Well, with the exception of a nasty leg injury to Teemu Selanne last night’s NHL action was pretty tame. In fact, there was only one fight in the NHL last night. I guess NHL hockey players, with the exception of Chris Neil and Jay Leach, are in the festive spirit already. Either that or they don’t want a black eye for those family Christmas photos. Though the intensity might have been lacking a little the skilled players were still doing their thing. Here are the best performers from last night’s games:
3rd Star – Zach Parise – Pierre Maguire may not be right that often, but he was bang on when he chastised NHL general managers for ignoring the potential of this kid when they bypassed him until the 17th pick of the 2003 NHL entry draft. Parise has been steadily improving and enjoyed back to back 30+ goal seasons in only his 2nd and 3rd seasons in the league. This year, however, he has broken out in a big way and quietly has worked his way up the statistical leader board to sit at 4th overall in the NHL scoring race. He had another great night last night, chipping in 4 assists as his New Jersey Devils walked all over the scoring challenged Senators 5-1. Who needs Martin Brodeur when you’ve got offensive punch like this?
2nd Star – Ryan Miller – This guy doesn’t look like he’s eaten in a month, but he must have had a good pre-game meal before last night’s game because he stopped all 40 shots the Los Angeles Kings threw his way. Miller’s performances over the course of his career have resembled the action of a yo-yo. He appears to have the ability to be one of the premiere puck-stoppers in the NHL, but ever since Buffalo’s great playoff run in 2006 he can’t seem to consistently put together a string of great games. Unfortunately for Los Angeles they hit him on one of his good nights.
1st Star – Jonas Hiller – Well, after a couple of nights when the shooters dominated the goalies got their revenge yesterday. As good as Ryan Miller was against the Kings he couldn’t match Jonas Hiller’s masterful performance against a desperate Edmonton Oilers team. The Oilers pumped an incredible 53 shots at Anaheim’s back-up goalie, but still weren’t rewarded for their efforts as Anaheim walked away with a 3-2 victory. Hiller is making a good case for a number one job in Anaheim. He hasn’t allowed more than 3 goals in any game this season, and his 2.07 GAA and .936 save percentage are significantly better than Giguere’s numbers.