A quarter of the way through the NHL season, a look at NHL awards and some goal and shot differential leaders:
It's a close race between the league's two top scorers, but the slight edge to Stamkos, who is just off goal-per-game pace.
An unbelievable start for Liles, whose best year so far has been his rookie season (2005-2006: 49 points, plus-5), but is the only D-man with at least 20 points and a plus-10 rating through the first quarter.
Many contenders, but Plekanec remains a two-way force who scores a point-per-game yet is effective on the penalty kill and 5-on-5.
Phenomenal starts for all three, but tough to beat Thomas' 1.46 goals against average and .955 save percentage.
Bobrovsky has allowed two goals or fewer in 11 of 17 starts and a .925 save percentage gives the Flyers more stability than expected in goal. Couture leads all rookies in goals (8) and shots on goal (70), while Skinner tops the freshman points race (17).
Winner: Guy Boucher, Tampa Bay
Runners-up: Dave Tippett, Phoenix; Craig Ramsey, Atlanta; Scott Arniel, Columbus
Perhaps not surprisingly, first-year coaches are having an immediate effect on their new teams, but had to include Tippett again, as he's guided the Coyotes to top spot in the Pacific Division.
Digging in, just a little for some deeper stats from the always awesome www.behindthenet.ca:
First, the best goal differentials (5-on-5, per 60 minutes, minimum 12 games played):
Obviously, the Flyers' depth has been outstanding, with their third defensive pairing much more stable than in last year's playoffs and a young forward, Andreas Nodl, is emerging as a contributor. Montreal's doing okay with a couple of guys who would generally be considered spare parts, defenceman Alexandre Picard and veteran winger Mathieu Darche.
On the other hand, the worst goal differentials (5-on-5, per 60 minutes, minimum 12 games played):
|517.||James Wisniewski||D||N.Y. Islanders||-2.62|
|518.||John Tavares||C||N.Y. Islanders||-2.62|
|521.||Matt Martin||LW||N.Y. Islanders||-2.89|
|522.||Jon Sim||LW||N.Y. Islanders||-2.93|
|524.||Kevin Westgarth||LW||Los Angeles||-3.34|
|526.||Kyle Clifford||LW||Los Angeles||-4.18|
Not altogether surprising to have four Islanders in the bottom ten, and tough guys tend to fare either really well or really poorly because of their limited playing time. Perhaps the most troubling then, would be Shaone Morrisonn, who has struggled in Buffalo, or Andrew Cogliano, who isn't developing as hoped in Edmonton.
Going beyond the goals, a look at the best shot differentials (5-on-5, per 60 minutes, minimum 12 games played):
|4.||Joe Pavelski||C||San Jose||14.0|
|5.||Adam Hall||RW||Tampa Bay||14.0|
|6.||Nate Thompson||C||Tampa Bay||13.8|
|9.||Ryane Clowe||LW||San Jose||12.6|
The Sharks' second line, featuring Pavelski and Clowe, is one of the league's best, so no shock to see that they tend to control play, while the Sabres' second unit hasn't finished as well despite their territorial advantage. Impressive to see Tampa Bay's fourth liners contributing too.
The worst shot differentials (5-on-5, per 60 minutes, minimum 12 games played):
|524.||Erik Christensen||C||N.Y. Rangers||-15.7|
Lots of grinders, though Christensen has seen time with Marian Gaborik and Alexander Frolov in New York. Tough times for Paajarvi as he's adjusting to the North American game with a young team that is struggling and Oduya -- the only defenceman in the bottom ten -- strangely enough, plays more than 22 minutes per game for the Thrashers.