Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks, NHL 3 Stars: Panarin Posts Stellar Week

By Colin Likas
Dec 17, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Artemi Panarin (72) shoots and scores an empty net goal as St. Louis Blues defenseman Colton Parayko (55) dives to defend during the third period at Scottrade Center. The Blackhawks won 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 17, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Artemi Panarin (72) shoots and scores an empty net goal as St. Louis Blues defenseman Colton Parayko (55) dives to defend during the third period at Scottrade Center. The Blackhawks won 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /
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Eastern Conference 3 Stars

Third star: Tampa Bay D Victor Hedman

Would you believe the top three point earners in the Eastern Conference last week were all blueliners? It’s true, and Hedman topped the trio.

While Pittsburgh’s Justin Schultz and Washington’s Matt Niskanen each tallied five points last week, Hedman created six points, with five coming on assists.

Three of Hedman’s helpers came in a good road win against Calgary, while he added an assist in helping Tampa Bay get a point against Edmonton. The Lightning have struggled of late (2-6-2 in their last 10 games), so Hedman’s offensive production — while averaging a Keith-like 26:30 in ice time last week — is certainly a bright spot.

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Second star: New York Rangers G Henrik Lundqvist

Apparently motivated by Antti Raanta receiving four consecutive starts previously, Lundqvist stepped up his game big time for the Rangers at the end of last week. And he did it under some heavy fire.

Returning to the net against Dallas, Lundqvist posted a 27-save shutout in a 2-0 road victory. He also took a nasty high hit from the Stars’ Cody Eakin, but missed just about five minutes of ice time and finished out the win.

Lundqvist followed that up by helping the Rangers to a 2-1 road shootout win against the Nashville Predators, with Lundqvist stopping 31 shots and two shootout bids. His stats for the previous week: two wins, .983 save percentage, 0.50 goals-against average. Solid.

First star: Columbus G Sergei Bobrovsky

Everything is going well right now for the Blue Jackets, who had reeled off eight straight wins prior to Sunday’s game to climb into third place in the Metropolitan Division (they added a ninth straight win Sunday). The guy in net has played a big role in that.

Bobrovsky notched two wins with a .965/1.00 stat line last week. Both of his starts went swimmingly, as he turned aside 55 of 57 shots in wins against Edmonton and Calgary. Being a key part of your team’s eight-game win streak gets you a top star.

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