The NHL handed out its three star awards for the week of February 7th to 13th: New York Islanders speedster Michael Grabner (first), Buffalo Sabres winger Drew Stafford (second) and Phoenix Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov (third).
Here are summaries of their exemplary seven days, with comments from the league’s press release and our own thoughts.
First star: Grabner
This is the second three stars appearance for Grabner in 2011, as he seems to be heating up since winning the fastest skater competition in the all-star game. He had an impressive eight goals and nine points overall in four games this week. The Islanders managed to win three in four games during that span.
Winner of the ‘Fastest Skater’ competition at the 2011 NHL All-Star Weekend in Raleigh two weeks ago, the 23-year-old Villach, Austria native has an active five-game goal streak — the longest by an NHL rookie since Bobby Ryan of the Anaheim Ducks scored in five consecutive games in January 2009, and the longest by an Islanders rookie since Patrick Flatley had a six-game streak in November 1984.
Second star: Stafford
Stafford’s success has been one of the surprises of this season. He earned two hat tricks this week alone, giving him the league lead with four in 2010-11.
Stafford scored three goals and posted a +3 rating in a 7-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning Feb. 8 and posted another three-goal, +3 performance in a 7-6 overtime loss to the New York Islanders Feb. 13. Playing in his fifth NHL season, the 25-year-old Milwaukee native leads the Sabres in goals with a career-high 23. He has scored 20 goals, including all four hat tricks, in his past 24 games.
Third star: Bryzgalov
The Russian goalie is making good on a contract year, as he has 23 wins and an impressive 93.8 save percentage on the season. The Coyotes are a serious threat for the Pacific Division crown, largely on the strength of Bryzgalov’s strong work.
Bryzgalov posted a 3-0-0 record, 1.29 goals-against average, .948 save percentage and one shutout as the Coyotes (29-19-9) climbed to sixth place in the Western Conference standings. Bryzgalov stopped 73 of 77 shots last week, beginning with a 26-save performance in posting his fifth shutout of the season, a 3-0 victory over the Colorado Avalanche Feb. 7.