To mark 200 episodes of the DTFR Podcast, Nick and Colby talk about the origin story of DTFR, give podcast advice and share some of their favorite memories from the show or otherwise from the last six years of Down the Frozen River. Also, Lindy Ruff is the new head coach of the New Jersey Devils, more Florida Panthers talk and extended CBA musings.
The San Jose Sharks dealt Patrick Marleau to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a conditional 2021 3rd round pick at Monday’s trade deadline.
Sharks GM Doug Wilson was in a selling mood for the first time in a while as Penguins GM Jim Rutherford was buying low left and right in hopes of getting back to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2017.
The two teams met in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final, in which Marleau’s Sharks lost to the Penguins in six games, but it seems all is good between the competitors– or at least, Marleau’s going to one of his favorite teams as a kid and now has a chance of seeing at least one more postseason before he ultimately hangs up the skates.
San Jose will receive a 2021 2nd round pick instead of the Pens’ 2021 3rd round pick if Pittsburgh wins the Cup.
Marleau, 40, is a pending-unrestricted free agent at season’s end and had 10-10–20 totals in 58 games with San Jose this season.
The Aneroid, Saskatchewan native is 52 games shy of tying Gordie Howe’s record for the most games played all time and is in his 22nd NHL season (20 with San Jose and two with the Toronto Maple Leafs).
The 6-foot-2, 215-pound winger was previously traded in the offseason by the Maple Leafs to the Carolina Hurricanes along with a conditional 2020 1st round pick and a 2020 7th round pick in exchange for a 2020 6th round pick before he was bought out by Carolina and signed with the Sharks as a free agent on Oct. 9, 2019.
Marleau served as captain of the Sharks for five seasons (2003-09) and was an alternate captain in his time with San Jose (2002-03, 2009-16) and Toronto (2017-19).
He has 561 goals and 625 assists (1,186 points) in 1,715 career NHL games for the Sharks and Maple Leafs and was originally drafted by San Jose in the first round (2nd overall) of the 1997 NHL Entry Draft, which was in (you guessed it) Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
With the acquisition of the conditional 2021 3rd round pick and a 2020 1st round pick in a separate trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Sharks have 15 selections in the next two NHL Entry Drafts– including two in the 2020 2nd round and three in the 2021 3rd round.
While Marleau is best suited for a chance at his elusive first Stanley Cup championship in Pittsburgh, the same cannot be said for long-time Shark, Joe Thornton, who elected to stay in San Jose instead of waiving his no-movement clause for a trade to a Cup contender.
The DTFR Podcast is back from hiatus as Nick provides a State of the Podcast, reviews a few things from the last couple of months and delves into all of the transactions leading up to the 2020 NHL trade deadline.
Charlie Coyle scored two goals in the Boston Bruins’, 4-2, victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday afternoon at TD Garden– extending Boston’s winning streak to six-games in the process.
In the meantime, Arizona has not defeated the Bruins in their last 16 meetings.
Tuukka Rask (20-4-6 record, 2.15 goals against average, .930 save percentage in 31 games played) stopped 29 out of 31 shots faced for a .935 SV% in the win for Boston.
The Bruins goaltender improved to 12-0-6 at TD Garden this season, which is the best home point streak record to start a season in B’s franchise history– surpassing Gilles Gilbert’s record set in the 1970-71 season.
Only Bill Durnan (25 games with a point in 1943-44 with the Montreal Canadiens) and Tony Esposito (20 games with a point in 1970-71 with the Chicago Blackhawks) had longer point streaks in NHL history.
Rask is now tied with Evgeny Nabokov (18-game point streak in 2008-09 with the San Jose Sharks), Ken Dryden (18-game point streak in 1978-79 with the Canadiens) and Billy Smith (18-game point streak in 1977-78 with the New York Islanders).
Coyotes goaltender, Adin Hill (2-3-2, 2.54 GAA, .918 SV% in 11 games played), made 29 saves on 32 shots against for a .906 SV% in the loss.
Boston improved to 34-10-12 (80 points) on the season and remain atop the NHL standings, as well as the Atlantic Division, while Arizona fell to 27-23-7 (61 points) and stuck in 4th place in the Pacific Division.
The B’s also improved to 19-2-9 at home this season and have won seven out of their last eight games.
The last time the Bruins lost to the Coyotes was on Oct. 9, 2010, when both teams opened the 2010-11 season with a pair of games against each other in Prague, Czech Republic. Boston lost the first game, 5-2, on Oct. 9th before defeating the then known as Phoenix Coyotes, 3-0, on Oct. 10th.
The Bruins were without the services of Kevan Miller (knee), Connor Clifton (upper body), Joakim Nordstrom (allergy complications) and Brandon Carlo (personal leave) on Saturday.
Danton Heinen served as the only healthy scratch for Boston against the Coyotes.
Clifton participated in practice with the rest of the team, but in a red non-contact sweater, while Nordstrom and Carlo are expected to join the rest of the team in Detroit on Sunday (with Carlo at least being re-inserted into the lineup).
As a result of Carlo’s personal matters, John Moore was the only change to Bruce Cassidy’s lineup from Wednesday night’s, 2-1, overtime win in Chicago to Saturday afternoon’s meeting with Arizona.
Moore was paired with Torey Krug on the second defensive pairing for Boston.
Meanwhile, Karson Kuhlman and Jeremy Lauzon were reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Thursday and subsequently recalled on Friday in a paper transaction for salary cap related purposes.
Prior to the game, Boston honored their captain, Zdeno Chara, for having surpassed 1,500 career NHL games played and 1,000 career games played as a Bruin earlier in the season.
Midway through the opening frame, Charlie McAvoy hooked Taylor Hall and was sent to the penalty box with a minor infraction at 9:09 of the first period.
The Coyotes did not convert on their first power play opportunity of the afternoon.
Late in the first period, Conor Garland presented the Bruins with their first skater advantage of the game after Garland caught Chara with a high stick at 14:06.
The B’s did not score on the ensuing power play.
Moments later, Lauzon unintentionally returned the favor and caught Vinnie Hinostroza with a high stick at 17:27– yielding a power play to Arizona, but the Coyotes weren’t able to capitalize on their second power play of the game.
Less than 20 seconds after getting out of the box, Lauzon charged down the ice in a race for a loose puck that Derek Stepan got to first, then delivered a miscalculated check on the vulnerable Arizona skater and was assessed a match penalty for an illegal hit to the head at 19:39 of the first period.
The Coyotes earned a five-minute major power play as a result that would carry over into the second period as the horn sounded on the opening frame with the score still tied, 0-0.
Boston led in shots on goal (9-6), blocked shots (7-4), takeaways (3-2) and faceoff win percentage (58-42), while Arizona led in giveaways (6-0) and hits (8-7) after 20 minutes of play.
Entering the first intermission, the Coyotes were 0/3 on the power play and the B’s were 0/1.
Boston almost made it the full five minutes without allowing a power play goal against until Phil Kessel (12) kicked off the game’s scoring with a garbage goal off a rebound to give Arizona the, 1-0, lead at 3:26 of the second period.
Kessel’s goal was unassisted and marked the 15th time this season that the Bruins gave up the game’s first goal on home ice.
A little over a minute later, Lawson Crouse was guilty of roughing McAvoy when he delivered a quick shot to the head while skating by at 4:46.
Seconds after their power play ended, Boston scored on a beautiful setup when David Krejci dropped a short pass back to McAvoy, who then managed to send a quick backhand pass over to Coyle (11) for the one-timed redirection from point-blank to tie the game, 1-1.
McAvoy (20) and Krejci (26) had the assists on Coyle’s first goal of the game at 6:50 of the second period.
Midway through the middle frame, Brad Richardson bumped into Chris Wagner without the puck and was charged with an interference minor at 11:59.
This time around, Boston was successful at capitalizing on the skater advantage as Patrice Bergeron won the faceoff to Brad Marchand, which led to Marchand tossing the puck back to the point whereby Krug corralled the puck and sent it across the blue line to David Pastrnak for the purposeful shot to the slot where Bergeron (23) outstretched his blade for the redirection goal to give the Bruins their first lead of the day, 2-1.
Pastrnak (38) and Krug (31) tallied the assists on Bergeron’s power play goal at 12:06 of the second period.
About a couple minutes later, Niklas Hjalmarsson hooked Wagner and was assessed a minor penalty at 14:13.
This time the Bruins took a few extra seconds before hitting the back of the twine on a Jake DeBrusk (18) tip-in from the doorstep off of another shot from Pastrnak from the faceoff circle.
Pastrnak (39) and Bergeron (22) notched the assists on DeBrusk’s power play goal and the B’s led, 3-1, at 14:35.
Through 40 minutes of play on Saturday, the Bruins led, 3-1, on the scoreboard and shots on goal were even, 21-21. Boston also held the advantage in blocked shots (11-7), takeaways (5-2) and hits (14-12), while Arizona led in giveaways (10-2) and faceoff win% (56-44).
The Coyotes were 1/4 on the skater advantage, while Boston was 2/4 on the power play heading into the third period.
Just 26 seconds into the third period, Jakob Chychrun (11) sent a shot off of Rask’s glove and into the twine– cutting Boston’s lead in half to just one goal.
Clayton Keller (22) and Hinostroza (15) notched the assists on Chychrun’s goal.
Until about 1:40 remaining in regulation, both teams swapped chances, but neither team committed a penalty nor scored a goal.
With less than two minutes left in the game, Coyotes head coach, Rick Tocchet, pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker, but it was not enough for Boston’s defensive efforts in their own zone as Coyle (12) cleared a loose puck from his own end down the ice and into the open twine at 19:11 of the third period.
Bergeron (23) recorded the only assist on Coyle’s empty net goal and the Bruins secured the, 4-2, win against Arizona as a result.
At the final horn, Boston finished the afternoon leading in shots on goal (33-31), blocked shots (15-12), hits (21-15) and faceoff win% (52-48).
Arizona, meanwhile, led in giveaways (14-5) and finished the game 1/4 on the power play.
The B’s went 2/4 on the skater advantage on Saturday and improved to 10-1-6 when tied after one period, as well as 18-1-6 when leading after two periods this season.
Boston travels to Detroit to face the Red Wings on Sunday afternoon before returning home for a two-game homestand against the Montreal Canadiens next Wednesday (Feb. 12th) and Red Wings next Saturday (Feb. 15th) before going on a four-game road trip with stops against the New York Rangers, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks.
Back by popular demand– though a few months later than last season– it’s once again time to rank the NHL mascots.
In January 2017, DTFR began a new tradition of giving props for great efforts made in the community, laughs shared, smiles brought to everyone’s faces and (most importantly) character displayed by every mascot in the National Hockey League.
So without further ado, let’s get started.
31) New York Rangers 31st in 2018-19, 30th in 2017-18
The Rangers still don’t have a mascot, which in today’s day and age is a crime. Just march Brian Leetch around Madison Square Garden once in a while or something. Maybe even let Henrik Lundqvist become the team’s first mascot once he retires.
30) Al the Octopus (Detroit Red Wings) 30th in 2018-19, 26th in 2017-18
It’s a yearly tradition at this point to mention how awesome any Al the Octopus plush toy is and that it’s a shame the Red Wings never made Al the Octopus into a real thing instead of just a prop that ended up being sold for $7,700 at an auction in 2017 after Joe Louis Arena was closed and Detroit moved into their current home, Little Caesars Arena.
29) Spartacat (Ottawa Senators) 21st in 2018-19, 9th in 2017-18
Just like the Senators, Spartacat has fallen on hard times and really needs someone to love him. Unfortunately for Spartacat, he probably needs a haircut first or at least that rebrand to finally come around and give Ottawa a fresh look all-around (with new jerseys, new logos and new players).
Hi #sens fans… the @nhl break is here! @aduclair10 and I are off to St Louis. CATch us showcasing our stuff for #NHLAllStar and the #MascotShowdown respectively. #TwoAllStars #gosensgo pic.twitter.com/FSnFSggX6W— Spartacat (@REAL_Spartacat) January 21, 2020
28) Thunderbug (Tampa Bay Lightning) 18th in 2018-19, 15th in 2017-18
Being as cute as a bug no longer cuts it when you have Gritty running around causing chaos, plus other mascots really drumming up their personality bits. Perhaps Thunderbug has gotten too casual in recent years and that’s the reason why the Lightning haven’t won the Cup since 2004.
27) Nordy (Minnesota Wild) 28th in 2018-19, 24th in 2017-18
Like Minnesota sports as a whole, Nordy is just comfortable where he’s at. Nobody’s really sure whether he’s a fox, a wolf or some hybrid northern animal native to the wild, but the Wild’s mascot might also be on General Manager, Bill Guerin’s, list of assets to move at this year’s trade deadline if he’s not careful.
26) Wild Wing (Anaheim Ducks) 17th in 2018-19, 3rd in 2017-18
Wild Wing would be the perfect mascot for a roller hockey team, which is fitting for his location in southern California– where you could play roller hockey year-round. What might be a better option for the Ducks, however, would be to have legendary surfer, Rob Machado, make more appearances at Honda Center in an Anaheim sweater.
25) Sparky the Dragon (New York Islanders) 29th in 2018-19, 25th in 2017-18
With a new arena in Belmont Park looming, one would think the Islanders would make the natural switch to a horse-based mascot because, you know, horse racing and stuff. Either that or just give Sparky the Dragon a more fish-based appearance. Just add a few cuddly scales or perhaps give him a fishing rod that can also double as a hockey stick. Props go a long way at improving ratings.
24) Tommy Hawk (Chicago Blackhawks) 20th in 2018-19, 14th in 2017-18
Something about Tommy Hawk just feels off these days. Perhaps his contract will be traded in the offseason too while the Blackhawks adjust from their decade of dominance in the early 2010s to life in the 2020s.
23) Stanley C. Panther/Viktor E. Ratt (Florida Panthers) 25th in 2018-19, 20th in 2017-18
The Panthers have what some might call the “Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly of mascots”. Sure their early works were great, but their recent comedy has shown their age. Florida should put all of their focus in on one or the other– or at least give Olli Jokinen a proper display case inside BB&T Center.
22) Hunter (Edmonton Oilers) 26th in 2018-19, 23rd in 2017-18
Hunter’s redeeming quality this year is the new alternate threads for the Oilers. Edmonton’s new third sweaters help take away the scary qualities of this lovable lynx if you could only see through his otherwise terror inducing mane.
Dropping your 🍌 split = 😭— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) January 17, 2020
70% Super/Split Saturday = 😁
Tomorrow's #Oilers vs. Coyotes game is not only a huge divisional matchup, it's also our next Super/Split Saturday as the 50/50 winner will take home 70% of the total pot!
🎟 https://t.co/CFi44ORLeM pic.twitter.com/ICd7lEomM1
21) Howler (Arizona Coyotes) 27th in 2018-19, 21st in 2017-18
The Coyotes are embracing their kachina sweaters like never before and we can only hope that Howler will have to wear them full-time in the near future. If not, he’ll continue to be average in ranking. Your move, Arizona.
20) Bernie the St. Bernard (Colorado Avalanche) 22nd in 2018-19, 22nd in 2017-18
There’s nothing inherently wrong with Bernie the St. Bernard, since St. Bernard dogs are usually the go-to rescue animals in the event of an avalanche in the real world, but it’s just a little too on the nose compared to the Yeti that once walked the corridors of Pepsi Center.
It was as close to a Sasquatch as you’d see in an NHL arena– until Seattle joins the fray in 2021, that is (hopefully they take our suggestion for a mascot). So yeah… the Avalanche have an average mascot.
19) Youppi! (Montreal Canadiens) 10th in 2018-19, 6th in 2017-18
Look, there’s nothing bad about Youppi!, but has anyone heard from him lately? I mean, is everything ok? First the Tampa Bay Rays jettison their plans for a potential split-season between St. Petersburg and Montreal, then the Canadiens just seem to have really overlooked how much he means to the mascot world lately.
Fear not, this may be a down year in the rankings, but Youppi! should bounce back once the Expos return from their quick run to get bread and milk.
Félicitations à un autre numéro 33 légendaire du sport à Montréal!— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) January 22, 2020
Congratulations to another legendary No. 33 from the Montreal sports scene!#LarryWalkerHOF | @Cdnmooselips33 pic.twitter.com/TcCwEo2gBa
18) Bailey (Los Angeles Kings) 3rd in 2018-19, 1st in 2017-18
Cranky mascots on Twitter is getting kind of old. We’re just putting Bailey here so he can tweet at us and change our minds.
17) Harvey the Hound (Calgary Flames) 23rd in 2018-19, 18th in 2017-18
Put a shirt on for heaven’s sake. It’s winter! Canadians, man. They’re an interesting breed.
16) Chance (Vegas Golden Knights) 9th in 2018-19, 31st* in 2017-18
We gave Chance a chance, but now the Golden Knights’ mascot just seems average, if not just old news thanks to something we call “the Gritty Factor” in the industry. A good performance at the 2020 NHL Mascot Showdown could boost his ranking.
Happy Thanksgiving. 🦃 pic.twitter.com/rKYXrdfgeB— Chance (@ChanceNHL) November 28, 2019
15) Mick E. Moose (Winnipeg Jets) 16th in 2018-19, 11th in 2017-18
Mick E. Moose looked stunning in Winnipeg’s 2019 Heritage Classic sweater, but unfortunately for the Jets mascot, there’s not much else going for him these days. Maybe next year.
How's that for a Sunday afternoon!?! pic.twitter.com/DgCGypgFup— Mick E Moose (@MickEMoose_00) December 8, 2019
14) Gnash (Nashville Predators) 19th in 2018-19, 17th in 2017-18
Gnash gets some bonus points for Nashville’s 2020 Winter Classic sweater, but he hasn’t done anything out of this world lately to try to capture a few more spots.
13) Slapshot (Washington Capitals) 5th in 2018-19, 4th in 2017-18
Once a rising star in the mascot ranking world, Slapshot lost a little of his edge while the Capitals roll right along with the Metropolitan Division lead. Another Stanley Cup Final run could be the cure for his ails.
12) Victor E. Green (Dallas Stars) 12th in 2018-19, 19th in 2017-18
We’re over the moon for this huggable alien in his Stars 2020 Winter Classic threads. Victor E. Green’s also still got those cute hockey stick ears going for him, but could use another viral video or two to really move him up the ranks. Anyone know if he’s on TikTok?
Finally joined the world of Instagram! Follow me @DallasStarsVic— Victor E. Green (@VictorEGreen) January 9, 2020
Any other account is FAKE! pic.twitter.com/7UwBTmG9ZA
11) Stinger (Columbus Blue Jackets) 15th in 2018-19, 27th in 2017-18
Stinger’s quips with Greg Wyshynski are amusing and have us concerned about just how sentient all NHL mascots have become in today’s world. We’d hate for him to sting us next. The Blue Jackets, in the meantime, are slowly being forgiven over the years for the mistake that was Boomer. Meanwhile, Elvis Merzlikins’ post-win celebrations might merit their own felt-based mascot sometime soon.
10) Louie (St. Louis Blues) 14th in 2018-19, 12th in 2017-18
The Blues win one Cup in 52 years and everyone loses their minds except one being– Louie. Louie will never give you up. He’s never going to let you down (anymore). He’s never going to run around and desert you. Also, he’s just really nice, so let’s reward him with Top-10 status this season.
9) Stormy (Carolina Hurricanes) 24th in 2018-19, 28th in 2017-18
Our biggest improvement this season belongs to none other than Stormy. It may or may not have something to do with him rocking Hartford Whalers gear on Whalers Night for the past two seasons, but the Hurricanes mascot is looking fine as ever in every thread that covers that hog body.
Plus we’ll give bonus points for Hamilton the Pig and free street-cred to the wonderful fans that own and care for Hamilton.
Whale would you look at that 🐋 pic.twitter.com/r3pLoxEBDX— Stormy (@NHLStormy) January 11, 2020
8) Blades the Bruin (Boston Bruins) 8th in 2018-19, 5th in 2017-18
The Bruins almost saw Blades fall in this year’s rankings if it weren’t for how well he’s able to pull off that “B” on their new alternate jerseys. It seems fitting that Blades wears the first letter of his name big and bright on his jersey once in a while. Now if only we could get him to do a backflip or something.
Patrice Bergeron, the #NHLBruins, and @985TheSportsHub teamed up for the 2020 Pucks & Paddles ping pong tournament on Friday, raising $125,000 for Floating Hospital for Children at @TuftsMedicalCtr.— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) January 18, 2020
📸 Full Photo Gallery: https://t.co/HB8b7UILn8 pic.twitter.com/qf7sLedcki
7) Carlton the Bear (Toronto Maple Leafs) 11th in 2018-19, 13th in 2017-18
The Maple Leafs mascot is in the Top-10 for the first time in our ranking and he is looking classier than ever before for some reason. Did someone say “everything old is new again”? Because he’s old, but never going out of style. Alexa, play “Style” by Taylor Swift while we jam with Carlton the Bear and his friends.
6) Fin (Vancouver Canucks) 7th in 2018-19, 10th in 2017-18
Slow but steady has been the progress of the Canucks over the last few years that this season they might make the playoffs and next season Fin just might make the Top-5 in our mascot ranking. Unfortunately for Vancouver’s favorite orca, he’s just one spot shy of being a certified superstar in the making.
5) Gritty (Philadelphia Flyers) 4th in 2018-19, 29th* in 2017-18 (pre-Gritty)
We swear we didn’t take the easy way out by picking Gritty as this year’s
top 5th place mascot, but would you honestly blame us if we did? We are all gritizens these days anyway and Gritty rules us all. It certainly helps that the Flyers introduced their “Disassembly Room” and continue to go all-in on the chaos that Gritty brings everywhere he goes.
Plus, look at all the props, costumes and sheer grit that Philly’s orange monster has for each and every event, game and everything in between.
(We also wrote this before learning of the current allegations against Philadelphia’s beloved orange ball of fur.)
Am I doing this right? pic.twitter.com/p3EQZzvYbD— Gritty (@GrittyNHL) January 22, 2020
4) Iceburgh (Pittsburgh Penguins) 1st in 2018-19, 7th in 2017-18
Iceburgh won top-dog– er, penguin– in last season’s mascot ranking, but things have cooled off for a bit while the Penguins mascot comes down from the many highs of being the No. 1 mascot. He’s ready to settle down and chill in his nest for a while, then go right back for the krill next year.
3) Sabretooth (Buffalo Sabres) 6th in 2018-19, 8th in 2017-18
Just look at how phenomenal the Sabres’ 50th anniversary sweaters are, then look how much they bring out all the best qualities in Sabretooth to the forefront of this rising mascot in the ranking.
Sabretooth’s a shoe-in for Runner-Up or First Place next season when Buffalo goes back to royal blue as their primary color. The question is, will Sabretooth’s stripes change accordingly?
2) S.J. Sharkie (San Jose Sharks) 2nd in 2018-19, 2nd in 2017-18
For the third year in-a-row, S.J. Sharkie came in 2nd in our ranking. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that we think Sharkie won’t be able to win this competition like how the Sharks always find a way to disappoint their fans before (or during) the Final.
One of these years, San Jose. One of these years. Unfortunately it won’t be this year, as the Sharks are likely to miss the postseason and don’t even have their first round pick.
1) N.J. Devil (New Jersey Devils) 13th in 2018-19, 16th in 2017-18
What’s hotter than hell these days? The N.J. Devil himself.
Seriously, just look at this gorgeous mascot and you too will start questioning if you’re really that attracted to his facial hair or the fact that this guy can bench more than your cousin Tony. New Jersey, your next reason to shutdown your beaches is right in front of you and it looks way hotter.
Also, has there ever been a more relatable mascot that loves pizza just like us?
In all seriousness though, all of the league’s mascots do a great job of being an entertaining part of the game, as well as wonderful ambassadors for spreading kindness and cheer in their community.
Hats off to the people living inside the sweaty costumes and the marketing teams behind them.
The Columbus Blue Jackets came back to beat the Boston Bruins, 2-1, in overtime at TD Garden on Thursday in their first meeting with Boston since being eliminated by the Bruins in the Second Round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Elvis Merzlikins (2-4-4 record, 2.92 goals against average, .905 save percentage in 12 games played) made 25 saves on 26 shots against for a .962 SV% in the win for Columbus.
Bruins goaltender, Tuukka Rask (15-4-6, 2.30 GAA, .923 SV% in 25 games played) stopped 31 out of 33 shots faced for a .939 SV% in the overtime loss.
Boston fell to 24-7-11 (59 points) on the season, but remained atop the Atlantic Division, while Columbus improved to 19-14-8 (46 points) and remained in 6th place in the Metropolitan Division.
The Bruins also fell to 14-1-9 at home this season and are now on a two-game losing streak.
Boston was without the services of Kevan Miller (knee) and Connor Clifton (upper body) on Thursday. Miller has yet to make his season debut and Clifton was ruled out of the two-game homestand after being injured against Buffalo on Dec. 29th.
That was the only bad news for the Bruins heading into Thursday night’s matchup with the Blue Jackets as Torey Krug (upper body), Charlie McAvoy (lower body) and David Krejci (lower body) all returned to the lineup.
McAvoy was a game-time decision, but took part in full practice on Thursday and was on the ice for warmups– indicating that his return was imminent.
Due to all the returns, Jeremy Lauzon was reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Wednesday and Anton Blidh was assigned to Providence on a long-term injury conditioning loan.
Blidh was injured in the second-to-last preseason game for Boston and has yet to make his season debut within the Bruins’ organization (Boston or Providence).
Bruce Cassidy made some changes to his lineup against Columbus since Tuesday’s, 3-2, shootout loss in New Jersey, moving Charlie Coyle to the second line right wing slot with Jake DeBrusk and Krejci, while bumping up Sean Kuraly to center the third line with Anders Bjork on his left side and Danton Heinen on his right side.
The fourth line comprised of Joakim Nordstrom at left wing, Par Lindholm at center and Chris Wagner at right wing.
On defense, McAvoy and Krug went back to their usual roles while Matt Grzelcyk slid over to the right side of the third pairing with John Moore on his left.
Brett Ritchie, David Backes and Steven Kampfer were all healthy scratches for Boston on Thursday night.
At puck drop, B’s captain, Zdeno Chara, became the 12th player in NHL history to play in at least one game across four decades.
San Jose Sharks forwards, Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau became the 13th and 14th players in league history to do the same thing upon puck drop between the Sharks and the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Thursday.
Gustav Nyquist thought he scored off a rebound 17 seconds into the game, but Cassidy used a coach’s challenge to review the call on the ice (goal) on the basis that Rask was actually interfered with as Boone Jenner appeared to be in the crease before the puck crossed the blue paint.
Upon review, it was determined that Jenner did, in fact, more than just encroach Rask’s territory, but had actually bumped into the goaltender– impeding his reaction to the play and thereby causing goaltender interference.
The call on the ice was overturned and the score reverted back to, 0-0.
It was the first time the Bruins challenged a call this season, as well as their first successful coach’s challenge this season.
Boston has had five calls overturned on six prior challenges against them thus far, which leads the league.
After Nyquist had a goal overturned, nothing else happened for the rest of the first period. Seriously.
There were no goals and no penalties called in the opening frame and both teams spent the last 7:10 span of the period uninterrupted.
Through one period of play on Thursday, the Bruins and Blue Jackets were tied, 0-0, with Columbus leading in shots on goal, 9-8.
Columbus also held the advantage in blocked shots (5-1), takeaways (3-2), giveaways (6-4) and hits (14-9), while Boston led in faceoff win percentage (67-33).
Early in the middle frame, Nick Foligno hooked Brad Marchand and was assessed a minor penalty at 4:48 of the second period.
The Bruins did not convert on their first power play of the night, but got a second chance on the skater advantage at 11:02 when Dean Kukan tripped DeBrusk.
This time around, however, Boston capitalized on the power play five seconds into the skater advantage– winning the ensuing faceoff back to the point, then sliding a pass over to David Pastrnak (30) for the one-timer that went off Blue Jackets forward, Riley Nash, and over Merzlikins’ glove to give the B’s the first lead of the night.
Krug (22) and Patrice Bergeron (19) notched the assists on Pastrnak’s power play goal at 11:07 of the second period and the Bruins led, 1-0.
With his 30th goal of the season, Pastrnak became the first Bruin in franchise history to score 30 or more goals in four of his first six seasons, as well as the fastest Bruin to score 30 goals (in 42 games) since Cam Neely scored 30 goals in 27 games in the 1993-94 season.
Almost 90 seconds later, McAvoy was caught interfering with Kevin Stenlund and subsequently sent to the penalty box at 12:36, but the Blue Jackets couldn’t muster anything on the power play.
Columbus had one more chance on the skater advantage at 19:15 as Chara cut a rut to the sin bin for holding against Nyquist, but the Blue Jackets didn’t capitalize on the power play once again– even though the skater advantage was split over the course of the final seconds of the second period and the opening minute of the third period.
The Bruins have killed off 21 consecutive penalties as a result of killing off Chara’s minor.
After 40 minutes in Boston, the Bruins led the Blue Jackets, 1-0, on the scoreboard, despite Columbus maintaining the advantage in shots on goal, 23-20– including a, 14-12, advantage in the second period alone.
The Blue Jackets also led in blocked shots (12-1) and hits (23-15) entering the second intermission and the Bruins led in takeaways (6-5), giveaways (10-6) and faceoff win% (70-30).
As there were no more penalties called for the rest of the night, Boston finished 1/2 on the power play and Columbus went 0/2 on the skater advantage.
Early in the final frame of regulation, Sonny Milano (4) pounced on a turnover by Coyle, then fired a shot with purpose from the goal line along the boards that deflected off of Grzelcyk and dipped through Rask’s five-hole– tying the game, 1-1, in the process.
Nathan Gerbe (2) and Alexander Wennberg (12) tallied the assists on Milano’s goal at 2:06 of the third period and there were no more goals scored until overtime.
At the end of regulation, the Blue Jackets led in shots on goal, 32-26, but were even on the scoreboard with the Bruins, 1-1.
Columbus held the advantage in blocked shots (15-2) and hits (32-25), while Boston led in giveaways (13-8) and faceoff win% (65-35).
Both teams had six takeaways aside heading into overtime.
Cassidy started Krejci, Pastrnak and McAvoy for the B’s and Blue Jackets head coach, John Tortorella, opted for Nyquist, Jenner and Seth Jones for the opening faceoff before quickly replacing Jenner with Pierre-Luc Dubois.
Just 52 seconds into the ensuing extra frame, Dubois and Jones entered the attacking zone on a 2-on-1 and made McAvoy look foolish before Jones sent the puck to Dubois (14) for the one-timer goal from close range.
Jones (19) had the only assist on Dubois’ game-winning overtime goal and the Blue Jackets took home the, 2-1, win in Boston.
Columbus finished the night with the advantage in shots on goal (33-26), blocked shots (15-2) and hits (33-25), while the Bruins ended Thursday’s effort with the lead in giveaways (14-8) and faceoff win% (66-34).
The Bruins fell to 5-1-6 when tied after one period, 13-0-5 when leading after two periods and 17-5-7 when scoring the game’s first goal this season. The B’s also fell to 2-5 in overtime this season.
Meanwhile, the Blue Jackets improved to 6-6 in ovetime this season and 11-5-3 when tied after one period.
Boston concludes their two-game homestand (0-0-1) against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday before traveling to Nashville to face the Predators next Tuesday.
The Bruins return home for a Thursday night (Jan. 9th) matchup with the Winnipeg Jets before venturing on the road to visit the New York Islanders on Jan. 11th, the Philadelphia Flyers on Jan. 13th and the Blue Jackets on Jan. 14th.