Surprises And Disappointments Of 2022-23 NHL Season So Far

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The first quarter of the 2022-23 NHL season was an interesting one to say the least with six teams that missed the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs currently in a postseason position (five of which are in the top-two in their division) and players resurrecting their careers, breaking out, or struggling out of the gate. Here is a look at the top surprises and disappointments of this season so far:

SURPRISES 

  • New Jersey Devils

New Jersey has had a lot of talent for years with center Jack Hughes, center Nico Hischier, and defenseman Dougie Hamilton but struggled to put it together. Over the previous four seasons, they ranked second-to-last in the NHL (among teams that played in three of them) with a .429 points percentage  but lead the Metropolitan Division by eight points and  the Eastern Conference with a 19-4-0 record despite a 3-3-0 start to this season. They also have an NHL-low 2.22 goals-against per game.

New Jersey did not make any sexy moves over the offseason with goaltender Vitek Vanecek (who ranks second in the NHL with a 2.12 goals-against average and seventh with a .923 save percentage in 15 games), defenseman John Marino (six assists, eight points, +15 rating, 53.78% Corsi-for percentage, 54.12% expected goals-for percentage, 55.84% scoring chances-for percentage while leading the team with an average of 21:47 time on ice per game), and left-wing Ondrej Palat being the most notable.

  • Boston Bruins

With injuries to left-wing Brad Marchand and No. 1 defenseman Charlie McAvoy to begin the season, an aging roster, and a new coach with Jim Montgomery, Boston was expected to take a step back this season.

Instead, they lead the NHL with an .857 points percentage while goaltender Linus Ullmark leads it with 13 wins, a .935 save percentage, and two goals-against average.

Boston’s 29.3% power-play, 84.3% penalty killing percentage, and 2.24 goals-against per game each rank second while their 4.00 goals-per-game is first.

  • Vegas Golden Knights

After losing a couple of snipers in left-wing Max Pacioretty and right-wing Evgenii Dadonov in addition to goaltender Robin Lehner for the season due to hip surgery, Vegas was not expected to be a major threat. Instead, they hold a five-point lead for first in the Western Conference and have a .729 points percentage (third).

Center Jack Eichel has had a hot start to the season with 15 assists and 26 points in 24 games.

  • Seattle Kraken

Since a 2-3-2 start, Seattle is 11-2-1 to move up to second in the Western Conference with a .690 points percentage.

Unrestricted free agent signing and left-wing Andre Burakovsky has averaged a point-per-game with 14 assists and 21 points in 21 games while center Matty Beniers’ rookie season is off to a solid start as he has posted seven goals and 18 points in 20 games.

Seattle is tied for sixth in goals-per-game (3.57) in addition to 11th in power-play efficiency (23.2%). They also rank 10th in goals-against per game (2.86).

  • D Erik Karlsson

The San Jose Sharks blueliner is tied for fifth in the league in points (32) and assists (21). He also has as many goals as last season’s Rocket Richard winner in Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews. The 32-year-old has already topped his goal total from each of the previous five seasons and is just three behind his point production from last season in 26 fewer games. Karlsson is scoring at the highest rate of his 14-season NHL career (1.33 points-per-game).

  • G Logan Thompson

Vegas’ 25-year-old rookie goaltender ranks second in wins (12), eighth in save percentage (.921), is tied for seventh in goals-against average (2.44), and is tied for second in shutouts (two). Thompson entered 2022-23 with just 20 games of NHL experience.

  • Colorado Avalanche goaltending

After parting with Darcy Kuemper, Colorado entered this season with an unproven goaltending tandem in Alexandar Georgiev (10-2-1, .933 save percentage, 2.20 goals-against average, one shutout this year) and Pavel Francouz (2-4-0, .914 save percentage, 2.70 goals-against average), who combined for 186 games of NHL experiences before 2022-23. Instead, the defending Stanley Cup Champions lead the league with a .9503 save percentage at five-on-five.

DISAPPOINTMENTS 

  • C Auston Matthews

The 25-year-old, who became the first NHL player to score 60 goals in a single campaign in a decade last season, has just 11 in 24 games and had only two in his first nine.

  • G Jack Campbell

The Edmonton Oilers signed the 30-year-old to be their starting goaltender in free agency but Campbell’s .875 save percentage and 4.04 goals-against average both rank 64th among 67 goaltenders to play in at least five games this season. Campbell, who is 7-5-0, has already lost the starting job to Stuart Skinner (5-5-0, .919 save percentage, 2.80 goals-against average in 11 games), who has started seven of Edmonton’s last 12 outings.

  • Vancouver Canucks

After a 32-15-10 finish to last season under head coach Bruce Boudreau, Vancouver got off to a 4-9-3 start but has gone 5-1-0 since to climb within one point of the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference. They have blown a multi-goal lead in seven of their 13 losses. The team has allowed 3.73 goals-per-game, the third-most in the NHL, and goaltender Thatcher Demko’s performance (3-9-2, .885 save percentage, 3.81 goals-against average) has been a major disappointment.

  • C Aleksander Barkov

The 27-year-old has had a disappointing start by his standards even though he has recorded 13 assists and 18 points in 19 games. Barkov ranked 17th in the NHL with an average of 1.11 points-per-game and 15th with 235 helpers from 2017-22.

  • LW Teuvo Teravainen

In 248 games over the previous four seasons, the 28-year-old earned 156 assists (tied for 33rd) and an average of 0.88 points-per-game (tied for 55th) but recorded just seven assists in 14 games for the Carolina Hurricanes before suffering an upper-body injury on November 10 that has kept him out of the lineup for the past eight games.

  • Carolina

Since an 8-2-1 start to the campaign, Carolina is 3-4-4 to fall three points behind the New York Islanders for second in the Metropolitan Division and 11 back of New Jersey for first but have a game in hand on both teams. They rank 28th in goals-per-game (2.68), 26th on the power-play (16.9%), and 15th on the penalty kill (79.5%). Carolina lost five in a row (0-1-4) before beating the Calgary Flames on Saturday.

  • New York Rangers

With a young core that came just two wins away from the Stanley Cup Final last season, New York was among the Stanley Cup favorites before the season but has started 10-9-4 (.522 points percentage – 11th in the Eastern Conference). Back-up goaltender Jaroslav Halak is 0-5-1 with an .881 save percentage and 3.20 goals-against average this season while New York ranks 19th in goals-per-game (3.00). Left-wing Alexis Lafreniere (seven assists, 10 points in 23 games) and right-wing Kaapo Kakko (four goals, eight points) have failed to step up after centers Ryan Strome and Andrew Copp left in free agency. New York has dropped three straight in regulation and is 7-8-4 after starting 3-1-0.

By Harrison Brown

About Harrison Brown

Harrison is a diehard Caps fan and a hockey fanatic with a passion for sports writing. He attended his first game at age 8 and has been a season ticket holder since the 2010-2011 season. His fondest Caps memory was watching the Capitals hoist the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, photography, and hanging out with his two dogs. Follow Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077
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4 Responses to Surprises And Disappointments Of 2022-23 NHL Season So Far

  1. Anonymous says:

    spot on! BUt I think the teams are all very close in terms of talent and it comes down to synergy and injuries.

  2. novafyre says:

    I’d add the Panthers to your disappointing list.

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