Fast, slow, strange start to NHL's first quarter | Hockey | CBC Sports

Hockey Night in CanadaFast, slow, strange start to NHL's first quarter

Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 | 10:21 AM

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Few players have been a more pleasant surprise so far than David Clarkson (23) with nine goals and 15 points in 13 games. (Vincent Pugliese/ Getty Images) Few players have been a more pleasant surprise so far than David Clarkson (23) with nine goals and 15 points in 13 games. (Vincent Pugliese/ Getty Images)

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There have been fast, slow and strange starts in the first quarter of this shortened NHL season.

Twenty-six of the 30 NHL clubs hit the quarter pole (12 games) as of Tuesday evening. It has been a crazy beginning to the lockout-shortened season.

There have been a slew of injuries, red-hot starts for teams like the Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks and players like New Jersey Devils forward David Clarkson as well as cool beginnings for the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, Washington Capitals and Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla.

Fast Starts

  • The Blackhawks emerged out of the gate with a 10-0-2 start, the best beginning to a season without a loss in regulation since the Anaheim opened 12-0-4 en route to its Stanley Cup championship in 2006-07. Patrick Kane has been excellent with his new and improved attitude in Chicago.
  • Clarkson has followed up his 30-goal season of a year ago with nine in his first 12 games. That puts him among the Top 10 goal scorers since the beginning of the 2011-12 season and has the Eastern Conference champs of a year ago contending once again.
  • Head coach Bruce Boudreau got off to a slow start when he took over the Ducks mid-season last year. But Teemu Selanne and Co. easily have been the surprise team of the first quarter with a 9-2-1 start. 
  • The Buffalo Sabres haven't met expectations in the early going this season, but sniper Thomas Vanek has piled up some impressive offensive stats with a league-leading 11 goals and league-leading 23 points in 12 games.
  • The Vancouver Canucks started shaky, but after the goalie tandem of Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider found its form, the Canucks finished the first quarter on a six-game win streak and in first place in their division. All this despite a slow start from the Sedin twins and the absence of two-thirds of their second line as Ryan Kesler and David Booth continue to recover from injuries.

Slow Starts

  • The Kings have had trouble scoring again. It's the same problem they encountered last year until they did enough late in the season to make the playoffs and then go on their terrific championship run.
  • One of the league's top goal scorers since the 2004-05 lockout, 35-year-old Jarome Iginla has struggled with only one goal in 10 games.
  • Capitals rookie head coach Adam Oates has had a difficult time igniting Alex Ovechkin and his teammates.
  • Injuries and the absence of unsigned Ryan O'Reilly have the Colorado Avalanche lagging behind once again.

Strange Starts

  • The San Jose Sharks began the season a perfect 7-for-7, but are a woeful 0-3-3 since.
  • The St. Louis Blues were once 6-1-0 and now check in at 6-5-1.
  • The Tampa Bay Lightning also began 6-1-0 and now find themselves at 6-5-1.

Healthy Scratches

We have become accustomed to seeing some high-salaried players like Toronto's Mike Komisarek banished to the press box or a youngster like Buffalo rookie Mikhail Grigorgenko sit out a game or two, but some players who have become healthy scratches this season have raised eyebrows. 

This list would include: Pierre-Marc Bouchard (Minnesota); Brian Boyle (N.Y. Rangers); Joe Corvo (Carolina); Alex Goligoski (Dallas); Mikael Granlund (Minnesota); Marcus Johansson (Washington); Alexei Kovalev (Florida); Chris Kreider (N.Y. Rangers); Adam Larsson (New Jersey); Jamie McBain (Carolina); Tyler Myers (Buffalo); Shane O'Brien (Colorado); Dustin Penner (Los Angeles); Ryan Smyth (Edmonton); Ryan Whitney (Edmonton).

Hello, Goodbye

If the playoffs were to begin today, a few teams that made last spring's playoff dance would not be invited this time around.

  • In: Anaheim; Dallas; Carolina; Montreal; Toronto. 
  • Out: Los Angeles; Phoenix; Florida; Philadelphia; Washington. 

Hobbling Starts

Injuries were supposed to play an important part in this 48-game condensed schedule -- and they have. The long-term injury list already is lengthy:

Matt Carkner (lower body); Carlo Colaiacovo (shoulder); Steve Downey (knee surgery); Cam Fowler (upper body); Matt Greene (back surgery); Carl Gunnarsson (hip); Scott Hartnall (foot); Darren Helm (back); Jack Hillen (upper body); Shawn Horcoff (knuckle); Patric Hornqvist (knee); Ed Jovanovski (knee); Miikka Kiprusoff (sprained knee); Gabriel Landeskog (head/neck); Jamie Langenbrunner (hip surgery); Guillaume Latendresse (whiplash); Kris Letang (lower body); Joffrey Lupul (broken forearm); Ryan Malone (lower body); Radek Martinek (groin); Andrej Meszaros (shoulder); Matt Niskanen (foot); Theo Peckham (hip); Mikael Samuelsson (groin); Brendan Smith (shoulder); Jason Spezza (back surgery); Jared Spurgeon (foot); Scottie Upshall (ankle); Ray Whitney (broken foot).

Quarter-pole standings

Eastern Conference

New Jersey (8-1-3), 19 pts

*Boston (8-1-2), 18 pts

Pittsburgh (8-4-0), 16 pts

Carolina (7-4-1), 15 pts

Montreal (7-4-1), 15 pts

Toronto (7-5-0), 14 pts

N.Y. Rangers (7-5-0), 14 pts

Ottawa (6-4-2), 14 pts

Tampa Bay (6-5-1), 13 pts

Philadelphia (5-6-1), 11 pts

Winnipeg (5-6-1), 11 pts

Buffalo (5-6-1), 11 pts

Florida (4-6-2), 10 pts

N.Y. Islanders (4-7-1), 9 pts

Washington (3-8-1), 7 pts

Western Conference

Chicago (10-0-2), 22 pts

Anaheim (9-2-1), 19 pts

Vancouver (8-2-2), 18 pts

San Jose (7-3-2), 16 pts

Detroit (7-4-1), 15 pts

Nashville (5-3-4), 14 pts

St. Louis (6-5-1), 13 pts

Dallas (6-5-1), 13 pts

Minnesota (6-5-1), 13 pts

Edmonton (5-4-3), 13 pts

Phoenix (5-5-2), 12 pts

*Los Angeles (4-5-2), 10 pts

*Calgary (3-4-3), 9 pts

*Colorado (4-6-1), 9 pts

Columbus (3-7-2), 8 pts

*Teams that have yet to reach the 12-game quarter pole.

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