Get your game notes: Bruins at Red Wings

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Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Detroit Red Wings hosting the Boston Bruins starting at 7:30 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

— With one-third of its home schedule in the books, the Red Wings stand 4-4-6 at Joe Louis Arena. The last time a Wings team finished .500 or worse on home ice was in 1985-86, when they were 10-26-4 at home. They finished last in the Norris Division that season.

— Tonight, the Bruins and Red Wings will play their first game in Detroit as divisional foes since Mar. 2, 1974, when they played to a 4-4 tie. That season, Phil Esposito won the Hart Trophy, Bobby Orr won his seventh Norris Trophy and the Bruins advanced to the Stanley Cup Final (lost to Philadelphia).

— On Nov. 21, the Red Wings snapped an eight-game home winless streak (0-2-6) that included three overtime losses and three shootout losses. The Wings have lost 11 straight OT/SO games at Joe Louis Arena (last win: April 1, 2012), the club’s longest winless streak since going 12 straight from Mar. 30, 1997-Dec. 28, 1998. The last NHL team to go winless in as many consecutive home OT/SO games was the N.Y. Rangers (14 games, Dec. 23, 2002-Oct. 19, 2005). (Elias Sports Bureau)

— The Red Wings have had the better of the Bruins during the past four+ seasons. Since the beginning of the 2009-10 season, Detroit has won five of the teams’ six meetings. The lone Boston win came on Oct. 5 of this season, a 4-1 win at TD Garden.

— Since November 18, 2010, Tuukka Rask is 6-0-0 when facing 40+ shots in a game. In those games, the Bruins netminder has allowed only a combined five goals on 248 shots.

— Jonas Gustavsson is expected to start in goal for the Red Wings tonight. This would be his second straight start and fourth in Detroit’s last six games; he is 5-0-1 with a 2.35 GAA and .926 save% this season. No. 1 goalie Jimmy Howard is mired in a career-long seven-game winless streak (0-3-4) and has lost 13 games this season (5-7-6), three of them in a shootout.

— Daniel Alfredsson is slated to suit up in his 1,199th NHL game tonight. His games-played total ranks third all-time among Swedish-born players, behind long-time Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom (1,564) and Mats Sundin (1,346). Lidstrom will have his #5 jersey retired in Detroit on Mar. 6, 2014.

— Michigan native and rookie Torey Krug is tied for the NHL lead in goals by a defenseman, with seven. (Erik Karlsson, Shea Weber, Michael Stone). The last time that a Bruins defenseman led the NHL in goals at his position was 1995-96, when Raymond Bourque scored 20 (tied with Gary Suter).

— Through 24 games, the Bruins have 12 power-play goals (T-6th fewest in the NHL) on an NHL-low 62 opportunities in an NHL-low 100:27 power-play time. The Red Wings have had the man-advantage for 25:25 more than the Bruins (125:52), but even that figure is the 4th-lowest in the league.

— On Sunday, Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg became the ninth player in franchise history to score 700 career points for the historic hockey franchise. He reached the milestone in 739 NHL games, the fifth-fewest among the nine players. (Steve Yzerman – 519 games, Sergei Fedorov – 638, Gordie Howe – 673, Pavel Datsyuk – 706) (Elias Sports Bureau)

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”

Into the fire: Halak, recalled yesterday, starts for Isles in Pittsburgh

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A little scene setting for you.

New York heads into tonight’s massive game in Pittsburgh sitting two points back of Boston for the final wild card in the Eastern Conference. The Isles have two games in hand on the B’s — who are idle tonight — so a win could move them into a playoff spot.

As such, the Isles will start a goalie that hasn’t played in the NHL in 85 days.

Against the league’s highest-scoring offense.

The goalie in question is Jaroslav Halak, who’s spent the last three months playing for the Isles’ AHL affiliate in Bridgeport. Recalled yesterday, Halak will now face big league competition for the first time since Dec. 29, when he allowed four goals on 24 shots in a loss to Minnesota.

(Afterward, then-head coach Jack Capuano ripped Halak, saying he gave up “some soft goals to start” and “wasn’t sharp at all.”)

But Halak’s been really good in Bridgeport.

He’s posted a 17-7-1 record with a 2.15 GAA and .925 save percentage, and a pair of shutouts. And given how spotty Berube’s play has been as Greiss’ backup, the Isles really had no other choice than to recall Halak.

The club is in the midst of a compacted part of the schedule. Greiss was excellent in Wednesday’s win over the Rangers — stopping 34 of 36 shots in a 3-2 victory — but he was also busy.

The Isles are in Pittsburgh tonight, then host the Bruins on Saturday — another massive game — then host the Preds on Monday. It’s a compact part of the schedule, and Berube’s struggles have rendered him virtually unplayable, given how meaningful the games are (and, to borrow a timeless cliche, how vital points are at this time of the year.)

So it’s Halak tonight, and possibly more down the stretch.

For Tuukka Rask and the Bruins, a ‘bad goal’ at the worst possible time

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The growing ranks of Tuukka Rask detractors gained some serious ammunition during last night’s loss to Tampa Bay.

The deciding goal in the 6-3 defeat was a “bad one,” according to Rask and most anyone else who was watching.

It may have been a hard shot by Jonathan Drouin, unleashed at the top of the circle, but it still should’ve been stopped.

After the game, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy told reporters that Rask “needed to be better tonight.”

In fact, Rask hasn’t been very good the past few months. Since Jan. 1, his save percentage is just .888. But with nobody trustworthy behind him, he’s had to just play through his struggles.

It’s impossible to say if Rask’s numbers would be better if the Bruins had a more capable backup. He’d be more rested, though. And when he was struggling, the coach would at least have another option to consider. With an .897 save percentage on the season, Anton Khudobin simply hasn’t been reliable enough to garner that consideration.

Don’t expect Rask to get the next game off. Saturday in Brooklyn, the Bruins — losers of four straight in regulation, and suddenly on the verge of falling out of the playoff picture — face the Islanders in arguably the biggest game of both teams’ seasons.