The Boston Bruins
lead the NHL in goals (119) and goal differential (plus-56) coming out of the holiday break, and no one has been hotter for them over the past week than Brad Marchand
The third-year forward was named the League's First Star of the Week on Monday, with New York Rangers
forward Marian Gaborik
earning Second Star and Colorado Avalanche
goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere
receiving Third Star honors.
Left Wing - BOS
GOALS: 15 | ASST: 14 | PTS: 29
SOG: 78 | +/-: 25
The Bruins only played twice last week, but Marchand played a pivotal role in both their victories. His goal with 5:46 remaining in the third period proved to be the game-winner as Boston held off Northeast Division rival Montreal 3-2 on Monday.
Four nights later, the Bruins teed off on the visiting Panthers, routing them 8-0, and Marchand had a career night. He registered his first NHL hat trick and assisted on a pair of goals for good measure, finishing with 5 points. Marchand's shorthanded goal opened the scoring in the game.
"I never even thought I would ever get one of those in this League," said Marchand, who recalled his last hat trick came in junior.
Gaborik took over the League lead in goals while helping the Rangers claim first place in the Atlantic Division from the Flyers with their showdown in the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic fast approaching.
Gaborik extended his goal-scoring streak to four games by lighting the lamp in all three games the Rangers played last week. He scored twice in a three-goal third period -- including the game-winner -- in a 4-1 win over the rival Devils on Monday, then added single goals in 4-2 victories over the Islanders on Thursday and the Flyers on Friday. The goal against Philadelphia was also the decisive score, his fourth game-winning goal of the season. In addition, Gaborik eclipsed 600 career points.
"It’s a pretty nice milestone but the most important thing is it helped us win," Gaborik said.
Giguere has backstopped the Avalanche to four straight wins, including three last week. The 34-year-old veteran lowered his goals-against average to 1.79 (third in the NHL) and upped his save percentage to .934 (fourth) in the process.
"I am just taking it one game at a time and trying to give the team a chance and try to leave a good impression so the coach wants to put me back in," said Giguere, who started his streak with a 2-1 win against Washington on Dec. 17 when Semyon Varlamov
didn't play because of a sore back.