Winners and Losers of the New NHL Season

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Winners and Losers of the New NHL Season

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Winners and Losers of the New NHL Season

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The month of October has left just as fast as it came in, and we have already made it through the first month of the NHL Season. After an exciting Stanley Cup Final and a spicy offseason, this season was poised to be great. And so far, it has been an absolute banger. So many emerging story lines have been emerging all over the league. The NHL as a whole this season has the highest goals-per-game rate at 6.3 goals per game. That is the highest since the 2005-06 season to start this season. Along with this scoring, we have some new and old names emerging as leading scorers in the league such as Jesper Bratt (Skaters), Erik Karlsson (Defenseman), and Matty Beniers (Rookies). 

With all this scoring and excitement, there have been some teams that have smashed their expectations really early on so far. Meanwhile, we have some other teams that are floundering and underperforming compared to where they were expected to be. Although it is still the first month of the regular season, a lot can be taken away from the success or lack thereof from these teams. So to kick things off, we have three winners and three losers of the NHL so far. 

The criteria goes as follows. For the winners, we have teams that have crushed it in the standings or have gone above and beyond expectations that many fans, analysts, and media were expecting of that team. For the losers, we have squads that are severely underperforming as a team, in the standings, or are not close to meeting their expectations they set out for. Some of this can be taken with a bit of salt as it is slightly opinionated, but most of these picks are based on current roster construction, place in the standings, and advanced analytics. Not to mention, after each team we have some fan reactions and insight to make things a bit more interesting. Without further ado, on with the show!

Winners

Boston Bruins: General Manager Don Sweeney has to be given a ton of credit to the commitment he has made to the Bruins. He went out and managed to get Patrice Bergeron and David Krejčí to return, while also hiring former Stars Head Coach Jim Montgomery, keeping the team extremely competitive. In preseason, many expressed their doubts about how the Bruins could keep the dream alive of being a contender with the state of their roster. At the time, Brad Marchand was out after a double hip surgery and Charlie McAvoy being held out for most of the beginning of the year due to his shoulder surgery.

Despite the odds and criticism, the Bruins have beaten everyone and blown away the competition. The Bruins are dominant, there is no way around it. Coach Montgomery has rejuvenated the Bruins offense while also making them one of the best defensive teams in the NHL. In this new offense, David Pastrňak now more than ever has cemented himself as the franchise forward and one of the best wingers and players in the NHL. His 18 points is 3rd in NHL scoring and he doesn’t seem to stop. Brad Marchand recently returned to the lineup and doesn’t seem to be missing a step which makes this team that much scarier. Their goaltending has also improved with Linus Ullmark taking a huge step to solidify himself as a top tier starter. This team is on another level and their 9-1 record goes to show for it. And a ton of the season is left to show that this team means business fighting for a chance at another cup. 

Fan Comment: “You would never have thought that Boston underwent a major coaching change and almost lost one of its superstars over the offseason with the way the Bruins are playing right now. Jim Montgomery has come in and completely revitalized the Bruins’ offense, and they’re still not even at full health! Brad marchand has recently returned from offseason hip surgery and looks like he hasn’t lost a step, but their big piece on the defense in Charlie McAvoy still hasn’t fully recovered yet!”

New Jersey Devils: The Devils have finally managed to piece together a competitive and successful team after another great offseason. For years, New Jersey has been drafting and developing their star young talent while trying to acquire the next big pieces to surround them with in the offseason. Year in and year out they would be crowned “offseason champions” only for the team to fumble with no avail. The Devils added Ondřej Palát, Erik Haula, Brendan Smith, John Marino, and Vitek Vaněček to add some stability and take the roster to the next level. Many believed the Devils would improve, but not so far as to be the third best team in the NHL with a record of 7-3. Now the narrative has changed, as the Devils have produced one of the best offensive juggernauts in the NHL.

Analytically, the Devils are at the top of major offensive categories due to their excellent 5v5 play from last year, their ability to generate a ton of shots and create even more scoring chances. The core of Jack Hughes, Jesper Bratt, And Jack Hughes are taking major leaps forward to improve the team and continue to become a more potent offensive presence on the ice on a nightly basis. Jesper Bratt has been soaring to new heights for league high totals in assists and for the scoring race. There is so much to like about this new Devils team. A restructured offense, a heavily overhauled power play, and league average goaltending has made the Devils not only an improved team but potentially a contender out East.

Fan Comment: “The Devils are surprising everyone sitting 3rd in the league standing. Their success in advanced offensive stats, and the skaters ability to dominate possession at both ends has been ridiculous. While they are riding a PDO bender a bit, they’re at least at or above breakeven at 5v5. Unlike some of the other expected bottom feeders that have overperformed their expected record early, the Devils really are looking to be a much improved team this year” 

Las Vegas Golden Knights: Las Vegas last year had the worst season in their team’s young history. Last season the team fell out of playoff contention, missing the postseason for the first time in the team’s five-year history. The roster was not even close to their aspirations or even the quality of the unshakable bunch of players that went on three deep playoff runs in the first four seasons. With news that starting net under Robin Lehner was to miss the entirety of the season, many had placed early doubts for Vegas to succeed this year. The Golden Knights have always been known for their “full send” mentality when it comes to acquiring top talent, after some recent failures, many started to criticize if that was the way to truly build a contending team. Now that image and philosophy has changed. Vegas has got their swagger back, especially the Golden Knights’ 9-2 hot start has done the trick. Jack Eichel has become a rockstar on his new team in Vegas, showing the league what kind of top talent he deserved to be.

Major bounce backs from the blue line have helped keep this team super competitive every night. But most of all, goaltender Logan Thompson has been Vegas’ ace in the hole. Thompson played 19 games last year and put up solid numbers, but not enough to consider him a rookie in the NHL. He will certainly play his first full season in the NHL and hold the crease at T-Mobile Arena this season. The 25 year old through seven games played has five wins, an amazing .938 SV%, and a whopping 1.79 goals against average. His excellence, combined with the rejuvenated play from the team have made the Golden Knights the second best team in the league. As long as they continue to ride this trend, Vegas can easily waltz their way back into the playoffs as serious contenders again.

Fan Comment: “I thought they’d look good this year,  but they look like a wagon. I’m stoked Eichel, Pietrangelo, and Theodore bounced back as well as they have. I like their approach of  ‘go for it all the time.’ They’ve looked like one of the best teams in the league.”

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