Maple Leafs pin hopes on Ryan O’Reilly to help end playoff frustrations NHL-leading Bruins acquire Orlov, Hathaway from Capitals Predators’ Ryan Johansen out estimated 12 weeks after surgery Inconsistent Penguins scrambling as stretch run looms Alex Ovechkin returns to Capitals following death of father
BUFFALO, NEW YORK. In April, the Toronto Maple Leafs will once again have to face long-standing questions about how they will try to avoid turning a dominant regular season into another early playoff exit.
A promising glimpse of a response may have begun to appear within four days, during which the Maple Leafs won two of three with a new lineup of centers. Ryan O’Reilly And Noel Accariwhich were acquired in trade with St. Louis.
With O’Reilly at the center of Toronto’s second row and Accciari in fourth, their presence has provided coach Sheldon Keefe with an added level of flexibility and an added dynamic dimension to a talented squad that already includes four 20-goal scorers.
Toronto’s newfound potential was shown in a 6-3 win over the Sabres, when O’Reilly’s line combined four goals and 13 points to give the Leafs a 3-0 lead at 7:14 before ” Buffalo has registered its first picture online.
“Obviously, this is the line that broke tonight. It could be the Matthews line next night,” Keefe said, referring to the top line, which has Auston Matthews. “But, as I told the guys, this is how it should look in terms of team play. … It’s just as dominant as the whole season, so it’s amazing.”
Keefe’s job is to develop this game and continue to develop the teamwork of the entire squad in order to finally start living up to the long-awaited expectations of reaching the playoffs, which does not end in the first round.
The Maple Leafs have not won a playoff series since 2004, when it took them seven games to eliminate Ottawa before losing to Philadelphia in a six-game second round matchup. They have since lost seven consecutive first round streaks, mostly due to dramatic losses, including six of them ending in decisive games of 5 or 7.
Disappointing track record – one general manager Kyle Dubas cited having turned down four draft picks since the deal was finalized, including this year’s first round pick, two minor leaguers, and the prospect of a deal that saw Minnesota receive 25% of O’Reilly’s salary.
“We were in the top five in the standings and we are there again this year,” Dubas said of a team that has finished no worse than third in its division in each of the previous six years. “So there are a lot of moments along the way and people will laugh at it, make fun of it, and that’s okay. We’re trying to win. And this is the message.
At 35-15-8, the Leafs’ 78 points are their best in 58 games of the season, and they are second in the Atlantic Division. With division leaders Boston 13 points ahead of the Maple Leafs, Toronto appears to be stuck in a rematch against Tampa Bay in the first round of last year, which the Lightning won in Game 7, rallying after deficit in series 3-2.
The O’Reilly trade was the latest in a string of high-profile mid- and late-season signings by the Leafs that didn’t work out during the playoffs. He added a quarterback last year Mark Giordano. Toronto acquired the center two years ago Nick Foligno. In 2020, Dubas received a defender. Jake Mazzin.
And that doesn’t include the off-season free agent surges the Leafs made when signing Patrick Marleau in 2017 or the current captain. John Tavares one year later.
O’Reilly in the last year of his contract represents a short-term trade key. He is a respected two-way center who was the NHL’s top defensive forward in 2019, the same year that O’Reilly won the Playoff MVP award for the Stanley Cup-winning Blues.
O’Reilly, 32, from Ontario and his mother, who once worked at the concession stands at Maple Leaf Gardens, is fully aware of the pressure of playing in Toronto and what it will mean to bring home the title.
“We’ve got a lot of good pieces here and it’s a great team,” O’Reilly said, refusing to look too far ahead.
“I have to do it day in and day out and work and push myself to get better and try to help this team take that one step further,” he added. “I have so much excitement when I am here. … I’m just going to feed on it and try to make an impact in any way I can.”
Saluting O’Reilly, Tavares agreed to move from center to left, along a line rounded off by Mitchell Marner.
“When Kyle and management take steps like this, it obviously sends a strong signal,” Tavares said. “Believing in the team, in what we want to achieve and what we have achieved so far, so we are very excited about that.”
BOSTON. The best team in the NHL got bigger and stronger.
Already on track for one of the best seasons in hockey history, the Boston Bruins have acquired a quarterback. Dmitry Orlov and go Pomegranate Hathaway from the Washington Capitals on Thursday in exchange for a forward Craig Smith and three drafts. This is the latest major acquisition by an Eastern Conference contender as the league approaches the March 3 trade deadline.
“Let’s hope we stay healthy and try to run, show our best hockey at the right time,” Bruins general manager Don Sweeney told reporters. “It will be a difficult road. It’s a difficult path to get in. It’s even harder when you’re already in.”
Boston sent Washington a 2023 first round pick, a 2024 second round pick, a 2025 third round pick, and Smith. The Capitals kept half of Orlov’s salary, while the Minnesota will pay 25%; The Wild will get the fifth round in 2023 for helping Boston stay under the limit.
Sweeney said Orlov and Garnet are arranging a trip so they can join the Bruins on their four-game road trip that began Thursday night against Seattle. They will join the team with the best record in the NHL after leaving the team that won it all in 2018 but hasn’t made it past the first round since and is struggling to make the playoffs this season.
“They were a ridiculously competitive and successful part of the[Capitals]organization,” Sweeney said. “So (they) are a bit shocked. But once they hear the excitement in our voice when we invite them on board, things quickly change.”
With a record of 43-8-5 and 91 points heading into the Kraken game, the Bruins showed some weaknesses. But memories of recent playoff upsets have left Sweeney worried about depth — especially on defense — and he’s hoping it’ll be a long postseason.
“I think we were trying to attack two different areas,” Sweeney said. “Dmitry and Granat can bring some qualities to our group. Now we try to stay healthy and run.”
Capitals sell at trade deadline for the first time since Alexey Ovechkinfreshman year more than a decade and a half ago.
“This transaction allows us to acquire project capital, infuse youth and replenish our system,” General Manager. Brian McLellan said. “While this season has proven to be challenging with injuries to our important players, we can use some of our current assets to retool our club and build a competitive team to move forward.”
The Bruins have racked up 100 points for four consecutive seasons without the pandemic, but only made it to the playoffs once, losing to the St. Louis Blues in the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals. After losing in the first round last year, Sweeney fired coach Bruce Cassidy and replaced him with Jim Montgomery.
Even though the year started without a top scorer Brad Marchand and the best defender Charlie McAvoy, who were both recovering from surgery during the off-season, the Bruins climbed to the top of the NHL standings. They won 17 of their first 19 games and were mostly undefeated at home until January 12th.
“Our squad has been battle-tested,” Sweeney said. “I think we can play any game against any team and we can react accordingly or dictate the terms. We tried to complement and add to that.”
Orlov, 31, was a homegrown Washington player who helped the team win the Stanley Cup in 2018. Hathaway, 31, has been on the Capitals’ fourth line for the past four seasons.
“Dmitri has been with our organization for nearly 14 years and has been a key player in helping us win the Stanley Cup,” McLellan said. “Garnet has been an important part of our team and a role model off the ice for his contributions to our community. We wish both players the very best in Boston.
Orlov was officially traded from Washington to Minnesota and then to Boston, while the Wild sent Andrey Svetlakov, drafted in 2017, to the Bruins. Sweeney said he had no indication that Svetlakov, who plays in the KHL, would leave Russia.
The Wild received a draft pick for helping trade for the second time in less than a week. The Wild received a 2025 fourth-round pick from Toronto to keep their paycheck in a deal that sent Ryan O’Reilly and ex-Bruins forward Noel Accari from St. Louis to the Maple Leafs.
NASHVILLE, TN – Nashville Predators Center Ryan Johansen will miss the rest of the regular season due to surgery on his lower right leg.
The Predators announced that Johansen would be out for “approximately 12 weeks” following surgery.
Nashville will have to make the playoffs if Johansen is to return this season. The Predators will end the regular season on April 14 hosting Colorado and enter the game in San Jose with seven points from the second-place wild card in the Western Conference.
Johansen left the ice at the end of the second period after a 5-4 win over Vancouver behind a Canucks defenseman. Quinn Hughes– the skate hit him under the right ankle from behind. Johansen left the arena on crutches and kept his foot on the ground, despite wearing a walking boot for protection.
The 6-foot-3 center forward is fifth on the Predators’ standings with 28 points played in his first 55 games. This is a big drop from last season when he finished with 63 points, tied for third in points in…