The NHL released its “Three Stars of the Week” today, and after Alex Ovechkin was #1 a week ago, Nikolaj Ehlers takes home the title this time around. Ehlers scored five goals and two assists in just three games, including sending Jets fans home happy with two game-winners. The 21-year old Dane is looking even better than last year when he broke out with 64 points, and more than deserved of the seven-year, $42MM extension he signed earlier this month.
Auston Matthews and Nicklas Backstrom rounded out the three stars, after impressive performances of their own. Backstrom is currently tied for the NHL lead in points with 11, including six on the powerplay already. With Ovechkin looking determined to get back to the 50-goal club this year, Backstrom will certainly continue to rack up points. Speaking of offense, Matthews’ four-goal week included a few highlight reel tallies as the 20-year old Maple Leafs forward continues to show off his incredible skill set. The Maple Leafs wouldn’t be sitting at 4-1 without his two overtime winners.
- Speaking of the 4-1 Maple Leafs, head coach Mike Babcock tinkered with the lines today in practice. According to Chris Johnston of Sportsnet, Babcock had Mitch Marner practicing on the fourth line with Matt Martin and Dominic Moore. Connor Brown was the recipient of a promotion, moving up into Marner’s spot alongside Tyler Bozak. Though Maple Leafs’ Twitter immediately went into panic mode, but Babcock gave a quick explanation to reporters including Kristen Shilton of TSN: “Let’s not read too much into this. Their line wasn’t going. Tie goes to the veteran.” That veteran would be James van Riemsdyk on the other wing, who continues to struggle in the defensive zone despite his six points in five games.
- The Arizona Coyotes have sent Marek Langhamer to the AHL and recalled Adin Hill. The goalie swap comes after a 22-save shutout by Hill for the Tucson Roadrunners on Saturday night, and could be a move just to get both goalies some work. Langhamer hadn’t suited up for a game yet in the NHL, and the team likely wants him to stay fresh during the season. We saw a similar situation last year in Columbus after the Blue Jackets waived Curtis McElhinney. Anton Forsberg and Joonas Korpisalo flip-flopped constantly between the two leagues thanks to their waiver-exempt statuses, something the Coyotes could do as well. While Antti Raanta continues to nurse a lower-body injury, Louis Domingue looks to get the lion’s share of the work for the Coyotes.