NHL Rink Wrap: Explosive night from Marchment and the Panthers
Top players from Monday in the NHL
Panthers line of Mason Marchment, Anton Lundell, Sam Reinhart
Like a cat after it finally stops toying with its prey, there’s a lot to digest from the Panthers dropping an 8-4 blowout on the Blue Jackets. Scroll for broader thoughts, but let’s focus on the trio of Marchment, Lundell, and Reinhart.
Coming into the NHL action on Monday, Mason Marchment was quietly offering an impressive breakthrough season (17 points in 20 games). Marchment extended point and goal streaks to four games, so he’s on a longer tear.
Well, if people didn’t notice already, they can’t look away now. Marchment dropped a ridiculous six points (2G, 4A) as the Panthers pummelled the Blue Jackets.
Many of the tweets surrounding this stunner focus on how unexpected a six-point game was for Marchment. There’s some truth to that.
But he played merely his 58th NHL game on Monday. Marchment now has 23 points in 21 games this season, with 12 coming during this four-game streak. After the game, Marchment said he’s just “riding the wave.”
Yet, for Panthers opponents, the fear is: what if the Panthers found another weapon in this line?
Reinhart and Lundell
Some nuggets about Sam Reinhart and Anton Lundell, too:
- With a hat trick and an assist, some might tab Reinhart as the Panthers (and NHL) player of Monday night, instead. Either way, this surge pushes Reinhart to exactly a point per game (43 in 43). Maintaining that pace may be unlikely, but Reinhart’s in a strong position to top his Sabres career-high of 65 points from 2018-19. If the Panthers found something special here, the Panthers could theoretically throw three dangerous lines (each line headed by Reinhart, Jonathan Huberdeau, and Aleksander Barkov) at opponents. Yikes.
- After this explosive game where Anton Lundell loaded up with five assists, he might jump from stealth Calder candidate to a more serious threat. If nothing else, Lundell is now tied with Trevor Zegras (32 points, both in 42 games) for second in rookie scoring.
NHL highlights from Monday
Six points for Marchment, hat trick + assist for Reinhart, five helpers for Lundell -- maybe we should just soak in the full highlights from that 8-4 Panthers win?
Auston Matthews nabbed his fifth career hat trick, and the Maple Leafs stormed back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Devils 6-4. Here’s that hatty:
Quite a night for Tim Stützle, who got into a fight and scored his first career overtime goal:
Monday NHL Takeaways
NHL revises COVID protocol
Read up for the full details here. The biggest change is that the NHL will no longer require daily COVID testing for “fully vaccinated individuals.”
This Panthers team could make some nights ugly (especially for bad teams)
You don’t have to be a bad team for the Florida Panthers to light up the scoreboard against you.
Just to name a few games: the Panthers beat the Lightning 9-3, the Flames 6-2, and the Stars 7-1.
Even so, teams that are tanking (or just bad) could be especially vulnerable to the relentless Panthers as this season winds down. That certainly seems to be the case for the bad (but at times not as bad as expected?) Columbus Blue Jackets.
Earlier this season, the Panthers clobbered the Blue Jackets 9-2. (That actually closed out a back-to-back set where the Panthers first blew out the Stars 7-1. Yes, that’s two wins by a combined score of 16-3 in back-to-back games.)
In this latest blowout, the Panthers scored seven goals against the Blue Jackets during the first two periods alone before ultimately winning 8-4.
Heading into the NHL action on Monday, the Panthers already joined the Avalanche as the two teams in the league averaging more than four goals per game.
While the West playoff picture has room to change, it’s tough to imagine any of the East’s non-playoff teams changing their fates. So that could really open the door for more Panthers blowouts.
The goofier the 2022 NHL All-Star Skills idea, the better?
When I first heard about hockey blackjack and an elaborate Bellagio Fountains mini-game at the 2022 NHL All-Star Skills competition, I thought “that sounds dumb.” But after seeing what it may look like, and searching my memories, I recalled something important: the best All-Star moments are almost universally dopey.
So sign me up, at least for one round of “hockey blackjack” and, uh, the NHL Fountain Faceoff.
Actually, while we’re at it, let me dust off an old and obvious take. Just get rid of the actual NHL All-Star Game itself, and double down on dopey and great skills competitions.
Over the last decade-plus, the skills stuff comprises almost all of our favorite NHL All-Star memories, aside from the occasional outlier like John Scott laughing at Patrick Kane being booed, checking Patrick Kane, and winning the MVP.
Wild sign Jordan Greenway to three-year extension
Let’s play another game of first thought, then upon further reflection.
At first glance, the Wild can’t really afford to pay a role player (even a big fellow of a role player) like Jordan Greeway $3M per year right in the thick of their looming salary cap crunch, can they? My instinct is that they should try to be as flexible as possible, which means aiming to find value at depth positions.
Otherwise, they risk being inefficient in ways not unlike the Edmonton Oilers. If things fall the wrong way, Greenway could be a younger version of Zack Kassian, at least from a value perspective.
The rumored Greenway extension is why I don't care about "maintaining cap flexibility three years down the road" as an excuse for keeping Marco Rossi down. If the cap flexibility is spent inefficiently - and it almost always is - of what use is it in the first place?— Tony of the USS HockeyWilderness.com (@OhHiTony) January 31, 2022
Fascinatingly, the deeper you dive with Greenway, the murkier his value to the Wild gets. Even beyond Greenway being a “character.”
Some models view Greenway as a beneficiary of time with Joel Eriksson Ek and Marcus Foligno ...
... While by other metrics, the Wild might be getting a bargain in Greenway.
It should be really interesting to see how the Wild and others view that Greenway extension down the road. Being that he’s merely 24, at least there’s not much reason to worry about the “aging curve.”
Tuesday’s big story
Dust off the Sidney Crosby - Alex Ovechkin rivalry
Look, it would be silly to act like Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin are just hanging on. Instead, they remain among the best at their positions, and thus figure to put on a great show on Tuesday. It’s not “victory lap” or “last dance” time.
But we may not see many other times when all of these things are clicking at once:
- Ovechkin is absolutely, incredibly, in the Hart Trophy conversation.
- Sidney Crosby remains among the elite, too (GAR chart via Evolving Hockey):
- Both the Penguins and Capitals look like clear playoff teams.
Look, Crosby, Ovechkin, the Penguins, and Capitals have all stayed relevant longer than some expected. It’s possible that both players could age like Hockey Tom Brady, and their teams could keep finding ways to win.
Yet, I’d recommend that you cherish every prominent Crosby + Penguins vs. Ovechkin + Capitals showdown we have left. Even if it’s easy to take those two for granted because they just keep delivering.
NHL scores from Monday
Panthers 8, Blue Jackets 4
Senators 3, Oilers 2 (OT)
Red Wings 2, Ducks 1 (OT)
Canucks 3, Blackhawks 1
Maple Leafs 6, Devils 4