3 Stars for Tuesday in the NHL
1. Artemi Panarin, New York Rangers
After scoring four points (1G, 3A) on Tuesday, Artemi Panarin now has 40 points in just 27 games. That’s a 1.48 point-per-game rate. If you translated that output to an 82-game season, Panarin would be on pace for 121-122 points.
That’s an even better run than Panarin enjoyed in drawing plenty of Hart Trophy buzz last season. In 2019-20, Panarin scored 95 points in 69 games, or about a 1.38 point-per-game pace.
When we look back on which players might see their legacy dinged in subtle ways because of the pandemic disruptions, Panarin might be up there. You could easily argue he’s put together two 100-point-like seasons, but will need to play at a high level in the future to ever actually reach that frontier.
Credit Panarin for being worth every bit of his $11.64 million AAV, and probably quite a bit more. Being that the 29-year-old’s contract runs through 2025-26, maybe there will come a time when people gripe about that cap hit.
Part of the logic of big contracts is about getting that early bang for the buck. The key will be for the Rangers to improve around Panarin while he’s still an elite player.
After the Rangers’ 8-4 win over the Penguins, and strong play basically since March, it’s easier and easier to imagine that window being open during Panarin’s peak. Most obviously, Adam Fox is already there, and his three points added to his Norris argument.
(Fox also has an argument to be one of the three stars of the NHL for Tuesday. Let’s consider Fox’s argument part of Panarin’s, though.)
But if Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko can start to build confidence, look out.
2. Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins
Really, the top star of Tuesday in the NHL comes down to a debate between a handful of players, including Panarin vs. Brad Marchand/Patrice Bergeron.
Like Panarin, Brad Marchand generating four points. Panarin gets the hair-splitting difference because Marchand’s fourth point came via an assist on an empty-netter.
Patrice Bergeron scored that empty-netter, completing a hat trick. Bergeron reached an impressive NHL milestone on Tuesday, as he crossed the 900-point barrier (902 points in 1,125 games).
If you recall how concussions marred the early part of Bergeron’s career, the 1,125 regular season games played (and 149 playoff contests) become that much more impressive. The 900 points serve as a reminder that the Selke magnet has been a heck of an offensive talent, too.
3. Semyon Varlamov, New York Islanders
Islanders – Capitals turned into quite a goalie duel, and if you don’t weigh the W too heavily, maybe you’d choose Semyon Varlamov’s opponent, Vitek Vanecek (38 saves, one goal allowed) as one of the three stars of Tuesday in the NHL. Among others, John Gibson provided some competition for the best goalie of Tuesday in the NHL, making 34 stops.
But earning a shutout, and a win* is something.
Varlamov pitched a 29-save shutout, allowing Brock Nelson‘s goal to stand as the game-winner. This marks the fourth shutout of the season for Varlamov, 32, who notched two shutouts in three straight seasons with Colorado. (He only managed nine over his past five campaigns.)
With Ilya Sorokin also rounding into form lately, the Islanders look like they have a reliable goalie duo. Again. That Barry Trotz fellow’s an OK coach.
* – Thanks to quirks like a shutout leading to a shootout loss, they aren’t necessarily guaranteed to go together. Granted, that doesn’t happen often, but …
Highlights from Tuesday in the NHL: Bergeron, Panarin dominate
Watch Patrice Bergeron score a hat trick and cross the 900-point barrier:
Panarin and the Rangers produced a slew of highlights while beating the Penguins 8-4:
Scary, sometimes bloody moments for Kunin, Carrick
The Predators squeezed out a shootout win vs. the Red Wings, but they’re continuing to get banged up. Luke Kunin took a puck to his ear (gah!) in what had to be an extremely painful moment, and Dante Fabbro ended up hurt too.
Meanwhile, Jeffrey Viel bloodied Sam Carrick during their fight:
Tuesday’s NHL scores
Penguins 8, Rangers 4
Sabres 5, Devils 3
Islanders 1, Capitals 0
Bruins 4, Flyers 2
Hurricanes 5, Panthers 2
Blue Jackets 4, Lightning 2
Predators 3, Red Wings 2 (SO)
Blackhawks 4, Stars 2
Ducks 5, Sharks 1
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.