To mark 200 episodes of the DTFR Podcast, Nick and Colby talk about the origin story of DTFR, give podcast advice and share some of their favorite memories from the show or otherwise from the last six years of Down the Frozen River. Also, Lindy Ruff is the new head coach of the New Jersey Devils, more Florida Panthers talk and extended CBA musings.
The Buffalo Sabres traded a conditional 2021 5th round pick to the New Jersey Devils for Wayne Simmonds on Monday ahead of the NHL’s annual trade deadline.
If Buffalo makes the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs and Simmonds plays in at least 10 games, then the 2021 5th round pick is upgraded to a 2021 4th round pick in the exchange.
Meanwhile, New Jersey retained 50% ($2.500 million) of Simmonds’ salary in the trade.
Simmonds, 31, is a pending-unrestricted free agent at season’s end and had 8-16–24 totals in 61 games with the Devils this season at the time of the trade.
A native of Scarborough, Ontario, the 6-foot-2, 185-pound right wing was originally drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the second round (31st overall) of the 2007 NHL Draft and has amassed 251 goals and 247 assists (498 points) in 902 career NHL games for the Kings, Philadelphia Flyers, Nashville Predators and Devils since entering the league in the 2008-09 season.
He scored 20 or more goals in six out of seven seasons from 2011-18 while in Philadelphia and reached the 60-point plateau twice in that span.
Meanwhile, New Jersey owns 16 picks in the next two NHL Entry Drafts, including three first round picks in 2020 and two third round picks in 2021.
The DTFR Podcast is back from hiatus as Nick provides a State of the Podcast, reviews a few things from the last couple of months and delves into all of the transactions leading up to the 2020 NHL trade deadline.
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).
Hi #sens fans… the @nhl break is here! @aduclair10 and I are off to St Louis. CATch us showcasing our stuff for #NHLAllStar and the #MascotShowdown respectively. #TwoAllStars #gosensgo pic.twitter.com/FSnFSggX6W— Spartacat (@REAL_Spartacat) January 21, 2020
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.
Dropping your 🍌 split = 😭— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) January 17, 2020
70% Super/Split Saturday = 😁
Tomorrow's #Oilers vs. Coyotes game is not only a huge divisional matchup, it's also our next Super/Split Saturday as the 50/50 winner will take home 70% of the total pot!
🎟 https://t.co/CFi44ORLeM pic.twitter.com/ICd7lEomM1
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.
Félicitations à un autre numéro 33 légendaire du sport à Montréal!— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) January 22, 2020
Congratulations to another legendary No. 33 from the Montreal sports scene!#LarryWalkerHOF | @Cdnmooselips33 pic.twitter.com/TcCwEo2gBa
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.
Happy Thanksgiving. 🦃 pic.twitter.com/rKYXrdfgeB— Chance (@ChanceNHL) November 28, 2019
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.
How's that for a Sunday afternoon!?! pic.twitter.com/DgCGypgFup— Mick E Moose (@MickEMoose_00) December 8, 2019
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?
Finally joined the world of Instagram! Follow me @DallasStarsVic— Victor E. Green (@VictorEGreen) January 9, 2020
Any other account is FAKE! pic.twitter.com/7UwBTmG9ZA
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.
Whale would you look at that 🐋 pic.twitter.com/r3pLoxEBDX— Stormy (@NHLStormy) January 11, 2020
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.
Patrice Bergeron, the #NHLBruins, and @985TheSportsHub teamed up for the 2020 Pucks & Paddles ping pong tournament on Friday, raising $125,000 for Floating Hospital for Children at @TuftsMedicalCtr.— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) January 18, 2020
📸 Full Photo Gallery: https://t.co/HB8b7UILn8 pic.twitter.com/qf7sLedcki
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.)
Am I doing this right? pic.twitter.com/p3EQZzvYbD— Gritty (@GrittyNHL) January 22, 2020
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.
Let’s face it, most people over the age of 18 don’t care for the NHL’s annual All Star Game, but it’s still an important part of the sport nonetheless.
For starters, the host city is provided with a boost in tourism for a weekend in January, while the local community receives more attention and support from the league in terms of growing the game for the duration leading up to that weekend and beyond– making it more accessible, more affordable and more inclusive, ideally.
It’s because of the good public relations and the charitable efforts made that the All Star Game should never go away.
That said, it could use some improvements to try to bring back the casual onlookers of the sport or even the diehards that tune out for the night and would rather watch paint dry.
Here’s three ways to try to bring more eyes to the game and at the very least boost its ratings on a weekend when not much else is happening to distract viewers from that season’s best NHLers having a little fun (how dare they).
Make it like the 2016 World Cup of Hockey
Want to further exemplify how the game is continuing to evolve, while getting younger and faster? Look no further than introducing a 23 and under team inspired by the 2016 World Cup of Hockey’s Team North America to the 3-on-3 format of the All Star Game!
Simply go back to naming teams after players and having them select their teammates and/or opponents, then pit the 23-year-olds and younger against the 30-year-olds and older and see if Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews and Rasmus Dahlin can beat Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin (assuming he wouldn’t skip the game) and John Carlson.
Want an added challenge? Bring back the Young Stars Game for players ranging in age from 18 to 20 and have them take on each other in an East vs. West format or simply throw them into the fire with the 23 and under team, 24 to 29-year-old team and 30 and older team (or something like that).
But seriously, either adopt the World Cup of Hockey teams for a 3-on-3 battle, mix it up with a young vs. old mentality or just pick who goes to the All Star Game and let them create their teams.
Imagine a team solely comprised of goaltenders. Now that’s worth tuning in for.
Better yet, let’s have the Elite Women’s team take on NHLers in a Billie Jean King vs. Bobby Riggs inspired matchup or have Marie-Philip Poulin lace up her skates alongside Crosby, while Hilary Knight suits up with Matthews and unleash the fury that is all of Hockey Canada and USA Hockey coming together for an ultimate 3-on-3 battle.
Make it a weekend of skills
If most fans over the age of 18 are tuning in for All Star weekend festivities just to see who’s the fastest skater, who has the hardest shot, what kind of crazy relay race Gatorade has come up this year or the all-new addition of a 3-on-3 women’s game to the skills competition, then why not make it a two-night main event?
The Hardest Shot competition, for example, wouldn’t get to be featured on both nights with the possibility of players altering their sticks within legal manners to try to get more speed on their shot– unless you wanted to add something like that as a curveball.
If you don’t want to expand the number of events, then get creative and allow a little tampering for players to study what they did on the first night, learn what their competition did better and try to beat that on the second night.
Alternatively, the league could just have have a mixture of traditional skills (Hardest Shot, Fastest Skater, Accuracy Shooting) and newer competitions (Shooting Stars, Save Streak, Elite Women’s 3-on-3 game) spread out over two nights with the return of the Breakaway Challenge, Skills Challenge Relay, Premier Passer, Puck Control Relay, Elimination Shootout and whatever you can come with to split each night with six different events.
Bring back the Eastern Conference vs. Western Conference format or have the divisions compete against each other and award points to the winners of each event.
The squad with the most points at the end of the two-night challenge wins bonus money or something.
Throw in an extra $50,000 for a charity that the winning team was playing for and you’ve got yourself even more good PR.
Don’t announce the All Star rosters until player introductions
Remember the outrage about Team USA’s 2010 Winter Games roster after it was announced immediately following the 2010 Winter Classic at Fenway Park?
This would be like that, but with more people than ever before on Hockey Twitter™ completely freaking out about how Jack Johnson was named to the All Star Game.
Think of the controversy that could be drummed up in real-time without allowing anyone to have about a month to whine about All Star snubs or substitutions.
Even better, it might force players to go to the game instead of using the built-in time off from the bye week as an excuse to skip out on something that’s made for fans to get a chance to see who they might otherwise not see regularly.
(So the NHLPA’s never going to agree to this idea from the start, because time off matters.)
Sure the schedule currently lets every market see players from out of town, but the novelty of the All Star Game has always been that the host city and its fans (or anyone that may have traveled from out of town to the region) can get to see the stars of the game without the barriers of dynamic ticket pricing getting in the way (in theory) for a family of four that might not be able to afford a regular matchup against one of the more superstar loaded teams.
This idea’s the hardest one to pull off given how well secrets are kept in the league (they’re not), as well as due to the fact that people would know by warmups who’s made the team and tweet about it, plus the fact that All Star merchandise with any player’s likeness would still need to be made ahead of time to sell at just the right time leading up to the game and thereafter (which could get leaked).
New jerseys and future Winter Classic venues and teams are constantly being disclosed before official announcements or reveals, which can sometimes take the fun away from the moment when it actually happens or– more often– only further stew angry complaints on social media until fans see it on the ice.
But just think, what if we all agreed to show up to Enterprise Center or watch the 2020 All Star Game on TV without knowing who’s in it only to find out that Brad Marchand was left off the team even though he’s currently 6th in league scoring (with 64 points– 10 points fewer than league leader, McDavid) or that anyone from the Detroit Red Wings or New Jersey Devils even made the team despite the former being on track for the worst regular season since the 2016-17 Colorado Avalanche?
Imagine the drama– then watch them play a 3-on-3 tournament!
Oh yeah, this also assumes that you’d somehow not spoil the rosters with the Skills Competition, but we can work those details out at a later time.
The New Jersey Devils completed a, 3-2, shootout victory comeback over the Boston Bruins at Prudential Center on Tuesday afternoon to close out 2019.
Mackenzie Blackwood (13-10-5 record, 2.85 goals against, .907 save percentage in 30 games played) made 28 saves on 30 shots against for a .933 SV% in the win for the Devils.
Bruins goaltender, Jaroslav Halak (9-3-5, 2.20 GAA, .930 SV% in 17 games played) stopped 42 out of 44 shots faced for a .955 SV% in the shootout loss.
Boston fell to 24-7-10 (58 points) on the season, but remained in command of the Atlantic Divison, while New Jersey improved to 14-19-6 (34 points) and stayed in 8th place in the Metropolitan Division.
The B’s also fell to 10-6-2 on the road this season.
The Bruins were without the services of Kevan Miller (knee), Torey Krug (upper body), Charlie McAvoy (lower body), Connor Clifton (upper body) and David Krejci (lower body) on Tuesday.
Miller has now officially missed half of the season, since Boston played their 41st game of the regular season in New Jersey.
As a result of the numerous injuries on the blue line for the B’s, Jeremy Lauzon was recalled from the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Monday.
Lauzon has 1-9–10 totals in 35 games with Providence this season and made his season debut with Boston on the second defensive pairing with Matt Grzelcyk at his side.
Karson Kuhlman (fractured tibia) was assigned to Providence on Monday in what might be a conditioning stint, if not just a return to playing action with a plethora of depth forwards seeking playing time in Boston.
Kuhlman has not played since being injured in Toronto on Oct. 19th.
Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made changes to his lineup from Sunday night’s, 3-2, victory against Buffalo.
Anders Bjork, Charlie Coyle and Brett Ritchie were moved up to the second line, while Jake DeBrusk slid down to the third line left wing slot as Par Lindholm and David Backes drew back into the lineup.
Meanwhile, on defense, Lauzon was paired with Grzelcyk and John Moore remained with Steven Kampfer, while Zdeno Chara and Brandon Carlo earned first pairing duties.
Danton Heinen was the only healthy scratch for Boston on Tuesday.
Devils defender, P.K. Subban, caught Sean Kuraly without the puck and was assessed a minor penalty for interference at 1:17 of the first period.
The Bruins capitalized on the ensuing power play when David Pastrnak unloaded a shot on a one-timer that trickled through Blackwood, but slowed before reaching the goal line.
As a result, Brad Marchand (20) ensured the puck reached the twine by tapping it in from the crease and gave Boston the, 1-0, lead on the power play.
Pastrnak (30) and Grzelcyk (9) had the assists on Marchand’s power play goal at 2:03.
Both teams swapped chances for the rest of the opening frame, but no more penalties were called or goals scored heading into the first intermission.
Boston led New Jersey, 1-0, on the scoreboard and held the advantage in shots on goal, 14-10.
The Bruins also led in blocked shots (7-4), while the Devils had the advantage in giveaways (4-2), hits (8-4) and faceoff win percentage (53-47).
Both teams had one takeaway aside and the Bruins were 1/1 on the skater advantage, while New Jersey had yet to see any time on the power play.
Marchand went to the box nine seconds into the second period after tripping up Devils forward, Nikita Gusev, but New Jersey couldn’t convert on the ensuing power play opportunity.
Moments later, Kuraly worked the puck down low and squibbed it through Blackwood into the crease and off Sami Vatanen’s skate, whereby Joakim Nordstrom (4) poked the loose puck over the goal line to give the Bruins a two-goal lead.
Kuraly (12) and Carlo (9) tallied the assists on Nordstrom’s goal at 4:27 of the second period and Boston led, 2-0.
Almost midway through the middle frame, New Jersey sustained offensive zone pressure for a solid few minutes.
The Devils re-entered the attacking zone on a quick break while the Bruins were in the midst of a line change, as Blake Coleman dropped the puck back to Gusev for a give-and-go back to Coleman (12) for the one-timer goal at 8:58.
Gusev (16) and Vatanen (16) had the assists on Coleman’s goal as New Jersey cut Boston’s lead in half, 2-1.
Less than a minute later, Travis Zajac went to the penalty box for tripping Marchand at 9:07, but Boston’s resulting power play was short lived as Grzelcyk tripped up Nico Hischier at 9:20.
The two sides played 1:47 of 4-on-4 action before the Devils had an abbreviated 5-on-4 power play.
Entering the second intermission, the Bruins led the Devils, 2-1, on the scoreboard and, 23-22, in shots on goal– despite New Jersey holding the, 12-9, advantage in shots on net in the second period alone.
Boston also held the advantage in blocked shots (9-6), while the Devils led in takeaways (4-3), giveaways (8-4), hits (15-7) and faceoff win% (55-45).
New Jersey went 0/2 on the power play and the Bruins were 1/2 on the skater advantage after 40 minutes played.
Lauzon opened things up in the final frame of regulation with an interference minor against Miles Wood at 2:34 of the third period.
New Jersey didn’t score on the ensuing power play.
Almost midway through the third period, Nordstrom tripped up Mirco Mueller and was sent to the sin bin at 7:55, but once again the Devils couldn’t convert on the skater advantage.
A few minutes past the midpoint in the third period, Jesper Bratt (8) tipped in a shot from Subban by standing right in front of Halak– tying the game, 2-2, in the process.
Subban (5) and Hischier (15) notched the assists on Bratt’s goal at 13:11 and New Jersey was in full swing with momentum on their side.
Neither team took another penalty until overtime and the two teams finished regulation tied, 2-2, on the scoreboard with the Devils leading in shots on goal, 41-28– including a, 19-5, advantage in the third period alone.
Boston held the advantage in blocked shots (15-13), takeaways (9-8) and faceoff win% (51-49), while New Jersey led in giveaways (14-5) and hits (19-13).
The Devils were 0/4 on the power play and the Bruins were 1/2 on the skater advantage heading into overtime.
Cassidy started Patrice Bergeron, Marchand and Moore in the extra frame for Boston, while Alain Nasreddine began overtime with Hischier, Damon Severson and Vatanen on the ice.
Late in the overtime period, Bratt hooked Kuraly and was assessed a minor infraction at 4:48.
As a result, Cassidy used his timeout with 11.6 seconds left in overtime to drum up a plan if the Bruins won the ensuing draw and could muster a shot on goal before time expired.
At the horn, the B’s and Devils were heading for a shootout, tied, 2-2, through 65 minutes of action.
New Jersey finished the effort leading in shots on goal (44-30), giveaways (14-5) and hits (19-13), while Boston led in blocked shots (16-14).
The two sides were even in faceoff win% (50-50), while the Devils went 0/4 and the Bruins went 1/3 on the power play.
Nasreddine elected to shoot first in the shootout and sent Gusev out to face Halak in the opening round, but Gusev shot the puck square at the B’s goaltender.
Cassidy responded with Coyle to kick things off for Boston in the shootout, but Coyle missed the net after deking and losing the puck off his forehand while losing an edge in front of the crease.
Jesper Boqvist shot second for New Jersey and fired a shot directly at Halak.
Pastrnak was next up for Boston, but was denied by Blackwood as the Devils goaltender made a glove save while falling as Pastrnak stickhandled the puck and let it fly.
Devils forward, Kyle Palmieri, began the third round of the shootout with a shot off Halak’s glove and wide.
Palmieri was followed by Marchand in the third round of the shootout and for once the Bruins winger didn’t opt for a five-hole attempt.
Instead, Marchand rang the post over Blackwood’s blocker.
Through three rounds of the shootout, the two clubs were knotted, 0-0.
Wayne Simmonds began the fourth round of the shootout with an attempt at wrapping the puck around Halak’s outstretched legs, but Halak shut the door between the post and his skate.
Cassidy sent out DeBrusk to break up the deadlock, but DeBrusk crashed the net with speed and was denied by Blackwood’s leg pad as the New Jersey goaltender cut down on the angle of DeBrusk’s approach by playing out of the crease a little.
Just as it seemed like a shootout from hell, the Devils elected to utilize Jack Hughes’ skillset in the fifth round of the shootout.
Hughes dangled the puck and got Halak to commit to a hybrid stance before firing a shot below Halak’s glove and inside the post for the first goal of the shootout– putting New Jersey in command.
Not to be outdone, noted Bruins fourth liner, Chris Wagner, was sent out to tie the shootout and did just that after a nifty dangle to his backhand before roofing the puck over Blackwood and through the top-shelf– tying the shootout, 1-1, after five rounds.
In a grand twist from the other night’s own-goal in overtime against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Severson was sent out onto the ice to try to give New Jersey control of their own destiny and the Hockey Gods responded in kind.
Severson deked and scored a goal that was reminiscent of Wagner’s only about a minute prior with a backhand that he elevated over Halak to put the Devils ahead in the shootout, 2-1.
With the game on his stick, Bergeron had to score to extend the shootout, but Blackwood snagged the puck out of mid-air with his glove– denying Bergeron of yet another shootout goal.
No. 37 in black and gold hasn’t scored a shootout goal in about five calendar years as the Devils emerged with the, 3-2, shootout victory on home ice.
The B’s fell to 18-1-2 when having a two-goal lead at any time this season and fell to 0-6 in shootouts this season, while New Jersey improved to 2-4 overall past overtime.
The Bruins fell to 17-5-6 when scoring the game’s first goal, 15-3-2 when leading after the first period and 13-0-4 when leading after two periods this season.
Boston kicks off 2020 with a two-game homestand against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday and Edmonton Oilers on Saturday before making a quick visit to Nashville to face the Predators next Tuesday.
Jake DeBrusk scored a pair of power play goals 18 seconds apart in the Boston Bruins’, 3-2, victory over the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden on Sunday night.
Tuukka Rask (15-4-5 record, 2.31 goals against average, .923 save percentage in 24 games played) made 24 saves on 26 shots against (.923 SV%) in the win for the Bruins.
Sabres goaltender, Linus Ullmark (11-10-3, 2.80 GAA, .913 SV% in 24 games played) stopped 19 out of 22 shots faced for an .864 SV% in the loss.
Boston improved to 24-7-9 (57 points) overall and remained in command of the Atlantic Division, while Buffalo fell to 17-16-7 (41 points) and remained in 6th place in the Atlantic.
The B’s also improved to 14-1-8 at home on the season.
The Bruins were without the services of Kevan Miller (knee), Karson Kuhlman (fractured tibia), Torey Krug (undisclosed) and Charlie McAvoy (undisclosed) on Sunday.
Boston’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made a couple minor changes to his lineup from Friday night’s, 3-0, shutout in Buffalo.
Brett Ritchie returned to the lineup and was reunited with Anders Bjork and Charlie Coyle on the third line, while Sean Kuraly returned to his role as the fourth line center with Joakim Nordstrom on his left wing and Chris Wagner on his right wing.
Par Lindholm joined David Backes in the press box for the B’s as their only healthy scratches against the Sabres on Sunday.
Boston kicked things off with eight skaters on the ice for a too many skaters on the ice minor penalty at 2:50 of the first period– yielding the game’s first power play to Buffalo.
The Sabres weren’t able to convert on the ensuing legal skater advantage.
Midway through the opening frame, David Pastrnak (29) scored on a one-timer after Patrice Bergeron fed Brad Marchand with a stretch pass through the neutral zone and the two first line wingers entered the attacking zone on a 2-on-1.
Marchand (39) and Bergeron (18) had the assists on Pastrnak’s goal as the Bruins took the, 1-0, lead at 12:39 of the first period.
Moments later, Wagner tripped Sabres blue liner, Brandon Montour, and was assessed a minor infraction at 16:35. Buffalo didn’t score on their second power play of the night.
Entering the first intermission, the Bruins led the Sabres, 1-0, on the scoreboard, despite trailing in shots on goal, 7-2.
Boston held the advantage in blocked shots (9-3), while Buffalo led in giveaways (4-3), hits (16-7) and faceoff win percentage (67-33).
Both teams had two takeaways aside, while the Sabres were 0/2 on the only skater advantages of the period.
Just 15 seconds into the middle frame, Henri Jokiharju tripped Marchand and presented the Bruins with their first power play of the night.
Boston’s power play was powerless as Buffalo’s penalty kill shifted momentum towards the Sabres– culminating in a goal early in the second period.
Rasmus Ristolainen (4) flung a shot at the net that Rask saved, but Zdeno Chara bopped the puck off his own goaltender and into the twine as the puck squibbed through the Bruins netminder at 6:37 of the second period.
Sam Reinhart (19) and Marcus Johansson (11) tallied the assists on Ristolainen’s goal as the Sabres tied the game, 1-1.
Midway through the second period, Jimmy Vesey sent the puck over the glass and out of play– yielding an automatic delay of game penalty at 11:02.
Boston’s power play continued to struggle once again and couldn’t score while Vesey was in the box.
A few minutes later, Evan Rodrigues was in the sin bin for tripping Steven Kampfer at 14:11, but the B’s didn’t convert on the ensuing skater advantage.
Shortly thereafter, the Bruins tweeted that their defender, Connor Clifton, wouldn’t return to the game after sustaining an upper body injury earlier in the action.
After 40 minutes of play in Boston, the Bruins and Sabres were tied, 1-1, on the scoreboard with Buffalo holding the advantage in shots on goal, 19-13.
The Sabres also led in takeaways (7-4) and hits (23-15), while the Bruins led in blocked shots (10-7), giveaways (8-5) and faceoff win% (52-49).
Buffalo went 0/2 on the power play through two periods, while Boston went 0/3 on the skater advantage entering the third period.
Early in the final frame of regulation, Johan Larsson took two penalties– one for tripping DeBrusk and another for hooking Marchand– at 1:23 of the third period and presented the Bruins with a 5-on-4 power play for 4:00.
While on the power play, Kampfer fired a shot from the point that DeBrusk (10) redirected past Ullmark while skating through the slot for his first power play goal of the night at 2:37.
Kampfer (1) and Pastrnak (29) notched the assists as Boston took the lead, 2-1.
Just 18 seconds later, DeBrusk (11) fired a shot from about a foot before the goal line along the boards and trickled the puck between Ullmark’s leg pad and the right post to give the B’s a two-goal lead.
David Krejci (20) and Kampfer (2) had the assists on DeBrusk’s second power play goal of the game and the Bruins led, 3-1, at 2:55 of the third period.
Less than three minutes later, Curtis Lazar (2) pounced on a loose puck in the crease while on a delayed penalty call against Boston and tapped the rubber biscuit into the net after Rask made the initial save.
Ristolainen (15) and Jack Eichel (28) tallied the assists on Lazar’s goal and the Sabres trailed, 3-2, at 5:08.
Late in the third period, Ritchie tripped Rasmus Dahlin, but the Sabres weren’t able to capitalize on their last power play of the night at 15:51.
With 2:27 remaining in regulation, Buffalo’s head coach, Ralph Krueger, pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker and used his timeout to drum up a plan to tie the game.
Things didn’t go as planned as Reinhart broke Brandon Carlo’s stick with a slash at 19:43, which left a bad taste in the Sabres’ mouths– especially Eichel’s, apparently, as the Buffalo captain was ticked off and exchanging words with an official until he received a misconduct and was sent to the showers with 17 seconds to spare in the game.
At the final horn, the Bruins had won, 3-2, despite finishing the night trailing the Sabres in shots on goal, 26-22.
Boston wrapped up Sunday’s action with the advantage in blocked shots (13-10), hits (28-25) and faceoff win% (51-49).
Meanwhile, both teams had 10 giveaways aside as the Sabres finished 0/3 on the skater advantage and the B’s went 2/6 on the power play.
The Bruins improved to 17-5-5 when scoring the game’s first goal this season, 15-3-1 when leading after the first period and 6-2-3 when tied after two periods this season.
Boston finishes the month of December (and 2019) in New Jersey on Tuesday afternoon against the Devils before kicking off 2020 with a two-game homestand against Columbus on Thursday and Edmonton on Saturday.
Patrice Bergeron had a pair of goals, Brad Marchand had three assists and Jaroslav Halak had his 50th career shutout in the Boston Bruins’, 3-0, victory over the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center on Friday.
Bergeron, in the meantime, is the fifth player in Bruins history to score multiple goals in at least three straight games and the first since Cam Neely did so in the 1988-89 season (three games).
Halak (9-3-4 record, 2.22 goals against average, .928 save percentage in 16 games played) made 26 saves on 26 shots against for his 3rd shutout of the season in the win.
Sabres goaltender, Linus Ullmark (11-9-3, 2.79 GAA, .914 SV% in 23 games played) stopped 22 out of 24 shots faced (.917 SV%) in the loss.
Boston improved to 23-7-9 (55 points) and remained atop the Atlantic Division standings, while Buffalo fell to 17-15-7 (41 points) on the season, but remained in 5th place in the Atlantic.
The Bruins also improved to 10-6-1 on the road this season and have won back-to-back games.
The Bruins were without the services of Kevan Miller (knee), Karson Kuhlman (fractured tibia), Torey Krug (undisclosed) and Charlie McAvoy (undisclosed) on Friday.
B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, informed reporters ahead of the game on Friday that McAvoy is considered “day-to-day” and would likely practice on Saturday, then possibly return to the lineup on Sunday.
Krug, on the other hand, was placed on injured reserve in a move made by the organization prior to Cassidy’s updates on his injured defenders.
No. 47 in black and gold is out of the lineup through New Year’s Eve at a minimum (when Boston will be in New Jersey to face the Devils).
As a result, Steven Kampfer was recalled from the Providence Bruins (AHL) on an emergency basis. Kampfer had no points in four games with Boston prior to being assigned to Providence, where the 31-year-old veteran has four assists in six games this season.
With Zdeno Chara (infection) back in the lineup after missing Monday night’s, 7-3, win over the Washington Capitals, Kampfer slid in on the third defensive pairing with John Moore at the left side, while Matt Grzelcyk and Connor Clifton moved up to the second pairing.
Brandon Carlo was bumped up to the right side of the first defensive pairing with Chara at his left.
Chara returned to action after having minor surgery to take out the plates originally put in his jaw after sustaining a broken jaw in Game 4 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final in June.
Cassidy made one change to the lineup among his forwards– replacing Brett Ritchie on the fourth line with Chris Wagner.
As a result, Ritchie joined David Backes as the only healthy scratches for Boston against the Sabres in Buffalo.
David Pastrnak trailed behind Jack Eichel and hooked the Sabres captain at 6:38 of the first period, presenting Buffalo with the game’s first power play in the process.
The Sabres were not successful on their first skater advantage opportunity of the night and took a penalty of their own 59 seconds after their power play ended.
Buffalo forward, Evan Rodrigues, was charged with holding against Kampfer at 9:37 and the Bruins went on their first power play of the game as a result.
Boston did not capitalize on the ensuing skater advantage.
Late in the period, former Bruin, Marcus Johansson, was guilty of holding Charlie Coyle and assessed a minor penalty at 19:31.
This time around, the Bruins managed to convert on the skater advantage with a power play goal just seven seconds into the special teams play.
Bergeron (16) drew the puck back to the point off the faceoff, which then sent the rubber biscuit over to Marchand, then Pastrnak and finally back to Bergeron for the one-timer goal with Ullmark out of position and a mostly empty net behind the Buffalo netminder.
Pastrnak (27) and Marchand (36) notched the assists on Bergeron’s power play goal and the B’s led, 1-0, at 19:38 of the first period.
Entering the first intermission, Boston carried the, 1-0, lead into the dressing rooms despite trailing in shots on goal, 11-8.
Buffalo also held the advantage in takeaways (4-1) and giveaways (3-1), while the Bruins led in blocked shots (4-0) and hits (5-4) after one period of play.
Both teams were even in faceoff win percentage (50-50), while the Sabres were 0/1 on the power play and the Bruins were 1/2 entering the second period.
Late in the middle frame, Brandon Montour was charged with holding against Marchand at 14:41 of the second period, resulting in another power play for Boston.
Though the B’s did not score on their third skater advantage of the night, the Bruins did generate further momentum on their side in what was a dominant period for Boston.
Moments later, Boston’s “Perfection Line” went to work on a tic-toc-goal style play that led to Pastrnak stripping the puck from Sabres forward, Jimmy Vesey, and working it to Marchand, then over to Bergeron (17) for his second goal of the night and the, 2-0, lead at 18:26 of the second period.
Marchand (37) and Pastrnak (28) each picked up their second assists of the night as Bergeron tallied his 44th career two-goal game while crashing the net on a 2-on-1 with Marchand.
Through 40 minutes of action in Buffalo, the B’s led the Sabres, 2-0, on the scoreboard and, 20-16, in shots on goal– including a, 12-5, advantage in shots on net in the second period alone.
The Bruins also held the advantage in blocked shots (7-1), hits (9-6) and faceoff win% (57-43) after two periods, while Buffalo led in takeaways (6-2) and giveaways (8-4).
The Sabres were 0/1 on the skater advantage, while Boston was 1/3 on the power play heading into the final frame of regulation.
Early in the final frame, Clifton leveled Sam Reinhart with an open-ice hit near the boards that was perhaps a second late after Reinhart had released control of the puck.
As a result, Reinhart invited Clifton to square dance after the whistle and the two players dropped the gloves, exchanged punches and pleasantries, but only received matching roughing minors at 5:12 of the third period.
About a couple of minutes later, Ullmark tripped Clifton as the Bruins defender drove to the net with speed and tried to wrap the puck around the Buffalo goaltender in the slot.
Kyle Okposo served Ullmark’s tripping minor at 7:59 and Boston went on the power play.
Boston’s skater advantage was short lived, however, as Danton Heinen was bumped into the Sabres goaltender, who promptly fell to the ice and yielded a goaltender interference infraction as a result.
Heinen cut a rut to the box at 8:49, leaving a short span of 4-on-4 action before Buffalo had an abbreviated power play.
The Sabres were unsuccessful on the advantage and the Bruins remained in control of the game.
With about three minutes remaining in the game, Buffalo’s head coach, Ralph Krueger, pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker, but his intentions did not bode well.
Marchand worked the puck from the boards in Boston’s own zone over to Coyle, who skated the puck into the neutral zone and setup Carlo (4) for a breakaway that led to his second goal in four games as Carlo buried the puck into the open twine.
Coyle (13) and Marchand (38) were credited with the assists on Carlo’s empty net goal as the Bruins sealed the deal on a, 3-0, win at 18:06 of the third period.
At the final horn, Halak and his teammates had shutout the Sabres, 3-0, despite finishing the night trailing in shots on goal, 26-25.
Buffalo managed to have a, 10-5, advantage in shots on net in the third period alone and finished Friday’s effort leading in giveaways, 11-7, but Boston’s effort was too much for the Sabres.
The Bruins left KeyBank Center with the victory and the advantage in blocked shots (15-4), hits (16-10) and faceoff win% (57-43).
The Sabres went 0/2 on the power play, while the B’s went 1/4.
Boston improved to 16-5-5 when scoring first, 14-3-1 when leading after the first period and 13-0-3 when leading after two periods this season.
The Bruins return home for the second part of their home-and-home with the Sabres on Sunday (Dec. 29th) before wrapping up the month of December (and 2019 as a whole) in New Jersey on New Year’s Eve for a matinee matchup with the Devils.