No one should be surprised about the Jets start to the season.
Hockey writers of all strips know exactly what the Jets are composed of. There is nothing surprising about their start and we have had several articles here tempering expectations and framing perspective of what to expect on-ice.
Like when you have a huge party at your house, one that gets a little out of control. Everyone is having such a great time and you wake up the next morning to hundreds of empty beer cans, a half baked cake in the oven, pizza on your ceiling, your couch is on the front lawn and people are crashed everywhere.
You begin the clean-up but you don't have any regrets about the party. The season has started and it is like the morning after now. The Jets as an organization have a ton of clean-up work to do after the off-season party but everyone knows that. Every win should be a celebration because the hard facts are the Jets have a pretty long road to travel.
BUT there are other teams where the work has been done. Where big off-season moves have been made. Where expectations are in place. 5 games in is a fair point to ask who the big surprises are so far.
More after the jump.
Dallas Stars (5-1-0) Brad who? This team was supposed to be weaker minus their former Captain. They currently sit atop the Western Conference.
Sleeper pick-up Sheldon Souray is one reason and he must be making Oilers fans and management twitch with anger given the sad state of their D. 1G 4A and with a +6 he is leading the Stars. If you don't know Sheldon's drama in Edmonton, count yourself blessed because it was ugly and on the front pages. The man is clearly on a mission this season to prove something.
Kari Lehtonen is also undefeated so far with a 1.58 GAA, 0.953 SV% and a 5-0-0 record. Mike Ribeiro and Steve Ott are also bringing good game early in the season.
San Jose Sharks (1-3-0) This team is arguably the best in the Western Conference and imo has the best top 4 D in the NHL so the Sharks stalling like this out of the gate is a surprise.
Martin Havlat has been injured and has yet to play a game in teal. Antti Niemi has also been out with injury, only playing one game. No panic here, lots of hockey to play but still these two can not be considered the be all and end all of the Sharks. A better start to the season had to be expected from a team so deep in talent.
Columbus Blue Jackets - (0-5-1) This is the worst record in the NHL today. This team made big changes in the off-season and everyone sees them as a bubble team in the West now. The playoffs should absolutely be a realistic goal but they can take a note from the Calgary Flames last year. Dig yourself too deep a hole too early in the season and it won't matter how good you are later. This team must be on the verge of hitting the panic button and like Calgary last year may fire their GM mid-season.
Jeff Carter played in several games, his was producing early in the season but it has now been revealed he has a hairline fracture on his foot that he took in the pre-season? He had 3A in the first 2 games then disappeared for the next 3 games and now is sitting out for a week to 10 days.
James Wisniewski's suspension from Sheriff Shanny certainly hasn't helped. It was a monster suspension of 8 NHL games and you know the BJ's are counting the days.
Steve Mason - the Calder winner from 2009 simply has not found form since. With an abysmal 3.34 GAA and 0.878 SV% those simply are not NHL Goalie numbers.
My Honorable Mentions (Maybe you think they should be on the list)
These are two elite teams slow out of the gate but the explanation is simple. A Cup hangover from playing such a super long season. Vancouver fans don't get it though, "Occupy Luongo Signs" and trade Luongo for Vinny proposals are already starting to circulate.
Washington Capitals (6-0-0) Yes they are elite, yes it is expected they will sit atop the East but they are the only undefeated team left and they just broke their franchise record for best start. Got to get them mentioned with a bit of a nod, even if it really isn't a surprise. Not to me anyway.
Colorado Avalanche (5-2-0) A young team off to a good start but not a huge surprise. They made their move in the off-season for Semyon Varlamov so they should be stepping up but they don't make the list because their competition has been fairly weak and 2 of those wins have been in shoot-outs.
Still, a strong start to the season. If they had beat the Blackhawks like the Stars did or any top tier team they would have made my surprise list right beside the Stars.
Toronto Maple Kessels (4-1-1)
There is always too much exuberance in Toronto when they start to win but what the heck. In all honesty I don't think they should be anywhere near this list. They are playing to expectations and right where they should be, maybe a little above average but Phil Kessel is absolutely ripping up the at the NHL moment and I know someone will want the Leafs here.
But look at the wins. Beating the Sens by a whisker of a goal? The Jets in a shoot-out? In my book Toronto is a significantly better team and should have taken a stronger win out of each of these games.