With most teams are around a third of the way through their 2016-17 campaigns, there have been a few surprises this season and a few teams that have kept up their play in a ‘business as usual’ manner. The Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers are the two point leaders in this relatively young season. Both teams have 41 points, with the Chicago Blackhawks hot on their tails at 40. The Colorado Avalanche and the Arizona Coyotes come in at the bottom of the league, each with a mere 23 points this season. These early season results stand as no surprise to most fans of the game. However, there are a few teams that are pulling things together that have started to trend upward.
Starting with the Columbus Blue Jackets, the team is riding a six-game win streak, with top line play being the citing source for this surge. Cam Atkinson, Nick Foligno, Alexander Wennberg and Brandon Saad headline the scoring leaders for the team. Each player mentioned has tallied over 20 points this season, which has led to a balanced attack on the offensive side of the ice.
Defenseman Zach Werenski’s stellar play has provided a nice piece on the defensive side. The 19-year-old rookie is among the rookie scoring leaders and has a solid positive +/- going. Scott Hartnell has brought the veteran leadership role to a team that was desperately in need of some guidance. Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky has been brilliant this season winning 15 out of his 22 started contests. Their surge is no joke and they could climb a tough Metropolitan division as the season wears on.
Another team that has been streaking lately is the Calgary Flames. The Flames contend in a rather winnable Pacific division and their 5-game win streak comes at just the right point in the season. They have turned their play around with first-year head coach Glen Gulutzan and find themselves sitting just behind Edmonton and Anaheim. Johnny Gaudreau has finally been deemed healthy and has put up solid numbers in only 20 games played this season. The tale of the rookie performance continues with Matthew Tkachuk. Scoring 12 total points through 26 games, the 18-year-old Arizona native has found his place on this squad.
An unexpected boost to their team has come at the glove and stick play of goaltender Chad Johnson. Through 17 starts, Johnson has posted 12 wins against 4 losses. His play has really given this team a boost as of late and has made up for the early season woes Brian Elliott has faced. Look for the team to lean on Johnson and the play of their young wingers to lead them to victories moving forward.
They can’t all be winners and that has been made evident by two teams lately: The Arizona Coyotes and the Florida Panthers. The Coyotes dismal season comes at no surprise being that they are in a rebuilding mindset. They have a lot of younger guys who are trying to find their place in the NHL and lack the veteran leadership that other teams possess. The team that has been surprisingly bad are the Florida Panthers. Losers of 4 straight contests, the Panthers are struggling to find their groove. This team has placed near the top or at the top of Atlantic division as far as recent memory can be served. The team should rebound and lean on the guys that have done it for them in the past.