From the official NHL release:
KUCHEROV, LEHTONEN AND GETZLAF NAMED THREE STARS OF THE WEEK
NEW YORK (March 27, 2017) – Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov, Dallas Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen and Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending March 26.
FIRST STAR – NIKITA KUCHEROV, RW, TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
Kucherov posted 5-2—7 in three games, all multi-point performances, to lead the Lightning (36-29-9, 81 points) to a pair of victories and help the team remain within three points of the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. He collected 1-1—2 in a 5-3 loss to the Arizona Coyotes March 21. Kucherov then registered his third career hat trick, including his League-leading 16th and 17th power-play goals of the season, in 6-3 win over the Boston Bruins March 23. He closed the week with another 1-1—2 effort, highlighted by his second career overtime goal (also Jan. 9, 2016 at VAN), in a 2-1 triumph against the Detroit Red Wings March 24. The 23-year-old Maykop, Russia, native ranks second in the NHL with 38 goals and sixth with 78 points in 67 outings this season, both career highs.
SECOND STAR – KARI LEHTONEN, G, DALLAS STARS
Lehtonen went 3-0-1 with a 0.98 goals-against average, .959 save percentage and one shutout to guide the Stars (31-33-11, 73 points) to seven out of a possible eight standings points. He earned his 36th career shutout via 30 saves in a 1-0 victory over the San Jose Sharks March 20. Lehtonen then made 24 stops in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Chicago Blackhawks March 23, but bounced back with a pair of 20-save wins: in a 6-1 triumph over the Sharks March 24 and a 2-1 overtime victory against the New Jersey Devils March 26. The 33-year-old Helsinki, Finland, native owns a 20-22-7 record with a 2.79 goals-against average, .905 save percentage and two shutouts in 54 appearances this season.
THIRD STAR – RYAN GETZLAF, C, ANAHEIM DUCKS
Getzlaf shared the League lead with seven assists in three games – all wins – to propel the Ducks (41-23-11, 93 points) into first place in the Pacific Division. He notched three helpers in a 4-3 victory against the Edmonton Oilers March 22. Getzlaf then was held off the scoresheet in a 3-1 triumph over the Winnipeg Jets March 24, but responded with four assists – the eighth such performance of his career – in a 6-3 win against the New York Rangers March 26. The 31-year-old Regina, Sask., native ranks fourth in the NHL with 52 helpers in 68 contests this season (14-52—66), the seventh time he has reached the 50-assist milestone.
From the official NHL release:
MARCHAND, CROSBY AND ELLIOTT NAMED THREE STARS OF THE WEEK
NEW YORK (March 20, 2017) – Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand, Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby and Calgary Flames goaltender Brian Elliott have been named the Three Stars for the week ending March 19.
FIRST STAR – BRAD MARCHAND, LW, BOSTON BRUINS
Marchand led the NHL with 5-4—9 in three games – all multi-point performances – to power the Bruins (38-27-6, 82 points) to a pair of victories. He registered 3-1—4, including his second career hat trick (also Dec. 23, 2011 vs. FLA) and third four-point effort of the season, in a 6-3 triumph over the Vancouver Canucks March 13. Marchand added 1-1—2 in a 5-2 victory over the Calgary Flames March 15, halting the Flames’ winning streak at 10 contests. He closed the week with 1-2—3 in a 7-4 loss to the Edmonton Oilers March 16, giving him multiple points in three straight outings for the third time this season (also Jan. 24 – Feb. 1: 6-3—9 in 4 GP and Feb. 23-28: 3-4—7 in 3 GP). The 28-year-old Halifax, N.S., native ranks second in the League with 37 goals and third with 79 points through 71 games this season, including an NHL-best 27 tallies and 48 points in 2017 (32 GP).
SECOND STAR – SIDNEY CROSBY, C, PITTSBURGH PENGUINS
Crosby paced the League with six goals and ranked second with eight points in four starts to guide the Penguins (45-17-9, 99 points) to a 2-1-1 week. He recorded 1-1—2 in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Calgary Flames March 13. Crosby was held off the scoresheet in a 4-0 loss against the Philadelphia Flyers March 15, but bounced back with 2-1—3 in a 6-4 victory over the New Jersey Devils March 17. He capped the week with his 10th career three-goal game (and third career natural hat trick) in a 4-0 win against the Florida Panthers March 19. The 29-year-old Cole Harbour, N.S., native leads the NHL with 40 goals and 80 points in 65 games this season. Crosby’s 40 goals are his second-best single-season total, behind the 51 he scored in 2009-10 en route to sharing the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy.
THIRD STAR – BRIAN ELLIOTT, G, CALGARY FLAMES
Elliott went 3-0-0 with a 1.95 goals-against average and .926 save percentage to help the Flames (41-27-4, 86 points) maintain third place in the Pacific Division. He made 32 saves – and turned aside all three attempts in the shootout – in a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins March 13. Elliott then made 24 stops in a 3-1 win against the Dallas Stars March 17 and 19 saves in a 5-2 triumph over the Los Angeles Kings March 19. In doing so, he earned his 11th consecutive victory (1.70 GAA, .942 SV%, 2 SO) to tie Mike Vernon (Jan. 17 – Feb. 27, 1989) for the longest such run by a goaltender in franchise history. The 31-year-old Newmarket, Ont., native owns a 23-13-3 record with a 2.46 goals-against average, .911 save percentage and two shutouts in 41 appearances this season, his first with the Flames.
From the official NHL release:
PAVELSKI, BERNIER AND KARLSSON NAMED NHL ‘THREE STARS’ OF THE WEEK
NEW YORK (March 13, 2017) – San Jose Sharks center Joe Pavelski, Anaheim Ducks goaltender Jonathan Bernier and Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending March 12.
FIRST STAR – JOE PAVELSKI, C, SAN JOSE SHARKS
Pavelski recorded six points in four games, including a League-best five goals, to power the Pacific Division-leading Sharks (41-20-7, 89 points) to three victories. He notched two goals, including what stood as the winner, in a 3-2 triumph against the Winnipeg Jets March 6. Pavelski added 1-1—2 in a 4-2 victory over the Washington Capitals March 9 before being held off the scoresheet in a 3-1 loss to the Nashville Predators March 11. He capped the week with another two-goal performance, again registering the decisive tally, in a 5-1 win over the Dallas Stars March 12. The 32-year-old Plover, Wis., native ranks second on the Sharks with 26 goals and 61 points through 68 contests this season, while his seven game-winning goals pace the team and share fifth place in the NHL.
SECOND STAR – JONATHAN BERNIER, G, ANAHEIM DUCKS
Bernier went 3-0-0 with a 1.62 goals-against average, .948 save percentage and one shutout to lift the Ducks (36-23-10, 82 points) into second place in the Pacific Division. He made 24 saves through overtime – and turned aside all five attempts he faced in the shootout – in a 4-3 victory against the Nashville Predators March 7. Bernier then recorded 43 saves in earning his 14th career shutout via a 1-0 triumph over the Chicago Blackhawks March 9. He finished the week with 25 stops in a 5-2 win over the Washington Capitals March 12. The 28-year-old Laval, Que., native owns a 13-7-2 record with a 2.69 goals-against average, .911 save percentage and two shutouts in 29 appearances this season, his first with the Ducks.
THIRD STAR – ERIK KARLSSON, D, OTTAWA SENATORS
Karlsson paced defensemen with 2-4—6 in four contests to help the Senators (39-22-6, 84 points) extend their winning streak to six games. He collected two assists in a 4-2 victory over the Boston Bruins March 6 before being held off the scoresheet in a 5-2 triumph against the Dallas Stars March 8. Karlsson then posted 2-1—3, including the tying and winning goals, in a 3-2 overtime victory against the Arizona Coyotes March 9. He closed the week with one assist in a 4-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche March 11. The 26-year-old Landsbro, Sweden, native ranks second in the NHL with 49 assists – and second among League defensemen with 62 points -- in 67 outings this season.
From the official NHL release:
KUCHEROV, BOBROVSKY AND PRICE NAMED THREE STARS OF THE WEEK
NEW YORK (March 6, 2017) – Tampa Bay Lightning right winger Nikita Kucherov, Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price have been named the Three Stars for the week ending March 5.
FIRST STAR – NIKITA KUCHEROV, RW, TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
Kucherov led the NHL with 5-4—9 in four games to power the Lightning (30-26-8, 68 points) to three wins. He opened the week with his second career hat trick and fourth career four-point effort (3-1—4), including the decisive goal, in a 5-1 triumph over the Ottawa Senators Feb. 27. Kucherov then registered 1-2—3, including the primary assist on the overtime winner, in a 4-3 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes March 1. He added one goal in a 5-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins March 3 before closing the week with one assist – as well as a highlight-reel goal to clinch the shootout – in a 2-1 triumph over the Buffalo Sabres March 4. The 23-year-old Maykop, Russia, native, who has 7-7—14 during a six-game point streak, ranks in the top 10 in the NHL in goals (t-10th; 28), points (10th; 63), power-play goals (t-3rd; 12) and power-play points (8th; 23) through 57 contests this season.
SECOND STAR – SERGEI BOBROVSKY, G, COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
Bobrovsky turned aside 87-of-88 shots, going 2-0-1 with a 0.33 goals-against average, .989 save percentage and two shutouts to guide the Blue Jackets (41-17-6, 88 points) to five out of a possible eight standings points. He made 29 saves in a 1-0 overtime loss to the Montreal Canadiens Feb. 28. Bobrovsky then posted consecutive shutouts (a first in his NHL career), stopping all 38 shots he faced in a 1-0 victory over the Minnesota Wild March 2 and all 20 shots he saw in a 3-0 triumph against the New Jersey Devils March 5. The 28-year-old Novokuznetsk, Russia, native has appeared in 51 games this season, ranking in the top five in the League in wins (t-2nd; 34), goals-against average (3rd; 2.09), save percentage (5th; .929) and shutouts (t-4th; 5). His 34 victories are a single-season franchise record, breaking the mark set by Steve Mason in 2008-09 (33 W in 61 GP).
THIRD STAR – CAREY PRICE, G, MONTREAL CANADIENS
Price went 3-0-0 with a 0.66 goals-against average, .974 save percentage and one shutout to propel the Canadiens (37-21-8, 82 points) to a perfect 4-0-0 week. He earned his 39th career shutout with 26 saves in a 1-0 overtime victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets Feb. 28. Price then allowed only one goal in each of his next two starts, making 24 saves in a 2-1 win over the Nashville Predators March 2 and 26 saves in a 4-1 triumph against the New York Rangers March 4. The 29-year-old Anahim Lake, B.C., native owns a 29-16-5 record, 2.31 goals-against average, .922 save percentage and three shutouts in 50 outings this season.
From the official NHL release:
TOEWS, FORSBERG AND HOLTBY NAMED THREE STARS FOR FEBRUARY
NEW YORK (March 1, 2017) – Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews, Nashville Predators left wing Filip Forsberg and Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the month of February.
FIRST STAR – JONATHAN TOEWS, C, CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS
Toews paced the NHL with 7-11—18 in 10 games to guide the Blackhawks (39-18-5, 83 points) to a 9-1-0 February and second place in the Western Conference. He collected at least one point in nine of his 10 outings, highlighted by five multi-point performances. That included his fourth career hat trick and second career five-point effort Feb. 21 at MIN (3-2—5) – the first five-point game by a Chicago player since Toews achieved the feat Nov. 25, 2011 at ANA (2-3—5). He also registered a pair of game-winning goals, including his ninth career overtime tally Feb. 8 at MIN (1-2—3) – the most by any player in Blackhawks history. The 28-year-old Winnipeg native has 16-30—46 in 53 contests this season, including 5-8—13 during a six-game point streak.
SECOND STAR – FILIP FORSBERG, LW, NASHVILLE PREDATORS
Forsberg led the NHL with 11 goals and ranked second with 17 points in 13 outings to lift the Predators (32-22-9, 73 points) to an 8-4-1 February and third place in the Central Division. After totaling 1-2—3 in his first seven contests of the month, Forsberg closed February with 10-4—14 during a six-game point streak that featured consecutive hat tricks and four three-point performances. He also shared the League lead with three game-winning goals, capped by his third career overtime tally in the month’s finale Feb. 28 at BUF (2-1—3). The 22-year-old Ostervala, Sweden, native paces the Predators with 26 goals and 49 points through 63 games this season.
THIRD STAR – BRADEN HOLTBY, G, WASHINGTON CAPITALS
Holtby went 8-0-1 with a 1.88 goals-against average, .928 save percentage and one shutout to backstop the League-leading Capitals (42-13-7, 91 points) to a 9-2-1 February. He allowed two or fewer goals in six of his nine appearances, highlighted by his 30th career shutout Feb. 7 vs. CAR (23 SV). The 27-year-old Lloydminster, Sask., native – who owns a 17-0-2 record in his past 19 decisions dating to Dec. 29 – has played in 47 games this season, ranking in the top three among goaltenders in goals-against average (1st; 1.95), shutouts (t-1st; 7), wins (t-2nd; 32) and save percentage (3rd; .929).
From the official NHL release:
NEW YORK (Feb. 27, 2017) – Nashville Predators left wing Filip Forsberg, Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews and Calgary Flames left wing Johnny Gaudreau have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending Feb. 26.
FIRST STAR – FILIP FORSBERG, LW, NASHVILLE PREDATORS
Forsberg led all skaters in goals and points (8-2—10 in 4 GP), including back-to-back hat tricks, as the Predators gained seven of a possible eight standings points to improve their record to 31-22-9 (71 points), third in the Central Division. On Feb. 21, Forsberg recorded his third career hat trick in a 6-5 overtime loss to the Calgary Flames and followed it up with another three-goal performance, including the winning goal, in a 4-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Feb. 23. In doing so,
Forsberg became the first player in franchise history to record hat tricks in consecutive games and the first NHL player to achieve the feat since Vancouver’s Alexandre Burrows on Jan. 5 and Jan. 7, 2010. Forsberg closed out the week with one goal and two assists in a 5-2 triumph over the Washington Capitals on Feb. 25 and one goal in a 5-4 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Feb. 26. The 22-year-old Ostervala, Sweden, native leads the Predators in goals and sits second on the team in points with 24-22—46 in 62 games.
FORSBERG, TOEWS AND GAUDREAU NAMED NHL ‘THREE STARS’ OF THE WEEK
SECOND STAR – JONATHAN TOEWS, C, CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS
Toews recorded multi-point efforts in each of the Blackhawks three games (4-5—9) as Chicago won all three contests to improve their overall record to 39-18-5 (83 points), second in the Central Division. On Feb. 21, Toews matched career highs for goals (3) and points (5) in a game, including the winning tally, in a 5-3 victory over the Central Division-leading Minnesota Wild. The Blackhawks captain then notched two assists in a 6-3 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Feb. 23 before closing out the week with one goal and one assist in a 4-2 triumph over the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 26. The 28-year-old Winnipeg, Man., native is currently riding a six-game point streak (5-8—13).
THIRD STAR – JOHNNY GAUDREAU, LW, CALGARY FLAMES
Gaudreau recorded eight points (2-6—8) in four road victories to propel the Flames (33-26-4, 70 points) to the first Wild Card position in the Western Conference. He began the week with four assists in a 6-5 OT win over the Nashville Predators Feb. 21. On Feb. 23, he recorded one assist in a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning before being held off the scoresheet in a 4-2 win over the Florida Panthers on Feb. 24. Gaudreau finished the week with two goals and one assist, including the winner, in a 3-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Feb. 26. A 23-year-old native of Salem, N.J., Gaudreau sits second in Flames scoring with 43 points (13-30—43) in 53 games.
From the official NHL release:
LAINE, KADRI AND McDAVID NAMED THREE STARS OF THE WEEK
NEW YORK (Feb. 20, 2017) – Winnipeg Jets right wing Patrik Laine, Toronto Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri and Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending Feb. 19.
FIRST STAR – PATRIK LAINE, RW, WINNIPEG JETS
Laine led the NHL with five goals and eight points in four games to propel the Jets (28-29-5, 61 points) to seven out of a possible eight standings points. He recorded his third career hat trick, including the winning goal, in a 5-2 triumph over the Dallas Stars Feb. 14. In doing so, Laine became the first player in NHL history to register three hat tricks before his 19th birthday as well as the first rookie to collect three hat tricks in one season since 1992-93. He scored again in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins Feb. 16. Laine then finished the week with consecutive multi-point efforts, notching 1-1—2 in a 3-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens Feb. 18 and two assists in a 3-2 win against the Ottawa Senators Feb. 19. The 18-year-old Tampere, Finland, native paces rookies with 52 points in 54 games this season and also shares third place in the entire NHL – as well as the rookie lead – with 28 goals.
SECOND STAR – NAZEM KADRI, C, TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
Kadri picked up points in each of his four games, totaling 4-2—6 to lift the Maple Leafs (27-20-11, 65 points) to a split of their four contests. He recorded 1-1—2, including the decisive goal, in a 7-1 victory over the New York Islanders Feb. 14. Kadri then scored twice, his fifth multi-goal outing of the season, in a 5-2 defeat to the Columbus Blue Jackets Feb. 15. He closed the week with one goal in a 6-3 loss to the Ottawa Senators Feb. 18 and one assist in a 4-0 triumph over the Carolina Hurricanes Feb. 19. The 26-year-old London, Ont., native already has established a career high with 24 goals in 58 appearances this season, while his 46 points are four shy of his personal best set in 2013-14 (20-30—50 in 78 GP).
THIRD STAR – CONNOR McDAVID, C, EDMONTON OILERS
McDavid continued his quest for the Art Ross Trophy, racking up 2-4—6 in three games to guide the Oilers (32-19-8, 72 points) to three straight wins. He began the week with two assists in a 5-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes Feb. 14. McDavid then posted 1-2—3, his eighth three-point performance of the campaign, in a 6-3 triumph against the Philadelphia Flyers Feb. 16. He capped the week by scoring his 20th goal of 2016-17 in a 3-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks Feb. 18. The 20-year-old Richmond Hill, Ont., native paces the NHL with 47 assists and 67 points in 59 games this season.
The 39-year-old winger has publicly stated his desire to join a playoff team if at all possible.
Could a reunion with his former Calgary Flames coach/GM Darryl Sutter be a possibility? A source told ESPN.com that the Los Angeles Kings have kicked around the merits of that idea, given that history between their coach and Iginla. Whether the Kings act on it and call Colorado about it remains to be seen.
The Kings have struggled offensively, so the question is whether Sutter feels he can get some juice out of Iginla at this point of his remarkable career.
If Kings GM Dean Lombardi does decide to proceed on the Iginla front -- and again, let me stress he might not -- that $5.33 million cap hit will be an issue. There's no question that the Kings would need the Avalanche to eat some of it.
What about the Edmonton Oilers? Edmonton is, after all, Iginla’s hometown. So it’s a romantic thought, for sure. His experience alone would be a nice addition for the young Oilers, who look to be playoff-bound for the first time in 11 years. But I think Edmonton’s trade-deadline focus is on a third-line center.
Whatever the case, there doesn’t seem to have been much traction on the Iginla front. I don’t believe Colorado has received much interest in him. Veteran agent Don Meehan is scheduled to meet with Iginla, who has a full no-move clause, next week.
- Teams that strike out on Arizona Coyotes center Martin Hanzal might turn their attention to the Tampa Bay Lightning's Brian Boyle, a pending unrestricted free agent and another beast of a third-line center. For now, though, I think Tampa Bay is in a holding pattern in terms of its trade-deadline plans. The Lightning are hoping to continue their winning ways from before their bye week and get closer to a playoff spot over the next two weeks. Boyle could be an 11th-hour decision closer to March 1.
- Pending unrestricted free agents Kyle Quincey and P.A. Parenteau will likely be shipped out before March 1 unless the New Jersey Devils claw their way into a playoff spot. Quincey could be an under-the-radar add-on. The left-handed defenseman plays the right side and has averaged more than 18 minutes a night. And his cap hit ($1.25 million) is easy to digest.
- Speaking of the Devils, they will have 10 draft picks in June (including two second-rounders, two third-rounders and two fourth-rounders) and could add more by dealing rental players before the deadline. Some of those picks are assets to be used in future trades, as the Devils hope to be aggressive this summer in filling needs and perhaps seeking out teams with salary-cap issues.
- Trade deadline targets for the playoff-bubble Calgary Flames: a top-nine forward who can help the offense and a defenseman -- perhaps as a rental. The Flames should try to add a young, top-four-type blueliner for the long term during the offseason.
- The Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t going to mortgage the future for a short-term fix just because they’re in the playoff race. The Leafs' long-term plan will prevail, but it’s worth noting that if they do indeed need more cap room at the trade deadline, they have up to $13.5 million in cap space available from Nathan Horton, Joffrey Lupul and Stephane Robidas, who are all on long-term injured reserve. The Leafs haven’t used those LTIR dollars all season and have been carrying those three players under their cap.
- San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson is always sneaky at this time of year, but I'm not hearing San Jose mentioned in talks as much as I'm used to. It might be because the Sharks feel they did a lot of their work last summer, when they added the likes of Mikkel Boedker and David Schlemko and because they’re 30-deep with their NHL/AHL options. Still, it’s Wilson we’re talking about, and he always has his ear to the ground at this time of year.
On Tuesday, the Montreal Canadiens dropped a bombshell, firing coach Michel Therrien and replaced him with Claude Julien, who was fired by the Boston Bruins last week. Julien, a Stanley Cup-winning coach with the Bruins, takes over the Canadiens, who are leading the Atlantic Division but have been struggling.
Scott Burnside and Joe McDonald discuss whether or not this move will change the culture in Montreal to help lead the team to success down the stretch and into the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Burnside: No love for Michel Therrien in Montreal on Valentine’s Day. I feel bad for the veteran coach who, like successor Claude Julien, always seemed to be getting fired as the head coach of the Canadiens. Of course, Julien will now enjoy the same honeymoon period that all new coaches enjoy, but soon enough Julien will feel the same pressure experienced by all coaches in Montreal. And there’s a weird kind of symmetry to this whole thing. Therrien was on his second go-around as Habs head coach and now Julien returns to the high-pressure post he held for parts of three seasons more than a decade ago. What surprises me is that Julien would sign on for the pressure cooker of the Montreal job just a week after he was fired by the Bruins. Maybe the lure of returning to the most storied franchise in the NHL was too great. Maybe the fact the Habs are a first-place club was a factor. Maybe the chance at getting right back at the Bruins was also part of the mix. But you’ve known Julien a long time, Joe. What were your first impressions of the dramatic coaching moves that marked Valentine’s Day?
McDonald: Scotty, I’m not surprised at all that Julien would accept this challenge to return to the Canadiens only a week after being fired. The thing that does shock me is Bruins president Cam Neely would give the Canadiens permission to speak with Julien; Neely has a true hatred toward the rival Canadiens. But this could be a true sign of respect for Julien that Neely and GM Don Sweeney allowed him to explore other opportunities. In fact, according to a source, other teams were given permission to speak with Julien too. Regardless, it’s the right thing to do on the Bruins’ part. For the Canadiens, this is a bold and brilliant move by GM Marc Bergevin to hire Julien. Something needed to be done in Montreal and this move could be the reason the Canadiens enjoy a deep run in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Burnside: One of the interesting sidebars after Julien was fired was the fact that the Bruins were actually a good puck-possession team. The Canadiens, as you noted in a piece, hit the bye week in a bit of a funk. Goalie Carey Price has been sideways for a while, there have been injuries and there has been the schedule that has seen Montreal play seven games in 11 days, ironically finishing with a desultory 4-0 loss to the Bruins and new head coach Bruce Cassidy. Still, if people think Julien is going to introduce a new style of hockey to the Habs, they might be forgetting that Therrien -- at least when Price has been healthy -- has played a pretty impressive style of defensive hockey too. In spite of their recent trip sideways, the Canadiens are still eighth in goals allowed per game. Where do you see Julien having a big influence in terms of the Habs’ style of play, Joey Mac?
McDonald: Julien-coached teams have always had success when they stick to their structure. Yes, he values the defense-first mentality, but in Boston we’ve seen what happens when Julien has a world-class goaltender and a solid defensive core -- it results in a potent offense. He’s also taking over this team when the roster is healthy. Julien has instant credibility with the Canadiens and has worked with Price on Team Canada for the Olympics and World Cup. And I think it’s hysterical that he goes from coaching a team with Brad Marchand to one with Andrew Shaw. I also don’t think Bergevin is done making changes. He’s working the phones, trying to make his team better because a coaching change isn’t the only thing Montreal needs.
Burnside: The pressure is indeed on Bergevin to make this team better. If he can’t add depth up front and specifically down the middle, and this team gets caught by the Ottawa Senators (which could happen, setting up a potentially perfect first-round matchup with Boston) or if they win the Atlantic and are eliminated in the first round (which is another distinct possibility, given that there’s going to be an excellent Metropolitan Division team crossing over in the first round), then Bergevin is going to look like a guy who made a coaching change because that’s what the public demanded. But I don’t think he’s that kind of guy and I do think there is help coming in the form of a Martin Hanzal or someone similar before the March 1 trade deadline. But by making this kind of move, Bergevin set himself up as a fall guy in a town that loves to take its hockey people down. So, how do you see this playing out over the next few weeks and months?
McDonald: Julien is a much different coach now than during his first stint with the Canadiens. He has won a Stanley Cup and knows what it takes to enjoy success in the spring. The initial move will pay dividends for Bergevin and the Canadiens. It would be great theater if somehow the Canadiens and Bruins compete in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Julien would never admit it, but no doubt there’s a part of him that accepted this job with a sense of retribution. If Bergevin acquires other important pieces, and the Canadiens enjoy a deep run, the GM will look like a genius. If the team’s current tailspin continues, then he will become the fall guy. But there’s no doubt in my mind he made the right move by hiring Julien.
From the official NHL release:
POMINVILLE, ALLEN AND ARVIDSSON
NAMED THREE STARS OF THE WEEK
NEW YORK (Feb. 13, 2017) – Minnesota Wild right winger Jason Pominville, St. Louis Blues goaltender Jake Allen and Nashville Predators left winger Viktor Arvidsson have been named the NHL’s Three Stars for the week ending Feb. 12.
FIRST STAR – JASON POMINVILLE, RW, MINNESOTA WILD
Pominville paced the NHL with six assists and eight points in four games to power the Western Conference-leading Wild (37-12-6, 80 points) to a 3-0-1 week. He registered 2-2—4, his fourth career four-point performance and first since Jan. 1, 2011 (w/ BUF), in a 4-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets Feb. 7. He then collected one assist in both a 4-3 overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks Feb. 8 and a 2-1 shootout win against the Tampa Bay Lightning Feb. 10. Pominville capped the week with two more helpers, his sixth multi-point effort of 2016-17, in a 6-3 triumph over the Detroit Red Wings Feb. 12. The 34-year-old Repentigny, Que., native has 10-25—35 in 55 outings this season, including 2-7—9 during a five-game point streak.
SECOND STAR – JAKE ALLEN, G, ST. LOUIS BLUES
Allen went 3-0-0 with a 1.00 goals-against average, .967 save percentage and one shutout to propel the Blues (29-22-5, 63 points) to a perfect week and third place in the Central Division. He earned his 13th career shutout with 30 saves in a 6-0 win over the Ottawa Senators Feb. 7. Allen then made 31 stops in a 2-1 overtime victory against the Toronto Maple Leafs Feb. 9 and 28 saves in a 4-2 triumph over the Montreal Canadiens Feb. 11. The 26-year-old Fredericton, N.B., native owns a 21-14-3 record with a 2.67 goals-against average, .904 save percentage and two shutouts in 41 appearances this season.
THIRD STAR – VIKTOR ARVIDSSON, LW, NASHVILLE PREDATORS
Arvidsson shared the League lead in goals (5) and ranked second in points (7) to guide the Predators (27-21-8, 62 points) to a split of their four games. He posted 2-1—3, his second career three-point performance, in a 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks Feb. 7. Arvidsson was held off the scoresheet in a 4-3 loss to the New York Rangers Feb. 9, but rebounded with his first career hat trick in a 7-4 defeat against the Florida Panthers Feb. 11 and one assist in a 5-3 win over the Dallas Stars Feb. 12. The 23-year-old Skellefteć, Sweden, native ranks second on the Predators with 18-21—39 in 54 contests this season after totaling 8-8—16 in his first 62 career games.
From the official NHL release:
AHO, GRANLUND AND BUDAJ NAMED NHL ‘THREE STARS’ OF THE WEEK
NEW YORK (Feb. 6, 2017) – Carolina Hurricanes right wing Sebastian Aho, Minnesota Wild center Mikael Granlund and Los Angeles Kings goaltender Peter Budaj have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending Feb. 5.
FIRST STAR – SEBASTIAN AHO, RW, CAROLINA HURRICANES
Aho tied for the league lead with four goals (4-1—5) including two game-winning tallies as the Hurricanes (24-20-7, 55 points) won all three of their games. On Jan. 31, Aho recorded his first career hat trick, including the game-winning goal, and added one assist in a 5-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. He added another game-winning goal in a 2-1 win against the Edmonton Oilers on Feb. 3 before being held pointless in a 5-4 overtime victory over the New York Islanders on Feb. 4. Chosen 35th overall by Carolina in the 2015 NHL Draft, the 19-year-old Rauma, Finland native ranks third among rookies with 16 goals and tied for sixth with 31 points (16-15—31).
SECOND STAR – MIKAEL GRANLUND, C, MINNESOTA WILD
Granlund finished the week tied for first in points with 3-3—6 as the Western Conference-leading Wild (34-12-5, 73 points) won two of three contests. On Jan. 31, Granlund recorded one assist in a 5-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers and on Feb. 1, he registered one assist in a 5-1 loss to the Calgary Flames. Granlund closed out the week by recording his first career hat trick and added one assist in a 6-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Feb. 4. In his fifth NHL season, all with Minnesota, the 24-year-old Oulu, Finland, native leads the Wild with 48 points (15-33—48) and is riding a franchise-best 12 game point streak (5-12—17), the longest such run in the NHL this season.
THIRD STAR – PETER BUDAJ, G, LOS ANGELES KINGS
Budaj went 3-1-0 with a 1.62 goals-against average, .930 save percentage and two shutouts as the Kings, who hold the first Wild Card spot in the Western Conference, improved to 27-22-4 (58 points). Budaj opened the week by stopping 30 shots in a 3-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Jan.31. He then recorded consecutive shutouts in a 5-0 win against the Colorado Avalanche on Feb. 1 (22 saves) and a 1-0 overtime victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Feb. 4 (17 saves). He finished the week by stopping 11 shots over two periods as the Kings fell 5-0 to the Washington Capitals on Feb. 5. Budaj, a 34-year-old Banska Bystrica, Slovakia native has posted a 25-15-3 record this season with a 2.02 goals-against average, .920 save percentage and a League-leading seven shutouts.
Shattenkirk is in the final season of a four-year, $17 million deal and is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. If he were to agree to an extension with the team that acquires him, it could help the Blues garner more value in a trade.
I think St. Louis would be open to that kind of scenario under the right circumstances. But I’ve yet to hear of a single team that has actually contacted the Blues about it. Sources around the league indicate that all the clubs that have talked to St. Louis are interested more in a rental scenario for the defenseman.
"Because of the flat-cap fear," said one Eastern Conference team executive.
So many teams are hamstrung by the cap already, and offering $7 million a year to the 28-year-old blueliner would be a huge commitment to make before next season’s financial landscape is fully clear.
Don’t get me wrong; if Shattenkirk is still unsigned on July 1 and hits the market as the uncontested, No. 1 blueliner available, he’s going to get huge money. But I get the feeling some of the teams want to wait until June, when they know the exact salary-cap figure they're dealing with before splurging on him.
Then again, it’s early. Perhaps during the next three-plus weeks a team will decide that trying to sign him now is worth it after examining all of its options.
As speculated elsewhere, I believe the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins are among the teams that have kicked the tires on Shattenkirk. But I also think that veteran Blues GM Doug Armstrong is in no hurry and will remain patient. The offers for the No. 1 available defenseman on this year’s market will only improve. There aren’t any better blueliners available.
- I believe that Ken Hitchcock wants to coach again, but with a caveat. I think the right fit for the veteran coach will hinge on his working relationship with the team's GM and not its talent level. If Hitchcock finds a GM (like he had in Doug Armstrong) whom he can fully trust and who will let him flex his coaching philosophy, he would consider coaching again. He will not coach again just to coach.
- Matt Duchene has no shortage of suitors, but the Colorado Avalanche are patiently waiting this out. If they don’t get the high-quality package they covet in return, they’re ready to wait until after the season. "There’s a better deal in June for them," opined one Western Conference team executive. The Montreal Canadiens, I believe, are among many interested teams -- but not at a sky-high price.
- I still think 6-foot-6 pending unrestricted free-agent center Martin Hanzal is a better fit for the Habs because they need his size. I'm hearing that the Arizona Coyotes have serious inquiries from 10 teams and are in the process of whittling down the list.
- The Los Angeles Kings and Avalanche chatted briefly last month about Gabriel Landeskog. But I don’t think there’s an obvious fit given the Avs’ penchant for a young, high-end defensive prospect as being part of any deal.
- A nice consolation prize for teams that strike out on Shattenkirk could be pending UFA Dmitry Kulikov. The Buffalo Sabres will move Kulikov close to March 1 if they fall out of the playoff race.
- My understanding is that, for the Toronto Maple Leafs, the bigger picture still trumps all. Of course, winning this season is important, as it would help the growth of the team's young core. But I don’t think the Leafs will spend any high-end future assets for a big rental. So an impactful trade would need to address both short-term needs -- and beyond.
- I don’t view the Edmonton Oilers as a current trade fit for Shattenkirk. The Oilers have taken significant strides this season and are likely playoff-bound, but now is not the time in their window to flush out major future assets for a costly rental.
From the official NHL release:
KUZNETSOV, MARCHAND AND BURNS NAMED
THREE STARS FOR JANUARY
NEW YORK (Feb. 1, 2017) – Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov, Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand and San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the month of January.
FIRST STAR – EVGENY KUZNETSOV, C, WASHINGTON CAPITALS
Kuznetsov ranked second in the NHL with 7-13—20 in 15 games to power the League-leading Capitals (33-11-6, 72 points) to a 12-2-1 January. He collected at least one point in 11 of his 15 outings, highlighted by seven multi-point performances. That included his third career four-point game, a 1-3—4 effort Jan. 3 vs. TOR. Kuznetsov also placed third in the NHL with a +13 rating during the month, finishing with an even or plus rating in all but one his 15 appearances. The 24-year-old Chelyabinsk, Russia, native ranks third on the Capitals with 10-29—39 in 50 games this season after finishing 10th in the NHL with 20-57—77 in 82 contests in 2015-16, all career highs.
SECOND STAR – BRAD MARCHAND, LW, BOSTON BRUINS
Marchand led the NHL with 11-9—20 in 14 games to guide the Bruins (26-21-6, 58 points) to a 6-6-2 January. He picked up at least one point in nine of his 14 contests, highlighted by his third career five-point performance (and second of the season) Jan. 14 vs. PHI (2-3—5). Marchand also posted five multi-goal games, pacing the League with 11 goals overall, and led the NHL with three shorthanded goals and four shorthanded points. The 28-year-old Halifax, N.S., native ranks sixth in the NHL with 21-30—51 in 53 appearances this season and also shares the League lead with three shorthanded goals.
THIRD STAR – BRENT BURNS, D, SAN JOSE SHARKS
Burns paced NHL defensemen with six goals, 12 assists and 18 points in 14 games to lift the Pacific Division-leading Sharks (32-17-2, 66 points) to a 9-4-1 January. He recorded at least one point in 10 of his 14 outings, including six multi-point efforts. Burns also posted a pair of three-point performances, Jan. 10 at EDM (1-2—3) and Jan. 23 at COL (1-2—3), giving him three on the season. The 31-year-old Barrie, Ont., native ranks fourth in the NHL with 21-32—53 through 51 contests in 2016-17, leading all defensemen in both goals and points, and also paces the entire League in shots on goal (196).
Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun weren't surprised that the St. Louis Blues fired coach Ken Hitchcock. But what's next?
Burnside: Maybe "inevitable" is a bit too strong, but was anyone around the hockey world surprised at the news Wednesday morning that veteran head coach Ken Hitchcock was fired and that coach-in-waiting Mike Yeo would be waiting no more? Asked and answered. The Blues’ disheartening 5-3 loss to the Winnipeg Jets Tuesday night was more of the same from a team that a year ago advanced to a Western Conference finals and looked at the outset to be a conference force once again. But Tuesday’s loss was a microcosm of what is looking suddenly like a lost season: poor team defense, shoddy goaltending and a lack of timely scoring, as the Blues lost for the third straight time at home and the fifth time in their last six games at Scottrade Center. When Hitchcock announced before the season that he would retire at the end of this season and GM Doug Armstrong took the unusual step of naming Hitchcock’s successor in Yeo, who would stand behind the bench with Hitchcock, we all wondered how the dynamic would work out. Given that this is a results-oriented business and the Blues are on the verge of falling out of the playoff picture, I have to say the plan looks more than a little ill-conceived. Any surprise for you on how this has gone down, my friend?
LeBrun: Sadly, no surprise. We hinted at this possibility in our Morning Roundtable recently because the whispers coming out of St. Louis seemed to suggest not all the players were on the same page as the veteran coach. The Blues, in fact, have the third-worst record in the NHL since Dec. 8 at 9-14-1, just a .396 points percentage, behind only the Colorado Avalanche (.196) and the Arizona Coyotes (.375), and I think we know how those teams' seasons are going. But it’s such an unfair business in many ways because Hitchcock is one of the best ever in the business. It would be nice had he got a few saves along the way. No. 1 goalie Jake Allen, who recently took a break from the team to reset, has a .896 save percentage, while backup Carter Hutton hasn’t been much better, at .895. I don’t care if you’re Scotty Bowman; you’re not winning a lot of games with that type of goaltending. Having said that, it’s clear the issues were deeper than that. Maybe even having announced Hitchcock as a lame-duck coach last summer with Yeo as his replacement-in-waiting put an odd feeling on the players. Either way, no, this was not surprising at all.
Burnside: The big question, of course, is now what? And I think that applies to both Hitchcock and the Blues. Their poor play and, specifically, their brutal goaltending (the Blues are tied for 27th in goals allowed per game -- when was the last time that happened to a Hitchcock-coached team? Peewee?) have put Armstrong in a tough spot. They’re still very much in the hunt for a playoff spot but can’t get there without an upgrade in goaltending. Does Armstrong explore trading for Ben Bishop or Marc-Andre Fleury before the March 1 trade deadline to try to reinvigorate his team? We’ve seen how the New York Islanders responded so positively under interim head coach Doug Weight after they fired Jack Capuano, so maybe the coaching change and a goaltending upgrade change the entire dynamics in St. Louis. Or does Armstrong simply cut his losses and concentrate on getting the best return for pending free agent defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who would be the biggest-name defenseman on the trade market if Armstrong decides to become a seller? Tough choices all the way around.
LeBrun: It’s a real crossroads moment for this franchise, which has been very well run and competitive for a long time. But the all-in window can’t be open forever. Let’s start with Armstrong, the GM of Team Canada’s winning World Cup of Hockey squad. He’s got one more year left on his deal, I believe, after this season. If you’re him, do you scramble to add pieces (like a goalie, as you mentioned), or simply accept that this team, after years of contending, needs to retool on the fly? It’s still a terrific core, but perhaps needs a bit of re-seasoning. The Blues lost free agents Troy Brouwer and David Backes for nothing last summer. It’s why they can’t afford to lose Shattenkirk for nothing this time around. It’s why they will trade him before March 1. But I don’t think Armstrong will look at this team and decide he has to spend future assets for a rental to save the season. I believe that in Armstrong’s mind, you only do that if you’re among the four to five elite teams in the league, which the Blues were a year ago. You don’t spend high picks or prospects for rental players if you’re a bubble team, which they are now.
Burnside: Agreed on the Blues. Very difficult times for a franchise that hungers so deeply for a championship run that has never happened. Not exactly the way they thought their 50th anniversary would go, no? As for Hitchcock, he is fourth in NHL history in coaching wins. Is this it for him? Understandable if the Civil War buff wants to pursue something completely different, but honestly it’s hard to imagine Hitchcock taking any appreciable time away from the game. Maybe he consults or advises or takes a media job, but the game is always richer when people like Hitchcock are involved. Many people will draw a straight line to the Vegas Golden Knights, who will begin play next season as an expansion team, and Hitchcock has experience selling a new team given his time with the Columbus Blue Jackets in the team’s early days. But you have to wonder if Vegas GM George McPhee might be worried about a little burnout on Hitchcock’s behalf given that he doesn’t do anything half-measure.
LeBrun: As for Hitchcock, we’ll need to see after he’s had time to decompress what he feels about his coaching future. He’s not a spring chicken, and coaching in the NHL takes a physical and mental toll. Does he call it quits, or does the fire still burn? If it’s the latter, I have to believe McPhee will at the very least want to chat with him. The Golden Knights have already spoken with Gerard Gallant but I think want to be able to talk to as many top candidates as possible before hiring their first-ever coach.
From the official NHL release:
SIMMONDS, MARLEAU AND ANDERSEN
NAMED NHL ‘THREE STARS’ OF THE WEEK
NEW YORK (Jan. 30, 2017) – Philadelphia Flyers right wing Wayne Simmonds, San Jose Sharks left wing Patrick Marleau and Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending Jan. 29.
FIRST STAR – WAYNE SIMMONDS, RW, PHILADELPHIA FLYERS
Simmonds earned MVP honors at Sunday’s 2017 Honda NHL All-Star Game and also registered two goals in two contests earlier in the week with the Flyers (25-19-6, 56 points). Making his All-Star Game debut in the city where he played his first three NHL seasons, Simmonds scored twice in the Metropolitan Division’s 10-6 semifinal win over the Atlantic Division before potting the tournament-clinching goal in a 4-3 triumph against the Pacific Division in the final. Earlier in the week, Simmonds notched the winning goal in a 2-0 victory over the New York Rangers Jan. 25 and again found the back of the net in a 2-1 triumph against the Toronto Maple Leafs Jan. 26. The 28-year-old Scarborough, Ont., native paces the Flyers and shares ninth place in the NHL with 21 goals in 50 games this season (21-17—38).
SECOND STAR – PATRICK MARLEAU, LW, SAN JOSE SHARKS
Marleau led the NHL with five goals and six points in three games to power the Pacific Division-leading Sharks (31-17-2, 64 points) to a pair of wins. He tied a League record with four goals in one period (the 3rd) of a 5-2 victory against the Colorado Avalanche Jan. 23, becoming the 12th player in NHL history to achieve the feat and first since Jan. 26, 1997 (Mario Lemieux). Marleau added one goal in a 4-3 triumph over the Winnipeg Jets Jan. 24 and one assist in a 4-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers Jan. 26. The 37-year-old Aneroid, Sask., native ranks fifth among active players with 498-564—1,062 in 1,461 career games played, including 17-9—26 in 50 outings this season.
THIRD STAR – FREDERIK ANDERSEN, G, TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
Andersen earned two shutouts in as many appearances, stopping all 48 shots he faced, to propel the Maple Leafs (23-15-9, 55 points) to two victories in three contests. He turned aside 26 shots in a 4-0 triumph against the Calgary Flames Jan. 23 and made 22 saves in a 4-0 win over the Detroit Red Wings Jan. 25. In doing so, Andersen posted consecutive shutouts for the first time in his NHL career (164 GP). The 27-year-old Herning, Denmark, native – who is in his first campaign with the Maple Leafs – owns a 21-10-8 record with a 2.55 goals-against average, .921 save percentage and three shutouts in 39 games this season.