three stars

via Winnipeg Jets Twitter

The Buzzer: Hats off to Ehlers; King of the Hill

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Three Stars

1. Nikolaj Ehlers

Patrik Laine hit a milestone on Thursday, collecting his 100th career goal. Laine added another later on, pushing his league-leading total to 21 for the season, yet he wouldn’t even be in the Jets’ top three against Chicago.

Then again, that thought explains why Winnipeg is so scary: this team is about a lot more than Laine.

Ehlers, for example, stole Laine’s gimmick for a night by collecting a hat trick. Coming off of two straight 60+ point seasons, NHL opponents should tremble at the thought that the 22-year-old might just be coming into his own, from refining his game to becoming more confident.

This top star nod comes with some bonus fun. The coolest part: Ehlers collected a hat trick soon after shaving a design into the side of his head for Hockey Fights Cancer.

The other awesome part: his face after generating that hat trick.

2. Mark Scheifele/Blake Wheeler

Only three players collected three points on Thursday: Ehlers, Scheifele, and Wheeler. In the cases of Ehlers’ linemates, each got their points via three assists.

That trio sent a lot of pucks on net, even when they weren’t beating Corey Crawford. Scheifele fired six shots on goal, Ehlers had five, and Wheeler provided three.

Jets coach Paul Maurice enjoys plenty of decent options as far as the top line goes, including loading up with Laine alongside Wheeler and Scheifele (or Ehlers). Nights like these make you wonder if they should just stick with Ehlers – Scheifele – Wheelers long-term, though.

3. Adin Hill

Craig Anderson collected the other shutout of the night, stopping 27 shots. Hill finished with a 29-save shutout, and did it against a pretty tough (if banged-up) opponent in the Nashville Predators.

Hill suited up for just his fifth NHL start and seventh appearance overall. Interestingly, he’s been quite effective while being used very sparingly in 2018-19. He’s stopped all 35 shots he’s faced with the Arizona Coyotes in 2018-19, seeing a 20-minute appearance and a 15:57 showing in his other two games this season.

Looking at Hill’s stats at lower levels and during his other, rare NHL looks, it’s tough to imagine him keeping this up. Maybe that’s the true tiebreaker against Anderson, then: Hill might not be here again.

(Stranger things have happened, though. Right, Andrew Hammond?)

Highlights of the Night

In most cases, if a highlight gets its own post or is featured in a post, it may merely get linked. (For example: Nikita Kucherov‘s nice goal lives here.) Elias Pettersson‘s great effort and no-look pass is so good, though, that it’s foolish to risk you missing it. So here it is, again:

Matt Duchene is red-hot, and so is this puck movement:

Factoids

This post details that Patrik Laine became the fourth-youngest player in NHL history to reach 100 goals. He’s been especially fantastic during the month of November, too, as this nugget shows:

Matt Duchene’s month might be even better, somehow.

Ken Hitchcock coming up with the revolutionary strategy of “playing Connor McDavid more” helps the Oilers’ cause, but Mikko Koskinen delivering strong goaltending might be Edmonton’s most important development since all of those times they struck draft lottery gold.

Scores

BOS 2 – NYI 1 (SO)
CBJ 4 – MIN 2
OTT 3 – NYR 0
TBL 5 – BUF 4
ARI 3 – NSH 0
WPG 6 – CHI 5
EDM 3 – LAK 2
VGK 4 – VAN 3

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

This week’s three stars: Rick Nash, John-Michael Liles and Brian Rafalski

The NHL named its three stars for the week ending on November 21, with Rick Nash, John-Michael Liles and Brian Rafalski earning all of those spots for the Western Conference. Let’s take a look at the weeks enjoyed by each player.

1. Rick Nash

If you can credit one player for the Blue Jackets’ surprising three game sweep through a California road trip, it would be Nash. He began the week scoring two goals against the Los Angeles Kings, scored another against the Anaheim Ducks before the highlight of that run: a hat trick as he accounted for every goal in the team’s 3-0 win over the San Jose Sharks.

Maybe this shouldn’t come as a surprise from a player with more career goals (239) than assists (199), but the most amusing part is that he has a 3:1 ratio in goals and assists this season (12 goals and 4 assists for 16 points in 17 games). His first star of the week performance is even more stark of a contrast, with six goals (including two game winners) and zero assists.

2. John-Michael Liles

There are quite a few defenseman off to hot offensive starts so far this season. Some aren’t very surprising (Nicklas Lidstrom) while some are slightly unexpected (Kris Letang and Dustin Byfuglien). Liles is one of the biggest and most pleasant surprises so far this season, as he is tied with Lidstrom for the league lead in points among defenseman.

Check out a recent post about why his hot streak should get more attention. The league provided some interesting facts about his great week in a press release.

Liles tallied seven points (two goals, five assists) and a +5 rating last week, helping the Avalanche (12-7-1) post four consecutive victories and take the Northwest Division lead. Liles tallied two goals and one assist in a 6-3 win over the St. Louis Blues Nov. 15, his first multi-goal game since Oct. 18, 2006 at Toronto. He notched two assists in a 4-3 overtime victory over the San Jose Sharks Nov. 17 and closed the week with two more assists in a 4-3 shootout win over the Dallas Stars on Nov. 20.

3. Brian Rafalski

While Nash seems all about scoring goals, Rafalski has been a regular source of helpers so far this season.

He hasn’t added a tally yet in 2010-11, but the gifted offensive blueliner has 10 assists in a knee surgery shortened eight game campaign so far.

Most of those points came in a week that earned Rafalski third star of the week honors. Here are the tidbits from his seven assist run of five games, via that press release from the league.

Rafalski began the week by matching a career high with three assists in a 7-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Nov. 17. He recorded one assist in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Minnesota Wild Nov. 19 and collected three more, including the 400th of his NHL career, in a 5-4 overtime win over the Calgary Flames Nov. 21.

Raffi Torres, Mathieu Garon and Jaroslav Halak earn this week’s three stars

The NHL named its three stars of the week for November 1-7: Raffi Torres, Mathieu Garon and Jaroslav Halak. Let’s take a look at each player’s productivity with comments from the league’s press release and our own feedback.

First Star: Raffi Torres (LW, Vancouver)

Torres led the NHL in goals (five) and was second in points (six) for the week as the Canucks (8-3-2) recorded four victories to take over first place in the Northwest Division.

He scored six of his nine points on the season last week, with a hat trick against his former team (the Edmonton Oilers) being the highlight. It seems like Torres is developing some nice chemistry with solid two-way forward Manny Malhotra.

Torres might not go much higher than his personal best of 27-goals, but honestly, if he hits 20 the Canucks will be pretty happy with the rugged forward.

Mathieu Garon

Garon stopped 75 of 78 shots he faced, posting back-to-back shutouts, a 2-1-0 record, a 1.01 goals-against average and .962 save percentage as Columbus improved to 8-5-0 overall.

Garon earned half of the Blue Jackets’ wins this season (starter Steve Mason is 4-4) and seems to be in a similar situation as Brent Johnson in Pittsburgh right now. He’s outplaying his higher profile starter as a backup, but if this keeps up, the starts will be handed out far more evenly.

Jaroslav Halak

The former Montreal Canadiens playoff hero is backing up his name-making performances by helping the St. Louis Blues take an early lead over the Detroit Red Wings in the Central Division. In fact, this isn’t his first three stars award of the 2010-11 season.

Halak stopped 58 of 59 shots he faced, posting a 2-0-0 record, a 0.48 goals-against average and .983 save percentage as St. Louis improved to 9-1-2, first overall in the NHL standings.

His overall record is 8-1-1, earning three shutouts while putting up a 1.46 GAA and an outstanding 94.4 save percentage this season. It should be a tough November for St. Louis, so he might not put up the numbers to earn another award this month, but if they win more often than not then he’ll be just as valuable.