Detroit Red Wings v Boston Bruins

NHL Extra: Breaking down Red Wings vs. Bruins

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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.

Capitals bump Todd Reirden up to associate coach

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 10:  Assistant coach Todd Reirden of the Washington Capitals talks to the power play unit during a time-out against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Consol Energy Center on May 10, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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The Washington Capitals announced that Todd Reirden (pictured) was promoted from assistant to associate coach on Monday.

What does that mean, exactly? Well, most directly, the team shared word that he’ll run Capitals training camp while Barry Trotz works with Team Canada at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

Giving Reirden a promotion makes sense, as he’s been linked to some head coaching searches. The Washington Post compiled some of his opportunities:

In the past two years, Reirden has been a serious candidate for two NHL head-coaching gigs. According to the Calgary Sun, Reirden was a finalist to coach the Flames before they settled on Glen Gulutzan, and he was considered for the New Jersey Devils’ vacancy last summer, too. Lane Lambert, another Capitals assistant, was a finalist for the Colorado Avalanche head-coaching job earlier this month, according to the Denver Post.

The Capitals have a pretty well-regarded coaching group, as many credit goaltending coach Mitch Korn with some of Braden Holtby‘s improvement since Trotz took over.

Maybe we’ll see Reirden and Lambert get head coaching gigs at some point, but for now, Trotz’s “coaching tree” stays intact.

Penguins believe Kessel, others can heal up by start of next season

SAN JOSE, CA - JUNE 12:  Phil Kessel #81 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates with the Stanley Cup after their 3-1 victory to win the Stanley Cup against the San Jose Sharks in Game Six of the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Final at SAP Center on June 12, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Going deep enough into the playoffs to win the Stanley Cup often comes with the cost of stacking up injuries, and the Pittsburgh Penguins paid the price.

As the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and others report, Phil Kessel (wrist) and others aren’t guaranteed to be healthy to start the 2016-17 regular season.

“All the injured guys are tracking in the right direction,” GM Jim Rutherford said. “Until they all get here, we won’t know 100 percent where they’re at, but it sounds like all the guys should be ready for camp.”

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review runs down a significant list of players who likely accrued bumps and bruises that may carry over:

Defenseman Trevor Daley, for instance, suffered a broken ankle on May 20. Kris Letang (foot), Nick Bonino (elbow infection), Bryan Rust (hand), Patric Hornqvist (hand) and Evgeni Malkin (elbow), among others, dealt with physical problems of varying severity at times.

If recent history is any indication, Kessel will probably fight hard not to miss time.

For all the weird criticisms he receives, he’s been remarkably durable, playing in every game during the past six seasons.

That’s impressive stuff, but the Penguins would be wise to keep an eye on the big picture. If it comes down to making Kessel and others swallow a little pride to limit the odds of aggravating injuries, they need to do it.

Even if it means a bumpy start to their title defense.

Win now, worry later: Why the Lightning should go all-in

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 08:  Ben Bishop #30 celebrates with Andrei Vasilevskiy #88 of the Tampa Bay Lightning after defeating the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 in Game Three of the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the United Center on June 8, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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This is part of Lightning day at PHT …

The Chicago Blackhawks employed some great teams in winning three championships so far during the Jonathan ToewsPatrick Kane era, but there was something special about that first group.

For one thing, Toews and Kane were playing out the final years of their entry-level contracts. Those CBA-powered savings gave the Blackhawks a surplus of players who would eventually be too expensive to retain, most notably Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd and Brian Campbell.

That fantastic group never faced elimination during an overpowering run to the 2010 Stanley Cup.

Thanks to deft maneuvering by GM Stan Bowman, the Blackhawks were able to reload and put together other strong supporting casts even after big losses, and that could be a profound lesson for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

It might be tempting for the Bolts to merely keep their window open as long as possible. Instead, they should take a big swing in 2016-17 and then trust management to recover from any fallout.

Bishop’s expiring contract

The safe move would be to trade away some of the expiring contracts on Tampa Bay’s roster instead of risking getting nothing when they leave.

Many believe that Ben Bishop is on his way out. With one year left on a contract that carries about a $6 million cap hit and Andrei Vasilevskiy getting the Jake Allen-style “you’re the man” extension, it seems like a matter of time.

Keeping Bishop around for one more season might just pay off, though.

For one thing, Vasilevskiy’s shown signs of brilliance, yet his current NHL numbers aren’t overwhelmingly strong. Bishop, meanwhile, kept the Bolts afloat during some tough times in 2015-16.

Even if the Lightning feel like Vasy is the guy, what if he gets hurt? They’ve already seen goalies get injured at inopportune times, and the reigning champion Penguins provide another reminder.

(For more on the Bishop situation, click here.)

Win low, worry later

GM Steve Yzerman deserves ample credit for signing Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman to relative bargain deals, but those are still expensive contracts. The squeeze is coming.

That said, the Lightning may want to identify their own Byfugliens and Ladds and go for broke in 2016-17. Let’s not forget how close they were to a second consecutive Stanley Cup Final appearance even with Stamkos on the shelf.

It’s tough to imagine the Bolts managing to keep all of Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Jonathan Drouin. On the other hand, it’s difficult to imagine many opponents managing to contain an attack that features Stamkos, Johnson, Palat, Drouin and other dangerous attackers.

(Plus, another year of evaluation would give Yzerman time to determine who is truly a core member.)

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It’s a challenging situation, but the Lightning easily rank alongside the Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals and maybe a few other select teams as the cream of the East crop.

They’re positioned to jostle with the elites for some time, but why not take their best shot in 2016-17 and then make the best of things later on?

Sometimes the difference between really good and truly great comes down to having the courage to make these tough calls.

Under Pressure: Tyler Johnson

TAMPA, FL - MAY 18:  Tyler Johnson #9 of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the second period in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 18, 2016 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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This is part of Lightning day at PHT …

What a difference a year makes.

Last summer, Tyler Johnson was such a huge part of the Tampa Bay Lightning, more than a few people believed that he could ease the pain of possibly losing Steven Stamkos to free agency. He tied Stamkos for the team lead in scoring (72 points) and topped all Lightning players with 23 playoff points during their run to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final.

The 2015-16 regular season was a bumpy one for Johnson … in some ways literally.

Painful year

Health was a major obstacle for Johnson, starting with the hangover from a wrist injury he suffered during Tampa Bay’s magic run.

Even afterward, there were moments of pain. Sometimes it came down to flat-out bad luck:

Other times, there were questionable hits:

It wasn’t until late in the regular season that Johnson seemed to feel himself, as he noted to the Tampa Bay Tribune.

“I feel I’ve got the speed back, got everything I can do,” Johnson said. “I’m actually mentally there, not worried about other things …”

Big commitments

He’ll have some things to worry about in 2016-17.

The Lightning handed out a ton of money this off-season, locking up Stamkos, Victor Hedman, Alex Killorn and Andrei Vasilevskiy to lengthy deals. They still need to sort out a contract for Nikita Kucherov, a talented forward who rose while Johnson stumbled.

Fair or not, Johnson must prove that he’s a core member of the Lightning

He made a strong argument in his own favor once he was healthy, generating 17 points in 17 playoff games as the Lightning made it to within one game of another Stanley Cup Final appearance despite missing Stamkos.

Still, Johnson faces a fork in the road. Ben Bishop either needs a new deal or (most likely) a trade to a team that will make him “the guy.” Ondrej Palat likely won’t be the easiest player for Tampa Bay to re-sign, either.

Few players could gain or lose more money with one season of play than Tyler Johnson. He can prove that 2015-16 was derailed by bad luck or allow injury concerns to linger.

Millions are on the line, and those personal goals may very well help Johnson drive the Lightning to another deep run.

For all we know, he could also find himself driving out of town.