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Weekes on the Web

Pluses, minuses for Capitals-Flyers, Stars-Kings

Washington, Philadelphia trending in opposite directions; Dallas looks to keep rolling against Kopitar, Los Angeles

by Kevin Weekes @kevinweekes / NHL Network Analyst

Each Wednesday throughout the regular season, Kevin Weekes will be offering his pluses and minuses for the teams competing in the "Wednesday Night Hockey" games on NBCSN in his Weekes on the Web blog.

The Washington Capitals (30-9-5) will look to keep rolling when they visit the Philadelphia Flyers (22-15-6) at Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN).

Then, the Dallas Stars (24-14-4) seek their fifth straight win when they visit the Los Angeles Kings (17-23-4) at Staples Center (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN).

Here's my breakdown of the games:



Pluses: They have been the most consistent team in the League so far this season and coach Todd Reirden is heading to the 2020 Honda NHL All-Star Game, which shows you how good a job he has done; he is deserving of credit for Washington having 30 wins in 44 games.

Goalies Braden Holtby and Ilya Samsonov have played well, so the Capitals don't lose anything in net when Samsonov starts. We know about John Carlson, the best defenseman in the League, and their superstars, forward Alex Ovechkin and center Nicklas Backstrom, have been superstars.

Minuses: Washington is 4-3-0 in their past seven games and was less than a minute from being 3-4-0 if not for scoring twice in the final minute in the third period of a 5-4 overtime win against the San Jose Sharks on Sunday. They are 6-4-0 in their past 10 games, but there really aren't any negatives that stand out.

Video: OTT@WSH: Ovi ties Selanne for 11th all-time in goals



Pluses: Even though they are 0-3-1 in their past four games, they have a high-octane offense led by centers Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier and forwards Jakub Voracek and Travis Konecny. Each has reached the 30-point mark this season.

Goalies Carter Hart and Brian Elliott have formed a nice tandem in Philadelphia. Hart has the edge in starts, 26-17, and has a .905 save percentage. It's clear he's their goalie of the future, but the veteran Elliott has done a nice job as well.

Minuses: Philadelphia has been inconsistent and doesn't defend as intensely as it needs to shift-to-shift and game-to-game. The Flyers have allowed at least five goals in four straight games. That's not the style of game they want to play and it's not what coach Alain Vigneault wants to see out of them, either.



Pluses: Dallas is coming off a huge 4-2 win at the 2020 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on Jan. 1 and followed that up with a 4-1 win against the Detroit Red Wings on Friday for their fourth straight victory. Rick Bowness has done a nice job since taking over as coach for the fired Jim Montgomery and the Stars are playing like the team many picked to win the Stanley Cup.

Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin have been the best goalie tandem in the League; each has a goals-against average under 2.40 and a save percentage above .925. And the defense, with John Klingberg, Miro Heiskanen and Esa Lindell, has stepped up big time.

Minuses: You'd like to see more out of their forward group, other than Tyler Seguin (32 points; 11 goals, 21 assists) and Alexander Radulov (27 points; 12 goals, 15 assists). Roope Hintz has 21 points (14 goals, seven assists), Jamie Benn has 20 (nine goals, 11 assists) and Joe Pavelski has 18 (eight goals, 10 assists). Other than that, there's not much wrong with the Stars right now.

Video: DAL@WPG: Heiskanen tallies after outstanding effort



Pluses: Center Anze Kopitar has 38 points (15 goals, 23 assists) in 44 games this season; last season he finished with 60 points (22 goals, 38 assists), after he was a Hart Trophy finalist in 2017-18 with an NHL career-high 92 points (35 goals, 57 assists). It's good to see him playing like the Kopitar of old.

After a poor start to the season, goalie Jonathan Quick has played much better and is healthy. It's nice to see him keeping the Kings in games again. If they can get the offense going, he could start racking up the wins.

Minuses: Kopitar is the only player on the team with at least 30 points. The next highest-scoring player is defenseman Drew Doughty (26 points; six goals, 20 assists); the next highest-scoring forward is Tyler Toffoli (24 points; 11 goals, 13 assists). Kopitar, center Jeff Carter (12) and Toffoli (11) are the only players on the team with double-digit goals. So it's no surprise the Kings rank 29th in the League in scoring, with 2.54 goals per game.

Special teams has been an issue for Los Angeles; the power play ranks next-to-last in the League (14.9 percent) and 27th on the penalty kill (74.8 percent).

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