Nick, Cap’n and Pete assess the Detroit Red Wings hiring of Steve Yzerman as General Manager and Executive Vice President, as well as recap the trio of Game 7s in the First Round and preview the Second Round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
For the first time since the 2004 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Toronto Maple Leafs can advance to another round of postseason play after their, 2-1, victory on road ice against the Boston Bruins.
The TD Garden crowd was silenced Friday night after the Leafs took the, 3-2, series lead with them out the “exit” doors.
Frederik Andersen (3-2-0 record, 2.62 goals against average, .925 save percentage in five games played this postseason) made 28 saves on 29 shots against for a .966 SV% in the win for Toronto.
Bruins goaltender, Tuukka Rask (2-3-0, 2.65 GAA, .922 SV% in five games played this postseason) stopped 25 out of 27 shots faced (.926 SV%) in the loss.
Connor Clifton (upper body) and Kevan Miller (lower body) remain out of the lineup for the Bruins due to injury, while Sean Kuraly (fractured right hand) was back in action for Boston in Game 5 after missing the last 12 games.
B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, kept his lines the same otherwise, with Joakim Nordstrom joining Paul Carey, Steven Kampfer, Jakub Zboril, Dan Vladar and Karson Kuhlman as Boston’s healthy scratches on Friday.
The first period started with a heavy defensive presence from both clubs as the players trailed up and down the ice.
Toronto dominated the first half of the period, but missed wide of the net more than a few times before Boston started to kick into gear in the latter end of the opening frame.
Late in the period, Zach Hyman tripped up Charlie McAvoy and sent the Bruins on their first power play of the night at 17:00 of the first period. The B’s did not convert on the resulting skater advantage.
After one period of play, the score was tied, 0-0, while Toronto led in shots on goal, 7-6. The Maple Leafs also led in takeaways (10-5) and face-off win percentage (64-36), while the Bruins led in blocked shots (8-1), giveaways (5-2) and hits (14-11).
Entering the first intermission, the Leafs had yet to see any time on the power play and Boston was 0/1.
Early in the second period, Patrick Marleau hooked Krejci and was assessed a minor penalty at 4:13.
The Bruins didn’t convert on the ensuing power play, but had another chance on the skater advantage when Mitch Marner sent the puck over the glass for the automatic delay of game penalty at 8:24 of the second period.
Once again, Boston failed to capitalize on the power play for the third time of the night.
There was no scoring in the second period, as the second intermission commenced with the score still tied, 0-0.
Through 40 minutes of play, Toronto maintained the advantage in shots on goal (16-15) and takeaways (14-5), while the B’s led in blocked shots (10-2), giveaways (8-4) and face-off win% (57-43).
Both teams had 21 hits aside through two periods, while the Maple Leafs had yet to see any time on the skater advantage.
Boston was 0/3 on the power play entering the third period.
Almost midway through the third period, the Bruins were caught with too many skaters on the ice and Boston was charged with a bench minor. Marcus Johansson served the penalty at 7:14 of the third period.
Despite killing off the infraction, the B’s were caught up behind the pace of play and lagging in the aftereffects of the vulnerable minute.
That’s when Toronto pounced.
Jake Muzzin sent a pass across the ice to Matthews (4) for the one-timer past Rask at 11:33 of the third period to give the Leafs the lead, 1-0.
Muzzin (2) and Kapanen (1) tallied the assists on the game’s first goal.
The Bruins used their coach’s challenge arguing that Hyman had interfered with Rask in the crease prior to the shot on goal, thereby inhibiting Rask’s ability to play the puck and make a save across the crease.
After review, had the call on the ice been reversed, it likely would’ve been the softest goaltender interference call in the history of the coach’s challenge.
Regular season? You might get that one.
In the playoffs? Not a chance. The absolute right call has to be made and it was made.
As a result of losing the challenge, Boston lost their timeout. That would’ve come in handy later…
A little over two minutes later, the Maple Leafs caught the Bruins on a rush the other way and waltzed into the attacking zone with the chance to convert on another one-timer– and convert they did.
Kapanen (1) scored his first goal of the postseason and perhaps the most important goal of the series so far at 13:45 of the third period to give Toronto the two-goal lead.
Toronto scored two goals in a span of 2:12 and took a stronghold on the eventual outcome.
With about 2:49 remaining in regulation, the Bruins pulled their goaltender for an extra attacker.
Boston continued to hold onto the puck for too long trying to set up the “perfect” play, but caught a break after entering the zone and setting up Krejci (2) for a one-timer to cut the lead in half and make it a, 2-1, game.
After sending the goal through video review to confirm that the Bruins had not entered the zone offside, Boston pulled Rask again for an extra skater with about 30 seconds left in regulation.
Hyman iced the puck for the Leads with 13.2 seconds to go.
Boston couldn’t convert.
Toronto iced the puck again with 1.2 seconds remaining.
Boston couldn’t get a next to impossible shot into the back of the twine as time expired.
At the sound of the final horn, Toronto had won, 2-1, and finished the night trailing in shots on goal, 29-27.
The B’s finished Friday night with the advantage in blocked shots (13-9), giveaways (13-5), hits (29-26) and face-off win% (65-36), while both clubs failed to record a power play goal.
Toronto went 0/1 on the skater advantage and Boston went 0/3.
The Maple Leafs enter Game 6 back on home ice at Scotiabank Arena on Sunday with the chance to eliminate the Bruins and punch their ticket to the Second Round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Puck drop is set for 3 p.m. ET and viewers in the United States can tune in on NBC. Canadian residents can catch the action on CBC, SN or TVAS.
Some nights it’s a 60-minute effort. Other nights all of the scoring occurs in the second period, en route to a, 3-2, victory by the Toronto Maple Leafs over the Boston Bruins at Scotiabank Arena in Game 3 of their 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round matchup.
Oh and Toronto still produced a 60-minute effort.
Frederik Andersen (2-1-0 record, 2.33 goals against average, .947 save percentage in three games played this postseason) made 34 saves on 36 shots faced (.944 SV%) in the win for Toronto.
Bruins goaltender, Tuukka Rask (1-2-0, 2.36 GAA, .928 SV% in three games played this postseason) stopped 31 out of 34 shots faced (.912 SV%) in the loss.
The Maple Leafs hold a, 2-1, series lead for the third time in the last 15 years. Toronto led the Ottawa Senators, 2-1, in the 2004 Eastern Conference Quaterfinals and the Washington Capitals, 2-1, in the 2017 First Round.
Toronto’s Nazem Kadri scored the only goal for the Leafs in Game 2, but was suspended for the remainder of the First Round for cross-checking Jake DeBrusk in the head.
Heading into Game 3 on Monday, Bruce Cassidy indicated Torey Krug and DeBrusk would be good to go in Toronto (despite both players looking as though they would need to remain in concussion protocol– Krug left Saturday night’s action and DeBrusk looked “off” according to most beat reporters after the game).
As a result, Kampfer made his Stanley Cup Playoff debut for the first time after spending parts of seven seasons in the NHL. Originally drafted 93rd overall in the 2007 NHL Draft by the Anaheim Ducks, Kampfer was previously acquired by the Bruins and made his NHL debut in the 2010-11 season.
After suiting up in 10 games for Boston in 2011-12, he was traded to the Minnesota Wild where he went on to play in 13 games before resurfacing at the NHL level with the Florida Panthers in the 2014-15 season.
In 2016-17, Kampfer was traded from the Panthers to the New York Rangers, where he spent time as a depth defender until Sept. 11, 2018, when he was reacquired by the B’s in the Adam McQuaid trade.
The 30-year-old blue liner has 13-19–32 totals in 201 career regular season games in the NHL.
Moore participated in morning skate in a full-contact jersey, but was not ready to return to game action.
With Johansson still out of the lineup, Heinen suited up to the left of Coyle with David Backes on the right wing of the third line and Joakim Nordstrom, Noel Acciari and Chris Wagner comprising of the fourth line trio.
Matt Grzelcyk played alongside Kampfer on the third pairing.
Late in the first period, Ron Hainsey was penalized for interference at 16:36, resulting in the first power play of the game for Boston.
The Bruins did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage and took a penalty of their own at 19:21 of the first period, as McAvoy was assessed a holding the stick infraction against Frederik Gauthier.
Toronto failed to capitalize on their first power play opportunity.
Entering the first intermission, the score remained tied, 0-0, as Boston led in shots on goal, 15-10.
The B’s also held the advantage in blocked shots (8-4), takeaways (2-1) and giveaways (4-2), while the Maple Leafs led in hits (19-16) and face-off win percentage (56-44).
Both clubs were 0/1 on the power play heading into the second period.
Early in the middle frame, the Leafs fired a shot on goal that squeaked through Rask and was left sitting in the crease behind the Boston goaltender, while Krug was out of position on defense.
Trevor Moore (1) pounced on the loose puck and picked up his first career Stanley Cup Playoff goal to give Toronto the lead, 1-0, at 2:38 of the second period.
Despite allowing the game’s first goal, the Bruins rallied and tied the game 52 seconds later after working the puck down low, then back into the slot for DeBrusk to keep the play alive and generate a rebound.
Upon finding the puck in the low slot, Krejci (1) pocketed it into the twine at 3:30 of the second period.
DeBrusk (1) and Kuhlman (1) had the assists on the goal and the game was tied, 1-1. With the secondary assist on the goal, Kuhlman picked up the first career point in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Shortly thereafter, while attempting to clearJohn Tavares from the slot, McAvoy checked the Maple Leafs forward into his own goaltender– leaving Rask slow to get up, but the Bruins netminder did not come out of the game.
Right at the midpoint of the period, Backes caught Kasperi Kapanen with a high-stick and served a two-minute minor in the penalty box at 10:00 of the second period.
Toronto’s ensuing power play only needed 12 seconds to convert on the skater advantage as the Maple Leafs won the ensuing offensive zone face-off, sent the puck around the boards and quickly back through the slot from Andreas Johnsson to Auston Matthews (1) for the power play goal.
Johnsson (1) and Mitch Marner (1) were credited with the assists on the goal at 10:12 and the Leafs led, 2-1.
Moments later, Grzelcyk cut a rut to the sin bin for hooking Patrick Marleau at 15:59.
Late on the resulting power play, Johnsson (1) sent a backhanded shot over Rask’s glove side after sneaking in on a loose puck while Kampfer left his post as the sole defender responsible for the front of Boston’s net while his partner was off fighting for the puck in the corner.
Johnsson’s power play goal made it, 3-1, Toronto at 17:12 and was assisted by Tavares (2) and Matthews (1).
Less than a minute later, Jake Muzzin was penalized for holding Heinen at 17:45 and the Bruins went on the power play.
Boston was sure to convert on the resulting skater advantage, thanks to Coyle’s (2) effort on a rebound– with Andersen down and out of position– in the lot slot to cut the Maple Leafs lead to one-goal.
Heinen (1) and Grzelcyk (2) notched the assists on Coyle’s power play goal– his second goal in two games– at 19:22 of the second period.
Toronto led, 3-2, entering the second intermission as both teams were even in shots on goal, 26-26.
The Maple Leafs held the advantage in shots on goal in the second period alone (16-11), as well as the lead in hits (34-27) and face-off win% (60-40) through two periods of action.
After 40 minutes of play, Boston led in blocked shots (10-6) and giveaways (6-5), while both teams had three takeaways aside.
The Leafs were 2/3 on the power play and the B’s were 1/2 on the skater advantage heading into the final frame of regulation.
There were no goals scored in the third period, but Nikita Zaitsev sent the puck over the glass and out of play for an automatic delay of game penalty at 5:01.
Boston did not convert on the ensuing power play.
With about 90 seconds remaining in regulation, Cassidy pulled his goaltender for the extra attacker and even used his only timeout after a stoppage with 65 seconds remaining on the clock.
The Bruins were not able to utilize their skater advantage and tie the game as Toronto ate up every chance Boston put forward and time expired in the action.
At the sound of the final horn on Monday, the Maple Leafs had won, 3-2, and finished the night leading in blocked shots (16-14), hits (42-33) and face-off win% (56-44). Toronto went 2/3 on the power play.
Across the sheet of ice at Scotiabank Arena, the Bruins wrapped up Monday night’s action leading in shots on goal (36-34) and giveaways (14-11) and finished 1/3 on the power play.
Toronto leads the series, 2-1, heading into Game 4 at home on Wednesday, while Boston fell to 0-2-0 when trailing after two periods this postseason.
Puck drop on Wednesday is scheduled for a little after 7:00 p.m. ET and viewers in the United States can tune into the action on NBCSN, while Canadian viewers can tune to CBC or TVAS.
Mitch Marner had a pair of goals in the Toronto Maple Leafs’, 4-1, victory over the Boston Bruins at TD Garden in Game 1 of their 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round matchup on Thursday.
Frederik Andersen (1-0-0 record, 1.00 goals against average, .974 save percentage in one game played this postseason) made 37 saves on 38 shots against in the win for Maple Leafs.
Bruins goaltender, Tuukka Rask (0-1-0, 3.05 GAA, .906 SV% in one GP this postseason) stopped 29 out of 32 shots faced in the loss.
Toronto leads the series, 1-0, and is 1-0 this postseason, while Boston is 0-1.
The two clubs are meeting in the playoffs for the 3rd time since 2013, Bruins prevailing in seven games in 2013 and 2018 over the Leafs.
Boston re-assigned Anton Blidh, Trent Frederic, Jeremy Lauzon and Zach Senyshyn to the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Sunday ahead of their 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round matchup after utilizing the group of forwards to rest their veteran players for the series against the Leafs.
Bruce Cassidy revealed his lines for the B’s ahead of Thursday’s game, leaving Karson Kuhlman on the second line right wing with Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci, while moving Danton Heinen to the third line with Marcus Johansson and Charlie Coyle.
Steven Kampfer was the only defender that was a healthy scratch for the B’s.
Midway through the opening frame, William Nylander caught Clifton with a high-stick and was assessed a two-minute minor penalty at 8:55 of the first period.
Less than a minute into the ensuing power play, Boston worked the puck around the offensive zone as Brad Marchand connected with Patrice Bergeron (1) to give the Bruins the lead, 1-0, at 9:31 of the first period.
Marchand (1) and Torey Krug (1) collected the assists on Bergeron’s power play goal as Marchand faked a shot and slid a pass across the ice to a wide-open Bergeron, forcing Andersen to play catch up.
With the goal, the current longest-tenured alternate captain in the NHL (Bergeron) now has four goals and eight assists (12 points) in his last eight playoff games against Toronto.
Late in the period, Marner (1) tied the game, 1-1, as the Maple Leafs pounced on an erratic face-off in the attacking zone, first tipping the puck off the near post, then banking it off a body in front of the Bruins net and into the twine.
After 20 minutes of play, the score was tied, 1-1, with the Maple Leafs leading in shots on goal (10-8), as well as takeaways (7-5), giveaways (6-5), hits (17-14) and face-off win percentage (58-42).
Boston led in blocked shots (4-2) and was 1/1 on the power play entering the first intermission. Toronto had yet to see any time on the skater advantage heading into the second period.
Early in the middle frame, Kasperi Kapanen caught DeBrusk with a high-stick and took a trip to the penalty box with a minor penalty at 2:16 of the second period.
The B’s failed to convert on the resulting skater advantage and allowed a shorthanded breakaway that nearly resulted in a goal for Marner.
Instead, DeBrusk tripped Marner as the Leafs winger reached the crease and rewarded Marner with a penalty shot at 2:47.
Marner (2) scored his second goal of the game– a shorthanded penalty shot goal– after getting Rask to commit to the poke check, pulling the puck around the Boston netminder and pocketing it into the mostly open twine.
No. 16 in blue-and-white became just the 5th player in NHL history to score a shorthanded penalty shot goal in the playoffs and the first Toronto player to convert on the penalty shot since Mats Sundin did so against the Buffalo Sabres in Game 4 of the 1999 Eastern Conference Final on May 29, 1999.
Late in the period, Nylander (1) scored off the paddle of Rask’s stick and through the Bruins goaltender’s five-hole after receiving a stretch pass from Nazem Kadri and breaking into the zone all alone.
Kadri (1) and Patrick Marleau (1) notched the assists on Nylander’s goal and the Maple Leafs led, 3-1, at 18:25.
Through two periods of play, Toronto led, 3-1, on the scoreboard and in blocked shots (8-7), takeaways (12-6), giveaways (9-5) and hits (25-21).
Boston led in shots on goal (29-24– including a, 21-14, advantage in the second period alone) and face-off win% (52-48) entering the third period.
The B’s were also 1/2 on the power play after 40 minutes of action.
Midway through the final frame, Zdeno Chara was penalized for interference against Marleau to the displeasure of the Boston crowd– despite the obvious infraction– at 11:45 of the third period.
Toronto did not convert on their only power play opportunity of the night.
With 2:37 remaining in regulation, Cassidy pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker. About a minute later, after a stoppage in play, Cassidy used his timeout to draw up a plan to score at least one goal and cut into Toronto’s two-goal lead.
Things didn’t go as planned for the Bruins.
After winning a face-off in the neutral zone, Boston bungled a pass that was quickly intercepted by Tavares (1) as the Leafs center went on to bury the puck in the empty goal frame, icing the win, 4-1, for Toronto at 18:41 of the third period.
Tavares’ first postseason goal as a Maple Leaf was unassisted.
At the final horn, Toronto took the, 1-0, series lead with a, 4-1, victory on road ice, despite finishing the night trailing in shots on goal, 38-33.
The Maple Leafs finished Thursday night leading in blocked shots (14-11), giveaways (12-7) and hits (33-31), while both teams were 50-50 in face-off win%.
Boston went 1/2 on the power play and Toronto went 0/1 on the skater advantage.
In their four regular season meetings, the team that scored the game’s first goal went on to win all four games. On Thursday, the team that scored the game’s first goal lost.
Welcome to the postseason. It’s a whole new [hockey] game.
Game 2 is Saturday night at TD Garden with puck drop expected shortly after 8 p.m. ET. Viewers can tune into NBC, CBC or TVAS.
*cue Andy Williams*
It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
The Stanley Cup Playoffs have returned and all is right with the world (unless your team missed the postseason).
In the past, we here at Down the Frozen River have covered every game of every series.
This year, we’re mixing it up a bit– starting with this preview of every First Round series in the Eastern Conference, continuing with a followup preview of every First Round series in the Western Conference and as much analysis as possible on the DTFR Podcast in addition to the blog.
Ch-ch-ch-changes are inevitable and yours truly cannot cover all 16 teams in the postseason alone.
A1 Tampa Bay Lightning (62-14-6, 128 points) vs EWC2 Columbus Blue Jackets (47-31-4, 98 points)
The Tampa Bay Lightning clinched the President’s Trophy (for the first time in franchise history) by mid-March and finished with the 4th most points in a season in NHL history, while star forward, Nikita Kucherov, amassed 128 points (the most by a Russian born player in a season) and Andrei Vasilevskiy (39-10-4 record, 2.40 goals against average, .925 save percentage in 53 games played) turned in a Vezina Trophy worthy performance in the crease.
Oh yeah and Steven Stamkos had 45 goals.
The Bolts also tied the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings for most wins in a regular season (62).
Backup goaltender, Louis Domingue (21-5-0, 2.88 GAA, .908 SV% in 26 GP) posted respectable numbers as well in the Lightning’s thunderous run through the season.
Tampa has home ice throughout the playoffs and kicks things off with a First Round matchup against the Columbus Blue Jackets, who punched their ticket to the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a, 3-2, shootout victory over the New York Rangers last Friday– eliminating the Montreal Canadiens from postseason contention in the process.
Duchene and Dzingel quickly fit in to their respective top-nine roles, while McQuaid struggled to find a suitor on the blue line at first in his return to the organization that originally drafted him 55th overall in the 2005 NHL Draft before he was traded to the Boston Bruins and broke into the league with the B’s in 2009-10.
Kinkaid was added solely for goaltending depth as pending-unrestricted free agent, Sergei Bobrovsky (37-24-1, 2.58 GAA, .913 SV% in 62 GP) led the league with nine shutouts on the season.
Blue Jackets backup goaltender, Joonas Korpisalo (10-7-3, 2.95 GAA, .897 SV% in 27 GP) hit some rough patches at times, but found a way to dig his team out from the backend when necessary.
In the grand scheme of things, the Bolts won the season series, 3-0-0, and outscored Columbus, 17-3, in that span.
While many consider Columbus as a Stanley Cup Playoffs pushover– given the franchise has never won a series– Blue Jackets head coach, John Tortorella always poses a tough challenge that can wear down his opponent.
Lightning head coach, Jon Cooper, earns his own merit in his ability to keep his players cool, calm, collected and always in comeback mode, but it’s not unfathomable to see the Blue Jackets pestering Tampa about as much– if not more than– Columbus did to Washington in last season’s First Round matchup.
After all, the Blue Jackets did lead that series, 2-0.
That said, this is Tampa’s year for a Cup run or bust. The Lightning should win the series in six games.
Regular season outcomes:
5-1 TBL at Nationwide Arena on Feb. 18th, 4-0 TBL at Amalie Arena on Jan. 8th, 8-2 TBL at Amalie Arena on Oct. 13th
4/10- Game 1 CBJ @ TBL 7 PM ET on USA , SN360, TVAS
4/12- Game 2 CBJ @ TBL 7 PM ET on CNBC, SN360, TVAS
4/14- Game 3 TBL @ CBJ 7 PM ET on NBCSN, SN360, TVAS
4/16- Game 4 TBL @ CBJ 7 PM ET on CNBC, SN360, TVAS
4/19- Game 5 CBJ @ TBL*
4/21- Game 6 TBL @ CBJ*
4/23- Game 7 CBJ @ TBL*
A2 Boston Bruins (49-24-9, 107 points) vs A3 Toronto Maple Leafs (46-28-8, 100 points)
For the second season in a row, the Boston Bruins are hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs in the First Round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Despite being without Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara at one point this season, the Bruins rallied from their 12th defenseman on up through the rest of the lineup to finish one win shy of consecutive 50-win seasons in Bruce Cassidy‘s third season (second full season) as head coach.
Speaking of Bergeron, however, the perfect two-way center finished the season with a career-high in points (79) and matched his career-high in goals (32) while battling injury early in the season. Bergeron’s 32-47–79 totals came in just 65 games. That’s only one more game played than last season for No. 37 in black-and-gold.
Meanwhile, his linemates, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak each reached milestones of their own. Marchand reached the 100-point plateau this season and became the first Bruin to do so since Joe Thornton recorded 101 points in 2002-03.
The “Little Ball of Hate” also set a career-high in assists (64) and was not suspended in 79 games played this season (he was rested for the final two games in the regular season and missed one game due to injury).
Pastrnak set a career-high in goals (38) and points (81) despite missing time due to a left thumb injury and being limited to 66 games played.
The B’s were led in net this season by Tuukka Rask (27-13-5, 2.48 GAA, .912 SV% in 46 GP) and Jaroslav Halak (22-11-4, 2.34 GAA, .922 SV% in 40 GP) in a 1A/1B scenario. For the first time since the 1989-90 season, Boston had two goaltenders with 20-plus wins.
Back north in Toronto, the Maple Leafs added a formidable center in John Tavares in free agency and his presence was immediate, notching career-highs in goals (47 ) and points (88) in 82 games.
Auston Matthews (37-36–73 totals in 68 games) and Mitch Marner (26-68–94 totals in 82 games) continued to their thing as the $11.634 million man (starting next season) and the soon to be at least $10.000 million
boy wonder man.
Maple Leafs General Manager, Kyle Dubas, added Jake Muzzin in January in a trade with the Los Angeles Kings in effort to shore up his blue line, however, questions remain as to how head coach, Mike Babcock will limit time on ice for veterans, like Ron Hainsey, and mix in more opportunities for Morgan Rielly (20-52–72 totals in 82 games) in his breakout season.
Boston won the season series, 3-1-0, outscoring Toronto, 16-10, in that span.
Some experts are picking the Bruins in five games. They also said similar things in 2013 and 2018. This series is going six games (at least), with Boston overcoming the Maple Leafs defense in Game 7, once again.
To their credit, Toronto always makes things interesting in what’s likely to be the most unpredictable First Round matchup.
Regular season outcomes:
3-2 BOS at Scotiabank Arena on Jan. 12th, 6-3 BOS at TD Garden on Dec. 8th, 4-2 TOR at Scotiabank Arena on Nov. 26th, 5-1 BOS at TD Garden on Nov. 10th
4/11- Game 1 TOR @ BOS 7 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS
4/13- Game 2 TOR @ BOS 8 PM ET on NBC, CBC, TVAS
4/15- Game 3 BOS @ TOR 7 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, TVAS
4/17- Game 4 BOS @ TOR 7 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, TVAS
4/19- Game 5 TOR @ BOS*
4/21- Game 6 BOS @ TOR*
4/23- Game 7 TOR @ BOS*
M1 Washington Capitals (48-26-8, 104 points) vs EWC1 Carolina Hurricanes (46-29-7, 99 points)
Just as everyone expected, the Washington Capitals led the Metropolitan Division with 104 points after Barry Trotz left for the head coaching job on Long Island. Did I mention the Capitals are the defending Stanley Cup champions?
Anyway, Alex Ovechkin scored 51 goals and collected his 8th career Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy as a result– though Edmonton Oilers forward, Leon Draisaitl, was hot on his tail with 50 goals this season.
After the New York Islanders led the Metropolitan Division for what seemed like forever, it’s important to note the Metro was actually anybody’s game from puck drop in October. Here’s the thing, the Carolina Hurricanes were near the top of the division– they’ve been surging all season.
Speaking of surging, Carolina introduced their “Storm Surge” post-win celebration and the Caniacs loved it.
For those of you who haven’t been paying attention to the club in Raleigh, Brett Pesce is good. Also, Sebastian Aho (30-53–83 totals in 82 GP), Andrei Svechnikov (20-17–37 totals in 82 GP) and Teuvo Teravainen (21-55–76 totals in 82 games)– they’re pretty good too.
Washington was led by Braden Holtby (32-19-5, 2.82 GAA, .911 SV% in 59 GP) between the pipes this season and is comforted to know Pheonix Copley (16-7-3, 2.90 GAA, .905 SV% in 27 GP) is quite capable of playing this season’s role of Philipp Grubauer (since traded to the Colorado Avalanche after last season’s Cup celebrations).
The Canes were led by a duo of goaltenders who were once thought of as an after thought in Curtis McElhinney (20-11-2, 2.58 GAA, .912 SV% in 33 GP) and Petr Mrazek (23-14-3, 2.39 GAA, .914 SV% in 40 GP).
Though his record might not show it, Mrazek has been hitting his stride for the last month and is locked in. Ride that wave until it crests.
The Hurricanes had a league-leading ten skaters play in all 82 games. There’s no such thing as playing too much hockey– especially when it’s the first postseason appearance since 2009.
Last year, the Columbus Blue Jackets gave the Caps some interruptions coming out of the gate.
Despite Washington having swept the season series, 4-0-0, the Hurricanes kept things close in their most recent matchup with a, 3-2, loss at PNC Arena on March 28th.
Carolina almost pulled off the victory in a shootout on Dec. 14th, but lost, 6-5, on home ice to the Capitals.
Washington is beatable. Hurricanes head coach, Rod Brind’Amour knows that, his team just hasn’t done it yet. Caps head coach, Todd Reirden, is also making his postseason debut at the reigns behind the bench for his respective team.
Though they won the Cup last season– that was then. This is now.
This series is going seven games and the Hurricanes will make sure there’s no repeat Cup winner this year.
Regular season outcomes:
3-2 WSH at PNC Arena on March 28th, 4-1 WSH at Capital One Arena on March 26th, 3-1 WSH at Capital One Arena on Dec. 27th, 6-5 F/SO WSH at PNC Arena on Dec. 14th
4/11- Game 1 CAR @ WSH 7:30 PM ET on USA, SN360, TVAS2
4/13- Game 2 CAR @ WSH 3 PM ET on NBC, SN, TVAS
4/15- Game 3 WSH @ CAR 7 PM ET on CNBC, SN, TVAS2
4/18- Game 4 WSH @ CAR 7 PM ET on TBD, SN360, TVAS
4/20- Game 5 CAR @ WSH*
4/22- Game 6 WSH @ CAR*
4/24- Game 7 CAR @ WSH*
M2 New York Islanders (48-27-7, 103 points) vs M3 Pittsburgh Penguins (44-26-12, 100 points)
Barry Trotz figured out how to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins last season with the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals. Trotz is the key. Trotz knows the secret stuff to beat Mike Sullivan and his Penguins.
That’s why the William M. Jennings Trophy winning duo of Robin Lehner (25-13-5, 2.13 GAA, .930 SV% in 46 GP) and Thomas Greiss (23-14-2, 2.28 GAA, .927 SV% in 43 GP) will backstop the New York Islanders past Pittsburgh in their First Round matchup in six games.
Am I getting ahead of myself? Probably.
New York split the season series with the Pens, 2-1-1, with their most recent result against Pittsburgh coming in a, 2-1, shootout loss on Dec. 10th at NYCB Live (that’s the Nassau Coliseum, if you haven’t already heard. The Isles will host their First Round games there).
Islanders General Manager Lou Lamoriello put together a team without John Tavares. Trotz figured out how to get the most out of his players– guys like Matt Martin, Leo Komarov, Casey Cizikas and even Andrew Ladd (until Ladd got injured)– while playing the trap.
That same trap won the Cup last season.
Long Island residents have long memories– the Penguins are one of their greatest rivals– and the added energy of Tavares’ departure has only fueled more passion all season long.
Can New York flip the switch from their late season bumps in the road?
Obviously, Pittsburgh has Sidney Crosby. They also have Evgeni Malkin. Crosby and Malkin are ready to go for another deep postseason run after watching their biggest rival not only beat them in the Second Round last year, but go on to take the Cup out of the hands of the Penguins’ recent streak of dominance in 2016 and 2017.
The Penguins were led in the crease by Matt Murray (29-14-6, 2.69 GAA, .919 SV% in 50 GP) this season with some helpful bailout backup goaltending from Casey DeSmith (15-11-5, 2.75 GAA, .916 SV% in 36 GP). If Murray shows any signs of wavering, Sullivan shouldn’t have a hard time going to DeSmith to push his team over the edge.
How will Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann play into the fold as Jim Rutherford‘s biggest prize acquisitions this season? Who might be the breakout star for Pittsburgh that outshines Crosby in the Conn Smythe Trophy vote?
Aren’t these questions supposed to be answered in an editorial preview? Sure.
Regular season outcomes:
2-1 F/SO PIT at NYCB Live on Dec. 10th, 6-2 PIT at PPG Paints Arena on Dec. 6th, 3-2 F/SO NYI at Barclays Center on Nov. 1st, 6-3 NYI at PPG Paints Arena on Oct. 30th
4/10- Game 1 PIT @ NYI 7:30 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, TVAS2
4/12- Game 2 PIT @ NYI 7:30 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, TVAS2
4/14- Game 3 NYI @ PIT 12 PM ET on NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS
4/16- Game 4 NYI @ PIT 7:30 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, TVAS2
4/18- Game 5 PIT @ NYI*
4/20- Game 6 NYI @ PIT*
4/22- Game 7 PIT @ NYI*
We’re less than a month away from the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, so let’s take a gander at how things should shape up for the Central Division.
The Tampa Bay Lightning clinched the first postseason berth this season, Quinn Hughes signed his entry-level contract with the Vancouver Canucks, Shane Wright was granted exceptional status and the DTFR Duo presented the first few individual season awards.
*Zach Boychuk wasn’t actually on… …this time around, anyway.*
Auston Matthews signed an extension with the Toronto Maple Leafs. What does this mean for the Leafs? Alex Stalock, Jordan Martinook and Pheonix Copley all signed extensions with their clubs, as Tuukka Rask became the winningest goaltender in Boston Bruins history, Alex Ovechkin became the highest scoring Russian-born NHL player and Paul Maurice reached 1,500 games behind the bench as a head coach.
The DTFR Duo also reviewed all 31 NHL teams as buyers and/or sellers at the 2019 trade deadline.
With 21 clubs enjoying their byes as a continuation of the All-Star Break, this week’s schedule was fairly light until tonight when the entire league got back into action. However, that’s not to say there wasn’t any big matchups – take a look for yourself:
|NHL SCHEDULE: January 28-February 3|
|TIME (ALL TIMES EASTERN)||VISITOR||HOST||NATIONAL BROADCAST(S)/
|Monday, January 28|
|7 p.m.||New Jersey||Pittsburgh||6-3|
|Tuesday, January 29|
|7 p.m.||Winnipeg||Boston||4-3 (SO)|
|7:30 p.m.||Philadelphia Flyers||New York Rangers||1-0|
|Wednesday, January 30|
|8 p.m.||Tampa Bay||Pittsburgh||2-4|
|Thursday, January 31|
|7 p.m.||Philadelphia||Boston||3-2 (OT)|
|7 p.m.||New York Rangers||New Jersey Devils||4-3|
|Friday, February 1|
|7 p.m.||Tampa Bay Lightning||New York Islanders|
|Saturday, February 2|
|1 p.m.||Edmonton||Philadelphia||NHLN, SN|
|2 p.m.||New Jersey||Montréal||RDS, TSN2|
|7 p.m.||Pittsburgh||Toronto||CBC, SN1|
|7 p.m.||Detroit||Ottawa||CITY, TVAS|
|7 p.m.||Los Angeles Kings||New York Islanders|
|7 p.m.||St. Louis||Columbus|
|8 p.m.||Tampa Bay||New York Rangers||NBC|
|10 p.m.||Vancouver Canucks||Colorado Avalanche||CBC, CITY, SN, SN1, SN360|
|10:30 p.m.||Arizona||San Jose|
|Sunday, February 3|
|2 p.m.||Edmonton||Montréal||RDS, SN|
With many of the week’s early games involving a majority of Eastern Conference teams, rivalries abound in this week’s schedule – starting with the Flyers’ tilt against the Rangers on Tuesday. After squaring off at Madison Square Garden, both clubs departed for another derby matchup, with New York taking on New Jersey and Philadelphia heading to Boston on Thursday. Tonight’s rivalry features Toronto in Detroit (more on that game in a moment), with Chicago taking on Minnesota tomorrow.
If player returns are your jam, there’s no bigger tilt this weekend than the Flames’ trip to Raleigh. Taking advantage of the systemic overhaul of the Hurricanes’ system, Calgary traded for F Elias Lindholm and D Noah Hanifin, who spent five and three seasons, respectively, with Carolina. The Flames also signed former three-year Cane C Derek Ryan out of free agency on July 1.
Of course, all of these moves were likely suggested by the Flames’ new Head Coach, Bill Peters. He spent four seasons in Carolina before getting the ax following the 2017-18 campaign.
Finally, we return to tonight’s previously mentioned Original Six showdown between the Maple Leafs and Red Wings. This is usually an exciting game to see on its own, but this game is even more special than usual since Red Kelly is getting his No. 4 retired beforehand.
Heck, you know what? Kelly was pretty cool (after all, he did win four Stanley Cups while also serving as a Canadian Member of Parliament), so let’s head to Motown.
Though they’ve managed to hold on to their second-place position in the Atlantic Division while sitting dormant for eight total days, the Leafs were surely disappointed to end the first half of their season on a 2-4-0 skid – even if those two wins did come against the division-leading Lightning and the reigning Stanley Cup champions.
To the surprise of none, Toronto’s biggest struggle during that skid was surely its defense. While the 32.6 shots against per game the Maple Leafs have allowed all season is far from impressive (in fact, it’s tied with Buffalo for eighth-worst in the league), they slacked-off even more in their last six games leading up to the All-Star Break to yield 34.83 shots against per game.
That’s the sixth-worst mark in the NHL since January 12, but General Manager Kyle Dubas is working to fix that issue.
Enter D Jake Muzzin: a player with a +10 rating through 50 games with the Los Angeles Kings, the second-worst team in the NHL with a league-worst -36 goal differential on the season.
While plus/minus is far from the best statistic in sports, the fact that we can pair it with his pedestrian offensive production (he’s managed only 4-17-21 totals so far this season) shows he’s doing at least something right on the defensive end (in other words, the stat is an effect, not a cause). In fact, if defensive point shares are your cup of tea, his defense provided four of the Kings’ 44 points in the standings.
Muzzin gets his work done by making his presence known. He’s just eight blocks short of averaging two per game on the season, and he’s made up for that along the boards by throwing 111 hits so far this campaign.
To put that in relation to his new teammates, Muzzin’s 1.84 blocks per game and 2.22 hits per game rank second and first, respectively, among the 18 Leafs that have at least 28 games played.
Talk about bulking up the defense.
One person hoping Muzzin’s defensive success makes the 4.5 hour trip from Tinseltown to T-dot is 6-3-1 G Garret Sparks, tonight’s presumed starter with the Penguins rolling into Toronto tomorrow. Sparks boasts a .907 save percentage and 2.91 GAA on the season, but has lost his last two appearances.
Should Sparks get the start tonight, it will be his fourth career outing against the Red Wings. He’s managed a 1-1-1 record against Detroit in his first three tries, winning his most recent matchup on December 23 despite allowing four goals. He brings a career .864 save percentage and corresponding 4.01 GAA against the Wings into tonight’s tilt.
Of course, the Maple Leafs’ defensive concerns are nothing when compared to the 19-25-7 Detroit Red Wings, as they’ve struggled in effectively every facet of the game this season – made evident by their position in second-to-last place in the Eastern Conference.
Looking specifically at the Wings’ last eight games that saw them post a 3-5-0 record, the biggest struggle of late has been their offense – just like Toronto, no surprises here. Similar to its 2.8 goals per game for the entire season, Detroit’s 2.88 goals per game since January 6 ranks seventh-worst in the NHL.
Beyond the top-line pairing of F Dylan Larkin (3-5-8 totals in his last eight outings) and W Gustav Nyquist (1-7-8 since January 6), the Red Wings struggle to find much offensive. Those players’ respective season points totals of 48 and 43 headline the team, but third-best F Andreas Athanasiou has registered only 30. Despite the goal-scoring potential Athanasiou still shows at 24-years-old, the fact that 30 points in 45 games played is third-best on a team perfectly showcases just how little Detroit has at its disposal.
How much longer until W Filip Zadina is ready, again? Oh, he only has 22 points in 37 AHL games played… great. The odds of any sort of call up for the young Czech is sliding in LW Matt Puempel’s favor more and more – an experiment I’m surprised the Wings haven’t tried yet this season considering they have nothing to lose. After all Puempel’s 36 points in 44 AHL games played is second-best in Grand Rapids.
As for who’s going to win this game, I think the answer is obvious: after a well-deserved rest, the Maple Leafs’ offense should be ready to get back into form. And even if Toronto doesn’t hit the 3.55 goals per game it’s grown grown accustomed to this season, Detroit’s anemic offense shouldn’t pose much of a threat, even against the likes of Sparks. Toronto should take care of business easily tonight.
The Dallas Stars and Pittsburgh Penguins swapped familiar assets, while the Toronto Maple Leafs added a defender in a deal with the Los Angeles Kings. Red Kelly’s number is going to be retired (again– this time by the Detroit Red Wings) and we now know the opponents in the 2020 Winter Classic and 2020 Stadium Series games.
More on the Arizona Coyotes latest debacle with Seattle expansion looming, Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith did something never done before, the Calgary Flames rise in the Western Conference and the St. Louis Blues dismal season. Bob Murray and the Anaheim Ducks made a few moves– signing Murray to an extension, claiming Chad Johnson off waivers and a minor trade.
Plus, Nick and Connor review the last 15 years of first round picks by the Pittsburgh Penguins and do a deep dive on their future and what it might look like.