The Puck Drop: The biggest surprises and disappointments so far this NHL season  

Detroit Red Wings left wing Lucas Raymond (23) tries to pass while Columbus Blue Jackets center Cole Sillinger (4) defends in the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023, in Detroit. Photo by Paul Sancya/AP Photo.

We are exactly one month into the NHL season, and for hockey fans, it definitely has been a surprising start.  

Here are my thoughts on the various NHL teams and which ones have had a surprising or disappointing start so far.  

Biggest Surprises  

Vancouver Canucks  

Fans were heartbroken last season after firing Bruce Boudreau, who worked with Vancouver as the head coach from 2021-2023. After constantly being at the bottom of league rankings for consecutive years, the Canucks sit at No. 2 in the Pacific Division and No. 4 in the league, below the Vegas Golden Knights. With newly appointed head coach Rick Tocchet and captain Quinn Hughes, they have won 11 games and notched three losses. On home ice, they are also 5-1-0.  

The top three players for the Canucks are very familiar names who have been together since the 2019-2020 season. Those players include Elias Pettersson, J.T. Miller and Hughes. Pettersson leads Vancouver in points with 25, along with seven goals and 18 assists in 15 games played. Miller leads the team in goals with nine. In their recent 10-1 win against the San Jose Sharks, Hughes led the team, totaling five points.  

Detroit Red Wings  

Just like the Vancouver Canucks, the Detroit Red Wings are a team we normally see at the bottom of the league standings. With the new edition of forward Alex DeBrincat, they currently sit at No. 3 in the Atlantic Division and No. 8 in the league. DeBrincat and veteran forward Dylan Larkin lead the team in both points and goals. DeBrincat specifically has 10 goals and five assists, totaling 15 points. Larkin, on the other hand, has five goals and 12 assists totaling 17 points.  

Detroit currently has a record of 5-2-2 on home ice with a +6-point differential. The team had a confidence booster when they defeated Brad Marchand and the Boston Bruins on Nov. 4, 5-4. For reference, the Bruins sit at No. 2 in the league. It’s been an incredible year so far for the Red Wings and it will be exciting to see how their season will turn out.  

Calgary Flames center Walker Duehr (71) and Seattle Kraken defenseman Jamie Oleksiak (24) vie for the puck with right wing Kailer Yamamoto (56) behind during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023, in Seattle. Photo by John Froschauer/AP Photo.

Biggest Disappointments 

Edmonton Oilers 

If you asked an NHL fan which team they are most disappointed with this season, they would probably say the Edmonton Oilers. The squad is known to make the Stanley Cup playoffs with their star-studded roster including Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Darnell Nurse. They looked like a completely different team out there this season, sitting at No. 7 in the Pacific Division and second to last in the league standings.  

McDavid, last season’s recipient of the Hart Memorial Trophy, only has 12 points this season, racking up three goals and nine assists. Up until Nov. 13, when the Oilers took on the New York Islanders, he went four games without putting up a goal. When looking at a player like McDavid, that is a serious drought.  

In the midst of this dry spell, Edmonton replaced head coach Jay Woodcroft with Kris Knoblauch, the previous coach of the Hartford Wolf Pack. With that move, Knoblauch reunited with McDavid, who he coached in the OHL with the Erie Otters. When the 2015 first overall pack was asked about the firing, McDavid said, “As players, we’re the ones on the ice, we’re as prepared as any team in the league for any given night. It’s on us to obviously be better.” He touched on how Woodcroft “never lost the room,” but Knoblauch is someone he is “looking forward to working with.”  

Calgary Flames  

The Calgary Flames are another team you usually see in the Stanley Cup playoffs, but they currently sit right above the Oilers in league standings at No. 30 and stand at No. 6 in the Pacific Division. Their three top players, Andrew Mangiapane, Nazem Kadri and Elias Lindholm, only have 24 points in total. If we take a look back up at the Vancouver Canucks, forward Pettersson has 25 points himself. Their point differential is also at -15. As of printing, the Flames are on a two-game losing streak after being defeated by fellow Ontario foes the Maple Leafs and Senators.  

Even if it is just a few weeks into the NHL season, this was certainly not what NHL fans pictured the standings would look like. But that’s what makes this sport so fun for fans to watch. There are 82 games, spanning six months and no days off. Anything can happen. 

Leave a Reply