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NHL Nick's Net

Bruins lose close one to Wild on home ice, 3-2

Two quick power play goals on a 5-on-3 advantage turned Thursday night’s action 180-degrees in favor of the Minnesota Wild in their eventual, 3-2, victory over the Boston Bruins at TD Garden.

Wild goaltender, Kaapo Kähkönen (5-2-1, 2.60 goals-against average, .906 save percentage in nine games played) made 36 saves on 38 shots against in the win.

Boston netminder, Jeremy Swayman (8-6-2, 2.26 goals-against average, .918 save percentage in 16 games played) turned aside 27 out of 30 shots faced in the loss.

The Bruins fell to 17-11-2 (36 points) overall, but remain in command of 4th place in the Atlantic Division, as well as the 2nd wild card in Eastern Conference.

Meanwhile, Minnesota improved to 20-10-2 (42 points) on the season and in control of the 1st wild card in the Western Conference, while sitting in 4th place in the Central Division (behind the Colorado Avalanche only in tiebreaker, as the Avs have four more regulation wins than the Wild).

The Bruins were without Jakub Zboril (right ACL), Karson Kuhlman (COVID protocol), Jake DeBrusk (COVID protocol), Tomáš Nosek (COVID protocol) and Charlie McAvoy (lower body) on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Tuukka Rask signed a PTO (player training operative) with the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Thursday in an attempt to play at least one game before signing an NHL deal with Boston and returning to action after rehabbing offseason hip surgery.

Providence’s weekend matchups against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms were postponed, which could put a wrench in Rask’s return to Boston plans if the B’s aren’t quite ready to go with three goaltenders for the time being.

That said, they did recall and assign Urho Vaakanainen, Steven Fogarty and Troy Grosenick from Providence to the taxi squad– the latter being a goaltender ahead of Thursday night’s loss to Minnesota.

With McAvoy and Nosek out of the lineup, Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made a few minor tweaks to his lines and defensive pairings.

John Moore returned to action alongside Matt Grzelcyk on the first pairing, while Trent Frederic went from playing wing to centering the fourth line in place of Nosek with Anton Blidh in his usual role at left wing.

Vaakanainen, Fogarty and Grosenick served as healthy scratches on the taxi squad against the Wild.

Matt Boldy and Marco Rossi made their National Hockey League debuts for the Wild, while defender, Jonas Brodin returned to Minnesota’s lineup after a stint in the league’s COVID protocol.

Less than half a minute into the action, Mike Reilly tripped up Rossi and cut a rut to the box– presenting the Wild with the first power play of the game 23 seconds into the first period.

Minnesota failed to convert on their first skater advantage of the night, but it wouldn’t be long before Boston’s undisciplined play came back to bite them.

Early in the action, Kevin Fiala slashed Brad Marchand before Matt Dumba hooked David Pastrnak while falling and attempting to clear the crease as the Bruins forward crashed the net.

Boston went on a 5-on-3 advantage at 4:36, but couldn’t muster anything past Kähkönen before Patrice Bergeron tripped Frederick Gaudreau at 6:11– yielding a 4-on-3 power play for the Bruins for about 26 seconds before the Wild earned an abbreviated advantage.

It didn’t take the B’s long to capitalize on all of the open ice as Erik Haula worked the puck back to Reilly in the high slot diamond formation prior to feeding Taylor Hall (7) with a perfect pass for a one-timer power-play goal off of Brodin’s leg and through Kähkönen’s five-hole.

Reilly (4) and Haula (6) tallied the assists as Hall’s goal put Boston on top, 1-0, at 6:35 of the third period.

The Bruins managed to escape Bergeron’s minor unscathed thereafter.

Late in the period, however, the tides began to turn as a surge in momentum featured dominant possession and rising shot totals for Minnesota.

As the Bruins trailed the play, Marchand yielded a holding infraction, while Brandon Carlo interfered with Mats Zuccarello at 14:49.

The Wild went on a two-skater advantage and didn’t waste time on the 5-on-3 power play– capitalizing on both opportunities they were presented with.

First, Zuccarello sent a pass through the slot to Kirill Kaprizov (14) for a one-timer blast on the power play reminiscent of Washington Capitals forward, Alex Ovechkin, or even Pastrnak’s craft.

Zuccarello (18) and Fiala (15) were credited with the assists on Kaprizov’s power-play goal that knotted things up, 1-1, at 15:25 of the first period.

About a minute later, Nico Sturm (6) deflected a shot from the point by Brodin as Connor Dewar and other traffic screened Swayman.

Sturm’s deflection rose over Swayman’s glove side and put the Wild ahead, 2-1, at 16:48 of the first period.

Brodin (12) and Dewar (1) recorded the assists. Dewar’s secondary assist marked his first career NHL point in the process.

Late in the period, after a stoppage in play Kaprizov and Blidh got into a bit of a shoving match– exchanging pleasantries and picking up roughing minors– while Trent Frederic tried to engage Zuccarello before pulling Zuccarello’s helmet off and yielding an automatic unsportsmanlike conduct minor.

Minnesota, as a result, went on the power play at 18:12 of the first period and would start the middle frame on the skater advantage as the special teams action blended through the first intermission.

After one period, the Wild led, 2-1, on the scoreboard and, 14-10, in shots on goal.

Minnesota also held the advantage in hits (13-10), while Boston led in blocked shots (2-0), takeaways (2-1) and faceoff win percentage (59-41).

Both teams managed to have one giveaway each entering the first intermission, while the Wild were 2/5 on the power play and the Bruins were 1/2.

Alex Goligoski picked up an interference infraction at 4:27 of the second period, but Boston’s power play went by the wayside without tying things up.

Midway through the period, Kaprizov tried to free the puck from near the boards out of his own zone before bumping into Grzelcyk, causing Kaprizov to fall into a vulnerable position before Frederic came along and made a check that was a bit too strong to cash.

Kaprizov crashed into the boards awkwardly and skated off with the help of a trainer while his right arm remained pretty limp. He would not return for the night with an upper body injury, as the Wild PR team later tweeted.

Frederic was assessed a boarding minor (that Craig Smith ended up serving) and a five-minute major for fighting as Dmitry Kulikov stood up for his fallen teammate and exchanged fisticuffs in what was Boston’s seventh fighting major of the 2021-22 season.

The Bruins’ penalty kill stood tall until they were caught in the vulnerable minute after special teams action as Marcus Foligno and Boldy played a little catch as Boldy (1) dished the puck to Foligno entering the zone before receiving a pass back and burying a shot on Swayman’s blocker side to extend Minnesota’s lead.

Foligno (8) and Brodin (13) tallied the assists on Boldy’s first career NHL goal with lots of family and former Boston College teammates in attendance at TD Garden.

The Wild led, 3-1, at 12:26 of the second period as a result.

Less than a minute later, Bergeron made his way to the box for the second time in the game– this time for interference at 13:03.

Shortly after Minnesota’s power play came to an end, however, the Wild ended up shorthanded as Dumba caught Reilly without the puck and picked up an interference minor of his own at 15:10.

This time, the Bruins capitalized on the ensuing power play.

Marchand sent a shot attempt towards the net that was blocked before the B’s continued to work the puck around the attacking zone.

Suddenly, Bergeron made a no-look pass from the slot to where he expected Marchand to be and Marchand (12) buried a one-timer from the dot to bring Boston to within one goal.

Bergeron (14) and Grzelcyk (7) nabbed the assists on Marchand’s power-play goal and the Bruins trailed, 3-2, at 15:35 of the second period.

Through 40 minutes of action on Thursday, the Wild led on the road, 3-2, and held an advantage in shots on goal, 24-21, despite trailing, 11-10, in the second period alone.

The Bruins, meanwhile, led in blocked shots (6-2), hits (25-16) and faceoff win% (58-42), while both teams had four takeaways and three giveaways each.

Minnesota was 2/7 on the power play and Boston was 2/4 on the skater advantage heading into the final frame.

After injuring Kaprizov and drawing the ire of the Wild, Frederic had to confront Minnesota’s Foligno brother in an exchange of fisticuffs at 1:12 of the third period.

The trouble is that Frederic couldn’t help himself in making his case any easier for him as he also drew a high sticking minor in addition to the five-minute major– totaling minutes in penalties on Thursday.

It was the second fight of the night and decisively shorted than the first with Foligno getting the takedown and five minutes worth of a fighting major of his own.

Minnesota’s ensuing power play was cut short when Rossi tripped Carlo at 1:24, but Boston couldn’t score during the ensuing abbreviated power play.

In fact, neither team could put one up on the scoreboard in the third period as time ticked away, Cassidy pulled his goaltender with about 1:28 to go, used his timeout after a stoppage with 1:23 remaining, then the final horn sounded– signaling a Wild victory.

Minnesota won, 3-2, despite finishing the night trailing in shots on goal, 38-30, as Boston amassed a, 17-6 advantage in shots in the third period alone.

The Wild exited TD Garden leading in blocked shots (10-9), while the B’s left their own building with the advantage in giveaways (7-5), hits (33-23) and faceoff win% (60-40).

Minnesota finished the night 2/8 on the power play, while Boston went 2/5 on the skater advantage.

The Bruins dropped to 11-5-0 (5-3-0 at home) when scoring first, 3-6-1 (3-3-1 at home) when trailing after one period and 3-8-2 (3-4-1 at home) when trailing after two periods this season.

The Wild improved to 7-8-1 (3-5-1 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 13-0-1 (7-0-0 on the road) when leading after the first period and 12-0-1 (8-0-0 on the road) when leading after the second period in 2021-22.

The Bruins hit the road for a quick two-game trip through Tampa, Florida against the Lightning on Saturday and Washington, D.C. against the Capitals next Monday (Jan. 10th). 

Boston will return home to host the Montréal Canadiens in a game that was originally slated to be at Bell Centre prior to the rise of the Omicron variant prompting the NHL to move up Boston and Montréal’s March 21st game scheduled at TD Garden to Jan. 12th– kicking off a seven-game homestand for the B’s as a result.

Tickets for March 21st will be honored on Jan. 12th and the original game that was slated to be in Montréal is postponed to a later date (TBA).

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NHL Nick's Net Numbers Game

Your Team Will Rise/Fail: 2021-22 Standings Projections

It is time. The 2021-22 season is upon us.

Technically it already started, but we’ll ignore the fact that the Pittsburgh Penguins spoiled the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 2021 Stanley Cup champion banner night with a, 6-2, victory on the road before the Vegas Golden Knights held off a Seattle Kraken comeback in a, 4-3, win at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday night.

And then Wednesday’s games happened too.

Let’s hit the “reset” button for a second and pretend the 2021-22 is about to get underway. All 32 National Hockey League teams have a chance at clinching 16 available playoff berths.

Any of the 16 teams that make the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs could etch 52 names from their roster, front office and organization on the Stanley Cup next June.

The usual divisions– Atlantic, Central, Metropolitan and Pacific– have returned as have the Eastern Conference and Western Conference. The regular playoff format is back (three teams per division, two wild cards per conference qualify, plus the Conference Finals round returns in place of the Stanley Cup Semfinals in 2021).

A full 82-game regular season schedule is slated from October through the end of April with a three-week break in February for the 2022 All Star Game in Las Vegas and the 2022 Winter Games taking precedence before a return to NHL action down the stretch with the postseason kicking off in May like last year and the 2022-23 season likely returning to the pre-pandemic timeline (2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs starting in April).

The 2022 NHL Entry Draft will be in Montréal on July 7th and 8th, while free agency begins on July 13th, but between now and then, we’ve got the 2021-22 regular season to enjoy.

Using last season’s team goals for and team goals against, plus some other “magic numbers” as part of an expected points model, we’re able to project what 2021-22 could be for all 32 teams (yes, even the Seattle Kraken, despite this year being their first season)– though you’ll have to pretend there were no transactions made in the offseason.

In other words, don’t think that any of what you’re about to see is set in stone– view it more as a suggestion for a possible outcome.

Also, please remember my degree is in communication, so any math beyond figuring out “goals + assists = season point totals” doesn’t exist.

In a normal year (like from 2017-18 to 2018-19, for example), you just take all the data from the 82-game schedule for each team plug it into a formula in a spreadsheet, then line things up accordingly in each division.

However, just like how the shortened 2019-20 season disrupted the regular process for projecting a 2020-21 standings outlook, going from last season’s stats in a 56-game schedule to projecting a regular 82-game season in 2021-22 necessitated the use of forecasting point pace as part of the formula.

As for Seattle, a simple means of taking the NHL stats from last season for every player on their roster and plugging it in for a 2021-22 result is exactly what I did.

We’re all just making it up as we go along, folks. These are projections. They are not absolutes.

For the sake of keeping it simple, here’s a look at how things could go (but probably not) in each division for the upcoming 2021-22 season.

The overall vibe of the Central Division for 2021-22 is that it’s just more of exactly what you’d expect. The Colorado Avalanche are lightyears ahead of everyone else, while Kirill Kaprizov and the Minnesota Wild continue to be on the rise and everyone else fights for what they can earn.

Meanwhile, the jury is still out on whether or not the Winnipeg Jets can breakthrough as Canada’s team and break the Canadian curse (become the first Canadian club to win the Cup since 1993).

Will Colorado finally break through the Second Round and win the Cup?

Are the Avalanche just the Toronto Maple Leafs but with a little more success? My column:

No, but really, it’s worth asking if the Avs making it back to the Western Conference Final for the first time since 2002, is more like Toronto’s struggle to make it out of the First Round for the first time since 2004, or is Colorado’s struggle more like the Washington Capitals pre-2018?

The Caps won three Presidents’ Trophies in 2009-10, 2015-16 and 2016-17, but couldn’t make it past the Second Round– let alone the Pittsburgh Penguins– until they finally did and ended up surging in momentum all the way to their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

Colorado, on the other hand, has already won the Cup twice (1996 and 2001) and also has three Presidents’ Trophies to their name in 1996-97, 2000-01 and 2020-21, so if recent history has anything to tell us it’s that yet another team with high expectations for at least a few seasons now only to come up short could very well go on to win it all after winning the Presidents’ Trophy the previous year.

Either that or they’ll have to win it in back-to-back seasons like Washington did before they won the Cup in 2018.

Then again, the Tampa Bay Lightning tied the Detroit Red Wings’ record for most wins in the regular season (62), securing the Presidents’ Trophy in the process in 2018-19, then got swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2019 First Round.

The very next year, however, Tampa kicked off back-to-back Cup rings in 2020 and 2021, to be where they are now as the two-time defending champions likely standing in the path as the only other favorites outside of the Avalanche this season.

Anyway, the Avs mostly kept things the same from last season to this season, losing Joonas Donskoi to the Seattle Kraken in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft, Brandon Saad to the St. Louis Blues in free agency and making minor swaps among replacement level bottom-six forwards and bottom-pairing defenders.

Oh, then there’s this whole thing about how Philipp Grubauer left for Seattle in free agency too, so Colorado acquired Darcy Kuemper from the Arizona Coyotes.

Between Dallas, Nashville and St. Louis, who will realistically make the playoffs?

The Stars are projected to finish with about 94 points, the Predators sit at 92 points and the Blues are around 91 points in this one projection, but don’t let the points alone be your deciding factor.

Given the strength of the Central Division compared to the Pacific Division, you can bet on five teams making out of the Central among Western Conference playoff berths.

As such, the spread is the difference maker between these three teams expected to be in the wild card hunt– it’s going to come down to the wire one way or another.

Dallas bolstered their goaltending depth by signing Braden Holtby, Nashville traded Ryan Ellis to the Philadelphia Flyers and St. Louis is… …better than last season on paper?

I mean, the Blues signed Saad, acquired Pavel Buchnevich from the New York Rangers in exchange for Sammy Blais, let Seattle claim Vince Dunn at the expansion draft and let Mike Hoffman walk to the Montréal Canadiens in July.

You could say they took a hit here or there, but those aren’t “nobody names” by any means, however.

If Jordan Binnington and Ville Husso can stabilize things in the crease, then St. Louis has a better situation than the Predators.

The Stars, meanwhile, should benefit from a longer season where more of their core guys– like Tyler Seguin, for example– are healthy. Last season’s COVID-19 outbreak to kick things off in January really killed Dallas’ momentum as a team on the verge of being in the 2021 postseason.

Dallas should get back into the swing of things and St. Louis should be able to stay relevant for at least another year, but how hard the Preds rely on Juuse Saros as their starting goaltender will dictate whether or not they’re able to play spoiler with David Rittich as their backup since Pekka Rinne retired.

Can Arizona avoid the basement?

Anything is possible at this point. Loui Eriksson and Andrew Ladd were scoring goals in the postseason, so a fresh start could be just what both players needed for the last few years at least.

That said, Coyotes General Manager, Bill Armstrong, gave a Masterclass™️ in how to go about rebuilding by selling everything over the summer and taking on “bad” contracts with only one or two years remaining in hopes of playing just well enough to be bad enough without making it look obvious that you’re aiming to win the 2022 NHL Draft Lottery.

The Pacific Division is the new Scotia NHL North Division from last season. In other words, it’s the worst– which is great news for the Seattle Kraken as the league’s schedule allots more division play than any other opponents (though the Kraken will play every other team in the league at least twice).

Seattle’s riding the waves of new-age expansion, while the Vegas Golden Knights lead the charge for the Presidents’ Trophy campaign in 2021-22.

Wait, Seattle in 2nd in the Pacific, really?

Yes, really.

The Kraken have a great front office that goes beyond just Ron Francis as General Manager and have done their due diligence in scouting the best talent available to try to replicate the success of the Vegas Golden Knights’ inaugural season in 2017-18, as well as grow beyond just 2021-22.

That said, Seattle probably isn’t going to make it out of the First Round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs, even if they have to face the Edmonton Oilers according to this projection.

It’s a best case scenario for the NHL’s newest expansion team to be in the weakest division, but aside from having recent Stanley Cup champions Yanni Gourde, Philipp Grubauer, Jaden Schwartz and Dunn on their roster, the Kraken have a plethora of players that are relatively inexperienced with deep postseason runs.

Head coach, Dave Hakstol, also hasn’t had the consistency of making the playoffs and making it out of the First Round in his NHL coaching days, but as a team that, again, is looking to develop long-term success, these are mere growing pains Francis and Co. are willing to accept as the fan base grows.

Why aren’t the Kings making the cut this year when everyone else says they’ll be the most improved?

The simple answer is that everyone’s overrating Los Angeles when it comes to the “ready now” factor.

Sure, Kings General Manager, Rob Blake, did a good thing by getting Viktor Arvidsson in a trade with Nashville this summer to solidify his top-six forward group and signed Alex Edler to fortify his defense, but Los Angeles’ goaltending leaves something to be desired.

Here’s hoping Jonathan Quick can find a little resurgence at this point in his career, while Cal Petersen continues to come into his own.

If Los Angeles has any injuries– and they already have with Arvidsson likely missing some time due to an injury in the last preseason game– they’re already close enough to the bubble that they’ll only fall further behind.

That said, if the Kings don’t make it back to the postseason hunt in 2022, there’s a good chance they make it in 2023.

Los Angeles is improving, but by how much remains to be seen.

Will winning the Presidents’ Trophy hurt Vegas?

Eh, it’s hard to say.

The Golden Knights have packed in just about every type of heartbreak since their inception in 2017, that fans of other franchises have only experienced over the course of at least 50 years, so if Vegas pulls out the Presidents’ Trophy win in 2021-22, don’t be surprised when the inevitable happens and they win the Cup instead of doing what most other Presidents’ Trophy winners in the salary cap era have done.

Only the 2007-08 Detroit Red Wings and Chicago in 2012-13, have been able to win the Presidents’ Trophy and the Stanley Cup since the salary cap was introduced ahead of the 2005-06 season.

Vegas would probably join Detroit and Chicago in doing so just so the Hockey Gods can spite us again.

It’s not easy to be in the Metropolitan Division these days because, well, let’s save that for the three questions below.

Is this the toughest division to project?

Absolutely.

The Carolina Hurricanes decided to just get rid of a few parts and pieces that helped make them good for the last few seasons, so they’re bound to regress even with Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechnikov, Teuvo Teräväinen and Martin Necas still existing.

The Pittsburgh Penguins since 2009, have always found a way to be near the top of the division standings by the end of the regular season no matter whether or not you believe they’ll inevitably miss the playoffs for the first time since 2006, so anything could happen there.

The New York Islanders have made back-to-back appearances in the Eastern Conference Final, so I’d expect them to be good.

The Washington Capitals are better than the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers, at least, but are probably the only team on the bubble if the New Jersey Devils can come out of nowhere and be competitive this season after signing Dougie Hamilton, Tomas Tatar and Jonathan Bernier in the offseason.

Meanwhile, it’s time for a short rebuild in Columbus as the Blue Jackets would be quite pleased with a top draft pick in 2022.

What if Chris Drury never was promoted as General Manager of the Rangers?

They’d still fire David Quinn and hire Gerard Gallant. I don’t think that’s such a bad idea, but they’d definitely reconsider about 90% of the roster decisions made this summer.

There’s no reason why the Rangers have to go down this path and yet, here they are, fumbling at the one-yard line and possibly plunging their franchise back into the Dark Ages of another rebuild. Or is it the same ongoing rebuild?

What about a team to watch like New Jersey, for example?

I’m big on the Devils this season for some strange reason.

Maybe it’s because a part of me deep down misses the trap game of the 1990s and 2000s that led to Stanley Cups for New Jersey in 1995, 2000 and 2003.

Maybe it’s because they signed Hamilton, Tatar, Bernier and acquired Ryan Graves from the Colorado Avalanche as a supporting cast for Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier, Pavel Zacha, Yegor Sharangovich, Ty Smith and friends.

Seriously, the Devils should be good in the next few seasons, but this year could be the biggest stride forward in terms of their improvement from the basement to their development as a playoff contender.

First, pour one out for Jack Eichel. Now, let’s move on and talk about everyone else.

What does this mean for the Leafs?

Just like how the Stars, Preds and Blues are all right on top of one another in the Central Division standings, the Atlantic Division is stacked from 1st through 4th, so though Toronto leads the way in this projection, I wouldn’t feel too comfortable as a Leafs fan.

The Maple Leafs played in the worst of the four divisions last year in the temporarily realigned divisions in wake of the ongoing pandemic.

No, it’s not just because they played all the other Canadian teams across 56 games, but rather it’s due to the fact that they haven’t been able to matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers and even the Boston Bruins since the 2019-20 season.

A lot and not a lot has changed since then.

Tampa is still dominant as ever, Florida has emerged as a team that’s on the rise and Boston is unpredictable in that– much like the Penguins– it could really go either way with the Bruins this season.

So now Toronto has to take on better competition within their own division and square off with teams like the Vegas Golden Knights, Colorado Avalanche, New York Islanders and others that emerge towards the top of the standings outside of the Canadian teams that the Leafs are all too familiar with at this point.

That said, Toronto still has a great chance at winning the Atlantic Division regular season title or finishing 2nd and having home ice advantage in the First Round for the second-straight postseason.

Can anyone other than Toronto, Florida, Tampa or Boston make it out of the Atlantic this year?

No. Let’s be realistic here.

The Montréal Canadiens made it to the 2021 Stanley Cup Final despite being below .500 in the standings because every division produced four playoff berths and intra-divisional play through two rounds.

In 2020, they upset the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Qualifier despite finishing right at .500.

In any other non-pandemic timeline, the Canadiens would still be looking for their first playoff appearance since they lost to the New York Rangers in six games in the 2017 First Round.

That’s not to say that Nick Suzuki can’t lead the Habs back to glory, but rather that they need to improve all-around in the regular season and peaking in performance in the playoffs.

Though the Ottawa Senators promised unprecedented success from 2021-25, it’s looking like it’ll realistically be anytime between 2024-25 as in the 2024-25 season itself at this point.

Ottawa’s goaltending needs to improve, their defense could use some tweaks and the Sens are banking on their offense getting their feet underneath them and bursting in production in the coming years.

A little more patience won’t hurt them.

The same can be said for the Detroit Red Wings in that Red Wings fans already know– trust in General Manager, Steve Yzerman, is paramount. He’ll work his magic.

It just takes a little time to build a solid foundation and the first floor is almost ready to start going up.

As for the Buffalo Sabres, well…

At least they’ll hopefully give Rick Jeanneret a proper send-off before he retires as their play-by-play announcer for the last 51 years on television.

Hopefully.

Will Tampa win three consecutive Stanley Cup championships?

Probably not.

I’m not ruling it out entirely, but the Lightning have a better chance of winning three Cups in four years than they do three Cups in as many years as things stand currently.

The loss of their entire third line (Blake Coleman, Yanni Gourde and Barclay Goodrow) from last season to this season is sure to leave a mark on the development and restructuring of their bottom-six forwards.

That said, Tampa’s top-six forwards still exist and, if you haven’t already noticed, they’re very good on their own, but the best teams in the playoffs have four lines that can roll without a doubt and the Bolts might just be off the ball for a year in terms of depth.


Alright, if you’ve made it this far, thanks for your patience. By now the season’s already going on a few days into the 2021-22 calendar, so the two of us (or more if you’re reading this to a group) should probably get back to watching games.

Stay tuned for more forecasts for both standings and assorted teams throughout the season.

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NHL Nick's Net Previews

Minnesota Wild 2021-22 Season Preview

2020-21 record 35-16-5, 75 points

3rd in the Honda NHL West Division

Eliminated in the First Round by Vegas

Additions: F Frédérick Gaudreau, F Dominic Turgeon, D Jordie Benn, D Kevin Czuczman, D Alex Goligoski, D Joe Hicketts, D Dmitry Kulikov, D Jon Lizotte, D Jon Merrill

Subtractions: F Nick Bonino (signed with SJS), F Gabriel Dumont (signed with TBL), F Marcus Johansson (signed with SEA), F Luke Johnson (signed with WPG), F Gerald Mayhew (signed with PHI), F Zach Parise (buyout, signed with NYI), F Dmitry Sokolov (NMHL), D Matt Bartkowski (signed to a PTO with PIT), D Louie Belpedio (signed with MTL), D Ian Cole (signed with CAR), D Brad Hunt (signed with VAN), D Brennan Menell (traded to TOR), D Carson Soucy (expansion, SEA), D Ryan Suter (buyout, signed with DAL)

Still Unsigned: D Ian McCoshen

Re-signed: F Will Bitten, F Nick Bjugstad, F Joseph Cramarossa, F Brandon Duhaime, F Joel Eriksson Ek, F Kevin Fiala, F Kirill Kaprizov, F Kyle Rau, F Mason Shaw, D Dakota Mermis, G Andrew Hammond

Offseason Analysis: It took all summer, but it didn’t linger into the fall as Wild General Manager, Bill Guerin, and forward, Kirill Kaprizov, were able to hammer out a five-year extension worth $9.000 million per season– forcing this entire offseason recap/season preview to be re-written.

Going into Tuesday, Minnesota was bound to receive a letter grade in the “D” range for failing to secure Kaprizov before training camp, despite a few other moves that have actually been pretty good for them– salary cap penalties via buyouts aside.

Late Tuesday, Kaprizov re-signed and all is just about forgiven for the Wild.

Since joining the league as an expansion team in 2000, Minnesota has rarely had a competitive team that can make a deep run into the postseason. They’ve consistently been good, but never good enough.

Marian Gaborik came and went, Mikko Koivu stayed loyal until he joined the Columbus Blue Jackets for a brief stint last season prior to retiring less than a month into the 2020-21 schedule and then the dawn of the Kaprizov Era began.

After spending time in the Kontinental Hockey League for his early development, Kaprizov amassed 27-24–51 totals in 55 games in his debut season with Minnesota as a 24-year-old left wing.

He’s the real deal and the Wild are leaning into it.

Though Nick Bonino, Marcus Johansson and others weren’t re-signed as part of Minnesota’s depth that got them all the way to a Game 7 at T-Mobile Arena against the Vegas Golden Knights in the 2021 First Round, Guerin held things down where it counts– the core.

Joel Eriksson Ek signed an eight-year extension worth $5.250 million per season after a breakout season with 30 points (19 goals, 11 assists) in 56 games last season after amassing 8-21–29 totals in 62 games in 2019-20.

If the last two seasons are an indication of what’s to come, then the Wild have a steal of a deal in Eriksson Ek’s cap hit as the 24-year-old emerges in his prime.

Guerin brought back Kevin Fiala on a one-year extension worth $5.100 million– retaining restricted-free agency status over the 25-year-old forward heading into next offseason– after putting up 101 points (46 goals, 55 assists) in 133 games with the Wild in parts of three seasons since he was acquired on Feb. 25, 2019.

In parts of five seasons with the Nashville Predators from 2014-15 through 2018-19, Fiala had 45-52–97 totals in 204 games.

Don’t fix what isn’t broken, because clearly something is clicking in Minnesota and the Wild are reaping the benefits.

Alex Goligoski and Jon Merrill are fine additions to the defense, though as for how efficient they’ll be compared to the loss of Ryan Suter remains to be seen.

Guerin bought out the remainder of Zach Parise and Suter’s matching contracts on July 13, 2021, and in doing so saved Minnesota some valuable cap space to sign Kaprizov and build off of the new core.

That said, Parise and Suter will cost the Wild about $4.744 million in dead cap space for 2021-22, then $12.744 million in dead cap space in 2022-23, before the buyout penalties reach a crescendo with a combined $14.744 million in dead cap money from 2023-24 through 2024-25 before Parise and Suter’s penalties taper off with a combined cost of $1.667 million in 2025-26, as well as 2026-27.

This offseason might have been a breeze, but next offseason is a different story– especially as building and maintaining contender status gets difficult in the next few seasons too.

Ultimately, the cost of buying out Parise and Suter may or may not even be a headache for Guerin to deal with. It all depends on how the team performs between now and a couple of seasons from now.

For now, Guerin has about $3.215 million in cap space to play with for the 2021-22 season.

Over the summer, the Seattle Kraken formed their first roster and did Minnesota a favor without asking.

Seattle could’ve selected Kaapo Kähkönen, since the Wild protected Cam Talbot, but the Kraken went in a different direction and snagged Carson Soucy from Minnesota’s depth on the blue line.

Offseason Grade: B+

Though it took a little longer than both sides had probably hoped– and with more frustration than expected– Guerin re-signed his No. 1 priority in Kaprizov before the start of training camp.

The biggest challenge for Minnesota– other than improving on last season’s success before a First Round exit– is finding a way to keep the band together next offseason, when Fiala, Jordan Greenway and Kähkönen are on the short list of important pending-restricted free agents.

Meanwhile, guys like Victor Rask, Nick Bjugstad, Kyle Rau, Nico Sturm, Goligoski, Jordie Benn and Merrill have a little more flexibility to come and go as they please– assuming there’s enough cap space in face of the Parise and Suter buyout penalty crunch on top of what might still be a flat cap for the 2022-23 season due to the ongoing pandemic.

At the very least, 2023-24 should be a bit more optimistic with the latest U.S. broadcasting rights deals for ESPN and Turner Sports inflating league revenue all-around and likely bumping up the salary cap as a result.

For now, Minnesota’s transition continues, but for once there’s a sense of stability given their best players are 25 and under and enjoy being in a Wild uniform.

Though they didn’t bring the alleged “State of Hockey” a Stanley Cup championship in their tenure, Parise and Suter made playing for Minnesota cool as the franchise found its footing now entering its second generation.

Categories
NHL Nick's Net

Let’s pretend we have any say in jersey sponsors

Apparently the National Hockey League’s Board of Governors were up to something this month as it was reported by Sportico on Tuesday that the Board unanimously approved ads on the front of NHL jerseys beginning with the 2022-23 season.

The ads will be no bigger than a 3-inch-by-3.5-inch rectangle, which is slightly larger than the ads featured on the front of National Basketball Association (NBA) jerseys.

It was only a matter of time before the NHL followed the NBA in generating additional revenue by doing what professional hockey leagues outside of North America have been doing for many years, as well as what’s been done for at least a few seasons now in the American Hockey League (AHL) and ECHL minor league levels on this side of the pond.

As always, hockey Twitter is taking the news well.

Let’s embrace the chaos for a moment and pick some sponsors for all 32 NHL teams that would make so much sense they’ll obviously be overlooked for, well, actual revenue generating streams instead.

Anaheim Ducks

What we want: Disney+ or TCL
What we’ll get: Honda

The Ducks play at Honda Center and, yeah, there’s really nothing besides Disney swooping in and sponsoring the team that they used to own as a means of cross promoting both the Ducks and The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers on Disney+, so we’re stuck with a Honda logo at center ice and on the front of Anaheim’s jerseys.

In any case, Honda’s red logo works pretty well with the Orange County orange featured as an accent color on Anaheim’s home and road jerseys.

NHL teams have a tendency to go back to the well with their partners– think of how many teams have either the same helmet sponsor as another team or just slapped on the same brand as their venue’s naming rights deal– but if we want to expand the playground a little bit perhaps TCL could be of interest for the Ducks.

Come to think of it, that’s probably a better option.

*Opens up Photoshop*

Arizona Coyotes

What we want: P.F. Chang’s or Cold Stone Creamery
What we’ll get: Fry’s or something, probably

Believe it or not the Los Angeles Chargers won’t be the only team tweeting about P.F. Chang’s for long as the restaurant chain was founded in 1993, and opened their first location in Scottsdale, Arizona, so it only makes sense to go back to their roots and toss an ad on the Coyotes’ jersey.

Also founded in Arizona– Cold Stone Creamery.

We figured that’d probably make sense on an AHL team’s jersey, though, despite the obvious cold ice, cold ice cream connection.

The Coyotes had Mountain America on their helmets at home and Dignity Health on their road helmets in 2020-21, so in reality we’ll probably get one of those two on the front of their jerseys in 2022-23.

Boston Bruins

What we want: Dunkin’ or bust
What we’ll get: TD Bank or O.R.G. Packaging, probably

What could possibly be more Boston than a Bruins jersey with a Dunkin’ logo on it?

Their AHL affiliate– the Providence Bruins– already play in the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Rhode Island and have a Dunkin’ ad patch on their jerseys. Why not call it up to the major league?

That said, with some NBA teams earning up to about $20 million in jersey ad space revenue, the B’s likely will reach for a brand with deeper pockets than doughnuts and coffee.

Delaware North likes their relationship with a certain bank from Toronto (TD Bank) and has had one of the league’s longest relationships with a Chinese company (O.R.G. Packaging) as part of the NHL’s intended growth beyond the continents of North America and Europe, so one of the two brands is more likely to appear on a Bruins jersey.

Buffalo Sabres

What we want: Super Chexx
What we’ll get: KeyBank

The Sabres could use some fun in their lives these days and you know what really helps put the mind at ease? Bubble hockey.

That’s right, Innovative Concepts in Entertainment, Inc. (ICE)– the manufacturers of the popular bar and arcade classic, Super Chexx, that your rich friend down the street growing up also had in the comforts of their home– is based outside Buffalo and would be a match made in heaven right about now.

Especially as Sabres fans are looking for something to do while the game’s on TV.

So yeah, we’re definitely going to get KeyBank, Tim Horton’s or something else entirely instead.

Calgary Flames

What we want: WestJet or Duraflame
What we’ll get: Scotiabank

If you, as an American, can name any other Canadian airline other than Air Canada, then congratulations. If you can’t, then may I introduce you to WestJet?

WestJet’s headquarters are next to Calgary International Airport and it’d be nice to prove to the world that Canada is more than just a land of Tim Horton’s, Roots, Canadian Tire, Rogers, Scotiabank and Mr. Sub.

If Duraflame isn’t available, then you might as well dip into the low-cost airline industry as a means of attracting tourists to Banff National Park, Calgary Stampede or whatever it is that sets Calgary apart from the rest of Alberta (so… not being Edmonton).

Carolina Hurricanes

What we want: Surge
What we’ll get: PNC, Diehard, maybe Cheerwine or something else

This should be obvious, but if you haven’t paid attention to the Hurricanes for at least the last few seasons now they do a “Storm Surge” celebration after every win on home ice in the regular season (and sometimes playoffs).

Surge (the soda) is one of those drinks that makes headlines every few years for being pulled straight out of the vault and placed back on grocery store shelves– speaking of which, does anyone know if it’s currently available?

If not, it’ll definitely be back by the 2022-23 season.

Yes, it’s hard to envision where an ad will be placed on the road jersey as the prime real estate is used up by the diagonal “CANES” letters and– for a few players– the captain’s “C” or alternate captain’s “A”.

Chicago

What we want: Portillo’s
What we’ll get: United

Look, between Walgreens, Sears and Portillo’s there’s a few legendary brands that Chicago could partner with as their first jersey ad in franchise history (not including practice jerseys).

Obviously only one of the three mentioned above is the right choice and its the one that might lead you to Walgreens later if you have a weak stomach. Besides, Sears is fading from our collective memory whether it is out of business already or not.

Clark Griswold would be proud of Portillo’s proudly being displayed on a, well, if a WHL team can rebrand, so can you, Chicago.

Colorado Avalanche

What we want: Chipotle or Coors
What we’ll get: Ball

Look, whether or not Nathan MacKinnon eats Chipotle is a debate for another day, but one thing’s for sure– both Chipotle and MacKinnon started their careers in Colorado.

Though Coors or Coors Light would make more sense, we have to consider the fact that kids might be wearing these jerseys to the game and we haven’t heard whether or not the jerseys that are sold in the proshops in 2022-23 and beyond will include the front jersey ad or not.

If they do, then we probably can’t market beer to children.

I’m pretty sure there’s a law about that and it’s also the reason why all my 1:64 scale diecast Rusty Wallace and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. cars from when I was a kid said “Team Rusty” and “Dale Jr.” on them, respectively, instead of Miller Lite and Budweiser.

Columbus Blue Jackets

What we want: Wendy’s
What we’ll get: Nationwide

Coinciding with the uptick in Columbus born and raised players on the Blue Jackets roster, it would be a great idea to add Wendy’s– which was founded in Columbus in 1969– to the team in such a way that perhaps Jack Roslovic and Sean Kuraly star in local commercials to the Blue Jackets viewing area during the 2022-23 season.

I know that’s assuming Roslovic signs an extension, but the pending-restricted free agent at the end of the 2021-22 season helped facilitate the Pierre-Luc Dubois for Patrik Laine trade with the Winnipeg Jets by forcing Winnipeg into trading him to his hometown team.

Unlike several recent stars that left the city via free agency, Roslovic will stick around for the long term.

Especially if there’s some goods in kind involved with a Wendy’s sponsorship. I mean, I would at least.

Dallas Stars

What we want: Whataburger
What we’ll get: AT&T

Though Whataburger would be a welcome party in the burger wars when Columbus and Dallas would “meat” up, there’s no beef to be found in this hypothetical because AT&T has already made that decision for us.

Sometimes you just can’t think too hyperlocal and AT&T fetches a more national audience than a regional chain that primarily serves Texas.

Besides, if you go to Dallas for a Stars game, you can always just get Whataburger then. It’s not like they’re going to send you a meal with a jersey if ads are on the jerseys sold to fans in 2022-23.

Detroit Red Wings

What we want: Little Caesars
What we’ll get: Little Caesars

The last few teams have all involved food and we’re going to be stuck on this theme for at least one more team after this.

Both the Red Wings and Little Caesars are owned by the Ilitch family and if you think adding one more connection between Detroit and pizza is a bad thing then you clearly don’t understand the marketing behind this.

Kids love pizza. Adults love pizza. There’s a lot of good memories involving pizza.

Plus, with General Manager, Steve Yzerman, in charge, the Red Wings are on the rise, which will only further tap into the nostalgia from when Detroit was doing what the Tampa Bay Lightning are currently doing to the rest of the league.

Edmonton Oilers

What we want: Boston Pizza
What we’ll get: Rogers

Edmonton thought they could replicate the success Ken Holland had in Detroit by hiring Holland as their General Manager and when they see that we’ve got a pizza establishment heading for the front of the Red Wings’ jersey, then the Oilers will think it’s also a good idea to snag a slice.

That’s where Boston Pizza comes in.

Whether or not they’ll get Connor McDavid to do an ad read or be left with whatever scraps surround him on the Oilers roster remains to be seen.

In all likelihood, Rogers Communications will probably just get to slap their logo on another element of Edmonton’s brand.

Florida Panthers

What we want: Royal Caribbean International
What we’ll get: Baptist Health or something

The Blockbuster guy (the late Wayne Huizenga) founded the team and almost named them the “Florida Block Busters”, so it’d be neat to incorporate an homage to the days of Blockbuster (rest in peace) with the almost Blockbuster-like colors of Royal Caribbean International on the jersey.

Plus, who among us hasn’t uttered the words “I need a vacation from my vacation” before?

If you’re an out of town fan visiting the Panthers in Florida or watching the Panthers come to your town— there’s a cruise line for you even if you wouldn’t go remotely near a cruise before the ongoing pandemic began.

Los Angeles Kings

What we want: Dollar Shave Club
What we’ll get: Anschutz Entertainment Group

Never doubt for a second that a team owner wouldn’t give up the chance to toot their own horn, which is why it’s quite possible that one of the world’s biggest entertainment entities would slap their own logo on the front of a Kings jersey.

If you’re not able to finagle a way to write things off as a deduction, then Dollar Shave Club presents a unique opportunity despite the fact that shaving isn’t something that’s in Drew Doughty’s vernacular (or any hockey player, for that matter, when the Stanley Cup Playoffs roll around).

Manscaped could also make a run here and in any case, fine.

Minnesota Wild

What we want: Target or General Mills
What we’ll get: Xcel Energy

When you think of Minnesota what’s the first thing you think about?

That’s right, the very place where you could be standing right now reading this while you’re waiting for a cash register to open up or aimlessly perusing the aisles for those impulse purchases you somehow always make at Target.

It fits the Wild color scheme well and if we’re not going to get General Mills involved then at least getting more than the standard 5% discount for having a Target RedCard via goods in kind might be enough to convince Kirill Kaprizov to stay in Minnesota long-term.

Montréal Canadiens

What we want: CCM and/or Molson
What we’ll get: Bell

CCM makes more than just jerseys, but it’s not like adidas would be just fine with a CCM logo appearing on the front of an adidas ADIZERO jersey.

So, we’re left with two obvious choices– Molson or Bell.

If there’s nothing against a Canadian team bearing an alcoholic beverage on the front of their jersey with the potential for that brand to be marketed towards kids, then perhaps Molson– whose family ties own the Habs– might make an appearance near the crest.

That or we’ll just get more airtime for Bell. Either way, Montréal would be attractive enough as a franchise to bring in more than one jersey ad sponsor if the league doesn’t have any specific rules outside of the size of the ad.

Nashville Predators

What we want: Curb Records or CMT
What we’ll get: Fifth Third Bank

The music city could attract a music label if they wanted to, but Fifth Third Bank loves investing in Nashville for some reason– like, a lot, despite being headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio and primarily serving Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, West Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida more than all of Tennessee.

In any case, good for the Predators. They’ll have some deep pockets to reach into while other teams surely will have to squabble for seven figures related to the going rate for the prime ad space.

Still feels like we’d be missing out on a sweet Curb Records patch close enough to the guitar pick on the right shoulder though.

New Jersey Devils

What we want: Honestly, just Prudential is fine
What we’ll get: Prudential

The Devils are overlooked and let’s admit it, you couldn’t think of something distinctly New Jersey either– besides not being allowed to fill your own gas tank.

Bruce Springsteen is not sponsoring the Devils alone.

Whether it’s settling on an old reliable or simply making use of what’s trustworthy and already available, Prudential and New Jersey just seem like a good fit.

New York Islanders

What we want: Gorton’s
What we’ll get: Not Gorton’s

“We want fishsticks!”

O.K., you got them. Take that, Rangers fans. The Islanders are cool now because they’re steering into the skid.

They just won’t go as far as bringing back the fisherman jersey from the dead, but alas, they’ll show a spark of creativity and even crack a smile on Lou Lamoriello’s face with the real Gorton’s fisherman making an appearance on the jersey.

Obviously this will never happen.

New York Rangers

What we want: Liberty Mutual if they’re bringing back the “Lady Liberty” jerseys as an alternate
What we’ll get: Chase for sure, maybe New York Life too

Liberty Mutual (a Boston company) on the “Lady Liberty” jersey would be a sight to see, but New York will never let it happen.

Instead, Chase, which already has quite a great partnership with the team, Madison Square Garden, Manhattan, etc. will likely just step up and foot the bill for one– if not all– of the jerseys in full.

That’s fine. The Rangers will suffer the same consequences of having a diagonal wordmark on their jersey like Carolina’s road jersey, but at least New York’s pretty much always been this way so they should have some ideas of how to work around that.

Ottawa Senators

What we want: Canada Post
What we’ll get: Bell, Scotiabank or Canadian Tire

Canada’s capital city gets the honor of having Canada Post on their jerseys because it breaks up the trend of having the same three or four companies sponsoring all seven Canadian teams (like how their helmets were for 2020-21).

In reality, we’ll probably get more of the same from the Sens and either Bell, Canadian Tire or Scotiabank will make an appearance on Ottawa’s jersey.

At the very least, Canada’s postal service sponsoring a team is more economically viable than the United States Postal Service sponsoring a team.

Philadelphia Flyers

What we want: Wawa or Audacy
What we’ll get: Comcast or GlaxoSmithKline

Remember how I said you don’t want to go too local for a jersey ad? Well, Wawa on a Flyers jersey is an exception.

That said, it probably wouldn’t have the staying power to work on a road jersey too, so Philadelphia could tap into the artist formerly known as Entercom, since rebanded as Audacy, for more.

Audacy maintained their Philadelphia headquarters and covers a broad range of Internet radio, digital content, regular radio and podcasting platforms, plus their logo is orange which fits the Flyers brand.

It’s either that or Comcast will slap their own logo on the jersey or something.

Pittsburgh Penguins

What we want: Duolingo
What we’ll get: PPG Industries

Duolingo is headquartered in Pittsburgh and as a website and mobile app, every sports league with ads on jerseys needs at least one that makes you scratch your head at first before realizing the connection between the company and the city.

The dating app, Bumble, once was featured on the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers jerseys prior to the Clippers replacing Bumble with their more jersey ad with the online browser extension coupon company, Honey.

Dating and living expenses in Los Angeles are probably harder than learning a few new languages through Duolingo, so combining Duolingo with the Penguins makes perfect sense since hockey players can come from all over and speak many languages.

Besides, it might give your team an advantage if they can communicate with one another in a setting that is more comfortable for them.

St. Louis Blues

What we want: Busch
What we’ll get: Enterprise

I know we’ve been over the whole “can they market beer to kids with these jerseys” thing, but St. Louis is the city of Anheuser-Busch, so it’s only fitting that the Blues get a jersey ad that 1) is Anheuser-Busch related and 2) works with their color palette.

If Major League Baseball’s St. Louis Cardinals play in Busch Stadium and get Budweiser by default with red as a primary color for the ball club, then the Blues naturally get Busch blue and Busch beer. I don’t make the rules.

Plus Midwesterners really like the stuff.

San Jose Sharks

What we want: Adobe
What we’ll get: SAP or Zoom

Look, we weren’t going to get away with making these in Photoshop and not having to give Adobe something— and with headquarters in San Jose it only made sense.

The Sharks have a deep relationship with SAP, though, so it’s more likely than not that the team will just go further with the brand that also is featured on their helmets at home and holds the current naming rights for SAP Center.

Plus with the uptick in the use of Zoom, San Jose could double-dip and match SAP on the home jersey with SAP stickers on their helmets with Zoom covering the road set (jersey ad and helmet ads).

Seattle Kraken

What we want: Boeing
What we’ll get: Alaska Airlines

The Kraken already have a deal with Alaska Airlines as the official airline of the franchise, but what’s bigger than an airline itself?

That’s right, Boeing, the company that makes a lot of planes and other aerospace stuff, was founded in Seattle and still has a major presence in Washington as the largest private employer in the state.

Want to see your newest expansion team take flight? Just add some Boeing engineering to the jerseys.

You might have thought Microsoft would make sense for a Seattle-based team, but the league’s agreement with Apple probably puts a quick end to that.

Tampa Bay Lightning

What we want: Accusoft
What we’ll get: DEX Imaging

Every sport with ads on jerseys has that one company that nobody’s really sure what they do, but they appreciate that they’re spending their money on their favorite team.

That just might be Accusoft’s relationship with the Lightning come time for ads on jerseys in 2022-23.

The private computer software company is headquartered in Tampa and was founded back in 1991, as Pegasus Imaging– one year prior to the Lightning’s debut season as an NHL team in 1992-93.

Toronto Maple Leafs

What we want: Swiss Chalet, Sun Life Financial
What we’ll get: Scotiabank, Sun Life Financial

Scotiabank already has a stronghold on Toronto both financially and in the sense that the Maple Leafs play inside Scotiabank Arena and proudly display Scotiabank’s logo on their helmets, so it seems inevitable that Scotiabank would also make an appearance on the Leafs jersey.

But Toronto is strong enough to maximize the value of a 3-by-3.5-inch ad and capitalize on the Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) brand.

MLSE already has an agreement with Sun Life Financial on their NBA team’s jerseys and the Toronto Raptors were able to go on to win their first championship in 2019.

Perhaps the key to ending the Maple Leafs’ Stanley Cup drought lies within attracting Sun Life Financial to an NHL jersey ad.

Vancouver Canucks

What we want: Hootsuite
What we’ll get: Rogers

Remember when you’d see Hootsuite on just about every tweet with a photo? Am I the only one imagining that?

In any case, Hootsuite was founded and is based in Vancouver and still plays a major role in social media management for brands.

Whereas Rogers is accessible to most every day Canadians, Hootsuite would be more of a “corporate” target audience and you need sponsors at all levels to attract a wide base of potential clients, fans, etc.

That said, the Canucks have had a long relationship with Rogers in that they play in Rogers Arena, so it’s probably going to be Rogers.

Vegas Golden Knights

What we want: Zappos.com
What we’ll get: MGM Resorts International or Allegiant Air

Want to have fun with a local Nevada brand? Zappos is the way to go!

Want to be realistic and attract out of town fans to a destination like Las Vegas? MGM Resorts International is your sponsor and with Allegiant Air as an ultra-low cost airline that’ll gladly bring you to Vegas for a Golden Knights game…

Yeah, it’s inevitable that between MGM and Vegas’ current road helmet sponsor (Allegiant) that there’d quickly be no room for a company like Zappos.

Credit One Bank is on the home helmets for the Golden Knights, so don’t be surprised if they’re a wild card for a jersey ad too.

Washington Capitals

What we want: Marriott International
What we’ll get: Capital One, Custom Ink

Sportswriters rejoice! Your Marriott points may soon reward you with a Capitals jersey or something like that.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Marriott International would make sense from a local and international brand recognition stance.

But you know what we’re probably going to get instead? Sheer confusion as Capital One places an ad on front of a jersey that already says “Washington Capitals”. The Capital One Washington Capitals– live at Capital One Arena!

Either that or Caps owner, Ted Leonsis, might like to make a connection between making custom jerseys for local adult league co-ed softball teams or something and, well, Custom Ink’s logo appearing on Capitals jerseys.

Winnipeg Jets

What we want: A&W or SkipTheDishes
What we’ll get: Canada Life or Bell

A&W was founded in Winnipeg, while SkipTheDishes is headquartered in Winnipeg.

Since it’s 2021, and not 1956, we’re more than likely to see SkipTheDishes on a Jets jersey, but if their helmet ads from 2020-21 are any indication for 2022-23 and beyond, then Bell is probably going to land a spot near Winnipeg’s crest.

Canada Life is taking over as the new naming rights holder for Canada Life Centre where the Jets play, so there’s always a chance they’ll end up with their logo on the front of the jersey too.

Categories
NHL Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Battle of the behemoths in the West set after Vegas downs Wild, 6-2, in Game 7

For the first time in Las Vegas, T-Mobile Arena played host to a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the 2021 First Round matchup between the Vegas Golden Knights and Minnesota Wild did not disappoint.

Both teams swapped chances early and often before the Golden Knights pulled ahead in the second period and did not look back in their, 6-2, victory over the Wild to clinch the series 4-3 and advance to a Second Round matchup with the 2020-21 Presidents’ Trophy winning Colorado Avalanche.

Trade deadline acquisition, Mattias Janmark, notched a hat trick in the series clinching game, while Marc-Andre Fleury (4-3, 1.71 goals-against average, .931 save percentage in seven games played) made 18 saves on 20 shots against in the win for the Golden Knights.

Cam Talbot (3-4, 2.45 goals-against average, .923 save percentage in seven games played) stopped 28 out of 33 shots faced in the loss for the Wild.

Vegas was without Brayden McNabb (COVID protocol) on Friday, while Max Pacioretty made his series debut after missing some time due to injury.

The Golden Knights improved to 2-1 all time in Game 7s, while the Wild fell to 3-1 overall in Game 7s. Minnesota has never hosted a Game 7 on home ice.

Vegas head coach, Peter DeBoer, improved to 6-0 in Game 7s in his National Hockey League career behind the bench.

Friday night also marked the first Game 7 of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montréal Canadiens heading to a Game 6 in the only remaining First Round series, leaving the door open for another Game 7 on Monday if the Canadiens can beat Toronto in Montréal on Saturday.

Midway through the opening frame Janmark (1) got a breakaway and drove to the net with two-hands corralling a forehand wrap around Talbot reminiscent of “the Forsberg” if Peter Forsberg had used both hands on the stick and stuck with his dominant shot instead of his backhand.

Nicolas Roy (1) and Nick Holden (4) tallied the assists on Janmark’s first goal of the night as the Golden Knights grabbed a, 1-0, lead at 5:09 of the first period.

Moments later, Roy checked Jonas Brodin along the wall and sidelined the Wild defender for the rest of the night in the process with an undisclosed injury.

Midway through the opening frame, William Karlsson was sent to the box for boarding against Jared Spurgeon at 10:32.

Minnesota did not convert on the ensuing power play– their first skater advantage of the night on Friday.

Moments later, Zach Parise (2) sent a no-look backhand shot between his legs and through Fleury’s five-hole to tie the game, 1-1, at 16:49 of the first period.

Joel Eriksson Ek (1) and Ryan Suter (1) had the assists on Parise’s goal.

Entering the first intermission, the score was tied, 1-1, despite Minnesota leading in shots on goal, 10-8.

The Wild also held the advantage in blocked shots (9-6), giveaways (2-1) and faceoff win percentage (56-44), while the Golden Knights led in takeaways (5-2) and hits (24-21).

Minnesota was 0/1 on the power play, while Vegas had yet to see time on the skater advantage heading into the middle frame.

Nicolas Hague (1) sent a shot from the point through traffic– beating Talbot clean on the short side over the blocker– off of an attacking zone faceoff to put Vegas ahed, 2-1, at 2:05 of the second period.

Karlsson (3) had the only assist on Hague’s first career Stanley Cup Playoff goal.

A couple minutes later, Ryan Reaves cut a rut to the sin bin for interference after he sent Suter face first into his own crossbar at 4:22 of the second period.

It didn’t take the Wild long to capitalize on the resulting power play as Kirill Kaprizov (2) sent a one-timer past Fleury while crashing the net as Mats Zuccarello fed the Minnesota rookie with a pass while skating through “Gretzky’s office” (no, not TNT) behind the net in the trapezoid.

Zuccarello (3) and Spurgeon (3) recorded the assists on Kaprizov’s power-play goal as Minnesota tied things up, 2-2, at 4:35 of the second period.

About a few minutes later, Pacioretty (1) put the Golden Knights in front for good– scoring the eventual game-winner on a one-timer from the slot after Shea Theodore sent the puck around the boards on a dump-in before Chandler Stephenson worked it to No. 67 in a Vegas uniform.

Stephenson (4) and Theodore (1) had the assists on Pacioretty’s goal as the Golden Knights took a, 3-2, lead at 7:44.

Midway through the middle frame, Ian Cole was penalized for interference, presenting Vegas with their first and only skater advantage of the night at 10:32.

Though the Golden Knights didn’t score on the power play, they did happen to catch the Wild in the vulnerable minute after special teams action as Zach Whitecloud (1) sent a catch and release shot over Talbot’s blocker on the far side from the faceoff dot to the left of the Minnesota netminder at 13:38.

Theodore (2) and Stephenson (5) notched the assists on Whitecloud’s goal as the Golden Knights extended their lead to, 4-2.

Moments later, Hague and Nick Bjugstad got tangled up and exchanged pleasantries, resulting in coincidental minor infractions for roughing at 17:09 of the second period and two minutes of ensuing 4-on-4 action to close off the first 40 minutes of action.

Through two periods of play, Vegas led, 4-2, on the scoreboard and, 25-16, in shots on goal, including a, 17-6, advantage in second period shots alone.

The Golden Knights led in takeaways (10-6), giveaways (5-3), hits (38-34) and faceoff win% (63-37), while the Wild led in blocked shots (17-12) entering the second intermission.

As there were no penalties that resulting in any skater advantages in the final frame, Minnesota finished the night 1/2 on the power play, while Vegas went 0/1.

Eriksson Ek, Jordan Greenway, Reilly Smith and Jonathan Marchessault got involved in a bit of a scrum and each received matching roughing minors at 6:00 of the third period.

The four penalties were the final calls of the night and resulted in no skater advantages for either club.

Midway through the third, Janmark (2) redirected his second goal of the game past Talbot as Roy’s forecheck on Suter freed the puck for Vegas, leading to the goal.

Roy (2) had the only assist on the marker as the Golden Knights took a, 5-2, lead at 12:36.

With less than five minutes remaining in regulation, Wild head coach, Dean Evason, pulled Talbot for an extra attacker.

It did not go as planned for Minnesota.

Janmark (3) casually swiped at the puck with a one-handed backhand stroke while diving for possession and buried it into the empty net to give Vegas a, 6-2, lead at 16:53 of the third period– sealing the deal on a Game 7 win, as well as the series victory.

Alex Tuch (2) and Alex Pietrangelo (3) had the assists on Janmark’s hat trick goal– the first career postseason hat trick for Janmark, as well as the first hat trick in a Stanley Cup Playoff game in Golden Knights franchise history.

At the final horn, Vegas had won, 6-2, and eliminated the Wild in seven games, clinching the series 4-3 in the process.

Vegas also became the third franchise to win a playoff series in three of their first four seasons, joining the New York Rangers and St. Louis Blues in the NHL history books.

The Golden Knights finished Friday night’s action leading in shots on goal, 34-20, including a, 9-4, advantage in the third period alone.

Minnesota finished the night leading in blocked shots (20-18) and hits (53-49), while Vegas led in giveaways (10-5) and faceoff win% (66-34).

The Golden Knights are now 2-1 in all time Game 7s after defeating the Wild on Friday and advanced to the Second Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs as a result.

Vegas will face the Colorado Avalanche in the next round with Game 1 scheduled for Sunday night at Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado.

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NHL Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Wild hold off elimination in Game 5 win on the road

The Minnesota Wild only had 14 shots on goal Monday night, but they sure made the most out of them, beating the Vegas Golden Knights, 4-2, at T-Mobile Arena in Game 5 and forcing a Game 6 back in Minnesota Wednesday night.

Vegas leads the series 3-2 and can close things out on the road or the Wild can force a Game 7 later in the week in what would be a first for the Golden Knights– hosting a Game 7 in Vegas.

Minnesota goaltender, Cam Talbot (2-3, 2.42 goals-against average, .928 save percentage in five games played), made 38 saves on 40 shots faced for the win.

Marc-Andre Fleury (3-2, 1.40 goals-against average, .946 save percentage in five games) had 10 saves on 13 shots against in the loss for Vegas.

Once again, the Golden Knights were without Max Pacioretty in the lineup, while Minnesota made one change– replacing Carson Soucy with Calen Addison, who made his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut in the process.

Midway through the opening frame, Nick Holden sent the puck up through the neutral zone where Alex Tuch botched completing a pass, but instead tipped the rubber biscuit towards Mark Stone for Stone to retrieve and take into the attacking zone himself.

Stone (4) slipped through the defense and sent a shot under Talbot’s glove to give the Golden Knights the first goal of the game and an early, 1-0, lead at 8:14 of the first period.

Tuch (1) and Holden (3) had the assists on the effort.

Less than a minute later, however, the Wild responded.

Kirill Kaprizov forced a turnover in his own end, sent the puck to Mats Zuccarello, who then carried the rubber biscuit through the neutral zone, cut left and passed the puck back to Kaprizov in the slot.

From there, Kaprizov (1) wired a shot past Fleury’s glove side to tie the game, 1-1, and score his first career Stanley Cup Playoff goal in the process.

Zuccarello (1) had the only assist on Kaprizov’s goal at 9:06 of the first period.

Almost three minutes later, Zach Parise (1) banked a wild carom from the endboards off of Fleury and into the twine to put Minnesota on top, 2-1.

Jonas Brodin (3) and Matt Dumba (2) tallied the assists on Parise’s goal as the Wild took the lead at 11:57 and later completed a span of three unanswered goals in the first period after giving up the game’s first goal.

Jordan Greenway (1) carried the puck into the attacking zone, through Vegas’ defense and followed up on his own rebound to make it, 3-1, Minnesota at 16:34.

Addison (1) had the only assist on Greenway’s goal in the process.

After one period in Vegas, the Wild led, 3-1, on the scoreboard despite both teams having mustered seven shots apiece.

The Golden Knights led in blocked shots (8-6), hits (22-20) and faceoff win percentage (57-43), while Minnesota led in takeaways (5-4) and both teams had three giveaways each.

Neither club had seen any action on the power play heading into the first intermission.

Dumba sent the puck over the glass and out of play for an automatic delay of game infraction at 7:52 of the second period and presented the Golden Knights with the first power play of the night.

Late in the ensuing skater advantage, Vegas defender Alex Pietrangelo setup Alec Martinez (1) for a goal from the faceoff dot over Talbot’s glove side.

Pietrangelo (2) and Chandler Stephenson (4) had the assists on Martinez’s power-play goal as the Golden Knights pulled to within one, 3-2, at 9:43.

Late in the period, Brodin hooked Reilly Smith and cut a rut to the sin bin at 16:33 as a result, but Vegas failed to convert on the resulting power play.

Through 40 minutes of action, the Wild led, 3-2, on the scoreboard, but the Golden Knights dominated in shots on goal, 29-8, including an astounding, 22-1, advantage in the second period alone.

Minnesota led in blocked shots (16-9) and takeaways (8-7), while Vegas held the advantage in giveaways (6-4), hits (34-31) and faceoff win percentage (51-49) entering the second intermission.

The Wild had yet to see a power play through two periods and the Golden Knights were 1/2 on the skater advantage heading into the final frame.

There were no penalties called in third period as the Golden Knights continued to dominate possession and generate shot after shot.

As the game clock counted down, Vegas head coach, Peter DeBoer, pulled Fleury for an extra attacker with about 1:46 remaining in the action.

Shortly thereafter, Nico Sturm (1) used the power of mathematics to angle the puck off the boards, deep into the attacking zone and into the empty net to provide an unassisted insurance marker, 4-2, at 19:21 of the third period.

At the final horn, Minnesota had won, 4-2, on the scoreboard, despite trailing, 40-14, in shots on goal, including an, 11-6, advantage for Vegas in the third period alone.

The Wild exited the building leading in blocked shots (23-13) and faceoff win% (52-48), while the Golden Knights led in giveways (11-6) and hits (48-44).

Only the Golden Knights had ever seen any action on the power play on Monday– going 1/2 in the process– while the Wild hadn’t seen any action on the skater advantage in Game 5.

Vegas leads the series 3-2 heading into Game 6 Wednesday night at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The Golden Knights can eliminate the Wild on the road with a win and viewers looking for national coverage in the United States can tune to NBCSN, while fans in Canada can catch the game on SN or TVAS.

Puck drop is expected to be a little after 9 p.m. ET.

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NHL Playoff Recaps

Vegas Golden Knights Edge Closer To Advancing After Game 4 Shutout

Minnesota is on the verge of elimination after they fall 4-0 to the Vegas Golden Knights. They outshot Vegas 35-18 but were unable to get one by Marc-Andrea Fluery. Fleury now has 142 postseason wins and 16 postseason shutouts.

Vegas looks to close out the series Monday night but what can Minnesota do to avoid that? Cam Talbot has stood on his head this entire series while his offense has fallen sour thanks to Vegas’ brick wall defense and goaltending.

Calder Trophy candidate, Kirill Kaprizov had 27 goals on the season but has yet to notch one through 4 games. His offensive abilities could absolutely help Minnesota close the gap but it’s down to the wire now. Vegas’ offense was lights out last night. Nicholas Roy earned two goals. Along with him, Mark Stone and Alex Tuch added to the scoreboard. 

Both teams have the ability to play shutout hockey. They showed off the first two games. The Wild are obvious underdogs here and have the cards stacked against them. However, if they can squeeze another win out this series, they could build on that momentum and give Vegas a bit of a run for their money. 

In the last two games, Vegas has scored 9 goals. The Golden Knights look to close things out back in Vegas on Monday at 10:30 ET.

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NHL Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Vegas’ five unanswered goals lead comeback victory in Game 3

The Vegas Golden Knights gave up two goals in the first period, then scored five unanswered goals over the remaining 40 minutes to complete a, 5-2, comeback victory on the road at Xcel Energy Center in Game 3 of their 2021 First Round series with the Minnesota Wild on Thursday.

Marc-Andre Fleury (2-1, 1.32 goals against average, .951 save percentage in three games played) made 14 saves on 16 shots faced in the win for Vegas.

Minnesota netminder, Cam Talbot (1-2, 2.32 goals-against average, .936 save percentage in three games played), turned aside 35 out of 39 shots against in the loss.

The Golden Knights were once again without Max Pacioretty as they took a 2-1 series lead in their first road game of the 2021 postseason as Fleury posted his 12th consecutive win with two or fewer goals allowed in the playoffs en route to his 83rd career Stanley Cup Playoff win on Thursday.

Kirill Kaprizov fed Ryan Hartman (1) for a one-timed redirection in the slot to give the Wild a, 1-0, lead at 2:16 of the first period.

Karpizov (1) and Jonas Brodin (2) had the assists on Hartman’s goal as Minnesota got off to a quick start.

Less than a minute later, however, Wild defender, Matt Dumba, was sent to the penalty box for holding, presenting the game’s first power play to Vegas at 2:43 of the first period.

The Golden Knights couldn’t get anything going on the ensuing skater advantage, however.

Almost midway into the opening frame, Joel Eriksson Ek (2) made it a, 2-0, game for Minnesota as Marcus Foligno (2) and Dumba (1) picked up the assists on Eriksson Ek’s goal at 8:30 of the first period.

Less than a minute later, Jonathan Marchessault interfered with Kevin Fiala and handed the Wild their first power play of the night at 9:14, but Minnesota couldn’t capitalize on the 5-on-4 advantage.

Moments later, Hartman slashed Golden Knights defender, Shea Theodore, and cut a rut to the sin bin at 13:31, but Vegas was unsuccessful on the power play.

Heading into the first intermission, the Wild led, 2-0, on the scoreboard and, 7-4, in shots on goal.

Minnesota also held the advantage in blocked shots (6-5), takeaways (3-2) and hits (13-12), while both teams had two giveaways each and were, 50-50, in faceoff win percentage after 20 minutes of action.

Vegas was 0/2 on the power play while the Wild were 0/1 on the skater advantage entering the middle frame.

Mark Stone (1) caught a pass in the slot from Chandler Stephenson and released a shot in catch-and-release fashion as the Golden Knights cut Minnesota’s lead in half, 2-1, at 8:39 of the second period.

Stephenson (2) and Brayden McNabb (1) notched the assists on Stone’s goal.

About half a minute later, Ian Cole tripped McNabb and presented Vegas with another power play that ultimately went by the wayside for the Golden Knights at 9:09.

Nick Holden sent an intentional shot wide of the net as the puck caromed off the endboards to Patrick Brown in the slot whereby Brown (1) hacked away until he sent the rubber biscuit floating behind Talbot to tie the game, 2-2, at 15:19 of the middle period.

Holden (1) and William Carrier (1) tallied the assists on Brown’s goal.

About two minutes later, Vegas took the lead for the first time of the night and never looked back as Reilly Smith (1) got a deflection, then his own rebound to make it, 3-2, Golden Knights at 17:33.

Holden (2) and William Karlsson (2) had the primary and secondary assists, respectively.

Karpizov then finished the second period with a tripping infraction as Alex Tuch went for a fall at 19:49. Vegas’ ensuing power play would spillover into the final frame.

After 40 minutes, however, the Golden Knights led, 3-2, on the scoreboard and, 26-12, in shots on goal, including an astounding, 22-5, advantage in the second period alone.

Minnesota still dominated in blocked shots (15-12), takeaways (8-4), hits (23-20) and faceoff win% (53-48) despite the Vegas onslaught.

Both teams had three giveaways each, while the Golden Knights were 0/4 and the Wild were 0/1 on the power play heading into the final frame.

After the Wild successfully killed off Kaprizov’s minor, they got a chance on the power play when Tuch interfered with Cole at 2:42 of the third period.

Minnesota, however, couldn’t get anything going as the Golden Knights continued to dominate the game flow.

Vegas couldn’t convert on a power play at 11:18 of the third period when the Wild were handed a bench minor for too many skaters on the ice, but it was of no matter to the Golden Knights as they simply scored later in the period.

First, when Karlsson (1) sent a wrist shot under the bar on the short side with assists from Smith (2) and Fleury (1) at 17:36 and again when Stone (2) pocketed his second goal of the game on an unassisted effort into the empty net at 19:01 of the third period.

The pair of goals had made it, 5-2– giving Vegas five unanswered goals as the final horn sounded and the Golden Knights had won, securing a 2-1 series lead heading into Game 4 on Saturday in Minnesota.

The Wild wrapped up Thursday night’s loss leading in hits (31-29), while the Golden Knights dominated in shots on goal, 40-16, including a, 14-4, advantage in the third period alone.

Vegas also held the lead in blocked shots (20-18) and faceoff win% (53-47), while both teams managed three giveaways aside in Game 3.

The Golden Knights finished 0/5 and the Wild went 0/2 on the power play on Thursday.

Game 4 is scheduled for Saturday night at 8 p.m. ET from Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. Viewers in the United States can watch on NBC, while those in Canada can choose from SN360 or TVAS2.

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NHL Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Tuch ties series against former team in, 3-1, Vegas victory

Alex Tuch had a pair of goals– including the game-winner– as the Vegas Golden Knights tied their 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round matchup with the Minnesota Wild in a, 3-1, win at T-Mobile Arena in Game 2.

The series is now tied 1-1 as Marc-Andre Fleury (1-1, 0.98 goals-against average, .969 save percentage in two games played) made 34 saves on 35 shots faced in the win for Vegas on Tuesday.

Wild goaltender, Cam Talbot (1-1, 1.48 goals-against average, .957 save percentage in two games played) turned aside 25 out of 28 shots against in the loss.

Once more, the Golden Knights were without the services of Max Pacioretty on Tuesday.

No goals were scored in the opening frame, but there was one thing on the event sheet thanks to Alec Martinez’s hooking penalty at 4:13 of the first period.

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

After 20 minutes of action, the score still read, 0-0, while the Wild led in shots on goal, 17-10.

The Golden Knights held the advantage in takeaways (4-2), giveaways (3-2), hits (20-14) and faceoff win percentage (53-47), while Minnesota led in blocked shots (6-5).

Only the Wild had seen any time on the skater advantage, though they were 0/1 on the power play heading into the first intermission.

Midway through the middle frame, Matt Dumba (1) opened the game’s scoring with a shot from the point that beat Fleury over the blocker while Marcus Foligno acted as a screen in front of the crease.

Jonas Brodin (1) and Jordan Greenway (2) had the primary and secondary assists, respectively, on Dumba’s goal as the Wild jumped out to a, 1-0, lead at 12:07 of the second period.

It wasn’t long before Vegas evened things up, however.

In fact, just 18 seconds after Dumba notched his fourth career Stanley Cup Playoffs goal, the Golden Knights shifted momentum their way as Reilly Smith fed Jonathan Marchessault while entering the zone.

Marchessault (1) snapped a shot over Talbot’s glove, off the post and into the back of the twine to tie the game, 1-1, at 12:25.

Smith (1) and William Karlsson (1) had the assists on Marchessault’s goal.

Less than a few minutes later, Ian Cole tripped William Carrier and presented the Golden Knights with their first power play of the night at 15:04 of the second period. Vegas did not convert on the resulting skater advantage, however.

Minnesota was caught in the vulnerable minute after special teams play, though, as Alex Pietrangelo kickstarted a rush, whereby Mattias Janmark found Tuch (1) for his first goal of the night– giving the Golden Knights their first lead thus far in the series.

Janmark (1) and Pietrangelo (1) had the assists as Vegas took the lead, 2-1, on Tuch’s first goal of the game at 17:19.

Heading into the second intermission, the Golden Knights led, 2-1, on the scoreboard, despite trailing, 27-22, in shots on goal (Vegas had the advantage in second period shots on goal alone, though, 12-10).

The Wild led in blocked shots (21-10), while Vegas dominated in takeaways (8-4), giveaways (8-5), hits (44-32) and faceoff win% (52-48).

Both teams were 0/1 on the power play heading into the final frame Tuesday night.

Dumba and Pietrangelo got tangled up almost midway through the third period and received roughing infractions at 7:50 of the final frame, yielding 4-on-4 action for a pair of minutes.

With 1:53 left in the action, Wild head coach, Dean Evason, pulled Talbot for an extra attacker only to lose the 6-on-5 advantage shortly thereafter when Kirill Kaprizov got a stick underneath Marchessault and tripped up the Golden Knights forward at 18:30 of the third period.

It didn’t take Vegas long for Chandler Stephenson to to pinch along the boards, work the puck below the goal line, then send a pass to Tuch (2) in the low slot for a one-timer off of Talbot’s pad and through the short side.

Stephenson (1) and Mark Stone (1) tallied the assists on Tuch’s power-play goal and the Golden Knights led, 3-1, at 19:07.

Talbot vacated the crease once again with 52.3 seconds left but it was to no avail as the seconds ticked down until the final horn sounded and Vegas had officially sealed the deal on a, 3-1, win in Game 2– tying their best-of-seven series with Minnesota 1-1.

The Wild finished the night leading in shots on goal, 35-28, including an, 8-6, advantage in the third period alone.

Minnesota also held the advantage in blocked shots (26-20), while the Golden Knights dominated in just about every other category, including giveaways (11-7), hits (63-46) and faceoff win% (60-40).

Vegas finished 1/2 on the power play, while the Wild went 0/1 on the skater advantage on Tuesday.

The series is tied 1-1 heading into Minnesota for Game 3 at Xcel Energy Center on Thursday. Puck drop is scheduled for a little after 9:30 p.m. ET and fans in the United States can tune to NBCSN for national coverage, while those in Canada can catch the action on SN360 or TVAS2.

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Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #202- What Are Your Qualifications?/Let’s Get Kraken

Using Qualifiers to enhance this postseason (it’s a breakdown of the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers and Round Robin action). Plus the Seattle Kraken!

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