Bruins rolling, rest of NHL making final push for playoffs Sabres agree with Dylan Cozens on 7-year, $49.7M extension Stanley Cup champion Avalanche steadily returning to health Kraken add some size, acquire Jaycob Megna from San Jose Islanders sign Bo Horvat to 8-year deal after trading for him
SUNRISE, Florida — Bruce Cassidy’s Vegas Golden Knights have lost eight of 10 games before the All-Star break after leading the Pacific Division midway through the NHL season.
They’re still safely in the Western Conference playoffs, but they can’t hold on.
“We’re still in a good position – that’s how we look at it,” Cassidy said. “Not many teams can go home in the last 30 games in this league and we are certainly not one of them.”
Cassidy’s old team, the Boston Bruins, probably could. They’re at the top of the NHL and running away with the Atlantic Division.
With 39 wins and 83 points in 51 games, Boston is close to breaking the record for the best regular season in NHL history. The Carolina Hurricanes, who beat Boston in seven games in the first round last year, are further up the standings with 76 points.
“There are no weak spots from top to bottom,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said.
The Bruins are in a class of their own, but the playoff races behind them in the East and West should be hot, with about 30 games until the Stanley Cup chase begins.
At halftime, the Hurricanes won a seven-game streak, causing some fear for the Bruins in the race for the President’s Trophy and home-ice advantage in the postseason. Winger Max Pacioretti a re-rupture of his right Achilles tendon five games before his return did not slow them down, and if their goalkeeping continues, Carolina has a good chance of reaching the Eastern Finals.
“This team is a special group of guys,” said Brind’Amour, who captained the Carolinas in the Cup in 2006 and is now in his fifth year as a coach. “We show it every night. It’s just very consistent and they take their job very seriously. They do it right.”
The New Jersey Devils, who finished second, compete for the first time since 2018. Losing the following season helped them win the first-place lottery for Jack Hughes, a two-time All-Star, who won them the early lead.
“Much better than being on the sidelines,” Hughes said. “We’re very excited because it’s going to be a very important hockey game and it’s going to be very competitive and we’re very excited to be where we are.”
They are followed by the New York Rangers, Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders. All three teams from New York were able to pass what was expected from the Rangers after reaching the Eastern Finals last year.
“I think last year’s series really taught us a few things and things that we could obviously build on for the rest of this year,” 2021 Norris Trophy-winning quarterback. Adam Fox said.
The Rangers lost to the Lightning in six games last spring as the two-time champion Tampa Bay reached the Stanley Cup Final for the third straight season before losing to the Colorado Avalanche.
The Lightning will almost certainly play the Toronto Maple Leafs, who haven’t won a playoff series since the NHL’s pay cap era began in 2005, in the first round and still pose a threat to the Bruins.
But Boston seceded despite starting the season without a top left winger. Brad Marchand and defender #1 Charlie McAvoy. Under new coach Jim Montgomery, the Bruins lost just 12 games.
“Just keep winning,” the All-Star right winger said. to David Pastr, which is tied for third in the league in scoring. “Every line and every guy goes and that obviously builds our confidence. Sometimes it’s funny how confidence in hockey can get you.”
The Islanders should gain more confidence with the acquisition of their 30th scorer. Bo Horvath from Vancouver but still need to catch up to get inside.
Defending champion Colorado moved up the league table, winning seven of eight before halftime, despite an injury-weary first half of the season. captain Gabriel Landeskog still hasn’t made his season debut since his knee surgery. It would be foolish to bet that Avs will come from the West again.
“It all depends on us: we decide our own destiny,” the center of the All-Star Game. Nathan McKinnon said. “We definitely need to keep playing the way we played before the break. Regardless of who was in the lineup, we played well, played hard, so it would definitely help us get healthy.”
They are still behind the Dallas Stars, Winnipeg Jets and Minnesota Wild in the Center, with the Nashville Predators hot on their heels. In fact, only the Stars and Jets are guaranteed a spot.
“Every point is worth it” – Stars top scorer. Jason Robertson said. “Each point will be a dogfight, so we have a fun 30 games ahead of us.”
Undisputed MVP Favorite Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers, who lost to the Colorado in the Finals in the West, should catch up a bit in the Pacific Division.
First place is taken by the Seattle Kraken, who are surprisingly close to making the playoffs in their second season but still have to fend off the Los Angeles Kings and Vegas Golden Knights.
Edmonton and the Battle of Alberta rivals the Calgary Flames have the talent not only to get in, but to run. McDavid leads the league with 41 goals and 92 points, 16 more than second scorer and teammate. Leon Draisaitland produces unlike anyone since Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux in the mid-1990s.
Now he’s looking to take the Oilers to the playoffs and beyond.
“It was not easy for our group. We kind of had to fight for everything we have,” McDavid said. “For some reason, we were always a second half team. Even since my first year, we have always been better in the second half, so we will definitely continue in the same spirit. That being said, we’re not going to hang our hats on it and expect it to take us to the playoffs. There’s a lot of work to be done.”
BUFFALO, NY — Buffalo Sabers reach agreement with forward Dylan Cozens with a seven-year extension for $49.7 million.
The team announced the contract. Cozens will credit $7.1 million from the salary cap for the 2029-30 season.
Cozens, who is 22, is the latest major player the Sabers have expanded in the past six months. Buffalo signs with All-Star forward Teige Thompson for $50 million for seven seasons in August and quarterback Matthias Samuelsson to a seven-year, $30 million deal in October.
Rasmus Dalin, the top pick in 2020, who is a Norris Trophy candidate and replaced Thompson at NHL All-Star Weekend, is expected to be the next big signing. He signed a contract until next season and could start talking about a renewal this summer.
Cozens, who was to become a restricted free agent, has already set career records with 17 goals, 26 assists and 43 points, with 30 games left in the season. A seventh pick in 2019, Cozens had 34 goals and 60 assists in 169 NHL regular season games, all for Buffalo.
Sabres led by Dahlin, Thompson, Cozens and the 2021 No. 1 pick. Owen Powerare fighting for the playoffs. The organization’s 11-year playoff drought, which began in 2011, is by far the longest in the league.
ENGLEWOOD, Colorado. If his coach was watching, it could be alarming: Colorado Avalanche guard Cale Makar catch the advantage and lose in the competition of the fastest skaters.
However, Jared Bednar was out of touch and had no idea what happened in the All-Star Weekend Skills Challenge. Only now Makar came out of his crash into the sides just fine.
These days, the Stanley Cup champions are definitely improving in terms of injuries. Defender Bowen Byram returns to the squad along with the striker Valery Nichushkin. Defender Josh Manson approaching a return. Same for the captain Gabriel Landeskogwho has not yet played this season. Forward Darren Helm is also progressing.
Despite all their bumps and bruises, the Avalanche made it to the All-Star Game with a playoff berth. To weather the injury storm, Colorado has relied on 39 different skaters this season, the most in a single season since the team moved to Denver in 1995.
“Anyone we can bring back right now is just huge,” said Makar, whose team kicks off a three-game road trip in Pittsburgh Tuesday night.
Bayram is returning after being out of action since early November with a lower body injury. He was an integral part of their Stanley Cup run a season ago when he led all rookies with nine assists in the playoffs. Bayram started this season quickly – two goals and three assists in 10 games – before injury.
“He looks great. He is buzzing there, ”said Makar about his comrade on the blue liner. “Hopefully it doesn’t take him too long to get back into play mode. But I think he’s a guy who can turn it on pretty quickly.”
Bayram missed part of the games last season due to concussion symptoms. This time, he was able to be with the team as he made his way back.
“I was just happy that it wasn’t my head,” Bayram said. “It was much easier to be out of the house when you still feel good and feel like yourself. … I’m just happy to start working again.”
Count on Bayram for as many minutes as you need.
“I am 100%, so there is no reason to relax,” Byram said. “I’m sure I’ll jump back.”
Manson will join the Avalanche on the trip so he can ride with the team. He has been out of action with a lower body injury since early December.
“I think it helps to get on the road, to be around the guys,” Bednar said.
Landeskog could return “pretty soon,” Bednar said, but did not give an exact timeframe. The longtime Avalanche captain pulled out after knee surgery in October.
The Avalanche successfully entered the All-Star break, winning seven of the last eight. They scored 57 points behind Dallas (66 points in the All-Star break), Winnipeg (65) …