We have officially began the start of a new year and a new decade. 2020 is among us, and so is another month of the NHL, which has officially hit its halfway point in the season. Teams around the league are gearing up for another month of tight hockey, as we are hitting the time of the year where teams will need every point they can if they want to play hockey past April. Also around the corner is the annual All-Star Game, which gives All-Star players a week away from their usual NHL schedule to have some fun with other players around the league, and for those not attending the game, a week away to rest and recover from bumps and bruises incurred throughout the season.
With December now past us, we look back at the top three NHL players that performed above the rest throughout the month. Here are the Three Stars of December:
Third Star – Jonathan Huberdeau
For the Florida Panthers, it is absolutely no question that Jonathan Huberdeau has been the team’s best player. Currently sitting tied for 7th in scoring in the NHL with 53 points, Huberdeau turned on the heat in the month of December, scoring 6 goals and adding 16 assists for 22 points in just 13 games for the Panthers over the course of the month. He scored three goals and four assists on the power play. Huberdeau recorded four points in three different games, the most four-point games of any other player in the league in December. Huberdeau also possessed a +7 player rating throughout the month of December, and averaged roughly 19 minutes of ice time per game. Stats like these can’t go ignored, and Huberdeau’s stats are good enough to give him Third Star honours for the month of December.
Second Star – Mark Scheifele
Mark Scheifele played a big role in the Winnipeg Jets’ six-win December. Scheifele put the team on his back, lighting it up with 20 points in the Jets’ 13 December games. Of those 20 points, Scheifele recorded 9 goals and 11 assists, as he started off the calendar month with a seven game point streak in which he registered 12 of his 20 December points. If that wasn’t enough to make a case for himself, Scheifele also went +5 last month, and recorded 9 of 20 points on the power play. Scheifele netted four game winning goals, and logged over 20 minutes of ice time in 9 of his 13 games in December. These stats were enough to make Mark Scheifele our Second Star of the month.
First Star – Artemi Panarin
The “Bread Man” went out in December and “got that bread.” Artemi Panarin, in the first year of the seven year contract he signed with the New York Rangers this offseason, went off last month, recording an amazing 22 points throughout 14 games. These 22 points separate into 10 goals and 12 assists. With such a productive month, Panarin lifted himself to sixth place in NHL scoring with 22 goals and 33 assists for 55 points. Panarin has a seven-game point streak in the middle of the month in which he registered 11 of his 22 points. But perhaps what is most impressive about Panarin’s December is the work he’s done post-Christmas. Since returning from the brief three-day Christmas break, Panarin has been red hot, putting up an insane 10 points (2 goals, 8 assists) in his last three games. Panarin finished December as a +9, and registered four power play points and two game winning goals. Artemi Panarin is the First Star of December.
There were so many top performers in the month of December that it was difficult to narrow it down to just three. It is also worth noting the achievements of Buffalo Sabres forward Jack Eichel (9 goals, 9 assists, 18 points) who carried on from November a career-best 18 game point streak with points in the first 9 games of December, and Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews (11 goals, 6 assists, 17 points) who now has 27 goals on the year, good enough for second-most in the league. It will be very exciting to see which players step up in January, as crunch time for playoffs looms closer and closer. Stay tuned for an exciting last few months of the season!
Featured photo courtesy of allhabs.net
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