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Nabokov, Kovalev, Backes up for Scotiabank Fan Fav

Saturday, 04.04.2009 / 6:22 PM / Fan Fav Award
Every Saturday night throughout the regular season — coinciding with the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast on CBC and RDS — NHL representatives will evaluate NHL player performances from the week prior to select the top three NHL player performances for that week.

Fans then will have the opportunity each week to go online at http://www.fanfav-nhl.com and vote for their favorite player from amongst the three nominees. At season's end, each winning player will be placed in a pool with the other weekly winners, from which a panel of independent NHL judges will narrow down the list to 10 finalists based on their season-long performances. Fans will then have the opportunity to vote for their favorite NHL player from these top 10 finalists. Exciting NHL prizes will be available to both U.S. and Canadian participants.


This week's Scotiabank Fan Fav nominees include one of the NHL's top goaltenders, a veteran forward who's on a roll and a youngster who enjoyed the best night of his career.

The San Jose Sharks have been riddled with injuries, but the play of goaltender Evgeni Nabokov has helped keep them atop the overall NHL standings. Nabokov was at his best last week, winning all three of San Jose's games and allowing just four goals to improve his record to 40-9-8 and help the Sharks build a six-point cushion over the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings in the race for first in the West. They lead Boston by three in the race for the Presidents' Trophy.

"We do care about the points, but we care more about the way we play," Nabokov said after making 25 saves in a 2-1 win at Edmonton that completed the Sharks' first two-game sweep in Alberta since they entered the NHL in 1991. "With a lot of guys out of the lineup we have to tidy it up a little bit. We have to be disciplined and that's what we are right now."

It's not a coincidence that Alex Kovalev's offensive touch and the Montreal Canadiens' winning ways returned about the same time. GM/coach Bob Gainey put Kovalev together with Saku Koivu and Alex Tanguay five games ago, and the veteran trio powered Montreal to a 4-0-1 run that moved the Canadiens into seventh in the East. Kovalev has been especially good, with 3 goals and 7 points in three games last week, helping the Canadiens get five of a possible six points.

Like the Canadiens, the St. Louis Blues are battling to make the playoffs. Young forward David Backes did his best to help last week with one of the season's biggest performances -- a four-goal night that included the game-winning goal in a 5-4 victory over Detroit on Thursday, moving the Blues into the final playoff position in the West.

The 6-foot-3, 220-pound winger broke a 4-4 tie with 4:07 left, scoring on a one-timer from the bottom of the left circle. It was his 30th goal of the season -- pretty good for someone whose previous career high was 13.

"We felt that David had the potential to be a 30-goal scorer," Blues coach Andy Murray said. "But we didn't think it would happen here in Detroit."

Last week's winner, San Jose's Devin Setoguchi, has also blown past his career bests. The speedy forward's five goals put him at 30 for the season, second to captain Patrick Marleau, and his seven points gave him 61, more than triple last season's output.

Setoguchi's big week started after he and another young forward, Joe Pavelski, were teamed with Milan Michalek against Dallas.

"Maybe it's cleared my mind," said Setoguchi, who spent most of the season on Joe Thornton's wing with Marleau. "It's strange how your mind can get so clouded when things aren't going well."







Quote of the Day

We think that Randy is a very good coach. Our players think that Randy is a very good coach. We think that he's going to get the most out of this group. With the addition of the two assistants, a bit of a different dynamic, we're very comfortable that this is a quality coaching staff that's going to maximize the potential of this team.

— Maple Leafs GM Dave Nonis on head coach Randy Carlyle and his staff