Tag Archives: Montreal Canadiens

Numbers Game: Look to the Rafters- New York Rangers

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.

New York Rangers LogoNew York Rangers

Current Retired Numbers- 1 Eddie Giacomin, 2 Brian Leetch, 3 Harry Howell, 7 Rod Gilbert, 9 Andy Bathgate/Adam Graves, 11 Mark Messier, 35 Mike Richter

Recommended Numbers to Retire

18 Marc Staal

There’s a chance that if the New York Rangers could ever win a Cup one of these years and the stars align for Staal, then maybe his number 18 could hang from the rafters of Madison Square Garden one day.

27 Ryan McDonagh

This is just a reminder that the Montreal Canadiens got Scott Gomez in return for McDonagh, who is arguably the New York Rangers number one defenseman when Marc Staal isn’t playing up to his potential. So yeah, about that Cup thing again- it’d further solidify the chances of McDonagh’s number being retired, provided he sticks around the Big Apple for a long time.

30 Henrik Lundqvist

One of the greatest goaltenders in the world, Lundqvist has yet to find out how to win a Cup. When he does, the world will rejoice. He’s a face of the franchise for the Rangers and without a doubt will see his number ascend to the rafters of MSG. Need I say more? This one is rather self-explanatory.

61 Rick Nash

If Nash puts in at least a decade with the Rangers and is able to snag a Cup or two, as well as perform well in scoring, then there’s a good chance New York would retire his number and further enlarge the divide between Rick Nash and his former fans in Columbus.

Other Notes

If the Rangers finally pull off a Cup win for the first time since 1994, I fully expect either Staal, McDonagh, or Nash will have played a large enough role to put their numbers in consideration for retirement by New York some day. Maybe Derek Stepan too.

December 19 – Day 73 – Texas-sized showdown

Yesterday’s Game of the Day saved all the action for the final period, as Ottawa scored three goals in the final 11:38 to secure the 4-2 victory over San Jose.

The Sharks struck first, but not until the beginning of the second period.  Ottawa‘s Mark Stone was still serving time in the sin bin from a first period penalty when Brent Burns and Joe Pavelski assisted Joe Thornton to a power play goal at the 29 second mark.  San Jose‘s lead held only 4:17 though, as Third Star of the Game Bobby Ryan scored his 11th tally of the year to level the game at one-all, which held into the second intermission.

Things really started heating up in the third.  Ottawa broke the tie at the 8:22 mark when Dave Dziurzynski and Cody Ceci assisted Jean-Gabriel Pageau to his ninth of the season.  The eventual game-winner came from First Star Chris Wideman at the 13:06 mark, assisted by Curtis Lazar and Shane Prince.  The Senators‘ onslaught continued 2:45 later, when Second Star Erik Kalrsson set the score at 4-1, assisted by Mike Hoffman and Ryan.  The Sharks tried to mount a comeback with a goal at the 17:36 mark, courtesy of Burns, but it was too little too late.

15-9-3 Craig Anderson earns the win after saving 31 of 33 (93.9%), while Alex Stalock’s record falls to 2-5-0 after saving 31 of 35 (88.6%).

The DtFR Game of the Day series now stands at 27-10-6, favoring the home squad by 26 points.

Today’s schedule consists of 10 games, with the action getting started at 1 p.m. eastern when Buffalo hosts Chicago (SN).  The other matinee game gets begins at 3 p.m. eastern when Calgary visits St. Louis.  The evening’s action gets started at the usual 7 p.m. eastern with five matchups (Los Angeles at Toronto [CBC], Anaheim at New Jersey, Carolina at Pittsburgh, Philadelphia at Columbus and Montréal at Dallas [NHLN/TVAS]), followed an hour later by Minnesota at Nashville.  The New York Islanders visit Arizona at 9 p.m. eastern, trailed an hour later by this evening’s nightcap: Edmonton at Colorado (CBC).

Three of tonight’s games feature divisional rivalries (Carolina at Pittsburgh, Philadelphia at Columbus and Minnesota at Nashville), and a total of three are between current playoff qualifiers (Calgary at St. Louis, Montréal at Dallas and Minnesota at Nashville).  Since most throughout North America should be able to watch two division leaders square-off, let’s focus in on the American Airlines Center.

UnknownCJhyiLmK

 

 

 

 

So far this season, Montréal is a perfect 5-0-0 when being featured in the Game of the Day series, but they aren’t the only ones unblemished – Dallas is also undefeated, but has only played in two games.

The Canadiens enter tonight’s game riding a two-game losing skid, with their most recent game occurring Thursday against the Kings, who beat them 3-0.  Don’t let that shutout give you the wrong impression, though.  The Habs play a strong game on both ends of the ice, but they are particularly deadly when they have the puck on their stick, which has led them to first place in the Atlantic Division and second in the Eastern Conference.

Montréal has put 1048 shots on goal this season (led by Captain Max Pacioretty’s 138), well above the season average with only one more game played than most.  Exactly 100 of those attempts have found the back of the net (9.5%), 16 more than the league average (led by Pacioretty’s 14).  While not an extreme strong suit of the Canadiens‘, their power play is still a force to be reckoned with.  On 113 opportunities, they’ve scored 22 times.  While the 19.47% success rate is impressive, what should be more alarming for the Stars is earning 113 opportunities.  If Dallas wants to win, it will be necessary to not give Montréal these easier opportunities.

Even when defending, the Canadiens have still been one of the best in the league.  10-2-0 Mike Condon and the defense have only allowed 75 goals so far this season.  While this is an impressive number (it trails the league average by nine), it has come on only 908 shots.  The reason backup Condon has found success has not entirely been his quality play, but also that his defense, particularly Tom Gilbert and his 58 blocks, have stepped up to lighten his workload.

One of the better penalty kills in the league will be on display this evening in the Habs.  On 107 opposing opportunities, they’ve allowed only 14 tallies – that 86.92% kill rate leads the league average by 5.78%.

Montréal is good, but they are going up against what is currently the best team in the NHL in the Dallas Stars.  Similar to Montréal, Dallas employs solid play on both ends of the ice, but definitely prefers to play offense.  Their most recent showing was a 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Flames on Thursday.

Per the usual, more shots usually equals more goals.  It’s no different in the Lone Star State, where Dallas has put the puck on net 1035 times so far this season, led by Tyler Seguin’s 130, for a league-leading 107 tallies (led by Captain Jamie Benn’s 20).  Especially potent for the Stars has been their power play.  They’ve scored 22 goals (led by Benn’s eight) on 102 opportunities, for a 21.57% success rate that leads the league average by 2.71%.

Defensively, the Stars haven’t been as strong as Montréal.  So far this year, 12-5-2 Antti Niemi and co. have given up 82 goals on 915 shots.  Fortunately for Niemi, who’s 90.9% save rate isn’t exactly on par with most of the league, Johnny Oduya’s team leading 67 blocks has done wonders to keep his workload as light as possible.

Some players to watch in tonight’s game include Dallas‘ Benn (20 goals [tied for the league lead], 41 points [third in the league], 21 assists [tied for seventh in the league] and +13 [tenth in the league]), Jason Demers (+14 [tied for sixth in the league]), John Klingberg (26 assists [third in the league]) and Seguin (42 points [second in the league], 25 assists [fourth in the league] and 17 goals [tied for fourth in the league]) & Montréal‘s Alexei Emelin (91 hits [leads team]), Pacioretty (138 shots and 14 goals [both lead team]), Tomas Plekanec (27 points [leads team]) and P.K. Subban (21 assists and +9 [both lead team]).

This should be an exciting matchup, probably one of the best we’ve had in the series in a while.  Although they are slumping and on the road, I’m picking Montréal based on their stronger defense and emotionally using this game against a tough opponent to rejuvenate their squad.

1st Annual Colby’s Corner Awards

2015 is coming to an end and it’s time for all the awards for this early 2015-2016 season. This Colby’s Corner will be different, as Nick and I will tag team these awards, sharing who we think should win and why.

The Wayne Gretzky Award– Given to the best offensive player

Colby Kephart– Jamie Benn. I choose Jamie Benn because the answer is in the numbers. Mr. Benn is 1st in goals scored with 19 goals, and 2nd in points with 39. Benn is also 5th in assists, but this doesn’t explain what he truly means to this Dallas team. Jamie Benn is the best offensive player of the year.

Nick Lanciani– You’ve got to go with Jamie Benn here, quite simply because he was last year’s Art Ross Trophy winner and is still maintaining a consistent scoring pace. While his counterpart, Tyler Seguin, might have showed signs of slowing down over the last week or so, Benn’s game elevates the level of everyone around him and Seguin will quickly get back into the same rhythm.

Goaltender of the year (sorry Bryz, it’s not you)

CK– Henrik Lundqvist. King Henrik is the best goalie in this early season. He is 1st in save percentage and 3rd in both goals-against-average and wins. Lundqvist’s numbers are similar to Carey Price’s MVP season from last year.

NL– Washington’s Braden Holtby has continued to stake his claim in the short list of elite goaltenders in the world. This season he’s got a 1.95 GAA, .928 SV%, and a 17-4-1 record to boot in 22 games played. We said in our season previews that Washington would be a dominant team and Holtby is a dominant force in front of the net. Speaking of the Force, I’m excited for Star Wars…

If Carey Price wasn’t injured, I’m sure he’d be making a strong case for himself this season as he did last season when he took home the Vezina Trophy and Hart Trophy.

The Bobby Orr Award– Given to the best defensemen of the year

CK– John Klingberg. This young defenseman has proven himself in this season with 30 points thus far, which is crazy. I understand he is on one of the best teams in the league, and plays alongside stars like Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. But he has 5 goals and 25 assists in just 28 games played, which is more than a point a game.

NL– There’s a reason why I picked up Klingberg on my fantasy team, if we’re talking specific aspects of the game. Otherwise, Erik Karlsson is leading defensemen in points with 6-26-32 totals through 29 games played, so really if you want to split this one into “best two-way/offensive defenseman” and “best defenseman” I’d be able to give both of them an award.

Coach of the Year (so far) Award

CK– Lindy Ruff. At this point, you are seeing a trend that I believe Dallas is a top team this year, and this man is a big reason why. He has made many lucrative moves, like deciding who to play with Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn. It was once Patrick Sharp on the wing, but in recent games it has been Valeri Nichushkin. This kid only had one assist last season but this season has 12 points, proving himself to Mr. Ruff.

NL– Umm, can we talk about what they’re doing in Vancouver, Los Angeles, San Jose, and Ottawa, or should I just go with a cop out and pick Lindy Ruff as well? I’ll tell you who’s not my coach of the year, but I wouldn’t want a stanchion sent my way between the benches… John Tortorella gets a pass for now with regards to “worst” coach of the year.

But if you want me to say who I’d pick as coach of the year right now (again) it’s got to be Ruff. Actually, just make Dallas earn all the front office of the year awards. Well, maybe almost all of them. Washington would definitely be their main competition. Hmm, actually, would Ruff mind sharing our award with Barry Trotz? Asking for a friend.

Best Team of 2015

CJhyiLmKCK– Dallas Stars. No surprise here as I am saying that the Dallas Stars are the best team in the league thus far. They lead the NHL with 44 points and their offense is the best with 98 goals for this season. They also have the most wins the league, with 21 wins in 28 games (that’s only 7 losses!).

 

NL– Well, if the Ottawa Senators get any hotter, I might be picking them soon, but yeah, Dallas or Washington again. No surprise here. Maybe even Montreal, if they can avoid losing nine straight to match their winning streak to start the season. I don’t just want to go with this season’s eventual President’s Trophy winner, so really I’m just trying to add a few more teams to the conversation.

 

Rookie of the year (until Nick jinx’s him)

CK– Artemi Panarin. 9 goals, 19 assists—this kid has to be considered one of the biggest surprises of the season. I may not know how to pronounce his name, but I know he has been great for the Blackhawks this season and will be competing for the NHL rookie of the year award.

NL– I hate picking a “rookie of the year” halfway through, because usually I end up jinxing them, so I guess I’ll have to be careful with this one. Artemi Panarin, bud, I don’t want to ruin your chances, but if I had to pick who I think will take home the Calder Trophy in June, well, I’ve got to go with Max Domi. I just think that in the long run Domi will be able to overcome the 5 points in scoring separation between himself and Panarin as it stands right now.

With that said, if I’m picking one for right now it’s definitely Panarin. No questions asked. Actually, did anybody think of a defenseman? Oh well.

Patrik Stefan’s Team of the Year– Worst team of the year

CK– Toronto Maple Leafs. Toronto fans were excited to win the Mike Babcock sweepstakes and had high hopes for this season. They knew the offense would be affected with the Phil Kessel trade, but no one knew it would be this bad. Toronto is struggling, and I feel they will finish near the bottom of the league this season.giphy

 

NL– Any team that’s near the bottom of the standings that starts with a “C” is splitting this award. So Columbus, Carolina and Colorado, congrats! You’re losers! But winners in our hearts.

*Disclaimer: I’m fully aware that things are still dismal in Toronto and possibly Calgary, so we’ll see which one of those Canadian teams is in contention for this award at the end of the regular season. They’ll probably have to do worse than one of the “C” teams mentioned above though.

Biggest surprise of year

CK– Arizona Coyotes. The Arizona Coyotes are the biggest surprise of this season as they are making an interesting push to playoffs. They have been bouncing between being the 3rd division spot or out of the playoffs. Max Domi and Anthony Duclair are having strong rookie seasons, and have surprised both the league and me personally.

NL– Remember how I mentioned Max Domi before, yeah, well that was intentional. I was leading you to the obvious. The Vancouver Canucks and the Tampa Bay Lightning are big surprises this year, with the Canucks currently 2nd in the Pacific Division and well, not in last like I thought they would be after their inactivity in the offseason. I mean, Matt Bartkowski? Really? Then again, it looks like he’s found a home on the blue line defending Johnny Canuck from the opposition.

And Tampa’s currently 6th in the Atlantic Division, albeit a close spread in points, only ten points out of first and two points from a wild card spot, but one would think they would be flexing their muscle this season as they did in their Stanley Cup Final run last spring. If they fall further, they’re definitely the biggest surprise, in my eyes, for all the wrong reasons. Likewise, Jon Cooper would probably deserve some heavy scrutiny, with the whole hysteria surrounding Steven Stamkos’s pending unrestricted free agency possibility.

But if I have to be nice and pick a pleasant surprise, I’m going with either Vancouver- as I already discussed- or Arizona- as Colby already pointed out (and I’m totally hopping on that Domi-Duclair bandwagon by the way).

Numbers Game: Look to the Rafters- Montreal Canadiens

By: Nick Lanciani

I’m back with my continued exploration of what retired numbers around the league may look like in the future continues. 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.

UnknownMontreal Canadiens

Current Retired Numbers- 1 Jacques Plante, 2 Doug Harvey, 3 Émile Bouchard, 4 Jean Beliveau, 5 Bernie Geoffrion/Guy Lapointe, 7 Howie Morenz, 9 Maurice Richard, 10 Guy Lafleur, 12 Yvan Cournoyer/Dickie Moore, 16 Henri Richard/Elmer Lach, 18 Serge Savard, 19 Larry Robinson, 23 Bob Gainey, 29 Ken Dryden, 33 Patrick Roy

Recommended Numbers to Retire

11 Saku Koivu

To have your number retired by the Montreal Canadiens is perhaps one of the greatest accomplishments in all of sports. Koivu was the definition of what it meant to be a Canadien in the 1990s and early 2000s, as well as the definition of courage in his battle with cancer. Saku Koivu was an exceptional player for Montreal and even Boston fans will agree with that statement. It was weird watching Koivu in a Ducks jersey, but it would be even weirder if the Canadiens don’t retire his jersey number.

Other Notes

Eventually, I’ll probably add Carey Price (number 31), Max Pacioretty (number 67) and P.K. Subban (number 76) to this list, but for the immediate future the Canadiens really should retire Koivu’s number and make Brendan Gallagher wear something else.

November 7 – Day 32 – Let’s watch THAT rivalry

It may have taken overtime, but the Detroit Red Wings improved their record to 7-5-1 after beating the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1.

Assisted by Dylan Larkin and Justin Abdelkader, Henrik Zetterberg scored the Wings‘ lone regulation goal at the 16:21 mark of the first period from the blue line, the lone goal through both intermissions.

Detroit fans were apparently starting to think the ‘S-word’ too early, as Tyler Bozak and Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau assisted Dion Phaneuf to score on Petr Mrazek with only 1:02 remaining to tie the game.

Jakub Kindl, assisted by Teemu Pulkkinen and Tomas Tatar, fired the game winner over James Reimer’s glove shoulder at 2:17 mark of overtime to seal the victory for the Wings.

Mrazek’s record improves to 4-3-0 after saving 32 of 33 (97%), while Reimer’s record falls to 2-2-2 after saving 22 of 24 (91.7%).

The DtFR Game of the Day series now stands at 18-8-5, still favoring the home squad by 13 points over the roadies.

It’s another busy Saturday (aren’t they all, though?) in the best hockey league in the world, and the action gets an early start at 1 p.m. eastern when Vancouver visits Buffalo (SN).  After that game finishes, our attention turns to the Staples Center, where Los Angeles hosts Florida at 4 p.m. eastern.  Following the completion of that game, the usual starting time of 7 p.m. eastern features four matchups (Boston at Montréal [NHL Network/TVAS/SN], Toronto at Washington [CBC], Ottawa at Carolina [SN1/TVAS2] and Philadelphia at Winnipeg).  8 p.m. eastern brings with it two more opening puck drops (St. Louis at Nashville and Tampa Bay at Minnesota), followed an hour later by the New York Rangers at Arizona.  10 p.m. witnesses the beginning of the Pittsburgh at Calgary game (CBC/SN), followed half an hour later by the evening’s nightcap: Anaheim at San Jose.

Three of tonight’s games are between divisional rivals (BruinsCanadiens, BluesPredators and DucksSharks), and two are being contested by two teams currently qualifying for the playoffs (BluesPredators and LightningWild).

I’m torn between the BluesPredators and BruinsCanadiens, but given the heated, historical rivalry between the second pair, that has to be where we direct our attention tonight.

UnknownUnknown

 

 

 

 

This is Boston‘s third appearance in the Game of the Day series, where they currently own a 0-1-1 record.  Their opponent, the Habs, have been featured four times before tonight and have won all of their appearances.

The 6-5-1 Boston Bruins enter tonight’s game on a two-game losing skid, with their most recent occurring Thursday in Washington, where they fell 4-1.  It was their first result on the road that wasn’t a victory, as they opened the season winning five straight games away from the TD Garden.  They currently sit in fifth place in the Atlantic Division and 10th in the Eastern Conference.

It has been the B‘s offense that has been paying dividends this season, as they’ve had to cover up mistakes on the other end of the ice.  Although they’ve only notched 365 shots so far this season (led by Patrice Bergeron’s 37), they’ve scored 43 goals (with David Krejci accounting for seven) – giving them a cool 11.8% shooting percentage.  Especially potent has been the power play, as the man-advantage has accounted for 14, or 32.6%, of those goals (Bergeron has four to his credit).  Although the Habs are pretty good at killing penalties, they may want to avoid that as much as possible tonight (then again, if we know anything about this rivalry, the chances of that happening are slim to none).

As stated before, the offense has needed to be that good to make up for the sub-par play on the other end.  Kevan Miller has tried to do the best he can blocking shots (he leads the team with 21), but 326 have still reached Tuukka Rask (3-5-1, 87.9%) and co., of which only 88.7% have been saved.  That results is quite a few goals scored against Boston, 40 to be exact, and that rate gets much lower when down a man.  On 44 power play attempts for the opposition, the Bruins have been scored on 13 times, meaning they’ve only stopped 70.45%.

The 12-2-1 Montréal Canadiens enter tonight’s game atop the NHL by three points.  Their most recent game was Thursday when they beat the Islanders 4-1.  The Canadiens are a strong team on both ends of the ice and have firmly established themselves as early favorites after only a month of play.

Their offense has put 458 shots on net (led by Max Pacioretty’s 50), with 12% of those attempts ending up behind the opposing goaltender.  Yes, your math is correct: that’s 55 tallies (of which Dale Weise owns eight), a total that exceeds the league average by 20 scores.  Although not as strong as Boston‘s, Montréal‘s power play has been good in their own right as the Habs have scored on 13 of 52 (25%) attempts, led by Brendan Gallagher’s four goals.  Paired with the Bruins‘ penalty kill, the Canadiens‘ power play could be extremely potent tonight.

On the other end of the ice, the Canadiens have given up 2.25 goals per game (27 total).  Of the shots Andrei Markov doesn’t stop (he has 29 blocks so far this season), Carey Price (7-2-0, 93.6%) and co. have saved 93.8% of the 436 shots they’ve faced this season, allowing only 27 goals.  Even when facing a power play, they’ve played stellar, as they’ve only given up five goals on 49 attempts (89.8%).  This stat will be put to the test as they are facing the Bruins‘ fantastic power play.

In their first of five meetings, the Habs beat Boston at the TD Garden 4-2, with Lars Eller scoring twice in that game.  Last season, Montréal swept Boston in the season series 4-0-0, adding to their all-time record of 461-342-103 over the Bruins.

Some players to watch in tonight’s game include Boston‘s Krejci (15 points [tied for sixth in the league] and seven goals [tied for eighth in the league]) and Montréal‘s Mike Condon (1.5 GAA [leads the league] and .941 save percentage [second in the league]), Gallagher (+9 [tied for fourth in the league]), Markov (12 assists [tied for second in the league] and +9 [tied for fourth in the league]), Pacioretty (+9 [tied for fourth in the league] and seven goals [tied for eighth in the league]), Tomas Plekanec (+9 [tied for fourth in the league] and 14 points [tied for ninth in the league]), P.K. Subban (12 assists [tied for second in the league] and +11 [tied for second in the league]) & Weise (eight goals [tied for fourth in the league]).

Montréal is favored at -140 in tonight’s game, but I’m not convinced that it will be that easy, especially if the Bruins can get under the Habs‘ skin and earn more than their fair-share of penalties while also avoiding going a man-down themselves.

November 1 – Day 26 – All-Canadian

Phil Kessel’s homecoming went about as smoothly as possible for him, as his Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Toronto Maple Leafs with a four-goal shutout last night.

Chris Kunitz scored the winning tally on a power play, assisted by David Perron and Beau Bennett, at the 13:33 mark of the first, the only goal of the period.

Second Star of the Game Eric Fehr made a splash in his 2015-’16 debut by scoring a shorty at the 2:34 mark of the second, assisted by Matt Cullen.  Cullen and Fehr’s period had only just begun, as the two returned each other’s favors 7:55 later, as Fehr and Rob Scuderi assisted Cullen to his first of the season to set the score at 3-0, which held into the third.

The final goal of the game belongs to Patric Hornqvist, as he scored at the 4:31 mark after being assisted by Brian Dumoulin and Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, the First Star.

While the assist may be a feather in his cap, the cap itself for Fleury is certainly the 21-save shutout to earn his sixth victory of the win, while Jonathan Bernier’s record fell to 0-6-1 after saving only 28 of 32 (87.5%).

The DtFR Game of the Day series now stands at 15-7-3, still favoring the home team by 11 points.

Although nowhere near as busy as yesterday, today’s schedule has more action than most Sundays so far this season.  The first game gets started at 3 p.m. eastern when San Jose visits Colorado, followed two hours later by Tampa Bay at Carolina.  Beginning at the usual 7 p.m. eastern starting time is Winnipeg at Montréal (NHLN/SN/RDS), followed half an hour later by Buffalo at the New York Islanders (TVAS/Bell TV).  The nightcap of the evening gets an early start, as Nashville and Anaheim drop the opening puck at 8 p.m. eastern on The Pond.

Only one of today’s matchups involve two teams currently qualifying for the Stanley Cup playoffs, so let’s tune in to the WinnipegMontréal game and make it only our second all-Canadian Game of the Day.

Unknown-3Unknown

 

 

 

 

Winnipeg has been a pleasant surprise this season, as the writers at DtFR did not think they would be able to hold on to their playoff spot from last year.  The 7-3-1 Jets are currently riding a two-game win streak, with their most recent being a 3-2 win over Columbus last night.  What has been most exciting about their success if they have had quality play on both ends of the ice.

The offense has scored 32 goals so far this season to exceed the league average by five tallies, even though they have three fewer shots.  Those fewer shots certainly separate Winnipeg though, as their 10.7% shot percentage leads the league average by 1.7%.  They’ve found particular success on the power play, as their seven goals on 29 attempts (24.14%) is a goal more on five fewer opportunities (18.47%).

The defense and goaltending has been equally as strong, as they’ve only given up 26 goals so far this season (one fewer than the NHL average), even though they’ve faced 33 more shots than the average squad.  This is reflected in their strong 93.1% save percentage, which exceeds the league average by 1.6%.

Even on the penalty kill, the Jets have been strong.  Even though they’ve given up six goals so far this opportunity, they’ve had to defend against two more opportunities, setting their kill rate at 83.33%.

I expect 4-0-0 Michael Hutchinson to get the start tonight after Pavelec’s win last night.

While the Jets have been a pleasant surprise this season, many would say that the 10-2-0 Habs have simply been a surprise, as the monster of the NHL has set their sights on yet another Stanley Cup.  Everything has been going Montréal‘s way so far this season, but the offense in particular has been worthy of everyone’s respect.  They enter tonight’s game after beating Calgary 6-2 Friday night in the Saddledome.

The club has scored a whopping total of 45 goals so far this season, 18 over the league average, which is a strong correlation to the 371 shots they have put on goal (leads the NHL average by 71) and their 12.1% shot percentage.  Montréal has been especially successful on the power play, as they’ve notched 10 goals already this season with the man-advantage.  Although they’ve done it with eight more opportunities, their 23.81% success rate still dwarfs the league average by 5.34%.

Even though the offense has been lighting up the scoreboard, 7-2-0 Carey Price has been no slouch in net either, as he and Mike Condon have given up only 23 goals so far this season, four under the league average, on 372 shots faced, 71 over the NHL average. Although they’ve had to do more work, they’ve been well up to the task as their 93.8% save percentage still exceeds the 91.5% league average.  They’ve been especially successful on the penalty kill, as they’ve stopped 88.1% of the opposition’s man-advantages (compared to the 81.53% league average).

Since the Habs didn’t play last night and they are playing a good Winnipeg team, I would expect Price to get the start in goal.

The Jets and Habs split their two-game series last season, with each team winning on home ice.

Montréal is favored at -185 at the Bell Centre, and although I don’t think it will be that extreme, I do believe that the well-balanced Jets may still be over-matched in tonight’s matchup.

Down the Frozen River Podcast #13- Torts, Goalies, and Other Essentials

The Down the Frozen River Crew talks about the latest in league standings, Winners and Losers, more surprises, other things, and makes several plugs for themselves. Also, Antti Raanta’s only played in 1 game (0.00 GAA, 1.000 SV%), which is not considered by the NHL.com stats page to be leading the league in goalie stats, so you lucked out this time, Reto Berra.

Connor didn’t butcher any names, although he did talk about a keg in a machine instead of a cog… wonder what’s on his mind. Oh and Colby may or may have not spilled the beans on our next marketing campaign. Nick, as usual, did Nick things.

Join the conversation, make a suggestion, or ask a question for our next podcast using #AskDownTheFrozenRiver or #DTFRPodcast on Twitter– your thoughts might make it on our show! Please interact with us- seriously, tell us we’re idiots if you want, we can take it.

October 20 – Day 14 – The Best of the Best

Last night’s game between San Jose and the New York Rangers ended poorly for the hot-starting Sharks, who fell in a four-goal shutout at Madison Square Garden.

Marc Staal scored the lone goal of the first period, the game winner, at the 10:36 mark, assisted by Derick Brassard and Jesper Fast.  At almost the same point in the second, Rick Nash and Dan Boyle assisted Mats Zuccarello to his fourth goal of the season, this one on the power play, to set the score at 2-0.  3:47 into the third, Fast scored his first goal of the year after assists from Chris Kreider and Keith Yandle, followed 13 minutes later by Viktor Stalberg’s goal, assisted by Staal.

Martin Jones earned his first loss of the season after only stopping 24 of 28 (85.7%), while Antii Raanta earned the shutout victory on 22 shots faced in his first game of the season.

The DtFR Game of the Day series now stands at 7-5-1 for the home team.

On tonight’s schedule are seven games, of which five are inter-conference matchups.  Three games get started at 7 p.m. eastern (Arizona at New Jersey, Florida at Pittsburgh and the New York Islanders at Columbus), followed half an hour later by two more games (Dallas at Philadelphia [NBCSN] and St. Louis at Montréal).  At 8 p.m. eastern, Tampa Bay and Nashville drop the puck at Bridgestone Arena, followed an hour later by the last game of the evening, Washington at Calgary.

The game that stands out the most this evening is being contested in the Bell Centre between the two conference-leading squads, the St. Louis Blues and the Montréal Canadiens.

Unknown-1Unknown

The Habs are currently leading the league with an undefeated 6-0-0 record, but the Blues are in hot pursuit with a 5-1-0 record having only played one game so far this season at Scottrade Center.

Montréal is coming off a Saturday 4-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings, although it came with maybe the most adversity they’ve faced so far this season.  The Habs had not trailed in five full games played, but the Wings scored the first goal of this game before five minutes had ticked off the clock in the second period.  Carey Price and the Canadiens took it personally, not giving up another goal the rest of the night, but the forwards were really the ones who were offended, scoring the game-tying goal almost exactly three minutes later before the three-goal explosion that was the final period.  Jeff Petry accounted for the game-winner (assisted by Alex Galchenyuk and David Desharnais), followed by Tomas Plekanec (Brendan Gallagher notched an assist) and Brian Flynn.

This is St. Louis‘ fifth straight game north of the border during their six-game road trip.  Their last game was in Manitoba against the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday, a game the Notes won 4-2, but, similar to Montréal, it took a little bit of work.  After a scoreless first period, Dmitrij Jaskin and Jori Lehtera assisted RW Vladimir Tarasenko to open the wild second in the fourth minute.  A minute later, Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little took advantage of the man-advantage to assist Mathieu Perreault to his first goal of the season to tie the game at one-all.  In the 10th minute of the second, Jaskin and Joel Edmundson assisted Scottie Upshall to his second tally of the year to give the Blues a 2-1 lead, but it was again short-lived due to another St. Louis penalty, an interference call against Edmundson.  Nikolaj Ehlers and Mark Scheifele assisted Drew Stafford to his second goal of the season, tying the game again, this time at two-all, the score that held into the third.  Tarasenko fired the winning goal of the game with 10:10 remaining in the game, followed in the 19th minute by Carl Gunnarsson’s insurance goal.

Some players to watch in tonight’s game include Montréal‘s D Andrei Markov (+8 Corsi rating [tied for league lead]), LW Max Pacioretty (+8 Corsi rating [tied for league lead] and four goals [tied for fifth in league]), C Plekanec (five goals [tied for league lead] and +7 Corsi rating [tied for third in league]), G Carey Price (five wins [leads league], one shutout [tied for second in league], .957 save percentage [tied for fifth in league] and 1.2 GAA [seventh in league]) & D P.K. Subban (+7 Corsi rating [tied for third in league]) and St. Louis‘ RW Tarasenko (five goals [tied for league lead], nine points [tied for league lead] and +6 Corsi rating [tied for sixth in league]).

Montréal is favored at -133 and has given up the fewest goals in the league (seven), but is playing a Blues team that leads the league in goals scored (21).  Montréal leads in goals against average (1.17 per game), penalty kill percentage (90.5%) and shots per game (34), while St. Louis leads in goals per game average (3.5 per game), power play percentage (19%), shots against average (25 per game) and face-off percentage (53.8%).

This will be an excellent game, certainly worthy of national attention.  It’s well documented that I’m a midwesterner and partial to my Blues, and I’ll certainly be wearing my Brett Hull sweater, but I think the Habs pull this one out in the Bell Centre.

Down the Frozen River Podcast #12- Surprise Surprise, Connor Only Messed Up Once

The Down the Frozen River crew talks about many things as week one (and a half) of the 2015-2016 regular season has gone by. Standings, winners and losers, and a couple of new segments debut in this episode of the Down the Frozen River Podcast. Connor only messed up one name and Colby will be back next time.

Surprisingly mentioned this week- Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo. Surprisingly not mentioned this week- Zach Boychuk, Pete Blackburn, DJ Bean.

Join the conversation, make a suggestion, or ask a question for our next podcast using #AskDownTheFrozenRiver or #DTFRPodcast on Twitter- your thoughts might make it on our show! Please interact with us.

October 15 – Day Nine – No games on TV has me bummed…

For two days in a row, the Game of the Day has yielded unexpected results as the Chicago Blackhawks were blanked by the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center last night 3-0.

The two squads played a scoreless 25 minutes before Philadelphia broke the ice (HA! IT’S HOCKEY! THEY PLAY ON ICE!  …I will stop now.) with a power play goal by Sam Gagner, his first of the season.  Claude Giroux added the first insurance tally at the 16:21 mark in the second period, followed by Matt Read early in the third.

Michal Neuvirth earned his second shutout victory in as many games played by stopping all 30 of the Hawks‘ shots, while Corey Crawford’s record falls to 1-2 after stopping 26 of 29 (89.7%)

The DtFR Game of the Day series is now an even four-all between the home and road squads.

Today is a busy day in the league, with a total of eight games being played, of which only two are north of the American border.  Three games drop the puck at 7 p.m. eastern (Nashville at the New York Islanders, Ottawa at Pittsburgh, and Chicago at Washington), followed half an hour later by another set of three (the New York Rangers at Montréal, Dallas at Tampa Bay and Buffalo at Florida).  St. Louis and Edmonton get started at 9 p.m. eastern, followed an hour later by the final game of the night: Minnesota at Arizona.

Of that set, there are at least four solid games to choose from (at least in my opinion), but sadly there aren’t any nationally televised games to help make the decision any easier (must be the Game 5 between the Mets and Dodgers…).

Therefore, I’m basically going to draw a game out of the hat and go with the Rangers at Montréal at the Bell Centre.
New York Rangers LogoUnknown

There’s a few appealing qualities about this game compared to the other great games tonight: This one is Montréal‘s home opener, looking for their best start ever in an illustrious franchise history.  This one is an Original Six matchup.  And, this one pits the two current division leaders of the Eastern Conference against each other.  All of these should make for a great game.

Some players to watch in this one include Montréal‘s Andrei Markov (+6 Corsi rating [tied for league lead]), Max Pacioretty (four goals [tied for league lead], +6 Corsi rating [tied for league lead] and six points [tied for second in the league]), Tomas Plekanec (+6 Corsi rating [tied for league lead]), Carey Price (three wins [tied for league lead]) & P.K. Subban (four assists [tied for sixth in the league]) and New York‘s Oscar Lindberg (four goals [tied for league lead]) & Henrik Lundqvist (three wins [tied for league lead]).

Given the environment and some of the statistical edges the Habs have (averaging a goal less per game, higher power play and penalty kill percentages and more shots per game), I’m picking Montréal to win this very competitive game.