Faced with a tough slate to start the season, including facing the final four teams standing in the Stanley Cup playoffs (Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Pittsburgh Penguins, Los Angeles Kings) in their first five games, the Bolts have kept pace. Despite losing the first game of the year to the Bruins, the Lightning responded with three straight wins.
Tampa Bay went 2-2-0 in their past four games and continues to strive for consistency with the better-part of their roster under the age of 24. Another key area will be their netminding situation, which currently features Ben Bishop and Anders Lindback working in tandem, though Bishop has started six out of eight games thus far.
The Bolts are wrapping up the sixth and seventh game of a season-long seven game homestand with games against the Blackhawks and Sabres on Thursday and Saturday. They will then travel to Sunrise, Florida to play their first road game since October 8.
- Martin St. Louis – four goals, six assists, 10 points, plus-6
- Steven Stamkos – five goals, five assists, 10 points, plus-5, two game-winning goals
- Teddy Purcell – four goals, four assits, eight points, plus-3, one game-winning goal
BOSTON BRUINS (T-3rd)
There was no slow start for Boston in 2013-14 despite playing into the middle of the summer with their appearance in the Stanley Cup Final. Losing only twice in seven games, the Bruins suffered a 2-0 whitewash to the second-best team in the NHL, the Colorado Avalanche, and dropped a 3-2 decision to division foe, the Detroit Red Wings.
The Bruins are working a seven-man rotation on defense that has seen three different players scratched in order to make room for others. Brad Marchand has had a relatively slow start for Boston, notching just two points thus far. Carl Soderberg, who missed the first six games of the year with an ankle injury, made his debut against Tampa Bay on Saturday.
Moving forward, Boston plays in their first set of back-to-backs Wednesday and Thursday in Boston as the Sabres and Sharks come to town. The Bruins then hit the road for New Jersey to play the Devils on Saturday.
- David Krejci – one goal, five assists, six points, plus-3
- Milan Lucic – three goals, three assists, six points, plus-2
- Reilly Smith – one goal, four assists, five points, plus-4
BUFFALO SABRES (8th)
The Sabres knew they were beginning the season as one of the youngest teams in the NHL, but the start has been slower than hoped and head coach Ron Rolston has received some of the fire for the poor start. Being plagued by injuries has been one reason Buffalo lost seven straight games to open the year and nine out of their first 10 contests. They currently rank at the basement of the division in goals-for per game (1.20).
Currently nursing injuries from Ville Leino, Corey Tropp and Cody McCormick, the Sabres saw former Olympic netminder Ryan Miller miss time too, while Patrick Kaleta is also serving a 10-game suspension for a hit to the Blue Jackets Jack Johnson. Kaleta has been fined three times and suspended three times in the past four seasons.
Four teenagers (Nikita Zadorov, 18, Rasmus Ristolainen,18, Mikhail Grigorenko, 19 and Zemgus Girgensons, 19) have found their way into the lineup so far for Buffalo and according to Elias Sports, it is the first time a team has iced at least four teenagers in one season since the 1995-96 season when three teams (Sabres, Florida Panthers, Winnipeg Jets) did so.
- Cody Hodgson – two goals, five assists, seven points
- Thomas Vanek – three goals, three assists, six points
- Drew Stafford – one goal, two assists, three points
DETROIT RED WINGS (1st)
Starting the week with goaltender, Jonas Gustavsson, being named first star of the week, the Red Wings also moved into first place in the standings with a one-game edge over the Colorado Avalanche. The Avalanche lost their first game of the season at the hands of Detroit, 4-2, last Thursday.
With blueliners Niklas Kronwall (concussion) and Jonathan Ericsson (birth of first child) missing time, the Red Wings’ young defensemen have shined recently, including fighting until the bitter end Monday in a 1-0 shootout loss to the San Jose Sharks, who lead the league in goals per game and shots per game.
With no games scheduled until Saturday, Detroit faces the struggling New York Rangers in the middle game of a three-game homestand, before playing the final game at Joe Louis Arena Wednesday versus the Vancouver Canucks.
- Pavel Datsyuk – five goals, six assists, 11 points, plus-6
- Henrik Zetterberg – six goals, five assists, 11 points, plus-6
- Daniel Alfredsson – one goal, 8 assists, nine points
FLORIDA PANTHERS (7th)
Florida’s tale is similar to the Sabres; injuries and a young team have all led to a sub-par record for the Panthers early in 2013-14. The high-profile signing of former Bruins netminder Tim Thomas was supposed to be the answer to their goaltending woes, but Thomas also fell to injury and has posted mediocre numbers (.901 save percentage, 3.36 goals-against average) to go along with a 2-3 record through five games.
Earning a 2-1 victory in a shootout Saturday, Florida looks to continue on the winning trend against Chicago tonight, before they play division-rival Buffalo and Tampa Bay this weekend.
- Tomas Fleischmann – one goal, seven assists, eight points
- Brad Boyes – four goals, two assists, six points
- Aleksander Barkov – three goals, three assists, six points
MONTREAL CANADIENS (T-3rd)
After winning four-straight contests to three Western Conference teams and Eastern Conference newcomer, the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Canadiens saw their winning-streak snapped Saturday in a 2-1 loss to the Nashville Predators. Montreal’s schedule has not been similar to the majority of the teams in the Atlantic, playing a majority of non-division and out of conference rivals through eight games.
Two Habs, Brandon Prust and Daniel Briere, have been sidelined indefinitely for a majority of Montreal’s October-November slate, while Douglas Murray, Goerge Parros and Alexei Emelin have ailments as well. In their absence some recalls have been made from their AHL affiliate the Hamilton Bulldogs.
The Canadiens continue their schedule of early opponents from the West with the Edmonton Oilers, Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks making their way to Bell Centre Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday to round out the week.
- P.K. Subban – two goals, eight assists, 10 points, plus-5
- Lars Eller – five goals, three assists, eight points, plus-5
- Alex Galchenyuk – one goal, six assists, seven points, plus-4
OTTAWA SENATORS (6th)
Going 3-3-2 to start 2013-14, the Ottawa Senators find themselves in the middle of the Atlantic Division standings. Winning the first game of the season in shutout fashion, 1-0, against the Buffalo Sabres, the Senators suffered four-straight losses, including an overtime and shootout loss. Ottawa earned back-to-back wins to the Phoenix Coyotes, again in overtime, and the Devils, but dropped their most recent contest to the Oilers.
The Senators face their first division opponent, the Detroit Red Wings, since the opening week of the season, which includes Ottawa’s first meeting versus their former captain, Daniel Alfredsson. They then close out their October slate with Anaheim and San Jose.
- Jason Spezza – five goals, three assists, eight points
- Bobby Ryan – four goals, three assists, seven points, plus-1
- Kyle Turris – one goal, five assists, six points, plus-3
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (2nd)
The Toronto Maple Leafs had a surprisingly hot start to their season. They scored 27 goals, averaging four per game over the first seven games. They have started to cool with losses to Chicago and Carolina, however, but trail Detroit for the top spot in the Atlantic Division with 12 points.
Goaltender James Reimer fell to injury early and Jonathan Bernier, acquired by the Maple Leafs from the Los Angeles Kings, has fit the bill recording a 4-3-0 record with a .938 save percentage and 2.14 goals-against average through seven games. David Clarkson is also serving a 10-game suspension that was handed to him during the preseason.
Tuesday the Maple Leafs face the Anaheim Ducks and then have their first set of back-to-back Friday and Saturday in Columbus and in Toronto versus the Penguins.
- Joffrey Lupul – six goals, four assists, 10 points
- Mason Raymond – four goals, four assists, eight points
- Phil Kessel – two goals, six assists, eight points, plus-1