Times columnist Helene Elliott rates the pluses and minuses in the NHL from the previous week:
At 11-2-2, the St. Louis Blues have matched their best start in franchise history. They last earned 11 wins in their first 15 games in the 2003-04 season. They blanked Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby on Saturday in a 2-1 victory over the Penguins, leaving Crosby without a goal against the Blues in seven career games.
The Boston Bruins honored goaltender Tim Thomas with a tribute video Thursday when Thomas returned with the Florida Panthers, his new team. Thomas, the playoff most valuable player during the Bruins' 2011 Stanley Cup run, was injured but acknowledged fans' cheers from his perch in the press box.
Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen had 30 minutes' notice he'd have to start against Vancouver on Sunday, but the Danish rookie made 35 saves in a 3-1 victory. He has saved 92 of 96 shots over his last three games and overall is 6-0-0 with a 1.41 goals-against average and .952 save percentage.
The San Jose Sharks have struggled after a strong start and Coach Todd McLellan had stern words after a loss to Vancouver on Thursday. "We were clearly outworked. When you're in the real world you work for eight hours, and when you're in the hockey world you work for 60 minutes. We didn't even come close to that," he told reporters. Their effort was better Sunday at Winnipeg, but their defense wasn't: their slump grew to 0-1-4 after a 5-4 shootout loss.
The New York Islanders were 0-4 on their trip to Washington, Carolina, Columbus and Montreal. Maybe worse, they lost recently acquired left wing Tomas Vanek to an upper-body injury in the third game. He didn't play Sunday at Montreal and was scheduled to be evaluated in New York.
Buffalo Sabres Coach Ron Rolston has made some questionable decisions. He's reluctant to play his youngest and perhaps most talented players and Friday he benched his top line — including new acquisition Matt Moulson — early in the second period of a 6-2 loss at Anaheim. That dropped the Sabres to 3-15-1. "It was a disaster to be a part of," said goalie Ryan Miller.