Let's examine the good and bad of the first month of this NHL season. First we will grade the teams, then the players.
A+ Grade: Los Angeles Kings are the best team in the NHL as of November 4, 2010. Despite losing Drew Doughty for six games due to a concussion, the Kings are finding ways to win. Justin Williams has recorded a point in 10 of the 12 games this season. Jonathan Quick is showing he is not ready to give up his starting role to Jonathan Bernier, as Quick has posted a 1.64 GAA and a 0.942 SV percent.
A Grade: St. Louis Blues go from just missing the playoffs last season to leading the Central Division this year. The addition of Jaroslav Halak is paying early dividends, as he gives the Blues a chance to win each night, and they usually do. The Blues have only a single loss in regulation so far this season.
B Grade: Tampa Bay Lightning are making Steve Yzerman look great as a first-time GM. The Lightning are being led by Steven Stamkos, who has 10 goals and 20 points in 12 games this season, which puts him on pace for a 136-point season. It seems the combination of Yzerman and Guy Boucher is working, and the Bolts are on their way to a playoff spot.
C Grade: Toronto Maple Leafs had such a great start to the season, winning their first four games; however, things have gone south since. In the final six games of the month, the Leafs have just one win and were shut out in back-to-back games to close it out. With captain Dion Phaneuf out for a month, if the Leafs want to turn this losing streak around, someone will need to step up.
D Grade: New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres are two teams that are usually near the top of the standings, not the bottom. Both teams are now dealing with starting goaltender injuries, coaching issues and, worst of all, neither team has won a game at home. Fans are not going to stick around if their team can’t even win a home game.
A+ Grade: Jaroslav Halak and Tim Thomas are dominating the NHL. Both goalies have put up three shutouts already this season. Halak is showing that last season's playoff run was no fluke. Thomas has regained his Vezina form and taken back his starting role; check out his stats (0.72 GAA and 0.977 SV percent)—that’s OUTSTANDING!
A Grade: Steven Stamkos and Patrick Sharp are leading the NHL with 10 goals each. Stamkos is on pace for a 68 goals and a 136-point season. With all the offensive stars in Chicago, it is Sharp who is leading the way. He is on pace for 59 goals and a 94-point season.
B Grade: Dustin Byfuglien goes from a winger on the Stanley Cup champions to a defenseman on a team that does not have a single playoff win. Byfuglien has five goals, 12 points and 25 PIMs in 13 games with three game-winning goals! There is no way he keep this pace (32 goals, 76 points and 158 PIMs) up, but it’s safe to say Byfuglien will have a career year in every offensive stat.
C Grade: John Tavares and Matt Duchene are both sophomores this season and are expected to be leaders of their teams. Duchene has scored more points this October than he did last year, but he is only on pace to score 62 points—just seven more points than his total last year. Tavares has six goals and eight points in eight October games, so he is on pace for a much better season, but fans were hoping for a Stamkos-type of sophomore season.
D Grade: Marc-Andre Fleury is off to a terrible start and is the cause of fantasy GM headaches. Fleury has just one win in his six starts—yes, that’s right, he has only started six of the Penguins' 13 games this season. Fleury is posting very poor numbers with a GAA of 3.35 and SV percent of 0.863—not what fans were hoping for. On the flip side, Brent Johnson is showing he still has game with five wins, a very low 1.70 GAA and a SV percent of 0.941.