By: Jordan Freeman
The NHL regular season is moving right along as teams have been playing for more than a month now. Teams have taken on promising young stars and relied on veterans to help them get the crucial early points up for grabs in the opening of the season.
I am highlighting some teams and the success/struggles each one has faced (in no particular order).
Toronto Maple Leafs: With their first overall pick, the Leafs acquired Austin Mathews and on night one he proved he was worthy of that title. Making his debut memorable with a four-goal performance. Finally, the fans’ woes are, over right? Well…
Toronto has not had the start they were looking for but they are showing signs of improvement, after ending October 2-4-3, the Leafs are currently 7-6-3 going 6-4 in their last ten. Certainly, there is more to see from this Toronto team but is there a playoff run in them?
Montreal Canadiens: The Canadiens are in a very similar spot as they were last season, at the top. With Cary Price still healthy, the Habs are sitting two points above the Rangers with 28. After departing with P.K. Subban and adding Shea Weber, this club has been impressive in all facets of their play. In their last ten they are 7-2-1, so they are not invincible, but if they keep their stars healthy, expect big things from this Montreal team.
St. Louis Blues: The Blues finished last season just two games away from the Stanley Cup Final. A playoff run fans had been expecting for years at that point. After some tough matches in the opening week, the Blues looked ready to pick up where they left off. Despite the loss of David Backes, Troy Brouwer, and Brian Elliot (not to mention a significant portion of their coaching staff) the Blues looked poised to go at least 7-0 to start. Instead the Blues have found significant struggles in several areas, especially scoring. As the season moves on players seem to be finding their strides and the Blues are looking to bounce back and currently sit in the 3rd spot of the Central Division (13th overall) at 8-6-3 and 4-4-2 in their last ten.
Chicago Blackhawks: With a bitter taste, still in their mouths from last year’s playoffs, Hawks fans could only look on in terror as their team started the season 0-2 and battled to stay above five-hundred in October. Now, they cheer as their team stands tall in the central division and 3rd overall in the league. We’ve seen great things from players like Corey Crawford and Artemi Panarin. After a fall from grace the Hawks are back on the rise and with a last ten of 8-1-1. While their time at the top of the Central may change over the season, the Hawks are looking as formidable as ever and should not be taken lightly.
Edmonton Oilers: New arena, new captain, new hope. The Oilers have been one of the surprise teams this season. They have the youngest captain ever in Connor McDavid and he is leading his team with the pride of a team who once reigned supreme. Not everything has been turning up Oilers, since they are 9-7-1, but they are proving that they can compete in this league again and are making it a challenge for other teams to face. Currently they are struggling at 3-6-1 in their last ten. Still they have 19 points and that is good enough for second in the Pacific division and 12th overall.
Columbus Blue Jackets: After making the playoffs just a few years ago, the Jackets have fallen back to a struggling team. But this season, things are not quite that way. Sergei Bobrovsky and Curtis McElhinney have been excellent between the pipes and the forwards are finding ways to score (a lot). Currently Columbus is 8-4-2 (14th overall) and 6-2-2 in their last ten. This is a good show of progress for this team and they’ve been giving fans plenty to cheer for. Hey, no one else can say they took it to Montreal winning 10-0, and no one else likely will.
Vancouver Canucks: After a blazing start for this Canucks team, Vancouver seems to have run into a wall. Currently 6-10-1 (29th) this is a team who started the season 4-0. Since then the Canucks just can’t seem to get the wins on the board, going 2-8 in their last ten and are a far way off from any talks of the playoffs.
Pittsburg Penguins: The reigning Stanley Cup champs the Pittsburg Penguins. Going 10-3-2 (good enough for 4th overall) and 7-2-1 in their last ten. The Pens are looking like a great hockey team right now and have their fans in high spirits. Led by Sydney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburg is looking like a team gunning for a repeat performance in their fiftieth season in the NHL. After a much better start than last season, they certainly could. The NHL hasn’t seen back to back champs in some time now so is this the year? If Pittsburg wants to say yes, they have a lot of stiff competition to say no to first.
That’s just a brief look inside some of the teams in the league right now. As the season moves forward and more games are played we’ll get a more accurate picture of where everyone fits into this thirty-team puzzle. Some teams have a lot to work on if they want a chance to be at the center of it all, while others just need to keep on doing what they’re doing.