The NHL's Team of the Week for January 19

Carol Schram@pool88Featured ColumnistJanuary 19, 2015

The NHL's Team of the Week for January 19

0 of 7

    Dave Reginek/Getty Images

    We're headed into a short week in the NHL. The league will shut down for five days following Wednesday's games for its first All-Star break in three seasons.

    Last year, the All-Star Game was scrubbed due to the league's involvement in the 2014 Winter Olympics. In 2012-13, it fell victim to the owners' lockout.

    The push for the playoffs will begin in earnest when the players get back to work next week, but that's not to say that we didn't see some outstanding performances around the league over the last seven days.

    Here's your NHL Team of the Week based on games played from Jan. 12-18. Which players impressed you the most last week?

Left Wing: Tomas Tatar

1 of 7

    USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week's Stats

    4 GP, 5-2-7, one game-winning goal

    Why He Impressed

    Shock waves went through Red Wings Nation on Jan. 10 when starting goaltender Jimmy Howard left the ice on a stretcher after suffering a groin injury—just an hour after he'd been named to the NHL's All-Star roster.

    After dropping its game against the Washington Capitals on the night Howard was injured, Detroit bounced back to win four in a row last week. The team has received strong contributions across the board, but the sniper Tomas Tatar stands out.

    With five goals this week, Tatar now sits at 21—above his full-season total of 19 from 2013-14 and tied with Patrick Kane and Max Pacioretty for seventh in NHL goal scoring. Tatar also scored his fifth game-winning goal of the year in Saturday's 5-2 win against one of the top teams in the league, the Nashville Predators.

    The versatile 24-year-old is taking a big step forward in his second full season in the NHL.

    Honorable Mentions

    • Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals (4 GP, 4-1-5)
    • Max Pacioretty, Montreal Canadiens (3 GP, 3-2-5)

Center: Sidney Crosby

2 of 7

    USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week's Stats

    3 GP, 3-4-7

    Why He Impressed 

    Though the Pittsburgh Penguins dropped two of their three games last week, an air of optimism is blowing through Western Pennsylvania. The Pens' first line is clicking again, as is the power play, and Sidney Crosby is one of the NHL's most prolific scorers of the week.

    Showing good chemistry with new linemate David Perron, Crosby started his week with a three-assist effort in Pittsburgh's 7-2 win over the Minnesota Wild. He followed up with two goals and an assist in a losing effort against the New York Islanders, and then scored a goal against the New York Rangers.

    After earning just five points in the entire month of December, Crosby's offensive outburst last week makes him Pittsburgh's leading scorer and pushes him back to third place in the Art Ross Trophy race, just two points behind leader Jakub Voracek.

    If Crosby's scoring, the wins shouldn't be too far behind.

    Honorable Mentions

    • Tomas Plekanec, Montreal Canadiens (3 GP, 2-4-6)
    • Mathieu Perreault, Winnipeg Jets (3 GP, 4-1-5)

Right Wing: Kyle Okposo

3 of 7

    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Last Week's Stats

    3 GP, 5-1-6, one game-winning goal

    Why He Impressed

    Kyle Okposo's big night last week was his four-goal game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night. After scoring once in the first period, the bruising right winger added three consecutive goals in a span of just over 10 minutes in the third, helping to turn a 3-2 Penguins advantage into a 6-3 Islanders win.

    He added another goal and an assist the following night as the Islanders fell 6-4 to the Montreal Canadiens.

    Okposo and his center John Tavares continue to show outstanding chemistry together as the upstart New York Islanders remain among the league leaders heading into the second half of the NHL season.

    Honorable Mentions

    • David Perron, Pittsburgh Penguins (3 GP, 4-2-6)
    • Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks (3 GP, 4-1-5)

Defense: Dustin Byfuglien

4 of 7

    USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week's Stats

    4 GP, 3-3-6, 12 shots, plus-2, one game-winning goal

    Why He Impressed

    For the second consecutive week, Dustin Byfuglien of the Winnipeg Jets has been one of the NHL's most impressive defensemen.

    During the Jets' perfect 4-0 week, Winnipeg's forwards shared the offensive load while Byfulgien took care of the heavy lifting.

    With a little less ice time than he's been logging in recent weeks, Big Buff led all Jets with six points in four games. One of his three goals was the game-winner in Winnipeg's 8-2 blowout win over the Florida Panthers last Tuesday.

    If Winnipeg keeps winning, they'll soon be moving out of the wild-card ranks and challenging the Chicago Blackhawks and the St. Louis Blues for one of the top seeds in the Central Division.

    Honorable mentions for defense appear on the next slide.

Defense: John Klingberg

5 of 7

    Glenn James/Getty Images

    Last Week's Stats

    4 GP, 2-3-5, 6 shots, plus-1, one game-winning goal

    Why He Impressed

    During a week when the Dallas Stars went 3-1 and posted back-to-back weekend wins over the Washington Capitals and the Chicago Blackhawks, rookie defenseman John Klingberg was a standout for Lindy Ruff's squad.

    The lanky 22-year-old didn't make his NHL debut until November, when he was called up from the Texas Stars to fill an injury hole on the Dallas blue line. Since then, he's worked his way up to the top defensive pairing with Alex Goligoski, averaging 21:06 of ice time per game.

    Klingberg has a big shot and regularly sees power-play time, but thus far, 16 of his 18 points in 31 games have come at even strength. He scored his first-ever NHL game-winner last Tuesday against the Ottawa Senators.

    The future looks bright for the Stars' rookie Swedish defenseman, who will play a key role in trying to get Dallas back into the playoff hunt.

    Honorable Mentions

    • Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins (3 GP, 1-5-6, 4 shots, minus-2)
    • Kyle Quincey, Detroit Red Wings (4 GP, 1-4-5, 8 shots, plus-1)

Goal: Ryan Miller

6 of 7

    USA TODAY Sports

    Last Week's Stats

    2-0-0, 0 goals against, 2 shutouts, 1.000 save percentage

    Why He Impressed

    After missing a week of action due to illness, Vancouver Canucks starter Ryan Miller returned to action in back-to-back games against the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday and the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday—and was perfect in both.

    His flawless goaltending performances ended a three-game losing streak for Vancouver and established a new team record as he became the first-ever Canucks goalie to record back-to-back shutouts on the road.

    After a shaky start to his season, Miller's performances have been improving as he settles into his role. Miller's numbers with Vancouver are now better than his career averages, and his 2.32 goals-against average and .918 save percentage have moved him up within the ranks of the top 15 goalies leaguewide.

    Honorable Mentions

    • Frederik Andersen, Anaheim Ducks (2-0-0, 2 goals against, 1 shutout, .964 save percentage)
    • Devan Dubnyk, Minnesota Wild/Arizona Coyotes (2-1-0, 4 goals against, 1 shutout, .938 save percentage)

Coach: Mike Babcock

7 of 7

    Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images

    Last Week's Stats 

    4-0-0, 17 goals for, 9 goals against

    Why He Impressed

    When the injury situation gets dire for the Detroit Red Wings, head coach Mike Babcock has shown a knack for finding players in the minor leagues who can fill those holes.

    Last week, with both starting goaltender Jimmy Howard and backup Jonas Gustavsson sidelined with injuries, Babcock worked his magic with a netminding tandem of Petr Mrazek and Tom McCollum.

    Mrazek did the job in wins over Buffalo, St. Louis and Nashville, allowing just five goals in the three games.

    When he came out flat in his team's return engagement with the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday, that's when Babcock made his impact. After Mrazek gave up three goals on seven shots in the first 13:37 of the opening frame, Babcock replaced him with McCollum, who allowed just one more goal the rest of the way.

    More importantly, the team in front of the reliever clamped down defensively. Detroit allowed just eight shots in the game's remaining 46 minutes while scoring five unanswered goals to claim the win.

    Babcock's sure hand Sunday is just one more example of why he's widely regarded as the best all-round coach in today's National Hockey League.

    Honorable Mentions

    • Paul Maurice, Winnipeg Jets (4-0-0)
    • Bruce Boudreau, Anaheim Ducks (3-0-0)

    All stats courtesy of NHL.com. 

🚨 SPORTS NEWS ➡️ YOUR INBOX

The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.


X