Presidents’ Trophy

Bruins end Flyers’ winning streak at 9 games

The Bruins brought the Flyers’ winning streak to an end at nine games on Tuesday, winning 2-0. With this win, the Bruins reached the 100-point mark before any other NHL team. This also represents three 100+ point seasons in as many years for underrated Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy.

Rask looks sharp as Bruins end Flyers’ streak

If you want to chalk the Bruins’ win up to one factor, it would be brilliant goaltending by Tuukka Rask. The Bruins (and Flyers, in another way) leaned especially hard on Rask through the first 40 minutes, as Philly couldn’t score despite a 24-14 shots on goal advantage over the first and second periods.

Rask ultimately ended up making 35 saves for his fifth shutout of 2019-20. That’s quite a way for Rask to celebrate his 33rd birthday.

The Flyers have been one of the hottest teams in the NHL, and not just during this winning streak that just ended. Via Natural Stat Trick, Philly’s 12.35 shooting percentage topped all NHL teams over the past 25 games (coming into Tuesday). Of course, the Flyers haven’t had to shoot against Rask during that run.

Matt Grzelcyk scored the opening goal late in the second period, while Patrice Bergeron beat Carter Hart for the 2-0 insurance marker in the third.

This represents the Flyers’ first loss since Feb. 15. The Flyers had a chance to move ahead of the Capitals for the Metropolitan Division lead, but that will need to wait. (Washington’s at 90 points in 69 games played, while Philly sits at 89 in 69.)

It’s looking increasingly likely that the Bruins will hold off the Lightning for the Atlantic title, and probably the Presidents’ Trophy with that.

Really, the bigger challenge might come down to finding the right balance between keeping Rask and other veterans hot versus keeping key players rested.

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 hold off Rangers, improve lead atop Atlantic, NHL

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The Bruins and Rangers both came into Sunday playing good hockey. It makes sense, then, that Boston needed to work hard to beat the Rangers 3-1. By persevering, the Bruins improved their lead over Tampa Bay for the top spot in the Atlantic Division, and thus the entire NHL.

Charlie McAvoy opened the scoring with a strange goal. Charlie Coyle collected a shorthanded game-winner, while Mika Zibanejad scored New York’s lone goal. Patrice Bergeron iced the win with a remarkably fancy empty-netter.

Jaroslav Halak continues to be a strong backup for the Bruins, stopping 25 out of 26 shots. Alexandar Georgiev took the loss for New York, allowing two goals on 33 SOG. It was likely a frustrating game for Chris Kreider, who didn’t score despite four SOG and suffered a -4 rating.

Bruins – Rangers special teams battle

New York’s power play failures told the early part of the story.

Through the first two periods, the Rangers man advantage went 0-for-4. That number only tells part of the story, really. New York squandered a four-minute power play after Ryan Lindgren was bloodied by a high stick. Coyle dug the knife in deeper with that shorthanded goal later in the middle frame.

This Rangers team boasts some dangerous scorers, though, and Mika Zibanejad made that clear by breaking through. Zibanejad scored a power-play tally to tighten things up, with assists from usual suspects Artemi Panarin and Ryan Strome.

Bruins bolster Atlantic lead, Rangers see streak ended

Again, these two teams had been playing well lately.

Boston clearly hears the footsteps of the hard-charging Lightning. The Bruins extended their winning streak to three games, and have won nine of their last 10 games (9-1-0). This updated look at that battle for the top spot in the Atlantic reminds that this was a valuable, hard-fought win for the B’s:

Bruins: 86 points in 60 games played
Lightning: 83 points in 59 GP

The Bruins fattened their lead in the Atlantic, which also ranks as the current Presidents’ Trophy race. Of course, the Lightning can slim that right back down to one point with by winning their game in hand.

Meanwhile, the Rangers suffered a painful blow to their shaky playoff hopes, falling to 64 points in 58 GP. This loss ended the Rangers’ season-long four-game winning streak; it’s also merely the Rangers’ third loss in 10 games (7-3-0).

NBCSN Hockey Day in America remaining schedule

Blues at Predators – NBCSN –  6 p.m. ET (Watch live) – Chris Cuthbert will call the action from Bridgestone Arena alongside Darren Pang.

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.

Lightning clinch Presidents’ Trophy for first time in franchise history

Associated Press
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No was ever going to catch the Tampa Bay Lightning, it was just the mathematics that needed to be satisfied before they could be handed their first Presidents’ Trophy in franchise history.

And with nine games remaining — a good three weeks — left in the regular season, the Lightning became just the second team since the trophy began being awarded in 1985-86 to do it as quickly as they did in a 4-1 win against the Arizona Coyotes on Monday. The 73 games it took the Lightning has only been bested by the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings, who clinched the trophy in 71.

It should be noted that no team has won the Presidents’ Trophy and gone on to win the Stanley Cup since the 2013 Chicago Blackhawks. Tampa’s biggest task still lays ahead of them as they look to exorcise their playoff demons.

There are still 18 points up for grabs, too, meaning that the Lightning, who are on 116 points after winning their fifth straight on Monday, can theoretically get to 134, which would set a new NHL record for most in a season (the Montreal Canadiens posted 132 in 1976-77). And before we write that off, realize that this Lightning team is something special and winning nine straight isn’t out of the realm of possibility. They could go 8-0-1 and still end with 133 points.

Furthermore, they’re six wins back of those 1995-96 Red Wings for most wins in a season with 62.

Tampa has matched or set all sorts of records this season, and their players have, too.

A week after Vincent Lecavalier’s points record was taken from him by Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos notched goal No. 384 in Monday’s win to pass Lecavalier for most in Lightning history.


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

Canucks win second consecutive Presidents’ Trophy

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It took a bit of luck but, for the second straight year, Vancouver will enter the playoffs as the NHL’s top seed.

The Canucks beat Edmonton 3-0 on Saturday to capture the 2012 Presidents’ Trophy — though they did get some help along the way. A series of fortunate results (St. Louis’ 4-1 loss to Phoenix on Friday night, the Rangers’ 4-1 home defeat to Washington on Saturday) gave Vancouver control of its own fate heading into the Oilers game.

And to their credit, the Canucks took full advantage.

Henrik Sedin scored what would prove to be the game-winner midway through the second, his 14th goal of the year, before Samuel Pahlsson and David Booth added insurance markers in the third. Roberto Luongo stopped all 17 shots he faced for his fifth shutout of the year — his highest shutout total since 2008-09 — and barely broke a sweat in a game Vancouver dominated. The Canucks out-shot the Oilers by 25 on the night, including a 12-shot dispartiy (17 to five) in the opening frame.

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Some notes about the Presidents’ Trophy win:

— Vancouver becomes the first team to win back-to-back Presidents’ Trophies since Dallas did it in 1997-98 and 1998-99. (Note: Detroit won in 2003-04 and 2005-06, missing the year between due of the lockout.)

— Since the NHL began handing out the Presidents’ Trophy in 1985-86, only seven teams have gone on to win the Stanley Cup: Edmonton (1986-87), Calgary (1988-89), New York Rangers (1993-94), Dallas (1998-99), Colorado (2000-01), Detroit (2001-02) and Detroit again (2007-08).

— Last year, the Canucks became the first team to win the Presidents’ Trophy and lose in the Stanley Cup finals since the 1995 Red Wings.

Canucks could complete a rare run of top-level hockey in Vancouver with Stanley Cup win

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On the heels of the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg talk, Damien Cox discussed the idea that Canada might be entering another hockey “golden era.” That is an intriguing point to make, but perhaps the most interesting developing story is the rare two-year run of hockey in the city of Vancouver.

While it’s far too early to assume that the Canucks will win the Stanley Cup in 2011, they’re only six wins away from doing just that for the first time in franchise history. That would put a silver cherry on top of the greatest regular season in the club’s history, with a Presidents Trophy win and players such as Daniel Sedin, Roberto Luongo and Ryan Kesler earning major award nominations.

That run would be impressive enough, but when you combine the first quarter-plus of 2011 with the highest moments of 2010, it’s clear that Vancouver is having a hot run of heady hockey play that may never be duplicated. Let’s not forget what happened in the 2010 Olympics: Team Canada won the gold on its own soil in Vancouver as Sidney Crosby scored that iconic overtime goal. The Canucks’ own Luongo was in net for that gold medal win, capping a dream-like scenario for Vancouver hockey fans.

While their postseason ended in disappointment against the Chicago Blackhawks, the 2009-10 Canucks boasted some high points that this year’s team is building on. Henrik Sedin earned the Hart and Art Ross Trophies and ultimately sealed his fate as the Canucks’ captain. For all the talk about choking during the last two seasons, I’ll never forget the way the Canucks fought through a 14-game road trip caused by the Olympics.

No doubt about it, the San Jose Sharks could make a series out of the Western Conference finals with a win in Game 3 tonight. Even so, this stands as the Canucks’ best chance to win a Stanley Cup since Mark Messier buried their hopes in Game 7 of the 1994 Stanley Cup finals. It would be a memorable span either way.

That being said, if this Canucks team does manage to win the Cup, it might be time to christen Vancouver hockey’s “Gold and Silver City.”