The accolades keep pouring in for the Tampa Bay Lightning. On Monday, Nikita Kucherov was named the second star of the week by the NHL. His 2-goal, 5-assist week was good enough to edge out Washington’s Braden Holtby, but not good enough to catch Jason Zucker of the Minnesota Wild who decided to score all of the Wild’s goals last week. Minnesota had six goals in their last three games and Zucker had all of them.
For Kucherov, it’s the second time he’s been named second star of the week this season. He finished second to Steven Stamkos for the week of October 23rd. He continues to run roughshod over NHL goaltenders as he in the midst of a 5-game point streak. He did see his multi-point game streak end Sunday night in Anaheim as he only recorded a single assist. So maybe he’s starting to slow down.
The two goals he scored this week emphasize why he’s such a tremendous threat to goaltenders across the league.
Against San Jose it was accuracy and quick hands:
If he’s in front of the net with time enough to pick his spot, he’s not going to miss. There wasn’t much room for him to put that puck over Aaron Dell and underneath the bar, but he finds the spot. A little thing that is lost in the goal, is the adjustment he makes as Vlad Namestnikov’s pass is deflected slightly by the Shark’s player. That is much harder than he made it look.
Against Los Angeles it was his speed and quick hands.
As Brian Engblom points out in the highlight, Kucherov’s anticipation and ability to read the play gives him an extra step on L.A.’s Dustin Brown. From there Brown had no chance to catch him. One of the little things he does, something that Connor McDavid does a lot as well, is push the puck ahead of him. He knows that he can outskate Brown, so why slow himself down by having to stickhandle the puck an extra 10 or 15 feet?
On the season, Kucherov has 30 points (16 goals and 14 assists), 11 multi-point games and only 2 games where he was held off the scoresheet. His 16 goals leads the NHL and the 30 points is second to Stamkos’ 31.
The Lightning’s early season success might explain why Kucherov got the nod over several other players that recorded 6 points including a pair of Winnipeg Jets in Mark Scheifele (3 goals and 3 assists) and Blake Wheeler (6 assists).
Over the last two seasons Kucherov has now accumulated 5 total Stars of the Week nomination, 3 first stars and 2 second stars. That is tops in the NHL.