NHL Hat Trick: Do Some Top Teams Have Staying Power?

Matt SitkoffCorrespondent INovember 15, 2010

PHILADELPHIA - NOVEMBER 01:  Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky #35 of the Philadelphia Flyers skates against the Carolina Hurricanes on November 1, 2010 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Flyers defeat the Hurricanes 3-2.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The NHL season will hit its quarter mark in the next couple of weeks.

Some teams have limped their way into the first stretch while others have sprinted towards that first pole marker.  Before I review the three hottest teams out of the gate and break down their staying power, let’s hand out some awards.

MVP is Lightning’s Steven Stamkos, who leads the league in both goals (15) and points (28). 

Best goalie is the Bruins' Tim Thomas who just suffered his first loss of the year in his 10th start (8-1-0) and leads the league in save percentage (.957) and shutouts (3).

Rookie of the year we stay in the nets and give it to Flyers Sergei Bobrovsky who has 10 wins in his first 13 career starts and is near the top of the league in both save percentage (5th) and goals against average (7th). 

Now let’s break some hot teams down Pucking Awesome Hat Trick style.


The Flyers are starting to prove doubters of their amazing Stanley Cup run wrong early on this season.  My rookie of the year, Sergei Bobrovsky (22), is responsible for much of their fledgling success. But, they can also attest to the deep crop of forwards they can field each night. 

Seven skaters already have double digit points, with more than half of them having 15+ points.

The team as a whole is second in the league in goals per game (3.41), and the once struggling power play has found its stride scoring at 21.9 %, good for seventh in the league.  Their penalty kill has not been too shabby either ranked sixth in the league (86.8%).  Only the Canucks and Lightning also have both their PP and PK ranked in the top ten like the Flyers.  Also, only the Canucks and Kings are ranked in the top ten in both goals for and goals against like the surging Flyers.

The emergence of Claude Giroux as a superstar in the league has also paced the Flyers.

The former first round draft pick has 18 points in 17 games with four power play goals, three shorthanded goals and three game winning goals so far this season. His development along with the continued hot play of the Briere-Leino-Hartnell line has created matchup problems for opposing defenses. 

Speaking of defensesno team in the NHL can match the Flyers top six defenseman as the +20 third pairing of Andrej Meszaros and Sean O’Donnell combined. 

The depth of both the defense and offense is the reason why I believe the Flyers have staying power. Yes, they will need to figure out the “problem” of having three healthy goalies by the end of the month, but in my mind isn’t that a good “problem” to have.

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The Kings have come out of the gate blazing leading the Western Conference with a 12-3-0 record and undefeated in the City of Angels (8-0-0). 

This blossoming team has benefited from some solid goaltending as the Kings lead the league in goals against (1.87). Jonathan Quick is 10-1-0 and is third in the league in both GAA (1.52) and save percentage (.944) proving that his time in net is not winding down even with top prospect Jonathan Bernier on the roster. They always say your best penalty killer is your goalie and that is proven true as the Kings have the best penalty kill in the league (92.2%).

Offensively, they have benefited from having two lines that can score at anytime. The top line that features Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown and Scott Parse has 31 points combined. While, the second line of Jarret Stoll, Ryan Smyth and Justin Williams has 39 points between them all.  Justin Williams needs to stay healthy for this team to have staying power.  The 29-year-old has not played more than 50 games in a season since 2006-07 and in that year had 30 goals.  When healthy, the former first round pick of the Flyers is a dangerous goal scorer to have on your second line.

The team has been dealing with some injuries on defense, including losing superstar Drew Doughty for six games due to a concussion and lost veteran defenseman Willie Mitchell to a fractured left wrist. But, with their hot goalie play and the return of both Doughty and hard hitting Matt Greene they seem to be ok on the backline.  The Jonathan goalie tandem is the main reason I feel that the Kings have staying power.  The one thing you have to worry about is their offensive depth. As they are depending on frequently injured forwards like Williams and Smyth. They have already lost Alexei Ponikarovsky to injury.  


Like the Flyers, the Montreal Canadiens are trying to prove that their run to the Eastern Conference finals was not a fluke. So far, they are not disappointing and even more impressive is they are doing it without playoff hero Jaroslav Halak. 

The trade of Halak to the Blues this off-season was a highly debated topic around the league as once again golden boy Carey Price was given back his starting job. Price was even booed in his first pre-season start in Montreal as fans and experts alike continued to question the move.

Price, the only goaltender in hockey history to be named CHL Goaltender of the Year, World Junior Championship's tournament MVP and win the AHL Jack A. Butterfield Trophy, all in the same year, has responded.  The 23-year-old is 10-5-1 with a .923 save percentage and 2.18 GAA and has two shutouts already this season.  The former fifth overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft will be the key to this team having staying power for the entire season.

The usual dominant power play has been dormant while the usual dormant penalty kill has been dominant. The Canadiens rank second in the league on the PK (88.9%) but rank 20th on the PP (14.5%). Much of the non-success of the power play has to be pointed toward the injury of Andrei Markov. The veteran has only played in seven games this season and injured his knee again. Not good to have the player that has 194 career power play points not in the lineup. 

I think this team has limited staying power and like I said will depend a lot on Price, now even more so with the injury to Markov.  Another important key to them having staying power is to get more production out of their other playoff hero Michael Cammalleri, who only has four goals in the first 16 games.


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