We could ask a lot of questions this week, such as "Hey, where was last week's question?" or "What the hell, Versus?!?". But no, on a day when we wake up to find the Florida Panthers in first place, the question has to be "What are the biggest surprises so far this season?".
Every team is right around 20% into their schedules and the Oilers, Maple Leafs and Wild are near the top of their conferences while the Red Wings, Bruins and Canucks are near the bottom. At this point and as we progress, if a team is doing well (or not so much), it becomes difficult to dismiss their performance as a fluke. So, our question to you (with answers from some of the Raw Charge staff below) is: Now that we're fully into the season, what team has surprised you so far, performing better or worse than you predicted, and do you think it will continue? Let us know what you think in the comments below!
Cassie McClellan - Managing Editor / Raw Charge
The obvious surprises are both Edmonton and Toronto being in second place in their respective conferences. I don't think anyone had that pegged. Boston and Vancouver - the Stanley Cup Final matchup from just five months ago - both struggling horribly are also big surprises. The perennial Cup favorite Detroit also struggling is sort of hard to fathom as well.As for the rest of the league, they're about where I would've expected them to be. I'm not surprised that Florida's much better than they were. They've gelled well together and are doing alright.
Matt Amos - Staff Writer / Don't Trade Vinny
I think the real surprise has been the Edmonton Oilers. They sit in first place in a division that has the reigning Western Conference champion Vancouver Canucks in it. Why? A return to form (sobriety?) for Nikolai Khabibulin, a beautiful homecoming so far for Ryan Smyth, and stud youngsters like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and co having unreal success.
Do I think it can last? Nope. It is the Oilers.
I honestly didn't expect Columbus to be this bad. They have been just a cluster**** of awful to the point that I feel bad for them. Don't know how someone hasn't been fired yet in that organization.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Oilers have been surprisingly good. I can already see myself cursing them for being so good for the next 10 years.
John Fontana - Managing Editor / Raw Charge
Teams. Plural. And they are both in the West. Everyone wrote off the Dallas Stars. No more Brad Richards. ownership woes... And yet they are cruising in the Pacific Division at current with 22 points in 14 games played. They're on top of the Conference. Can they continue? The West is a lot more competetive than the East, and holding the top spot may not last... But they'll likely finish far better than people expected.
Then we go to the Columbus Blue Jackets… With all the major waves that the club made during the 2011 off-season, bringing in Jeff Carter and such, the Jackets have only 5 points on the season. Scott Arniel was one of the more sought-after coaches in 2010 and likely the next to be fired if things don’t improve for the Blue Jackets. I can’t see it getting much worse for them, but I can’t see a grand turn around (a-la the New Jersey Devils in 2010-11) either.