3 Stars of the Night: April 24

It’s the most, wonderful time, of the yearrrrrrrr! Who doesn’t love playoff hockey right? This is what we wait all season for, this is why most of us became fans of the game, as the postseason captivates us year after year after year. My personal favorite part is the dying minutes of a one-goal game when everything is a scramble, bodies are diving everywhere, pucks are zipping around the zone and the intensity is as high as can be. Until we get to overtime that is, when it become full-on, tighten your butt cheeks, gasp and cringe with every shot end-to-end action (WITH NO COMMERCIALS!!).

Who will hoist the 2016 Stanley Cup?


With the team I cover out of the playoffs (again), I relish the opportunity to write a little out of character and enjoy the playoffs as a fan of the game, and pick my three stars of each night like our friends over at Yahoo!/Puck Daddy blog do throughout the season. You can find player standings at the bottom of each  post with three points for being the no. 1 star, two for no. 2 and one for no. 3 and on some nights we’ll have an honorable mention.

April 24, 2016

#3) Jason Spezza, Dallas: goal, 3 assists

Not only did Spezza have a hand in four of the five goals the Stars scored on Sunday (they needed them all), but he also won 75% of the face-offs he took which balanced out the advantage that Mikko Koivu was giving the Wild in the dots. The 32-year-old center had a pretty decent series with nine points (4g-5a) over the six-game series. With Tyler Seguin out of the lineup someone else had to step up on the scoresheet and Spezza filled in splendidly.

#2) Braden Holtby, Washington: 26 saves/26 shots, Win, Shutout

The best goaltender in the NHL this season delivered when his team need him the most as their offense has temporarily dried up. Holtby made 26 saves in all but 21 of them came over the final two periods, each time preventing the ready-to-explode Philadelphia crowd from, well, exploding. This was his second shutout in the series, and he only gave up five goals over the six-game series (0.84 GAA). The likely Vezina Trophy winner had two career playoff shutouts in 34 postseason games entering this series, so he matched that total with the elimination of the feisty Flyers in Game 6.

#1) John Tavares, NY Islanders: 2 goals/GWG in overtime

JT came through like Captain Clutch for his Islanders, tying the game 1-1 with under a minute left in regulation and their goalie pulled, and then he sent Brooklyn into bedlam as he scored midway through the second overtime — helping the franchise win a playoff round for the first time since 1993. Throughout the four and a half periods on Sunday night Tavares fired six shots own goal, won 58% of the face-offs he took and his 34:49 of ice time was third most on his team. In this neck of the woods we’ve known JT is a premier talent as we get to watch him 82 times a year; now, the rest of eth NHL is starting to get a glimpse of that.

3-Stars Standings:

Joe Pavelski (SJ): 5

Brian Elliott (StL): 5

Michal Neuvirth (Phil): 5

John Tavares (NYI): 5

Braden Holtby (Wash): 5

Nikita Kucherov (TB): 4

Tyler Johnson (TB): 3

Thomas Hickey (NYI): 3

Alex Ovechkin (Wash): 3

Antti Niemi (Dal): 3

Evgeni Malkin (Pitt): 3

Artemi Panarin (Chi): 3

Patric Hornqvist (Pitt): 2

Roberto Luongo (Fla): 2

Tanner Pearson (LA): 2

Frederik Andersen (Ana): 2

Ben Bishop (TB): 2

Mikko Koivu (Minn): 2

Sami Vatanen (Ana): 2