Let the games begin
The NHL’s first week is in the books
Author: Brady Lang – Contributor
The start of another hockey season has come and gone, and I know a few eyebrows were raised across the league with a lot surprises across the 30-team league. Who would have thought the Phoen..err Arizona Coyotes (still getting used to that one) would be so damn good? The coming out party of Martin Jones in San Jose? Or the 0-6 start for Columbus?
If you did miss the first week of the NHL season, I fully suggest you get to the nearest pub or television and watch some seriously entertaining hockey. The league is at its best this year and any game you watch will be exciting for you. Now, I’m going to try and explain to everyone how much of a fustercluck the beginning of the 2015-16 season has been.
Surprise, surprise. Carey Price is back to his incredible form and has been lights out in Montreal, helping them to 6-0 and seemingly undefeatable at times. Expect more of this from the Habs, but at the same time, Carey can only do so much between the pipes in Montreal. Montreal’s two most bitter rivals, however, seem to look like they’re just not up to par with the rest of the league in Toronto and Boston. Boston’s screwed long-term and need to start thinking of rebuilding. After trading Dougie Hamilton, this team just seems out of whack and a trade of stars like Chara, Rask and even maybe Bergeron look inevitable. In Leaf Land, it’s more of the same. Shocking, I know. Babcock doesn’t have a magic potion these guys can drink every game and look to be in the running for Auston Matthews, along with division rival Buffalo.
In hockey, there aren’t many divisions where you can guarantee who will make it to the playoffs, then there’s the Metropolitan. The only real surprise here is how bad Columbus has been. Bobrovsky has lost himself and it seems like the Jackets’ only positive thing they’ve had this year is Clarkson fighting Phaneuf, which was even mediocre at best. The two New York-based teams will rule this division, and Ovie and Sid are still two of the best players in the world. If you need to bet some of your buddies that you’ll know four teams getting into the playoffs this year, bank on these four in the Metropolitan.
Now to the next extreme, the best division in hockey. Dallas looks to be the real deal, but will be up against stiff competition in the division. Chicago is sitting at 5th but can jump to first with just two wins, which they’ll get. A very good team is going to miss the playoffs this year in this division, these teams are just so good and well put together that it’s inevitable. Another inevitable event we’ll see in the next upcoming weeks (if it hasn’t happened when the Carillon goes to print, anyway) is the dismissal of Patrick Roy and the hiring of a Guy Boucher-type of coach. Roy just can’t seem to get it together, like many former stars who have switched to coaching in the past (right, Wayne?).
In hockey’s most interesting division, who knows what will happen. Are the Oilers for real? I don’t think so, but a string of wins on the weekend put them back to respectability. The Oilers are still a mess and will be until a fire sale begins. San Jose has been the best story so far this year with the emergence of Martin Jones. He’s been stuck behind one of the best goaltenders in the league, so he’s probably learned a thing or two from Jonathon Quick. Vancouver is off to a hot start after a dismal summer, but their sustainability is in question. They could sneak into the playoffs like the Flames did last season, but for long-term success, I believe that these guys are only one solid prospect away from being great. In Calgary, a lot of people are surprised with the slow start that this team has gone through. I feel like they’ll pan out eventually, however with their strong defense corps. Anaheim is also off to a shaky start, but its also Anaheim we’re talking about. Let’s be real; they will make the playoffs and will battle with San Jose for the division crown.
Carey Price, MTL: No shock here, he’s the best goaltender in the world and will carry this team to a possible Stanley Cup win if he has more support up front. If he can get the rest needed, you’ll be seeing a Stanley Cup parade in Montreal.
Vladdy Tarasenk-show, STL: Tarasenko has been an up-and-coming star early on in his career and he’s been lights out so far. This guy is insane; remember that goal against Edmonton last year? He will battle for the Art Ross this season and no one should be surprised if he emerges as one of the most elite players in the NHL.
Martin Jones, SJ: The acquisition of Jones went under the radar this offseason, and a risky one in San Jose. Jones has put up unbelievable numbers thus far, and was 3 minutes away from a three-game shutout streak. Can you believe that? His glistening .982 save percentage is off the charts, and we really have no way of knowing how good Jones can be. Keep an eye on the Sharks. They’re better then you think.