The Jonathan Marchessault Revenge Tour rolls into the Stanley Cup Final
The Jonathan Marchessault Revenge Tour has arrived at the doorstep of the Florida Panthers.
It’s a story six years in the making and may be one of the most intriguing storylines of the Stanley Cup Final.
The now-infamous expansion draft trade sending Marchessault and Reilly Smith to the Vegas Golden Knights in order to protect players like Mark Pysyk and Alex Petrovic dramatically shaped the future of the expansion club. It was a shockingly bad decision by the Panthers brass at the time, and it was one of the biggest tailwinds for the Golden Knights as the franchise built an instant contender.
Six seasons later, Marchessault remains a key cog in the Vegas machine. He’s scored 180 goals over his Vegas career and has arguably saved his best hockey for when it has mattered most. Marchessault has already amassed nine goals and 17 points this postseason, including a Game 6 natural hat trick against the Edmonton Oilers.
But those counting numbers understate how dominant he and his line have been in these playoffs. Allow me to put the spotlight on something that I find striking – so much so that it gives him an inside shot at winning the Conn Smythe Trophy.
Hockey remains a game of differentials, and although we love individual scoring explosions as much as anyone, winning games means routinely creating advantage play for your team. If you are giving up just as many goals as you are scoring, the value you are creating is substantially muted.
Marchessault has always been an advantage player, but look at how his production has surged this postseason – rivalled only by a brief blistering run he had during Vegas’ inaugural season:
That’s an explosive move and requires three components: sustained territorial dominance generating significantly positive scoring chance differentials, an ability to convert on those chances, and a bit of puck luck on both ends of the ice. At any rate, Marchessault and his line are checking every box right now.
If we isolate it just to this postseason, Marchessault’s line has outscored opponents 19-5 (+14) on a base of 247 even-strength minutes. Curious as to how that compares to the best playoff performances of years past? It’s currently holding the top spot, and for my money, is an extremely strong Conn Smythe argument if Vegas can file four more wins away:
It’s not lost on me how strongly this list correlates with some of our most memorable playoff performances. Connor McDavid’s supernova run through the Western Conference one season ago was without parallel, single-handedly carrying that Oilers team into the NHL’s final four. And yet, this record in particular may be wiped from the ledger in one season if Marchessault’s line continues to dominate.
Considering how we arrived here, this has the chance to be an all-time redemption story.
Enjoy the Stanley Cup Final!
Data via Natural Stat Trick, NHL.com, Evolving Hockey, Hockey Reference