No matter how hideous you think he sounds on the phone, “Jake From State Farm” has been dominating the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins fans knew about Jake Guentzel’s skills and scoring prowess for about a full calendar year before hockey fans around the globe were introduced to his jaw-dropping capabilities. He’s not a secret anymore, and everyone has taken notice of his historic postseason production.
Guentzel scored his playoff-leading 10th goal on Monday night, making him just the fifth rookie in the league’s 100-year history to achieve double digits in goal-scoring in one postseason. He also has four game-winning goals, tied for the most by a rookie in history, too.
Sullivan on Guentzel: “He has done a terrific job for us. He is a high-quality player. We know we can rely on him to help us win games.” pic.twitter.com/BCeN56ioPX
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) May 30, 2017
Ten goals isn’t the all-time record, though. Here’s a look at some of Guentzel’s peers in the history books. Who’s he chasing? Who has he surpassed? These are the names and faces he will be associated with when people talk about the finest rookie performances the Stanley Cup Playoffs have ever seen.
DINO CICCARELLI – 14 goals, 1981
Let’s start with the person Guentzel’s chasing down for the all-time record, Hall of Famer Dino Ciccarelli. Ten years before the Minnesota North Stars made their miracle run to the Stanley Cup Final (and lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins), Ciccarelli almost single-handedly took another similarly Cinderella North Stars squad to the Final.
Minnesota never had home-ice advantage at any point in the four playoff rounds, but they persevered thanks to then-rookie Ciccarelli’s record-setting 14 goals. The North Stars also got significant contributions from other first-year players, too. Rookies Steve Christoff and Brad Palmer both earned eight goals during that postseason, tied for eighth-most all-time.
Ciccarelli and the ’81 North Stars’ youth movement didn’t pack enough punch to take down the New York Islanders in the Final, though, who won their second of four-consecutive Cups that year. Speaking of the Islanders…
PATRICK FLATLEY – 9 goals, 1984
When the New York Islanders were chasing their FIFTH-straight Stanley Cup title, a new scoring threat emerged amidst the ranks of Mike Bossy, Bryan Trottier, John Tonelli, Brent Sutter and Greg Gilbert. Patrick Flatley spent most of his first season after college traveling the globe, playing internationally for Team Canada. Once he joined the Islanders late in the season, he was dynamite.
After posting nine points in his first 16 NHL regular season games, he notched nine goals during the Stanley Cup playoffs, one more than Bossy. Those nine tallies tied what was then the all-time record for postseason goals by a rookie, set by Odie Cleghorn 65 years prior.
Unfortunately for Flately, his addition to the Islanders potent offense didn’t equal a fifth Cup. The championship was ultimately won by Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers, as they began their dynastic run through the late 80’s.
ALF SKINNER – 8 goals, 1918
Now, I know you might be thinking, “Why are we wasting out time on some dinosaur who Guentzel eclipsed in rookie scoring rounds ago?” But there’s good reason that Alf Skinner should be on this list. He may have only scored eight times, but he did so in five games.
Back then, the Stanley Cup was not exclusive to the NHL. A best-of-five series was played between the NHL champion and now-defunct Pacific Coast Hockey League champion. After a two-game series with the Montréal Canadiens to claim the NHL crown (during which Skinner was miraculously held off the scoresheet), the Toronto Arenas took on the PCHL’s Vancouver Millionaires for Lord Stanley’s glory.
When the dust settled from the epic five-game series, the Cup was awarded to Toronto, thanks in large part to the eight goals Skinner potted during the championship round.
CLAUDE LEMIEUX – 10 goals, 1986
Guentzel is currently tied with “the other” Lemieux on the NHL’s all-time rookie playoff scoring list. While surely Guentzel hopes he can eclipse Claude Lemieux in goals, one would imagine he’s betting on his contributions having a similar impact as Lemieux’s did for the Montréal Canadiens in ’86.
When the Eastern Conference’s two division leaders were bounced in the first round of the playoffs, including Montréal’s greatest rival, the Québec Nordiques, the field was wide open. The Canadiens took advantage, running roughshod on their way to the franchise’s 23rd Cup title.
During that stretch, Montréal only faced elimination once, a Game 7 against the Hartford Whalers. Lemieux scored the overtime game-winner in that decisive Game 7 of the Adams Division Final, one of four GWGs he earned in those playoffs. Guentzel is tied with Lemieux for the most playoff game-winning goals by a rookie in history.
BRAD MARCHAND – 11 goals, 2011
The most recent instance of a rookie running wild in the playoffs was when Brad Marchand unloaded for 11 tucks during the Boston Bruins’ trek to winning the Stanley Cup in 2011. The 11th of which was the empty net goal that sealed the Bruins’ Game 7 victory over the Vancouver Canucks during the Final.
Marchand is reknown for his niche as one of the league’s most notorious agitators, but the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs served as a coming out party for his offensive abilities. His regular season goals per game figures have been on a steady incline just about every year since, too. However, he’s never captured the same sort of postseason magic again.
Marchand has generated only six goals in six playoff appearances since his heroics in 2011.
JEREMY ROENICK – 11 goals, 1990
This one comes with a bit of an asterisk. Jeremy Roenick, taken eighth overall in a loaded first round of the 1988 NHL Entry Draft, had actually played in 10 playoff games the year before his 11-goal postseason in 1990.
You see, Chicago Blackhawks head coach Mike Keenan sent Roenick back to juniors after playing a handful of regular season games in the NHL during the 1988-89 season. Roenick returned to the Windy City for the ‘Hawks’ run to the Western Conference final.
Because he had only participated in 20 regular season games to that point, Roenick technically began the 1989-90 season as a rookie. Thus, he was also a rookie by NHL standards during the 1990 Stanley Cup Playoffs even though Roenick had already logged significant time in the previous postseason.
Well, no matter how you look at it, Roenick’s 11 goals led the Blackhawks in those playoffs. Chicago fell in the Conference Final for the second year in a row, but Roenick became a staple for the United States in international hockey for the next decade-plus.