Tag Archives: Justin Abdelkader

Red Wings top Bruins, 4-2, at TD Garden

For the first time since October 4, 2013, the Detroit Red Wings have a victory in regulation at TD Garden, having beaten the Boston Bruins, 4-2, on Saturday.

Frans Nielsen scored the game-winning goal on a tip-in midway through the third period and Gustav Nyquist added the insurance empty net goal late in the third to lift Detroit over Boston on the road.

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Jimmy Howard (9-6-3, 2.66 goals against average, .923 save percentage in 19 games played) backstopped the Red Wings to victory, stopping 38 out of 40 shots faced for a .950 SV% in the win, while Bruins netminder, Tuukka Rask (6-5-2, 2.59 GAA, .915 SV% in 13 GP) turned aside 23 out of 26 shots against for a .917 SV% in the loss.

Boston remained in 4th place in the Atlantic Division, despite the loss, with a 14-8-4 record (32 points) on the season, while Detroit jumped to 6th place in the Atlantic with a 12-11-3 record and 27 points on the year.

Brandon Carlo returned to the lineup for the B’s on the blue line after missing the last nine games with an upper body injury. As a result, Bruce Cassidy made Steven Kampfer a healthy scratch, alongside Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson (healthy scratch), Zdeno Chara (lower body, left MCL), Patrice Bergeron (upper body), Urho Vaakanainen (concussion), Charlie McAvoy (concussion) and Kevan Miller (throat) in the press box.

Cassidy kept the same lines from Thursday night’s overtime win against the New York Islanders, but adjusted his defensive pairs as such with John Moore alongside Matt Grzelcyk, Torey Krug with Carlo and Jeremy Lauzon on the bottom pair with Connor Clifton.

Colby Cave was penalized for boarding Detroit forward, Justin Abdelkader, 65 seconds into the game Saturday night and the Red Wings went on the power play.

Boston killed off the penalty with ease and swapped special team units from their penalty kill to the power play about 30 seconds after Cave returned to the ice as Abdelkader slashed Krug at 3:38 of the first period.

The Bruins did not convert on the ensuing power play.

Sean Kuraly tripped up Michael Rasmussen at 13:34, but the Red Wings were unable to take advantage of their skater advantage.

Shortly thereafter, Dennis Cholowski caught David Pastrnak with a high-stick at 16:30, sending the B’s back on the power play for the third time Saturday night, but while the Bruins couldn’t score on the Red Wings on the power play, they did strike in the vulnerable minute thereafter.

David Backes (2) retrieved the puck along the wall in the attacking zone and sent a backhand towards the goal whereby the puck deflected off of Cholowski and went past Howard to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead with 3.8 seconds remaining in the first period.

Moore (3) and Cave (1) had the assists on Backes’ goal at 19:56. Cave’s assist was his first career NHL point in just his 8th career NHL game (Cave appeared in three games last season and five so far this season).

Entering the first intermission, Boston led, 1-0, on the scoreboard and trailed Detroit, 13-11, in shots on goal. The Bruins, however, held the advantage in blocked shots (6-4) and giveaways (6-3), while the Red Wings led in takeaways (5-3), hits (9-5) and face-off win percentage (65-35).

Both teams were 0/2 on the power play after on period.

Tyler Bertuzzi (9) tied things up, 1-1, at 5:45 of the second period on a deflection past Rask off of a shot from Rasmussen. The primary assist was credited to Rasmussen (4), while Mike Green (12) picked up the secondary assist.

Bertuzzi thought he had a pair of goals midway through the middle frame, Thomas Vanek had slid between Clifton and Rask just enough to clip Rask’s stick and prevent him from playing in the crease to disallow the goal– this was determined after Boston used their coach’s challenge, reversing the call on the ice.

With the game still tied, 1-1, tempers began to flare.

First, Cholowski slashed Chris Wagner at 12:47 of the second period. Then Luke Witkowski delivered a hit on David Krejci that didn’t sit well with Boston’s bench given it was the second consecutive game in which Krejci took a big– but clean– blow.

Joakim Nordstrom answered the call and promptly fought Witkowski in defense of his teammate at 15:08 of the middle period.

Shortly thereafter, all hell broke loose.

Brad Marchand delivered a hit on Nick Jensen along the boards in a clean manner that didn’t sit well with Detroit given Witkowski’s clean check on Krejci moments before. Nonetheless, Bertuzzi decided he’d give Marchand a piece of his mind and the two engaged in a battle of words and sticks with Bertuzzi delivering an uncalled cross-check.

Cave came over to respond to the third-man-in mentality of Bertuzzi and a small scrum ensued– right about the time Howard was vacating his net for a delayed call on Marchand.

Howard bumped into the scrum and swung his stick around to the observation of Rask at the other end of the ice in the crease, whereby– as everyone on the ice paired up along the benches– Rask came bursting with speed into the pile and tried to engage Howard in a fight, but the refs broke the two goaltenders up.

We almost had a goalie fight, ladies and gentlemen. Almost.

It would’ve been the first goaltender duel at TD Garden since Boston’s Tim Thomas and Montreal’s Carey Price went at it in February 2011.

In the end, Marchand received a slashing minor and Cave was served one as well. Howard got an infraction for roughing, Rask was penalized for leaving the crease, and Jacob de la Rose received two-minutes for slashing too.

Bertuzzi shortly followed up with an unsportsmanlike conduct minor penalty of his own before Detroit ended up on the power play after all was said and done.

Dylan Larkin (10) capitalized on a scramble in front of Rask after the Bruins netminder made the initial stop. Noel Acciari failed to clear the puck and Nyquist kept it in the zone– flinging the rubber biscuit back to the slot for Larkin to pot the puck into the twine.

Abdelkader (4) and Nyquist (16) had the assists on Larkin’s power play goal at 17:36 of the second period and the Red Wings led, 2-1.

Before the second period ended, Green hooked Pastrnak and the Bruins would be on the power play at 18:42 and into the third period.

Heading into the dressing room after 40 minutes, Detroit led, 2-1, and was tied in shots on goal with Boston, 20-20. The Bruins outshot the Red Wings, 9-7, in the second period alone and held onto the advantage in giveaways (8-5).

The Red Wings led in blocked shots (11-9), takeaways (7-4), hits (17-16) and face-off win% (57-43). Detroit was 1/3 on the power play heading into the final frame and Boston was 0/5.

Danny DeKeyser caught Acciari with a high-stick at 4:45 of the third period and the Bruins went on the power play for the sixth time in the game.

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This time, Boston converted on the ensuing skater advantage with Ryan Donato (2) flying in on a rush and firing the puck past Howard, high, short-side over the blocker into the twine.

Donato’s power play goal tied the game, 2-2, at 5:31 of the third period and was assisted by Pastrnak (11) and Krug (12).

Past the mid-point of the final frame, Nielsen (1) tipped in a shot from the point by DeKeyser and gave the Red Wings the lead back on what would become the game-winning goal at 11:53 of the third period.

DeKeyser (6) and Nyquist (17) had the assists on the goal and Detroit led, 3-2.

The goal was Nielsen’s first goal in 27 games– dating back to March 27, 2018.

Cassidy pulled Rask for an extra attacker with about two minutes remaining in regulation, but it wasn’t enough to muster any fighting chance of an effort in the Bruins crew that looked flat after a rousing second period that almost broke-out in a line-brawl.

Nyquist (4) flung a puck from about the red line into the empty net to give Detroit a two-goal lead and secure the 4-2 victory. DeKeyser (7) had the only assist on Nyquist’s goal at 19:33 of the third period.

At the final horn, the Red Wings sealed the deal on the win and beat the Bruins, 4-2, despite Boston outshooting Detroit, 40-27. Detroit finished the night leading in blocked shots (16-9), hits (22-21) and face-off win% (63-37), while the B’s led in giveaways (11-6).

The Wings finished the night 1/4 on the power play and Boston went 1/6.

These two Atlantic Division rivals meet once more this season on March 31, 2019 in Detroit with the Red Wings leading the season series, 2-1-0.

Boston travels to Florida for a two-game road trip, swinging through Sunrise, Florida for a matchup against the Panthers on Tuesday and Tampa, Florida on Thursday for a battle with the Lightning before returning home next Saturday to host the Toronto Maple Leafs.

2018 Offseason Preview: Detroit Red Wings

Our offseason previews for all 31 National Hockey League teams continues with the Detroit Red Wings and their outlook for the summer.

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After missing the playoffs for the first time in over a quarter of a century, the Detroit Red Wings have only begun phase one of what looks to be a longer rebuild than some of the other recent rebuilds in the league– but one offseason, this offseason, can change the pace.

Detroit finished 5th in the Atlantic Division with a 30-39-13 record and 73 points on the season in 2017-18. While that’s two places removed from a divisional spot in the current Stanley Cup Playoff format, keep in mind that 73 points would put them just ahead of the Arizona Coyotes and tied with the Vancouver Canucks in the overall league standings.

So things, while they may seem otherwise, are pretty dire in the Red Wings organization.

Short of trading Petr Mrazek to the Philadelphia Flyers for Philadelphia’s stretch run to the postseason, the Red Wings didn’t make much news in the headlines or noise around the league.

General Manager Ken Holland signed a two-year extension in April to remain as Detroit’s general manager through the 2019-20 season and looks to see this rebuild through in his tenure with the franchise.

2018 NHL Entry Draft

The Red Wings currently have two first round picks in the Draft as part of seven total picks in the first three rounds (two firsts, two second round picks and three third round picks).

Pending any transactions, Detroit is expected to select 6th and 30th overall (via the Vegas Golden Knights, thanks to the Tomas Tatar deadline deal).

They’ll likely search for help on the blueline in Quintin Hughes, Evan Bouchard or Adam Boqvist with the higher of the two picks and could very well utilize any of the five other picks in the first three rounds on either prospects or additions to the current roster via a trade.

Author’s note (for those interested): Detroit has their own first round pick, Vegas’s first round pick, their own second round pick, Ottawa’s second round pick, their own third round pick, Philadelphia’s third round pick and Pittsburgh’s third round pick in the first three rounds of the 2018 Draft.

Pending free agents

Despite a lot of no-trade-clauses and no-movement-clauses to work around, the Red Wings have almost $17.4 million in cap space this summer and five pending-restricted free agents to re-sign, including Andreas Athanasiou, Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha.

It’s imperative that Holland finds a trading partner or two to ship out one or more of the players with NTCs or NMCs willing to waive their clause(s), because Larkin’s next deal alone (both in cap and clauses) could very well strap the team in a wedge of roster components that they cannot otherwise move around.

Darren Helm, Justin Abdelkader and Gustav Nyqvist present themselves as viable options to move with Helm, 31, and Abdelkader, 31, having to waive their NTCs before agreeing to any deal and Nyqvist as a 28-year-old rental player with one-year remaining on his current contract.

Anthanasiou, Tyler Bertuzzi, Martin Frk and Mantha are several key components to the club moving forward and should all be re-signed, while pending-unrestricted free agent forward, David Booth, likely could hit the open market.

On defense, the Red Wings currently have three blueliners age 34 and older in the likes of Jonathan Ericsson, Trevor Daley and Niklas Kronwall.

Ericsson and Kronwall are two cornerstones of Detroit’s defense in both their tenure with the team in addition to their veteran presence, while Daley was signed last July after winning a couple of Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins. All three have some form of an NTC and are signed at a combined cap hit of $12.167 million next season, with Kronwall only signed through the end of 2018-19 at $4.750 million.

Holland will have to make some dance moves to address the overabundance of NTCs and NMCs sooner rather than later, but can probably put the defense on the back burner for another year as part of the long haul plan.

Mike Green is the only pending-UFA defender and since he wasn’t dealt at the deadline as a 32-year-old veteran seeking his first chance at a Cup, should not return to the organization.

Jimmy Howard is the number one goaltender in Detroit for the foreseeable future with one-year remaining on his contract.

As such, finding a competitive backup that could overtake Howard for the number one role remains a priority this offseason, given Jared Coreau‘s less than impressive bid for starting goaltender status.

Speaking of Coreau, the 26-year-old goaltender is a pending-UFA.

If Holland is willing to risk a season worse than this one in an already weak Atlantic Division, then the time is now to make some moves and truly bottom out before rising quickly back to Cup contender status like the great Red Wings teams of the 1990s and 2000s.

Other pending free agents throughout the organization include:

Daniel Renouf (RFA), Matt Puempel (RFA), Ben Street (UFA), Eric Tangradi (UFA), Turner Elson (UFA), Tom McCollum (UFA), Zach Nastasiuk (RFA), Matt Lorito (UFA), Matej Machovsky (RFA)

February 25 – Day 137 – MSG’s newest addition

Don’t be sad that the Olympic hockey tournaments are gone. Instead, remember the fun we had.

That brings our full attention back to the NHL, and not a moment too soon: today’s half-dozen games are the final fixtures before tomorrow’s trade deadline. Here’s hoping your favorite player is still on your team’s roster by tomorrow’s puck drop!

Today’s schedule gets underway at noon with St. Louis at Nashville (NBC/TVAS), followed by Boston at Buffalo (SN360) five hours later and Detroit at the New York Rangers (NHLN) at 7:30 p.m. Two games drop the puck at 8 p.m. (Edmonton at Anaheim [SN] and San Jose at Minnesota), followed by tonight’s nightcap – Vancouver at Arizona – at 9:30 p.m. All times Eastern.

There’s more than a few interesting narratives associated with today’s games. Here’s just a few:

  • St. Louis at Nashville: It’s a rematch of one of last year’s Western Conference Semifinals! The Predators won that series in six games.
  • Boston at Buffalo: This rivalry has died down with the decline of the Sabres, but perhaps there’s a surprise in store today.
  • Detroit at New York: Not only is this an Original Six rivalry, but the Rangers are retiring C Jean Ratelle‘s 19.
  • Edmonton at Anaheim: The other 2017 Western Semifinal is also being revisited today. The Ducks needed all seven games to beat the Oil.

There have been few like Ratelle, so let’s make the trip to Manhattan to ensure his sweater ends up where it rightfully belongs: in the Madison Square Garden rafters.

 

Ratelle played his first NHL game during the 1960-’61 season following three successful campaigns with the Guelph Biltmore Mad Hatters/Guelph Royals, the Rangers’ OHA farm team before the creation of the NHL Entry Draft.

After suffering and recovering from a back injury during the 1963-’64, Ratelle earned a permanent spot on the Blueshirts’ roster a season later – and he never looked back. In 54 games, he scored decent 14-21-35 totals, followed by even better 21-30-51 marks in 1965-’66.

Those are decent numbers, but nothing really worth retiring a sweater over.

That all changed during the 1967-’68 campaign. Entering the season with only 139 points in 259 games played for his career, 27-year-old Ratelle registered a whopping 32-46-78 performance, starting a run of six-consecutive 70+ point seasons and 13-consecutive 67+ point seasons.

During the 1970-’71 season, Ratelle finally had the opportunity to start his trophy case. After posting 26-46-72 marks, he was awarded the Masterton Trophy for his impressive production paired with taking only 14 penalty minutes. That is a theme that followed Ratelle throughout his career, as we’ll discuss in a moment.

That recognition apparently did a lot to motivate Ratelle, because his 1971-’72 season was by far his best season as a Ranger and in the NHL. In only 63 games, he posted a career-high 46 goals and 109 points. For those astute at math, you probably realized that Ratelle averaged 1.73 points per game, or seven points every four games.

By comparison, Tampa Bay Lightning RW Nikita Kucherov is averaging a league-leading 1.32 points per game this season.

Yeah, Ratelle was pretty darn good.

As would be expected, that effort earned a few more accolades, most notably his lone listing as a season-ending All-Star team – he was the second team’s center. Ratelle also brought home the Pearson Award (now known as the Lindsay Award) and his first Lady Byng Trophy.

Ratelle had one last 100-point season up his sleeve, but in a bizarre twist of fate it was in 1975-’76, the year he was traded to Boston with D Brad Park and D Joe Zanussi for C Phil Esposito and D Carol Vadnais. Ratelle departed the Big Apple having registered 5-10-15 totals through 13 games. Upon arriving in Beantown, he exploded for 31-59-90 marks (36-69-105 season totals). His success through the difficult circumstances paired with committing only 18 penalty minutes earned him his second Byng.

Speaking once again of the Byng Trophy, there is one award that alluded Ratelle throughout this 21-year NHL career: the Stanley Cup. Whether with New York or Boston, he qualified for the playoffs 15 consecutive times, advancing to the Finals thrice (1972, ’77-’78). However, all three times ended in disappointment.

But rings aren’t what makes a player great. His achievements on the ice indicated greatness, as did his ability to it while also being one of the game’s true gentlemen.

Tonight, the Rangers will honor Ratelle’s impact on the franchise and the game by officially retiring his 19 alongside their eight other previously retired sweater already hanging in Madison Square Garden.

He joins another another 19 already hanging in The World’s Most Famous Arena: that of Willis Reed Jr. of New York Knickerbocker lore. Reed led the Knicks to both of their two NBA championships (1970, ’73), earning the Finals MVP award both times.

There’s no doubt that the Rangers’ hoisting Ratelle’s sweater is an honor by the entire franchise, but can these 27-30-5 Blueshirts, who occupy last place in the Metropolitan Division, honor him with their play?

It doesn’t seem likely, given the fact that they’re riding a six-game losing skid.

There’s little good that can be said about New York’s effort lately, but the Rangers’ play in their defensive end has left much to be desired. Even with the play of F J.T. Miller and W Mats Zuccarello (both with a team-leading four takeaways since February 13), W Cody McLeod (4.4 hits per game in his last five showings), D Rob O’Gara (averaging two blocks per game since joining the Rangers), New York has allowed 35.33 shots against per game during this losing skid, the sixth-worst mark in the NHL in that time.

That’s put a lot of pressure on 23-21-4 G Henrik Lundqvist, and he just hasn’t been able to steal enough victories behind this team this season. In his last four starts, Lundqvist has managed an uncharacteristic .859 save percentage for a 4.77 GAA, pulling his season marks down to .914 and 2.89.

Put Lundqvist’s struggles with a porous defense, and you get a Rangers team that has allowed 4.33 goals per game since February 13 – far and away the worst mark in the league in that time.

Turning our attention to the 25-26-10 Red Wings, we find a team currently in fifth place in the Atlantic Division coming off a 1-2-1 home stand. Over that run, Detroit actually played some decent defense to earn its three points.

Led by the solid efforts of W Justin Abdelkader (3.8 hits per game since February 18) and D Danny DeKeyser (2.8 blocks per game during the home stand), the Wings have allowed only 30.5 shots to reach 17-19-7 G Jimmy Howard per game, and he’s reacted very well to the limited workload to post a cool .92 save percentage and 2.31 GAA. That strong play has improved Howard’s season marks to a .911 save percentage and 2.8 GAA.

Between the Wings’ defense and Howard’s effort, Detroit has allowed only 2.5 goals per game in its last four showings – the (t)10th-best effort since February 18.

Tonight’s game is the finale of the three-game season series between these clubs, and it’s an important one considering either side has earned three point against the other. New York won the first meeting at Madison Square Garden on Black Friday 2-1 in overtime (Zuccarello provided the game-winning goal only 37 seconds into overtime), but the Wings leveled the series December 29 by defending Little Caesars Arena to a 3-2 shootout victory (F Andreas Athanasiou took First Star honors for his eight-shot, one-goal performance).

If the Rangers need an example of how to play defense, they’ll get a decent one tonight. With that in mind, I think the Wings can pull off the road victory at MSG.


Thanks to Kirill Kaprizov’s game-winning goal to complete his four-point night, the Olympic Athletes from Russia’s men’s hockey team won the Olympic gold medal by beating Germany 4-3 at Gangneung Hockey Centre.

Germany almost escaped from the first period tied at 0-0, but Slava Voynov (Nikita Gusev and Kaprizov) ruined that opportunity with half a second remaining before the intermission. Voynov roofed a wrist shot over G Danny aus den Birken’s right shoulder to give the OAR the lead.

A misplayed puck got Germany right back into the game. Driving towards the goal line, Felix Fchutz (Brooks Macek and Patrick Hager) flipped a puck towards G Vasily Koschechkin with little more than a prayer of if finding the back of the net. However, Koshechkin let the puck bounce off his arm and fall into the crease, where it eventually rolled across the red line to level the game at 1-1 at the 9:32 mark of the frame.

Tied through the second intermission, the OAR reclaimed the lead with 6:39 remaining in regulation courtesy of a goal from Gusev (Kaprizov and Pavel Datsyuk), but that advantage lasted only 10 seconds before Dominik Kahun (Frank Mauer and Yasin Ehliz) tied the game once again at 2-2. Germany claimed its first (and only) lead of the championship game with 3:16 remaining in regulation when Jonas Muller (Ehliz and Frank Hordler) beat Koshechkin, but an uninformed dump by the Germans while they were on the power play led to Gusev (Artyom Zub and Kaprizov) scoring a shorthanded, but even-strength with Koshechkin off the ice for the extra attacker, goal.

Overtime lasted 9:40 before Kaprizov (Gusev and Voynov) took advantage of a Patrick Reimer high sticking penalty to score the medal-winning goal.

Koshechkin saved 22-of-25 shots faced (.88 save percentage) to earn the victory, leaving the overtime loss to aus den Birken, who saved a solid 26-of-30 (.867).

After that result in the DtFR Game of the Day, home teams in the DtFR Game of the Day now have a 21-point advantage over the roadies with their 73-46-18 record.

October 20 – Day 17 – Don’t get confused, Mike Green

You know that feeling you get when 5 p.m. rolls around on a Friday? Allow me to magnify that for you: there’s hockey on tonight!

Specifically, there’s six games happening around the league this evening, starting with two (Vancouver at Buffalo [SN360] and San Jose at New Jersey) at 7 p.m. and another pair (Washington at Detroit and Pittsburgh at Florida [TVAS]) half an hour later. The action continues at 8 p.m. when Minnesota visits Winnipeg before tonight’s nightcap – Montréal at Anaheim (RDS/TSN2) – closes out the festivities two hours later.

I was going to feature G Anders Nilsson‘s return to Buffalo this evening, but since he played in the Canucks’ game in Boston last night and is unlikely to draw back-to-back starts, I’m slightly more drawn to the action in Motown.

 

I know we’ve already watched the Red Wings once this week, but that’s what we get on days when the schedule isn’t exactly filled to the brim with exciting matchups.

#ThanksNHL

And, considering expectations for the Wings this season (and the Capitals too, for that matter), we should enjoy watching them as much as we can while they’re still playing well and staying relevant.

How much longer 4-3-0 Detroit can keep up its solid start is certainly the question, as the Wings are currently the last team in if the playoffs started today (you know how important playoff positioning is in Week 3 of a 27-week season).

Earning them this better-than-expected start has certainly been their offense. It may not be as daunting as the days of old (à la C Steve Yzerman and basically anybody else on his line), but the Wings quietly run a decent top-two lines.

The top line is headlined by W Anthony Mantha (3-4-7 totals) and F Henrik Zetterberg (4-4-8), both of whom are averaging at least a point-per-game. If G Braden Holtby and the Caps can fend them off, a second line that includes the likes of W Justin Abdelkader (2-2-4) and F Dylan Larkin (1-7-8) are right behind to continue applying the pressure.

Two skaters that should also be included in that group are defensemen Mike Green and Nick Jensen. 32-year-old Green, a former first-round selection by the Capitals that played 10 seasons in Washington, actually leads the team in points scored with his 1-8-9 totals, while youngster Jensen has provided four assists from the third defensive pairing.

As Minnesota and Ottawa have already proven this season, teams that sleep on this squad are liable to miss out on points that should be earned against a rebuilding club.

That rebuild is no more apparent than when the Wings take to the power play. No matter how hard Green tries with his team-leading four power play points, the club has only converted four-of-27 man-advantage opportunities for an abysmal 14.8 percent success rate that’s eighth-worst in the league. Fortunately for the Wings, they aren’t exactly playing an exemplary penalty kill this evening (Washington kills only 78.6 percent of opposing power plays, 13th-worst in the NHL), so they might be able to find some success.

Of course, it seems the Capitals are experiencing a bit of a rebuild themselves. Though the offense is still trucking right along at 3.14 goals-per-game, the defense has definitely suffered following the offseason’s transactions.

It is no fault of Holtby’s that Washington is allowing an average of 3.43 goals against-per-game (10th-worst in the league). He’s still trucking along as well as ever with his .931 save percentage and 2.19 GAA, both of which are top-10 efforts in the NHL among goaltenders with at least three starts.

Instead, the Capitals are fielding (Icing? No, that’s a penalty…) a defensive corps that allows an 11th-worst 33.9 shots against-per-game – even with D Brooks Orpik blocking 2.6 shots-per-night. In particular, D Dmitry Orlov has been pretty rough to open the season. He has yet to produce a point after posting 6-27-33 totals last season, and has been on the ice for 11 goals against for a -3 rating (both team-worsts).

It seems losing both D Karl Alzner and D Nate Schmidt is proving a bit tougher to handle than previously hoped – and that was before D Matt Niskanen went down with an upper-body injury last Friday. Fortunately for the Caps, they may not notice those departures as badly this evening considering the Red Wings are not a club that likes to pepper opposing goaltenders.

It’s another game of evenly-matched offenses, which means Detroit should have the upper-hand in this game (that’s weird to say when Holtby is playing for the opposing team) based on its defense. The Wings should be more than able to take two points tonight, especially if G Jimmy Howard rediscovers his form from his first three starts.


Though they needed the shutout, the New York Islanders were able to beat the New York Rangers 4-3 at Madison Square Garden in yesterday’s DtFR Game of the Day.

The Islanders came out with guns blazing to start this game, as F Anders Lee (D Ryan Pulock and RW Jordan Eberle) was able to bury a power play wrist shot only 2:40 into the game. That early lead didn’t last long though, as C David Desharnais (D Kevin Shattenkirk and D Marc Staal) scored a tip-in only 2:22 later to level the game at one-all. Much to the Islanders’ delight, that tie lasted only 64 seconds courtesy of Second Star of the Game F Brock Nelson‘s (LW Andrew Ladd) wrister to retake the lead for the Boys from Brooklyn.

All goals are important, but C Mathew Barzal‘s (D Calvin de Haan and F Josh Bailey) wrister 75 seconds into the second period will stick out in the minds of the Islanders for the next couple of weeks. Not only was it the first of Barzal’s NHL career, but it also proved to be the one that ensured the Isles would make it to overtime.

The Rangers’ comeback began in earnest 3:29 into the third period when W Mats Zuccarello (Third Star D Brendan Smith) scored a wrister to pull the Blueshirts back within a goal. Brooklyn people and Manhattanites alike were on the edge of their seats until F Kevin Hayes (RW Jesper Fast and D Ryan McDonagh) leveled the game at three-all with a backhanded shot.

Even though a total of six shots were fired over five minutes of three-on-three overtime and the Islanders played the final 79 seconds on the power play, neither club could find the golden goal, forcing the first shootout of the 2017-’18 DtFR Game of the Day series.

  1. Zuccarello drew the first chance to fire at G Jaroslav Halak, and he made good on the opportunity to give the Blueshirts an early lead.
  2. Eberle tried to match it against G Henrik Lundqvist, and he did. 1-1 after two shooters.
  3. Next up for the Rangers was C Mika Zibanejad, but Halak was able to make the save.
  4. With the opportunity to take the lead, Head Coach Doug Weight sent out First Star C John Tavares. The captain converted the break to give the Islanders a 2-1 lead.
  5. Tavares’ goal forced a miss-and-lose situation for Desharnais and the Rangers, but the center wasn’t able to get past Halak. That gave the Islanders a 4-3 victory on a 2-1 shootout.

Halak earned the victory after saving 38-of-41 shots faced (.927 save percentage), leaving the shootout loss to Lundqvist, who saved 35-of-38 (.921).

The Isles’ road victory snaps a two-game winning streak by the 10-5-2 home teams in the DtFR Game of the Day series, but the hosts still have a six-point advantage.

2017 NHL Expansion Draft: Protected Lists

30 of the NHL’s 31 teams submitted their protected lists on Saturday by 5 p.m. ET. The protected lists were made public at 10:30 a.m. ET (originally scheduled for 10 a.m.) on Sunday. Additionally, the available lists of players to choose from were released.

The Vegas Golden Knights will now spend the next few days constructing their roster, with the full reveal set for Wednesday night during the NHL Awards Ceremony at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

To recap, here’s all of the protected players:

Anaheim Ducks

Forwards: Andrew Cogliano, Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Corey Perry, Rickard Rakell, Jakob Silfverberg, Antoine Vermette

Defensemen: Kevin Bieksa, Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm

Goaltender: John Gibson

Arizona Coyotes

Forwards: Nick Cousins, Anthony Duclair, Jordan Martinook, Tobias Rieder

Defensemen: Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Alex Goligoski, Connor Murphy, Luke Schenn

Goaltender: Chad Johnson

Boston Bruins

Forwards: David Backes, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Brad Marchand, Riley Nash, David Pastrnak, Ryan Spooner

Defensemen: Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, Kevan Miller

Goaltender: Tuukka Rask

Buffalo Sabres

Forwards: Tyler Ennis, Marcus Foligno, Zemgus Girgensons, Evander Kane, Johan Larsson, Ryan O’Reilly, Kyle Okposo

Defensemen: Nathan Beaulieu, Jake McCabe, Rasmus Ristolainen

Goaltender: Robin Lehner

Calgary Flames

Forwards: Mikael Backlund, Sam Bennett, Micheal Ferlund, Michael Frolik, Johnny Gaudreau, Curtis Lazar, Sean Monahan

Defensemen: T.J. Brodie, Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton

Goaltender: Mike Smith

Carolina Hurricanes

Forwards: Phillip Di Giuseppe, Elias Lindholm, Brock McGinn, Victor Rask, Jeff Skinner, Jordan Staal, Teuvo Teravainen

Defensemen: Trevor Carrick, Justin Faulk, Ryan Murphy

Goaltender: Scott Darling

Chicago Blackhawks

Forwards: Artem Anisimov, Ryan Hartman, Marian Hossa, Tomas Jurco, Patrick Kane, Richard Panik, Jonathan Toews

Defensemen: Niklas Hjalmarsson, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook

Goaltender: Corey Crawford

Colorado Avalanche

Forwards: Sven Andrighetto, Blake Comeau, Matt Duchene, Rocco Grimaldi, Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Nieto

Defensemen: Tyson Barrie, Erik Johnson, Nikita Zadorov

Goaltender: Semyon Varlamov

Columbus Blue Jackets

Forwards: Cam Atkinson, Brandon Dubinsky, Nick Foligno, Scott Hartnell, Boone Jenner, Brandon Saad, Alexander Wennberg

Defensemen: Seth Jones, Ryan Murray, David Savard

Goaltender: Sergei Bobrovsky

Dallas Stars

Forwards: Jamie Benn, Radek Faksa, Valeri Nichushkin, Brett Ritchie, Antoine Roussel, Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza

Defensemen: Stephen Johns, John Klingberg, Esa Lindell

Goaltender: Ben Bishop

Detroit Red Wings

Forwards: Justin Abdelkader, Andreas Athanasiou, Anthony Mantha, Frans Nielsen, Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Henrik Zetterberg

Defensemen: Danny DeKeyser, Mike Green, Nick Jensen

Goaltender: Jimmy Howard

Edmonton Oilers

Forwards: Leon Draisaitl, Jordan Eberle, Zack Kassian, Mark Letestu, Milan Lucic, Patrick Maroon, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

Defensemen: Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson, Andrej Sekera

Goaltender: Cam Talbot

Florida Panthers

Forwards: Aleksander Barkov, Nick Bjugstad, Jonathan Huberdeau, Vincent Trocheck

Defensemen: Aaron Ekblad, Alex Petrovic, Mark Pysyk, Keith Yandle

Goaltender: James Reimer

Los Angeles Kings

Forwards: Jeff Carter, Anze Kopitar, Tanner Pearson, Tyler Toffoli

Defensemen: Drew Doughty, Derek Forbort, Alec Martinez, Jake Muzzin

Goaltender: Jonathan Quick

Minnesota Wild

Forwards: Charlie Coyle, Mikael Granlund, Mikko Koivu, Nino Niederreiter, Zach Parise, Jason Pominville, Jason Zucker

Defensemen: Jonas Brodin, Jared Spurgeon, Ryan Suter

Goaltender: Devan Dubnyk

Montreal Canadiens

Forwards: Paul Byron, Phillip Danault, Jonathan Drouin, Alex Galchenyuk, Brendan Gallagher, Max Pacioretty, Andrew Shaw

Defensemen: Jordie Benn, Jeff Petry, Shea Weber

Goaltender: Carey Price

Nashville Predators

Forwards: Viktor Arvidsson, Filip Forsberg, Calle Jarnkrok, Ryan Johansen

Defensemen: Mattias Ekholm, Ryan Ellis, Roman Josi, P.K. Subban

Goaltender: Pekka Rinne

New Jersey Devils

Forwards: Taylor Hall, Adam Henrique, Kyle Palmieri, Travis Zajac

Defensemen: Andy Greene, John Moore, Mirco Mueller, Damon Severson

Goaltender: Cory Schneider

New York Islanders

Forwards: Andrew Ladd, Anders Lee, John Tavares

Defensemen: Johnny Boychuk, Travis Hamonic, Nick Leddy, Adam Pelech, Ryan Pulock

Goaltender: Thomas Greiss

New York Rangers

Forwards: Kevin Hayes, Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller, Rick Nash, Derek Stepan, Mika Zibanejad, Mats Zuccarello

Defensemen: Nick Holden, Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal

Goaltender: Henrik Lundqvist

Ottawa Senators

Forwards: Derick Brassard, Ryan Dzingel, Mike Hoffman, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Zack Smith, Mark Stone, Kyle Turris

Defensemen: Cody Ceci, Erik Karlsson, Dion Phaneuf

Goaltender: Craig Anderson

Philadelphia Flyers

Forwards: Sean Couturier, Valtteri Filppula, Claude Giroux, Scott Laughton, Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek

Defensemen: Shayne Gostisbehere, Radko Gudas, Brandon Manning

Goaltender: Anthony Stolarz

Pittsburgh Penguins

Forwards: Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist, Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin

Defensemen: Brian Dumoulin, Kris Letang, Olli Maatta, Justin Schultz

Goaltender: Matt Murray

San Jose Sharks

Forwards: Ryan Carpenter, Logan Couture, Jannik Hansen, Tomas Hertl, Melker Karlsson, Joe Pavelski, Chris Tierney

Defensemen: Justin Braun, Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic

Goaltender: Martin Jones

St. Louis Blues

Forwards: Patrik Berglund, Ryan Reaves, Jaden Schwartz, Vladimir Sobotka, Paul Stastny, Alexander Steen, Vladimir Tarasenko

Defensemen: Jay Bouwmeester, Joel Edmundson, Alex Pietrangelo

Goaltender: Jake Allen

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forwards: Ryan Callahan, Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn, Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov, Ondrej Palat, Steven Stamkos

Defensemen: Braydon Coburn, Victor Hedman, Anton Stralman

Goaltender: Andrei Vasilevskiy

Toronto Maple Leafs

Forwards: Tyler Bozak, Connor Brown, Nazem Kadri, Leo Komarov, Josh Leivo, Matt Martin, James van Riemsdyk

Defensemen: Connor Carrick, Jake Gardiner, Morgan Rielly

Goaltender: Frederik Andersen

Vancouver Canucks

Forwards: Sven Baertschi, Loui Eriksson, Markus Granlund, Bo Horvat, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Brandon Sutter

Defensemen: Alexander Edler, Erik Gudbranson, Christopher Tanev

Goaltender: Jacob Markstrom

Washington Capitals

Forwards: Nicklas Backstrom, Andre Burakovsky, Lars Eller, Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Alex Ovechkin, Tom Wilson

Defensemen: John Carlson, Matt Niskanen, Dmitry Orlov

Goaltender: Braden Holtby

Winnipeg Jets

Forwards: Joel Armia, Andrew Copp, Bryan Little, Adam Lowry, Mathieu Perreault, Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler

Defensemen: Dustin Byfuglien, Tyler Myers, Jacob Trouba

Goaltender: Connor Hellebuyck

February 25 – Day 129 – Bring a broom

If Saturdays are good for nothing else, they’re definitely fantastic for hockey.

Even better, we’re treated with a wide sample of matinee action today. Anaheim at Los Angeles (NHLN/SN1) gets things started at 4 p.m., followed an hour later by a trio of contests (Washington at Nashville [SN], the New York Islanders at Columbus and the New York Rangers at New Jersey). The usual starting time of 7 p.m. marks the puck drop of Montréal at Toronto (CBC/CITY/TVAS), followed 60 minutes later by Philadelphia at Pittsburgh (NBC/SN/TVAS2). Finally, today’s co-nightcaps (San Jose at Vancouver [CBC/SN1] and Buffalo at Colorado) drop the puck at 10 p.m. All times eastern.

Short list:

  • Anaheim at Los Angeles: The Freeway Face-Off resumes at 1 p.m. local time.
  • New York at New Jersey: The Battle of the Hudson River also rages on at the Prudential Center.
  • Montréal at Toronto: These rivals go way, way back.
  • Philadelphia at Pittsburgh: So do these enemies, but tonight’s game will not take place at PPG Paints Arena. Instead, it’s under the lights at Heinz Field.

I know the NHL loves its outdoor games, but the best game happening today is easily the one in Hogtown between two of the best teams the Atlantic Division has to offer.

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Nevermind the fact that these teams have been competing since 1917, how could a rivalry not emerge between the two largest cities in Canada, especially when they’re separated by only 337 miles 542 kilometers?

Montréal makes their second and final trip of the regular season to the Air Canada Centre with a 32-21-8 record, the best mark in the Atlantic Division. Defense and goaltending has definitely been the name of the game in the City of Saints this season, as the Habs have allowed only 156 goals in 61 games, which ties them for the eighth-best rate in the NHL.

Of course, that always starts with the goaltender, and the Canadiens have a good one in 25-16-6 Carey Price. His .918 save percentage and 2.43 GAA are not only the best of the two netminders Claude Julien has at his disposal, but they also tie for 11th and 12th-best in the league, respectively, among the 43 goalies with at least 23 appearances.

What makes Price special is the fact that the defense playing in front of him is, although above average, not one of the elite units in the league. They allow 29.8 shots-per-game to reach his crease, which ties them for only 11th-best in the NHL. Shea Weber has been at the forefront of that effort with his team-leading 127 shot blocks. At the rate Weber is on, he is on pace for a total of 171 blocks by the end of the regular season, the second-highest mark of his career.

Surprisingly, that effort does not carry over to the penalty kill at all, as the Canadiens rank ninth-worst in the league when down a man. Even with Weber’s 34 shorthanded blocks (which ties for third-most in the NHL), Montréal only stops 80.3% of opposing power plays.

Of course, if they’re allowed to, the Habs usually have a good chance of earning that goal back. Successful on 21% of attempts, Montréal ranks 10th-best in the league on the man-advantage. That effort has been headlined by Shea “Special-Teams-Mastermind” Weber, who has 19 power play points to lead the team. 11 of those points have been goals which tie for fourth-most in the NHL in addition to – you guessed it – leading the squad.

Hosting them this evening are the 28-20-12 Maple Leafs, the third-best team in the Atlantic. This team has certainly accumulated some offensive firepower, as they’ve taken credit for 186 goals so far this season, the fifth-most in the NHL.

The ringmaster of that attack is the next NHL stud, rookie Auston Matthews. He’s already accounted for 52 points this season and shows no sign of slowing down. One of his favorite things to do is shoot the puck, but Toronto isn’t complaining. Even though he leads his club in shot attempts, he has the fourth-highest shooting percentage  (13.3%) for 28 goals, the clubhouse lead.

When was the last time the Leafs could claim the best power play in the league? Regardless, it’s happening right now, as their 23.1% success rate is .3% better than Minnesota’s. While one rookie leads the even-strength effort, another has taken an interest in the five-on-four play. William Nylander has 19 power play points to his credit to lead the squad, but it’s actually Nazem Kadri he’ll need to keep an extra-close eye on. Kadri has potted 10 goals with the extra man this season, which leads the team.

The penalty kill has also played extremely well this season for Toronto. Led by Roman Polak‘s 29 shorthanded shot blocks, the Leafs have correctly battled 83.5% of opposing power plays, which ties for eighth-best in the NHL.

The Canadiens have already clinched the season series between these clubs this year with a perfect 3-0-0 record. The last time they met was January 7, when the Habs won 5-3 on this very surface thanks to Alexander Radulov‘s one-goal, two-point performance.

Some players to keep an eye on this evening include Montréal‘s Max Pacioretty (28 goals [tied for fourth-most in the league]) and Price (25 wins [ninth-most in the NHL]) & Toronto‘s Matthews (28 goals [tied for fourth-most in the league]).

It’s not a huge spread, but being favored is always a club’s preference. Vegas has marked the Maple Leafs as a -114 favorite to win this evening, and I believe they’ll be able to keep up their end of the bargaining. Regardless of how well their special teams will play or home ice advantage, this is big hurdle for this team. Toronto does not want to get swept by one of their biggest rivals this season, and they’re going to put everything on the line tonight to win.

Hockey Birthday

  • King Clancy (1903-1986) – This defenseman spent most of his 16-season NHL career with the original Senators franchise. Hoisting two of his three Stanley Cups with the club, the Hall of Famer is now memorialized in the NHL by having a leadership and humanitarian award named in his honor.
  • Anton Volchenkov (1982-) – Another defenseman that spent most of his career in Ottawa, this Russian was selected 21st-overall in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft by the Sens. Although he has not yet formally retired, he has not made an appearance in the NHL since the 2014-’15 season.
  • Justin Abdelkader (1987-) – This left wing was selected 42nd-overall in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft by Detroit, and he’s been there ever since. His best season was in 2014-’15 when he accounted for 23 goals and 44 points, both career-highs.

With three-straight unanswered goals in the first frame, the Flames bested Florida 4-2 in yesterday’s DtFR Game of the Day.

A whopping five goals were struck in the first period, starting with Nick Bjugstad‘s (Jussi Jokinen and Reilly Smith) power play slap shot for the Panthers only 4:54 into the game. That 1-0 lead is all the motivation the Flames needed to start their scoring stampede. Sam Bennett (Michael Stone and Second Star of the Game Troy Brouwer) pulled the game even 4:03 after Bjugstad’s tally, and Mikael Backlund (Matthew Tkachuk and Michael Frolik) gave the Flames a 2-1 lead with a wrist shot. The goal that proved to be the game-winner belonged to Deryk Engelland (Frolik and Tkachuk), the third Calgary goal in 4:54 of play. With 2:40 remaining in the period, Third Star Aleksander Barkov (Jonathan Huberdeau and Smith) pulled Florida back within a goal with a pure snap shot, setting the score at 3-2.

Brouwer (Matt Stajan and Lance Bouma) tacked on an additional insurance goal, the final of the game, in the second period to secure Calgary‘s 4-2 victory.

First Star Chad Johnson earned the victory after saving 36-of-38 shots faced (94.7%), leaving the loss to Roberto Luongo, who saved 24-of-28 (85.7%).

For the past seven days, all road teams featured in the DtFR Game of the Day series have done is win. That streak has improved the visitors’ record to 67-43-21, eight points better than home teams in the series.

December 4 – Day 53 – Frans will be Frans

For a Sunday, we have a good sampling of games to watch. Montréal visits Los Angeles (RDS) at 3 p.m., followed two hour later by Tampa Bay at Carolina. The final round of matinee games drops the puck at 6 p.m. with two contests (Philadelphia at Nashville [TVAS] and Detroit at the New York Islanders), with Winnipeg at Chicago (SN) waiting until the usual 7 p.m. starting time. Two games share the role of nightcap tonight (Anaheim at Calgary [SN360] and Minnesota at Edmonton [SN1]), dropping the puck at 9:30 p.m. All times eastern.

Up until this season, every single game of Frans Nielsen‘s career was spent wearing blue and orange. This afternoon, he’ll dress in the Barclays Center’s visitor’s locker room for the first time.

UnknownNew York Islanders Logo

 

Way back in 2002, New York drafted an 18-year-old that would become the first Dane to play in the NHL. Of course, Nielsen’s career is not marked simply by that.

His tenure with the Islanders was a successful one.  From the time he made his NHL debut in the 2006-07 to last season, he was the third-leading scorer for the Isles, including 230 assists to tie for second-most for the club in that time span.

Nielsen has continued that success in Motown, as his 14 points ties for for second-most for the Red Wings.  Interestingly, he’s taken more of a goal scoring role with his new team, as his six goals are second-most on the team.

Detroit comes to the Barclays Center with an 11-11-3 record, sitting in seventh place in the Atlantic Division. While their new center seems to be a good pickup, the Wings still struggle to score the puck, as their 58 goals ties for eighth-fewest.

Henrik Zetterberg has headlined Detroit‘s offense so far this season with 17 points to his credit, but it’s been sophomore Dylan Larkin completing many of the plays – his eight goals is tops in the Motor City. To put those efforts in perspective, Zetterberg’s 17 points tie for 56th in the league, and Larkin ties for 37th.

As would be expected from the low production, the power play has also suffered. Successful on only 14.9% of opportunities, the Wings are 10th-worst with the man-advantage in the NHL. This has been where Nielsen has truly shone, as his six power play points are a club-best. However, they’ve all be assists, and four skaters (Justin Abdelkader, Darren Helm, Larkin and Thomas Vanek) have two extra-man tallies for the clubhouse lead. Unfortunately, Abdelkader and Helm find themselves on the Wings‘ injured reserve, which has done nothing to help a sputtering offense.

Hosting Nielsen and the Wings this evening are the 9-10-4 Islanders, the worst team in the Eastern Conference. They’ve earned that position by scoring only 58 goals, tying them for eighth-fewest in the NHL.

Don’t tell Captain John Tavares that he’s not supposed to be racking up the points, as he already has 18 to lead his club. In addition, his six goals ties him with Brock Nelson for the scoring-lead in Brooklyn, but once again those numbers need to be put in perspective. 18 points is good enough to only tie for 45th-best in the league, and six goals ties for 84th.

If Detroit‘s power play is bad, New York‘s is definitely worse. Scoring on only 11.8% of man-advantages earns the Islanders second-worst in the NHL, and worst in the conference. Tavares has been the biggest threat with five power play points, two of which are goals.

Before we go any further, we need to clear something up. Not everybody is going to be a Sidney Crosby or Patrik Laine goal scorer (their 16 goals are the league benchmark), nor are many going to match Connor McDavid‘s impressive 34 points. I get that. But it’s the fact that these skaters for both clubs – Larkin, Nelson, Tavares and Zetterberg – are the ones leading their respective clubs. If they’re the best the club has to offer, what does that mean for the guys behind them?

And that, my dear children, is how you get anemic offenses.

Some players to keep an eye on include Detroit‘s Zetterberg (12 assists among 17 points [both lead the team]) and New York‘s Tavares (12 assists among 18 points [both lead the team]).

In a game that I would have assumed to be a pick-’em, Vegas has marked the home Isles as the -145 favorite. The main reason I’ll stick with the odds-makers’ prediction is that Detroit not only played yesterday, but had to travel from Pittsburgh, while New York hasn’t played in three days and is riding a three-game winning streak.

Hockey Birthday

  • Montréal Canadiens (1909-) – The oldest active hockey club in the world predates their own league.
  • Alex Delvecchio (1931-) – This center played an incredible 1549 games over 24 seasons with Detroit, hoisting the Stanley Cup three times. Fats was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1977.
  • Rick Middleton (1953-) – Nifty played right wing for 1005 games over his 14-season career, most of which with Boston. Although he never won a title, he was thrice named an All-Star.
  • Dave Taylor (1955-) – Another right wing, he was drafted by Los Angeles in the 1975 NHL Entry Draft. He played 1111 games over his 17-season career, and his number 18 hangs in the Staples Center’s rafters.
  • Jassen Cullimore (1972-) – Although the 29th-overall selection in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft by Vancouver, this defenseman spent most of his days in Tampa Bay – including that team that won the 2004 Stanley Cup.

I expected a tight contest in yesterday’s Game of the Day, and that’s what we got when Boston beat Buffalo 2-1.

The lone goal of the first period was struck with 5:50 remaining in the frame, belonging to David Krejci (Brandon Carlo and David Backes) and the Bruins.

Patrice Bergeron (Second Star of the Game David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand) doubled Boston‘s score 7:44 into the third frame with a backhander. Third Star Evander Kane (Sam Reinhart) buried his first goal of the season 1:28 later, but the Sabres could not manage another tally to complete the comeback.

First Star Tuukka Rask saved 35-of-36 (97.2%) shots faced to earn the victory, leaving the loss to Robin Lehner, who saved 31-of-33 (93.9%).

Even though Boston won, the home teams still have a three-point lead over the visitors in the DtFR Game of the Day series with their 29-19-7 record.

Ben Bishop’s Shutout and Alex Killorn’s Late Third Period Goal Help the Lightning Move On To Round 2.

The Tampa Bay Lightning finished off the series and ended the Detroit Red Wings 2016 Playoffs early by a score of 1-0 Thursday night. The Lightning were led by 6 foot 7 goaltender Ben Bishop as he made a whopping 34 saves for his first shutout of the playoffs.Unknown-1

Tampa Bay looked to close out the series and get rid of the pesky Wings in front of their insane sellout crowd at Amalie Arena. The Red Wings turned to tendy Petr Mrazek for a third straight game after going 1-1 with a .930 SV% and a 1.52 GAA in Games 3 and 4.

Detroit looked to jump out early and quickly and gain as much momentum as possible. Just 2:51 into the game Detroit youngster Dylan Larkin spotted Wings D-man Niklas Kronwall jumping up into the rush and hit him with a nice pass. Kronwall let a nifty backhander go but was easily shut down by Bishop with no problem.

The games first penalty went to the Lightning with a little close to 4 minutes gone in the first period with a two many men on the ice call. This blunder sent the Wings to their mediocre power play, coming into Game 5 Detroit were a disastrous 1/21 on the manpower advantage. So they looked to change their luck early in the game. Lucky for them, Tampa defenseman Jason Garrison took a foolish penalty and got a trip to the sin bin to feel shame. Garrison cross checked Detroit left winger Justin Abdelkader in front of the net just 46 seconds into their first PP. Detroit looked to grab the game’s first goal on an early 5 on 3 power play.

Detroit got the game’s first excellent scoring chance on that same 5 on 3 power play. Right Winger Brad Richards corraled the puck at the left side blue line and then sent a pass across the ice to vet Pavel Datsyuk who was posted up down low on the right-hand side. The Magic Man, as he’s called, received the pass and fired a swift wrister up high that beat Bishop high glove side but caught the cross bar and came right back out. This was the last scoring chance as Tampa killed the PP off with stellar shot blocking.

Now it was the Lightning’s turn to break the scoreless deadlock. Tampa 4th liner Eric Condra picked off a terrible pass from Wings D-man Jonathan Ericsson in the right corner and spotted defender Jason Garrison making a b-line to the net. Condra rocketed a pass across the slot and Garrison grabbed the puck and fired a wrist shot on net. Mrazek made an insane left pad kick out for his best save of the game so far.

Now it was Tampa’s turn for their first power play of the game. This time, it was Detroit left winger Gustav Nyquist getting the call just 9:06 into the game for slashing D-man Braydon Coburn. Nothing came from this power play as Detroit easily killed it off, but Tampa got another chance with just 38 seconds left in the first period. Lightning young buck Jonathan Drouin used his blazing speed to draw a hooking call from Wings defender Niklas Kronwall. The period ended with Tampa still on the PP.

Lightning fans were urging their team to start the second period off right with a power play goal. Nothing came from this PP because the Lightning only managed 2 weak shots. Just 2:53 later Tampa was back on the man advantage with Wings rookie Dylan Larkin getting a two-minute call for tripping Lightning defenseman Braydon Coburn. This sent Tampa to their 3rd power play of the game but they maintained no shots. They did give up a short-handed breakaway opportunity to Detroit winger Riley Sheahan as he intercepted Victor Hedman’s D to D pass and went in all alone. Sheahan tried beating Bishop five-hole, but Bishop wasn’t having any of that and turned it away.

 

Kyle Quincey of the Red Wings took the games next penalty as he got called for hooking Tampa star Nikita Kucherov 9:47 into the second period. The Lightning weren’t able to get anything going again on their PP and only threw one shot on net during the two minutes. Then with just over eight minutes remaining Detroit defender Danny DeKeyser sprung Wings left winger Darren Helm on a breakaway with a blue line to blue line pass and sent Helm in all alone. Bishop was up to the task and turned Helm’s shot away with his right pad like it was nothing.

Detroit would then get their second power play of the game. Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman got the trip to the box after holding Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg 14:01 into the second period. Just like the Lightning, it was Detroit’s turn to give up a prime shorthanded opportunity just 58 seconds into their PP. Lightning grinder Brian Boyle came down the left-hand side and picked out streaking defender Jason Garrison. He then threw the puck in the direction for Garrison to skate into. Garrison skated to the bouncing puck sitting in the slot and swatted at it with one hand and redirected the puck on goal. Unfortunately, Mrazek made a spectacular pad save to keep it tied 0-0.

Then with just 1:30 remaining in the second period, Lightning defender Matt Carle overskated the puck at center ice. Detroit’s 19-year-old Dylan Larkin grabbed the sitting puck and was off the races all by himself. As Larkin came in on goalie Ben Bishop, he tried to fool hiUnknown-1m with a little stick handling. Bishop was unfooled and stoned Larkin with his blocker. This was Detroit’s third breakaway of the second period alone. Then jus 15 seconds later, Wings Henrik Zetterberg carried the puck into the offensive zone and picked his head up and saw a cutting Pavel Datsyuk. He hit Pavel with a mini breakaway pass and for some reason Datsyuk thought he could beat Bishop high like Larkin thought. Well, this did not work as Bishop shut down Datsyuk’s chance and calmly turned it away with his blocker.

The third period got off to a very slow start, the two teams traded shots back and forth, but nothing major. The first chance came with 2:53 remaining in the game thanks to Detroit new comer Mike Green. Wings right winger Tomas Tatar came flying into the zone and laid out a nice drop pass behind him. The pass found the stick of Mike Green and he took a couple steps in and fired a laser of a wrist shot, but Ben Bishop, once again, didn’t break a sweat and easily swallowed the shot up.

Now with just 1:43 remaining in the game, the first and only goal was scored. Lightning right winger Ryan Callahan cleverly picked off goalie Petr Mrazek’s behind the net pass. He then, quickly, turned around and fired a pass to top line left winger Alex Killorn who was sitting in the slot and he slammed the puck into the wide open net to give the Lighting the late 1-0 lead. This goal was Killorn’s 13th career playoff goal and 4th goal in 5 playoff games this year.

Detroit pulled their goalie Mrazek with 1:12 left in the game desperate for a tying goal. They even got help, because Lightning D-man Jason Garrison took his second senseless penalty of the game. He cross-checked Henrik Zetterberg with 43 seconds remaining in the game and the Wings got a 6 on 4 man advantage. This advantage did not help at all as Detroit were only able to achieve 1 shot total.

Killorn’s late period goal stood as the game and the series winner. Tampa Bay now moves on to face the winner of the Florida/New York matchup that is currently tied 2-2 in the series.

Detroit goalkeeper Petr Mrazek finished the game saving 23 out of 24 shots for a .958 SV%. While Lightning goalie Ben Bishop was unbeatable stopping 34 out of 34 shots for his first perfect game of the playoffs.

The Tampa Bay Lightning’s top points leader was Nikita Kucherov with 8 points in 5 games (5G, 3A), the top geno (goals) leader was Kucherov (5G), and the top apple (assists) leader was Tyler Johnson with 5. The Lightning also had defender Victor Hedman who averaged 27:01 TOI (Total On Ice) per game, while Ben Bishop finished with a 4-1 record, a .950 SV%, and a 1.61 GAA in 5 games. The Detroit Red Wings top points leader was Tomas Tatar with 3 points in 5 games (0G, 3A), the top geno (goals) leader was an 8 player tie for first with one goal (Mike Green, Henrik Zetterberg, Justin Abdelkader, Gustav Nyquist, Brad Richards, Dylan Larkin, Darren Helm, and Andreas Athanasiou), and top apple (assist) leader was also Tomas Tatar with 3. The Wings TOI (Time On Ice) leader was Danny Dekeyser who averaged 21:48. Jimmy Howard finished with a 0-2 record, .891 SV%, and a 3.59 GAA in 2 games. Detroit’s star goalie Petr Mrazek finished with a 1-2 with a .945 SV%, and a 1.35 GAA in 3 games.

The Lightning will now wait until their next series starts while the Red Wings will start their golfing season earlier than they hoped for. Meanwhile, every Red Wings fan will be on the edge of their seat this offseason. As they await word from Pavel Datsyuk to see if he is going to play in the NHL next year, or go back to Russia and play in the KHL. Tampa Bay ended up winning the series in 5 games by a total of 4-1.

 

 

 

 

Drouin and Kucherov Take Over Game 4

The Tampa Bay Lighting defeated the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 in game 4 of the series. Tampa now has a stranglehold on Detroit with a 3-1 series lead. Nikita Kucherov and Jonathan Drouin had 3-point nights, as Drouin had 3 assists and Kucherov had 2 goals and an assist. Tampa had a great night on special teams going 3/5 on the powerplay. Unknown-1

The first period started when just five minutes into the game Justin Abdelkader took a holding penalty. On the Powerplay Tampa was able to open the scoring as Nikitia Kucherov his 4th of the playoffs off a one-timer. Jonathan Drouin and Tyler Johnson picked up assists on the goal. Petr Mrazek was keeping Detroit in the game making a lot of really good saves. The momentum began to switch and Detroit started using their speed, but couldn’t seem to beat Ben Bishop.

In the second period Tampa retook momentum with a strong forecheck that seemed to keep Detroit pinned in their zone. Drouin was having a great night on the forecheck as he was playing the pest role, picking the pockets of the D-men. No surprise, the pressure caused Detroit to take another penalty as Riley Sheahan took a slashing penalty. Kucherov struck again on the powerplay after a great pass by Jonathan Drouin, extending Tampa’s lead to 2-0.

With 7 minutes left in the period, Cedric Paquette took his 3rd penalty of the game. Right after the penalty expired, Darren Helm capitalized on a lucky bounce to cut the lead in half, and picking up assists on the goal were Brendan Smith and Luke Glendening. Detroit wasn’t done yet, though. With less than 10 seconds left in the period, Gustav Nyquist scored his first of the playoffs. Riley Sheahan made a great pass over the D-man to Nyquist, who put it by Bishop. Unknown-1

Detroit started the 3rd period much better than the first two periods, and was outshooting Tampa 6-2 early. Detroit thought they had taken the lead as Larkin hit the crossbar with a backhand. The red hot Tampa powerplay unit got another chance as Jonathan Ericsson took a crosschecking penalty. On that powerplay, Jonathan Drouin had another great pass to find Ondrej Palat for the tip in and gave Tampa the lead, 3-2. They were able to see the game out and take the 3-1 lead in the series.

The next game between the Red Wings and the Lightning will be Thursday, April 21 at 7pm Eastern time at Amalie Arena.

Tampa takes game 1 behind Kucherov’s big night

The Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Detroit Red Wings in game 1 of the 1st round of the playoffs. Nikita Kucherov had a great night with two goals and an assist. Both teams seemed to ignite the hatred for each other from last year. Unknown-1

Tampa started off slow as it took them five minutes before they registered the first shot of the game. However, it didn’t stop them as 6:23 into the first period they found the net with Nikita Kucherov getting his 12th career playoff goal. Tampa kept the lead through the first period.

Detroit found the scoreboard just over two minutes into the first period with Mike Green netting his 10th career playoff goal, his first as a Wing. It wasn’t long before Detroit took the lead with Justin Abdelkader getting a tip on Kyle Quincey’s shot. Detroit was definitely sparked half way through the second period they were outshooting Tampa 22-11. It didn’t stop the Lightning however as Kucherov poked in his second of the game. This seemed to spark the team’s physical play and after whistle actions.

The final period saw Tampa score a goal as Victor Hedman scored a goal that was reviewed by the coach challenge and waived off – Jonathan Drouin got into the zone too early. It didn’t seem to matter as two minutes later with Alex Killorn showing off his hand-eye coordination and batting one out of the air past Howard. Tampa had the advantage and stellar play from Ben Bishop kept Detroit off the scoresheet again.  

The three stars of the game was Tampa’s first line with Kucherov earning the first star with two goals and an assist. Tyler Johnson was the second star with two assists and Alex Killorn took the third star with a goal and an assist.  Both teams struggled with Powerplay as Detroit went 0-5 and Tampa went 0-4. Unknown-1 

The young kids struggled for both teams as Dylan Larkin and Jonathan Drouin both seemed a little out of their element. Drouin took two penalties and was around all the rough stuff. Larkin didn’t seem like himself either as he fell a lot and couldn’t find that offensive stark.  

The next game with be Friday at 7pm at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida.