Friday Four: Blues continuing climb up standings
NHL Network analyst Weekes also discusses Stars, Lightning, Ducksby Kevin Weekes @kevinweekes / NHL Network Analyst
Each Friday throughout the season Kevin Weekes will bring you his Friday Four. He will be blogging about four players, teams, plays, or trends that have caught his eye.
St. Louis Blues
Craig Berube has somehow gotten them back on track. They have won eight straight and are 22-13-2 since he took over as coach on Nov. 19.
Center Ryan O'Reilly has been one of the best offseason acquisitions. He has been consistent offensively and defensively all season, and now we're starting to see that from forward Vladimir Tarasenko, who has six goals in four games. He has nine goals and eight assists during a 10-game point streak.
Of course we can't forget about Jordan Binnington, the 25-year-old rookie goalie who's taken the NHL by storm. He's 11-1-1 with a 1.69 goals-against average, .931 save percentage and three shutouts, and has sparked the turnaround.
Video: STL@ARI: Binnington denies Galchenyuk with the pad
Although they lost 6-0 at the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday and are 1-3-0 following a five-game winning streak, the Stars have what it takes to get to the Stanley Cup Playoffs and make some noise.
The top line of Tyler Seguin, Alexander Radulov and Jamie Benn has carried this team all season. Seguin has 54 points (24 goals, 30 assists) in 57 games, and Radulov has 46 (15 goals, 31 assists) in 47 games. Benn has struggled lately and has 39 points (19 goals, 20 assists) in 56 games, but we all know what he is capable of.
Getting John Klingberg back from injury has been a big boost to the defense, and the Stars have two of the best in the League on the back end with him and rookie Miro Heiskanen. That's helped the goaltending, which has always been a problem in Dallas. Ben Bishop (2.30 GAA) has been out with an upper-body injury but could return Saturday against the Carolina Hurricanes (8 p.m. ET; FS-CR, FS-SW, NHL.TV). Backup Anton Khudobin has been great in his absence and really all season, giving them a nice tandem.
Tampa Bay Lightning
It's hard not to talk about the best team in the League. The Lightning are 6-0-2 in their past eight games and have a 15-point lead in the Atlantic Division and in the race for the Presidents' Trophy. It's clearly Stanley Cup or bust for the Lightning this season.
Forward Nikita Kucherov had 100 points last season and is well on his way to passing that total this season. He had four points Thursday and leads the NHL with 92 (26 goals, 66 assists). He became the first NHL player to reach 90 points in his team's first 58 games since Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin did it in 2009-10, and he's the fastest Lightning player ever to reach 90.
Center Steven Stamkos is quietly having a fine season. He's taken a step back and been more of a setup guy, but still has 69 points (32 goals, 37 assists). He's on pace to top last season's total of 86 points.
And goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy had his 17th shutout with the Lightning, tying the franchise record. Keep in mind, he's only 24.
Video: DAL@TBL: Lightning erupt for four goals in 1st
The coaching change was long overdue, and the Ducks finally made the move on Sunday, firing Randy Carlyle and replacing him with general manager Bob Murray. This was after they had won two of 21 games (2-15-4). They had no offense, no defense, and nothing was working out.
Goalie John Gibson was hurt and placed on injured reserve, paving the way for 26-year-old rookie Kevin Boyle . In his first start, he had a 35-save shutout to end Anaheim's seven-game losing streak in Murray's first game behind the bench. Boyle's debut was out of a Disney movie, and the Ducks are hoping he can help them turn things around. Despite the slump, Anaheim is somehow only six points out of a playoff spot.
Video: VAN@ANA: Boyle shuts out Canucks in first NHL start
Jimmy Howard became the third goalie in Detroit Red Wings history to play in 500 games with the team. He celebrated the milestone by making 40 saves in a 3-2 win against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday.
Joe Thornton of the San Jose Sharks is making history every night. He had an assist in a 5-1 loss to the Capitals on Thursday giving him 1,458 points, passing Teemu Selanne for 15th on the all-time NHL scoring list.
Thomas Greiss has been on a nice run for the New York Islanders and is now the NHL leader in save percentage (.930) among goalies who've played at least 20 games. That's barely ahead of the runner-up on that list, teammate Robin Lehner (.929). They also rank No. 1 and No. 2 in GAA (Lehner 2.08, Greiss 2.20).