Players of the Night
- With Nikita Kucherov and Patrice Bergeron hurt, there’s increasing talk about the Hart Trophy bonafides of other impressive players such as Taylor Hall and even Eric Staal.
Those are nice choices, but Wednesday provided the latest convenient reminder that Nathan MacKinnon shouldn’t be lost in the shuffle, even after missing a handful of games with injury issues.
The speedy Colorado Avalanche star helped his team win a key game in regulation against the Calgary Flames tonight. In doing so, MacKinnon scored one goal and one assist, pushing his already-career-high season points total to 71. He’s nearing his first 30-goal campaign, as this makes for his 29th. N0t bad for a forward whose shooting skill was genuinely – and honestly, fairly – questioned, eh?
MacKinnon’s 71 points come in 55 games, which translates to 1.29 points-per-game. During an 82-game season, that would translate to about 106 points. The one convenient thing about his injury is that it showed that how the Avs would operate without him (spoiler: not nearly as well).
He’s really been asserting his will lately, too. During his previous two-goal, one assist performance, he fired nine shots on goal. Tonight he generated eight. In scoring five goals and five assists for 10 points in his last five games, he’s fired 31 SOG. Dominant stuff.
- One long-standing Ranger and one newcomer deserve consideration.
The holdover is Henrik Lundqvist, who exhaustingly made 50 saves – most in regulation – to help the Rangers with in overtime. He couldn’t hold off Brock Boeser (two goals), Bo Horvat (one goal, two assists), and the Canucks in every instance, but he was the reason why they won.
That said, Ryan Spooner is off to a tremendous start with the Rangers. After generating two assists in his debut with the Rangers, he generated three helpers on Wednesday, including an assist on the OT-clincher.
- Solid nights in victory for Jason Pominville and Jonathan Drouin, who both notched a goal and an assist. Pominville’s goal secured an overtime upset for Buffalo over Tampa Bay.
Highlights and lowlights
Speaking of Spooner, here’s that OT-winner he set up for John Gilmour:
Johnny Gaudreau probably deserves to get more mentions in MVP talk, as well, but not for nights like Wednesday. On the bright side, he piled up PIM and provided this GIF-friendly reaction.
Then again, it’s a stealth highlight considering the fact that he’d avoided a serious injury from Sam Bennett‘s misplaced skate blade:
Perhaps we should call them the Buffalo Spoilers?
If you have issues with Lundqvist allowing five goals but getting recognition, maybe this will help soothe such concerns:
If not, well …
Canadiens 3, Islanders 1
Sabres 2, Lightning 1 (OT)
Blues 2, Red Wings 1
Avalanche 5, Flames 2
Rangers 6, Canucks 5 (OT)