* Goals. No final score has been more frequent this season than 4-3; in 2003-04, that result ranked fourth behind 3-2, 2-1 and 3-1.
* Close Games, part 1. Teams have been tied or separated by one goal two thirds of the time (66.2 percent).
* Close Games, part 2. The margin of victory has been one goal for nearly half the games played to date (49 of 105, 47 percent).
* Powerful Power Plays. When teams have committed penalties, they have been costly. The League-wide power-play conversion rate of 20.9 percent is ahead of last season's season-long figure of 18.9 percent. Four teams are clicking at better than 30 percent: the Atlanta Thrashers
(6 for 16, 37.5 percent), Calgary Flames
(8 for 23, 34.8 percent), Vancouver Canucks
(9 for 29, 31.0 percent) and Colorado Avalanche
(10 for 33, 30.3 percent).
* Great Starts, part 1. The Atlanta Thrashers
are off to the best start in franchise history (4-1-0). The club scored 41 more goals in 2008-09 than the prior season under first-year head coach John Anderson
and have continued their high-scoring ways in 2009-10, averaging a League-high four goals per contest.
* Great Starts, part 2. Buoyed by last year's run to the Western Conference Final, the Chicago Blackhawks
posted their best start in 27 years by going 5-1-1 in their first seven games.
* Great Starts part 3. Goaltender Craig Anderson
has played every minute in the Colorado Avalanche
's impressive 6-1-1 start to the season. Anderson, who signed with the Avalanche as a free agent July 1, gave his club an early confidence boost by stopping 73 of 75 shots for a .973 save percentage and one shutout as Colorado opened the season with a pair of home victories.
* Great Starts, part 4. Building on their successful stretch drive that resulted in their first-ever berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs last spring, the Columbus Blue Jackets
are off to the best start in franchise history (5-1-0). A big part of the early-season Blue Jackets success has been their penalty killing. They have allowed just one power-play goal in 24 times short for a 95.8 percent success rate. In fact, they have scored more goals while shorthanded (two) than they have surrendered (one).
* Great Starts, part 5. The New York Rangers
' 7-1-0 record matches the best start through eight games in franchise history (1983-84). A key component to the Rangers' hot start has been their performance in the third period; they have outscored their opponents 11-1 in the final frame.
* Great Starts, part 6. Captain Daniel Alfredsson
has led the Ottawa Senators
(5-2-0) to the top of the Northeast Division. Alfredsson leads the club in scoring with nine points (three goals, six assists) in seven games and has tallied a pair of game-winning goals.
* Great Starts, part 7. Named head coach of the Phoenix Coyotes
just a week before the start of the regular season, Dave Tippett
has guided his new club to first place in the Pacific Division with a 5-2-0 record. Highlights of the young season include road shutout victories over the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins
(3-0, Oct. 7) and Presidents' Trophy-winning San Jose Sharks
(1-0, Oct. 12).
* Great Starts, part 8. The Pittsburgh Penguins
have won each of their first five road games of the 2009-10 season, the best start away from Mellon Arena in franchise history. They completed a 4-0 road trip with a 3-2 shootout win at Carolina Oct. 14.
* No Lead is Safe, Part 1. After allowing five goals in a span of 5:29 during the first period, the Chicago Blackhawks
roared back with six unanswered tallies -- capped by Brent Seabrook
's winner 26 seconds into overtime -- for a wild 6-5 victory against the Calgary Flames
on Oct. 12. It was the biggest comeback in Blackhawks history and tied the NHL record for the biggest deficit overcome.
* No Lead is Safe, Part 2. The Minnesota Wild
overcame a 3-0 deficit in the third period to post a 4-3 overtime victory over the Anaheim Ducks
in their home opener on Oct. 8. Their big free agent signing in the off-season, right wing Martin Havlat
, keyed the rally with three assists.
* No Lead is Safe, Part 3. The St. Louis Blues
trailed the Detroit Red Wings
by two goals in each game of the Compuware NHL Premiere 2009 series in Stockholm and came back to win both. The Blues rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win 4-3 in the season opener Oct. 2 and stormed back from an early 2-0 hole the following day to claim a 5-3 win.
* No Lead is Safe, Part 4. Trailing the New York Islanders
3-0 at home on Oct. 10, the Boston Bruins
staged a desperate third-period rally in which they tied the game with three goals in the final 8:01 of regulation. The Bruins went on to post a 4-3 shootout victory.
* No Lead is Safe, Part 5. On the same day the Boston Bruins
were staging their miracle comeback against the Islanders on home ice, the visiting Anaheim Ducks
pulled out a late 3-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers
. Teemu Selanne
scored twice late in the third period and got the only goal in the shootout.
* No Lead is Safe, Part 6. The Los Angeles Kings
built a 4-0 lead over the San Jose Sharks
late into the second period of their game on Oct. 8, only to see the Sharks strike back with four of their own, capped by Dany Heatley
's first goal as a Shark with five and a half minutes left. The Kings avoided a devastating collapse thanks to Teddy Purcell
's game-winner that came 26 seconds after Heatley's tally. They added an empty-net goal in a 6-4 win.
* Late Drama, Part 1. The Battle of Alberta got off to a memorable start when Calgary Flames
forward David Moss
took advantage of a miscue by Edmonton Oilers
goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin
to score the game-winning goal with 48.7 second remaining in a 4-3 Flames victory on Oct. 3.
* Late Drama, Part 2. Travis Zajac
scored the game-tying goal with one second remaining in regulation and the New Jersey Devils
went on to defeat the Tampa Bay Lightning
4-3 in a shootout, Oct. 8.
* Late Drama, Part 3. A couple of hours after Zajac's last-second goal in Tampa, Rene Bourque
tipped Jay Bouwmeester
's point shot past Khabibulin with 1.5 seconds remaining in regulation to tie the game and the Calgary Flames
went on to post a 4-3 shootout victory over the Oilers, the second dramatic victory over their provincial rivals in five days.
* Late Drama, Part 4. Selanne secured the Anaheim Ducks
a pair of valuable standings points by scoring twice in the third period -- including the tying goal with 16 seconds left in regulation -- as the Ducks escaped Philadelphia with a 3-2 shootout victory over the Flyers on Oct. 10.
* Realizing the Dream, Part 1. New York Islanders
center John Tavares
, the first overall pick in the 2009 Entry Draft, scored a goal and earned an assist in his NHL debut, a 4-3- shootout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins
on Oct. 3. Tavares is tied for the scoring lead on the Islanders and ranks second among rookies with seven points (three goals, four assists) in six games.
* Realizing the Dream, Part 2: Tampa Bay Lightning
defenseman Victor Hedman
, the second overall selection in the 2009 Entry Draft, recorded his first career NHL point, an assist, in his League debut Oct. 3 at Atlanta. Hedman leads all rookies in average ice time per game (24:38), more than four minutes ahead of second-place Tavares of the New York Islanders
* Realizing the Dream, Part 3: On the night his new club retired the jersey of his childhood idol Joe Sakic
, Avalanche center Matt Duchene
recorded his first career point, an assist, in his first career game. The third pick in the 2009 Entry Draft helped his club defeat the San Jose Sharks
5-2 on Oct. 1.
* Realizing the Dream, Part 4: Evander Kane
, the fourth player selected in the 2009 Entry Draft, posted his first NHL goal as the Atlanta Thrashers
won 4-2 at St. Louis, Oct. 8. He added a second in the Thrashers' 4-2 win at New Jersey, Oct. 16. "Evander is certainly making the decision easy for us," Thrashers GM Don Waddell said earlier this week when asked if Kane is slated to spend the entire season with the Thrashers or be returned to junior hockey.
* Realizing the Dream, Part 5: New York Rangers
rookie defenseman Michael Del Zotto
scored in his home debut against Ottawa Oct. 3 and again at New Jersey Oct. 5. The 19-year-old is quarterbacking the Rangers power play and leads all rookies and defensemen in scoring with eight points (three goals, five assists) in eight games.
* Realizing the dream, Part 6. Colorado Avalanche
center Ryan O'Reilly
's first NHL goal spoiled the Montreal Canadiens
' 100th home opener. O'Reilly, selected by Colorado in the second round of the 2009 Entry Draft at the Bell Centre in June, scored with 6:13 remaining to give the Avalanche a 3-2 victory over the Canadiens on Oct. 15.
* Realizing the dream, Part 7. Victoria, B.C. native Jamie Benn
scored his first NHL goal in with 1:33 left in regulation at Vancouver Oct. 11, lifting the Dallas Stars
into a 3-3 tie with the Canucks. All five skaters for Dallas had a hand in the goal, which ended with Benn finishing off a pinpoint pass from Mike Ribeiro
. The Canucks won the game 4-3 in a shootout.
* Realizing the dream, Part 8. Middletown, N.J. native James vanRiemsdyk made his NHL debut in his home state, tallying a pair of assists in the Philadelphia Flyers
' season-opening 5-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils
in Newark on Oct. 3.
* Realizing the dream, Part 9. Long Island native Ryan Vesce
's first career NHL goal was the game-winner for the San Jose Sharks
in a 4-1 win against the New York Islanders
at Nassau Coliseum on Oct. 17. Vesce scored his milestone goal with his parents in attendance at the Isles' home rink, a 30-minute drive from his hometown of Lloyd Harbor, N.Y.
* Hat trick, Part 1. Philadelphia Flyers
captain Mike Richards
scored three times in the second period of a wild 6-5 victory over the Washington Capitals
on Oct. 6. His second and third goals came just 18 seconds apart and capped a seven-goal outburst by both clubs in the middle frame.
* Hat trick, Part 2. Heatley notched three goals in his Sharks debut -- the third coming on a penalty shot -- in a 6-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets
on Oct. 8. Heatley also posted a plus-6 rating, the highest in one game by an NHL player since Andrej Meszaros
was plus-6 for the Ottawa Senators
in an 8-4 road win against Tampa Bay on Jan. 24, 2008.
* Hat trick, Part 3. Tampa Bay Lightning
left wing Ryan Malone
scored three times, including the go-ahead goal midway through the third period, as the Lightning posted their first victory of the season, a 5-2 decision over the Carolina Hurricanes
on Oct. 10.
* Hat trick, Part 4: The Ottawa Senators
earned dividends from the off-season trade with the San Jose Sharks
as left wing Milan Michalek
tallied a hat trick (including two shorthanded goals) in a 7-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning
on Oct. 15.
* Pacific Division scramble. There was a 38-point gap between the top and bottom clubs in the Pacific Division last season. At this early stage these five clubs are separated by just three points (Phoenix 10, Dallas and San Jose 9, Los Angeles 8, Anaheim 7).
* Russian goaltender duel. Hours after Russian goaltending legend Vladislav Tretiak
was named GM of Team Russia for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Russia goaltending hopefuls Evgeni Nabokov
of the San Jose Sharks
and Ilya Bryzgalov
of the Phoenix Coyotes
staged a memorable netminders' duel in the Coyotes 1-0 win at the Shark Tank on Oct. 12. The pair turned aside all 56 shots they faced - Nabokov 30, Bryzgalov 26 - in regulation and overtime before the Coyotes prevailed in the shootout.
* Selanne moved within 17 of the 500-goal milestone with a pair of big road performances. The 39-year-old tallied twice in 82 seconds in the Anaheim Ducks
' 6-1 win at Boston on Oct. 8 and notched a pair of third-period goals in a 3-2 comeback victory at Philadelphia, Oct. 10.
* After a season-opening 4-1 home loss to San Jose, Anaheim Ducks
right wing Corey Perry
posted five points on the Ducks' recent 2-1-1 road trip. Perry leads the club in scoring with 4-3--7 in seven games.
* Atlanta Thrashers
captain Ilya Kovalchuk
stormed out of the gate with goals in each of his first three games, including two-goal performances vs. Tampa Bay on Oct. 3 and at St. Louis, Oct. 8. His seven goals rank second in the NHL to Washington's Alex Ovechkin
* Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec
, 22, gave the Atlanta Thrashers
an immediate lift by making 36 saves in their season-opening 6-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning
Oct. 3. Pavelec, who will be in the early-season spotlight as Thrashers' No. 1 Kari Lehtonen
recovers from off-season back surgery, has won three of his first four starts, posting a 2.76 goals-against average and .918 save percentage.
* Goaltender Ryan Miller
of the Buffalo Sabres
has yet to lose in regulation, posting a 4-0-1 record. He ranks second among NHL goaltenders in goals-against average (1.58) and save percentage (.938).
* 6-8 rookie defenseman Tyler Myers
surprised many observers by making the Buffalo Sabres
roster out of training camp. The 19-year-old has averaged nearly 20 minutes in ice time per game (19:46) and shown Sabres fans a tantalizing flash of ability such as on this goal by teammate Patrick Kaleta
. He tallied his first career goal Oct. 16 against the New York Islanders
* Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester
consistently ranked among the League leaders in ice time per game as a member of the Florida Panthers
and he is near the top of the list this season with the Calgary Flames
. Bouwmeester has logged an average of 27:19, including a season-high 30:02 in a 4-3 win at Edmonton on Oct. 3. Only Philadelphia's Chris Pronger
(28:13) and Carolina's Joe Corvo
(27:26) have averaged more ice time.
* It would take an incredible save to top the one made by Carolina Hurricanes
goaltender Cam Ward
against Pittsburgh on Oct. 14. Trailing the Penguins 2-1 in the third period, Ward's lightning glove save off Bill Guerin
kept Carolina in the game. The Hurricanes later tied the game to force overtime.
* Facing a Pittsburgh Penguins
team that had swept them in the Conference Finals last spring and trailing 2-0 in the third period of their first meeting in 2009-10, Carolina Hurricanes
veteran Ray Whitney
gave his club a badly needed lift. Whitney's two third-period goals -- his 100th and 101st in a Hurricanes uniform -- forced overtime and earned a valuable standings point. Whitney will reach the 1,000-game milestone Wednesday on Long Island.
* Making his fourth career NHL appearance just 15 miles from his hometown of Vantaa, Finnish goaltender Antti Niemi
stopped all 23 shots in the Chicago Blackhawks
' 4-0 shutout victory over Florida on Oct. 3 in the clubs' second game of the Compuware NHL Premiere 2009 series in Helsinki.
* Forward Patrick Sharp
is off to the best start of his NHL career, leading the Chicago Blackhawks
in scoring with 10 points (five goals, five assists) in eight games.
* Colorado Avalanche
center Wojtek Wolski
notched a pair of goals Oct. 1 against San Jose, marking the fourth consecutive year he has scored a goal on opening night. Wolski leads the Avalanche in scoring with seven points (four goals, three assists) in eight games.
* Colorado Avalanche
defenseman Kyle Quincey
, obtained in the off-season trade that sent forward Ryan Smyth
to Los Angeles, has been a valuable addition to the Avalanche blue line. Quincey had points in each of his first five games, the first Avalanche defenseman to do so since Sandis Ozolinsh
in 1996-97. Quincey leads the club in average ice time per game (25:13) and is tied for third in points (1-5--6).
* Colorado Avalanche
forward Darcy Tucker
had a goal and an assist in a 4-1 win at Toronto, his first game at Air Canada Centre since being bought out of his contract in the summer of 2008.
* Columbus left wing Rick Nash
has been known primarily as a goal-scorer but his set-up on Kristian Huselius
' game-winning goal in the Blue Jackets' 2-1 win over Calgary Oct. 13 showed his playmaking ability. Nash has seven assists in his first six games, well on his way to surpassing his single-season career high of 39 set in 2008-09.
* Columbus Blue Jackets
goaltender Steve Mason
, the 2008-09 Calder Trophy winner as the League's top rookie, has picked up where he left off last season. Mason has won four of his first five starts, posting a 2.35 goals-against average and .925 save percentage.
* Dallas Stars
defenseman Nicklas Grossman
leads all NHL players with a plus-10 rating in his first seven games. Grossman, in his third full NHL season, was minus-8 in 81 games with the Stars last season.
* Dallas captain Brenden Morrow
, returning to action for the first time since suffering a season-ending knee injury Nov. 20, has given the Stars a huge boost. Morrow ranks second on the club in scoring with eight points (five goals, three assists) in seven games.
* Dallas Stars
center Brad Richards
jumped out to the early club scoring lead by recording points in each of his first five games (3-6-9).
* Nicklas Lidstrom
of the Detroit Red Wings
became the eighth defenseman in NHL history to reach the 1,000-point milestone on Oct. 15 against Los Angeles, joining Ray Bourque
(1,579), Paul Coffey
(1,531), Al MacInnis
(1,274), Phil Housley (1,232), Larry Murphy
(1,216), Denis Potvin
(1,052) and Brian Leetch
(1,028). He is the 74th player in NHL history to reach the 1,000-point mark and only the second Swede -- Mats Sundin
* Detroit Red Wings
left wing Tomas Holmstrom
scored a goal in each of the first three games after linemate Johan Franzen
suffered a knee injury Oct. 8 that is expected to sideline him for fourth months.
* A resurgent Dustin Penner
leads the Edmonton Oilers
in goals (five) and points (nine) in the early going after slumping to 37 points in 2008-09 -- the left wing's lowest total in his three full NHL seasons.
* Khabibulin became the 24th goaltender in NHL history to reach the 300-victory milestone with a 5-4 shootout victory over the Dallas Stars
on Oct. 6. Khabibulin made 30 saves and stopped all three shootout attempts.
* Florida Panthers
defenseman and Oulu, Finland native Ville Koistinen
scored a goal and added the shootout winner in a 4-3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks
in the opening game of the Compuware NHL Premiere Helsinki 2009 series on Oct. 2 -- the first NHL regular-season game ever played in Finland.
* Smyth has flourished in his new surroundings in Los Angeles. Smyth, acquired in an off-season trade with Colorado, has teamed with linemates Anze Kopitar
and Justin Williams
to give the Kings a dangerous first line. Smyth leads the club in goals with five and ranks second in points (10).
* Last season center Anze Kopitar
became the first Kings player since Luc Robitaille
to tally 20 goals in each of first three seasons and the 22-year-old Slovenia native is on track for a career year in 2009-10. Kopitar leads the Kings in scoring and ranks fourth in the NHL overall with 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in eight games.
* Goaltender Jonathan Quick
started 22 of the Kings' final 27 games and 41 of the last 52 as a rookie in 2008-09 and his strong early-season play earned the sophomore the No. 1 job again. Quick posted victories in four of his first six starts.
* Minnesota center Eric Belanger
has ranged between 33 and 37 points in each of his past six NHL seasons but has shown a more offensive dimension under new Wild head coach Todd Richards
. Belanger leads the Wild in assists (six) and ranks second in points (eight) in seven games.
* Montreal Canadiens
goaltender Carey Price
opened the season with a pair of overtime victories on the road against intra-divisional opponents. He made 43 saves in a 4-3 victory at Toronto Oct. 1 and stopped 34 shots in a 2-1 win at Buffalo Oct. 3.
* A pair of goals by right wing Patric Hornqvist
with fewer than eight minutes to play turned a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 victory for the Nashville Predators
over the Colorado Avalanche
in the Preds' home opener on Oct. 8. Hornqvist, the 230th and final selection in the 2005 Entry Draft, is just the ninth player selected last overall to play in the NHL since the current draft system was introduced in 1979. Hornqvist leads the Predators in scoring with six points (two goals, four assists) in seven games.
* Martin Brodeur
, Part 1. New Jersey Devils
goaltender Martin Brodeur
made his 15th consecutive season-opening start in goal Oct. 3 vs. Philadelphia, breaking the NHL record he had shared with Terry Sawchuk
and Patrick Roy
. The game also marked his 1,000th career regular-season appearance. Brodeur joined Roy (1,029) as the only goaltenders in NHL history to reach the milestone.
* Martin Brodeur
, Part 2. Brodeur became the first goaltender to reach 30 career shootout victories, turning aside two of three attempts in a 3-2 New Jersey victory over the Washington Capitals
on Oct. 12. Brodeur, who is 2-0 in shootouts this season, improved to 30-14 lifetime. He has stopped 156 of 200 career attempts for a .718 save percentage.
* Martin Brodeur
, Part 3. Brodeur recorded his 102nd career shutout in a 2-0 Devils victory over the Carolina Hurricanes
Oct. 17, moving within one shutout of Sawchuk, the all-time leader. In a classic goaltending duel with Ward, Brodeur turned aside all 26 Carolina shots, while Ward stopped 27 of 28; the second Devils goal was scored into an empty net.
* Known for the physical presence he brings to the New Jersey lineup, right wing David Clarkson
has carried some of the offensive load, too. Clarkson tallied the game-winning goal at 16:25 of the third period in a 3-2 victory over Florida Oct. 10 and two nights later notched the game-tying goal at 13:34 of the third period in a 3-2 shootout win at Washington.
* New York Rangers
right wing Marian Gaborik
has tallied at least one point in each of the Rangers' eight games this season. Gaborik tied a franchise for the longest scoring streak by a new Ranger set by Dave Creighton
, who opened the 1955-56 season with an eight-game point streak. Gaborik ranks third in the NHL scoring race with 12 points (six goals, six assists) in eight games.
* Henrik Lundqvist
has been stellar in the New York Rangers
' goal, as typified by this sensational save off Los Angeles Kings
forward Teddy Purcell
in a 4-2 Rangers win on Oct. 14. Lundqvist has opened the season 6-1-0 with a 2.15 goals-against average and .932 save percentage.
* Left wing Vaclav Prospal
has found a home alongside Gaborik on the New York Rangers
' top-scoring line. Prospal has 11 points (three goals, eight assists) in his first eight games on Broadway.
* New York Rangers
defenseman Matt Gilroy
has shown why he was among the most sought-after free agents last spring following a standout career at Boston University. The 25-year-old rookie has averaged better than 19 minutes in ice time per game and is a plus-5 in the early going. His first career NHL goal late in the second period at New Jersey on Oct. 5 was the game-winner.
* Pascal Leclaire
has solidified the Ottawa Senators
' goaltending picture. Obtained by the Senators from Columbus at the trade deadline last March, Leclaire has won four of his past five starts, posting a 1.80 goals-against average and .928 save percentage in that span.
* Philadelphia Flyers
goaltender Ray Emery
made a successful return to the NHL by posting a 28-save shutout in a 2-0 win at Carolina on Oct. 2. Emery, who played last season in Russia, has started all six Flyers games to date, posting a 3-2-1 record with a 2.79 goals-against average and .903 save percentage.
* Pronger has not wasted any time becoming the cornerstone of Philadelphia's blue line corps. Pronger, obtained from Anaheim in an off-season trade, leads the NHL in average ice time per game (28:13) and has five points (one goal, four assists) in six games.
* Matt Carle
of the Flyers tied NHL record for defensemen by tallying four assists in the second period of the Flyers' 6-5 overtime win over the Washington Capitals
on Oct. 6. Carle ranks second among NHL defensemen in scoring with eight points (one goal, seven assists) in six games.
* Philadelphia center Daniel Briere
couldn't have asked for a better gift. Briere celebrated his 32nd birthday on Oct. 6 by tallying the overtime goal in the Flyers' 6-5 win over the Washington Capitals
* Bryzgalov has won five of his first six starts, posting a League-leading 1.14 goals-against average, .953 save percentage and two shutouts.
* RW Radim Vrbata
has made a successful return to Phoenix, where he had a career year for the Coyotes in 2007-08 with personal bests in goals (27), assists (29) and points (56). Vrbata tallied a pair of goals in the club's season-opener, a 6-3 win at Los Angeles on Oct. 3, and had a goal and an assist in their next game, a 3-0 win at Pittsburgh on Oct. 7.
* Captain Sidney Crosby
has boosted the Pittsburgh Penguins
to a 7-1-0 in part thanks to clutch shootout performances. He scored in the second round at Long Island on Oct. 3 and beat Ward with a pretty backhand move Oct. 14 at Raleigh.
* Penguins center Tyler Kennedy
has developed a knack for scoring timely goals. Six of Kennedy's past nine goals have been game-winners -- three of five during the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs and three of four this season. Kennedy is the only NHL player with three game-winning goals this season.
* Pittsburgh center Evgeni Malkin
is off to a fast start in the defense of his Art Ross
Trophy as League scoring champion, posting 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in eight games. Eight of his 10 points have come on the road.
* Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury
has won his first seven starts of the 2009-10 season, including two by shootout. He has posted a 2.09 goals-against average and .922 save percentage.
* Given an opportunity to crack the Pittsburgh Penguins
' lineup following the off-season departure of veteran defensemen Rob Scuderi
, Hal Gill
and Philippe Boucher
, second-year Alex Goligoski
has taken full advantage. Goligoski has recorded six points (one goal, five assists), leads the team in plus-minus (plus-8) and has logged more than 21 minutes in ice time per game (21:03).
* Eighteen-year veteran Keith Tkachuk
opened the season by notching four points (two goals, two assists) in the St. Louis Blues
' two-game sweep over the Detroit Red Wings
in the Compuware NHL Premiere Stockholm 2009 series. The Melrose, Mass., native leads the Blues in scoring with seven points (three goals, four assists) in six games. He has increased his career goals total to 528, second among U.S.-born players and 31st all-time.
* St. Louis left wing Paul Kariya
is crafting one of the top comeback stories of 2009-10. Sidelined by injury for all but 11 games of the 2008-09 season, Kariya has rebounded with five points (three goals, two assists) in his first six games, including this opportunistic tally Oct. 15 at Phoenix.
* Blues defenseman Erik Johnson
has enjoyed a solid comeback season after missing the entire 2008-09 campaign due to injury The 21-year-old is averaging more than 20 minutes in ice time per game (20:30), ranks second on the club in plus-minus (plus-5) and third in points (0-6-6).
* St. Louis center Patrik Berglund
enjoyed a memorable trip to his native country by tallying the game-winning goal in a 5-3 victory over the Detroit Red Wings
in Stockholm, Oct. 3. Berglund's second-period goal gave the Blues a 4-3 lead and came just 13 seconds after Blues forward Brad Boyes
had tied the game.
* Center Joe Thornton
has averaged nearly an assist per game since arriving in San Jose in November, 2005 -- a trend that is likely to continue with high-scoring linemates Heatley and Devin Setoguchi
. Thornton entered the season with 292 assists in 304 regular-season games as a Shark and owns the League lead this season with 11 in eight games.
* Tampa Bay Lightning
center Steven Stamkos
' 32 points led all rookies in the second half of last season and he is off to a productive start in his sophomore campaign. Stamkos, 19, has eight points (four goals, four assists) in his first seven games.
* Tampa Bay right wing Martin St. Louis
has recorded points in all seven Lightning games this season, leading the club in scoring with 11 points (three goals, eight assists).
* Center Henrik Sedin
is off to a flying start, recording 11 points (3 goals, 8 assists) in his first seven games. After tying a career high with four points (2-2-4) against Montreal Oct. 7, he notched consecutive two-assist games despite the absence of injured linemate/twin Daniel, who will miss 4-6 weeks with a broken foot.
* Vancouver right wing Mikael Samuelsson
, an off-season free agent signing, has been a key addition to the Canucks' lineup. Samuelsson has an active five-game point streak, including the game-winning goal in a 2-1 victory over Minnesota on Oct. 17. He ranks second on the club in scoring with seven points (four goals, three assists) in seven games.
* Washington Capitals
left wing Alex Ovechkin
became the third player in NHL history to tally at least three points in each of his first three games of a season, joining Guy Lafleur
with Montreal in 1975-76 and Peter Stastny
with Quebec in 1982-83. Ovechkin had five goals and four assists. Ovechkin is the NHL leader in goals (nine), points (16) and shots (61) in eight games -- all three on a pace significantly higher than his career average.
* Washington Capitals
center Nicklas Backstrom
tallied 55 assists in his rookie season of 2007-08, had 66 in 2008-09 and is on pace to shatter that mark this season. He currently ranks second League-wide with nine in eight games.
* Washington left wing Alexander Semin
has duplicated his hot start in 2008-09, when he captured NHL First Star honors for October. Semin has tallied 10 points (six goals, four assists) in his first eight games, including a spectacular solo effort at Philadelphia Oct. 6.
* Capitals center David Steckel
continues his development into one of the NHL's top face-off men. Steckel ranks third among players who have taken at least 50 draws with a 65.5% winning percentage (78-41). Only Atlanta's Rich Peverley
(38-15, 71.7%) and Buffalo's Paul Gaustad
(53-26, 67.1%) have higher percentages. Steckel was effective in the face-off circle in each of his first two NHL seasons as well, posting winning percentages of 56.3 in 2007-08 and 57.9 in 2008-09.