What has been biggest surprise of NHL season?

November 01, 2010

Devil of a situation

Helene Elliott

Los Angeles Times

The Devils' poor start after they threw $100 million at winger Ilya Kovalchuk is the biggest stunner so far this season — and a source of great amusement to rival general managers who foresaw the salary-cap problems general manager Lou Lamoriello would have after such an extravagant signing.

The Devils can't score, goaltender Martin Brodeur has suddenly aged about a decade and coach John MacLean could win the first-coach-fired pool if he doesn't win some games soon.

In the West, the Kings' strong start isn't a huge surprise — they have been touted as potential Pacific Division winners or a conference finalist — but they made a strong statement in winning three of five on a tough trip while Norris Trophy runner-up Drew Doughty was recovering from a concussion. And goalie Jonathan Quick has played like a man who wants to keep the starting spot.

helliott@tribune.com

Lightning recovery

Chris Korman

Baltimore Sun

That the Flyers, who made it to the Stanley Cup finals last year, are off to a lousy start isn't surprising.

They were so bad in the first half of last season that they got their coach fired, then backed into the playoffs on the last day. It took a comeback within a comeback — the Flyers trailed the Bruins 3-0 in the series, then 3-0 in the seventh game — to win the Eastern Conference semifinals. This is just how the Flyers work.

The real surprise is that new Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman has found a way to quickly build around 20-year-old Steven Stamkos, who leads the league with 18 points in nine games. The Lightning haven't been to the playoffs since 2007, have a new head coach and revamped roster — and are somehow 6-2-1.

ckorman@tribune.com

Woe, New Jersey

Harvey Fialkov

Sun Sentinel

It didn't take long for first-year GM Steve Yzerman to sprinkle his Red Wings dust on the phenom-loaded Lightning, who after missing the playoffs three years running have a league-best 13 points behind superstar Steve Stamkos' league-leading 18 points.

The most shocking surprise has to be the Devils, who despite locking up scoring machine Ilya Kovalchuk for 15 years, are 2-5-1 (0-4-1 at home) after finishing second in the Eastern Conference with 103 points. The Devils have reached the playoffs in 19 of the last 20 seasons, including three Stanley Cups.

GM Lou Lamoriello, who stuck with aging goalie Martin Brodeur, is no doubt sharpening his worn ax for the neck of first-year coach John MacLean, who since benching his $100 million man has lost three straight by a combined 15-4 score.

hfialkov@tribune.com

A Devils disaster

Chris Kuc

Chicago Tribune

What in the wide world of Martin Brodeur is going on in New Jersey?

The dismal start by the Devils, who have sunk to the bottom of the Eastern Conference faster than you can say "Kovalchuk," is surprising in its suddenness and completeness. It was clear the Devils were aging, but no one could have imagined how quickly New Jersey would fall off the radar in the East.

The Devils are a mess at both ends of the ice, on special teams and even in the crease, where Brodeur hasn't been able to bail out his teammates.

At the forward position, what used to sound like a lineup of All-Stars hasn't made opposing goalies flinch.

It would be hard to imagine a more disastrous start for a team than what has transpired in New Jersey.

ckuc@tribune.com

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.