Every Sunday, we celebrate the best of the best in the NHL in the past week, in our choices for the Three Stars of the past seven days.
It's not necessarily all about who had the most points; sometimes, a goalie or defenseman shines through because of their play when they don't have the puck; another factor can be their team's overall play in the past week.
This week, we're singling out two players from the Metro Division, and one from the Central. Let's get to it. In reverse order:
3. Connor Hellebuyck, G, Winnipeg: The Jets No. 1 goalie gave some much-needed relief to a Winnipeg team that had been sliding before the All-Star Game break, guiding them to a 2-0-1 record this week, and posting sterling individual numbers, including one shutout (of the powerful Minnesota Wild), a 1.98 goals-against average, and a .939 save percentage. The Jets`prolonged slump makes the post-season less of a possibility for them each day, but seeing their star goalie locked in has to give Winnipeg fans some hope.
2. Patrick Laine, RW, Columbus: The Blue Jackets sniper is on a six-game point streak that includes seven goals and 11 points. This week, he netted three goals – including the game-winner with 7.2 seconds left in regulation time against Montreal Saturday. Columbus won all three of its games this week, and Laine now has 13 goals and 26 points in 27 games this year. Similarly to the Jets, the Jackets are unlikely to make the post-season this year, but this is the Laine Columbus envisioned when they traded center Pierre-Luc Dubois for him last year.
1. Nico Hischier, C, New Jersey: Hischier led all NHL scorers this week with four goals, including three even-strength markers, and five points in three games. The Devils won two of those three games, and in total their offense generated 14 goals in its past two games. And Hischier did the offensive damage while averaging only 17:09 of ice time, and playing in all situations. The Devils also aren`t going to qualify for the playoffs, but Hischier is a cornerstone player for his franchise, and New Jersey management must be pleased with his performance of late.