Believe it or not Boston Bruins fans, but the NHL season is already two weeks old.
While the Bruins have only played four games thus far, plenty of other teams already have five or six games done in their season. In fact, looking at the Atlantic Division, the Bruins are the only team to not play five games yet.
If you’ve checked out the standings, you’ll be pretty surprised to see who is close to the top. I’ll give you a hint – it’s two teams that were expected to be at the bottom of the barrel. As mentioned, it’s super early in the season, but there have been some shocking starts to the years for a few squads in the division.
Even so, there has been enough hockey to get a feel where each team is at to start the season. So let’s take our first dive into the division and see how the rest of the Atlantic foes have played to begin the year.
Florida Panthers (5-0-0, 10 points)
The Panthers got rolling last year and everyone waited for them to fall off. It never happened and Florida has picked up right where it left off last season, ripping off five straight wins to start the season. It’s not against chumps either – the team has wins over the Penguins, Islanders, Lightning, Avalanche and Flyers.
The offense is humming for the Panthers, who have scored at least four goals in every game. They’ve outscored their opponents 23-9 so far. Jonathan Huberdeau continues to be one of the most underrated forwards in the league, leading the way with six points. Anton Lundell is going to be a sneaky Calder Trophy candidate with five points already. Sam Bennett fits in perfectly on this team, with a team-high four goals. Oh, and both Sergei Bobrovsky and Spencer Knight have sub-2.00 GAA and SV% above .940. Everything is clicking early for the Cats.
Buffalo Sabres (3-1-1, seven points)
A likely misleading start, but this is not at all the Sabres team people expected. Everyone thought they would roll over and just get slaughtered all year. Nope, this team is here to compete and they won’t make any game easy.
You look at their wins and they are against the Canadiens, Coyotes and Canucks. Not exactly top contenders. The Bruins beat them, as well as the Devils. Again, not a team that will be competing by the end, but credit where credit is due, Don Granato has this team playing competitive hockey and Buffalo won’t be a complete joke like most thought.
(If you do want a chuckle, Colin Miller leads this team in points and Zemgus Girgensons and Kyle Okposo are in a tie with Victor Olofsson for second. Who would have guessed?!)
Detroit Red Wings (3-2-1, seven points)
Another one of the more misleading teams, but the Red Wings have had flashes where they look real good, especially their youngsters. Lucas Raymond is fresh off of a hat trick, the first Red Wings player 19 or younger to score a hat trick since Steve Yzerman in 1985 and just the third player that age or younger to score four points in a game, joining Yzerman and Gordie Howe. He is first among rookies in scoring (seven points) and behind him is fellow Red Wing Moritz Seider (five).
Detroit has wins over the Canucks, Blue Jackets and Blackhawks, so not exactly extremely impressive. They also got beat up pretty good by the Canadians 6-1 for the Habs lone win. With the Capitals, Panthers and Maple Leafs up next, this team will fall before October is over, but it’ll be fun to follow Raymond and Seider.
Boston Bruins (3-1-0, six points)
I won’t dive into the Bruins as much, but they’ve looked about as good as expected. The top line is leading the way, as Brad Marchand has seven points and David Pastrnak has five. Linus Ullmark has looked a lot better in net than in the preseason and while Jeremy Swayman struggled last time out, you get the feeling that was an outlier that was inevitable.
The Bruins do have an extremely tough and telling stretch to end October with two games against the Panthers and one against the Hurricanes in a four-day stretch. I would say it’s their first true tests of the season to gauge where they are at in comparison to the other top teams in the league.