Your weekly shot of hockey to go with your coffee
The first month of the season is wrapping up and most teams have played at least nine games coming into today. We’re starting to get a good idea of the good and the bad while those teams in the middle are still trying to find themselves. Let’s get to the heat check…
Hottest Team: Montreal Canadiens (17 Pts, #1 Atlantic, 8-0-1 in Last 10 Games)
The Habs are off to the hottest start in the league once again. They fell apart last after goaltender Carey Price went down but Price is back and seemingly better than ever. Shea Weber is immediately paying dividends for Montreal as he leads the NHL in plus/minus and adds a rocket slap shot along with his stellar defensive play.
Runner Up: Minnesota Wild (13 Pts) — The Wild lead the very potent Central Division as they’re riding on one of the league hottest goaltenders: Devan Dubnyk. Dubnyk is the only top five ranked goalie in GAA, Save %, and Wins.
OTHER: Edmonton Oilers, Pittsburgh Penguins
STREAKING PLAYERS: Sidney Crosby (PIT, welcome back), Artem Anisimov (CHI), Connor McDavid (EDM, still), Steven Stamkos (TB)
Slowest Start: Arizona Coyotes (4 Pts, #7 Pacific, 2-6 in Last 10 Games)
Last week I said the Coyotes had an alright defense, that went down the drain quickly. Arizona has now allowed the 4th-most goals in the NHL and while they’ve actually scored a decent amount of goals, 33 goals in 8 games in a very tough hole to dig yourself out of.
Runner Up: Toronto Maple Leafs (7 Pts) — Similarly to AZ, the Leafs have a pretty solid offense lead by Auston Matthews but a terrible defense
What to Watch For This Week:
No games tonight for Halloween after the Sports Equinox yesterday but the NHL returns to its usual Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday heavy weekly schedule. Tomorrow night sees the red-hot Oilers at the slumping Maple Leafs. This is the first meeting between McDavid and Matthews so all eyes will be on this potential long-running rivalry in the making. Tuesday night also features the LA Freeway Rivalry between the Ducks and Kings. The Ducks also host the Penguins on Wednesday night with Pittsburgh traveling across town the next night to faceoff with the Kings. The Penguins stay out West for a Stanley Cup rematch in San Jose.
The Flyers’ last week was…interesting. They actually played pretty well in all of their games as four of the five were one-goal contests. That’s the big positive that you say about the Flyers: they’re gritty. The big negative: the let themselves into massive craters to dig themselves out of. They’ve been fairly successful in this concept so far but the early deficits need to be curbed asap. I’m actually incredible impressed by how well the offense has gelled. The Flyers have scored a league-high 36 goals, granted in one extra game that puts them 3rd in goals per game. I don’t think even the most biased homers wouldn’t have been able to tell you that at the beginning of the season. I think the biggest issue on the defensive side in that Neuvirth has seemingly lost his edge that he was using last season. Steve Mason has come in his relief a few times now so something needs to spark in Neuvirth’s head because I don’t trust Mason to be able to carry the team through these comebacks. Not as busy of a week for the Flyers as they host Detroit on Wednesday and then immediately travel to Brooklyn to face the Isles Thursday night. The team makes their final trip in Montreal Saturday night as the Flyers look to avenge their 3-1 loss to the Canadiens last week.
Disagree? Let me know in the comments