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NHL Nick's Net

Marchand nets hat trick in, 5-1, victory over Montréal

Brad Marchand scored a hat trick, while Curtis Lazar had three points (two goals, one assist) and Linus Ullmark made 24 saves in a, 5-1, win for the Boston Bruins over the Montréal Canadiens Wednesday night at TD Garden.

Ullmark (12-5-0, 2.48 goals-against average, .918 save percentage in 17 games played) turned aside 24 out of 25 shots faced in the win for Boston.

Montréal starter, Jake Allen (5-16-2, 3.15 goals-against average, .901 save percentage in 24 games played), made five saves on seven shots against before an injury forced him out of the game in the loss.

Canadiens head coach, Dominique Ducharme, replaced Allen with Sam Montembeault (1-6-2, 3.99 goals-against average, .895 save percentage in 12 games played) 17:11 into the action.

Montembeault made 31 saves on 34 shots for no decision.

The Bruins improved to 20-11-2 (42 points) overall and remain in command of 4th place in the Atlantic Division standings, while the Habs fell to 7-24-4 (18 points) on the season and stuck in 8th place (last) in the Atlantic.

The B’s are now 2-0-0 against the Canadiens this season in their regular season series with a pair of games left to play in Montréal.

Tuukka Rask served as the backup goaltender for Boston on Wednesday after recovering from offseason hip surgery and signing a one-year contract with a cap hit of $1.000 million ($545,000 in actual salary given the time of the signing) on Tuesday.

Rask went 15-5-2 in 24 games last season with a 2.28 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage in that span, as well as two shutouts.

In 560 career National Hockey League games since making his NHL debut in the 2007-08 season, Rask has 306 wins, a career 2.27 goals-against average, a career .921 save percentage and 52 shutouts.

He holds Bruins franchise records in games played by a goalie (560), wins (306), shots against (15,485), saves (14,269), save percentage (.922) and minutes (32,206) and ranks second in goals-against average (2.27, trailing Tiny Thompson’s 1.99 career GAA in a B’s sweater), as well as shutouts (52, trailing Thompson’s 74).

As a result of Rask’s signing, Jeremy Swayman was assigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) as Swayman is not eligible for the NHL’s taxi squad designation.

Boston Sports Journal‘s Conor Ryan noted in a tweet on Tuesday that Rask “was assigned to Providence 10 times between Sept. 2007 and Feb. 2009 before finally carving out an NHL spot. One of those assignments was two days after a 21-year-old Rask had a 35-save shutout against NYR. It’s part of the process,” in an effort to quell feelings of uneasiness watching Swaymen get sent down among Bruins fans.

B’s General Manager, Don Sweeney, informed reporters on Tuesday that Swayman, while disappointed, understands the organization’s decision and shows the drive to get back to the NHL level if an injury or otherwise should occur and necessitate another call-up.

The Bruins were without the services of Jakub Zboril (right ACL), Nick Foligno (lower body), Connor Clifton (COVID-19 protocol), Derek Forbort (COVID-19 protocol) and Trent Frederic (upper body) on Wednesday night.

Boston head coach, Bruce Cassidy, told reporters ahead of the game against Montréal that Frederic would miss the next two games– at least– while Foligno could return to action next week.

Meanwhile, Jake DeBrusk and Tomáš Nosek returned from the league’s COVID-19 protocol and were re-inserted in the lineup against the Canadiens.

DeBrusk suited up on the third line in his usual spot at left wing with Charlie Coyle at center and Oskar Steen at right wing, while Nosek resumed his regular role as the fourth line center– flanked by Anton Blidh and Lazar on the wings.

On defense, Cassidy left his pairings alone from Monday night’s, 7-3, win in Washington, D.C. despite Boston having called up Tyler Lewington on an emergency basis.

Urho Vaakanainen, John Moore, Troy Grosenick and Steven Fogarty were reassigned to Providence on Tuesday in what was simply a paper transaction for Vaakanainen and Moore (the pair were recalled prior to facing the Canadiens), while Grosenick and Fogarty remained with the P-Bruins on Wednesday.

Boston’s long list of players out of the lineup against Montréal included Frederic (upper body), Foligno (lower body), Forbort (COVID-19 protocol), Lewington (taxi squad), Zboril (right ACL), Clifton (COVID-19 protocol) and Karson Kuhlman (healthy scratch).

Prior to the singing of the anthems, the Bruins held a moment of silence to honor the life of Teddy Balkind, a 16-year-old hockey player from Connecticut that was killed as a result of an injury that he sustained in a game last week.

Midway through the opening frame, Jeff Petry had his helmet knocked off by Blidh and kept on playing as if nothing had happened. Except that’s a penalty these days.

Petry cut a rut to the box for playing without a helmet and presented the Bruins with the night’s first power play at 9:22 of the first period, but Boston couldn’t muster anything on the skater advantage.

Late in the period, Marchand snuck onto the ice in the midst of a line change and stood open on the left side of the net on the doorstep as Nosek sent a shot-pass to Marchand (17) for the redirection behind Allen.

The Bruins led, 1-0, as Nosek (5) and Lazar (6) notched the assists on Marchand’s first goal of the night at 14:43 of the first period.

A mere 15 seconds later, Marchand (18) one-timed the puck out of mid-air through Allen’s five-hole after the rubber biscuit was initially shot by Craig Smith off of a Montréal defender— high and wide before bouncing off the glass over the net to Marchand.

Smith (8) and Patrice Bergeron (16) tallied the assists on Marchand’s second goal of the game and Boston led, 2-0, at 14:58.

Marchand, as a result, became the first Bruin to score a pair of goals in 15 seconds since Milan Lucic notched a pair en route to scoring a hat trick against the Florida Panthers in a, 4-0, win on Nov. 18, 2010, at TD Garden.

Coincidentally, Marchand would later complete a hat trick of his own in Wednesday night’s victory.

After giving up two goals that were 15 seconds apart, Allen spoke with a Canadiens athletic trainer and was taken out of the game.

Late in the period, DeBrusk sent a shot towards the net looking for an intentional deflection off of Lazar’s (4) foot and into the twine.

DeBrusk (5) and Matt Grzelcyk (12) earned the assists as the Bruins took a, 3-0, lead at 19:10 of the first period.

Heading into the first intermission, Boston led, 3-0, on the scoreboard and, 13-6, in shots on goal.

The B’s also led in faceoff win percentage (59-41), while the Canadiens dominated in blocked shots (7-1), takeaways (5-1), giveaways (2-0) and hits (14-12).

Montréal had yet to see any action on the skater advantage, while Boston was 0/1 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

Bergeron slashed Jonathan Drouin to avoid giving up a quick goal in the second period, but was sent to the box at 3:19 anyway– yielding a power play to the Canadiens as a result.

Montréal couldn’t convert on the ensuing skater advantage, but got another chance at 6:41 of the second period when Erik Haula was assessed a hooking minor for yanking on Mike Hoffman with his stick.

The Canadiens were subsequently embarrassed on the ensuing special teams play, however, as Marchand (19) scored a shorthanded goal to complete his hat trick and give Boston a, 4-0, lead at 7:10.

Moore (1) and Bergeron (17) had the assists as Marchand picked out a hat from the ice to give to an equipment manager on the Bruins’ bench for safekeeping until after the game.

For the fifth time in his career, Marchand had scored a hat trick and became just the second Bruin to amass three goals in a game this season as Bergeron had previously done so in a, 5-1, win against the Detroit Red Wings on Nov. 4, 2021.

Less than a minute later, Ben Chiarot was sent to the box for roughing at 7:50, but Boston couldn’t capitalize on the resulting power play.

Moments later, Michael Pezzetta (2) received a pass from Brett Kulak and spun around before flinging the puck on Ullmark’s short side– scoring a goal as the Bruins failed to clear the zone and broke down in their own end.

Kulak (7) had the only assist as the Canadiens trailed, 4-1, at 10:46 of the second period.

A minute later, Bergeron went back to the box for roughing at 11:49 as he retaliated for a hit behind his own net that he didn’t like when a Montréal player took down Grzelcyk below the goal line.

Montréal’s power play was cut short as Nick Suzuki was penalized for holding at 13:41, resulting in a little 4-on-4 action for nine seconds before an abbreviated power play for Boston began.

Finally, at 19:10 of the second period, Kulak cut a rut to the sin bin for slashing, but the Bruins wouldn’t convert on the skater advantage even as it bled into the final frame of regulation.

Through 40 minutes of play, the B’s led, 4-1, on the scoreboard and dominated in shots on goal, 28-15, including a, 15-9, advantage in the middle frame alone.

The Habs, meanwhile, led in blocked shots (10-3), takeaways (6-2), giveaways (5-4) and hits (22-17), as Boston controlled faceoff win%, 53-47.

Montréal was 0/3 and the Bruins were 0/4 on the power play heading into the second intermission.

Prior to the start of the third period, the Bruins tweeted that Moore would not return to the night’s action with an upper body injury.

Smith tripped Joel Armia 47 seconds into the third period and yielded 26 seconds of 4-on-4 action before an abbreviated power play for Montréal as a result.

The Canadiens didn’t score on the ensuing skater advantage.

Moments later, Marchand took down Suzuki as the Canadiens forward almost had his stick on the puck resulting in an interference minor for Marchand at 5:48 of the third period.

It wasn’t that much longer before things started to get chippy on the ice between the two rival clubs.

A scrum after a whistle at 6:57 of the third period quickly descended into an exchange of forceful shoves and move as Pezzetta and Carlo received roughing minors while Chris Wideman head-butted Haula– further escalating the situation.

Haula received a minor for roughing, while Wideman was assessed two minutes for roughing as well as an unsportsmanlike conduct infraction.

Both teams skated at 4-on-4 for a little longer before resuming full even strength, resulting in a dominant possession for the Bruins at the other end.

Vaakanainen blasted a shot from the point that deflected off of Lazar’s (5) blade and flew under Montembeault’s blocker to give Boston another four-goal lead at 10:19 of the third period.

Vaakanainen (3) and Blidh (6) tallied the assists on Lazar’s second goal of the game and the Bruins led, 5-1.

Minutes later, Ullmark and Laurent Dauphin exchanged pleasantries leading a quick chop that went uncalled as Ullmark instead received an interference minor and Dauphin was handed an embellishment infraction.

Taylor Hall served Ullmark’s penalty while Dauphin had to answer Haula in an exchange of fisticuffs as the boiling point had been reached at 15:o5 of the third period in just the ninth fighting major this season for the Bruins.

The action simmered down afterwards and remained relatively calm as the final minutes winded down and the final horn sounded.

Boston had won, 5-1, and finished the night leading in shots on goal, 41-25.

Montréal left TD Garden with the advantage in blocked shots (10-4), giveaways (10-5) and hits (29-21), while the Bruins exited their own ice leading in faceoff win% (54-46).

Both teams went 0/5 on the power play on Wednesday as the B’s earned their third three-game win streak of the season.

Boston improved to 13-5-0 (6-3-0 at home) when scoring first, 14-0-0 (6-0-0 at home) when leading after one period and 15-1-0 (5-1-0 at home) when leading after two periods this season.

The Canadiens, meanwhile, fell to 2-20-1 (0-11-1 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 1-13-2 (0-9-2 on the road) when trailing after the first period and 1-20-2 (0-11-2 on the road) when trailing after the second period in 2021-22.

The Bruins (1-0-0) continue their seven-game homestand on Thursday night against the Philadelphia Flyers (7 p.m. ET on ESPN) before hosting the Nashville Predators on Saturday.

The Carolina Hurricanes, Washington Capitals, Winnipeg Jets and Anaheim Ducks will also visit Boston before the B’s hit the road on Jan. 26th in Colorado.

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Bruins thrash Capitals in, 7-3, road victory

David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand each had a pair of goals, but both players paled in comparison to Matt Grzelcyk’s five-point night (one goal, four assists) as the Boston Bruins beat the Washington Capitals, 7-3, at Capital One Arena on Monday night.

Grzelcyk (1-4–5) became the first Bruins defender to score five points in a game since Ray Bourque (0-5–5) also had five points against the Capitals in an, 8-2, win at Boston Garden on Jan. 2, 1994.

Linus Ullmark (11-5-0, 2.57 goals-against average, .917 save percentage in 16 games played) made 27 saves on 30 shots against in the win for Boston.

Washington goaltender, Zach Fucale (1-1-1, 1.74 goals-against average, .924 save percentage in four games played), stopped 12 out of 16 shots faced before being replaced by Vitek Vanecek almost midway in the second period.

Vanecek (6-4-5, 2.62 goals-against average, .907 save percentage in 17 games played) had 12 saves on 15 shots in relief of Fucale for no decision.

The Bruins improved to 19-11-2 (40 points) on the season and remain in command of 4th place in the Atlantic Division, while the Capitals fell to 20-8-9 (49 points) overall despite holding onto 3rd place in the Metropolitan Division.

The B’s are now 1-0-0 against the Caps so far this season and went 4-2-2 against Washington last season.

Charlie McAvoy made his return to the blue line for Boston after missing the last two games due to a lower body injury.

McAvoy suited up alongside Grzelcyk in his usual spot on the first defensive pairing on Monday, while Derek Forbort and Connor Clifton joined Jake DeBrusk and Tomáš Nosek in the National Hockey League’s COVID-19 protocol.

As a result of Forbort and Clifton’s absence, Urho Vaakanainen and John Moore were made the de facto third pairing defenders in Washington, D.C.

Karson Kuhlman also made his return to action for the Bruins since being placed in COVID protocol on Jan. 1st and missing the last four games.

With Nick Foligno (lower body) out against the Capitals, Trent Frederic was promoted to the third line left wing role, while Curtis Lazar centered the fourth line and Kuhlman slid in on the right side.

In summary, the B’s were without Foligno (lower body), Forbort (COVID protocol), Steven Fogarty (taxi squad), Troy Grosenick (taxi squad), Jakub Zboril (right ACL), DeBrusk (COVID protocol), Clifton (COVID protocol) and Nosek (COVID protocol) on Wednesday.

DeBrusk is expected to be cleared from the league’s COVID-19 protocol on Tuesday and practice with the team and may be in the lineup on Wednesday as Boston plays host to the Montréal Canadiens.

Conor Sheary kicked things off with a right place, right time calculated effort as Nic Dowd dumped the puck off the endboards, whereby Ullmark misplayed the puck and Brandon Carlo was out of position as Sheary (9) picked up the loose puck and scored on a backhand shot.

Dowd (5) and Garnet Hathaway (6) tallied the assists on Sheary’s first goal of the game as the Capitals took a, 1-0, lead at 3:02 of the first period.

Almost midway through the opening frame, Grzelcyk was penalized for interference, yielding the night’s first power play to Washington at 8:33, though the Caps couldn’t convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Grzelcyk, at first, didn’t do much to redeem himself on the night after giving the puck away to Sheary (10) in the slot for a one-timer goal of sorts over Ullmark’s glove after Grzelcyk returned from the box.

Sheary’s unassisted effort gave Washington a, 2-0, lead on his second goal of the game at 12:32 of the first period.

Before long, however, the Capitals became undisciplined.

Evgeny Kuznetsov was penalized for holding at 13:27 and the Bruins went on their first power play of the night as a result.

Boston got a two-skater advantage about a minute later when Dowd took a chunk off of Marchand’s nose with a high stick at 14:42– leaving Marchand bloody and Dowd with a double-minor infraction as a result.

The B’s earned a 5-on-3 power play for 43 seconds until that, too, was cut short by Patrice Bergeron bumping into Lars Eller without the puck.

Bergeron cut a rut to the sin bin for interference at 15:09 and the Bruins held onto a rare 4-on-3 advantage for about 15 seconds before the two teams played at 4-on-4 for a span of 1:42.

While Dowd was still in the box serving his double-minor, however, John Carlson delivered a swift cross check to Erik Haula’s backside and was penalized at 18:19 of the first period– yielding another 5-on-3 power play for Boston, albeit for 23 seconds.

It didn’t take long for the Bruins to strike, however, as Marchand setup Pastrnak (12) in his usual spot from the dot on the left side for a one-timed power-play goal– cutting into Washington’s lead, 2-1, at 18:34.

Marchand (20) and Grzelcyk (8) tallied the assists on Pastrnak’s power-play goal.

Less than a minute later, Marchand (15) received a pass from Grzelcyk and raced up the boards into the attacking zone before unloading a wrist shot that appeared to deflect off of Trevor van Riemsdyk’s stick and floated over Fucale’s shoulder on the far, blocker side, from the right dot.

Grzelcyk (9) and Pastrnak (14) notched the assists on Marchand’s power-play goal and the Bruins tied it, 2-2, at 19:14 of the first period.

After one period, the B’s and Caps were tied, 2-2, on the scoreboard despite Washington leading in shots on goal, 11-10.

The Capitals also maintained an advantage in blocked shots (4-2), while Boston led in takeaways (3-0), giveaways (2-0), hits (10-9) and faceoff win percentage (57-43).

Washington was 0/1 and Boston was 2/4 on the power play heading into the first intermission.

Early in the middle frame, Anton Blidh fed Grzelcyk a lead pass from the neutral zone into the attacking zone before Grzelcyk (2) flung a shot from just past the blue line over Fucale’s glove side into the top corner of the net– giving the Bruins their first lead of the night, 3-2, in the process.

Blidh (4) had the only assist on Grzelcyk’s goal at 2:51 of the second period and the B’s never looked back as Grzelcyk earned his first career three-point night (that he would then extend into his first career five-point night).

Moments later, Bergeron made a save at the other end of the rink while blocking a shot driveway hockey style as Ullmark was down and out.

The Bruins surged in momentum and raced to their attacking zone whereby Lazar wrapped the puck around the net and slipped a pass through the slot to Craig Smith (4) for the one-timer goal.

Lazar (5) and Blidh (5) picked up the assists as Boston took a, 4-2, lead at 7:53 of the second period.

Capitals head coach, Peter Laviolette, then decided that four unanswered goals against was the perfect time to make a change in the crease– replacing Fucale with Vanecek.

It didn’t take Boston long to beat Vanecek as a warm welcome to the ice.

Taylor Hall and Pastrnak skated in on a 2-on-1 before Hall sent a pass over to Pastrnak (13) for a catch and release goal over Vanecek’s glove on the far side– top shelf– under the bar.

Hall (14) and Vaakanainen (2) notched the assists as Pastrnak recorded his second goal of the game and Boston’s fifth unanswered goal to take a, 5-2, lead at 8:54 of the second period.

Less than five minutes later, Haula (3) snapped a shot from about the faceoff circle over Vanecek’s glove– extending the Bruins’ lead to four goals at 13:09.

Hall (15) and Grzelcyk (10) were credited with the assists on Haula’s goal and the B’s led, 6-2, past the midpoint of the night’s action.

Less than a minute later, Washington scored a fluke goal– ending Boston’s run of six unanswered goals, thanks to T.J. Oshie’s (5) deflection on a shot pass from Alex Ovechkin.

Ovechkin (28) and Kuznetsov (23) had the assists on Oshie’s goal and the Capitals trailed, 6-3, at 14:06 of the second period.

Through 40 minutes of action, the Bruins led, 6-3, on the scoreboard despite trailing, 22-21, in shots on goal. Both teams split shots on net in the second period alone, 11-11, however.

The Caps led in blocked shots (9-8), takeaways (7-4) and hits (24-18) after two periods, while Boston led in giveaways (4-2) and faceoff win% (58-42).

Washington was 0/1 on the power play, while the B’s were 2/4 on the skater advantage heading into the final frame.

Prior to the third period, the Bruins tweeted that Frederic would not return to Monday night’s game with an upper body injury.

Not much happened in the final frame until the midpoint when Marchand (16) scored his second goal of the game after Smith’s initial shot rebounded to Marchand for a beautiful display of hand-eye coordination– batting the puck out of mid-air to his blade before slipping the rubber biscuit over Vanecek’s outstretched pad, but under the blocker.

Smith (7) and Grzelcyk (11) notched the assists as the Bruins extended their lead to four goals once more, 7-3, at 10:59 of the third period.

Marchand’s second goal of the game also marked the most goals in a game for Boston this season.

Late in the period, Hall tripped up Martin Fehervary, but the Capitals weren’t able to convert on the ensuing power play at 18:55.

At the final horn, the Bruins had won, 7-3, and finished the night leading in shots on goal, 31-30– including a, 10-8, advantage in the third period alone.

Boston exited Capital One Arena holding an advantage in giveaways (6-3) and faceoff win% (57-43), while Washington left their own ice leading in blocked shots (12-11) and hits (35-27).

The Caps finished the night 0/2 on the power play, while the B’s went 2/4.

The Bruins improved to 7-6-2 (3-3-1 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 3-5-1 (2-2-1 on the road) when tied after the first period and 14-1-0 (10-0-0 on the road) when leading after two periods this season.

Meanwhile, Washington fell to 16-6-4 (9-2-2 at home) when scoring first, 7-4-3 (1-2-1 at home) when tied after one and 1-6-4 (0-3-1 at home) when trailing after the second period in 2021-22.

Boston returns home to host the Montréal Canadiens on Wednesday and begin a seven-game homestand. The Bruins will play host to the Canadiens, Philadelphia Flyers, Nashville Predators, Carolina Hurricanes, Capitals, Winnipeg Jets and Anaheim Ducks before hitting the road again in Colorado on Jan. 26th.

The B’s host Montréal and Philadelphia on back-to-back nights, Wednesday and Thursday before finishing the current week against the Predators on Saturday.

Wednesday night’s game against the Canadiens was originally scheduled to be at Bell Centre, but due to the rise of the Omicron variant and capacity limits across Canada, that game has been postponed and instead Boston’s meeting with the Habs originally scheduled for March 21st has been moved up.

Tickets for March 21st in Boston will be honored on Jan. 12th against Montréal.

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Bruins storm Lightning for, 5-2, win on the road

David Pastrnak scored a pair of quick goals before Brad Marchand added a pair of his own later in a, 5-2, win for the Boston Bruins against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena on Saturday night.

Linus Ullmark (10-5-0, 2.54 goals-against average, .918 save percentage in 15 games played) stopped 27 out of 29 shots faced for a .931 save percentage in the win for Boston.

Tampa netminder, Andrei Vasilevskiy (19-6-3, 2.23 goals-against average, .923 save percentage in 28 games played), made 25 saves on 29 shots against in the loss.

The Bruins improved to 18-11-2 (38 points) overall and remain in command of 4th place of the Atlantic Division (nine points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for 3rd place).

Meanwhile, the Lightning fell to 23-9-5 (51 points) and slipped to 2nd place in the Atlantic by virtue of a tiebreaker, having sustained fewer regulation wins (15) than the Florida Panthers (17).

The B’s also improved to 1-0-1 against the Bolts this season with two games remaining in their regular season series (March 24th @ TD Garden and April 8th at Amalie Arena).

Bruce Cassidy told reporters prior to the game that Charlie McAvoy (lower body) would be a game-time decision and the NESN broadcast learned during warmup that if McAvoy wasn’t good enough to suit up, then Urho Vaakanainen would be making his season debut alongside Matt Grzelcyk on the first pairing.

And that’s exactly what happened as McAvoy missed his third game this season due to injury or illness, joining Jakub Zboril (right ACL), Karson Kuhlman (COVID-19 protocol), Jake DeBrusk (COVID-19 protocol) and Tomáš Nosek (COVID-19 protocol) on the list of players out of the lineup for Boston.

Cassidy made no changes to among his forwards from Thursday night’s, 3-2, loss against the Minnesota Wild.

John Moore joined Steven Fogarty and Troy Grosenick on Boston’s taxi squad on Saturday with goaltender, Tuukka Rask, expected to join the team on an NHL contract next week.

Taylor Hall setup Pastrnak (10) with a breakout pass about a minute into the action as No. 88 in black and gold entered the attacking zone from the middle of the ice and flung a shot on net that beat Vasilevskiy on the far blocker side.

Hall (12) and Derek Forbort (3) tallied the assists as the Bruins jumped out to a, 1-0, lead at 1:11 of the first period.

About 90 seconds later, Curtis Lazar tripped up Mathieu Joseph in the neutral zone and cut a rut to the box– yielding the night’s first power play to the Lightning at 2:45, but Boston’s penalty kill stood tall.

Moments later, Hall sent a shot on goal that rebounded off of Vasilevskiy’s pads as Pastrnak (11) crashed the net– kicking the rubber biscuit to his blade before burying the puck low, glove side, as Vasilevskiy was caught looking in the other direction.

The Bruins led, 2-0, as Hall (13) and Erik Haula (7) picked up the assists on Pastrnak’s second goal of the game at 6:10 of the first period.

Midway through the opening frame, Nick Foligno was taken down in front of Tampa’s net and was helped off the ice, clutching his right leg.

The Bruins later tweeted that he wouldn’t return for the rest of the night with a lower body injury and Cassidy ruled him out of the lineup for Monday night against the Capitals in Washington, D.C. while speaking to reporters after Saturday night’s win.

After one period, the B’s led, 2-0, on the scoreboard, despite trailing, 13-7, in shots on goal.

The Bolts held the advantage in giveaways (1-0), while Boston led in blocked shots (3-1), takeaways (4-2) and faceoff win percentage (58-42). Both teams managed to amass 11 hits each.

The Lightning were 0/1 on the power play heading into the first intermission, while the Bruins had yet to see any action on the skater advantage.

Boston got off to a fast start in the middle frame as Patrice Bergeron worked the puck to Mike Reilly as the team worked their way around the attacking zone before Reilly sent a shot attempt towards the slot for Marchand (13) to redirect with a backhand deflection past Vasilevskiy– extending Boston’s lead to three goals.

Reilly (5) and Bergeron (15) notched the assists as Marchand’s goal gave the Bruins a, 3-0, lead 26 seconds into the second period.

Midway through the period, Marchand hooked Erik Cernak and cut a rut to the sin bin at 8:39.

Tampa went on a 5-on-3 advantage for 47 seconds when Bergeron caught Victor Hedman with a high stick at 9:53 of the second period.

The Bruins killed off both minor infractions, however.

Late in the period, Oskar Steen forced a turnover in the attacking zone and worked a quick pass to Anton Blidh (2) for a catch and release goal on the short side past Vasilevskiy’s blocker.

Steen (4) had the only assist on Blidh’s goal at 14:54 and Boston led, 4-0, heading into the second intermission.

Through 40 minutes of action, the B’s led, 4-0, despite trailing in shots on goal, 20-19– though Boston held a, 12-7, advantage in shots on net in the second period alone.

The Bruins dominated in blocked shots (8-1) and takeaways (6-3), while the Lightning led in giveaways (2-0), hits (21-20) and faceoff win% (52-48).

Boston had yet to see any time on the skater advantage, while Tampa was 0/3 on the power play heading into the final frame.

Tampa emerged fresh from the dressing room to kickstart the third period with a goal 24 seconds into the final frame– disrupting Ullmark’s bid for a shutout in the process.

Mikhail Sergachev dumped the puck into the corner on a hard intentional rebound for Cernak to one-touch pass off the carom over to Ondrej Palat (14) for a one-timer goal on a half empty net.

Cernak (4) and Sergachev (14) nabbed the assists on Palat’s goal and the Lightning trailed, 4-1, 24 seconds into the third period.

A couple minutes later, Vasilevskiy tripped Trent Frederic and presented the Bruins with their first power play of the night at 2:28 of the third period.

Boris Katchouk, meanwhile, served Vasilevskiy’s minor infraction while the Bolts killed off the penalty.

Midway through the third period, Brayden Point (13) received a pass from Cernak, stopped and measured up, then wired the puck past Ullmark inside the post to cut Boston’s lead to two goals.

Cernak (5) and Sergachev (15) tallied the assists and the Lightning trailed, 4-2, at 11:20 of the third period– making things exciting for Tampa fans for an inevitable comeback, right?

Except the comeback never came. Not Saturday night, anyway.

Roughly 90 seconds after Point brought more momentum in favor of the Bolts, Anthony Cirelli tripped Bergeron and cut a rut to the box at 12:57– yielding a power play to the Bruins for the second time of the night.

Boston’s skater advantage was cut short, however, as Charlie Coyle hooked Joseph at 14:54 and brought the Lightning forward to the ice.

After four seconds of 4-on-4 action, Tampa went on an abbreviated power play, but the Bruins’ penalty kill handled the surge in momentum well and killed off Coyle’s infraction.

Lightning head coach, Jon Cooper, pulled Vasilevskiy for an extra attacker, but it was to no avail as Marchand (14) pocketed his second goal of the game from downtown near the blue line and Vaakanainen (1) picked up an assist in his first game of the season.

The Bruins led, 5-2, at 17:11 of the third period and Cooper didn’t pull his goaltender for the rest of the night as the seconds ticked down and the final horn sounded decisively in favor of Boston.

The B’s had won, 5-2, and finished the game leading in shots on goal, 30-29, after managing to amass an, 11-9, advantage in shots on net in the third period alone.

The Bruins left Amalie Arena with two points in the standings, as well as the lead in blocked shots (9-7) and faceoff win% (54-46), while the Bolts left their home ice leading in giveaways (2-0) and hits (31-26).

Tampa finished the night 0/4 on the power play while Boston went 0/2.

The B’s improved to 12-5-0 (7-2-0 on the road) when scoring first, 13-0-0 (8-0-0 on the road) when leading after the first period and 13-1-0 (9-0-0 on the road) when leading after two periods this season.

The Lightning fell to 9-8-1 (5-3-1 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 4-5-1 (2-1-1 at home) when trailing after one and 3-7-1 (0-3-1 at home) when losing through two periods in 2021-22.

The Bruins visit the Washington Capitals next Monday (Jan. 10th) before returning home to host the Montréal Canadiens next Wednesday to kickoff a seven-game homestand in which Boston will host the Canadiens, Philadelphia Flyers, Nashville Predators, Carolina Hurricanes, Capitals, Winnipeg Jets and Anaheim Ducks.

The B’s were originally scheduled to play at Bell Centre on Jan. 12th, but due to the rise of the Omicron variant and capacity limits across Canada, that game has been postponed and instead Boston’s meeting with the Habs originally scheduled for March 21st has been moved up.

Tickets for March 21st in Boston will be honored on Jan. 12th against Montréal.

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NHL Nick's Net

Bruins lose close one to Wild on home ice, 3-2

Two quick power play goals on a 5-on-3 advantage turned Thursday night’s action 180-degrees in favor of the Minnesota Wild in their eventual, 3-2, victory over the Boston Bruins at TD Garden.

Wild goaltender, Kaapo Kähkönen (5-2-1, 2.60 goals-against average, .906 save percentage in nine games played) made 36 saves on 38 shots against in the win.

Boston netminder, Jeremy Swayman (8-6-2, 2.26 goals-against average, .918 save percentage in 16 games played) turned aside 27 out of 30 shots faced in the loss.

The Bruins fell to 17-11-2 (36 points) overall, but remain in command of 4th place in the Atlantic Division, as well as the 2nd wild card in Eastern Conference.

Meanwhile, Minnesota improved to 20-10-2 (42 points) on the season and in control of the 1st wild card in the Western Conference, while sitting in 4th place in the Central Division (behind the Colorado Avalanche only in tiebreaker, as the Avs have four more regulation wins than the Wild).

The Bruins were without Jakub Zboril (right ACL), Karson Kuhlman (COVID protocol), Jake DeBrusk (COVID protocol), Tomáš Nosek (COVID protocol) and Charlie McAvoy (lower body) on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Tuukka Rask signed a PTO (player training operative) with the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Thursday in an attempt to play at least one game before signing an NHL deal with Boston and returning to action after rehabbing offseason hip surgery.

Providence’s weekend matchups against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms were postponed, which could put a wrench in Rask’s return to Boston plans if the B’s aren’t quite ready to go with three goaltenders for the time being.

That said, they did recall and assign Urho Vaakanainen, Steven Fogarty and Troy Grosenick from Providence to the taxi squad– the latter being a goaltender ahead of Thursday night’s loss to Minnesota.

With McAvoy and Nosek out of the lineup, Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made a few minor tweaks to his lines and defensive pairings.

John Moore returned to action alongside Matt Grzelcyk on the first pairing, while Trent Frederic went from playing wing to centering the fourth line in place of Nosek with Anton Blidh in his usual role at left wing.

Vaakanainen, Fogarty and Grosenick served as healthy scratches on the taxi squad against the Wild.

Matt Boldy and Marco Rossi made their National Hockey League debuts for the Wild, while defender, Jonas Brodin returned to Minnesota’s lineup after a stint in the league’s COVID protocol.

Less than half a minute into the action, Mike Reilly tripped up Rossi and cut a rut to the box– presenting the Wild with the first power play of the game 23 seconds into the first period.

Minnesota failed to convert on their first skater advantage of the night, but it wouldn’t be long before Boston’s undisciplined play came back to bite them.

Early in the action, Kevin Fiala slashed Brad Marchand before Matt Dumba hooked David Pastrnak while falling and attempting to clear the crease as the Bruins forward crashed the net.

Boston went on a 5-on-3 advantage at 4:36, but couldn’t muster anything past Kähkönen before Patrice Bergeron tripped Frederick Gaudreau at 6:11– yielding a 4-on-3 power play for the Bruins for about 26 seconds before the Wild earned an abbreviated advantage.

It didn’t take the B’s long to capitalize on all of the open ice as Erik Haula worked the puck back to Reilly in the high slot diamond formation prior to feeding Taylor Hall (7) with a perfect pass for a one-timer power-play goal off of Brodin’s leg and through Kähkönen’s five-hole.

Reilly (4) and Haula (6) tallied the assists as Hall’s goal put Boston on top, 1-0, at 6:35 of the third period.

The Bruins managed to escape Bergeron’s minor unscathed thereafter.

Late in the period, however, the tides began to turn as a surge in momentum featured dominant possession and rising shot totals for Minnesota.

As the Bruins trailed the play, Marchand yielded a holding infraction, while Brandon Carlo interfered with Mats Zuccarello at 14:49.

The Wild went on a two-skater advantage and didn’t waste time on the 5-on-3 power play– capitalizing on both opportunities they were presented with.

First, Zuccarello sent a pass through the slot to Kirill Kaprizov (14) for a one-timer blast on the power play reminiscent of Washington Capitals forward, Alex Ovechkin, or even Pastrnak’s craft.

Zuccarello (18) and Fiala (15) were credited with the assists on Kaprizov’s power-play goal that knotted things up, 1-1, at 15:25 of the first period.

About a minute later, Nico Sturm (6) deflected a shot from the point by Brodin as Connor Dewar and other traffic screened Swayman.

Sturm’s deflection rose over Swayman’s glove side and put the Wild ahead, 2-1, at 16:48 of the first period.

Brodin (12) and Dewar (1) recorded the assists. Dewar’s secondary assist marked his first career NHL point in the process.

Late in the period, after a stoppage in play Kaprizov and Blidh got into a bit of a shoving match– exchanging pleasantries and picking up roughing minors– while Trent Frederic tried to engage Zuccarello before pulling Zuccarello’s helmet off and yielding an automatic unsportsmanlike conduct minor.

Minnesota, as a result, went on the power play at 18:12 of the first period and would start the middle frame on the skater advantage as the special teams action blended through the first intermission.

After one period, the Wild led, 2-1, on the scoreboard and, 14-10, in shots on goal.

Minnesota also held the advantage in hits (13-10), while Boston led in blocked shots (2-0), takeaways (2-1) and faceoff win percentage (59-41).

Both teams managed to have one giveaway each entering the first intermission, while the Wild were 2/5 on the power play and the Bruins were 1/2.

Alex Goligoski picked up an interference infraction at 4:27 of the second period, but Boston’s power play went by the wayside without tying things up.

Midway through the period, Kaprizov tried to free the puck from near the boards out of his own zone before bumping into Grzelcyk, causing Kaprizov to fall into a vulnerable position before Frederic came along and made a check that was a bit too strong to cash.

Kaprizov crashed into the boards awkwardly and skated off with the help of a trainer while his right arm remained pretty limp. He would not return for the night with an upper body injury, as the Wild PR team later tweeted.

Frederic was assessed a boarding minor (that Craig Smith ended up serving) and a five-minute major for fighting as Dmitry Kulikov stood up for his fallen teammate and exchanged fisticuffs in what was Boston’s seventh fighting major of the 2021-22 season.

The Bruins’ penalty kill stood tall until they were caught in the vulnerable minute after special teams action as Marcus Foligno and Boldy played a little catch as Boldy (1) dished the puck to Foligno entering the zone before receiving a pass back and burying a shot on Swayman’s blocker side to extend Minnesota’s lead.

Foligno (8) and Brodin (13) tallied the assists on Boldy’s first career NHL goal with lots of family and former Boston College teammates in attendance at TD Garden.

The Wild led, 3-1, at 12:26 of the second period as a result.

Less than a minute later, Bergeron made his way to the box for the second time in the game– this time for interference at 13:03.

Shortly after Minnesota’s power play came to an end, however, the Wild ended up shorthanded as Dumba caught Reilly without the puck and picked up an interference minor of his own at 15:10.

This time, the Bruins capitalized on the ensuing power play.

Marchand sent a shot attempt towards the net that was blocked before the B’s continued to work the puck around the attacking zone.

Suddenly, Bergeron made a no-look pass from the slot to where he expected Marchand to be and Marchand (12) buried a one-timer from the dot to bring Boston to within one goal.

Bergeron (14) and Grzelcyk (7) nabbed the assists on Marchand’s power-play goal and the Bruins trailed, 3-2, at 15:35 of the second period.

Through 40 minutes of action on Thursday, the Wild led on the road, 3-2, and held an advantage in shots on goal, 24-21, despite trailing, 11-10, in the second period alone.

The Bruins, meanwhile, led in blocked shots (6-2), hits (25-16) and faceoff win% (58-42), while both teams had four takeaways and three giveaways each.

Minnesota was 2/7 on the power play and Boston was 2/4 on the skater advantage heading into the final frame.

After injuring Kaprizov and drawing the ire of the Wild, Frederic had to confront Minnesota’s Foligno brother in an exchange of fisticuffs at 1:12 of the third period.

The trouble is that Frederic couldn’t help himself in making his case any easier for him as he also drew a high sticking minor in addition to the five-minute major– totaling minutes in penalties on Thursday.

It was the second fight of the night and decisively shorted than the first with Foligno getting the takedown and five minutes worth of a fighting major of his own.

Minnesota’s ensuing power play was cut short when Rossi tripped Carlo at 1:24, but Boston couldn’t score during the ensuing abbreviated power play.

In fact, neither team could put one up on the scoreboard in the third period as time ticked away, Cassidy pulled his goaltender with about 1:28 to go, used his timeout after a stoppage with 1:23 remaining, then the final horn sounded– signaling a Wild victory.

Minnesota won, 3-2, despite finishing the night trailing in shots on goal, 38-30, as Boston amassed a, 17-6 advantage in shots in the third period alone.

The Wild exited TD Garden leading in blocked shots (10-9), while the B’s left their own building with the advantage in giveaways (7-5), hits (33-23) and faceoff win% (60-40).

Minnesota finished the night 2/8 on the power play, while Boston went 2/5 on the skater advantage.

The Bruins dropped to 11-5-0 (5-3-0 at home) when scoring first, 3-6-1 (3-3-1 at home) when trailing after one period and 3-8-2 (3-4-1 at home) when trailing after two periods this season.

The Wild improved to 7-8-1 (3-5-1 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 13-0-1 (7-0-0 on the road) when leading after the first period and 12-0-1 (8-0-0 on the road) when leading after the second period in 2021-22.

The Bruins hit the road for a quick two-game trip through Tampa, Florida against the Lightning on Saturday and Washington, D.C. against the Capitals next Monday (Jan. 10th). 

Boston will return home to host the Montréal Canadiens in a game that was originally slated to be at Bell Centre prior to the rise of the Omicron variant prompting the NHL to move up Boston and Montréal’s March 21st game scheduled at TD Garden to Jan. 12th– kicking off a seven-game homestand for the B’s as a result.

Tickets for March 21st will be honored on Jan. 12th and the original game that was slated to be in Montréal is postponed to a later date (TBA).

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NHL Nick's Net Previews

Boston Bruins 2021-22 Season Preview

2020-21 record 33-16-7, 73 points

3rd in the MassMutual NHL East Division

Eliminated in the Second Round by N.Y. Islanders

Additions: F Samuel Asselin, F Steven Fogarty, F Nick Foligno, F Jesper Frödén, F Erik Haula, F Tomas Nosek, D Derek Forbort, D James Greenway (acquired from TOR), D Tyler Lewington, G Troy Grosenick, G Linus Ullmark

Subtractions: F Paul Carey (SHL), F Sean Kuraly (signed with CBJ), F David Krejci (ELH), F Robert Lantosi (SHL), F Greg McKegg (signed with NYR), F Ondrej Kase (signed with TOR), F Nick Ritchie (signed with TOR), D Steven Kampfer (KHL), D Jeremy Lauzon (expansion, SEA), D Kevan Miller (retired), D Jarred Tinordi (signed with NYR), G Jaroslav Halak (signed with VAN), G Dan Vladar (traded to CGY)

Still Unsigned: F Alex Khokhlachev (KHL, BOS reserve list), G Tuukka Rask

Re-signed: F Anton Blidh, F Trent Frederic, F Taylor Hall, F Cameron Hughes, F Joona Koppanen, F Zach Senyshyn, D Brandon Carlo, D Mike Reilly, D Nick Wolff, G Callum Booth

Offseason Analysis: The Bruins are in a period of transition. Stop calling them favorites.

They might still be playoff contenders, but they’ll have to focus on even making the postseason first to begin with shortly– if not already– this upcoming season.

Boston’s General Manager, Don Sweeney, had his work cut out for him this summer and managed it pretty well– all things considered.

Sure, the B’s don’t have David Krejci and we’ll get into that, but instead of signing one or two free agents and calling it a day, then talking about needing to fill a hole that he’s left empty for years or created going into the new season, Sweeney signed five key players and then some for depth.

It’s a transition, not a purposeful tank to rebuild– yet, anyway.

As long as Patrice Bergeron is under contract, Boston has assured him they’ll do whatever he and Brad Marchand say the dressing room needs.

Speaking of Bergeron, though, he’s put off contract extension talks until the 2021-22 season is over, so for any Bruins fans that have gone through the pain of watching Zdeno Chara play in a different uniform last season with the Washington Capitals and again this upcoming season with the New York Islanders, as well as watching Krejci return to Czechia this year, well… …it happens. Time waits for no one.

All good things must come to an end and a new era dawns. Just hope it’s a good one.

Oh, and, Tuukka Rask is currently unsigned after offseason hip surgery, though the 34-year-old goaltender has expressed a desire to only play for the Bruins if he’s healthy enough to go for the 2021-22 season by the time December rolls around.

He’ll even sign for league minimum and “tons of Bud Lights”, which a certain podcast would love, even if it isn’t their preferred light beer (shameless plug for some Twitter pals).

Anyway, Sweeney’s saved about $1.089 million in cap space to sign Rask to a low, one-year, deal if he’s good enough to return to action, which wouldn’t complicate matters in the crease with the arrival of Linus Ullmark via free agency and the development of Jeremy Swayman.

Rask and Swayman were always going to share the spotlight as Swayman comes into his own. Rask’s injury, however, slightly changes matters in the handoff.

Ullmark joins the Bruins on a four-year contract worth $5.000 million per season through 2024-25. He was the winningest goaltender for the Buffalo Sabres last season with a 9-6-3 record in 20 games, a 2.63 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage in that span.

Given the workload that he faced in Buffalo compared to Boston’s more structured defense, Ullmark’s numbers should improve as he’s had moments of brilliance in his short spurts thus far– only really coming into the league as a starter or backup goaltender in the last two seasons.

At 28-years-old, he’s right on track for goaltender development and if things head south, the Bruins can use 2021-22 as a write off, plus 2022-23 as a means of giving Swayman full-time starter duties at the earliest.

Swayman, at 22-years-old, has already played 10 National Hockey League games and amassed a 7-3-0 record with a 1.50 goals-against average, a .945 save percentage and two shutouts, but that kind of luck is unheard of for a goaltender.

Eventually, given his unconventional style, his stats will come back to Earth and you don’t want to let reality cut down a goaltender’s confidence so soon while they’re young (see, Philadelphia Flyers goaltender, Carter Hart’s 2020-21 season, for example).

It’s nice to have Swayman as a future ace, but that’s just it– the future. Though the future is now in transition, it’s not quite the time to make the jump in the crease– especially while there’s more pressing matters like replacing Krejci.

Charlie Coyle is, ideally, Boston’s second line center entering this season, but if things go south with Coyle centering Taylor Hall and Craig Smith, then that’s where Nick Foligno or Erik Haula come in handy, if Jack Studnicka can’t make the jump from the Providence Bruins (AHL) to Boston.

Krejci finally could’ve had wingers in Hall and Smith for a full season, but the 35-year-old has always wanted to play in front of his parents and brother in the Czech Republic– especially after leaving for North America in his teens to play hockey for a living.

It’ll also help introduce his kids to his Czech native tongue, so they’ll be able to communicate with their grandparents.

Having spent his entire career with Boston through 962 regular season games since breaking into the league in the 2006-07 season, he’s earned every right to do as he pleases.

He might be back for the 2022-23 season, but absolutely do not hold him to it.

Hall, meanwhile, signed a four-year extension worth $6.000 million per season in the offseason, so Boston at least still only has one hole to fill on the second line if Coyle can’t return to form.

Foligno signed a two-year deal with a $3.800 million cap hit and Haula signed a two-year deal worth $2.375 million per season.

In 957 career NHL games, Foligno’s had 203-283–486 totals for the Ottawa Senators, Columbus Blue Jackets and Toronto Maple Leafs. He had been Columbus’ captain until the deadline when he was dealt to Toronto to add some punch to their lineup, only to blow a 3-1 series lead over the Montréal Canadiens in the 2021 First Round.

Foligno had 7-13–20 totals in 49 games with the Blue Jackets and Maple Leafs in 2020-21.

If nothing else, Foligno adds valuable leadership in the absence of Krejci and should hold things over as someone that gives it their all on a night-to-night basis. Bruins fans should warm up to him quickly if they haven’t already.

Haula, on the other hand, spent last season with the Nashville Predators, where he had 9-12–21 totals in 51 games last season, which was about the same production he had with the Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers in 2019-20.

He hasn’t been able to find his breakout scoring touch that he had with the Vegas Golden Knights in 2017-18, when he had 55 points (29 goals, 26 assists) in 76 games, but he should be fine as a third liner flanked by Jake DeBrusk and Foligno.

Boston needs to get a consistent offense going and they at least seem to have the right level of talent for each line this season.

As long as everyone stays healthy it’s a good thing with an overhauled defense due to the Seattle Kraken taking Jeremy Lauzon in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft, Kevan Miller retiring and the uneasiness of delegating more time to Jakub Zboril after his– at times– lackluster 2020-21 season.

Speaking of the revamped bottom-six, however, Tomas Nosek is new in town on a two-year deal worth $1.750 million per season, joining Trent Frederic– fresh off of an extension this offseason for two years and a $1.050 million cap hit– and Chris Wagner on the fourth line.

He’s been a fun player to watch come into his own with the Golden Knights since Vegas took him from the Detroit Red Wings in their expansion draft in 2017, and just had a career-year with 8-10–18 totals in 38 games last season.

Anything at or above 15 points from a fourth line center is a job well done for less than a $2.000 million cap hit.

Sean Kuraly’s gone home to Columbus, but after dropping from 23 points (six goals, 17 assists) in 69 games in 2019-20, to just nine points (four goals, five assists) in 47 games last season, needing a change of scenery was a welcome excuse for Boston to let him go.

Meanwhile, Ondrej Kase and Nick Ritchie also departed in the offseason for Toronto, though Kase’s future is shrouded by the ever-looming cloud of concussions and Ritchie outperformed expectations last season in the first half of the season before regressing to his ways.

Jaroslav Halak also left for the Vancouver Canucks, though that was inevitable with the long line for Boston’s backup goaltender being cut by Swayman’s emergence.

Even Dan Vladar was traded to the Calgary Flames for a 2022 3rd round pick as a result.

A couple of days prior, on July 26th, Boston acquired the rights to James Greenway from the Maple Leafs for future considerations. He’ll need a little more time in the system, for now.

With Miller retired, Steven Kampfer off to the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) in Russia and Jarred Tinordi gone to the New York Rangers in free agency, Sweeney signed Derek Forbort to a three-year contract worth $3.000 million per season.

Mike Reilly also played well enough after being acquired at the trade deadline to earn a three-year extension with a $3.000 million cap hit as well.

Additionally, Brandon Carlo signed a six-year extension worth $4.100 million per season, so the Bruins have a defensive core with Carlo, Forbort, Matt Grzelcyk and Reilly under contract after 2021-22.

Charlie McAvoy, meanwhile is a pending-restricted free agent by the time July 1, 2022, rolls around (unless he’s signed to an extension before then).

Forbort, meanwhile, joins Boston after spending last season with the Winnipeg Jets where he had 2-10–12 totals in 56 games from the blue line. At 6-foot-4, 219-pounds, he adds much needed size to Boston’s defense.

In the meantime, John Moore, remains under contract and likely on the long term injured reserve to start the season, leaving his $2.750 million cap hit mostly off the books until the Bruins come to some sort of a resolution on that one.

Time will tell if the B’s will sink or swim, but you can’t say they didn’t try to put something together on paper this offseason.

Offseason Grade: B

In Boston, you either like or hate Sweeney. There’s no such thing as love unless you win championship rings these days.

While Sweeney’s made some blunders along the way, his overall approach as the Bruins’ GM has established a foundation of being in the room– being in consideration and among the conversation from year-to-year for attracting talent and making trades.

Sometimes it’s panned out, like the acquisition of Hall. Sometimes it’s fallen short, like when Sweeney paid a hefty price for Rick Nash (though only Ryan Lindgren remains a threat on the Rangers and Nash’s career-ending concussion couldn’t have been accounted for at the time of the trade).

Boston was stuck in the mud when he replaced Peter Chiarelli and Sweeney’s hands were tied in 2015, but he’s always been an active general manager and is tactical in his approach of replacing expendable assets.

At the same time, that very process irks Bruins fans because it comes across as overthinking or not trying hard enough to sign the player instead of a (better fit be damned) player.

Well, that and every guy these days isn’t Tim Thomas or Bobby Orr.

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Los Angeles Kings 2021-22 Season Preview

2020-21 record 21-28-7, 49 points

6th in the Honda NHL West Division

Missed the postseason for the third-straight year

Additions: F Viktor Arvidsson (acquired from NSH), F Brayden Burke (acquired from ARI), F Phillip Danault, F T.J. Tynan, D Alexander Edler, G Garret Sparks

Subtractions: F Michael Eyssimont (signed with WPG), F Bokondji Imama (traded to ARI), F Matt Luff (signed with NSH), F Tyler Steenburgen (acquired from ARI, signed Liiga), D Mark Alt (signed with San Jose Barracuda, AHL), D Daniel Brickley (signed with Chicago Wolves, AHL), D Cole Hults (traded to ARI), D Kurtis MacDermid (expansion, SEA), G Troy Grosenick (signed with BOS)

Still Unsigned: F Drake Rymsha

Re-signed: F Lias Andersson, F Andreas Athanasiou, F Blake Lizotte, F Trevor Moore, D Kale Clague, D Jacob Moverare, D Austin Strand, D Christian Wolanin

Offseason Analysis: The Kings looked competitive and ahead of schedule, but couldn’t carry the momentum down the stretch and make a surprise appearance in the playoff hunt.

Los Angeles has a great pool of prospects and Quinton Byfield is shaping up to make an impact in his first full season, while General Manager, Rob Blake, was tasked with finding the right fit for a few pieces in the offseason that very well might put the Kings over the edge and back into Stanley Cup Playoff contention.

In a few years, they might be trending down the path of a Cup contender instead of going through a long, strenuous, rebuild.

Despite Anze Kopitar’s $10.000 million cap hit (which runs through 2023-24) and Drew Doughty’s $11.500 million cap hit (which expires after the 2026-27 season), Los Angeles was able to add without subtracting and could salvage the remnants of Jonathan Quick and Dustin Brown from the Kings’ glory days to their current days while Cal Petersen continues to emerge in the crease.

The addition of Alexander Edler on a one-year, $3.500 million contract brings some stability to the blue line and valuable experience to leave an impression on the younger defenders, like Michael Anderson and Tobias Björnfot.

Edler’s presence and shot blocking capabilities should also prove vital in shaping how guys like Olli Määttä, Matt Roy, Sean Walker and Christian Wolanin– already in their defensive primes– compete with each other for their jobs and evolve.

But Edler alone wasn’t the biggest move that Blake made in the offseason.

Sure, there’s the Viktor Arvidsson trade that brings the 28-year-old winger to Los Angeles after breaking into the league with the Nashville Predators in the 2014-15 season and scoring 10-15–25 totals in 50 games in 2020-21 with the Preds, but Blake went a step further and found the answer to a hole down the middle.

The Kings signed Phillip Danault to a six-year contract worth $5.500 million per season, bringing the 28-year-old Victoriaville, Québec native to Los Angeles’ second line for a good stretch of his prime.

Though his production was down from 47 points (13 goals, 34 assists) in 71 games with the Montréal Canadiens in 2019-20 to 5-19–24 totals in 53 games with the Habs in 2020-21, Danault has reached 40 or more points in three out of his last five seasons with varying degrees of talent around him.

Now in Los Angeles, Danault could suit up between guys like Alex Iafallo, Arvidsson, Adrian Kempe or Brown– bringing a balance of youth, speed, experience and playmaking abilities to go with the scoring prowess of any of the aforementioned wingers.

Arvidsson and Danault bring more of a two-way, contemporary, game that aligns well with Kopitar’s two-time Frank J. Selke Trophy winning style

Brown recorded 17 goals in 49 games last season, while Iafallo had 13 goals in 55 games and Kempe notched 14 goals in 56 games. There’s no reason to believe that all three players can’t reach the 20-goal plateau in a full 82-game schedule.

But for all the improvements made among their skaters, the Kings might continue to encounter some growing pains in net as Petersen continues to make his mark on the league as a starting goaltender, while Quick’s dominant days wane in the twilight of his career.

Petersen went 9-18-5 in 35 games last season and had a 2.89 goals-against average, as well as a .911 save percentage in that span.

Through 54 games at the NHL level, Petersen has a career 2.79 goals-against average and a career .916 save percentage and only one shutout.

For comparison’s sake, Quick has a 2.81 goals-against average in his last two seasons combined (64 appearances), but a .902 save percentage in that span.

Quick was Los Angeles’ starter in 2019-20 and had a 16-22-4 record in 42 games played with a 2.79 goals-against average and a .904 save percentage in that span, as well as one shutout.

Last season, Quick went 11-9-2 in 22 games and recorded two shutouts to go along with his 2.86 goals-against average and an .898 save percentage.

For all the promise that Petersen showed in his collegiate days at Notre Dame, he’s yet to make the transition to the professional game and as the years go by, so does his chance at emerging in the average goaltending prime.

If Los Angeles is to make the playoffs next season, Petersen will need to improve.

If the Kings falter, Petersen still has a chance at redeeming himself, though he won’t see much of a pay raise next offseason– but he could still be a late bloomer and sign a short-term bridge extension, awaiting a larger payday after sustained success and better numbers at the NHL level.

This is where it’s important to note that Petersen is a pending-unrestricted free agent come July 1, 2022, while Quick’s contract expires after the 2022-23 season.

If winning with the remnants of their 2012 and 2014 Stanley Cup championship core is important to the Kings, then winning again sooner rather than later is paramount.

Offseason Grade: A-

The Danault signing alone is an exceptionally good contract for a player that could really come into his own with the depth and talent of the Kings around him.

Blake’s given Todd McLellan some better pieces to work with– now it’s up to Los Angeles’ head coach to find the right chemistry among his players to get them back into the hunt.

The return of the usual division alignments for 2021-22 is a welcome sign for the Kings’ chances of making the playoffs in 2022, as they should be better than their counterparts in California, as well as the rebuilding Arizona Coyotes and stagnant teams north of the border in Vancouver and Calgary.

Now as for how far things will go? Well, that depends on if they make the playoffs first and whether or not Los Angeles lucks out having to face a relatively inexperienced team in the postseason.

Categories
Daily Matchup

Game of the week: October 29-November 4

As the calendar flips from October to November, the NHL’s powers are beginning to flex their muscles while the league’s less-talented members are already counting the days until April 6.

Some of that can be seen in the games already played this week (take a look at what a good Devils team suffered in its trip to Tampa), while there’s more than a few games coming up in the remaining four days that will help us better predict some teams’ playoff potentials.

NHL SCHEDULE: OCTOBER 29-November 4
TIME (ALL TIMES EASTERN) VISITOR HOST NATIONAL BROADCAST(S)/
Result
Monday, October 29
7 p.m. Calgary Toronto 3-1
10 p.m. Minnesota Vancouver 2-5
Tuesday, October 30
7 p.m. Calgary Buffalo 2-1 (OT)
7 p.m. New York Islanders Pittsburgh Penguins 6-3
7 p.m. Boston Carolina 3-2
7 p.m. Detroit Columbus 5-3
7:30 p.m. Dallas Montréal 4-1
7:30 p.m. New Jersey Tampa Bay 3-8
8 p.m. Vegas Nashville 1-4
9 p.m. Minnesota Edmonton 4-3
10 p.m. Ottawa Arizona 1-5
10 p.m. Philadelphia Anaheim 3-2
10:30 p.m. New York Rangers San Jose Sharks 4-3 (SO)
Wednesday, October 31
10 p.m. Chicago Vancouver 2-4
Thursday, November 1
2 p.m. Winnipeg Florida NBCSN
7 p.m. Dallas Toronto
7 p.m. Pittsburgh Penguins New York Islanders SN360
7:30 p.m. Washington Montréal RDS, TSN2
7:30 p.m. Buffalo Ottawa RDS2
7:30 p.m. New Jersey Detroit
7:30 p.m. Nashville Tampa Bay
8 p.m. Vegas St. Louis
9 p.m. Colorado Calgary SN1
9 p.m. Chicago Edmonton
10 p.m. New York Rangers Anaheim Ducks
10:30 p.m. Philadelphia Los Angeles
10:30 p.m. Columbus San Jose
Friday, November 2
2 p.m. Florida Winnipeg NHLN
10 p.m. Colorado Vancouver NHLN
10 p.m. Carolina Arizona
saturday, November 3
2 p.m. Ottawa Buffalo RDS
7 p.m. Tampa Bay Montréal CITY, SN360, TVAS
7 p.m. Edmonton Detroit SN
7 p.m. New Jersey Devils New York Islanders
7 p.m. Toronto Pittsburgh CBC, NHLN, SN1
7 p.m. Dallas Washington
8 p.m. Minnesota St. Louis
8 p.m. Boston Nashville
10 p.m. Carolina Vegas
10 p.m. Chicago Blackhawks Calgary Flames CBC, CITY, SN, SN1, SN360
10:30 p.m. Columbus Los Angeles
10:30 p.m. Philadelphia San Jose
SunDay, November 4
7 p.m. Tampa Bay Ottawa NHLN, SN, TVAS
7 p.m. Buffalo Sabres New York Rangers
9 p.m. Columbus Anaheim

As usual, there’s more than a few tilts that caught my attention on this week’s slate. I’m always a big fan of rivalries (New York at Pittsburgh, Chicago at Vancouver, Pittsburgh at New York, Buffalo at Ottawa and Ottawa at Buffalo) and players returning to their former home arenas (W Tom Kuhnhackl and F Joakim Nordstrom made their first trips back to Pittsburgh and Carolina, respectively, on Tuesday, while D Roman Polak is heading back to Toronto tonight), but we also get the added benefits of this year’s NHL Global Series between Florida and Winnipeg in Finland as well as an Eastern Conference Quarterfinal rematch between New Jersey and Tampa Bay.

However, with all of that being said, there’s another huge matchup happening this Thursday that rivals last week’s Toronto-Winnipeg showdown.

The reigning regular season conference champions are going at it tonight, so grab your popcorn and settle in to enjoy a great game!

Wait, what? This showdown isn’t on national T.V. in either Canada or the States, but a game between two one-win NFL teams is?

This is lunacy.

I’m not saying to stream this tilt by any means necessary, but I’m not saying not to stream this tilt by any means necessary.

Regardless of the legality of your decision, it’s a choice you certainly won’t regret as both the Preds and Bolts are off to hot starts this season, surely inspired at least somewhat by dreams left unfulfilled during the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Both were their respective conferences’ No. 1 seeds this spring, but they both got knocked off on home ice in a winner-take-all Game 7 (the Predators fell to Winnipeg in the Second Round, while Tampa lost to Washington in the Eastern Conference Final).

At least Smashville got the Presidents’ Trophy, right? Not to mention its prestigious “Regular Season Western Conference Champions” banner.

Sorry, that’s the last time I’ll point out the Predators’ unprecedented award that should probably be penalized for excessive celebration.

Hopefully.

Just as they did last season, the 9-3-0 Predators currently sit atop the Central Division, the Western Conference and the NHL with the best record of all 31 teams.

The major reason for the Preds’ success is undoubtedly their goaltending tandem of 3-1-0 Pekka Rinne and 6-2-0 Juuse Saros. Even though they do have the luxury of playing behind the league’s 11th-best defense in terms of shots against per game (W Viktor Arvidsson‘s 12 takeaways, D Ryan Ellis‘ two blocks per game and F Zac Rinaldo‘s 2.3 hits per game have been major factors in Nashville’s 29.92 shots against per game), both have been integral in keeping the Predators’ goals allowed per game at 2.42 – the (t)third-best mark in the league. Both boast save percentages better than .915 and GAAs at or below 2.5, not to mention a shutout apiece.

After being activated from Injured Reserve yesterday (G Troy Grosenick made room on the roster by heading back to Milwaukee), it seems likely that Rinne will be the starter this evening. In his first five starts this season before going down with an undisclosed ailment, the Finn posted a .929 save percentage and 2.1 GAA – both of which are top-six among the 36 netminders with at least five starts to their credit.

Regardless of who’s in net, don’t focus too much on that or you’ll miss Nashville’s outstanding offense that ranks second-best in the conference and (t)sixth-best in the league by averaging 3.5 goals per game. In particular, no Predator has been as dominant as F Filip Forsberg, who’s 10-4-14 totals leave no doubt as to who’s the best scorer in Tennessee.

Forsberg’s 10 goals are (t)third-most in the NHL, trailing league-leaders F Patrick Kane (CHI) and RW David Pastrnak (BOS) by only one marker. After scoring a hat trick against Edmonton on Saturday (he scored all of Nashville’s goals in a 5-3 loss), the Swede was totally kept off the scoreboard Tuesday against Vegas, so he’ll be extra motivated to notch another tally tonight.

The team the Predators are leading for the Presidents’ Trophy are none other than the 8-2-1 Lightning, last season’s preseason darlings that have been ignored – rather unwisely, I might add – by the media in favor of division-rival Toronto so far this year.

The Leafs might be getting all the attention, but it’s business as usual in central Florida as the Bolts are leading the Eastern Conference just like last campaign. Tampa still boasts a dominant offense, not to mention a stellar goaltender and overpowering special teams.

Led from the second line by F Brayden Point and his 7-7-14 totals – not to mention RW Nikita Kucherov and F Yanni Gourde‘s respective 5-7-12 and 4-8-12 efforts – Tampa’s attack is among the most feared in the league, scoring 3.64 goals per game to rank third-best.

Only two days ago against New Jersey in an 8-3 victory, Point notched an outstanding five-point game, but if recent performances are any indication, he likely won’t find the scorecard tonight: his last five games saw him score 5, 0, 1, 0 and 3 points respectively.

Defensively, there’s not much to talk about with the Lightning since D Victor Hedman is still on Injured Reserve. The Bolts’ blue line has suffered during his absence, allowing a 12th-worst 32.36 shots against per game for the season.

However, who needs a defense when you have 6-1-1 G Andrei Vasilevskiy playing for your team? Vasilevskiy has already been confirmed to be starting this game and will look to improve upon his .935 save percentage and 1.98 GAA that both already rank top-five among the 36 goalies with at least five starts to their names.

If this game boils down to special teams, there’s no way the Lightning aren’t coming away with two points. Tampa Bay leads Nashville in both statistics, including owning the league’s top-rated penalty kill (93.2 percent) that will be more than enough to counteract anything the Preds’ fourth-worst power play (13.3 percent) can muster.

Similarly, Tampa Bay’s power play will be a Halloween hangover to the Predators tonight, as a 29.3 success rate is good enough to rank sixth-best in the NHL – especially when it gets to go to work against the 10th-worst penalty kill (75 percent).

If Nashville’s penalty kill is going to have any success, it should probably try to keep F J.T. Miller under wraps as much as possible. Of his 3-7-10 totals on the year, 3-2-5 have occurred with the man-advantage. If those numbers don’t communicate just how potent he’s been, Miller’s .571 power play face-off winning percentage and .429 power play shooting percentage should do the trick.

An interesting note surrounding this game is its location. While it would be assumed that the Lightning would have the advantage considering they are at home, their 5-1-0 record at Amalie Arena is challenged by the Predators’ outstanding 5-0-0 road mark. With that in mind, there is no doubt Smashville is going to throw everything it has at tonight’s host.

There’s no doubt that this is going to be a showdown of the ages, just as should be expected from the top two teams in the league. But which one wins?

That’s the tough question.

I’m going to go out on a limb and take the Predators tonight. I think their offense is more than good enough to take advantage of the Lightning’s weakened defense corps. That being said, Vasilevskiy is going to be a difficult wall to break (as should Rinne be for the Bolts), so I’m predicting only a 2-1 victory for the visitors.

Categories
Deadline Deals NHL

TRADE: Sharks send Bollig and Grosenick to Nashville

Sunday witnessed a flurry of trade activity before Monday’s NHL trade deadline– even if some of the moves were minor, all things considered.

The San Jose Sharks traded F Brandon Bollig and G Troy Grosenick to the Nashville Predators in exchange for a 6th round pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.

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San Jose now has six picks in the 2018 Draft (one in the 1st round, one in the 4th round, one in the 5th round, two in the 6th round and one in the 7th round).

Bollig, 31, has eight goals and two assists (ten points) in 45 games with San Jose’s AHL affiliate– the San Jose Barracuda– this season. He was a member of the 2013 Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks and has 10-13–23 totals in 241 career NHL games from 2011-16.

UnknownA native of St. Charles, Missouri, the 6’2″, 220-pound winger was signed in free agency by the Blackhawks after finishing his second year at St. Lawrence University in 2010.

He was previously traded to the Calgary Flames at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft before signing a one-year contract with the Sharks on July 4, 2017.

Grosenick, 28, is 6-9-4 with a 2.98 goals-against average and .902 save percentage in 20 games with the Barracuda this season. He played in two career NHL games with the Sharks in 2014-15, notching his first career NHL win– a shutout on November 16, 2014 at Carolina– and amassing a 1.53 GAA and .948 SV% in 119 minutes played.

The 6’1″, 185-pound goaltender began his professional career with the Worcester Sharks in the 2013-14 season (prior to their relocation to San Jose and rebrand as the Barracuda). In 168 AHL appearance, the Brookfield, Wisconsin native has an 85-56-16 record with a career 2.59 GAA and 13 shutouts.

Following his third year at Union College, Grosenick signed a one-year entry level contract with the Sharks on April 8, 2013.

 As a result of the trade, Nashville now has picks in every round of this year’s draft except for the second and sixth rounds.
Categories
Deadline Deals NHL Nick's Net

2018 Trade Deadline Preview: Pacific Division

vegas_golden_knights_logo

1. Vegas Golden Knights– 33-12-4 (70 points, 49 GP)

There isn’t really that much the Vegas Golden Knights need to do to improve down the stretch. Should they trade James Neal or Marc-Andre Fleury as some fans and media members alike wondered since the expansion draft last June? No. They shouldn’t.

These are the Golden Knights. They’re trying to win the Stanley Cup in their first season of existence. And they just might.

They’ve dismantled some of the league’s best teams on a night-to-night basis, while amassing a plus-38 goal differential through 49 games played– and oh yeah, they’re smashing inaugural season records by an expansion franchise. All of that has put them in position for making a stake as a leading horse in the Presidents’ Trophy race.

That said, if Vegas general manager, George McPhee, is presented with an offer he can’t refuse that would make his team better, by all means, he should pursue it. Addition without subtraction or whatever– they have roughly $8.100 million in salary cap space, they can afford it.

Potential assets to trade: F Cody Eakin, F David Perron

Potential assets to acquire: F Patrick Maroon (EDM), F Alex Galchenyuk (MTL), D Nick Holden (NYR), D Ryan McDonagh (NYR), F Mike Hoffman (OTT), D Ian Cole (PIT)

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2. San Jose Sharks– 26-16-8 (60 points, 50 GP)

The San Jose Sharks sit in an uncomfortable position. Yes, they’re currently 2nd in the Pacific Division, but it’s a four-horse race for anywhere between two and four playoff spots in the Pacific Division.

No that’s not counting out the Edmonton Oilers (spoiler alert– they’ll be sellers), but let’s assume the Golden Knights lay claim to the regular season division title. Then it becomes a Battle of California and Calgary for two divisional spots and either one, two or no wild card positions in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Taking a look at the Central Division… yeah, odds aren’t great that they’ll be five teams from either the Pacific or Central clinching a playoff berth, considering the Dallas Stars (60 points), Sharks (60 points), Minnesota Wild (59 points), Kings (59 points), Ducks (59 points), Colorado Avalanche (58 points) and Flames (58 points) are all separated by a measly two-points.

There’s no room for error.

With only about $5.200 million in cap space currently and pending RFA forwards Tomas Hertl, 24, and Chris Tierney, 23, to re-sign along with pending RFA defenseman, Dylan DeMelo, 24, San Jose would be smart to lock up the future of their core while accepting that they’ll likely lose some guys via trade or free agency this offseason.

Joe Thornton, 38, is currently on IR and making $8.000 million on his soon to expire contract. Joel Ward, 37, has a $3.275 million cap hit on his deal that expires on July 1st.

Could this be a last hurrah?

Again, it all depends on how the Sharks approach everything moving forward– oh, by the way, backup goaltender, Aaron Dell, is a pending-UFA at season’s end too, but Troy Grosenick looks ready enough to settle into the backup role once Dell is either traded or probably makes a lot of money for the chance to be a starting goaltender elsewhere this July.

Potential assets to trade: F Mikkel Boedker, D Justin Braun, D Brenden Dillon, G Aaron Dell, D Paul Martin, F Joel Ward

Potential assets to acquire: Cap Relief, F David Desharnais (NYR), F Michael Grabner (NYR), D Ian Cole (PIT), F Klim Kostin (STL), F Jordan Kyrou (STL), F Thomas Vanek (VAN), F Nic Petan (WPG)

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3. Los Angeles Kings– 27-18-5 (59 points, 50 GP)

The Los Angeles Kings are set. They don’t really need to add as long as elite-starting goaltender, Jonathan Quick, is healthy. General manager, Rob Blake, should take a page out of Vegas’s book and sit on his hands come February 26th, that way he won’t be tempted to make any phone calls he might regret later.

It’s not like the Kings should really consider dumping what’s left of 35-year-old forward, Marian Gaborik, but they very well could– just to get $4.875 million in salary cap off of their hands. Gaborik’s 7-7–14 totals in 27 games played are pretty telling (albeit due to injury and being scratched other nights).

F Nick Shore, D Kevin Gravel and G Darcy Kuemper stand out as the only “big” names Los Angeles will have to re-sign this offseason with veteran forward, Torrey Mitchell, either working out as a long-term, year-to-year, rental or a short-term, Cup focused, investment.

Similar to San Jose, however, the Kings don’t have a lot of cap space as things stand. Los Angeles has about $3.600 million in wiggle room and really doesn’t have any holes that need to be filled.

Los Angeles should sit this trade deadline out and instead work on a plan for the 2018 NHL Entry Draft in June where they’ll have to make some moves (unless the cap rises, which it’s expected to). Then again, Drew Doughty ($7.000 million cap hit) will need a new contract in 2019…

Potential assets to trade: F Marian Gaborik

Potential assets to acquire: draft picks, maybe a prospect or two

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4. Anaheim Ducks– 25-17-9 (59 points, 51 GP)

Every now and then there are teams that seemingly destroy their opponents in more ways than one while quietly existing and carrying their own weight. Injuries amounted early, but these days the Anaheim Ducks are the ones handing out the bruises– and winning… significantly.

The Ducks are 6-3-1 in their last 10 games, which won’t mean anything by February 26th (unless they go on a significant winning/losing streak).

Anaheim might creep up in the standings, but what will set them apart from the rest of the Western Conference?

This is where the Ducks can shine at the trade deadline if they just add one more piece to the puzzle. It doesn’t have to be a permanent piece, but one that’ll hold them over in the event of injuries.

Let’s face it, regardless of the physical brand of hockey Anaheim plays, there will be an injury or two down the stretch that could impact their chances of postseason success.

The Sami Vatanen-for-Adam Henrique trade with the New Jersey Devils has paid off in much needed scoring throughout their lineup, but the Ducks could get more if they wanted to.

A return of Patrick Maroon to The Pond or a rental like Thomas Vanek or Michael Grabner just might put Anaheim on the fast track to the 2018 Stanley Cup Final. Filling out their bottom-six depth and scoring prowess, while continuing to center their game around size and skill is exactly what they could add at the end of the month.

With only about $3.100 million in cap space available, the right move might be hard to make.

Potential assets to trade: G Reto Berra, D Steve Oleksy, draft picks, prospects

Potential assets to acquire: D Cody Franson (CHI), D Mike Green (DET), F Patrick Maroon (EDM), F David Desharnais (NYR), F Michael Grabner (NYR), D Nick Holden (NYR), D Erik Gudbranson (VAN), F Thomas Vanek (VAN)

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5. Calgary Flames– 25-17-8 (58 points, 50 GP)

When the Calgary Flames are hot, they’re red hot. When the Flames are cold they’re cooler than being cool (shouts OutKast).

Of all the teams in the Pacific Division, Calgary is the most Jekyll and Hyde of the two Alberta teams. Goaltender, Mike Smith, has saved the season (literally) multiple times on nights where Johnny Gaudreau and the Flames’s offense hasn’t gotten going.

Conversely, Gaudreau has propelled his team on nights when Smith has struggled. Some nights the Flames are on their “A” game. Some nights their porous defense shows. A lot.

Calgary is too young to give up on. Guys like Troy Brouwer, Matt Stajan and Kris Versteeg provide a veteran presence both on the ice and in the locker room, but are harder to move given their modified no-trade clauses. Not that anyone’s in a rush to move them. Just being mindful of July 1st and the plethora of youth that could steal some roster spots next year, provided the Flames don’t do anything crazy in free agency.

The Flames have to get better if they want to play longer. Whether or not they decide to take action now or let things develop on their own, well, hasn’t it been long enough?

If they want to make a deep playoff run they have to manage their cap situation a lot better (and fix their defense with, say, six new defensemen?). With a little more than $2.200 million to play with in cap space come deadline day, Calgary isn’t doing this whole “let’s be buyers on February 26th” thing right.

Potential assets to trade: F Mikael Backlund, D Matt Bartkowski, F Michael Frolik, D Travis Hamonic, D Michael Stone

Potential assets to acquire: F Sam Reinhart (BUF), D Nick Holden (NYR), D Ian Cole (PIT)

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6. Edmonton Oilers– 22-24-3 (47 points, 49 GP)

If you had Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, where would you expect to be in the standings?

It’s a trick question, because no matter how many Art Ross Trophies those two players combined win in their careers, you still need to fill out the rest of the roster so you can be salary cap compliant and thus able to compete in the first place.

Fortunately for the Edmonton Oilers, Peter Chiarelli is at the reins.

Check that. It’s pretty dire.

The Oilers aren’t the worst team anymore, so at least they have that going for them, but once again we’re approaching yet another trade deadline where Edmonton has a lot of cargo to jettison into the void that is the rest of the league.

While McDavid and Draisaitl will eat up $21 million in salary starting next season, the Oilers have plenty of pending free agents to sort out– which also means they have a lot of rentals to sell at the deadline.

With the right moves, Chiarelli can redeem himself in Edmonton. All it requires is a swift retool. Too bad there’s a couple of no movement clauses on the blue line, because they’re eating $9.500 million in salary that the team will probably need to re-sign Rasmus Dahlin in a few years after they win the draft lottery.

Potential assets to trade: F Mike Cammalleri, D Brandon Davidson, F Mark Letestu, F Patrick Maroon

Potential assets to acquire: F Zemgus Girgensons (BUF), F Sam Reinhart (BUF), F Luke Glendening (DET), F Alex Galchenyuk (MTL), F Andrew Shaw (MTL), D Nick Holden (NYR), F Derick Brassard (OTT), F Jean-Gabriel Pageau (OTT), F Klim Kostin (STL), F Jordan Kyrou (STL)

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7. Vancouver Canucks– 20-24-6 (46 points, 50 GP)

Similar to the Edmonton Oilers, the Vancouver Canucks had high hopes for this season. Okay, not that high, but still.

Things haven’t exactly gone as planned, thanks in part to Bo Horvat‘s injury, yet the Canucks have one of this season’s most pleasant surprises in the league– the emergence of Brock Boeser.

Vancouver has about $1.000 million in cap space currently. For a team that’s massively under-performing with a minus-31 goal differential through 50 games played, that’s horrendous.

Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin are both pending-UFAs earning $7.000 million through the end of this season. Their playing days are safe in a Canucks uniform, given their no movement clauses and the fact that the traditional “honorary” $1.000 million (with a bunch of bonuses tied to performance) year-to-year contract extensions forthcoming– if they choose to play another year in the NHL.

There’s a lot of youth in Vancouver, so that’s promising.

Guys like Thomas Vanek and Erik Gudbranson have been the subject of those expected to be on the move from the Canucks organization and surely at least one of them will be out the door come February 26th.

As much as Sam Gagner has turned around his game, he may fall victim to the tight cap situation with pending RFAs Jake Virtanen, Markus Granlund and Sven Baertschi on the cusp of seeing pay raises. Then again, maybe Gagner’s future with the Canucks will be saved by whatever the Sedin’s decide to do (take less money).

Short of some adjustments on the blue line and letting their young forwards gain experience, Vancouver really doesn’t need that much. Full health and finding the right starting goaltender should be the main focus going into the deadline and beyond.

Potential assets to trade: D Alex Biega, F Sam Gagner, D Erik Gudbranson, G Jacob Markstrom, G Anders Nilsson, F Thomas Vanek

Potential assets to acquire: F Zemgus Girgensons (BUF), G Robin Lehner (BUF), F Sam Reinhart (BUF), G Petr Mrazek (DET), F Jean-Gabriel Pageau (OTT), G Aaron Dell (SJ), F Klim Kostin (STL), F Jordan Kyrou (STL)

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8. Arizona Coyotes– 12-29-9 (33 points, 50 GP)

Just exactly how long will we go before recognizing that the Arizona Coyotes are in a state of denial?

The perpetual rebuild has hit its lowest point so far and general manager, John Chayka, has nothing to show for some of his seemingly brilliant acquisitions in the offseason (namely, Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta from the New York Rangers, as well as Niklas Hjalmarsson from the Chicago Blackhawks).

Look, neither of the trades the Coyotes made around the 2017 NHL Entry Draft were going to make them contenders for the Cup, but they should’ve at least made them move out of the basement and onto the first floor of the league.

Arizona will be selling once again and unless your last name is Hjalmarsson, Raanta or Stepan and you’re over the age of 24, there’s a good chance you could be packing a bag out of the desert (unless you get traded to Vegas, in which case, you’ll still be in the desert– only cooler because of all of the attractions around T-Mobile Arena, oh and the whole “Cup in one” mentality currently for the Golden Knights).

Potential assets to trade: F Brad Richardson, F Tobias Rieder, F Jordan Martinook, F Nick Cousins, D Oliver Ekman-Larsson, D Kevin Connauton

Potential assets to acquire: Draft picks, F Zemgus Girgensons (BUF), F Sam Reinhart (BUF), D Tyson Barrie (COL), G Petr Mrazek (DET), F Alex Galchenyuk (MTL), F Max Pacioretty (MTL), D Nick Holden (NYR), D Ryan McDonagh (NYR), F Mike Hoffman (OTT), F Jean-Gabriel Pageau (OTT), G Aaron Dell (SJ), F Klim Kostin (STL), F Jordan Kyrou (STL), F David Perron (VGK)

Categories
Daily Matchup

January 21 – Day 106 – I-5 has never been rougher

Now that all the byes are done, we have one last week of action before the All-Star Break starts on Friday. Let’s mash as much hockey into these five days as possible!

We have a nice sampling of five games on tap today. The first, Philadelphia at Washington (NBC/TVAS), drops the puck at 12:30 p.m. Vegas at Carolina is next up at 6 p.m., followed two hours later by Vancouver at Winnipeg (SN). 9 p.m. marks the start of San Jose at Anaheim, while the New York Rangers at Los Angeles (SN1) – tonight’s nightcap – waits until 10:30 p.m. to close out the evening. All times Eastern.

There’s nothing more fun than rivalry games, and we have two on today’s schedule: Philly at Washington and San Jose at Anaheim. Of those, I have higher expectations for the contest in California, so it’s off to The Pond with us!

 

The 25-14-6 Sharks enter this rivalry game having won four of their last five contests and – as a result – in second place in the Pacific Division.

Even though San Jose hasn’t exactly been the shining example of offensive efficiency by averaging an 11th-worst 2.78 goals-per-game for the entire season, scoring has been the trendy thing of late inside the Sharks’ dressing room. Since January 13, the Sharks have averaged 3.4 goals per game, the eighth-best mark in the NHL in that time.

This has been far from a banner year for D Brent Burns, but he’s been a big reason for the San Jose goal-explosion. He’s managed only .82 points per game this season (a decline from his last two campaigns), but this five-game stretch has seen him post a team-leading seven assists.

However, not all passes are created equal: someone has to score for Burns’ passes for them to become assists. Lately, that man has been Joe Thornton, who’s been just as good as Burns during this run. Jumbo Joe has posted solid 4-2-6 totals since January 13 to improve his season effort to 12-21-33 marks, the second-highest point total on the squad.

Of note, 11-3-2 G Aaron Dell started yesterday’s 2-1 home victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins. However, with 14-11-4 G Martin Jones being listed day-to-day, Dell will complete the back-to-back with another start today. Dell’s 2.18 GAA and .928 save percentage are fourth and (t)fifth-best in the league, so there is very little drop-off between him and Jones.

G Troy Grosenick, who has a 5-7-2 record with the Barracuda in the AHL, will serve as the Sharks’ backup.

While San Jose was busy knocking off the Pens, the 22-16-9 Ducks, who currently sit in 11th place in the Western Conference and two points behind the second wild card, had the luxury of being dormant during yesterday’s action-packed Saturday schedule.

The story surrounding the Ducks since their bye week has been the return of their star forwards – and duly so. However, since January 13, the Ducks have posted a 3-1-0 record on the back of their defense that has allowed a 10th-best 2.25 goals against-per-game in that time.

Whether it’s the leadership of D Josh Manson‘s 2.3 blocks per game or LW Nick Ritchie‘s four hits per game since January 13, the defensive zone has been a stronghold lately for the Ducks. Anaheim has allowed an average of only 27.75 shots against per game over its last four contests (the sixth-best mark in the NHL in that time), making life very easy for 16-13-5 G John Gibson.

Of course, what else should we expect from Manson? After all, his +20 rating on the season is the eighth-best in the entire NHL.

Anyways, speaking of Gibson, he’s riding a three-game winning streak thanks to the impressive work of his defensive corps. In his last three starts, he’s managed a .927 save percentage and 2.01 GAA, pulling his season numbers up to .923 and 2.59.

The Ducks and Sharks were scheduled for a four-game regular season series this year, but there was an odd quirk with how the games were arranged: the first two contests took place in San Jose, while the remaining two (tonight and February 11) will be played at Honda Center. Both games in The Tank required a shootout to determine a victor, with the Sharks claiming the first meeting 2-1 on November 4 and the Ducks taking the second 3-2 only 16 days later.

In what has the potential to be a very nasty, physical matchup, the better defense should end up with two points to their credit following the final horn. Considering how the Ducks have been performing lately and the fact that they are playing at home after a day off, I’m leaning towards Anaheim being that winning team tonight.


With a 2-1 shootout victory in yesterday’s DtFR Game of the Day at the Scotiabank Saddledome, the Winnipeg Jets snapped the Calgary Flames’ seven-game winning streak.

D T.J. Brodie (RW Troy Brouwer) seems to have a knack for scoring against the Jets, because he provided the Flames’ lone regulation goal. He registered his fifth point against the Jets of the season by burying a wrist shot 8:17 into the game for the Flames’ lone goal of regulation.

Winnipeg found its leveling goal with 9:13 remaining in the second period. F Mathieu Perreault (F Bryan Little and First Star of the Game W Nikolaj Ehlers) sneaked a tip-in past Second Star G Mike Smith, tying the game at 1-1.

In the remaining 29:13 of regulation, neither the Flames nor the Jets could find another goal. Both defenses performed solidly, as neither allowed more than nine shots on goal in the third period. Similarly, only a combined five shots on goal were registered in the five minutes of three-on-three overtime. With none tickling the twine, the contest advanced into the shootout.

As the home team, the Flames elected to shoot second…

  1. That sent Little to center ice first, and he did not disappoint. He beat Smith to give Winnipeg an early 1-0 lead in the shootout.
  2. C Mark Jankowski was called on to level the shootout for the Flames, but he sent his shot wide of Third Star G Connor Hellebuyck‘s net.
  3. Still with a 1-0 advantage, RW Patrik Laine tried to force a miss-and-lose situation for the Flames. However, his backhanded shot was saved by Smith.
  4. C Sean Monahan performed better than Jankowski, but only because his wrister was saved by Hellebuyck.
  5. A goal is all the Jets needed to end the game, and F Blake Wheeler did just that to earn Winnipeg the bonus point.

Hellebuyck earned the victory after saving 30-of-31 shots faced (.968 save percentage), leaving the shootout loss to Smith, who saved 34-of-35 (.971).

In addition to snapping Calgary’s seven-game winning streak, the Jets’ road victory also snapped a four-game winning streak by home teams in the DtFR Game of the Day. The 59-34-13 hosts now have 23-point advantage over the visitors.