Nothing could stop the Colorado Avalanche from crushing their competitions. They plowed ahead despite injuries and the unfortunate arrest of goaltender Semyon Varlamov after his alleged incident of domestic violence.
By winning 12 of their first 13 games, they went a long way toward securing a playoff before the season’s first quarter. As the Denver Post noted, merely playing .500 hockey from here on out should get the Avalanche in the bracket.
Naturally first-year coach Patrick Roy doesn’t appreciate such speculation. He approaches this job with a goaltender’s intensity. Roy won’t ease off the accelerator and he will do everything humanly possible to prevent his team from getting complacent now that the Avalanche clearly rank No. 1 in the NHL.
Here is how the teams stack up this week:
GOOD NEWS: Veteran goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere is ready to step in for Varlamov as needed.
BAD NEWS: Winger Alex Tanguay will miss a few weeks with a knee injury.
BOTTOM LINE: Roy is coaching the way he played. He is all in. That is why he shrugged off Varlamov’s arrest and kept his goaltender active.
SAN JOSE SHARKS
GOOD NEWS: Forward Brent Burns shaved his massive hair mess and unruly beard for charity. He finally gave up his bid to become the next GEICO Caveman.
BAD NEWS: The Sharks lost back-to-back games for the first time this season, but they picked up points in the shootout with Phoenix and the overtime loss to the Kings in LA.
BOTTOM LINE: Winger Martin Havlat’s return to full strength makes a deep offensive team even better.
GOOD NEWS: After scoring just six points through the first 11 games, Marian Hossa scored six in his next four games.
BAD NEWS: Patrick Kane needs to clean up that minus-9 rating.
BOTTOM LINE: With just two regulation losses all season, the defending Stanley Cup champions are suffering no hangover.
GOOD NEWS: After losing their first two games on an eight-game road trip, the Ducks regained their bearings.
BAD NEWS: The Ducks are winning despite possessing the league’s least efficient special teams.
BOTTOM LINE: This team has only played five home games. Wait until the schedule turns in their favor.
GOOD NEWS: Last week goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury was 3-0-0 record with a 1.67 GAA.
BAD NEWS: Evgeni Malkin’s wingman James Neal remains sidelined with an apparent oblique muscle injury.
BOTTOM LINE: This is the one real powerhouse on the eastern side of the league.
ST. LOUIS BLUES
GOOD NEWS: Alexander Steen refuses to wake up from his dream offensive season.
BAD NEWS: Gritty Brenden Morrow (upper body injury) is the latest Blue to land on injured reserve.
BOTTOM LINE: A poor showing at Tampa Bay sent Ken Hitchcock back to the drawing board.
GOOD NEWS: Daniel and Henrik Sedin should finish out their careers in Vancouver after signing matching four-year, $28 million deals.
BAD NEWS: Alexandre Burrows hasn’t made an impact since returning to active duty and David Booth punched his ticket to the AHL on a conditioning assignment.
BOTTOM LINE: It took awhile, but the Canucks are buying what new coach John Tortorella is selling. They allowed just 12 goals while winning five times in a six-game span.
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
GOOD NEWS: Last season the Bolts ranked 26th in goals against. This season they are threatening to crack the top 10.
BAD NEWS: They can’t beat the Bruins. They dropped two games to Boston this season by a combined 8-1 score.
BOTTOM LINE: Given the sad state of the Eastern Conference, they seemed destined for one of the top seeds.
GOOD NEWS: Defenseman Keith Yandle shook off his slow start, scoring nine points during a five-game span.
BAD NEWS: Goaltender Mike Smith needs to shrink that 2.87 GAA.
BOTTOM LINE: Since Oct. 8, the Coyotes have suffered just one regulation loss.
GOOD NEWS: Winger Loui Eriksson made a swift recovery from a mild concussion.
BAD NEWS: The Bruins lost their edge while losing three times in four games.
BOTTOM LINE: Boston needs Brad Marchand (four points in 13 games) and Patrice Bergeron (six points in 13 games) to generate more offense.
GOOD NEWS: Jason Pominville caught fire while scoring four goals and adding two assists in three games last week. Mikael Granlund scored seven points in a five-game span.
BAD NEWS: Dany Heatley played his way onto the fourth line.
BOTTOM LINE: If goaltender Josh Harding (7-2-1, 1.10 GAA) keeps this up, the Wild could become an upper-tier team.
LOS ANGELES KINGS
GOOD NEWS: Top center Anze Kopitar finally scored a goal.
BAD NEWS: The sputtering Kings offense couldn’t afford to lose goal-scorer Jeff Carter to a lower-body injury. But it did.
BOTTOM LINE: LA is sinking into the Western Conference pack due to inconsistency at both ends of the ice and in goal.
DETROIT RED WINGS
GOOD NEWS: Young defenseman Danny DeKeyser is bringing much-appreciated stability to the blue line in his first full NHL season.
BAD NEWS: Defenseman Brendan Smith suffered a shoulder injury during a Saturday night fight.
BOTTOM LINE: The Red Wings shrugged off a four-game losing streak and won three times in a four-game Western swing.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
GOOD NEWS: They have played just two crummy games all season, a 5-2 loss at Columbus and a 4-0 loss at Vancouver.
BAD NEWS: Injuries to centers Tyler Bozak (hamstring strain) and Dave Bolland (ankle surgery) left the Leafs vulnerable down the middle.
BOTTOM LINE: Their offensive depth faces a stern test with two of their top three centers down.
GOOD NEWS: Winger Max Pacioretty (hamstring) returned earlier than expected and veteran forward Daniel Briere (concussion) has resumed skating.
BAD NEWS: The Canadians let Roy lead his Avalanche to a 4-1 victory over his old team.
BOTTOM LINE: Looking to jump start their lagging offense, the Canadiens are trying Alex Galchenyuk at center between Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher.
GOOD NEWS: Goaltender Braden Holtby survived that beating he took from Ray Emery.
BAD NEWS: Alex Ovechkin missed back-to-back games over the weekend with an upper body injury before returning.
BOTTOM LINE: The Capitals need to strap on the foil the next time they face the Flyers. They can’t a team get away with that nonsense.
GOOD NEWS: Veteran Swiss goaltender Reto Berra won his first NHL game --- against the powerful Blackhawks no less.
BAD NEWS: Is Berra really the answer in goal? No team has less proven talent in goal.
BOTTOM LINE: Coach Bob Hartley has done an awesome job keeping this team competitive. Keeping it up will require miracle work.
GOOD NEWS: Top draft pick Seth Jones has been as good as advertised. The assertive offensive defenseman had seven points in his first 14 NHL games.
BAD NEWS: Only forwards have points than Jones on the Predators.
BOTTOM LINE: With goaltender Pekka Rinne shelved for much of the season due to complications with his earlier hip surgery, this team will have a tough time making the playoffs.
GOOD NEWS: Goaltender Kari Lehtonen’s ratios entering the week (1.96, .936) among the NHL leaders.
BAD NEWS: Defenseman Sergei Gonchar (no goals, one assist in 14 games) still hasn’t found his legs. Given his age, perhaps they are gone for good.
BOTTOM LINE: Lindy Ruff has had a tough time getting a highly talented group organized. The Stars can’t afford to piddle much longer.
NEW YORK RANGERS
GOOD NEWS: Captain Ryan Callahan recovered from his broken thumb and rejoined the lineup.
BAD NEWS: Rick Nash remains sidelined by a concussion with no return date in sight.
BOTTOM LINE: Step by step, this team is getting healthier. Fortunately most of their Eastern Conference peers are struggling too.
GOOD NEWS: Goaltender Craig Anderson avoided serious injury while taking a knee to the head from Stars rookie Valeri Nichushkin.
BAD NEWS: The Senators are allowing about 38 shots against per game.
BOTTOM LINE: A five-game winless streak triggered alarm bells in Senators. GM Bryan Murray is not one to sit idly by and watch his team struggle.
GOOD NEWS: Forward Radek Dvorak (lower back injury) is back on the ice.
BAD NEWS: Jeff Skinner remains sidelined with an apparent hand injury.
BOTTOM LINE: Their offense ranked 25th in the league coming into this week and the Canes were deploying No. 3 goaltender Justin Peters with Cam Ward and Anton Khudobin both shelved. That is not a good scenario.
NEW YORK ISLANDERS
GOOD NEWS: They finally won back-to-back games for the first time all season, beating Ottawa and Boston.
BAD NEWS: The Islanders entered the week 23rd in team GAA. Hence the Ryan Miller rumors that will not cease.
BOTTOM LINE: With defenseman Brian Strait joining Lubomir Visnovsky on injured reserve, this team is even more vulnerable on the blue line.
GOOD NEWS: After losing six times in seven games, the Jets found some quiet air by beating the Red Wings.
BAD NEWS: Power forward Evander Kane exited the lineup with a lower body injury.
BOTTOM LINE: This team is falling out of the Western Conference race. Change is needed.
GOOD NEWS: Ray Emery reaffirmed his fighting ability.
BAD NEWS: He pounded Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby. That achievement is just side of pulling a 12-year-old out of the stands and pounding him.
BOTTOM LINE: We live in Gary Bettman's world. The Flyers won’t be able to brawl their way back into contention.
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
GOOD NEWS: They are in the Eastern Conference now. That alone should keep them mathematically alive for a while.
BAD NEWS: Sergei Bobrovsky got pulled Friday and benched for the next two games. He is no threat to win the Vezina Trophy this season.
BOTTOM LINE: Coach Todd Richards is trying some new line combinations, but his under-skilled team will need to win low-scoring games.
GOOD NEWS: None. This team won just three of its first 15 games.
BAD NEWS: Top offensive defenseman Justin Schultz (groin, ribs) joined the injury parade.
BOTTOM LINE: Center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle must pull themselves together. RNH lost 29 of 46 faceoffs last week and scored exactly zero points. Eberle ran his pointless streak to five games and earned a minus-9 rating during that span.
NEW JERSEY DEVILS
GOOD NEWS: Jaromir Jagr has 10 points and a plus-2 rating in 14 games.
BAD NEWS: This punchless team suffered four shutouts in its first 14 games.
BOTTOM LINE: Losing Ilya Kovalchuk has been as devastating as we all anticipated.
GOOD NEWS: None to report.
BAD NEWS: Only one player on this team has scored more than seven points.
BOTTOM LINE: GM Dale Tallon has a new owner who must be wondering why his team never wins a game.
GOOD NEWS: Ryan Miller bolstered his trade value by stopping 44 of 46 shots against the Rangers during a 2-0 loss.
BAD NEWS: Most nights it appears the Sabres don't give a whit.
BOTTOM LINE: This team already kissed off playoff contention. All they can do know is try to preserve what’s left of its fan base.