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WEEKES ON THE WEB
Posted On Thursday, 11.03.2011 / 4:48 PM

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

Weekes: Going to the net is goal scorer's mantra

Let's talk about plays down around the net. If you want to score goals in this League, that's where you need to be. On Tuesday, I think all but three goals were scored from within 10 feet of the net.

Let me start by saying this -- Dino Ciccarelli, Dave Andreychuk, Brendan Shanahan -- I played with them all, and they all can beat a goalie from 30 feet out. But what's most impressive is most of their goals came from within five feet of the net. Tips, rebounds, maybe a nice shot from in tight. When you look at the amount of goals those guys have scored, a lot more can be said for how they scored. It's a great lesson for all hockey players, whether you're a player in the League, you're retired, you're a kid coming up through the ranks or just someone playing in a league for fun -- if you're willing to go to the net, you're going to get your share of goals.
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Posted On Wednesday, 11.02.2011 / 9:40 AM

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

Weekes: Top 5 goalie masks this season

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Posted On Wednesday, 10.26.2011 / 5:41 PM

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

Weekes: Eight 'non-stars' impressing me

In the NHL, the stars get all the attention. But in reality, every successful team in the history of the NHL has been that way because of contributions from players who don't get as much of the spotlight.

When you think of the Red Wings and all of their Stanley Cups, you think of Nicklas Lidstrom, Steve Yzerman, Brendan Shanahan and even Brett Hull. But would they have won those Cups without The Grind Line? Can you even name the members of The Grind Line? Probably not, but without Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby and Joey Kocur and later on, Darren McCarty, those teams wouldn't be the same.

That's what it takes to win in this League -- contributions from surprising sources or from guys who are just playing better than expected.

Here are eight players I've seen this year who impress me not only as someone who played goaltender in this League, but as someone who watches them every night as a broadcaster/analyst:

Sheldon Souray
Defense - DAL
GOALS: 2 | ASST: 4 | PTS: 6
SOG: 21 | +/-: 6
Sheldon Souray, D, Dallas Stars -- Here's a guy who was a reclamation project after being banished in Edmonton. He can still play. People were saying he can't possibly play in the new NHL … that was garbage. Not only does have that big shot everyone knows about, but he's more mobile than people realize. He's really stabilized the Stars' back end. He's totally underrated.

Richard Park, F, Pittsburgh Penguins -- He's always good. He's just a good pro. How did the Islanders let a guy like that go? He's versatile, cheap, a leader and a true pro. The Penguins value him and he's a bargain at $550,000 on a two-way deal. They can play him on the third line, fourth line, power play, penalty kill. He's a very skilled guy and a steal for Ray Shero.

Eric Belanger, C, Edmonton Oilers -- He's been very good and in the same way Park has. He's been terrific on faceoffs, winning 60.3 percent of them. Last season the Oilers won 44.2 percent of their draws, worst in the League. With Belanger in the fold, they've won 50.2 percent. He's also been excellent on the PK. The Oilers are killing 91.4 percent of penalties, fourth in the League, after finishing 29th last year at 77 percent. He's a detailed-oriented, three-zone, high-character player.

Alexander Burmistrov, C, Winnipeg Jets -- He might be the best underrated player in the league. He's the best player on the Jets so far. He has an unbelievable hockey sense, high skill set. He can make plays in traffic or open ice. The kid has no fear. He's still only 20, but here's a guy where if he's on the ice, he jumps off the ice when you're watching.
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Posted On Tuesday, 10.25.2011 / 5:00 PM

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

Weekes' 'Fall Classic' Game

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Posted On Monday, 10.24.2011 / 5:49 PM

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

Weekes 'Fall Classic' Saves

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Posted On Friday, 10.21.2011 / 1:49 PM

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

Weekes: Montreal always is a fun place to visit

When it comes to restaurants, atmosphere and just a great place to be, Montreal was one of my favorite cities to frequent on the road.

If you have time, you have to visit old Montreal. You'll feel like you're in Europe, not North America. That's one of my favorite sites, especially during the day time. Obviously the summer is better than the winter, but if you dress for it, you'll be fine.

As far as restaurants, for me, one of the best steakhouses in the League -- top three -- is La Queue de Cheval. It's unbelievable. Great food, sick atmosphere, cigar lounge, great bar -- all rolled into one. It's not your typical steakhouse. If you go there, ask for the owner -- his name is Peter.
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Posted On Wednesday, 10.19.2011 / 1:19 PM

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

Impossible to question Jagr's work ethic

There's no denying the skill of Jaromir Jagr. But something people either ignore or don't know about is the man's work ethic.

When we were teammates with the Rangers for two seasons, between 2005 and 2007, we also lived in the same building on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. We didn't commute to and from the rink every day (he carpooled a lot with Petr Prucha), but we drove to and from the practice facility in Greenburgh together sometimes. I got to know him pretty well. He's a different guy -- a somewhat spiritual guy -- but his willingness to work was unrivaled.

Going back to his days in Pittsburgh when he was a teenager, Jagr always was the first guy on the ice. It's easy to assume someone with his talent at that young age might be cocky and act as though he has everything figured out, but that wasn't the case then.

During practices with the Rangers, Jagr usually was the last guy to leave the ice. And even after he left the ice, he would just come back on the ice again after taking off his hockey gear and changing into a track suit. He'd spend hours taking shots on me. He'd ask me how his shot looked. If I told him the puck wasn't coming off his stick hot or the right way, he'd stay there and keep working.

A lot of times, even that wouldn't be the end of it.

There are some players who work out at the practice facility for show, but not only was Jagr a guy who stayed late and worked out and did his own thing, there were times he'd take the 45-minute drive back to the practice facility at night when no one was around and work out and practice some more. The guy is a special player.

When it comes to elite athletes in any sport, whether it's Jagr in hockey or Michael Jordan, Larry Bird or Kobe Bryant in basketball, that's the reason why they stay where they are for so long. While Jagr was sneaking workouts in the middle of the night in Westchester County, a guy like Kobe will have a basketball court built in his mansion. Jordan and Bird were renowned for their willingness to stay late and work on their games. Jordan actually was the first guy to build a gym at his home, and he took the time to learn his patented fade-away jumper from Hakeem Olajuwon. Extra effort usually is a theme with great athletes.

That type of player can be infectious for younger players. They see a guy like Jagr busting his tail in practice after winning all his awards and Stanley Cups and they want to do the same thing. There's nothing bad about having a guy like that on your team, even at the age of 39.

Jagr currently is the ninth-leading scorer in NHL history, with 1,603 points. When he left the NHL three years ago to play in Russia, people on the outside might've thought Jagr was at his end after scoring just 71 points. But that had nothing to do with his desire and willingness to put in the extra work. He was all about that. Playing in Russia was something he felt he needed to do. He's a different cat, and some might think he's not team-oriented because he keeps to himself.

But that's absolutely not the case. I'm just glad I didn't have to be the one who drove him from Manhattan to Westchester when he got the itch to work out in the middle of the night.
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Posted On Tuesday, 10.18.2011 / 12:40 AM

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

Projecting Wins

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Posted On Thursday, 10.13.2011 / 4:26 PM

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

Shots from below goal line present conundrum

During the first week of the season, we've seen a lot of goaltenders give up a lot of goals on shots that came from below or near the goal line.

Roberto Luongo had one bank off his skates in the opener against the Penguins on a shot from James Neal. In that same game, Vancouver's Maxim Lapierre beat Marc-Andre Fleury from an even worse angle. During the games in Europe, the Rangers' Ryan Callahan banked one home off of Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick. In his first game as a Capital, Tomas Vokoun allowed two goals from sharp angles against the Tampa Bay Lightning, one to Teddy Purcell and one to Bruno Gervais.

At first blush, it's easy to see these bad goals and say to yourself, "I could've stopped that shot." But when it comes to shots from below the goal line, there's nothing easy about playing them for a goaltender.
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Posted On Monday, 10.10.2011 / 8:00 PM

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

Top eight goalies

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Quote of the Day

He's able to play now, we just want to see other guys. We know what he can do.

— Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper on not rushing Steven Stamkos onto the ice