The debut of Quebecer Alexis Lafrenière with the New York Rangers should necessarily attract attention Thursday night at Madison Square Garden. On the sidelines of this event, here is a list of players who had an exceptional first game in the National Hockey League (LNH).
– Auston Matthews
On October 12, 2016, Auston Matthews ignited Toronto Maple Leafs fans with four goals. Sadly, the Leafs nonetheless lost the game in overtime, by a score of 5-4, to the Senators in Ottawa. Like Lafrenière, Matthews was the first overall pick in the previous draft. The American won the Calder Trophy, awarded to the rookie par excellence, at the end of the 2016-2017 season.
– Ryan Poehling
In the more recent past, we cannot ignore the debut of Ryan Poehling with the Montreal Canadiens. In addition to completing a hat trick at the end of the third period to force overtime, it was he who had scored the goal that made the difference in the shootout. On the evening of April 6, 2019, the Habs had won 6 to 5 against the Maple Leafs in a game without much significance, the last of the season. The CH was already excluded from the series. Speaking of Poehling, he was limited to one goal and one assist in his next 27 games last season.
– Fabian Brunnstrom
Swedish forward Fabian Brunnstrom also raised expectations in the annals on October 15, 2008, with a hat trick in his first NHL game. Brunnstrom had contributed to a 6-4 victory for the Stars in Dallas against the Nashville Predators. Brad Richards had been Brunnstrom’s accomplice on two of his goals. It was the only career three-goal game for the Swede in the NHL, who made only 104 games on the Bettman Tour.
– Derek Stepan
Derek Stepan, one of the players who continues to enjoy a successful career in the NHL, wore the Rangers’ colors when, in his debut, he scored a hat trick. The New York team had signed a victory of 6 to 3 against the Sabers in Buffalo, on October 9, 2010. Forward Sean Avery and defenseman Dan Girardi, each with two assists on goals from Stepan, had contributed to its success.
– Mario Lemieux
Among the great hockey legends, Quebecer Mario Lemieux may not have managed three goals, but he stood out in a completely different way on October 11, 1984. On his first appearance on the ice, he scored using his first NHL shot. Less than three minutes had passed in this game against the Bruins at the old Boston Garden, when the Pittsburgh Penguins rookie had stolen the puck from Raymond Bourque and then beat goaltender Pete Peeters. Lemieux completed the game with a goal and an assist, but the Penguins were down 4-3 with a Bourque goal in the second half of the third period.
– Honorable Mention to Jordan Eberle
On October 7, 2010, forward Jordan Eberle made his debut in a 4-0 win for the Edmonton Oilers over the Calgary Flames. Having previously dazzled fans in the Canadian team uniform at the World Junior Hockey Championship, Eberle had scored a most spectacular goal, shorthanded, early in the third period. Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff is still having nightmares a decade later.