The first week of the 2008-09 NHL season has come and gone. Let’s take a look at what has occurred during the opening week in the Western Conference and perhaps a little foresight into what could happen down the road.
– 20 of the leagues top 52 point getters were from the Western Conference, which shows which conference is the more offensive one.
– Three of the top five players that garnered the most time on ice were defensemen from the Western Conference.
– R.J. Umberger led the Western Conference in faceoff wins with 28.
– Dustin Penner, Shawn Horcoff, Rick Rypien, and Antti Miettinen all shot 100% this week.
– Dustin Brown led the Western Conference with 11 hits.
– Matt Greene led the Western Conference with seven blocked shots.
– Dan Boyle needs to buy himself a shooter tutor, missing seven shots.
– Rob Blake leads the Western Conference with 15 shots on goal.
– Evgeni Nabokov and Ilya Bryzgalov are the only two goalies with 40 or more saves, and with a goals against average of sub 1.51 along with a save percentage of higher than .952.
Around the West
Now let’s look at a team-by-team analysis starting with the Central Division. Brian Campbell and Duncan Keith averaged 28:02 and 29:00 in ice-time respectively for the Blackhawks. Campbell only took two shots this past week, look for that total to increase big time once he gets into gear. Brent Sopel was a horrible minus four.
Jason Chimera is surprisingly leading the Blue Jackets with three points in two contests. Rick Nash is averaging just over 23 and a half minutes of ice-time per game and picked up the game-winner against Dallas on Friday night. Jared Boll has 11 penalty minutes in two contests, look for him to unseat Daniel Carcillo for the penalty minutes crown this year. Mike Peca is suspended indefinitely.
Detroit opened the season with a surprising loss to the lowly Maple Leafs. Most of the playing time was evenly distributed between three lines. Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg averaged five shots on goal per game, while Johan Franzen won nearly 90% of this faceoffs (7). If your league counts faceoff wins as a stat, Franzen could be quite useful because of his winger eligibility.
In Predators territory, Jason Arnott and J.P. Dumont are clicking very effectively together on even-strength and the power play as they have picked up four points each while averaging less than 18 minutes per game. The blue line of the Predators has not been very productive at all as they have only accounted for 10 of the 54 shots that the Preds have fired on the opposing goalies so far this season.
St. Louis players had many fantasy owners singing the Blues this week for bypassing them in their drafts. The big four of Keith Tkachuk, Paul Kariya, Andy McDonald and Brad Boyes tallied 13 points in two contests between them. Too bad they forgot to play defense as they were a combined minus ten in the two contests. Keith Tkachuk looks rejuvenated while tallying three power-play goals. I still think the Blues could be a big sleeper team this year with a solid mix of veterans and young budding stars.