Every season, there is stuff that happens that can’t be explained, or stuff that we never saw coming, and things that we all knew would happen. This is this year’s NHL Early Season Reactions Column. I will do one for the NBA in a couple of weeks.
Anaheim and Montreal are really good
This really isn’t a surprise. Montreal is leading their conference, and have been really dominate this year. P.K. Subban leads them in assists, which has played huge for Tomas Plekanec, who leads the Canadians in goals. Montreal’s goaltending has been great thus far, with both of their goalies having save percentages over 90%. I expect them to keep it up, since nobody behind them looks stunning, yet.
The Ducks are another non-surprise. Sitting in 1st in the competitive Western Conference, the Ducks are 7th in the NHL in scoring, and 7th in defense as a team. Corey Perry has been a monster so far, leading the team in goals, and having a +/- of 11 so far this season. I also expect them to keep this up, though in the West, which is a lot better than the East, any team can sneak up.
Yea! Two teams that I predicted to be terrible! The Canucks traded Ryan Kessler to Anaheim over the summer, one of their best players. Since, the always great Sedin brothers have shined, leading the team in points. Henrik’s shooting percentage has been great, though Linden Vey has 36.40%. Their shooting a lot better than last year, which is helping. There are teams better than them in the West, though they’re really interesting, but the Canucks will come back to Earth, how hard? We will see.
The Flames are the true shocker so far this year. Mark Giordano and TJ Brodie have been excellent so far, at the top of the team in points. Brodie leads in +/- and assists (tied with Giordano in assists). The Flames are 4th in the league in scoring, though they aren’t shutting people out. Jonas Hiller has been good this season, with a save percentage of 93.5%. The Flames aren’t great; it’s really just a hot start. I don’t trust them a bit, especially in this conference.
Colorado’s slip has already began
I said it in my preview that the Avalanche we’re going to slip. They are young, and lost Paul Stasny to the Blues over the summer. It’s hurt them so far. Their scoring is way down, ranked 16th in the league, and the defense has been awful. Nathan MacKinnon has to lead this team. He’s so great, but yet so raw. Even though Stasny’s been hurt for the Blues, his presence has been missed on the Avalanche’s side of things, on and off the ice. MacKinnon’s +/- has been ugly, and it’s killed them. I think they will improve, but I’m not sure by how much.
Philadelphia needs to get back on track, defensively
Now, part of this resides on their really tough early-season schedule, but the Flyers have been atrocious so far on defense. Steve Mason hasn’t had a good game yet, though he’s backup to Ray Emery. The offense has been fine. Jakub Voracek leads the league in assists, and has had a spectacular year. The injury bug has hurt them, with seven guys on the injury report. Philly hasn’t been good on the road this year, which may not mean a whole lot in hockey, but still, it can fuel some tempers. Goaltending wise, again, Mason hasn’t been good at all yet, and Emery is still one of the better goalies on the league, but they haven’t shut anyone out yet. They have to get back together. I already had them at 6th in the East, and if they want to live up to that, then need to get moving, now.
NBA Column similar to this will be coming eventually.