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Weekly Primer

Avalanche look to stay hot; Hamonic boosts Islanders

Monday, 01.25.2016 / 9:24 AM / Weekly Primer

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Semyon Varlamov and the Colorado Avalanche are making a push for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Varlamov has allowed one goal in each of his past four games, all victories. He and the Avalanche will go for their fifth straight win when Colorado visits the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center on Tuesday (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN1, SNE, SNO, SNW).

Colorado (26-21-3) enters this week in possession of the first wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference.

"For me, very important when I see the pucks," Varlamov told the Avalanche website. "I think for every goalie that plays in the NHL, it's really hard to find the puck in this League because the forwards, they all try to screen you. They all do a great job in that. So for me and for my defensemen, we talk about that. If the 'D' is shooting from the blue line, I have to see the puck. We've been working a lot on that, and I think the guys are doing a great job."

Blackhawks go for more history, 12th straight win

Monday, 01.18.2016 / 9:00 AM / Weekly Primer

John Kreiser - NHL.com Managing Editor

Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville made history against the Nashville Predators last week. He and his players will try to make some more on Tuesday.

The Blackhawks will try for a team-record 12th consecutive victory when they visit the Predators (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN1, SNO, CSN-CH). Chicago matched the team mark set in 2012-13 by winning its 11th in a row Sunday, defeating the Montreal Canadiens, 5-2.

Last Tuesday, Quenneville earned his 782nd victory, tying Al Arbour for second place on the NHL’s all-time list, when the Blackhawks held off the Predators, 3-2 for their eighth straight win. Chicago has sandwiched two victories against the Canadiens around one against the Toronto Maple Leafs since then, moving Quenneville past Arbour and equaling the longest winning streak in franchise history.

The Blackhawks haven't lost since a 2-1 defeat against the Carolina Hurricanes in their first game after the Christmas break. Chicago was 13 points behind the Central Division-leading Dallas Stars and four points ahead of Nashville after that Dec. 27 loss; the Blackhawks begin this week in first place, three points ahead of Dallas, and 18 points ahead of fifth-place Nashville.

Panthers' team effort key to 12-game winning streak

Monday, 01.11.2016 / 8:58 AM / Weekly Primer

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

More than four weeks have passed since the Florida Panthers skated off with a loss. Twelve games, 12 victories, and a five-point lead atop the Atlantic Division.

The Panthers will go for their 13th consecutive win when they visit the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on Monday (10 p.m. ET; FS-F, SNP). Their streak is tied for the 10th-longest in NHL history and the longest of any team that failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs the previous season, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

"It's all about team," Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said. "Any team in the National Hockey League, they're going to defend their teammates and that's why we're winning some hockey games. We've got a good team. We've got a good group of guys."

Quick has Kings resembling familiar playoff model

Monday, 01.04.2016 / 8:57 AM / Weekly Primer

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

The Los Angeles Kings are rolling four lines and getting sensational goaltending from Jonathan Quick.

They're essentially playing like the Kings we've become accustomed to watching in the spring. Yet we're only a few days into 2016.

The Kings (25-11-2), who sit atop the Pacific Division, go for their sixth straight win when they face the Colorado Avalanche (18-18-3) at Pepsi Center on Monday (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN).

Quick, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2012, has a 1.40 goals-against average, a .954 save percentage and one shutout during the win streak. And they've played this well without forward Jeff Carter, who sustained an upper-body injury Dec. 26. Carter was leading the Kings with 28 points in 34 games.

''We're just a determined team here," Kings defenseman Drew Doughty told The Orange County Register. ''We want to win every single game. We want to be first place in our division and first place in the conference too. It feels good winning. When you come to the rink on a winning streak everything is just so much more fun."

Avalanche forward Jarome Iginla still is pursuing his 600th NHL goal; Monday will provide him his fourth chance to do so. Iginla has two goals in the past 15 games.

Here are other games that should garner plenty of attention:

Panthers ride six-game win streak into Atlantic lead

Monday, 12.28.2015 / 9:30 AM / Weekly Primer

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Ladies and gentlemen, your first-place Florida Panthers.

The Panthers are atop the Atlantic Division following their 3-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday and will go for their seventh straight win when they host the Montreal Canadiens at BB&T Center on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET; RDS, SNE, FS-F). It's the Panthers' longest winning streak in eight years.

Florida, which was in 11th place in the Eastern Conference on Dec. 1, has qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs once since 2000.

"It's no fluke; for a month and a bit now we've been playing really good hockey," said defenseman Aaron Ekblad, who has five goals in his past 10 games. "We're really learning to carry that momentum and play good defensive hockey, which leads to great offensive chances."

Stars set for Central showdown against Blackhawks

Monday, 12.21.2015 / 10:44 AM / Weekly Primer

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Two of the top teams in the NHL go head-to-head prior to the Christmas break when the Chicago Blackhawks visit the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center on Tuesday (8:30 p.m. ET; CSN-CH, FS-SW+).

Dallas (24-7-2) has a six-point lead atop the Central Division and Western Conference, led by forwards Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. Benn (22 goals, 22 assists), who was the League's leading scorer last season, and Seguin (18 goals, 26 assists) have 44 points apiece.

"He's pretty good at hockey," Stars forward Jason Spezza said of Benn. "There's no doubt about it, he's our leader. He's got a great temperature for the room, and he has skills to back it up. He can take over games at certain times. He's grown even since I've gotten here as a leader. He's got all the traits of a great leader."

Next chapter for Penguins starts with Sullivan's debut

Monday, 12.14.2015 / 9:00 AM / Weekly Primer

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

With 15 wins in their first 28 games this season and four teams ahead of them in the Metropolitan Division, the Pittsburgh Penguins relieved Mike Johnston of his coaching duties Saturday.

The next chapter in Penguins history gets underway Monday when Pittsburgh hosts the Washington Capitals at Consol Energy Center (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, SNE, SNO, SNP, CSN-DC, ROOT). Mike Sullivan, who was promoted from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League, will make his debut as Penguins coach. He will use the same line combinations from Pittsburgh's previous game (a 3-2 shootout loss against the Los Angeles Kings on Friday), but Sullivan is open to shaking things up as the week progresses.

Sullivan's first task, though, is to get the Penguins to the level general manager Jim Rutherford obviously believes they're capable of playing.

Blackhawks' Kane can extend streak vs. Predators

Monday, 12.07.2015 / 9:53 AM / Weekly Primer

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Patrick Kane set a Chicago Blackhawks record when he extended his point streak to 22 games in the final minute of a win against the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday.

Kane will go for No. 23 when the Blackhawks host the Nashville Predators at United Center on Tuesday (8:30 p.m. ET; FS-TN, CSN-CH).

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville did everything he could to help Kane extend the streak Sunday; Kane had seven shifts in the final 10 minutes of the game. He had the primary assist when he made a legal hand pass to Artemi Panarin, who scored an empty-net goal with 1:46 remaining.

Kuznetsov carrying Capitals to top spot in division

Monday, 11.30.2015 / 9:13 AM / Weekly Primer

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

The Washington Capitals just finished a stretch that saw them play seven games in 11 days. They won six of them (6-1-0).

Things are rolling for the Capitals, who have won five in a row and have moved into first place in the Metropolitan Division at 17-5-1.

Washington will face a huge test Thursday when it visits the Montreal Canadiens (18-4-3) at Bell Centre (7:30 p.m. ET; CSN-DC, RDS, CITYM).

Nash powers Rangers into Thanksgiving Showdown

Monday, 11.23.2015 / 9:00 AM / Weekly Primer

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

New York Rangers forward Rick Nash hasn't been the dominant power forward he was for much of last season, but his lack of production has flown under the radar thanks to the Rangers' scorching start.

But Nash was on top of his game on Saturday when he scored three goals, including the game-winner, in New York's 5-4 overtime win at the Florida Panthers.

Nash, who scored 42 goals last season, has five goals in 18 games. He'll have a chance to show a national audience that he remains one of the NHL's premier power forwards when the Rangers (15-3-2) face the Boston Bruins (10-8-1) at TD Garden on Friday in the Discover NHL Thanksgiving Showdown (1 p.m. ET; NBC, SN).

"There's no doubt Rick Nash played one of his better games this year," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said after the win Saturday. "Time will tell [whether this was a breakout game]. He had a good game tonight, and we'll see if he can follow it up."

Here are other games that should garner plenty of attention:

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