The Week That Was....10/1-10/6
A new Monday feature, for the regular season, where we take a trip around the NHL to see what is going on.
Chicago Blackhawks- If the Blackhawks could stay out of the box, not only would they have 4 points, but Corey Crawford's save % would be outstanding. Nothing to panic about just yet but definitely starting to feel itchy about the special teams.
Colorado Avalanche- Patrick Roy had quite the debut behind the bench. Not only did his team stomp the Ducks 6-1, but he was fined $10K for going after Bruce Boudreau at the end of the game. They followed up their opening night win with a 3-1 victory over Nashville on Friday. They have outscored their opponents 9-2 so far this season. How long before their defense comes back to Earth?
Dallas Stars- Stars dropped their season opener to the Panthers but bounced back with a 2-1 victory of the Capitals on Saturday night. Alex Chiassion has scored half of the Stars' four goals this season. The Stars will need to produce more than two goals a night to compete in the Central.
Minnesota Wild- Two games, two overtime loses at home for the Wild. They blew a 3rd period lead against the Kings on opening night but made a comeback of their own versus the Ducks on Saturday before giving up a goal with just 5 seconds left in OT. Zach Parise has started off the season with two goals in two games. The Wild suffered a blow with Charlie Coyle to miss the next three to four weeks with a sprained knee.
Nashville Predators- Yuck! Pekka Rinne was pulled just 9:45 into the season after giving up three goals to the Blues on their first 6 shots. I have to laugh when I read all the articles that seem to think all their offensive problems will be solved once Viktor Stalberg returns from injury. Um, what?
St. Louis Blues- The Blues look like a juggernaut after beating the Preds 4-2 and the Panthers 7-0 on Saturday. Things will get a bit tougher as their next four games include two against the Hawks and home games versus the Rangers and Sharks. The Blues are looking to take advantage of playing their first five games at home and so far they have done just that.
Winnipeg Jets- The Jets were the only team in the Central to play three games during the opening week of the season. They won at the Oilers, 5-4 on Tuesday and opened up their home schedule with a 5-3 win over the Kings. Just when you thought the Jets could be a contender, this happened on Sunday night.
Anaheim Ducks- The Ducks bounced back rather nicely after losing after that 6-1 beating in Denver on opening night. The Ducks won back to back road games in Minnesota and Winnipeg over the weekend. Anaheim will play their next five games at home before leaving on a eight game road trip. Jakob Silfverberg has made a good first impression in Anaheim with 2 goals and an assist in his first three games with the Ducks after coming over from the Senators in the Bobby Ryan trade.
Calgary Flames- Maybe the Flames aren't the dumpster fire many predicted them to be. They have a least one point in all three of the games to start the season which included road games in Washington and Columbus. But, they blew a 4-1 3rd period lead against the Caps and a 3-1 3rd period lead against the Canucks, so maybe they are exactly what we thought they were going to be.
Edmonton Oilers- New season, same crappy Oilers. Even their new coach Dallas Eakins says their fans should be angry. Edmonton has given up 11 goals in their first two games. Until this team gets a real defense I will not pick them to win anything. They have a ton of great young talent up front but the back end is a hot mess. Talyor Hall is taking a beating as he has started the season off as a -5. Woof!
Los Angeles Kings- LA will have their home opener tonight with the Rangers in town. The Kings split their opening two games with an OT win in Minnesota and a 5-3 loss in Winnipeg. Jeff Carter has started the season off with 2 goals but defenseman Jake Muzzin is the exact opposite as he is a -4 through two games. Dustin Brown still says he is recovering from a hamstring injury that caused him to miss most of training camp.
Phoenix Coyotes- The Coyotes opened the season with a 4-1 win over Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers. They followed it up with laying an egg with a 4-1 loss in San Jose. The Yotes now head east for games at the Islanders, Red Wings, Flyers and Hurricanes. Those first two games are tough but the second half of the trip could make things look a bit better. Radim Vrbata has scored 3 goals and is looking for his contract extension. Mike Smith has made 70 saves so far this season and has a .946 save % to start the year.
San Jose Sharks- The Sharks needed to find some secondary scoring this year to help their 5 on 5 production. They might have found it in 19 year old Tomas Hertl who scored twice on Saturday against the Coyotes. The Sharks got their power play going with 2 goals against the Yotes after going 0 for 8 in the season opening win over the Canucks. The Sharks can be pretty tough if they can get consistent full strength scoring this year.
Vancouver Canucks- The Nucks have 12 goals through their first three games and they are not coming from the usual places. Henrik Sedin does not have any goals yet but he already has 5 assists. The Canucks have enjoyed scoring from up and down their roster including multiple goals from Jason Garrison, Yannik Hansen and Mike Santorelli. New coach John Tortorella even split up the Sedins after falling behind 3-1 to the Flames last night and it worked with each twin picking up the primary assist on the next two Vancouver goals.
Boston Bruins- The Bruins have shown no sign of giving up their Eastern Conference title any time soon. They have started their season off with home wins over Tampa Bay and an impressive 4-1 over the Red Wings. Tuuka Rask is living up to his end of his new contract by only giving up 2 goals on 59 shots to start the year. Young winger Jordan Caron has had a nice start. He had a goal waived off, due to a quick whistle, versus the Bolts but came right back to score one against the Wings. Jarome Iginla has more fights than points after two games.
Buffalo Sabres- The bad news for the Sabres is that they are 0-3. They good news is the Ryan Miller has started off the season looking very good. This is the best case scenario for the Sabres. They need Miller to get close to a return to elite status so they can get maximum value for him at the trade deadline. There is no doubt in my mind he will be dealt, the only question is how much of a return will he rake in for Buffalo.
Detroit Red Wings- A lot of people wanted to crown the Wings Eastern Conference champs after beating the Sabres and Hurricanes to open the season. A trip to Boston put a hold on the banner raising ceremony for now. The Wings are 0 for 8 on the power play to start the season, which could be a concern going forward. The Wings should have success in their new division but it will be interesting to see how the shape up against the likes of the Bruins and Leafs.
Florida Panthers- The Panthers were one of the worst teams in the NHL last year and it doesn't look like much has changed. They opened the season with a nice 4-2 victory in Dallas, in which Tim Thomas came up 27 saves and the Panthers scored three 3rd period goals. Thomas did not fair so well in the 7-0 beat down at the hands of the Blues on Saturday night. He gave up 5 goals on 28 shots before being pulled for Jacob Marskstrom at the end of the 2nd period. Members of the Panthers took in the St. Louis Rams/Jacksonville Jaguars game on Sunday to be reminded that things could be worse; they could be playing for the Jags!
Montreal Canadiens- The Habs made headlines for all the wrong reasons after their 4-3 season opening loss to the Maple Leafs. People were not talking about their play on the ice but rather the ugly fighting incident that saw George Parros being carried off on a stretcher.
The incident led to hundreds of articles to be written about banning fighting in the NHL. Guess what guys? It's not going to happen. The Canadiens bounced back with a 4-1 win over the hapless Flyers on Saturday night.
Ottawa Senators- The Senators have to start the season with a six game road trip. They have 3 points through the first two games. The Sens opened the season with a 1-0 win in Buffalo that saw a great goaltending duel between Miller and Craig Anderson. They went on to blow a 4-2 lead in Toronto and lost to the Leafs 5-4 in a shootout on Saturday night. Anderson looks to be in good shape as he has a .948 save% despite giving up the four goals in Toronto.
Tampa Bay Lightning- We saw the Bolts get dominated for 58 minutes at the United Center on Saturday but they walked out with two points. They must have pissed somebody in the league office off by having the open the season with road games against the two teams from last year's Stanley Cup Final. The Lightning have to feel good about getting a split out of those two games. Especially considering they had no shots on goal in the 1st period on Saturday, something that hasn't happened in a Hawks game since Truman was President!
Toronto Maple Leafs- Watch out hockey world, the Leafs are steamrolling the league with Mason Raymond and Dave Bolland. Yeah, that should last. It will only be a matter of time before Mikhail Grabovski is out producing both of them combined, in fact he almost already is. This week in the wacky world of the Leafs included a trip to the hospital for GM Dave Nonis and saw former Leaf Clarke MacArthur add himself to the list of players who hate Randy Carlyle.
Carolina Hurricanes- Most people thought the Canes were not going to be very good this year, but for the moment they are second place in the tough Metro Division. They took a 2-0 into the 3rd period versus Detroit, on opening night, only to have Henrik Zetterberg tie the game with just 17 seconds to go. Stephen Weiss went on to score the game winning goal in OT. The Canes were able to win their first game of the year with a 2-1 win over the Flyers yesterday. It seems like everyone will get healthy when the Flyers come to town this year! The goaltending tandem of Cam Ward and Anton Khudobin should keep Carolina in a lot of games this season.
Columbus Blue Jackets- The Jackets find themselves 1-1 after their first two games in the Eastern Confernce. They dropped a back and forth game to Flames at home, but rebounded with a nice come from behind win at the Islanders. As of now, Columbus owns the second best power play in the league, by percentage, converting on two of their first five chances. Good news for Lumbus fans is that reigning Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky bounced back with a nice game in Long Island after looking a bit shaky in the 3rd period versus the Flames.
New Jersey Devils- Cory Schneider made headlines when he got the opening night start against Pittsburgh instead of Martin Brodeur. The Devils went out and got blanked by the Penguins 3-0. Damien Brunner scored twice in the 4-3 SO loss to the Islanders on Friday night. The Devils are embarking on a five game road trip that includes games this week in Edmonton, Vancouver, Calgary and Winnipeg. The Schneider/Brodeur playing time situation will be interesting to watch as the season goes on.
New York Islanders- The Islanders got a jump on the rest of the league in the shootout category as both of their games have gone to the skills competition so far. Former Calder Trophy finalist Michael Grabner is off to a nice start with 2 goals and an assist. Goaltender Evgeni Nabokov is off to decent start with a .914 save %. If the Islanders can get that from him all season long, their path back to the playoffs will be a lot less bumpy. We will see the Islanders at the United Center on Friday night.
New York Rangers- Thanks to another round of renovations at Madison Square Garden, the Rangers are forced to play their first 9 games of the season on the road. That really puts a team trying to gel under a new coach in a tight spot. The Blue Shirts dropped their one and only game of the season so far, a 4-1 lose at the Coyotes. The game was tied until Radim Vrbata unleashed his fifth career hat trick on the Rangers. New York should get a spark when captain Ryan Callahan returns to he lineup tonight in Los Angeles.
Philadelphia Flyers- Paul Holmgren and the Flyers are the gift that keeps on giving to hockey writers and bloggers. Not only do they keep making terrible decisions with their roster but today they fired coach Peter Laviolette after just three games. Don't feel too sorry for Laviolette it won't take him long to find a new gig and plus there is this:
Pittsburgh Penguins- Everyone in Pittsburgh is thrilled that Marc-Andre Fleury has looked really good in the first two games of the season. He has given up just one goal on 48 shots. Granted, these two games were against the offensively challenged Devils and Sabres. Let's see if Pittsburgh still has love for MAF come April when the games are a wee bit more important. Chuck Kobasew and Craig Adams are tied with Sidney Crosby for the team lead in goals. In all my years on this planet, I never thought I would ever type that last sentence.
Washington Capitals- Whatever you do, do not take any penalties against the Caps this season because they will kill you. The Caps went 3 for 6 on the power play in Chicago last Tuesday. They followed up that performance by going 2 for 3 on Thursday versus the Flames and 1 for 3 Saturday in Dallas. The problem is they only have three 5 on 5 goals. Couple that with Braden Holtby's 4.48 GAA to start the year and that is why the Caps are only 1-2 on the young season.