Your Call: What has been the NHL's biggest surprise so far? Staff

10/25/2011 12:46:47 AM

It's early in the 2011-12 season but there is already lots to talk about for hockey fans.

Phil Kessel has led the Maple Leafs to a hot start in Toronto while the Canadiens are struggling early in Montreal. After another early playoff exit in Washington last year, the Capitals have bounced back with a perfect start to the season. Sidney Crosby is still out, but that hasn't stopped the Pittsburgh Penguins from bursting out of the gate to lead the Atlantic Division. And two unlikely teams are atop the Western Conference - the young Colorado Avalanche and the low-spending Dallas Stars.

Our question to you is: what has been the biggest surprise so far this season?

Kessel and the Leafs: The Leafs are coming off a 4-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers but still lead the Northeast Division with an impressive 5-2-1 record and leading the team's quick start is Kessel. The third-year Leaf leads the league in both goals (9) and points (15) so far this season. While it's unlikely Kessel will be able to keep this pace up for a full year, his early season performance is likely what Leafs president and GM Brian Burke envisioned when he traded two first-round draft picks for him.

Canadiens slow out of the gate: Montreal's 2-1 loss to the Florida Panthers dropped their record to 1-5-2 to start the year. It also meant that for the first time in team history, the Habs lost their first five games at home. A number of key players, such as P.K. Subban and Erik Cole, are off to underwhelming starts as fan unrest has started to build.

Washington still undefeated: Everyone knew they would be good this year, but after last year's second-round playoff exit to the Tampa Bay Lightning, there were some question marks coming into this season as to just how good the Capitals would be. But the Caps are answering those questions by jumping out to a perfect 7-0 record; they are the only remaining undefeated team in the league.

No Crosby, No problem: Sidney Crosby has yet to return from his concussion problems from last season, and Evgeni Malkin has only suited up for three games thus far this season, but the Penguins continue to play well - and lead their division with a 6-2-2 record. In Crosby and Malkin's absence, numerous other players have stepped up, including James Neal, who is second only to Kessel in goals scored - with eight.

Colorado turnaround: The Avalanche finished second last in the league last year and are now tied atop the Western Conference with a 6-2 record. Rebuilding efforts usually take longer, but the team's young talent, including second-overall draft pick Gabriel Landeskog, has gotten off to a quick start to excel the process.

No drop-off in Dallas: The Stars finished just two points out of the playoffs last year, but had a somewhat tumultuous off-season that could have precluded a drop-off in production this year. As the franchise figures out its ownership situation, player payroll has declined to the point where the Stars had to trade for a player to reach the salary floor earlier this season. But all of this hasn't stopped the team from jumping out to a 6-2 record and a share of the conference lead.

You've heard what we've had to say, now it's your turn. What has been the biggest surprise in the NHL so far this season? As always, it's Your! Call.