Who Will Win the Stanley Cup?
Providence College Investigates: NHL
Justin Bishop ’24
Las Vegas Knights
The Las Vegas Golden Knights are the second most recent team to be added to the National Hockey League. The organization itself is four years old, founded in June of 2016. In their first season, 2017-2018, the team reached the Stanley Cup Final, which is a feat that no expansion team had ever done, but they ended up losing to the Washington Capitals in five games.
The Golden Knights have been dominant ever since their first season and show no signs of stopping. They have reached the playoffs every year, and finished each season in third place or above in their division. With no star piece set to leave in the most recent expansion draft, the Golden Knights look to bounce back after losing in the Conference Finals to the Montreal Canadiens this past season.
The loss of Vezina Trophy winner (Best Goaltender) Marc-Andre Fleury via trade to the Chicago Blackhawks is a huge one for the team, but they have a solid replacement with Robin Lehner. Lehner was a solid backup last year, posting a record of 13-4-2 with a 2.29 Goals Against Average (GAA) and a 0.913 Save Percentage (SV%) in 19 appearances.
The top 10 point scorers from last season are returning, and in addition, the 2017 second overall pick, Nolan Patrick, was just signed to a two-year contract. Keeping the players that produce the most, like forward Mark Stone, forward Reilly Smith, forward Jonathan Marchessault, and defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, and adding depth with Patrick will help the team in the long run during the playoffs. Chandler Stephenson is currently leading the Golden Knights in points with nine through eight games and was a key part of the Knights’ third line last season and specifically during the playoffs. Before the season started, many hockey news outlets had Vegas power ranked in the top three in the league, behind the two-time defending champions Tampa Bay Lightning and the Colorado Avalanche.
Overall, Vegas has a stacked lineup and there is not a spot on their team in which they have a disadvantage. The Golden Knights’ first line can outperform any other team’s first line and their second line can play with any other team’s first line as well. The only question is if Lehner is ready to be the number-one goalie. So far this season, Vegas has underperformed greatly, posting a weak 4-4-0 record eight games into the season. It is better to start out slow and finish strong than to start strong and finish slow. The Golden Knights are currently riding a three-game win streak into a matchup against another underperforming team in the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday, Nov. 2. Las Vegas will continue to pick up momentum as the season progresses and will be ready to claim the franchise’s first ever Stanley Cup come June 2022.
Luke Sweeney ’24
With the first month of the NHL season wrapping up, we are getting an idea of which teams will be able to separate themselves from the pack and make a run at the cup later next year.
Much like last year’s NHL season, the Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes have proven to be dominating forces in the east, as Carolina remains the final undefeated team in the league. The Hurricanes received criticism recently for replacing their previous goaltending tandem with Freddie Anderson from the Toronto Maple Leafs. Surprising to many, this trade has worked out seamlessly and given the Hurricanes a tremendous advantage between the posts.
The Florida Panthers were also undefeated until last Saturday, when they suffered a shootout loss to the Boston Bruins, another team that has looked extremely sharp in the first few weeks of the season.
In recent news, the Panther’s future success has been brought into question because of their head coach being forced to step down. Coach Joel Quenneville was forced to walk away from the team after news broke of the Chicago Blackhawks sexual abuse scandal. Clearly the team has not let its coaching staff’s issues affect their on-ice play, as they are among the best two teams in the league and continue to perform at an elite level.
Another team that has stood out among experts so far this season is the Colorado Avalanche. This past week the team went 2-1, sitting at 5-3 for the month of October. Nathan MacKinnon has dished out eight assists while only playing in six games.
The Florida Panthers, Carolina Hurricanes, and Colorado Avalanche are my picks for the league’s top teams after the first month of play. The Avalanche have the biggest potential to win the Stanley Cup this season. They have the talent and longevity to make a good playoff push after a long regular season that most teams in the NHL lack.
The Avalanche have always been one of the best teams in the league but lacked real playoff experience until the last few years. With a combination of playoff experience and a new stud goalie in Darcey Kuemper, the Avalanche finally have all of the tools that the team needs to hoist the cup.
What Sport has the Best Playoffs?
Providence College Investigates
Will Murphy ’23
The playoffs are one of the most exciting aspects of sports, but one league stands out with the most exciting playoffs: NCAA Men’s Basketball.
There is so much to love about the NCAA Men’s basketball tournament, appropriately dubbed “March Madness.” Whether one enjoys Cinderella stories, heroic individual performances, or powerhouses squaring off, there is something for everybody.
Take the University of Baltimore County Maryland, for example, ranked as the 166th best team in the country entering the tournament in 2018, after winning their conference tournament to secure a bid. They were able to knock off the one seed, the University of Virginia, who was ranked as the No. 2 overall team in the country heading into the tournament. They were the first 16 seed in the history of the tournament to defeat a one seed, instantly becoming the Cinderella story of the year.
Some Cinderella stories continue up until the final weekend of the tournament, as was the case with Butler University in 2011. Butler was able to notch upset after upset as an eight seed in the tournament to reach the final game, becoming only the second eight seed to reach the final game since the tournament began.
Another aspect of March Madness that makes it so exciting is the capacity for an individual player to carry their team to unlikely upsets and capture the heart of the country in the process. Jimmer Fredette was able to lead Brigham Young University to the Sweet Sixteen, with his electric shooting range.
Stephen Curry also led a small school from North Carolina, Davidson College, to the Elite Eight in 2008. Curry led the tournament in points per game averaging an incredible 32 points per game and drawing the adoration and support from fans across the nation.
Finally, the powerhouse matchups in the Elite Eight and Final Four add another layer to March Madness. In one of the most exciting championship games in the history of sports, Villanova University took on the University of North Carolina in 2016.
The final possessions of the game proved to be one of the most memorable moments in the sport of basketball. After Marcus Paige of UNC sank a nearly impossible double-clutched three-pointer to tie the game at 74, the game seemed destined for overtime. That was until Ryan Arcidiacono pitched the ball back to Kris Jenkins who nailed a buzzer-beater to win the National Championship, in one of the best finishes to a championship ever.
From beginning to end, March Madness provides the most thrilling moments out of any playoffs in sports.
Justin Bishop ’24
National Hockey League
Reaching the playoffs is the goal of every team in every sport, every season. To keep playing competitively after the regular season concludes is the only way to win a championship, and the hardest path to win a title out of any sport is, undoubtedly, hockey.
Few other sports have a playoffs composed of a taxing seven-game series that each team must go through in order to win their championship. In hockey, there are four rounds of this style of games, which means that a team must win 16 playoff games, no fewer, in order to lift the Stanley Cup. This is after playing a regular season of 82 games and having a top-three record out of a division of eight teams.
Basketball is the only other sport whose playoff season shares this concept, but hockey has proven to be a tougher sport to play than basketball. After each playoff series, one can only look at the injury report to see the unique circumstances that hockey players must fight through in order to win the cup.
Patrice Bergeron played games five, six, and seven of the 2013 Cup Final with a broken rib, torn rib cartilage, separated shoulder, and a pinhole puncture in his lung. Fans recognize this and appreciate the sacrifice of each player during their time playing.
The atmosphere at a regular-season hockey game is rivaled only by a college football game. If you are watching a playoff game, you know the stakes are high and players will put their whole bodies on the line in order to make a play for the advantage of their team.
Hockey fans recognize this at a different level than others and are the most passionate in sports. They increase the level of engagement in the playoffs by chanting louder, chanting more often, coordinating with each other specific chants targeted at particular players (most of the time it is the goaltender’s name).
The Nashville Predators have the most coordinated fans in the playoffs. The chant each fan participates in after a Predator goal is scored echoes throughout Bridgestone Arena, giving everyone chills down their spines. There are plenty of YouTube videos that showcase this specific chant among Predators fans.
Attending a hockey playoff game is an experience that cannot be described and can only be felt by going to one yourself. The energy, passion, and grit required by both a team in their fan base to lift the Stanley Cup makes it the greatest playoffs in all of sports.
Lake Tahoe: Hockey in the Great Outdoors
NHL Heads West For Outdoor Games
By Ryan Carius ’21
On Feb. 20, the NHL returned to its roots: hockey on an outdoor stage. That stage was Lake Tahoe, the United States’ largest alpine lake, in close proximity to the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The event was a two-day matchup featuring two top opponents in the MassMutual East Division and two cup contenders in the Honda West Division.
The first game of the two matches, on Bridgestone NHL Outdoors Saturday, occurred on Feb. 20 and featured the Las Vegas Golden Knights and the Colorado Avalanche. The Vegas Golden Knights started the season red hot and continued to maintain a top spot in the West Division leading up to puck-drop, but faced a very talented Avalanche team that was only a few games behind the Golden Knights for first place.
The anticipation for this game ensured an exciting first period filled with breathtaking views. Upon completion of the first period, though, the NHL called for a delay to protect players and referees from the hazardous condition of the ice, as the heat made it difficult to maintain a smooth surface. Several holes appeared throughout the rink, causing multiple players to trip and fall.
The NHL decided to delay the game until midnight, giving the players about an eight-hour break between the first and second periods. Once the game restarted, the teams arguably played in the greatest outdoor setting and on ideal conditions. The true masterpiece of a setting was a dream for hockey players and fans alike. Ultimately, the Avalanche were victorious, but it was a close game that showcased the talent of both teams and some of the most highly skilled players in the NHL.
The next matchup, on Honda NHL Outdoors Sunday, was also pushed back to a later time in the day to ensure that the NHL could repair the ice and avoid the conditions experienced the previous day. The Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers both wore their retro jerseys to honor this distinct opportunity. David Pastrnak started off red-hot, scoring within the first minute, demonstrating why the Boston Bruins offense is a force to be reckoned with.
Even against a formidable Flyer defense and a young star goaltender in Carter Hart, the Bruins offense was too much to handle. As the game carried on, Philadelphia seemed to unravel and the Bruins were able to net an additional six goals, dominating the Flyers 7-3. Although this second game was not as close as the previous matchup, the conditions of the ice were at least not problematic.
Over the previous years, the NHL has been able to push the limits of where ice hockey can be played. This year, the NHL certainly gave the fans an experience like no other. Although this game was unfortunately not able to allow fan attendance, some spectators were lucky enough to watch from Lake Tahoe on their own boats. Even so, the aesthetic between the ice, Lake Tahoe, and the Sierra Nevada background created an unconventional yet amazing viewing experience for the fans watching from their couches at home.
Despite the delays, the two games were successful, and the NHL can certainly learn from the weather conditions of this experiment with outdoor hockey. One can be optimistic that once hockey returns to normal, the NHL will increase the number of outdoor games at various locations. These Lake Tahoe games displayed that the NHL has evolved past just one annual outdoor game, the Winter Classic, to a league featuring multiple matchups at breathtaking locations.
Editor’s Corner: Crashing Through Gender Barriers
By Meaghan Cahill ’20
Olympic gold medalist and former Providence College Women’s Hockey Team member Cammi Granato ’93 has been hired by the National Hockey League expansion team based in Seattle as the first female pro scout.
Team general manager Ron Francis said, “I know she’s a female pro scout for us, but her resume is why she got the job—not because she’s female.”
However, there is a lot of importance in the fact that Granato is a female.
As one of the handful of women working in the NHL, Granato’s new position signifies that the NHL is beginning to catch up to current times and solve the gender inequality that has had a daunting hold over professional sports for many years. The only difference between the NHL and other leagues is that the MLB, NBA, and NFL have already made attempts to close the gap between the male-to-female workers ratio.
As of 2018, the MLB has over 100 women working in baseball operations (front office and on-field jobs) and the NBA and NFL have hired woman to take on full-time coaching roles. And while it must be noted that no women has been hired as a full-time general manager or head coach, at least there has been acknowledgement from these three leagues that women are capable of working within both the game and with the athletes.
MLB chief diversity officer Renee Tirado said on the issue, “There’s no sugar-coating this. There’s a lot to do.”
The acknowledgement towards the lack of female presence in professional sports has been lost amongst the NHL it seems, considering that, of the four major pro leagues, they are the only league who has been reluctant to hire women. Of the 31 NHL teams, there is not a single female coach, assistant coach, general manager, or assistant general manager. Even within hockey operations there is a sparse amount of women working.
With that being said, Granato’s hiring might be an indication that the NHL is finally beginning to realize that they are very far behind not only the MLB, NFL, and NBA, but also society as a whole. In a league where many coaches, GMs, and AGMs are former professional players themselves, Granato’s hiring is opening doors to a vast amount of people—male and female alike—to find jobs in the NHL. Especially for women, Granato’s hiring is proof that outsiders of the NHL can know the game and do beneficial work within it.
On her new position, the first female Hockey Hall of Fame and United States Hockey Hall of Fame inductee said, “I know the game and I’m confident in that. I’ve been around the game since I could walk. It’s really cool to be able to do it as a job and I’m looking forward to contributing my opinion.”
Granato’s words and Francis’s comments on her extensive resume being the reason that she got the job demonstrates a solution to what has been the main argument for not hiring women to work for the NHL: that they do not know the game.
Gender issues aside, until recently it has been extremely difficult for non-NHL experienced players to break into the league. Even AHL coaches struggle to get a promotion. This is all changing. As of 2018, 14 of the 62 head coaches have never played in the NHL; the same goes for 13 of the 62 general managers.
Sports writer Lauren Kelly writes, “If there is a time for women to break into this area of the industry, it is now.”
Because, as with any sport, one does not need to play the game to know the game.
Former Friars Ready to Go Pro
Six Players Sign Entry-Level Contracts
By Cam Smith ’21
Sports Assistant Editor
The success of the Providence College hockey programs continued over the offseason as six former Friars signed professional hockey deals. Four of these came from former men’s squad members, as Josh Wilkins, Brandon Duhaime, Kasper Björkqvist, and Jacob Bryson who secured entry-level deals with National Hockey League clubs.
Two contracts went to former women’s team players Christina Putigna and Cassidy MacPherson; both reached terms to join teams in the National Women’s Hockey League.
Wilkins will make his way down to Tennessee, joining the Nashville Predators’ program on a two-year, entry-level contract. The silky-smooth forward is coming off an absolutely dominant year for the Friars, posting the best offensive season by a PC skater in over 15 seasons. Wilkins put up 46 points last season, good enough for ninth in the entire country, on 20 goals and 26 assists. He also owned the nation’s longest point streak last season, putting together a stretch of 13 straight games.
Duhaime agreed to his two-year, entry-level contract with the Minnesota Wild. The crafty forward joins a Minnesota program that selected him with the 106th pick of the 2016 NHL Draft. Duhaime had a strong final season in Friartown, tallying a career-high 34 points with 11 goals and 23 assists. As a result, he was named to the Team Hockey East All-Star Third team. He then proceeded to play a pivotal role in the Friars’ postseason run, tallying five points in PC’s three tournament games.
The Pittsburgh Penguins will see Björkqvist join the organization, as he too agreed to a two-year, entry level deal. The forward finished his illustrious PC career with 36 total goals and 26 assists. Pittsburgh assistant general manager Bill Guerin had high praise when asked about the signee, saying, “Kasper was able to produce in big games throughout his college career… playing for an outstanding program in Providence allowed him to go far in the NCAA Tournament each season, so he received a lot of great experience.”
The 99th pick of the 2017 NHL Draft, Bryson signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Buffalo Sabres. The sure-footed defenseman amassed an astonishing 73 points over his career at PC, recording 11 goals and 62 assists. In his final year with the Friars, Bryson dished out 24 assists on his way to Second Team Hockey East All-Star honors.
His dominance on the ice also translated over to the classroom, as the defenseman was a Chi Alpha Sigma inductee, an honor given to student-athletes who maintain at least a 3.40 grade point average though their first five semesters.
Putigna will be staying in New England, as she agreed to a contract with the Boston Pride. The Pride will be picking up a prolific scorer in Putigna, the star forward accumulated a whopping 110 points in her collegiate career. As a senior assistant captain last season, Putigna registered 15 goals and 15 assists while leading the Friars to the Hockey East semi-finals.
“It’s exciting and humbling to have this opportunity to sign with the Pride,” said Putigna. “It means a lot to me to get the chance to remain in New England and pursue my hockey career.”
The final Friar to sign, MacPherson, signed her deal with the Buffalo Beauts. The forward recorded 78 points in her college career, netting 25 goals and 53 assists.
Beauts head coach Pete Perram lauded MacPherson’s skill with the puck, saying “[MacPherson] is a smooth and speedy skater with exceptional hands.”
MacPherson expressed her excitement with her signing, saying, “It has been a dream of mine to play in the NWHL, and I’m looking forward to a great season ahead in Buffalo.”
Saying Goodbye to Friartown
Hockey and Basketball Players Sign Pro-Contracts
By Meaghan Cahill ’20
There will be noticeable absences on the rosters of both the men’s basketball and hockey teams next year. Asides from the six graduating seniors on the hockey team and two seniors on the basketball team, hockey players Josh Wilkins ’20, Brandon Duhaime ’20, Jacob Bryson ’20, and Jay O’Brien ’22 alongside basketball player Alpha Diallo ’20 have all decided to pursue a professional career in their respective sports.
Bryson was the first player to announce his decision to cut ties with his college eligibility when, on April 15 he signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Buffalo Sabres. Having completed three full seasons with the Friars, the tri-captain of the hockey team recently earned Second Team Hockey East All-Star honors after a successful junior season that consisted of four goals and 24 assists (28 points total) in 42 games.
A 2017 fourth round draft pick (99th overall), Bryson has completed 121 games total with the Friars and notched 73 points during that time. He also was a two-time recipient of Hockey East’s Len Ceglarski Sportsmanship Award.
In place of completing both his junior and senior years at Providence College, Bryson will compete at an amateur tryout with AHL Rochester before his contract kicks in at the start of the 2019-2020 season.
Duhaime, like Bryson, also finalized an entry-level contract that will conclude his college eligibility. The fourth round, 106th overall 2016 draft pick was selected by the Minnesota Wild and will be playing for their AHL team, the Iowa Wild, on an Amateur Tryout Agreement. He dressed in 117 games as a Friar and during the course of three years, he totaled 22 goals, 50 assists, and a plus-18 rating.
Along with the April 16 announcement that he would not be continuing his career as a Friar, Duhaime made sure to thank the entire PC community, especially his coaches and teammates, for an “incredible” three years saying, “The memories made at Providence College were some that I will never forget.”
The last Friar who has decided to pursue a professional career is Josh Wilkins ’20, who signed a two-year, entry-level contract with the Nashville Predators.
“Been a crazy few days but I’m excited to sign my first NHL contract,” he announced on social media. “Thank you Friars hockey for an incredible three years.”
Wilkins posted 46 points (20 goals and 26 assists) this past season; this is the best offensive season a Friar has had in over 15 seasons. He is not just the only 20-goal scorer since 2002-2003, but Wilkins is also the 54th hockey player to reach the 100-point milestone (he totaled 108 points over the course of three seasons).
And finally, rounding out the members of the hockey team who will not be returning next year is O’Brien. The Philadelphia Flyers prospect has decided to leave the College after what he described as a “tough” year in terms of injuries and playing style. Wanting to “play more games” and “have fun playing hockey again,” O’Brien commented that he will be looking to play in either the United States Hockey League, the Canadian major junior level, or the British Columbia Hockey League to “get back on track.”
It may be the end of their career as Friars for Bryson, Duhaime, Wilkins, and O’Brien, but for basketball player Diallo, coming back for his senior season will still be an option if things do not pan out the way that he wants in the 2019 NBA Draft.
Diallo announced on April 16 that he will submit an application to be an early entrant, which means that he will have the opportunity to withdraw his name by May 29 and come back to PC for his senior year.
In an official statement announcing his intentions, Diallo said, “I am excited to go through the workout process. I believe this process will help me grow as a player. I enjoy being at Providence College and playing for the Friars. The Friars have a strong group of players returning next season, and I believe the team could compete for a conference championship.”
Named to the Second Team All-Big East, Diallo put up 1,155 career points in 99 games with the College; he ranks 33rd all-time in scoring for the College.
Head Coach Ed Cooley commented on Diallo’s decision saying that “this process will enable him to gain knowledge and experience about the potential for his future in professional basketball.”
With the exception of O’Brien, all four players will be joining a group of very successful Friars in the big leagues. Most noticeably, for hockey, is former Friar Noel Acciari ’15, who is currently playing with the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Playoffs as a key part of their third line. A member of the 2015 National Championship Team, the style of play that Acciari developed at PC is what makes his NHL career so successful today.
According to Head Coach Nate Leaman, “[Acciari] takes the puck to the net hard, stays on the rebound and scores. That’s Friar hockey. That’s why Noelly’s out there.”
And while Acciari may be the most notable recent PC alum in the NHL, Bryson, Duhaime, and Wilkins can also be added to a list that contains some NHL greats such as Hal Gill, Fernando Pisani, and Chris Therien.
In Diallo’s case, should he chose to keep his name entered in the draft, he will be joining a long list of former Friar players who have gone pro, as well as current pro-player Kris Dunn, who graduated in 2016 and is now playing with the Chicago Bulls after being picked fifth overall in the 2016 NBA Draft. Dunn most notably scored a season-high 26 points—eight of which were in overtime—and had 13 assists in a 126-120 overtime win against the Washington Wizards on March 20.
On the former basketball player, PC Athletic Director Bob Driscoll said, “He plays both ends of the court at an elite level all the time. Usually people are good at one or two things. He can rebound, he can pass.” All of which are skills that he was able to develop and grow during his four years at PC.
In addition to former Friars making it big in both the NHL and NBA, PC can also boast that their athletes from all sports are having great success in their professional careers. Tate Boyce ’19 just signed with the Boston Cannons after they drafted him in the first ever Premier Lacrosse League Collegiate Draft. Also, former cross-country and track runner, Emily Sisson ’14 just became the sixth-fastest American in history on a record eligible course after finishing the London Marathon with a time of 2:23:08.
PC has a legacy of producing top-notch athletes who go on to have great careers in their chosen sport and while Wilkins, Duhaime, Bryson, and Diallo are only just taking the first steps to further their professional career, the College most certainly wishes them the best as they set out to make a name for themselves outside of a college setting.
What People Can Learn From Patrice Bergeron’s Career
By Meaghan Cahill ’20
Over the past week, the entire hockey community has been celebrating Patrice Bergeron as he reached yet another milestone in his career—playing in 1,000 games. Former players, coaches, family members, and fans have expressed their gratitude for all that Bergeron has done on and off the ice in a series of interviews and videos shared by the Boston Bruins organization. Upon reflection, these videos have brought to mind not what Bergeron has given of himself, but what people, athletes and non-athletes alike, can take and learn from him over the course of his 16 year career.
1. In the face of adversity, never give up.
In October 2007, Bergeron’s career almost ended when he suffered a grade-three concussion after a hit from behind during a game against the Philadelphia Flyers—there is no grade-four. His injury was so severe that in the months following the hit, the question was not “will he be able to recover and return to the game?” but “will his life in general ever be the same?” There was serious doubt that he would ever be able to play hockey again. Yet, Bergeron put all those doubts to rest when just over a year later he was back and scoring goals. Three more serious (but not as major) concussions later, Bergeron proved time and time again that when people think his career is finished they need to think again.
2. “We” not “Me” because selfishness gets you nowhere.
According to Boston Bruins announcer Jack Edwards, the media joke surrounding Bergeron is to see what it takes for them to get him to once refer to himself in the first person. It never happens. Bergeron’s main focus has always been, and always will be, his teammates and their contributions. It is a true sign of his leadership perhaps, or just his character in general, but Bergeron’s unselfish attitude is one that is known throughout the league and it is the one thing that players commented most about him. And to Bergeron, even when asked about his latest accomplishment of being the fifth Boston Bruins player to make it to 1,000+ games, he stated, “My best memories are always what we’ve accomplished as a team, and the friends I have made. It’s honestly that’s what I’m most proud of.”
3. Have courage to persevere in any situation.
Game 6 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals against the Chicago Blackhawks ended with the Blackhawks as the victors, but Bergeron a legend. Against medical advisement, Bergeron played alongside his teammates with a plethora of injuries: torn rib cartilage, broken rib, separated shoulder, and a punctured lung. On his more recent injury that would take Bergeron out of the game for a month, teammate Brad Marchand commented how he would not succumb to his injury until the final buzzer went off, “Essentially, his whole body was broken, the whole upper half. And he still comes back to play. It’s incredible.” His toughness has become a staple on his résumé as a player and proves time and time again why he is considered the best of the best.
Providence College Investigates
The Toronto Maple Leafs Will Finish This NHL Season With the Best Record
By Thomas Zinzarella ’21
Fans in Toronto and Ontario have waited a long time to bring the cup back to Toronto. It has been 51 years but fans may not have to wait much longer.
The free agent signing of former New York Islander John Tavares is bringing a lot of cup fever to Toronto. Tavares, 28, inked a seven year $77 million contract to return to his home. Tavares, a native of nearby Mississauga, Ontario, looks to propel a Maple Leafs team that was bounced out of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs just one year ago.
Tavares joins a team that has a lot of young talent but has not won a playoff series since 2004. The Leafs have one of the most potent offenses in the Eastern Conference with three 30-goals scorers and Tavares is coming off a season where he scored 37 goals (T-12th in NHL) and had 47 assists. Tavares brings a lot of veteran experience to a team that has a young core of forwards.
Phenome Auston Matthews, 21, will look to stay on the ice this year after missing 20 games last year due to injuries. However, these injuries did not stop Matthews as he put up 21 goals and 34 assists in 62 games last seasons. Through seven games this season, he has 10 goals and 16 points, leading the league in both categories.
Besides Matthews, the Leafs have other offensive weapons with Patrick Marleau and Nazem Kadri. Kadri has put up back-to-back 32 goal seasons with the Maple Leafs.
On the other end of the ice, the Leafs have a good net minder in Frederik Anderson who is coming off a season in which he set the Maple Leafs record in wins. Anderson put up a 38-21-5 record with a 2.81 GAA. This success did not transfer over to the Stanley Cup Playoffs where Anderson went 3-3 with a 3.76 GAA. There is a lot of anticipation surrounding how much he will play this season. Last year Anderson played in 66 out of the 82-game schedule.
Another concern for this team is going to be the defense. The Leafs do not have a top tier level defense and will rely on the offense for most of the season. Moreover, how well the defense will perform this season remains a question, though defenceman Morgan Rielly has gotten off to a quick start. As of Oct. 17, he leads the NHL in assists with 10.
It may take a little bit of time for the Leafs to take off and look like themselves, as most new teams need some time to develop chemistry. The Leafs may start off slow, but Head Coach Mike Babcock will most likely play around with the lines. There is a ton of talent on offense and it should be exciting season north of the border in Toronto.
Providence College Investigates
The Tampa Bay Lightning Will Finish This NHL Season With the Best Record
By Scott Jarosz ’21
As of Oct. 4, the National Hockey League’s 82-game regular season is officially underway. The anticipation to see which team comes out on top in the 2018-19 season is high after an exciting 2018 Stanley Cup Finals that featured a team in its inaugural season for the first time since the 1967-68 season. Although it would have been historic for the Las Vegas Golden Knights to win the Stanley Cup in its first season, the Washington Capitals ultimately prevailed in the series 4-1.
These teams proved that they were among the best in the league this past season, but there is one team that has shown great promise in recent years and is likely to continue performing at a high level. That team is the Tampa Bay Lightning, who will have the best record in the NHL at the end of the 2018-19 season.
The Lightning’s 2017-18 season ended on a sour note after reaching the Eastern Conference Finals, but ultimately falling to the Capitals in Game 7 by a score of 4-0 on home ice. The Lightning finished with the best record in the 2017-18 NHL season, but the team is surely not content with the way the season came to an end. After the team’s unsatisfactory finish this past season, the Lightning looks to come back stronger than ever. All signs point to the Lightning having just as much success as last season, if not more. The team has depth in every position and has showed that it has a winning mentality.
The Lightning has all the components necessary to be the best team in the NHL. Starting at defense, Victor Hedman was awarded the James Norris Memorial Trophy last season for the best defenseman in the league. In addition, both Hedman and right-winger Nikita Kucherov were named to last season’s First Team All Stars. The Lightning has re-signed forward J.T. Miller, who was acquired at last year’s trade deadline from the New York Rangers. While with the Lightning, Miller played in 19 games, netting 10 goals and recording 18 points. Over the offseason, the Lightning also decided to sign defenseman Ryan McDonagh to a seven-year, $47 million contract extension.
With key pieces, such as captain and forward Steven Stamkos and goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy also remaining with the team, I predict the Tampa Bay Lightning will boast the NHL’s best record for the 2018-19 season.
Through four games this season, Tampa Bay is a-1-0 with a plus-six goal differential. Vasilevskiy has been the major key for the team’s success with a spectacular 1.67 goals against average.
Boston Bruins Start Off Season With Devastating Loss
By Sam Scanlon ’19
October is finally here and the quest for the Stanley Cup is officially underway.
The Boston Bruins finished last season with a 50-20-12 record, but the year was abruptly ended by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
This season, the Bruins have added several new faces to complement their veteran core and boost their young talent. Chris Wagner, a Walpole, Massachusetts native, and Joakim Nordstrom are the Bruins’ new acquisitions up front, who will fill the fourth line role left by Tim Schaller. Wagner is an undersized powerhouse who thrives in physical situations, and he will fit the Bruins’ style of play perfectly.
The Bruins have also picked up two new defensemen to fill the void left by long-time Bruin Adam McQuaid’s departure. The most crucial acquisition was John Moore. Moore’s ability to skate with the puck was especially attractive to the Bruins. His role will be similar to that of Torey Krug, who will be out for the first three weeks of the season due to another ankle injury. Moore will play an extended role in the absence of Krug and McQuaid.
Tuukka Rask has been the Bruins’ franchise goaltender for just about a decade. The 31-year-old is quickly approaching 500 games played, and with that in mind, the Bruins have brought in Jaroslav Halak from the New York Islanders. Halak will serve as a backup goalie to Rask who can be comfortably relied on when Rask takes time off.
With the core of the team still in tact after last year, the Bruins are still in a great position to make yet another deep postseason run. Boston is home to one of the NHL’s deadliest offensive lines in Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak, and Brad Marchand, who are capable to combining for well over 200 points this season. Veteran center David Krejci will begin the season playing in the middle of two sophomores, Danton Heinen and Jake DeBrusk. Along with Ryan Donato, Heinen and DeBrusk broke out in the second half of their rookie seasons and will look to continue production through the start of this season.
Charlie McAvoy is another Bruins young stud. His offensive prowess as a defenseman is a main reason why top forwards are able to produce. As he skates with the 6’9” captain Zdeno Chara, he is able to make plays for the Bruins offensively. He will play a large role on the power play during the first month while Krug rehabs his injury.
The Bruins looked to put all of their summer transactions and training to the test in their first game on Oct. 3 against the defending Stanley Cup Champions the Washington Capitals. It was also Opening Night for the Caps and the Cup holders were celebrating with their June victory one last time with their city by raising their very first Stanley Cup Champions banner. However, they were unable to take away from the celebratory night for the Caps—the momentum of the night was just not on their side.
Rask was put to the test right away and not even 25 seconds into the game, T.J. Oshie was able to snipe one past him. And from there, the flood gates opened wide for the Captials and while the Bruins did all that they could to stay afloat, it was just not enough.
They headed into the second period down 2-0 after Evgeny Kuznetsov snuck one in 1.23 minutes after Oshie. Not even five minutes into the second, Rask let three unanswered goals hit the back of the net within a span of just over three minutes. Alex Ovechkin, Nic Dowd, and Kuznetsov all rallied their team to a 5-0 lead not even halfway through the second period.
Head Coach Bruce Cassidy decided to take action then and yanked Rask from the net to give newcomer Halak a chance. However, not even he could stop the Caps, as John Carlson fired one right over his shoulder from the top of the face-off circle, making the score 6-0 Caps.
The third period consisted of a single goal scored by Lars Eller, giving the Caps a 7-0 win over Boston on Opening Night. However, despite the obvious defeat on the score board, Boston did not end the night totally defeated; they out hit the Caps 28-16 and dominated in the face-off circle 41-19.
Obviously the Bruins still have a lot of work to do in preparation for the season based off of their lack of defense and offense against the Caps and they will have to recover quickly for their Oct. 4 game against the Buffalo Sabres.