Saturday, June 25, 2022

NHL Star Power Index: Steven Stamkos tops 100 points for first time, Roman Josi accomplishes rare feat

Welcome to the final NHL Star Power Index of the season: This is a weekly gauge of the players who are controlling substantial buzz around the league. When a player is included on this list it may not be a good thing — it means that they are capturing a large amount of the hockey world’s attention.

These players are in no particular order when it comes to the amount of buzz that they’re creating.

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos finished off the 2021-22 season by accomplishing a first in his 14 NHL seasons. Stamkos recorded 100 points in a season for the first time in his entire career. In Tuesday’s 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Lightning star reached the milestone with his second goal of the contest.

The 32-year-old center’s previous career high was 98 points when he scored 45 goals and dished out 53 assists during the 2018-19 season. Stamkos now has 101 points (39 goals and 62 assists) with the 2021-22 season in the books.

Prior to the 2021-22 campaign, it was a forgettable couple of seasons for Stamkos. During the 2019-20 season, Stamkos had to have core muscle surgery in March, but did return to score one goal in the 2020 Stanley Cup Finals. In addition, Stamkos was limited to just 38 games last season and registered the second-lowest point total of his career (34).

Stamkos had one of the most impressive bounce-back seasons that we’ve seen in quite some time. The Lightning star’s 101 points are good for seventh in the NHL this season.

It’s been a real feel-good story to see Stamkos return to the elite status that he’s enjoyed throughout his entire NHL career. With the playoffs set to get underway next week, the Lightning certainly could be a dark horse to make a run at their third consecutive Stanley Cup.

For much of the season, it’s been a two-horse race for the Norris Trophy, which honors the NHL’s top defenseman. Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi and Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar have certainly proved to be the cream crop.

With the curtain about to close on the 2021-22 regular season, it’s become apparent that the award is Josi’s to lose. Earlier this week, Josi became the first NHL defenseman to register 90 points in a single season since Ray Bourque accomplished the feat as a member of the Boston Bruins during the 1993-94 campaign.

To put into perspective just how special Josi’s season has been, there have been only 25 other defensemen that have reached the 90-point mark throughout NHL history.

The Predators have been fortunate enough to have several high-profile blue-liners throughout the franchise’s history. Everyone from P.K. Subban to Shea Weber to Kimmo Timonen have produced strong offensive campaigns, but nothing in the stratosphere of what Josi has accomplished this season.

Josi’s 93 points are the most in a single season in Predators history. In fact, the 31 year old has the top three point seasons for a defenseman in franchise history.

The Predators defenseman has really been impressive in the assists department all year. In fact, Josi’s 71 assists are fifth-most in the NHL this season and the only other defenseman even close to Josi is New York Rangers star Adam Fox with 62 assists.

Considering the historic season that he has put together, it would be a huge surprise to see anyone but Josi take home the Norris Trophy this season.

The Dallas Stars had been battling for the last Wild Card spot in the Western Conference in recent weeks. On Wednesday, the Stars finally secured their postseason berth with a loss from the Vegas Golden Knights despite being defeated by the Arizona Coyotes themselves.

The Stars’ postseason hopes were made possible thanks to some spectacular goaltending from Jake Oettinger.

On Tuesday, all of the cards were on the table as the Stars hosted the Golden Knights in a very pivotal matchup. The Golden Knights would’ve kept their playoff hopes very much alive with a regulation win over the Stars. However, the Stars were able to come away with a 3-2 shootout win.

In that particular game, Oettinger turned aside 33 shots, including stopping all seven of Vegas’ attempts in the shootout. One of Oettinger’s most sensational saves of the night came in the final three minutes of the third period when he gloved a scorching one-timer from Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore out of the air.

Oettinger has had a strong campaign in his first season as the Stars primary netminder. In his last five games, the Stars goaltender has allowed two or fewer goals and recorded at least 30 saves in three of those contests.

Dallas’ stretch run was a great test for Oettinger as to how he would handle the pressure of starting must-win games. Oettinger has clearly passed that test with flying colors and makes the Stars that much more of a formidable foe come playoff time.

It’s been no secret that the Florida Panthers have had a sensational season. In fact, the Panthers can clinch the President’s Trophy (best record in the NHL) with a win over the Ottawa Senators on Thursday. As the regular season concludes, trade deadline acquisition Claude Giroux is playing some of his best hockey of the season. 

Over his past three games, Giroux has registered one goal and five assists while having two multi-point performances during that stretch. In addition, Giroux has registered an assist in seven of his last eight games. Sure, Giroux was an avid goal scorer during his 15 seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers, but his playmaking ability is just as dangerous. When it comes to Florida, this is a roster that is riddled with goal scorers and have five players that registered at least 80 points this season.

With that in mind, Giroux doesn’t need to be counted on to find the back of the net at a consistent rate considering that he’s on the top line with Aleksander Barkov and Carter Verhaeghe, who have scored 61 combined goals on the year.

If Giroux continues to excel at being a facilitator on Florida’s top line, hoisting the Stanley Cup may be well within the realm of possibilities for the Panthers this season.

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