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NHL Morning Skate – Jan. 27, 2024

Nathan MacKinnon found the score sheet at Ball Arena for the 25th straight time to start the season and once again retook the lead in the NHL’s Art Ross Trophy race from Nikita Kucherov – a back-and-forth tug of war ongoing throughout the week.


* Two teams who sit second in the division, the Golden Knights and Panthers, both earned wins on Friday to inch closer to top spots thanks to a hat trick from Jonathan Marchessault and franchise-record tying night from Sam Reinhart.

* Commissioner Gary Bettman today becomes the longest-serving chief executive among the four major North American professional sports leagues – during a 14-game slate that includes 10 teams that had yet to play an NHL game when he took the helm Feb. 1, 1993 (ANA, ARI, CAR, CBJ, DAL, FLA, MIN, NSH, VGK & WPG).

* Twenty-two teams will play their final contest before starting their bye week during a 14-game Saturday that includes an NHL Network Showcase matinee between the Bruins and Flyers, a Sportsnet matinee featuring the streaking Oilers and a five-game Hockey Night in Canada slate. Check out notes on each game in the Jan. 27 edition of #NHLStats: Live Updates.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW AROUND A FOUR-GAME FRIDAY

While three teams bolstered their current playoff positioning, it was the Blues who continued to climb the Western Conference standings after capturing a crucial overtime victory against the Kraken – a club also chasing down the Kings and Predators for a Wild Card spot.
 

AVALANCHE, GOLDEN KNIGHTS & PANTHERS CONTINUE PUSHES FOR DIVISION LEADS

The Avalanche (32-14-3, 67 points), Golden Knights (29-14-6, 64 points) and Panthers (30-14-4, 64 points) each earned wins Friday, with Colorado leapfrogging idle Winnipeg (30-11-5, 65 points) for top spot in the Central while Vegas and Florida inched two points closer to idle Vancouver (32-11-5, 69 points) and Boston (30-9-9, 69 points) in the Pacific and Atlantic Divisions.

Nathan MacKinnon (31-53—84 in 49 GP) posted 1-1—2, finding the score sheet for the 25th straight time at Ball Arena to begin the season and once again overtook Nikita Kucherov (32-51—83 in 48 GP) for top spot in the NHL’s scoring race. The Avalanche and Lightning forward have alternated possession of top spot in the Art Ross Trophy race five times since the start of the week on Jan. 22.


* MacKinnon, the first Avalanche player with 11 points through a three-game span (7-4—11) since Peter Forsberg (5-6—11 in 3 GP) from Feb. 19-23, 2001, is just the third player since 1997-98 with 84 points prior to his 50th outing of a season joining Connor McDavid (89 in 2022-23 & 87 in 2020-21) and Sidney Crosby (84 in 2006-07 w/ PIT).



Jonathan Marchessault (3-0—3)added to the Hockey Fights Cancer Fund of the V Foundation with his fourth hat trick as a member of the Golden Knights – and the fifth of his career – to help Vegas stretch its point streak to six games (5-0-1) and move within five points for top spot in the Pacific Division. With every hat trick this season, AstraZeneca will donate $5,000 to the up to $500,000 to the cause – click here for more information.  


* Marchessault recorded his fourth hat trick with the Golden Knights and overtook William Karlsson (3) for the most in franchise history. He also joined Karlsson (2 in 2017-18) and Jack Eichel (2 in 2022-23) as the third player in franchise history with multiple hat tricks in a single season.


Sam Reinhart scored to extend his point streak to 12 contests and tallied the shootout-deciding goal to help the Panthers extend their road winning streak to seven games and establish a franchise record in the process (previously 6 GP in 2015-16). Florida is now five points behind Boston for the No. 1 seed in the Atlantic Division.

* Reinhart’s goal marked his 36th of 2023-24, which moved him within three of Toronto’s Auston Matthews (39) for the NHL lead. It was also his 19th power-play goal, which tied Scott Mellanby (19 in 1995-96) and Pavel Bure (19 in 2000-01) for the most in a single season in franchise history.




BUCHNEVICH TIES GAME, WINS GAME FOR BLUES IN #NHLSTATS: LIVE UPDATES
The latest edition of #NHLStats: Live Updates featured the Blues extending their win streak to four games – the second-longest active streak in the NHL behind the Oilers (15 GP). St. Louis (25-20-2, 52 points; 47 GP) moved within one point of both Los Angeles (22-15-9, 53 points; 46 GP) and Nashville (26-21-1, 53 points; 48 GP) – the two clubs who occupy the Wild Card positions in the Western Conference.

* Pavel Buchnevich (2-1—3) became the seventh player in Blues history to score a game-tying goal in the third period and the overtime winner in the same contest. The others: Jaden Schwartz (March 21, 2018 & Dec. 6, 2016), Vladimir Tarasenko (April 7, 2016 & Oct. 28, 2014), Chris Stewart (March 9, 2011), Bill Geurin (Dec. 23, 2006), Rod Brind’Amour (Jan. 31, 1991) and Rob Ramage (March 10, 1984).

QUICK CLICKS

*Owen Tippett signs 8-year, $49.6 million contract with Flyers

Zach Parise signs 1-year contract with Avalanche

Fantasy Hockey EDGE stats

Brendan Gallagher suspended 5 games for actions in Canadiens game

2024 Navy Federal Credit Union NHL Stadium Series jerseys unveiled Friday.


 

NHL PODCAST WEEKLY ROUNDUP
 

NHL Fantasy on Ice (1/22): Islanders hire Patrick Roy; fantasy waiver wire pickups

NHL Fantasy on Ice (1/22): NHL | Action Network Collaboration: Best Islanders, Oilers angles

NHL Draft Class (1/23): Tij Iginla, Kelowna Rockets forward; CHL Top Prospects Game

La Tasse de Café LNH (1/24): Le retour de Patrick Roy dans la LNH

The Chirp (1/25): Alexandre Daigle; Chosen One, Patrick Roy’s return

NHL @TheRink (1/25): Derek Van Diest on Oilers, Isles hire Roy, Kings slumping

NHL Fantasy on Ice (1/25): Week 16 fantasy mailbag

BETTMAN BECOMES LONGEST-SERVING CHIEF EXEC. IN NORTH AMERICAN PRO SPORTS

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman (30 years, 360 days) today surpasses Clarence Campbell (NHL President for 30 years, 359 days from 1946 to 1977) to become the longest-serving chief executive among the four major North American professional sports leagues. Bettman has presided over 56% of all games in NHL history(37,245 of 66,932 GP through Jan. 27) and more than 52% of all goals (213,013 of 407,121 total goals through Jan. 26).

* A total of 5,013 players have skated at least one NHL game since Bettman began his tenure Feb. 1, 1993, accounting for 59% of all players in League history (8,509 total players). During that same time frame, 295 individuals have served as an NHL head coach or general manager (57% of the 515 who have been credited with at least one game in either role since the League’s inception in 1917-18).


* Looking at today’s game, 77% of current NHL players were born since Bettman’s first day (719 of 930 born Feb. 1, 1993 onward; min. 1 GP in 2023-24 through Jan. 26). The League has added eight new franchises since Bettman took office – all introduced in the United States – an expansion that coincides with a 67% increase in the representation of U.S.-born players in the NHL (30% in 2023-24 vs. 18% in 1992-93).

* The NHL has welcomed more than 616 million fans at regular-season and playoff games during Bettman’s tenure – more than 1.5 times the combined population of the U.S. and Canada. Average attendance stands at 17,241 in 2023-24 (through Jan. 26), up 21% relative to his first season in 1992-93 (14,185 per game).

* The NHL has staged regular-season and playoff games in 118 different venues since Feb. 1, 1993, including the League’s first ventures for regular-season games outdoors (39 in total) – with both figures set to rise in three weeks when the Flyers, Devils, Islanders and Rangers compete in back-to-back games at MetLife Stadium during the 2024 Navy Federal Credit Union NHL Stadium Series.

* Nine of those venues are overseas, as less than five years into Bettman’s tenure the League staged its first regular-season games played outside North America. That count now stands at 42 games to go along with several overseas trips for preseason and exhibition games, including the first NHL contests in the Southern Hemisphere in September 2023. In 2023-24, 30% of NHL players hail from outside North America – nearly double the representation from Bettman’s first season in 1992-93 (16%).
 

HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA SLATE PACKED WITH 31-YEAR-OLD CONNECTIONS

There is one individual part of Saturday’s slate of games who, like Commissioner Gary Bettman, holds the same title today as he did 30 years and 360 days ago: Rick Bowness was head coach of the Senators back in 1992-93 and today guides the Jets into action against the Maple Leafs as the focal point of a five-game schedule on Hockey Night in Canada (7 p.m. ET on Sportsnet).

* Bowness’s Senators hosted the original Winnipeg Jets at Ottawa Civic Centre during Bettman’s first day as Commissioner on Feb. 1, 1993, skating to a 4-4 tie against a squad that featured rookie and future Hall of Famer Teemu Selanne (who tallied his 41st goal and 78th point of the season that night).  Keith Tkachuk and Tie Domi both played for Winnipeg that night and tonight their sons are set to be part of Hockey Night in Canada coverage (Brady Tkachuk w/ OTT and Max Domi w/ TOR).

* The 44th NHL All-Star Game was held at Montreal Forum just six days into Bettman’s tenure. Four months later, the Commissioner returned to “the most storied building in hockey history” to present the Stanley Cup for the first time, to Canadiens captain Guy Carbonneau. Tonight the Canadiens will become the first franchise in NHL history to contest 7,000 regular-season games when they host Sidney Crosby and the Penguins on Hockey Night in Canada.

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