3 Stars for Wednesday in the NHL
1. Mike Hoffman, St. Louis Blues
To some surprise, the Blues did not trade Mike Hoffman during the 2021 NHL Trade Deadline. At least Hoffman’s rewarded (?) the Blues by going on a hot scoring streak lately.
In his previous game, Hoffman produced two goals. He was even better on Wednesday, generating two goals and one assist. Hoffman factored into all three of the Blues’ points as they tried to erase the Avalanche’s advantage, but it wasn’t enough.
With that, Hoffman has five goals and one assist for six points in five April games.
On one hand, it’s not that surprising to see Hoffman rekindle his scoring touch; the talent’s always been there. But it’s hard to overstate just how rough things have been for him lately. Hoffman ended March with a five-game pointless streak, and also suffered through a stretch where he generated two points (1G, 1A) in 10 games. The Blues made Hoffman a healthy scratch, and not merely to protect him for a trade deadline move.
This isn’t the first productive month for Hoffman with the Blues, mind you. With 11 points in 12 February games, he at least got on the scoreboard. That said, he’s a player who can sometimes nullify his offense (or be a net-negative) thanks to porous defense. The Blues had to know that, though, and maybe they’ll find the right mix after some very bumpy weeks.
2. Tomas Nosek, Vegas Golden Knights
Truly, you could give the second star of Wednesday in the NHL to Max Pacioretty. Just like Tomas Nosek, Pacioretty scored a goal and two assists as the Golden Knights flushed the Kings.
But, really, we’re hearing all about Pacioretty thanks to that goal against Jonathan Quick. You can scroll down to see it for yourself.
Maybe consider that goal a bit of a “gift,” thus giving Nosek something of a tiebreaker? Both players didn’t really help matters by offering up matching +3 ratings, either. Nosek collected his first two points via the Golden Knights’ first two goals, so he made his biggest impact when the game was closer.
Nosek, 28, tied his career-high with 17 points this season, and he did it in 34 games (versus 68, when he scored 17 points in 2018-19). Solid stuff from someone who went undrafted.
3. Anthony Stolarz, Anaheim Ducks
If the Sharks fall short vs. the Blues and Coyotes in the race to claim the West Division’s fourth playoff spot, it won’t just be because Anthony Stolarz played the spoiler. But Stolarz, and the Ducks, have really been a thorn in the Sharks’ sides lately.
Stolarz didn’t pull off back-to-back NHL shutouts for the Ducks on Wednesday after generating a 46-save goose egg on Trade Deadline Monday. Still, the Sharks could only beat Stolarz once in this game, as the towering goalie helped the Ducks win their third game in a row against their in-state rivals.
This still only marks Stolarz’s 31st NHL appearance. That’s a small sample size, and his work this season is even a smaller one. Still, Stolarz has been putting up good numbers — when given the opportunity and/or healthy — in the AHL lately, too.
Considering how close to retirement Ryan Miller must be, maybe the Ducks found a capable backup in Stolarz? (Then again, the rebuilding Ducks might even ponder the idea of trading John Gibson, in case Gibson’s value plummets as this process goes along.)
At minimum, Stolarz played a big role in the Ducks spoiling some opportunities the Sharks likely identified as should-wins.
Highlight of the night for Wednesday in the NHL
Without a glaringly obvious highlight of Wednesday night in the NHL, let’s enjoy clips from the Avalanche holding off the Blues:
Also, watch as the Golden Knights took care of business against the Kings:
Lowlight of the night: Pacioretty goal beats Quick from the blueline
You can see Pacioretty score that embarrassing goal against Quick in those Kings – Golden Knights highlights, but if you just want to watch that lowlight, check it out below:
Stat of the Night: Fleury to fourth
By posting his 485th career win on Wednesday, Marc-Andre Fleury broke his tie with Ed Belfour, and now sits fourth all-time in NHL history. It’s possible Fleury might move up the ladder this season, as Roberto Luongo sits at third place with 489 wins.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) April 15, 2021
Wednesday’s NHL scores