Tag Archives: Honda Center

2019-20 NHL Mascot Power Rankings

Back by popular demand– though a few months later than last season– it’s once again time to rank the NHL mascots.

In January 2017, DTFR began a new tradition of giving props for great efforts made in the community, laughs shared, smiles brought to everyone’s faces and (most importantly) character displayed by every mascot in the National Hockey League.

So without further ado, let’s get started.

31) New York Rangers 31st in 2018-19, 30th in 2017-18

The Rangers still don’t have a mascot, which in today’s day and age is a crime. Just march Brian Leetch around Madison Square Garden once in a while or something. Maybe even let Henrik Lundqvist become the team’s first mascot once he retires.

30) Al the Octopus (Detroit Red Wings) 30th in 2018-19, 26th in 2017-18

It’s a yearly tradition at this point to mention how awesome any Al the Octopus plush toy is and that it’s a shame the Red Wings never made Al the Octopus into a real thing instead of just a prop that ended up being sold for $7,700 at an auction in 2017 after Joe Louis Arena was closed and Detroit moved into their current home, Little Caesars Arena.

29) Spartacat (Ottawa Senators) 21st in 2018-19, 9th in 2017-18

Just like the Senators, Spartacat has fallen on hard times and really needs someone to love him. Unfortunately for Spartacat, he probably needs a haircut first or at least that rebrand to finally come around and give Ottawa a fresh look all-around (with new jerseys, new logos and new players).

28) Thunderbug (Tampa Bay Lightning) 18th in 2018-19, 15th in 2017-18

Being as cute as a bug no longer cuts it when you have Gritty running around causing chaos, plus other mascots really drumming up their personality bits. Perhaps Thunderbug has gotten too casual in recent years and that’s the reason why the Lightning haven’t won the Cup since 2004.

27) Nordy (Minnesota Wild) 28th in 2018-19, 24th in 2017-18

Like Minnesota sports as a whole, Nordy is just comfortable where he’s at. Nobody’s really sure whether he’s a fox, a wolf or some hybrid northern animal native to the wild, but the Wild’s mascot might also be on General Manager, Bill Guerin’s, list of assets to move at this year’s trade deadline if he’s not careful.

26) Wild Wing (Anaheim Ducks) 17th in 2018-19, 3rd in 2017-18

Wild Wing would be the perfect mascot for a roller hockey team, which is fitting for his location in southern California– where you could play roller hockey year-round. What might be a better option for the Ducks, however, would be to have legendary surfer, Rob Machado, make more appearances at Honda Center in an Anaheim sweater.

25) Sparky the Dragon (New York Islanders) 29th in 2018-19, 25th in 2017-18

With a new arena in Belmont Park looming, one would think the Islanders would make the natural switch to a horse-based mascot because, you know, horse racing and stuff. Either that or just give Sparky the Dragon a more fish-based appearance. Just add a few cuddly scales or perhaps give him a fishing rod that can also double as a hockey stick. Props go a long way at improving ratings.

24) Tommy Hawk (Chicago Blackhawks) 20th in 2018-19, 14th in 2017-18

Something about Tommy Hawk just feels off these days. Perhaps his contract will be traded in the offseason too while the Blackhawks adjust from their decade of dominance in the early 2010s to life in the 2020s.

23) Stanley C. Panther/Viktor E. Ratt (Florida Panthers) 25th in 2018-19, 20th in 2017-18

The Panthers have what some might call the “Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly of mascots”. Sure their early works were great, but their recent comedy has shown their age. Florida should put all of their focus in on one or the other– or at least give Olli Jokinen a proper display case inside BB&T Center.

22) Hunter (Edmonton Oilers) 26th in 2018-19, 23rd in 2017-18

Hunter’s redeeming quality this year is the new alternate threads for the Oilers. Edmonton’s new third sweaters help take away the scary qualities of this lovable lynx if you could only see through his otherwise terror inducing mane.

21) Howler (Arizona Coyotes) 27th in 2018-19, 21st in 2017-18

The Coyotes are embracing their kachina sweaters like never before and we can only hope that Howler will have to wear them full-time in the near future. If not, he’ll continue to be average in ranking. Your move, Arizona.

20) Bernie the St. Bernard (Colorado Avalanche) 22nd in 2018-19, 22nd in 2017-18

There’s nothing inherently wrong with Bernie the St. Bernard, since St. Bernard dogs are usually the go-to rescue animals in the event of an avalanche in the real world, but it’s just a little too on the nose compared to the Yeti that once walked the corridors of Pepsi Center.

It was as close to a Sasquatch as you’d see in an NHL arena– until Seattle joins the fray in 2021, that is (hopefully they take our suggestion for a mascot). So yeah… the Avalanche have an average mascot.

19) Youppi! (Montreal Canadiens) 10th in 2018-19, 6th in 2017-18

Look, there’s nothing bad about Youppi!, but has anyone heard from him lately? I mean, is everything ok? First the Tampa Bay Rays jettison their plans for a potential split-season between St. Petersburg and Montreal, then the Canadiens just seem to have really overlooked how much he means to the mascot world lately.

Fear not, this may be a down year in the rankings, but Youppi! should bounce back once the Expos return from their quick run to get bread and milk.

18) Bailey (Los Angeles Kings) 3rd in 2018-19, 1st in 2017-18

Cranky mascots on Twitter is getting kind of old. We’re just putting Bailey here so he can tweet at us and change our minds.

17) Harvey the Hound (Calgary Flames) 23rd in 2018-19, 18th in 2017-18

Put a shirt on for heaven’s sake. It’s winter! Canadians, man. They’re an interesting breed.

16) Chance (Vegas Golden Knights) 9th in 2018-19, 31st* in 2017-18

We gave Chance a chance, but now the Golden Knights’ mascot just seems average, if not just old news thanks to something we call “the Gritty Factor” in the industry. A good performance at the 2020 NHL Mascot Showdown could boost his ranking.

15) Mick E. Moose (Winnipeg Jets) 16th in 2018-19, 11th in 2017-18

Mick E. Moose looked stunning in Winnipeg’s 2019 Heritage Classic sweater, but unfortunately for the Jets mascot, there’s not much else going for him these days. Maybe next year.

14) Gnash (Nashville Predators) 19th in 2018-19, 17th in 2017-18

Gnash gets some bonus points for Nashville’s 2020 Winter Classic sweater, but he hasn’t done anything out of this world lately to try to capture a few more spots.

13) Slapshot (Washington Capitals) 5th in 2018-19, 4th in 2017-18

Once a rising star in the mascot ranking world, Slapshot lost a little of his edge while the Capitals roll right along with the Metropolitan Division lead. Another Stanley Cup Final run could be the cure for his ails.

12) Victor E. Green (Dallas Stars) 12th in 2018-19, 19th in 2017-18

We’re over the moon for this huggable alien in his Stars 2020 Winter Classic threads. Victor E. Green’s also still got those cute hockey stick ears going for him, but could use another viral video or two to really move him up the ranks. Anyone know if he’s on TikTok?

11) Stinger (Columbus Blue Jackets) 15th in 2018-19, 27th in 2017-18

Stinger’s quips with Greg Wyshynski are amusing and have us concerned about just how sentient all NHL mascots have become in today’s world. We’d hate for him to sting us next. The Blue Jackets, in the meantime, are slowly being forgiven over the years for the mistake that was Boomer. Meanwhile, Elvis Merzlikins’ post-win celebrations might merit their own felt-based mascot sometime soon.

10) Louie (St. Louis Blues) 14th in 2018-19, 12th in 2017-18

The Blues win one Cup in 52 years and everyone loses their minds except one being– Louie. Louie will never give you up. He’s never going to let you down (anymore). He’s never going to run around and desert you. Also, he’s just really nice, so let’s reward him with Top-10 status this season.

9) Stormy (Carolina Hurricanes) 24th in 2018-19, 28th in 2017-18

Our biggest improvement this season belongs to none other than Stormy. It may or may not have something to do with him rocking Hartford Whalers gear on Whalers Night for the past two seasons, but the Hurricanes mascot is looking fine as ever in every thread that covers that hog body.

Plus we’ll give bonus points for Hamilton the Pig and free street-cred to the wonderful fans that own and care for Hamilton.

8) Blades the Bruin (Boston Bruins) 8th in 2018-19, 5th in 2017-18

The Bruins almost saw Blades fall in this year’s rankings if it weren’t for how well he’s able to pull off that “B” on their new alternate jerseys. It seems fitting that Blades wears the first letter of his name big and bright on his jersey once in a while. Now if only we could get him to do a backflip or something.

7) Carlton the Bear (Toronto Maple Leafs) 11th in 2018-19, 13th in 2017-18

The Maple Leafs mascot is in the Top-10 for the first time in our ranking and he is looking classier than ever before for some reason. Did someone say “everything old is new again”? Because he’s old, but never going out of style. Alexa, play “Style” by Taylor Swift while we jam with Carlton the Bear and his friends.

6) Fin (Vancouver Canucks) 7th in 2018-19, 10th in 2017-18

Slow but steady has been the progress of the Canucks over the last few years that this season they might make the playoffs and next season Fin just might make the Top-5 in our mascot ranking. Unfortunately for Vancouver’s favorite orca, he’s just one spot shy of being a certified superstar in the making.

5) Gritty (Philadelphia Flyers) 4th in 2018-19, 29th* in 2017-18 (pre-Gritty)

We swear we didn’t take the easy way out by picking Gritty as this year’s top 5th place mascot, but would you honestly blame us if we did? We are all gritizens these days anyway and Gritty rules us all. It certainly helps that the Flyers introduced their “Disassembly Room” and continue to go all-in on the chaos that Gritty brings everywhere he goes.

Plus, look at all the props, costumes and sheer grit that Philly’s orange monster has for each and every event, game and everything in between.

(We also wrote this before learning of the current allegations against Philadelphia’s beloved orange ball of fur.)

4) Iceburgh (Pittsburgh Penguins) 1st in 2018-19, 7th in 2017-18

Iceburgh won top-dog– er, penguin– in last season’s mascot ranking, but things have cooled off for a bit while the Penguins mascot comes down from the many highs of being the No. 1 mascot. He’s ready to settle down and chill in his nest for a while, then go right back for the krill next year.

3) Sabretooth (Buffalo Sabres) 6th in 2018-19, 8th in 2017-18 

Just look at how phenomenal the Sabres’ 50th anniversary sweaters are, then look how much they bring out all the best qualities in Sabretooth to the forefront of this rising mascot in the ranking.

Sabretooth’s a shoe-in for Runner-Up or First Place next season when Buffalo goes back to royal blue as their primary color. The question is, will Sabretooth’s stripes change accordingly?

2) S.J. Sharkie (San Jose Sharks) 2nd in 2018-19, 2nd in 2017-18

For the third year in-a-row, S.J. Sharkie came in 2nd in our ranking. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that we think Sharkie won’t be able to win this competition like how the Sharks always find a way to disappoint their fans before (or during) the Final.

One of these years, San Jose. One of these years. Unfortunately it won’t be this year, as the Sharks are likely to miss the postseason and don’t even have their first round pick.

1) N.J. Devil (New Jersey Devils) 13th in 2018-19, 16th in 2017-18

What’s hotter than hell these days? The N.J. Devil himself.

Seriously, just look at this gorgeous mascot and you too will start questioning if you’re really that attracted to his facial hair or the fact that this guy can bench more than your cousin Tony. New Jersey, your next reason to shutdown your beaches is right in front of you and it looks way hotter.

Also, has there ever been a more relatable mascot that loves pizza just like us?


In all seriousness though, all of the league’s mascots do a great job of being an entertaining part of the game, as well as wonderful ambassadors for spreading kindness and cheer in their community.

Hats off to the people living inside the sweaty costumes and the marketing teams behind them.

Game of the week: February 11-17

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Halak, B’s, shutout Ducks, 3-0

Jaroslav Halak stopped all 30 shots he faced and Chris Wagner had the empty net goal against his former team in the Boston Bruins’ 3-0 shutout victory over the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on Friday.

Halak (15-9-4 record, 2.35 goals against average, .923 save percentage in 30 games played) earned his 4th shutout of the season (46th career shutout) and became the 14th goaltender in Bruins franchise history to record at least four shutouts in his first season with the club.

Byron Dafoe was the last Boston goaltender to do so in his first season with the B’s, recording six shutouts in 1997-98.

Noel Acciari and Jake DeBrusk also had goals for Boston in the win.

Kevin Boyle (1-1-0, 1.52 GAA, .955 SV% in three games played) made 26 saves on 28 shots against for a .929 SV% in the loss for Anaheim.

Boston improved to 33-17-8 (74 points) on the season and remains in 3rd place in the Atlantic Division, while the Ducks fell to 22-27-9 (53 points) thus far and stayed in 7th in the Pacific Division.

The Bruins improved to 21-4-5 when scoring first this season, as well as 21-1-3 when leading after two periods. With Friday’s win, the B’s are now 12-10-5 on the road this season (including 1-0-0 on the current road trip) and 6-0-1 in the month of February.

Anaheim is now 3-16-4 since Dec. 18th with the loss on Friday. The Ducks also trailed on the scoreboard after two periods for the 29th time this season and fell to 6-21-2 in that span.

Bruce Cassidy didn’t make any changes to his lineup from Tuesday, but indicated prior to Thursday’s practice in Anaheim that Karson Kuhlman would make his NHL debut on Saturday against the Los Angeles Kings and Matt Grzelcyk (lower body) would return to the lineup as well.

Kuhlman was recalled from the Providence Bruins (AHL) prior to the B’s departure for their current road trip with David Pastrnak (left thumb) out of the action.

Steven Kampfer remains on conditioning loan to Providence and technically a healthy scratch for the Bruins on Friday.

Early in the first period, Brandon Carlo ripped a slap shot from the point that was tipped in by Acciari (2) to give Boston the, 1-0, lead at 5:31 of the opening frame.

Carlo (3) and Sean Kuraly (9) had the assists on the goal.

Entering the first intermission, despite leading on the scoreboard, the B’s trailed the Ducks, 11-8, in shots on goal.

Rickard Rakell was assessed a holding infraction at 4:58 of the second period for tying up Patrice Bergeron, sending the Bruins on their first power play of the night.

Nine seconds into the ensuing skater advantage, DeBrusk (16) buried a rebound to give Boston a two-goal lead on the power play.

David Krejci (33) and Torey Krug (36) had the assist’s on DeBrusk’s power play goal at 5:07 of the second period.

DeBrusk tied his career-high in goals– set last season– and now has goals in back-to-back games after a 13-game goalless drought prior to Tuesday night against the Chicago Blackhawks.

14 seconds after Boston capitalized on their first power play of the night, Brandon Montour got a stick up high on Peter Cehlarik and cut a rut to the penalty box, leaving the B’s with their second power play opportunity of the game.

The Bruins were not able to convert on Montour’s penalty.

Moments later, Wagner was penalized for interference at 8:57 of the middle frame, giving the Ducks their first look on the power play of the night.

With two seconds left on Wagner’s minor, John Moore hooked Max Jones and presented Anaheim with a brief 5-on-3 advantage at 10:55, before returning to an abbreviated 5-on-4 skater advantage.

The Ducks amassed three shots on goal through almost four minutes on the power play and could not beat Halak.

Through 40 minutes of play, the Bruins led, 2-0, on the scoreboard, despite trailing Anaheim in shots on goal (22-17). Boston held the advantage in giveaways (12-7) and face-off win percentage (61-39), while the Ducks led in blocked shots (12-8) and hits (19-16).

Both teams had four takeaways aside as Anaheim went 0/2 and Boston went 1/2 on the power play heading into the 3rd period.

Derek Grant jumpstarted the action in the third period with a holding penalty at 1:13, but the Bruins were not able to convert on the resulting power play.

Past the midpoint of the final frame of regulation, Hampus Lindholm was penalized for interfering with Brad Marchand at 10:56. Boston did not score on the ensuing power play.

Instead, shortly after the power play expired, Moore bumped into Boyle and received a two-minute fraction for goaltender inference at 13:05 of the third period.

The Ducks did not muster any offense on the ensuing power play.

Interim head coach (and current Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Ducks), Bob Murray, pulled his goaltender with about two minutes remaining in regulation for the extra attacker, but it was too little, too late.

Especially more so after Wagner (7) put the game away with his empty net goal at 18:29. Kuraly (10) and Zdeno Chara (6) collected the assists on Wagner’s goal against his former team.

The goal also tied Wagner’s career-high for most goals in a season (seven) and was the 13th empty net goal allowed by the Ducks in the 2018-19 regular season.

At the final horn, Boston had defeated Anaheim, 3-0.

Though the Ducks actually led the Bruins all night in shots on goal (finishing with a, 30-29, advantage), they could not beat the B’s defense and Halak.

Anaheim finished the night leading in blocked shots (16-13) and hits (27-22), while Boston led in giveaways (14-12) and face-off win% (65-35).

The Ducks went 0/3 on the skater advantage and the B’s finished Friday 1/4 on the power play.

The Bruins are now on a four-game winning streak as they continue their two-week road trip against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday, then pay a visit to the San Jose Sharks on Monday, before swinging through the Vegas Golden Knights (Feb. 20th) and St. Louis Blues (Feb. 23rd).

Boston’s next home game this month is Feb. 26th against the Sharks.


March 10- Day 150- Kane you sweep the Caps out of California?

Saturdays are a great day in the National Hockey League. Then again, Saturdays in March are pretty great in general even though we’re all going to be watching the sport on ice instead of flipping channels with that sport that started with a peach basket (ATLANTA HAD TWO NHL TEAMS!) and that Canadian guy (HOCKEY, EH!!) in Springfield, Massachusetts (AHL HOCKEY!!!).

Please ignore college basketball for one day, okay? Thanks guys.

So yeah, Saturdays are pretty great. Especially when you wake up and the heat is still running– thank you very much, power company.

While our usual DTFR Game of the Day writer, @connorzkeith, is day-to-day and recovering from minor upper body surgery, I’d like to extend a special “thank you” to @jdettro for filling in yesterday.

Thanks to the second nor’easter in about a week, I was unable to fulfill my scheduled duty of doing Connor’s job for a day as was originally planned. Luckily, the power is back on and I’m here to be the Daily Matchup boss for the day.

In the meantime, looks like New England’s going to get ravaged again by another nor’easter on Monday/Tuesday– so if this experience isn’t for you, don’t worry, my power will probably be knocked out again in a couple days.

Anyway, on with the show.

There’s a boatload of games (11, in fact) on the docket today and only one can be our DTFR Game of the Day, but if you’re trying to catch them all…

The puck drops first in the Hub of Hockey at 1 p.m. between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Boston Bruins nationally on NHL Network (NBCS Chicago and NESN in their respective local markets)– with the Vegas Golden Knights paying a visit to the Buffalo Sabres, Montreal Canadiens at Tampa Bay Lightning (RDS) and Winnipeg Jets at the Philadelphia Flyers all facing off at the same time.

Two hours later, the Arizona Coyotes visit the Colorado Avalanche at 3 p.m. An hour after that, the St. Louis Blues try to climb back into the playoff picture against the Los Angeles Kings on NHL Network at 4 p.m. Meanwhile, the Washington Capitals and San Jose Sharks square off at four in the afternoon as well.

If you’re content with watching NHL Network all day and sitting through the thousands of J.G Wentworth commercials, then you can treat yourself to the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Toronto Maple Leafs at 7 p.m. on NHL Network in the United States (CBC, Sportsnet & TVAS in Canada). If that’s not your thing, perhaps the New York Rangers and Florida Panthers are more of your cup of tea, because they’re also getting underway at seven o’clock.

The New Jersey Devils and Nashville Predators face-off an hour later (8 p.m.) at Bridgestone Arena and the Minnesota Wild wrap up the night in Edmonton against the Oilers at 10 p.m. on CBC and Sportsnet in Canada. All times Eastern.

Here’s a few important ones circled on my calendar:

  • Chicago at Boston: Tommy Wingels will be in the lineup for the first of this home-and-home series weekend matchup against his former team. Also, Boston’s without David Backes, Patrice Bergeron and Charlie McAvoy, so there’s that.
  • Montreal at Tampa: If you like good Atlantic Division matchups, this is usually one of them, even if the Canadiens are in a rebuild.
  • Winnipeg at Philadelphia: The Jets are scary good and the Flyers are physically scary, what’s not to love in the City of Brotherly Love?
  • Arizona at Colorado: You would’ve laughed at me if I mentioned this last season, but the Coyotes are ruining their draft lottery chances by winning a lot lately and the Avalanche might be a wild card team this year, so…
  • Washington at San Jose: Both of these teams have 81 points on the season and are 2nd in their respective divisions (Capitals in the Metropolitan, Sharks in the Pacific). Fight it out!
  • Pittsburgh at Toronto: This could be a playoff matchup if the Leafs make it that far. In any case, it’s a Battle of Mikes behind the bench– Mike Sullivan and Mike Babcock.

Plenty of great match-ups to chose from, but only one can be our Game of the Day, after all. As such, let’s turn our attention to SAP Center, shall we?

Washington Capitals Logo                             Unknown

Saturday afternoon is a great time to tune into the Washington Capitals at San Jose Sharks. Other than the whole “2nd place theme” going on, the Capitals are riding into San Jose on a two-game losing streak (a 4-0 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday and a 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday).

Washington is being outscored by the entire State of California (so far), 7-1. Braden Holtby‘s had no brakes going down the tracks all season and it doesn’t appear his defense is doing anything to help.

After allowing three goals in a little over 25 minutes against the Ducks, Holtby was pulled. Philipp Grubauer then only faced eight shots on goal, turning all of them aside.

An empty net goal was enough to seal their fate at Honda Center, however.

Head coach, Barry Trotz, gave Grubauer a nod of confidence in giving him the start against the re-surging Kings, but the night did not go as planned for the team with the league’s leader in goals– Alex Ovechkin with 40 goals thus far– being held off the scoresheet in both SoCal games.

Grubauer allowed two goals before the Capitals gave up yet another empty netter in the closing minutes at Staples Center.

For all intents and purposes, Ovechkin is two-goals shy of 600 career NHL goals.

If he’s able to get at least two pucks past a San Jose goaltender on Saturday, he’ll become just the 20th player in NHL history to score 600 goals.

Looking to recapture the momentum of their 5-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2018 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series game at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium last week, Washington could use two points in regulation against the on-again-off-again Sharks.

San Jose, in the meantime, enters Saturday night 2-1-0 in the month of March, outscoring opponents 11-6. A 7-2 victory at home against the Chicago Blackhawks yielded itself to an embarrassing 4-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Shark Tank.

Thankfully a 2-0 win on Thursday night lifted the spirits of Brent Burns, Joe Pavelski, Martin Jones and crew against St. Louis.

Trade deadline acquisition, Evander Kane, has fit in pretty well with the Northern California based franchise, amassing 1-4–5 totals in four games since trading in his Buffalo Sabres gear for a new teal-colored sweater.

In fact, Kane has fit in so well, he’s rejuvenated the Pavelski line with Joonas Donskoi on the other wing.

Jones will likely see his seventh straight start, but that’s no worry for the plus-14 goal differential Sharks now that Burns has begun to find his rhythm alongside… Joakim Ryan!?!

The 24-year-old rookie defenseman has three goals and nine assists (12 points) in 58 games played and is a plus-10 this season.

Veterans Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun are carrying their weight on the second defensive pair. Each of them are plus-7’s so far. Meanwhile Brenden Dillon and Dylan DeMelo (try saying that ten times fast) solidfy the bottom pairing on the blue line.

Whereas the Capitals added Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek to their defensive zone leading up to the deadline, San Jose went after more of a spark.

It’s kind of hard to imagine where Joe Thornton will return to the lineup the way San Jose has been playing as of late. Then again, maybe that’s not a bad thing for someone who’s 38-years-old and still looking for his first Stanley Cup.

As long as the top-six forwards (Kane, Pavelski, Donskoi, Tomas Hertl, Logan Couture and Mikkel Boedker) don’t disappear when it counts, the Sharks should be poised to be a nice dark horse as long as they reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs down the stretch.

Despite being cash-strapped and weaker on defense, the Washington Capitals are putting together a solid season. Trotz’s team is offensively driven. It might just be enough to finally match the Pittsburgh Penguins style of constant offense in the Second Round of the postseason– but I’d hate to get ahead of ourselves.

Washington’s led the Metropolitan Division and they’re looking to regain the division lead with a win in any fashion on Saturday and a Penguins loss in regulation to Toronto later that evening.

In any case, whoever ends up in the Stanley Cup Final will have to go through a rigorous Western Conference team.

For San Jose, it could be three long rounds. For the Capitals, it might be any of the California teams they’ve played this week and, well, they’ve got some work to do.

Regardless, the Sharks want to stay hot and remain competitive– firmly in the grasp of a Pacific Division playoff spot instead of a wild card manifestation. Look for San Jose to take a bite out of Washington’s goaltending with their recent scoring prowess and 3-1-0 record through four games of their six game home stand.


The Dallas Stars took yesterday’s DTFR Game of the Day against the Anaheim Ducks by a score of 2-1 at American Airlines Center.

Ryan Getzlaf (10) kicked off the game’s scoring, giving Anaheim a 1-0 lead heading into the first intermission. Corey Perry (27) and Rickard Rakell (29) notched the assists on Getzlaf’s goal at 17:16 of the 1st period.

Devin Shore (9) tied the game, 1-1, at 8:50 of the 3rd period on a power play goal. Tyler Seguin (27) and Jamie Benn (37) recorded the assists on Shore’s goal.

Benn (23) scored the game winning goal on another Stars power play at 14:50. Dallas blueliner, John Klingberg (50) reached the 50-assist plateau and Seguin (28) picked up his 2nd point of the night on Benn’s game-winner with a little more than five minutes remaining in regulation.

Dallas netminder, Kari Lehtonen, picked up the win with 26 saves on 27 shots against for a .963 save percentage. Ducks goaltender, Ryan Miller, allowed two goals on 37 shots for a .946 SV% in the loss.

The Stars were 2/2 on the power play, while Anaheim failed to convert on three man-advantages. Dallas travels to Pittsburgh for a Sunday night matchup at PPG Paints Arena on NBCSN (7:30 p.m. ET).

Anaheim is off until Monday night on home ice at Honda Center against the St. Louis Blues (10 p.m. ET).

Stanley Cup Playoffs: Conference Finals– May 20

Nashville Predators at Anaheim Ducks– Game 5

The Nashville Predators are one win away from continuing to make franchise history and advancing to the 2017 Stanley Cup Final thanks to a 3-1 victory against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on Saturday night. 

Nashville’s Pontus Aberg scored the game winning goal in the 3rd period and Pekka Rinne made 32 saves on 33 shots faced for a .970 save percentage in the win. Anaheim goaltenders, John Gibson and Jonathan Bernier split time in goal, as Gibson left the game after the 1st period with a lower body injury. 

Gibson stopped all 10 shots he faced in the 1st period, while Bernier made 16 saves on 18 shots against for an .889 SV% in the final two periods of play.

The Predators take a 3-2 series lead back home to Bridgestone Arena for Game 6. Nashville can advance to their first Stanley Cup Final in franchise history with a win on Monday night.

After 20 minutes of play, the game was still tied, 0-0. Shots on goal were even, 10-10, and the Ducks were leading in hits, 15-13, as well as giveaways, 4-3. Nashville led in blocked shots, 7-6 and went 0/1 on the power play, while Anaheim went 0/2 on the man advantage in the 1st period.

Chris Wagner (2) kicked off the game’s first goal at 12:46 of the 2nd period to give the Ducks a 1-0 lead. Wagner promptly fired a shot on a rebound off of Rinne’s glove after Brandon Montour had initially threw the puck on goal. Montour (7) and Jakob Silfverberg (5) collected the assists on the goal.

Filip Forsberg took a penalty for hooking Sami Vatanen with six minutes remaining in the 2nd period. Anaheim failed to convert on the man advantage and took a penalty of their own when Josh Manson was sent to the box for cross checking Forsberg shortly after he was released from the sin bin.

Nashville was on the power play for just the second time of the night, trailing 1-0 on the scoreboard until Colin Wilson (2) was at the right place at the right time. With less than a minute remaining in the period (and almost 10 seconds left on the power play), 

P.K. Subban shot the puck from the point, only to have it blocked before it could reach the net. That’s when Colton Sissons freed the loose puck and found Wilson in the slot, who then threw the rubber biscuit on goal and beat Bernier to tie the game 1-1 at 19:19 of the 2nd period.

After 40 minutes of play, the Ducks led 23-21 in shots on goal, 13-11 in blocked shots, 26-19 in hits, 5-2 in takeaways and 10-7 in giveaways, but the scoreboard still read 1-1. Statistically speaking, Nashville was close, but not too close.

Scoring chance for scoring chance was matched by each team through the first 10 minutes of the 3rd period. The Predators caught Anaheim’s defense lagging behind a play as they broke out on a rush, whereby Aberg crashed the net and dove for a rebound. Aberg (1) shot the puck while diving, leaving Bernier with no time to recover and square up to the shot in desperation.

Aberg gave Nashville their first lead of the night, 2-1, at 11:01 of the 3rd period. Forsberg (6) and Mattias Ekholm (8) were credited with the assists. The goal was Aberg’s first career Stanley Cup Playoff goal. He has one career regular season goal that he scored back in November, while also amassing 31 goals for the Milwaukee Admirals (t-3rd in the AHL) this season. 

Bernier was forced to vacate his net in the closing minute of the game for the extra attacker as the Ducks were desperate to defend their home ice advantage. Unfortunately, things did not go as planned, as Nashville’s Austin Watson (2) stumbled upon a loose puck and fired it on goal from his just about the blue line in his own zone.

Watson’s empty net goal was unassisted at 19:12 of the 3rd period and put Nashville up by two goals.

The Predators finished the game 1/2 on the power play, while Anaheim failed to score on all four of their special teams advantages. The physical series has continued to claim more casualties, as Gibson indicated he would be good to go for Game 6, but is officially pending evaluation before Ducks head coach, Randy Carlyle makes a decision.

Anaheim led in shots on goal, 33-29, blocked shots 18-15, hits 32-25 and in giveaways 15-13 at the conclusion of Game 5 on Saturday night.

With the 3-1 victory, the Predators take a 3-2 series lead into Game 6— on home ice— Monday night in Nashville. Puck drop is scheduled for a little after 8 p.m. ET. Fans looking to watch the game can tune to NBCSN in the United States, while Canadians can catch the action on CBC and/or TVA Sports.

Stanley Cup Playoffs: Conference Finals– May 18

Anaheim Ducks at Nashville Predators– Game 4

Corey Perry and the Anaheim Ducks bursted the Nashville Predators undefeated at Bridgestone Arena this postseason bubble with a 3-2 victory in overtime in Game 4 of the 2017 Western Conference Finals.

In short, the series is now a best-of-three scenario as it is now tied, 2-2, heading back to Honda Center in Anaheim for Game 5.

Ducks goaltender, John Gibson made 32 saves on 34 shots against for a .941 save percentage in the win, while Predators goalie, Pekka Rinne stopped 34 out of 37 shots faced for a .919 SV% in the loss.

Rickard Rakell (7) opened the game’s scoring on a slap shot from outside the slot and just over the blue line after catching the Predators in the midst of a line change to give the Ducks a 1-0 lead. Cam Fowler (7) had the sole assist on Rakell’s goal.

After 20 minutes of play, Anaheim led 1-0 on the scoreboard and held Nashville to just two shots on goal in the 1st period. As a result, the Ducks set a franchise record for fewest shots against in a playoff period (2). The previous record was three back in the 1st period of Game 5 of the 2015 Western Conference Finals against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Both Nashville and Anaheim went 0/1 on the power play entering the first intermission.

The Ducks extended their lead to two goals when Nick Ritchie (4) used Roman Josi as a screen against Rinne, then toe dragged the puck out of Josi’s reach to snipe a wrist shot top shelf on the glove side. Nate Thompson (4) and Sami Vatanen (3) were credited with the primary and secondary assists on the goal that made it 2-0 Anaheim.

Officials put away the whistles for the 2nd period, as no penalties were called, which would only provide for more scrutiny later in the game when several calls were made against the Ducks and a non-call that probably should’ve been a penalty against the Predators indirectly led to the game tying goal in the final minute of regulation.

After Nashville had an abysmal two shots on goal (compared to Anaheim’s 14 SOG) in the 1st period, the Predators picked up their offensive efforts in the 2nd period, outshooting the Ducks 18-12. Anaheim still led in total shots on goal, though, 26-20 after 40 minutes of play.

Trailing 2-0 at the start of the 3rd period, the Nashville Predators remained calm, as they had been there before this postseason, having trailed by the same score to the Blackhawks in the First Round before coming back and winning in regulation.

Anaheim could not convert on their final power play opportunity of the night about a quarter of the way into the 3rd period.

After being given two power play opportunities of their own about midway through the 3rd, the Predators had no luck on the man advantage, but had begun racking up the minutes of offensive zone time.

P.K. Subban (2) received a pass from Colin Wilson (2) and fired home a slap shot to cut the lead in half and make it a 2-1 game at 13:33 of the 3rd period. The already rambunctious fans in attendance at Bridgestone Arena only became louder as the Predators begun to smell a possible comeback. Viktor Arvidsson (7) had the secondary assist on Subban’s 2nd goal of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Kevin Bieksa’s high sticking infraction was quickly followed up by Anaheim’s Josh Manson’s slashing minor penalty, resulting in a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:31 with 4:38 remaining in regulation for the Preds.

Anaheim’s penalty killing unit was successful at killing off both minor penalties before Nashville could tie the game.

With less than a minute in regulation, the Predators won an offensive zone face-off and fired a barrage of shots at Gibson.

Ryan Johansen appeared to get away with a cross check to the back of one of Anaheim’s skaters, before contributing on what would end up setting up the final goal of regulation

Filip Forsberg (7) tied the game, 2-2, with his followup in front of the goal, beating Gibson to the puck before he could freeze it. Arvidsson (8) and James Neal (2) collected the helpers on the game tying goal with 34.5 seconds to go in the 3rd period.

Forsberg now has four goals in four games thus far in the series.

Nashville was mounting a comeback riding the momentum of the final 13 and a half minutes of regulation. Shots on goal were even at 31-31 after 60 minutes of play. Nashville led in blocked shots 18-15 and in giveaways 10-9, while Anaheim led in hits 28-27 and takeaways 9-6 heading into the overtime intermission.

Game 4 became just the 26th playoff game of the 2017 postseason to require overtime (two games shy of the record— 28 overtime games— set in 1993).

A little past halfway into the overtime period, Perry (4) fired a shot in the direction of the goal as a hard charging teammate, Thompson, was crashing the goal. Instead of setting up a one-timer, the puck deflected off of Nashville defenseman Subban’s stick and past Rinne to secure the 3-2 victory for the Ducks.

Perry’s game winning goal was unassisted at 10:25 of overtime and tied the series 2-2.

Anaheim finished the game leading in shots on goal 37-34, blocked shots 20-19 and giveaways 12-10, while both teams were even in hits 30-30. Neither team scored a power play goal on Thursday night, as Nashville went 0/5 on the man advantage and Anaheim went 0/2.

Puck drop for Game 5 at Honda Center back in Anaheim is scheduled for a little after 7:15 p.m. ET on Saturday night. Viewers looking to watch the game in the United States can tune to NBC, while Canadian fans can catch the game on CBC and/or TVA Sports.

Stanley Cup Playoffs: Second Round– May 10

For the first and second rounds of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the authors at Down the Frozen River present a rapid recap of all of the night’s action. Tonight’s featured writers are Connor Keith and Nick Lanciani.

Pittsburgh Penguins at Washington Capitals– Game 7

By: Connor Keith

With a two-goal shutout over Washington at the Verizon Center, the Penguins have advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second year in a row.

If statistics told the whole story (they don’t, much to my chagrin), the first period was only an appetizer of what to expect in the remainder of the first Game 7 of the night. Both teams committed one penalty, both penalty kills rose to the task. Pittsburgh blocked four shots, Washington three. The Penguins stole the puck four times and committed three giveaways, the Capitals made three steals and only two giveaways. Pittsburgh fired 10 shots on net, Washington nine – and all were saved by either First Star of the Game Marc-Andre Fleury or Third Star Braden Holtby.

Things were still looking that way until the 8:49 mark of the second period when Second Star Bryan Rust (Jake Guentzel and Sidney Crosby) drew first blood. The play started when Ian Cole intercepted Matt Niskanen’s attempted clear at the far point to keep the puck from crossing the blue line. In the same motion he passed to his captain in the center of the offensive zone, who dished to Guentzel en route to the near side of the slot. Instead of firing on Holtby’s net, he slid a centering pass to his right wing that was more than capable of banging home a wrist shot top-shelf for what proved to be the game-winning goal.

Once the scoreless draw was broken, the pressure was on Fleury for the remaining 31:11 of the game. As he’s proved so many other times this postseason, he was up to the task only a year removed from being relegated to the bench during the Penguins’ Stanley Cup run. In total, he saved all 29 shots he faced for his first shutout of the 2017 postseason. Included within those attempts was a flurry of action late in the second period.

To start, Alex Ovechkin had a beautiful look at leveling the game at one-all from his usual spot in the left face-off circle with 3:53remaining in the frame, but Fleury managed to get his stick and blocker between Ovechkin’s wrister and the back of his net at the last second to prevent the score from changing.

Fleury’s strong play continued 1:29 later when he fought off three separate shots in a wild scrum in his crease, but he was truly confirmed it was his day when Nicklas Backstrom’s offering from along the goal line with 73 seconds remaining before the second intermission not only bounced off his right skate, but also off the far post and out of harm’s way.

If the Pens have learned anything in these playoffs, it’s that sometimes the best defense is a good offense. In the opening five minutes of the third period, Pittsburgh outshot the Capitals seven-to-one. That attack found its reward 4:14 into the frame when Patric Hornqvist (Justin Schultz) sneaked a wrister between Nate Schmidt’s legs and over Holtby’s glove to set the score at 2-0.

While only an insurance goal, it seemed to be the straw that broke the camel’s back for the Verizon Center crowd. The crowds’ mood significantly soured following Hornqvist’s marker as it realized the Capitals would fall for the ninth time in 10 matchups against Pittsburgh in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Pittsburgh will host the Senators for Games 1 and 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals at PPG Paints Arena. That series is scheduled to start on Saturday at 7 p.m. Eastern time. The contest will be televised on NBC in the USA and CBC, Sportsnet and TVA Sports in Canada.

Edmonton Oilers at Anaheim Ducks– Game 7

By: Nick Lanciani

Entering Wednesday night, the Anaheim Ducks had lost four consecutive Game 7s at Honda Center. Entering Thursday morning, they’re moving on to the 2017 Western Conference Finals after defeating the Edmonton Oilers 2-1 on home ice thanks to Nick Ritchie’s early 3rd period game winning goal.

Ducks goalie, John Gibson made 23 saves on 24 shots against in just his 2nd career Game 7 appearance for a .958 save percentage en route to the win, while Edmonton goaltender, Cam Talbot made his first Game 7 appearance, stopping 28 saves on 30 shots faced for a .933 SV% in the loss.

For just the fourth time in franchise history, Anaheim will contend for a spot in the Stanley Cup Final, having appeared in the Western Conference Finals in 2003, 2007 and 2015 before advancing to the 2017 edition of the Western Conference Finals against the Nashville Predators. 

Drake Caggiula (3) kicked off scoring in Game 7 with his unassisted redirection that beat Gibson just 3:31 into the 1st period to give the Oilers a 1-0 lead.

Despite trailing 1-0 after 20 minutes of play, the Ducks were not ready to fold on home ice in yet another Game 7.

Andrew Cogliano (1) tied the game, 1-1, on a backhand shot that slid past a sprawling Cam Talbot after a series of desperation saves almost midway through the 2nd period. Cogliano’s first goal of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs was assisted by Ryan Kesler (6) and Brandon Montour (5) at 8:55 of the 2nd.

With a close battle carrying over into the 3rd period, the Ducks came out flying early in effort to combat the younger, faster skating Edmonton offense that had pestered teams all season long by playing a game that only got better as the minutes passed.

After swapping scoring chances, Anaheim had strong attacking zone possession, firing pucks on Talbot, generating rebounds and odd caroms off the boards behind the goal.

Ritchie (2) collected a loose puck and fired a blocker side shot that clipped Talbot underneath the shoulder and fluttered into the twine to give the Ducks their first lead of the night. Sami Vatanen (1) and Corey Perry (7) collected the helpers on Ritchie’s goal, which made it 2-1 Anaheim, just 3:21 into the 3rd period.

Despite a late surge by the Oilers around two minutes to go in regulation, the Ducks held off on all of Edmonton’s advances with the Oilers having pulled Talbot for an extra skater.

As time expired, Anaheim head coach, Randy Carlyle improved to 2-2 in four career Game 7 appearances, while Edmonton head coach, Todd McLellan fell to 1-3 overall in Game 7s.

With Wednesday night’s 2-1 win, Anaheim has only allowed one goal in their three Game 7 victories in franchise history, having previously defeated Phoenix 3-0 in the 1997 Western Conference Quarterfinals and Calgary 3-0 in the 2006 Western Conference Quarterfinals.

Anaheim plays host to the Nashville on Friday night at Honda Center for Game 1 of the 2017 Western Conference Finals. Puck drop is scheduled for a little after 9 p.m. ET and viewers in the United States can watch the game on NBCSN, while Canadians can tune to CBC or TVA Sports for coverage.

The Ducks lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in their most recent trip to the Western Conference Finals (2015) but advanced to the Stanley Cup Final in both 2003 and 2007. 

The Predators will make their Western Conference Finals debut for the first time in franchise history.

Prince Nets 2, Bishop Chased, Islanders Win 5-3 in Game 1

By: Nick Lanciani

New York Islanders LogoThe New York Islanders defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-3 at Amalie Arena in Game 1 of the Second Round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Wednesday night.

Thomas Greiss made 33 saves on 36 shots against for a .917 SV% in the win, while Ben Bishop made 9 saves on 13 shots faced and was replaced by Andrei Vasilevskiy with a .692 SV% on the night. Vasilevskiy made 8 saves on 8 shots faced in 29:40 TOI in the loss.

Josh Bailey was out of the lineup for the Islanders on Wednesday night after leaving Game 6 versus the Florida Panthers with an upper body injury. With Bailey out, Ryan Strome was inserted into the lineup for New York.

Ondrej Palat opened up the scoring in the first period for Tampa a little over three minutes into the opening frame. Palat’s goal was his 2nd of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs and was assisted by Jonathan Drouin (5) and Vladislav Namestnikov (1) and gave the Lightning a 1-0 lead.

Travis Hamonic answered back in a hurry at 5:44 of the first period with a goal of his own for New York. Hamonic’s first goal of the postseason was assisted by Alan Quine (3) and John Tavares (5) and tied the game at 1 for the Islanders.

Both teams settled into a little rhythm after swapping goals early in the first. Lightning forward, Tyler Johnson received a minor penalty for hooking New York forward, Cal Clutterbuck, at 9:06 of the first period. The Islanders were unable to convert on their first power play opportunity of the night. They subsequently failed on their next power play opportunity when Alex Killorn went to the box for kneeing Calvin de Haan. Actually, Killorn’s penalty was served by Jonathan Drouin, but anyway…

At 17:28 of the first period, Shane Prince potted one at the back of the net. Ryan Strome (2) and Brock Nelson (3) assisted on Prince’s 2nd goal of the postseaon. A little more than two minutes later, Prince, Strome and Nelson connected for another Islanders goal to give New York a 3-1 lead. The goal was Prince’s second goal of the game and his 3rd of the postseason. Strome picked up his 3rd assist of the playoffs and Nelson picked up his 4th assist of the postseason.

After twenty minutes of play, the Islanders were leading 3-1 and led in shots on goal (12-8), faceoff wins (10-9) and takeaways (3-2). The Lightning led in hits (18-12), giveaways (5-3) and blocked shots (6-3). New York went 0/2 on the power play, while Tampa had yet to see time on the power play entering the first intermission.

Marek Zidlicky served a minor penalty for interference 2:21 into the 2nd period, which gave Tampa their first power play of the night. The Lightning were unsuccessful on the man advantage.

Unknown-1Jonathan Marchessault hooked John Tavares at 8:12 of the 2nd period, resulting in an Islanders power play.

47 seconds into the man advantage Tavares made the Lightning pay with his 6th goal of the 2016 playoffs on the power play at 8:59 of the 2nd. Kyle Okposo (6) and Frans Nielsen (2) picked up the primary and secondary assists on the goal that made it 4-1, Islanders.

Tampa Bay head coach, Jon Cooper, replaced his starting goaltender, Ben Bishop, with Andrei Vasilevskiy after the Tavares power play goal.

Ryan Callahan took a holding penalty with under three minutes left in the second period. New York was unable to convert on the ensuing power play. After forty minutes of play, the Islanders had a commanding 4-1 lead over the Lightning, despite trailing in shots on goal (19-17), hits (22-19) and blocked shots (8-6).

Nikita Kucherov kicked things off in the third period for the Lightning with his 6th goal of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at 7:41 of the period. Kucherov’s goal was assisted by Mathieu Carle (2) and Victor Hedman (2) and cut the Islanders lead to two.

The final penalty of the night was called at 15:20 of the 3rd period, when Casey Cizikas sent the puck over the glass for a delay of game minor. Eight seconds after the conclusion of the power play, Tampa scored to trail by one. The goal was Valtteri Filppula’s first of the playoffs and was assisted by Killorn (3) and Jason Garrison (3) at 17:28 of the period.

With 1:39 to go in regulation, Vasilevskiy deserted the net for an extra attacker, but it was to no avail as Cal Clutterbuck notched one in the empty net at 19:05 of the third. Cizikas (1) and de Haan (2) picked up the assists on Clutterbuck’s first goal of the postseason and ensured that the Islanders would pick up the 5-3 victory in Game 1.

Tampa led in shots on goal (36-22), hits (33-29) and giveaways (13-7) at the end of the game, while New York led in faceoff wins (32-21), takeaways (4-2) and blocked shots (15-10). The Islanders were 1/4 on the power play on the night while the Lightning were 0/2.

The Isles won two out of the three regular season games against the Bolts and took Game 1 convincingly, despite being outworked in the final twenty minutes. More rest proved to be sloppy for the Lightning out of the gate, however more work caught up to New York by the end of sixty minutes of play.

For the first time since 1983 two playoffs occurred on the same day, with the Tampa Bay vs. New York game opening the Second Round on Wednesday night, while the Anaheim Ducks and the Nashville Predators closed out their First Round series in Game 7 at the Honda Center.

The Lightning play host to the Islanders once again for Game 2 on Saturday afternoon at 3:00 PM EST on home ice at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. The game can be seen on NBC in the United States and on Sportsnet and TVA Sports in Canada. The Islanders lead the series 1-0 with their 5-3 victory on Wednesday night.

Predators Force First Game 7 in Franchise History

By: Nick Lanciani

UnknownPekka Rinne and the Nashville Predators forced a Game 7 with a 3-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night at Bridgestone Arena. Rinne stopped 26 shots on 27 shots faced for a .963 SV% en route to the win, while Frederik Andersen made 23 saves on 25 shots against for a .920 SV% in the Anaheim loss.

Entering Monday night, Nashville had a 0-5 record in all-time Game 6 situations where they were facing elimination. Craig Smith returned to the lineup for the Predators, but not without a price in the eyes of the hockey gods, as Cody Bass left the game after the first period and did not return for the night with an injury.

After a scoreless first period, in which the Predators and the Ducks swapped power play opportunities only three minutes into the game, Nashville was leading 8-7 in shots on goal. The Preds were also leading in hits (12-11), giveaways (3-1), takeaways (3-2) and blocked shots (5-2), while Anaheim led in faceoff wins (10-7) after twenty minutes of play.

Mattias Ekholm scored the game’s first goal at 8:10 of the second period to give Nashville a 1-0 lead. The goal was Ekholm’s 2nd of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs and was assisted by Calle Jarnkrok (1) and Ryan Ellis (2). Almost ten minutes later, James Neal put the Predators up by two with his 2nd goal of the series, assisted by Ryan Johansen (2) at 17:45 of the period.

Ekholm then served a minor penalty for holding Anaheim skater, Hampus Lindholm, at 19:17 of the 2nd. The Ducks forced their way into the front of the net during the ensuing power play opportunity and Ryan Kesler picked up a rebound before shoving it home for his 3rd goal of the postseason, thereby cutting Nashville’s lead in half on the man advantage. Kesler’s goal was assisted by Corey Perry (4) and Cam Fowler (2) at 19:46 of the 2nd period.

After forty minutes of play, the Predators led 2-1 on the scoreboard and 20-18 in shots on goal. Nashville also led in giveaways (3-2) and blocked shots (12-6), while the Ducks led in hits (23-20) and faceoff wins (19-17). Both teams had 4 takeaways after two frames and Anaheim was 1/2 on the power play, while Nashville was 0/1.

UnknownThe third period saw a 9-6 shots on goal advantage in favor of Anaheim, but the Ducks last ditched effort was matched by the cool, calm and collected goaltending by Rinne.

With ten seconds left in regulation, Shea Weber fired the puck down the frozen river and into the empty net that had been vacated by Andersen with about 90 seconds to go in the period. Weber’s goal, his 2nd of the postseason, gave he Predators a 3-1 lead and was his 12th career playoff goal. As well, James Neal picked up an assist on the empty net goal.

Weber is now one goal shy of tying David Legwand’s franchise record of 13 career playoff goals.

Nashville finished the night leading in hits (30-25), giveaways (8-5) and blocked shots (21-11), while Anaheim finished the night leading in faceoff wins (28-26) and takeaways (5-4). With the win, the Predators tied the series at 3-3, thereby forcing a Game 7 on Wednesday night at 10:00 PM EST at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. It will be the first Game 7 in franchise history for the Predators and can be viewed on NBCSN in the United States and on Sportsnet and TVA Sports in Canada.

In rare NHL form, Round Two of the Stanley Cup Playoffs kicks off on Wednesday night before Round One will have even concluded, as the Tampa Bay Lightning square off with the New York Islanders at Amalie Arena.

Ducks Rout Predators 4-1, Series Tied 2-2

By: Nick Lanciani

UnknownThe Anaheim Ducks defeated the Nashville Predators 4-1 on road ice at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee on Thursday night. Frederik Andersen made 30 saves on 31 shots faced for a .968 SV% in the victory, while Pekka Rinner made 21 saves on 25 shots against for a .840 SV% in the loss.

Sixty-two seconds into the first period, Ryan Getzlaf sent one behind Rinne to give Anaheim a 1-0 lead. Getzlaf’s 2nd goal of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs was assisted by David Perron (1) and Kevin Bieksa (1) and was just the Ducks 2nd shot of the night.

Shea Weber was guilty of the game’s first penalty when he sent the puck over the glass for a delay of game minor penalty at 7:41 of the first period. The Ducks were unable to convert on the man advantage and David Perron was called for a tripping minor himself at 8:15 of the period. Nashville was unable to capitalize on their short power play while Perron was still in box and failed to convert on another power play before the end of the 1st when Anaheim defenseman, Cam Fowler was sent to the box for delay of game.

After twenty minutes of play, both teams had seven shots on goal and the Ducks were leading 1-0 on the scoreboard as well as in hits (14-13), takeaways (2-1) and blocked shots (11-0). The Predators were leading in faceoff wins (11-6) and giveaways (3-0).

Twenty-six seconds into the second period, Ryan Garbutt tripped up Predators star, Filip Forsberg, giving Nashville a power play. Nashville was unable to utilize the man advantage to their advantage.

UnknownMike Fisher tied the game at 1 at 11:26 of the 2nd period with his goal of the series, assisted by Colin Wilson (2) and Shea Weber (1).

Colton Sissons took a trip to the sin bin at 12:45 of the second period for interference, but was followed up by David Perron canceling Anaheim’s power play a mere five seconds later after high sticking Fisher. Simon Despres and Viktor Arvidsson took a tripping call and an unsportsmanlike minor respectively at 15:55 of the 2nd period.

Nate Thompson received a pass from Rickard Rakell and scored the eventual game winning goal at 17:04 of the second period. Sami Vatanen was credited with the secondary assist. Almost two minutes later, Jamie McGinn made it 3-1 Anaheim with a goal that was assisted by Chris Stewart.

At the end of two periods the Ducks led the Predators 3-1 on the scoreboard and trailed 23-19 in shots on goal.

After failing to capitalize on two power play opportunities in the first half of the third period, Nashville found themselves behind the eight ball if there was any hope for a comeback on home ice in Game 4. At 16:52 of the third period, Andrew Cogliano put the game away for the Ducks with a goal that put Anaheim ahead 4-1. Cogliano’s goal— his 2nd of the playoffs— was assisted by Jakob Silfverberg.

The Ducks were victorious after sixty minutes of play, despite trailing in many statistics. The Predators lost 4-1, but led in shots on goal (31-25), hits (41-27), faceoff wins (31-22) and giveaways (8-3) in Game 4, while Anaheim led in takeaways (7-3) and blocked shots (25-12). Neither team was successful on the power play, with the Ducks having gone 0/5 and the Preds having gone 0/6 on Thursday night.

With the series now tied 2-2, the rest of the best-of-7 series now essentially shifts to a best two-out-of-three scenario. Game 5 is scheduled for Saturday at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California with more information about the time of puck drop and what channel it will be broadcasted on to be provided by the NHL.