In keeping with the theme, let’s take a Star Wars-inspired look at what was good, what was better, and what was best from last night.
Good: Han Solo
Weapon of choice: Blaster
Played by: Andrei Svechnikov
A proper smuggler knows where to be — and also where not to be. He’ll charm when able, but fight when necessary. And while I doubt Andrei Svechnikov has ever attempted the Kessel Run - let alone completed it in 12 parsecs, as Han Solo claimed - he certainly checks some of the same boxes as the most famous of Corellian smugglers.
Now just over one-third of the way through his sophomore campaign, the 19-year-old Russian has put up 13 goals and 19 assists for a combined 32 points in 30 games played. He’s on pace to match his rookie total of 20 goals before the turn of the New Year. The jump in production is hardly a surprise given he was the 2nd overall pick just a year and a half ago. That said, it’s come as a welcome boost to a Canes team currently missing some offensive firepower due to injury.
Last night, Svechnikov put his skills to use on the power play, fighting for a loose puck along the half-boards, then getting back in front of the net. His positioning paid off as he re-directed a perfect pass from Teuvo Teravainen into the net to give the Canes a 2-1 lead on a critical early game 5-on-3 advantage.
While Luke Skywalker was always the focus of the Star Wars films (at least the original trilogy), Han Solo was a big part of what made the movies fun. Likewise, Svechnikov’s fun-loving attitude has brought a nice balance to a group that at times can seem strung a bit tight.
Better: Master Yoda
Weapon of choice: Lightsaber
Played by: Teuvo Teravainen
[Yoda voice] Many assists he has.
Twenty-two assists, to be exact. Teuvo Teravainen added three more on Saturday night, claiming the Canes lead in that stat. Ever the perfectionist, Teravainen didn’t sound all that happy with his performance after the game. When asked about his decision to shoot on an odd-man break, a shot which then led to Mats Zuccarello’s goal at the other end, he joked:
”Yeah, I’m never shooting again. That’s the last time I shoot.”
While Rod Brind’Amour will advise Teuvo to tap the brakes on a shooting sabbatical, he’ll be happy to see the Finn continue to dish out the assists. Not only were the assists on Saturday night numerous, but they were also highlight-reel quality primary assists. Teuvo’s ability to see the passing lane and execute a high-degree-of-difficulty pass directly led to Svechnikov’s goal and also Aho’s first and second of the night.
As is fitting for a Jedi knight, Teravainen concluded his night with a lightsaber duel. Like Obi-wan Kenobi, he was bested in the contest. Perhaps that will only make him “more powerful than you can possibly imagine.”
I sense much fear in you, Turbo pic.twitter.com/uy4qNbOUBz— Corellia Hurricanes (@Canes) December 8, 2019
Best: Death Star
Weapon of choice: Planet-destroying Death Ray
Played by: Sebastian Aho
Three goals, two assists, six shots on goal. That’s more than making an impact on the game. That is dominating the game. Sebastian Aho simply was the story in this hockey match.
Seemingly rising to the challenge of producing a six-point night, which would have tied the club record, the 22-year-old Finn was everywhere, and very nearly pulled it off. A redirection in front of the net, a one-timer from the dot, and an empty netter completed the goal-scoring portion of the evening. Meanwhile, a secondary assist on Svechnikov’s goal and a primary assist on Joel Edmundson’s goal rounded out the five-point bonanza.
It was Aho’s first five-point performance in the NHL and came as he was mired in a slight scoring slump, with just two points in his previous five games.
On Saturday, like the Death Star, Aho charged up his reactors and took aim at the Minnesota net. Just like Alderaan, there was no escape. Here’s to hoping no one ever finds the schematics to this particular battle station.
The Force Awakens...aka Star Wars Night at PNC
- Alex Galchenyuk may be traded earlier than most expected. Elliotte Friedman says that he is already on the trade block. [Sportsnet]
- Brady Tkachuk was fined for cross checking Scott Laughton, the (seemingly random) max allowable under the CBA. [NBC Sports]
- Taylor Hall’s value is higher now than at the deadline. Who is bidding for the super star? [$The Athletic]
Laila Anderson received a life-saving bone marrow donation from Kenton Felmlee.— NHL (@NHL) December 8, 2019
On Thursday, they met for the first time. pic.twitter.com/rhbwdvGtgN
- The Flames have yet to lost a game under interim head coach Geoff Ward. Milan Lucic (!) even got involved in the scoring. [TSN]
- The Colorado Avalanche defeated the NHL’s top team, the Boston Bruins, to win their sixth game in a row, and hand the Bruins their first regulation defeat of the season at home. [NHL.com]