Hockey fans missing the smooth skating and silky hands of Edmonton Oilers rookie Connor McDavid, have no fear. There’s still another rookie dynamo making opposition defensemen look silly, and that’s 2015 second-overall Jack Eichel.
Thursday night, the young Buffalo Sabres center had his third crack at facing off against Tampa Bay. Eichel had been held scoreless in both of his first two contests against the Lightning, but that wasn’t the case in his third outing against the defending Eastern Conference champions. No, instead Eichel absolutely embarrassed a pair of defenders who were playing last June for the Stanley Cup.
The first move by Eichel is a simple one, but the grace with which he pulls it off is stunning. The second move, a quick slip between the legs and stick of Lightning blueliner Braydon Coburn, is something to behold. And, of course, the moves would be all for naught if Eichel didn’t make good on the finish:
All set to the dulcet tones of Rick Jeanneret, there’s no doubt this goal has already found a special place among Eichel’s highlights for years to come.
Eichel’s ability to get his shot off is no joke here. Almost entirely smothered by Coburn, Eichel fires an accurate shot under the arm of Andrei Vasilevskiy with ease. It was Eichel’s fifth goal of the campaign, but through 12 and two-thirds games — entering the third Eichel’s goal was his only point of the night — the 19-year-old is still waiting for the first assist of his career.
With five goals, Eichel is now tied with McDavid, the Canucks’ Jared McCann, Coyotes’ Anthony Duclair and Max Domi for second in rookie goal-scoring. Rangers freshman Oscar Lindberg leads all rookies with six tallies.