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Three Stars of the Week: Week 23

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It’s nice to be happy for a change.

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Ottawa Senators Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t know when they last time this happened was, but the Ottawa Senators came out above .500 this week. Following a 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday, the Sens came back on Thursday night and shut out the St. Louis Blues 2-0. It was Saturday, however, when the Senators won their Stanley Cup, smacking down the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-2.

It was fun being a Sens fan for a change, so here are the Three Stars of Week 23.

Three Stars

  1. Anders Nilsson - Ottawa’s massive Swedish goaltender appears to be on the rebound after struggling through mid-late February. Nilsson blanked the Blues, and stifled the Leafs, stopping 70 of 72 shots through two games, with an average Sv% of .973. If he keeps putting up numbers like this, Anders Nilsson might be playing his way into a contract come this offseason.
  2. Christian Wolanin - While he didn’t put up quite as many points as his third-star counterpart, one of Ottawa’s young defencemen is looking like dynamite after this week. Wolanin struggled to earn playing time until now, being shelved as the 7th man or confined to Belleville, but there’s no doubt now that’s he an established NHLer. Wolanin potted a goal and an assist this week, and showed some fire with a great celebration against the Blues. Look for more solid play in bigger minutes down the stretch, with Thomas Chabot out of the lineup.
  3. Chris Tierney - Looking more and more like the second-line centre he’s been touted as by some, Tierney provided some much needed offence this week for the Senators. He scored a goal against the Flyers, an empty-netter versus St. Louis, and added an assist against the Leafs for good measure. Tierney has all the makings of a Top-6 forward in the NHL. He’s fast, has good hands, and has good offensive instincts. Inconsistency has been his enemy in the past, so hopefully we see less of that going forward.

Trending up

  • Magnus Paajarvi is establishing himself as a Leaf-killer. He scored another two goals against Toronto on Saturday night.
  • Max Veronneau looked solid in his first two NHL games. There’s no denying he has pro-calibre speed, and his play in the offensive zone was stellar. The youngster notched his first NHL assist with a beautiful set-up on Cody Ceci’s opening goal against the Leafs.

Trending Down

  • I’m honestly having a hard time picking anyone to put on this list. It was a pretty solid week all-around for the Sens. I’ll say Bobby Ryan, as he was pretty much invisible the past three games. Again though, this was a pretty good week in SensLand.

Who to Watch

There are plenty more guys who deserved recognition this week. Anthony Duclair, Brady Tkachuk, Rudolfs Balcers, and Brian Gibbons are among the guys who are playing great hockey right now. If things keep going the same way, it’s going to be a fun last couple weeks of the season.