NHL Impressions: Week One

NHL Impressions

Featured Image: Oscar Lindberg, New York Rangers
 
It feels like the hockey season is a few months underway, but it has only been one week since the regular season began. One week in, there have been many surprises and interesting trends around the league. Here are some of them:

This article has been updated (see “Corrections” below)

NHL Impressions: Week One

Standings

  • Six teams are undefeated: Montreal, Detroit, Nashville, Minnesota, San Jose and Arizona. No, that is not a typo; Arizona is undefeated, though Anaheim will pose a serious threat to that status tonight. Surprisingly, Vancouver is 3-0-1. It is still very early, but many expected Vancouver to struggle out of the gate. Goaltender Ryan Miller has been outstanding, stopping 107 out of 112 shots faced.
  • Nine teams in the league are winless: Carolina, Columbus, New Jersey, Pittsburgh, Toronto, Boston, Anaheim, Edmonton and Los Angeles. Two of those teams are considered to be playoff shoe-ins (Pittsburgh, Anaheim), and Columbus is considered to be one of the top teams in the Metropolitan Division. It’s also somewhat surprising that Boston and Los Angeles are winless, especially since they have played so poorly. Tuukka Rask and Jonathan Quick look like third-string goalies. They are obviously two of the most talented goalies in the league, but you wouldn’t know it based on the first week of the season. Both goalies will turn things around, but it has been a wild week.
  • Toronto is currently higher in the standings than Pittsburgh, Columbus, Boston and Los Angeles.

General Observations

  • An inordinate number of rookies have scored their first career NHL goal’s in the first week of the season. It feels like every set of game highlights features someone scoring their first NHL goal. From Jack Eichel (BUF) to Connor McDavid (EDM), who scored his first goal last night, to Oscar Lindberg (NYR) and Dylan Larkin (DET) and Artemi Panarin (CHI) and Max Domi (ARI) and Nikolaj Ehlers (WPG) and Robby Fabbri (STL), to Jared McCann (VAN) and Connor Brickley (FLA) and Viktor Arvidsson (NSH) and Jordan Martinook (ARI), and even to Colton Parayko (STL), who scored two goals last night against the Flames, it seems like First NHL Goal’s are growing on trees. It’s great for the players and for the league, but it has been a glaring trend in the first week of the season. Perhaps it’s representative of the new direction in which the league is headed, where young prospects are earning roster spots over experienced veterans, or perhaps there are just a lot of very talented prospects in the league. Whatever the reason, it has certainly been exciting.
  • Only two games have gone to a shootout (Senators-Maple Leafs and Ducks-Canucks).
  • The Los Angeles Kings appear to be the worst team in hockey. This isn’t an objective evaluation, though the Kings are a league-worst -10 in goal differential, but the Kings look shockingly bad considering the amount of talent on their roster, including Quick.

Stats

  • Coyotes’ goaltender Mike Smith has stopped 67 of 69 shots, going 2-0 with a GAA of 1.00 and a save percentage of .971.
  • Sidney Crosby did not have one shot on goal until last night’s game against Montreal, the Penguins’ third game of the season.
  • Justin Abdelkader (DET) and Oscar Lindberg (NYR) (along with Zach Parise) are tied for second place in goals scored (4).
  • Francois Beauchemin (COL) is tied with Henrik Zetterberg for most assists with 5.
  • Jannik Hansen, who has played on the Canucks’ fourth line, and Jets’ defenseman Mark Stuart are in a seven-way tie for highest plus/minus rating at plus-six.
  • Sharks’ goalie Martin Jones leads the league in all four major goalie categories with an astounding 0.33 GAA, .987 save percentage, three wins and two shutouts.
  • The Colorado Avalanche’s power-play percentage is currently 66.67 percent.
  • The Edmonton Oilers’ and Arizona Coyotes’ penalty-kill percentage is currently 100 percent.
  • The Winnipeg Jets lead the league in goals for (15), and the Bruins and Kings are two of the top-three teams for goals against with 16 and 12, respectively.

 
What do YOU think has been the biggest surprise so far this season?
Post in the comments section below.

 
 
Corrections:
This article stated that a game between the Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens went to a shootout; the Ottawa Senators competed in a shootout against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
This article stated that the Vancouver Canucks are undefeated; the team is 3-0-1.
 
 
Featured image credit: Jared Silber-NHLI via Getty Images