Nick, Cap’n and Pete recap the last two weeks of trades and first few days of free agency 2K19.
Jake DeBrusk had the defacto game-winning goal in the Boston Bruins, 6-3, victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night at TD Garden as David Krejci added a pair of goals and Danton Heinen notched three points in the win.
It was a rematch from January 1st’s 2019 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Notre Dame Stadium, in which Boston defeated Chicago, 4-2.
Tuukka Rask (18-8-4 record, 2.38 goals against average, .920 save percentage in 31 games played) made 23 saves on 26 shots against for an .885 SV% in the win for Boston, while Collin Delia (6-3-3, 3.23 GAA, .920 SV% in 31 GP) stopped 31 out of 37 shots faced (.838 SV%) in the loss for Chicago.
Boston improves to 32-17-8 (72 points) and stayed put in 3rd place in the Atlantic Division, while the Blackhawks fell to 23-25-9 (55 points) and remain 7th (last) in the Central Division.
The Bruins also improved to 5-0-1 in the month of February while snapping Chicago’s seven-game winning streak.
Bruce Cassidy earned his 100th career victory behind the bench for Boston in the win.
He is the second-fastest B’s coach to reach the milestone, having done so in 166 games (Tom Johnson holds the franchise record for fastest to 100 wins in 138 games coached). Cassidy is 100-44-21 in his tenure with the Bruins since becoming the head coach on Feb. 7, 2017.
Adding to the impressive feat, Cassidy was originally drafted by the Blackhawks 18th overall in the 1983 NHL Draft.
David Pastrnak sustained a left thumb injury on Sunday night after attending a sponsorship dinner with several teammates. He underwent surgery and will be out at least two weeks.
As a result of Pastrnak’s injury, Krejci is the only player for Boston to suit up in every game this season.
Cassidy was left with minimal line changes to account for Pastrnak’s injury, placing DeBrusk alongside Peter Cehlarik and Krejci on the second line, while bringing back David Backes into the fold on the third line with Joakim Nordstrom and Trent Frederic.
Alex DeBrincat (29) kicked things off with a floater from about the face-off circle in the attacking zone that Rask inadvertently redirected off his blocker and into the net behind him, giving Chicago the first lead of the night, 1-0.
Dominik Kahun (17) and Dylan Strome (23) recorded the assists on DeBrincat’s goal at 4:22 of the first period. With the goal, DeBrincat established a new career-high in goals and is on a nine-game point streak.
After Patrick Kane pushed Marchand into Delia, Marchand was assessed a two-minute minor penalty for goaltender interference at 7:12 of the opening period.
Zdeno Chara followed that up with a subtle roughing infraction against Kane at 8:23.
The Blackhawks had 49 seconds of a 5-on-3 power play opportunity, but could not convert on either skater advantage.
A little over a minute into the ensuing power play, Krejci (13) unloaded a one-timer on a cross-ice pass from Patrice Bergeron past Delia to tie the game, 1-1, at 14:47.
Bergeron (32) and DeBrusk (6) tallied the assists on Krejci’s power play goal.
Just 49 seconds later, the Bruins were in command of their first lead of the night as Heinen (9) put home the rebound as the puck bounced off of Marchand on a pass from Bergeron to make it, 2-1, Boston at 15:36.
Marchand (45) and Chara (5) were credited with the primary and secondary assists, respectively.
Late in the first period, Marchand again got his name on the scoresheet as he one-timed his 22nd goal of the season past the Blackhawks goaltender.
Heinen (9) and Bergeron (33) notched the assists on the goal at 18:59 of the first period and the Bruins led, 3-1.
After one period, Boston led, 3-1, on the scoreboard and, 14-7, in shots on goal. The B’s also held the advantage in blocked shots (5-4), takeaways (5-2) and hits (7-6), while Chicago led in giveaways (7-3) and face-off win percentage (54-46).
The Blackhawks went 0/2 on the power play, while the Bruins were 1/1 entering the first intermission.
Erik Gustafsson tripped Krejci at 11:49 of the second period as both teams settled into a cool rhythm whereby the Bruins largely dominated possession and shots on goal, but neither team could muster one into the twine until late in the middle frame.
Connor Murphy cross-checked Heinen at 15:42 and Jonathan Toews high-sticked Bruins defender, Torey Krug, at 16:02, but Boston could not convert any of their three power play opportunities in the second period.
Shortly after Chicago killed Toews’ minor penalty, the B’s caught the Blackhawks in the vulnerable minute after a skater advantage with DeBrusk (15) tipping in a slap pass from Krejci at 18:06 of the middle frame to make it, 4-1, Boston.
Krejci (32) and Marchand (46) had the assists on DeBrusk’s first goal in 13 games.
Not to be outdone, Duncan Keith (3) unloaded a blast from the point in the final minute of the second period to make it a two-goal game.
Murphy (6) and Kahun (18) had the assists on Keith’s goal at 19:37 and the Bruins went into the second intermission leading the Blackhawks, 4-2.
After 40 minutes of play, Boston led in shots on goal, 28-13, including a, 14-6, advantage in the second period alone.
Chicago held the advantage in blocked shots (9-8) and giveaways (16-8) through two periods, while the B’s led in takeaways (9-6), hits (19-13) and face-off win% (60-40).
The Blackhawks were still 0/2 on the power play, while the Bruins were 1/4 on the skater advantage entering the third period.
Sean Kuraly got things going in the third period with a hooking penalty at 1:16 of the final frame of regulation, but the Blackhawks didn’t convert on their last power play chance of the night.
A couple minutes later, after Noel Acciari delivered a clean hit on Kane, John Hayden found Acciari and dropped the gloves. Despite the two exchanging fisticuffs, the scrap was only so brief and thus, only worthy of matching roughing minor penalties at 3:53 of the third period.
During the ensuing 4-on-4 action, Gustafsson (12) waltzed through the slot and sniped a wrist shot past Rask’s blocker side to make it a one-goal game.
Keith (21) and Kane (49) had the assists on Gustafsson’s goal as the Blackhawks trailed the Bruins, 4-3, at 4:48 of the third period.
With his assist on the goal, Kane matched the longest assist streak in Blackhawks franchise history, which was set by the late Stan Mikita from Nov. 26th to Dec. 25, 1967 (14 games played in that duration).
Strome slashed Kevan Miller at 5:42 and the Bruins went on the power play for the fifth time Tuesday night.
Late in the ensuing skater advantage, Cehlarik (4) received a pass from Heinen and fired a one-timer into a mostly empty net as Delia was caught behind the play.
Boston led, 5-3, thanks to Cehlarik’s goal at 7:18 of the third period. Heinen (10) and Krug (35) had the assists on the power play goal.
Finally, late in the third period, Krejci (14) notched his second goal of the game at 15:42, with Marchand (47) and DeBrusk (7) picking up the tab on the assists.
The Bruins led, 6-3, and by the time the final horn signaled the end of the game, they had secured the win in their third straight home game.
Boston finished the night leading in shots on goal, 37-26, despite being outshot, 13-9, in the third period alone. The B’s also led in his (26-18) and face-off win% (56-44), while Chicago finished the game ahead in blocked shots (12-11) and giveaways (22-10).
The B’s went 2/5 on the power play Tuesday night and the Blackhawks went 0/3.
The Bruins begin a two-week road trip starting in Anaheim against the Ducks on Friday before visiting the Los Angeles Kings (on Sat.), San Jose Sharks (Feb.18th), Vegas Golden Knights (Feb. 20th) and St. Louis Blues (Feb. 23rd).
Boston’s next home game this month is Feb. 26th against the Sharks.
It’s Sunday Funday in the NHL, as there’s four games on today’s schedule.
The action starts at 6 p.m. in Manitoba when St. Louis visits Winnipeg, followed an hour later by Minnesota at Chicago. Tonight’s co-nightcaps (Calgary at Vancouver [SN] and Florida at Vegas) find an early start this evening, as their opening puck drops are slated for 8 p.m. All times Eastern.
Believe it or not, I can come up with a reason to watch each and every one of tonight’s contests:
- St. Louis at Winnipeg: Not only is this an important Central Division showdown, but it’s also Chris Thorburn‘s first return to Winnipeg – his home for the past six years – since joining the Blues.
- Minnesota at Chicago: This rivalry has provided some thrillers in the past, and I expect more of the same tonight between these playoff hopefuls.
- Calgary at Vancouver: With both teams trailing the Sharks in the standings, this rivalry is even bigger than usual.
- Florida at Vegas: Connor Brickley was a Golden Knight for 10 days this offseason, so I suppose this counts as an awkward homecoming, but this game is more about Head Coach Gerard Gallant, Jon Marchessault and Reilly Smith showing the Panthers how silly they were for letting them leave.
Since we featured the Blues and Jets yesterday, that matchup that is calling my name today is taking place at the United Center. Off to the Windy City!
As the standings currently stand, the 16-11-5 Blackhawks currently occupy eighth place in the Western Conference and the second wild card position. Though they’ve struggled the last few times we’ve featured them in the DtFR Game of the Day series, it seems they’re finally figuring things out, as they’re currently riding a four-game winning streak.
The biggest reason for this recent success has been the dominating play of 15-7-2 Corey Crawford. Having been in net for all four games, he’s managed an impressive .952 save percentage and 1.45 GAA since December 8, both efforts among the top five of the 27 goaltenders with at least three starts in that time span.
If not for Crawford, the Hawks might not have been on this hot streak considering his defense has allowed him to face 125 shots over the last four games. Averaging out to 31.25 per game, its the fifth-highest total any netminder has faced since December 8.
Crawford’s considerable work load certainly isn’t the fault of John Hayden, Nick Schmaltz or Brent Seabrook. During this streak, they’ve respectively thrown a team-leading 14 hits, managed five takeaways and blocked nine shots. While those efforts have been impressive, it obviously hasn’t inspired their teammates all that much.
For a team to move into playoff position, another has to fall out of the picture. That team was 17-12-3 Minnesota, a team who just had a four-game winning streak of their own snapped yesterday by the Oilers.
Just like Chicago, the Wild have been finding most of their success of late with some incredible goaltending. Unfortunately, 12-8-2 starter Devan Dubnyk suffered a lower body injury on December 12, so it’ll be interesting to see how 9-5-4 Alex Stalock performs in his stead.
If his play since December 12 has been any indicator, it seems the Wild should be just fine. Since replacing Dubnyk in Tuesday’s game against the Flames, he’s posted a .946 save percentage that includes a shutout against the Maple Leafs’ potent offense.
Even with how well he’s played so far, I have concerns that he’ll start regressing to the mean due to the average-at-best defense playing in front of him. The Wild have allowed an average of 31.84 shots against per game this season, and most of that was before Jared Spurgeon and his team-leading 2.21 blocks-per-game went down with a groin injury.
This is the third of five meetings this season between these two clubs. The last time they met was November 4 at the Xcel Energy Center, and they played to a 2-0 Hawks victory. Given Minnesota’s defense, I have to lean towards the Blackhawks duplicating that success and earning two points this evening.
Earning his first shutout of the season, First Star of the Game Carter Hutton led the St. Louis Blues to a 2-0 victory against the Winnipeg Jets at Scottrade Center in yesterday’s DtFR Game of the Day.
Meanwhile, Steve Mason also posted a solid effort by saving 28-of-30 shots faced (.933 save percentage) – including all 18 at even strength – but two power play offerings were able to sneak past him.
The first, which proved to be the game-winner, was buried 9:16 into the contest courtesy of Second Star Vladimir Tarasenko (Alex Steen and Colton Parayko). With Andrew Copp in the penalty box for tripping Brayden Schenn, Steen slung a wrist shot at Mason from the right face-off dot that was deflected towards the opposite dot. Unfortunately for the netminder, Tarasenko was waiting to collect the rebound, and he elevated his wrister over the diving Mason to give the Notes a 1-0 lead.
After that, Mason kept the Blues off the board until only 2:26 remained in regulation. Third Star Vince Dunn (Tarasenko and Schenn) took advantage of Patrik Laine‘s double minor penalty for hi sticking Robert Bortuzzo to sneak a wrister past the netminder and set the 2-0 final score.
For the first time since December 6-7, home teams in the DtFR Game of the Day series have won consecutive games. That elevates their record to 41-24-9, which is 16 points better than the roadies’ record.
Nick and Connor analyze the Sami Vatanen–Adam Henrique trade between the Anaheim Ducks and New Jersey Devils, recap the standings at the end of November and talk what’s next for the Pittsburgh Penguins with Matt Murray out week-to-week. Connor also breaks down the potential scenarios for Ian Cole and the Penguins.
Thank goodness that work is finally done for the week. Time to sit back and take in the weekend’s hockey!
The weekend starts early in Vegas, as a 3 p.m. local start time against Colorado (TVAS) means a 6 p.m. puck drop on the East Coast. The usual starting time of 7 p.m. brings with it two contests (Ottawa at New Jersey [RDS2] and Winnipeg at Columbus), followed by St. Louis at Carolina half an hour later. Nashville pays a visit to Chicago (NHLN/TVAS) at 8:30 p.m., with tonight’s nightcap – Dallas at Calgary (SN360) – waiting until 9 p.m. to get underway.
All times Eastern unless otherwise noted.
I was going to complain about featuring the second Nashville at Chicago matchup of a season that is not even a month old, but upon remembering how competitive and entertaining their first meeting was, there’s no other choice! To the Windy City we go!
Now, with this being the second time in two weeks that this matchup has been featured, I’m sure I don’t need to rehash how the Predators swept the Hawks in four games by a combined score of 13-3 that included two shutouts. I’m sure I also don’t need to go over how the eighth-seeded Preds went on to win the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl.
Oh, I guess I just did anyways. As a fan of one of Chicago’s rivals, I guess I simply couldn’t help myself.
Whether or not that playoff elimination still motivates the Blackhawks against Nashville (I’d bet the house it does), we have more current data to help us preview and predict this game.
For starters, we know that the Hawks needed overtime to secure a 2-1 victory at the United Center the last time these squads met on October 14. You can read a slightly more in-depth recap here, but the main thing to know is, with the help of LW Scott Hartnell and D P.K. Subban, F Filip Forsberg got Nashville on the board late in the second period before F Patrick Sharp (F John Hayden and D Cody Franson) leveled the game in the closing six minutes of regulation and W Brandon Saad (F Patrick Kane and D Duncan Keith) cleaned things up in overtime.
If only everything in life was as simple as a one-sentence game recap.
That low scoring affair proved to be a sign of things to come, as both teams have scored only a total of nine goals in four games played since departing the United Center that Saturday night, tying them for the fourth-lowest goal production in that time span.
For Chicago, the downturn in scoring has been no fault of Kane’s. Showtime has averaged a point-per-game in those four games, including three goals. The Predators have also had their own offensive standouts in Forsberg and D Roman Josi, as both have 2-3-5 totals since October 15.
Instead, Chicago and Nashville have continued their strong defensive efforts to find wins.
The Predators in particular have been studs at keeping opponents off the scoreboard of late. In the past two weeks, they’ve allowed only seven goals against in four games, an effort that’s overshadowed only by Tampa Bay’s 10 goals against in six games played in the same stretch of time.
It’s no secret how good Smashville’s defense is, but D Alexei Emelin has been playing at another level since his last visit to Chicago. He’s blocked two shots-per-game to lead the team while also averaging 3.3 hits-per-contest. Through his bold leadership while D Ryan Ellis is recovering from an offseason knee surgery, the Predators have allowed only 29.8 shots against-per-game for the entire season, the fourth-best mark in the NHL.
Meanwhile, Chicago’s (t)eighth-best 2.6 goals against-per-game is due to the play of only one man: G Corey Crawford. Never before has Crawford posted a season save percentage over .93 percent, but he’s currently in possession of a .936 save rate that is second only to G Jonathan Quick‘s unbelievable .944. Considering the Blackhawks’ defense allows a 35.6 shots against-per-game that is second-worst in the league, Crawford being at the top of his game may be an integral piece to the success of this team both tonight and for the remainder of the campaign.
Even though the Blackhawks have a decent 3-1-1 record at home this season – including their victory over Nashville – I’m actually leaning towards the Preds taking this game. Thanks to Emelin, Nashville looks like it’s finally clicking without Ellis and will be a tough out for a Chicago team struggling to score.
In yesterday’s preview, I predicted a barn-burner would go the Senators’ way. In yesterday’s DtFR Game of the Day, the Ottawa Senators beat the Philadelphia Flyers 5-4 at the Canadian Tire Centre.
There’s no better way to start a game than with three unanswered goals in the first period. That’s exactly what Ottawa did, starting with D Dion Phaneuf‘s (C Filip Chlapik and F Chris DiDomenico) power play slap shot only 91 seconds into the game (what D Brandon Manning was doing slashing DiDomenico only 36 seconds into the game, I’ll never know). D Mark Borowiecki (F Mike Hoffman and First Star of the Game C Jean-Gabriel Pageau) scored his first goal of the season 8:19 later to give Ottawa a 2-0 lead, followed by Pageau (Third Star D Erik Karlsson) burying one of his patented shorthanded wrist shots with 6:32 remaining in the frame to further extend the Sens’ advantage.
Whatever Head Coach Dave Hakstol screamed during the intermission certainly worked, because the Flyers were able to respond with two goals of their own in the second period. RW Jakub Voracek (Second Star C Sean Couturier and D Ivan Provorov) finally stashed his first goal of the season with 5:30 remaining in the second period, followed by F Travis Konecny (D Radko Gudas) only 53 seconds later to pull Philly back within a 3-2 deficit. Much to the delight of the home fans, RW Mark Stone (F Ryan Dzingel and Karlsson) was able to bury a backhanded shot with 2:23 remaining in the period to reclaim a two-goal advantage for the Senators going into the second intermission.
With 9:27 remaining in regulation, F Tom Pyatt (C Nate Thompson and Pageau) scored what proved to be a very important goal. Though Pageau earned the hockey assist, this breakaway goal was almost entirely set up by Thompson. After receiving Pageau’s pass at his own blue line, Thompson immediately connected with Pyatt in the neutral zone, who was screaming up the far boards towards G Michal Neuvirth. With no help, D Shayne Gostisbehere was forced to eliminate the passing lane between Pyatt and Thompson, leaving the forward in a one-on-one situation with the netminder. Pyatt didn’t miss on that opportunity, beating Neuvirth with a pinger off the right post
Pyatt’s tally ended up converting from a brace into the game-winner due to the tremendous comeback effort by the Flyers. With 4:42 remaining in regulation, Provorov (Konecny and Couturier) buried a slapper on G Craig Anderson to pull Philadelphia back within a 5-3 deficit. The comeback became even more realistic when Couturier (Gostisbehere and Voracek) scored a deflection to set the score at 5-4 with 106 seconds remaining before the final horn. But, even with Neuvirth pulled for the extra attacker, the Flyers could not find a leveling goal.
Anderson earned the victory after saving 36-of-40 shots faced (.9 save percentage), leaving the loss to Neuvirth, who saved 23-of-28 (.821).
Home teams in the DtFR Game of the Day are a win away from the business week streak, as they’ve won the last four games. That elevates their record to 14-6-4, which is a solid 10 points better than the visitors.