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Stanley Cup Final

Jake Guentzel of Penguins gets support from Dino Ciccarelli

Jeremy Roenick also wants to see rookie forward break playoff goal record in Stanley Cup Final

by Lisa Dillman @reallisa / NHL.com Staff Writer

NASHVILLE -- Others have crept perilously close to Dino Ciccarelli's rookie record of 14 goals in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, threatening the standard the Hall of Fame forward established in 1981 with the Minnesota North Stars.

Five years later, forward Claude Lemieux scored 11 playoff goals with the Montreal Canadiens. Center Jeremy Roenick had 11 in 1990 with the Chicago Blackhawks, and most recently, forward Brad Marchand had 11 with the Boston Bruins in 2011. 

Thirty-six years later, the greatest threat to Ciccarelli's record comes from Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jake Guentzel, a kid raised in Woodbury, Minnesota, about 20 minutes away from where Ciccarelli played for the North Stars and where fans waved green inflatable dinosaurs at Met Center during their 1981 run to the Stanley Cup Final.

 

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Guentzel has scored 12 goals in 21 playoff games, and considering he scored three times in two games in the Stanley Cup Final, he could tie or break the record against the Nashville Predators in Game 3 at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVA Sports).

Ciccarelli is keeping a close eye on the proceedings from his home in Michigan. Not because of the record, but with the appreciation of a pure goal-scorer, one era to another.

"Records are made to be broken," Ciccarelli told NHL.com. "Like I said, I'm a fan. If somebody's going to beat my record, it might as well be someone from where I started, where I got it done. It's kind of cool to see."

Video: Memories: Ciccarelli sets rookie playoff scoring mark

Roenick had the same deep sense of appreciation.

On Wednesday, Guentzel broke the NHL mark for most points in a playoff year by a United States-born rookie with 19, moving past Roenick, who had 18 in 1990, and forward Joe Mullen, who had 18 in 1982.

"I was getting tweets and texts from friends, saying, 'This kid is going to get your record,'" said Roenick, an NHL analyst for NBC Sports.

"I said, 'I hope he does.' You couldn't ask for a better kid to break the record than Jake."

Roenick said Ciccarelli's mark definitely was in reach for Guentzel, whose 12 goals include five game-winners.

"It takes a special player," Roenick said. "No. 1, he's got a great scoring touch and a knack for the net. You have to have a mentality to score goals, the intuition to score goals and he puts himself in the right places."

Guentzel needs two points to tie the NHL rookie record for most in a playoff with 21, co-held by Ciccarelli (14 goals, seven assists) and Philadelphia Flyers forward Ville Leino (seven goals, 14 assists in 2010).

"He's got a very accurate shot, and you have to have all the intangibles to score all the goals the way he's scored," Roenick said. "It's one thing to score four or five but to score the amount he is, you have to have a pretty good scoring mind and touch in order to do that."

Video: Reid breaks down Jake Guentzel's postseason play

Another similarity between Guentzel and Ciccarelli is size. Guentzel is listed at 5-foot-11, an inch taller than Ciccarelli, who had to fight the size rap at times in his junior and professional career.

"There's always going to be bumps in the road," Ciccarelli said. "Is he 5-10? I'm sure it doesn't bother him, like it didn't bother me. It actually adds fuel to the fire: 'I'll prove it to these guys.'

"He's got great instincts. Look at that second goal [in Game 2]. I was watching him closely. He was actually banging his stick before whoever took that shot from the right side. The rebound came right to him and he just goes to the net. Those are just instincts you can't teach."

Guentzel began the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs with seven goals in his first seven games. He later hit a goal drought of eight games and was concerned he might get scratched for Game 1 of the Final.

Ciccarelli's longest goal-less stretch in the 1981 run was four games: the series-clinching game against the Buffalo Sabres in the second round and the first three games against the Calgary Flames in the Semifinals. He had a hat trick against the Flames in Game 4. Of his 14 playoff goals, three were game-winners, and he had 21 points in 19 games. 

Roenick was helped by having played 10 playoff games in 1989 and 20 games in the 1988-89 regular season. He had four points (one goal, three assists) in the 1989 playoffs.

"It's huge: You have to get the idea of what the playoffs are like," Roenick said. "So it's impressive what [Guentzel] is doing. To understand the pace and the grind of it is amazing.

Video: Rookie Guentzel torching Nashville in Cup Final

"It's two steps faster than the regular season."

Roenick joked that he doesn't remember much of anything about the 1990 playoff run.

"I look in the record books and I say, 'OK, that's good,'" he said. "Wonder how it happened?"

Ciccarelli's memories are a little more vivid. Plus, there are remnants of his magical rookie playoff scoring run. Sinclair, the oil corporation, once gave out toy green dinosaurs at its gas stations. North Stars fans started bringing them to games during the regular season to support Ciccarelli, and it carried over to the playoffs.

"I think I have a couple sitting around in my souvenir boxes," Ciccarelli said. "The old Sinclair gas stations. That was their logo."

But the green dinosaurs were not limited to Minnesota, much to the delight of fans of the Chicago Blackhawks, rivals of the North Stars.

"Unfortunately, the people in Chicago could get them too," Ciccarelli said. "They would hang them up in the stadium with a noose around the neck. It was pretty funny."

He plans to continue to keep a close eye on the playoffs and Guentzel.

"Whether he was close or not, I enjoy watching games," Ciccarelli said. "I did as a kid and as a player, and I was fortunate to play 20 years in the best professional sport in the world."

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