It was a rather quiet week in the hockey world. That gave me the opportunity to write about some of my favorite random things I saw throughout the week. That includes Stanley Cup championship rings, NHL records being broken, and very difficult goals to swallow.
1. Lightning Get New Bling
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The champs have been ordained with their new championship rings. Members of the Tampa Bay Lightning were presented with their rings on Saturday. As usual, when the rings are distributed, each team posts a graphic on their social media with high-resolution photos, and Tampa’s ring is fantastic.
I can’t think of a championship ring I haven’t liked, but Tampa didn’t do us wrong. Jostens keeps killing it. My favorite part of the ring is how clear the logos and graphics are. It’s easy to forget that everything you see is jewels embedded in the ring, not anything computer-generated. The blue sapphires are clear as day, too. Nothing about the ring is chunky or out of place.
The Lightning went through a lot to win a Stanley Cup, it’s only fair that they’re rewarded with such amazing rings.
2. Vrana Pots Four in Wings’ Win
Last week, I wrote about the Anthony Mantha trade. For those that don’t remember, Mantha was traded to Washington in exchange for Richard Panik and Jakub Vrana. I was high on Vrana and was happy to get him in exchange for Mantha. Vrana made me look like a genius after his four-goal performance on Thursday against the Dallas Stars.
You can see all four of Vrana’s goals here.
Both Vrana and Mantha have hit the ice running with their new teams. Vrana has scored five goals and added one assist in five games with Detroit, Mantha has scored four goals and tallied two assists in six games.
As a Red Wings fan, I was hopeful Vrana would return to form, but I didn’t see him having a game like this. If he continues to play like this, he will drive up his value and will stand to earn a nice raise this offseason.
I do love Mantha and wish the best for him. I’m hopeful that Vrana has a long career in Detroit. Maybe this is a trade that will work out for both teams.
3. Marleau is the NHL’s New Games Played King
Tonight, Patrick Marleau makes NHL history.
— NHL (@NHL) April 19, 2021
Monday night, Patrick Marleau played his 1,768th game NHL, passing Gordie Howe for first all-time in games played. Howe notably played another 419 games in the WHA, but those don’t count here.
Marleau was the second pick in the 1997 NHL draft, right behind his long-time teammate Joe Thorton. He played the first 19 years of his career in San Jose before a two-year stint in Toronto. He then went back to San Jose before being traded to Pittsburgh. He re-upped with the Sharks again this season for his 23rd season.
Marleau was never a top-five player in the league but was always one of the best. He will surely be enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame when his career is over. Marleau was selected to three All-Star Games and won two Olympic Gold Medal with Team Canada.
Marleau is first all-time in Sharks history in goals and points. He is also second to Thornton in assists.
Marleau will no doubt have his number retired in San Jose and will be remembered as one of the best Sharks of all time. I’m happy he was the one to break Howe’s record. It couldn’t have happened to a better guy or someone more deserving.
4. JVR Scores a Goal With His Face
We’ve all seen our share of weird goals, but I’ve never seen a player score a goal with his face. That was until James van Riemsdyk did so against the Rangers on Thursday.
Watch as the puck hits van Riemsdyk square in the face after a Travis Konecny shot.
I’ve never seen a player score with his face. When I heard about it on Twitter I searched for the video ASAP. My first impression was that puck came in really hot from Konecny. No wonder it had enough force to go into the net after hitting van Riemsdyk straight to the face.
What might have been more impressive is that van Riemsdyk stayed in the game and scored another goal in the next period, except the second goal was with his stick. Not as impressive.
5. Spencer Knight Makes His DebutThe 2019 draft was one of the more hyped drafts in recent memory. The USNTDP was slated to have a number of high-profile players selected, including Jack Hughes and Cole Caufield. One of those players was Spencer Knight, who achieved the rare feat of being one of the few goalies drafted in the first round, going 13th overall.
Knight was a stud at the USNTDP and at Boston College. After leaving at the end of his sophomore year, he signed with the Panthers. Knight made his debut on Tuesday against Columbus. In doing so, he became the first goalie born in the 21st century to play in the NHL. He made 33 saves and allowed only one goal, helping the Panthers win 5-1.
I’ll be very interested to see if Knight can push Sergei Bobrovsky for the starting role in a few years. Especially because Bobrovsky is in the midst of a large contract. If Bobrovsky’s play dips and Knight’s stock continues to rise, the hot seat will become scorching for Bobrovsky in Sunrise, FL. ■