Reprinted with permission from hockeybuzz.com
Although he hasn't won any NHL Rookie of the Month Awards, Artemi Panarin is having a consistently strong rookie season. Chicago's No. 72 matched his sweater number by hitting the 72-point mark this past week and in doing so, Panarin's the first rookie to hit that mark since his linemate Patrick Kane did so in the 2007-08 season. With four games left he has the opportunity to tie or surpass Paul Stastny's 78 points in 2006-07. Since the NHL lockout in 2004-05, only Alexander Ovechkin (106,) Sidney Crosby (102) and Evgeni Malkin (85) have had better rookie seasons.
There was little doubt that Panarin would take the rookie scoring crown as he went into this past week with a 14 point lead over Buffalo's Jack Eichel. But Panarin would hit the turbo booster leaving the rest in the dust as he lit things up. After failing to hit the scoresheet in his first game last Tuesday, Panarin busted out with a vengeance over the weekend posting back-to-back four-point nights. On Friday he put up two goals and two assists against the Winnipeg Jets and yesterday he scored a goal and added three assists against Boston as his lead over Eichel stretched to 20 points.
With two assists in three games last week Eichel now has 52 points which is the most for a Sabres rookie since Derek Plante had 56 in 1993-94. Arizona's Max Domi came away with four assists this week bringing his point total to 51. Connor McDavid saw his surge halted this week as he was kept off of the scoreboard in Edmonton's only two games this week and Dylan Larkin posted a goal that tied him with McDavid at 45 points.
Larkin's goal tied him with Eichel for second in rookie goal-scoring with 23 each and the two now trail Panarin (28) by five goals. Buffalo's Sam Reinhart notched on goal bringing his total to 22 while Arizona's Anthony Duclair jumped ahead of teammate Domi by scoring his 18th and 19th of the season.
Panarin leads in assists as well with 44 while Domi jumped up to second place with 33. McDavid is stuck on 32 and fell to third, Eichel sits in fourth at 29 and Philadelphia defenseman Shane Gostisbehere picked up an assist on Saturday to bring his total to 27.
Unless something unusual happens, the 24 yr. old Panarin will take the scoring Triple Crown. Make no mistake, Panarin put himself in an ideal position when he signed with the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks and conversely, the Hawks knew what they were getting when they went after him. Panarin was placed on a line with one of the leagues premier scorers in Kane, but he alson had to make it work. And work it did.
Yesterday Kane became the first American-born player to reach the 100-point mark since Doug Weight in 1995-96 and the first Blackhawk player to do so since Jeremy Roenick in 1993-94 after recording the hat trick and adding an assist on Panarin's goal.