Puck Drop: John Tavares Is Not Here To Play

On Monday night, John Tavares reminded everyone why he was so hotly pursued last offseason. The Toronto Maple Leafs center put on a show by netting four goals during his team’s 7-5 win over the Florida Panthers, an impressive highlight in a career that’s already filled with more than his fair share of gems.

Tavares wasn’t the only one with a good night, either. Mitch Marner ended the game with three assists, and Zach Hyman scored his 20th goal of the season—a first for his career.

Tavares now has 45 goals and 86 points, tying his career best as an Islander with six games still left in the season. If he makes it to 50 goals, he’ll be the first Maple Leaf to do so since Dave Andreychuk scored 53 goals during the 1993-1994 season. However, the real test will come in the playoffs; the Leafs haven’t won a single playoff series since 2004, and haven’t hoisted the Cup since 1967. They haven’t clinched their spot in the playoffs yet, but it’s becoming increasingly likely that they’ll do so in the next few days.

If Toronto does make their way to a playoff scenario, here’s who we already know they’ll be joined by:

  • Tampa Bay Lightning
  • Boston Bruins
  • Winnipeg Jets
  • Nashville Predators
  • Calgary Flames
  • San Jose Sharks

It’s looking like the Las Vegas Golden Knights will be playoff bound as well, since their magic number is just 1. They’ll be looking to bounce back against the Avalanche tonight after failing to clinch on Monday.

Injury Report

Colorado’s Mikko Rantanen, who has already missed two games with an upper body injury, didn’t practice with his team on Tuesday and is questionable for Wednesday’s game against Las Vegas.

Winnipeg defenseman Dustin Byfuglien is starting to take steps to get back on the ice for the first time since mid-February; on Monday, he skated in practice while wearing a no-contact jersey. He doesn’t currently have a timetable for his return, but this is a move in the right direction.

San Jose star Erik Karlsson is struggling to return from a lingering groin injury that he sustained last month. He hasn’t been placed on the IR, but just can’t quite seem to shake the difficult symptoms that keep setting back his recovery progress. The Sharks are hoping that their star defenseman will be able to make his return before the end of the season, but time is running out; the Sharks have only six games to play before the start of the playoffs, where they’ll certainly want Karlsson on the blue line.

Play of the Period

Zach Parise’s between the legs shot against the Islanders last week was just bonkers. Plus, an appearance by a familiar face in New England, Ryan Donato. Check it out.

Photo credit: NY Post

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