With the Bruins' recent struggles, I decided I'd change it up a bit and write about some of the most surprising stories in the NHL so far.
We're about a little over a month into the hockey season now and there has been a number of surprising developments already. Who knew there would be so many with so little games played. If the season keeps up like this, it will be very interesting come April and May.
Before I start I would just like to talk about some of the stories that didn't make the final cut.
Everyone has heard of the Swine Flu, or to be politically correct, the H1N1 virus. Well, it has already started making its rounds in the NHL. So far at least three players have been diagnosed with the flu, including David Krejci of the Boston Bruins and the Washington Capitals forward Quintin Laing. Players are doing their best to avoid this flu. This could play a very interesting part come playoff time, especially if it affects any of the big time contenders.
Another is the Toronto Maple Leafs' struggles. As of now, the Leafs sit tied for dead-last with the Carolina Hurricanes. The Leafs weren't expected to be real contenders for the Cup, but were figured to be vying for the final playoff spot. The return of Phil Kessel might help, but they are gonna need more than that if they want to have a shot at the playoffs.
The Phoenix Coyotes have struggled to get fans to their games ever since they moved from Winnipeg to Phoenix in 1996. Yet this year, they are playing very well, with a record of 10-6 and led by Shane Doan and goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov. This is why it is so surprising that they still can't get fans.
Through their 16 games played so far, they have averaged just 10,700 fans. This is the least in the league and just makes more of a reason why the Coyotes should be moved back to Winnipeg or somewhere else, as long as it's not in the desert.
I added the Hurricanes as one of the surprises this year over the Maple Leafs because of the fact that the Hurricanes made the Eastern Conference Finals last year.
This year, the Canes are tied for last with Toronto, sitting at 2-9-3. To make matters worse, they have lost Eric Staal to an injury. He is expected to be out one to two weeks.
The Canes didn't really change all that much over the offseason, which begs the question just what did happen to this team? They made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals last year, and this year find themselves in the basement.
If they want to turn the season around, Cam Ward will have to start standing on his head like he has in the past and hope that Staal comes back from his injury ready to go.
We aren't even a quarter into the season yet and already some big name players have gone down to injury. The Boston Bruins lost their best playmaker in Marc Savard, as well as tough guy Milan Lucic.
The Detroit Red Wings are without the services of Johan Franzen until February. The Capitals lost Alex Ovechkin, who is expected to miss about two weeks.
These injuries have had a big effect on the standings, as the Bruins are floundering around .500 and other teams are making runs. These could really shake up the seeds come playoff time.
Anze Kopitar is leading the league in scoring right now with 26 points. He already has 13 goals, just one behind Ovechkin, and 13 assists. Kopitar was selected 11th overall by the Los Angeles Kings in 2005, but seemed to come out of nowhere this year.
Many people figured he would be good, but not this good. He had his first hat trick of his career against the Dallas Stars this year and doesn't look like he is going to be slowing down anytime soon. If he keeps up this torrid pace, look for the Kings to be a threat come April.
Now to be specific, the Avs aren't technically alone in first. They are also tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins and the San Jose Sharks, but nonetheless, they are still in first place. Everyone raise your hand who saw this coming...thats what I thought, no one.
Most experts had picked the Avs to finish last or right around there. Well right now, they sit with a record of 11-3-2. A huge part of their success has been the goaltending of Craig Anderson. Anderson is tied for the league lead in wins with 10 and is second in save percentage with .936. He also had two shutouts already.
The Avs have also been great on the PK. They kill off a penalty 87 percent of the time, good enough for third in the league.
The only question left for the Avs is can they keep this pace up? They have a very young team and fatigue may play a factor down the stretch, but overall this is the most surprising story so far in the NHL and just goes to show any team can win on any given night.