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.
Keep an eye on the Flyers. They're 5-0-2 in their past seven games, including four of those wins by one goal. They've been playing better defensively and getting good goaltending. Carter Hart had won four straight starts before a 2-1 shootout loss against the Washington Capitals on Thursday.
After getting off to a slow start, Claude Giroux has started to turn it around and Jakub Voracek and Sean Couturier continue to do their thing. Travis Konecny has been their best player, leading the team with 19 points (eight goals, 11 assists). Others have been contributing too, like rookie Joel Farabee, with four points (two goals, two assists) in 12 games, and Oskar Lindblom with 14 points (eight goals, six assists) in 18 games.
It took some time, and they had a tough schedule to start the season, but coach Alain Vigneault has the Flyers playing like many thought they would be all season. They've been known to be inconsistent, so let's see how long this lasts.
Video: PHI@BOS: Konecny chips in loose puck
New York Islanders
I know we talked about them last week but they're red hot, going 12-0-1 in their past 13 games. Give a lot of credit to the coaching staff under Barry Trotz and management under general manager Lou Lamoriello, who have changed the culture of the organization.
Mathew Barzal has 16 points (eight goals, eight assists) in 17 games and Anthony Beauvillier has started to come alive, with a two-goal game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday. He's playing well on the second line with Brock Nelson and Josh Bailey.
Their commitment to team defense and being positionally sound without the puck is a big reason for the sustained success. Semyon Varlamov has fit right in, and with Thomas Greiss playing well, the Islanders have one of the better goalie tandems in the League. Right now, they're the best team in the Metropolitan New York area.
Vegas Golden Knights
The Golden Knights are on a bit of a downslide with one win in their past seven games (1-3-3). However, I think they're a better team now than the one that lost to the Washington Capitals in the 2018 Stanley Cup Final. They certainly are deeper, more talented and more balanced, but they haven't looked like themselves during this stretch.
Vegas always has been defined by its work ethic, but the Golden Knights have been getting outworked recently, including allowing five goals in two of their past three games. Their play away from the puck also hasn't been great.
Goalie Malcolm Subban has looked better in his past three games, but in general, Vegas will need to get consistency at the backup position so they don't have to overplay Marc-Andre Fleury. They'd like Fleury to play a maximum of 55 games, but he's already played 16 of their first 20. To keep Fleury fresh for the playoffs, Subban or whomever the backup is will need to be more consistent.
Video: VGK@DET: Subban slides and turns away Fabbri in 1st
McDavid, Draisaitl continue to impress
Leon Draisaitl had five assists for the Edmonton Oilers in a 6-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday and leads the NHL with 41 points (15 goals, 26 assists). Connor McDavid had six points (three goals, three assists) in the game, including his second hat trick this week after he had one against the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday. McDavid is second in the League with 37 points (14 goals, 23 assists).
We saw how well these two played last season, but it's been incredible work by them in the early part of the season. The next highest scorers on the Oilers are James Neal, Zack Kassian and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, each with 15 points. I think both McDavid and Draisaitl each must be in the Hart Trophy conversation right now. They're a big reason Edmonton has played much better this season and has been outstanding on special teams.
Losing Sidney Crosby is a tough blow for the Pittsburgh Penguins. He'll be out until at least the Christmas break after having core muscle surgery. I agree with my colleague Mike Rupp from NHL Network that he and the medical staff felt that Crosby needed to get it done. It's better to do it at this point in the season and allow him to recuperate and heal and get him back in the lineup after that. I think that will be refreshing for Crosby. The entire team will have to step up in his absence. We know the Penguins have dealt with injuries all season, but Crosby's will be magnified.