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Weekes on the Web

Friday Four: Stars, Golden Knights among teams to watch in West

NHL Network analyst Weekes also discusses Bruins, Penguins

by Kevin Weekes @KevinWeekes / NHL Network Analyst

Each Friday throughout the season Kevin Weekes will bring you his Friday Four. The former goalie and current NHL Network analyst will be blogging about four players, teams, plays, or trends that have caught his eye.

 

Dallas Stars

The Stars have had a nice turnaround after a disappointing start. They have won three in a row after losing seven of their first nine games. With the personnel the Stars have, it was a head-scratcher as to why they were struggling to score and play defense. 

But they have allowed one goal in each of their past three games, and goalie Ben Bishop has looked like a Vezina Trophy candidate in his past two wins; he's allowed two goals on 69 shots. 
 
With forwards Corey Perry and Joe Pavelski added up front to a group that includes Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov, and John Klingberg, Esa Lindell and Miro Heiskanen on the back end, it was only a matter of time before the Stars (4-7-1) began to perform better.

Video: Perry, Bishop power Stars to 4-1 win against Flyers

 

Vegas Golden Knights

I think Marc-Andre Fleury is the best goalie in the NHL right now.

He's the perfect blend of technique, talent and athleticism. He plays loose and free but still has some structure to his game. To have him do this at age 34 has been awesome to see. He's 7-2-0 with a 2.04 goals-against average and .937 save percentage and is again carrying the Golden Knights.

Vegas' top-six forwards are as good as any group in the League with Jonathan Marchessault (two goals, four assists), Reilly Smith (seven goals, one assist), and William Karlsson (one goal, eight assists) on the top line, and Max Pacioretty (two goals, eight assists), Paul Stastny (four goals, four assists) and Mark Stone (six goals, eight assists) on the second line. With that much firepower up front, they should have plenty of scoring this season.

Lastly, as important as defenseman Nate Schmidt is to the Golden Knights, they have been able to play well without him, which is something they couldn't do last year. When he was suspended for 20 games last season, they went 8-11-1. But injuries have limited him to one game this season and they're 7-4-0.

 

Boston Bruins

The Bruins have picked up where they left off last season. Heading into their Stanley Cup Final rematch against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NHL.TV), they're 6-1-2 and committed to playing a way that not many teams do on both sides of the puck. 

The Bruins have allowed 19 goals in nine games, while the top line of David Pastrnak (10 goals), Patrice Bergeron (two goals) and Brad Marchand (five goals) has scored 17 of their 26 goals. The one issue is that they do need secondary scoring; none of their other forwards has more than two goals or three points. 

Goalies Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak each has played well. Rask is 4-0-1 with a 1.77 goals-against average and .944 save percentage. Halak is 2-1-1 with a 2.24 GAA and .931 save percentage.

Video: TOR@BOS: Pastrnak goes between his legs for PPG

 

Pittsburgh Penguins

It's amazing how well they had played until losing three in row, especially when you consider they have been without forwards Evgeni Malkin, Alex Galchenyuk, Nick Bjugstad and Bryan Rust.  

Forwards Sidney Crosby (four goals, 10 assists) and Jake Guentzel (six goals, five assists) and defenseman Kris Letang (four goals, six assists) have been leading the charge. But give credit to depth forwards like Sam Lafferty (three goals, two assists), Teddy Blueger (two goals, two assists) and Zach Aston-Reese (two goals, two assists), who have gotten more ice time and proven to be formidable.

The Penguins (6-5-0) have scored seven goals in a game three times this season but have a total of four during their three-game losing streak. With all of the injuries to their forwards, the Penguins may need to rely on their defense and goaltending to end the streak. 

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