We may only be two and a half weeks into the season but there are already some numbers that are quite surprising.
We all know about guys like Tomas Vanek and Patrick Marleau are taring up the league and how Alex Ovechkin has really been struggling early on, but here are some players that are kind of under the radar that are having really surprising seasons.
Sam Gagner (EDM) – Gagner had been under the radar for most of his career until he put up 8 points in a game last season. While he ended last season with the second most points he ever put up in a year (47) if you take out his 8 point game he had the lowest point per game average of his career. Gagner has put 10 points season and has gotten a point in every game of the season. What makes it more impressive is the fact that he’s playing two and half to three minutes less than Edmonton’s big three.
Fedor Tyutin (CLS) – Tyutin is coming off a strong defensive season for the worst team in the league. This year Tyutin came in behind Jack Johnson and James Wisniewski on the Blue Jackets depth chart. He has since put up a goal and seven points in 9 games; good enough to lead the blue jackets in points. This is matched with Tyutin’s equally as impressive defensive play. His pairing with fellow countryman Nikita Nikitin has quickly become Columbus’ top pairing and with and injury Wisniewski I expect Tyutin to continue to excel.
Toronto’s Young Guns – Nazem Kadri, Matt Frattin, and Mike Kostka. Kadri and Frattin have been Toronto’s two best forwards this season, putting up 8 and 7 points respectably. Kostka has arguably been Toronto’s best defenseman putting up 4 points, eating up 25+ plus minutes of ice time a game, and forcing Jake Gardiner back down the AHL. Also, keep an eye on Dallas Eakins head coach of the Toronto Marlies. Kadri, Frattin, and Kostka have all spent considerable time on Eakins tutelage and are now some of the top guys on the Maple Leafs. Look for Eakins name to come up when teams go looking for a new head coach.
David Clarkson (NJ) – Clarkson has always been a tough, gritty forward willing to drop the gloves and capable of putting up points. After a breakout season last year Clarkson has followed that up by scoring 5 goals and totaling 9 points in the first 8 games of the season.
Tobias Enstrom (WPG) – Enstrom has been a top tier defenseman for the past few seasons. A small puck moving defenseman who is more than capable in his own zone. Coming off a rough season where he lost a lot of time to injury Enstrom has bounced back in a big way. He currently has 11 points in 8 games and leads all defensemen in scoring
Mike Ribeiro (WAS) – While everyone has seen Washington’s poor start, Backstrom’s lack of goals, and Ovechkin’s lack of points, not many people have notice Mike Ribeiro is off to the best start of his career. While Ribeiro has put up good numbers over the past few seasons his 10 point start to this season is simply amazing, especially considering the bad start for the team and it’s biggest stars.
Tyler Seguin (BOS) – 1 goal and 4 points in 8 games. While Seguin hasn’t played terrible; after being one of the top performers in Europe during the lockout I think we were all expecting a lot more. Boston is still the best team in the east even without getting a lot of production from Seguin, so he doesn’t have a lot of pressure on him to snap out of this funk.
Jonathan Quick (LA) – Quick is coming off a career season. He finished second in Vezina voting and dominated during the playoffs. The long lockout layoff has adversely affected a lot of goaltender’s and Quick who has only 2 Wins, a .897 Save Percentage, and a 2.72 GAA is emblematic of that. Quick is off to a slow start but I think we all expect the reigning Conn Smythe winner to bounce back.
Jerome Iginla (CAL) – Iginla has scored 30 or more goals in each of the last 11 seasons. While that streak would obviously end in the lockout shortened season, Iginla has had a lot of trouble starting the season. Iginla hasn’t scored a goal yet this season. Now, Iginla is a notoriously slow starter and Calgary has played fewer games (6) than any team in the league, but still I think we all expected Iginla to have one goal. We know Iginla is going to bounce back, especially if he gets traded and finds himself on a line with a player like Sidney Crosby or Claude Giroux.
Ilya Kovalchuk (NJ) – If there is any player that could lose a superstar line mate and not see a drop in points it would be Ilya Kovalchuk who saw a revolving door of line mates in Atlanta (some better than others). Kovy came out of the gate on fire scoring 5 points in 4 games, but Kovalchuk hasn’t gotten a single point in the last 4 games which probably has something to do with the Devils slowing down after their hot start.
Loui Eriksson (DAL) – Eriksson has long been considered one of the most underrated players in the league. Probably because he is never talked about in most mainstream conversations about elite players, even though he has had 70+ points in each of the last three seasons. Eriksson, who played a handful of games in Switzerland during the lockout, has come out of the gates really slow. He only has 4 points in 10 games. Dallas has had some trouble getting pucks in the net, scoring 2 or fewer goals in 6 of their 10 games, and that has to have something to do with Eriksson’s lack of production.
Mike Smith (PHO) – Smith came on in a big way towards the end of the season. He finished 4th in Vezina voting and pushed the Coyotes all the way to the Conference Finals. While many argue Smith is simply a system goaltender if that is so then Smith should have continued to excel in Dave Tippett. Smith who has only 2 wins in 6 games (5 when you consider he was injured in the first period of one of those games), an .887 Save percentage, and a 2.67 goals against average. Smith will improve in Tippett’s system, so look for those numbers to improve.
Phil Kessel (TOR) – Phil Kessel leads the league in shots. And has zero goals. Everyone knows Kessel has been struggling, but when you realize he is leading the league in shots and can’t even get a squeaker you start to wonder what is wrong.
Shea Weber (NAS) – Shea Weber has no points. Zero. Zilch. Not a single, damn, point. He is arguably the best defenseman in league and still doesn’t have a point. That’s pretty bad, but hey, at least Nashville wont have paid him $27 million dollars by July 1st…
Nashville’s offense – Weber isn’t the only member of the Predators under performing. No player has more than 4 points. Nashville was able to score tons of goals last season which may have been surprising considering their lack of big names on offense. After losing Andrei Kostitsyn and Ryan Suter the team has had a real problem scoring. Their 14 goals in 8 games is the fewest goals scored by any team this season.
New York Rangers Young Guns – After a great playoff’s everybody was expecting Chris Kreider to contend for the Calder trophy. Anyone who paid attention to his stats in the AHL during the lockout knew that that hype was somewhat unfounded. Kreider has only gotten in 3 games this season between injured and missing some games as a healthy scratch. Carl Hagelin who had a good rookie season and was playing with Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik was expected to take the next step in his development. His 2 points in 8 games more closely mirrors his playoff numbers where he only had 3 points in 17 games away from the Richards/Gaborik line. Maybe these two players were over hyped because they were playing for a good Rangers team, but this lack of production probably has something to do with the Blue Shirts sub .500 start.
Kevin Bieksa and Jason Garrison (VAN) – Two of Vancouver’s top defenseman have combined for two points (one goal each) so far this season. Vancouver has been looking for offensive help all season with both Ryan Kesler and David Booth out and the Sedin twins under performing. With their problems on offense Vancouver needs production from their defensive corp.
There has been some terrible, terrible goaltending –
Miikka Kiprusoff (CAL) has 1 win, a .859 save Percentage, and a 3.42 GAA, Braden Holtby (WAS) has 1 win, a .862 save Percentage, and a 4.52 GAA and has effectively lost his job to Michal Neuvirth, and Jonas Hiller has a .871 save percentage, a 3.54 GAA, and could lose his job to a stellar Viktor Fasth. These goalies need to play better.
Holtby, who played in the AHL during the lockout, doesn’t even have an excuse for his poor play. They need to play better or they will all be out of a PUCKING job.
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