The NHL has acknowledged the fine play of three players and awarded them with the three stars of the month. The first star is Ottawa Senators goalie, Craig Anderson, the second is Patrick Marleau of the San Jose Sharks and the third is Thomas Vanek of the Buffalo Sabres. The surprise doesn’t come in the form that these three were named the three stars, but more the order in which they were placed.
Anderson had a stellar month, there is no denying that. He went 5-0-1 with a league best .967 save percentage and a second best GAA of 0.99. All around, terrific numbers and one of the biggest reasons the Senators are first in the Eastern Conference.
But both Marleau and Vanek were better in my opinion. Now I understand that you’re comparing apples to oranges when you have a goaltender up against two forwards, but just look at the wicked numbers that both the Sharks captain and the Sabres forward put forth in January.
Let’s start with Vanek. Including last night’s romp over the Boston Bruins that saw him collect 5 points in the game, the second time he’s done that already this year. Overall he leads the league with 15 points, six of which are goals, proving he can not only score but set up his line mates. He did all that in just six games which is averaging 2.5 points per game. That in itself is incredible.
Marleau’s production in San Jose shouldn’t be discounted either. He leads the league with 9 goals in 7 games and is second in points, only to Vanek with 14 points. Don’t forget, his club is the only team in the league that hasn’t lost yet as they stand alone at the top with an unblemished record of 7-0. Marleau has led the charge for this club and is arguably playing some of the best hockey of his career.
Again, all three players deserve to be one of the top 3 stars for the first month of this shortened season. But the order in which they lie is the part that is surprising. To me, Vanek should be first, followed by Marleau then Anderson.
The biggest reasoning is that Anderson has faced 184 shots this season which ranks him sixth on the list of netminders. That’s just over 30 shots per game and while that is a lot of rubber, which bodes well for his save percentage, the Senators are sixth in the league in goals for with an average of 3.43. Anderson is keeping the goals out, but his team is also scoring at a consistent pace as well.
Marleau’s shooting percentage is an impressive 27.3, meaning nearly just over every fourth shot he takes goes in. Vanek’s is also an impressive 21.4%.
Tedious argument? Perhaps, but given the stats that both Vanek and Marleau produced and in the fashion they did so, I believe they deserve to be ahead of Anderson.