Brad Marchand fined $5,000 for slashing Hurricanes’ Kochetkov

Brad Marchand has been fined $5,000 by the NHL for his slash on Hurricanes goaltender Pyotor Kochetkov during the second period of Game 2 Wednesday night.

After Marchand’s shot was gloved but Kochetkov, the Hurricanes goalie tried to move out and play the puck forward but officials had already blown play dead. As Kochetkov was maneuvering the Bruins forward laid a light cross-check on his back, which did not go over well.

Kochetkov proceeded to slash Marchand across the legs as he was skating by. Not one to back down from some post-whistle action, Marchand first faked like he was going to slash back and then delivered one for real after Kochetkov pushed him.

Both players were assessed slashing minors. Carolina would go on to win the game 5-2 and take a 2-0 series lead.

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 First Round schedule, TV info]

Kochetkov for Game 3?

Marchand and Kochetkov could see each other again Friday night in Game 3. Antti Raanta, who left Game 2 with a lower-body injury, skated on Thursday but there’s no definitive answer as to when he might return.

“We put him on the ice today and that was a good sign, but he’s still not 100%,” said Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour, “so I’m not sure on where we’ll be [Friday]. Hopefully he’ll be okay to get in there, but I’m not sure at this point.”

Speaking of Hurricanes goalies with lower-body injuries, Frederik Andersen, who has not played since April 16, is still not skating and there is no timetable for a return.

“He’s definitely getting closer, but until he gets on the ice, there’s really no update,” Brind’Amour said. “We’re rehabbing the crap out of him, but it’s taking time.”

Marchand’s wasn’t the only fine from Game 2. Bruins defenseman Derek Forbort was also docked $5,000 for high-sticking Teuvo Teravainen.

CAROLINA HURRICANES v. BOSTON BRUINS (CAR leads 2-0)
Game 1: Hurricanes 5, Bruins 1
Game 2: Hurricanes 5, Bruins 2
Game 3: May 6, 7 p.m. ET – Hurricanes at Bruins (TNT, SN360, TVA Sports)
Game 4: May 8, 12:30 p.m. ET – Hurricanes at Bruins (ESPN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports)
*Game 5: May 10, TBD – Bruins at Hurricanes (TBD)
*Game 6: May 12, TBD – Hurricanes at Bruins (TBD)
*Game 7: May 14, TBD – Bruins at Hurricanes (TBD)

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

The Wraparound: Wild can’t afford to lose temper vs. Blues

The Wraparound is your daily look at the 2022 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. We’ll break down the NHL playoff games today with the all-important television information.

• Catch up on the second night of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs with the NHL Rink Wrap, from a small upset to a big blowout and triple overtime.

• The NHL handed out a set of fines, with Jared Spurgeon avoiding a suspension despite an ugly, dangerous cross-check to Pavel Buchnevich‘s lower body. Doesn’t seem like the best message for the league to send, unless they want players to think, “We can get away with a lot.”

• Maple Leafs forward Kyle Clifford didn’t get away with his boarding hit, however, as he received a one-game suspension. It’s more than fair to wonder if Clifford should’ve even been in Toronto’s Game 1 lineup in the first place.

Following a full set of Game 1 action, the Wild aren’t the only higher seed who lost home-ice advantage (in their case, falling to the Blues). Of the teams who lost their first playoff home games, the Wild might be most disturbed because of how they fell, though.

It’s something the Wild really need to be careful about as they host the Blues in Game 2 (9:30 p.m. ET – ESPN).

Beyond getting shut out 4-0 by the Blues, multiple Wild players lost their cool. Frankly, Jared Spurgeon and the Wild are lucky that he was merely fined for doing this to Pavel Buchnevich.

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 First Round schedule, TV info]

For some added context, Spurgeon is a very underrated defenseman, and part of his brilliance is his knack for staying out of the box. Expect to see Spurgeon on multiple Lady Byng ballots after being a go-to defenseman and only logging 10 penalty minutes.

Wild head coach Dean Evason thinks that Spurgeon losing his cool shows just how out-of-sorts the team was in that Game 1 loss to the Blues.

When a grumpy person sees an NFL player boldly celebrating a touchdown, they may huff “Act like you’ve been there before.” The Wild are lucky that they only suffered a single loss (and not the loss of a great defenseman) by acting instead like children throwing fits.

This is, after all, a Wild franchise that hasn’t won a playoff series since 2014-15. They’ve also only reached one Western Conference Final, when they fell meekly to the then-Mighty Ducks.

If the Wild want to put together that elusive deep playoff run, they need to score against the Blues in Game 2. They also need to keep their cool. That might not be the “Wild” way to get things done, but it’s necessary.

NHL PLAYOFF GAMES TODAY

Game 2: Bruins at Hurricanes (CAR leads 1-0), 7 p.m. ET – ESPN: For the most part, the Bruins’ decision to split Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak into two lines has been lucrative. Marchand and Bergeron boost Jake DeBrusk, while Erik Haula benefits from Pastrnak and Taylor Hall. But it’s worth noting that, while still pretty productive, Brad Marchand’s only scored one goal since April 4. Again, it’s not the end of the world, especially since he’s still producing. Yet, if the Bruins struggle to create offense against the Hurricanes again in Game 2, maybe it’s wise to turn back to “The Perfection Line?”

Game 2: Lightning at Maple Leafs (TOR leads 1-0), 7:30 p.m. ET – ESPN2: Basically, the Maple Leafs dominated the Lightning from start to finish in their first playoff skirmish. Of course, part of what makes the Maple Leafs so sad in such soap operatic ways is that they build up expectations, only to see those dreams shatter due to harsh realities. It’s tough to imagine the Lightning failing to push back a lot harder in Game 2, so we’ll see if the Maple Leafs are ready.

Game 2: Kings at Oilers (LAK leads 1-0), 10 p.m. ET – ESPN2: Certain playoff losses are unsettling because your opponent forced you to play their style of hockey, not your own. There’s a different form of discomfort when you have a lot of things go your way, and still lose. With four power-play opportunities apiece, a special-teams-heavy Game 1 favored the Oilers (2-for-4) more than the Kings (0-for-4). Edmonton also received serious contributions from Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. It just wasn’t enough, in part because of a miserable night for Mike Smith. People will quickly forget the progress Edmonton made under Jay Woodcroft if Los Angeles takes Game 2.

THURSDAY’S NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

Game 2: Penguins at Rangers (PIT leads 1-0), 7 p.m. ET – ESPN
Game 2: Capitals at Panthers (WSH leads 1-0), 7:30 p.m. ET – ESPN2
Game 2: Predators at Avalanche (COL leads 1-0), 9:30 p.m. ET – ESPN
Game 2: Stars at Flames (CGY leads 1-0), 10 p.m. ET – ESPN2

PHT’s 2022 Stanley Cup previews
Maple Leafs vs. Lightning

Hurricanes vs. Bruins
• Penguins vs. Rangers
• Panthers vs. Capitals
Blues vs. Wild
• Avalanche vs. Predators
Oilers vs. Kings
Flames vs. Stars

NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 schedule, TV info
First Round, Stanley Cup predictions
• NHL Draft Lottery set: Canadiens have best odds for top pick
Why your team will (and will not) win the Stanley Cup

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Why your team will (and will not) win the Stanley Cup

The 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs begin on Monday as 16 teams begin their quest to win the Stanley Cup.

As we have seen in recent years when an expansion Vegas team or a surprising Montreal team went on stunning Stanley Cup Final runs anything is possible at this time of year. A hot goalie (or a cold goalie) can change anything, while a team could get healthy and have everything click at the exact right time to make some unexpected noise.

Every team’s fanbase probably has some sort of reason for optimism and pessimism right now.

So we are going to take a look at why every playoff team in the NHL will (and will not) win the Stanley Cup this season.

Boston Bruins

Why they will win: The Bruins are one of, if not the best, defensive teams in the league and have some game-changing top-tier forwards in Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, and Taylor Hall that can change games.

Why they will not win: Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark have been very good this season, but are they good enough to take the team on a deep playoff run? Are they deep enough at forward to contend with the other top teams in the NHL?

Calgary Flames

Why they will win: Matthew Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau are the best top-line duo in the league this season, while they added some much needed scoring depth in Tyler Toffoli and Calle Jarnkrok. They also have an outstanding defensive structure, a great goalie, and are playing in a very winnable divisional bracket where they should be favorites in each of the first two rounds.

Why they will not win: While Toffoli and Jarnkrok have been strong additions, they are still not quite as deep at forward as, say, a team like Colorado or some of the top contenders in the Eastern Conference.

Carolina Hurricanes

Why they will win: Simply put, they have one of the most complete rosters in the NHL from top-to-bottom with few weaknesses as long as everybody is healthy. They are young, fast, skilled, and won the Jennings Trophy by allowing the fewest goals in the NHL this season.

Why they will not win: The health of their goalies late in the season, especially Frederik Andersen, is a definite concern. If Andersen is not healthy or has his play impacted in anyway that could be a game-changer.

Colorado Avalanche

Why they will win: They have superstars at forward, the best defense in the NHL, and a strong goalie in Darcy Kuemper that is not going to lose them many games. On paper it is probably the best team in the league.

Why they will not win: The Central Division bracket is definitely the tougher of the two in the Western Conference, and assuming they take care of business against Nashville are going to get a really tough second round matchup in either Minnesota or St. Louis. Their penalty kill (15th in the NHL) is also a potential weakness that could be exploited.

Dallas Stars

Why they will win: Strong top-end defenders and a dominant top line led by Jason Robertson that could carry them if it gets rolling. It would not be the first time they came into the playoffs with low expectations, got hot at the right time, and went on a run.

Why they will not win: Just not enough scoring depth beyond their top-four forwards. You need balanced scoring to win in the playoffs and the Stars really do not have that. That has played a big role in some of their inconsistency this season.

Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images

Edmonton Oilers

Why they will win: They have the two best offensive players in the world in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl and have looked like a completely different team since Jay Woodcroft replaced Dave Tippett behind the bench.

Why they will not win: Still do not trust their depth, defense, or goaltending. Mike Smith has been great down the stretch, but what if that is just a mirage and a hot streak instead of a meaningful long-term change?

Florida Panthers

Why they will win: Have you seen that offense? It is ridiculous. The best offense in 30 years and just absolutely loaded from top to bottom. Every line can score goals and the team as a whole can embarrass any opponent on any given night.

Why they will not win: The playoff style of play is designed to suck the fun out of teams like this, so what happens if the offense does not score at the same pace it did in the regular season? The elephant in the room is also the goalie situation. Sergei Bobrovsky has a .900 save percentage since February 1 and his playoff resume is brutal. Among the 32 goalies with at least 25 playoff appearances since the start of the 2010 playoffs, Bobrovsky’s .899 save percentage ranks 32nd out of that group. He was brutal in the playoffs a year ago. High scoring teams with suspect goaltending sometimes have a bad time in the playoffs.

Los Angeles Kings

Why they will win: They have some really good center depth with Anze Kopitar and Phillip Danault, and a lot of their underlying and defensive numbers are very, very strong. Right on par with some of the best teams in the league. This is a sneaky good team.

Why they will not win: Injuries on defense are a concern (no Drew Doughty) and the goaltending is not exactly great. Also just do not stack up with a lot of the contenders in terms of talent on paper.

Minnesota Wild

Why they will win: They have two dominant scoring lines and a very solid defense. After adding Marc-Andre Fleury they also have an outstanding goaltending duo with him and Cam Talbot that gives them options and security. They have been one of the best teams in the league from the start.

Why they will not win: They would have to beat St. Louis and (most likely) Colorado just to reach the Western Conference Final. That is an absolute gauntlet. And while Fleury and Talbot have been great together so far, they can also be a little volatile in a short series.

Nashville Predators

Why they will win: Roman Josi, Filip Forsberg, and Matt Duchene have had outstanding seasons, and if they can stay in it long enough to get Juuse Saros back they would have an upper-level goalie that can carry them.

Why they will not win: If Saros is not able to play against Colorado — or play at full health — that makes an already long-shot team even more of an underdog. If can not go winning a game might be a struggle.

New York Rangers

Why they will win: Igor Shesterkin should be the league MVP and has helped carry them all year, while they have elite players at forward (Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider) and defense (Adam Fox). They also made some fantastic trade deadline additions (Andrew Copp, Frank Vatrano) that really changed their season. Elite goaltending and impact players can take a team a long way.

Why they will not win: As good as the top part of the lineup is, their bottom six still leaves a lot to be desired. They really need Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafrenière to make an impact.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Why they will win: As long as they have Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel, Kris Letang, and Evgeni Malkin they have a shot. They are a top-five team in goals against this season and have a deeper forward lineup than they get credit for having.

Why they will not win: Goaltending is a big question, especially at the start with Tristan Jarry sidelined. How much do you trust Casey DeSmith to get them through a series (or even the first part of a series) against Igor Shesterkin? They have also not looked great for the past month, pretty much backing into the playoffs.

St. Louis Blues

Why they will win: They have transformed from a shutdown defensive team into one of the league’s best offensive juggernauts. Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou have broken out, Vladimir Tarasenko stayed and returned to being an elite player, Pavel Buchnevich turned out to be a steal, and they can score goals with anybody in the NHL as a team.

Why they will not win: Defense is a little bit of a question mark, as is goalie. Ville Husso has been significantly better than Jordan Binnington, but he has very little NHL track record. They also have to run that Central Division bracket that is not going to be easy.

Tampa Bay Lighting

Why they will win: They are the back-to-back champions and until somebody actually beats them you should never write them off. Incredible talent at forward, a future Hall of Famer (Victor Hedman) on defense, and the best goalie in the world as the last line of defense behind all of that.

Why they will not win: There is a reason only two teams have won three consecutive Stanley Cups in the post Original-Six era, and none over the past 40 years. It is difficult, almost impossible even, to have everything go right at the exact same time three years in a row. Tampa Bay (and especially Andrei Vasilevskiy) has played a lot of hockey the past three years and eventually that takes its toll. Also reason to question if their depth is as strong as it was a year ago.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Why they will win: You can make all of the playoff jokes you want (I do!), but this is a legitimately good team. An excellent team. An outstanding team. The offense is one of the best in the league, the defense is better than it gets credit for being, and they have done a really good job building some depth around their big money stars. They are capable of winning. Yes, we actually have to see them win a round, but the ability is there.

Why they will not win: Goaltending is a major question mark and potential problem. Jack Campbell has been all over the place this season and they really do not have a Plan B here if things go south for him. That can ruin a postseason really quickly.

Washington Capitals

Why they will win: When healthy this team still has a lot of talent that has won before. They have not been consistently healthy this season (Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie, and Anthony Mantha all missed half of the season) and they still comfortably made the playoffs with over 100 points. They are perfectly capable of beating Sergei Bobrovsky in the First Round and making some real noise.

Why they will not win: The goaltending situation might be one of the worst among any teams in the playoffs, while neither Ilya Samsonov or Vitek Vanecek has done anything to inspire confidence.

Hurricanes vs. Bruins: 3 things to know about First Round series

The 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs began on Monday, May 2. Today, we preview the series between the Carolina Hurricanes and Boston Bruins. 

Hurricanes vs. Bruins schedule

Game 1: May 2, 7 p.m. ET – Bruins at Hurricanes (ESPN, SN360, TVA Sports)
Game 2: May 4, 7 p.m. ET – Bruins at Hurricanes (ESPN, SN360, TVA Sports)
Game 3: May 6, 7 p.m. ET – Hurricanes at Bruins (TNT, SN360, TVA Sports)
Game 4: May 8, 12:30 p.m. ET – Hurricanes at Bruins (ESPN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports)
*Game 5: May 10, TBD – Bruins at Hurricanes (TBD)
*Game 6: May 12, TBD – Hurricanes at Bruins (TBD)
*Game 7: May 14, TBD – Bruins at Hurricanes (TBD)

1. Goaltending questions for both teams

It is not that either team has bad goalies, there are just some questions here.

For Carolina it is a matter of health. Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta combined to win the Jennings Trophy this season for allowing the fewest goals in the NHL and were everything the Hurricanes could have hoped for and move as a goalie duo this season. But they have both had some injury issues late in the season, while Andersen (the superior goalie this season) will not be ready for the start of the series and will not be the team’s Game 1 starter. His return is still to be determined.

In Boston, Tuukka’ Rask’s retirement means Bruins fans will have to find a new scapegoat this season if the team does not win.

The duo of Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark split the playing time 50-50 this season (minus four starts by Rask in the middle of the season) and gave the Bruins better than league average play at the position. But both are completely untested in the playoffs and it remains to be seen if they will be capable of backstopping the Bruins on a deep playoff run, or getting them through a tough matchup against a high powered Hurricanes offense.

2. Two elite defensive teams

While both teams have top-tier forwards (Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak, Taylor Hall for Boston; Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechnikov, Teuvo Teravainen for Carolina) and the aforementioned goalie questions, goals might still be difficult to come by in this series because these are two of the absolute best defensive teams in the NHL.

The Hurricanes allowed the fewest goals in the NHL while the Bruins were fourth best, and they finished first and second in the league in terms of allowing the fewest shot attempts per 60 minutes during 5-on-5 play.

The Bruins were especially dominant defensively this season, ranking among the top-five teams in goals against, shot attempts against, scoring chances against, and expected goals against. Given the continued excellence of Bergeron and Marchand, a strong coaching staff, and a defense led by one of the league’s best up-and-coming defenseman in Charlie McAvoy and it is not hard to see why they are so dominant defensively.

Both teams were also in the top-10 in the league on the penalty kill (Carolina was first; Boston ninth).

3. Hurricanes absolutely dominated regular season meetings

How much will that matter?

The Hurricanes and Bruins played three times during the regular season, and not only did the Hurricanes win all three games, they won them decisively by scores of 3-0, 7-1, and 6-0. That is an aggregate score of 16-1 in the three games, including 10-0 during 5-on-5 play.

The big difference in a couple of those games was goaltending. The 7-1 loss was one of Rask’s four starts (that did not go well), while Ullmark had a dreadful start in the last meeting between the two teams. In terms of 5-on-5 possession numbers the two teams were fairly even in the three games in terms of scoring chances and expected goals, but goaltending swung things in a significant way.

It is also worth pointing out that it has been nearly three months since the two teams played, with the third meeting happening back in early February. A lot has changed since then, especially for Boston which has gone 24-10-2 in the 36 games since then, while having also added another top-pairing defender in Hampus Lindholm.

Prediction: Hurricanes in seven games

We are too broken and hopeless to deserve a Maple Leafs-Panthers series

That was one of Marner’s two goals and four points. But this being the Leafs, and on the verge of a satisfying (and definitive, if you listened to their fans somewhere around 7:30 pm EDT) double over both the Lightning and Panthers, they couldn’t help but toss their fans back into the abyss from which they haven’t escaped for…50 years? Ever? It’s not the abyss that stares back at you, it’s some jamoke in a Darcy Tucker jersey.

The Panthers stormed back, and for the second time this week, canceled out a four-goal deficit. It’s the second time this week Bobrovsky has been pulled from a start and not gotten a loss. And one night after Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau-Elias Lindholm-Matthew Tkachuk stated their case for best line in hockey by punting the the Kings’ ass up and down LA Live!, the Panthers combo of Jonathan Huberdeau-Sasha Barkov-Whatever Idiot Just Happens To Spill Onto The Ice With Them did their bit. Huberdeau went for two goals and three assists while Barkov netted the OT winner and added three assists himself. Huberdeau became the first Panther to ever crack 100 points in a season, which pretty much tells you why the Panthers have been irrelevant from 1997 to the past couple years.

It was everything the Leafs have been and why they’ve driven their fans nuts the past few seasons and why those fans have driven everyone else nuts with their constant air raid siren of melancholy. Toronto really was on the cusp of something that felt real, as getting out of Florida with two straight wins would have been. They looked dynamic and their offense overwhelming. For just a second, most hockey fans could be forgiven for forgetting that these were the Leafs and they might just be able to firepower their way through all that hangs over them. Questionable goaltending and a defense that can go poof at the exact wrong time? The most fun answer is the only way out is through, which is what appeared to be what the Leafs were doing.

And then their goalies and defense fell apart. And they had no answer for the league’s best offense, though they had just enough left over to tie the game to get it to overtime. But they were outshot 22-5 for a stretch after taking that 5-1 lead. There’s still a feeling about the Leafs that once things start to slide downhill, they only have grease to apply to them and no brakes. Last night will do nothing to dispel that.

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But oh what fun. Sure, most fans want to see yet another chapter of the Bruins-Leafs allegory of assholicness. But that almost always turns into hockey at its worst as Brad Marchand takes his most demon spawn form and turns the entire city of Toronto into the Bullet Farm or something. It’s a tired tale and one we’ve seen before.

But Leafs-Cats could be hockey at its best. A fever dream of chances and goals and emotional swings that some people pay $5-10 bucks a tab for. Not only are these the two highest scoring teams in the league this year, they’re two of the three highest scoring teams in the past decade. The NHL needs this. Of course, every pundit from Kelowna to PEI has already prewritten his “You can’t win that way,” piece for such a series. Fuck, Ray Ferraro was doing it on the Leafs broadcast. Here’s a question: Who’s gonna stop either of these teams from doing so? The Lightning might be gassed, and the Bruins are one line. If the Rangers do so it’ll only be due to Igor Shesterkin finally taking on his final “Broadway Hydra” form. If there’s ever a year where a team or two can just go Smash TV all the way to the Final, it’s this one.

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And if you really need the angst flood that flows from another Leafs loss to the Bruins, just imagine their reaction to losing to a team from Florida, a location they’ve never accepted as being worthy of hockey. Especially if the Panthers go on to the Stanley Cup Final, a place no Leafs fan that is continent has ever seen Toronto get to. You’ll get your fix of T.O. meltdown, I promise.