NHL Extra: Breaking down Red Wings vs. Bruins

1 Comment

Looking for the numbers breakdown for how these two teams stack up? Look no further as we’ve got you covered as the Red Wings and Bruins drop the puck at 12:30 p.m. ET.

Team scoring

Boston is sixth in the NHL in goals scored with 170.  They’re also fifth in the NHL at goals per game with 3.07. Patrice Bergeron is their leading scorer with 45 points (19 goals, 26 assists). Milan Lucic is their top goal scorer with 23 goals and the power forward will be looking to make his presence felt today both physically and on the scoreboard. The B’s may not have one player dominating in scoring, but they do have eight players with 10+ goals this season. The most surprising of that bunch might be rookie Brad Marchand with 15 goals and 14 assists. Zdeno Chara is their top defenseman in scoring with 10 goals, 20 assists.

Detroit is second in the NHL in goal scoring with 183 goals and third in goals per game with 3.29. The Wings are led by Henrik Zetterberg in scoring with 60 points. Zetterberg has 17 goals and 43 assists to pace the Wings and considering he’s been one of the handful of forwards to play every game this year, his carrying of the offense is no surprise. Johan Franzen leads the team in goals with 26 and while we’re doubting he’ll pot five goals the way he did against Ottawa earlier this year, he’s a streaky scorer so if he gets hot again, look out. Nicklas Lidstrom’s 11 goals and 33 assists from the blue line are good for second on the team in scoring and for being the top defenseman in points for Detroit. If you’re missing out on names like Pavel Datsyuk and Dan Cleary, it’s because they’ve been injured recently but with the team getting back to health they’re as dangerous as they ever were once again.

Goaltending

Boston’s goaltending has been all the rage this year and it’s thanks to Tim Thomas. Thomas is 26-6-6 this season and sporting a minuscule 1.91 goals against average with an astounding .941 save percentage. Thomas has seven shutouts this season as well helping to boost those incredible numbers and he’ll get the start today against Detroit. His backup Tuukka Rask hasn’t been the same guy we saw in the playoffs last year so far this season and should he see action today, he’ll bring his 2.89 goals against average and .916 save percentage in to play. For that to happen though Thomas will have to have a pretty rough game.

Detroit is led by Jimmy Howard in goal. Howard is 27-10-3 this season with a 2.85 goals against average and a .906 save percentage. The numbers aren’t outstanding in comparison to Thomas but the team has been able to support him with great offense. If things get really out of hand it’ll be Joey MacDonald getting the call off the bench to take over. MacDonald is 1-3-1 this year with a .913 save percentage and a 2.39 goals against average in limited action.

Special Teams

Special teams could decide this game and for Boston their power play checks in as the 17th best in the NHL at 17.4%. Their penalty kill is good for 14th in the league at 82.5% and they’ll get that tested in a big way today with the Red Wings. Detroit has the fifth best power play in the league scoring at a 20.9% rate. Being able to score on one out of every five man-advantages is pretty astounding. As for the Wings PK, they’re average stopping teams at a 81.3% good for 18th in the NHL.

Contrast in styles

While we’re not saying that Detroit isn’t a physical team, they certainly don’t roll over for teams that get rough with them, they’re not in the same league as the Bruins when it comes to getting tough. Detroit’s puck possession brand of hockey doesn’t rely on being physically imposing, it’s a brand of hockey that couldn’t be more different than Boston’s tight defensive, physically imposing style of play. Give a read to our compare and contrast piece on these two teams.

Streaks and standings

The Bruins sit atop the Northeast Division with 69 points and are winners of four of their last six games. The Bruins are looking to bounce back after being humbled at home by the Red Wings 6-1. Boston holds a one point lead over Montreal in the division and sit third in the Eastern Conference.

Detroit is leading the Central Division with 72 points and are second in the Western Conference to the Vancouver Canucks. Detroit has won two of their last three and appear to heading towards better consistency and dropping the streaky act. A win today would certainly prove they’re in a good place. They hold a five point lead over Nashville in the Central and a four point lead on Dallas in the West.

NHL Extra

If you’d like to ask James and I questions and get our thoughts on today’s game, you can join us for NHL Extra online and follow along with the action that way. To join us for NHL Extra click here. We’ll be kicking things off at 12:30 p.m.

Stepan: ‘I’ve stunk since the playoffs started’

Getty
Leave a comment

Derek Stepan knows he’s not playing very well, and he knows he’ll have to be better if the New York Rangers are going to make it past the Ottawa Senators.

With just one goal (an empty-netter) and one assist in seven playoff games, Stepan’s offensive production has fallen off a cliff after a respectable 55-point regular season, which included 38 assists.

“I’ve stunk since the playoffs started,” Stepan said, per NHL.com’s Dan Rosen. “I’ve been not very good with the puck.”

An all-situations center, Stepan is more than just an offensive type. But he’s produced in previous playoff runs, and the Rangers need him to produce now — especially against a tight-checking Sens team that boasts a 2.00 goals-against average in these playoffs.

Stepan has 45 points (18G, 27A) in 92 career playoff games.

To be fair, he’s not the only Ranger who needs to get going offensively. One of the Blueshirts’ big strengths during the regular season was their balanced scoring, with all four lines contributing — and that’s not happening right now.

No Bieksa for Anaheim tonight, but Vatanen could return

Getty
Leave a comment

The Ducks will be without their most veteran skater on Friday as they look to even up their series with Edmonton.

Kevin Bieksa, who exited Game 1 with a lower-body injury following a collision with fellow d-man Shea Theodore, has been ruled out for tonight’s Game 2. It marks the first tilt the 35-year-old will miss this postseason.

Bieksa was enjoying a pretty good playoff prior to getting hurt. He racked up four assists in five games, while averaging just under 17 minutes per night. Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle is holding out hope Bieksa could return later in the series.

While this is a loss for the Ducks, it goes a long way in illustrating how much defensive depth they have.

While Carlyle wouldn’t confirm, all signs point to Sami Vatanen drawing in for Bieksa. Vatanen has been out since Game 1 of the Calgary series with an upper-body injury, but has resumed practicing and sounds like he’s ready to go.

“It’s always nice when a player is closer to coming back and you can potentially put them back in the lineup,” Carlyle said of Vatanen.

Anaheim dressed a blueline of Bieksa, Theodore, Cam Fowler, Josh Manson, Hampus Lindholm and Brandon Montour in Wednesday’s 5-3 defeat. If Vatanen can’t draw in for Bieksa, the club still has Korbinian Holzer in reserve.

 

 

Ducks say they’ve allowed Draisaitl too much freedom, too much fun

Getty
Leave a comment

Given the nicknames bestowed on Leon Drasaitl recently — the German Gretzky, Certified Duck Killer — it’s safe to assume the big Oilers forward is having a pretty good time.

That’s something Anaheim wants to put to an end, starting tonight.

“He’s a power forward and we’re allowing him too much freedom. He’s having too much fun,” Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle told the Journal, after Drasaitl went off for four points in Wednesday’s series-opening win.  “I don’t know how I can put it any simpler.”

The 21-year-old has made a habit of tormenting Anaheim this season. He has goals in five of seven career games at the Honda Center and, in his last 11 tilts versus the Ducks, has racked up an whopping 17 points.

Coming into this second round series, most of the focus was on how Carlyle and company would shut down Connor McDavid.

But now it appears they have another matchup issue on their hands.

Carlyle’s most logical choice is to put out the Ryan Kesler line against McDavid, given Kesler’s stout defensive play and ability to shut down opposing centers. But in terms of straight matching, that puts plenty of responsibility on Kesler’s wingers — especially Andrew Cogliano — to deal with Draisaitl. He has good size (6-foot-1, 216 pounds) and has been bolstered by McDavid’s playmaking ability.

As such, there’s a fascinating game-within-a-game to watch this evening. Carlyle has the benefit of last change. The forward matchups will be worth monitoring, but so will the defense — veteran blueliner Kevin Bieksa is doubtful after exiting Game 1 with a lower-body injury, but Sami Vatanen could return after sitting out since Game 1 of the Calgary series.

 

 

Canucks could really use Patrick or Hischier

Getty
2 Comments

The Vancouver Canucks are hoping for better luck in tomorrow’s draft lottery. If they receive it, they may get a player who can step right into their lineup, and stay there for years to come.

The top two picks in the 2017 draft are expected to be centers Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier.

It remains to be seen who will go first overall. Patrick was the consensus pick for a while, but Hischier started to gain ground with an impressive showing for Switzerland at the World Juniors.

“I think the top two players in this draft have the potential to maybe step in and play next year and be productive players at the NHL level,” said Canucks GM Jim Benning. “But I think the next three players, whether you’re looking at a play-making center, or potentially a power-play defenseman, there’s good choices there too.”

Gabe Vilardi, Casey Mittelstadt, and Cody Glass are centers the Canucks could select if they fall out of the top two. Cale Makar, Miro Heiskanen, and Timothy Liljegren are options on defense.

But getting Patrick or Hischier would be a huge win for a team that will soon have to replace Henrik Sedin, who turns 37 in September.

Benning says Patrick offers a combination of size (6-3, 198), skill and hockey sense, with “no real weakness in his game.”

As for Hischier, it’s his speed that really stands out.

“He’s built for today’s game,” said Benning. “His speed going through the neutral zone is fun to watch.”

The Canucks have the second-best odds to win the draft lottery. The furthest they can fall is to fifth.

Last year, Vancouver fell two spots from third to fifth, with Winnipeg and Columbus moving up. The Canucks drafted Finnish defenseman Olli Juolevi with their selection.

Draft lottery odds

Colorado Avalanche 18.0%
Vancouver Canucks 12.1%
Vegas Golden Knights* 10.3%
Arizona Coyotes 10.3%
New Jersey Devils 8.5%
Buffalo Sabres 7.6%
Detroit Red Wings 6.7%
Dallas Stars 5.8%
Florida Panthers 5.4%
Los Angeles Kings 4.5%
Carolina Hurricanes 3.2%
Winnipeg Jets 2.7%
Philadelphia Flyers 2.2%
Tampa Bay Lightning 1.8%