NHL Preview February 5, 2024 – “ROCKET” RICHARD, ART ROSS CONTENDERS MATTHEWS, MacKINNON BACK IN ACTION

Auston Matthews (40-18—58 in 46 GP) can build his lead on Sam Reinhart (37-25—62 in 49 GP) in the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy race when the Maple Leafs host the Islanders, while Nathan MacKinnon (31-53—84 in 49 GP) can reclaim first place in the tightly-contested Art Ross Trophy race from Nikita Kucherov (32-53—85 in 49 GP) when the Avalanche visit the Rangers:

  • Matthews (7-3—10 in 6 GP) has scored seven goals over his last six games dating to Jan. 16, which includes the winner in each of Toronto’s past two contests. Matthews needs 10 tallies to become the second player in franchise history and sixth U.S.-born skater in NHL history with multiple 50-goal seasons – of note, Dave Andreychuk had 53 with the Maple Leafs in 1993-94 and concluded the 1992-93 campaign with 54 after scoring his first 29 with the Sabres.
  • Matthews, who reached the 40-goal mark during the third period on Jan. 27, has scored 10 markers over a six-game span three times in his NHL career including twice this season (Dec. 11-23, 2023, Dec. 9-21, 2023 & Oct. 3-13, 2018).
  • MacKinnon (12-16—28 in 13 GP) carries a 13-game point streak into Monday, which includes 7-4—11 in his last three contests dating to Jan. 20. MacKinnon, whose run is tied with Reinhart (14-4—18 in 13 GP) for the longest active streak in the League and six games back of matching his NHL career high set earlier this season, held the outright scoring lead through Jan. 26 before Kucherov restored his one-point edge the following day. Connor McDavid had a 16-point advantage over the next-closest player coming out of the NHL All-Star break last season.
  • The Avalanche (32-14-3, 67 points) and Rangers (30-16-3, 63 points) can build their lead atop the Central and Metropolitan Division, while the Maple Leafs (25-14-8, 58 points) can reclaim third place in the Atlantic Division and the Islanders (20-17-12, 52 points) can inch closer to the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Islanders and Rangers have four and five games remaining, respectively, before squaring off in the 2024 Navy Federal Credit Union NHL Stadium Series at MetLife Stadium on Feb. 18 (3 p.m. ET on ABC, ESPN+, SN, TVAS).

The Toronto Maple Leafs will host their annual Outdoor Practice at Nathan Phillips Square this weekend. The three-day event will include a packed schedule of activities at one of Toronto’s most iconic outdoor rinks to celebrate the game of hockey at all levels. All programming from Thursday, February 8 to Saturday, February 10 is free to attend. Due to limited capacity, fans are encouraged to arrive early.

The weekend will debut with the PWHL Toronto Skills Competition followed by the Outdoor Practice at 12 p.m. on Thursday. Fans can also look forward to the Blue & White Alumni Game, the Rogers Viewing Party, Activation Alley with food and beverage stations, skate rentals, autograph signings and more throughout the weekend.

Thursday, February 8, 2024

  • 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Activation Alley
  • 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. PWHL Toronto Skills Competition
  • 12 p.m. – 1 p.m. Toronto Maple Leafs Outdoor Practice

Friday, February 9, 2024

  • 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Activation Alley, including a Leafs Alumni signing session

Saturday, February 10, 2024

  • 12 p.m. – 9 p.m. Activation Alley, including a Leafs Alumni signing session
  • 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. Blue & White Alumni Game presented
  • 6 p.m. – 10 p.m. Rogers Viewing Party: Leafs vs. Senators

Matthews, McDavid and DeBrincat Named NHL ‘Three Stars’ of the Week

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid and Detroit Red Wings right wing Alex DeBrincat have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending Feb. 4.

FIRST STAR – AUSTON MATTHEWS, C, TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS

Matthews claimed MVP honors and captained his team to victory at the 2024 NHL All-Star Game, held Feb. 3 in front of his home fans at Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena. Matthews began the 2024 NHL All-Star Weekend by selecting his team – with help from assistant captain and Maple Leafs teammate Morgan Rielly as well as celebrity captain Justin Bieber – at the Feb. 1 Tim Hortons NHL All-Star Player Draft, the first edition of the event since 2015. He spent the following morning surprising five children as part of a Make-A-Wish VIP experience before participating in the 2024 NHL All-Star Skills presented by DraftKings Sportsbook, where Matthews finished third after competing in the Tim Hortons NHL One Timers (t-7th), Scotiabank NHL Passing Challenge (4th), Rogers NHL Hardest Shot (4th), Cheetos NHL Accuracy Shooting (2nd), Honda / Hyundai NHL One-on-One (2nd) and Pepsi NHL Obstacle Course (3rd). Matthews then led his team to the championship at the 2024 NHL All-Star Game, totaling 2-2—4 across two games in the 3-on-3 tournament – including 2-1—3 and the decisive goal in the final against Team McDavid. The 26-year-old Matthews, who paces the NHL in goals and ranks 12th in overall scoring this season (40-18—58 in 46 GP), became the fifth Maple Leafs player – and first in 33 years – to win All-Star Game MVP, joining Vincent Damphousse (1991), Bruce Gamble (1968), Frank Mahovlich (1963) and Eddie Shack (1962).

SECOND STAR – CONNOR McDAVID, C, EDMONTON OILERS

McDavid, who helped reformat the event, won Friday’s 2024 NHL All-Star Skills presented by DraftKings Sportsbook and added 1-2—3 in Saturday’s 2024 NHL All-Star Game. The nearby Richmond Hill, Ont., native won four of the six Skills competitions he participated in, finishing first in the Fastenal NHL Fastest Skater (his record fourth win in the event), Upper Deck NHL Stick Handling, Cheetos NHL Accuracy Shooting and Pepsi NHL Obstacle Course to take home the $1-million prize. McDavid, who captained a team along with assistant Leon Draisaitl and celebrity Will Arnett, then posted 1-1—2 (including the tying goal with 5.4 seconds remaining in regulation as well as the shootout clincher) in a comeback win against Team MacKinnon in the semifinals before collecting one assist in a loss to Team Matthews in the final of the 3-on-3 All-Star tournament. The 27-year-old McDavid, who played in his seventh consecutive NHL All-Star Game, sits fifth in the League with 20-47—67 through 43 appearances this season as Edmonton looks to tie the NHL record with its 17th straight win Tuesday at VGK (7 p.m. PT / 10 p.m. ET, Hulu, ESPN+, SN, SN1, TVAS).

THIRD STAR – ALEX DeBRINCAT, RW, DETROIT RED WINGS

DeBrincat, who played in his 500th NHL game Jan. 31 vs. OTT, totaled 3-3—6 across two contests to help Team Matthews win the 2024 NHL All-Star Game and $1-million prize. He factored on three tying goals in regulation, totaling 2-1—3, before scoring the decisive shootout tally in a 6-5 triumph over Team Hughes in the semifinals. DeBrincat then notched 1-2—3 as Team Matthews skated to a 7-4 victory over Team McDavid in the final. The 26-year-old DeBrincat (Farmington Hills, Mich.), who is playing his first season with his hometown Red Wings, ranks second on the team in goals (18), assists (t‑25) and points (43) through 50 total appearances in 2023-24.

NATIONAL TELECASTS IN WEEK AHEAD INCLUDE OILERS LOOKING TO TIE NHL RECORD
Some of this week’s national broadcasts to keep an eye out for as several players and teams resume play following the 2024 NHL All-Star Weekend:

Tuesday, Feb. 6: Avalanche at Devils (7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+, Hulu)

  • Zach Parise could face his former team for the first time since being signed by the Avalanche. Parise was selected by New Jersey with the No. 17 pick in the 2003 NHL Draft and skated each of his first seven seasons with the team from 2005-06 to 2011-12, highlighted by helping the Devils reach the 2012 Stanley Cup Final.

Tuesday, Feb. 6: Oilers at Golden Knights (10 p.m. ET on ESPN+, Hulu, SN, SN1, TVAS)

  • Connor McDavid and the Oilers can tie the NHL record for longest winning streak, a mark set by the 1992-93 Penguins. Edmonton will need to earn a victory versus Vegas, which secured a six-game win against the visitors in the 2023 Second Round but fell to the Oilers during the first contest of their season series on Nov. 28.

Wednesday, Feb. 7: Lightning at Rangers (7 p.m. ET on TNT, Max, TVAS)

  • Nikita Kucherov and the Lightning clash with the Rangers in the first half of an NHL on TNT doubleheader. Kucherov’s League-leading 85 points mark the most by a Tampa Bay player coming out of an NHL All-Star or Olympic break and are just seven back of last season’s total by Connor McDavid (41-51—92 in 50 GP).

Wednesday, Feb. 7: Wild at Blackhawks (9:30 p.m. ET on TNT, Max, SN360, TVAS)

  • Brock Faber (4-25—29 in 49 GP), who was named the NHL’s “Rookie of the Month” for January, enters the week trailing only Connor Bedard (15-18—33 in 39 GP) for the most points among all rookies this season. Faber needs one to tie the franchise record for most by a rookie defenseman in a campaign, set by Filip Kuba in 2000-01 (9-21—30 in 75 GP).

Saturday, Feb. 10: Blues at Sabres (1 p.m. ET on ABC, ESPN+)

  • Tage Thompson and the Sabres enter the week 10 points back of the “playoff line” in the Eastern Conference and take on his former team during an ABC Hockey Saturday doubleheader. Thompson was selected by St. Louis with the No. 26 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft but traded to Buffalo on July 1, 2018, in a deal which saw the Blues land future Conn Smythe Trophy winner Ryan O’Reilly.

Saturday, Feb. 10: Capitals at Bruins (3:30 p.m. ET on ABC, ESPN+, SN)

  • David Pastrnak and Alex Ovechkin are set to go head-to-head for the 33rd time in the NHL (regular season & playoffs) as the Bruins (31-9-9, 71 points) look to strengthen their grip on first place in the Eastern Conference. Pastrnak’s 334 goals since his debut season in 2014-15 rank third in the League over that span behind Ovechkin (409) and Auston Matthews (339).

Saturday. Feb. 10: Maple Leafs at Senators (7 p.m. ET on CBC, TVAS, SNE, SNO, SNP)

  • Brady Tkachuk (3-1—4 in 3 GP) enters a Hockey Night in Canada edition of the “Battle of Ontario” with a three-game goal streak and can tie his NHL career high set from Feb. 13-19, 2023. Tkachuk’s run is three contests back of matching the career high for his older brother Matthew (6 GP from March 11-23, 2023), who was selected by then-Flames general manager Brad Treliving with the No. 6 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft.

HOCKEY FIGHTS CANCER GRANT TO FUND RESEARCH INTO BRAIN TUMORS

Ahead of World Cancer Day on Sunday, the NHL, NHLPA and the V Foundation gave an $800,000 grant for game-changing cancer research in Toronto during 2024 NHL All-Star Weekend.

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