Studs & Duds: First Edition
With every team in the NHL having played about 10 games each, I feel it is time for me to step in and unjustly review the performance of players who were (or weren't... hello Tim Thomas) expected to perform in this brand new NHL season. Let's start with the...
Seen here wanting nothing to do with that big orange ball, Stamkos has been an absolute dynamo for the high-scoring Tampa Lightning so far this season with a ridiculous 2 points per game scoring average. Barry Melrose still says he is not ready to play in the NHL and somehow still has his job at ESPN even though Pierre Lebrun and Scott Burnside have better haircuts.
With a goals against average of around zero, Tim Thomas surprised everybody (including himself) and has all but gained back the #1 goaltender job in B-town. That is until he starts sucking again and Tuuka Rask goes back to making Maple Leafs fans feel miserable. I can't wait.
Patrick Sharp has ten, count them, TEN goals in 11 games so far this season. That's pretty crazy for someone who only broke the 30 goal mark once in his career. Now that Kris Versteeg isn't there to rap in the Hawks' locker room anymore, the sky is the limit. He only needs 10 more goals to get his career average of 20 goals this season, so I'm sure the Vancouver Canucks hope he settles for that.
When he's not pretending to doing that thing your mom does, James Wisniewski is out there scoring points and taking names. It probably won't last, but it's exactly what the Isles ordered now that their swiss cheese top defenseman is out long-term.
With 11 points in 11 games, Letang is stepping in big time for the dearly departed Sergei Gonchar, who apparently plays for some terrible team in Canada now. Not going to name names, but it starts with O and ends with Rrible.
Honorable Mention: Carey Price
All the pressure in the world (see: Montreal) hasn't seemed to get to Carey Price whose 6-2-1 start has everyone jumping back on the bandwagon. That record is largely a result of the team playing much better defense in front of him, since in my mind he has played to that level last year and hasn't really changed much to his game, except perhaps his focus.
Ilya Kovalchuk & The New Jersey Devils
Making fun of the Devils and Kovalchuk is probably in the "threading worldwide" list of twitter now, so I'll just say that 102M + 15 years + aging Martin Brodeur + rookie coach = lols
Scott Gomez & Brian Gionta
Although they do a lot of the little things right (get it?), Gionta and Gomez have hardly contributed to the Habs success with only 3 points each in 10 games. Gomez can't seem to score ever, missing several wide empty nets so far and making the Habs faithful remember Chris Higgins, which is never a good thing. On the bright side, you know these two are going to get going as soon as Jacques Martin stops playing musical chair on the left wing position. Gionta is also in the top 10 in the league for shots, so goal scoring should come in time.
MAF is now 1-5 and although that's not entirely his fault, his .863 save percentage speaks volume about the quality of his play so far this year. Maybe going back to his old bright yellow pads and then back to white again could prove helpful.
With only one point in 8 games and a -7 +/- rating, Modano has proven the doubters right. Unless he picks it up, he won't be of much use to the Red Wings this year who brought him thinking he would provide some secondary scoring.
What happened to the big crushing hits? The defensive awareness? Okay maybe the latter was never really there, but one of the reasons Phaneuf was good in his early years was because of his uncanny ability to hit in open ice. Opposing teams' forwards must have feared facing him back then, but all of that seemed to have changed over the years. All that the Maple Leafs are stuck with now is an overpaid pylon whose team worst -5 +/- rating is embarassing enough to put him on this list.
He was supposed to bring the Tampa Bay Lightning to the next level. The Lightning got there, but without his help as the left winger hasn't altered the scoresheet yet. His -8 +/- rating in only 6 games is pretty impressive... How did he manage that? Maybe in the end, Yzerman overpaid to get him!