Things are heating up in the early going in the NHL, and here's a look at what happened over the past week in the Eastern Conference.
WHO'S LOOKING GOOD
Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens: Entering Monday’s action, the Canadiens are the only team in the league without a regulation loss, opening the season with a 6-0-0 record. While Montreal is proving it has more than just goaltending, Price is a major reason for the team’s success, posting a 5-0-0 record, a 1.20 goals-against average and a .957 save percentage. On Thursday, Price made 25 saves and posted a 3-0 shutout over fellow netminder Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers. That victory for Montreal gave it its first 5-0-0 start in the organization’s 98-year history. The shutout was the 35th of Price’s career with the Canadiens. For his performance, Price was named the league’s No. 1 Star of the week. He helped Montreal to a 4-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings with 21 saves on Saturday.
Boston Bruins: After losing the first three games of the season on home ice, the Bruins hit the road and won games against the Colorado Avalanche and Arizona Coyotes. Bruins newcomer Jimmy Hayes had four points (one goal and three assists) in Boston’s 6-2 win over the Avalanche. The Bruins followed with a 5-3 win over the Coyotes, with Patrice Bergeron scoring two goals and adding one assist.
Michal Neuvirth, Philadelphia Flyers: On Wednesday, Neuvirth made 30 saves to record his second consecutive shutout with a 3-0 win over the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks. That game followed a performance two days earlier in which Neuvirth made 31 saves in a 1-0 win over the Florida Panthers. Having a consistent and successful goaltending tandem is something coach Dave Hakstol would gladly love to deal with. Starter Steve Mason is coming off a career season, but he missed a few games due to a family matter, and Neuvirth was solid in his absence.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Last Monday, Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, 25, reached an impressive milestone when he recorded his 500th career NHL point. His game-winning, power-play goal led Tampa to a 6-3 victory over the Bruins at TD Garden. Stamkos became the 55th active player to reach the 500-point plateau. On Saturday, the Lightning defeated the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 and Tampa goalie Ben Bishop recorded his 84th career victory, surpassing Nikolai Khabibulin for the top spot on the franchise’s all-time list.
Jaromir Jagr, Florida Panthers: The beyond-veteran forward has two multi-point games this season and now has 124 in his NHL career. He has four goals and three assists for seven points in five games this season. The Panthers are 3-2-0. The future Hall of Famer had a pair of goals during Florida’s 3-2 win over the Sabres on Thursday. He also had an assist in that game. Jagr now has 726 career goals, moving him within five of Marcel Dionne for fourth place on the league’s all-time scoring list.
WHO'S LOOKING BAD
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins: The Penguins' captain has been held without a point in the team’s first five games, which doesn’t bode well for Pittsburgh’s success. Currently, the team is 2-3-0 in the Metropolitan Division. To think that No. 87 will not come out of his current skid is ridiculous. It might help the Penguins, however, if coach Mike Johnston decides to tweak his line combinations and moves Phil Kessel off Crosby’s line. It’s possible that Crosby is trying too hard to make his new teammate look good and not focusing on his own game. Despite his early-season lull, Crosby will be among the league’s top point-getters come April.
Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets: There are some serious goaltending issues to start the season for the Blue Jackets, which is a major reason the team is off to an 0-6-0 start. After a recent 7-3 loss to the Ottawa Senators, Bobrovsky said he is playing with zero confidence, which is never a good thing to hear from your goalie. Coach Todd Richards quickly backed his starter, saying the team is experiencing too many defensive breakdowns and Columbus is leaving Bobrovsky to fend for himself.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Everyone expected the Leafs to struggle again this season, but they finally posted their first win of 2015-2016 with a 6-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday. It was coach Mike Babcock’s first win in Toronto. The Maple Leafs’ Leo Komarov had two goals, while Joffrey Lupul added a goal and assist in the winning effort. Toronto is still trying to settle into a groove after all the offseason changes to the organization.
Washington Capitals: There’s nothing wrong with the overall performance from the Capitals, but it didn’t help that the team’s only loss came without its superstar player. Alex Ovechkin was a healthy scratch against the San Jose Sharks last Tuesday after he overslept and missed practice. The Sharks trounced on the Capitals en route to a 5-0 victory. Kudos to Washington coach Barry Trotz for sticking to team rules. Ovechkin has three goals and one assist for four points and now needs one point to become the first player in team history to reach the 900-point milestone.
Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals: The Caps received a major boost last week when Backstrom returned to the lineup after missing the first three games due to offseason hip surgery. He posted a goal and two assists in his season debut to help Washington to a 4-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Many picked the Capitals as a favorite to win the Stanley Cup this season, and Backstrom’s ability to produce points will be critical to Washington’s success.
Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning: The veteran defenseman missed Saturday’s 2-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres due to a head injury. He suffered the injury when he went head first into the boards during Thursday’s 5-3 loss to the Dallas Stars. Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper seemed optimistic when talking with reporters that Hedman wouldn’t miss an extended amount of time.
Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins: After missing two games due to a concussion, Marchand returned to the lineup Saturday and helped the Bruins to a 5-3 win over the Coyotes.
Darren Helm, Detroit Red Wings: Helm made his season debut during Saturday’s 4-1 loss to the Canadiens. The forward had been out since Sept. 18 after he suffered a separated shoulder and concussion on the first day of training camp.
Rookie sensation Jack Eichel has two goals in five games so far this season and has yet to register an assist. He has a minus-3 (the same as fellow rookie Connor McDavid), and Eichl has been credited with 12 shots on goal.