Get your game notes: Canadiens at Bruins

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

• Tonight marks the 895th all-time meeting between Boston and Montreal, regular season and playoffs (the most meetings between any two teams in NHL history). The Canadiens had won five straight regular-season meetings in the series, until the Bruins defeated the Canadiens on Mar. 12 in Montreal by a 4-1 margin. The B’s got a combined four points from their second line (Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Reilly Smith) and 35 saves by goaltender Tuukka Rask in the win.

• The Bruins enter tonight’s game having won 12 games in a row, all but one of which were settled in regulation. It is their longest win streak since a 13-game run in 1970-71, and two shy of the franchise record set in 1929-30 (14). If they defeat the Canadiens tonight, they can tie the franchise mark on Thursday evening at TD Garden against the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks.

• Bruins winger Jarome Iginla has been on fire in March, with an NHL-high 11 goals in the month, including seven goals in his last five games. On Saturday, the 36-year-old scored his 557th and 558th career NHL goals, leaving him only two goals shy of Guy Lafleur (560 goals) for 24th all-time. Lafleur scored all but 42 of his goals with the Canadiens, winning five Stanley Cups from 1971-85.

• Canadiens winger Thomas Vanek has four goals since being acquired from the Islanders at the March 5 trade deadline. On Mar. 18 vs. Colorado, Vanek became the first player to score his first three goals as a Canadien in the same game since Alex Smart did so in his NHL debut on Jan. 14, 1943. Vanek also joined Minnesota’s Matt Moulson in scoring goals for three different teams this season (Vanek: BUF, NYI, MTL – Moulson: NYI, BUF, MIN), a feat no player had accomplished since Pascal Dupuis (MIN, NYR, ATL) and Alexei Zhitnik (NYI, PHI, ATL) in 2006-07.

• Before the Bruins’ current win streak, head coach Claude Julien sat one win shy of Jack Adams (DET, 413 wins, 1927-47) for 29th on the all-time wins list. 12 wins later, Julien has solidified his candidacy for the Jack Adams Award, given to the top coach as selected by the NHL Broadcasters Association. If victorious, Julien (who won the award in 2008-09) would become the first two-time winner since former Canadiens great Jacques Lemaire (1993-94, with New Jersey; 2002-03, with Minnesota.)

• Since Julien took over before the 2007-08 season, the Bruins defense has been the stingiest in the NHL, allowing 1,275 goals in 529 games (2.41 goals/game). During that span, they have allowed two or fewer goals in 296 games (most in the NHL) and five or more in only 48 (fewest in the NHL).

• Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask is 7-0-0, with a 1.55 GAA, .946 save% and a shutout during the 12-game win streak. Together with backup Chad Johnson (5-0-0, 1.20 GAA, .954 save%, shutout), the Bruins netminders have allowed two or fewer goals in 10 of the 12 wins.

• Since Mar. 15, Canadiens goaltender Carey Price is 3-1-0 with a 3.28 GAA and .906 save%, following his 5-0-0, 0.59 GAA, .972 save% performance in Canada’s run to gold at the Sochi Olympics. Price has played in and won more games against the Bruins than any other NHL team, posting a career 17-8-3 record with a 2.50 GAA and .919 save% in 29 games vs. Boston – though he has not won at Boston since Oct. 27, 2011 (0-2, with one no-decision since then).

• In 11 games this month, the Canadiens have been assessed 193 penalty minutes, and their opponents have been assessed 187 penalty minutes, both NHL-highs for March. The Habs have gone 7/44 on the power play (15.9%, T-18th in the NHL for March) and 37/42 on the penalty kill (88.1%, T-6th).

Where Avs are at after re-signing J.T. Compher

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The Colorado Avalanche’s offseason continues to come into focus, even as we’re in more of a housekeeping mode, rather than a more exciting time of dramatic renovations.

Earlier, the Avalanche signed intriguing new addition Andre Burakovsky at a bargain $3.25 million rate. While I would’ve been even more excited if the Avalanche would have bought more term, it’s still a nice move, and Burakovsky’s still slated to be an RFA after this one-year re-up expires.

The medium-sized moves continued on Wednesday, with Colorado handing forward J.T. Compher an interesting four-year deal reportedly worth $3.5M per season.

Overall, it’s fairly easy to understand. Compher scored both 16 goals and assists on his way to 32 points last season, despite being limited to 66 games. He quietly logged a lot of minutes (17:29 TOI per game), and had some utility, although the Avalanche might be wise to ease some of his PK duties going forward.

You can dig deeper into certain numbers, or make some tough comparisons, and start to feel not-quite-as-good about Compher’s new contract.

After all, Compher possesses the same contract as now-former teammate Alex Kerfoot, who will carry $3.5M for four seasons with Toronto. On one hand, it’s not as though Colorado necessarily chose to keep Compher over Kerfoot; it’s very plausible that the analytics-savvy Maple Leafs wanted Kerfoot to make that Nazem KadriTyson Barrie deal work, in the first place. On the other hand, the comparisons are natural when you consider their identical deals. Comparing the two using visualizations including Evolving Hockey’s Regularized Adjusted Plus/Minus (RAPM) makes this contract look less appealing:

via Evolving Hockey

Compher doesn’t need to equal or exceed Kerfoot’s value to be worth $3.5M per year to the Avalanche, though, and there’s a solid chance that they’ll be fine with this contract.

It does open up an opportunity to ponder where Colorado is, though.

The Avalanche still have a big-ticket item to re-sign, as Mikko Rantanen is one of the many RFAs heading for a big raise alongside the likes of Mitch Marner and Brayden Point. If Colorado can convince Rantanen to sign somewhere in the team-friendly range that the Carolina Hurricanes enjoy with Sebastian Aho, or the borderline insane deal the San Jose Sharks landed with Timo Meier, then Colorado would continue to look like one of the smartest people in the room.

But how many steps have the Avs taken after upsetting the Flames in Round 1 and pushing the Sharks hard in Round 2 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs?

Tom Hunter of Mile High Hockey projected next season’s lineup, figuring that Compher will center a third line with two sneaky-good analytics wingers in Colin Wilson and Joonas Donskoi, while Kadri could center a second line with Tyson Jost and Andre Burakovsky around him.

Losing Kerfoot stings, but on paper, that does seem like a middle-six that could ease some of the burden for that all-world trio of Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon, and Gabriel Landeskog. It’s also plausible that the Avs could try to move different pieces around to see if one of MacKinnon or Rantanen could carry their own line, thus diversifying the Avs’ attack.

Yet, with the Central Division continuing to look like a beastly group, it’s tough to say where Colorado fits. Is this team more wild-card material, or will a boosted supporting cast push them to a new level? There’s also the possibility that things don’t work out the same way as they did in 2018-19, from that MacKinnon line slowing to maybe the goaltending falling short.

Whatever value Compher ultimately brings, along with newcomers like Burakovsky, Kadri, and Donskoi, a mild itch for something bolder remains for some of us (I blame the NBA’s run where the West is revolutionized every week, seemingly). At least Avs fans can let their imaginations run wild, as there could be some space left over, even after Rantanen gets paid:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Golden Knights make dream come true for young fan battling cancer

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He may not be on the payroll, but 13-year-old Doron Coldwell is a Vegas Golden Knight through and through.

But his story begins long before the Golden Knights stepped onto the ice for their inaugural season in 2017-18. As documented during a “My Wish” segment this summer on ESPN, Coldwell’s connection with the Golden Knights began with some heart-breaking news.

At first, the tests were inconclusive.

In June 2013, Coldwell’s mother Liat, a nurse, had noticed that his glands were swollen but a series of tests didn’t result in any concrete diagnosis of a problem.

“That started the rollercoaster ride for the next two years of he doesn’t have this, he doesn’t have this, he doesn’t have this,” said Brett Coldwell, Doron’s father. “But he wasn’t getting any better.”

Liat feared the worst.

“I had a very bad feeling that we were dealing with cancer,” she said.

Those fears would become reality. The diagnosis would finally come: Hodgkin’s lymphoma. His chemotherapy began in 2017.

Weakened by his treatments, Brett said that at one point Doron told him that “worst-case scenario, I guess I get to go be with Jesus.”

Instead, Doron, with a little help from the Golden Knights, began to heal.

“The chemo was working,” Doron said.

Gold being the color of pediatric cancer, Liat refers to her son as her ‘Golden Knight’.

And through the Make-A-Wish Foundation and with the help of the team that helped him heal — his cancer in remission — Doron recently became an official Golden Knight for a day.

Doron got a chance to meet the team. A locker bearing his name was in the team’s dressing room and for the first time, he got outfitted in goalie gear and received the full pre-game experience, including being introduced to an assembled crowd at City National Arena, the team’s practice facility.

With a little instruction of Marc-Andre Fleury, Doron was stopping Vegas’ top goalscorers with ease on an unforgettable day.

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

PHT Morning Skate: Stamkos best of an era; Russian Rangers revival

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

Steven Stamkos is the best shooter of the salary cap era. (Raw Charge)

• What active NHLers are Hall of Fame worthy? Here they are, ranked. (Yardbarker)

• Pittsburgh has players who rank among the best, worst at converting shots into goals. Who are they? (Pensburgh)

• Russian invasion fueling Rangers revival. (Featurd)

• Why the folding of the National Women’s Hockey League could be best thing for the sport. (AZ Central)

• Panthers view Bobrovsky signing as needed element for return to playoffs. (NHL.com)

• It’s time to move on from Jon Gillies. (Matchsticks & Gasoline)

• Competition aplenty as under-the-radar depth piece Nicolas Aube-Kubel re-signs with Flyers. (NBC Sports Philadelphia)

• NHL stands out when strengths of major pro leagues are pondered. (StarTribune)

• The latest on the changes and improvements coming to NHL 20. (Operation Sports)


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Seattle close to naming Ron Francis as GM

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SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle’s NHL expansion team is close to an agreement with Hockey Hall of Famer Ron Francis to become its first general manager, a person with direct knowledge tells The Associated Press.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity Tuesday because the team had not made an announcement.

The expansion Seattle franchise is set to begin play in the 2021-22 season as the NHL’s 32nd team.

After longtime Detroit GM Ken Holland went to Edmonton, adviser Dave Tippett left Seattle Hockey Partners LLC to become Oilers coach and Vegas’ Kelly McCrimmon and Columbus’ Bill Zito got promotions, there was a limited pool of experienced NHL executives to choose from for this job. Francis fits that bill.

The 56-year-old has been in hockey operations since shortly after the end of his Hall of Fame playing career. All of that time has come with the Carolina Hurricanes, including four seasons as their GM.

Carolina didn’t make the playoffs with Francis in charge of decision-making, though his moves put the foundation in place for the team that reached the Eastern Conference final this past season.

AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno contributed.

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports