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.
Sean Kuraly scored two goals in the Boston Bruins’, 5-0, victory over the New York Islanders to kick off Boston’s four-game road trip on Tuesday night at NYCB Live.
Tuukka Rask (25-10-5 record, 2.39 goals against average, .917 save percentage in 41 games played) made 13 saves on 13 shots against for his 4th shutout of the season in the win for Boston.
Islanders goaltender, Robin Lehner (20-12-5, 2.27 GAA, .925 SV% in 39 GP) stopped 34 out of 39 shots faced for an .872 SV% in the loss.
The Bruins improved to 44-20-9 (97 points) on the season and remain 2nd in the Atlantic Division, while New York fell to 42-24-7 (91 points) and 2nd in the Metropolitan Division.
The B’s are now 16-13-6 on the road this season and 8-0-0 in their last eight trips to New York against the Isles. In addition to dropping their last eight games on home ice to the Bruins, New York is 1-11-0 in their last 12 games and 2-11-1 in their last 14 games against Boston.
Boston is also 29-6-5 when scoring first this season and 26-1-3 when leading after two periods.
Bruce Cassidy provided several updates on his long list of injuries before Tuesday night’s action, revealing that Kevan Miller (upper body) would not travel with the team, while Marcus Johansson (lung contusion) and Matt Grzelcyk (upper body) would rejoin the lineup sometime on the road trip.
Torey Krug (concussion) was feeling better and will travel with the team, but has not been cleared to return to action.
David Pastrnak, in the meantime, was back in the lineup since having surgery on a tendon in his left thumb and was placed in his usual spot on the first line right wing with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron.
As a result of Pastrnak’s return, Danton Heinen slid down to the third line left wing alongside Kuraly at center and Chris Wagner on the right side.
Jake DeBrusk, David Krejci and Charlie Coyle remained a trio on the second line and Joakim Nordstrom, Noel Acciari and David Backes were unchanged.
On defense, Cassidy left belated birthday boy (who turned 42-years-old on Monday), Zdeno Chara, with Charlie McAvoy on the first defensive pair, while moving Connor Clifton up to the left side of Brandon Carlo on the second blue line pair.
John Moore suited up alongside Steven Kampfer to round out the defense.
Kuraly (7) kickstarted the action early on the road with his first goal in 23 games as he sent the puck past Lehner to give the Bruins a, 1-0, lead at 1:12 of the first period.
McAvoy (19) had the only assist on Kuraly’s first goal since Jan. 17th.
Boston came out of the gates roaring and dominated the pace of play, outshooting New York, 14-2, after 20 minutes of action.
The Islanders led in blocked shots (9-5), giveaways (6-3) and face-off win percentage (53-47) heading into the first intermission, while the Bruins led in takeaways (5-1) and hits (11-10).
Both teams had yet to see any time on the skater advantage entering the second period.
Four seconds into the middle frame, Chara squared off with Matt Martin and the two veteran NHLers exchanged fisticuffs. The 42-year-old captain of the B’s became the first player 42 or older to earn a fighting major since Mark Recchi (42 years, 285 days old) did so on Nov. 13, 2010 with the Bruins.
Chara’s birthday was on Monday.
After Cal Clutterbuck turned the puck over in his own defensive zone, Acciari (4) scooped up the rubber biscuit and sent it past Lehner’s left pad to give Boston a two-goal lead at 2:52 of the second period.
Acciari’s goal was unassisted and made it, 2-0, Bruins.
Almost midway through the middle frame, Pastrnak was penalized for high-sticking Adam Pelech– in Pelech’s 200th career NHL game– at 7:27.
The Islanders did not convert on the ensuing power play and recorded one shot on goal.
Late in the period, Kuraly (8) delivered again with his second goal of the game off a wraparound pass from Heinen.
The Bruins led, 3-0, at 16:17 of the second period and Heinen (21) had the only assist on the goal.
A little over a minute later, Pelech hooked Chara and received a minor infraction at 17:46. Boston did not score on the resulting power play opportunity.
Through 40 minutes of play, the Bruins led, 3-0, on the scoreboard and, 24-8, in shots on goal. Boston also held the advantage in takeaways (8-4) and face-off win% (53-48), while New York led in blocked shots (16-6), giveaways (17-7) and hits (20-18).
Both clubs were 0/1 on the power play entering the third period.
Early in the final frame of regulation, Bergeron (28) received a pass from Nordstrom and sniped a shot into the twine to make it, 4-0, Boston.
Nordstrom (4) and Moore (8) tallied the assists on Bergeron’s goal at 6:32 of the third period.
Less than a couple minutes later, DeBrusk was guilty of hooking Islanders forward, Anthony Beauvillier, and cut a rut to the penalty box at 8:11.
Upon leaving the box, DeBrusk capitalized on a flubbed play back to the point for New York and had a quick breakaway entering the attacking zone for Boston.
DeBrusk (23) scored top shelf on Lehner’s glove side to give the B’s a five-goal lead, 5-0, at 10:20 of the third period on an unassisted effort.
There were no more goals or penalties thereafter as the Bruins downed the Islanders, 5-0, at the final horn.
Boston finished the night leading in shots on goal, 39-13, as well as face-off win% (53-47). New York wrapped up the blowout loss with the advantage in blocked shots (20-9), giveaways (22-12) and hits (23-20).
The Islanders went 0/2 on the power play on Tuesday, while the Bruins finished 0/1 on the skater advantage.
The Bruins swing through New Jersey on Thursday, Florida on Saturday and Tampa next Monday before returning home to face the New York Rangers on March 27th. Boston hosts the Florida Panthers on March 30th before traveling to Detroit on the 31st to close out the month.
In their head-to-head season series, Cassidy’s crew swept Barry Trotz and his Islanders bunch, 3-0-0, in the regular season.
After going on a 19-game point streak, the Boston Bruins have followed that up with a three-game (and counting) losing streak with their 4-3 loss to the Winnipeg Jets at Bell MTS Place on Thursday.
For the first time since Dec. 1 to Dec. 6, 2018, the Bruins have lost three straight games in regulation.
Connor Hellebuyck (29-20-2, 3.01 goals against average, .909 save percentage in 53 games played) made 36 saves on 39 shots against for a .923 SV% in the win for the Jets.
Boston goaltender, Tuukka Rask (24-10-5, 2.45 GAA, .916 SV% in 40 GP) stopped 20 out of 24 shots against for an .833 SV% in the loss.
The B’s fell to 15-13-6 on the road this season and 4-3-0 in the month of March, while maintaining 2nd place in the Atlantic Division with a 42-20-9 record and 93 points on the season.
The Jets improved to 41-25-4 (86 points) on the season and remain on top of the Central Division.
Kevan Miller (upper body), David Pastrnak (left thumb), Jake DeBrusk (lower body), Marcus Johansson (lung contusion), Matt Grzelcyk (upper body) and Torey Krug (upper body) were all out of the lineup for the Bruins due to injury.
John Moore was bumped up a pairing on the blue line to that of the second defensive pair alongside Brandon Carlo, while Bruce Cassidy did just about all he could do with the roster he was presented due to a lot of injuries.
Carey made his debut for the Bruins– his 5th different NHL team in six seasons– and wore No. 34 for Boston. He was acquired in a trade with the Ottawa Senators back in January that sent defender, Cody Goloubef, to the Sens.
Laine (18) and Mark Scheifele (44) had the assists on Wheeler’s goal and the Jets grabbed the lead, 1-0.
About two minutes later, Scheifele hooked Zdeno Chara and sent the Bruins on the power play for their first and only skater advantage of the night at 3:40 of the first period.
Boston did not convert on the power play.
Less than a minute into the skater advantage, Scheifele (33) worked his way behind the B’s defense and received a pass from Laine on a two-on-one from close range to redirect the puck past Rask at 11:24.
Winnipeg led, 2-0, thanks to Scheifele’s power play goal. Laine (19) and Wheeler (66) tallied the assists.
Late in the first period, Charlie McAvoy (6) took a feed from Krejci and slid into the slot before unloading a wrist shot past Hellebuyck’s blocker side to put Boston on the scoreboard and cut the lead in half, 2-1.
Krejci (42) had the only assist on McAvoy’s goal at 17:23.
Heading into the first intermission, the Jets led in shots on goal (12-11), blocked shots (8-1), takeaways (1-0) and face-off win percentage (72-28).
Boston held the advantage in giveaways (4-3) and hits (9-5) through the first 20 minutes of the action. Winnipeg was 1/1 on the power play, while the Bruins were 0/1.
The Bruins surged in the second period, tying the game, 2-2, at exactly halfway through the middle frame.
Joakim Nordstrom (6) put home the rebound for his first goal in 24 games after Acciari hacked away at the loose puck.
Nordstrom’s goal tied the game, 2-2, and was assisted by Acciari (6) and Sean Kuraly (12) at 10:00 of the second period.
Moments later, Brad Marchand slashed Tyler Myers at 13:41 and sent the Jets back on the power play. Boston’s penalty killing units successfully managed to disarm Winnipeg’s league-leading power play and escaped unharmed heading into the second intermission.
Boston flat-out dominated the shooting department, 30-19, after 40 minutes of play (including a, 19-7, advantage in the second period alone) and led in giveaways (7-4), as well as hits (14-12).
Winnipeg held onto the advantage in blocked shots (15-7), takeaways (5-1) and face-off win% (56-44) heading into the 3rd period.
There were no more penalties called in the final frame of regulation, meaning Winnipeg’s power play finished the night 1/2 on the skater advantage, while Boston’s power play unit went 0/1.
Trouba (6) powered his way to the net and buried the puck to give the Jets the lead, 3-2, at 7:38 of the third period. Scheifele (45) picked up the only assist on the goal and momentum swung heavily in Winnipeg’s favor.
Moments later, the Bruins turned over the puck in their own zone– right in the slot– whereby Nikolaj Ehlers (18) capitalized on the chance and made it, 4-2, at 13:02 of the third period.
Late in the final frame of regulation, Chara blasted a shot from the point that was tipped in by Coyle (11) for his first goal as a Bruin.
Coyle’s goal pulled Boston to within one, 4-3, and was assisted by Chara (7) and Krejci (43), but it wasn’t enough at 17:04.
Cassidy pulled his netminder for an extra attacker with almost 90 seconds left in regulation, but the Bruins couldn’t muster a miraculous comeback.
Though they could stave off an empty net goal from the Jets, the B’s could not force overtime.
At the sound of the final horn, Winnipeg had won, 4-3.
The Jets finished the night leading in blocked shots (19-8) and face-off win% (57-44), while the Bruins left Winnipeg leading in shots on goal (39-24), giveaways (12-11) and hits (24-21).
The Bruins finished 0-3-0 on their three-game road trip and return home to face the Blue Jackets on Saturday before hitting the road next Tuesday (March 19th) against the New York Islanders.
After the B’s take on the Isles, they swing through New Jersey on March 21st, Florida on March 23rd and Tampa on March 25th.
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.
An incredible pass from Jake DeBrusk to David Krejci harpooned the Carolina Hurricanes’ chances of emerging victorious– clad in Hartford Whalers throwback sweaters– at TD Garden on Tuesday as the Boston Bruins won, 4-3, in overtime.
Jaroslav Halak (18-9-4 record, 2.31 goals against average, .924 save percentage in 33 games played) made 34 saves on 37 shots against for a .919 SV% in the overtime win for the Bruins.
Carolina goaltender, Curtis McElhinney (17-7-2, 2.31 GAA, .921 SV% in 26 GP) stopped 34 out of 38 shots faced for an .895 SV% in the overtime loss.
Boston improved to 40-17-9 (89 points) and remained 2nd in the Atlantic Division standings, while the Hurricanes fell to 36-23-7 (79 points), but remained 3rd in the Metropolitan Division.
Carolina is tied in points with the Pittsburgh Penguins, but leads in regulation-plus-overtime wins (35-34 this season over Pittsburgh).
The Bruins have only dropped three games in regulation since the start of 2019 and have not lost in regulation since Jan. 19th. In fact, since Jan. 1st, the Bruins are 19-3-5 (Carolina is 20-6-2 in that same span).
The B’s are 4-0-0 on their current six-game homestand and 2-0-0 in the month of March. They’re also 8-0-0 in their last eight home games dating back to Feb. 5th.
Kevan Miller remains out of the lineup and is now week-to-week with an upper body injury, while David Pastrnak (left thumb) started skating with a stick in his hands at practice. Pastrnak is closer to a return, but still not yet available for the Bruins.
Sean Kuraly (concussion protocol), in the meantime, is progressing well and should take part in Wednesday’s practice before likely returning to action Thursday night against the Florida Panthers for Boston.
Those updates were provided by B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, prior to Tuesday night’s matchup with the Hurricanes.
Cassidy made no adjustments to his lineup from Saturday night against the New Jersey Devils as Miller (upper body), Pastrnak (left thumb) and Kuraly (concussion protocol) remained out of the lineup due to injury and Steven Kampfer was the only healthy scratch.
Johansson was leveled by the clean hit and nursing his shoulder as he struggled to get up and was helped off the ice by Boston’s athletic trainer, Don DelNegro, about three minutes into the game.
Less than a minute later, David Backes stood up for his fallen teammate and fought Ferland. Both received five-minute major penalties for fighting at 3:53 and Ferland actually left the game with an upper body injury as a result of the fight.
It was Backes’ 3rd fighting major in 54 games this season– including three fights in his last four games.
Things did not settle down after the fisticuffs, however, as both teams exchanged pleasantries during play and after the whistle throughout the remainder of the first period.
Calvin de Haan intentionally fired a shot off of Aho (28) in front of the goal, seeking a deflection and gave the Hurricanes the first lead of the night, 1-0.
Aho’s goal was assisted by de Haan (12) and Trevor van Riemsdyk (11) at 6:30 of the first period.
Carolina went on their first power play of the night, but it was short lived after Williams hooked Brandon Carlo at 7:44 of the opening frame.
The Canes still couldn’t convert on the resulting skater advantage and didn’t take full advantage of Boston’s bench minor for too many men on the ice at 13:49.
After 20 minutes of play, the Hurricanes led, 1-0, on the scoreboard, while the Bruins led, 12-11, in shots on goal.
Entering the first intermission, Boston held the advantage in blocked shots (5-3) and giveaways (6-5), while Carolina led in takeaways (6-4) and hits (13-8). Both teams were even in face-off win percentage (50-50), while the Hurricanes were 0/3 on the power play.
Classic. pic.twitter.com/B2Mzxx7cEo— Carolina Hurricanes (@NHLCanes) March 6, 2019
Aho (29) had a breakaway about 70 seconds into the second period and pulled Halak far enough out of the crease to expose his five-hole, thereby slipping the puck through the goaltender to give Carolina a two goal lead at 1:10 of the middle frame.
Prior to trailing, 2-0, on Tuesday, the last time the Bruins trailed by multiple goals in a game this season was on Jan. 16th.
Moments after the Canes scored, Bergeron tripped up Jaccob Slavin and was assessed a minor infraction at 3:50 of the second period.
Jordan Staal followed up with a slashing penalty of his own against Bergeron at 9:43 and the Bruins went on the power play for the first time of the night. They did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage.
Boston did respond in the vulnerable minute after special teams play, however, as Carlo threw the puck on goal to generate a rebound while Wagner (10) collected the garbage in the low slot to but the B’s on the board and cut the lead in half, 2-1.
Carlo (6) had the only assist on the goal at 12:28 of the second period.
Wagner now has four goals in his last nine games for Boston.
Late in the period, Krejci moved the puck through the neutral zone and forced a rebound for DeBrusk (22) to bury behind McElhinney and tie the game, 2-2, at 18:12.
Krejci (41) had the only assist on DeBrusk’s goal.
Through two periods of play, the game was tied, 2-2, while the Bruins led in shots on goal (27-21). Boston also led in blocked shots (9-6), while Carolina led in giveaways (14-11), hits (21-13) and face-off win% (52-48).
Both teams had nine takeaways aside, while the Hurricanes were 0/4 on the power play and the Bruins were 0/1.
The Bruins were again penalized for too many men on the ice at 2:14 of the third period.
While shorthanded, Brad Marchand led a two-on-one with Bergeron, whereby Marchand sent a quick pass over to the 15-year NHL veteran for the one-timer goal from one knee.
Bergeron (23) had given Boston their first lead of the night, 3-2, at 2:45 of the third period while shorthanded. The goal was Boston’s fourth shorthanded goal this season (two for Bergeron and two for Marchand).
Marchand (50) had the only assist on the effort and reached the 50-assist plateau for the 2nd consecutive season.
As for Bergeron, the goal was his 794th career point with the Bruins, putting him in sole command of 6th all-time in Bruins franchise history in points ahead of Wayne Cashman (793 points with Boston).
Next on the list to reach for Bergeron is 5th place, Bobby Orr, who had 888 career points in the spoked-B.
Past the midpoint of the final frame of regulation, Williams (19) sent a shot from the face-off circle to left of Halak past the Bruins goaltender as Halak was deep in the crease and certainly not square enough to the shooter.
At the end of regulation, the game remained tied, 3-3, with shots on goal even at 36-36.
Almost two minutes into the 3-on-3 overtime period, DeBrusk shook off a Canes defender, then worked a spin move pass over to Krejci as No. 46 in black-and-gold was crashing the slot– catching McElhinney in desperation.
Krejci (16) deked and pocketed the puck in the empty twine with McElhinney fully out of position to give Boston the overtime victory, 4-3.
DeBrusk (12) had the only assist on the goal at 1:46 of overtime.
At the final horn, the Bruins won the game and finished the night leading in shots on goal (38-37), blocked shots (14-9) and giveaways (16-15). Carolina led the night in hits (28-24) and face-off win% (52-49).
The Hurricanes finished the night 0/5 on the power play, while Boston went 0/1.
Boston improved to 8-6 on the season in overtime and Carolina fell to 4-5 in games that end before a shootout– but past regulation– this season.
The Hurricanes’ five-game winning streak was snapped and the club fell to 27-6-3 when scoring first this season as Boston overcame a two-goal deficit to win in overtime.
The Bruins improved to 13-2-4 when tied after two periods this season.
Boston continues their six-game homestand on Thursday against the Florida Panthers. Boston wraps up their homestand with a Saturday night matchup against the Ottawa Senators before traveling to Pittsburgh to face the Penguins Sunday night at PPG Paints Arena.
The B’s take on the Columbus Blue Jackets next Tuesday (March 12th) and Winnipeg Jets next Thursday (March 14th) before returning home to face Columbus on March 16th.
Rask (22-8-5 record, 2.29 goals against average, .922 save percentage in 36 games played) made 20 saves en route to the shutout– the 44th shutout of his career– for the Bruins, while Mackenzie Blackwood (6-6-0, 2.25 GAA, .931 SV% in 15 GP) made 29 saves on 30 shots against for a .967 SV% in the loss for New Jersey.
Boston improved to 26-4-5 when scoring first this season and 25-1-3 when leading after two periods, while also improving to 3-0-0 on their current six-game homestand.
The Bruins have also earned at least a point in their last 16 games (12-0-4 record in that span), while Rask became the second goaltender in league history to post multiple point streaks of at least 17 decisions (Pete Peeters accomplished the feat with the Philadelphia Flyers over 27 games in 1979-80 and again with the Bruins in 21 games in 1982-83).
The B’s improved to 39-17-8 (87 points) on the season and remain in control of 2nd place in the Atlantic Division standings. Meanwhile, the Devils fell to 25-33-8 (58 points) and are still in the basement (8th place) of the Metropolitan Division.
Cassidy placed Peter Cehlarik on the third line left win alongside Charlie Coyle and David Backes, while moving Joakim Nordstrom to Kuraly’s spot on the fourth line with Noel Acciari and Chris Wagner.
Kuraly (concussion protocol) joined Kevan Miller (upper body) and David Pastrnak (left thumb) as the only Bruins injured and out of the lineup on Saturday, while Steven Kampfer remained Boston’s only healthy scratch.
Kenny Agostino bumped into Rask at 2:23 of the first period and was assessed a two-minute minor penalty for goaltender interference, yielding a power play for the Bruins.
It only took 14 seconds on the ensuing power play for Boston to strike.
Jake DeBrusk knocked a puck out of the air to Patrice Bergeron, who sent a pass along to Brad Marchand (27) for the blocker side wrist shot past Blackwood.
Bergeron (37) and DeBrusk (11) had the assists on the game’s only goal at 2:37 of the first period.
With his assist on the goal, Bergeron tied Wayne Cashman for 6th all-time in points (793) in Bruins franchise history.
Almost midway through the first period, while Marchand was on a breakaway, Damon Severson hooked the Bruins winger in a last-ditch effort that resulted in a penalty shot.
Marchand was denied by Blackwood and fell to four-for-seven in his career on penalty shots at 7:16 of the opening frame.
After one period of play, Boston led, 1-0, on the scoreboard and in shots on goal, 13-10. The B’s also led in giveaways (4-2) and face-off win percentage (53-47), while New Jersey held the advantage in blocked shots (6-5), takeaways (6-4) and hits (12-8).
The Devils were 0/1 on the power play, while the Bruins were 1/1 heading into the second period.
The only event on the scoresheet in the middle frame was a penalty against Boston at 15:15 of the second period. Cehlarik was guilty of tripping recent new Devils acquisition, Connor Carrick, and served a two-minute minor in the penalty box.
Through 40 minutes of play, the B’s still led, 1-0, on the scoreboard and in shots on goal, 23-14. New Jersey maintained an advantage in blocked shots (9-8), takeaways (9-7) and hits (24-16), while the Bruins led in giveaways (9-5) and both teams were even in face-off win% (50-50).
The Devils were 0/2 on the skater advantage, while Boston was still 1/1 on the power play heading into the second intermission.
There were no penalties and no scoring in the third period, resulting in New Jersey pulling their goaltender with about 1:32 remaining in regulation, then using their timeout with 37.4 seconds left after a stoppage in play.
Time expired as the Bruins struggled to find an empty net goal and the Devils maintained pressure in the attacking zone in the closing seconds.
Boston had defeated New Jersey, 1-0, on a goal in the first three minutes of the game.
The Bruins finished the night leading in shots on goal (30-20) and giveaways (14-5), while the Devils wrapped up Saturday night’s action with the lead in blocked shots (14-12), hits (30-22) and face-off win% (58-42).
The Bruins continue their six-game homestand on Tuesday against the Carolina Hurricanes. The Hurricanes will be wearing their Hartford Whalers throwbacks. Boston takes on the Florida Panthers next Thursday (March 7th) and the Ottawa Senators next Saturday (March 9th) before hitting the road to Pittsburgh on March 10th.
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.
After receiving 15 stitches after taking a puck to the mouth on Tuesday, Noel Acciari scored the eventual game-winning goal in the third period Thursday night, as the Boston Bruins defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning, 4-1, at TD Garden.
For the first time in league history, two teams met in the midst of a 14-game point streak. Tampa entered the night on a franchise record, 10-game, winning streak.
Tuukka Rask (21-8-5 record, 2.36 goals against average, .920 save percentage in 35 games played) made 20 saves on 21 shots against for a .952 SV% in the win.
Lightning goaltender, Louis Domingue (19-5-0, 2.92 GAA, .908 SV% in 24 GP) stopped 37 out of 41 shots faced for a .902 SV% in the loss.
The Bruins improved to 38-17-9 (85 points) on the season and remained in 2nd place in the Atlantic Division standings behind their Thursday night opponent, the Lightning, who fell to 49-12-4 (102 points) and remained in control of the Atlantic.
Boston improved to 25-4-5 when scoring first this season and 24-1-3 when leading after two periods. The B’s are 11-0-4 in their last 15 games and went without a loss in regulation in the month of February for just the 9th time in franchise history.
The last time Boston went without a regulation loss in one month’s time was in November 2011.
The Bruins finished February with an 11-0-2 record.
Steven Kampfer was the only healthy scratch for Boston with Miller and Pastrnak out due to injury.
It was Backes’ second fight in the last two games as both players were assessed five-minute major penalties for fighting at 2:54 of the opening frame.
Neither team could buy a goal or a penalty in the first period, as the Bruins and Lightning went back to their respective dressing rooms for the first intermission, tied, 0-0.
The B’s led Tampa in shots on goal (17-4), while the Bolts led Boston in blocked shots (8-2), takeaways (6-2), giveaways (4-3), hits (14-7) and face-off win percentage (58-42).
The Bolts did not convert on the ensuing power play.
Almost midway through the middle frame, Victor Hedman was sent to the penalty box for interference at 8:11.
While on the power play, Bruins winger, Jake DeBrusk (21) ripped a wrist shot off of Lightning defender, Anton Stralman, and through Domingue’s five-hole to score the game’s first goal and give Boston the lead, 1-0, at 8:43 of the second period.
Torey Krug (39) and Rask (2) were credited with the primary and secondary assists.
Through 40 minutes of play, the Bruins led, 1-0, on the scoreboard and, 32-9, in shots on goal.
That’s right, Boston only allowed nine shots against entering the second intermission against the best team in the NHL– and even outshot the Bolts, 15-5, in the second period alone.
Tampa led in blocked shots (14-11), takeaways (9-5), giveaways (9-6) and hits (24-15), while the Bruins led in face-off win% (52-48).
The Lightning were 0/1 on the power play, while the B’s went 1/1 on the skater advantage heading into the third period.
Almost midway through the final frame of regulation, Hedman took a skate to the sin bin for the second time of the night for tripping Acciari at 9:29.
In the vulnerable minute after the ensuing power play, Chris Wagner sent a shot off of Domingue’s pads, generating a rebound, whereby Acciari (3) buried the loose puck in on the far side of the twine.
Boston led, 2-0, at 11:47 of the third period thanks to Acciari’s goal.
Wagner (6) had the only assist, but the Bruins were not done scoring.
Less than a minute later, Patrice Bergeron (22) received a pass from Danton Heinen and let go of a shot from the bumper through the five-hole of the Lightning goaltender to put the B’s ahead, 3-0, on two goals in a span of 45 seconds.
Heinen (14) and Acciari (5) tallied the assists on Bergeron’s goal at 12:32 of the third period.
Prior to Bergeron’s goal, Domingue had stopped 36 out of 37 shots against.
Brad Marchand (26) completed Boston’s run of four unanswered goals– including three goals in a span of 1:28– with a breakaway goal at 13:15.
Heinen (15) and Krug (40) notched the assists as the Bruins led, 4-0.
Palat (20) had the only assist on Cirelli’s goal at 13:52, as the Lightning trailed, 4-1.
Almost a minute later, Hedman hooked Charlie Coyle and went to the box for the third time of the night at 14:30.
Tampa did not score on the ensuing power play.
With about 90 seconds remaining in the game, Lightning head coach, Jon Cooper, pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker, but it was not successful as time expired in the action.
Boston completed the, 4-1, victory and snapped Tampa’s 10-game winning streak.
The Bruins finished the night leading in shots on goal (41-21), while the Lightning led in blocked shots (16-12), giveaways (16-7) and hits (35-22).
Both teams went 50-50 in face-off win%, while the Bolts went 0/3 on the skater advantage. The B’s finished 1/3 on the power play Thursday night.
Heinen (two assists), Krug (two assists) and Acciari (one goal, one assist) each had two points in the effort, while Tampa fell to 6-3 on the second night of back-to-back games this season.
Boston meets with Tampa two more times in the regular season, including once more in Tampa on March 25th and for their final game of the regular season at TD Garden on April 6th.
The Bruins kick off the month of March with the continuation of their six-game homestand on Saturday against the New Jersey Devils. Next Tuesday, the Carolina Hurricanes visit the B’s and will be wearing their Hartford Whalers throwbacks.
Boston takes on the Florida Panthers next Thursday (March 7th) and the Ottawa Senators that Saturday (March 9th) before hitting the road to Pittsburgh on March 10th.