Tag Archives: Tomas Tatar

October 5 – Day Two – Pour one out for The Joe

Opening day is always fun (congrats to the Leafs, Blues, Oilers and Flyers for achieving 1-0-0 records, by the way), but I think its safe to say that I actually get more excited for the second day when there’s far more action (don’t even get me started about the first Saturday of the season!).

Tonight, there are eight games on the schedule, starting with three (Nashville at Boston, Montréal at Buffalo [RDS/TSN2] and Colorado at the New York Rangers) at 7 p.m. and a pair (Washington at Ottawa [RDS2] and Minnesota at Detroit [NBCSN]) half an hour later. 8:30 p.m. marks the puck drop of Pittsburgh at Chicago (SN360), while 10 p.m. features the evening’s co-nightcaps: Arizona at Anaheim and Philadelphia at Los Angeles (NBCSN). All times Eastern.

There’s certainly some fantastic games on the schedule, but one in particular has caught my eye.

 

Yes, we all know Detroit missed the playoffs last season for the first time in 25 years. That narrative was played out for the entirety of the 2016-’17 campaign.

Unfortunately, I think that story overshadowed another equally important one, especially among out-of-town fans: for the first time since December 27, 1979, the Red Wings will no longer call Joe Louis Arena home.

I cannot say I ever had the pleasure of walking into The Joe. Heck, I’ve never even been to Detroit. But for those who have, I can only imagine it was a wonderfully magical experience. Few buildings currently standing in the NHL have borne witness to such prolonged greatness.

C Steve Yzerman scored quite a few of his 692 goals between those unpredictable boards, and Nicklas Lidstrom year in and year out proved his defensive prowess by winning seven Norris Trophies and contributing to four Stanley Cup-winning efforts.

Manny Legace and Chris Osgood are just two of the many heralded goalies to man The Joe’s posts, while few defended his designated area like Bob Probert and his beloved penalty box. In fact, after spending so much of his hockey career defending his fellow Red Wings from Wendel Clark and RW Tie Domi and assuming his spot in the sin bin, Probert’s ashes were scattered in the arena’s penalty box following the club’s final home game last season.

But, unless something dramatic happens to Little Caesars Arena before 7:30 p.m. tonight, the time for Joe Louis Arena (and The Palace at Auburn Hills, for all you basketball fans) has come and gone.

And so, a new chapter in the story that is the Detroit Red Wings begins tonight as this team adjusts to its new home and begins work on building “Hockeytown Dynasty 2.0.”

Unfortunately, I don’t think that chapter gets a good starts tonight, as the Wild should be more than able to spoil the arena’s Grand Opening. Minnesota returns much of a roster that won 12-straight games en route to a 106-point season, including G Devan Dubnyk (40-19-5 record on a .923 save percentage and 2.25 GAA last season), F Mikael Granlund (26-43-69 totals in 2016-’17) and D Ryan Suter (allowed only six even-strength or shorthanded goals last season).

For Detroit, G Jimmy Howard will surely get the opening night start and will be under heavy pressure all night. Even though the Wings added D Trevor Daley, Howard may be the only line of defense considering how much Detroit’s blue line struggled last season. Knowing the Wild fired 30.8 shots-per-game last season, he may be in for a long night.

Offensively, the Red Wings have two sneaky-good top lines in Tomas TatarHenrik ZetterbergGustav Nyquist and Anthony ManthaDylan LarkinMartin Frk, but the real question will be if these six have enough firepower in them to keep this team relevant all season against some of the best defenses. This game should provide an effective litmus test in determining just that.

I feel pretty safe in predicting a Wild win tonight, especially when seeing some bookies listing Minnesota at a -140 favorite.

Detroit Red Wings 2017-2018 Season Preview

Detroit Red Wings

33-36-13, 79 points, 7th in Atlantic (‘16-‘17)

Key additions: Trevor Daley, Luke Witkowski 

Key subtractions: Tomas Jurco (signed with Chicago), Steve Ott (Retired), Thomas Vanek (Signed with VAN)

Unsigned: Andreas Athanasiou

Offseason Analysis: The Detroit Red Wings’ offseason was spent trying to keep their current players. With contracts due to Tomas Tatar and Andreas Athanasiou, the Wings needed to shore up some of their core players. They managed this when they signed Tatar to a four-year contract worth $5.3 million AAV.

However, they still are dropping the ball on Athanasiou – he still remains unsigned. This a player who scored 18 goals and registered and 11 assists only a season ago, even when playing with the seventh-worst offense in the league. The 6’ 2”, 23-year-old center has a few options from KHL teams if the Wings can never reach an agreement, but I think there are a few teams in the NHL itching to get their hands on this player. If the Wings want to have a successful offseason, they need to make this deal happen.

The reason this deal is taking so long is because of Detroit’s lack of cap space. They are very tight to the cap and still have to sign a few players. One of the major offseason moves the Wings made was signing two-time Stanley Cup Champion Trevor Daley to a three-year deal worth $3.1 million AAV. The addition of Daley should help this team defensively and give them a leader in the locker room.

As for the offseason as whole, the loss of Thomas Vanek seems like a big loss to that group of forwards. This team struggles offensively as it is losing a top 6 forward is going to hurt them even more.

Red Wings fans aren’t going to like this next part: I still don’t think the Wings are a playoff team. They added defensively, but they lost offensively. I think you need to look at some of the dead weight with big contracts. The management team in Detroit needs to find a way to get the contracts off the books. They also need the younger prospects, like Tyler Bertuzzi and others, to step up and produce on smaller contracts. If they can make this happen, maybe Detroit can find a hint of playoffs in next few seasons. As for this year, all the other teams in the division got better and I see the Wings at the bottom of the table.

Offseason Grade: C-

2017 NHL Expansion Draft: Protected Lists

30 of the NHL’s 31 teams submitted their protected lists on Saturday by 5 p.m. ET. The protected lists were made public at 10:30 a.m. ET (originally scheduled for 10 a.m.) on Sunday. Additionally, the available lists of players to choose from were released.

The Vegas Golden Knights will now spend the next few days constructing their roster, with the full reveal set for Wednesday night during the NHL Awards Ceremony at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

To recap, here’s all of the protected players:

Anaheim Ducks

Forwards: Andrew Cogliano, Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Corey Perry, Rickard Rakell, Jakob Silfverberg, Antoine Vermette

Defensemen: Kevin Bieksa, Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm

Goaltender: John Gibson

Arizona Coyotes

Forwards: Nick Cousins, Anthony Duclair, Jordan Martinook, Tobias Rieder

Defensemen: Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Alex Goligoski, Connor Murphy, Luke Schenn

Goaltender: Chad Johnson

Boston Bruins

Forwards: David Backes, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Brad Marchand, Riley Nash, David Pastrnak, Ryan Spooner

Defensemen: Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, Kevan Miller

Goaltender: Tuukka Rask

Buffalo Sabres

Forwards: Tyler Ennis, Marcus Foligno, Zemgus Girgensons, Evander Kane, Johan Larsson, Ryan O’Reilly, Kyle Okposo

Defensemen: Nathan Beaulieu, Jake McCabe, Rasmus Ristolainen

Goaltender: Robin Lehner

Calgary Flames

Forwards: Mikael Backlund, Sam Bennett, Micheal Ferlund, Michael Frolik, Johnny Gaudreau, Curtis Lazar, Sean Monahan

Defensemen: T.J. Brodie, Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton

Goaltender: Mike Smith

Carolina Hurricanes

Forwards: Phillip Di Giuseppe, Elias Lindholm, Brock McGinn, Victor Rask, Jeff Skinner, Jordan Staal, Teuvo Teravainen

Defensemen: Trevor Carrick, Justin Faulk, Ryan Murphy

Goaltender: Scott Darling

Chicago Blackhawks

Forwards: Artem Anisimov, Ryan Hartman, Marian Hossa, Tomas Jurco, Patrick Kane, Richard Panik, Jonathan Toews

Defensemen: Niklas Hjalmarsson, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook

Goaltender: Corey Crawford

Colorado Avalanche

Forwards: Sven Andrighetto, Blake Comeau, Matt Duchene, Rocco Grimaldi, Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Nieto

Defensemen: Tyson Barrie, Erik Johnson, Nikita Zadorov

Goaltender: Semyon Varlamov

Columbus Blue Jackets

Forwards: Cam Atkinson, Brandon Dubinsky, Nick Foligno, Scott Hartnell, Boone Jenner, Brandon Saad, Alexander Wennberg

Defensemen: Seth Jones, Ryan Murray, David Savard

Goaltender: Sergei Bobrovsky

Dallas Stars

Forwards: Jamie Benn, Radek Faksa, Valeri Nichushkin, Brett Ritchie, Antoine Roussel, Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza

Defensemen: Stephen Johns, John Klingberg, Esa Lindell

Goaltender: Ben Bishop

Detroit Red Wings

Forwards: Justin Abdelkader, Andreas Athanasiou, Anthony Mantha, Frans Nielsen, Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Henrik Zetterberg

Defensemen: Danny DeKeyser, Mike Green, Nick Jensen

Goaltender: Jimmy Howard

Edmonton Oilers

Forwards: Leon Draisaitl, Jordan Eberle, Zack Kassian, Mark Letestu, Milan Lucic, Patrick Maroon, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

Defensemen: Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson, Andrej Sekera

Goaltender: Cam Talbot

Florida Panthers

Forwards: Aleksander Barkov, Nick Bjugstad, Jonathan Huberdeau, Vincent Trocheck

Defensemen: Aaron Ekblad, Alex Petrovic, Mark Pysyk, Keith Yandle

Goaltender: James Reimer

Los Angeles Kings

Forwards: Jeff Carter, Anze Kopitar, Tanner Pearson, Tyler Toffoli

Defensemen: Drew Doughty, Derek Forbort, Alec Martinez, Jake Muzzin

Goaltender: Jonathan Quick

Minnesota Wild

Forwards: Charlie Coyle, Mikael Granlund, Mikko Koivu, Nino Niederreiter, Zach Parise, Jason Pominville, Jason Zucker

Defensemen: Jonas Brodin, Jared Spurgeon, Ryan Suter

Goaltender: Devan Dubnyk

Montreal Canadiens

Forwards: Paul Byron, Phillip Danault, Jonathan Drouin, Alex Galchenyuk, Brendan Gallagher, Max Pacioretty, Andrew Shaw

Defensemen: Jordie Benn, Jeff Petry, Shea Weber

Goaltender: Carey Price

Nashville Predators

Forwards: Viktor Arvidsson, Filip Forsberg, Calle Jarnkrok, Ryan Johansen

Defensemen: Mattias Ekholm, Ryan Ellis, Roman Josi, P.K. Subban

Goaltender: Pekka Rinne

New Jersey Devils

Forwards: Taylor Hall, Adam Henrique, Kyle Palmieri, Travis Zajac

Defensemen: Andy Greene, John Moore, Mirco Mueller, Damon Severson

Goaltender: Cory Schneider

New York Islanders

Forwards: Andrew Ladd, Anders Lee, John Tavares

Defensemen: Johnny Boychuk, Travis Hamonic, Nick Leddy, Adam Pelech, Ryan Pulock

Goaltender: Thomas Greiss

New York Rangers

Forwards: Kevin Hayes, Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller, Rick Nash, Derek Stepan, Mika Zibanejad, Mats Zuccarello

Defensemen: Nick Holden, Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal

Goaltender: Henrik Lundqvist

Ottawa Senators

Forwards: Derick Brassard, Ryan Dzingel, Mike Hoffman, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Zack Smith, Mark Stone, Kyle Turris

Defensemen: Cody Ceci, Erik Karlsson, Dion Phaneuf

Goaltender: Craig Anderson

Philadelphia Flyers

Forwards: Sean Couturier, Valtteri Filppula, Claude Giroux, Scott Laughton, Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek

Defensemen: Shayne Gostisbehere, Radko Gudas, Brandon Manning

Goaltender: Anthony Stolarz

Pittsburgh Penguins

Forwards: Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist, Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin

Defensemen: Brian Dumoulin, Kris Letang, Olli Maatta, Justin Schultz

Goaltender: Matt Murray

San Jose Sharks

Forwards: Ryan Carpenter, Logan Couture, Jannik Hansen, Tomas Hertl, Melker Karlsson, Joe Pavelski, Chris Tierney

Defensemen: Justin Braun, Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic

Goaltender: Martin Jones

St. Louis Blues

Forwards: Patrik Berglund, Ryan Reaves, Jaden Schwartz, Vladimir Sobotka, Paul Stastny, Alexander Steen, Vladimir Tarasenko

Defensemen: Jay Bouwmeester, Joel Edmundson, Alex Pietrangelo

Goaltender: Jake Allen

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forwards: Ryan Callahan, Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn, Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov, Ondrej Palat, Steven Stamkos

Defensemen: Braydon Coburn, Victor Hedman, Anton Stralman

Goaltender: Andrei Vasilevskiy

Toronto Maple Leafs

Forwards: Tyler Bozak, Connor Brown, Nazem Kadri, Leo Komarov, Josh Leivo, Matt Martin, James van Riemsdyk

Defensemen: Connor Carrick, Jake Gardiner, Morgan Rielly

Goaltender: Frederik Andersen

Vancouver Canucks

Forwards: Sven Baertschi, Loui Eriksson, Markus Granlund, Bo Horvat, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Brandon Sutter

Defensemen: Alexander Edler, Erik Gudbranson, Christopher Tanev

Goaltender: Jacob Markstrom

Washington Capitals

Forwards: Nicklas Backstrom, Andre Burakovsky, Lars Eller, Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Alex Ovechkin, Tom Wilson

Defensemen: John Carlson, Matt Niskanen, Dmitry Orlov

Goaltender: Braden Holtby

Winnipeg Jets

Forwards: Joel Armia, Andrew Copp, Bryan Little, Adam Lowry, Mathieu Perreault, Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler

Defensemen: Dustin Byfuglien, Tyler Myers, Jacob Trouba

Goaltender: Connor Hellebuyck

March 8 – Day 140 – I’m spoked

If you want to watch hockey tonight (which we both know you do), it’s going to be pretty easy to find. All three contests (Ottawa at Dallas [RDS/SN360], Pittsburgh at Winnipeg [SN] and Detroit at Boston [NBCSN/TVAS]) – all of which happen to drop the puck at 8 p.m. eastern – are being nationally televised in Canada, and the one that just so happens to be our DtFR Game of the Day can be seen throughout the USA.

 

Who would’ve guessed I would’ve fallen for an Original Six matchup? In my defense, tonight’s offerings are… lacking… At least this rivalry got a boost last season, no matter how slight.

That boost wasn’t necessarily seen on the ice per se, but more so on the league table. For those that don’t remember, the Red Wings qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs for the 25th-straight season – certainly an impressive feat.

Yet that success always has to detract from that of another. Last year, that was the Bruins who suffered an earlier-than-desired offseason. That fact was made more excruciating by the fact that Detroit qualified on a tiebreaker with the Bruins, besting them by a lone regulation+overtime victory.

To say the 34-26-6 Bruins aren’t proud of their nine victories more than Detroit‘s this season might be a bit of an understatement. That improvement has led them to third place in the Atlantic Division, the exact spot the Wings occupied a year ago.

They’ve gotten to that position on the back of their defense and goaltending. Boston is 11th-best in the league on that end of the ice, allowing only 172 tallies against.

30-16-4 Tuukka Rask has benefited greatly from his improved defense, as his season .913 save percentage and 2.28 GAA are (t)23rd and (t)eighth-best in the league among the 40 netminders with at least 26 appearances.

A season ago, Rask faced 30.4 shots-per-night, which tied for the 11th-worst rate in the NHL. This season, that rate is down to an impressive 26.4-per-game, the second-lowest in the league. He may be turning 40-years-old in 10 days, but Captain Zdeno Chara has been at the forefront of that improvement. He’s blocked 110 shots so far this season, the most on the squad. If he maintains his production, Chara is in line for 140 blocks on the season – far-and-away the largest total of his 19-year career.

Because of those combined efforts, the Bruins also have one of the best penalty kills in the game. Refusing to yield a goal on 85.7% of opposing power plays, Boston is second-best in the NHL. Joining Chara at the top of the chart in shorthanded blocks is Adam McQuaid, as they both have 29 to their credit.

My, what can change from one year to the next. It is all but certain that the 25-28-11 Red Wings will not be among the 16 teams fighting for the Stanley Cup following the 2016-’17 regular season, as the losers of their past two games currently occupy dead last in both the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference.

The main reason for their predicament is a lackluster offense. Lackluster may be a compliment, as Detroit has managed only 153 goals this season – the fifth-fewest in the NHL.

He’s tried as hard as he can, but Captain Henrik Zetterberg can only do so much. His team-leading 53 points is a respectable total – the average player claims 17.2 this season – but the rest of the roster is mostly barren of scoring threats, especially following the trade of Thomas Vanek to Florida. Probably the other main threat is Tomas Tatar, who’s 15 tallies is the active clubhouse-leader.

Usually, the power play is supposed to be a positive opportunity for an offense. Instead, it’s almost dreaded in Detroit, as the Wings have found success only 12.8% of the time – easily the worst mark in the game. Just like with the basic offense, weapons are hard to come by in Motor City. With the departure of Vanek, Frans Nielsen leads the squad with only 11 power play points and three skaters have buried an active team-high of three extra-man goals.

Tonight’s contest marks the culmination of this season’s series between these two clubs. Since Boston already has a 2-0-1 record against the Wings, all Detroit can hope for is a regulation victory to tie the series a five points apiece for both sides.

They last time they played was January 24 at the TD Garden. Although they needed an overtime winner from David Pastrnak, the Bruins were able to hold on for a 4-3 victory.

Some players to keep an eye on this evening include Boston‘s Brad Marchand (68 points [fourth-most in the league] on 30 goals [tied for fifth-most in the NHL]) and Rask (six shutouts [tied for third-most in the league] among 30 wins [tied for fifth-most in the NHL] on a 2.28 GAA [tied for ninth-best in the league]) & Detroit‘s Danny DeKeyser (135 blocks [leads the team]), Luke Glendening (135 hits [leads the team]) and Anthony Mantha (+14 [best on the team]).

In what is probably the biggest spread of the night, the Bruins are a -250 favorite to prove victorious this evening. Everything Detroit struggles at, Boston excels. That’s typically a recipe for disaster for the road team, and I expect this one to go no different. The Bruins should win easily.

Hockey Birthday

  • Larry Murphy (1961-) – This Hall of Fame defenseman was the fourth-overall selection in the 1980 NHL Entry Draft. Although the three-time All-Star spent most of his 21-year career with the Capitals and was drafted by Los Angeles, he hoisted the Stanley Cup four times – twice each with Detroit and Pittsburgh.

Mike Yeo’s return to Minnesota was a successful one for his new club, as the Blues beat the Wild 2-1 in yesterday’s DtFR Game of the Day.

If not for Mikko Koivu‘s (Ryan Suter and Mikael Granlund) wrist shot from the neutral zone with the extra skater and 11 seconds remaining in the game, Second Star of the Game Jake Allen would have earned the shutout and First Star David Perron (Colton Parayko and Alexander Steen) would have taken credit for the game-winning goal on his first period tip-in tally.

Instead, that honor belongs to none other than Third Star Vladimir Tarasenko (Jaden Schwartz and Alex Pietrangelo). He buried a wrister with 8:57 remaining in regulation to then set the score at 2-0.

Allen saved 32-of-33 shots faced (97%) in the victory, leaving the loss to Devan Dubnyk, who saved 18-of-20 (90%).

If my numbers are correct from when I missed time, St. Louis‘ victory should propel the 72-48-22 road teams to a six-point lead over the hosts in the DtFR Game of the Day series.

January 25 – Day 102 – Red and blue aren’t just election rivals

Tuesday’s gone, but Wednesday is here – and brings with it some more hockey games. Toronto at Detroit (SN) gets things started at 7 p.m., followed an hour later by Philadelphia at the New York Rangers (NBCSN/TVAS). We move west of the Mississippi River at 9:30 p.m. with Vancouver at Colorado (SN360), with tonight’s nightcap – Edmonton at Anaheim – starting half an hour later. All times eastern.

Short list:

  • Toronto at Detroit: Simply calling this an Original Six game is an insult to years of deep rivalry.
  • Philadelphia at New York: Just like other teams in their respective towns, the Flyers and Rangers have a history of not getting along.

As much as I dislike featuring the same team two days in a row, Detroit has another big game tonight against the Maple Leafs. Time to break out the red sweaters, boys! You’ve got some rivals coming to town!

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To put things simply, if the Bruins and Canadiens didn’t have their deep playoff history, this would be the rivalry everyone in hockey would look forward to.

Ever since the Red Wings were formed, these clubs have clashed both on the ice as well as in the stands, as Detroit and Toronto are separated by only 210 miles. They’ve faced one another 23 times in the playoffs – including seven meetings in the Stanley Cup finals – with the Wings owning a one-playoff game advantage with a 59-58 record.

Toronto enters tonight with a 22-14-9 record and in possession of the second wildcard in the Eastern Conference, their best positioning in the standings in a long time. They’ve found that success by playing well on the offensive end to score 139 goals in 45 games – the sixth-best rate in the league.

When half of your team’s top-six scorers are rookies, the rebuild looks like it is in good shape. That’s the case in Toronto, as youngster Mitch Marner leads his club with 39 points. The same goes for goalscoring, as first-overall pick Auston Matthews owns that title for the Leafs with his 22 tallies.

Just as Detroit struggles without a reliable power play, Toronto excels with their impressive man-advantage. Led by William Nylander, yet another rookie, and his 15 power play points, the Maple Leafs score on 24.1% of their extra-man opportunities – the second-best rate in the NHL. Nazem Kadri takes credit for the most man-advantage goals on the club with 10 to his credit.

Toronto has also found great success with their other special team, refusing to yield a goal on 85.2% of opposing power plays – the fourth-best rate in the league. Roman Polak gets to take a lot of the credit with his club-topping 24 shorthanded blocks.

Boston, Philadelphia and Toronto have been alternating between playoff qualification and ninth in the Eastern Conference for the last couple of weeks, and that trend could continue tonight. A loss by Toronto opens them up to falling out of the playoff bracket, while earning only a point would improve them into third place in the Atlantic Division, replacing the Bruins.

Things haven’t quite been going 20-19-9 Detroit‘s way – especially lately, as they’ve fallen in overtime in their last three games. For the first time in ages, the Wings find themselves in second-to-last in the Atlantic Division and third-to-last in the Eastern Conference, yet they enter play tonight trailing the second wildcard by only four points.

The main reason for their struggles has been their uninspiring offense, which has managed only 117 goals – the seventh-fewest in the league. That being said, Captain Henrik Zetterberg has done all he can to fight that trend with his team-leading 33 points, as have Dylan Larkin and the injured Thomas Vanek, who co-lead the team with a dozen tallies.

One of the biggest reasons for the Wings‘ lack of offensive success ranks 30th in the league. Detroit is home to the worst power play in the league, converting only 11.3% of their opportunities. Frans Nielsen has tried his hardest to resolve that issue, but his club-leading eight power play points simply aren’t cutting it. Neither are Larkin and Vanek’s three man-advantage goals.

A win tonight would not pull the Wings into playoff position, but it can propel them all the way from 14th to 10th. Even if they continue their recent trend of forcing overtime before losing, they make a significant climb up the table, advancing into 11th.

These clubs have only met once this season, and it was not under usual circumstances. On New Year’s Day, Detroit and Toronto celebrated the 100th anniversary of the NHL by playing the Centennial Classic at BMO Field (home pitch of Toronto FC). The Leafs won that game 5-4 in overtime.

Some players to keep an eye on tonight include Detroit‘s Luke Glendening (108 hits [leads the team]) and Zetterberg (33 points, including 24 assists for a +9 [all lead the team]) & Toronto‘s Frederik Andersen (20 wins [10th-most in the NHL]) and Matthews (22 goals [tied for fourth-most in the league]).

Vegas has marked the Wings a +116 underdog in tonight’s game, and that might be giving Joe Louis Arena a little too much credit. Toronto has proven they have the ability to compete with some of the best teams in the league, and they’ll want to ensure they maintain their position in the standings with a victory tonight. I don’t see the Leafs falling this evening.

Hockey Birthday

  • Chris Chelios (1962-) – Drafted 40th-overall by Montréal in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft, this defenseman pulled managed simply a Hall of Fame career over 26 seasons. He played most of his games with Chicago, but spent more seasons in Detroit. Regardless of if he’s remembered more as a Hawk or Wing, he played in 11 All Star games and hoisted just as many Stanley Cups as Norris Trophies: three.
  • Esa Tikkanen (1965-) – Edmonton picked this left wing in the fourth-round of the 1983 NHL Entry Draft, and he returned them with four Stanley Cups. He won his fifth and final in 1994 with the Rangers.
  • Randy McKay (1967-) – A sixth-round selection by Detroit in the 1985 NHL Entry Draft, this right wing spent most of his career in New Jersey. He won two Stanley Cups over his 15-season career, both with the Devils.
  • Jared Cowen (1991-) – Although drafted by Ottawa ninth-overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, this blueliner currently finds himself out of a job after losing his grievance hearing with Toronto and subsequently being cut. He has 249 games played over six seasons of experience.

For the third time in four days, the DtFR Game of the Day required more than 60 minutes to determine a winner. That winner last night proved to be the Boston, who beat the Red Wings 4-3 in overtime.

Of the three regulation periods, the first was the busiest. It got off to a quick start when Kevan Miller (Tim Schaller and Dominic Moore) scored his first goal of the season only 3:39 after the initial puck drop. The Bruins‘ lead lasted only 7:20 until Andreas Athanasiou (Third Star of the Game Mike Green and Niklas Kronwall) leveled with a snap shot. First Star Brad Marchand (Ryan Spooner and Second Star David Pastrnak) reclaimed the lead for Boston with 2:26 remaining in the period with his power play wrister, setting the score at 2-1 going into the first intermission.

The second period absolutely belonged to the Red Wings, beginning with Green’s (Zetterberg and Gustav Nyquist) tip-in at the 6:25 mark to level the match. With 9:09 remaining in the period, Tomas Tatar (Zetterberg) provided Detroit its first lead with a strong wrister.

The game was tied again at the 8:20 mark of the final frame, courtesy of Marchand (Patrice Bergeron and Torey Krug). As neither team was able to break the draw, the game advanced into the five-minute three-on-three overtime period.

That extra time nearly resulted in a shootout if not for Pastrnak’s (David Krejci and Brandon Carlo) slap shot with 47 seconds remaining. That tally earned the Bruins the extra point in the standings.

Tuukka Rask earned the victory by saving 23-of-26 shots faced (88.5%), leaving the overtime loss to Jared Coreau, who saved 45-of-49 (91.8%).

Home teams in the DtFR Game of the Day series are now on a two-game winning streak thanks to Boston‘s victory. Hosts now own a six-point advantage over the visitors with their 54-34-16 record in the series.

December 1 – Day 50 – This one’s not outside, but it’s still cool… right?

How special that the 50th day of play perfectly aligns with December 1. It’s like the NHL planned it that way.

As usual, Thursday is one of our busier weekdays, so without further ado…

Four games drop the puck at 7 p.m. (Carolina at Boston, the New York Rangers at Buffalo, Dallas at Pittsburgh [SN360] and the New York Islanders at Washington), followed half an hour later by two more (Philadelphia at Ottawa [RDS] and Florida at Detroit). 8 p.m. marks the start of a pair of games (Tampa Bay at St. Louis and Edmonton at Winnipeg), with New Jersey at Chicago waiting 30 minutes before getting underway. Two more contests get green lit at 9 p.m. (Columbus at Colorado and Los Angeles at Arizona) trailed an hour later by this evening’s nightcap: Anaheim at Vancouver (SN360). All times eastern.

Short list:

  • New York at Washington: I like rivalries. You like rivalries. We all like rivalries.
  • Edmonton at Winnipeg: This rivalry has existed even longer than New YorkWashington, going back to these clubs’ WHA days.

I expect the contest at the MTS Centre to be the better of our two rivalries this evening, so off to Manitoba!

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Wait, didn’t we already feature this game? Yes, yes we have. In fact, if I went through my record correctly, this is the first exact rematch in the DtFR Game of the Day series this season, featuring both teams back in the same city.

Then again, is it truly an identical rematch? That distinction of city instead of arena was intentional. When we featured these two last time, they played at Investors Group Field where the Oilers have a perfect 1-0-0 franchise record after beating the Jets 3-0.

Edmonton enters tonight’s game with a 12-10-2 record, good enough for third place in the Pacific Division. They’ve earned that position with a solid offense that has scored 69 goals already this season – the fifth-best effort in the NHL.

You get two guesses to find out who’s leading the Oil, and you probably won’t need the second. It’s been Captain Connor McDavid, who has 31 points to his credit to average 1.29 points per game – the best effort in the league among players with more than two games played (yes, that intentionally excludes only Jack Eichel‘s two points in one game). 11 of McDavid’s points have been goals, which also leads the club by four tallies.

Defensively, the Oilers have been especially impressive on the penalty kill. They rank second-best in the NHL by not allowing a goal on 88.4% of opposing power plays. Leading the charge during these undermanned situations has been Darnell Nurse, who has 10 shorthanded blocks on his resume.

Hosting them this evening are the 11-12-2 Jets who occupy sixth place in the Central Division. Although they have a good offense, Winnipeg has been held back by their defense and goaltending that has allowed 72 goals, the fourth-most in the league.

Another Connor, Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck has started between the pipes 17 times this season, earning a 9-8-0 record. Through those games, he’s earned a .915 save percentage and a 2.54 GAA, tying for (t)20th and 19th-worst among the 41 neminders with nine or more appearances.

If we’ve learned nothing else from the Jets, it’s that an average paired with an average defense does not yield a consistent winning result. Even though four Winnipeg blueliners have 30 or more stops – led by Dustin Byfuglien‘s 44 blocks – they allow an average of 30.3 shots against per night, the only 15th-best rate in the league. While I’m still leaning towards the goaltending taking most of the blame, the Jets‘ defense does need to find a better way to limit opposing opportunities beyond blocking shots.

As might have been suspected, the penalty kill has also been a problem for the Jets. Even though Toby Enstrom has 11 shorthanded blocks to his name, Winnipeg ranks eighth-worst when a man-down, stopping only 80.4% of opposing power plays.

Given an offense that has scored 65 goals already this season, it is somewhat surprising that Winnipeg‘s power play has found success on only 13.8% of attempts. Rookie Patrik Laine leads that charge with seven power play points, five of which are goals.

Some players to keep an eye on tonight include Edmonton‘s McDavid (31 points on 20 assists [both lead the NHL] and 11 goals [tied for seventh-most in the league]) and Cam Talbot (three shutouts [tied for second-most in the NHL] among 11 wins [tied for sixth-most in the league]) & Winnipeg‘s Nikolaj Ehlers (16 assists [tied for third-most in the NHL]), Laine (13 goals [tied for second-most in the league]) and Mark Scheifele (26 points on 13 goals [both tied for second-most in the NHL]).

Vegas favors Winnipeg tonight, but not by much. The line reads -110, effectively only rewarding the Jets for playing at home. Due to that, I feel like Edmonton will be able to pull off the victory, as their defense and goaltending is slightly better than Winnipeg‘s.

Hockey Birthday

  • Ryan Malone (1979-) – Although drafted by his hometown Penguins, this left wing is most known for his six seasons in Tampa Bay.
  • Tomas Tatar (1990-) – The 60th-overall selection in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, he’s entering his sixth season with Detroit.

An impressive three-goal first period led the Sharks to a 4-1 road upset of host Los Angeles in the Battle of California.

The onslaught of goals started at the 3:32 mark with the second goal of rookie Kevin Labanc‘s (First Star of the Game Logan Couture and Second Star Joel Ward) career, a forceful wrist shot. With 55 seconds remaining in the frame, Couture (Joonas Donskoi and Ward) doubled a wrister of his own, trailed 30 ticks of the clock later by Ryan Carpenter‘s (Mikkel Boedker) first-ever career goal.

The only goal of the second frame belonged to the host Kings. 3:01 after resuming play, Third Star Dustin Brown (Marian Gaborik and Nic Dowd) took advantage of a Labanc hooking penalty to pull back within two goals, but they were never able to tickle the twine again before the clock emptied.

San Jose‘s final tally was with 77 remaining in the game, an empty-netter by Couture.

Martin Jones earns the victory after saving 26-of-27 shots faced (96.3%), leaving the loss to Peter Budaj, saving 20-of-23 (87%).

San Jose‘s victory is the first regulation win in the DtFR Game of the Day series since Ottawa’s 2-0 win on Sunday. It sets the series record at 28-17-7 in favor of the home squads, favoring them by six points over the roadies.

October 21 – Day 10 – Ugh.

That’s all I can really say about tonight’s contests. Only three games are on tap this evening and most of them are at the same time. Two drop the puck at 7 p.m. (Arizona at the New York Islanders and Chicago at Columbus), followed half an hour later by Nashville at Detroit (NHLN/SN360/TVAS). All times eastern.

I must admit, there’s nothing really attractive about any of these three games. None of these teams have a winning record (two are .500, though), and all of them are west vs. east. I suppose we’ll go with the Predators at the Red Wings since expectations are so high for Nashville this season.

UnknownUnknownThe Nashville Predators enter tonight’s game hosting a 1-2-0 record. Their one victory came in their first game played, a 3-2 win over the Blackhawks at Bridgestone Arena. Offense has been the main struggle so far, as their seven tallies ties for fourth-fewest in the NHL. Their leading point-scorer is Ryan Johansen, who has four assists to his credit.

Their opposition this evening is the 2-2-0 Detroit Red Wings. It’s not only their record that’s even: Detroit has also scored just as many goals as they’ve allowed – 12. Barring their first game against Tampa Bay, the Wings have averaged only 22 shots per game, 11 fewer than the league average. Even more frustrating for Detroit, Tomas Tatar, who leads the squad with 12 shots, has yet to find the back of the net. Instead, it is Mike Green and Thomas Vanek leading the team offensively, both with six points evenly distributed between goals and assists.

Some players to keep an eye on this evening include Detroit‘s Green (three goals and three assists for six points [all tie for team lead]), Darren Helm (three goals [ties for team lead]), Gustav Nyquist (three assists [ties for team lead]) and Vanek (three goals and three assists for six points [all tie for team lead]) & Nashville‘s Pekka Rinne (.934 save percentage [fifth-best in the leauge] and 2.04 GAA [ninth-best in the NHL]).

Detroit is marked as the +100 underdog in tonight’s contest, a line I am comfortable with. I think the Preds can go into Joe Louis Arena and earn their second victory of the season.

Hockey Birthday

  • Carl Brewer (1938-2001) – This three-time Stanley Cup champion played 604 games over 12 NHL seasons along the blue line. Most of his career was spent with hometown club Toronto, but he also had stops in Detroit and St. Louis. In addition to his three professional titles, Brewer also helped Canada claim bronze at the 1967 World Championships.
  • Lou Lamoriello (1942-) – Although he’s coached 53 games in his career, Lamoriello is better known for his team building abilities. He spent 28 seasons in New Jersey, winning three Stanley Cups. This is is second year in Toronto. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009.
  • Michel Briere (1949-1971) – The career that never had the opportunity to truly get started, Brière played 76 games with Pittsburgh, scoring the third most points on the team. Unfortunately, he was involved in a car accident that eventually cost him his life. Brière’s 21 was never reissued, eventually being retired in 2001, and the QMJHL MVP and the Pittsburgh Penguins‘ Rookie of the Year awards both bear his name.
  • Mike Keenan (1949-) – A controversial character in the NHL that has never held down a job for more than four seasons, Keenan has coached 1386 games in the top league in the world to date. His 672-531-147-36 record for 1527 points is decent, but what he really hangs his hat on is leading the Rangers to their fourth and most recent Stanley Cup championship in 1994.

How many more leads will be blown this season? San Jose had a two-goal lead on the Penguins entering the third period, but ended up falling 3-2 in yesterday’s Game of the Day.

Both those Shark tallies were struck in the second period. 5:04 after resuming play from the first intermission, Tomas Hertl (Joe Pavelski and Brent Burns) fired his backhander past Third Star of the Game Marc-Andre Fleury to take the lead. With 3:45 remaining in that same period, Patrick Marleau (Logan Couture) doubled the Sharks‘ lead by beating Fleury with a wrister.

Pittsburgh‘s comeback began 6:47 into the final frame when Second Star Evgeni Malkin scored his second goal of the season. 2:14 later, Scott Wilson (Matt Cullen and First Star Patric Hornqvist) leveled the game with 10:59 remaining in the contest. Hornqvist’s (Phil Kessel and Malkin) struck the winning wrister with 5:58 remaining in regulation to seal the victory.

Fleury earns the victory after saving 32-of-34 (94.1%), while Martin Jones takes the loss after saving 17-of-20 (85%).

Pittsburgh‘s victory extends the home teams’ record to 8-3-1 in the DtFR Game of the Day series, favoring them by six points over the roadies.

Ben Bishop’s Shutout and Alex Killorn’s Late Third Period Goal Help the Lightning Move On To Round 2.

The Tampa Bay Lightning finished off the series and ended the Detroit Red Wings 2016 Playoffs early by a score of 1-0 Thursday night. The Lightning were led by 6 foot 7 goaltender Ben Bishop as he made a whopping 34 saves for his first shutout of the playoffs.Unknown-1

Tampa Bay looked to close out the series and get rid of the pesky Wings in front of their insane sellout crowd at Amalie Arena. The Red Wings turned to tendy Petr Mrazek for a third straight game after going 1-1 with a .930 SV% and a 1.52 GAA in Games 3 and 4.

Detroit looked to jump out early and quickly and gain as much momentum as possible. Just 2:51 into the game Detroit youngster Dylan Larkin spotted Wings D-man Niklas Kronwall jumping up into the rush and hit him with a nice pass. Kronwall let a nifty backhander go but was easily shut down by Bishop with no problem.

The games first penalty went to the Lightning with a little close to 4 minutes gone in the first period with a two many men on the ice call. This blunder sent the Wings to their mediocre power play, coming into Game 5 Detroit were a disastrous 1/21 on the manpower advantage. So they looked to change their luck early in the game. Lucky for them, Tampa defenseman Jason Garrison took a foolish penalty and got a trip to the sin bin to feel shame. Garrison cross checked Detroit left winger Justin Abdelkader in front of the net just 46 seconds into their first PP. Detroit looked to grab the game’s first goal on an early 5 on 3 power play.

Detroit got the game’s first excellent scoring chance on that same 5 on 3 power play. Right Winger Brad Richards corraled the puck at the left side blue line and then sent a pass across the ice to vet Pavel Datsyuk who was posted up down low on the right-hand side. The Magic Man, as he’s called, received the pass and fired a swift wrister up high that beat Bishop high glove side but caught the cross bar and came right back out. This was the last scoring chance as Tampa killed the PP off with stellar shot blocking.

Now it was the Lightning’s turn to break the scoreless deadlock. Tampa 4th liner Eric Condra picked off a terrible pass from Wings D-man Jonathan Ericsson in the right corner and spotted defender Jason Garrison making a b-line to the net. Condra rocketed a pass across the slot and Garrison grabbed the puck and fired a wrist shot on net. Mrazek made an insane left pad kick out for his best save of the game so far.

Now it was Tampa’s turn for their first power play of the game. This time, it was Detroit left winger Gustav Nyquist getting the call just 9:06 into the game for slashing D-man Braydon Coburn. Nothing came from this power play as Detroit easily killed it off, but Tampa got another chance with just 38 seconds left in the first period. Lightning young buck Jonathan Drouin used his blazing speed to draw a hooking call from Wings defender Niklas Kronwall. The period ended with Tampa still on the PP.

Lightning fans were urging their team to start the second period off right with a power play goal. Nothing came from this PP because the Lightning only managed 2 weak shots. Just 2:53 later Tampa was back on the man advantage with Wings rookie Dylan Larkin getting a two-minute call for tripping Lightning defenseman Braydon Coburn. This sent Tampa to their 3rd power play of the game but they maintained no shots. They did give up a short-handed breakaway opportunity to Detroit winger Riley Sheahan as he intercepted Victor Hedman’s D to D pass and went in all alone. Sheahan tried beating Bishop five-hole, but Bishop wasn’t having any of that and turned it away.

 

Kyle Quincey of the Red Wings took the games next penalty as he got called for hooking Tampa star Nikita Kucherov 9:47 into the second period. The Lightning weren’t able to get anything going again on their PP and only threw one shot on net during the two minutes. Then with just over eight minutes remaining Detroit defender Danny DeKeyser sprung Wings left winger Darren Helm on a breakaway with a blue line to blue line pass and sent Helm in all alone. Bishop was up to the task and turned Helm’s shot away with his right pad like it was nothing.

Detroit would then get their second power play of the game. Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman got the trip to the box after holding Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg 14:01 into the second period. Just like the Lightning, it was Detroit’s turn to give up a prime shorthanded opportunity just 58 seconds into their PP. Lightning grinder Brian Boyle came down the left-hand side and picked out streaking defender Jason Garrison. He then threw the puck in the direction for Garrison to skate into. Garrison skated to the bouncing puck sitting in the slot and swatted at it with one hand and redirected the puck on goal. Unfortunately, Mrazek made a spectacular pad save to keep it tied 0-0.

Then with just 1:30 remaining in the second period, Lightning defender Matt Carle overskated the puck at center ice. Detroit’s 19-year-old Dylan Larkin grabbed the sitting puck and was off the races all by himself. As Larkin came in on goalie Ben Bishop, he tried to fool hiUnknown-1m with a little stick handling. Bishop was unfooled and stoned Larkin with his blocker. This was Detroit’s third breakaway of the second period alone. Then jus 15 seconds later, Wings Henrik Zetterberg carried the puck into the offensive zone and picked his head up and saw a cutting Pavel Datsyuk. He hit Pavel with a mini breakaway pass and for some reason Datsyuk thought he could beat Bishop high like Larkin thought. Well, this did not work as Bishop shut down Datsyuk’s chance and calmly turned it away with his blocker.

The third period got off to a very slow start, the two teams traded shots back and forth, but nothing major. The first chance came with 2:53 remaining in the game thanks to Detroit new comer Mike Green. Wings right winger Tomas Tatar came flying into the zone and laid out a nice drop pass behind him. The pass found the stick of Mike Green and he took a couple steps in and fired a laser of a wrist shot, but Ben Bishop, once again, didn’t break a sweat and easily swallowed the shot up.

Now with just 1:43 remaining in the game, the first and only goal was scored. Lightning right winger Ryan Callahan cleverly picked off goalie Petr Mrazek’s behind the net pass. He then, quickly, turned around and fired a pass to top line left winger Alex Killorn who was sitting in the slot and he slammed the puck into the wide open net to give the Lighting the late 1-0 lead. This goal was Killorn’s 13th career playoff goal and 4th goal in 5 playoff games this year.

Detroit pulled their goalie Mrazek with 1:12 left in the game desperate for a tying goal. They even got help, because Lightning D-man Jason Garrison took his second senseless penalty of the game. He cross-checked Henrik Zetterberg with 43 seconds remaining in the game and the Wings got a 6 on 4 man advantage. This advantage did not help at all as Detroit were only able to achieve 1 shot total.

Killorn’s late period goal stood as the game and the series winner. Tampa Bay now moves on to face the winner of the Florida/New York matchup that is currently tied 2-2 in the series.

Detroit goalkeeper Petr Mrazek finished the game saving 23 out of 24 shots for a .958 SV%. While Lightning goalie Ben Bishop was unbeatable stopping 34 out of 34 shots for his first perfect game of the playoffs.

The Tampa Bay Lightning’s top points leader was Nikita Kucherov with 8 points in 5 games (5G, 3A), the top geno (goals) leader was Kucherov (5G), and the top apple (assists) leader was Tyler Johnson with 5. The Lightning also had defender Victor Hedman who averaged 27:01 TOI (Total On Ice) per game, while Ben Bishop finished with a 4-1 record, a .950 SV%, and a 1.61 GAA in 5 games. The Detroit Red Wings top points leader was Tomas Tatar with 3 points in 5 games (0G, 3A), the top geno (goals) leader was an 8 player tie for first with one goal (Mike Green, Henrik Zetterberg, Justin Abdelkader, Gustav Nyquist, Brad Richards, Dylan Larkin, Darren Helm, and Andreas Athanasiou), and top apple (assist) leader was also Tomas Tatar with 3. The Wings TOI (Time On Ice) leader was Danny Dekeyser who averaged 21:48. Jimmy Howard finished with a 0-2 record, .891 SV%, and a 3.59 GAA in 2 games. Detroit’s star goalie Petr Mrazek finished with a 1-2 with a .945 SV%, and a 1.35 GAA in 3 games.

The Lightning will now wait until their next series starts while the Red Wings will start their golfing season earlier than they hoped for. Meanwhile, every Red Wings fan will be on the edge of their seat this offseason. As they await word from Pavel Datsyuk to see if he is going to play in the NHL next year, or go back to Russia and play in the KHL. Tampa Bay ended up winning the series in 5 games by a total of 4-1.

 

 

 

 

Bolts Win Big in Game 2

Is it time for Detroit to hit the panic button?  A poor performance in the final fifteen minutes of game two leaves them down 2-0 in the first round series of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Lightning on the other hand are set on cruise control as they look to take game three in Hockeytown. Even though the score board reveals a dominant performance from Tampa Bay, both teams seemed to be executing their game plan accordingly during the first two periods of play.

First Period

The first half of the opening period was rather unexciting. Each team had a handful of chances, but neither could find the back of the net. That is until Nikita Kucherov scored his third goal of the playoffs. He one-timed a feed from Victor Hedman and put the Bolts up 1-0 on the power play.

Second Period

The action picked up a little bit here in the second, as each team was able to kindle some offense. Just 3:30 into the period, Dylan Larkin made a play and scored his first career post-season goal. Larkin picked up a puck that banked off the back boards and beat Ben Bishop five-hole.

Just a few minutes later, Brian Boyle regained the lead for his club. The Lightning broke out on a 3-on-2 play and Jonathan Drouin was able to feed Boyle in the high slot. A nice wrist shot beat Jimmy Howard as the tie was broken. Detroit was upset with the sequence, as they believed Boyle had committed a penalty earlier in the shift.

Third Period

The Redwings battled hard and received a good call in their favor, as Nikita Nesterov was sent to the box for a high stick. Bishop was fighting through a good screen as Brad Richards took a shot that found the net.  Assists on the play went to Mike Green and Tomas Tatar and the game was tied 2-2.

That goal was the last bit of hope for the Wings, as Tampa Bay went on to score three straight goals and win a pivotal game two with a score of 5-2. Tyler Johnson put two tallies on the board, scoring the game-winner just shortly after the goal from Mike Richards. Alex Killorn put the final nail in the coffin with an empty-net goal late in the period. Johnson assisted on the play to earn his fourth point in what was a monster performance from the forward.

The referees had themselves a mess to sort out at 19:06 of the final frame. A whopping thirteen penalties were handed out to all ten skaters on the ice. Both teams skated with grit and aggression.

Ben Bishop was by far the better of the two goalies, as he stopped 30 of 32 shots, while only allowing one even strength goal. Jimmy Howard only turned in a 26 saver performance on 30 total shots.

Game three will be played on April 17th at 7:00pm in Detroit.

Colby’s Corner: Bold Predictions Part 2

Bold Predictions will be a two-part series where I, Colby, will discuss who I think will and won’t make the playoffs this season and why. The second part will be the teams who will not make the playoffs and why not. Now remember, these are my opinions. If you disagree, feel free to leave a comment; we always appreciate feedback.

Eastern Conference

Atlantic                                    Metropolitan                                     Wild Cards

  1. Tampa Bay Lightning           1. Washington Capitals                 1. Columbus Blue Jackets (M)
  2. Montreal Canadiens             2. Pittsburgh Penguins                 2. New York Islanders (M)
  3. Ottawa Senators                    3. New York Rangers

The two teams people will be surprised to see missing from the playoffs are the Detroit Red Wings and the Boston Bruins.

Boston Bruins: Aging core with weak blue line equals no playoffs for the city of Boston for the 2nd year in a row. Zdeno Chara is by far the best defenseman on the Bruins’ team this year. The 38-year-old is just coming off an injury, and because he is getting up there in age he has people in Boston questioning when he will hang up his skates. It’s not surprising that the older he gets, the number of injuries he has and the time he misses increase also. As he gets older, though, the Bruins seem to be leaning on him more as they get rid of their other defenseman like Johnny Boychuk and Dougie Hamilton. Dennis Seidenberg and Patrice Bergeron grow another year older as they remain part of this Bruins core. Injuries have already plagued the Bruins on the defensive end and will likely result in them playing three young men in the back: Zach Trotman, Colin Miller and Joe Morrow. The three of them together only have 44 games played in the NHL. I don’t even see the Bruins being close to the wildcard spot, as some Bruins fans have been joking about. #AustintoBoston

Detroit Red Wings: New coach, different results. The Detroit Red Wings hired Jeff Blashill when Mike Babcock left during this offseason. I was a big fan of hiring from within the organization, as Blashill was the coach for the Red Wings affiliate last season. The Jump from AHL to NHL is big, you can ask all the players who never transition. Some coaches have been successful in this jump, like John Tortorella. However, I feel like Wings fans will truly see how much Babcock did for their organization and the core they have there. The Wings are also dealing with a goaltender battle between Petr Mrazek and Jimmy Howard. Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg will have to have wide shoulders if the Wings want a chance at making the playoffs, along with help from Tomas Tatar and Mike Green. The Wings will compete for the wildcard at the end of the season, but will fall short.

Western Conference

Pacific                                     Central                                    Wild Cards

  1. Anaheim Ducks                1. Dallas Stars                   1. Chicago Blackhawks (C)
  2. Calgary Flames                 2. St Louis Blues               2. Colorado Avalanche (C)
  3. Los Angeles Kings            3. Minnesota Wild

The two teams people will be surprised to see missing from my playoffs are two teams that made it last season, the Nashville Predators and the Winnipeg Jets.

Nashville Predators: Same tricks don’t work twice Nashville was a top team in the west last season due to big performance from James Neal, Filip Forsberg, Shea Weber and Pekka Rinne. I am calling that Forsberg will have the crucial sophomore slump. I also don’t see Rinne having the same numbers as last season. He and Weber got help this off-season from Barrett Jackman, however I don’t think this will be enough. The Preds will have a bad year because that division is just so good now and teams like Dallas added a lot of talent.

Winnipeg Jets: Off ice causes issues on it Winnipeg is dealing with a lot, what with all the trade rumors surround

RALEIGH, NC - NOVEMBER 13: Dustin Byfuglien #33 of the Winnipeg Jets reacts for the camera during their NHL game against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena on November 13, 2014 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images)

ing star defenseman/winger Dustin Byfuglien. It seems like reports are linking him to just about any team out there. Byfuglien had some issues with Evander Kane, back when Kane was in Winnipeg. There seems to always be tension inside that locker room. Another reason I feel Winnipeg doesn’t make the playoffs is in between the pipes. Michael Hutchinson and Onderj Pavelec are not number one goalies in the NHL. The reason they made the playoffs last season was because of Hutchinson’s amazing play down the final stretch of the season. I don’t see him doing this again this year. I actually have Winnipeg last in this division. I would say they finish about 10th in the conference, however, because the Pacific is so weak.