Before I start-- I know, we're only three games or so into the season and I know this trend has a good chance of not continuing, but it's still fascinating, so we'll talk about it.
The fact that the Columbus Blue Jackets, Minnesota Wild, and Atlanta Thrashers are all the tops of there divisions right now proves that parity is a good thing. I think of those three teams, the Blue Jackets' climb is the most spectacular.
While the Wild have been to the playoffs and the Thrashers have been in the hunt showed that those two teams are going to be in the thick of it in the end, especially with the Wild playing in one of, if not the, toughest divisions in the league. The Jackets have never sniffed the post-season and have often been the laughingstock of the league. Who's laughing now??
The Jackets have all their great young stars (Rick Nash and Nikolai Zherdev) healthy and putting up points, their prodigy goalie Pascal Leclaire is proving he's a #1 in the NHL, and they don't even have their top center in the line-up. The scarier part is that they have a youngster in Gilbert Brule who isn't even playing and they are still getting points on the board. If their healthy last; they could be a threat in the Central Division.
Conversely, teams like the Ottawa Senators, Calgary Flames, and Nashville Predators have been sucking on ice. Granted, the Flames started out like this last season and went on to win the Northwest Division; but still, they have only scored 4 goals in three games. So much for that new look offense they were betting on.
The Sens and Preds are two elite teams that just don't seem to be clicking as they would hope. The Preds have scoring, but their goaltending hasn't been up to par, while the Sens aren't getting offense in key times and the goaltending right now is suspect at best. I guess missing Zdeno Chara really is a big thing in the grand scheme of things.
Like I said, it's still early and there's 70+ games left to play to decide it; but to have elite teams falter and formerly craptastic teams suceed (at least for the time being) only gives more appeal to the NHL and it's new look.