The first month of the NHL season is complete (sure went by fast didn’t it?). We have a new feature at the Hockey Fanatic that we want to try out. Each month we will be looking at the previous month to see what the top stories of the month from the NHL were. Which players, which teams which games had everyone talking? We’ll perform a recap of the month’s activities around the National Hockey League.
Top 5 NHL Stories – October 2015
- Montreal Canadiens get off to their best start in franchise history – prior to coming out West and dropping games to the Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers, the Candiens were off to a perfect start to their season. In fact the Canadiens had set a record (previously held by Buffalo) by winning their first nine games in regulation. Through their first nine game, the Canadiens have allowed a mere 12 goals in their nine victories. Fourteen of the 18 skaters that had dressed for games had at least one goal. They have outscored opponents 8-0 in the first period and 14-2 in the third. Eight of the nine victories have been by multiple goals. A 3-2 win at the Pittsburgh Penguins on Oct. 13 was the only game decided by one goal. The Canadiens were so good in fact that odds makers made they a Stanley Cup favorite (along with the Chicago Blackhawks).
- Rookie play comes as good as advertised – the first month saw strong performances from NHL newbies with the play of Max Domi, Jack Eichel and Connor McDavid impressing many. McDavid especially after a bit of a slow start won the NHL’s Rookie of the Month for October and was as high as #5 in League scoring. Unfortunately he suffered a shoulder injury in last nights game and looks to be out for a few months. McDavid had five goals and seven assists in 13 games for Edmonton this season. Oscar Linderberg the rookie centerman for the New York Rangers leads all rookies with 6 goals thus far. Artemi Panarin has also hada strong start for the Chicago Blackhawks. Check out NHL.com for all the latest stats on NHL rookies.
- The Poor Start of the Anaheim Ducks – at the start of the season everyone was picking the Anaheim Ducks to win the Stanley Cup this year. Now with two wins in their first 11 games the Ducks sit last in the entire Western Conference. With Ryan Getzlaf hurt, play of Ducks such as Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler has suffered. This team simply, for whatever reason cannot score goals. The Ducks are currently tied for last in the NHL. There are high expectations for Anaheim as last season, the Ducks won their second straight Pacific Division title and advanced to the Western Conference Final, where they lost in seven games to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks.
- The inconsistency of the coaches challenge and officiating – I watched an Oilers/Flames game the other day and was somewhat disappointed with Bob Hartley’s use of the coaches challenge. The Oilers in fact scored a good goal, yet Hartley issued a challenge based on what was “feather-like” contact with the Flames goaltender on the play. The goal was disallowed (with Edmonton having all the momentum) and the Oilers ended up losing the game on another blown missed icing call by the officials. I know that coaches and players get fined for speaking out against the officials but as a hockey fan, this was tough to swallow. It was documented that for the second time in a week Hartley used the coaches challenge to in essence get a 6 minute timeout for his team when the other team was dominating the game.
- Where’s Sid? – another surprise that is making news early in the season is the slow start of Sidney Crosby. After 11 games played Side the Kid has one goal and four assists for five points good enough for 178th overall in the entire league. Wasn’t the arrival of Phil Kessel supposed to help the Pens? In his last 5 games in October Sidney Crosby had a mere 13 shots and two assists. What’s happened to the phenom? Could it be the residual effects of previous concussions? Could it be the rotating wingers and supporting cast, or is it simply a slow start to a season which has seen some weird things to start off? Regardless you have to think that Crosby will snap out of it.
An interesting first month of the season nonetheless.