Odds, ends, trivia, and how the Flyers have fared lately against the three other teams in the Eastern Conference’s round robin, which begins Saturday in Toronto.
1. This could be the final dance for Washington goalie Braden Holtby, who has been the Capitals’ primary goalie for the last eight years and was a monster two years ago in the championship run. Holtby, 31 in September, is a pending free agent who earned $6.1 million this year. The heir apparent is rookie Ilya Samsonov, 23, who is on the books for next season at $925,000. Samsonov is injured, however, and will not play in the postseason.
2. ”I haven’t put much thought into the free agency and all that kind of thing,” Holtby said during camp. “My focus right now is to win a championship and moving forward, is to find the next best place to win a championship with. Hopefully it is here, hopefully everything works out, but you never know. Right now you live in the moment, and we have an exciting opportunity to have some fun.”
3. Andrei Vasilevskiy hung out the “Gone Fishin’” sign during the stoppage. ”I even caught a small shark a few weeks ago,” the Tampa Bay goalie said. Vasilevskiy, who turned 26 last week, has led the NHL in wins each of the last three years.
4. Tuukka Rask has started the last 76 postseason games for the Bruins dating to 2012-13. His career postseason save percentage (.927) is better than his regular-season mark (.922).
5. Triviality: Name the only goalie in the last 32 years to win the Vezina and the Stanley Cup in the same season. Hint the team he did it for is one of the clubs in the East’s round robin. Answer below.
6. Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov needs five goals to break Martin St. Louis’ career playoff record of 33. Similar marks for the ECRR teams: Boston, Cam Neely, 55; Flyers, Bill Barber and Rick MacLeish, 53; Washington, Alex Ovechkin, 65.
7. The term “round robin” is rooted in the French word for “ribbon,” which eventually became “robin.” It has nothing to do with birds or with Batman’s sidekick.
8. Boston’s David Pastrnak is tied with Ovechkin for the NHL lead with 48 goals. Kucherov paced Tampa Bay with 33 and Travis Konecny led the Flyers with 24.
9. Against the Flyers this year, Pastrnak had one goal in 13 shots in three games; Ovie had zero goals on 10 shots in four games; and Kucherov had one goal on eight shots in two games. That’s two goals on 31 shots. You can bet Sean Couturier had something to do with that.
10. Second-line right winger Ondrej Kase did not make the initial trip to Toronto with the rest of the club, so his status for Sunday’s game against the Flyers is iffy at best. Kase, whose brother David plays in the Flyers’ system, was acquired at the deadline from Anaheim.
11. The teams will be seeded based on how they perform in the round robin (two points for a win, one for a win in overtime/shootout). Points percentage from the regular season will break ties in the round-robin standings. Those percentages: Boston .714, Tampa Bay .657, Washington .652, Flyers .645.
12. Answer I: The only goalie in the last 30 years to win the Vezina and the Stanley Cup in the same season is Boston’s Tim Thomas in 2010-11.
13. The four teams in the round robin – as well as Pittsburgh – are staying at Hotel X. The place is closed until Sept. 9, but reservations are available afterward at around $400 per night. However, if you’re American, forget it. The border’s closed to non-essential workers.
14. Teams are relegated to their own floors, so Claude Giroux won’t be bumping into Evgeni Malkin. At least he better not be.
15. Capitals forward T.J. Oshie on what he’s expecting from life in the bubble: “It’s going to be different. It’s going to be weird. It’s going to kind of feel like you’re a kid again and you can’t drive and you can’t do anything.” Yeah, except for the $400 per night room. Gimme the Suitcase Motel in North Wildwood, any day. Free HBO.
16. Players who leave the bubble without prior clearance (say for a pending birth of a child) could be subject to either a 14-day quarantine or outright dismissal. Wonder if this covers stepping out to a strip club for, uh, dinner.
17. Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny was working in camp on the top pairing alongside Norris favorite John Carlson. Kempny, who wasn’t 100 percent this year after tearing his hamstring in April 2019, had been demoted to the third pair. But the pause in play helped him heal fully. “I’m going to continue to evaluate and watch him and see what gives our six (defensemen) the best look,” coach Todd Reirden said during camp, “but I can definitely see a difference.”
18. Carlson and Tampa’s Victor Hedman give the East two of the finalists for the Norris. (The other is Nashville’s Roman Josi). Ivan Provorov (24:51) averaged more ice time than Carlson (24:38) and Hedman (24:04).
19. Triviality: Hedman was the second overall pick in 2009. Who went first? Hint: This guy is with the Maple Leafs.
20. Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, who turned 43 during the stoppage, averaged 21 minutes per game and was +26 - his highest rating in eight years. He’s played in 1,553 regular-season games and 182 in the postseason. Converting his minutes played, he’s spent more than 20 continuous days on NHL ice.
21. Nobody’s more anxious to get back to the playoffs than the high-flying Lightning, who last year raced through the regular season with a franchise-best 128 points only to be meekly swept by Columbus in the first round.
22. Their top line – Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov – was particularly suffocated with two goals and a combined -17. Stamkos reportedly is dealing with a lower-body injury. He did not play in Wednesday’s exhibition game, but has been practicing.
23. The Flyers have lost seven in a row to Tampa Bay, including once in overtime and two more by shootout. Regular-season overtime rules apply during the round robin, so there will be 5-minute overtimes followed by shootouts, if necessary.
24. The Flyers won the last three meetings against the Caps, outscoring them 15-6. They had lost five in a row to Washington, including the first meeting this season in a shootout. Philadelphia had won four in a row against Boston (two by shootout, one in overtime) before losing at home to the Bruins just before the break, 2-0. Bottom line: Tampa gives them fits, they’ve handled the Caps lately, and Boston could go either way.
25. Answer II: Victor Hedman was the second pick in the 2009 draft, just behind John Tavares, who was selected by the Islanders and signed with Toronto two years ago. Hedman did not make the initial trip with Tampa Bay.
26. Washington’s Ilya Kovalchuk hasn’t played in a playoff game since 2012 when he was part of a Devils team that went to the Final.
27. Patrice Bergeron is a finalist for the Selke Award for a record ninth consecutive season. He and Bob Gainey are the only players to win it four times. St. Louis’ Ryan O’Reilly and the Flyers’ Sean Couturier are this year’s other finalists. The guess here is Couturier will win it.
28. Bergeron’s name is actually Patrice Bergeron-Cleary. His father is Gerard Cleary, and he told the Boston Globe 10 years ago that “I should be Patrice Cleary. … Not should be. I am Patrice Cleary.” His last name was truncated so often that he basically gave up correcting people. His name, however, is engraved “Patrice Bergeron-Cleary” on the Stanley Cup after the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011.
29. The Lightning’s best defensive forward is Anthony Cirelli, who is in just his second full season. He was +25 last season and +28 this year. He was scoreless, but +2 in two games against the Flyers this year.
30. Capitals forward (and villain/freight train) Tom Wilson on playing in the quiet of an arena without fans: “I’ll have to watch, I guess, what I’m saying. Less F-words and stuff like that.”