The New York Rangers fired head coach John Tortorella this offseason and replaced him with Alain Vigneault in an attempt to play a more offensive system and build upon the success of last year’s second-place finish in the NHL’s Atlantic Division. Instead, they got off to a 2-4-0 start while scoring just 1.83 goals per game.
To make matters worse, they are dead last in the league in terms of possessing the puck. Ignoring special teams and lead-protecting situations, the Rangers have been outshot 101-60 after a season in which they saw 54 percent of those shots in their favor en route to 26-18-4 record.
A win in Washington on Wednesday may have helped put the lights back on on Broadway, but if Henrik Lundqvist continues to post a .902 save percentage it could be over for the Rangers in a New York minute.
Here are three other early-season surprises:
If you had been asked a few weeks ago to point to a weakness on the Pittsburgh Penguins the answer almost certainly would have been goaltending. Marc-Andre Fleury went 2-2 in the playoffs with an .883 save percentage and 3.52 goals against average. However, the first overall pick of the 2003 draft has come on strong to start this season, winning all six of his games with a .932 save percentage.
When the Dallas Stars chose Russian Valeri Nichushkin with the 10th pick in last year’s draft, many thought they had the next Alex Ovechkin. Instead, Nichushkin has just one shot at even strength through five games and is skating barely more than 13 minutes per night.
The Calgary Flames weren’t expected to do much this season after the departure of their longtime captain Jarome Iginla and retirement of netminder Miikka Kiprusoff, but the Flames are 3-1-2 and have yet to lose in regulation.
Neil Greenberg, when he isn’t watching the games, analyzes advanced statistics in the NHL and prefers to be called a geek rather than a nerd. Follow him on Twitter: @ngreenberg.