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NHL Nick's Net

Coyle nets two in Bruins’, 4-1, win at Rangers

Charlie Coyle scored a pair of goals, while Trent Frederic recorded the eventual game-winning goal as the Boston Bruins defeated the New York Rangers, 4-1, Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.

Tuukka Rask (8-3-1, 2.71 goals against average, .896 save percentage in 12 games played) stopped 20 out of 21 shots faced for a .952 SV% in the win– the 299th of his National Hockey League career.

No Bruins goaltender has ever won 300 games in franchise history.

Rangers goaltender, Alexandar Georgiev (3-2-2, 2.80 GAA, .907 SV% in eight games played) made 31 saves on 33 shots against for a .939 SV% in 45:25 time on ice as he was briefly pulled from the game by a concussion spotter after allowing the game’s first goal after Bruins forward, Nick Ritchie, fell on top of the New York netminder’s head minutes earlier.

Igor Shesterkin (4-7-1, 2.44 GAA, .917 SV% in 13 games played) made one save on two shots against (.500 SV%) and was charged with the loss in 13:19 TOI as Frederic’s eventual game-winner got by Shesterkin while he was in net for Georgiev.

The Bruins improved to 12-5-2 (26 points) on the season and retook command of 1st place in the MassMutual NHL East Division from the Washington Capitals (11-5-4, 26 points) who were in action later in the afternoon on Sunday.

The Rangers fell to 7-9-3 (17 points) overall and remained in 6th place in the division– at least before later games on Sunday.

Boston also picked up their 50th win in 107 games at Madison Square Garden (the fourth edition of New York City’s world famous arena), despite being outscored by New York, 333-325, in that span. The Bruins are 50-46-7-4 all time at the fourth iteration of MSG.

The B’s are now 3-1-0 against the Blue Shirts this season.

After Friday night’s, 6-2, loss to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden, Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made several changes to his lineup utilizing members of the club’s taxi squad.

Cassidy slid Sean Kuraly to the left wing of the fourth line while inserting Greg McKegg and Karson Kuhlman back into the lineup at center and on the right wing, respectively.

McKegg, in the process, made his Boston debut on Sunday.

On defense, Cassidy jumbled his pairings, placing Jakub Zboril alongside Charlie McAvoy on the first pairing, while uniting Connor Clifton with Brandon Carlo to round out the top-four defenders.

Urho Vaakanainen was partnered with Steven Kampfer, who made his season debut on Sunday, on the bottom defensive pairing.

Anders Bjork, Chris Wagner and John Moore were healthy scratches for the B’s, while Ondrej Kase (upper body), David Krejci (lower body), Matt Grzelcyk (lower body), Jeremy Lauzon (fractured left hand) and Kevan Miller (knee) remained out of the lineup due to injury.

Callum Booth was the only taxi squad member not listed as a healthy scratch or out due to injury Sunday afternoon in New York.

Early in the opening frame, Ryan Strome cross checked Kuhlman and was sent to the sin bin with a minor infraction at 5:35 of the first period.

Boston’s ensuing power play did not last long, however, as Ritchie and Ryan Lindgren went at it shortly after Ritchie fell on top of Georgiev, resulting in two roughing penalties to Ritchie and one roughing minor for Lindgren at 5:48.

Craig Smith served one of Ritchie’s minors as the two clubs had a little 4-on-4 before the Rangers had an abbreviated power play.

Meanwhile, less than a minute later, Coyle (4) roofed a shot on the far side past the New York netminder to give Boston a, 1-0, lead at 6:41 of the first period.

David Pastrnak (8) and McAvoy (12) tallied the assists on Coyle’s first goal of the afternoon, which led to Shesterkin’s brief relief appearance in the crease.

Six seconds after the B’s went up on the scoreboard, 1-0, Pastrnak caught Alexis Lafrenière with a high stick, yielding a 5-on-3 skater advantage to the Rangers at 6:47.

New York, however, could not muster anything on the power play.

Late in the period, Clifton wristed a shot from the point that Frederic (2) deflected past Shesterkin from the slot to give Boston a two-goal lead.

Clifton (3) and Jack Studnicka (2) notched the assists as the Bruins led, 2-0, at 18:14 of the first period.

Entering the first intermission, the B’s had a, 2-0, lead on the scoreboard despite trailing the Rangers in shots on goal, 9-7.

Boston held the advantage in blocked shots (9-4) and takeaways (2-0), while New York led in giveaways (3-0), hits (21-18) and faceoff win percentage (53-47).

The Rangers were 0/2 and the Bruins were 0/1 on the power play heading into the middle period.

Georgiev was back in net for New York to start the second period.

Midway through the middle frame, after winning an attacking zone faceoff, the B’s worked the puck around the offensive zone, whereby McAvoy ended up sending a pass to Pastrnak across the ice before receiving the rubber biscuit back on the blade of his stick.

McAvoy (3) rocketed a slap shot from the point past Georgiev to make it, 3-0, Boston at 10:20 of the second period.

Pastrnak (9) and Marchand (13) had the assists as the Bruins extended their lead to three goals.

No penalties were called in the second period as the two teams entered the second intermission with the B’s leading, 3-0, on the scoreboard and, 19-15, in shots on goal, including a, 12-6, advantage in the middle period alone.

Boston also held the advantage in takeaways (2-0), hits (32-29) and faceoff win% (56-44), while New York led in giveaways (5-2).

Both teams had 10 blocked shots aside, while the Rangers remained 0/2 and the Bruins remained 0/1 on the power play heading into the final frame.

Colin Blackwell (5) parted the seas, skated into the slot and fired a shot past Rask’s blocker side to pull the Rangers to within two goals at 10:47 of the third period.

He then delivered a quick check– whether it was an accident on a follow through or not, he caught the ire of McKegg, the recipient of Blackwell’s blow– and a scrum ensued while New York was celebrating their goal.

The Rangers trailed, 3-1, as Blackwell went to the box for roughing and McKegg went to the sin bin for slashing at 10:47.

Neither team scored a goal on the resulting 4-on-4 even strength action.

Meanwhile, Lafrenière (2) and K’Andre Miller (4) had the assists on Blackwell’s goal.

Late in the period, Smith received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty at 16:09, but the New York wasn’t able to convert on the resulting power play.

With about two minutes left in regulation, Rangers head coach, David Quinn, pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker to try to even up the score.

Seconds after Georgiev vacated his crease, Coyle (5) flipped the puck just about the length of the rink from his own zone past the faceoff circles into the open twine.

Kuraly (2) had the only assist on Coyle’s empty net goal and the Bruins sealed the deal on their, 4-1, win at 18:05 of the third period.

After a stoppage in play with about two seconds left in the game, the final faceoff commenced, but not before Brendan Lemieux and Ritchie had a little chat that resulted in a fight officially as time expired at 20:00 of the third period.

Lemieux also received a misconduct in the matter as the both players picked up fighting majors to finish the afternoon.

It was the seventh scrap this season for Boston and the first since Lauzon fought Pavel Buchnevich back on Feb. 12th in a, 1-0, win at the Rangers.

At the final horn, the Bruins had won, 4-1, and finished Sunday afternoon leading in shots on goal, 36-21, including a, 17-6, advantage in the third period alone.

Boston also finished the game leading in blocked shots (16-12), hits (43-37) and faceoff win% (55-45), while New York wrapped up the afternoon’s action leading in giveaways (9-4).

The Rangers finished 0/3 and the B’s went 0/1 on the power play on Sunday.

The Bruins improved to 8-2-0 (4-2-0 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal this season, while the Rangers fell to 2-7-2 (1-6-1 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal this season.

Boston also improved to 6-0-0 (3-0-0 on the road) when leading after the first period and 7-0-0 (3-0-0 on the road) when leading after the second period this season.

New York dropped to 2-4-2 (1-3-1 at home) when trailing after one period and 0-6-0 (0-4-0 at home) when trailing after two periods this season.

The Bruins went 1-2-0 on their three-game road trip and 7-4-0 in the month of February. The B’s return home to face the Washington Capitals on Wednesday and Friday before squaring off with the New Jersey Devils next Sunday on March 7th.

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NHL Nick's Net

Bruins drop four out of five in, 6-2, loss at Rangers

The Boston Bruins have allowed 13 goals in back-to-back nights as a result of their, 6-2, loss to the New York Rangers on Friday at Madison Square Garden.

Alexandar Georgiev (3-2-2, 2.81 goals against average, .901 save percentage in seven games played) made 31 saves on 33 shots faced for a .939 SV% in the win for the Rangers.

Bruins goaltender, Tuukka Rask (7-3-1, 2.87 GAA, .892 SV% in 11 games played) stopped 28 out of 34 shots against for an .824 SV% in the loss.

Boston fell to 11-5-2 (24 points) on the season, but is barely holding onto 1st place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while New York improved to 7-8-3 (17 points) and jumped to 6th place in the division.

The Bruins are now 1-4-0 in their last five games and 2-1-0 against the Rangers this season.

Ondrej Kase (upper body), Matt Grzelcyk (lower body), David Krejci (lower body), Kevan Miller (knee) and Jeremy Lauzon (fractured left hand) remained out of the lineup Friday night due to injury.

Grzelcyk is targeting a return to the blue line on Sunday afternoon while still in New York.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, left lineup untouched from Thursday night’s, 7-2, loss on Long Island against the New York Islanders.

Kase, Krejci, Grzelcyk, Lauzon, Karson Kuhlman, Miller, Greg McKegg, Steven Kampfer and Callum Booth made up Boston’s list of injuries, healthy scratches and taxi squad members.

Midway through the opening frame, Julien Gauthier (2) fired a shot from the faceoff dot to Rask’s right side that beat the Bruins netminder on the short side while he was screened by net front traffic.

Ryan Lindgren (6) had the only assist on Gauthier’s goal and the Rangers took the, 1-0, lead at 13:03 of the first period.

Both of Gauthier’s goals this season have come against Boston (and they’re the first and second of his National Hockey League career, respectively).

About a couple minutes later, New York defender, K’Andre Miller, was penalized for holding and sent to the box with a minor infraction at 15:27.

Boston did not convert on the ensuing power play opportunity.

Entering the first intermission, the Rangers led the Bruins, 1-0, on the scoreboard and, 9-6, in shots on goal.

New York also held the advantage in takeaways (2-0), hits (17-8), as well as faceoff win percentage (53-47), while the B’s led in giveaways (4-2).

Both teams had seven blocked shots aside and the Bruins were 0/1 on the power play. The Rangers had yet to see any action on the skater advantage heading into the middle frame.

Shortly after puck drop in the second period, Jack Johnson got a stick up high on Sean Kuraly except Kevin Rooney was sent to the box with the minor infraction for high sticking six seconds into the middle period.

Once more, Boston’s power play was powerless.

Not to be outdone, in the vulnerable minute after special teams action, New York capitalized on Boston’s faults as Alexis Lafrenière worked a pass to Ryan Strome (6) for a catch and release goal over Rask’s glove to give the Rangers a two-goal lead.

Lafrenière (1) and Chris Kreider (2) tallied the assists on Strome’s goal at 2:32 of the second period and the Blue Shirts led, 2-0.

Less than two minutes later, Brad Marchand sent a pass to David Pastrnak who then feigned a shot and setup Patrice Bergeron with a slap pass for Bergeron (8) to redirect one past the Rangers goaltender on the doorstep while Georgiev was expecting a shot from Pastrnak and out of position.

Pastrnak (6) and Marchand (12) had the assists on Bergeron’s goal as the B’s cut New York’s lead in half, 2-1, at 4:02 of the second period.

The goal was Bergeron’s 889th career NHL point, which moved him into sole possession for fifth all-time among Boston’s scorers– surpassing Bobby Orr’s 888 career points in a Bruins uniform and trailing Rick Middleton’s 898 points with Boston for fourth place.

Early in the period, Lindgren hit Bergeron in the neutral zone which caused a bit of a scrum to form.

Marchand, in turn, roughed Lindgren and received a minor infraction at 6:54, though the Rangers did not convert on the ensuing power play.

Moments later, after a stoppage in play, Brendan Lemieux pulled Jake DeBrusk down by the collar and received a roughing infraction at 11:23.

The Bruins remained powerless on the power play, however.

A few minutes after that, Marchand caught Kreider with a high stick and was sent to the sin bin at 14:19. Boston made the kill on the resulting skater disadvantage, however.

Nick Ritchie tripped Brendan Smith and was sent to the penalty box at 18:42.

The Rangers did not waste much time on the ensuing power play opportunity– capitalizing ten seconds into the 5-on-4 advantage after passing the puck around the zone while Boston’s penalty kill just hung around.

Adam Fox fired the initial shot from the point, but Colin Blackwell (4) tipped the rubber biscuit in front of the net to give New York a, 3-1, lead.

Fox (8) and Strome (6) tallied the assists on Blackwell’s power-play goal at 18:52.

The Rangers made it a, 4-1, lead 12 seconds later when Kreider (9) fired the puck off of Charlie McAvoy and in from about the goal line at 19:04.

Strome (7) had the only assist on Kreider’s goal as New York scored a pair of goals in the final 68 seconds of the second period.

In the closing seconds of the middle frame, Trent Frederic retaliated with a slash after Johnson caught the young Bruins forward with a cross check to the head.

Both players received minor infractions (Frederic for slashing, Johnson for cross checking) at 19:51 of the second period, yielding 4-on-4 action into the third period.

Through 40 minutes of action Friday night at Madison Square Garden, the Rangers led the Bruins, 4-1, on the scoreboard and, 24-22, in shots on goal, despite trailing Boston, 16-15, in shots on goal in the second period alone.

The B’s held the advantage in blocked shots (11-10) and giveaways (7-3), while the Blue Shirts led in takeaways (4-2), hits (27-20) and faceoff win% (57-43) after two periods.

New York was 1/3 on the power play, while Boston was 0/3 on the skater advantage heading into the second intermission.

Pavel Buchnevich (5) redirected a puck into the twine from the low slot on a tape-to-tape pass to give the Rangers a, 5-1, lead at 1:45 of the third period.

Fox (9) and Lindgren (7) had the assists on Buchnevich’s goal.

About two minutes later, Jonny Brodzinski (1) received a pass from Rooney before firing the puck off of Rask’s pad and in to make it a five-goal lead for New York.

Rooney (2) and Smith (2) were credited with the primary and secondary assists, respectively, on Brodzinski’s first goal of the season at 3:43 of the final period.

Almost midway through the final frame of regulation, Marchand (10) buried a rebound for the 300th goal of his NHL career. He trails Cam Neely (344 career goals with Boston) for sixth in all time goal scorers in Bruins franchise history.

Pastrnak (7) and Jakub Zboril (4) had the assists on Marchand’s goal and the B’s trailed, 6-2, at 7:51 of the third period.

Late in the period, Zboril was penalized for holding at 15:59, but New York couldn’t muster anything on the resulting skater advantage.

At the final horn, the Bruins had been outscored on back-to-back nights by their opponents by a combined score of, 13-4, losing on Friday to the Rangers, 6-2, in New York.

The Blue Shirts finished the effort leading in shots on goal, 34-33, despite trailing Boston, 11-10, in shots on goal in the third period alone.

New York wrapped up Friday’s win with the advantage in blocked shots (14-12), hits (32-28) and faceoff win% (51-49), while Boston finished the game leading in giveaways (11-4).

The Rangers finished 1/4 on the skater advantage, while the Bruins went 0/3 on the power play on Friday.

Additionally, Boston is now 1-4-0 in their last five games.

The Bruins fell to 4-3-2 (3-2-2 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal this season, while the Rangers improved to 5-2-1 (3-0-1 at home) when scoring the game’s first goal in 2020-21.

The B’s also fell to 2-3-2 (2-3-2 on the road) when trailing after the first period and 2-2-1 (1-1-1 on the road) when trailing after two periods this season.

New York improved to 4-2-1 (3-0-1 at home) when leading after the first period and 5-1-2 (3-0-1 at home) when leading after two periods thi season.

The Bruins close out their three-game road trip (0-2-0) Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden against the Rangers to finish the month of February. The B’s return home to face the Washington Capitals on March 3rd and 5th before squaring off with the New Jersey Devils on March 7th.

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NHL Nick's Net

Halak, Bruins shutout Rangers, 1-0

Nick Ritchie scored the only goal, while Jaroslav Halak stopped 21 shots in a, 1-0, shutout for the Boston Bruins over the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Friday night.

Halak (4-0-1, 1.38 goals against, .938 save percentage in five games played) earned his 51st career shutout in the win, as well as Boston’s first shutout of the season in his first start since Feb. 1st after B’s starting goaltender, Tuukka Rask, played in the last three games.

Rask got the bulk of the workload due to additional days off thanks to a pair of games with the Buffalo Sabres having been postponed due to the league’s COVID protocol.

Rangers goaltender, Igor Shesterkin (3-4-1, 2.16 GAA, .922 SV% in nine games played) made 29 saves on 30 shots faced for a .967 SV% in the loss.

The Bruins improved to 10-1-2 (22 points) and remained 1st in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while the Rangers fell to 4-6-3 (11 points) overall and stuck in 6th place in the division.

The Bruins were without the services of Ondrej Kase (upper body) and Matt Grzelcyk (lower body) on Friday as both players were out of the lineup due to injury.

Kase’s missed 11 games this season due to an upper body injury sustained on Jan. 16th at New Jersey, while Grzelcyk returned to the lineup on Wednesday night, but re-aggravated his nagging lower body injury and was held out of Friday night’s matchup– missing his seventh game of the season in the process.

As a result, Boston head coach, Bruce Cassidy, replaced Grzelcyk with Connor Clifton on the second defensive pairing and made no other changes to his lineup from Wednesday night’s, 3-2, overtime win in New York.

Greg McKegg, Par Lindholm, John Moore, Steven Kampfer, Callum Booth, Anton Blidh and Karson Kuhlman made up Boston’s all healthy scratches and/or taxi squad members Friday night.

Brad Marchand and Mika Zibanejad had a standoff after the pregame warmup as neither player would leave the ice (both players like to be the last one off the rink for their respective teams).

Marchand lost an ensuing rock-paper-scissors battle, which left Zibanejad as the last player off about five minutes after the ice resurfacing machines had already passed them by.

Less than a minute into the opening frame, Clifton inadvertently sent the puck over the glass and drew an automatic delay of game infraction 56 seconds into the first period.

New York did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Moments later, Kaapo Kakko tripped Craig Smith and presented the Bruins with their first power play of the night at 6:02 of the first period, but Boston’s power play was also equally as powerless.

Late in first period, Brandon Carlo was penalized for interference, but the Rangers couldn’t muster anything on the power play at 17:01.

Entering the first intermission at Madison Square Garden on Friday night, the Bruins and Rangers were tied, 0-0, on the scoreboard, despite New York holding a, 10-6, advantage in shots on goal.

The Blue Shirts also held the advantage in takeaways (4-3) and hits (14-7), while the B’s led in blocked shots (5-2) and faceoff win percentage (56-44).

Both teams had three giveaways each, while the Rangers were 0/2 and the Bruins were 0/1 on the power play after one period of action.

Early in the middle frame, Charlie Coyle slashed Julien Gauthier and was sent to the sin bin as a result.

New York couldn’t convert on the resulting power play at 2:12 of the second period, however, and was quickly shorthanded themselves after their skater advantage ended when Brendan Lemieux was dealt a minor for boarding against Sean Kuraly at 4:23.

Boston couldn’t find the back of the net on the resulting power play.

Moments later, Charlie McAvoy and Jacob Trouba exchanged pleasantries and received roughing minors at 6:33 after a few quick punches were thrown.

Trouba picked up an extra roughing infraction, yielding another power play to Boston that went unfulfilled.

In the vulnerable minute after the skater advantage, however, Ritchie (5) pocketed the puck off of Shesterkin’s pad and in between the post for the game’s only goal at 9:27 of the second period.

David Krejci (10) and Jeremy Lauzon (3) tallied the assists on Ritchie’s goal and the Bruins led, 1-0.

On the ensuing faceoff, Trent Frederic and Lemieux dropped the gloves before attempting to bash each others’ faces in with their fists.

The two players received fighting majors at 9:28 and play continued at even strength, 5-on-5.

It was the fifth fight of the second for Boston and first since Chris Wagner fought Anthony Bitetto on Wednesday night in New York.

About a minute later, after a post-whistle scrum, Marchand cross checked Brett Howden, who countered with a slash on Marchand, while Kuraly was being assessed a boarding penalty on the original call.

With Marchand and Kuraly heading to the box while only one Ranger (Howden) cut a rut to the sin bin, New York went on the power play at 10:41 of the second period.

The Blue Shirts were not successful on the ensuing advantage.

Late in the period, Lauzon and Pavel Buchnevich gave it a go behind the play after Lauzon finished his hit on the Rangers forward behind Halak in New York’s attacking zone.

Buchnevich received five-minutes for fighting, while Lauzon picked up a fighting major as well as a ten-minute misconduct at 15:14.

It was the sixth fight of the season for Boston and the first since Frederic and Lemieux dropped the gloves earlier in the second period.

Through 40 minutes of action on Friday night, the Bruins led, 1-0, on the scoreboard and, 24-16, in shots on goal, including an, 18-6, advantage in shots on goal in the second period alone.

Boston also held the advantage in faceoff win% (56-44), while New York led in takeaways (11-5), giveaways (8-4) and hits (23-15).

Both teams had eight blocked shots aside after two periods.

The Rangers were 0/4 and the B’s were 0/3 on the power play heading into the second intermission.

Trouba was guilty of holding Anders Bjork at 1:38 of the third period and presented Boston with an early power play to kick off the action in the final frame of regulation, but the Bruins– once again– could not score on the skater advantage.

McAvoy tripped Kakko and presented the Rangers with a power play at 4:31 of the third period, but New York couldn’t fire anything past Halak on the resulting 5-on-4 advantage.

With 6:38 remaining in the game, Ryan Lindgren smacked his face along the glass on a followthrough from Lauzon landing an otherwise clean bodycheck.

Lindgren had a cut above the eye and was able to skate off on his own power, get a towel on the bench and some minor repairs before returning to the action in the closing minutes unscathed.

Rangers head coach, David Quinn, pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker with 1:10 left in the game, but even despite calling a timeout and having a 6-on-4 advantage after McAvoy cleared the rubber biscuit over the glass for an automatic delay of game penalty at 18:58, New York couldn’t execute a game-tying plan.

At the final horn, Boston had won, 1-0, and earned a shutout on the road at Madison Square Garden for the first time since March 9, 2008, when Alex Auld earned a shutout in a, 1-0, shootout loss for the Bruins.

The B’s finished Friday night’s effort leading in shots on goal, 30-21, including a, 6-5, advantage in the third period alone.

Boston also maintained a lead in blocked shots (18-12) and faceoff win% (54-46), while New York capped off the night leading in giveaways (9-5) and hits (31-23).

The Rangers went 0/6 on the power play, while the Bruins were 0/4 Friday night.

The Bruins extended their winning streak to five games– earning each of them on the road in the process.

Boston improved to 3-1-0 when tied after the first period, 5-0-0 when leading after two periods and 6-0-0 when scoring the game’s first goal this season with the win.

The Bruins face the New York Islanders on the road Saturday before returning home (possibly) to face the New Jersey Devils on Feb. 18th (if it doesn’t get postponed).

New Jersey still has a lot of players in COVID protocol, so there’s no guarantee that Boston will play another home game before taking on the Philadelphia Flyers outdoors on Feb. 21st at Lake Tahoe.

And if the Flyers have too many players in COVID protocol, the Rangers are reportedly ready to make the trip to face Boston outdoors.

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NHL Nick's Net

Marchand’s OT goal lifts Bruins over Rangers, 3-2

Brad Marchand did what he does best in overtime– scored the game-winning goal– on Wednesday night as the Boston Bruins beat the New York Rangers, 3-2, at Madison Square Garden.

Boston goaltender, Tuukka Rask (6-1-1, 2.31 goals against average, .906 save percentage in eight games played) stopped 33 out of 35 shots faced for a .943 SV% in the overtime win.

Alexandar Georgiev (1-2-2, 3.21 GAA, .891 SV% in five games played) made 29 saves on 32 shots against (.906 SV%) in the overtime loss for New York.

The Bruins improved to 9-1-2 (20 points) on the season and continue to lead the MassMutual NHL East Division, while the New York Rangers fell to 4-5-3 (11 points), but surpassed the Buffalo Sabres and New Jersey Devils for 6th place in the division.

Matt Grzelcyk (lower body) and Jake DeBrusk (lower body) returned to the lineup since being injured on Jan. 28th and Jan. 26th, respectively.

Grzeclyk returned to his usual role on the left side of the second defensive pairing, while DeBrusk was placed on the third line left wing with Charlie Coyle at center and Anders Bjork on the right side.

Anton Blidh was scratched in favor of Trent Frederic on the fourth line left wing.

Meanwhile, Ondrej Kase (upper body) remained out of the lineup for the 10th time this season due to an injury sustained on Jan. 16th in New Jersey.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made no other changes to his lineup.

Greg McKegg, Jack Studnicka, Par Lindholm, John Moore, Steven Kampfer, Connor Clifton, Callum Booth, Blidh and Karson Kuhlman were all healthy scratches and/or members of the taxi squad on Wednesday.

A little past the midpoint of the opening frame, Brendan Lemieux won a battle along the boards before working the puck off of Bruins forward, Sean Kuraly’s, stick and into the slot where Julien Gauthier (1) reached out to pocket the puck into the twine for his first career National Hockey League goal.

Lemieux (2) had the only assist on Gauthier’s goal and the Rangers led, 1-0, at 13:50 of the first period.

About a couple minutes later, Chris Kreider tripped up Jeremy Lauzon and presented Boston with their first power play opportunity of the night at 15:47.

The Bruins weren’t able to convert on the ensuing skater advantage, however.

After one period of play at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night, New York led, 1-0, on the scoreboard, despite splitting shots on goal evenly at, 6-6.

The Rangers held the advantage in takeaways (3-2), while the Bruins had the advantage in hits (8-6) and faceoff win percentage (60-40) after 20 minutes.

Both teams had four blocked shots each and four giveaways aside while only the B’s had seen any action on the power play (0/1) entering the first intermission.

Almost midway through the middle frame, Craig Smith slashed Ryan Strome and was assessed a minor infraction, yielding a power play to New York at 8:05 of the second period.

While on the penalty kill, Chris Wagner (2) emerged on a breakaway for Boston and sent the puck under Georgiev’s glove side to tie the game, 1-1, at 9:41.

Wagner’s shorthanded goal was unassisted.

Moments later, Strome slashed Bjork and cut a rut to the penalty box at 13:30 as a result.

Boston’s power play was once again powerless, however, as the Rangers killed Strome’s minor with ease– often spending time on the penalty kill in the attacking zone.

After 40 minutes of action at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, the Bruins and Rangers were tied, 1-1, on the scoreboard.

Boston held the advantage in shots on goal, 25-20, including a, 19-14, advantage in the second period alone, while also leading in faceoff win% (67-33) after two periods.

New York led in blocked shots (11-5), giveaways (11-9) and hits (16-13), while both teams had five takeaways each entering the second intermission.

The Rangers were 0/1 and the B’s were 0/2 on the power play heading into the final frame of regulation.

DeBrusk thought he scored early in the third period when he rang the crossbar on a shot that bounced at the goal line, but the rubber biscuit just didn’t cross over the goal line completely– bouncing at an angle out of the crease and resulting in a “no goal” call (even after review).

Moments later, Bjork worked the puck to DeBrusk in the trapezoid who promptly sent it back to Bjork (1) for the goal from point blank while crashing the low slot to give the Bruins their first lead of the night, 2-1.

Bjork’s goal was assisted by DeBrusk (2) and Kevan Miller (2) at 9:00 of the third period.

Less than a minute later, Wagner and Anthony Bitetto exchanged fisticuffs, yielding fighting majors to go with a high sticking minor and a roughing infraction, respectively at 9:17.

It was the fourth fight this season for Boston and the first since Clifton fought Nicolas Aube-Kubel on Feb. 5th in Philadelphia.

A couple of minutes later, Ryan Lindgren let go of a shot from the point that Lemieux possibly tipped with a high stick, but deflected the rubber biscuit off of Grzelcyk before bouncing off of Rask and landing in the crease.

Kevin Rooney (3) was in the right place at the right time to pocket the puck into the twine and tie the game, 2-2.

Lemieux (2) and Lindgren (3) notched the assists as New York evened things up at 11:22 of the third period, despite a review that confirmed the call on the ice (goal).

Less than a couple minutes later, David Krejci tripped Lemieux and was assessed a minor penalty at 13:02, but the Rangers couldn’t muster anything on the ensuing power play.

As time winded down in the third period, Rask took an excursion towards the bench mistakenly believing the score to be, 2-1, in favor of the Rangers.

After Charlie McAvoy and the rest of the Bruins bench alerted their netminder that the game was actually tied, Rask returned to his crease unscathed and with a good laugh at the next stoppage of play.

With the score tied, 2-2, after regulation, the two clubs required overtime (at least) to determine a winner, despite New York holding an advantage in shots on goal, 35-31, after 60 minutes of action– including a, 15-6, advantage in the third period alone.

The Rangers also held the advantage in blocked shots (17-9), giveaways (15-14) and hits (29-21), while the Bruins led in takeaways (7-6) and faceoff win% (68-32).

As no penalties were called in the overtime period, both sides finished 0/2 on the power play Wednesday night.

Cassidy started Patrice Bergeron, Marchand and McAvoy in the overtime period, while New York head coach, David Quinn, countered with Mika Zibanejad, Pavel Buchnevich and Adam Fox.

Marchand had a chance early in the overtime period to end it, but the puck just wouldn’t settle the right way as the veteran Bruin forward was tripped and instead presented a chance for the Rangers to score at the opposite end.

After Boston broke up New York’s play, Bergeron worked the puck to McAvoy who then fed Marchand with a lead pass to set Marchand (8) on a breakaway whereby No. 63 in black and gold deked and sent a shot off the left post and in behind Georgiev to win the game, 3-2.

McAvoy (10) and Bergeron (10) notched the assists on Marchand’s game-winning overtime goal 36 seconds into the extra frame as the Bruins sealed the deal on the victory.

At the final horn Boston had won, 3-2, despite finishing the night behind in shots on goal, 35-32, to the Rangers (the Bruins had a, 1-0, shot advantage in overtime alone, however).

New York wrapped up Wednesday night’s action leading in blocked shots (17-9) and hits (29-21), while the B’s finished the night leading in faceoff win% (69-31).

Both teams had 15 hits aside as the Bruins improved to 3-2 in overtime (5-2 past regulation) this season.

The Rangers, on the other hand, fell to 1-2 in overtime alone (1-3 past regulation) in 2020-21.

With the primary assist on Marchand’s game-winning goal, McAvoy extended his assist streak to eight games (1-10–11 totals in that span)– becoming the first Bruins defender to record at least an eight-game assist streak since Ray Bourque’s 10-game streak in the 1992-93 season (Bourque had 4-13–17 totals in that span).

Boston improved to 2-0-2 when trailing after the first period, 3-1-1 when tied after the second period and 4-1-2 when allowing the game’s first goal this season.

The Bruins take on the Rangers again at Madison Square Garden on Friday before venturing to Long Island to face the New York Islanders on Saturday. Boston was scheduled to return home on Feb. 15th to face the New Jersey Devils, but that game has already been postponed due to numerous Devils players being in COVID protocol.

The B’s are scheduled to return home on Feb. 18th against New Jersey before facing the Philadelphia Flyers on Feb. 21st outdoors at Lake Tahoe.

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Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #204- Late For Everything!

Nick and Colby talk about what went wrong for the Toronto Maple Leafs and other teams eliminated in the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifier, as well as preview the already in progress 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round.

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

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NHL Nick's Net

Halak, B’s beat Rangers, 3-1

The Boston Bruins beat the New York Rangers, 3-1, at Madison Square Garden on Sunday afternoon and swept their regular season series (3-0-0) against New York for the first time since the 2013-14 season.

Jaroslav Halak (15-6-6 record, 2.31 goals against average, .922 save percentage in 27 games played) stopped 25 out of 26 shots faced for a .962 SV% in the win for the Bruins.

Rangers goaltender, Alexandar Georgiev (14-12-1, 2.98 GAA, .912 SV% in 28 games played) made 31 saves on 33 shots against for a .939 SV% in the loss.

Boston improved to 37-11-12 (86 points) on the season and remained in command of the Atlantic Division, while New York fell to 30-24-4 (64 points) and in 7th place in the Metropolitan Division.

The B’s also improved to 16-9-3 on the road this season and have won ten out of their last 12 games.

Boston was without the services of Kevan Miller (knee) on Sunday as the Bruins defender has yet to make his season debut due to lingering issues from his knee injury last season and subsequent re-injuries since then.

Connor Clifton (upper body), while listed as “day-to-day” since being injured against the Buffalo Sabres on Dec. 29th, was reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) ahead of Sunday’s contest as part of a conditioning stint and is likely to return to full health with Boston in the near future.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made no changes to his lineup from Saturday’s, 4-1, win against the Detroit Red Wings, while Halak was back in the net for the first time since Feb. 5th (a, 2-1, overtime win in Chicago).

Par Lindholm, John Moore and Anton Blidh served as Boston’s healthy scratches on Sunday.

Midway through the opening frame, Ryan Lindgren checked Brad Marchand along the wall at the benches and got into a bit of an exchange that resulted in only the Rangers defender heading to the penalty box with a minor infraction for roughing at 11:31 of the first period.

Boston didn’t convert on the ensuing power play.

In the final minute of the first period, Charlie McAvoy (3) ripped a shot from the point that appeared to have redirected off a New York skater prior to the puck floating in the air and over Geogiev’s shoulder for the game’s first goal at 19:18.

McAvoy’s goal– his third in the last six games for the B’s– was unassisted with 41.7 seconds left in the period.

The Bruins led, 1-0, on the scoreboard entering the first intermission and, 11-9, in shots on goal.

Boston also held the advantage in giveaways (4-3), while New York led in blocked shots (6-4), hits (11-6) and faceoff win percentage (52-48). Both teams had one takeaway aside.

The Rangers had yet to see time on the skater advantage and the Bruins were 0/1 on the power play heading into the second period.

Early in the middle frame, David Krejci caught Lindgren with a high stick on a follow through while both players went after a bouncing puck.

Krejci’s high stick drew blood and resulted in a four-minute double minor penalty at 5:06 of the second period. The Rangers failed to capitalize on the lengthy power play.

Late in the period, Marchand cross checked Lindgren after the Rangers defender shoved Bruins forward, Patrice Bergeron, after a stoppage in play in front of the New York net.

Marchand was assessed a minor infraction at 17:14 and the Rangers went on the power play.

While on the ensuing penalty kill, Charlie Coyle (14) stole the puck from New York defender, Jacob Trouba, and created his own breakaway before elevating the puck over Georgiev’s glove side to give Boston a two-goal lead.

Coyle’s short handed goal was unassisted and gave the Bruins a, 2-0, lead at 18:42 of the second period.

Less than a minute later, after killing off Marchand’s minor, Boston went on the power play after Mika Zibanejad tripped up Marchand in Boston’s own zone at 19:33.

The B’s did not score on the resulting power play.

After two periods of play, the Bruins led, 2-0, on the scoreboard and in shots on goal, 24-17.

The B’s also held the advantage in takeaways (5-4), hits (18-17) and faceoff win% (56-44), while the Rangers led in blocked shots (10-8) and giveaways (14-8).

New York was 0/3 on the power play and Boston was 0/2 on the skater advantage heading into the third period.

Karson Kuhlman kicked off the final frame with an interference minor infraction against Marc Staal at 4:23 of the third period. The Rangers did not score on the resulting power play, but got another chance almost midway through the final frame.

Torey Krug tripped up Zibanejad at 9:05 and presented New York with their fifth power play opportunity of the afternoon.

Less than a minute into the ensuing skater advantage, Zibanejad (25) rocketed a shot from the point that ricocheted off a Bruins player’s stick and into the twine behind Halak– cutting Boston’s lead in half, 2-1.

Artemi Panarin (49) and Ryan Strome (36) tallied the assists on Zibanejad’s goal at 9:52 of the third period and New York surged in momentum.

Boston was able to withstand the Rangers’ rally as New York’s head coach, David Quinn, pulled Georgiev for an extra attacker with 90 seconds remaining in regulation.

After the Bruins iced the puck with 35.5 seconds left in the game, the Rangers used their timeout to draw up one last plan in effort to tie the game, but it was to no avail as the B’s worked the puck out of their own zone upon the ensuing faceoff.

Marchand found Bergeron (26) in the dying seconds of the game for the empty net goal that assured Boston of the, 3-1, victory.

Bergeron’s goal was assisted by Marchand (51) at 19:47 of the third period and sealed the deal for the Bruins as the final horn sounded 12.2 seconds later.

Boston finished the afternoon with a “W” in the win column and the lead in shots on goal (34-26) and faceoff win% (55-45), while New York finished the game with the advantage in blocked shots (16-12), giveaways (20-12) and hits (29-25).

The Rangers finished Sunday’s effort 1/5 on the power play, while the Bruins went 0/2 on the skater advantage.

The Bruins improved to 22-7-8 when scoring the game’s first goal, 21-5-3 when leading after the first period and 22-1-6 when leading after two periods this season.

New York, on the other hand, fell to 10-16-1 when they allow the game’s first goal, 5-14-2 when trailing after the first period and 2-18-0 when trailing after two periods this season.

Boston continues their four-game road trip (1-0-0) with stops against the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday (Feb. 19th), Calgary Flames on Friday (Feb. 21st) and Vancouver Canucks next Saturday (Feb. 22nd).

The B’s return home for a two-game homestand on Feb. 25th and Feb. 27th for meetings with the Flames and Dallas Stars, respectively, before wrapping up the month of February with a road game against the New York Islanders on Feb. 29th.

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Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #166- New New New York

Nick and Colby recap the headlines from the last month as well as take a look at all of the New York market teams and try to figure out if any of them are actually any good as Season Six of the podcast begins.

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

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Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #156- Second Round Surge

Nick and Pete discuss whether or not it’s worth pursuing Pavel Datsyuk this summer, the Adam Fox trade and what it means for the New York Rangers, as well as more Second Round musings in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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

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Previews

2018 Offseason Preview: New York Rangers

Our offseason previews for all 31 National Hockey League teams continues with the New York Rangers and their outlook for the summer.

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It was a bit of a transition year rebuild for the New York Rangers in 2017-18 as the team finished 8th (last) in the Metropolitan Division with a 34-39-9 record and 77 points on the season.

Lias Andersson, Vladislav Namestnikov and Ryan Spooner are highlights among newfound Rangers forwards, though Andersson has been with New York for his entire career (he was their first round pick in 2017). Of course, Namestnikov and Spooner are both pending-restricted free agents and were acquired in deals leading up to the 2018 trade deadline that sent Ryan McDonagh, J.T. Miller and Rick Nash packing.

Alain Vigneault is no longer the head coach (fired on the last day of the regular season in April) and David Quinn– most recently of Boston University notoriety as the Terriers head coach– was hired last month to take over behind the bench.

The Big Apple’s king, Henrik Lundqvist, is still dashingly good looking and fashionable as ever before, but still has yet to win a Cup and is 36-years-old.

2018 NHL Entry Draft

New York Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton has the best case scenario heading into this year’s draft. He has three first round picks to utilize (his own, Boston’s and Tampa’s) on top of two second rounders (NYR and NJ) and two picks in the third round (NYR and BOS), with one pick in each of the remaining rounds except for the seventh round.

The 2018 Draft is a deeper draft than usual. Additionally, the Rangers are pretty much set in their mixture of youth, speed and skill in their retooled offense and defense, thanks to large returns on trades with Boston and Tampa (specifically) leading up to the deadline.

They sent Nick Holden to the Bruins for a third round pick and Rob O’Gara, then later dealt Nash to Boston for Spooner, Ryan Lindgren, Matt Beleskey, a 2018 first round pick and a 2019 seventh round pick.

New York traded Miller and McDonagh to the Lightning in exchange for Libor Hajek, Brett Howden, Namestnikov, a 2018 first round pick and a conditional 2019 second round pick.

Gorton can be content to fill his heart’s desires in this year’s first round or he can simply opt for the best available prospect and build a better team that way too. He could also trade a pick or two for some valuable players to add to the roster here and now.

Whatever he chooses, the Rangers have the 9th, 26th and 28th overall picks in the 2018 Draft.

Pending free agents

With almost $25.000 million to spend this offseason, the Rangers are right where they want to be if they’re aiming for a quick rebuild. They might be on the outside of the playoffs again in 2019, but any improvement in the Metropolitan Division standings is an improvement considering they finished last in 2017-18.

Pending unrestricted free agent forwards Paul Carey, 29, and Cody McLeod, 33, might not be brought back on any other team, however, Carey’s seven goals and seven assists (14 points) are good enough as a bottom-six forward to keep him around for another year or two.

McLeod, on the other hand, is getting near the age where players in today’s NHL age themselves out of the game. There’s no offensive spark and New York’s not built around a fight-first mentality– especially as they’re trying to get younger and faster.

Between Carey and McLeod, expect Carey to be brought back somewhere around $1.000 million for another year, at least.

The biggest priority for Gorton to re-sign this offseason resides in Spooner, Namestnikov, Kevin Hayes and Jimmy Vesey as all four forwards are pending restricted free agents.

Spooner, 26, rebounded from a 39-point season in 78 games for Boston in 2016-17 to a 41-point effort in 59 games with the Bruins and Rangers this season on a $2.825 million one-year bridge deal signed with Boston late last July. He had 49 points in his rookie season (80 games in 2015-16) and should run New York somewhere around $4.000-6.000 million AAV on his next deal (assuming he’s re-signed) as their top or second line center.

Namestnikov, 25, had a breakout 48-point season with the Lightning and Rangers this season in 81 games played. He’ll likely get a similar deal to Spooner, which Gorton and his front office should see no problem agreeing to as the club moves forward in a new direction.

Hayes, 26, had 25-19–44 totals in 76 games, setting a new career-high in goals in what was otherwise an average season in scoring for the better Hayes brother. Keep him.

Vesey, 25, had every right to spurn the Nashville Predators and Buffalo Sabres by exercising his playing rights as a college prospect, but managed one point better than his rookie season with the Rangers. He had 16-11–27 totals in 80 games played in 2016-17 and 17-11–28 totals in 79 games played in 2017-18. That’s… not great.

New York’s not going to turn on Vesey quite as quickly as some fans might have, but he hasn’t earned a significant pay raise by any means yet.

On defense, the Rangers have one pending-UFA (25-year-old, Ryan Sproul) and three pending-RFAs (O’Gara, 24, John Gilmour, 25, and Brady Skjei, 24).

All of them can be re-signed if the Rangers so desire. Entering 2017-18, New York’s defense was worth tweaking– and they did. Now, perhaps it’s time to assess what they really have for a season.

But if they can dump Brendan Smith anywhere instead of receiving a little over $1.000 million in salary relief by burying him in the AHL, then that’d be pretty great too.

Then again, this is the same franchise that’s paying Dan Girardi $3.611 million through 2020 and $1.111 million through 2023 thanks to their buyout last summer.

Finally, in goal for the Rangers, Lundqvist remains their starter at an $8.500 million cap hit over the remainder of his contract through the 2020-21 season. At 36, Lundqvist isn’t getting any younger and letting him rest has actually been better for his play, which brings up the question of a reliable backup goaltender.

Ondrej Pavelec, 30, is a pending-UFA and posted a 3.05 goals against average and .910 save percentage in 19 games for New York this season. That’s better than his 3.55 GAA and .888 SV% in 8 games with the Winnipeg Jets in 2016-17, but still not good considering he has a 2.88 career GAA and .907 career SV% in 398 NHL games for Atlanta/Winnipeg and the Rangers.

Gorton should trust a rotation of Brandon Halverson, 22, Alexandar Georgiev, 22, and/or Marek Mazanec, 26, in some sort of backup role or pursue a new short term backup goaltender option to hold the organization over for the time being.

Other pending free agents throughout the organization include:

Steven Fogarty (RFA), Boo Nieves (RFA), Chris Bigras (RFA), Adam Tambellini (RFA), Daniel Catenacci (UFA), John Albert (UFA)

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NHL Nick's Net

2018 Mock Draft: First Round Revisions

Nearing the end of the month of May there’s only two teams remaining in contention for the Stanley Cup– the Vegas Golden Knights and the Washington Capitals. As a result, we now have a better picture of how the first round of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft should go based on the lottery and where all the other teams fell out of the postseason.

Without having the advantage of a) being a professional scout for a living or b) having whatever kind of TV package/time-space continuum that would allow me to see every prospect play, this is the next best thing we’ve got– completely rudimentary “expert” opinion on mostly teenagers and what just might become reality from the dream of one day becoming an NHL player.

Let’s dive in, shall we?

While the Golden Knights and Capitals decide who’ll be eating cereal, drinking their favorite beverage or literally doing whatever they want with the Cup all summer, 29 other franchises are preparing for the Entry Draft right now.

“29”, you say, “but there’s not even that many teams that still have picks in the first round!”

That’s correct, but there’s seven rounds of hell to sit through while 30 other GMs make their picks before yours and every now and then Gary Bettman interrupts with a trade to announce, getting everyone excited only to reveal that a team has swapped one draft pick for two or three or a bag of pucks drafting players that all GMs have to sit through, so while not everyone may have a first round pick (because they traded it away or whatever) all 31 clubs have to prepare for the Draft anyway because depth can come from anywhere.

And yes, we went from “29 other teams are preparing” to “all 31”, but come on, you know Vegas and Washington have done their homework too, right?

Everyone– even Hockey Men who only need their own eyes once– has at least glanced over the list of prospects to choose from this June.

Anyway, this is just the second of three editions of my mock draft from earlier this month until draft day (June 22nd), so as not to confuse you, bore you or– by some miracle– humor you some more, here we go.

This year’s NHL Entry Draft is being held at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas from June 22nd-23rd.

2018_NHL_Entry_Draft_logo

1. Buffalo Sabres –> D Rasmus Dahlin, Frolunda (Sweden)

Jack Eichel hedged his compliments surrounding Dahlin as the Draft technically hasn’t occurred yet and the Sabres could shock the world and choose anyone they want not named “Rasmus Dahlin.” However, Buffalo, New York is shaping up to be the capital of the world for people with the first name “Rasmus” as of the last week or so.

It only makes sense that they land the best player in this year’s draft and, oh yeah, he’s a two-way defenseman that can get Buffalo back on track. The 6-foot-2, 181-pound blueliner is the perfect fit in blue and gold as someone who can shutdown and get the puck out of the zone in what’ll be another fast paced, rough and tumble Atlantic Division in 2018-19.

2. Carolina Hurricanes–> RW Andrei Svechnikov, Barrie (OHL)

Second-best isn’t an indication of being “first worst” by any means when it comes to Andrei Svechnikov in his draft class. The Hurricanes already have a plethora of youth and skill on the back end, so while they won’t be adding the talent of the 1st overall defender, it’s not really like they need it.

They need a pure goal scorer, a gifted top-six winger who just might land Carolina inside the postseason picture in 2019 for the first time since 2009. What a difference ten years [could] make. Svechnikov had 40-32–72 totals in 44 games with the Barrie Colts this season– just his first season of Junior hockey.

3. Montreal Canadiens–> RW Filip Zadina, Halifax (QMJHL)

Montreal’s spent a lot of time focusing on bigger and burlier players the last few years, but after finding themselves in an unusual position (a rebuild!) the Habs are ready to reload. A dynamic goal scorer and underrated as a forward, Filip Zadina fits right in with the Canadiens.

His 44 goals in 57 games for the Halifax Mooseheads this season should translate well into a lineup looking to improve their minus-55 goal differential in 2017-18. The 6-foot, 195-pound winger can change the course of a game with his sharp shot.

4. Ottawa Senators–> D Noah Dobson, Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL)

Noah Dobson can get pucks up the ice with ease while maintaining stellar two-way play. He’d be a great fit alongside Thomas Chabot, especially in what could become a post-Erik Karlsson era in Ottawa either this offseason via a trade or next offseason via free agency.

Dobson is a safe, smart, best available pick at 6-foot-3, 180-pounds. The right-shot defender had 17-52–69 totals with Acadie-Bathurst Titan this season in the QMJHL.

5. Arizona Coyotes–> RW Oliver Wahlstrom, USA U-18 (USNTDP)

Since going viral as a 9-year-old in one of the TD Bank Mini-1-on-1s years ago, Oliver Wahlstrom has had high expectations to live up to– and he’s met them. His wrist shot is among the best and he amassed 47 goals in 60 games this season with the U.S. National U-18 Team, as well as seven goals in seven games at the IIHF World Under-18 Championship.

He’s a complete package of speed and skill– something the Coyotes have been stockpiling as they center their offense around Clayton Keller. At 6-foot-1, 205-pounds, Wahlstrom’s size is already that of an NHLer, but he’ll likely go ahead and play a season with the Boston College Eagles as he intends to before going pro.

6. Detroit Red Wings–> D Quintin Hughes, Michigan (BIG10)

The Red Wings have a need for young, quality, defenders (aside from Xavier Ouellet). Luckily for them, Quintin Hughes is available as a decent skater with excellent puck skills (hands and a heavy shot). Like Torey Krug, Hughes can control the game by moving the puck and firing off an accurate shot.

7. Vancouver Canucks–> LW Brady Tkachuk, Boston University (H-East)

Losing the Sedins to retirement doesn’t hurt as much when you add the brother of one of your biggest rivals. Brady Tkachuk is equally as intense and gritty as his brother Matthew is with the Calgary Flames, but the younger Tkachuk has more of an offensive upside to his game– pure scoring ability. At 6-foot-3, 196-pounds, he’ll fit in well with the Canucks core players, Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser.

8. Chicago Blackhawks–> D Evan Bouchard, London (OHL)

The Blackhawks have quite a few cracks in their roster since they lost Trevor van Riemsdyk in the Vegas expansion draft, Marian Hossa to a skin condition and Patrick Sharp to retirement. They traded Ryan Hartman, Michal Kempny and Tommy Wingels at the deadline and desperately need to replenish their defensive depth. They’ve also got an aging problem, with Duncan Keith (34) and Brent Seabrook (33) signed for a long time.

Luckily for Chicago, Evan Bouchard is one of the best new-age defenders that had 25-62–87 totals in 67 games for the London Knights this season. Bouchard is a 6-foot-2, 193-pound, right-shot defenseman that can be a leader from the back end. His transition game is phenomenal and should help get the puck up the ice to core guys like Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.

9. New York Rangers–> C Rasmus Kupari, Karpat (Finland)

New York state’s “Rasmus” population increases yet again– though this time in New York City, not upstate in Buffalo– as the Rangers welcome new head coach, David Quinn, with Rasmus Kupari’s skill set to add to the fold. Kupari is the best Finnish forward in the draft and with Ryan Spooner as a pending-RFA and more to sort out this offseason, New York’s looking to make smart picks in both the now and down the road.

A 6-foot-1, 183-pound center isn’t the worst place to start as they continue to transition their game with the likes of Lias Andersson, Spooner and Vladislav Namestnikov.

10. Edmonton Oilers–>D Adam Boqvist, Brynas (SWE-JR)

Edmonton Oilers general manager, Peter Chiarelli, would like to find a stable, young defenseman this offseason without overpaying. If Chiarelli is fine giving Adam Boqvist a little time to come into his own, then Chiarelli shouldn’t have to look any further than the 10th overall pick that he’s got.

The 5-foot-11, 168-pound, Swedish born defender could use another year in the SHL before becoming a two-way power on the Oilers defense.

11. New York Islanders–> C/LW Isac Lundestrom, Lulea (Sweden)

In the first of back-to-back picks, the Islanders look to round-out a group of young forwards that can develop and work together. A 5-foot-11, 178-pound forward, Isac Lundestrom should play a role in the Islanders top-six forwards after another year or two of SHL play.

12. New York Islanders (via Calgary Flames)–> LW Joel Farabee, USA U-18 (USNTDP)

Lou Lamoriello’s welcome to New York comes in the form of two solid back-to-back draft picks with Joel Farabee being the more NHL-ready of the two at the moment thanks to his knowledge of the North American game compared to Lundestrom. The 5-foot-11, 164-pound left winger has a lot of speed and tremendous hockey IQ that he’ll be bringing to Boston University this fall.

Meanwhile the Islanders are busy trying to re-sign John Tavares right now, probably.

13. Dallas Stars–> D Ty Smith, Spokane (WHL)

The Stars need to rework their defense a bit while new head coach, Jim Montgomery figures out how to fire up Jamie BennTyler Seguin and Alexander RadulovTy Smith adds to the transition game that’s already pretty strong (and reliant) on John Klingbergwhile the return of Marc Methot from injury should really anchor the blueline in Dallas.

Smith’s effective on the power play and has some room to grow as a 5-foot-10, 175-pound defender.

14. Philadelphia Flyers (via St. Louis Blues)–> D Bode Wilde, USA U-18 (USNTDP)

Bode Wilde’s a 6-foot-2, 197-pound behemoth on the blue line. An underrated defender, he should develop nicely into a top-four role– and that’s even among an already stacked group of defensive prospects in Philadelphia.

15. Florida Panthers–> C Barrett Hayton, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)

Florida turned a lot of heads almost making the playoffs despite trading Reilly Smith to the Vegas Golden Knights and leaving Jonathan Marchessault exposed at the Expansion Draft last June. Despite their obvious setbacks, the Panthers picked up Frank Vatrano in a deal with the Bruins back in February, so they’ve kind of rounded out their top-six forwards.

Barrett Hayton’s a smart pickup with 21-39–60 totals in 63 games this season for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. He might need a year or two more in Juniors to develop, but for a “best available” grab, he’s the real deal.

16. Colorado Avalanche–> C Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Assat (Finland)

The Avalanche had quite a run in 2017-18 and so did Jesperi Kotkaniemi with Assat this season in Liiga. The young center had 10 goals and 19 assists (29 points) in 57 games in the Finnish league. Despite a postseason collapse in production, Kotkaniemi’s talent development projection looks fine with another year in Europe while Colorado looks to make more noise in the Central Division in 2018-19.

17. New Jersey Devils–> C Joseph Veleno, Drummondville (QMJHL)

6-foot-1, 193-pounds, an incredible work ethic and a decent hockey IQ, Joseph Veleno is hard to overlook, but somehow he lands in the lap of the Devil(s). He had 22 goals and 57 assists (79 points) in 64 games with Drummondville this season.

New Jersey recognizes talent when they see it under Ray Shero’s reign and Veleno should fit well as the roster continues to transition to a younger game alongside Nico Hischier and Taylor Hall.

18. Columbus Blue Jackets–> C Jack McBain, Toronto (OJHL)

Jack McBain’s a gifted playmaker that should pan out in a couple of years really well alongside the likes of Artemi Panarin and the rest of the Columbus Blue Jackets. He had 5-19–24 totals in 39 games for the Toronto Jr. Canadiens this season and will be attending Boston College this fall.

19. Philadelphia Flyers–> LW Grigori Denisenko, Yaroslavl 2 (Russia)

Philadelphia snags a sneaky good forward in Grigori Denisenko as the winger is crafty and should come into his own in two-to-three years as he works his way up in MHL/KHL prominence.

20. Los Angeles Kings–> RW Serron Noel, Oshawa (OHL)

Los Angeles is getting younger, faster and more skilled than ever before in franchise history– adapting as the game has evolved to its current form– and Serron Noel brings all facets of the current game into the Kings organization. The 6-foot-5, 205-pound right-winger could likely go well ahead of 20th overall as he’s been compared to the likes of Blake Wheeler.

21. San Jose Sharks–> D Jared McIsaac, Halifax (QMJHL)

Jared McIsaac is a burly, 6-foot-1, 195-pound, defender that amassed 47 points in 65 games with Halifax this season. His size and skill alone should be enough to compensate for the beating and battering in the battle for California between San Jose and their rivals in SoCal.

22. Ottawa Senators (via Pittsburgh Penguins)–> D Ryan Merkley, Guelph (OHL)

An offensive defenseman, Ryan Merkley had 13 goals in 63 games for Guelph this season. At 5-foot-11, 170-pounds, he’ll need some time to develop his physical presence to an NHL grade, but he’s shown some feisty two-way play in his time in Junior.

23. Anaheim Ducks–> C Benoit-Olivier Groulx, Halifax (QMJHL)

Anaheim likes big and brash forwards. Benoit-Olivier Groulx’s 6-foot, 192-pound frame fits the bill (get it, because they’re the Ducks) quite well, but Groulx brings more than just a big body– he had 55 points in 68 games with the Mooseheads this season, proving he’s more than just a power forward down the middle.

24. Minnesota Wild–> D Rasmus Sandin, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)

Sandin’s offensive style fits right in the new-age Minnesota Wild now that new general manager, Paul Fenton, is in charge. Jonas Brodin, Matt Dumba and some combination of Ryan Suter or Jared Spurgeon and Rasmus Sandin just might be the Wild’s top-4 defensive core in the near future.

25. Toronto Maple Leafs–> RW Akil Thomas, Niagara (OHL)

Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas makes his big-time debut by snagging Akil Thomas with his first pick in the draft. Thomas’s impressive 81-point performance this season with the Niagara IceDogs shows promise as he’s got some time to focus on growing more into the NHL game. His offensive potential is just waiting to be tapped into in its full form.

26. New York Rangers (via Boston Bruins)–> LW Albin Eriksson, Skelleftå (SWE J20)

With their second pick of the first round, the Rangers pick up a player with 22-18–40 totals in 38 games for his Junior team in Sweden this season. That player is Albin Eriksson and fans in New York better get used to hearing his name in a couple of years. He’s a work in progress in terms of making the jump to the SHL, but with a plethora of youth and a solid core built at Madison Square Garden, there’s no need to rush perfection.

27. Chicago Blackhawks (via Nashville Predators)–> C/LW Ryan McLeod, Mississauga (OHL)

McLeod notched 26 goals and 44 assists (70 points) with the Steelheads in 68 games this season, slightly more than doubling his offensive production in 2016-17– his sophomore year in Junior. He might be one of the more NHL ready prospects, otherwise the Blackhawks can expect more of the same if he rounds out his Junior career in 2018-19. Unless he pencils his name on Chicago’s roster this fall.

28. New York Rangers (via Tampa Bay Lightning)–> D Adam Ginning, Linköping (SHL)

The Rangers have some decent depth along the blueline with Ryan Lindgren and Libor Hajek looking to emerge as NHLers this upcoming season, but they’re about to see some serious competition for one of the top-6 jobs, if not now, then definitely in another year. Adam Ginning is capable of growing into a more prominent shutdown role.

29. St. Louis Blues (via Winnipeg Jets)–> C/LW Fillip Hallander, Timra (Sweden)

St. Louis could use some tweaks and a plan down the middle this offseason. Thankfully, Fillip Hallander might be able to ease the worries of some Blues fans if they can be patient with Hallander spending another year in the SHL. He had nine goals and 11 assists (20 points) in 40 games with Timra this season, which shows he’s young and has time to develop.

30. Washington Capitals–> D Mattias Samuelsson, USA U-18 (USNTDP)

With ample certainty, Samuelsson will be the 30th overall pick in the 2018 Draft, however, whether he’ll be going to Washington or Detroit (or elsewhere) is dependent upon the outcome of the Stanley Cup Final (and/or any potential trades).

31. Detroit Red Wings (via Vegas Golden Knights)–> C David Gustafsson, HV71 (SHL)

Ditto.