Four teams have reached 10 wins in the early season, including two teams from the same division. Only one team from the Western Conference has hit double-digit W's. Two teams did it in 13 games, while the other two did it in 15 games played. One club, the Washington Capitals, made it 11 wins in 16 games with 4-2 victory over Calgary Sunday night.
Enough with the hockey math.
Let's start the clock on the first Weekly Warmup edition for November:
Get in Line Behind Boston
Each member of Boston's top line scored a goal in a 5-2 home win Saturday over Ottawa, leaving no debate that all three forwards could be legitimate Hart Trophy MVP candidates. David Pastrnak continued to sizzle with his 13th goal, while linemate Brad Marchand scored a key third-period goal. Patrice Bergeron picked up his 500th career NHL assist on the Marchand goal plus his own score in the second period. The prolific line is part of a Bruins powerplay unit that is scoring on an eye-popping 32 percent of its man-advantage situations. The Bruins get right back to work, hosting Pittsburgh Monday then traveling to nearby rival Montreal Tuesday.
Islanders Win Streak at Nine
It's been 30 years since the New York Islanders won nine games in a row. Their current streak joins them with Boston as Metropolitan Division entries to have 10 wins. The Isles' winning ways will be at stake during a homestand week with Ottawa in town Tuesday followed by Pittsburgh Thursday and the Florida Panthers revival show on the marquee Saturday night. NYI is streaking with balanced scoring and goalie Semyon Varlamov notching five straight wins after an 0-2 start, including a 1-0 blanking of Buffalo. Veteran Isles backup goaltender Thomas Greiss has won four in a row himself.
Blues Keeps on Keeping On
When star scorer Vladimir Tarasenko went down with a left shoulder injury Oct. 24, the expectation was the defending Cup champ St. Louis would take a dip of their own-especially when it was announced Tarasenko would be out five months on the injured reserved list. Instead, the Blues are top point-getters in the Central Division and owners of a four-game winning streak. It's difficult to replace Tarasenko's goal numbers and clutch scores.
Brayden Schenn has 10 goals to lead the team and the hope is young players like Sammy Blais, Robert Thomas, Robby Fabbri and Jaden Schwartz pick up the scoring slack. Schwartz and Schenn enter the week with the same number of shots on goal (31) with Schwartz having one goal to show it to Schenn's ten. Schwartz does have 10 assists. The Blues (9-3-3) will be out West this week: Vancouver (9-3-2) Tuesday, then Edmonton Wednesday.
Net Gains for Oilers
Writer Bruce McCurdy of the Edmonton Journal offered his own hockey math as the Oilers' forward Leon Draisaitl became the first NHL player to score 25-plus points in October since Wayne Gretzky did it in 1993 (playing for the Los Angeles Kings). Draisaitl (pronounced "Dry-zigh-tuhl") has an even split of 13 goals and 13 assists. McCurdy's calculations:
- Through 14 games, the Oilers have scored 29 goals at even strength. Draisaitl was on the ice for 20 of those goals, scoring 11 and assisting on seven more. No other NHL player had more than 12 points total in the category this October.
- Draisaitl has scored Edmonton's only overtime goal of the season and also their lone shootout tally, a game-decider.
Gauging the Goalies
Fans could do worse than save percentage to evaluate the best goalies in the NHL. It's far from a perfect statistic, but seems to align with why certain teams are winning games. It's better than goals-against-average (GAA), which doesn't credit goalies who routinely face north of 30 shots per game or play withoutr key defensemen out of the lineup. The NHL's saves percentage leader is Tuukka Rask at .949 or saving 94.9 percent of all shots on goal. His GAA is 1.49 and Rask has seven of Boston's 10 wins. Darcy Kuemper has a save percentage of .942, helping Arizona with six of its eight wins in an impressive team start to the season. His 1.67 GAA is silencing doubters (so far) who didn't project the Coyotes had the goaltending talent to make the playoffs. Other top goalies include Edmonton's Mike Smith sitting on a .931 save percentage and five wins for the Pacific Division leaders.
Getzlaf: One Team, 1,000 Games
In 2006-07, Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf, 22, centered the "Kid Line" with Corey Perry and Dustin Penner. The Ducks won the Stanley Cup. Sunday night, Getzlaf played in his 1,000th NHL game, all for Anaheim. He was voted captain by his teammates in 2009. He has been to the Western Conference Final twice since that magical first full season, plus won Olympic gold twice with Team Canada. At 34, he is surrounded by young players with high upsides, most of whom arrived from the team's American Hockey League affiliate and played for new coach Dallas Eakins in Bakersfield. Getzlaf has already scored seven goals, half of his 2018-19 total, including an overtime game-winner Friday against Vancouver. The Ducks are a surprising 9-6-1.
'Young' and 'Old' is Relative
Chicago beat Anaheim in overtime Sunday to become the last Western Conference team to register a road. Adam Boqvist scored the opening goal in the 3-2 win in just his second game since called up from AHL Rockford. Patrick Kane scored the OT winner on a pretty pass from Jonathan Toews, ending things 24 seconds into overtime. Boqvist, 19, appears to be up for good, along with 2019 Draft third pick overall, Kirby Dach, 18. "We got some young players coming in who are extremely promising," said head coach Jeremy Colliton. "They're feeling confident they can play in the league … that's how we're going to in the end turn this in the end - is that combination of the old guys still getting it done and the young guys taking more and more responsibility."
Dallas' Back-to-Back Comeback Trail
Though still a game under .500 and fifth place in the rugged Central Division, Dallas is starting to look like the Stanley Cup contender projected by all sorts of hockey analysts. It followed up a close 2-1 win Friday in Colorado with a quick trip back home to drub the Montreal Canadiens, 4-1, Saturday. The Stars opened the season with a 1-7-1 record in its first nine games, but now stand at 7-8-1 with a three-game winning streak. Colorado will be with them at the faceoff circle Tuesday night in Dallas.
Ride for the Roadies
The Washington Nationals rode four road wins to a World Series victory last week, then floats in Saturday's parade in D.C. Sunday night, a number of Nationals rode the Zamboni at Verizon Center. We'll leave the fashion to you: Jerseys or shirtless?