Each Friday throughout the season Kevin Weekes will be bringing you his Friday Four. He will be blogging about four players, teams, plays, or trends that have caught his eye.
Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand has quietly taken over the League lead in goals (37) and points (79). He had a goal and two assists against the Edmonton Oilers in a 7-4 loss on Thursday to tie a career-high in goals he set last season. His previous high in points was 61, set last season. Marchand has 12 goals in his past 11 games and has nine multi-goal games (eight since Jan. 7) and 18 multi-point games, including two five-point games. He is tied with Connor McDavid for the points lead. Marchand is a big reason why the Bruins are four points behind the Montreal Canadiens for first place in the Atlantic Division and has to be in the mix for the Hart Trophy as League MVP.
Marchand's teammate, David Pastrnak, hit the 30-goal mark on Wednesday when he scored twice against the Calgary Flames. Pastrnak has an 11-game point streak (six goals, nine assists).
Video: BOS@EDM: Marchand nets Bergeron's smooth feed
The Predators have turned it around with three straight wins, including road wins at the San Jose Sharks and Washington Capitals. Nashville is 7-2-2 in its past 11 games and is two points ahead of the St. Louis Blues for third place in the Central Division. We know how good Filip Forsberg has been, but Victor Arvidsson has been the Predators' most consistent player. He has 25 goals and 26 assists and hasn't had many lulls throughout the season. The defense is playing better. Goalie Pekka Rinne has been Pekka Rinne. The Predators are trending up at the right time.
The Predators trail the Minnesota Wild by 11 points for second place in the Central. The Wild have had a little bit of a dip recently, going 1-5-0 in six games to fall out of first. However, they have a big enough lead that they're not likely to fall into third place, meaning the Wild should have home ice advantage for a first-round playoff matchup.
Their 10-game winning streak ended on Wednesday in a loss to the Boston Bruins, but the Calgary Flames have turned around their season after struggling early. Goalie Brian Elliott was brought over to be the No. 1, but his season couldn't have gotten off to a worse start. But he's won nine straight games and has the Flames competing for second place in the Pacific Division.
The Flames boast two No. 1 lines with Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Micheal Ferland on one unit, and Matthew Tkachuk, Mikael Backlund and Michael Frolik on the other. The fact that they can count on offense from any of those guys is a huge plus. Calgary had an awful season last year after surprising many and making the playoffs in 2014-15, so it's nice to see them back in the mix playing like we know they can.
Video: MTL@CGY: Elliott snags Emelin's slapper in 1st
Although they likely won't make the playoffs, it's fun to watch them. Patrik Laine, a leading contender for the Calder Trophy, continues to dazzle on a nightly basis. Nikolaj Ehlers quietly has had a nice season (22 goals, 34 assists). He hasn't gotten as much attention as Laine, Mark Scheifele or Blake Wheeler but has been just as productive.
And look at what center Bryan Little has done since coming back from a lower-body injury. He had two goals in a 4-2 win against the New York Islanders on Thursday and has 20 goals and 38 points in 48 games. It's his fourth 20-plus-goal season in the past five full NHL seasons.
The Blackhawks got a win Thursday (2-1 against the Ottawa Senators) but the loss of Artem Anisimov is a huge loss. It was announced Wednesday the center will miss 3-4 weeks with an lower-body injury. He's a 200-foot center who plays well on both sides of the puck and does it all for them. He's a really good No. 2 center and has had good production with Kane and Artemi Panarin. I'm interested to see who ends up stepping up in his absence.