A strange lack of outstanding performances given the number of games last night. There were a couple of surprising blowouts as Toronto humbled Pittsburgh, handing the Penguins a 7-3 defeat in their own barn, and Philadelphia thumped the previously red hot Washington Capitals 7-1 in a game where the Caps outshot the Flyers by close to a two to one margin. The Capitals goaltending woes continue, and if they can manage to land a solid tender they are going to be a handful in the East. In the highest profile game of the night the league leading San Jose Sharks took down the Rangers in a tight 3-2 game, bouncing back after their embarrassing 6-0 drubbing at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings, and in Vancouver the Canucks got to see the skill of Chicago’s young stars first hand as they fell 3-1 on home ice. Whispers of the Blackhawks’ potential as cup contenders are growing louder. They certainly have the talent, but come playoff time talent is only a small piece of the puzzle. Grit and experience are key components, and the Blackhawks have little of either. So who were the players making noise in last night’s games? Read on to find out.
3rd Star – Jeff Carter – As good as Tomas Kaberle is I’m sure the Philadelphia Flyers are breathing a sigh of relief that the proposed deal last season that would have seen Jeff Carter depart to Toronto in a deal to bring Kaberle the other way never materialized. Carter has been an absolute beast in the offensive zone this season, and continued his hot play last night, scoring 2 more goals to tie Buffalo’s Thomas Vanek for first in that category with 24, and adding 2 assists in Philly’s lopsided win over the Caps.
2nd Star – Tomas Kaberle – Speaking of Kaberle, he was no slouch himself last night. After being called out by coach Ron Wilson following a -4 performance a few weeks ago Kaberle has really started to round into form. Kaberle had 3 assists last night and was a +3 going up against the top 2 points producers in the league in Malkin and Crosby. Though they might wish they had landed Carter the Leafs can’t be too disappointed to still be enjoying the services of Kaberle for the time being.
1st Star – Scott Hartnell – I don’t know what the NHL record is for the closest natural hat tricks by one player in a single season, but Scott Hartnell had his second in just over a week against the Capitals last night. He also added an assist for good measure, to give him a surprising 24 points so far this season. With Gagne, Richards, Carter and now Hartnell filling the net, the Flyers’ offense is firing on all cylinders. Once they get Briere back, watch out.