All of the (good) RFAs have been re-signed, the Carolina Hurricanes keep making moves, 2020 Winter Classic logos have been revealed and DTFR’s season previews conclude with the Central Division.
Nick and Colby recap the headlines from the last month as well as take a look at all of the New York market teams and try to figure out if any of them are actually any good as Season Six of the podcast begins.
The salary cap isn’t going up as much as everyone hoped. Also, there were plenty of trades, buyouts and extensions handed out in the last week. Nick, Colby, Cap’n and Pete examine each move and pick 2019 NHL Awards winners.
The Boston Bruins are flirting with the 100-point plateau this season after their 5-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Thursday.
Boston can reach 100 points on the season in Saturday night’s tango with the Florida Panthers as the B’s roll on with their four-game road trip.
Drew Stafford had the lone goal for the Devils.
Tuukka Rask (26-10-5 record, 2.35 goals against average, .918 save percentage in 42 games played) made 21 saves on 22 shots against (.955 SV%) in the win for the Bruins.
New Jersey goaltender, Cory Schneider (5-12-3, 3.18 GAA, .898 SV% in 23 GP) stopped 22 out of 26 shots faced for an .846 SV% in the loss after entering Thursday night, 3-1-1, in his last five home games.
The Bruins improved to 45-20-9 (99 points) on the season and in control of 2nd place in the Atlantic Division, while the Devils fell to 27-39-9 (63 points) and remain last (8th) in the Metropolitan Division.
Boston also improved to 17-13-6 on the road this season, 30-6-5 when scoring first this season and 27-1-3 when leading after two periods.
Bruce Cassidy told reporters he wasn’t going to make any changes to his lineup for Boston on Thursday, while also informing them that Kevan Miller (upper body), Marcus Johnasson (lung contusion) and Matt Grzelcyk (upper body) would all be joining the club in Florida on Friday.
There’s a chance all three skaters rejoin the lineup for Saturday night’s matchup against the Florida Panthers.
Meanwhile, Torey Krug (concussion) skated on his own after morning skate on Thursday, but is not yet ready to return to game action.
Paul Carey served as the only healthy scratch for the Bruins on Thursday.
Late in the first period, Bergeron (29) scored the game’s first goal after the B’s alternate captain received a pass from Pastrnak and buried the puck while Schneider was caught in desperation behind the play– diving across the crease.
Pastrnak (36) and Marchand (57) had the assists on Bergeron’s goal and the Bruins led, 1-0, at 18:34 of the first period.
After 20 minutes of play, Boston led, 1-0, on the scoreboard and was tied in shots on goal with New Jersey, 7-7.
The Devils led in blocked shots (5-2), giveaways (6-0) and hits (13-6), while the Bruins held the advantage in takeaways (5-2) and face-off win percentage (67-33). Neither team had yet to see time on the power play entering the first intermission.
Almost midway through the second period, Steven Santini cross checked Pastrnak and was assessed a two-minute minor penalty at 8:58.
Boston did not convert on their first power play opportunity of the night.
A couple of minutes after the power play expired, Pastrnak (32) made it a two-goal game with a goal shortly after the Bruins won a face-off in the offensive zone at 12:58 of the second period.
Marchand (58) and Bergeron (41) tallied the assists on Pastrnak’s goal and the B’s led, 2-0.
For the 2nd consecutive game, the Bruins increased their lead to two-goals after scoring the first goal of the game.
Almost two minutes later, former Bruin, Stafford (3) got a quick one-timer past Rask as the Boston goaltender dove across the crease a la Schneider back in the first period after the Bruins flubbed an attempt to clear the puck out of the defensive zone.
Stafford’s goal– his first in 35 games– cut the lead in half, 2-1, and was assisted by Pavel Zacha (7) at 14:51 of the second period.
Zacha had his first point for the Devils in his first game back since missing the last 16 games due to injury.
Through 40 minutes of play, Boston led, 2-1, on the scoreboard and, 16-15, in shots on goal. Boston also maintained an advantage in face-off win% (67-33), while New Jersey led in blocked shots (11-4), giveaways (8-0) and hits (23-11).
Both teams managed five takeaways aside after two periods and the Bruins were 0/1 on the power play entering the second intermission.
Sean Kuraly blocked a shot less than a minute into the third period and the puck caromed off the Bruins forward back into the neutral zone and onto Heinen’s stick blade.
Heinen (10) beat Schneider high on the blocker side on the ensuing breakaway 29 seconds into the third period.
Boston led, 3-1, thanks to Heinen’s goal. Kuraly (13) was tabbed with the only assist in the effort.
Less than a minute later, Blake Coleman was penalized for interference at 1:21 of the third period.
Boston’s resulting power play was cut short when Pastrnak committed his own interference infraction at 3:01.
Despite an abbreviated skater advantage for New Jersey after a brief 21 seconds of 4-on-4 action, the Devils did not score on their only power play of the night.
Travis Zajac hooked Bergeron at 7:11 and served a two-minute minor penalty, but the B’s did not capitalize on their third and final power play opportunity of the evening.
With about two minutes left in regulation, Devils head coach, John Hynes, pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker.
Bergeron (30) pocketed the empty net goal– his second goal of the game– for Boston from the neutral zone at 18:42, while Marchand (59) and David Krejci (45) were credited with the assists.
With his 30th goal of the season, Bergeron reached the 30-goal plateau for the 5th time in his 15-year NHL career and for the first time in back-to-back seasons.
Bergeron also became the 3rd 30-goal scorer for Boston this season, joining his linemates, Pastrnak and Marchand, as the Bruins have now had at least three players with 30 or more goals in consecutive seasons since last season.
Marchand, meanwhile, became the first Bruins player to record 90-plus points in a season (31-59–90 totals) since Marc Savard did so with 22-74–96 totals in 2006-07.
With almost 20 seconds left in regulation, Backes (6) fired a shot past Schneider’s glove from near the goal line along the boards to make it a four-goal lead for Boston, 5-1.
Noel Acciari (7) had the only assist on Backes’ first goal in 23 games.
At the final horn the Bruins secured the, 5-1, victory and finished the night leading in shots on goal (27-23), as well as face-off win% (53-47).
New Jersey capped off Thursday night leading in blocked shots (15-7), giveaways (9-1) and hits (26-14).
The Devils went 0/1 on the power play, while the B’s finished 0/3 on the skater advantage.
Boston is now 2-0-0 on their current four-game road trip and outscoring their opponents, 10-1.
The Bruins head to Florida on Saturday and Tampa next Monday before returning home to face the New York Rangers on March 27th. Boston hosts the Florida Panthers on March 30th before traveling to Detroit on the 31st to close out the month.
Outlined against a grey-cloudy New Year’s Day sky, the Four Horsemen looked on with the Hockey Gods as the Boston Bruins defeated the Chicago Blackhawks, 4-2, at Notre Dame Stadium in the 2019 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.
From now on in Bruins lore four names will replace Jim Crowley, Elmer Layden, Don Miller and Harry Stuhldreher with David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron, Sean Kuraly and Brad Marchand instead as all four contributed the necessary amount of goals to secure the victory in the home of the Fighting Irish– in the first non-football sports event at the stadium in its history.
Kuraly’s game-winning goal came with 9:40 remaining in the third period and gave the Bruins their first lead of the afternoon, 3-2.
Temperature at puck drop was a balmy 35.5 degrees Fahrenheit as Tuukka Rask (10-8-2 record, 2.63 goals against average, .914 save percentage in 20 games played) turned aside 36 out of 38 shots faced for a .947 SV% in the win for Boston.
Chicago goalkeeper, Cam Ward (6-7-4, 3.85 GAA, .888 SV% in 18 GP), made 32 saves on 35 shots against for a .914 SV% in the Blackhawks loss.
The Bruins improved to 2-1-0 in their all-time Winter Classic record, while the Blackhawks stumbled to 0-4-0 in the NHL’s New Year’s Day tradition.
Boston also surpassed the Montreal Canadiens and Buffalo Sabres in the standings with the win, improving to 22-14-4 (48 points) on the season– good enough for 3rd place in the Atlantic Division standings.
All three teams are in action Thursday night with the Bruins hosting the Calgary Flames, Buffalo hosting the Florida Panthers and Montreal hosting the Vancouver Canucks as the Atlantic Division playoff position battle rages on.
The Blackhawks, in the meantime, fell to 15-21-6 (36 points) on the season and remain 6th in the Central Division– two points ahead of the last place in the division, St. Louis Blues– heading on the road to take on the New York Islanders on Thursday.
Tuesday’s Winter Classic was the 26th regular season outdoor game in league history, 6th outdoor game for Chicago (1-5-0) and 3rd outdoor game for Boston (2-1-0) overall.
Prior to Tuesday’s Winter Classic, Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy confirmed Brad Marchand’s return to the lineup after missing Saturday’s action with an upper body injury, as well as Charlie McAvoy‘s status out of the lineup.
McAvoy was placed on the injured reserve last Friday and may return to action in time for Thursday night’s matchup in Boston against the Calgary Flames at the earliest.
With David Backes serving the 2nd game of his thee-game suspension, Cassidy juggled the lines past his usual first line trio of Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak.
Cassidy’s second line featured Jake DeBrusk to the left of David Krejci and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson on Krejci’s right side, with Danton Heinen, Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner on the third line in addition to Joakim Nordstrom, Colby Cave and Noel Acciari rounding out the fourth line.
Rask got the start in net for his second career appearance (previous, 2016 at Gillette Stadium, 5-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens) in a Winter Classic game, as well as his 469th career game in a Bruins uniform– surpassing Cecil “Tiny” Thompson in franchise history for most games played as a goaltender.
He was the backup goaltender to Tim Thomas‘ impressive win in net in the 2010 Winter Classic at Fenway Park.
The atmosphere was palpable as the game got underway in front of a sellout crowd of 76,126 people in the 2nd most attended Winter Classic with a 1930s flair, as the visiting Bruins obtained the first penalty of the game early in the first period.
Carlo was sent to the box with a holding infraction against Jonathan Toews at 5:52 and Chicago couldn’t capitalize on the resulting power play.
In the vulnerable moment after the skater advantage, after forcing a turnover in the offensive zone, David Kampf helped slide the puck from Dylan Sikura to Brendan Perlini (5) for the 1-0 lead thanks to Perlini’s one-timed shot past Rask as the Bruins defensive coverage was nowhere to be seen.
Krug had his stick lifted as Krejci was turning the puck over and Moore was out of position to the right of the net instead of attempting to thwart any chances through the slot.
Kampf (10) and Sikura (3) had the assists on Perlini’s goal at 8:30 of the opening period.
Thanks to Perlini’s goal, Chicago now has the game’s first goal in eight of their last ten games, despite the outcome of Tuesday afternoon’s matchup.
Artem Anisimov tripped Nordstrom at 12:05 and sent the Bruins on their first power play of the day– yielding a power play goal just 23 seconds on the skater advantage.
Bergeron worked the puck to Pastrnak (24) who then waited for Ward to make the first move as Pastrnak scored from point blank, tying the game, 1-1, at 12:38.
An elated Pastrnak spread his wings as part of his celebration, while Bergeron (20) recorded the only assist on the goal.
Late in the opening frame, Grzelcyk was guilty of high-sticking Chicago’s Andreas Martinsen and served a two-minute minor in the penalty box at 17:03.
The Blackhawks didn’t score on the ensuing power play.
After 20 minutes of play, both teams were tied, 1-1. Boston led in shots on goal (14-12) and takeaways (6-2) after one period, while Chicago held onto an advantage in blocked shots (5-4), hits (11-10) and face-off win percentage (53-47).
Both teams had five giveaways each entering the first intermission and the Blackhawks were 0/2 on the power play. The B’s were 1/1 after one.
Early in the second period, Kuraly hooked Perlini and gave Chicago their third power play of the day. Once again, the Blackhawks were unable to score as the Bruins killed off Kuraly’s minor.
Thank you to the 76,126 who joined us for today’s #WinterClassic!— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) January 1, 2019
That’s the largest #Blackhawks home game in franchise history, and the second-largest crowd in @NHL history. pic.twitter.com/RUzOK0QlKP
Gustafsson (14) and Toews (20) had the assists on the goal for Chicago.
Moments later, Gustafsson was penalized for roughing Nordstrom and the Bruins went on the power play for the second time of the afternoon at 17:57.
Less than a minute into the power play, Bergeron (13) walked into the low slot without pressure and sent a backhand shot over Ward to tie the game, 2-2, at 18:48.
Pastrnak (26) and Krug (20) had the assists on Bergeron’s goal.
Just over a minute later– in the closing seconds of the second period– Grzelcyk hooked Patrick Kane at 19:50.
Chicago’s ensuing power play would spill over into the third period as both teams went back into the dressing room for the second intermission, tied, 2-2.
Through 40 minutes of play, Chicago was outshooting Boston, 21-20, and led in takeaways (8-7), hits (21-20), as well as face-off win% (56-44). The B’s led in blocked shots (14-8) and giveaways (9-7) heading into the third period.
The Blackhawks went 0/4 on the power play and the Bruins were 2/2 through two periods.
Getting off on the right foot while resuming play on the power play in the third period was not Chicago’s specialty as Kane caught Miller with a high-stick at 1:03.
Less than a minute later, the 4-on-4 action became 4-on-3 when Anisimov tripped Miller at 1:42 of the third period.
For nine seconds, Boston had a 4-on-3 power play, then an abbreviated 5-on-3, followed by a run-of-the-mill 5-on-4 power play. Despite the length and skater strength advantages, the Bruins did not convert on their extra skater opportunities early in the third.
Moments later, Gustav Forsling hooked Kuraly and the B’s couldn’t get anything going on the ensuing power play at 4:56.
Just past the midpoint of the third period, Kuraly (4) got his revenge on the scoreboard as a shot from the point bounced off Wagner and rebounded to No. 52 in black-and-gold before Kuraly tapped in a backhander into the open twine.
The Dublin, Ohio native then did his trademark “Kura-leap” into the glass, having given Boston their first lead of the day, 3-2, at 10:20.
Wagner (3) and Grzelcyk (10) had the primary and secondary assists on Kuraly’s goal.
The fourth liner now has three goals in his last five games.
With 1:38 remaining in regulation, Blackhawks head coach, Jeremy Colliton, pulled Ward for an extra attacker. About 36 seconds later, after Bruins defender, Kevan Miller sent the puck off glass and out, Colliton used his timeout to rally his troops for Chicago.
Facing immense pressure on the heels of a big save and coverup from Rask, Cassidy used his timeout for Boston with 39.2 seconds left in regulation.
Finally, after Krejci worked to clear the the defensive zone and was tripped up at the blue line, Marchand (13) took the loose puck down the ice and buried an empty net goal to seal the deal on Boston’s, 4-2, win at 19:27.
Krejci (24) had the only assist on Marchand’s goal.
At the final horn, the Bruins had won, 4-2, despite being outshot by the Blackhawks, 38-36. Boston finished the afternoon leading in blocked shots (19-13), giveaways (12-10) and hits (30-25), while Chicago finished the day leading in face-off win% (56-44).
Entering Tuesday, the Blackhawks had five power play goals in their last three games. After Tuesday, the Blackhawks went 0/4 on the skater advantage in the Winter Classic and had five power play goals in their last four games.
The B’s finished the afternoon 2/5 on the power play.
Of note, Kuraly’s game-winning goal was his second straight game-winning goal as he had scored the overtime winning goal in Buffalo last Saturday.
And Pastrnak’s 1-1–2 totals in Tuesday’s affair made him the 6th Bruins player since 1984-85 to require 40 or fewer games to reach the 50-point mark in a season (with the most recent being Marc Savard scoring 50 points in 39 games in 2006-07).
Boston has now won five out of their last seven games.
For the 12th time in 26 outdoor games, the team that won overcame a deficit en route to victory.
The Bruins take on the Flames on Thursday back home at TD Garden, then play host to the Sabres on Saturday (Jan. 5th), the Minnesota Wild next Tuesday (Jan. 8th) and the Washington Capitals on Jan. 10th before hitting the road for a quick trip to face the Toronto Maple Leafs on Jan. 12th.
Next year’s Winter Classic heads to the Cotton Bowl where the Dallas Stars will play host to an opponent that is to be determined by the Stars, NHL and NBC.
The 2018-19 regular season has started, so let’s overreact and hand out the regular season awards already! It’s our 3rd Annual Participation Trophies After One Game presented by Nick and Connor.
Nick checks in with Colby Kephart and Frank Fanelli (of Student Union Sports) on Radko Gudas’s suspension, the Buffalo Sabres, Philadelphia Flyers and Chance The Rapper’s SNL skit for the ages. Also discussed, the overabundance of outdoor games featuring teams that are obviously stuck in a revolving door of outdoor games.
And be sure to check out our newest extension of the product, DTFR Overtime, this week where Nick retroactively wrote about a topic from last week’s episode.
44-31-7, 95 points, 3rd in the Atlantic Division
Eliminated in the First Round by Ottawa
Subtractions: D Linus Arnesson (signed with Örebro HK, SHL), D Chris Casto (signed with VGK), F Colton Hargrove (signed with Providence Bruins, AHL), F Jimmy Hayes (signed a PTO with NJ after being bought out by BOS), F Brian Ferlin (signed with EDM), D Alex Grant (signed with MIN), D Colin Miller (claimed by VGK at the Expansion Draft), F Dominic Moore (signed with TOR), D Joe Morrow (signed with MTL), F Tyler Randell (signed with OTT), F Zac Rinaldo (signed with ARI), F Drew Stafford (signed with NJ)
Still Unsigned: D John-Michael Liles
Offseason Analysis: The last branches of the Tyler Seguin trade wilted this offseason for the Boston Bruins after defenseman, Joe Morrow, was not tendered a qualifying offer, therefore making him an unrestricted free agent (who ended up signing with the enemy, the Montreal Canadiens– reuniting with head coach, Claude Julien), and forward, Jimmy Hayes, was the victim of a buyout entering the final year of his contract (and now has a PTO with the New Jersey Devils).
Morrow, of course, was part of the original acquisition for Seguin, while Hayes came along after the Bruins flipped Reilly Smith (along with the contract of Marc Savard) to the Florida Panthers in the 2015 offseason.
But none of that matters now. The Seguin deal was done and over with the moment it happened.
Regardless of the debate surrounding whether it was the worst move or not by the organization, one thing is clear– the current rendition of the Boston Bruins are Don Sweeney‘s Boston Bruins. Let’s move on from the Peter Chiarelli Era highs and lows.
These Bruins have something to prove and are ready to show it.
Whether things go their way all comes down to the way the puck bounces.
Forwards Austin Czarnik and Tim Schaller were re-signed this offseason. Czarnik’s transition to the NHL proved helpful to the organization in times of automatic depth necessity (injury) and Schaller surpassed all previous expectations in a breakout season (seven goals, seven assists in 59 games played).
Alas, the words “breakout season” are intrinsically connected to the words “sample size”, as Schaller had only played 35 career games in two seasons with the Buffalo Sabres (amassing 2-3-5 totals from 2014-2016) as a bottom-six forward.
With Sean Kuraly‘s postseason emergence as the double overtime hero in Game 5 of the Bruins First Round Atlantic Division matchup with the Ottawa Senators in Boston’s short-lived 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs run, Czarnik’s got some competition for a spot on the fourth line.
But enough about the “glue guys” for a moment. Let’s turn our attention to David Pastrnak, shall we?
The 70-point scorer last season reached the end of his entry-level contract on July 1st and became a restricted free agent without arbitration rights.
After watching fellow young and talented scorers, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl receive massive pay raises, the 21-year-old winger from the Czech Republic was left wondering just how high his stock could go.
Agent, J.P. Barry, kept the hockey world on edge, as Pastrnak was reported to have considered a venture to the KHL if no common ground with the Bruins could be found, after NHL Network analyst, Brian Lawton, had already scared diehard Boston fans by surmising that Pastrnak would likely be traded.
Fans around the league thought they’d seen this before with Boston (remember Phil Kessel or Dougie Hamilton? Yeah, those guys were also represented by Barry during their tumultuous fallouts with the Bruins).
But analysts and fans league-wide were wrong. Kind of.
They had seen something just like this before– except it was with Torey Krug and Reilly Smith.
Krug and Smith had held out all summer long in 2014, coming off of their then-best career seasons, on the heels of a President’s Trophy winning 2013-2014 Bruins squad. They were RFAs, they were young and they were looking to get paid.
Deals sometimes take time and their extension negotiations caused them to miss the first day of training camp in September 2014.
Enter David Pastrnak and the 2017 offseason.
Tweets came from all sources and reporters drew the lines. Pastrnak and Sweeney were engaged in a standoff.
Except it was all just a numbers game.
McDavid’s 8-year, $100 million contract extension ($12.500 million cap hit) and Draisaitl’s 8-year, $68 million extension ($8.500 million cap hit) with Edmonton were worth aiming for, but when Bo Horvat struck a 6-year, $33 million deal ($5.500 million cap hit), Pastrnak’s amazing technicolor dream
coat salary demands faltered a bit.
There was never any question as to whether Pastrnak was worth upwards of $7.000 almost $8.000 million a season, but trends in the market ultimately dictate one way or another how internal negotiations go.
So Sweeney pulled off an extremely club friendly $6.667 million cap hit on a 6-year, $40 million contract extension for Pastrnak. This, one season after extending Marchand for another eight years at only $6.125 million AAV, is some serious cap management at its best, almost impossible dream.
Especially when one considers that McDavid and Draisaitl are a costly $21 million-a-season for the next eight seasons in Edmonton (which is about 28% of the Oilers total player’s payroll).
Marchand and Pastrnak will cost the Bruins a combined $12.792 million-a-season for the next six years. Add Bergeron’s $6.875 million cap hit to that total and they’re still $1.333 million under 2/3’s of Edmonton’s best line ($19.667 million a year for Boston’s first line for the next six seasons, compared to the $21 million for McDavid and Draisaitl alone– Milan Lucic’s current cap hit is $6.000 million, if you were wondering).
Sweeney’s commitment to the core in Boston and letting his prospects develop may pan out this season with a longer run than last season’s First Round exit.
Adding Anders Bjork to the mix and a full season of Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, as well as Charlie McAvoy, is sure to make this year’s Bruins team a fun one to watch.
It’s not about the main additions of Kenny Agostino and Paul Postma to the black and gold, but rather how far will the kids go?
They’re not the young, talented, and once-in-a-generation skillful Toronto Maple Leafs, per se, but Bruce Cassidy’s Bruins might be able to skate with them this season.
Offseason Grade: B
Grading the 2017 offseason for the Bruins wasn’t contingent upon re-signing David Pastrnak or adding a top-notch *cough cough overpaid because of a lack of available good free agents* free agent– it involved a thoughtfully calculated formula of “did they do anything stupid?” and “did they continue to make a commitment to their youth infused core, moving forward?” (the answers, of course, are “no” and “yes”– don’t be a dummy, trust Don Sweeney on this one, for once).
Extra credit for not shelling out $6 million on an over 30-year-old forward for the next five or six years (maybe David Backes will rebound this season– hopefully). Don’t stray from the formula (they didn’t).