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We are now 8 days into the new NHL season. We’ve got goals, fights, suspensions (with videos), shutouts, and yes! The first classless act of the season from Mr. Arron Asham (albeit he’s a good guy, and made a great move apologizing instantly). Lets take a look at the 30 National Hockey League teams from this past week of hockey!
Anaheim Ducks: Two goals (and a third in the shootout) through their two games in Europe. Fortunately for the Ducks, they’re 1-1-0. The stars have been invisible so far but tonight’s test against cross-town rival San Jose Sharks will resume their season. Deen Rates Them: C
Boston Bruins: Somebody has really got to find a cure for the always contagious “Stanley Cup Hangover.” Through four games the Bruins have surrendered just four goals against, yet they’re 1-3-0. Their top guns have not skipped a step and Seguin is making an early bid for a breakout season. It won’t be long until the Bruins are back at the top in the East. Deen Rates Them: C-
Buffalo Sabres: The Pegula Sabres took their new summer acquisitions to Europe last week and proved to the league that they are a force to be reckoned with this season. Two games, two wins. Giving up just 3 goals and scoring 4 in each game lead by young centerman Luke Adam who has 4 points. Great start for them. Deen Rates Them: A
Calgary Flames: Winners of one game this season so far, the Flames and their average group of players have had no problem scoring. Lighting the lamp nine times in their first 3 games. However surrendering eleven goals on Kiprusoff and Karlsson is an upset. Jay Bouwmeester needs to find a way to get out of Calgary because that project just isn’t working out. Deen Rates Them: D
Carolina Hurricanes: Fortunately for the Hurricanes, Skinner has yet to show any signs of a sophomore slump. Unfortunately for the Canes, Cam Ward isn’t playing up to par with his usual level. Beating the Bruins is their high point of the season thus far. Their 1-2-1 record has got to improve if they want to see playoff time this year. Deen Rates Them: C
Chicago Blackhawks: You would think Patrick Kane has been a natural center his whole career. Seriously though, Coach Q has done a great job with testing him out as the second line middle-man. Playing with Hossa has provided great success for the Blackhawks. The big guns are scoring, Crawford is playing well, and Chicago is off to a 2-1-0 start. Deen Rates Them: B
Colorado Avalanche: Surprise Surprise! As it stands now, the Capitals hold the 25th and 26th overall picks in the first round. Avalanche sure would like to keep it that way. After the Wings stunned the Avs opening night. The men in Burgundy have returne with three consecutive wins letting in just 6 goals in the first 4 games. Varlamov is playing great, and O’Reilly and Laneskog have provided a deadly duo for the Avs on line 3. Deen Rates Them: A
Columbus Blue Jackets: Things are not going to planned in Ohio. Picking up Carter and J-Wiz were supposed to attract fans and bring in some wins. The Jackets played in front of a crowd fewer then 9,000 on Wednesday, fewest in their history. They’ve scored just 8 goals in 4 games and Wisneiwski has yet to dress up for them as he’s still serving his suspension. Things need to change, or Columbus may get the Atlanta treatment. Deen Rates Them: E
Dallas Stars: Kari Lehtonen is showing the Thrashers (or Jets) that he is the real deal. His outstanding play has given Stars fans (all 5 of them) hope for the season. Goligoski is playing well, and the Stars offense is posting respectable numbers. They’ve started the year at 3-1-0 and have surrendered just nine goals through four games. Deen Rates Them: B+
Detroit Red Wings: Once again, the Wings have come out flying. Just remove their third period meltdown against the Senators, and the Red Wings have played pretty much perfect hockey. The Canucks were no match, and neither were the Avs. Two shutouts so far has hockeytown buzzing. Can the wings continue this great play? Why not! Deen Rates Them: A
Edmonton Oilers: Surprisingly enough, Dubnyk and Khabibulin have provided some insurance for the Oilers early in the season. After Nugent-Hopkins scored his first career goal opening night against the Pens, Edmonton was able to beat the Crosby-less team from the East. However they fell short in the shootout last night against the Wild. But the Oilers are 1-0-1 and have surrendered three goals. Deen Rates Them: B
Florida Panthers: The completely new Panthers team has played just two games so far. One win, one loss. Theodore has played better then usual allowing 4 goals past him. But the rebuilt offense is still working on applying chemistry to their lines as they’ve scored just 4 goals of their own. Deen Rates Them: B-
Los Angeles Kings: My very own predicted Western Conference Champions are now well rested after their two games in Europe early last weekend. This Saturday, the Kings will take on, yep, the Philadelphia Flyers! scoring just 6 times in their first 3 games, Mike Richards and the Kings will be tested against Philly and will look to build on their 1-1-1 record against the undefeated Flyers. The Euro trip may have slowed them down, but it’s time for the Kings to get started. Deen Rates Them: C
Minnesota Wild: The offensive acquisitions have been good. The defense? Not so much. Luckily for the Wild, Backstrom playing in goal is a huge plus. The Wild have been able to walk out with two wins already and have a 2-1-1 record after last nights shootout win. Good for second in the Northwest (ahead of the Canucks). Deen Rates Them: B
Montreal Canadiens: Injuries Injuries Injuries. The Canadiens defense has been completely taken apart by injuries. Campoli, Markov, and Spacek are all out for the Habs so far. Their offense isn’t playing as well as they’ve wanted thus far. Their one win so far has been against the struggling Jets, where they scored 5 of their 6 goals through their first three games. At a record of 1-2-0, the Habs must play better hockey. Deen Rates Them: C-
Nashville Predators: Last season, their points leader was defenseman Shea Weber. Through the first of the season, their leading scorer David Legwand leads the whole NHL in points? Big surprise. The Predators and their solid defensive/goalie core has not missed a step this year. They won their first two games but last night they colapsed against the Coyotes. At 2-1-0, the Preds are chasing the Wings in the Central. Deen Rates Them: B-
New Jersey Devils: What should have happened last year is happening now. Kovalchuk and Parise together are leading the Devils in a great fashion. They are 2-1-0 and have let in just 6 goals at this point. With Zajac still injured, their average offense will only get better with time. Devils fans are looking for a return to the postseason. Which seems a lot more reasonable now. Deen Rates Them: B-
NY Islanders: Al Montoya’s team has shocked the NHL through their first week of the season. They stand at a 2-1-0 record. But the surprise has been surrendering just 4 goals in those three games. This team is finally on the rise. Tavares, Grabner, Moulson, Montoya, and company are working to make sure the Islanders stay in Long Island for many, many years. Deen Rates Them: B+
NY Rangers: Having not played since their Euro trip, the Rangers have been to OT twice, but have lost both games. Standing at a 0-0-2 record, Richards and company are ready for their season to begin on this side of the world. Being well rested, the Rangers will play the Islanders on saturday in what should be a heated affair. However the surprising Islanders will put up a fight. If the Rags are expecting their first win to come this saturday, they need to fire on all cylinders. Deen Rates Them: C
Ottawa Senators. Oh boy... Senators faithful are in for a ride this year. The rebuilding Senators have surprisingly been able to score many goals. But They’ve surrended 21 through 4 games. More then 5 per game. It isn’t gonna get any better for Ottawa as their season goes on. They’ll be in for a firesale this year once again. Deen Rates Them: E
Philadelphia Flyers: The Broadstreet Bully’s are back! Pronger is finally playing at his level, Giroux is a rising star in this league, and Jagr is fitting in greatly. Bryzgalov has been great so far going 3-0 for the Flyers who are undefeated in the East. They will take on the Kings on Saturday in what is expected to be a great game. No Richards, no Carter, no problem. The Flyers are back, and playing to win. Deen Rates Them: A
Phoenix Coyotes: For the first time in a long time, the Coyotes offense is playing great. Doan has 5 points in three games, and they’ve scored 9 goals so far. However, losing Bryzgalov has stunned their defensive game. The Coyotes putting so much pressure on Mike Smith may be a bad idea. They really need to work to make the postseason this season. At 1-1-1, the Yotes have played average hockey at best. Deen Rates Them: C
Pittsburgh Penguins: No Crosby? No problem. Letang has been outstanding. James Neal is scoring in bunches, and Flower is playing solid in goal. The 3-0-2 Penguins have played the most games in the NHL through the first 8 days, and have not shown any signs of slowing down. Crosby’s return will only make this team better. Expect them to remain atop the East all year long. Deen Rates Them: A-
San Jose Sharks: The Sharks have played just one game this past week. Not sure where the schedule went wrong, but that is pretty shocking considering they were not one of the teams who needed to rest after returning from Europe. With Niemi and Niittymakki both injured, Thomas Greiss started their only game and the Sharks won 6-3. Not bad for a third string goalie. Sharks are ready to play and stay atop the West this week. Deen Rates Them: A-
St. Louis Blues: The young team in St. Louis has played good offensively thus far, but Halak is still playing shaky between the pipes. They’re 1-2-0 at this point. Chris Stewart, Patrick Berglund, and Alex Steen have started the season with good numbers. But the newly appointed Captain, David Backes has started off on the wrong foot. They will only get better with time. Deen Rates Them: C-
Tampa Bay Lightning: The surprise from last years playoffs have started off the season in a roller coaster fashion. They scored 5 opening night, but just 1 in their loss to the Bruins. After scoring 5 against the Caps (in a shootout loss), they came back and scored 1 against Montoya last night. They are 1-2-1 and must play better to get back to the playoffs. Deen Rates Them: C-
Toronto Maple Leafs: Everbody knew the Connolly signing was a mistake. He is yet to play, and is injured for a lot longer then expected. But no problem! Matthew Lombardi is back, and playing great. The Leafs are 2-0-0 and James Reimer in net is the next big thing for Toronto. Other then their horrible decision of Franson on the outside looking in, the Leafs haven’t done much wrong so far this year. Deen Rates Them: A
Vancouver Canucks: The Sedins are playing great. Luongo however, is on the decline. The Canucks luckily found a way to twice come out with a point, but they have been shaky at best so far. They need better play from Luongo, and the Kesler return should help as well. Deen Rates Them: D
Washington Capitals: Vokoun hasn’t played like his regular self so far, but the Capitals are still winning! After beating the Penguins last night, the Capitals are 3-0-0. Ovechkin has just one goal, but Chimera has 3. Weird right? Their offense has played great, but the Capitals need to find a way to allow less goals go by their goaltenders. They’re still finding ways to win regardless. Deen Rates Them: A
Winnipeg Jets: Fans are excited, players are excited, but this team just isn’t good enough just yet. With all the travelling they need, and the fact that Jim Slater is their leading scoring so far, the Jets are in for a long season. But its not a problem for their fans. They’re just excited to have their beloved Jets back! Deen Rates Them: D
Thoughts Around the League:
- Anybody else annoyed by this “Don Cherry Debacle?” If this actually turns into a lawsuit, we’ll never hear the end of it.
- Crosby cleared for contact. Quite funny that was announced the day after JR made a fuss about “hearing about Sid everyday with nothing changing.” Hate him or not, Sid needs to play. Hockey isn’t the same without him.
- Vokouns agent said something about a “slap in the face” for Vokoun starting on the bench opening night. Really? Vokound is in his 30’s. This guy needs to do his job and let Vokoun speak for himself.
- Speaking of which, Varlamov is doing great in Denver. He’s proving McPhee wrong and his heart is playing for Lokomotiv. This kid is all business.
- Stamkos and Ovechkin each have scored 1 goal. Perry has 0. Anybody else think we may have another surprise for the Richard this year?
- Congratulations to Kiprusoff for recording his 263rd win as a part of the Flames organization. One more than Mike Vernon as he becomes the winningest goaltender in Flames history.