Tag Archives: Gustav Nyquist

October 5 – Day Two – Pour one out for The Joe

Opening day is always fun (congrats to the Leafs, Blues, Oilers and Flyers for achieving 1-0-0 records, by the way), but I think its safe to say that I actually get more excited for the second day when there’s far more action (don’t even get me started about the first Saturday of the season!).

Tonight, there are eight games on the schedule, starting with three (Nashville at Boston, Montréal at Buffalo [RDS/TSN2] and Colorado at the New York Rangers) at 7 p.m. and a pair (Washington at Ottawa [RDS2] and Minnesota at Detroit [NBCSN]) half an hour later. 8:30 p.m. marks the puck drop of Pittsburgh at Chicago (SN360), while 10 p.m. features the evening’s co-nightcaps: Arizona at Anaheim and Philadelphia at Los Angeles (NBCSN). All times Eastern.

There’s certainly some fantastic games on the schedule, but one in particular has caught my eye.

 

Yes, we all know Detroit missed the playoffs last season for the first time in 25 years. That narrative was played out for the entirety of the 2016-’17 campaign.

Unfortunately, I think that story overshadowed another equally important one, especially among out-of-town fans: for the first time since December 27, 1979, the Red Wings will no longer call Joe Louis Arena home.

I cannot say I ever had the pleasure of walking into The Joe. Heck, I’ve never even been to Detroit. But for those who have, I can only imagine it was a wonderfully magical experience. Few buildings currently standing in the NHL have borne witness to such prolonged greatness.

C Steve Yzerman scored quite a few of his 692 goals between those unpredictable boards, and Nicklas Lidstrom year in and year out proved his defensive prowess by winning seven Norris Trophies and contributing to four Stanley Cup-winning efforts.

Manny Legace and Chris Osgood are just two of the many heralded goalies to man The Joe’s posts, while few defended his designated area like Bob Probert and his beloved penalty box. In fact, after spending so much of his hockey career defending his fellow Red Wings from Wendel Clark and RW Tie Domi and assuming his spot in the sin bin, Probert’s ashes were scattered in the arena’s penalty box following the club’s final home game last season.

But, unless something dramatic happens to Little Caesars Arena before 7:30 p.m. tonight, the time for Joe Louis Arena (and The Palace at Auburn Hills, for all you basketball fans) has come and gone.

And so, a new chapter in the story that is the Detroit Red Wings begins tonight as this team adjusts to its new home and begins work on building “Hockeytown Dynasty 2.0.”

Unfortunately, I don’t think that chapter gets a good starts tonight, as the Wild should be more than able to spoil the arena’s Grand Opening. Minnesota returns much of a roster that won 12-straight games en route to a 106-point season, including G Devan Dubnyk (40-19-5 record on a .923 save percentage and 2.25 GAA last season), F Mikael Granlund (26-43-69 totals in 2016-’17) and D Ryan Suter (allowed only six even-strength or shorthanded goals last season).

For Detroit, G Jimmy Howard will surely get the opening night start and will be under heavy pressure all night. Even though the Wings added D Trevor Daley, Howard may be the only line of defense considering how much Detroit’s blue line struggled last season. Knowing the Wild fired 30.8 shots-per-game last season, he may be in for a long night.

Offensively, the Red Wings have two sneaky-good top lines in Tomas TatarHenrik ZetterbergGustav Nyquist and Anthony ManthaDylan LarkinMartin Frk, but the real question will be if these six have enough firepower in them to keep this team relevant all season against some of the best defenses. This game should provide an effective litmus test in determining just that.

I feel pretty safe in predicting a Wild win tonight, especially when seeing some bookies listing Minnesota at a -140 favorite.

2017 NHL Expansion Draft: Protected Lists

30 of the NHL’s 31 teams submitted their protected lists on Saturday by 5 p.m. ET. The protected lists were made public at 10:30 a.m. ET (originally scheduled for 10 a.m.) on Sunday. Additionally, the available lists of players to choose from were released.

The Vegas Golden Knights will now spend the next few days constructing their roster, with the full reveal set for Wednesday night during the NHL Awards Ceremony at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

To recap, here’s all of the protected players:

Anaheim Ducks

Forwards: Andrew Cogliano, Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Corey Perry, Rickard Rakell, Jakob Silfverberg, Antoine Vermette

Defensemen: Kevin Bieksa, Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm

Goaltender: John Gibson

Arizona Coyotes

Forwards: Nick Cousins, Anthony Duclair, Jordan Martinook, Tobias Rieder

Defensemen: Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Alex Goligoski, Connor Murphy, Luke Schenn

Goaltender: Chad Johnson

Boston Bruins

Forwards: David Backes, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Brad Marchand, Riley Nash, David Pastrnak, Ryan Spooner

Defensemen: Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, Kevan Miller

Goaltender: Tuukka Rask

Buffalo Sabres

Forwards: Tyler Ennis, Marcus Foligno, Zemgus Girgensons, Evander Kane, Johan Larsson, Ryan O’Reilly, Kyle Okposo

Defensemen: Nathan Beaulieu, Jake McCabe, Rasmus Ristolainen

Goaltender: Robin Lehner

Calgary Flames

Forwards: Mikael Backlund, Sam Bennett, Micheal Ferlund, Michael Frolik, Johnny Gaudreau, Curtis Lazar, Sean Monahan

Defensemen: T.J. Brodie, Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton

Goaltender: Mike Smith

Carolina Hurricanes

Forwards: Phillip Di Giuseppe, Elias Lindholm, Brock McGinn, Victor Rask, Jeff Skinner, Jordan Staal, Teuvo Teravainen

Defensemen: Trevor Carrick, Justin Faulk, Ryan Murphy

Goaltender: Scott Darling

Chicago Blackhawks

Forwards: Artem Anisimov, Ryan Hartman, Marian Hossa, Tomas Jurco, Patrick Kane, Richard Panik, Jonathan Toews

Defensemen: Niklas Hjalmarsson, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook

Goaltender: Corey Crawford

Colorado Avalanche

Forwards: Sven Andrighetto, Blake Comeau, Matt Duchene, Rocco Grimaldi, Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Nieto

Defensemen: Tyson Barrie, Erik Johnson, Nikita Zadorov

Goaltender: Semyon Varlamov

Columbus Blue Jackets

Forwards: Cam Atkinson, Brandon Dubinsky, Nick Foligno, Scott Hartnell, Boone Jenner, Brandon Saad, Alexander Wennberg

Defensemen: Seth Jones, Ryan Murray, David Savard

Goaltender: Sergei Bobrovsky

Dallas Stars

Forwards: Jamie Benn, Radek Faksa, Valeri Nichushkin, Brett Ritchie, Antoine Roussel, Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza

Defensemen: Stephen Johns, John Klingberg, Esa Lindell

Goaltender: Ben Bishop

Detroit Red Wings

Forwards: Justin Abdelkader, Andreas Athanasiou, Anthony Mantha, Frans Nielsen, Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Henrik Zetterberg

Defensemen: Danny DeKeyser, Mike Green, Nick Jensen

Goaltender: Jimmy Howard

Edmonton Oilers

Forwards: Leon Draisaitl, Jordan Eberle, Zack Kassian, Mark Letestu, Milan Lucic, Patrick Maroon, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

Defensemen: Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson, Andrej Sekera

Goaltender: Cam Talbot

Florida Panthers

Forwards: Aleksander Barkov, Nick Bjugstad, Jonathan Huberdeau, Vincent Trocheck

Defensemen: Aaron Ekblad, Alex Petrovic, Mark Pysyk, Keith Yandle

Goaltender: James Reimer

Los Angeles Kings

Forwards: Jeff Carter, Anze Kopitar, Tanner Pearson, Tyler Toffoli

Defensemen: Drew Doughty, Derek Forbort, Alec Martinez, Jake Muzzin

Goaltender: Jonathan Quick

Minnesota Wild

Forwards: Charlie Coyle, Mikael Granlund, Mikko Koivu, Nino Niederreiter, Zach Parise, Jason Pominville, Jason Zucker

Defensemen: Jonas Brodin, Jared Spurgeon, Ryan Suter

Goaltender: Devan Dubnyk

Montreal Canadiens

Forwards: Paul Byron, Phillip Danault, Jonathan Drouin, Alex Galchenyuk, Brendan Gallagher, Max Pacioretty, Andrew Shaw

Defensemen: Jordie Benn, Jeff Petry, Shea Weber

Goaltender: Carey Price

Nashville Predators

Forwards: Viktor Arvidsson, Filip Forsberg, Calle Jarnkrok, Ryan Johansen

Defensemen: Mattias Ekholm, Ryan Ellis, Roman Josi, P.K. Subban

Goaltender: Pekka Rinne

New Jersey Devils

Forwards: Taylor Hall, Adam Henrique, Kyle Palmieri, Travis Zajac

Defensemen: Andy Greene, John Moore, Mirco Mueller, Damon Severson

Goaltender: Cory Schneider

New York Islanders

Forwards: Andrew Ladd, Anders Lee, John Tavares

Defensemen: Johnny Boychuk, Travis Hamonic, Nick Leddy, Adam Pelech, Ryan Pulock

Goaltender: Thomas Greiss

New York Rangers

Forwards: Kevin Hayes, Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller, Rick Nash, Derek Stepan, Mika Zibanejad, Mats Zuccarello

Defensemen: Nick Holden, Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal

Goaltender: Henrik Lundqvist

Ottawa Senators

Forwards: Derick Brassard, Ryan Dzingel, Mike Hoffman, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Zack Smith, Mark Stone, Kyle Turris

Defensemen: Cody Ceci, Erik Karlsson, Dion Phaneuf

Goaltender: Craig Anderson

Philadelphia Flyers

Forwards: Sean Couturier, Valtteri Filppula, Claude Giroux, Scott Laughton, Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek

Defensemen: Shayne Gostisbehere, Radko Gudas, Brandon Manning

Goaltender: Anthony Stolarz

Pittsburgh Penguins

Forwards: Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist, Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin

Defensemen: Brian Dumoulin, Kris Letang, Olli Maatta, Justin Schultz

Goaltender: Matt Murray

San Jose Sharks

Forwards: Ryan Carpenter, Logan Couture, Jannik Hansen, Tomas Hertl, Melker Karlsson, Joe Pavelski, Chris Tierney

Defensemen: Justin Braun, Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic

Goaltender: Martin Jones

St. Louis Blues

Forwards: Patrik Berglund, Ryan Reaves, Jaden Schwartz, Vladimir Sobotka, Paul Stastny, Alexander Steen, Vladimir Tarasenko

Defensemen: Jay Bouwmeester, Joel Edmundson, Alex Pietrangelo

Goaltender: Jake Allen

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forwards: Ryan Callahan, Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn, Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov, Ondrej Palat, Steven Stamkos

Defensemen: Braydon Coburn, Victor Hedman, Anton Stralman

Goaltender: Andrei Vasilevskiy

Toronto Maple Leafs

Forwards: Tyler Bozak, Connor Brown, Nazem Kadri, Leo Komarov, Josh Leivo, Matt Martin, James van Riemsdyk

Defensemen: Connor Carrick, Jake Gardiner, Morgan Rielly

Goaltender: Frederik Andersen

Vancouver Canucks

Forwards: Sven Baertschi, Loui Eriksson, Markus Granlund, Bo Horvat, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Brandon Sutter

Defensemen: Alexander Edler, Erik Gudbranson, Christopher Tanev

Goaltender: Jacob Markstrom

Washington Capitals

Forwards: Nicklas Backstrom, Andre Burakovsky, Lars Eller, Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Alex Ovechkin, Tom Wilson

Defensemen: John Carlson, Matt Niskanen, Dmitry Orlov

Goaltender: Braden Holtby

Winnipeg Jets

Forwards: Joel Armia, Andrew Copp, Bryan Little, Adam Lowry, Mathieu Perreault, Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler

Defensemen: Dustin Byfuglien, Tyler Myers, Jacob Trouba

Goaltender: Connor Hellebuyck

January 25 – Day 102 – Red and blue aren’t just election rivals

Tuesday’s gone, but Wednesday is here – and brings with it some more hockey games. Toronto at Detroit (SN) gets things started at 7 p.m., followed an hour later by Philadelphia at the New York Rangers (NBCSN/TVAS). We move west of the Mississippi River at 9:30 p.m. with Vancouver at Colorado (SN360), with tonight’s nightcap – Edmonton at Anaheim – starting half an hour later. All times eastern.

Short list:

  • Toronto at Detroit: Simply calling this an Original Six game is an insult to years of deep rivalry.
  • Philadelphia at New York: Just like other teams in their respective towns, the Flyers and Rangers have a history of not getting along.

As much as I dislike featuring the same team two days in a row, Detroit has another big game tonight against the Maple Leafs. Time to break out the red sweaters, boys! You’ve got some rivals coming to town!

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To put things simply, if the Bruins and Canadiens didn’t have their deep playoff history, this would be the rivalry everyone in hockey would look forward to.

Ever since the Red Wings were formed, these clubs have clashed both on the ice as well as in the stands, as Detroit and Toronto are separated by only 210 miles. They’ve faced one another 23 times in the playoffs – including seven meetings in the Stanley Cup finals – with the Wings owning a one-playoff game advantage with a 59-58 record.

Toronto enters tonight with a 22-14-9 record and in possession of the second wildcard in the Eastern Conference, their best positioning in the standings in a long time. They’ve found that success by playing well on the offensive end to score 139 goals in 45 games – the sixth-best rate in the league.

When half of your team’s top-six scorers are rookies, the rebuild looks like it is in good shape. That’s the case in Toronto, as youngster Mitch Marner leads his club with 39 points. The same goes for goalscoring, as first-overall pick Auston Matthews owns that title for the Leafs with his 22 tallies.

Just as Detroit struggles without a reliable power play, Toronto excels with their impressive man-advantage. Led by William Nylander, yet another rookie, and his 15 power play points, the Maple Leafs score on 24.1% of their extra-man opportunities – the second-best rate in the NHL. Nazem Kadri takes credit for the most man-advantage goals on the club with 10 to his credit.

Toronto has also found great success with their other special team, refusing to yield a goal on 85.2% of opposing power plays – the fourth-best rate in the league. Roman Polak gets to take a lot of the credit with his club-topping 24 shorthanded blocks.

Boston, Philadelphia and Toronto have been alternating between playoff qualification and ninth in the Eastern Conference for the last couple of weeks, and that trend could continue tonight. A loss by Toronto opens them up to falling out of the playoff bracket, while earning only a point would improve them into third place in the Atlantic Division, replacing the Bruins.

Things haven’t quite been going 20-19-9 Detroit‘s way – especially lately, as they’ve fallen in overtime in their last three games. For the first time in ages, the Wings find themselves in second-to-last in the Atlantic Division and third-to-last in the Eastern Conference, yet they enter play tonight trailing the second wildcard by only four points.

The main reason for their struggles has been their uninspiring offense, which has managed only 117 goals – the seventh-fewest in the league. That being said, Captain Henrik Zetterberg has done all he can to fight that trend with his team-leading 33 points, as have Dylan Larkin and the injured Thomas Vanek, who co-lead the team with a dozen tallies.

One of the biggest reasons for the Wings‘ lack of offensive success ranks 30th in the league. Detroit is home to the worst power play in the league, converting only 11.3% of their opportunities. Frans Nielsen has tried his hardest to resolve that issue, but his club-leading eight power play points simply aren’t cutting it. Neither are Larkin and Vanek’s three man-advantage goals.

A win tonight would not pull the Wings into playoff position, but it can propel them all the way from 14th to 10th. Even if they continue their recent trend of forcing overtime before losing, they make a significant climb up the table, advancing into 11th.

These clubs have only met once this season, and it was not under usual circumstances. On New Year’s Day, Detroit and Toronto celebrated the 100th anniversary of the NHL by playing the Centennial Classic at BMO Field (home pitch of Toronto FC). The Leafs won that game 5-4 in overtime.

Some players to keep an eye on tonight include Detroit‘s Luke Glendening (108 hits [leads the team]) and Zetterberg (33 points, including 24 assists for a +9 [all lead the team]) & Toronto‘s Frederik Andersen (20 wins [10th-most in the NHL]) and Matthews (22 goals [tied for fourth-most in the league]).

Vegas has marked the Wings a +116 underdog in tonight’s game, and that might be giving Joe Louis Arena a little too much credit. Toronto has proven they have the ability to compete with some of the best teams in the league, and they’ll want to ensure they maintain their position in the standings with a victory tonight. I don’t see the Leafs falling this evening.

Hockey Birthday

  • Chris Chelios (1962-) – Drafted 40th-overall by Montréal in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft, this defenseman pulled managed simply a Hall of Fame career over 26 seasons. He played most of his games with Chicago, but spent more seasons in Detroit. Regardless of if he’s remembered more as a Hawk or Wing, he played in 11 All Star games and hoisted just as many Stanley Cups as Norris Trophies: three.
  • Esa Tikkanen (1965-) – Edmonton picked this left wing in the fourth-round of the 1983 NHL Entry Draft, and he returned them with four Stanley Cups. He won his fifth and final in 1994 with the Rangers.
  • Randy McKay (1967-) – A sixth-round selection by Detroit in the 1985 NHL Entry Draft, this right wing spent most of his career in New Jersey. He won two Stanley Cups over his 15-season career, both with the Devils.
  • Jared Cowen (1991-) – Although drafted by Ottawa ninth-overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, this blueliner currently finds himself out of a job after losing his grievance hearing with Toronto and subsequently being cut. He has 249 games played over six seasons of experience.

For the third time in four days, the DtFR Game of the Day required more than 60 minutes to determine a winner. That winner last night proved to be the Boston, who beat the Red Wings 4-3 in overtime.

Of the three regulation periods, the first was the busiest. It got off to a quick start when Kevan Miller (Tim Schaller and Dominic Moore) scored his first goal of the season only 3:39 after the initial puck drop. The Bruins‘ lead lasted only 7:20 until Andreas Athanasiou (Third Star of the Game Mike Green and Niklas Kronwall) leveled with a snap shot. First Star Brad Marchand (Ryan Spooner and Second Star David Pastrnak) reclaimed the lead for Boston with 2:26 remaining in the period with his power play wrister, setting the score at 2-1 going into the first intermission.

The second period absolutely belonged to the Red Wings, beginning with Green’s (Zetterberg and Gustav Nyquist) tip-in at the 6:25 mark to level the match. With 9:09 remaining in the period, Tomas Tatar (Zetterberg) provided Detroit its first lead with a strong wrister.

The game was tied again at the 8:20 mark of the final frame, courtesy of Marchand (Patrice Bergeron and Torey Krug). As neither team was able to break the draw, the game advanced into the five-minute three-on-three overtime period.

That extra time nearly resulted in a shootout if not for Pastrnak’s (David Krejci and Brandon Carlo) slap shot with 47 seconds remaining. That tally earned the Bruins the extra point in the standings.

Tuukka Rask earned the victory by saving 23-of-26 shots faced (88.5%), leaving the overtime loss to Jared Coreau, who saved 45-of-49 (91.8%).

Home teams in the DtFR Game of the Day series are now on a two-game winning streak thanks to Boston‘s victory. Hosts now own a six-point advantage over the visitors with their 54-34-16 record in the series.

October 27 – Day 16 – Bunches of animals are showing up in St. Louis this week. Today it’s Otters.

It’s a busy Thursday, just the way we like them. Per usual, the action gets started at 7 p.m. with three puck drops (Minnesota at Buffalo, Arizona at Philadelphia and the New York Islanders at Pittsburgh), followed half an hour later by two more (Florida at Toronto and Tampa Bay at Montréal [RDS/SN360]). The top of the hour marks the start of two contests (Detroit at St. Louis and Dallas at Winnipeg), while this evening’s co-nightcaps wait until 10:30 before starting (Nashville at Los Angeles and Columbus at San Jose). All times eastern.

It’s goin’ be lit.

Short list:

  • Arizona at PhiladelphiaRyan White returns to the Wells Fargo Center, his home for the previous two seasons.
  • New York at Pittsburgh – I don’t need to dress up this rivalry.
  • Florida at TorontoJames Reimer only played eight regular season games with San Jose, so the Panthers are effectively his second team after six seasons with Toronto.
  • Tampa Bay at MontréalMichael Bournival used to call the Bell Centre home. Now his office is in the Sunshine State.
  • Detroit at St. Louis – In addition to being a vintage rivalry, Steve Ott returns to Scottrade Center.

If Reimer were expected to play this evening in Toronto, we’d certainly focus there. Instead, we head to St. Louis with Otter for an old-timey rivalry.

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Center Ott arrived in St. Louis with Ryan Miller when the Blues traded William Carrier, Jaroslav Halak and Chris Stewart to Buffalo at the 2013-’14 trade deadline. Miller departed for Vancouver after that postseason, but Ott remained until this offseason.

Ever since he entered the league in 2002, Ott has had a reputation for being one of the biggest pests in hockey. His penchant for getting into even the coolest of heads is well-known, as is his ability to cuss out any player in the arena in his native tongue.

It’s an ability that doesn’t show up on his stat sheet. The NHL doesn’t track “Caused Penalties in Minutes,” but if they did Ott would be a league leader. Some of the most recent Blues memories of Ott were against the Blackhawks during last season’s Western Quarterfinals. Ott was regularly getting into it with Jonathan Toews, a player that spent only 62 minutes in the penalty box during the regular season (.775 minutes, or 46.5 seconds, per game). In those seven games, he served 10 minutes – over 1.4 minutes per contest!

But it’s not simply his quick wit and abrasive behavior that has made him a fan favorite with every team he’s played for. During the 2014-’15 season, his first full campaign in St. Louis, he scored 12 points (including nine assists) while throwing 182 hits and 14 blocks. He was also effective at causing turnovers that season, forcing 21 giveaways.

This year, Ott dons the sweater of the Blues‘ former rivals: the 5-2-0 Detroit Red Wings. Before Detroit swapped conferences in 2013, the Blues and Wings shared the same division since 1981, which led to some fantastic matchups when they were both playing well (also read as when St. Louis was playing well).

The Wings enter tonight’s game on a five-game winning streak, tying Arizona for the longest active streak of any variety – except that the Coyotes have been on the losing side of things.

Much of that success has been due to some serious offensive firepower. They’ve scored 24 goals already this year in only seven games played (they average over 3.4 goals per game). Gustav Nyquist and Thomas Vanek take equal responsibility, as they both lead the team with eight points to their credit. Completing the scores have been Darren Helm and Vanek,  each of whom have a team-high four goals to their name.

The 4-2-1 Blue Notes have a .667 winning percentage in the Scottrade Center, and they’ll be looking to improve that to a .750 this evening. Although they play a more well-rounded game than their opposition, St. Louis also prefers to have the puck on their stick.

Just like he’s been the last three seasons, Vladimir Tarasenko has been the star of St. Louis so far this season (that’s why I have him on my fantasy team!). He has eight points to his credit already, four of which are goals – both totals lead the team.

Some players to keep an eye on this evening include Detroit‘s Helm (+9 [second-best in the NHL]) and Jimmy Howard (.5 GAA [leads the league] on a .984 save percentage [leads the league] for one shutout) & St. LouisJake Allen (2.39 GAA for three wins [both best on the team]) and Tarasenko (eight points [best on the team]).

The Blues barely had the upper hand last year, going 1-0-1 against the Wings by forcing overtime in their first meeting. Vegas predicts St. Louis will keep that run going tonight, as they’re favored at -155. I think that’s a safe assumption. The Blues should win this evening.

Hockey Birthday:

  • Sergei Samsonov (1978-) – This left wing played exactly 888 regular season games, over 500 of which were with Boston. He was drafted eighth overall in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft, seven picks after fellow Bruins-pick Joe Thornton, and a year later the Russian earned the Calder Memorial Trophy.
  • Brandon Saad (1992-) – This is Saad’s second season in Columbus after spending four seasons with ex-division rival Chicago. He’d already scored 179 points before this season started. Maybe he’ll score another tonight in The Tank.

With three goals in the second period, the New York Rangers bested the visiting Boston Bruins 5-2 in yesterday’s Game of the Day.

Boston actually jumped out to a 2-0 lead, starting with David Pastrnak‘s (Brad Marchand and Zdeno Chara) wrister only 10 seconds into the contest. With 5:16 remaining in the opening frame, the BruinsAustin Czarnik (David Krejci) doubled the visitor’s score with the first goal of his young career.

New York‘s comeback began 44 seconds before the midway point of the game when Second Star of the Game Rick Nash (Derek Stepan and Jimmy Vesey) connected on a power play wrister. 7:19 later, Kevin Hayes (Jesper Fast and Ryan McDonagh) scored his second goal of the season on a wrister to draw the Blueshirts even. 36 seconds before the final horn of the second period, First Star Brandon Pirri (Third Star J.T. Miller and Mika Zibanejad) buried the Rangers‘ second power play goal of the game. That tally ended up being the game winner.

Pirri (Marc Staal and Miller) and Vesey (Nash and Stepan) both scored insurance goals in the final frame to put this game away.

Henrik Lundqvist earns the victory after saving 27-of-29 shots faced (93.1%), while Zane McIntyre takes the loss, saving 26-of-31 (83.9%).

With another home victory, the DtFR Game of the Day series favors the home sides by six points with a 11-6-1 record.

October 21 – Day 10 – Ugh.

That’s all I can really say about tonight’s contests. Only three games are on tap this evening and most of them are at the same time. Two drop the puck at 7 p.m. (Arizona at the New York Islanders and Chicago at Columbus), followed half an hour later by Nashville at Detroit (NHLN/SN360/TVAS). All times eastern.

I must admit, there’s nothing really attractive about any of these three games. None of these teams have a winning record (two are .500, though), and all of them are west vs. east. I suppose we’ll go with the Predators at the Red Wings since expectations are so high for Nashville this season.

UnknownUnknownThe Nashville Predators enter tonight’s game hosting a 1-2-0 record. Their one victory came in their first game played, a 3-2 win over the Blackhawks at Bridgestone Arena. Offense has been the main struggle so far, as their seven tallies ties for fourth-fewest in the NHL. Their leading point-scorer is Ryan Johansen, who has four assists to his credit.

Their opposition this evening is the 2-2-0 Detroit Red Wings. It’s not only their record that’s even: Detroit has also scored just as many goals as they’ve allowed – 12. Barring their first game against Tampa Bay, the Wings have averaged only 22 shots per game, 11 fewer than the league average. Even more frustrating for Detroit, Tomas Tatar, who leads the squad with 12 shots, has yet to find the back of the net. Instead, it is Mike Green and Thomas Vanek leading the team offensively, both with six points evenly distributed between goals and assists.

Some players to keep an eye on this evening include Detroit‘s Green (three goals and three assists for six points [all tie for team lead]), Darren Helm (three goals [ties for team lead]), Gustav Nyquist (three assists [ties for team lead]) and Vanek (three goals and three assists for six points [all tie for team lead]) & Nashville‘s Pekka Rinne (.934 save percentage [fifth-best in the leauge] and 2.04 GAA [ninth-best in the NHL]).

Detroit is marked as the +100 underdog in tonight’s contest, a line I am comfortable with. I think the Preds can go into Joe Louis Arena and earn their second victory of the season.

Hockey Birthday

  • Carl Brewer (1938-2001) – This three-time Stanley Cup champion played 604 games over 12 NHL seasons along the blue line. Most of his career was spent with hometown club Toronto, but he also had stops in Detroit and St. Louis. In addition to his three professional titles, Brewer also helped Canada claim bronze at the 1967 World Championships.
  • Lou Lamoriello (1942-) – Although he’s coached 53 games in his career, Lamoriello is better known for his team building abilities. He spent 28 seasons in New Jersey, winning three Stanley Cups. This is is second year in Toronto. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009.
  • Michel Briere (1949-1971) – The career that never had the opportunity to truly get started, Brière played 76 games with Pittsburgh, scoring the third most points on the team. Unfortunately, he was involved in a car accident that eventually cost him his life. Brière’s 21 was never reissued, eventually being retired in 2001, and the QMJHL MVP and the Pittsburgh Penguins‘ Rookie of the Year awards both bear his name.
  • Mike Keenan (1949-) – A controversial character in the NHL that has never held down a job for more than four seasons, Keenan has coached 1386 games in the top league in the world to date. His 672-531-147-36 record for 1527 points is decent, but what he really hangs his hat on is leading the Rangers to their fourth and most recent Stanley Cup championship in 1994.

How many more leads will be blown this season? San Jose had a two-goal lead on the Penguins entering the third period, but ended up falling 3-2 in yesterday’s Game of the Day.

Both those Shark tallies were struck in the second period. 5:04 after resuming play from the first intermission, Tomas Hertl (Joe Pavelski and Brent Burns) fired his backhander past Third Star of the Game Marc-Andre Fleury to take the lead. With 3:45 remaining in that same period, Patrick Marleau (Logan Couture) doubled the Sharks‘ lead by beating Fleury with a wrister.

Pittsburgh‘s comeback began 6:47 into the final frame when Second Star Evgeni Malkin scored his second goal of the season. 2:14 later, Scott Wilson (Matt Cullen and First Star Patric Hornqvist) leveled the game with 10:59 remaining in the contest. Hornqvist’s (Phil Kessel and Malkin) struck the winning wrister with 5:58 remaining in regulation to seal the victory.

Fleury earns the victory after saving 32-of-34 (94.1%), while Martin Jones takes the loss after saving 17-of-20 (85%).

Pittsburgh‘s victory extends the home teams’ record to 8-3-1 in the DtFR Game of the Day series, favoring them by six points over the roadies.

2016 Mock Draft: The Complete First Round

By: Nick Lanciani

 

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Here’s a look at how I think the first round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft will pan out. Of course, I expect just about every single one of these predictions to be wrong. Likewise, experts and draft rankings may say a player is going to go 11th overall, but there’s always a good chance that player could slip up or down on Draft day, so I’ve tried to take account for that as I see fit.

Let’s be honest, there are a lot of good players, but how often do we see them get drafted in the right order— especially when hindsight is 20/20 (I’m looking at you, 2010 NHL Entry Draft).

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1) Toronto Maple Leafs–> C Auston Matthews, Zurich (SUI)

If you read my mock draft from last month, you might realize that it seems not much has changed with my top-14 picks. This one should be self-explanatory. Hope is back in Toronto in the form of Auston Matthews. A 6’1”, 210-pound center, Matthews is a two-way player similar in nature to Anze Kopitar in Los Angeles or Patrice Bergeron in Boston. In 36 games with Zurich this season, he had 24-22-46 totals.

Matthews was named the Rising Star Award winner and finished 2nd in voting for the MVP of the National League A in Switzerland. Matthews is the franchise center that the Maple Leafs have been waiting for since the days of Mats Sundin. He led the United States to the bronze with 7-4-11 totals at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship.

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2) Winnipeg Jets–> RW Patrik Laine, Tappara (FIN)

Patrik Laine is the number one choice for number two. You read that right, folks. Laine is one of the next best things for the city of Winnipeg and Jets fans alike. The 6’4”, 206-poung right-winger is a treat to watch and could easily fill the hole left behind by Andrew Ladd’s departure around the trade deadline. We’re talking about the kind of player that could have a bigger year than Blake Wheeler’s already big year. Laine’s size and skill combined with his maturity provides some strength on an increasingly younger and talented Jets roster.

Laine had 10 goals in 18 playoff games with Tappara en route to being named postseason MVP and winning the championship in Liiga (Finland’s top professional league). He had 17-16-33 totals in 46 games during the regular season and led all Liiga rookies in scoring. As well, Laine tied Auston Matthews in goals at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship while helping Finland win gold.

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3) Columbus Blue Jackets–> RW Jesse Puljujarvi, Karpat (FIN)

It’d take a pretty sizeable trade to get Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen to give up the 3rd overall pick— and for good reason. Puljujarvi is the next best skater in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft behind Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine. His talent and hockey sense drive his offensive game as one of the better prospects on the wing.

Puljujarvi would easily contribute to the youth movement in Columbus as the organization looks to get back to competitive form with a dominant AHL squad in Lake Erie leading the influx of prospects.

The 6’3”, 203-pound forward had 13-15-28 totals in 50 games played for Karpat in Liiga as a 17-year-old. In addition, Puljujarvi was one point shy of Jaromir Jagr’s record for U-18 players at the World Junior Championship level, having scored 17 points in seven games en route to winning gold with Finland this year at the 2016 IIHF World Juniors.

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4) Edmonton Oilers–> LW Matthew Tkachuk, London (OHL)

Originally, I had Jakob Chychrun pegged at 4th overall as the Draft’s best defenseman, but after seeing a second half of the season fade out from Chychrun, even I am skeptical of what he can become. With that, I still have faith in him (see mu 8th overall pick), but while the Oilers could use a young defenseman (that they won’t let slip away— *cough, cough* Jeff Petry), they’ll be forced to take Matthew Tkachuk instead. Not that that’s a bad thing. He’s a talented forward with lots of grit at 6’1”, 195-pounds.

Tkachuk tied Auston Matthews in scoring for the United States at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship with 11 points and hand 30-77-107 totals in 57 games with the London Knights this season. And, oh yeah, he scored the game winning goal in this year’s Memorial Cup Final for the Knights against Rouyn-Noranda. Tkachuk can also revamp a power play unit, given that 42 of his points this season with London came on the power play.

Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli can’t complain about this pick jumpstarting a quick revitalization in Edmonton with Connor McDavid receiving a skilled, young, winger on his line.

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5) Vancouver Canucks–> LW Pierre-Luc Dubois, Cape Breton (QMJHL)

I’m not sure if anyone else has noticed it yet, but there’s a dumpster fire in the Canucks management office. All kidding aside, Vancouver has had bad asset management over the last few years. Trading Jared McCann was, well, not a smooth move on Canucks GM Jim Benning’s move. Granted, Erik Gudbranson is a better defenseman than half of Vancouver’s blue line, but that’s not saying much.

Okay, now that trade analysis is out of the way, here’s the hot take on Pierre-Luc Dubois: he’s good. Dubois is a smart and versatile forward that brings a level of flexibility to the Canucks lineup. He’s more than capable of playing alongside Bo Horvat. Dubois stands tall at 6’2”, 201-pounds, but don’t let his size fool you, he’s got great hands and can play on edge. He led the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles with 57 assists and 99 points in 62 games this season and was a plus-40 rating. Dubois also finished the season in the top-six in the QMJHL in goals and points.

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6) Calgary Flames–> C Logan Brown, Windsor (OHL)

Calgary has a youth movement that at times, seems to work very well, and at other times shows exactly the kind of thing you would expect from young players— inexperience. They’ve done a good job of building through the draft, though at times surprising with who they’ve selected. Their primary focus this offseason should be on a solid defenseman, but they’re not going to find the one they’re looking for at 6th overall in the draft (yes, I know Olli Juolevi exists, let me finish).

The Flames are going to have to be one of those teams that just goes with the best available player on the board, given their position, and since Logan Brown is just that. He’s also bigger than most of their defensemen, so there should be no problem with adding size to their offense without addressing their long-term defensemen needs just yet. At 6’6”, 222-pounds, Brown is a skilled center with speed and the ability to handle the puck better than any other. Think of Joe Thornton as a comparable, since Brown is apt to be a playmaker first, goal scorer second.

He had 21 goals and 74 points in 59 games with the Windsor Spitfires this season. He also had 29 points on the power play and won 53% of his faceoffs, so there’s that.

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7) Arizona Coyotes–> D Olli Juolevi, London (OHL)        

Olli Juolevi is one of the best defensemen in this year’s draft. Of course, hindsight is always better than foresight, but for all you Team Chychrun vs. Team Juolevi people, final rankings and second half of their season performance really separates the two from one another. Both are NHL ready, but one is clearly more ready than the other and has a bit more hockey sense to him.

The fact of the matter is that Juolevi fits the Coyotes style and brings an edge to their blue line that Arizona desperately needs, given the uncertainty of who they’ll bring back and for how long with plenty of pending free agents in the desert. While the Keith Yandle deal from the spring of 2015 paid in dividends for the Coyotes with the addition of Anthony Duclair, they still lost a defenseman that they put a lot of time and effort into forging. And Brandon Gormley wasn’t much of a success either, so much so that they sent him to Colorado. There’s plenty of cause to add another defenseman to forge and create some competition for a roster spot next season.

Juolevi comes ready-made at 6’2”, 182-pounds and provides some solidarity should the Coyotes part with Oliver Ekman-Larsson in any fashion in the coming years. Juolevi had nine goals and 42 points for the London Knights this season with a plus-38 rating. He also won gold with Finland at the 2016 World Juniors and transitioned from Finland to the OHL with ease.

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8) Buffalo Sabres–> D Jakob Chychrun, Sarnia (OHL)

Sometimes players fizzle out a little before the draft to only prove everyone wrong when the experts say they’re unsure of how that player will turn out. At least, that’s what I hope is the case for Chychrun. Look, he’s one of the best defensemen in the draft, given the fact that he is definitely a first rounder and years later we could be looking back on this draft saying that Chychrun was the best defenseman from this draft.

The point is this, he’s a 6’2”, 214-pound, two-way defenseman and is sure to fight for a roster spot on the Sabres come this October. While Chychrun ultimately fell in some draft rankings, he is still a cut above many other defensemen in the draft, given his size and familiarity with the North American style of the game. His physicality and awareness brings a solid foundation to Buffalo’s blue line. Chychrun had 11 goals and 49 points in 62 games along with a plus-23 plus/minus rating this season with the Sarnia Sting.

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9) Montreal Canadiens–> RW Alexander Nylander, Mississauga (OHL)

Nylander had four goals, five assists and nine points for the Swedes at the 2016 World Junior Championship and blossomed as a skilled forward this year with the Mississauga Steelheads. He’s built for NHL stardom and could do so on one of the biggest stages in the sport in Montreal. Nylander is the 6’0”, 180-pound younger brother of Toronto Maple Leafs forward, William Nylander, and is bound to jumpstart a Canadiens offense that was streaky at best (aside from being injured) this season. He had 28 goals and 75 points in 57 games in his first OHL season with Mississauga.

He’s a dynamic skater that is more than effective on the power play, notching nine power play goals for the Steelheads. Nylander can separate himself from any other skater on the ice with ease. If the Sabres overlook Jakob Chychrun, there’s a good chance he could go 8th overall, but since they probably won’t look past Chychrun, Nylander is best fit to go to another rival of the Maple Leafs— the Habs. I’ll say it again, he’s going to be picked by a rival of Toronto, but the question is which one?

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10) Colorado Avalanche–> D Mikhail Sergachev, Windsor (OHL) 

In light of all the rumors/actual evidence that the Avalanche are/are not shopping Tyson Barrie, this one seems self-explanatory. Colorado moves a defenseman to then take a defenseman (that they’ll have to start the process all over again with) at the draft. This seems to be a very Colorado move, but stay with me for a moment on this one. Mikhail Sergachev packs a punch— we’re talking Rob Blake style impact, but with an offensively minded side of the game.

Sergachev is a big 6’2”, 208-pound defenseman and was named the best defenseman in the OHL in his first season in North America this season. His two-way presence along the blue line brings enough of an offensive element to his game to satisfy anyone that likes watching someone hit someone along the boards with their size, then start a quick transition the other way (and execute it well). With Sergachev, we’re talking almost like an Erik Karlsson, but with more strength when it comes to playing defense.

He plays with confidence and speed and had 17 goals and 57 points in 67 games with the Windsor Spitfires in his rookie season. Add to that his 31 points on the power play and maybe the Avalanche are ready to take on a young, NHL-ready defenseman that might be able to help them figure out what the heck they are doing. Sergachev is the total package that the Av’s have failed to produce on their own, but desperately want, and brings balance to their youth movement all around.

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11) New Jersey Devils–> C Tyson Jost, Penticton (BCHL)

If you’re the Devils and you’re committed to Cory Schneider as one of the league’s best-underrated goaltenders, then you should be working harder than ever to prevent the current turnaround from lasting forever. You owe it to Schneider and his goalie equipment. Okay, rant aside, New Jersey could use younger talent and it might not be a bad idea if it does take them a few years to groom it properly. After all, letting another Zach Parise get away wouldn’t be good.

The fact of the matter is this— New Jersey isn’t going anywhere unless they figure out that they need to build around Adam Larsson, Adam Henrique, Schneider and the like. Yet the Devils seem pretty insistent on going where they want with what they have, which means it wouldn’t be a bad idea to add to their lack of strength down the middle. Ray Shero is a smart general manager knows how to add talent.

Tyson Jost is perhaps one of the best-underrated players available in the draft as a 6’0”, 194-pound center heading to the University of North Dakota next season. Jost could become a cornerstone forward for New Jersey as long as they’re willing to add to their foundation. He had 42 goals and 104 points in 48 games for Penticton this season, with 14 goals on the power play and seven game-winners.

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12) Ottawa Senators–> D Jake Bean, Calgary (WHL)

The likes of another Erik Karlsson in Ottawa wouldn’t be a bad thing considering their addition of the annual butt-end of a pylon joke, Dion Phaneuf this season. Jake Bean is a solid defenseman with a considerable offensive element of his game that with some work, could flourish in the NHL. Plus his name fits the Senators obsession with defenseman with short, four-letter last names, like Cody Ceci.

Bean is a 6’0”, 173-pound offensive defenseman with excellent wheels and smart puck possession. He can make excellent passes and carry his own weight. With proper training, Bean could strengthen up enough to become a force to be reckoning with on the blue line. His stick, body and talent is sure to be a great compliment alongside any of Ottawa’s defenders in the years to come. One more thing to note, Bean led the Western Hockey League defensemen with 24 goals in 68 games in his second full season in the league with the Calgary Hitmen.

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13) Carolina Hurricanes–> C Clayton Keller, USA U-18 (USHL)

First the Hurricanes made waves by landing Teuvo Teravainen and Bryan Bickell in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks this offseason, next they’re going to make waves by selecting Clayton Keller with the 13th overall pick. Here’s why: despite what everyone tells you about size in hockey, you don’t always need size— you just need skill (and a lot of hard work). Keller is a skillful 5’9”, 168-pound center reminiscent of the likes of Martin St. Louis or Jonathan Drouin. Overlooked, doubted, under recognized, Keller is a smart, tactical, forward.

He led the USA’s U-18 program with 70 assists and 107 points in 62 games this season. As well, Keller recorded four goals and 10 points in seven games at the 2016 IIHF World U-18 Championship en route to a bronze medal. The Hurricanes need to retool down the middle in the post-Eric Staal era and Keller is likely to be their man. He’s committed to Boston University in 2016-2017 and was also selected in the second round (40th overall) of the 2014 OHL Draft by the Windsor Spitfires, proving that he’s got plenty of options for some development before making the NHL jump.

Carolina shouldn’t rush things with him, if they’re committed to the long term approach of success (though the same can’t necessarily be stated for the relocation rumors surrounding the team).

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14) Boston Bruins–> D Charlie McAvoy, Boston University (Hockey-East)

Boston needs a defenseman, so Boston drafts a defenseman they can keep their eyes on throughout his development, as McAvoy is across town at Boston University. Bruins general manager, Don Sweeney, has a lot of tough decisions to make this offseason just as he did last offseason and must look to add depth on the blue line both in the immediate future and down the pipeline.

McAvoy brings an excellent 6’0”, 208-pound frame with excellent defensive awareness. While he’s not NHL ready, a year or two of development looks to pay off in dividends with his 39 blocked shots in 37 games played this season as a freshman at BU. Likewise, McAvoy had three goals and 25 points and was a plus-10 rating in his first year as a Terrier. He had a plus-5 rating with the bronze medal-winning United States at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Under the guidance of some veterans and Boston’s coaching staff, McAvoy could turn into a household name at TD Garden.

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15) Minnesota Wild–> LW Max Jones, London (OHL)

Minnesota has some tough decisions to make this offseason with regards to their plethora of pending free agents, potentially buying out or trading Thomas Vanek and the inquiries they face in the ongoing phone calls about Darcy Kuemper. With four picks in the 2016 Draft, the Wild could be looking to stockpile a few more (and they’ve got assets to move). With Bruce Boudreau at the reigns the Wild should become a contender with the right pieces. The only trouble is finding those pieces between now and then.

An addition that’s needed for Minnesota to surpass their previous playoff failures is found in 6’2”, 203-pound forward, Max Jones. He would bring size and physicality to their lineup along with a skilled stick that scored 28 goals and 52 points in 63 games as a London Knight this season. Barring his brutality (he had amassed 106 penalty minutes and a 12-game suspension in the OHL playoffs), Jones could be a wild enough power forward for the Wild.

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16) Detroit Red Wings–> D Dante Fabbro, Penticton (BCHL)

The phrase “defense wins championships” has long been synonymous with the Detroit Red Wings. While their offense has improved in age and dynamics, as Henrik Zetterberg, Gustav Nyquist and Riley Sheahan surely cannot do everything; the Red Wings have been a little lackluster on the point in prospects. Actually, it hasn’t been a little— it’s been virtually non-existent with every young defenseman in their system having either faded out or been traded.

The point is, Detroit needs a younger defense sooner rather than later to avoid a situation similar to the *ahem* Boston Bruins or New York Rangers.

Fabbro brings in a solid 6’0”, 189-pound stature that had 14-53-67 totals in 45 games for Penticton this season. The Boston University bound defenseman will need some time to develop, but the Red Wings can take a year or two to work their way with him and align everyone on the same “defense wins championships” page. Of note, Fabbro was named the top defenseman in the British Columbia Hockey League for his efforts this season.

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17) Nashville Predators–> D Logan Stanley, Windsor (OHL)

Replacing Seth Jones isn’t easy— was something I expected to say in twenty years if you asked me three years ago at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, but now everything’s changed since Jones didn’t pan out the way Nashville envisioned how they’d utilize him. Still feeling the effects of Ryan Suter jumping ship (and Shea Weber almost jettisoning the Predators), Nashville goes with Logan Stanley to regain some control of developing their defensemen the way they want to.

At 6’7”, 225-pounds, Stanley packs a punch standing tall and bone crunching-ly strong. Additionally, he skates well and can pair up with just about any defenseman willing to carry the more offensive sides of the game as Stanley fits more of a stay-at-home, shutdown blue liner role. He had 5-12-17 totals and 103 penalty minutes in 64 games with the Spitfires this season and handles speedy forwards with ease, often breaking down oncoming rushes.

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18) Philadelphia Flyers–> C Michael McLeod, Mississauga (OHL)

The Flyers are in prime position for aligning themselves as playoff contenders for the next few seasons (at least) if they continue to manage their assets and commit themselves to a solid goaltender (looking at you Michal Neuvirth). Philadelphia has a lot of centers, so what’s one more? Likewise, GM Ron Hextall has mentioned that he wants to add size. He should do so, with versatility.

Michael McLeod led Mississauga in shorthanded goals (four) and 21-40-61 totals this season. Combined with his work ethic, McLeod’s 6’2”, 188-pound frame and speed shows durability as a playmaking forward that could develop well on the wing in Philly. While Shayne Gostisbehere holds down the blue line for the Flyers, drafting a smart, gifted offense will help balance the franchise’s talent pool in the coming years.

Overall the Flyers are a few steps away from taking the New York Islanders model into a deeper playoff routine…

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19) New York Islanders–> C Luke Kunin, Wisconsin (BIG 10)

…and speaking of the Islanders…

First, what were the they thinking with that Casey Cizikas extension? Second, they’re going to need someone to step up big time to replace Kyle Okposo, especially with the threat of John Tavares opting to hit the free agent market in 2017— though do you think New York won’t learn anything from the Tampa Bay Lightning’s current situation with Steven Stamkos to put more than enough emphasis on valuing their best franchise player? Enough ranting about the organization overall, more about Luke Kunin.

Kunin is a 5’11”, 193-pound solid center that was named to the Big Ten Conference All-Freshmen team after leading the Wisconsin Badgers with 19 goals (five of them on the power play) and 127 shots on goal in 34 games this season. Again, “solid” is the keyword here. Dependable on special teams and durable in the lineup are other expected qualities from Kunin, especially with some time to develop, he could become one of the better two-way players in the league, emulating the likes of Patrice Bergeron, Jonathan Toews or Anze Kopitar. But again, the other keyword here is development (which he’ll certainly get in his coming years at Wisconsin).

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20) Arizona Coyotes (from New York Rangers)–> LW Riley Tufte, Blaine (HS-MN)

Having already addressed Arizona’s needs, this one is simply one of those “take one of the highly ranked guys, oh and talk about his size being important to the lineup” selections.

Look, with a roster that already has Max Domi and other skilled, young players, looking to create a dynamic mix of skill and toughness in the desert, Riley Tufte is a clear choice for the Coyotes at 20th overall if he’s still available by then. He’s a 6’5”, 211-pound left wing that wins battles along the boards. Tufte also has a heavy shot and had 47 goals and 78 points (with six power play goals) in 25 games en route to winning the 2016 Minnesota Mr. Hockey Award. He also had 10 goals in 27 games with Fargo in the USHL and is committed to the University of Minnesota Duluth next season to add some more strength and development to his game.

In time, he’ll leave opponents howling for mercy in Arizona (I just wanted to make a pun, please appreciate it).

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21) Carolina Hurricanes (from Los Angeles Kings)–> D Dennis Cholowski, Chilliwack (BCHL)

Some things were said about the Hurricanes and some things remain. Meanwhile, they’ve got some good defensemen coming up the ranks and lots of potential trade bait on the blue line, both in the now and in the future. Sometimes a change of scenery is best for both teams in regards to the lack of development for players like Ryan Murphy. Likewise, the uncertainty of Justin Faulk’s future in Carolina looms overhead.

It only makes sense to make a selection that you intend to groom properly and insert into the lineup down the road. Dennis Cholowski is a 6’0”, 170-pound sturdy defenseman with excellent hockey sense and decent skating ability. He had 12 goals and 40 points in 50 games with Chilliwack this season and knows how to open up enough space for a breakout. With some strength and development at St. Cloud State University, Cholowski could become a solid, underrated, blue liner for Carolina.

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22) Winnipeg Jets (from Chicago Blackhawks)–> LW Kieffer Bellows, USA U-18 (USHL)

Barring a Patrik Laine breakdown, the Winnipeg Jets make out with two solid first round picks in my mock draft.

Kieffer Bellows is just what the Jets need for a pure goal scorer that’ll help the likes of Mark Scheifele and whoever else Winnipeg has down the middle. Bellows scored 50 goals this season with the USA U-18 national development team and is sure to make a sound next season at Boston University. His 12 power play goals and nine game-winning goals and 81 points came in 62 games this season. At 6’0”, 196-pounds he’ll be more than ready to be a durable winger coming down the pipeline in the next few seasons. Oh and he likes to shoot from anywhere, as evidenced by his 50 goals with the NTDP U-18 team.

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23) Florida Panthers–> RW Alexander DeBrincat, Erie (OHL)

The Florida Panthers are trending upwards and they appear to be only getting better, what with the Keith Yandle trade and signing as the latest piece to the puzzle and the ageless wonder— excuse me, legend— Jaromir Jagr in great shape.

Alexander DeBrincat brings a lot of skill to the Panthers roster, despite his 5’7”, 163-pound frame (but again, size doesn’t matter when hard work and talent is enough to prove people wrong). DeBrincat may have had his run-ins with trouble on the international Junior stage, but he’s not one to pass up on and cast off as uncoachable or whatever. He anticipates what comes to him with ease and has an impressive release on an accurate shot that played alongside Connor McDavid and Dylan Strome the last two seasons.

Along the way, DeBrincat amassed 102 goals in 128 games with the Erie Otters as perhaps one of the most underrated forwards alongside the likes of McDavid and Strome.

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24) Anaheim Ducks–> C Rasmus Asplund, Farjestad (SWE)

After surprising everyone with the way they flapped around the bottom of the standings at the start of this season, the Anaheim Ducks worked their way as far as a disappointing Game 7 loss in Round 1 of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs to the Nashville Predators. Then they fired Bruce Boudreau and hired Randy Carlyle as head coach. Apparently they think that every ten years they can win a Cup or something with the same head coach and just the same amount of confusion in the offseason. Where they’re headed nobody knows.

But drafting Rasmus Asplund certainly won’t be a mistake for the Ducks. Asplund’s a 5’10”, 176-pound center that will need some time to develop in order to strengthen up and fully transition to the North American style of the game, but he’s got superb leadership and great competitiveness in his game. The potential for this 4-8-12 total point scorer in 46 games with Farjestad this season to improve as he comes more into his development as a two-way forward is yet to be calculated as to just how far off the charts he could reach. Asplund is one of those well-liked guys you can work with and tailor to your needs.

Think of a lesser known, better kept secret, David Pastrnak type of player on the ice with the potential of being the next Teemu Selanne style leader off the ice. Anaheim fans will surely like that.

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25) Dallas Stars–> RW Vitaly Abramov, Gatineau (QMJHL)

The Dallas Stars aren’t looking to do much this offseason besides find better goaltending, if possible, and work on ensuring that Tyler Seguin is fully healed and ready to carry the team on his back alongside Jamie Benn again (slightly warm hot take).

Dare I say it, but drafting Vitaly Abramov could pay off in— stars— for the Stars. The 5’9”, 175-pound winger led the Gatineau Olympiques with 38 goals (with 11 of them on the power play) and 93 points this season en route to being named the QMJHL Rookie of the Year. Abramov is highly competitive and has a quick shot. There’s no need to worry about his transition to the North American game, because he’s already further developed than most for his skill level.

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26) Washington Capitals–> C German Rubtsov, Team Russia U18 (RUS)

Capping off a President’s Trophy winning season (and their best season in franchise history) with an early second round of the playoffs exit to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins was not something on the Washington Capitals’ list this season. But their plethora of talent isn’t sure to diminish anytime soon.

German Rubtsov is the kind of two-way player that could really excel under Barry Trotz’s guidance and/or alongside Alex Ovechkin, Nick Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov— actually pretty much anyone on the Capitals roster. As a 6’2”, 178-pound forward with 26 points in 28 games for Team Russia’s U18 team, Rubtsov displayed flashes of brilliance in his hockey sense and defensive awareness, bringing forth a tremendous two-way element to his game. He’s sure to win some battles in high traffic situations for Washington in the years to come with a little fine seasoning in their system, wherever that may be.

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27) Tampa Bay Lightning–> D Lucas Johansen, Kelowna (WHL)

Tampa Bay has a lot on its plate this offseason, between the swirling rumors around trading Ben Bishop, their defeat in the Eastern Conference Finals, oh and the fact that Steven Stamkos could very well be heading to unrestricted free agency and the Lightning will be left without a #1 franchise player if he decides to leave. But hey, sure, let’s look ahead for the organization, why not? What else could possibly go wrong— insert plea for Victor Hedman to tough it out and anyone else worried about what skilled Lightning player will be taken by Las Vegas at next year’s expansion draft.

Enough kidding around, Tampa could use a defenseman that is young and may need a year or two before coming into the league because, well, what else might they need. They’ve got plenty of young forwards, young defensemen (I’m looking at you Slater Koekkoek, okay actually I just wanted to type that name) and a young goalie in Andrei Vasilevskiy; so really, the choice is yours Steve Yzerman and crew. Take Lucas Johansen and you’ve got your hands on a 6’1”, 176-pound younger brother of the Nashville Predators’ Ryan Johansen.

This Johansen can skate well and play at both ends of the rink and is in an organization that has produced Duncan Keith, Shea Weber and Tyson Barrie. That’s some pretty good company to be in and enough reason for Tampa to look to the future of a shut down pair in Lucas Johansen and Hedman.

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28) St. Louis Blues–> C Pascal Laberge, Victoriaville (QMJHL)

David Backes is heading to free agency, Paul Stastny isn’t getting any younger, but at least Vladimir Sobotka may be making his return to the St. Louis Blues lineup next season. As an aside, I’m a huge fan of Sobotka, just throwing it out there. Tight against the salary cap, the Blues may be singing the blues in Ken Hitchcock’s final season as head coach if they can’t find a way to restock their prospect pool and finagle a way to keep high-end talent on their roster. It’s the tragedy of the salary cap era to see a team that’s so good, make it only so far, then have to dismantle nearly everything when they get behind the eight ball a bit against the cap.

With that, Pascal Laberge is a promising center that led the Victoriaville Tigres with 68 points in 56 games this season. He was named MVP of the 2016 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in January, by the way, and is a 6’1”, 172-pound, right-shot that goes to the dirty areas to pick up points and notch goals. His compete level and ability to play the puck along the wall, while winning battles all over the ice, prove he can develop into an all-in-one impact player for St. Louis, like Backes, but perhaps a tad better. It’s time to start thinking long term and begin building down the middle for the Blues.

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29) Boston Bruins (from San Jose Sharks)–> C Tage Thompson, Connecticut (Hockey-East)

Remember everything I said before about the Bruins? Yeah, well, they need a lot of help. Regardless of whatever they’re able to attract this offseason, they’re still quite a ways off from righting the ship unless they can pull off a miracle it seems. But hey, the good news is that they have two first round picks at their dispersal and some talent forming in their pipelines/already with the NHL club in the likes of Frank Vatrano, Colin Miller (who’s a pending RFA) and others.

Tage Thompson works perfectly for them to keep an eye on through his development at UConn. He led the NCAA with 13 power play goals this season and had 14 goals and 32 points in 36 games with the Huskies. The 6’5”, 195-pound forward finished his freshman year with lots of promise and has enough time to continue to develop into a solid, accurate shooting, quick with the hands center that would bring an immense boost to Boston’s power play if all goes according to plan. Thompson will also have to add some strength to match his height and the level of his game, but he’s got some time while Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci hold down the fort on the Bruins top lines.

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30) Anaheim Ducks (from PIT via TOR)–> RW Julien Gauthier, Val-d’Or (QMJHL)

I talked about the Ducks before, so I’ll cut to the chase, especially since you’ve been such a good reader making it all the way to the end of this mock draft. Thanks for that.

Julien Gauthier is a monstrous 6’3”, 225-pound power forward. Obviously I meant that in a good way. While some see him as a second or third rounder, Anaheim sees his potential and grabs him before anyone else can even begin to dream about having him in their lineup in the years to come. His 41-11-57 totals in 54 games for Val-d’Or are impressive enough to be a tactical selection by the Ducks, in light of being the only 2016 NHL Draft-eligible player to play for Canada at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship. Gauthier had two assists in five games played at the 2016 IIHF WJC.

And that does it. That’s all folks. Well, at least for the first round, but I don’t think you want to see me project all seven rounds do you? Thanks for reading. May your favorite team have the best of luck at Friday and Saturday’s NHL Entry Draft. We’ll have a live blog of the first round going and keep you updated on all the trades made, as usual.

Ben Bishop’s Shutout and Alex Killorn’s Late Third Period Goal Help the Lightning Move On To Round 2.

The Tampa Bay Lightning finished off the series and ended the Detroit Red Wings 2016 Playoffs early by a score of 1-0 Thursday night. The Lightning were led by 6 foot 7 goaltender Ben Bishop as he made a whopping 34 saves for his first shutout of the playoffs.Unknown-1

Tampa Bay looked to close out the series and get rid of the pesky Wings in front of their insane sellout crowd at Amalie Arena. The Red Wings turned to tendy Petr Mrazek for a third straight game after going 1-1 with a .930 SV% and a 1.52 GAA in Games 3 and 4.

Detroit looked to jump out early and quickly and gain as much momentum as possible. Just 2:51 into the game Detroit youngster Dylan Larkin spotted Wings D-man Niklas Kronwall jumping up into the rush and hit him with a nice pass. Kronwall let a nifty backhander go but was easily shut down by Bishop with no problem.

The games first penalty went to the Lightning with a little close to 4 minutes gone in the first period with a two many men on the ice call. This blunder sent the Wings to their mediocre power play, coming into Game 5 Detroit were a disastrous 1/21 on the manpower advantage. So they looked to change their luck early in the game. Lucky for them, Tampa defenseman Jason Garrison took a foolish penalty and got a trip to the sin bin to feel shame. Garrison cross checked Detroit left winger Justin Abdelkader in front of the net just 46 seconds into their first PP. Detroit looked to grab the game’s first goal on an early 5 on 3 power play.

Detroit got the game’s first excellent scoring chance on that same 5 on 3 power play. Right Winger Brad Richards corraled the puck at the left side blue line and then sent a pass across the ice to vet Pavel Datsyuk who was posted up down low on the right-hand side. The Magic Man, as he’s called, received the pass and fired a swift wrister up high that beat Bishop high glove side but caught the cross bar and came right back out. This was the last scoring chance as Tampa killed the PP off with stellar shot blocking.

Now it was the Lightning’s turn to break the scoreless deadlock. Tampa 4th liner Eric Condra picked off a terrible pass from Wings D-man Jonathan Ericsson in the right corner and spotted defender Jason Garrison making a b-line to the net. Condra rocketed a pass across the slot and Garrison grabbed the puck and fired a wrist shot on net. Mrazek made an insane left pad kick out for his best save of the game so far.

Now it was Tampa’s turn for their first power play of the game. This time, it was Detroit left winger Gustav Nyquist getting the call just 9:06 into the game for slashing D-man Braydon Coburn. Nothing came from this power play as Detroit easily killed it off, but Tampa got another chance with just 38 seconds left in the first period. Lightning young buck Jonathan Drouin used his blazing speed to draw a hooking call from Wings defender Niklas Kronwall. The period ended with Tampa still on the PP.

Lightning fans were urging their team to start the second period off right with a power play goal. Nothing came from this PP because the Lightning only managed 2 weak shots. Just 2:53 later Tampa was back on the man advantage with Wings rookie Dylan Larkin getting a two-minute call for tripping Lightning defenseman Braydon Coburn. This sent Tampa to their 3rd power play of the game but they maintained no shots. They did give up a short-handed breakaway opportunity to Detroit winger Riley Sheahan as he intercepted Victor Hedman’s D to D pass and went in all alone. Sheahan tried beating Bishop five-hole, but Bishop wasn’t having any of that and turned it away.

 

Kyle Quincey of the Red Wings took the games next penalty as he got called for hooking Tampa star Nikita Kucherov 9:47 into the second period. The Lightning weren’t able to get anything going again on their PP and only threw one shot on net during the two minutes. Then with just over eight minutes remaining Detroit defender Danny DeKeyser sprung Wings left winger Darren Helm on a breakaway with a blue line to blue line pass and sent Helm in all alone. Bishop was up to the task and turned Helm’s shot away with his right pad like it was nothing.

Detroit would then get their second power play of the game. Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman got the trip to the box after holding Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg 14:01 into the second period. Just like the Lightning, it was Detroit’s turn to give up a prime shorthanded opportunity just 58 seconds into their PP. Lightning grinder Brian Boyle came down the left-hand side and picked out streaking defender Jason Garrison. He then threw the puck in the direction for Garrison to skate into. Garrison skated to the bouncing puck sitting in the slot and swatted at it with one hand and redirected the puck on goal. Unfortunately, Mrazek made a spectacular pad save to keep it tied 0-0.

Then with just 1:30 remaining in the second period, Lightning defender Matt Carle overskated the puck at center ice. Detroit’s 19-year-old Dylan Larkin grabbed the sitting puck and was off the races all by himself. As Larkin came in on goalie Ben Bishop, he tried to fool hiUnknown-1m with a little stick handling. Bishop was unfooled and stoned Larkin with his blocker. This was Detroit’s third breakaway of the second period alone. Then jus 15 seconds later, Wings Henrik Zetterberg carried the puck into the offensive zone and picked his head up and saw a cutting Pavel Datsyuk. He hit Pavel with a mini breakaway pass and for some reason Datsyuk thought he could beat Bishop high like Larkin thought. Well, this did not work as Bishop shut down Datsyuk’s chance and calmly turned it away with his blocker.

The third period got off to a very slow start, the two teams traded shots back and forth, but nothing major. The first chance came with 2:53 remaining in the game thanks to Detroit new comer Mike Green. Wings right winger Tomas Tatar came flying into the zone and laid out a nice drop pass behind him. The pass found the stick of Mike Green and he took a couple steps in and fired a laser of a wrist shot, but Ben Bishop, once again, didn’t break a sweat and easily swallowed the shot up.

Now with just 1:43 remaining in the game, the first and only goal was scored. Lightning right winger Ryan Callahan cleverly picked off goalie Petr Mrazek’s behind the net pass. He then, quickly, turned around and fired a pass to top line left winger Alex Killorn who was sitting in the slot and he slammed the puck into the wide open net to give the Lighting the late 1-0 lead. This goal was Killorn’s 13th career playoff goal and 4th goal in 5 playoff games this year.

Detroit pulled their goalie Mrazek with 1:12 left in the game desperate for a tying goal. They even got help, because Lightning D-man Jason Garrison took his second senseless penalty of the game. He cross-checked Henrik Zetterberg with 43 seconds remaining in the game and the Wings got a 6 on 4 man advantage. This advantage did not help at all as Detroit were only able to achieve 1 shot total.

Killorn’s late period goal stood as the game and the series winner. Tampa Bay now moves on to face the winner of the Florida/New York matchup that is currently tied 2-2 in the series.

Detroit goalkeeper Petr Mrazek finished the game saving 23 out of 24 shots for a .958 SV%. While Lightning goalie Ben Bishop was unbeatable stopping 34 out of 34 shots for his first perfect game of the playoffs.

The Tampa Bay Lightning’s top points leader was Nikita Kucherov with 8 points in 5 games (5G, 3A), the top geno (goals) leader was Kucherov (5G), and the top apple (assists) leader was Tyler Johnson with 5. The Lightning also had defender Victor Hedman who averaged 27:01 TOI (Total On Ice) per game, while Ben Bishop finished with a 4-1 record, a .950 SV%, and a 1.61 GAA in 5 games. The Detroit Red Wings top points leader was Tomas Tatar with 3 points in 5 games (0G, 3A), the top geno (goals) leader was an 8 player tie for first with one goal (Mike Green, Henrik Zetterberg, Justin Abdelkader, Gustav Nyquist, Brad Richards, Dylan Larkin, Darren Helm, and Andreas Athanasiou), and top apple (assist) leader was also Tomas Tatar with 3. The Wings TOI (Time On Ice) leader was Danny Dekeyser who averaged 21:48. Jimmy Howard finished with a 0-2 record, .891 SV%, and a 3.59 GAA in 2 games. Detroit’s star goalie Petr Mrazek finished with a 1-2 with a .945 SV%, and a 1.35 GAA in 3 games.

The Lightning will now wait until their next series starts while the Red Wings will start their golfing season earlier than they hoped for. Meanwhile, every Red Wings fan will be on the edge of their seat this offseason. As they await word from Pavel Datsyuk to see if he is going to play in the NHL next year, or go back to Russia and play in the KHL. Tampa Bay ended up winning the series in 5 games by a total of 4-1.

 

 

 

 

Drouin and Kucherov Take Over Game 4

The Tampa Bay Lighting defeated the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 in game 4 of the series. Tampa now has a stranglehold on Detroit with a 3-1 series lead. Nikita Kucherov and Jonathan Drouin had 3-point nights, as Drouin had 3 assists and Kucherov had 2 goals and an assist. Tampa had a great night on special teams going 3/5 on the powerplay. Unknown-1

The first period started when just five minutes into the game Justin Abdelkader took a holding penalty. On the Powerplay Tampa was able to open the scoring as Nikitia Kucherov his 4th of the playoffs off a one-timer. Jonathan Drouin and Tyler Johnson picked up assists on the goal. Petr Mrazek was keeping Detroit in the game making a lot of really good saves. The momentum began to switch and Detroit started using their speed, but couldn’t seem to beat Ben Bishop.

In the second period Tampa retook momentum with a strong forecheck that seemed to keep Detroit pinned in their zone. Drouin was having a great night on the forecheck as he was playing the pest role, picking the pockets of the D-men. No surprise, the pressure caused Detroit to take another penalty as Riley Sheahan took a slashing penalty. Kucherov struck again on the powerplay after a great pass by Jonathan Drouin, extending Tampa’s lead to 2-0.

With 7 minutes left in the period, Cedric Paquette took his 3rd penalty of the game. Right after the penalty expired, Darren Helm capitalized on a lucky bounce to cut the lead in half, and picking up assists on the goal were Brendan Smith and Luke Glendening. Detroit wasn’t done yet, though. With less than 10 seconds left in the period, Gustav Nyquist scored his first of the playoffs. Riley Sheahan made a great pass over the D-man to Nyquist, who put it by Bishop. Unknown-1

Detroit started the 3rd period much better than the first two periods, and was outshooting Tampa 6-2 early. Detroit thought they had taken the lead as Larkin hit the crossbar with a backhand. The red hot Tampa powerplay unit got another chance as Jonathan Ericsson took a crosschecking penalty. On that powerplay, Jonathan Drouin had another great pass to find Ondrej Palat for the tip in and gave Tampa the lead, 3-2. They were able to see the game out and take the 3-1 lead in the series.

The next game between the Red Wings and the Lightning will be Thursday, April 21 at 7pm Eastern time at Amalie Arena.

February 14 – Day 122 – These teams definitely don’t love each other…

It took overtime, but the Anaheim Ducks were able to avenge their 3-2 overtime loss on the Pond against the Blackhawks by winning in Chicago by the same score.

The Hawks scored the first goal, but it wasn’t until 35:28 had ticked off the clock and Anaheim committed a penalty.  It came courtesy of Second Star of the Game Brent Seabrook on a slap shot, assisted by Patrick Kane (his 45th helper of the season) and Duncan Keith.  It was the only goal of the period, so Chicago took the 1-0 lead into the third.

The Ducks leveled the score at the 4:56 mark of the final frame on a Jakob Silfverberg wrister, assisted by Third Star Ryan Kesler (his 16th helper of the season) and Cam Fowler.  The Ducks then took the lead 3:42 later with a David Perron wrister, assisted by First Star Ryan Getzlaf (his 36th helper of the season) and Mike Santorelli.  The Hawks leveled the game again with 7:59 remaining in regulation when Seabrook scored his second of the night, assisted by Andrew Desjardins and Andrew Shaw (his 18th helper of the season).  Neither team was able to break the tie, so our Game of the Day series went to its second straight overtime period.

The three-on-three lasted only 2:16 before Getzlaf scored the wrister-winner, assisted by Fowler and Sami Vatanen (his 20th helper of the season).

Frederik Anderson replaced John Gibson (16 of 17,  94.1%) at the beginning of the third period and earned the win, saving five of the six shots he faced (83.3%), while Corey Crawford takes the loss after saving 41 of 44 (93.2%).

The DtFR Game of the Day series now stands at 54-27-11, favoring the home squads by 34 points over the roadies.

As usual, the NHL takes a little bit of a reprieve on Sundays, but with the NFL finally out of the way, there’s a little bit more room for some exciting games.  The first games drop the puck at 12:30 p.m. eastern (Colorado at Buffalo and Los Angeles at New Jersey), followed three hours later by Boston at Detroit (NBC).  Tampa Bay hosts St. Louis at 6 p.m. eastern, which is trailed by Philadelphia at the New York Rangers (NBCSN) by 90 minutes.

40% of today’s games are between divisional rivals (Boston at Detroit and Philadelphia at New York), and another set of two are between teams currently qualifying for the playoffs (Boston at Detroit and St. Louis at Tampa Bay).  As usual, I like to choose the game that qualifies for both, especially since they are slated to meet in the Eastern Quarterfinals, so we’re headed to Hockeytown!

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Today’s game will be Boston‘s 12th in the Game of the Day series (most in the Atlantic Division), where they own a 4-6-1 record.  Their most recent was Tuesday’s game, where the Kings smashed them 9-2 in the TD Garden.  Detroit has been featured six times before today, and own a 4-2-0 record in such games.  They were last featured Monday, when they beat the Panthers in Motown 3-0.

The 30-19-6 Boston Bruins currently sit in second in the Atlantic Division and fourth in the Eastern Conference.  They play one of the best offenses in the league, but it’s paired with a defense that, although improving, allows the 13th-most goals.  As they were just featured Tuesday, a more in-depth analysis of their game can be found within that post.

With yesterday’s 4-2 win in Minnesota, the Bruins are currently riding a two-game win streak.  Should they extend it to three, they not only expand their lead over the Wings for second in the division to three points, but they also draw within two points of Florida for the division lead.

The 28-18-9 Detroit Red Wings currently occupy third in the Atlantic Division and fifth in the Eastern Conference.  The name of the game in Motown is defense, which ranks 11th-best in the league, but it is paired with the ninth-worst offense in the NHL.

Thanks in part to Danny DeKeyser’s 76 blocks, 21-10-5 Petr Mrazek and co. have had to save 1624 shots, only one more than the league average, of which they’ve collectively saved 92.3% for 138 goals against, 11th-fewest in the league.  That ranking may be explained by Detroit‘s penalty kill, which ranks 14th-worst in the league, killing only 80.43% for 36 extra-man goals against.

The offense has been even poorer, firing only 1593 shots (led by Dylan Larkin’s 149 attempts), 8.7% of which have found the back of the net for 139 goals (led by Larkin’s 18 tallies), ninth-fewest in the league.  Again, those numbers might have the special teams to blame, as the Wings rank 11th-worst in the league with a man-advantage.  They score on only 18.18% of attempts, for 32 power play goals (led by Gustav Nyquist’s six extra man tallies).

The Wings lost their most recent showing, a 3-2 shootout loss on home ice to the Avalanche.  Should the Wings avoid that loss from becoming a streak, they will move a point past Boston for second place in the Atlantic Division, but a loss runs the risk of the Wings falling to the first wild card spot should Tampa Bay beat the Blues.

Boston and Detroit have already played twice this season, with the Bruins winning both contests.  Their most recent meting was November 25, a 3-2 overtime game in Detroit.

Some players to watch in today’s game include Boston‘s Brad Marchand (27 goals [tied for fifth-most in the league]) and Tuukka Rask (four shouts [tied for fourth-most in the league) & Detroit‘s Larkin (+25 [tied for second-best in the league]) and Mrazek (1.94 GAA [leads the league], .933 save percentage [leads the league] and four shutouts [tied for fourth-most in the league).

Especially when taking Detroit‘s offense into consideration, it is tough to pick against the Bruins.

 

February 3 – Day 111 – Potential playoff matchup? But we already saw it last year!

St. Louis got exactly the start to the second half they wanted, but it was a little stressful.

The only goal of the game was scored with only 1:05 by Troy Brouwer (who I’m giving the First Star of the Game, assisted by Alex Pietrangelo (his 19th helper of the season) and Robby Fabbri.  The Preds were unable to react and get a leveling goal

Brian Elliott saved all 16 shot he faced to earn the clean sheet, while Pekka Rinne allowed only the one goal on 23 shots faced (95.7%).

The DtFR Game of the Day series now stands at 48-24-9, favoring the home team by 32 points over the road squads.

With so many games yesterday, it makes sense that tonight has only three matchups on the schedule.  The action starts at 7 p.m. eastern when Buffalo visits Montréal (SN/RDS), followed an hour later by Detroit at Tampa Bay (NBCSN/TVAS).  This evening’s nightcap drops the puck at 9:30 p.m. eastern when Carolina visits Calgary (SN1).

Two of tonight’s games are between division rivals (Buffalo at Montréal and Detroit at Tampa Bay), and Detroit at Tampa Bay is the only meeting of teams currently qualifying for the playoffs (in fact, they are currently slated to meet each other in the first round).

Detroit at Tampa Bay is also a rematch of one of last season’s Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

I give you three guesses to pick tonight’s Game of the Day, and you probably won’t need two of them.

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Detroit has been featured four times in the Game of the Day series before tonight, and own a 3-1-0 record in those games.  Their most recent was a 4-2 victory in Brooklyn on January 25.  This is Tampa Bay‘s eighth time being featured, with their most recent being a  5-2 loss in Colorado on January 22, which dropped their series-record to 3-3-1.

The 25-16-8 Detroit Red Wings currently sit in third place in the Atlantic Division and sixth in the Eastern Conference.  They play the 10th best defense in the league, but have been held back by the seventh worst offense.

Led by Danny DeKeyser’s team-leading 65 blocks, the Wings have allowed 1473 shots to reach the incredible 18-9-4 Petr Mrazek and co., of which they’ve collectively saved 92.3% for 121 goals against.  That being said, the penalty kill has been only average, killing 80.89% (15th-best in the league) for 30 power play goals against.

Even with Dylan Larkin’s 127 shots, the Wings have only fired the puck 1404 times, but 8.6% have found the back of the net for 121 goals (led by Larkin’s 15 tallies).  Part of the offense’s problem has been the 13th-worst power play in the league, scoring on only 17.65% for 27 extra-man tallies (led by Gustav Nyquist’s six goals).

Detroit won their last game before the break, and will need to continue that success in the tight Atlantic division race.  A win tonight moves them past the Bolts into second in the division.

The 27-18-4 Tampa Bay Lightning currently sit in second place in the Atlantic Division and fifth in the Eastern Conference.  To get to that position, they’ve played the fifth-best defense in the league paired with the 15th best offense.

Led by Victor Hedman’s team-leading 83 blocks, the Bolts have allowed only 1373 shots to reach 19-14-3 Ben Bishop and co., of which they’ve collectively saved 92.4% for only 114 goals against.  Part of the reason for that success has been the 14th-best penalty kill in the league, killing 81.08% for only 28 goals against.

The Bolts have also been pretty good at putting on the offensive pressure, even though they only have 1420 shots to their credit (led by Steven Stamkos’ 145 attempts).  Nine percent have found the back of the net for 128 goals against, led by Stamkos’ 21 tallies.  Part of the reason for that success has been the 15th-best power play, scoring on 18.13% of attempts for 31 extra-man tallies (led by Stamkos’ 10 power play goals).

Just like their opposition, Tampa won their last game before taking the All-Star Break.  Turning that win into a streak this evening gives Tampa an actual lead over Detroit in the standings.

Thanks to winning both the previous meetings this season, Detroit would clinch the season series with anything better than a regulation loss tonight.  These squads last met in Detroit exactly three months ago, with the Wings winning 2-1.

Some players to watch in tonight’s game include Detroit‘s Larkin (+24 [tied for best in the league]) and Mrazek (.932 save percentage [tied for second-best in the league] and 2.03 GAA [tied for third-best in the league]) & Tampa Bay‘s Bishop (2.02 GAA [second-best in the league] and 19 wins [tied for ninth-best in the league]).

Although Detroit has had the upper-hand so far this season on Tampa, the Bolts have improved a lot since their meeting in November.  I’m picking Tampa Bay to win this one and start the second half of their season on the right foot… or skate… or whatever.