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Poll: Which hot start surprises you the most?

Oct 14, 2013, 10:11 AM EDT

Sean Monahan #23 of the Calgary Flames celebrates after scoring the game-winning goal against the New Jersey Devils during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on October 11, 2013 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The Calgary Flames defeated the New Jersey Devils 3-2.
(October 10, 2013 - Source: Derek Leung/Getty Images North America) Getty Images

We’re roughly two weeks into the regular season and naturally there’s been some surprises along the way. Which begs the question, which of these caught you off guard the most? While we’re at it, which of these hot teams are most likely to actually have a successful campaign?

Toronto: 5-1-0 — After their collapse in the first round of the 2013 playoffs, the Maple Leafs have come out swinging this season. Newcomer Jonathan Bernier has been great while five different players — including Mason Raymond — are averaging a point-per-game.

Colorado: 5-0-0 — Avalanche coach Patrick Roy took over a rebuilding team and has made them instantly dominant. Goaltender Semyon Varlamov has a 1.00 GAA and .970 save percentage while rookie Nathan MacKinnon has a team-leading six points in five games. Overall they’ve outscored their competition 18-4.

Calgary: 3-0-2 — They were a popular pick to finish dead last in the NHL and so far they haven’t lost a game in regulation time. That’s partially thanks to rookie Sean Monahan, who has four goals and six points in five games, but it’s Jiri Hudler that leads the team with seven points.

  1. gooterbaby - Oct 14, 2013 at 10:29 AM

    There is no way Colorado keeps this pace up with how many shots they give up a game.Their depth is good at forward but there are not enough two-way players on their team and with their lack of depth on the defense it’s astonishing how good they are playing.

    • petemagoop - Oct 14, 2013 at 10:33 AM

      COL and TO will probably both finish above 500 – CAL, not a chance

    • hockey412 - Oct 14, 2013 at 10:35 AM

      They don’t really have to keep that pace, though – as long as Roy can keep the youngsters from losing faith, they’ve got a shot to keep winning more than they lose. They’ve beaten Boston, Anaheim, Toronto, Washington, and Nashville….by no means easy teams. I agree it’s astonishing – clearly showing that the talent is there.

      • natethegreat58 - Oct 14, 2013 at 6:43 PM

        I live in Nashville. They are horrendous.

    • hockey412 - Oct 14, 2013 at 11:00 AM

      And you know, you brought up another interesting point…with the lack of defensive depth, and almost $13M in cap space, why wouldn’t they be making a play for D-men going on the waiver? Liles cleared, Washington picked up Urbom (Col. could have got him first I believe, unless I’m confused)…seems like some options were out there for depth?

      • pxland - Oct 14, 2013 at 11:12 AM

        Maybe the waiver wire is a good place for depth, but in my opinion the Avs have enough “depth” type players. They need D-men who can elevate the overall skill level of their defense.

        I expect a trade at some point to add a top 2 defenseman.

      • andidee15 - Oct 14, 2013 at 12:22 PM

        I agree with pxland. We need a Top 2 defenseman. Even if it hurts our forward/goaltending a bit, I fully expect to see a blockbuster trade before the deadline. It pushes everyone down a spot so they aren’t playing above their heads as much. Fix that one area, and a bunch of others fall into place.

      • mrpinkca - Oct 14, 2013 at 3:31 PM

        You’re not getting the kind of help Colorado needs off the waiver wire.

        Also, as I understand it the Av’s operate under an internal cap.

    • joey4id - Oct 14, 2013 at 1:15 PM

      Hold on, gooterbaby. It’s easy to throw out a comment without supporting data, and very misleading. The facts are: Avs were outshot 3 of 5 games, their differential shots for vs shots against is only -3. The worse game was vs the Caps where they were outshot 21 to 48. Their average shots against per game is 34. Sure! A little lower is preferable, but don’t let one game skew your perception. The shots against stats is certainly not alarming. They’re perfect of the PK. Finally, their goals against average is 0.80. Yes! 0.80. And you’re using shots against as the reason why they can’t keep up the pace. Doesn’t sound like a very objective comment. 0.80 and they don’t have enough two way players. Remember! Roy is still teaching his system. So, sit back and watch the transformation of a team performed with orchestration by a future Jack Adams award winner.

    • avscup - Oct 14, 2013 at 6:42 PM

      Funny how some people don’t understand the game. The AVS have plenty of depth at D. On paper they lack depth but the game is not played there unless of course you never played the game.

  2. greej1938l - Oct 14, 2013 at 10:50 AM

    All are really good choices

  3. comeonnowguys - Oct 14, 2013 at 11:03 AM

    Sharks, Flames, Leafs.

  4. bleedingteal4life - Oct 14, 2013 at 11:19 AM

    Comeonnowguys, San Jose didn’t make this list. This is because they always start strong. If they can consistently keep this pace thru mid season, then u can put them on your list of surprises.

  5. jhuck92 - Oct 14, 2013 at 12:07 PM

    “…Patrick Roy took over a rebuilding team and has made them instantly dominant.”

    That says it all right there. They’re a perfect 5-0-0, but they’ve been dominant in those games. BOTH goalies look sharp and the offense obviously does its job. My only concern is the defense. They’re giving up too many shots (the cynic would say 1 is too many, but whatever). Patrick Roy is my coach of the year candidate at this point in the season.
    However, they could be like the Sharks of last season, going a perfect 7-0-0 and then dropping the next seven games. Who knows.

    • andidee15 - Oct 14, 2013 at 12:40 PM

      It will be interesting to see how much of a stabilizing effect Roy has on the Avs. When the kiddos went into free fall mode in the past, Sacco wasn’t able to stop it, so we ended up with seasons like 2010-11 where we looked great in the first half before finishing 5-26-2.

      Injuries had a lot to do with it, and our organizational depth has improved, but again, I think a lot of this team’s success is going to depend on how Roy handles losses. The players have responded amazingly to him so far – that little partition incident helped immensely with team cohesion – so it wouldn’t surprise me if this was the first year since 2010 that we didn’t have an epic losing streak.

      We’re running really hot right now, especially our goaltending, but one good trade for a top defenseman would move this team from a pure “lucky” category to a “has a legitimate chance” category. Roy also has a major hand in trades, so it’s possible that his response to losing is to move people in a blockbuster. Either way, Roy hates to lose, so it’s going to be extremely interesting to see how he handles the team this year.

      • avscup - Oct 14, 2013 at 7:38 PM

        Who would you trade off the D? Johnson has played his best hockey ever so far. Hejda has been very solid. Benoit was a great addition and Sarich has been the best of the bunch. Guennon is playing like he belongs there and we just got Wilson back and he is solid. Of those 6, who deserves to be sent away? I think the problem has been the prior thought of drafting smaller, fast, so called puck moving D. That doesn’t work so well when your top 3 lines are small or below average. Besides, I have yet to see any player move the puck faster than they can pass it.

        Patrick will not be making any trades until the wheels start to come off and I’m not so sure that will happen. This team is working hard and every player knows they need to do that to keep their spot on the roster. It’s no secret playing for Patrick means working hard every night. For that, you will receive ice time and a fair evaluation.

  6. endusersolutions2013 - Oct 14, 2013 at 12:07 PM

    The article and comments have focused on “upside surprises”. How about downside?

    I nominate the “Metropolitain” division overall, and NYR and Caps specifically.

    • endusersolutions2013 - Oct 14, 2013 at 12:15 PM

      And for personal dissapointments associated with the team disappointments, Lunqvist and Holtby.

      • imleftcoast - Oct 14, 2013 at 3:24 PM

        Lunqvist can no longer stay on his goal. He’s got to be out challenging.

        Carey Price is a surprise to me. Getting the goaltending coach from Chicago was a masterstroke. Price has found his game.

      • comeonnowguys - Oct 14, 2013 at 4:37 PM

        More than Bolland, or anyone else, Waite was the key loss for the Blackhawks.

    • chanceoffleury1 - Oct 14, 2013 at 9:34 PM

      agreed. As a Pens fan, if they don’t dominate the Metropolitain division I’ll be disappointed. Devils, Caps, Flyers, and Rangers have been disturbingly disappointed. All of them have Top 5 position players playing for their team and are still just not even close to the level they should be at.

  7. endusersolutions2013 - Oct 14, 2013 at 12:20 PM

    On the personal upside surprises, there is Semyon Varlamov, Josh Harding (the ultimate “feel good” upside), Steve Mason, Tomas Hertl

  8. jernster21 - Oct 14, 2013 at 1:29 PM

    I’m a huge Avs fan (which comes as a huge surprise to many, I’m sure) and I want them to ride out this win streak as long as they can, but as I’ve said to numerous people, the real test comes the game after their 1st loss. Dallas should be a good test – we didn’t play too well against them in preseason; Lehtonon being in the IR should help. It’s easy to get on that “high” of winning, but what happens to this young team once they face a little adversity? If they come out after a loss and thump somebody, I’ll really believe that the culture of the team is different.

    A couple comments though: yeah, it’s 5 games, but they have 10 points right now, 10 points that they won’t have to make up at the end of the year if they’re in a tight playoff hunt. Also, while they’re giving up a lot of shots – they aren’t giving up a ton of quality scoring chances. I don’t care how many shots they’re giving up when they’re low quality chances from the outside. And as far as depth on the backend – they’ve been playing so well that Holden hasn’t even had a chance to break into the lineup. I can tell you that Barrie doesn’t want to be getting scratched every night and Holden is chomping at the bit waiting to get in, but Guenin is playing so well who knows when that’ll happen. A good problem to have right now in my opinion. With that said, picking up someone like Liles isn’t going to help this team. With the price tag attached to Liles, it actually makes no sense at all. You don’t pay 3m+ to a depth guy when Benoit, Holden and Guenin are playing pretty damn well right now, all under 1m.

    • annaflixion - Oct 14, 2013 at 2:36 PM

      I agree that a loss will likely show their character . . . ideally, I’d like them not to *have* to show much character this season, though, heh. But I think Roy will definitely be able to coach them through a loss or two. He’s already given them a taste of winning, and I’m sure that (along with all the positive attention they’ve been receiving for it) will help them to remember the carrot. I assume when they lose Roy will bring out the stick (he doesn’t strike me as the sort of man who would work with nothing BUT the carrot) but only if they actually deserve it. Either way, I think it’s exciting to see how he handles them. Varlamov and Giguere have, I think, benefitted tremendously from having a legendary goaltender coach them. They’ve all been playing well and I’m definitely interested to see how far they can go this year. I hope they keep surprising me, because it’s nice.

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