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NHL Mock Draft Part Two: Selections 6-10

Part one is done, which looked at my prediction of the top-five National Hockey League entry draft selections, which means we are going through picks 6-10 for part two!

 

In this part I predict a trade, but other than that it is a straightforward prediction. For a quick refresher, Kappo Kakko went first, Jack Hughes went second, Cole Caufield at third, Alex Turcotte went fourth and Bowen Byram went fifth. 

 

Sixth Overall Pick: Detroit Red Wings trade back!

A trade kicks off part two, and it is a small one, but with a big impact. The Red Wings, I believe, are eyeing a prospect that should be available at 10th overall, owned by the Vancouver Canucks, and so they swap places, with Vancouver also eating Danny DeKeyser’s contract. Canucks fans have always complained about getting screwed over by the draft lottery, and so the team decides it’s time to move up, at the cost of DeKeyser’s hefty contract. Trade is Detroit’s 2019 sixth overall pick to Vancouver in exchange for the 10th overall pick, and Danny DeKeyser. So, here’s the pick:

 

Sixth Overall Pick: Vancouver Canucks select Trevor Zegras, Center/Both Wings, USNTDP

Zegras is like Alex Turcotte and Bowen Byram (who were selected in part one) in which he could arguably be the third overall pick. But with the Caufield selection at three, and Turcotte and Byram ultimately falling, Zegras is left available for the taking. (Why Detroit wouldn’t take him here will be explained when pick 10 rolls around).

For Vancouver, they have been dying to select a versatile, sure-fire future elite forward on draft day for a while. I know what you’re thinking, what about Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat? Pettersson was selected back in 2016, and needed a season before making the jump and, ultimately, becoming their best player. Boeser was everything but a sure-fire deal, being taken at 23rd overall in 2015. Horvat was drafted in 2013, at the tail end of the top 10 (ninth overall) and also wasn’t exactly a sure thing.

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So, it’s been a few years and the Canucks want more, and Zegras is probably the best forward (aside from Pettersson) that they have selected in the draft, and whether he ends up more vital to the team than Horvat and Boeser will be found out within a few years.

Zegras piled up 14 goals and 26 assists (40 points) in 27 games with the USNTDP juniors. The fact that he didn’t play up with Turcotte and Jack Hughes tells me he has about 1-2 years before making the jump to the NHL, but his playmaking ability is outstanding. He proved that when he played for the US National U-18 team for 60 games, where he put up 26 goals and 61 assists (87 points).

Next season, like with Caufield and Turcotte, he is committed to joining an NCAA club, and for him it’s Boston University. BU is well known in the hockey community thanks to Jack Eichel, Charlie McAvoy and Charlie Coyle, just to name a few, so I feel that this is a big step in the right direction for Zegras.

Next Year’s Role: NCAA minutes, likely won’t join the NHL club at any point next season, unless he dominates with BU.

 

Seventh Overall Pick: Buffalo Sabres select Dylan Cozens, Center/Right Wing, Lethbridge Hurricanes, WHL

This is an excellent selection for the Sabres. But then again, if any of the aforementioned players were available here, and the Sabres picked them, it would be excellent. That’s just how strong the top-10 prospects are in this class.

Playing in the WHL last season with Lethbridge, Cozens put up 34 goals and 50 assists (84 points) in 68 games, along with four goals and four assists (eight points) in seven playoff games. Cozens is leading the next wave of power forwards, that is currently led by Mark Stone of the Vegas Golden Knights.

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Cozens is well balanced, with a good shot and good vision. But his defensive abilities, paired with his well-balanced scoring touch, prompted LastWordOnHockey’s Ben Kerr to believe he could be a first line center with a chance at winning the Selke Trophy. That’s big praise from a guy who does several scouting reports on all different players every year. Cozens could make the jump to the NHL off of a strong camp, but the chances are he needs another year or so to advance to the next level. 

Next Year’s Role: WHL time with Lethbridge, likely won’t join the club late in the season, but it is possible.

 

Eighth Overall Pick: Edmonton Oilers select Matthew Boldy, Left Wing, USNTDP


Why Matthew Boldy here? I know it’s a little off the board, and he is not the best player available. But that by no means says that he is not a good player. Boldy has good size (6’2”, 192 pounds), and he had a very good season with the USNTDP Juniors club. He racked up 17 goals and 26 assists (43 points) in 28 games, adding another 33 goals and 48 assists (81 points) in 64 games with the US National U-18 team. He might not be the best skater in the draft by any means, but as fellow Puck77 contributor Tony Ferrari points out, with some adjustment in his stride as well as a better first step and in general acceleration, he could wind up being one of the best players in the draft.

Now, when we head on over to Edmonton’s roster, we see they have a strong center core, both young and experienced (Connor McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jujhar Khaira in the NHL, Ryan McLeod, Cooper Marody in their pool) as well as a solid bunch of right wingers with promise (Leon Draisaitl, Jesse Puljujarvi in NHL, Kailer Yamamoto, Kirill Maksimov, Ostap Mafin in pool), as well as defenseman (Oscar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse in NHL, Evan Bouchard, Dmitri Samorukov, Ethan Bear in pool).

As for left wings, they have Milan Lucic and Tobias Rieder on the NHL club, and Tyler Benson in their pool. That is a very weak core, relative to their other positions (outside of goaltending), and while some players may go and new players will come in within the time that Boldy will be in the juniors/minors developing, they should still get a headstart in building up that very weak left wing.

Boldy is a safer pick than some guys who may have higher upside, but regardless, he fills a pretty large need the Oilers have. This is not that much of a reach either, it’s just that he was in the shadows of the earlier USNTDP picks and is, in my opinion, overlooked by the general fan. I believe this would be a great selection for Edmonton. He has committed to Boston College (NCAA) next season, where he will not be in anyone’s shadow.

Next Year’s Role: NCAA minutes, no chance he joins the Oilers late in season barring major injuries and/or he dominates in Boston College.

 

9th Overall Pick: Anaheim selects Kirby Dach, Center, Saskatoon Blades, WHL

Dach going to the Ducks is a match made in heaven. We all know the frustrating in-your-face, kind of dirty style of play that the Ducks utilize. While Dach isn’t necessarily dirty, he is a big guy, standing at 6’4, 198 pounds, and can very easily use that frame to fit the bill of a Duck.

The Ducks core is aging, and their prospect pool is very weak. They go best player available at this selection, and it really couldn’t be better for Anaheim. His size isn’t the only thing that is enticing.

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Dach had 25 goals and 48 assists (73 points) in 62 games played with Saskatoon, as well as five goals and three assists (eight points) in 10 postseason games played. He did not play any international games this past season with Canada, which is why he “dropped” to ninth (he ranges anywhere from third to 13th in this class) but he is still an intriguing prospect.

The knock on Dach is three things: 1) His acceleration is not good enough to translate to the NHL at this moment and he needs to really improve in that area to be a successful player at the next level. 2) He tends to keep his head down when skating with the puck, and despite his size, has gotten destroyed by hits on several occasions. 3) Finally, a lot of experts and fellow contributors on the site say that he does not have a very high ceiling (potential), but does have a very good skill set, or in other words, a high floor.

Next Year’s Role: Sticks with Saskatoon in the WHL all season, does not join NHL club at the end of Juniors.

 

10th Overall Pick: Detroit Red Wings (via Vancouver) selects Victor Soderstrom, Right-Handed Defenseman, Brynas IF, SHL

First off, right handed defenseman are a rare breed, and whenever you have a chance to grab one through the draft in the first round (especially at tenth overall), you take that guy.

In Detroit’s case, they had the sixth overall pick, but I would consider it a reach if they took Soderstrom there, because of all the talented forwards. You’re probably thinking, why would Detroit, a rebuilding team, trade back when they had talented forwards to choose from? Because they have young NHL centers in Dylan Larkin and Michael Rasmussen, as well as young NHL wingers in Anthony Mantha, Andreas Athanasiou, and Tyler Bertuzzi. Not to mention, forward prospects in Taro Hirose, Filip Zadina, and Joseph Veleno.

How about young NHL defenseman, that are right handed? Madison Bowey in the NHL, and Filip Hronek as a prospect. Most of their defensive prospects are left handed, including their top D prospects in Jared McIsaac and Dennis Cholowski. So Detroit does not necessarily need forwards, and they do need a right handed defenseman, who happens to be (arguably) the second best D-man in the draft class, while also off-loading a bad contract.

Soderstrom started the season with Brynas IF’s junior team in the U-20 division, where he played 14 games, with one goal and seven assists (eight points). When he made the jump to the SHL, which is Sweden’s version of the NHL, he produced just four goals and three assists (seven points) in 44 games, with a not-so-good -11 +/-. But, the fact that he was constantly relied on and kept at the highest level as an 18-year-old against men says something.

Playing for Sweden at the World Junior Championships, he recorded one assist in four games, which was also underwhelming production. But what makes him arguably the best defenseman available after Byram is taken, is his well-rounded skill set. He is a very good skater, and has an ability to get shots on net through traffic consistently. He is good transitionally, with the IQ to know when to join the rush and attack, and when to stick back.

Despite being 5’11, 182 pounds, he does a good job using his body to win battles in front of the net or in the corners. His floor, offensively, is really low at the moment, but he is playing against men and not kids in his age group, so that sets him back a step. But he has the skating and shooting ability to give him a base in which NHL coaches can build upon once he makes the jump.

As he bulks up, and gets stronger, the more battles he will win along the boards and in front of the net defensively, and playing against men actually boosts his ceiling for his defensive game. If he’s finding success this early with his size in the SHL (and he bulks up), he could be a very reliable defenseman in his own end.

Next Year’s Role: Likely stays in Sweden. I don’t see him coming to North America to play AHL hockey, or CHL hockey. It’s best he stays in Europe one more year against tough competition to build up on his defensive game.

 

All stats via Elite Prospects

Rankings inspired by other contributors on Puck77

Featured Image Photo Credit: Nikos Michals

Boston Bruins: Dominant In Game Three Against The St. Louis Blues

The Boston Bruins Left No Doubt As They Outplayed The St. Louis Blues In Game 3

 

Downtown St. Louis was rocking for the first Stanley Cup Final game in 49 years, with thousands upon thousands of people packed the different venues in the downtown area. There was a buzz in the air.

That excitement died after one period as the Boston Bruins took a commanding 3-0 leading heading into the first intermission. The game started out well enough for St. Louis as they came out strong, including Sammy Blais landing a massive hit on David Backes and Jake Debrusk took a penalty for kneeing almost right away. That sound you heard when the penalty was called was from Toronto, with Maple Leafs fans yelling FINALLY!!!.

The Bruins held strong on the penalty kill though, and finally got a shot through on Jordan Binnington with 13:57 left in the first from Torey Krug, who had an excellent game.

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Blues fans went crazy as Binnington made an incredible save off the stick of David Pastrnak. That was when Boston really started to dominate as David Perron took a penalty for interfering with Brandon Carlo and the Bruins power play went to to work. Krug got a shot off and Patrice Bergeron tipped it in for his ninth of the playoffs.

Boston continued to control the play and with 2:20 left in the first, Charlie Coyle continued his strong playoff as he flipped one through the legs of Binnington to put the Bruins up 2-0. A couple of minutes later, Sean Kuraly put one in right before the end of the period and it was 3-0 and the crowd was deflated. The Blues challenged it for offside, which proved to be the wrong choice and the goal stood and the Bruins went back on the power play just as the first period ended.

Second Period

With another power play the Bruins went to work and Pastrnak scored, making that four goals in the last five shots for the Bruins. Things starting getting chippy after that and after every whistle it seemed as if there was white sweater and blue sweater face to face, yapping at each other.

The Blues had their chance on the power play as Zdeno Chara went off for an unsportsmanlike conduct call. Tyler Bozak had a prime opportunity in front of the net and Tuukka Rask made a nice save pushing it aside.

The St. Louis crowd had something to cheer about though as Ivan Barbashev potted one off a nice feed from Zach Sanford and it was now 4-1. The Blues crowd tried to will their team to get back into it but Colton Parayko took a penalty for high sticking Brad Marchand, and Krug scored on a shot Binnington would like back and it was 5-1.

For the first time in his young National Hockey League career,  Binnington was pulled and replaced by Jake Allen. Play went back and forth for a little bit after that but the Blues were unable to beat Rask with anything and the Bruins took that 5-1 lead into the third period.

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Third Period

If you thought things were getting chippy before, Perron took a roughing call against Rask in a play that was very unnecessary from the Blues forward, who had a very rough game. Connor Clifton, however, took a matching minor so the Bruins were unable to put their lethal power play back on the ice.

The Bruins penalty kill was able to kill off a penalty called on Carlo but were put right back on it with Chara getting sent to the box for roughing. Parayko gave Blues fans a ray of hope when he was able to put one in off a Bruin glove and it flipped over Rask cutting the lead to 5-2.

DeBrusk then flipped one over the glass and got sent to the box for a Delay of Game penalty and many were wondering if the Blues were really going to be able to make this a game again. It wasn’t meant to be though as the Boston penalty kill was outstanding once again.

Things seem to stay under control for a little while and the Blues pulled Allen for an extra attacker, trying to get back into the game. St. Louis was able to put a little pressure on Rask, but he was up to the task and Noel Acciari got the empty netter to extend the lead to 6-2. Alex Pietrangelo was called for slashing and the Bruins put an exclamation point on this dominant performance when Marcus Johansson scored the final goal of the game in a 7-2 final giving the Bruins a 2-1 lead in this best of seven series.

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Wrap Up

The only good news for Blues fans is that even though Boston dominated, it only counts for one game and if your a Bruin fan you have to beaming with confidence after one the biggest beat downs in recent memory in the Stanley Cup Final. Another effort like that on Monday and the Bruins will have a chance to end this next week at the TD Garden in Boston.

We have seen the Blues and Binnington bounce back after tough losses and they will need to do so again in a must win game at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis Monday evening.

The Bruins went 4-4 on the power play and it only took four shots, which is unacceptable from an NHL team, but also goes to show how great this Bruins team is. Rask wasn’t unbelievable in Game 3, but came up big when the Bruins need him too, stopping 27 of 29 shots. Binnington was pulled after only stopping 14 of 19 shots and Allen in relief duty stopped three of the four shots he faced.

Krug had a four-point night with a goal and three assists and after a quiet first couple of games, Bergeron came on strong with a goal and two assists.

Game 4 is set for Monday at 8:00 E.T. in what will be a must-win for the Blues, or Boston will take a commanding 3-1 lead.

 

All statistics were gained from NHL.com

Featured Image Photo Credit: Nikos Michals

 

 

Marner Is Bulletproof And Helps Deliver A Game 3 Victory For Toronto

Mitch Marner is bulletproof. He put his face on the line in the third period to ensure a Toronto Maple Leafs victory. Last night, the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Boston Bruins 3-2 in Game Three. After the game three win, the Maple Leafs now lead the series 2-1.

Let’s take a look at what happened.

First Period 

If fans were expecting the first period to be loaded with goals, they were disappointed. But, the first period was fun to watch. 

At the 17 minute mark, fans saw Mitch Marner show off his speed, vision and puck handling as he skated from zone to zone and then attempted to set up a goal by wrapping around Tuukka Rask

Three minutes later, Marner was back at it. This time around, Brad Marchand had the puck in the neutral zone in front of the Maple Leafs bench. Marner saw Marchand, skated towards him and then slammed him into the boards. Great physicality from Marner.

A minute later, Andreas Johnsson was trying to set up an offensive rush for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He skated from zone-to-zone and evaded David Pastrnak. But, he had a challenge getting past Brandon Carlo. Carlo stole the puck and crushed Johnsson’s strategy.

At the 8:00 minute mark, Marchand was aggressively trying to bring home a goal for the Bruins. Marchand accelerated through each zone and danced around traffic. Unfortunately for Marchand, once he got into the Leafs’ zone, he was unable to phase Frederik Andersen.

Second Period

In the beginning of the second period, the Maple Leafs had great presence in the Bruins’ zone. This time around, the Leafs were determined to get onto the scoreboard. Morgan Rielly fired a shot towards Rask from the Intact Insurance sign. Rielly’s shot wasn’t enough to fool Rask, but Trevor Moore grabbed the rebound and fired a shot past Rask to grab the 1-0 lead for Toronto.

The Toronto Maple Leafs didn’t have the lead for too too long. Roughly 1 minute later, the Bruins capitalized on a David Krejci shot. Jake DeBrusk set Krejci up perfectly and the Bruins had managed to tie the game at 1.

A minute and a half later, there was a scary moment as Rask was bulldozed by John Tavares. In the GIF below, you’ll notice that Tavares wasn’t intentionally looking to injure Rask. Charlie McAvoy accidentally pushed Tavares which caused Tavares to fall on Rask. Fortunately, Rask managed to stay in the game, but he did need some medical attention after falling to the ice. 

At the 9:53 mark, the Toronto Maple Leafs found themselves on the power play. While the power play hadn’t been effective as of late, they showed that they were back in business. Marner found Johnsson at centre ice. Marner passed the puck to Johnsson and Johnsson then spotted Auston Matthews in Rask’s blind-spot. Johnsson quickly delivered a pass to Matthews and then Matthews ripped the puck past Rask to capture a goal for the Leafs.

The Leafs’ power play wasn’t done. At the 2:52 mark, Johnsson delivered a power play goal and brought the Leafs to a 3-1 lead. John Tavares and Matthews were credited with assists.

Fans saw another goal in the dying seconds of the second period. This time around, it was the Boston Bruins finding pay-dirt. Jake Muzzin was sent to the box on a holding call, which led to a Bruins power play. Fortunately for Bruins’ fans, Charlie Coyle, who was quite impressive in game two, managed to strike again with a power play goal in game 3.

Third Period

The third period didn’t have any goals, but it was an electric and action packed period.

In the first minute of play, Charlie McAvoy fired a laser of a stretch pass to Brad Marchand. Marchand carried the puck into the Leafs’ zone, but wasn’t able to do much in the offensive zone due to good defensive presence from Nikita Zaitsev.

Throughout the third period, the Maple Leafs were a physical club. Below are three GIFs showing great physical plays from Ron Hainsey, Zach Hyman and Nikita Zaitsev.

In the dying seconds of game three, David Pastrnak had the puck and was determined to strike gold for the Bruins. But, Marner had other plans, he used his body to shut down two shots from Pastrnak to help seal the deal for the Leafs. 

My HERO:

Mitch Marner might not have scored a goal, but he was easily the best Maple Leafs player from an all-around perspective. Marner was creating chances, being physical and blocking shots. He was the most noticeable Leafs player on the ice last night and he truly wanted the game three win. Heck, he used his face to prevent a Pastrnak goal. You have to give the HERO award to Marner.

My VILLAIN:

My VILLAIN was the Bruins Top Line. The Bruins top line of Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak was almost invisible last night. Marchand was effective. He was creating scoring chances and showed off his speed/puck-handling, but that was it. Bergeron and Pastrnak were kept silent by the Maple Leafs defensive unit. The Bruins will need better play from their top line for game four.

Three Stars of the Game:

THIRD STAR: Charlie Coyle, 1 goal

SECOND STAR: Mitch Marner, 1 assist

FIRST STAR: Andreas Johnsson, 1 goal, 1 assist

stats from hockey-reference.com and NHL.com

featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals/Josh Tessler

Toronto Maple Leafs Likely Lose Kadri, Boston Bruins Come Back To Life

The Toronto Maple Leafs went into game two hungry and determined to bring the series back to Toronto up 2-0, but they failed.

The Boston Bruins had other plans. The Bruins proved to their fanbase that game one was a mistake and they aren’t going to quit. The big bad Bruins tallied four goals to secure a victory over the Maple Leafs.

First Period 

The Toronto Maple Leafs looked flat. Constantly throughout the first period of play, the Leafs found themselves in their own zone and failed consistently to rack up possession zone exits. Instead, fans witnessed timid defensemen like Ron Hainsey and Nikita Zaitsev fail to make smart decisions. In the below videos, you’ll see Hainsey complete a pass to no one in his defensive zone and you’ll see Zaitsev dump the puck without even trying to make a pass. 

On the other hand, the Boston Bruins were on fire. At the 15:22 mark, the Bruins were in Toronto’s zone. David Backes, who was scratched in game one, found himself behind Frederik Andersen with the puck. His teammate, Charlie Coyle planted himself right in front of Andersen. Backes delivered a swift pass to Coyle and Coyle put the puck past Andersen to grab a 1-0 lead.

Two minutes later, Coyle was back at it again. While he wasn’t able to capitalize for a second goal, he was truly effective at getting the puck from zone to zone. In the GIF below, you’ll see Coyle evade Morgan Rielly of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He shows off beautiful speed and puck handling in an attempt to create another scoring chance for the Bruins. 

Near the tail end of the first period, the Bruins were able to add to their lead. David Pastrnak collected a stretch pass and entered into the Maple Leafs zone. He skated with the puck up towards Andersen. When Pastrnak got to the hash marks, he delivered a behind the back pass to his teammate, Brad Marchand. Marchand collected the puck and fired a wrist shot behind Andersen for a 2-0 Boston lead. 

Second Period

The second period began with a bang. Bruins defenseman, Torey Krug skated into the Maple Leafs zone and found himself with the puck. Krug wasn’t aware that Jake Muzzin was hustling towards him. Muzzin made contact with Krug and knocked him down. It took Krug a minute or two to make it back to the bench and he required help from the Bruins’ medical staff.

Later on in the second period, William Nylander was in the defensive zone as he was looking to start a rush. He was behind Andersen and as soon as he began to move, he lost control of the puck. Bruins winger, Danton Heinen was able to grab the puck and quietly threw the puck in the back of the net. Unfortunately for Leafs fans, Andersen wasn’t focused on Heinen, as he predicted that Nylander was going to successfully create an offensive rush.

Towards the tail end of the period, Nazem Kadri was sent to the box for a two-minute hooking penalty. Once the penalty was over, he flew out of the box and charged into the offensive zone. After Kadri was able to steal the puck from David Krejci, Jake DeBrusk ran right into him. It was a knee-on-knee hit, but fortunately both Kadri and DeBrusk were all right after the collision. 

Third Period

In the third period, the Toronto Maple Leafs were hungry to get back into the game. The most effective Maple Leafs player in the third was Frederik Andersen. He made some great saves against Marchand and Krejci. Andersen truly gave the Maple Leafs a chance to win tonight, but you need more than goaltending to win a hockey game. In the two GIFs below, you’ll see Andersen make two outstanding glove saves.

At the 9:19 mark in the third period, the Maple Leafs were finally able to get onto the score sheet. William Nylander skated towards the blue-line with the puck. He found Travis Dermott at the point and passed the puck to Dermott. Dermott delivered a one-timer towards Tuukka Rask, but Dermott needed some help to get the puck behind Rask. That’s when Kadri stuck out his stick and deflected the puck in.

Unfortunately for Leafs fans, the excitement ended there. At the 6:04 mark in the third period, trouble brewed at TD Garden. In the GIF below, you’ll see an altercation between Jake DeBrusk and Patrick Marleau in Boston’s zone. Kadri took offense to the situation and decided to lay-out DeBrusk. Kadri rushed to the boards and delivered a check to the head of DeBrusk. His decision almost led to a fight with Zdeno Chara. But, it did lead to five minute major penalty and a game misconduct. After the game concluded, Leafs fans found out that the NHL’s Department of Player Safety had asked Kadri to meet with them to discuss the hit against DeBrusk.

During the Bruins’ five minute power-play, Patrice Bergeron struck gold. He parked himself next to Andersen and collected a rebound off of the Maple Leafs goaltender. Bergeron didn’t wait two seconds before trying his luck. Bergeron chose to go top shelf as Andersen was lying on the ice. The shot attempt paid off and the Bruins were able to add to their lead.

My HERO:

If I had to choose a hero for the game, I’d have to go with Marchand. He was instrumental in creating two goals. Marchand was able to grab the second goal of the game in the first period and his shot in the third period on the power-play led to Bergeron’s goal. Marchand’s shot on the power-play was stopped by Andersen, but due to the momentum of the shot, it was difficult for Andersen to cover up the puck. Instead, his shot created a rebound.

My VILLAIN:

If I had to pick a villain, I’d pick two. Jake DeBrusk and Nazem Kadri. Both, DeBrusk and Kadri pushed each other’s buttons. DeBrusk trucked Kadri in the second period and DeBrusk’s check on Marleau in the third led to Kadri’s illegal check to the head. 

While it doesn’t appear that DeBrusk will be suspended (unlike Kadri), his shenanigans paved the way for Kadri’s physical display.

Three Stars of the Game:

THIRD STAR: Travis Dermott, 1 assist, 15:49 TOI

SECOND STAR: Charlie Coyle, 1 goal, 15:16 TOI

FIRST STAR: Brad Marchand, 1 goal, 1 assist, 20:44 TOI

Game Three:

The series will continue on Monday night in Toronto. The Bruins and Leafs will face-off at 7:00 pm EST/4:00 pm PST on NBCSN and CBC. 

The Toronto Maple Leafs will likely be without Nazem Kadri, so you should expect Mike Babcock to do some line-shuffling. Babcock might opt to move Nylander to third line and have him centre the third line. In his place, the Leafs could place Andreas Johnsson and Kasperi Kapanen on Auston Matthews‘ line.

For the Boston Bruins, they might be without Torey Krug. Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy might be able to plug John Moore in his place. Yesterday morning, he participated in practice, but was wearing a non-contact jersey. If Moore still isn’t healthy enough, they might have to call a defenseman up from Providence.

stats from hockey-reference.com and NHL.com

featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals/Josh Tessler

Game 1 Toronto-Boston: Maple Leafs Draw First Blood

The Toronto Maple Leafs Shock The Bruins In Boston With Gritty, Physical Effort. 

The Toronto Maple Leafs, led by Mitch Marner with two goals – one on a short-handed penalty shot – upset the Boston Bruins in Game 1 of their first-round match-up with a 4-1 victory in Boston on Thursday night. 

It sounds a little nonsensical to say a team that amassed 100 points in the National Hockey League regular season as the Maple Leafs did would be considered an underdog and upset anyone. But given the well-known history between the two clubs, and the upper hand the Bruins have had over the Maple Leafs in games that matter, the solid 60-minute effort Toronto put together last night was indeed eye-opening. 

First Period

Patrice Bergeron opened the scoring for the Bruins on the power play midway through the first period on a William Nylander high-sticking penalty. Outside of that, the Maple Leafs played a solid road period and limited the Bruins to just eight shots on net through the opening 20 minutes. Marner replied with his first of two on the night with rebound shot on a sprawling Tuukka Rask to tie the game at one with just over three minutes to go. It was one of 10 shots for Toronto in the period, with Rask making a couple of big saves from point-blank range to keep the Bruins in it. 

Second Period

It was during the second period that Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen showed that his confidence may slowly be returning after a lacklustre second-half to the season after being considered a Vezina Trophy candidate before the All-Star break. 

Marner broke free on a breakaway while killing off a Kasperi Kapanen high-sticking penalty before being hauled down from behind. On the ensuing penalty shot, Marner made no mistake as he forced Rask deep into his crease before deking Rask on the glove-side for a 2-1 Maple Leafs lead. While the play of Rask was not the issue for the Bruins in their loss last night, he did play the penalty shot poorly. 

The Maple Leafs third-line of Nylander, Nazem Kadri and Patrick Marleau dominated for the entire game, and they were rewarded for their efforts as Nylander scored on a breakaway after a beautiful neutral zone pass by Kadri to put Toronto up 3-1. The goal seemed to take the wind out of the Bruins sails, as it came with just 1:35 remaining in the second period. 

The Bruins peppered Andersen with 21 shots in the middle frame, but Andersen turned aside every one of them, allowing the nervous Maple Leafs to slowly find their legs as the period went on. 

Third Period

The Bruins came out flat to start the third period, somewhat surprising considering they have been known for late game comebacks numerous times this season. With just over six minutes remaining in the period, the Maple Leafs were out shooting the Bruins 8-4. 

It was the first time in weeks that the Maple Leafs top-six defencemen were healthy and playing together in the same game, as they were efficient and timely in clearing the zone and limiting any offensive chances for the Bruins. Boston coach Bruce Cassidy pulled Rask with just over 2:30 remaining in the period, but the Bruins were never able to mount any serious pressure. Toronto center John Tavares forced a turnover in the neutral zone before sending the puck down into the open net to seal the deal for the Maple Leafs. Final shots on goal for the game were 38-33 in favour of the Bruins. 

Game Hero

Even though Marner scored two big goals, it was the play of Andersen that was vital to the Maple Leafs winning this game and stealing home-ice advantage in the series. When he wasn’t corralling rebounds, he was sound and confident in turning aside shots and helping keep the crowd out of the game. 

Game Villian

Zdeno Chara did not have a good game for the Bruins. Often looking slow and ineffective, Chara only recorded two hits on the night. His physical style has been essential to Boston’s playoff success in the past, and it would be no surprise to see him be a more dominant force in the next game Saturday night in Boston. 

Three Stars Of The Game

First Star: Frederick Andersen. 37 saves

Second Star: Mitch Marner. 2 goals, 5 shots on goal, short-handed, game-winning goal on a penalty shot

Third Star: John Tavares. 1 goal and 1 assist, 6 shots on goal, won 16 of 26 faceoffs. 

Game Notes

The Maple Leafs were solid from top to bottom Thursday night. Everyone was on board with coach Mike Babcock’s game plan and they limited the effectiveness of the Bruins forwards…The inexperience of the Bruins bottom-six forwards showed as the game went on. Expect some changes to the Bruins line-up heading into game 2…In the weird stat of the night category, the Maple Leafs actually outhit the Bruins 32-30. It certainly wasn’t the typical Bruins game plan, as they need to play physical against smaller teams like the Maple Leafs to have any success. Trying to play an end-to-end game with Toronto could prove disastrous for Boston…Bruins defenceman Charlie McAvoy has really come of age. After only playing 54 games this season due to various injuries, he showed everyone he is healthy Thursday and logged an impressive 24:32 in ice time. He is certainly a special talent and his ever-improving play will be crucial to any success Boston has in this series and potentially beyond…Maple Leafs defenceman Travis Dermott could play a similar role to McAvoy’s for Toronto as the series grinds on. While only logging 12:33 in icetime Thursday, he is certainly noticeable on the ice, with an active stick and proving to be competent in clearing the zone…Charlie Coyle and Noel Acciari combined for 13 of Boston’s 30 hits on the night. The Bruins will need more of this from many others to get past the Maple Leafs in this series. 

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Stats provided by TheScore

Featured Image Photo Credit: Nikos Michals