Honda NHL SuperSkills

NHL names three stars of All-Star week: Eric Staal, Jonathan Quick, and Michael Grabner

The 2011 NHL All-Star Game had an influence on the January 24-30th three stars of the week, as first star Eric Staal and third star Michael Grabner’s weekend outputs probably had a big impact on the voting. It wasn’t all about the all-star game, though, as Jonathan Quick was named the second star.

Let’s take a look a the weeks those three players had, with a combination of press release info and our own remarks.

First star: Staal

The Carolina Hurricanes captain served as a sturdy (if a bit plain) ambassador for the hosting ‘Canes. All weekend long, the focus would eventually shift to the talented captain of the Hurricanes (and Team Staal) and he shined brightly.

His two goals in the All-Star game probably helped him earn last week’s first star, but it wasn’t a mere symbolic award because he produced a nice week during the “real” games too.

Prior to serving as captain of Team Staal at the 2011 NHL All-Star celebration in Raleigh, Staal tallied four points in a pair of victories during an abbreviated week to help the Hurricanes (25-19-6) close within one point of a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.

Second star: Quick

The Los Angeles Kings goalie began the season red-hot, holding off Jonathan Bernier for the top spot in the net while generating some dark horse buzz for the Vezina Trophy. The American netminder regressed to the mean along with his struggling team, but Quick and the Kings showed some signs of life last week.

Quick registered a pair of victories heading into the All-Star break, helping the Kings (27-22-1) gain valuable points and momentum in the tight race for playoff berths in the Western Conference.

Third star: Grabner

Grabner had a goal and an assist in the Islanders’ one game last week, but his third star nomination was all about the SuperSkills competition. He dominated the fastest skater contest on Saturday, posting the two best speeds while beating speedy Edmonton Oilers winger Taylor Hall both times.

Derek Roy signs in Swiss league

Derek Roy, Jeremy Smith, Chris Kelly
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Derek Roy has finally found work — but it’s not in the NHL.

Roy, who spent the entire preseason in Washington’s camp on a PTO, has signed with SC Bern of Switzerland’s National League A, the club announced on Friday.

The news comes after Roy narrowly missed out on making the Caps roster, and just one year after he had something of a bounce-back campaign in Edmonton, scoring 22 points in 46 games while developing chemistry with young winger Nail Yakupov.

A 12-year NHL veteran, Roy is one of the more prominent names to be squeezed out of work this season, and head overseas. The 31-year-old has scored over 500 points in 738 career contests, and has twice represented Canada at the World Hockey Championships.

With Bern, Roy will play on one of Switzerland’s stronger teams, alongside a trio of ex-NHLers: Chuck Kobasew, Andrew Ebbett and Cory Conacher.

Lehner’s injury ‘doesn’t look like it’s short term’

Robin Lehner
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Robin Lehner might not be back anytime soon.

Making his debut with the Buffalo Sabres, the 24-year-old goaltender couldn’t complete Thursday’s game against his former squad, the Ottawa Senators, due to what has now been revealed to be a right leg injury.

When he left the arena, he was wearing a walking boot on that nearly went up to his knee.

“It doesn’t look like it’s short term,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma told the Buffalo News. “It’s more than day-to-day at this point, but we need to evaluate further.”

It’s a rocky start to what’s an important campaign for Lehner. He has been given an opportunity to demonstrate that he’s ready to be a starting goaltender after being acquired by the Sabres over the summer, but it looks like that will have to be postponed.

While he’s sidelined, Chad Johnson is likely to be leaned on heavily.