When any player scores six points in two playoff games (and three in each respective contest), people get excited. When that guy is 18 years old and those two postseason contests rank as his first two games, the praise gets downright bold.
Maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that Colorado Avalanche wunderkind Nathan MacKinnon inspired Jeremy Roenick to throw the words “Hall of Famer” and “more dominant than Sidney Crosby” around. Roenick specifically compared MacKinnon, 18, favorably to Sidney Crosby when he was at the same age:
Out of curiosity, let’s take a look at what MacKinnon and Crosby did in their rookie years.
MacKinnon (2013-14): 24 goals and 64 points (+20 rating) in 82 games played.
Crosby (2005-06): 39 goals and 102 points in 81 games played (-1).
Of course, it was easier to hit 100 points during that 2005-06 campaign, so context might help. MacKinnon’s 64 points tied him for 34th in the NHL’s leading scorers while Crosby finished sixth in his season. Of course, Roenick would almost certainly counter with this: MacKinnon’s seven points already top the five Crosby scored in five playoff games during his second season in the league.
It’s one of those highly subjective discussions that can go around in circles, but the bottom line is that they’re both outstanding and that the Avalanche seem to have a special player in MacKinnon. (Is he the best rookie since Crosby? Well, there are plenty of talented players who would have something to say about that, including Crosby’s teammate Evgeni Malkin.)
In case you’re wondering, Roenick had 18 points in 20 regular season games as a teenager with the Chicago Blackhawks (and four points in 10 games that 1989 postseason), so he knows a thing or two about prodigies.
Born in Scottsdale, AZ., Auston Matthews has taken the NHL by storm in his rookie season as an elite talent headlining an impressive freshman class.
Taken first overall last June, Matthews made history with four goals in his debut, surely a dizzying experience for Maple Leafs fans accustomed to heartbreak and frustration. And he really hasn’t slowed down since.
On Sunday against the Carolina Hurricanes — and on Hockey Day in America — the 19-year-old Matthews once again put on a show, scoring his 28th goal of the season. That gave Toronto a two-goal lead.
As he’s often done in his brief time in the NHL, this goal was of the spectacular variety, as he broke in off the left wing and, as he was getting hauled down to the ice, slid the puck five-hole on Cam Ward.
Related: Auston Matthews is having a rookie season for the ages
For about a month now, Evander Kane has enjoyed a particularly productive stretch for the Buffalo Sabres.
Kane scored with 5.6 seconds remaining in the first period of Sunday’s game versus the Chicago Blackhawks, converting on a nifty pass from Jack Eichel and going top shelf on Scott Darling.
He now has goals in three straight games, and 15 points in 14 games as the Sabres have fought their way back into the playoff race in the Eastern Conference.
Of course, this latest run comes just before the trade deadline, and Kane’s name has consistently been in speculation about a possible move — in addition to off-ice issues. While GM Tim Murray has said earlier this month that he’s not actively shopping Kane, he also didn’t absolutely rule out trading the 25-year-old left winger, now into his second season in Buffalo.
(Murray: “Is there a crazy deal that somebody could throw at me that would force me to do it? I guess there is.”)
Most impressive about Kane’s numbers — remember he missed time earlier this season with a rib injury and then had a slow start, which drew the ire of the coach — is that he’s done the vast majority of his scoring, 20 of 21 goals, at five-on-five.
The Boston Bruins are back from their bye week, looking to continue a three-game winning streak since Bruce Cassidy took over as head coach from Claude Julien.
The Bruins can extend their streak Sunday, when they visit the San Jose Sharks (8:30 p.m. ET). You can check out the game on NBCSN or online with NBC Sports’ Live Extra.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:
The NHL’s bye week experiment is still a work in progress
Pre-game reading: Are the Bruins and Avalanche on verge of trade?
Sharks have reason to wait on Thornton, Marleau extensions
Jacob Trouba could be getting a call from the NHL Department of Player Safety for a hit to the head of Ottawa Senators forward Mark Stone.
The incident occurred during the third period of Sunday’s game, as Stone was passing the puck after he entered the zone. Trouba stepped up and delivered a high hit, resulting in only a minor penalty for an illegal check to the head.
Stone, who dealt with a concussion that was reported in September, remained down on the ice before eventually going to the dressing room.
As you can see from the video, Senators coach Guy Boucher was furious officials on the ice decided this was only worth a minor for Trouba.