Pop quiz: Who has more goals? Aaron Voros or the Tampa Bay Lightning's top six forwards of Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, Vaclav Prospal, Ryan Malone, Radim Vrbata and Steven Stamkos?
Okay, so it's a trick question. Actually the totals are the same. Voros has five. He's making $1M. Lecavalier's got two, and there's been one each for St. Louis, Prospal and Malone. That group of six makes ..er... let's see here, carry the one... ah yes, $24.042 million this season.
Maybe Oren Koules and Len Barrie should've bought a "character" guy like Voros. The Lightning have given up just 13 goals in five games but scored only eight. Tampa and Philadelphia are the only winless teams in the NHL. And, at this point, you can wait on etching the Calder Trophy winner in Stamkos' favor. He's still looking for his first point and has only eight shots.
Vrbata has worked out so well that coach Barry Melrose made Vrbata a healthy scratch Saturday against the Wild to send a message that guys have to work to earn their roster spots.
Funny; I wonder when he'll scratch Lecavalier or St. Louis to "send a message."
Quick hits from the East and maybe some from the West:
**Looks like Phil Kessel's finally realizing his potential for the Bruins. I say "finally" because Boston's been impatient with him (and why shouldn't they? After all, he's a a savvy veteran of 21 years of age playing in just his third season. Oh, and never mind that cancer thing) and has been rumored to want to trade the young man. Now he's got four goals in four games and is clicking with Patrice Bergeron.
**Ottawa's Martin Gerber has a 3.46 GAA and a save percentage of .896 in four games. Alex Auld essentially shut out the Penguins in his only appearance. No goaltending controversy here, no sir.
(Really, Nikolai Khabibulin won't fit in here? One-for-one swap with Gerber? They'd have a few pennies left to spend but that would work. Some other parts could be involved too, couldn't they?)
**Montreal's need for Marian Gaborik may have increased after Andrei Kostitsyn was popped against Phoenix (I didn't see the hit so can't comment on it.) He won't play Monday, but they're off again until Saturday. No word on the severity of the injury but if he's out for a while, that'll open up a spot for a winger.
**It seems weird to say a player who scored 36 goals last season is enjoying a resurgence this year, but that's what Buffalo's Thomas Vanek is going through. He struggled with the weight of a massive new contract last season before enjoying a late-season splurge. That's not the case this year. Another goal Saturday gave him a league-high seven.
**I was asked if putting Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on one line was putting too much power together. Well, they responded with four points each in Pittsburgh's 4-1 win Saturday over Toronto. That line produced two even-strength goals and had both assists on two power play goals. Move worked out, and that put Jordan Staal at center of the second line, where he looked far more comfortable. Crosby earned goal No. 100, assist No. 200 and point No. 300 in the game.
**Jason Smith isn't that valuable, is he? Well he must be, because he's the only main loss from Philadelphia's roster (note: I'm not counting Umberger as a big loss), yet, as I said above, the Flyers don't have a win yet. Maybe the problem is just Martin Biron, whose GAA is nearly 6 (5.75). Antero Niittymaki fared well in relief against the Rangers, not allowing a goal in 43 minutes before losing his next two.
**Brian Rolston missed New Jersey's game Saturday with an ankle injury. I've seen a report or two that said it's a high-ankle sprain, which is bad news. That's what kept Penguins Sidney Crosby and Marc-Andre Fleury out for long stretches of last season. You've got Rolston for four years, Devils fans. Somewhere, Minnesota Rolston-haters are smiling and breathing sighs of relief.
**Alexander the Great is once again leading the Capitals. Alexander Semin that is. He's tied with Malkin for a league-leading 10 points. He's always had that kind of potential but staying healthy was his problem. He's doing just fine so far. That other Alexander? He's tied for 121st in scoring with three points (two goals). He'll come around though.
**So what's the deal with Calgary? Miikka Kiprusoff and Jarome Iginla have had slow starts in the past, but that's not it. The problem is one Mr. Todd Bertuzzi. Sure he's got five goals, but the karma gods do not like Bertuzzi. What happened to Detroit when they traded for him prior to the 2007 playoffs? The Ducks last season? Early exits.
(Also, I picked him up on a fantasy team last season, and the two full weeks I had him I got thwalloped something like 21-2. At the time I was one point out of first. I cut him and won three straight. What more proof do you need?)
Get rid of Bertuzzi and the Flames will start to win.
**So Colorado's latest goaltending controversy involves ... I'm not sure I can even type it. Peter Budaj and ... Andrew Raycroft?! The appropriate phrase here is "Ye gods!" Let's just move on.
(Excuse me, Mr. Tallon? Is Khabibulin still available?)
**Vancouver's come back down to earth a bit, eh? After routing the Flames to open the season (11-4 in two games), the Canucks gave up five goals in losses to Washington and Buffalo but did manage to beat Detroit in between those two. But they just lost to Chicago and Cristobal Huet Sunday.
**Edmonton and Minnesota are the only undefeated teams left in the NHL. What a Western Conference final that will be.
Although, thinking back on it, if the percentage holds up, they'd meet in the conference semifinals, wouldn't they, as the 1-4 matchup?
**Finally, the Ducks are 1-4. Bobby Ryan has six points in four games...in the AHL. Why's he down there? Because they don't have the salary cap space room for a rookie. Thank you notes can be sent to Ryan Getzlaf (1 point, minus-2), Teemu Selanne (1 point, minus-2), Scott Neidermayer (2 points, even) and Jean-Sebastien Giguere (3.27 GAA).
(Okay, I'm venting some fantasy frustration there.)
That'll be all for now. Until next time.