There are some NHL 2021-22 early surprises thus far, and were going to discuss them right here at CSM. First of all, who would have predicted that the Buffalo Sabres would be 3-0 thus far? Amazingly enough, that’s not the only surprise of this young season. Let’s dig in to see what’s been happening.
BUFFALO SABRES UNDEFEATED
The Buffalo Sabres have not started a season 3-0 since the 2008-09 campaign. The team is displaying an aggressive up-tempo game plan devised by head coach Don Granato.
They pressure the puck and that has resulted in 65.26 percent of 5-on-5 scoring chances. That ranks them second to the Calgary Flames in that statistic. Even Jeff Skinner has three points in three games!
The Sabres defense has stepped up as well. They have allowed four goals or less through three games just three times in franchise history. Now, with this season’s surprising start, make that four. They have outscored their opponents 12-4. But, as we all know the Sabres could crash and burn at any time.
While their success may be an NHL 2021-22 early surprise, it’s still very early. Still they’re doing all this without their former captain Jack Eichel.
FOUR OTHER TEAMS 3-0
Not only have the Sabres gone 3-0 to start the season, but four other teams have matched that feat. The Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, Minnesota Wild, and St. Louis Blues have all won their first three games as of this writing.
While all four teams expect to be playoff contenders, they still can be classified as NHL 2021-22 early surprises.
The Oilers are attempting to show they are capable of winning a Stanley Cup. And with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl why not? The Panthers are hoping to continue the success they exhibited last season. The Wild are excited to have their star Russian forward Kirill Kaprizov back in the fold. Was his five-year $45 million deal worth it? Finally, the Blues are looking to regain the magic of their 2019 Cup victory.
TEAMS NOT DOING TOO WELL
There are also four winless teams thus far in the NHL 2021-22 early surprises. The most glaring of which is the Montreal Canadiens. They are a disappointing 0-4 after reaching the Stanley Cup Final last season. They have plenty of time to turn things around and getting Carey Price back will be vital. He could be gone for a while to recover.
WHAT’S UP WITH THE HAWKS
The Chicago Blackhawks were expecting better results than their 0-3-1 showing so far. Adding Vezina winner Marc-Andre Fleury was to be a good thing, right? Not so far, as his 0-3 record with a dismal 5.63 goals-against-average indicates. His .840 save percentage is totally uncharacteristic of the star netminder. Is the ’Flower’ wilting?
It’s certainly way too early for any of these teams to begin panicking, yet trends can be difficult to reverse. With an 82-game schedule, anything can… and sometimes does happen.
One only needs to recall the Sabres illustrious start to the 2019-20 season where they bolted out of the gate going 8-2. They proceeded to drop seven of the next 10 contests, including a six-game losing streak.
It’s still early.
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