NHL best and worst: Panarin lights it up on Broadway, McDavid leads scorching Oilers

Everything you need to catch up on another thrilling week of NHL action.

Artemi Panarin, rejuvenated by the arrival of fellow Russian star Vladimir Tarasenko, went off for a five-point night for the resurgent New York Rangers. (Getty Images)

Have you heard Jakob Chychrun might be on his way out of Arizona? How about Erik Karlsson to Edmonton? It’s a wild west of action on the market across the NHL with the trade deadline just under a month away. Plenty of big names have already moved and made their mark on the ice. It’s all right here in this week’s edition of the NHL’s best and worst.

Artemi Panarin, rejuvenated by the arrival of fellow Russian star Vladimir Tarasenko, went off for a five-point night to lead the NHL's best and worst of the week.

Goal of the week

Kevin Hayes followed up his first career All-Star appearance last week with a nifty goal against the Nashville Predators this past Saturday. Hayes has had his bumps in the road this year, however, there’s no denying that the Boston, Mass. native has been a bright spot for a Flyers team sorely lacking in those. On this one, Hayes shows off the dangles in alone, leaving Juuse Saros twisted into a pretzel for the centreman’s 17th of the season.

Save of the week

Despite two straight losses, this year’s Sabres team has undoubtedly been one of the most fun stories to come out of the NHL season. They’re still on the outside looking in, but that could change very quickly with several games in hand on the teams ahead of them in the wild card hunt. Beyond the big breakouts of Tage Thompson and Dylan Cozens, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen has been a stabilizing force between the pipes for a team lacking an answer in net for nearly a decade. His latest showing against the Calgary Flames was certainly not his brightest — seven goals on 40 shots wouldn’t look great on anybody’s resume to be fair — but he did come up with this beauty, robbing Dillon Dube point blank.

Player of the week

It was a great week for Artemi Panarin and the New York Rangers. First, the star winger’s team picked up a longtime friend and All-Star running mate Vladimir Tarasenko in a deal with the St. Louis Blues, reuniting the former KHL teammates. Then, in the duo’s first game together, the Bread Man picked up an assist on his fellow Russian’s first goal as a Ranger, much to the pleasure of Rangers fans. Finally, Panarin exploded for a five-point night on Saturday, including four goals, to cap off what may well have been the best week of his life.

Dish of the week

Connor McDavid is back and snatching souls, taking Thomas Chabot’s and stomping all over it on Saturday. The Hart Trophy favourite takes the Sens number one defenceman for a ride, stops up and dances him out of his socks while boxing him out, then feeds a streaking Ryan McLeod off a disgusting backhander. It’s nothing new for Connor McDavid to do crazy stuff like this, but that doesn’t make the NHL’s leading scorer (he’s almost 20 points up on second place!) any less sensational.

Hit of the week

Moving on t the southern side of Alberta’s hockey hubs, the Calgary Flames East Coast road swing got off to a smashing start last Monday against the New York Rangers. When Jacob Trouba is not busy sending flying elbows into the cranium of the NHL’s biggest stars, the Blueshirts captain tends to show off the power with some excellent hits. Against the Flames, Nazem Kadri was his victim of choice, as he lines up the Flames pivot with a clean, aggressive, and downright beautiful hit.

Stat of the week

The newest member of the New York Islanders has come out of the gate flying, with three goals in four games to start his Long Island tenure. The fans have surely made the transition plenty enjoyable for the former Canucks captain as well, serenading him with multiple chants since taking to the ice at UBS arena.

Most compelling, however, was Horvat’s third game as an Islander, which saw him turn around quickly and have to face his former squad on short notice. Horvat made his presence known quickly, cashing in against his former team with a big goal that had the crowd bumping. Everything seemed to be coming up roses for Horvat and his new crew, however, the man that went the other way in the deal had other ideas. Anthony Beauvillier, sent back to Vancouver as a salary-matching throw-in, eventually played the hero with a tying goal to force overtime, and eventually help the ‘Nucks seal the come-from-behind win.

It all made for some pretty compelling TV, however, perhaps the most astonishing part of the entire saga was this awesome stat courtesy of ESPN’s Arda Ocal.

Quote of the week

Lou Lamoriello has always held a few team policies some view as autocratic and dictatorial, but when you’ve been in the league as long as someone like him, you tend to get a bit of a pass when it comes to whatever makes you tick. One of those policies is his infamously tight-lipped attitude around contracts, never revealing the terms of a deal when discussing them with the public. That meant when reporters asked following the Bo Horvat extension if he was willing to share the details, the wily veteran GM snapped back humorously with this great one-liner.

Hathaway celly

There’s not a whole lot of fun to be had after you get laid out, but Capitals forward Garnet Hathaway found a way to make some fun of it following his ninth goal of the season. Check this one out, as he gets lined up by Bruins blueliner Connor Clifton, then plays a little dazed and confused from the seat of his pants on the ice, much to the delight of the ESPN crew. In the end, it turned out to be the Bruins who were left flat on their wallet and looking confused, as they lost this one 2-1, just their second loss of the season at home in regulation.

Viktor E Ratt takes an L

The Battle of Florida is easily one of the most underrated rivalries in the entire NHL, and while neither team has quite lived up to the soaring heights they achieved last season, there’s still plenty of bad blood to go around between the Panthers and the Lightning. When the pair met last Monday, the Cats dominated on the ice to the tune of a 7-1 win, but off the ice it was all Tampa Bay, particularly during this bizarre donnybrook between the Panthers mascot and a lone wolf Lightning fan.


As it turns out, it isn’t just the fans that have their eyes peeled on Connor Bedard and where his NHL future may reside. In fact, a former World Juniors teammate in Mason McTavish, amid a solid rookie campaign with the lowly Anaheim Ducks, seems to have the lottery simulator bookmarked as well. The frizzy-haired phenom has taken to shooting the presumptive first-overall selection the odd text every time the Ducks lose, which one would imagine might be getting a little bit expensive if he doesn't have Canadian texting as part of his plan.

Player of the game

Every team has their traditions for awarding the player of the game. With the Maple Leafs, it’s a wrestling belt, for the Ottawa Senators, it’s a pair of spray tan goggles. The New Jersey Devils, however, may just take the cake for the most creative award of the bunch, handing out this monstrosity after victories.

Pride Night

Friday night in Columbus was Pride Night for the Blue Jackets, an important night to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community and reinforce that, despite recent events, hockey will always be for everyone. That's part of what made this small but important gesture from Maple Leafs forwards Mitch Marner and John Tavares all the more important.

Perfect Form

One…two…three…now that’s how you celebrate a 45-save gem. Predators netminder Yaroslav Askarov went full gains season after an epic performance against the Rockford IceHogs, pulling down the net for this hilarious celly. Askarov’s season has been up-and-down in stretches in the AHL, but if this one was any indication, the NHL’s top goaltending prospect might be heating up and could be a factor in the not-too-distant future.

Don’t mess with the code

Sidney Crosby is about as far from a tough guy as you’ll find in the NHL, however, this brief moment between him and Trevor Zegras sent quite the message. After Zegras attempted to shoot the puck following an offside call, the Penguins legend took exception, giving the flashy sophomore a bit of a lesson in what not to do after the whistle. There might be bulkier dudes that could’ve confronted Zegras for this one, but I can’t imagine there’s a scarier circumstance for a young NHLer than ticking off the notoriously cool-headed Sid the Kid.

Family in town

As the Edmonton Oilers embarked on a partial Eastern Canadian road swing, the questions for Connor McDavid regarding the return to his home province were perhaps inevitable. When one reporter checked to see if the NHL scoring leader would have any family and friends in attendance for the team’s game in Ottawa, #97 was pretty succinct about the crowd he expected from the McDavid clan.

Throwback snap

When Keith Tkachuk made his final All-Star appearance with the St. Louis Blues in 2009, his two boys Matthew and Brady were 12 and 10 years old, respectively. With the family atmosphere that the NHL All-Star game brings, it’s no surprise that the pair got their fair share of snaps with a few young and old NHL superstars. Fast forward roughly 14 years later, and the brotherly All-Star duo took the time to recreate a couple of those iconic pics as they made their yearly trek to the All-Star Game.

Scrap of the week

Speaking of Brady Tkachuk, check out this heavyweight superstar bout between the Senators captain and Edmonton Oilers power forward Evander Kane. The duo puts together a pretty hefty bout here, especially Kane, who lands a number of big right hands before Brady counters with his own knuckles.

Trending up: Edmonton Oilers

Winners of seven of their last ten, the Edmonton Oilers are piping hot, and have vaulted themselves into the race for pole position in the Pacific division. As should be no surprise, it has very much been the Connor McDavid show throughout that process, as he continues to dazzle during his historic season, with an astonishing 97 points to match his jersey in just 53 games. Even more notable, however, has been the team around him. Since returning from the All-Star break, Edmonton is 3-1-1, with a dominant 58 percent control of the expected goals, second in the league during that stretch. The Oilers are entering wagon territory and might be Canada’s greatest hope to bring the Stanley Cup north of the 49th parallel.

Trending Down: St. Louis Blues

With Vladimir Tarasenko headed to Broadway, the St. Louis Blues appear headed first into a long and painful rebuild. With a barren cupboard, some lousy lottery odds in a big draft, and more veterans reportedly on their way out, things could get ugly quickly. Meanwhile, on the ice, the Blues are losers of 7 of their last 10, a mark matched by only the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets, soap opera-filled Vancouver Canucks, and the actively tanking San Jose Sharks. Someone is going to have to put the Blues out of their misery because this is getting tough to watch.

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