After scoring five goals and putting forth a masterful performance on national television, Pittsburgh center Evgeni Malkin has been named the NHL’s first star of the week.
The honor is becoming old hat for Malkin. He’s been named a star in three of the last six weeks (third star on Dec. 19 and Jan. 16, first star this week) and was December’s first star of the month as well. He now has 35 points in his last 23 games — including three points in a 4-3 OT decision over Washington on NBC on Sunday — and is at the forefront of the Hart Trophy race, with his play being a major catalyst in Pittsburgh’s recent turnaround. The Pens have won six straight and are now just six points back of the Rangers for top spot in the Atlantic Division.
Second star of the week went to Philadelphia’s Scott Hartnell. He continued his banner campaign with a two-goal effort against New Jersey and a natural hat-trick against the Bruins. Hartnell is now fifth in the NHL in goals, with 25 (his previous career-high was 30) and leads the league in power-play goals, with 13. It’s probably safe to assume that, should the NHL need a capable replacement for the 2012 NHL All-Star game, Hartnell is at the top of the list.
Third star of the week went to Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov. He allowed just two goals in three starts last week, posting a 17-save shutout of the Capitals, then stopped 40 of 41 shots against the Flyers and 32 of 33 against the Hurricanes. He’s riding a four-game winning streak and has a .965 save percentage over that time.
With training camp and the preseason now in full swing, it appears the Bruins are bringing in a veteran blue liner — at least on a professional tryout.
On Friday, TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported that unrestricted free agent blue liner Christian Ehrhoff is about to join Boston on a PTO following his showing at the World Cup of Hockey.
In six games with Team Europe, Ehrhoff had three assists — all at even strength — and nine shots on goal.
Ehrhoff is now 34 years old, and the Bruins already have a pair of seasoned defenders in Zdeno Chara (39 years old) and John-Michael Liles (35 years old) on their roster. Adam McQuaid turns 30 years old in October.
He was most productive during two seasons in Vancouver, a puck-moving defenseman that could effectively skate the puck out of trouble and move the attack that way if need be. But that was from 2009 to 2011. His production has dipped, especially over the last three years.
He was also pivotal to Vancouver’s power play, especially in 2011 when the Canucks won the Presidents’ Trophy and made it to the Stanley Cup Final — against Boston.
Again, that was five years ago.
Lehner (forearm contusion) to miss preseason game versus Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs play the Buffalo Sabres on Friday. But No. 1 overall pick Auston Matthews won’t be in the lineup, according to multiple reports.
“Sooner or later, he’s going to get in, but not tonight,” said assistant coach Jim Hiller, as per the Toronto Sun.
“The lineups are day by day. They (World Cup players such as Matthews, Milan Michalek, Leo Komarov and James van Riemsdyk) went through a solid three weeks. It’s a little break, a little down time. There are tons of games coming. They’ll get a lot of ice time. They’ll get in shortly.”
(The report also notes that Matthews is not dealing with a health issue, which is obviously good news for the Leafs.)
Matthews played for Team North America at the World Cup held in Toronto. He had two goals and three points in three round robin games, but the young North American team was unable to advance to the semifinal round.
The Maple Leafs play the Montreal Canadiens at home on Sunday.
McLellan: Maroon’s lower-body injury not considered serious
It appears Patrick Maroon‘s injury from Wednesday’s preseason game against the Vancouver Canucks looked worse than it is.
The Edmonton Oilers forward was in obvious pain immediately after he went hard into the boards from an awkward hit delivered by James Sheppard just past the midway point of the third period. Maroon needed help to the bench and was unable to put much, if any, pressure on his left leg.