The Wraparound: Goalie drama in Vegas; Stamkos not ready for Lightning

1 Comment

The Wraparound is your daily look at the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. We’ll break down all of the NHL playoff games on Sunday with the all-important television and live streaming information included.

• Check out NHL Bubble Wrap to look back at all of Saturday’s action.

•  The Second Round continues on Sunday with the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning. The latter is still without Steven Stamkos

• The agent for Vegas Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury caused quite a stir on Saturday. 

NHL GAMES TODAY

Game 1: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Boston Bruins, 8 p.m. ET; NBC (Livestream)

This is probably the best matchup of the Second Round on paper and what should be the closest, most evenly matched. These teams have been two of the league’s best over the past few years and both are perfectly capable of winning the whole thing this year.

While the Bruins will be without starting goalie Tuukka Rask, the Lightning are still without superstar forward Steven Stamkos who remains out of the lineup and is not yet ready to return.

He has been sidelined since February 25 and coach Jon Cooper announced on Saturday that he will remain unavailable for the start of the series.

Even without Stamkos the Lightning still boast one of the league’s most feared offensive lineups with Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point up front. Both of them were outstanding in the previous round. They also have a new-look third line led by trade deadline acquisitions Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow that has played really well this postseason and given them some depth and an added dimension they did not have a year ago.

After beating the Columbus Blue Jackets in five games, the Lightning are 6-2 in the Return To Play and own a 4-1-0 record against the Bruins this season (including their Round Robin meeting).

[Full NHL Second Round schedule]

Game 1: Vegas Golden Knights vs. Vancouver Canucks, 10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN (Livestream)

There is at least one person that is not happy with Robin Lehner getting the bulk of the starts for the Vegas Golden Knights so far this postseason.

That person: Allan Walsh, the agent for Marc-Andre Fleury.

On Saturday Walsh created a bit of a ruckus by Tweeting, well, this

That is a photoshopped picture of Fleury, impaled through the back by a bloody sword with the name of Golden Knights coach Peter DeBoer on it.

(Update: Fleury says on Sunday that he asked Walsh to delete the Tweet)

Do you need me to explain the symbolism here? No? Okay, moving on.

That is probably not the way you want a postseason series to start when you might need both goalies at some point.

Walsh is always going to support his players (viciously if he has to) and this might be one of the more, let’s say, creative ways he has gone about doing that. The decision to send Fleury to the bench here is going to be controversial. He is the bigger name goalie, the face of the franchise, is climbing the NHL’s all-time wins list, has his name on the Stanley Cup a bunch of times (though, he only actually played in one of those Stanley Cup Finals where his team won) and backstopped his team (Pittsburgh and Vegas) to the Stanley Cup Final two other times.

He is also a wildly popular player, not just in Vegas or Pittsburgh, but across the entire league.

Seeing him on the bench in the playoffs might be a shock.

But here is the only thing that matters: Lehner has been the better goalie this season. When the Golden Knights acquired him at the trade deadline from the Chicago Blackhawks you had to know this was going to be a possibility, because you do not acquire a goalie of that caliber for the purpose of just keeping him on the bench. He was a safety net not only in case of injury to Fleury, but in case they wanted (or needed) an upgrade. It is entirely possible (maybe even likely) the Golden Knights go back to Fleury at some point, or stick with the rotation they have used since adding Lehner. But at the moment, the latter player has had the better season.

This is not the first time Fleury has been sent to the bench in the playoffs (it happened multiple times in Pittsburgh) and he has never shown any indication of rocking the boat. Sure, he probably wants to play. Probably always has wanted to play. But he’s also never publicly complained about it or been anything other than a great teammate.

So maybe this is Walsh just going rogue to support his client.

No matter the reason, it is a pretty wild way to start the Second Round.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Monday’s NHL Schedule

Game 1: Philadelphia Flyers vs. New York Islanders, 7 p.m. ET, NBCSN
Game 2: Colorado Avalanche vs. Dallas Stars, 9:45 p.m. ET, NBCSN

MORE:
• Stanley Cup Playoffs Second Round schedule

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Hughes has first NHL hat trick, Devils beat Capitals 5-1

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

NEWARK, N.J. – Jack Hughes had his first career NHL hat trick, Vitek Vanecek made 38 saves against his former team and the New Jersey Devils beat the Washington Capitals 5-1 on Saturday for coach Lindy Ruff’s 800th victory.

“It’s exciting,” Hughes said. “Couple of two-goal games in my career, so nice to cap it off with the third one tonight.”

Ruff became the fifth NHL coach to reach the 800-victory mark. The former Buffalo player won 571 games with the Sabres from 1997-2011. He had 165 wins in five seasons with Dallas and has 64 in two-plus seasons with New Jersey.

“It means I’ve been around a long time,” Ruff cracked. “Great to win the game. Again, you got to do a lot of right things, have good teams, and the way our team is playing I have to give them a lot of credit for getting me there.”

The Atlantic Division-leading Devils have won two in a row after seeing their franchise-record 13-game winning streak snapped by Toronto.

Devils captain Nico Hischier and Fabian Zetterlund also scored.

John Carlson scored for Washington and Charlie Lindgren made 24 saves.

“Not scoring goals, not capitalizing on our chances,” Carlson said. “We’ve had our chances, especially today, but we only walked away with one goal. We could have had five or six. It’s just not going in right now.”

Vanecek, meanwhile, was hoping for the shutout against a familiar foe.

“That would have been nice, but that’s hockey,” Vanecek said, “For sure you’re trying, but not every time; the win is more important.”

Hischier opened up the scoring with his 10th goal of the season midway through the first period on a power play after Alexander Ovechkin was called for slashing.

Hughes wrapped the puck around goalie Lindgren’s right leg and the goal post to put the Devils up 2-0 5:59 into the second period. Hughes appeared to have lost his angle on the goal when he ripped a shot off Lindgren’s face mask and into the net midway through the period for his 10th goal of the season to give New Jersey a 3-0 lead.

The 2019 No. 1 overall draft pick added his third midway through the third period as hats rained down on the ice with New Jersey up 4-0.

“You want to continue to play the right way, but if an opportunity comes you want to definitely put it in the back of the net with authority,” Hughes said. “So tonight, I was able to cap it off and it was nice.”

Fabian Zetterlund capped the scoring for New Jersey late in the third period.

NOTES: The Devils improved to 16-0-0 this season when Hischier has a point. New Jersey’s Nathan Bastain (upper body) did not return after the first period. . Ovechkin is still nine goals away from 800 and 11 from passing Gordie Howe for second place on the NHL goals list.

UP NEXT

Capitals: At Vancouver.

Devils: At the New York Rangers.

Bruins set NHL record with 12 straight home wins to start season

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
2 Comments

BOSTON — The Boston Bruins set the NHL record for most home victories to start a season with their 12th straight, topping the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in overtime with a power-play goal from David Pastrnak.

The Bruins broke the mark of 11 that was set by the 1963-64 Chicago Blackhawks and equaled by the Florida Panthers last season.

“That felt awesome,” Bruins first-year coach Jim Montgomery said. “We talked about it after the second (period) going into the third. There’s been a lot of great teams in this league and you’re able to set a precedent, break a record. It’s pretty special and it doesn’t happen if those guys don’t believe in themselves like they do.”

Boston, which trailed 2-0 late in the second period, tied it with 9:33 left in regulation when David Krejci scored his second of the game on a shot from the right point.

“It’s never fun being down going into the third, you’re sitting in here (in the locker room) trying to figure it out,” Krejci said. “You want to come out and do the job, something special on the line. It’s hard to win in this league. To get 12 in a row at home is pretty special.”

In overtime, Carolina was playing shorthanded after being called for too many men on the ice when Pastrnak one-timed a pass from Brad Marchand inside the far post from above the left circle.

“It was a big win for us, obviously, coming from behind,” Pastrnak said.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Stefan Noesen each scored a power-play goal for Carolina, and Pyotr Kochetkov made 38 saves. The Hurricanes lost their fifth straight.

In a rematch of last spring’s opening-round playoff series that the Hurricanes won in seven games, Carolina shutout the NHL’s highest scoring team for nearly two periods and jumped ahead a pair of power-play goals in the opening period.

“We took too many penalties. That’s hurting us right now,” Kotaniemi said. “I think 5-on-5 we’re doing a really good job. We started good tonight and couldn’t keep that up.”

Boston’s tying goal was originally disallowed because of goaltender interference on Nick Foligno but overturned on a coach’s challenge after it was ruled that he was nudged into the crease by Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce.

Boston starting goaltender Linus Ullmark made 28 saves but had to leave with 13:03 left in the third period with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Teammate Connor Clifton had jumped on him to block a shot during a scramble. Jeremy Swayman made six stops in relief.

Carolina’s Noesen scored at 6:34 in to make it 1-0. And with five minutes left in the period, Kotkaniemi collected the puck near the side of the net after Seth Jarvis‘ shot bounced off the back glass and slipped it inside the post at 15:05.

Krejci scored for Boston with 31 seconds left in the second.

Boston came in with a league-high 82 goals in 20 games (4.10 per game), but it was held to relatively few chances despite getting a 5-on-3 power-play advantage early on.

TAKE NOTE

The Bruins honored captain Patrice Bergeron, who recorded his 1,000th career point when the team was on the road against Tampa Bay, with a message on the Jumbotron. The crowd gave him a standing ovation.

Bergeron became just the fourth Bruin to reach the mark, joining Hall of Famers Ray Bourque (1,506), Johnny Bucyk (1,339) and Phil Esposito (1,012).

UP NEXT

Hurricanes: Host the Calgary Flames.

Bruins: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Predators postpone 2 games due to Nashville water main break

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

NASHVILLE, Tenn. —  The Nashville Predators postponed two home games because of a water main break that soaked their downtown arena.

Hours after the Predators decided they couldn’t play against the Colorado Avalanche, the team announced it also postponed the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Makeup dates for the two games will be announced later.

The NHL said the water main break that occurred “significantly impacted the event level” of Bridgestone Arena. Team locker rooms and the ice surface are on the event level.

Predators President and CEO Sean Henry told reporters that the water in the event level ranged from 3 inches to 3 feet.

“We’re assessing it right now. We’re remediating it,” Henry said. “The good thing is, the water got shut off, the city responded in a pretty fast manner. I don’t think anyone is ready for things like this the Friday after Thanksgiving.”

Video posted by a WTVF-TV reporter shows the water puddled up on the main floor’s concourse area and the team store. The team was forced to close the store until further notice, pointing shoppers online for Black Friday specials.

The Predators’ next home game is now scheduled for Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks.

The water issue also resulted in a switch to a different venue for a college hockey game between Northeastern and Western Michigan. They also had been scheduled to play at Bridgestone Arena, a game that was moved to Ford Ice Center Bellevue.

Rangers trade Ryan Reaves to Wild for 5th-round pick in 2025

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The New York Rangers traded enforcer Ryan Reaves to the Minnesota Wild for a 2025 fifth-round pick.

Reaves had been a healthy scratch for eight of the past 12 games for the Rangers. He gives struggling Minnesota some extra muscle and a veteran presence.

The 35-year-old is signed through only the rest of this season at a $1.75 million salary cap hit. He has no points and 12 penalty minutes in 12 games of his second season with New York.

Reaves has played in 869 NHL regular-season and playoff games for the St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Vegas Golden Knights and Rangers. He was with the Golden Knights during their inaugural season in 2017-18 when the reached the Stanley Cup Final.