NHL Rink Wrap: 500 goals for Crosby; Toffoli scores in Flames debut

NHL Rink Wrap: 500 goals for Crosby; Toffoli scores in Flames debut
Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

Top players from Tuesday in the NHL

Blues line of Buchnevich, Tarasenko, Thomas

Some nights, cellar-dwelling teams are just going to get thumped by playoff fixtures. That theme may really carry over into the East, where there’s a considerable gulf between the top eight and everyone else.

And so it was between the reasonably promising Blues and the bit-late-on-those-promises Senators during the NHL games on Tuesday.

Vladimir Tarasenko (2G, 1A), Pavel Buchnevich (3A), and Robert Thomas (1G, 2A) all generated three points apiece in a dominant performance by the Blues. With that, Tarasenko now leads the Blues in points 44, while Buchnevich is third (41), behind All-Star standout Jordan Kyrou (43). With 36 points, Robert Thomas isn’t far behind in fourth, either.

Quite a luxury when it’s not the end of the world that Ryan O'Reilly is still productive (31 points in 43 games) but perhaps just a beat behind his normal rhythm. While they won’t sit atop the Power Rankings, it seems like it would be foolish to dismiss the Blues outright.

Tuesday NHL highlights

Sidney Crosby reached 500 career NHL regular-season goals, and did so against the Philadelphia Flyers. Tough to beat that.

As well as things have played out for the Rangers this season, imagine if they kept Pavel Buchnevich:

Elias Lindholm intercepted an ill-fated pass, then Matthew Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau pulled off a splendid give-and-go resulting in a Tkachuk goal. It seemed like the Flames wouldn’t really need much from Tyler Toffoli in his debut.

… But, uh, he scored a beautiful goal anyway. He’s developing quite the knack for strong first impressions. What a saucy finish:

Tuesday NHL Takeaways

Sidney Crosby reaches 500 career NHL goals milestone vs. Flyers

In a nice bonus touch, Sportsnet collected some of the most memorable/noteworthy goals as Sidney Crosby reached 500:

Normally, Crosby is known for obsessing a bit over the numbers 8 and 7. Maybe that focus on numerology adds extra flavor to Sidney Crosby hitting 500 goals.

Tyler Toffoli debuts for Calgary Flames

Personally, the early highlight of Tyler Toffoli joining the Flames is realizing that he wasn’t just teammates with Milan Lucic, but the two clearly really hit it off. Some of this stuff is just downright wholesome.

Between Lucic and former Kings coach Darryl Sutter, the Flames have pieces in place to make Toffoli’s transition to Calgary more comfortable. Apparently, it goes further than that, as NHL.com’s Nicholas J. Cotsonika notes:

  • Other former-Kings, now-Flames teammates for Toffoli also include Trevor Lewis and Brad Richardson.
  • There are also some Flames players who briefly played with Toffoli when he was a Canucks “rental” in Jacob Markstrom and Chris Tanev. Markstrom joked to Cotsonika that he’s relieved that Toffoli won’t score on him anymore.

“I think everybody’s fired up,” Markstrom said. “Everybody knows what kind of player he is. He’s a goal-scorer everywhere he goes, and I’m happy because he usually always scores on me, and he’s been doing it his whole career.”

Early insight, including linemates in Toffoli debut

Columbus Blue Jackets v Calgary Flames
(Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images)

During his Flames debut, Tyler Toffoli lined up with Sean Monahan and Dillon Dubé.

As you can see in the highlights, Toffoli scored a tremendous goal late in his debut. It’s a reminder of how opportunistic he can be.

But the Flames are likely most excited about how versatile he is. Maybe Toffoli could boost other lines, being that Elias Lindholm, Matthew Tkachuk, and Johnny Gaudreau generate most of the offense?

While Toffoli wasn’t on the ice for it, Dubé broke a goal slump with a shorthanded goal. Maybe that goal, and playing with Toffoli, might ignite Monahan and/or Dubé?

In time, it might end up wiser to swap Tyler Toffoli with Blake Coleman or Andrew Mangiapane on Mikael Backlund‘s line. Or maybe you’d even want to experiment by injecting Toffoli into the top line, especially if it seems like teams are keying on Gaudreau and Tkachuk?

There may not be many truly “wrong” answers. For much of this season, the Flames have been scary even with some depth issues. If Toffoli gives middle-six forwards a big boost, then watch out.

Golden Knights shoot down Fleury trade rumors with Lehner injured

As you’ll see in Wednesday’s big story, plenty of the hockey world’s eyes will be glued on Golden Knights vs. Avalanche, assuming Jack Eichel doesn’t have any hiccups heading into his return. Clearly, that would have already been a big deal.

But, in keeping with the tradition of there rarely being a dull moment with the Golden Knights, there’s more.

Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli reported that Robin Lehner‘s upper-body injury might be a torn labrum that may require shoulder surgery. According to Seravalli’s sources, it’s unclear if Lehner can play through that shoulder injury and finish this season.

The rumbling was that this would prompt the Golden Knights to trade for Marc-Andre Fleury. Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon felt the need to shoot down the Marc-Andre Fleury trade rumors publicly, though.

Spicy.

Perhaps they never asked. Or maybe a price couldn’t be hashed out to trade Marc-Andre Fleury back to the Golden Knights. But, if we are to believe McCrimmon, then a fascinating reunion won’t happen.

(Granted, perhaps he could make the move, then say, “well, suddenly an opportunity opened up.”)

Either way, the Golden Knights may be wise to at least ponder the goalie trade market around the NHL deadline. Lehner’s numbers haven’t been all-world really since he joined the Golden Knights, and Laurent Brossoit‘s stats are similar. With all the Golden Knights have invested in winning big in the short-term, perhaps it would be wise to aim for insurance, like Jaroslav Halak?

Wednesday’s big story

Jack Eichel expected to make Golden Knights debut, and the bonus is that it’s vs. the Avalanche

Considering the unprecedented neck surgery Jack Eichel underwent, it’s best to leave a little bit of leeway. There’s always the chance that Eichel might tap the breaks and not debut for the Golden Knights against the Avalanche on Wednesday.

Yet, all signs point to it happening. If so, that’s grab-your-popcorn stuff.

Honestly, with this being the dog days of the NHL schedule, it’s that much more delightful to happen upon a must-see game. Ideally, both the Avalanche and Golden Knights play a high-tempo, high-drama contest.

Most ideally, here’s hoping Jack Eichel looks like the Jack Eichel we’re used to seeing, both in this return and going forward.

NHL scores from Tuesday

Rangers 2, Bruins 1 (SO)
Penguins 5, Flyers 4 (OT)
Sabres 6, Islanders 3
Lightning 6, Devils 3
Blues 5, Senators 2
Capitals 4, Predators 1
Flames 6, Blue Jackets 2
Stars 4, Avalanche 1
Oilers 5, Kings 2

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.

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