The 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers and Round Robin tournament are almost underway, but this episode has almost nothing to do with that!
Charlie Coyle scored two goals in the Boston Bruins’, 4-2, victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday afternoon at TD Garden– extending Boston’s winning streak to six-games in the process.
In the meantime, Arizona has not defeated the Bruins in their last 16 meetings.
Tuukka Rask (20-4-6 record, 2.15 goals against average, .930 save percentage in 31 games played) stopped 29 out of 31 shots faced for a .935 SV% in the win for Boston.
The Bruins goaltender improved to 12-0-6 at TD Garden this season, which is the best home point streak record to start a season in B’s franchise history– surpassing Gilles Gilbert’s record set in the 1970-71 season.
Only Bill Durnan (25 games with a point in 1943-44 with the Montreal Canadiens) and Tony Esposito (20 games with a point in 1970-71 with the Chicago Blackhawks) had longer point streaks in NHL history.
Rask is now tied with Evgeny Nabokov (18-game point streak in 2008-09 with the San Jose Sharks), Ken Dryden (18-game point streak in 1978-79 with the Canadiens) and Billy Smith (18-game point streak in 1977-78 with the New York Islanders).
Coyotes goaltender, Adin Hill (2-3-2, 2.54 GAA, .918 SV% in 11 games played), made 29 saves on 32 shots against for a .906 SV% in the loss.
Boston improved to 34-10-12 (80 points) on the season and remain atop the NHL standings, as well as the Atlantic Division, while Arizona fell to 27-23-7 (61 points) and stuck in 4th place in the Pacific Division.
The B’s also improved to 19-2-9 at home this season and have won seven out of their last eight games.
The last time the Bruins lost to the Coyotes was on Oct. 9, 2010, when both teams opened the 2010-11 season with a pair of games against each other in Prague, Czech Republic. Boston lost the first game, 5-2, on Oct. 9th before defeating the then known as Phoenix Coyotes, 3-0, on Oct. 10th.
The Bruins were without the services of Kevan Miller (knee), Connor Clifton (upper body), Joakim Nordstrom (allergy complications) and Brandon Carlo (personal leave) on Saturday.
Danton Heinen served as the only healthy scratch for Boston against the Coyotes.
Clifton participated in practice with the rest of the team, but in a red non-contact sweater, while Nordstrom and Carlo are expected to join the rest of the team in Detroit on Sunday (with Carlo at least being re-inserted into the lineup).
As a result of Carlo’s personal matters, John Moore was the only change to Bruce Cassidy’s lineup from Wednesday night’s, 2-1, overtime win in Chicago to Saturday afternoon’s meeting with Arizona.
Moore was paired with Torey Krug on the second defensive pairing for Boston.
Meanwhile, Karson Kuhlman and Jeremy Lauzon were reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Thursday and subsequently recalled on Friday in a paper transaction for salary cap related purposes.
Prior to the game, Boston honored their captain, Zdeno Chara, for having surpassed 1,500 career NHL games played and 1,000 career games played as a Bruin earlier in the season.
Midway through the opening frame, Charlie McAvoy hooked Taylor Hall and was sent to the penalty box with a minor infraction at 9:09 of the first period.
The Coyotes did not convert on their first power play opportunity of the afternoon.
Late in the first period, Conor Garland presented the Bruins with their first skater advantage of the game after Garland caught Chara with a high stick at 14:06.
The B’s did not score on the ensuing power play.
Moments later, Lauzon unintentionally returned the favor and caught Vinnie Hinostroza with a high stick at 17:27– yielding a power play to Arizona, but the Coyotes weren’t able to capitalize on their second power play of the game.
Less than 20 seconds after getting out of the box, Lauzon charged down the ice in a race for a loose puck that Derek Stepan got to first, then delivered a miscalculated check on the vulnerable Arizona skater and was assessed a match penalty for an illegal hit to the head at 19:39 of the first period.
The Coyotes earned a five-minute major power play as a result that would carry over into the second period as the horn sounded on the opening frame with the score still tied, 0-0.
Boston led in shots on goal (9-6), blocked shots (7-4), takeaways (3-2) and faceoff win percentage (58-42), while Arizona led in giveaways (6-0) and hits (8-7) after 20 minutes of play.
Entering the first intermission, the Coyotes were 0/3 on the power play and the B’s were 0/1.
Boston almost made it the full five minutes without allowing a power play goal against until Phil Kessel (12) kicked off the game’s scoring with a garbage goal off a rebound to give Arizona the, 1-0, lead at 3:26 of the second period.
Kessel’s goal was unassisted and marked the 15th time this season that the Bruins gave up the game’s first goal on home ice.
A little over a minute later, Lawson Crouse was guilty of roughing McAvoy when he delivered a quick shot to the head while skating by at 4:46.
Seconds after their power play ended, Boston scored on a beautiful setup when David Krejci dropped a short pass back to McAvoy, who then managed to send a quick backhand pass over to Coyle (11) for the one-timed redirection from point-blank to tie the game, 1-1.
McAvoy (20) and Krejci (26) had the assists on Coyle’s first goal of the game at 6:50 of the second period.
Midway through the middle frame, Brad Richardson bumped into Chris Wagner without the puck and was charged with an interference minor at 11:59.
This time around, Boston was successful at capitalizing on the skater advantage as Patrice Bergeron won the faceoff to Brad Marchand, which led to Marchand tossing the puck back to the point whereby Krug corralled the puck and sent it across the blue line to David Pastrnak for the purposeful shot to the slot where Bergeron (23) outstretched his blade for the redirection goal to give the Bruins their first lead of the day, 2-1.
Pastrnak (38) and Krug (31) tallied the assists on Bergeron’s power play goal at 12:06 of the second period.
About a couple minutes later, Niklas Hjalmarsson hooked Wagner and was assessed a minor penalty at 14:13.
This time the Bruins took a few extra seconds before hitting the back of the twine on a Jake DeBrusk (18) tip-in from the doorstep off of another shot from Pastrnak from the faceoff circle.
Pastrnak (39) and Bergeron (22) notched the assists on DeBrusk’s power play goal and the B’s led, 3-1, at 14:35.
Through 40 minutes of play on Saturday, the Bruins led, 3-1, on the scoreboard and shots on goal were even, 21-21. Boston also held the advantage in blocked shots (11-7), takeaways (5-2) and hits (14-12), while Arizona led in giveaways (10-2) and faceoff win% (56-44).
The Coyotes were 1/4 on the skater advantage, while Boston was 2/4 on the power play heading into the third period.
Just 26 seconds into the third period, Jakob Chychrun (11) sent a shot off of Rask’s glove and into the twine– cutting Boston’s lead in half to just one goal.
Clayton Keller (22) and Hinostroza (15) notched the assists on Chychrun’s goal.
Until about 1:40 remaining in regulation, both teams swapped chances, but neither team committed a penalty nor scored a goal.
With less than two minutes left in the game, Coyotes head coach, Rick Tocchet, pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker, but it was not enough for Boston’s defensive efforts in their own zone as Coyle (12) cleared a loose puck from his own end down the ice and into the open twine at 19:11 of the third period.
Bergeron (23) recorded the only assist on Coyle’s empty net goal and the Bruins secured the, 4-2, win against Arizona as a result.
At the final horn, Boston finished the afternoon leading in shots on goal (33-31), blocked shots (15-12), hits (21-15) and faceoff win% (52-48).
Arizona, meanwhile, led in giveaways (14-5) and finished the game 1/4 on the power play.
The B’s went 2/4 on the skater advantage on Saturday and improved to 10-1-6 when tied after one period, as well as 18-1-6 when leading after two periods this season.
Boston travels to Detroit to face the Red Wings on Sunday afternoon before returning home for a two-game homestand against the Montreal Canadiens next Wednesday (Feb. 12th) and Red Wings next Saturday (Feb. 15th) before going on a four-game road trip with stops against the New York Rangers, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks.
A wild night at TD Garden led to ten goals combined as Brad Marchand scored the game-winner late in the third period on a wacky play before Patrice Bergeron added an empty net goal to lift the Boston Bruins over the Pittsburgh Penguins, 6-4, on Monday.
Jaroslav Halak (4-1-1 record, 2.83 goals against average, .917 save percentage in six games played) made 40 saves on 44 shots faced (.909 SV%) in the win for Boston.
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh starter, Matt Murray (7-3-1, 2.35 GAA, .917 SV% in 12 games played), stopped eight shots on 11 shots against for a .727 SV% before being replaced by Tristan Jarry (1-3-0, 2.25 GAA, .929 SV% in four games played), who made 12 saves on 14 shots for an .857 SV% in 34:37.
The Bruins improved to 11-1-2 (24 points) on the season and remained in 1st place in the Atlantic Division, while the Penguins fell to 8-6-1 (17 points), but didn’t move from 4th place in the Metropolitan Division.
Marchand had 2-3–5 totals for his 2nd five-point night of the season and the 5th five-point night of his career.
According to the NHL’s PR department, the 2019-20 season marks the third consecutive season in which the Bruins (8-0-2 in their last 10 games) have posted at least one point streak of 10 or more games. The longest such run in franchise history spanned five seasons from 1975-76 to 1979-80.
Kevan Miller (knee) was still in a red no-contact sweater at practice and John Moore (shoulder) was still out of the lineup on Monday. Both players have yet to debut this season and have missed the first 14 games.
Karson Kuhlman (fractured tibia), Joakim Nordstrom (elbow) and Par Lindholm (upper body) all remained out of the lineup for Boston due to their various injuries, but Brett Ritchie returned after missing Saturday night’s game against the Ottawa Senators due to an infection.
David Backes (upper body), however, joined the long list of injuries for the Bruins and is doubtful for Monday and Tuesday’s action, but feeling better since being injured against Ottawa.
As a result of all the injuries and with the penalty kill in mind, according to head coach, Bruce Cassidy, Peter Cehlarik was assigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) and Cameron Hughes was recalled from Providence on Monday.
Hughes made his NHL debut against the Penguins Monday night on the fourth line with Sean Kuraly at center and Chris Wagner back on the right side.
He has two goals and four assists (six points) in 13 games with Providence this season and tallied 13-15–28 totals in 52 games with the Baby Bruins last season.
Cassidy placed Ritchie back on the third line right wing with Anders Bjork and Charlie Coyle and replaced Steven Kampfer with Connor Clifton on the third defensive pairing as planned after Clifton served as a healthy scratch against the Senators to keep Kampfer fresh.
Kampfer was the only healthy scratch for the B’s against Pittsburgh.
The action between the Bruins and Penguins on Monday night kicked off with a tremendous pace that had no stoppages for the opening 4:44 span of non-stop action.
Less than a minute later, Jake DeBrusk (3) intercepted a pass in the neutral zone, skated around a Pittsburgh defender and fired shot over Murray’s blocker on the short side to give Boston the game’s first lead, 1-0.
DeBrusk’s individual effort was unassisted at 5:24 of the first period.
Almost five minutes later, David Krejci was guilty of tripping Pens forward, Jared McCann, at 9:04 and was sent to the penalty box, yielding the first power play of the night to Pittsburgh.
The B’s killed off Krejci’s minor with ease as Halak robbed Sidney Crosby with the glove while the Penguins were on the skater advantage.
Midway through the first period, Zdeno Chara let go of a shot that found its way to David Pastrnak for a deflection.
The loose puck bounced wildly in the low slot, whereby Marchand (9) batted it out of the air and over Murray’s glove from point blank to give Boston a two-goal lead.
Pastrnak (15) and Chara (3) tallied the assists on Marchand’s goal and the Bruins led, 2-0, at 13:05.
With the goal, Marchand extended his current point streak to 13 games– becoming just the 3rd Bruin in the last 25 years to record a point streak of at least 13 games in franchise history, joining Phil Kessel and Adam Oates.
Meanwhile, Pastrnak collected his 28th point in 14 games this season– tying his career-high 12-game point streak in the process, set from Nov. 22- Dec. 18, 2017– becoming just the first player to record 28 points in 14 games to begin a season since Peter Forsberg and Daniel Alfredsson did so with the Philadelphia Flyers and Ottawa Senators, respectively, in the 2005-06 season.
Late in the period, Kris Letang slashed Marchand and was assessed a minor penalty that resulted in a Bruins power play extending into the second period, since the B’s couldn’t capitalize on their chances before the horn signaled the end of the first period.
Entering the first intermission, Boston led, 2-0, on the scoreboard and, 10-9, in shots on goal.
Pittsburgh held the advantage in every other statistical category, however, leading in blocked shots (3-2), takeaways (2-1), giveaways (6-1), hits (11-7) and faceoff win percentage (62-39).
Both teams were 0/1 on the power play heading into the second period.
A couple of minutes into the middle frame, Evgeni Malkin made a pass behind his back to Alex Galchenyuk to send the Penguins forward in all alone on a breakaway against Halak, but the Bruins netminder stopped Galchenyuk’s attempt with a leg pad.
Moments later, Pastrnak (14) sent a wrist shot over Murray’s blocker for a top-shelf goal and his 29th point of the season.
Marchand (16) and Brandon Carlo (4) collected the assists on Pastrnak’s goal as Boston extended their lead to three unanswered goals at 4:22 of the second period.
With the score reading, 3-0, for the Bruins, Penguins head coach, Mike Sullivan, replaced Murray with Jarry and effectively made his own timeout without using his timeout.
The Pens reset and began a four-unanswered goal charge right back into the game– taking the lead in the process.
First, Justin Schultz sent a shot intentionally wide of the net to force a carom over to McCann in the corner, who then tossed a pass through the low slot for Dominik Kahun (2) to send the puck past Halak with a one-timer as the Boston goaltender was forced to push side-to-side in the crease.
Pittsburgh was on the board, 3-1, while McCann (2) and Schultz (6) nabbed the assists at 5:35 of the second period.
Roughly four minutes later, a poor line change for the Bruins exposed their defense to a stretch pass from Letang up ice to Nick Bjugstad (1) for the breakaway and snap shot goal, bringing the Penguins to within one.
Letang (8) and Brian Dumoulin (4) notched the assists on Bjugstad’s first goal of the season at 9:56.
Nearly six minutes later– on almost the same play– Malkin received a stretch pass through the neutral zone, spun, and threw the puck to Bryan Rust (2) whereby Rust broke free of the B’s defense and scored on a quick shot from close range, tying the game, 3-3.
Malkin (1) and Galchenyuk (3) were credited with the primary and secondary assists, respectively, as the Penguins tied the game at 15:59 of the middle frame.
Boston had given up three unanswered goals almost as quick as they had scored three unanswered goals to begin the game.
John Marino tripped Bergeron at 17:50 and sent the Bruins on their second power play of the night.
Seven seconds into the vulnerable minute after special teams play, Marino was freed from the box and lucked out into a puck that split Boston’s defenders and was unattended in the neutral zone.
Marino (1) completed Pittsburgh’s comeback with a breakaway goal– his first career NHL goal– in front of his hometown crowd, giving the Pens their first lead of the night, 4-3, at 19:57 on an unassisted effort.
After 40 minutes of action in Boston on Monday night, the Penguins led the Bruins, 4-3, on the scoreboard and dominated shots on goal, 30-16– including a, 21-6, advantage in shots on net in the second period alone.
Boston led in blocked shots (8-7), while Pittsburgh led in takeaways (4-2), hits (19-15) and faceoff win% (57-43) entering the second intermission.
Both teams had eight giveaways aside, while the Penguins were 0/1 on the power play and the B’s were 0/2 on the skater advantage heading into the final frame of regulation.
Midway through the third period, Carlo and Zach Aston-Reese received roughing minors after getting into a skirmish post-whistle at 7:02 of the final frame.
The two teams played 4-on-4 for two minutes until full strength resumed, but in the meantime, Boston went to work on tying the game while even at four skaters aside.
Marchand kept the play alive in the offensive zone at the point while protecting the puck and sent a pass to Torey Krug for a one-timer while the Bruins defender was down by the goal line in the attacking zone.
Krug (2) rocketed his shot past Jarry for the tying goal, 4-4, at 8:14 of the third period as Marchand (17) and Krejci (3) picked up the assists.
Nearly a few minutes later, Bjugstad caught DeBrusk with a high stick at 11:47 and was sent to the sin bin for his minor infraction.
The Bruins did not score on the ensuing power play and nearly gave up a short handed goal against as Rust broke into the zone, but was denied by Halak while Charlie McAvoy crashed into the net– head first– while racing back to bail out his goaltender.
McAvoy skated off on his own while bleeding profusely after Boston’s head athletic trainer, Don DelNegro, attended to the young defender.
Nearly four minutes after McAvoy went down with an injury, Krug appeared to have been cut in a melee in front of the net after Pittsburgh thought they had scored with 2:59 remaining in the game, but had actually knocked the net off of its moorings by their own volition as Rust had bumped the net off its pegs while crashing into the goal.
Less than a minute later, Marchand (10) rang the post with a shot that bounced off the iron, then off of Jarry’s back and just across the goal line before Crosby got his stick on the puck and banked it out of the net, off of his goaltender and back into the net (as if it hadn’t already gone in the first time).
Needless to say, the Bruins had made it, 5-4, at 18:03 of the third period on a wacky bounce.
With nothing left to lose, Sullivan pulled Jarry for an extra attacker with about 80 seconds left in the game, but it was to no avail as Boston cleared the zone in the dying seconds.
Marchand freed the puck to Krejci who sent Bergeron (7) through the neutral zone for the empty net goal at 19:46– securing the victory for the Bruins, 6-4.
Krejci (4) and Marchand (18) tabbed the assists on Bergeron empty netter and Boston finished the night with the win at the final horn, despite being outshot by Pittsburgh, 44-26– including a, 14-10, advantage in the third period alone for the Pens.
The Bruins finished Monday night’s action leading in blocked shots (12-9), giveaways (13-11) and hits (29-26), while the Penguins left TD Garden leading in shots and in faceoff win% (54-46).
Neither team found any success on the power play with Pittsburgh going 0/1 on the skater advantage and Boston finishing the night 0/3.
The Bruins are 7-0-1 at home this season and are on a six-game winning streak.
The B’s improved to 8-1-0 when leading after the first period and have scored first in all eight of their home games so far this season, while progressing to 9-1-1 when scoring first this season.
Boston also improved to 1-0-1 when trailing after two periods this season as the Penguins fell to 5-2-0 when leading after 40 minutes.
The Bruins finished their three-game homestand 3-0-0and head up to Montreal to face the Canadiens on Tuesday before traveling to Detroit to face the Red Wings on Friday. Boston returns home on Nov. 10th for a two-game homestand against the Philadelphia Flyers (Nov. 10th) and Florida Panthers (Nov. 12th).
Brad Marchand scored the game’s only goal and Jaroslav Halak turned aside every shot he faced en route to the Boston Bruins’, 1-0, victory over the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on Saturday.
Halak (1-0-0 record, 0.00 goals against average, 1.000 save percentage in one game played) made 35 saves on 35 shots for his 1st shutout of the season (48th of his career).
Coyotes goaltender, Darcy Kuemper (0-2-0, 1.54 GAA, .945 SV% in two games played), stopped 25 out of 26 shots faced for a .962 SV% in the loss.
The B’s have won their last 15 games against Arizona, which is tied for the longest active win streak versus an opponent. The Tampa Bay Lightning have also won 15 in a row against the Detroit Red Wings.
Boston was once again without the services of Kevan Miller (knee), John Moore (shoulder) and Joakim Nordstrom (foot), but David Krejci (lower body) returned to the lineup Saturday night.
Krejci missed Thursday night’s season opener in Dallas and was a game-time decision both nights, but Bruce Cassidy told reporters prior to Saturday night’s game that he expected Krejci to play.
Cassidy also informed reporters that Nordstrom could return to the lineup during the road trip.
With Krejci back in the lineup– making his season debut– centering the second line, Cassidy moved Par Lindholm to the fourth line center and shifted Sean Kuraly to the left wing and Chris Wagner to the right wing.
As a result, David Backes joined Steven Kampfer on Boston’s list of healthy scratches.
Danton Heinen, Charlie Coyle and Brett Ritchie remained together on the third line, while the “Perfection Line” of Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak went untouched (as always).
On defense, Matt Grzelcyk and Connor Clifton remained as the third pairing with Miller and Moore out due to injury.
The last time the B’s lost to the Coyotes was on Oct. 9, 2010. That night, the game was in Prague, Czech Republic as part of the Compuware NHL Premiere that season. The team then known as the Phoenix Coyotes beat the Bruins, 5-2, in the 2010-11 season opener.
Boston went on to win the Cup that season, though.
Phil Kessel made his home debut for Arizona as the Coyotes played their first home game of the season at Gila River Arena on Saturday.
Midway through the first period, Charlie McAvoy was penalized for interference when he tied up Lawson Crouse for too long away from the puck.
Arizona went on the power play for the first time of the night at 13:01 of the first period and could not convert on the skater advantage.
Late in the opening frame, after defending multiple chances for the Coyotes, Boston worked their way into the attacking zone and cycled the puck to generate a shot on goal.
Marchand (1) unleashed a shot from the faceoff circle that squibbed through Kuemper to give the B’s the, 1-0, lead.
Bergeron (1) had the only assist on Marchand’s goal at 18:41.
After one period, the Bruins led, 1-0, on the scoreboard, despite trailing, 10-6, in shots on goal. Arizona also led in blocked shots (8-4), hits (11-9) and faceoff win percentage (59-41) entering the first intermission.
Boston led in giveaways (6-4), while both teams had three takeaways each. The Coyotes were 0/1 on the power play and the B’s had yet to see any action on the skater advantage heading into the second period.
Midway through the middle frame, Clifton and Crouse receiving roughing minors at 11:05 of the second period after a post-whistle scuffle.
After two minutes of 4-on-4 action, both sides resumed full strength with no issues.
Christian Dvorak caught Clifton with a high stick late in the period and presented the Bruins with their first power play opportunity of the night at 17:59 of the second period.
Eight seconds later, Pastrnak interfered with Michael Grabner while Grabner was on a shorthanded breakaway for Arizona.
Pastrnak was charged with an infraction at 18:07 and the two teams played 4-on-4 once again for 1:52.
The Coyotes couldn’t muster anything with their abbreviated power play thereafter.
Through 40 minutes of action, Boston still led on the scoreboard, 1-0, despite trailing in shots on goal, 21-15 (including an, 11-9, advantage in the second period alone for the Coyotes).
Arizona continued to lead in blocked shots (16-12), hits (20-18) and faceoff win% (67-33), while also taking the lead in takeaways (7-4) after two periods.
The B’s led in giveaways (9-6) and were 0/1 on the skater advantage entering the final frame of regulation. Arizona was 0/2.
Just 48 seconds into the third period, Karson Kuhlman was penalized for interference, but the Coyotes were unable to capitalized on the power play.
Less than a minute after killing off Kuhlman’s minor, the Bruins went on the power play thanks to Jordan Oesterle’s slashing infraction at 3:24 of the third period.
Boston did not score on the skater advantage.
With less than a minute remaining in the game, Coyotes head coach, Rick Tocchet, pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker, but it was too little, too late for Arizona as time expired
At the final horn, Halak and the Bruins locked up the, 1-0, shutout victory, while finishing the night trailing in shots on goal, 35-26.
Arizona also led in the final statistics for blocked shots (19-15), hits (27-25) and faceoff win% (65-35), while both teams managed 11 giveaways aside.
The Coyotes finished the night 0/3 on the power play and Boston went 0/2.
The Bruins improved to 2-0-0 on the season and are tied for 2nd in the Atlantic Division with the Buffalo Sabres, while Arizona fell to 0-2-0 and remain tied for 6th in the Pacific Division with the Vancouver Canucks.
Boston travels to T-Mobile Arena for a Tuesday night meeting with the Vegas Golden Knights before wrapping up their four-game road trip with a stop in Denver to face the Colorado Avalanche next Thursday.
The B’s will play the New Jersey Devils next Saturday in Boston’s home opener.
44-26-12, 100 points, 3rd in the Metropolitan Division
Eliminated in the First Round by the N.Y. Islanders
Additions: F Andrew Agozzino, F Alex Galchenyuk (acquired from ARI), F Dominik Kahun (acquired from CHI), F Brandon Tanev, D Pierre-Olivier Joseph (acquired from ARI), D John Marino (acquired from EDM), D David Warsofsky
Subtractions: F Matt Cullen (retired), F Phil Kessel (traded to ARI), F Ben Sexton (signed with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, AHL), F Garrett Wilson (signed with TOR), D Dane Birks (traded to ARI), D Macoy Erkamps (signed with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, AHL), D Olli Maatta (traded to CHI), D Ethan Prow (signed with FLA), D Blake Siebenaler (signed with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, AHL), D Chris Summers (DEL), D Jeff Taylor (signed with Hartford, AHL), D Chris Wideman (signed with ANA)
Still Unsigned: F Jimmy Hayes, G John Muse
Re-signed: F Zach Aston-Reese, F Joseph Blandisi, F Teddy Blueger, F Adam Johnson, D Marcus Pettersson
Offseason Analysis: Pittsburgh, your job is simple, keep everyone happy and don’t press the “panic” button– oh.
Penguins General Manager, Jim Rutherford, made a splash last offseason in free agency by adding Jack Johnson to the blue line. It wasn’t the right kind of splash, but rather more of an anchor falling into the depths of a body of water.
Suddenly, Pittsburgh’s defense went from fluid and ever-dynamic with Kris Letang at the helm to a liability with Johnson at the tail-end of his prime locked up to a long-term deal.
This offseason, Rutherford had one mission– don’t sign another bad contract– and you know what he did?
Rutherford rewarded Brandon Tanev’s talents in Winnipeg with a six-year contract worth $3.500 million per season and a modified no-trade clause.
This isn’t to say Tanev won’t make a fine specimen for a season or two with the Pens, but rather that it’s careless spending and term thrown around like this that gets teams in a jam.
Speaking of jams, the Penguins are currently in one with no cap space available and a strained relationship with at least one of their current players.
Evgeni Malkin apparently isn’t a fan of hot dogs and thought Phil Kessel was dragging the team down.
Therefore, the Russian forward presented Rutherford with an ultimatum– it was either Kessel or him.
As such, Rutherford relied on the cliché “Kessel is un-coachable” mantra and dealt the forward along with a prospect and a 2021 4th round pick to the Arizona Coyotes on June 29th for Alex Galchenyuk and Pierre-Olivier Joseph.
Galchenyuk was drafted by Montreal 3rd overall in 2012 and is a little familiar with the city, considering the 2012 NHL Entry Draft was held in Pittsburgh.
He also had half as many points (41) as Kessel (82) last season.
Now Kessel’s reunited with former Penguins assistant coach and current Coyotes head coach, Rick Tocchet. Meanwhile, Rutherford’s secretly hoping that trading away Kessel to please Malkin was enough.
If you’re worried about how the Penguins are going to makeup for Kessel’s offense, just remember that Pittsburgh also added Dominik Kahun (13-24–37 totals in 82 games last season) in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks that sent Olli Maatta to the Windy City.
Together, Kahun and Galchenyuk’s scoring totals mean the Penguins have a net loss of four-points from losing Kessel alone.
What’s that? We have to include Maatta’s totals too? In that case, Pittsburgh lost, let’s see here… 18 points by trading Maatta and Kessel for Kahun and Galchenyuk in the grand scheme, but hey the free agent addition of Tanev puts them at plus-15.
If this sounds like gambling to you, it’s because it is, probably.
Which is also another reason why the Pens supposedly shipped Kessel– known for his love of poker– to Arizona where Tocchet *puts sunglasses on* gambles.
None of this matters if the Penguins are playing craps with the standings by April and Mike Sullivan’s going to have to play the hand he was dealt.
Offseason Grade: F
Rutherford has fallen into the trap of rearranging deck chairs on a sinking ship as Malkin’s relationship with the team frays, bad long-term contracts are signed and other players are overpaid.
Penguins fans have had about a dozen solid years of status as a Cup contending organization, it’s only inevitable that the growth would stall and things would start to fall apart with or without warning (in fairness, Pittsburgh should have really seen it coming though).
Mitch Marner finally re-signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Boston Bruins announced a couple key extensions, more RFA deals were signed and the NHLPA decided not to re-open the current collective bargaining agreement as DTFR’s season previews continued with the Metropolitan Division.
39-35-8, 86 points, 4th in the Pacific Division
Missed the postseason for the seventh straight season
Additions: F Beau Bennett, F Andy Miele, D Aaron Ness
Subtractions: F Josh Archibald (signed with EDM), F Dave Bolland (retired), F Nick Cousins (signed with MTL), F Mario Kempe (signed with LAK), F Richard Panik (signed with WSH), F Emil Pettersson (SHL, reserve list), F David Ullstrom (KHL), D Dakota Mermis (signed with NJD), G Hunter Miska (signed with Colorado, AHL), G Calvin Pickard (signed with DET)
Still Unsigned: None
Re-signed: F Michael Bunting, F Lawson Crouse, F Hudson Fasching, D Dysin Mayo, G Adin Hill
Offseason Analysis: The acquisitions of Carl Soderberg and Phil Kessel turn the Arizona Coyotes from outsiders looking in to contenders in the playoff pack.
Arizona acquired Soderberg in a trade with the Colorado Avalanche on June 25th. The Coyotes dealt Kevin Connauton and a 2020 3rd round pick to the Avs in return.
The 33-year-old center brings some stability down the middle and is a pending-unrestricted free agent at season’s end.
Coyotes General Manager, John Chayka, made his biggest splash of the offseason four days after acquiring Soderberg when he traded Alex Galchenyuk and Pierre-Olivier Joseph to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Kessel, Dane Birks and a 2021 4th round pick on June 29th.
Arizona hasn’t been back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs since their defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings in five games in the 2012 Western Conference Final.
With Kessel’s boost in offseason incoming and a core group of players in Clayton Keller, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Jakob Chychrun, Christian Dvorak, Nick Schmaltz and Lawson Crouse, the Coyotes are building off of a solid foundation.
Kessel had 82 points in 82 games last season for Pittsburgh and he hasn’t missed a game since 2010. He had 34 goals and 58 assists (92 points) in 2017-18.
As long as Antti Raanta can stay healthy, the Coyotes are determined to move up in the standings– either landing themselves a divisional playoff berth or a wild card standing.
There’s really not much to it past that.
Arizona’s not rebuilding and not exactly retooling– they’re growing. They’re getting better and it’s only a matter of time as long as Chayka sticks to his plan(s).
Offseason Grade: B+
Even though Shane Doan spent his entire career with the Winnipeg Jets/Arizona Coyotes franchise, his later years were nothing spectacular and carried no true star power to the extent that Doan alone could win some games.
For the first time since Doan’s prime, Arizona has youth to kick things up a notch and a finisher in a big name. Whether or not Kessel returns to his goal scoring ways or continues to evolve as a playmaker remains to be seen, but Chayka had more than an average offseason in the Coyotes front office.