WHAT DA PUCK

2023-03-09 · 4 min read · NHL/Hockey
Connor McDavid, Dawson Mercer and David Pastrnak

Perry Nelson/USA TODAY Sports | Shamus/Getty Images

Hello dear readers, sorry for the delay in this week's What Da Puck. I have been on the shelf with an LBI, and my face swelled to the point I was mistaken for Sid the Kid when he had the mumps. Let’s get into it.
1.
New Jersey Devils youngster Dawson Mercer set a franchise record last week, by potting goals in eight consecutive games starting on Feb 16th against the St Louis Blues and ending March 5th against Arizona. This tied the young forward with Paul Gardener (1977-78, who technically did it for the Colorado Rockies) for the most consecutive goals in New Jersey Devils history. The 21-year-old fell a game short of tying Wayne Gretzky's mark for the longest goal streak by a player 21 or younger when Gretzky had a nine-game goal streak for the Edmonton Oilers in 1981-82.
Mike Bossy (1978-79), Mike Gartner (1979-80), Gardner, Ron Flockhart (1981-82) and Stan Mikita (1960-61) are the only other 21 and under players to score in eight straight games, so Mercer has set himself up in some elite company. The sophomore scorer had 15 points (10 goals) during his eight-game streak, and he is up to 46 points in 63 games this year, surpassing his rookie totals of 17 goals and 42 points in 82 games.
Mercer is one of the many reasons for the Devils' massive improvement this year, one which has found them among the elite teams in the NHL. The Devils currently sit third in the league with 88 points and sport the second-best goal differential at +58. 
2.
While we are talking about goal streaks, you’ve probably already guessed what I’m going to say, circle back once again on phenom Connor McDavid. Where should we start this week? Perhaps with McDavid becoming the fifth-ever player to score at least two goals in five consecutive games. The Edmonton Oilers captain joined Joe Malone (1921), Punch Broadbent (1922), Mario Lemieux (1988), and Alexander Mogilny (1993), as the only players to accomplish this prolific mark.
More was needed for McDavid, as he set another Oilers record this week passing the great one himself Wayne Gretzky for the most power-play points in a single season with 58. McDavid managed this impressive feat by setting up teammate Leon Draisaitl in the second period against the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday. Mario Lemieux has the NHL record for power-play points in a season with 80 in the 1987-88 season, but given the Oilers have the league's best powerplay mark with a 31.7%, McDavid has a shot at challenging Lemieux for that record; he will almost definitely pass Sidney Crosby for the most among active players with 61.
Lastly (likely until next week) McDavid also became the first player since Adam Oates (1989-1994) to record three straight 70-assist seasons, on the same pass he set the Oilers' new franchise power play points mark. Given how hot he is right now, riding an 11-game point streak with points in 26 of his last 27 games, it's only fair to wonder what will he do next.
3.
While we are talking about NHL records, how about them Boston Bruins? The Beantown Boys became the fastest team in NHL history to reach 100 points by beating the Buffalo Sabres 7-1 last Thursday night. Boston improved to 48-8-5 in its 61st game, besting the Montreal team from 1976-77 that reached 100 points in 62 games (they are now 49-8-5).
The Bruins are on pace to surpass the same Canadiens club for most points (132) in a season. They are also likely to challenge for the NHL record for wins in a season, which is 62 held by the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings and 2018-19 Tampa Bay Lightning. Thursday was quite a day for the Bruins, as the victory over Buffalo was the cherry on top after Boston picked up Tyler Bertuzzi from the Red Wings and signed superstar David Pastrnak to an eight-year 90-million-dollar extension. Pastrnak sits second in goals this season with 44 and fourth in points with 84 in 62 games this season, putting the Czech winger on pace to pass 50 goals and 100 points for the first time in his NHL career. Bertuzzi meanwhile was gushed over by Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery, in particular as a quality fill-in for injured wingers Taylor Hall and Nick Foligno, who was placed on long-term injured reserve and regular IR, respectively. Hall and Foligno are unlikely to return before the end of the regular season, which was seemingly the reason that only a week before, the Bruins also picked up Dmitry Orlov and Garnet Hathaway from the Washington Capitals.
Orlov has been scorching for Boston, with nine points in five games since joining the team. I think my sentiment about this team is best surmised by something Montgomery said in a press conference after the game; “We're going to be a tough out come the playoffs”.
Quick Wristers
  • Long-time Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar had a four-goal game on Wednesday against the Winnipeg Jets. It was the second four-goal game in Kopitar's 17 NHL seasons (March 22, 2018, 7-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche). The Slovenian native tied a Kings record with his second four-goal game, which 15 different Kings players have done 21 times; he did however become the oldest King to score four goals in a game. Kopitar is second in Kings scoring with 58 points in 65 games this season, he is on pace for his highest total since he scored 92 in the 17-18 campaign.
  • Some bad news for the Toronto Maple Leafs (who feel prone to it this time of year) as newly acquired forward Ryan O’Reilly suffered a broken finger Saturday against the Vancouver Canucks and will be placed on long-term injured reserve. The 2019 Selke, Conn Smythe, and Stanley Cup winner was Toronto's prized addition ahead of the NHL trade deadline and had recorded three goals and a pair of assists in eight games since joining the Maple Leafs. The Leafs expect O'Reilly to return to the lineup before the playoffs, as LTIR requires a player to miss at least 10 games and 24 days, so the earliest he could return is March 29 against the Florida Panthers.
  • Tampa Bay Lightning stars Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov were benched for the third period of the Tampa Bay Lightning's loss to the Buffalo Sabres Saturday. Coach Jon Cooper said he didn't feel the three forwards were giving Tampa Bay the best chance to win after they trailed 4-1 after two periods. Each of the three forwards lapsed in defensive-zone coverage at some point on the three Buffalo goals in the second period. The three forwards are Tampa Bay's top three scorers this season, Kucherov is third in league scoring with 91 points. Asked whether benching the forwards sends a message to his team, Cooper said that is a question for the players. Despite being fifth in the league in points so far with 81, the Lighting is 3-5-2 in their last ten games, third in their division, and have fallen behind in what was previously a neck-and-neck race for home ice advantage in their impending playoff Series with Toronto.
Highlights of the week
Necas northbound and down
Good grabbing Grubauer
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By: Chase Howard

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