After recording four wins, a .972 save percentage and 0.77 GAA, Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky was named the NHL’s first star of the week on Monday.
Bobrovsky, 24, started the week by relieving Steve Mason in a 4-3 shootout win over Edmonton, followed by a 34-save effort in a victory over Vancouver.
‘Bob’ then beat Detroit in consecutive games, posting 30 saves in a 3-0 win on Saturday — the first shutout of his NHL career — before stopping another 21 shots in a 2-1 OT win on Sunday.
Second star of the week went to Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby.
Crosby led all skaters with nine assists and 11 points last week, taking a stranglehold of the NHL’s scoring lead in the process. Crosby is now eight points clear of Tampa Bay’s Steve Stamkos and nine clear of linemate Chris Kunitz, the NHL’s third-leading scorer.
The highlight of Crosby’s week came on Sunday, in which he tied a career-high with five assists in a 6-1 romp. In doing so, Crosby became the only active NHLer to record more than one five-assist game.
Third star of the week went to Los Angeles’ Jeff Carter.
Carter scored six goals in four games last week, bringing his overall total on the season to 17. That puts him in a tie for second with Kunitz and James Neal, all of whom sit behind league leader Steve Stamkos (19 goals).
Carter also scored two-game winning goals this week — against Nashville and St. Louis — and now leads the NHL in game-winning goals this season, with six.
Talk about getting thrown into the fire.
Antti Niemi is expected to be the starting goalie tonight in Dallas when his Stars host Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Niemi has, not surprisingly, been given the assignment over Kari Lehtonen, the latter of whom struggled badly during the preseason, allowing 15 goals on 84 shots.
Not that Niemi was razor sharp himself. He allowed eight goals on 65 shots, for a save percentage of .877.
Considering the Stars have a combined $10.4 million in cap space tied up in those two veteran netminders, it’s no wonder the number-one question facing the club is whether the goaltending has indeed been fixed.
We’ll start to find out tonight.
Marc-Andre Fleury will undoubtedly be in goal for Pittsburgh, though that hasn’t been confirmed.
— Craig Anderson, the goalie the Senators decided to keep, versus Robin Lehner, the one they traded to the Sabres.
— Cam Ward will start for Carolina when the Hurricanes visit the Predators, who will obviously go with Pekka Rinne. The consensus is that Eddie Lack will eventually supplant Ward as Carolina’s starter, but that apparently hasn’t happened yet.
— Brian Elliott goes for the Blues versus Cam Talbot for the Oilers. Elliott was excellent in the preseason, stopping all but two of the 57 shots he faced, while Jake Allen allowed six goals on 60 shots.
— Steve Mason for the Flyers versus Ben Bishop for the Lightning.
— Ondrej Pavelec for Winnipeg versus Tuukka Rask for Boston.
— Devan Dubnyk likely for the Wild versus Semyon Varlamov for the Avs.
Jakub Voracek totally understands why nobody’s expecting much from the Philadelphia Flyers. When a team finishes 14 points out of the playoffs the year before, that’s typically going to be the case.
“We weren’t good enough last year, let’s face it,” Voracek told CSN Philly.
So, no, it doesn’t upset him that the Flyers aren’t considered among the Stanley Cup favorites.
That being said, “it makes you feel you want to prove them wrong.”
The Flyers get going tonight with a tough game against the Lightning in Tampa Bay. They also play Saturday in Florida against the Panthers, before a rematch with the Panthers Monday in Philadelphia.
“My biggest concern would be getting off to a good start,” GM Ron Hextall said. “That’s one thing that we need to do.”
That’s something they didn’t do last year. In fact, they won just once in their first six games. By the end of November, they were 8-12-3 and in a big hole — one that proved too deep to climb out of.
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