As opening week comes to a close in the NHL and the reality that hockey is fully back in action has finally hit, it's time to start applauding those teams that had a good week and critiquing those who didn't. In this week's version of "Who's Hot, Who's Not," Phil Kessel gets the praise for being hot, while the Winnipeg Jets headline those teams that struggled this week.
I'm going to try and do this column every Monday, in which I will wrap up the previous week's action. Make sure you look for it and help me make this a popular part of B/R's NHL section.
So here we go with this week's hot and cold players/teams of the week.
The poster boy for having a hot week, Phil Kessel has led the undefeated Toronto Maple Leafs to a hot start. He has five goals and eight points in three games for the Leafs, who picked up three wins in this week's action.
Kessel has finally started to show that he was worth the draft picks that Brian Burke gave up to obtain him. Nobody expects Kessel to keep performing like this (eight points in three games is a lot of points), but if Kessel can put up close to 40 goals and 90 points (which are reasonable), he may be the most popular person in Toronto, especially if they make the playoffs.
First of all, welcome back to the NHL officially, Winnipeg, we've missed you. The scene on Sunday was amazing and I only hope that this support continues for the Jets.
Now onto the action on the ice. Wow, are the Jets bad. They are the only team to not have registered a point yet this season. They got smoked in their home opener against Montreal, then lost a tough game in Chicago where they led 2-0, then got smoked again in Phoenix.
After yours truly called the Jets an underdog who may make the playoffs this year, the Jets have been disappointing in the first week, to say the least.
After a disappointing loss to the Panthers in their home opener, the Islanders responded well by beating the Wild, Lightning and Rangers at home. The young team (who was picked by yours truly to make the playoffs) has finally gotten their kids to perform. The Islanders are dangerous—very, very dangerous.
Specifically, former first overall pick John Tavares, who had a tremendous week. He had eight points in two games against the Lightning and Rangers and has led the Islanders to a 3-1 start. Tavares has such great presence around the net and capitalizes on opportunities as good or better than anyone in the NHL.
The reigning Hart Trophy winner has yet to register a point. The big three in Anaheim have yet to perform up to expectations in their first three games (I wrote this prior to Sunday night's game). The Ducks don't have that offensive swagger they had last year yet. It's only three games, so I hope nobody's panicking, but it's a curious situation right now.
The Ducks had a tough road schedule after starting in Europe, then having five days off before playing on Friday. The fourth line scored the only goal for the Ducks and the first line made little impact on the game. In Europe, the line was shut down completely against the Rangers (despite being on the power play a lot) and against the Sabres, where they were dominated.
I know they lost to Washington in overtime and Buffalo in regulation on home ice, but the Penguins are still off to a great start. With Sidney Crosby still out and Evgeni Malkin still missing some time, the Penguins found a way to get it done after a West Coast start to the season.
They beat the Canucks on opening night, then beat Calgary and got a point in Edmonton in some tough early-season road games. They have played the most games in the NHL so far and have taken a lot of the points on the table without their two top players.
Steve Mason has been horrendous to start the season and in order for Columbus to be a true contender in the West, getting a goalie has to be high on their to-do list (look at this article I wrote on this subject). Columbus only has one point in their first five games, which is disappointing for a team who was active this offseason and needs to get its low attendance numbers up.
Columbus has not looked pretty this season, particularly on the power play, where they struggled last season. This start to the season is hopefully not indicative of the rest of the season, but if it is, some people may be out of a job pretty soon.
As we look forward to the second full week of NHL action, hopefully new teams will emerge as the teams start to find their legs. While it's almost impossible to make any assumptions about a team after the first week, some teams surprised us (Islanders) while others played the way we expected them to (Pittsburgh).
So here's a stick-tap for all of those teams who got off to a good start and an encouraging "let's go" to the teams who didn't.
Make sure to look out for next week's version of this article.
Did I forgot someone? Let me know about it in the comments.
Keep the military in your thoughts and prayers.
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