NHL 2017-18 Recap Week 1 – Suprising NHL teams off to hot starts, Auston Matthews and Alex Ovechkin are on fire, Scoring is up and the Coyotes are down
This has probably been one of the more eventful opening week plus of an NHL season, maybe ever. A lot of it you’ve probably heard, or read, about already and you’ll get to do so again one more time. But there’s also been some surprises. Sure Ovechkin is scoring, the Maple Leafs and Blackhawks are playing well. But none of that is all that surprising. But the Avalanche, Red Wings, Golden Knights and Devils all off to great starts? That is surprising.
All of them started out 4-1, although the Avalanche just lost to drop to 4-2, but none of them figured to make the playoffs this season. It’s still real early so I imagine they will all eventually fall back to where they should be. Nevertheless, they are still compelling stories. The Vegas Golden Knights have the whole city behind them after the horrific mass shooting. So it’s good to see them get off to a great start. The fact that they are an expansion team playing this well so early adds another level to it. Marc-Andre Fleury had been playing well until he got concussed again. He is now on injured reserve for the time being. James Neal leads the team with six goals and three game winning goals. I’m still surprised the Predators didn’t protect him. Malcolm Subban, Alex Tuch and Vadim Shipachyov all debuted for the Knights against the Bruins and made an immediate impact in their win. It’ll be key for the Knights to develop all their young players.
The Devils are also a surprise with a young core balanced core leading the way. And I know what you thinking. They are led by Taylor Hall and Nico Hischier. But you would be wrong. Hall only has one goal and Hischier only has two points. Will Butcher and Jesper Bratt are leading the team in points. Two people you’ve never heard of. It’ll be interesting to see if the Devils can keep this attack balanced attack going.
As for the Avalanche, it looks like Semyon Varlamov may have his best season in goal ever. But more noteworthy is, the Avalanche are the first team to actually get production from Nail Yakupov. Normally, five points in six games is not something to get excited about for a former number one overall pick but in this case, it is. In his lat two season combined, Yakupov had 11 goals. So if he can continue at about a point per game pace, he would have resurrected his career. And at under a million for the season, the Avalanche would have gotten a bargain.
Things I like
1. Auston Matthews is going to give Connor McDavid, and possibly Alex Ovechkin, a run for his money for the Hart Trophy. Matthews has eight points in five games and he already has two game winning goals. Including the game winner in overtime at the end of his shift in Montreal. He also had a nifty goal where he passed to himself twice. Matthews might end up overtaking McDavid as the face of the NHL for the next generation. I just wish the first bonafide American star, sorry Patrick Kane, was actually playing in an American market. As for the rest of the Maple Leafs, they are the definition of a balanced team. In fact, everyone has at least one point except for Eric Fehr.
2. Alex Ovechkin has nine goals in five games, including his back to back hat tricks to start the season. He is on pace for over 100 goals which probably won’t hold but it would be really cool if it did. Ovechkin and his teammates Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov currently hold the top three spots in scoring. T.J Oshie has the fifth spot. It feels like the Capitals are going to run roughshod over the league again in the regular season and then suffer another early playoff exit. Just seems like they are setting themselves up for even more disappointment down the road.
3. If you think goal scoring is way up, it is. So far we are way outpacing last years goal production. Last year, we had the most goals scored since the 2010-11 season. Right now, we are on pace for the most goals since 2005-06 at 2.93 a game. Keep in mind they weren’t able to shrink the goalie equipment in time for this season. That’s next season.
Things I don’t
1. It’s early so there’s not much to not like at this point in the season except for the Arizona Coyotes. They are the only team without a win so far. They are last in goal differential, almost last in goal against, I think you get the picture. Max Domi and Clayton Keller are really going to have develop their game and their chemistry fast. Another long season in the desert.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.
Mark Borowiecki vs Milan Lucic
Fists of fury in this one.
Adam McQuaid vs Nikita Zadorov
A decent long fight mostly dominated by McQuaid.
Goat of the Week
Aleksander Barkov – Florida Panthers
You can’t give turnovers to the champs. Barkov fans on his clearing pass and then falls down, enabling the Penguins to capitalize with a shorthanded goal. Not good. The Panthers lost by a goal.
Stat Line of the Week
10/09/17 Calgary 2 vs. Anaheim 0
Pretty much everyone had a hat trick in their first game, so I’m going to spotlight a goalie. Goalie stats aren’t as interesting but Mike Smith stood tall in his 43 save shutout performance against the Ducks. I crapped all over the Flames move of acquiring Smith because I didn’t think he was better than Brian Elliott and Elliott deserved another chance. So far the Flames and Smith have both proved me wrong. We’ll see if he can keep this up all season.
1 – Career NHL fight for Tyler Seguin who had a Gordie Howe hat trick against the Avalanche
453 – Career wins for Roberto Luongo, tied for 4th all time
9 – Plus/minus of Bobby Ryan, 1st in the NHL and unusually high for him
9 – Teams that Jaromir Jagr has scored at least one point for
4 – Game winning goals for Brandon Saad already, 1st in the NHL
This Week in Hockey History
Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.
October 09, 1974 Pete Mahovlich scored his second career hat trick to lead the Canadiens to a 5-5 tie with the Islanders, at the Forum. The win extended the Canadiens’ opening night unbeaten streak to 12 straight games (8-0-4).
October 10, 2002 19-year-old Stanislav Chistov became the youngest player in NHL history to get four points in his first game, when he scored a goal and added three assists in his NHL debut as the Mighty Ducks won 4-3 over the Blues at St. Louis.
October 11, 1979 Rookie Brian Propp scored his first NHL goal, as Philadelphia began a team record 26 game home unbeaten streak (19 wins, 7 ties) with a 5-2 win over the Islanders at the Spectrum.
October 12, 1988 Greg Adams scored his second career hat trick and added an assist, and led Vancouver to a 6-2 win at Edmonton. The victory snapped a 27-game winless streak for the Canucks against the Oilers (0-24-3).
October 13, 1990 Chicago Blackhawks won 4-1 against the North Stars at Minnesota to record the 1,700th win in team history. Steve Larmer led the scoring with his 5th career hat trick and an assist.
October 14, 1967 Charlie Hodge recorded his 22nd career shutout as the expansion Oakland Seals beat the visiting Minnesota North Stars, 6-0. The first shutout in franchise history came in the Seals’ second NHL game.
October 15, 1995 Ottawa’s Dan Quinn set a team record with three goals and three assists as the Senators won 7-4 at Tampa Bay. Quinn broke the record of five points set by Alexei Yashin in Nov. 1993.
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
4. New Jersey
28. NY Rangers
26. San Jose