Skip to main content
Weekes on the Web

Friday Four: Jets on impressive run

NHL Network's Kevin Weekes also discusses Kings, Blues, play of Coyotes rookie Keller

by Kevin Weekes @KevinWeekes / NHL Network Analyst

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.

 

Winnipeg Jets

The Jets have been a lot of fun to watch in their past 10 games (7-1-2). Connor Hellebuyck is 7-0-1 with a 1.92 goals-against average and .938 save percentage in nine games. He's clearly the guy, even though they signed Steve Mason in the offseason.

One reason has been the fact that they've been more disciplined this season. Winnipeg has taken 50 penalties, which is tied for the seventh-fewest in the NHL, as opposed to 2016-17 when they were tied for fourth-most in the League with 350 penalties.

The Jets are getting offensive production from throughout the roster. Forward Mark Scheifele had a hat trick in a 5-2 win against the Dallas Stars on Thursday. Forward Patrik Laine scored his first goal in five games; he's third on the Jets with five goals although he said he feels he is struggling. Forward Nikolaj Ehlers is tied with Scheifele for the Jets lead with seven goals. If they keep it up, they could return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs after missing them last season

Video: DAL@WPG: Scheifele fires home power-play goal

 

Los Angeles Kings

The Kings are 10-2-1 after their 5-3 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday. Their 21 points in 13 games is tied for the best start in team history, matching their 13-game total to start 1980-81. They have done it in the absence of center Jeff Carter, which they could not have been done last season. Carter, who's out after having surgery to repair a cut on his left leg, led them with 66 points and 32 goals, which was 16.1 percent of their 199. 

Without him, Anze Kopitar (15 points) and Dustin Brown (13 points) have carried the load offensively.

The 2-1 overtime win against the Boston Bruins on Oct. 28 was a big indicator for me on how good this team is. Forward Tyler Toffoli scored on a perfect face-off win by Kopitar with 0.9 seconds remaining in overtime.

General manager Rob Blake, coach John Stevens and the staff, including assistant coach Pierre Turgeon, who was hired as sort of an offensive coordinator, has done a great job. It was a unique role for Turgeon, but we've seen the dividends with the Kings averaging 3.38 goals per game.

Jonathan Quick arguably is the best goalie in the League right now. He's 8-2-1 with a 1.99 goals-against average and .939 save percentage. The Kings have proven they can win close, low-scoring games, but now they've shown they can also win high-scoring games.

 

St. Louis Blues

Despite a 2-0 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday, the Blues have to be one of the surprise teams in the League. They're 10-3-1 despite injuries to forwards Alexander Steen, Robby Fabbri and Patrik Berglund, and defenseman Jay Bouwmeester. Of that group, only Steen has returned to the lineup.

Jake Allen has looked every bit like the No. 1 goaltender that we know he can be. They are balanced between an offensive team and defensive team, which can help them win in different ways. Jaden Schwartz, who is tied for fourth in the NHL with 17 points (eight goals, nine assists), was the NHL's Third Star for October. Vladimir Tarasenko, who was fourth in the League last season with 39 goals, is second on the Blues in goals (six) and points (14).

We all knew Alex Pietrangelo is a defensive-minded defenseman, but for my money he is in the running for the Norris Trophy to start the season, and his 13 points (four goals, nine assists) are tied with the Flyers' Shayne Gostisbehere for the lead among NHL defensemen. Steen coming back to the lineup also has been a help offensively, as has bringing back Scottie Upshall. He's provided great depth at center for them.

 

Clayton Keller

The Arizona Coyotes have one win but Keller, the forward they selected with the No. 7 pick of the 2016 NHL Draft, has become a player to watch. The 19-year-old was named rookie of the month for October and leads all rookies in points (15) and goals (nine). He is their best player right now.

Keller can create chances for himself and teammates as good as anybody in the League right now. He's like the Chicago Blackhawks' Patrick Kane and Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames, players who have a unique knack for generating offence and not relying on centers to do it for them.

Keller wasn't talked about as much as other rookies, like Nico Hischier of the New Jersey Devils and the Flyers' Nolan Patrick, but he's made more impact that almost every rookie thus far.

Video: ARI@DET: Keller's shot caroms in off Howard's stick

 

Honorable mention

Who had the Devils leading the Metropolitan Division at this point? No one. Rookie defenseman Will Butcher has 11 points and rookie forward Jesper Bratt has been fun to watch. Forward Taylor Hall has been starting to find his grove as well with 15 points (three goals, 12 assists).

Goaltender Cory Schneider, who made 37 saves in a 2-0 win against the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday, seems to be back to his old form. The Devils bringing in goaltending coach Rollie Melanson to work with him was a great move.

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy set a team record with nine straight wins. The training wheels are off and he could get upwards of 70 starts if he remains healthy. It's no surprise he is playing the way he is so far and that the Lightning are 10-2-2.

Have to give a shout out to two of my goalie brethren. Semyon Varlamov of the Colorado Avalanche made 57 saves in a 5-3 win against the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday. And Corey Crawford of the Chicago Blackhawks had 35 saves in a 3-0 win against the Flyers on Wednesday. In six home games this season he's 4-2-0 with a 1.33 goals-against average and a .959 save percentage.

View More