After winning all three of his starts and allowing just one goal in each, Minnesota Wild G Josh Harding has been named the NHL’s First Star of the Week. Harding stopped 35 of 36 shots in a 2-1 OT win over Detroit, 24 of 25 in a 5-1 win over Vancouver and 30 of 31 in a 3-1 over St. Louis.
Not a bad week, that.
By winning first star, Harding also further fired up the goaltending controversy started by head coach Mike Yeo, who has gone with Harding in each of Minnesota’s last four contests. While Mike Russo of the Minnesota Star-Tribune says Niklas Backstrom “will almost certainly start” in Calgary on Tuesday, you have to wonder if that’s simply to rest the Wild’s new No. 1. Backstrom’s 33 and hasn’t achieved anywhere near the success (statistically speaking, anyway) he did in 2008-09, when he was nominated for the Vezina.
Second star of the week went to Dallas’ Loui Eriksson. The 26-year-old Swede registered 2G-4A-6PTS in two games — tallying three points each against the Avs and ‘Canes — and now leads all Stars in scoring with 15 points on the year.
[Random Loui Eriksson factoid: In 2003-04, he played with Vastra Frolunda of the Swedish Elite League as an 18-year-old. His teammates included 19-year old Alex Steen (now with St. Louis) and the Lundqvist twins, 21-year-olds Joel (formerly of the Stars) and Henrik (currently with the New York Rangers.) Not surprisingly, Frolunda was one of the best teams in Sweden that year.]
Third star of the week went to Washington’s Nicklas Backstrom, not to be confused with the Minnesota goaltender we just finished throwing under the bus. Backstrom also scored six points last week (3G-3A) but did it in three games. Backstrom now has 13 assists in 12 games and shares the league lead with Vancouver’s Henrik Sedin and Tampa Bay’s Marc-Andre Bergeron.
(Cue the music for “One of these things is not like the other…”)
You probably know the drill: injury updates are murky in the NHL basically from the moment a puck drops.
We’ll learn more once the 2015-16 season begins, but at the moment, Saturday might have served as a costly night for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn went down with injuries stemming from a 3-2 pre-season win against the Florida Panthers.
“Guys were dropping like flies,” Steven Stamkos told the Tamba Bay Times.
These could be minor situations – just about any ailment will sideline a key asset this time of year – yet one cannot help but wonder if the Lightning might limp into this campaign.
Nikita Kucherov is dealing with his own issues, so that means at least minor issues for one half of the Bolts’ top six forwards.
It’s believed that more will be known about these banged-up Bolts sometime on Sunday.
With knee issues still limiting him, Raffi Torres isn’t as mobile as he once was. Apparently he still moves well enough to leave the usual path of destruction.
It’s the pre-season, so it’s unclear if we’ll get a good look at the check, but Torres received a match penalty for his hit on Anaheim Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg.
Most accounts were pretty critical of the San Jose Sharks’ chief troublemaker:
It’s too early to tell if Silfverberg is injured. If he is, that’s a significant loss for the Ducks, as he really showed signs of fulfilling his promise (especially during the 2015 playoffs).
As far as Torres goes, he’s hoping to play in the Sharks’ season-opener. Wherever he ends up, he’ll certainly make plenty of enemies on the ice.
Whether it was because of that hit or just the general distaste shared by those sides, it sounds like tonight’s Sharks – Ducks exhibition is getting ugly, in general:
This post will be updated if video of the hit becomes available, and also if we get a better idea of Silfverberg’s condition.
Update: All that’s been announced about Silfverberg is that he’s under evaluation and will not return.