Nash to the Net
Don't look now, but Columbus winger Rick Nash is quietly off to a good start with five goals and nine points in seven games. If he can maintain that 45-goal pace, it would be a career-high for the 2004 Maurice Richard Trophy winner (when he scored 41 times as a 19-year-old). And, at 3-3-1, Nash's Blue Jackets Â– under the ever-watchful eye of coach Ken Hitchcock Â– are off to a respectable start for a change. Nash has been skating with center Michael Peca and right winger Nikolai Zherdev Â– who, with a goal and six points, is showing signs of finally playing up to his vast potential.
Dany Heatley scores the goals, Jason Spezza collects the assists and Daniel Alfredsson gets the points. That's how they do it in Ottawa, where all three first-liners rank in the NHL's top 10 in scoring. With seven goals in nine games, Heatley is well on his way to a third consecutive 50-goals season; he trails only eight-goal scorers Daymond Langkow in Calgary and Mike Cammalleri in Los Angeles. Spezza leads all NHLers with 11 assists Â– his one goal was the game-winner against Montreal Oct. 18 Â– while Alfredsson leads the triumvirate with 13 points. Meantime, Mike Fisher is centering a second unit that features Randy Robitaille, signed out of Russia last week, and tough guy Chris Neil. So, the Sens aren't exactly spreading out their offensive weapons, but at 8-1-0, it's hard to argue with the results.
Crosby vs. Ovechkin
Washington sniper opened the 2007-08 season with one point in six consecutive games, before being blanked by Sidney Crosby's Penguins. Crosby, with an under-the-radar nine points in seven games, had one assist in that contest, which Pittsburgh won 2-1. The Pens and Caps don't meet again until Dec. 27.
The leading scorer right now from Crosby and Ovechkin's 2005-06 rookie class is neither The Kid nor Ovie Â– it's Anaheim's Ryan Getzlaf, whom you may remember from the Ducks' scintillating second line in the 2007 playoffs. Getzlaf, who at times has a bit of a Mark Messier thing going on, has three goals and 10 points in nine games; linemate Corey Perry, another 2005 first-year prodigy, has five goals and seven points.
The Ducks aren't going gangbusters Â– they started the season 4-5-1; last season, their fifth regulation-time loss came in Game 38 on Dec. 23 Â– but with Getzlaf, Perry (and Chris Kunitz, too, yet another 2005 rook) leading the way, the Ducks should float back towards the top of the Western Conference before long.
Eight games into the season, the Thrashers have already fired their coach (Bob Hartley, after an 0-6-0 start) and, at 1-7-0, are about one more bad week from falling out of the East playoff race entirely. Which is tough to do in October.
Avs at home
Colorado is 4-0-0 at home Â– and 0-4-0 away from the Pepsi Center. The Avs also have scored 26 goals and allowed 26. After rallying back from a 4-0 deficit to beat Calgary 5-4 in a shootout Oct. 16 Â– at home, natch Â– the Avs lost 5-3 in Chicago and 3-2 at Minnesota on the weekend.
Calling Michael Nylander
Jaromir Jagr, Scott Gomez, Chris Drury, Brendan Shanahan, Martin StrakaÂ…So how is it the Rangers are 2-4-1 and have only scored 13 goals in seven games?