Using Qualifiers to enhance this postseason (it’s a breakdown of the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers and Round Robin action). Plus the Seattle Kraken!
The Boston Bruins routed the Washington Capitals, 7-3, on Monday night at TD Garden after scoring four goals in the first period on 11 shots.
Tuukka Rask (14-4-5 record, 2.32 goals against average, .923 save percentage in 23 games played) turned aside 39 out of 42 shots faced for a .929 SV% in the win for the Bruins.
Capitals goaltender, Braden Holtby (17-5-4, 2.87 GAA, .907 SV% in 27 games played) made seven saves on 11 shots against (6.36 SV%) before being replaced after the first period in the loss.
Ilya Samsonov (9-2-1, 2.39 GAA, .914 SV% in 13 games played) stopped three out of four shots faced (.750 SV%) for no decision after replacing Holtby for the final 40 minutes of action on Monday.
Boston improved to 22-7-9 (53 points) on the season and remained in 1st place in the Atlantic Division. Meanwhile, Washington fell to 26-7-5 (57 points) on the season and remained in 1st place in the
The B’s also improved to 13-1-8 at home this season with the victory.
Monday night marked the first time that the Bruins beat the Capitals at home since March 6, 2014. Gregory Campbell, Loui Eriksson and Brad Marchand each had a goal in Boston’s, 3-0, win that night.
Boston was without the services of Kevan Miller (knee), Karson Kuhlman (fractured tibia) and Zdeno Chara (infection) on Monday.
Miller missed his 38th game this season and has yet to make his season debut, while Kuhlman missed his 30th consecutive game since being injured in Toronto on Oct. 19th.
Chara, on the other hand, missed his 1st game this season due to injury after requiring surgery to take out the plates that were put in his jaw after originally breaking his jaw in Game 4 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final last June.
As a result, John Moore returned to the lineup and took over the left side of the top defensive pairing with Charlie McAvoy after missing the last two games with an illness.
Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made minor adjustments to his lineup, re-inserting Joakim Nordstrom on the fourth line while scratching Chris Wagner as a result.
Nordstrom returned to his fourth line left wing role, while Sean Kuraly moved up to the left side of the third line and Anders Bjork took over on the third line right wing with Wagner scratched.
Wagner and David Backes were the only healthy scratches for the B’s on Monday.
Nick Jensen caught Kuraly with a high stick and presented Boston with their first power play of the night at 1:30 of the first period.
The Bruins did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage.
Moments later, Radko Gudas hooked Marchand at 5:28 of the opening frame and the B’s went back on the power play.
Nine seconds into the ensuing skater advantage, Jake DeBrusk (9) slid a rebound through Holtby’s five-hole to give Boston their first power play goal of the night and the, 1-0, lead at 5:37.
David Krejci (18) and Matt Grzelcyk (8) had the assists on DeBrusk’s goal.
For the third time this season, the Bruins scored first against the Capitals. Boston went 0-1-1 in their previous meetings with Washington entering Monday.
Almost midway through the first period, McAvoy tripped Lars Eller and received a minor penalty at 8:54.
The Caps couldn’t convert on the resulting skater advantage.
Less than five minutes later, Marchand (19) followed up on a rebound and pocketed the puck in the twine for his first goal in 12 games at 13:29.
David Pastrnak (24) and McAvoy (13) tallied the assists on Marchand’s goal and the Bruins extended their lead to, 2-0.
Boston scored again, 27 seconds later, when Bjork (6) fired a one-timer through Holtby’s seven-hole to give Boston a three-goal lead.
Charlie Coyle (12) tallied the only assist on Bjork’s goal at 13:56 and the B’s led, 3-0.
Less than a minute later, Connor Clifton and Garnet Hathaway both skated to the penalty box at 14:46, presenting both clubs with two minutes of 4-on-4 action while Clifton was in the sin bin for slashing and Hathaway was in the box for cross checking.
A few minutes later, Washington found themselves on the penalty kill once again– only this time the Capitals were going to be short by two skaters.
Boston had a full two-minute 5-on-3 power play as a result of Jakub Vrana tripping Pastrnak and Evgeny Kuznetsov slashing Krejci at 17:25 of the first period.
Less than a minute later, Patrice Bergeron (14) tipped in a shot from Pastrnak over Holtby’s blocker and gave the Bruins a four-goal lead.
Pastrnak (25) and Krejci (19) notched the assists on Bergeron’s power play goal at 18:57 and the B’s led, 4-0.
Bergeron’s goal marked the first time that the Bruins had a four-goal lead over Washington since Oct. 30, 2002– when Cassidy was then head coach of the Capitals– according to 98.5 The Sports Hub’s, Ty Anderson.
It was also the first four-goal first period this season for Boston.
After one period of play on Monday, Boston led Washington, 4-0, on the scoreboard and, 11-8, in shots on goal.
The Bruins also held the advantage in takeaways (5-2), giveaways (5-2) and faceoff win percentage (64-36), while the Caps led in blocked shots (7-2) and hits (12-8) entering the first intermission.
Washington was 0/1 on the skater advantage, while the B’s were 2/4 on the power play heading into the middle frame.
Capitals head coach, Todd Reirden, replaced Holtby with Samsonov to start the second period and Washington limited Boston’s chances to score for the remainder of the night.
DeBrusk slashed Gudas at 2:05 of the second period and was sent to the penalty box as a result, but the Caps didn’t convert on the ensuing power play.
After killing off DeBrusk’s minor, Krejci was the next Bruin to take a skate to the sin bin and serve a minor infraction for tripping Dmitry Orlov at 5:06.
Wes McCauley blew the whistle to make the call despite Boston not having possession of the puck and a would be Washington own goal taking place at the same time, but the league ruled the play “not reviewable”.
In the meantime, Bruins defender, Torey Krug, quietly exited the game down the tunnel after taking a huge hit from Tom Wilson. Krug did not return in the third period and was ruled out for the night with an upper body injury as Boston later tweeted.
While shorthanded, Marchand sent Coyle (7) on a breakaway whereby the B’s third liner scored on Samsonov’s glove side for his 100th career NHL goal.
Marchand (34) had the only assist on Coyle’s shorthanded goal and the Bruins led, 5-0, at 6:55 of the second period.
Late in the middle frame, Alex Ovechkin (23) wired a shot over Rask’s blocker with traffic in front of the net to disrupt Rask’s shutout attempt and cut Boston’s lead to four goals.
Wilson (14) and John Carlson (35) had the assists as Washington trailed, 5-1, at 14:35.
Less than 20 seconds later, Carlson slashed Kuraly and was assessed a minor infraction at 14:53, but the B’s did not capitalize on the resulting power play.
Through 40 minutes of action on Monday, Boston led Washington, 5-1, on the scoreboard and trailed the Caps, 25-13, in shots on goal as Washington outshot Boston, 17-2, in the second period alone.
The Capitals also held the advantage in takeaways (8-7) and hits (25-16), while the Bruins led in blocked shots (10-8), giveaways (9-2) and faceoff win% (54-46) heading into the final frame of regulation.
Washington was 0/3 on the power play and Boston was 2/5.
Ovechkin kicked things off with a holding penalty at 4:59 of the third period, but Boston wasn’t able to convert on the ensuing power play and was caught with too many men on the ice in the vulnerable minute after their advantage ended at 7:28.
The Capitals, however, couldn’t score on the power play while DeBrusk served the bench minor.
Midway through the final frame of regulation, Wilson hit Pastrnak, then speared him, which led to the two players exchanging pleasantries near the benches and an ensuing scrum at center ice began between the two clubs.
Wilson and Pastrnak each received roughing minors at 13:26, but Wilson earned an extra misconduct for his actions.
Meanwhile, Boston had ended up with too many skaters as a result of a line change as things escalated between Pastrnak and Wilson, so Washington ended up with a power play opportunity as DeBrusk went back to the box to serve the Bruins’ bench minor.
Lars Eller (8) redirected Vrana’s shot under Rask’s glove and brought the Capitals to within three goals at 15:29.
Vrana (16) and Gudas (10) collected the assists on Eller’s goal as Washington trailed, 5-2, with less than five minutes left in the action.
Reirden pulled Samsonov for an extra attacker with about 3:40 remaining in regulation, but Krejci (8) tallied an empty net goal shortly thereafter once Kuraly picked off Ovechkin’s attempt to send the puck out of Washington’s defensive zone.
Kuraly (10) had the only assist on Krejci’s goal and the B’s led, 6-2, at 16:50 of the third period.
Less than a minute later, Hathaway (6) cleaned up a mishap to cut Boston’s lead to two goals as Jonas Siegenthaler bounced the puck off the endboards and Hathaway pounced on the loose puck for the goal.
Rask misread the play as his defenders opted not to reach for the puck thinking their goaltender would get it, but Rask thought his defense would get it instead and thus– Washington collected a goal as Boston was stuck in no man’s land.
Siegenthaler (6) had the only assist on Hathaway’s goal at 17:47 and the Bruins led, 6-3.
With 2:07 remaining in the game, Samsonov once again vacated the goal for an extra attacker, but Boston made sure to put the game away as Bergeron (15) collected his second goal of the game– this time on an empty net.
Bergeron’s empty net goal was assisted by Marchand (35) and Pastrnak (26) at 19:32 of the third period and sealed the deal on a, 7-3, victory for the Bruins.
This, after T.J. Oshie leveled McAvoy along the benches, ending the young defender’s night early, but avoiding any major injury as Cassidy indicated to reporters after the game.
Boston finished the night trailing Washington in shots on goal, 42-17, but led in blocked shots (13-10) and giveaways (10-8).
Meanwhile, the Capitals held the advantage in hits (40-19) and were even with the Bruins in faceoff win% (50-50) at the end of the game.
Washington went 0/5 and Boston went 2/6 on the power play on Monday.
The Bruins improved to 15-5-5 when scoring the game’s first goal, 13-3-1 when leading after the first period and 12-0-3 when leading after two periods this season.
Boston finished their four-game homestand (1-0-3) and enters the holiday break 21-7-9 overall on the season. The Bruins travel to Buffalo to take on the Sabres in a home-and-home on Dec. 27th before hosting Jack Eichel and his teammates on Dec. 29th. The B’s finish off the month of December in New Jersey on Dec. 31st.
Braden Holtby and the Washington Capitals came back to beat the Boston Bruins, 3-2, in a shootout on Saturday at TD Garden.
Holtby (10-1-3 record, 2.98 goals against average, .904 save percentage in 15 games played) is now 13-1-0 in his last 14 starts against Boston and made 21 saves on 23 shots against (.913 SV%) in the win for the Caps.
Jaroslav Halak (4-1-3, 2.57 GAA, .924 SV% in eight games played) stopped 42 out of 44 shots faced for a .955 SV% in the shootout loss.
Prior to puck drop, the Bruins held a moment of remembrance for Worcester firefighter, Jason Menard, who was killed while battling a fire on Wednesday.
Menard rescued a probationary firefighter and another member of his crew before a mayday was called around 1:32 in the morning after conditions worsened on the third floor of the three-decker building.
Before tonight’s game, we pause to remember the life of one of Worcester’s bravest, lieutenant Jason J. Menard. pic.twitter.com/MHyJ0N0xuD— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) November 17, 2019
The Bruins fell to 12-3-5 (29 points) on the season, but remain 1st in the Atlantic Division after the loss.
Meanwhile, Washington is still in command of 1st place in the Metropolitan Division with a 15-3-4 record and 34 points on the season so far.
Boston fell to 7-0-4 at home as a result of Saturday’s loss.
Steven Kampfer served as Boston’s only healthy scratch with Kevan Miller (knee), John Moore (shoulder), Karson Kuhlman (fractured tibia), David Backes (upper body), Jake DeBrusk (lower body), Brett Ritchie (upper body), Torey Krug (upper body) and Zach Senyshyn (lower body) out of the lineup due to injury.
Joining them in the press box Saturday night was Patrice Bergeron (lower body), who sustained some discomfort during Friday night’s matchup in Toronto.
As a result, Paul Carey was recalled from the Providence Bruins (AHL).
The 31-year-old center has 13 points (seven goals, six assists) in 17 games with Providence this season and skated in his 100th career NHL game as a result of being recalled on Saturday.
Krug, in the meantime, was placed on the injured reserve on Saturday, despite skating earlier in the morning with Ritchie, DeBrusk and Moore.
Of the injured Bruins, Ritchie is the closest to returning to the lineup, according to B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy.
Cassidy juggled his lines from Friday night to Saturday night thanks to Bergeron’s day-to-day status, moving David Krejci up to center the first line with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak as his wings, while reuniting Anders Bjork, Charlie Coyle and Danton Heinen as a trio on the second line.
Boston’s usual fourth liners– Joakim Nordstrom, Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner– were promoted to third line duties, while Trent Frederic, Par Lindholm and Carey comprised of the new fourth line for Saturday night’s action.
The defensive pairings remained the same from Friday night against the Maple Leafs to Saturday night against the Capitals.
Midway through the opening period, Pastrnak hooked Jakub Vrana and was sent to the penalty box. The Caps didn’t convert on the ensuing power play at 8:03 of the first period.
In the vulnerable minute after special teams play, Heinen worked the puck deep into Boston’s attacking zone, then sent a pass to Coyle (4) as Coyle crashed the net and redirected the puck through Holtby’s five-hole– giving the Bruins a, 1-0, lead at 11:32 of the first period.
Heinen (5) and Charlie McAvoy (5) notched the assists on the goal.
The goal extended Coyle’s current point streak to four games (a career-high).
Moments later, Travis Boyd (1) tipped in a shot from the point while standing in front of Halak, tying the game, 1-1, in the process.
John Carlson (24) and Brendan Leipsic (5) tallied the assists on Boyd’s goal at 14:27.
With less than a minute remaining in the opening frame, Radko Gudas hooked Marchand and was sent to the sin bin, leaving Washington shorthanded into the second period as Boston couldn’t score on the skater advantage before time expired in the first period.
After one period in Boston, the score was tied, 1-1, while the Capitals led in shots on goal, 18-9. It was the most shots allowed by the Bruins in the first period at any point this season, but the B’s led in blocked shots (4-0) and takeaways (4-3) to make up for it.
Washington also managed the advantage in giveaways (9-3), hits (13-11) and faceoff win percentage (72-28) entering the first intermission.
Both teams were 0/1 on the power play heading into the middle frame.
The Capitals killed off the remainder of Gudas’ penalty early in the second period as things resumed at TD Garden.
Early in the period, McAvoy missed an empty net, sending the puck wide and off the endboards, whereby Pastrnak (17) gathered the carom and banked the puck into the twine to give Boston the lead, 2-1, at 3:30 of the second period.
McAvoy (6) and Krejci (9) picked up the assists on the goal as the Bruins surged out of the gate for the middle frame before falling back on a heavy defensive presence in their own zone for the remainder of the period.
About a minute later, Heinen hooked Leipsic and was sent to the box at 4:42.
Washington did not convert on the resulting skater advantage and responded with a penalty of their own midway through the period.
Holtby tripped up Carey as the Bruins forward skated by the crease, yielding a minor infraction for the Capitals goaltender that was served by Leipsic at 10:05.
With 16 seconds left in the period, Evgeny Kuznetsov cross checked McAvoy and was charged with a minor penalty at 19:44, meaning the B’s would still be on the power play into the third period if they couldn’t score by the end of the second period.
Boston didn’t score and carried their advantage into the third period as the Bruins led, 2-1, through 40 minutes of action Saturday night.
The Caps led in shots on goal, 30-15, after two periods– including a, 12-6, advantage in the second period alone– and held the advantage in takeaways (9-8), giveaways (11-9), hits (21-16) and faceoff win% (72-28), while the Bruins led in blocked shots (10-0).
Washington was 0/2 on the power play through two periods and Boston was 0/3 on the skater advantage in that same span.
Midway through the final frame of regulation, Tom Wilson tried to mix things up with McAvoy after each player had big hits in the third period.
Wilson grabbed hold of McAvoy’s stick– but was not penalized for holding the stick– and exchanged words with the young defender until Bruins captain, Zdeno Chara, skated over to offer his opinion on the subject matter– at which point, Wilson fell over and the two (Chara and Wilson) were assessed roughing minors at 13:59 of the third period.
The two teams survived 4-on-4 action unscathed for two minutes before returning to full strength.
With 1:22 left in the third period, Capitals head coach, Todd Reirden, pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker and it was very effective.
T.J. Oshie (10) blasted a one-timer from the low slot over Halak’s glove side to tie the game, 2-2, at 19:01 of the third period.
Kuznetsov (11) and Nicklas Backstrom (13) had the assists on Oshie’s goal as Washington force overtime.
After regulation, the score was tied, 2-2, and the Caps led the B’s in shots on goal, 41-21– including an, 11-6, advantage for Washington in the third period alone.
Boston led in blocked shots (11-5), while Washington led in takeaways (14-12), giveaways (20-13), hits (28-23) and faceoff win% (66-34).
The Capitals finished the night 0/2 on the power play and the Bruins finished 0/3 on the skater advantage as there were no more penalties called after 60 minutes of play.
Kuznetsov, Carlson, Wilson, Coyle, Marchand and McAvoy were the starters in overtime for both teams as the two squads couldn’t get the job done in the five-minute allotted extra frame of 3-on-3 action.
Washington led in shots on goal, 3-2, in overtime alone, bringing their shot total advantage to, 44-23.
Boston finished the night leading in blocked shots (11-5), but trailing the Capitals in giveaways (20-15), hits (28-23) and faceoff win% (67-33).
In the shootout, the B’s elected to shoot second, yielding Oshie as the shootout’s first shooter for Washington.
Oshie skated his way in toward Halak and tried to fire one past the Bruins netminder’s glove, but Halak made the save.
Coyle followed up with Boston’s first attempt of the shootout and slid one through Holtby’s five-hole to give the Bruins a, 1-0, advantage after one shootout round.
Kuznetsov hit the post to the right of Halak and couldn’t muster the puck into the twine, leaving Pastrnak with the chance to win it as Boston’s second shooter.
Instead, Pastrnak went for the gaping five-hole that Holtby quickly squeezed his pads together to close after poking the puck off of Pastrnak’s stick and letting the rubber biscuit slide through his legs with just enough time to cover it comfortably.
Next up, Backstrom wired a shot into the back of the net on Halak’s glove side– keeping Washington’s shootout hopes alive.
With the game on his stick, Marchand tried to do exactly what every Bruin has done in just about every shootout attempt this season– aim for the five-hole.
Marchand was unsuccessful.
In the fourth round of the shootout, the Caps sent in their best shot– Alex Ovechkin.
Ovechkin tried to sneak it past Halak, low on his glove side, but the Boston goaltender dove in desperation and robbed the Washington captain– barely getting his glove around the puck before Ovechkin could sneak it over the goal line.
In response, Cassidy sent Krejci out to try to win the game with the last shot in the fourth round of the shootout.
But Krejci also opted for the predictable five-hole and did not score, leaving the fate of the game undecided.
Vrana opened the fifth round of the shootout with a toe-drag that left Halak doing the splits, which was just enough to let Vrana elevate the puck over Halak’s leg pads and into the net.
Boston had to score on their next shot or else the shootout (and the game) would be over.
As such, Wagner was presented the opportunity to extend the shootout, but he too, tried to go five-hole on Holtby, who didn’t face much pressure on the shot as the puck trickled through the crease and wide of the goalframe.
The Capitals had won.
Washington improved to 3-1 in shootouts this season, while Boston fell to 0-4 in such instances.
Holtby improved to 25-14 overall in shootouts in his career as Halak stumbled to 32-33 in shootouts.
The Bruins fell to 7-0-2 when leading after two periods this season and 10-2-3 when scoring the game’s first goal.
Boston travels to New Jersey to take on the Devils next Tuesday (Nov. 19th) before a two-game homestand against Buffalo (Nov. 21st) and Minnesota (Nov. 23rd).
The B’s close out November with back to back nights in Montreal (Nov. 26th) and Ottawa (Nov. 27th) before finishing the month at home against the New York Rangers in a Black Friday matinee on Nov. 29th.
48-26-8, 104 points, 1st in the Metropolitan Division
Eliminated in the First Round by Carolina
Additions: F Garnet Hathaway, F Brendan Leipsic, F Philippe Maillet, F Richard Panik, D Radko Gudas (acquired from PHI)
Subtractions: F Riley Barber (signed with MTL), F Mathias Bau (EBEL), F Andre Burakovsky (traded to COL), F Brett Connolly (signed with FLA), F Hampus Gustafsson (SHL), F Dmitrij Jaskin (KHL), F Jayson Megna (signed with COL), F Mason Mitchell (signed with Rochester, AHL), F Devante Smith-Pelly (signed to a PTO with CGY), F Nathan Walker (signed with STL), D Aaron Ness (signed with ARI), D Matt Niskanen (traded to PHI), D Brooks Orpik (retired), G Parker Milner (signed with Hershey, AHL)
Still Unsigned: F Scott Kosmachuk (rights acquired from COL)
Re-signed: F Chandler Stephenson, F Jakub Vrana, D Christian Djoos, D Colby Williams, G Vitek Vanecek
Offseason Analysis: The Washington Capitals have earned themselves a little grace period after winning the Cup in 2018, but don’t let that fool you from some of the poor choices they made this offseason.
Whether or not they would’ve had the money to keep Brett Connolly from joining the Florida Panthers in free agency after posting a career year with 22-24–46 totals in 81 games is besides the point.
The Caps made a lot of odd decisions.
For starters, they signed Garnet Hathaway (19 points in 76 games for Calgary last season), Brendan Leipsic (23 points in 62 games with Vancouver and Los Angeles) and Richard Panik (33 points in 75 gamed for Arizona).
Sure, Hathaway and Panik are durable top-nine forwards that are likely to see an increase in their offensive numbers by virtue of being on the same team as Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, but to have them for four years as your mid-range forwards with Carl Hagelin and Lars Eller might just catch up to you at some point.
At least Leipsic has always been in demand on waivers and is a good option to plug somewhere in the lineup or send down to the Hershey Bears (AHL).
Meanwhile, Capitals General Manager, Brian MacLellan, worked the phones this summer to trade Matt Niskanen to the Philadelphia Flyers for Radko Gudas in a one-for-one swap and dealt Andre Burakovsky to the Colorado Avalanche for Scott Kosmachuk (unsigned), a 2020 2nd round pick and a 2020 3rd round pick.
It might seem like an overpay for Avalanche GM, Joe Sakic, but Burakovsky’s looking to prove himself in the biggest role he’s ever had and it wouldn’t hurt Washington to restock their prospect pool as a result.
In the meantime, Gudas is almost assured of doing something to yield a suspension, which may or may not hurt the Capitals more than Evgeny Kuznetsov’s three-game suspension to start the regular season may already do.
Kuznetsov was suspended by the league for “inappropriate conduct”, in which he failed a drug test and was banned from international competition by the International Ice Hockey Federation for four years.
The NHL, on the other hand, doesn’t have a policy for testing positive for cocaine.
Washington’s head coach, Todd Reirden, is entering his second season at the reigns behind the bench and has plenty of fresh faces to utilize in effort to avoid another seven-game First Round elimination at the hands of the Carolina Hurricanes.
Don’t get too comfortable in Washington as Braden Holtby is due for an extension by season’s end or else he may walk in free agency.
Offseason Grade: D+
The Capitals could contend for another Cup in the next few years or they could continue to slide towards irrelevancy faster than the current trend the Pittsburgh Penguins are on.
Neither fan base wants to hear that, let alone be compared to one another in such a similar manner, but it’s true. None of their free agent additions even remotely scream “decent depth signing” or anything.
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.
37-37-8, 82 points, 6th in the Metropolitan Division
Only misses the postseason in odd years (2013, 2015, 2017, 2019)
Additions: F Andy Andreoff, F Kyle Criscuolo, F Kurtis Gabriel, F Kevin Hayes (acquired from WPG), F Tyler Pitlick (acquired from DAL), D Chris Bigras, D Justin Braun (acquired from SJS), D Matt Niskanen (acquired from WSH), D Nate Prosser, D Andy Welinski, D Tyler Wotherspoon, G Jean-Francois Berube
Subtractions: F Justin Bailey (signed with VAN), F Cole Bardreau (signed with NYI), F Greg Carey (signed with Lehigh Valley, AHL), F Byron Froese (signed with CGY), F Tyrell Goulbourne (signed with VGK), F Ryan Hartman (traded to DAL, signed with MIN), F Corban Knight (KHL), F Jori Lehtera (KHL), F Roman Lyubimov (KHL), F Phil Varone (signed with MTL), F Mike Vecchione (signed with STL), D Radko Gudas (traded to WSH), G Mike McKenna (retired), G Michal Neuvirth (signed a PTO with TOR), G Cam Talbot (signed with CGY)
Still Unsigned: F Travis Konecny, D Jacob Graves, D Ivan Provorov
Re-signed: F Nicolas Aube-Kubel, F Scott Laughton
Offseason Analysis: It’s the dawn of a new age for the Philadelphia Flyers. Gone are the days (hopefully) of the revolving door of goaltenders in a Flyers sweater as Carter Hart’s first full season is about to get underway– and with a stable defense in front of him too.
Last season, Philadelphia set an NHL record for the most goaltenders used in a season with seven different netminders.
This season, Philadelphia’s looking to set a record for the most current/former head coaches to be behind the bench at any given time as Alain Vigneault is the new head coach, while Mike Yeo and Michel Therrien are playing supporting roles as assistants.
General Manager, Chuck Fletcher, nabbed Kevin Hayes in June in a trade with the Winnipeg Jets– sending a 2019 5th round pick to the Jets in return.
Shortly after acquiring Hayes, the Flyers “re-signed” him to a seven-year, $50 million contract worth $7.143 million per season. He’s never scored more than 25 goals in a season and just had a career-high 55 points in 71 games with the New York Rangers and Winnipeg last season.
While Hayes certainly isn’t a standout superstar, he does solidify the top-six forward group and provides a long-term foundation for Philadelphia’s core with his seven-year deal.
Claude Giroux is only 31-years-old and signed through 2021-22 at $8.275 million per season and Jakub Voracek, 30, is signed through 2023-24 at $8.250 million per season.
Any contract with a cap hit under $9 million for your best players is considered a steal in today’s NHL, but not all “steals” are good contracts.
Regardless, Philadelphia has a versatile group of forwards and upgraded their defense over the offseason– something that was badly needed to help lessen the load on a high turnover of goaltenders over recent years.
Radko Gudas was traded to the Washington Capitals in a one-for-one deal that sent Matt Niskanen to the Flyers. Though Philadelphia retained 30% of Gudas’ salary ($1.005 million) in the deal, they did not keep any of his future suspensions in the transaction.
While Niskanen alone isn’t the most impressive thing in the world, adding Justin Braun to the mix that includes Niskanen, Shayne Gostisbehere, Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, Robert Hagg and Samuel Morin certainly is.
Provorov is still an unsigned restricted free agent with training camp opening later this week.
Braun was acquired by Philadelphia in a trade with the San Jose Sharks in which Fletcher gave up a 2019 2nd round pick and a 2020 3rd round pick to get the top-four defender while the Sharks were looking to unload salary now that they’ve locked up Erik Karlsson to an eight-year, $92 million extension.
The Flyers have made themselves into serious playoff contenders on paper, but the hard part still remains in front of them– actually making it.
Luckily for them, Vigneault has been to the Stanley Cup Final more recently than Philadelphia has as an organization.
Vigneault made it to the Final behind the bench of the Vancouver Canucks in 2011 and New York Rangers in 2014. His team lost in seven games in 2011 and in five games in 2014.
The Flyers lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games in the 2010 Stanley Cup Final.
To win the Cup– sometimes– it takes a couple of hardships first before the sweet taste of victory.
Philadelphia’s in “win now” mode. Future be damned.
They have $13.417 million in cap space with Travis Konecny and Provorov to re-sign, plus Nolan Patrick in the final year of his entry-level contract this season.
Offseason Grade: A-
Sure Hayes is overpaid and Vigneault, Yeo and Therrien are behind the bench, but Fletcher built a legitimate defense, a mix of youth and quality players in their prime, plus he has a dark horse in net.
How far can Philadelphia go? That remains to be seen, especially as some of the younger players don’t have a lot of playoff experience– if any at all. However, the Flyers are playoff contenders nonetheless and as long as you make the postseason, you have a chance of winning the Cup.
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
- y-Washington Capitals, 107 points
- x-Pittsburgh Penguins, 102 points
- x-Columbus Blue Jackets, 93 points
- wc1-New York Islanders, 91 points
- wc2-Philadelphia Flyers, 91 points
- New York Rangers, 89 points
- Carolina Hurricanes, 87 points
- New Jersey Devils, 84 points
Washington Capitals: Pros and Cons
Year after year, Washington finds themselves at the top of the Metropolitan Division with or without any sort of logical explanation.
The last time the Capitals didn’t finish 1st in the division? It was the 2014-15 season when the New York Rangers followed up a 2014 Stanley Cup Final appearance with 113 points and the President’s Trophy.
Once again, the Caps will find a way to turn things on late into the season and manage the top spot in the Metropolitan Division, but they’ll be doing so without a long list of members from their 2018 Stanley Cup championship roster.
After matching his regular season goal scoring total in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Devante Smith-Pelly wasn’t able to get back to form and subsequently reassigned to the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears during the 2018-19 season.
Now, he’s an unrestricted free agent.
Also departing Washington this summer were the likes of Brett Connolly (signed with Florida), Andre Burakovsky (traded to Colorado for Scott Kosmachuk, a 2nd round pick in 2020 and a 3rd round pick in 2020), Nathan Walker (signed with St. Louis), Matt Niskanen (traded to Philadelphia in exchange for Radko Gudas) and Brooks Orpik (retired)
Madison Bowey was traded to Detroit in February. Jakub Jerabek left via free agency last season and is now playing in the KHL. Philipp Grubauer was traded to the Avalanche last June. Jay Beagle signed with the Vancouver Canucks last July. Alex Chiasson joined the Edmonton Oilers last October.
With such a quick turnover in the makeup of their lineup, the Capitals’ championship window may already be closing– and fast.
At least Garnet Hathaway, Richard Panik and Carl Hagelin all signed four-year contracts with cap hits under $3.000 million.
How would the Capitals fail?
Radko Gudas and Tom Wilson end up suspended for the entire season somehow and get the rest of the Capitals in trouble for something.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Pros and Cons
Phil Kessel is signed through 2021-22 at $6.800 million per season. Alex Galchenyuk is signed through 2019-20 with a cap hit of $4.900 million.
Using the money saved from trading Kessel to Arizona and hoping Galchenyuk will suddenly become a 30 or 40 goal scorer simply because he’s now on the same roster as Sidney Crosby, Penguins General Manager, Jim Rutherford, figured it’d be a smart move to lock up Brandon Tanev in free agency with a six-year contract at $3.500 million per season and a modified no-trade clause one offseason removed from signing Jack Johnson.
If there’s any positives for Pittsburgh, it’s that Crosby still exists and Mike Sullivan remains the head coach. Oh and Evgeni Malkin exists too, though some would find it hard to believe, since he wasn’t included in the top-100 players of the last century list.
As long as Matt Murray and Casey DeSmith can weather the storm of an insufficient defense, injuries and inadequacy from last season, then there’s a good chance the current longest active playoff appearance streak remains alive.
If not, well, just look for Rutherford to continue to move chairs around on the Titanic.
This team is starting to spring a leak. If they’re not careful, they’ll sink in the standings.
But since the season really doesn’t start until January anyway for the Pens, they’ll work their way into a playoff berth as they’ve done for the last dozen years or so.
How would the Penguins fail?
Rutherford trades another goal scorer for a “glue guy” and clones Tanev and/or Johnson. Realistically, Murray continues to cool down from his meteoric rise a couple of seasons ago and won’t cost too much as a pending-RFA.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Pros and Cons
All my ex’s live in… everywhere but Columbus.
The Blue Jackets lost Artemi Panarin to the New York Rangers, Sergei Bobrovsky to the Florida Panthers, Matt Duchene to the Nashville Predators and Ryan Dzingel to the Carolina Hurricanes, but they brought in Gustav Nyquist and brought back Marko Dano via free agency.
Yeah, ok, so it wasn’t a great summer for Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen and Blue Jackets fans– even if they knew at least one of their big names (Bobrovsky) was never going to re-sign.
But while a lot of armchair GMs think the Blue Jackets are destined for a rebuild, there’s a glimmer of optimism if Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins can carry the weight of the crease, while younger players like Alexandre Texier, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Josh Anderson continue to emerge.
Making it as far as they did into the Second Round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs was vital to the experience gained by Columbus’ core.
Though they’re likely not going to a be a dominant force in 2019-20, they should be in contention for what would be a fifth playoff berth in seven years under Kekalainen’s reign.
And if they turn heads again like they did when they swept the President’s Trophy winning Tampa Bay Lightning in the First Round, then there’s sure to be some interest in lacing up the skates for the Blue Jackets in the future.
Then again, it could be tank city until Korpisalo or Merzlikins becomes a legitimate starter and somebody becomes an 80-point scorer again.
It just takes some time… Oh and someone should probably re-sign Zach Werenski while you’re at it.
How would the Blue Jackets fail?
The Union doesn’t lose. Ok, if everybody leaves, then it might.
New York Islanders: Pros and Cons
Having Lou Lamoriello as your General Manager means some players are going to love him (if they’ve already been with him for many years before) and some players are going to be chased out of the city when they are told they are going in a different direction, but then don’t quite land who they think they’re getting, only to leave you once again for… well, Semyon Varlamov isn’t really an upgrade at this point.
But Robin Lehner’s gone after winning the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy with the
Rangers Islanders last season after having a remarkable career-year in the face of addiction and other struggles.
New York’s only getting older and Anders Lee took a “hometown discount” to stay on Long Island.
Speaking of Long Island, is it too early to start construction on the Belmont Park arena yet?
Something has to distract everyone from the undercutting of several prospect’s development– whether they’ve rightfully had a chance to prove themselves at the NHL level or not.
Barry Trotz is a great head coach, but how much more can he do with a middle of the road team that gives up on prospects too early?
Get them back to the Second Round only to be crushed by a team that’s mixing youth, speed, skill, grit and actually playing 21st century hockey?
It’s almost as though the Islanders learned nothing from 1995-2006.
How would the Islanders fail?
It’s [the] trap!
Philadelphia Flyers: Pros and Cons
Flyers General Manager, Chuck Fletcher, actually hasn’t had that bad of an offseason– at least when it comes to tweaking his roster.
Sure Matt Niskanen and Justin Braun are both 32-years-old, but they’re decent top-4 defenders that should be able to lead from the back end with Shayne Gostisbehere as Travis Sanheim and Ivan Provorov come into their own.
Speaking of Provorov, he’s still an unsigned-RFA and Philadelphia has more than enough money (about $13.400 million in cap space) to get some sort of a deal done right now. Why wait until the last minute? What’s that? Travis Konecny needs a contract right now too? Oh never mind. Let’s make things complicated!
Besides giving Kevin Hayes a seven-year contract worth $7.143 million per season with a no-movement clause, the Flyers should have– a lot of explaining to do when their experiment doesn’t work out.
The Hayes contract is bad, but just how bad can things get with Hayes back on a team that’s coached by… Alain Vigneault!?!
Vigneault’s the real wild card here as the jury is still out on whether or not his style still fits the game or if the Rangers were just that bad in his final year with New York.
All things considered, Philadelphia should be back into playoff contention. Just not Cup contention in 2019-20.
How much more of this can Claude Giroux take?
How would the Flyers fail?
Alain Vigneault, Mike Yeo and Michel Therrien can’t figure out who is actually the head coach on a night-to-night basis even though Vigneault technically owns the job (Yeo and Therrien are assistant coaches for the Flyers, if you haven’t heard). Oh and goaltending if Carter Hart gets injured.
New York Rangers: Pros and Cons
The Rangers landed the biggest prize in free agency, signing Artemi Panarin to a seven-year contract worth $11.643 million per season.
Though they are still in a rebuild, Panarin’s addition to the roster helps make New York more of an attractive destination and speeds things up in the overall plan.
It doesn’t hurt that GM Jeff Gorton had the 2nd overall pick in this year’s draft too. Kaapo Kakko is ready for the limelight in Manhattan as Henrik Lundqvist’s reign is in its twilight days.
Lundqvist is under contract through the 2020-21 season and at 37-years-old– it’d take a miracle for the Rangers to win him a Cup at this point.
The Rangers only have one forward over the age of 30 (Matt Beleskey’s 31) and two defenders 30 or older as well (Brendan Smith, 30, and Marc Staal, 32).
Beleskey is likely to bounce around the organization between New York and Hartford (AHL), while there’s a good chance Smith could be buried as well.
But their “veteran presence” is valuable to time on ice management among the younger skaters that might not be quite as NHL ready as Kakko and friends.
Jacob Trouba is new to the Rangers and destined to anchor their new-age defense from the top pairing, while Kevin Shattenkirk joins the long list of buyouts in recent years by New York.
The Rangers are short almost $5.400 million in dead cap space thanks to Shattenkirk, Dan Girardi and Ryan Spooner’s buyouts around the league (Shattenkirk and Girardi were Rangers buyouts, but Spooner had retained salary and was bought out by the Vancouver Canucks this offseason).
Next year, New York faces almost $7.500 million in cap penalties from the trio of buyouts before Spooner comes off the books entirely and the number dips down to about $2.544 million from 2021-22 to 2022-23.
Also another Harvard product– Adam Fox– is the new Jimmy Vesey experiment, but on the blue line. And Vesey? He was traded to Buffalo.
Panarin and Kakko are worth watching this season, while the rest of the team remains to be seen.
How would the Rangers fail?
Henrik Lundqvist stops looking so good all of a sudden. That man is stunning.
Carolina Hurricanes: Pros and Cons
Though the forecast says otherwise, Carolina should actually be closer to playoff contention than you may think coming off their 2019 Eastern Conference Final appearance.
Hurricanes General Manager, Don Waddell, has weathered the storm this offseason. Actually, his job was made pretty easy when the Montreal Canadiens signed Sebastian Aho to a five-year offer sheet worth $8.454 million per season.
Considering the value Aho brings and the potential that’s still there– that’s a steal.
Though a little more than $21 million in signing bonuses through the first two years is considered a “hefty” price for an owner to pay, let’s remember that we’re talking about professional sports.
If Montreal really wanted to make things difficult for Canes owner, Tom Dundon, then they should’ve offered something with a larger cap hit, but that would’ve meant a steeper price to pay in compensation had Carolina not matched the deal. #AdvantageCarolina
Aho will be 27 by the time his new contract runs out, which means he’ll be a pending-UFA in 2024, but there’s plenty of time to worry about the next contract when the time comes.
Right now, the Hurricanes have added some much needed top-six/top-nine forward depth in Erik Haula (acquired from Vegas) and Ryan Dzingel (signed via free agency), while adding a 1st round pick in 2020 (or 2021 if Toronto’s 2020 1st rounder is a top-10 overall selection) and swapping Calvin de Haan with the Chicago Blackhawks for Gustav Forsling (there were other pieces involved, like Anton Forsberg going to Carolina too).
The average age of Carolina’s skaters? 25.
Considering how far the core went in 2018-19, that’s beyond impressive and it’s a testament to head coach, Rod Brind’Amour.
In July, Petr Mrazek re-signed with the Hurricanes on a two-year deal and James Reimer was acquired in a trade with the Florida Panthers as Curtis McElhinney signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Though Alex Nedeljkovic might be another year out from competing for the starting job, the crease is Mrazek’s to lose once again with Reimer looking to rebound from a dismal time in Florida.
Carolina is poised for another deep run, but how soon will it be given the fact that their emergence as a contender means that every other team wants to beat them that much more from night-to-night?
How would the Hurricanes fail?
The Canes have a strong analytics department, so the only thing that could naturally disrupt their plans? Regression (and no WiFi).
New Jersey Devils: Pros and Cons
The Devils won the draft lottery and procured Jack Hughes with the 1st overall pick in June.
New Jersey was third-to-last in overall standings last season.
Though they added P.K. Subban in a trade with the Nashville Predators in June, drafted Hughes and have Taylor Hall, Nico Hischier and Will Butcher on their roster, the Devils still need a lot of pieces to improve.
Hall’s a pending-UFA at season’s end. His next deal– whether it’s with New Jersey or not– determines the fate of this team.
Cory Schneider’s still under contract through 2021-22 and Mackenzie Blackwood is only 22-years-old.
Goaltenders are rarely superstars when they’re that young, so while Blackwood may be the starter heading into the season and goalie of the future for the organization– it wouldn’t be a surprise to see some ups and downs before the dust settles.
Now for the good news.
Nikita Gusev was acquired in a trade with the Golden Knights and Ray Shero doesn’t have a lot of no-trade clauses to deal with if the Devils look to sell at the trade deadline.
How would the Devils fail?
If they somehow lose the Taylor Hall trade a few years after winning it.
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.
The 2018-19 regular season has started, so let’s overreact and hand out the regular season awards already! It’s our 3rd Annual Participation Trophies After One Game presented by Nick and Connor.