NHL 3 Stars of The Week
Canadian NHL Stars of the Week
Third Star – RW Phil Kessel
Phil Kessel’s quietly outscored Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin this season, netting 20 and assisting on 32 to lead the Penguins in points. Last week, Phil the Thrill was unstoppable, sniping a game winner against the Red Wings and Rangers on consecutive evenings while notching a trio of assists. This extended his four-game scoring streak, which includes three goals and five assists.
Phil’s eighth in the NHL for overall scoring, with his recent binge pushing Pittsburgh over the hump of a rough back-to-back against key eastern conference foes. After an up and down first half of the season, the Penguins possess a wild card position, placing them within sight of the top three for the Metro Division.
Second Star – G Mike Smith
Mike Smith and the Calgary Flames have been unbeatable in 2018. Smith has won six straight starts, including a trio of road wins last week. He stopped 33 of 35 against the Wild, 33 of 34 against the Lightning and 38 of 39 in Carolina to secure a seven-game win streak for the Flames. Mike earned a .963 SV% and a 1.32 GAA in those three wins.
Calgary’s built one of the better blue lines in the NHL, which helped Smith put together one of the best stretches in his career. After Calgary’s recent run to second place in the Pacific Division, the Flames join the Jets as an elite Canadian team. The Flames have suffered through years of inconsistent goaltending after Miikka Kiprusoff. Now that Mike Smith guards the net, the Flames no longer need to worry about bad goals deflating the team.
First Star – LW Johnny Gaudreau
Maybe they call him Johnny Hockey because he’s good at the sport. Calgary’s superstar forward claims first star of the week, notching eight points last week to help the Flames sweep their busy slate. He assisted on all three goals against the Wild, scored the game-winning goal against Tampa Bay and Florida, capping his run with a pair of assists over Carolina.
Johnny also has a seven-game point streak going, lifting himself to second overall with 54 points, six behind Nikita Kucherov. Gaudreau the engine behind the Flames consistent production, raising the quality of play for anyone who lines up with the winger. Calgary’s recent rise in the Pacific Division will spark MVP discussion for Johnny.
Three Stars Canadian Honorable Mentions:
D – Dougie Hamilton – Calgary Flames
Hamilton’s been on a roll, providing clutch defensive scoring in bundles during the Flames scorching run in 2018. Dougie contributed three goals and two assists last week, including a pair of game winners against the Wild and the Hurricane. Remarkably, Dougie’s scored three game winning goals over the past five Calgary victories. He also protects Mike Smith against opposition defenders, helping the goalie earn the second star of the week.
G – Jacob Markstrom – Vancouver Canucks
Vancouver appeared to be in a difficult spot last week, on a tough road trip which brought them to Washington, Columbus and Minnesota. Jacob could only do so much against the Capitals, turning away 33 of 36 shots. Instead of stewing on the defeat, Markstrom rebounded with a pair of strong games, turning away 48 of 52 shots to help the Canucks earn road wins in Columbus and Minnesota.
LW – Matthew Tkachuk – Calgary Flames
Tkachuk’s an elite-level pest and physical presence who loves to make hockey unappealing for the opposition. Last week, he also became a triggerman for the Flames, scoring a goal in three straight while tossing in a couple of assists. Matthew’s matched his 2016-17 goal production in 43 games this year, scoring 13 goals and chipping in 18 assists. Winning seven in a row requires a lot of personnel playing at a high level, which is why the Flames dominate this edition of the NHL stars of the week.
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