This week in the NHL
Henrik Lundqvist has been flawless this season on both sides of the Atlantic. So have the New York Rangers|
Lundqvist allowed just two goals in leading the Rangers to a pair of wins over Tampa Bay in the Bridgestone NHL Premiere 2008 Prague. He was just as good when the Rangers came back to Madison Square Garden for their home opener, allowing just two goals and stopping 30 shots in a 4-2 victory against Chicago that helped the Rangers to their best start in 25 years.
Lundqvist has been among the NHL's top goalies in each of his first three NHL seasons, finishing as a Vezina Trophy finalist each season. Judging by his early-season play, he could be ready to win one -- and help the Rangers make some noise in the spring.
Five up -- Five players off to good starts:
Brandon Dubinsky -- The 22-year-old center has given the Rangers a big boost in the middle of a line with newcomers Aaron Voros and Nikolai Zherdev. Dubinsky has 2 goals and 2 assists in New York's four games (all victories), and both goals have been game-winners.
Keith Tkachuk -- St. Louis' power play, abysmal last season, is awesome (5 goals) through the Blues' first two games, and Tkachuk is a big reason why. The career 500-goal scorer has 3 goals, all with the man advantage, in the two games.
Daniel Sedin -- The goal-scoring half of Vancouver's high-octane twins is off to a fast start, with 2 goals and 5 points in two games. Not coincidentally, the Canucks are 2-0-0 and have scored 11 goals after struggling to put the puck in the net last season.
David Booth -- Booth reached the 20-goal mark last season; he's on target for a lot more than that after getting 3 goals in Florida's first two games. The third was the overtime game-winner Saturday against Atlanta that gave new coach Peter DeBoer his first NHL victory.
Martin Brodeur -- New season, same old Marty. Brodeur won back-to-back starts to get New Jersey off to a hot start, allowing just 2 goals in the process. At the rate he's going, he'll break Patrick Roy's career record for wins before Thanksgiving.
Five down -- Five players who’ve got to pick it up:
Jarome Iginla -- The Flames are off to an 0-1-1 start that includes a blowout at Vancouver and a come-from-ahead overtime loss to the Canucks at home. One reason for the slow start is the fact that Iginla went pointless in both games while going minus-3. The Flames are a star-driven team, and if Iginla doesn't score, they won't win.
Martin Biron -- Talk about a bad start: Biron got the start for Philadelphia on opening night and didn't make it through the first period, allowing 4 goals on 14 shots in a 4-3 loss to the Rangers. The Flyers have lots of offense, but can't win without the kind of goaltending Biron gave them in the playoffs last season -- and this wasn't it.
Matt Stajan -- Wrong place, wrong time department: Stajan has taken 6 penalty minutes (one minor, one double minor) this season. The opposition has scored on all three power plays. He also has no points and is minus-2 after two games.
Marty Turco -- Dallas' All-Star goaltender (and his teammates) are off to a slow start with an 0-1-1 mark. Turco has allowed 8 goals in the two games while looking nothing like the goaltender who carried the Stars to the Western Conference Finals last spring.
Ryan Malone -- Malone had a career season for Pittsburgh in 2007-08, earning a seven-year contract from Tampa Bay. The Bolts still are waiting for a return on their investment: He has no points and is a minus-2 in three games.
Injuries, news and notes:
Out -- Philadelphia's defense started the season shorthanded. Ryan Parent will be out for at least 3 months after undergoing shoulder surgery, and Randy Jones needs hip surgery and is expected to be out until after the new year. … Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson will miss a week or two after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone chip in his right knee. … Detroit forward Darren McCarty will miss at least 2 weeks with a groin problem. … The Islanders were without starting goaltender Rick DiPietro for their first two games. He's recovering from offseason hip and knee surgery and didn’t play for most of training camp The Isles' first pick in the 2008 Entry Draft, center Josh Bailey, will miss 2-4 weeks with what the team is calling a lower-body injury, and defenseman Radek Martinek left Saturday's game against St. Louis with a shoulder injury. … According to the Bruins, forward Chuck Kobasew is out indefinitely with a fracture in his right leg that he suffered in the second period of Boston's 5-4 win against Colorado on Thursday. … Buffalo center Tim Connolly missed Friday's season-opener with a fracture in one of his vertebrae; he's expected to miss at least a week. … Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksa left Saturday's game in Calgary with a left knee injury and didn't return. He had an MRI on Sunday. ….. St. Louis forward Lee Stempniak twisted his left knee Friday against Nashville and missed the Blues' game against the Islanders on Saturday. … Florida defenseman Bryan McCabe is expected to miss two weeks after injuring his back in the Panthers' opener against Carolina on Friday. An MRI revealed a contusion and lower back strain.
Returning -- Ottawa center Mike Fisher made his debut Saturday against Detroit after missing the Senators' games against Pittsburgh in Stockholm with a groin problem. … Dallas forward Jere Lehtinen missed the Stars' first two games with a groin injury. The team hopes to have him back Wednesday. … Montreal hopes to get forward Georges Laraque back this week; he missed the Canadiens' first two games with a groin injury.
The week ahead -- The season gets into full swing, with every team playing at least twice and seven scheduled to play four times in seven days.
Games to watch:
Boston at Montreal (Oct. 15) -- The Canadiens celebrate their centennial season with their home opener.
Washington at Pittsburgh (Oct. 16) -- The fourth season of Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby gets under way when the Caps and Penguins meet at the Igloo.
Vancouver at Detroit (Oct. 16) -- The Wings will unveil a statue of Hall of Famer Alex Delvecchio before the game. They'll do the same thing two nights later in honor of another legend, Ted Lindsay.
Calgary at Edmonton (Oct. 18) -- The combatants in the Battle of Alberta complete a home-and-home series at Rexall Place one night after squaring off in Calgary's Pengrowth Saddledome.
Tough week ahead:
Vancouver Canucks -- The Canucks play four games this week on the road, including three in four nights, as part of a six-game trip after playing at home opening night.
Buffalo Sabres -- The Sabres start a four-games-in-six-days stretch with an afternoon contest Monday on Long Island. They also visit the New York Rangers on Wednesday, and then travel to Atlanta on Saturday after hosting Vancouver on Friday.
Philadelphia Flyers -- The Flyers host Montreal on Monday and visit Pittsburgh on Tuesday before heading west for games in Colorado on Thursday and San Jose two nights later.
Easy week ahead:
Florida Panthers -- The Panthers will have plenty of time for practice. They have four days off before hosting Minnesota on Thursday and the Islanders on Saturday.
Tampa Bay Lightning -- The Lightning have the same opponents and is at home on the same nights as their in-state rivals; the Islanders visit on Thursday and Minnesota on Saturday.
Los Angeles Kings -- Another team that can enjoy some home cooking as it waits for opponents to arrive. The Kings host Anaheim on Tuesday and Carolina on Friday in the middle two of a four-game homestand.