Player of the Night: Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets
The Senators’ struggles dominated this post about Winnipeg beating them 5-0, but the bigger takeaway might be the reminder that the Jets are indeed for real.
It’s not just the Jets or even Patrik Laine who deserve more attention; their captain Blake Wheeler is long overdue for his moment in the spotlight. The Minnesota native moved to fourth place in NHL scoring with 35 points on the season thanks to a goal and three assists on Sunday.
Wheeler, 31, has been especially hot lately. Even with one pointless night mixed in, Wheeler has produced 10 points (two goals, eight assists) in his past four games. Wheeler – Mark Scheifele continues to rise among the NHL’s deadliest duos, with Sunday being a big part of that argument.
Runner up: Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars
Seguin, meanwhile, isn’t sneaking up on anyone … except the Colorado Avalanche, perhaps?
Either way, I have to admit in looking things over, I thought “Wow, Seguin already has 14 goals now?” That’s after Seguin collected two goals in Dallas’ 7-2 victory against Colorado.
Note that Seguin’s career-high is 37 goals, a mark that he’s reached twice. So far, his 14 goals come in 27 games, a pace that’s slighter better than a tally every two nights. If he can play 82 games and maintain that pace, Seguin could enjoy a career-high and maybe break the 40-goal barrier for the first time in his career.
Considering his talents, it’s almost surprising that it might take this long.
Other top highlights
Not going to fight you if you prefer Seguin’s goals, but here are some other candidates.
Alex Tuch might just find himself a firm place in Vegas, as he scored a slightly prettier goal in regulation than Reilly Smith did to win it for the Golden Knights in OT:
Nathan MacKinnon‘s mixture of anxiety-inducing twitchiness and cool, precise timing + Mikko Rantanen‘s great finish = another beauty:
Factoids of the Night
The Golden Knights have long defied “for an expansion team,” yet it’s still fun to keep tabs on which records they’re tying, breaking, or approaching.
A highly #specificstat regarding Wheeler:
(OK, the last image wasn’t from Sunday, but you can’t say that you regret seeing it, can you? Oh, sorry, Oilers fans.)
Kings 3, Blackhawks 1
Jets 5, Senators 0
Stars 7, Avalanche 2
Golden Knights 3, Coyotes 2 (OT)
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.