Tag Archives: Jon Cooper

Bolts top B’s in, 5-3, fight filled action

It was fight night at TD Garden on Saturday as the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Boston Bruins, 5-3, in a game that had over 90 penalty minutes and multiple brawls.

Andrei Vasilevskiy (35-13-3 record, 2.57 goals against average, .917 save percentage in 51 games played) made 35 saves on 38 shots against (.921 SV%) in the win for the Lightning.

B’s netminder, Tuukka Rask (25-8-6, 2.18 GAA, .926 SV% in 40 games played) stopped 20 out of 24 shots faced for an .833 SV% in the loss.

Tampa took the season series 3-1-0 and improved to 43-20-5 (91 points), but the Bolts remain 2nd in the Atlantic Division to the Bruins who are now 43-14-12 (98 points) on the season, as well as 22-4-9 on home ice.

The Bruins were without the services of Kevan Miller (knee), Connor Clifton (upper body) and Brandon Carlo (upper body) on Saturday night.

Prior to the game, however, Clifton was activated from the injured reserve, which means he’ll likely be back in the lineup sometime next week if all goes well at practice.

Karson Kuhlman was reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) to make way for Clifton’s activation.

With Carlo out of the lineup, John Moore took over the right side of the second defensive pairing with Torey Krug, while Bruce Cassidy made two minor changes among his forward lines from Thursday night’s, 2-1, overtime victory in Florida to Saturday night’s battle with the Lightning.

Cassidy moved Sean Kuraly up to the right wing of the third line with Jake DeBrusk and Charlie Coyle, while shifting Chris Wagner down to the right side of the fourth line with Joakim Nordstrom at left wing and Par Lindholm at center.

Anders Bjork and Anton Blidh served as Boston’s healthy scratches against Tampa.

Early in the opening frame, Barclay Goodrow delivered a blow to Bruins forward, Ondrej Kase, with the elbow and received a minor infraction at 5:01 of the first period.

The ensuing power play for Boston was disastrous as the B’s allowed two shorthanded goals before Goodrow was allowed to return to the ice.

First after Patrice Bergeron won the faceoff in the direction of the point, Anthony Cirelli (16) snuck in and stole the loose puck, skated to the opposite zone and sniped a shot past Rask on the blocker side for an unassisted shorthanded goal at 5:08 of the first period– giving Tampa the game’s first lead, 1-0.

Cirelli’s goal marked the 19th time this season that Boston gave up the game’s first goal on home ice.

Almost a minute later, Yanni Gourde worked the puck from deep in the corner to Mikhail Sergachev (10) in the low slot for the one-timer past Rask’s glove side.

Gourde (18) had the only assist on Sergachev’s goal and the Bolts led, 2-0, at 6:10 of the opening period.

After Goodrow returned to the ice from the penalty box, Wagner tried to engage No. 19 in blue and white in a fight for the actions Goodrow took against Kase in the first place that Wagner did not think highly of, but the two only tugged and grabbed at each other before the officials intervened and handed out matching unsportsmanlike conduct minors at 8:39.

The game shifted to 4-on-4 for two minutes until the minor penalties would expire.

Seconds after the two players emerged from the box, Wagner and Goodrow dropped the gloves in an agreed upon exchanging of the fisticuffs at 10:45 in what was the 19th fight this season for the Bruins and 12th since Jan. 1st.

Moments later, Braydon Coburn was guilty of holding DeBrusk and presented Boston with their second power play opportunity of the night at 12:20.

This time the Lightning didn’t score any shorthanded goals.

Tampa got their first chance on the power play at 19:14 of the first period when Jeremy Lauzon was sent to the box for interfering with Pat Maroon.

The Bolts did not score on the skater advantage, despite its overlap into the second period.

After 20 minutes of action in Boston, the Lightning led, 2-0, on the scoreboard, despite the Bruins leading in shots on goal, 14-5.

Tampa also held the advantage in blocked shots (8-6), takeaways (3-1), hits (12-5) and faceoff win percentage (64-36).

Both teams had two giveaways aside, while the Bolts were 0/1 on the power play and the B’s were 0/2.

Cedric Paquette (7) kicked off the second period with a goal to make it, 3-0, for Tampa after Boston’s defense was caught out of position and the Lightning forward snuck into the slot for a one-timer from point-blank.

Zach Bogosian (6) and Coburn (3) had the assists on Paquette’s goal at 6:50 of the middle frame and the Lightning thundered their way to three unanswered goals for a three-goal lead.

Past the midpoint of the second period, four Lightning skaters took a chance to jump one Bruins player while said player tried to play the puck along the wall.

That player was Brad Marchand– whether it was justified or not– and a scrum ensued as all ten skaters on the ice piled on top of one another.

Cirelli and Marchand both headed for the sin bin with matching roughing minors– meaning the two teams would once again spend a couple of minutes skating 4-on-4 at 14:13 of the second period.

While on the ensuing even-strength, 4-on-4, action, Charlie McAvoy (5) snuck up on a rush with Coyle and DeBrusk and beat Vasilevskiy on the glove side to put Boston on the scoreboard and cut into Tampa’s lead.

Coyle (21) and Matt Grzelcyk (17) tallied the assists on McAvoy’s goal as the Bruins trailed, 3-1, at 14:50.

Almost four minutes later, Kuraly (6) poked a loose puck in the crease just over the goal line before Point was able to scoop it back out from the net and into play without any officials on the ice picking up on the fact that a goal had indeed been scored.

As play continued for about 90 additional seconds, the video room in Toronto signaled to TD Garden that there had been a goal on the play and instructed the arena to use the siren to indicate an overrule by the video room.

But as that happened, all hell broke loose.

McAvoy (27) and Kase (17) were credited for the assists on Kuraly’s goal at 18:37 as Kuraly got entangled in a line brawl that resulted in a misconduct for No. 52 in black and gold and a list of penalties for players on the ice and even a Lightning staff member on the bench!

The Bruins trailed, 3-2, as Zdeno Chara fought Maroon (each received five minutes for fighting), Erik Cernak and Kuraly traded misconducts and Tampa was assessed a bench minor for delay of game and a game misconduct for Todd Richards’ verbal abuse of an official at 18:37 of the second period.

The chaos didn’t end after the already lit fuse had sparked once more.

At the end of the second period, more shoves were exchanged and words shouted, leaving Marchand with a slashing minor against Blake Coleman, a misconduct for Coleman and a misconduct for Nick Ritchie at 20:00.

Heading into the second intermission, Tampa led on the scoreboard, 3-2, but trailed Boston in shots on goal, 26-15.

The B’s held the advantage in blocked shots (14-10) and giveaways (7-4) after 40 minutes of play, while the Lightning led in takeaways (5-3), hits (25-20) and faceoff win% (63-38).

Boston was 0/4 on the power play and Tampa was 0/1 on the skater advantage heading into the final frame.

Just 68 seconds into the third period, Alex Killorn (26) tipped a shot from the blue line past Rask under the Boston goaltender’s blocker and into the twine to make it, 4-2, for the Bolts.

Killorn’s power play goal was assisted by Sergachev (24) and Point (39) at 1:08 of the third period and was not challenged despite initial concern from Rask that Killorn’s stick might have been above the crossbar.

Almost four minutes later, Nikita Kucherov cross checked Grzelcyk and was sent to the box at 5:48.

This time the Bruins capitalized on the skater advantage with a one-timed power play goal from the point by David Pastrnak (48) to make it a one-goal game.

Krug (40) and Marchand (58) notched the assists on Pastrnak’s goal at 6:37 of the third period and the B’s cut Tampa’s lead to, 4-3.

About two minutes later, Bergeron sent the puck out of play without touching anything else and received an automatic delay of game minor penalty– in addition to a roughing minor after Goodrow and several other skaters on the ice met for one last rouse.

Krug and Mitchell Stephens joined Bergeron in the box with roughing minors, while the Lightning went on the power play one last time at 8:43 of the final frame.

Moments later, Tyler Johnson hauled Kase down with a hook, but Kase was also hit by an unsportsmanlike conduct infraction for embellishing the penalty in the officials’ eyes and presented both sides with more 4-on-4 action at 13:10 of the third period.

With 1:48 left in the game, Cassidy pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker, but it was too little, too late as Jon Cooper’s Lightning outmatched Boston’s last-ditch effort.

David Krejci misplayed the puck while skating out of his own zone into the neutral zone and gave the rubber biscuit directly to Kucherov (33) for the empty net goal at 18:58– sealing the deal on Tampa’s, 5-3, victory over the Bruins in Boston.

At the final horn, the Bolts had won, despite finishing the night trailing in shots on goal, 38-25.

Boston wrapped up Saturday night’s loss with the advantage in blocked shots (19-14) and giveaways (11-6), while Tampa led in hits (30-26) and faceoff win% (57-43).

The Lightning finished the night 1/2 on the skater advantage and the Bruins went 1/4 on the power play in the game.

Boston fell to 18-7-4 when allowing the game’s first goal (10-2-3 at home in that span), 6-7-3 when trailing after one period (4-2-2 at home in that span) and 5-11-4 (5-4-3 at home in that span) when trailing after two periods this season.

Tampa, on the other hand, improved to 30-9-2 (13-5-2 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal, 23-2-3 (11-2-2 on the road) when leading after one period and 31-1-4 (14-0-2 on the road) when leading after two periods this season.

The B’s begin a two-game road trip in Philadelphia on Tuesday (March 10th) before traveling to Buffalo next Friday (March 13th).

The Bruins then return home to face the Toronto Maple Leafs next Saturday (March 14th) and host the Columbus Blue Jackets on March 16th before heading out to visit the three California teams later that week.

The Flyers, in the meantime, are on a nine-game winning streak and host the Bruins on Tuesday at Wells Fargo Center.

Bruins beat Bolts, 2-1, in Tampa

The Boston Bruins held on to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning, 2-1, at Amalie Arena on Tuesday night for their first win in Tampa since March 17, 2018 (a, 3-0, victory).

Tuukka Rask (25-7-6 record, 2.13 goals against average, .928 save percentage in 39 games played) made 20 saves on 21 shots against (.952 SV%) in the win for Boston.

Tampa netminder, Andrei Vasilevskiy (33-13-3, 2.61 GAA, .915 SV% in 49 games played) stopped 33 out of 35 shots faced for a .943 SV% in the loss.

The Bruins improved to 42-13-12 (96 points) on the season and increased their Atlantic Division lead over the Lightning to nine-points while the Bolts fell to 41-20-5 (87 points) this season.

Boston also improved to 20-10-3 on the road this season, while Tampa was without their captain, Steven Stamkos, as he’ll be out for six to eight weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a core muscle injury on Monday.

Boston was without the services of Kevan Miller (knee) and Connor Clifton (upper body) on Tuesday, while Chris Wagner (upper body) returned to the lineup after missing the last game due to injury.

Miller has yet to make his season debut for the Bruins and has missed all 67 games in 2019-20.

Clifton has returned to practice with the rest of the team, but has been out for 27 games.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, was prepared to make adjustments to his lines if Brad Marchand wasn’t ready to go Tuesday night due to “not feeling well” earlier in the day, but nevertheless, Marchand took part in warmups and was in his usual role on the first line left wing.

Wagner was re-introduced to the lineup on the third line in place of Karson Kuhlman.

Anders Bjork, John Moore, Anton Blidh and Kuhlman comprised of Boston’s short list of healthy scratches in Tampa.

Tuesday night also marked the 200th game of Jake DeBrusk’s NHL career.

Kevin Shattenkirk kicked off the night’s action with a hooking infraction against Ondrej Kase and presented the Bruins with their first power play of the night at 2:35 of the first period.

Boston was unsuccessful on the skater advantage and followed things up with a penalty of their own midway through the opening frame when B’s defender, Brandon Carlo, tripped Lightning forward, Pat Maroon at 14:09.

Tampa did not convert on the ensuing power play, however.

In the final minute of the first period, the Bruins worked a rush into the attacking zone whereby David Pastrnak sent the puck back to the point to Torey Krug.

Krug found Marchand (28) with an intentional shot pass looking for the redirection, which Marchand successfully pulled off to give Boston the game’s first goal and a, 1-0, lead at 19:05.

Krug (38) and Pastrnak (45) were credited with the assists on Marchand’s goal as the Bruins took the, 1-0, lead into the first intermission, while also leading in shots on goal, 14-9.

Boston held the advantage in takeaways (3-2), giveaways (1-0) and faceoff win percentage (55-45) after one period of action at Amalie Arena, while Tampa led in hits (13-6).

Both teams had seven blocked shots aside and were 0/1 on the power play heading into the second period.

Zach Bogosian sent a pass to Yanni Gourde for what was thought to be a one-timer goal, but Cassidy used his coach’s challenge on the basis that the Bolts had entered the attacking zone offside.

Upon review, video footage indicated that the Lightning were inches offside (and likely onside as of next season’s proposed amendments to the offside rule) and the call on the ice was reversed– no goal.

Gourde cut a rut to the penalty box 22 seconds later after tripping Charlie Coyle at 5:46 of the second period.

Boston did not capitalize on their second power play of the night, but generated enough momentum to carry themselves through the middle frame with dominance.

Coyle found DeBrusk through the neutral zone and presented No. 74 in black and gold on a breakaway, whereby DeBrusk (19) beat Vasilevskiy over the blocker side for his first goal in 11 games.

DeBrusk’s goal gave Boston a two-goal lead and was assisted by Coyle (20) at 10:06 of the second period.

Moments later, Mikhail Sergachev slashed DeBrusk at 12:54 and presented the B’s with yet another power play.

Once more, however, the Bruins were powerless on the skater advantage.

Late in the period, Mitchell Stephens (3) threw a shot on goal from close range that beat Rask after the Lightning just about beat the Bruins into submission with tremendous sustained pressure in the offensive zone.

Tyler Johnson (16) and Barclay Goodrow (18) notched the assists on Stephens’ goal at 17:28 and the Bolts cut Boston’s lead in half, 2-1.

In the dying seconds of the middle frame, Joakim Nordstrom and Gourde exchanged fisticuffs after a post whistle scrum ensued in front of the Boston net.

Nordstrom and Gourde each received five-minute majors for fighting at 19:56 and the two teams went into the second intermission in a tight, emotionally charged game.

Boston led Tampa, 2-1, on the scoreboard and, 31-14, in shots on goal through 40 minutes of play on Tuesday.

The Bruins also maintained the advantage in blocked shots (12-9) and faceoff win% (55-45).

The Lightning led in hits (26-11) after two periods, while both teams had four takeaways and one giveaway each.

As there were no penalties called in the third period, Boston finished 0/3 on the power play and Tampa finished 0/1 on the skater advantage on Tuesday night.

Nobody scored and nobody was penalized in the final frame of regulation, but Lightning head coach, Jon Cooper, pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker with about 1:05 remaining in the game to no avail as Boston’s defense stood tall and was backstopped by Rask in the dying seconds.

The Bruins finished the game with the, 2-1, victory and leading in shots on goal, 35-21, as well as blocked shots (21-10) and faceoff win% (57-43).

Tampa finished the night leading in giveaways (3-2) and hits (35-22).

Boston improved to 25-7-8 when scoring the game’s first goal, 24-5-3 when leading after one period and 27-1-6 when leading after two periods this season.

The Bruins also improved to 13-5-2 when scoring first on the road, 13-4-2 when leading after one period and 15-1-2 when leading after two periods on the road.

Tampa fell to 13-11-3 when allowing the game’s first goal, 7-7-1 when trailing after one period and 4-15-0 when trailing after two periods this season.

The Lightning are now 5-6-2 when allowing the game’s first goal at home, 3-5-1 when trailing after one period and 1-7-0 when trailing after two periods at home this season.

The B’s conclude their current three-game road trip (2-0-0) on Thursday with a game against the Florida Panthers before returning home to host the Lightning on Saturday.

2019-20 League Forecast Entering November

For the first time this season, the calendar is flipped to a new month– and with a new month comes new expectations.

All 31 National Hockey League teams are starting to find a rhythm– for better or worse– and it’s time to acknowledge the general trends of what to expect based on what’s already happened for the first 1/8th of the season (approximately).

American Thanksgiving is still around the corner, which means that any team in a playoff position by Nov. 28th is more likely to qualify for the playoffs by April 4th.

There’s enough time between now and then for a lot to change.

As always, that means it’s time for a new forecast based on what we’ve seen so far and what we may see in the future.

In other words, here’s an educated guess based on a formulaic approach thanks to the wonderful world of spreadsheets.

This isn’t an exact science. It takes into account everything from the last few seasons, as well as every little detail through the end of Oct. 31, 2019.

Anything can happen. It’s a long road to April.

Projected Standings After One Month

Eastern Conference

Atlantic Division

  1. p-Boston Bruins, 110 points (12 games played entering November 1st)
  2. x-Tampa Bay Lightning, 106 points (12 GP)
  3. x-Montreal Canadiens, 92 points (13 GP)
  4. Florida Panthers, 91 points (13 GP)
  5. Toronto Maple Leafs, 91 points (14 GP)
  6. Buffalo Sabres, 82 points (13 GP)
  7. Detroit Red Wings, 79 points (13 GP)
  8. Ottawa Senators, 74 points (11 GP)

The Boston Bruins are off to a hot start thanks to Tuukka Rask’s stellar goaltending (6-0-1 record, 1.42 goals against average, .951 save percentage in seven games played) and David Pastrnak’s hot stick (12-12–24 totals in 12 games played).

Bruce Cassidy’s leadership behind the bench has steered the B’s away from a Stanley Cup Final appearance hangover and towards another playoff berth for what would be the fourth year in-a-row.

Meanwhile, after a slow start to their season, Jon Cooper and the Tampa Bay Lightning casually waltz into home ice advantage in at least the First Round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs and Claude Julien re-enters the postseason frame with the Montreal Canadiens as if it’s 2004 again (granted, Julien and the Habs made it in 2017, but only after Julien replaced Michel Therrien as head coach for the second time).

Joel Quenneville’s first season as head coach of the Florida Panthers led to an improvement, but not quite enough to get them back into the postseason, while another Stanely Cup winning coach took his team in a different direction.

That coach is Mike Babcock and that team is the Toronto Maple Leafs, who trudged through the middle of the road all season and ended up just outside of a wild card spot in the Eastern Conference (unless Kyle Dubas and Brendan Shanahan decide to stray from the “Shanaplan”).

Though the Buffalo Sabres are hot right now, it seems history repeats itself. Buffalo’s great October, November and/or December wasn’t enough to sustain themselves through the winer months of January, February and March, but overall the team improved and should be a playoff contender next season.

At least the Sabres aren’t the Detroit Red Wings (still a few years away from being a contender) or the Ottawa Senators (they say they’ll spend money in 2021, but…).

Metropolitan Division

  1. y-Washington Capitals, 110 points (14 GP)
  2. x-Pittsburgh Penguins, 102 points (13 GP)
  3. x-New York Islanders, 95 points (11 GP)
  4. wc1-Carolina Hurricanes, 92 points (12 GP)
  5. wc2-Columbus Blue Jackets, 91 points (12 GP)
  6. Philadelphia Flyers, 89 points (11 GP)
  7. New York Rangers, 87 points (10 GP)
  8. New Jersey Devils, 81 points (10 GP)

Alex Ovechkin continues his annual quest for the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy and likely succeeds unless Pastrnak has anything to say about it.

In the meantime, the Washington Capitals continue to take home the regular season crown in the Metropolitan Division because somehow they always seem to do that no matter the postseason outcome.

The Pittsburgh Penguins avoid major missteps without Evgeni Malkin in the lineup for most of October due to injury and turned things on for the duration of the second half of the season as they always do, yielding 2nd place in the Metropolitan Division.

Barry Trotz’s leadership with the New York Islanders has keep things tight-knit and playoff bound, but unless every 2020 Stanley Cup Playoff home game for the Isles is played at NYCB Live/Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, then it’s not worth it.

Rod Brind’Amour is the best coach for the Carolina Hurricanes and he continues to climb the ranks of “best head coaches in franchise history” with another wild card appearance, at least, and what should be yet another thrilling playoff run for the Canes.

Meanwhile, somehow the Columbus Blue Jackets pieced together enough wins to snag the last wild card spot in the Eastern Conference before bowing out in the First Round due to a lack of depth.

Finally, the Philadelphia Flyers, New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils are all near the bottom of the division, but only with a few points spread between them– meaning that anything after 1st or 2nd place in the division is realistically up for grabs as long as a team goes on a perfectly timed run.

Western Conference

Central Division

  1. z-Nashville Predators, 104 points (13 GP)
  2. x-St. Louis Blues, 101 points (13 GP)
  3. x-Winnipeg Jets, 93 points (13 GP)
  4. wc1-Colorado Avalanche, 92 points (12 GP)
  5. Chicago Blackhawks, 87 points (11 GP)
  6. Dallas Stars, 86 points (14 GP)
  7. Minnesota Wild, 85 points (13 GP)

In the Western Conference, the Nashville Predators are going to pounce on the competition as the leaders of the West in the regular season. The only trouble is, they still might blow it in the last second of overtime or something.

The defending champion St. Louis Blues are content to finish 2nd in the Central Division, but remain hungry in their quest for another Cup.

After a slow start to the season, Paul Maurice and the Winnipeg Jets somehow right the ship and earned themselves the last divisional spot in the Central Division.

But the Colorado Avalanche hold a wild card spot in the latest forecast as the real wild card of the entire Western Conference. Injuries could hold them back in the regular season, but they’ve shown they can make noise in the playoffs last spring.

Otherwise, if the Avs can stay healthy for longer periods of time, then Colorado could climb in the standings.

Finally, the Chicago Blackhawks are still trending in the wrong direction– facing the existential crisis of holding onto the old guard or continuing to dismantle their Cup-winning core– while the Dallas Stars and Minnesota Wild compete for the worst of the former and/or current Minnesota franchises this season.

Spoiler alert, it’s the Wild.

Pacific Division

  1. y-Vegas Golden Knights, 101 points (14 GP)
  2. x-Anaheim Ducks, 96 points (14 GP)
  3. x-San Jose Sharks, 92 points (13 GP)
  4. wc2-Calgary Flames, 91 points (15 GP)
  5. Vancouver Canucks, 89 points (12 GP)
  6. Edmonton Oilers, 84 points (14 GP)
  7. Arizona Coyotes, 82 points (12 GP)
  8. Los Angeles Kings, 82 points (13 GP)

Nothing is going how things were expected to go in the Pacific Division and as a result, there’s still no conclusive results.

The Vegas Golden Knights are good and could likely win the Pacific Division regular season title, but the Anaheim Ducks aren’t bowing out of playoff contention just yet.

Meanwhile, the San Jose Sharks are as bad as the Los Angeles Kings, so this forecast will be further fine-tuned next month as the Sharks continue to slip from dominant to dormant in the standings.

The Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers all might take a stab at playoff contention, yet the Arizona Coyotes are on the rise.

At the very least, this is the most unpredictable division in the league that not even our current forecast can make any definitive claims.

Check back next month for further separation in the spread, as well as a more realistic view of where each team should likely land within the range of standings.

DTFR Podcast #174- Coaching Conundrums

Some firsts, 100s, broken fingers and pointing fingers– who should be concerned about their job security behind the bench? Plus Cap’n and Pete are back.

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsStitcher and/or on Spotify. Support the show on Patreon.

Lightning strike Bruins, 4-3, in shootout victory

Steven Stamkos’ only goal in a shootout was enough to lift the Tampa Bay Lightning over the Boston Bruins, 4-3, on Thursday night at TD Garden.

The Bolts led briefly in the third period before the B’s tied the game almost two minutes later and forced overtime.

Andrei Vasilevskiy (4-1-0, 2.58 goals against average, .921 save percentage in five games played) made 34 saves on 37 shots against for a .919 SV% in the shootout win for Tampa.

Boston goaltender, Tuukka Rask (3-0-1, 1.72 GAA, .946 SV% in four games played) stopped 33 out of 36 shots faced for a .917 SV% in the shootout loss.

The Bruins fell to 5-1-1 (11 points) on the season and temporarily moved into 1st place in the Atlantic Division before the Buffalo Sabres won their late game Thursday night and regained control of the Atlantic.

Meanwhile, the Lightning improved to 4-2-1 (9 points) and moved into 3rd place in the Atlantic, thanks to having more points in fewer games than the Toronto Maple Leafs (Tampa has nine points in seven games, while Toronto has nine points in eight games).

For the seventh time this season, Kevan Miller (knee) and John Moore (shoulder) were out of the action due to injury.

David Krejci (upper body) was also ruled out of Thursday night’s action after sustaining an injury or re-injuring something in Monday afternoon’s meeting with the Anaheim Ducks.

Miller and Moore both skated on their own in red no-contact sweaters before practice Thursday morning, while Krejci’s prognosis is to be determined.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, juggled his lines in Krejci’s absence, moving Charlie Coyle and Brett Ritchie up to the second line with Jake DeBrusk (celebrating his 23rd birthday on Thursday) at left wing, while re-inserting Par Lindholm in the lineup at center on the third line and bumping Karson Kuhlman to the third line right wing.

Connor Clifton was also back in the lineup for Boston after serving his time as a healthy scratch against the Ducks.

David Backes and Steven Kampfer were the only healthy scratches for Boston on Thursday.

Midway through the opening frame, Lightning forward, Mikhail Sergachev, was guilty of holding Bruins forward, Brett Ritchie, and was sent to the penalty box at 9:27 of the first period.

Seven seconds into the ensuing power play, Boston’s David Pastrnak (7) struck first on the scoreboard with a power play goal on a one-timer pass from Patrice Bergeron to give the B’s the lead, 1-0, at 9:34.

Bergeron (5) and Torey Krug (4) had the assists on Pastrnak’s goal.

With his 5th consecutive goal for Boston, Pastrnak tied Dunc Fisher for the 2nd most consecutive goals in Bruins franchise history. Glen Murray is the team record holder with six consecutive goals for Boston in the 2003-04 season, while Pastrnak and Fisher each have five in 2019-20 and 1951-52, repsectively.

Less than two minutes later, Sean Kuraly hooked Nikita Kucherov and Tampa went on the skater advantage for the first time of the night.

The Bruins killed off Kuraly’s minor without any major issues.

Moments later, Bergeron was penalized for slashing against Ondrej Palat and cut a rut to the sin bin at 16:09.

Once more, the Bolts weren’t able to convert on the resulting power play.

In the final seconds of the first period, Yanni Gourde flipped the puck through the neutral zone to Brayden Point (3) who entered the attacking zone on a quick breakaway and elevated the puck into the top of the twine to tie the game, 1-1, at 19:59.

Gourde (3) and Victor Hedman (6) notched the assists on Point’s goal as the teams went into the first intermission knotted at, 1-1.

Tampa led in shots on goal (16-11), hits (12-4) and faceoff win percentage (60-40), while Boston held the advantage in blocked shots (4-1) and giveaways (8-4).

Both teams had two takeaways aside after 20 minutes of action.

The Lightning were 0/2 on the skater advantage, while the B’s were 1/1 on the power play heading into the second period.

Bergeron took a beating early in the middle frame as No. 37 in black-and-gold was on the receiving end of consecutive penalties by the Lightning.

First, Carter Verhaeghe tripped Bergeron at 2:15 of the second period, then Gourde interfered with Bergeron at 6:23.

Boston was unsuccessful on their first power play of the second period, but worked their magic while Gourde was in the box.

Bergeron (2) redirected a slap pass from Pastrnak into the twine to give the Bruins their second power play goal of the game and the lead, 2-1.

Pastrnak (5) and Brad Marchand (6) tallied the assists on Bergeron’s goal at 7:26.

Shortly after regaining the lead, the Bruins turned the puck over at an inopportune time, leading to a quality scoring chance for the Bolts.

Tampa forward, Alex Killorn, fired a shot that Rask got a chunk of, but couldn’t contain the rebound as Mathieu Joseph (2) pounced on the loose puck for the tap-in goal, tying the game, 2-2.

Killorn (3) and Erik Cernak (1) were credited with the assists on Joseph’s goal at 10:32..

Late in the period, Cernak was charged with a minor for interference against Lindholm at 17:56 and the B’s went on the power play for the fourth time of the night.

Boston was not able to capitalize on the skater advantage, however.

Through 40 minutes of action at TD Garden, the Bruins and Lightning were tied, 2-2, on the scoreboard.

Tampa led in shots on goal (29-21– including a, 13-10, advantage in the second period alone), blocked shots (6-5) and hits (22-9), while Boston led in takeaways (4-3) and giveaways (11-8).

The two clubs were split in faceoff win%, 50-50.

The Bolts were powerless on the power play (0/2) after two periods, while the B’s were 2/4 on the skater advantage heading into the third period.

Midway through the final frame of regulation, Matt Grzelcyk hooked Pat Maroon while trailing the Lightning forward and was sent to the box at 8:25 of the third.

Tampa didn’t convert on their third power play opportunity of the night and the Bruins killed off Grzelcyk’s minor as a result.

After dominating in shots on net, Boston gave up a chance the other way that Kevin Shattenkirk (4) was sure to take advantage of– sending a snap shot over Rask’s glove side from the faceoff dot to give the Lightning their first lead of the night, 3-2, at 15:13 of the third period.

Stamkos (5) and Point (2) recorded the assists on Shattenkirk’s goal.

The Bolts followed up their lead with a quick penalty of their own– Anthony Cirelli was guilty of a minor infraction for tripping Pastrnak at 16:08.

On the ensuing skater advantage, Boston fired everything but the kitchen sink towards the goal, missing the net entirely a couple of times, but proving to be worthy in the long-run.

After Marchand fired a shot off the endboards that caromed back into the slot, Pastrnak (8) sent the puck off of Shattenkirk’s stick and into the net behind Vasilevskiy to tie the game, 3-3, with his 2nd goal of the night.

Marchand (7) and Krug (5) each had a hand in assisting Pastrnak’s power play goal at 16:55.

Boston’s three goals all came on the power play, while Tampa’s weak penalty kill was on full display Thursday night.

At the end of regulation, the score remained tied, 3-3, on the scoreboard, while Tampa held onto a slim advantage in shots on goal, 33-32, despite trailing, 11-4, in shots on goal in the third period alone.

The Lightning maintained an advantage in blocked shots (12-9), takeaways (7-6), giveaways (15-12), hits (29-21) and faceoff win% (53-47) heading into overtime.

The Bolts were 0/3 on the power play, while the B’s were 3/5 on the skater advantage.

Cassidy started Coyle, Pastrnak and Krug in overtime, while Tampa’s head coach, Jon Cooper, opted for Cirelli, Killon and Hedman to kick things off in the five-minute, 3-on-3, OT action.

Neither team scored and Marchand had Point in a headlock in the dying seconds to prevent a last second scoring chance for the Bolts.

He was assessed a roughing penalty at 5:00 of the overtime period, but could still take part in the shootout, because apparently there’s no rule that’d say otherwise.

After the overtime period, the Bruins held the slight advantage in shots on goal, 37-36, including a, 5-3, advantage in overtime alone.

Tampa finished the night with the lead in blocked shots (12-9), giveaways (15-12), hits (31-21) and faceoff win% (53-47), while both teams had seven takeaways aside.

The Lightning finished the night 0/3 on the power play and the B’s went 3/5.

Boston elected to shoot second in the shootout, thereby giving Tampa the first shot of the first round of the shootout.

Cooper sent Hedman to get things started, but the defender was denied by Rask with a blocker save.

Cassidy responded by sending Coyle for the first attempt on Vasilevskiy, but the Tampa netminder wasn’t fooled by Coyle’s deke and made a pad save.

Point made an appearance for the Lightning in the second round of the shootout, but clipped Rask’s blocker and sent the puck wide of the net.

Next up for Boston, Pastrnak flat out missed the goal frame, leaving the shootout tied, 0-0, through two rounds.

Last season’s Art Ross Trophy and Hart Memorial Trophy winner, Kucherov had Tampa’s first shot of the third round of the shootout, but was stopped by Rask with the pad save as Kucherov tried to go five-hole.

In response, Marchand tried to get Vasilevskiy to stretch just far enough that Marchand would’ve eluded the Lightning goaltender, but Vasilevskiy made the save with the right leg pad and kept the shootout even, 0-0, through three rounds.

Finally, Stamkos broke open the scoring in the shootout with a shot high over Rask’s blocker and into the back of the net to give Tampa the, 1-0, advantage– meaning Boston would have to score to extend the shootout.

Celebrating his birthday in style, DeBrusk was given Boston’s last chance in the shootout, but was stopped by Vasilevskiy’s blocker, leaving the Bruins scoreless in the shootout and with the, 4-3, loss in the final boxscore.

Boston wrapped up their three-game homestand 2-0-1 thanks to their shootout loss to Tampa on Thursday.

The Bruins travel to Toronto for a home and home series with the Maple Leafs on Oct. 19th at Scotiabank Arena and Oct. 22nd at TD Garden.

It will be Boston and Toronto’s first meeting since their 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round matchup.

Afterwards, the B’s then have a few days off until they’ll face the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues in a 2019 Stanley Cup Final rematch for the first time this season at home on Oct. 26th.

St. Louis kicks off the first games on back-to-back days for the Bruins this season, as Boston will travel to Madison Square Garden to face the New York Rangers on Oct. 27th before finishing the month on home ice against the San Jose Sharks on Oct. 29th.

DTFR Podcast #173- Rage Against The Other Team

The Philadelphia Flyers are all the rage these days, the Carolina Hurricanes are still causing a storm, what’s bedeviling the New Jersey Devils and, uh, is Sergei Bobrovsky still good?

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DTFR Podcast #172- Participation Trophies After One Game (Part IV)

The 2019-20 season has begun, so naturally we handed out awards in our 4th Annual Participation Trophies After One Game ceremony.

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Tampa Bay Lightning 2019-20 Season Preview

Tampa Bay Lightning

62-16-4, 128 points, 1st in the Atlantic Division

Eliminated in the First Round by Columbus

Additions: F Pat Maroon, F Chris Mueller, F Gemel Smith, D Kevin Shattenkirk, D Luke Schenn, D Luke Witkowski, G Mike Condon (acquired from OTT), G Spencer Martin, G Curtis McElhinney, G Scott Wedgewood

Subtractions: F Andy Andreoff (signed with PHI), F Michael Bournival (retired), F Ryan Callahan (traded to OTT), F Gabriel Dumont (signed with MIN) F Adam Erne (traded to DET), F Mitch Hults (signed with Stockton, AHL), F Kevin Lynch (signed with Laval, AHL), F J.T. Miller (traded to VAN), D Dan Girardi (retired), D Anton Stralman (signed with FLA), G Connor Ingram (traded to NSH), G Edward Pasquale (KHL)

Still Unsigned: G Marek Mazanec (ELH, TBL reserve list)

Re-signed: F Danick Martel, F Cedric Paquette, F Brayden Point, F Carter Verhaeghe, D Dominik Masin, D Ben Thomas

Offseason Analysis: Despite tying the NHL record for the most wins in the regular season, the Tampa Bay Lightning couldn’t even win a playoff game and were swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the First Round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Every year, a lot of people pick the Lightning to win the Stanley Cup and every year, a lot of people are disappointed.

On paper, this team is like the San Jose Sharks– really good and should win every season. In reality, this team is nothing like the San Jose Sharks, because Tampa has at least won the Cup before in 2004.

Bolts GM, Julien BriseBois, had one primary focus this offseason– re-signing Brayden Point.

Everything else was just excess.

Anton Stralman became expendable at his high cost and Dan Girardi aged out of Tampa’s system.

In their place– veteran defenders in their prime and on one-year contracts– Kevin Shattenkirk and Luke Schenn are fully capable of taking on top-six defensive roles with the Lightning. Shattenkirk is yet another former New York Ranger to head join Tampa– this time on a one-year, $1.750 million deal– and Schenn costs the Bolts a league minimum, $700,000.

BriseBois also brought in a revolving door of backup goaltenders with Curtis McElhinney as the main course behind Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Tampa’s starter himself (Vasilevskiy), signed an eight-year extension worth $76.000 million ($9.500 million cap hit) that goes into effect next season.

BriseBois negotiated a team-friendly bridge deal with Point, keeping the 23-year-old center in a Lightning sweater for three more years at $6.750 million per season (the same cap hit as Patrik Laine’s new deal with the Winnipeg Jets, but with an extra year).

In the third season of his current contract, however, Point’s salary will be $9.000 million, which means Tampa will have to tender a qualifying offer of at least $9.000 million to re-sign him three years from now.

Point’s going to get paid big money on his next deal and the Bolts are banking on the salary cap to go up with increased league revenue thanks to a new U.S. TV broadcasting rights deal that will have to be signed by then too.

For now, head coach, Jon Cooper can continue to relax and coach his casual style for the regular season, at least.

Come playoff time, he’ll have to tighten the reigns a bit in hopes of driving Tampa’s compete level to an all time high for what’s expected to be a deeper run than a First Round embarrassment.

To keep the band together for the time being, BriseBois shipped J.T. Miller to the Vancouver Canucks for Marek Mazanec (since signed with a team in the Czech Republic), a 2019 3rd round pick and a conditional 2020 1st round pick in June, dumped Ryan Callahan’s contract and a 2020 5th round pick in Ottawa for now former Senators backup, Mike Condon, and a 2020 6th round pick in July and traded Adam Erne to the Detroit Red Wings for a 2020 4th round pick in August.

In the end, Point signed a team friendly cap hit, but with the long-term cost of having to rebalance the books in 2022.

Offseason Grade: C+

For a team that didn’t meet their high expectations, the Lightning met their goals for this offseason– don’t overreact and re-sign Point.

They made some minor moves and understand the core of the roster still has enough in it for at least a few more years together until bigger philosophical questions must come into consideration.

DTFR Podcast #169- 2019-20 Season Preview: Metropolitan Division

Mitch Marner finally re-signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Boston Bruins announced a couple key extensions, more RFA deals were signed and the NHLPA decided not to re-open the current collective bargaining agreement as DTFR’s season previews continued with the Metropolitan Division.

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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.