Hockey

NHL Week 1 Analysis

Week one of the NHL season is coming to a close and though it’s only one week, it is clear to see which teams are in need of significant improvement and which should focus on building on their success.

The biggest stories of the NHL offseason, Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel  (#1 and #2 overall picks) were relatively cool in their first couple of NHL games; in fact, McDavid did not score his first NHL goal until Tuesday night in a 4-2 loss to the Dallas Stars.  He has registered just that single point in three total games.  The #1 prospect was predicted to have a major breakout season that seems to be in question after week one.  Meanwhile, Jack Eichel has done more for the Buffalo Sabres than McDavid has for the Oilers; Eichel has two NHL goals (his first came in game one vs. Ottawa) and has yet to record an assist.  The Sabres have won just one of three games and the Oilers have yet to win a game.

Only six teams remain undefeated: The Montreal Canadiens (4-0-0), San Jose Sharks (3-0-0), Detroit Red Wings (3-0-0), Nashville Predators (3-0-0), Arizona Coyotes (2-0-0) and Minnesota Wild (2-0-0).  Of the six teams, two teams did not make the playoffs last season, the Coyotes and the Sharks.  As the Canadiens continue to meet their expectations after a fantastic season last year (11o points), the Red Wings, Wild and Preds continue to score goals behind their outstanding goaltending. San Jose goaltender Martin Jones dazzled this week as he allowed just one goal in three games on a total of 78 shots (two shutouts).  Jimmy Howard continues to be Jimmy Howard (allowing his first goal on Tuesday night against Tampa Bay) and Pekka Rinne, well, he continues to do Pekka Rinne things (stopping seemingly everything).  The surprise around the league is the goaltender in the desert; Mike Smith of the AZ Coyotes (who had a rough season last year) is now an oasis amongst a young team thirsty for a savior.  Smith stopped 40 of 41 shots against the LA Kings and allowed one goal on 28 shots against the (granted, not this season) offense heavy Pittsburgh Penguins to carry the Coyotes to a 2-0-0 start.  Time will tell if Smith will continue to shine in the desert and help a young Yotes team make a run this season.

Amongst the rookies in the league, Oscar Lindberg of the New York Rangers has four goals (including a hat-trick) in the first week of the season, an incredible feat for any NHL player, let alone a rookie. Dylan Larkin of the Red Wings has three goals and one assist in just three games played and Max Domi of the Coyotes has marked one goal and one assist in the first two games of the season.  Rookies will be a vital element to many teams’ successes this season as young teams such as the Coyotes will rely on their younglings (with some veteran support) to carry the team while the veteran heavy New York Rangers added fresh, young legs to the roster.

While some teams prospered during the first week of play, others were not so fortunate and some did not even manage to earn a point.  The pointless teams in the league include: The Los Angeles Kings (0-2-0), Carolina Hurricanes (0-3-0), Pittsburgh Penguins (0-3-0), Edmonton Oilers (0-3-0), New Jersey Devils (0-3-0), Columbus Blue Jackets (0-3-0) and the Boston Bruins (0-3-0).  Perhaps two of the biggest offensive powerhouses in the NHL in the Penguins and Oilers are winless in the first week.  The at-one-time brick wall of Jonathan Quick has posted a 4.50 goals against average during the first week and Tuukka Rask of the Bruins has the worst GAA in the league at 4.72.

Goal leaders:

Justin Abdelkader (DET): 4

Oscar Lindberg (NYR): 4

Zach Parise (MIN): 4

Patrick Kane (CHI): 3

 

Point leaders:

Patrick Kane (CHI): 6

Justin Abdelkader (DET): 5

Gabriel Landeskog (COL): 5

David Krejci (BOS): 5

The first week has given teams an indication of their strengths and weaknesses.  Though it is only one week, teams must look to build on or rebound from their recent performance.

Follow @dylanmiles97 on Twitter for NHL news, analysis and commentary.

Image Source: Patrick Smith/Getty Images North America

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