The year began in spectacular fashion with the 2019 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic between the Boston Bruins and the Chicago Blackhawks at Notre Dame Stadium on Jan. 1.
There were the 2019 Honda NHL All-Star Game festivities in San Jose, an outdoor game in Philadelphia, and the stunning worst-to-first run by the Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues.
The start of the 2019-20 season saw NHL hockey played outdoors in Regina, Saskatchewan, and indoors across Europe, including regular-season games in Prague, Czech Republic and Stockholm, Sweden.
It was a year that won’t soon be forgotten.
Here are the favorite hockey moments of 2019 from members of the NHL.com staff:
Amalie Benjamin, staff writer
No one believed Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara would play Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final. The Bruins captain had a facial injury, likely a broken jaw, and it was doubtful he could play with that. But doctors gave him the green light and Chara, never one to shy away from a challenge, was in the lineup, despite fractures that needed two plates, some wires and screws to hold it all together. It led to an unbelievable ovation that night from the TD Garden crowd, which showed its appreciation for the lengths Chara went for his team and his teammates. Even though the Bruins wouldn’t win the Cup, that moment stuck with me.
Tim Campbell, staff writer
So many of the best moments each year take place in the presence of the Stanley Cup. One happened in Calahoo, Alberta on July 2, when the Cup paraded down Range Road 275 in the tiny hamlet west of Edmonton. The guest of honor was St. Louis Blues coach Craig Berube, who brought the Cup back to his hometown, keeping a longstanding promise. More than 2,000 family, friends and fans flooded into the community, which has a population of 85, lining up at Calahoo Arena to meet Berube and have pictures taken with the Cup.
Nick Cotsonika, columnist
The best moment of 2019 involved Laila Anderson, the 11-year-old battling a rare disease who became part of her beloved St. Louis Blues. You could choose, say, when she found out she was going to Boston to see the Blues play in the Stanley Cup Final, or when she received her own Stanley Cup ring. But for me, it was when she was on the ice in the aftermath of the Blues’ Game 7 win in Boston. Defenseman Colton Parayko helped her hold the Stanley Cup aloft, then grabbed it and lifted it above their heads with a joyous howl. Laila will remember that forever. And so will we.
William Douglas, staff writer
My favorite hockey moment of 2019 was watching Colombia and Jamaica play for the Amerigol LATAM Cup championship at the Florida Panthers practice facility in September. The game was as great as the Jamaican meat patties sold by a food truck outside the rink. The talent on the ice was good, and the people who packed the stands brought an enthusiastic soccer vibe. And you couldn’t have written a better script for the game. Colombia tied it 2-2 late in the third period, and after overtime couldn’t decide it, Jamaica won in a shootout.
Tom Gulitti, staff writer
My favorite memory of 2019 was the scene at PNC Arena after the Carolina Hurricanes completed a sweep of the New York Islanders with a 5-2 win in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Second Round on May 3. The Hurricanes and their fans had waited a decade for a moment like this. Although the Hurricanes, who had last been in the playoffs in 2009, went on to get swept by the Bruins in the Eastern Conference Final, they established a winning foundation they are building on this season, with an eye on taking the next step in the 2020 playoffs.
Mike G. Morreale, staff writer
One of the best hockey moments for me this year was witnessing Jack Hughes and Cole Caufield each establish a record on the same play. It was during the USA Hockey National Team Development Program Under-18 team’s 12-4 win against Green Bay of the United States Hockey League at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Michigan, on March 15. Caufield set the program record for goals with an assist from Hughes, that gave him its points record. Hughes, who would go on to be chosen by the New Jersey Devils with the No. 1 pick of the 2019 NHL Draft, had five assists in the game and finished his NTDP career with 228 points to pass Arizona Coyotes forward Clayton Keller (189 points, 2014-16). Caufield, selected No. 15 by the Montreal Canadiens in the 2019 Draft, scored six goals on 10 shots that day and finished his NTDP career with 126 goals to pass Coyotes forward Phil Kessel (104 goals, 2003-05).
Tracey Myers, staff writer
My favorite moment of 2019 was covering the Stanley Cup championship parade for the Blues. Getting to walk the route was a treat. I talked to fans who were grateful for all those World Series titles the St. Louis Cardinals have won, but equally were thrilled to see the Blues win their first Cup. The Blues players did their part, getting out of cars or truck beds to wave Blues flags and slap hands with the hundreds of thousands of fans along the route. It was a great day for the city of St. Louis.
Bill Price, Editor-in-Chief
Nick stole my thunder a bit here. I was standing nearby when Parayko handed the Cup to Anderson after Game 7, and I will never forget the pure joy on each of their faces. Aside from that, the most memorable moment of the year for me involved Gritty, of course. Though the Philadelphia Flyers mascot made his debut in 2018, his coming-out party occurred at the Stadium Series game between the Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins at Lincoln Financial Field on Feb. 23. Gritty started the show by standing atop the stadium with a light-up LED suit. He then zip-lined down to the field and climbed steps replicating those at the Philadelphia Museum of Art to the theme song from the movie “Rocky.” That wasn’t all. Midway through the game, wearing nothing but his helmet and his perpetual smile, he streaked across the field, chased by his personal security people. Gritty, who never disappoints, made what already was an incredible night in Philadelphia, that much more memorable.
Dan Rosen, senior writer
My first thought went to Gritty at the Stadium Series game in Philadelphia. The laughs we had watching his antics. It was fun. It’s supposed to be fun. But Bill stole it. So my next thought went to my time in Columbus during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, specifically after the Blue Jackets lost Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Bruins. The season was over and yet the Blue Jackets stayed on the ice to salute the fans, who stood and roared for their team, chanting “CBJ, CBJ, CBJ.” Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky waved good-bye. It was sad. It was happy. It was the end. But it was a sign of how a great hockey market came together. It made me appreciate Columbus.
Dave Stubbs, columnist
To my pleasant surprise, Hall of Fame goalie Glenn Hall agreed to live-tweet Game 3 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final from his farm house in Stony Plain, Alberta on June 1. I sat and watched the game with Hall, the first player in St. Louis Blues history, and his son, Pat. Glenn, who would turn 88 on Oct. 3, was observant and witty on my Twitter account, embracing the spirit of social media with 17 tweets from the sofa in his den, hundreds of likes and retweets still coming well past midnight. That his Blues loss 7-2 to the Boston Bruins did little to dull his enthusiasm as he bantered online through my phone. Glenn’s final tweet: “Thanks to all you fans for writing tonight and remembering me. All these years later, I’m humbled.”
Mike Zeisberger, staff writer
To have a Game 7 in any Stanley Cup Playoff series is dramatic enough, but for it to go to double-overtime? As I told esteemed colleague Tracey Myers in the Enterprise Center press box the night of May 7, it doesn’t get much better than that. You want edge-of-your seat theatre? How’s this? The Blues defeat the Dallas Stars 2-1 in the Western Conference Second Round. The winning goal was scored by St. Louis native Patrick Maroon, who immediately pointed to his 10-year-old son, Anthony, in the stands. “I’ve taught him things,” Anthony told us while hugging his dad afterward in the Blues dressing room, which also included the inspirational Laila Anderson and actor Jon Hamm. Down the hall in the family room, Maroon’s mother, Patti, pulled out a prayer card dedicated to St. Anthony in honor of her grandson. “I kept it in my bra for the whole game for luck,” she said. It worked. Cool scene. Cool experience. Cool moment.
Raptors outmuscle, out-hustle, and outplay Boston Celtics in dominant victory – Raptors Republic
Former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson famously said, “everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Last night, the Toronto Raptors threw haymakers at the Boston Celtics in a runaway 115-83 win.
The Raptors had carte blanche in their season opener. After a year in Tampa Bay, they were finally back home, and the fans and players were just happy to be in Scotiabank Arena.
This game painted a picture of what Toronto hopes to be this season: a physical team that uses its size and length to control games defensively and on the glass. The Raptors forced 25 turnovers and outrebounded Boston 60-42.
21 of those 60 boards came on the offensive end, resulting in 18 extra shot attempts for the Raptors. On a night where the team shot worst from the floor than in their opening game (42 percent versus 44.4 percent on Wednesday), their ability to set the tone with their physicality went a long way toward securing their first win of the season.
Five Raptors recorded five or more rebounds. The attack on the glass was spearheaded by two newcomers: Precious Achiuwa (15 rebounds) and Scottie Barnes (13 rebounds).
When asked after the game how a team without a traditional center can outrebound their opponent, specifically on the offensive glass, Raptors head coach, Nick Nurse, said it was because his team was able to “miss a lot of shots.”
Nurse has allowed Achiuwa to operate similarly to how he played during his lone season at Memphis. Then, after James Wiseman was suspended, the Nigerian was used as a small-ball center who was allowed to make plays with the ball in his hands and attack in transition.
Celtics center, Robert Williams III (nine points and six rebounds in 28 minutes), had a lot of preseason buzz about potentially making a leap this year; Achiuwa (15 points and 15 rebounds in 25 minutes) thoroughly outplayed him tonight.
However, the biggest takeaway from this game has to be the play of Barnes. After Dalano Banton stole the show in the first game, it was Barnes’ turn to be the rookie in the spotlight.
There was no hiding on defense as he was routinely matched up against one of Boston’s all-star wings. Between him, OG Anunoby, and timely help from others, the Raptors forced Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum to shoot 11-25 combined.
On paper, Tatum’s 8-14 shooting numbers look fine, but Tatum did most of his damage in the second quarter. Speaking to the media postgame, Barnes said of the team limiting Tatum in the second half, specifically the third quarter, “he’s a really good player, so we just want to keep showing our length in gaps to try and influence him not to get in [the lane]. And when he gets real low, we just bring a bunch of guys and try to swarm him and don’t let him get easy looks.”
While the Raptors’ defense and rebounding were present throughout the game, Barnes’ play led the way for the team in the first half. Toronto only held a four-point advantage at halftime, and the fourth overall pick powered the team with 15 points and seven rebounds.
Offensively, he did a little bit of everything. He made an off-the-dribble three, he connected on catch-and-shoot midrange jumpers, he pushed the pace, he finished at the rim, and he made plays for his teammates.
After the game, Barnes attributed his performance to “playing hard throughout the game.” Barnes said, “it just matters about time and the situation. If we miss a couple, we’ve got to get the ball moving, then try to find the right shot, what’s best for us,” and he finished off with “If they leave me open, I’m gonna shoot it, no hesitation.”
It’s only game two, but this game showed a glimpse of what this franchise hopes peak Barnes will look like and why Masai Ujiri and Bobby Webster were elated when he was still on the board when Toronto was on the clock in the 2021 NBA Draft.
“What I liked the most was he was at the front of the rim a lot tonight. Putbacks and cuts and drives, and that’s what we like to see–be able to use some of that size and length,” said Nurse after the game.
The Gary Trent Jr. rollercoaster was ascending upward tonight as he pitched in 20 points and helped Toronto extend their lead in the third quarter where they outscored Boston 34-17.
Trent Jr. got the start tonight and it seems like he will remain in the starting lineup going forward. Nurse said starting, “made Gary more comfortable” and that he was able to “feed off the other [starters].”
The big takeaway from yesterday’s performance is that this group is not a pushover. Their shots weren’t falling once again, but they dug deeper defensively and used their effort to create extra opportunities that ultimately led to them producing a double-digit victory.
The shooting struggles remain a concern–particularly from Anunoby who had looked on the way to taking his game to another level during the preseason–and the half-court offense leaves a lot to be desired. Nurse mentioned after the game that the team needs to “clean up spacing issues,” however, the NBA doesn’t award style points, so a win is a win.
Astros shut out Red Sox, advance to World Series for third time in five years – Sportsnet.ca
HOUSTON — Rookie Luis Garcia showed the poise of an October ace, Yordan Alvarez stayed hot at the plate and the Houston Astros earned yet another trip to the World Series, beating the Boston Red Sox 5-0 Friday night in Game 6 of the AL Championship Series.
The Astros advanced to the World Series for the fourth time overall and the second time in three seasons. They won the championship in 2017, a crown tainted by the team’s sign-stealing scandal, before losing to the Washington Nationals in seven games in 2019.
Manager Dusty Baker’s team will open the World Series on Tuesday night, either at Dodger Stadium or home against Atlanta. The Braves lead Los Angeles 3-2 in the NL Championship Series going into Game 6 Saturday night.
Garcia pitched no-hit ball into the sixth inning, leaving to a huge ovation with two outs after a triple by Kike Hernandez. It was an impressive bounce-back performance for the 24-year-old, who started Game 2 and gave up a grand slam in the first inning before leaving with no outs in the second because of discomfort in his right knee.
Alvarez continued his scorching streak, a year after watching at home after surgery to both knees as the Astros came one game shy of reaching the World Series. The slugging designated hitter had four hits, including a triple and two doubles. He led a Game 5 win with three hits and three RBIs.
Catcher Martin Maldonado made the defensive play of the game on a strikeout-throwout double play to end the seventh with Houston ahead 2-0.
It will be the 72-year-old Baker’s second trip to the Fall Classic as a manager and first since leading the San Francisco Giants to the NL pennant in 2002. As a player, he made three trips with the Dodgers, winning it all in 1981.
Boston’s best shot to score came in the seventh. They had runners at first and third with one out in after a single by Alex Verdugo. But Kendall Graveman struck out pinch-hitter Travis Shaw and Maldonado made a perfect throw to Carlos Correa, who was covering second, to beat Verdugo there and end the inning.
Maldonado beat his chest with glee as Graveman and Correa both pumped their fists in celebration to roars from the crowd of 42,718.
Kyle Tucker broke it open with a three-run homer with two outs in the eighth. Television cameras flashed to Houston’s Hall of Fame duo of Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell, who stood together and cheered as Tucker rounded the bases.
Ryan Pressly closed it out in the ninth. The Red Sox, who looked so formidable at the plate at the start of the season, were held to two hits in their final game.
Alex Bregman singled with two outs in the first before the double by Alvarez put the Astros up 1-0. Hernandez was in position to make the catch, but it hit off his arm below his glove and dropped in for the hit.
Consecutive romps by Boston and its bashers made it appear that the Red Sox were in complete control of the series after Game 3, but as the long fly by Alvarez proved, they didn’t have a firm grip on things.
The Astros, buoyed by their young pitchers and rediscovered offense, won the next two games by a combined 18-3 to return home a win away from a World Series. Then their rising 24-year-old stars, Garcia and Alvarez, did the rest.
Houston had a chance to add to the lead in the fourth when Bregman singled and another double by Alvarez left him at third with no outs. But they came up empty after Nathan Eovaldi worked out of the jam.
Alvarez tripled with no outs in the sixth to chase Josh Taylor and Tanner Houck plunked Correa. Tucker then smacked a grounder right at first baseman Kyle Schwarber who tagged Correa for the unassisted double play as Alvarez slid safely into home to make it 2-0.
Eovaldi got the win in a solid Game 2 start but was charged with the loss in Game 4 after giving up the go-ahead runs after coming in with the game tied in the ninth.
On Friday, he permitted five hits and one run as the Red Sox lost a playoff game where he started for the first time after entering the game 5-0 in his starts.
Garcia is the first pitcher to take a no-hitter into sixth of a potential playoff clincher since the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard got two outs in sixth against the Giants in 2016 NL wild-card game.
Garcia allowed Schwarber to reach on a wild pitch after a strikeout to open the game and walked Verdugo with one out in the second. He settled in after that, sitting down the next 13 with five strikeouts, before Hernandez got Boston’s first hit on a triple with two outs in the sixth. Garcia finished with seven strikeouts.
Phil Maton took over and retired Rafael Devers to end the inning.
SIGN OF THE TIMES
Boston manager Alex Cora has heard the speculation that the Astros are relaying signs from the bases and said the Red Sox protect themselves against that.
“It’s not about technology or other stuff,” Cora said. “There’s stuff that happens on the field that you have to be guarded. The same way that teams play defense against us, we play defense against other teams. Not only them we did it against the Yankees, we did it against the Rays. It’s the nature of the game. We’re prepared for that.”
Cora knows better than most about Houston’s sign-stealing history having been the team’s bench coach during the 2017 season when they were found to have violated rules by using a television camera to steal catchers’ signs.
Game 1 of the World Series is Tuesday night where the Astros will host if the Braves advance or Houston will travel to LA if the Dodgers win the NL pennant.
Bruins lines vs. Buffalo: Blidh, Moore draw in – Stanley Cup of Chowder
You’d expect a few lineup changes after a 6-3 loss, and the Bruins confirmed today that tonight’s lineup will look a little different.
The main updates:
- Nick Foligno won’t play. Anton Blidh will draw into the lineup on the fourth line, with Tomas Nosek moving up to the third.
- Connor Clifton will be a healthy scratch, with John Moore taking his place.
So basically, you have Blidh in for Foligno, Moore in for Clifton.
Here’s what to expect on your streaming service tonight:
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Taylor Hall – Charlie Coyle – Craig Smith
Jake DeBrusk – Erik Haula – Tomas Nosek
Anton Blidh – Trent Frederic – Karson Kuhlman
Matt Grzelcyk – Charlie McAvoy
Mike Reilly – Brandon Carlo
Derek Forbort – John Moore
As mentioned in the preview, former Sabre Linus Ullmark will get the start in net.
For Buffalo, Craig Anderson will be in net.
Also, the Sabres will be wearing their white jerseys at home tonight as part of a White Hot Friday promotion — don’t get confused.
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