Top players from Tuesday in the NHL
Mitch Marner, Maple Leafs
On Monday, the Maple Leafs fought back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Devils 6-4. Maybe that resonated a day later, because this time it wasn’t even close between the Maple Leafs and Devils.
Thanks in part to a four-point game from Mitch Marner (2G, 2A), the Maple Leafs thumped the Devils 7-1 during the NHL action on Tuesday.
Over these last two Devils – Maple Leafs games alone, Marner’s generated seven points (3G, 4A). That extended Marner’s point and goal streak to seven games (8G, 8A for 16 points). Marner generated multiple points in all but one of the games during this seven-game streak. Yow.
After this hot streak, Marner’s comfortably over a point-per-game this season (14G, 37 points in 33 GP).
Some critics won’t relent about Marner, Matthews, and the Maple Leafs until they make a big playoff run. Considering how likely the Maple Leafs are to draw a Stanley Cup contender in the Lightning or Panthers to open the playoffs, that doesn’t feel totally fair. But it’s the nature of the beast in sports.
For now, though, let’s at least appreciate what Marner and especially Matthews have pulled off this season. One might even argue that they’re probably worth (gasp) more than they’re paid.
NHL highlights from Tuesday
Victor Hedman scored the overtime game-winner for the Lightning against the Sharks:
Leading us to Victor-y. 😏 pic.twitter.com/rDoSNv6Iql
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) February 2, 2022
Nice save from James Reimer to at least help the Sharks earn a “charity point.”
With blistering speed, the Flames shrunk a 3-1 Stars lead to a 3-3 tie. Yet, Oliver Kylington took what could have been a deadly penalty. Instead, the Flames killed it, and then he won the game by finishing this beautiful passing play:
— Mike Pfeil (@mikeFAIL) February 2, 2022
Also, Kylington is really good, so note that his last name is pronounced: CHIH-lihng-tuhn.
Tuesday NHL Takeaways
Kreider-powered Rangers power play too much for the Panthers
Truly, the Rangers – Panthers game from Tuesday might have been a more useful barometer for two teams aiming to solidify themselves as true NHL contenders if there wasn’t a difference in rest. In this case, the Panthers were closing off a back-to-back set after crushing Columbus. The Rangers, meanwhile, had a typical day off between games.
Nonetheless, the Rangers beat the Panthers, in part because of a dangerous power play that went 3-for-5.
Impressively, Chris Kreider collected two of those power-play goals, while also generating an assist.
With that, Kreider reached a whopping 33 goals for the season, the first of his career at 30+ tallies. Of those 33 goals, Kreider’s generated an impressive 17 on the power play. Overall, 23 of Kreider’s 47 points have come on the Rangers’ power play.
In 2020-21, Kreider set now-expired career-highs for PPG (11) and power-play points (14). Obviously, he’s already shattered those marks, largely dominating in a easy-to-say, hard-to-execute way: Kreider is just a menace in those high-danger areas around the net.
While his first power-play goal of the night was more about a beautiful rush opportunity, the second Kreider PPG feels like a clearer example of what he’s been doing:
Just look at his heat map at Hockey Viz, and you’ll see that in another form:
Could the Rangers mix Igor Shesterkin‘s stellar goaltending, a scary power play, and significant top-end talent to make up for their sagging 5-on-5 play? Well, the longer they pull this off, the more plausible it all seems.
As someone who’s monitored Kreider as a good-but-often-snakebitten player, it’s wild to see him on such on a power play bender.
Coyotes at ASU sounds like a ‘nightmare all around’
In case you missed it, Craig Morgan recently reported that the Coyotes were in “advanced” talks to play at Arizona State University’s in-construction arena. Depending upon a number of factors, that building could translate to a hockey capacity anywhere between 3,200 to 5,000.
That’s pretty wild stuff — even by the dismal standards of the Coyotes. Following up on Morgan’s report, the Athletic’s Sean Shapiro caught up with a variety of NHL executives for their reactions to that possibility (sub required).
“Just a nightmare all around,” one executive said of the proposal, according to Shapiro.
Everything about this is embarrassing. Consider Shapiro’s point about how Coyotes sellouts if they play at ASU may compare more to AHL games:
Assuming sellouts, attendance on Arizona State’s campus would be more similar to what’s seen in the AHL. The AHL is averaging 4,214 fans per game this season, ranging from the Hershey Bears (7,389) to the Stockton Heat (1,345).
Such a setup could translate to a massive drain on Hockey Related Revenue, posing potential salary cap problems, escrow challenges, and more.
If your response is “OK, is it finally the time for the NHL to cut their losses with the Coyotes?” then you’ll need to tolerate the rest of us laugh-crying. You see, this situation may never end, and could perpetually challenge the concept of “rock bottom.”
Gotta keep that market going in Arizona, though.
Wednesday’s big story
After facing Crosby’s Penguins, Ovechkin and the Capitals take on McDavid’s Oilers
While Crosby played well (two assists), Ovechkin saw a small cold streak (four pointless games despite 20 shots on goal) continue. In that one, Ilya Samsonov made the bigger difference. Samsonov made 43 saves after Vitek Vanecek exited the Penguins – Capitals game with an injury.
When it comes to Ovechkin and Connor McDavid, struggles are relative. Ovechkin firing plenty of shots on goal hints at an explosion down the line. These things just tend to happen for snipers.
By his lofty standards, McDavid has been slightly cooler lately. After generating 20 points in 13 November games and 16 in 11 December contests, McDavid “only” produced seven points in nine January contests.
Could McDavid and Ovechkin really break free in the same Capitals – Oilers game? Just about any reasonable fan certainly wouldn’t mind witnessing that.
NHL scores from Tuesday
Bruins 3, Kraken 2
Lightning 3, Sharks 2 (OT)
Maple Leafs 7, Devils 1
Rangers 5, Panthers 2
Flyers 3, Jets 1
Capitals 4, Penguins 3 (OT)
Islanders 4, Senators 1
Predators 4, Canucks 2
Flames 4, Stars 3
Coyotes 3, Avalanche 2 (SO)
Golden Knights 5, Sabres 2