The 2015-16 NHL season is in full swing. The Chicago Blackhawks have the raised latest Stanley Cup Champions banner, the excitement of opening night is behind us and we are already marching towards this season’s playoffs.
Now every team has taken to the ice and gotten their individual seasons underway, which means there has already been surprises, upsets and everything in between. Players and teams alike have stumbled out of the gate while teams and players have gotten off to hot starts. Some fans are enjoying the early bliss of those quick starts, while other fans are probably prematurely writing off the season because of a just a slow start by their team.
Although some teams have only played one game, there are still observations to be made about the young season at hand.
There’s Plenty To Fix In Los Angeles
There probably wasn’t a team that was looking forward to the start of the NHL season more than the Los Angeles Kings. After a disappointing 2014-15 season where the Kings failed to qualify for the playoffs, the Kings’ summer was littered with off-ice drama and legal trouble that proved to be just as torturous.
A fast start, even a decent start to the 2015-16 season, would have helped flipped the page to a new chapter in Los Angeles. If only the Kings were so lucky. After two games, nine goals against, zero power play goals and eleven penalties, the Kings find themselves in an 0-2 hole to start the season. The Kings have failed to convert on ten power play opportunities, they are in a three-way tie for most penalties taken (both other teams have played one more game) and have been outscored 9-2 to open the season.
Individual production seems to be at an all-time low for the Kings as well.
The Kings’ new top line of Anze Kopitar, Milan Lucic and Marian Gaborik has not been nearly as productive as most had hoped. The three have combined for a minus-6 rating, only ten shots and have zero points through two games. Los Angeles’ goalie, Jonathan Quick has opened the season with nine goals against on 54 shots faced which has resulted in a .833 save percentage and 4.5 goals against average.
Luckily for the Kings there are still 80 games to play and they have the roster to turn things around. But if things aren’t fixed in Los Angeles, it could be a long season.
Rookies Not Named McDavid Steal The Spotlight
It’s no secret which rookie debut was listed as number one on everyone’s priority list this season. The Edmonton Oiler’s Connor McDavid had all the spotlights and eyes on him as he took to the ice for his first NHL game. However, given the hype surrounding McDavid all summer long, it was an anticlimactic debut for the 18-year-old phenom. McDavid’s final stat line for his debut looked liked this; 18:25 of ice time in 22 shifts, a minus-1 rating, two shots on goal and a 3-10 record in face-offs. McDavid’s second game was just as lackluster as he was held off the score sheet again in the Oilers’ 2-0 loss to the Nashville Predators.
While things haven’t played out as most expected in Edmonton, other rookies have gotten out to a quick start in the NHL career. The most notable debut would have to be Jack Eichel’s for the Buffalo Sabres. The number two pick, behind only McDavid, of the 2015 NHL Draft scored the lone goal of the Sabres 3-1 season opening loss to the Ottawa Senators.
The biggest rookie debut actually belonged to someone outside of the two rookies that were the focus of the majority of summer’s headlines. Dylan Larkin, the first teenager to start the season with Detroit Red Wings’ since 1990, scored a goal and grabbed an assist in his first NHL game. Larkin followed up his first game with another assist, and now has one goal, three points and a plus-6 rating skating along Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdlekader on Detroit’s first line.
Out in Arizona, 20-year-old Max Domi is showing the NHL there is some offensive talent in the Domi family. Domi, the son of long-time NHL enforcer Tie Domi, recorded a goal and an assist in his first NHL game. Domi’s first goal was a beauty and could not have come in a bigger game as the Arizona Coyotes were playing their Pacific Division rival, the Kings.
The Usual Suspects Are Off To A Fast Start
Some people have a gift. What ever that gift may be, it’s always there. There are some people who have a knack for being good hockey players and most of them are in the NHL. Those players score goals and grab points like they are going out of style. Those players grab points no matter the time of the game or how deep into a season they are.
Those players have already been wrecking havoc on the young NHL season.
Alexander Ovechkin will probably break the 500-goal mark this season. The Washington Capitals’ captain has only skated in one game this season and he inched closer to that mark. Not only did Ovechkin get closer to goal number 500, he did it in highlight reel fashion.
Absolute Vintage Ovechkin Wow https://t.co/B1GQx5YLzW
— NHL (@NHL) October 11, 2015
For those keeping count, that’s one game, one goal and one assist for Ovechkin.
While Ovechkin lit the lamp in his first game back, other NHL superstars are off to just as quick a start. Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Francois Beauchemin have all posted five points in two games. Zach Parise has four goals in two games for the Minnesota Wild. But through the first weekend of play, it’s Chicago’s Patrick Kane leading the league with three goals and six points through three games for the Blackhawks.
Eric received his BA in Journalism from California State University, Northridge. Eric has contributed to RinkRoyalty.com, Buffalowdown.com and California Rubber Magazine.