Categories
NHL Nick's Net

Raffl sinks Bruins in dying seconds, Caps win, 2-1

Michael Raffl scored the game-winning goal off the back of Jeremy Swayman with about three seconds left on the game clock to give the Washington Capitals a, 2-1, victory over the Boston Bruins at Capital One Arena in both teams’ last game of the regular season.

Vitek Vanecek (21-10-4, 2.70 goals-against average, .908 save percentage in 37 games played) made 24 saves on 25 shots against in the win for Washington.

Swayman (7-3-0, 1.50 goals-against average, .945 save percentage in 10 games played), stopped 30 out of 32 shots faced in the loss.

The Bruins finished the 2020-21 regular season 33-16-7 (73 points) overall and in 3rd place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while the Capitals went 36-15-5 (77 points) this season and finished in 2nd place in the same division.

The two clubs will face each other in the First Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Boston also dropped to 15-9-4 on the road and 4-2-2 against Washington in 2020-21.

The Bruins were without Ondrej Kase (upper body), John Moore (hip) and Charlie Coyle (upper body) due to injury on Tuesday, while head coach, Bruce Cassidy elected to rest Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak, Taylor Hall, David Krejci, Craig Smith, Sean Kuraly, Charlie Coyle, Matt Grzelcyk, Charlie McAvoy, Mike Reilly, Brandon Carlo, Jeremy Lauzon, Kevan Miller, Jaroslav Halak and Tuukka Rask for the final game of the regular season.

Boston returns home after their evening in Washington, D.C. for a day off on Wednesday.

The B’s return to practice at Warrior Ice Arena on Thursday and Friday ahead of Game 1 back in Washington, D.C. on Saturday night.

By sitting most of his regular lineup, Cassidy jumbled his forwards and defenders on Tuesday night with Curtis Lazar centering the first line– flanked by Jake DeBrusk and Chris Wagner on his wings.

Greg McKegg centered the second line with Nick Ritchie and Zach Senyshyn on the wings. Ritchie and Wagner each wore an “A” with Steven Kampfer wearing the third “A”, designated as alternate captains while Bruins captain, Bergeron, and regular alternates, Krejci and Marchand were withheld from Tuesday night’s action.

Jack Studnicka centered the third line with Trent Frederic at left wing and Oskar Steen at right wing, while Cameron Hughes, Anton Blidh and Karson Kuhlman rounded out the bottom-six forwards.

On defense, Jakub Zboril was paired with Connor Clifton on the first pairint, while Jarred Tinordi and Kampfer, as well as Jack Ahcan and Urho Vaakanainen rounded out the rest of the blue line.

Dan Vladar served as Swayman’s backup with Rask and Halak given the night off.

Boston’s long list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and injured players included Reilly, Smith, Coyle, Carlo, Moore, Kase, Bergeron, Rask, Halak, Krejci, Grzelcyk, Kuraly, Lauzon, Marchand, Callum Booth, Hall, McAvoy, Miller and Pastrnak.

Washington was without some big names in T.J. Oshie (lower body), John Carlson (lower body), Evgeny Kuznetsov (COVID protocol) and Ilya Samsonov (COVID protocol) on Tuesday.

At puck drop, Ritchie became the only Bruin to play in all 56 games this season.

Meanwhile, midway through the opening frame, Clifton caught Carl Hagelin with a slash and promptly presented the Capitals with the first power play of the night at 7:15 of the first period.

Washington’s power play was cut short, however, when Anthony Mantha tripped Kampfer at 8:44, yielding 31 seconds of 4-on-4 action before the Bruins had an abbreviated power play.

Boston’s special teams couldn’t muster anything on their brief skater advantage.

Heading into the first intermission, the game was still tied, 0-0, despite Washington leading in shots on goal, 9-6.

The Bruins led in blocked shots (9-2), takeaways (4-2), giveaways (2-1) and hits (16-13), while the Capitals held the advantage in faceoff win percentage (55-46).

Both the Caps and the B’s were 0/1 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

DeBrusk worked the puck up to Tinordi as the Bruins defender pinched into the attacking zone on a rush before sending a pass to Lazar (7) in the slot for a tap-in while Vanecek was out of position– giving Boston a, 1-0, lead in the process.

Tinordi (1) and DeBrusk (9) tallied the assists on Lazar’s goal at 10:11 of the second period.

The B’s did not hold the lead for long, however, as Hagelin (6) pocketed a rebound while Swayman was sprawling in effort to clear the crease.

Garnet Hathaway (12) and Zdeno Chara (8) had the assists on Hagelin’s goal as the Caps tied the game, 1-1, at 16:15 of the second period.

Through 40 minutes of play, the Bruins and Capitals were tied, 1-1, on the scoreboard despite Washington holding a, 26-14, advantage in shots on goal, including a, 17-8, advantage in the second period alone.

Boston dominated in blocked shots (16-4) and hits (22-20), while the Caps led in takeaways (7-4) and faceoff win% (52-48).

Both teams had three giveaways each and remained 0/1 on the power play heading into the final frame.

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

Less than two minutes into the final frame, Frederic and Tom Wilson exchanged pleasantries leading to ten-minute misconducts for each player– a fair tradeoff for Boston to give up a bottom-six winger for Washington’s infamous forward at 1:49 of the third period.

As each penalty was a misconduct, there was no change in strength as both teams remained at 5-on-5 for the rest of the night.

No more penalties were called and no goals were scored until the dying seconds when Raffl (4) riffled a shot from behind the goal line off of Swayman’s back– bouncing just under the crossbar and back out from the twine.

Justin Schultz (24) had the only assist on Raffl’s game-winning goal at 19:57 of the third period as the Capitals secured the, 2-1, victory at the final horn.

Washington wrapped up the night’s action with the advantage in the final shot total, 32-25, despite being outshot by Boston, 11-5, in the third period alone.

The Bruins finished the night leading in blocked shots (21-10), while the Capitals led in giveaways (9-4), hits (39-33) and faceoff win% (62-38).

Both teams finished 0/1 on the night on the skater advantage.

After the game, Cassidy informed reporters that Swayman would serve as Rask’s backup in the postseason and indicated that Coyle would likely be cleared for a return to the lineup for Game 1.

Meanwhile, Kase’s status remains uncertain for Saturday night, at least.

Boston finished the 2020-21 regular season 8-8-2 (5-4-0 on the road) when tied after the first period, 25-6-3 (12-6-1 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal and 6-8-3 (5-6-2 on the road) when tied after two periods.

Washington, on the other hand, wrapped up their 2020-21 regular season efforts 16-3-1 (7-2-1 at home) when tied after one period, 11-10-2 (7-6-1 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal and 8-2-5 (4-1-3 at home) when tied after the second period.

The Bruins finished their 2020-21 regular season on Tuesday and will return to Boston for a day off on Wednesday before practicing on Thursday and Friday ahead of Saturday’s Game 1 matchup with the Capitals in Washington, D.C.

Washington has home-ice advantage in their First Round series with Boston in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since their 1998 matchup with the Bruins in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal that year. 

This will be the fourth time that the two clubs go head-to-head in the playoffs with the Capitals holding an all-time 2-1 series advantage. 

The Caps defeated the B’s most recently in seven games in the 2012 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal as well as in six games in the 1998 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal, while the Bruins swept Washington in the 1990 Wales Conference Final.

Categories
NHL Nick's Net

Bruins down Sabres, 5-2, extend gap with Rangers

The Boston Bruins got the most out of their top-six forwards on Thursday night in a, 5-2, victory over the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden as Tuukka Rask (13-4-2, 2.27 goals-against average, .916 save percentage in 21 games played) made 29 saves on 31 shots faced in the win.

Sabres netminder, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (1-2-0, 3.75 goals-against average, .908 save percentage in three games), had 35 saves on 39 shots against in the loss.

Boston improved to 29-14-6 (64 points) on the season and remain in command of 4th place in the MassMutual NHL East Division– six points ahead of the New York Rangers, who remain on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoff picture.

Buffalo fell to 13-31-7 (33 points) overall and stagnant in 8th place (last) in the division.

The B’s are now 6-1-0 against the Sabres this season with one more game remaining in their regular season series on Saturday afternoon.

The Bruins were without Ondrej Kase (upper body), John Moore (hip), and Brandon Carlo (upper body) on Thursday, while Craig Smith was a game-time decision due to an issue that was resolved prior to warmup with his COVID testing.

As Smith’s issue was absolved, Jake DeBrusk remained a healthy scratch, while B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made minor adjustments among his forwards.

Trent Frederic, Sean Kuraly and Charlie Coyle made up the third line, while Nick Ritchie, Curtis Lazar and Chris Wagner comprised the fourth line.

Jaroslav Halak served as Rask’s backup with Jeremy Swayman earning the night off.

Meanwhile, Boston’s long list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and injured players including, Swayman, Greg McKegg, Carlo, Moore, Kase, Steven Kampfer, Jakub Zboril, Callum Booth, DeBrusk, Anton Blidh, Karson Kuhlman and Jarred Tinordi.

Jack Ahcan was sent to the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Wednesday, while Urho Vaakanainen was also reassigned to Providence on Thursday ahead of Boston’s game against the Sabres.

The P-Bruins season is winding down and will not feature a postseason following it as the American Hockey League announced on Thursday that for the second straight year, there would be no traditional Calder Cup Playoffs.

Only the AHL’s Pacific Division elected to have a playoff tournament to determine a division champion, while the rest of the AHL’s division title winners will simply default to the team that finishes the season with the best regular season record.

Providence is currently 1st in the Atlantic Division with a 14-6-1-1 record on the season.

Meanwhile, starting May 10th (vs. N.Y. Islanders), TD Garden will increase their limited seating capacity from 12% to 25% in accordance with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ COVID-19 reopening plans.

A little over a minute into the action on Thursday night, David Pastrnak (19) rocketed a one-timer past Luukkonen from his typical spot near the faceoff dot on a pass from across the slot to make it, 1-0, Boston at 1:16 of the first period.

Patrice Bergeron (24) and Brad Marchand (33) tallied the assists on Pastrnak’s 199th career National Hockey League goal.

Late in the period, Casey Mittelstadt (10) buried a rebound after the Bruins turned the puck over in their own defensive zone and were caught behind the play.

Arttu Ruotsalainen (1) and Rasmus Asplund (3) notched the assists on Mittelstadt’s goal as the Sabres tied the game, 1-1, at 14:09.

Moments later, Buffalo forward, Sam Reinhart, tripped Pastrnak and presented the Bruins with their first power play of the night at 18:05.

Late in the ensuing skater advantage, as the final second on the clock was winding down prior to the first intermission, David Krejci (8) sent a one-timer off the post that had eyes off of Luukkonen’s back and trickled into the net to give Boston a, 2-1, lead heading into the first intermission.

Charlie McAvoy (23) and Smith (18) had the primary and secondary assists on Krejci’s power-play goal at 19:59.

After one period, the B’s led, 2-1, on the scoreboard and held the advantage in shots on goal, 13-11.

Meanwhile, Buffalo held the advantage in takeaways (4-3), giveaways (4-3), hits (13-9) and faceoff win percentage (59-41). Both teams had two blocked shots apiece while the Sabres had yet to appear on the skater advantage and the Bruins were 1/1 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

Lazar interfered with Reinhart and presented the Sabres with their first power play of the night at 5:36 of the second period, but Boston’s penalty kill did its job and went unscathed on the scoreboard.

Late in the middle frame, Rasmus Dahlin hooked Marchand and cut a rut to the penalty box at 14:50, but Bruins weren’t able to convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Through 40 minutes of action on Thursday, Boston led Buffalo, 2-1, on the scoreboard and, 28-22, in shots on goal, including a, 15-11, advantage in the second period alone.

The Sabres maintained a hold in blocked shots (6-4), takeaways (8-4), hits (22-17), while the Bruins led in giveaways (7-6) and faceoff win% (63-37).

Buffalo was 0/1 and Boston was 1/2 on the power play heading into the final frame.

Reinhart (23) tied the action, 2-2, with a quick release from the slot, while Victor Olofsson (17) and Jeff Skinner (6) worked the puck deep into the zone and earned the assists on Reinhart’s goal at 1:43 of the third period.

Almost midway through the final frame, Coyle (6) stole the rubber biscuit in the neutral zone and charged up the ice– forcing his own breakaway into fruition while Reinhart and Rasmus Ristolainen trailed on his back– before roofing the puck top-shelf for his first goal in 28 games.

Coyle’s individual effort was unassisted and ended the longest scoring drought in his career thus far (nine years) and made it, 3-2, for Boston at 7:58 of the third period.

Moments later, Krejci and Dahlin got tangled up in a bit of a heated exchange in which Krejci was handed a minor for interference and Dahlin received a holding infraction, yielding two minutes of 4-on-4 action at 13:30.

Just as the two clubs resumed 5-on-5 play, Smith worked the puck to Krejci while No. 46 in black and gold broke into the attacking zone by deking around Dahlin, then toe-dragging around Henri Jokiharju before setting up Taylor Hall (7) for the one-timer goal at 16:43.

Hall’s goal gave Boston some insurance with a, 4-2, lead, while Krejci (26) and Smith (19) had the assists.

About a minute later, Connor Clifton, slashed former teammate, Anders Bjork, and presented Buffalo with a power play at 17:47.

Sabres interim head coach, Don Granato, pulled Luukkonen for an extra attacker, but it was to no avail as Marchand (27) sent the puck into the open net from his own end on a floater of a shot just under the bar for his 31st career shorthanded goal.

Marchand’s empty net goal was unassisted at 18:26 and the Bruins secured the, 5-2, victory as a result at the final horn.

Boston finished the night leading in shots on goal, 40-31, including a, 12-9, advantage in the third period alone.

Buffalo finished the night leading in his (30-24), while the B’s wrapped up Thursday’s action with the advantage in blocked shots (9-7), giveaways (10-8) and faceoff win% (59-41).

The Sabres went 0/2 on the power play, while the Bruins finished 1/2 on the skater advantage.

Boston improved to 21-5-3 (10-0-2 at home) when scoring the game’s first goal, 17-0-2 (9-0-1 at home) when leading after the first period and 20-0-2 (12-0-2 at home) when leading after two periods in 2020-21.

Buffalo, meanwhile, fell to 6-26-2 (3-11-1 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 3-20-0 (2-8-0 on the road) when trailing after one and 1-26-2 (0-11-1 on the road) when losing after the second period this season.

The Bruins face the Sabres to kick off the month of May on Saturday afternoon before hitting the road for a pair of games next week in New Jersey against the Devils. Boston went 11-5-1 in the month of April.

Categories
NHL Nick's Net

Bruins bounce back with, 3-1, win in Pittsburgh

After being shutout, 1-0, on Sunday by the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena, the Boston Bruins got split their two games in the “Steel City” with a, 3-1, win on Tuesday night.

Tuukka Rask (12-4-2, 2.29 goals-against average, .915 save percentage in 20 games played) made 25 saves on 26 shots faced in the win for Boston.

Pittsburgh netminder, Tristan Jarry (21-9-3, 2.71 goals-against average, .911 save percentage in 34 games played) made 28 saves on 31 shots against in the loss.

The Bruins are now 28-14-6 (62 points) on the season and remain in command of 4th place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while the Penguins fell to 32-15-3 (67 points) overall and dropped to 2nd place in the division.

Boston won the regular season series against Pittsburgh (5-3-0) in 2020-21’s 56-game schedule due to the ongoing global pandemic.

The Bruins were without the services of Ondrej Kase (upper body), John Moore (hip) and Brandon Carlo (upper body) on Tuesday, while Trent Frederic returned to the lineup for the first time in 11 games after recovering from a non-COVID protocol related illness.

Frederic joined the fourth line alongside Curtis Lazar at center and Chris Wagner on right wing, while Sean Kuraly was promoted to the third line center with Charlie Coyle moved to the right wing and Jake DeBrusk serving as a healthy scratch.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, also re-inserted Connor Clifton o the blue line in place of Steven Kampfer, while Jaroslav Halak served as Rask’s backup with Jeremy Swayman earning the night off.

Boston’s long list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and injured players included Swayman, Greg McKegg, Carlo, Moore, Kase, Kampfer, Jack Ahcan, Urho Vaakanainen, Jakub Zboril, Callum Booth, DeBrusk, Anton Blidh, Karson Kuhlman and Jarred Tinordi.

Mike Reilly cut a rut to the penalty box early in the action on Tuesday night as he was assessed a minor infraction for holding the stick while falling near the endboards in a tangle with Jared McCann at 1:32 of the first period.

Pittsburgh’s ensuing power play was powerless, however, as Boston’s penalty kill stood tall.

Midway through the opening frame, the Bruins had too many skaters on the ice resulting in a bench minor at 10:18.

Taylor Hall served the penalty in the box while the B’s penalty kill successfully held the Penguins off the scoreboard during the special teams action.

After one period of play on Tuesday, the Bruins and Penguins were tied, 0-0, on the scoreboard, despite Boston holding a, 14-11, advantage in shots on goal.

The B’s led in blocked shots (10-4), takeaways (4-1), hits (14-7) and faceoff win percentage (80-20), while the Pens held the advantage in giveaways (3-1).

Pittsburgh was 0/2 on the power play, while Boston had yet to see any time on the skater advantage heading into the middle frame.

Kevan Miller slashed Jason Zucker and went to the box at 5:13 of the second period, presenting the Penguins with a power play as a result.

Once more, however, Boston’s penalty kill managed to kill the minor with ease.

Late in the period, the Bruins’ power play units got their first shift of the night as Evan Rodrigues went to the box for roughing at 15:41.

Despite not scoring on the power play, Boston caught Pittsburgh in the vulnerable minute afterward, whereby Charlie McAvoy worked a roughly 200-foot effort down the ice to David Krejci (7) for a backhand shot over Jarry’s pad, but under the Pens goaltender’s glove to make it, 1-0, for the B’s.

McAvoy (22) and Rask (2) had the assists on Krejci’s goal at 18:10 of the second period.

Through 40 minutes of play on Tuesday, Boston led, 1-0, on the scoreboard and, 22-17, in shots on goal, including an, 8-6, advantage in the second period alone.

The Bruins also held the advantage in blocked shots (16-5), hits (32-19) and faceoff win% (72-28), while the Penguins led in takeaways (9-5) and giveaways (5-2).

Pittsburgh was 0/3 and Boston was 0/1 on the power play heading into the second intermission.

Early in the final frame, Jeremy Lauzon and Teddy Blueger exchanged fisticuffs and received fighting majors at 6:38 of the third period as a result.

It was the 13th fight of the season for Boston and the first since Miller fought Tage Thompson on April 13th vs. Buffalo.

Moments later, Brad Marchand (26) buried a rebound to give the Bruins a two-goal lead.

David Pastrnak (24) had the initial shot that forced a rebound to Marchand for the goal, while Curtis Lazar (6) had the secondary assist as the B’s took a, 2-0, lead at 9:11 of the third period.

About a few minutes later, Hall (6) strolled into the slot after deking past Sidney Crosby and snapped a shot over Jarry’s blocker to make it, 3-0, Boston at 12:18.

Krejci (25) and Reilly (24) tallied the assists on Hall’s goal at 12:18.

Late in the frame, Jeff Carter (11) sent a rocket past Rask’s blocked side to put Pittsburgh on the scoreboard with an old school slap shot from the faceoff dot.

Kris Letang (33) and Kasperi Kapanen (16) had the assists on Carter’s goal as the Penguins trailed the Bruins, 3-1, at 17:39.

With two minutes left in regulation, Pens head coach, Mike Sullivan, pulled Jarry for an extra attacker, but it was to no avail as the B’s shut Pittsburgh’s 6-on-5 advantage down and pulled off the, 3-1, victory at the final horn.

Boston finished the night leading in shots on goal (31-26), blocked shots (21-7), hits (50-25) and faceoff win% (57-43).

Pittsburgh wrapped up the night with the advantage in giveaways (5-3), while the Penguins went 0/3 and the Bruins went 0/1 on the power play.

The B’s improved to 7-6-2 (4-3-0 on the road) when tied after the first period, 20-5-3 (11-5-1 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal and 19-0-2 (8-0-0 on the road) when leading after two periods this season.

The Pens fell to 7-3-1 (4-3-1 at home) when tied after one period, 12-11-1 (8-3-0 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal and 4-11-1 (2-2-0 at home) when trailing after the second period in 2020-21.

The Bruins went 3-2-0 on their five-game road trip and head home to finish the month of April and start the month of May with a pair of games against the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday and Saturday.

Categories
NHL Nick's Net

Jarry earns shutout in, 1-0, win for Pens over Bruins

Tristan Jarry led the Pittsburgh Penguins to a, 1-0, shutout over the Boston Bruins on Sunday afternoon at PPG Paints Arena– earning his first shutout of the season in a 30-save effort.

Jarry (21-8-3, 2.70 goals-against average, .911 save percentage in 33 games played) stopped all 30 shots that he faced en route to his sixth career shutout for the Penguins.

Bruins goaltender, Jeremy Swayman (5-2-0, 1.57 goals-against average, .946 save percentage in seven games played) made 28 saves on 29 shots against in the loss.

Boston fell to 27-14-6 (60 points) on the season, but in command of 4th place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while Pittsburgh improved to 32-14-3 (67 points) overall and in command of the division standings (1st place).

The B’s also fell to 4-3-0 against the Pens this season and are now 13-8-3 on the road in 2020-21.

After a, 6-4, loss to the Buffalo Sabres on the road on Friday, the Bruins shifted their focus to Pittsburgh for a pair of games against the Penguins.

Boston was without Ondrej Kase (upper body), John Moore (hip), Brandon Carlo (upper body) and Trent Frederic (non-COVID protocol related illness) on Sunday, but witnessed the return of Patrice Bergeron to the lineup after their captain had missed Friday night’s loss in Buffalo with a lower body injury.

As a result of Bergeron’s return, Charlie Coyle went back to his usual role centering the third line, while Sean Kuraly and Curtis Lazar returned to the fourth line as left wing and center, respectively.

Anton Blidh was the only forward to come out of the lineup, while Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made no changes to his defensive pairings against the Penguins.

In the crease, Jaroslav Halak served as Swayman’s backup on Sunday with Tuukka Rask earning the afternoon off in the press box as a healthy scratch.

Rask was joined by a long list of names including healthy scratches, taxi squad members and injured players such as Frederic, Greg McKegg, Carlo, Moore, Kase, Jack Ahcan, Urho Vaakanainen, Jakub Zboril, Callum Booth, Connor Clifton, Blidh, Karson Kuhlman and Jarred Tinordi.

Not much happened in the opening frame on Sunday.

In fact, neither team scored a goal, nor was there a penalty in the first period as the two teams entered the first intermission tied, 0-0, on the scoreboard and in shots on goal, 10-10.

Boston, however, held the advantage in blocked shots (6-0) and giveaways (3-2), while Pittsburgh led in takeaways (1-0), hits (14-9) and faceoff win percentage (59-41).

As there were no penalties called in the first period, both clubs were 0/0 on the power play.

Nothing happened in the second period either, except for a bunch of saves for each goaltender.

Through 40 minutes of play, Swayman had stopped all 21 shots faced, while Jarry made 18 saves on 18 shots as the Penguins led the Bruins, 21-18, in shots on goal, including an, 11-8, advantage in the second period alone.

The scoreboard still read, 0-0, as Boston held the advantage in blocked shots (10-6) and Pittsburgh led in giveaways (7-4), hits (23-21) and faceoff win% (55-45).

Both teams had four takeaways each and were 0/0 on the power play as no penalties were called in the action entering the second intermission.

Jake Guentzel (21) fired a one-timer from the faceoff dot over Swayman’s glove side to give the Penguins the game’s first goal, while Sidney Crosby (36) and Brian Dumoulin (10) recorded the assists as Pittsburgh took a, 1-0, lead at 4:03 of the third period.

It turned out to be the only goal of the afternoon.

With less than two minutes left in regulation, Cassidy pulled his goaltender for an extra skater, but while Boston was defending their own zone, Bergeron caught Guentzel with a high stick and received the game’s first and only infraction at 18:32.

The Bruins used their timeout to come up with a strategy to handle both being shorthanded and what to do should they get possession in the attacking zone and even things up at 5-on-5 with Swayman heading for the bench, but it was to no avail.

The Pens did not convert on the ensuing power play, however.

Time simply ran out for Boston and Pittsburgh as Jarry and the Penguins secured the, 1-0, victory, despite trailing in shots on goal, 30-29, on the afternoon.

Boston held the advantage in shots in the third period alone, 12-8, as well as in blocked shots (14-8), while Pittsburgh led in giveaways (11-7) and faceoff win% (52-48).

The two teams finished the afternoon even in hits, 33-33, while only the Penguins had a power play on the afternoon– going 0/1 on the skater advantage in the process.

The Bruins fell to 8-9-3 (3-3-2 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 6-6-2 (3-3-0 on the road) when tied after one period and 5-6-3 (5-5-2 on the road) when tied after two periods this season.

Pittsburgh, meanwhile, improved to 20-4-2 (12-1-2 at home) when scoring the game’s first goal, 7-2-1 (4-2-1 at home) when tied after the first period and 7-3-1 (5-1-1 at home) when tied after the second period in 2020-21.

The B’s close out their five-game road trip (2-2-0) with another matchup in Pittsburgh against the Penguins on Tuesday. Boston finished the month of April at home on Thursday night against the Buffalo Sabres.

Categories
NHL Nick's Net Previews

Preview: Game 46- Bruins @ Sabres

Friday night at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York, the Boston Bruins face the Buffalo Sabres in the second night of back-to-back games while Boston vies for a seventh-straight win in their current winning streak.

The Bruins enter Friday having beaten the Sabres twice this week, most recently on Thursday night in a, 5-1, victory. Buffalo has yet to beat Boston this season as the two teams square off for the sixth time in 2020-21.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, indicated that defender, Kevan Miller, would make a return to the lineup in place of Connor Clifton, while Tuukka Rask would get the start in net on Friday.

Jaroslav Halak is expected to serve as Rask’s backup with Jeremy Swayman earning the night off in the press box as a healthy scratch after making 29 saves on 30 shots against in Thursday’s win.

Boston will be without Ondrej Kase, Brandon Carlo, John Moore, Trent Frederic and Patrice Bergeron as Kase and Carlo did not travel with the team for their current road trip, Moore is out for the rest of the season due to a hip injury and Frederic is still recovering from a non-COVID protocol related illness.

Bergeron was withheld from pregame warmup with a lower body injury.

Cassidy told reporters earlier in the week that while Kase is not regressing, he has still yet to return to full capacity at practice and would require some game action before making any swift lineup adjustments down the stretch as the Bruins are inside of 10 games remaining in the regular season after Friday night’s action.

The B’s (27-12-6, 60 points) are 4th place in the MassMutual NHL East Division entering their 46th game of this season’s 56-game schedule, while Buffalo is last in the division with a 12-28-7 record (31 points).

Boston is 13-6-3 on the road this season and 8-2-0 in their last ten games, while the Sabres are 5-16-4 on home ice and 4-5-1 in their last ten games.

The Bruins are 147-113-29-12 in 301 regular season meetings against the Sabres all time with 966 goals for and 932 goals against in that span.

Boston is 32-25-1-7 in 65 games at KeyBank Center since the building was opened in 1996, though Buffalo has outscored the Bruins, 177-168, in that span.

Brad Marchand leads the Bruins in scoring with 25-32–57 totals in 43 games, while Bergeron (18-23–41 totals in 48 games) and David Pastrnak (18-23–41 totals in 38 games) round out the top-three in team scoring this season.

Pastrnak is two goals away from his 200th career NHL goal. He has 198-222–420 totals in 428 career NHL games since being drafted by Boston in the 1st round (25th overall) of the 2014 NHL Draft.

Sam Reinhart leads the Sabres in scoring with 17-13–30 totals in 45 games this season, while Victor Olofsson (12-15–27 totals in 47 games) and Rasmus Dahlin (4-16–20 totals in 47 games) rank second and third in scoring for Buffalo.

Rask (11-4-2, 2.22 goals-against average, .916 save percentage in 18 games played) is expected to get the start for the Bruins after having Thursday night off. He had a 32-save shutout in Boston’s, 2-0, win in Buffalo on Monday.

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen is set to make his National Hockey League debut in the crease for the Sabres since he was drafted in the 2nd round (54th overall) by Buffalo in 2017.

He posted a 1.80 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage in six games for Finland at the 2019 IIHF World Junior tournament and has a 3.60 goals-against average and an .888 save percentage in 14 games for the Rochester Americans (AHL) this season.

Boston is currently 2-0-0 on their five-game road trip with a pair of games in Pittsburgh after Friday night’s action in Buffalo before returning home to face the Sabres to close out the month of April.

Expected lineups

Boston Bruins

63 Brad Marchand (A) 13 Charlie Coyle 88 David Pastrnak

71 Taylor Hall 46 David Krejci (A) 12 Craig Smith

21 Nick Ritchie 20 Curtis Lazar 74 Jake DeBrusk

81 Anton Blidh 52 Sean Kuraly 14 Chris Wagner

48 Matt Grzlecyk 73 Charlie McAvoy

6 Mike Reilly 86 Kevan Miller (A)

55 Jeremy Lauzon 44 Steven Kampfer

40 Tuukka Rask

41 Jaroslav Halak

Healthy scratches, injured and taxi squad members (officially TBA, below is only a prediction based on last game)

Jeremy Swayman, Trent Frederic (illness), Greg McKegg, Brandon Carlo (upper body), John Moore (hip), Ondrej Kase (upper body), Jack Ahcan, Urho Vaakanainen, Jakub Zboril, Callum Booth, Connor Clifton, Anton Blidh, Karson Kuhlman, Jarred Tinordi, Kevan Miller (right knee)

Buffalo Sabres

53 Jeff Skinner 23 Sam Reinhart 68 Victor Olofsson

74 Rasmus Asplund 37 Casey Mittelstadt 72 Tage Thompson

96 Anders Bjork 24 Dylan Cozens 25 Arttu Ruotsalainen

13 Tobias Rieder 15 Riley Sheahan 91 Drake Caggiula

54 Mattias Samuelsson 55 Rasmus Ristolainen

26 Rasmus Dahlin 10 Henri Jokiharju

78 Jacob Bryson 3 Will Borgen

1 Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen

31 Dustin Tokarski

Healthy scratches, injured and taxi squad members (officially TBA, below is only a prediction based on last game)

Jack Eichel (lower body), Cody Eakin, Colin Miller, Linus Ullmark, Carter Hutton, Matt Irwin

Goaltending stats entering Thursday

Boston Bruins

1 Jeremy Swayman 5-1-0 in 6 GP, 1.65 GAA, .943 SV%, 1 SO

40 Tuukka Rask 10-4-2 in 17 GP, 2.35 GAA, .910 SV%, 1 SO

41 Jaroslav Halak 9-5-3 in 17 GP, 2.44 GAA, .910 SV%, 2 SO

70 Callum Booth 0-0-0 in 0 GP, 0.00 GAA, .000 SV%, 0 SO

80 Dan Vladar 2-2-1 in 5 GP, 3.40 GAA, .886 SV%, 0 SO

Buffalo Sabres

1 Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen 0-0-0 in 0 GP, 0.00 GAA, .000 SV%, 0 SO

31 Dustin Tokarski 2-7-2 in 11 GP, 3.23 GAA, .914 SV%, 0 SO

32 Michael Houser 0-0-0 in 0 GP, 0.00 GAA, .000 SV%, 0 SO

35 Linus Ullmark 9-6-3 in 20 GP, 2.63 GAA, .917 SV%, 0 SO

40 Carter Hutton 1-10-1 in 13 GP, 3.47 GAA, .886 SV%, 0 SO

Categories
NHL Nick's Net

Bruins rout Sabres, 5-1, in Buffalo

Five different scorers led the Boston Bruins over the Buffalo Sabres in a, 5-1, victory at KeyBank Center on Thursday night as the B’s extended their winning streak to six games.

Jeremy Swayman (5-1-0, 1.65 goals-against average, .943 save percentage in six games played) made 29 saves on 30 shots against in the win for the Bruins.

Sabres goaltender, Dustin Tokarski (2-7-2, 3.23 goals-against average, .914 save percentage in 11 games played) turned aside 33 out of 38 shots faced in the loss.

Boston improved to 27-12-6 (60 points) on the season and remained in command of 4th place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while Buffalo fell to 12-28-7 (31 points) overall and stagnant in last place in the same division.

The B’s are now 5-0-0 against the Sabres this season.

The Bruins were without Ondrej Kase (upper body), John Moore (hip), Brandon Carlo (upper body), Trent Frederic (non-COVID protocol related illness) and Kevan Miller (undisclosed) on Thursday, while Jaroslav Halak returned from the league’s COVID protocol and served as Swayman’s backup goaltender for the night.

Tuukka Rask, as a result, was made a healthy scratch for the evening, joining the likes of Frederic, Greg McKegg, Carlo, Moore, Kase, Rask, Jack Ahcan, Urho Vaakanainen, Jakub Zboril, Callum Booth, Anton Blidh, Karson Kuhlman, Jarred Tinordi and Miller on the long list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and injured players.

Meanwhile, Steven Kampfer was reinserted in the lineup in place of Zboril on the third defensive pairing. Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made no other changes to his lineup on Thursday.

Rasmus Ristolainen kicked off the game’s action on the event sheet with a boarding minor at 8:13 of the first period, presenting the Bruins with the game’s first power play as a result.

Boston was not successful on the ensuing skater advantage, however.

Moments later, Brad Marchand (25) flipped the puck into the open net on a catch and release pass from Patrice Bergeron through the slot while Tokarski lunged across the crease in desperation but couldn’t come up with the save.

Bergeron (23) and Mike Reilly (23) had the assists as the Bruins took a, 1-0, lead at 12:36 of the first period.

About a couple minutes later, Charlie McAvoy hooked Dylan Cozens and cut a rut to the penalty box, yielding a power play to Buffalo for the first time on Thursday at 14:25.

The Sabres weren’t able to convert on the resulting power play, however.

The two teams finished the first period at 4-on-4 as Marchand and Casey Mittelstadt received matching roughing minors at 18:18, extending the 4-on-4 action into the second period as a result.

Through 20 minutes of action in Buffalo, the Bruins led the Sabres, 1-0, on the scoreboard and, 14-7, in shots on goal.

Boston also held the advantage in blocked shots (5-2), giveaways (4-3) and faceoff win percentage (53-47), while Buffalo led in takeaways (3-0) and hits (11-4) heading into the first intermission.

Entering the middle frame, both teams were 0/1 on the power play.

Ristolainen kicked off the second period’s action with a holding infraction at 1:49, but the B’s couldn’t score on the resulting power play.

Moments later, Arttu Ruotsalainen (3) tied the game, 1-1, on a one-timer from Anders Bjork at 5:27 of the second period.

Bjork (6) and Cozens (8) tallied the assists as the Sabres had a small shift in momentum in the grand scheme of things.

Less than a minute later, David Pastrnak was penalized for boarding at 5:48, but Buffalo couldn’t score on the ensuing power play, nor could the Sabres take advantage of Kampfer’s interference minor at 8:56.

Midway through the middle frame, the Bruins won an attacking zone faceoff and worked the puck around the blue line to Matt Grzelcyk (4) for a wrist shot off of Tokarski’s glove and into the net for the eventual game-winning goal.

McAvoy (20) and Pastrnak (23) were credited with the assists on Grzelcyk’s goal as Boston went ahead, 2-1, on the scoreboard at 12:50 of the second period.

Less than a minute later, Bergeron was sent to the sin bin after hooking Sabres forward, Tobias Rieder, at 13:11.

Buffalo couldn’t convert on Bergeron’s minor, nor McAvoy’s slashing infraction at 16:26, as Boston entered the second intermission ahead on the scoreboard, 2-1.

The Bruins held the advantage in shots on goal, 26-20, despite trailing the Sabres in shots on net in the second period alone, 13-12.

Boston led in blocked shots (9-5) and giveaways (5-4), while Buffalo dominated in takeaways (5-1), hits (14-9) and faceoff win% (59-42) after two periods.

As there were no penalties called in the final frame, the Sabres finished the night 0/5 on the power play, while the B’s went 0/2.

Pastrnak (18) extended Boston’s lead after working his way around Rasmus Dahlin prior to sniping a shot past Tokarski’s blocker side to give the Bruins a two-goal lead.

Marchand (32) and Grzelcyk (11) tallied the assists on Pastrnak’s goal as Boston led, 3-1, at 4:54 of the third period.

About a minute later, Nick Ritchie (11) notched his first goal in 13 games on a short side shot to make it, 4-1, and give the B’s a three-goal lead.

Jake DeBrusk (6) and Charlie Coyle (10) had the assists– marking 300 career points for Coyle with the secondary assist in the process– on Ritchie’s goal at 6:01.

Late in the game, David Krejci (6) buried a rebound to assure Boston of a, 5-1, victory at 18:02 of the third period, while Jeremy Lauzon (6) and Taylor Hall (19) picked up the assists.

At the final horn, the Bruins had won, 5-1, and finished the night leading in shots on goal, 38-30, including a, 12-10, advantage in the third period alone.

The Bruins wrapped up Thursday night’s action leading in blocked shots (12-9) and giveaways (7-6), while the Sabres finished the action leading in hits (18-17) and faceoff win% (51-49).

Boston improved to 19-4-3 (10-4-1 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal, 16-0-2 (8-0-1 on the road) when leading after the first period and 18-0-2 (7-0-0 on the road) when leading after two periods this season.

Buffalo fell to 5-23-2 (2-15-1 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 3-18-0 (1-12-0 at home) when trailing after one period and 1-24-2 (1-15-1 at home) when trailing after the second period in 2020-21.

The Bruins face the Sabres again on Friday before venturing to Pittsburgh next week and hosting Buffalo to close out the month of April. Boston is 2-0-0 on their current five-game road trip.

Categories
NHL Nick's Net

Rask earns 51st career shutout in, 2-0, win in Buffalo

Brad Marchand and Connor Clifton scored the only goals while Tuukka Rask (11-4-2, 2.22 goals-against average, .916 save percentage in 18 games played) made 32 saves in a, 2-0, shutout win for the Boston Bruins over the Buffalo Sabres Tuesday night at KeyBank Center.

Rask picked up his first shutout of the season and 51st of his career, while Dustin Tokarski (2-6-2, 3.05 goals-against average, .918 save percentage in 10 games played) stopped 39 out of 41 shots faced for a .951 save percentage in the loss for Buffalo.

The Bruins improved to 26-12-6 (58 points) on the season and in command of 4th place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while the Sabres fell to 12-27-7 (31 points) overall and in last place in the same division.

The B’s also improved to 4-0-0 against Buffalo this season.

The Bruins were without the services of Ondrej Kase (upper body), John Moore (hip), Brandon Carlo (upper body), Trent Frederic (non-COVID protocol related illness), Kevan Miller (undisclosed) and Jaroslav Halak (COVID protocol) on Tuesday.

Kase and Carlo did not travel with the team for their five-game road trip, while Miller traveled with the club and is “better” according to head coach, Bruce Cassidy.

After missing 18 games this season, most recently due to an upper body injury sustained on April 10th in Philadelphia, Matt Grzelcyk returned to the lineup on defense.

Jakub Zboril was back too after missing a game due to a non-COVID protocol related illness.

Cassidy made no changes among his forwards, while slotting Grzelcyk in on the left side of the first defensive pairing with Charlie McAvoy and moving Jeremy Lauzon to the third pairing with Zboril.

Mike Reilly and Clifton remained paired on the second defensive pairing while Jarred Tinordi and Steven Kampfer joined Frederic, Greg McKegg, Carlo, Moore, Kase, Halak, Jack Ahcan, Urho Vaakanainen, Callum Booth, Anton Blidh, Karson Kuhlman, Tinordi and Miller on Boston’s long list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and injured players.

Ahcan and Vaakanainen were recalled to the taxi squad depending on your source for American Hockey League transactions (CapFriendly, the AHL transactions page itself, TSN or CBS Sports), meanwhile Zach Senyshyn was sent to the Providence Bruins (AHL) over the weekend with Dan Vladar.

Editor’s note: Also apparently McKegg’s been erroneously forgotten from the taxi squad in these lineup notes/recaps since early April. My bad. Please forgive me, Greg.

Midway through the opening frame, Marchand (24) backhanded a rebound over Tokarski while the Sabres goaltender reached to trap the loose puck.

David Pastrnak (22) and Reilly (22) had the assists on Marchand’s goal as the Bruins jumped out to a, 1-0, lead at 8:06 of the first period.

Moments later, Jake DeBrusk cut a rut to the penalty box for hooking former teammate turned newest skater in Buffalo, Anders Bjork at 11:17.

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

There were no more goals or penalties as the first period came to a close with Boston ahead, 1-0, on the scoreboard and both teams tied, 9-9, in shots on goal.

Buffalo held the lead in takeaways (3-1) and giveaways (3-2), while the B’s had the advantage in hits (7-3) and faceoff win percentage (69-31) after one period.

Both teams had five blocked shots each, while the Sabres were 0/1 on the power play and the Bruins had yet to see time on the skater advantage.

Early in the middle frame, Clifton (1) threw a shot on goal from the point that trickled through Tokarski and was kicked in by the Buffalo netminder, giving Boston a two-goal lead.

Sean Kuraly (3) and Curtis Lazar (5) had the assists on Clifton’s first goal since Nov. 19, 2019, and the Bruins led, 2-0, at 3:03 of the second period.

Midway through the middle period, Marchand elbowed Henri Jokiharju and received a minor infraction at 11:04 as a result.

Buffalo’s power play was short lived, however, as Rasmus Ristolainen laid out Lauzon in front of the net for no apparent reason at 12:10, resulting in 4-on-4 action for about 56 seconds before the B’s had an abbreviated power play.

Through 40 minutes of action on Tuesday, Boston led Buffalo, 2-0, on the scoreboard, as well as in shots on goal, 27-15, including an, 18-6, advantage in the second period alone.

The Bruins held the advantage in hits (13-6) and faceoff win% (65-35), while the Sabres led in blocked shots (11-9), takeaways (7-4) and giveaways (6-4).

Buffalo was 0/2 and Boston was 0/1 on the power play entering the second intermission.

There were no goals scored in the third period, though there were plenty of chances to score on the skater advantage as multiple penalties were called on both clubs in the final frame.

Drake Caggiula interfered with Pastrnak and presented Boston with the first power play of the third period at 1:05, but the Bruins were unsuccessful in assuring themselves of complete dominance over the Sabres.

Instead, McAvoy roughed Jeff Skinner at 8:03, but Buffalo’s power play was cut short when Sam Reinhart tripped Clifton and sent the Bruins defender face first into the boards as a result.

The two squads skated at 4-on-4 for a little under 90 seconds as Reinhart cut a rut to the sin bin at 8:30 of the third period.

Moments later, Craig Smith caught Mattias Samuelsson with a high stick at 12:41, but Buffalo couldn’t muster anything on the power play.

Nor could the Sabres score when Nick Ritchie slashed Jacob Bryson at 16:59 and Lauzon followed his teammate in the box at 17:26 for roughing Victor Olofsson along the wall.

No, Buffalo, despite having a 6-on-3 advantage– having pulled Tokarski for an extra attacker– could not establish much of an attacking zone presence while on the power play late in the game.

The team looked all but defeated before they were, in fact, actually defeated.

At the final horn, not only had the Bruins killed off their minors, but they actually were on the power play as time expired since the Sabres had seven skaters on the ice while in possession of the puck at 19:06– yielding an automatic delay of game penalty for too many skaters.

At the final horn, Boston shutout Buffalo, 2-0, on the scoreboard and finished the night leading in shots on goal, 41-32, as well, despite the Sabres leading in shots in the third period alone, 17-14.

Buffalo finished the action leading in blocked shots (15-11), while the B’s wrapped up Tuesday night leading in hits (15-9) and faceoff win% (61-39).

Both teams had seven giveaways aside, while the Sabres were 0/6 and the Bruins were 0/4 on the power play.

Boston improved to 18-4-3 (9-4-1 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal, 15-0-2 (7-0-1 on the road) when leading after the first period and 17-0-2 (6-0-0 on the road) when leading after two periods this season.

Buffalo dropped to 5-22-2 (2-14-1 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 3-17-0 (1-11-0 at home) when trailing after one period and 1-23-2 (1-14-1 at home) when trailing after the second period in 2020-21.

The Bruins take on the Sabres in Buffalo on Thursday and Friday before venturing to Pittsburgh next week and hosting Buffalo to close out the month of April. Boston is 1-0-0 on their current five-game road trip.

Categories
Bruins Forecast NHL Nick's Net Projected Stats Tracker

Boston Bruins 2020-21 Forecast Through 40 Games

“The stretch” is here. No, not the 7th inning stretch. It’s the Push for the Playoffs™️ as the NHL on NBC broadcasts will tell you.

Sure, the Boston Bruins have played 43 games and this forecast is already a little behind, but this time of year is loaded with things to do, stats to track and storylines to follow.

At least it’s not as far behind as other forecasts I still owe.

Everything that you’re about to see is done by hand. Kind of.

Sure, it all started in Microsoft Excel then migrated over to a GoogleDoc one day, but the premise is the same– I have no idea what I am doing.

My degree is in communication and my minor was in sport management. As part of my “Gen Ed” requirement to graduate, I got a “C” in Intro to Stats. Later, one of my sport management professors taught me how to use the “forecast” function in Excel (shouts Dr. Lyons).

It’s been four years since being told to step out of line and wait off to the side while my school searched high and low to find my diploma only to realize that it had been on the table in front of them the whole time (yes, this is a true story– my roommate even called me wondering where the hell I was for pictures with everyone).

The rest is history. Let’s get to talking about Boston’s forecast through 40 games, shall we?

First year players are hard to predict (if not impossible altogether) until they’ve had some experience in the National Hockey League under their belts. At least a game will make do, though their numbers will look a tad inflated until more time goes by and reality sets in.

That’s just a blanket statement that usually comes with an example– like Zach Senyshyn in recent years– though after 40 team games in a 56-game regular season schedule, there’s not enough data (this season, forecasted or otherwise) to really point out where making bets on a young player’s forecasted stats might be inadvisable.

Forecast is not pace.

While looking things over in both this current forecast and previous editions, please remember that there’s many variables that can (and will) disrupt a player’s season like injuries, lineup changes (being a healthy scratch, taxi squad member or otherwise), other American Hockey League related or waiver related transactions, trades, sickness, COVID protocol and intangible things like general superstitions, hot and cold streaks, etc.

Sadly, nobody’s been able to find a way to quantify all of that in a forecast function 2.0. In a perfect world, every player plays a full season.

Every player can reach, exceed or miss expectations in an exciting game of collective actions and puck luck. Unpredictability is part of many reasons why we watch sports.


Boston Bruins Forecast Through 40 Games Played (16 Games Remaining)

Brad Marchand remains on track to receive Hart Memorial Trophy attention as he’s in the midst of having a strong pull in Boston’s playoff direction.

The Bruins winger is forecasted to have 23-38–61 totals when all is said and done in 2020-21, which would’ve put him on pace for about 90 points in a regular length 82-game season had the ongoing pandemic never happened.

For the first time this season, David Pastrnak (17-19–36 forecasted totals) is not forecasted to lead his team in goals.

Instead, Marchand and Patrice Bergeron (23-28–51 forecasted totals) are forecasted to split the team lead in goals with 23 each, while Pastrnak trails with the second-most (17).

Nick Ritchie and Craig Smith are on track for 13 and 12 goals, respectively, as some of the better components of Boston’s depth this season, while third line center, Charlie Coyle’s down year continues with seven forecasted goals this season, which… …actually isn’t that bad?

Sure, 2021 hasn’t been the best year for Coyle, but it seems like a “bad year” for Coyle works much in the same that a “bad year” does for David Krejci.

It’s not that Coyle and Krejci are superhuman, but rather just human.

Plus, Krejci has already surpassed the four goals that he was forecasted to score in this 40 team games played model. Relax, folks. Every year can’t be golden.

On defense, Charlie McAvoy leads the team in points from the blue line with 7-30–37 forecasted totals, while newcomer Mike Reilly continues to impress with 22 forecasted assists (that’ll probably be too few).

In the meantime, upon returning to full health, Matt Grzelcyk can carve out 19 points in a battered season for Boston’s defenders.

While Reilly is destined to continue being a playmaker from the back end, newly acquired forwards Taylor Hall and Curtis Lazar are each expected to contribute offensively with Hall forecasted for 30 points by season’s end alongside Krejci and Smith, while Lazar should be good for 12 points on the season from the fourth line.

Oh and as for the since departed Anders Bjork? Well, at the time of the trade, he was forecasted to produce eight points this season.

That said, with consistent ice time in a top-six role in Buffalo, the new Sabres forward could yield respectable double-digit totals in such a short timespan. Nothing crazy, but 10 points or more isn’t out of reach if he was already on track to get about eight.

As long as the Bruins’ new-found offense can continue to produce and spur bottom-six scoring, then there’s a good chance with enough time to heal that the B’s can reset themselves on course for a playoff run with something to prove.

Sure the 2021 Expansion Draft for the Seattle Kraken got a bit more complicated with pending-unrestricted free agents in Hall and Reilly added to the fold, but if this is truly it for Boston’s core with Bergeron, Krejci, Marchand and Tuukka Rask (Krejci and Rask also being pending-UFA’s) then the time is now to go all-in and go for it.

Rask (2.20-2.22 forecasted goals-against average, .919-.923 forecasted save percentage) is expected to be rejuvenated by a decreased workload due to injury and the emergence of a hot hand in Jeremy Swayman– Boston’s fourth-string goaltender that, along with Dan Vladar, has literally saved the season.

Upon Jaroslav Halak’s (2.43-2.46 forecasted goals-against average, .913-.917 forecasted save percentage) return from COVID protocol, there’s a chance the usual duo of netminders for the Bruins could show signs of rust as they ease back into the routine for the long run.

That’s where Swayman and his best case scenario 2.22 forecasted goals-against average and .926 forecasted save percentage can provide relief as the B’s workout a three goaltender rotation similar to the Carolina Hurricanes’ situation with Petr Mrazek, James Reimer and Alex Nedeljkovic.

Whether it was inevitable that the NHL as a whole adopts a three-goaltender system because goaltending tandems were already catching on or simply a product of the contemporary times in a pandemic whereby carrying a third goaltender becomes a necessity by default, it’s not a bad idea for Boston to assess what they’ve got for the future.

Next season could very well be Rask and Swayman in net if the Bruins re-sign No. 40 this summer as the Finnish goaltender has indicated he’d like to be part of Boston’s transition in the crease a la the days of the transfer in power from Tim Thomas to Rask himself.

For a look at how things might have gone for the Bruins entering the 2020-21 season, feel free to read the original forecast through zero games played and how things looked through 20 games played.

Categories
Bruins Forecast NHL Nick's Net Projected Stats Tracker

Boston Bruins 2020-21 Forecast Through 20 Games

O.K., so I’m still behind on some things around here.

Whether you’re new to DTFR or a long-time fan(?), you’re able to see the finished products around here and think “wow, that’s neat” and go about your day doing whatever the next thing on your mind happens to be.

You don’t have to wake up everyday to all the shot charts, player and team forecasts, expected points total models, Photoshop files, running list of game notes, podcast notes (yes, that’ll be back soon) and more that’s related to the day-to-day DTFR operations around here or other seemingly useless bits of information that may or may not see the light of day.

But that’s all the fun parts anyway. Hockey is my passion.

The long, grueling, season is counteracted by moments like Nathan MacKinnon underhand tossing Conor Garland’s helmet back to him and being fined $5,000 in the process.

Guess I’m going to have to start tracking how often that happens now.

In addition to everything mentioned above, you might not know that I’m constantly applying to jobs, so sometimes little things like this forecast write up gets put on the back burner until there’s a minute or two between games, guest appearances on other podcasts and more job applications.

Not trying to use anything as an excuse here, but please forgive me for being *checks notes* 15 games behind on the latest forecast, which will be irrelevant in another five games anyway, because it’ll be time to update Boston’s forecast through 40 games this season.

I do this all by hand in Microsoft Excel, so you know I’m not a real mathematician or statistician.

If you ask me to code something, I’ll ask you “what ‘R‘ you talking about? Get it? Did you see the pun I made there? Words, am I right?”

15 games ago, I updated each individual Bruins player’s forecast after writing my recap about Zdeno Chara’s first game back in Boston as a member of the Washington Capitals then eventually got around to updating the corresponding chart that you’ll see below.

Then I had to do that for whatever other teams I’ve been able to keep track of on time and I promise I’ll be writing about those forecasts… …eventually.

Oh and apply to more jobs.

Anyway, you probably don’t care about the life behind the screen, so let’s get to Boston’s forecast through 20 games, shall we?

As always, remember that my degree is in communication and my minor was in sport management. I got a “C” in my Intro to Stats class back in my first semester of college, which was eight years ago this fall.

Between then and now, I’ve worked in live sports production (TV and radio) and been unemployed, which explains why I’m constantly applying to jobs.

First year players are impossible to predict until they’ve built up some time in the National Hockey League. Generally at least a game will suffice, but their numbers might look a little “inflated” (for the lack of a better term) until the season rolls on and their expectations fall back to Earth.

In other words, Zach Senyshyn is now forecasted for 18 assists in this latest forecast, but that shouldn’t surprise you since he only had two assists in six career NHL games over the last two seasons.

That will change in the 40-game update, since he’s played in at least seven more games between the time this report was originally intended to be done and the next one.

Remember that forecast is different from pace.

Finally, remember that there’s a lot of variables, like injuries, being a healthy scratch or on the taxi squad, other American Hockey League related or waiver related transactions, trades, sickness, COVID protocol, general superstitions, hot and cold streaks, etc. that can (whether scientifically proven or not) disrupt a player’s season.

None of these can be accounted for in Microsoft Excel’s forecast function.

In a perfect world, everyone plays a full season. Every player has a chance to live up to expectations, hit and/or exceed their mark or miss it by a little/a lot.

Hockey is a game made up of collective actions and sheer puck luck. It’s unpredictable, which technically defeats the purpose of this (so if you’ve made it this far, give yourself a pat on the back).


Boston Bruins Forecast Through 20 Games (36 Games Remaining)

David Pastrnak came back from offseason surgery and looked like he hadn’t missed a step, since his scoring prowess left an immediate impact on the team and kept him forecasted as the team’s leader in goals by season’s end with 26, though Boston’s forecasted points leader has now shifted from Pastrnak to Brad Marchand.

Marchand’s forecasted 23-31–54 totals lead Pastrnak’s 26-26–52 totals, while B’s captain, Patrice Bergeron is on track to round out the top-3 in scoring with 20-30–50 forecasted totals– good enough for the second-most assists on the roster, one behind Marchand’s 31 and three ahead of David Krejci’s forecasted 27 assists.

It’ll be fun to see just how much things have changed in the next forecast, since Krejci’s gone off in the assist department lately and Marchand missed a couple of games due to COVID protocol, but let’s save that speculation (or hindsight) for the 40-game report, O.K.?

On defense, Charlie McAvoy continues to lead the way with 7-29–36 forecasted totals, while Matt Grzelcyk (13 points) and Jakub Zboril (12 points) are the only other defenders expected to reach double-digit points totals.

That’s quite an area of concern for the Bruins.

Not so much in the “oh no, who might get taken by the Seattle Kraken in the 2021 Expansion Draft” sense, but rather, the general “oh no, this team is not as good as they were last year, but we expected that, so they still need to acquire a defender and more at the trade deadline this year” sense (especially if one of the younger blue liners like Zboril, Jeremy Lauzon or Urho Vaakanainen aren’t developing as fast or as well as Boston desires).

Nevertheless, what might be more pressing than ever before is the question of what comes next after Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak?

Rask (2.27-2.37 forecasted goals-against average, .914-.921 forecasted save percentage) is expected to have decent numbers this season if he can make a return to full health, while Halak (2.45-2.48 forecasted GAA, .910-.916 forecasted SV%) looks solid for a backup.

Yet, at the time of this writing, both goaltenders are out of Boston’s lineup– Rask due to injury and Halak due to COVID protocol.

Stay tuned for first impressions on Dan Vladar and Jeremy Swayman in the next forecast and what that might mean for the offseason’s plans with both Rask and Halak as pending-unrestricted free agents.

For a look at how things might have gone for the Bruins entering the 2020-21 season, feel free to read the original forecast through zero games played.

Categories
NHL Nick's Net

B’s return to action in, 4-3, overtime loss to Isles

For the first time in a week, the Boston Bruins played a regular season game after COVID protocols postponed two games and shut down their facilities until Wednesday.

Thursday night in front of roughly 2,100 fans in TD Garden, the Bruins lost, 4-3, to the New York Islanders in overtime.

Anthony Beauvillier scored the game-winning goal 21 seconds into the extra frame, while Semyon Varlamov (14-6-3, 2.20 goals-against average, .923 save percentage in 23 games played) made 29 saves on 32 shots against in the win for the Islanders.

Bruins goaltender, Tuukka Rask (8-4-2, 2.41 goals-against average, .907 save percentage in 15 games played) made six saves on six shots faced before leaving the game after the first period due to an upper body injury.

Jaroslav Halak (7-4-3, 2.25 goals-against average, .915 save percentage in 14 games played) stopped 17 out of 21 shots faced in the overtime loss in relief of Rask.

Boston fell to 16-8-5 (37 points) overall and remained in 4th place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while New York improved to 22-8-4 (48 points) and remained in command of the division lead.

The B’s also dropped to 0-3-2 against the Isles this season.

After Sean Kuraly was placed in COVID protocol prior to last Thursday’s game on March 18th in Buffalo, four more Bruins forwards joined the league’s COVID list prior to Wednesday night’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena.

Kuraly and Jake DeBrusk remained in COVID protocol entering Thursday night’s matchup with the Islanders, while David Pastrnak, David Krejci and Craig Smith were cleared from COVID protocol and did not miss Thursday night’s action against New York.

Rask returned after missing the last six games due to an injury, but left the game after the first period, while Jarred Tinordi also returned to Boston’s lineup after missing one game due to an upper body injury sustained on March 16th in Pittsburgh.

Trent Frederic didn’t miss a beat, despite uncertainty entering Wednesday night’s practice.

Meanwhile, Boston was without the services of Ondrej Kase (upper body), Kevan Miller (knee), Jeremy Lauzon (hand), Brandon Carlo (upper body), Zach Senyshyn (upper body) and John Moore (undisclosed) on Thursday.

Urho Vaakanainen, Oskar Steen and Jeremy Swayman were reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Thursday, while Callum Booth was recalled to Boston’s taxi squad.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, rolled out Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Pastrnak as his usual first line with Nick Ritchie, Krejci and Smith rounding out his top-six forwards.

Anders Bjork, Charlie Coyle and Karson Kuhlman comprised of the third line, while Frederic suited up on the left side of Greg McKegg on the fourth line with Chris Wagner at right wing.

On defense, Matt Grzelcyk was suited up with Charlie McAvoy on the first pairing, while Jakub Zboril and Connor Clifton rounded out the top-four defenders.

Tinordi was back in his usual role on the left side of the third pairing with Steven Kampfer as his partner.

Senyshyn, Jack Studnicka, Carlo, Moore, Kase, Kuraly, Jack Ahcan, Lauzon, Booth, DeBrusk, Dan Vladar and Miller were all members of Boston’s list of healthy scratches, injured and/or taxi squad members.

Early in the first period, Mathew Barzal took a stick to the face and drew blood, leading the on-ice officials to think that Grzelcyk caught the Islanders forward with his stick.

Boston braced for a four-minute penalty kill, but in accordance with the new rule to review whether or not a high stick was indeed a high stick or just an errant stick from a teammate, replay determined that Jordan Eberle had accidentally caught Barzal with his stick, thus rendering no penalty on the Bruins defender.

In short, Eberle hit his own teammate in the face with his stick.

Midway through the opening frame, Kuhlman (1) fired a shot from the faceoff dot to the right of the New York netminder over Varlamov’s glove on the far side to give Boston the first lead of the night, 1-0, at 11:42 of the first period.

McAvoy (15) and Bjork (3) tallied the assists on Kuhlman’s goal– his first of the season, as well as his first in 397 days.

Moments later, Casey Cizikas tripped Clifton and presented Boston with the first power play of the night at 15:37 of the opening frame.

Just as the power play was about to expire, Kampfer (1) blasted a shot from outside the dot over Varlamov’s blocker side to give the Bruins a two-goal lead.

McAvoy (16) and Krejci (16) tallied the assists on Kampfer’s power-play goal as the B’s led, 2-0, at 17:35. It was also his first goal in 732 days.

Less than a minute later, Boston went back on the skater advantage when Michael Dal Colle tripped McAvoy at 18:13.

This time, however, New York’s penalty kill managed to kill Dal Colle’s minor infraction without any mishaps.

Entering the first intermission, the Bruins led, 2-0, on the scoreboard and, 10-6, in shots on goal.

Boston also held the advantage in blocked shots (4-2) and faceoff win percentage (63-38), while the Islanders led in takeaways (3-1) and giveaways (4-3).

Both teams had nine hits aside after 20 minutes of action.

New York had yet to see any time on the power play, while the Bruins were 1/2 on the skater advantage.

The B’s tweeted that Rask would not return to the game with an upper body injury and Halak made his entrance to kick things off for the middle period.

Scott Mayfield caught Bergeron with a high stick and drew blood– yielding a double minor infraction at 3:12 of the second period, but Boston was not able to convert on their extended power play opportunity.

Instead, shortly after his release from the penalty box, Mayfield contributed the primary assist on Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s (11) rebound goal to cut the Bruins’ lead in half, 2-1, at 7:21 of the second period.

Mayfield (7) and Leo Komarov (3) notched the assists on Pageau’s sixth point in five games against Boston this season.

Pageau finished Thursday’s game with a goal and two assists on the night, extending his totals to 5-3–8 in five games against the Bruins in 2020-21 so far.

Through 40 minutes of play at TD Garden on Thursday, the Bruins maintained a, 2-1, lead on the scoreboard, as well as a, 23-18, advantage in shots on goal, including a, 13-12, advantage in the second period alone.

New York led in blocked shots (7-6) and hits (21-16), while Boston led in takeaways (4-3) and faceoff win% (57-43).

Both teams had five giveaways each through two periods.

The Islanders had yet to see any action on the skater advantage, while the Bruins slumped to 1/4 on the power play.

Early in the final frame, Josh Bailey (5) worked a give-and-go to his advantage for a blocker side goal while entering the slot to tie the game, 2-2, at 4:33 of the third period.

Brock Nelson (7) and Nick Leddy (21) had the assists as the Isles took momentum and ran.

Marchand provided the Islanders with their first power play of the night eight minutes into the final frame of regulation for holding against Adam Pelech.

The Islanders did not convert on their only skater advantage of the night, however.

Late in the period, Oliver Wahlstrom (9) pounced on a puck that bounced off of Halak and Krejci to an open spot on the doorstep– giving New York their first lead of the night, 3-2, at 17:04.

Pageau (11) and Beauvillier (5) tallied the assists on Wahlstrom’s go-ahead goal, but the Bruins tied things back up less than a minute later when Bjork (2) sent a one-timer past Varlamov at 17:58.

Coyle won a battle down low and wrapped behind the net before connecting on the pass to his Bruins teammate.

Bjork’s goal knotted things up, 4-4, on the scoreboard, while Coyle (4) and Wagner (2) tallied the assists.

Heading into the overtime period, the Bruins and Islanders were tied, 4-4, on the scoreboard, despite Boston holding a, 32-25, advantage in shots on goal, including a, 9-7, advantage in the third period alone.

New York led in blocked shots (13-9), takeaways (6-4) and hits (29-25), while the B’s led in faceoff win% (57-44).

Both teams had seven giveaways each, while the Isles finished 0/1 and the Bruins went 1/4 on the night on the power play as no penalties were called in overtime.

Islanders head coach, Barry Trotz, elected to start Pageau, Beauvillier and Leddy– his biggest performers of the night in overtime, while Cassidy countered with Coyle, Bjork and Grzelcyk– equally his brightest stars on a night featuring rare depth scoring from the bottom six for Boston.

Just 21 seconds into overtime, however, the Bruins were no match for the Islanders’ talent.

Leddy fired a shot, Halak made the initial save, but he surrendered a rebound in the crease and was slow to spot the loose puck before Beauvillier (5) crashed the net and cashed in on the game-winning goal.

Leddy (22) and Pageau (12) had the assists as the Islanders won, 4-3, in overtime in front of Boston’s first home game with fans in attendance since the pandemic began last year.

New York finished the night with the win, despite Boston finishing the night with the final advantage in shots on goal, 32-27.

The Islanders wrapped up Thursday night leading in blocked shots (13-9) and hits (29-25), while the Bruins led in faceoff win% (56-44).

Both teams finished the game with seven giveaways each as the B’s dropped to 3-3 in overtime this season (5-5 past regulation overall).

New York improved to 2-3 in overtime and 4-4 past 60 minutes overall in 2020-21.

The Bruins dropped to 12-3-3 (6-0-2 at home) when scoring the game’s first goal, while the Isles improved to 8-7-2 (3-6-2 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal this season.

Boston also fell to 9-0-2 (5-0-1 at home) when leading after the first period and 10-0-1 (6-0-1 at home) when leading after two periods this season.

New York, meanwhile, improved to 4-3-2 (1-3-2 on the road) when trailing after one period and 3-6-1 (3-5-1 on the road) when losing through two periods this season.

Additionally, for the first time this season, the B’s lost a game when leading by two or more goals at any time in the action, falling to 9-0-1 in that department as a result.

The Bruins host the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday afternoon in Boston before welcoming the New Jersey Devils on Sunday and next Tuesday to close out the month of March before hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins in a pair of games to kick off April.