The first full month of the NHL season was officially in the books this week.
A month into the season, there have been plenty of surprises, both pleasant and unpleasant. In the same division, the Canucks and Oilers represent an example of each type.
Elsewhere, the status quo seems to be kept from season to season as the Bruins and Golden Knights have set the pace once again.
Boston is picking up right where they left off last regular season and Vegas is continuing in the form which saw them lift Lord Stanley’s cup in June. Strong weeks have kept these teams in the top 2 spots in the NHL standings.
As it pertains to individual performances, there have been several standouts, but the Canucks have earned special recognition.
They have 3 players all tied for the NHL lead in points and 5 players averaging at least a point per game. Last week, J.T. Miller led the way with 7 points in 4 games.
With constant action, storylines, drama, and fantastic team and individual performances, there is no shortage of discussion topics. Here are a few others that stand out from this past week.
The NHL went across the Atlantic this week to host 4 games in Stockholm, Sweden. Due to the time difference, fans in North America were able to take in the games during the day on Thursday through Sunday.
The weekend series games got off to a hot start with a thrilling Ottawa Senators comeback win over the Detroit Red Wings which was completed with buzzer beater in over time.
Then on Friday, the Toronto Maple Leafs completed a comeback win over Detroit with Sweden native William Nylander leading the way with a goal and two assists.
Saturday’s game saw the Senators beat the Minnesota Wild 2-1 in a shootout and Toronto beat Minnesota 4-3 in overtime to cap off the series, meaning each game in Sweden came with free hockey.
This four-day trip to Europe has been a success for the NHL.
The exposure is always a positive and the games have fully delivered.
After Australia hosted preseason games and with Sweden now having hosted regular season games, the NHL continues to grow and open more doors.
Obviously, there was plenty of hype around Connor Bedard for a reason. It was no secret that he is a stud and had the potential to be a superstar.
However, with any 18-year-old is going to come questions regarding readiness for the NHL. Just 15 games into his Blackhawks career, he has answered.
On a bad team without much help, Bedard has nine goals and 15 points, both good for the team lead.
Last week, he had a two-goal and two-assist game against the Lightning and followed up that performance with two goals in their next game which was against the Panthers.
Beyond averaging nearly a point per game, there is something happening every time Bedard is on the ice and touches the puck. His opponents have an idea what he is going to do, but they still cannot stop it.
Goaltenders try to anticipate his shot, but it is too quick to catch up to. He has shown creativity, solid production and an overall mature game. Bedard took the hype and has run with it.
As briefly touched on, the Oilers have been an unpleasant surprise - they entered the season with Stanley Cup aspirations.
Those plans have taken a sharp turn as they started the year 3-9-1 before the organization decided to part ways with Jay Woodcroft. Edmonton is 2-1-0 in the 3 games under new head coach Kris Knoblauch.
While Connor McDavid insisted that Woodcroft never lost the locker room, the decision was made nonetheless.
It also helps that McDavid and Knoblauch have a history as the latter coached the former in juniors.
The Oilers are not clicking in general, but they have a very clear Achilles heel, which is their goal prevention. If the Oilers are going to turn things around, they have to clean things up on the defensive side of the puck.
With guys like McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Zach Hyman, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and more, offense will come.
The Oilers and their fans hope that Knoblauch can turn this thing around before it is too late.
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