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Friday Four: Filip Forsberg has month to remember

NHL Network's Kevin Weekes also discusses Sabres, Blackhawks, trade deadline

by Kevin Weekes @kevinweekes / NHL Network Analyst

Each Friday throughout the season, Kevin Weekes will be bringing you his Friday Four. He will be blogging about four players, teams, plays, or trends that have caught his eye.

 

Filip Forsberg

Forsberg was named the NHL's second star of the month in February and for good reason. The Nashville Predators forward had back-to-back hat tricks and four three-point games in a five-game stretch to finish the month with 17 points (11 goals, six assists). He's assertive with the puck, attacking the middle, challenging the 'D,' and attacking the goal line in front of the net. Forsberg is doing all the things he can and needs to and should be doing for someone who is as good a player and finisher as he is.

Forsberg is a big reason why the Predators are 5-1-1 in their past seven games and have kept hold on third place in the Central Division. They've also played great at home (19-7-7) and as the season has gone on, have played a more complete game, which will be important if they make the Stanley Cup Playoffs. We'll have to keep an eye on the injury to Ryan Ellis. He's one of the keys to their team and they do have depth on defense, but missing him for an extended period of time wouldn't be good.

Video: The NHL Tonight crew on Filip Forsberg's hot streak

 

Buffalo Sabres

Forwards Evander Kane and Jack Eichel have been awesome. Great to watch, fun to watch, good chemistry. I know there were some teams that were interested in Kane but the way that he is playing now, if he could continue to play this way, the only person that can limit what he can be as a player is himself. He has a lot of tools and with Eichel, he doesn't have to over-handle the puck as evidenced by his goal in a 6-3 win against the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday. Since December, he has the most even-strength goals in the League (22), and Eichel has come back very well from his ankle injury very well. The Sabres obviously have been a different team with him.

Forwards Brian Gionta and Sam Reinhart have played well also, but the play of the Sabres goaltenders has made a big difference. Robin Lehner has made major strides for me this season and has shown he can be the No. 1 goalie for them. And Anders Nilsson has performed well when he's had the chance, also.

 

Chicago Blackhawks

Their top line with Artemi Panarin, Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane has been incredible. But Jonathan Toews has been unstoppable recently, scoring clutch goals, making clutch plays and doing so many things offensively that he hasn't always done in the past. Toews is up to 46 points (16 goals, 30 assists) in 54 games and has nine points (four goals, five assists) in four games, including a hat trick and five-point game against the Minnesota Wild on Feb. 21.

Chicago enters play Friday with five straight wins, is 10-1-0 in its past 11 games and is three points behind the Wild for the top spot in the Central Division and Western Conference. The Blackhawks are once again clicking at the right time heading into the final five weeks of the season.

Video: PIT@CHI: Kane records second hat trick in a week

 

NHL Trade Deadline

It was an interesting day with not as many trades going down as we may have been expecting. But I was really impressed with what the Tampa Bay Lightning were able to do by clearing out cap space; there will be some guys that need new contracts soon. General manager Steve Yzerman traded goalie Ben Bishop, which wasn't easy, but this gives Andrei Vasilevskiy a chance to shine.

The fact the Washington Capitals were able to get defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk shows they're all in. They didn't have to do much at the deadline, but made one of the biggest splashes and acquired one of the biggest names out there. Shattenkirk should provide a boost to the 'D' as well as on the power play.

 

HONORABLE MENTION

- The Dallas Stars may be out of the Stanley Cup Playoff picture but forward Jamie Benn has looked like an MVP. He had two goals in a 5-4 loss to the New York Islanders on Thursday and has seven points (four goals, three assists) in a five-game point streak. With 60 points (23 goals, 37 assists), he's quietly among the NHL scoring leaders.

- Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick has been outstanding in his return to action. He's 2-0-1 in three starts since he came back from a groin injury sustained in the first game of the season. He made 29 saves, including four in overtime (all in spectacular fashion), in a 3-2 shootout win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday.

Acquiring Ben Bishop will help limit Quick's work down the stretch, and if the Kings make the playoffs, Los Angeles will have a nice tandem in net. We can't forget the contributions Peter Budaj, traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Bishop, made for Los Angeles. He will get Vezina votes for sure. And the Kings also traded for forward Jarome Iginla, who could help them in the scoring department. I heard he's going to be used on the power play when possible, and we know how good his one-timer can be.

Video: Weekes picks his pluses and minuses for the season

- Mario Lemieux, Paul Coffey and Bryan Trottier were some of the NHL legends on hand at the 2017 Coors Light Stadium Series game at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh on Saturday. I asked Lemieux about rookie forwards Patrik Laine of the Winnipeg Jets and Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and he couldn't have been any more complimentary about those guys. When Lemieux raves about you, you know you're pretty good.

- What a scene it was in Montreal on Thursday for the return of defenseman P.K. Subban to the Bell Centre. He assisted on the Predators goal in a 2-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens but was welcomed back with a nice tribute and even teared up during it. He had a great game with five blocks and five hits in almost 25 minutes.

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