Tag Archives: Jaroslav Halak

2019-20 Atlantic Division Outlook

As the entire hockey world awaits training camp action next month, let’s make some (un)educated guesses about the upcoming season that will totally pan out because everything always goes as expected. (It doesn’t.)

The projected standings below are only a forecast.

They are based on recent indications– as well as the last few seasons of stats– and cannot account for variations in roster construction (a.k.a. trades and free agency moves).

There’s a lot of variables that will turn the tables upside down, including transactions, injuries and otherwise. Anything can happen.

As always, it’s more important to remember 1) the spread and 2) the positioning.

Just how many points separate the projected division winner from the last wild card spot (the spread) and where a team is supposed to finish in the division standings (the position) can imply that things aren’t always what they seem.

A team that’s projected to win it all still has to play an 82-game regular season, qualify for the playoffs and go on to amass 16 wins in the postseason.

Projected Standings After ZERO Months

Atlantic Division

  1. p-Tampa Bay Lightning, 109 points
  2. x-Boston Bruins, 105 points
  3. x-Toronto Maple Leafs, 91 points
  4. Florida Panthers, 89 points
  5. Montreal Canadiens, 89 points
  6. Detroit Red Wings, 84 points
  7. Ottawa Senators, 78 points
  8. Buffalo Sabres, 71 points

Tampa Bay Lightning: Pros and Cons

The Lightning are annual favorites among the experts to win the Stanley Cup, so it’s no surprise, really, that they haven’t yet. There’s either too many expectations to live up to or there’s too much of a casual atmosphere from season-to-season.

You know what they say when you assume.

Just like the Washington Capitals and their 2018 Stanley Cup championship, it’s better for the Bolts if nobody is talking about them. Prior to the Caps winning in 2018, there was a “Cup or bust” mantra that just didn’t work.

Nothing is willed without hard work and humility.

That’s not to say Tampa doesn’t work hard or isn’t humble, but rather, they must lose on the big stage repetitively until everyone expects them to fail. That’s when they’ll go on a run.

They’ve managed to keep their roster together (granted, RFA center, Brayden Point, is still unsigned) while trimming the fat (gone are the days of Anton Stralman and Dan Girardi on the blue line) and are still Stanley Cup front-runners, but they likely won’t get back to the 60-win plateau in back-to-back seasons.

The Lightning will still get to 50 wins for the third season in-a-row, have Nikita Kucherov set the league on fire in scoring and yield out-of-this-world goaltending from Andrei Vasilevskiy before the real season starts– the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

How would the Lightning fail?

Everyone keeps talking about the Lightning as if they’re some godsend (too much hype, remember?). That, or General Manager Julien BriseBois blows up the roster and/or Jon Cooper is fired as head coach.

Boston Bruins: Pros and Cons

The Bruins core remains strong among their forwards and as long as they’re able to negotiate an extension with RFAs Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo without any bumps in the road, then their defense is pretty sound too.

Jaroslav Halak signed a two-year deal last summer, so the 1A/1B tandem of Tuukka Rask and Halak in the crease seems fine for another run in 2019-20.

Boston exceeded expectations in 2017-18 and went under the radar in 2018-19– though they managed to amass only 10 losses in regulation since Jan. 1st, which means they were actually pretty loud in the points percentage column.

Injuries come and go.

If the Bruins are able to stay healthy instead of dropping like flies to their 12th defenseman on the depth chart, they might actually pick up a few more points than they did last season.

With Bruce Cassidy as head coach, things should remain status quo in the regular season, but Boston still needs to address their top-six forward problem.

David Pastrnak can play on the first or second line, but on any given night that leaves one of their top two lines in need of a scoring winger.

General Manager Don Sweeney managed to patch a hole at the third line center– acquiring Charlie Coyle as last season’s trade deadline loomed– and Coyle was one of their better players in their 2019 Stanley Cup Final postseason run.

But with a couple of depth signings for bottom six roles in the offseason (Par Lindholm and Brett Ritchie), everyone getting another year older and David Backes’ $6.000 million cap hit through 2020-21 still on the books, Boston’s hands are tied.

How would the Bruins fail?

There’s enough bark in the regular season, but not enough bite for a deep postseason run. It’s harder than ever before to make it back to the Stanley Cup Final in back-to-back seasons– and that’s before you consider age, injuries and regression.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Pros and Cons

Toronto has Auston Matthews as their second best center. Yes. Second best. Why? Because John Tavares enters the second year of his long-term seven-year deal that he signed last July.

That alone will continue to keep the Leafs afloat with a strong 1-2 duo down the middle.

Regardless of the Mitch Marner contract negotiations (or lack thereof), the Maple Leafs are just fine with their forwards– having traded Nazem Kadri to the Colorado Avalanche and acquiring Alex Kerfoot in the process (Calle Rosen and Tyson Barrie were also swapped in the deal).

Patrick Marleau is gone and it only cost Toronto a conditional 2020 1st round pick (top-10 lottery protected) and a 2020 7th round pick in the process, but an affordable Jason Spezza at league minimum salary ($700,000) on a one-year deal for fourth line minutes will do just fine.

By puck drop for the 2019-20 season, the Leafs will save $10.550 million in cap space thanks to David Clarkson (yes, his contract’s back after a trade with the Vegas Golden Knights that sent Garret Sparks the other way) and Nathan Horton’s placement on the long-term injured reserve.

The stars are aligning for Toronto to still need to get past the First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2004.

With Kadri gone, however, perhaps they will be able to do so with or without Boston in the equation.

How would the Leafs fail?

They don’t sign Marner and they lose in another Game 7 because of it. There’s a lot of turbulence ahead for Toronto General Manager Kyle Dubas considering the Leafs have one defender under contract after 2019-20. If the team doesn’t breakout in the postseason, it’s really just status quo until proven otherwise.

Florida Panthers: Pros and Cons

The Panthers are beginning to ripen with a mix of youth and experience among their forwards, plus a defense that quietly does their job.

They also added Noel Acciari, Brett Connolly, Anton Stralman and (most importantly) Sergei Bobrovsky to the mix.

While Acciari’s $1.667 million cap hit through 2021-22 is a slight overpay for a fourth line center, at least it could be worse. Connolly’s making $3.500 million for the next four years and even Stralman has a cap hit of $5.500 million through 2021-22 when he’ll be turning 36 on August 1, 2022.

Ok, so it was an expensive offseason for Florida– and that’s before you add the $10.000 million price tag for the next seven years of Bobrovsky in the crease.

Yes, despite landing one of the better goaltenders in the league in free agency, General Manager Dale Tallon managed to make matters complicated after, say, the fourth year of Bobrovsky’s contract.

Bobrovsky will be roughly 37-years-old by the time his contract with the Panthers expires and not everyone can be like Dwayne Roloson in the net forever.

At least they drafted Spencer Knight (in the first round– a goaltending prospect curse).

Though they missed the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs by 12 points for an Eastern Conference wild card spot, the Panthers are in a position to gain more than a few wins with new head coach (and three-time Stanley Cup champion) Joel Quenneville behind the bench.

How would the Panthers fail?

Florida’s already landed the biggest prize in head coaching free agency with Quenneville reuniting with Tallon in Sunrise. What could possibly go wrong (besides Tallon being replaced by a clone of Stan Bowman and then the Panthers go on to win three Cups without Tallon in command)?

Montreal Canadiens: Pros and Cons

Montreal didn’t get Matt Duchene or Sebastian Aho in free agency, so they got the next best thing– not overspending on July 1st.

That’s not to say Duchene and Aho aren’t quality players, but rather just an observation of cap concerns for the Habs with Max Domi as a pending-RFA in July 2020 and the rest of Montreal’s future core (Ryan Poehling, Nick Suzuki, Victor Mete, Cayden Primeau and Jesperi Kotkaniemi) to consider going down the road.

Granted, Aho could’ve sped the process up a bit if it weren’t for those pesky RFA rights and compensation in the CBA, right Montreal?

The Canadiens need a legitimate number one center, but General Manager Marc Bergevin has been preoccupied restructuring the defense in the meantime.

That’s not a bad thing.

Shea Weber is 34 and under contract through the 2025-26 season, though after 2021-22, his base salary drops to $3.000 million in 2022-23 and $1.000 million from 2023-26 (meaning he could be traded with ease in a few years, despite his $7.857 million cap hit).

But Karl Alzner and Jeff Petry are both over 30 and have no-trade and/or no-movement clauses in their contracts.

At least free agent addition, Ben Chiarot, is 28-years-old, but he also carries a no-trade clause as part of his three-year deal.

How would the Canadiens fail?

Claude Julien inexplicably reverts back to his old ways and doesn’t play the kids, Carey Price is injured for most of the season and/or Bergevin overcompensates in a trade because of his failure to secure a free agent center.

Detroit Red Wings: Pros and Cons

Steve Yzerman has come home and is rightfully the General Manager for the Red Wings, but as we’ve seen in Tampa, his masterplan takes a little time.

Detroit is four or five years out from being an annual Cup contender, but that doesn’t mean the Red Wings haven’t already sped things up in their rebuild.

Trading for Adam Erne isn’t a grand-slam, but it does make the average age of the roster a tad younger.

It also means that the Red Wings now have seven pending-RFAs on their NHL roster and roughly $37.000 million to work with in July 2020.

How would the Red Wings fail?

Having Yzerman in the front office at Little Caesars Arena is like adding all of the best toppings to a pizza. The only downside is that leftover pineapple is still on the pizza from all of the no-trade clauses delivered by the last guy.

Ottawa Senators: Pros and Cons

The Senators are looking to spend ba-by.

Just kidding, they don’t plan on being good until 2021, so does that mean starting with the 2020-21 season or the following year in 2021-22?

But they do have a ton of draft picks stockpiled including two in the 1st round in 2020, three in the 2nd round, one in the 3rd, 4th and 5th, a pair in the 6th and one in the 7th.

Plus they have roughly $15.600 million in cap space currently and eight players under contract for next season that aren’t on the injured reserve.

For some reason (Eugene Melnyk) current-RFA Colin White is still unsigned and 38-year-old, Ron Hainsey, was signed in free agency, but at least Cody Ceci is a Maple Leaf now.

Oh and former Leafs assistant coach D.J. Smith is Ottawa’s head coach now. That’ll show them!

How would the Senators fail?

More importantly, how would Ottawa succeed?

Buffalo Sabres: Pros and Cons

Pro: The Sabres will probably be better than last season.

Con: Ralph Krueger is Buffalo’s new head coach and nobody knows what to expect (he went 19-22-7 in the lockout shortened 48-game season with the Edmonton Oilers in 2012-13).

Pro: Only eight skaters are under contract next season.

Con: Only eight skaters are under contract next season, including Rasmus Ristolainen and nobody is sure whether or not the club is trying to trade him.

Pro: Marcus Johansson!

Con: Jimmy Vesey! (Only cost Buffalo two third round picks over three years to get him.)

Pro: The average age of the roster is about 26.

Con: Matt Hunwick is the oldest player at 34-years-old, followed by Carter Hutton at 33 and Vladimir Sobotka at 32.

Pro: Royal blue in 2020!

Con: It’s not until 2020.

How would the Sabres fail?

If Buffalo actually finishes last in the division, instead of any improvement whatsoever.

DTFR Podcast #164- The Free Agency Mega-Hour

Nick, Cap’n and Pete recap the last two weeks of trades and first few days of free agency 2K19.

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

2019 Stanley Cup Final Preview

After what seems like an eternity has passed (drop the puck already), the 2019 Stanley Cup Final between the Eastern Conference champion, Boston Bruins, and the Western Conference champion, St. Louis Blues, kicks off Monday night at TD Garden.

Here’s a look at how the best-of-seven series should pan out.

A2 Boston Bruins (49-24-9, 107 points) vs C3 St. Louis Blues (45-28-9, 99 points)

Boston is making their third appearance in the Final in the last eight years– winning the Cup against the Vancouver Canucks in seven games in 2011 and losing to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games in 2013.

St. Louis is making their first Stanley Cup Final appearance in 49 years– losing in four games to the Bruins in 1970.

Regardless of the series outcome– history will be made.

The Bruins outlasted the Toronto Maple Leafs in seven games in the First Round, bested the Columbus Blue Jackets in six games in the Second Round and swept the “Bunch of Jerks” known as the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Final.

The Blues grounded the Winnipeg Jets in six games in the First Round, beat the Dallas Stars in seven games in the Second Round and took a bite out of the San Jose Sharks in six games in the Western Conference Final.

Both teams have incredible depth scoring, solid defense and out-of-this-world goaltending.

Only one team can win it all, however.

Both cities have met in all four major North American professional sports championship games and/or series, with St. Louis last beating Boston in the 1967 World Series as the Cardinals defeated the “Impossible Dream” Red Sox.

Since then, the B’s beat the Blue Notes in the 1970 Stanley Cup Final as Bobby Orr soared through the air after scoring “The Goal”, the New England Patriots defeated the St. Louis Rams (R.I.P.) in Super Bowl XXXVI and the Red Sox beat the Cardinals twice in 2004 and 2013.

Brad Marchand led his team in scoring in the regular season with 100 points and his 18 points in 17 games played this postseason lead David Pastrnak (15 points), David Krejci (14), Patrice Bergeron (13), Charlie Coyle (12), Torey Krug (12) and the rest of the Bruins.

Bergeron leads his roster in goals so far in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs with eight, including a postseason leading six power play goals– the most by a Bruin since Cam Neely scoring nine goals on the power play in 1991.

Marchand is tied with Pastrnak for the second-most goals for Boston, trailing Bergeron with seven goals each, followed by Coyle (six) and Krejci (four).

The only Bruins without a goal this postseason are Brandon Carlo (a lineup regular), John Moore (primarily a scratch throughout this postseason) and Karson Kuhlman (appeared in six games in the First and Second Round before David Backes took over in each round on the second line right wing).

There have been 19 different scorers for Boston in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

General Manager, Don Sweeney, addressed his apparent lack of secondary scoring with the acquisitions on Coyle (6-6–12 totals in 17 games this postseason) and Marcus Johansson (3-6–9 totals in 15 games) leading up to the trade deadline.

Head coach, Bruce Cassidy, has adjusted his game on-the-fly, mixing up the lines when necessary to rejuvenate the scoring touch of “The Perfection Line” (Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak), while lighting a fire under the annual playoff performer in Krejci and his wingers Jake DeBrusk and Backes.

Marchand and Krug are tied for the lead in assists with 11, while defender and captain, Zdeno Chara, leads his crew in plus/minus with a plus-11 rating in 16 games played this postseason.

Chara, 42, missed Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final in Carolina, but is ready and refreshed to try to earn four more wins against St. Louis and join Johnny Bower (42, 1967), Dominik Hasek (43, 2008), Mark Recchi (43, 2011) and Chris Chelios (46, 2008) as the only players to win the Cup at the age of 42 or older.

The rest of the B’s defenders have played a shutdown style that has led to the Bruins in control of all the important statistical categories at the end of the night– the final score.

Boston is 11-0 when leading after two periods this postseason and has only trailed in 9.9% of their minutes played since the start of the Second Round.

They’re also on a seven-game winning streak– their third longest in franchise history in the postseason– behind only runs of 10-0 in 1970 and 9-0 in 1972.

Both of those years, the Bruins won the Cup.

Though Chris Wagner (upper body) and Kevan Miller (lower body) are out for the remainder of the playoffs, the next man up mentality has landed Noel Acciari a spot on the fourth line with Joakim Nordstrom and Sean Kuraly in place of Walpole, Massachusetts native Wagner, as well as regular time for Connor Clifton on the blue line in place of Miller.

Coyle, Wagner and defender, Matt Grzelcyk, are seeking to join Myles Lane as the only Massachusetts-born players to win a Cup with the Bruins. Lane did so in Boston’s first Stanley Cup championship back in 1929.

Meanwhile, Tuukka Rask (12-5 record, 1.84 goals against average, .942 save percentage in 17 games played this postseason) is having a Conn Smythe worthy performance in the net for the B’s.

Rask’s stats are better than his 1.88 GAA and .940 SV% in 22 games played in the 2013 Stanley Cup Final and better than Tim Thomas’ 1.98 GAA and .940 SV% in 25 games played en route to the 2011 Stanley Cup championship.

The B’s have gone ten full days without a game, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing for Rask as his workload was reduced with the help of backup goaltender, Jaroslav Halak, in the regular season.

Sweeney and Cassidy and wanted a dynamic duo of goaltenders that would let their starter in Rask find his groove and work efficiently.

There’s no better efficiency than the way he’s playing right now.

With the shutout in Game 4 against the Hurricanes, Rask improved to 8-0 in eight career appearances in the Conference Finals, as well as franchise record holder for most series-clinching shutouts in Bruins history with three (surpassing Gerry Cheevers and Thomas’ previous mark of two series-clinching shutouts).

Boston held an intra-squad scrimmage last Thursday to keep the game-flow going and charged fans $20 to attend and see their players in action that they might not otherwise be able to afford to see (with Stanley Cup Final tickets on the secondary market going for $1,000).

Every dollar went to the Boston Bruins Foundation, which redistributes funds to charities throughout New England that help enrich the lives of children in the region.

The Bruins are facing the St. Louis Blues for the 3rd time in a playoff series (previous, 1972 Semifinals, BOS W, 4-0). Boston also swept St. Louis in the 1970 SCF.

St. Louis is well-familiar with “The Hub of the Universe”. They were swept by Boston in the 1970 Stanley Cup Final– the Blues third appearance in their first three years of existence as a franchise in the Final.

Then the two clubs met again in the 1972 Semifinals. Once more, the Blues were swept by the Bruins.

The team with a blue music note with wings for a crest has yet to win a game in the Stanley Cup Final. 1968, 1969 and 1970 resulted in 12 straight Stanley Cup Final losses to the Montreal Canadiens and Boston.

A lot of franchise history has passed for St. Louis and names like Wayne Gretzky have even gone through the club (albeit for 31 games in the regular season and playoffs in 1996).

49 years later, hometown heroes, like Pat Maroon, and adopted hometown heroes, like David Perron (in his third stint with the organization) have led from the back-end of the top-nine group of forwards out.

Jaden Schwartz leads St. Louis in scoring with 12 goals– the second most in franchise history in a postseason, trailing Brett Hull’s 13 goals in 12 games played in the 1990 Stanley Cup Playoffs– and 16 points in 19 games in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Schwartz even has two hat tricks this postseason and is the first NHLer to record two hat tricks in one postseason since Johan Franzen did so with the Detroit Red Wings en route to their 2008 Stanley Cup championship.

Offseason acquisition, Ryan O’Reilly, has proven General Manager, Doug Armstrong, worthy of being named a finalist for GM of the Year this season, as O’Reilly has 3-11–14 totals in 19 games

Vladimir Tarasenko– St. Louis’ regular star– has eight goals and five assists (13 points) and is tied for third in scoring on the roster with Perron (6-7–13 totals) and Alex Pietrangelo (2-11–13 totals).

All of the Blues are in search of their first Stanley Cup championship ring and must face former captain and current Bruin, David Backes. After 10 years with the organization, Backes joined Boston on July 1, 2016. In his 13th career season, he’ll face his former team for the Cup.

St. Louis has had helping hands on the blue line in Pietrangelo’s 13 points and Colton Parayko’s 11 points this postseason.

Among their regulars, only Jay Bouwmeester and Carl Gunnarsson have yet to score a goal in this year’s playoffs (Zach Sanford also hasn’t recorded a point in three games played).

Backes’ storyline isn’t the only familiarity with the Blues, however.

Rookie goaltender, Jordan Binnington (12-7, 2.37 GAA, .914 SV% in 19 GP) holds the franchise record for most wins in a postseason by a rookie netminder, but spent last season on loan to the Providence Bruins (AHL).

If there’s team with more internal notes on the goaltender that they’re facing in this year’s Stanley Cup Final– it’s the Boston Bruins.

But Binnington’s not nervous– he hasn’t been all postseason long, en route to eliminating the Jets, Stars and Sharks.

He is, however, about to face his biggest challenge yet in the Bruins, unless Craig Berube finds a way to coach his team into taming the bears charging at them down the ice.

While Robert Thomas is likely good to go in Boston for Game 1, Vince Dun will be out of the lineup and day-to-day.

That’s no worry for the cool, calm and collected Berube– who’s guided his team from 31st (dead last) in the league on the morning of Jan. 3rd to the Stanley Cup Final after being named interim head coach back in November, replacing Mike Yeo.


Ten out of the last 13 Cup winners have had the shorter turnaround from the Conference Finals to the Stanley Cup Final, but we’re talking a difference of a few days as opposed to an average of just over a week for the two opponents this year.

The winner of Game 1– since the best-of-seven series format was adopted for the Final in 1939– has gone on to win the Cup in 61 out of 79 series’ (77.2% success rate).

Though both teams expect to play sloppy coming out of the gate, it is vital for Cassidy to keep his players on edge at the top of their game.

Play your game and you control the game. Play the Blues’ game and you’ll fall behind.

Berube managed to frustrate the Jets and Stars, while St. Louis lucked out against a battered Sharks roster.

That’s not to say the Blues are any less dangerous this time of year. In fact, they’re quite good. They won the Western Conference.

However, this time of year is both a sprint and a marathon. How fast can you skate up and down the ice for a full 60-minute (sometimes more) effort and can you maintain that for up to seven games?

Boston is a team with enough experience to go the distance, but St. Louis is a team with enough history to overcome.

In the end, the Bruins should be the ones raising the Cup above their heads for what might the be final time in their current core group of players’ careers as Bergeron, Krejci, Chara, Marchand and Rask continue to leave their mark on franchise history– defining careers worthy of recognition in the rafters of TD Garden.

Time will tell over six games in the series as the events unfold.

Regular season outcomes:

2-1 F/SO STL at Enterprise Center on Feb. 23rd, 5-2 BOS at TD Garden on Jan. 17th

Schedule:

5/27- Game 1 STL @ BOS 8 PM ET on NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS

5/29- Game 2 STL @ BOS 8 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS

6/1-Game 3 BOS @ STL 8 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS

6/3- Game 4 BOS @ STL 8 PM ET on NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS

6/6- Game 5 STL @ BOS 8 PM ET on NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS*

6/9- Game 6 BOS @ STL 8 PM ET on NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS*

6/12- Game 7 STL @ BOS 8 PM ET on NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS*

*If necessary

DTFR Podcast #160- Battle For Gloria (Part Two- 2019 Stanley Cup Final Preview)

Nick and Pete preview the 2019 Stanley Cup Final between the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues.

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

2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round Preview: Eastern Conference

*cue Andy Williams*

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh yeah and Steven Stamkos had 45 goals.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Regular season outcomes:

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

Schedule:

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

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

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

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

4/19- Game 5 CBJ @ TBL*

4/21- Game 6 TBL @ CBJ*

4/23- Game 7 CBJ @ TBL*

*If necessary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Regular season outcomes:

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

Schedule:

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

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

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

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

4/19- Game 5 TOR @ BOS*

4/21- Game 6 BOS @ TOR*

4/23- Game 7 TOR @ BOS*

*If necessary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Regular season outcomes:

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

Schedule:

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

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

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

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

4/20- Game 5 CAR @ WSH*

4/22- Game 6 WSH @ CAR*

4/24- Game 7 CAR @ WSH*

*If necessary

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

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

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

Am I getting ahead of myself? Probably.

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

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

That same trap won the Cup last season.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Regular season outcomes:

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

Schedule:

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

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

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

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

4/18- Game 5 PIT @ NYI*

4/20- Game 6 NYI @ PIT*

4/22- Game 7 PIT @ NYI*

Halak leads Bruins to, 3-0, shutout over Wild

Joakim Nordstrom scored the eventual game-winning goal in the second period en route to the Boston Bruins’, 3-0, shutout of the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center on Thursday.

Jaroslav Halak (22-11-4 record, 2.34 goals against average, .922 save percentage in 40 games played) made 26 saves on 26 shots against for his 5th shutout of the season (37th of his career) in the win for Boston.

Meanwhile, Wild goaltender, Alex Stalock (6-7-3, 2.99 GAA, .896 SV% in 20 GP) stopped 32 out of 34 shots faced for a .941 SV% in the loss.

The Bruins improved to 49-23-9 (107 points) on the season and have already clinched 2nd place in the Atlantic Division. The Wild fell to 37-35-9 (83 points) and remain 6th in the Central Division– already eliminated from postseason contention.

Boston improved to 20-15-6 on the road this season and 28-9-5 since Jan. 1st with the win.

With two games left in the regular season entering Thursday and a First Round matchup with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs to prepare for, Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy rested Zdeno Chara, Brad Marchand, David Krejci and Charlie McAvoy and sat them out of the lineup.

Chris Wagner (lower body) also missed Thursday night’s action, while John Moore (upper body) and Sean Kuraly (fractured right hand) remain week-to-week.

Zach Senyshyn and Trent Frederic were recalled on emergency basis from the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Wednesday.

Senyshyn made his NHL debut for the B’s Thursday night and was placed on the second line right wing with Marcus Johansson and Charlie Coyle.

Cassidy left Jake DeBrusk, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak as his first line, but did not play them much.

Meanwhile, Danton Heinen returned from an illness on Tuesday and took the ice on the third line left wing with Frederic down the middle and Karson Kuhlman on the right side.

Nordstrom, Noel Acciari and David Backes remained the usual suspects on the fourth line.

With Chara and McAvoy out of the lineup, Cassidy slid every defender on the depth chart up a pairing.

Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo were the first pair, Matt Grzelcyk and Kevan Miller were the second pair and Steven Kampfer suited up alongside Connor Clifton as the latter two defenders returned to the lineup after serving as healthy scratches on Tuesday in Columbus.

There were no penalties and there was no scoring in the first period as Senyshyn became the 7th Bruin to make his NHL debut this season and Cassidy kicked off his 300th game as an NHL head coach.

After one period, Minnesota held the advantage in shots on goal (9-8), blocked shots (5-4), takeaways (2-1), giveaways (3-0) and hits (7-4), while Boston led in face-off win percentage (53-47).

Both clubs had yet to see time on the skater advantage entering the first intermission.

The B’s had an injury scare 20 seconds into the 2nd period as Miller collided with Jordan Greenway and slid into the lower portion of the boards without being able to brace for impact. Miller left the game briefly to return later in the period, but did not return for the third period.

Cassidy indicated Miller has a lower body injury, but should be good to go on Saturday.

Midway through the period, Grzelcyk fired a shot that caromed off the end boards as Acciari worked the puck from the rebound to Nordstrom in front of the goal.

Nordstrom (7) fired a shot past Stalock and the Bruins led, 1-0, at 8:21 of the second period.

Acciari (8) and Grzelcyk (15) tallied the assists on the goal.

Late in the period, Luke Kunin cross checked Clifton and was assessed a minor penalty at 14:54. Boston did not convert on the ensuing power play.

Through 40 minutes of play, the Bruins led, 1-0, on the scoreboard and, 26-18, in shots on goal (including an, 18-9, advantage in the second period alone).

The Wild led in blocked shots (13-4), takeaways (7-5), giveaways (4-1) and hits (13-8) after two periods, while Boston continued to lead in face-off win% (52-48).

Minnesota had yet to see any time on the power play, but Boston was 0/1 entering the third period.

Kunin exchanged pleasantries early in the third period with Carlo and the two received matching roughing minors at 1:58.

Almost four minute later, Clifton was penalized for interference at 5:44 of the third period and the Wild went on the power play for their first time of the night.

Minnesota failed to capitalized on their only skater advantage opportunity of the game.

Midway through the final frame of regulation, Brad Hunt picked up an interference minor and the B’s went back on the power play at 11:30. Boston’s power play was unsuccessful.

Moments later, after DeBrusk brought the puck deep into the offensive zone, No. 74 in black and gold flipped the rubber biscuit through the slot on a backhand pass to Pastrnak (38) for the two-goal lead.

DeBrusk (15) and Carlo (8) notched the assists on Pastrnak’s goal at 17:15 and the Bruins led, 2-0.

With almost two minutes remaining in regulation, Bruce Boudreau pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker as the Wild tried to even things up in their final home game of the season.

Things did not go as planned.

Less than a minute after Pastrnak’s goal, Senyshyn (1) received a pass from Johansson and buried the puck on the empty net to make it an insurmountable three-goal lead at 17:51.

Johansson (17) and Kampfer (2) were credited with the assists as the Bruins led, 3-0, in Kampfer’s 200th career NHL game.

At the final horn, Boston won the game, 3-0, and finished the night leading in shots on goal (35-26) and face-off win% (54-46). Minnesota wrapped up their last home game of the 2018-19 season leading in blocked shots (15-14), giveaways (7-3) and hits (18-13).

The B’s were 0/2 on the power play and the Wild finished Thursday night 0/1 on the skater advantage.

The Bruins finish the 2018-19 regular season at home on Saturday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Boston will host the Maple Leafs in the First Round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs for Games 1 and 2 (5 and 7, if necessary).

Bruins at Wild Preview: 4/4/2019

For the last time in the regular season, the Boston Bruins (48-23-9, 105 points, 2nd in the Atlantic Division) enter a matchup as the road team as they take on the Minnesota Wild (37-34-9, 83 points, 6th in the Central Division) at Xcel Energy Center Thursday night.

The Bruins have lost nine games in regulation since Jan. 1st and are 19-15-6 on the road this season, coming off a, 6-2, victory in Columbus on Tuesday.

Boston wraps up their three-game road trip (1-1-0) against the Wild before heading home for a Saturday afternoon matinee battle with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Bruins beat Minnesota, 4-0, on Jan. 8th at TD Garden earlier this season.

Bruce Cassidy indicated to reporters that the B’s will rest Zdeno Chara, David Krejci, Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy ahead of their First Round matchup with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

As such, Chara, Krejci, Marchand and McAvoy join Chris Wagner (lower body), Sean Kuraly (fractured right hand) and John Moore (upper body) out of the lineup against Minnesota on Thursday.

Trent Frederic and Zach Senyshyn were recalled on emergency basis on Wednesday with the expectation that both would be ready to go against the Wild.

Senyshyn, in fact, will be making his NHL debut for the Bruins since being drafted 15th overall in the 2015 NHL Draft. The 22-year-old winger has 14-10–24 totals in 62 games with the Providence Bruins (AHL).

In addition to Frederic and Senyshyn being inserted into the lineup, Danton Heinen will return to action after missing Tuesday’s game against the Blue Jackets due to illness.

Cassidy is expected to roll with Jake DeBrusk, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak on his first line, with Marcus Johansson, Charlie Coyle and Senyshyn filling out his top-six forwards.

Heinen, Frederic and Karson Kuhlman took part in the optional skate on the third line prior to Thursday night’s matchup with Joakim Nordstrom, Noel Acciari and David Backes as the usual trio on the fourth line.

Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo will anchor the first defensive pairing with Matt Grzelcyk and Kevan Miller filling out the second pair.

Connor Clifton and Steven Kampfer return to the lineup on the third defensive pair after being healthy scratches with Chara and McAvoy resting.

No Bruins player will have played in all 82 regular season games this season with Krejci out of the lineup on Thursday.

Jaroslav Halak (21-11-4 record, 2.40 goals against average, .920 save percentage in 39 games played) will get the nod in the crease against the Wild, while Tuukka Rask gets the night off.

Rask will not get to 30 wins this season– ending his streak of five consecutive seasons with 30-plus wins, a franchise record– for the first time since the lockout shortened, 48-game, 2012-13 season (Rask had 19 wins in 36 games played).

He has 27 wins in 45 appearances this season.

Coyle suits up for Boston Thursday night in his first visit Minnesota with his new team since being acquired by the Bruins on Feb. 20th.

Originally drafted 28th overall in the 2010 NHL Draft by the San Jose Sharks, Coyle never played for the Sharks and was traded to the Wild with Devin Setoguchi and San Jose’s 2011 1st round pick (Zack Phillips) at the 2011 NHL Draft in exchange for Brent Burns and Minnesota’s 2012 2nd round pick (later traded to the Tampa Bay, then flipped to the Nashville Predators– Pontus Aberg).

Coyle amassed 91-151–242 totals in 479 career games with the Wild.

Ryan Donato and a conditional 2019 5th round pick were sent from Boston to Minnesota in exchange for Coyle back in February, which means Thursday night is also the first time Donato will go against his former club.

The 22-year-old forward made his NHL debut on March 19, 2018 for the Bruins and scored his first career goal and recorded 1-2–3 totals in his first career game in a, 5-4, overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Donato had 11 goals and seven assists (18 points) in 46 career games with Boston prior to being traded to the Wild.

He has 4-12–16 totals in 20 games since the trade.

Minnesota has sold out 228 consecutive regular season games at Xcel Energey Center and wraps up their 2018-19 season at home on Thursday.

The Wild suffered a, 5-1, loss to the Winnipeg Jets at home on Tuesday and wrap up their season on the road against the Dallas Stars on Saturday.

They are 14-6-3 all-time against the Bruins with a 6-2-3 record on home ice in that span.

Alex Stalock (6-6-3, 3.05 GAA, .893 SV% in 19 GP) will get the start for the Wild, while Devan Dubnyk is expected to serve as Thursday’s backup goaltender.

The Wild have already been eliminated from postseason contention and missed the playoffs for the first time in the Zach Parise and Ryan Suter Era.

Parise and Suter signed matching 13-year, $98 million contracts with Minnesota on July 4, 2012.

Mantha’s hat trick sinks Bruins, 6-3, in Detroit

Anthony Mantha scored his first career hat trick in the midst of a five-point night on Sunday as the Detroit Red Wings beat the Boston Bruins, 5-3, at Little Caesars Arena.

Mantha became the first Red Wings player to record at least five points in a game against Boston since Steve Yzerman did so on Jan. 14, 1989. Yzerman had two goals and three assists that night.

Taro Hirose, Filip Hronek and Dylan Larkin also had goals for Detroit, while Jake DeBrusk, Brad Marchand and David Backes scored for the Bruins.

Red Wings goaltender, Jimmy Howard (22-20-5 record, 3.02 goals against average, .909 save percentage in 52 games played) made 31 saves on 34 shots against for a .912 SV% in the win.

Meanwhile, B’s netminder, Jaroslav Halak (21-11-4, 2.40 GAA, .920 SV% in 39 GP) stopped 22 out of 27 shots faced (.815 SV%) in the loss.

Boston fell to 47-23-9 (103 points) on the season, but remained in control of 2nd place in the Atlantic Division. Detroit improved to 31-38-10 (72 points) and crept over the Buffalo Sabres for 6th in the Atlantic (Detroit leads in regulation-plus-overtime wins, 28-26).

The Red Wings finished the season series with the 2-1-1 advantage.

Kevan Miller returned to the lineup after missing the last 16 games with an upper body injury and was paired on the third defensive pair with Matt Grzelcyk.

Connor Clifton joined Steven Kampfer as the only healthy scratches, while Chris Wagner (undisclosed) did not take part in warmups and was replaced with Karson Kuhlman.

Kuhlman was placed on the second line right wing with DeBrusk and David Krejci, while Marcus Johansson slid down to the third line left wing alongside Charlie Coyle and Danton Heinen.

Sean Kuraly (fractured right hand) and John Moore (upper body) remain week-to-week while Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, juggles his lines.

Six seconds into Sunday night, Torey Krug was penalized for roughing Dylan McIlrath. Detroit did not convert on the ensuing power play, but they did kickstart momentum in their favor.

Midway through the first period, Mantha (20) fired a one-timer over Halak’s glove on the short side to give the Red Wings the lead, 1-0.

Larkin (38) and Tyler Bertuzzi (23) had the assists on Mantha’s first goal of the night at 10:26 of the first period.

A few minutes later, Andreas Athanasiou slashed Krejci and sent the Bruins on their first power play of the night at 13:38. It was unsuccessful and shortly followed by another Boston power play at 17:07 when Christoffer Ehn slashed Backes.

Grzelcyk cut the B’s skater advantage short when he slashed Athanasiou at 19:04 and the two clubs had three seconds of 4-on-4 action before an abbreviated power play for the Red Wings began.

As the seconds ticked away, it appeared as though the Bruins would be shorthanded to start the second period until Mantha (21) slapped another one-timer past Halak at 19:59 of the first period.

Niklas Kronwall (22) and Bertuzzi (24) tallied the assists on Mantha’s power play goal and Detroit led, 2-0, entering the first intermission.

After one period of play, the Red Wings led, 2-0, on the scoreboard and, 9-8, in shots on goal. Detroit also held the advantage in blocked shots (6-5), takeaways (2-1), giveaways (7-0) and hits (4-3), while Boston led in face-off win percentage (56-44).

The Red Wings were 1/2 on the power play entering the second period and the Bruins were 0/2.

Early in the middle frame, Charlie McAvoy sent Krejci up the ice with DeBrusk on a rush. Krejci sent a lead saucer pass to bring DeBrusk behind the Detroit defense and on his own towards the net, whereby DeBrusk (25) roofed a shot over Howard’s blocker to put the B’s on the scoreboard, 2-1.

Krejci (49) and McAvoy (20) had the assists on DeBrusk’s goal at 2:01 of the second period.

McAvoy later sent the puck over the glass and out of play at 8:12 of the second period and received an automatic delay of game penalty.

Nearing the end of the resulting penalty kill, Brandon Carlo worked the puck up to Marchand as the Bruins winger entered the zone on a two-on-one with Patrice Bergeron.

Marchand slid the puck over to Bergeron, awaiting a return pass while Bergeron dragged the rubber biscuit around Mantha as the Red Wings forward dove in a desperate attempt to breakup a passing lane.

Bergeron pulled the puck to his backhand and sent it across the slot for Marchand (35) to blast a one-timer past Howard as the Detroit goaltender slid across the crease.

The goal was Marchand’s 26th career shorthanded goal and put Marchand in sole possession of the Bruins franchise record for most career shorthanded goals with the club (Rick Middleton is now 2nd with 25).

Bergeron (46) and Carlo (7) notched the assists on Marchand’s shorthanded goal at 9:50 of the second period.

About five minutes later, Luke Witkowski skated across the ice and railed Joakim Nordstrom with a huge hit along the boards.

Noel Acciari took exception to the non-call as Witkowski charged an otherwise unsuspecting Nordstrom and exchanged fisticuffs with the Detroit skater.

Both players were assessed five-minute majors for fighting, while Acciari picked up an extra minor penalty for instigating and an automatic ten-minute misconduct as a result at 14:24.

Johansson served Acciari’s minor penalty while the Bruins were shorthanded, but Detroit’s ensuing power play wouldn’t last long as 20 seconds later, Athanasiou was called for interference at 14:44.

Neither team converted on the ensuing 4-on-4 action and abbreviated skater advantage for Boston thereafter.

With one minute remaining in the second period, Miller blasted a shot from the point that Backes (7) tipped behind Howard to give the Bruins their first lead of the night, 3-2.

Miller (7) and Krejci (50) had the assists on Backes’ goal at 19:00 of the second period.

Krejci reached the 50-assist plateau for the third time in his career (51 assists in 2008-09, 50 assists in 2013-14) with the secondary assist on the goal as Boston carried the, 3-2, lead into the second intermission.

Both teams were tied in shots on goal, 17-17, and takeaways, 2-2, after 40 minutes of play, while the Bruins led in blocked shots (15-8), hits (9-8) and face-off win% (53-47). The Red Wings led in giveaways (14-2) through two periods.

Detroit entered the third period 1/4 on the power play, while Boston was 0/3 on the skater advantage.

DeBrusk was penalized for interference 69 seconds into the third period and sent the Red Wings on the power play. Eight seconds later, Detroit tied the game.

Mantha (22) completed his first career hat trick on yet another one-timer– this time after Bertuzzi completed the pass through the low slot– and the Red Wings tied the game, 3-3, at 1:17 of the third period.

Bertuzzi (25) and Athanasiou (21) recorded the primary and secondary assists, respectively, on the goal as the hats were cleaned up off the ice at Little Caesars Arena.

On the ensuing face-off, Kronwall worked the puck up to Athanasiou through the neutral zone as Athanasiou sped into the attacking zone and dropped a pass back to Hirose (1) for the one-timer from the slot.

Hirose notched his first career NHL goal and the Red Wings led, 4-3, at 1:25 of the third period.

Athanasiou (22) and Kronwall (23) had the assists, but Detroit was not done scoring yet.

Midway through the third, Hronek (5) fired a one-timer from the face-off dot to the right of Halak past the Bruins goaltender and into the twine to make it, 5-3, Red Wings.

Mantha (22) notched his fourth point of the evening with the only assist on Hronek’s goal at 12:03 of the third period.

About a minute later, Hirose cut a rut to the penalty box for slashing Coyle at 13:17, but Boston’s power play didn’t capitalize on the skater advantage.

With less than four minutes remaining in regulation, Cassidy pulled Halak in favor of an extra attacker.

At 19:02 of the third period, Larkin (32) put Detroit in command of the, 6-3, victory with an empty net goal that was assisted by Mantha (23) and Hronek (15).

Upon the sound of the final horn, the Red Wings took home two points in a regulation win, despite trailing the Bruins in shots on goal (34-28), blocked shots (16-14) and face-off win% (52-48), but led in giveaways (16-4).

Detroit finished Sunday night 2/5 on the skater advantage, while the B’s went 0/4 on the power play.

Boston finishes the season swinging through Columbus on April 2nd, making a stop in Minnesota on April 4th and wrapping up the regular season on April 6th at home against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Bruins at Red Wings Preview: 3/31/2019

The Boston Bruins (47-22-9 record, 103 points, 2nd in the Atlantic Division) visit the Detroit Red Wings (30-38-10, 70 points, 7th in the Atlantic Division) at Little Caesars Arena for the final time this season on Sunday.

Boston has points in 17 out of their last 19 meetings against Detroit, amassing a 15-2-2 record in that span. This season, however, the Bruins are 1-1-1 this season against the Red Wings– most recently suffering a, 4-2, loss at TD Garden on Dec. 1st.

The B’s also lost, 3-2, in overtime at Detroit on Nov. 21st and downed the Red Wings, 8-2, on home ice on Oct. 13th this season.

As the season shifts its focus to the month of April and the looming 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Bruins look to wrap up the month of March with ten wins. They are 9-5-0 entering Sunday in March, while the Detroit is 7-6-1 this month.

The Red Wings are coming off a, 4-0, shutout over the New Jersey Devils on Friday, while the Bruins are coming off a, 4-1, loss to the Florida Panthers on Saturday.

Bruce Cassidy is expected to make some lineup adjustments with Kevan Miller (upper body) returning to Cassidy’s blue line after missing the last 16 games and likely will suit up alongside his teammate, Matt Grzelcyk, on the third defensive pairing.

As a result of Miller’s return, Connor Clifton will join Steven Kampfer as the only healthy scratches for the B’s on Sunday.

Karson Kuhlman was recalled from the Providence Bruins (AHL) on emergency basis as Boston kicks off a three-game road trip before their final game of the regular season next Saturday at home as Chris Wagner was not on the ice for warmups in Detroit.

With Wagner likely out of the action against the Red Wings, Kuhlman took rushes alongside Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci, with Cassidy reuniting the Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak line as his top line.

Marcus Johansson, Charlie Coyle and Danton Heinen are expected to form the third line with Joakim Nordstrom, Noel Acciari and David Backes filling their usual roles on the fourth line.

John Moore (upper body) and Sean Kuraly (fractured right hand) remain week-to-week.

After Tuukka Rask allowed three goals against in Saturday’s loss to the Panthers, Cassidy will start Jaroslav Halak (21-10-4 record, 2.33 goals against average, .923 save percentage in 38 games played) in Boston’s second game in as many nights.

Red Wings head coach, Jeff Blashill, will be without the services of Luke Glendening (undisclosed) and Jonathan Bernier (upper body).

As a result, Detroit recalled Dominic Turgeon and Kaden Fulcher from the Grand Rapids Griffins (AHL) with Turgeon, 23, likely to center the fourth line and Fulcher, 20, backing up Jimmy Howard (21-20-5, 3.02 GAA, .909 SV% in 51 GP) in net on Sunday.

Turgeon has 6-13–19 totals in 69 games for the Griffins this season and was the 63rd overall pick of the 2014 NHL Draft by the Red Wings.

Fulcher spent part of this season with the Toledo Walleye (ECHL) and amassed a 15-7-6 record, 3.00 GAA and .899 SV% in 28 games played prior to being reassigned to Grand Rapids. He signed as an undrafted free agent with Detroit in October 2017.

With Glendening missing the action against Boston, the Red Wings will not have a single player play a full 82-game season for the first time since 1996-97 when Steve Yzerman led Detroit in games played with 81.

Bernier was hurt in the second period on Friday and replaced by Howard prior to the start of the third period against New Jersey.

Dylan Larkin leads the Red Wings with 31-37–68 totals in 72 games played this season.

Pastrnak scores hat trick in Boston’s, 6-3, win over Rangers

David Pastrnak had a five-point night (three goals, two assists) as he led the Boston Bruins to a, 6-3, victory over the New York Rangers on Wednesday at TD Garden.

Brad Marchand had three assists in the effort and Jake DeBrusk, Patrice Bergeron and Charlie McAvoy also had goals for Boston in the win.

Bruins goaltender, Jaroslav Halak (21-10-4 record, 2.33 goals against average, .923 save percentage in 38 games played), made 20 saves on 23 shots faced for an .870 SV% in the winning effort, while New York’s Henrik Lundqvist (18-21-10, 3.05 GAA, .907 SV% in 50 GP) stopped 26 out of 32 shots faced for an .813 SV% in the loss.

The B’s improved to 47-21-9 (103 points) on the season and remain in command of 2nd place in the Atlantic Division, while the Rangers fell to 29-34-17 (71 points) and stuck in 7th place in the Metropolitan Division.

Marcus Johansson (lung contusion) returned to the second line right wing after missing the last ten games and Torey Krug (concussion) returned to action alongside Brandon Carlo on the second defensive pair after missing the last six games.

Meanwhile, Kevan Miller (upper body) and Matt Grzelcyk (upper body) were ruled out of the action on Wednesday by Bruce Cassidy, but likely to return to full contact practice on Friday.

Cassidy also provided an update on John Moore (upper body) and indicated the defender would be out “week-to-week”, joining Sean Kuraly (fractured right hand) on the longer prognosis for a return to the lineup.

With Johansson and Krug back in the lineup, Karson Kuhlman was the only healthy scratch (and later reassigned to Providence (AHL) during the second intermission).

Connor Clifton shifted down to the third defensive pairing with Steven Kampfer in place of the injured Moore.

The Rangers had slight miscalculation with the number of skaters allowed on the ice at one time while their goaltender was still in the crease.

As a result, Pavel Buchnevich served New York’s bench minor for too many on the ice at 2:29 of the first period.

Boston went on the power play for the first time Wednesday evening and the first time with Krug back in the lineup on the power play unit.

It only took the B’s 19 seconds on the ensuing power play to convert on the scoreboard.

Marchand received a give-and-go from Bergeron and threw the puck over to Pastrnak (34) for the one-timer from one knee and Pastrnak’s first goal of the evening at 2:48 of the first period.

Boston led, 1-0, thanks to Pastrnak’s power play goal, with the assists credited to Marchand (61) and Bergeron (45).

Late in the opening frame, Zdeno Chara sent the puck over the glass and was automatically charged with a delay of game minor infraction at 14:51.

Boston’s penalty killing unit almost killed off Chara’s minor, but was bitten late in New York’s first power play of the night as Mika Zibanejad (29) tied the game, 1-1.

Ryan Strome (14) and Buchnevich (16) tallied the assists on Zibanejad’s first goal of the night at 16:29.

After one period of play, the Bruins and Rangers were tied, 1-1, on the scoreboard, while Boston led in shots on goal (13-10) and blocked shots (5-4).

New York led in takeaways (3-1), giveaways (4-3), hits (12-8) and face-off win percentage (74-26) heading into the dressing room for the first intermission.

Both teams were 1/1 on the power play entering the second period.

Jimmy Vesey tripped Pastrnak to kick things off in the middle frame at 1:46 of the second period. The Bruins did not convert on the resulting power play.

Almost midway through the second period, after Cassidy adjusted his lines, David Krejci worked a backhand pass over to Pastrnak (35) for the one-timer in the low slot and the B’s took the lead once again, 2-1, at 9:15.

Krejci (47) and Krug (43) notched the assists on Pastrnak’s second goal of the night as Pastrnak tied his career-high in goals.

With an assist on the goal, Krug amassed his 284th career point (all with Boston), which is the most by an American-born player in Bruins franchise history.

Moments later, Pastrnak hooked Kevin Shattenkirk at 13:12 and McAvoy followed suit hooking Shattenkirk almost a minute after Pastrnak was released from the penalty box at 15:58.

The Rangers did not capitalize on either power play opportunity.

Late in the period, Lias Andersson delivered a back-check to Bergeron along the boards in the corner of the B’s attacking zone where Bergeron’s career nearly came to an end on Oct. 27, 2007 thanks to then Philadelphia Flyers defender, Randy Jones, delivering a hit from behind that left Bergeron with a broken nose and a major concussion.

History aside, Andersson left his feet as he backed into Bergeron’s face with an elbow and Bergeron did not take exception to the incident.

The Bruins veteran and alternate captain immediately began to rough up Andersson as the two tangled to the ice, leaving Andersson with two roughing penalties and Bergeron with one minor for roughing– yielding a power play for Boston at 18:29.

Though the skater advantage would carryover into third period, Boston did not score on the resulting power play while Andersson was in the box.

After 40 minutes of play, the Bruins led, 2-1, on the scoreboard and, 22-16, in shots on goal.

Boston also held the advantage in blocked shots (8-5), while the Rangers maintained the lead in takeaways (5-4), giveaways (9-6), hits (19-16) and face-off win% (57-43).

Each club was 1/3 on the power play entering the third period.

DeBrusk (24) made it a two-goal game for the Bruins at 3:19 of the third period with his one-timer goal on a no-look pass from Pastrnak through the low slot while Lundqvist was behind the play.

Pastrnak (40) and Krejci (48) tabbed the assists on DeBrusk’s goal.

Almost two minutes later, Strome (16) answered back in a hurry.

While Boston’s defense was outnumbered in the slot, Strome banked a shot off of Halak’s pad and through the five-hole to make it a one-goal game once again.

Brett Howden (14) and Brady Skjei (17) had the assists as New York trailed, 3-2, at 5:43 of the third period.

Midway through the final frame of regulation, Strome was penalized for holding at 12:38.

Less than a minute into the power play, Pastrnak (36) completed his 4th career regular season hat trick (and 3rd this season) as he blasted a shot past Lundqvist on the short side over his blocker.

Krug (44) and Marchand (62) had the assists as hats fell upon the ice at TD Garden at 12:52.

With his third goal of the game, Pastrnak established a new career-high in goals with 36 goals in 61 games played this season (he had 35 goals in 82 games last season).

Moments later, New York was called for too many men for the second time of the night at 15:03.

Vinni Lettieri served the bench minor for the Rangers, which quickly became a 5-on-3 power play for Boston after Brendan Smith high-sticked Charlie Coyle at 15:34.

While on the two-skater advantage, Bergeron (32) redirected a shot from Pastrnak past Lundqvist to give the Bruins a three-goal lead at 16:23.

Pastrnak (41) and Marchand (63) collected the assists on Bergeron’s power play goal and the Bruins led, 5-2, as Pastrnak picked up his 5th point of the night.

The 22-year-old winger joined Barry Pederson (3x), Jason Allison (2x) and Bobby Orr (2x) as the only Bruins players with multiple five-point games in their careers (regular season or playoffs) before the age of 23.

McAvoy (7) followed Bergeron’s goal with one of his own on a twine-seeking missile at 17:12 to give Boston a four-goal lead, 6-2.

Chara (9) and Coyle (21) had the assists on McAvoy’s power play goal as the Bruins notched three goals on four shots in the span of their two-skater advantage.

About a minute later, Andersson found himself tangled up again with a Bruins veteran– this time, David Backes— as the two players each received roughing minors.

Backes earned an additional roughing penalty that was served by Johansson at 18:10 as the Rangers went on the power play for the last time on Wednesday.

While on the skater advantage, New York generated a rebound off Halak and Zibanejad (30) buried the puck in the net with Halak in desperation to cut the lead to a deficit of three goals at 19:56.

Vladislav Namestnikov (18) and Tony DeAngelo (25) notched the assists as the Rangers trailed, 6-3.

At the final horn, Boston had beaten New York, 6-3, and finished the night leading in shots on goal (32-23) and hits (27-24).

The Rangers finished Wednesday night’s action leading in giveaways (12-10) and face-off win% (52-48), while both teams had nine blocked shots apiece.

New York went 2/4 on the power play and the Bruins went 4/6 on the skater advantage.

The Bruins host the Florida Panthers on Saturday before traveling to Detroit on Sunday to close out the month of March.

Boston finishes the season swinging through Columbus on April 2nd, making a stop in Minnesota on April 4th and wrapping up the regular season on April 6th at home against the Tampa Bay Lightning.