The ice is fresh, the sticks are newly taped, and the season is underway for the National Hockey League. Coming into the season we posed questions such as “can the Avalanche repeat?”, or “how much closer will Alex Ovechkin get to Wayne Gretzky’s all-time goal record?” And while we aren’t able to answer either of those at this point we can at the very least look at the good, the bad, and the concerning of week one.
There’s a handful so let’s start with the most impressive and that’s the Calgary Flames. In an off-season where the Flames lost Johnny Gaudreau to free agency and traded both Matthew Tkachuk and Sean Monahan, it seemed like they were taking a step back. But GM Brad Treliving had other ideas. In the Tkachuk deal Jonathon Huberdeau, MacKenzie Weegar, Cole Schwindt, and a first-round pick. Both Weegar and Huberdeau have made immediate impacts for the Flames with Weegar having two assists and Huberdeau having one through two games. To add on to those pickups they went out and signed playoff hero and Stanley Cup champion Nazem Kadri to a seven-year $49M contract. He’s totaled a goal and two assists through two games and is a plus-one so far. The Flames are 2-0-0 after the first week beating not only the defending Cup champions 5-3 over Colorado but also winning the first meeting in the Battle of Alberta 4-3 over Edmonton. It’s still early but the Flames added some good players this off-season and could be a fun team to watch.
Speaking of the good it’s hard to not talk about the Pittsburgh Penguins. A team just like the Flames who went 2-0 on their opening week and lead the league in scoring with 12 goals through their first two games. Tristan Jarry looks to be back in his All-Star form giving up only four goals through those games. While the Pens may have played the measly Arizona Coyotes in the first game they did muster up a 6-2 win over the always-tough Tampa Bay Lightning in the second. Sidney Crosby doesn’t appear to have to lost a step at all as he has six points so far and was named the NHL’s first star of the week. He along with linemate Jake Guentzel appears to be in midseason form and ready for a long push come the playoffs.
The Arizona Coyotes what more could you expect from a team that isn’t wanted by their own city? The ‘Yotes start the season 0-2-0 giving up 12 goals a game. There aren’t many bright sides on this Arizona roster Jakob Chychrun, and Barrett Hayton are the only players to be seem to be worth anything. If the Coyotes can’t find a way to be even a middle-of-the-pack team this season Chychrun could be on a new team come the deadline depending on how desperate some of the contenders become.
If you want to talk about bad you need to talk about the very bad, and that’s the San Jose Sharks. Through their first four games, the Sharks find themselves 0-4-0 and have been outscored 14 to six. They just lost back-to-back games against the Nashville Predators and have been absolutely abysmal to start the season. Unlike the Coyotes there really is nothing exciting to write home about on the Sharks side. Timo Meier and Evgeny Svechnikov look like the only deadline rentals for contenders with the rest of the “big names” locked up for another few years.
To say you aren’t at least slightly concerned as a Columbus Blue Jackets fan may mean you’re delusional. The Blue Jackets have started the season off 0-3-0 and had a ton of expectations coming into this season. Columbus made waves this offseason by signing Johnny Gaudreau to seven-year deal with an annual average value of $9.75M fans were ready to name them contenders. If the JacketKekäläinens can’t get this ship righted before the midseason mark GM Jarmo Kekäläinen could be looking for a new job.
Let’s combine both the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Washington Capitals in this one. First off the Lightning, maybe those deep playoff runs have caught up to Tampa Bay. Three straight years of playing not only a full 82-game schedule but also playing all the way into the Stanley Cup finals and winning two of those. This offseason also saw the losses of forward Ondrej Palat who signed in New Jersey and defenseman Ryan McDonagh who was traded in order to make cap space for Tampa. The Lightning being off to a slow start shouldn’t worry too many as this team knows how to win but definitely something to pay attention to down the stretch. As for the Capitals they just haven’t appeared to be themselves. Starting out 1-2-0 and scoring only five goals thus far has to have Caps fans sweating. So far Ovi only has one assist to his credit and hasn’t found the back of the net just yet. The Capitals have a very experienced group and should be able to turn things around just like Tampa Bay.