Andrew Mulville The Hockey Writers
NHL Players of the Week: McDavid, Zibanejad & More
Week 10 of the 2020-21 NHL season featured an abundance of high-scoring matchups. A total of five or more goals were scored in 37 of the 54 games played. Moreover, a single team scored five or more goals in a game 13 times. The Colorado Avalanche led the league in scoring, tallying 19 goals for and averaging 6.33 goals per game. On the other end of the spectrum, the Philadelphia Flyers gave up 22 goals against, more than any other team. Let’s take a look at this week’s top performers!
Hats off to Mika Zibanejad this week, who tied for first with eight points. On Saturday, he scored an assist and the game-winning goal against the Washington Capitals. He scored all of his other points in a 9-0 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday, with three goals and three assists.
Oh, and he scored all six points in the second frame, just the second player ever to do so in a single period. On top of that, he scored a natural hat trick, including a goal at even strength, on the power play, and shorthanded in just 10:10.
Zibanejad has had a subpar season by his standards. New York Rangers’ fans were surely excited to see him break out this week. He now has seven goals and 12 assists this season, with 10 points in his last five games. He will look to keep the momentum going against the Buffalo Sabres on Monday.
The way Connor McDavid has played this season, he has almost become a permanent part of this column. Yes, he was at it again this week, tallying eight points in four games. He scored a goal and three assists in two games against the Calgary Flames. He also lit the lamp three times and recorded a helper against the Winnipeg Jets.
McDavid’s quest for 100 points this season is still well within reach. With 60 points in 34 games, he is currently on pace to score approximately 99 points. He leads the league in points, assists and is tied for the lead in goals. He will look to extend his scoring streak to 10 games as the Edmonton Oilers travel to Montreal on Monday.
Earlier this month, Nathan Mackinnon missed three games due to an upper-body injury but bounced back really well, scoring nine points in six games since he returned. This week he played a major role in the Colorado Avalanche’s explosive offense.
On Tuesday, he recorded a goal and five shots on goal against the Anaheim Ducks. He followed that up with back-to-back three-point games against the Minnesota Wild. Overall he tallied one goal and five assists against the Wild, in addition to five shots on goal and a plus-6 rating.
Centered by MacKinnon, the Avalanche’s top line couldn’t be stopped this week. Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog also recorded seven points. In 25 games, MacKinnon has nine goals, 22 assists, and 104 shots on goal. His plus-16 rating is good for third in the league among forwards. The Avalanche travel to Arizona Monday and are currently in second place in the Honda West Division.
Honorable Mention: Artemi Panarin has impressed in his return to action. This week he notched three goals and three assists in four games.
Victor Hedman is making his case to be in the running for his second Norris Trophy. He scored six points this week, the sum of a goal and five assists. He also had a plus-8 rating and six shots on goal. His most productive game came against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday. He tallied three assists in the second period to help the Lightning to a 4-1 win.
His assist on Monday against the Dallas Stars marked his 500th career point. He recorded the assist while he was quarterbacking the power play, setting up Steven Stamkos for the one-timer.
Hedman leads the league’s defensemen with 32 points this season. He leads the Lightning in points, plus/minus rating at plus-15, and power-play points with 18. Hedman and the Lightning will travel to Dallas on Tuesday to play in what will be their fourth meeting with the Stars this season.
Tyson Barrie is just two points behind Hedman this season, and they are tied in assists. This week Barrie tallied six assists in four games. He scored four assists on Wednesday against the Calgary Flames and two assists the following night against the Jets. He also had a plus-5 rating and 10 shots on goal.
So far this season, Barrie has become everything that the Oilers could have hoped for. Not only is he third in scoring on the Oilers, with 30 points, but he has also proven to be a capable defenseman on the power play in the absence of Oscar Klefbom. Although his one-year deal with the Oilers expires this offseason, he is giving them plenty of reasons to extend his contract.
Honorable Mention: Darnell Nurse, Barrie’s linemate, has been no slouch either. Nurse tallied two goals and three assists this week and is currently on a three-game point streak.
Thatcher Demko has only lost one of nine starts this month and won all three of his starts this week. He gave up just six goals on 109 shots for a .945 save percentage (SV%) and 1.91 goals-against average (GAA). He gave up two goals in each contest. On Monday he made 44 saves en route to a 3-2 overtime win over the Ottawa Senators.
Demko has a record of 12-10-1 so far this season. He has posted a 2.66 GAA, a .921 save percentage, and one shutout. Furthermore, he has a goals saved above expected of 8.6, trailing only Andrei Vasilevskiy and Marc-Andre Fleury. Is it time to throw Demko’s name into the ring for Vezina Trophy consideration?
Honorable Mention: Philipp Grubauer gave up just one goal on 66 shots, giving him a .985 SV% and 0.38 GAA for the week. He also recorded a league-leading fifth shutout of the season.
Week 11 is on deck! What to watch this week: Matthews and McDavid go head to head in Toronto, the Carolina Hurricanes and the Lightning battle for the Discover Central Division lead, the Avalanche look to overtake the Vegas Golden Knights in the West Division, and the New York Islanders pay Sidney Crosby a visit in a MassMutual East Division showdown.
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