Best and Worst of the Week: DeBrincat, highway robbery and historically bad Sabres

The ‘Cat’ and all his hats. (Chase Agnello-Dean/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

It shouldn’t be surprising that a kid who scored 50-plus goals for three straight years in junior knows how to fill the net, but it’s pretty amazing how quickly Alex DeBrincat has adjusted in his rookie year.

He’s up to 11 goals and 19 points in 25 games on the season after scoring his first hat trick this week in a four-point effort against the Ducks. Although none of the goals were of the highlight reel variety, DeBrincat’s knack for finding open space and his finishing ability are impressive. It doesn’t hurt to have Patrick Kane slinging you perfect passes, either.

Nicest Individual Goal

This move by Viktor Arvidsson is straight out of NHL 18. So, so smooth. And that finish from in close at a bad angle — just nasty.

Best Squad Goal

What makes this goal so nice is that both the final product and the sum of its parts are equally beautiful.

Rick Nash’s spinning pass and Jimmy Vesey’s bardown finish will get most of the shine, but Kevin Hayes’ perfectly feathered backhand saucer pass was sneakily the best part of the whole thing.

Tastiest Dish

This wasn’t the nicest pass by traditional standards, but the fact Gustav Nyquist had the wherewithal — and skill — to pull off that move in traffic and then drop it back to Tomas Tatar is a gorgeous piece of playmaking.

Best Save

Highway robbery saw a huge spike this week, so it was tough to settle on a winner. Jacob Markstrom had a nice one, as did Carey Price, Jonathan Quick, Frederik Andersen and several others. But we’re going to show some love to Edmonton’s Laurent Brossoit, who had no business making this save against Patrick Marleau on Thursday.

Softest Goal

When a goalie reacts the way Markstrom does here, you know it’s one he’d like to have back.

Worst Giveaway

Jack Eichel could have earned the top honor this week with his soft giveaway to Paul Byron, so too could Sammy Blais for his blatant blunder against Minnesota, and whatever this was by Scott Darling. But Rasmus Ristolainen takes the cake this week. To go up the middle in your own zone when Sidney Crosby is in your sight lines is about as flagrant as it gets.

Best Shootout Goal

It’s not always about putting on a hands show — mental warfare is a huge part of shootouts, and Corey Perry is one of the best in the biz. A successful fake clapper is always great, but the way he ties Jonathan Quick into knots with a little pump fake really sets this one apart.

Firsts

It took Tristan Jarry four tries, but he finally picked up his first NHL win this week — and against the Lightning no less. It was a helluva performance too, as Jarry finished with 33 saves, including a spectacular stop on Nikita Kucherov, and also picked up his first career assist on Bryan Rust’s short-handed marker. He also picked up his first ever shutout on Friday against the Sabres.

Strangest Play

Roman Polak scoring a goal that banked off not one but two Calgary Flames before going in is right up there in terms of things you didn’t think you’d see this season. But so too was this no-goal by Tyler Johnson against the Boston Bruins. We’ve seen similar things happen before, but when you watch the overhead angle it’s pretty incredible this puck managed to stay out considering Tuukka Rask was falling backwards and Johnson and Charlie McAvoy were crashing the crease.

Most Reckless Play

Cedric Paquette rightfully got suspended for his dangerous hit on Torey Krug, as did Gabriel Landeskog for his excessive cross-check on Matthew Tkachuk, but Patrick Kane delivering a double dose of carbon to the chops of Roman Josi and Kevin Fiala is impressively reckless.

Biggest Hit

Not the most bone-rattling hit, but this was a solid check nonetheless by Carolina’s Joakim Nordstrom on Nashville’s Anthony Bitetto.

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Best Scrap

Kevin Bieksa has claimed another victim. Best finishing move in the league.

Whipping Boy

Can it really be anybody else but Kris Russell? It was a really bad break more than anything, but that one’s going to sting for a while. Doesn’t help that it was against the Leafs of all teams.

Monkey off the Back

Matt Duchene finally potted his first as a member of the Ottawa Senators last Saturday, ending an eight-game goalless drought. The Senators as a whole also ended their seven-game losing skid on Friday in Brooklyn.

Streaking

Given how things have gone for the Sabres this season, you would think it couldn’t really get any worse. Well think again! Buffalo was shut out for a third straight game on Friday, losing 4-0 to the Penguins. It’s the first time in franchise history they’ve gone three games without scoring a goal.

Best Quote

After the Jets pummeled the Wild, Paul Maurice was speaking with reporters when he pointed out that someone had dropped some change. As he was leaving the press conference Maurice went over to pocket the fallen dime, saying “Listen, I’ve been fired three times.” Gold.

Snapshot


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