NHL Week in Review (October 6-13)

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It hasn’t even been a week in the NHL season and already the conclusions are being made for so many teams.

In any professional league, there will always be starts to the season that concern some and excite others.

It is the nature of the game that some fan bases will begin to panic really quickly and others will start celebrating far too early.

The NHL doesn’t differ from this as they are a league with hot starts and slow starts but also a long season to play.

To look at the start of the season and think that this is how it is going to be for the rest of the year is a little bit much.

Yet every year teams begin fast or struggle out of the gate and the questions begin to build about every one of them.

This year is already seeing that pattern as a number of teams have surprised and come out hot leaving many to wonder just how good they can be.

One of the biggest teams to begin well has been the Toronto Maple Leafs who are making good on the potential many saw in the offseason.

They went out to get one of the biggest free agents in recent years that was going to add to a young group of talented offensive players.

Those offensive players have been able to build one of the best offensive teams in the league after the first week and a half.

They are on a tear right now with 29 goals for, the most in the league, and in the city that takes hockey as seriously as Toronto, the talk will always surface.

It has been a long time since the Leafs experienced success especially at the highest level and now many are wondering if they could make a deep run.

The Leafs were always expected to be better though and there are a number of teams that are surprising everyone with their start.

The Chicago Blackhawks were supposed to be headed towards a long painful rebuild after their worst year in the last decade last season.

Yet they have come out swinging trying to prove everyone wrong rising to the top of the Central Division.

The Carolina Hurricanes were never supposed to be good as a team caught in the middle of a rebuild and reload.

Now they are rising to the top of the Metropolitan Division and are among the best teams in the league.

On the other end of the spectrum are the teams with high expectations that seem to not be able to bring that potential to light.

The Vegas Golden Knights were a Stanley Cup team last year surprising everyone and finding their way to the Finals against Washington.

Heading into a new season everyone wondered how they would follow up the greatest expansion season ever.hockey-sidebar

So far it hasn’t gone well as the Knights struggled through the beginning of their second season looking more like the team that many thought they would be last year.

The Edmonton Oilers didn’t have the best year last season but for some, it was just a blip on their way to being competitive.

So far they are proving the opposite as the Oilers continue to struggle in the face of more talent than they have had in a long time.

These teams are sitting near the bottom of the league and leading a lot of experts to write them off as not being competitive this year.

The fact is for any of these teams there is a lot of time for things to change in either way.

There is no way to win at this point in the season and no way to lose everything at this point in the season.

There is just too much time for a team to find their way out of the basement and begin playing and living up to their potential.

On the other end, the teams playing great right now could very well find themselves at the bottom of the division at the end of the year.

Every team is only a few short runs away from changing their season around entirely.

It is always good to start well because it gives teams more of a cushion should they go into a slump at some point.

Still, they could lose that lead so quickly while they get overtaken by teams who can just begin to put things together.

Although it is tempting nothing can be solved at this point in the season with a lot of time left in the season for everyone to figure things out.

 

Overtime

Arbitrator’s Choice

Austin Watson was suspended in the offseason when he was arrested for domestic assault during the summer. The incident involved his girlfriend who he reportedly pushed during an argument in front of witnesses. After Watson pleaded no contest to the charges the NHL made a decision to suspend him for 27 games this season. Like many other leagues the NHL is trying to do better when it comes to domestic violence and so they wanted to take this seriously and handed down the big suspension. This week that suspension was overturned, at least a little after an arbitrator reduced the suspension to 18 games leading the league to wonder why.

Scoring from the D

The Maple Leafs are getting offence from everywhere this season as they have become one of the most explosive teams in the league. Those points are mainly coming from their offence where Auston Matthews and Brad Tavares are coming to a new season as advertised. The bigger surprise has been Morgan Reilly who has often been a player prone to criticism from the Toronto Media. Reilly is proving his worth this season putting up more points than any defenceman ever. After putting up 12 points in his first five games he passed Bobby Orr for the best start by a defenceman in the history of the league.

Stepping Away

This week the NHL and NHLPA announced that Florida forward Michael Haley had entered the NHL/NHLPA player’s assistance program. There were no details on why or for what out of respect for Haley and whatever he is dealing with. After not playing for this season clearly Haley is dealing with some issues of his own and the NHL is looking to help their players with that. The player’s assistance program is meant to help the players deal with issues off of the ice and get them back to the right mindset to play hockey.

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