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Weekes on the Web

Pluses, minuses for Capitals-Flyers, Blackhawks-Golden Knights

Washington, Philadelphia out to extend point streaks; Chicago, Vegas aim for consistency

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 (13-2-4) seek to extend their point streak to 13 games when the visit the Philadelphia Flyers (10-5-2) at Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN).

Then, the Chicago Blackhawks (6-7-4) visit the Vegas Golden Knights (9-7-3) at T-Mobile Arena (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN) in the second game of a doubleheader on "Wednesday Night Hockey".

Here's my breakdown of the games:



Pluses: They're getting good production from everybody and are leading the League in goals for (76, 4.0 per game). Washington is the perfect blend of physicality, speed and skill. Their forecheck has allowed them to force a lot of turnovers and they've cashed in.

There hasn't been a slowdown from their stars. John Carlson has 29 points (eight goals, 21 assists), Alex Ovechkin has 23 points (13 goals, 10 assists), Evgeny Kuznetsov has 18 points (eight goals, 10 assists) and Nicklas Backstrom has 15 points (four goals, 11 assists).

Ton Wilson is hands down the best power forward in the game right now. He creates for his teammates and has 16 points (eight goals, eight assists) himself. Add to this the emergence of forward Jakub Vrana who has 17 points (nine goals, eight assists) in 19 games.

Video: WSH@FLA: Wilson nets Carlson's feed for OT winner

Minuses: There's not much going wrong for them as they are 10-0-2 in their past 12 games. Their goalie Braden Holtby is playing better as well. We know, as in years past, it's not the regular season that's been an issue for them but the Stanley Cup Playoffs.



Pluses: They are scoring goals and coming off a huge week, which has included four straight wins, including three after regulation. Those wins came against the Carolina Hurricanes, Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins.

Overall, the goaltending has been good with Carter Hart and Brian Elliott. Hart does have an .893 save percentage but has six wins and has been playing better. And Elliott is a pro's pro who steps in and performs when called upon.

The Flyers are playing an up-tempo game and are fun to watch. I think that they are catching a lot of teams by surprise.

Video: PHI@BOS: Hart stops Pastrnak's bid on penalty shot

Minuses: Although they are giving up the second-fewest shots on goal per game (28.8), they sometimes give up too many quality chances against. The defense needs to be better in order to not allow this to become a trend moving forward.

Defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere had 37 points (nine goals, 28 assists) last season after having 65 (13 goals, 52 assists) the season before. So far through 17 games he only has six points (one goal, five assists) and is a minus-5. The Flyers are going to need more out of him.

Lastly, as has been a problem with them in the past, the Flyers seem to follow winning streaks with losing streaks. When you do that, it's tough to build momentum, so hopefully for their sake that doesn't happen after this winning streak ends.



Pluses: After a slow start, they have been better of late with points in four of five games (3-1-1). Corey Crawford has played well his past few starts, and Robin Lehner made 53 saves in his most recent start, a 5-4 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday. That is a good goalie tandem when healthy.

The Blackhawks have gotten younger, which is good to see. We know how good Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith are and have been, but they can't play forever. Guys like forwards Alex DeBrincat (13 points; five goals, eight assists), Dylan Strome (12 points; three goals, nine assists) and Alexander Nylander (seven points; two goals, five assists), and defenseman Erik Gustafsson (four assists) could make up that new core.

Video: VAN@CHI: DeBrincat nets stellar goal while falling

Minuses: There have been growing pains in Chicago recently as they have failed to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs two straight seasons. They had to reshape the roster after the Cup victories in 2010, 2013 and 2015 which has led to new faces coming in and out of the lineup. They clearly aren't the dominant team they once were, but I still think that they can contend for a playoff spot.

Their special teams haven't been good; the Blackhawks rank 24th on the power play at 14.5 percent and 21st on the penalty kill at 79.3 percent. It's hard to win games in the NHL when you lose the special teams battle consistently. They definitely have the pieces to turn the power play around.


Golden Knights

Pluses: The Golden Knights have two No. 1 lines. Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson and Reilly Smith, and Max Pacioretty, Paul Stastny and Mark Stone. Any time either line is out there, you must feel good about your chances to score.

Despite their record, this team is deeper than the one that made the Stanley Cup Final in its inaugural season in 2017-18. Marc-Andre Fleury has continued to do his thing. He's 9-4-1 with a 2.51 goals-against average and .920 save percentage and has been their rock. 

Video: VGK@CBJ: Fleury denies Jones' wrist shot

Minuses: Vegas is 1-2-3 in its past six games. They haven't dealt with many stretches like this in their first two-plus seasons in the NHL, so let's see how they respond. They have the talent up front and on defense to go on a run and turn this thing around.

The depth behind Fleury in goal hasn't been as good this season. We know what Malcolm Subban can contribute, but he's struggled at 0-2-2 with a 3.22 GAA and .899 save percentage. It will be hard for them to be successful if they rely too much on Fleury.

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