Atlantic Division Weekly: Hockey is back, baby

The Sharks had some fun in the Atlantic Division this week.

Hockey is back and it feels so good to be writing about a full week’s worth of games! It can be difficult to keep up with the entire league when you have so much San Jose Sharks content to take in each day. So, we’re here to help you keep tabs on our East Coast enemies by giving you a weekly recap of what went on in the Atlantic Division.

Here’s what you may have missed this week:

Boston Bruins (2-1-0)

The Bruins kicked off their season with a matchup against their old friend, Tyler Seguin, and his Dallas Stars. I understand and respect if you are choosing to avoid any Stars games still. To this day, it still pains me to see Joe Pavelski in green. However, Pavs didn’t have a great game against the Bruins. The B’s came out on top 3-1, Pavelski put up zero points. Brad Marchand scored two goals, while Jake DeBrusk had one.

Speaking of old friends, the Bruins got to see our old pal Martin Jones and the Philadelphia Flyers next. The Bruins lost that game 6-3 thank in part to Jones’ 37 saves. Next came the Buffalo Sabres, with former Sabre Taylor Hall scoring an empty netter to wrap up a 4-1 win.

Marchand, Hall, Charlie McAvoy and David Pastrnak are the Bruins’ scoring leaders through three games. Forward Curtis Lazar is week-to-week with an upper body injury and is currently on injured reserve. Nick Foligno, who signed with the Bruins as an unrestricted free agent this summer, sustained an upper-body injury against the Flyers and did not play against the Sabres. Head coach Bruce Cassidy says that Foligno pulled something and doesn’t expect it to be serious.

Buffalo Sabres (3-1-0)

It might be hard to believe, but the Sabres are good. Well, at least they were good during the NHL’s first week back. They scored a lot of goals, starting with a 5-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens. It was a team effort, with Zemgus Girgensons, Victor Olofsson, Anders Bjork, Tage Thompson and Kyle Okposo getting on the scoreboard. Their second game of the season was a 2-1 win in overtime against the Arizona Coyotes.

Next came the Vancouver Canucks. The Sabres scored another five goals, winning that game 5-2. Craig Anderson was between the pipes for Buffalo and made 32 saves. As mentioned above, the Sabres wrapped their week up against the Bruins. They got their first loss at the hands of the Bs.

Just as everyone predicted, defender Colin Miller leads the team in points with 5 assists. Wingers Zemgus Girgensons and Victor Olofsson follow, with 2 goals and 2 assists each. The secret to the Sabres’ success? Putting pucks to the net. They rank fourth in the league in shots per game, averaging 37.0.

Buffalo opened the season with a long list of injuries: Jack Eichel (neck), Henri Jokiharju (lower-body), Casey Mittelstadt (upper-body), Mattias Samuelsson (lower-body) were all slated to miss time this season. Mittelstadt and Jokiharju have returned, but forward Cody Eakin was injured in Thursday practice and will miss a few games.

Detroit Red Wings (2-1-1)

Over the last several seasons, we’ve come to know the Red Wings for being, to put it simply, bad. They’ve started their season much better this time around. Okay, so maybe they lost their first game, but listen, it was against the Tampa Bay Lightning and they took it all the way to overtime. The final score was 7-6 and Tyler Bertuzzi scored four of those goals.

The Red Wings found their groove against the Canucks, winning that game 3-1. They kept that momentum going, defeating the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1. Their week ended on a tough note, getting shutout 3-0 by the Calgary Flames.

In just four games, 15 players have made their way onto the scoresheet with a seven-way tie for second-leading scorer with 3 points (Bertuzzi, the leader, has 6 points so far). The team’s offensive stats, though, are a bit middling, and their special teams are downright bad, so don’t start planning the parade in Hockeytown just yet.

Florida Panthers (4-0-0)

Isn’t it fun to see the Florida Panthers succeed? Jumbo Joe Thornton calls the Sunshine State home now, so we kind of have to root for them, at least quietly. They wrapped up their first week of games with four wins and zero losses. The first game was a 5-4 overtime win against the Pittsburgh Penguins. They went on to beat the New York Islanders 5-1, featuring a hat trick from Sam Bennett.

Then came the reigning championship Lightning. The Panthers did not care that their state rivals won the Stanley Cup last season, they scored four goals while holding Tampa bay to just one. Goaltender Spencer Knight made 30 saves. Finally, they wrapped up the week with a 4-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche.

An interesting note about Florida is that they, much like Detroit, are seeing scoring through the majority of the line up, with 16 players on the score sheet already (Thornton is not among them, but he doesn’t need to score goals, he’s simply there for the vibes). Despite that, one of their weaknesses is their anemic power play, which has seen just two goals in 15 opportunities, ranking 26th in the league at 13.3 percent conversion.

Montreal Canadiens (0-5-0)

Wow, it’s been a rough start for the Canadiens. They kicked off their season with a first-round rematch against the Toronto Maple Leafs and fell short 2-1. They continued their losing streak come game two, losing 5-1 to the Sabres. Things continued to go downhill when they faced the New York Rangers and lost 3-1.

Then the Sharks came to town and we all remember how that ended for the Habs. The Sharks shut them out 5-0, which was a beautiful sight for us, but a sad day to be a Canadiens fan. They finished their week off with a 4-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. Bunch of jerks.

With only four total goals from the team so far, 26-year-old Jonathan Drouin has been the only consistent offensive threat, putting up 2 goals and 1 assist. Instead of spreading scoring through the line up, it’s penalties in Montreal, with 11 players racking up 38 total penalty minutes so far. The team is second-worst in power play percentage (5.3) and tied for second-worst in penalty kill percentage (55.6).

Ottawa Senators (2-2-0)

I have a soft spot for the Ottawa Senators because let’s face it, I miss Chris Tierney every day. Tierney started the season off strong, netting a goal against the Maple Leafs on opening night and helping his team win 3-2. They met the Leafs one more time because the NHL wanted us to relive the horrors of last season’s schedule, and the Leafs took a 3-1 win.

Tierney took on Pavelski and his Stars next and Ottawa won 3-2. Pavelski scored one goal, while Tierney netted a pair of his own. Good for them. The Senators’ last game of the week was against the Sharks and we all know how that worked out for them (they lost, it was awesome).

Senators center Shane Pinto was injured in a hit against the boards during the game against the Sharks. He returned to play briefly but is now expected to miss additional games. Tierney (3 goals), Tyler Ennis (1 goal, 2 assists) and Connor Brown (3 assists) lead the team in scoring.

Tampa Bay Lightning (2-2-0)

All eyes are always on the reigning Stanley Cup champions when a new season rolls in. The Lightning are off to a decent start, but they’re not at their best. Maybe that’s because they sent Barclay Goodrow to the Rangers. They kicked off the season with a 6-2 loss to the Penguins on their banner-raising night. The Bolts gained momentum with a 7-6 overtime victory over the Red Wings, with a pair of goals from Steven Stamkos and Ondrej Palat.

The Lightning kept things going against the Washington Capitals, winning 2-1 in overtime. They followed that up with a 4-1 loss to the Florida Joe Thorntons.

As is the case with perennial contenders, Tampa is starting the season beat up. Cal Foote (upper-body) and Gemel Smith (lower-body) are both missing the start of the season, while lower-body injuries sidelined both Zach Bogosian and Nikita Kucherov after the season began. As usual, Steven Stamkos (3 goals, 4 assists) and Victor Hedman (6 assists) are going on a tear.

Toronto Maple Leafs (2-2-1)

The Maple Leafs are ready for another mediocre season, it seems. They started the season with a 2-1 victory over the Canadiens, but followed that up with a 3-2 loss to the Senators. Next game was the Senators again, but this time it was a 3-1 victory, with 20 saves from Jack Campbell.

Then came the Rangers, who toppled the Leafs 2-1 in overtime. In the Leafs’ defense, they’ve been without Auston Matthews, who was recovering from wrist surgery. He returned to the ice against the Rangers and is still attempting to return to form. The Leafs took on the Sharks to end their week and lost 5-3 to the boys in teal.

Ilya Mikheyev, who has quietly put up 40 points for the Leafs over the last two seasons, broke his thumb during the preseason and will miss eight weeks. Netminder Petr Mrazek suffered a lower-body injury on Oct. 14, forcing the Leafs to sign a collegiate goaltender as an emergency backup.