Your weekly shot of hockey to go with your coffee
So we’re a week and a half into play and we’ve seen some interesting sights and some surprises. Home teams have been great and a lot of that has to do with the fans excited for the coolest game on Earth’s return. Let’s take a look at the heat check…
Hottest Start: Edmonton Oilers (10 Pts, #1 Pacific, 5-1 in Last 10 Games)
Connor McDavid is red hot and his play is impacting the rest of the Oilers. Jordan Eberle is sneakily climbing the ladder in scoring. Cam Talbot has been fantastic between the pipes as the Oilers are riding high after a win in the Heritage Classic last night.
Runner Up: Montreal Candiens (9 Pts) — The only team in the NHL without a regulation loss, the Habs have once again come out firing. Carey Price is anchoring down the league’s best defense (so far) and the newly acquired Shea Weber is immediately making an impact in Montreal.
OTHER: St. Louis Blues, Tampa Bay Lightning
STREAKING PLAYERS: McDavid (EDM), Brad Marchand (BOS), Brent Burns (SJ), Auston Matthews (TOR), Richard Panik (CHI)
SURPRISINGLY HOT: Vancover Canucks (9 Pts) — What’s this? The Canucks were supposed to stink. Let’s break this down. Vancouver started off 4-0: a shootout win over Calgary, two overtime wins over Carolina and St. Louis, and a 2-1 win over Buffalo. Their two losses were a shoutout loss at LA and a 4-2 loss to the Ducks yesterday. Nothing too impressive in this young season but worth noting.
Slowest Start: Calgary Flames (3 Pts, #6 Pacific, 1-4-1 in Last 10 Games)
The Flames have a lot of potential but have been lit up to start the season. They’ve let up 27 goals in their first six games, the next-highest is Chicago’s 22. Troy Brouwer and Mikael Backlund have started decently well but the rest of the team needs to step up.
Runner Up: Arizona Coyotes (2 Pts) — An alright defense but terrible offense; their only win came in OT after they blew a three-goal lead to the Flyers.
OTHERS: Buffao Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes — both only have one win but have at least forced a few OT losses
ICE COLD PLAYERS: Nick Bonino (PIT), Patrick Sharp (DAL), James Neal (NSH) — all have had amazing moments in the playoffs in their careers but have only one point each and terrible plus/minus ratings
What to Watch For This Week:
Every team is jockeying for a good starting position and trying to define themselves: contender or pretender, MVP or 4th line scrub, the list goes on and we’ll be seeing some good hockey while the teams try to figure that out. Tomorrow night features two great Eastern Conference showdowns. The Penguins host the Panthers in a potential early preview of the Eastern Conference Finals while East-favorite Tampa Bay Lightning get their first crack at rookie sensation Auston Matthews and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Wednesday features a showdown between two of the league’s best scorers. Alex Ovechkin and the Caps travel to Edmonton to take on the Oilers and captain Connor McDavid. Tampa Bay continues their Canadian swing in Montreal Thursday night and the next night Edmonton travels to Vancouver to face the surprising Canucks. Saturday night sees the renewal of two rivalries, one we’ll get to below, the other is Canada’s Yankees/Red Sox: Maple Leafs/Habs. Similar to its American counterpart, this game is always a must-watch no matter how good or bad each team is.
The Flyers struggled a bit on Thursday as they dropped their home opener to the Ducks but bounced back in a massive 7-4 win over the Hurricanes Saturday night. Admittedly, I did not watch either of these games live as Thursday I was watching the Cubs and Saturday I was at Penn State/Ohio State but I’ve seen the highlights! The Flyers look pretty solid to start the season and much of the team is getting involved in the action. Jake Voracek looks like he’s out to prove that last year was an anomaly while Captain Claude remains one of the best set-up men in hockey. As I mentioned on Thursday, the young guns have really impressed me and they continued that stellar play into the weekend. What’s made me the most excited has been the play of Matt Read and Sean Couturier. Pretty much any Flyers preview cited them a pivot points to a good Flyers season. Both had great rookie years but haven’t been able to match that level of play…until this start. Read leads the team (and is tied for second in the NHL) in goals and Couturier has been electric! The Flyer have a busy week as they are in Montreal tonight only to turn around quickly and host the Sabres tomorrow night. The action continues in Philly Thursday against Arizona and Saturday night against the hated Penguins. Saturday night should be rocking as the Flyers and Pens renew the rivalry for another season and their only game against one another until the end of February. The two teams could be in different places by then but Saturday is a good tone setter. The Flyers’ busy week wraps up Sunday night in Carolina.
Disagree? Let me know in the comments