The Montreal Canadiens Are Real Bad, and the New York Rangers are no good, too
We are just about a month into the regular season, so it seems to be as good a time as any to take a look at some surprising and/or disappointing teams in the NHL. It’s still a short sample size but some trends are starting to look like they might become something we need to take notice of.
1. Montreal Canadiens: This team has cratered. The Canadiens are to the NHL what the Yankees are to MLB or the Cowboys to the NFL. They are an Original Six team that is always expected to be in contention. Well this season couldn’t have started off any worse. Their best player, goaltender Carey Price, looks like a shell of his former self. He has a GAA of 3.77 and a save percentage of .877. Those are horrible numbers that would likely have seen a lesser goaltender sent to the bench and maybe even the AHL. Everyone knew the Canadiens had problems entering the season, as they likely needed help on both offense and defense but none of this matters if Price isn’t able to revert back to the top goaltender he used to be.
2. New Jersey Devils: No one saw the Devils getting off to a 9-3-1 start. Lucifer himself wouldn’t have bet on this. Yes, they are probably doing it with mirrors as they don’t have the level of talent that the Blue Jackets, Capitals, and Penguins have, but they aren’t a laughingstock either. Just wait until first overall pick in the 2017 draft, Nico Hischier, starts to figure things out.
3. New York Rangers: Like the Canadiens, the Rangers are always expected to compete for a Stanley Cup. Well, this isn’t going to be that year. They are rebuilding without actually saying it. They have an aging Hall of Fame goaltender in Henrik Lundqvist, who is just not the brick wall he used to be. They are without a top offensive player to build their team around. The Rangers will be in a better salary cap position at the end of this season and I would expect them to make a big splash in free agency or via trade for that top player on offense.
4. Los Angeles Kings: Is the reason for their hot start as simple as a change in coach and general manager? The Kings fired both Darryl Sutter and Dean Lombardi after last season. It seems the new voices in the locker room are paying dividends as players are relaxing and performing better with a kinder and gentler approach. Dustin Brown is back to looking like the player he was several years ago where he could be relied upon to pot around 25 goals a season. It doesn’t hurt of course to have a healthy Jonathan Quick in net.
5. Vegas Golden Knights: Have I mentioned how much I dislike this name? Why not Las Vegas Knights? Anyway, they might be the shock of the NHL after an 8-1 start. The NHL didn’t want this team to be a doormat and set up the expansion draft so that they would be competitive right away and it’s working. But now at 9-4, maybe they are regressing to the team we expected them to be and with all of the goaltending injuries, they are going to struggle to win games in the near future, but this is not a team that opponents can just throw your glove and sticks onto the ice and assume that they are going to come away with a victory.
You can find me on Twitter, @georgekurtz