NHL on NBC: Boston, Washington tangle in Game 2

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The list of things Boston and Washington want to accomplish on Saturday is pretty simple.

For the Bruins, it’s get a win — doesn’t matter how — and put a 2-0 stranglehold on the series.

For the Caps, it’s score a goal — also, doesn’t matter how — and try to capture home ice advantage.

Those are the predominant storylines heading into Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal, to be played at Boston’s TD Garden (3 p.m. ET, NBC). For the Bruins, Game 1 was a solid home-ice effort as they played tight defensively (allowing just 17 shots, all stopped by Tim Thomas), set a physical tone and made a concerted effort to silence Alexander Ovechkin.

For the Capitals…the loss actually wasn’t so bad.

“We know Boston is a good, physical team and we were ready to match their intensity and physical play,” forward Jay Beagle told Washington Post. “We didn’t win, but there’s no intimidation there.

“We know we can play with them.”

The Capitals were pleased after going into a tough environment, playing the defending Stanley Cup champs hard and taking them to overtime. While the lack of goalscoring is a problem — “we just have to stay focused [on the offense],” Ovechkin said — the team felt confident in its ability to trade punches with the Bruins.

“Even strength, it was an even battle both ways through the whole thing,” head coach Dale Hunter said. “Until an overtime goal, it was pretty much even at even strength. Power-play time, they did have some more scoring chances because they had more power-play time.

“But as far as even strength, it was pretty even out there.”

Game 2 Notes:

According to Japers’ Rink, Zdeno Chara was on for 90 percent of Ovechkin’s even strength ice time in Game 1. The most time Ovechkin was on the ice without Chara at even strength? Twenty-three seconds.

— David Krejci didn’t practice Friday after being hit on the head with a pane of glass celebrating Chris Kelly’s OT winner, but said he felt fine and should be good to play on Saturday.

— Boston out-shot Washington 26-7 lead in shots after 40 minutes in Game 1. Ovechkin was held to just one shot for the entire contest.

— Both teams will be looking to get their power plays on track. The Caps went 2-for-24 to close out the regular season and 0-for-2 on Thursday. The Bruins went 2-for-21 down the stretch, and 0-for-4 in Game 1.

B’s ink prospects Fitzgerald, Johansson to entry-level deals

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Boston has brought a pair of talented youngsters into the fold.

Forward Ryan Fitzgerald, who just wrapped his senior season at Boston College, and defenseman Emil Johansson — who spent this year playing in the Swedish Hockey League — have signed their entry-level deals and will begin playing with the club’s AHL affiliate in Providence.

Fitzgerald — who’s father, Tom, is the assistant GM in New Jersey — scored 31 points in 34 games for BC this year, serving as an alternate captain. He was originally taken by Boston in the fourth round (120th overall) of the ’13 draft.

Johansson, 20, was a seventh-round pick in ’14 that’s panned out pretty well. He scored a career-high seven goals and 17 points in 49 games for Djugardens this year, appearing in three playoff contests.

 

 

Ducks send Stoner to AHL on conditioning loan

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Clayton Stoner is going to play some hockey again.

The Anaheim Ducks announced today that the 32-year-old defenseman has been assigned to AHL San Diego on a long-term injury conditioning loan.

Stoner has not played since Nov. 15. He had abdominal surgery in December, at which point the Ducks said he’d miss an additional 4-6 weeks. But a setback in his recovery extended the time frame.

“The setback was kind of just me trying to get back maybe a little bit quicker than I should,” Stoner told the O.C. Register recently. “And I wasn’t ready. Things have been good here for a little while so hopefully I’m just trying to string some days together and earn a spot back and kind of prove that I can be healthy and stay healthy.”

Panthers didn’t want to trade Crouse, but Bolland contract was ‘strangling’ them

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Interesting note here from Florida head coach Tom Rowe who, last night, watched former Panther prospect Lawson Crouse play in Florida for the first time since being traded to Arizona.

Crouse was the price the Panthers had to pay to unload Dave Bolland‘s contract on the Coyotes last summer. Rowe wasn’t involved with the Bolland signing, but was involved in dumping the contract — he was Florida’s assistant GM at the time the deal went down.

His take, from the Miami Herald:

Florida traded Crouse to the Coyotes last summer as part of a salary cap dump; Arizona took on the final three years and $16.5-million of Dave Bolland’s contract in exchange for a top prospect — in this case, Crouse.

“We got criticized for giving up on a great young prospect but we had to,” Rowe said. “That contract was strangling us, cap-wise. …

“When we traded him, our scouts were furious. I’m not going to lie. But we had to do something and that was trade Lawson. I’m sure, to this day, he’s still sour about it.”

Crouse, who Florida took 11th overall at the 2015 draft, has five goals and 11 points through 64 games this year, averaging 11:50 TOI per night. Those numbers don’t jump off the page, but they do need to be taken in context — Crouse is only 19 years old, and the 10th-youngest player to play in the NHL this season.

Bolland, meanwhile, hasn’t played since December of 2015, due to a variety of back and ankle injuries. His time in Florida was largely forgettable — after scoring the $27.5 million pact, he played just 78 games in a Panthers uniform, scoring 28 points.  It’s widely regarded as the worst deal GM Dale Tallon has made during his time with the organization.

Shortly after taking on his contract, Coyotes GM John Chayka said Bolland wouldn’t be healthy for the “foreseeable future.” The 30-year-old has two years remaining on his deal, at $5.5 million annually.

 

Arizona lawmaker suggests Coyotes pledge more money for new arena

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Arizona Senate President Steve Yarbrough does not expect a piece of legislation to pass that would give the Coyotes millions of dollars in public financing to build a new arena.

That being said, Yarbrough thinks the Coyotes may be able to gain some “traction” if they offer to put in more of their own money.

Under the current plan, the team has pledged $170 million of the arena’s total cost, which is estimated at almost $400 million. The difference would be made up by new sales taxes, plus $55 million from the still-to-be-determined host city.

“If you are getting no traction the way the bill is designed, you could see if the hockey team paid a greater portion,” Yarbrough told the Arizona Republic yesterday. “I have been around this business long enough to know that if it’s not working in this format, you change the format to make it more attractive.”

For their part, the Coyotes have not said whether they’d be willing to pay a greater portion of the project, only that they’ll continue to “work hard to find a viable arena solution in the greater Phoenix area, a market that both the club and the NHL believe is a strong hockey market capable of supporting a successful NHL franchise.”

Related: Bettman says Coyotes “cannot and will not remain in Glendale”