Hits and misses with NHL teams
By Josh Martin, Sports Editor
We’re a quarter of the way into the NHL season, so let’s take a look at the teams that have enjoyed success and those that have struggled thus far.
The Minnesota Wild have had a rough start to a highly anticipated year, with the additions of forward Zach Parise and defensemen Ryan Suter in the off-season. The two stars came into a Minnesota team with tremendous pressure on their shoulders to instantly make the team better. With 14 games into the season, the Wild are sitting in tenth place with a dismal 6–6–2 record and 14 points. Parise has been strong, leading the team with seven goals and 11 points, but Suter has struggled, going a minus-seven in his first nine games. The two players—who were both signed to twin $98-million deals for 13 years this past summer—are under the microscope in Minnesota and will need time to gel with their teammates and get used to their surroundings. But with such a shortened NHL season this year, every game means so much more.
With 14 games into the season, the Wild are a BUST. Expect them to barely make it into the playoffs this spring.
Without a regulation loss and a ridiculous 11–0–3 record and 25 points in their first 14 games, the Chicago Blackhawks are on a whole ‘notha’ level in the NHL. After falling short the last couple of seasons and capturing the Stanley Cup in 2010, the Blackhawks are off to their best start in franchise history. Patrick Kane is second in league scoring with nine goals and 20 points while goaltender Corey Crawford sports an impressive .935 save percentage, a 1.65 goals against average, and seven wins in 10 games. Captain Jonathan Toews has 13 points and Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp each have 12 points of their own.
With impressive scoring and solid goaltending, the Chicago Blackhawks are looking UNSTOPPABLE. Expect the Blackhawks to finish in the top three of the Western Conference.
Even though we’re only a quarter of the way into the season, it’s disappointing (to say the least) to see the Edmonton Oilers struggle with such a talented crop of young players: Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, Sam Gagner, Ales Hemsky, Justin Schultz. There were a lot of high hopes for this team after they drafted Russian sensation Nail Yakupov first overall in last year’s draft. But with the Oilers sitting in eleventh position in the Western Conference with a 6–5–3 record and 15 points in 13 games, its beginning to look like this will be yet another one of those “Edmonton seasons.” When will all of the pieces come into place?
The Oilers will finish the regular season in tenth place and miss the playoffs once again. BUST.
What is going on with the Los Angeles Kings? The reigning Stanley Cup champs are off to one of their worst starts in history, sitting in second-to-last place in the Western Conference with a 5–5–2 record and 12 points in 12 games. A little bit hungover from the Stanley Cup perhaps? No one would expect such a rough start from this team, especially goaltender Jonathan Quick, who took home the Conn Smythe Trophy as the league’s MVP in the playoffs last spring. The 27-year-old has a poor .891 save percentage, a 2.70 goals against average and a 3–4–2 record.
Although the Kings are off to a tough start, expect them to turn it around in the next half of the season and finish sixth overall in the Western Conference. BUST.
Despite the absences of both Ryan Kesler and David Booth to start the season, the Vancouver Canucks are off to one of their best starts in franchise history—an 8–3–2 record and 18 points in their first 13 games. Secondary scoring has been one of the most pleasant surprises thus far with rookie Jordan Schroeder fitting in nicely on the second line alongside Mason Raymond and Jannik Hansen. Raymond is off to a tremendous start, utilizing his speed and soft hands after coming off a very disappointing year last season where he only scored 20 points. The goaltending tandem of Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider can’t get any better, as both goaltenders are lighting it up between the pipes. Luongo is sporting a league leading 1.45 GAA and a .943 SV% in his seven games played while Schneider has a 2.62 GAA and a .912 SV% in his seven games played.
The Canucks will finish within the top three in the Western Conference. ON FIRE.