Hello everybody, I hope you enjoyed the All-Star break as much as I did. I'm thrilled to welcome you back to What Da Puck I missed ya last week, let's get into it.
Since our last check-in Matthew Tkachuk has been having the time of his life. From getting to play with his brother, in front of his parents at the All-Star game, in his team's home city no less. To winning the All-Star game MVP with an outstanding performance and putting up seven points in the two games including a hat trick in the semi-finals. Now since the All-Star break ended and we have returned to regular NHL action, he’s continued to be one of the deadliest players in the league. Tkachuk had five points in his first game back from the break, a win over the always tough state rivals Tampa Bay. Overall, the 25-year-old is firmly on pace to smash his career high of 104 points set last season, plus his team has won 3 of their 4 games since coming back from the all-star festivities. The Panthers are now a point back of the Penguins for the last wild card spot. If you are a Panthers fan who wasn't sure about the Tkachuk deal in the summer you should be by now, you got a superstar.
While we are checking in, let's see how it is going so far for the two major assets we have seen moved to this point, Bo Horvat and Vladimir Tarasenko; we will spend more time on Horvat since that deal has had some time to develop. Horvat has fit right in with the New York Islanders, scoring three goals and four points in his four games with them, including one against the team he was captain of two weeks ago
. The 27-year-old has been a great addition centring the Isles top line and first powerplay unit, both of which needed an offensive infusion. Clearly something worked well here, as the Islanders saw fit to reward Horvat’s arrival with a large 8 year, 68-million-dollar deal, with an 8.5 million dollar cap hit. A deal that I don't hate, but I have some issues with. They are ironically best summed up by the very man who signed him to the deal, Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello
. I got to remark that Lou saying that genuinely made me laugh out loud. In conclusion the Islanders certainly have improved immediately, but only time will tell if this deal will come back to haunt them. Shifting to Tarasenko, the New York Rangers have also seen some immediate returns on their new star as the Russian winger found the twine only a few minutes into his first game as a Ranger. Tarasenko has been playing on the first line and with the second power play unit so far. The Rangers look like they are getting exactly what they wanted from Tarasenko and they didn't give up much to get him; nor have they signed him to a long-term contract. Overall this feels like a high reward low risk move for New York, the only problem being they are now pressed up against the cap.
Speaking of the New York Rangers there is an issue facing them right now, but it doesn't have much if anything to do with Tarasenko or the trade that acquired him. It surrounds Rangers blue liner and captain Jacob Trouba. Recently in a game against the Calgary Flames Trouba dropped the mitts twice. While that is not an issue, at least for this hockey fan the circumstances that surrounded it are. Trouba laid out
Dillion Dube, then got challenged to drop the gloves by Chris Tanev directly after. Following this in the next period Trouba rocked Nazem Kadri's world
, following which he got challenged by none other than Dube who proceeded to get dropped again by Trouba. Now I might be overreacting here but that pisses me off because both of these were good clean hits. Trouba is a tone setter for the Rangers, on top of this he is their captain and likely most valuable defenseman not named Adam Fox, him spending ten minutes in the box for two huge but clean hits does not seem right. This is not the first time this has happened as Trouba, deserved or not, has a reputation as a fearsome hitter and in some circles a dirty one. While he may have a few questionable hits to his name (the Crosby hit from last year's playoffs comes to mind), he does not seem to be a dirty player nor trying to injure anybody. Despite this he gets challenged to drop the gloves for a lot of good hits and people make comments like Andreas Athanasiou calling him an 8 million-dollar zero goal man back in December; after Trouba sent him sprawling
. I have no problem with guys defending their teammates or stars, especially after a cheap shot. With Trouba though, it feels like he has been mislabeled and every time he lays somebody out, as is part of his game, there's a fight or a comment; ultimately Trouba often seems to be resented or looked down upon. This should not be the case, players should react like Kadri (a known class act) who said “Good hit. I took it like a man, got right back up, dusted myself off and away you go”. Trouba is part of the dying breed of hard-nosed hard-hitting shutdown defenseman, and that needs to be respected not despised.
- The NHL had two four goal games in the past week, props to Artemi Panarin and Adrian Kempe of the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings respectively. For those keeping track at home Panarin added an assist to make it his fourth five-point game. The bread man has nine points (four goals, five assists) during a four-game point streak. Kempe meanwhile scored his four goals consecutively becoming just the seventh player in the past 30 years to score four straight goals.
- Jacob Chychrun was a healthy scratch for two straight games and apparently will stay on the pine as the Coyotes attempt to find a trade partner for the reportedly discontent defenceman. Head coach Andre Tourigny praised Chychrun while saying this is likely to continue. Chychrun, the No. 16 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, has played his entire seven-season NHL career for the Coyotes. He has 170 points (60 goals, 110 assists) in 373 games, including 28 points (seven goals, 21 assists) in 36 games this season. He did not play his first game until Nov. 21, Chychrun has two seasons remaining on his current contract, at a 4.6 million cap hit.
- Former Los Angeles Kings captain Dustin Brown was honoured this week as the Kings not only retired his No. 23 on Saturday, they also revealed a statue of his likeness raising the Stanley Cup. Adding to the honour the Stanley Cup itself was brought out for Brown to raise it one last time. Brown played in all 92 Stanley Cup Playoff games the Kings participated in during his 18 seasons in the NHL despite his physical approach to the game. He put up 49 points in those games including a playoff leading 20 when the Kings won the cup in 2012.
Highlights of the week
McDavid finding new ways to embarrass people
JVR doing a little double dipping
Ok this isn’t from this week, but given the third blurb it seems right as you got to keep your head up for the Trouba train