The Best NHL is the First Two Weeks of Chaos

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We’re two weeks into the season, which next to the playoff run– could be the best part of the season. The wacky bullshit that goes on in the first month or so of the season is the best. Crazy stats, firewagon scores, improbable heroes– it’s the best time of the year to get overly emotional– rightly or wrongly– about what your team really is. There’s no lack of craziness this year, either.

First, let’s start with Keith Kinkaid, who is the really champions of goaltending right now. He’s 4-0-0 with two shutouts and has the New Jersey Devils at a still undefeated record….through four games. He’s making the most of his chances with the Devils, as he is building off his 26-win season from last year and really showing that Cory Schneider may have heavy competition and could even be expendable when he gets healthy again. While he may not lead the goalie stats for much longer, the story he’s creating for himself is one that the Devils faithful need to build off of last year’s turnaround with Taylor Hall at the front and center.

Staying in the East, the Ottawa Senators are above .500 after their purge this off-season and it’s confusing the hell out of me. Granted, I’m sure that’ll take a plunge with Brady Tkachuk’s injury; but still…this is a team who wasn’t expected to win three games in this month (maybe, I didn’t read previews) much less be at seven points after six games. Craig Anderson has already seen the most shots in the league (tied with Devan Dubnyk) through six games at 199, which probably won’t let up any time soon as the time goes on and teams wear down the already inexperienced defense. However, the return from Erik Karlsson was great, as Chris Tierney leads the team in points and Dylan DeMelo is leading the all-important plus/minus stat. Young guns like Tkachuk, Thomas Chabot, and Maxime LaJoie have grabbed the brass ring for the greater roles on the team, while Craig Anderson is playing great in October, as Craig Anderson is wont to do, as he has 42 wins in October over his career (currently second-best, but that’ll change once he gets through the months). Maybe the Sens can fool us all…..but maybe not.

Out West, Connor McDavid is good. In fact, if he can keep up the pace he has in factoring in every goal the Oilers have this season; he’ll have anywhere from 198 to 247 points this year based on the Oilers’ goal output over the last five years. This could happen, McDavid is that good and is able to make the best plays out there for his team– but it shows that maybe the Oilers need some support for their superstar. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Leon Draisaitl are pulling their weight, but it could be a very uphill climb for the Oilers if they keep packing things on McDavid’s shoulders. Granted, they have McDavid for seven more years after this one…but do you want to wear him out in year four of his career like this??

The one constant is the Arizona Coyotes. As the sun will set in the West, the Coyotes will have one of the most promising outlooks, but stumble out of the gates. They’ve scored four goals in five games and have been shutout three times this season. That’s not great, boss. Sure, they’re only giving up 2.2 goals a game, but that doesn’t help when you’re putting up 0.6 a game. It doesn’t help that Alex Galchenyuk is sidelined, but they have their goalie for the first month of the season, as Antti Raanta was solid when he came back from injury last year, but he couldn’t dig the Coyotes out of the doldrums at that point. It is a young team, sure– Clayton Keller and Dylan Strome will need time to work things out…but man, it’s hard to watch for a team that’s already been beaten down for as long as they have. You’d hope for some good for once.

This is just the scratching of the surface– you got the hot takes of Auston Matthews’ torrid pace, I think Sebastian Aho (and the rest of the Carolina Hurricanes) are getting slept on in the league, and even as a Caps fan– I’m tired of watching them play on NBCSN all the time.

This is just two weeks in. Let’s hope for more chaos as the season round out the first month of action.

TEPID TAKE: Senators Put the Func in Dysfunction

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A week has gone by after this Erik Karlsson deal which pretty much killed the Senators’ season for this year and possibly the next couple of years. This after the awkward video with Eugene Melnyk and now #1 defenseman Mark Borowiecki, this after the summer of drama where former assistant GM Randy Lee harassed a shuttle bus driver, Mike Hoffman got dealt after alleged dealings between his girlfriend and Karlsson’s wife, Craig Anderson was tired of the drama, and Bobby Ryan hid out in Idaho in an attempt to avoid a trade. Okay…hid out isn’t the best word, as he does live there in the off-season, but it’s a good storyline to add to this dysfunction.

When you hear the fans wanting Melnyk to sell the team (though that’s not how ownership works, but you do you), it’s hard not to agree with them and hope that the NHL will some how have a change of heart and strip the team from Melnyk and own the team once again. Pierre Dorian takes the fall, but Melnyk meddles in the dealings too much for Dorian to take the full brunt. (Take note Hurricanes fans, this could be you.)

It’s not a wonder why the Ottawa Senators won’t be using the old school “O” as their new alternates– the memes are too easy at that point with the amount of disarray the team is in. While the fans want it, it’s a smart marketing situation….if their marketing team still exists.

Let’s face it, odds are that Matt Duchene will be dealt, Anderson will most likely be dealt, and the landslide will keep coming. It’s going to be years for this team to be one goal away from the Stanley Cup Final again. The prospects they have are…not there yet and may never be there, honestly.  They have a lot of solid defensive prospects, but in a high-tempo offensive system– their lack of offense and goaltending will be the downfall of the future Sens unless a diamond in the rough comes along.

But what can be done?? You can’t fire the GM or coach because the next one will have Melnyk breathing down their throats. Melnyk isn’t going to sell the team because he doesn’t see why he should and won’t get the money he wants for it anyway…unless those Quebec City people really put a big number out there.

So Ottawa fans are there, having seats being taken away from the arena…and it still looks empty. I can empathize with the Senators fans. When the great Capitals Purge of the mid-00s happened, those were lean years. Matt Yeats was the back-up, Chris Clark was the captain, Jason Doig was a top-pairing defenseman…it was weird. Then 15 years later, the Caps won the Stanley Cup and that was all a distant memory.

I remember when the Senators came into the league and they were god-horrible. Now it’s almost a time where it’s going to be the second-coming of that. Hell, maybe even Peter Sidorkiewicz could be the All-Star representation again. It’s going to get better, Ottawa fans. Who knows, they could be a random success story the next few years, they could get that arena downtown and make Melnyk care more about getting fans in, or they could move away.

Something will happen that’ll be either much better or much worse than what’s going on this past summer.