Some Monday morning musings from the NHL and the rest of the hockey world to prepare you for the upcoming week that will see:
Bruins the best?
The Bruins have balance up front, blue-line depth and one of the best goalies in the business in Tuukka Rask. And did we mention the spoked "B" gang has been rolling recently?
Boston has reeled off 12 consecutive wins for the longest victory string in the NHL this season. It's the club's longest streak since Bobby Orr and the Bruins won 13 games in a row in 1970-71 and the current run from Claude Julien's team is only two wins off the franchise record set 84 years ago.
The Bruins don't have a Top 20 point-getter, but they do have seven forwards already over the 40-point hump and plenty of offence from defencemen Torey Krug (14 goals, 37 points), captain Zdeno Chara (16 goals, 35 points) and Dougie Hamilton (seven goals, 22 points).
Another area the Bruins have dominated this season is in finishing strong. No team has scored more than their 92 third-period goals and yielded less than their 48 goals against in the final 20 minutes of regulation.
Looking ahead this week, the Bruins have difficult home games against Montreal on Monday and Chicago on Thursday before they depart for a four-game road trip to Washington, Philadelphia, Detroit and Toronto. Seven of Boston's 11 remaining games will be on the road, but the Bruins are tied with the Colorado Avalanche for the best road winning percentage at .662 (21-10-3).
Here is the Presidents' Trophy race with three weeks remaining in the regular season:
Teams Points GR
Playoff race by the numbers
21 - Days remaining in the NHL 2013-14 season.
158 - Games to be played.
2 - Of the 16 playoff positions have been locked up by Boston and St. Louis.
20 - Teams remain in the hunt for the final 14 playoff spots.
90 - Points, the projected total to snatch the final playoff positions in the Eastern Conference based on the pace set by Columbus and Toronto through Sunday. The Blue Jackets have the tiebreaker (total wins in regulation and overtime) over the Maple Leafs.
91 - Points, the projected amount it will take to grab the final playoff position in the West based on the pace set by Phoenix with three weeks to go.
2 - Canadian teams would be in the post-season if the playoffs were to begin today. However, it's difficult to ignore the Maple Leafs late-season slide that has put their playoff hopes in peril. If Toronto slips out, that would leave only the Montreal Canadiens in the post-season and the fewest number of Canadian teams in the playoffs since the NHL went to the shootout in 2005.
Mr. & Mrs. Coach
Six years ago, Clarkson University tried something different. The Potsdam, N.Y., school hired the first husband-wife duo in Matt and Shannon Desrosiers as co-head coaches of the Golden Knights women's hockey team.
The move paid huge dividends as the Desrosiers steered Clarkson to a 5-4 victory over No. 1 Minnesota in the Frozen Four women's championship final on Sunday.
Shannon (1999-2003), a forward, and Matt (1997-2001), a defenceman, were key members of the St. Lawrence University women's and men's hockey teams, respectively. Matt, from Fort Erie, Ont., helped St. Lawrence earn a berth to the 2000 Frozen Four. Shannon, of Fernie, B.C., helped the women's team advance all the way to the final in 2001.
When her collegiate career concluded, she joined the Clarkson staff as an assistant coach. Matt followed her to Clarkson in 2006 after five seasons in the minors.
In Sunday's final, sophomore Shannon McAulay of Mt. Herbert, P.E.I., scored the game-winning goal with 4:16 remaining when she stole the puck at the Clarkson blue-line and scored on a breakaway. McAulay also had two assists in the final as Clarkson snapped Minnesota's 26-game win streak.
Good for business
Toronto Furies netminder Christina Kessler is proof there is plenty of depth in goal on the Canadian women's scene. And with her Clarkson Cup performance, she could not have provided a better advertisement for her Kessler Goaltending program.
Kessler made 25 saves to guide the Furies to a 1-0 overtime victory in the CWHL final over the defending champion Boston Blades on Saturday. Her biggest stop came when she turned aside Blades forward Hilary Knight on a breakaway. Knight scored a tournament-best five goals in four games.
The 25-year-old Kessler was named MVP of the championship final and checked in with a stingy .957 save percentage in her four outings in the tournament.
The former Harvard University star, who set an NCAA record with a .941 save percentage in her four-year collegiate career, was fourth on the Canadian Olympic depth chart behind Shannon Szabados, Charline Labonte and Genevieve Lacasse.
Kessler founded her goaltending school in 2011. She teaches both boys and girls and not only stresses the technical aspects of good goaltending, but mental skills as well.
Another assist from No. 87
Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin confessed Russia's early exit in Sochi had affected his post-Olympic performance in the NHL. So with Malkin managing only one goal and eight points in 10 games, including zero points in his last three outings, Penguins captain Sidney Crosby pulled his struggling teammate aside for a chat last Wednesday.
Malkin has enjoyed an immediate turnaround, checking in with four goals and six points in the three games since Crosby's pep talk.
"I just wanted to see how things were going," Crosby told the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. "Obviously, I knew it was probably difficult coming off the Olympics [and] having those expectations.
"There was enough time that had passed that I felt comfortable talking to him about it.
"It's not something I wanted to bring up right away. I think we all knew it was disappointing for him.
"He's not the kind of guy who's going to go look for someone and start talking about it. Just to, kind of, talk things out sometimes helps."
There still is some work to do for Malkin. In a 1-0 loss at home to the Blues on Sunday, he was exiting the penalty box when St. Louis scored the game's lone goal late in the third period.
By the numbers
0 - Penalty minutes in 69 games for Colorado Avalanche forward Ryan O'Reilly this season.
19:42 - Average ice time for O'Reilly, good for 38th in the NHL among forwards.
14 - University Cups, a record, won by the University of Alberta Golden Bears after they beat the host Saskatchewan Huskies, 3-1 in the national championship final in Saskatoon on Sunday.
2 - National championships for Golden Bears head coach Ian Herbers. He won his first as a defenceman with Alberta in 1991-92.
2 - Canadians in Wisconsin goalie Joel Rumpel of Swift Current, Sask., and St. Lawrence forward Greg Carey of Hamilton, Ont., named to the 10-player finalist list for the 2014 Hobey Baker Award, given to the U.S. college MVP.
500 - Career wins for Los Angeles Kings head coach Darryl Sutter. He became the 18th NHL coach to hit the milestone when his Kings beat the Washington Capitals, 2-1 last Thursday.
1,028 - Career NHL games coached by Sutter on Saturday, tying him for the family lead with older brother Brian.
1,256 - Career AHL games coached by 56-year-old Roy Sommer, who has spent 16 seasons coaching the San Jose Sharks affiliates in Worcester, Cleveland and Kentucky, to match the league record set by Frank Mathers in 1984-85. Sommer, a career minor-league forward who played three games with the 1980-81 Edmonton Oilers, will pass Mathers' mark when Worcester visits the Portland Pirates on Wednesday.
Follow Tim Wharnsby on Twitter @WharnsbyCBC
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