Question of the day: So far, what has been the biggest surprise of the NHL season? [Updated]
Writers from around the Tribune Co. weigh in on the topic. Check back throughout the day for more responses, and feel free to leave a comment of your own.
Chris Korman, Baltimore Sun
That the Flyers, who made it to the Stanley Cup finals last year, are off to a lousy start isn’t surprising.
They were so bad in the first half of last season that they got their coach fired, then backed into the playoffs on the last day. It took a comeback within a comeback -- Philadelphia trailed Boston 3-0 in the series, then 3-0 in the first period of the seventh game -- to win the Eastern Conference semifinal. This is just how the Flyers work. Good luck, Peter Laviolette. But you're a patient guy.
The real surprise is that new Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman has found a way to quickly build around 20-year-old Steven Stamkos, who leads the league with 18 points in nine games. Tampa Bay hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2007, has a new head coach and revamped roster -- and is somehow 6-2-1.
[Updated at 1:21 p.m.
Harvey Fialkov, South Florida Sun Sentinel
It didn’t take long for first-year GM Steve Yzerman to sprinkle his Red Wings dust on the phenom-loaded Lightning, who after missing the playoffs three years running have a league-best 13 points behind superstar Steve Stamkos' league-leading 18 points.
The most shocking surprise has to be the New Jersey Devils, who, despite locking up scoring machine Ilya Kovalchuk for 15 years, are 2-5-1 (0-4-1 at home) after finishing second in the Eastern Conference with 103 points. The Devils have reached the playoffs in 19 of the last 20 seasons, including three Stanley Cups.
GM Lou Lamoriello, who stuck with aging goalie Martin Brodeur, is no doubt sharpening his worn ax for the neck of first-year coach John MacLean, who since benching his $100-million man has lost three straight by a combined 15-4 score.]
Photo: Tampa Bay Lightning. Credit: Kim Klement / US Presswire