3 Stars of Stanley Cup Final Game 1

One of the things that stood out to me about hockey when I was younger was the “Three Stars of the Game” after each game. It was, different, like everything in hockey was to me when learning the game. It was reminiscent of the “Hero & Goat” caricatures by the late, great Bill Gallo that I read in the NY Daily News after playoff games involving professional teams in New York.

These Hero/Goat cartoons left an impact on NYers, just as all of Mr. Gallo's cartoons did. (Bill Gallo/New York Daily News)
These Hero/Goat cartoons left an impact on NYers, just as all of Mr. Gallo’s cartoons did. (Bill Gallo/New York Daily News)

Needless to say it was a bit surreal being able to one day actually vote for the three stars of a game occasionally while covering New Jersey Devils games. The 2016 Stanley Cup Final is now underway between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the San Jose Sharks, and for the duration of the series in this space we will take a look at who we thought were the three stars of each game.

#3) Brent Burns, San Jose: 2 assists

Burns had a rocky start to Game 1, and even missed a few shifts in the opening period. But he rebounded, as did the entire Sharks team in the second period, and was a key part of both of his squad’s goals; despite the missed time he still led San Jose in ice-time with 24:07. Unfortunately for him, and his mates, he was a crucial part of the Penguins’ winning goal when he lost his stick and Kris Letang was able to make a pass through him to the slot. The two points give the shaggy-haired Burns a total of 22 this postseason, which is the most by a defenseman in the playoffs since 1994 (Brian Leetch).

#2) Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh: assist

One of the game’s marquee players was the best player in Game 1 of his third Stanley Cup Final, and although Crosby only had one point he could have had many more if Martin Jones hadn’t played a spectacular game in net for San Jose. He had four of his team’s 41 shots on goal in the game, and won 56% of his draws, so it was just another day at the the office for no. 87. The Sharks players looked a step behind Crosby all night — they haven’t faced a team as fast as Pittsburgh this postseason, and it showed — and if that trend continues he could make this a shorter series than we are all anticipating. Look at the two passes he made in the videos below. Yowsaa.



#1) Nick Bonino, Pittsburgh: GWG

This is becoming old habit for Bonino, scoring goals in big games for Pittsburgh that is. Not only did he score the winning goal with 2:32 left in the third period, but he blocked a game-high six shots and had a game-high six shots on goal. All qualities that also led to him being selected as my first star, despite the fact that he almost killed his own goalie when he pushed an opposing player into Matt Murray in the third period. His other GWG this postseason was a biggie too — the series clinching goal that eliminated the Washington Capitals in six games.

3-Stars Standings:

Joe Pavelski (SJ): 17

Brian Elliott (StL): 11

Nikita Kucherov (TB): 9

Braden Holtby (Wash): 8

Victor Hedman (TB): 8

Troy Brouwer (StL): 8

Tyler Johnson (TB): 8

Sidney Crosby (Pitt): 8

Phil Kessel (Pitt): 7

Matt Murray (Pitt): 7

Andrei Vasilevskiy (TB): 7

Nick Bonino (Pitt): 7

David Backes (StL): 6

Martin Jones (SJ): 6

Michal Neuvirth (Phil): 5

John Tavares (NYI): 5

Pekka Rinne (Nash): 5

Patric Hornqvist (Pitt): 5

Ben Bishop (TB): 5

Carl Hagelin (Pitt): 5

Joel Ward (SJ): 5

Logan Couture (SJ): 5

Alex Ovechkin (Wash): 4

Kris Letang (Pitt): 4

Brent Burns (SJ): 4