Hockey Is Back – NHL Week 1 Report

Ethan Yarbro

After what seemed an eternity to all hockey fans, the NHL is finally back and what a first week to kick it off with. Players looked ready and teams were eager to play. As a Dallas Stars fan, I would love to leave the bubble season in the past and have a great year so that I can get that taste of losing out of my mouth. So, let’s look at each division and breakdown where everyone is after week 1.

The North Division

The North division, or basically the Canadian division, had a interesting first week. With Toronto Maple Leafs in the number one position with 2 wins and a loss, this division seems like it could be one of the closer and more tight-knit in the league. What makes this division one of the best to watch for is how anyone could really make it out of this division. While Montreal in second place and Calgary in third, both at a win and overtime loss, Winnipeg sits as the only team without a loss and are poised to push for a higher seed if they keep scoring, especially if Patrik Laine keeps playing and putting up points like he has (granted they have only played one game). With Edmonton having Connor McDavid (2) and Leon Draisaitl (5) in the top 5 of the scoring leaders, could make their way into the top 4 of the North division before the 56 games are all said and done. My top three teams to keep an eye out for in the North division will be Edmonton, Winnipeg, and Montreal. I believe these three teams all have a strong chance at making it into the playoffs and giving teams from the other divisions a good challenge. Expect this division to be very close and to have some serious contenders ready for the playoffs.

*Week 1 Standings:

  1. Toronto Maple Leafs – 2-1, 4 pts
  2. Montreal Canadiens – 1-0-1, 3 pts
  3. Calgary Flames – 1-0-1, 3 pts
  4. Winnipeg Jets – 1-0, 2 pts
  5. Ottawa Senators – 1-1, 2 pts
  6. Edmonton Oilers – 1-2, 2 pts
  7. Vancouver Canucks – 1-2, 2 pts

The West Division

The West division has a more mixed bag of teams, some of playoff potentials out the gate and some will be struggling to stay with the competition. With teams such as Vegas, Colorado, and Arizona (all who made it to the playoff rounds last year in the bubble), some of these teams will fall behind quickly and will see themselves out of the playoffs early in the season. Surprisingly, the “favorite” to win the Stanley Cup, Colorado finds themselves in fourth place. The Avalanche lost their first game, but came out shooting with an 8-0 win over the Blues. Expect the Avalanche to be in the top 2 teams at the end of the season, especially with Nathan MacKinnon (who is up for debate as the best player in the league as of now) warming up and hitting his scoring hot streak. With some moves made during the off-season, the Minnesota Wild find themselves in second and look like a stronger and well-rounded team comparing to last year. It seems like Anaheim and Los Angeles will need to light a spark on their bench if they want to be in the conversation of playoff teams, otherwise they will end up where they did last year. I would say the middle of the pack teams would San Jose and St. Louis, but if either of these teams want to make the playoffs, they will need to focus a little more on time with the puck and their defensive strategies as well. My top three teams to keep a keen eye on in the West division will be Minnesota, Arizona, and San Jose. I believe these three teams will be fighting for the last two spots for contention in the playoffs because I expect Vegas and Colorado taking the top two spots. With a good handful of teams that are going to be in a dog fight to make to the playoffs, the West division could be an interesting one to watch.

Week 1 Standings:

  1. Vegas Golden Knights – 2-0, 4 pts
  2. Minnesota Wild – 2-0, 4 pts
  3. Arizona Coyotes – 1-0-1, 3 pts
  4. Colorado Avalanche – 1-1, 2 pts
  5. St. Louis Blues – 1-1, 2 pts
  6. San Jose Sharks – 1-1, 2 pts
  7. Los Angeles Kings – 0-0-2, 2 pts
  8. Anaheim Ducks – 0-1-1, 1 pt

The Central Division

The Central division seems to be in the same shoes as the West division. The Central has some top of the pack teams such as the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Tampa Bay Lighting, as well as the Western Conference champions, the Dallas Stars. With Tampa Bay and Nashville off to impressive starts, teams such as Carolina and Florida are going to need to win games early so that they have some extra cushioning when it comes to the end of the season. It seems Chicago will be staying in the bottom tier of the division, as it seems they cannot find a goalie to hold down the crease and stop the rebounds. Columbus being 0-2 is a little bit of a shocker to me, I was a little more worried about their scoring abilites with the likes of Pierre-Luc Dubois, and with Joonas Korpisalo in net, I thought Columbus might offer a challenge in the Central division. With Dallas not playing their first game until January 22nd, the teams in the top four will need to establish a dominance early in this short season if they wish to see the standings remain the same. However, I believe after leaving the bubble empty-handed and not being in the top ten of preseason rankings, the Dallas Stars have a lot to prove and I would keep an eye on how quickly they come out firing and how dominant they are on offense. Tampa Bay looks as dangerous as they did in the bubble, but now that they have something to defend, they seem to be the apex predator of the Central, and everyone in the division is looking to take them down a peg. The teams I recommend keeping an eye out for in the division would be Carolina, Florida, and Columbus, however, the Stars aim to surprise the league a second time. Only behind the East division, I believe the Central will be a very competitive division and the top four teams that make it into the playoffs will all have a good shot at making it to the finals.

Week 1 Standings:

  1. Tampa Bay Lighting – 2-0, 4 pts
  2. Nashville Predators – 2-0, 4 pts
  3. Florida Panthers – 1-0, 2 pts
  4. Carolina Hurricanes – 1-1, 2 pts
  5. Detroit Red Wings – 1-1, 2 pts
  6. Dallas Stars – 0-0, 0 pts
  7. Columbus Blue Jackets – 0-2, 0 pts
  8. Chicago Blackhawks – 0-3, 0 pts

The East Division

The East division seems to be the most competitive division in this shortened season. With the likes of Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, and the teams of New York, I would expect this division to be decided at the very end of the season. As of now, Washington and Philadelphia seem to be the two teams who stay in the top two, more than likely flipping the one and two seatings every week or so. I believe Boston and both the New York Islanders and the New York Rangers will all be competing tightly for the last remaining spots. Boston always seems to be the team to beat, and yet they seem to be the team that squeaks in the playoffs in the third spot. Maybe Boston hits their hot streak and take claim of the East division, but I doubt they are in any trouble of not making the playoffs. In my opinion, with Barzal leading the Islanders’ charge and Panarin being the front runner for the Rangers, I believe New York will be the final battleground for the last spot for the playoffs. The Islanders are looking to stake an early claim in the playoff contention of the East division, and they will need Barzal and their veterans to put some early points up for them. The Rangers seem to be the younger team in the confrence and will look for the captain Chris Kreider to lead their team to a playoff birth. Pittsburgh and Buffalo look to be the biggest threats in their divisions, but they have looked lackluster in their first few games; maybe Crosby and the Penguins will lead a late charge for the final spot to visit Lord Stanley, or could it be Eichel and the new additions of Taylor Hall and Eric Staal that steal the last spot for themselves. New Jersey seems to be the only team that will stay as a “middle-of-the-pack” team and will see themselves out of playoff contention rather earlier than they expected. My top three teams to watch for in this dog-eat-dog division would be Buffalo, the New York Rangers, and the New York Islanders. Expect these three teams to be in the conversation of playoffs and expect them to capitalize in any way that they can.

Week 1 Standings:

  1. Washington Capitals – 2-0-1, 5 pts
  2. Philadelphia Flyers – 2-0, 4 pts
  3. New Jersey Devils – 1-0-1, 3 pts
  4. Boston Bruins – 1-0-1, 3 pts
  5. New York Rangers – 1-1, 2 pts
  6. New York Islanders – 1-1, 2 pts
  7. Pittsburgh Penguins – 1-2, 2 pts
  8. Buffalo Sabres – 0-2, 0 pts

After Week 1, it seems that fans of hockey will be treated to a great season, even if shortened. Some of the teams seem to be in mid-season shape already, while some teams look to get a foothold and fight their way to the playoffs and even beyond. I cannot wait to see the outcome of the shortened season divisions and I cannot wait till playoffs. NHL hockey is back, and I am so excited to be writing about it. Come back every Monday for a wrap-up of the previous week of NHL hockey, and always stay tuned in with 12 oz Sports.

*Scoring Leaders:

  1. Travis Konecny, PHI – 3 G, 2 A, 5 P
  2. Connor McDavid, EDM – 3 G, 2 A, 5 P
  3. Steven Stamkos, TBL – 2 G, 3 A, 5 P
  4. John Tavares, TOR – 2 G, 3 A, 5 P
  5. Leon Draisaitl, EDM – 0 G, 5 A, 5 P
  6. Tomas Hertl, SJS – 3 G, 1 A, 4 P
  7. Jeff Petry, MTL – 2 G, 2 A, 4 P
  8. Nicklas Bäckström, WSH – 2 G, 2 A, 4 P
  9. William Nylander, TOR – 2 G, 2 A, 4 P
  10. Jeff Carter, LAK – 1 G, 3 A, 4 P
  11. Mark Stone, VGK – 1 G, 3 A, 4 P
  12. Kirill Kaprizov, MIN – 1 G, 3 A, 4 P
  13. Joel Farabee, PHI – 1 G, 3 A, 4 P
  14. Alexander Ovechkin, WSH – 1 G, 3 A, 4 P
  15. Mitchell Marner, TOR – 1 G, 3 A, 4 p


*- Standings;

*- QuantHockey;

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