The Wraparound: Mark Stone cementing superstar status during playoffs
The Wraparound is your daily look at the 2021 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. We’ll break down the NHL playoff games today with the all-important television and live streaming information included.
• Will the Canadiens learn of their next playoff opponent? That hinges on whether the Golden Knights win Game 6, or the Avalanche push that exciting series to a Game 7.
• The Islanders knocked out the Bruins in Game 6 and will face the Lightning in the Stanley Cup Semifinals.
It would be silly to call Mark Stone a well-kept secret.
Sure, people took a while to realize just how great a two-way player Mark Stone is. Yet, by the time the Senators were auctioning him off -- eventually to the Golden Knights -- the larger hockey world clued in that he was very good.
But maybe not everyone realized that Stone is truly in the upper echelon of NHL forwards. Perhaps the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs will complete that coronation?
Sometimes big moments help to convert those last few stragglers.
If so, Stone evangelized loudest in Game 5 OT, as he impressively blocked a shot and then maximized his not-so-impressive wheels for a beautiful goal.
Again, it shouldn’t take a beautiful goal like that to turn on those last, stubborn light bulbs. But that mixture of hard work and high skill might summarize Stone’s value as much as his work jumps off of spreadsheets.
“That was vintage Mark Stone because he blocked a shot on our end of the ice first, and then got the breakaway and stuck it into the net with a perfect shot,” Peter DeBoer said after Game 5. “If there’s one sequence of plays that kind of defines him, that would be it. Willing to do the grunt work and dirty work around our net, defensively, then obviously the big play to win it for us.”
If the Golden Knights get their way, Mark Stone might parallel Ryan O’Reilly in 2018-19.
By then, most people realized Ryan O’Reilly was something special. After all, he was nominated for (and then won) the Selke Trophy for his 2018-19 regular season.
But ROR’s mainstream recognition roared between that Selke nomination and collecting that trophy. In helping the Blues break their Stanley Cup curse, O’Reilly cemented his Selke status by limiting the opposition, and he was also rewarded with the 2019 Conn Smythe Trophy.
Mark Stone still faces plenty of big hurdles before he can walk the same path O’Reilly once did. Plenty would argue that winning one more game against MacKinnon and the Avalanche is still the biggest lingering challenge.
Either way, though, there’s really no excuse not to include Mark Stone among the NHL’s best all-around players.
THURSDAY’S NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE
Game 6: Avalanche at Golden Knights, 9 p.m. ET (VGK leads 3-2) - NBCSN (livestream)