Eastern Conference Full Of Surprises In Young 2013-2014 NHL Season

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

What teams are surprising right out of the gate, and who is performing according to expectations? We take a look around the eastern conference early in this season to check in on it.

Over the course of the years of my Dallas Stars' fandom, I've grown to pay attention to not just the home team, but also their rivals. I followed a number of Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks, and Phoenix Coyotes media and fans on Twitter, and paid attention to the outcomes of the games they played these past seasons.

With realignment this year, we get the fantastic opportunity to see every team at the American Airlines Center this year. I love this. With a capital "L". Now I get a new set of teams to pay attention to!

I not only find myself paying attention to the Stars' new divisional mates, but also the Eastern conference teams. My Twitter timeline is now a great balance of east and west media and fans.

Boy, has my NHL view changed. I've been exposed to all sorts of new perspectives from various media, team play by play/color analysts, etc. [Side note: Ralph and Razor own in the broadcast department.]

Now that we're over a week into the season, I thought it'd be good to check in on the league as a whole and espouse on the surprises, disappointments, and the "well of course they did" moments so far. Today, we look at the eastern conference. It's not a set of teams we usually discuss in regularity outside of the odd link here and there.

You may not win divisions in October, but the points in the bank early on sure do help. And if you find yourself digging an early hole....well, it can be a lot to overcome when the divisional games mean that much more later in the season.

Speaking of digging holes....

EASTERN CONFERENCE SURPRISES

I'm in shock that the Buffalo Sabres have one point through their first seven games. Mostly because Ryan Miller is generally regarded as one of the better goaltenders in the league, so I'd think he would be able to steal them some points here and there. But the team as a whole has just looked disorganized. I wonder if Miller doesn't get traded at some point this season.

The New York Rangers have a new coach, a new system...and are off to a 1-4-0 start. Somehow that makes me happier about the Stars' 2-2-0 record under their new coach and new system. Henrik Lundqvist can't carry this team and needs someone that can come in and spell him for some games to stay fresh down the stretch. But that won't be Marty Biron, because New York just placed him on waivers. It opens up an interesting situation in goal there in the big apple.

Perennial playoff participant the Washington Capitals have looked more pedestrian in their start than I would have expected given their schedule to start the season. At first glance, I would have expected them to be at a 4-1-1 mark but they find themselves with a 2-4-0.

Never saw the Toronto Maple Leafs starting off as hot as they have. I also don't expect it to continue, either. The teams they've beat so far have been more of the ones struggling to start, and they haven't had too many tests against their division power houses yet.

EASTERN CONFERENCE USUAL SUSPECTS

Oh look, the Detroit Red Wings are continuing to dominate...raise your hand if you're not surprised by that. High fives for everyone!

The Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins are still looking dominant as well.

EASTERN CONFERENCE 'WELL OF COURSE THEY DID' MOMENTS

So the Florida Panthers went out and signed a goaltender. A little surprising because the Jacob Markstrom and Scott Clemmensen tandem seemed to have the confidence of the team in the offseason. But if you want an upgrade you sign....Tim Thomas? Really? I would have thought Ilya Bryzgalov, if anyone, would be signed there. Thomas doesn't appear to have missed a step even after missing a full season, but age will catch up to him eventually, right?

The Philadelphia Flyers continue to make moves that make you shake your head. The latest was firing Peter Laviolette, the same one who management said had their full faith this offseason, after not winning their first three games. With the level of talent on the head coach market this offseason, you have to wonder why you wouldn't have tried to get one of those coaches if you were looking to make a change instead of waiting for the start of the season.

The Sabres made one-time Dallas Stars favorite Steve Ott their captain. On the road. Because of course that's who you want talking to referees in opposing arenas...the little pepper pot himself.

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