Early NHL Surprises and Disappointments
We are just over a month into the NHL season, but many teams have built some steam, while others continue to drop. Slow starts for teams who were projected playoff contenders and even challenge for the Stanley Cup have dropped the value of those teams. Here’s a look at some of the early NHL surprises and disappointments across the league.
Early NHL Surprises
New York Islanders
The Islanders have had a fast start to the season, and their recent 10-game winning streak helped prove that they could be one of the best teams in the NHL in 2019-20. Building off a strong 2018-19, the Islanders look destined for a potentially deep playoff run. This team was highly thought of in our team preview before the season, they look to be a little bit ahead of expectation. Plenty of season to go, but the Islanders are one of the biggest early surprises.
Did anyone see, how good the Oilers start to the season coming? Probably not, I sure didn’t as they have really built up some confidence en route to an 11-5-2 record with 24 points, through there first 18 games. An under 84.5 point total was the projection before the season started, but the level the Oilers are playing they look capable of not only a playoff birth, but being in contention for the Pacific Division championship. It’s still really early, but right now Edmonton is one of the biggest surprises in the NHL and could be a best bet for the Cup.
The Sabres had a quick start to the season but has lost a bit of its mojo in the last few games. Buffalo currently holds the fourth spot in the Atlantic, but back to back losses to an inconsistent Lightning team have the Sabres trending back down. The start they were able to have has them as one of the bigger surprises to start the season, but that doesn’t look like it will last much longer.
San Jose Sharks
In what are the most disappointing seasons to this point in recent memory for a Sharks team that has been a staple in the Western Conference. San Jose finds itself second to last in the Pacific Divison, with just seven wins so far, and 15 points. They haven’t started anywhere near what they were projected to start. It’s still early in the season, but the Sharks have probably been not only the biggest disappointment to this point but the biggest shocker of the season. Coming from a team that reached the Western Conference Finals last season, this team will need to get it together quickly. They have talent and depth.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Man what a difference a year makes, the Lightning looked universes better than everyone else in the regular season last year. A 128-point season looked promising for a team in search of their second Stanley Cup, but a 1st-round playoff exit has kind of set the tone for a slow start in 2019-20. They have started to turn it around, but they still have a hill to climb to get back to the top in the Atlantic. Can they right the ship, I think they are the best pick of teams who have had slow starts, that can still move up the standings.
The Stars were able to make the playoffs in 2018-19, and took eventual Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis to seven games before being eliminated in the second round. yet a slow start in 2019-20, and the Stars sit third from the bottom in the Central, with an 8-8-1 record. There is still plenty of time, for them to improve and move up in the standings, but it is going to be a tough ask, with Winnipeg, Nashville, Colorado and St. Louis all playing at a higher level than Dallas.