MONTREAL – The goals kept going in, especially on the power play, in the second week of the lockout-shortened NHL season.
Here’s a look at the highs and lows of the past week:
1. Thomas Vanek: The Austrian left winger is already almost a quarter of the way to last season’s 61 points after only six contests for the Buffalo Sabres. This week he became the first player since Mario Lemieux in 1992-93 to post two five-point games in the first seven games of a season. His 15 points took over the league lead. If he maintains this rate, he’ll have 120 points in 48 games.
2. Marton or Thornleau? Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton dominated the opening week and kept on scoring through the second as the San Jose Sharks improved to 7-0-0. Marleau is the first Shark to score in five games to start a season and is the first player since Cy Denneny in 1917-18 to begin a campaign with four multi-point games. Thornton merely leads the league with 11 assists.
3. Craig Anderson: The 10-year veteran has been a wall in the Ottawa Senators’ net, building a 5-0-1 record and taking league leads with an 0.99 goals-against average and a .967 save percentage. A typical outing came Wednesday, when he gave up an early goal and stoned Montreal the rest of the way, robbing Brandon Prust twice from the doorstep in the third period.
4. Chad Johnson: Fans could be forgiven for asked ‘Chad who?’ when the journeyman goaltender replaced Mike Smith in the struggling Phoenix Coyotes net this week. Then the 26-year-old from Calgary shut out the Nashville Predators in his first start since the 2010-11 season and only his seventh NHL game overall.
5. Power play madness: Last season, Nashville led the league with a 21.6 per cent success rate on the power play. The league average was 17.0 per cent. So far this season, 12 teams are above the Predators’ 2011-12 average, led by the New York Islanders at a whopping 37.5 per cent, St. Louis at 34.6, Edmonton at 31.4, San Jose at 30.8 and Tampa Bay at 30.0.
Dead Coyote: It looks like the Phoenix ownership mess will indeed go on forever. This week, prospective owner Greg Jamison missed a deadline to raise enough cash to land a lucrative arena management deal. Both Jamison and the NHL say there’s still time to find an ownership solution for the club that the league bought from U.S. Bankruptcy Court in 2009.
Jason Spezza: Maybe things were going too well for the Senators, so the hockey gods decided to take away their first-line centre. Spezza is expected to miss at least two months after suffering a herniated disc against Pittsburgh on Sunday. It hasn’t slowed the Sens down so far as they won back-to-back games without him this week.
Suspended: New York Islanders forward Colin McDonald got a two-game ban for hammering Pittsburgh’s Ben Lovejoy from behind, topping the one game the Flyers’ Brayden Schenn got the week before. The Isles keep winning games despite the bad news that seems to follow them around, like a report this week that top prospect Nino Niederreiter wants a trade.
No fives: The Montreal Canadiens’ new management played the grump by banning the popular triple low-fives victory celebration that Carey Price and P.K. Subban made famous. Coach Michel Therrien wants all celebrating done within a “team concept.” Now the team skates en masse to centre ice and raise their sticks to the crowd.
Patrick Kaleta: The Sabres right-winger was taken to hospital with a neck injury after a big hit by Toronto’s Mike Brown on Tuesday night. The main concern was that Kaleta has a history of neck and head injuries. He was released the next day but didn’t play Thursday in Boston. Brown got two minutes for boarding, but Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said it did not appear to be a dirty hit. No further discipline was handed out.