October 19 — Way Too Soon Trends & NBA Team Twins

Yesterday’s NHL Scores

Last Night’s News 📰

THINGS ARE LOOKING UP: Commissioner Gary Bettman offered some optimism for the immediate financial future of the league on Tuesday, suggesting the salary cap could go up by $4 million as early as next season. After the NHL’s Board of Governors meeting, Bettman indicated that the players could finish repaying owners for pandemic-related revenue losses later this season. 

HIGH PRICE TO PAY: Evgeny Kuznetsov will miss the Washington Capitals game tomorrow night at the Ottawa Senators to serve a one-game suspension, without pay, for high-sticking Vancouver Canucks defenseman Kyle Burroughs on Monday. Based on Kuznetsov’s average annual salary, he will forfeit $42,162.16 to the NHL Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund. 

ANSON ACQUIRES ATLANTA: Anson Carter, an NHL analyst on TNT and NHL Player Inclusion Committee member, is a new part-owner of the Atlanta Gladiators in the ECHL. As a minority owner, Carter will be actively involved and promises to build the Gladiators brand “internationally in the hockey world” and grow the sport throughout the Atlanta region. 

THE FIRST ONE IS THE HARDEST: Five of the six winless teams were in action last night, with three recording their first victory. New Jersey is undefeated while wearing its “Jersey” jerseys, defeating the Anaheim Ducks 4-2 on Tuesday, while the Ottawa Senators are unbeaten whenever Claude Giroux scores for them. In Columbus, the Blue Jackets rallied from a two-goal deficit to overcome the Vancouver Canucks in overtime, 4-3. 

Who Said It

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1) “We haven’t played the way we want to, so we’ve just got to learn from that. I think we’ve played some partly good hockey, but we haven’t played two full good 60 minutes and I think we’ve been sloppy in some areas. The power play hasn’t been good, but we’ve just got [to] find a way and work hard for 60 minutes.”

A. Elias Pettersson
B. Tomáš Hertl
C. Mats Zuccarello

2) “For some of these kids, you never know. Some might not ever see an NHL game, so for them to see it, up close and live, for those boys and girls who play the game or who are hoping to, this can hopefully inspire them. With the new rink being repaired, it’s a perfect opportunity for kids to further their love of the game.”

A. Sam Montembeault
B. Jake Allen
C. Carey Price

3) “The good thing, I guess, is we’re frustrated—when you’re not close, you’re not frustrated. We were right there.”

A. André Tourigny
B. Dean Evason
C. Lindy Ruff

Answers can be found at the bottom of the email.

Fact or Fiction: Early Results

With every NHL team (except St. Louis) playing somewhere in the range of two to four games thus far, most hockey coverage focuses on identifying some very early trends and projecting what they mean the rest of the way. As you might guess when analyzing a sample size that covers roughly 2.5% to 5% of the entire 82-game season, some of these early trends might mean something, but many probably won’t mean much when all is said and done.

To get a sense of the success rate of these early trends, you only need to go back as far as last season. For example, a 3-0 start by the Buffalo Sabres can serve as a sobering reminder to fans who might be getting too caught up in their team’s encouraging early returns. Here’s some idea of how initial knee-jerk reactions from a year ago panned out.

Fact – Calgary Flames

The top line of the 2021-22 Calgary Flames (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

After a reset amongst their top stars over the summer, the Calgary Flames are still one of a handful of teams with a shot at the Stanley Cup this season. However, it’s easy to forget that this is a relatively new phenomenon, as the Flames went into last season without a playoff series win in their previous six years, so a 6-1-1 start was notable. Later in the year, a 10-game win streak highlighted a dominant regular season in which they topped the Pacific Division with 111 points.

Fiction – Colorado Avalanche

A 4-5-1 record through 10 games was not what anyone expected from the Colorado Avalanche coming off their Presidents’ Trophy-winning season. Nathan MacKinnon was battling COVID, Cale Makar was a minus-8, and Darcy Kuemper struggled after being acquired from Arizona. Well, we know how this one turned out. Though Kuemper didn’t improve much, MacKinnon and Makar turned out just fine as they led Colorado to wins in 28 of their next 33 and, oh yeah, the Cup.

Fact – Chicago Blackhawks

It seems like a lifetime ago, but remember when people were high on the Chicago Blackhawks heading into last season? They had acquired Seth Jones and Marc-André Fleury and looked like a real threat in the Central Division. However, when they played the games, Chicago didn’t record its first win until its 10th game. Things didn’t get much better, and now the Windy City is a full-blown rebuild.

Fiction – Martin Jones

Martin Jones, Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

With Carter Hart struggling in the Philadelphia Flyers’ crease to begin the year, the club turned to newly signed Martin Jones to help their young netminder. After three starts, he looked more like the answer than merely a stopgap, going 3-0 with a 1.67 goals-against average (GAA) and a .950 save percentage (SV%). Unfortunately for Jones, things quickly returned to normal, as he finished the year with a 12-18-3 record, 3.42 GAA, and .900 SV%.

NBA Counterparts to NHL Teams

On a certain level, the NHL and the NBA will always be at least a little intertwined. Both winter sports among the North American “Big Four” professional leagues, their seasons run parallel, and they often share a building in cities boasting franchises in each sport. This weekend, the United Center will host the Chicago Blackhawks’ home opener on Friday and then feature the Chicago Bulls kicking off their home slate on Saturday.

In honor of the NBA getting their 2022-23 season underway last night, let’s look at some NHL clubs and the NBA teams that find themselves in a similar position in the early stages of a new campaign.

Calgary Flames = Brooklyn Nets

Both franchises underwent some rather tumultuous summers, particularly concerning their biggest stars. Calgary lost Johnny Gaudreau to free agency and had its hands forced by a Matthew Tkachuk trade request. However, the Flames navigated rough terrain to bring Jonathan Huberdeau and Nazem Kadri back as replacements. Likewise, Brooklyn’s summer was dominated by Kevin Durant asking out. Nevertheless, he remains with the Nets, and both organizations have championship aspirations this season.

Colorado Avalanche = Golden State Warriors

Well, yes, they’re both the defending champions in their respective leagues. Dig a little deeper, though, and the similarities continue. Both franchises are built to last, anchored by foundational stars (Nathan MacKinnon, Steph Curry) but also supported by phenomenal young talent (Cale Makar, Jordan Poole). Fans of other teams in each league can surely commiserate about how frustrating it is to witness these organizations’ sustained greatness.

Chicago Blackhawks = Utah Jazz

Another shared characteristic of the NHL and NBA is the generational prospect who will be up for grabs in the next draft. NHL also-rans might be keeping an eye on their lottery odds in hopes of a shot at Connor Bedard, just as lesser NBA clubs may be holding out hopes for French phenom Victor Wembanyama. We’re not saying the Blackhawks and Jazz have been tanking, even though Alex DeBrincat, Kirby Dach, Rudy Gobert, and Donovan Mitchell represent an awful lot of athletic talent to unload in one summer.

Who Said It Answers

  1. Elias Pettersson
  2. Jake Allen
  3. André Tourigny

NHL Standings

NHL’s Leading Scorers

Today’s NHL Schedule