Categories
NHL Nick's Net

DeBrusk aims high in Boston’s, 5-4, shootout win over Flyers

Jake DeBrusk dragged his foot before letting go of a chip shot over Carter Hart to give the Boston Bruins a, 5-4, shootout victory Thursday night at TD Garden.

It was Boston’s home opener and second shootout win of the season– just their second shootout win since beating the Vegas Golden Knights, 3-2, in a shootout victory on the road on Feb. 20, 2019, as the club went 0-7 last season in shootouts.

Tuukka Rask (2-1-0, 2.23 goals against average, .892 save percentage in three games played) made 22 saves on 26 shots against for an .846 SV% in the shootout win.

Hart (2-1-1, 3.66 GAA, .902 SV% in four games played) stopped 39 out of 43 shots faced for a .907 SV% in the shootout loss for Philadelphia.

The Bruins improved to 2-1-1 (five points) on the season and jumped from 6th in the MassMutual NHL East Division to 5th place, while the Flyers fell to 3-1-1 (seven points) on the season and remained in command of the MassMutual NHL East Division.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made no changes to his lineup from Monday’s, 1-0, loss to the Islanders in New York.

As such, Greg McKegg, Par Lindholm, John Moore, Urho Vaakanainen, Connor Clifton, Dan Vladar and Karson Kuhlman remained out of the lineup as taxi squad and healthy scratches.

David Pastrnak missed his fourth game since undergoing a right hip arthroscopy and labral repair on Sept. 16th, while Ondrej Kase missed his second game of the season due to an upper body injury sustained in New Jersey on Jan. 16th.

Early in the opening frame, Claude Giroux tripped DeBrusk and presented Boston with the first power play of the night at 3:42 of the first period.

The Bruins did not convert on the resulting skater advantage, however.

A few minutes later, Sean Kuraly was penalized for holding Mark Friedman at 6:57, yielding the Flyers their first power play of the game.

Philadelphia was also unsuccessful on their first skater advantage of the night.

Late in the period, Nicolas Aube-Kubel slashed B’s defender, Kevan Miller, and cut a rut to the penalty box as a result at 18:13.

Boston couldn’t muster anything on the power play as time winded down, expired and signaled the start of the first intermission.

After 20 minutes of action, the game remained tied, 0-0, though the Bruins outshot the Flyers, 14-3.

The B’s also had the advantage in blocked shots (4-3), takeaways (5-4) and faceoff win percentage (77-24), while the Flyers led in giveaways (4-1).

Both teams had eight hits aside.

Philadelphia was 0/1 and Boston was 0/2 on the power play entering the dressing room for the first intermission.

David Krejci caught Nolan Patrick with a high stick and cut a rut to the sin bin at 4:45 of the second period.

Late in the ensuing power play Giroux (1) fired a snap shot from the faceoff circle over Rask’s blocker on the short side while Patrick screened the Bruins goaltender to give the Flyers the first lead of the night.

Ivan Provorov (1) had the only assist on Giroux’s power-play goal as Philadelphia took a, 1-0, lead at 6:17 of the second period.

It was the first goal allowed by Boston’s penalty kill this season, ending their run of 14 consecutive successfully killed infractions.

Miller was assessed a minor for holding six seconds after Philadelphia scored the game’s first goal. With Miller in the box at 6:23, the Bruins went back on the penalty kill.

This time the Flyers weren’t able to capitalize on the skater advantage.

Midway through the period, Friedman initiated a wrestling match with Brad Marchand in the open ice of the neutral zone before falling awkwardly, bleeding and exiting the game.

No penalty was called as a result of a usual event when two players get near each other while going for a line change without realizing they were charted on a collision course that ultimately went wrong.

Though Friedman did not return to the game, Flyers head coach, Alain Vigneault, noted that he was held out as a precaution and should be fine.

Anders Bjork hooked Jakub Voracek at 15:24 of the second period and was assessed a minor penalty.

In the vulnerable minute after special teams action, the Flyers caught the Bruins behind the play as Voracek sent a pass to James van Riemsdyk (2) that was promptly redirected from its sloppy off-speed original path to one that guided the puck to the back of the net from point blank.

Voracek (3) and Kevin Hayes (4) tallied the assists as Philadelphia jumped out to a two-goal lead, 2-0, at 17:31.

Through two periods of action, the Flyers led, 2-0, despite trailing the B’s in shots on goal, 18-11.

Philadelphia held the advantage in shots on goal in the second period alone, 8-4, while both teams had eight blocked shots and six takeaways each.

The Flyers led in giveaways (5-4), while Boston led in hits (17-15) and faceoff win% (62-38).

Philly was 1/4 and Boston was 0/2 on the power play heading into the second intermission.

Less than a minute into the final frame of regulation, Jack Studnicka (1) redirected a pass from Krejci off of Hart’s leg pad before gathering his own rebound and pocketing it in the twine while crashing the net.

Krejci (2) and Nick Ritchie (1) notched the assists on Studnicka’s first career NHL goal 57 seconds into the third period and the Bruins cut Philadelphia’s lead in half, 2-1.

It was also the first goal at 5-on-5 for Boston this season.

A mere 69 seconds later, Charlie Coyle (1) spun and fired home a rebound from inside the faceoff dot to the right of the Flyers netminder– tying the game, 2-2, in the process.

Craig Smith (1) recorded his first point as a Bruin with the primary assist, while Miller (1) tallied his first point in almost two years with the secondary helper on Coyle’s goal at 2:06 of the third period.

The game didn’t remain even for long as Voracek fired an intentional shot off of Travis Sanheim’s (1) skate past Rask to give Philly the lead once again, 3-2, at 7:13.

Voracek (4) and Patrick (3) had the assists on Sanheim’s goal.

Moments later, Scott Laughton cross checked Jakub Zboril at 13:04 of the third period and presented Boston with another power play opportunity.

It didn’t take long for Patrice Bergeron to find Ritchie (2) wide open in the low slot, banking a shot off of Hart’s glove and into the open net behind the Flyers goaltender.

Bergeron (2) and Krejci (3) had the assists on Ritchie’s power-play goal as the Bruins pulled even, 3-3, at 13:22.

Less than two minutes later, Brandon Carlo (1) rocketed a slap shot from the point under the crossbar to give Boston their first lead of the night, 4-3, at 15:18 of the third period.

Matt Grzelcyk (2) and Marchand (3) notched the assists on Carlo’s goal, but despite taking their first lead of the night, the B’s didn’t hold onto it for long.

Kuraly delivered a cross check on Giroux and was assessed a penalty at 15:24.

van Riemsdyk (3) went unchecked by Charlie McAvoy and Carlo before connecting on a power-play goal from in front of the net to tie the game, 4-4.

Voracek (5) and Hayes (5) each picked up another assist while the Flyers knotted the game up with another power-play goal at 16:28.

Boston led for all of 70 seconds in regulation.

With 20.4 seconds left in the third period, Vigneault used his timeout, but the Flyers weren’t successful in the execution of whatever plan they drew up to win the game in the dying seconds.

Overtime was necessary for the third time this season for the Bruins and for the first time for the Flyers.

After 60 minutes, with Boston leading in shots on goal, 40-21, including a, 22-10, advantage in the third period alone, the game remained tied, 4-4.

Philadelphia led in blocked shots (13-8), takeaways (9-7) and giveaways (8-5), while the Bruins held the advantage in hits (24-19) and faceoff win% (61-39) going into overtime.

As no penalties were called in the extra frame, the Flyers finished Thursday night 2/5 on the power play, while the Bruins went 1/3 on the skater advantage.

Vigneault started Giroux, Laughton and Provorov in overtime, while Cassidy countered with Bergeron, Marchand and McAvoy.

In the end, Boston mustered just three shots on goal in the five minutes of 3-on-3 action, while Rask stood tall– denying Hayes on a one-timer with an aerial leg pad save.

After overtime, the score remained, 4-4, while Boston finished the night leading in shots on goal, 43-26, despite trailing, 5-3, in shots in OT.

Philadelphia finished the night leading in blocked shots (15-9) and giveaways (8-5), while the Bruins wrapped up Thursday’s action leading in hits (24-21) and faceoff win% (63-37).

A shootout was necessary to determine a winner and Cassidy opted for his team to shoot first.

He sent out Smith to get things going for Boston, but Smith’s shot was stopped by Hart as he tried to sneak one in through the five-hole.

Voracek was Vigneault’s first round response, but despite his off-speed approach, Rask stoned him cold with a pad save on Voracek’s backhand shot.

Coyle kicked things off in round two of the shootout with a shot wide on Hart’s glove side.

Travis Konecny answered back with a shot that grazed Rask’s glove and also went wide.

Finally, DeBrusk hit the back of the net with a chip shot over Hart’s blocker side after a nifty toe-drag approach to give the Bruins a, 1-0, advantage in the shootout.

All that was left was for Rask to make a save and Boston would win.

Vigneault sent out Giroux.

Giroux waltzed his way into the attacking zone for his attempt, feigned a slap shot, slowed up and went for Rask’s glove side, but the Bruins goaltender denied him with a save.

Boston emerged victorious with the, 5-4, shootout win.

The B’s improved to 2-0 in shootouts this season and 2-1 past regulation overall, while the Flyers fell to 0-1 in both categories.

Boston also improved to 1-1-0 when tied after the first period, 1-0-0 when trailing after two periods and 1-1-1 when allowing the game’s first goal this season.

The Bruins began their four-game homestand with a, 5-4, shootout victory against Philadelphia on Thursday and will host the Flyers again on Saturday before hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins on Jan. 26th and Jan. 28th.

Categories
Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #216- Participation Trophies After One Game/One Week (Part V)

The 2020-21 season is underway and it’s already been a week, so let’s bring back our 5th Annual Participation Trophies After One Game awards ceremony!

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsStitcher and/or on Spotify.

Categories
NHL Nick's Net

Varlamov, Islanders shutout Bruins, 1-0

Semyon Varlamov earned his league-leading 2nd shutout this season in as many games as the New York Islanders beat the Boston Bruins, 1-0, Monday night at Nassau Live at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Varlamov (2-0-0, 0.00 goals against average, 1.000 save percentage in two games played) made 27 saves en route to the shutout win for New York.

Boston goaltender, Tuukka Rask (1-1-0, 1.46 GAA, .923 SV% in two games played) stopped 16 out of 17 shots faced for a .941 SV% in the loss.

The Bruins fell to 1-1-1 (three points) on the season and dropped to a tie for 4th place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while the Islanders improved to 2-1-0 on the season (four points) and moved up to a tie for 2nd place with the Philadelphia Flyers– at least temporarily, as the Flyers were in action Monday night.

Boston also fell to 18-3-1 in their last 22 games against New York in the regular season.

Prior to puck drop, the Islanders aired a National Hockey League produced video on the Jumbotron celebrating the 63rd anniversary of when Willie O’Ree broke the league’s color barrier on Jan. 18, 1958, with the Bruins.

All 31 teams have been sporting O’Ree decals on their helmets with the words “Celebrating Equality” emblazoned on a profile of O’Ree wearing his famous fedora for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day weekend.

O’Ree will have his No. 22 retired by Boston ahead of their matchup with the New Jersey Devils on Feb. 18th this season. They will honor him again as soon as possible whenever fans will be allowed at TD Garden.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made a few changes to his lineup with Ondrej Kase (upper body) out against the Islanders on Monday.

Patrice Bergeron centered the first line with Brad Marchand in his usual spot on the left wing, while Jake DeBrusk was moved up to the first line right wing.

Nick Ritchie took DeBrusk’s usual spot on the second line left wing with David Krejci at center and Jack Studnicka on the right wing.

Charlie Coyle centered the third line with Anders Bjork to his left and Craig Smith to his right, while the fourth line remained untouched.

On defense, Jeremy Lauzon and Charlie McAvoy remained paired, while Matt Grzelcyk was partnered with Brandon Carlo and Jakub Zboril had Kevan Miller by his side.

Monday night marked 300 career NHL games for Carlo and 200 career NHL games for Grzelcyk. Both defenders have spent their entire careers with Boston thus far.

Kase missed his first game this season due to injury after taking a stick up high in Saturday afternoon’s, 2-1, overtime loss in New Jersey, while David Pastrnak missed his third straight game and is yet to make his season debut after offseason hip surgery.

Pastrnak remains ahead of schedule, however, and is likely to return before his original prognosis of Feb. 16th.

Greg McKegg, Par Lindholm, John Moore, Urho Vaakanainen, Connor Clifton and Dan Vladar were in the press box as healthy scratches and taxi squad members Monday night.

Almost midway through the opening frame, Carlo cross checked Matt Martin and presented the first power play of the evening to the Islanders at 7:25 of the first period.

New York wasn’t able to convert on the ensuing skater advantage, however.

Late in the period, Isles forward, Casey Cizikas, knocked down Coyle without the puck and earned a trip to the penalty box for interference at 16:40.

Boston was not able to score on the resulting power play.

Entering the first intermission, the game remained tied, 0-0, while the Bruins were leading in shots on goal, 11-3.

New York held the advantage in blocked shots (7-3), takeaways (3-1) and hits (9-6), while both teams had three giveaways each, were 50-50 in faceoff win percentage and 0/1 on the power play after 20 minutes on Monday.

Adam Pelech was guilty of holding Marchand 53 seconds into the second period and presented the Bruins with their second power play opportunity of the night.

Boston’s skater advantage was cut short, however, as Ritchie slashed Scott Mayfield and earned a trip to the sin bin at 1:43 of the middle frame.

New York earned a short power play after an abbreviated 4-on-4 sequence, but the Isles still weren’t able to score on the power play.

The Islanders lost count at one point and had too many skaters on the ice, resulting in a bench minor that was served by Jordan Eberle at 6:53.

Boston’s power play was powerless and New York got by unscathed.

Late in the period, Smith clipped Varlamov in the skate with his stick, which Varlamov embellished for dramatic affect, but was goaltender interference nonetheless.

The Islanders went back on the power play with Smith in the box for goaltender interference at 15:45, but Boston’s penalty kill held their ground.

Through 40 minutes of action on Monday, the game was still tied, 0-0, despite the Bruins outshooting the Islanders, 17-10.

New York, however, actually led in shots on goal in the second period alone, 7-6, as well as in blocked shots (11-10), takeaways (7-1), giveaways (8-4), hits (20-15) and faceoff win% (60-40) heading into the second intermission.

Both teams were 0/3 on the power play prior to the final frame of regulation.

Marchand cross-checked Eberle to kick things off with a trip to the penalty box at 1:17 of the third period.

Once again, though, Boston’s penalty kill did not concede to New York’s power play.

Moments later, Eberle tripped Grzelcyk while the two players were tied up– causing Grzelcyk to fall awkwardly to the ice and leave the game with an upper body injury (he was favoring his left arm, for the record).

Trent Frederic served Grzelcyk’s interference infraction, while Eberle was assessed a tripping minor at 5:43, resulting in 4-on-4 action for a pair of minutes early in the period.

Late in the period, Jean-Gabriel Pageau (1) hit a home run on a puck that was floating in mid-air as Pelech fired a shot that deflected off of Bergeron’s stick before Pageau whacked it into the twine above Rask’s blocker side.

Pelech (1) and Ryan Pulock (1) tallied the assists on the game’s first and only goal at 15:51 of the third period.

The Islanders took the, 1-0, lead and that was enough for the final result on Monday.

Less than a minute later, McAvoy was called for holding against Anthony Beauvillier at 16:07, but once again New York’s power play was powerless.

With 1:35 remaining in the game, Rask vacated his net for an extra attacker.

The Bruins used their timeout after a stoppage with 51.4 seconds left in the action, but it was to no avail.

At the final horn, the Islanders had won, 1-0, and Varlamov recorded the shutout.

Boston finished the night leading in shots on goal, 27-17, including a, 10-7, advantage in the third period alone, while New York wrapped up Monday night’s action leading in blocked shots (17-12), hits (31-26) and faceoff win% (51-49).

The Bruins held the final advantage in giveaways (10-9) on Monday.

The Islanders finished the game 0/5 on the skater advantage, while the B’s went 0/3 on the power play.

The Bruins finished their three-game road trip 1-1-1 to start the 2020-21 56-game regular season.

Boston returns home to face the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday and Saturday for their first two home games of the season at TD Garden. The B’s then host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Jan. 26th and 28th before hitting the road again.

For the first time since Nov. 2, 2013, the Islanders beat the Bruins on home ice. New York beat Boston, 3-1, that day.

Categories
NHL Nick's Net

Sharangovich’s 1st lifts Devils over Bruins in overtime, 2-1

You always remember your first time and Yegor Sharangovich will certainly always remember his first career National Hockey League goal, since he scored it with about two seconds left in overtime on Saturday to give the New Jersey Devils a, 2-1, victory over the Boston Bruins at Prudential Center.

New Jersey goaltender, Mackenzie Blackwood (1-0-1, 1.85 goals against average, .954 save percentage in two games played), made 27 saves on 28 shots against for a .964 SV% in the overtime win.

Bruins netminder, Jaroslav Halak (0-0-1, 1.85 GAA, .954 SV% in one game played) stopped 29 out of 31 shots faced for a .935 SV% in the loss.

Boston fell to 1-0-1 (three points) on the season and remains tied for 3rd place in the MassMutual NHL East Division with New Jersey– now 1-0-1 on the season (also three points).

The Bruins dropped to 14-6-4 all time in 24 games at Prudential Center, outscoring the Devils, 69-48, in that span.

Bruce Cassidy made a few lineup changes as Craig Smith made his Bruins debut after missing the season opener on Thursday night in New Jersey due to a lower body injury.

Smith was placed in his expected role on the third line right wing with Nick Ritchie and Charlie Coyle, while Anders Bjork was moved up to the first line right wing with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron.

As a result, Jack Studnicka was a healthy scratch on Saturday afternoon.

No other lineup changes were made, leaving Studnicka in the press box with Greg McKegg, Par Lindholm, John Moore, Urho Vaakanainen, Connor Clifton, Dan Vladar and David Pastrnak (hip).

Kevan Miller and Miles Wood exchanged fisticuffs just 19 seconds into the action on Saturday afternoon as Wood was expected to respond for running into Bruins goaltender, Tuukka Rask, twice on Thursday night.

Cassidy made it clear to his team that he didn’t want to see opponents start a trend of getting friendly with his goaltender, so Miller was compelled to exchange pleasantries with the Devils forward.

Both players received fighting majors– the first fight of the season for Boston and the first fight for Miller since Jan. 29, 2019, when No. 86 in black and gold fought Winnipeg Jets center, Adam Lowry.

About five minutes later, Charlie McAvoy tripped up Jack Hughes and was assessed a minor penalty at 5:45 of the first period, yielding the first power play of the game to New Jersey.

The Devils were not able to convert on their first skater advantage of the afternoon.

Moments later, Matt Tennyson was called for holding against Coyle at 9:02 and presented the Bruins with their first power play of the game.

Boston’s power play spent more time chasing the puck outside of their attacking zone than they did at setting up anything on the ensuing power play.

Late in the opening frame, Ty Smith fired a shot from the point that Wood (2) tipped while screening Halak in the slot to give the Devils the, 1-0, lead.

Smith (1) and Hughes (3) tallied the assists on Wood’s goal at 16:15.

With the primary assist, Smith became the fourth defender in New Jersey’s franchise history to record a point in each of his first two career games, joining Viacheslav Fetisov (1989-90), Les Auge (1980-81) and Barry Beck (1977-78) in the process.

About a minute later, Sean Kuraly and Kyle Palmieri exchanged slashes and receiving minor penalties, resulting in 4-on-4 action for a pair of minutes at 17:34.

Entering the first intermission, the Devils led, 1-0, on the scoreboard and, 8-7, in shots on goal.

New Jersey held the advantage in blocked shots (5-1), takeaways (3-2), giveaways (4-3) and hits (10-3), while Boston led in faceoff win percentage (65-35) after 20 minutes of action Saturday afternoon.

Both teams were 0/1 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

Matt Grzelcyk fired a shot that Ritchie redirected past Blackwood, but the would-be goal was immediately waved off due to incidental contact with the New Jersey goaltender.

Smith appeared to bump into Blackwood, despite Boston’s protest as Cassidy used a coach’s challenge on the grounds that he thought his player was pushed by a Devils defender into Blackwood.

Nevertheless, the call on the ice stood. The Bruins hadn’t scored and were instead assessed a bench minor for delay of game.

Jake DeBrusk served the infraction against Boston at 16:01 of the second period, but New Jersey wasn’t able to score on the ensuing power play.

Instead, the Bruins worked a little magic while shorthanded.

Marchand worked his way around Palmieri and into the attacking zone before setting up Bergeron (1) for his 18th career shorthanded goal.

Marchand (2) had the only assist on Bergeron’s snap shot goal as the B’s tied the game, 1-1, at 17:16 of the second period.

At some point in the middle frame, Ondrej Kase took a stick up high from Wood in a corner battle and did not return to the action.

Entering the second intermission, the score was tied, 1-1, despite the Bruins outshooting the Devils, 20-16, including a, 13-8, advantage in the second period alone.

New Jersey led in blocked shots (5-4), takeaways (5-3), giveaways (9-5) and hits (17-11), while Boston led in faceoff win% (64-36).

The Devils were 0/2 and the Bruins were 0/1 on the power play after 40 minutes of action.

Less than a minute into the final frame of regulation, P.K. Subban held and wrestled Trent Frederic to the ground resulting in a minor infraction for holding 28 seconds into the third period.

Boston did not convert on the resulting skater advantage, however.

Late in the period, Grzelcyk hooked Janne Kuokkanen and cut a rut to the penalty box at 18:36. The Devils used their timeout to draw up a game-winning plan on the power play, but it was to no avail.

New Jersey couldn’t score before the horn, which meant they would have a 4-on-3 skater advantage to begin what would usually be five minutes of sudden death 3-on-3 overtime.

After 60 minutes of gameplay, the score remained tied, 1-1, with the Devils outshooting the Bruins, 27-25, including an, 11-5, advantage in the third period alone for New Jersey.

The Bruins had taken control of blocked shots (9-7), but the Devils still held the advantage in takeaways (6-5), giveaways (13-5) and hits (23-14).

Boston continued to dominate faceoff win% (64-36), however.

As no penalties were called in overtime, New Jersey finished the afternoon 0/3 on the power play, while the B’s went 0/2 on the skater advantage.

Cassidy rolled out Bergeron, McAvoy and Miller to start overtime while on the penalty kill.

Devils head coach, Lindy Ruff, started Hughes, Palmieri, Damon Severson and Subban.

Neither team could score until Sharangovich (1) ended it in the dying seconds after the Devils forced a turnover in the attacking zone and Sharangovich broke free from Coyle and Grzelcyk while the two Bruins were rushing back to defend.

Sharangovich slid the puck through Halak’s gaping five-hole and won the game at 4:58 of the overtime period.

Severson (1) and Palmieri (1) had the assists on Sharangovich’s first career NHL goal as the 22-year-old forward continued an impressive start to a decent 2020-21 season in professional hockey.

He had 17-8–25 totals in 34 games with Dinamo Minsk (KHL) prior to quarantining for the NHL’s 56-game season with New Jersey.

The Devils finished the afternoon with the, 2-1, overtime victory while leading in shots on goal, 31-28, including a, 4-3, advantage in the extra frame alone.

New Jersey wrapped up Saturday’s action with the advantage in giveaways (13-6) and hits (23-15), while Boston left town with the advantage in blocked shots (10-7) and faceoff win% (65-35).

The Devils improved to 1-0 in overtime this season as the B’s fell to 1-0 in OT.

Both teams are now 1-1 past regulation this season.

Boston is now 0-0-1 when trailing after the first period, 0-0-1 when tied after the second period and 0-0-1 when allowing the game’s first goal this season.

The Bruins wrap up their three-game road trip (1-0-1) to start the 2020-21 season at Nassau Coliseum on Monday against the New York Islanders. Boston returns home to face the Philadelphia Flyers on Jan. 21st for their first home game of the season at TD Garden.

There will be no fans in attendance in Boston for the foreseeable future as COVID-19 restrictions remain in place in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Categories
NHL Nick's Net

Marchand helps Bruins beat Devils, 3-2, in shootout victory

The Boston Bruins kicked off the 2020-21 regular season with a, 3-2, shootout win against New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Thursday night.

Tuukka Rask (1-0-0, 1.85 goals against average, .909 save percentage in one game played, one start) made 20 saves on 22 shots faced in the shootout win for the Bruins.

Mackenzie Blackwood (0-0-1, 1.85 goals against average, .946 save percentage in one game played, one start) turned aside 35 out of 37 shots against in the shootout loss for the Devils.

Boston improved to 1-0-0 (two points) on the season, while New Jersey fell to 0-0-1 (one point) on the season.

B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, improved to 162-66-34 in 262 games with Boston.

Devils head coach, Lindy Ruff, kicked off his new gig with a shootout loss as both teams will face each other seven more times this season in the temporarily realigned MassMutual NHL East Division for the 2020-21 season.

For the first time in franchise history (97 seasons), the Bruins will not face the Montreal Canadiens at all in the regular season due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and resulting temporary division realignment with the United States’ border with Canada currently closed.

Prior to Thursday night’s action in New Jersey, Patrice Bergeron was named the 20th captain in franchise history on Jan. 6th, replacing Zdeno Chara, who served as the club’s captain from 2006-20, before departing for the Washington Capitals in free agency on Dec. 30, 2020.

David Krejci and Brad Marchand will serve as alternate captains for Boston this season.

Krejci has been an alternate captain since the 2013-14 season, while Marchand has worn an “A” on his jersey off-and-on since the 2018-19 season.

As a result of the ongoing global pandemic, teams are allowed to carry extra players on a “taxi squad” that will not count against their daily salary cap limit.

The Bruins have not announced who they will utilize on their “taxi squad” this season, but Trent Frederic, Urho Vaakanainen, Jack Studnicka, Dan Vladar and Greg McKegg all made the trip to New Jersey with the team.

David Pastrnak (hip surgery in the offseason) was out of the lineup against the Devils Thursday night, but is expected to return to play ahead of schedule since his original prognosis when he underwent a right hip arthroscopy and labral repair on Sept. 16th.

Craig Smith (lower body injury) missed Thursday night’s action and is yet to make his B’s debut since signing a three-year contract worth $3.100 million per season on Oct. 10th.

Cassidy made a few adjustments to his lines as a result of the injuries and free agency departures in the offseason.

The first line consisted of Marchand at left wing, Bergeron at center and Studnicka on right wing.

Rounding out the top-six forwards on the second line were Ondrej Kase, David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk.

Charlie Coyle centered the third line with Nick Ritchie at his left side and Anders Bjork on his right side, while Sean Kuraly centered the fourth line with Frederic and Chris Wagner as his wings.

On defense, Cassidy started Matt Grzelcyk and Kevan Miller– honoring Miller in his first game back in 651 days since multiple knee injuries dating back to April 2019.

Jeremy Lauzon was paired with Charlie McAvoy and Jakub Zboril was partnered with Brandon Carlo.

Karson Kuhlman remains in COVID protocol, while Par Lindholm, John Moore and Connor Clifton were healthy scratches. Smith and Pastrnak were out of the lineup due to their injuries.

Early in the opening frame, Jesper Boqvist slashed Frederic and presented the Bruins with their first power play opportunity of the night at 6:14 of the first period.

Boston’s skater advantage didn’t last long as Grzelcyk caught Yegor Sharangovich with a slash at 7:16.

After an abbreviated period of 4-on-4 action followed by a short New Jersey power play, neither team could muster anything on the scoresheet.

McAvoy laid out Sharangovich with a crushing hit at 13:19, but was too far from the puck and assessed a minor infraction for interference.

The Devils were not successful on the ensuing power play, however.

Late in the first frame, Miles Wood collided with Rask and cut a rut to the box with a goaltender interference infraction at 17:02.

Boston didn’t waste much time getting to work on the resulting power play as Marchand (1) one-timed a redirection past Blackwood from just outside the crease to give the Bruins the first lead of the night, 1-0.

Krejci (1) and Bergeron (1) notched the assists on Marchand’s power-play goal at 17:40 of the first period.

Entering the first intermission, the Bruins were dominating in possession, on the scoreboard, 1-0, and in shots on goal, 16-4.

The B’s also held the advantage in faceoff win percentage, 67-33.

New Jersey, meanwhile, led in blocked shots (7-3), giveaways (8-2) and hits (12-5), while both teams had one takeaway each in the first 20 minutes of game action.

The Devils were 0/2 and the Bruins were 1/2 on the power play entering the middle frame.

Kuraly tripped Sharangovich at 2:41 of the second period and presented New Jersey with an early skater advantage in the period, but Boston’s penalty kill remained strong.

McAvoy was guilty of hooking Janne Kuokkanen at 7:56, but once again New Jersey’s power play couldn’t score.

Midway through the game, the Devils committed a bench minor for too many skaters on the ice at 10:53.

Newcomer, Andreas Johnsson, (acquired in the offseason via a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs) served the penalty while Boston’s power play went powerless.

Through 40 minutes of play on Thursday, the Bruins held onto the, 1-0, lead and led in shots on goal, 26-11– including a, 10-7, advantage in the second period alone.

New Jersey led in blocked shots (10-6), takeaways (6-2), giveaways (16-4) and hits (20-8), while Boston led in faceoff win% (63-37) after two periods.

The Devils were 0/4 on the power play, while the B’s were 1/3 entering the dressing room for the second intermission.

Kuokkanen was penalized for holding Kuraly and yielded another power play to Boston at 6:18 of the third period.

Shortly after killing off the infraction, Wood (1) broke free from the Bruins’ defense and snapped a shot over Rask’s blocker side to tie the game, 1-1, at 8:51 of the final frame of regulation.

Jack Hughes (1) had the only assist on Wood’s goal.

Moments later, Krejci hooked Travis Zajac and was sent to the sin bin at 10:14, but New Jersey’s power play didn’t last long as Wood ran into Rask again and picked up another goaltender interference infraction at 11:13.

The two clubs had about a minute of 4-on-4 action before an abbreviated power play followed for the Bruins.

Ritchie (1) scored a close range goal similar to Marchand’s to put the B’s back on top, 2-1, with a power-play goal of his own.

Marchand (1) and Grzelcyk (1) tallied the assists on Ritchie’s goal at 13:12, but Boston didn’t hold the lead for long as they surrendered a wacky goal 34 seconds later.

Ty Smith (1) scored his first career National Hockey League goal as the last Devils player to touch the puck before it bounced off of McAvoy, then Lauzon, Lauzon’s stick, McAvoy again and finally floated over Rask and into the twine.

The fluke goal tied the game, 2-2, and was assisted by Matt Tennyson (1) and Hughes (2) at 13:46 of the third period.

At the end of regulation, the score remained even, despite Boston outshooting the Devils, 35-18.

The Bruins had a, 9-7, advantage in shots on goal in the third period alone, while New Jersey led in blocked shots (13-6), takeaways (11-3), giveaways (19-6) and hits (26-13) after regulation.

Boston led in faceoff win%, 58-42, entering overtime.

As no penalties were called in the extra frame, the Bruins finished the night 2/5 on the power play, while the Devils went 0/5 on the skater advantage.

The two teams swapped chances in overtime– including a couple of heart-stopping moments where the Devils nearly completed the comeback, but neither side could seal the deal on an overtime win.

Despite Cassidy’s best efforts starting Coyle, DeBrusk and McAvoy in overtime, as well as Ruff’s lineup of Hughes, Kyle Palmieri and P.K. Subban in 3-on-3 OT, a shootout was necessary.

The Bruins finished the night leading in shots on goal, 37-22, despite being outshot, 4-2, in overtime alone.

New Jersey finished Thursday’s effort leading in blocked shots (14-7), giveaways (19-6) and hits (26-13), while the Bruins settled for the final advantage in faceoff win% (57-43).

The Devils elected to shoot first in the shootout and sent Nikita Gusev out to get the job in round one, but Rask stoned him cold as Gusev attempted to go five-hole on the veteran netminder.

Coyle was denied by Blackwood with a pad save as the Bruins forward tried to pull the New Jersey goaltender out of position.

Boqvist was stopped by Rask in a routine save while Kase couldn’t sneak one past Blackwood’s blocker side in the second round of the shootout.

After Hughes lost the puck while attempting to dangle his way into the low slot, Cassidy sent Marchand to try to get the win for Boston.

Marchand came through for his coach and the rest of the Bruins with an off-tempo shot through Blackwood’s five-hole after getting the New Jersey goaltender to commit to his fake handiwork before taking the shot.

The Bruins won the shootout, 1-0, after three rounds and clinched the, 3-2, shootout victory over the Devils to start the 2020-21 season.

It was Boston’s first shootout win since Feb. 20, 2019, when the B’s downed the Vegas Golden Knights on the road in what was also a, 3-2, shootout victory.

With the win, the Bruins improved to 1-0-0 when leading after the first period, 1-0-0 when leading after the second period, 1-0-0 when scoring the game’s first goal and 1-0 in shootouts (1-0 past regulation) this season.

Boston continues their three-game road trip on Saturday afternoon with a rematch against the Devils in New Jersey at 1 p.m. ET before heading to Nassau Coliseum on Monday (Jan. 18th) for a game with the New York Islanders.

The Bruins return to Boston for their home opener at TD Garden on Jan. 21st against the Philadelphia Flyers.

There will be no fans in attendance in Boston due to COVID-19 restrictions in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Categories
Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #215- Willie!/2020-21 Season Preview: East Division

The Boston Bruins have finally decided to retire Willie O’Ree’s No. 22 on Feb. 18th. A bunch of signings, waiver transactions and retirements were announced in the last week. Patrice Bergeron is now captain of the Bruins and we preview the East Division for the 2020-21 season.

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsStitcher and/or on Spotify.

Categories
NHL Nick's Net Numbers Game

Numbers Game: 2020-21 Season Standings Projections

As the calendar flipped from 2020 to 2021 at midnight while New Year’s Eve turned into New Year’s Day, the ongoing global pandemic continued without a second thought despite the world’s optimism for the New Year and, thus, shifted the 2020-21 National Hockey League season into an abbreviated 56-game schedule from Jan. 13th through the first week of May.

Usually, it’d be fine to present divisional projections in accordance with a normal 82-game expected points total formula, but the aforementioned 56-game season schedule would render those numbers inaccurate from the beginning.

82 games is 26 games too many this season.

It would be fine to run a “what if the 2020-21 season were a regular-length season?” piece, but it’s more fun to tackle a challenge when everything’s made up and the points don’t matter.

Seriously, don’t look into this too much unless you’re an employee of a team looking to hire someone right now, in which case please ignore the “C” I had in Intro to Stats in college.

Anyway, I’ve taken the liberties of calculating what an 82-game 2020-21 season would’ve looked like, then based the projections for what the 56-game 2020-21 season could look like using this little thing called “pace”.

That’s right. Points pace.

You know, like “if a team earned two points with a win in their first game in an 82-game season, they’d be on a 164-point pace for the season”.

In actuality, the team could go 3-6-1 over their first ten games, yielding seven points on the season through that span and being on a 57.4-point pace over the course of an 82-game season.

If this is too much math you can just tell me to shut up and get to the graphs.

For the sake of keeping it simple, here’s a look at how things might go in each division for the upcoming 2020-21 season.

Starting with the NHL’s all-Canadian North Division for the 2020-21 regular season, there’s a few things that jump out immediately as a result of the current projections.

Did realignment have any impact on what the projections look like?

No. For the record, this season’s temporary realignment had no impact on any of the divisions other than how they’re organized.

Instead of seeing the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators in the Atlantic Division, the Winnipeg Jets in the Central Division and the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks in the Pacific Division– they’re all just in the same division.

The expected points total is calculated by first adding marginal goals for and marginal goals against, then multiplying that result by league points per goal.

Divide the number of points expected based on the formula’s derived for what an 82-game season in 2020-21 would’ve looked like by 82 games, then multiply that result by 56 (the number of games in actuality for 2020-21) and you get… …the same exact results you would’ve had for each team if the divisions hadn’t been realigned.

So Montreal would’ve still had an expected points total of 52 points regardless of being in the Atlantic Division or North Division.

The schedule plays no impact on the expected points model.

So every team is just going to earn about a point-a-game?

Not necessarily.

Either all the Canadian teams are playing at about the same level of intensity, which makes for great parity– especially in a division solely comprised of Canadian market clubs.

Or they just would’ve been wherever they would’ve been within their own usual division, but when they’re thrown together it looks… …worse?

In a non-pandemic timeline, the Canadian clubs would be scattered all over the standings with the Oilers competing for the top spot in the Pacific Division with the Vegas Golden Knights, while the Senators would likely be bottom dwellers in the Atlantic.

With the all-Canadian North Division, the best teams could really run away with things or all seven teams could eat each other alive in the division.

What’s the good news then?

At least one Canadian team will make it into the 2021 Stanley Cup Semifinal, since the first two rounds will be intra-divisional matchups.

Under the current projection, Winnipeg would face Vancouver in the First Round, while Edmonton would take on Toronto in the First Round.

In the West Division, the Colorado Avalanche are the team to beat. The Avs are hungry to avenge their Second Round exit against the Dallas Stars in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs if they can stay healthy and bring the Cup back to Denver for the first time since 2001.

Meanwhile, the St. Louis Blues might have some questions surrounding their goaltending, but the additions of Mike Hoffman and Torey Krug greatly outweigh the subtraction of Alex Pietrangelo– at least when it comes to regular season production.

In terms of experience and leadership, the Vegas Golden Knights picked up Pietrangelo’s talents via free agency and should be in contention for home ice advantage if they’re able to overcome St. Louis’ projected standing.

What about the meat of the order?

Both the Minnesota Wild and Arizona Coyotes are in a lot better shape than the Californian hockey teams.

The Wild have Kaapo Kähkönen coming down the pipeline in the crease and depending on how soon he can arrive might influence their final standing compared to Arizona.

Whereas Minnesota must rely on aging veterans, Cam Talbot and Alex Stalock in net, the Coyotes have Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta– a serviceable tandem for Arizona’s needs.

Mikko Koivu was sent out to find a new home as an influx of youth should make the Wild more competitive, but how much will Arizona’s playoff experience play into their drive for making at least another First Round appearance this season– despite losing Carl Söderberg in free agency to the Chicago Blackhawks and trading Derek Stepan to the Ottawa in the offseason.

Time will tell.

Is this the weakest division?

The all-Canadian North Division has the advantage of playing each other and sorting things out themselves instead of spreading their Canadian talents (or lack thereof depending on the team) throughout the league, so yes, the West Division is likely the weakest.

The Los Angeles Kings have some growing pains and salary cap hell to sort out. The Anaheim Ducks are a young team that’s finding their chemistry and building their experience, but are one or two years away from playoff contention.

Finally, the San Jose Sharks have an ever-regressing duo of Martin Jones and Devan Dubnyk in the crease to go along with whatever’s left on their blue line that’s not named Brent Burns and (a supposedly 100% healthy) Erik Karlsson.

At least the Sharks brought back Patrick Marleau (third time’s a charm) and other than that, they don’t have that bad of a forward group.

In the 2012-13 lockout shortened 48-game season, 20 out of the league’s then 30 teams at the time finished with at least 49 points or more in the season.

The 2012-13 Chicago Blackhawks finished 19 points away from a perfect 96-point season– amassing 77 points in 48 games with a 36-7-5 record.

Chicago is going through a rebuild without Jonathan Toews for possibly an extended period of time and with Malcolm Subban and Collin Delia in the crease.

The good news? They’ll likely end up with a solid lottery pick in the 2021 NHL Draft.

The bad news? They’re not going to find themselves having a repeat of their 2013 Stanley Cup championship.

Will any team from the Central Division be like those 2012-13 Blackhawks though?

It’s funny that you ask, because the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning would have to win at least 75% of their games if they want to be anything like the 2012-13 Blackhawks.

Whereas Chicago won 36 out of 48, Tampa would have to win 42 out of 56 games.

It’s not that the Lightning can’t reach 84 points in the 2020-21 season– especially since the Blackhawks almost reached 80 in a shorter span, but rather how good will the rest of the Central Division be and how will the intra-divisional games only schedule impact, well, everything?

Tampa is projected as the regular season division winners with 66 points on the season.

The formula doesn’t take into account the loss of Braydon Coburn and Cedric Paquette in a trade with the Senators or the loss of Nikita Kucherov for the regular season due to an injury.

It doesn’t take into consideration the intra-divisional schedule, other injuries that are sure to occur, transactions, acts of The Hockey Gods, etc.

The 2012-13 Blackhawks had the advantage of facing mostly regular opponents over 48 games, then progressing through the old format of the playoffs where teams were seeded 1-8 among six divisions of five teams.

Tampa just has to be one of the top-four teams in their division over 56 games against all too familiar faces from night-to-night, then emerge victorious out of the Central to defend their title.

Anything is possible.

Can the Florida Panthers really be a playoff team?

Yes, the expected points model seems to indicate that the Florida Panthers were pretty good at finding the net in the regular season last year and that they should improve their standing, at least.

It doesn’t, however, determine whether or not Sergei Bobrovsky returns to form in quality starts, shutouts, etc.

New Panthers General Manager, Bill Zito, has added Markus Nutivaara and Radko Gudas to the blue line, as well as Anthony Duclair and Patric Hörnqvist to the forwards, so they should definitely be harder to play than in years past.

Gut feeling says three-time Stanley Cup champion head coach, Joel Quenneville, can make something more out of the pieces he’s been handed this season than in 2019-20.

Are the Detroit Red Wings really that bad?

No, but they didn’t do themselves any favors when it comes to utilizing last season’s data for determining this season’s expected points total.

Marginal goals for and marginal goals against can be a cruel animal, but it’s one of the best things to take into account of recency bias.

Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman added Vladislav Namestnikov, Bobby Ryan, Marc Staal, Troy Stecher, Jon Merrill, Alex Biega and Thomas Greiss to his team, so they won’t at least be intentional pushovers like last season.

The loss of Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug in the offseason for the Boston Bruins comes with a price– having to face Chara eight times in the regular season, then possibly Krug and the St. Louis Blues in a 2019 Stanley Cup Final rematch in the 2021 Stanley Cup Final.

Just kidding, the window appears mostly shut in the Hub.

It’s not that Boston can’t win, but rather that they have a bit of an uphill battle to get there.

Yes, their defense is younger, but it’s also more inexperienced. Yes, they added Craig Smith for goal scoring power, but it’s no Mike Hoffman.

At least David Pastrnak is looking to make a return ahead of schedule from his offseason surgery, but don’t be fooled by their six-point lead over the Philadelphia Flyers in the East Division projection.

Every second matters in a 56-game season. If they get off to a rocky start, they risk going from a surefire playoff contender (for at least another year or two) to missing out on the 2021 postseason.

The Buffalo Sabres added Taylor Hall, what gives?

Again, if you haven’t learned by now, expected points totals do not take signing the 2017-18 Hart Memorial Trophy winner to a one-year, $8.000 million contract into account.

Hall could be the winger Jack Eichel needs to convince him not to ask for a trade request as much as Eichel could be what Hall needs for a little rejuvenation and to be convinced to stay longer in his reunion with Sabres head coach, Ralph Krueger.

No matter what, though, the addition of Eric Staal and more in Buffalo means there’s sure to be improvement this season.

If it was the regular Atlantic Division, the Sabres might be looking at a wild card situation.

But since it’s the temporarily realigned East Division for 2020-21, yeah, there’s a lot more harder competition. Take the Hall pass and try again next season (maybe you’ll get the 1st overall pick).

Explain to me how the New York Rangers and New York Islanders miss the playoffs?

This one is fairly simple.

The East Division is just six teams out of the regular Metropolitan Division, plus the Bruins (pretty good) and Sabres (pretty bad).

As such, it’s almost as if nothing ever happened in terms of the compete level of the overall division, but the playoff format yields only the top-four teams from each division for 2020-21.

Instead of getting, say, seven Metropolitan teams (impossible, yes, but let’s pretend) in the upcoming postseason, you can only have four.

If the B’s are taking one of those spots like they are in this projection, that limits the usual Metropolitan contenders to three leftover playoff berths.

If anything, the Pittsburgh Penguins are at the greatest risk of sliding out of the postseason picture with Tristan Jarry as their starting goaltender and Casey DeSmith as their backup after trading Matt Murray to Ottawa in the offseason.

That’s good news for the Islanders, probably, though the Rangers have more talent on paper (especially if Mathew Barzal isn’t re-signed when the puck drops on Jan. 13th).


So that’s it.

If you’ve made it this far and read every word– congrats, it’s probably time for puck drop already. Surely the calendar must read Jan. 13th by now and you can get back to watching that game you just tuned into.

Stay tuned for more forecasts and (un)related things that don’t have anything to do with expected points totals.

Categories
Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #214- 2020-21 Season Preview: West Division

Zdeno Chara signed with the Washington Capitals, the AHL announced plans for the 2020-21 season, the NHL divisions are sponsored for 2020-21, what’s going on with the New York Islanders, Pierre-Luc Dubois wants out (maybe) and we preview the West Division for the 2020-21 season.

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsStitcher and/or on Spotify.

Categories
Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #213- 2020-21 Season Preview: Central Division

The Ottawa Senators did the Tampa Bay Lightning a huge favor. About a $17 million favor, when all is said and done. Meanwhile, a bunch of contracts were signed, we finally know an answer to the Mike Hoffman question, Craig Anderson signed a PTO and might replace Henrik Lundqvist as the Washington Capitals’ backup goaltender and we preview the Central Division for the 2020-21 season.

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsStitcher and/or on Spotify.

Categories
Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #212- Let’s Make A Date!

The NHL and NHLPA agreed to a deal on a 56-game season, realignment for 2020-21, dates and more. A bunch of players were signed in the last week, Ryan O’Reilly was named captain of the St. Louis Blues and Henrik Lundqvist will not suit up for the Washington Capitals this season.

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsStitcher and/or on Spotify.