Just over a week into the 2015-16 NHL season, six teams are still sitting with some glaring zeros in the standings. While the Montreal Canadiens and San Jose Sharks remain the only undefeated teams in the league, the Anaheim Ducks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Edmonton Oilers and New Jersey Devils are still looking for their first Ws.
Four of those six teams are in action on Saturday night, perhaps with a little something extra to compete for than their opponents as they look to either erase or defend those aforementioned zeros.
Columbus Blue Jackets (0-5-0)
The Jackets have stumbled out of the gate, with surplus goals against being the biggest issue. While Columbus’ scoring hasn’t been overwhelming (2.4 goals per game), it’s their 5.2 team goals-against average that’s killing them right now. Their anticipated top offensive producers are doing their part (Ryan Johansen – six points, Brandon Saad and Nick Foligno – four points each), but Sergei Bobrovsky’s 5.07 goals-against average and .835 save percentage each rank him worst in the NHL among goaltenders with at least two full games played so far. It doesn’t get any easier tonight as Columbus takes on the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Chicago Blackhawks.
Edmonton Oilers (0-4-0)
The Connor McDavid era in oil country has gotten off to a slippery start. Through four games, the Oilers are scoring at a 1.20 goals per game pace, while allowing 3.25 goals per game. Edmonton’s new goalie tandem of Cam Talbot and Anders Nilsson have been respectable, while no Oiler has recorded more than a single point so far. A positive sign for the club is that two of their losses were close, one-goal games before late empty-netters. This season’s Battle of Alberta begins tonight as Edmonton visits the Calgary Flames.
Montreal Canadiens (5-0-0)
The 2015-16 Canadiens made team history this week by becoming the first edition of the Habs to go 5-0 to start a season. Carey Price’s 1.25 goals-against average and .957 save percentage are making sure Montreal’s 3.2 goals per game are getting the job done. The Canadiens are also benefiting from a balanced offensive attack early, with eight players collecting three or more points through five games. Montreal defends its undefeated record tonight in a divisional matchup against the Detroit Red Wings.
San Jose Sharks (4-0-0)
After missing the playoffs last season for the first time since 2002-03, things are going right for the Sharks on both sides of the puck to start 2015-16. San Jose has the best team goals against in the league so far at just 0.5 goals per game, thanks in large part to the hot start of new goaltender Martin Jones. Jones either leads the NHL or shares the lead in wins (4), shutouts (2), goals-against average (0.49) and save percentage (.982) among goalies with at least 120 minutes played. The offense has been by committee, with six players collecting three or more points in the first four games. The Sharks will look to keep the hot start alive tonight when they visit the New York Islanders.