The weather is getting colder (at least for some days) and the activity inside the rink is heating up.
It’s been a little over a month since the 2021-22 NHL season and things have been quiet across the league’s 32 teams. Jack Eichel is finally able to leave Western New York and received the surgery he desperately needed to continue his NHL career. Alex Ovechkin continues his promotion as the game’s all-time great goalscorer. And the teams that are supposed to be at the top are at the bottom and the teams that are supposed to be in the basement are living in the penthouse.
It is very wild.
When everything is back to normal – the arena is full of fans, Coach on the hot seat or missed, the Canucks’ allegiance to Jim Benning’s head – it’s time to reflect. And with American Thanksgiving now here, it’s the perfect time to take a look at what we’re grateful for in the first month of the season.
2021-22 NHL: Four things we’re grateful for at the start of the new year
1. Attractive goal
There is Matthew Tkachuk doing his thing.
Brandon Duhaime scored the opening goal of a historic NHL career for the Wild-est.
His teammate, Kevin Fiala, shows off a vicious handball.
Not surprisingly, the Connor McDavid Show is showing…
And then Kevin Hayes’ first goal of the year was bigger than any other we’ve seen – and will see – this season.
2. Revive the goalkeeper
As mentioned in Sporting News review of Amazon Original“All or Nothing: Toronto Maple Leafs,” is quite clearly about halfway through the five-episode series where not only was the Maple Leafs unhappy with Andersen but he also never re-signed in Toronto. The Dane has faced an injury – and possibly a loss of confidence – during the 2021 season after becoming a 2019-20 All-Star.
Forward to the 2021-22 season and Andersen is in Carolina and back on track. He is scoring a shiny 11-3-0 record with a save rate of 0.936 and an average of 1.89 goals.
In 2021, Markstrom had a rough patch and finished the season with a 22-19-2 record and the worst career save rate of 0.904 and above-average goals saved of minus 4.0. goals (minimum 25 matches). That’s a marked drop from his 2019-20 All-Star season, where he had a save rate of .918 and a GSAA of 11.4.
Now, Markstrom is back. While he has a pretty good 8-3-4 record, that’s fuming heat, fiery 1.73 GAA, 0.940 percent frugal, and 12.1 GSAA. There are 15 teams that did not close; Markstrom has the best five outages of the NHL – over 15.
3. Teams don’t understand the exercise
Let’s just say: it’s really been an unexpected start to the season. There’s a lot of ‘what’s going on??’ herd increases capacity. It feels like we’re all in The Upside Down. Teams like the Red Wings and Sabers are hot while playoff contenders the Islanders and Golden Knights are not. That certainly wasn’t the way anyone thought things would start the first 82-game season in quite a while (thankfully for that, by the way).
Now that things have calmed down a bit, there’s still plenty of plot and drama to fill in the next five months. Who led the Western Conference on November 25? How about the Stars flirting with .500 and in the mix? Or the Ducks among the best in the West? The Islanders were truly the last in the Metropolitan and until a four-game winning streak, the Penguins were also bunkers.
Insanity – chaos? – quite interesting because this season has really become a season where any team can win on any given night.
Oh, and the only team that really understands the mission? That’s right, you guessed it – the Coyotes who put all their chips in Shane Wright.
NHL DRAFT 2022: Wright and nine other players to follow
4. Age is just a number
The NHL is the youth league… blah, blah, blah. Like fine wine, some gray-haired veterans are telling the kids to “hold on to my chardonnay” and let me show you how it’s made.
- Alex Ovechkin, 36, is second in the NHL in goals scored (15), third in points (33) and first in goals uniformity (11).
- Jonathan Quick, 35, tops the top 10 both in average goal scoring (2.25) and fourth in saves (0.928).
- Patrice Bergeron, 36, leads the league in Corsi in terms of percentage (63.99) at 5v5.
- Zdeno Chara, 44, dropped a glove with Pat Maroon.
- Craig Anderson, 40, had a 4-2-0 record with a save rate of 0.920 before he suffered an upper body injury on November 2.
- Brent Burns, 36, is second of all NHL players in ice time.
There’s a lot to the start of the season and there are sure to be more key moments, eye-popping saves, goals and storylines to come.
Will super nice guy Keith Yandle Not only did he become the NHL’s No. 1 ironman on January 18, but will he break 1,000 games in a row by the end of the season? How will the Olympics take place? What chaos will the trading deadline cause in March? Can the Maple Leafs win their post-season drought?
It will be a fun ride for the rest of the way. Fasten your seat belt and have a nice day off!