Blake Wheeler’s brilliant work over the last week has not gone unnoticed by the National Hockey League.
The NHL named the Winnipeg Jets’ winger one of its three stars of the week after he led all scorers with eight points (one goal, seven assists) over the last four games, three of them wins.
Wheeler was named the second star after Anaheim Ducks’ goaltender Jonas Hiller while Ottawa Senators centre Jason Spezza was the third star (see NHL press release below).
"He deserves it, he’s playing well," said Claude Noel. "He’s had some big impact on games and he had a big night last night with four assists. It’s nice to see him get some recognition."
Wheeler did not speak to all media after Monday’s optional skate, but did say after Sunday’s 5-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche that individual honours — he eclipsed a personal best with his 46 point Sunday — are of little interest to him.
"I really am not wrapped up in the individual statistic thing, man," Wheeler said. "Our whole line’s playing really well. When we were put together after the all-star break we made a conscious effort to try and make this thing work, similar to how we did last year in Atlanta. I think we’re going really well right now. We’re trying to win puck battles and keep things simple and it’s turning into some good chances for us and it’s translating into some big goals for us."
Asked if he is doing anything different – remember, Wheeler went 18 games without scoring to open the season – Noel downplayed any dramatic shift in the big winger’s approach.
"Not really," Noel said. "I think his game has changed from the early going, but I don’t think that’s by design. It’s maturity. He’s enjoying playing, he’s enjoying having success and his line looked good again last night."
The Jets continue their long homestand against the Philadelphia Flyers Tuesday night (6 p.m.; TSN Jets/TSN Sports Radio) and will again be without defenceman Zach Bogosian, who remains day to day. He has been skating, but has yet to practice with the club.
"It’s longer than we figured," Noel said of Bogosian. "It’s maintenance stuff and we’re just trying to get him through therapy. I’m shooting for Thursday (against Tampa). It depends on how he feels. Every day it seems he’s a little bit better."