Montreal Canadiens v Boston Bruins

PHT Predicts: Bruins vs. Canadiens — Who do you have?

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There’s not much that could be said to help hype this series up more. These two have fought each other like crazy both on the scoreboard and on the ice. We’re pretty sure the cops won’t be called to take care of Zdeno Chara when the series shifts to Montreal for games three and four, but if things don’t go well in Boston for the Habs you never know.

With all the side show stuff, these two teams are made to beat on each other. With Chara along with Nathan Horton, Patrice Bergeron, and Mark Recchi to go up against last year’s playoff hero Mike Cammalleri as well as Tomas Plekanec, Brian Gionta, and paragon of controversy P.K. Subban there’s plenty to watch for here. And that’s not even getting into the stellar goaltending match-up between Tim Thomas and Carey Price.

As for how we’re looking at this series, opinions are still fun.

James says:
Guess which team lead the East in goal differential? That would be the Bruins, who tower over the rest of the conference with a +51 mark. It’s tough for me to picture the Habs managing much of a fight in this series, but the fantastic crowd in Montreal will power them to a win. The vitriol in the air might make this an interesting span of games, but I think Boston is much, much better.

(Then again, I thought the Capitals were eons ahead of the Canadiens in 2010, so you just never know.)

Bruins win 4-1 with Zdeno Chara feeding off the boos and embracing a role as the reluctant villain.

Matt says:
The over/under on the use of the term “stanchion” is tentatively set at 147 for Game 1. For all of the drama and intrigue these two teams have had this season, the playoffs will be something different completely. Here’s the thing, if you look at the teams on paper this should be a total mismatch. The Bruins have better forwards, a better defense corps, better goaltending, and home-ice advantage.

But for all of that being said, the Habs won the season series 4-2 and the only way the Bruins could win a game is if they scored at least a touchdown. This just has the feeling of a series that will go deep and will have plenty of hate to go along with it. In the end, the Bruins just have too much for the Habs to overcome. Bruins in 7.

Joe says:
For all the bombast and bluster that happened in the teams’ last few meetings, you’d think that the season series was a runaway for Boston. It wasn’t and while that might factor into some predictions on how this will go, the chess match that will happen between coaches Claude Julien and Jacques Martin breaks down to which guy has made the better decisions and in that battle I like Julien.

Unless Carey Price can channel his inner Jaroslav Halak, I don’t like this match-up for Montreal. Boston is built like a grimy, do-the-dirty-work playoff team and with all the drama surrounding these two teams, the Bruins are motivated. Bruins take this one in 6.

Think we’re waving our American flags too much in our predictions on this series? Feel free to tell us in the poll what you think of our take. Feel free to leave a fun comment in French for us to crudely translate as well if you’re feeling the need.

Eaves to stick with Benn, Seguin on Dallas’ top line

Patrick Eaves, Jonas Hiller
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Patrick Eaves‘ cameo alongside the dynamic duo of Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin looks like it’ll continue at least one more game.

Eaves, who along with Benn assisted on Seguin’s goal in Saturday’s loss to Chicago, practiced on Dallas’ top line today and should be there tomorrow when the Stars take on the Wild.

“Seguin, Benn and Eaves were in on 11 chances [Saturday against Chicago],” head coach Lindy Ruff explained, per the Stars’ website. They could have three or four [goals]. They should have had three or four. We missed too many good opportunities.”

This latest development is a positive in what’s been a tough year for Eaves. He was hurt early in the season after an awkward fall against the Oilers — a game in which he opened on the club’s top line, next to Benn and Seguin.

All told, he has just three goals and six points in 33 games.

Last year, Eaves was plagued with concussion issues but still managed to produce well, scoring 14 goals and 27 points in just 47 games.

After re-upping in Winnipeg, Byfuglien says leaving ‘never really crossed my mind’

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There was some speculation Dustin Byfuglien would be out of Winnipeg by the Feb. 29 trade deadline or, failing that, when free agency hit on July 1.

But according to him, leaving was never really an option.

“I’ve been here five years and from where we’ve started and where we’re at now, I don’t feel as an organization or a group that we’re far off,” Byfuglien told TSN 1290 on Monday, after inking a big five-year, $38 million extension with the Jets. “My family and I have found Winnipeg nice, and we’re very happy to stay here.

“It never really crossed my mind of going anywhere, and I’m excited to be a Jet.”

Prior to this extension, though, some thought leaving had definitely crossed Byfuglien’s mind.

Back in mid-December, the Free Press reported his initial ask was a whopping eight-year, $55 million deal. Some viewed that as his first potential step out the door.

It would’ve been big money and a lot of term for the Jets to commit, especially given 1) Byfuglien is 30, 2) the team still hasn’t signed captain Andrew Ladd, and 3) the club has some prized youngsters that need new deals this summer, specifically Mark Scheifele and Jacob Trouba. (In that same Free Press report, Trouba’s ask was $56 million over eight years.)

Then, there was Byfuglien at All-Star weekend.

When asked about his future — sign, trade or head to free agency? — Byfuglien said he had “no problem” with Winnipeg, adding “I just want to put on a jersey, to be honest with you.”

Some, like TSN’s Frank Seravalli, who was in attendance for the Byfuglien media scrum, noted the response “did not exactly sound like a ringing endorsement.”

Of course, Byfuglien later clarified his remarks following the All-Star Game.

“Yeah, I’d love to,” he told reporters when asked about re-signing in Winnipeg. “I’ve met a lot of good people and now some really good friends. I’ve been here for a long time. You never want to leave home. I’ve been here long enough; my family has been here and I’ve had two kids here.

“It’s somewhere you don’t want to leave.”

And now — well, for the next five years anyway — Byfuglien won’t have to.

Video: Jets’ Stafford suspended one game for ‘forceful, reckless’ high-stick

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The NHL has dinged Winnipeg forward Drew Stafford one game for his ugly high stick on Colorado’s Nick Holden over the weekend.

“While we accept Stafford’s assertion that he did not intentionally strike Holden in the face, he is responsible for the consequences of swinging his stick in such a forceful and reckless fashion,” the Department of Player Safety explained.

Stafford, who wasn’t penalized on the play, will now miss Winnipeg’s next game — tonight, in St. Louis — and will be eligible to return on Thursday when the Jets host the Bruins.

Stafford will also forfeit $23,387.10 in salary to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

Big Buff, Big Bucks: Jets ink Byfuglien to five-year, $38 million extension

Dustin Byfuglien
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One of the most prized trade deadline targets is no longer.

On Monday, Winnipeg locked in pending UFA d-man Dustin Byfuglien to a five-year, $38 million extension, one that carries a $7.6M cap hit and makes him the highest-paid player on the team.

Byfuglien, 30, was in the last of a five-year, $26 million deal with a $5.2M average annual cap hit. One of the league’s most unique players — a 6-foot-5, 265 pounder that’s played forward and defense, and participated in this year’s fastest skater All-Star skills competition — his bio from the Jets’ release pretty much sums up how much he means to the club:

[Byfuglien] has recorded 32 points (15G, 17A) so far this season while appearing in all 52 games and sits in a tie for second amongst all NHL defencemen with his 15 goals.

Byfuglien leads the Jets so far this season in shots (163), penalty minutes (78) and ice time (24:14 per game).

The native of Roseau, MN, was named to the 2016 NHL All-Star Game in Nashville, TN where he recorded a goal and an assist for the Central Division team.

Byfuglien has been named to the All-Star Game in each of the last four seasons that the game has taken place (2011, 2012, 2015, 2016).

The deal keeps Byfuglien in Winnipeg through 2022 and is the latest long-term deal on the blueline: Tobias Enstrom is at $5.75M per through 2018, and Tyler Myers is at $5.5M per through ’19. Byfuglien’s deal also comes after some questioned how badly he wanted to stay in Winnipeg — at All-Star weekend, he raised eyebrows by responding “I just want to put on a jersey, to be honest with you,” when asked about his playing future.

The five-year term is also down from Byfuglien’s reported original ask, which was $55 million over eight years.

With this move done, Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff can now turn his attention to another prized pending UFA: Andrew Ladd, the club’s captain and another player that’s believed to have high interest around the league as a trade deadline rental.