We’re officially through the first month of the season, which is as good a time as any to look at the players who have surprised me in 2014-15. Some in a good way, others in a bad way. The common denominator is I never would have predicted these starts from a statistics perspective.
Anaheim – Emerson Etem. Doughnuts across the board in 11 games. I thought the winger had 20-goal potential. Also, to a lesser degree, Frederik Andersen. John Gibson was supposed to steal the No. 1 job, but Andersen is 6-1 with a 1.69 GAA and .940 SP.
Arizona – Sam Gagner. Just two assists in nine games for the skilled center. Also, Mike Smith. His numbers have bloated to 2-5, 3.96 GAA and .866 SP.
Boston – Tuukka Rask. My projected Vezina winner has struggled to a 4-4 start with a 2.81 GAA and .899 SP.
Buffalo – Cody Hodgson, Matt Moulson, Chis Stewart and Brian Gionta. The four top-six forwards have a combined one goal and six points in 44 games (they’ve each played 11). Stewart hasn’t scored a goal in 10 months.
Calgary – Jonas Hiller. Solely responsible for at least a couple wins, with a 3-2-1 record, 1.83 GAA and .948 SP.
Carolina – Cam Ward. His freefall continues this season with a 0-3 record, 3.95 GAA and .840 SP. Also, former 40-goal man Alexander Semin has just two assists in eight games.
Chicago – Scott Darling. Has risen from hockey’s Jules Verne leagues to 2-1 record with 1.98 GAA and .933 SP in injury relief duty.
Colorado – The team as a whole. Individually, Nathan MacKinnon was off to a slow start (two goals and six points in 11 games) when many of us thought he might bump his head on the 100-point barrier.
Columbus – Nick Foligno. He’s never scored more than 17 goals or 47 points in a season, but his three goals and nine points in eight games before injury was impressive.
Dallas – Ales Hemsky. I projected he’d threaten 60 points for the first time in six seasons, but one assist in nine games means he has some work to do.
Detroit – Justin Abdelkader. The grinding winger is already halfway to his career-high of 10 goals and has eight points in nine games.
Big ups to Abby who's come out of the gate on fire!!
Who's the player that has been the most pleasant surprise to you with their start to the season?