Friday, April 19, 2024
spot_img

NHL Star Power Index: Avalanche’s Nathan MacKinnon pacing the league, Panthers’ Sam Reinhart still dominating

Welcome to the NHL Star Power Index: A weekly gauge of the players who are controlling substantial buzz around the league. When a player is included on this list it may not be a good thing — it means that they are capturing a large amount of the hockey world’s attention.

These players are in no particular order when it comes to the amount of buzz that they’re creating. We’ll revisit the Star Power Index every week throughout the regular season.

Nathan MacKinnon continues to be one of the most electrifying players across the NHL this season.

Entering Thursday, MacKinnon leads the league lead in points (109) with Tampa Bay Lightning standout Nikita Kucherov right behind him. It’s likely going to be a three-horse race for the Hart Trophy as league MVP between MacKinnon, Kucherov and Edmonton Oilers star Connor McDavid.

MacKinnon has compiled four goals and three assists over his last three games. That was highlighted by a massive four-point performance in a 5-0 win against the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday.

Monday’s performance extended his home point streak to 30 games, continuing an Avalanche franchise record. MacKinnon is on pace for 88 points in home games, which would top the previous Avalanche/Nordiques single-season team record of 83 (Peter Stastny in 1981-92). 

In Monday’s victory, MacKinnon tallied two goals and two assists, and he certainly didn’t waste any time get into the scoring column.

At the 12:31 mark of the opening period, MacKinnon may have scored one of his easier goals in recent memory. Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews had the puck at the point and dished it over to a wide-open MacKinnon. The Avalanche star had no one in front on him, skated into the face-off circle, and ripped a shot past Blackhawks goaltender Petr Mrazek to open the scoring.

MacKinnon also showed his acumen as a playmaker during Monday’s game. 

In the second period, MacKinnon received a pass from Mikko Rantanen after Rantanen dug the puck free off of the wall. MacKinnon got the pass in the face-off circle, but faced several Blackhawks in front of him. Instead of forcing a shot that may have been blocked, MacKinnon made a terrific read and dished the puck off to an open Cale Makar, who snapped a shot into the back of the net.

MacKinnon is currently on a 10-game point streak and has racked up seven goals and 13 assists over that stretch. The Avalanche star is likely going to shatter his previous career-high of 111 points, which he set during the 2022-23 campaign.

Considering the high level MacKinnon has played at this season, the Avalanche  have all the potential to be a team that could run through the Western Conference come playoff time.

Florida Panthers star Sam Reinhart is entering some very elite territory this season.

In Monday’s 4-2 win against the New York Rangers, Reinhart registered his 43rd and 44th goals of the 2023-24 season. In doing so, Reinhart passed Carter Verhaeghe (42 in 2022-23) for the third-most goals in a single season. Now only Pavel Bure remains in front of Reinhart on the franchise’s single-season goals record with 58 goals in 1999-2000 and 59 goals in 2000-01. 

Reinhart is on pace for 59 goals on the season, which would tie Bure’s record. 

Reinhart has been on fire of late with six goals and one assist over his last four games. The Panthers forward registered a pair of two-goal performances during that stretch.

In the second period of Monday’s game, Reinhart got the Panthers started on the offensive end. 

At the 10:11 mark of the second period, forward Aleksander Barkov gave the puck to Verhaeghe as the Panthers entered the offensive zone. Verhaeghe flipped the puck back to Barkov, who was driving toward the net. Barkov was somehow able to corral the puck and make a diving pass to Reinhart for a sensational goal.

Just over two minutes later, Reinhart showed how dangerous he can be once again.

After the Panthers dumped the puck into the Rangers’ zone, Barkov was able to secure possession and dished it off to Reinhart in the face-off circle. After the two played a little bit of give-and-go with the puck, Reinhart was able to send a scorching shot past Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin to give the Panthers a 2-1 lead.

Reinhart is having a ridiculous season, and it came to a perfect time considering he’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. With Reinhart in the midst of a career year, it’s hard to imagine the Panthers not doing everything that they can to re-sign the goal-scoring forward.

The NHL has seen an influx of young talent at the blue line in recent years. However, Roman Josi is continuing to produce and showcase he’s still an elite talent at the position.

Josi has registered a goal and three assists over his last three games and has tallied a point in five of his last six contests. The Predators defenseman contributed a very important assist in the team’s 5-1 win against the Avalanche on Saturday.

At the 9:46 mark of the third period, Josi provided the primary assist on a Ryan O’Reilly power-play goal that extended Nashville’s lead to 3-1 midway through the frame.

Josi fired a slap just wide of the cage, but luckily the puck bounce right back out in front and onto the stick of Predators forward Ryan O’Reilly. O’Reilly was able to deposit the puck into the wide-open net.

At 33 years old, Josi is still proving to be one of the top blue-liners that the sport has to offer. After all, he has tallied 15 goals and 46 assists on the season, and could certainly finish with another 20-goal season. 

If Josi is able to reach the 20-goal mark, it would be the second such performance of his career. On quite a few occasions, defensemen’s scoring numbers decrease, but Josi has seen his goal-scoring numbers grow over the past few seasons.

Goaltending has arguably been the biggest thing holding the Edmonton Oilers back from achieving greatness in recent seasons. However, it appears the team has finally found its answer in net in the form of Stuart Skinner.

Skinner is in the midst of a phenomenal stretch for the Western Conference juggernaut. Over his last final starts, Skinner is 4-0-0 with a 1.50 goals-against-average and a .952 save percentage.

The Oilers netminder has allowed two or fewer goals in all four of those contests, including yielding just one goal apiece in each of his last two games.

Most recently, Skinner turned aside 24 of the 25 shots he faced in a 2-1 overtime win against the Boston Bruins on Tuesday. Prior to that victory, the Oilers goaltender stopped 24 of 25 shots in a 2-1 win against the Seattle Kraken on Saturday.

Skinner has really turned his play around after some struggles in February, when he tallied a lofty 3.54 goals-against-average.

The Oilers have been thriving since firing head coach Jay Woodcroft 13 games into the regular season, and they look to be one of the top teams the West has to offer. If Skinner can continue to come up big when the lights are the brightest, it’s hard to imagine the Oilers not making a deep run in the postseason.

Related articles

Share article

Latest articles

Newsletter

Subscribe to stay updated.