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Posted On Friday, 04.04.2014 / 3:00 AM

By Kevin Weekes -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Weekes on the Web

Coaches like McLellan, Cooper changing NHL mold

I was talking to Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper the other day and there was just something about the way he conducted himself. It was just him being a human being; so refreshing. There's no yelling or false bravado. It then dawned on me how the way coaches address their players has changed in the NHL.

You don't see yelling or intimidation anymore. You don't even see that from Philadelphia Flyers coach Craig Berube, and he collected more than 3,000 penalty minutes as a player. That's the irony. Look at the job he's done and how he's galvanized that group.

This is how coaches are doing their job in today's NHL. I'm going to get back to Cooper, but Todd McLellan is another guy who illustrates that. And it's working wonders for the San Jose Sharks.

San Jose looks as good as I've ever seen them, which says a lot because they've had a lot of very good teams over the years. Doug Wilson and McLellan and that staff have done a great job.

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.02.2014 / 3:27 PM

By Kevin Weekes -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Weekes on the Web

Emerging Nyquist, Tatar face tough task vs. Bruins

There are just a few days remaining in the 2013-14 NHL season, meaning just about every game has major postseason implications heading into the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

That's certainly the case with the Wednesday Night Rivalry game this week (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2, RDS), which matches a Detroit Red Wings team scrambling to make the playoffs for the 23rd straight season against a Boston Bruins team looking to wrap up home ice throughout the postseason.

With Detroit, you really have to start with Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar. They have been stars down the stretch for the Red Wings. The big point for me with those two is they are not replacing serviceably good players; they have stepped in and tried to fill the void left by injuries to Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, two of the best two-way players in the world.

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Posted On Friday, 03.28.2014 / 3:00 AM

By Kevin Weekes -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Weekes on the Web

Leaders emerging for contenders in East

Before a busy slate of games started Thursday the Eastern Conference had four teams, the Columbus Blue Jackets, Detroit Red Wings, Washington Capitals and Toronto Maple Leafs, tied for the two wild-card spots for the Stanley Cup Playoffs with 80 points. That means these last few weeks of the season are going to be an absolute dogfight in the East.

And for the teams scrambling to qualify for the postseason, certain players have emerged to lead the way.

The Capitals are 4-0-2 in their past six and collected an impressive five of six points in a three-game trip through California. Considering that, it's hard to ignore how Joel Ward is playing. Entering Thursday, Ward had the same amount of goals (22) as Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings. That gives you some perspective right now for the year he's having.

Perhaps more important, if Washington can squeeze into the playoffs Ward has a history of scoring big goals in the postseason. That's really impressive for someone who is supposed to be a third-line player.

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Posted On Wednesday, 03.26.2014 / 3:00 AM

By Kevin Weekes -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Weekes on the Web

Flyers, Rangers meet in potential playoff preview

We've reached that time of the season where every game is more important than the last. That's definitely true of the Wednesday Night Rivalry game this week, which will see the Philadelphia Flyers visit Madison Square Garden to take on the New York Rangers in a potential Stanley Cup Playoff preview (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2, RDS).

The Rangers are one point ahead of Philadelphia in the Metropolitan Division, although the Flyers have two games in hand. It doesn't hurt that this also is one of the best rivalries in the NHL. These games always are nasty. Definitely no love lost between these two teams and their very passionate fan bases.

The Rangers earned a hard-fought and much-needed win against the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday. Now they go up against the Flyers, who really are coming on. They've got several 20-goal scorers and Wayne Simmonds is having a heck of a season. He's got more goals than Anze Kopitar and Kopitar is a star in this League. Scott Hartnell is doing his thing and Claude Giroux has been great. Vincent Lecavalier is playing better lately and they're getting production from everywhere. I just love what coach Craig Berube is doing with that team and the belief that he's instilled in them.

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Posted On Friday, 03.21.2014 / 4:22 PM

By Kevin Weekes -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Weekes on the Web

Weekes' Beat: Steven Stamkos Exclusive

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Posted On Friday, 03.21.2014 / 4:16 PM

By Kevin Weekes -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Weekes on the Web

Roy, Okposo have had breakout seasons

With the 2013-14 season coming to a close, we can finally take a look at the past five months and really see who has enjoyed a coming-out party in the NHL. There are numerous people who have truly established themselves this year, but for now I'd like to focus on two in particular, starting with Colorado Avalanche coach Patrick Roy.

I just think he's been amazing. Since his team took the League by storm in October, there has been no drop-off in how he handles himself, how he interacts with his team or his level of communication with the staff and the players. You often hear him talk about his partnership with the players; what it means and what it represents. The players are just loving it.

Nathan MacKinnon was the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, but Roy didn't throw him to the wolves. He put him on the third line. There were times he wasn't playing center, there were times he wasn't taking faceoffs. As he's adjusted to the League and gotten better and more comfortable, Roy has expanded his responsibilities. He's done a great job of managing MacKinnon's ice time. Not just with him. I think Gabriel Landeskog has improved dramatically, as have Matt Duchene and Ryan O'Reilly.

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Posted On Wednesday, 03.19.2014 / 2:00 AM

By Kevin Weekes -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Weekes on the Web

Blues, Blackhawks improve heading into rivalry game

I'm really looking forward to the Wednesday Night Rivalry game this week between the St. Louis Blues and the Chicago Blackhawks (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN2). These are two elite teams that have somehow managed to get even better as we approach the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Blues have been red-hot and goaltender Ryan Miller has made a seamless transition since being acquired from the Buffalo Sabres on Feb. 28. He's been excellent. In talking to general manager Doug Armstrong, he mentioned the fact that the Blues weren't necessarily in the market to get a goalie. They put themselves in the market to get Ryan Miller. That's a very big difference. They weren't just looking to add any goalie.

In getting Miller, the Blues have positioned themselves as a team to make a run. You now have a goalie in the same conversation as Jonathan Quick or Tuukka Rask or Jonas Hiller. Now you get your own super-elite, world-class player, and there aren't a lot of those players out there.


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Posted On Tuesday, 03.11.2014 / 7:41 PM

By Kevin Weekes -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Weekes on the Web

Young D-men thrust into Bruins-Canadiens rivalry

The Wednesday Night Rivalry doesn't get much more intense than when the Montreal Canadiens face the Boston Bruins. It's one of hockey's greatest rivalries, and this week's game, at Bell Centre (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, RDS, TSN-HABS), will have us talking about an important player who isn't playing.

With the Canadiens, the biggest challenge is getting goaltender Carey Price healthy right now. When can he get back in the net? With Price out, Montreal will turn to either Peter Budaj or Dustin Tokarski against the Bruins.

We might not get the Price-Tuukka Rask matchup we were all hoping for, but there are several great young defensemen I'll be watching in this game.


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Posted On Thursday, 03.06.2014 / 6:48 PM

By Kevin Weekes -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Weekes on the Web

Deadline deals change outlook for some teams

The NHL Trade Deadline started off slowly Wednesday morning. But when the dust settled, a number of big deals were made that could change the shape of the race to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

It's too early to pick winners and losers, but I really like what the Los Angeles Kings did in getting Marian Gaborik from the Columbus Blue Jackets. Even if he's only at 75 percent to 80 percent of what he's capable of doing, it gives them something they don't have. He's a game-breaker and they don't have that.

The big news Wednesday was the trade that sent Martin St. Louis to the New York Rangers and Ryan Callahan to the Tampa Bay Lighting, a deal I think benefits both sides.


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Posted On Wednesday, 03.05.2014 / 1:05 AM

By Kevin Weekes -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Weekes on the Web

Flyers, Capitals each address needs at deadline

With the playoff race in full swing, the Wednesday Night Rivalry game this week features a pivotal Metropolitan Division matchup as the Philadelphia Flyers host the Washington Capitals. Each team has been inconsistent this season, but they’ve also been active at the NHL Trade Deadline, and that could help each team find its stride in these last few weeks of the regular season.

This game is a big one because that division is wide open. As far as the Flyers, there has been a significant improvement in how they defend. They also has haven’t taken as many penalties, and they’re a team that can score with anybody when they are on their game. Obviously, Vincent Lecavalier being back helps. Wayne Simmonds is having a heck of a season, and he and Scott Hartnell are very important players heading into this part of the season and into the playoffs. But I think a lot of it will hinge on goaltender Steve Mason and their commitment to defense.

Mason has had a nice bounce-back season. He had a couple of tough stretches, but all in all I like his season.

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Quote of the Day

There was a lot of talk off the ice. From a player's standpoint, that's not the talk in the room. GMs make decisions, coaches make decisions, but as a team you have to come together and be ready to go, and we are.

— San Jose Sharks forward Tommy Wingels on his team's approach entering training camp