Best Highlights from the 2013-14 NHL Season so Far

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistOctober 12, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 10:  Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals skates with the puck during the second period of an NHL game against the Carolina Hurricanes at Verizon Center on October 10, 2013 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The season is in just its second week, but it may be a long time before any NHL player tops what Tomas Hertl did against the New York Rangers on Oct. 9.

The San Jose rookie asserted himself with a four-goal game against the Rangers, but that heavy volume of scoring was just part of the story.

His fourth goal of the game dropped jaws in the United States and Canada. With the Sharks in a dominant position and with a big lead in the third period, Hertl broke in down the left side and came in alone on relief goaltender Martin Biron.

Hertl put the puck in the net with this spectacular move.

The move may not be topped all season. However, on the same night, Eric Staal of the Carolina Hurricane scored on a diving deflection against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Justin Faulk fired a shot from the right point, and Staal was in the offensive zone—basically in the same area code that the shot was going. He knew he couldn't reach it by skating, so he dove in an attempt to make contact with the puck.

His stick blade sent the puck into the Pittsburgh net high over the shoulder of Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. Staal demonstrated perfect hand-eye coordination and created one of the best deflections ever seen.

It's not always about spectacular moves or brilliant hand-eye coordination.

In the Winnipeg Jets' 5-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Oct. 4, Devin Setoguchi showed one of the key ingredients that any team needs to win consistently. He demonstrated remarkable hustle in scoring a wraparound goal that beat Jonathan Quick and helped the Jets secure the victory.

The Calgary Flames have gotten off to a shocking 2-0-2 start, which is quite an achievement since most observers thought they would be a likely cellar dweller in the Western Conference.

But they are playing with freedom and fire, pushing past their limitations in the early part of the season. In their 3-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Oct. 11, they fell behind 1-0 in the first period. Early in the second period, offensive-minded defenseman Dennis Wideman rang in a power-play goal with a shot off the post.

This was a laser-like shot that could have been fired by any of the league's most powerful shooters, but it was Wideman who supplied the firepower.

Chris Kelly of the Boston Bruins endured a horrific slump last season. The defense-minded center is paid to stop opponents and kill penalties, but Claude Julien saw Kelly score 20 goals in 2011-12. However, he could only manage three goals in 2013.

Kelly was determined to change that when the Bruins opened the season on Oct. 3 vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning. He did it in spectacular fashion, he scoring the Bruins' first goal of the season on a penalty shot.

Look at the spectacular goal scorer's move that Kelly showed on this play. He showed that he'll have better luck in 2013-14.

Jonathan Bernier has made some startling saves early in the NHL season. He is making his case to earn the No. 1 goalie position for the Toronto Maple Leafs in his battle with James Reimer.

Bernier has been on top of his game this month.

In the Leafs' 4-0 victory at Nashville on Oct. 10, Bernier robbed hard-shooting defenseman Shea Weber as he got in front of this 100-plus mph shot that would have put the Predators on the board and perhaps changed the course of the game.

It's not usually about the drama in the first couple of weeks of the season, but when the defending Stanley Cup champion, the Chicago Blackhawks, went to St. Louis on Oct. 9 to take on the archrival St. Louis Blues, it was a statement game for the hosts.

Ken Hitchcock's team wanted to show it could hang with the Blackhawks in their first meeting of the season. The two teams battled on even terms until late in the third period, when Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook pinched in the St. Louis zone in an attempt to create a scoring chance. 

He was left out of position, and Alexander Steen took off down the left wing with the puck in a three-on-one rush. Steen took the puck as far as he could and then blasted a shot through Corey Crawford to give the Blues' a dramatic 3-2 victory.

Alex Ovechkin finished as the NHL's leading goal scorer last year when he lit the lamp 32 times. He has started the 2013-14 season as if he wants to win the Maurice Richard Award for the fourth time in his career.

Ovechkin has already scored five goals.

One of them came on a vicious wrist shot in an Oct. 3 game against the Calgary Flames. The Caps fell behind 3-0 in that game, but his shot at the 15:25 minute mark of the second period allowed the Caps to tie the game.

Ovechkin demonstrated his tremendous power with this memorable flat-footed shot.

Jussi Jokinen is one of the players whom Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma will depend on for depth scoring this year. Bylsma got a lot more than he bargained for when Jokinen scored a hat trick in the Penguins' 5-2 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Oct. 8.

His first goal in that game was a remarkable display of athleticism. He took a hard pass from Sidney Crosby in his skates, kicked it to his blade and backhanded the shot past Carolina goalie Cam Ward.