The National Hockey League season got underway just a few weeks ago on Oct. 10, and there is already so much to talk about regarding the season thus far. Which players have started off cold and who are the new stars that have begun to break out? Which teams have their fans filled with dread over their horrendous starts and which teams have given their fanbase a shining ray of hope? These are the important questions that fans are discussing right now as the best time of the year begins.
Perhaps the most glaring case in regards to teams’ performance early on has been the play of the Edmonton Oilers thus far. The Oilers have just three points to their name and post the glamorous record of 1-5-1. For a team that was supposed to be one of the best in the NHL going into the season, it has been a disastrous start.
Superstar Connor McDavid has performed well so far, but he can only do so much on his own. Luckily for them, and for all the teams with less-than-ideal starts, it is a long season and it is still very early. Other teams with notable disappointing starts are the Ottawa Senators and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
I have been particularly disappointed with the way the Penguins have started as I really liked the offseason moves they made and thought they were going to be a tough team to beat this year. Look for them to eventually get their chemistry up and go on a big winning streak sometime later this season.
The best team in the NHL so far this year has clearly been the Vegas Golden Knights. They boast a terrific 8-0-1 record thus far and seem to be back to the form they were in last season, if not even better. They are the last remaining undefeated team in the league and I would not be surprised if they go on another big win streak after a tough overtime loss against the Blackhawks that ended their first one.
They look to be the team to beat as the defending champions. Other teams that have been off to a hot start include the Boston Bruins and the Colorado Avalanche, who were the only two other undefeated teams until their recent losses.
The Avalanche have been excellent so far, being led by two of the best players in the NHL in center Nathan Mackinnon and defenseman Cale Makar. The Bruins also seem to be back to the way they played all of last season (excluding the playoffs of course). Look out for these three teams to be at the top when the season comes to an end.
The most talked about player in the NHL this season has arguably been the young phenom, center Connor Bedard, and with good reason. Bedard has five points so far this season and it is widely expected that he will be on the fast track to become one of the biggest superstars in the NHL. The 18-year-old and last year’s number one overall draft pick is one of the most highly touted prospects in all of sports and the hype surrounding him is comparable to San Antonio Spurs rookie Victor Wenyenamba in the National Basketball Association (NBA).
Bedard plays for the Chicago Blackhawks, currently one of the worst teams in the NHL and at the bottom of the standings in the Central Division. The pressure that is on his shoulders right now is immeasurable but I also have every reason to believe that he will live up to the expectations.
Joining the Blackhawks at the bottom of the barrel are the Anaheim Ducks and the San Jose Sharks. I believe that all of these teams will be absolutely terrible this year and have below a five percent chance of making the playoffs. Both teams went into the season with low expectations and have done nothing to change them so far.
Perhaps the best player in the NHL so far this season has been center Jack Hughes. Hughes currently leads the NHL with eighteen points so far this season, three more than the runner-up, center Dylan Larkin of the Detroit Red Wings. The New Jersey Devils still find themselves in the middle of the pack in the Metropolitan division but if Hughes keeps up this level of play, I’m sure Devils fans will be delighted.
I think that the NHL will be very competitive this year and that there will be many teams vying for playoff spots when the time comes. It is still very early in a long season where injuries and other problems will no doubt arise. However, with that being said, I’d like to make a few predictions on how this season will shape out. First and foremost, I believe that the two teams with the greatest probability of winning the cup are the Dallas Stars and the Edmonton Oilers.
These are two extremely good teams and even though the Oilers have had a horrible start, I believe that if they get back on track, the rest of the league could be in trouble. Next, and I know this is somewhat of a hot take, but it is my prediction that the Bruins will do what they could not last year, and win the Stanley Cup for the seventh time in franchise history.
I believe that strong play from right winger David Pastrnak and left winger Brad Marchand, along with fine performances from goaltenders Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman, can lead them to victory this year. Other top contenders that I believe could finish out on top include a repeat from the Golden Knights, as they have proven to be a tough team to beat once again. The Avalanche are looking like they are going to be one of the NHL’s top teams once again, and they have one of the most complete rosters in the NHL. Another team to keep an eye out for is the Carolina Hurricanes. They are another very good team that I could easily see making a deep playoff run.
It is still too early in the season to make any meaningful predictions but as hockey fans, it is our duty to overanalyze every little detail of the NHL. I am looking forward to watching another great season of hockey and regardless of whether my team emerges victorious, I am sure it will be an exciting season.