Has a defenseman ever had a good of a start to a season than John Carlson for the Washington Capitals? Not only is he leading defensemen in scoring with 5 goals and 16 assists in 13 games but at one time was leading the NHL in scoring with 21 points. In the history of the NHL for defensemen only Paul Coffey in the 1988-1989 season through 10 games had topped Carlson. There was a question whether the Caps were going to sign Carlson to a big extension after winning the Stanley Cup in 2018 but in June of that year they signed Carlson to a huge extension of 8 years/$64 million and right now it looks like a brilliant decision.
And speaking of scoring defensemen Roman Josi (5 goals, 8 assists) and Ryan Ellis (2 goals, 11 assists) are the leading scorers for the Nashville Predators. You thought going into this season the Predators would be more lethal offensively and they have lived up to the billing scoring 45 goals in 11 games with 17 different Predator players scoring goals this year. The Preds might have the deepest roster of any team in the NHL this year and 36 year old goaltender Pekka Rinne has shown no signs of regression with 6 wins in 7 starts and a stellar 1.98 GAA and .931 save percentage.
Also off to a hot start but not as big as a surprise is David Pastrnak for the Boston Bruins with 11 goals in his first 11 games. Pastrnak was 26th in scoring last year and tied for 14th in goals. Only 23 years old, Pastrnak has a possible chance at 60 goals this year playing on one of the top lines in the NHL with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron who have already combined to score 23 goals with 31 assists. The Bruins have shown no signs of a hangover from last years run to the Stanley Cup final with 18 points and only 1 loss in regulation for the season. Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak are already proving they are the best goalie tandem in the league combining to post as a 2.09 GAA and .934 save percentage. The only negative for the Bruins is the early struggles of Charlie Coyle and Jake DeBrusk who have only scored a goal apiece. If the Bruins can get their secondary goal scorers going they will be the early favorites to get out of the Eastern Conference.
The Detroit Red Wings are in the midst of an 8 game losing streak and the biggest problem for the Wings is getting any secondary scoring. They have only scored 13 goals in that span while giving up 34. Their top line of Dylan Larkin, Tyler Bertuzzi, and Anthony Mantha have combined for 15 goals and 18 assists but the Wings have only gotten 12 goals from the rest of the team. The goaltending tandem of Jimmy Howard and Jonathan Bernier have struggled as well with a combined 3.75 GAA and .887 save percentage. General Manager Steve Yzerman knows this could possibly be a long rebuild and they will be prime candidates to unload veterans like Darren Helm or Justin Abdelkader in the near future.
A big blow for the defending Stanley Cup Champion St Louis Blues as Vladimir Tarasenko looks to be out for the rest of the regular per needing shoulder surgery. They have gotten good production early from Brayden Schenn and David Perron who have combined for 15 goals but with Tarasenko out they will need to get more production from Ryan O'Reilly, Jaden Schwartz, Alexander Steen, Oscar Sundqvist, Tyler Bozak, and Ivan Barbashev who have only combined to score 6 goals in 12 games.
The struggles continue for the Dallas Stars offensively as they have only scored 25 goals in 13 games. Roope Hintz is off to a nice start with 6 goals but veterans like Jamie Benn (1 goal), Tyler Seguin (2 goals), Alexander Radulov (1 goal) Joe Pavelski (2 goals) Mattias Janmark (1 goal), Radek Faksa (1 goal), and Corey Perry (1 goal in 6 games) have to pick it up as the Stars only have 9 points on the season and would not be a playoff team right now.
After shutting out the New Jersey Devils in the second game of the season it looked like Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart was well on his way to establishing himself as the #1 goaltender. Unfortunately Hart has struggled mightily giving up 12 goals on 43 shots in has last 3 starts and was pulled twice. Veteran Brian Elliott has played well in his 6 starts with a 2.28 GAA and .926 save percentage. Hart has a bright future but it looks like Elliott will be the #1 goaltender for now. If Hart continues to struggle even in a back up role the Flyers brass might have to consider sending him to the minor leagues to get straight.
So far the game of the year was the Washington Capitals epic comeback against the Vancouver Canucks on October 25th. The Caps were down 5-1 late in the 2nd period but scored a goal with 1 second left in the 2nd period and then proceeded to score 3 straight in the 3rd period and ended up winning the shootout for the 6-5 win. And the most amazing statistic from that Caps win was that Alexander Ovechkin and John Carlson did not register a point.
Even with that late meltdown the Canucks are one team I am starting to like in regards to being a sleeper team for the playoffs. The J.T. Miller trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning looks good early as he is leading the Canucks in scoring with 11 points in 10 games. Bo Horvat, Elias Pettersson, and Brock Boeser are capable of scoring 30 goals this season and if they can get other role players like Josh Leivo, Jake Virtanen, Michael Ferland, Tim Schaller, and Brandon Sutter to fill out their scoring depth it bodes well for the Canucks. They are much improved defensively with the additions of Tyler Meyers and Jordie Benn and the goaltending tandem of Jacob Markstrom and Thatcher Demko have exceeded expectations combining for a GAA of 2.40 and .923 save percentage. Demko has been an early season revelation in the back up role with a 1.64 GAA and .943 save percentage in 3 starts.