Second Look: Sabres complete third-period comeback against San Jose

The misfortunes in Buffalo continued on Tuesday night for the San Jose Sharks, blowing a 4-1 third period to lose in overtime.

The loss marked 17 losses in 19 games for San Jose in Buffalo. The Sabres scored three times in a 2:28 span, beginning with Ryan O’Reilly’s powerplay goal with 10:57 to play. Evander Kane and Kyle Okposo followed the next two scores to tie the game before Kane scored again in overtime on a feed from Jack Eichel.

The third period has been a weakness for the Sharks this season. San Jose is a minus-six in the third this season, compared with a plus-one in the second and a plus-24 in the first. The Sharks 55 goals allowed in the third period is tied for seventh-most in the NHL with Calgary.

The Sabres, meanwhile, are plus-two in the final 20 minutes of regulation in addition to being 6-5 in overtime. Buffalo has seized the extra point in four of its last five overtimes.

Thoughts Are My Own: Trouba Has No Leverage

Thoughts as you realize it’s the first day of November. Woah, it’s the first day of November.

*Jacob Trouba is being Jonathan Drouin-ed. And will continue to be. The Jets want what no team will give for his services. He’s a solid, top four defenseman at 21 years old. He has the size, he has the projection of being a top defenseman. Winnipeg will let the situation ride itself out until the December 1 deadline, where which Trouba will forgo a full season should he not be signed then, which only hurts his value. Ball is in the court of Kevin Cheveldayoff and company.

*Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid facing off for the first time ever is the headliner of Tuesday’s games, and rightfully so; they’re special talents, the two most recent first overall picks, and two of the best in recent memory. But here’s some other matchups that might catch your eye: Tampa Bay at Islanders, Steven Stamkos vs. John Tavares in another showdown of first overall picks; Washington at Winnipeg, Alex Ovechkin vs. Patrik Laine, the greatest goal scorer of the post-lockout years against what looks like the next great goal scorer the game bears witness to; and Anaheim at Los Angeles needs no explanation.

*The matchup (not Tuesday, obviously, but down the road) I find most compelling is Toronto vs. Buffalo. Matthews vs. Jack Eichel in a showdown of the two top American youngsters, two guys who are among the faces in U.S. hockey as teenagers. This is only made better by the natural geographic rivalry that exists with the two franchises fighting for the love of southern Ontario.

*Elliotte Friedman reported on Saturday that there will be no changes to the All-Star Game voting format, which if true is the right decision. Last year’s game was as successful as it had been in quite some time, no need to overthink it. The league has bigger fish to fry.

*Nothing wrong with Mikhail Sergachev, the ninth overall pick in this past June’s draft, being sent back to Windsor. He’d played just three games in Montreal, might as well get another year of OHL experience under his belt. He’ll be on a Spitfires team that features fellow first rounder Logan Stanley on the back line and 11th overall pick Logan Brown up front. Sean Day was a third round pick.

*Ohio State hockey is out to a 5-0-2 start to the season, moving up to No. 11 in the poll. The Buckeyes should only expound on the strong record, with doubleheaders against Robert Morris, UConn, and RPI awaiting in the next three weekends. The big challenge doesn’t come until after Thanksgiving, when Ohio State travels to Minnesota to open its Big 10 schedule.


Dave Tippett has a motorcycle shop in his house.

Bruce Boudreau was ‘grumpy’ at the Wild practice on Monday as Minnesota rode a short bench for multitude of reasons.

The latest in the class-action lawsuit that faces the CHL and threatens to change the landscape of major junior hockey in Canada.

Teams led by Peter Chiarelli and Marc Bergevin benefitting from questionable offseason transactions the two general managers made for the respective organizations, the Edmonton Oilers (Chiarelli) and the Montreal Canadiens (Bergevin).

Jay Bouwmeester reflects upon his career to date as he approaches his 1,000th career NHL game.

Coyotes rookie forward Christian Dvorak gets sent down to the AHL. The 20-year-old had three assists in seven games while averaging 13:45 of ice time per night.

A question nobody has asked, or even thought of – could Matthews/McDavid be the next great NHL rivalry?

In case you missed it: Episode two of the Bobcast with Bob McKenzie. He does a really good job with these, really offers a bit of everything; from inside information to the sharing of knowledge of the game to even veering outside the game. Worth the listen.

Canadiens Celebrate Home Opener No. 99

It’s the first big Tuesday night in the NHL, and one of the headliners will be the Montreal Canadiens opening up the Bell Centre against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the 99th opener for the Habs. It will also be the home debut for big ticket defenseman Shea Weber, acquired from Nashville over the summer.

Here’s the slate of games for Tuesday; Colorado at Washington, 7; Anaheim at New Jersey, 7; San Jose at N.Y. Islanders, 7; Pittsburgh at Montreal, 7:30; Florida at Tampa Bay, 7:30; Arizona at Ottawa, 7:30; Dallas at Nashville, 8; Los Angeles at Minnesota, 8; Philadelphia at Chicago, 8:30; Buffalo at Calgary, 9; Carolina at Edmonton, 9; St. Louis at Vancouver, 10.

Players to Watch

Colorado: Gabriel Landeskog; The Avs captain has nine points in seven games against the Captials, the second-highest output against a team that has been in the Eastern Conference the entirety of his career. He has 10 points in seven games against Ottawa.

Washington: Evgeny Kuznetsov; The Capitals pivot has yet to record a point through two games. Tuesday’s matchup against Colorado would seem like a setup for a breakout for Washington’s leading scorer last season. In two games against the Avalanche last year, he had a 1-3–4 line. Against 28 games against Western Conference opponents last season, he had 36 points.

Anaheim: Ryan Getzlaf; Has landed 17 shots but has just one goal, coming off a season in which he buried just 7.3 percent of his chances. They have to go in at some point, don’t they?

New Jersey: Kyle Palmieri; Had a 30-goal season in 2015-16, his first year in New Jersey following five seasons in Anaheim. The Ducks would gladly take him back.

San Jose: Brent Burns; He’s got six points in three games. Looks like a man on a mission.

N.Y. Islanders: Cal Clutterbuck; Three points through three games to begin the season.

Pittsburgh: Chris Kunitz; Passed Mike Bullard for 15th place on the Penguins all-time points list with his 361st career point on Monday night. Next up is Greg Malone, at 364. Within striking distance: Mark Recchi (385) and Ron Schock (404). Needs a few seasons for Mario Lemieux’s 1,723.

Montreal: Al Montoya; Carey Price still isn’t ready to return to the ice. Thankfully, Montoya has been pretty good, with 65 saves on 69 shots through two games.

Florida: Jon Marchessault; The 26-year-old is filling in nicely for the injured Jonathan Huberdeau, with two goals and four points through two games.

Tampa Bay: Alex Killorn; He has 11 points in 16 games against the Panthers, the most points against any opponent for the 27-year-old forward.

Arizona: Oliver Ekman-Larsson; Played a yeoman-like 31:46 in the Coyotes opener.

Ottawa: Erik Karlsson; Facing Ekman-Larsson, he makes up half of the showdown between go-to Swedish defensemen.

Dallas: Kari Lehtonen; Will get his first start of the season after making 12 saves on 13 shots in relief of Antti Niemi on Saturday.

Nashville: Mike Fisher; The newly-elected captain has played 19:23 while scoring two points, taking a team-high 44 faceoffs, winning 26.

Los Angeles: Tyler Toffoli; Has put eight shots on net, but just one goal to show for it.

Minnesota: Zach Parise; His next goal will be No. 300 for his career. He ranks 18th among active players.

Philadelphia: Claude Giroux; The only player left over from the Flyers 2010 Stanley Cup run who remains on the Philly varsity.

Chicago: Richard Panik; His four goals in three games are two off the pace he totaled in 30 games for the Hawks.

Buffalo: Ryan O’Reilly; Has 40 points in 55 games against the two Alberta franchises, coming off a monstrous four-point performance against Edmonton on Sunday.

Calgary: Johnny Gaudreau; No goals on nine shots, he’s snakebit.

Carolina: Sebastian Aho; The Finnish phenom has points in each of his first two NHL games.

Edmonton: Cam Talbot; The Oilers netminder has stopped just 86 of the 99 shots he’s faced.

St. Louis: Jake Allen; Needs a shutout to tie Brent Johnson for fifth on the Blues all-time shutout list. A shutout after that matches the 13-shutout output by Roman Turek, who played 121 games from 1999-2001. Lurking in the distance was Glenn Hall, whose 16 shutouts stood as a club record for 42 years until Jaroslav Halak recorded his 17th of 20 shutouts he had in a Blues uniform in October 2013. Brian Elliot, who is the franchise leader at 25, became the standard bearer in March 2015.

Vancouver: Alex Edler; The defenseman is averaging 25:20 through two games. His 24:27 ice-time per game last season was a career-high.


Kyle Okposo: The big winger had a great debut on a Sunday, with a goal and assist in the Sabres 6-2 win over Edmonton. He puts up three against a Flames defense corps that looks suspect yet again.

Game of the Night

Pittsburgh at Montreal: It’s the defending Stanley Cup champions visiting the franchise with the most. You can count on the bleu, blanc et rogue reminding them of that at some point during the night. Opening night at the Bell Centre is always a spectacle.

Lock to Win

St. Louis: The Blues jump out to a 4-0 start against a Vancouver team who is out to a 2-0 start, but hasn’t faced a team as good as St. Louis and will be playing its backup goaltender.


Craig Custance looks into Doug Armstrong’s penchant for scooping up first-round picks that didn’t work out for other franchises.

Shea Weber set to introduce himself to the Montreal faithful.

Zach Parise, closing in on his 300th career goal, touches upon his unique relationship with Wild assistant Scott Stevens. Parise’s early days in New Jersey (he was drafted by the Devils with the 17th pick of the 2003 draft, played there until 2012) intersected with the final days of Stevens’ years with the Devils, where he played 13 of his 22 seasons in his Hall of Fame career.

Blues forward Jaden Schwartz, originally expected to miss a month, could return earlier than initially expected. Matt Murray could be close to returning for the Penguins.

With Ryan Miller unavailable, the Canucks have called upon University of British Columbia netminder Matt Hewitt as an emergency backup for Tuesday’s game against St. Louis.

The Avalanche feed off the energy from new coach Jared Bednar and captain Gabriel Landeskog.


Preseason Power Rankings: Lightning the Class of the NHL

Here’s how the last two seasons have ended for the Tampa Bay Lightning; 2014-15, two wins shy of winning its first Stanley Cup since 2004; 2015-16, one win shy of becoming the first team in seven years to win back-to-back Prince of Wale Trophies.

And here’s the thing – the Bolts are only getting better.

The talk in the East has been about Washington, whether or not its the year the Capitals finally break through and put Alex Ovechkin’s name on the Stanley Cup. Of course, that’s been the dialogue for quite some time now. Then there’s also those who bring up the yearly ‘is this the year a Stanley Cup winner defends its title?’ That’s the conversation around Pittsburgh.

Meanwhile, down in the central Florida resides the best team the NHL has to offer.

The Lightning are a team built for the modern NHL. A team the plays at a pace that emulates its name, Tampa goes four lines deep of skill players who use their legs as their greatest weapons in creating pressure and forcing teams to make mistakes. The defense corps is among the elite fluent-skating blue lines, led by behemoth Victor Hedman.

Steven Stamkos leads the charge as he kicks off an eight-year pact to remain in Tampa Bay. He’s complimented by rising superstar Nikita Kucherov up front, along with Tyler Johnson, who comes in poised for a breakout campaign.

Goaltender Ben Bishop is one of the world’s premier puck stoppers, while Andrei Vasilevskiy is as good a second option you’ll find.

Health is the big x-factor going into the season, which kind of goes without saying. But when you consider injuries that have befallen key players on the club over the past couple seasons, including Stamkos, Johnson, Bishop, and Anton Stralman, it becomes a little more magnified.

Regardless, this looks like the team to beat at the early goings.

2- Washington: Some might say 1-A. The Capitals have never been built so well for the playoffs during the Ovechkin era.

3- Anaheim: The window is closing. Expect Bob Murray to deal Cam Fowler or one of his blue-chip defensive prospects to provide help up front.

4- Pittsburgh: No team has repeated since the 1997-98 Red Wings. Reports out of Pittsburgh is that the Penguins really want to be that team to do it.

5- Chicago: 30 goals and 77 points as a rookie, yet Artemi Panarin remains grossly underrated.

6- Montreal: Shea Weber and Andrew Shaw add a lot of what was missing in the Canadiens room last season.

7- Dallas: Jim Nill needs to find a goaltender. But you knew that.

8- San Jose: The young guys on the Sharks were flying under the radar this time last year.

9- Nashville: The most exciting team in the NHL. Mike Fisher caps first year as captain by posing for a picture alongside Gary Bettman.

10- St. Louis: If Jake Allen performs to expectations, this team won’t miss a beat.

11- Florida: The Cats have a rebuilt blue line that emulates its in-state rival.

12- Calgary: The Flames won’t finish 30th in defense this season.

13- N.Y. Rangers: Sleeper Stanley Cup pick.

14- Detroit: A defensively suspect team, but the Red Wings should score at a pretty reasonable clip.

15- Minnesota: Bruce Boudreau wins. I could make a cheesy Donald Trump pun, but I’m not going to.

16- N.Y. Islanders: John Tavares wins the Hart Trophy.

17- Philadelphia: Steve Mason is solid, but the goaltending is still feast-or-famine. Everybody is falling in the Michael Leighton trap with Michal Neuvirth.

18- Boston: They’ll be in the thick of the wildcard race again, but the Bruins remain a good year or two away.

19- Los Angeles: The Kings are an Anze Kopitar away from being Team USA-bad.

20- Winnipeg: Newly-christened as the Jets captain, Blake Wheeler finally gets his due among the NHL’s best.

21- Buffalo: Don’t be surprised if this team makes the playoffs.

22- Edmonton: Connor McDavid leads the league in points.

23- Arizona: Oliver Ekman-Larsson makes a push for the Norris.

24- Carolina: Justin Faulk is a finalist for the Norris.

25- Ottawa: Erik Karlsson wins the Norris (again).

26- New Jersey: Cory Schneider can only do so much.

27- Toronto: Still 2-3 years away.

28- Columbus: Potential surprise team. Blue Jackets dispel the ‘John Tortorella only plays guys who trap and block shots’ theory. Zach Werenski wins Calder Trophy.

29- Colorado: MacKinnon and Duchene the bright spots in Denver.

30- Vancouver: It was clear Alain Vigneault was the problem.

Facts, Figures, Predictions on the Atlantic

*If the Boston Bruins miss the postseason, it will be the first time the B’s have missed the postseason since missing it eight straight years from 1960-67.

*Erik Karlsson’s 82 points was the most for a defenseman since Brian Leetch (85) and Ray Bourque (82) hit that total in 1995-96.

*Jaromir Jagr needs 19 points to tie Mark Messier for second place on the all-time points list, with 1,887. Currently sitting in third at 1,868, he needs 132 to become the second player ever to notch 2,000 NHL points. Last season he closed within 1,000 of Wayne Gretzky, who stands atop the leaderboard at 2,857.

*Max Pacioretty is one of just four players to record 30 goals and 60 points in each of the last four 82-game NHL seasons. The other three are Jamie Benn, Alex Ovechkin, and Joe Pavelski.

*Steven Stamkos is one of four players with three such seasons; joining Corey Perry, John Tavares, and Tyler Seguin. The one season in which Seguin failed to hit 30-60 was 2011-12, when he managed the 60 (67, to be exact) but scored just 29 goals for Boston.

*Morgan Reilly, who averaged 23:14 of ice time last season at the age of 21, is the youngest Toronto defenseman to log 23 minutes per game since the stat began being recorded in 1998.

*Average production by Henrik Zetterberg the last two seasons – 15.5 and 59.8 goals and points per 82 games. Nine seasons prior – 32 and 83.9.

*Brad Marchand has scored 0.35 goals per game going back to 2010-11, his first full NHL season, which equates to about 29 goals per season. That ranks fifth among left wingers, trailing only Ovechkin, Benn, Rick Nash, and Patrick Sharp.

*Ryan O’Reilly led all forwards last season with an average ice-time of 21:44. Evander Kane was second with 21:02. *Buffalo hasn’t had a 30-goal, 60-point season since Jason Pominville put up 30 goals and 73 points in 2011-12.

*Patrice Bergeron and Marchand were on the ice for 192 of the 493 shorthanded faceoffs the Bruins took last season, according to One-hundred one of those draws were won by the Bruins.

*No Eastern Conference player has averaged 29 minutes of ice-time since Adrian Aucoin averaged 29-flat for the Islanders in 2002-03. Karlsson averaged 28:58 last season.

*Of the top 12 goaltenders in terms of save percentage over the last three seasons (min. 125 games played), five are expected to be starters for Atlantic Division teams this season; Carey Price (1st, .931), Ben Bishop (t-3rd, .922), Tuukka Rask (t-3rd, .922), Roberto Luongo (t-6th, .921), and Frederik Andersen (12th, .918).

*Price’s 17 shutouts over that span, which ranks second to Marc-Andre Fleury (20), came in just 137 games. Four other netminders posted 15 shutouts over that span (Fleury, Jonathan Quick, Braden Holtby, Bishop), all needing at least 186 games.

*Buffalo allowed just 30.6 shots per game last season, the first time it had allowed less than 31 shots per game since 2010-11 (30.7), the last time the Sabres qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs.


1- Tampa Bay: The most complete team from top to bottom. Expect a breakout season for Tyler Johnson.

2- Montreal: The Canadiens go as far as Price takes them.

3- Detroit: The Red Wings acquisition of Frans Nielsen the best offseason signing nobody talked about.

4- Florida: The Panthers have made the postseason in back-to-back years just one time; 1995-96 and 1996-97.

5- Buffalo: If they don’t make the playoffs this year, you can pencil them in for next season.

6- Boston: Three straight playoff DNQs could be too much for Claude Julien to overcome.

7- Ottawa: Guy Boucher came within a win of the Prince of Wales Trophy in Tampa Bay. He won’t be pushover in Ottawa.

8- Toronto: The pieces are moving into place, but more holes must be filled.



2020 Vision: Why the Atlantic Division Will Be the NHL’s Best in Four Years

It’s 2020.

The Montreal Canadiens have never looked more poised to win Stanley Cup No. 25 since winning Stanley Cup No. 24 back in 1993. The Toronto Maple Leafs are knocking on the door of its first title of the NHL’s Expansion Era while the Buffalo Sabres are in pursuit of its first title in, well, ever. On the verge of he 10th anniversary of its only Cup in the last half-century, the Boston Bruins aren’t to be counted out. Nor are the Ottawa Senators. Meanwhile, the Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Detroit Red Wings are still there, like they’ve been for quite some time.

The Atlantic Division has no let up. The best division in the NHL. It’s not even up for debate.

It’s amazing to think the Montreal Canadiens have gone nearly three decades without a Stanley Cup. Prior to this latest drought, the longest the Habs had gone without winning a title was eight between 1916-24, when the bleu, blanc et rouge took a backseat to the original rendition of the Ottawa Senators – who won three Cups in that span – while having the 1919 final wiped out due the great flu pandemic ripping through the world at the time.

But that was 100 years ago, and the Canadiens are looking to erase a drought nearly four times longer. A 2021 Stanley Cup will be its first in 28 years. They’ve been close the last two years. In 2019, they fell to Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference finals before getting to the Cup final in 2020, losing to Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers.

Max Pacioretty hoisting the revered 35-pound trophy isn’t hoped for — it’s expected.

Montreal hasn’t had a goaltender like Carey Price since Patrick Roy, who appropriately enough manned the crease of the most recent championship. At 33, Price is on the back end of his prime. He’s going for his fifth straight Vezina Trophy, looking to become just the fourth player to win six Vezinas, joining Montreal legends Jacques Plante and Bill Durnan, along with Dominik Hasek.

Nobody in the Montreal lineup makes anyone forget about Jean Beliveau, Guy Lafleur, Maurice Richard, or Larry Robinson, but there’s plenty to be desired. Shea Weber might not be the player he was when general manager Marc Bergevin famously swapped P.K. Subban for in 2016, but he doesn’t have to be. Mikhail Sergechev is quickly blossoming as one of the world’s best blueliners. Up front, mainstays Pacioretty and Alex Galchenyuk lead the Habs charge.

The Canadien faithful has its swagger back, and the time to win is now.

But it won’t be that easy.

For one, there’s a border battle brewing between Western New York and Southern Ontario.

Jack Eichel and Auston Matthews, currently pegged to bring Team USA back from the shadows of its 2016 embarrassment at the upcoming World Cup of Hockey, lead the way for two of the most rabid yet tortured fan bases; the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Buffalo Sabres. The Leafs haven’t won a title since 1967. The Sabres have never won one ever.

Eichel and Matthews were second and third in last season’s Art Ross Trophy race behind McDavid, whose 131 points were the most since 1995-96, when Mario Lemieux and current Florida Panthers player-coach Jaromir Jagr eclipsed that mark.

Defending Norris Trophy winner Morgan Reilly anchors the Toronto blue line, which is backed up by Frederik Andersen. Buffalo counters with Norris favorite Rasmus Ristolainen and ace netminder Cal Petersen. Buffalo’s one-two center combination of Eichel and Ryan O’Reilly is the envy of the division.

Meanwhile, for Boston Bruins fans, it’s been years that end in ‘1’ that have been kind to the B’s; at least of late (we can forget about Ken Dryden in 1971, or Ulf Samuelsson’s cheap shot on Cam Neely in 1991). In 2001, Bruins fans watched black-and-gold icon Ray Bourque retire with his first Stanley Cup (albeit with Colorado). In 2011, it was the B’s capturing a Stanley Cup of their own, the first since 1972.

It’s been a rough past few years for Bruins fans. Amidst a rebuild, the B’s have missed the playoffs four of the last six seasons. Goaltender Tuukka Rask, who turns 34 in March, is playing for what would be the last big contract of his career. With dynamic duo Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand well into their 30s, the top line of Jake DeBrusk, Ryan Spooner, and Zach Senyshyn have picked up the load offensively for the B’s. The backline continues to come of age, with many expecting 23-year-old Jeremy Lauzon to hop into the Norris discussion as seamless as the way he can jump into the rush. The pairing of Lauzon and Brandon Carlo are among the top young defensive pairings in the game.

The Ottawa Senators continue to pride themselves on being the Minnesota Twins of the NHL, finding ways to sneak into the playoffs despite being glossed over year after year in the preseason talk. The player who is no longer being glossed over? That would be Erik Karlsson, who last season became just the third defenseman ever to record multiple 100-point seasons, joining Bobby Orr and Paul Coffey. Yeah, can’t say it’s bad company.

Let’s not forget about the three teams that represent the old guard of the division, the veteran teams giving chase to the young blood atop the division.

Captain Dylan Larkin leads the charge for the Detroit Red Wings, which has rebuilt itself on the fly once again while continuing the make the playoffs. The Wings finally won a playoff round after losing in the first round six years in a row. It’s been 30 years since Detroit last missed the playoffs. The Panthers are led by player-coach Jaromir Jagr, who last season became the second player to record 2,000 points in the NHL. Approaching his 49th birthday, Jagr is giving no indications he’ll step away anytime soon. He even says he plans on catching Wayne Gretzky’s record of 2,857 points. Based off his average of 35 points over the last four years, it will only take about 25 seasons for him to reach that mark. The Lightning continue to dazzle offensively, with Tyler Johnson coming off his first 40-goal season. And we all know about that Stamkos guy.

None of the eight teams in this division have won a Stanley Cup since the Bruins most recent banner, in 2011. If it doesn’t change in 2021, the wait won’t last much longer.

How much longer? Who knows.

But what we do know? No division stacks up with this one.

Bruins Have Lost Four Games When Ahead After Two Periods in 2015-16

It’s hard to string together wins when you can’t close teams out. And the Bruins have been among the NHL’s worst in 2015-16 when it comes to finishing the job.

Of the 42 games the Bruins have played this season, they’ve entered the final 20 minutes of regulation with a lead in 19 of them. The B’s have failed to emerge with multiple points in four of those games, an NHL-high.

The issue has come to light in the B’s last two games, losses to the Rangers and Flyers, costly setbacks that have dropped Boston to 1-2-1 going into the final game of what could be a pivotal five-game road trip, on Friday night in Buffalo.

The Bruins lost, 2-1, on Monday night to the Rangers after taking a 1-0 lead to the room after two periods. The Blueshirts got goals from Derick Brassard and Jesper Fast in the third to lift the Rangers, who are no comeback kids by any stretch. New York entered the game 0-11-2 when trailing after two.

On Wednesday, the B’s took a 2-1 lead into the final 20 minutes, hoping to avenge the result by closing out the Flyers, who despite allowing more goals than they’ve scored in the final 20 minutes this season, had three wins when trailing after two. Boston, of course, had no such luck, allowing a pair of goals in a span of 1:22. Mark Streit scored what would be the winning goal with 8:28 remaining in the game, which Philadelphia won, 3-2.

The Bruins .737 winning percentage (14-4-1) when leading after two periods is 27th in the NHL, ahead of only St. Louis (.706), Detroit (.667), and Vancouver (.600). However, all three teams beneath the Bruins in the category have emerged pointless just once, as opposed to the Bruins four.

Only one other team (Colorado) joins the Bruins with three losses. Just seven teams in the league have more than one loss when leading after two periods.

The Bruins could get a chance to right things on Friday night against the Sabres, who have gone into the third in 24 of their 45 games this season trailing. That said, Buffalo has rallied to win in the final 20 in four of those games, its .167 winning percentage when trailing after two tied for 10th in the league. Only Washington and Los Angeles (five apiece) have more wins when trailing after two than the Sabres.



Bruins Five-Game Roadtrip a Chance to Get Back on Track

Despite not getting the desired result in Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to Washington at the TD Garden, the Bruins brought forth the effort they didn’t in Friday’s Winter Classic embarrassment at Gillette Stadium, a 5-1 setback to the Montreal Canadiens.

Unfortunately for Boston, effort isn’t accounted for in the standings. The NHL is a league of how many, as opposed to how. Losing five of their last six games and down to the eighth (and final) spot in the Eastern Conference playoff picture, the Bruins need results.

Fortunately for Boston, the results will come if the effort accompanies the team on the five-game road trip that begins Friday in Newark, a date with the New Jersey Devils.

Of the five teams (New Jersey, Ottawa, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Buffalo) the B’s face on the eight-day journey, none are the juggernaut of offense, defense, goaltending, and depth the Capitals bring to the table. If front-liners Patrice Bergeron, Loui Eriksson, and Zdeno Chara shut down the likes of Mike Hoffman, Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, and Mats Zuccarello the way they did Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and T.J. Oshie on Tuesday, the Bruins will finish the trip closer to the maximum of 10 points that can be garnered on the trip than the two they’ve picked up over the last five games.

The Capitals are a dangerous team. Barry Trotz has implemented the defensive system that was among the league’s best over his 15 seasons in Nashville. Only now he has the horses up front to open it up offensively after years of ponies while coaching the Predators. Ovechkin detractors should enjoy their claims of how the big Russian hasn’t won anything. They may only have a few months left to do so.

Fourteen players on the Washington Capitals have 10 points or more. Only the New York Rangers – who the Bruins face on Monday, the third game of the roadtrip – have more such players in the Eastern Conference, with 15. But the Blueshirts are 6-11-2 since jumping out to a 16-3-2 start to the season. They take just 28.3 shots per game, which is tied for fifth-lowest in the NHL. They’re one of 13 teams to allow more than 30 shots per game.

New Jersey, who the B’s face Friday, have received nearly half its 91 goals from three players: Kyle Palmieri (17 goals), Mike Cammalleri (14), and Adam Henrique (13). Boston third-liners won’t have to worry about opponents on the level of Marcus Johansson, Jason Chimera, and Tom Wilson, a trio that has feasted on its lesser counterparts for 23 goals, 59 points, and a combined plus-15 rating. Philadelphia and Buffalo demonstrate similar top-heaviness.

Ottawa, whom the B’s face Saturday, go four lines deep. Jean-Gabriel Pageau is better than most third-line pivots in the game.Ten forwards have played 25 games at an average of 10 minutes of ice-time per night while 36-year-old Chris Neil, who has been among the league’s elite bottom-sixers since entering the league in 2001, has played in all 40 games for the Sens while averaging 8:51 of ice-time. Ottawa’s back end is anchored by two-time Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson, who is making a strong case for a third.

The Senators jumped out to a 12-5-5 start. They’re 7-10-1 since, with a good chance of making it 7-11-1 on Thursday night when they host the Florida Panthers, winners of 10 in a row and look as if they’ll never lose again.

Sense a trend with the Senators and Rangers recent struggles? Don’t overthink this.

New York and Ottawa – a pair of teams who were atop the conference standings prior to their respective falls from grace – aren’t the only slumping clubs hosting the Bruins between now and next Friday.

The Devils, who hold the top wildcard spot in the east as of Thursday, waltzed through the pearly gates of the playoff picture with an eight-game stretch in late November and early December, picking up points in seven (4-1-3). New Jersey went into its Nov. 27 game against Montreal, a 3-2 shootout loss, sitting in 10th in the Eastern Conference. On Dec. 12, the morning after the 3-2 overtime win over Detroit, the Devils were in seventh.

New Jersey has treaded water since, going 5-6-1, a three-game winning streak sandwiched in the middle. Nine of the 20 goals the Devils have scored over the stretch came during the three-game streak, which has been followed by a pair of losses.

Meanwhile, Philadelphia is a model of mediocrity. Shocker. The Flyers jettisoned Brayden Schenn and Vincent Lecavalier to Los Angeles on Wednesday, a sign of the white flag being waved on the season. Out of the playoff picture while led by rookie head coach Dave Hakstol, winning doesn’t appear to be in the plans in Philly this year.

Ditto Buffalo, where the Sabres look like they’ve found their core of forwards Ryan O’Reilly, Jack Eichel, Evander Kane, and defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, but still have a ways to go before they contend. Twelve of Eichel’s 26 points have come in the last eight games, four of those points coming when Buffalo beat the Bruins, 6-3, on Dec. 26.

But the Sabres haven’t won since that game – which the Bruins led, 3-1, before Buffalo scored five unanswered goals when the B’s clocked out 10 minutes early – dropping five in a row while being outscored, 18-7. And it’s where the Bruins wrap up the trip next Friday night, the conclusion of a five-game set where Boston has a legitimate shot at two points at every stop.

The Bruins roadtrip could prove pivotal to the fate of the 2015-16 campaign. And this team has a great opportunity go get back on track.

Winter Classic: The Best, the Worst, the Best Performers, the Quirky Numbers

There’s been seven Winter Classics going back to its 2008 inception. The eighth will be played on Friday afternoon at Gillette Stadium when the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens take the outdoors for the latest installment of the hockey rivalry that is among the top one percent in sports lore.

Here’s a look at the first seven classics.

Ranking ‘em one through seven

  1. 2008, Pittsburgh def. Buffalo, 2-1 (SO) at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The first of anything most times is the best of anything, and the inaugural Winter Classic in Buffalo has been hard to top. The snow falling, the back-and-forth action between the two teams set the scene for great hockey and an even better sightline. Too often a buzzkill, the shootout added to the moment for once, with Sidney Crosby – the game’s biggest star – potting the winner in the skills competition. Nothing could’ve better set the tone for the event than this game.
  2. 2010, Bruins def. Philadelphia, 2-1 (OT). Mark Recchi scored with 2:18 left in regulation, setting up the B’s overtime win when Patrice Bergeron found Marco Sturm on the doorstep to give Boston the win. Though the B’s likely wished they saved that victory for May, as they lost to the Flyers in the Eastern Conference semifinals, blowing a 3-0 series in the best-of-seven set.
  3. 2015, Washington def. Chicago, 3-2. The eventual Stanley Cup champs Chicago Blackhawks lost to the host Capitals, as Troy Brouwer scored with 13 seconds remaining in regulation. Eric Fehr continued his Winter Classic prowess, scoring 7:01 into the game to give the Caps the first lead, his third goal in two Winter Classic games.
  4. 2012, New York def. Philadelphia, 3-2. Drama is what makes the world go around, and there was plenty at Citizens Bank Park. Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh was called for covering the puck in the crease, leading to a Flyers penalty shot, with 19.6 seconds remaining in regulation. Henrik Lundqvist turned aside Danny Briere’s bid to ice the game, but it didn’t end there, as Blueshirts head coach John Tortorella insisted the call was an inside job by the league to force overtime. The coach was fined $30,000 for the comments.
  5. 2014, Toronto def. Detroit, 3-2 (SO). The second of two Winter Classics to be decided by a shootout. Leafs netminder Jonathan Bernier stopped 41 shots in regulation and overtime before turning aside two of three bids in the skills competition.
  6. 2009, Detroit def. Chicago, 6-4. The highest scoring game by far. The defending Stanley Cup champion Red Wings scored five unanswered goals in the second and third period to take control of the game. Jiri Hudler (2-1–3), Henrik Zetterberg (0-3-3), and Marian Hossa (0-3–3) each had three-point games.
  7. 2011, Washington def. Pittsburgh, 3-1. The game was pushed back to 8 p.m. due to weather concerns, delaying the Crosby-Alex Ovechkin showdown. Fehr scored the second and third goals to give the Caps the win.


  1. Washington (2-0)
  2. Detroit (1-0-1)
  3. Boston (1-0)
  4. New York Rangers (1-0)
  5. Toronto (1-0)
  6. Pittsburgh (1-1)
  7. Buffalo (0-0-1)
  8. Philadelphia (0-1-1)
  9. Chicago (0-2)

All-Winter Classic Team

F- Jiri Hudler. Scored two goals and assisted on another in the 2009 Winter Classic, leading the Red Wings to the 6-4 win over Chicago at Wrigley Field.

F- Mark Recchi. Scored the game-tying goal with 2:18 remaining, setting up the Bruins 2-1 overtime win over the Philadelphia Flyers at Fenway Park.

F- Eric Fehr. The Caps forward has three goals in two games (2011, 2015), playing a key role in Washington being the lone NHL team to win multiple Winter Classics.

D- Dion Phaneuf. The Toronto Maple Leafs captain did all the heavy lifting in the 2014 classic, a 3-2 shootout win for the Leafs, logging 28:24 of ice-time and assisting on both Toronto goals in regulation.

D- Dan Girardi. The Rangers blueliner was on the ice for 28:35 of the 60-minute game in 2012, which remains the standard for ice time in the Winter Classic.

G- Henrik Lundqvist. The marquis game of King Hank’s Vezina Trophy-winning campaign of the 2011-12 season, turning aside 34 of 36 shots. He stymied Philadelphia’s Danny Briere on a penalty shot with 19.6 seconds left in regulation to seal the win.

Winter Classic by the Numbers

*Washington Capitals (2-0) the lone team to win multiple Winter Classics.

*The Bruins become the sixth team to play in two Winter Classics, joining Washington (2-0), Pittsburgh (1-1), Detroit (1-0-1), Philadelphia (0-1-1), and Chicago (0-2).

*Five of the seven games have been decided by one goal, and none have been decided by more than two. Three have required more than 60 minutes of play, two have been decided by a shootout.

*No player has ever scored a hat trick, and no goalie has ever recorded a shutout.

*Gillette Stadium is the third NFL venue to host the event, joining Buffalo’s Ralph Wilson Stadium (2008) and Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field (2011). Four games have been held in baseball stadiums, with one being held in a college football venue, when Detroit hosted Toronto at Michigan Stadium in 2014.

*Four teams (Pittsburgh, 2008; Chicago, 2009; Boston, 2010; Chicago, 2015) won the Stanley Cup within two years after playing in the Winter Classic. The Blackhawks became the first team to win the cup in the same season after participating in the Winter Classic, when they won their third Stanley Cup since 2010 this past June.

Winter Classic..Nothing Like It

There’s few things sports fans crave more than being able to relate to the athletes they idolize. In a time where players make more money in a month than most make in a lifetime, the search for such common ground has grown more arduous by the year.

That’s where the Winter Classic comes into play.

Since its inaugural showing on the first day of the year 2008, a Buffalo Sabres home tilt with the Pittsburgh Penguins at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y., the classic has been the NHL’s journey to the outdoors for one day. An escape from the concrete-padded arena into the wilderness of the outdoors. From 40,000-seat baseball stadiums to 100,000-seat college football venues to 70,000-seat NFL facilities, the game has been a journey to where the game began.

OK, so maybe we’re not going into the middle of the woods with negative temperatures, whipping winds, and conditions that make most yearn for the summer months. The 2016 Winter Classic will be played between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens on Friday afternoon amidst Gillette Stadium, the home of the NFL’s New England Patriots. The high temperature is supposed to be 40 degrees. So it’s not necessarily the holy cornfield of pucks that is a frozen pond in frigid weather in the deep, dark cold of winter. But you get the point.

The sight takes you back to the lake behind your house where you’d lace up the skates when you couldn’t feel your toes. You’d meet up with some buddies and play some pick-up. It wasn’t really the Bruins and Canadiens, but you pretended it was. You fought over who was Bobby Orr. Meanwhile, Guy Lafleur was up for the taking.

For Billy from Brockton watching the game from Row 215, he’ll harbor similar memories as Patrice Bergeron, skating in his second Winter Classic as one of the premier hockey players in the world. There’s nothing like it.

We’ve seen it all in just a short time. Games being delayed due to warm temperatures causing the ice to melt. Who hasn’t had that letdown of unseasonable warmth when they just want to skate around for a bit? Snow has fallen as players battle for the puck, fight for the two points at stake.

It’s the biggest stage. NBC. Doc Emrick. Pierre McGuire. The chances of Thursday’s games being the most watched regular season NHL game ever outweigh the chances of it not. Yet here you are, back in the virtual world of being a kid. The beauty of the game. The serenity of the scene. It’s not what you get for admission within the concrete walls of the TD Garden or Bell Centre, or the hockey cathedrals that preceded them, the Boston Garden or Montreal Forum.

The event’s uniqueness is one of a kind. Find such an example of the NBA, NHL, MLB taking a game and making a masterpiece of it. Good luck. And don’t say the MLB All-Star Game because it decides which pennant winner hosts the first game of the World Series. That’s a travesty, not a masterpiece.

The Winter Classic does count. Two points will be a stake. The break-glass-in-case-of-emergency third point will be on site in case a decision isn’t reached after 60 minutes of hockey, as has happened three times in the first seven classics. The winner takes over first place in the NHL’s Atlantic Division.

The game will captivate the imaginations of all within the friendly confines of Gillette Stadium from players to fans to staff, as well the millions watching the game on television in restaurants, bars, and living rooms across North America. The memories of going out on the ponds will be triggered. You’ll lose feeling in your hands a little bit – don’t be alarmed, it’s just nostalgia – as the thoughts flow through your mind.

In a time where NHL players earn an average of $2.6 million with players earning as much as $14 million, such a common ground seems impossible to come by. By going back to where the game originated, where the love of the game for many was found, that common ground is achieved annually upon the commencement of a new year.