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Lacrosse-style goals in the NHL are no longer the exclusive domain of Andrei Svechnikov. The Carolina Hurricanes forward scored the first one in NHL history against the Calgary Flames on Oct. 29. He repeated the feat against the Winnipeg Jets on Dec. 17. No other player managed it until Filip Forsberg of the Nashville Predators scored one Tuesday against the Edmonton Oilers. Who will be the next to score by lifting the puck up on the blade of his stick and putting it in from behind the net? We asked five NHL.com writers for his or her candidate:
Dan Rosen, senior writer
The lacrosse-style goal is officially a thing in the NHL, and the next to score one will be Auston Matthews. The Toronto Maple Leafs center has a flair for the dramatic, the audacity to try it, and certainly the stick skills to finish it. Can’t you just see it? Matthews getting the puck from linemate Mitchell Marner, circling behind the net, pausing for a moment, deftly flipping the puck onto his blade, curling his stick around the left post and tucking it in before a moderate celebration, his body language saying, “Yeah, so what’s the big deal?” And because Matthews plays in Toronto, the hockey-media hotbed, his lacrosse-style goal would go viral in ways that Andrei Svechnikov‘s and Filip Forsberg‘s never could have. The Maple Leafs might need it too after allowing four goals in the game.
Tom Gulitti, staff writer
Matthews attempted a lacrosse-style goal against the Philadelphia Flyers this season but had trouble picking the puck up off the ice and passed to William Nylander for a goal instead. So I wouldn’t be surprised if Matthews tried it again. I also think Evgeny Kuznetsov will try it again. The Washington Capitals center attempted the move against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden in 2018, but the puck fell off his stick blade as he was trying to shovel it into the top left corner of the net past goalie Ondrej Pavelec. Kuznetsov said he’d try it again if he had the chance, and seeing Svechnikov and Forsberg pull it off this season might motivate him further.
Amalie Benjamin, staff writer
Perhaps predictably, I’m going with the hometown guy. With an NHL-leading 36 goals this season — two more than Matthews — David Pastrnak hasn’t exactly been kept from scoring. But I think the fun-loving, flamboyant Boston Bruins forward, a player always up for anything, whether it’s trying a seemingly impossible move on the ice or wearing something with unique sartorial flair, could get on board with the lacrosse-goal trend. He’s already gone between the legs this season, and there’s no question that he has the hands to pull off the lacrosse goal. During warmups, Pastrnak will flip pucks up and catch them with his stick, so perhaps we’ll see him try the move in Boston before too long. It would certainly be a crowd-pleasing way to finish off one of those hat tricks he’s so fond of scoring.
Pete Jensen, senior fantasy editor
Great candidates so far, and I have no doubt each of the elite players mentioned can pull off this goal. But I’m challenging Connor McDavid to not only replicate this goal but also add some icing to the cake. How sick would it be if McDavid not only scored the lacrosse goal but also added an ankle-breaker, coast-to-coast or spin move beforehand. McDavid is the greatest playmaker in the sport, and the volume of offense he’s putting up (three straight 100-point seasons) shows he’s capable of lighting the lamp any which way. McDavid may be the next to score this goal and is more likely than anyone to do it better than those before him.
Nick Cotsonika, columnist
I was there when University of Michigan forward Mike Legg scored the “The Michigan,” the original lacrosse-style goal. The best part was that I knew it was coming a split second before he did it, because as a student hockey beat writer at The Michigan Daily in 1995-96, I had seen him do it in practice so many times. I knew how he set up behind the net, how he stooped a little, how he laid the puck on his blade. I don’t know anyone in the NHL who practices it now as much as Legg did then. But when I think of the players who have the best hands and creative instincts, I think of Patrick Kane first and foremost. The Chicago Blackhawks forward has done almost everything — multiple Stanley Cup championships, multiple individual awards — but he has never done “The Michigan.” Give it a try, Kaner. Go, Blue.