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Bruins thrash Capitals in, 7-3, road victory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Before long, however, the Capitals became undisciplined.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Washington Capitals 2021-22 Season Preview

2020-21 record 36-15-5, 77 points

2nd in the MassMutual NHL East Division

Eliminated in the First Round by Boston

Additions: F Michael Vecchione, D Matt Irwin, D Dylan McIlrath, G Hunter Shepard

Subtractions: F Daniel Carr (NL), F Phillippe Maillet (KHL), F Michael Raffl (signed with DAL), D Zdeno Chara (signed with NYI), D Brenden Dillon (traded to WPG), D Paul LaDue (signed with NYI), G Craig Anderson (signed with BUF), G Henrik Lundqvist (retired)

Still Unsigned: D Cameron Schilling

Re-signed: F Axel Jonsson-Fjällby, F Shane Gersich, F Beck Malenstyn, F Alex Ovechkin, F Garrett Pilon, F Michael Sgarbossa, F Joe Snively, D Lucas Johansen, D Bobby Nardella, G Ilya Samsonov

Where do I put him? G Vitek Vanecek (expansion, SEA, acquired from SEA, then re-signed)

Offseason Analysis: The Capitals keep telling themselves they can win another Stanley Cup title in the Alex Ovechkin Era, but after three-straight years of First Round exits– most recently in five games to the Boston Bruins– despite being the higher seed in each case might tell you something.

This team is getting old.

The core isn’t as young as they used to be and now Washington is scrambling to piece together some semblance of a run, which will undoubtedly cost them valuable pieces of their youth if they let it go to their heads– as already seen by trading Jakub Vrana for Anthony Mantha at the deadline.

Though it may be unpopular with fans, it would’ve made more sense to try to get T.J. Oshie to submit a list of teams he wouldn’t agree to be traded to and try to save yourself $5.750 million per season through 2024-25 that you could spend elsewhere.

Caps General Manager, Brian MacLellan, didn’t have much to do this summer, because Washington is sticking with their guns whether it works or not.

They’ve tried it before– though with minor recurring character changes– and somehow it worked in 2018, surely it can happen all over again!

MacLellan was more focused on signing Ovechkin to an extension.

Despite the superstar forward’s scoring prowess, he is 36-years-old. That’s not to say that he won’t be able to usurp Wayne Gretzky for the most goals in National Hockey League history– especially if he plays for another 10 years– but it is worth noting that it’s generally not a good idea to hand out a five-year extension worth $9.500 million per season.

That’s sealing your fate right there.

Washington could win another Cup and everything is forgiven or Ovechkin’s cap hit comes back to bite the Capitals in the long run, regardless of increases in the cap ceiling down the road.

Ovechkin could get hurt. Then what?

Sure, there’s the long term injured reserve, but what if he can never play again? Now you’re out of your best talent and the rest of the supporting cast isn’t good enough to carry the show on their own, like The Office after Steve Carell left.

Think about it.

A 40-year-old player with a $9.500 million cap hit is unheard of– especially in the salary cap era. Luckily for the Caps, Ovechkin is only 36-years-old for now.

If Ovechkin would’ve been fine with a two or three-year extension worth even just a $500,000 less per season than his current cap hit– you offer that extension.

Once it starts reaching long-term status, that’s when negotiations should’ve gone from “whatever you want” to “whatever you want, within reason”.

Whether Ovechkin stays or leaves is ultimately “whatever he wants” and, ultimately, the same is true with his new extension.

Who knows, maybe in three years, Ovechkin will request a trade or something. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Anyway, the Seattle Kraken took Vitek Vanecek in the expansion draft only to turn around and trade him back to Washington for a 2023 2nd round pick a week later.

At least the social media teams had fun with it.

Seattle got what they wanted from elsewhere and yielded a 2023 2nd round pick in the process, while Washington just… …opened the door and let him back inside from the rain.

Vanecek went 21-10-4 in 37 games with a 2.69 goals-against average, a .908 save percentage and two shutouts in that span last season while emerging as the de facto starting goaltender for the Capitals after Ilya Samsonov had bouts on the COVID-19 protocol list interspersed with some inconsistent play.

Samsonov went 13-4-1 in 19 games with a 2.69 goals-against average, a .902 save percentage and two shutouts in that span. In 2019-20, he went 16-6-2 in 26 games, amassing a 2.55 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage as well as one shutout.

While both goaltenders are considered viable at the NHL level in Washington, there’s going to be a larger sample size to analyze which one is really better in the long run.

There’s also no safety net if the healthy competition goes awry and with roughly $668,740 in cap space, things could get ugly– and fast.

It’s not like the Capitals are teetering on the edge of a rebuild, but one more year of a First Round exit might thrust them into reactionary maneuvers instead of carefully crafting an exit strategy into a seamless transition from the old core to a new core– whatever that may be.

Craig Anderson, Zdeno Chara and Brenden Dillon are gone.

Anderson was going to retire until the Buffalo Sabres remembered they needed to sign a couple of goaltenders to play in the upcoming season like. Chara went back to the New York Islanders.

Dillon, meanwhile, was traded to the Winnipeg Jets on July 26th for a 2022 2nd round pick and a 2023 2nd round pick, so that seems like a pretty good selling point for a defender that fell victim to the Caps’ cap crunch.

The offense remains the same, the defense is intact and the goaltending leaves a little something to be desired.

Washington proved the hockey world wrong when many said they should dismantle the team heading into the 2017-18 season. Can they recreate that magic again?

Offseason Grade: C-

Ovechkin might have signed a lucrative deal for a player over 35, but Washington’s tight squeeze against the salary cap isn’t the biggest question right now.

Whereas when Braden Holtby began his regression to his present-day form with the Dallas Stars, Samsonov was just a young backup getting a pass for a respectable 2.55 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage in roughly 1/4 of the season.

That was in 2019-20, when Holtby had a 25-14-6 record in 48 games with a 3.11 goals-against average, an .897 save percentage and no shutouts in that span.

When one goalie faltered, the other goalie could step in and fill a hole.

Entering 2021-22, Samsonov and Vanecek have both shown the same results. The former, however, may play a bit too aggressive, while the latter is more tactical in style– as long as he’s healthy, but nevertheless each had a 2.69 goals-against average in their respective stints last season.

There’s no clear-cut winner for the starting job from day one. At the very least, that’ll be good motivation for whoever wants it more.

Other than that, Washington shouldn’t be too worried about regular season results. It’s when it really counts that matters (so… …making it out of the First Round).

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Seattle Kraken 2021-22 Season Preview

2020-21 record 0-0-0, 0 points

Making their debut in the Pacific Division

Newest expansion team entering their 1st season

Additions: F Mason Appleton (from WPG), F Nathan Bastian (from NJD), F Colin Blackwell (from NYR), F Joonas Donskoi (from COL), F Jordan Eberle (from NYI), F Yanni Gourde (from TBL), F Morgan Geekie (from CAR), F Luke Henman, F Calle Järnkrok (from NSH), F Marcus Johansson (UFA from MIN), F Jared McCann (from TOR), F Jaden Schwartz (UFA from STL), F Brandon Tanev (from PIT), F Alexander Wennberg (UFA from FLA), D Connor Carrick (UFA from NJD), D Mark Giordano (from CGY), D Haydn Fleury (from ANA), D Adam Larsson (from EDM), D Jeremy Lauzon (from BOS), D Jamie Oleksiak (from DAL), D Gustav Olofsson (UFA from MTL), D Carson Soucy (from MIN), G Antoine Bibeau (UFA from COL), G Joey Daccord (from OTT), G Chris Driedger (from FLA), G Philipp Grubauer (UFA from COL)

Subtractions: F Tyler Pitlick (traded to CGY), F John Quenneville (NL), D Gavin Bayreuther (signed with CBJ), D Kurtis MacDermid (traded to COL), G Vitek Vanecek (traded to WSH)

Still Unsigned: D Dennis Cholowski (from DET)

Re-signed: F Kole Lind (from VAN), F Alexander True (from SJS), F Carsen Twarynski (from PHI), D Will Borgen (from BUF), D Vince Dunn (from STL), D Cale Fleury (from MTL)

Offseason Analysis: The NHL’s newest franchise is set to take to the ice for their first season on Oct. 12th as the Kraken pay a visit to the Vegas Golden Knights to kickoff a five-game road trip before hosting the Vancouver Canucks on Oct. 16th in the first home game in the freshly renovated Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle.

Vegas didn’t do Seattle any favors in terms of establishing new-age expansion team expectations, since the Golden Knights found a way to make the 2018 Stanley Cup Final in their first season, but Kraken fans are just happy to have a professional hockey team competing for the Cup back in the city for the first time since the Seattle Metropolitans folded in 1924.

The Kraken are going to draw many comparisons to the Golden Knights despite adopting different strategies in roster compesition.

Vegas hit the ground running with a “win now” mentality, while Seattle’s built to grind their opponents down by rolling four lines similar to how the New York Islanders play a modified version of “the trap”.

Kraken General Manager, Ron Francis, has a great scouting department down the hall and knows how to construct a foundation for the future.

Francis’ track record as the General Manager of the Carolina Hurricanes prior to Don Waddell’s arrival saw the likes of Martin Neceas, Morgan Geekie, Jake Bean, Julien Gauthier, Noah Hanifin, Sebastian Aho, Nicolas Roy, Haydn Fleury, Alex Nedeljkovic, Warren Foegele, Lucas Wallmark, Elias Lindholm, Brett Pesce, Brock McGinn and Jaccob Slavin rise through the ranks to the NHL– whether they still remain in a Canes uniform or not.

The future is bright for Seattle, while Dave Hakstol is getting a second chance behind the bench of an NHL team after a brief stint as an assistant coach with the Toronto Maple Leafs most recently.

Hakstol’s time as the head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers followed the rollercoaster that the organization’s been stuck in since Ron Hextall vacated the net.

One year showed promise, the next year was average, but then Hakstol and the team found another gear and were on the rise again– finishing 3rd in the Metropolitan Division in 2017-18, before his ultimate downfall and firing– though Philadelphia’s revolving door of goaltenders may have been a contribution.

Yanni Gourde had 17-19–36 totals in 56 games with the Tampa Bay Lightning last season en route to back-to-back Stanley Cup championships.

He will miss the start of the 2021-22 season, though, which could put a damper on the expectations that he’ll be a breakout player in a Kraken uniform.

That said, glue guys like Joonas Donskoi, Alexander Wennberg, Brandon Tanev and Mason Appleton should compliment the roster well and help fill the void, while Jordan Eberle and Jaden Schwartz work on solidifying a top-six forward group.

On defense, Mark Giordano provides a touch of leadership and experience with Jamie Oleksiak and Adam Larsson on an otherwise young blue line filled with the likes of Will Borgen, Vince Dunn, Haydn Fleury and Jeremy Lauzon.

In the crease, Seattle signed Philipp Grubauer after selecting Chris Driedger, Vitek Vanecek (later traded back to the Washington Capitals) and Joey Daccord in the expansion draft.

Driedger was the expected starter until Grubauer came along and left the Colorado Avalanche after the last three seasons.

Grubauer had seven shutouts to go with his 30-9-1 record in 40 games played last season, as well as a 1.95 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage in that span.

While Driedger’s 2.07 goals-against average and .927 save percentage was pretty great for the Florida Panthers last season, his 14-6-3 record and three shutouts pale in comparison to Grubauer.

That said, the two should make a dynamic duo as one of the most promising goaltending tandems on paper entering the 2021-22 season.

Seattle may or may not make the playoffs in their first season, but they’re sure to be better than a lot of expansion teams before the Golden Knights came around and flipped the script.

Offseason Grade: B-

Both the Golden Knights and the Kraken benefitted from some of the most generous expansion draft rules in league history– though Seattle dealt with the aftermath of Vegas’ wrath in swindling other teams via side deals in 2017, and couldn’t make a trade at the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft itself as a result.

Admit it, you would’ve taken Alex Ovechkin, Carey Price, Gabriel Landeskog and Vladimir Tarasenko if they were made available to you in an NHL 22 fantasy draft– salary cap be damned.

But that’s just it– a fantasy.

Even Vegas was laughed at for some of their expansion draft choices, but both the Golden Knights and Kraken experienced quite a turnover between when they filled out a roster for the first time on paper and when they hit the ice.

For having to put together a team from scratch, Francis didn’t do a bad job. For trying to win a Cup in their first season, well, the jury’s still out on that one, Seattle.

In any case, the city has more Stanley Cup rings before the Kraken even existed than 11 other current NHL teams thanks to the Metropolitans winning it all as the first American team to win the Cup in 1917.

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2021 NHL Expansion Draft Results

The Seattle Kraken announced the results of the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft Wednesday night outdoors at Gas Works Park in Seattle, Washington on ESPN2 in the United States and Sportsnet in Canada, despite several NHL Insiders getting a hold of Seattle’s selections shortly after the Kraken turned in their picks to the league on Wednesday morning.

Seattle had to meet several requirements and select no more than one player from 30 out of the 31 other NHL franchises as the Vegas Golden Knights were exempted from the league’s latest round of expansion.

The Kraken had to draft at least 14 forwards, nine defenders and three goaltenders with a minimum of 20 players under contract for 2021-22 while being between 60-100% of the NHL’s $81.500 million salary cap in the process.

Kraken General Manager, Ron Francis, was allowed to talk to exposed pending-free agents prior to the draft and secured a few contracts in the process– thereby selecting said players as a result and counting towards the 30-player roster in the expansion draft.

Seattle’s selections were announced by division in alphabetical order by team, starting with the Boston Bruins of the Atlantic Division and so on until they finished the night with the teams that makeup the Pacific Division.

We’ve taken the liberty of sorting the draft results by forwards, defenders and goaltenders in the order they were announced.

This post will be updated with stats and information on each player after the draft.

Forwards

Tampa Bay Lightning– C Yanni Gourde

Toronto Maple Leafs– C Jared McCann

Carolina Hurricanes– C Morgan Geekie

New Jersey Devils– RW Nathan Bastian

New York Islanders– RW Jordan Eberle

New York Rangers– C Colin Blackwell

Philadelphia Flyers– LW Carsen Twarynski

Pittsburgh Penguins– LW Brandon Tanev

Arizona Coyotes– C Tyler Pitlick

Chicago– LW/C John Quenneville

Colorado Avalanche– RW Joonas Donskoi

Nashville Predators– C Calle Jarnkrok

Winnipeg Jets– LW Mason Appleton

San Jose Sharks– C Alex True

Vancouver Canucks– RW Kole Lind

Defenders

Boston Bruins– Jeremy Lauzon

Buffalo Sabres– Will Borgen

Detroit Red Wings– Dennis Cholowski

Montréal Canadiens– Cale Fleury

Columbus Blue Jackets– Gavin Bayreuther

Dallas Stars– Jamie Oleksiak

Minnesota Wild– Carson Soucy

St. Louis Blues– Vince Dunn

Anaheim Ducks– Haydn Fleury

Calgary Flames– Mark Giordano

Edmonton Oilers– Adam Larsson

Los Angeles Kings– Kurtis MacDermid

Goaltenders

Florida Panthers– Chris Driedger

Ottawa Senators– Joey Daccord

Washington Capitals– Vitek Vanecek

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Let’s pretend to be the Seattle Kraken

The 2021 NHL Expansion Draft welcomes the Seattle Kraken to the league as its 32nd member club Wednesday night at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2 in the United States and Sportsnet in Canada.

Because of a lot going on right now, this mock expansion draft got delayed until the day of the actual draft and ultimately is arbitrary. If there’s even one prediction right here, then Kraken General Manager, Ron Francis, apparently reads DTFR.

We’ll make that assumption, thank you very much.

Seattle has run numerous mock drafts at this point and gone through many scenarios, but who would’ve imagined that players like Alex Ovechkin, Ondrej Palat and more would be available?

Of course, keep in mind that the Kraken have to spend between 60-100% of the previous season’s salary cap ($81.500 million).

For the sake of keeping things simple here, we’ve provided some built-in scenarios that would allow Seattle to be cap compliant as a result of the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft.

The Kraken will be selecting one player from 30 NHL clubs as the Vegas Golden Knights are exempt from this round of expansion. The 30 other teams had the option to protect seven forwards, three defenders and one goaltender or any combination of eight skaters and one goaltender.

For more on the protection and exposure requirements, check out the protected lists and 2021 NHL Expansion Draft rules.

The majority of this was written before the leaked selections were revealed, so let’s just pretend we’re all in an alternate universe for a bit longer.

ANAHEIM DUCKS

LD/RD Haydn Fleury

25-years-old, 1 year left, $1.300 million cap hit

Fleury was dealt to Anaheim at the trade deadline as the Carolina Hurricanes feared they would probably lose him anyway to former Canes GM Ron Francis at the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft.

Turns out their fears were based in reality as the Ducks experience déjà vu that harkens back to when they lost Shea Theodore to the Golden Knights in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft.

Fleury had 3-1–4 totals in 47 games for Anaheim and Carolina in 2020-21.

ARIZONA COYOTES

RW/LW Christian Fischer

24, 1 year left, $1.000 million cap hit

Fischer (3-8–11 totals in 52 games) is a safe bet for Seattle as he’s entering his prime and carries a low-risk, high-reward type of contract with the expectation that he could blossom into an attractive bottom-six forward.

It’s either that, or he’ll be a sweetener in another transaction as the deadline approaches if there’s a team looking to bolster their depth.

BOSTON BRUINS

LD/RD Connor Clifton

26, 2 years left, $1.000 million cap hit

Boston is more than likely going to lose a defender– whether it’s Clifton, Jeremy Lauzon or Jakub Zboril– rather than a forward, like Nick Ritchie, for example. Between Clifton and Lauzon, the Kraken can’t go wrong.

If they’d prefer the younger of the two, then Lauzon is your choice. Of course, if Seattle is looking for an NHL ready bottom-pairing and/or seventh defender, then look no further than the hard-hitting Clifton (1-6–7 totals in 44 games) despite his 5-foot-11, 175-pound frame.

BUFFALO SABRES

LD Jake McCabe

27, pending-unrestricted free agent, $2.850 million cap hit in 2020-21

Like more than a few players in Buffalo this offseason, McCabe could benefit from a change of scenery and can be best utilized as a bottom-pairing or depth defender.

Perhaps the Kraken can’t come to an agreement on a new contract or they find a way to flip him at the Expansion Draft– ether way, Seattle’s looking to get more out of his 1-2–3 totals in 13 games in 2020-21.

CALGARY FLAMES

LD Mark Giordano

37, 1 year remaining, $6.750 million cap hit

Though Seattle wouldn’t go wrong with either Milan Lucic or Giordano in terms of drafting leadership out of the Flames’ dressing room, it turns out the Kraken liked the Golden Knights’ model enough and pried a veteran defender out of Calgary to lead the first generation Kraken roster.

With 26 points (nine goals, 17 assists) in 56 games in 2020-21, a Mark Messier Leadership Award and a James Norris Memorial Trophy under his belt in 2019-20 and 2018-19, respectively, Giordano’s had a late career resurgence and could prove to be an effective piece on Seattle’s blue line.

CAROLINA HURRICANES

RD Dougie Hamilton

28, pending-UFA, $5.750 million cap hit in 2020-21

Hamilton arrived to Carolina after Francis left the organization, but that doesn’t rule out the six degrees of Kevin Bacon factor here, which allows the Kraken to select the right-shot defender that had 10-32–42 totals in 55 games this season.

Though he’s a pending-UFA, Seattle has the space to get creative with either a new contract or the ability to trade his negotiating rights for more assets before free agency begins on July 28th.

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS

LD/RD Calvin de Haan

30, 1 year left, $4.550 million cap hit

de Haan’s (1-9–10 totals in 44 games) been a journeyman for three out of the last four seasons having gone from the New York Islanders in 2017-18, to the Hurricanes in 2018-19, then Chicago from 2019-present.

He’d either play a bigger role with Seattle or would continue wracking up the airline rewards points by being used as trade bait for another club in the offseason similar to how the Golden Knights used Marc Methot and David Schlemko in their Expansion Draft year.

COLORADO AVALANCHE

LW/C Gabriel Landeskog

28, pending-UFA, $5.571 million cap hit in 2020-21

Vegas was wheeling and dealing at the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft and Seattle will likely be doing the same in this year’s 2021 NHL Expansion Draft, so why not take a chance on Landeskog and see what happens?

At best, he sticks around. At worst, you trade his negotiating rights before July 28th or play it safe and claim Joonas Donskoi instead to provide yourself with some quality top-nine forward depth.

Landeskog, however, brings his 20-32–52 totals in 54 games this season, as well as his leadership qualities as the current captain in Colorado to Seattle if he were to sign a long-term extension to guide the Kraken through their formative years. He’d be the surefire captain for the new club, no doubt.

COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS

C/LW Max Domi

26, 1 year left, $5.300 million cap hit

Columbus took a gamble and it didn’t pay off as Domi’s 44 points (17 goals, 27 assists) in 71 games with the Montréal Canadiens in 2019-20, faltered to 24 points (nine goals, 15 assists) in 54 games with the Blue Jackets in 2020-21.

As such, Domi was exposed to the elements and that’s where the Kraken come in to take a flyer on a top-six forward looking for the right system and something to be built around. If all else fails, it’s only one season to get Seattle off the ground and provide a spark.

DALLAS STARS

LD/RD Andrej Sekera

35, 1 year left, $1.500 million cap hit

Sekera’s five points (three goals, two assists) in 46 games won’t be attracting any buyers for his offensive capabilities from the point, but if it’s a shutdown defender that can play throughout the lineup you need, then he’ll come in handy as a Swiss Army knife of sorts.

If the Kraken trade from the rest of their plethora of defenders and Sekera remains, it’s not the end of the world. If Seattle sends him packing after claiming him from Dallas, then the Stars won’t have lost that much for nothing with bigger fish to fry.

Either that or the Kraken could just snag Jamie Oleksiak and call it a day.

DETROIT RED WINGS

RW/LW/C Vladislav Namestnikov

28, 1 year left, $2.000 million cap hit

Remember when Namestnikov was a household name in a Tampa Bay Lightning uniform? Or when he was a New York Ranger? These days, it seems like he’s been everywhere– especially since he’s suited up for the Rangers, Ottawa Senators, Colorado Avlanche and Red Wings in the last two seasons.

His best season came in 2017-18, when he amassed 48 points between the Lightning and Rangers in 81 games played, but Namestnikov only managed 8-9–17 totals in 53 games with Detroit this season.

At $2.000 million for one season, he’s a suitable asset in your bottom-six forward group with a low-cost, high-reward 30-40 point potential at best or easy to move at the deadline at worst.

EDMONTON OILERS

RD Adam Larsson

28, pending-UFA, $4.167 million cap hit in 2020-21

Larsson (4-6–10 totals in 56 games) is sure to hit the open market on July 28th, but if the Kraken find themselves in position to stake their claim to his negotiating rights and sign him before anyone else can even submit an offer it wouldn’t be unwise.

At best, Seattle lands a top-four defender. At worst, they avoid having to take something else from the Oilers. James Neal likely isn’t getting another call from an expansion team this time around and Kyle Turris might be the only decent cheap contract if he can find his game again.

FLORIDA PANTHERS

G Chris Driedger

27, pending-UFA, $850,000 cap hit in 2020-21

Seattle was enchanted by his emergence in the last couple of seasons and with Spencer Knight coming out of the shadows behind Sergei Bobrovksy’s contract in Florida, Driedger finds himself hitting the open waters of Puget Sound and/or free agency.

Whether or not Driedger’s 14-6-3 record, 2.07 goals-against average and .9217 save percentage in 23 games (23 starts, three shutouts) is a promising sign of things to come or simply a solid mark of defensive work in front of him remains to be seen.

That said, Driedger is one of the better goaltenders on the open market– if he even makes it there first.

LOS ANGELES KINGS 

RW/LW Austin Wagner

24, 2 years left, $1.133 million cap hit

Despite having one of the best prospect pools in the league right now, the Kings don’t have too much to offer via expansion, so the Kraken will have to settle for a fourth-liner that has yet to reveal whether or not this is really all that there is to his game.

Wagner had 4-4–8 totals in 44 games with Los Angeles in 2020-21.

MINNESOTA WILD

G Kaapo Kähkönen

24, 1 year left, $725,000

The Wild chose to protect Cam Talbot over their future potential starting goaltender in Kähkönen which is good news for Kraken fans and bad news for Minnesota fans.

Unless Seattle has a deal in place to acquire assets from the Wild to not select Kähkönen, this is a dangerous game for Minnesota GM, Bill Guerin, to play– but then again, he’s put an emphasis on change at the forefront of his tenure in Minnesota’s front office.

Meanwhile, Kähkönen went 16-8-0 in 24 games (23 starts, two shutouts) and had a 2.88 goals-against average and a .902 save percentage in that span in 2020-21.

MONTRÉAL CANADIENS

G Carey Price

33, 5 years left, $10.500 million cap hit

Whether or not Price is even being considered by the Kraken hinges upon two things 1) his health and 2) if Seattle and Montréal have already worked out some sort of trade.

The league has already informed the clubs that they would be circumventing the salary cap if the Kraken select Price, retain 50% of his salary and deal him back to Montréal.

But, Seattle could take the 2021 Stanley Cup Final runner-up goaltender that amassed a 12-7-5 record in 25 games (25 starts, one shutout) in the regular season and had a 2.64 goals-against average, as well as a .901 save percentage in that span and play him, place him on long-term injured reserve or eat some salary and trade him elsewhere.

In any case, Price to Seattle would be as big a deal as Marc-Andre Fleury to Vegas in 2017.

NASHVILLE PREDATORS

LD Mark Borowiecki

32, 1 year left, $2.000 million cap hit

Borowiecki’s 2020-21 campaign was cut short and limited to 22 games due to injury, but don’t let his one assist fool you– he’s a physical defender that will do anything to make a hit, block a shot and lead in the dressing room when he’s not on the ice.

If he’s healthy, he’d be effective in Seattle as the Kraken look to establish their workplace culture and team identity.

NEW JERSEY DEVILS

LW/RW Andreas Johnsson

26, 2 years left, $3.400 million cap hit

Johnsson had 43 points in 73 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs in his first full season at the NHL level in 2018-19. He then had just 21 points in 43 games with the Leafs in 2019-20 and 5-6–11 totals in 50 games with the Devils this season.

In the right situation, he could bounce back. In New Jersey, it doesn’t look like that’d be happening anytime soon– regardless of Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes’ emergence with Ty Smith and Yegor Sharangovich playing a part in the club’s turnaround.

Some, however, have Mackenzie Blackwood pegged as being selected by the Kraken as they certainly have plenty of goaltenders to choose from and trade thereafter.

NEW YORK ISLANDERS

RW/LW Josh Bailey

31, 3 years left, $5.000 million cap hit

Bailey had 8-27–35 totals in 54 games with the Islanders this season and would provide some meat in the middle of our hypothetical Kraken roster.

Between Bailey and Jordan Eberle, however, Seattle can’t go wrong. The former tends to score clutch goals in the playoffs and has a cap hit that’s $500,000 less than the latter, though that’s not much to worry about.

NEW YORK RANGERS

RW Julien Gauthier

23, 1 year left, $775,000 cap hit

It’s not always about size, but having the option to use a 6-foot-4, 227-pound winger in your lineup certainly will help the Kraken in the physical elements of the game– especially against their rivals in the Pacific Division.

Gauthier had 2-6–8 totals in 30 games with the Rangers in 2020-21.

OTTAWA SENATORS

G Joey Daccord

24, 2 years left, $750,000 cap hit

Daccord appeared in eight games (six games) this season as the Senators struggled to stay healthy in the crease and went on to amass a 1-3-1 record in the process with a 3.27 goals-against average and an .897 save percentage in that span– revealing two things 1) he’s a young goaltender and 2) the Sens really need a better roster in front of any and all of their goaltenders.

But choosing Daccord is O.K. for Seattle since he’ll develop in due time and it takes care of having to pick something else from Ottawa’s scraps.

PHILADELPHIA FLYERS

RW/LW Jakub Voracek

31, 3 years left, $8.250 million cap hit

Want to get messy? Let’s have the Kraken select Voracek from the Flyers and see what happens!

No, this isn’t about postgame press conference outbursts or anything (though Voracek was in the right in that regard), but rather, there’s a lot of teams that would take Voracek at a reduced rate and Seattle could make bank off trading him.

Or they could keep the guy that had 9-34–43 totals in 53 games in 2020-21 and see what happens in 2021-22, but Francis isn’t likely going to take on that big of a contract unless it’s a free agent signing.

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS

RW/LW Brandon Tanev

29, 4 years left, $3.500 million cap hit

Tanev can skate, hit and compete, so… …in other words, he’s a hockey player. He’s also got the long hair to go with it.

In 2020-21, he had 7-9–16 totals in 32 games in his second season with the Penguins. Though he was on the cusp of the 30-point plateau with the Winnipeg Jets in 2018-19, Tanev’s career-high 29 points is about the most Seattle could get out of him, but that’s fine for the meat of their lineup.

SAN JOSE SHARKS

C Dylan Gambrell

24, 1 year left, $1.100 million cap hit

Be honest, did you really want to have to take anything from the Sharks?

Gambrell matched his career-high in goals (five) and set career-highs in assists (seven) and points (12) in 49 games with San Jose this season, but aside from being young, he’s still very much a fourth liner in the NHL, so the Kraken have that going for them, at least.

ST. LOUIS BLUES

RW Vladimir Tarasenko

29, 2 years left, $7.500 million cap hit

Name brand power. Seattle would assure themselves of having some top jersey sales if they’d just take Tarasenko and keep him on the roster.

Then again, he’s missed significant portions of the last two seasons and already wants out of St. Louis, so what’s not to say he won’t be disgruntled about going to a completely new franchise and any growing pains?

With 4-10–14 totals in 24 games in 2020-21, and 442 points in 531 career NHL games, it’s probably worth at least being in control of his next destination– whether that’s the Kraken or elsewhere.

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING

C/LW/RW Yanni Gourde

29, 4 years left, $5.167 million cap hit

Gourde is an affordable player to build a brand new roster around, but just how far up the lineup can he play? Will Seattle try to make him like William Karlsson in Vegas’ first year and demand first line minutes or are they comfortable with taking a more conservative approach and, say, making him a second liner at best?

In any case, 17-19–36 totals in 56 games en route to back-to-back Stanley Cup rings with the Lightning brings the right amount of depth scoring and valuable playoff experience to the Kraken’s roster.

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS

LW/C Jared McCann

25, 1 year left, $2.940 million cap hit

There was a reason why the Maple Leafs went out and got McCann in a trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins ahead of the expansion draft, but it clearly wasn’t as an insurance plan in the event that Seattle took Alexander Kerfoot and Toronto needed a new third line center or something.

Instead, the Leafs left both available and the Kraken took the guy with the better offensive production in 2020-21, as McCann had 14-18–32 totals in 43 games with Pittsburgh, while Kerfoot had 8-15–23 totals in 56 games with Toronto.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS

C/RW Zack MacEwen

25, 1 year left, $825,000

All of Vancouver’s bad contracts are coming to bite them just as everyone expected. Sure, some attractive salary cap hits were available if the Kraken needed a boost, but for the point scoring output, none of them would’ve made sense in a million years– even as a favor to the Canucks, you know, the closest geographical rival to Seattle.

Thus, MacEwen’s taking his talents and 1-1–2 totals in 34 games with the Canucks this season to the Kraken, where he’ll become intertwined with some semblance of depth.

WASHINGTON CAPITALS

G Vitek Vanecek

25, 1 year left, $716,667

Yeah, there’s no way around it, really, but this is the worst thing that could happen for the Capitals short of the Kraken getting bold and taking Alex Ovechkin.

Vanecek (21-10-4 in 37 games, 36 starts, 2.69 goals-against average, .908 save percentage, two shutouts) provides a great 1A/1B punch with Ilya Samsonov as both goaltenders develop, but since Washington couldn’t get a deal done with the team that plays in Washington (state, that is), then it’s a solid grab for Seattle.

Whether or not they keep Vanecek in the mix with all the other goaltenders (or any of the other goaltenders, for that matter) remains to be seen.

WINNIPEG JETS

RD Dylan DeMelo

28, 3 years left, $3.000 million

It’s simple, draft DeMelo from Winnipeg and either end up with a decent top-4 defender or use him as trade bait a la the Vegas way in 2017.

Nine assists in 52 games won’t get you much offense from the point when DeMelo is on the ice, but his shutdown style and decent cap hit is attractive around the league.


Total Cap Hit (excluding players already on SEA roster): $80,681,666

Average age: 27.7 years old

Seattle won’t actually be spending to the cap from the expansion draft alone kind of like how the Golden Knights did in 2017, but in this mock draft, let’s get crazy.

Spend every penny and sell high, why not!?!

Yes, Price carries a hefty price tag, but that doesn’t have to be your problem if you find a team desperate enough for goaltending. Imagine trading Price to the Maple Leafs and watching all of Québec sit through the uneasiness of another Toronto-Montréal matchup in the postseason by the time his contract expires.

Or just imagine all of the possible side deals from taking a team that’s loaded with talent and stripping it down to the essentials, plus a foundation for the future.

Ron Francis is kind of good at that.

Categories
NHL Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Caps snag, 3-2, overtime win in Game 1 over Bruins

Nic Dowd redirected T.J. Oshie’s blast early in overtime to give Craig Anderson a, 3-2, win in relief and the Washington Capitals a 1-0 series lead over the Boston Bruins on Saturday night at Capital One Arena in Game 1 of their 2021 First Round series.

Anderson (1-0, 1.15 goals-against average, .955 save percentage in one game played) made 21 saves on 22 shots faced in the overtime win after replacing injured Capitals goaltender, Vitek Vanecek, in the first period.

He’ll turn 40-years-old on May 21st and became the oldest goaltender to earn a Stanley Cup Playoffs win in Capitals history (39 years, 359 days old), surpassing Mike Liut’s previous record (34 years, 110 days).

Vanecek (0-0, 4.62 goals-against average, .750 save percentage in one game played) had three saves on four shots his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut prior to suffering a lower body injury at 13:10 of the first period and leaving the game.

Boston netminder, Tuukka Rask (0-1, 2.78 goals-against average, .906 save percentage in one game played), stopped 29 out of 32 shots faced in the loss.

The Bruins and Capitals are meeting for the fourth time in a postseason series. Washington holds the all time series advantage, 2-1, having beaten Boston in six games in the 1998 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal and most recently in seven games in the 2012 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal.

The B’s swept the Caps in the 1990 Wales Conference Final.

Boston made the playoffs for the 74th time in franchise history, while finishing 3rd in the MassMutual NHL East Division.

Meanwhile, Washington entered the postseason for the 31st time in club history and has home ice advantage in the series by virtue of finishing 2nd in the same division.

The Bruins were without Ondrej Kase (upper body) and John Moore (hip) in Game 1.

Kase is not yet ready to return to the lineup, while Moore is out for the rest of the season and playoffs after undergoing a hip arthroscopy and labral repair on March 22nd. Moore’s expected recovery time is five to six months.

Charlie Coyle, meanwhile, was back in the lineup after missing the last four games of the regular season with an upper body injury.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, didn’t do much out of the ordinary with his lines as captain, Patrice Bergeron, centered the first line with his usual partners in crime, Brad Marchand at left wing and David Pastrnak at right wing.

David Krejci centered the second line with Taylor Hall to his left and Craig Smith to his right, while Sean Kuraly centered the third line with Nick Ritchie and Coyle on his wings.

Rounding out the bottom-six forwards, Jake DeBrusk and Chris Wagner were slotted alongside Curtis Lazar.

Bergeron tied Zdeno Chara for the second-most appearances in a playoff game in a Bruins uniform– having participated in his 150th career Stanley Cup Playoff game on Saturday night.

Krejci, meanwhile, surpassed Wayne Cashman for sole possession of the fourth-most playoff games in the spoked-B, skating in his 146th career postseason game on Saturday.

On defense, Cassidy started the night with Matt Grzelcyk and Charlie McAvoy on the first pairing, Mike Reilly suited up with Brandon Carlo and Jeremy Lauzon alongside Kevan Miller.

Reilly made his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut in the process.

Boston’s long list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and/or injured players included Trent Frederic, Kase, Steven Kampfer, Jack Ahcan, Jakub Zboril, Connor Clifton, Anton Blidh, Karson Kuhlman, Jarred Tinordi, Jaroslav Halak, Callum Booth and Dan Vladar.

Washington, meanwhile, was without Evgeny Kuznetsov, who remained in COVID protocol ahead of Game 1.

Tom Wilson (1) scored the game’s first goal and opened the scoring in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs on a give-and-go play that led to a far side shot over Rask and into the twine to make it, 1-0.

Oshie (1) and Daniel Sprong (1) had the assists on Wilson’s goal at 6:22 of the first period as the Capitals capitalized on a shattered stick by McAvoy in Boston’s attacking zone that led to the breakout and ensuing goal.

Almost 90 seconds later, John Carlson sent the puck over the glass and yielded an automatic delay of game minor infraction at 7:58, presenting the Bruins with the night’s first power play as a result.

Boston was powerless on the skater advantage, however.

Moments later, DeBrusk (1) scored from the edge of the faceoff dot to the left of Vanecek after an attacking zone draw was won by Lazar back to the B’s winger for a quick shot to tie the game, 1-1, at 13:10.

Lazar (1) had the only assist while Vanecek sustained a lower body injury on the play and promptly left the game with the assistance of a Capitals trainer.

Anderson replaced Vanecek in his first playoff appearance since 2017, when the Ottawa Senators lost, 4-2, in double overtime to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 7 of the 2017 Eastern Conference Final.

The Bruins did not put Anderson to the test nearly enough for the remainder of the action.

Justin Schultz tripped Hall at 16:42 and presented Boston with another power play before the first period came to a close, but the B’s weren’t able to muster anything on the advantage and entered the first intermission tied on the scoreboard, 1-1.

Washington led in shots on goal, 11-7, after 20 minutes and held the advantage in takeaways (2-1) and hits (19-13), while Boston led in blocked shots (5-2), giveaways (2-1) and faceoff win percentage (81-19).

The Bruins were 0/2 on the power play while the Capitals had yet to see any action on the skater advantage heading into the middle frame.

Entering the second period Washington tweeted that Vanecek would not return to the night’s action with a lower body injury. If necessary, Pheonix Copley would be available as the emergency goaltender for the Caps.

Midway through the middle frame, Brenden Dillon (1) blasted a shot from the point that deflected off of Lauzon’s stick and into the back of the twine– giving the Capitals a, 2-1, lead at 8:44 of the second period in the process.

Anthony Mantha (1) and Alex Ovechkin (1) tallied the assists on Dillon’s goal.

Ovechkin later cross checked Miller, but Lauzon retaliated with a cross check on Ovechkin and was the only player that was penalized at 9:01 of the second period.

Washington did not convert on the ensuing power play.

Late in the period, Dmitry Orlov caught Marchand with a high stick at 15:21.

Boston capitalized on the resulting skater advantage when Pastrnak wired a shot off of Ritchie’s (1) shaft in front of the net– deflecting the puck through Anderson and just over the goal line.

Pastrnak (1) and McAvoy (1) had the assists on Ritchie’s power-play goal, tying the game, 2-2, in the process at 16:40.

Through 40 minutes of play, the score was tied, 2-2, despite the Capitals leading in shots on goal, 22-16, including an, 11-9, advantage in the second period alone.

The Bruins led in blocked shots (16-8) and faceoff win% (62-38), while the Caps led in giveaways (4-3) and hits (31-30).

Both teams had four takeaways aside, while Washington was 0/1 and Boston was 1/3 on the power play entering the second intermission.

There were no goals in the final frame of regulation and only one penalty as Michael Raffl tripped Hall with a knee-on-knee swipe (inadvertent or not, it was a penalty) at 5:06 of the third period.

After 60 minutes, the Capitals led in shots on goal, 31-24, including a, 9-8, advantage in the third period alone.

Washington held the advantage in hits (51-40), while Boston led in blocked shots (18-12), giveaways (7-6) and faceoff win% (59-41). Both teams had six takeaways aside.

As there were no penalties called in overtime, the Capitals finished 0/1 and the Bruins finished 1/4 on the power play.

Early in the extra frame, Washington got a break whereby Oshie let go of a one-timer that Dowd (1) deflected off of Rask and in for the game-winning goal at 4:41 of the overtime period.

Oshie (2) and Wilson (1) had the assists on Dowd’s goal as the Capitals secured a, 3-2, victory in overtime in Game 1.

Washington finished Saturday night’s action leading in shots on goal, 32-26, despite Boston outshooting the Capitals, 2-1, in overtime alone.

The Caps also wrapped up Game 1 with the advantage in hits (51-41), while the Bruins finished the game leading in blocked shots (19-16), giveaways (7-6) and faceoff win% (60-40).

The Bruins fell to 0-1 when tied after the first period, 0-1 when allowing the game’s first goal and 0-1 when tied after the second period this postseason, while the Capitals improved to 1-0 when tied after the first, scoring the game’s first goal and tied after two periods in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Washington leads the series 1-0 and looks to go up by two games on Monday night in Game 2. Puck drop in Washington is set for a little after 7:30 p.m. ET. Fans in the United States can tune to NBCSN for national coverage, while viewers in Canada have the option to choose from SN, CBC or TVAS.

Categories
NHL Nick's Net Previews

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

Sometime in the last however many days (or perhaps years, maybe even centuries, for some, as it felt) the calendar went from reading “March 2020” to “March 2021”, then April and now May.

Between then and now, the Tampa Bay Lightning were crowned Stanley Cup champions in the 2020 Stanley Cup Final over the Dallas Stars in six games after last year’s playoffs were held inside a bubble (well, technically two bubbles in Edmonton and Toronto before coming together in the former).

Then a somewhat regular-looking 56-game 2020-21 season took place as the National Hockey League and the rest of the world started returning to a sense of normalcy from January through now– getting vaccinated and seeing the light at the end of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic tunnel.

Resiliency in life cannot be understated.

That– even after so much loss and millions of deaths around the world– the course of nature goes on.

There is still a lot of grieving to be done, a pandemic ongoing and tensions rising around the globe, yet here we are, arguing over who will win one game– the next four games, a series– the Stanley Cup.

We, as hockey fans, have regressed to the mean. Our veins are pulsing as we hit “tweet” arguing between Toronto Maple Leafs and Montréal Canadiens fans for the first time since 1979.

Our humanity goes on.

Make no qualms about it, the 2020-21 season was one of the hardest seasons on all of the players in the NHL.

Their seemingly lavish lifestyles were disrupted by isolation on road trips, isolation in COVID protocol and isolation from so many family members and friends that may not have been able to go see them play or be around at home due to local rules, regulations or the mere fact that a player is single and living on their own.

No, there are no heroes. Only people.

Even hockey players.

As the dawn of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs arises, we’ll call their clutch goals, big hits and key saves “heroic”, but after all, we’re just watching 10 skaters and two goalies on the ice at any given time play a game at the highest level that so few are ever so privileged to play.

They’re making memories among their teammates on the ice that we’ll never be able to experience.

We’ll never be able to see it from their eyes– until, at least, nano camera technology that can be worn in a contact lens becomes mainstream in sports anyway– but we’ll watch the game with our own eyes and try to memorize every little detail of a play as we try to recreate it in driveways, streets and ice rinks in our own town or others.

It’s time.

Let’s hockey together, friends.


Four teams in each division made the postseason.

The best team facing the fourth best team, the second best team taking on the third best team– the winners of the First Round will face each other in the Second Round staying within their own division as they’ve done through 56 regular season games.

Each division will produce one winner heading to the Stanley Cup Semifinal in light of a Conference Finals round in usual years.

The Semifinal will reseed based on how the four remaining teams finished in regular season points standings with the first best team taking on the fourth, as well as the second best team facing the third best team in a series narrowing down the field to the 2021 Stanley Cup Finalists as a result.

Neither the Prince of Wales Trophy nor the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl will be awarded this year.

No trophies, just vibes (until the Stanley Cup, that is).


(1) Pittsburgh Penguins (37-16-3, 77 points) vs (4) New York Islanders (32-17-7, 71 points)

Pittsburgh: 56 games played, .688 points percentage, 29 regulation wins.

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

The Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders are facing each other for the sixth time in a Stanley Cup Playoffs series with the Islanders holding the lead in all time series wins, 4-1.

New York beat Pittsburgh in seven games (4-3) in the 1975 Wales Conference Quarterfinal, in five games (3-2) in the 1982 Patrick Division Semifinal, in seven games (4-3) in the 1993 Patrick Division Final and in four games (4-0) in the 2019 First Round.

The Penguins beat the Islanders in six games (4-2) in the 2013 Eastern Conference Quaterfinal, meanwhile.

The Pens are making their 36th postseason appearance, while the Isles enter their 27th postseason in franchise history.

Pittsburgh was led by Sidney Crosby (24-38–62 totals in 55 games played) in the regular season, with Jake Guentzel (23-34–57 totals in 56 GP) and Kris Letang (7-38–45 totals in 55 GP) rounding out the top-three scorers on the Penguins’ roster in 2020-21.

Crosby and the Pens cruised to an 8-2-0 record in their last 10 games and an impressive 22-4-2 record on home ice this season, which bodes well for their return to the playoffs after missing out on First Round action last season thanks to an early exit on behalf of the Canadiens in four games (3-1) in the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifier.

Among active members of the current roster, Crosby leads the Penguins with 68-121–189 totals in 168 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, while Evgeni Malkin– suffering from a lower body injury as of late– has 63-106–169 totals in 166 career postseason games.

Letang brings up the rear to round-out the top-three playoff performers currently on the roster with 80 points (21 goals, 59 assists) in 136 playoff games.

In the regular season, Pittsburgh relied on Tristan Jarry for a 25-9-3 record as a starter in 39 games played (38 starts) and two shutouts, as well as a 2.75 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage.

Casey DeSmith (11-7-0 in 20 games, 17 starts, 2.54 goals-against average, .912 save percentage, two shutouts) served as Jarry’s backup and even Maxime Lagacé made an appearance, recording a win in his only start, as well as a shutout.

When it comes to playoff experience, only Jarry has ever touched the ice in a Stanley Cup Playoff game– earning one start in a loss, as well as a 1.02 goals-against average and a .952 save percentage.

At the other end of the rink, the Islanders were led by Mathew Barzal in scoring with 45 points (17 goals, 28 assists) in 55 games, as Josh Bailey (8-27–35 totals in 54 games) trailed the prolific 23-year-old center with the second-most points on the team in the 2020-21 regular season.

Brock Nelson (18-15–33 totals in 56 games) and Jordan Eberle (16-17–33 totals in 56 games) were tied for the third-most points in team scoring for New York.

Isles captain, Anders Lee, had his season cut short by a knee injury that will keep him out of contention through the playoffs.

Meanwhile, the Islanders went 3-4-3 in their last 10 games as they backed themselves into the postseason.

Among active players on New York’s current roster, Bailey leads his teammates in postseason scoring with 10-27–37 totals in 52 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, while Nelson (16-13–29 in 48 games) and newcomer, Travis Zajac (11-17–28 totals in 57 games) round out the top-three playoff performers entering the Islanders’ 2021 postseason run.

Zajac was acquired along with Kyle Palmieri from the New Jersey Devils ahead of the 2021 trade deadline back in April.

In the crease, Semyon Varlamov led the way for the Islanders with a Vezina Trophy worthy season, amassing a 19-11-4 record in 36 games played (35 starts) to go with seven shutouts, a 2.04 goals-against average a .929 save percentage.

Varlamov and Colorado Avalanche netminder, Philipp Grubauer, led the league in shutouts in 2020-21, while Vegas Golden Knights duo, Marc-Andre Fleury and Robin Lehner took home the William M. Jennings Trophy, having allowed the fewest goals against this season.

Meanwhile, Ilya Sorokin served as Varlamov’s backup in his first NHL season and had a 13-6-3 record in 22 games played (21 starts), as well as three shutouts, a 2.17 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage.

As Sorokin just completed his first season at the game’s highest level of competition, only Varlamov has had postseason experience and is expected to be New York’s starter in their 2021 First Round matchup with Pittsburgh.

Varlamov has a 24-20 record in 46 career Stanley Cup Playoff games (44 starts), as well as four shutouts, a 2.38 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage in that span.


The Penguins went 6-2-0, while the Islanders went 2-4-2 in their eight games against one another this season with Pittsburgh outscoring New York, 26-19, in that span.

That alone should give a good indication of how Pens head coach, Mike Sullivan, is back on his regular routine and how Isles head coach, Barry Trotz, will need to get crafty to drag Pittsburgh’s offense down a bit more to the level of New York’s “defense first” mentality.

Though it might be easier to slow down Crosby’s game than it is to ease Edmonton Oilers phenom, Connor McDavid, from his carousel around opponents, Pittsburgh has a deeper roster than New York’s stagnant core.

Jeff Carter alone has made a bigger impact on the Pens so far than Palmieri and Zajac combined for the Islanders.

That said, New York has the historical high ground over the Penguins in the playoffs– especially in light of their 2019 First Round sweep.

This time around, however, expect Pittsburgh to get the job done in six games– just long enough to get a rhythm going into an epic clash with either the Washington Capitals or Boston Bruins in the Second Round.

Regular season outcomes:

4-3 NYI at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Feb. 6th

4-3 F/SO PIT at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Feb. 11th

4-1 PIT at PPG Paints Arena on Feb. 18th

3-2 PIT at PPG Paints Arena on Feb. 20th

4-3 F/OT PIT at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Feb. 27th

2-0 NYI at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Feb. 28th

6-3 PIT at PPG Paints Arena on March 27th

2-1 PIT at PPG Paints Arena on March 29th

Schedule:

5/16- Game 1 NYI @ PIT 12 PM ET on NBC, SN, TVAS

5/18- Game 2 NYI @ PIT 7:30 PM ET on NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVAS

5/20- Game 3 PIT @ NYI 7 PM ET on NBCSN, SN360, TVAS

5/22- Game 4 PIT @ NYI 3 PM ET on NBC, SN, TVAS

5/24- Game 5 NYI @ PIT*

5/26- Game 6 PIT @ NYI*

5/28- Game 7 NYI @ PIT*

*If necessary

(2) Washington Capitals (36-15-5, 77 points) vs (3) Boston Bruins (33-16-7, 73 points)

Washington: 56 games played, .688 points percentage, 29 regulation wins.

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

The Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins are meeting each other in a playoff series for the fourth time with the Capitals holding the lead in all time series wins, 2-1.

Washington beat Boston in six games (4-2) in the 1998 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal and in seven games (4-3) in the 2012 Eastern Conference Final.

Prior to the last two postseason series meetings between the two clubs, the Bruins swept the Capitals (4-0) in the 1990 Wales Conference Final.

The Caps are making their 31st appearance, while the B’s are set to embark on their 74th appearance in the postseason in franchise history.

Washington was led by Nicklas Backstrom (15-38–53 totals in 55 games played) in scoring this season, while John Carlson had the second-most points and T.J. Oshie rounded out the top-three in team scoring.

Carlson had 44 points (10 goals, 34 assists) in 52 games, while Oshie notched 22-21–43 totals in 53 games for the Capitals in 2020-21.

While battling injury at times this season, Washington captain, Alex Ovechkin, and Co. went 7-2-1 in their last 10 games of the regular season, amassing a 17-8-3 record on home ice.

Ovechkin leads his current teammates in active career postseason scoring with 69-62–131 totals in 136 Stanley Cup Playoff games (all with the Capitals), while Backstrom is second and former Bruin captain, turned Washington defender, Zdeno Chara, has the third-most career Stanley Cup Playoff points on the Capitals’ current roster.

Backstrom has 107 points (36 goals, 71 assists) in 128 career playoff games, while Chara has 18-52–70 totals in 195 career postseason games between the Ottawa Senators (45 games) and Boston (150 games).

In the regular season, Washington relied on the emergence of Vitek Vanecek as their starter with Ilya Samsonov serving as the Caps backup and Craig Anderson getting a handful of appearances mixed in.

Vanecek led the team with a 21-10-4 record in 37 games (36 starts), two shutouts, a 2.70 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage, while Samsonov amassed a 13-4-1 record in 19 games (18 starts) as Vanecek’s backup.

Samsonov had a 2.69 goals-against average and a .902 save percentage to go along with a pair of shutouts, while Anderson went 2-1-0 in four games played (two starts) and yielded a 2.13 goals-against average, as well as a .915 save percentage in that span.

Though Anderson is the only goaltender on the roster with previous playoff experience– including a 23-22 record in 46 games (46 starts) to go along with four shutouts, a 2.35 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage in the process– Vanecek will likely be the starter for the Caps for the foreseeable future.

Especially with Samsonov still in COVID protocol on Friday (at the time of this writing).

Brad Marchand led the Bruins in scoring with 29-40–69 totals in 53 games this season, while Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak were tied for the second-most points with 48 points each.

Bergeron had 23-25–48 totals in 54 games, while Pastrnak had 20-28–48 totals in 48 games after getting a late start to the season due to offseason surgery.

Meanwhile, David Krejci, for those wondering, had 8-36–44 totals in 51 games and had the fourth-most points on the roster this season.

Boston’s current career postseason scoring leaders shapes up to be exactly what you expect– Krejci leads over Bergeron and Marchand.

Krejci has 40-75–115 totals in 145 career Stanley Cup Playoff games entering 2021, while Bergeron has 111 points (42 goals, 69 assists) in 149 playoff games and Marchand has 95 points (37 goals, 58 assists) in 121 postseason games.

The trio of Bruins define an era of consistent success not seen since the days of Phil Esposito in the spoked-B and are in search of their second Stanley Cup ring.

Boston utilized four goaltenders this season due to injury and COVID protocol effecting the season as Tuukka Rask led the team with a 15-5-2 record in 24 games (24 starts)– amassing a 2.28 goals-against average, a .913 save percentage and two shutouts in the process.

Rask’s “average” season was balanced out by Jaroslav Halak’s “average” season as a backup– posting a 9-6-4 record in 19 games (17 starts), as well as a 2.53 goals-against average, a .905 save percentage and two shutouts in that span.

Despite Halak’s best efforts, the emergence of Jeremy Swayman has led to Swayman moving up in the depth charts from surefire starter in Providence (AHL) to current NHL backup (with the ultimate goal of taking over for Rask someday as the Bruins transition from their franchise goaltender to their 22-year-old first year professional).

Swayman had a 7-3-0 record in 10 games (10 starts) and put up a 1.50 goals-against average, two shutouts and a .945 save percentage in his first taste of the NHL.

Dan Vladar, meanwhile, contributed where it mattered most and, despite one, 8-1, loss on the second night of back-to-back games against Washington, managed to have a 2-2-1 record in five games played (five starts) with a 3.40 goals-against average and an .886 save percentage for Boston.

With Halak relegated to the third string goaltender role, his 17-20 record in 39 postseason games (37 starts) and 2.48 goals-against average, as well as his .919 career playoff save percentage should remain untouched.

Sure, Vladar made a relief appearance in the 2020 Second Round, but Rask is Boston’s starter, after all.

And for good reason too– since Rask has a 51-42 record in 93 career Stanley Cup Playoff games (93 starts), as well as seven shutouts, a 2.20 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage in that span.

No. 40 in black and gold is two wins away from tying Gerry Cheevers for the most postseason wins in franchise history (53).


The Capitals went 4-4-0, while the Bruins went 4-2-2 in their eight games against one another this season with Boston outscoring Washington, 26-25, in that span.

As noted, don’t let too many results in their head-to-head matchups from this season fool you.

The Bruins dressed the equivalents of their AHL affiliate (Providence Bruins) about two times against the Capitals this season.

The first time was due to a ton of injuries and the second time happened to be another final night of a back-to-back matchup in Boston’s schedule and the end of the regular season with both teams having clinched a playoff berth and not eligible for mobility in the standings.

That said, the B’s and Caps are pretty evenly matched.

Vanecek has the chance to ride the waves of his breakout season, while Rask is the steady hand that’s been the model of consistency in the crease this time of year.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, should get the most out of Krejci, Craig Smith and Taylor Hall to round out his top-six forwards, while Peter Laviolette can rely on Chara’s past knowledge of Boston’s systems to utilize as a strength for Washington.

That said, the Bruins should try to wrap things up in six games and move on to the Second Round before worrying about what a Game 7 would look like on the road for the first time since 2011.

Regular season outcomes:

4-3 F/OT WSH at Capital One Arena on Jan. 30th

5-3 BOS at Capital One Arena on Feb. 1st

2-1 F/SO WSH at TD Garden on March 1st

5-1 BOS at TD Garden on March 5th

4-2 BOS at Capital One Arena on April 8th

8-1 WSH at TD Garden on April 11th

6-3 BOS at TD Garden on April 18th

2-1 WSH at Capital One Arena on May 11th

Schedule:

5/15- Game 1 BOS @ WSH 7:15 PM ET on NBC, SN, CBC, TVAS

5/17- Game 2 BOS @ WSH 7:30 PM ET on NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVAS

5/19- Game 3 WSH @ BOS 6:30 PM ET on NBCSN, SNE, SNO, SNP, SN360, TVAS

5/21- Game 4 WSH @ BOS 6:30 PM ET on NBCSN, SNE, SNO, SNP, SN360, TVAS

5/23- Game 5 BOS @ WSH*

5/25- Game 6 WSH @ BOS*

5/27- Game 7 BOS @ WSH*

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

Trio of Bruins record pair of goals in eventful, 6-3, win over Capitals

Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Krejci each had a pair of goals in a, 6-3, win for the Boston Bruins over the Washington Capitals on Sunday afternoon at TD Garden.

A pair of milestones were met for both the team (21,000 goals) and Marchand (700 career points) as Tuukka Rask (10-4-2, 2.36 goals-against average, .910 save percentage in 17 games played) made 30 saves on 33 shots against for Boston en route to the win.

Washington goaltender, Vitek Vanecek (17-9-3, 2.77 goals-against average, .908 save percentage in 31 games played) stopped 22 out of 27 shots faced in the loss.

The Bruins improved to 25-12-6 (56 points) and remained in command of 4th place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while the Capitals fell to 29-12-4 (62 points) overall and in command of the division lead.

Boston also improved to 4-1-2 against Washington this season with the win.

The Bruins were without Ondrej Kase (upper body), John Moore (hip), Brandon Carlo (upper body), Trent Frederic (non-COVID protocol related illness), Matt Grzelcyk (upper body), Kevan Miller (undisclosed), Jakub Zboril (non-COVID protocol related illness) and Jaroslav Halak (COVID protocol) on Sunday.

Grzelcyk may travel with the team this week as the B’s hit the road, while Miller remains day-to-day and Halak could rejoin the group on Monday at practice.

Head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made one lineup change on defense with Zboril out due to an illness, Jarred Tinordi took Zboril’s spot on the third defensive pairing for Boston.

Frederic, Carlo, Moore, Kase, Halak, Grzelcyk, Jack Ahcan, Zboril, Callum Booth, Anton Blidh, Karson Kuhlman and Miller were on the long list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and/or injured players for Boston on Sunday, while Dan Vladar was reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Saturday.

Ahcan had been reassigned to Providence, but was recalled to the taxi squad on Saturday ahead of Sunday afternoon’s matinée matchup with Washington.

The Capitals were without Zdeno Chara (lower body) after he blocked a shot in Saturday’s, 6-3, win in Philadelphia against the Flyers. The former Bruins captain received a standing ovation from the TD Garden crowd in his first game back in Boston with fans on April 11th.

Dmitry Orlov hooked Marchand 35 seconds into the action Sunday afternoon, presenting the Bruins with the game’s first power play.

Boston did not convert on the skater advantage, however.

Midway through the opening frame, Connor Clifton caught Lars Eller with a high stick that resulted in a four-minute double minor infraction. Washington had an extended power play at 8:53 of the first period as a result.

Late in the penalty kill, the Bruins worked the puck out of their own zone, whereby Capitals defender, John Carlson, went to battle along the endboards with Marchand for possession.

Marchand got just enough of a touch on the puck as Carlson chipped it off of the Bruins winger’s stick prior to the rubber biscuit deflecting to an open space in the slot whereby Bergeron (17) scooped it up and pulled it to his backhand for a shot that beat Vanecek and gave Boston the game’s first goal.

Marchand (30) had the only assist Bergeron’s shorthanded goal as the Bruins pulled ahead, 1-0, at 12:02 of the first period on their eighth shorthanded goal this season– tying the Montreal Canadiens for the most in 2020-21.

Less than a couple minutes later, Krejci (4) received a pass through the low slot and one-timed a shot past Vanecek after Craig Smith and Clifton did a tremendous job working the puck low into the zone, then over to No. 46 in black and gold.

Clifton (6) and Smith (16) tallied the assists on Krejci’s goal as the Bruins took a, 2-0, lead at 13:56.

Late in the period, Mike Reilly got beat while pinching at the blue line, thus leaving Charlie McAvoy as the lone B’s defender in his own zone, whereby Nicklas Backstrom waltzed around the young Boston skater with a deke before getting a shot on Rask.

T.J. Oshie (15) scored on the rebound to cut Boston’s lead in half and get the Capitals on the board, 2-1.

Backstrom (32) had the only assist on the goal at 19:50.

After the horn to signify the end of the first period, Garnet Hathaway delivered a late check on Jeremy Lauzon along the boards.

The Bruins did not take kindly to Hathaway’s rejection of the unwritten “code” and a scrum ensued.

Nic Dowd and Curtis Lazar each received roughing minors as a result, yielding penalties at 20:00 of the first period and a pair of minutes at 4-on-4 to start the middle frame.

Entering the first intermission, the B’s led, 2-1, on the scoreboard, despite trailing the Capitals, 14-10, in shots on goal.

Washington held the advantage in blocked shots (4-3) and hits (16-13), while Boston led in takeaways (4-3) and faceoff win percentage (72-28) after one period.

Both teams had one giveaway each, while the Caps were 0/2 and the Bruins were 0/1 on the power play heading into the second period.

Clifton caught Conor Sheary with a high stick at 2:53 of the second period and presented the Capitals with an extended power play as a result of Sheary going down to the ice with an injury, resulting in a double-minor infraction for the young Bruins defender.

Washington capitalized on the ensuing power play as Backstrom dished a pass to Evgeny Kuznetsov behind the net for the setup to Oshie (16) for a one-timer over Rask’s glove on the short side– tying the game, 2-2, in the process.

Kuznetsov (17) and Backstrom (33) had the assists on Oshie’s second goal of the afternoon– and a power-play goal at that– at 3:48 of the second period.

About a minute later, Anthony Mantha (15) scored on a catch and release shot past Rask’s stick side while the Caps had a net front presence to screen the Bruins goaltender.

Orlov (8) and Eller (14) had the assists on Mantha’s power-play goal as the Capitals took the lead for the first time Sunday afternoon, 3-2, at 4:54.

The Bruins didn’t take long to respond, however, as Marchand (22) was fed a pass from David Pastrnak and beat Vanecek with a backhand shot to tie the game, 3-3, at 6:33.

Pastrnak (19) and Bergeron (22) had the assists on Marchand’s first goal of the game.

Midway through the period, Hathaway was assessed a holding minor at 13:55 and the B’s went on the power play as a result. Boston did not score on the resulting power play, however.

The Bruins caught the Capitals in the vulnerable minute after a skater advantage, though, as Krejci (5) received a pass and held the puck long enough for Orlov to dive and slide away before sending a quick shot over Vanecek’s glove side.

Smith (17) and Taylor Hall (18) notched the assists on Krejci’s second goal of the afternoon and the Bruins led, 4-3, at 16:02 of the second period.

About a minute later, Bergeron (18) had his second goal of the game on a one-timer from Pastrnak to give Boston another two-goal lead, 5-3, at 17:45.

Pastrnak (20) and Marchand (31) had the assists on the Bergeron’s goal, which marked the 21,000th goal in franchise history.

Late in the period, Rask had a broken stick and was playing with about half of a paddle and blade (goaltenders are allowed to play with a broken stick, for the record), which led to Reilly hooking Oshie to prevent Washington from establishing an attacking zone presence.

In the process, Reilly received a hooking minor and presented the Caps with a power play at 19:47 that would carry over into the final frame of regulation.

Through 40 minutes of play on Sunday, the Bruins led the Capitals, 5-3, on the scoreboard, despite trailing, 25-20, in shots on goal, including an, 11-10, advantage for Washington in the second period alone.

The Caps held the advantage in hits (25-21), while the B’s led in takeaways (7-6) and faceoff win% (62-39).

Both teams had six blocked shots and two giveaways each, while the Capitals were 2/5 and the Bruins were 0/2 on the power play heading into the final frame.

Tom Wilson caught Sean Kuraly while he was falling with a late hit that left Kuraly stunned and slow to get off the ice. There was no penalty on the play, similar to when Wilson knocked Carlo out of contention with a blindside hit on March 5th.

Carlo has missed 20 games since, despite appearing in one game on April 1st against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a, 4-1, loss.

Tinordi was the only player heading to the penalty box for roughing Wilson in response to his hit on Kuraly on Saturday. Washington went on the power play at 5:52 of the third period, but did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Shortly thereafter, Hathaway boarded Tinordi– cutting the Bruins defender open in the process as his visor smacked the boards first.

Initially, there was no call, nor a whistle for Tinordi while he bled out on the ice.

Divine intervention from the NHL’s office in Toronto, however, delivered a five-minute major penalty for boarding, as well as a match penalty for Hathaway– ending the Capitals forward’s afternoon early.

Boston went on the power play at 9:21 as Daniel Sprong skated to the sin bin to serve Hathaway’s major, but the B’s couldn’t muster anything past Washington’s penalty kill and Vanecek in the extended skater advantage.

With 2:18 remaining in the action, Capitals head coach, Peter Laviolette, pulled his netminder for an extra attacker, but it was to no avail.

Boston worked the puck free from their own zone, whereby Pastrnak hit Marchand with a pass through the neutral zone.

Marchand (23) looked to make a move to Bergeron for the hat trick, but settled for an empty net goal for himself at 18:16– assisted by Pastrnak (21) in the process and completing a four-point game for No. 63 in black and gold.

The empty net goal also marked the 700th career point for Marchand– becoming the ninth player in a Bruins uniform to record at least 700 points in franchise history in the process– as the B’s led, 6-3.

At the final horn, Boston had beaten Washington, 6-3, despite finishing the afternoon trailing in shots on goal, 33-28.

The Bruins finished Sunday’s action leading in blocked shots (12-9) and faceoff win% (55-46), while the Capitals ended the action leading in giveaways (6-2) and hits (33-28).

Washington finished the game 2/6 on the power play, while the B’s were 0/3 on the skater advantage.

Despite their lack of power play success on Sunday, the Bruins extended their winning streak to four games.

Boston also improved to 17-4-3 (9-0-2 at home) when scoring the game’s first goal, 14-0-2 (8-0-1 at home) when leading after the first period and 16-0-2 (11-0-2 at home) when leading after two periods this season.

Washington fell to 9-8-2 (4-4-1 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 4-8-1 (1-5-0 on the road) when trailing after one period and 2-9-0 (0-5-0 on the road) when losing after the second period in 2020-21.

After going 4-1-0 in their five-game homestand, the Bruins hit the road for the next five games including three stops in Buffalo and two stops in Pittsburgh before returning home to close out the month of April on the 29th against the Sabres.

Boston’s week ahead features stops in Buffalo on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday before heading to Pittsburgh next week.

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NHL Nick's Net

Capitals rout Bruins, 8-1, B’s make trades after game

The Washington Capitals handed the Boston Bruins an, 8-1, loss at TD Garden in what was Boston’s worst loss of the season on Sunday.

Three Caps forwards each had a pair of goals in the win, while Vitek Vanecek (17-7-3, 2.60 goals-against average, .913 save percentage in 29 games played) made 34 saves on 35 shots against for Washington.

Boston goaltender, Dan Vladar (3-2-0, 3.40 goals-against average, .886 save percentage in five games played) stopped 25 out of 33 shots faced in the loss.

The Bruins fell to 21-12-6 (48 points) on the season and remained in 4th place in the MassMutual NHL East Division, while the Capitals improved to 27-11-4 (58 points) overall and remained in control of the division.

The B’s are now 3-1-2 against Washington this season and were without the services of Ondrej Kase (upper body), Tuukka Rask (upper body), John Moore (hip), Brandon Carlo (upper body), Charlie McAvoy (upper body), Trent Frederic (non-COVID related illness), Matt Grzelcyk (upper body), Kevan Miller (precautionary reasons) and Jaroslav Halak (COVID protocol) on Sunday.

Bruce Cassidy made no adjustments to his forward lines, but had to jumbled his defensive pairings out of necessity with over half of his regular blue liners out of the lineup due to injury.

Jeremy Lauzon was paired with Connor Clifton, while Jakub Zboril and Steven Kampfer remained together on the second pairing.

Meanwhile, Jarred Tinordi entered the lineup on the third pairing with Jack Ahcan.

Anders Bjork, Frederic, Zach Senyshyn, Carlo, Moore, Kase, Rask, Halak, Grzelcyk, Callum Booth, McAvoy and Miller made up Boston’s long list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and players out of the lineup due to injury on Sunday.

Four seconds after puck drop, Chris Wagner and Brenden Dillon dropped their gloves and exchanged fisticuffs, yielding fighting majors in what was Boston’s 10th fight of the season and first since Nick Ritchie fought Garnet Hathaway in the B’s, 4-2, win in Washington on April 8th.

23 seconds later, Evgeny Kuznetsov slashed Ritchie and presented the Bruins with the game’s first power play 27 seconds into the first period.

Those were about the only positives of the night for Boston.

Washington’s penalty kill dismantled Kuznetsov’s minor and the Capitals got their first taste of a skater advantage at 5:49, when Sean Kuraly interfered with John Carlson away from the puck.

Late on the ensuing power play, T.J. Oshie (13) one-timed a shot from the bumper past Vladar on the short side for his ninth power-play goal of the season.

Nicklas Backstrom (28) and Kuznetsov (14) tallied the assists on Oshie’s goal and the Capitals jumped out to a, 1-0, lead at 7:33 of the first period.

16 seconds later, Lars Eller (6) chased a Washington chip shot clearing attempt, blew past Boston’s defense and beat Vladar over the glove on the short side to give the Capitals a two-goal lead at 7:49.

Carl Hagelin (7) and Hathaway (10) tallied the assists on Eller’s first goal of the game.

Less than two minutes later, Conor Sheary (9) scored on a fast break that led to a de facto 2-on-1 in the attacking zone while Kampfer was out of position encroaching on Lauzon’s responsibilities in the defensive zone for Boston.

Dmitry Orlov (6) and Daniel Sprong (6) were credited with the assists on Sheary’s first goal of the night and the Capitals led, 3-0, at 9:42 of the first period.

Washington notched three goals in a span of 2:09 as the offensive onslaught was only just beginning for the rest of the night.

Sprong slashed Lauzon at 13:34, but the Bruins could not capitalize on the resulting power play.

Heading into the first intermission, the Caps led, 3-0, on the scoreboard and, 9-7, in shots on goal.

Washington also held the advantage in blocked shots (3-1) and takeaways (4-0), while Boston led in giveaways (4-3), hits (7-3) and faceoff win percentage (53-47) after 20 minutes of action on Sunday.

The Caps were 1/1 and the B’s were 0/2 on the power play entering the middle frame.

Craig Smith held Sheary and cut a rut to the penalty box as a result to kickoff the second period with another power play for Washington at 2:57.

Once again, late in ensuing the skater advantage, the Capitals tallied another power-play goal as Sheary (10) scored his second goal of the night on a rebound that the University of Massachusetts product buried top-shelf while the Bruins netminder outstretched his limbs in all directions.

Tom Wilson (15) and Jakub Vrana (14) had the assists as the Capitals extended their lead, 4-0, at 4:41 of the second period.

Less than a minute later, Justin Schultz was sent to the sin bin for hooking David Pastrnak at 5:34, but Boston’s power play was powerless.

Midway through the middle period, Pastrnak hooked Sheary and presented the Caps with another power play at 13:26, but for the first time of the night, Boston’s penalty kill did not allow a power-play goal against.

Washington scored in the vulnerable minute after special teams play, however, as Nic Dowd received a gift thanks to David Krejci’s attacking zone faceoff win going through the uprights as neither Bruins defender got a stick on the puck.

Hagelin setup Dowd (8) for a floater over Vladar’s glove side on a breakout off of the B’s turnover.

Washington led, 5-0, while Hagelin (8) had the only assist on Dowd’s goal at 16:03.

30 seconds later, Lauzon caught Wilson with a high-stick at 16:33.

Late in the resulting power play (stop if you’ve heard this one before), Wilson (10) redirected a shot pass behind the Bruins goaltender to give the Caps another power-play goal and a, 6-0, lead on the scoreboard.

Alex Ovechkin (16) and Schultz (19) tallied the assists on Wilson’s goal at 18:24 of the second period.

Through 40 minutes of play, Washington led, 6-0, on the scoreboard, despite Boston outshooting the Capitals, 16-14, in the second period alone. The two clubs each had 23 total shots on goal after two periods.

The Bruins held the advantage in hits (15-9) and faceoff win% (60-40), while the Caps led in blocked shots (6-4) and takeaways (10-4).

Both teams had four giveaways aside as Washington was 3/4 on the power play and the B’s were 0/3 on the skater advantage heading into the final frame.

Backstrom hooked Charlie Coyle and the Bruins went on the power play at 2:01 of the third period.

About a minute into the ensuing skater advantage, Smith (8) wrapped a rebound around Vanecek and into the net to put Boston on the scoreboard with a power-play goal.

Jake DeBrusk (5) and Coyle (9) had the assists on Smith’s goal as the Bruins trailed, 6-1, at 3:00 of the third period.

Moments later, Coyle slashed Eller and was sent to the box at 7:49.

Washington did not score on the resulting power play.

Oshie (14) added his second goal of the night on a home run that he tipped in– batting the puck out of the air– over Vladar’s glove side shoulder to make it, 7-1, Washington at 10:13.

Backstrom (29) had the only assist on the goal.

A few minutes later, Eller (7) pocketed his second goal of the night, while Oshie (19) recorded his third point of the game with the primary assist. Dillon (13) was credited with the secondary assist as the Caps led, 8-1, at 13:14.

Washington’s eighth goal marked the most goals allowed by Boston this season, surpassing that of their, 7-2, loss on Long Island against the New York Islanders on Feb. 25th.

Late in the period, Kampfer hooked Sheary, but the Capitals didn’t score on the resulting power play at 18:32.

At the final horn, Washington had sealed the deal on an, 8-1, victory, despite finishing the night trailing in shots on goal, 35-33, including a, 12-10, advantage for Boston in the third period alone.

The B’s finished Sunday night’s action leading in hits (25-13) and faceoff win% (54-46), while the Caps headed out of town with the advantage in blocked shots (9-5) and giveaways (9-5).

Washington finished the night 3/6 on the power play, while Boston went 1/4 on the skater advantage.

The Bruins fell to 7-8-3 (4-6-1 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 5-8-2 (3-3-0 at home) when trailing after the first period and 4-7-1 (3-5-0 at home) when trailing after two periods this season.

Meanwhile, the Capitals improved to 18-5-2 (10-3-1 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal, 12-3-3 (7-1-2 on the road) when leading after the first period and 21-2-0 (12-1-0 on the road) when leading after two periods in 2020-21.

Boston continues their five-game homestand (0-1-0) with a matchup against the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday before taking on the New York Islanders on Thursday and Friday prior to facing Washington again next Sunday (April 18th).

In the meantime, the 2021 trade deadline is Monday at 3 p.m. ET and the Bruins have already made a pair of moves after their, 8-1, loss to the Capitals on Sunday.

The Bruins acquired defender, Mike Reilly, from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for a 2022 3rd round pick and have reportedly traded Bjork and a 2nd round pick to the Sabres for forwards, Taylor Hall and Curtis Lazar.

More information to come here on Down the Frozen River as trades are announced on Monday.