warning signs canes weekly

Warning signs: Canes Weekly [02/17/2018]

A response to Peters was what the Hurricanes needed and it certainly looked as if though they did. However two tough losses to the New Jersey Devils and the New York Islanders have landed the team one point out of a playoff position. [Both the Devils and the Islanders now hold the Wild Card spots in the East.]  

Good wins and tough losses

The Carolina Hurricanes finished their fifth game in eight days Friday night with a 3-0 loss. Although an expectable outcome for a team playing two back-to-backs in a week, the Canes deserved more. Down 1-0 in the third, Jeff Skinner produced a much-needed goal. Under further review the play was ruled offside and the goal was discredited.

Throughout the game the Canes maintained high energy. Brock McGinn laid a big hit on Matthew Barzal in the first period to get the crowd into it. The Hurricanes held the shot advantage at 45-23. And best of all, Cam Ward once again showed that he wants to be the number one in Carolina.

Thursday night, Carolina took on New Jersey in a critical matchup, one that they wish they could have back. Suffering a 5-2 loss wasn’t what they were looking for. The most disappointing part unfortunately being that of Scott Darling.

In the three other games, the Canes delivered a response that both Peters and all Caniacs were looking for. Producing three or more goals in three straight games alongside very good goaltending play. The Canes even flexed their muscles against one of the best defensive teams in the league as they put up seven goals against the Los Angeles Kings.

Cam delivers and Darling quivers

Canes

(Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHL via Getty Images)

A few short weeks ago the goaltending situation in Carolina was still up for grabs. That is no longer the case as Cam Ward has proven to

be the starter. Since the All-Star break Cam has allowed three or fewer goals in every game he has started. He recorded his second shutout of the season on February 1. Ward also posts a .938 save percentage and a 4-2-1 record since.

Meanwhile Darling has once again continued his streak of inconsistent play. Having played three games since the break Darling has allowed four or more goals twice. He posts a .878 save percentage and a 1-2-0 record. However, don’t write him off. Darling has the ability to play, but his confidence is at an all-time low. Given that Ward has earned the starting role, Darling may thrive as he once did with the Chicago Blackhawks.

McGinn for the win

Brock McGinn has been the fire and passion the Hurricanes have needed. He has truly stepped into a role that the Canes have longed for. He brings a physical presence that can rile up any crowd. Not to mention he has been producing points more often this season (10-11-21). McGinn has become a crowd favorite and rightfully so.

The most interesting man in the league

Jeff Skinner has continued to impress. Though he has not stayed with the same line at all this season (due to Bill Peters shake-up style), Skinner continues to make plays out of nothing. Skinner’s somewhat miraculous plays often carry this offense. When he is at his best (being creative) the Canes are usually right there as well. With one of the most interesting styles of hockey, Skinner possesses the ability to score at any moment.Just watch this… [CLICK HERE] 

 

Featured image from NHL.com/hurricanes.

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Super 8

Not so Super 8-February 9

And we are back with this week’s “Not so Super 8”.

There was quite a bit of shifting this week in the Super 16, some of which I am not totally in agreement with. I mean sure the Golden Knights lost a couple games in regulation. That doesn’t mean they deserve to be dropped to the third spot.

This week also had a lot fewer teams that even deserved to be in consideration. Most of the teams that missed the Super 16 are on huge slides right now.

Let’s get right to it.

Super 8LA Kings

WHY DID THEY MISS?

This one is tough. They are on a two game win streak, their record the past 10 is 5-5-0 and they are in the top 16 in the NHL. It really just game down to choosing between them, San Jose and Anaheim.

Super 8

Offensive statistics for the LA Kings (Screenshot from NHL.com)choosing between them, San Jose and Anaheim.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

We need to start seeing more production offensively from players other than Anze Kopitar. Just take a look at their offensive stat breakdown. Kopitar leads the team in points by almost 20 above Drew Doughty. And while there is nothing wrong with defensemen who are offensively minded, why the hell is Doughty above any other forward in point production?

In addition to this, Jonathan Quick is not playing his best for the Kings. With only a 2.51 GAA and a .919 S% he really needs to cement his place as the Kings’ number one guy in the crease.

Philadelphia FlyersSuper 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

The Flyers did pretty well this week, so much like the Kings, I am not super sure. Also on a two game win streak and sporting an even better record the past 10 games of 6-3-1, I think they also could’ve had a spot in the Super 16.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

It is too bad the Flyers don’t have better goalies because they have three players with plus 50 point production. The struggles in the crease are killing the team. With Brian Elliot and Michal Neuvirth combing for a dismal 2.67 GAA and a .910 S%. They need a pick me up or their woes will continue.

Super 8Carolina Hurricanes

WHY DID THEY MISS?

This is where the play quality takes a steep drop in the list. The Hurricanes are at an okay 4-5-1 the past 10 games. They have been 9-10-1 their past 20 so they are really playing pretty averagely right now.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

They are only pulling out close wins against average or less than average teams and they are getting smoked by good teams. The Hurricanes really need to find a way to pull out wins against the better teams if they want to move up in the league at all. They need more offensive production but they really won’t ever win games if their goaltending continues to be awful. Cam Ward and Scott Darling combine for even worse numbers that Elliot and Neuvirth, with a 2.85 GAA and a .901 S%. I mean those numbers are just awful and potentially the worst in the league with the exception of the Coyotes.

Florida PanthersSuper 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

The Panthers missed purely because of actual ranking in the NHL. Other than that they are on fire, they have won four straight games and are 6-4-0 in their last 10.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

In their six games before the win streak they had 27 goals against. That is 4.5 goals per game, and it is completely unacceptable. Roberto Luongo needs to step up in a big way to keep their goal differential lower. This team could easily be in the top 16 in the league, they have the pieces to the puzzle. They just need to execute.

New York IslandersSuper 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

They have lost one and are 3-5-2 their last 10. They are gathering points but just not quite enough to keep them on par with the Super 16.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

Win. In. Regulation. A couple of their regulation losses have been by a one goal margin. In addition to that they lost twice in overtime. They need to start pulling that second point instead of settling for one. Also they lost to the Coyotes and the Sabres in that time frame. Those are the worst two teams in the league a win in both of those games flips their past 10 record to a better than average 5-3-2.

Columbus Blue JacketsSuper 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

The Blue Jackets are closer to being in the league’s top 16 than a lot of the teams above them. They missed because of the three game slide they are on right now with a past 10 game record of 3-6-1.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

They need to start getting contributions from their key players. Josh Anderson is leading in goals with 16 and Artemi Panarin leads in points with 42. That’s fine and all, bit where are Zach Werenski, Nick Foligno and Alexander Wennberg? I found them. Way down the stat sheet not really contributing to their team.

Chicago BlackhawksSuper 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

I was really starting to grasp at straws here. The Blackhawks record the past 10 is 2-6-2. That pretty much speaks for itself.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

With the amount of star power this team has, it never ceases to baffle me how badly they are doing this year. They are just waiting for something to click, and when it does I am sure they’ll be back to their winning ways.

Edmonton OilersSuper 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

The Oilers are just finally starting to figure things out this season. It is too late at this point. Their 5-4-0 record the past 10 is okay and it’s far better than most of the bottom dwellers they share real estate with.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

It can’t be just “The Connor McDavid Show” anymore. The kid is LITERALLY carrying the team to victory. He scores the majority of the goals whether they win or lose, and there isn’t much other offensive production.

I have no bonus team this week because every team that did not make the Super 16 cut was relatively average. Whereas in the past teams have been snubbed.

Team logos and featured image courtesy of NHL.com

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Super 8

The not so Super 8 February 2

The NHL puts out their picks for the “Super 16” power rankings each week. They consider these teams the hottest in the NHL.

Every week I will take the eight teams closest to making the Super 16 cut, plus one bonus team (a team that made the Super 16 that should not have) and tell you what I think they are doing wrong and what they need to do to break into the Super 16.

Here are the team in the order that they missed the Super 16 by:

New Jersey Devils Super 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

Honestly, this one has me a little unsure. The Devils sit at 12th overall in the NHL and their record the last 10 games is 4-5-1. It isn’t stellar, but they are sitting better than a few of their counterparts that made the cut. Three of those losses came to the Predators, Bruins and Flyers, all very good teams. The only reason they missed is likely due to the fact that they were on a bit of a downward slide when the Super 16 was released.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE? 

They really need to have Keith Kinkaid step up his game as backup net minder. He has a less than stellar 3.10 GAA and a .896 S%. In addition to that Taylor Hall is leading the team offensively by a great amount. If some of their secondary contributors would step up the team would benefit greatly.

Calgary FlamesSuper 8

 WHY DID THEY MISS?

The Flames were the hottest team in the league to start the year off. They had a seven game win streak and an 11 game point streak. Even though they extended their point streak for 11 games they have lost six straight games.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

The Flames need to learn how to hold a lead. In their last two losses (to the Golden Knights and Lightning) they held a two goal lead at some point in the game. Unforced errors lead to break downs in their defense and ultimately a couple of rough losses. They also need to start winning at home.

Columbus Blue JacketsSuper 8

  WHY DID THEY MISS?

The Blues Jackets’ record the last ten games was 5-4-1, not great, but not too bad. They mostly missed out here due to the fact that a few of their losses the ten games have been to pretty subpar teams (i.e. the Sabres and the Canucks).

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

They need to start beating the easy teams. In addition to that, they need to start beating some of the league leaders as well. They aren’t competing when it counts and it is costing them. Sergei Bobrovsky is playing incredibly well so they need to capitalize on that.

Carolina HurricanesSuper 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

While the Hurricanes are on a three game win streak, they have a deep hole to dig themselves out of. Their record the last ten games is 5-5-0.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

Their net minders need to both step up. Both Cam Ward and Scott Darling are playing at very average levels. In addition to this they aren’t able to keep up with any of the better teams in the league, and they are losing by too big of margins.

Chicago BlackhawksSuper 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

They are sitting at 4-5-1 in their last ten games. They have put the beat down on lesser teams but aren’t able to compete with the top teams in the league.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

The Blackhawks are surprisingly bad. They have all of the pieces. They are a team of all-stars, but nothing is clicking for them. Once they are able to click at the right time and actually start competing with the better teams in the league maybe they will climb out of this hole. They also need to improve their power play.

Florida PanthersSuper 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

They have won two straight but are still just 4-5-1 in the last ten games. Much like the Hurricanes, they are often getting blown out by average teams.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

The fact that they have both James Reimer and Roberto Luongo and they still aren’t able to have solid goaltending is shocking. Both net minders need to step up.

New York IslandersSuper 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

They have two straight losses and a 5-4-1 record their last ten.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

They are getting pretty solid numbers offensively but they are backstopped by one of the worst goalie combos in the league. Not much more to say there.

Vancouver CanucksSuper 8

WHY DID THEY MISS?

They have been consistently struggling not only this year but for the past four or five years. They are sitting at 5-5-0 in their last ten.

WHAT CAN THEY CHANGE?

The player with the highest contribution is their rookie, Brock Boeser. The veterans need to step up and start contributing more and leading the team.

BONUSSuper 8

I don’t think it’s super surprising that the Philadelphia Flyers are the team I think shouldn’t have made the Super 16. They sit below three teams that didn’t make the Super 16 (Devils, Flames and Blue Jackets) and they aren’t even on a hot streak. They have lost three straight and their record the last ten games is 6-4-0, which is fine but still not impressive.

All team logo images courtesy of NHL.com

Featured image courtesy NHL.com

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Stanley Cup Push

Three teams daring to make a Stanley Cup push

As the season trudges on teams, begin getting ready to make their Stanley Cup push. Every year there is one team that flies in under the radar and makes a run in the playoffs. Here are three teams that have the best chance of doing so as the season gets close to crossing the halfway point.

New York Islanders

The New York Islanders are currently playing in the toughest NHL division. At 44 points, the Islanders currently hold the second Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. This makes them the most promising of the three teams on this list to make a deep Stanley Cup push, but there are still many questions by experts surrounding New York.

Stanley Cup Push

(Photo from SB Nation)

Islanders offense

Forwards Josh Bailey and John Tavares lead the way for the Islanders as Bailey is second in the NHL with 50 points and Tavares is third with 49. Bailey and Tavares are very dominant and both find ways to take over games.

The offense is there for the Islanders. New York is third in the NHL in goals per game with 3.44. The Isles are also getting it done on the power play. They rank eighth among the NHL leaders, scoring on 21.2 percent of their chances.

The Islanders are the only team in the NHL with two players that have scored over 20 goals each. The emergence of the young forward Mathew Barzal has also played a significant factor in their success on offense. Barzal currently sits fourth for the Islanders in points with 36. Barzal’s contributions on the offensive side are promising for the Islanders to make a Stanley Cup push.

Islanders defense

For the Islanders to make a push, they are going to have to put more games together on the defensive side. New York currently ranks last in the NHL in goals against at 3.54 goals per game. They are the only team outside of the Colorado Avalanche that are presently scoring three or more goals per game while also giving up more than three goals per game.

The defensive struggles for the Islanders also spread to the penalty kill. The Islanders PK unit is the exact opposite of their power play. The Isles rank 30th in the NHL with a penalty kill success percentage of 73.9 percent. Defensemen Calvin de Haan, Adam Pelech and Thomas Hickey lead a unit that has been struggling the whole season. If these guys can put something together, it could do wonders for the Islanders.

Islanders goalies

A lot of these struggles can be linked to the play of the goalies as well. New York goalies currently have a .896 save percentage as a unit. This ranks them second to last in the NHL. Jaroslav Halak is currently starting at goalie for the Islanders, and he has been average at best. Halak is giving up a career-worst 3.15 goals per games. His backup, Thomas Greiss, has been a major disappointment, giving up a miserable 3.82 goals per game. His .884 save percentage is not much to look at either.

How to make it happen

The Islanders may need to think of making a trade at the deadline. Goalie play is what wins in the playoffs. New York should take a chance on finding one before it is too late. Whether it be a young, unproven hopeful, or a veteran desperate for a team, the Islanders should pull the trigger. The Isles offense has been great all year. They are one goaltender away from being an elite team.

Carolina Hurricanes

If the Hurricanes can get into the playoffs, they have an excellent chance at making a serious Stanley Cup push and possibly could win it. The Hurricanes are nothing special, but they are a team not to take lightly. Everyone on the team is starting to realize their role, and not one player is bigger than the team.

Carolina pushed this mantra so much that they even have two captains that alternate. If the Canes can put it together, they are a dangerous team going forward.

Stanley Cup Push

(Photo by Jamie Kellner)

Hurricanes offense

On offense, the Hurricanes are led by Jeff Skinner, Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen, but they also get some contributions on the defensive side of the ice. Defensemen Noah Hanifin is currently eighth on the team in points with 20. Justin Faulk’s point totals are down this season, but his presence is felt on the ice.

The offensive attack is very balanced for the Hurricanes. They have seven players with eight goals or more. They share the puck well and have eight players in double-digits for assists.

The Hurricanes offense does not wow anybody on paper, but clearly, they are not a team to be taken lightly. The Canes show up at the rink every night and play very well together. If needed, players like Skinner and Jordan Staal can take over, but so far they have not required that to happen. This balance on offense makes them very difficult to defend and can frustrate opponents at times.

Hurricanes defense

Carolina’s defense is very young, deep and talented. Players like Hanifin, Justin Faulk and Jaccob Slavin headline a defense that takes pride in playing sound fundamental defense. The Hurricanes D-men are allowing a league low 29.26 shots per game. This makes it easier on the team as a whole when opponents are not able to get the looks they want.

The signing of Trevor van Riemsdyk will go down as one of the most underrated signings in the offseason. Van Riemsdyk has a team-leading +11 in plus-minus and has eight points to go along with it. He is legging roughly 16 minutes of ice-time per game and he is making sure that it is productive. He will play a role in the Stanley Cup push for the Canes.

As stated earlier, Noah Hanifin is having a fantastic year on offense. 20 points from defensemen at 20 years old is very promising for the Hurricanes franchise. However, for the Canes to make a push, him and Faulk will have to find a way to get their plus-minus up. Goals against are not always their fault, but as defensemen, this is something they pride themselves on. Hanifin is currently -3 and Faulk is -7. For a Stanley Cup push, they will most likely have to get that trending in the positives.

Hurricanes goalies

The goalie play for the Hurricanes this season has been off and on. Scott Darling was acquired in the offseason to replace Cam Ward as the starter this season, but so far Ward has done everything he can to win his job back. Obviously, this is not a severe problem to have.

In 14 games, Ward is giving up 2.53 goals per game and has a save percentage of .917 percent. Darling is allowing 2.88 goals per game with a .896 save percentage in 25 games. It is worth noting that Ward is currently 10-2-1 as the starter.

Bringing in Darling has not gone as planned for the Hurricanes, but clearly, no one is complaining. Ward is reverting to his old ways and playing very well. As he starts to start more in the second half of the season, this team could become dangerous. A Stanley Cup push is not out of sight for the Hurricanes.

How to make it happen

The Hurricanes don’t necessarily have to break the bank in order to make their Stanley Cup push. All the tools are their for this team. They just have to put them together. Over the last month, they have begun doing just that. At most, the Hurricanes should try and trade for a low-budget scorer. But for the most part, the Canes’ best chance is to just ride their current roster out.

Anaheim Ducks

Stanley Cup Push

(Photo by Christian Peterson/Getty Images)

The Anaheim Ducks currently sit fourth in the Pacific Division. hold the second Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. The Ducks just have to find a way to get it all together.

Ducks offense

The Ducks are a lot like the Hurricanes in that they have a very balanced style of play. Anaheim currently has 14 players with 10 or more points and are led by young star Rickard Rakell.

Rakell has 14 goals and 15 assists on the season, giving him a team-leading 29 points. The Ducks have not been able to score at a consistent rate yet this season and currently are rank 25th in goals per game with 2.67.

Although the Ducks have a very balanced scoring attack, they need to get more pucks in the back of the net. This starts with players like Rakell, Corey Perry and Adam Henrique. All three of them have the highest point totals on the Anaheim roster. If they can play well, they can potentially open up more ice for other goal scorers.

Ducks defense

The Ducks defense has been average so far this season, allowing 2.77 goals per game. The defense all around plays sound and does their job. If they can get it together on offense, the defense could potentially turn around and be one of the better units in the NHL.

Josh Manson has had a terrific season so far for Anaheim. Manson has 17 points, but most importantly has a plus-minus of +12. His 17 points ties his total from all of last season, and his plus-minus is the same as last year as well. The play of Manson is helping with the development of Brandon Montour, who is playing his first full NHL season. Montour has 19 points so far and has a plus-minus of +7.

This Ducks defense is on the younger side, but are making giant steps in the right direction. They are majorly helping on the scoring front, and their defense has been pretty good this year. If they can keep this up, they will have a promising chance at a Stanley Cup push.

Ducks goalies

Goalie John Gibson is the primary starter for this Anaheim Ducks team, and he has done a pretty good job. Gibson is allowing 2.70 goals per game with a save percentage of .922 percent. These are promising stats for a young goaltender like Gibson, but unfortunately, he has not gotten help on the offensive side.

Gibson’s record is currently 13-12-4, a record you would not expect to see from a goalie with stats like his. Even when you look at Ryan Miller’s stats, you can see there is an issue. Miller has only played in ten games this season, but he has allowed 2.23 goals per game with a save percentage of .928 percent, but he is currently 4-1-4.

The goalie play from the Ducks is precisely what you need to make a Stanley Cup push. Like I said earlier, teams that have good goaltending in the playoffs tend to make big runs. The Ducks have all the making to be one of those teams.

How to make it happen

The Ducks need to get a scorer or two. Adding a scorer to their struggling offense could be the breath of fresh air that they need. They do not necessarily have to go for broke, because they do have a young team, but they need to add an offensive piece. The Ducks have all the parts defensively to make a playoff run, but they need guys to start putting pucks in the back of the net if they even want the chance at that.

 

Featured image by Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

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NHL first month

First month in review: One down, six to go

The first month of hockey for this season is in the books. Nine teams are currently in a playoff spot that were not at the end of last year. An expansion team registered 16 out of a possible 22 points. A pair of teammates are the top two point getters in the league. However, there were 118 more slashing calls than last season through the first 57 games and has continued to spiral.

Frustration has hit with these penalties, but hasn’t dissipated the entertainment value whatsoever. We are fans of the most consistently ultra-competitive league. Any team on any given night can win a hockey game. The parity in the NHL is unbelievable, which gives fans the hope that their team always has a shot and anything can happen. Adding that up with the overall entertainment of hockey, the first month was a success.

The Tampa Bay Lightning and St. Louis Blues are at the top of the Eastern and Western Conferences respectfully. Eight points and seven points separate those two teams from themselves and the two eighth seeded teams. Therefore, regardless of what the current power rankings indicate, we are in for a wild ride into mid April. Special teams may have been overkill this first month, but they have made games even more interesting at times. It’s a sample size, but we have no idea where everyone will be at the conclusion of the regular season.

Lightning Bolts and Musical Notes

The top teams in the NHL after one month reside in Tampa Bay and St. Louis. Each of these clubs notched 10 wins in their first 13 games. The top three scorers in the league play for both of these teams. They both battled one another in Tampa the second week with the Bolts winning by one goal. There are positives and negatives to both of these starts, but they have clearly proven to be where they stand.

NHL first month

Photo by Getty Images

Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov are the best duo in hockey right now. Together, they netted 45 points and are a combined +13 to start the season. Their top goaltender, Andrei Vasilevskiy, is 10-1-0 with a 2.42 goals against average. Rookie defenseman Mikhail Sergachev had a great first month in the league with 11 points (four goals, seven assists).

However, not having Ben Bishop has put some pressure on their goalie situation as backup Peter Budaj let in eight goals and posted a .855 save percentage in his two starts.

St. Louis has one of the best lines in hockey with Jaden Schwartz, Brayden Schenn and Vladimir Tarasenko. They totaled 42 points and were a combined +30 in October. Their defensive core has a league-high 14 goals. The Blues have the best goalie tandem with Jake Allen and Carter Hutton through the first month as they combined for a 2.07 goals against average and a .936 save percentage. Depth is the concern as only five of their 43 goals have come from their bottom six.

The Blues and Lightning have the potential to remain at the top of the standings with the pieces they have in place. They also can be removed in a day. Therefore, there is no time for any form of complacency. It’s a long way to go, but will these two link up in the finals?

Caps/Hawks Right in the middle

Two of the NHL’s regulars at the top of the standings have had mediocre starts to their seasons. Chicago finds themselves in the final Wild Card position and just a game over .500. Washington notched just five wins, a game under .500, and are out of the playoff picture after the first month. Both teams were the No. 1 seeds in their respective conferences a year ago. What has sprung this inconsistent start?

NHL first month

Photo by Getty Images

The Blackhawks made a number of offseason transactions. They traded away former rookie of the year Artemi Panarin. Niklas Hjalmarsson was sent to Arizona, which has put their defensive depth in question. Scott Darling got traded to Carolina, which has deeply weakened their goaltending situation. Corey Crawford has posted a 1.91 goals against average and recorded all of their wins, but backup Anton Forsberg has yet to get a win letting in 11 goals in his three games of work.

Last year’s Presidents’ Trophy winners are out of sorts at the start of November. Needed money was given to players in the offseason, but all of the scoring as been in one place. The Caps’ top line is still the best in the league with Nicklas Backstrom centering T.J. Oshie and Alexander Ovechkin. However, Barry Trotz has attempted to spread the wealth by putting Ovechkin on line two recently as those three have netted 19 of the team’s 35 goals. Braden Holtby has been less than what he has been to start the year with backup Philipp Grubauer 0-3-1 with a 4.08 goals against average and a .876 save percentage.

This could be what these teams need. They have never been in this position very much as of late. The Hawks and Caps both have new young talent that are waiting to get comfortable. Expect them to still be playoff fixtures once again come mid April.

Sustainable Hot Starts for Devils/Knights?

Parity is a huge element to the National Hockey League as discussed. Two teams not expected to be where they are, but find themselves near the top play in New Jersey and Vegas. The Devils won nine of their first 11. The Golden Knights won eight of their first 11 in their first month in franchise history. How did these clubs get off to such great starts?

NHL first month

Photo from CBS Sports

The New Jersey Devils landed the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft with Nico Hischier, but no one expected a 9-2-0 start. Everyone had them in rebuild mode. However, they have a superstar in Taylor Hall, who recorded 15 points in their 11 games. Rookie defenseman Will Butcher registered 11 assists. Furthermore, they have a formidable goalie tandem in Cory Schneider (6-1-0) and Keith Kinkaid (3-1-0).

Las Vegas has come in hot to the NHL. The Golden Knights grabbed 16 out of 22 possible points to begin their history. Most “NHL experts” and league followers had them in the cellar all year like most expansion teams. No one saw this coming, but expansion rules are different presently. There is more talent in the NHL than ever before and you can’t protect as many players in the draft.

Many teams get off to unexplainable hot starts that are very difficult to maintain over the course of a season. New Jersey and Vegas could be in the thick of it or easily well out of it by March and April. However, no matter the circumstances, these two clubs have added to this season’s already hectic news feed.

We’ve Only Just Begun

One month is a big enough sample size to get a feel for future results for one’s work. It’s also very small when you put it up against close to seven months worth of work. Therefore, we take note of what has happened already, but expect almost anything for the months ahead.

Hockey is a sport that is unparalleled in a multitude of ways. There are generally favorites in sports like football and basketball. This sport can never mess with that concept at this point in time. Tampa Bay had the third best odds to win it all in preseason, but St. Louis had the 18th best odds. Edmonton had the second best odds and only Arizona had a worse record in the first month of the year.

We can highlight good and bad team traits after one month of play, but this is just the beginning. No one knows where anyone will be at the end of the regular season. That is why hockey stands alone.

 

Featured image from NHL.com

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