NHL

NHL early season overreaction: Johnny Gaudreau should have stayed in Calgary, Devils are playoff bound

NHL early season overreaction: Johnny Gaudreau should have stayed in Calgary, Devils are playoff bound

The first month of the 2022-23 NHL season is officially in the books. With the campaign still in its early stages, there have been several teams that have surprisingly risen to the top of the standings and some that can be categorized as underachievers.

Equipment like the Philadelphia Flyers, Seattle Kraken i Winnipeg Jets they have been extremely competitive out of the gate. However, they likely won’t stay near the top of the standings as the season progresses.

With the season a month old, we decided it was only fitting to offer our over-the-top reactions to what’s happened so far.

Johnny Gaudreau he was wrong to leave the flames

When Johnny Gaudreau chose to sign with the Columbus blue jackets in July, it was a perplexing move to say the least. After deciding to leave the Calgary Flames, many expected Gaudreau to sign in the Metropolitan Division with either Devils of New Jersey, New York Islanders or the Philadelphia Flyers so he could play closer to his family in New Jersey. However, he caught everyone off guard when he signed a seven-year, $68.25 million contract with the Blue Jackets.

It’s only been 13 games, but maybe Gaudreau made a mistake in deciding to leave Calgary. Out of the gate, Gaudreau has just six goals and six assists playing on Columbus’ first line. Patrick Laine i Boone Jenner. Now, it’s worth noting that Laine missed two weeks last month with an upper-body injury. Still, the Blue Jackets are off to just a 4-9-0 start with an Eastern Conference low eight points. Obviously, it’s too soon to tell if Gaudreau made the right decision, but early returns haven’t been great for the star winger after nine phenomenal seasons with the Flames. — Chris Bengel

Logan Thompson he’s playing like a Vezina Trophy candidate

The Vegas Golden Knights they are off to a great start in the first month. This is a group that has amassed a 13-2-0 record so far (26 points) which has earned them the best record of the NHL. It’s been a surprising start for a team that was surrounded by a bit of uncertainty once a goalkeeper was announced. Robin Lehner would miss the entire 2022-23 season after undergoing hip surgery. However, goaltender Logan Thompson has been spectacular between the pipes for Las Vegas so far this season.

Thompson currently has an 8-2-0 record to go along with a 2.32 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage. The Golden Knights goaltender has allowed more than three goals just twice this season and has recorded a pair of shutouts. Thompson had 17 starts throughout the 2021-22 campaign, but the pressure is much different when a netminder is “the guy” every night. Thompson has established himself among the league’s best in a month of play. If this level of stellar play continues, this Golden Knights team can certainly make another Stanley Cup run. — Sticks

The Devils are a playoff team

After appearing in the Stanley Cup Finals in 2012, it’s been a rough stretch for the New Jersey Devils. The Devils have qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs just once in the last 10 seasons, including missing the postseason in each of the last four campaigns. Through these struggles, the team has accumulated a lot of young talent and they are finally seeing the fruits of this work.

Through their first 12 games, the Devils have compiled an 11-3-0 record and lead the Metropolitan Division with 18 points. Yes, you read that correctly. The Devils lead a division that has the New York Rangers, Carolina Hurricanes, Pittsburgh Penguins i Washington Capitals. A big reason for that is New Jersey’s scoring prowess. The Devils are currently averaging 3.64 goals per game, which is good for sixth in the NHL. Jesper Bratt has been playing out of his mind, recording at least one point in each of the Devils’ first 11 games to set a franchise record. Nico Hischier He’s also off to a tremendous start centering the team’s top line and has thrived in the faceoff circle, winning 58.3 percent of his draws (seventh in the NHL).

It’s obviously very early, but the Devils have picked up wins over the likes of Edmonton Oilers, Colorado Devessall and the Calgary Flames so far in the young season. The team will be forced to be without a starting goalkeeper Mackenzie Blackwood for three to six weeks due to an MCL sprain. However, if the Devils can continue to produce offensively, they should do well and be in the thick of the playoff race by the end of the regular season. — Sticks

The St. Louis Blues they are in big trouble

Last season, the St. Louis Blues confused me by playing a style of hockey that allowed them to win games despite being beaten in statistical areas like shot attempts and expected goals. Essentially, St. Louis was more selective with the shots he took. Instead of settling for spot-up shots, the Blues preferred to create truly dangerous scoring chances by attacking off the rush or trying to get pucks into the slot.

Through 11 games this season, that strategy has failed them. The Blues have managed just one win in their last nine games in regulation, and are in the basement of the Central Division. So far, the process isn’t much different than last year. St. Louis ranks 22nd in five-on-five expected goal share (47.57 percent), per Natural Stat Trick, but the team has emphasized shooting between the hoops.

The difference is regression. In 2021-22, the Blues rode the wave of an incredibly high shooting percentage. They led the league with a team shooting percentage of 12.4%. In 11 games this year, they are dead last at 7.9 percent. The Blues’ style of play leaves them at the mercy of puck luck, even more so than other teams. Because of this, it’s probably too early to break the panic button, but St. Louis needs to break this losing streak in a hurry. You can’t make the playoffs in November, but you sure can miss. — Austin Nivison

The panthers won the Matthew Tkachuk trade

When the Florida Panthers sent Jonathan Huberdeau i MacKenzie Weegar to the Calgary Flames in a blockbuster trade for Matthew Tkachuk, it was fair to wonder if they were overpaying. Tkachuk was coming off a career year, but the Panthers were losing two top players for one. Huberdeau had just scored 115 points and Weegar had become the first-pair defenseman.

Huberdeau and Weegar haven’t performed poorly in their first dozen games with the Flames, but the production hasn’t been anywhere near where it was last season. They have combined for one goal and 10 points between them. With those two struggling to score, Calgary has lost seven games in a row.

The Panthers’ start has been far from perfect, but Tkachuk hasn’t been the problem. In fact, Tkachuk has been excellent. He has 17 points in 12 games played, and Florida has dominated possession with Tkachuk on the ice in five-on-five. Keep in mind that Tkachuk’s contract situation is much more favorable than Huberdeau’s or Weegar’s, and the deal is starting to look very good for the Panthers. — Nivison

Rasmus Dahlin is a Norris Trophy contender

What a story Rasmus Dahlin has been so far this season. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, Dahlin has struggled to live up to that billing in his young NHL career. Last season, Dahlin posted decent point totals, but still had trouble keeping his head above water at five-on-five. With Dahlin on the ice in those situations, the Buffalo sabers He scored 59 goals but allowed 68.

Things have changed a lot at the start of the 2022-23 season. With seven goals and 17 points in 13 games, Dahlin ranks second Erik Karlsson in both categories among defenders. On top of that, the Sabers control the game when Dahlin is on five-on-five. According to Natural Stat Trick, Buffalo has an expected goal share of 55.49% in those situations. There’s time for Dahlin to come back down to Earth, but at this point he’s thrown himself into the Norris Trophy discussion. — Nivison





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