Ten Biggest Surprises in the NHL, So Far

NHL Oct 25, 2021

It's a long NHL season ahead, but we've already witnessed many thrilling moments in October

The 2021-22 regular season is nearly two weeks into play.  There have already been several surprises.  Here's our short list of shockers:

(1)  The Buffalo Sabres are 3-1-1 through 5 games – The Sabres were the NHL's worst franchise in recent seasons, but they're off to a surprisingly strong start.  We doubt if Buffalo's winning ways will continue, but let's give them credit for a +4 goal differential and playing with more focus than we've seen in quite some time.

(2)  What's wrong with the Habs? – We didn't expect the Montreal Canadiens to play at the same level as their Stanley Cup run five months ago, which was the NHL's Cinderella story last season.  That said, the Habs 1-5 start through 6 games have been devastating.  Montreal can't find the net, scoring just 10 goals and goaltending has been horrid.  It's going to be a long season for hockey fans in Quebec.

(3)  Could the Panthers be the team to beat in the Atlantic Division? – It sure looks like Florida will be the team to beat in a very tough division.  The Panthers are a perfect 5-0, so far and have scored 4+ goals in each of their games.  

(4)  Carolina will be tough – The Hurricanes are 4-0 with a +11 goal differential.  We all expected Carolina to be good, but not this good.  The Hurricanes played 3 of their first four on the road and now play their next four games at home.  Looking at their schedule, they could start off the season 8-0.

(5)  Connor McDavid is the NHL scoring leader – The Edmonton star center has produced 13 points and scored 6 goals in the opening week of the new season. McDavid could go wire-to-wire as a scoring machine for the Oilers.  Okay, so that's not a surprise, but we have to give McDavid his due.  He's off to a roaring start.

(6) The Blackhawks have been awful – No one saw Chicago starting the season 0-5.  Nobody.  What's wrong with the Blackhawks?  Well, practically everything.  Chicago's negative -15 goal differential is the worst in the NHL.

(7)  St. Louis Blues undefeated – Is St. Louis for real?  We're not sure.  But they're 4-0 start sure has been impressive.  Beating both Colorado and Las Vegas on the road was even more impressive.  The Blues play another against the Avalanche this week.  If they pull off another upset, we'll agree – St. Louis is for real.

(8) Dallas might be the best defensive team in the NHL – Binnington in the net for Dallas is a huge addition.  So far, the Stars have allowed an average of just 2 goals per game.  Also credit the addition of Seth Jones on defence.

(9)  The Knights' start hasn't been golden – What an awful start to the season for Las Vegas.  At just 1-4, with 2 points, and a 4-game losing streak the upstart Golden Knights might finally be falling back to earth after four amazing seasons in the desert.  Maybe it's too early to panic, but the fact the Golden Knights have scored only 10 goals in 5 games should worry their fans (and those who bet on them).  This was supposed to be Las Vegas' big season--well, not so far, it isn't.

(10)  Edmonton Oilers....2021-22 Stanley Cup Champions! – Okay, it's way too early.  Nonetheless, the season couldn't have begun on a higher note than the Oilers' perfect 5-0 record and 24 goals scored, the NHL's best.  We knew Edmonton would be explosive, but this has been a thrill for fans in Alberta.  We expected Toronto, and maybe Winnipeg to be the NHL's best team in Canada.  Yet, it's Edmonton that's seized the favourite role, for the moment.  Looking at the Oilers' upcoming schedule, they're going to be favoured in most games.  Watch out, Edmonton might be the main threat to Colorado in the West.