Photo: Dallas Morning News
With all NHL teams now approaching the 10-game mark on the 2021-22 season, there have been plenty of surprises so far on both the team front and player one. NoVa Caps looks at the top 15 surprises of the new campaign so far.
Detroit Red Wings
Without their leading scorer from last season in left-wing Jakub Vrana, the Red Wings have started the season 4-3-2. Their average of 3.22 goals-per-game are currently tied for 10th in the NHL but their 3.44 goals-against per game are the third-highest, ahead of only the Arizona Coyotes and Chicago Blackhawks (the two worst teams in the league).
After an 0-1-1 start to the season, the Flames have won six straight (including a perfect five-game road trip). The Flames have averaged 3.63 goals-per-game (fifth) and 1.88 goals-against per game (second). Left-wing Johnny Gaudreau (nine assists, 11 points in eight games), center Elias Lindholm (seven goals, 10 points), and goaltender Jacob Markstrom (4-1-1, .957 save percentage, 1.33 goals-against average, three shutouts) have all had solid starts.
After trading right-wing Sam Reinhart and defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen in addition to losing goaltender Linus Ullmark in free agency and center Jack Eichel to injury, the Sabres are off to a 5-2-1 start where they have averaged 3.00 goals-per-game (tied for 13th), 2.13 goals-against per game (fifth), and a .9458 five-on-five save percentage (fourth). They may be off to a nice start, but we have seen the same hot start with the Sabres numerous times and it always has the same ending — them missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs and near the bottom of the standings. But, for now, they deserve some credit.
The 33-year-old goaltender has played in just four games this season but has gotten off to a nice start as he is 2-1-0 with a .964 save percentage (second) and a 1.13 goals-against average (also second) with the San Jose Sharks.
After acquiring reigning Vezina Trophy winner Marc-Andre Fleury and defenseman Seth Jones over the offseason, the Blackhawks were expected to take a big step forward this season, especially with center Jonathan Toews back after missing last year due to an illness. Instead, the Blackhawks are 1-7-2 and have allowed an average of 3.80 goals-per-game (31st) while scoring 2.20 (29th). Four of the six worst players in terms of plus-minus this season are Blackhawks (including Jones: -8, sixth-worst).
Data: NHL Stats
The 24-year-old Anaheim Ducks center has come out of the gate hot with five goals and 10 points in nine games. After getting held off of the scoresheet in the season opener, Terry is riding an eight-game point-streak and three-game goal-scoring streak (three goals).
The 32-year-old Ducks defenseman has already surpassed his scoring total from last season with three goals (two in 55 games during 2020-21) and has earned 10 points in 10 games. In addition, he has tallied a +6 rating.
The 25-year-old left-wing’s seven goals in eight games this season are tied for second in the NHL. He earned six goals over a four-game stretch to kick off the Flames’ road-trip, including back-to-back two-goal games against the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils.
The 32-year-old won the Stars’ starting netminder job in training camp and while he is 2-3-0, Holtby has earned a .926 save percentage and a 2.40 goals-against average in six games with his new team. He did not have a save percentage higher than .897 in each of the past two seasons and his contract was bought out by the Vancouver Canucks last summer.
Following three straight seasons with an .896 save percentage as a member of the Sharks, the 31-year-old goaltender had his contract bought out. After signing with the Philadelphia Flyers, Jones is 2-0-0 with a .941 save percentage (eighth) and a 2.01 goals-against average (13th).
After losing the Florida Panthers starter’s job last season and posting a .900 and .906 save percentages in the past two respective seasons, the 33-year-old ranks second in the NHL in wins (six) in addition to sixth in save percentage (.944) and goals-against average (1.81).
After being third on the Washington Capitals’ goalie depth chart last season and signing with the Sabres over the offseason, the 40-year-old has started this year 4-1-0 with a .939 save percentage (tied for ninth) and a 1.98 goals-against average (tied for 10th).
The reigning Presidents’ Trophy winners started the season 2-3-0 and are 4-4-0. Though, center Nathan MacKinnon missed two games with COVID-19 and left-wing Gabriel Landeskog was suspended for two games. Their 2.88 goals-per-game is the league average while their 3.38 goals-against per game are the sixth-most. Defenseman Cale Makar has a -8 rating and goaltender Darcy Kuemper has not been as advertised, posting a 4-3-0 record, .907 save percentage, and 2.87 goals-against average.
The 36-year-old has earned a 1-5-0 record, an .888 save percentage, and a 3.92 goals-against average in six games this season after getting dealt by the Vegas Golden Knights. Though, the 35.1 shots-per-game that he faces are the ninth-most by an NHL goalie.
The 27-year-old center has five goals and nine points, including two three-points performances this season. Copp’s 15 goals and 39 points last season were both career-highs and he never hit 30 points in a single year before that.
By Harrison Brown