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NHL Nick's Net

Secondary scoring catapults Bruins to, 5-1, victory in Detroit

The Boston Bruins scored five unanswered goals after giving up the game’s first goal to beat the Detroit Red Wings, 5-1, at Little Caesars Arena on Sunday.

Usual suspects, Patrice Bergeron and Charlie McAvoy, each had a goal, while Erik Haula, Trent Frederic and Tomáš Nosek chipped in tallies of their own– ending scoring droughts of varying lengths.

Jeremy Swayman (8-5-2, 2.20 goals-against average, .920 save percentage in 15 games played) made 23 saves on 24 shots against en route to the win for Boston.

Detroit netminder, Alex Nedeljkovic (9-8-3, 2.89 goals-against average, .913 save percentage in 22 games played), stopped 32 out of 37 shots faced in the loss.

The B’s improved to 16-10-2 (34 points) on the season and jumped ahead of the Red Wings for 4th place in the Atlantic Division standings.

For the second time this season, Boston is in a playoff position– holding onto the second wild card in the Eastern Conference as of this writing.

Detroit, meanwhile, fell to 15-15-3 (33 points) and dropped to 5th place in the Atlantic as a result.

Boston is 2-1-0 against the Red Wings this season with one final matchup remaining in their regular season series scheduled for April 5th in Detroit.

The Bruins were without the services of Jakub Zboril (right ACL), Karson Kuhlman (COVID protocol) and Curtis Lazar (undisclosed) on Sunday, while head coach Bruce Cassidy made one change to his lineup as a result.

Oskar Steen went in place of Lazar on the fourth line, having been recalled from the Providence Bruins (AHL) to the taxi squad after Saturday afternoon’s, 4-3, overtime win against the Buffalo Sabres and subsequently recalled from the taxi squad on Sunday prior to the warmup in Detroit.

Cassidy made no other changes to his lineup with Swayman getting the start over Linus Ullmark after Ullmark got the win in Saturday’s matinée.

John Moore (taxi squad) and Anton Blidh were the only healthy scratches for Boston on Sunday.

Robby Fabbri interfered with Brandon Carlo away from the puck and presented the Bruins with the afternoon’s first power play at 1:13 of the first period but the B’s couldn’t muster anything on the ensuing skater advantage.

A few minutes after Fabbri cut a rut to the box, Nosek skated off to the visiting penalty box for catching Tyler Bertuzzi with a high stick at 4:20 (whether Nosek actually made contact with his face or not– Bertuzzi might have clipped himself, though Nosek may have initiated it with a stick lift).

The Red Wings didn’t score on their first power play of the afternoon, regardless.

Midway through the opening frame, Danny DeKeyser sent a shot on goal that rebounded off of Swayman towards the sideboards before Bertuzzi (13) intercepted the loose puck and buried it in the twine to give Detroit a, 1-0, lead.

DeKeyser (3) and Dylan Larkin (15) tallied the assists on Bertuzzi’s goal– his fourth in four games– at 11:28 of the first period.

A few minutes after Bertuzzi scored, Boston answered.

Brad Marchand battled along the boards as Craig Smith came away with the puck before setting up Bergeron (11) for the one-timer goal while crashing the slot.

Smith (6) and Marchand (19) had the assists as the Bruins tied the game, 1-1, at 14:47 of the first period.

Late in the period, Nick Foligno shoved Filip Hronek in front of the net and delivered a swift cross check as the two escalated their battle.

Foligno, as a result, received a minor infraction for cross checking at 19:32 and the ensuing power play spilled over into the middle frame.

Detroit, however, didn’t capitalize on the skater advantage that was stretched over two periods with the first intermission in-between.

After 20 minutes, the game was tied, 1-1, despite Boston leading in shots on goal, 15-6.

The Bruins also led in blocked shots (6-4) and giveaways (2-1), while the Red Wings led in hits (9-6) and faceoff win percentage (53-47).

Both teams had one takeaway each and were powerless on their respective power plays as Detroit was 0/2 and Boston was 0/1.

Marchand got tangled up with Vladislav Namestnikov early in the middle frame as the two exchanged blows, slashes and ultimately fists, yielding majors for fighting and minors for slashing at 2:59 of the second period.

It was the sixth fighting major of the season for Boston and first since Foligno fought New York Islanders forward, Matt Martin, on Dec. 16th at UBS Arena.

A few minutes later, pleasantries continued to be trending in the action as Swayman delivered a quick blow to Sam Gagner, resulting in a little retaliatory effort on Gagner’s behalf, as well as 4-on-4 action for two minutes as each player received unsportsmanlike conduct minors.

Haula served Swayman’s penalty, while Gagner served his own at 5:24 of the second period.

Shortly after both teams got their skater back from the sin bin, the Red Wings wired a shot wide of the net and around the glass where Haula was waiting by the blue line to break through the neutral zone.

Haula (2) sped down the ice and free from any defender before crossing into the attacking zone and zipping a wrist shot over Nedeljkovic’s high glove side to put the Bruins ahead, 2-1, at 7:37 on an unassisted effort.

It was also his first goal in 15 games.

About a minute later, Frederic cross checked Moritz Seider and took his trip to the penalty box at 8:47, but the Red Wings went scoreless on the resulting power play yet again.

Late in the second period, Jake DeBrusk caught Joe Veleno with a hook and brought the Detroit forward down before being sent to the box at 15:50.

Once more, the Red Wings went powerless on the power play, however.

The B’s carried a, 2-1, lead on the scoreboard through two periods and led in shots on goal, 23-16, despite being outshot by Detroit, 10-8, in the middle frame alone.

Boston also maintained control of blocked shots (11-5), while the Red Wings led in takeaways (2-1), giveaways (3-2), hits (16-9) and faceoff win% (54-46).

Neither team could buy a power play goal heading into the second intermission as Detroit was 0/4 and the Bruins went 0/1 on the skater advantage.

Boston got out of the gate on all cylinders to start the final frame.

Taylor Hall sent a pass to McAvoy (5) as the Bruins defender pinched in from the point on the right side for a catch and release goal over the glove from close range to extend the Bruins’ lead to two-goals at 5:59 of the third period.

Hall (10) and Charlie Coyle (8) notched the assists on McAvoy’s goal as Boston took a, 3-1, lead.

Almost two minutes later, Frederic (1) buried a rebound off of a shot by Mike Reilly from the point while Nedeljkovic was left playing catch up and extended the B’s lead to three goals at 7:55 of the third period.

Reilly (3) and Nosek (3) were credited with the assists on Frederic’s first goal of the season as the Bruins pulled ahead, 4-1, with a pair of goals in a span of 1:56.

Minutes later, Boston ended up scoring three goals in less than five minutes (4:41, to be exact) as Steen sent Nosek (3) into the attacking zone for a shot that slipped through Nedeljkovic’s five-hole at 10:39.

Steen (3) and McAvoy (15) had the assists on Nosek’s first goal since Nov. 20th in Philadelphia and the B’s led, 5-1.

About half a minute later, DeKeyser was sent to the box for holding, but the Bruins couldn’t capitalize on the resulting power play at 11:01.

Detroit resumed full strength then quickly went back on the penalty kill due to a minor infraction when Namestnikov tripped up DeBrusk at 13:15.

Once more, however, Boston didn’t score on the ensuing skater advantage.

At the final horn, the Bruins had sealed the deal on back-to-back wins on back-to-back days with a, 5-1, victory on the road in Detroit.

The B’s left Little Caesars Arena with the lead in shots on goal, 37-24– including a, 14-8, advantage in the third period alone– as well as the lead in blocked shots (14-10).

The Red Wings, meanwhile, exited their own building leading in giveaways (4-2), hits (26-15) and faceoff win% (51-49).

Neither team scored a power play goal on Sunday afternoon as Detroit went 0/4 and Boston went 0/3 on the skater advantage.

The Bruins improved to 6-6-2 (2-3-1 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 2-5-1 (1-2-1 on the road) when tied after the first period and 11-1-0 (8-0-0 on the road) when leading after two periods this season.

The Red Wings fell to 9-4-2 (6-2-1 at home) when scoring first, 8-3-0 (6-2-0 at home) when tied after one and 2-12-1 (0-4-1 at home) when trailing after the second period in 2021-22.

The Bruins return home to host the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday and Minnesota Wild on Thursday before hitting the road for a pair of games next Saturday (Jan. 8th) in Tampa against the Lightning and next Monday (Jan. 10th) in Washington, D.C. against the Capitals.

Boston is then currently scheduled to begin a seven-game homestand starting on Jan. 12th in a game that was originally scheduled to be played in Montréal against the Canadiens before the rise of the Omicron variant restricted indoor venue attendance across Canada.

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NHL Nick's Net

Coyle caps first two-goal comeback win for Boston this year

Charlie Coyle scored the game-winning goal 34 seconds into overtime to secure a, 4-3, victory for the Boston Bruins against the Buffalo Sabres Saturday afternoon at TD Garden.

It was the first two-goal deficit comeback win of the season for the Bruins as Linus Ullmark (8-5-0, 2.55 goals-against average, .919 save percentage in 13 games played) made 21 saves on 24 shots faced in the win.

Sabres goaltender, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (2-3-2, 2.41 goals-against average, .927 save percentage) turned aside 37 out of 41 shots against in the overtime loss.

Boston improved to 15-10-2 (32 points) on the season and remained stuck in 5th place while pulling to within one point of the Detroit Red Wings in the Atlantic Division standings for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Buffalo fell to 10-17-6 (26 points) overall– trapped behind the Bruins in 6th place in the Atlantic.

The B’s also improved to 8-5-1 at home this season, as well as 3-0-0 against the Sabres in 2021-22 with one game remaining against Buffalo on April 28th at TD Garden.

After losing, 3-1, to the New York Islanders at UBS Arena on Dec. 16th, six games were postponed due to Boston’s COVID-19 outbreak that led to the Bruins earning a 16-day holiday break instead of the usual three days off for Christmas.

Taylor Hall, Curtis Lazar, Brandon Carlo and Coyle were all added to the COVID protocol list that already featured names like, Brad Marchand, Craig Smith, Patrice Bergeron, Trent Frederic, Anton Blidh, Jeremy Swayman and Oskar Steen prior to the shutdown for the B’s (and eventual league pause as all 32 teams received a couple of extra days off– bookending the scheduled holiday break).

Seven players were cleared to return when testing resumed on Dec. 26th, Steen was reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) and the rest of the players in protocol cleared by New Year’s Eve.

Meanwhile, the National Hockey League reinstated the use of a taxi squad of up to six players until the 2022 All-Star break after pulling out of the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing.

As such, John Moore was assigned to Boston’s taxi squad with the anticipation of unrestricted free agent goaltender, Tuukka Rask, joining the roster soon too, which could mean that Swayman ends up getting the bump to the press box until February upon Rask’s return.

Also, if you’re wondering what Rask’s rehabilitation stint would look like, it’s been reported by The Athletic‘s Fluto Shinzawa that Rask would get a few games in Providence while the B’s are on the road in Tampa and Detroit before officially rejoining Boston and returning to NHL action after being sidelined from offseason hip surgery.

Of course, when Rask returns and if the taxi squad goes away, the Bruins might feel it’s best for Swayman’s development to continue to get some game action and send him to the AHL for the remainder of the year– rolling with NHL veteran netminders, Ullmark and Rask, down the stretch.

With everyone back from COVID protocol, Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, juggled his lines on Saturday against Buffalo.

Marchand and Bergeron suited up on the first line and were joined by Smith on right wing as David Pastrnak was demoted to the second line with Erik Haula at center and Hall at left wing.

Coyle centered the third line with Jake DeBrusk and Nick Foligno on his wings, while Tomáš Nosek anchored the fourth line, flanked by Frederic and Lazar.

On defense, Cassidy paired Matt Grzelcyk with Charlie McAvoy on the first defensive pairing and rounded out his top-four defenders with Mike Reilly alongside Carlo.

Derek Forbort suited up with Connor Clifton on the third pairing while Jakub Zboril (torn ACL in his right knee) is out for the rest of the regular season since sustaining an injury on Dec. 2nd in Nashville and undergoing surgery on Dec. 16th.

With Moore designated for the taxi squad and Zboril out due to injury, Blidh and Karson Kuhlman were the only healthy scratches for Boston on Saturday.

Alex Tuch opened the day’s action with a cross checking infraction 13 seconds into the first period, yielding the afternoon’s first power play to Boston.

The Bruins, however, weren’t able to capitalize on their first skater advantage of the game.

Moments later, Vinnie Hinostroza (6) riffled a shot from the high slot that may have deflected off of Foligno and into the twine under Ullmark’s blocker– giving the Sabres a, 1-0, lead at 6:33 of the first period.

Brett Murray (4) and Rasmus Dahlin (15) tallied the assists on Hinostroza’s first goal back from being in the league’s COVID protocol.

Less than a minute later, Anders Bjork cut a rut to the sin bin against his former team for boarding Forbort at 7:07.

Once more, though, Boston wasn’t able to score on the power play.

Heading into the first intermission, Buffalo held onto a, 1-0, lead on the scoreboard, despite trailing the Bruins in shots on goal, 13-5.

The Sabres held the advantage in blocked shots (4-2), giveaways (6-1) and faceoff win percentage (54-46), while the B’s led in takeaways (2-1).

Both teams had seven hits aside after one period of play, while only the Bruins had any time on the skater advantage and went 0/2 heading into the middle frame.

Jeff Skinner tripped up Marchand 31 seconds into the second period and presented Boston with another chance on the power play that ultimately went by the wayside.

Though they didn’t score on the advantage, the Bruins did manage to catch the Sabres in the vulnerable minute after special teams play as Smith (3) buried a rebound from the doorstep on a garbage goal– tying the game, 1-1, at 3:47 of the second period.

Marchand (17) and McAvoy (12) notched the assists as the B’s got on the scoreboard.

Less than a minute later, Haula cut a rut to the box for holding the stick at 4:19 and was shortly followed by his teammate at 5:33 when Nosek tripped up Peyton Krebs.

Buffalo went on a 5-on-3 power play for the next 45 seconds and even used their timeout to draw up a plan for the two-skater advantage, but couldn’t muster anything past Ullmark as Boston’s penalty killing unit stood tall in front of their goaltender.

Midway through the period, however, Tuch fired a shot that rebounded right to the slot as Skinner (10) crashed the net and sent the puck past Ullmark’s glove side to give the Sabres the lead once again, 2-1.

Tuch (2) and Tage Thompson (9) had the assists on Skinner’s goal at 11:32 of the second period.

A few minutes later, Tuch made a visit to the penalty box for interference at 14:17, but Boston wasn’t able to score on yet another power play.

Shortly after killing off Tuch’s minor, Buffalo went on the advantage as Smith was penalized for hooking Luukkonen at 18:25.

It didn’t take the Sabres too long to capitalize on the ensuing power play as Tuch (1) wired a shot over Ullmark’s blocker for his first goal as a Sabre at 19:11 of the second period.

Krebs (1) and Thompson (10) had the assists on Tuch’s power-play goal and Buffalo extended their lead to two-goals, 3-1, as the middle frame winded down and gave way to the second intermission.

Through 40 minutes of action at TD Garden on Saturday afternoon, the visiting Sabres led, 3-1, on the scoreboard, despite the home team Bruins dominating in shots on goal, 26-14, including a, 13-9, advantage in the second period alone.

Buffalo maintained the advantage in blocked shots (8-3), takeaways (4-1), giveaways (6-2) and hits (11-10), while the two teams split faceoff win%, 50-50.

The Sabres were 1/3 on the power play, while the Bruins were 0/4 heading into the final frame of regulation.

DeBrusk led a charge into the attacking zone with a burst of speed and a shot that rebounded off of Luukkonen back into the slot as Foligno (1) crashed the net and elevated a backhander over Luukkonen’s outstretched pads for his first goal in a Bruins uniform at 3:24 of the third period.

DeBrusk (4) had the only assist on Folingo’s goal as the B’s trailed, 3-2.

Boston rallied with momentum on their side as Hall (6) broke into the attacking zone and patiently waited before sending a toe-drag snap shot over the glove side of the Sabres netminder to tie the game, 3-3, at 4:50 of the third period.

Grzelcyk (6) and McAvoy (13) notched the assists on Hall’s goal as the Bruins scored a pair in a span of 1:25.

Midway through the third, Smith tripped Dahlin and presented the Sabres with the last power play of the afternoon at 13:27 of the third period.

Buffalo did not convert on the ensuing advantage.

In fact, neither team managed to score in the remainder of regulation, necessitating overtime after a brief sound of the horn to signal the end of 60 minutes of action.

Boston led in shots on goal, 40-23, and had a, 14-9, advantage in the third period alone.

The Sabres led in blocked shots (10-9), takeaways (4-2) and giveaways (9-2), while the Bruins led in faceoff win% (51-49). Both teams amassed 14 hits each.

As there were no penalties called in the overtime period, Buffalo finished the afternoon 1/4 on the power play, while Boston went 0/4 on the skater advantage.

Cassidy sent out Bergeron, Marchand and McAvoy to begin the extra frame while Sabres head coach, Don Granato, countered with Skinner, Thompson and Dahlin.

It didn’t take long for both teams to barely get through the first shift of overtime and start replacing players one-by-one as Coyle touched the ice– fresh from the bench.

Marchand skated deep into the offensive zone before dropping a pass back to Coyle in the high slot whereby Coyle (8) sent the rubber biscuit high over Luukkonen’s glove side to seal the deal on a, 4-3, come from behind overtime victory for Boston.

Marchand (18) and McAvoy (14) had the assists on Coyle’s game-winner 34 seconds into overtime and the Bruins kicked off 2022, in the win column.

The B’s finished the afternoon leading in shots on goal, 41-24, despite both teams managing to fire one shot on net in overtime alone.

Boston also wrapped up Saturday’s action leading in faceoff win% (52-48), while Buffalo exited TD Garden leading in blocked shots (10-9), giveaways (9-2) and hits (15-14).

The Bruins improved to 1-1 in overtime this season (2-2 past regulation), while the Sabres fell to 1-5 in overtime (3-6 past regulation) in 2021-22.

The B’s improved to 5-6-2 (4-3-1 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 3-5-1 (3-2-1 at home) when trailing after the first period and 3-7-2 (3-3-1 at home) when trailing after two periods this season.

Buffalo fell to 7-5-3 (3-3-3 on the road) when scoring first, 2-1-2 (1-1-2 on the road) when leading after the first period and 7-2-4 (3-2-2 on the road) when leading after two periods in 2021-22.

The Bruins venture to Detroit for a quick visit against the Red Wings on Sunday before hosting the New Jersey Devils next Tuesday (Jan. 4th) and Minnesota Wild next Thursday (Jan. 6th). Boston then visits the Tampa Bay Lightning next Saturday before swinging through Washington, D.C. on Jan. 10th.

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Islanders down Bruins, 3-1, Varlamov makes 40 saves

Cal Clutterbuck had a pair of goals, while Semyon Varlamov made a season-high 40 saves en route to his first win of the season as the New York Islanders defeated the Boston Bruins, 3-1, at UBS Arena on Thursday.

Varlamov (1-5-1, 2.99 goals-against average, .900 save percentage in eight games played) turned aside 40 out of 41 shots faced in the win, while Bruins goaltender, Linus Ullmark (7-5-0, 2.52 goals-against average, .922 save percentage in 12 games played) made 25 saves on 27 shots against in the loss.

Boston fell to 14-10-2 (30 points) on the season and remained in 5th place in the Atlantic Division, while New York improved to 8-12-5 (21 points) overall and stuck in 8th place in the Metropolitan Division.

The B’s visited UBS Arena for the first time since it opened last month and will visit one more arena that’s new to the National Hockey League circuit when they visit the Seattle Kraken at Climate Pledge Arena on Feb. 24th.

Jakub Zboril (lower body) remained out of the lineup while Brad Marchand and Craig Smith were joined in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol by Patrice Bergeron, Trent Frederic, Anton Blidh, Jeremy Swayman and Oskar Steen, as well as two team staff members.

The Bruins announced Steen’s addition to the league COVID protocol as both clubs started warming up on Thursday night.

Due to salary cap constraints, defender, John Moore, was reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Wednesday, while Jesper Frödén and Kyle Keyser were recalled from Providence on Thursday.

Bruce Cassidy was forced to make several lineup changes as Boston went with 11 forwards as a result of losing seven players to COVID protocol ahead of Thursday night’s action.

Charlie Coyle centered the first line with Taylor Hall at left wing and David Pastrnak at right wing, while Tomáš Nosek centered the second line with Erik Haula and Nick Foligno on his wings.

Jack Studnicka centered the third line and was flanked by Jake DeBrusk as well as Frödén, who made his NHL debut in the process.

On the fourth line, Curtis Lazar and Karson Kuhlman took shifts with a rotating cast of wingers to complete the line.

With Moore out of the lineup, Mike Reilly returned to the third defensive pairing alongside Connor Clifton.

In net, Keyser served as Ullmark’s backup with Swayman in COVID protocol and Tuukka Rask still unsigned as an unrestricted free agent that’s recovering from major offseason hip surgery.

Boston’s long list of scratches on Thursday included Swayman, Frederic, Smith, Bergeron, Steen, Marchand, Zboril and Blidh.

Early in the opening frame Kyle Palmieri slashed Derek Forbort and cut a rut to the penalty box as a result, yielding the night’s first power play to the Bruins at 5:23 of the first period.

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

Midway through the first period, Matt Martin won a battle along the endboards– utilizing a strong forecheck to free the puck on a turnover from the trapezoid to Clutterbuck (4), who was standing in the right place at the right time in the slot to bury the rubber biscuit and give the Islanders a, 1-0, lead at 11:47.

Clutterbuck’s first goal of the game was unassisted.

Less than a minute later, Haula caught Isles defender, Andy Greene with a high stick, but New York failed to capitalize on the resulting power play at 12:00 of the first period.

Entering the first intermission, the Islanders led, 1-0, on the scoreboard and held a, 10-9, advantage in shots on goal.

The Bruins, meanwhile, led in blocked shots (5-3), takeaways (1-0), giveaways (11-4) and hits (13-11), while both teams managed to split faceoff win percentage, 50-50, and went 0/1 on the power play after one period.

Forbort caught Clutterbuck with a high stick six seconds into the second period and it didn’t take the Isles long to score on the resulting power play.

Anthony Beauvillier (4) sent a shot that might have deflected off of a Bruins skater’s stick and over Ullmark’s glove– just under the bar– to extend New York’s lead to two-goals.

Robin Salo (1) and Justin Bailey (9) tallied the assists– marking the first career point in just his seventh NHL game for Salo, while giving the Islanders a, 2-0, lead on Beauvillier’s power-play goal at 1:44 of the second period.

Midway through the middle frame, Foligno and Martin became entangled and exchanged fisticuffs resulting in five-minute majors for each of them, as well as an extra two minutes for Foligno for roughing at 9:22.

Frödén served Foligno’s minor infraction and Boston suffered no consequences on the resulting penalty kill.

Through 40 minutes of action at UBS Arena on Thursday, the Islanders led, 2-0, on the scoreboard despite being outshot by the Bruins, 29-22, including a, 21-12, advantage for Boston in the second period alone.

The B’s led in blocked shots (10-5), takeaways (3-1), giveaways (13-8) and hits (20-16), while New York led in faceoff win% (55-46).

The Isles were 1/3 and the Bruins were 0/1 on the power play heading into the final frame.

Early in the third period, Zdeno Chara tripped Hall and presented Boston with another power play at 3:25, but the Bruins’ advantage was short lived.

A minute after Chara skated to the sin bin, his former defensive partner, Charlie McAvoy, cut a rut to the opposing team’s box for cross checking at 4:25.

The two teams skated at 4-on-4 for a minute before the Islanders went on an abbreviated 5-on-4 power play.

New York couldn’t muster anything past Ullmark and, instead, took another penalty when Brock Nelson hooked Matt Grzelcyk at 5:27.

After a short stint at 4-on-4, Boston had another abbreviated power play that went by the wayside.

Moments later, Grzelcyk went to the box for interference at 10:25, but the Isles failed to convert on the resulting power play.

With 2:55 remaining in regulation, Cassidy pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker, but it was to no avail as it didn’t take long for Anders Lee to send a pass across the neutral zone to Clutterbuck (5) for an empty net goal after he crossed into the attacking zone.

Lee (1) had the only assist on Clutterbuck’s second goal of the game and the Islanders led, 3-0, at 17:43 of the third period.

In the dying minute of the night’s action, Reilly (3) pinched in from the point and sent a shot over Varlamov’s high glove side after it deflected off of Scott Mayfield– cutting New York’s lead back to two goals.

Brandon Carlo (3) and Ullmark (1) recorded the assists on Reilly’s goal and the Bruins trailed, 3-1, at 19:06 of the third period.

With 37.2 seconds remaining in regulation, Ullmark skated to the bench for an extra attacker.

Clutterbuck sent a shot attempt towards the empty frame that just went wide as it hit the post and prevented hats from raining down from the stands.

At the final horn, New York had won, 3-1, despite being outshot by Boston, 41-28, including a, 12-6, advantage for the Bruins in the third period alone.

The B’s exited the building leading in blocked shots (13-11), giveaways (17-12) and hits (26-22), while the Isles led in faceoff win% (58-42).

New York finished the night 1/5 on the power play, while Boston went powerless on the skater advantage, 0/3.

The B’s fell to 4-6-2 (1-3-1 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 2-5-1 (0-3-0 on the road) when trailing after the first period and 2-7-2 (0-4-1 on the road) when losing after two periods this season.

The Islanders, on the other hand, improved to 7-4-4 (1-1-1 at home) when scoring first, 5-1-1 (1-0-0 at home) when leading after one and 8-1-1 (2-0-0 at home) when leading after the second period in 2021-22.

As of now, the Bruins are scheduled to travel to Montréal to square off with the Canadiens at Bell Centre on Saturday before venturing to Kanata, Ontario to take on the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on Sunday. 

Boston returns home next Tuesday to host the Carolina Hurricanes before taking on the Colorado Avalanche on Dec. 23rd in their final game before the league’s three-day Christmas break.

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NHL Nick's Net Previews

New York Islanders 2021-22 Season Preview

2020-21 record 32-17-7, 71 points

4th in the MassMutual NHL East Division

Eliminated in the Stanley Cup Semifinal by Tampa

Additions: F Andy Andreoff, F Richard Panik (acquired from DET), F Zach Parise, D Paul LaDue, D Zdeno Chara

Subtractions: F Robert Carpenter (signed with Milwaukee Admirals, AHL), F Jordan Eberle (expansion, SEA), F Tanner Fritz (signed with Hartford Wolf Pack, AHL), F Joshua Ho-Sang (signed with Toronto Marlies, AHL), F Andrew Ladd (traded to ARI), F Travis Zajac (signed to one-day contract with NJD, retired), D Nick Leddy (traded to DET)

Still Unsigned: F Kieffer Bellows (RFA), F Michael Dal Colle (RFA), D Braydon Coburn, G Cory Schneider

Re-signed: F Cole Bardreau, F Anthony Beauvillier, F Casey Cizikas, F Otto Koivula, F Kyle Palmieri, F Dmytro Timashov, D Andy Greene, D Adam Pelech, G Ilya Sorokin

Offseason Analysis: It’s October and we still don’t really know who is and who isn’t under contract with the New York Islanders because Isles General Manager, Lou Lamoriello, plays by his own rules.

Well, not exactly like that, but he at least doesn’t like facial hair and won’t allow his players to sport a scruffy look. Not even a goatee (which bothers me as someone that looks much too young without sporting even a small patch of stubble on my chin to prove, in fact, that I am old enough to order a beer– let alone see an “R”-rated movie).

Anyway, Lamoriello has slowly been announcing– though never disclosing the financial terms– deals that have been signed by players like Zach Parise and Zdeno Chara, as well as extensions for Kyle Palmieri, Adam Pelech, Andy Greene and Ilya Sorokin.

Parise, 37, joins New York after amassing 393-417–810 totals in 1,060 career National Hockey League games for the New Jersey Devils and– most recently– the Minnesota Wild.

Last season with the Wild, he had 18 points (seven goals, 11 assists) in 45 games, which was a bit of a steep decline in his production from 2019-20, albeit in much more limited time as Minnesota head coach, Dean Evason, felt his team was better with Parise scratched from time to time.

New York head coach, Barry Trotz, on the other hand, thinks he can utilize Parise in the right amounts to maximize his value as a veteran of the league in search of his first Cup ring– let alone his first trip back to the Stanley Cup Final since 2012.

Chara, 44, reunites with the Islanders– the team that drafted him in the 3rd round (56th overall) in the 1996 NHL Draft prior to breaking into the league with the Isles in the 1997-98 season and spending parts of four seasons on Long Island before then-General Manager Mike Milbury traded him to the Ottawa Senators ahead of the 2001-02 season.

The long time veteran defender is entering his 24th season after amassing 207-459–666 totals in 1,608 games thus far with the Islanders, Senators, Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals. Chara was a member of the 2011 Stanley Cup champion Bruins roster and should pay dividends on the third pairing, as well as on the penalty kill, while Pelech and Ryan Pulock rest up for another long shift.

After being acquired ahead of last season’s deadline, Palmieri put up four points (two goals, two assists) in 17 games down the stretch with New York after amassing 8-9–17 totals with the Devils in 34 games prior in 2020-21.

In the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, however, Palmieri found his scoring touch– notching seven goals and two assists (nine points) in 19 games en route to being eliminated by the Tampa Bay Lightning in seven games in the 2021 Stanley Cup Semifinal.

Lamoriello added more veterans to an already veteran infused lineup while presumably remaining tight against the salary cap.

Though New York had a bit of a bumpy ending to the regular season last year, they peaked at the right time to be one goal away from the franchise’s first Stanley Cup Final appearance since 1984.

As an organization that’s been on the rise with Trotz behind the bench, the Islanders are sure to be out with something to prove in the league’s return to a normal 82-game schedule format and everything.

Pelech’s eight-year extension worth $5.750 million per season at 27-years-old is Lamoriello’s greatest gift thus far to New York’s core as a good team friendly contract as Pulock enters a contract year in 2021-22 and Mathew Barzal carries two remaining years on his current deal.

Love him or hate him, Lamoriello also did a decent job keeping Casey Cizikas in line with more conventional thinking for a top-nine forward on a new six-year deal worth $2.500 million per season compared to his last contract, which was a five-year deal with a $3.350 million cap hit.

Generally speaking, first line forwards should be paid around $9.000 million, second liners between $4.000 to $6.000 million with third liners earning roughly $1.000 to $4.000 million and fourth liners taking home a cap hit between league minimum and $2.000 million per year at most.

Follow that logic and you’ll be able to spread some wealth around on short-term contracts among your replacement level players or sign long term deals at a decent cap hit that’s expendable if you run into performance issues or cap related casualties down the road.

Meanwhile, because of Lamoriello’s masterclass in contract negotiations this summer, Anthony Beauvillier got a three-year bridge deal at $4.150 million per season and Ilya Sorokin earned a three-year extension worth $4.000 million per season– keeping the Islanders competitive as Cup contenders for at least the next few years while balancing the growth and development of their core as they age into their prime.

Of course, everything comes with a price as Lamoriello shipped out Nick Leddy to the Detroit Red Wings in a trade on July 16th for Richard Panik and a 2021 2nd round pick (originally from Edmonton, via Detroit- 52nd overall, Aatu Raty).

Chara is 14 years Leddy’s senior, but Leddy’s $5.500 million cap hit was a roadblock in keeping the bulk of New York’s core together.

To save some additional funds for redistribution this summer, the Islanders dealt Andrew Ladd, a 2021 2nd round pick (originally from Colorado via the Islanders, 60th overall- Janis Jerome Moser), as well as a conditional 2022 2nd round pick and a conditional 2023 3rd round pick to the Arizona Coyotes for future considerations.

Arizona took on Ladd’s entire $5.500 million cap hit through the 2022-23 season.

Offseason Grade: B

For what needed to be done to protect the integrity of the Islanders as a Cup contender in the next few seasons (at least), Lamoriello made proper efforts to add without subtracting, while balancing the books in an efficient manner.

There’s a lot to like about the respectable bridge contracts, but Pelech’s eight-year extension is a home run for what is otherwise New York’s cornerstone on defense with Pulock due for a bit of a pay raise next summer.

That said, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Isles off their game by just a little as the long runs into the third round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2020 and 2021 take a toll on a team in every sense of the imagination.

New York won’t need to hit “reset”, but rather “refresh” as they should comfortably reach the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but as for how far they go depends on if they can stay healthy and focused– especially with UBS Arena set to open in November, thereby giving the Islanders a long 13-game road streak to start the 2021-22 regular season.

If they don’t win it all in 2022, they should be primed for a bounce-back in 2023, with their best chance at a Cup since their dynasty in the 1980s.

Categories
NHL Nick's Net Previews

Lightning seeking back-to-back trips to the Stanley Cup Final

There are four teams remaining in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs and for the first time since 1981, there are no Conference Finals going on.

Due to the ongoing global pandemic, the National Hockey League was forced to temporarily realign the divisions and get rid of conferences for a season as the league and it’s players’ union did what they could to get an abbreviated 56-game regular season schedule and a full Stanley Cup Playoffs experience in the history books.

In May, ESPN‘s Greg Wyshynski reported that the league would not award the Prince of Wales Trophy and the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl to the victors of the equivalent third round, but after the Vegas Golden Knights eliminated the Colorado Avalanche in six games to conclude the Second Round of this year’s postseason on Thursday, the league apparently changed its mind.

With a regular all-Eastern Conference matchup between the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders, as well as 50% of the teams representing the Western Conference in the other Semifinal series, both trophies will be awarded to the third round series winners after all.

The winner of the Lightning and Islanders series will take home the Prince of Wales Trophy, while either the Golden Knights or the Montréal Canadiens will win the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl.

Montréal can join a short list of teams to have won both trophies in franchise history, as only the Detroit Red Wings, Philadelphia Flyers, Chicago Blackhawks and Islanders have won each before.

How is this possible, you ask?

Well, for starters, the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl was introduced in the 1967-68 season and awarded to the team that finished with the best regular season record in the West Division (the precursor to the Western Conference in the modern era), while the Prince of Wales Trophy dates back to the 1925-26 season and, you guessed it, eventually became the East Division (pre-Eastern Conference days) equivalent.

Ahead of the 1981-82 season, however, the league changed its postseason to include a Conference Finals round, thus involving these trophies in the playoffs and eventually leading to the creation of the Presidents’ Trophy for the team with the best regular season record since the 1985-86 season.

So anyway, the teams mentioned above that won both have changed conferences and divisions over time.

Now let’s talk about one-half of the Semifinal matchups– the Lightning and the Islanders.

(2) Tampa Bay Lightning (36-17-3, 75 points) vs (3) New York Islanders (32-17-7, 71 points)

Tampa: 56 games played, .670 points percentage, 29 regulation wins.

N.Y. Islanders: 56 games played, .634 points percentage, 24 regulation wins.

The Tampa Bay Lightning eliminated the Florida Panthers in six games (4-2) in the First Round before taking care of the Carolina Hurricanes in a five-game upset (4-1) to represent the Discover NHL Central Division in the 2021 Stanley Cup Semifinals.

They’re also the defending Stanley Cup champions looking to be the first team to repeat as such since the Pittsburgh Penguins won back-to-back Cups in 2016 and 2017.

The Bolts have followed the league’s salary cap rules to a “T”, which enabled them to spend almost $99 million as the playoffs began because Nikita Kucherov had been on the long term injured reserve all season long and due to the fact that the cap ceiling disappears for the postseason.

Brayden Point led the Lightning in the regular season with 23-25–48 totals in 56 games, while Ondrej Palat (15-31–46 totals in 55 games) and Victor Hedman (9-36–45 totals in 54 games) rounded out the top-three in scoring on the roster in 2020-21.

Through 11 games this postseason, Kucherov hasn’t missed a beat, leading his teammates with 18 points (five goals, 13 assists) in that span.

Tampa’s captain, Steven Stamkos, missed the last part of the regular season, but returned in time for the playoffs and has not missed any action due to injury.

As a result, he’s had 5-8–13 totals in 11 games– good enough for the second-most points by a Lightning skater in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, while Point (8-4–12 totals in 11 games) and Alex Killorn (6-6–12 totals in 11 games) are tied for the third-most on the postseason roster.

In the crease, Andrei Vasilevskiy led Tampa’s netminders with a 31-10-1 record in 42 games played (42 starts), yielding a 2.21 goals-against average, a .925 save percentage and five shutouts in the process.

Curtis McElhinney served as Vasilevskiy’s backup and amassed a 4-6-2 record in 12 games (12 starts), as well as a 3.09 goals-against average, an .875 save percentage and one shutout in that span.

Christopher Gibson even got a little time in net, recording a 1-1-0 record in two games (two starts), as well as a 2.65 goals-against average and an .875 save percentage.

Thus far in the playoffs, Vasilevskiy has yet to be chased from the crease– putting up an 8-3 record in 11 games (11 starts) to go with his 2.24 goals-against average and .934 save percentage.

Oh and he’s more than doubled his career postseason shutout total– recording two so far in Tampa’s quest for back-to-back rings.

At the other end of the rink, the New York Islanders beat two teams they’re used to beating in the history of the Stanley Cup Playoffs– defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games (4-2) in the First Round and the Boston Bruins in six games (4-2), as well, in the Second Round to reach the 2021 Stanley Cup Semifinals as the MassMutual NHL East Division’s representation.

Head coach, Barry Trotz, is still using his modified trap, though New York’s potent offense is actually leading the way in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs with 43 goals for thus far.

Vegas is second with 40 goals for, while Tampa sits third with 38 goals for and the best goal differential in the postseason so far with a plus-12 differential.

Mathew Barzal (17-28–45 totals in 55 games) led the Isles in scoring in the regular season. Josh Bailey (8-27–35 totals in 54 games), Brock Nelson (18-15–33 totals in 56 gmaes) and Jordan Eberle (16-17–33 totals in 56 games) rounded out the top-three in team scoring in 2020-21.

Through 12 games this postseason, Jean-Gabriel Pageau has emerged at peak performance at the right time of the year to be on top of one’s game, leading the Islanders in playoff scoring with 3-10–13 totals.

Bailey and Anthony Beauvillier each have 11 points in 12 games, while Nelson has the fourth-most points on the playoff roster with 6-4–10 totals in that span.

In net, Semyon Varlamov led the way as New York’s starter, amassing a 19-11-4 record in 36 games (35 starts), as well as a 2.04 goals-against average, a .929 save percentage and tied for the league lead in shutouts with Colorado Avalanche netminder, Philipp Grubauer, blanking opponents on the scoreboard seven times each this season.

Ilya Sorokin’s first season in the NHL was served in a backup role, going 13-6-3 in 22 games (21 starts) and accruing a 2.17 goals-against average, a .918 save percentage and three shutouts in that span.

Though Sorokin ultimately helped the Islanders get over the Penguins in the First Round, his Game 1 performance against Boston left something to be desired, forcing Trotz to hand the keys to the crease back to Varlamov.

Varlamov’s gone on to post a 4-3 record in seven games (seven starts) this postseason, notching a 2.62 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage in the process.

Sorokin, meanwhile, has a 4-1 record in five games (five starts), as well as a 2.32 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage.

With the way Varlamov’s been playing as of late– recording 40 saves against the Bruins some nights– it’s not likely that Sorokin will see any action against the Bolts.

Unlike how the Lightning got a key component of their roster in Kucherov back in time for when it counts, New York’s captain, Anders Lee, remains sidelined until the 2021-22 season with a knee injury.


These two teams are meeting for the fourth time in a playoff series, with the Lightning holding a 3-0 all time advantage, having defeated the Islanders in five games (4-1) in the 2004 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, in five games (4-1) again in the 2016 Second Round, as well as in six games (4-2) in the 2020 Eastern Conference Final.

For the second year in a row, these two clubs are squaring off in the third round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but unlike last year’s neutral site at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, the home crowds may be a factor in 2021.

What’s more, these two teams have yet to play each other thanks to the temporary division realignment for 2020-21, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

If history is any indicator, it’s that Tampa should win the series and extend their all time advantage to 4-0, but New York presented a challenge to the Bolts last year that is sure to be amplified by both rosters’ familiarity with each other, as well as the fact that the Lightning will have to go through the ringer that is known as Nassau Live at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

This isn’t to say that the fans in attendance at Amalie Arena won’t be just as boisterous, but there’s something to be said about a Long Island crowd this time of year– especially one that’s been longing for their first Stanley Cup title since 1983.

Not only that, but it’d be a great way to send the building off into retirement as the Islanders move into their new home in Elmont, New York at UBS Arena next season.

That said, the Lightning have home-ice advantage in this series for the first time this postseason and they’ve been pretty good at stealing games on the road– winning two out of three games in the First Round at BB&T Center against Florida and all three games held at PNC Arena in their Second Round series with Carolina.

2020 Stanley Cup winning head coach, Jon Cooper, pitted against 2018 Stanley Cup winning head coach in Trotz (then of the Washington Capitals)– this rematch is sure to be one hell of a battle.

Though the Lightning have cruised thus far, there’s something to be said about the tenacity of the Islanders and the way momentum seems to be working in their favor.

For the first time, it looks like New York will come out on top against Tampa and they’ll likely do it over seven games of some of the best hockey fans desire leading up to the Stanley Cup Final.

If it’s anything shorter, it’ll be because Vasilevskiy continued to stay hot and the Islanders gave up too many power plays to the Lightning, but New York was one of the least penalized teams in the regular season.

If the offense doesn’t sputter, the Isles have their best chance at getting back to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1984, when they lost in five games to the Edmonton Oilers.

Schedule:

6/13- Game 1 NYI @ TBL 3 PM ET on NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS

6/15- Game 2 NYI @ TBL 8 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS

6/17- Game 3 TBL @ NYI 8 PM ET on USA, CBC, SN, TVAS

6/19- Game 4 TBL @ NYI 8 PM ET on USA, CBC, SN, TVAS

6/21- Game 5 NYI @ TBL 8 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS*

6/23- Game 6 TBL @ NYI 8 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS*

6/25- Game 7 NYI @ TBL 8 PM ET on NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS*

*If necessary

Categories
NHL Nick's Net Previews

2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs Second Round Preview: MassMutual NHL East Division

Nobody’s perfect.

Both in First Round prediction outcomes and in trying (and failing) to deliver predictions for each First Round series ahead of time.

The short excuse is that the overlap of the 2020-21 regular season and the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs made it difficult to finish compiling stats, writing game recaps and subsequently writing previews for each series that hadn’t already started.

Then it’s a matter of catching up.

Plus there’s a few other projects being worked on right now that you’ll hopefully get to see soon.

Granted, there’s a good chance that if you’re reading this it’s because 1) you’re somehow an oddly dedicated fan of my random musings, 2) you’ve accidentally stumbled upon this blog or 3) you’re a potential employer trying to get a read on if this guy is actually desirable.

Anyway, the First Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs is mostly over as only the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montréal Canadiens have yet to sort out who will be taking on the Winnipeg Jets in the Second Round of Scotia NHL North Division action.

For now, let’s just keep it simple with the MassMutual NHL East Division on the docket for Saturday and the Discover NHL Central Division and Honda NHL West Division on the calendar for Sunday, then we’ll go from there.

(3) Boston Bruins (33-16-7, 73 points) vs (4) New York Islanders (32-17-7, 71 points)

Boston: 56 games played, .652 points percentage, 25 regulation wins.

N.Y. Islanders: 56 games played, .634 points percentage, 24 regulation wins.

The Boston Bruins eliminated the Washington Capitals in five games (4-1) in the First Round and are poised to be in command of home ice advantage in their Second Round series matchup with the New York Islanders by virtue of being the higher seed as both MassMutual NHL East Division First Round matchups technically resulted in upset victories by the “underdogs”.

Sure, Boston has had a bit of recent playoff success riding the momentum of their last four consecutive seasons with at least one playoff series victory and New York improved to 5-1 all time against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a Stanley Cup Playoff series, but that’s besides the point.

The Bruins won the Presidents’ Trophy in 2019-20, having recorded the league’s best regular season record at the time of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, well, officially being declared a pandemic and cutting last year’s regular season short.

They entered 2020-21 as favorites to not only lead their division at season’s end, but contend for the Presidents’ Trophy in back-to-back seasons for the first time in franchise history.

That… didn’t pan out, but it might actually be a benefit to the current roster to not be seen as the clear cut favorites on paper.

To remind everyone that didn’t read the First Round preview for Boston, the Bruins were led by Brad Marchand (29-40–69 totals in 53 games played) in the regular season, with Patrice Bergeron (23-25–48 totals in 54 games) and David Pastrnak (20-28–48 totals in 48 games) rounding out the top-three scorers on the team.

Through five games this postseason, the B’s look like they could be on the verge of something special as a plausible last hurrah for their current core with David Krejci and Tuukka Rask set to become unrestricted free agents at season’s end and Father Time™️ eventually going to become a factor and catch up with the ageless wonders that are Bergeron and Marchand.

It’s likely that Rask will be back for another season or two to serve as a mentor for current backup goaltender, Jeremy Swayman, like how Tim Thomas played that role for the franchise’s all-time winningest goaltender in the regular season and playoffs.

Or if you’re from outside the Boston market– think like what Pekka Rinne just did for the last two seasons in Nashville as Juuse Saros gradually took over as the starter for the Predators.

Krejci, on the other hand, has a bit more of a clouded future.

Bruins president, Cam Neely, told reporters earlier in the week that the organization has shelved talks of extensions with Rask and Krejci for after the postseason (a standard for the industry, especially with an expansion draft looming for the Seattle Kraken), but Neely was open to the idea of the two “one team” players spending their entire NHL careers in Boston.

That said, there’s always the possibility for retirement for Krejci or that he might go spend a few seasons in Czech Republic while winding down the twilight of his professional playing days.

None of that is relevant for the here and now, however.

Right now, the Bruins are focused on getting past the Islanders in the Second Round– a team that’s given them a bit of an inconsistent ride to say the least this season.

Boston dropped the first five games against New York, but won the last three meetings between the two clubs in the regular season.

That doesn’t actually say as much as one would think, since the Capitals had more recent success as the season progressed against Boston.

But then again, Washington did lose.

It’s also not like the B’s didn’t get better as the season went on– especially since they added Taylor Hall, Curtis Lazar and Mike Reilly ahead of the trade deadline in April.

Boston has a legitimate top-six forward group and interchangeable components that can get the job done in the bottom-six, as well as a defense that has a mix of youth and experience– sans Kevan Miller for Game 1, at least, as Miller is out with an upper body injury, though Jarred Tinordi did fine for a bottom-pairing role in Game 5 against Washington.

Rask’s save percentage has gone up in each of his first five postseason games so far.

Through five games in the 2021 postseason, Pastrnak leads the team in scoring with six points (two goals, four assists), while bona fide stallion , Charlie McAvoy, has five assists and Bergeron (3-1–4 totals in five games) round out the top-three in postseason production thus far.

In the regular season, Rask led the way in the crease for the B’s with a 15-5-2 record in 24 games (24 starts), a 2.28 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage, as well as a pair of shutouts in that span.

Jaroslav Halak started the season as Boston’s backup, but ended it as the third string netminder with a 9-6-4 record in 19 games (17 starts) for the Bruins with a 2.53 goals-against average, .905 save percentage and two shutouts in 2020-21.

Swayman emerged as Rask and Halak spent time out of the lineup due to injury, as well as an extended stay in COVID protocol for the latter goaltender (perhaps affecting Halak’s performance as a result).

But before Swayman amassed a 7-3-0 record in 10 games (10 starts), as well as a 1.50 goals-against average, a .945 save percentage and two shutouts, Dan Vladar made five appearances (all starts) and earned a 2-2-2-1 record to go along with a 3.40 goals-against average and an .886 save percentage.

Don’t let Vladar’s numbers fool you, however, as one desperate start on the second night of a back-to-back against the Capitals sank otherwise decent stats for the projected backup to Swayman someday on Boston’s depth chart.

In the postseason, Rask has put up a 4-1 record in five games with a 1.81 goals-against average and a .941 save percentage.

So in other words, it’s midseason form for No. 40 for the black and gold.

Gerry Cheevers has faith in Rask.

At the other end of the rink, the Islanders utilized head coach, Barry Trotz’s, patented trap to stupefy Pittsburgh’s potent offense in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, while also appearing to not really have to do that much to beat Tristan Jarry in the crease in six games (4-2).

This time we mean it. Nassau Live at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum is on its last legs.

Next season, the Isles will be opening up their new home at UBS Arena in Elmont, New York– making the “long” trek from Uniondale, New York to their new address.

Both TD Garden and the Coliseum are expected to have near full capacity crowds for the entirety of the series, so if you already couldn’t stand Boston and Long Island enough for some reason, expect the crowds to be as loud and as obnoxious as ever.

That said, we could all use a good laugh and some release from the last year and a half of pain, grief and suffering. Hopefully the cheers and jeers do not veer into the distasteful.

It is, after all, just a game.

Anyway, the Islanders were led by Mathew Barzal (17-28–45 totals in 55 games) this season, while Josh Bailey (8-27–35 totals in 54 games), Brock Nelson (18-15–33 totals in 56 games) and Jordan Eberle (16-17–33 totals in 56 games) rounded out the top-three in team scoring in 2020-21.

In the crease, Semyon Varlamov led the way with a 19-11-4 record in 36 games (35 starts), as well as a 2.04 goals-against average, a .929 save percentage and seven shutouts in the regular season.

Ilya Sorokin was the backup netminder for New York and amassed a 13-6-3 record in 22 games (21 starts) and had a 2.17 goals-against average, a .918 save percentage and three shutouts in the process.

Through six postseason games, Anthony Beauvillier (3-4–7 totals) and Jean-Gabriel Pageau (1-6–7 totals) are tied for the team lead in playoff scoring, while Bailey and Nelson rank tied for third on the roster with six points (three goals, three assists for each player).

Varlamov’s gone 0-2 in two games (two starts) and has a 3.61 goals-against average, as well as a .903 save percentage, while Sorokin has taken over with the hot hands in net– amassing a 4-0 record in four games (four starts) and an equally impressive goal against average (1.95) and save percentage (.943) as Rask’s numbers for Boston thus far in the playoffs.

Meanwhile, Isles captain Anders Lee remains out of the lineup with a lower body injury that ended his season after 27 games in 2020-21.


These two teams are meeting for the third time in a series, with the Islanders holding a 2-0 all time record, having defeated the Bruins in five games (4-1) in the 1980 Quarterfinal and in six games (4-2) in the 1983 Wales Conference Final.

Both times that New York defeated Boston, the Isles went on to win the Stanley Cup.

In the 2020-21 regular season, however, the Bruins went 3-3-2 in eight games against New York, while the Islanders went 5-2-1 against Boston.

New York outscored Boston, 21-18, in that span, though the Bruins held the advantage in total shots on goal over the course of their regular season series, 269-216.

Stellar goaltending has been a constant for both teams, outside of the odd, 7-2, win for the Islanders on Feb. 25th against the B’s.

The Bruins have Hall, the Islanders have Kyle Palmieri.

Depth scoring is paramount, especially if New York’s trap can get to Boston’s first line as effective as they were against Pittsburgh’s first line.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, is a dynamic coach, however, while Trotz might continue to go back to the well even if it’s starting to run dry– simply out of the comfort and ease of familiarity.

This series has all the makings of being a long, grueling battle that could see Boston victorious over the Islanders for the first time in the postseason in seven games when all is said and done.

Regular season outcomes:

1-0 NYI at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Jan. 18th

4-2 NYI at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Feb. 13th

7-2 NYI at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Feb. 25th

2-1 F/SO NYI at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on March 9th

4-3 F/OT NYI at TD Garden on March 25th

4-1 BOS at TD Garden on April 15th

3-0 BOS at TD Garden on April 16th

3-2 F/OT BOS at TD Garden on May 10th

Schedule:

5/29- Game 1 NYI @ BOS 8 PM ET on NBC, SN360, TVAS2

5/31- Game 2 NYI @ BOS 7:30 PM ET on NBCSN, SN1, TVAS

Games 3 and 4, as well as 5 through 7 (if necessary) have yet to be announced by the league at the time of this writing.

Categories
Podcasts

DTFR Podcast #202- What Are Your Qualifications?/Let’s Get Kraken

Using Qualifiers to enhance this postseason (it’s a breakdown of the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers and Round Robin action). Plus the Seattle Kraken!

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