The DTFR Duo talk a little college hockey, other stats from the week, the CWHL folding and NWHL expansion opportunities, as well as hand out more awards and a look at how things should sort out in the Atlantic Division for the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Anthony Mantha scored his first career hat trick in the midst of a five-point night on Sunday as the Detroit Red Wings beat the Boston Bruins, 5-3, at Little Caesars Arena.
Mantha became the first Red Wings player to record at least five points in a game against Boston since Steve Yzerman did so on Jan. 14, 1989. Yzerman had two goals and three assists that night.
Red Wings goaltender, Jimmy Howard (22-20-5 record, 3.02 goals against average, .909 save percentage in 52 games played) made 31 saves on 34 shots against for a .912 SV% in the win.
Meanwhile, B’s netminder, Jaroslav Halak (21-11-4, 2.40 GAA, .920 SV% in 39 GP) stopped 22 out of 27 shots faced (.815 SV%) in the loss.
Boston fell to 47-23-9 (103 points) on the season, but remained in control of 2nd place in the Atlantic Division. Detroit improved to 31-38-10 (72 points) and crept over the Buffalo Sabres for 6th in the Atlantic (Detroit leads in regulation-plus-overtime wins, 28-26).
The Red Wings finished the season series with the 2-1-1 advantage.
Midway through the first period, Mantha (20) fired a one-timer over Halak’s glove on the short side to give the Red Wings the lead, 1-0.
Larkin (38) and Tyler Bertuzzi (23) had the assists on Mantha’s first goal of the night at 10:26 of the first period.
A few minutes later, Andreas Athanasiou slashed Krejci and sent the Bruins on their first power play of the night at 13:38. It was unsuccessful and shortly followed by another Boston power play at 17:07 when Christoffer Ehn slashed Backes.
Grzelcyk cut the B’s skater advantage short when he slashed Athanasiou at 19:04 and the two clubs had three seconds of 4-on-4 action before an abbreviated power play for the Red Wings began.
As the seconds ticked away, it appeared as though the Bruins would be shorthanded to start the second period until Mantha (21) slapped another one-timer past Halak at 19:59 of the first period.
Niklas Kronwall (22) and Bertuzzi (24) tallied the assists on Mantha’s power play goal and Detroit led, 2-0, entering the first intermission.
After one period of play, the Red Wings led, 2-0, on the scoreboard and, 9-8, in shots on goal. Detroit also held the advantage in blocked shots (6-5), takeaways (2-1), giveaways (7-0) and hits (4-3), while Boston led in face-off win percentage (56-44).
The Red Wings were 1/2 on the power play entering the second period and the Bruins were 0/2.
Early in the middle frame, Charlie McAvoy sent Krejci up the ice with DeBrusk on a rush. Krejci sent a lead saucer pass to bring DeBrusk behind the Detroit defense and on his own towards the net, whereby DeBrusk (25) roofed a shot over Howard’s blocker to put the B’s on the scoreboard, 2-1.
Krejci (49) and McAvoy (20) had the assists on DeBrusk’s goal at 2:01 of the second period.
McAvoy later sent the puck over the glass and out of play at 8:12 of the second period and received an automatic delay of game penalty.
Marchand slid the puck over to Bergeron, awaiting a return pass while Bergeron dragged the rubber biscuit around Mantha as the Red Wings forward dove in a desperate attempt to breakup a passing lane.
Bergeron pulled the puck to his backhand and sent it across the slot for Marchand (35) to blast a one-timer past Howard as the Detroit goaltender slid across the crease.
The goal was Marchand’s 26th career shorthanded goal and put Marchand in sole possession of the Bruins franchise record for most career shorthanded goals with the club (Rick Middleton is now 2nd with 25).
Bergeron (46) and Carlo (7) notched the assists on Marchand’s shorthanded goal at 9:50 of the second period.
Noel Acciari took exception to the non-call as Witkowski charged an otherwise unsuspecting Nordstrom and exchanged fisticuffs with the Detroit skater.
Both players were assessed five-minute majors for fighting, while Acciari picked up an extra minor penalty for instigating and an automatic ten-minute misconduct as a result at 14:24.
Johansson served Acciari’s minor penalty while the Bruins were shorthanded, but Detroit’s ensuing power play wouldn’t last long as 20 seconds later, Athanasiou was called for interference at 14:44.
Neither team converted on the ensuing 4-on-4 action and abbreviated skater advantage for Boston thereafter.
With one minute remaining in the second period, Miller blasted a shot from the point that Backes (7) tipped behind Howard to give the Bruins their first lead of the night, 3-2.
Miller (7) and Krejci (50) had the assists on Backes’ goal at 19:00 of the second period.
Krejci reached the 50-assist plateau for the third time in his career (51 assists in 2008-09, 50 assists in 2013-14) with the secondary assist on the goal as Boston carried the, 3-2, lead into the second intermission.
Both teams were tied in shots on goal, 17-17, and takeaways, 2-2, after 40 minutes of play, while the Bruins led in blocked shots (15-8), hits (9-8) and face-off win% (53-47). The Red Wings led in giveaways (14-2) through two periods.
Detroit entered the third period 1/4 on the power play, while Boston was 0/3 on the skater advantage.
DeBrusk was penalized for interference 69 seconds into the third period and sent the Red Wings on the power play. Eight seconds later, Detroit tied the game.
Mantha (22) completed his first career hat trick on yet another one-timer– this time after Bertuzzi completed the pass through the low slot– and the Red Wings tied the game, 3-3, at 1:17 of the third period.
Bertuzzi (25) and Athanasiou (21) recorded the primary and secondary assists, respectively, on the goal as the hats were cleaned up off the ice at Little Caesars Arena.
On the ensuing face-off, Kronwall worked the puck up to Athanasiou through the neutral zone as Athanasiou sped into the attacking zone and dropped a pass back to Hirose (1) for the one-timer from the slot.
Hirose notched his first career NHL goal and the Red Wings led, 4-3, at 1:25 of the third period.
Athanasiou (22) and Kronwall (23) had the assists, but Detroit was not done scoring yet.
Midway through the third, Hronek (5) fired a one-timer from the face-off dot to the right of Halak past the Bruins goaltender and into the twine to make it, 5-3, Red Wings.
Mantha (22) notched his fourth point of the evening with the only assist on Hronek’s goal at 12:03 of the third period.
About a minute later, Hirose cut a rut to the penalty box for slashing Coyle at 13:17, but Boston’s power play didn’t capitalize on the skater advantage.
With less than four minutes remaining in regulation, Cassidy pulled Halak in favor of an extra attacker.
At 19:02 of the third period, Larkin (32) put Detroit in command of the, 6-3, victory with an empty net goal that was assisted by Mantha (23) and Hronek (15).
Upon the sound of the final horn, the Red Wings took home two points in a regulation win, despite trailing the Bruins in shots on goal (34-28), blocked shots (16-14) and face-off win% (52-48), but led in giveaways (16-4).
Detroit finished Sunday night 2/5 on the skater advantage, while the B’s went 0/4 on the power play.
Boston finishes the season swinging through Columbus on April 2nd, making a stop in Minnesota on April 4th and wrapping up the regular season on April 6th at home against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Boston Bruins (47-22-9 record, 103 points, 2nd in the Atlantic Division) visit the Detroit Red Wings (30-38-10, 70 points, 7th in the Atlantic Division) at Little Caesars Arena for the final time this season on Sunday.
Boston has points in 17 out of their last 19 meetings against Detroit, amassing a 15-2-2 record in that span. This season, however, the Bruins are 1-1-1 this season against the Red Wings– most recently suffering a, 4-2, loss at TD Garden on Dec. 1st.
The B’s also lost, 3-2, in overtime at Detroit on Nov. 21st and downed the Red Wings, 8-2, on home ice on Oct. 13th this season.
As the season shifts its focus to the month of April and the looming 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Bruins look to wrap up the month of March with ten wins. They are 9-5-0 entering Sunday in March, while the Detroit is 7-6-1 this month.
The Red Wings are coming off a, 4-0, shutout over the New Jersey Devils on Friday, while the Bruins are coming off a, 4-1, loss to the Florida Panthers on Saturday.
Bruce Cassidy is expected to make some lineup adjustments with Kevan Miller (upper body) returning to Cassidy’s blue line after missing the last 16 games and likely will suit up alongside his teammate, Matt Grzelcyk, on the third defensive pairing.
Karson Kuhlman was recalled from the Providence Bruins (AHL) on emergency basis as Boston kicks off a three-game road trip before their final game of the regular season next Saturday at home as Chris Wagner was not on the ice for warmups in Detroit.
With Wagner likely out of the action against the Red Wings, Kuhlman took rushes alongside Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci, with Cassidy reuniting the Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak line as his top line.
After Tuukka Rask allowed three goals against in Saturday’s loss to the Panthers, Cassidy will start Jaroslav Halak (21-10-4 record, 2.33 goals against average, .923 save percentage in 38 games played) in Boston’s second game in as many nights.
As a result, Detroit recalled Dominic Turgeon and Kaden Fulcher from the Grand Rapids Griffins (AHL) with Turgeon, 23, likely to center the fourth line and Fulcher, 20, backing up Jimmy Howard (21-20-5, 3.02 GAA, .909 SV% in 51 GP) in net on Sunday.
Turgeon has 6-13–19 totals in 69 games for the Griffins this season and was the 63rd overall pick of the 2014 NHL Draft by the Red Wings.
Fulcher spent part of this season with the Toledo Walleye (ECHL) and amassed a 15-7-6 record, 3.00 GAA and .899 SV% in 28 games played prior to being reassigned to Grand Rapids. He signed as an undrafted free agent with Detroit in October 2017.
With Glendening missing the action against Boston, the Red Wings will not have a single player play a full 82-game season for the first time since 1996-97 when Steve Yzerman led Detroit in games played with 81.
Bernier was hurt in the second period on Friday and replaced by Howard prior to the start of the third period against New Jersey.
Dylan Larkin leads the Red Wings with 31-37–68 totals in 72 games played this season.
The Dallas Stars and Pittsburgh Penguins swapped familiar assets, while the Toronto Maple Leafs added a defender in a deal with the Los Angeles Kings. Red Kelly’s number is going to be retired (again– this time by the Detroit Red Wings) and we now know the opponents in the 2020 Winter Classic and 2020 Stadium Series games.
Detroit Red Wings forward Andreas Athanasiou scored the game-tying goal in the third period, then added his second goal of the night for the sudden death victory in overtime, 3-2, over the Boston Bruins Wednesday night at Little Caesars Arena.
Jimmy Howard (7-6-2, 2.60 goals against average, .924 save percentage in 15 games played) made 34 saves on 36 shots against for a .944 SV% in the win for Detroit, while Tuukka Rask (4-4-2, 2.79 GAA, .909 SV% in 10 GP) got the start for the Bruins and picked up the loss, despite making 24 saves on 27 shots faced for an .889 SV%.
The Red Wings improved to 10-9-2 (22 points) on the season and leapfrogged the Ottawa Senators for 6th place in the Atlantic Division standings. Boston fell to 11-6-4 (26 points), but improved to 4th place in the Atlantic by virtue of having one game in-hand over the Montreal Canadiens.
Wednesday night was the 300th meeting in Detroit between the two franchises, with the Bruins now holding an all-time record of 86-159-55 in Hockeytown, while the Red Wings are now 8-3-3 in their last 14 home games against Boston.
Detroit is also 9-2-0 in their last 11 games. Boston is 5-4-2 in their last 11 games as a result of the loss.
Patrice Bergeron missed his second straight game after being ruled out for at least four weeks with a sternoclavicular injury sustained in last Friday’s matchup on the road against the Dallas Stars. As a result, Colby Cave was recalled from the Providence Bruins (AHL) ahead of Wednesday’s game in Detroit.
Jakub Zboril was a healthy scratch and ultimately reassigned to Providence during the first intermission.
Among other scratches, Brandon Carlo (upper body), Cave (healthy scratch), John Moore (lower body), Zdeno Chara (lower body- left MCL), Bergeron (upper body), Urho Vaakanainen (concussion) and Charlie McAvoy (concussion) all missed Wednesday night’s action as well.
Mike Green took the game’s only penalty at 13:22 of the first period for tripping Krejci.
The Bruins were not able to convert on the ensuing power play and the game remained tied, 0-0, all the way into the first intermission.
Both teams went to the dressing room with three giveaways each and Boston leading in shots on goal (12-4). Boston also held an advantage in blocked shots (3-2) and takeaways (3-1), while Detroit led in hits (12-6) and face-off win percentage (67-33). The Bruins were 0/1 on the power play in the game’s only skater advantage.
Forsbacka Karlsson (2) notched his second goal of his young NHL career after following up on a rebound that bounced off of Howard and a Detroit defender before Forsbacka Karlsson found the puck back on his stick and jammed it in at 4:08 of the second period.
Boston led, 1-0, but only for about five minutes until Nick Jensen fired a shot from the point that Tyler Bertuzzi (6) redirected through Rask’s five-hole to tie the game, 1-1, while Kampfer failed to tie-up the Red Wings forward (and goal scorer) in front of the goal.
Jensen (4) and Danny DeKeyser (3) had the assists on Bertuzzi’s goal at 9:48 of the second period.
After 40 minutes of play, the Bruins outshot Detroit, 25-13, in a, 1-1, tie. The Red Wings led in blocked shots (7-6), takeaways (4-3), giveaways (10-8), hits (21-12) and face-off win% (51-49) after two periods.
Early in the third period, Sean Kuraly threw the puck on goal as Chris Wagner (2) crashed the net and tabbed the garbage goal to give Boston a 2-1 lead at 6:45 of the third period. Kuraly (3) had the only assist on the goal.
Athanasiou (8) followed up with a quick equalizer at 8:59 after Gustav Nyquist fired a shot up high, glove side, that Rask couldn’t get a full handle on, generating a rebound for Athanasiou’s quick reaction and goal.
Nyquist (14) had the only assist and the game was tied, 2-2.
Through 60 minutes of play, regulation was not enough, despite the Bruins leading the Red Wings in shots on goal (35-25). Detroit actually outshot Boston, 12-10, in the third period and held an advantage in just about every other statistical category, including blocked shots (11-6), giveaways (13-8), hits (29-16) and face-off win% (57-43).
The Bruins, meanwhile, led in takeaways (6-4) entering overtime.
Just 49 seconds into overtime, Athanasiou swooped in on a face-off in the attacking zone to steal the puck after Frans Nielsen took the draw to a stalemate.
Athanasiou (9) then spun in front of the goal and scored from point blank to seal the victory, 3-2, for Detroit. Nielsen (11) had the only assist on the game-winning goal.
At the final horn, the Bruins finished the night leading in shots on goal, 36-27, but trailing on the scoreboard, 3-2. Detroit finished Wednesday’s effort with the advantage in blocked shots (11-6), giveaways (14-8), hits (30-16) and face-off win% (60-40).
Boston is now 1-4 in overtime this season as a result of the loss.
The B’s and Red Wings will meet again in ten days back in Boston, then they won’t meet again this season until March 31, 2019 in Detroit.
For now the Bruins head home after going 1-1-2 on a four-game road trip to face the Pittsburgh Penguins at TD Garden this Friday night. Puck drop is scheduled for a little after 7:30 p.m. ET with Boston playing the first of back-to-back games on back-to-back days at home and on the road in Montreal against the Canadiens on Saturday.
Detroit Red Wings
30-39-13, 73 points, 5th in the Atlantic Division
Subtractions: D Adam Almquist (signed, SHL), F Colin Campbell (signed with Grand Rapids Griffins, AHL), G Jared Coreau (signed with ANA), F Turner Elson (signed with Grand Rapids Griffins, AHL), F Matt Lorito (signed with NYI), G Matej Machovsky (signed, ELH), G Tom McCollum (signed with Milwaukee Admirals, AHL), F Zach Nastasiuk (signed with Charlotte Checkers, AHL), D Xavier Ouellet (buyout, signed with MTL), D Dan Renouf (signed with CAR), F Ben Street (signed with ANA), F Eric Tangradi (signed with NJ)
Offseason Analysis: Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland is standing put this offseason. Tell me if you’ve already heard this story before.
Despite finishing 5th in the Atlantic Division (only two spots out of a playoff spot), Detroit was not at all a playoff contender by any means last season. The same remains true for 2018-19, unfortunately for Red Wings fans.
However, unlike most rebuilding teams this offseason, Detroit had a tremendous draft– landing Filip Zadina at 6th overall. Both Zadina and the Red Wings are ready to prove at least two or three other teams that passed over him wrong.
Holland didn’t just land one great pick that slipped down the order, but two with his second pick of the first round at 30th overall in Joe Veleno.
Re-signing Andreas Athanasiou, Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha protected the Red Wings core, while bringing in Jonathan Bernier as a backup provides stability in the crease behind Jimmy Howard.
Rebuilding is a long, slow process, but Detroit is ready to speed things up a bit as they look to get younger in the right places. One thing that’s holding them back, however, is their commitment to lateral moves during this time period.
Thomas Vanek is back (for now– just wait until the trade deadline, though he really wants to stay in a winged-wheel sweater) and so is Mike Green. Frans Nielsen is still on the books with his NMC/NTC strapped contract and the blueline at Little Caesars Arena continues to age– without Xavier Ouellet in the picture after Holland used a buyout on the 25-year-old defender reaching his prime.
Holland’s plans for next offseason have to include some kind of restructuring on the back end with four defenders aged 32-plus.
Regardless, 2018-19 is poised to be an average disappointment as a placeholder season while Zadina and Co. gain experience. Detroit is at least competitive enough to lose games by one, two or three goals instead of 5-0 blowouts every other night.
Any experience is good experience, but playoff hopes should be on hold for at least one more season Red Wings fans (because otherwise, they’d be making an early exit for sure).
Offseason Grade: C
Ken Holland didn’t do much, but rather just enough to potentially set the Red Wings up for landing a goldmine in the 2019 offseason. With that in mind, Detroit should line themselves up for another high-end draft pick next June and trying to land a top UFA in 2019.
This season, however, the focus remains on finding a focus. Fix an aging defense, find the next Jimmy Howard and set sights on having younger guys inserted into the lineup.
Could Jeff Blashill be on the hotseat this season? Sure. For better or worse. It’s really not the coaching in Detroit that’s the problem. It’s an average to below average roster that’s continuing to age in a tight salary cap (but again, there’s hope for some serious restructuring next offseason).
College hockey is an amazing thing. I would go as far as describing it as the heart of the sport. The players aren’t out on the ice competing for a paycheck, but rather to support their teammates and represent the name on their sweaters. This past Monday and Tuesday, I was fortunate to attend the Great Lakes Invitational. I was reminded why I love college hockey and how it truly has a strong impact on higher levels of the game. Here is a quick recap of the two-day tournament:
Falcons Crash the Party
The Bowling Green Falcons were this year’s Great Lakes Invitational Champions. They achieved this by defeating Michigan in a close matchup Monday night, then by downing Michigan Tech 4-1 the following evening. Goals in the second game for the Falcons were provided by Brett D’Andrea, Connor Ford, John Schilling, and Tyler Spezia. Freshman goaltender Eric Dop played very well between the pipes in the final game, stopping 29-of-30 shots.
The all-tournament team consisted of players from each of the four participants. Forwards included Lukas Craggs of Bowling Green, Cooper Marody from Michigan, and Patrick Khodorenko out of Michigan State. The defense corps were represented by Bowling Green’s Alec Rauhauser and Michigan Tech’s Mitch Reinke. Bowling Green goaltender Eric Dop rounded out the all-tournament team. Craggs was also slated as the tournament MVP, with two goals and three assists during that span.
Hockey in Michigan
Three of the four teams that participated in the invitational were from the Mitten State. Minnesota may proclaim themselves as the “State of Hockey,” but Michigan sure does have their own argument. All of these programs performed well and had bright spots in each of their games. The rosters themselves were made up of many players from Michigan, including eight on the roster of Bowling Green, the only out-of-state team in the tournament.
Little Caesars Arena
If you haven’t had the opportunity to see the NHL’s newest venue, you’re missing out. The design of the perimeter and concourse area make for a modern and clean look. There are several restaurants connected directly to the arena, which make for a great game day experience. At different points, we sat clear at the top, as well as right by the glass, and I don’t think there was a bad seat in the place. The décor was spot-on, filling the venue with rich history and tradition.
Michigan v. Michigan State
Ohio State may be Michigan’s rival in most sports, but in hockey, it’s their inter-state foe, Michigan State. These two teams met in the consolation game, with the Wolverines taking a 6-4 decision. There was plenty of exciting action, including some pushing and shoving after the whistle. These two teams will meet again in the same location for a “Duel in the D” on Saturday, February 10th.
After the New Year, the season has resumed for NCAA Hockey teams around the country. This is the most intriguing point in the season, where teams either stumble and miss the postseason, or they get a massive load of steam rolling forward. Momentum can be a crazing thing in sports. At the moment, the team that represents that is Bowling Green. Their players have a ton of confidence after winning this tournament as the “special invite” team. They face Ferris State in WCHA play this weekend.
Island of Misfit Toys
The second-place Michigan Tech Huskies might have lost the tournament they were hosting, but their supportive fan base surely lifted their spirits. Shout-out to Mitch’s Misfits and their pep band for a great tournament. Even in an NHL facility, they could be heard. At one point, it’s almost certain they were shouting “Go Tech” for two or three minutes straight. Keep those lungs rested and best of luck the rest of the year.
Who raised the first banner in Little Caesars Arena? Well, that would be the Bowling Green Falcons. It was joke on the car ride home that in technicality, the Red Wings won’t be able to say they raised the first banner in their own area. The Great Lakes Invitational banner was lowered after the game and raised following the ceremonies.
Dreams Come True
Although the NCAA is a great pool for the NHL to pick through, not all players have the talent to make it at the next level. This event was an opportunity for some lower-tier players to skate in a game on NHL ice and live out their dreams. One thing that makes the GLI so special is the relationship with the Detroit Red Wings, who have loaned out their home ice since the beginning of the tournament. Seeing the smiles on players’ faces was like watching kids in a candy store, as they scratched an item off their bucket lists.
In the opening round of the Great Lakes Invitational, two WCHA teams took on two squads from the Big Ten. As is traditional, Michigan Tech, Michigan State, and Michigan were all participants in the tournament, while Bowling Green was the final team invited to compete at Little Caesars Arena.
In game one, the Huskies of Houghton squared off against Michigan State. Michigan Tech entered the competition with a 9-7-5 record, while the opposition maintained an 8-9-1 mark on the season.
First Period –
After the drop of the puck, action was fairly evenly matched. Entering into a Michigan State man advantage towards the end of the period, the score was 0-0. As the final seconds of the penalty ticked away, Zach Osburn made a heads-up play and threw a quick shot on net. Robbie Beydoun got a piece of the puck, but it skipped by him for the first goal of the game.
Second Period –
The middle frame of the game was a lot more offensive-minded. Alex Smith evened the score at 2:04 after a shot deflected off of his skate. Referees reviewed the play, but determined there was no kicking motion. Moments later, Jake Lucchini earned the lead for the Huskies. He took a pass from Alex Gillies and ripped a shot past John Lethemon for his 6th goal of the season. Michigan Tech wasn’t done yet, as Gillies would earn a goal of his own to extend the lead. He found himself alone in front of the net and backhanded a shot that found twine. During the closing minutes of the period, Michigan State’s Patrick Khodorenko made a nice play to make it a one-goal game entering the final frame.
Third Period –
The last twenty minutes of the game was all Michigan Tech, as they skated to a victory. The Huskies earned a penalty shot taken by Dylan Steman, but the shot was turned aside by Lethemon. Although the Spartans gained some momentum from the big stop, they were deflated by a goal from Gavin Gould that extended their deficit to 4-2. Late in the period, Jake Jackson buried the empty-netter, solidifying a 5-2 win for Michigan Tech. The final shot count was 32-31 in favor of the Spartans.
During the evening contest, Bowling Green battled against Michigan. The Falcons entered the contest at 8-6-6, while the Wolverines were 7-7-2.
First Period –
The opening frame was controlled by Bowling Green, as they tallied two makers for the lead. Tyler Spezia grabbed a lose puck and sent a back-door shot past Jack LaFontaine for the game’s opening goal. Moment later, Justin Wells sent a harmless wrister on net that found its way past LaFontaine for the 2-0 lead.
Second Period –
Bowling Green continued to keep up the pressure right out of the gate. Just fifteen seconds into the period, Lukas Craggs extended the lead to 3-0. At 3:39 of the second stanza, Connor McDonald found a rebound and slid it past LaFontaine to grow the Falcon’s lead. Craggs earned his second point of the night on that play. Michigan’s Jake Slaker was able to stop the bleeding, as he got the Wolverine’s on the board on his breakaway opportunity.
Third Period –
The final frame of the game is where things got a bit interesting. Slaker gets his second of the night to make it a 4-2 game. The Wolverines used that momentum to carry the play for much of the third period, but that ended when facing a crucial penalty kill. Max Johnson placed a perfect shot over the shoulder of LaFontaine to regain the three-goal lead. Just 25 seconds later, Tony Calderone crashed the Falcon’s crease to make it a 5-3 game. Then, Jack Becker earned his first career goal to make it a one-goal affair. Bednard took Becker’s shot up high, but it floated over his shoulder and rolled into the net. Play would remain back-and-forth for the final few minutes until Michigan pulled their netminder. Craggs shot one into the empty net to end the game 6-4.
In day two of the invitational, Michigan State will take on Michigan, while Bowling Green and Michigan Tech faceoff for the GLI title.
Opening day is always fun (congrats to the Leafs, Blues, Oilers and Flyers for achieving 1-0-0 records, by the way), but I think its safe to say that I actually get more excited for the second day when there’s far more action (don’t even get me started about the first Saturday of the season!).
Tonight, there are eight games on the schedule, starting with three (Nashville at Boston, Montréal at Buffalo [RDS/TSN2] and Colorado at the New York Rangers) at 7 p.m. and a pair (Washington at Ottawa [RDS2] and Minnesota at Detroit [NBCSN]) half an hour later. 8:30 p.m. marks the puck drop of Pittsburgh at Chicago (SN360), while 10 p.m. features the evening’s co-nightcaps: Arizona at Anaheim and Philadelphia at Los Angeles (NBCSN). All times Eastern.
There’s certainly some fantastic games on the schedule, but one in particular has caught my eye.
Yes, we all know Detroit missed the playoffs last season for the first time in 25 years. That narrative was played out for the entirety of the 2016-’17 campaign.
Unfortunately, I think that story overshadowed another equally important one, especially among out-of-town fans: for the first time since December 27, 1979, the Red Wings will no longer call Joe Louis Arena home.
I cannot say I ever had the pleasure of walking into The Joe. Heck, I’ve never even been to Detroit. But for those who have, I can only imagine it was a wonderfully magical experience. Few buildings currently standing in the NHL have borne witness to such prolonged greatness.
C Steve Yzerman scored quite a few of his 692 goals between those unpredictable boards, and Nicklas Lidstrom year in and year out proved his defensive prowess by winning seven Norris Trophies and contributing to four Stanley Cup-winning efforts.
Manny Legace and Chris Osgood are just two of the many heralded goalies to man The Joe’s posts, while few defended his designated area like Bob Probert and his beloved penalty box. In fact, after spending so much of his hockey career defending his fellow Red Wings from Wendel Clark and RW Tie Domi and assuming his spot in the sin bin, Probert’s ashes were scattered in the arena’s penalty box following the club’s final home game last season.
But, unless something dramatic happens to Little Caesars Arena before 7:30 p.m. tonight, the time for Joe Louis Arena (and The Palace at Auburn Hills, for all you basketball fans) has come and gone.
And so, a new chapter in the story that is the Detroit Red Wings begins tonight as this team adjusts to its new home and begins work on building “Hockeytown Dynasty 2.0.”
Unfortunately, I don’t think that chapter gets a good starts tonight, as the Wild should be more than able to spoil the arena’s Grand Opening. Minnesota returns much of a roster that won 12-straight games en route to a 106-point season, including G Devan Dubnyk (40-19-5 record on a .923 save percentage and 2.25 GAA last season), F Mikael Granlund (26-43-69 totals in 2016-’17) and D Ryan Suter (allowed only six even-strength or shorthanded goals last season).
For Detroit, G Jimmy Howard will surely get the opening night start and will be under heavy pressure all night. Even though the Wings added D Trevor Daley, Howard may be the only line of defense considering how much Detroit’s blue line struggled last season. Knowing the Wild fired 30.8 shots-per-game last season, he may be in for a long night.
Offensively, the Red Wings have two sneaky-good top lines in Tomas Tatar–Henrik Zetterberg–Gustav Nyquist and Anthony Mantha–Dylan Larkin–Martin Frk, but the real question will be if these six have enough firepower in them to keep this team relevant all season against some of the best defenses. This game should provide an effective litmus test in determining just that.
I feel pretty safe in predicting a Wild win tonight, especially when seeing some bookies listing Minnesota at a -140 favorite.
By: Nick Lanciani
12:01 PM ET on July 1st (precisely) marks the start of the NHL’s free agency period, so of course, you’ve found yourself scavenging the Internet for the freshest hot takes and the best indications of where players will end up. Likewise, you probably just want to know who’s available out there (and I’m not talking about Tinder).
Well fear not, because I’m here to set things straight with a short series of posts about the Top-5 free agents in every category you can think of (UFA forwards, UFA defensemen, UFA goalies, RFA forwards, RFA defensemen and RFA goalies) in this latest edition of Numbers Game posts. RFAs are fun, RFAs are cool, but here’s the thing, other general managers will hate you forever apparently if you offer sheet one of their guys. Also, shouts to you if you’re still reading these. That shows commitment. And heart. And grit.
1. D Tyson Barrie (13-36-49 totals with the Colorado Avalanche)- $2.600 million cap hit, 24 years old
Colorado Avalanche general manager, Joe Sakic, is going to have quite the offseason to manage squashing the rumors about the Avalanche trading Tyson Barrie and whatnot. But hey, if you’re an opposing GM and you’re reading this, go ahead and give Barrie’s agent a call if Colorado can’t figure things out soon enough. I’ll wait. Barrie had a breakout 53 point season in 2014-2015 and is managing around the same stats and style of play. Hard hitting when you need him, depth scoring when you need it. Come to think of it, maybe I can get the rest of the DTFR guys here to submit an offer sheet (that’s how this stuff works, right?), I mean, why not?
2. D Rasmus Ristolainen (9-32-41 totals with the Buffalo Sabres)- $925,000 cap hit, 21 years old
Don’t let the Buffalo Sabres float under your radar in case there’s a chance things don’t work out for them and Rasmus Ristolainen (who doubled his points total this season from 2014-2015). Plenty of people would tell you the Sabres are doing everything in their power to keep him around and that’s a good thing, but if you wanted to be that guy, be that guy. The only thing that might weigh him down is his plus/minus (which is an outdated stat). In three seasons, it’s gone from a minus-15 to a minus-32 to, most recently, a minus-21. But then again, he plays for the Sabres.
3. D Hampus Lindholm (10-18-28 totals with the Anaheim Ducks)- $894,166 cap hit, 21 years old
This season was the first season, in his three career seasons with Anaheim, that Hampus Lindholm amassed less than 30 points. Although he only missed the mark by two. If you’re a fan of the Ducks and think they’re a good team, then you might suggest his numbers are inflated. But when a 21 year old comes into the league and upends Cam Fowler in his first three seasons, you know he’s legit for Anaheim. Lindholm is due for a big deal that’ll lock him up, however there’s always a chance some other team could meddle with Anaheim’s plans.
4. D Michael Stone (6-30-36 totals with the Arizona Coyotes)- $1.150 million, 25 years old
Tied with Danny DeKeyser on my list for the oldest pending RFA mentioned by yours truly, Michael Stone has improved by far in his first five career NHL seasons with the Arizona Coyotes. In 81 games during the 2014-2015 season, Stone had 3-15-18 totals. This season, Stone doubled everything with 6-30-36 totals in 75 games played. Need I say more if you’re interested in luring away talent for your blue line?
5. D Dmitry Orlov (8-21-29 totals with the Washington Capitals)- $2.000 million cap hit, 24 years old
In his first full season with the Washington Capitals, Dmitry Orlov had 8-21-29 totals. This season beat his 3-8-11 totals in 54 games in 2014-2015 and his 3-16-19 totals in 60 games played in 2011-2012. Nearing his prime, Orlov would be ready to move on from Washington if they don’t seem to have the room and someone else is interested in utilizing his services and time.
D Danny DeKeyser (8-12-20 totals with the Detroit Red Wings)- $2.188 million cap hit, 25 years old
There’s not much else in the RFA defensemen outlet store, so sometimes this is what you got to get. Then again, the Detroit Red Wings should lock up Danny DeKeyser for as long as they can, while locking out Kyle Quincey from the Joe Louis Arena (and Little Caesars Arena, just to be safe).
D Cody Ceci (10-16-26 total with the Ottawa Senators)- $894,166 cap hit, 22 years old
I’ll be completely partial and throw it out there that I’m a fan of the underdog in Cody Ceci. In three seasons, his points have increased from nine in 49 games played in 2013-2014 to 21 points the next season, to 26 points this season. He’s only 22, so as long as you get him out of Ottawa, there’s a good chance there’s still hope with him. All joking aside, the Senators shouldn’t make the mistake of letting another quality, low cost, high reward defenseman get away too soon.