by Lauren Fredericks
Ever since the season began in mid-September, hockey news has been circling the sports world. The west is dominating the eastern teams and rookies are shining on the ice. Many teams are in very different positions than where they finished last season.
The Colorado Avalanche is in first overall this season, which is surprising considering they ranked last in the west last year. This season, like the Sharks, the Avalanche won their first six games. They now have a record of 12-1-0. This is partly due to the outstanding goaltending by Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who has two shutouts this season. Leading the NHL in wins and points, it is clear that the Avalanche is playing with energy and confidence.
The San Jose Sharks are close on the Avalanche’s heels. After their unbelievable start last year and long-term injuries to two important players, Martin Havlat and Raffi Torres, their future was not looking bright. However, thanks to superb goaltending by Anti Niemi, great effort by co-captain Patrick Marleau, and new rookie Tomas Hertl, the Sharks have a record of 10-1-3 this season. After winning their first six games, the Sharks became the first team in NHL history to win the first six games of the season two years in a row. Sharks goalie Anti Niemi is the first goalie this season to have a shutout in both regulation and overtime.
With every new season also comes a new crop of players. This season nineteen-year-old Sean Monahan of the Calgary Flames has already scored a team-high six goals in the first nine games. Ranked eighteenth overall in goals scored, Monahan has blended well with his team, who has decided to keep him for the rest of the season.
Although they are ranked twenty-ninth out of thirty NHL teams, the Edmonton Oilers consider themselves lucky to have rookie Mark Arcobello. Although he is just five foot eight inches, Arcobello has proved himself to his team by assisting on ten goals, making him first overall in rookie assists.
Rookie Tomas Hertl of the San Jose Sharks has no questions about his future with hockey. Besides being ranked first in rookie goals and points, Hertl has also been named one of the NHL’s three stars of the season. He scored four goals in a single game, the youngest player to do so since the LA King’s Jimmy Carson in 1988. All three players are serious contenders for Rookie of the Year.
While the Avalanche’s victories delight fans, some teams are shocked to find themselves at the bottom. Just two teams away from making the playoffs last year, the Philadelphia Fliers are ranked twenty-sixth out of thirty NHL teams. They have the second least amount of points, the second worst power play in the NHL, and just four wins. The Columbus Blue Jackets, who were just one team away from the playoffs last year, are now struggling in twenty-third place. Ranked twenty-sixth in points, it does not help matters that one of their star players, Dave Bolland, is also out indefinitely due to an ankle injury.
With hockey season now in full swing, fans watch to see what will happen next. With talented rookies and rivalries between the East and the West teams, the 2013-2014 season is bound to be exciting.
Sources: ESPN, NHL