5. The Tampa Bay Lightning situation: This is a bigger story to most, but I believe more in the positive than the negative so this story falls to #5 on my list.
There is many interesting things going on in Tampa Bay. Only 16 games into the season, head coach Barry Melrose got the boot and in his recent interview after it all he took shots at the players and made it sound like they were lazy and worthless for not competting despite making millions of dollars and he just basically made it sound like the whole thing was not his fault.
Rich Tocchet has taken over as interim coach and is off to a 0-0-2 start, both games against division opponents nonetheless. Tampa continues to be the lowest scoring team in the league and have only managed 5 goals in 2 games since the firing of Melrose even though Tocchet has said he will preach an up tempo style of hockey.
Was Tampa’s slow start and lack of goal scoring Melrose’s fault? Or will the trigger happy new management in Tampa realize it was maybe their fault for going out and just wanting to sign all these random players this off season instead of trying to build the right team? Who will they hire to try and clean up this mess? We’ll soon find out.
4. The Sharks look like the best team in the league, not the Red Wings: Everyone knew the Sharks would be a good team, but no one thought they’d be this good so early into the season, especially with a newer looking lineup and a new head coach at the helm.
The Sharks are by far the best team right now and they are rolling over every opponent. They lead the league in points, they are second in goals scored, fourth in goals against and they’ve been missing their #1 netminder Evgeni Nabokov for a handful of starts, oh and Jon Cheechoo has once again gone into hibernation, but they still are scoring a ton of goals because their offensive and defensive depth is tremendous. Look no further than their second tier players like Joe Pavelski, Devin Setoguchi, Christian Ehrhoff, Marc Vlasic and Ryan Clowe all making a huge difference.
Will these Sharks keep it up or are they playing above themselves? Does anyone even have a shot to challenge them for the Pacific division title?
3. Is Malkin already better than Crosby…and Ovechkin? A friend of mine 4 years ago said that Evgeni Malkin is the next Jaromir Jagr, and that Malkin will eventually put in more years in the NHL and should finish with more career points than Jagr when it’s all said and done. I thought to myself it’s a possibility but I did not think Malkin’s playmaking ability would ever reach that of Jagr’s, and his goal scoring ability was also in question at the time. I do take back most of what I thought at the time, but at that time not many people were putting Malkin on that plateau just yet.
That same friend is now saying Evgeni Malkin will not only be better than Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, but he’s saying he already is and will only continue to progress ahead of them both to become to best player in the world for years to come. What it came down to was Malkin has the playmaking of Crosby and the goal scoring ability of Ovechkin. Neither Crosby and Ovechkin possess both of those tools TOGETHER at the level Malkin does.
It’s not only him who is starting to think that (and now I’m starting to think it myself – who wouldn’t with his start to this season?). I read on a message board about this same subject a week ago and most of the posters agreed with the original poster when he was saying that Malkin was the best player in the NHL.
Can we really start to consider Evgeni Malkin to be the best player in the NHL? If he keeps it up, why not?
2. Young studs, but not who everyone thought: Going into the season everyone thought Steven Stamkos and Kyle Turris were going to be the top 2 rookies by far, while second year players Sam Gagner, Jon Toews and others would breakout for the Sophmores and lead the class. Not so fast.
Derick Brassard for the Blue Jackets is leading all rookies in points with 17 in 17 games. How about rookie Defeseman Alex Goligoski for the Penguins? He has 9 points in 17 games and has helped fill a major void on D because of injuries to Ryan Whitney and Sergei Gonchar. You also have Kris Versteeg for the Blackhawks who has come out of nowhere and is probably the biggest rookie surprise thus far. He has 16 points in 17 games and is leading all rookies with a +10.
Second year players Devin Setoguchi and Bryan Little are lighting it up for their teams. Setoguchi has 22 points in 20 games with 11 goals. Bryan Little has 17 points in 17 games with 9 goals and is a +8 on a below average Thrashers team. Very impressive from all the youngsters, and I don’t remember anyone predicting any of these players to breakout this year (I semi predicted Brassard).
Now we know their is a lot left to the season and I doubt all players will keep a point per game pace or better for the whole season, but it looks certain they will all have very good years. This is a huge compliment to how deep the talent runs in the NHL right now.
Will they keep it up and Who will breakthrough next?
1. Everything Alexander Semin: Alex Semin has taken hockey fans by storm. Whether it being his outstanding start in which he is second in the league in scoring and second in total goals scored (13), or if it’s his recent jabs at Sidney Crosby and the North American style of hockey in his recent interview found here. Fans respect players speaking their minds, especially hockey players because they are known to stay in their shell and avoid the side drama, although I’m sure some North American hockey purists are not too fond of him.
What Alex Semin said in his recent interview was that Sidney Crosby is really nothing special and that a player like Patrick Kane from Chicago is more interesting. This only adds more fuel to the fire of the whole Ovechkin vs Crosby vs Malkin drama and really the whole Caps vs Pens rivalry as a whole.
Will Semin live up to all his trash talk? Will he actually beat Crosby in total points this year? Are the Caps and their duo better than the Pens and their duo? Stay tuned.