Yes, this week the big story was that the mumps are going around. For fans out ther who are not doctors, like myself, the mumps is transmitted through saliva and can cause major swelling. Water bottles are the culprits! Trust no one! Suspect everyone!
Now onto last week’s stars and how this past week was for them…
Ryan Getzlaf had another productive week scoring two goals and earning two helpers (+3). Albeit, the Ducks had a relatively easy week going against the Oilers twice and the Jets to end their week. The Ducks right now are on a 7 game winning streak, which is the longest streak in the NHL right now, and have gone 8-2-0 in their last ten games. Because of the Ducks’ consistent play from players like Getzlaf, who leads the team with 10G/23A in 31 games, Anaheim is still leading the Pacific division and the NHL with a record of 21-6-5.
Aaron Ekblad and the Florida Panthers went 1-1-1 this week winning against the Red Wings in a shootout, however losing to St. Louis in regulation and to Buffalo in OT. Ekblad this week had 1G (E) and it was the game-tying goal in the third period against St. Louis, however the Panthers did end up losing the game despite Ekblad’s clutch play. Ekblad has 5G/13A (+6) thus far for the Panthers, who are 12-8-8 and are currently holding the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference (so that 3/6 points didn’t seem too bad for them). With Ekblad playing over 24 mins per game this week, I’m sure he will be utilized a lot if Florida wants to stay in the playoff race for the remainder of the season.
Jacob Trouba did not record any points this week and was -2. The Jets, much like the Panthers, went 1-1-1 this week, while winning against the Dallas Stars on the road, and losing to the Ducks in regulation at home and to Colorado in the shootout (a game they lost after having a two goal lead in the third period). Trouba, on average, played over 25 minutes this week, where he was utilized on the Jets’ penalty kill, which is running at 84% (8th best in the league). Trouba is a great asset to the Jets (15-10-6), as they are tied with the Flames (17-12-2) for the two wild-card spots in the West.
Marc Andre Fleury had two starts this week and went 1-0-1, wining against Calgary (3-1, .963%) and losing in OT to the New York Rangers (3-4 OT, .862%). The Pens are happy to earn the three out of four points with Fleury in net, as he has proven that he is capable of helping his team win games by giving a solid performance between the pipes. Pittsburgh, despite losing Crosby to the mumps (and not a concussion), are still leading the Metropolitan division, going 19-6-4 and are two points ahead of the Isles.
And not onto this week’s stars, all mumps free… or are they…
1) The Atlantic Division – James van Riemsdyk Of The Toronto Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs have gone 9-1-1 since losing to Nashville in November by a score of 9-2 at home. The media was saying Toronto was not made to make the playoffs and would need a coaching change to adjust the culture in T-dot. However Toronto has improved dramatically since then, along with the play of James van Riemsdyk who had 3G/2A (+1) in Toronto’s four games this week.
The Leafs (18-9-3) are currently on a five-game winning streak and hold the first wild card spot in the Eastern conference; five points ahead of the Panthers, who currently have the second wild card. Toronto’s recent success can be attributed to a lot of factors, including goal-tending and defense… but let’s quickly focus on the offensive side.
The Leafs’ power play is operating at 21% and JVR has 11 power play points so far this season, out of his 13G/13A in 29 games, three of which were goals this week for the Leafs. It must be comforting for Coach Randy Carlyle that the top line of JVR, Tyler Bozak, and Phil Kessel will provide the offensive support needed to win hockey games.
2) The Pacific division – Frederik Andersen Of The Anaheim Ducks
In his sophomore year, Frederik Andersen is producing a lot of wins for the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks have won seven in a row in December and Andersen has not lost a game in December thus far. Andersen started all three of the Ducks’ games this week, two against the Oilers in a home-and-home series and winning in Winnipeg. He allowed 4 goals in total this week and had a save percentage of .944.
Success aside, Andersen does not deserve all of the credit for his excellent record of 17-4-4 (2.38GAA, .915%) thus far. The Ducks allow about 29 shots on net per game, which is about the league average. Because his team does so well defensively, by not allowing a lot of shots on net, Andersen is able to make the key save from time-to-time.
Frederik Andersen is second in the NHL for wins by a goaltender, just one behind the league leader, Pekka Rinne. Anaheim will be on the road this week against the Leafs, Habs, and Sens. This three game road trip can help solidify the Ducks’ place as the division leaders and the hottest team in the league.
3) The Metropolitan division – Nicklas Backstrom Of The Washington Capitals
This week, the Washington Capitals went 2-0-1, winning both their games against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but losing in OT to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Nicklas Backstrom helped lead the way for the Capitals, earning 3G/2A (+2) in their three games this week, highlighted by the natural hat trick he got this past Saturday.
Although the Capitals have one of the best goal scorers in the league in Alexander Ovechkin, who is the reigning Rocket Richard trophy winner, this performance thus far this season is not what we expect from The Great Eight, who has 14G/11A in 29 games for the Caps. Because Ovi is having a somewhat off season thus far, Backstrom is putting the team on his back by scoring or assisting on goals on the power play, which is a league’s best at 26.5%.
Thus far, Backstrom has 8G/22A (+1) in 29 games for Washington. Because of his consistent play, the Caps are 14-10-5 – which is good enough for the third spot in the week Metropolitan division.
4) The Central division – Kevin Shattenkirk Of The St. Louis Blues
Kevin Shattenkirk is a great asset to the St. Louis Blues. Not only is he able to play sound defensively, but he is also able to chip in offensively almost every game. This week, he had 1G/3A (+4) and played an average of over 24 minutes per game. Not to mention, two of his points came from the man-advantage.
St. Louis is currently on a four game winning streak, and have gone 7-2-1 in their last 10 games. Part of their success this season, is not only scoring goals, but also their sound defensive game. The Blues have the second best record in the NHL on shots allowed in a game at 27. Shattenkirk is able to get physically involved in the game, whether it be throwing a couple of hits or blocking shots on the penalty kill, which is operating at 81%.
Stattenkirk is second among defense men in points this season with 4G/22A (+13) in 30 games for the Blues (20-8-2), who are just one point shy of the division lead in the Central.
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