Tag Archives: John Tavares

Numbers Game: 2018-19 League Forecast Entering December

We’re just over a week into December, I know, but let’s all hop in the time machine and take a retroactive look at how the rest of the season should pan out based on how the league standings were through November 30, 2018.

Things have started to cool in places around the league (like Carolina), while other clubs (like Buffalo) have heated up to become serious playoff contenders– so let’s take a look at how everything should shake out between now and the first couple of weeks of April.

There’s no guarantees with any forecast, but general indications start to get a little clearer once the season’s hit the quarter-mark and American Thanksgiving has come and gone.

Realistically, if your team is anywhere between 1st and 5th in your division, you’re in for the ride of your life still from now through the end of the regular season. If you’re 6th, 7th or 8th, well, it’s never too early to start thinking about the Draft lottery (plus the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship’s coming up at the end of the month, so that’s exciting too) or about how many games it would take to go on an incredibly hot streak and jump back into the playoff picture.

Nothing’s impossible.

Without further ado, it’s time to glance around the league and breakdown some of the unforeseen circumstances that are yet to come.

Projected Standings After Two Months

Eastern Conference

Atlantic Division

  1. y-Tampa Bay Lightning, 108 points (26 GP so far)
  2. x-Boston Bruins, 104 points (25 GP so far)
  3. x-Toronto Maple Leafs, 101 points (26 GP so far)
  4. wc1-Buffalo Sabres, 91 points (27 GP so far)
  5. Montreal Canadiens, 91 points (25 GP so far)
  6. Detroit Red Wings, 85 points (25 GP so far)
  7. Florida Panthers, 84 points (24 GP so far)
  8. Ottawa Senators, 83 points (26 GP so far)

The Tampa Bay Lightning rightfully lay claim to the crown as the leader of the Atlantic Division at regular season’s end. It doesn’t matter that Steven Stamkos has yet to record a point in six career Game 7s. The Lightning have Nikita Kucherov, Tyler Johnson and Brayden Point on a line of their own. They don’t even need Stamkos.

Just kidding, they still do, because that other No. 91 signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the offseason and just think how explosive a playoff matchup of Tampa and Toronto could be in the Battle of John Tavares Signed Where Leafs Fans Wanted Steven Stamkos To Sign Just A Couple Of Offseasons Ago, But Didn’t Because He Stayed With The Lightning.

You know it’s going to happen.

Actually, in the latest forecast entering December, the Boston Bruins slide out of the top spot, because injuries continue to plague their season. However, if they can recover to full health, there’s a good chance they might usurp the Maple Leafs and finish 2nd in the division, unlike what current standings dictate.

But regaining full health is a major stipulation and part of the reason why– while Toronto is 3rd in this forecast– there’s a good chance the Bruins might (probably will) slip further as January’s forecast nears.

This is about the time where it’s important to note the overarching focus on this forecast should be on where each team is positioned and how close in points they are to those above and below before placing any concrete emphasis on how things play out from now through the first week of April 2019.

The Buffalo Sabres make the biggest gain in the Atlantic Division, jumping up four spots in the division standings from the basement to 4th place and a playoff berth (albeit a wild card spot).

The Sabres 10-game winning streak– combined with the additions of Rasmus Dahlin and Jeff Skinner in the offseason– proved to be a season-defining stretch of games as Buffalo returns to Stanley Cup Playoff action for the first time since 2011 (despite the current 0-3-2 run in their last five games).

On the outside looking in, the Montreal Canadiens slipped a spot and might be a pretender– especially if Carey Price (11-8-4 record, 2.92 goals against average, .902 save percentage in 23 games played) continues to struggle. To his credit, his GAA is under three now, so there’s that.

The Detroit Red Wings gained some traction with the ongoing lack of focus in Ottawa Senators video reviews and the Florida Panthers injuries.

Metropolitan Division

  1. p-Washington Capitals, 108 points (25 GP so far)
  2. x-Columbus Blue Jackets, 99 points (25 GP so far)
  3. x-Pittsburgh Penguins, 98 points (24 GP so far)
  4. wc2-New York Rangers, 92 points (26 GP so far)
  5. New York Islanders, 90 points (24 GP so far)
  6. Carolina Hurricanes, 87 points (25 GP so far)
  7. Philadelphia Flyers, 86 points (24 GP so far)
  8. New Jersey Devils, 81 points (24 GP so far)

The Washington Capitals remain in control of the Metropolitan Division with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins in tow.

Of course, Columbus and Pittsburgh are worth keeping a close eye on as the Blue Jackets have been all over the place near the top and the Penguins have yet to be in playoff position since– actually, pretty much never so far this season.

Plus there’s the whole “second-half of the season surge” we’re still waiting to see from Mike Sullivan’s bunch. That’ll almost assure Pittsburgh of a playoff berth, if not in a divisional spot, at least.

The New York Rangers gained two spots since entering November, which means the rebuild’s over!

Just kidding.

Look how close the Rangers, New York Islanders and Carolina Hurricanes are forecasted to be in points. Even the Philadelphia Flyers have a chance– mathematically speaking, of course.

The battle for the last wild card spot in the Eastern Conference is going to come down to one of the teams in the Big Apple and Carolina, especially since the rest of the division lacks clarity.

Meanwhile, the New Jersey Devils are in the dumps. Taylor Hall isn’t a flash in the pan, but the rest of the Devils are, it appears.

Western Conference

Central Division

  1. z-Nashville Predators, 104 points (26 GP so far)
  2. x-Minnesota Wild, 98 points (25 GP so far)
  3. x-Winnipeg Jets, 97 points (24 GP so far)
  4. wc1-Colorado Avalanche, 93 points (26 GP so far)
  5. wc2-Dallas Stars, 90 points (26 GP so far)
  6. St. Louis Blues, 88 points (24 GP so far)
  7. Chicago Blackhawks, 87 points (26 GP so far)

Both the Nashville Predators and Minnesota Wild remain in the 1-2 spots in the latest forecast. Despite the current hot streak from the Calgary Flames, the Predators are going to be the best team in the conference by the end of the regular season.

The Winnipeg Jets are starting to become like the Penguins under Sullivan’s reign in that Paul Maurice is bound to lead his team to a second-half of the season surge into a divisional spot (or higher).

Of course, there’s always a wild card– both in the literal wild card berth and dark horse standpoint– and that’s the Colorado Avalanche.

The Avs have a great chance at jumping up into a divisional spot, since they’ve gained three positions from the previous forecast entering November to the current forecast entering December. The fact of the matter is the Avalanche are a playoff contender– like last season– but with the added improvement of having built on last season’s experience.

Then there’s the Dallas Stars, who might find themselves landing in a wild card position by circumstance (have you even seen the Pacific Division?) and by luck in Jim Montgomery’s first season behind the bench.

Towards the cellar of the Central Division, the St. Louis Blues are bad, but not as bad as they are currently, which isn’t great news if you’re trying to lose for Jack Hughes.

But if you’re a Blues fan who hates rivals more than losing, there’s a positive takeaway– the Chicago Blackhawks are destined to finished last in the Central. They’re bad. Very bad.

Pacific Division

  1. y-San Jose Sharks, 97 points (26 GP so far)
  2. x-Anaheim Ducks, 97 points (28 GP so far)
  3. x-Calgary Flames, 93 points (26 GP so far)
  4. Vegas Golden Knights, 85 points (27 GP so far)
  5. Edmonton Oilers, 82 points (25 GP so far)
  6. Los Angeles Kings, 79 points (26 GP so far)
  7. Arizona Coyotes, 78 points (24 GP so far)
  8. Vancouver Canucks, 78 points (28 GP so far)

The San Jose Sharks’ grasp on the Pacific Division is loosening as the Anaheim Ducks are heating up as one of the hottest teams out west– and that’s not including the one with fire in their name.

San Jose should– should— hit their stride at some point and have everything click into place, but if they don’t the Ducks are hot on their tail. How close? Close enough to show there’s no difference in their forecast total points in the standings by the end of the regular season.

The Sharks could be first or they could be second. Perhaps the Calgary Flames have something to say about that.

It’s anybody’s game in the Pacific Division playoff berths, but one thing’s for sure, there’s not going to be a wild card team coming out of the Pacific.

For the Vegas Golden Knights, that means they’re really going to have to soar and never let their foot off the gas. Vegas only survived so much without Nate Schmidt in the lineup on their blue line– they can’t afford any more major bumps in the road.

The Edmonton Oilers have Ken Hitchcock behind the bench and while they might appear to be gaining ground, they’re sure to be just outside of the playoff window looking in like how Hitchcock’s Stars were last season. Just wait for the implosion.

In the bottom three, the Los Angeles Kings might not be as terrible as they have been if 1) Marco Sturm gets named head coach and Willie Desjardins’ interim basis comes to a close and 2) the Kings light a fire under their grizzled veterans and revive whatever’s left of them this season.

The Arizona Coyotes are on par with how Arizona’s been the last few seasons. Not great, but not terrible and sometimes downtrodden due to injury.

The hype surrounding the Vancouver Canucks in October and early November was just that– hype. No amount of Elias Pettersson, Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser can compensate for the holes on the blue line and lack of goaltending. It’s almost as if Canucks General Manager Jim Benning has been living a Groundhog Day career from year-to-year with Vancouver.

Their offense is good, their defense is suspect and their goaltending isn’t starter quality.

KREJCI PASSES NEELY, BRUINS BEAT LEAFS, 6-3

David Krejci (1-1–2 totals) surpassed Cam Neely for 10th place in the Boston Bruins all-time scoring list with his 591st and 592nd career points with Boston in Saturday night’s, 6-3, victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs at TD Garden.

Jaroslav Halak (9-4-2, 2.30 goals against average, .930 save percentage in 17 games played) made 29 saves on 32 shots against for a .906 SV% in the win for the Bruins, while Frederik Andersen (16-8-0, 2.50 GAA, .926 SV% in 24 GP) made 22 saves on 28 shots faced (.786 SV%) in 46:10 time on ice in the loss.

Garret Sparks (4-1-1, 2.84 GAA, .913 SV% in seven GP) replaced Andersen almost midway through the third period for Toronto and turned aside all four shots he faced in the remaining 13:47 TOI.

Boston improved to 15-10-4 (34 points) on the season and leapt back over the Montreal Canadiens for 4th place in the Atlantic Division and the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Maple Leafs fell to 20-9-1 (41 points) on the season and remain 2nd in the Atlantic Division– six points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning for the division lead.

With the win on Saturday, the Bruins are now 1-3-0 in the month of December and are being outscored, 15-10, in that four-game span.

Bruce Cassidy informed reporters prior to Saturday night’s matchup that Jake DeBrusk will miss the weekend’s games at home and in Ottawa as the young Bruins forward has “not [been] feeling well.”

DeBrusk had taken a puck to the back of the head on a shot from his own teammate on Nov. 26th in Toronto, which might be contributing to his current ailment, though it was not confirmed.

As a result of DeBrusk’s injury, Cassidy indicated Saturday night would mark Gemel Smith’s debut (and home debut) as a Bruin.

With DeBrusk out of the equation on the second line, Cassidy juggled the lines to keep Brad Marchand, Krejci and David Pastrnak together on the first line and Colby Cave centering Danton Heinen and David Backes to round out the top-six forwards.

Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson started the game on the third line between Ryan Donato and Joakim Nordstrom, while Smith slid in on the left side of Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner.

On defense, Torey Krug was paired with Brandon Carlo on the top defensive pair, with Matt Grzelcyk alongside his Boston University teammate, Charlie McAvoy.

John Moore and Steven Kampfer filled out the bottom defensive pairing for the Bruins with Halak getting the start in goal and Tuukka Rask likely to play Sunday in Ottawa.

Noel Acciari and Jeremy Lauzon were healthy scratches on Saturday, joining Zdeno Chara (lower body, left MCL), Patrice Bergeron (upper body), Urho Vaakanainen (concussion) and Kevan Miller (throat) in the press box.

McAvoy was penalized 13 seconds into the game for cross checking Maple Leafs forward, Mitch Marner, and the Leafs went on the power play for the first time of the night.

Toronto did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Both teams continued to trade chances until midway in the first period when Krejci and Jake Gardiner got tangled up and received matching roughing minors at 10:07.

While on the ensuing 4-on-4 action, Pastrnak sent a shot towards the goal for Forsbacka Karlsson to redirect, but Andersen made the initial save– that is, until he let up a rebound, which Forsbacka Karlsson (3) followed up on and poked the puck through the Maple Leafs goaltender to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead.

Pastrnak (13) and Grzelcyk (8) had the assists on the goal at 11:20 of the first period.

Entering the first intermission, Boston held onto a 1-0 lead, while Toronto led in shots on goal, 11-8. The Leafs also led in blocked shots (6-3), takeaways (13-3) and hits (11-8), meanwhile the B’s had the advantage in giveaways (4-2) and face-off win percentage (56-44).

Both teams were 0/1 on the power play.

Tyler Ennis kicked the action off in the second period with a tripping infraction as Smith went down to the ice at 6:14 of the middle frame. Boston couldn’t convert on the power play, but got a second chance on the skater advantage in the same period about 20 seconds after the first advantage expired.

Nazem Kadri caught Krejci with a stick and brought the veteran Bruins forward down at 8:34 and the Bruins went back on the power play.

Just 20 seconds into the ensuing advantage, Backes (3) fired a wrist shot past Andersen’s glove side to give the B’s a two-goal lead, 2-0, at 8:54 of the second period.

This, of course, after a mad scramble that led to Marchand (18) and Krug (13) being credited with the primary and secondary assists. 

John Tavares was guilty of slashing Gryzelcyk at 10:06, but the 5-on-4 power play for Boston wouldn’t last long as Backes hooked Maple Leafs defender, Nikita Zaitsev at 11:02.

For the next 1:05, both teams would play 4-on-4 action– at least, until  Gardiner boarded Krejci at 11:33 of the second period and sent the B’s on a rare 4-on-3 power play for 34 seconds.

As the string of soft calls started winding down, tempers started to flare on the ice.

Before long, Carlo and Nazem Kadri were at each other’s throats after a stoppage in play, which led to the exchanging of fisticuffs at 14:32.

The fight was just the 2nd fighting major of the season for the Maple Leafs, while it was both Kadri and Carlo’s first fight of the season.

Recently traded to the Vancouver Canucks, forward Josh Leivo  had the other fight for Toronto this season, while Carlo was involved in just the third fight of his young career (about one-a-season, so far).

Toronto began a short onslaught, but Halak stood tall and momentum swung Boston’s way as the Bruins sustained some attacking zone time and capitalized with a goal from the point.

Krug (1) wired a wrist shot past Andersen for his first goal of the season– and first goal in 25 games– to give the Bruins a three-goal lead.

Marchand (19) and Krejci (18) picked up the assists to make it, 3-0, Boston at 17:45 of the second period, marking the first time since Nov. 24th (against the Montreal Canadiens) that the B’s had tallied at least three goals in a game.

With his assist on the play, Krejci officially surpassed Neely for 10th place on the all-time scoring list in Bruins franchise history. Krejci would add another point in the form of a goal in the third period to further pull away from the current Bruins president’s historical marker of 590 career points with Boston.

Krejci now has 592 and counting.

After 40 minutes of play, the Bruins led, 3-0, on the scoreboard and in shots on goal, 23-20, after outshooting the Maple Leafs, 15-9, in the second period alone.

Toronto led in blocked shots (7-5) and takeaways (23-7) through two periods, while the B’s dominated in giveaways (7-3), hits (19-17) and face-off win% (52-48)

The Maple Leafs were 0/1 on the power play entering the second intermission and the Bruins were 1/4.

Heinen (3) kicked off a chaotic third period with his first point in 12 games in the form of a goal at 1:47 into the final frame of regulation.

Donato (1) and Moore (4) tallied the assists and the Bruins led, 4-0.

Moments later, Travis Dermott (2) wired a back-footed snap shot from the point past Halak, high-glove side at 4:03 of the third period to put Toronto on the scoreboard, 4-1.

Auston Matthews (10) and Gardiner (14) had the assists on Dermott’s goal and the Leafs cut the lead to three.

A mere, 34 seconds later, Krejci (4) collected his second goal in two games on a rush and a give-and-go with Pastrnak to make it, 5-1, Boston.

Pastrnak (14) and Marchand (20) were tabbed with the assists at 4:37.

Less than two minutes later, Donato (3) added a goal while being held by Matthews in front of the net and pounding his own rebound behind Andersen to make it, 6-1, Bruins.

Heinen (4) and Krug (14) had the assists at 6:13 of the third period and Mike Babcock replaced his starting goaltender with Sparks.

Andersen’s night was done after allowing six goals.

But the zany game on ice has its ways as Matthews (16) riffled a shot past Halak after Andreas Johnsson freed a loose puck from Carlo to Matthews to make it, 6-2.

Johnsson (6) and Morgan Reilly (23) had the assists on the goal that made it a four-goal game at 9:30 of the third period.

Then, 23 seconds later, Zach Hyman delivered a high, late hit, with the elbow to McAvoy behind the play and Grzelcyk, along with the rest of the Bruins took notice.

Grzelcyk immediately challenged Hyman in effort to standup for his teammate who had just returned this week from a concussion and the two exchanged blows.

The penalty minutes officially read, Grzelcyk (fighting, major) and a game misconduct at 9:53, while Hyman received a fighting major, a major penalty for interference and a game misconduct.

Despite Hyman’s interference major, the Bruins were not given a power play advantage.

This, coupled with soft calls and blown calls from 13 seconds into the game through this point in the third period led to chaos.

Barely a minute later in playing time, Wagner glided into a high hit on Patrick Marleau in the neutral zone.

Toronto defender, Ron Hainsey, immediately challenged the Bruins winger to a duel of fists and the two squared off with Wagner getting the wrestling takedown.

Only Wagner was officially penalized, however, with a minor penalty for charging and a misconduct at 10:55 of the third period.

As a result, the Bruins would be shorthanded and neither bench was very pleased. Both coaches were furious, but the game continued as the refs failed to contain the emotions of the game.

Donato served Wagner’s minor penalty, but it wasn’t long before Johnsson (7) capitalized on a deflection that yielded a rebound and collected a power play goal at 12:22.

Marleau (10) and Gardiner (15) had the assists and the Leafs trailed, 6-3.

With about two minutes remaining in regulation, McAvoy returned to the Bruins bench after going through concussion protocol.

At the final horn, Boston had defeated Toronto, 6-3, and improved to 10-2-2 when scoring first this season.

Both teams finished the night with 32 shots on goal, while the B’s led in blocked shots (13-8), giveaways (12-9) and hits (24-21). The Maple Leafs finished Saturday night ahead in face-off win% (53-47) and were 1/2 on the power play, while Boston was 1/4.

The Bruins and Maple Leafs will meet once more this season in Toronto on January 12, 2019.

Until then, Boston travels to Canadian Tire Centre for a Sunday matinee (5 p.m. ET puck drop) with the Ottawa Senators before traveling back home for a Tuesday night matchup with the Arizona Coyotes.

The Bruins follow up Tuesday’s matchup with another rumble on the road at PPG Paints Arena next Friday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.


DTFR Podcast #135- Welcome to Seattle

This week’s episode is chock full of coffee infused, Seattle inspired, artisanal Seattle expansion discussion in addition to William Nylander’s new deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Plus, waivers and trades are rampant this time of year, Tom Wilson: The Bad and the Bad Things That Happened This Week, Chuck Fletcher was hired as General Manager of the Philadelphia Flyers and a 15-year first round draft pick look back of the Los Angeles Kings.

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

Game of the week: November 26-December 2

If you’re the proud owner of an NHL-themed Advent calendar, hopefully you’ve got it ready to go for the official first day of the Christmas season this Sunday. As for the rest of us that don’t have such a beautiful possession, we’ll just have to use the NHL’s schedule.

Speaking of, here’s this week’s offerings:

NHL SCHEDULE: November 26-December 2
TIME (ALL TIMES EASTERN) VISITOR HOST NATIONAL BROADCAST(S)/
Result
Monday, November 26
7 p.m. Boston Toronto 2-4
7 p.m. New Jersey Florida 3-4 (OT)
7 p.m. Washington Capitals New York Islanders 4-1
7 p.m. Ottawa Senators New York Rangers 2-4
7:30 p.m. Columbus Detroit 7-5
Tuesday, November 27
7 p.m. San Jose Buffalo 2-3 (OT)
7 p.m. Ottawa Philadelphia 4-3
7:30 p.m. Carolina Montréal 2-1
7:30 p.m. Anaheim Tampa Bay 3-1
8 p.m. Colorado Nashville 3-2
8 p.m. Arizona Minnesota 4-3
8 p.m. Pittsburgh Winnipeg 4-3
8 p.m. Vegas Chicago 8-3
9 p.m. Dallas Edmonton 0-1 (OT)
10 p.m. Los Angeles Vancouver 2-1 (OT)
Wednesday, November 28
7 p.m. St. Louis Detroit 3-4
7 p.m. Anaheim Florida 3-2
7:30 p.m. San Jose Toronto 3-5
9 p.m. Dallas Calgary 4-3 (OT)
9:30 p.m. Pittsburgh Colorado 3-6
Thursday, November 29
7 p.m. New York Islanders Boston Bruins 1-2 (SO)
7 p.m. Minnesota Columbus 2-4
7:30 p.m. New York Rangers Ottawa Senators 0-3
7:30 p.m. Buffalo Tampa Bay 4-5
8 p.m. Arizona Nashville 3-0
8 p.m. Chicago Winnipeg 5-6
9 p.m. Los Angeles Edmonton 2-3
10 p.m. Vegas Vancouver 4-3
Friday, November 30
7 p.m. Buffalo Florida 2-3 (OT)
7 p.m. New Jersey Washington 3-6
7:30 p.m. Anaheim Carolina 2-1 (OT)
9 p.m. St. Louis Colorado 3-2 (OT)
9 p.m. Los Angeles Calgary 1-4
Saturday, December 1
1 p.m. San Jose Ottawa TVAS
4 p.m. Dallas Vancouver
7 p.m. Toronto Minnesota CBC, SN1
7 p.m. Detroit Boston
7 p.m. New York Rangers Montréal Canadiens SN, TVAS
7 p.m. Tampa Bay Florida
7 p.m. Winnipeg New Jersey CITY, SN360
7 p.m. Columbus Blue Jackets New York Islanders
7 p.m. Philadelphia Pittsburgh NHLN
8 p.m. St. Louis Arizona
8 p.m. Chicago Nashville
10 p.m. Vegas Golden Knights Edmonton Oilers CBC, CITY, SN, SN1, SN360
Sunday, December 2
3 p.m. Anaheim Washington SN
6 p.m. Winnipeg Jets New York Rangers
7 p.m. Calgary Chicago NHLN
7 p.m. San Jose Montréal RDS, SN, SN1
7 p.m. Colorado Detroit
10:30 p.m. Carolina Los Angeles

Nothing rings in the holiday season quite like a good rivalry, and there was more than a few of those to choose from this week. A total of three Original Six matchups were contested (Boston at Toronto, Detroit at Boston and the Rangers at Montréal), not to mention six more feuds with slightly little less history (Washington at the Islanders, St. Louis at Detroit, Los Angeles at Edmonton, Philadelphia at Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay at Florida and Colorado at Detroit).

In a similar strain, there were also three rematches from last season’s playoffs. Beyond the already mentioned rivalries that were contested last postseason, Colorado made the trip to Nashville in a rematch of the Western Quarterfinals on Tuesday, avenging their series loss with a 3-2 victory.

For those that get excited about player returns, no game is bigger than the Sharks’ trip to Ottawa this afternoon, as D Erik Karlsson will be making his premier visit back the arena he called home for the first nine seasons of his career.

Finally, two numbers are being retired this week, both by teams in the Eastern Conference. On Thursday, the Boston Bruins hoisted RW Rick Middleton‘s No. 16 to the TD Garden rafters before their game against the Islanders, while the New York Rangers are extending the same honor to LW Vic Hadfield‘s No. 11 before tomorrow’s tilt against Winnipeg.

As usual, there’s more than a few excellent options for this week’s featured contest. As to not slight either Hadfield or Middleton, we’ll intentionally show no preference to one or the other. Instead, I think we’ll make a trip to the Big Apple for a homecoming of a different variety to Karlsson’s.

 

 

 

 

Before you start scouring the Blue Jackets’ roster for players that have donned blue and orange in the past (spoiler alert: no active Jackets have played for the Isles), I should probably let you know that this matchup is not being featured for any sort of player return.

Instead, we’re more worried about the Islanders returning to Nassau Coliseum (officially NYCB Live: Home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, but that’s an obnoxious mouthful that I’m not willing to type again), their original home arena from 1972-2015.

The list of Islanders events the Coliseum has witnessed is surely a long list, but nothing shines quite as bright as New York’s four consecutive Stanley Cup championships from 1980-83. In fact, the Isles boast an unbelievable 11-1 record at the Coliseum in Stanley Cup Finals games, surely among the league’s best of any team at any particular arena.

The Coliseum has seen some real greats of the game take to its ice. RW Mike Bossy, LW Clark Gillies, RW Bob Nystrom, D Denis Potvin, G Billy Smith and C Bryan Trottier were all members of the Isles’ Stanley Cup-winning rosters, not to mention fellow Hall of Famer C Pat LaFontaine, who donned the blue-and-orange from 1983-91.

The club has run into more than its fair share of troubles – including attendance, a stat in which the Islanders rank dead-last in the NHL by almost 2000 patrons  – during its tenure at Barclays Center, but I’m optimistic that the team’s most devoted fans will have no trouble filling the almost 14,000-seat barn they used to call home.

However, one aspect where New York was expected to struggle this season was in its play on the ice. Without C John Tavares, the Islanders were expected to set up camp at the bottom of the NHL standings in a season focused on “Losing for Hughes.” Instead, new Head Coach Barry Trotz has led his team to a surprising 12-9-3 record that trails the rival Rangers by only one point (the Isles have two games in hand) for the East’s second wild card.

Looking more closely at their play over the last week (New York has posted a 2-1-1 record in its last four outings), the Islanders’ best player has been none other than 8-4-1 G Thomas Greiss. While his record may pale in comparison to 14-7-0 G Frederik Andersen‘s, Greiss boasts a .925 save percentage and 2.45 GAA for the entire season as a whole, not to mention managing a .924 save percentage and 2.31 GAA in his last three starts despite playing behind a defense that has yielded a (t)15th-worst 32.25 shots against per game since November 23.

Greiss owns a career 5-6-3 record against the Blue Jackets, due in large part to the current 0-3-1 skid he’s riding against tonight’s opposition dating back to February 25, 2017.

Speaking of the Blue Jackets, they enter tonight’s game with a solid 15-8-2 record that’s good enough for second place in the Metropolitan Division. Columbus has been riding high for the past month, as it has managed an impressive 8-2-2 record since November 4.

The main reason for that outstanding play has been the Jackets’ great defensive work. Led by RW Josh Anderson (2.9 blocks per game since November 4) and D Seth Jones (2.1 blocks per game during this run) – both of whom are tied at 10 takeaways apiece since November 4 – Columbus’ blue line has allowed only 30.42 shots against per game in its last 12 games, the 10th-best mark in the NHL in the past 27 days.

As might be expected, none are happier about that defensive play than 10-7-0 G Sergei Bobrovsky (yes, the goaltender is more appreciative than Head Coach John Tortorella – believe me). Behind this solid defense, Bobrovsky has posted a 7-1-0 record with an impressive .932 save percentage and 2.01 GAA – both numbers far better than his season marks of a .912 save percentage and 2.7 GAA.

This is the part where I usually pick my winner, but it should probably be stated that the real winners tonight are the Islanders fans getting to see a game in a historic venue designed to host an ice hockey game.

As for who will walk away with two points tonight, I’m strongly leaning towards Columbus. Both have netminders playing in peak form right now, but the Jackets boasting a defense keeping all but the best offerings away from Bobrovsky will likely be a major benefit to them this evening. Pair in the Jackets averaging 3.52 goals per game this season (compared to New York’s three goals per game), and any traveling fans from Ohio should leave happy.

Marner’s three assists, Leivo’s GWG beat Bruins, 4-2

Mitch Marner led the way with three assists for the Toronto Maple Leafs– sans Auston Matthews for the 14th time this season due to his shoulder injury– as Josh Leivo had the game-winning goal late in the second period to defeat the Boston Bruins, 4-2, at Scotiabank Arena Monday night.

Frederik Andersen (13-7-0, .932 save percentage, 2.22 goals against average in 20 games played) had 38 saves on 40 shots against for a .950 SV% in the win for Toronto, while Jaroslav Halak (8-3-2, .936 SV%, 2.05 GAA in 15 GP) made 27 saves on 30 shots faced for a .900 SV% in the loss.

Patrick Marleau participated in his 1,600th career NHL game Monday night– becoming the 11th player in league history to reach 1,600 games, joining Gordie Howe (1,767 games played), Mark Messier (1,756 GP), Jaromir Jagr (1,733 GP), Ron Francis (1,731 GP), Mark Recchi (1,652 GP), Chris Chelios (1,651 GP), Dave Andreychuk (1,639 GP), Scott Stevens (1,635 GP), Larry Murphy (1,615 GP) and Ray Bourque (1,612 GP).

Among active NHLers, Marleau leads San Jose’s Joe Thornton (1,508 games played), Pittsburgh’s Matt Cullen (1,463 GP), Boston’s Zdeno Chara (1,411 GP) and Carolina’s Justin Williams (1,185 GP).

Marleau was originally drafted 2nd overall in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft by the San Jose Sharks and signed a three-year contract with Toronto on July 2, 2017 after spending 1997-2017 with San Jose.

And if you’ve been under a rock since the Maple Leafs signed John Tavares this summer, William Nylander is still unsigned and has until *checks calendar* 5 p.m. ET Saturday to sign a deal and participate in the 2018-19 season.

Anyway, with the win on Monday, Toronto improved to 17-8-0 (34 points) on the season and remained 3rd in the Atlantic Division, while Boston fell to a 13-7-4 record (30 points) and stayed in 4th in the Atlantic.

Bruce Cassidy juggled his bottom-six forwards and defensive pairs Monday night with Anders Bjork back in the lineup on the third line to the left of Joakim Nordstrom and Noel Acciari after having been a healthy scratch since Nov. 23rd.

Colby Cave began the night centering the fourth line with Sean Kuraly joining Steven Kampfer as the healthy scratches against Toronto.

John Moore started the night on the first defensive pair as the left shot to Kevan Miller‘s right shot on the blue line with Torey Krug remaining partners with Connor Clifton and Jeremy Lauzon on the third pair with Matt Grzelcyk.

Brandon Carlo (upper body), Chara (lower body, left MCL), Patrice Bergeron (upper body), Urho Vaakanainen (concussion) and Charlie McAvoy (concussion) remained sidelined due to injury, though Carlo and McAvoy could be back as early as this week.

A tight goaltending battle began to unwind late in the first period as the Bruins couldn’t clear their own zone and the Maple Leafs capitalized on their chances.

Unknown

Travis Dermott (1) notched his first goal of the season to give Toronto the 1-0 lead at 17:44 of the first period. Marner (25) had the only assist on the goal.

Miller took an errant puck to the throat area prior to the goal and went down the tunnel to the dressing room. Boston later tweeted during the second intermission that he would not return to Monday night’s action.

After one period the Leafs held onto a, 1-0, lead, while trailing in shots on goal to the Bruins, 10-9. The B’s had an advantage in blocked shots (6-4), but Toronto dominated just about every other stat category entering the first intermission leading in takeaways (3-2), giveaways (5-4), hits (8-7) and face-off win percentage (72-28). Neither team had yet to see any action on the extra skater advantage on the power play.

Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson was removed from the first line to start the second period as Cave earned a promotion in-game between Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak that would soon pay off.

Par Lindholm hooked Moore early in the middle frame and the Bruins had their first power play of the night at 1:55 of the second period.

On the ensuing power play, Marchand worked a pass through the crease to Pastrnak (18) on the right side of Andersen for the shot on goal from close range that hit the twine, yielding a power play goal and tying the game, 1-1.

Marchand (16) and Krug (9) had the assists on Pastrnak’s goal at 3:39 of the second period and Boston came to life for a few moments thanks to the swing in momentum.

Toronto followed up Lindholm’s penalty with a minor infraction for too many men on the ice at 10:48. The bench minor was served by Frederik Gauthier and the B’s did not convert on the resulting power play.

Instead, Gauthier played a key role fresh out of the box while the Bruins skaters still on the ice from the advantage in strength had tired legs and the Maple Leafs made them pay.

Igor Ozhiganov (1) notched his first career National Hockey League goal off the right post and past Halak at 13:06 of the second period. Marner (26) and Gauthier (3) had the assists and the Leafs once again had a one-goal lead, 2-1.

Unknown-7

Just over a minute later, Pastrnak (19) worked his magic again thanks to a slap pass from Krug to the young Bruins winger in front of the goal, whereby Pastrnak deked enough for Andersen to overcommit and give way to a mostly empty goal for Pastrnak to slip the puck past the Toronto netminder and into the twine.

Boston tied the game, 2-2, on Pastrnak’s second goal of the night– assisted by Krug (10) and Marchand (17)– at 14:22.

With the Bruins mounting a crescendo in the middle period, the Maple Leafs worked to play smarter, not harder as Toronto started to regain dominant control of zone time possession and drew a penalty after Bjork was sloppy with his stick and tripped up Tyler Ennis at 16:58 of the second period.

If Boston could’ve held off the Leafs onslaught on the power play for just 20 more seconds things might have been different, but an inexperienced penalty killing unit allowed Toronto to waltz into the attacking zone with ease and set up Leivo (4) for the power play goal and eventual game-winner at 18:38.

Ennis (3) and Marleau (9) had the assists and Toronto led, 3-2.

Heading into the second intermission, the Bruins trailed by a goal, but led in shots on goal, 28-18. Boston had 18 shots on goal in the second period, which was a season high for the club in one period.

Toronto led in takeaways (5-3), giveaways (10-5), hits (19-14) and face-off win% (55-45), while the Bruins led in blocked shots (13-12). The Maple Leafs were 1/1 on the power play and the B’s were 1/2.

Midway through the third period, Jake DeBrusk had a brush with near-injury after he was pushed down in front of the goal by Nikita Zaitsev while Danton Heinen unloaded a one-timed shot on goal, hitting DeBrusk square in the back of the head.

It appeared the puck caught nothing but helmet, but DeBrusk felt the vulcanized rubber biscuit nonetheless and took a second to get up before continuing to play after a quick stoppage.

With 2:37 remaining in regulation, Cassidy pulled his netminder for an extra attacker, but it was to no avail as Toronto took their time to wait it out and gather the puck before sending Zach Hyman (4) in all alone for the empty net goal at 18:25 of the third period.

Tavares (13) and Marner (27) had the assists on the insurance goal for the Leafs, as Toronto put away the Bruins, 4-2.

At the final horn, Boston suffered the loss while outshooting Toronto, 40-31, after 60 minutes of play. The Maple Leafs actually led in shots on goal in the third period alone, however, 13-12, and maintained the advantage in blocked shots (22-17), giveaways (16-11), hits (23-19) and face-off win% (57-43).

The Leafs finished the night 1/1 on the power play, while the B’s went 1/2.

The Maple Leafs improved to 11-0-0 when scoring first this season and 12-0-0 when leading after two periods. Boston is now 0-6-1 when trailing after 40 minutes this season.

After going 1-1-0 on their two-game road swing through Montreal and Toronto, the Bruins return home to TD Garden for a matchup against the New York Islanders on Thursday night.

Boston will retire Rick Middleton‘s No. 16 sweater before the game and fans are asked to be in their seats by 6:30 p.m. ET to witness the ceremony and jersey retirement.

DTFR Podcast #132- Hall of Guardians and Turtlenecks

The 2018 Hockey Hall of Fame Class was inducted on Monday, plus we remember the NHL Guardians and celebrate Joe Thornton’s milestones. Tomas Plekanec retired– leaving us a turtleneck to pass on ceremoniously– and Milan Lucic was fined $10,000.

The Pittsburgh Penguins’ plight comes with an extension for General Manager Jim Rutherford, while the Los Angeles Kings battle the injury bug in net (we finished recording before Wednesday’s trade between the two clubs).

Meanwhile, Tom Wilson is back, a concussion lawsuit was settled, the 2019 NWHL All-Star Game was announced, Jakob Chychrun got a six-year extension and Nick and Connor discuss when they’ll eventually let their kids (if they ever have any) play contact sports.

Support the show on Patreon.

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

Pastrnak’s 2nd hat trick this season helps dismantle Leafs, 5-1

David Pastrnak (3-1–4 totals), Patrice Bergeron (1-2–3) and Brad Marchand (0-2–2) led the way once again for the Boston Bruins as they defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs, 5-1, Saturday night on home ice at TD Garden.

Jaroslav Halak (5-1-2, 1.86 goals against average, .941 save percentage in 10 games played) made 40 saves on 41 shots against for a .976 SV% in the win, while Garret Sparks (2-1-0, 4.00 GAA, .879 SV% in 3 GP) stopped 29 out of 34 shots faced for an .853 SV% in the loss for Toronto.

Bruins goaltender, Tuukka Rask was granted a personal leave of absence by the club on Friday for at least a few days so the Boston netminder can attend to “personal matters”. No further explanation was given out of respect for Rask and his family’s privacy.

Boston improved to 2-1-0 on their current four-game homestand which ends Sunday against the Vegas Golden Knights.

Unknown-7

The B’s also jumped back into 4th place in the Atlantic Division thanks to Saturday night’s victory, amassing a 9-5-2 record (20 points) so far this season– leading the Buffalo Sabres for the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference by virtue of having one more regulation-plus-overtime win than the Sabres.

The Maple Leafs fell to 11-6-0 (22 points) on the season and retained 2nd place in the Atlantic Division despite the loss.

It Boston and Toronto’s first meeting since the First Round of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs in which the Bruins eliminated the Maple Leafs in seven games.

Forward, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, was recalled from the Providence Bruins (AHL), as Bruce Cassidy was looking to change up the lines, and Dan Vladar was also an emergency recall from Providence, serving as the backup goaltender to Halak.

Cassidy left the first and second lines alone, while pairing Danton Heinen and Anders Bjork to the left and right, respectively, of Forsbacka Karlsson on the third line. David Backes centered Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner on the fourth line.

Noel Acciari was a healthy scratch for the Bruins, while Urho Vaakanainen (concussion), Charlie McAvoy (concussion) and Kevan Miller (hand) remained out of the lineup with their respective injuries.

Vaakanainen, McAvoy and Miller have skated on their own as of Saturday and are all improving.

Steven Kampfer kicked things off with the game’s first penalty– a minor for interference against Toronto’s Josh Leivo— at 5:48 of the first period. The Bruins allowed nine shots against on the ensuing penalty kill in what was a Maple Leafs dominated effort in the first period.

But as things in hockey (and life) sometimes go– nothing makes sense.

Bergeron (9) redirection a pass behind Sparks from close range for the 1-0 lead at 16:12 of the first period thanks to an assist from Pastrnak (6). Boston got on the scoreboard first.

After 20 minutes, the B’s were ahead, 1-0, on the scoreboard, but trailing the Leafs in shots on goal, 20-6. Toronto also had an advantage in takeaways (7-2) and face-off win percentage (52-48), while Boston led in blocked shots (5-4), giveaways (7-5) and hits (11-9). The Maple Leafs were 0/1 on the power play heading into the first intermission, while the Bruins had yet to see time on the skater advantage.

That would change in the first 41 seconds of the middle frame.

Zach Hyman cross checked Matt Grzelcyk and the Bruins went on the power play for the first time of the night. They did not convert on their first power play opportunity of the game.

Grzelcyk later kept the puck in the offensive zone, sending it to Bergeron who forced a pass to Pastrnak (13) for a one-timer while falling past Sparks on the high-blocker side to give Boston a two-goal lead.

Bergeron (14) and Grzelcyk (7) had the primary and secondary assists on Pastrnak’s first goal of the game that made it, 2-0, Bruins at 5:46 of the second period.

Shortly thereafter, while Bjork was on a break-in, Leafs defender, Martin Marincin got a hold on the Bruins forward, yielding a holding infraction at 9:09.

Boston went back on the power play and took almost 90 seconds to convert on the skater advantage with Pastrnak (14) scoring his 2nd goal of the game on another one-timer redirection while crashing the net.

Bergeron worked the puck to Marchand across the ice to the boards closest to the benches, whereby Marchand planted a cross the slot pass to Pastrnak for the 3-0 lead at 10:34 of the second period. Marchand (13) and Bergeron (15) notched the power play assists.

Tempers began to boil when Brandon Carlo roughed up Kasperi Kapanen at 17:28 of the period.

Unknown

Two seconds after the Maple Leafs power play expired, a wide open John Tavares (10) found a wide open piece of the twine net– after the rubber biscuit was dished all-around the umbrella setup on the skater advantage– and cut the lead to two-goals. Mitch Marner (15) and Morgan Rielly (14) had the assists on Tavares’ goal that made it, 3-1, Bruins at 19:30 of the middle period.

Through two periods of action, Boston held onto a 3-1 lead.

Toronto was still leading in shots on goal, 30-22, but the Bruins outshot the Maple Leafs in the second period, 16-10. Boston also led in blocked shots (10-9), giveaways (12-8) and face-off win% (53-47), while the Leafs led in takeaways (9-3) and hits (17-15).

Entering the dressing room for the second intermission, Toronto was 0/2 on the power play and the Bruins were 1/2 on the advantage.

Kapanen caught Boston defender, John Moore, with a high-stick that drew blood and earned the Leafs forward a four-minute, double minor, penalty at 11:28 of the third period.

While on the extended power play, Pastrnak (15) completed his hat trick thanks to the work of Torey Krug moving the puck back to Marchand who then fed Pastrnak on a tic-toc-goal effort.

Marchand (14) picked up his second assist of the evening and Krug (5) earned his first point of the night at 14:04 of the third period, as the Bruins now led, 4-1.

A mere, 26 seconds later, with the power play expired, David Krejci spun away from Toronto’s pressure with a back-pass to Joakim Nordstrom (3) for the added insurance policy goal to make it, 5-1, Boston.

Krejci (12) laid claim to the only assist on the goal at 14:30.

Late in the third period, Kampfer was called for his fourth minor penalty in the last two games– this time for slashing Toronto’s Nazem Kadri.

The Maple Leafs did not convert on the ensuing power play.

At the final horn, the Bruins defeated Toronto, 5-1, despite being outshot, 41-34. The B’s led in shots on goal in the third period, 12-11, and had the final advantage in giveaways (16-8), hits (22-20) and face-off win% (53-47) after the 60-minute effort.

Both teams had 12 blocked shots aside, while Toronto finished Saturday night powerless on the power play (0/3). Boston operated at 50% capacity (2/4) on the skater advantage.

With the loss on the road, the Maple Leafs fell to 6-1-0 in seven road games so far this season. The Bruins face the Golden Knights on Sunday before departing for a four-game road trip, stopping in Colorado on Nov. 14th, Dallas on Nov. 16, Arizona on Nov. 17th and Detroit on Nov. 21st.

After the four-game road trip, Boston returns home for their annual Black Friday game– this time a matchup with the Pittsburgh Penguins on Nov. 23rd. The Bruins play two games back-to-back after American Thanksgiving this year, with a home game against Pittsburgh on the 23rd and a road game in Montreal on Nov. 24th.

With his 2nd career hat trick (regular season and playoffs) against the Maple Leafs on Saturday, Pastrnak joined Phil Esposito (four-times), Bobby Bauer (two-times), Herb Cain (two-times), Cam Neely (two-times) and Krejci (two-times) as the only players in Bruins franchise history to record multiple hat tricks against Toronto.

DTFR Podcast #131- Hockey Plague

Pekka Rinne signed a two-year extension, John Stevens and Joel Quenneville were fired, Willie Desjardin’s back and there’s a new guy in Chicago (Jeremy Colliton), Philadelphia Flyers goaltending is in the news again, people in Ottawa are fired up about Uber, Lou Lamoriello reached 2,400 games as a GM as the New York Islanders lead the Metropolitan Division and is Halloween the new Thanksgiving? Nick and Connor discuss.

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

DTFR Podcast #130- Boo: A Very Merry Boone Jenner Halloween (Part II: Pierre-Luc DuBOOis)

Injuries are scaring the masses across the league, while old ghosts haunt Colorado (then lose), the Los Angeles Kings’ reign of terror is spooked, Mark Borowiecki is back again, Nick and Connor do their best to talk about the Columbus Blue Jackets and the thing that goes bump in the night? That’s the Tampa Bay Lightning thundering their way to the top. We also reviewed Bohemian Rhapsody before it comes out.

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

DTFR Podcast #129- Top Line Stars

Nick and Connor talk Alex Tuch’s extension with the Vegas Golden Knights, superstars Auston Matthews, Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid, as well as Charlie McAvoy extension options, the New York Rangers, Boston’s first line vs. Colorado’s top line and the week’s biggest matchup.

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