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Surprises and Disappointmets in The NHL So Far

Surprises and Dissapointmets in The NHL So Far

Every new league year comes with a new set of surprising teams and disappointing teams. Through two weeks of the 2021-22 NHL season, there have been no shortage of surprises and disappointments around the league. With it still being so early in the league year, it is difficult to say whether these teams will stay on their given path for the long haul. But for right now, here are some of the biggest surprises and disappointments in the NHL so far.

Buffalo Sabres (4-1-1)

If there was a textbook image for a surprise, this year’s Sabres team would be it. The Sabres are a team supposed to be on an all-out rebuild and projected to be one of the worst teams in the league. They traded away mostly every talented player they had in the offseason, and are still working on doing so for superstar Jack Eichel. But despite this, the Sabres find themselves with a winning record early on. This is continuing off a decent stretch of hockey the Sabres played after firing Ralph Kreuger last season. New head coach Don Granato has clearly had a strong influence on the team, as the Sabres have played a much more respectable game with him at the helm. 

That being said, this run probably won’t last too far past October. Craig Anderson, the 40-year-old starting goaltender, maintaining a 1.76 GAA and .944 save percentage seems highly unlikely. As the opponents get tougher, the Sabres’ lack of comparable talent will eventually catch up to them. But the Sabres have proven that on any given day, they could give an opponent a run for their money. 

Montreal Canadiens (1-6-0)

Surprises and Dissapointmets in The NHL So Far

Courtesy of The Canadian Press

On the opposite end of the spectrum lies the Montreal Canadiens. Fresh off a Stanley Cup Final appearance, there were high expectations placed on this team. But so far the Canadiens look absolutely abysmal. Prior to a 6-1 win over the Red Wings, the Canadiens only scored four goals across five games. This is on top of their defensive unit and goaltending also playing subpar. All in all, absolutely nothing has looked right for the Montreal Canadiens thus far. Some struggles with defense and goaltending were expected with stars Shea Weber and Carey Price expected to miss most if not all of the season. The offense, however, was supposed to be something the Canadiens could rely on. They’re going to have to make adjustments fast so they don’t lose pace in a crowded Eastern Conference. 

Tampa Bay Lightning (3-3-1)

Surprises and Dissapointmets in The NHL So Far
Courtesy of ESPN

The reigning champs also fall under the category of disappointing through two weeks. They’ve been struggling to beat some of the more lowly teams on their schedule. They needed seven goals to beat the Red Wings and lost 5-1 to the Sabres. They’ve also needed overtime in two out of three of their wins. Altogether, the Lightning have looked very beatable compared to the previous two seasons. 

This was partially expected due to a large amount of salary cap-related departures in the offseason. But not to the extent of them having one regulation win through seven games. To make matters worse, star winger Nikita Kucherov is expected to miss a big portion of the season. The Lightning are a high-quality franchise from the top down, so it’s hard to believe they won’t find a solution to their problems and ultimately reach the postseason. But the early play of this team is casting some doubt on a potential three-peat as champions. 

San Jose Sharks (4-2-0)

Surprises and Dissapointmets in The NHL So Far
Courtesy of Getty Images

The San Jose Sharks have been a very poor hockey team over the past two seasons. Not much was done to change that over the offseason, but yet the Sharks find themselves with a winning record early on. This hot-start is even more impressive considering they’re without winger Evander Kane as he deals with a multitude of issues. Kane notwithstanding, the Sharks team play has been great through their first six games. The wins have come against some impressive competition in the Toronto Maple Leafs, Winnipeg Jets and the Canadiens (despite their struggles).

Even in their two losses they’ve managed to stay competitive, they haven’t been thoroughly dominated. Part of their resurgence is due to a revival of Erik Karlsson, who’s bounced back nicely after a rough season. Like the Sabres, it doesn’t seem likely the Sharks will maintain this level of play with their questionable roster. But if this high level of team play continues, the Sharks could find themselves on the fringe of playoff contention.

Featured image courtesy of Getty Images

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