The first month or so of this NHL season included a number of somewhat unexpected happenings but all seems to be returning to normal in the NHL.
1. After a 7-3-1 start to the season Columbus has gone a much more expected 6-8-4 in their last 18 games.
2. After a solid 10-7-1 start the Chicago Blackhawks have gone 4-6-2 in their last 12 games and are currently on a 4 game losing streak.
3. After starting the season a dismal 3-6-1 the New York Rangers have gone on an exceptional 13-6-1 run.
4. Having started the season a phenominal 9-3-3 the Montreal Canadiens once again appear to be the average team everyone expected them to be having gone 5-7-2 since.
5. The relatively untalented Islanders surprised many by starting the seaosn 9-4 but have gone a more expected 5-8-2 since.
6. The Carolina Hurricanes fooled many by looking like a Cup Contender out of the gate going 9-3-3 but have been back to their ordinary selves going 7-9-0 in their last 16 games.
7. After a very mediocre first month and a half the Pittsburgh Penguins are again looking like a team on the verge of greatness like they did the last half of last season and are 8-2-1 in their last 11 games.
8. Martin Brodeur and Roberto Luongo got off to very poor starts this year (Brodeur 3-6-0, 3.02gaa, .885sv% in October, Luongo 4-7-0, 2.91gaa, .903 sv%) both have returned to elite status having posted save percentages above .930 since November first.
9. Even Kiprusoff seems to be finally returning to form after getting called out by Mike Keenan having given up just 5 goals in the last 3 games facing 94 shots for a .947 save percentage.
10. The Senators are no longer on pace for a 140+ point season and they once again have goaltending issues.
11. The western conference playoff teams (when ranked by points per game) currently are Detroit, St. Louis, San Jose, Vancouver, Minnesota, Colorado, Dallas and Nashville is close to what many expected. St. Louis and Nashville may be minor surprises most thought they would contend for a playoff spot and with Kiprusoff looking like he might have turned his game around and Niedermayer set to return to Anaheim those two talented teams may be on the verge of entering the playoff picture as many expected.
12. In the east the playoff teams are Ottawa, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Boston, NY Rangers, Carolina, Pittsburgh and Montreal with the Islanders, Maple Leafs, Sabres, Thrashers and Lightning all on the doorstep. Outside of Boston and maybe how poor the Sabres have been not a lot unexpected happing in the east either with a few of very good teams, a couple of very bad teams and a whole lot of mediocrity in between.
13. Finally, it appears the west is once again the best as western conference teams are a strong 25-19-2 against the east and if it weren’t for Pittsburgh’s 7-1-0 record against the west it would be far more lopsided.