Early trends. What to trust, what to watch out for.
2nd week into the season and every team except the Washington Capitals and the Philadelphia Flyers has played at least 5 games. With 5 games and 2 weeks in the books for the 2015-2016 NHL season here 10 things to keep in mind at this point in the season:
1. Jason Spezza is what he has been the last two years. He will end the season with 60-65 points. He has a 30% shooting percentage right now. Dallas is a high octane team which helps embellish his numbers a bit. He'll continue to get a lot of shots on goal and a decent amount of Power Play Points.
2. Anthony Duclair is off to a great start with 6 points in 5 games played. He has the potential to be a star down the road but this pace is unsustainable. For starters he has 8 shots and 4 goals. Furthermore he's averaging about 12mins TOI which isn't enough to keep up a strong pace of points. I'm more bullish on Duclair than on Oscar Lindberg as Duclair has shown more of the natural finishing touch thus far. He is likely going to be a 26 goal 25 assist player but keep an eye on how the Coyotes use Duclair and Max Domi and how this benefits their line mates. The current lines appear to be: Line 1 Max Domi (LW), Antoine Vermette (C ), Mikkel Boedker (RW); Line 2 Tobias Rieder (LW), Martin Hanzal (C ), Anthony Duclair (RW).
3. I will continue to ‘Ostrich my head' into the ground on Sergei Bobrovsky. Columbus is off to a poor start with turnovers and poor defense but this will shore up soon and he will become an asset. If anyone is dropping him - PICK HIM UP. He's dropped down to 87% owned in Yahoo and 93% in ESPN leagues. Capitalize on a mistake like this. Columbus is off to a 6 game loss to start the season. They will have a counter 5 game win streak within the next 2 months. This team has the talent to succeed they just need to find themselves.
4. The same can be said for the Ducks. 1-3-1 is not representative of the talent this team can showcase when they find themselves (see point 8).
5. If your league utilizes hits, here are the teams hitting the most per game currently:
NY Islanders (40 hits per game) Record: 3-1-1
Philadelphia Flyers (30.8 hits per game) Record: 2-1-1
Columbus Blue Jackets (30.5 hits per game) Record: 0-6
NY Rangers (29 hits per game) Record: 4-2-2
Florida Panthers (28.6 hits per game) Record: 3-2-0
Boston Bruins (27.2 hits per game) Record: 2-3
Winnipeg Jets (27.2 hits per game) Record: 4-2
Ottawa Senators (26.8 hits per game) Record: 3-2-1
Toronto Maple Leafs (26.8 hits per game) Record: 1-3-1
Los Angeles Kings (26 hits per game) Record 2-3
6. Bruce Boudreau and Todd Richards are on the hot seats right now and will need some wins to keep their jobs
7. Columbus, Colorado and Dallas are amongst the top three teams in Power Play Goals this year (6, 5 and 5). All three are there for a good reason. Their units are working well, cycling the puck and will be Power Play Forces this year. Caveat to this - Columbus has had the most opportunities at 21 (tied with Florida and Montreal)
8. Team Shooting Percentages right now on the low end: Anaheim Ducks (1%), Los Angeles Kings (4%), Pittsburgh Penguins (4%), Edmonton Oilers (5%), Philadelphia Flyers (6%), New Jersey Devils (6%), Chicago Blackhawks (6%). No team has finished below 7% over the last 2 years.
9. Team Shooting Percentages right now on the high end: Detroit Red Wings (16%), Colorado Avalanche (15%), Minnesota Wild (13%), Winnipeg Jets (12%), Tampa Bay Lightning (12%), Boston Bruins (12%), Ottawa Senators (12%), Florida Panthers (12%). No team has finished above 11% over the last 2 years.
10. Avoid Carolina Hurricane special teams right now. BUT keep in mind they are averaging the 5th most shots in the league.
Finally - I will reiterate what I concluded in the first Trends and Pretends: keep the faith on the stars who are off to slow starts and goal slumps, I'm specifically referencing: Sidney Crosby, Corey Perry, Jonathan Toews, Rick Nash, Jakub Voracek, Ryan Getzlaf and David Backes. The goals will be coming in volume soon enough.
A few good articles across the league:
Another Prospect to keep watch over - Daniel Audette:
A few other young guys who are excelling: Hampus Gustafsson, Dan Renouf, Jordan Gross, Zach Aston-Reese and Mario Puskarich (who is not shy about peppering goalies with shots)
I'm bullish on the Wild having a good season. They have been building a great program over the last few years.