Bruins, Blackhawks, Devils and Sharks Remain UnbeatenBy Marc U.
While just two teams have played more than six games total, the three hottest teams are clearly the Boston Bruins who are 5-0-1, the Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks who are both 6-0. The Blackhawks were scheduled to play Minnesota last evening which is no easy task in their effort to remain unbeaten so this story could be a bit skewed.
San Jose, New Jersey and Boston are all at home tonight.
In the case of Boston, they’ve been the beneficiary of a very nice opening schedule in which they’ve played four of their first six in Beantown and have gone 4-0 in those games. It’s absolutely no secret where this team is getting it done and that’s on defense. The Bruins rank number one in the league on the penalty kill and are fourth in goals against where they surrender just two goals a game.
For the Devils who lost to the Bruins in a shootout this week, there formula for success is on the same page as Boston’s. New Jersey ranks fourth on the penalty kill and first in goals against where they give up about 1.6 goals per game. The amazing Martin Brodeur is 3-0-1 with a save percentage of .932 and he has a shutout to his credit as well.
The San Jose Sharks are getting it done with a nice mix of both offense and defense. While their penalty kill is 12th, their goals against average is 1.7 which is good for second in the NHL. Flip ends of the ice and you’ll see the Sharks rank second in goals per game and second in power play percentage as well. Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton are tied with 14 points apiece.
In Chicago, the Blackhawks are the epitome of ‘hockey balance’ right now at both ends of the rink. They are second on the penalty kill, sixth in goals against, fourth in goals per game and ninth on the power play. Top ten in all four categories is pretty darn good. Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa have led an expected offensive attack but the defense and goaltending which was thought to be an issue, has not been.
With a 48-game schedule, these four teams have done exactly what every team in the NHL wanted to do and that’s get out of the gate quickly. There isn’t much time to make runs late in the season so getting off well should serve these teams well as the season progresses in what will seem like no time at all.
Around the Rinks… Never to early to think playoffs and what a terrific matchup we’d have in the East right now with one seed Boston playing 8th seed New York Rangers… The defending champion Kings have righted the ship by winning two-straight to get back to .500… The Florida Panthers, who have the fewest points in the NHL with 2, have a goal differential of -14. Ouch… Your goaltending stud of the week is Craig Anderson of Ottawa who has a GAA of .098.
Games to Watch this Week
Buffalo at Boston – The Sabres have lost four-straight and cannot afford to fall further out of the picture in the East where they are just a point out of eighth, but share that position with four or five other teams. Boston is just clearly better and will move to 5-0 at home.
Edmonton at San Jose – The Oilers travel south to try and give the Sharks their first loss of the season. Edmonton currently sits in seventh right now out west and will contend all season but this Sharks team is just hot offensively right now.
NY Islanders at New Jersey – The Isles and Devils reside in 6th and 3rd in the East respectively but are separated by just a point. New York has been really good on the penalty kill and is scoring over four goals a game. I like a little upset here in Jersey.