The young season's big surprises
With the season merely a month old and polls still open as to which players will exceed expectation (
With shutouts against Vancouver and Edmonton, Thomas became the first Bruins goalie to record back-to-back blankings since
With 12 points in 11 games, the man with the booming shot is already halfway to his total of 20 last season, when he spent much of the schedule trying to ignore the effects of a kneecap he dislocated early in the season. Weber watchers say his four-point game against Columbus on Oct. 18 was his best as a pro.
He won't make Caps' fans forget that Ovechkin guy, but Semin, who spent much of his career as an inconsistent threat, had the best offensive month of anyone in the league. He led the NHL with 16 points, including eight goals, and was a solid plus-7. He also turned up the verbal artillery in a recent interview when he said Penguins' superstar
Much has been asked of the Bruins' top pick from '06 (No. 5 overall) and Kessel is finally delivering in his third season. He seemed to take his playoff benching in Game 1 against Montreal last spring to heart. He played better during that series and he began this season with six goals in his first six games. Kessel is competing more, taking after his dad, Phil Sr., a former CFL quarterback.
After toiling in the obscurity of Columbus, Zherdev has found a home in the bright lights of the Big Apple with 12 points and a plus-9 in 14 games. Once thought of as a below-average defensive forward, he highlighted his signature game of the season last week against Atlanta with a rinklong dash followed by diving sweep check from behind against
With the losses of
Believe it or not, Kuba is now the first defenseman in NHL history to record assists in the first eight games of a season.
The numbers paint a bleak early-season picture for the 35-year-old: (3-5-2; 4.34; .837). Remember, this is a team that many people picked to challenge the Red Wings in the Western Conference finals. After Turco allowed five goals in a recent loss to Boston, he blamed his teammates after the game for poor communication and for trying to block shots instead of clogging the passing lanes.
Despite a solid game on Monday against the Panthers, the 39-year old has gotten off to a terrible start, looking slower than he did in the Detroit and Anaheim systems that could better cover for defensive errors. Schneider's minus-11 rating is the worst in the league and his team's irresponsible forwards aren't helping the $5.6 million man whose 1,200 NHL games are as many as the rest of the Thrashers' defensemen combined.
How can a defenseman who plays on the Red Wings be minus-9? Though he plays fewer than 15 minutes a game, Lebda has been noticeably uncomfortable. The Wings are 8-2-2 in 12 games and Lebda has yet to record a plus outing in any of them. Wings' coach
With six respectable 50-point seasons on his resume, the free agent center was supposed to be the key to a second line that would help the Ducks balance their scoring this season. Instead, Morrison has just one assist and a minus-7 rating in 13 games. The man who never used to get hurt may be feeling the effects of off-season knee surgery.
Maybe the most telling stat about the veteran defenseman isn't his zero points or minus-6 in nine games, but his measly four penalty minutes. That's either a sign of discipline or passivity, and Coyote watchers are sensing the later in what may be yet another season without a playoff berth.
The clutch veteran center has rung the iron so many times this season, he could open his own post office. How many guys bang a shot off both posts in their careers? Drury had two in a week. The new Ranger captain has just two goals (in 43 shots), five points and a minus-5 rating for one of the league's top teams. Before his recent two-goal outing against the rival Islanders, Drury had yet to score in his team's first 11 games. He is getting his chances, but he's been target-impaired over the season's first month.
You have to give any 42-year old credit for surviving the NHL wars, but Roberts has always been a rugged character guy who contributes offensively. His 50-goal days are behind him, but even playing 10 minutes a game on a checking line, he should have gotten on the board by now. Roberts is without a point in Tampa and though coach
Biron was a huge reason for the Flyers' surprise push to the Eastern finals last spring, but he was pulled in his first start -- against the Islanders on Oct. 8 -- and let in more softies and cheap rebounds in October than he did during the last few months of 2007-08. Biron has allowed four goals or more in four of his eight starts. He claims to be seeing the puck better now, but he refused to watch a tape of his performance against the Isles. If only he could rewind the machine to April and May.