NHL Weekly Awards: Kolesar Sends Lyubushkin Into Orbit And Makar Can’t Tell A Lie

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It’s the final NHL Weekly Awards before Christmas, which means it’s also the last one before the World Junior Championships.

Didn’t we just have those?

Yes, we did. But they’re back after a four-month respite. I’m sure we’ll have some goods from top prospects like Conor Bedard and Adam Fantilli, the projected No. 1 and 2 picks who will both be on Canada’s roster.

We might see some draft stocks rise, and some others take a nose dive, but one thing is sure: we’ll have some awards to give out.

But that’s looking ahead. This week was no slouch.

So here are this week’s NHL Weekly Awards winners…

Best Hit That Sent A Player Into Orbit: Keegan Kolesar

Egad, man. Vegas and Buffalo have developed quite the rivalry over the last year or so and while most of that is thanks to Jack Eichel others are getting in on the fun.

Knights winger Keegan Kolesar delivered a monstrous hit on Sabres defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin.

I’ve watched this many times, and I still can’t figure out how this hit sent Lyubishkin into the stratosphere like Sputnik, but it’s incredible

Kolesar was assessed a minor for boarding on the play, and honestly, he may have been lucky to get that. That could’ve ended badly. Fortunately, Lyubushkin seemed to be okay and hopped up, ready and raring to join the scrum that formed in the corner.

The Sabres held on for a 3-2 win on the road in Vegas. Hopefully, they celebrated by heading to the tables seeing as Ilya Lyubushkin does a pretty good impression of a roulette wheel.

Best Missed Shootout Attempt: Teemu Hartikainen

Finland’s Teemu Hartikainen unloaded one of the best moves I’ve ever seen in a shootout… problem was he didn’t finish.

Everyone likes to see a Finnish finish.

The Fins were taking on Sweden in a Euro Hockey Tour matchup. It ended up in a shootout and the former Oilers pick got the ol’ shoulder tap to give it a go.

He unleashed a move the likes of which we’ve never seen.

At first, it looked like he was going for a classic Forsberg stamp move — fitting as this was against Sweden. However, in an instant, the 32-year-old managed to get the puck on his blade and lacrosse it with one hand directly into the end glass.

I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a play so impressive that not only wasn’t a goal, but it completely failed to hit the net.

Good stuff, from Mr. Hartikainen. A few more practice attempts and he’ll have it down.

Goalie That Looked Like A Broken Animatronic Of The Week: Juuse Saros

I’m starting to think that some NHL players are androids. Last week, we had Artemi Panarin pulling a deke that looked like a glitch from NHL 09. Now we’ve got Juuse Saros going into sleep mode during a game.

Saros’ Preds were hosting the Edmonton Oilers and at one point Nashville defenseman Dante Fabbro collected the puck behind the net. Oilers Klim Kostin pressured from the front of the net while Jusse Saros just zenned out.

Did someone forget to plug him in before the game? What’s the deal here?

I don’t know but whatever it is it worked. The Predators ended up winning the game 4-3, with Saros stopping 30 of 33 shots.

Almost-Goalie Goal of the Week: Jeremy Swayman

We had an almost-goalie goal courtesy of Boston Bruins netminder Jeremy Swayman.

The Bruins were playing host to the Columbus Blue Jackets and nearly sent them packing with what amounts to about a 190-foot dart.

But alas it wasn’t meant to be and resulted in a 190-foot trip back the other way for icing.

While Swayman couldn’t make it happen, the Bruins organization still managed to have a goalie goal.

It was just a couple of levels below the National Hockey League.

Goalie Goal of the Week: François Brassard

François Brassard, or Frankie Brass as he should be known if he isn’t already, was in net for the Maine Mariners of the ECHL on Sunday night.

The Mariners were on the road visiting the Adirondack Thunder and had a nice two-goal lead with about 30 seconds in regulation. This meant that our boy Frankie Brass knew he could take a shot at the empty cage without fear of missing and getting a talking to from the head coach.

He corralled a bouncing puck just in front of the crease and with no outlet options to speak of licked the stamp and sent it down ice.

Frankie Brass was mobbed by his teammates, as he should’ve been.

I’ve said it before: there’s nothing more electrifying than a goalie goal…

…except maybe a goalie fight.

Most Honest Player Of The Week: Cale Makar

Cale Makar is a Stanley Cup champ and has won the Calder, Norris, and Conn Smythe trophies.

He’s also such an honest guy it’s become a detriment to his team.

On Monday night the Islanders were in town to play the reigning champs. In the last minute of the first period, Makar carried the puck behind his own net while Isles forward Mat Barzal gave chase.

Barzal was giving Makar some grief and it looked like he managed to put his stick between Makar’s stick and sent him sprawling.

The ref was in the opportunity and immediately shot his arm up to hand Barzal a two-minute sentence for tripping.

Hold the phone the Avs D-man (and defacto Lady Byng frontrunner).

Upon rewatching it, it’s clear Makar was right, and he wasn’t tripped. The officials talked it over and decided not to give Barzal a penalty.

I’ve never seen this happen ever. Most hockey fans and players would agree that if you’re gifted a call like that you keep your mouth shut and let’s escort the guy who was framed to the penalty box.

Good on Makar for being one heck of a dude, and lucky for him the Avs won 1-0.

Can you imagine if they lost and gave up a powerplay opportunity like that?

Person Who Has Clearly Had Enough Of Michael Bunting Of The Week: Linesman Dan Kelly

Linesmen have a tough job, and clearly, Dan Kelly was having a rough day at the office.

He definitely seemed to be done dealing with the Maple Leafs’ Michale Bunting earlier this week.

Bunting didn’t seem particularly eager to hit the showers but, it’s not every day you see a linesman try to manhandle a player like that.

You can tell Bunting wasn’t used to that either, as evidenced by his incredulous, easy-to-lip-read reaction.

You don’t want to see this thing becoming the norm, but for now, we’ll just assume Kelly was having a rough night.

Hockey Guys Of The Week: Washington Commanders

Now for a little bit of NFL/NHL crossover.

On Sunday, the Washington Commanders lost to the New York Giants 20-12. By Monday, that was a distant memory, because the boys decided to mosey on down to the Capitals’ barn to watch them annihilate the Blackhawks.

That’s one way to wash away the pain of a recent loss. Commanders signal caller Taylor Heinecke talked about it the next day.

Always nice to see the football fellas support the local team.

Have a Merry Christmas! If you stumble across anything award-worthy over the holidays be sure to send it my way on Twitter: @Matt_Reigle

Written by Matt Reigle

Matt is a University of Central Florida graduate and a long-suffering Philadelphia Flyers fan living in Orlando, Florida. He can usually be heard playing guitar, shoe-horning obscure quotes from The Simpsons into conversations, or giving dissertations to captive audiences on why Iron Maiden is the greatest band of all time.

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