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Happy belated Valentine’s Day to those who celebrate, observe, or completely blow it off.
It’s a time to celebrate love, which is rather fitting because I like to think that the NHL Weekly Awards are all about a love for the game of hockey.
We’ve got some great stuff this week including some sweet, sweet lamp-lightings.
Let’s start with one of those, and in honor of Valentine’s Day we’ll take a look at some Xs and Os.
Get it? Like XOXO?
Nope? Well anyway, here we go…
Most Likely To Make A Coach Say To The Rest Of The Team “Now That Is How You Forecheck” During The Next Film Session: Kirby Dach
There are a few things that hockey coaches love saying. Take “Get pucks in deep” and “C’mon, boys” are two favorites. But another one that I hear all the time is “We need to establish the forecheck.”
It’s an important part of the game at even strength and it’s key for good penalty killing.
Montreal Canadiens center Kirby Dach clearly knows this. Check out this bit of stellar forechecking to set up a beauty of a shorthanded goal for Christian Dvorak
I don’t like to get too in the weeds with Xs and Os because it can get dull in a hurry but look at this play. First of all, A for effort on Dach’s part. That in itself is commendable.
However, more importantly, note how that bit of pressure made the Oilers’ powerplay completely implode in seconds.
Goalie Stuart Skinner handed things off to defensemen Evan Bouchard. However, he coughed up the puck to Dach who at first just tried to kill time.
That turnover caused another Oiler, Evander Kane, to sense that their typical powerplay break out had just collapsed like a poorly built house of cards and rush in to help. That left Dvorak completely open and Dach hit him for the shorthanded goal.
Marty St. Louis must have been drooling about the thought of busting this clip out during the next film session as an example of perfect penalty killing and forechecking.
Hand-Eye King Of The Week: James van Riemsdyk
I find any non-accidental tip impressive. The kind where you can tell that a player meant to put their stick where they did to get the puck to go precisely where it did.
Now, how about someone who does that twice on the same play?
It’s not shocking to see JVR scoring a goal in his office like that but that’s far from just picking up garbage. That is some crazy hand-eye coordination on display.
If you’re a playoff team looking to add a little something in front of the net — perhaps on a power play unit — JVR has to be on the radar at the trade deadline.
First-Career (Collegiate) Goal Of The Week: Chikara Hanzawa
Sacred Heart University’s Chikara Hanzawa scored his first career NCAA goal and, boy, did he do it in style.
The right-wing out of Tokyo put one on the score sheet for the first time with an unbelievable goal from his back.
Great moves to get from the corner into the slot, and stellar alertness to snag his own rebound as he’s falling to the ice. Just amazing stuff, and congratulations to Hanzawa on the first tally.
Silky Mitts Of The Week: Kevin Hayes
I know we’re doubling up on the Flyers but humor me; that has not been something I’ve been able to do with much regularity this season.
And honestly, I had to. Kevin Hayes showed off some mitts crafted out of the finest silk.
Watching this live, I panicked for a moment when it looked like Hayes was going to run out of runway. But then — BOOM — Stamp Move, and slid it past Juuse Saros.
It was a great play all around — from the setup to the finish — but it wasn’t enough to lift the Flyers past the Predators, as Nashville won the game in the first minute of overtime.
Best Use Of Props: Yaroslav Askarov
We’ve got some Carrot Top — no, Gallagher-level prop comedy happening up in Milwaukee. We didn’t have anyone bust out a Sledge-O-Matic but we did have someone do a few reps with the crossbar used as a makeshift barbell.
The Milwaukee Admirals and the Rockford Ice Hogs were engaged in an AHL tilt that went to a shootout. It was up to Ice Hogs rookie Cole Guttman.
He missed wide, but that didn’t matter to Admirals goalie Yaroslav Askarov who celebrated like he had just flashed some leather right in his face.
You don’t see a lot celebrations like that especially from goalies, but it was a nice change of pace. It kind of reminded me of the days when Chad Johnson was putting the ball with a pylon and Terrell Owens was stealing peoples’ popcorn.
The Admirals and Ice Hogs played again the very next night only this time down in Rockford. The Admirals won that game too, which also went to a shootout.
Most Badass Shootout Attempt: Ross Mitton
I don’t know exactly what Colgate’s Ross Mitton was trying to do here, but I love it.
Take a look, then we’ll discuss:
Alright, so part of me feels like this is the hockey version of a bat flip. Just a bit of attitude to send a message. In which case, it’s something we don’t see all that often in hockey, and it was great.
However, I think there could’ve been a practical reason behind Mitton nonchalantly shoving the puck up ice like that. Was he maybe trying to make it look like he was going to step into a slapshot? When he caught up to the puck and pulled a few dekes in tight, I’m sure that would’ve momentarily scrambled the goalie’s brain.
Whatever the reason, it was an unorthodox shootout attempt that was nothing if not very badass, and therefore deserving of an award that I made up.
That’s it for this week, ladies and gentlemen. Mosey on back here next week for some more OutKick NHL Weekly Awards. On the off chance you stumble across anything from around the hockey world that you think is aaward-worthy be sure to send it to me on Twitter: @Matt_Reigle.