Were it not for an injury, Chris Stewart still might be in Cleveland instead of Colorado -- and the Avalanche might not be where they are today.
The Avs sent Stewart to Lake Erie of the AHL early this season after coach Joe Sacco questioned his work ethic. But he returned two days later because the Avalanche ran into injuries, and he's done nothing but produce ever since.
Stewart came back from the Olympic break to have the best week of his young NHL career, totaling 5 goals and 4 assists in four games. He capped the week by scoring on a second-period penalty shot Saturday night to complete his first career hat trick and 4-point night.
That performance was good enough to earn him NHL First Star of the Week honors.
With 24 goals, Stewart already has more than doubled last season's output, and his 51 points is a big reason the Avs are solidly in the top eight in the Western Conference. Second Star: Steven Stamkos --
Stamkos is showing everyone why the Tampa Bay Lightning were right to take him with the first pick of the 2008 Entry Draft. After scoring 23 goals as a rookie, he reached the 40-goal mark in his second season with a pair Saturday, extending his points streak to 16 games and completing a week that saw him total 5 goals and 6 points in three games.Third Star: Bryan McCabe --
Florida's captain is doing his best to keep the Panthers in the playoff race. McCabe had 1 goal and 7 assists while going plus-3 last week, helping Florida to a 2-1-0 record.Two more --
Two other players who have been hot:Jose Theodore --
Theodore is doing his best to show he should be in goal when the Washington Capitals start the playoffs. Theodore was 2-0-0 last week while allowing just one goal on 54 shots, extending his unbeaten streak in regulation to 14 games (12-0-2).Mike Richards --
Philadelphia's captain came home from the Olympics with a gold medal, then set about to improve the Flyers' playoff position. He had 4 points in his first game back and finished 2-5-7 in four games.
Author: John Kreiser | NHL.com Columnist