The stars were lighting the lamp last night in the NHL. Over the past couple of weeks the goalies have been dominating, with some especially good performances coming out of the back-ups. However, with the talent of some of the dynamic forwards in the NHL today it was only a matter of time until the superstars busted out. All three of the guys on the list are all-star caliber. Here are my picks for the NHL 3 stars from Tuesday, December 16th:
3rd Star – Eric Staal – This guy hasn’t been as prolific as he was a couple of years ago, but he is still a dangerous sniper by anyone’s measure, and is especially dangerous when allowed to operate on the powerplay. Well, the Montreal Canadiens were giving him lots of opportunity to do just that. Obviously the refs weren’t out to get Montreal, and it is just one of those bizarre statistical coincidences, but at the end of the game the Carolina Hurricanes had enjoyed 11 powerplay opportunities compared to just 1 by the Habs. Eric Staal took full advantage of the statistical anomaly, netting two powerplay markers to pace his Carolina Hurricanes to a 3-2 victory.
2nd Star – Alexander Ovechkin – After a bit of a slow start to the season Ovie is really starting to find his stride now, and it looks like he will challenge Malkin and Crosby for the Art Ross trophy this season. Ovechkin had 2 more goals last night, including the overtime winner to help Washington over the New York Islanders 5-4. Ovechkin also fired off 6 more shots last night, and if he keeps firing at this pace he could potentially have a crack at Phil Esposito’s long-held record for most shots in a single season. Espo had 550, and Ovechkin currently has 176 after 30 games, so he’s a little behind pace, but the way he fires the puck don’t be surprised to see him overtake Esposito at some point in his career.
1st Star – Jarome Iginla – Crosby, Ovechkin and Thornton all have their fan clubs, but when it comes to the best all-around player in the game today it is hard to argue against this guy. He does it all for the Calgary Flames – hitting, fighting, and putting up the points, all on a roster that does not give him much offensive help out there. Speaking of putting up points, Iginla was doing just that last night. He had two assists to go along with his two goals as he willed his club to a 6-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues. Though he’s got some ground to make up, Iginla’s 37 points put him within striking distance of the league lead in points. Iginla is known for having strong second halves to seasons, so don’t be surprised to see him challenging for the Art Ross down the stretch.