Welcome to the NHL Star Power Index: A weekly gauge of the players who are controlling substantial buzz around the league. When a player is included on this list it may not be a good thing -- it means that they are capturing a large amount of the hockey world's attention.
These players are in no particular order when it comes to the amount of buzz that they're creating. We'll revisit the Star Power Index every week throughout the regular season.
Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin continued his ascent on the NHL's all-time goals list. On Friday, Ovechkin tallied two goals against the Winnipeg Jets and passed Detroit Red Wings legend Gordie Howe for the No. 2 spot on the league's all-time goals list.
For his first goal of the night, Ovechkin intercepted a pass in the neutral zone and dished the puck off to teammate Dylan Strome. Strome dropped a pass off to Ovechkin, who fired the puck past goaltender David Rittich to give the Capitals a 1-0 lead.
801... pic.twitter.com/zXC4LvjsWn— NHL (@NHL) December 24, 2022
After tying Howe with the 801st goal of his professional career, it appeared as though Ovechkin may have to wait until after Christmas to pass Howe for sole possession of the No. 2 spot on the NHL's all-time goals list. But the Capitals winger got his moment in the sun with just 60 seconds remaining in the game.
Ovechkin was able to bury an empty-netter after the Jets had pulled Rittich in an attempt to climb back into the contest. As soon as the puck crossed the goal line, the 37-year-old star was mobbed by the entire Capitals roster after he completed the historic moment.
The Great 8 continues his climb. 📈— NHL (@NHL) December 24, 2022
With goal 802, Alex Ovechkin (@ovi8) now has the second most goals in NHL history! 🦅 pic.twitter.com/ySJOeb2pek
Ovechkin now has 802 career goals to his credit, which is just 92 goals behind Wayne Gretzky's all-time record of 894. Reaching Gretzky's all-time mark is certainly attainable for Ovechkin, assuming he's able to stay healthy over the next few years.
Since Mitch Marner's record-setting point streak came to an end, William Nylander has become the latest member of the Toronto Maple Leafs to carry the scoring torch.
Nylander has scored a goal in each of his last four games and has tallied eight goals and seven assists during the month of December. The 26-year-old star's latest great performance came in dramatic fashion in a Maple Leafs' 5-4 overtime win against the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday.
Nylander scored the game-winning goal in overtime. Blues star Vladimir Tarasenko was drifting back towards the blue line in the offensive line when Nylander picked his spot. Nylander found himself in all alone on Blues netminder Jordan Binnington and roofed a backhanded shot in for the game-winning goal with just 56.7 seconds left in overtime.
WILLYYYYYY!!!!! pic.twitter.com/HVf9D3uoze— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) December 28, 2022
Nylander's flair for the dramatic produced the seventh victory in nine games for the Maple Leafs, including the team's third consecutive win. Nylander is coming off of a career-high 80-point season (34 goals & 46 assists) and certainly could eclipse that during the 2022-23 campaign. The Maple Leafs star currently has 40 points (21 goals & 19 assists) and is on pace for 94 points (49 goals & 45 assists) this season.
The Boston Bruins' second line is responsible for the team being an absolute juggernaut. The combination of veteran center David Krejci's crafty passing and David Pastrnak's lethal scoring prowess has really elevated the Bruins to the NHL's elite. Pastrnak currently leads the team in points (48), goals (24), assists (24), power-play goals (10), and shots (175) while being tied for the team lead in power-play assists (12).
Prior to Tuesday's 3-2 shootout loss to the Ottawa Senators, the Bruins star had scored at least one goal in four consecutive games. In addition, Pastrnak has registered at least one point in all but one in December.
His most impressive showing came against the New Jersey Devils on Dec. 23 when he scored a pair of second period goals in a 4-3 win. Both of those tallies came off assists from Krejci.
More presents from Pasta🎅 pic.twitter.com/srt4Nt81OW— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) December 24, 2022
Pastrnak's offensive acumen has been one of the top reasons why the Bruins are sitting at the top of the NHL standings as the New Year approaches. If this dynamic level of play continues, it's going to be tough to derail this Boston team in a seven-game playoff series.
After a rough first two months to open the 2022-23 season, Andrei Vasilevskiy has returned to elite status.
The Tampa Bay Lightning netminder has registered a 6-2-0 record to go along with a staggering 1.63 goals-against-average and a .945 save percentage. Vasilevskiy has also surrendered two goals or fewer in seven of his eight starts throughout the month.
Over his last three games, Vasilevskiy has yielded a grand total of four goals and turned aside 83 of the 87 shots that he's faced. He's also given up just one goal apiece in a pair of victories against the Montreal Canadiens in recent weeks.
After stopping 25-of-26 shots in a 4-1 win against the Canadiens on Wednesday, Vasilevskiy's record improved to 50-32-3 during the 2022 calendar year. It marks his second consecutive calendar year in which he's registered at least 50 wins. Only Martin Brodeur (five: 2000, 2001, 2003, 2006, & 2007) and Patrick Roy (three: 1996, 2000, & 2001) have recorded at least 50 wins in a calendar year in multiple seasons during their careers.
With Vasilevskiy returning to elite form, the Lightning have enjoyed a terrific month of December in which they've been victorious in eight of their 11 games. The franchise will look to continue to climb in the standings as the All-Star break approaches riding on the back of their talented goalie.