NEW YORK – Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko and Richmond Hospital respiratory therapist Alim Somani have been named the NHL’s “First Stars” for the week ending Jan. 31.
Throughout the 2020-21 season the NHL is celebrating the remarkable efforts of the off-ice stars who make it possible for us to play our games amid a pandemic by honoring frontline healthcare heroes from the regions represented by the League’s weekly and monthly “Stars.”
Somani has been working tirelessly as a respiratory therapist in Richmond, B.C., since the beginning of the pandemic. He has witnessed numerous COVID-19 outbreaks over the past year, but continues to selflessly protect the community as a frontline worker. Day and night, Somani – who has an autoimmune disease – strives to provide the best care for all of his patients while risking his own health. When asked about the potentially life-threatening risks he faces, Somani says, “As long as I know that my friends, family and the people I care about are safe and healthy, I’ll keep fighting this as long as I can.” Somani cares deeply about everyone around him and continues to put the community first. Whether it’s working on the front lines, moving into a hotel alone to keep his family safe at home, or volunteering to help those who are older and immunocompromised with essential services in his community, Somani stops at nothing to help those who need it most.
Rounding out the “Three Stars” of the week are Edmonton Oilers teammates Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. More on each NHL player’s performance can be found below:
FIRST STAR – THATCHER DEMKO, G, VANCOUVER CANUCKS
Demko stopped 100 of the 103 shots he faced, going 3-0-0 with a 1.00 goals-against average and .971 save percentage to guide the Canucks (6-5-0, 12 points) to a 4-0-0 week. He helped Vancouver sweep its three-game series against the Ottawa Senators, making 35 saves in a 7-1 win Jan. 25 and 42 stops in a 5-1 victory Jan. 27 – his fifth career 40-save performance during the regular season (and third-highest behind March 10, 2020 vs. NYI: 45 SV and Jan. 9, 2020 at FLA: 44 SV). Demko finished the week with 23 saves in a 4-1 triumph over the Winnipeg Jets Jan. 30. The 25-year-old San Diego, Calif., native has appeared in 43 career regular-season games, compiling a 21-16-3 record to go along with a 3.05 goals-against average and .907 save percentage (3-3-0, 3.21 GAA, .914 SV% in 2020-21).
SECOND STAR – CONNOR McDAVID, C, EDMONTON OILERS
McDavid led the NHL with 4-8-12 in four games to power the Oilers (5-6-0, 10 points) to a 2-2-0 week. He collected two points in both a 6-4 loss to the Winnipeg Jets Jan. 26 (1-1-2) and a 4-3 defeat against the Toronto Maple Leafs Jan. 28 (0-2-2). McDavid then scored the winning goal in each of his next two outings, registering 2-1-3 (including his eighth career overtime tally) in a 4-3 victory over the Maple Leafs Jan. 30 and 1-4-5 (his sixth career five-point effort) in an 8-5 triumph over the Ottawa Senators Jan. 31. The 24-year-old Richmond Hill, Ont., native and two-time Art Ross Trophy winner (2016-17 and 2017-18) tops the NHL with 8-14-22 through 11 contests this season, including 5-12-17 during an active seven-game point streak.
THIRD STAR – LEON DRAISAITL, C, EDMONTON OILERS
Draisaitl collected 3-9-12 in four appearances to pace the League in assists and finish second only to McDavid in scoring. He recorded two points in each of his first three games, compiling 1-1-2 on Jan. 26 against the Jets (6-4 L), two goals on Jan. 28 versus the Maple Leafs (4 3 L) and two helpers – including the primary assist on McDavid’s overtime winner – on Jan. 30 against Toronto (4-3 W). Draisaitl capped the week with a career-high six helpers on Jan. 31 versus the Senators (8-5 W), marking the first six-assist performance by any player since Feb. 26, 1997 (Eric Lindros). The 25-year-old Cologne, Germany, native and reigning Hart Memorial Trophy winner ranks second in the NHL with 6-15-21 in 11 games this season.