Best Head Coaching Debut
First game of his NHL coaching career and Patrick Roy gets a monster 6-1 win over the visiting Anaheim Ducks. Then he goes a little Hulk Hogan and tries to ram the glass partition separating the two teams' benches on top of opposing head coach Bruce Boudreau. The act cost Roy a $10,000 fine from the league but set the tone for one of the surprise starts to the season.
Most Disturbing Sight(s)
It wasn't just one but the sight of multiple players crumpled to the ice, sometimes needing stretchers to be taken from the ice after dirty hits (as was the case with Dan Boyle and Niklas Kronwall). Credit league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan for coming down hard on thugs and cheap-shot artists such as Patrick Kaleta, John Scott and Maxime Lapierre, but it's clear the league is still wrestling with how to take reckless plays and reckless players out of the game.
Most Enthusiastic Welcome For A Visiting Player
Teemu Selanne making his last visit to Winnipeg, where he first skated as an NHL player back in 1992. Winnipeg fans feted the great Finn in grand fashion as he winds his way to the end of a Hall of Fame career.
Best Welcome To The NHL Moment
San Jose Sharks rookie Tomas Hertl helped destroy the New York Rangers with a four-goal performance, including one of the early candidates for Goal of the Year: a delightful between-the-legs shot. The sad part? His goal and celebration became a talking point on whether he'd broken some sort of "code" regarding decorum for a young player. People, it's a game. Let's have some fun. Good for you, Tomas Hertl, for reminding us of that.
Moment That Reignited The Fighting Debate
The stomach-turning sight of George Parros unconscious on the ice after falling to the ice during a bout with Toronto heavyweight Colton Orr on the opening night of the season. Parros, signed by Montreal to police the Habs' lineup, returned to action exactly a month later.
Team Most Resembling The Titanic
This one is a toss-up between Edmonton and Buffalo, but with the Sabres finally making wholesale changes at the top with the firing of GM Darcy Regier and coach Ron Rolston, and the return of familiar faces Pat LaFontaine as the head of hockey operations and Ted Nolan as interim coach, at least it looks like the Sabres are addressing their problems. The Oilers? They just get mad at reporters as opposed to dealing with the issues at hand, which appear to be chronically poorly constructed teams.
Most Improved Player
Not sure it's necessarily a case of Alexander Steen improving in St. Louis -- he was always a very good player -- but rather a guy exerting himself in ways he hadn't before. Steen is surprisingly in the hunt for the goal-scoring lead and among the top point producers in the league. The Blues said they needed to look inward for offense if they were going to make good on their Stanley Cup promise, and Steen has thus far answered the bell.
Both Outstanding And Inspirational Performance
Josh Harding has been "the man" between the pipes for the Minnesota Wild this season. After going public with his diagnosis of multiple sclerosis before the start of last season, Harding has been a terrific role model for those suffering from the disease and has strung together quality starts this season to put the Wild in the mix in the Central Division. Also, he is near the top of the league in both goals-against average and save percentage.
Most Disappointing Performance
I have all the time in the world for Ray Emery for what he's accomplished in reviving his career in the face of a potentially devastating hip injury. He won a Cup. All that. But watching him hunt down and then batter Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals with his sad sack team trailing 7-0? Sad. Worse? The Flyers actually started playing better after the attack. Go figure.
Team Most Likely To Get Over A Poor First Quarter
Look for the Rangers to take advantage of getting healthy and playing in the worst division in the league to solidify their hold on a playoff spot after a gruesome start, and if the Penguins' late struggles continue, perhaps the division title itself.
Team Most Likely To Squander A Good Or At Least Decent First Quarter
The New York Islanders made the big move of the first quarter by acquiring Thomas Vanek from Buffalo. But team defense and goaltending are still problems we figure will keep them out of the playoffs unless they are addressed in the coming days.