reirden, replaced Holtby with Samsonov to start the second period and Washington limited Boston’s chances to score for the remainder of the night.

DeBrusk slashed Gudas at 2:05 of the second period and was sent to the penalty box as a result, but the Caps didn’t convert on the ensuing power play.

After killing off DeBrusk’s minor, Krejci was the next Bruin to take a skate to the sin bin and serve a minor infraction for tripping Dmitry Orlov at 5:06.

Wes McCauley blew the whistle to make the call despite Boston not having possession of the puck and a would be Washington own goal taking place at the same time, but the league ruled the play “not reviewable”.

In the meantime, Bruins defender, Torey Krug, quietly exited the game down the tunnel after taking a huge hit from Tom Wilson. Krug did not return in the third period and was ruled out for the night with an upper body injury as Boston later tweeted.

While shorthanded, Marchand sent Coyle (7) on a breakaway whereby the B’s third liner scored on Samsonov’s glove side for his 100th career NHL goal.

Marchand (34) had the only assist on Coyle’s shorthanded goal and the Bruins led, 5-0, at 6:55 of the second period.

Late in the middle frame, Alex Ovechkin (23) wired a shot over Rask’s blocker with traffic in front of the net to disrupt Rask’s shutout attempt and cut Boston’s lead to four goals.

Wilson (14) and John Carlson (35) had the assists as Washington trailed, 5-1, at 14:35.

Less than 20 seconds later, Carlson slashed Kuraly and was assessed a minor infraction at 14:53, but the B’s did not capitalize on the resulting power play.

Through 40 minutes of action on Monday, Boston led Washington, 5-1, on the scoreboard and trailed the Caps, 25-13, in shots on goal as Washington outshot Boston, 17-2, in the second period alone.

The Capitals also held the advantage in takeaways (8-7) and hits (25-16), while the Bruins led in blocked shots (10-8), giveaways (9-2) and faceoff win% (54-46) heading into the final frame of regulation.

Washington was 0/3 on the power play and Boston was 2/5.

Ovechkin kicked things off with a holding penalty at 4:59 of the third period, but Boston wasn’t able to convert on the ensuing power play and was caught with too many men on the ice in the vulnerable minute after their advantage ended at 7:28.

The Capitals, however, couldn’t score on the power play while DeBrusk served the bench minor.

Midway through the final frame of regulation, Wilson hit Pastrnak, then speared him, which led to the two players exchanging pleasantries near the benches and an ensuing scrum at center ice began between the two clubs.

Wilson and Pastrnak each received roughing minors at 13:26, but Wilson earned an extra misconduct for his actions.

Meanwhile, Boston had ended up with too many skaters as a result of a line change as things escalated between Pastrnak and Wilson, so Washington ended up with a power play opportunity as DeBrusk went back to the box to serve the Bruins’ bench minor.

Lars Eller (8) redirected Vrana’s shot under Rask’s glove and brought the Capitals to within three goals at 15:29.

Vrana (16) and Gudas (10) collected the assists on Eller’s goal as Washington trailed, 5-2, with less than five minutes left in the action.

Reirden pulled Samsonov for an extra attacker with about 3:40 remaining in regulation, but Krejci (8) tallied an empty net goal shortly thereafter once Kuraly picked off Ovechkin’s attempt to send the puck out of Washington’s defensive zone.

Kuraly (10) had the only assist on Krejci’s goal and the B’s led, 6-2, at 16:50 of the third period.

Less than a minute later, Hathaway (6) cleaned up a mishap to cut Boston’s lead to two goals as Jonas Siegenthaler bounced the puck off the endboards and Hathaway pounced on the loose puck for the goal.

Rask misread the play as his defenders opted not to reach for the puck thinking their goaltender would get it, but Rask thought his defense would get it instead and thus– Washington collected a goal as Boston was stuck in no man’s land.

Siegenthaler (6) had the only assist on Hathaway’s goal at 17:47 and the Bruins led, 6-3.

With 2:07 remaining in the game, Samsonov once again vacated the goal for an extra attacker, but Boston made sure to put the game away as Bergeron (15) collected his second goal of the game– this time on an empty net.

Bergeron’s empty net goal was assisted by Marchand (35) and Pastrnak (26) at 19:32 of the third period and sealed the deal on a, 7-3, victory for the Bruins.

This, after T.J. Oshie leveled McAvoy along the benches, ending the young defender’s night early, but avoiding any major injury as Cassidy indicated to reporters after the game.

Boston finished the night trailing Washington in shots on goal, 42-17, but led in blocked shots (13-10) and giveaways (10-8).

Meanwhile, the Capitals held the advantage in hits (40-19) and were even with the Bruins in faceoff win% (50-50) at the end of the game.

Washington went 0/5 and Boston went 2/6 on the power play on Monday.

The Bruins improved to 15-5-5 when scoring the game’s first goal, 13-3-1 when leading after the first period and 12-0-3 when leading after two periods this season.

Boston finished their four-game homestand (1-0-3) and enters the holiday break 21-7-9 overall on the season. The Bruins travel to Buffalo to take on the Sabres in a home-and-home on Dec. 27th before hosting Jack Eichel and his teammates on Dec. 29th. The B’s finish off the month of December in New Jersey on Dec. 31st.

Caps beat B’s, 3-2, in D.C.

John Carlson scored the game-winning goal moments after the Boston Bruins tied the game in the third period Wednesday night as the Washington Capitals defeated the B’s, 3-2, at Capital One Arena.

Braden Holtby (16-3-4 record, 2.80 goals against average, .911 save percentage in 24 games played) made 30 saves on 32 shots against for a .938 SV% in the win for the Capitals.

Bruins goaltender, Jaroslav Halak (7-3-3, 2.28 GAA, .927 SV% in 13 games played) stopped 22 out of 25 shots faced for an .880 SV% in the loss.

Boston fell to 20-6-6 (46 points) on the season, but remains in command of 1st place in the Atlantic Division.

Meanwhile, Washington improved to 23-5-5 (51 points) and remained atop the Metropolitan Division.

The Bruins fell to 8-5-1 on the road this season and are now on a four-game losing streak.

Boston was without the services of Kevan Miller (knee), Karson Kuhlman (fractured tibia) and Zach Senyshyn (lower body) against Washington on Wednesday.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made a few minor changes to his lineup from Monday night’s, 5-2, loss in Ottawa.

First, Cassidy swapped Brett Ritchie with Danton Heinen on the third line– reuniting Anders Bjork, Charlie Coyle and Heinen on the third line, while promoting Ritchie to the second line right wing with Jake DeBrusk at left wing and David Krejci at center.

Finally, on defense, Connor Clifton went back into the lineup on the third pairing in place of John Moore.

Moore was joined by Par Lindholm and David Backes as Boston’s healthy scratches on Wednesday.

Midway through the opening frame, David Pastrnak (26) scored the game’s first goal after not scoring in his last four games.

Charlie McAvoy (10) and Brad Marchand (29) had the assists on Pastrnak’s goal as the NHL’s leading goal scorer went off the bar and in over Holtby’s glove at 9:36 of the first period to give the Bruins the, 1-0, lead.

Less than a minute later, after Tom Wilson got a cross check up high on Zdeno Chara, the B’s captain dropped the gloves with the Caps winger and landed a few big blows before wrestling the forward to the ice.

Chara and Wilson each received five-minute majors for fighting at 10:14, while Wilson received an additional two-minute minor for cross checking that was served by Brendan Leipsic.

It was the 6th fight this season for Boston and the first since Moore fought Zack Smith against the Chicago Blackhawks on Dec. 5th.

The Bruins did not score on the ensuing power play.

Jakub Vrana tripped up Torey Krug moments later at 14:17 and the B’s went back on the skater advantage for the second time of the night.

Boston thought they scored and had made it a two-goal game when Patrice Bergeron received a quick drop pass from DeBrusk and pocketed the rubber biscuit in the twine while Holtby outstretched his paddle, but Washington’s head coach, Todd Reirden, used his coach’s challenge to determine whether or not the Bruins entered the zone offside.

After review, it was determined that DeBrusk had entered the zone with his skate in the air over the blue line– something that’s not good enough for now in the current interpretation of the rule, but perhaps going to be resolved next season– and the call on the ice was overturned. No goal. Do not pass “go”. Do not collect $200.

In the final minute of the period, Joakim Nordstrom caught Nicklas Backstrom with a high stick at 19:26.

Washington’s power play carried over into the second period as the Capitals couldn’t convert on the skater advantage with 34 seconds left before the first intermission.

After 20 minutes of action in D.C., the B’s led the Caps, 1-0, on the scoreboard.

Shots on goal were even, 8-8, but the Bruins had the slight advantage over the Capitals in all the other major statistical categories, leading in blocked shots (7-4), giveaways (3-2) and faceoff win percentage (58-42).

Washington led in takeaways (7-3) and hits (11-9) heading into the second period.

The Caps were 0/1 on the power play, while Boston was 0/2 on the skater advantage.

Early in the middle frame, Washington had too many skaters on the ice, yielding a bench minor in the process at 1:31 of the second period.

Once more, the Bruins were held powerless on the power play, however.

Seconds after their legal skater advantage ended, Chris Wagner was charged with interference at 3:48 and the Capitals went on the power play.

T.J. Oshie (12) followed a rebound and poked the puck into the net while Halak reached behind himself in desperation.

Oshie’s goal tied the game, 1-1, and was assisted by Carlson (33) at 4:35 of the second period.

Less than four minutes later, Oshie (13) again broke free of Boston’s defense by deking through Clifton and scoring a backhand goal over Halak’s blocker side to give the Capitals their first lead of the night, 2-1, at 8:05.

Evgeny Kuznetsov (19) and Vrana (13) had the assists on Oshie’s 2nd goal of the game.

Late in the period, Coyle was assessed a holding penalty at 17:28, but the Bruins managed to kill off the minor and escaped without harm while Washington was on the skater advantage.

Through two periods of play, the Capitals led the Bruins, 2-1, on the scoreboard, despite the B’s advantage in shots on goal in the second period alone, 15-6.

Boston led in total shots on net, 23-14, as well as blocked shots (12-8), giveaways (7-4) and faceoff win% (57-43).

Meanwhile, Washington led in takeaways (11-5) and hits (28-12).

The Caps were 1/3 on the power play and the Bruins were 0/3 heading into the third period.

Wilson interfered with Pastrnak 19 seconds into the third period and was penalized as such, but the Bruins didn’t score on the power play.

Less than a minute after their power play expired, the B’s found the back of the net and tied the game, 2-2, when Krug fired a shot from the point off a faceoff that Sean Kuraly (3) deflected from the faceoff dot to the right of Holtby.

Krug (16) had the only assist on Kuraly’s goal at 2:53 of the third period and surpassed Glen Wesley for 5th place in overall scoring for a Bruins defender in franchise history.

Ray Bourque leads all Boston defenders with 1,506 career points in a B’s sweater, followed by Bobby Orr (888), Chara (479), Brad Park (417) and Krug (308).

The game wasn’t tied for long before Carlson (12) blasted a one-timer while pinching in from the point to give the Capitals a, 3-2, lead at 4:42.

Backstrom (16) and Wilson (10) had the assists on Carlson’s goal and Washington never looked back for the rest of the game.

Though Carlsson was penalized for tripping Pastrnak at 6:04, Boston’s power play had nothing going for it and once again was unsuccessful.

Midway through the final frame of regulation, Ritchie got tangled up with Garnet Hathaway after a whistle and the two players received roughing minors at 10:13– resulting in two-minutes of 4-on-4 action.

With 1:43 remaining in the game, Cassidy utilized his timeout and pulled Halak for an extra attacker after a stoppage in play.

The Bruins were not successful in tying the game and forcing overtime as the final horn sounded– sealing the deal on Washington’s, 3-2, victory.

Boston finished the night with the advantage in shots on goal, 32-25, despite trailing in the third period alone, 11-9, to Washington.

The B’s finished Wednesday night leading in blocked shots (18-15), giveaways (15-9) and faceoff win% (59-41), while the Caps led in hits (40-20).

Washington went 1/3 on the skater advantage, while Boston finished the night 0/5 on the power play.

The Bruins have lost 16 out of their last 17 games against Washington, while the Capitals are 24-0-0 in games against Boston when Backstrom earns at least a point since he entered the league in the 2007-08 season.

The Bruins are now 11-2-0 when leading after the first period and 13-4-3 when scoring the game’s first goal this season. They are also 4-5-3 when trailing after two periods thus far.

Boston continues their four-game road trip (0-2-0) Thursday in Tampa with a matchup against the Lightning before wrapping up their current road trip in Sunrise, Florida on Saturday against the Panthers

Washington capitalizes on, 3-2, shootout win in Boston

Braden Holtby and the Washington Capitals came back to beat the Boston Bruins, 3-2, in a shootout on Saturday at TD Garden.

Holtby (10-1-3 record, 2.98 goals against average, .904 save percentage in 15 games played) is now 13-1-0 in his last 14 starts against Boston and made 21 saves on 23 shots against (.913 SV%) in the win for the Caps.

Jaroslav Halak (4-1-3, 2.57 GAA, .924 SV% in eight games played) stopped 42 out of 44 shots faced for a .955 SV% in the shootout loss.

Prior to puck drop, the Bruins held a moment of remembrance for Worcester firefighter, Jason Menard, who was killed while battling a fire on Wednesday.

Menard rescued a probationary firefighter and another member of his crew before a mayday was called around 1:32 in the morning after conditions worsened on the third floor of the three-decker building.

The Bruins fell to 12-3-5 (29 points) on the season, but remain 1st in the Atlantic Division after the loss.

Meanwhile, Washington is still in command of 1st place in the Metropolitan Division with a 15-3-4 record and 34 points on the season so far.

Boston fell to 7-0-4 at home as a result of Saturday’s loss.

Steven Kampfer served as Boston’s only healthy scratch with Kevan Miller (knee), John Moore (shoulder), Karson Kuhlman (fractured tibia), David Backes (upper body), Jake DeBrusk (lower body), Brett Ritchie (upper body), Torey Krug (upper body) and Zach Senyshyn (lower body) out of the lineup due to injury.

Joining them in the press box Saturday night was Patrice Bergeron (lower body), who sustained some discomfort during Friday night’s matchup in Toronto.

As a result, Paul Carey was recalled from the Providence Bruins (AHL).

The 31-year-old center has 13 points (seven goals, six assists) in 17 games with Providence this season and skated in his 100th career NHL game as a result of being recalled on Saturday.

Krug, in the meantime, was placed on the injured reserve on Saturday, despite skating earlier in the morning with Ritchie, DeBrusk and Moore.

Of the injured Bruins, Ritchie is the closest to returning to the lineup, according to B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy.

Cassidy juggled his lines from Friday night to Saturday night thanks to Bergeron’s day-to-day status, moving David Krejci up to center the first line with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak as his wings, while reuniting Anders Bjork, Charlie Coyle and Danton Heinen as a trio on the second line.

Boston’s usual fourth liners– Joakim Nordstrom, Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner– were promoted to third line duties, while Trent Frederic, Par Lindholm and Carey comprised of the new fourth line for Saturday night’s action.

The defensive pairings remained the same from Friday night against the Maple Leafs to Saturday night against the Capitals.

Midway through the opening period, Pastrnak hooked Jakub Vrana and was sent to the penalty box. The Caps didn’t convert on the ensuing power play at 8:03 of the first period.

In the vulnerable minute after special teams play, Heinen worked the puck deep into Boston’s attacking zone, then sent a pass to Coyle (4) as Coyle crashed the net and redirected the puck through Holtby’s five-hole– giving the Bruins a, 1-0, lead at 11:32 of the first period.

Heinen (5) and Charlie McAvoy (5) notched the assists on the goal.

The goal extended Coyle’s current point streak to four games (a career-high).

Moments later, Travis Boyd (1) tipped in a shot from the point while standing in front of Halak, tying the game, 1-1, in the process.

John Carlson (24) and Brendan Leipsic (5) tallied the assists on Boyd’s goal at 14:27.

With less than a minute remaining in the opening frame, Radko Gudas hooked Marchand and was sent to the sin bin, leaving Washington shorthanded into the second period as Boston couldn’t score on the skater advantage before time expired in the first period.

After one period in Boston, the score was tied, 1-1, while the Capitals led in shots on goal, 18-9. It was the most shots allowed by the Bruins in the first period at any point this season, but the B’s led in blocked shots (4-0) and takeaways (4-3) to make up for it.

Washington also managed the advantage in giveaways (9-3), hits (13-11) and faceoff win percentage (72-28) entering the first intermission.

Both teams were 0/1 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

The Capitals killed off the remainder of Gudas’ penalty early in the second period as things resumed at TD Garden.

Early in the period, McAvoy missed an empty net, sending the puck wide and off the endboards, whereby Pastrnak (17) gathered the carom and banked the puck into the twine to give Boston the lead, 2-1, at 3:30 of the second period.

McAvoy (6) and Krejci (9) picked up the assists on the goal as the Bruins surged out of the gate for the middle frame before falling back on a heavy defensive presence in their own zone for the remainder of the period.

About a minute later, Heinen hooked Leipsic and was sent to the box at 4:42.

Washington did not convert on the resulting skater advantage and responded with a penalty of their own midway through the period.

Holtby tripped up Carey as the Bruins forward skated by the crease, yielding a minor infraction for the Capitals goaltender that was served by Leipsic at 10:05.

With 16 seconds left in the period, Evgeny Kuznetsov cross checked McAvoy and was charged with a minor penalty at 19:44, meaning the B’s would still be on the power play into the third period if they couldn’t score by the end of the second period.

Boston didn’t score and carried their advantage into the third period as the Bruins led, 2-1, through 40 minutes of action Saturday night.

The Caps led in shots on goal, 30-15, after two periods– including a, 12-6, advantage in the second period alone– and held the advantage in takeaways (9-8), giveaways (11-9), hits (21-16) and faceoff win% (72-28), while the Bruins led in blocked shots (10-0).

Washington was 0/2 on the power play through two periods and Boston was 0/3 on the skater advantage in that same span.

Midway through the final frame of regulation, Tom Wilson tried to mix things up with McAvoy after each player had big hits in the third period.

Wilson grabbed hold of McAvoy’s stick– but was not penalized for holding the stick– and exchanged words with the young defender until Bruins captain, Zdeno Chara, skated over to offer his opinion on the subject matter– at which point, Wilson fell over and the two (Chara and Wilson) were assessed roughing minors at 13:59 of the third period.

The two teams survived 4-on-4 action unscathed for two minutes before returning to full strength.

With 1:22 left in the third period, Capitals head coach, Todd Reirden, pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker and it was very effective.

T.J. Oshie (10) blasted a one-timer from the low slot over Halak’s glove side to tie the game, 2-2, at 19:01 of the third period.

Kuznetsov (11) and Nicklas Backstrom (13) had the assists on Oshie’s goal as Washington force overtime.

After regulation, the score was tied, 2-2, and the Caps led the B’s in shots on goal, 41-21– including an, 11-6, advantage for Washington in the third period alone.

Boston led in blocked shots (11-5), while Washington led in takeaways (14-12), giveaways (20-13), hits (28-23) and faceoff win% (66-34).

The Capitals finished the night 0/2 on the power play and the Bruins finished 0/3 on the skater advantage as there were no more penalties called after 60 minutes of play.

Kuznetsov, Carlson, Wilson, Coyle, Marchand and McAvoy were the starters in overtime for both teams as the two squads couldn’t get the job done in the five-minute allotted extra frame of 3-on-3 action.

Washington led in shots on goal, 3-2, in overtime alone, bringing their shot total advantage to, 44-23.

Boston finished the night leading in blocked shots (11-5), but trailing the Capitals in giveaways (20-15), hits (28-23) and faceoff win% (67-33).

In the shootout, the B’s elected to shoot second, yielding Oshie as the shootout’s first shooter for Washington.

Oshie skated his way in toward Halak and tried to fire one past the Bruins netminder’s glove, but Halak made the save.

Coyle followed up with Boston’s first attempt of the shootout and slid one through Holtby’s five-hole to give the Bruins a, 1-0, advantage after one shootout round.

Kuznetsov hit the post to the right of Halak and couldn’t muster the puck into the twine, leaving Pastrnak with the chance to win it as Boston’s second shooter.

Instead, Pastrnak went for the gaping five-hole that Holtby quickly squeezed his pads together to close after poking the puck off of Pastrnak’s stick and letting the rubber biscuit slide through his legs with just enough time to cover it comfortably.

Next up, Backstrom wired a shot into the back of the net on Halak’s glove side– keeping Washington’s shootout hopes alive.

With the game on his stick, Marchand tried to do exactly what every Bruin has done in just about every shootout attempt this season– aim for the five-hole.

Marchand was unsuccessful.

In the fourth round of the shootout, the Caps sent in their best shot– Alex Ovechkin.

Ovechkin tried to sneak it past Halak, low on his glove side, but the Boston goaltender dove in desperation and robbed the Washington captain– barely getting his glove around the puck before Ovechkin could sneak it over the goal line.

In response, Cassidy sent Krejci out to try to win the game with the last shot in the fourth round of the shootout.

But Krejci also opted for the predictable five-hole and did not score, leaving the fate of the game undecided.

Vrana opened the fifth round of the shootout with a toe-drag that left Halak doing the splits, which was just enough to let Vrana elevate the puck over Halak’s leg pads and into the net.

Boston had to score on their next shot or else the shootout (and the game) would be over.

As such, Wagner was presented the opportunity to extend the shootout, but he too, tried to go five-hole on Holtby, who didn’t face much pressure on the shot as the puck trickled through the crease and wide of the goalframe.

The Capitals had won.

Washington improved to 3-1 in shootouts this season, while Boston fell to 0-4 in such instances.

Holtby improved to 25-14 overall in shootouts in his career as Halak stumbled to 32-33 in shootouts.

The Bruins fell to 7-0-2 when leading after two periods this season and 10-2-3 when scoring the game’s first goal.

Boston travels to New Jersey to take on the Devils next Tuesday (Nov. 19th) before a two-game homestand against Buffalo (Nov. 21st) and Minnesota (Nov. 23rd).

The B’s close out November with back to back nights in Montreal (Nov. 26th) and Ottawa (Nov. 27th) before finishing the month at home against the New York Rangers in a Black Friday matinee on Nov. 29th.

DTFR Podcast #174- Coaching Conundrums

Some firsts, 100s, broken fingers and pointing fingers– who should be concerned about their job security behind the bench? Plus Cap’n and Pete are back.

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

Washington Capitals 2019-20 Season Preview

Washington Capitals

48-26-8, 104 points, 1st in the Metropolitan Division

Eliminated in the First Round by Carolina

Additions: F Garnet Hathaway, F Brendan Leipsic, F Philippe Maillet, F Richard Panik, D Radko Gudas (acquired from PHI)

Subtractions: F Riley Barber (signed with MTL), F Mathias Bau (EBEL), F Andre Burakovsky (traded to COL), F Brett Connolly (signed with FLA), F Hampus Gustafsson (SHL), F Dmitrij Jaskin (KHL), F Jayson Megna (signed with COL), F Mason Mitchell (signed with Rochester, AHL), F Devante Smith-Pelly (signed to a PTO with CGY), F Nathan Walker (signed with STL), D Aaron Ness (signed with ARI), D Matt Niskanen (traded to PHI), D Brooks Orpik (retired), G Parker Milner (signed with Hershey, AHL)

Still Unsigned: F Scott Kosmachuk (rights acquired from COL)

Re-signed: F Chandler Stephenson, F Jakub Vrana, D Christian Djoos, D Colby Williams, G Vitek Vanecek

Offseason Analysis: The Washington Capitals have earned themselves a little grace period after winning the Cup in 2018, but don’t let that fool you from some of the poor choices they made this offseason.

Whether or not they would’ve had the money to keep Brett Connolly from joining the Florida Panthers in free agency after posting a career year with 22-24–46 totals in 81 games is besides the point.

The Caps made a lot of odd decisions.

For starters, they signed Garnet Hathaway (19 points in 76 games for Calgary last season), Brendan Leipsic (23 points in 62 games with Vancouver and Los Angeles) and Richard Panik (33 points in 75 gamed for Arizona).

Sure, Hathaway and Panik are durable top-nine forwards that are likely to see an increase in their offensive numbers by virtue of being on the same team as Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, but to have them for four years as your mid-range forwards with Carl Hagelin and Lars Eller might just catch up to you at some point.

At least Leipsic has always been in demand on waivers and is a good option to plug somewhere in the lineup or send down to the Hershey Bears (AHL).

Meanwhile, Capitals General Manager, Brian MacLellan, worked the phones this summer to trade Matt Niskanen to the Philadelphia Flyers for Radko Gudas in a one-for-one swap and dealt Andre Burakovsky to the Colorado Avalanche for Scott Kosmachuk (unsigned), a 2020 2nd round pick and a 2020 3rd round pick.

It might seem like an overpay for Avalanche GM, Joe Sakic, but Burakovsky’s looking to prove himself in the biggest role he’s ever had and it wouldn’t hurt Washington to restock their prospect pool as a result.

In the meantime, Gudas is almost assured of doing something to yield a suspension, which may or may not hurt the Capitals more than Evgeny Kuznetsov’s three-game suspension to start the regular season may already do.

Kuznetsov was suspended by the league for “inappropriate conduct”, in which he failed a drug test and was banned from international competition by the International Ice Hockey Federation for four years.

The NHL, on the other hand, doesn’t have a policy for testing positive for cocaine.

Washington’s head coach, Todd Reirden, is entering his second season at the reigns behind the bench and has plenty of fresh faces to utilize in effort to avoid another seven-game First Round elimination at the hands of the Carolina Hurricanes.

Don’t get too comfortable in Washington as Braden Holtby is due for an extension by season’s end or else he may walk in free agency.

Offseason Grade: D+

The Capitals could contend for another Cup in the next few years or they could continue to slide towards irrelevancy faster than the current trend the Pittsburgh Penguins are on.

Neither fan base wants to hear that, let alone be compared to one another in such a similar manner, but it’s true. None of their free agent additions even remotely scream “decent depth signing” or anything.

DTFR Podcast #169- 2019-20 Season Preview: Metropolitan Division

Mitch Marner finally re-signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Boston Bruins announced a couple key extensions, more RFA deals were signed and the NHLPA decided not to re-open the current collective bargaining agreement as DTFR’s season previews continued with the Metropolitan Division.

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

Colorado Avalanche 2019-20 Season Preview

Colorado Avalanche

38-30-14, 90 points, 5th in the Central Division

Eliminated in the Second Round by San Jose

Additions: F Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, F Andre Burakovsky (acquired from WSH, then re-signed), F Joonas Donskoi, F Nazem Kadri (acquired from TOR), F Jayson Megna, F Valeri Nichushkin, F T.J. Tynan, D Kevin Connauton (acquired from ARI), D Jacob MacDonald (acquired from FLA), D Dan Renouf, D Calle Rosen (acquired from TOR)

Subtractions: F Andrew Agozzino (signed with PIT), F Sven Andrighetto (KHL), F Gabriel Bourque (signed with WPG), F Derick Brassard (signed with NYI), F Alexander Kerfoot (traded to TOR), F Scott Kosmachuk (traded to WSH), F Max McCormick (signed with CAR), F Julien Nantel (signed with Colorado, AHL), F Carl Soderberg (traded to ARI), F Dominic Toninato (traded to FLA), D Tyson Barrie (traded to TOR), D Mason Geertsen (signed to a PTO with NYR), D Patrik Nemeth (signed with DET), D David Warsofsky (signed with PIT), G Joe Cannata (Sweden), G Spencer Martin (signed with TBL), G Semyon Varlamov (signed with NYI)

Still Unsigned: F Mikko Rantanen

Re-signed: F J.T. Compher, F Sheldon Dries, F A.J. Greer, F Vladislav Kamenev, F Colin Wilson, D Ryan Graves, D Anton Lindholm, D Nikita Zadorov

Offseason Analysis: Pencil in Joe Sakic for General Manager of the Year 2019-20, because the Colorado Avalanche are a legit team on paper.

Sakic still has about $15.615 million in cap space, but even that should be enough to satisfy– current restricted free agent– Mikko Rantanen’s needs and then some.

Regardless, Sakic went to work on improving a roster that was one win away from the franchise’s first Western Conference Final appearance since 2002.

First, Colorado traded Carl Soderberg to the Arizona Coyotes for Kevin Connauton and a 2020 3rd round pick on June 25th.

Then the Avs followed it up by acquiring Andre Burakovsky from the Washington Capitals in exchange for Scott Kosmachuk, a 2020 2nd round pick and the 2020 3rd round pick previously acquired in the Soderberg trade on June 28th.

Burakovsky was quickly signed to a one-year deal worth $3.250 million as a “prove it” contract. The 24-year-old winger is finally free from the shadows of Washington’s Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Co., but now he can’t hide anymore.

It’s a make or break year as he’s never scored more than 38 points in a season.

Sakic made a minor move with the Florida Panthers a day after the Burakovsky trade, then made a big splash on July 1st and it wasn’t of the free agent variety.

Colorado shipped Tyson Barrie, Alexander Kerfoot and a 2020 6th round pick to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for Nazem Kadri, Calle Rosen and a 2020 3rd round pick.

The Avalanche retained 50% of Barrie’s salary ($2.750 million) in the transaction, leaving Toronto with the uneasy task of balancing their checkbooks now that Mitch Marner is re-signed.

Barrie is a versatile defender that will give the Maple Leafs some added flavor to their special teams, but he’s a pending unrestricted free agent at season’s end. That’s not Sakic’s problem, however.

Instead, Sakic is focused on continuing to trust in Colorado’s head coach, Jared Bednar, and Bednar’s process.

Bednar has a plethora of new faces that he’ll have to get onboard with his plan.

For starters, Kadri won’t have to face the Boston Bruins in the First Round (assuming Colorado makes the playoffs in 2020, which is a pretty safe bet), so Bednar shouldn’t have too much of a problem reigning him in.

Overall the Avs are relying on their youth, a revamped defense and a stronger top-nine presence with Joonas Donskoi having signed a four-year deal at $3.900 million per season in addition to Sakic’s trade work.

Some experts are picking the Avalanche to win the Cup in 2020, but that might be too much of a stretch too soon.

Colorado is starting to open a championship window, however, so it’d be a major disappointment if they don’t at least get to the Stanley Cup Final in the coming years.

Offseason Grade: A

If there’s a team that’s a dark horse to win the Cup this season out of all the playoff teams from last season, it’s the Avalanche, for sure. That said, Sakic’s moves in the offseason may take a full year to gel (a la Erik Karlsson’s transition from Ottawa to San Jose– East to West), so it shouldn’t surprise anyone if Colorado’s knocked out before the Final.

But in terms of fixing holes and building off of what’s already on the roster, Sakic hit it out of the park. The Avs are good and should be good as long as they don’t have to rely solely on goaltending (Philipp Grubauer is one deep postseason run away from proving his legitimacy as a starting goaltender in the NHL).

DTFR Podcast #166- New New New York

Nick and Colby recap the headlines from the last month as well as take a look at all of the New York market teams and try to figure out if any of them are actually any good as Season Six of the podcast begins.

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts (iTunes)Stitcher and/or on Spotify. Support the show on Patreon.

2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round Preview: Eastern Conference

*cue Andy Williams*

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

The Stanley Cup Playoffs have returned and all is right with the world (unless your team missed the postseason).

In the past, we here at Down the Frozen River have covered every game of every series.

This year, we’re mixing it up a bit– starting with this preview of every First Round series in the Eastern Conference, continuing with a followup preview of every First Round series in the Western Conference and as much analysis as possible on the DTFR Podcast in addition to the blog.

Ch-ch-ch-changes are inevitable and yours truly cannot cover all 16 teams in the postseason alone.

A1 Tampa Bay Lightning (62-14-6, 128 points) vs EWC2 Columbus Blue Jackets (47-31-4, 98 points)

The Tampa Bay Lightning clinched the President’s Trophy (for the first time in franchise history) by mid-March and finished with the 4th most points in a season in NHL history, while star forward, Nikita Kucherov, amassed 128 points (the most by a Russian born player in a season) and Andrei Vasilevskiy (39-10-4 record, 2.40 goals against average, .925 save percentage in 53 games played) turned in a Vezina Trophy worthy performance in the crease.

Oh yeah and Steven Stamkos had 45 goals.

The Bolts also tied the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings for most wins in a regular season (62).

Backup goaltender, Louis Domingue (21-5-0, 2.88 GAA, .908 SV% in 26 GP) posted respectable numbers as well in the Lightning’s thunderous run through the season.

Tampa has home ice throughout the playoffs and kicks things off with a First Round matchup against the Columbus Blue Jackets, who punched their ticket to the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a, 3-2, shootout victory over the New York Rangers last Friday– eliminating the Montreal Canadiens from postseason contention in the process.

Columbus was all over the Metropolitan Division this season, but went all-in at the trade deadline, adding Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel, Adam McQuaid and Keith Kinkaid for the stretch run.

Duchene and Dzingel quickly fit in to their respective top-nine roles, while McQuaid struggled to find a suitor on the blue line at first in his return to the organization that originally drafted him 55th overall in the 2005 NHL Draft before he was traded to the Boston Bruins and broke into the league with the B’s in 2009-10.

Kinkaid was added solely for goaltending depth as pending-unrestricted free agent, Sergei Bobrovsky (37-24-1, 2.58 GAA, .913 SV% in 62 GP) led the league with nine shutouts on the season.

Blue Jackets backup goaltender, Joonas Korpisalo (10-7-3, 2.95 GAA, .897 SV% in 27 GP) hit some rough patches at times, but found a way to dig his team out from the backend when necessary.

In the grand scheme of things, the Bolts won the season series, 3-0-0, and outscored Columbus, 17-3, in that span.

While many consider Columbus as a Stanley Cup Playoffs pushover– given the franchise has never won a series– Blue Jackets head coach, John Tortorella always poses a tough challenge that can wear down his opponent.

Lightning head coach, Jon Cooper, earns his own merit in his ability to keep his players cool, calm, collected and always in comeback mode, but it’s not unfathomable to see the Blue Jackets pestering Tampa about as much– if not more than– Columbus did to Washington in last season’s First Round matchup.

After all, the Blue Jackets did lead that series, 2-0.

That said, this is Tampa’s year for a Cup run or bust. The Lightning should win the series in six games.

Regular season outcomes:

5-1 TBL at Nationwide Arena on Feb. 18th, 4-0 TBL at Amalie Arena on Jan. 8th, 8-2 TBL at Amalie Arena on Oct. 13th

Schedule:

4/10- Game 1 CBJ @ TBL 7 PM ET on USA , SN360, TVAS

4/12- Game 2 CBJ @ TBL 7 PM ET on CNBC, SN360, TVAS

4/14- Game 3 TBL @ CBJ 7 PM ET on NBCSN, SN360, TVAS

4/16- Game 4 TBL @ CBJ 7 PM ET on CNBC, SN360, TVAS

4/19- Game 5 CBJ @ TBL*

4/21- Game 6 TBL @ CBJ*

4/23- Game 7 CBJ @ TBL*

*If necessary

A2 Boston Bruins (49-24-9, 107 points) vs A3 Toronto Maple Leafs (46-28-8, 100 points)

For the second season in a row, the Boston Bruins are hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs in the First Round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Despite being without Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara at one point this season, the Bruins rallied from their 12th defenseman on up through the rest of the lineup to finish one win shy of consecutive 50-win seasons in Bruce Cassidy‘s third season (second full season) as head coach.

Speaking of Bergeron, however, the perfect two-way center finished the season with a career-high in points (79) and matched his career-high in goals (32) while battling injury early in the season. Bergeron’s 32-47–79 totals came in just 65 games. That’s only one more game played than last season for No. 37 in black-and-gold.

Meanwhile, his linemates, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak each reached milestones of their own. Marchand reached the 100-point plateau this season and became the first Bruin to do so since Joe Thornton recorded 101 points in 2002-03.

The “Little Ball of Hate” also set a career-high in assists (64) and was not suspended in 79 games played this season (he was rested for the final two games in the regular season and missed one game due to injury).

Pastrnak set a career-high in goals (38) and points (81) despite missing time due to a left thumb injury and being limited to 66 games played.

The B’s were led in net this season by Tuukka Rask (27-13-5, 2.48 GAA, .912 SV% in 46 GP) and Jaroslav Halak (22-11-4, 2.34 GAA, .922 SV% in 40 GP) in a 1A/1B scenario. For the first time since the 1989-90 season, Boston had two goaltenders with 20-plus wins.

Back north in Toronto, the Maple Leafs added a formidable center in John Tavares in free agency and his presence was immediate, notching career-highs in goals (47 ) and points (88) in 82 games.

Auston Matthews (37-36–73 totals in 68 games) and Mitch Marner (26-68–94 totals in 82 games) continued to their thing as the $11.634 million man (starting next season) and the soon to be at least $10.000 million boy wonder man.

Maple Leafs General Manager, Kyle Dubas, added Jake Muzzin in January in a trade with the Los Angeles Kings in effort to shore up his blue line, however, questions remain as to how head coach, Mike Babcock will limit time on ice for veterans, like Ron Hainsey, and mix in more opportunities for Morgan Rielly (20-52–72 totals in 82 games) in his breakout season.

Boston won the season series, 3-1-0, outscoring Toronto, 16-10, in that span.

Some experts are picking the Bruins in five games. They also said similar things in 2013 and 2018. This series is going six games (at least), with Boston overcoming the Maple Leafs defense in Game 7, once again.

To their credit, Toronto always makes things interesting in what’s likely to be the most unpredictable First Round matchup.

Regular season outcomes:

3-2 BOS at Scotiabank Arena on Jan. 12th, 6-3 BOS at TD Garden on Dec. 8th, 4-2 TOR at Scotiabank Arena on Nov. 26th, 5-1 BOS at TD Garden on Nov. 10th

Schedule:

4/11- Game 1 TOR @ BOS 7 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS

4/13- Game 2 TOR @ BOS 8 PM ET on NBC, CBC, TVAS

4/15- Game 3 BOS @ TOR 7 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, TVAS

4/17- Game 4 BOS @ TOR 7 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, TVAS

4/19- Game 5 TOR @ BOS*

4/21- Game 6 BOS @ TOR*

4/23- Game 7 TOR @ BOS*

*If necessary

M1 Washington Capitals (48-26-8, 104 points) vs EWC1 Carolina Hurricanes (46-29-7, 99 points)

Just as everyone expected, the Washington Capitals led the Metropolitan Division with 104 points after Barry Trotz left for the head coaching job on Long Island. Did I mention the Capitals are the defending Stanley Cup champions?

Anyway, Alex Ovechkin scored 51 goals and collected his 8th career Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy as a result– though Edmonton Oilers forward, Leon Draisaitl, was hot on his tail with 50 goals this season.

After the New York Islanders led the Metropolitan Division for what seemed like forever, it’s important to note the Metro was actually anybody’s game from puck drop in October. Here’s the thing, the Carolina Hurricanes were near the top of the division– they’ve been surging all season.

Speaking of surging, Carolina introduced their “Storm Surge” post-win celebration and the Caniacs loved it.

For those of you who haven’t been paying attention to the club in Raleigh, Brett Pesce is good. Also, Sebastian Aho (30-53–83 totals in 82 GP), Andrei Svechnikov (20-17–37 totals in 82 GP) and Teuvo Teravainen (21-55–76 totals in 82 games)– they’re pretty good too.

Washington was led by Braden Holtby (32-19-5, 2.82 GAA, .911 SV% in 59 GP) between the pipes this season and is comforted to know Pheonix Copley (16-7-3, 2.90 GAA, .905 SV% in 27 GP) is quite capable of playing this season’s role of Philipp Grubauer (since traded to the Colorado Avalanche after last season’s Cup celebrations).

The Canes were led by a duo of goaltenders who were once thought of as an after thought in Curtis McElhinney (20-11-2, 2.58 GAA, .912 SV% in 33 GP) and Petr Mrazek (23-14-3, 2.39 GAA, .914 SV% in 40 GP).

Though his record might not show it, Mrazek has been hitting his stride for the last month and is locked in. Ride that wave until it crests.

The Hurricanes had a league-leading ten skaters play in all 82 games. There’s no such thing as playing too much hockey– especially when it’s the first postseason appearance since 2009.

Last year, the Columbus Blue Jackets gave the Caps some interruptions coming out of the gate.

Despite Washington having swept the season series, 4-0-0, the Hurricanes kept things close in their most recent matchup with a, 3-2, loss at PNC Arena on March 28th.

Carolina almost pulled off the victory in a shootout on Dec. 14th, but lost, 6-5, on home ice to the Capitals.

Washington is beatable. Hurricanes head coach, Rod Brind’Amour knows that, his team just hasn’t done it yet. Caps head coach, Todd Reirden, is also making his postseason debut at the reigns behind the bench for his respective team.

Though they won the Cup last season– that was then. This is now.

This series is going seven games and the Hurricanes will make sure there’s no repeat Cup winner this year.

Regular season outcomes:

3-2 WSH at PNC Arena on March 28th, 4-1 WSH at Capital One Arena on March 26th, 3-1 WSH at Capital One Arena on Dec. 27th, 6-5 F/SO WSH at PNC Arena on Dec. 14th

Schedule:

4/11- Game 1 CAR @ WSH 7:30 PM ET on USA, SN360, TVAS2

4/13- Game 2 CAR @ WSH 3 PM ET on NBC, SN, TVAS

4/15- Game 3 WSH @ CAR 7 PM ET on CNBC, SN, TVAS2

4/18- Game 4 WSH @ CAR 7 PM ET on TBD, SN360, TVAS

4/20- Game 5 CAR @ WSH*

4/22- Game 6 WSH @ CAR*

4/24- Game 7 CAR @ WSH*

*If necessary

M2 New York Islanders (48-27-7, 103 points) vs M3 Pittsburgh Penguins (44-26-12, 100 points)

Barry Trotz figured out how to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins last season with the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals. Trotz is the key. Trotz knows the secret stuff to beat Mike Sullivan and his Penguins.

That’s why the William M. Jennings Trophy winning duo of Robin Lehner (25-13-5, 2.13 GAA, .930 SV% in 46 GP) and Thomas Greiss (23-14-2, 2.28 GAA, .927 SV% in 43 GP) will backstop the New York Islanders past Pittsburgh in their First Round matchup in six games.

Am I getting ahead of myself? Probably.

New York split the season series with the Pens, 2-1-1, with their most recent result against Pittsburgh coming in a, 2-1, shootout loss on Dec. 10th at NYCB Live (that’s the Nassau Coliseum, if you haven’t already heard. The Isles will host their First Round games there).

Islanders General Manager Lou Lamoriello put together a team without John Tavares. Trotz figured out how to get the most out of his players– guys like Matt Martin, Leo Komarov, Casey Cizikas and even Andrew Ladd (until Ladd got injured)– while playing the trap.

That same trap won the Cup last season.

This season, Trotz has Mathew Barzal and Anders Lee as his main attractions instead of names like Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov.

Long Island residents have long memories– the Penguins are one of their greatest rivals– and the added energy of Tavares’ departure has only fueled more passion all season long.

Can New York flip the switch from their late season bumps in the road?

Obviously, Pittsburgh has Sidney Crosby. They also have Evgeni Malkin. Crosby and Malkin are ready to go for another deep postseason run after watching their biggest rival not only beat them in the Second Round last year, but go on to take the Cup out of the hands of the Penguins’ recent streak of dominance in 2016 and 2017.

Patric Hornqvist is also another silent killer option for Sullivan when his team needs a clutch goal– and that’s on top of Jake Guentzel and Phil Kessel throughout the rest of the lineup.

The Penguins were led in the crease by Matt Murray (29-14-6, 2.69 GAA, .919 SV% in 50 GP) this season with some helpful bailout backup goaltending from Casey DeSmith (15-11-5, 2.75 GAA, .916 SV% in 36 GP). If Murray shows any signs of wavering, Sullivan shouldn’t have a hard time going to DeSmith to push his team over the edge.

How will Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann play into the fold as Jim Rutherford‘s biggest prize acquisitions this season? Who might be the breakout star for Pittsburgh that outshines Crosby in the Conn Smythe Trophy vote?

Aren’t these questions supposed to be answered in an editorial preview? Sure.

Regular season outcomes:

2-1 F/SO PIT at NYCB Live on Dec. 10th, 6-2 PIT at PPG Paints Arena on Dec. 6th, 3-2 F/SO NYI at Barclays Center on Nov. 1st, 6-3 NYI at PPG Paints Arena on Oct. 30th

Schedule:

4/10- Game 1 PIT @ NYI 7:30 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, TVAS2

4/12- Game 2 PIT @ NYI 7:30 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, TVAS2

4/14- Game 3 NYI @ PIT 12 PM ET on NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS

4/16- Game 4 NYI @ PIT 7:30 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, TVAS2

4/18- Game 5 PIT @ NYI*

4/20- Game 6 NYI @ PIT*

4/22- Game 7 PIT @ NYI*

Game of the week: February 11-17

Did you think I’d forgotten? We still need a Game of the Week! Let’s take a look at this edition’s options:

NHL SCHEDULE: February 11-17
TIME (ALL TIMES EASTERN) VISITOR HOST NATIONAL BROADCAST(S)/
Result
Monday, February 11
7 p.m. Pittsburgh Philadelphia 4-1
7 p.m. Los Angeles Washington 4-6
10 p.m. San Jose Vancouver 7-2
Tuesday, February 12
7 p.m. Chicago Boston 3-6
7 p.m. New York Islanders Buffalo Sabres 1-3
7 p.m. Dallas Florida 3-0
7 p.m. Washington Columbus 0-3
7:30 p.m. Carolina Ottawa 4-1
7:30 p.m. Calgary Tampa Bay 3-6
8 p.m. New Jersey St. Louis 3-8
8 p.m. Detroit Nashville 3-2
8 p.m. Philadelphia Minnesota 5-4
8 p.m. New York Rangers Winnipeg Jets 3-4
9 p.m. Toronto Colorado 5-2
10 p.m. Arizona Vegas 5-2
Wednesday, February 13
8 p.m. Edmonton Pittsburgh 1-3
10:30 p.m. Vancouver Anaheim 0-1
Thursday, February 14
7 p.m. Calgary Florida 2-3 (SO)
7 p.m. New York Islanders Columbus Blue Jackets 3-0
7:30 p.m. Ottawa Detroit 2-3
7:30 p.m. Dallas Tampa Bay 0-6
8 p.m. Montréal Nashville 1-3
8 p.m. Colorado Winnipeg 4-1
8:30 p.m. New Jersey Chicago 2-5
9 p.m. St. Louis Arizona 4-0
10 p.m. Toronto Vegas 6-3
10:30 p.m. Vancouver Los Angeles 4-3 (SO)
10:30 p.m. Washington San Jose 5-1
Friday, February 15
7 p.m. New York Rangers Buffalo Sabres 6-2
7:30 p.m. Edmonton Carolina 1-3
8:30 p.m. New Jersey Minnesota 5-4 (OT)
10 p.m. Boston Anaheim 3-0
Saturday, February 16
1 p.m. Detroit Philadelphia 5-6 (OT)
1 p.m. Calgary Pittsburgh 5-4
3 p.m. St. Louis Colorado 3-0
7 p.m. Toronto Arizona 0-2
7 p.m. Ottawa Winnipeg 4-3 (OT)
7 p.m. Montréal Tampa Bay 0-3
7 p.m. Edmonton Oilers New York Islanders 2-5
8 p.m. Dallas Carolina 0-3
8:30 p.m. Columbus Chicago 5-2
10 p.m. Nashville Vegas 1-5
10 p.m. Vancouver San Jose 2-3
10:30 p.m. Boston Los Angeles 4-2
Sunday, February 17
12:30 p.m. New York Rangers Pittsburgh Penguins NBC, SN, TVAS
3 p.m. St. Louis Minnesota NBC, SN
6 p.m. Buffalo New Jersey  
6 p.m. Philadelphia Detroit NBCSN
7 p.m. Montréal Florida RDS, SN
9 p.m. Washington Anaheim ESPN+

With the trade deadline looming just around the corner, it’s been another exciting week in the NHL. After all, another edition of the Battle of the Keystone State was waged on Monday, followed the next day by two more rivalries featuring Arizona, Boston, Chicago and Vegas.

Tuesday also saw the Blue Jackets and Capitals reignite last season’s First Round playoff bout, with Columbus winning 3-0 in what just might be a preview of another playoff series to come this April.

As for the biggest player homecoming on this week’s calendar, that title belongs to F Chris Wagner of the Boston Bruins. Wagner spent four seasons with the Ducks (2014-18), appearing in 133 games and registering 12-12-24 totals. He was shipped to the Islanders at last season’s trade deadline before signing with the Atlantic Division’s current second-best team – not to mention his hometown club – this offseason. His Bruins beat Anaheim 3-0 on Friday.

Today is Hockey Day in America, but DtFR is holding off on the celebration until this evening before the Capitals-Ducks game to take in D Scott Niedermayer‘s jersey retirement ceremony.

Niedermayer may have only spent five seasons in Anaheim, but there’s no doubt he plays an integral role in the Ducks’ history. He joined the then Mighty Ducks in 2005-06 after 13 seasons and three Stanley Cups in New Jersey, signing as an unrestricted free agent to a four-year, $27 million contract to join forces with RW Teemu Selanne, F Andy McDonald and brother F Rob Niedermayer and serve as their captain.

Named a First Team All-Star for the second consecutive season and finishing second in Norris Trophy voting behind D Nicklas Lidstrom, Niedermayer and his 13-50-63 totals was just the addition the Mighty Ducks needed on their blue line to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2003’s trip to the Stanley Cup Final – you know, the one where Niedermayer’s Devils beat Anaheim in Game 7. Despite qualifying as the six seed, the Mighty Ducks took advantage of a wildly unpredictable Western Conference playoff to advance all the way to the Conference Finals before falling in five games to Edmonton.

For a champion like Niedermayer, falling short in the Conference Finals was unacceptable, as he elevated his game to even better 15-54-69 totals during the 2006-07 season to notch career-highs in all three statistics as well as propel the Ducks (the new and less-mighty edition) all the way to the West’s second seed.

Though that impressive effort was good enough to earn Niedermayer his third-consecutive First Team All-Star selection, he still had his eye on a fourth Stanley Cup. Despite registering only 3-8-11 marks in the Ducks’ 21 postseason games (second-best among Ducks defensemen despite playing two more games than D Chris Pronger), Niedermayer’s two game-winners (one was the series-clincher against Vancouver in double-overtime, the other the overtime winner in Game 1 of the Western Finals) and his power play goal to force overtime against the Red Wings in Game 5 of the Conference Finals was enough to win him the Conn Smythe Trophy and Anaheim’s first title in any sport since the Angels’ 2002 World Series win. The Ducks’ lone Stanley Cup is still the city’s most recent title.

The remaining three years of Niedermayer’s tenure in Anaheim paled in comparison to his first two. The Ducks didn’t make it past the Conference Semifinals in 2008 or 2009 (in fact, they lost in the first round the season after winning the Stanley Cup) and failed to qualify for the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs; Niedermayer didn’t win anymore hardware, nor did he reach the 60-point plateau again.

However, Niedermayer’s mission when he signed with Anaheim had been accomplished. He’d won his fourth title without the help of his dominant Devils teammates, and he’d helped his brother earn his first ring. He’d helped the Ducks to a then franchise-record 48 wins

And it is for that championship and his career-defining seasons that the Hall of Famer is being honored tonight. Having already seen his No. 27 hoisted to the Prudential Center rafters, he’ll receive that same recognition tonight at Honda Center.

Unfortunately for the Ducks faithful, The Pond’s good vibes might find a quick end after Niedermayer’s ceremony. After all, the 22-27-9 Anaheim Ducks are riding an infamous 3-16-4 skid that dates all the way back to December 18. This torrid run has seen the Ducks drop all the way from a playoff position to fourth-to-last in the NHL, earning Randy Carlyle an early offseason.

It comes as no surprise that a squad that has struggled as much as the Ducks is finding almost no success in any phase of the game. Anaheim’s offense has ranked dead last in the NHL since December 18, accounting for only 1.52 goals per game in that time – a full six-tenths of a goal worse than Dallas.

Of course, even when the Ducks were having success earlier in the season, offense was in no way their game. They were averaging only 2.57 goals per game through their first 35 outings – a mark that would rank 29th among teams’ current season averages.

Instead, the biggest reason for this decline is the breakdown on the defensive end. In their past 23 games, the Ducks have allowed an average of 3.7 goals per game, the second-worst mark in the NHL in that time (fellow Pacific Division member Edmonton’s 3.92 goals against per game takes credit for worst in the league since December 18). However, only one facet of the defense is truly at fault.

Whether it is 1-1-0 G Kevin Boyle or 4-2-1 G Ryan Miller that receives the nod tonight (17-19-8 G John Gibson and 0-5-0 G Chad Johnson are both on injured reserve with respective back and head injuries) is still unknown.

Despite his rookie status behind a porous defense (more on that in a moment), Boyle has been far from the problem for the Ducks lately, as he boasts a .955 save percentage and 1.51 GAA for his short, three-game NHL career. Meanwhile, Miller has only recently been cleared to resume action. If he were to take to the crease tonight, it would be his first appearance since December 9 – a 6-5 shootout home victory over the New Jersey Devils that he did not finish.

For what it’s worth, Miller is riding a personal two-game win streak and three-game point streak.

As mentioned before, what makes the youngster’s solid stats even more impressive is he’s getting absolutely no help from his skaters. Since December 18, Anaheim has allowed a whopping 32.91 shots against per game – the seventh-worst mark in the league in that time.

Making the trip to Orange County are the 32-19-7 Washington Capitals, the Metropolitan Division’s second-best team.

In their last six games, the Caps have managed a solid record of 4-1-1 – more than good enough to hold on to their current position in the standings against the middling Metro teams. In particular, this surge has been spearheaded by Washington’s dominant offense, which has been rattling off 3.67 goals per game since February 5 – the (t)seventh-best mark in the league in that time.

Leading this attack has been none other than Evgeny Kuznetsov, the Capitals’ top-line center. In his past six outings, Kuznetsov has registered dominant 5-6-11 totals, including an amazing 2-2-4 performance against the Ducks’ arch-rivals in D.C. on Monday. On the season, Kuznetsov now has 15-39-54 marks in 52 appearances.

Joining Kuznetsov in averaging a point per game over this run are fellow first-liner W Alex Ovechkin (2-7-9 totals) and second-liners F T.J. Oshie (3-4-7) and LW Jakub Vrana (3-3-6).

Washington has also boasted a decent effort on the defensive end, allowing only three goals per game during this six-game run – the (t)12th-best mark in the NHL in that time. Despite managing only a .908 save percentage and 2.99 GAA for the season, 20-14-4 G Braden Holtby has been on a tear lately, boasting a .917 save percentage and 2.51 GAA for his last four starts.

It’s hard to see a way the Ducks escape with a win tonight. Washington has been rolling lately, and the Ducks offense in particular simply do not have an answer for the Caps’ attack. Unless C Ryan Getzlaf can add at least four points to his total tonight, Washington should pull back within three points of New York for the Metro lead.