The weather is getting colder (well, some days, at least) and the on-track action is heating up.
It’s been just over a month into the 2021-22 NHL season and things have been anything but quiet across all 32 teams in the league. Jack Eichel was finally able to leave Western New York and undergo desperately needed surgery to continue his NHL career. Alex Ovechkin continues his rise as the game’s all-time leading scorer. And the teams that were supposed to be upstairs are downstairs and the ones expected to be in the basement live in the attic.
OVECHKIN: Moving up the list | Can you catch Gretzky?
It has been wild.
As things get back to normal arenas full of fans, the trainers in the hot seat or with pink slip, the faithful Canucks call by Jim Benning’s head: time to reflect. And with American Thanksgiving now here, it’s the perfect time to review what we are thankful for in the first month of the season.
NHL 2021-22: Four things we’re thankful for to start the year
1. Mind-blowing goals
There was Matthew Tkachuk doing his thing.
Brandon Duhaime scored the wildest goal in NHL history in the opening of his career.
His teammate Kevin Fiala showing off a pair of evil hands.
Not surprisingly, the Connor McDavid Show continues …
MORE: McDavid’s goal could be ‘Goal of the year’
And then there was Kevin Hayes’ first goal of the year, which was bigger than anything we’ve seen, and will see, this season.
2. Goalkeeper resurrections
As mentioned in the Sporting News review of the Amazon Original, “All or Nothing: Toronto Maple Leafs,” it was pretty clear that midway through the five-episode series not only were the Maple Leafs unhappy with Andersen, but he never would sign again. in Toronto. The Danish goalkeeper battled injury, and possibly a loss of confidence, during the 2021 season after being an All-Star in 2019-20.
Fast forward to the 2021-22 season and Andersen is in Carolina and back to normal. He has a brilliant 11-3-0 record with a brilliant save percentage of .936 and an average of 1.89 goals against.
In 2021, Markstrom struggled at times and finished the season with a 22-19-2 record and a career worst .904 save percentage, and minus 4.0 above-average goals saved (minimum 25 games) . It was a marked drop from his 2019-20 All-Star season, where he had a .918 save percentage and 11.4 GSAA.
Now Markstrom is back. While he has a decent 8-3-4 record, it’s a fiery 1.73 GAA, a .940 savings percentage, and a 12.1 GSAA. There are 15 teams without a shutout; Markstrom has five shutouts, the best in the NHL, in 15 games.
3. Teams that don’t understand the task
Let’s just say it was really an unexpected start to the season. There was a lot of ‘what’s going on?’ vibes. It felt like we were all in The Upside Down. Teams like the Red Wings and Sabers were hot, while the playoff contenders, the Islanders and the Golden Knights, weren’t. It was definitely not like anyone thought things would go to the start of the first full 82-game season in quite some time (incredibly grateful for that, by the way).
Now that things have somewhat returned to their place, there is still a lot of intrigue and drama to fill the next five months. Who had the Flames leading the Western Conference on November 25? What about the stars flirting with .500 and in the mix? Or the ducks among the best in the West? The Islanders are actually last in the Metropolitan and up to a four-game win streak, the Penguins were also basement dwellers.
Madness, chaos? – it’s quite nice as this season has really become one where any team can win on any night.
Oh, and the only team that really understood the task? Yes, you guessed it: the Coyotes, who have put all their chips on Shane Wright.
NHL DRAFT 2022: Wright and nine more players to watch
4. Age is just a number
The NHL is a youth league … blah blah blah. Like fine wine, several gray-haired veterans tell the kids “have my chardonnay” and let me show you how it’s made.
- Alex Ovechkin, 36, is tied for second in the NHL in goals (15), third in points (33) and tied for first in uniform-force goals (11).
- Jonathan Quick, 35, is in the top 10 in goals against average (2.25) and fourth in save percentage (.928).
- 36-year-old Patrice Bergeron leads the league in Corsi by percentage (63.99) at 5v5.
- Zdeno Chara, 44, dropped the gloves with Pat Maroon.
- Craig Anderson, 40, was 4-2-0 with a .920 save percentage before sustaining an upper body injury on Nov. 2.
- Brent Burns, 36, is second among all NHL defenders in ice time.
There has been a lot to start the season and surely more important moments, spectacular saves and goals and stories to come.
Will super nice guy Keith Yandle Not only will he become the number one iron man in the NHL on January 18, but he will break 1,000 straight games at the end of the season. How will the Olympics go? What chaos will the March trade deadline bring? Can the Maple Leafs break their postseason win drought?
It’s going to be a fun ride the rest of the way. Buckle up and happy holidays!
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.