Best & Worst of the Week: Dec. 30 – Jan. 4

The Best

Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals

  • Three games: Dec. 30 vs New Jersey (W), Jan. 2 at Carolina (W)
  • 2 G, 3 A, plus-4, 1 game-winning goal, 8 shots, 25.0 percent shooting

Washington’s captain continued his rebound campaign last week by posting two goals and three assists in two games. Of his five points, just one point came on the power play as Ovechkin remains in the midst of one of his best seasons at even strength. Over the past week, he contributed on half of Washington’s goals and the team had a 60.3-percent Fenwick at 5-on-5 with him on the ice.

Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche

  • Three games: Dec. 31 vs New York Islanders (W), Jan. 2 vs Winnipeg (W), Jan. 4 vs Columbus (W)
  • 1 G, 5A, plus-3, 2 power-play points, 12 shots, 8.3 percent shooting

MacKinnon, Colorado’s leading scorer, is putting together an MVP-caliber season and is producing at the highest rate of his career. In the Avalanche’s three games over the past week, he was on the scoresheet for 55 percent of the team’s goals, including getting the primary assist on four. At 5-on-5, he was dominant, generating 11 individual scoring chances, and the team controlled 60.7 percent of Fenwick chances when he was on the ice.

Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon
Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning

  • Three starts: Dec. 31 at Columbus (W), Jan. 2 at Toronto (W), Jan. 4 at Montreal (OTL)
  • 1 goal allowed (GA), 87/88 saves, .989 save percentage, 0.32 goals-against average (GAA), 2 shutouts

Tampa’s netminder currently leads the league in wins (26) and shutouts (six) and is the favorite to win the Vezina Trophy. In three games last week, all on the road, he had two shutouts and allowed just a single goal. At even strength, he stopped 74 of 75 shots for a .987 save percentage and all nine shots on the penalty kill.

The Worst

Roman Polak, Toronto Maple Leafs

  • Three games: Dec. 31 at Vegas (L), Jan. 2 vs Tampa Bay (L), Jan. 4 vs San Jose (W)
  • 0 G, 0 A, minus-5, 6 Penalty Minutes (PIM), 0 shots, minus-1 turnover margin

Never a defenseman with offensive upside, Polak has been bad this season with just two goals and three assists in 23 games. Last week, he was especially bad, going pointless in three games with a minus-5 rating. Even worse is that he registered no shot attempts in those games and the team had a 32.6-percent Fenwick at 5-on-5 with Polak on the ice.

Roman Polak Maple Leafs
Roman Polak, Toronto Maple Leafs, Dec. 12, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Zack Kassian, Edmonton Oilers

  • Three games: Dec. 31 vs Winnipeg (L), Jan. 2 vs Los Angeles (L), Jan. 4 vs Anaheim (W)
  • 0 G, 0 A, minus-4, 4 PIM, 3 shots, minus-4 turnover margin

Kassian was bad this past week, going scoreless in three games while averaging just 10:22 of ice time. He also generated just three scoring chances at 5-on-5 and the team had a 41.4-percent Fenwick with him on the ice. This has been especially problematic for a team that has scored more than three goals just twice in their last 10 games.

Robin Lehner, Buffalo Sabres

  • Two starts: Jan. 1 vs New York Rangers (OTL), Jan. 4 at Minnesota (L)
  • 9 GA, 50/59 saves, .847 save percentage, 5.26 GAA

Although solid in the Winter Classic against the Rangers, Lehner had a terrible game against the Wild and lasted just two periods after allowing six goals. In total, he allowed nine goals in two starts and had an .848 save percentage at even strength. He also gave up two goals on 12 shots while shorthanded.

Robin Lehner Sabres
Robin Lehner, Buffalo Sabres, Dec. 14, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

*All stats came from NHL, Natural Stat Trick, and Hockey-Reference.