The Battle For Gloria rages on with the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues tied 2-2 in the 2019 Stanley Cup Final. Nick and Pete also discuss the latest coaching moves (Dave Tippett, Bob Boughner, Marc Crawford), trades (Kevin Hayes) and rumors (Patrick Marleau, Nikita Zaitsev, Phil Kessel), while Nick introduces a new game segment that has Pete stumped.
Nick, Cap’n and Pete assess the Detroit Red Wings hiring of Steve Yzerman as General Manager and Executive Vice President, as well as recap the trio of Game 7s in the First Round and preview the Second Round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
For the second time in as many years, the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs are going to a Game 7 at TD Garden after the Bruins defeated the Leafs, 4-2, on Sunday afternoon at Scotiabank Arena.
Jake DeBrusk scored the defacto game-winning goal midway through the second period, while Tuukka Rask (3-3-0 record, 2.54 goals against average, .921 save percentage in six games this postseason) made 22 saves on 24 shots against (.917 SV%) in the win for Boston.
Maple Leafs goaltender, Frederik Andersen (3-3-0, 2.70 GAA, .925 SV% in six games this postseason) stopped 37 out of 40 shots faced (.925 SV%) in the loss.
The two franchises are just the third pair in NHL history to require a Game 7 in three consecutive head-to-head postseason matchups (2013 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal, 2018 First Round and 2019 First Round).
Boston has won the last five postseason series matchups against Toronto. The Maple Leafs last defeated the Bruins in the 1959 Stanley Cup Playoffs Semifinal– yes, back when the league had six economically stable franchises.
Connor Clifton (upper body) and Kevan Miller (lower body) remained out of the lineup due to injury for Game 6, while Bruce Cassidy juggled his bottom-six forwards– inserting Karson Kuhlman on the third line right wing and moving Sean Kuraly to center on the fourth line, with Joakim Nordstrom back in the lineup on the left wing after being a healthy scratch for Game 5.
Early in the first period, Chara sent the puck over the glass and out of play for an automatic delay of game minor penalty at 5:21.
Toronto did not convert on the ensuing power play.
Moments later, after the Maple Leafs kept the puck in the attacking zone on a turnover by the Bruins, Morgan Rielly (1) blasted a shot from the point past Rask as the Boston goaltender was screened by Leafs forward, Connor Brown, at 9:42 of the first period.
Less than a minute later, Tyler Ennis took a trip to the penalty box for holding at 10:25 of the first period.
Almost a minute into the resulting skater advantage for Boston, Patrice Bergeron won a face-off to the right of Andersen and squibbed the puck over to Brad Marchand (3) for the shot on goal that deflected off of Toronto defender, Ron Hainsey, and slid through the five-hole of Andersen.
Bergeron (2) had the only assist on Marchand’s power play goal at 11:23 of the first period and the game was tied, 1-1.
While being brought down in the corner over a minute later, Nordstrom got a stick up high on Travis Dermott and was assessed a high-sticking infraction at 12:37.
The B’s managed to kill off the penalty with ease and resumed even strength action without difficulty.
About a minute after their power play, Toronto found themselves going down a skater thanks to Dermott’s tripping infraction against DeBrusk at 15:36.
Late in the power play, Boston worked the puck around the horn and back across the ice to Torey Krug (1) for the one-timer rocket that beat Andersen for the game’s first lead change.
The Bruins led, 2-1, with David Pastrnak (3) and Marchand (5) earning the assists on Krug’s power play goal at 17:02.
After one period of play, Boston led, 2-1, on the scoreboard and, 14-6, in shots on goal. The B’s also led in hits (13-9) and face-off win percentage (57-44), while the Maple Leafs led in takeaways (4-3) and giveaways (5-4).
Both clubs managed seven blocked shots aside entering the first intermission, while Toronto was 0/2 on the power play and Boston was 2/2 on the skater advantage heading into the middle frame.
Almost midway through the second period, after a hairy couple of minutes in their own zone, the Bruins went back the other way on the attack with DeBrusk sending the puck across to David Krejci for the give-and-go back to DeBrusk (1) for the redirection into the twine.
Krejci (2) and Pastrnak (4) notched the assists on DeBrusk’s goal at 7:57 of the second period and Boston led, 3-1.
Through 40 minutes of play the Bruins led, 3-1, on the scoreboard and outshot the Maple Leafs, 2:1, with a, 30-15, advantage in shots on goal.
Toronto maintained an advantage in blocked shots (17-11) and hits (29-22), while Boston led in face-off win% (58-43). Both teams amassed seven takeaways each and ten giveaways aside.
The Leafs entered the third period 0/3 on the power play, while the B’s were 2/2 on the skater advantage.
After returning to the ice for the final frame of regulation with an extra skip and a jump in their step, the Maple Leafs won a face-off in the offensive zone and worked the puck around to Auston Matthews (5) for the wrist shot goal– off the far post and in– to cut Boston’s lead to one-goal.
Jake Gardiner (2) and Dermott (2) had the assists on Matthews’ goal at 4:15 of the third period and Toronto trailed, 3-2.
Save after save was made all night by both goaltenders, leaving Maple Leafs head coach, Mike Babcock, with no choice but to pull his goaltender for an extra attacker.
Perhaps, though, pulling Andersen with 2:04 remaining in regulation left too much time for those pesky, Big Bad Bruins.
After jumping on a puck in his own zone, Marchand (4) worked it loose and fired away from the neutral zone to pocket the empty net goal to seal the deal on the, 4-2, victory for Boston at 18:06 of the third period.
Chara (1) and Charlie McAvoy (2) tallied the assists on the goal as the B’s assured themselves of a Game 7 on Tuesday.
Andersen vacated the crease once more with about 1:42 to go in the game, but Toronto could not find a way to score two quick goals to tie and force overtime.
At the final horn, the Bruins had won, 4-2, and finished the afternoon leading in shots on goal (41-24) and face-off win% (52-48). The Maple Leafs wrapped up Sunday afternoon with the advantage in blocked shots (19-15), giveaways (19-16) and hits (40-34).
There were no penalties called in the final frame, leaving Toronto 0/3 on the power play for the day and Boston, 2/2, on the skater advantage.
For the third time in their last three series matchups against each other, Boston and Toronto will square off in a decisive Game 7 at TD Garden. Puck drop is expected a little after 7 p.m. on Tuesday and viewers in the United States can catch the action on NBCSN.
Canadian residents can watch the game on CBC, SN or TVAS.
Ten combined goals in 60 minutes of action tipped the way of the Boston Bruins, 6-4, over the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 4 of their 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round matchup at Scotiabank Arena on Wednesday.
With the win for the Bruins, the series is now tied, 2-2.
Tuukka Rask (2-2-0 record, 2.77 goals against average, .921 save percentage in four games this postseason) made 38 saves on 42 shots against (.905 SV%) in the win for the B’s.
Maple Leafs goaltender, Frederik Andersen (2-2-0, 3.03 GAA, .917 SV% in four games this postseason) stopped 25 out of 30 shots faced (.833 SV%) in the loss.
Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, re-inserted John Moore and Marcus Johansson into his lineup after Moore (upper body) missed the first three games of the series and Johansson (illness) missed Games 2 and 3.
Cassidy also juggled his lines, starting Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Danton Heinen on the first line and dropped Pastrnak to the second line right wing with Jake DeBrusk at his usual spot at left wing and David Krejci in his usual role as the center.
On the third defensive pairing, Matt Grzelcyk was partnered with Moore in Moore’s first game back from injury.
As a result of the returning players to Boston’s lineup, forward Karson Kuhlman and defender Steven Kampfer joined Paul Carey, Jakub Zboril and Dan Vladar as the healthy scratches for the Bruins, while Sean Kuraly (fractured right hand), Connor Clifton (upper body) and Kevan Miller (lower body) remained out of the action.
Early in the action, Connor Brown held Nordstrom and was assessed a minor infraction at 1:08 of the first period.
Late on the ensuing power play, the B’s sent the puck around the horn as Charlie McAvoy (1) snuck into the slot to receive a pass and one-timed a shot past Andersen to give the Bruins the lead, 1-0.
Coyle (1) and Grzelcyk (3) tallied the assists on McAvoy’s power play goal at 3:03 of the first period.
Moments later, Marchand (2) capitalized on the momentum swing as Boston again maintained tremendous pressure in the offensive zone, yielding the two-goal lead from Marchand.
McAvoy (1) and Heinen (2) notched the assists on the goal that made it, 2-0, for the Bruins at 6:38 of the first period as the B’s pocketed a pair of goals in a span of 3:35.
Midway through the opening frame, Bergeron tied up Mitch Marner and was penalized for interference at 13:29.
Boston managed to kill off their first shorthanded bid of the evening, but was not as successful in the vulnerable minute after McAvoy was also penalized for interference at 15:44.
Just 11 seconds after making the kill on McAvoy’s minor infraction, the Bruins failed to clear the zone and the Maple Leafs pounced.
Morgan Rielly fired a shot from the point that Zach Hyman (1) tipped past Rask and cut the lead in half, 2-1, as Toronto got on the scoreboard for the first time of the night at 17:55 of the first period.
Rielly (2) and John Tavares (3) were credited with the assists on Hyman’s first goal of the postseason.
Entering the first intermission, Boston led on the scoreboard, 2-1, and in shots on goal, 14-12.
The Bruins also held the advantage in blocked shots (6-5), while the Maple Leafs led in takeaways (3-1), giveaways (4-3), hits (15-13) and face-off win percentage (53-47).
Heading into the second period, Toronto was 0/2 on the power play and Boston was 1/1 on the skater advantage.
Despite trailing by a goal at the end of the first period, Toronto emerged rejuvenated for the second period with a stretch pass off the boards that yielded a break-in for Matthews about a minute into the middle frame.
Matthews (2) scored as the Bruins bungled a line change and tied the game, 2-2, at 1:07 of the second period.
A couple minutes later, Marchand entered the attacking zone for Boston with Pastrnak (1) speeding to the net to redirect the pass in front of the crease past Andersen– reminiscent of the days of Mark Recchi scoring grungy goals in an NHL rink– to give the Bruins the lead once again, 3-2, at 3:16 of the second period.
The game was tied for a span of 2:09 before Boston pulled back into the lead.
A little over a minute later, Matthews caught McAvoy with a high-stick in front of the Bruins net and was penalized at 4:37, yielding a Boston power play for the second time of the night.
Less than 20 seconds into the resulting power play, Marchand worked a pass through the low slot for the one-timer goal from Pastrnak (2) as No. 88 for the black-and-gold acted as a bumper and gave Boston a two-goal lead, 4-2, at 4:51 of the second period.
Marchand (4) had the only assist on the goal and collected the primary assist on back-to-back goals from Pastrnak for his third point of the game.
Through 40 minutes of play, Boston led, 4-2, on the scoreboard.
Toronto held the advantage in shots on goal (26-22) after two periods– including a, 14-8, advantage in the second period alone. The Maple Leafs also led in takeaways (6-2) and hits (30-24), while the Bruins led in blocked shots (20-8) and face-off win% (54-46) entering the second intermission.
Both clubs had nine giveaways each as the Leafs were 0/2 and the B’s were 2/2 on the power play heading into the third period.
Early in the third period, after keeping the puck in the zone, Zdeno Chara (1) rocketed a shot from the point that beat Andersen as Bergeron screened the Maple Leafs goaltender.
Chara’s goal was unassisted at 5:39 of the third period and gave the Bruins a three-goal lead, 5-2.
With the goal, Chara (42 years, 30 days), became the second-oldest defender in NHL history to score a goal in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, trailing Chris Chelios (45 years, 86 days) for the record.
Midway through the period, McAvoy’s stick rode up Hyman’s shaft and caught the Maple Leafs forward in the face, yielding a high-sticking infraction and presenting Toronto with their third power play of the night at 11:42.
Ten seconds into the ensuing skater advantage, after working the puck around the zone, Marner floated the puck through the low slot for the redirection from Matthews (3) past Rask for the power play goal and Matthews’ second goal of the game.
Marner (2) and Rielly (3) tallied the assists as the Leafs pulled to within two-goals, 5-3, at 11:52 of the third period.
With momentum on their side, Travis Dermott (1) unloaded a shot from the point past the Bruins goaltender to make it a one-goal game at 13:27.
Jake Gardiner (1) and Brown (1) notched the assists as Boston’s lead was cut to one, 5-4, after Toronto scored a pair of goals in a span of 1:35.
Maple Leafs head coach, Mike Babcock, pulled his goaltender for the extra attacker with 1:55 remaining in regulation.
Despite every last effort by the Leafs, Boston held the line and mustered the puck out of the zone, including the final drive initiated by Krejci up to Nordstrom (1) for the empty net goal at 19:58 of the third period to put the game away, 6-4, on the road.
Krejci (1) had the only assist on the goal– Nordstrom’s first career Stanley Cup Playoff goal.
At the final horn, the Bruins had secured the victory, despite trailing in shots on goal, 42-31.
Boston finished the night leading in blocked shots (25-12) and face-off win% (59-41), while Toronto led in giveaways (14-13) and hits (37-35).
The Maple Leafs finished 1/3 on the power play on Wednesday and the B’s finished 2/2 on the skater advantage.
With his ninth and tenth career postseason goals in 22 career Stanley Cup Playoff games (all with Boston), Pastrnak trails only Gregg Sheppard (14 games), Barry Pederson (15 games) and Derek Sanderson (19 games) for the fastest to reach 10 career postseason goals.
The two clubs square off in Game 5 at TD Garden in Boston on Friday night with the series tied, 2-2. Viewers in the United States can tune in for puck drop at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN, while Canadian fans can catch the action on CBC, SN, or TVAS.
Some nights it’s a 60-minute effort. Other nights all of the scoring occurs in the second period, en route to a, 3-2, victory by the Toronto Maple Leafs over the Boston Bruins at Scotiabank Arena in Game 3 of their 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round matchup.
Oh and Toronto still produced a 60-minute effort.
Frederik Andersen (2-1-0 record, 2.33 goals against average, .947 save percentage in three games played this postseason) made 34 saves on 36 shots faced (.944 SV%) in the win for Toronto.
Bruins goaltender, Tuukka Rask (1-2-0, 2.36 GAA, .928 SV% in three games played this postseason) stopped 31 out of 34 shots faced (.912 SV%) in the loss.
The Maple Leafs hold a, 2-1, series lead for the third time in the last 15 years. Toronto led the Ottawa Senators, 2-1, in the 2004 Eastern Conference Quaterfinals and the Washington Capitals, 2-1, in the 2017 First Round.
Toronto’s Nazem Kadri scored the only goal for the Leafs in Game 2, but was suspended for the remainder of the First Round for cross-checking Jake DeBrusk in the head.
Heading into Game 3 on Monday, Bruce Cassidy indicated Torey Krug and DeBrusk would be good to go in Toronto (despite both players looking as though they would need to remain in concussion protocol– Krug left Saturday night’s action and DeBrusk looked “off” according to most beat reporters after the game).
As a result, Kampfer made his Stanley Cup Playoff debut for the first time after spending parts of seven seasons in the NHL. Originally drafted 93rd overall in the 2007 NHL Draft by the Anaheim Ducks, Kampfer was previously acquired by the Bruins and made his NHL debut in the 2010-11 season.
After suiting up in 10 games for Boston in 2011-12, he was traded to the Minnesota Wild where he went on to play in 13 games before resurfacing at the NHL level with the Florida Panthers in the 2014-15 season.
In 2016-17, Kampfer was traded from the Panthers to the New York Rangers, where he spent time as a depth defender until Sept. 11, 2018, when he was reacquired by the B’s in the Adam McQuaid trade.
The 30-year-old blue liner has 13-19–32 totals in 201 career regular season games in the NHL.
Moore participated in morning skate in a full-contact jersey, but was not ready to return to game action.
With Johansson still out of the lineup, Heinen suited up to the left of Coyle with David Backes on the right wing of the third line and Joakim Nordstrom, Noel Acciari and Chris Wagner comprising of the fourth line trio.
Matt Grzelcyk played alongside Kampfer on the third pairing.
Late in the first period, Ron Hainsey was penalized for interference at 16:36, resulting in the first power play of the game for Boston.
The Bruins did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage and took a penalty of their own at 19:21 of the first period, as McAvoy was assessed a holding the stick infraction against Frederik Gauthier.
Toronto failed to capitalize on their first power play opportunity.
Entering the first intermission, the score remained tied, 0-0, as Boston led in shots on goal, 15-10.
The B’s also held the advantage in blocked shots (8-4), takeaways (2-1) and giveaways (4-2), while the Maple Leafs led in hits (19-16) and face-off win percentage (56-44).
Both clubs were 0/1 on the power play heading into the second period.
Early in the middle frame, the Leafs fired a shot on goal that squeaked through Rask and was left sitting in the crease behind the Boston goaltender, while Krug was out of position on defense.
Trevor Moore (1) pounced on the loose puck and picked up his first career Stanley Cup Playoff goal to give Toronto the lead, 1-0, at 2:38 of the second period.
Despite allowing the game’s first goal, the Bruins rallied and tied the game 52 seconds later after working the puck down low, then back into the slot for DeBrusk to keep the play alive and generate a rebound.
Upon finding the puck in the low slot, Krejci (1) pocketed it into the twine at 3:30 of the second period.
DeBrusk (1) and Kuhlman (1) had the assists on the goal and the game was tied, 1-1. With the secondary assist on the goal, Kuhlman picked up the first career point in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Shortly thereafter, while attempting to clearJohn Tavares from the slot, McAvoy checked the Maple Leafs forward into his own goaltender– leaving Rask slow to get up, but the Bruins netminder did not come out of the game.
Right at the midpoint of the period, Backes caught Kasperi Kapanen with a high-stick and served a two-minute minor in the penalty box at 10:00 of the second period.
Toronto’s ensuing power play only needed 12 seconds to convert on the skater advantage as the Maple Leafs won the ensuing offensive zone face-off, sent the puck around the boards and quickly back through the slot from Andreas Johnsson to Auston Matthews (1) for the power play goal.
Johnsson (1) and Mitch Marner (1) were credited with the assists on the goal at 10:12 and the Leafs led, 2-1.
Moments later, Grzelcyk cut a rut to the sin bin for hooking Patrick Marleau at 15:59.
Late on the resulting power play, Johnsson (1) sent a backhanded shot over Rask’s glove side after sneaking in on a loose puck while Kampfer left his post as the sole defender responsible for the front of Boston’s net while his partner was off fighting for the puck in the corner.
Johnsson’s power play goal made it, 3-1, Toronto at 17:12 and was assisted by Tavares (2) and Matthews (1).
Less than a minute later, Jake Muzzin was penalized for holding Heinen at 17:45 and the Bruins went on the power play.
Boston was sure to convert on the resulting skater advantage, thanks to Coyle’s (2) effort on a rebound– with Andersen down and out of position– in the lot slot to cut the Maple Leafs lead to one-goal.
Heinen (1) and Grzelcyk (2) notched the assists on Coyle’s power play goal– his second goal in two games– at 19:22 of the second period.
Toronto led, 3-2, entering the second intermission as both teams were even in shots on goal, 26-26.
The Maple Leafs held the advantage in shots on goal in the second period alone (16-11), as well as the lead in hits (34-27) and face-off win% (60-40) through two periods of action.
After 40 minutes of play, Boston led in blocked shots (10-6) and giveaways (6-5), while both teams had three takeaways aside.
The Leafs were 2/3 on the power play and the B’s were 1/2 on the skater advantage heading into the final frame of regulation.
There were no goals scored in the third period, but Nikita Zaitsev sent the puck over the glass and out of play for an automatic delay of game penalty at 5:01.
Boston did not convert on the ensuing power play.
With about 90 seconds remaining in regulation, Cassidy pulled his goaltender for the extra attacker and even used his only timeout after a stoppage with 65 seconds remaining on the clock.
The Bruins were not able to utilize their skater advantage and tie the game as Toronto ate up every chance Boston put forward and time expired in the action.
At the sound of the final horn on Monday, the Maple Leafs had won, 3-2, and finished the night leading in blocked shots (16-14), hits (42-33) and face-off win% (56-44). Toronto went 2/3 on the power play.
Across the sheet of ice at Scotiabank Arena, the Bruins wrapped up Monday night’s action leading in shots on goal (36-34) and giveaways (14-11) and finished 1/3 on the power play.
Toronto leads the series, 2-1, heading into Game 4 at home on Wednesday, while Boston fell to 0-2-0 when trailing after two periods this postseason.
Puck drop on Wednesday is scheduled for a little after 7:00 p.m. ET and viewers in the United States can tune into the action on NBCSN, while Canadian viewers can tune to CBC or TVAS.
*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.
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
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*
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
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*
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
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*
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.
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.
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
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*
Auston Matthews signed an extension with the Toronto Maple Leafs. What does this mean for the Leafs? Alex Stalock, Jordan Martinook and Pheonix Copley all signed extensions with their clubs, as Tuukka Rask became the winningest goaltender in Boston Bruins history, Alex Ovechkin became the highest scoring Russian-born NHL player and Paul Maurice reached 1,500 games behind the bench as a head coach.
The DTFR Duo also reviewed all 31 NHL teams as buyers and/or sellers at the 2019 trade deadline.
The Dallas Stars and Pittsburgh Penguins swapped familiar assets, while the Toronto Maple Leafs added a defender in a deal with the Los Angeles Kings. Red Kelly’s number is going to be retired (again– this time by the Detroit Red Wings) and we now know the opponents in the 2020 Winter Classic and 2020 Stadium Series games.
David Krejci (1-1–2 totals) surpassed Cam Neely for 10th place in the Boston Bruins all-time scoring list with his 591st and 592nd career points with Boston in Saturday night’s, 6-3, victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs at TD Garden.
Jaroslav Halak (9-4-2, 2.30 goals against average, .930 save percentage in 17 games played) made 29 saves on 32 shots against for a .906 SV% in the win for the Bruins, while Frederik Andersen (16-8-0, 2.50 GAA, .926 SV% in 24 GP) made 22 saves on 28 shots faced (.786 SV%) in 46:10 time on ice in the loss.
Garret Sparks (4-1-1, 2.84 GAA, .913 SV% in seven GP) replaced Andersen almost midway through the third period for Toronto and turned aside all four shots he faced in the remaining 13:47 TOI.
Boston improved to 15-10-4 (34 points) on the season and leapt back over the Montreal Canadiens for 4th place in the Atlantic Division and the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Maple Leafs fell to 20-9-1 (41 points) on the season and remain 2nd in the Atlantic Division– six points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning for the division lead.
With the win on Saturday, the Bruins are now 1-3-0 in the month of December and are being outscored, 15-10, in that four-game span.
Bruce Cassidy informed reporters prior to Saturday night’s matchup that Jake DeBrusk will miss the weekend’s games at home and in Ottawa as the young Bruins forward has “not [been] feeling well.”
DeBrusk had taken a puck to the back of the head on a shot from his own teammate on Nov. 26th in Toronto, which might be contributing to his current ailment, though it was not confirmed.
As a result of DeBrusk’s injury, Cassidy indicated Saturday night would mark Gemel Smith’s debut (and home debut) as a Bruin.
With DeBrusk out of the equation on the second line, Cassidy juggled the lines to keep Brad Marchand, Krejci and David Pastrnak together on the first line and Colby Cave centering Danton Heinen and David Backes to round out the top-six forwards.
Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson started the game on the third line between Ryan Donato and Joakim Nordstrom, while Smith slid in on the left side of Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner.
On defense, Torey Krug was paired with Brandon Carlo on the top defensive pair, with Matt Grzelcyk alongside his Boston University teammate, Charlie McAvoy.
John Moore and Steven Kampfer filled out the bottom defensive pairing for the Bruins with Halak getting the start in goal and Tuukka Rask likely to play Sunday in Ottawa.
Noel Acciari and Jeremy Lauzon were healthy scratches on Saturday, joining Zdeno Chara (lower body, left MCL), Patrice Bergeron (upper body), Urho Vaakanainen (concussion) and Kevan Miller (throat) in the press box.
McAvoy was penalized 13 seconds into the game for cross checking Maple Leafs forward, Mitch Marner, and the Leafs went on the power play for the first time of the night.
Toronto did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage.
Both teams continued to trade chances until midway in the first period when Krejci and Jake Gardiner got tangled up and received matching roughing minors at 10:07.
While on the ensuing 4-on-4 action, Pastrnak sent a shot towards the goal for Forsbacka Karlsson to redirect, but Andersen made the initial save– that is, until he let up a rebound, which Forsbacka Karlsson (3) followed up on and poked the puck through the Maple Leafs goaltender to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead.
Pastrnak (13) and Grzelcyk (8) had the assists on the goal at 11:20 of the first period.
Entering the first intermission, Boston held onto a 1-0 lead, while Toronto led in shots on goal, 11-8. The Leafs also led in blocked shots (6-3), takeaways (13-3) and hits (11-8), meanwhile the B’s had the advantage in giveaways (4-2) and face-off win percentage (56-44).
Both teams were 0/1 on the power play.
Tyler Ennis kicked the action off in the second period with a tripping infraction as Smith went down to the ice at 6:14 of the middle frame. Boston couldn’t convert on the power play, but got a second chance on the skater advantage in the same period about 20 seconds after the first advantage expired.
Nazem Kadri caught Krejci with a stick and brought the veteran Bruins forward down at 8:34 and the Bruins went back on the power play.
Just 20 seconds into the ensuing advantage, Backes (3) fired a wrist shot past Andersen’s glove side to give the B’s a two-goal lead, 2-0, at 8:54 of the second period.
This, of course, after a mad scramble that led to Marchand (18) and Krug (13) being credited with the primary and secondary assists.
John Tavares was guilty of slashing Gryzelcyk at 10:06, but the 5-on-4 power play for Boston wouldn’t last long as Backes hooked Maple Leafs defender, Nikita Zaitsev at 11:02.
For the next 1:05, both teams would play 4-on-4 action– at least, until Gardiner boarded Krejci at 11:33 of the second period and sent the B’s on a rare 4-on-3 power play for 34 seconds.
As the string of soft calls started winding down, tempers started to flare on the ice.
Before long, Carlo and Nazem Kadri were at each other’s throats after a stoppage in play, which led to the exchanging of fisticuffs at 14:32.
The fight was just the 2nd fighting major of the season for the Maple Leafs, while it was both Kadri and Carlo’s first fight of the season.
Recently traded to the Vancouver Canucks, forward Josh Leivo had the other fight for Toronto this season, while Carlo was involved in just the third fight of his young career (about one-a-season, so far).
Toronto began a short onslaught, but Halak stood tall and momentum swung Boston’s way as the Bruins sustained some attacking zone time and capitalized with a goal from the point.
Krug (1) wired a wrist shot past Andersen for his first goal of the season– and first goal in 25 games– to give the Bruins a three-goal lead.
Marchand (19) and Krejci (18) picked up the assists to make it, 3-0, Boston at 17:45 of the second period, marking the first time since Nov. 24th (against the Montreal Canadiens) that the B’s had tallied at least three goals in a game.
With his assist on the play, Krejci officially surpassed Neely for 10th place on the all-time scoring list in Bruins franchise history. Krejci would add another point in the form of a goal in the third period to further pull away from the current Bruins president’s historical marker of 590 career points with Boston.
Krejci now has 592 and counting.
After 40 minutes of play, the Bruins led, 3-0, on the scoreboard and in shots on goal, 23-20, after outshooting the Maple Leafs, 15-9, in the second period alone.
Toronto led in blocked shots (7-5) and takeaways (23-7) through two periods, while the B’s dominated in giveaways (7-3), hits (19-17) and face-off win% (52-48)
The Maple Leafs were 0/1 on the power play entering the second intermission and the Bruins were 1/4.
Heinen (3) kicked off a chaotic third period with his first point in 12 games in the form of a goal at 1:47 into the final frame of regulation.
Donato (1) and Moore (4) tallied the assists and the Bruins led, 4-0.
Moments later, Travis Dermott (2) wired a back-footed snap shot from the point past Halak, high-glove side at 4:03 of the third period to put Toronto on the scoreboard, 4-1.
Auston Matthews (10) and Gardiner (14) had the assists on Dermott’s goal and the Leafs cut the lead to three.
A mere, 34 seconds later, Krejci (4) collected his second goal in two games on a rush and a give-and-go with Pastrnak to make it, 5-1, Boston.
Pastrnak (14) and Marchand (20) were tabbed with the assists at 4:37.
Less than two minutes later, Donato (3) added a goal while being held by Matthews in front of the net and pounding his own rebound behind Andersen to make it, 6-1, Bruins.
Heinen (4) and Krug (14) had the assists at 6:13 of the third period and Mike Babcock replaced his starting goaltender with Sparks.
Andersen’s night was done after allowing six goals.
But the zany game on ice has its ways as Matthews (16) riffled a shot past Halak after Andreas Johnsson freed a loose puck from Carlo to Matthews to make it, 6-2.
Johnsson (6) and Morgan Reilly (23) had the assists on the goal that made it a four-goal game at 9:30 of the third period.
Then, 23 seconds later, Zach Hyman delivered a high, late hit, with the elbow to McAvoy behind the play and Grzelcyk, along with the rest of the Bruins took notice.
Grzelcyk immediately challenged Hyman in effort to standup for his teammate who had just returned this week from a concussion and the two exchanged blows.
The penalty minutes officially read, Grzelcyk (fighting, major) and a game misconduct at 9:53, while Hyman received a fighting major, a major penalty for interference and a game misconduct.
Despite Hyman’s interference major, the Bruins were not given a power play advantage.
This, coupled with soft calls and blown calls from 13 seconds into the game through this point in the third period led to chaos.
Barely a minute later in playing time, Wagner glided into a high hit on Patrick Marleau in the neutral zone.
Toronto defender, Ron Hainsey, immediately challenged the Bruins winger to a duel of fists and the two squared off with Wagner getting the wrestling takedown.
Only Wagner was officially penalized, however, with a minor penalty for charging and a misconduct at 10:55 of the third period.
As a result, the Bruins would be shorthanded and neither bench was very pleased. Both coaches were furious, but the game continued as the refs failed to contain the emotions of the game.
Donato served Wagner’s minor penalty, but it wasn’t long before Johnsson (7) capitalized on a deflection that yielded a rebound and collected a power play goal at 12:22.
Marleau (10) and Gardiner (15) had the assists and the Leafs trailed, 6-3.
With about two minutes remaining in regulation, McAvoy returned to the Bruins bench after going through concussion protocol.
At the final horn, Boston had defeated Toronto, 6-3, and improved to 10-2-2 when scoring first this season.
Both teams finished the night with 32 shots on goal, while the B’s led in blocked shots (13-8), giveaways (12-9) and hits (24-21). The Maple Leafs finished Saturday night ahead in face-off win% (53-47) and were 1/2 on the power play, while Boston was 1/4.
The Bruins and Maple Leafs will meet once more this season in Toronto on January 12, 2019.
Until then, Boston travels to Canadian Tire Centre for a Sunday matinee (5 p.m. ET puck drop) with the Ottawa Senators before traveling back home for a Tuesday night matchup with the Arizona Coyotes.
The Bruins follow up Tuesday’s matchup with another rumble on the road at PPG Paints Arena next Friday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.