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Weekes on the Web

Friday Four: Carlson, Capitals not slowing down

NHL Network's Kevin Weekes also discusses Predators, Canucks, Bruins

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.

 
Washington Capitals

We must start with John Carlson. He's on a historic run so far. Carlson is leading NHL defensemen in scoring and is tied for third in the League with 23 points (seven goals, 16 assists) in 14 games. He was named NHL First Star for October on Friday. Carlson had a nine-game point streak and has points in 12 of 14 games this season, including eight games with at least two points.

The Capitals, who play the Buffalo Sabres at Capital One Arena on Friday (7 p.m. ET; SN, NBCSWA, MSG-B, NHL.TV) are 6-0-1 in their past seven and finished October with an NHL-best 21 points (9-2-3).

Alex Ovechkin has been money and is well on his way to another 50-goal season with 11 goals in 14 games. They have five players who already have double-digits in points: Carlson, Ovechkin (18 points), Nicklas Backstrom (12), T.J. Oshie (11) and Lars Eller (10). Goalie Braden Holtby has played better, and rookie Ilya Samsonov has been great when called upon.

We saw how the Capitals celebrated after the Nationals won the World Series this week. Those guys support each other, and it's more motivation for the Capitals to win the Cup again. They want that feeling of winning rather than the feeling after they lost against the Carolina Hurricanes in double overtime in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season.

Video: WSH@TOR: Carlson picks the corner on Andersen

 

Nashville Predators

The Predators have points in six straight games (4-0-2) and are tied with the Colorado Avalanche for first in the Central Division. 

They're getting production from everyone. Center Nick Bonino had a hot week with a hat trick in a 3-0 win against the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday, then scored the game's first goal in a 6-5 overtime loss to the Calgary Flames on Thursday. Austin Watson, who signed a three-year contract Thursday, had two goals and two assists against the Flames. And they got forward Filip Forsberg back in that game after he missed the previous six with a lower-body injury. He didn't have a point in that game but is a key piece in their offense.

Pekka Rinne was coming off back-to-back shutouts before Thursday and has been one of the best goalies in the League with a 2.19 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage in nine games. Roman Josi (14 points) and Ryan Ellis (13 points) are among the top scoring defensemen in the League and are the top two scorers on the Predators.

Nashville looks like it's coming into its own. My only worry is the penalty kill, which is 25th in the League at 75.0 percent (30-for-40).

 

Vancouver Canucks

What a start for the Canucks. They are 8-3-1 and second in the Pacific Division, two points behind the Edmonton Oilers. All their young players are producing in a big way. Elias Pettersson has 18 points (four goals, 14 assists), Brock Boeser has 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) and captain Bo Horvat has 11 points (six goals, five assists). They finish a three-game road trip against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on Friday (10 p.m. ET; PRIME, SNP, NHL.TV) and the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center on Saturday.

Rookie defenseman Quinn Hughes has been amazing. He has 10 points (one goal, nine assists) and has done it all. He is great in transition and is a playmaker on the ice. When you add him to that talented group of forwards, I think this team can make a push for the playoffs.

Video: VAN@LAK: Pettersson roofs power-play goal from circle

 

Boston Bruins

I think they're the best team in the NHL right now. Their consistency in all phases of the game has been unreal. Goalies Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak have been excellent as has the team defense; Boston is allowing 2.00 goals per game, best in the League. And we know how well the top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak is playing.

There's been no slowdown after having a short offseason. They have points in 11 of 12 games this season (9-1-2) and have been the class of the East. The only issue I can foresee is depth scoring. Charlie Coyle has five points (two goals, three assists), which is the most of any forward not named Marchand, Bergeron or Pastrnak. Lucky for them, their defensemen can score also.

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Keep an eye on Nick Schmaltz and Conor Garland of the Arizona Coyotes (7-4-1). Schmaltz is leading them with 11 points (four goals, seven assists) and Garland is tops with six goals. Each has been impressive, with offseason trade acquisition Phil Kessel (two goals in 12 games) off to a slow start.

Lastly, the Dallas Stars. They had a big come-from-behind win against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday, winning 6-3 after falling behind 3-0. It's been a disappointing start for them (5-8-1), but they've turned it around with four wins in their past five games. The Stars have a big game against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on Friday (9 p.m. ET; ESPN+, ALT, FS-SW, NHL.TV). We'll see what they can do.

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