Boston Bruins have the edge in all-time matchup with the Vancouver Canucks

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The Vancouver Canucks haven’t won a single Stanley Cup since they entered the NHL in the 1970, right around the time the Boston Bruins were a dominant force thanks to Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito & Co. The Canucks began their franchise in the Eastern Division with the Bruins, which planted the seeds for Boston’s early (and overall) dominance between the two teams.

NHL.com’s John Kreiser put together an interesting take on the Bruins and Canucks’ all-time records against each other, although it’s important to note that the teams obviously don’t play against each other often these days.

  • In 108 contests, Boston is 68-24-15-1 against the Canucks while Vancouver is 25-66-15-2 against the Bruins. Kreiser notes that 25 wins is the lowest amount of victories the Canucks franchise has against any team they’ve played at least 100 games against.
  • Again, their rivalry was especially one-sided in the beginning, when the Canucks were scrambling to build their teams while the Bruins were in the middle of their “Big, Bad” era. Boston went a ridiculous 20-2-1 in their first 23 contests.
  • Perhaps the Canucks aren’t big chowder fans? The Canucks managed a desolate 8-38-7-1 mark in road games in Boston, although they’ve only played in Massachusetts twice since 2003 (winning a shootout in their most recent appearance on February 6, 2010).
  • The Bruins are considerably more comfortable visiting scenic Vancouver. Boston is 29-17-8 when visiting the Canucks, including wins in four of their last five road games in Vancouver. Kreiser also points out that they’ve never been shut out by the Canucks in Vancouver. The Bruins have five out of the six shutouts in the all-time rivalry overall.

Of course, if you’ve followed hockey for a while, you know that even results from the most recent regular season only matter so much once the playoffs begin. In other words, these numbers are for your entertainment more than anything else.. Both teams have overcome some first round hurdles on their way to the Stanley Cup finals. The Bruins beat their long-time tormentors (the Montreal Canadiens) while the Canucks finally overcame their recent headaches (the Chicago Blackhawks). Turning the page on past frustrations is a big part of getting this far, let alone hoisting the Cup.

Kreiser also points out some bigger picture factors that probably are a stronger indicator of Vancouver’s chances than their historical record against the Bruins.

Those aren’t good numbers for the Canucks – but here’s a couple that are in their favor. They are the first team since the 1977-78 Montreal Canadiens to lead the League in both goals scored and goals against, and those Canadiens won the Cup. The Canucks also won the Presidents’ Trophy – and the last four Presidents’ Trophy winners to make the Final have gone on to win the Cup.

Holtby ‘wasn’t as sharp as he can be,’ says Trotz

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Presidents’ Trophy winners once again in the regular season, the Capitals once again face an uphill climb if they are to advance beyond the rival Penguins and the second round of the playoffs.

What began with a strong first period for the Capitals in Game 2, albeit without a reward on the score board, faded into a frustrating 6-2 rout, as the Penguins took a commanding 2-0 series lead as it shifts back to Pittsburgh for a pivotal Game 3 on Monday.

Braden Holtby was pulled after the second period. He gave up three goals on 14 shots, while his opponent at the other end, Marc-Andre Fleury was brilliant with 34 saves.

“He’ll tell you that he can be better. He’s a straight up guy and he will be. I was just trying to change the mojo,” said Capitals coach Barry Trotz of his decision to sit Holtby.

“I thought some of the goals, he wasn’t as sharp as he can be for us. He’s a game-changer for us. So when he didn’t change the game, I just looked to change the mojo a little bit there. That’s all. Braden’s our backbone. He has been all year. We’ve got to find some goals for him, too. We can’t just put it on Braden Holtby.”

Now in a deep but not insurmountable hole against the defending Stanley Cup champs, the Capitals reportedly held a players’ only meeting following this latest defeat.

After failing to open the scoring in an otherwise dominant first period, Washington surrendered three goals in the second, as the Penguins broke it wide open with their transition game, led by two great plays from Sidney Crosby.

“We can’t get frustrated. I think that would be our biggest mistake is to get frustrated right now,” said T.J. Oshie, before expanding on the meeting between the players.

“It was things that people need to say and things that some people need to hear. We were very together with what we said. I don’t need to go into details. Sometimes in our game … you need to hear from your teammates more than your coach. And tonight was one of those nights.

“It was the players in here and what was said is what needed to be said.”

We’ll find out Monday if what was said actually has any impact on the ice.

Penguins rout Capitals to take commanding series lead

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The Washington Capitals are in trouble. Against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Again.

Despite a dominant first period, at least in terms of shots on Marc-Andre Fleury and puck possession, the Capitals saw this game go sideways in a hurry during the second period, on the way to a 6-2 loss to the Penguins in Game 2.

Washington is now in quite a hole, trailing its nemesis 2-0 in this second-round series.

Last year, Matt Murray stymied the Capitals. Though it’s only been two games this year, Fleury has stepped up in the absence of the injured Murray and given the Penguins solid goaltending and frustrated a dangerous Capitals lineup.

After withstanding the storm of pressure from the Capitals in the first period, the Penguins broke this game open with a trio of second-period goals. It started with a shorthanded goal from Matt Cullen, and later continued with a beautiful goal from Phil Kessel and then Jake Guentzel‘s sixth goal of these playoffs.

That led Barry Trotz to take Braden Holtby out of the game, after he gave up three goals on 14 shots, putting in Phillip Grubauer to begin the third period. The Penguins continued the onslaught.

For the Penguins, there are some injury concerns to keep an eye on.

Patric Hornqvist left the game in the first period after blocking a shot around his foot or ankle. He didn’t return. Ron Hainsey had to go to the locker room late in the third period after taking an Alex Ovechkin shot up around the head.

Game 3 goes Monday in Pittsburgh.

‘I wasn’t good enough,’ says Lundqvist after double OT loss to Senators

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The task wasn’t impossible, but certainly daunting.

The Ottawa Senators needed five goals on Henrik Lundqvist just to send Game 2 into overtime.

The Rangers goalie had been spectacular for most of this post-season entering Saturday’s contest, but the Senators, led by a sensational four-goal performance from Jean-Gabriel Pageau, found a way to break through for a 6-5 double overtime win to take a 2-0 series lead against New York.

They did so on just 34 shots through almost 83 minutes against Lundqvist.

“I wasn’t good enough,” said Lundqvist, per the New York Daily News. “Coming up with the extra save there in the end, that’s my job. Even though it’s tough plays on deflections, I’ve got to find a way.”

On three occasions, the Rangers held a two-goal lead. That includes with under five minutes remaining in regulation. They even had a pair of shorthanded goals. But they couldn’t hang on, as Pageau scored twice in the final 3:19 of regulation to record his hat trick.

That set the stage for the eventual winner, as he beat Lundqvist over the left shoulder with a shot from his off-wing on a two-on-one rush.

With the Senators in control, the series returns to New York for Game 3 on Tuesday and Game 4 on Thursday.

“We played well enough to win this game, there’s no question about it,” said Lundqvist. “It’s really tough to lose this one. Clearly they’ve gotten the bounces here in the first two games.”

Capitals’ Holtby begins third period on the bench, Grubauer takes over in net

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Braden Holtby began the third period of Saturday’s Game 2 on the bench, giving way to Philipp Grubauer.

The Washington Capitals fell behind the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 after two periods, with Holtby allowing three goals on just 14 shots. It will be interesting to hear the reason for this decision from coach Barry Trotz following the game.

The Capitals had dominated on the shot clock, but gave up a pair of quick goals to fall further behind Pittsburgh in this game, while trailing in the series 1-0.

Phil Kessel — on a great play from Sidney Crosby — and Jake Guentzel scored 3:10 apart to give Pittsburgh a two-goal lead.