Get your game notes: Red Wings at Bruins

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

• Head-to-Head: This is the 3rd of 5 meetings this season between these Original Six teams, and current Atlantic Division rivals. They have split the season series thus far…

• Oct. 9 at DET: DET def. BOS 2-1.

• Oct. 15 at DET: BOS def. DET 3-2 (SO).

• DET F Gustav Nyquist had one goal in each game of the series (both PPGs). G Jimmy Howard was in the Red Wings’ net for both games.

• BOS F David Krejci and F Reilly Smith each had a goal in regulation and the shootout in the Oct. 15 meeting. G Tuukka Rask also started both games in net for BOS.

• 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs: BOS beat DET 4 games to 1 in their First Round playoff series last season…

• Detroit shut out Boston in Game 1, but the Bruins won 4 straight to advance to the Second Round.

• Atlantic Division matchup: Detroit sits 2nd in the division, while Boston is currently 6th…

• With 47 points, Detroit trails only division-leading Tampa Bay (48 points), but the Wings have a game in hand. Detroit stands 4th in the Eastern Conference.

• The B’s (39 points) are currently outside the playoff picture, trailing 5th-place Florida (40 points) by a point in the division standings and Washington (42 points) by 3 points for the 2nd Wild Card spot in the East.

• Detroit back on track: The Wings have now won back-to-back games following a 6-game losing streak
(0-2-4) earlier in the month…

• Detroit entered the holiday break with a 6-3 W vs. BUF, followed by a 3-2 (OT) W vs. OTT on Saturday coming out of the break.

• Their 9 goals in the past 2 games equal the number they scored in the previous 7 games (1-2-4).

• That 6-game losing streak was a season high, but 5 of the 6 were one-goal games and all 4 OT/SO losses came in the shootout.

• DET has the most SO losses (7) in the NHL this season. The Wings are 1-7 in the shootout, and
4-9 in games that go past regulation overall.

• December slump for the Bruins: The B’s have lost twice as many games as they have won this month, going 4-6-2…

• With a loss of any kind tonight, Boston would have its first sub-.500 month since Feb. 2012, when the B’s went 5-7-1 (the Bruins finish their December schedule on New Year’s Eve vs. TOR).

• BOS is coming off a 6-2 loss at CBJ on Saturday, a game in which both starter Niklas Svedberg and Tuukka Rask each gave up 3 goals on 15 shots.

• The B’s had won 2 straight games leading up to the break – home wins over BUF (4-3 OT) and NSH (5-3).

• Boston has allowed more goals (95) than it has scored (91) this season. Last season, Boston led the NHL in margin for outscoring opponents, and it has not allowed more goals than it has scored in a season since 2007-08.

• Special Teams glance: Detroit ranks 3rd in PP% (24.3%) and 2nd in PK% (88.4%), while BOS is in the lower 3rd of the league in both (see team stats section below for all rankings)…

• DET has PP goals in 3 straight games (6-for-13 overall), and is 40-for-43 on the PK in December.

• BOS has just 3 PPG in their last 18 games (3-for-37 overall), but 2 of those have come in the last 3 games.

DETROIT TEAM/PLAYER NOTES

• F Gustav Nyquist scored a highlight-reel OT winner against OTT on Saturday – his team-leading 15th goal.

• Nyquist leads the team in PPG (8 – T-3rd in NHL).

• Nyquist has 38 goals in his last 70 regular-season games.

• Against BOS: Nyquist has goals in each game vs. BOS this season, and 4G-1A in 4 career GP vs. the B’s.

• Captain F Henrik Zetterberg has played in all 36 games, and leads the Wings in points (32) and assists (24).

• Zetterberg had 1G, 1A vs. OTT on Saturday, extending his point streak to 4 games overall (3G-3A).

• F Pavel Datsyuk began the season on injured reserve with a separated shoulder (suffered in preseason), and overall he has played in just 25 of the team’s 36 games.

• Despite this, Datsyuk has 13G-13A this season to rank 2nd on the team in points (26).

• Datsyuk enters tonight on a 3-game point streak (1G-2A).

• G Jimmy Howard returned on Saturday after injuring his groin vs. NYI on Dec. 19 (missed 2 starts). He stopped 31 of 33 shots in the OT win.

• Howard has just 1 regulation loss in his last 11 starts (6-1-3, 2.08 GAA, .922 SV%) dating back to Nov. 24.

• Overall this season, Howard is 14-5-7 with a 2.05 GAA and .922 SV%.

• Career vs. BOS: Howard is 5-1-1 with a 1.95 GAA and .937 SV%.

BOSTON TEAM/PLAYER NOTES

• With a goal against CBJ, F Patrice Bergeron extended his point streak to 3 games (1G-4A).

• Bergeron leads the Bruins in points (27) in 36 GP.

• According to coach Claude Julien, Bergeron and F Milan Lucic will not play tonight due to injuries.

• G Tuukka Rask had won back-to-back games entering the holiday break, but G Niklas Svedberg started against Columbus on Saturday night in the B’s 6-2 loss.

• Svedberg allowed 3 goals on 15 shots and was pulled in the 2nd period.

• In relief, Rask – the NHL’s reigning Vezina Trophy winner – also allowed 3 goals on 15 shots.

• This season, Rask is 14-10-3 with a 2.59 GAA and .910 SV%

• F David Krejci has played in the last 5 games since missing nearly a month with a groin injury.

• Krejci led the Bruins in scoring in October (9 points), but he has just 1 point in the 5 games since his return.

• F Carl Soderberg is 2nd on the team in points (23), but he has just 1 goal in his past 20 games.

• F Brad Marchand leads the B’s in goals (10).

• Marchand did not record a point vs. CBJ, but he scored twice in the game prior to that (5-3 W vs. NSH).

• Marchand has 9 points (4G-5A) in his last 10 games.

What is the Kings’ long-term outlook?

Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings
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With the 2019-20 NHL season on hold we are going to review where each NHL team stands at this moment until the season resumes. Here we take a look at the long-term outlook for the Los Angeles Kings.

Pending Free Agents

The Core

The Los Angeles Kings currently revolve around two cornerstone pieces, captain Anze Kopitar and defenseman Drew Doughty.

They were central figures during two Stanley Cup seasons in 2012 and 2014 and remain vital to the organization. The Ilya Kovalchuk experiment ended when they placed the veteran winger on unconditional waivers for the purposes of terminating his contract in mid-December.

But now the focus has shifted, and general manager Rob Blake is tasked with finding new pieces to help usher in a different era of Kings hockey.
Blake and his staff aim to build through the draft and own 11 picks in the upcoming draft, including three in the second round, two in the third round and two in the fourth round. The Kings currently sit in the bottom five of the NHL standings and will have a premium first-round pick depending on the results of the lottery at the conclusion of the NHL season.

The Kings also made two selections in the first round of the 2019 draft and have a top-five NHL farm system, according to The Athletic’s prospect rankings this past summer.

Los Angeles won’t return to glory overnight, but they have the ammunition to rebuild their foundation and become a contender in the Western Conference once again.

Long-Term Needs

The Kings need to hit on their upcoming draft picks, simply put. The decisions made by the front office in the upcoming offseason could define the success of the franchise. It will be the difference between a three-year rebuilding process or 10-year absence from the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Los Angeles also has to manage the salary cap over the next few seasons. Its patience will be tested, but the organization needs to wait until Dustin Brown and Jeff Carter’s lucrative contracts expire after the 2021-22 season. Goaltender Jonathan Quick’s deal expires the year after.

With new talent on the horizon, the Kings are in a position to clear out bad contracts but should avoid long-term commitments until a new core is established at the NHL level.

Long-Term Strengths

The good news is Kopitar and Doughty are still performing at a high level. The captain led the team in scoring with 62 points, surpassing his total from last season in 11 fewer games. Doughty leads the team in ice time, averaging a shade under 26 minutes per game and was close to eclipsing the 40-point mark for the sixth straight season.

In addition, Sean Walker secured a spot on the blueline with strong play in the first 70 games of his career. The undrafted defenseman also showed ability on the offensive side of the ice with 24 points, most of which came at even strength.

Most importantly, Todd McLellan looked to be making strides in his first year as head coach. The Kings finished (maybe) the season with an impressive seven-game winning streak and went 10-2-1 in the final 13 games.

The team has a lot of flexibility going forward and now it’s up to Blake to make the correct decisions, and McLellan to execute that plan on the ice.

MORE ON THE KINGS:


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

Brian Burke, Mike O’Connell feud over claims about Joe Thornton trade talks

Burke, O'Connell feud over Thornton trade
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Hockey fans have fond memories of Brian Burke’s feud with Kevin Lowe, and now it seems we have a sequel. Burke and former Bruins GM Mike O’Connell are in a war of words over alleged Joe Thornton trade talks. The biggest winners? Us.

Consider it a very short three act play or … boxing match, maybe more appropriately?

Round 1: Burke recalls trying to bring Thornton to the Ducks, “babysitting” O’Connell

Burke provided refreshingly candid answers to fan questions during an April 2 Twitter Q&A. The thread is worth your time, as Burke discusses the likes of Wayne Gretzky, Phil Kessel, Roberto Luongo, and Gary Bettman.

But it was a two-part bit about Burke trying to bring Thornton to the Ducks that got the ball rolling.

Burke explained that he’s “still bitter” that the Ducks didn’t land Thornton, and believes he offered O’Connell a better deal than the Bruins ultimately received from the Sharks.

Most fascinatingly, Burke even gave specifics about what he was willing to offer. Now, one can speculate about who would have been in the Ducks top five in 2005. Would Ryan Getzlaf or Corey Perry possibly been available for Thornton?

But either way … wow.

As a reminder, the Bruins ended up receiving Marco Sturm, Wayne Primeau, and Brad Stuart for Thornton. As Bruins fans would like to forget, Thornton continued to be a star for the Sharks, including winning the 2005-06 Hart Trophy.

[PHT Time Machine: The Eric Lindros trade that didn’t happen.]

Round 2: O’Connell says Burke’s Thornton claims were a “fabrication”

Things got juicier between O’Connell and Burke on Tuesday.

O’Connell told The Athletic’s Joe McDonald (sub required) that Burke’s hypothetical offer didn’t happen, and that the details were a “fabrication.”

“The details surrounding this story are fabricated and I can confirm that no such offer was made to me as I never informed Anaheim of my intentions to trade Joe Thornton,” O’Connell said. “Unfortunately, certain personalities never let the truth get in the way of their ultimate goal, self-promotion.”

Whew! (Shakes hand to indicate serious heat emanating from this rivalry.)

Round 3: Feud sizzles to a new level as Burke counters

Not to be outdone, Burke responded to O’Connell’s claims in a fiery appearance on ESPN on Ice with Emily Kaplan and Greg Wyshynski. Burke made a key point by noting that current Ducks GM Bob Murray was in Burke’s office when he made the offer(s).

Burke also revived memories of wanting to battle Kevin Lowe in a fabled barn over the Dustin Penner offer sheet, saying “I wish we were in the same room, if you’re calling me a liar.” You really need to hear the entire clip, which Wyshynski posted:

*Ponders putting on oven mitts, this is all too hot to handle*

So obviously, this is a he-said, Burkie-said situation. We can only take each hockey executive’s word for it, and one could even argue that Murray might feel loyal to Burke.

But, considering the specifics of Burke’s claims, it seems feasible that the Ducks made some sort of offer for Thornton.

Theories

Perhaps the truth is somewhere in the middle.

It’s also crucial to realize how much a person’s memory can be altered by time. This happened in 2005, and sometimes the seeds of trades are planted far before a deal is consummated. It’s possible that O’Connell flat-out doesn’t remember Burke’s offer(s).

Not only has time passed, but O’Connell also took a ton of heat for the trade. McDonald notes this anonymous reaction from a Bruins player at the time of the trade:

“Are you kidding me? We traded Joe Thornton for three guys who can’t tie their skates.”

The Bruins fired O’Connell in March of 2006, and the Thornton trade undoubtedly served as a catalyst. Such events can leave you a bit scarred, and maybe even prompt you to forget certain details. Maybe phrasing like “babysitting” bothered O’Connell, even if I took it to mean that Burke was checking up on the situation quite often.

Or maybe O’Connell is right in claiming that Burke is making those Thornton trade claims with the “ultimate goal” of “self-promotion?”

One thing’s clear: this is fun

We can only really guess, and perhaps spend this coronavirus quarantine time imagining “What if?” scenarios. Could Thornton have pushed the Ducks into mini-dynasty status, as this was during their Chris Pronger – Scott Niedermayer era? Would the Bruins have landed blue chips rather than “guys who can’t tie their skates?”

(That’s totally unfair to Primeau, Sturm, and Stuart, as they all had lengthy NHL careers. Though I admit I have not received definitive proof of how adept they are with laces.)

The one thing we do know is that Thornton landed with the Sharks and had a great run. And that O’Connell (currently director of pro development for the Los Angeles Kings) and Burke (Sportsnet personality) probably aren’t best buds.

Hey, it’s a lot more fun than talking about escrow though, right?

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.

NBCSN’s Hockey Happy Hour: McGinn stuns Capitals in double OT

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NBC Sports’ Hockey Happy Hour continues this week with matchups featuring unsung heroes.

The Hurricanes battled the defending Stanley Cup champion Capitals to a Game 7 in Round 1 of the 2019 Playoffs. In Game 7 in Washington, Carolina rallied from two separate two-goal deficits to force overtime. In the second overtime period, Brock McGinn netted the winning goal that ended the third longest Game 7 in NHL history.

Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire had the call of Game 7 from Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, April 7
• Hurricanes vs. Capitals (2019 Round 1, Game 7, Brock McGinn) – 5 p.m. ET
• #HockeyAtHome: Episode 1 – NHL Brothers – 6:30 p.m. ET

Wednesday, April 8
• Senators vs. Penguins (2017 Eastern Conf. Final, Game 7, Chris Kunitz) – 5 p.m. ET
• NHL: Pause and Rewind – 6 p.m. ET

Thursday, April 9
• NHL: Pause and Rewind (Encore) – 5 p.m. ET
• Rangers vs. Kings (2014 Stanley Cup Final, Game 5, Alec Martinez) – 6 p.m. ET

#HOCKEYATHOME: EPISODE 1 – NHL BROTHERS – TUESDAY, 6:30 P.M. ET ON NBCSN
Kathryn Tappen and Sportsnet host David Amber will co-host a 30-minute program about brothers in the NHL. The three sets of brothers interviewed and featured in the program are Eric, Jordan, and Marc Staal; Brady and Matthew Tkachuk; and Quinn and Jack Hughes.

NHL: PAUSE AND REWIND – WEDNESDAY, 6 P.M. ET ON NBCSN
The premiere of a one-hour special, NHL: Pause and Rewind, will take a look back at this past NHL season as well as how players are spending their time off in the current league hiatus. Highlighted segments will include a look at the current top five teams in each conference, reflecting on the season’s milestones, including Alex Ovechkin’s historic 700 goal accomplishment, as well as revisiting the Blues’ improbable Stanley Cup victory last season.

NBC Sports commentators conducting player interviews and sharing #HockeyAtHome social content will also be featured throughout the program.

Programming will also stream on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

More information about NBC Sports’ Hockey Happy Hour can be found here.

Third Avalanche player tests positive for COVID-19

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An eighth NHL player has tested positive for COVID-19.

The league announced Tuesday that a third player from the Colorado Avalanche has the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The league says the player is in self-isolation and has not had close contact with teammates or Colorado staff members.

The five other NHL players who tested positive all play for the Ottawa Senators. The Avalanche and Senators played games in California in March before the season was paused.