Get your game notes: Bruins at Wild

8 Comments

Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Minnesota Wild hosting the Boston Bruins at 8 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

• Oct 28 – MIN def. BOS 4-3: The Wild and Bruins are meeting for the 2nd and final time this season. In their first meeting in Boston…

• MIN scored 3 unanswered goals in the 3rd period in a 4-3 comeback win over BOS.

• Nino Niederreiter, Zach Parise, Justin Fontaine, and Marco Scandella (game winner) all scored for the Wild, while Bruins rookie Seth Griffith factored in all 3 Bruins goals with 2G-1A.

• The Wild outshot the Bruins 42-28, including 18-8 in the final frame.

• This was 1 of 4 times in Wild history that the team came back from down at least 2 goals in the 3rd to win in regulation (Elias) – the Wild also did this earlier this month vs. NYI.

• Minnesota has been up and down recently: The Wild have alternated wins and losses over the past 12 games (6-5-1) dating back to Nov. 20…

• This includes the 3-game road trip MIN is returning from in which they went 1-2-0, with a shootout win over AZ on Dec. 13 sandwiched by a 2-1 loss in San Jose on Dec. 11 and a 5-3 loss in Chicago last night.

• The Wild rallied to tie the game last night after trailing 3-1 in the 3rd period, but surrendered the game-winning power-play goal to Patrick Kane with less than 4 minutes to go.

• Tonight, the Wild open a 4-game home stand.

• Minnesota is 9-3-1 at Xcel Energy Center this season.

• Boston in a slump: The Bruins have just 2 wins in their last 10 games (2-5-3) since beginning the season 13-8-0.

• The B’s are in the midst of their worst stretch (lost 8 of 10) since dropping 10 straight (0-6-4) back in Jan. 2010.

• Boston has just 1 win in 7 games in December (1-4-2).

• This is the 2nd of a 3-game Central Division road trip for Boston.

• Boston is 6-7-1 away from TD Garden this season.

• Bruins on the mend: The B’s have been without two important pieces, D Zdeno Chara & F David Krejci, most of this season, but…

• This will be Chara’s 4th game back since returning from a knee injury that sidelined him for 19 games.

• Chara has 1 assist (Sat. vs. OTT) since rejoining the lineup, and has played more than 20 minutes in each game.

• However, Coach Claude Julien said after the loss to Ottawa that Chara was, “fighting the puck a little bit.”

• Krejci led the Bruins in scoring in October (9 points), but a groin injury has limited him to just 11 games overall this season. He has missed the last 11 games, but has been practicing and traveling with the team and is considered day-to-day.

• Special teams matchup: Boston’s PP has been struggling, while Minnesota enters with one of the NHL’s top
PK units…

• The Bruins have gone just 1-for-24 in their last 13 games on the man-advantage.

• Despite letting up one power-play goal in each of their last 4 games, the Wild rank 3rd in the NHL on the PK overall (86.7%) this season.

• The Bruins have gone 3-for-7 on the PP in their last 2 meetings with the Wild after going 0-for-36 in the first 13 games in this series.

BRUINS TEAM/PLAYER NOTES

• F Patrice Bergeron leads the Bruins in points (21) in 31 GP, and with an assist last night now has 5 points (all assists) in his last 5 games.

• Bergeron is in a goal-scoring slump, however, with no goals in his last 11 games.

• The Bruins’ 2nd-leading point-getter, F Carl Soderberg, is mired in an even longer drought.

• He has 19 points this season, but has 0 goals in his past 15 games dating back to Nov. 12.

• Boston is getting the best production of late from F Brad Marchand and F Reilly Smith.

• Marchand had an assist last night, and now has 6 points (2G-4A) in his last 5 games.

• Marchand is tied for the team lead in goals (8, w/ Smith) and ranks 3rd in points (18) this season.

• Smith had a goal last night for BOS, and also has 6 points (4G-2A) in his last 5 games.

• Smith has 8G-8A playing in all 31 games this season.

• G Tuukka Rask stopped 38 of 40 shots through OT last night, but ultimately lost in the shootout against NSH.

• Rask has started all 3 games during the Bruins current 3-game losing streak. The reigning Vezina Trophy winner has been a tough-luck loser with a 2.23 GAA and .924 SV% in those games.

• Overall this season, Rask is 12-9-3 with a 2.52 GAA and .914 SV%.

WILD TEAM/PLAYER NOTES

• D Ryan Suter is 1 of 5 Wild players (Keith Ballard, Jonas Brodin, Christian Folin, and Marco Scandella) to get diagnosed with mumps this season, but he only missed 2 games.

• Suter leads the NHL in TOI/G at 29:28, slightly above his league-leading mark of 29:24 last season. He was the NHL’s leader in this category in 2012-13 as well.

• On Monday, Suter was named the NHL’s 2nd star of the week after posting 5 assists in 3 games.

• Suter leads the Wild in assists (17) and ranks T-3rd on the team in points (18).

• F Zach Parise has 9 points (3G-6A) in his last 8 games, and leads MIN with 23 points in 24 GP this season.

• F Thomas Vanek has scored 20+ goals in each of his first 9 NHL seasons, but he has just 4 goals through 29 games this season.

• Vanek has enjoyed success against Boston in his career; his 30 goals and 63 points in the regular season are his most vs. any other NHL opponent.

• Last season, Vanek had 6 points in 6 regular season games vs. BOS, and totaled 4G-1A in last year’s 2nd-Round playoff series against Boston as a member of the Montreal Canadiens.

• F Nino Niederreiter leads the Wild in goals (14), and through 29 games has equaled his goal output from a season ago, in which he played 81 games.

• Niederreiter scored on his first career penalty shot attempt in the 3rd period yesterday – his 3rd goal in 4 games, and 10th in the last 15.

• G Niklas Backstrom got the last-minute start last night after G Darcy Kuemper reportedly came down with the same illness that has sidelined D Jared Spurgeon (stomach virus).

• Backstrom also battled an illness during the game, making 34 saves on 38 shots in the 5-3 loss to Chicago.

• If Backstrom starts tonight, he will bring a stellar head-to-head record vs. the Bruins to the ice.

• Backstrom is 5-0-1 in his 6 career starts vs. BOS, with a 1.32 GAA, .957 SV%, and 2 shutouts.

• Overall this season, Backstrom is 5-3-1 in 12 appearances (9 starts) with a 2.43 GAA and .903 SV%.

Maple Leafs expect Hyman, Dermott to miss significant time

Getty Images
3 Comments

Once you get beyond the sticker shock of the $10.89M cap hit, the Mitch Marner contract is a reason for the Toronto Maple Leafs to rejoice. Rather than the saga drag on deep into the season like the William Nylander fiasco, Marner is gearing up in training camp.

Apparently the Maple Leafs will still be without a noteworthy player or two anyway, even though their losses aren’t nearly as significant as the prospect of being without Marner.

Head coach Mike Babcock estimates that forward Zach Hyman could miss approximately 14-15 games, while defenseman Travis Dermott may be sidelined for a similar span (12-14 games), according to TSN’s Karen Shilton.

If that forecast is correct, then the Maple Leafs could anticipate Hyman and Dermott back sometimes during this range:

Game 12 – Oct. 25: home vs. Sharks
Game 13 – Oct. 26: at Canadiens
Game 14 – Oct. 29: home vs. Capitals
Game 15 – Nov. 2: at Flyers

Naturally, when it comes to injuries, things can change. Ailments can worsen, or players can heal up faster than expected.

All due respect to two useful players in Dermott and Hyman, but the cap management aspect — particularly use of LTIR, and juggling once they’re ready to come back — is likely the most interesting part of this situation.

We already know that Nathan Horton ($5.3M AAV) and David Clarkson ($5.25M) will be on LTIR through the final season of their tragic contracts, providing $10.55M. Hyman carries $2.25M, while Dermott weighs in at $863K. The window for an LTIR stay is at least 10 games and 24 days, so one would expect that Hyman and Dermott would join Clarkson and Horton on LTIR. With Dermott’s cost fairly minimal, things would be most cramped once Hyman is healthy enough to play again. Will Toronto be forced to make a trade, or waive someone they’d rather keep?

Losing Hyman and Dermott for what sounds like close to a month isn’t great to begin with, but things could be especially tricky once they can actually play.

Although the Maple Leafs solved some of their biggest riddles, they’ll still need to answer more questions in the short term, so Babcock could be a busy man — almost as busy as Kyle Dubas.

(H/T to Rotoworld.)

MORE:
• ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule

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.

Bruins get another major bargain with McAvoy contract

Getty Images
6 Comments

Over and over again, the Boston Bruins find ways to sign core players at stunning discounts. They pulled off another steal with budding star defenseman Charlie McAvoy on Sunday.

Remarkably, they signed McAvoy for slightly less than what the Blue Jackets gave Zach Werenski. McAvoy’s contract is for three years, with just a $4.9 million AAV. That’s … incredible value.

Like with Werenski, it’s structured in a way that can make a future contract hefty, and open the door for eventual UFA status. But for a team that’s focused on now as much as the Bruins happen to be, this is even better. It also makes affording Torey Krug‘s next contract feel a lot more feasible. Also, Cap Friendly points out that McAvoy needs more time to reach UFA status than Werenski and Timo Meier, two players who’ve set a standard for how many RFAs approached negotiations this offseason.

When people try to beat up on the Maple Leafs for their expensive top guys, they often (almost unfairly) bring up Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak only costing about $20 million combined – less than John Tavares and Auston Matthews put together. This could be another contract people cite when they shake their head in awe at what the Bruins have done.

(Now, they just need to make sure not to give away any contracts to the likes of David Backes.)

About the only knock on McAvoy, 21, is that he’s dealt with some injury issues. Beyond that, he’s a really well-rounded defenseman, one who’s been instrumental in extending Zdeno Chara‘s career.

Check out how his RAPM charts at even-strength stack up against Werenski, via Evolving Hockey:

McAvoy made a resounding first impression during the 2016-17 postseason, making his NHL debut at that stage, and impressively logging 26:12 per playoff game. He then started strong in 2017-18, generating seven goals and 32 points in 63 games. This past season provided much of the same, as McAvoy scored seven goals and 28 points in 54 regular-season contests and delivering strong work in postseason appearances.

Again, the main concern is staying on the ice, as otherwise McAvoy’s passed his early tests with flying colors.

Cap Friendly estimates the Bruins’ remaining cap space at about $3.2M, and it’s possible that RFA defenseman Brandon Carlo might eat up all of that, or almost all of that breathing room.

This is fantastic stuff by the Bruins. Again.

MORE:
• ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule

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.

Pavelski, Perry switch to Stars after long stays in first home

Getty Images
Leave a comment

FRISCO, Texas  — Joe Pavelski joined the Dallas Stars as an expensive free agent coming off one of his best goal-scoring years, while Corey Perry quietly signed a low-cost deal for one year after playing the fewest games of his career because of a knee injury.

That’s where the differences end for the veteran forwards trying to help the Stars make back-to-back playoff trips for the first time in more than a decade. The Stars will try to get past the second round after a Game 7 overtime loss to St. Louis, eventual winners of the Stanley Cup.

Pavelski and Perry both ended up on the same team after lengthy careers with the clubs that drafted them – 13 years for Pavelski in San Jose and 14 seasons for Perry with Anaheim, including a Cup title.

”It’s different. It’s fun,” said Pavelski, who signed a $21 million, three-year deal. ”It’s an exciting part of our career and it’s a change that I think you come in and you embrace that there’s going to be different things and learn to do it their way and help add to that how you can.

”It’s definitely fun to have a guy coming in with a similar situation.”

Pavelski scored 38 goals last regular season, three off his career high, and helped the Sharks reach the Western Conference finals. San Jose had the most successful stretch in franchise history during the four years he was captain, winning six playoff series.

The 35-year-old figures to play on one of the top lines, probably alongside either captain Jamie Benn or 2018-19 scoring leader Tyler Seguin. The Sharks wanted to re-sign Pavelski but couldn’t make it work under the salary cap after giving defenseman Erik Karlsson a $92 million contract.

Circumstances are a bit different for Perry, who is younger than Pavelski (34) but has seen declining production the past three seasons. Perry might miss the Oct. 3 opener at home against Boston after breaking a bone in his foot two days before the start of training camp.

Even when he’s healthy, Perry isn’t likely to fill a leading role similar to that of Pavelski. Both were drafted in 2003 – Perry with the 28th overall pick in the first round by the Ducks, Pavelski in the seventh round by the Sharks.

”It’s a new chapter,” said Perry, who signed for $1.5 million after the Ducks bought out the final two years of the contract for the franchise leader in games (988). ”It’s something different. I’m embracing it as change is sometimes a good thing, rejuvenates myself and my career.”

Benn figures Dallas is as good a place as any for two guys to start over after each spent so long with the only team he had known.

”I’m sure it’s pretty different for them,” Benn said. ”But we make it pretty easy for guys to come into this group. It’s something I take pride in being a captain is we want guys to be comfortable right from Day 1. I think they’re pretty comfortable. They’re fitting in well.”

The Stars are counting on Pavelski for offense after finishing near the bottom of the league in goals during Benn’s lowest-scoring full season since his rookie year in 2009-10. While Seguin led Dallas in points (80), goals (33) and assists (47), Benn scored just 53 points (27 goals, 26 assists).

”Obviously, he’s a goal-scorer,” Seguin said of Pavelski. ”But the biggest thing for him, too, is he’s another threat out there. You have him in the slot now and guys got to respect him. It’ll open up guys like me maybe for one-timers now and Jamie in front, so who knows.”

Despite career lows across the board because of the knee injury, Perry is a former champion (2007) and the only player on the Dallas roster with a 50-goal season (50 in 2010-11, when he was the NHL MVP).

”I think they’re a little different some ways,” Seguin said. ”I think with Joe you saw how San Jose rallied around him. He’s kind of more of a quiet leader. I think Corey Perry, he’s got the ultimate hockey player resume. He’s won everything. He’s been in every situation, and he’s going to know what to say at those moments.”

Seguin has emerged as a leader a year after signing a $79 million, eight-year extension that kicks in this season, adding him to a mix that includes Benn, veteran forward Alexander Radulov and goalie Ben Bishop, a Vezina Trophy finalist last season.

But there’s always room for more, particularly for a franchise that hasn’t made consecutive trips to the playoffs since the last of five straight postseason appearances in 2008.

”I think we have a couple of levels still to go in how we want to be and what we want to be about as a team,” second-year coach Jim Montgomery said. ”Those two are going to help propel us there.”

Pavelski and Perry start with some common ground.

Far from Czech home, Kubalik adjusts to life with Blackhawks

AP Images
1 Comment

CHICAGO — Dominik Kubalik is leaning on David Kampf while he transitions to life in the NHL with the Chicago Blackhawks. He peppers his Czech countryman with all sorts of questions.

”I think he’s a little bit mad at me right now,” a grinning Kubalik said, ”because I’m still asking ‘What’s that?’ and ‘Where are we going?’ and ‘Where’s the training room?’ Stuff like that.”

The Blackhawks have their own questions about Kubalik, one of the biggest variables in their pursuit of the franchise’s first playoff appearance since 2017.

It sure looks as if Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane might play together on Chicago’s top line, and close friends and former juniors teammates Dylan Strome and Alex DeBrincat are a good bet for the second line. Kubalik is in the mix to play alongside one of those potent duos.

It would be quite an opportunity to walk into as a 24-year-old rookie, but Kubalik isn’t looking ahead.

”Everything is pretty new,” he said. ”I’m just trying to get used to it as quick as possible. But I feel great.”

Kubalik skated with Strome for at least part of Saturday’s session on the second day of training camp. Strome played against Kubalik at the world championships and saw him in the Ontario Hockey League a few years ago.

”He’s got a real hard shot, fast skater, some good hands,” Strome said. ”So I think he’s going to add a different element to our team. He’s got a great one-timer. He knows where to go and knows how to find open ice. Big body, too, so it’s a lot of good attributes to have in a player.”

Coach Jeremy Colliton said Kubalik has been ”as advertised” so far.

”It’s going to be somewhat of an adjustment for him,” Colliton said. ”He has played over here in North America before, so that’s good. But it’s still going to take some practices and games.”

Kubalik was drafted by Los Angeles in the seventh round in 2013. But the 6-foot-2 winger never played for the Kings, who shipped him to Chicago for a fifth-round pick in January.

He had spent most of his career in the Czech Republic before playing for HC Ambri-Piotta in Switzerland for part of the 2017-18 season and again last year.

Kubalik had 25 goals and 32 assists in 50 games for the Swiss club last season, and then had a goal and five assists in five playoff games. He also had six goals and six assists in 10 games at the worlds.

The move to Ambri-Piotta was a key moment for Kubalik in his journey to the NHL.

”I was still thinking that I just need to make another step in my career,” he said. ”So I decided to, if there was a chance to go to Switzerland, felt pretty good about it. So I tried it and it actually worked pretty well.”

Kubalik plans to stick to his strengths in his transition to the NHL.

”I think I’m playing pretty simple,” he said. ”I don’t want to handle the puck for a while. I want to just put it as quick as possible to the net. If there is a chance to shoot, I’m just going to take it.”

While Kubalik is learning his way around Chicago, there was at least one familiar face in the locker room when he joined the Blackhawks. He played with Kampf on a U-20 team in the Czech Republic a couple years ago.

He also could make his NHL debut in his home country when Chicago begins the season in Prague on Oct. 4 against Philadelphia.

”I don’t really want to think about it. It’s still pretty far away,” he said. ”But obviously I know it would be probably amazing.”