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NHL Nick's Net

Marchand leads third period comeback against Canucks

Brad Marchand’s third period effort spurred the Boston Bruins to a, 3-2, win over the Vancouver Canucks Sunday night at TD Garden.

Marchand tallied a goal and an assist on the game-winning goal in the third period as Linus Ullmark (5-3-0, 2.76 goals-against average, .914 save percentage in eight games played) turned aside 36 out of 38 shots faced in the victory for Boston.

Vancouver netminder, Jaroslav Halak (0-4-1, 2.85 goals-against average, .910 save percentage in six games played), made 39 saves on 42 shots against in the loss.

The Bruins improved to 11-7-0 (22 points) on the season and remain in 5th place in the Atlantic Division– one point behind the Detroit Red Wings for 4th– while the Canucks fell to 6-14-2 (14 points) overall and stuck in 8th place in the Pacific Division.

Prior to the ongoing pandemic, Vancouver beat Boston, 9-3, at Rogers Arena on Feb. 22, 2020.

Trent Frederic returned to the lineup for Boston after missing the last seven games with an upper body injury, while Ullmark returned to the crease after missing a scheduled start in Buffalo on Nov. 24th when he tweaked something at morning skate ahead of Boston’s, 5-1, win against the Sabres.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made a few changes to his lines coming off of a, 5-2, loss to the New York Rangers on Friday– inserting Frederic at center on the third line with Nick Foligno and Karson Kuhlman on his wings, for starters.

Kuhlman returned to the lineup after serving as a healthy scratch for the last four games.

Craig Smith was promoted back to his regular role on the second line at right wing, while Tomáš Nosek was relegated to the fourth line center slot with Frederic returning to the lineup and Erik Haula joining Jake DeBrusk and Connor Clifton as Sunday’s scratches.

Sunday night marked the first time this season that Haula and DeBrusk were scratched.

Jakub Zboril kicked things off with an interference infraction at 1:50 of the first period, yielding the night’s first power play to Vancouver.

Late in the ensuing skater advantage, the Canucks took advantage of a mishap in the crease when Ullmark and nearest defender, Mike Reilly, miscommunicated on a puck that bounced off of the Bruins goaltender and ended up in prime real estate in front of Tanner Pearson.

Pearson (3) poked the loose puck over the goal line from point blank and gave Vancouver a, 1-0, lead at 3:33 of the first period.

Brock Boeser (5) and Nils Höglander (5) had the assists on Pearson’s power-play goal as the Canucks took an early lead and momentum that was ultimately cut short about two minutes later.

Anton Blidh (1) skated into Boston’s attacking zone and wired a shot past Halak’s glove side from afar– about two strides into the zone from the blue line in the high point, that is.

Blidh’s unassisted effort tied the game, 1-1, at 5:51.

Minutes later, Conor Garland was penalized for holding the stick and presented the Bruins with their first chance on the power play at 10:14, but the B’s weren’t able to capitalize on the skater advantage.

Late in the period, Nosek caught Tyler Motte with a high stick and was assessed a minor infraction as a result at 15:44.

Vancouver entered the zone while on the ensuing power play and Garland ripped a shot from along the boards past Ullmark’s glove on the short side, but Cassidy used a coach’s challenge on the grounds that he and the Bruins’ video crew believed the Canucks were offside prior to the goal.

Video replay revealed that Höglander was, in fact, over the blue line with both skates prior to the puck entering the attacking zone, rendering Garland’s would be goal useless and reversing the call on the ice.

The score remained tied, 1-1, heading into the first intermission, while the Bruins led in shots on goal, 11-10.

Boston held the advantage in blocked shots (5-1) and hits (8-4), while the Canucks led in takeaways (2-1), giveaways (4-1) and faceoff win percentage (56-44).

Vancouver was 1/2 on the power play, while the B’s were 0/1 on the skater advantage heading into the middle frame.

Nosek thought he put the Bruins ahead within about a minute of action in the second period, but the call on the ice was “no goal” and upheld after a quick official review confirmed that– while Nosek’s initial kick of the puck to his stick blade was fine, his subsequent kick while falling that resulted in the rubber biscuit finding the twine was no good.

Minutes later, Marchand slashed Garland and was sent to the box at 6:54 of the second period.

Vancouver wasn’t able to capitalize on the resulting skater advantage, however.

Midway through the period, Garland (6) got the goal that he was looking for earlier in the night when he sent a shot with eyes through Jason Dickinson’s legs and Ullmark’s five-hole while Dickinson screened the Boston netminder.

Garland’s goal was unassisted and gave the Canucks a, 2-1, lead at 12:31 of the second period.

And so, 2-1, it remained as Vancouver led on the scoreboard through 40 minutes of action and in shots on goal, 27-24, including a, 17-13, advantage in the second period alone.

The Canucks dominated in takeaways (3-1), giveaways (8-3) and faceoff win% (52-48), while the Bruins led in blocked shots (11-8) and hits (17-13).

Vancouver went 1/3 on the power play, while Boston remained 0/1 on the skater advantage heading into the second intermission.

Matt Grzelcyk caught Höglander with a quick hook and cut a rut to the penalty box as a result at 3:51 of the third period as a result, but Vancouver couldn’t muster anything on the scoreboard.

Höglander, himself, was the next player off to the sin bin after he tripped Foligno at 7:21 of the third period.

This time the Bruins found the back of the net on the power play after Ullmark stoned Motte on a shorthanded breakaway at the other end.

David Pastrnak sent a shot attempt off the post where the puck pinballed around in the ensuing chaos off of Patrice Bergeron before settling outside the slot while a mass of bodies gathered in front of Halak.

Marchand (9) scooped up the puck and buried it to tie the game, 2-2, with a power-play goal at 8:45 of the third period.

Foligno (4) and Bergeron (9) notched the assists on Marchand’s goal as the Bruins surged to life.

Chances were traded at both ends when Oliver Ekman-Larsson raced Blidh into the corner and promptly boarded the Boston skater, resulting in a minor penalty that Garland ended up serving while Ekman-Larsson had to tend to an errant skate blade that popped out from the force of the collision with Blidh at 15:23.

Once more, it didn’t take the Bruins long to convert on the ensuing power play.

Marchand thread a pass through the slot to Pastrnak (7) for the redirection goal while crashing the net to give Boston their first lead of the night, 3-2, at 16:36 of the third period.

Marchand (15) and Bergeron (10) tallied the assists on Pastrnak’s power-play goal and the Bruins had their first lead of the night.

With their goaltender pulled and a stoppage in play with 46 seconds left on the clock, Canucks head coach, Travis Green, used his timeout to rally his skaters, but it was to no avail.

Though the Bruins didn’t end up scoring an empty net goal– despite Marchand’s best efforts to give Bergeron an easy lay-up, Bergeron had entered the zone offside to negate an insurance goal after Green challenged the call on the ice– the final horn sounded without issue.

Boston had won, 3-2, and finished the night leading in shots on goal, 42-38, including an, 18-11, advantage in shots on net in the third period alone.

The Bruins finished the night leading in blocked shots (12-11), hits (28-18) and faceoff win% (51-49), while Vancouver exited the building with the advantage in giveaways (10-3).

The Canucks finished Sunday night’s effort 1/4 on the power play, while Boston went 2/3 on the skater advantage.

The B’s improved to 4-3-0 (3-1-0 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 1-4-0 (1-2-0 at home) when tied after the first period and 2-4-0 (2-1-0 at home) when trailing after two periods this season.

Vancouver fell to 2-4-0 (1-4-0 on the road) when scoring first, 2-6-0 (1-4-0 on the road) when tied after one period and 4-1-0 (2-1-0 on the road) when leading after two periods in 2021-22.

The Bruins wrap up their three-game homestand against the Detroit Red Wings to close out the month of November on Tuesday.

Boston begins the month of December with a one-off road game at Bridgestone Arena against the Nashville Predators on Thursday (Dec. 2nd) before returning home to host the Tampa Bay Lightning for a game next Saturday (Dec. 4th).

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Bruins amass 47 shots in, 5-1, win on the road

After giving up the game’s first goal, the Boston Bruins pounded the Buffalo Sabres into submission with five unanswered goals and 47 shots on net in a, 5-1, victory at KeyBank Center Wednesday night.

Jeremy Swayman (6-3-0, 2.23 goals-against average, .914 save percentage in nine games played) made 24 saves on 25 shots faced in the win.

Meanwhile, Sabres goaltender, Aaron Dell (0-4-0, 4.57 goals-against average, .862 save percentage in five games played), made 18 saves on 22 shots against before being replaced by Dustin Tokarski (3-4-2, 3.27 goals-against average, .904 save percentage in 11 games played) after the first period.

Tokarski turned aside 24 out of 25 shots faced in relief of Dell for no decision.

The Bruins improved to 10-6-0 (20 points) on the season, but stuck in 5th place in the Atlantic Division as the Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets all won their respective matchups on Wednesday night– keeping Boston out of a wild card spot in the Eastern Conference as the season reaches the American Thanksgiving benchmark for gauging success.

Teams that are in playoff position by the time American Thanksgiving rolls around tend to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs about 78% of the time.

As for the Sabres, they dropped to 7-10-2 (16 points) overall and stuck behind the Bruins in the Atlantic, sitting in 6th place in the division.

The B’s also improved to 2-0-0 against Buffalo this season with two more matchups against the upstate New York based club on Jan. 1st and April 28th (each remaining game is at TD Garden in Boston).

Trent Frederic (upper body) remained out of the lineup for Boston on Wednesday, while Linus Ullmark was relegated to the role of the backup goaltender after tweaking something during morning skate.

Other than that, Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made one minor change to his lineup– promoting Matt Grzelcyk up to the first defensive pairing with Charlie McAvoy and relegating Derek Forbort to the second pairing alongside Brandon Carlo.

Connor Clifton and Karson Kuhlman served as healthy scratches for the B’s in Buffalo.

Jakub Zboril opened the action with a cross checking infraction at 2:25 of the first period when he knocked down John Hayden in front of Boston’s own net.

The Sabres, however, weren’t able to convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

After David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand couldn’t connect on a 2-on-1 opportunity in the other end (Marchand failed to corral a rebound), Kyle Okposo (5) received a pass from Rasmus Asplund while entering Buffalo’s attacking zone and wiring a shot through Patrice Bergeron’s legs over Swayman’s blocker side as the Bruins captain inadvertently screened his own goaltender.

Asplund (7) had the only assist on Okposo’s goal and the Sabres led, 1-0, on the scoreboard at 10:56 of the first period.

A few minutes later, though, Bergeron (7) pounced on a rebound and elevated a backhand shot over Dell while the Buffalo netminder was sprawled out in desperation to snag the puck and cover it up for a faceoff in his own zone.

Pastrnak (11) and Marchand (13) tallied the assists on Bergeron’s goal and the Bruins tied it, 1-1, at 13:29.

51 seconds later, Boston took the lead and started to run away with the rest of the night as Charlie Coyle (6) sent a shot over Dell’s glove on the short side and under the crossbar to put the B’s ahead, 2-1, at 14:20.

Nick Foligno (2) had the only assist on Coyle’s goal, which matched his season total (six goals) from 2020-21, in 35 fewer games.

About a minute later, Rasmus Dahlin hooked Pastrnak and presented the Bruins with their first power play of the night at 15:30 of the first period.

It only took Boston 69 seconds on the skater advantage to find the back of the net on a patented one-timer under the blocker from Pastrnak (6) at the faceoff dot to Dell’s right side to extend the Bruins’ lead to two-goals.

McAvoy (10) and Bergeron (8) tallied the assists on Pastrnak’s power-play goal and the B’s took a, 3-1, lead at 16:59.

With one minute remaining before the start of the first intermission, Zboril sent a puck towards the net that deflected off of his own teammate (Foligno) before Mike Reilly (2) pinched in from the point for the goal on the mostly empty twine to make it, 4-1, Boston.

Foligno (3) and Zboril (3) notched the assists at 19:00 of the first period.

After 20 minutes of play, the Bruins carried a, 4-1, lead into the dressing room and a, 22-8, advantage in shots on goal.

Buffalo held the advantage in takeaways (2-1) and giveaways (4-0), while Boston led in hits (11-7) and faceoff win percentage (71-29).

Both teams had three blocked shots each.

The Sabres were 0/1 and the Bruins were 1/1 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

Sabres head coach, Don Granato, replaced Dell with Tokarski ahead of the second period after Dell allowed four goals against in the opening frame on 22 shots faced.

Less than a couple minutes into the second period, Foligno and former Bruins defender, Colin Miller, became entangled in a battle as the puck went the other way, yielding an exchange of fisticuffs between Foligno and Miller and resulting five-minute majors for fighting at 1:42.

It was the fourth fighting major for Boston this season (and first since McAvoy fought Joel Farabee in Philadelphia on Nov. 20th).

Midway through the second period, Forbort tripped up Hayden and the on-ice officials deemed a penalty shot would suffice as a result.

Hayden skated in towards Swayman, but the Bruins netminder made the routine stop as though it were a regular breakaway in the first penalty shot that he faced in his young National Hockey League career.

Not much else happened after that in terms of scoring and penalties as neither team hit the back of the net or served an infraction other than Foligno and Miller’s majors for fighting in the second period.

Through two periods, the Bruins held onto a, 4-1, lead, as well as a, 29-22, advantage in shots on goal, despite Buffalo outshooting Boston, 14-7, in the second period alone.

The B’s led in blocked shots (7-6), hits (22-14) and faceoff win% (66-34) entering the second intermission, while the Sabres held the advantage in takeaways (6-4) and giveaways (6-2).

Buffalo was 0/2 on the skater advantage, while Boston was still 1/1 on the power play heading into the final frame.

Not too much was happening as the two teams went through the motions until about midway in the third period, when Zemgus Girgensons checked McAvoy along the boards and sent the star Bruins defender into the glass face first.

Girgensons was assessed a major for boarding as McAvoy took an extra minute to get off the ice (presumably with a head injury) and an official review upheld Girgensons’ major infraction and game misconduct, yielding a five-minute power play to the Bruins at 13:46 of the third period.

Arttu Ruotsalainen glided over to the penalty box to serve Girgensons’ major as the B’s went to work on the skater advantage.

About midway in the power play, Coyle setup Craig Smith who tossed a pass over to Taylor Hall (5) for the one-timer power-play goal against his most recent former team– extending Boston’s lead to four goals in the process.

Smith (2) and Coyle (5) had the assists on Hall’s goal as the Bruins pulled ahead, 5-1, at 15:26 of the third period.

The B’s didn’t score on the remainder of Girgensons’ major, but then again, not much else happened after Hall’s goal.

Boston wracked up shots on goal and held the Sabres to just three shots against in the third period alone as the final horn sounded– signaling a, 5-1, win for Swayman and the Bruins.

The Bruins exited the building with the advantage in shots on goal, 47-25, including an, 18-3, advantage in the third period alone, as well as the lead in hits (27-18) and faceoff win% (69-31).

Buffalo left their own rink with the lead in giveaways (8-4), while both teams recorded 10 blocked shots apiece.

The Sabres went 0/1 and the Bruins went 2/3 on the power play in Wednesday’s effort.

After the game, Cassidy told reporters that McAvoy “[was] good” and received some stitches but won’t know that much more until Thursday as it would depend on if “[McAvoy] wakes up feeling good tomorrow and is ready to go Friday.”

Boston improved to 3-3-0 (1-2-0 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 8-0-0 (4-0-0 on the road) when leading after the first period and 7-1-0 (4-0-0 on the road) when leading after two periods this season.

Buffalo fell to 5-4-1 (3-2-0 at home) when scoring first, 2-6-1 (2-3-1 at home) when trailing after one and 0-7-0 (0-5-0 at home) when trailing after the second period in 2021-22.

The Bruins finish the month of November with a three-game homestand starting with Friday’s matinee matchup with the New York Rangers on ABC in the 2021 NHL Thanksgiving Showdown before hosting the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday (Nov. 28th) and Detroit Red Wings next Tuesday (Nov. 30th).

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Forbort scores pair in, 5-2, win for Boston

Derek Forbort notched his first career two-goal game and earned his second career game-winning goal in the process, while leading the Boston Bruins to a, 5-2, win over the Philadelphia Flyers Saturday night at Wells Fargo Center.

Linus Ullmark (4-3-0, 2.86 goals-against average, .908 save percentage in seven games played) made 29 saves on 31 shots against in the win for Boston.

Philadelphia goaltender, Martin Jones (3-2-0, 2.82 goals-against average, .920 save percentage in five games played), stopped 39 out of 44 shots faced in the loss.

The Bruins improved to 9-5-0 (18 points) on the season and remain 5th in the Atlantic Division, while the Flyers fell to 8-5-3 (19 points) overall and stuck in 4th place in the Metropolitan Division.

As a result of Saturday night’s win, the B’s are now 1-1-0 against Philadelphia this season and will face the Flyers once more in the 2021-22 regular season schedule on Jan. 13th at TD Garden.

Trent Frederic (upper body) remained out of the lineup for Boston, while head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made several changes to his lines with Craig Smith and Curtis Lazar returning to action.

Smith took to the third line right wing with Jake DeBrusk at left wing and Erik Haula at center, while Lazar was inserted on the fourth line right wing with Anton Blidh to the left of Tomáš Nosek.

On defense, Mike Reilly was back after serving as a healthy scratch in Boston’s, 5-2, victory over the Montréal Canadiens last Sunday.

Reilly suited up on the left side of the third defensive pairing with Jakub Zboril as his partner and Connor Clifton joining Karson Kuhlman in the press box on the short list of healthy scratches for the Bruins.

Oskar Steen was reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Monday.

Taylor Hall tripped up Claude Giroux to present the Flyers with their first power play of the night at 4:36 of the first period, but Philadelphia wasn’t able to convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Midway through the opening frame, Giroux tripped Brandon Carlo and presented Boston with their first power play opportunity of the evening at 10:19.

The Bruins even had a 5-on-3 advantage for 12 seconds when Justin Braun tripped David Pastrnak at 12:07, but the B’s couldn’t muster anything on either power play.

Late in the period, Lazar went deep on a forecheck and ensured that a puck chipped in from Matt Grzelcyk would find its way onto another Bruins skater’s stick.

Blidh sent a quick pass to Nosek from the trapezoid to the slot where Nosek (2) elevated a backhand shot under the bar from close range to give Boston the first lead of the night, 1-0, at 18:25 of the first period.

Blidh (2) and Lazar (3) tallied the assists on Nosek’s goal.

Entering the first intermission, the Bruins led, 1-0, on the scoreboard and outshot the Flyers, 21-8.

The B’s also held the advantage in takeaways (3-2) and hits (9-7), while Philly led in blocked shots (3-1), giveaways (4-2) and faceoff win percentage (60-40).

Philadelphia was 0/1 on the power play, while Boston was 0/2 on the skater advantage heading into the middle frame.

It didn’t take the Bruins long to extend their lead to two-goals as Forbort (3) sent a blast from the point that may have tipped off of Braun’s stick and floated over Jones’ blocker side to make it, 2-0, 30 seconds into the second period.

Brad Marchand (12) and Pastrnak (10) recorded the assists on Forbort’s first goal of the night.

Less than a minute later, however, Boston gave up a goal as Cam Atkinson won a race to a loose puck in the trapezoid and bounced a shot off of Ullmark before Derick Brassard (3) scooped up the rebound goal while crashing the net– cutting Boston’s lead in half.

Atkinson (3) and Rasmus Ristolainen (4) had the assists on the goal and the Flyers trailed, 2-1, at 1:22 of the second period.

About a couple minutes later, Forbort tripped Joel Farabee and was sent to the penalty box at 3:42, but Philadelphia wasn’t able to convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Marchand cut a rut to the sin bin after a post-whistle scrum resulted in an unsportsmanlike conduct infraction at 8:30.

It didn’t take the Flyers long to convert on the power play as Brassard (4) received a pass that deflected off of Lazar’s stick and buried a catch and release goal– tying the game, 2-2, in the process.

Giroux (8) and Ivan Provorov (4) tabbed the assists on Brassard’s power-play goal at 9:25 of the second period.

About a minute later, Charlie McAvoy took exception to Farabee’s aggressive play and the two exchanged fisticuffs– yielding five-minute majors for fighting at 10:32, as a result.

Late in the period, Smith setup Forbort (4) for a snap shot over Jones’ glove and under the bar to put Boston ahead, 3-2, on what became the eventual game-winning goal.

Smith (1) and DeBrusk (2) had the assists on Forbort’s second goal of the game as the Bruins defender doubled his career-high goals in a season (four) in just his 14th game with Boston at 16:27 of the second period.

Through 40 minutes of action, the B’s led, 3-2, on the scoreboard and dominated shots on goal, 34-19, including a, 13-11, advantage in the second period alone.

Boston led in blocked shots (8-5), takeaways (5-4), hits (25-18) and faceoff win% (55-45), while both teams had five giveaways each after two periods.

Philadelphia was 1/3 on the power play, while the Bruins remained 0/2 on the skater advantage entering the final frame.

Early in the final frame, Haula fed Smith with a lead pass into the zone before Smith (1) beat Jones on the short side to give Boston another two-goal lead.

Haula (2) and DeBrusk (3) tallied the assists on Smith’s first goal of the season and the Bruins led, 4-2, at 1:28 of the third period.

Oskar Lindblom was sent to the sin bin for hooking at 4:11, but Boston’s power play didn’t last long as Patrice Bergeron cut a rut in Lindblom’s wake with a hooking infraction of his own at 4:29.

After a span of 1:42 at 4-on-4, the Flyers had an abbreviated power play, but couldn’t muster anything past Ullmark.

Carlo went to the box for tripping Brassard at 11:54 and Philadelphia was set to begin a power play on an offensive zone faceoff– except Brassard got thrown out before the draw, so Giroux glided in to take the faceoff against Bergeron, but then the resulting redo was botched.

Bergeron might have accidentally nudged the linesman, but officials on the ice determined it was Giroux– for some unexplained reason– that had committed a faceoff violation and (seeing as it was Philadelphia’s second violation on the same faceoff) resulted in an automatic bench minor for delay of game.

Giroux protested to no avail as Zack MacEwen skated to the box at 11:54– negating Philly’s power play for 4-on-4 action instead.

Less than a minute later, Pastrnak sent a pass back to Zboril in the attacking zone whereby Zboril was patient with the puck before giving it back to his fellow Czechia native.

Pastrnak (5) then held the rubber biscuit while cutting through the slot before wrapping the puck high behind Jones’ glove into the open twine.

Zboril (2) and Charlie Coyle (4) were credited with the assists as the Bruins took a, 5-2, lead at 12:47 of the third period.

Finally, in the last entry on the event sheet for the night, Forbort hooked MacEwen and was assessed a minor infraction at 14:20, but the Flyers couldn’t score on the resulting power play.

At the final horn, Boston had won, 5-2, and finished the night leading in shots on goal, 44-31, despite trailing Philadelphia, 12-10, in shots on net in the third period alone.

The Bruins exited the building leading in blocked shots (9-8), giveaways (7-5), hits (33-29) and faceoff win% (51-49).

The Flyers finished the night 1/5 on the power play, while the B’s left Wells Fargo Center 0/3 on the skater advantage.

Boston improved to 7-3-0 (3-2-0 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal, 7-0-0 (3-0-0 on the road) when leading after the first period and 6-1-0 (3-0-0 on the road) when leading after two periods this season.

Philadelphia, meanwhile, dropped to 2-5-1 (1-3-0 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 1-3-1 (1-2-0 at home) when trailing after one period and 1-4-2 (0-2-1 on home ice) when trailing after the second period in 2021-22.

The Bruins return home on Sunday to host the Calgary Flames before hitting the road to face the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center next Wednesday (Nov. 24th) prior to closing out November with a three-game homestand including next Friday’s (Nov. 26th) matinee matchup with the New York Rangers– which will air nationally on ABC at 1 p.m. ET as part of the 2021 NHL Thanksgiving Showdown.

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Bruins’ best home winning streak to start a season in 30 years ends

The Edmonton Oilers scored three unanswered goals in the third period to rout the Boston Bruins, 5-3, at TD Garden on Thursday night.

Leon Draisaitl scored the game-tying and game-winning goals before Cody Ceci added an insurance marker for good measure, while Mikko Koskinen (8-1-0, 2.59 goals-against average, .918 save percentage in nine games played) made 26 saves on 29 shots against in the win for the Oilers.

Bruins goaltender, Linus Ullmark (3-3-0, 3.01 goals-against average, .903 save percentage in six games played) turned aside 23 out of 28 shots faced in the loss.

Boston fell to 6-5-0 (12 points) overall and stuck in 5th place in the Atlantic Division, while Edmonton remained atop the Pacific Division with a 10-2-0 record and 20 points on the season.

Nick Foligno and Anton Blidh returned from their upper-body injuries that kept Foligno out for the last eight games and Blidh out for the last seven games, respectively.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, inserted Foligno on the second line right wing slot– bumping Craig Smith down to the third line with Jack Studnicka having been reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) for a little seasoning.

Blidh, meanwhile, was slotted into the fourth line left wing role in place of Trent Frederic (upper body) who missed Thursday’s action as a result of an injury sustained in Tuesday night’s, 3-2, win against the Ottawa Senators.

Jakub Zboril and Karson Kuhlman served as Boston’s healthy scratches against the Oilers.

Prior to puck drop, the Bruins honored Colby Cave (1994-2020) with a tribute video and a moment of silence before Emily Cave dropped the ceremonial first puck and administered long hugs for each team’s captain before hugging a few more Oilers players and the entire Bruins bench.

About a minute into Thursday night’s action, Draisaitl tripped Brad Marchand and presented the Bruins with the first power play opportunity of the game at 1:02 of the first period.

Boston didn’t convert on the skater advantage, however, but took advantage of the vulnerable minute after as Patrice Bergeron sent a tape-to-tape pass to David Pastrnak, leading Pastrnak (4) into the attacking zone with Oilers defender, Duncan Keith, trailing before firing a shot from the dot through Koskinen’s five-hole to put the Bruins ahead, 1-0.

Bergeorn (5) had the only assist on Pastrnak’s goal at 4:45 of the first period.

The lead didn’t last long for the B’s as Evan Bouchard (2) snuck in from the point and wired a shot from the slot over Ullmark’s glove, off the bar and in– tying the game, 1-1, in the process 44 seconds after Pastrnak scored for Boston.

Draisaitl (14) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (15) tallied the assists on Bouchard’s goal at 5:29 of the first period.

Midway through the period, Connor Clifton sent an errant puck over the glass and out of play for an automatic delay of game infraction while trying to clear his own zone at 10:50.

Edmonton did not score on the ensuing power play, however.

Late in the period, Slater Koekkoek cut a rut to the sin bin for holding, but Boston couldn’t muster anything on the skater advantage at 17:30.

Heading into the first intermission, the score was tied, 1-1, while the Oilers led in shots on goal, 9-7.

Edmonton also held the advantage in takeaways (4-2), while Boston led in blocked shots (4-1), hits (19-9) and faceoff win percentage (73-27). Both teams had three giveaways each.

The Oilers were 0/1 and the Bruins were 0/2 on the power play after one period.

Pastrnak protected the puck in the attacking zone early in the middle period before sending an attempted pass for Bergeron through the slot, but the play was broken up by Bouchard before bouncing to Marchand (6), who promptly pounced on the loose puck and scored from the low slot.

Bergeron (6) and Pastrnak (6) tallied the assists on Marchand’s goal and the Bruins led, 2-1, at 5:06 of the second period.

The goal moved Marchand (731) into sole possession of the eighth-most points scored in a Bruins uniform, surpassing David Krejci (730) in the process.

Wayne Cashman (793 points with Boston) is seventh on the list ahead of Marchand.

Just like they did in the first period, though, the Oilers found a way to score within a minute after the Bruins pulled ahead– only this time Edmonton did it 24 seconds after Marchand’s goal as Zach Hyman (8) received a pass from Connor McDavid, skated past three Bruins players and scored on a quick flip to tie the game.

McDavid (15) had the only assist as Edmonton tied it, 2-2, at 5:30 of the second period.

A few minutes later, Koekkoek went back to the box– this time for tripping Marchand– at 8:42, but the B’s didn’t score on the resulting power play.

Late in the middle frame, Bergeron won an offensive zone faceoff and sent the puck back to Matt Grzelcyk at the point.

Grzelcyk sent a “D-to-D” pass along the blue line to Brandon Carlo (1), who rocketed a slap shot off of Koskinen’s glove and into the twine to give the Bruins a, 3-2, lead at 17:14.

Grzelcyk (2) and Bergeron (6) were credited with the assists on Carlo’s first goal of the season.

Through 40 minutes of action, the B’s led, 3-2, on the scoreboard and, 18-16, in shots on goal, including an, 11-7, advantage in the second period alone.

Boston also maintained the advantage in blocked shots (5-4), hits (27-25) and faceoff win% (67-33), while the Oilers led in giveaways (6-4). Both teams had four takeaways each.

Edmonton was still 0/1 on the power play, while the Bruins were 0/3 on the skater advantage.

Marchand held Darnell Nurse and was sent to the box at 1:28 of the third period as a result, but the Oilers couldn’t convert on the ensuing power play.

Moments later, Edmonton started to capitalize on a shift in momentum, plus quite a few defensive lapses in Bruins players’ judgment.

Carlo lost the rubber biscuit while second-guessing a pass to his defensive partner– softly giving the puck away to Draisaitl (11) instead for an unassisted goal from close range as No. 29 in an Oilers road jersey buried a shot past Ullmark’s glove with a blast.

Draisaitl’s first goal of the game tied things up, 3-3, at 6:22 of the third period.

About a few minutes later, Edmonton won an attacking zone faceoff back to the point where Keith tossed the puck to Ceci as he crept in before sending a shot pass for Draisaitl (12) to redirect from the slot to give the Oilers their first lead of the night, 4-3, at 9:26 of the third period.

Ceci (2) and Keith (3) had the assists as Edmonton tied the game and took the lead in a span of 3:04.

In the closing minutes of Thursday night’s action, Ullmark sent the puck along the boards up to Clifton around the goal line, whereby Clifton promptly banked it inadvertently off of Bouchard, resulting in a mad scramble in front of Boston’s own net.

Though Ullmark made the initial save, a rebound that no Bruin could settle on their stick and clear the zone led to Ceci (1) waltzing in with an easy shot from the point at a mostly empty net to cement Edmonton’s victory with a, 5-3, lead.

Ceci’s goal was unassisted at 17:41 of the third period.

With less than two minute remaining in the action, Cassidy pulled his netminder for an extra attacker, but it was all for naught as the final horn sounded– signaling a, 5-3, win for the Oilers, despite Boston finishing the night leading in shots on goal, 29-28.

Edmonton held the advantage in shots on net in the third period alone, 12-11, and exited the building leading in blocked shots (8-7), while the Bruins wrapped up Thursday night’s action leading in giveaways (9-8), hits (34-30) and faceoff win% (67-33).

The Oilers finished the night 0/2 on the power play, while Boston went 0/3 on the skater advantage.

The B’s fell to 5-3-0 (4-1-0 at home) when scoring the game’s first goal, 0-3-0 (0-1-0 at home) when tied after the first period and 4-1-0 (3-1-0 at home) when leading after two periods this season.

Edmonton, meanwhile, improved to 4-2-0 (2-1-0 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 4-0-0 (2-0-0 on the road) when tied after one and 3-1-0 (1-1-0 on the road) when trailing after the second period in 2021-22.

The Bruins travel to Prudential Center for a Saturday matinee road game against the New Jersey Devils before returning home to host the Montréal Canadiens on Sunday for the first time since the 2019-20 season. Boston then has five days off before their next road game in Philadelphia on Nov. 20th.

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NHL Nick's Net

Bruins lose first game in Toronto in almost two years

John Tavares and Auston Matthews each had a pair of goals in the Toronto Maple Leafs’, 5-2, victory over the Boston Bruins Saturday night at Scotiabank Arena.

Saturday night marked Boston’s return to Canada in the regular season for the first time since the 2019-20 season due to the temporary realignment for the entire 2020-21 regular season in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Jack Campbell (6-2-1, 1.88 goals-against average, .936 save percentage in 10 games played) made 42 saves on 44 shots against in the win for the Leafs.

Meanwhile, Linus Ullmark (3-2-0, 2.60 goals-against average, .918 save percentage in five games played) stopped 31 out of 35 shots faced in the loss.

The Bruins dropped to 5-4-0 (10 points) on the season and fell to 6th place in the Atlantic Division, while Toronto improved to 7-4-1 (15 points) overall and in command of 2nd place in the Atlantic.

Prior to Saturday night’s matchup, it had been 722 day since the B’s beat the Leafs, 4-2, in Toronto on Nov. 15, 2019.

Once again, Nick Foligno (upper body), Anton Blidh (upper body), Jack Studnicka and Jakub Zboril were out of the lineup for Boston, while head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made no changes to his lineup after Thursday night’s, 5-1, victory against the Detroit Red Wings.

A few minutes into the action, a mad scramble in front of Boston’s own net led to a great scoring chance for Morgan Rielly, whereby the Leafs defender sent a shot at a mostly open net as Ullmark dove across the crease in desperation, but Patrice Bergeron stood tall behind his goaltender and blocked the rubber biscuit from entering the open twine.

Bergeron may be in search of his fifth Frank J. Selke Trophy in his career, but he also might have just made the save of the season and could receive a vote or two towards the Vezina Trophy as the league’s best goaltender in 2021-22.

Moments later, Connor Clifton was penalized for roughing and yielded the night’s first power play to the Toronto at 5:18 of the first period.

The B’s made the kill on the ensuing infraction, however.

Maple Leafs defender, Jake Muzzin, knocked his own net off its moorings and received a delay of game minor at 8:23, presenting the Bruins with their first power play of the night.

It didn’t take Boston long to win the ensuing offensive zone faceoff, work the puck around the attacking zone from Brad Marchand to Bergeron for a one-timer that Taylor Hall (3) tipped past Campbell from point blank without any pressure in front of the net.

Bergeron (4) and Marchand (9) tallied the assists on Hall’s power-play goal as the Bruins pulled ahead, 1-0, at 8:37 of the first period.

Almost four minutes later, however, Tavares (5) inadvertently redirected a shot with his leg past Ullmark that Mitchell Marner originally fired towards the net– tying the game, 1-1, in the process.

Marner (7) and Rielly (7) had the assists on the goal, which had briefly been reviewed before being upheld as the officials checked to make sure there was a legitimate scoring chance imminent as Bergeron bumped into Tavares, thereby knocking the net off of its pegs immediately prior to the goal at 12:21.

After one period of action in Toronto, the scoreboard was even, 1-1, despite the Bruins leading in shots on goal, 13-9.

Boston held the advantage in blocked shots (6-2), takeaways (3-1) and giveaways (3-1), while both teams managed to have 10 hits each and split the faceoff winning percentage, 50-50, in the first period.

The Maple Leafs were 0/1 and the Bruins were 1/1 on the power play heading into the first intermission.

Leafs head coach, Sheldon Keefe, couldn’t have been too pleased early in the middle frame when his skaters botched a line change and had one too many on the ice– resulting in a bench minor for too many men 40 seconds into the second period.

This time, however, Boston’s power play was unsuccessful.

Moments later, David Pastrnak was assessed a minor for boarding as he collided with T.J. Brodie awkwardly along the boards and presented Toronto with a skater advantage at 7:34 of the second period.

The Leafs did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Late in the period, Matt Grzelcyk caught Marner with a high stick and cut a rut to the penalty box as a result at 14:35.

Toronto made quick work of the ensuing power play as Marner worked a zone entry to Tavares, who sent the puck back to Marner off of Bruins defender Derek Forbort’s stick.

While continuing to approach the slot, Marner sent a quick pass to Matthews for the shot off of Ullmark’s pad that rebounded right back to Matthews (4), who promptly pocketed the rubber biscuit in the twine under the bar to give Toronto a, 2-1, lead.

Marner (8) had the only assist on Matthews’ first goal of the night at 14:59 of the second period.

Minutes later, Marchand gave Timothy Liljegren a quick stick to the face, yielding an infraction for high sticking as a result and giving the Maple Leafs another chance on the power play at 18:03.

Once more, Matthews (5) made Boston pay with a power-play goal on a one-timer from the faceoff dot off of Ullmark’s glove and into the back of the net.

Rielly (8) and Marner (9) tabbed the assists on Matthews’ second goal of the night and the Leafs led, 3-1, at 18:54 of the second period.

Through 40 minutes of action, the Maple Leafs led, 3-1, on the scoreboard and in shots on goal, 27-21, including an, 18-8, advantage in the second period alone.

Toronto also held the advantage in takeaways (5-4) and faceoff win% (55-45), while the Bruins led in blocked shots (12-5), giveaways (12-4) and hits (20-16).

The Maple Leafs were 2/4 on the power play, while the Bruins were 1/2 on the skater advantage after two periods.

Tavares hooked Pastrnak 32 seconds into the third period, but the Bruins were not successful on the ensuing power play.

Instead, shortly after emerging from the penalty box, Tavares (6) slipped a rebound under Ullmark to give Toronto a, 4-1, lead at 2:53 of the third period.

William Nylander (5) and Rasmus Sandin (4) had the assists on Tavares’ second goal of the game.

Almost midway through the final frame, Pastrnak (3) rocketed a one-timer through Campbell’s six-hole after Marchand entered the zone, cut in and fed Pastrnak for the goal.

Marchand (10) had the only assist on Pastrnak’s goal and the Bruins trailed, 4-2, at 8:29 of the third period.

Michael Bunting tripped Clifton at 15:44, but Boston couldn’t take advantage of the resulting skater advantage.

With 1:43 remaining in the game, Cassidy pulled his netminder for an extra attacker, but things did not go as he planned as Marner (3) quickly pocketed an empty net goal to extend Toronto’s lead to three-goals once again.

Tavares (6) and Alexander Kerfoot (4) tallied the assists on Marner’s empty net goal at 19:17 of the third period and at the final horn the Leafs had won, 5-2.

The Maple Leafs finished Saturday night’s action leading in blocked shots (16-13), as well as in faceoff win% (51-49), while the B’s exited Scotiabank Arena with the advantage in shots on goal (44-36), including a, 23-9, advantage in the third period alone.

Boston also wrapped the night up leading in giveaways (15-11) and hits (32-22).

Toronto went 2/4 and Boston went 1/4 on the power play in Saturday night’s, 5-2, win for the Maple Leafs.

The B’s fell to 5-2-0 (1-2-0 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal, 0-2-0 (0-2-0 on the road) when tied after one period and 0-3-0 (0-3-0 on the road) when trailing after two periods this season.

The Maple Leafs, meanwhile, rose to 4-3-1 (3-1-1 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 2-2-0 (2-1-0 at home) when tied after the first period and 4-0-0 (4-0-0 at home) when leading after the second period in 2021-22.

The Bruins return to TD Garden for a two-game homestand next Tuesday and Thursday against the Ottawa Senators and Edmonton Oilers, respectively, prior to going to New Jersey next Saturday for a road game against the Devils.

Boston hosts the Montréal Canadiens for the first time since the 2019-20 season on Nov. 14th.

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NHL Nick's Net

Coyle helps Bruins beat Panthers, 3-2, in shootout

The Boston Bruins scored first, scored last and scored the only shootout goal in their, 3-2, shootout victory over the Florida Panthers at TD Garden on Saturday.

Charlie Coyle notched the only tally in the shootout, while Linus Ullmark (3-1-0, 2.23 goals-against average, .927 save percentage in four games played) made 33 saves on 35 shots against in the win for Boston.

Florida netminder, Spencer Knight (2-0-1, 1.96 goals-against average, .929 save percentage in three games played) stopped 31 out of 33 shots faced in the shootout loss– snapping the Panthers’ winning streak at eight games.

The Bruins improved to 4-3-0 (eight points) on the season and in command of 6th place in the Atlantic Division, while Florida fell to 8-0-1 (17 points), but remained in command of 1st place the Atlantic.

Nick Foligno (upper body) and Anton Blidh (upper body) remained out of the lineup for Boston, while Craig Smith returned to action after missing the last three games with an undisclosed injury.

With Smith back into the fold, Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy started the night reuniting Coyle with his familiar wingers, Taylor Hall and Smith on the second line.

Midway through the first period, however, Smith was promoted to the first line alongside Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, while David Pastrnak took over Smith’s usual role on the second line.

Erik Haula centered the third line with Jake DeBrusk on his left wing and Curtis Lazar on his right wing, while Tomáš Nosek controlled the fourth line with Trent Frederic and Karson Kuhlman on his wings.

Derek Forbort started the night on the first defensive pairing with Charlie McAvoy, while Matt Grzelcyk and Brandon Carlo rounded out the top-four defenders.

Connor Clifton rejoined the lineup on the third pairing with Mike Reilly after Jakub Zboril took Clifton’s spot in Thursday night’s, 3-0, loss to the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena.

Jack Studnicka joined Oskar Steen and Zboril as Boston’s shot list of healthy scratches with Foligno and Blidh out due to injury.

Prior to the game, both teams wore special warmup jerseys to honor Jimmy Hayes, who tragically died on Aug. 23rd at the age of 31. Hayes played for both the Panthers and Bruins in his career and was also honored with a tribute video by the Bruins and a moment of silence prior to the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” as traditionally performed by Todd Angilly.

Florida wore jerseys that were all No. 12 and read “Broadway” on the nameplate, while Boston wore their own jerseys with “Hayesy” in place of the regular player names.

Both sets of warmup jerseys are being auctioned with proceeds benefiting a charity chosen by the Hayes family, as well as both teams.

Bid on Bruins warmup jerseys from Saturday night or Panthers warmup jerseys at the respective teams’ site.

An oddity occurred at puck drop, when the Bruins had four skaters with letters on the front of their jersey denoting captain and alternate captain status.

Bergeron had his usual “C” as Boston’s captain, while Marchand, McAvoy and Carlo each had an “A” as the team’s alternate captains.

In accordance with the National Hockey League rulebook, you can only have three alternates in a game where your captain is not present (or you don’t have one altogether), so the “A” on McAvoy’s sweater became the sacrificial lamb for the night during the first intermission.

It was a simple mistake (but fun if you notice the little nuances of the game) and ultimately costs the team nothing when it happens. Well, except for the unstitching part.

Carry on.

Late in the opening frame, Brandon Montour caught Smith away from the puck and received an interference minor at 15:33 of the first period.

Boston’s first power play, however, couldn’t get anything going, but generated enough momentum to dominate the attacking zone in the minutes leading up to the first intermission.

As a result of Lazar’s effort to keep the puck in the zone before heading off the ice to complete a line change, Hall setup Coyle (3) for a snap shot over Knight’s glove from the dot to give the Bruins the, 1-0, lead at 19:18 of the first period.

Hall (2) and Lazar (1) tallied the assists on the goal, which gave Hall his 600th career NHL point as a result of the primary assist.

After 20 minutes of action Saturday night, the B’s led, 1-0, on the scoreboard and led in shots on goal, 14-13.

Florida held the advantage in blocked shots (6-3) and hits (11-10), while Boston led in takeaways (4-2), as well as faceoff win percentage (58-42).

Each team had three giveaways aside, while only the Bruins had seen any time on the skater advantage heading into the dressing room for the first intermission and were 0/1 prior to the middle frame.

Less than a minute into the second period, Anthony Duclair (6) tied it, 1-1, on a pump fake while crashing the net before roofing the puck over Ullmark’s glove and under the bar.

Carter Verhaeghe (3) and Aaron Ekblad (5) recorded the assists on Duclair’s goal as the Panthers evened things up 47 seconds into the second period.

Midway through the middle frame, Verhaeghe hooked DeBrusk and was sent to the penalty box at 12:37 as a result, but once more Boston’s power play was powerless as Florida killed off Verhaeghe’s minor.

Entering the second intermission, the score was tied, 1-1, while the Panthers were outshooting the Bruins, 28-24, including a, 15-10, advantage in the second period alone for Florida.

The B’s maintained the advantage in takeaways (6-5), hits (21-18) and faceoff win% (64-36), while the Panthers led in blocked shots (11-6) and giveaways (6-5) through 40 minutes of play.

Once more, the Panthers had yet to see any time on the power play through two periods, while Boston was 0/2 on the skater advantage.

Midway through the final frame, Coyle tripped Owen Tippett and presented Florida with their first power play of the night at 7:43 of the third period.

It didn’t take the Panthers long to capitalize on the ensuing 5-on-4 advantage as Florida won the offensive zone faceoff back to the point where Ekblad quickly worked the puck to Jonathan Huberdeau before finding Aleksander Barkov (5) for the catch and release goal while Ullmark was behind the play.

Huberdeau (8) and Ekblad (6) tallied the assists on Barkov’s power-play goal and the Panthers led for the first time of the night, 2-1, at 7:49.

Moments later, Verhaeghe went back to the box– this time for hooking Smith at 13:17 of the third period– and Boston’s power play finally converted on the ensuing opportunity.

McAvoy (1) snuck in from the point to the slot to receive a tape-to-tape pass from Marchand before sending the puck into the twine on a catch and release goal of his own to tie the game, 2-2, at 13:35.

Marchand (4) and Hall (3) had the assists– giving Marchand his 400th career assist in the process and becoming the 10th player in Bruins franchise history to notch at least 400 helpers with Boston.

The 33-year-old winger is now two assists away from tying Terry O’Reilly (402) for the 9th-most in franchise history.

At the horn, 60 minutes of regulation was not enough for the Bruins and Panthers, who were tied, 2-2, on the scoreboard, despite Florida leading in shots on goal, 35-32, while Boston rallied to an, 8-7, advantage in shots on net in the third period alone.

The Panthers held the advantage in blocked shots (13-9), while the B’s led in takeaways (10-8), hits (28-25) and faceoff win% (61-39). Both teams had seven giveaways each after three periods of play.

With no penalties having been called in overtime, Florida finished 1/1 on the power play, while Boston went 1/3 on the skater advantage Saturday night.

Cassidy sent out Bergeron, Marchand and McAvoy to start overtime, while Panthers interim head coach, Andrew Brunette, countered with Barkov, Huberdeau and Ekblad.

Overtime brought quite a few trips up and down the ice for both teams, but only resulted in one shot on goal in the five minutes of 3-on-3 action.

It did not go in, thus necessitating a shootout.

After 65 minutes of action, the score remained even, with the Panthers leading in shots on goal, 35-33, despite trialing Boston, 1-0, in shots on net in overtime alone.

Before the shootout commenced, Florida wrapped up the night leading in blocked shots (14-11) and giveaways (9-7), while the Bruins led in hits (28-25) and faceoff win% (63-37).

The Panthers shot first in the shootout, sending out Huberdeau to kick things off in the first round of the 1-on-1 action, but Ullmark stoned him cold with the right pad.

DeBrusk followed with a shot into Knight’s chest as the two teams were even, 0-0, through one round of the shootout.

Brunette elected Barkov to shoot next as the Florida captain waltzed to the center ice faceoff dot, then skated towards Ullmark with tremendous stickhandling skills before firing a shot attempt wide of the net to the Bruins netminder’s right side.

Cassidy sent Coyle out for Boston’s second shootout attempt and No. 13 in black and gold burst into the zone with speed before cooling things down to a skillful glide, going backhand then pulling the puck to his forehand for the wraparound Knight’s outstretched pad– giving Boston the go-ahead shootout goal.

Florida’s fate in their undefeated start to the regular season rested in the hands of Tippett as the young skater made his way towards Ullmark before wiring a shot into the Bruins goaltender’s glove from the slot.

Boston didn’t need to send out a third shooter as Ullmark had beaten Florida’s first three shots in the shootout, yielding the victory to the Bruins, 3-2, on the final scoreboard.

The Bruins improved to 1-0 in shootouts (1-0 past regulation) this season, while the Panthers fell to 0-1 in shootouts (2-1 past regulation) in 2021-22.

Last season, the B’s went 4-5 in overtime and 4-2 in shootouts (8-7 past regulation).

Boston improved to 4-1-0 (3-0-0 at home) when scoring the game’s first goal, 4-0-0 (3-0-0 at home) when leading after the first period and 2-1-0 (2-0-0 at home) when tied after two periods this season.

Florida fell to 2-0-1 (0-0-1 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 0-0-1 (0-0-1 on the road) when trailing after the first period and 2-0-1 (1-0-1 on the road) when tied after two periods in 2021-22.

The Bruins went 4-3-0 in the month of October and will begin November with a matchup against the Detroit Red Wings on home ice next Thursday before hitting the road to face the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena on Nov. 6th.

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NHL Nick's Net

Bruins beat Sharks in first meeting in almost two years

Jake DeBrusk’s second period goal proved to be the game-winner as the Boston Bruins withstood a third period surge and held off the San Jose Sharks in a, 4-3, victory at TD Garden on Sunday afternoon.

Linus Ullmark (2-0-0, 2.00 goals-against average, .935 save percentage in two games played) turned aside 23 out of 26 shots against in the win for the Bruins.

Meanwhile, Adin Hill (3-1-0, 2.93 goals-against average, .890 save percentage in four games played) and James Reimer (1-0-0, 0.65 goals-against average, .980 save percentage in two games played) split the effort in the loss for the Sharks.

Hill made 10 saves on 14 shots faced for a .714 save percentage in 25:41 time on ice before he was replaced by Reimer, who stopped all 20 shots against in relief.

Boston improved to 3-1-0 (six points) on the season and– at the time of this writing– moved into 3rd place in the Atlantic Division, while San Jose dropped to 4-1-0 (eight points) overall and remained in command of 2nd place in the Pacific Division standings.

The B’s also improved to 2-0-0 at home this season, as well as 25-12-5-0 all time against the Sharks in 42 regular season meetings.

The Bruins were without the services of Curtis Lazar (upper body), Nick Foligno (upper body), Anton Blidh (upper body) and Craig Smith (undisclosed) on Sunday afternoon.

Foligno was placed on injured reserve, while Jack Studnicka and Oskar Steen were recalled from the Providence Bruins (AHL). Veteran defender, John Moore, was assigned to Providence as a result.

B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, told reporters prior to Sunday’s matinee with San Jose that Foligno and Blidh are unlikely to play in the team’s upcoming road trip on Wednesday and Thursday.

As a result of the recent rash of injuries, Cassidy continued to tweak to his lineup, promoting Tomáš Nosek to center the second line and sliding Charlie Coyle to the right wing in place of Smith as a result.

Cassidy inserted Steen on the third line in Nosek’s usual spot and returned Trent Frederic to the fourth line left wing with Studnicka at center and Karson Kuhlman on the right wing.

On defense, Connor Clifton returned to his spot on the third pairing alongside Derek Forbort with Moore assigned to Providence.

Jakub Zboril was the only healthy scratch on Sunday.

It only took 28 seconds into the action on Sunday afternoon for David Pastrnak to work the puck to Patrice Bergeron through the trapezoid behind the net before Bergeron found Brad Marchand (4) in the high slot for a catch and release goal to give the Bruins a, 1-0, lead.

Bergeron (2) and Pastrnak (3) notched the assists on Marchand’s goal as Boston got off to a fast start in the first period.

Less than a few minutes later, Clifton worked the puck to Marchand, who sent the rubber biscuit along the point to Forbort (1) for a wrist shot that floated past Hill’s blocker side as a Sharks defender partially screened his own goaltender– extending Boston’s lead to two-goals in the process.

Marchand (3) and Clifton (1) had the assists on Forbort’s first goal in a Bruins uniform and the B’s led, 2-0, at 3:18 of the first period.

Almost midway through the opening frame, Nosek tripped up Tomáš Hertl and cut a rut to the penalty box with a minor infraction at 9:44.

San Jose’s power play, however, could not convert on the skater advantage.

The Sharks got another chance on the power play moments later when Charlie McAvoy caught Logan Couture with a high stick at 13:01, but once again Boston’s penalty kill stood tall as Ullmark kept the puck out of the back of the net.

Shortly after killing off McAvoy’s minor, Brent Burns knocked down Taylor Hall away from the puck and was assessed and interference minor at 15:59– presenting the Bruins with their first power play of the afternoon as a result.

It didn’t take long for Boston to capitalize on the ensuing skater advantage as Bergeron rang a shot off the crossbar before setting up Pastrnak (2) for one of his trademark one-timer power-play goals from the faceoff circle– right above the dot– to give the Bruins a three-goal lead.

Bergeron (3) had the only assist on Pastrnak’s goal as the B’s extended their lead, 3-0, at 16:12 of the first period.

Less than a minute later, however, San Jose got on the scoreboard with a quick break into the attacking zone and a little bit of a give-and-go that resulted in a short side goal for Jasper Weatherby (2) to cut Boston’s lead back to two-goals.

Jonah Gadjovich (1) and Andrew Cogliano (2) tabbed the assists on Weatherby’s goal at 16:44. With the primary assist, Gadjovich recorded his first career National Hockey League point in his second career game (Gadjovich made his season debut with the Sharks on Sunday and appeared in one game last season for the Vancouver Canucks).

After one period of action, the Bruins led the Sharks, 3-1, on the scoreboard despite both teams amassing 11 shots on goal each.

Boston also held the advantage in blocked shots (10-2), while San Jose led the way in takeaways (3-1), giveaways (4-3), hits (13-7) and faceoff win percentage (58-42).

The Sharks were 0/2 and the Bruins were 1/1 on the power play heading into the first intermission.

Early in the middle frame, Forbort sent Steen up through the neutral zone on a rush with DeBrusk before Steen bounced an indirect pass to DeBrusk off the boards.

DeBrusk (2) entered the attacking zone and wired a shot over Hill’s glove to put Boston ahead by three goals once more, 4-1, at 5:41 of the second period.

Steen (1) and Forbort (1) recorded the assists, marking the first career NHL point for Steen and the first assist as a Bruin for Forbort in the process.

Sharks head coach, Bob Boughner, replaced Hill with Reimer as a result of DeBrusk’s goal and tried to spur momentum in San Jose’s favor as a result of the goalie change.

Late in the period, Nick Bonino and Clifton exchanged pleasantries in a post-whistle scrum that resulted in minor penalties for roughing for each player as well as an addition two minutes for slashing for Bonino at 17:29.

As a result, the Bruins finished off most of the rest of the second period on the power play, though they couldn’t muster anything past Reimer as the second intermission commenced.

Through 40 minutes of action, the B’s led, 4-1, on the scoreboard and, 22-16, in shots on goal, including an, 11-5, advantage in the second period alone.

Boston also held the advantage in blocked shots (12-6), while San Jose led in takeaways (8-5), giveaways (10-5), hits (20-13) and faceoff win% (53-48).

The Sharks were still 0/2 on the power play, while the Bruins dropped to 1/2 on the skater advantage heading into the final frame.

With tensions rising as the second period came to an end, Frederic and Jacob Middleton kicked things off in the third period with five-minute majors for fighting at 3:02 of the final frame in the first fight of the 2021-22 calendar for Boston.

Less than a couple of minutes later, Mario Ferraro took an interference penalty at 5:48 of the third period, but the Bruins weren’t able to capitalize on the final power play of the afternoon.

Midway through the third, the Sharks scored a pair of quick goals as Hertl (2) deflected a shot from Marc-Edouard Vlasic at the point amidst net front traffic to pull San Jose back to within two goals, 4-2, at 13:19.

Vlasic (2) and Alexander Barabanov (1) tallied the assists on Hertl’s goal.

Minutes later, Timo Meier (3) redirected a shot from Couture from outside the slot to bring the Sharks to a one-goal deficit, 4-3, at 15:08 of the third period.

Couture (5) and Burns (4) had the assists on Meier’s goal which was reviewed for a high stick, but determined to be a good goal– the call on the ice was confirmed.

Boston’s lead had shrunk to a close, 4-3, game in the dying minutes of Sunday’s action.

Boughner pulled Reimer for an extra attacker with 1:45 remaining in the game and used his timeout with 1:02 left on the clock after a stoppage, but it wasn’t enough to rally his team to force overtime (at least) as the Bruins managed to hold off San Jose’s comeback.

At the final horn, Boston had won, 4-3, and finished the afternoon leading in shots on goal, 34-26, including a, 12-10, advantage in the third period alone.

The Bruins finished the afternoon leading in blocked shots (14-6) and faceoff win% (52-48), while the Sharks exited TD Garden with the advantage in giveaways (16-7) and hits (25-23).

San Jose went 0/2 on the power play, while Boston went 1/3 on the skater advantage on Sunday.

The B’s improved to 3-0-0 (2-0-0 at home) when scoring the game’s first goal, 3-0-0 (2-0-0 at home) when leading after the first period and 2-0-0 (1-0-0 at home) when leading after two periods this season.

The Sharks dropped to 2-1-0 (1-1-0 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 2-1-0 (1-1-0 on the road) when trailing after one period and 0-1-0 (0-1-0 on the road) when trailing after the second period in 2021-22 as a result of the loss.

The Bruins hit the road for a pair of games against the Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes at FLA Live Arena on Wednesday and PNC Arena on Thursday, respectively, before returning home to finish the month of October against the Panthers on Saturday (Oct. 30th).

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NHL Nick's Net

Ullmark makes Bruins debut in, 4-1, win against former team

Linus Ullmark (1-0-0, 1.00 goals-against average, .972 save percentage in one game played) made 35 saves on 36 shots against en route to the, 4-1, victory for the Boston Bruins against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center on Friday.

Ullmark made his Bruins debut against his former team on the road, while Craig Anderson (2-1-0, 2.98 goals-against average, .933 save percentage in three games played) stopped 22 out of 25 shots faced in the loss for Buffalo.

The Bruins improved to 2-1-0 (four points) on the season and into a tie with the Ottawa Senators and Tampa Bay Lightning for 5th place in the Atlantic Division standings, while the Sabres fell to 3-1-0 (six points) and slipped to 2nd in the same division.

Boston went 7-1-0 against Buffalo last season and 3-0-0 against the Sabres in 2019-20.

Nick Foligno (upper body) joined Curtis Lazar (upper body), Jakub Zboril and Connor Clifton on the short list of Bruins players out of the lineup due to injury or simply being a healthy scratch on Friday as B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, juggled his lines.

The top-six forwards remained the same, while Tomáš Nosek was promoted to the third line right wing alongside Erik Haula and Jake DeBrusk, while Anton Blidh slid in on the fourth line left wing as Trent Frederic took over at center with Karson Kuhlman on his right side.

On defense, Cassidy reunited Matt Grzelcyk with Charlie McAvoy on the first pairing, while Derek Forbort began the night alongside John Moore, who made his season debut in place of Clifton.

Early in the action, Brad Marchand worked Rasmus Dahlin along the endboards and freed the puck to Patrice Bergeron in the trapezoid, whereby Bergeron dished a short pass to Marchand for the setup to David Pastrnak (1) on a one-timer that was roofed over Anderson’s shoulder.

Marchand (1) and Bergeron (1) collected the assists on Pastrnak’s 201st career National Hockey League goal as the Bruins jumped out to a, 1-0, lead at 3:49 of the first period.

Late in the period, despite an onslaught in momentum from the Sabres, Boston skated the other way towards their attacking zone as Charlie Coyle moved the puck from Taylor Hall to Nosek (1) on a tic-tac-goal from point blank on the rush to give the Bruins a two-goal lead.

Coyle (1) and Hall (1) tallied the assists on Nosek’s first goal as a Bruin and the B’s led, 2-0, at 15:50 of the opening frame.

Less than a minute later, Boston was shorthanded as Haula slashed Drake Caggiula and cut a rut to the penalty box.

Buffalo’s power play was not effective on their first opportunity.

A couple of minutes later, Moore was assessed a high-sticking minor infraction at 18:34, yielding a power play that would spill into the middle frame for Buffalo, but the Sabres were once again outdone by Boston’s penalty kill in the ensuing special teams action.

Entering the first intermission, the B’s led, 2-0, on the scoreboard, despite trailing the Sabres, 15-7, in shots on goal.

Boston held the advantage in blocked shots (10-1), takeaways (3-1), hits (6-4) and faceoff win percentage (65-35), while Buffalo led in giveaways (4-3).

The Sabres were 0/2 on the power play and the Bruins had yet to see time on the skater advantage heading into the middle period.

Dahlin hooked Pastrnak at 3:42 of the second period and presented Boston with their first power play of the night.

Late in the ensuing advantage, Marchand sent a pass through the slot to Coyle (1) for the catch and release shot past Anderson’s short side as the Sabres goaltender slid across the crease but to no avail as the puck hit the twine.

Marchand (2) and Mike Reilly (1) collected the assists on Coyle’s power-play goal at 5:17, and the B’s led, 3-0, as a result.

As the second intermission drew near, Hall hooked Dylan Cozens and cut a rut to the sin bin at 17:50, but Buffalo couldn’t capitalize on the skater advantage in the dying minutes of the second period.

Through 40 minutes of action, the Bruins led, 3-0, on the scoreboard despite being outshot by the Sabres, 26-18.

Both teams managed to fire 11 shots each on net in the second period alone, however.

Boston still held the advantage in blocked shots (15-5), hits (13-8) and faceoff win% (61-39), while Buffalo led in giveaways (6-4) and both teams managed to amass five takeaways aside.

The Sabres were 0/3 and the Bruins were 1/1 on the power play heading into the final frame.

The Bruins were without Blidh to start the third period and would later tweet that Blidh (upper body) would not return to Friday night’s action about midway through the final frame.

At 7:00 of the third period, Caggiula found himself on the way to the penalty box after hooking Nosek.

This time around, however, Boston did not score on the ensuing power play.

Late in the period, Victor Olofsson (2) scored from close range to disrupt Ullmark’s bid for the shutout in his Boston debut.

Rasmus Asplund (1) and Colin Miller (5) notched the assists on Olofsson’s goal as the Sabres trailed, 3-1, at 14:35 of the third period.

Less than a couple of minutes later, Hall tripped up Miller and presented Buffalo with another power play that went by the wayside at 16:02 of the final period.

With 2:47 remaining in the game, Sabres head coach, Don Granato, pulled his netminder for an extra attacker, but it was to no avail as Hall (2) emerged from the penalty box without issue and cleared the Bruins of what would’ve been an icing call before tapping the rubber biscuit into the empty goal frame for the insurance marker.

Coyle (2) had the only assist on Hall’s goal as the Bruins took a, 4-1, lead at 18:12 of the third period and with it the victory on the road in Buffalo.

At the final horn, Boston had won, 4-1, and finished the night trailing the Sabres in shots on goal, 36-26, including a, 10-8, advantage for Buffalo in the third period alone.

The Bruins wrapped up the night leading in blocked shots (22-6), hits (14-12) and faceoff win% (63-37), while Buffalo exited their own building leading in giveaways (8-4).

The Sabres went 0/4 on the power play, while Boston went 1/2 on the skater advantage Friday night.

As a result of the win, the Bruins improved to 2-0-0 (1-0-0 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal, 2-0-0 (1-0-0 on the road) when leading after the first period and 1-0-0 (1-0-0 on the road) when leading after two periods this season.

Buffalo, meanwhile, fell to 2-1-0 (2-1-0 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 2-1-0 (2-1-0 at home) when trailing after the first period and 0-1-0 (0-1-0 at home) when trailing through two periods in 2021-22.

Boston returns home to host the San Jose Sharks on Sunday before heading back on the road for a pair of games against the Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes next Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.

After swinging through Sunrise, Florida and Raleigh, North Carolina, the Bruins finish the month of October on home ice against the Panthers next Saturday (Oct. 30th).

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NHL Nick's Net

Bruins open 2021-22 season with, 3-1, victory over Dallas

Brad Marchand kicked things off with a rare feat in the National Hockey League– opening a season with a penalty shot goal– before adding a late empty net goal for insurance in the Boston Bruins’, 3-1, win against the Dallas Stars at TD Garden on Saturday.

For the first time in nine years, a goaltender other than Tuukka Rask served as the starter for Boston on Opening Night, while Jeremy Swayman also became the first Bruins rookie to earn the start since Blaine Lacher did just that on Jan. 22, 1995, in the lockout shortened 48-game 1994-95 season.

Swayman (1-0-0, 1.00 goals-against average, .964 save percentage in one game played) turned aside 27 out of 28 shots faced in the win for Boston.

Meanwhile, Stars netminder, Braden Holtby (0-1-0, 2.26 goals-against average, .939 save percentage in two games played), made 37 saves on 39 shots against for a .949 save percentage in the loss.

With the win, the Bruins kicked off their season 1-0-0 (2 points) and moved into a tie for sixth place in the Atlantic Division with the Ottawa Senators, while Dallas fell to 1-1-0 (4 points) and tied for third in the Central Division with the Colorado Avalanche.

Curtis Lazar (upper body) missed the Opening Night action as he remains week-to-week since sustaining an injury during the preseason.

Boston captain, Patrice Bergeron, centered the first line in his usual role between Marchand and David Pastrnak on his wings, while Taylor Hall and Craig Smith surrounded Charlie Coyle on the second line.

Bruins newcomers, Erik Haula and Nick Foligno were slotted on the third line at center and right wing, respectively, while Jake DeBrusk suited up at left wing.

Tomas Nosek centered the fourth line in his Boston debut with Trent Frederic on his left and Karson Kuhlman on his right side.

Derek Forbort made his Bruins debut on the first defensive pairing alongside the newly extended, $76 million richer, Charlie McAvoy, while Mike Reilly was paired with Brandon Carlo and Matt Grzelcyk suited up alongside Connor Clifton.

In the crease, Linus Ullmark served as Swayman’s backup.

John Moore, Jakub Zboril and Anton Blidh joined Lazar on the short list of healthy scratches and injured players for Boston.

Not much was happening until about midway through the opening frame as the Bruins dominated in shots on goal, while end-to-end play ensued.

Then, at 9:35 of the first period, former Minnesota Wild turned Stars defender, Ryan Suter, hooked DeBrusk and was assessed a minor infraction.

Boston’s ensuing power play was cut short, however, as Smith tripped up Andrej Sekera along the endboards at 10:58.

The two teams skated at 4-on-4 for about 37 seconds before Dallas earned an abbreviated power play that went by the wayside.

Late in the period, Marchand skated towards Holtby on a breakaway with Suter hot on his tail, whereby Suter promptly held Marchand’s stick denying No. 63 in black and gold of a scoring opportunity while on the breakaway– yielding a penalty shot for Boston at 17:38.

Marchand (1) skated towards the crease with speed and beat Holtby with a clean shot above the pad, but under the blocker to give the Bruins the, 1-0, lead on a penalty shot goal.

It was the first penalty shot goal in a season opener for Boston since now current assistant coach, Chris Kelly, scored on a penalty shot goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Oct. 3, 2013.

Marchand’s penalty shot goal in a season opener was also just the third instance of such an Opening Night goal in league history as Mats Sundin had done so first with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Oct. 4, 2006, prior to Kelly’s penalty shot goal in 2013, and Marchand’s on Saturday night.

About a minute later, Roope Hintz caught a skate to the face and bled profusely as he skated off the ice and went down the tunnel. Hintz later returned to the game after the first intermission.

The Bruins presented the Stars with another power play opportunity to close out the opening frame as McAvoy smothered the puck with his hand, yielding a delay of game infraction at 19:08.

Once more, however, Dallas’ power play unit couldn’t get anything going as the horn sounded to signal the end of the first period with Boston ahead on the scoreboard, 1-0, and in shots on goal, 17-4.

The Bruins also held the advantage in hits (15-14), while the Stars led in blocked shots (3-2), takeaways (3-2), giveaways (5-2) and faceoff win percentage (54-46).

Dallas was 0/2 on the power play while the B’s were 0/1 heading into the middle frame.

Jacob Peterson caught Pastrnak away from the puck and was sent to the penalty box with an interference minor to kick things off at 4:51 of the second period, but Boston’s power play– like Dallas’ special teams– couldn’t get anything past Holtby on the skater advantage.

Shortly thereafter, Luke Glendening (1) capitalized on some open space in the slot where he received a pass from Tanner Kero before wiring a shot past Swayman to tie the game, 1-1, after the Bruins botched a clearing attempt in their own zone.

Kero (1) had the only assist on Glendening’s first goal in a Stars uniform at 9:15 of the second period.

Almost two minutes later, Jamie Benn cross checked Smith and cut a rut to the sin bin at 11:29, but Boston’s resulting power play was cut short by a hook when McAvoy tugged his stick around Glendening at 12:40.

Once more, the two teams skated at 4-on-4 before a brief power play for the Stars– which later turned into a short 5-on-3 advantage for Dallas as Marchand tripped Esa Lindell behind the Stars’ own net at 14:30.

Dallas couldn’t send another puck behind Swayman, however.

Through 40 minutes of action at TD Garden on Saturday night, the Bruins and Stars were tied, 1-1, on the scoreboard despite Boston leading in shots on goal, 28-14, including an, 11-9, advantage in the second period alone.

Dallas led in blocked shots (9-7), takeaways (4-3), hits (25-19) and faceoff win% (51-49), while Boston led in giveaways (7-6) after two periods.

The Stars were 0/4 and the Bruins were 0/3 on the power play heading into the second intermission.

Early in the final frame, Haula rushed into the attacking zone before dropping a pass for Foligno, whereby the Bruins winger flung the rubber biscuit towards the net as DeBrusk cycled down low.

Foligno’s initial attempt couldn’t get through, but DeBrusk (1) collected the loose puck and slipped it through Holtby to give Boston a, 2-1, lead at 4:43 of the third period, as well as Foligno (1) and Haula (1) their first points in a Bruins uniform with the primary and secondary assists, respectively.

Midway through the period, Foligno interfered with Alexander Radulov, but the Stars couldn’t muster anything on the ensuing power play opportunity at 11:12.

Hintz hooked Forbort at 14:25, but Boston’s bench miscalculated the number of skaters on the ice and was assessed a bench minor for too many men at the whistle, resulting in two minutes of 4-on-4 action.

With 2:05 remaining in the game, Stars head coach, Rick Bowness, pulled Holtby for an extra attacker, but it wasn’t enough to keep the puck in Dallas’ possession for a late comeback as Marchand (2) emerged from the neutral zone with plenty of space and time to assure the Bruins of the victory with an empty net goal at 18:23 of the third period.

Pastrnak (1) had the only assist on the goal as Marchand made it, 3-1, Boston.

Holtby vacated his crease for an extra skater with about 1:14 remaining and then again with about 38.3 seconds left in the game as Reilly sent the puck out of play for an automatic delay of game penalty at 19:21.

At the final horn, the Bruins had won, 3-1, and finished the night leading in shots on goal, 40-28, despite Dallas leading a valiant effort in the third period with a, 14-12, advantage in shots on goal in the final frame alone.

The Stars left Boston leading in blocked shots (11-8), giveaways (11-7), hits (33-25) and faceoff win% (53-47).

Dallas went 0/6, while the Bruins went 0/3 on the power play in their season opener.

The B’s improved to 1-0-0 (1-0-0 at home) when scoring the game’s first goal, 1-0-0 (1-0-0 at home) when leading after the first period and 1-0-0 (1-0-0 at home) when tied after two periods in 2021-22.

The Stars, meanwhile, fell to 0-1-0 (0-1-0 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 0-1-0 (0-1-0 on the road) when trailing after one period and 1-1-0 (1-1-0 on the road) when tied after two periods this season.

The Bruins hit the road for their first road trip of the 2021-22 season with a pair of games next week.

Boston heads to Wells Fargo Center next Wednesday to take on the Philadelphia Flyers before venturing up to KeyBank Center to square off with the Buffalo Sabres next Friday.

The B’s return home to TD Garden on Oct. 24th against the San Jose Sharks.

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Colorado Avalanche 2021-22 Season Preview

2020-21 record 39-13-4, 82 points

1st in the Honda NHL West Division

Eliminated in the Second Round by Vegas

Additions: F Darren Helm, F Mikhail Maltsev (acquired from NJD), F Dylan Sikura, D Jordan Gross, D Jack Johnson (signed to a PTO), D Kurtis MacDermid (acquired from SEA), D Stefan Matteau, D Roland McKeown, D Ryan Murray, G Darcy Kuemper (acquired from ARI)

Subtractions: F Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (signed with TBL), F Matt Calvert (retired), F Joonas Donskoi (expansion, SEA), F Sheldon Dries (signed with VAN), F Ty Lewis (retired), F Liam O’Brien (signed with Tucson Roadrunners, AHL), F Brandon Saad (signed with STL), F Miikka Salomäki (SHL), F Carl Söderberg (SHL), F Mike Vecchione (signed with WSH), D Kyle Burroughs (signed with VAN), D Ryan Graves (traded to NJD), D Patrik Nemeth (signed with NYR), D Dan Renouf (signed with DET), D Conor Timmins (traded to ARI), G Philipp Grubauer (signed with SEA), G Peyton Jones (signed with Colorado Eagles, AHL), G Adam Werner (signed with CGY)

Still Unsigned: F Travis Barron, G Devan Dubnyk

Re-signed: F Tyson Jost, F Gabriel Landeskog, F Jayson Megna, F Kiefer Sherwood, D Dennis Gilbert, D Cale Makar, G Jonas Johansson

Offseason Analysis: If next spring doesn’t bring the desired results to Colorado, it’ll be 20 years since the Avalanche last made an appearance in the Western Conference Final.

Back in 2002, the Detroit Red Wings were in the prime of their dominance and the Red Wings-Avalanche rivalry was red hot as the two teams went at it for not only regular season titles, but Stanley Cup rings as well.

Colorado had won in 1996 and 2001, Detroit won in 1997, 1998 and would do so again in 2002, as well as 2008– five years after Patrick Roy played his last National Hockey League game.

In the 2002 Western Conference Final, the defending Stanley Cup champion Avs were once again the team to beat, but the Red Wings took the series in seven games and went on to win the Cup.

Since then, both teams have had a bit of a falling out.

When Joe Sakic took over as General Manager of the Avalanche, the goal was simple– return the franchise to its glory days.

The bump in the road that was the 2016-17 season brought the team the 4th overall pick after losing in the draft lottery, yet at 4th overall in 2017, Colorado selected their biggest game-changing defender since the acquisition of Ray Bourque in Cale Makar.

Sakic turned his attention to a Makar extension when it seemed like things had gone south with keeping captain, Gabriel Landeskog, in town.

The 22-year-old defender signed a six-year extension worth $9.000 million per season after finishing second in Norris Trophy voting to New York Rangers defender, Adam Fox, for the 2020-21 season.

Makar had 44 points (eight goals, 36 assists) in 44 games– exactly a point-a-game in his sophomore campaign, limited again due to injury after amassing 12-38–50 totals in 57 games in his first NHL season in 2019-20.

Sakic signed Makar to an extension on July 24th and then in the 11th hour as free agency drew near, signed Landeskog to an eight-year extension worth $7.000 million per season.

The 28-year-old captain was Colorado’s 2011 1st round pick (2nd overall) and has 218-294–512 totals in 687 games since making his league debut in the 2011-12 season with the Avs.

Landeskog had a promising 52-point season (22 goals, 30 assists) in 82 games in his first year in the league, then the 2012-13 48-game lockout shortened season kept him to 9-8–17 totals in 36 games.

The Avalanche missed out on the playoffs from 2011-13, but in 2014, Colorado squared off against the Minnesota Wild in the First Round– only to lose in seven games.

That playoff series, however, was the first taste of playoff hockey for Nathan MacKinnon and went decently for Landeskog as well.

After amassing 65 points (26 goals, 39 assists) in 81 games in the regular season, Landeskog had 3-1–4 totals in the seven-game series against the Wild.

Then his production dropped to 59 points in 82 games in 2014-15, and 53 points in 75 games in 2015-16– coinciding with Colorado’s fall from grace.

In the dismal 2016-17 campaign for the Avalanche, in which the team amassed 48 points on the season with a 22-56-4 record, Landeskog had just 33 points (18 goals, 15 assists) and had a minus-25 rating.

But the Avs have made the playoffs every season since then– succumbing to the Nashville Predators in six games in the 2018 First Round, bowing out to the San Jose Sharks in seven games in the 2019 Second Round, losing to the Dallas Stars in seven games in the 2020 Second Round and dropping out in six games against the Vegas Golden Knights in the 2021 Second Round.

In that span, Landeskog’s had a career resurgence. He had 62 points in 78 games in 2017-18, 75 points in 73 games in 2018-19, 44 points in 54 games while battling injury and the COVID-19 pandemic shortened regular season in 2019-20, as well as 52 points in 54 games in last season’s 56-game regular season schedule.

Some say his resurgence can be accredited to the emergence of Colorado’s dominant first line with MacKinnon at center, Landeskog at left wing and Mikko Rantanen at right wing, but then how can that attribute to his own individual playoff success?

Landeskog had seven points (four goals, three assists) in six postseason games in 2018, 3-5–8 totals in Colorado’s 12-game 2019 Stanley Cup Playoff experience, 2-11–13 totals in 14 games during their 2020 Stanley Cup Playoff bubble run and 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in ten games in the Avalanche’s 2021 postseason run.

It’s plain to see that whereas MacKinnon is the superstar forward, Landeskog is the lifeblood of the organization– both as the captain and as a clutch performer when it matters most.

Landeskog’s reasonable cap hit should take some pressure off of Sakic as he negotiates extensions with MacKinnon after the 2022-23 season and Rantanen after the 2024-25 season, when the salary cap ceiling is expected to have risen due to the increased revenue from the current U.S. broadcasting rights packages.

Two big pieces were taken care of, so naturally Sakic set his sights on Philipp Grubauer… …who chose to leave for the Seattle Kraken in free agency.

Grubauer signed a six-year contract worth $5.900 million per season with the Kraken on July 28th– the day that free agency began and a week after Seattle claimed Joonas Donskoi from the Avs in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft.

Last season, Grubauer went 30-9-1 in 40 games played, had seven shutouts (tied for the most with New York Islanders goaltender, Semyon Varlamov) and amassed a 1.95 goals-against average, as well as a .922 save percentage in that span.

It was a breakout year for the 29-year-old goaltender, so why not cash in while you can?

The downside for Colorado, however, is that it left them briefly with uncertainty in the crease until they acquired Darcy Kuemper from the Arizona Coyotes later that same day.

Sakic worked the phones quite a bit this summer between agents and fellow general managers.

On July 15th, Colorado swapped defender, Ryan Graves, with the New Jersey Devils for forward, Mikhail Maltsev, and a 2021 2nd round pick (from NYI via NJD- 61st overall, Sean Behrens).

On July 27th, Sakic sent a 2023 4th round pick to the Kraken for defender, Kurtis MacDermid, whose father, Paul, played for the Québec Nordiques from 1993-95.f

After losing Grubauer to Seattle in free agency, Sakic dealt defender, Conor Timmins, a 2022 1st round pick and a conditional 2024 3rd round pick to the Coyotes for Kuemper.

Much like Linus Ullmark going from the Buffalo Sabres to the Boston Bruins via free agency this summer, it’s hard to tell what to expect out of Kuemper in an Avalanche uniform.

He should be better considering the overall quality and depth of defenders on Colorado’s blue line a la Ullmark’s upgrade from Buffalo’s defense to Boston’s defense in front of him.

That said, Kuemper hasn’t really been a starting goaltender for long. It’s a risk, like when Colorado sought after Grubauer in the first place from the Washington Capitals a few summers ago.

In his first season as a starter, Kuemper went 27-20-8 in 55 games with Arizona– notching five shutouts and recording a 2.33 goals-against average, as well as a .925 save percentage. Good stuff.

In 2019-20, he went 16-11-2 in 29 games, had two shutouts and yielded a 2.22 goals-against average, as well as a .928 save percentage.

Last season, he went 10-11-3 in 27 games, dropping to a 2.56 goals-against average, a .907 save percentage and once again recording two shutouts.

Kuemper is 31-years-old and made his league debut with the Minnesota Wild back in the 2012-13 season– the same season that Grubauer broke into the league with the Capitals, albeit two years younger in age.

How will a full 82-game schedule as the starting netminder with Pavel Francouz returning from an injury that prevented him from being the backup in Colorado last season impact Kuemper’s performance in the crease?

There’s kind of a lot at stake here. No pressure or anything, but the Avalanche are trying to win the Cup now rather than later.

Speaking of “win-now” mode, the loss of Donskoi, Brandon Saad and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare puts Colorado in a difficult spot.

They don’t have the dominant bottom-six players on paper that they had last season that made them as much of a threat as the Golden Knights or Tampa Bay Lightning.

Instead, they’ll be relying on the emergence of youth in Alex Newhook, Logan O’Connor and Maltsev mixed with a combination of young players getting better in Tyson Jost and J.T. Compher, as well as a veteran in Darren Helm.

Much like how Saad brought in Cup winning experience to the dressing room last season, however, Helm is doing so for the Avs this season as he happened to be on the 2008 Stanley Cup champion Red Wings– appearing in seven games in the 2007-08 regular season, then 18 postseason games for Detroit in their 2008 Cup run.

It was Helm’s first taste of NHL action and he already was on top of the mountain. Now 34, he’s looking for more.

Offseason Grade: B-

Sakic has a way of taking reclamation projects and maximizing their production in Colorado, though we’ll see if the same effect can be applied to Stefan Matteau and Ryan Murray on the blue line, as well as other moves already mentioned.

The Avalanche have depth, but do they have enough depth?

Despite winning the Presidents’ Trophy last season, Colorado finished the 2020-21 regular season with 39 wins– one shy of Vegas (40 wins) for the most in the league– and eliminated in the Second Round by that same Golden Knights team (the Avs won the tiebreaker with 35 regulation wins to Vegas’ 30).

That said most of the Avalanche roster remains the same and there’s the feeling that one of these year’s they’ll get over the hump and back into the later end of the postseason.

Super teams don’t always win, but having a (super) consistent performance down the stretch and in the playoffs does and that’s what the Lightning have done best for the last two years– turning it on when it counts and sustaining the pressure.