We are quarter of the way through the season, and it’s time to set your Calder watch. Synchronize now.

Some surprises in the top five goal scorers:

  1. Logan Coture of the San Jose Sharks just barely squeaks into the rookie count and leads all rookies with 8 goals.
  2. Jeff Skinner of the Carolina Hurricanes is not only second in the NHL in rookie goal scoring, he’s second on his team to only Eric Staal in both goals and points.
  3. Derek Stepan’s squeaking into number three is the guy who most likely will not be in the top five at the end of the season as three of his six goals for the New York Rangers came in one game.
  4. Behind Stepan are three players tied with five, Tyler Ennis of the Buffalo Sabres who has played 25 games, Edmonton Oiler and first overall pick Taylor Hall has his five in 22, and Michael Grabner of the Islanders has potted 5 in 8 games. Of the three Ennis has the best */-.

For defensemen to keep an eye on:

  • John Carlson of Natick Ma and the Washington Capitals has a solid line of 3-8-11 +8 to go with his 58 blocked shots and 25 hits through 25 games. Most impressively he’s second on the team in TOI/G, trailing only Mike Green.
  • P.K. Subban of the Montreal Canadiens is turning heads for more than the attitude some term cocky. He’s behind only Carlson in rookie defensemen TOI, and fourth in scoring for rookie defensemen.
  • Kevin Shattenkirk of Greenwich, CT, and Boston University has earned his way into the Colorado Avalanche lineup and is second to only John-Michael Liles in points from the blueline for Denver’s home squad.

In goal you’d be almost right in saying the conversation begins and ends with the man between the Philadelphia pipes.

  • Sergie Bobrovsky is the man making people reevaluate the Flyers chances this season, he’s played so much better than veteran Brian Boucher it almost doesn’t bear thinking about. He’s played 1/3 more games than his second nearest competitor for rookies. His 2.19 GAA and .926 S% have him at ten and eight in the league respectively.
  • Possibly more impressive, if for no reason other than the comparative defenses in front of them is Czech Michael Neuvirth. His 2.63 GAA and .912 Sv% are a better pair than any Capitals netminder has finished a season with since Cristibol Huet in 2007-8.

So far this season Ilya Kovalchuk has a line of 4-6-10 -11 and is fourth on his team in scoring. Here’s the current list of rookies with better stats than the $100 Million Man.

  • Jeff Skinner 7-12-19 -4
  • Jordan Eberle 4-11-15 -4
  • Derek Stepan 6-8-14 +1
  • Logan Coture 8-5-13 -5
  • Taylor Hall 6-6-12 -5
  • Tyler Ennis 5-6-11 +2
  • John Carlson 3-8-11 +8
  • Cam Fowler 1-10-11 -8
  • Kevin Shattenkirk 4-6-10 +2
  • Bryan Bickell 4-6-10 +2
  • Jake Dowell 4-6-10 +8
  • Mark Letestu 4-6-10 Even

All stats as of 10pm 11/29 via NHL.com

Can anyone sound more out of touch than Wilson? Clearly this one was an empty net tap in from a foot inside the bluepaint. The answer is no. Wilson has the most hysterical (in all senses of the word) meltdown of a coach in this yet young season.

Can one goalie solidify their position? Well, Thomas allowed just one goal, again. This time to the Washington Capitals who are on pace to be held to two or less goals far more times than last year. The Capitals goal-tending duo was affected by “the flu” (The Black & Gold Flu?) and so it’s probably inconclusive so far.

Well, Bergeron not only failed to gain the score sheet, he had one of the worst faceoff nights of his career with just a 22% win percentage. Blake Wheeler snagged and assist and Matt Hunwick stuck the dagger deep into the chest of the Capitals for his first goal of the season.  Pialle is leading all returning Bruins forwards in time on pine, Stuart and Ference have continued to perform at their normal offensive rate.

Caps defense? Um… not really.  Horton may not have gotten a shot on goal, but he was still +2 with an assist. Sorry GM GM, you still have work to do. So sorry.

Egg would be a gift… the Canucks got tripled up by the Wild with no less than six of the boys from The State of Hockey lighting the lamp. Midway through the game the Sharks are halfway to a loss to a probable lottery team on the tail end of a long, grueling road trip that started about 11 time zones away. The Sharks might pull it out but there’s no reason a roster with Thornton, Heatley, Marleau, Pavelski should ever trail a roster with Eric Staal, and 19 other guys.

Atlantic

New Jersey:

Barring an injury bug that puts fifty percent of the roster on the shelf for six weeks all at once, mass alien abduction, or being forced to play blind folded there’s not really any reason this team shouldn’t win the division and be within a handful of points of the conferences top slot. An offense starring Kovalchuk, Zajak, Rolston, Elias and Arnott should be enough to keep Broduer’s win total climbing, and the defenses job reasonably easy.

New York Rangers:

The Rangers need to do something that isn’t average this year. In goals for and against, even by period they were utterly average. They ranked between eleven and twenty in most offensive and defensive areas, with their penalty kill achieving a high water mark of seventh.  In a division with two teams that have been to the big dance in the last two seasons, and the reinvigorated New Jersey Devils. Probably not a playoff team unless one of the divisions big three has a protracted period of major suckage, but better than some of the teams out west that will sneak in.

Philadelphia:

The Flyers are in a similar position to the Penguins two seasons ago. Working against them is a rumored rift in the locker room between captain Mike Richards and defensive stud Chris Pronger. Worse, from their prospective the two biggest reasons for their failure to raise the Cup were not addressed. Goaltending and conditioning. The Flyers forwards, starting with their captain looked lung a wrung out bar rag by the middle of game five of the Stanley Cup playoffs, by the end of the first period of game six it was nearly a forgone conclusion. All that saved them from going down and out early was the titanic effort of their top four defensemen who played huge minutes and came up huge. While it can be argued the goal position will have been solidified by experience and better health, well, let’s say I’m not a buyer of that particular bill of goods. That said, the Flyers are still deeper on both offense and defense than anyone but the Devils within the Atlantic division,

Pittsburgh:

Last years Penguins had a whole host of issues to keep them down, injuries to their most offensively talented center in Geno Malkin, the Olympic melodrama that had the roster running about in Vancouver to no good for an already thin roster, and the continued feud between Crosby and Ovechkin that took Crosby away from what he’s supposed to be doing; exploiting and developing his wingers offensive capabilities, and left him concentrating on a goal scoring race that hurt the team. On top of that you had a defense mostly made up of mispositioned wingers and of course they started the season with the second worst goalie to hoist the Cup in the past decade or two. Fortunately for Fluery Niemi proved to be notably worse, but was carried by a very, strong team and Fluery can now claim third on that list. Even if they didn’t make much move to bolster the goal scoring on their wings, they did ad Zbynek Michalek to the defense that allowed more goals than all but one team to make the playoffs last year. Michalek alone should double the quality of play in their defensive zone by himself.

New York Islanders:

Oh the poor Isles, this will sound like a slam, but it really isn’t: The Islanders will challenge for the fourth spot in what may be the best division in the NHL this year. Despite the loss of Streit for a long period, the young team spent last year making life miserable for any team that marked a game against Hampstead’s warriors as easy two points. Pop Quiz, what do last years Montreal, New Jersey and Boston squads have in common with last years Islanders? Answer they each scored the same number or less goals. I think the Islanders are two years, and some shrewd free agent signings from being able to make the same sort of noise the Coyotes did last year.

Pacific

Arizona

The Coyotes should win their division this year. They had one less win than the Sharks last year, and are better balanced than the Kings. No major talent losses, and a great mix of youth and veterans. I can’t imagine the team failing to make the playoffs for the second straight year. The biggest impact on their early season will not be how they play in Europe, but that they play in Europe. I won’t be surprised if they have a lukewarm start and steadily grind their way into the playoffs after catching their breath.

San Jose:

What a turn around in playoff performances last year. They showed grit, determination and that Joe Thornton can not be blamed for previous failures to flourish. Pavelski and the rest of supporting cast were fun to watch. Sadly, they will not have a repeated conference win in the regular season without an early reinforcement of their defense and finding a legitimate top tier NHL goalie. I’ll be interested to see what moves they make after the holidays.

Anaheim:

Yee-ha they drafted well! While undeniably more talented than the other team I had the same introduction for, they are clearly a weaker team than the top three in the division. The most interesting stories in Duckville will be the development of Fowler without a clear mentor, and how (if at all), George Parros, some old guys, and a bunch of guys with Ryan in their name can keep the journey to golfing season interesting. Roughly speaking their eastern conference equivalent is probably the New York Rangers.

Los Angeles:

Funny thing about this team their damn good. Sadly no one seems to know this. Kopitar is probably the most under rated forward in the NHL, Dustin Brown is as good as (or better) Jonathan Toews (and I’m a big fan of Captain Toews), and Drew Doughty is the closest thing to this generations Ray Bourque that exists in the NHL, and yet no one seems to know this. I was laughed at when I said before last season started that they would probably make the playoffs. The only thing holding this team down is a left wing that is a touch shaky. Ryan Smyth is solid, but Ponikarovsky has yet to prove himself. Look for sparks to fly when they play Vancouver this year, and for them to play two rounds in the second season.

Dallas:

Fans of the Stars should be cheering the Oilers, Wild, and Blue Jackets at every opportunity. Those teams success this season will allow the Stars a better lottery position and a brighter future. With a defense that could have it’s pairings picked from a hat, and a goalie situation headlined by the oft injured and not quite spectacular Kari Lehtonen this team is not much to write home about even with a reasonably talented young forward cadre.