Winners and Losers from 2nd Week of the 2013 NHL Season
With two weeks played in the 2013 NHL season, we are starting to see which teams are legitimate contenders and which teams will be hoping they win the draft lottery in June.
There are also some pre-season favorites that are really struggling right now, and may be close to hitting the panic button if they don't improve soon.
After this week, most teams will have played 10 games, which is enough of a sample size for general managers to determine which moves need to be made to upgrade their rosters for a playoff run.
Let's look at the best and worst players and teams from last week.
The Montreal Canadiens No. 1 goaltender has been fantastic this season, and is living up to the six-year, $39 million contract he signed in the summer.
Price was 4-0 with a 2.00 GAA and a .919 save percentage last week, and is the primary reason why the Canadiens are just one point behind the Boston Bruins in the Northeast Division standings.
He is capable of carrying the Canadiens to the playoffs, and if Price continues to dominate in net, he will be a top candidate for the Vezina Trophy at the end of the season.
Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo was 2-0-1 last week and allowed just three goals with a .964 save percentage.
Luongo is playing as well as any goaltender in the league, and his impressive performances of late may create more interest in him on the trade market if the Canucks decide to move him before the April 3 trade deadline.
The Canucks have two goaltenders worthy of the starting job, but it's a problem that most head coaches would love to have.
Vanek has been the most consistent player in the NHL this season and has yet to go scoreless in any game thus far.
He has scored eight goals with 11 assists for a league-leading 19 points through eight games. Vanek had his second five-point game of the season against the Boston Bruins on Thursday night, and now has four multi-point games.
The Buffalo Sabres forward is the leading Hart Trophy candidate after two weeks of the new season.
The Carolina Hurricanes captain under performed last season, but he has improved quite a bit through the first eight games of 2013.
Staal has scored six goals with three assists, and also has a plus/minus rating of eight. He racked up six points (two goals, four assists) in three games last week, and his defensive play has also been excellent.
The Hurricanes are just 3-4 this season, but it's encouraging to see Staal playing at a high level because he is the team's most important player.
Tampa Bay Lightning star forward Steven Stamkos led the NHL with 60 goals last season, and he has already scored seven goals with six assists in eight games thus far.
The 22-year-old center scored five goals with three assists in four games last week, and has failed to score a goal in just two of the eight games he's played.
Stamkos is second in the league in scoring with 16 points, and will likely remain in the top three for the entire year, especially since he has so much talent around him in Tampa Bay, and a head coach in Guy Boucher who is willing to give his team a lot of freedom offensively.
The Anaheim Ducks have surprisingly started the season 5-1-1 (fourth-best record in the Western Conference) and are playing like a team that will not fall out of the Pacific Division title race as the year progresses.
Anaheim only played two games last week, but they won both by a combined score of 12-7.
Which team's hot start has the best chance to continue?
The team's offense is firing on all cylinders right now, and it ranks third in goals scored and power play percentage. The Ducks are getting a group effort offensively with eight players already having scored five points or more through seven games. This is the kind of scoring depth that Anaheim lacked last year.
Anaheim needs to defend better and kill penalties more consistently, but the team's start to the season has been impressive, and may help general manager Bob Murray re-sign superstar forwards Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry before they can test free agency in July.
Tampa Bay Lightning
The Tampa Bay Lightning have established themselves as the team to beat in the Southeast Division over the first two weeks of the season.
Tampa Bay is 6-2 to start the season, and its five-point lead in the Southeast is the largest of the six division leaders as of Monday.
The Lightning offense ranks first in goals scored and power-play percentage, but more importantly, the team's defense and goaltending has also been impressive.
The addition of veteran defenseman Matt Carle has proven to be a good offseason signing thus far, and young forwards Benoit Pouliot and Cory Conacher have given the Lightning some much-needed scoring depth. No offense in the NHL scares more coaches than the Lightning's.
Washington Capitals captain Alexander Ovechkin has just four points (two goals, two assists) through nine games, and is doing very little to help his team win games.
The offensive production that Ovechkin has given the Capitals this season is completely unacceptable for someone with immense talent and a $9 million salary.
Not only has Ovechkin failed to score goals on a consistent basis and create scoring opportunities for teammates, he also hasn't played well defensively. He's not back-checking well and his effort on defense has been poor.
Ovechkin has to improve quickly or the Capitals will have no chance to make the playoffs in a very competitive Eastern Conference.
Toronto Maple Leafs star Phil Kessel has 36 shots on goal, which is the second highest total among all forwards, but he has yet to score his first goal of the season.
The Leafs were 2-2 last week and were unable to generate much offense in their two losses to the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins. Kessel had zero points and was a minus-2 in those two defeats combined.
Kessel must be more productive offensively to help Toronto's struggling power play and for the Leafs to defeat the NHL's elite teams.
Jarome Iginla and Mike Cammalleri
One of the main reasons why the Calgary Flames have struggled this season is the lack of offensive production from the team's most talented and highest-paid players.
Jarome Iginla and Mike Cammelleri have combined for just six points in eight games with zero goals scored and a minus-6 rating. These stars are the highest-paid forwards on the team, but have been unable to contribute enough offensively for the Flames to win games.
For the Flames to turn their season around and score enough goals to make up for their defensive woes, Iginla and Cammalleri must play better and start to score consistently.
Superstar defenseman Shea Weber scored 49 points (19 goals, 30 assists) for the Nashville Predators last season, but he has been quite disappointing in 2013 with zero points and a minus-1 rating through eight games.
Since the Predators lost two of their most important offensive players in the offseason (defenseman Ryan Suter and forward Andrei Kostitsyn), and now must replace top-six forward Patric Hornqvist while he's injured, head coach Barry Trotz needs his captain to start scoring as soon as possible.
Nashville ranks last in goals scored and 20th in power play percentage, and Weber has to be more aggressive offensively for any improvement to be made. He's averaged just two shots on goal over the last five games.
The Flames are 1-3-2 and currently sit at the bottom of the Western Conference standings with the worst record in the league. They have been lucky enough to play five home games already this season, but their record at the Scotiabank Saddledome is just 1-2-2.
The biggest problems for Calgary this season are defense and goaltending. The Flames rank 26th in goals against and have the third-worst penalty kill in the NHL. Of the 22 players that have played at least one game for the Flames this year, only two of them (Lee Stempniak and Matt Stajan) have a plus-minus rating of one or better.
Star goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff has also been a major disappointment this season. He's usually a Vezina Trophy candidate, but through six games, he has a 3.42 GAA and a .859 save percentage.
Unless Kiprusoff's performance improves and he plays like an elite goalie, the Flames have zero chance to make the playoffs in 2013.
The Capitals are 2-6-1 and are in last place in the Southeast Division standings. Washington ranks 25th in goals scored and 26th in goals against, so there are some serious concerns for rookie head coach Adam Oates to address.
Oates' team went 2-3 last week, but the goaltending is still a major issue. Braden Holtby and Michal Neuvirth both have a save percentage less than .900 and a GAA higher than 2.95.
Will the Capitals make the playoffs?
General manager George McPhee has to make a trade to give Oates additional bottom-six depth, as well as another defenseman with the ability to kill penalties and add some more toughness to the lineup.
McPhee could also consider making a move for a goaltender, but unless he wants to take on Luongo's massive contract, he doesn't have many quality options.
The Capitals won't make the playoffs unless some major changes to the roster are made because this teams lacks the defensive depth and talent needed to contend in the Eastern Conference.
Nicholas Goss is an NHL Lead Writer at Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter.
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