With the first few weeks of the NHL season in the books, there’s been plenty of surprises already. Even Opening Night had some big shockers, none more so than rookie netminder Sergei Bobrovsky stealing his first NHL win against the Pittsburgh Penguins. From unusually cold goalies to some quick starting teams, here’s the five biggest early-season surprises.

Hot Starts From Unexpected Teams: Last year, the Toronto Maple Leafs were dead last in their conference. You wouldn’t know it from the way they started this season, going 4-0-0 through their first four games, with wins over Ottawa, Montreal, Pittsburgh and the New York Rangers. The Leafs cooled off a bit last week, dropping games to the Rangers, Islanders and Flyers, but they’re still already miles ahead of their 0-7-1 start from a year ago. While Phil Kessel’s six goals in seven games might not surprise anyone, Clarke MacArthur’s six goals should, especially considering the Leafs grabbed him for $1.1 million this offseason. In the Pacific Division out west, the Dallas Stars were supposed to be the odd team out this year. A 5-2-0 start has them sitting atop the the Division after seven games, while their +7 goal differential leads the conference.

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*Rough Times for Former Vezina Winners:’ Considered by most to be two of, if not the two best goalies in the world, Martin Brodeur and Ryan Miller are cornerstones of their clubs. With that established, there’s not much surprise that with both men struggling out of the gates, their clubs are in the bottom of their respective divisions. Miller’s been a bit better than Marty, with 3 wins and a 2.27 GAA through 8 games, but both players will be expecting a bit more from themselves. Brodeur’s current 2.78 GAA and .901 save percentage are worse than any of his previous seasons, where his worst GAA was a 2.57 in 2005-06. Could this finally be the year Brodeur starts showing his age?*Goals Aplenty on Long Island:’ With 26 goals through 8 games, the Islanders have scored more goals than any other team except the Pittsburgh Penguins and defending champion Chicago Blackhawks. What’s even more impressive is that they’ve done it without the services of two of their top players from last year, as Kyle Okposo and Mark Streit were both lost to injury. P.A. Parenteau currently leads the club with 7 assists and 9 points, while defenseman James Wisniewsky has shown some impressive skill on the powerplay, notching 8 points of his own already. Matt Moulson, Blake Comeau and John Tavares all join Wisniewski and Parenteau in the group of five Islander players currently situated in the top 20 NHL point scorers.

Len robinson
Sports Pundit member

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