Week One Surprises

Andrew MasonCorrespondent IOctober 16, 2008

Six days into the regular season is no way to measure but so far I have to say there have been surprises so far.

Surprise No 1.  The obvious one here: Denis Savard fired after four games and after beating Phoenix 4-1.  I picked Chicago as sort of a "dark horse" to make the playoffs but so far they have not impressed and clearly Savard was on a very very short leash to be fired so soon.  Then they choose Joel Quenneville as replacement.  He has a 438-238-77-41 record in 11 combined seasons coaching the St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche.

He made the playoffs in nine of the seasons but only advanced to the conference finals once where they lost to eventual Stanley Cup Champion the Colorado Avalanche.

But what makes this the most surprising is this move is less than a month after being arrested for drunk driving.  Interesting that no one has picked up on this so far...

Surprise No. 2. Three teams are winless and it is not the three anyone expected...Anaheim, Philly, and Tampa Bay are all winless.  They have all played tough teams but  having a combined two points through a combined 10 games with a possible of 20 is not acceptable.  While I expected Tampa Bay to struggle and I knew they were going do poorly (I mean Barry Melrose on the bench....really??), I did not expect such early struggle from Anaheim and Philadelphia. 

Anaheim with the amount of talent on their team should not be struggling this bad and letting up on average 4.25 goals a game is not how a Stanley Cup champion wins.  Their first periods have been good in the goal department but in three of the four games they were losing going into the third.

Philly in their home opener let up four straight goals before making an attempt to comeback with three goals.  Then with 10 seconds left in OT, they let a cross ice neutral zone pass and just let the guy rip it is completely unacceptable.  However Luca Sbisa has been a very excellent surprise.  Which leads me to surprise number three...

Surprise No. 3.  Luca Sbisa.  He is about 15 months older than me and is on the second pair of the Flyers defensive core.  About two months ago the Flyers defense looked like all-star caliber from top to bottom and had depth with seven defensemen before adding Luca Sbisa. 

However two major injuries to Ryan Parent and Randy Jones. 

So all of a sudden here comes Luca Sbisa who had played in the WHL for only one year is now on the Flyers roster.  After a very strong game against the Rangers in the opener, he got promoted to the second pair with Braydon Coburn.  However the question becomes when Jones and Parent come back and with the addition of Andrew Alberts that gives the Flyers nine defensemen which three do you sit?  I don't know the answer to that questions and thank god I do not have to make that decision.

Surprise No. 4. Thomas Vanek and Teppo Numminen.  Vanek after getting dogged all of last year by signing that monster contract has come back hard and strong in the early going here.  He has five goals in just three games and two of those being shorthanded goals.  Just for fun, it took Vanek until November 23rd to reach five goals.  Behind Vanek the Sabres have very quietly beaten Montreal and the Rangers. 

The other surprise for Buffalo has been Teppo Numminen.  After playing only one game last year and less than spectacular preseason and being 40, many people did not expect much from him.  Although so far, Teppo picked up where he left off in 2006-2007.  He has already recorded three assists and has averaged 19:43 minutes of ice per night.

Surprise No 5. As much as I hate to to admit the Rangers are 5-1.  After playing in 55 games last year with Minnesota, Aaron Voros recorded 14 points.  Already in six games he has three goals and four assists.  That is a pretty big jump although it probably helps the talent around is immensely better in New York than in Minnesota.

Also Brandon Dubinsky has seven points so far.  He has stepped up as well with the departure of Brendan Shannahan and Jaromir Jagr.  Both players have been huge in leading their team to a 5-1 start.

Well so far that is the five biggest surprises of the season just one week into the play.