Artemi Panarin

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Islanders rookie Mathew Barzal makes some history with another 5-point game

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The New York Islanders got a much-needed win on Saturday afternoon when they absolutely crushed their cross-town rivals 7-2. It was a completely one-sided game that saw Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist have to come on in relief and try to give his teammates a pep talk before entering the game.

(It did not work.)

The star of the game for the Islanders was rookie forward Mathew Barzal as he finished with a pair of goals and three assists in the win.

It was the second time this season that Barzal, a rookie, has recorded at least five points in a game.

That is kind of a big deal for a lot of reasons. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

— For one, Barzal is the only player in the NHL this season that has at least two five point games. The rest of the NHL has combined for seven as Patrice Bergeron, Ryan Hartman, Patrick Kane, Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, Artemi Panarin, and Thomas Vanek all have one each.

— He is only the 13th player since 2005-06 to have multiple five-point games in a season. Only Evgeni Malkin (four in 2011-12), Sidney Crosby (three in 2009-10) and Alex Ovechkin (three in 2007-08) have had more than two since then.

— Then we start to get into the fact he is still a rookie. The only other Islanders rookie to record a pair of five-point games in a season was Bryan Trottier during the 1975-76 season.

— Impressive. Even more impressive is the fact that in NHL history there have only been 73 five-point games from rookies. The only rookies to have one since 1993 are Barzal, Connor McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, John Tavares, Alexandre Picard, Evgnei Malkin, Dan Hamhuis, and Ilya Kovalchuk.

— The list of rookies to have more than one is even shorter. It is made up of Barzal, Trottier, Peter Stastny, Anton Stastny, Marian Stastny, Cy Denney, and Joe Malone. That is it. Malone and Denney’s seasons came in the NHL’s first season in 1917-18. Malone is the only one that had more than two (he recorded three). So, basically, two guys that played when the NHL was first created, the Stastny family, and two Islanders.

The Islanders are in a tough spot this season. Their recent slump has put them on the playoff bubble and their two leading scorers, John Tavare and Josh Bailey, are both unrestricted free agents after this season. No matter what happens the rest of the way or with Tavares and Bailey in the summer the one bright spot they will definitely be able to take out of this season is the development of Barzal. He looks like he is becoming a star. He might already be one.

After Saturday’s performance his 44 points are tops among all NHL rookies, putting him four points ahead of Vancouver Canucks forward Brock Boeser. Barzal and Boeser are the only two rookies with at least 34 points on the season. It is pretty much a two-man race for the Calder Trophy right now.

Just a reminder: The Islanders acquired Barzal with a 2015 first-round draft pick that they acquired from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for defenseman Griffin Reinhart. Reinhart, to this point, has two points in 39 NHL games and is no longer a member of the Oilers’ organization (he is now a member of the Vegas Golden Knights organization. He currently plays in the American Hockey League).

What a trade for Islanders general manager Garth Snow.

(Historical data via NHL.com stats database)

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

The Buzzer: Linus blankets Blue Jackets; KHL women’s dance party

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Player of the Night: Linus Ullmark, Buffalo Sabres

Quite a way for Ullmark to make his first start of 2017-18.

The 24-year-old set a new career-high with 44 saves against the Columbus Blue Jackets, helping Buffalo steal a 3-1 win. Only Artemi Panarin‘s beautiful goal beat Ullmark (or at least Ullmark and his post) during this game.

One wonders if Ullmark, 24, deserves a longer look with Buffalo or elsewhere. He generated an outstanding .928 save percentage in 26 AHL games this season, and while his NHL work has been sporadic, he’s been solid when called upon. What else does Buffalo have to lose, other than better draft lottery odds?

Highlight of the Night: Speaking of that Panarin goal …

Runner-up goes to Mark Jankowski, who poured it on for the Flames against the Lightning:

Dance Party!

Lowlight of the Night: Although, maybe a highlight because Kyle Okposo deserves some luck after last season’s health scares.

Factoid

The Hurricanes ended the Capitals’ home dominance, continuing their rise in the process:

Scores

Sabres 3, Blue Jackets 1
Hurricanes 3, Capitals 1
Flames 5, Lightning 1

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Trade: Could Duclair be Blackhawks’ next great find?

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A day after the Chicago Blackhawks made Brent Seabrook a $6.875 million healthy scratch, GM Stan Bowman made a move that reminded the hockey world that he’s still one of the NHL’s nimblest minds.

The fact that he made a promising move with the Arizona Coyotes after a Connor MurphyNiklas Hjalmarsson trade that didn’t work out very well (for either side, really) only adds icing to the cake for Blackhawks fans.

Here are the official terms:

Blackhawks receive: Anthony Duclair and Adam Clendening.

Coyotes get: Richard Panik and Laurent Dauphin.

The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reports that no salary was retained in the trade.

The biggest names here are Duclair and Panik. With LeBrun reporting that no salary was retained in the deal, it seems like it’s either a solid win or a significant win for the Blackhawks; that all depends upon how Duclair handles the change of scenery he requested.

Objectively, Duclair is younger (22) and cheaper than Panik (26). Panik’s cap hit is $2.8 million through 2018-19, while Duclair is a pending RFA with a $1.2M cap hit. The negative side is that Duclair could play exceptionally well and drive up his price, but the struggling Blackhawks would gladly deal with that “problem,” much like they were generally happy to deal with Artemi Panarin being so darn effective.

At the moment, Duclair’s production is more Panik-like than Panarin-like, mind you. There’s actually little separating Duclair’s numbers (15 points in 33 games) from those of Panik (16 points in 37 games).

Duclair’s potential, however, is what makes him very intriguing, especially for a Blackhawks team that’s found more than a few diamonds in the rough over the years.

If you’re a Blackhawks fan who’s already pleased with some elements of the deal, Sportsnet’s Jonathan Willis might make you downright giddy, as he pegged Duclair as the possible hidden gem of the trade market just yesterday:

Duclair looks pretty good at first blush. Last season, which was a mammoth disappointment, he still outperformed the team average. Over 172 games with one of the league’s worst teams, Duclair has actually been on the ice for more goals for than against, which is difficult to do. It’s a massive achievement: Arizona’s goal differential improves by almost a full goal for every hour Duclair plays versus every hour he doesn’t.

While his 2016-17 season was brutal at times, you don’t have to dig into fancy stats to find the only reasons to be excited. Duclair scored 20 goals in 2015-16, his first full season in the NHL, after being involved in the Keith Yandle Rangers trade. His 19-percent shooting percentage indicates there was some luck there, but he was very young, and still is at 22.

Now, the Blackhawks have some problems, and Duclair isn’t the defenseman they likely need the most. There’s also a chance that he’d provide the same production as Panik, as it’s worth doubling back that they’re near equals in at least the simplest stats right now.

Still, there’s an undeniable “nature versus nurture” element to this that could make it very exciting to see how a seemingly more skilled, inarguably younger player might do with more talented people around him. Not to mention a change of pace.

And, hey, at minimum he saves cash-strapped Chicago some money.

You might say Bowman’s back, although he’s been doing this for years.

Also:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

The Buzzer: Panarin, Jones lead late comeback for Blue Jackets

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Player of the night: Artemi Panarin, Columbus Blue Jackets

With five minutes to play on Monday night the Columbus Blue Jackets found themselves facing a 2-0 deficit in Toronto and seemed to be on their way to a tough loss.

Then, out of nowhere, the floodgates opened, they received a pair of quick goals from Jordan Schroeder and Pierre-Luc Dubois to send the game to overtime.

It was in overtime that the Blue Jackets got a goal from Artemi Panarin to complete the comeback and win their second game in a row (by a 3-2 margin) and third in the past four.

It was a big night for Panarin as he finished the game with five shots on goal, a 54 percent Corsi mark, and the overtime winner. The goal is Panarin’s 11th of the season and extends his team lead in scoring. He has been absolutely sensational for the Blue Jackets this season been exactly the sort of game-changing forward they needed.

His goal-scoring is not quite at the same level that it was during his first two seasons in Chicago, but the shot volume and possession numbers are there. Those two factors, combined with the sharp drop in shooting percentage, would seem to indicate he could be due for a big second half goal-wise if a few more bounces go his way.

Player Of The Night, Part Two: Seth Jones, Columbus Blue Jackets

Jones was a workhorse for the Blue Jackets on Monday and he deserves some attention as well. He played a team high 27 minutes (three more minutes than any other skater on the team), attempted nine shots, recorded two assists (including one on the game-winning goal in overtime) and finished as a plus-one. With him and Zach Werenski on the blue line the Blue Jackets’ defense has an outstanding duo that is going to lead that defense for the next eight-to-10 years.

Highlight Of The Night

The overtime winner, of course, as Panarin and Werenski complete the Blue Jackets’ comeback.

Highlight Of The Night, Part Two

Whether he intended to do this, or if it was just a good bounce to get the puck back so quickly, Mitch Marner used the skate of a Blue Jackets player to pass the puck to himself and it looked pretty cool.

Factoid Of The Night

James van Riemsdyk scored his 18th goal of the season in the losing effort. He remains on pace to to set a new career high in goals. His previous career high was 30 during the 2013-14 season. His current pace has him on track to score 34 this season.

Scores

Columbus Blue Jackets 3, Toronto Maple Leafs 2

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

The Buzzer: Penguins torment Torts; another Vegas jackpot

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Players of the Night

  • As discussed here, Riley Nash ranked among the Bruins’ supporting cast members who were marquee stars during Wednesday’s win. He scored two goals and one assist to give Boston five straight wins.
  • The Pittsburgh Penguins continue to torment John Tortorella and the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Artemi Panarin‘s second goal of the game gave Columbus a 4-2 lead midway through the third period, but it wouldn’t hold for Columbus. Evgeni Malkin triggered the comeback, generating one goal and two assists in the third period. Malkin added a shootout goal, making him the biggest catalyst for Pittsburgh’s comeback win. More on that in a moment.

  • There were some other notable performances, including a backup goalie duel featuring two shutouts between the Capitals and Rangers. Nico Hischier scored two goals to help the New Jersey Devils churn out their fifth consecutive win.

Highlights of the Night

Mathew Barzal continues to confound opponents, with this overtime-clincher being his latest stroke of genius:

There was also this nice save by Jake Allen, which wasn’t enough for the Blues against the Predators:

For even more highlight-reel fun, make sure to check out Connor McDavid‘s sweet drop to Leon Draisaitl for a shorthanded goal.

Factoids

Beyond frustrating the Blue Jackets in the playoffs and generally making John Tortorella lose his mind, the Penguins have also befuddled Columbus during the regular season in recent times:

The Vegas Golden Knights set another record for an expansion team, and honestly, the old mark was pretty ugly (sorry, 1993-94 Panthers).

Scores

Bruins 5, Senators 1
Devils 3, Red Wings 1
Islanders 3, Sabres 2 (OT)
Penguins 5, Blue Jackets 4 (SO)
Hurricanes 3, Canadiens 1
Rangers 1, Capitals 0 (SO)
Predators 2, Blues 1
Wild 4, Stars 2
Jets 4, Oilers 3
Coyotes 3, Avalanche 1
Golden Knights 4, Ducks 1

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.