Bruins Beat 12/20

Image result for Bruins beat blue jackets

Well, well, well folks.  It has been quite a few weeks for the Boston Bruins.  After rattling off 8 wins in 10 games to start December, The Bruins lost to both the Washington Capitals, and New York Rangers this past weekend.  They lost to the Caps 5-3, and 3-2 in overtime to the Blueshirts. In both games, the Bruins played well enough to win.  They just can’t seem to beat either team in the regular season.

Image result for Bruins v. Capitals 2017

The B’s just cannot find a way to beat either team.  After winning quite a few in a row, things seemed to be cooling down.  Not with this years Bruins teams.  They did not fold, or enter a rut like many a Claude Julien Coached team.  This past week the Bruins got back-to-back wins at the expense of the Columbus Blue Jackets, and Buffalo Sabres.

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Monday night saw Metropolitan Division foe Blue Jackets enter TD Garden.  From the very second the puck dropped, the Bruins were all over the Jackets.   Red hot right winger Brad Marchand opened up the scoring, shoveling home Patrice Bergeron’s slick feed.  After 1 period it was 1-0 B’s.

The second period saw the Bruins continue to hound the Jackets.  Veteran Center David Backes added his third goal of his young season, and rookie of the year candidate Charlie McAvoy notched his 5th goal of the season.   McAvoy would later collect an assist, and take part in his first NHL fight.  It was a Gordie Howe hat-trick at TD Garden!

Image result for Charlie McAvoy Gordie Howe Hat Trick

Leading 3-0 earlier in the third period Columbus finally got on the board.  Josh Anders potted his 13th of the year to make it 3-1.  That’s when this young Bruins team turned it on.  They drove the nails into the proverbial coffin.  Rookie standout Danton Heinen scored his 8th goal of the year.   Torey Krug blasted home his 5th shortly after.  Patrice Bergeron and Jake Debrusk notched goals each to make it 7-1.  Columbus would get a garbage time goal from Seth Jones before the game had ended.  7-2 final.

 

Last night was a little bit different for the up and coming Bruins.  They traveled up to Buffalo to meet the dreadful Sabres.  It was the Bruins second game in two nights with young legs it shouldn’t be too much to handle the Sabres.

Image result for Anton Khudobin Sabres

There was a bit of a revenge factor, as the Bruins had blown a 3-1 lead at home to the Sabres earlier this season.  This time the Sabres were shut down by a man named Dobby.  Bruins backup Goaltender Anton Khudobin played the back end of this back-to-back stretch.  He would not disappoint.  For most of the first, and second period Buffalo was flying.  They clearly had more energy than the youthful B’s.  Never fear, as for the first time in years the Bruins have a solid backup who can win them some games.  Dobby stopped 31 shots on 31 attempts.  He was flawless, keeping the Bruins on life-support.  Finally, mid-way through the second period, Jake Debrusk notched his 8th goal of the season to open up the scoring.

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Dobby and the Bruins defense would hang tough in the 3rd, surviving the Sabre’s onslaught.  4th liner Tim Schaller, and David Backes both netted empty net goals to seal the game.

 

The Bruins finish off their three games in four nights stretch on Thursday when the Winnipeg Jets come to TD Garden.  It is finally looking like the past few seasons of mediocrity are paying off for the Bruins.  Young guys are playing massive roles on this team night in night out.  Each game there is a new guy.  One steady constant though, my man Butchy!

Let’s go Bruins!

Let Us Take a Minute to Appreciate Bruce Cassidy

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Bear with me for a minute while I explain the point of this blog will yah?  If you’re reside in the Boston area like myself, theres a lot of pole smoking for Boston Celtics Head Coach Brad Stevens.  Rightfully so, he’s done a fantastic job with the Celtics over his tenure.   He is consistently praised for being a brilliant mind, and coaching up players to exceed expectations.  Now, lets all take the green schlong out of our mouths for a second, and take a look at the job Bruce Cassidy has done with the Boston Bruins.

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Almost a year ago the Bruins were treading water.  Their long tenured coach Claude Julien had won a cup here, and been to another finals appearance two years later.  They had an oldish roster that still, on paper, should be making the playoffs.  In February of 2017 the team had stalled. It was Juliens 10th year at the helm, and the message had gone stale.  The Bruins were on the outside of the playoffs, and played un-inspiring hockey on a nighty basis.  On Super Bowl Monday Don Sweeney finally announced that Claude Julien had been fired, and Bruce Cassidy would be named interim head coach.  Cassidy had been head coach of the Bruins top minor league affiliate Providence Bruins, and was only promoted to Bruins assistant in 2016.  The Bruins got killed for their decision.  How could they do their Stanley Cup winning coach dirty?  Well, it was the best decision the organization ever made.  At the time of the coaching change the Bruins were on pace for 80 or so points.  80 certainly is not going to get you into the playoffs in todays NHL.  Hell, they had missed with 97, and 96 points consecutively.

Cassidy came in and immediately the team showed a change on the ice.  They played free, creative, and fast.  Those three attributes are absolutely imperative in todays NHL.  All of the good teams are young, and fast.  Claude refused to change his ways.  His young skill players had a tough time dealing with Claude, because he would enforce a strict defensive system.  As soon as his fat ass was sent packing the team sprung to life.  It wasn’t short lived either, Cassidy lead the B’s to the playoffs for the first time in 3 years. Injuries derailed the hopes of a run, but Cassidy’s Bruins busted their balls.  All but 1 game in the 6 game series went to overtime.  The Senators would make it to within 1 goal from the Stanley Cup Finals.  They lost to the Penguins in game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

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What has Butchy done this season you ask?  Well, it’s still very early, but the Bruins currently sit in third in the Atlantic Division.  So what? Considering what the Bruins have had to deal with this season, it’s a goddamn miracle.  From the very get-go the B’s have had a rash of injuries.  Not only are they injured, they’re icing a minor league outfit.  Take a look at a list of Bruins players that have missed time this year:

  1. Patrice Bergeron
  2. David Krejci
  3. Ryan Spooner
  4. Brad Marchand
  5. David Backes (Notice that’s your top 4 centers.  Theres 4 total on the team).
  6. Adam McQuaid
  7. Tuukka Rask
  8. Anton Khudobin
  9. Frank Vatrano
  10. Noel Accari
  11. Anders Bjork
  12. Jake DeBrusk
  13. Torey Krug
  14. Matt Beleskey (doesn’t really count he sucks anyway)
  15. Peter Cehlarik (Just when he was creating chemistry with Krejci)

All of these guys haven’t been out at the same time, but at some point their spot has been filled by a call-up.  Bruce Cassidy continues to keep the Bruins competitive despite so many injuries.  They refuse to wilt to the city of Boston not caring about them (record low viewership), and the media asking them to tank/pack it in for the year.  Cassidy has inserted young players that bust their ass night in night out.  Some of the young kids are a real bright spot for the Bruins, and it is exciting.  Danton Heinen has emerged as quality winger that can play on your third line, or first.  Anders Bjork has been a dangerous offensive weapon when healthy, and showed great chemistry with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron.  Brandon Carlo is continuing to develop into a top 4 shut down defenseman.  He won’t wow you with offensive stats, but the guy is becoming a rock in his own end.  Calm with the puck, good skating for a guy his size, and has a bit of nasty in his game.  When healthy, Peter Chelarik has shown that he and his Czech buddies Krejci, and Pastrnak have fantastic chemistry.  Chelarik’s passing vision is amazing.  He fits so well with Krejci, who likes to slow the game down, and make plays passing the puck.

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Cassidy inserted AHL journeyman Jordan Swarz when they had no centers left, and Swarz filled in admirably.  The guy hadn’t sniffed the NHL in his career until this season.  Hell, an uncle of mine plays in a fucking mens league with Swarz.  That’s how depleted this team is.

Perhaps the most controversial decision he’s made was benching 7 million dollar man Tuukka Rask.  Rask has been underperforming so far this season, so Cassidy turned to journeyman Anton Khudobin between the pipes.  Dobby went out, and won four in a row.  The team overall has won 5 of 6 games.  They survived arguably the toughest test in the NHL, the California Gauntlet.  The B’s dropped the first game of the trip to the Anaheim Ducks.  Things looked bleak. Brad Marchand, and Anders Bjork were sent home due to injury.  The boys bounced back with massive wins over the LA Kings, and San Jose Sharks.  They then took down the New Jersey Devils in a shootout shortly after.  The Devils were the Eastern Conference’s best team at the time.   The Bruins then took care of the two time defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins, and most recently took down the Tampa Bay Lightning.  The Lightning are currently the best team in hockey.

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Cassidy has groomed arguably the Bruins best prospect since Raymond Bourque.  Charlie McAvoy is the B’s best player at age 19.  It’s not even close.

The kid is the real deal.  I can’t imagine a prospect showing the kind of ability Chaz has consistently.  The Bruins have had some highly touted prospects too.  Joe Thornton, Tyler Seguin, Phil Kessel, or Douglas Hamilton ring a bell?  None, I repeat none of those names had the impact year one quite like McAvoy.  He wows you passing the puck, has a rocket shot, can skate around you, and best of all he’ll line you up and take your head off.  Chaz is a staple on the Bruins top d pair.  Credit to Cassidy for letting the reigns off the kid.  Claude Julien would have a tough time giving Mac the freedom Butchy does.

(Skip to the 10 min mark for McAcoy) Bottom line here is, Bruce Cassidy is doing a fantastic job with the Bruins.  It’s a shame no one gives him any credit.  The team is a complete shit-show, yet they’d have home ice in round 1 if the season ended today. The Bruins still have an uphill battle to get into the playoffs, but considering the circumstances I am more than content with where they’re at.  They’re young, and there’s going to be stretches of rough play, but with Cassidy at the helm I have complete faith this young team will be a cup contender in two seasons.

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Time for the Bruins to TANK

It’s hard to imagine that not so long ago the Boston Bruins sat among some of the best teams in the league. Fast forward 5 years — and the Bruins are easily one of the five worst teams in the league. They are a team that is littered with AHL players, over-paid broken down veterans and a few solid veteran and youngsters. Their main issue has been injuries — Tuukka Rask, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Backes and David Krejci have all missed time this year with various injuries. The only bright spots that give the Bruins hope going forward are Charlie McAvoy and David Pastrnak.

The Bruins are currently the third worst team in the Eastern Conference points-wise and are tied for the 4th worst points total in the league. They don’t have cap space to sign a major stud, so the only way back to the top is to tank. If they were to tank this season,  they would need to trade away some of their vets like Chara and Krejci. They could at least trade Chara to a playoff contender for at least a first rounder and if they eat some money on Krejci’s deal, they could receive a first/second rounder for him. The argument against tanking would be they have made a million picks in the top three rounds the past three years, but with that said they don’t have much to show from it. If you tank this year and finish in the bottom 5, they have a great chance of getting a player that can actually make a difference.

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Taking a look at the potential top five for next years draft, it looks like there are several skilled players that could help the team. Nolan Patrick (C), Kailer Yamamoto (RW), Maxime Comtois (C) and Kristian Vesalainen (W) could all step in and play on one of the Bruins top three lines.

 

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As the saying goes, if you’re not first, you’re last. Being a team in the middle is always the worst position to be, no matter the sport. So with that said, its time for the Bruins to tank.

Bruins Beat 10/19

Another day, another bout of injury news for the Bruins.  Just getting absolutely hosed by the hockey gods early into the 2017 campaign.  Seems like every day that the Bruins are issuing an injury update on a new key player.  Now, is the loss of Ryan Spooner completely detrimental?  Absolutely not.  Ryan Spooner is a prime example of a player that has “all the tools”, and no “toolbox”.   He’s above average to good skating ability.  He’s got decent vision, hands, and produces on powerplay.

Ryan’s biggest issue is his head.  There are times in which he is invisible for games at a time.  He seems to get rattled easily from coaching, and is completely unwilling to sacrifice his body to make plays.  Spooner is slotting in as the B’s third line center and generally on the second powerplay unit.  Occasionally, he looks like an elite player and will slot in to play on the top powerplay.  Not overly concerned with the loss of him, but it takes out a player that has at least shown a small ability to score at decent clip.

This was mentioned briefly yesterday as it broke in the afternoon, but with today being a game-day I wanted to address it.  This is worrisome.  The Bruins go as far as Tuukka Rask takes them.  It’s that simple.   Rask is the most over-scrutinized athlete in Boston.  The guy is easily a top 10 goalie in the NHL.  He finished 2016 with 65 games played, tied for the most in the NHL for goalies.  Part of this is how unreliable Bruins backup goalies have been the past year.  Backup Anton Khudobin finished 2016 with an underwhelming .904 save %, and a 2.64 goals against average.  These numbers are respectable considering he started the year 0-5, and was sent to Providence to find his game.

So far, it looks like Rask will miss at least this next game as Bruce Cassidy confirmed that he will be out this evening.

 

Image result for Bruins logo  vs. Image result for vancouver canucks logo

Forwards:                                               

Marchand-Bergeron-Bjork

DeBrusk-Krejci-Pastrnak

Schaller-Kuraly-Backes

Agostino-Nash-Frank Vatrano

Defense:

Chara-McAvoy

Krug-Carlo

Miller-McQuaid

Goalies: 

Anton Khudobin

Zayne Macintyre

Nothing too special with the lineup tonight.  Bergeron is still listed as a game time decision, so someone else may have to step into that top line center role. Backes will be making his season debut, after recovering from Diverticulitis.  Will be good to have both (hopefully) back in the lineup.

Forwards:

D. Sedin-H. Sedin-Granlund

Baertschi-Burmistrov-Boeser

Gagner-Horvat-Vanek

Dorsett-Sutter-Virtanen

Defense:

Del Zotto-Tanev

Hutton-Gudbranson

Pouliot-Stetcher

Goalies:

Anders Nilsson

Jacob Markstrom

The Canucks come in with a 1-2-1 record so far.  They are a team expected to finish in the bottom 10 of the league, if not bottom 5.  They do have some quality young players mixed in with Hall of Fame veterans.  Bo Horvat is one to keep an eye on as young lethal goal scoring center, and Brock Boeser who currently leads the Canucks in points at 4.

Overall, we’re going to need a full 60 minute effort from the boys to wrap up 2 points.  While Vancouver definitely sucks, they are a team who can compete with anyone on any given night.  It also helps to have two future Hall of Famers (Sedins) on your top line.  Despite all this, I think the Bruins find their game and pull out a 3-1 victory in front of the TD Garden crowd.

 

Quickly before I go, remember how excited I was that Cehlarik was called up yesterday? I certainly do:

 

Let’s go B’s!!!!!!

NHL Expansion Draft Preview-Western Conference.

The NHL offseason is officially underway!  Yesterday we had a blockbuster trade that flew under the radar as most people were bitching about some shirt Draymond Green was wearing.  Really, who gives a fuck?  Let’s take quick look at the deal the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lighting made yesterday quickly before my Western Conference Mock Expansion Draft.

The Montreal Canadiens Acquired LW Jonathan Drouin and a conditional 2018 6th round pick from the Tampa Bay Lightning.  In return, the Lightning acquiried Mikhail Sergachev and a conditional 2018 2nd round.  Low key blockbuster!  Tampa had been having Drouin troubles for about 3 years now, and they finally dealt him after years of speculation.  The questions remains — why the fuck are the Lightning trading Drouin within the division?!

Drouin is a 22 year old left wing that was originally drafted 3rd overall in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.  The kid is a sniper, and 2016-17 was his breakout season.  He registered 21 goals, 32 assists, and 53 points on the year.  He will likely slot into Les Canadiens top 2 lines as a goal scorer.  Shortly after the deal went through it was announced that Drouin signed a 6 year $33 million contract extension.

Sergachev is an 18 year old Defenseman drafted 9th overall by Montreal in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft and was arguably the Habs’ top prospect.  He spent all of 2016-17 refining his game in the Ontario Hockey League (Major Juniors).  Sergachev dressed in 50 games for the Windsor Spitfires registering 10 goals, 33 assists, and 43  points last season.  Look for him to make the jump to the NHL or AHL this season.   The conditional 2nd round pick hinges on Mikhail’s games played; if he plays 4 ,the picks are exchanged. If not, both teams retain their original picks.

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^ Get a load of these two smug pricks.

With that out of the way, lets kick start my Western Conference Mock Expansion Draft!  I was already proven wrong by the Pittsburgh Penguins shortly after the cup final.  Goaltender Marc-Andre Fluery waived his no-trade clause, and he will be exposed instead of my predicted goalie Matt Murray.

 

Oh well…

 

Central Divison:

Image result for Chicago Blackhawks logoForwards they will expose: C Marcus Krueger, RW Jordin Tootoo, C Andrew Desjardins, C Michael Latta, RW Thomas Jurco, LW Pierre-Cedric Labrie, C Dennis Rasmussen

Defenseman they will expose:  Michael Rosival, Trevor Van Riemsdyk, Viktor Svedberg

Goalies they will expose: Jeff Glass

Vegas Selects: D Trevor Van Riemsdyk

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Surprise! Vegas takes another Dman.  The younger, shittier brother of Toronto Maple Leafs star James Van Riemsdyk will likely be taken from the Hawks.  He has experience playing in big time games with big time players.  He’ll likely bottom out as a solid bottom pairing defenseman. He’s only 25, so Vegas will give him a shot.  He’s coming off a 5 goal, 11 assist, and 16 point season in  2017.  He also finished with a career best +17 +/-.

 

Image result for colorado avalanche logoForwards they will expose: C Carl Soderberg, LW Blake Comeau, C Mikhail Grigorenko, C Joe Colborne, C Rocco Grimaldi, LW Matt Nieto, C John Mitchell

Defenseman they will expose: Mat Clark, Patrick Wiercoch, Mark Barberio

Goalies they will expose: Jeremy Smith

Vegas Selects: C Mikhail Grigorenko

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Some solid options from an abysmal organization.  Colorado will likely be one of the more active teams this off season.  After being one of the worst teams in the last 20 years, they got absolutely screwed out of the #1 overall draft pick.  Avalanche GM Joe Sakic will likely protect a large group of players merely to save them for trades that acquire future assets (Duchene, Landeskog, etc).  Vegas will scoop up 23 year old Grigorenko, a former 1st round pick of the Buffalo Sabres.  He’s never been able to really get it together in the NHL —  however this year he recorded his best numbers yet.  He finished 2017 with 10 goals, 13 assists, and 23 points.  Grigorenko is listed as a center, but can play wing as well.

Image result for dallas starsForwards they will Expose: C Cody Eakin, LW Curtis McKenzie,  RW Adam Cracknell, RW Brett Ritchie, LW Antoine Roussel, C Justin Dowling, Gemel Smith, C Radek Faksa

Defenseman they will expose: Dan Hamhuis, Greg Pateryn, Andrew Bondnarchuk

Goalies they will expose: Kari Lehtonen

Vegas Selects: LW Antoine Roussel

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Solid pick right here for the Knights.  There is a fear in Dallas that they will have to expose Roussel for the Draft.  Consensus in the media says that Cody Eakin will be taken from the Stars.  I’ve already taken a shit load of centers, so lets go with Roussel.  Roussel is the text book definition of  “Depth/Secondary Scoring”.  He’s also extremely consistent — in his four full NHL seasons he’s finished with 29, 25, 29, and 27 points respectively.  He also brings an edge to his game.  Seen as an agitator, Antoine has amassed over 100 penalty minutes in all four of his NHL seasons.

Image result for minnesota wild logoForwards they will expose: C Eric Staal, LW Jason Zucker, C Cody Brassart, C Ryan White, RW Chris Stewart, RW Kurtis Gabriel, C Erik Haula

Defenseman they will expose: Nate Prosser, Marco Scandella, Christian Folin

Goalies they will expose: Alex Stalock

Vegas Selects: LW Jason Zucker

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Zucker is the pick from most of the talking heads out there.  Zucker is coming off his best season – he posted a 47 point season on 22 goals, and 25 assists.  I wouldn’t expect 30+ points consistently since he’s more of a depth scorer.  Would be a solid add for Vegas, as he is only 25.

Image result for Nashville predators new  logoForwards they will expose: LW Cody McLeod, C Trevor Smith,  C Cody Bass, C Mike Ribeiro, C Craig Smith, LW James Neal, C Vernon Fiddler

Defenseman they will expose: Yannick Weber, Matt Irwin, Anthony Jaynen

Goalies they will expose: Marek Mazanec

Vegas Selects: LW James Neal

 

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Nashville could go either way when it comes to exposing/protecting forwards.  They don’t have many players that would be exempt.  I went with James Neal solely because the chatter seems to be that he would be exposed.  If I’m Vegas, I’m grabbing a guy coming off a deep cup run.  His numbers are starting to dip as he gets older  but he can still bring solid production.

Image result for St Louis Blues logoForwards they will expose:  LW David Perron, RW Ryan Reaves, C Kyle Brodziak, RW Dmitrij Jaskin, C Landon Ferraro, RW Nail Yakupov

Defenseman they will expose: Robert Bortuzzo, Chris Butler, Petteri Lindbhom

Goalies they will expose: Carter Hutton

Vegas Selects: RW Nail Yakupov

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The biggest bust in recent NHL history comes off the board from St. Louis.  Not much more to say.  He was selected #1 overall by Edmonton in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and he went into a horrendous situation with the Oilers.  He came out firing in the lockout shortened 2013 campaign.  He posted 17 goals, 14 assists, and 31 points in the 48 game regular season — not too shabby.  Since that time though, he’s been a disaster.  Multiple coaching changes and mismanagement has done him in.  This past offseason, he was traded to the St. Louis Blues for a career ECHLer (That’s AA hockey, not even AAA).  He amassed only 9 points on 3 goals, and 6 assists in 40 games played with St. Louis.  The physical tools are all there.  He’s got incredible end to end speed, lightning quick release, and is not afraid of body contact.  Vegas will take Nail in what will likely be his last shot before he bolts for CSKA Moscow of the KHL.

Image result for winnipeg jets logoForwards they will expose: RW Joel Armia, LW Adam Lowry, C Marko Dano, RW Chris Throburn, C Mathieu Perreault, RW JC Lipon, RW Anthony Peluso

Defenseman they will expose: Mark Stuart, Julian Melchiori, Paul Postma

Goalies they will expose: Ondrej Pavelec

Vegas Selects: C Marko Dano

Seems to be the consensus that Dano will be scooped up by Vegas.  I’ll go with him since it seemed to be the unanimous pick with the beat writers.  I could see Mathieu Perrault being picked as well.  Dano is only 22 years old, and lacks experience at the NHL level. He was a former 1st round pick of the Chicago Blackhawks.  He only played in 38 contests this year, posting 11 points on 4 goals and 7 assists.

Image result for Anaheim Ducks new logoForwards they will expose:  C Chris Wagner, RW Jared Boll, C Antoine Vermette, RE Logan Shaw, RW Corey Tropp, LW Emerson Etem, LW Andrew Cogliano

Defenseman the will expose: Clayton Stoner, Sami Vatanen, Jeff Shultz

Goalies they will expose: Dustin Tokarski

Vegas Selects: Sami Vatanen

Image result for Sami Vatanen 2017

Tough decisions coming out of Anaheim.  So many defensemen and not enough protection spots.  They will have to leave Vatanen exposed as he is older than Hamphus Lindholm and Cam Fowler.  Both have more upside at this stage of their careers.  Sami is an offensive defenseman, who lacks size.  He can still play top four minutes and quarterback the power play.

Image result for arizona coyotes new logoForwards they will expose: LW Jamie McGinn, RW Brad Richardson, LW Jordan Martinook, C Alex Burmistrov, C Peter Holland, C Chris Mueller, C Tyler Gaudet

Defenseman they will expose:  Luke Schenn, Kevin Connauton, Jamie McBain

Goalies they will expose: Louis Domingue

Vegas Selects: Jamie McGinn

Image result for Jamie McGinn Coyotes

 

Beat writers have Vegas selecting Luke Schenn from Arizona.  Luke Schenn sucks.  Like a lot.  McGinn presents a solid bottom six forward who can kill penalties and pot a few goals here and there.  He’s on a shitty contract but Vegas can afford to take on his money.

Image result for Calgary Flames logoForwards they will expose:  RW Michael Frolik, C Matt Stajan, RW Troy Brouwer, LW Brandon Bollig, C Curtis Lazar, RW Alex Chiasson, Linden Vey

Defenseman they will expose: Matt Bartkowski, Deryk Engelland, Brett Kulak

Goalies they will expose: Tom McCollum

Vegas Selects: C Curtis Lazar

Image result for Curtis Lazar flames

Another 1st round bust gets snapped up by the Golden Knights.  Picked 17th overall by the Ottawa Senators in 2013, he’s never produced at all at the NHL level.  He was traded to Calgary at the 2017 NHL trade deadline.  Provides Vegas with a forward prospect who may catch fire, but it’s unlikely.  He is a better option than most of the Flames exposed forwards – otherwise, he sucks.

Image result for Edmonton Oilers logoForwards they will expose: LW Benoit Pouliot, C Mark Letestu, RW Justin Fontaine,  RW Tyler Pitlick,  RW Jujhar Kjaira, RW Jordan Eberle, LW Zachary Pochiro

Defenseman they will expose: Eric Gryba, Mark Fayne, Griffin Reinhart

Goalies they will expose:  Laurent Brossoit

Vegas Selects: D Griffin Reinhart

Image result for Griffin reinhart oilers

Another major bust coming into Vegas!  Picked 4th overall in 2012 by the New York Islanders, Griffin hasn’t been able to make the leap. Nothing else of real value available from the Oilers– might as well load up on D prospects.  A chance to play for the Knights is exactly what Reinhart may need.  He spent all of 2017 playing for the Bakersfield Condors, the Oilers AHL affiliate.   His only real regular playing time in the NHL was in 2015-16 when he skated in 29 games for the Oilers.  He only notched 1 assist, and had a -6 +/- rating.

Image result for Los Angeles Kings logoForwards they will expose:  RW Dustin Brown, RW Marian Gaborik, C Kyle Clifford, C Jordan Nolan. RW Teddy Purcell,  LW Andy Andreoff, C Nick Shore

Defenseman they will expose: Derek Forbort, Zach Trotman, Vincent Loverde

Goalies they will expose:  Jeff Zatkoff

Vegas Selects: C Nick Shore

Image result for Nick shore 2017

Depth forward for the bottom two lines — can play center and wing at a decent level. He is not going to score a lot goals, or set them up for that matter.  He is good in the faceoff circle, kills penalties, and is strong defensively.  Nothing sexy about this pick. The other  options Gaborik and Brown are all on enormous contracts not worth taking on.

Image result for san jose sharks logoForwards they will expose: LW Mikkel Boedker, C Melker Karlsson, RW Joel Ward, C Ryan Carpenter, C Chris Tierney, C Michael Haley, RW Buddy Robinson

Defenseman they will expose: Paul Martin, David Schlemko, Dylan DeMelo

Goalies they will expose: Aaron Dell

Vegas Selects: LW Mikkel Boedker

 

Image result for Mikkel Boedker sharks

Coming off a career worst year, it is very likely the Sharks would be willing to expose Boedker.  He was signed as an Unrestricted Free Agent last summer by the Sharks.  He was slated to play alongside the likes of Jumbo Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, and Logan Couture.  He is all over the map production wise but can generally top out around 50 points.  However, this year he only notched 26 in 81 games played.  Could be an easy target for the Golden Knights.

Image result for Vancouver Canucks logoForwards they will expose: C Markus Granlund, Reid Boucher, RW Derek Dorsett, C Jayson Megna, RW Jack Skille, C Brendan Gaunce, C Joseph Cramarossa

Defenseman they will expose: Luca Sbisa, Akex Biega, Erik Gudbranson

Goalies they will expose: Richard Bachman

Vegas Selects: D Luca Sbisa

Another defenseman rounds out the picks from Vegas.  It is absolutely vital that they load up on defense talent in the Expansion Draft and Entry Draft.  When it comes down to playing in the playoffs, solid D corps are crucial.  Sbisa is not a top 4 defenseman by any means, but he is a solid bottom pairing D man with experience.

 

 

There you have it.  My Western Conference mock Expansion Draft.  Keep in mind this shit may be way off.  There are so many variables at play here.  I got a lot of help from the beat writers mock  draft on the Washington Post, and a little hockey nerd site called capfriendly.com.  You can fuck around with exposing/protecting players yourself here:

https://www.capfriendly.com/expansion-draft

Here’s my final list I’m not going to do line combos because it’s fucking late, and I’m still sitting in the office like a hardo.

Forwards: Tyler Ennis, Darren Helm, Tomas Plekanec, Bobby Ryan, Seth Griffith, Brock McGinn, Mike Cammelleri, Michael Grabner, Mikhail Grigorenko, Antoine Roussel, Jason Zucker, James Neal, Nail Yakupov, Marko Dano, Jamie McGinn, Curtis Lazar, Nick Shore, Mikkel Boedker.

Defenseman: Joe Morrow, Mark Pysyk, Braydon Coburn, Ryan Pulock, Derrick Pouliot, Luca Sbisa, Griffin Reinhart, Sami Vatanen, Trevor van Riemsdyk

Goalies: Phillip Grubauer, Michal Nuevirth, Joonas Korpisalo

 

Thus ends the second half of my two part mock expansion draft.  Hopefully 50% of it will actually true, but that is unlikely.  Stay tuned next week for a recap of the NHL awards, and expansion draft– both take place on the 21st in Las Vegas.

 

Stanley Cup Final Game 6 Recap

Well, there it is.  The Pittsburgh Penguins are the 2017 Stanley Cup Champions. They are the first team to win back-to-back cups since the late 90’s Red Wings. The Predators fought hard to force a game 7 back in Pittsburgh, but the playoff seasoned Penguins were just too much to handle.

For 58 minutes, Matt Murray and Pekka Rinne put on a goaltending clinic.  The action was end to end, with chances coming in abundance.  Matt Murray made 27 saves, had some assistance from his posts and officials.

Just under 2 minutes into the second period, Predators winger Colton Sissons banged home a lose puck into the yawning net.  It was a rebound that trickled through Murray’s five hole.  Unfortunately, the officials blew the whistle before the puck went into the net since it looked as if the puck was covered up.  Once the play is dead — it’s dead.  Does not matter that the puck went in, or was loose.  It sucks, but it is what it is.

The Predators continued to push hard to a go-ahead goal, but Murray was fantastic.  At the other end of the ice, Pekka Rinne was matching Murray save for save.  Despite being awarded 4 power play chances and one 5 on 3 advantage, the Predators could not beat Murray.  Before long there were only 5 minutes remaining in the 3rd period — surely this was going to go to sudden death overtime.

With just 93 seconds remaining, Penguins winger Patric Hornqvist corralled a loose puck in the right wing corner after a wacky bounce off the end boards.  Out of position from the bounce, Hornqvist banked the puck off of Pekka Rinne into the back of the net.  That was it.  Carl Hagelin added an empty netter with just 10 seconds left to play.  Pure joy and elation for the Pens, and heartbreaking defeat for the Preds.

Image result for patric hornqvist

Overall, the series was a bit of a let down.  Not taking anything away from the Predators, but they just did not match up well with Penguins.  Their forward group just did not pack enough of a punch.  They stood a fighting chance if Rinne stood on his head, and if he hadn’t shit himself in games 1,3, and 5 this probably goes 7 games.

Sidney Crosby was the 2017 Conn Smythe (Playoff MVP) winner.  In an all time hose job, he wins the award in back to back years.  Neither season he deserved it.  2015-16 should’ve been Phil Kessel, this year it should have been Jake Guentzel or Evgeni Malkin.

My pick has to be Guentzel —  he played in only 40 regular season games and finished with 33 pts on 16 goals and 17 assists.  In the 25 game playoffs, he managed to grab 21 pts on 13 goals and 8 assists.  Most of the goals came in clutch moments as well.  Feel bad for Guentzel but since the Penguins won the finals, Sid gets MVP.  Absolute joke.

Image result for sidney crosby conn smythe

 

On to the 2017 off season we go!  From now until July 6th, the NHL is going to be loaded with offseason events. On June 21st, we will have the NHL Awards Ceremony (who cares?) and the expansion draft.  Move two days later to 6/23, and we will have the 2017 NHL Entry Draft from Chicago’s United Center.  Rounding off the events is the beginning of Unrestricted Free Agency on July 1st.

Now that 2017’s over, LET’S GO BRUINS!!

 

Stanley Cup Final Game 5 Recap.

Disaster is the only way to describe Game 5 for the Predators.  After coming off a monstrous win on home ice to even the series at two games a piece, all momentum was ripped away less than a minute into Game 5 at PPG Paints Arena.  Pekka Rinne moves to 0-6 in with a 4.88 GAA for his career in Pittsburgh — not a great look.

The game opened up with Nashville’s Ryan Ellis taking a holding call against Sidney Crosby.  Under a minute later, Justin Shultz slipped a point shot through the five hole of Rinne.  A soft goal to open the game less than 2 minutes in — and that was it.  Pittsburgh kept up the pressure while scoring three first period goals.  Bryan Rust and Evegeni Malkin rounded out the score sheet.

Nashville’s Juuse Saros entered the net at the start of the second period hoping to stop the bleeding (spoiler: he didn’t).  Pittsburgh added three more goals from Conor Sheary, Phil Kessel, and Ron Hainsey.  Pittsburgh would cruise through the rest of the game to a an easy game 5 victory.

Image result for stanley cup finals game 5

 

On what has been a rollercoaster of a series, the Penguins are just one win away from claiming back to back Stanley Cup titles.  This would be the first time any team has gone back to back since the Red Wings in 1997 and 1998.

Watching this series has lead me to draw some comparisons to the 2011 finals between Boston and Vancouver.  The Canucks and Luongo were rock solid at home.  They won the first two games (only by 1 goal each) only to travel to Boston and get absolutely run out of the building .  Luongo was pulled twice in three games in Boston.  The home team won each game, until Nathan Horton poured a little TD Garden Ice onto Vancouver’s ice prior to the start of game 7.   The rest is history.

Image result for nathan horton pouring water on ice

Looks like the Predators may need some Bridgestone Arena ice should this series go 7 games.  Unfortunately though, it looks like the Penguins have snatched the life from the Predators.  Bridgestone Arena has been able to lift it’s team before, and it will take their best effort to keep this series alive.  Game 6 is Sunday at 8:00pm EST on NBC.

Game 6 Prediction: Preds 3- Pens 0

Series Prediction: I’m sticking by it — Predators win series 4-3.

2017 NHL Expansion Draft Preview – Eastern Conference Edition

Image result for las vegas golden knights

On June 21st, the NHL will be taking part in a historic event.  The Las Vegas Golden Knights will begin molding their roster by taking part in the expansion draft. Vegas must select at least one exposed played from all 30 NHL clubs.

For the 30 NHL franchises, there are rules that will needed to be followed when protecting and exposing players.  All of the rules are outlined on NHL.com, but here’s a few of the basics:

NHL Clubs Exposure Rules per NHL.com:

  1. All Clubs must expose 1 Defenseman who are A) Under contract in 2017-18 and  B) Played in 40 or more NHL games in the prior season, or played 70 or more NHL games total in the prior two seasons.

  2. All Clubs must expose 2 forwards who are A) Under contract in 2017-18 and  B) Played in 40 or more NHL games in the prior season, or played 70 or more NHL games total in the prior two seasons.

  3. One goaltender who is under contract in 2017-18 or will be a restricted free agent at the expiration of his current contract immediately prior to 2017-18. If the club elects to make a restricted free agent goaltender available in order to meet this requirement, that goaltender must have received his qualifying offer prior to the submission of the club’s protected list.

Las Vegas Selection rules per NHL.com

  1. The Las Vegas franchise must select one player from each presently existing club for a total of 30 players.

  2. The Las Vegas franchise must select the following number of players at each position: 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goaltenders.

  3. The Las Vegas franchise must select a minimum of 20 players who are under contract for the 2017-18 season

The 30 NHL clubs will released their protected and exposed lists by 6/17 — allowing for the fans to play armchair GM. Here is a little preview of who I think will be protected and exposed by all 30 NHL franchises.

 

Atlantic Division:

Image result for Boston Bruins logo Forwards they will expose: LW Matt Beleskey, RW Jimmy Hayes, C/RW Riley Nash, C/LW Tim Schaller, C Dominic Moore,  C Ryan Spooner

Defensemen they will expose: Joe Morrow, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller

Goalies they will Expose: Anton Khudobin

Vegas Selects: D Joe Morrow

Image result for Joe Morrow 2017 playoffs

Vegas will take a flyer on the 24 year old 2011 1st round pick.  Seemingly shunned by both Claude Julien and new Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy, Morrow only dressed in 19 regular season games in 2016-17.  When 3 of Boston’s top 6 defenseman all went down, Morrow stepped into the lineup for 5 playoff games.  He finished with 1 assist, a +1 rating, and averaged 21.96 minutes of ice time. Morrow could be a great pick for Vegas.  He is young and can move the puck really well.  He has got great skating ability — but decision making and coverage can be a major weakness.

Image result for buffalo sabres logoForwards they will expose: LW Tyler Ennis, LW Nicolas Deslauriers, C Brian Gionta, LW Matt Moulson, C Johan Larsson, LW , C Cody McCormick, LW Marcus Foligno

Defensemen they will expose: Justin Faulk, Josh Gorges, Cody Franson

Goalies they will expose: Anders Nilsson

Vegas Selects: LW Tyler Ennis

Image result for tyler ennis sabres

Slim pickings from the Buffalo Sabres — but Tyler Ennis has shown he can be a goal scorer at the NHL level.  He has shown that when on his game, he can put up 40-50 pts any given season.  However, the last two years he’s combined for just 24 points in only 74 games played.

Image result for detroit red wings logoForwards they will expose: C Riley Sheahan, C Luke Glendening, C Darren Helm, LW Tomas Nosek, C Ben Street, LW Drew Miller, RW Mitch Callahan

Defensemen they will expose: Brian Lashoff, Dylan McIlrath, Xavier Ouellet

Goalie they will expose: Jimmy Howard

Vegas Selects: C Darren Helm

Image result for Darren Helm 2017

Nothing much to see here — Helm is a solid veteran center who would be able to played on the 3rd or 4th line easily. He will be able to fill in with spot duty in Vegas’s top 6 should injuries occur.

Image result for florida panthers logoForwards they will expose: C Nik Bjugstad, C Derek MacKenzie, C Colton Sceviour, RW Jussi Jokinen, RW Paul Thompson, C Brody Sutter

Defensemen they will expose: Mark Pysyk, Jakub Kindl, Alex Petrovic

Goalies they will expose: Roberto Luongo

Vegas Selects: D Mark Pysyk

The consensus out there seems to be that Vegas will select either Petrovic or Pysyk.  I went with Pysyk simply due to upside.  Originally a first round pick of the Buffalo Sabres in the 2010 draft, Pysyk presents the ability to skate and move the puck.  Petrovic is a more prototypical stay at home defenseman.

Image result for montreal canadiens logoForwards they will expose: C Torrey Mitchell, C Paul Byron, LW Chris Terry, Brian Flynn, C Tomas Plekanec, RW Bobby Farnham, LW Stefan Matteau

Defensemen they will expose: Nikita Nesterov, Nathan Beaulieu, Alexei Emelin

Goalies they will expose: Al Montoya

Vegas selects: C Tomas Plekanec

Image result for tomas plekanec 2017

Vegas probably doesn’t want to select anyone from this wretched organization, but rules are rules.  Plekanec is well past his prime of being a top 1-2 center on his team.  He’d make for a solid 3rd line center on a young team.  Au revoir to the turtling turtleneck.

Image result for ottawa senatorsForwards they will expose: C Tom Pyatt, C Zack Smith, RW Alexandre Burrows, LW Clarke MacArthur, RW Mike Blunden, RW Tommy Wingels, C Casey Bailey, LW Bobby Ryan

Defensemen they will expose: Jyrki Jokipakka, Chris Wideman, Mark Borowiecki

Goalies they will Expose: Andrew Hammond

Vegas Selects: LW Bobby Ryan

Image result for Bobby Ryan 2017 playoffs

Seems to be the consensus out there that Ottawa would not protect Bobby Ryan — he’s been on the decline for quite some time and his contract is absolutely atrocious.  Ottawa may change Ryan’s status after his 15 pts in 19 playoff games this season.  Vegas will likely snap him up as a top 6 winger, and a way to get to the Salary Cap floor.

Image result for tampa bay lightningForwards they will Expose: LW Byron Froese, C Gabriel Dumont, LW Michael Bournival, LW Tye McGinn, C Cedric Paquette, RW Erik Condra.

Defensemen they will expose: Braydon Coburn, Jason Garrison, Andrej Sustr

Goalies they will expose: Kristers Gudlevskiks

Vegas Selects: D Braydon Coburn

Image result for braydon coburn lightning

Coburn is a solid veteran defenseman with loads of experience playing big minutes.  The 6′ 5″, 225 lb Coburn can still log top 4 minutes but his best days are behind him.  Would be a solid addition to a likely young Vegas squad.

Image result for Toronto Maple LeafsForwards they will expose: C Brooks Laich, C Eric Fehr, RW Colin Greening, RW Seth Griffith,  RW Ben Smith, LW Milan Michalek, LW Josh Leivo

Defensemen they will expose:  Connor Carrick, Matt Hunwick, Roman Polak

Goalies they will expose: Garret Sparks

Vegas Selects:  Seth Griffith

Image result for seth griffith leafs

Ahhhh Seth Griffith.  Once a highly touted prospect in the Bruins organization, he’s just never been able to figure it out at the NHL level.  Playing for three organizations in 2016-17 didn’t help that.  Vegas will take a shot on the AHL goal scorer.

Metropolitan Division:

Image resultForwards they will expose: RW Lee Stempniak, LW Phillip Di Giuseppe, LW Brock McGinn, C Andrej Nestrasil, C Jay McClement, C Connor Brickley

 

Defensemen they will Expose: Klas Dahlbeck, Dennis Robertson, Matt Tennyson

Goalies they will expose: Cam Ward

Vegas Selects: C Brock McGinn

 

Image result for brock mcginn

Seems that McGinn has been the unanimous pick at various media outlets.  Can’t say I disagree — he presents some nice upside at a young age.  McGinn is a two way forward who is just 23 years old.

 

Image result for columbus blue jackets logoForwards they will expose: C Sam Gagner, C Zac Dalpe, C T.J. Tynan, LW Brett Gallant, C Lukas Sedlak, C Alex Broadhurst, RW Josh Anderson

Defensemen they will expose: Jack Johnson, Kyle Quincey, Jamie Sifers

Goalies they will expose: Joonas Korpisalo

Vegas Selects: G Joonas Korpisalo

 

Columbus will have a tough time when they have to release their lists. They have quite a few aging veterans with No-Movement Clauses or full No-Trade Clauses, which would leave them exempt from being exposed.

Consensus out there seems to be Korpisalo would be the pick by Vegas.  He’s a solid backup who can make up to 30 or so appearances.  He finished 2017 with 14 appearances, 2.88 GAA, and a .915 save %.  The young Finnish goalie would make a great backup and he’s only 23.  Eventually he could develop into a full time starter.

Image result for new jersey devils logoForwards they will expose:  RW Devante Smith-Pelly, C Luke Gazdic, C Jacob Josefson, Stefan Noesen, LW Mike Cammalleri, RW Shane Harper, C Carter Camper

Defensemen they will expose: Dalton Prout, Ben Lovejoy, John Merril

Goalies they will Expose: Keith Kinkaid

Vegas Selects: LW Mike Cammalleri

Image result for Mike cammalleri 2017

Nothing but trash to pick from the team that holds the #1 overall pick in this June’s NHL Entry Draft.  Couldn’t hurt Vegas to pry Cammalleri if he is exposed.  Once a gifted scorer, his goal totals declined as his age rose.  The Devils will look to expose him to relieve themselves of the $5 million dollar cap hit.  If not, look for the Devils to try and get a return for Cammalleri by trading him.

Image result for new york islanders logoForwards they will expose: LW Nikolai Kulemin, LW Jason Chimera, LW Shane Prince,  C Alan Quine, C Stephen Gionta, RW Cal Clutterbuck, C Bracken Kearns

Defensemen they will Expose: Dennis Seidenberg, Calvin De Haan, Ryan Pulock

Goalies they will Expose: Jaroslav Halak

Vegas Selects: D Ryan Pulock

Image result for ryan pulock

Pulock would be the pick of the draft for the Knights.  If he’s available, they will take him no questions asked.  The Isles are in a bit of a bind as they have to pick between Calvin De Haan, a good young defenseman, or Ryan Pulock, who is also a very talented young defenseman.  De Haan is more of a finished product, which is why I can see the Isles leaving Pulock exposed.  Should Vegas pick him up —  he has the potential to play top pairing minutes.

Image result for New York Rangers logoForwards they will expose: LW Matt Puempel, C Brandon Pirri, LW Taylor Beck, RW Michael Grabner, C Daniel Catenacci, C Chris Brown, LW Matt Hrivik.

Defensemen they will expose: Kevin Klein, Steven Kampfer, Nick Holden

Goalies they will expose:  Mackenzie Skapski

Vegas Selects: RW Michael Grabner

Image result for michael grabner rangers

Coming off a career year in 2016-17, Grabner would be a solid pickup for the Vegas squad.   Grabner netted 27 goals and 13 assists this season but don’t count on this type of production consistently. He is however, one of the fastest end to end skaters in the NHL.  He is a great Penalty Killer and a solid depth scorer.  Off season surgery to the Rangers’ Jesper Fast could mean Grabner is exposed.

Image result for pittsburgh penguins new logoForwards they will expose: LW Carl Hagelin, LW Scott Wilson, RW Josh Archibald, C Kevin Porter, RW Tom Kuhnhackl, LW Garret Wilson, RW Brian Rust

Defensemen they will expose: Derrick Pouliot, Tim Erixon, Cameron Gaunce

Goalies they will expose: Matt Murray

Vegas Selects: D Derrick Pouliot

Image result for Derrick Pouliot

The thought of snagging Matt Murray is quite tempting, but having a plethora of young mobile defensemen is far superior to goaltending.  Pouliot is a young offensive minded defenseman who will be great anchoring the Knight’s power play.

Image result for philadelphia flyers logoForwards they will expose: RW Matt Read, C Greg Carey, RW Dale Weise, LW Pierre Edouard-Bellemare, LW Michael Raffl, LW Colin McDonald, C Scott Laughton

Defensemen they will expose: Nick Schultz, Will O’Neill, T.J. Brennan

Goalies they expose: Michal Nuevirth

Vegas Selects: G Michal Nuevirth

Image result for michal neuvirth flyers

Vegas gets its starting goalie from the Flyers.  Mostly splitting time with Steve Mason Nuevirth has shown the ability to be a mid-level starter in the NHL.  Everything else Philly can offer leaves this one as a no-brainer.

 

Image result for washington capitals logoForwards they will expose: C Zach Sill, RW Garret Mitchell, RW Brett Connelly, LW Thomas Christian, LW Chris Bourque, C Daniel Winnik, C Liam O’Brien

Defensemen they will expose: Brooks Orpik, Taylor Chorney, Tom Gilbert

Goalies they will expose: Phillip Grubauer

Vegas Selects: G Phillip Grubauer

Image result for philipp grubauer

Grubauer rounds out the goalies for Vegas – solid backup but that’s about it.  Could either be a backup in Vegas or a starter down on the farm.

 

That wraps it up for the Eastern Conference — stay tuned for my western conference mock next week!

Stanley Cup Final Game 4 Recap

The Nashville Predators took game 4 of the 2017 Stanley Cup Finals, evening the series at two games a piece on home ice in the Music City.  On what will go down as one of the biggest home ice advantages in recent memory, the Predators have completely changed the tune of the series.  After losing games 1 and 2 on the road, the Preds have stormed back, winning games 3 and 4 by a combined score of 9-2. Bridgestone Arena has been absolutely rocking, and it seems as though this momentum will carry with them on the road in Pitt.

Continue reading Stanley Cup Final Game 4 Recap