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.
1. Dale Weise
Ever since Weise arrived to the Montreal Canadiens, he has improved so much. He is a tremendous skater and has better hands and skills than people recognize. He scored a goal in a 4-1 win against the New York Islanders on Thursday and leads the team in goals with eight, which is one more than Max Pacioretty. Weise has a higher shooting percentage (22.2) than Pacioretty (14.0) as well. For someone who is supposedly a third-line player, that's pretty amazing.
Weise is coming off a career-high 10 goals last season and it's safe to say he could eclipse that. At this rate, he could get between 15 and 20. For a depth player, he's been unbelievable. I think he has flourished, and coach Michel Therrien has a lot of trust in him and is putting him in a position to succeed. But it's a testament to him as a player that he's continued to work on his game and has added a dimension to his game, and it's been really impressive to watch his skill game.
2. Mike Condon
Unbelievable story about a 25-year-old rookie who really came out of nowhere. I've spoken to guys in Montreal's room and they are super confident with Condon in net. That says a lot especially when you have Carey Price, who arguably had the best season for any goalie in franchise history last season. It's pretty incredible. We know Condon is smart -- he's a Princeton guy -- but he's also fun to watch. His posture reminds me of Cristobal Huet when he came to Montreal. But he is bigger than Huet and is a bit more athletic.
Condon has worked so hard for everything he has received. The work he did in the offseason with goalie coach Brian Daccord has proven to be invaluable. In addition, Canadiens goalie coach Stephane Waite said Condon doesn't need a lot of games to be good. He's 5-0-1 with a .941 save percentage. Did anyone think when Price got injured that was going to happen?
3. Anaheim Ducks
Are they back? Goalie Frederik Andersen has been incredible and carried the Ducks even when they weren't winning. He was awesome Wednesday, making 23 saves in a 3-2 shootout win against the Florida Panthers. I spoke to him last week and he said he feels like things were about to turn around for the Ducks.
I'm really impressed by his maturity. He's had nothing but good things to say about his team even when it was struggling in front of him. It's the kind of thing that endears you to your teammates even more. Anyone could be sour about the team not playing well, so that says a lot to me about his character. That's exactly why he is respected so much in that locker room.
Can the Ducks turn the corner? They have three straight home wins. Are they starting to get some momentum? Chris Stewart is starting to heat up, which they need from him in addition to his toughness and physicality. And Corey Perry scored his first goal of the season Wednesday.
4. Dylan Larkin
Larkin is a budding superstar. He's 19-years-old and is a plus-10, which leads the Detroit Red Wings. For a young offensive player, that's pretty good. He's tied for second on the Red Wings in scoring with Gustav Nyquist (nine points each). Henrik Zetterberg is a plus-1 and he's supposed to be a walking Selke Trophy candidate every year.
First of all, let's just start with him tossing the puck to that girl in Boston on Tuesday when the Dallas Stars visited the Boston Bruins
It was like The Beatles. The girls in the crowd love him. Good for him. It was a classy moment. And I like that he does those "Seguin selfies" before the games in Dallas with fans. Then he also goes out and torches the Bruins, his former team, with a hat trick in his return to Boston. You have to give him a lot of credit for that, being able to raise his game in that situation. Not to mention, he's tied for the League lead in points (20) with his teammate, Jamie Benn.