1. Washington Capitals… LW: 1
Alex Ovechkin is starting to heat up, as he has tallied seven points in the last five games. In other news, the team came up empty-handed in Edmonton and Vancouver. 2. Pittsburgh Penguins… LW: 3
James Neal went on an absolute tear in October, scoring nine goals in 13 games. Will he be able to keep it up in November? 3. San Jose Sharks… LW: 7
San Jose is gaining steam. A player that has been quietly racking up points this year is Joe Pavelski. He leads the team with 11 points, nine of which have come on his current five-game point streak.
Just like last season, the Tampa Bay Lightning have a healthy offense. While Marc-Andre Bergeron may lead the team in scoring, forwards Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis are scoring at nearly a point-per-game rate while the rest of the supporting cast is chipping in adequately. Their 33 markers on the season is only behind the Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers which puts their output in the elite ranks under the fiery Guy Boucher.
However, just like last season, their struggles remain between the pipes where Mathieu Garon and Dwayne Roloson have allowed 33 goals through the first 11 games.
Once again, Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo is facing a lot of criticism. His backup, Cory Schneider, could start for numerous NHL teams. Sooner or later, the Canucks will have to decide between one or the other. Should they decide to keep Luongo or Schneider in the future? Patrick and I debate…
At the end of last season, it looked like Dallas got the better of their mid-season trade with Pittsburgh. Alex Goligoski was a perfect fit with the Stars, while James Neal really struggled after his move to the Steel City. However, when you look at the trade now, Pittsburgh could have gotten the upper hand.
It is truly remarkable how a Stanley Cup championship can change the perception of a franchise. What were once feelings of jubilation, excitement and genuine surprise of Blackhawks fans new and old after winning the cup have worn off. But what has replaced those emotions going into this season is something a bit more serious.
In light of Chris Pronger’s scary eye injury on Monday, the debate surrounding visors has resurfaced. Will the NHL make visors mandatory for its players? Or should the league continue to let it be the player’s choice? Eventually, it will probably be the former.
When San Jose GM Doug Wilson acquired Martin Havlat and Brent Burns this summer, everyone around the league knew he meant serious business when it came to winning – and winning now. Will the moves pay off? The Sharks sure hope so.
It certainly has been an interesting start to the NHL season, eh? The league still has a winless team, an unbeaten team and has also had some weird injuries. Basically put, just another season in the National Hockey League.
In this week's "Week Ahead", we will take a look at three netminders who have struggled out of the gate, two teams that continue to play winning hockey, the three stars of this past week, a preview of the league's best game to watch this week as well as other games to keep an eye on.
1. Washington Capitals… LW: 1
The unbeaten Caps proved on Thursday and Saturday, via decisive victories over Philly and Detroit, that they are currently the NHL’s best. 2. Detroit Red Wings… LW: 2
Only one other Western Conference team (San Jose) has played as few games as the Wings. Still, Mike Babcock’s crew is off to a nice start. 3. Pittsburgh Penguins… LW: 4
No Crosby and Malkin? No problem. Pittsburgh has won three straight games, beating their opponents 11-4 in the streak.
On Saturday night, the Vancouver Canucks and Florida Panthers swung a blockbuster trade with David Booth, Steve Reinprecht and a third round draft pick in 2013 heading to Western Canada in exchange for forwards Mikael Samuelsson and Marco Sturm. Will Booth be a difference maker in Vancouver?
Has there ever been a more bizarre situation in hockey than the conflicted identity of the Winnipeg Jets? The collision of historical perspectives is still sorting itself out as Manitobans understandable nostalgia for another era clashes head-on with the actual facts of the current situation. The two valid perspectives are on display just two weeks into the new Jets inaugural season.
We have all witnessed the amazing start by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first two weeks of the season, as they have quickly become the media darlings again. But last night against the Boston Bruins there was a rude wake up call for Leaf Nation, as they were picked apart by the defending champions in a 6-2 loss one night after a shootout win against Winnipeg.
RLD 3 stars of the night:
1. Alex Ovechkin, WSH (2 goals)
2. Jonathan Quick, LA (28 saves, shutout)
3. Ryan Miller, BUF (22 saves, shutout)
Sharks @ Devils, 7:00 ET
Blue Jackets @ Red Wings, 7:30
Hurricanes @ Blues, 8:00
Stars @ Ducks, 10:00
Game of the night: Dallas Stars (5-1-0) @ Anaheim Ducks (4-1-0)
10:00 ET… TV: NHL Network (CA), Local Networks
Players to watch: DAL- Sheldon Souray
The 35-year-old defenseman is off to a great start with the upstart Stars (5 points, +6 rating in 6 games) ANA- Teemu Selanne
Selanne was a thorn in Dallas’ side last year down the stretch and is coming off a two-goal performance in San Jose.
Starting goaltenders: DAL- Kari Lehtonen (2011-12 stats: 5-0-0, 1.58 GAA) ANA- Jonas Hiller (2011-12 stats: 3-1-0, 1.71 GAA)
Injury report: DAL- None ANA- Jason Blake (wrist, out), Matt Smaby (thumb, out)
This certainly stacks up to be an intriguing intra-division matchup. Dallas has won four in a row, five of six overall, and are proving a lot of the doubters wrong in the early going. Meanwhile, Anaheim has been winning games via stellar goaltending, not necessarily goal-scoring. These two played a lot of close (and important) games last year, so I expect this to be a good one as well. And because of that, it feels like a toss-up. Go with the Ducks at home. Prediction: Ducks 3, Stars 2
The rest of today’s predictions:
Sharks over Devils
Red Wings over Blue Jackets
Blues over Hurricanes
Video of the day:
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In most preseason predictions, the Dallas Stars were a team that pundits overlooked. Through the team’s first six games, Jamie Benn and company have proved those doubters wrong with a great start to the 2011-12 campaign. Will they be able to keep this up?
Ask any hockey fan and they will likely tell you that goaltender is the most important position of the sport -- if not, in all of sports. I agree. Let’s dive right into the discussion on who will strive this year between the paint.
Here's something you don't get to see every day. In Monday's Maple Leafs-Jets game, Toronto forward Joffrey Lupul scored to tie the game at 1-1. In the process, he broke the camera inside the net -- something you'd think would be common, but it isn't.
With several teams already returning 2011 draft picks back to juniors, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is making it difficult for Edmonton management to think about sending him back to Red Deer of the WHL. With five points in five NHL games (including one hat trick), Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini is in the unenviable position of deciding whether or not Nugent-Hopkins will remain with the team for the rest of the season.
General Manager Scott Howson spent a lot of money this summer to put a winning product on the ice in Columbus. To no surprise, expectations were high before the season commenced. But through six games, the Blue Jackets are winless. Once they do get a victory, they’ll be the last team in the NHL to do so. Is it time to locate the panic button in Ohio’s capital?
Well, we have now wrapped up a week and half in the NHL, and based on the way it went, it is easy to see that many different trends are going to arise throughout each week of the season. In this week's installment of "The Week Ahead", we will look at three youngsters who are off to terrific starts, two teams that are really struggling out of the gate and, as always, games to check out throughout the week.
1. Washington Capitals… LW: 1
Crazy mid-October stat: Jason Chimera, Dennis Wideman and Marcus Johansson each have more goals than Alex Ovechkin. 2. Detroit Red Wings… LW: 5
Jimmy Howard has been strong for the unbeaten Red Wings, posting a 3-0 record and 1.63 GAA, along with a shutout. 3. Philadelphia Flyers… LW: 7
Captain Chris Pronger has five points in four games and is averaging over 24 minutes a night. What back injury?
When Ilya Bryzgalov left Phoenix for greener pastures this summer, there was a big void for the Coyotes to fill between the pipes. In one of the more nationally criticized moves of the off-season, the Coyotes turned to veteran free agent Mike Smith to be their starter. After being a backup in Dallas and Tampa Bay, Smith is out to prove he can be a true number one goaltender in the NHL.
On Thursday morning, the Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby stepped onto the ice wearing something different. Actually, not different, more like the same. Crosby was wearing the same helmet as the rest of his teammates indicating he was cleared for contact.
No matter how talented you are at your craft, some jobs in the NHL are tougher than others simply due to their surroundings. Is being a goalie in Montreal the toughest job for an individual in the NHL? What about being the bench boss for the Leafs? Patrick and I debate…
This fight between Pittsburgh's Arron Asham and Washington's Jay Beagle overshadowed a good hockey game in the Steel City on Thursday. It has caused quite a stir throughout the hockey world due to Asham's actions following his knock out of Beagle (Asham owned up to it after the game, calling it "classless") which were regrettable and gave hockey another black eye in the sports world.
As writers or fans after the first week of the NHL season, we want to make some snap judgments about teams going forward. As if a game or two will determine the course of the season. A few strong performances and you are being anointed as a guaranteed contender for this year's Cup; a few losses and you are doomed.
It has only been one week and no team has played more than four games. With that said, storylines are flourishing as the season begins.
Our podcast 'RLD Hockey Talk' is LIVE every Wednesday afternoon at 1:00 ET/Noon CT. Some of our notable guests in past episodes have been Dustin Brown, Doc Emrick, John Buccigross, Dave Strader, E.J. Hradek, Elliotte Friedman and Jay Grossman.