Friday, November 4, 2011


1) Well after 5 full weeks of the NHL season with most teams having played at least 12 or so games, or 14% of the schedule finished we decided to take a look around the league and see what early surprises there are to be found. Keeping in mind many times these early trends do not hold up throughout the long 82 game slog of an NHL season, but some are interesting nonetheless.

2) First some positive surprises:

  • NHL hockey in Ontario! Yes, folks the place where arguably there is the highest percentage of hockey fans has been a dead spot within the NHL ranks the past few years with the decent of the Senators and the Leafs, well, being the Leafs and perpetually rebuilding. Thus far both teams are performing quite well thank you. The NE division is literally standing on its head with the Bruins (more on them later) sitting on the bottom and the Leafs on top. In Kanata they got off to a very hot start, cooling off a bit lately but enough to get the faithful excited that perhaps this won't be quite as a dreadful of a season as most (including us) anticipated. Jason Spezza is off to a hot start, along with defensemen Eric Karlsson to help the hot beginning. However having Anderson as your starter will eventually catch up with the Sens so we don't expect the resurgence to continue. Meanwhile in TO the Leafs are playing some of the best hockey in the league. Kessell and Lupul are pacing the suddenly potent offense, and Dion Phaneuf turned back the clock to 3+ years ago when he was a dominant force at both sides of the rink. Can they maintain this? Probably not at this level, but certainly we don't expect the Leafs to drop right out of the race, and should hang in there most of the season to keep Ontario hockey relevant again!

  • The Oil is back!?! Much like in Toronto there are signs of (hockey) life in Alberta, well in Edmonton anyway. Accumulating tons of top/lottery picks seems to finally paying off. The kids are alright! (so is the old guy-Smyth) Both Ryans, he and Nugent-Hopkins are pacing the Oilers and Khabibulin looks like the "Bulin Wall" of yore. Meanwile another team out west is surprising. The Stars many thought would struggle when they lost their offensive leader in Richards. However we didn't anticipate that Kari Lehtonen would finally become the goalie he was projected to be when Atlanta drafted him 9 years ago. He has been lights-out magnificent thus far. f he stays healthy and at this level of play even an offensively-challenged team like Dallas has a chance to win nightly

3) Next the negative:

  • Bruins don't have a Cup hangover but a Stanley Cup Coma!! Most expect the B's to get off to a less than stellar start, but this is becoming ridiculous. It hasn't been their goaltending or defense, but their lack of scoring that's been killing the Bruins. Other than 12 year old Tyler Seguin, no player is double digit in points. Do they miss Mark Recchi's leadership this much? We don't think the season is lost, but Julian/Chirelli needs to change something.

  • Detroit can't find the net!? No time to panic yet in Mo-town but after 11 games the Wings have a mere 24 goals, paced by Franzen with 4. No player is yet in double digits in points. Thankfully for them Howard is playing goal at a very high level to at least keep them in most games and allow them to be at .500

4) To reiterate its WAY too early to either get overly excited in Dallas/Toronto/Edmonton, or get depressed in Boston or Detroit. We have upwards of 70 more games left. In each season there are ups and downs. These early results might become 'trends', but most will be forgotten by Christmas and we'll be talking about a new set of teams that are surging or sagging. I the end of the 82 game schedule things have a tendancy to even themselves out

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