The NHL Has Begun

After many weeks of cancelations, the puck has finally dropped to signify the beginning of the 2013 NHL season. Some teams have come out of the gate just where they left off last year, while others are either overachieving or underachieving after the long lockout.

Teams such as the Kings, Rangers, and Capitals have not yet lived up to their hype in the beginning of the season. After the Kings raised the Stanley Cup last year, they started this year in a slump, winning only three of their first ten games. The Rangers, after making a big splash in the offseason, trading for Columbus Blue Jackets’ star Rick Nash, started off the season losing three of their first four contests.

The most surprising flop so far may be the Washington Capitals. The Capitals were only a seven seed in the playoffs last year but they made it past the first round only to get bounced by the New York Rangers in the second round. Now, the Capitals are dead last in the NHL, only managing to win three of their first twelve games.

Just as all of these big-name, star-studded teams have underachieved, there have been some teams in the early going that have exceeded expectations. Teams such as the Chicago Blackhawks, the San Jose Sharks, and the Anaheim Ducks have gone far and beyond their preseason expectations.

Let’s start with the team that has not lost a game in regulation yet twelve games into the season! The Chicago Blackhawks have been rolling over opponents, scoring the second most goals in the league and letting up the third least amount of goals against. This is the formula for success in Chicago: score a lot of goals and play good defense.

Next, the San Jose Sharks have been hot to start the season after just slipping into the playoffs last season as a seven seed. The Sharks have built this great start on spectacular goaltending and defense. The Sharks have allowed the fewest goals against in the league with only 1.8 goals allowed per game. The Sharks have also scored almost three goals per game thanks to Patrick Marleau and Logan Couture who have each gotten off to a hot start.

The Anaheim Ducks have also looked quite good to this point. The Ducks came into this season with low expectations coming off of a season in which they finished as the fifth worst team in the NHL. They now find themselves in fourth place overall due to their high goal total on the year, scoring an average of 3.4 goals per game.

The beginning of the NHL season has contained many surprises and I look forward to seeing how the rest of the season unfolds. It looks like it is going to be a great year of hockey.