NHL Players of the Week: Kopitar, Varlamov & More

The 2020-21 season has featured everything a hockey fan could hope for. We have seen elite goal-scoring, dominant goaltending displays, and even a blockbuster trade. Unfortunately, we have seen several games postponed due to COVID-19, too. If the rest of the season is anything like its start, we are in for a wild ride. So, buckle up! Let’s take a look at the leagues’ top performers from week two. 

Forwards: Kopitar, Toffoli, & Three Jets

Anze Kopitar is off to a monstrous start in his 15th NHL season. The 33-year-old Los Angeles Kings’ captain lead by example this week, finishing with eight points in four games. Kopitar notched four assists in the Kings’ series against the Colorado Avalanche. Most notably, he set up the game-winning goal on Thursday that erased a 2-0 deficit and led the Kings to their first win of the season. 

Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings
Anze Kopitar (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Kopitar also scored four points in two games against the St. Louis Blues. In the Kings’ win against the Blues on Sunday, he recorded his first goal of the season, in addition to two assists. With 10 points on the season, Kopitar is tied for the league lead in points. The two-time Frank J. Selke Trophy winner, awarded to the league’s top defensive forward, will look to keep his four-game scoring streak going against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday. 

The Montreal Canadiens have been an offensive powerhouse to start the season, leading the league with 29 goals. Although he had a quiet first week, Tyler Toffoli arrived in week two. In four games, he had five goals and three assists. If we learned anything about Toffoli, it is that he loves to score in Vancouver. 

The Canadiens played the Canucks three times in four days, and Toffoli took full advantage. In their first matchup, he completed his fourth career hat-trick. The next night, he tallied three points again, scoring two and assisting on one.

Toffoli and his linemates have been very productive, providing depth scoring, which has the Canadiens looking like a very dangerous team. After inking a four-year, $17 million contract this offseason, Toffoli is proving his worth early on in his first season in Montreal.  

Unable to pick just one, the final forward spot this week goes to all three of the Winnepeg Jets’ first line forwards: Kyle Connor, Mark Scheifele, and Blake Wheeler. The trio combined for 21 points over the course of five games. All three forwards are in the league’s top 10 in points scored. The Jets’ offensive production led them to a 3-2 record for the week. 

Mark Scheifele Winnipeg Jets
Mark Scheifele, Winnipeg Jets (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Scheifele led the group in points with two goals and six assists. Next in line was Wheeler, who had three goals and seven points, including a three-assist game against the Ottowa Senators on Saturday. Both Scheifele and Wheeler are on a four-game scoring streak. Finally, Connor scored three goals and three assists during the week. Connor was on a five-game point streak but saw it end in Sunday’s loss to the Edmonton Oilers. The Jets’ productive week was largely overshadowed by the blockbuster Dubois-Laine trade

Defensemen: Theodore & Fox

Playing on the second defensive pairing with Alec Martinez, in addition to time on the second powerplay unit, Shea Theodore has had a productive start to the 2020-21 campaign. The Vegas Golden Knights saw action against Arizona Coyotes in four straight games last week and came away with three victories. Theodore had an assist in their first meeting and lit the lamp twice in their second. 

In their only loss to the Coyotes, Theodore had another two-point game, finishing the game with a goal and an assist. Theodore is first in goals and tied for second in points among defensemen, with three and six, respectively.

Furthermore, he has a plus-seven rating, 22 shots on goal, and seven blocks. Theodore will look to keep the momentum going against the Blues on Tuesday. 

Elsewhere, the New York Rangers have struggled out of the gate this season with a record of 1-3-1. In spite of this, second-year defenseman Adam Fox has found a way to be productive, especially this week. This is in large part due to his strong performance on the power play as he has a goal and three assists with the man advantage. In fact, his only even-strength point came in the form of an assist during Sunday’s loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. 

Adam Fox New York Rangers
Adam Fox, New York Rangers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Fox finished his rookie campaign with 42 points in 70 games, and he is on pace to at least match that number during this shortened season. Trying to extend his scoring streak to five games, he will look to get on the scoresheet again versus the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday. 

Goaltender: Varlamov

Semyon Varlamov’s second season with the New York Islanders couldn’t be off to a better start. The 32-year-old netminder has three wins in three games, including two shutouts.

The second week of Varlamov’s season began with a shutout against the Boston Bruins, making him just the 14th goaltender in NHL history to begin a season with back-to-back shutouts. Varlamov made 27 saves in the contest.

In his second and final game of the week, Varlamov stood on his head again. He led the Islanders to victory over the New Jersey Devils, making 30 saves on 31 shots. After a strong week two, Varlamov has an astounding 0.33 goals-against average (GAA), and a .988 save percentage (SV%). This, as you might expect, leads the league among goaltenders. The Islanders square off against the Washington Capitals on Tuesday, who will be without several key players, including Alexander Ovechkin.

As of now, week three will feature 51 games. However, the Carolina Hurricanes, who are dealing with several positive COVID-19 cases, have already had one game postponed this week. Thus, it remains to be seen if their matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning will happen on Thursday. The Capitals also had a positive case last week but are set to play against the Islanders Tuesday, albeit without the services of Ovechkin, goaltender Ilya Samsonov, and three others for the next few games.


Sign up for our 'DAILY BEST Newsletter' for the latest & greatest hockey news & analysis.