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WEEKES ON THE WEB
Posted On Wednesday, 05.14.2014 / 3:00 AM

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

Ducks' Gibson on the verge of NHL stardom

The hockey world was turned on its head this week with the emergence of Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson. At age 20, he is 2-0 with a 1.50 goals-against average and .957 save percentage in his first two Stanley Cup Playoff games. He may have also swung the Western Conference Second Round series against the mighty Los Angeles Kings.

What makes this development so incredible is that most people around Gibson aren't even surprised by what he's done.

This guy is exactly what you're seeing. This is the genuine article, this is what he is as a goalie. He has been that dominant goalie at every level, from the under-17 and under-18 teams with the United States Development Program, right through to Kitchener of the Ontario Hockey League and Norfolk in the American Hockey League. He even led the United States to bronze at the IIHF World Championship last summer.

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Posted On Friday, 05.09.2014 / 3:00 AM

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

Penguins defense, breakout plays are playoff subplots

Game 4 on Wednesday against the Pittsburgh Penguins was a rough one for the New York Rangers, who lost 4-2 and fell behind 3-1 in their best-of-7 Eastern Conference Second Round series.

The Rangers' effort level that night wasn't where it should have been, given the fact that it was a huge game on home ice at Madison Square Garden. I thought the Rangers were pretty listless. They didn't have it, but you've also got to give credit to Pittsburgh's defense, which has suddenly turned into the strongest part of an already-strong team.

That's the best defensive game I've seen the Penguins play in a while, and they did it playing five defensemen after Brooks Orpik was lost to injury.

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.07.2014 / 3:00 AM

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

Quick, Gaborik have Kings thinking Cup again

It's hard to believe that just a few days ago the Los Angeles Kings were trailing the San Jose Sharks 3-0 in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Now they're the hottest team in the NHL, having reeled off six straight wins.

Jonathan Quick has been a big reason why people are comparing this team to the group that won the Stanley Cup in 2012. But the addition of scorer Marian Gaborik gives the Kings a new dimension that makes them especially dangerous.

Quick has been making the stops and Gaborik has been scoring the goals.


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Posted On Friday, 05.02.2014 / 3:00 AM

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

Second-round teams must focus on strengths

Now that we're in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the matchups are that much more intense. Each team will look to find the best strategy to advance to the conference final, but when you get to this point in the postseason it's generally best not to make too many changes.

Start with the Montreal Canadiens. There will be plenty of talk about how they match up against the physical Boston Bruins, but I think they just have to play their game. I spoke to one of their players and he said they can't be goaded into trying to play more physically than they naturally do. They know they're not trying to "win the physical matchup" with the Bruins. Still, they have to be smart and be willing to pay a price.

I thought Montreal did a great job of attacking from the outside and the inside against the Tampa Bay Lightning. They're going to have to do that and change it up. They can't be predictable in how they attack against Boston.

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.30.2014 / 12:00 AM

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

Night of Game 7s is treat for fans

Any Stanley Cup Playoff series that goes the distance is an intense and exhausting experience for both players and fans. One Game 7 is usually enough, but we get to enjoy three of them Wednesday night, when the New York Rangers host the Philadelphia Flyers, the Minnesota Wild visit the Colorado Avalanche and the Los Angeles Kings meet the San Jose Sharks.

Let's start by giving Minnesota and Colorado their due. Each franchise has made major strides. I like the way Minnesota handled the adversity of losing Game 5 in Denver. The Wild came back with the right mindset and attitude. Not only were they playing a speed game, but they also played a very physical game. Most importantly, it was a disciplined brand of physicality they brought in Game 6.

Zach Parise had an amazing game with a four-point night. That's what makes him one of the true stars of the NHL. At the same time, the Avalanche got a nice boost from having Matt Duchene back. Now we're going to see a potentially great Game 7 at Pepsi Center. I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be fast and intense.


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Posted On Friday, 04.25.2014 / 12:00 AM

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

Stars' depth among storylines in first week of playoffs

We're barely a week in, but multiple storylines have developed in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

You can start with the Dallas Stars. They did a great job of defending their home ice against the Anaheim Ducks. They won those two tough games in their own building, and their stars continue to be stars for them. Jamie Benn started the comeback in Game 4. Who wins a neutral-zone faceoff to himself and scores an unassisted goal? Jamie Benn did, and it was super-impressive to me.

In the bigger context, it was all about the support in Game 4. Cody Eakin scored a huge goal for Dallas, Jordie Benn had an assist, Shawn Horcoff had an assist, and Vernon Fiddler scored a big goal. As great as Dallas' stars have been, the depth guys really stepped up in Game 4 to complement Benn and Tyler Seguin, who have been carrying the Stars all season long.

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.23.2014 / 4:30 AM

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

Plenty of surprises in opening week of playoffs

Every year without fail, the Stanley Cup Playoffs kick off and we see plenty of players and teams step up unexpectedly. It's just one of the many reasons the playoffs are so great.

One of the biggest surprises so far has been all the offense coming uncharacteristically from the middle of the ice. You don't typically see that as much in the playoffs. A prime example of that would be what happened with the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks through their first three games. The Kings won the William M. Jennings Trophy for allowing the fewest goals this season, but the Sharks are faster and deeper than they've ever been and have been scoring at will. As great as the Kings typically are defensively with Jonathan Quick, that hasn't been the case so far against the Sharks, who did a great job of exploiting the Kings in scoring 17 goals and winning all three games.

San Jose has gained so many odd-man rushes. They're exploiting a lot of missed coverage on the back door and they're making lots of passes across the width of the rink. I just think they had their way with L.A. The Kings don't look like the Kings yet.

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Posted On Friday, 04.18.2014 / 3:00 AM

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

Plenty of intriguing storylines in first-round series

We're only two days into the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs and there have already been plenty of memorable moments, not to mention plenty of exciting overtime action. In analyzing the first few games of the postseason, I've come away with a few observations and even more questions.

The first thing I noticed, particularly in the first three games Wednesday night, is how there were a lot of opportunities in the middle of the ice, something you don't typically see in playoff hockey. There were a lot of pinches, including a few good pinches in which the D committed to the right play under the thought their forwards would back them up and support them, which in many instances they didn't.

There were other instances where the forwards were challenging the D and making plays offensively. Look at the goals by Lars Eller and Tomas Plekanec for the Montreal Canadiens in their overtime win against the Tampa Bay Lightning. They challenged off the rush and made plays to score.

I don't think all the forwards and defensemen were in sync. Overall, that was a theme for me in all of the games Wednesday.


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Posted On Tuesday, 04.15.2014 / 11:14 PM

NHL.com - Weekes on the Web

Stanley Cup Playoffs full of great first-round matchups

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are finally here. This is what all the fans love and where the excitement is. Whether your team is in or not, as a fan of the game you want to see the best hockey played. This is where legends are made; it's crunch time, baby.

As a former player, there's nothing better than springtime and being in the playoffs and having a chance to compete for Lord Stanley. With all due respect, and I love all the other sports, this is the toughest trophy to win.

There's nothing better, especially with all the fantastic first-round matchups this year. They're truly awesome.

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Posted On Thursday, 04.10.2014 / 10:35 PM

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

Linden hiring was a crucial move for Canucks

Some major changes took place this week out West, with the Vancouver Canucks firing general manager Mike Gillis and hiring former captain Trevor Linden as president of hockey operations. It's a big move that will go a long way toward which direction this team goes in. After being the class of the League for a few years, the Canucks do not intend on taking more steps backward after missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season.

With Gillis, overall I think we knew the time had come. Something was going to happen. I wasn't sure if it was going to be him and coach John Tortorella, him or Tortorella. Who knows? I will say that I think there were some trades that Mike didn't net great returns on. I would also say the development pool is not where it should be. Their best prospect was Cory Schneider, who is gone. They've also done a great job with Christopher Tanev. Other than that, they haven't had great prospects and that has hurt them.

Overall, Gillis did a lot of great things to. Under his watch, Vancouver won the Presidents' trophy in back-to-back seasons and got to Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. The Canucks' style of play mirrored that of the Detroit Red Wings during that time. Puck possession was encouraged, hockey IQ was rewarded. They didn't have the heavy game like the Bruins had, which led to Boston beating them in 2011. But the Stanley Cup year was one of the most dominant teams we've seen in a while.

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Quote of the Day

Great players need great players to play with. That's why we'll have a training camp and we'll find who the best two guys are suited to play with Stamkos.

— Tampa Bay Lightning associate coach Rick Bowness on Steven Stamkos' potential linemates for the 2014-15 season