Tag Archives: Nikita Kucherov

Bolts top B’s in, 5-3, fight filled action

It was fight night at TD Garden on Saturday as the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Boston Bruins, 5-3, in a game that had over 90 penalty minutes and multiple brawls.

Andrei Vasilevskiy (35-13-3 record, 2.57 goals against average, .917 save percentage in 51 games played) made 35 saves on 38 shots against (.921 SV%) in the win for the Lightning.

B’s netminder, Tuukka Rask (25-8-6, 2.18 GAA, .926 SV% in 40 games played) stopped 20 out of 24 shots faced for an .833 SV% in the loss.

Tampa took the season series 3-1-0 and improved to 43-20-5 (91 points), but the Bolts remain 2nd in the Atlantic Division to the Bruins who are now 43-14-12 (98 points) on the season, as well as 22-4-9 on home ice.

The Bruins were without the services of Kevan Miller (knee), Connor Clifton (upper body) and Brandon Carlo (upper body) on Saturday night.

Prior to the game, however, Clifton was activated from the injured reserve, which means he’ll likely be back in the lineup sometime next week if all goes well at practice.

Karson Kuhlman was reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) to make way for Clifton’s activation.

With Carlo out of the lineup, John Moore took over the right side of the second defensive pairing with Torey Krug, while Bruce Cassidy made two minor changes among his forward lines from Thursday night’s, 2-1, overtime victory in Florida to Saturday night’s battle with the Lightning.

Cassidy moved Sean Kuraly up to the right wing of the third line with Jake DeBrusk and Charlie Coyle, while shifting Chris Wagner down to the right side of the fourth line with Joakim Nordstrom at left wing and Par Lindholm at center.

Anders Bjork and Anton Blidh served as Boston’s healthy scratches against Tampa.

Early in the opening frame, Barclay Goodrow delivered a blow to Bruins forward, Ondrej Kase, with the elbow and received a minor infraction at 5:01 of the first period.

The ensuing power play for Boston was disastrous as the B’s allowed two shorthanded goals before Goodrow was allowed to return to the ice.

First after Patrice Bergeron won the faceoff in the direction of the point, Anthony Cirelli (16) snuck in and stole the loose puck, skated to the opposite zone and sniped a shot past Rask on the blocker side for an unassisted shorthanded goal at 5:08 of the first period– giving Tampa the game’s first lead, 1-0.

Cirelli’s goal marked the 19th time this season that Boston gave up the game’s first goal on home ice.

Almost a minute later, Yanni Gourde worked the puck from deep in the corner to Mikhail Sergachev (10) in the low slot for the one-timer past Rask’s glove side.

Gourde (18) had the only assist on Sergachev’s goal and the Bolts led, 2-0, at 6:10 of the opening period.

After Goodrow returned to the ice from the penalty box, Wagner tried to engage No. 19 in blue and white in a fight for the actions Goodrow took against Kase in the first place that Wagner did not think highly of, but the two only tugged and grabbed at each other before the officials intervened and handed out matching unsportsmanlike conduct minors at 8:39.

The game shifted to 4-on-4 for two minutes until the minor penalties would expire.

Seconds after the two players emerged from the box, Wagner and Goodrow dropped the gloves in an agreed upon exchanging of the fisticuffs at 10:45 in what was the 19th fight this season for the Bruins and 12th since Jan. 1st.

Moments later, Braydon Coburn was guilty of holding DeBrusk and presented Boston with their second power play opportunity of the night at 12:20.

This time the Lightning didn’t score any shorthanded goals.

Tampa got their first chance on the power play at 19:14 of the first period when Jeremy Lauzon was sent to the box for interfering with Pat Maroon.

The Bolts did not score on the skater advantage, despite its overlap into the second period.

After 20 minutes of action in Boston, the Lightning led, 2-0, on the scoreboard, despite the Bruins leading in shots on goal, 14-5.

Tampa also held the advantage in blocked shots (8-6), takeaways (3-1), hits (12-5) and faceoff win percentage (64-36).

Both teams had two giveaways aside, while the Bolts were 0/1 on the power play and the B’s were 0/2.

Cedric Paquette (7) kicked off the second period with a goal to make it, 3-0, for Tampa after Boston’s defense was caught out of position and the Lightning forward snuck into the slot for a one-timer from point-blank.

Zach Bogosian (6) and Coburn (3) had the assists on Paquette’s goal at 6:50 of the middle frame and the Lightning thundered their way to three unanswered goals for a three-goal lead.

Past the midpoint of the second period, four Lightning skaters took a chance to jump one Bruins player while said player tried to play the puck along the wall.

That player was Brad Marchand– whether it was justified or not– and a scrum ensued as all ten skaters on the ice piled on top of one another.

Cirelli and Marchand both headed for the sin bin with matching roughing minors– meaning the two teams would once again spend a couple of minutes skating 4-on-4 at 14:13 of the second period.

While on the ensuing even-strength, 4-on-4, action, Charlie McAvoy (5) snuck up on a rush with Coyle and DeBrusk and beat Vasilevskiy on the glove side to put Boston on the scoreboard and cut into Tampa’s lead.

Coyle (21) and Matt Grzelcyk (17) tallied the assists on McAvoy’s goal as the Bruins trailed, 3-1, at 14:50.

Almost four minutes later, Kuraly (6) poked a loose puck in the crease just over the goal line before Point was able to scoop it back out from the net and into play without any officials on the ice picking up on the fact that a goal had indeed been scored.

As play continued for about 90 additional seconds, the video room in Toronto signaled to TD Garden that there had been a goal on the play and instructed the arena to use the siren to indicate an overrule by the video room.

But as that happened, all hell broke loose.

McAvoy (27) and Kase (17) were credited for the assists on Kuraly’s goal at 18:37 as Kuraly got entangled in a line brawl that resulted in a misconduct for No. 52 in black and gold and a list of penalties for players on the ice and even a Lightning staff member on the bench!

The Bruins trailed, 3-2, as Zdeno Chara fought Maroon (each received five minutes for fighting), Erik Cernak and Kuraly traded misconducts and Tampa was assessed a bench minor for delay of game and a game misconduct for Todd Richards’ verbal abuse of an official at 18:37 of the second period.

The chaos didn’t end after the already lit fuse had sparked once more.

At the end of the second period, more shoves were exchanged and words shouted, leaving Marchand with a slashing minor against Blake Coleman, a misconduct for Coleman and a misconduct for Nick Ritchie at 20:00.

Heading into the second intermission, Tampa led on the scoreboard, 3-2, but trailed Boston in shots on goal, 26-15.

The B’s held the advantage in blocked shots (14-10) and giveaways (7-4) after 40 minutes of play, while the Lightning led in takeaways (5-3), hits (25-20) and faceoff win% (63-38).

Boston was 0/4 on the power play and Tampa was 0/1 on the skater advantage heading into the final frame.

Just 68 seconds into the third period, Alex Killorn (26) tipped a shot from the blue line past Rask under the Boston goaltender’s blocker and into the twine to make it, 4-2, for the Bolts.

Killorn’s power play goal was assisted by Sergachev (24) and Point (39) at 1:08 of the third period and was not challenged despite initial concern from Rask that Killorn’s stick might have been above the crossbar.

Almost four minutes later, Nikita Kucherov cross checked Grzelcyk and was sent to the box at 5:48.

This time the Bruins capitalized on the skater advantage with a one-timed power play goal from the point by David Pastrnak (48) to make it a one-goal game.

Krug (40) and Marchand (58) notched the assists on Pastrnak’s goal at 6:37 of the third period and the B’s cut Tampa’s lead to, 4-3.

About two minutes later, Bergeron sent the puck out of play without touching anything else and received an automatic delay of game minor penalty– in addition to a roughing minor after Goodrow and several other skaters on the ice met for one last rouse.

Krug and Mitchell Stephens joined Bergeron in the box with roughing minors, while the Lightning went on the power play one last time at 8:43 of the final frame.

Moments later, Tyler Johnson hauled Kase down with a hook, but Kase was also hit by an unsportsmanlike conduct infraction for embellishing the penalty in the officials’ eyes and presented both sides with more 4-on-4 action at 13:10 of the third period.

With 1:48 left in the game, Cassidy pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker, but it was too little, too late as Jon Cooper’s Lightning outmatched Boston’s last-ditch effort.

David Krejci misplayed the puck while skating out of his own zone into the neutral zone and gave the rubber biscuit directly to Kucherov (33) for the empty net goal at 18:58– sealing the deal on Tampa’s, 5-3, victory over the Bruins in Boston.

At the final horn, the Bolts had won, despite finishing the night trailing in shots on goal, 38-25.

Boston wrapped up Saturday night’s loss with the advantage in blocked shots (19-14) and giveaways (11-6), while Tampa led in hits (30-26) and faceoff win% (57-43).

The Lightning finished the night 1/2 on the skater advantage and the Bruins went 1/4 on the power play in the game.

Boston fell to 18-7-4 when allowing the game’s first goal (10-2-3 at home in that span), 6-7-3 when trailing after one period (4-2-2 at home in that span) and 5-11-4 (5-4-3 at home in that span) when trailing after two periods this season.

Tampa, on the other hand, improved to 30-9-2 (13-5-2 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal, 23-2-3 (11-2-2 on the road) when leading after one period and 31-1-4 (14-0-2 on the road) when leading after two periods this season.

The B’s begin a two-game road trip in Philadelphia on Tuesday (March 10th) before traveling to Buffalo next Friday (March 13th).

The Bruins then return home to face the Toronto Maple Leafs next Saturday (March 14th) and host the Columbus Blue Jackets on March 16th before heading out to visit the three California teams later that week.

The Flyers, in the meantime, are on a nine-game winning streak and host the Bruins on Tuesday at Wells Fargo Center.

Stamkos scores two in Bolts, 3-2, win over B’s

Steven Stamkos scored a pair of goals– including the eventual game-winner– in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s, 3-2, victory over the Boston Bruins on Thursday at Amalie Arena.

Andrei Vasilevskiy (13-8-1 record, 2.78 goals against average, .910 save percentage in 22 games played) made 27 saves on 29 shots against (.931 SV%) in the win for the Lightning.

Bruins goaltender, Tuukka Rask (13-4-3, 2.24 GAA, .926 SV% in 20 games played) stopped 28 out of 31 shots faced for a .926 SV% in the loss.

The B’s fell to 20-7-6 (46 points) on the season, but remain in command of the Atlantic Division, while the Bolts improved to 16-11-3 (35 points) and jumped to 4th place in the Atlantic .

Boston fell to 8-6-1 on the road this season and 2-2-1 in the 2nd game of back-to-backs this season.

The Bruins are now on a five-game losing streak for the first time under head coach, Bruce Cassidy. The last four games have been regulation losses, which marks the first time that Boston has lost four straight games in regulation since the 2016-17 season (when Claude Julien was fired and Cassidy was promoted/hired).

Kevan Miller (knee), Karson Kuhlman (fractured tibia) and Zach Senyshyn (lower body) were all out of the lineup due to injury against Tampa.

Kuhlman, Senyshyn and Anton Blidh (shoulder– injured in the preseason) have all resumed skating according to Cassidy.

Miller, on the other hand, has not as a result of yet another setback in his recovery.

Cassidy made no adjustments to his forwards from Wednesday night’s, 3-2, loss in Washington to Thursday night’s lineup against the Lightning, but he did replace Connor Clifton on the blue line with John Moore.

Clifton joined Par Lindholm and David Backes as Boston’s short list of healthy scratches in Tampa.

Shortly after puck drop, Bruins captain, Zdeno Chara, squared off with Lightning forward, Pat Maroon, as the two players exchanged fisticuffs 27 seconds into the first period.

Both players received five-minute majors for fighting in what was just the 7th fight this season for Boston and 2nd in as many days as Chara fought Tom Wilson in Washington on Wednesday night.

Moments later, Brad Marchand wrapped around the Tampa net and sent a quick pass to Patrice Bergeron (10) in the low slot whereby the league’s current longest tenured alternate captain slid the rubber biscuit past Vasilevskiy while the Bolts goaltender dropped his stance.

Marchand (30) and Charlie McAvoy (11) notched the assists on Bergeron’s goal at 4:26 of the first period as the Bruins took the, 1-0, lead.

Of note, Bergeron skated in his 1,052nd career NHL game– tying current Boston General Manager, Don Sweeney, for 3rd all time in franchise history.

Only Ray Bourque (1,518) and Johnny Bucyk (1,436) have played in more games in their tenure with the B’s.

Midway through the period, Moore tripped Alex Killorn at 12:44, but the Lightning weren’t able to capitalize on their first power play of the night.

Heading into the first intermission, the Bruins led, 1-0, on the scoreboard, despite being outshot, 7-4, by the Bolts.

Tampa also led in hits (17-9), but Boston led in blocked shots (3-2), takeaways (3-1), giveaways (2-0) and faceoff win percentage (64-36).

Entering the second period, the Lightning were 0/1 on the power play, while the Bruins had yet to see any time on the skater advantage.

Ryan McDonagh kicked things off in the middle frame with an interference minor at 2:12 of the second period, but Boston once again struggled all night long on the power play– failing to convert on their first skater advantage of the night.

About a couple of minutes later, Matt Grzelcyk collided with Anthony Cirelli and inadvertently tripped the Lightning forward, yielding a tripping minor.

But Grzelcyk wasn’t the only skater heading to the penalty box as Kevin Shattenkirk took exception to the trip and tried to fight the Bruins defender.

As a result, Shattenkirk received a roughing infraction and the two teams took each other on at 4-on-4 for two-minutes at 4:48 of the middle frame before resuming full strength.

Moore tripped Killorn once again midway through the second period at 12:29.

This time around, the Bolts’ power play struck fast.

Stamkos (12) wired a shot in the back of the net after Bergeron won the draw back to Chara, but Chara was stripped of the puck along the wall by Nikita Kucherov.

Kucherov (22) had the only assist on Stamkos’ first goal of the game and the Lightning tied it up, 1-1, at 12:35 with the power play goal.

Through 40 minutes of action on Thursday, Tampa and Boston were tied, 1-1, on the scoreboard, despite the Lightning leading in shots on goal, 21-16– including a, 14-12, advantage in the second period alone.

The B’s led in blocked shots (10-7), giveaways (4-0) and faceoff win% (55-46) entering the second period, while Tampa led in takeaways (8-6) and hits (23-16).

The Lightning were 1/2 on the skater advantage, while the Bruins were 0/1 on the power play heading into the final frame of regulation.

Sean Kuraly hooked Mathieu Joseph at 2:43 of the third period and presented Tampa with yet another power play opportunity.

Late on the ensuing skater advantage, Brayden Point (11) scored a one-timer goal to make it, 2-1, Bolts after Rask made the initial glove save on Kucherov before the Bruins couldn’t clear the zone and thus helped Tampa in their efforts for Point’s goal.

Kucherov (23) and Victor Hedman (21) had the assists on Point’s goal at 4:07 and the Lightning were in full command of the game.

Moments later, Stamkos went to the sin bin for hooking McAvoy at 10:28, but Boston was powerless on the power play once again– even after taking a timeout with 8:36 remaining in regulation to draw up a plan.

Late in the third, Stamkos (13) sniped a shot from almost center on in the high slot after Boston failed to clear their own zone and witnessed an unfortunate bounce land on the Lightning captain’s stick before he fired the puck over Rask’s glove to give Tampa a two-goal lead at 15:13.

Stamkos’ unassisted effort made it, 3-1, for the Bolts and held up to become the game-winning goal.

He now has six goals in his last four games.

About a minute later, Moore (1) snuck in from the point for the Bruins and received an indirect pass from Anders Bjork before beating Vasilevskiy on the short side and bringing the B’s to within one.

Bjork (5) and Chara (8) had the assists on Moore’s first goal of the season at 16:45 of the third period in his fourth game back since missing the first 28 games due to offseason shoulder surgery.

There was a span of 1:32 between Lightning and Bruins goals, but the Bolts maintained a, 3-2, advantage over Boston and that was all that they needed even after Cassidy pulled Rask for an extra attacker with 1:58 remaining in the game.

At the final horn, Tampa won, 3-2, and handed Boston their fifth loss in a row, despite outshooting the Lightning, 13-10, in the third period alone.

The Bolts finished the night leading in total shots on goal (31-29), as well as hits (32-20), while the B’s finished Thursday night leading in blocked shots (12-10), giveaways (9-4) and faceoff win% (52-48).

The Lightning finished the action 2/3 on the skater advantage, while Boston went 0/2 on the power play in Tampa.

The Bruins fell to 11-3-0 when leading after the first period and 13-5-3 when scoring the game’s first goal this season.

Boston wraps up their four-game road trip (0-3-0) Saturday in Sunrise, Florida with a matchup against the Panthers. The Bruins return home for a four-game homestand next Tuesday (Dec. 17th) against the Los Angeles Kings before hosting the New York Islanders (Dec. 19th), Nashville Predators (Dec. 21st) and Washington Capitals (Dec. 23rd).

DTFR Podcast #178- Another Day, Another Dollar

Zdeno Chara surpassed 1,500 career games, Claude Julien reached 1,200 games behind the bench, the Toronto Maple Leafs are facing injuries and backup goaltender struggles, Taylor Hall reportedly won’t sign an extension with the New Jersey Devils, the 2019 NHL Global Series happened and the 2020 NHL Global Series was announced.

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Lightning strike Bruins, 4-3, in shootout victory

Steven Stamkos’ only goal in a shootout was enough to lift the Tampa Bay Lightning over the Boston Bruins, 4-3, on Thursday night at TD Garden.

The Bolts led briefly in the third period before the B’s tied the game almost two minutes later and forced overtime.

Andrei Vasilevskiy (4-1-0, 2.58 goals against average, .921 save percentage in five games played) made 34 saves on 37 shots against for a .919 SV% in the shootout win for Tampa.

Boston goaltender, Tuukka Rask (3-0-1, 1.72 GAA, .946 SV% in four games played) stopped 33 out of 36 shots faced for a .917 SV% in the shootout loss.

The Bruins fell to 5-1-1 (11 points) on the season and temporarily moved into 1st place in the Atlantic Division before the Buffalo Sabres won their late game Thursday night and regained control of the Atlantic.

Meanwhile, the Lightning improved to 4-2-1 (9 points) and moved into 3rd place in the Atlantic, thanks to having more points in fewer games than the Toronto Maple Leafs (Tampa has nine points in seven games, while Toronto has nine points in eight games).

For the seventh time this season, Kevan Miller (knee) and John Moore (shoulder) were out of the action due to injury.

David Krejci (upper body) was also ruled out of Thursday night’s action after sustaining an injury or re-injuring something in Monday afternoon’s meeting with the Anaheim Ducks.

Miller and Moore both skated on their own in red no-contact sweaters before practice Thursday morning, while Krejci’s prognosis is to be determined.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, juggled his lines in Krejci’s absence, moving Charlie Coyle and Brett Ritchie up to the second line with Jake DeBrusk (celebrating his 23rd birthday on Thursday) at left wing, while re-inserting Par Lindholm in the lineup at center on the third line and bumping Karson Kuhlman to the third line right wing.

Connor Clifton was also back in the lineup for Boston after serving his time as a healthy scratch against the Ducks.

David Backes and Steven Kampfer were the only healthy scratches for Boston on Thursday.

Midway through the opening frame, Lightning forward, Mikhail Sergachev, was guilty of holding Bruins forward, Brett Ritchie, and was sent to the penalty box at 9:27 of the first period.

Seven seconds into the ensuing power play, Boston’s David Pastrnak (7) struck first on the scoreboard with a power play goal on a one-timer pass from Patrice Bergeron to give the B’s the lead, 1-0, at 9:34.

Bergeron (5) and Torey Krug (4) had the assists on Pastrnak’s goal.

With his 5th consecutive goal for Boston, Pastrnak tied Dunc Fisher for the 2nd most consecutive goals in Bruins franchise history. Glen Murray is the team record holder with six consecutive goals for Boston in the 2003-04 season, while Pastrnak and Fisher each have five in 2019-20 and 1951-52, repsectively.

Less than two minutes later, Sean Kuraly hooked Nikita Kucherov and Tampa went on the skater advantage for the first time of the night.

The Bruins killed off Kuraly’s minor without any major issues.

Moments later, Bergeron was penalized for slashing against Ondrej Palat and cut a rut to the sin bin at 16:09.

Once more, the Bolts weren’t able to convert on the resulting power play.

In the final seconds of the first period, Yanni Gourde flipped the puck through the neutral zone to Brayden Point (3) who entered the attacking zone on a quick breakaway and elevated the puck into the top of the twine to tie the game, 1-1, at 19:59.

Gourde (3) and Victor Hedman (6) notched the assists on Point’s goal as the teams went into the first intermission knotted at, 1-1.

Tampa led in shots on goal (16-11), hits (12-4) and faceoff win percentage (60-40), while Boston held the advantage in blocked shots (4-1) and giveaways (8-4).

Both teams had two takeaways aside after 20 minutes of action.

The Lightning were 0/2 on the skater advantage, while the B’s were 1/1 on the power play heading into the second period.

Bergeron took a beating early in the middle frame as No. 37 in black-and-gold was on the receiving end of consecutive penalties by the Lightning.

First, Carter Verhaeghe tripped Bergeron at 2:15 of the second period, then Gourde interfered with Bergeron at 6:23.

Boston was unsuccessful on their first power play of the second period, but worked their magic while Gourde was in the box.

Bergeron (2) redirected a slap pass from Pastrnak into the twine to give the Bruins their second power play goal of the game and the lead, 2-1.

Pastrnak (5) and Brad Marchand (6) tallied the assists on Bergeron’s goal at 7:26.

Shortly after regaining the lead, the Bruins turned the puck over at an inopportune time, leading to a quality scoring chance for the Bolts.

Tampa forward, Alex Killorn, fired a shot that Rask got a chunk of, but couldn’t contain the rebound as Mathieu Joseph (2) pounced on the loose puck for the tap-in goal, tying the game, 2-2.

Killorn (3) and Erik Cernak (1) were credited with the assists on Joseph’s goal at 10:32..

Late in the period, Cernak was charged with a minor for interference against Lindholm at 17:56 and the B’s went on the power play for the fourth time of the night.

Boston was not able to capitalize on the skater advantage, however.

Through 40 minutes of action at TD Garden, the Bruins and Lightning were tied, 2-2, on the scoreboard.

Tampa led in shots on goal (29-21– including a, 13-10, advantage in the second period alone), blocked shots (6-5) and hits (22-9), while Boston led in takeaways (4-3) and giveaways (11-8).

The two clubs were split in faceoff win%, 50-50.

The Bolts were powerless on the power play (0/2) after two periods, while the B’s were 2/4 on the skater advantage heading into the third period.

Midway through the final frame of regulation, Matt Grzelcyk hooked Pat Maroon while trailing the Lightning forward and was sent to the box at 8:25 of the third.

Tampa didn’t convert on their third power play opportunity of the night and the Bruins killed off Grzelcyk’s minor as a result.

After dominating in shots on net, Boston gave up a chance the other way that Kevin Shattenkirk (4) was sure to take advantage of– sending a snap shot over Rask’s glove side from the faceoff dot to give the Lightning their first lead of the night, 3-2, at 15:13 of the third period.

Stamkos (5) and Point (2) recorded the assists on Shattenkirk’s goal.

The Bolts followed up their lead with a quick penalty of their own– Anthony Cirelli was guilty of a minor infraction for tripping Pastrnak at 16:08.

On the ensuing skater advantage, Boston fired everything but the kitchen sink towards the goal, missing the net entirely a couple of times, but proving to be worthy in the long-run.

After Marchand fired a shot off the endboards that caromed back into the slot, Pastrnak (8) sent the puck off of Shattenkirk’s stick and into the net behind Vasilevskiy to tie the game, 3-3, with his 2nd goal of the night.

Marchand (7) and Krug (5) each had a hand in assisting Pastrnak’s power play goal at 16:55.

Boston’s three goals all came on the power play, while Tampa’s weak penalty kill was on full display Thursday night.

At the end of regulation, the score remained tied, 3-3, on the scoreboard, while Tampa held onto a slim advantage in shots on goal, 33-32, despite trailing, 11-4, in shots on goal in the third period alone.

The Lightning maintained an advantage in blocked shots (12-9), takeaways (7-6), giveaways (15-12), hits (29-21) and faceoff win% (53-47) heading into overtime.

The Bolts were 0/3 on the power play, while the B’s were 3/5 on the skater advantage.

Cassidy started Coyle, Pastrnak and Krug in overtime, while Tampa’s head coach, Jon Cooper, opted for Cirelli, Killon and Hedman to kick things off in the five-minute, 3-on-3, OT action.

Neither team scored and Marchand had Point in a headlock in the dying seconds to prevent a last second scoring chance for the Bolts.

He was assessed a roughing penalty at 5:00 of the overtime period, but could still take part in the shootout, because apparently there’s no rule that’d say otherwise.

After the overtime period, the Bruins held the slight advantage in shots on goal, 37-36, including a, 5-3, advantage in overtime alone.

Tampa finished the night with the lead in blocked shots (12-9), giveaways (15-12), hits (31-21) and faceoff win% (53-47), while both teams had seven takeaways aside.

The Lightning finished the night 0/3 on the power play and the B’s went 3/5.

Boston elected to shoot second in the shootout, thereby giving Tampa the first shot of the first round of the shootout.

Cooper sent Hedman to get things started, but the defender was denied by Rask with a blocker save.

Cassidy responded by sending Coyle for the first attempt on Vasilevskiy, but the Tampa netminder wasn’t fooled by Coyle’s deke and made a pad save.

Point made an appearance for the Lightning in the second round of the shootout, but clipped Rask’s blocker and sent the puck wide of the net.

Next up for Boston, Pastrnak flat out missed the goal frame, leaving the shootout tied, 0-0, through two rounds.

Last season’s Art Ross Trophy and Hart Memorial Trophy winner, Kucherov had Tampa’s first shot of the third round of the shootout, but was stopped by Rask with the pad save as Kucherov tried to go five-hole.

In response, Marchand tried to get Vasilevskiy to stretch just far enough that Marchand would’ve eluded the Lightning goaltender, but Vasilevskiy made the save with the right leg pad and kept the shootout even, 0-0, through three rounds.

Finally, Stamkos broke open the scoring in the shootout with a shot high over Rask’s blocker and into the back of the net to give Tampa the, 1-0, advantage– meaning Boston would have to score to extend the shootout.

Celebrating his birthday in style, DeBrusk was given Boston’s last chance in the shootout, but was stopped by Vasilevskiy’s blocker, leaving the Bruins scoreless in the shootout and with the, 4-3, loss in the final boxscore.

Boston wrapped up their three-game homestand 2-0-1 thanks to their shootout loss to Tampa on Thursday.

The Bruins travel to Toronto for a home and home series with the Maple Leafs on Oct. 19th at Scotiabank Arena and Oct. 22nd at TD Garden.

It will be Boston and Toronto’s first meeting since their 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round matchup.

Afterwards, the B’s then have a few days off until they’ll face the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues in a 2019 Stanley Cup Final rematch for the first time this season at home on Oct. 26th.

St. Louis kicks off the first games on back-to-back days for the Bruins this season, as Boston will travel to Madison Square Garden to face the New York Rangers on Oct. 27th before finishing the month on home ice against the San Jose Sharks on Oct. 29th.

DTFR Podcast #172- Participation Trophies After One Game (Part IV)

The 2019-20 season has begun, so naturally we handed out awards in our 4th Annual Participation Trophies After One Game ceremony.

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2019-20 Atlantic Division Outlook

As the entire hockey world awaits training camp action next month, let’s make some (un)educated guesses about the upcoming season that will totally pan out because everything always goes as expected. (It doesn’t.)

The projected standings below are only a forecast.

They are based on recent indications– as well as the last few seasons of stats– and cannot account for variations in roster construction (a.k.a. trades and free agency moves).

There’s a lot of variables that will turn the tables upside down, including transactions, injuries and otherwise. Anything can happen.

As always, it’s more important to remember 1) the spread and 2) the positioning.

Just how many points separate the projected division winner from the last wild card spot (the spread) and where a team is supposed to finish in the division standings (the position) can imply that things aren’t always what they seem.

A team that’s projected to win it all still has to play an 82-game regular season, qualify for the playoffs and go on to amass 16 wins in the postseason.

Projected Standings After ZERO Months

Atlantic Division

  1. p-Tampa Bay Lightning, 109 points
  2. x-Boston Bruins, 105 points
  3. x-Toronto Maple Leafs, 91 points
  4. Florida Panthers, 89 points
  5. Montreal Canadiens, 89 points
  6. Detroit Red Wings, 84 points
  7. Ottawa Senators, 78 points
  8. Buffalo Sabres, 71 points

Tampa Bay Lightning: Pros and Cons

The Lightning are annual favorites among the experts to win the Stanley Cup, so it’s no surprise, really, that they haven’t yet. There’s either too many expectations to live up to or there’s too much of a casual atmosphere from season-to-season.

You know what they say when you assume.

Just like the Washington Capitals and their 2018 Stanley Cup championship, it’s better for the Bolts if nobody is talking about them. Prior to the Caps winning in 2018, there was a “Cup or bust” mantra that just didn’t work.

Nothing is willed without hard work and humility.

That’s not to say Tampa doesn’t work hard or isn’t humble, but rather, they must lose on the big stage repetitively until everyone expects them to fail. That’s when they’ll go on a run.

They’ve managed to keep their roster together (granted, RFA center, Brayden Point, is still unsigned) while trimming the fat (gone are the days of Anton Stralman and Dan Girardi on the blue line) and are still Stanley Cup front-runners, but they likely won’t get back to the 60-win plateau in back-to-back seasons.

The Lightning will still get to 50 wins for the third season in-a-row, have Nikita Kucherov set the league on fire in scoring and yield out-of-this-world goaltending from Andrei Vasilevskiy before the real season starts– the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

How would the Lightning fail?

Everyone keeps talking about the Lightning as if they’re some godsend (too much hype, remember?). That, or General Manager Julien BriseBois blows up the roster and/or Jon Cooper is fired as head coach.

Boston Bruins: Pros and Cons

The Bruins core remains strong among their forwards and as long as they’re able to negotiate an extension with RFAs Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo without any bumps in the road, then their defense is pretty sound too.

Jaroslav Halak signed a two-year deal last summer, so the 1A/1B tandem of Tuukka Rask and Halak in the crease seems fine for another run in 2019-20.

Boston exceeded expectations in 2017-18 and went under the radar in 2018-19– though they managed to amass only 10 losses in regulation since Jan. 1st, which means they were actually pretty loud in the points percentage column.

Injuries come and go.

If the Bruins are able to stay healthy instead of dropping like flies to their 12th defenseman on the depth chart, they might actually pick up a few more points than they did last season.

With Bruce Cassidy as head coach, things should remain status quo in the regular season, but Boston still needs to address their top-six forward problem.

David Pastrnak can play on the first or second line, but on any given night that leaves one of their top two lines in need of a scoring winger.

General Manager Don Sweeney managed to patch a hole at the third line center– acquiring Charlie Coyle as last season’s trade deadline loomed– and Coyle was one of their better players in their 2019 Stanley Cup Final postseason run.

But with a couple of depth signings for bottom six roles in the offseason (Par Lindholm and Brett Ritchie), everyone getting another year older and David Backes’ $6.000 million cap hit through 2020-21 still on the books, Boston’s hands are tied.

How would the Bruins fail?

There’s enough bark in the regular season, but not enough bite for a deep postseason run. It’s harder than ever before to make it back to the Stanley Cup Final in back-to-back seasons– and that’s before you consider age, injuries and regression.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Pros and Cons

Toronto has Auston Matthews as their second best center. Yes. Second best. Why? Because John Tavares enters the second year of his long-term seven-year deal that he signed last July.

That alone will continue to keep the Leafs afloat with a strong 1-2 duo down the middle.

Regardless of the Mitch Marner contract negotiations (or lack thereof), the Maple Leafs are just fine with their forwards– having traded Nazem Kadri to the Colorado Avalanche and acquiring Alex Kerfoot in the process (Calle Rosen and Tyson Barrie were also swapped in the deal).

Patrick Marleau is gone and it only cost Toronto a conditional 2020 1st round pick (top-10 lottery protected) and a 2020 7th round pick in the process, but an affordable Jason Spezza at league minimum salary ($700,000) on a one-year deal for fourth line minutes will do just fine.

By puck drop for the 2019-20 season, the Leafs will save $10.550 million in cap space thanks to David Clarkson (yes, his contract’s back after a trade with the Vegas Golden Knights that sent Garret Sparks the other way) and Nathan Horton’s placement on the long-term injured reserve.

The stars are aligning for Toronto to still need to get past the First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2004.

With Kadri gone, however, perhaps they will be able to do so with or without Boston in the equation.

How would the Leafs fail?

They don’t sign Marner and they lose in another Game 7 because of it. There’s a lot of turbulence ahead for Toronto General Manager Kyle Dubas considering the Leafs have one defender under contract after 2019-20. If the team doesn’t breakout in the postseason, it’s really just status quo until proven otherwise.

Florida Panthers: Pros and Cons

The Panthers are beginning to ripen with a mix of youth and experience among their forwards, plus a defense that quietly does their job.

They also added Noel Acciari, Brett Connolly, Anton Stralman and (most importantly) Sergei Bobrovsky to the mix.

While Acciari’s $1.667 million cap hit through 2021-22 is a slight overpay for a fourth line center, at least it could be worse. Connolly’s making $3.500 million for the next four years and even Stralman has a cap hit of $5.500 million through 2021-22 when he’ll be turning 36 on August 1, 2022.

Ok, so it was an expensive offseason for Florida– and that’s before you add the $10.000 million price tag for the next seven years of Bobrovsky in the crease.

Yes, despite landing one of the better goaltenders in the league in free agency, General Manager Dale Tallon managed to make matters complicated after, say, the fourth year of Bobrovsky’s contract.

Bobrovsky will be roughly 37-years-old by the time his contract with the Panthers expires and not everyone can be like Dwayne Roloson in the net forever.

At least they drafted Spencer Knight (in the first round– a goaltending prospect curse).

Though they missed the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs by 12 points for an Eastern Conference wild card spot, the Panthers are in a position to gain more than a few wins with new head coach (and three-time Stanley Cup champion) Joel Quenneville behind the bench.

How would the Panthers fail?

Florida’s already landed the biggest prize in head coaching free agency with Quenneville reuniting with Tallon in Sunrise. What could possibly go wrong (besides Tallon being replaced by a clone of Stan Bowman and then the Panthers go on to win three Cups without Tallon in command)?

Montreal Canadiens: Pros and Cons

Montreal didn’t get Matt Duchene or Sebastian Aho in free agency, so they got the next best thing– not overspending on July 1st.

That’s not to say Duchene and Aho aren’t quality players, but rather just an observation of cap concerns for the Habs with Max Domi as a pending-RFA in July 2020 and the rest of Montreal’s future core (Ryan Poehling, Nick Suzuki, Victor Mete, Cayden Primeau and Jesperi Kotkaniemi) to consider going down the road.

Granted, Aho could’ve sped the process up a bit if it weren’t for those pesky RFA rights and compensation in the CBA, right Montreal?

The Canadiens need a legitimate number one center, but General Manager Marc Bergevin has been preoccupied restructuring the defense in the meantime.

That’s not a bad thing.

Shea Weber is 34 and under contract through the 2025-26 season, though after 2021-22, his base salary drops to $3.000 million in 2022-23 and $1.000 million from 2023-26 (meaning he could be traded with ease in a few years, despite his $7.857 million cap hit).

But Karl Alzner and Jeff Petry are both over 30 and have no-trade and/or no-movement clauses in their contracts.

At least free agent addition, Ben Chiarot, is 28-years-old, but he also carries a no-trade clause as part of his three-year deal.

How would the Canadiens fail?

Claude Julien inexplicably reverts back to his old ways and doesn’t play the kids, Carey Price is injured for most of the season and/or Bergevin overcompensates in a trade because of his failure to secure a free agent center.

Detroit Red Wings: Pros and Cons

Steve Yzerman has come home and is rightfully the General Manager for the Red Wings, but as we’ve seen in Tampa, his masterplan takes a little time.

Detroit is four or five years out from being an annual Cup contender, but that doesn’t mean the Red Wings haven’t already sped things up in their rebuild.

Trading for Adam Erne isn’t a grand-slam, but it does make the average age of the roster a tad younger.

It also means that the Red Wings now have seven pending-RFAs on their NHL roster and roughly $37.000 million to work with in July 2020.

How would the Red Wings fail?

Having Yzerman in the front office at Little Caesars Arena is like adding all of the best toppings to a pizza. The only downside is that leftover pineapple is still on the pizza from all of the no-trade clauses delivered by the last guy.

Ottawa Senators: Pros and Cons

The Senators are looking to spend ba-by.

Just kidding, they don’t plan on being good until 2021, so does that mean starting with the 2020-21 season or the following year in 2021-22?

But they do have a ton of draft picks stockpiled including two in the 1st round in 2020, three in the 2nd round, one in the 3rd, 4th and 5th, a pair in the 6th and one in the 7th.

Plus they have roughly $15.600 million in cap space currently and eight players under contract for next season that aren’t on the injured reserve.

For some reason (Eugene Melnyk) current-RFA Colin White is still unsigned and 38-year-old, Ron Hainsey, was signed in free agency, but at least Cody Ceci is a Maple Leaf now.

Oh and former Leafs assistant coach D.J. Smith is Ottawa’s head coach now. That’ll show them!

How would the Senators fail?

More importantly, how would Ottawa succeed?

Buffalo Sabres: Pros and Cons

Pro: The Sabres will probably be better than last season.

Con: Ralph Krueger is Buffalo’s new head coach and nobody knows what to expect (he went 19-22-7 in the lockout shortened 48-game season with the Edmonton Oilers in 2012-13).

Pro: Only eight skaters are under contract next season.

Con: Only eight skaters are under contract next season, including Rasmus Ristolainen and nobody is sure whether or not the club is trying to trade him.

Pro: Marcus Johansson!

Con: Jimmy Vesey! (Only cost Buffalo two third round picks over three years to get him.)

Pro: The average age of the roster is about 26.

Con: Matt Hunwick is the oldest player at 34-years-old, followed by Carter Hutton at 33 and Vladimir Sobotka at 32.

Pro: Royal blue in 2020!

Con: It’s not until 2020.

How would the Sabres fail?

If Buffalo actually finishes last in the division, instead of any improvement whatsoever.

2019 NHL Awards Ceremony: DTFR Live Blog

While everyone awaits the dawn of the 2019-20 season, it’s time to wrap up the 2018-19 season with some wholesome family fun on a Wednesday night in Las Vegas.

Yes, it’s once again time for the National Hockey League to present its season awards to its members and gather around for an evening of B-list entertainment.

If– for some odd reason– you’re busy on a Wednesday night in June and can’t get your hockey fix– we’re here for you. Just follow along as we update the list of award winners as they’re announced.

And if you can tune in on TV, viewers in the United States can catch the 2019 NHL Awards Ceremony live from Las Vegas on NBCSN, while those in Canada can watch on Sportsnet at 8 p.m. ET.

Calder Memorial Trophy- Elias Pettersson, Vancouver Canucks

Other Finalists: Jordan Binnington (STL) and Rasmus Dahlin (BUF)

(best rookie/rookie of the year)

Art Ross Trophy- Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning

(presented to the player that led the league in scoring at the end of the regular season, awarded prior to Wednesday night)

Lady Byng Memorial Trophy- Aleksander Barkov, Florida Panthers

Other Finalists: Sean Monahan (CGY) and Ryan O’Reilly (STL)

(sportsmanship and ability, a.k.a. this player didn’t take a lot of penalties)

NHL General Manager of the Year Award- Don Sweeney, Boston Bruins

Other Finalists: Doug Armstrong (STL) and Don Waddell (CAR)

(best GM)

King Clancy Memorial Trophy- Jason Zucker, Minnesota Wild

Other Finalists: Oliver Ekman-Larsson (ARI) and Henrik Lundqvist (NYR)

(humanitarian/volunteering award)

Ted Lindsay Award- Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning

Other Finalists: Patrick Kane (CHI) and Connor McDavid (EDM)

(basically the “M.V.P.” as voted on by the NHLPA, a.k.a. the players)

James Norris Memorial Trophy- Mark Giordano, Calgary Flames

Other Finalists: Victor Hedman (TBL) and Brent Burns (SJS)

(best defender)

EA SPORTS NHL 20® Cover Athlete- Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs

Other Finalists: None

(not actually a curse)

Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy– Robin Lehner, New York Islanders

Other Finalists: Nick Foligno (CBJ) and Joe Thornton (SJS)

(perseverance and dedication to the sport)

Frank J. Selke Trophy– Ryan O’Reilly, St. Louis Blues

Other Finalists: Patrice Bergeron (BOS) and Mark Stone (VGK)

(best defensive forward)

Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy– Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals

(presented to the goal scorer who scored the most goals in the season, so this one was already technically awarded before Wednesday night)

Jack Adams Award– Barry Trotz, New York Islanders

Other Finalists: Craig Berube (STL) and Jon Cooper (TBL)

(best head coach)

Vezina Trophy– Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning

Other Finalists: Ben Bishop (DAL) and Robin Lehner (NYI)

(best goaltender)

William M. Jennings Trophy– Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss, New York Islanders

(presented to the goaltender(s) who allowed the fewest total goals against in the season, awarded prior to Wednesday night)

Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award– Wayne Simmonds, Nashville Predators

Other Finalists: Mark Giordano (CGY) and Justin Williams (CAR)

(something related to leadership and growing the game that Mark Messier picks)

Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award– Rico Phillips

Other Finalists: Anthony Benavides and Tammi Lynch

(presented to an “individual who– through the game of hockey– has positively impacted his or her community, culture or society[,]” as described by the NHL)

Hart Memorial Trophy– Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning

Other Finalists: Sidney Crosby (PIT) and Connor McDavid (EDM)

(regular season M.V.P.)

2018-19 Team and 2019 Postseason Awards 

President’s Trophy– Tampa Bay Lightning

(best record in the regular season, 2018-19)

Prince of Wales Trophy– Boston Bruins

(2019 Eastern Conference Champions)

Clarence S. Campbell Bowl– St. Louis Blues

(2019 Western Conference Champions)

Conn Smythe Trophy– Ryan O’Reilly, St. Louis Blues

(Stanley Cup Playoffs M.V.P. as determined by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association)

Stanley Cup– St. Louis Blues

(league champion, winner of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final)

DTFR Podcast #163- Cap’n Crunch

The salary cap isn’t going up as much as everyone hoped. Also, there were plenty of trades, buyouts and extensions handed out in the last week. Nick, Colby, Cap’n and Pete examine each move and pick 2019 NHL Awards winners.

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts (iTunes)Stitcher and/or on Spotify. Support the show on Patreon.

DTFR Podcast #154- Sweep City!

Nick, Colby and Pete assess the Philadelphia Flyers’ hiring of Alain Vigneault, the Los Angeles Kings’ hiring of Todd McLellan, where does this leave the Buffalo Sabres in their search for a head coach, as well as some of the good (CBJ and NYI sweep), bad and ugly from the ongoing First Round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts (iTunes), Stitcher and/oron Spotify. Support the show onPatreon.

2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round Preview: Eastern Conference

*cue Andy Williams*

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

The Stanley Cup Playoffs have returned and all is right with the world (unless your team missed the postseason).

In the past, we here at Down the Frozen River have covered every game of every series.

This year, we’re mixing it up a bit– starting with this preview of every First Round series in the Eastern Conference, continuing with a followup preview of every First Round series in the Western Conference and as much analysis as possible on the DTFR Podcast in addition to the blog.

Ch-ch-ch-changes are inevitable and yours truly cannot cover all 16 teams in the postseason alone.

A1 Tampa Bay Lightning (62-14-6, 128 points) vs EWC2 Columbus Blue Jackets (47-31-4, 98 points)

The Tampa Bay Lightning clinched the President’s Trophy (for the first time in franchise history) by mid-March and finished with the 4th most points in a season in NHL history, while star forward, Nikita Kucherov, amassed 128 points (the most by a Russian born player in a season) and Andrei Vasilevskiy (39-10-4 record, 2.40 goals against average, .925 save percentage in 53 games played) turned in a Vezina Trophy worthy performance in the crease.

Oh yeah and Steven Stamkos had 45 goals.

The Bolts also tied the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings for most wins in a regular season (62).

Backup goaltender, Louis Domingue (21-5-0, 2.88 GAA, .908 SV% in 26 GP) posted respectable numbers as well in the Lightning’s thunderous run through the season.

Tampa has home ice throughout the playoffs and kicks things off with a First Round matchup against the Columbus Blue Jackets, who punched their ticket to the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a, 3-2, shootout victory over the New York Rangers last Friday– eliminating the Montreal Canadiens from postseason contention in the process.

Columbus was all over the Metropolitan Division this season, but went all-in at the trade deadline, adding Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel, Adam McQuaid and Keith Kinkaid for the stretch run.

Duchene and Dzingel quickly fit in to their respective top-nine roles, while McQuaid struggled to find a suitor on the blue line at first in his return to the organization that originally drafted him 55th overall in the 2005 NHL Draft before he was traded to the Boston Bruins and broke into the league with the B’s in 2009-10.

Kinkaid was added solely for goaltending depth as pending-unrestricted free agent, Sergei Bobrovsky (37-24-1, 2.58 GAA, .913 SV% in 62 GP) led the league with nine shutouts on the season.

Blue Jackets backup goaltender, Joonas Korpisalo (10-7-3, 2.95 GAA, .897 SV% in 27 GP) hit some rough patches at times, but found a way to dig his team out from the backend when necessary.

In the grand scheme of things, the Bolts won the season series, 3-0-0, and outscored Columbus, 17-3, in that span.

While many consider Columbus as a Stanley Cup Playoffs pushover– given the franchise has never won a series– Blue Jackets head coach, John Tortorella always poses a tough challenge that can wear down his opponent.

Lightning head coach, Jon Cooper, earns his own merit in his ability to keep his players cool, calm, collected and always in comeback mode, but it’s not unfathomable to see the Blue Jackets pestering Tampa about as much– if not more than– Columbus did to Washington in last season’s First Round matchup.

After all, the Blue Jackets did lead that series, 2-0.

That said, this is Tampa’s year for a Cup run or bust. The Lightning should win the series in six games.

Regular season outcomes:

5-1 TBL at Nationwide Arena on Feb. 18th, 4-0 TBL at Amalie Arena on Jan. 8th, 8-2 TBL at Amalie Arena on Oct. 13th

Schedule:

4/10- Game 1 CBJ @ TBL 7 PM ET on USA , SN360, TVAS

4/12- Game 2 CBJ @ TBL 7 PM ET on CNBC, SN360, TVAS

4/14- Game 3 TBL @ CBJ 7 PM ET on NBCSN, SN360, TVAS

4/16- Game 4 TBL @ CBJ 7 PM ET on CNBC, SN360, TVAS

4/19- Game 5 CBJ @ TBL*

4/21- Game 6 TBL @ CBJ*

4/23- Game 7 CBJ @ TBL*

*If necessary

A2 Boston Bruins (49-24-9, 107 points) vs A3 Toronto Maple Leafs (46-28-8, 100 points)

For the second season in a row, the Boston Bruins are hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs in the First Round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Despite being without Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara at one point this season, the Bruins rallied from their 12th defenseman on up through the rest of the lineup to finish one win shy of consecutive 50-win seasons in Bruce Cassidy‘s third season (second full season) as head coach.

Speaking of Bergeron, however, the perfect two-way center finished the season with a career-high in points (79) and matched his career-high in goals (32) while battling injury early in the season. Bergeron’s 32-47–79 totals came in just 65 games. That’s only one more game played than last season for No. 37 in black-and-gold.

Meanwhile, his linemates, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak each reached milestones of their own. Marchand reached the 100-point plateau this season and became the first Bruin to do so since Joe Thornton recorded 101 points in 2002-03.

The “Little Ball of Hate” also set a career-high in assists (64) and was not suspended in 79 games played this season (he was rested for the final two games in the regular season and missed one game due to injury).

Pastrnak set a career-high in goals (38) and points (81) despite missing time due to a left thumb injury and being limited to 66 games played.

The B’s were led in net this season by Tuukka Rask (27-13-5, 2.48 GAA, .912 SV% in 46 GP) and Jaroslav Halak (22-11-4, 2.34 GAA, .922 SV% in 40 GP) in a 1A/1B scenario. For the first time since the 1989-90 season, Boston had two goaltenders with 20-plus wins.

Back north in Toronto, the Maple Leafs added a formidable center in John Tavares in free agency and his presence was immediate, notching career-highs in goals (47 ) and points (88) in 82 games.

Auston Matthews (37-36–73 totals in 68 games) and Mitch Marner (26-68–94 totals in 82 games) continued to their thing as the $11.634 million man (starting next season) and the soon to be at least $10.000 million boy wonder man.

Maple Leafs General Manager, Kyle Dubas, added Jake Muzzin in January in a trade with the Los Angeles Kings in effort to shore up his blue line, however, questions remain as to how head coach, Mike Babcock will limit time on ice for veterans, like Ron Hainsey, and mix in more opportunities for Morgan Rielly (20-52–72 totals in 82 games) in his breakout season.

Boston won the season series, 3-1-0, outscoring Toronto, 16-10, in that span.

Some experts are picking the Bruins in five games. They also said similar things in 2013 and 2018. This series is going six games (at least), with Boston overcoming the Maple Leafs defense in Game 7, once again.

To their credit, Toronto always makes things interesting in what’s likely to be the most unpredictable First Round matchup.

Regular season outcomes:

3-2 BOS at Scotiabank Arena on Jan. 12th, 6-3 BOS at TD Garden on Dec. 8th, 4-2 TOR at Scotiabank Arena on Nov. 26th, 5-1 BOS at TD Garden on Nov. 10th

Schedule:

4/11- Game 1 TOR @ BOS 7 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS

4/13- Game 2 TOR @ BOS 8 PM ET on NBC, CBC, TVAS

4/15- Game 3 BOS @ TOR 7 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, TVAS

4/17- Game 4 BOS @ TOR 7 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, TVAS

4/19- Game 5 TOR @ BOS*

4/21- Game 6 BOS @ TOR*

4/23- Game 7 TOR @ BOS*

*If necessary

M1 Washington Capitals (48-26-8, 104 points) vs EWC1 Carolina Hurricanes (46-29-7, 99 points)

Just as everyone expected, the Washington Capitals led the Metropolitan Division with 104 points after Barry Trotz left for the head coaching job on Long Island. Did I mention the Capitals are the defending Stanley Cup champions?

Anyway, Alex Ovechkin scored 51 goals and collected his 8th career Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy as a result– though Edmonton Oilers forward, Leon Draisaitl, was hot on his tail with 50 goals this season.

After the New York Islanders led the Metropolitan Division for what seemed like forever, it’s important to note the Metro was actually anybody’s game from puck drop in October. Here’s the thing, the Carolina Hurricanes were near the top of the division– they’ve been surging all season.

Speaking of surging, Carolina introduced their “Storm Surge” post-win celebration and the Caniacs loved it.

For those of you who haven’t been paying attention to the club in Raleigh, Brett Pesce is good. Also, Sebastian Aho (30-53–83 totals in 82 GP), Andrei Svechnikov (20-17–37 totals in 82 GP) and Teuvo Teravainen (21-55–76 totals in 82 games)– they’re pretty good too.

Washington was led by Braden Holtby (32-19-5, 2.82 GAA, .911 SV% in 59 GP) between the pipes this season and is comforted to know Pheonix Copley (16-7-3, 2.90 GAA, .905 SV% in 27 GP) is quite capable of playing this season’s role of Philipp Grubauer (since traded to the Colorado Avalanche after last season’s Cup celebrations).

The Canes were led by a duo of goaltenders who were once thought of as an after thought in Curtis McElhinney (20-11-2, 2.58 GAA, .912 SV% in 33 GP) and Petr Mrazek (23-14-3, 2.39 GAA, .914 SV% in 40 GP).

Though his record might not show it, Mrazek has been hitting his stride for the last month and is locked in. Ride that wave until it crests.

The Hurricanes had a league-leading ten skaters play in all 82 games. There’s no such thing as playing too much hockey– especially when it’s the first postseason appearance since 2009.

Last year, the Columbus Blue Jackets gave the Caps some interruptions coming out of the gate.

Despite Washington having swept the season series, 4-0-0, the Hurricanes kept things close in their most recent matchup with a, 3-2, loss at PNC Arena on March 28th.

Carolina almost pulled off the victory in a shootout on Dec. 14th, but lost, 6-5, on home ice to the Capitals.

Washington is beatable. Hurricanes head coach, Rod Brind’Amour knows that, his team just hasn’t done it yet. Caps head coach, Todd Reirden, is also making his postseason debut at the reigns behind the bench for his respective team.

Though they won the Cup last season– that was then. This is now.

This series is going seven games and the Hurricanes will make sure there’s no repeat Cup winner this year.

Regular season outcomes:

3-2 WSH at PNC Arena on March 28th, 4-1 WSH at Capital One Arena on March 26th, 3-1 WSH at Capital One Arena on Dec. 27th, 6-5 F/SO WSH at PNC Arena on Dec. 14th

Schedule:

4/11- Game 1 CAR @ WSH 7:30 PM ET on USA, SN360, TVAS2

4/13- Game 2 CAR @ WSH 3 PM ET on NBC, SN, TVAS

4/15- Game 3 WSH @ CAR 7 PM ET on CNBC, SN, TVAS2

4/18- Game 4 WSH @ CAR 7 PM ET on TBD, SN360, TVAS

4/20- Game 5 CAR @ WSH*

4/22- Game 6 WSH @ CAR*

4/24- Game 7 CAR @ WSH*

*If necessary

M2 New York Islanders (48-27-7, 103 points) vs M3 Pittsburgh Penguins (44-26-12, 100 points)

Barry Trotz figured out how to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins last season with the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals. Trotz is the key. Trotz knows the secret stuff to beat Mike Sullivan and his Penguins.

That’s why the William M. Jennings Trophy winning duo of Robin Lehner (25-13-5, 2.13 GAA, .930 SV% in 46 GP) and Thomas Greiss (23-14-2, 2.28 GAA, .927 SV% in 43 GP) will backstop the New York Islanders past Pittsburgh in their First Round matchup in six games.

Am I getting ahead of myself? Probably.

New York split the season series with the Pens, 2-1-1, with their most recent result against Pittsburgh coming in a, 2-1, shootout loss on Dec. 10th at NYCB Live (that’s the Nassau Coliseum, if you haven’t already heard. The Isles will host their First Round games there).

Islanders General Manager Lou Lamoriello put together a team without John Tavares. Trotz figured out how to get the most out of his players– guys like Matt Martin, Leo Komarov, Casey Cizikas and even Andrew Ladd (until Ladd got injured)– while playing the trap.

That same trap won the Cup last season.

This season, Trotz has Mathew Barzal and Anders Lee as his main attractions instead of names like Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov.

Long Island residents have long memories– the Penguins are one of their greatest rivals– and the added energy of Tavares’ departure has only fueled more passion all season long.

Can New York flip the switch from their late season bumps in the road?

Obviously, Pittsburgh has Sidney Crosby. They also have Evgeni Malkin. Crosby and Malkin are ready to go for another deep postseason run after watching their biggest rival not only beat them in the Second Round last year, but go on to take the Cup out of the hands of the Penguins’ recent streak of dominance in 2016 and 2017.

Patric Hornqvist is also another silent killer option for Sullivan when his team needs a clutch goal– and that’s on top of Jake Guentzel and Phil Kessel throughout the rest of the lineup.

The Penguins were led in the crease by Matt Murray (29-14-6, 2.69 GAA, .919 SV% in 50 GP) this season with some helpful bailout backup goaltending from Casey DeSmith (15-11-5, 2.75 GAA, .916 SV% in 36 GP). If Murray shows any signs of wavering, Sullivan shouldn’t have a hard time going to DeSmith to push his team over the edge.

How will Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann play into the fold as Jim Rutherford‘s biggest prize acquisitions this season? Who might be the breakout star for Pittsburgh that outshines Crosby in the Conn Smythe Trophy vote?

Aren’t these questions supposed to be answered in an editorial preview? Sure.

Regular season outcomes:

2-1 F/SO PIT at NYCB Live on Dec. 10th, 6-2 PIT at PPG Paints Arena on Dec. 6th, 3-2 F/SO NYI at Barclays Center on Nov. 1st, 6-3 NYI at PPG Paints Arena on Oct. 30th

Schedule:

4/10- Game 1 PIT @ NYI 7:30 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, TVAS2

4/12- Game 2 PIT @ NYI 7:30 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, TVAS2

4/14- Game 3 NYI @ PIT 12 PM ET on NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS

4/16- Game 4 NYI @ PIT 7:30 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, TVAS2

4/18- Game 5 PIT @ NYI*

4/20- Game 6 NYI @ PIT*

4/22- Game 7 PIT @ NYI*