Best and Worst of the Week: Athanasiou, chucking sticks and snatching beards

Nazem Kadri gives Joe Thornton a little trim. (Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

(Life’s busy — it’s not always easy to stay on top of everything happening around the NHL. So in case you missed it, here are some of the best and worst highlights of the week.)

Best Performance

Andreas Athanasiou didn’t have the best performance from a statistical standpoint — that would go to Sidney Crosby, William Karlsson and Mike Hoffman with four points each — but he was an unstoppable force against the Senators.

He finished with two goals on seven shots and matched an NHL record with his OT winner six seconds in, but he was around the puck all night and finished just shy of a gazillion breakaways. Funny what happens when you give your most talented players more ice time.

Nicest Individual Goal

The finish wasn’t spectacular, but the toe drag by Nikolay Goldobin was down right nasty. Drew Doughty doesn’t get beat like that very often.

Best Squad Goal

Some solid contenders in this category this week. The Panthers were the early favorite with this gem against the Canadiens. The Jets had a nice one led by Marko Dano, and the Hurricanes were a late consideration with this one against the Penguins. But Pittsburgh’s holy triumvirate took the cake — they just made this look so easy.

Tastiest Dish

Nathan MacKinnon has been one of the most entertaining players to watch in the NHL this season. This sweet set up on Mikko Rantanen’s goal is just the latest example of which there are many.

Best Save

Jimmy Howard’s save on Erik Karlsson would have been easy money any other week, but it’s not very often you see a goalie successfully pull off a Dominik Hasek snow angel like Carey Price did on Thursday.

Softest Goal

Ben Bishop was sleeping on this one.

Worst Giveaway

If you enjoy hockey and comedy, then this was the week for you. Maybe it was the holiday hangover or something, but there were an unusual amount of laugh out loud funny turnovers this week. Like Cal Clutterbuck skating full steam into David Pastrnak. Brandon Carlo forgetting the puck in front of the net. Madison Bowey’s Big Adventure. John Carlson’s ill-timed whiff and the sequel, Frederik Andersen’s ill-timed whiff. But the most egregious of all was this one by Andy Greene, who must have missed Alex Radulov when he decided to throw a backhand pass into the slot.

Best Shootout Goal



The fact it took Connor McDavid 167 games before he endured his first three-game pointless streak is insane, but it’s also McDavid so this one doesn’t seem as crazy as it would if any other player did it. What is more mind-boggling is that it took 37 games before someone scored a 5-on-5 goal against the Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak line. Similar to McDavid, it’s not shocking in theory that a line featuring the best defensive centre in the NHL and two possession monsters don’t give up many goals against. But you’d think they’d be on the ice for a bad goal or an unfortunate bounce or something at some point before now.

Strangest Play

This is one of those things that you think would occur more often than it does, which is practically never. But then you realize how long those two minutes must feel like in this situation and all the things that need to go right. It helps having a player like Karlsson, who single-handedly keeps this play alive on a number of occasions.

Most Reckless Play

Nazem Kadri has a reputation as being a reckless player, but he really crossed the line on this one. Have you no respect?

Biggest Hit

Kudos to Cooter for fighting his own battle after laying a solid, clean check on a big dude in Anders Lee.

Best Scrap

Couturier probably deserves it for his one-sided scrap with Josh Bailey, but for the sake of redundancy we’ll throw a bone to Michael Chaput and Chris Wagner for this angry tilt on Thursday.

Whipping Boy

This seat was being kept warm for Matt Duchene, who has not been great of late — or really at all since going to Ottawa — but then he went out and had the kinda night against the Sharks that makes you remember that he still knows how to hockey. So, out of fairness, let’s just give it to Richard Panik. He actually picked up an assist on Friday, his first point in 12 games, but he hasn’t scored since October and people are starting to realize that maybe last year was a little bit of a fluke.

Monkey off the Back

Gotta love the reaction from Big Buff and his teammates after he finally potted his first of the year. It’s pretty a wild that it took 30 games for Byfuglien to get on the board considering how much ice he gets on a good offensive team. And the fact he’s been a top-five goal-scoring defenseman over the last five years.


Blake Wheeler has been on a nice little run of late. With a goal and a helper on Friday, Wheeler has now scored in four straight and has eight points during his current five-game point streak.

Best Quote

Ehh, this kinda qualifies as a quote.


A classic-looking photo from a not so classic event.

(Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)