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NHL Nick's Net

Capitals down Bruins, 2-1, in shootout in Chara’s return

Things got a little crispy in Zdeno Chara’s first game back at TD Garden as a visitor on Wednesday night as the Washington Capitals emerged with a, 2-1, shootout win over the Boston Bruins.

Vitek Vanecek (10-4-3, 2.69 goals against average, .910 save percentage in 18 games played) made 18 saves on 19 shots against for a .947 SV% in the shootout win for Washington.

Boston goaltender, Tuukka Rask (8-3-2, 2.57 GAA, .902 SV% in 13 games played) stopped 27 out of 28 shots faced for a .964 SV% in the shootout loss.

The Bruins fell to 12-5-3 (27 points) on the season and remain in 3rd place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while the Capitals improved to 13-5-4 (30 points) overall and widened their division standings lead by two points over the New York Islanders.

Matt Grzelcyk returned to the lineup for the first time since being injured at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers on Feb. 10th.

David Krejci was back in the lineup for Boston too for the first time since sustaining a lower body injury on Feb. 18th against the New Jersey Devils.

As a result, Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made several changes to his lineup, including Grzelcyk and Krejci to their usual roles, as well as shuffling other forwards and defenders.

Cassidy left the first line intact, but slotted Craig Smith on Krejci’s right wing on the second line with Nick Ritchie in his usual role on the left side.

Jack Studnicka remained in the lineup– centering the third line with Trent Frederic and Jake DeBrusk on his wings, while Anders Bjork returned to the lineup after being a healthy scratch in Sunday’s, 4-1, win at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers.

Bjork was back in his left wing role on the fourth line with Sean Kuraly returning to center and Chris Wagner on the right wing.

On defense, Jakub Zboril was paired with Charlie McAvoy on the top pairing, while Grzelcyk was reunited in his return to game action with Brandon Carlo to round out the top-four defenders.

Jarred Tinordi made his Boston debut on the third defensive pairing with Connor Clifton on the right side.

The Bruins claimed Tinordi off waivers from the Nashville Predators on Saturday and he avoided a long time on the league’s COVID protocol list by driving from Nashville to Boston.

He’s also the first player in Bruins history to wear No. 84 and has 11 points (one goal, ten assists) in 88 career National Hockey League games for the Montreal Canadiens, Arizona Coyotes and Predators since making his league debut as a 20-year-old in the 48-game lockout shortened 2012-13 season.

The 6-foot-6, 205-pound Burnsville, Minnesota native will provide added depth to Boston’s blue line– already depleted by injuries throughout the 2020-21 season thus far.

Charlie Coyle was added to the league’s COVID protocol list prior to Wednesday night’s action and missed his first game this season as a result.

Coyle was the first Bruin to miss a game due to COVID protocol since Karson Kuhlman missed the first game of the season in New Jersey on Jan. 14th, due to a testing issue dating back to Jan. 5th, when Cassidy revealed why Kuhlman was “unfit to participate” in the club’s training camp activities.

The B’s were also without the services of Ondrej Kase (upper body), Kevan Miller (knee) and Jeremy Lauzon (fractured left hand) on Wednesday against Washington.

Coyle, John Moore, Greg McKegg, Steven Kampfer, Urho Vaakanainen and Callum Booth were all either in COVID protocol, a healthy scratch and/or taxi squad members for the B’s on Wednesday.

Kuhlman was assigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Tuesday.

Wednesday night’s meeting with the Capitals also marked the first time that Chara returned to Boston as a member of the visiting team since March 16, 2006, when Chara was then a member of the Ottawa Senators defense.

Chara had one shot, two blocked shots and three hits in Ottawa’s, 3-2, shootout loss to the Bruins that night.

Brad Boyes and Patrice Bergeron each had a goal for Boston, while Jason Spezza and Antoine Vermette added goals for the Senators in the third period before Bergeron scored the only goal in the shootout.

The Bruins honored Chara with a tribute video that included well wishes from fans via Zoom.

Boston will not have fans at TD Garden until it is opened to about 12% capacity on March 22nd (with the first game featuring fans being a Bruins vs. Islanders matchup on March 23rd).

Fans will be able to give Chara an in-person standing ovation if everything goes according to plan on April 18th, when Washington returns to Boston after Friday’s game.

Early in the action, McAvoy was penalized for interference and presented the first power play of the night to the Capitals at 2:23 of the first period.

Washington did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Moments later, David Pastrnak rang the post (twice on the same shot attempt) on a breakaway after the Bruins killed off McAvoy’s minor infraction.

Midway through the opening frame, the Caps thought they scored when T.J. Oshie received a pass through the low slot and banked a shot off of Tinordi’s stick past Rask, but the B’s challenged the call on the ice on the basis that they believed Oshie had entered the attacking zone offside.

Video review confirmed that the puck was airborne and not yet over the blue line while Oshie was well past breaking the plane and therefore offside.

The call on the ice was reversed as the Bruins were successful on the coach’s challenge.

The score remained, 0-0.

Moments later, Krejci tripped Alex Ovechkin, but Washington’s power play was powerless on the ensuing advantage at 14:19 of the first period– in part because of Ovechkin’s interference minor at 14:36 that resulted in abbreviated 4-on-4 action before Boston saw a short power play thereafter.

Ovechkin, meanwhile, collided with McAvoy in the neutral zone away from the puck resulting in his trip to the penalty box, but not before catching his breath a moment in light of the awkward collision.

Less than a minute after Ovechkin was in the box, the Bruins recorded their first shot on goal in the game at 15:28.

Late in the period, Richard Panik caught Wagner away from the play and received an interference penalty at 19:49.

Boston’s resulting power play would extend into the second period as both teams entered the first intermission tied, 0-0, on the scoreboard, despite Washington holding a, 7-2, advantage in shots on goal.

The Caps also led in blocked shots (3-2), takeaways (2-1) and faceoff win percentage (61-39), while the B’s held the advantage in giveaways (5-1) and hits (13-12).

Both teams were 0/2 on the power play and would remain as such, despite Ovechkin and Frederic each receiving a minor penalty in the third period (they were matching).

There were no goals and no penalties called in the second period as the two teams remained locked in a, 0-0, tie through 40 minutes of action, despite the Capitals holding an, 11-9, advantage in shots on goal.

Boston actually held a, 7-4, advantage in shots on goal in the second period alone, but Washington dominated in blocked shots (10-4), takeaways (4-3), hits (25-21) and faceoff win% (64-36).

The Bruins, meanwhile, led in giveaways (6-4) heading into the final frame of regulation.

Brad Marchand fed Pastrnak (10) a pass that No. 88 in black and gold redirected through Vanecek’s five-hole to give the Bruins the game’s first goal and lead, 1-0, at 1:19 of the third period.

Marchand (14) had the only assist on Pastrnak’s goal.

Less than five minutes later, the Capitals tied the game, 1-1, after Kuraly turned the puck over in his own zone, whereby Oshie broke up the play and sent a pass to Nick Jensen.

Jensen threw the puck on goal for a rebound that Panik scooped up and flipped to Lars Eller (5) for the surefire odd-angle shot from the side of the net that sneaked between Rask’s leg pad and the post over the goal line.

Panik (5) and Jensen (7) tallied the assists on Eller’s goal at 6:14 of the third period.

Late in the action, after Frederic checked Ovechkin and the two exchanged pleasantries behind Boston’s net– leaving Frederic with his gloves on the ice and ready to fight, Ovechkin and Frederic got tangled up once again near the boards in Boston’s attacking zone.

This time, Frederic delivered a few quick cross checks in rapid succession followed by a swift spear below the belt from Ovechkin to the first-year Bruins forward.

Ovechkin received a roughing minor, while Frederic picked up a cross checking minor infraction at 14:30.

The two teams resumed full even strength after two minutes of 4-on-4 action unscathed.

Three periods was not enough to decide Wednesday night’s action as the Bruins and Capitals were tied, 1-1, heading into overtime.

After 60 minutes of play, the Caps led in shots on goal, 23-18, including a, 12-9, advantage in the third period alone.

Washington also held the advantage in blocked shots (12-9), takeaways (7-3) and hits (28-25), while Boston led in giveaways (7-6). Both teams were 50-50 in faceoff win% and finished the night 0/2 on the power play as no penalties were called in the overtime period.

Caps head coach, Peter Laviolette, started Nicklas Backstrom, Tom Wilson and John Carlson in overtime, while Cassidy countered with Bergeron, Marchand and McAvoy.

Washington dominated play in overtime, while Rask made a pair of great saves that quite literally saved the game for Boston (at least holding the team over until the shootout).

After the five-minute extra frame wasn’t enough with the game still tied, 1-1, and the Capitals leading in shots on goal, 28-19, including a, 5-1, advantage in shots on goal in the overtime period alone– a shootout was required.

Washington finished the night leading in blocked shots (12-9) and hits (28-26), while Boston wrapped up Wednesday night’s action leading in faceoff win% (53-48). Both teams had seven giveaways aside.

DeBrusk kicked off the shootout for Boston, but was denied by Vanecek with a glove save.

Jakub Vrana countered with a deke for the Capitals before pulling the puck around Rask’s right pad and slipping the rubber biscuit between the post and the Bruins netminder’s skate to give Washington the, 1-0, edge after one round of the shootout.

Pastrnak made a nifty move to send a backhanded attempt off of Vanecek’s pad while trying to go five-hole.

Oshie responded with a shot that Rask gloved.

The Capitals held a, 1-0, advantage in the shootout entering the third round. All Marchand had to do when he stepped up for his shot was score to force Rask to make another save and extend the shootout.

Instead, Vanecek denied Marchand with a glove save and the Caps didn’t even need to take their third shot– winning the shootout in three rounds and sealing the deal on a, 2-1, shootout win in Boston.

Washington improved to 2-2 in shootouts this season, while Boston fell to 2-1.

The Bruins are now 5-3 past regulation this season, while the Capitals are 3-4 overall after 60 minutes.

The B’s also fell to 4-2-1 (2-1-1 at home) when tied after the first period and 3-3-2 (0-0-1 at home) when tied after two periods this season.

Meanwhile, Washington improved to 6-0-0 (4-0-0 on the road) when tied after the first period and 3-1-4 (1-0-2 on the road) when tied after two periods this season.

Boston also fell to 8-2-1 (4-0-1 at home) when scoring the game’s first goal, while the Caps improved to 5-2-2 (2-1-1 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal this season.

The Bruins and Capitals go at it again on Friday before Boston finishes up their three-game homestand on Sunday against the New Jersey Devils.

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Coyle nets two in Bruins’, 4-1, win at Rangers

Charlie Coyle scored a pair of goals, while Trent Frederic recorded the eventual game-winning goal as the Boston Bruins defeated the New York Rangers, 4-1, Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.

Tuukka Rask (8-3-1, 2.71 goals against average, .896 save percentage in 12 games played) stopped 20 out of 21 shots faced for a .952 SV% in the win– the 299th of his National Hockey League career.

No Bruins goaltender has ever won 300 games in franchise history.

Rangers goaltender, Alexandar Georgiev (3-2-2, 2.80 GAA, .907 SV% in eight games played) made 31 saves on 33 shots against for a .939 SV% in 45:25 time on ice as he was briefly pulled from the game by a concussion spotter after allowing the game’s first goal after Bruins forward, Nick Ritchie, fell on top of the New York netminder’s head minutes earlier.

Igor Shesterkin (4-7-1, 2.44 GAA, .917 SV% in 13 games played) made one save on two shots against (.500 SV%) and was charged with the loss in 13:19 TOI as Frederic’s eventual game-winner got by Shesterkin while he was in net for Georgiev.

The Bruins improved to 12-5-2 (26 points) on the season and retook command of 1st place in the MassMutual NHL East Division from the Washington Capitals (11-5-4, 26 points) who were in action later in the afternoon on Sunday.

The Rangers fell to 7-9-3 (17 points) overall and remained in 6th place in the division– at least before later games on Sunday.

Boston also picked up their 50th win in 107 games at Madison Square Garden (the fourth edition of New York City’s world famous arena), despite being outscored by New York, 333-325, in that span. The Bruins are 50-46-7-4 all time at the fourth iteration of MSG.

The B’s are now 3-1-0 against the Blue Shirts this season.

After Friday night’s, 6-2, loss to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden, Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made several changes to his lineup utilizing members of the club’s taxi squad.

Cassidy slid Sean Kuraly to the left wing of the fourth line while inserting Greg McKegg and Karson Kuhlman back into the lineup at center and on the right wing, respectively.

McKegg, in the process, made his Boston debut on Sunday.

On defense, Cassidy jumbled his pairings, placing Jakub Zboril alongside Charlie McAvoy on the first pairing, while uniting Connor Clifton with Brandon Carlo to round out the top-four defenders.

Urho Vaakanainen was partnered with Steven Kampfer, who made his season debut on Sunday, on the bottom defensive pairing.

Anders Bjork, Chris Wagner and John Moore were healthy scratches for the B’s, while Ondrej Kase (upper body), David Krejci (lower body), Matt Grzelcyk (lower body), Jeremy Lauzon (fractured left hand) and Kevan Miller (knee) remained out of the lineup due to injury.

Callum Booth was the only taxi squad member not listed as a healthy scratch or out due to injury Sunday afternoon in New York.

Early in the opening frame, Ryan Strome cross checked Kuhlman and was sent to the sin bin with a minor infraction at 5:35 of the first period.

Boston’s ensuing power play did not last long, however, as Ritchie and Ryan Lindgren went at it shortly after Ritchie fell on top of Georgiev, resulting in two roughing penalties to Ritchie and one roughing minor for Lindgren at 5:48.

Craig Smith served one of Ritchie’s minors as the two clubs had a little 4-on-4 before the Rangers had an abbreviated power play.

Meanwhile, less than a minute later, Coyle (4) roofed a shot on the far side past the New York netminder to give Boston a, 1-0, lead at 6:41 of the first period.

David Pastrnak (8) and McAvoy (12) tallied the assists on Coyle’s first goal of the afternoon, which led to Shesterkin’s brief relief appearance in the crease.

Six seconds after the B’s went up on the scoreboard, 1-0, Pastrnak caught Alexis Lafrenière with a high stick, yielding a 5-on-3 skater advantage to the Rangers at 6:47.

New York, however, could not muster anything on the power play.

Late in the period, Clifton wristed a shot from the point that Frederic (2) deflected past Shesterkin from the slot to give Boston a two-goal lead.

Clifton (3) and Jack Studnicka (2) notched the assists as the Bruins led, 2-0, at 18:14 of the first period.

Entering the first intermission, the B’s had a, 2-0, lead on the scoreboard despite trailing the Rangers in shots on goal, 9-7.

Boston held the advantage in blocked shots (9-4) and takeaways (2-0), while New York led in giveaways (3-0), hits (21-18) and faceoff win percentage (53-47).

The Rangers were 0/2 and the Bruins were 0/1 on the power play heading into the middle period.

Georgiev was back in net for New York to start the second period.

Midway through the middle frame, after winning an attacking zone faceoff, the B’s worked the puck around the offensive zone, whereby McAvoy ended up sending a pass to Pastrnak across the ice before receiving the rubber biscuit back on the blade of his stick.

McAvoy (3) rocketed a slap shot from the point past Georgiev to make it, 3-0, Boston at 10:20 of the second period.

Pastrnak (9) and Marchand (13) had the assists as the Bruins extended their lead to three goals.

No penalties were called in the second period as the two teams entered the second intermission with the B’s leading, 3-0, on the scoreboard and, 19-15, in shots on goal, including a, 12-6, advantage in the middle period alone.

Boston also held the advantage in takeaways (2-0), hits (32-29) and faceoff win% (56-44), while New York led in giveaways (5-2).

Both teams had 10 blocked shots aside, while the Rangers remained 0/2 and the Bruins remained 0/1 on the power play heading into the final frame.

Colin Blackwell (5) parted the seas, skated into the slot and fired a shot past Rask’s blocker side to pull the Rangers to within two goals at 10:47 of the third period.

He then delivered a quick check– whether it was an accident on a follow through or not, he caught the ire of McKegg, the recipient of Blackwell’s blow– and a scrum ensued while New York was celebrating their goal.

The Rangers trailed, 3-1, as Blackwell went to the box for roughing and McKegg went to the sin bin for slashing at 10:47.

Neither team scored a goal on the resulting 4-on-4 even strength action.

Meanwhile, Lafrenière (2) and K’Andre Miller (4) had the assists on Blackwell’s goal.

Late in the period, Smith received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty at 16:09, but the New York wasn’t able to convert on the resulting power play.

With about two minutes left in regulation, Rangers head coach, David Quinn, pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker to try to even up the score.

Seconds after Georgiev vacated his crease, Coyle (5) flipped the puck just about the length of the rink from his own zone past the faceoff circles into the open twine.

Kuraly (2) had the only assist on Coyle’s empty net goal and the Bruins sealed the deal on their, 4-1, win at 18:05 of the third period.

After a stoppage in play with about two seconds left in the game, the final faceoff commenced, but not before Brendan Lemieux and Ritchie had a little chat that resulted in a fight officially as time expired at 20:00 of the third period.

Lemieux also received a misconduct in the matter as the both players picked up fighting majors to finish the afternoon.

It was the seventh scrap this season for Boston and the first since Lauzon fought Pavel Buchnevich back on Feb. 12th in a, 1-0, win at the Rangers.

At the final horn, the Bruins had won, 4-1, and finished Sunday afternoon leading in shots on goal, 36-21, including a, 17-6, advantage in the third period alone.

Boston also finished the game leading in blocked shots (16-12), hits (43-37) and faceoff win% (55-45), while New York wrapped up the afternoon’s action leading in giveaways (9-4).

The Rangers finished 0/3 and the B’s went 0/1 on the power play on Sunday.

The Bruins improved to 8-2-0 (4-2-0 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal this season, while the Rangers fell to 2-7-2 (1-6-1 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal this season.

Boston also improved to 6-0-0 (3-0-0 on the road) when leading after the first period and 7-0-0 (3-0-0 on the road) when leading after the second period this season.

New York dropped to 2-4-2 (1-3-1 at home) when trailing after one period and 0-6-0 (0-4-0 at home) when trailing after two periods this season.

The Bruins went 1-2-0 on their three-game road trip and 7-4-0 in the month of February. The B’s return home to face the Washington Capitals on Wednesday and Friday before squaring off with the New Jersey Devils next Sunday on March 7th.

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NHL Nick's Net

Bruins drop four out of five in, 6-2, loss at Rangers

The Boston Bruins have allowed 13 goals in back-to-back nights as a result of their, 6-2, loss to the New York Rangers on Friday at Madison Square Garden.

Alexandar Georgiev (3-2-2, 2.81 goals against average, .901 save percentage in seven games played) made 31 saves on 33 shots faced for a .939 SV% in the win for the Rangers.

Bruins goaltender, Tuukka Rask (7-3-1, 2.87 GAA, .892 SV% in 11 games played) stopped 28 out of 34 shots against for an .824 SV% in the loss.

Boston fell to 11-5-2 (24 points) on the season, but is barely holding onto 1st place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while New York improved to 7-8-3 (17 points) and jumped to 6th place in the division.

The Bruins are now 1-4-0 in their last five games and 2-1-0 against the Rangers this season.

Ondrej Kase (upper body), Matt Grzelcyk (lower body), David Krejci (lower body), Kevan Miller (knee) and Jeremy Lauzon (fractured left hand) remained out of the lineup Friday night due to injury.

Grzelcyk is targeting a return to the blue line on Sunday afternoon while still in New York.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, left lineup untouched from Thursday night’s, 7-2, loss on Long Island against the New York Islanders.

Kase, Krejci, Grzelcyk, Lauzon, Karson Kuhlman, Miller, Greg McKegg, Steven Kampfer and Callum Booth made up Boston’s list of injuries, healthy scratches and taxi squad members.

Midway through the opening frame, Julien Gauthier (2) fired a shot from the faceoff dot to Rask’s right side that beat the Bruins netminder on the short side while he was screened by net front traffic.

Ryan Lindgren (6) had the only assist on Gauthier’s goal and the Rangers took the, 1-0, lead at 13:03 of the first period.

Both of Gauthier’s goals this season have come against Boston (and they’re the first and second of his National Hockey League career, respectively).

About a couple minutes later, New York defender, K’Andre Miller, was penalized for holding and sent to the box with a minor infraction at 15:27.

Boston did not convert on the ensuing power play opportunity.

Entering the first intermission, the Rangers led the Bruins, 1-0, on the scoreboard and, 9-6, in shots on goal.

New York also held the advantage in takeaways (2-0), hits (17-8), as well as faceoff win percentage (53-47), while the B’s led in giveaways (4-2).

Both teams had seven blocked shots aside and the Bruins were 0/1 on the power play. The Rangers had yet to see any action on the skater advantage heading into the middle frame.

Shortly after puck drop in the second period, Jack Johnson got a stick up high on Sean Kuraly except Kevin Rooney was sent to the box with the minor infraction for high sticking six seconds into the middle period.

Once more, Boston’s power play was powerless.

Not to be outdone, in the vulnerable minute after special teams action, New York capitalized on Boston’s faults as Alexis Lafrenière worked a pass to Ryan Strome (6) for a catch and release goal over Rask’s glove to give the Rangers a two-goal lead.

Lafrenière (1) and Chris Kreider (2) tallied the assists on Strome’s goal at 2:32 of the second period and the Blue Shirts led, 2-0.

Less than two minutes later, Brad Marchand sent a pass to David Pastrnak who then feigned a shot and setup Patrice Bergeron with a slap pass for Bergeron (8) to redirect one past the Rangers goaltender on the doorstep while Georgiev was expecting a shot from Pastrnak and out of position.

Pastrnak (6) and Marchand (12) had the assists on Bergeron’s goal as the B’s cut New York’s lead in half, 2-1, at 4:02 of the second period.

The goal was Bergeron’s 889th career NHL point, which moved him into sole possession for fifth all-time among Boston’s scorers– surpassing Bobby Orr’s 888 career points in a Bruins uniform and trailing Rick Middleton’s 898 points with Boston for fourth place.

Early in the period, Lindgren hit Bergeron in the neutral zone which caused a bit of a scrum to form.

Marchand, in turn, roughed Lindgren and received a minor infraction at 6:54, though the Rangers did not convert on the ensuing power play.

Moments later, after a stoppage in play, Brendan Lemieux pulled Jake DeBrusk down by the collar and received a roughing infraction at 11:23.

The Bruins remained powerless on the power play, however.

A few minutes after that, Marchand caught Kreider with a high stick and was sent to the sin bin at 14:19. Boston made the kill on the resulting skater disadvantage, however.

Nick Ritchie tripped Brendan Smith and was sent to the penalty box at 18:42.

The Rangers did not waste much time on the ensuing power play opportunity– capitalizing ten seconds into the 5-on-4 advantage after passing the puck around the zone while Boston’s penalty kill just hung around.

Adam Fox fired the initial shot from the point, but Colin Blackwell (4) tipped the rubber biscuit in front of the net to give New York a, 3-1, lead.

Fox (8) and Strome (6) tallied the assists on Blackwell’s power-play goal at 18:52.

The Rangers made it a, 4-1, lead 12 seconds later when Kreider (9) fired the puck off of Charlie McAvoy and in from about the goal line at 19:04.

Strome (7) had the only assist on Kreider’s goal as New York scored a pair of goals in the final 68 seconds of the second period.

In the closing seconds of the middle frame, Trent Frederic retaliated with a slash after Johnson caught the young Bruins forward with a cross check to the head.

Both players received minor infractions (Frederic for slashing, Johnson for cross checking) at 19:51 of the second period, yielding 4-on-4 action into the third period.

Through 40 minutes of action Friday night at Madison Square Garden, the Rangers led the Bruins, 4-1, on the scoreboard and, 24-22, in shots on goal, despite trailing Boston, 16-15, in shots on goal in the second period alone.

The B’s held the advantage in blocked shots (11-10) and giveaways (7-3), while the Blue Shirts led in takeaways (4-2), hits (27-20) and faceoff win% (57-43) after two periods.

New York was 1/3 on the power play, while Boston was 0/3 on the skater advantage heading into the second intermission.

Pavel Buchnevich (5) redirected a puck into the twine from the low slot on a tape-to-tape pass to give the Rangers a, 5-1, lead at 1:45 of the third period.

Fox (9) and Lindgren (7) had the assists on Buchnevich’s goal.

About two minutes later, Jonny Brodzinski (1) received a pass from Rooney before firing the puck off of Rask’s pad and in to make it a five-goal lead for New York.

Rooney (2) and Smith (2) were credited with the primary and secondary assists, respectively, on Brodzinski’s first goal of the season at 3:43 of the final period.

Almost midway through the final frame of regulation, Marchand (10) buried a rebound for the 300th goal of his NHL career. He trails Cam Neely (344 career goals with Boston) for sixth in all time goal scorers in Bruins franchise history.

Pastrnak (7) and Jakub Zboril (4) had the assists on Marchand’s goal and the B’s trailed, 6-2, at 7:51 of the third period.

Late in the period, Zboril was penalized for holding at 15:59, but New York couldn’t muster anything on the resulting skater advantage.

At the final horn, the Bruins had been outscored on back-to-back nights by their opponents by a combined score of, 13-4, losing on Friday to the Rangers, 6-2, in New York.

The Blue Shirts finished the effort leading in shots on goal, 34-33, despite trailing Boston, 11-10, in shots on goal in the third period alone.

New York wrapped up Friday’s win with the advantage in blocked shots (14-12), hits (32-28) and faceoff win% (51-49), while Boston finished the game leading in giveaways (11-4).

The Rangers finished 1/4 on the skater advantage, while the Bruins went 0/3 on the power play on Friday.

Additionally, Boston is now 1-4-0 in their last five games.

The Bruins fell to 4-3-2 (3-2-2 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal this season, while the Rangers improved to 5-2-1 (3-0-1 at home) when scoring the game’s first goal in 2020-21.

The B’s also fell to 2-3-2 (2-3-2 on the road) when trailing after the first period and 2-2-1 (1-1-1 on the road) when trailing after two periods this season.

New York improved to 4-2-1 (3-0-1 at home) when leading after the first period and 5-1-2 (3-0-1 at home) when leading after two periods thi season.

The Bruins close out their three-game road trip (0-2-0) Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden against the Rangers to finish the month of February. The B’s return home to face the Washington Capitals on March 3rd and 5th before squaring off with the New Jersey Devils on March 7th.

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NHL Nick's Net

Bruins lose big in, 7-2, blowout to Islanders

The New York Islanders erupted for seven goals on home ice in their, 7-2, victory over the Boston Bruins at Nassau Live at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Thursday night.

Semyon Varlamov (9-4-2, 2.06 goals against average, .928 save percentage in 15 games played) stopped 34 out of 36 shots faced for a .944 SV% in the win for the Isles.

Bruins goaltender, Jaroslav Halak (4-2-1, 2.42 GAA, .903 SV% in seven games played) made 30 saves on 37 shots against for an .811 SV% in the loss.

The former Islanders goaltender was visibly frustrated and broke his stick against the post after allowing four goals.

Boston fell to 11-4-2 (24 points) on the season, but remained in command of the MassMutual NHL East Division standings.

New York improved to 10-6-3 (23 points) overall and jumped from 5th in the division to 3rd place in the standings.

Thursday night marked the 400th career National Hockey League game (all with Boston) for David Pastrnak. Entering Thursday, he had 393 points (189 goals, 204 assists) in 399 games, including 9-5–14 totals in nine games this season.

The Bruins were without the services of Ondrej Kase (upper body), Matt Grzelcyk (lower body), David Krejci (lower body), Kevan Miller (knee) and Jeremy Lauzon (fractured left hand) against the Islanders Thursday night.

Boston did, however, see the return of Jakub Zboril to the blue line after Zboril missed the last two games with an upper body injury sustained on Feb. 13th at the Islanders.

Grzelcyk, meanwhile, skated on Thursday morning and may make his return to the lineup on Friday or Sunday in Manhattan against the New York Rangers. He has missed 11 games so far this season due to a recurring lower body injury originally sustained on Jan. 21st vs. Philadelphia, then re-aggravated on Jan. 28th vs. Pittsburgh and again on Feb. 10th at the Rangers.

The newest member of Boston’s long list of injuries– Lauzon– played 34 seconds in the 2021 NHL Outdoors at Lake Tahoe game against the Flyers and will be out for approximately four weeks with a fractured left hand.

Krejci and Miller did not travel with the team to New York for the current three-game road trip.

Halak earned his first start against the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum since 2014, while Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy made no adjustments to his forward lines, but played with his defensive pairings from Sunday’s, 7-3, win over the Flyers outdoors to Thursday night’s battle indoors on Long Island.

Urho Vaakanainen earned first pairing minutes with Charlie McAvoy to start the action, while Zboril was placed on the left side of Brandon Carlo on the second defensive pairing.

Meanwhile, John Moore and Connor Clifton rounded out the six dressed defenders.

Kase, Krejci, Grzelcyk, Lauzon, Karson Kuhlman, Miller, Greg McKegg, Steven Kampfer and Callum Booth made up Boston’s long list of injuries, healthy scratches and taxi squad members on Thursday.

Nick Ritchie (7) kicked things off by redirecting a pass through the low slot past Varlamov to give the Bruins the game’s first goal 62 seconds into the action.

Zboril (3) and Charlie Coyle (3) tallied the assists as Boston led, 1-0, at 1:02 of the first period.

The B’s didn’t lead for long before Adam Pelech (1) pocketed a rebound past Halak’s blocker side while crashing the net for his first goal in 42 games.

Pelech’s goal was unassisted as the Islanders tied the game, 1-1, at 3:16 of the opening frame.

A couple of minutes past the midpoint of the first period, Mathew Barzal (7) burst into the attacking zone with speed and sniped a shot over Halak’s glove side to put New York ahead, 2-1, at 12:39.

Nick Leddy (10) and Varlamov (1) had the assists on Barzal’s goal as the two teams got off to a fast pace on Thursday.

Entering the first intermission, New York led Boston, 2-1, on the scoreboard, despite the Bruins holding the, 15-10, advantage in shots on goal.

The B’s also led in blocked shots (4-3), takeaways (2-1) and faceoff win percentage (53-47) after one period, while the Isles led in giveaways (5-1) and hits (12-5).

Neither team had seen any action on the skater advantage entering the middle frame.

Anthony Beauvillier tripped Pastrnak at 1:01 of the second period and yielded the game’s first power play to Boston, but the Bruins weren’t able to convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Craig Smith cut a rut to the sin bin for the B’s after hooking Leddy, but the Islanders didn’t capitalize on their first power play of the night as a result.

In the vulnerable minute after special teams action, Boston capitalized on a shift in momentum when Smith redirected the puck behind his back to his stick with a free hand– never closing his hand on the puck in the process– in the neutral zone before skating into the attacking zone and sending a pass towards Jack Studnicka as Studnicka crashed the net.

There was just one problem, however, as the puck deflected off of Matt Martin’s stick and fluttered over Varlamov and into the twine– tying the game, 2-2, in the process.

Smith (4) was credited with the goal while Jake DeBrusk (3) and Vaakanainen (2) earned the assists at 11:36 of the second period.

Through 40 minutes of play, the scoreboard was even, 2-2, but the Bruins were leading in shots on goal, 28-19, including a, 13-9, advantage in the second period alone.

The B’s also led in blocked shots (12-5) and faceoff win% (52-48), while the New York led in takeaways (3-2), giveaways (9-3) and hits (20-14).

Both teams were 0/1 on the power play heading into the final frame of regulation.

Beauvillier (1) kicked things off in the third period with the eventual game-winning goal for the Islanders after stealing the puck right off of Trent Frederic’s stick and slipping the rubber biscuit through Halak to give New York a, 3-2, lead at 5:41.

Then it started.

The Islanders began an offensive onslaught, first when Barzal sent a pass to Jordan Eberle leading Halak to drop down into the splits while Eberle (8) roofed the puck over Halak’s glove and into the net.

Barzal (10) and Anders Lee (4) notched the assists on Eberle’s goal and New York took a two-goal lead, 4-2, at 10:45 of the third period.

Less than a couple of minutes later, Casey Cizikas sent the puck over the glass and received an automatic delay of game infraction at 12:04, but Boston’s power play was once again powerless and instead gave up an ensuing shorthanded goal against.

That’s right, Jean-Gabriel Pageau (8) emerged with a quick breakout from his own zone that translated into a breakaway into the attacking zone before scoring top-shelf over Halak’s glove side to make it, 5-2, Islanders at 12:24.

Pelech (4) had the only assist on Pageau’s shorthanded goal as the New York forward scored his third goal in three games against Boston this season.

About two minutes later, a wacky deflection off of Clifton, then Halak, then Vaakanainen and the post (or the other way around, it doesn’t matter that much) left a loose puck with eyes finding its way to Lee’s stick for Lee (9) to pot his team leading ninth goal of the season to make it a four-goal game.

Noah Dobson (7) and Leddy (11) had the assists on Lee’s goal and the Isles led, 6-2, at 14:44 of the third period.

Again, less than two minutes later, after Halak made an initial stop with his shoulder, the puck flew back into the slot whereby Oliver Wahlstrom (2) was waiting and anticipating burying the rebound to make it, 7-2, for New York– capping off five unanswered goals in a span in the third period alone for the Islanders.

Ryan Pulock (8) and Cizikas (3) were credited with the primary and secondary assists, respectively, at 16:33.

About a minute later, Frederic delivered a swift cross check to Lee after a stoppage in play and was dealt a minor infraction for cross checking as well as a game misconduct at 17:53.

Smith served Frederic’s minor as Boston’s penalty kill managed to go unscathed on the final special teams appearance of the night.

At the final horn, the Islanders handed the Bruins their worst loss of the season thus far on the scoreboard, 7-2.

It was Boston’s first game since beating the Flyers, 7-3, outdoors, so at least the Bruins managed consecutive games with at least seven goals scored by the winning team– just on both sides of the final result.

New York finished night leading in shots on goal, 37-36, including an, 18-8, advantage in the third period alone– the most shots allowed by Boston in any third period this season so far.

The B’s finished the game with the advantage in blocked shots (16-8) and faceoff win% (53-47), while the Isles managed the advantage in giveaways (13-6) and hits (26-24).

Both clubs went 0/2 on the power play on Thursday.

Thursday night’s game also marked just the second time this season that Boston lost by more than one goal. Coincidentally, the last time the Bruins did that this season was back on Feb. 13th against the Islanders on Long Island in a, 4-2, loss.

The Bruins fell to 7-2-0 (3-2-0 on the road) when scoring the game’s first game, while the Islanders improved to 3-5-2 (3-0-0 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal this season.

Boston also fell to 2-2-2 (2-2-2 on the road) when trailing after the first period and 3-3-1 (3-3-1 on the road) when tied after two periods this season.

New York, conversely, improved to 7-1-1 (4-0-1 at home) when leading after the first period and 6-2-2 (5-0-1 at home) when tied after two periods this season.

The Bruins are now 1-3-0 in their last four games and continue their three-game road trip (0-1-0) to close out the month of February (6-3-0) with a pair of games at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers on Friday night and Sunday afternoon.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts announced earlier on Thursday that fans will be allowed at TD Garden, Fenway Park and Gillette Stadium at about 12% seating capacity as of March 22nd, which means Boston’s first home game with fans at TD Garden is currently scheduled for March 23rd against the Islanders.

Information regarding ticket sales and more is coming soon. Check your local listings (nhl.com/bruins, preferably).

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NHL Nick's Net

Halak, Bruins shutout Rangers, 1-0

Nick Ritchie scored the only goal, while Jaroslav Halak stopped 21 shots in a, 1-0, shutout for the Boston Bruins over the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Friday night.

Halak (4-0-1, 1.38 goals against, .938 save percentage in five games played) earned his 51st career shutout in the win, as well as Boston’s first shutout of the season in his first start since Feb. 1st after B’s starting goaltender, Tuukka Rask, played in the last three games.

Rask got the bulk of the workload due to additional days off thanks to a pair of games with the Buffalo Sabres having been postponed due to the league’s COVID protocol.

Rangers goaltender, Igor Shesterkin (3-4-1, 2.16 GAA, .922 SV% in nine games played) made 29 saves on 30 shots faced for a .967 SV% in the loss.

The Bruins improved to 10-1-2 (22 points) and remained 1st in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while the Rangers fell to 4-6-3 (11 points) overall and stuck in 6th place in the division.

The Bruins were without the services of Ondrej Kase (upper body) and Matt Grzelcyk (lower body) on Friday as both players were out of the lineup due to injury.

Kase’s missed 11 games this season due to an upper body injury sustained on Jan. 16th at New Jersey, while Grzelcyk returned to the lineup on Wednesday night, but re-aggravated his nagging lower body injury and was held out of Friday night’s matchup– missing his seventh game of the season in the process.

As a result, Boston head coach, Bruce Cassidy, replaced Grzelcyk with Connor Clifton on the second defensive pairing and made no other changes to his lineup from Wednesday night’s, 3-2, overtime win in New York.

Greg McKegg, Par Lindholm, John Moore, Steven Kampfer, Callum Booth, Anton Blidh and Karson Kuhlman made up Boston’s all healthy scratches and/or taxi squad members Friday night.

Brad Marchand and Mika Zibanejad had a standoff after the pregame warmup as neither player would leave the ice (both players like to be the last one off the rink for their respective teams).

Marchand lost an ensuing rock-paper-scissors battle, which left Zibanejad as the last player off about five minutes after the ice resurfacing machines had already passed them by.

Less than a minute into the opening frame, Clifton inadvertently sent the puck over the glass and drew an automatic delay of game infraction 56 seconds into the first period.

New York did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Moments later, Kaapo Kakko tripped Craig Smith and presented the Bruins with their first power play of the night at 6:02 of the first period, but Boston’s power play was also equally as powerless.

Late in first period, Brandon Carlo was penalized for interference, but the Rangers couldn’t muster anything on the power play at 17:01.

Entering the first intermission at Madison Square Garden on Friday night, the Bruins and Rangers were tied, 0-0, on the scoreboard, despite New York holding a, 10-6, advantage in shots on goal.

The Blue Shirts also held the advantage in takeaways (4-3) and hits (14-7), while the B’s led in blocked shots (5-2) and faceoff win percentage (56-44).

Both teams had three giveaways each, while the Rangers were 0/2 and the Bruins were 0/1 on the power play after one period of action.

Early in the middle frame, Charlie Coyle slashed Julien Gauthier and was sent to the sin bin as a result.

New York couldn’t convert on the resulting power play at 2:12 of the second period, however, and was quickly shorthanded themselves after their skater advantage ended when Brendan Lemieux was dealt a minor for boarding against Sean Kuraly at 4:23.

Boston couldn’t find the back of the net on the resulting power play.

Moments later, Charlie McAvoy and Jacob Trouba exchanged pleasantries and received roughing minors at 6:33 after a few quick punches were thrown.

Trouba picked up an extra roughing infraction, yielding another power play to Boston that went unfulfilled.

In the vulnerable minute after the skater advantage, however, Ritchie (5) pocketed the puck off of Shesterkin’s pad and in between the post for the game’s only goal at 9:27 of the second period.

David Krejci (10) and Jeremy Lauzon (3) tallied the assists on Ritchie’s goal and the Bruins led, 1-0.

On the ensuing faceoff, Trent Frederic and Lemieux dropped the gloves before attempting to bash each others’ faces in with their fists.

The two players received fighting majors at 9:28 and play continued at even strength, 5-on-5.

It was the fifth fight of the second for Boston and first since Chris Wagner fought Anthony Bitetto on Wednesday night in New York.

About a minute later, after a post-whistle scrum, Marchand cross checked Brett Howden, who countered with a slash on Marchand, while Kuraly was being assessed a boarding penalty on the original call.

With Marchand and Kuraly heading to the box while only one Ranger (Howden) cut a rut to the sin bin, New York went on the power play at 10:41 of the second period.

The Blue Shirts were not successful on the ensuing advantage.

Late in the period, Lauzon and Pavel Buchnevich gave it a go behind the play after Lauzon finished his hit on the Rangers forward behind Halak in New York’s attacking zone.

Buchnevich received five-minutes for fighting, while Lauzon picked up a fighting major as well as a ten-minute misconduct at 15:14.

It was the sixth fight of the season for Boston and the first since Frederic and Lemieux dropped the gloves earlier in the second period.

Through 40 minutes of action on Friday night, the Bruins led, 1-0, on the scoreboard and, 24-16, in shots on goal, including an, 18-6, advantage in shots on goal in the second period alone.

Boston also held the advantage in faceoff win% (56-44), while New York led in takeaways (11-5), giveaways (8-4) and hits (23-15).

Both teams had eight blocked shots aside after two periods.

The Rangers were 0/4 and the B’s were 0/3 on the power play heading into the second intermission.

Trouba was guilty of holding Anders Bjork at 1:38 of the third period and presented Boston with an early power play to kick off the action in the final frame of regulation, but the Bruins– once again– could not score on the skater advantage.

McAvoy tripped Kakko and presented the Rangers with a power play at 4:31 of the third period, but New York couldn’t fire anything past Halak on the resulting 5-on-4 advantage.

With 6:38 remaining in the game, Ryan Lindgren smacked his face along the glass on a followthrough from Lauzon landing an otherwise clean bodycheck.

Lindgren had a cut above the eye and was able to skate off on his own power, get a towel on the bench and some minor repairs before returning to the action in the closing minutes unscathed.

Rangers head coach, David Quinn, pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker with 1:10 left in the game, but even despite calling a timeout and having a 6-on-4 advantage after McAvoy cleared the rubber biscuit over the glass for an automatic delay of game penalty at 18:58, New York couldn’t execute a game-tying plan.

At the final horn, Boston had won, 1-0, and earned a shutout on the road at Madison Square Garden for the first time since March 9, 2008, when Alex Auld earned a shutout in a, 1-0, shootout loss for the Bruins.

The B’s finished Friday night’s effort leading in shots on goal, 30-21, including a, 6-5, advantage in the third period alone.

Boston also maintained a lead in blocked shots (18-12) and faceoff win% (54-46), while New York capped off the night leading in giveaways (9-5) and hits (31-23).

The Rangers went 0/6 on the power play, while the Bruins were 0/4 Friday night.

The Bruins extended their winning streak to five games– earning each of them on the road in the process.

Boston improved to 3-1-0 when tied after the first period, 5-0-0 when leading after two periods and 6-0-0 when scoring the game’s first goal this season with the win.

The Bruins face the New York Islanders on the road Saturday before returning home (possibly) to face the New Jersey Devils on Feb. 18th (if it doesn’t get postponed).

New Jersey still has a lot of players in COVID protocol, so there’s no guarantee that Boston will play another home game before taking on the Philadelphia Flyers outdoors on Feb. 21st at Lake Tahoe.

And if the Flyers have too many players in COVID protocol, the Rangers are reportedly ready to make the trip to face Boston outdoors.

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NHL Nick's Net

Marchand’s OT goal lifts Bruins over Rangers, 3-2

Brad Marchand did what he does best in overtime– scored the game-winning goal– on Wednesday night as the Boston Bruins beat the New York Rangers, 3-2, at Madison Square Garden.

Boston goaltender, Tuukka Rask (6-1-1, 2.31 goals against average, .906 save percentage in eight games played) stopped 33 out of 35 shots faced for a .943 SV% in the overtime win.

Alexandar Georgiev (1-2-2, 3.21 GAA, .891 SV% in five games played) made 29 saves on 32 shots against (.906 SV%) in the overtime loss for New York.

The Bruins improved to 9-1-2 (20 points) on the season and continue to lead the MassMutual NHL East Division, while the New York Rangers fell to 4-5-3 (11 points), but surpassed the Buffalo Sabres and New Jersey Devils for 6th place in the division.

Matt Grzelcyk (lower body) and Jake DeBrusk (lower body) returned to the lineup since being injured on Jan. 28th and Jan. 26th, respectively.

Grzeclyk returned to his usual role on the left side of the second defensive pairing, while DeBrusk was placed on the third line left wing with Charlie Coyle at center and Anders Bjork on the right side.

Anton Blidh was scratched in favor of Trent Frederic on the fourth line left wing.

Meanwhile, Ondrej Kase (upper body) remained out of the lineup for the 10th time this season due to an injury sustained on Jan. 16th in New Jersey.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made no other changes to his lineup.

Greg McKegg, Jack Studnicka, Par Lindholm, John Moore, Steven Kampfer, Connor Clifton, Callum Booth, Blidh and Karson Kuhlman were all healthy scratches and/or members of the taxi squad on Wednesday.

A little past the midpoint of the opening frame, Brendan Lemieux won a battle along the boards before working the puck off of Bruins forward, Sean Kuraly’s, stick and into the slot where Julien Gauthier (1) reached out to pocket the puck into the twine for his first career National Hockey League goal.

Lemieux (2) had the only assist on Gauthier’s goal and the Rangers led, 1-0, at 13:50 of the first period.

About a couple minutes later, Chris Kreider tripped up Jeremy Lauzon and presented Boston with their first power play opportunity of the night at 15:47.

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

After one period of play at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night, New York led, 1-0, on the scoreboard, despite splitting shots on goal evenly at, 6-6.

The Rangers held the advantage in takeaways (3-2), while the Bruins had the advantage in hits (8-6) and faceoff win percentage (60-40) after 20 minutes.

Both teams had four blocked shots each and four giveaways aside while only the B’s had seen any action on the power play (0/1) entering the first intermission.

Almost midway through the middle frame, Craig Smith slashed Ryan Strome and was assessed a minor infraction, yielding a power play to New York at 8:05 of the second period.

While on the penalty kill, Chris Wagner (2) emerged on a breakaway for Boston and sent the puck under Georgiev’s glove side to tie the game, 1-1, at 9:41.

Wagner’s shorthanded goal was unassisted.

Moments later, Strome slashed Bjork and cut a rut to the penalty box at 13:30 as a result.

Boston’s power play was once again powerless, however, as the Rangers killed Strome’s minor with ease– often spending time on the penalty kill in the attacking zone.

After 40 minutes of action at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, the Bruins and Rangers were tied, 1-1, on the scoreboard.

Boston held the advantage in shots on goal, 25-20, including a, 19-14, advantage in the second period alone, while also leading in faceoff win% (67-33) after two periods.

New York led in blocked shots (11-5), giveaways (11-9) and hits (16-13), while both teams had five takeaways each entering the second intermission.

The Rangers were 0/1 and the B’s were 0/2 on the power play heading into the final frame of regulation.

DeBrusk thought he scored early in the third period when he rang the crossbar on a shot that bounced at the goal line, but the rubber biscuit just didn’t cross over the goal line completely– bouncing at an angle out of the crease and resulting in a “no goal” call (even after review).

Moments later, Bjork worked the puck to DeBrusk in the trapezoid who promptly sent it back to Bjork (1) for the goal from point blank while crashing the low slot to give the Bruins their first lead of the night, 2-1.

Bjork’s goal was assisted by DeBrusk (2) and Kevan Miller (2) at 9:00 of the third period.

Less than a minute later, Wagner and Anthony Bitetto exchanged fisticuffs, yielding fighting majors to go with a high sticking minor and a roughing infraction, respectively at 9:17.

It was the fourth fight this season for Boston and the first since Clifton fought Nicolas Aube-Kubel on Feb. 5th in Philadelphia.

A couple of minutes later, Ryan Lindgren let go of a shot from the point that Lemieux possibly tipped with a high stick, but deflected the rubber biscuit off of Grzelcyk before bouncing off of Rask and landing in the crease.

Kevin Rooney (3) was in the right place at the right time to pocket the puck into the twine and tie the game, 2-2.

Lemieux (2) and Lindgren (3) notched the assists as New York evened things up at 11:22 of the third period, despite a review that confirmed the call on the ice (goal).

Less than a couple minutes later, David Krejci tripped Lemieux and was assessed a minor penalty at 13:02, but the Rangers couldn’t muster anything on the ensuing power play.

As time winded down in the third period, Rask took an excursion towards the bench mistakenly believing the score to be, 2-1, in favor of the Rangers.

After Charlie McAvoy and the rest of the Bruins bench alerted their netminder that the game was actually tied, Rask returned to his crease unscathed and with a good laugh at the next stoppage of play.

With the score tied, 2-2, after regulation, the two clubs required overtime (at least) to determine a winner, despite New York holding an advantage in shots on goal, 35-31, after 60 minutes of action– including a, 15-6, advantage in the third period alone.

The Rangers also held the advantage in blocked shots (17-9), giveaways (15-14) and hits (29-21), while the Bruins led in takeaways (7-6) and faceoff win% (68-32).

As no penalties were called in the overtime period, both sides finished 0/2 on the power play Wednesday night.

Cassidy started Patrice Bergeron, Marchand and McAvoy in the overtime period, while New York head coach, David Quinn, countered with Mika Zibanejad, Pavel Buchnevich and Adam Fox.

Marchand had a chance early in the overtime period to end it, but the puck just wouldn’t settle the right way as the veteran Bruin forward was tripped and instead presented a chance for the Rangers to score at the opposite end.

After Boston broke up New York’s play, Bergeron worked the puck to McAvoy who then fed Marchand with a lead pass to set Marchand (8) on a breakaway whereby No. 63 in black and gold deked and sent a shot off the left post and in behind Georgiev to win the game, 3-2.

McAvoy (10) and Bergeron (10) notched the assists on Marchand’s game-winning overtime goal 36 seconds into the extra frame as the Bruins sealed the deal on the victory.

At the final horn Boston had won, 3-2, despite finishing the night behind in shots on goal, 35-32, to the Rangers (the Bruins had a, 1-0, shot advantage in overtime alone, however).

New York wrapped up Wednesday night’s action leading in blocked shots (17-9) and hits (29-21), while the B’s finished the night leading in faceoff win% (69-31).

Both teams had 15 hits aside as the Bruins improved to 3-2 in overtime (5-2 past regulation) this season.

The Rangers, on the other hand, fell to 1-2 in overtime alone (1-3 past regulation) in 2020-21.

With the primary assist on Marchand’s game-winning goal, McAvoy extended his assist streak to eight games (1-10–11 totals in that span)– becoming the first Bruins defender to record at least an eight-game assist streak since Ray Bourque’s 10-game streak in the 1992-93 season (Bourque had 4-13–17 totals in that span).

Boston improved to 2-0-2 when trailing after the first period, 3-1-1 when tied after the second period and 4-1-2 when allowing the game’s first goal this season.

The Bruins take on the Rangers again at Madison Square Garden on Friday before venturing to Long Island to face the New York Islanders on Saturday. Boston was scheduled to return home on Feb. 15th to face the New Jersey Devils, but that game has already been postponed due to numerous Devils players being in COVID protocol.

The B’s are scheduled to return home on Feb. 18th against New Jersey before facing the Philadelphia Flyers on Feb. 21st outdoors at Lake Tahoe.

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NHL Nick's Net Previews

2020 Stanley Cup Qualifier Preview: Eastern Conference

Hockey’s back. In August!?! In this economy?!?

Yes, truer words have never been spoken. Hockey. Is. Back.

But not in the way you’re probably thinking if you’ve been under a rock for the last– let’s see, what month is it now?

The National Hockey League paused the 2019-20 regular season on March 12th due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic before canceling the rest of the regular season in late May and announcing a 24-team playoff format for 2020.

Make no mistake, whether you put an asterisk next to the winners of the 2020 Stanley Cup Final or not– it’ll be the hardest Cup to win since Lord Stanley of Preston announced he’d donate the silver rose bowl to the best hockey team in the world (so Canada) on March 18, 1892.

Despite all the training world class athletes do in contemporary times, nothing could prepare any athlete to stop playing, go through training camp after months of (in some cases) not being able to skate on any ice, then go full throttle for a championship tournament.

If anything, the asterisk next to the 2020 Stanley Cup champions will simply be a marker for the challenging times and remarkable feats of athleticism that team went through to put it all together and lift a 35-pound trophy at the end.

By now you’ve probably heard how the 2020 postseason will work– 24 teams vying for 16 spots, with eight teams (four in each conference) already locked into the playoffs, but fighting for the top-four seeds as the other 16 teams compete in a best-of-five series to punch a ticket into the playoffs.

Those 16 teams are in the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers, which technically isn’t part of the 2020 postseason according to the NHL, but the individual player and team stats will count towards the playoffs in the record books.

So for Arizona Coyotes fans, the long standing playoff drought since 2012, technically isn’t over yet. They’d have to beat the Nashville Predators first.

With all of that in mind, let’s take a look at the Eastern Conference Qualifiers, while the Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers sort themselves out.

All Eastern Conference games will be at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario until the Eastern Conference Final and Stanley Cup Final (both of which will be held in Edmonton, Alberta at Rogers Place).

(5) Pittsburgh Penguins (40-23-6, 86 points) vs (12) Montreal Canadiens (31-31-9, 71 points)

Pittsburgh: 69 games played, .623 points percentage, 29 regulation wins.

Montreal: 71 games played, .500 points percentage, 19 regulation wins.

The Pittsburgh Penguins were 5th in the Eastern Conference at the time of the pause and being led by Evgeni Malkin with 74 points in 55 games played, while Bryan Rust (56 points in 55 games) and Sidney Crosby 47 points in 41 games) trailed the Russian star on the roster. 

Yes, Malkin missed 14 games and still amassed 74 points in a season for the Penguins, while Pens head coach, Mike Sullivan, carefully charted the course through a bevy of injuries to bring his team within striking range of the Metropolitan Division lead had the regular season seen its full conclusion.

The Washington Capitals topped the Metropolitan Division with 90 points. The Philadelphia Flyers had 89. Pittsburgh had 86.

An annual Stanley Cup contender since Sullivan led the Penguins to back-to-back Cups in 2016 and 2017 (their second and third since 2009– fourth and fifth in franchise history), Pittsburgh’s goaltending might be the only thing that holds them back from their 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifier matchup with the Montreal Canadiens.

Matt Murray had a down year with a 2.87 goals against average and an .899 save percentage in 38 games played– his worst goals against average since he had a 2.92 GAA in 49 games in 2017-18 and his worst-career save percentage in a season. Murray finished the shortened season with a 20-11-5 record and one shutout in 38 starts.

Backup netminder, Tristan Jarry, went 20-12-1 in 33 games played (31 starts) and had a 2.43 GAA, as well as a .921 SV% and three shutouts.

Murray’s leash through the exhibition games should be a short one, despite his career 2.16 GAA and .921 SV% in 48 Stanley Cup Playoff games. His goals against average reached a career-low 1.70 in 11 games en route to Pittsburgh’s Cup win in 2017, but rose to a 2.43 in 2018 (12 games) and a 3.02 in 2019 (four games) as the Penguins were swept by the New York Islanders in last year’s First Round.

It’s not that he can’t bounce back, but rather that Sullivan should ride the hotter goaltender and force a little healthy competition if it yields the best in Murray’s game. If not, it’ll either be sink or swim with Jarry in the crease.

At the other end of the rink, the Montreal Canadiens went .500 this season and were mired in 12th place in the Eastern Conference at the stoppage with what looked like little hope for a late season surge into the postseason, despite leading scorer, Tomas Tatar (22-39–61 totals in 68 games played) and starting goaltender, Carey Price’s best efforts.

Phillip Danault had the second-most points on the Habs roster this season with 13 goals and 34 assists (47 points) in 71 games played, while Max Domi was third in scoring on the team with 44 points in 71 games.

Price led Montreal in net with a 27-25-6 record in 58 games played (58 starts), a 2.79 GAA, a .909 SV% and four shutouts this season. Since his 2.23 GAA and .923 SV% in 62 games in 2016-17, Price has not had a goals against average below 2.30 or a save percentage better than .920. He had a 3.11 GAA and a .900 SV% in 49 games in 2017-18, as well as a 2.49 GAA and a .918 SV% in 66 games last season.

As he approaches his mid-30s and the league shifts more and more towards tandem goaltending, Price shouldn’t be playing more than 50 games in a regular season, but the Canadiens struggled with finding a backup this season.

Charlie Lindgren went 2-4-0 in six games (six starts) and had a 3.33 GAA, as well as an .888 SV%. Meanwhile, Cayden Primeau went 1-1-0 in two games (both starts) and had a 2.52 GAA and a .931 SV%.

Keith Kinkaid also made an appearance with six games played (five starts), a 1-1-3 record, a 4.24 GAA and an .875 SV%.

Claude Julien has over 400 regular season wins as the head coach of the Boston Bruins and won the Cup with the B’s in 2011, but that was nine years ago and he’s three full seasons into his second stint behind the bench as head coach of the Canadiens.

His teams aren’t known for keeling over and being swept out of the playoffs, so they’ll likely be able to win one as Montreal scratches and claws their way to victory in classic Julien-style blue-collar work ethic fashion, but can he get it done against Pittsburgh in today’s NHL?

Especially when falling behind the eight ball is even more significant in a best-of-five series than it is in a best-of-seven.

Price might be fresh, but Pittsburgh’s got an offense and a defense. Plus the Penguins did win two out of their three regular season matchups and Crosby and Malkin are ready to make yet another postseason appearance– regardless of how far things will actually go.

It’s not out of the question that the Habs will be able to steal a game, but the Penguins should have this series wrapped up in four games and punch their ticket to the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Regular season outcomes:

4-1 MTL at PPG Paints Arena on Dec. 10th, 3-2 F/OT PIT at Bell Centre on Jan. 4th, 4-1 PIT at PPG Paints Arena on Feb. 14th

Schedule:

8/1- Game 1 MTL @ PIT in Toronto 8 PM ET on NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS

8/3- Game 2 MTL @ PIT in Toronto 8 PM ET NBCSN, SN, TVAS

8/5- Game 3 PIT @ MTL in Toronto 8 PM ET NBCSN, SN, TVAS

8/7- Game 4 PIT @ MTL in Toronto*

8/8- Game 5 MTL @ PIT in Toronto*

*If necessary

(6) Carolina Hurricanes (38-25-5, 81 points) vs (11) New York Rangers (37-28-5, 79 points)

Carolina: 68 games played, .596 points percentage, 27 regulation wins

N.Y. Rangers: 70 games played, .564 points percentage, 31 regulation wins

Rod Brind’Amour and the Carolina Hurricanes have their work cut out for them in what just might be the only series that would be an upset if the higher seed wins. The Hurricanes lost all four regular season matchups against the Rangers, despite Sebastian Aho’s team-leading 66 points in 68 games on the season.

Aho set a new career-high in goals (38) and had a pair of goals against New York this season, but fell shy of establishing a new career-high in points after putting up 83 points in 82 games last season. Of course, a pandemic shortened regular season will have something to do with that.

Regardless, he was on pace for about 80 points at the time the NHL season was paused.

Teuvo Teravainen continued to show that he’s one of the most consistent performers in the league with a respectable 48 assists and 63 points in 68 games played as one of Carolina’s more “veteran” players, despite only being 25-years-old.

Meanwhile, Andrei Svechnikov scored two lacrosse goals this season and managed to improve on all fronts from his rookie season (20-17–37 totals in 82 games last season) with 24 goals and 37 assists (61 points) in 68 games in 2019-20. He was on pace for almost 30 goals and around 73 points in his sophomore season had the pandemic not called it short.

In goal, David Ayres led the way with– just kidding– Petr Mrazek went 21-16-2 in 40 games this season (38 starts) and had a 2.69 GAA, as well as a .905 SV% and three shutouts. Not great, but not the worst entering the Qualifiers.

He’ll have to do much better than his 2.73 GAA and .894 SV% in 11 games in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs if he has any hopes of catapulting his team over the Rangers and backstopping them to a deep playoff run like last year.

That said, Curtis McElhinney was the one that replaced him against the Boston Bruins in the 2019 Eastern Conference Final after Mrazek allowed ten goals against in the series, compared to McElhinney’s five.

The good news for the Hurricanes, however, is that McElhinney’s numbers have been way off the mark this season and he’s the current backup for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Plus James Reimer exists in Carolina.

Reimer went 14-6-2 in 25 games for the Canes this season and had a 2.66 GAA, as well as a .914 SV% and three shutouts– so basically he’s the same as Mrazek, only Reimer’s looking for a bigger redemption arc in the postseason than being remembered as the Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender in Boston’s epic, 5-4, overtime comeback in the 2013 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal.

That wasn’t even Reimer’s last appearance in the playoffs, however, as he had a brief stint (29 minutes) with the San Jose Sharks en route to their 2016 Stanley Cup Final appearance.

Brind’Amour might be wise to use his best defensive game and start Reimer in Game 1 against the Rangers, except Mrazek had an .861 SV% against New York in three games this season, while Reimer had a .792 SV%.

Advantage… …Mrazek? But on a short leash?

On the other hand, the New York Rangers enter their Qualifier matchup with the Hurricanes two points behind Carolina in the season standings and three spots behind them in the Metropolitan Division standings that are virtually obsolete this postseason.

The Hurricanes had 81 points. The Rangers had 79 points. First place through seventh place in the division was separated by 11 points at the time of the stoppage.

And at that point, 2019-20 Hart Memorial Trophy finalist, Artemi Panarin, had already amassed 32-63–95 totals in 69 games for New York.

He had nine points (three goals, six assists) against the Hurricanes this season, while Mika Zibanejad sat 20 points behind Panarin in team scoring with 41 goals and 34 assists (75 points) in 57 games– including four goals and three assists against Carolina this season.

Ryan Strome carried third place honors for the Rangers in scoring this season with 18-41–59 totals in 70 games.

Rangers head coach, David Quinn, also doesn’t have an easy decision to make with his goaltenders heading to Toronto for their series against Carolina.

Henrik Lundqvist made three starts against the Canes and went 3-0-0, while stopping 125 shots out of 132 shots against (.947 SV%) in that span.

Igor Shesterkin made 27 saves on 29 shots against (.931 SV%) in his one start and one win against Carolina this season.

Lundqvist went 10-12-3 on the season in 30 games played (26 starts) with a 3.16 GAA, a .905 SV% and one shutout.

Shesterkin went 10-2-0 in 12 games played (12 starts) and had a 2.52 GAA, as well as a .932 SV%.

Oh yeah, and Alexandar Georgiev went 17-14-2 in 34 games (32 starts) while putting up a 3.04 GAA, a .910 SV% and two shutouts.

One thing is clearer now more than ever before– “King Henrik” is no longer king in “The Big Apple”.

Shesterkin should receive the nod for the playoffs, but this is just the Qualifier. It technically doesn’t count unless you win three out of the next possible five games.

In that case, Quinn could rely on Lundqvist to get the job done, then give Shesterkin his first real taste of the NHL’s toughest job– being a goaltender in the playoffs– since Lundqvist has a history for seemingly always having Carolina’s number when it matters most for the Hurricanes.

Regardless of who’s in net, New York holds all the advantages coming into this series.

The Rangers scored 17 goals for against Hurricanes and allowed nine goals against over their four games against one another.

Carolina threw the kitchen sink at New York on net– totaling 161 shots on goal in their four regular season matchups with the Blue Shirts– but Lundqvist was the key difference maker.

That said, the Hurricanes knocked off the then defending Cup champion Washington Capitals in seven games in last year’s First Round.

But can Brind’Amour motivate his players enough to get the job done more efficiently when the series is only a best-of-five instead of having the luxury to drag things out all seven games like they did against the Caps?

And with back-to-back games incorporated in the schedule, conditions are clearly unfavorable for the Hurricanes in their David and Goliath matchup (again, despite being the higher seed).

One thing that works in their favor? There’s no travel outside the bubble to and from the games, so that’s a plus.

Knowing how The Hockey Gods work, it’d be foolish not to believe this series won’t go all five games just because. Either that or Carolina will pull off the three-game sweep of the Rangers after losing every single regular season game against New York in 2019-20.

Flip a coin and that’s your winner– this series might just be a lot closer and more intense than you think.

Rangers in five, but don’t be surprised if/when Carolina defeats them.

Sit back and enjoy.

Regular season outcomes:

4-2 NYR at PNC Arena on Nov. 7th, 3-2 NYR at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 27th, 5-3 NYR at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 27th, 5-2 NYR at PNC Arena on Feb. 21st

Schedule:

8/1- Game 1 NYR @ CAR in Toronto 12 PM ET on NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN, SN360, TVAS

8/3- Game 2 NYR @ CAR in Toronto 12 PM ET on NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN, SN360, TVAS

8/4- Game 3 CAR @ NYR in Toronto 8 PM ET on NBCSN, SN360, TVAS

8/6- Game 4 CAR @ NYR in Toronto*

8/8- Game 5 NYR @ CAR in Toronto*

*If necessary

(7) New York Islanders (35-23-10, 80 points) vs (10) Florida Panthers (35-26-8, 78 points)

N.Y. Islanders: 68 games played, .588 points percentage, 24 regulation wins

Florida: 69 games played, .565 points percentage, 30 regulation wins

Barry Trotz is still coaching the trap in today’s NHL, which, honestly, you have to hand it to him. His defense first mindset has turned the New York Islanders into a playoff contender since his arrival last season.

The only bad thing that’s come with Trotz’s arrival and John Tavares’ departure– a lack of goal scoring.

It’s no secret that to win games, your team must score more goals than the other team, whether it’s a, 10-9, high-scoring victory or a, 1-0, shutout.

Unfortunately for Trotz, the Isles ranked ninth in fewest goals for this season with 192, which is the worst among all the Qualifier team. Yes, even Montreal and Chicago each had 212 goals for this season, despite their minus-6 and minus-9 goal differentials, respectively.

At least the Islanders only allowed one more goal than they scored in the pandemic shortened regular season.

Anyway, Mathew Barzal led the charge for New York this season with 19-41–60 totals in 68 games played, while Brock Nelson (54 points in 68 games) and Anders Lee (43 points in 68 games) followed suit.

Barzal was on pace for 23 goals and 72 points this season, which would’ve been a career-high in goals in a season for the young forward only having just completed his third full season. Nevertheless, scoring at least 60 points in three consecutive seasons is respectable.

Nelson scored 26 goals this season, which marked back to back seasons of at least 20 goals for the 28-year-old. He was on pace for 31 goals in what was already a career-season in the making.

Lee was on pace for 52 points after putting up 20-23–43 totals in 68 games, which would have given him four consecutive seasons of 50-plus points.

But it’s not all about what would’ve been for the Islanders, because the future is here in goaltender Ilya Sorokin– oh wait, he can’t play in the 2020 postseason due to the NHL’s Return to Play rulings, which is fine– just means that next year’s looking good for the Isles.

In net, Semyon Varlamov amassed a 19-14-6 record in 45 games played (39 starts) with a 2.62 GAA and a .914 SV%, as well as two shutouts to go with it.

Ideally, you’d like a starting goaltender in the NHL to be closer to 2.50, maybe even 2.30 in goals against average and around a .920 in save percentage, but we addressed some of New York’s shortcomings this season– a lack of offense and injuries on defense with Adam Pelech limited to 38 games.

Thomas Greiss had a 16-9-4 record in 31 games (29 starts) with a 2.74 GAA and a .913 SV% in the process.

It’s likely his last season on Long Island/in Brooklyn with Sorokin signed for the next couple of seasons, so if he sees any ice time in the series, he’ll have to be better in order to prove his next payday at the expense of another team via free agency in November.

New York brought in Jean-Gabriel Pageau at the trade deadline from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for a conditional 2020 1st round pick (can become a 2021 1st round pick if the Islanders lose in the Qualifier and win the 1st overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft–a.k.a. top-3 lottery protected), a 2020 2nd round pick and a conditional 2022 3rd round pick (if New York wins the Cup in 2020), then signed Pageau to a six-year extension worth $5.000 million per season.

Though it was all too short to effectively judge Pageau in an Islanders sweater, it’s worth noting he scored two goals in seven games so far. That’s it.

A boost for the third line, sure, but his effectiveness in a new surrounding remains to be seen, which could be a key to New York defeating the Florida Panthers who lack an important figure in Vincent Trocheck since trading him to the Carolina Hurricanes for Erik Haula, Lucas Wallmark, Chase Priskie and Eetu Luostarinen at the deadline on Feb. 24th.

Speaking of the Panthers, Florida was led by Jonathan Huberdeau in scoring this season with 23 goals and 55 assists (78 points) in 69 games this season.

Aleksander Barkov had his fifth consecutive 20-goal season– one season removed from his career-high 35 goals (and 96 points!) last season– and was on pace for 25 tallies this season at the stoppage.

And bringing up the rear in Florida’s top-three scorers this season was Mike Hoffman with 29 goals and 30 assists (59 points) in 69 games. Hoffman finished one goal shy of back to back 30-goal seasons and was on pace to match his career-high 70 points in a season had the regular season been uninterrupted.

In goal, Sergei Bobrovsky probably wishes he could ask for a mulligan this season after going 23-19-6 in 50 games played (49 starts) and amassing a 3.23 GAA, as well as a .900 SV% and one shutout.

Yes, you read that right– one shutout this season. After leading the league with nine shutouts last season, Bobrovsky was far beyond a disappointment in his first year of a seven-year, $70 million contract.

Meanwhile, Sam Montembeault (5-5-1) started the season as Florida’s backup, but things took a turn after his 3.34 GAA and .890 SV% in 14 games played (nine starts) were no better than Bobrovsky’s career-worst season as a starter.

Alas, Chris Driedger was called up from the Springfield Thunderbirds (AHL) and put up a 7-2-1 record in 12 games played with a 2.05 GAA, a .938 SV% and one shutout in that span.

The Islanders beat the Panthers in all three regular season matchups this season, but New York has yet to face Driedger.

A word to the wise for Florida’s head coach, Joel Quenneville– what more could you lose by starting Driedger in Game 1?

Bobrovsky hasn’t had the form all season and isn’t going into the playoffs as your surefire starter– $10.000 million cap hit or not. Pray he returns to his two-time Vezina Trophy winning ability in time for 2020-21, but for now he hasn’t earned starter duties and your main focus is on winning three games, let alone going for the Cup with whatever you have for a roster.

The Islanders scored eight goals in their three games against the Panthers this season. They allowed four goals against, while Florida– to their credit– forced New York to a shootout in their first meeting back on Oct. 12th.

New York had 94 total shots on goal against Florida this season.

The Panthers had 108 shots against the Islanders.

It should be a close battle with each team ravaged in some manner– whether by injuries that plagued them all season or lackluster goaltending, neither club is exactly turning heads out there.

The Panthers lost in six games to the Islanders in the 2016 First Round, but this time around it’s a best of five.

New York should win in four games as Trotz has more recent playoff success and the more recent playoff experienced roster to go off of than, yes, Quenneville’s three Stanley Cup Rings from the last ten years.

It’s not that Quenneville can’t pull off the upset, but rather that the Panthers aren’t ready to make a dent in the postseason picture without all the necessary pieces.

The good news for them, at least, is they have a tried and true coach to guide them through what for now will be some growing pains.

Unless 20-goal scorer Noel Acciari pockets a hat trick in three straight games, which sounds quite plausible these days, so who knows!?

Regular season outcomes:

3-2 F/SO NYI at NYCB Live/Nassau Coliseum on Oct. 12th, 2-1 NYI at Barclays Center on Nov. 9th, 3-1 NYI at BB&T Center on Dec. 12th

Schedule:

8/1- Game 1 FLA @ NYI in Toronto 4 PM ET on NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN1, TVAS

8/4- Game 2 FLA @ NYI in Toronto 12 PM ET on NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN, TVAS

8/5- Game 3 NYI @ FLA in Toronto 12 PM ET on NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN, TVAS

8/7- Game 4 NYI @ FLA in Toronto*

8/9- Game 5 FLA @ NYI in Toronto*

*If necessary

(8) Toronto Maple Leafs (36-25-9, 81 points) vs (9) Columbus Blue Jackets (33-22-15, 81 points)

Toronto: 70 games played, .579 points percentage, 28 regulation wins

Columbus: 70 games played, .579 points percentage, 25 regulation wins

The Toronto Maple Leafs have home ice advantage and– well, technically, the Qualifier isn’t considered part of the playoffs and there’s a pandemic going on, so no fans are allowed inside the bubble.

But hey, at least there’s hockey in Canadian New York City, so we’ll take it!

The Leafs were led by Auston Matthews in scoring this season as the 22-year-old center finished third in the NHL in goals with 47 of them in 70 games played. He had 80 points overall, which established career-highs in both goals and points in his fourth NHL season– and fourth consecutive season with at least 30 goals.

Oh and for the second time in his young career, Matthews reached the 40-goal plateau and was on the cusp of 50 had it not been for the ongoing pandemic cutting things short. He was on pace for 55 goals at the stoppage.

Mitchell Marner was second on the Leafs roster in scoring with 16-51–67 totals in 59 games played– surpassing the 50-assist plateau for the second straight season and further proving his vital role as a playmaker on the roster.

Meanwhile, John Tavares had 26 goals and 34 assists (60 points) in 63 games, which was down from his 47-41–88 totals last season, but then again, he was on pace for 78 points this season had the regular season seen its proper conclusion, so really he wasn’t all that far off from a typical Tavares year.

As it is, the only time Tavares has ever had less than 50 points in a season was in the lockout shortened, 48-game, 2012-13 season, in which he had 47 points in all 48 games.

Yeah, he’s pretty good.

In the crease, the Maple Leafs were led by Frederik Anderson (29-13-7 record in 52 games played, 2.85 GAA, .909 SV%, three shutouts), but hold the phone! What’s this? Toronto acquired a legitimate backup netminder during the season!?!

That’s right, Jack Campbell (3-2-1 in six games with Toronto, six starts, 2.63 GAA, .915 SV% in that span) is a Maple Leaf and– heaven forbid– is more than capable of bailing out Toronto if things get dire with Andersen.

Oh and Sheldon Keefe is in charge behind the bench.

Plus there’s a wild card this year for Toronto that the rest of the league has yet to see– Nick Robertson. You know, the forward that had 55-31–88 totals in 46 games with the Peterborough Petes (OHL) this season and brings both even more speed and skill to the Maple Leafs lineup.

At the other side of the rink, the Columbus Blue Jackets were battered all season and had a trio of goaltenders at one point as a result, yet somehow, here they are to the surprise of all the experts that had them pegged for 8th place in the Metropolitan Division heading into the 2019-20 season after losing Artemi Panarin, Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel and Sergei Bobrovsky in free agency.

It’s all just part of the plan.

Many had them out against the Lightning last year and, well, the Blue Jackets brought the thunder in that series.

Unfortunately for CBJ fans, they couldn’t bring the cannon through customs, but they were able to bring their leading scorer, Pierre-Luc Dubois, and his 18-31–49 totals in 70 games this season.

Gustav Nyquist had a respectable 42-point season (15 goals, 27 assists) in 70 games with Columbus after being brought in via free agency, while Zach Werenski was third on the team in scoring with 20 goals and 21 assists (41 points) from the blue line in 63 games.

Columbus has the better defense on paper, but Toronto’s offense has more than enough firepower to outmatch the Blue Jackets’ best efforts.

In goal, however, emerged the rise of a new king (but not of rock)– Elvis Merzlikins. Though Joonas Korpisalo (19-12-5, 2.60 GAA, .911 SV%, two shutouts) played in more games (37 played, 35 starts) than Merzlikins, No. 90 in red, white and blue had the better numbers with a 13-9-8 record in 33 games played (31 starts), as well as a 2.35 GAA, a .923 SV% and five shutouts.

It’s the dawn of a new age in Columbus as a hot, young, goaltending tandem has arrived with the departure of Bobrovsky.

It’ll be Merzlikins’ biggest test, but the Blue Jackets just might be a lot better off now more than ever riding the hot goaltender.

Plus they struck down the dragon last spring and made it out of the First Round for the first time in franchise history, so now anything’s possible moving forward.

On paper this is the most even matchup as both teams finished with 81 points, had 70 games played and went won one out of the two games they played against one another before the pandemic shortened the regular season, but it’s hard to ignore one thing– Tortorella.

Once more Tortorella is a Jack Adams Award finalist and, oh yeah, he’s kind of responsible for figuring out how to not only beat, but sweep the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2019 First Round– you know, last year’s Presidents’ Trophy winners.

But a newcomer has entered the chat and that’s Keefe. He led the Toronto Marlies (AHL) to the 2018 Calder Cup championship and many of the players in the Leafs system have encountered his touch in recent years.

Is Keefe the answer to Toronto’s prayers or will yet another team that’s come into the league since their last Cup in 1967 raise Lord Stanley’s mug over their heads while the Maple Leafs are off somewhere preparing for next season?

The good news, this isn’t technically the playoffs yet, so that means Toronto’s got a better chance off the bat.

There’s not as much of a distraction surrounding their opponent (*ahem* for once, it’s not Boston!– yet, anyway), let alone the “hasn’t made it out of the First Round since before the 2004-05 season-long lockout” specter that shadows the Leafs.

The bad news, they’re the Maple Leafs. Of course only something like a pandemic would throw off any momentum they had going into a possible playoff run, etc.

Imagine if the Chicago Cubs didn’t win in 2016, or the Boston Red Sox didn’t win in 2004– yeah, that’s how most Toronto fans feel day-in and day-out– no matter how confident– no matter how much belief they have in the team.

There’s always that chance that something something goes wrong and the curse or whatever remains hanging over the Maple Leafs dressing room and front office.

Leafs in five, then we’ll see what happens, but Tortorella’s teams aren’t easy to knock off their game. This alone might be Toronto’s greatest test in the Matthews, Marner and Co. Era.

Mike Babcock’s gone. They’re playing the “new age” game. Can they get it done?

Regular season outcomes:

4-1 TOR at Nationwide Arena on Oct. 4th, 4-3 F/OT CBJ at Scotiabank Arena on Oct. 21st

Schedule:

8/2- Game 1 CBJ @ TOR 8 PM ET on NHLN, SN, TVAS

8/4- Game 2 CBJ @ TOR 4 PM ET on NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN, TVAS

8/6- Game 3 TOR @ CBJ in Toronto TBD

8/7- Game 4 TOR @ CBJ in Toronto*

8/9- Game 5 CBJ @ TOR*

*If necessary


2020 Eastern Conference Round Robin Action

Here’s a quick glance at the Round Robin schedule for the top-four Eastern Conference teams if you’re not at all interested in the Qualifiers for some reason.

Again, all games in the Eastern Conference are in Toronto this year and all times Eastern.

Boston Bruins

44-14-12, 100 points, 70 GP, .714 PTS%, 38 RW

Aug. 2nd vs. PHI in Toronto 3 PM ET on NBC, SN, TVAS

Aug. 5th vs. TBL in Toronto 4 PM ET on NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN, TVAS

Aug. 9th @ WSH in Toronto, TBD

Tampa Bay Lightning

43-21-6, 92 points, 70 GP, .657 PTS%, 35 RW

Aug. 3rd vs. WSH in Toronto 4 PM ET on NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN360, TVAS

Aug. 5th @ BOS in Toronto 4 PM ET on NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN, TVAS

Aug. 8th vs. PHI in Toronto, TBD

Washington Capitals

41-20-8, 90 points, 69 GP, .652 PTS%, 31 RW

Aug. 3rd @TBL in Toronto 4 PM ET on NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN360, TVAS

Aug. 6th @ PHI in Toronto, TBD

Aug. 9th vs. BOS in Toronto, TBD

Philadelphia Flyers

41-21-7, 89 points, 69 GP, .645 PTS%, 31 RW

Aug. 2nd @ BOS in Toronto 3 PM ET on NBC, SN, TVAS

Aug. 6th vs. WSH in Toronto, TBD

Aug. 8th @ TBL in Toronto, TBD

Categories
NHL Nick's Net

Halak, B’s beat Rangers, 3-1

The Boston Bruins beat the New York Rangers, 3-1, at Madison Square Garden on Sunday afternoon and swept their regular season series (3-0-0) against New York for the first time since the 2013-14 season.

Jaroslav Halak (15-6-6 record, 2.31 goals against average, .922 save percentage in 27 games played) stopped 25 out of 26 shots faced for a .962 SV% in the win for the Bruins.

Rangers goaltender, Alexandar Georgiev (14-12-1, 2.98 GAA, .912 SV% in 28 games played) made 31 saves on 33 shots against for a .939 SV% in the loss.

Boston improved to 37-11-12 (86 points) on the season and remained in command of the Atlantic Division, while New York fell to 30-24-4 (64 points) and in 7th place in the Metropolitan Division.

The B’s also improved to 16-9-3 on the road this season and have won ten out of their last 12 games.

Boston was without the services of Kevan Miller (knee) on Sunday as the Bruins defender has yet to make his season debut due to lingering issues from his knee injury last season and subsequent re-injuries since then.

Connor Clifton (upper body), while listed as “day-to-day” since being injured against the Buffalo Sabres on Dec. 29th, was reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) ahead of Sunday’s contest as part of a conditioning stint and is likely to return to full health with Boston in the near future.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made no changes to his lineup from Saturday’s, 4-1, win against the Detroit Red Wings, while Halak was back in the net for the first time since Feb. 5th (a, 2-1, overtime win in Chicago).

Par Lindholm, John Moore and Anton Blidh served as Boston’s healthy scratches on Sunday.

Midway through the opening frame, Ryan Lindgren checked Brad Marchand along the wall at the benches and got into a bit of an exchange that resulted in only the Rangers defender heading to the penalty box with a minor infraction for roughing at 11:31 of the first period.

Boston didn’t convert on the ensuing power play.

In the final minute of the first period, Charlie McAvoy (3) ripped a shot from the point that appeared to have redirected off a New York skater prior to the puck floating in the air and over Geogiev’s shoulder for the game’s first goal at 19:18.

McAvoy’s goal– his third in the last six games for the B’s– was unassisted with 41.7 seconds left in the period.

The Bruins led, 1-0, on the scoreboard entering the first intermission and, 11-9, in shots on goal.

Boston also held the advantage in giveaways (4-3), while New York led in blocked shots (6-4), hits (11-6) and faceoff win percentage (52-48). Both teams had one takeaway aside.

The Rangers had yet to see time on the skater advantage and the Bruins were 0/1 on the power play heading into the second period.

Early in the middle frame, David Krejci caught Lindgren with a high stick on a follow through while both players went after a bouncing puck.

Krejci’s high stick drew blood and resulted in a four-minute double minor penalty at 5:06 of the second period. The Rangers failed to capitalize on the lengthy power play.

Late in the period, Marchand cross checked Lindgren after the Rangers defender shoved Bruins forward, Patrice Bergeron, after a stoppage in play in front of the New York net.

Marchand was assessed a minor infraction at 17:14 and the Rangers went on the power play.

While on the ensuing penalty kill, Charlie Coyle (14) stole the puck from New York defender, Jacob Trouba, and created his own breakaway before elevating the puck over Georgiev’s glove side to give Boston a two-goal lead.

Coyle’s short handed goal was unassisted and gave the Bruins a, 2-0, lead at 18:42 of the second period.

Less than a minute later, after killing off Marchand’s minor, Boston went on the power play after Mika Zibanejad tripped up Marchand in Boston’s own zone at 19:33.

The B’s did not score on the resulting power play.

After two periods of play, the Bruins led, 2-0, on the scoreboard and in shots on goal, 24-17.

The B’s also held the advantage in takeaways (5-4), hits (18-17) and faceoff win% (56-44), while the Rangers led in blocked shots (10-8) and giveaways (14-8).

New York was 0/3 on the power play and Boston was 0/2 on the skater advantage heading into the third period.

Karson Kuhlman kicked off the final frame with an interference minor infraction against Marc Staal at 4:23 of the third period. The Rangers did not score on the resulting power play, but got another chance almost midway through the final frame.

Torey Krug tripped up Zibanejad at 9:05 and presented New York with their fifth power play opportunity of the afternoon.

Less than a minute into the ensuing skater advantage, Zibanejad (25) rocketed a shot from the point that ricocheted off a Bruins player’s stick and into the twine behind Halak– cutting Boston’s lead in half, 2-1.

Artemi Panarin (49) and Ryan Strome (36) tallied the assists on Zibanejad’s goal at 9:52 of the third period and New York surged in momentum.

Boston was able to withstand the Rangers’ rally as New York’s head coach, David Quinn, pulled Georgiev for an extra attacker with 90 seconds remaining in regulation.

After the Bruins iced the puck with 35.5 seconds left in the game, the Rangers used their timeout to draw up one last plan in effort to tie the game, but it was to no avail as the B’s worked the puck out of their own zone upon the ensuing faceoff.

Marchand found Bergeron (26) in the dying seconds of the game for the empty net goal that assured Boston of the, 3-1, victory.

Bergeron’s goal was assisted by Marchand (51) at 19:47 of the third period and sealed the deal for the Bruins as the final horn sounded 12.2 seconds later.

Boston finished the afternoon with a “W” in the win column and the lead in shots on goal (34-26) and faceoff win% (55-45), while New York finished the game with the advantage in blocked shots (16-12), giveaways (20-12) and hits (29-25).

The Rangers finished Sunday’s effort 1/5 on the power play, while the Bruins went 0/2 on the skater advantage.

The Bruins improved to 22-7-8 when scoring the game’s first goal, 21-5-3 when leading after the first period and 22-1-6 when leading after two periods this season.

New York, on the other hand, fell to 10-16-1 when they allow the game’s first goal, 5-14-2 when trailing after the first period and 2-18-0 when trailing after two periods this season.

Boston continues their four-game road trip (1-0-0) with stops against the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday (Feb. 19th), Calgary Flames on Friday (Feb. 21st) and Vancouver Canucks next Saturday (Feb. 22nd).

The B’s return home for a two-game homestand on Feb. 25th and Feb. 27th for meetings with the Flames and Dallas Stars, respectively, before wrapping up the month of February with a road game against the New York Islanders on Feb. 29th.

Categories
Mascot Rankings NHL Nick's Net

2019-20 NHL Mascot Power Rankings

Back by popular demand– though a few months later than last season– it’s once again time to rank the NHL mascots.

In January 2017, DTFR began a new tradition of giving props for great efforts made in the community, laughs shared, smiles brought to everyone’s faces and (most importantly) character displayed by every mascot in the National Hockey League.

So without further ado, let’s get started.

31) New York Rangers 31st in 2018-19, 30th in 2017-18

The Rangers still don’t have a mascot, which in today’s day and age is a crime. Just march Brian Leetch around Madison Square Garden once in a while or something. Maybe even let Henrik Lundqvist become the team’s first mascot once he retires.

30) Al the Octopus (Detroit Red Wings) 30th in 2018-19, 26th in 2017-18

It’s a yearly tradition at this point to mention how awesome any Al the Octopus plush toy is and that it’s a shame the Red Wings never made Al the Octopus into a real thing instead of just a prop that ended up being sold for $7,700 at an auction in 2017 after Joe Louis Arena was closed and Detroit moved into their current home, Little Caesars Arena.

29) Spartacat (Ottawa Senators) 21st in 2018-19, 9th in 2017-18

Just like the Senators, Spartacat has fallen on hard times and really needs someone to love him. Unfortunately for Spartacat, he probably needs a haircut first or at least that rebrand to finally come around and give Ottawa a fresh look all-around (with new jerseys, new logos and new players).

28) Thunderbug (Tampa Bay Lightning) 18th in 2018-19, 15th in 2017-18

Being as cute as a bug no longer cuts it when you have Gritty running around causing chaos, plus other mascots really drumming up their personality bits. Perhaps Thunderbug has gotten too casual in recent years and that’s the reason why the Lightning haven’t won the Cup since 2004.

27) Nordy (Minnesota Wild) 28th in 2018-19, 24th in 2017-18

Like Minnesota sports as a whole, Nordy is just comfortable where he’s at. Nobody’s really sure whether he’s a fox, a wolf or some hybrid northern animal native to the wild, but the Wild’s mascot might also be on General Manager, Bill Guerin’s, list of assets to move at this year’s trade deadline if he’s not careful.

26) Wild Wing (Anaheim Ducks) 17th in 2018-19, 3rd in 2017-18

Wild Wing would be the perfect mascot for a roller hockey team, which is fitting for his location in southern California– where you could play roller hockey year-round. What might be a better option for the Ducks, however, would be to have legendary surfer, Rob Machado, make more appearances at Honda Center in an Anaheim sweater.

25) Sparky the Dragon (New York Islanders) 29th in 2018-19, 25th in 2017-18

With a new arena in Belmont Park looming, one would think the Islanders would make the natural switch to a horse-based mascot because, you know, horse racing and stuff. Either that or just give Sparky the Dragon a more fish-based appearance. Just add a few cuddly scales or perhaps give him a fishing rod that can also double as a hockey stick. Props go a long way at improving ratings.

24) Tommy Hawk (Chicago Blackhawks) 20th in 2018-19, 14th in 2017-18

Something about Tommy Hawk just feels off these days. Perhaps his contract will be traded in the offseason too while the Blackhawks adjust from their decade of dominance in the early 2010s to life in the 2020s.

23) Stanley C. Panther/Viktor E. Ratt (Florida Panthers) 25th in 2018-19, 20th in 2017-18

The Panthers have what some might call the “Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly of mascots”. Sure their early works were great, but their recent comedy has shown their age. Florida should put all of their focus in on one or the other– or at least give Olli Jokinen a proper display case inside BB&T Center.

22) Hunter (Edmonton Oilers) 26th in 2018-19, 23rd in 2017-18

Hunter’s redeeming quality this year is the new alternate threads for the Oilers. Edmonton’s new third sweaters help take away the scary qualities of this lovable lynx if you could only see through his otherwise terror inducing mane.

21) Howler (Arizona Coyotes) 27th in 2018-19, 21st in 2017-18

The Coyotes are embracing their kachina sweaters like never before and we can only hope that Howler will have to wear them full-time in the near future. If not, he’ll continue to be average in ranking. Your move, Arizona.

20) Bernie the St. Bernard (Colorado Avalanche) 22nd in 2018-19, 22nd in 2017-18

There’s nothing inherently wrong with Bernie the St. Bernard, since St. Bernard dogs are usually the go-to rescue animals in the event of an avalanche in the real world, but it’s just a little too on the nose compared to the Yeti that once walked the corridors of Pepsi Center.

It was as close to a Sasquatch as you’d see in an NHL arena– until Seattle joins the fray in 2021, that is (hopefully they take our suggestion for a mascot). So yeah… the Avalanche have an average mascot.

19) Youppi! (Montreal Canadiens) 10th in 2018-19, 6th in 2017-18

Look, there’s nothing bad about Youppi!, but has anyone heard from him lately? I mean, is everything ok? First the Tampa Bay Rays jettison their plans for a potential split-season between St. Petersburg and Montreal, then the Canadiens just seem to have really overlooked how much he means to the mascot world lately.

Fear not, this may be a down year in the rankings, but Youppi! should bounce back once the Expos return from their quick run to get bread and milk.

18) Bailey (Los Angeles Kings) 3rd in 2018-19, 1st in 2017-18

Cranky mascots on Twitter is getting kind of old. We’re just putting Bailey here so he can tweet at us and change our minds.

17) Harvey the Hound (Calgary Flames) 23rd in 2018-19, 18th in 2017-18

Put a shirt on for heaven’s sake. It’s winter! Canadians, man. They’re an interesting breed.

16) Chance (Vegas Golden Knights) 9th in 2018-19, 31st* in 2017-18

We gave Chance a chance, but now the Golden Knights’ mascot just seems average, if not just old news thanks to something we call “the Gritty Factor” in the industry. A good performance at the 2020 NHL Mascot Showdown could boost his ranking.

15) Mick E. Moose (Winnipeg Jets) 16th in 2018-19, 11th in 2017-18

Mick E. Moose looked stunning in Winnipeg’s 2019 Heritage Classic sweater, but unfortunately for the Jets mascot, there’s not much else going for him these days. Maybe next year.

14) Gnash (Nashville Predators) 19th in 2018-19, 17th in 2017-18

Gnash gets some bonus points for Nashville’s 2020 Winter Classic sweater, but he hasn’t done anything out of this world lately to try to capture a few more spots.

13) Slapshot (Washington Capitals) 5th in 2018-19, 4th in 2017-18

Once a rising star in the mascot ranking world, Slapshot lost a little of his edge while the Capitals roll right along with the Metropolitan Division lead. Another Stanley Cup Final run could be the cure for his ails.

12) Victor E. Green (Dallas Stars) 12th in 2018-19, 19th in 2017-18

We’re over the moon for this huggable alien in his Stars 2020 Winter Classic threads. Victor E. Green’s also still got those cute hockey stick ears going for him, but could use another viral video or two to really move him up the ranks. Anyone know if he’s on TikTok?

11) Stinger (Columbus Blue Jackets) 15th in 2018-19, 27th in 2017-18

Stinger’s quips with Greg Wyshynski are amusing and have us concerned about just how sentient all NHL mascots have become in today’s world. We’d hate for him to sting us next. The Blue Jackets, in the meantime, are slowly being forgiven over the years for the mistake that was Boomer. Meanwhile, Elvis Merzlikins’ post-win celebrations might merit their own felt-based mascot sometime soon.

10) Louie (St. Louis Blues) 14th in 2018-19, 12th in 2017-18

The Blues win one Cup in 52 years and everyone loses their minds except one being– Louie. Louie will never give you up. He’s never going to let you down (anymore). He’s never going to run around and desert you. Also, he’s just really nice, so let’s reward him with Top-10 status this season.

9) Stormy (Carolina Hurricanes) 24th in 2018-19, 28th in 2017-18

Our biggest improvement this season belongs to none other than Stormy. It may or may not have something to do with him rocking Hartford Whalers gear on Whalers Night for the past two seasons, but the Hurricanes mascot is looking fine as ever in every thread that covers that hog body.

Plus we’ll give bonus points for Hamilton the Pig and free street-cred to the wonderful fans that own and care for Hamilton.

8) Blades the Bruin (Boston Bruins) 8th in 2018-19, 5th in 2017-18

The Bruins almost saw Blades fall in this year’s rankings if it weren’t for how well he’s able to pull off that “B” on their new alternate jerseys. It seems fitting that Blades wears the first letter of his name big and bright on his jersey once in a while. Now if only we could get him to do a backflip or something.

7) Carlton the Bear (Toronto Maple Leafs) 11th in 2018-19, 13th in 2017-18

The Maple Leafs mascot is in the Top-10 for the first time in our ranking and he is looking classier than ever before for some reason. Did someone say “everything old is new again”? Because he’s old, but never going out of style. Alexa, play “Style” by Taylor Swift while we jam with Carlton the Bear and his friends.

6) Fin (Vancouver Canucks) 7th in 2018-19, 10th in 2017-18

Slow but steady has been the progress of the Canucks over the last few years that this season they might make the playoffs and next season Fin just might make the Top-5 in our mascot ranking. Unfortunately for Vancouver’s favorite orca, he’s just one spot shy of being a certified superstar in the making.

5) Gritty (Philadelphia Flyers) 4th in 2018-19, 29th* in 2017-18 (pre-Gritty)

We swear we didn’t take the easy way out by picking Gritty as this year’s top 5th place mascot, but would you honestly blame us if we did? We are all gritizens these days anyway and Gritty rules us all. It certainly helps that the Flyers introduced their “Disassembly Room” and continue to go all-in on the chaos that Gritty brings everywhere he goes.

Plus, look at all the props, costumes and sheer grit that Philly’s orange monster has for each and every event, game and everything in between.

(We also wrote this before learning of the current allegations against Philadelphia’s beloved orange ball of fur.)

4) Iceburgh (Pittsburgh Penguins) 1st in 2018-19, 7th in 2017-18

Iceburgh won top-dog– er, penguin– in last season’s mascot ranking, but things have cooled off for a bit while the Penguins mascot comes down from the many highs of being the No. 1 mascot. He’s ready to settle down and chill in his nest for a while, then go right back for the krill next year.

3) Sabretooth (Buffalo Sabres) 6th in 2018-19, 8th in 2017-18 

Just look at how phenomenal the Sabres’ 50th anniversary sweaters are, then look how much they bring out all the best qualities in Sabretooth to the forefront of this rising mascot in the ranking.

Sabretooth’s a shoe-in for Runner-Up or First Place next season when Buffalo goes back to royal blue as their primary color. The question is, will Sabretooth’s stripes change accordingly?

2) S.J. Sharkie (San Jose Sharks) 2nd in 2018-19, 2nd in 2017-18

For the third year in-a-row, S.J. Sharkie came in 2nd in our ranking. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that we think Sharkie won’t be able to win this competition like how the Sharks always find a way to disappoint their fans before (or during) the Final.

One of these years, San Jose. One of these years. Unfortunately it won’t be this year, as the Sharks are likely to miss the postseason and don’t even have their first round pick.

1) N.J. Devil (New Jersey Devils) 13th in 2018-19, 16th in 2017-18

What’s hotter than hell these days? The N.J. Devil himself.

Seriously, just look at this gorgeous mascot and you too will start questioning if you’re really that attracted to his facial hair or the fact that this guy can bench more than your cousin Tony. New Jersey, your next reason to shutdown your beaches is right in front of you and it looks way hotter.

Also, has there ever been a more relatable mascot that loves pizza just like us?


In all seriousness though, all of the league’s mascots do a great job of being an entertaining part of the game, as well as wonderful ambassadors for spreading kindness and cheer in their community.

Hats off to the people living inside the sweaty costumes and the marketing teams behind them.

Categories
NHL Nick's Net

Bergeron’s hat trick, Marchand and Pastrnak’s five-point games, lead Bruins over Rangers, 7-4

Patrice Bergeron (3-0–3 totals) scored a hat trick and his linemates, Brad Marchand (2-3–5) and David Pastrnak (0-5–5) each had five-point nights as the Boston Bruins beat the New York Rangers, 7-4, Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.

Bruins goaltender, Jaroslav Halak (3-1-1 record, 2.59 goals against average, .919 save percentage in five games played) made 25 saves on 29 shots against (.862 SV%) in the win for the B’s.

Henrik Lundqvist (2-3-0, 3.58 GAA, .906 SV% in six games played) stopped 27 out of 31 shots faced (.871 SV%) in 40 minutes played prior to being replaced before the third period by Alexandar Georgiev (1-2-1, 2.70 GAA, .923 SV% in four games played) for the final frame.

Georgiev turned aside nine out of the 11 shots he faced for an .818 SV% in the loss.

Boston improved to 8-1-2 (18 points) on the season and remained in command of 2nd place in the Atlantic Division, meanwhile, New York remained stagnant in 7th place in the Metropolitan Division with a 3-5-1 record (seven points).

For the 11th time this season, Kevan Miller (knee) and John Moore (shoulder) were out of commission due to injuries. Miller should return to full practice later this week, however, while Moore is still on track for a return in mid-November.

David Krejci (upper body) missed his 4th consecutive game, but is hopeful to return Tuesday night against the San Jose Sharks.

Karson Kuhlman (fractured right tibia) is still out and was placed on the injured reserve as he’ll be sidelined for at least four weeks.

Meanwhile, Joakim Nordstrom (infection) and Chris Wagner (foot) were new additions to Boston’s injury list Sunday night as both players took part in Saturday night’s, 3-0, shutout win over the St. Louis Blues, but were not well enough to go in New York on Sunday.

Nordstrom’s been battling some lingering issues, while Wagner blocked a shot against the Blues and went down the tunnel briefly before returning moments later on Saturday.

As a result of the mountain of injuries for the Bruins, Peter Cehlarik was recalled from the Providence Bruins (AHL) on emergency basis and made his 2019-20 season debut for Boston against the Rangers.

B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, inserted Cehlarik on the fourth line left wing and reintroduced David Backes on the right wing of the fourth line, leaving Steven Kampfer as the only healthy scratch for Boston.

Jesper Fast (personal reasons) was a healthy scratch for New York on Sunday.

Nearly 30 seconds into the game, Rangers defender, Brady Skjei tripped up Bruins alternate captain, Patrice Bergeron, and was sent to the penalty box for a minor infraction.

Boston went to the power play 35 seconds into the first period, but couldn’t muster much of anything on the skater advantage and instead took a penalty of their own shortly after New York killed off Skjei’s minor.

Cehlarik was called for hooking Libor Hajek at 2:55 of the first period and the Rangers went on their first power play of the night.

It didn’t work.

Midway through the opening frame, however, Brendan Smith let go of a shot from just past the blue line that deflected off of Torey Krug in front of his own goaltender.

Micheal Haley (1) pounced on the rebound to give the Rangers the, 1-0, lead with his first goal of the season at 10:19.

Smith (3) and Lias Andersson (1) notched the assists as New York was the first to get on the scoreboard and carried their one-goal lead into the first intermission– even after botching another power play at 12:17, after Marchand cut a rut to the sin bin for high sticking Rangers blue liner, Jacob Trouba.

After one period, New York led, 1-0, on the scoreboard, despite being outshot, 10-7, by Boston.

Both teams were pretty even in the statistical categories unrelated to shots on net and goals as the Blue Shirts led in blocked shots (9-6), giveaways (12-4) and hits (12-6) and the B’s led in takeaways (1-0) and faceoff win percentage (60-40).

The Rangers were 0/2 on the skater advantage and the Bruins were 0/1 on the power play entering the second period.

It didn’t take long for Boston to tie things up in the middle frame as Bergeron (3) scored his first goal of the night 11 seconds into the second period.

Pastrnak crashed the net and was tripped by a New York defender into Lundqvist– knocking the Rangers netminder to the ice and allowing for Bergeron to swoop in and bury the rebound.

Officials reviewed the play and determined that the call on the ice stood– it was indeed a good goal, as the play was deemed a “continuous motion” cause by New York’s own volition.

Pastrnak (8) and Marchand (11) tabbed the assists and the game was tied, 1-1.

Less than a minute later– 57 seconds, to be exact– Marchand (6) received a pass from Pastrnak, held onto the puck as he entered the low slot, deked Lundqvist off his rocker and scored to make it, 2-1, Boston at 1:08 of the second period.

Pastrnak (9) picked up his second assist of the night on the goal and Brandon Carlo (2) recorded the secondary assist– his first of two in the game on Sunday night.

About 30 seconds later, Kaapo Kakko caught Charlie McAvoy with a high stick and was sent to the box at 1:36.

Boston didn’t convert on the resulting power play.

Midway through the period, Charlie Coyle (1) scored his first goal of the season after receiving a tape-to-tape pass from McAvoy after the Bruins defender wrapped around the net.

McAvoy (3) and Zdeno Chara (1) tallied the assists on Coyle’s goal and the B’s led, 3-1, at 9:27 of the second period.

Less than a minute later, feeling as though he had been wronged on the non-call against Pastrnak (even though it was his own defender’s doing that caused No. 88 in black-and-gold to crash into the New York goaltender), Lundqvist lunged at Pastrnak while the Bruin was attempting to make a play of the puck in the trapezoid.

Marchand and Lundqvist got into a shoving match immediately thereafter and each were disciplined with roughing minors at 10:01.

Pavel Buchnevich served Lundqvist’s penalty in the box for the Rangers as both teams skated 4-on-4 for two minutes before resuming full strength action.

After serving his time in the box, Marchand (7) sniped a shot past Lundqvist to give the Bruins four unanswered goals in the second period.

Whereas on the previous goal, Coyle received a pass on a wraparound from McAvoy, this time around Coyle received a drop pass from Jake DeBrusk, wrapped around the Rangers net and sent a pass to Marchand for the goal.

Coyle (3) and DeBrusk (3) tallied the assists on Marchand’s second goal of the night at 12:09.

After allowing a fourth goal against, Rangers head coach, David Quinn, used his team’s only timeout to refocus his team.

Seconds later, Chara tripped Brendan Lemieux and was sent to the box at 12:36, but New York couldn’t convert on the resulting skater advantage.

Through 40 minutes in “The Big Apple”, the Bruins led the Rangers, 4-1, on the scoreboard and outshot New York, 31-12, entering the second intermission– including a, 21-5, advantage in the middle frame alone for Boston.

The Rangers, however, had taken advantage of nearly everything else, leading in blocked shots (14-7), takeaways (4-3), giveaways (19-8) and hits (18-10), while the Bruins led in faceoff win% (55-46).

New York was 0/3 and the B’s were 0/2 on the skater advantage to begin the final frame of regulation.

Quinn replaced Lundqvist with Georgiev prior to the start of the third period and the young Rangers goaltender was immediately put to the test less than a minute after coming into the game.

Chara (2) blasted a one-timer rocket from the point over Georgiev’s glove and the Bruins extended their lead to four-goals.

Pastrnak (10) and Carlo (3) had the assists on Chara’s goal 43 seconds into the third period and the Bruins led, 5-1.

Moments later, Pastrnak tripped up Buchnevich and presented the Rangers with yet another power play opportunity at 4:18 of the third period.

New York didn’t score and Boston successfully made the kill.

The B’s announced that forward, Par Lindholm, suffered an upper body injury at some point in the action and would not return for the night– this, after New York did the same with Mika Zibanejad back in the first period after Zibanejad got laid out on the ice along the boards on a clean hit from Bergeron.

Almost midway through the third, Buchnevich (2) cut Boston’s lead to three-goals as Artemi Panarin sent a saucer pass across the ice to Tony DeAngelo, whereby DeAngelo spotted Buchnevich in the low slot acting as a bumper for the goal.

DeAngelo (3) and Panarin (3) had the assists and the Rangers trailed, 5-2, at 8:15 of the third period.

Moments later, Bergeron (4) sent a shot from the high slot into the corner of the twine behind Georgiev for his second goal of the game and re-extended Boston’s lead back to four at 11:39.

Marchand (12) and Pastrnak (11) had the assists on Bergeron’s goal and the B’s led, 6-2.

Late in the third, Chara received a delay of game penalty for closing his hand on the puck at 17:52.

Nine seconds later, New York scored on the power play as Chris Kreider (2) snuck around Halak to pocket a rebound off the post and just across the goal line to make it, 6-3.

DeAngelo (4) and Buchnevich (6) were credited with the assists on Kreider’s goal at 18:01.

Just 21 seconds later, Skjei (1) notched his first of the season while following up on another rebound as the Bruins completely broke down in their own zone.

Panarin (4) and Ryan Strome (5) gathered the assists on Skjei’s goal and the Rangers trailed by two, 6-4, in favor of Boston at 18:22.

But with about 90 seconds left on the clock, Quinn pulled Georgiev for an extra attacker, leaving Bergeron (5) with the hat trick goal on an empty net at 19:15 to seal the deal on the win for the B’s, 7-4.

Marchand (13) and Pastrnak (12) each collected their 5th point of the night on Bergeron’s 5th career hat trick.

The Bruins finished the night with the win and with the advantage in shots on goal, 43-29, while the Rangers bounced back to a, 17-12, advantage in shots on net in the third period alone.

New York wrapped up Sunday night’s action leading in blocked shots (16-12), giveaways (25-13), hits (21-15).

The Rangers went 1/5 on the skater advantage in the game.

Boston finished the night with the advantage in faceoff win% (52-49) and 0/2 on the power play.

Bergeron’s hat trick marked Boston’s second hat trick this season as Pastrnak previously scored a hat trick (and a fourth goal for good measure) in the Bruins’, 4-2, victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Oct. 14th.

With five assists on the night– despite not scoring a goal– Pastrnak now has 11-12–23 totals through 11 games played this season.

Boston finishes the month of October at home Tuesday night versus the San Jose Sharks. They begin the month of November at home against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday (Nov. 2nd).

The Bruins went 8-3-2 in back-to-back days with games last season and improved to 4-1-1 on the road this season.

Sunday night’s matchup was the 2,000th regular season game at “The World’s Most Famous Arena”, Madison Square Garden.