Haim, Wimbledon, baseball and everything but hockey. The Original Trio explore many facets of the extensions that have been signed by players over the last couple of weeks including Carey Price, Connor McDavid and Martin Jones, as well as breakdown the Arizona Coyotes hiring of Rick Tocchet as head coach.
Last night was beyond busy in the NHL. While those types of evenings are fun, sometimes it’s nice to only have a few games to keeps tabs on. Tonight is one of those nights, as only six teams drop the puck. Boston at Washington (NBCSN/TVAS) gets things started at 8 p.m., and is basically the only game going on during that time-frame. The next game to get underway is Minnesota at Calgary (SN360), but that isn’t until 10 p.m. The nightcap is right behind, as Colorado at Los Angeles (NBCSN) gets started only half an hour later. All times eastern.
Not only do I not like repeating teams twice in a row (sorry Washington!), tonight’s contest in Calgary could act as a playoff preview. Off to Cowtown we go!
It’s hard to argue with those that believe Minnesota is the best team in the Western Conference. Riding a three-game winning streak, their 33-11-5 record is five points better than second-best San Jose, and they’ve been led by an impressive goaltender that has allowed only 109 goals this season, the second-fewest in the NHL.
Since Darcy Kuemper played last night in Edmonton, 27-8-3 Devan Dubnyk will be more than ready to go this evening. That’s bad news for the Flames, as his .936 save percentage and 1.88 GAA are both the best marks in the league.
What makes Dubnyk’s season so impressive is that the bluelines playing in front of him are nothing more than average, as they allow 30.6 shots to reach his crease per night – tied for the 12th-most in the NHL. Jared Spurgeon and his 90 shot blocks have been at the head of the defensive front and tie for 32nd-most against the rest of the league.
Combine those two aspects of the defensive end, and you find a club that has the sixth-best penalty kill with a 83.8% success rate. Mikael Granlund has been the most effective skater on that effort, as he leads the Wild with 13 shorthanded blocks.
The Land of 10,000 Lakes is also the home of the 10th-best power play in the league (ok, they’re technically tied for 10th), finding success 21.3% of the time. Granlund is apparently the Wild‘s special teams ringer, as his 12 power play points are tops in the dressing room, but Nino Niederreiter has been the one scoring all the goals. He has six man-advantage tallies to his credit, the most in Minnesota.
Playing host this evening are the 25-24-3 Flames, the ninth-best team in the Western Conference thanks to Los Angeles beating Arizona last night. That being said, simply making it to overtime tonight would move them back into playoff position.
The reason Calgary finds itself on the bubble is due to its lackluster defense and goaltending, which has allowed 147 tallies so far this season, the ninth-most in the NHL. That starts with 16-12-1 Chad Johnson, who has a .913 save percentage and 2.5 GAA – the (t)27th and (t)18th-best effort, respectively, among the 49 goalies with at least 15 appearances.
A decent GAA paired with a below-average save percentage is usually the mark of a decent defense, and that’s exactly the case the Wild will find this evening in the Saddledome. Led by Mark Giordano‘s 116 shot blocks (tied for sixth-most in the league), the Flames allow only 28 shots to reach Johnson’s crease per game – the sixth-best effort in the game.
Although they’re the ones currently sitting on the outside of the playoffs looking in, it’s been the Flames that have dominated the season series between these clubs so far this year. Calgary has yet to drop a game to the Wild even if their most recent meeting on December 2 required a shootout to determine the 3-2 result.
Some players to keep an eye on this evening include Calgary‘s Mikael Backlund (34 points [leads the team]), Troy Brouwer (98 hits and .16 shot percentage [both lead the team]), Giordano (116 blocks [leads the team]), Dougie Hamilton (144 shots and 25 assists [both lead the team]) and Sean Monahan (16 goals [leads the team]) & Minnesota‘s Dubnyk (1.88 GAA on a .936 save percentage [both best in the league] for 27 wins [second-most in the NHL], including five shutouts [tied for second-most in the league]), Matthew Dumba (+22 [eighth-best in the NHL]), Granlund (+26 [tied for sixth-best in the league]), Mikko Koivu (+26 [tied for sixth-best in the NHL]), Spurgeon (+28 [tied for third-best in the league]), Ryan Suter (+30 [tied for the NHL-lead]) and Jason Zucker (+30 [tied for the league-lead]).
Vegas has marked Calgary a slight underdog, placing a +105 next to their name. Personally, I’d take that bet. Not only do they have the history beating Dubnyk this season, they’re playing at home after a nice long All-Star break, compared to the Wild who just played last night. I like the Flames to complete the season-sweep and get back into the playoff bracket.
- Mark Recchi (1968-) – Although drafted in the fourth round of the 1988 NHL Entry Draft by rival Pittsburgh, this right wing spent most his career in Philadelphia. That being said, none of the seven-time All-Star’s three Stanley Cups were with the Flyers.
- Kyle Palmieri (1991-) – Another right wing, Palmieri was drafted 26th-overall by Anaheim in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. He spent the first five seasons of his NHL career with the Ducks before moving on to New Jersey before the 2015-16 season.
The wins just keep rolling in for the Islanders. They won their third-straight game 3-2 last night against the league-leading Capitals in yesterday’s DtFR Game of the Day.
It’s only made sweeter by the fact that it was a comeback victory. That’s because Evgeny Kuznetsov (Justin Williams and Brooks Orpik) was able to bury his snap shot only 4:41 after the game’s initial puck drop. That was the lone tally of the first period.
With a power play slap shot 2:41 after returning to the ice for the second period, Second Star of the Game Alan Quine (Third Star Andrew Ladd and Calvin de Haan) leveled the contest for New York. Once again, it was the lone score of the frame to set up a deciding third period.
The Isles responded well coming out of intermission, with their surge completed by First Star Ryan Strome‘s (Brock Nelson and Anthony Beauvillier) wrister to give them the lead. The game remained 2-1 until Johnny Boychuk (Casey Cizikas and John Tavares) took advantage of an empty net with 68 seconds remaining in the contest. Impressively, Alex Ovechkin (Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov) was able to make it only a one-goal differential with his slap shot, but the Capitals were unable to level with the remaining 47 seconds.
Not only is the Islanders‘ victory their third-straight, it is also the second-straight win by the home team in the DtFR Game of the Day series. That advances the hosts’ record in the series to 56-35-16, seven points better than the roadies.
By: Nick Lanciani
The 98th MasterCard Memorial Cup is in the books and the London Knights are your 2016 Memorial Cup Champions as the CHL’s top team.
Matthew Tkachuk, son of NHL legend Keith Tkachuk, scored the game winning goal— his second of the game— at 7:49 of overtime on Sunday to lift the Knights to a 3-2 victory over the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in the 2016 MasterCard Memorial Cup Final.
A packed crowd at ENMAX Centrium in Red Deer, Alberta, witnessed Tyler Parsons make 29 saves on 31 shots faced for the win in a spectacular 67:49 effort. Chase Marchand made 31 saves on 33 shots against for the Huskies in the loss.
Knights forward, Max Jones was denied by Marchand on a breakaway with 14:53 to go in the first period on a sequence of early transitions and end-to-end action. Shortly thereafter, Rouyn-Noranda amassed a few great chances on Tyler Parsons that led to save after save by Parsons as the first period rolled along.
Mitch Marner led a furious two-on-one the other way for the London Knights with about 10 and a half minutes to go in the first period, but Marchand stood tall for the Huskies in goal and kept it a 0-0 game.
At 13:33 of the first period, Gabriel Fontaine took the first penalty of the game— a minor for boarding— and gave the immensely successful London Knights’s power play their first opportunity of the afternoon. But the Knights’s special teams were no match for Rouyn-Noranda’s penalty kill, as the Huskies killed the penalty with ease.
After twenty minutes, the game was scoreless. London was leading in shots on goal 11-6 and in faceoff wins 8-2 after the 1st.
A.J. Greer was called for roughing just 4:55 into the 2nd period and gave the Knights their second man advantage of the afternoon. Rouyn-Noranda killed the penalty without harm.
Tkachuk opened the game’s scoring with his 4th goal of the Memorial Cup tournament on a shot that he tipped in at 9:19 of the second period to give London a 1-0 lead. This year’s Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy winner as the Memorial Cup MVP, Mitch Marner, and his teammate Christian Dvorak picked up the assists on Tkachuk’s goal.
About 15 seconds later, Francis Perron answered back in a hurry for the Huskies and tied the game at one on a redirection of his own just about in the crease, reminiscent of former Kamloops Blazer, Mark Recchi. Timo Meier notched the lone assist on Perron’s 2nd goal of the tournament at 9:34 of the second period.
Meier would then receive a minor penalty for tripping at 12:49 of the 2nd and send the Knights on their third power play of the night. London was unable to convert on the man advantage.
Philippe Myers went down shortly thereafter with what appeared to be a knee injury, though no update was provided to the viewers watching on Sportsnet in Canada or on NHL Network in the United States.
Jacob Graves took the first and only penalty for London at 18:49 of the 2nd period. Graves was sent to the box for tripping and Rouyn-Noranda’s power play would extend into the 3rd period.
After forty minutes of play, the game was tied 1-1 and the Huskies were leading in shots on goal 22-21. London was in control of the faceoff circle, having dominated faceoff wins 18-12 after two periods. Rouyn-Noranda finished the second period without scoring on Graves’s penalty and would start the third period on the power play, while London went 0/3 on the man advantage heading into the second intermission.
The Huskies were unable to take advantage of their man advantage to start the third period and the game rolled along tied at one. After a flurry of chances at both ends, both teams settled into a rhythm.
Rouyn-Noranda took their first lead of the night a little after the nine-minute mark in the 3rd when Julien Nantel snapped a shot past Parsons to make it 2-1. The goal was Nantel’s 2nd of the Memorial Cup. Alexandre Fortin and Jeremy Lauzon picked up the primary and secondary assists at 9:13 of the period.
The Huskies promptly took a penalty nearly forty seconds later, when Greer sent the puck over the glass for a delay of game minor. Rouyn-Noranda amassed a short 5-on-3 penalty kill at 11:38 of the period when Fontaine was penalized for high sticking one of London’s skaters in front of the benches. The Knights were unable to convert on either of the power play opportunities, both when they had a two-man advantage and when play resumed to a normal 5-on-4 power play.
With time beginning to wind down in the third period, Christian Dvorak tied the game at 2-2 with his 7th goal of the tournament. Aaron Berisha was credited with the only assist on Dvorak’s wrist shot goal at 15:49 of the 3rd.
Tied after sixty minutes of regulation, the London Knights and Rouyn-Noranda Huskies went to overtime in the 98th Memorial Cup. Over the course of the entire QMJHL season, the Huskies only lost nine games in regulation. Meanwhile the Knights had not lost in any game (Memorial Cup or OHL— regular season and playoff) since the last week of the NHL’s regular season.
Early in overtime the Knights and Huskies exchanged quick transitions and a couple of shots that rang the post and squibbed through the crease.
But it wasn’t until 7:49 into overtime that Tkachuk fired the game winner, his second of the night and 5th of the Memorial Cup. Aiden Jamieson and Olli Juolevi were awarded the assists on the goal and the London Knights defeated the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies by a score of 3-2.
London outshot Rouyn-Noranda 33-31, but trailed in faceoff wins 32-31 at the end of the day. The Huskies finished 0/1 on the power play on the afternoon and the Knights went 0/5.
Sunday was the first time in 30 years that the OHL and QMJHL champions met up in the Memorial Cup Final on WHL ice, as the host city Red Deer Rebels bowed out to Rouyn-Noranda on Friday in a 3-1 loss. The last time an OHL/QMJHL matchup on WHL ice occurred in 1986, the Guelph Platers defeated the Hull Olympiques, 6-2, in Portland, Oregon.
The Knights won their 17th game in a row, including all their games prior to Sunday and finished 2-0 against the Huskies in the tournament, having defeated Rouyn-Noranda 5-2 in this year’s round robin action. London also outscored their opponents 23-7 in the entire Memorial Cup, en route to capturing just their second CHL title— and first since 2005.
The Knights avenged the ghosts of their 2012, 2013 and 2014 Memorial Cup appearances with Sunday’s Memorial Cup title. As mentioned before, Toronto Maple Leaf’s prospect, Mitch Marner was awarded the Stafford Smyth Memorial Trophy as the MVP of the 2016 MasterCard Memorial Cup.
Several talented Junior players await to be drafted at this June’s NHL Entry Draft in Buffalo at First Niagara Center. We’ll have more of an outlook for all seven rounds as the weekend of June 24th and 25th nears right here on Down the Frozen River, including another rendition of a mock draft or two of Round 1. For now, though, another CHL season is in the books and the London Knights are on top of the Junior world (well at least in North America).
By: Nick Lanciani
What will retired numbers look like around the league in the future? While there’s only a finite set of numbers to utilize on the back of a jersey, many teams choose to retire (or honor) some numbers based on extraordinary circumstances, dedication to the organization, or legendary status.
With that in mind, I explore what each team around the NHL might do in the coming seasons. Feel free to speak your mind and drop us a line in the comments or tweet to @DtFrozenRiver using #DTFRNumbersGame.
For each team, I thought of former and current players that should have their numbers retired now or once they hang up the skates.
Current Retired Numbers- 1 Bernie Parent, 2 Mark Howe, 4 Barry Ashbee, 7 Bill Barber, 16 Bobby Clarke
Recommended Numbers to Retire
10 John LeClair
The Philadelphia Flyers really have some catching up to do when it comes to their retired numbers. For starters there’s the Legion of Doom line left winger, John LeClair, who spent ten years of his career with the Flyers, which included two consecutive 97-point seasons from 1995-1996 to 1996-1997. LeClair would reach the 90 point plateau for the third time in four seasons in the 1998-1999 season.
So, umm, yeah, why exactly haven’t you sent his number to the rafters, Philadelphia? I’ll speak from a completely biased perspective for a moment- John LeClair was one of my favorite players to try to emulate while growing up and playing street hockey in my neighborhood.
88 Eric Lindros
The center from the famous Legion of Doom line, Eric Lindros is well known for having been oft injured and the reason why the Québec Nordiques/Colorado Avalanche had one of the greatest Swedish forwards of the game. But in his time well spent in Philadelphia, one season in particular, stands out for Lindros- his 115 point season in 1995-1996. Lindros only broke the 90-point plateau three times in his career, all as a member of the Flyers.
He only barely missed never having a season in Philadelphia with less than 60 points total, but in 1999-2000, Lindros came up just short, with 59 points, after only having played in 55 games due to injury. So again, why haven’t the Flyers done anything to immortalize his career with Philadelphia?
8 Mark Recchi
Recchi had two very successful stints with the Flyers over his 22-year career. In the 1992-1993 season, Recchi had 53-70-123 totals in 84 games played. From a scoring point, that was his best year ever in his career, but his success didn’t end there.
Although he won a Cup with Pittsburgh in 1991, before joining the inner state rival, Philadelphia Flyers, and went on to win a second Cup with Carolina in 2006, and his third with Boston in 2011, Mark Recchi will- rest assured- always be one of the greatest Philadelphia wingers in franchise history. Recchi was a centerpiece in the trade with Montreal that brought LeClair to the City of Brotherly Love and he was one of the reasons why playing with the Flyers in NHL 2001 was so great, for the record.
Again I must ask the question, why haven’t you done anything yet, Philadelphia Flyers organization?
12 Simon Gagné
Gagné spent eleven years of his remarkable career with the Flyers and scored some of the biggest goals in franchise history, including the one in 2010 that completed the seven game series comeback from being down in a 3-0 hole to the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Whether he is able to make a return to play since taking a personal leave of absence 23 games into his short tenure with the Bruins, or whether he’s forced to retire, the Flyers should do the right thing with his jersey number and send it to the rafters of the Wells Fargo Center.
28 Claude Giroux
Giroux is the best player on the Flyers roster currently and will likely spend the majority of his career in Philadelphia black, white, and orange. After his career is over, the Flyers will no doubt bestow him the greatest honor from an organization and remove number 28 from circulation on the back of any Flyers jersey.
93 Jakub Voracek
The Flyers will need at least another eight years of Voracek to really determine if retiring his number is worthy of consideration one day, but we might as well include him in the conversation for the future.
By: Nick Lanciani
I continue to explore an important element of the game and what retired numbers around the league may look like in the future. While there’s only a finite set of numbers to utilize on the back of a jersey, many teams choose to retire (or honor) some numbers based on extraordinary circumstances, dedication to the organization, or legendary status.
Many thoughts went through my head in each and every consideration. Feel free to agree or disagree- I want to know what you, the fans, consider worthy when evaluating a player, their career, and whether or not their number should be retired by a franchise. I am interested in seeing what you have to say, assuming you are actually a fan of the team and/or player that you argue for or against. Drop us a line in the comments or tweet to @DtFrozenRiver using #DTFRNumbersGame.
For each team, I thought of former and current players that should have their numbers retired now or once they hang up the skates.
Current Retired Numbers- 2 Eddie Shore, 3 Lionel Hitchman, 4 Bobby Orr, 5 Dit Clapper, 7 Phil Esposito, 8 Cam Neely, 9 John Bucyk, 15 Milt Schmidt, 24 Terry O’Reilly, 77 Ray Bourque
Recommended Numbers to Retire-
16 Derek Sanderson
Honestly, there’s got to be somebody out there wondering why the Bruins haven’t retired Sanderson’s number 16 yet, despite his short tenure with the Bruins (and overall short NHL career). If anything, his off the ice story is the ultimate combination of tragic and inspirational- and the work he does now is remarkable. Wouldn’t it be great to say one day to your kids at the TD Garden “and there’s number 16, which was worn by Derek Sanderson, a man who overcame many things, just like how you can overcome anything and make your dreams come true if you work hard enough and never give up hope.”
Sanderson was sensational on the ice, having won two Stanley Cups with the Bruins in 1970 and 1972. He won the Calder Memorial Trophy in 1968 and had a career high 146 penalty minutes in his 2nd season with Boston in the 1968-1969 season as the ultimate definition of tough in the spoked-B.
His fast track to success was marred by his equally fast track to nearly destroying his life. If it weren’t for his new found faith and good friend Bobby Orr, Sanderson would be a distant memory in a tragic loss of superstar talent.
Since he turned his life around, Sanderson has become a financial advisor and a mentor to many young athletes in the sport as well as an immortal legend in Boston for his time spent with NESN alongside Fred Cusick in the mid ’80s to the mid ’90s.
It’s time the Bruins truly honored Sanderson for the remarkable man that he’s become off the ice. Sanderson and Orr defined not only a decade in hockey, but an entire era and playing style. It’s only fitting that they are equally honored by Boston.
37 Patrice Bergeron
Bergeron just turned 30- hard to believe- and has already spent a little over a decade in the league. It’s looking like Bergeron will be another legendary player in the category of “spent all of his time with one organization,” so it will be deserving of the current definition of what it means to be a Bruin.
While he’s not Milt Schmidt, Bergeron could share the “Mr. Bruin” nickname with Schmidt by the end of his career.
Bergeron became the 25th member of the Triple Gold Club, having completed the trifecta in 2011 after having won the Stanley Cup with the Bruins. He’s won three Selke Trophies, a King Clancy Memorial Trophy, and the NHL Foundation Player Award in his career thus far.
The two-time member of Team Canada in the Winter Olympics has also won two gold medals in 2010 and 2014. The only question for Bergeron someday will be, what hasn’t he done or been a part of?
Bergeron is adored by Boston fans for every little thing he does in what could otherwise be best summed up as perfection.
The perfect leader, the perfect teammate, the perfect two-way center, and even the perfect well respected rival- when it comes to facing the Montreal Canadiens. His impact on the franchise is insurmountable, considering he was barely penciled in on the roster, at 18 years old, for the 2003-2004 season.
33 Zdeno Chara
Chara often gets a bad rap for no reason from some Boston fans. The fact of the matter is that Chara is one of the best defensemen in the league. He’s a six-time Norris Trophy Finalist (2004, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2014) having won in 2009.
If it weren’t for Niklas Lidstrom’s swan song season, Chara would have at least another Norris Trophy. Do I need to mention he’s the current record holder of the Hardest Shot competition with a blistering 108.8 mph slap shot?
Aside from being able to speak seven languages and sell real estate in the State of Massachusetts, Chara was the first player born inside the Iron Curtain to captain his team to a Stanley Cup championship in 2011.
Without a doubt, there is no question surrounding his leadership off the ice and in the locker room. On the ice he’s well respected by league officials, perhaps supplemented by his 6’9” (7’0” on skates), 255-pound, stature.
He’s aging, yes, but what player doesn’t age after every season? He’s still insanely fit and athletic and capable of holding his own as a top-2 defenseman for the Boston Bruins. While it might take some convincing of Boston fans currently, Zdeno Chara absolutely deserves to have his number retired by the Bruins someday. He remains an influential piece to their turnaround and run to the Cup from 2006 to 2011 and leadership in their current roster and front office transition.
30 Gerry Cheevers/Tim Thomas
By this point, it’s probably a long shot for the Bruins to retire number 30 out of respect for Gerry Cheevers. He played remarkably well for a dominate Boston team in the 1970s and if it weren’t for the World Hockey Association having diluted the NHL’s talent pool, probably would’ve led the Bruins to some more greatness.
Likewise, Tim Thomas overcame a lot of doubt to be at the top of the NHL mountain as the Conn Smythe Trophy winner and 2011 Stanley Cup champion. It would certainly be a classy move by the organization, but one that likely will never happen for either (or both) former sensational Boston goaltenders.
Personally, I wouldn’t be opposed to setting aside Mark Recchi’s number 28. Not necessarily retiring it, but only using it for special players, which I guess is kind of the reason why nobody has been assigned number 28 on the Bruins since Recchi retired. Same goes with Marc Savard’s number 91.
It’s a shame that good players don’t always get to have extravagant careers. Players like Savard or Norm Léveillé will always be remembered for how they played on the ice by diehard Boston fans.