A lot of seemingly whacky things can happen in small samples in the NHL. Bad clubs can win a few games in a row. Good clubs can lose three out of four. A player can see his shooting percentage climb to three times higher than his career average while a star goalie can watch his All-Star save percentage plummet like a stone.
In the middle of the season, short, aberrant results are usually easier to put into context because there is already a body of existing information to compare them to. The start of the season is a different story, however: because each team begins from scratch, the first 5-10 game segment is privileged over almost any other one-eighth portion of the regular season because it's much easier to project those outcomes forward.
As a result, October records and scoring paces can be very deceiving in the long run. Here are a few of 2011-12 season's early mirages that are bound to dissipate down the road.
Dallas Stars: 5-1-0, 10 points, first in Western Conference