Originally posted on Red Light District Hockey  |  Last updated 10/17/11

UNIONDALE, NY - JANUARY 12: John Tavares #91 of the New York Islanders looks on during the game against the Detroit Red Wings at the Nassau Coliseum on January 12, 2010 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Well, we have now wrapped up a week and half in the NHL, and based on the way it went, it is easy to see that many different trends are going to arise throughout each week of the season. In this week's installment of "The Week Ahead", we will look at three youngsters who are off to terrific starts, two teams that are really struggling out of the gate and, as always, games to check out throughout the week.
Three Players to keep an Eye on
- John Tavares, New York Islanders
After starting the season with no points in the team's first two games of the season, Islanders forward John Tavares has turned it around in a big way.

In his last two games, Tavares has compiled 8 points, including a hat trick against the New York Rangers on Saturday. Tavares has found success playing on a line with Matt Moulson and PA Parenteau, as the trio has combined for 19 points in four games.

This week, Tavares and the Isles will take on the Lightning and Panthers.

- Jeff Skinner, Carolina Hurricanes
Last year's Calder Trophy winner as the league's top rookie is picking up where he left off last season.

In his team's first five games, Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner has put up six points on 2 goals and 4 assists. Skinner also scored the game-winner in Buffalo on Friday. While he is a -6, that number will improve as the team's defense gets better throughout the season.

This week, Skinner and the Hurricanes will take on the Bruins, Blues and Jets.

- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers
The NHL's No. 1 pick in 2011 is playing just like that, a No. 1 pick.

Edmonton Oilers' forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has 4 goals in his team's first three games, including a hat trick on Saturday night against the Vancouver Canucks. Nugent-Hopkins looks comfortable playing on the team's No. 1 line with Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle as the trio has already combined for 10 points.

This week, Nugent-Hopkins and the Oilers will take on the Predators, Flames, Wild and Rangers.

Teams to Watch
In this week's "Teams to Watch" section, we take a look at two clubs that have really struggled out of the gate.

- Ottawa Senators
The Ottawa Senators have started the season looking like the expansion team they were back in the 1992-93 season. The Senators are 1-4 and have been outscored 23 to 14. The team's goaltending has been extremely shaky and the defense has not been much better.

This week, the Senators will take on the Flyers, Jets and Blue Jackets.

- Columbus Blue Jackets
After acquiring the likes of Jeff Carter and James Wisniewski, the Columbus Blue Jackets have not gotten off to the start they dreamed of this offseason. The Blue Jackets are currently 0-4-1 and fans may already be losing their patience. The team has lost two one-goal games and lost another in a shootout. The team is staying in games, but are just having trouble coming out on top.

This week, the Blue Jackets will try and right the ship against the Stars, Red Wings and Senators.

Games to Watch
Here are some games to check out to help satisfy your hockey craving this week:


- Monday, October 17
Florida Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
Anaheim Ducks vs. San Jose Sharks
- Tuesday, October 18
Carolina Hurricanes vs. Boston Bruins
Buffalo Sabres vs. Montreal Canadiens
New York Rangers vs. Vancouver Canucks
- Wednesday, October 19
Winnipeg Jets vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
- Thursday, October 20
Washington Capitals vs. Philadelphia Flyers
Montreal Canadiens vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
Nashville Predators vs. Vancouver Canucks
- Friday, October 21
San Jose Sharks vs. New Jersey Devils
- Saturday, October 22
San Jose Sharks vs. Boston Bruins
Detroit Red Wings vs. Washington Capitals
Buffalo Sabres vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
Colorado Avalanche vs. Chicago Blackhawks
- Sunday, October 23
Phoenix Coyotes vs. Anaheim Ducks

Photo credit: Getty Images
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