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Free Agency NHL

Oilers add a bit of depth

While the Oilers are out hunting for a goaltender, they’re also adding some depth in hopes for another winning season.

After being bought out by the Nashville Predators, Kyle Turris looks to revitalize his career in Edmonton. He is signed through the 2021-22 season, earning money from his buy out and also an addition $1.65m from Edmonton.

The 31-year-old native of New Westminster, British Columbia, has 416 points (165 goals, 251 assists) in 726 career NHL games for the Phoenix Coyotes, Ottawa Senators and– most recently– the Nashville Predators.

He was originally drafted by the Coyotes in the first round (3rd overall) of the 2007 NHL Draft.

Former Calgary Flame, Alan Quine signs a one year $750,000 deal. Simple addition for some depth and more development. The Oilers are also adding Seth Griffith to their roster on a two-way two year deal that’s worth $750,000. Their minor league team will see some in net depth as Anton Forsberg signs a one year deal.

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NHL Nick's Net

Bruins score touchdown in Nashville, win, 6-2

Six different players scored goals in the Boston Bruins’, 6-2, victory over the Nashville Predators Tuesday night at Bridgestone Arena.

B’s netminder, Tuukka Rask (16-4-6 record, 2.29 goals against average, .924 save percentage in 26 games played) stopped 33 out of 35 shots faced for a .943 SV% in the win.

Predators goaltender, Pekka Rinne (14-9-3, 3.06 GAA, .894 SV% in 26 games played) made 30 saves on 35 shots against for an .857 SV% in the loss.

Boston remained in command of the Atlantic Division with a 25-8-11 record this season and 61 points. Meanwhile, Nashville fell to 19-16-7 (45 points), but remained in 6th place in the Central Division.

The Bruins improved to 11-6-2 on the road this season and snapped a three-game losing streak.

Kevan Miller (knee) has yet to make his season debut and missed his 44th game this season due to complications stemming from an injury last season.

Meanwhile, the Bruins were also without the services of Connor Clifton (upper body) and Joakim Nordstrom (illness) against the Predators.

Steven Kampfer was assigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Sunday before being recalled on Monday likely for cap reasons and as a result of Clifton’s extended stay in the press box with an injury.

Boston’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made a few minor moves to his lineup entering Tuesday night in Nashville– most notably moving up Anders Bjork to the second line right wing with Jake DeBrusk at left wing and David Krejci at center.

Danton Heinen, Charlie Coyle and Brett Ritchie comprised of the third line, while Sean Kuraly moved over to the left wing of the fourth line with Par Lindholm at center and Chris Wagner on the right side.

On defense, Zdeno Chara remained paired with Charlie McAvoy on the top pairing, while Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo rounded out the top-four defenders as usual.

John Moore was back on the left side of the third pairing with Matt Grzelcyk on his right side.

David Backes and Kampfer were the only healthy scratches for the B’s on Tuesday.

While Boston made line changes, Nashville made a head coaching change prior to their meeting with the Bruins.

After losing to the Ducks, 5-4, in a shootout on Sunday night in Anaheim, the Predators fired Peter Laviolette on Monday and hired John Hynes as just their third head coach in franchise history Tuesday afternoon.

Kevin McCarthy was also let go by the Preds and Rob Scuderi was hired as an assistant coach in place of McCarthy.

Brad Marchand cross checked Viktor Arvidsson 14 seconds into the first period, but Arvidsson also cut a rut to the penalty box for embellishment on the delayed call.

The two teams played 4-on-4 for two minutes and were almost unscathed except for when David Pastrnak (32) glided through the neutral zone, skated around Calle Jarnkrok and blasted a shot past Rinne just a couple of feet after entering the offensive zone to give Boston the, 1-0, lead at 1:36 of the first period.

McAvoy (14) and Grzelcyk (10) had the assists on Pastrnak’s goal.

Moments later, Kuraly hit Matt Duchene from behind along the glass and received a two-minute minor for boarding at 6:10.

Nashville did not convert on their first power play opportunity of the night.

Entering the first intermission, the Bruins led the Predators, 1-0, on the scoreboard and, 13-8, in shots on goal.

Boston also held the advantage in blocked shots (3-1) and faceoff win percentage (53-47), while the Preds led in giveaways (3-2) and hits (8-2).

Both teams had four takeaways aside and the Predators were 0/1 on the skater advantage heading into the middle frame. Boston had yet to see any action on the power play.

Nashville thought they had tied the game up 61 seconds into the second period when Nick Bonino batted the puck out of the air and over the goal line while the net was knocked off its moorings, but after review it was determined that the actions of a Predators player had caused the net to come off– therefore negating the goal.

Rocco Grimaldi bumped McAvoy and sent the Bruins defender barreling into the post– knocking the net off its pegs as Bonino worked his magic.

The score remained, 1-0, for Boston at 1:01 of the second period.

About a minute later, the B’s had too many skaters on the ice and were assessed a bench minor penalty that was served by Ritchie.

Once more the Preds couldn’t convert on the ensuing legal skater advantage.

Almost midway through the second period, Heinen (7) sniped a shot over Rinne’s blocker side and into the corner pocket of the twine to score his first goal in eight games and give the Bruins a two-goal lead.

Grzelcyk (11) and Coyle (14) tallied the assists on Heinen’s goal at 8:21 of the second period and Boston led, 2-0.

But less than a minute later the Bruins found themselves shorthanded yet again as Carlo tripped Arvidsson at 9:01– resulting in a 5-on-4 advantage for Nashville.

Things escalated to a 5-on-3 power play for the Predators after Grzelcyk caught Craig Smith with a high stick at 10:28.

A short, 33-second, two-skater advantage would be followed by an abbreviated standard power play, but the Preds didn’t need that long to connect on the 5-on-3 advantage.

A bang-band play led to Filip Forsberg (15) rocketing the puck behind Rask with assists from Duchene (20) and Roman Josi (31).

With the secondary assist on Forsberg’s power play goal, Josi extended his scoring streak to 11-games and Nashville cut Boston’ lead in half, 2-1, at 10:54 of the second period.

The B’s escaped the remainder of the penalty kill unharmed.

Late in the middle frame, Nashville lost track of basic numbers and had too many skaters on the ice at 16:29.

Kyle Turris took the long skate across the ice to serve the bench minor infraction and the Bruins capitalized on their first power play of the night.

Patrice Bergeron (18) followed up on a second-effort and sent a shot over Rinne’s blocker to once again give the Bruins a two-goal lead.

DeBrusk (10) and Marchand (41) had the assists on Bergeron’s power play goal and Boston led, 3-1, at 17:42.

Through 40 minutes of play in Nashville, the Bruins (and their moms– as it was Boston’s moms trip) led the Preds, 3-1, on the scoreboard and, 26-24, in shots on goal despite trailing in the second period shots on net alone– 16-13.

Boston also maintained the advantage in blocked shots (9-2), takeaways (5-4) and faceoff win% (51-49).

Nashville led in giveaways (5-3) and hits (13-6).

The Predators were 1/4 on the skater advantage, while the B’s were a perfect 1/1 on the power play heading into the final frame of regulation.

Wagner (4) kicked off the third period with a quick goal as he unintentionally redirected a shot after he was pushed by a Predators defender into Rinne at 2:51.

Lindholm (1) and Krug (24) notched the assists on Wagner’s goal and the Bruins extended their lead, 4-1.

Almost a minute later, Grimaldi tripped Chara and was assessed a minor infraction at 3:52 of the third period.

Boston’s ensuing power play was not successful.

Midway through the third period, Yakov Trenin tried to engage Chara in a fight and got the Bruins captain to exchange fisticuffs at 11:40.

Chara received an extra minor for roughing while both received majors for fighting and thus the Predators were headed on the power play after just the 8th fight this season for Boston– and 3rd in a row for their captain.

Four seconds later, Moore hooked Arvidsson and joined Ritchie (serving Chara’s roughing minor) and Chara in the box as the B’s faced Nashville’s 5-on-3 advantage at 11:44.

The Predators weren’t able to get anything done with the two-skater advantage and took a penalty of their own at 15:38 when Josi hooked Lindholm.

Shortly after Boston’s resulting power play expired, Coyle tripped Mikael Granlund at 17:46 and presented the Preds with their seventh power play opportunity of the night.

Just as the saying goes “the seventh time’s a charm”, the Predators managed to squib a puck through Rask and just over the line while chaos ensued in the crease at 18:06.

Granlund (7) notched the power play goal for Nashville and the Preds cut the lead back to, 4-2. Mattias Ekholm (19) and Forsberg (15) had the assists on Granlund’s goal.

With 1:07 remaining in the game, Hynes pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker, but things didn’t go quite as planned when Krejci (9) received the puck on a pass from Rask and fired the rubber biscuit into the empty goal frame about 170-feet away from where he was standing at 19:05.

Rask (1) picked up his first assist of the season and the only assist on Krejci’s empty net goal as Boston all but confirmed the win, 5-2.

It only took another 22 seconds for the Bruins to rub salt in the wounds of Smashville– adding one more tic-toc-goal from Coyle (8) at 19:27 as Boston pulled ahead to a four-goal lead with seconds remaining in the action.

Ritchie (4) and Heinen (10) were credited with the assists on Coyle’s goal and the B’s sealed the deal on a, 6-2, win in Nashville.

Boston finished the night leading in shots on goal (36-35), blocked shots (15-6) and faceoff win% (56-44), while Nashville wrapped up the night with the advantage in giveaways (7-3) and hits (15-8).

The Predators wrapped up Tuesday night’s action 2/7 on the power play and the B’s finished the game 1/3 on the skater advantage.

The Bruins improved to 16-4-2 when leading after the first period, 14-0-5 when leading after two periods and 18-6-7 when scoring the game’s first goal this season.

Boston returns home to face the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday before venturing on the road to visit the New York Islanders on Jan. 11th, the Philadelphia Flyers on Jan. 13th and the Columbus Blue Jackets on Jan. 14th.

Categories
NHL Nick's Net

Predators top Bruins, 4-3, in OT

Roman Josi and Patrice Bergeron scored a pair of goals for their respective teams, but Ryan Ellis scored the game-winning goal in overtime as the Nashville Predators topped the Boston Bruins, 4-3, at TD Garden on Saturday night.

Pekka Rinne (12-5-3 record, 2.98 goals against average, .895 save percentage in 20 games played) made 29 saves on 32 shots against for a .906 SV% in Nashville’s win.

Boston goaltender, Jaroslav Halak (8-3-4, 2.37 GAA, .924 SV% in 15 games played) stopped 25 out of 29 shots faced (.862 SV%) in the overtime loss.

The Bruins fell to 21-7-9 (51 points) on the season, but remained in command of 1st place in the Atlantic Division.

Meanwhile, the Predators improved to 17-12-6 (40 points) on the season and moved into 5th place in the Central Division.

Boston fell to 12-1-8 at home this season as a result of the loss.

Once more the Bruins were without the services of Kevan Miller (knee) and Karson Kuhlman (fractured tibia) on Saturday.

John Moore was also out of the lineup for the second game in a row after missing Thursday night’s, 3-2, shootoutloss to the New York Islanders with an illness.

B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, opted to keep Connor Clifton in the lineup in place of Moore, while switching up his entire fourth line– scratching Joakim Nordstrom and David Backes in exchange for Par Lindholm and Brett Ritchie.

Lindholm centered the fourth line while Sean Kuraly slid over to the left wing and Ritchie fit in on the right side.

Nordstrom, Backes and Moore made up Boston’s short list of healthy scratches against Nashville.

Less than a minute into the action on Saturday night, Viktor Arvisson was penalized for holding against Brad Marchand in Arvidsson’s first game back since missing the last 12 games with an injury.

Boston’s first power play of the night at 26 seconds of the first period was unsuccessful.

Almost midway through the opening frame, Anders Bjork slashed Ellis and presented Nashville with their first power play opportunity of the night at 7:13.

The Predators did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage and the Bruins managed to kill off Bjork’s minor.

Late in the period, David Krejci tripped up Matt Duchene and was charged with an infraction at 15:10, but Nashville’s power play was powerless through one period.

After 20 minutes of action on Saturday, the Bruins and Predators entered the first intermission tied, 0-0, with Boston leading in shots on goal, 11-8.

Nashville was 0/2 on the power play and Boston was 0/1 on the skater advantage heading into the second period.

Dan Hamhuis jumpstarted the middle frame with a tripping minor at 4:23 of the second period, but the Bruins couldn’t convert on the ensuing power play.

Boston did catch Nashville in the vulnerable minute after special teams play, however, as Lindholm (2) bumped into a loose puck off a rebound while being checked by a Predators defender and the rubber biscuit tumbled into the twine.

Ritchie (3) and Kuraly (9) had the assists on Lindholm’s first goal in 16 games as the Bruins took the, 1-0, lead at 7:30 of the second period.

Midway through the second period, Matt Grzelcyk slashed Duchene and presented the Predators with another power play at 10:19.

Nashville’s skater advantage was short lived, however, as Craig Smith tripped up Boston blue liner, Brandon Carlo, at 11:27.

The two clubs played 52 seconds of 4-on-4 hockey before the Bruins had an abbreviated 5-on-4 power play.

Shortly after making the kill, the Preds capitalized on the vulnerable minute after special teams action as Josi (12) snaked his way from the point to the slot and let go of a backhand shot that floated past Halak as Arvidsson acted as a fly-by screen in front of the Boston netminder.

Ryan Johansen (15) had the only assist on Josi’s first goal of the game at 12:14 and the Predators tied the game, 1-1.

Moments later, Filip Forsberg was penalized for roughing at 17:56 and the Bruins went back on the power play.

Late in the ensuing skater advantage, Bergeron (12) acted as the bumper and one-timed a shot past Rinne from point blank to give Boston the lead with a power play goal.

Torey Krug (20) had the only assist on Bergeron’s first goal of the night at 19:12 and the B’s led, 2-1.

Heading into the second intermission, Boston was ahead in the scoreboard, 2-1, but tied in shots on goal, 19-19, after Nashville rallied to an, 11-8, advantage in shots on goal in the second period alone.

Boston held the advantage in blocked shots (11-10) and hits (22-14), while Nashville led in takeaways (14-5), giveaways (9-7) and faceoff win percentage (62-38).

The Predators were 0/3 on the skater advantage and the Bruins were 1/4 on the power play heading into the third period.

Midway through the final frame of regulation, the Preds took the game by storm.

Forsberg (13) poked home a loose puck through Halak’s short side while on a delayed call against Boston (that was ultimately negated by Nashville’s goal) and tied the game in the process, 2-2, at 7:35 of the third period.

Johansen (16) and Mattias Ekholm (14) notched the assists on Forsberg’s goal.

Just 35 seconds later, Josi (13) added his second goal of the night on an unassisted effort when Halak skated out of his crease and misplayed the puck in the high slot, effectively turning the rubber biscuit over to the Predators captain– leaving an empty goal frame for Josi to bury the puck in.

Josi’s goal at 8:10 of the third period gave Nashville their first lead of the night, 3-2, but the Bruins wouldn’t go down without a fight just yet.

After using his timeout after the Josi goal mishap, Cassidy pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker with about two minutes left in regulation.

David Pastrnak unloaded a shot towards the goal that Bergeron (13) redirected for his second goal of the game– tying the game, 3-3, in the process.

Pastrnak (23) and Marchand (34) tallied the assists as Boston evened things up at 18:55 of the third period.

At the horn, the Bruins required extra time for the ninth time in their last 13 games as Boston and Nashville were knotted, 3-3, with the B’s leading in shots on goal, 30-26, after regulation.

Boston also held the advantage in blocked shots (14-13), giveaways (12-10) and hits (28-23), while Nashville led in takeaways (15-8) and faceoff win% (53-47).

There were no penalties called in the third period or overtime period, so the Preds finished 0/3 on the skater advantage, while the B’s went 1/4 on the power play Saturday night.

In overtime, Peter Laviolette, started Duchene, Mikael Granlund and Josi for the Predators while Cassidy opted for Charlie Coyle, Bjork and Charlie McAvoy.

With less than a minute separating the two teams from going to a shootout, Nashville pounced on a wacky bounce in the attacking zone while the Bruins scrambled out of position.

Johansen flipped a quick pass to Ellis (6) as the Predators defender snuck in unnoticed and wired a one-timer into the twine– winning the game in the process.

Johansen (17) and Kyle Turris (11) notched the assists as the Preds picked up the, 4-3, overtime victory at 4:05 of the overtime period.

Boston finished the night leading in shots on goal (32-29), blocked shots (15-14), giveaways (13-10) and hits (29-24), while Nashville left the Hub with the advantage in faceoff win% (52-48) and the final result.

The Predators improved to 2-4 in overtime this season, while the Bruins fell to 2-4.

Boston has lost eight of their last nine games and are 1-4-4 in that span. But the B’s still have a nine-point lead over 2nd place in the Atlantic Division.

The Bruins fell to 5-1-5 when tied after one period, 14-5-5 when scoring the game’s first goal and 11-0-3 when leading after two periods this season.

They have now lost eight out of their last nine games and are 1-4-4 in that span.

Boston wraps up their four-game homestand (0-0-3) on Monday night (Dec. 23rd) as they host the Washington Capitals before the league-wide holiday break kicks in from Dec. 24th through the 26th.

The Bruins travel to Buffalo to take on the Sabres in a home-and-home on Dec. 27th before hosting Jack Eichel and his teammates on Dec. 29th. The B’s finish off the month of December in New Jersey on Dec. 31st.

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Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #178- Another Day, Another Dollar

Zdeno Chara surpassed 1,500 career games, Claude Julien reached 1,200 games behind the bench, the Toronto Maple Leafs are facing injuries and backup goaltender struggles, Taylor Hall reportedly won’t sign an extension with the New Jersey Devils, the 2019 NHL Global Series happened and the 2020 NHL Global Series was announced.

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

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Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #126- Participation Trophies After One Game (Part III)

The 2018-19 regular season has started, so let’s overreact and hand out the regular season awards already! It’s our 3rd Annual Participation Trophies After One Game presented by Nick and Connor.

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

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Previews

2018 Offseason Preview: Colorado Avalanche

Our offseason previews for all 31 National Hockey League teams continues with the Colorado Avalanche and their outlook for the summer.

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The 2017-18 Colorado Avalanche came off of the worst season in the salary cap era with a 43-30-9 record and 95-point performance on the year, finishing 4th in the Central Division and clinching the final wild card spot in the 2018 postseason with a win in their final game of the regular season against the St. Louis Blues.

St. Louis entered that game in April, in fact, ahead of the Avs in the standings by a point with the winner advancing to face the Nashville Predators in the First Round.

Not only did Colorado win, but they completed an unthinkable turnaround.

This, after trading the 3rd overall pick in the 2009 Draft, Matt Duchene, to the Ottawa Senators as part of a three team trade that saw the Avalanche flip Kyle Turris to the Nashville Predators, collecting a large package combined that included rookie defender Samuel Girard.

While one trade alone doesn’t put General Manager Joe Sakic in the hunt for the NHL’s GM of the Year award, the incredible turnaround in on-ice performance led by head coach, Jared Bednar, put Bednar in consideration for the 2017-18 Jack Adams Award.

2018 NHL Entry Draft

Sakic currently holds onto the 16th overall pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft and two second round picks (Colorado’s own and one from the Predators as part of the Duchene trade).

While the conditional 2018 1st round pick from the Ottawa Senators in the Duchene deal was top-10 protected, the Sens will surrender a 2019 first round pick to the Avalanche instead.

Regardless, Sakic and his scouting crew will have plenty of attractive “best available” talent to choose from in the middle of the first round (namely, Barrett Hayton, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Joseph Veleno, Jack McBain, Jared McIsaac and others).

Pending free agents

Colorado has about $22.900 million to spend this summer with Blake Comeau, Matt Nieto and Nail Yakupov as the only current-NHL roster pending free agent forwards.

Comeau, 32, is a pending-UFA that bounced back from 2016-17’s down year (remember when Carl Soderberg had 14 points that season? Carl. Soderberg.), with an average of 30 points in his three seasons in the Mile High city.

He’s been around the league a bit in his career, but he resurfaced as a durable forward on an otherwise young roster, amassing 13-21–34 totals in 79 games played with the Avalanche this season.

Nieto, 25, is a pending-RFA that was claimed off waivers last season by Colorado and had his best season since 2014-15 with the San Jose Sharks, scoring 15 goals and 11 assists (26 points) in 74 games for the Avs in 2017-18.

The biggest difference maker for the Avalanche this offseason is not messing things up. Keeping Nieto isn’t harmful to the team’s future as their younger players come into their own and a small term deal won’t hurt as the younger players gain experience.

In short, there’s nothing for Sakic to lose in building a roster that makes the playoffs for a second consecutive year. Not many expected them to be at the point of playoff contention this season, so any step forward is better than a step backward as Colorado continues to retool for a Cup run (someday).

If there’s one pending-RFA Sakic should have an easy time letting go of, it’s Nail Yakupov.

The 24-year-old 1st overall pick in the 2012 NHL Enty Draft signed a one-year deal with Colorado in attempt to resurrect his career. It did not go as planned, despite scoring often and scoring early in the regular season.

Yakupov produced nine goals and seven assists (16 points) in 58 games with the Avalanche in the regular season and was scratched for their entire 2018 postseason run.

That alone is an indication.

While he almost doubled his offensive production this season compared to his final year with the St. Louis Blues (3-6–9 totals in 40 games in 2016-17), it doesn’t appear he can be part of an NHL lineup with enough consistency.

At best, Yakupov is the one you least expect to score, but then surprises everyone with the occasional goal. At worst, he’s just taking up a roster spot you could be giving to someone else.

Sakic already tried the low-risk, high-reward with Yakupov. It’s best to move on.

On defense, Patrik Nemeth, 26, and Duncan Siemens, 24, are both pending-RFAs.

Nemeth was claimed off waivers early last October from the Dallas Stars and scored his first career NHL goal with Colorado (and then two more) this season. He first broke into the league with Dallas in the 2013-14 season and had 3-12–15 totals in 68 games with the Avs in 2017-18.

He’s a low cost top-6 blueliner on a roster with about 10 NHL caliber defensemen. Whether Nemeth returns or not comes down to how Sakic envisions the roster– with Nikita Zadorov entering a contract year and Tyson Barrie potentially hitting the open market in July 2020– and how Bednar thinks he’s going to play everyone.

The 11th overall pick of the Avalanche in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Siemens scored his first NHL goal and recorded his first career assist in 16 games played. That’s the most he’s played in a season after appearing in his first career game in 2014-15.

There’s nothing holding him back from leaving the organization in search of a place that’ll give him more of a chance, but if he’s comfortable enough in Colorado, that’s fine too. Realistically speaking, he won’t be back with an NHL job in Denver, though.

In goal, the Avalanche have on goaltender under contract for 2018-19 and it’s 30-year-old Semyon Varlamov.

With a $5.900 million cap hit, Varlamov isn’t all that bad– as trade bait. But who would buy an oft-injured goaltender plateauing past his prime?

Injuries once again plagued the veteran starter down the stretch, but his numbers technically improved. Again, it’s an almost automatic technicality coming off of 2016-17, but Varlamov did produce a 2.68 goals against average and .920 save percentage in 51 games this season (which was close to his 2.56 GAA and .921 SV% in 57 games in 2014-15 with Colorado).

His next game will be his 400th career NHL game and if Sakic tosses around the idea of retaining some salary, the Avalanche could possibly find a new home for the goaltender, while seeking a legitimate number one.

Spencer Martin, 23, is a pending-RFA that last played at the NHL level in 2016-17. He is 0-2-1 in his short three game NHL career with a 4.35 GAA and an .865 SV% in the worst season for the franchise since moving to Denver.

Backup goalie, Jonathan Bernier, 29, is a pending-UFA that in 37 games with the Avs this season, amassed a 2.85 GAA and .913 SV% with a 19-13-3 record. That’s down from his 2.50 GAA, .915 SV% and 21-7-4 record in 39 games with the Anaheim Ducks in 2016-17– ignoring the experience along the blueline Anaheim’s defense has over Colorado’s.

The problem with Bernier is that while he’s a backup goaltender, he’s been subpar with average teams. In 2015-16 with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Bernier was once again relegated to being a backup goalie for the first time since his breakout days behind Jonathan Quick with the Los Angeles Kings.

In 20 fewer games than 2014-15 (his last as a starter, in which he had a 2.87 GAA and .912 SV%), Bernier posted a 12-21-3 record with a 2.88 GAA and .908 SV% in 38 games with Toronto. Yikes.

Could the Avalanche take a stab at trying to acquire pending-RFA Philipp Grubauer from the Washington Capitals?

Sure, but let’s remember, they tried getting a Washington goaltender (in Varlamov) before to be their number one, so there’s no guarantees.

Other pending free agents throughout the organization include:

Rocco Grimaldi (UFA), Felix Girard (RFA), Jesse Graham (RFA), Joe Cannata (UFA), Mason Geertsen (RFA), Joe Colborne (UFA), Ryan Graves (RFA), Andrew Hammond (UFA), Reid Petryk (RFA), Trent Vogelhuber (UFA)

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Previews

2018 Offseason Preview: Ottawa Senators

Continuing our offseason previews for all 31 National Hockey League teams, today we begin with the Ottawa Senators and continue working our way through the 2018 NHL Entry Draft order (if every team still had their first round pick).

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After reaching the 2017 Eastern Conference Final and succumbing to the eventual 2017 Stanley Cup champion, Pittsburgh Penguins, in double-overtime in Game 7, the 2017-18 Senators were quite a disappointment.

Ottawa was one goal away from reaching the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in franchise history and first time in ten years, but Chris Kunitz‘s game-winning goal ended the Sens magical 2017 postseason run.

A rocky start in October led to a dismal November after acquiring the services of Matt Duchene.

Though the team’s effort was not Duchene’s fault alone, trading away Kyle Turris in the three-team Duchene deal– and later sending Derick Brassard to the Vegas Golden Knights Pittsburgh Penguins (after making a pitstop in Vegas) as part of a three-team deal leading up to the 2018 trade deadline– didn’t do much to help Ottawa’s cause as Guy Boucher’s 1-3-1 was ripped to shreds on a night-to-night basis.

The Sens finished 2017-18 with a 28-43-11 record, notching 67 points and finishing 7th in the Atlantic Division.

Erik Karlsson‘s displeasure with the organization has the trade rumor mill searching for a new home for the defender with one-year remaining on his current contract, while Thomas Chabot and Filip Gustavsson show promise for a hopeful future on the current roster and in the system, respectively.

2018 NHL Entry Draft

Between Filip Zadina, Brady Tkachuk and Oliver Wahlstrom, there’s bound to be a top-quality prospect that could make quite a world of change for the organization. Zadina or Tkachuk could very well be selected 3rd overall by the Montreal Canadiens leaving the Senators with the next best available player to select.

But anything’s possible, as we’ve come to see time and time again in the draft.

Ottawa could trade their pick, take someone off the board that they’re more comfortable and confident with or be predictable and select the “best available” player.

Despite this year’s draft being deeper than recent drafts, one player alone isn’t going to fix the Senators (on-ice product, at least– we’ll save their front office for another day).

Pending free agents

With almost $15 million in cap space this offseason, Ottawa has a chance to make a dent at attracting one of the better players testing the market this July. However, the Senators have a couple of important names that are worth holding onto in Mark Stone (a pending-RFA) and Chris Wideman (a pending-UFA).

Other pending free agents currently on the NHL roster in Canada’s capital include the likes of Fredrik Claesson and Cody Ceci. Both are pending-RFA blueliners that are arbitration eligible if they are not tendered qualifying offers or already re-signed by July 1st.

In terms of priorities, keeping Stone and Wideman could play vital roles for Ottawa’s second/third line (Stone) and top-4 defensemen (Wideman). Neither are stellar standouts so somewhere around $3.000- 4.000 million AAV deals seem reasonable– at most– considering the 2019 crop of pending free agents Ottawa will have (including Duchene, Karlsson and others).

But Ottawa has bigger needs with six forwards over the age of 30 and nobody to match Karlsson’s playing style on the first defensive pair.

It wouldn’t be unwise for General Manager Pierre Dorion to find some trading partners to take on 37-year-old Alex Burrows, 36-year-old Marian Gaborik and the contract of Clarke MacArthur (if MacArhtur’s playing days are indeed over and the Senators no longer wish to place him on the long term injured reserve from season-to-season).

If Karlsson is to be traded, then the Senators will have to hit a home run on the package in return. But the real home run for the organization might be finding someone to take on Bobby Ryan‘s $7.250 million cap hit through the 2021-22 season in a trade, as Ottawa’s owner, Eugene Melnyk dreams.

The Sens need to get younger, more skilled and faster. They’re almost figuring that out on the blueline, but even then, they’ve got some decisions to make– keep either Claesson or Ceci and find a new defender or two via trade or free agency.

Likewise, Craig Anderson isn’t getting much younger (he’s 37) as the starting goaltender, while Mike Condon, 28, has stalled in development as an average backup.

Other pending free agents throughout the organization include:

Chris Driedger (RFA), Tyler Randell (UFA), Nick Moutrey (RFA), Mike Blunden (UFA), Nicholas Paul (RFA) and Max Reinhart (UFA)

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Playoff Recaps

Preds down Jets, 2-1, in Game 4

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For the first time since February 27th, the Winnipeg Jets have lost a home game. Interestingly enough, that was also a Nashville Predators win.

Nashville evened their Second Round series matchup with the Jets in a 2-1 victory on Thursday night at Bell MTS Place.

Predators netminder, Pekka Rinne, made 32 saves on 33 shots against for a .970 save percentage in the win, while Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck had 27 saves on 29 shots faced for a .931 SV% in 58:09 time on ice.

Peter Laviolette inserted veteran forward, Scott Hartnell, into his lineup in place of Kevin Fiala and the Predators and Jets were just as physical as ever from puck drop on Thursday.

On a delayed penalty to Roman Josi for cross checking Winnipeg’s Mark Scheifele, Patrik Laine retaliated and received a roughing minor at 3:46 of the first period. As such, what was going to be a power play for Winnipeg suddenly evaporated into matching minors.

Shortly thereafter, while the Jets were racking up scoring chance after scoring chance, Rinne— in desperation— stopped a shot with the knob of his stick and the game remained tied, 0-0.

Late in the first period on a faceoff win in the offensive zone, Ryan Hartman (2) made Winnipeg pay on an individual effort for the game’s first goal. Nashville led, 1-0, at 17:20 of the first period.

Through one period of action in Game 4, the Predators were leading, 1-0, on the scoreboard and trailing, 12-9, in shots on goal. Winnipeg led in blocked shots (2-1), giveaways (8-5) and faceoff win percentage (53-47), while Nashville held an advantage in hits (12-10) and takeaways (4-2).

Both teams had yet to appear on the power play entering the first intermission, though Craig Smith’s minor penalty for tripping Winnipeg defender, Adam Lowry, at 20:00 of the first period meant that the Jets would begin their first power play of the night starting from puck drop in the second period.

The two Western Conference powerhouses swapped scoring chance for scoring chance in the second period after the Preds killed off Smith’s minor penalty, but the scoreboard did not change until Nashville got their first power play opportunity of the night.

Jets blueliner, Dustin Byfuglien, slashed Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm and was sent to the box at 13:43 of the second period. Less than a minute later, the Predators converted on the man advantage.

Filip Forsberg worked the puck back to the point where P.K. Subban (3) shot a rocket of a slap shot past Hellebuyck as the Winnipeg netminder was being screened by Viktor Arvidsson in front of the goal.

Forsberg (7) and Ryan Johansen (6) notched the assists on Subban’s goal at 14:36 of the second period and the Predators amassed a two-goal lead.

Late in the second, Lowry hooked Kyle Turris and Nashville went back on the power play, but the Predators were not able to score on the ensuing advantage heading into the second intermission. They did, however, have 39 seconds remaining on the power play to start the third period.

After 40 minutes of play, the Nashville Predators led the Winnipeg Jets, 2-0. Winnipeg held a slight advantage in shots on goal (23-22), blocked shots (6-4) and giveaways (13-9). The Predators held an advantage in hits (20-17) and takeaways (6-2), while the Jets led in faceoff win percentage (53-47).

Nashville was 1/2 on the power play while the Jets were 0/1 after two periods.

The Predators held onto their 2-0 lead deep into the third period and were approaching a mark not seen in Winnipeg since March 11, 2017. That mark, of course, being the last time the Jets were shutout on home ice— regular season or postseason.

With a little more than two minutes remaining in regulation, Paul Maurice pulled his goaltender for an extra skater. Shortly thereafter, things went from 6-on-5 to 6-on-4 for Winnipeg as Subban was penalized for cross checking Scheifele at 17:58 of the third period.

Scheifele fanned on a one-timer on the ensuing power play and almost redeemed himself on a follow up, but Rinne worked his magic once again and covered it up with about a minute left in regulation.

That’s when Maurice used his timeout to draw up a plan to avoid being shutout and attempt to score two quick goals.

Paul Stastny won the ensuing faceoff back to Laine (3), who fired a wrist shot from the top of the faceoff circle through Rinne’s five-hole as the puck deflected off of a chunk of the Finnish goaltender.

Stastny (7) had the only assist on Laine’s power play goal at 19:09 of the third period and Winnipeg cut the Predators lead in half, 2-1.

After a couple more stoppages in play and a timekeeping adjustment, the Jets had an offensive faceoff with 1.2 seconds left in the game— plenty of time to win a faceoff and score a goal if they were to execute the perfect play.

It did not go as perfect.

Stastny won the attacking zone faceoff back to Laine, but Laine’s shooting lane was jammed, so the Jets winger had to throw the puck in front of the net as fast as possible as time expired and the Nashville Predators evened the series, 2-2.

After 60 minutes, the Predators won the game, 2-1, and led in blocked shots (9-6) and hits (27-23). Meanwhile, Winnipeg led in shots on goal (33-29), giveaways (19-12) and faceoff win percentage (58-42). Both teams were 1/2 on the power play.

With the series tied, 2-2, the series shifts back to Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee Saturday night at 9:30 p.m. ET for Game 5. Viewers in the United States can catch the action on NBCSN, while fans in Canada can tune in on CBC or TVAS. Game 6 will be back in Winnipeg on Monday night.

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Playoff Recaps

Fiala, Preds, even series with Jets in 2OT win

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Kevin Fiala scored the game-winning overtime goal at 5:37 of the second overtime period Sunday night at Bridgestone Arena and the Nashville Predators topped the Winnipeg Jets, 5-4, in Game 2. The Second Round series is now tied, 1-1, heading into Game 3 on Tuesday.

Predators netminder, Pekka Rinne had 46 saves on 50 shots against for a .920 save percentage in 85:37 time on ice in the win, while Jets goaltender, Connor Hellebuyck, made 36 saves on 41 shots against for an .878 SV% in 84:50 TOI in the loss.

Getting the first goal in a Stanley Cup Playoff game means (almost) everything. Ryan Johansen (3) scored the game’s first goal just 27 seconds into the action and the Predators had a 1-0 lead. Filip Forsberg (3) and P.K. Subban (4) had the assists.

Matt Hendricks bumped into Rinne past the seven minute mark in the first period and received the game’s first penalty as Nashville went on the power play. The Preds did not convert on the man advantage.

Moments later, Ryan Hartman tripped Paul Stastny and the Jets went on their first power play of the night. Winnipeg’s power play was short lived, though, as Blake Wheeler promptly tripped Colton Sissons 52 seconds into Winnipeg’s man advantage opportunity.

As Nashville’s abbreviated power play was wrapping up, Viktor Arvidsson, was guilty of a minor penalty for interference.

Seconds later, after winning a faceoff in the offensive zone, the Jets worked the puck along the wall, around the boards and back to the point, where Dustin Byfuglien was sneaking his way in towards the goal.

Byfuglien (1) fired a shot from close range and snuck the puck through Rinne’s five-hole for his first goal of the postseason and tied the game, 1-1. Mark Scheifele (2) had the only assist on the goal at 12:47 of the first period.

Just 29 seconds after Byfuglien scored, Winnipeg converted on their abbreviated power play with Arvidsson in the box for Nashville.

Scheifele (7) was in the right place at the right time as Stastny collected a rebound that caromed off the glass behind the net and dished a pass to the young Jets forward standing point blank in the slot. Stastny (4) and Patrik Laine (4) notched the assists on the goal that made it, 2-1, Winnipeg at 13:16.

As momentum shifted in Winnipeg’s favor, Laine rang the post about a minute later and almost had what would’ve been three unanswered goals for the Jets.

Instead, after 20 minutes of play, Winnipeg had a one-goal lead as shots on goal were even, 9-9. The Jets led in blocked shots (9-7) and takeaways (4-2), while the Preds led in hits (9-7) and giveaways (3-2). Winnipeg was 1/2 on the power play and Nashville was 0/2 after one period.

Bryan Little tripped up Sissons 4:01 into the second period and the Predators went on the power play for the third time Sunday night.

Subban (1) fired a clapper past Hellebuyck while Arvidsson provided the perfect jump screen in front of the goal to tie the game, 2-2, at 5:04 of the second period. Forsberg (4) and Arvidsson (2) amassed the assists on Subban’s goal.

Mattias Ekholm slashed Wheeler almost midway into the second period, but the Jets were not able to score on the ensuing power play. Neither did the Predators on their own power play six minutes later when Hendricks took another trip to the sin bin for interference.

On a burst of speed into the offensive zone Arvidsson (3) let go of a cannon of a shot that beat Hellebuyck to give Nashville a, 3-2, lead at 18:41 of the second period. Forsberg (5) and Ryan Ellis (5) had the assists on the goal.

At the end of the period, Ellis delivered a cross check to Scheifele in the midst of a scrum and Nick Bonino mixed things up a bit with Scheifele himself. Three penalties were assessed at 20:00 minutes of the second period; Ellis (a minor for cross checking), Bonino (roughing, minor) and Scheifele (roughing, minor).

Through 40 minutes of play, the Preds led the Jets, 3-2, on the scoreboard and were outshot, 22-18, by Winnipeg. Nashville led in hits (18-10) and giveaways (13-7), while Winnipeg led in blocked shots (18-11) and takeaways (8-7). The Jets were 1/3 on the power play and the Predators were 1/4 on the man advantage after two periods.

Brandon Tanev (3) forced his way through the neutral zone on a chip pass from Little and beat Rinne on a breakaway, tying the game, 3-3 at 5:11 of the third period. Little (3) had the only assist on Tanev’s goal.

Johansen (4) scored on a breakaway of his own— destroying Toby Enstrom with one move and beating Hellebuyck bar-down— 34 seconds later, giving the Predators the one-goal lead, once again. Arvidsson (3) had the only assist on Johansen’s second goal of the game and Nashville led, 4-3, at 5:45.

For the longest time, the Predators were leading, 4-3, in the third period, but Paul Maurice’s Winnipeg Jets had more fight in them as time ticked down. Maurice pulled his goaltender for an extra skater with under two minutes remaining in regulation and it quickly paid off as Scheifele (8) nabbed his second goal of the night.

Wheeler (6) and Byfuglien (6) notched the primary and secondary assists on the game-tying goal at 18:55 of the third period.

With the score tied, 4-4, after 60 minutes of regulation, Game 2 went into overtime.

Entering overtime, Winnipeg was leading in shots on goal (36-25), while Nashville led in hits (21-19), takeaways (11-9) and giveaways (15-11). Both teams were 1/4 on the power play.

The Predators peppered the Hellebuyck with a ton of shots in the first half of the first overtime period and were in complete control of the chaotic flow of the game. Then Winnipeg caught the Jetstream and hightailed the rest of the period, generating numerous scoring chances that were tossed aside by Rinne.

After 20 minutes of overtime and 80 minutes of play, the score remained, 4-4, but the Jets led in shots on goal (48-38) and blocked shots (28-26). Nashville kept up with their physical play, leading in hits (26-23) and controlled the faceoff dot— winning 61 percent of all faceoffs taken after the first overtime.

Winnipeg had surpassed their previous longest postseason game in franchise history (dating back to their days as the Atlanta Thrashers) and would quickly pass the record for longest postseason game by any Winnipeg NHL franchise (new or old— a.k.a. the current day Arizona Coyotes) in the second overtime period.

Another milestone passed by the Jets that’s not to be overlooked (given the emergence/existence of the Vegas Golden Knights in Vegas’s inaugural season/postseason) is the fact that entering Sunday night, Winnipeg/Atlanta was the only active NHL franchise that had yet to play a game that required multiple overtimes.

Anyway, Kevin Fiala (3) converted in a two-on-one whereby Craig Smith tossed the puck across the ice, Fiala received it, stickhandled, made Hellebuyck commit, then pulled the puck to his backhand and scored on a largely left open 4×6 frame.

Smith (1) and Kyle Turris (3) had the assists on Fiala’s second career postseason overtime goal and the Predators had won, 5-4, at 5:37 of the second overtime.

Winnipeg finished the night leading in shots on goal (50-41) and blocked shots (30-26). Nashville led in the final scoreboard, 5-4, and in hits (26-23) after 85:37 elapsed time.

With the win, Rinne is now 7-6 all-time in postseason overtime games and Hellebuyck is 0-1 in his first career overtime Stanley Cup Playoff game.

The series is tied, 1-1, heading into Game 3 on Tuesday night at Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Viewers in the United States can tune to CNBC at 8 p.m. ET, while fans in Canada can catch the action on CBC or TVAS.

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Playoff Recaps

Hellebuyck steals Game 1 for Winnipeg

 

With 47 saves from First Star of the Game and Vezina finalist G Connor Hellebuyck, the Winnipeg Jets beat the Nashville Predators 4-1 at Bridgestone Arena in Game 1 of their Western Conference Semifinal.

Hockey is a bizarre, incredible game in that one side can absolutely dominate play by out-shooting the opposition 20-4 (yes, you read that correctly: only four shots on goal) in one period, yet it only takes one player to completely neutralize that assault.

Enter Hellebuyck, who came into the Second Round on the coattails of two consecutive shutouts to close out the Jets’ series against Minnesota.

Hellebuyck rejected every single offering that came his way in that first frame, including three power play shots while W Nikolaj Ehlers was in the penalty box for tripping Third Star W Kevin Fiala.

Admittedly, he benefited from the Predators failing to connect on at least two passes that would have provided the recipient a prime scoring opportunity on an open net, but it could also be argued that the Jets defense, though porous, did stand up at the biggest moments to help Hellebuyck keep the Preds at bay – especially by clearing most rebounds off the netminder’s pads.

Making things even better for the Jets, their fourth shot on goal of the game ended up being the first marker of this highly anticipated Central Division showdown series. With 5:09 remaining in the frame, W Brandon Tanev (F Bryan Little) collected the rebound of Little’s shot off G Pekka Rinne‘s stick and right skate, beating the netminder’s blade to the near post to give the Jets a one-goal lead.

A similar storyline continued in the second period. Hellebuyck was charged with making 16 more saves after the first intermission, and he performed beautifully – albeit with the help of his right post when F Filip Forsberg should have buried a power play slap shot on a gaping cage.

And just like in the first frame, the Jets rewarded him with goals at the other end of the rink. 9:01 into the second period, C Paul Stastny (RW Patrik Laine and Ehlers) completed Ehlers’ powerful drive into the offensive zone by scrapping out a wrister in the slot after two Rinne saves.

And only 1:22 after Forsberg missed his opportunity to snap Hellebuyck’s shutout, C Mark Scheifele (RW Blake Wheeler and LW Kyle Connor) turned Winnipeg’s successful penalty kill into a wrister with 2:09 remaining in the period. This goal was a stellar example of Winnipeg’s counterattack, as Wheeler sped into the offensive zone to give the Jets a three-on-three opportunity. After dropping a pass to Scheifele, it was all the center could do but rip his wrister past Rinne’s blocker for the Jets’ third goal.

Following the second intermission, Head Coach Peter Laviolette elected to lift Rinne – who’d saved 13-of-16 shots faced (.813 save percentage) through two periods – in favor of G Juuse Saros to try and send a message to his club.

That message was more than received, as Fiala (C Kyle Turris and D Ryan Ellis) finally squeaked a wrister past Hellebuyck 1:23 into the third frame to end his perfect run. Fiala was the recipient of a stellar centering touch pass from Turris along the goal line, quickly potting his second goal of this postseason to set the score at 3-1.

However, Nashville couldn’t build any positive energy from that tally. Even though the Preds fired another 10 shots at Hellebuyck in the remaining 18:37 of regulation, they simply couldn’t replicate that winning formula to pull any closer to Winnipeg.

That led to Saros departing his crease for an extra attacker, which allowed Scheifele (Wheeler) to close out the match by burying an empty-netter with 36 seconds remaining in regulation.

Statistically, there’s few things the Predators did wrong in this game. They dominated the face-off dot (Nashville won 66 percent of draws) and threw more hits (29-22) even though they easily out-shot Winnipeg 48-19.

Instead, Nashville’s focus should be on duplicating Fiala’s goal if it wants any chance of besting Hellebuyck and his 47-of-48 (.979 save percentage) in Game 2.

Speaking of, that contest is scheduled for 7 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, April 29. For those that don’t have the pleasure of being in attendance at Bridgestone Arena that night, they may view the game on CBC, NBCSN and TVAS.