- The NHL season got off to an interesting start, but now is starting to move closer to the anticipated averages. Nikita Kucherov and Sidney Crosby both had 2 point nights to bring themselves up to a PPG average after mortifying poolies who used a high draft pick on them early on. Crosby popped his first goal early in the game, then finished off the Oilers with a highlight reel overtime winner. Sigh of relief from Pens fans, Sid’s back on track!
- On the other hand, I’m not sure what’s going on in Tampa Bay. They’re at a bit of a games played deficit but they’re coming closer to the average. Fantasy-wise it’s been disappointing starts for the likes of Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman (and Kucherov until last night). Their leading scorer is JT Miller. Andrei Vasilevskiy’s stats aren’t eye popping either. They’re very good, but somewhat disappointing as he was the highest ranked fantasy goalie. All this is just paperwork though – Tampa’s in striking distance of the league lead once they get a few more games under their belt. This is the classic scenario of fantasy players being disappointed where the players and especially team coach don’t care because they’re getting it done in the standings.
- You know who’s getting it done on the ice, both on the fantasy ticker and in the league rankings? The Colorado Avalanche. The Avalanche are tied with Nashville for top spot in the NHL, with Nashville holding a slight advantage with more wins to Colorado’s overtime loss points. Mikko Rantanen is tied for the league lead in points with Nathan MacKinnon one behind. Gabriel Landeskog leads the league in plus minus while also being up there in points. Semyon Varlamov leads the league in Save % and Goals Against. Are the Avalanche a legit contender? Tampa Bay and Colorado play tonight, that should be an interesting game.
- In the Western Conference the Nashville Predators and the San Jose Sharks are on top of their respective divisions, no surprises there. In the Eastern Conference the Montreal Canadiens lead the Atlantic Division, and the Carolina Hurricanes lead the Metropolitan Division! Show of hands who predicted that? Now put your hands back down liars! I imagine a few Montreal fans would have had foolhardy optimism enough to think Montreal would be where they were. I might say the same about a Carolina fan, but I’ve never met one. Both teams seemed primed for lottery picks – will they manage to keep on top of their divisions? I doubt it, but will they make the playoffs? That’s seeming more realistic with each passing day. Perhaps I should retract some of my merciless abuse of Marc Bergevin? Nahhhhh….
- Teams that actually appear to be lottery pick teams in the early going include the Detroit Red Wings and the Los Angeles Kings. Detroit it kinda makes sense…they need to build up as the last remnants of the Lidstrom Dynasty quietly and respectfully bow out. They’d been expecting another year or two of Henrik Zetterberg pushing them towards being competitive – his somewhat abrupt retirement was a terrible blow to the organization. LA on the other hand shouldn’t be that bad. An elite centre (Anze Kopitar), defenceman(Drew Doughty) and goalie (Jonathan Quick) should be enough for a team to be better than a bottom dweller. Kopitar’s production last year was abnormally high given his usual attention to defensive responsibility. Jonathan Quick might still be a great puckstopper, but his regular time on the IR makes him a liability. LA’s playoff appearance last year was on the strength of having the league’s stingiest GAA and Quick’s name on the Jennings Trophy for the second time. LA being regarded as a perennial contender might hinge on Jonathan being as Quick as he used to be…
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