Six Days in, and What a Wild Ride!! The 2013 Season So Far
The 2013 NHL season has been underway for less than a week and already there is plenty to talk about. While it's far to early to make any judgments on where anyone will end up, some teams have had a decidedly stronger start than others. A healthier Blackhawks have started the season -0 and look like the team that brought home the Cup three summers ago. Meanwhile, the Rangers, the Canucks, and the Flyers all have only one win to their credits. The Capitals and Stanley Cup defending Kings have none. Veterans and rookies alike are making a splash on the score sheets and highlight reels. It’s been exciting to watch so far and as this shortened season continues, it’s sure to get even more so. Here are just a few of the notable stories from these first six days.
Goals Galore!- The season definitely kicked off with the intensity that most people expected, and with it came a veritable goal scoring explosion. There have been 49 games played in these first few days. In 14 of those, and individual team has scored five or more goals. 8 games have seen a team score 6 or more. The total number of goals in a game have reached the double digits only three times, but many games came just one short. Three players (Marion Gaborik, Steve Sullivan and Eric Staal) have already tallied hat tricks. Teams are often getting on the board within the first five minutes of play and are getting contributions from all the players one would expect to see on a scorecard (the Sedins, Selanne, Gaborik, Malkin, Stamkos) as well as secondary scoring. The end of result of all this is that the games seem to be even faster paced than usual. It will be interesting to see if this goal scoring boon will hold out as the season progresses.
New Faces in New Places- This past off-season saw a lot of moving and shaking around the league, with many big name stars changing jerseys. For a lot of those teams, their new stars are providing instant results. Zach Parise shone in his first home game as a Wild, getting the lone goal of the game. Rick Nash notched his first goal as a Ranger in spectacular fashion, a short handed goal that was scored on a sweet move around Crosby. Jagr proved that age is only a number as he tallied two goals and two more assists in his first game with the Stars. Ray Whitney also had a goal for the Stars in that game. James Van Riemsdyk isn't a “big name” but he was an emerging talent in Philadelphia before going to the Maple Leafs during the off season and he's continuing to show huge potential there, scoring two goals in the Leafs big win over the Penguins. For an owner and GM, few things are worse than signing a big talent and established name who turns out to be a bust. Thus far, the teams that made those commitments last summer are reaping the benefits.
A Night at the Fights- The heightened intensity of this shortened season has brought more than just an influx of goals, it's also brought a whole lot of bad blood. Whether it's the pent up frustration from missing half a season, the increased tension from knowing that each game counts twice as much, a combination of the two, or something else entirely, teams have come out with their fists swinging. The Rangers, for example, have played four games and seen six fighting majors handed out, the most in the league so far. The Flyers have had five over four games, Columbus the same. While the Eastern Conference seems to have a much higher propensity toward fighting (Of the top ten, only three are Western Conference teams), it doesn't seem like many teams has backed away from a chance to drop the gloves. According to hockeyfights.com, only five teams have not yet had fights, but the season is still young. Fights are as alluring to most fans as goals, and many are enjoying the ride so far.
With over 40 games to go for every team, it's still anyone's year. As players get used to the competition again over the next few weeks, fans begin will get a real sense of who might be serious contenders this year and who will just have to wait for their team's chance at glory. In the meantime, it's apparent that the extended off season has not damped any of the players' drive to win and perform, nor their excitement to be back doing what they love. Now that hockey is finally back, fans might be disappointed in individual team efforts, but certainly no one can complain about the the entertainment value as a whole.
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