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Three Stars: Week 19

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The Big Three lead the way

NHL: Ottawa Senators at Winnipeg Jets Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Senators salvaged a couple points from an otherwise disappointing week on Saturday night with an impressive 4-3 overtime win over the Winnipeg Jets. I know it’s getting tiresome to keep citing the same three or four players over and over again as the Three Stars, but consider that the Sens scored seven goals this week and one of Mark Stone, Matt Duchene or Ryan Dzingel scored or assisted all but one of them. The Big Three are this team’s entire offense right now. I can’t tell if that’s more impressive or depressing.

Three Stars:

Mark Stone: Stone registered two goals and an assist this week, all while playing over 22 (!!) minutes per game. Only Thomas Chabot was on the ice more and no one made nearly the impact he did at both ends of the ice. He’s this team’s lifeblood, plain and simple.

Matt Duchene: Duchene also registered two goals and an assist this week, including a highlight reel dash against the Red Wings on Thursday. It seems increasingly likely that Duchene will no longer be a member of the Senators’ organization by this time next week so let’s just appreciate him while we can.

Ryan Dzingel: Dzingel was held pointless in the first two games of this week but was an absolutely dynamo against the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday and notched a beautiful game-winner. In a week filled with some otherwise unimpressive performances, he edged out Tierney and Anders Nilsson for third star.

Trending Up:

Rudolfs Balcers scored the second goal of his career on Saturday night and also picked up an assist on Saturday vs. the Wings. He’s been getting some opportunities alongside Duchene as well as some regular burn on the second power play unit and he’s made the most of his chances. It’s good to be Rudolfs.

Chris Tierney had three assists in the three games this week, including a gorgeous play to set up Dzingel’s overtime winner on Saturday night. It was a solid week all in all for the Keswick, Ontario native.

Trending Down:

Colin White’s scoring struggles stretch back further than this week; he’s notched just three points in the eight games he’s played since returning from his injury. This is not to say he’s having a bad year, in fact his performance this season has been one of the real bright spots, but he’s hit a bit of a wall production-wise and it’d be nice to see a few more pucks go in the net.

Meanwhile, Max Lajoie played 15:22 on Saturday, a team-low among defensemen, and has fallen all the way down to -21 for the year (if you care about that sort of thing). His on-ice shot metrics are second worst only to Ben Harpur, and it’s clear that he’s losing Boucher’s confidence. Lajoie was a feel-good story at the start of the year, but he might be well-served to spend some time in Belleville at this stage.

Who to Watch for:

Craig Anderson should make his return to the line-up sometime this week, perhaps as early as Monday’s game against Chicago. Anders Nilsson has filled in admirably, sporting a sparkling .927 SV%, so Boucher shouldn’t feel any need to rush the veteran back before he’s 100% ready.