Philadelphia forward Jakub Voracek has been named the NHL’s first star of the week after piling up 11 points in four games – a stretch that included his first career hat trick Wednesday against the Penguins.
Voracek, 23, leads the Flyers with 22 points and has led a much-needed offensive turnaround for his team.
“Skating is a key to his success,” Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette said of Voracek, per CSNPhilly.com. “He’s a talented guy. When he uses his speed and quickness, he is able to generate a lot of offense. Since he’s been here, he’s gotten the opportunity to move the puck around with some decent players.
“And get on a first power-play unit and handle the puck a lot in situations where he deserves to be. There is an experience and process where you mature through time in the National Hockey League.
“He was young when he first got here. … You grow and develop and continue to gain insight into the league with experience to develop your skills. That’s where he has gone.”
Voracek – the seventh overall pick in the 2007 draft – was traded from Columbus to Philadelphia, along with a first- and third-round selection, in the summer of 2011 for Jeff Carter.
The NHL’s second and third stars of the week were Tampa Bay forward Steven Stamkos and Ottawa goalie Ben Bishop, respectively.
Stamkos had one goal in each of the Lightning’s four games last week and has vaulted to the top of the NHL’s scoring race, with 29 points in 18 games.
Bishop, meanwhile, went 3-0-0 with a 2.03 goals-against average and .931 save percentage while making Sens fans feel a tiny bit better about their team’s string of injuries.
Measure of revenge: Kings delay clinching efforts for Flames, Blues
Deep down, the Los Angeles Kings probably realize that their season will end on game 82. Still, they kept their slim playoff hopes alive on Wednesday night … and managed to spite a team they’re growing to hate.
OK, maybe the hate is almost totally focused upon Matthew Tkachuk, yet the disdain for that talented-but-tormenting rookie was palpable.
It didn’t feel like the Kings exacted physical revenge on Tkachuk, but beating his team 4-1 ranked as classic scoreboard vengeance. With that, the Calgary Flames (and by extension the St. Louis Blues) will need to wait to clinch a playoff berth.
Now, as much as tonight was about Tkachuk, the focus was also on a pugnacious player who once dazzled for the Flames: Jarome Iginla.
In what might be Iginla’s final visit to Calgary – at least as an active NHL player – he was one of the best players on the ice. His fitting curtain call included a “Gordie Howe hat trick” with a spirited fight, an assist and a goal.
It’s official: the NHL will hold preseason games in China before next season.
The league made the announcement on Wednesday night: the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks will play two exhibitions: one on Sept. 21 (Shanghai) and Sept. 23 (Beijing). How cool is that?
“It is a privilege and an honor for the L.A. Kings to represent the National Hockey League in China as part of these two games against the Vancouver Canucks,” Kings president Luc Robitaille said. “Growing the game of hockey is something we take great pride in and it is a big priority for our hockey club and AEG as a whole. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our players and our staff, and we are looking forward to the games taking place in two tremendous facilities in two remarkable cities.”
Blame it on injuries if you want, or emphasize the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall hot finish to the season. Either way, Chicago scorched the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 5-1, a contest that felt more or less over by the time the first period ended 4-0 in the Blackhawks’ favor.
The Blackhawks scored by committee on Wednesday, with Artemi Panarin (goal, assist) and Patrick Kane (two assists) being the headliners. Meanwhile, former Penguin Marian Hossa has quietly climbed to 25 goals on the season.
Meanwhile, the Penguins limped through this one and have now lost four consecutive games.
With this result, the Blackhawks look like close to a lock to win the Central Division title. Meanwhile, the Metro crown is virtually unthinkable for Pittsburgh, and the Penguins might also need to accept the likelihood that they may not enjoy home-ice advantage in the first round.
They’d probably accept that more easily if they can get healthier and get back on track. Wednesday was a little worrisome in those regards.