Can Nathan Mackinnon Inch Ahead of Connor McDavid?

Penguins, Panthers, Canadiens and Golden Knights win. Tavares injured. Kadri suspended, hearing pending.

I'm not kidding.

Look at the record:

The Avs ace already has five goals and two assists in two games. 

He's spearheaded Colorado to a two-games-to-none lead over St. Louis, elevating his game to unforeseen levels.

In his opening game against Winnipeg, the Oilers captain went for a recreation skate. He wound up with no goals, no assists, no points and a big, fat minus 2. 

Oh, yeah, and his heavily-favored team lost 4-1 to Winnipeg.

What's fascinating about the MacKinnon over McDavid comparison is that Hockey News Senior Writer Ryan Kennedy picked Nathan as "The Best Player In The NHL" over Connor.

This was in the publication's annual after which Kennedy had polled some savvy people in the hockey biz. Here's how The Hockey News guy came to his conclusion:

"MacKinnon has the more complete game," explained Kennedy.  "Defensively, he's a step ahead of McDavid and he's certainly stronger and more physical."

'Nuff said. And now you know it's not just me. But the THN piece was written quite a while ago. We must now deal with the Super Season.

It's possible that MacKinnon will slow down and McDavid will speed up. It's likely that Colorado will knock off St.Louis and Winnipeg could defeat Edmonton. 

Should the Oilers exit in the first round, the argument is over — for now.

Connor's playoff performance will decide whether he's better than McKinnon. After one game however, McD is McFlop.


Stan’s Java Jive

HEADLINE: JOHN TAVARES REMOVED FROM GAME ON A STRETCHER:

THE JIVE: We don't know the extent of the injury but -- jibes aside -- we hope and pray for a speedy recovery. Captain John was coming on strong for Toronto in the homestretch. We don't want to see any player hurt. But our ties -- and good vibes -- from John's Islanders days never will be forgotten. Let's hope that his injury is not serious and that he's back with the Leafs as soon as medically possible.


HEADLINE: STRANGE BUT TRUE PLAYOFFS

THE JIVE: My philosopher king in Florida, Alan Greenberg has the best line about the post-season: "What's great about the playoffs is that you never know who'll be the hero." The 6-5 winning goal for Florida last night was delivered by Ryan Lomberg on a magnificent breakaway effort. Until then, the native of Richmond Hill, Ontario had only two regular season goals. He had the least ice time of any Panther and get this: Florida had lost eight straight overtime games until this win. Their last OT victory was in a previous century, 1996. Plus, it was the first time in Cats history that they allowed five goals in a period and won a playoff game. Lomberg, by the way, is listed as fifth left wing on the club; yet another g.m. Bill Zito free agent signing!


HEADLINE: KEITH YANDLE MISSES FIRST GAME SINCE 2009

THE JIVE:  His ironman streak of 922 regular season games will remain intact but there will be an implied asterisk. After a tough Game Two during which his two giveaways led first to a Lightning breakaway and later to the empty net clinching goal by Yanni Gourde, Panthers’ coach Joel Quenneville made the tough decision to healthy scratch Yandle and revert to six d-men as opposed to seven in the prior game.

The popular Yandle has always been the consummate teammate and professional. He took the demotion stoically, judging by his demeanor while participating in the morning skate with the other scratches. Inside it had to hurt.

Quenneville had little choice. It started in the latter part of the season. Yandle was making too many costly errors and was getting too many of the kind of penalties that are taken when you lose a step. His 5-on-5 minutes diminished. With Aaron Ekblad out, the power play once quarterbacked by Yandle had become ineffective.

Has he played his last game as a Panther? Can the 34-year-old bounce back? Our Man in Sunrise, Alan Greenberg, says “Possibly” to both questions. “With Yandle’s full no movement clause and two years to go on his contract he may be looking at a buyout and a change of scenery. Whatever the scenario, we wish him luck.”


HEADLINE: SHOULD WE PITY THE POOR HABS?

THE JIVE: Nobody told the Canadiens that the had to finish fourth in the North Division but they did it on their own accord. The gift Montreal obtained for such a courageous move was the right to face the (supposedly) greatest Toronto club since Syl Apps, Turk Broda, Max Bentley and Teeder Kennedy.

Checking the rosters before last night's tourney opener, you'd have to say that the Leafs could win the game with just Jumpin' Jack Campbell in goal and Auston Matthews skating against the entire blue, blanc et rouge. As usual, what's on paper is not what's on the ice so there was an ever-than-tiny chance that the Habs would show up in Hogtown and, at least, make a contest of it.

That was the hope.  

The result was the stunner-of-all-stunners. Not only did the Habs win it, they did it with an uncanny formula: 1. Shedding any rust accumulated from his absence, Carey Price out-goaltended Jack Campbell. Price made 35 saves to Campbell's 26; 2. The winning goal was scored by fourth-string left wing Paul Byron, short-handed, no less!; 3. Campbell blew it with a poke check that became a broke-check; 4. Price preserved the 1-1 game in the third, foiling Mitch Marneer on a two-on-one at 9:38 of the third. 5. A bit over three minutes later Byron got the game-winner. 6.Two guys Habs g.m. Marc Bergevin obtained in the off-season -- Josh Anderson and Tyler Toffoli -- combined with deadline acquisition, Eric Stall on Anderson's goal.


HEADLINE: JOHN DAVIDSON RETURNING TO COLUMBUS

THE JIVE: This is what you have to call "Sweet News." Maybe even sweeter than sweet. After the booting the wise and wonderful guy received from Madison Square Garden, a lot of people -- me included -- felt downright awful. After all, during his tenure running the Rangers only good things were happening. The rebuild was moving apace and were it not for a crazy series of circumstances, John's Blueshirts might well have made the playoffs. It was a tough-tough blow but who said there's always justice in hockey.

JD's return to Ohio can simply be called a case of justice triumphs. Davidson's first order of business is to get a coach. Perhaps Claude Julien, Mike Babcock and Rick Tocchet, just to name a few. In the meantime, good luck, Pal JD. You got knocked down and got up running! JD could find a coach who could get the best out of Patrick Laine which John Tortorella could do once out of every month. Also, crack defenseman Seth Jones becomes an RFA and he'll want out -- unless John can convince him otherwise.


HEADLINE: HEAD-HUNTER KADRI PUNISHED

THE JIVE: Somebody should clue Nazem (Kayo) Kadri that he's paid to play hockey and not take batting practice off an opponent's head. On

Wednesday night, nearly fungoed Justin Faulk's head into the stands.

Fortunately the St. Louis defenseman still has his head on his shoulders and appears none the worse for wear. As for Nazem, who has a record of doing something cuckoo in the playoffs, the Department of Player Safety gifted him with an indefinite suspension, pending a hearing with the league’s disciplinary officials


HEADLINE: CANES 'NEEDLES' IN A HAYSTACK

THE JIVE: Once upon a time, not long ago, the Carolina hockey franchise was desperate for a starting goalie. They had this guy Petr Mrazek but he was considered nothing more than a Detroit used car. Well, with the Canes breezin' along with the breeze in the playoffs, you wouldn't believe who's starring in goal; a fella who g.m.  Don Waddell found -- a needle in a haystack; only this Needle is named Alex (Needles) Nedeljkovic. The stopper from Parma, Ohio -- a suburb of Cleveland --  has bested vets Mrazek and James Reimer. As a matter of fact, Alex The Great will garner a few Calder Memorial Trophy votes as rookie-of-the-year.


TRIVIA CORNER:

Was a goalie ever tied to a goal post? If so, who was this former NHL star?

(ANSWER BELOW)


CLEVER COMMENTS FROM YESTERYEAR:

"My wife!" Reijo Ruotsalainen, Rangers defenseman and bachelor, asked whom he would most like to meet!


TRIVIA ANSWER:

Before playing goal on Punch Imlach's Stanley Cup-winning Maple Leafs, Don Simmons learned the trade with the AHL Springfield Indians.

The Indians boss, Hall of Fame defenseman Eddie Shore, believed that goalies should not fall to the ice. To prove the point he would get a rope and tie Simmons to the goal posts.