NHL Three Stars: Barkov of the Panthers and Panarin of the Rangers Take Over the Post-Season, Oettinger of the Stars Defends the Crease

While many players are showcasing their incredible talent in the second round with the aim of winning the Cup, three individuals in particular stood out this week as being above and beyond the others.

This is THN’s Three Stars of the Week, a recurring web feature that highlights the three NHL players who have caused the most damage during the last seven days of the Stanley Cup playoffs. It is another post-season edition of the program. In this playoff edition of the feature, let’s get right to it:

  1. Dallas Stars guard Jake Oettinger
    Even though Oettinger hasn’t exactly been the star player for the Stars, he has managed to win two of Dallas’ first three games against Colorado, win a Game 7 against Vegas in Round 1, and allow just eight goals in the first three games of the second round against the Avs. All told, Oettinger, 25, has played in four games this week and has posted a 2.15 goals-against average and a.917 save percentage. He has played in 38 playoff games overall and has a.918 SP and 2.49 G.A.A.

Following their victory in Denver in Game 3, the Stars have regained home ice advantage, and Oettinger has been contributing to the team’s chances of winning every game. He is the finest goalie in the Western Conference right now and can be the Stars’ best player in almost any series.

  1. New York Rangers’ Artemi Panarin, left-wing
    This week, in four games, the 32-year-old Panarin had six points and four assists. He now has five assists and nine points in eight playoff games this spring, both of which were game-winning goals. With a loaded Rangers team, Panarin is averaging little over 20 minutes of ice time per game this postseason. However, he is producing far more of an impact than he did in seven games last season (two assists), and the Blueshirts’ dominance in their second-round series against Carolina is largely due to Panarin’s increased play.

In the regular season, Panarin appears to be playing at the highest level and the Rangers appear to be the clear favorites to win the Eastern Conference. The Rangers are perfectly content with Panarin’s exceptional playmaking abilities because he has a wealth of partners who can score goals. Panarin looks up to the challenge so far, but the Rangers are likely only going as far as he (and goaltender Igor Shesterkin) carry them.

  1. Florida Panthers’ Aleksander Barkov, C
    The 28-year-old Barkov has looked every bit the leader the Panthers need him to be if they are going to outlast the Boston Bruins and make it to the Eastern final, with two goals, including one game-winning goal, and seven points in just three games this week. Barkov is a formidable opponent in the offensive zone because of his unwavering defensive mentality. For this reason, he is a strong candidate to take home the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the NHL’s best defensive forward.

The Panthers have been aggressive and generally successful in their three games versus Boston, and their captain, Mikhail Barkov, has led the way at the top. Barkov appears to be in the prime of his playing career and has the best two-way dominance in the game. If Barkov keeps playing well, he might be a contender for the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs.

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