Our local puckheads from ESPN's Stats & Information group put together a few thoughts to ponder heading into tonight's Game of the Week (Sharks at Capitals, 7 p.m. ET):
The Joe Thornton factor
Joe Thornton's playmaking ability has benefited his linemates in recent seasons. Will he do the same for new Shark Dany Heatley?
In his first season with San Jose, Thornton helped Jonathan Cheechoo score 56 goals in 2005-06. (Cheechoo was part of the Heatley trade and is now playing in Ottawa.) When he was with Boston in 2001-02, Thornton helped Glen Murray score 35 goals in 73 games after Murray had scored 18 goals in the previous season.
So far, Heatley has five goals and five assists in six games with the Sharks.
Jose, can you see?
There are 29 active goalies who have played at least 25 games in October. Jose Theodore's career 2.94 goals-against average in the month ranks 23rd among those netminders.
Still, Theodore is off to a decent start. Although his 1-2-2 record may be more an indication of the Washington Capitals' overall play, Theodore has a decent 2.65 goals-against average. His overall performance has been a surprise to some critics who speculated the former Hart Trophy winner would be supplanted by Semyon Varlamov.
Then, there's Ovie ...
Alex Ovechkin is off to a torrid start, averaging 2 points in his first six games. He's on pace for 68 goals and 164 points. No player has reached 68 goals since Mario Lemieux in 1995-96 (69). The 164-point plateau was last passed by Wayne Gretzky in 1988-89 (168).
If any player can pull off the feat, it seems Ovechkin can.
Here's a look at his numbers through seven games with his goals, assists and points:
2009-10: 5-7-12 (through six games)
The Sharks-Capitals matchup features some of the league's highest goal and point producers from recent seasons:
Most goals since 2005-06
Alex Ovechkin (Capitals), 224
Ilya Kovalchuk (Thrashers), 194
Dany Heatley (Senators, Sharks), 185
Jarome Iginla (Flames), 161
Most points since 2005-06:
Alex Ovechkin (Capitals), 432
Joe Thornton (Bruins, Sharks), 431
Sidney Crosby (Penguins), 402
Dany Heatley (Senators, Sharks), 372