NHL Wrap Up of the Week
Three Stars of the Week
1. Patrick Marleau (San Jose Sharks)
This week Marleau put together one of the more memorable weeks for a skater in a long time. In just five games played Marleau has scored nine goals and assisted on four. He started off the season by scoring two goals in four straight games, the first player to do so in the history of the NHL. Marleau isn’t only producing for himself, however. The Sharks are off to a 5-0-0 start, and as of Monday afternoon have the second most points in the Western Conference. Aside from the points, Marleau is putting together an impressive start as well. He has a plus/minus rating of +6, tied for fifth in the league. Something interesting to note is that five of Marleau’s nine goals have come via the power play. He clearly leads the league in that statistic, and San Jose easily leads the league in PP%, converting on an outrageous 37.5 percent of their chances. The 33-year-old forward is certainly answering his critics so far this year, and has put San Jose in great shape to contend in the West.
2. Sami Salo (Tampa Bay Lightning)
The current league leader in plus/minus rating is a big reason why the Lightning currently sit atop the Southeast Division. At +9, Salo is playing some of the best hockey of his career. Plus/minus is a very telling stat for me, especially for a defenseman. After all, a defenseman’s job is to prevent goals, and a high plus/minus rating shows exactly that. Tampa doesn’t exactly have the best scoring offense (aside from Steven Stamkos), and the team has scored 24 goals already in just five games. If Salo can keep this up throughout the season, expect the Lightning to be a force in the league this year.
3. Craig Anderson (Ottawa Senators)
Anderson’s numbers through the first week of games is absolutely ridiculous. Through four games played, Anderson has a 0.73 Goals Against Average, and an insane .975 Save Percentage. That’s unheard of. In his four starts, the Senators are 3-0-1, the one loss coming via the shootout to the Penguins. Nothing else really needs to be said for Anderson, except that he is standing on his head so far in net this season.
Eastern Conference Team of the Week
I don’t think anyone will argue that the New Jersey Devils are outplaying everybody’s expectations. After losing Zach Parise during the offseason to the Minnesota Wild, the Devils have started the season in roaring fashion, earning seven out of a possible eight points through their first four games of the season. My pick to finish last in the Atlantic Division, the Devils currently sit in first. The Devils are third in the league through the first week of the season, only allowing 1.75 goals per game. Granted, the Devils have not played any of the hyped Eastern Conference teams yet, such as the Penguins, Rangers, and Bruins, although they will play Boston on Tuesday night. It will be a true test for the Devils.
Western Conference Team of the Week
The Western Conference has certainly impressed me more than the Eastern Conference this week. And although both the St. Louis Blues and San Jose Sharks deserve the honor, I have to give the nod to the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawks were one of my sleeper teams to watch this year, and Patrick Kane and co. is showing the league why. Chicago has started the season 6-0-0, and has done so in convincing fashion, beating the LA Kings 5-2, the Phoenix Coyotes 6-4, and the St. Louis Blues 3-2. I expect more of the same from this team as the season rolls onward.
Three Games to Watch this Week
- New Jersey Devils @ Boston Bruins – Tuesday January 29, 7:00 p.m.
- Chicago Blackhawks @ Minnesota Wild – Wednesday January 30, 8:00 p.m.
- Pittsburgh Penguins @ Washington Capitals – Sunday February 3, 12:30 p.m.