The Wraparound: Goaltending not the problem for Bruins vs. Hurricanes

Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The Wraparound is your daily look at the 2022 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. We’ll break down the NHL playoff games today with the all-important television information.

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• Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar had a dominant game to help his team outlast the Predators for a 2-1 OT win

The Boston Bruins will have a couple of changes to their Game 3 lineup on Friday when they try to get on the board in their First Round series against the Carolina Hurricanes. Some of those changes will be by necessity (Hampus Lindholm‘s injury taking him out of the lineup). Others will be strategic in an effort to change something about what has been, so far, a one-sided season-long matchup.

The main change in the latter category will be a goalie switch that will see Jeremy Swayman replace Linus Ullmark in net.

Ullmark started the first two games of the series, allowing eight goals on 57 shots (an .860 save percentage) in his first career playoff action. It was a split net during the regular season with Ullmark and Swayman splitting the playing time nearly 50-50 (with nearly identical results) but it was Ullmark that got the start when the playoffs began and it has taken then just two games to try something new.

Switching goalies is the obvious and easy change at this point, but the Bruins’ problems in this series run far deeper than who is in goal.

Ullmark has not been great through the first two games, but he is hardly the reason the Bruins are returning home and facing a 2-0 series deficit. The team in front of him, quite frankly, has been awful and is still unable to solve anything the Hurricanes are doing against them this season.

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 First Round schedule, TV info]

In five head-to-head meetings this season (regular season and playoffs) the Bruins are 0-5, been outscored by a 4-26 margin, have never been closer than three goals in any final score, and so far in the series have been an undisciplined mess that takes too many reckless and needless penalties. Add in a dreadful power play unit (one that has been dreadful against everybody lately, not just Carolina) and you have the perfect storm for a one-sided series.

Sure, maybe a goalie switch can spark something, but the clear problem for the Bruins here just seems to be the simple fact that Carolina looks like a better hockey team. They are faster, better offensively, every bit their equal defensively, and, quite shockingly, are more physical than the Big Bad Bruins. It is why Boston has just four goals against the Hurricanes in five games this season and why they generate fewer chances and expected goals against the Hurricanes than they do against the rest of the league (and they allow so many more against Carolina).

If the Bruins can not figure out a way to solve Carolina’s speed advantage and rock-solid defense, the goalie change is going to be nothing more than putting new tires on a car that has no engine.

The best chance for Boston to make this is a series might actually be Carolina’s goaltending situation. If Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta are not ready for Game 3 the Hurricanes could be relying on third string goalie Pyotr Kochetkov who has just four games of NHL experience. He stopped 30 of 32 shots against the Bruins after replacing the injured Raanta in the Hurricanes’ Game 2 win.

NHL PLAYOFF GAMES TODAY

Carolina Hurricanes at Boston Bruins, 7 p.m. ET — TNT (CAR leads 2-0): It is not technically a must-win game for the Bruins, but they can not afford a 3-0 deficit in this series and a sixth consecutive loss to the Hurricanes. Carolina has a 26-4 goal advantage in the five games this season and looks to be in complete control of this series. The biggest question for them is which goalie will start. Yes, that is a big question, but with the way this series is going it might not matter much. The Bruins need to do a better job keeping their composure and staying out of the penalty box. Scoring on the power play might be beneficial as well.

Toronto Maple Leafs at Tampa Bay Lightning, 7:30 p.m. ET — TBS (Series tied 1-1): These next two games will go a long way toward telling us if this Toronto Maple Leafs team is different than the past five Toronto Maple Leafs teams that could not get out of the First Round. They had one dominant win to open the series, did not seize momentum in the second game, and have now lost home-ice advantage as the series shifts back to Tampa Bay. If they can get a split in these next two games against the defending back-to-back Stanley Cup champions, then they will be in a good position going back to Toronto for a pivotal Game 5 in the series. But if they lose these next two games? It is going to be a real problem for them. They look faster and more skilled than Tampa Bay through two games, but that has been the case in a lot of their recent playoff series’. They also have to be more disciplined and now allow Tampa Bay’s special teams to take over.

St. Louis Blues at Minnesota Wild , 9:30 p.m. ET — TNT (Series tied 1-1): There have been two games in this series and two lopsided results in each direction. After losing 4-0 in Game 1, the Wild offense erupted early in Game 2 to power them to a 6-2 win thanks in large part to a Kirill Kaprizov hat trick. In other words, it is tough to get a feel for how this series is going to go right now as the teams have exchanged equal punches in the first two games. You still have to like Minnesota’s goalie edge in this series, but the Blues offense is capable of erupting at any moment.

Los Angeles Kings at Edmonton Oilers, 10 p.m. ET — TBS (Series tied 1-1): On paper the Oilers are the more talented team, and that was on display in their 6-0 Game 2 win on Wednesday night. The Oilers badly needed that game because if they had lost the first two games of the series, at home, to a heavy underdog the walls would have been falling in around them. They have the most pressure here not only because they are the better team on paper, but with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl on the roster there is an expectation that they should be Stanley Cup contenders right now. The Kings are ahead of schedule in their rebuild and playing with house money at this point. Having said that, the Kings are no pushover and no joke defensively, while their center depth of Anze Kopitar, Phillip Danault, and Quinton Byfield is going to give them a chance. Edmonton is going to need more of the Mike Smith they saw in Game 2 and less of the Mike Smith they saw in Game 1 of the series.

SATURDAY’S NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

Game 3: Florida Panthers vs. Washington Capitals, 1 p.m. ET — ESPN (Series tied 1-1 )
Game 3: Colorado Avalanche vs. Nashville Predators, 4:30 p.m. ET — TNT (COL leads 2-0)
Game 3: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New York Rangers, 7 p.m. ET — TNT (Series tied 1-1)
Game 3: Dallas Stars vs. Calgary Flames, 9:30 p.m. ET — TNT (Series tied 1-1)

PHT’s 2022 Stanley Cup previews
Maple Leafs vs. Lightning

Hurricanes vs. Bruins
• Penguins vs. Rangers
• Panthers vs. Capitals
Blues vs. Wild
• Avalanche vs. Predators
Oilers vs. Kings
Flames vs. Stars

NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 schedule, TV info
First Round, Stanley Cup predictions
• NHL Draft Lottery set: Canadiens have best odds for top pick
Why your team will (and will not) win the Stanley Cup

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    Ovechkin, and Ovi Jr., take the ice at All-Star skills night

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    SUNRISE, Fla. — When you’ve got the second-most goals in NHL history, you’re evidently permitted to bring a guest onto the ice for the All-Star Skills competition.

    That’s why there were two No. 8 Washington jerseys out there.

    Capitals star Alex Ovechkin took the ice with his Metropolitan Division teammates – and his oldest child, 4-year-old Sergei.

    Sergei, named for Ovechkin’s late brother, was wearing an Ovi Jr. jersey. The kid has built a bit of a following in recent weeks, after scoring a goal at a Caps practice in December and playing a role in helping the Washington crowd celebrate his dad’s 800th goal.

    It was Ovi Jr.’s first chance at being part of an All-Star weekend. His father hasn’t participated at All-Star since 2018, either because of COVID-19 or injuries. The last time his dad played in an All-Star event, Sergei hadn’t been born.

    Alex Ovechkin has 812 goals. He only trails Wayne Gretzky’s 894 in NHL history.

    And later in the night, Ovi Jr. got to center a line alongside his dad and Pittsburgh great Sidney Crosby. They each got an assist on a goal that Sergei scored – beating Roberto Luongo, the Florida great who came out of retirement for All-Star weekend.

    Said Ovechkin after his son scored: “I think he’s really enjoying it.”

    WELCOME HOME, LU

    Luongo got to be part of one more All-Star competition.

    In a building where a banner bearing his No. 1 jersey hangs – he’s the only former Panthers player to have that distinction – Luongo was a celebrity goaltender during the Breakaway Challenge during the Skills Competition on Friday night.

    He stopped his lone shot in the breakaway, off the stick of Toronto’s Mitch Marner. On one hand, Marner is the Maple Leafs’ leading scorer this season. On the other hand, he was also wearing a white suit, sunglasses and a light blue T-shirt to keep with a “Miami Vice” theme.

    Luongo, who was regaled by “Luuuuu” chants from the Florida fans all night, was up to the challenge. Marner tried to beat him to the glove side, but Luongo got enough of it to make the save – then flopped forward to cover up the rebound, the smile clearly seen through his mask.

    “You got too close,” Luongo told Marner.

    Later, Luongo told ESPN during the telecast of the event that “this is my house. This is my home right here. The crease is my home.”

    Luongo’s pads paid tribute to his career – the design depicted his time both as a member of the Panthers and the Vancouver Canucks. They were a gift from CCM for his making the Hockey Hall of Fame.

    “I’d never put the pads on since I retired,” Luongo said. “First time I put them on was this week. Felt pretty good.”

    He also took part, and scored a goal, in a Florida alumni game on Wednesday night. But if there’s more alumni games, Luongo suggested he might jump back into the net.

    “It back some good memories tonight to be in the blue paint, hearing the chants,” Luongo said. “Maybe one day we’ll hear them again.”

    REMEMBERING JIMMY

    Sergei Ovechkin – who knocked a shot into an open net during a stoppage of the skills events – wasn’t the only child who got a great view of the night.

    Philadelphia forward Kevin Hayes has his 3-year-old nephew Beau with him for All-Star weekend. Beau’s father was Jimmy Hayes, Kevin Hayes’ brother.

    Jimmy Hayes was 31 when he died in 2021 with fentanyl and cocaine in his system. He played for four NHL teams, including Florida.

    Kevin Hayes is part of an All-Star weekend for the first time.

    ANTHEM POISE

    “The Star-Spangled Banner” was performed by the South Florida Gay Men’s Chorus, and group crushed it – never minding that the crowd, representing several different fan bases, was going to shout some term specific to their team at various points in the lyrics.

    Florida fans shout along with “red” and “Knight,” one a nod to one of the team’s primary colors, the other for goaltender Spencer Knight. There also were some shouts from other fan bases; some St. Louis fans, for example, could be heard singing “home of the Blues” instead of “home of the brave” to close the song.

    And “O Canada” performer Hannah Walpole had some shouting as she sang as well, particularly when she reached the “true North” portion of those lyrics – something typically heard at Winnipeg games.

    SLAP SHOTS

    Cale Makar, the reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner from the Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche, was the first participant in the Fastest Skater event – the opening competition of the night. He fell coming around the second turn. … Tampa Bay’s Pat Maroon, one of the broadcasters on the event, reported that he was “freezing” by working at ice level. “I’m used to the gear,” said Maroon, who was in a blazer and open shirt Friday night. … A big hit for those used to the regular colors of FLA Live Arena – and basically all other hockey arenas – was the ocean-water-shade of blue used for the blue lines and the creases. The faceoff dots at the circles on either end of the ice aren’t the standard solid red this weekend, but depict an image of the sun instead.

    Capitals sign Dylan Strome to five-year, $25 million extension

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    FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The Washington Capitals signed forward Dylan Strome to a five-year extension worth $25 million.

    The team announced the contract during NHL All-Star Weekend, which is taking place in South Florida – the place Strome was drafted third in 2015.

    Strome will count $5 million against the salary cap through the 2027-28 season. He was set to be a restricted free agent this summer.

    “Dylan is an intelligent and skilled center and has been a great addition to our organization,” general manager Brian MacLellan said. “We are pleased to sign him to a long-term contract. We feel his skill set is a great fit for our team as he enters the prime years of his career at an important position.”

    Strome is getting a raise from the $3.5 million deal he signed with the Capitals after the Chicago Blackhawks opted not to tender him a qualifying offer and made him a free agent. Strome has 11 goals and 25 assists in 36 games this season and ranks third on Washington’s roster with 14 power-play points.

    The Mississauga, Ontario, native who played his junior hockey alongside Connor McDavid with the Erie Otters has 206 points in 325 regular-season NHL games with the Arizona Coyotes, Blackhawks and Capitals.

    Golden Knights captain Mark Stone undergoes back surgery

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    LAS VEGAS — Vegas Golden Knights captain Mark Stone is out indefinitely after undergoing back surgery in Denver, the club announced.

    The Knights termed the procedure as successful and that Stone “is expected to make a full recovery.”

    This is the second time in less than a year that Stone has had back surgery. He also had a procedure May 19, 2022, and Stone said in December this was the best he had felt in some time.

    But he was injured Jan. 12 against the Florida Panthers, and his absence has had a noticeable effect on the Knights. They have gone 1-5-2 without Stone, dropping out of first place in the Pacific Division into third.

    Stone is second on the team in goals with 17 and in points with 38.

    Devils associate coach Andrew Brunette charged with DUI

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    DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. — New Jersey Devils associate coach and former Florida Panthers head coach Andrew Brunette was arrested in South Florida while driving home from a bar in his golf cart, authorities said.

    Brunette, 49, was pulled over just blocks from the ocean in the Deerfield Beach area, north of Fort Lauderdale, according to a Broward Sheriff’s Office arrest report. He was charged with one count of driving under the influence and two counts of disobeying a stop or yield sign. Brunette was released on $500 bond.

    The Devils said in a statement that the team was aware of Brunette’s arrest and gathering additional information.

    According to the arrest report, a deputy was in the process of giving Brunette’s illegally parked golf cart a ticket around midnight when Brunette walked out of a nearby bar and told the deputy he was about to leave. The deputy said Brunette seemed unsteady on his feet and slurred his speech, and when he was joined by his wife, the deputy said he overheard the wife tell Brunette not to drive while the deputy was there.

    The deputy remained in the area and reported watching the couple drive away about 17 minutes later, according to the report. The deputy said he watched the golf cart run two stop signs before pulling Brunette over on a residential street about a mile away from his home. According to the report, Brunette had difficulty following instructions during a field sobriety test before eventually quitting and asking for an attorney. He also declined to take a breathe test to measure his blood-alcohol level, officials said.

    Online jail and court records didn’t list an attorney for Brunette.

    Brunette is in his first season as associate coach of the Devils. He was interim coach of the Florida Panthers last season after taking over when Joel Quenneville resigned for his connection to a 2010 Chicago Blackhawks sexual abuse scandal.

    The Panthers fired Brunette after they lost in the second round of the playoffs last spring despite him leading them to the Presidents’ Trophy as the league’s top team during the regular season.

    The Sudbury, Ontario, native played 1,159 NHL games for Washington, Nashville, Atlanta, Minnesota, Colorado and Chicago from 1995-2012. He was a Wild assistant in 2015-16 and worked on Florida’s staff from 2019-2022.