A second period flurry, a dog taking over Twitter, and a matchup living up to its hype headline.
Here are four things we learned in the NHL on Thursday night.
There’s never enough time
Time wasn’t on the Los Angeles Kings‘ side Thursday night.
Pick whichever period you’d like. In the first, the Kings saw their one goal lead disappear just 96 seconds after they earned it. In the second, the Columbus Blue Jackets scored a pair of goals just 20 seconds apart — setting a new season-best for fastest two goals scored in the process. In the third period, time ran out before L.A. could begin a comeback, ultimately losing 4-1.
Hockey dogs are the best hockey trend of 2018
At any given moment there is no shortage of smart and valuable pieces of hockey analysis one could read on this website. These next couple sentences won’t try to be either of those things.
#HockeyTwitter caught fire on Thursday courtesy of the St. Louis Blues and their dog, Barclay. He made an appearance at their practice and the results were everything you could hope for.
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) December 13, 2018
Similar to what the New York Rangers have done with their team dog, Ranger, St. Louis is exploring and learning how to use social media to showcase a side of hockey that isn’t self-serious and cliche laden. If there are lessons to be gleamed from Twitter posts about puppies, then the value in taking time out to appreciate the small and fun moments in a day — even if they’re ultimately unimportant — is the most impactful one to focus on.
Did you know Connor McDavid is very good at hockey?
Midway through the second period of an all-Canadian matchup between the Edmonton Oilers and the Winnipeg Jets, Connor McDavid earned his 300th career point. The play itself was, by his standards at least, pedestrian — a simple secondary assist on a rebound goal by Darnell Nurse — and it’s a testament to how special he is that 300 points was not just predictable, but expected.
For someone like McDavid, this milestone is a bit like celebrating all the birthdays that come between 21 and 29 — fun and necessary, but also just another small step towards the next big one that will eventually happen.
That isn’t to say 300 points shouldn’t be celebrated, all achievements should be because nothing is guaranteed and it’s still impressive — especially in light of how quickly he accomplished the feat. McDavid is just the ninth player in NHL history to reach the 300-point milestone before celebrating his 22nd birthday and the second youngest in Edmonton Oilers’ history — trailing only the man that everyone trails, Wayne Gretzky.
A seven game series worth of these would be a lot of fun
Hype is a tricky thing to handle. It’s intoxicating, a blend of expectations and excitement before they’re bogged down by reality that makes it easy to build a single night up into something so impressive that, by the time it actually happens, it can’t possibly live up to what you imagined and you end up disappointed.
The stage was set for Thursday to be one of those nights. Tampa Bay versus Toronto, first place in the Eastern Conference versus second, the team Tavares chose versus the one he spurned.
For the better part of two periods, Leafs-Lightning felt as fun and as important as advertised. It was the NHL’s rendition of a heist movie, full of enough suspense and close-calls and breakneck action to make looking away at any point feel like a mistake. But then the end of the second period happened, the sense of suspense disappeared, and the heist film became a generic summer blockbuster.
Yet, despite the contest being effectively over by the second intermission, Thursday showed the pure entertainment these two teams can put on. Summer blockbusters are still fun to watch. If Tampa Bay versus Toronto does happen in the playoffs, and if games like this are the baseline for what we can expect, then the playoffs can’t start soon enough.