A month in, the 2022-23 NHL season is now not recent and enjoyable for a lot of franchises and their fan bases. Concerns that this gained’t be the season they envisioned within the preseason are starting to mount.

Case in level: When The Athletic requested its NHL employees this week for every workforce’s largest concern at this level within the season, one reporter overlaying a preseason-projected playoff workforce requested if he might submit a response of “Everything.”

Another mentioned the workforce he covers now regrettably appears too good to tank.

It’s a full spectrum of issues. Here are the most important ones for every workforce.


The horrendous penalty kill: You might have your decide of issues right here — John Gibson being annihilated nightly, Mason McTavish’s Calder candidacy by no means getting off the bottom, Dallas Eakins’ teaching, and many others., and many others. — however if you regularly take penalties and may’t kill them, it destroys any momentum you do construct. The Ducks’ 4.63 penalties per 60 minutes isn’t essentially the most within the NHL (Ottawa is at 5.80), however they’re atrocious at erasing them. They’ve allowed a league-high 15 power-play objectives, and their 61.5 p.c kill charge is flat-out unacceptable. Gibson (.768 shorthanded save share) isn’t overlaying up the leaky kill like he used to. Guess changing Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson is tougher than you suppose. — Eric Stephens

How to outlive their upcoming 14-game highway journey: The Coyotes have been an unexpectedly powerful out most nights this season, however the best problem comes now — a report stretch of no house video games between Nov. 5 and Dec. 7 that would be the final take a look at for the resiliency that coach Andre Tourigny is making an attempt to instill in his talent-thin roster. Arizona’s 3-6-1 report could possibly be about to worsen in a rush. — Eric Duhatschek

How they’ll clear house for Charlie McAvoy: McAvoy (shoulder) is scheduled to return round Thanksgiving. But he’s at present on long-term injured reserve. Assuming the remainder of the roster is at close to or full well being when McAvoy is cleared, the Bruins must create cap house to accommodate his $9.5 million common annual worth. They have already positioned Nick Foligno ($3.8 million AAV) and Mike Reilly ($3 million) on waivers. Both cleared, indicating that the Bruins must half with property to clear both wage. Craig Smith ($3.1 million) is unrestricted after this yr. But the best wing has been injured and is averaging a career-low 11:48 of ice time per sport. — Fluto Shinzawa

Injuries on protection: Buffalo is off to a 7-3 begin and has been taking part in with out its high three defensemen for the previous week. Mattias Samuelsson is out for not less than a number of extra weeks. Henri Jokiharju is getting nearer to a return, as is Ilya Lyubushkin. But the Sabres’ depth on the blue line has been examined. While they’ve gotten robust goaltending and respectable play from those that have stuffed in, they’ll have a a lot stabler scenario when the lineup is again at full power. — Matthew Fairburn

Jonathan Huberdeau: Through 9 video games, the star ahead and prize acquisition has only one aim, and he has gone pointless over his previous three video games. Only one among his 5 factors has come at five-on-five. Huberdeau is making an attempt to shoot extra and create performs, nevertheless it hasn’t all clicked simply but. Meanwhile, Darryl Sutter is making an attempt to determine if Elias Lindholm or Nazem Kadri needs to be his middle, going ahead. There’s nonetheless time for Huberdeau to get going, however he’ll want stability. — Julian McKenzie and Hailey Salvian

An uncharacteristically mediocre penalty kill: Much of the griping by Hurricanes followers has been in regards to the workforce’s energy play, which had transformed on 17.8 p.c of its probabilities by way of Friday’s win over the Sabres however has failed quite a few occasions in key conditions. The actual concern, although, is Carolina’s vaunted penalty kill. Since Rod Brind’Amour took over as coach in 2018, the Hurricanes have the league’s greatest cumulative penalty kill (84.5 p.c), rating eighth or higher every season and main the NHL at 88 p.c a yr in the past. This yr, it’s at 77.3 p.c, has allowed not less than one aim in eight of the workforce’s first 11 video games and hasn’t regarded almost as stingy. — Cory Lavalette

Being too aggressive for their very own good: Look, everyone knows that gamers and coaches don’t tank. Nobody within the Blackhawks locker room is sitting there ready round for an adolescent to return take their job and save the franchise. But to Kyle Davidson and the Blackhawks brass, the entire level of this season was to be unhealthy sufficient to ensure a top-three decide subsequent summer season, with Connor Bedard in thoughts. Through 11 video games, the Blackhawks aren’t essentially “good,” however they seem far too competent, far too aggressive and much too well-coached to be as unhealthy as they’re presupposed to be — and as most suppose they must be. It’s enjoyable proper now, however ending in tenth or eleventh place within the Western Conference is really the worst-case state of affairs for administration. — Mark Lazerus

Depth forwards and secondary scoring: Colorado has leaned closely on high forwards Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Valeri Nichushkin. Aside from these three, Evan Rodrigues (4 objectives), Logan O’Connor (two) and Artturi Lehkonen (two), no different ahead on the workforce has a couple of aim. Alex Newhook continues to be adjusting to added accountability, and the workforce hasn’t been in a position to replicate the manufacturing misplaced when Nazem Kadri and Andre Burakovsky left in free company. Plus, Jared Bednar has not discovered a fourth line he trusts. — Peter Baugh

Goals allowed: The Blue Jackets spent all summer season taking a look at methods to chop down their goals-against after permitting a franchise report 298 in 2021-22. Whatever they got here up with, it hasn’t labored. A mix of leaky goaltending and maddening defensive breakdowns have spelled doom within the early season. The Jackets have allowed 50 objectives by way of 11 video games, together with 23 over their previous 4. If this doesn’t get markedly higher and rapidly, they’re a lottery workforce. — Aaron Portzline

Injuries: The Stars are nonetheless principally within the honeymoon section of the Pete DeBoer period when it comes to outcomes. They’re scoring objectives, not letting too many in and after they have an off efficiency, they reply nicely. However, the harm bug has proven up and given a glimpse as to how a lot of a problem it may be. Miro Heiskanen, the workforce’s greatest participant, missed three video games, and through that point, the facility play went freezing chilly. Jake Oettinger started the season at a Vezina degree however has been out for per week. Not solely are accidents gamers of this caliber powerful to take care of, however the Stars are additionally strapped in opposition to the cap. Though they’ve organizational depth, Oettinger’s harm has compelled the workforce to hold solely 12 forwards for cap causes. Things are going nicely for the Stars, however accidents have the potential to derail issues. — Saad Yousuf

Turnovers and sloppy puck play: In some methods, the Red Wings have taken actual steps ahead defensively this season — wanted ones after an abysmal exhibiting in 2021-22. Their penalty kill is improved, and their new additions (each at ahead and on protection) have helped make them more durable to play in opposition to. But they’re nonetheless turning too many pucks over, particularly in necessary components of the ice. Their inconsistency in making an attempt to cleanly exit the defensive zone is an enormous a part of that, and it’s resulting in prolonged time on offense for his or her opponents. The Red Wings have managed to begin 5-3-2 anyway, however they’ve already began to pay for these errors on the scoreboard — and the report will comply with if they will’t clear it up. — Max Bultman

The penalty kill: Maybe Thursday’s excellent 3-for-3 efficiency is an indication that issues are on the mend. The Oilers need to hope so. The PK hasn’t been ok this season. Edmonton has allowed not less than one aim whereas shorthanded in 9 of 11 video games and stymied opponents’ energy performs simply 75 p.c of the time. That success charge had them within the backside quarter of the league coming into play on Friday. The Oilers have Stanley Cup aspirations. The PK work isn’t near that degree. — Daniel Nugent-Bowman

The energy play: It’s not a brand new situation for the Panthers — a near-total power-play outage was a part of the explanation their season ended within the second spherical of the playoffs. The personnel is totally different, although; Jonathan Huberdeau and Claude Giroux are gone, Aaron Ekblad and Anthony Duclair are injured and the unit is struggling much more. Florida is thirty first within the league with a ten.6 p.c conversion charge (5-for-47), forward of solely Columbus (0-for-25). Florida is getting its share of alternatives (tied for second within the league), and Ekblad’s return will assist, however each elements can solely go to date. — Sean Gentille

Consistently being inconsistent: The Kings’ 6-6-1 report says all of it. They aren’t the one membership that’s nonetheless making an attempt to determine all of it out, however they only wrapped up a 1-1-1 highway journey with an extra time loss at Chicago, a defeat wherein they managed to place just one shot previous goalie Arvid Soderblom, who had three NHL begins and no wins to his identify coming in. Ironically, it isn’t the offense that’s a problem. The Kings rating sufficient (3.31 objectives per sport) however haven’t put stretches collectively of defending constantly by way of 60 minutes. Paired with that’s Jonathan Quick (.889 save share) and Cal Petersen (.868) not stealing video games. Every step or two ahead is met with one or two backward. — Eric Stephens

Injuries to large forwards: The Wild are all of the sudden inundated with accidents, notably to 4 large, bodily forwards: Jordan Greenway, Ryan Hartman, Marcus Foligno and Brandon Duhaime. This is a smallish workforce to start, and the injured gamers’ absence was felt and seen throughout Thursday’s shutout loss to Seattle. Greenway is near returning, nevertheless it’s unclear how lengthy the others might be out, significantly Hartman, who scored 34 occasions final season. — Michael Russo

Generating worth with commerce property: Considering the low expectations, you possibly can say the Canadiens selecting up factors early is a deterrent to fetching a excessive draft decide subsequent June. But since this isn’t their prime aim, we’ll go along with the shortage of worth being generated by the gamers they’re hoping to flip on the commerce deadline. You might hope that gamers like Evgenii Dadonov, Sean Monahan, Jonathan Drouin, and to a lesser extent Mike Hoffman, would be capable of generate good returns, however to date, the possibilities of that taking place look a bit grim. — Marc Antoine Godin

Young gamers who aren’t growing: Cody Glass goes from camp nice shock to top-six look to wholesome scratch. Eeli Tolvanen from early success to top-six look to wholesome scratch. Dante Fabbro from top-four begin to wholesome scratch. Philip Tomasino from presumed top-six alternative to the AHL. And he’s nonetheless there. This is meant to be the muse of the longer term. — Joe Rexrode

Getting the goaltending to maintain up within the Metro: There’s lots to love in regards to the Devils’ begin. After a few disappointing video games to open the yr, this workforce has been crushing it at five-on-five, is weathering the lack of Ondrej Palat and is getting outcomes from the John Marino addition. But the goaltending — which isn’t excellent to begin with — could get dicey relying on Mackenzie Blackwood’s standing. The Devils are doing nicely to guard their goalies, however they should discover a strategy to stability Vitek Vanecek’s workload sufficient that they will preserve the tempo down the stretch. There’s numerous competitors, from final yr’s playoff groups to squads just like the Islanders pushing for a return. That was already a problem for New Jersey, however it might have gotten a bit tougher with the newest harm. — Shayna Goldman

New York Islanders

The energy play: There isn’t a lot that’s gone improper recently for the Islanders, who obtained their fifth straight win, all in regulation, in St. Louis on Thursday. If there’s one space for enchancment, although, it’s the facility play, which is simply 5-for-34 and sometimes seems immobile. If the Islanders can get that going whereas sustaining what has been an excellent penalty kill, they might take their place among the many NHL’s elite groups briefly order. — Kevin Kurz

Their luck: The Rangers lead the league in anticipated objectives by way of 12 video games. They are twenty eighth in taking pictures share at five-on-five, although, so they’re final in anticipated goals-versus-actual objectives differential. Everything else of their sport is nice or not less than ok, however there’s been little or no luck on their facet. It can’t final, proper? Right? — Arthur Staple

Lack of consistency from the defensive pairings: Heading into the season, we knew Ottawa’s largest potential weak point was its blue line. Ten video games into the season, these fears have come to fruition. The Senators have but to search out consistency of their defensive pairings, and the latest harm to Artem Zub has solely magnified the problem. The Senators might want to tackle this situation quickly in the event that they don’t need the season to slide away. Recalling prospect Jacob Bernard-Docker on Friday is a possible inner answer, however that’s numerous stress to position on a younger defender. Ottawa’s blue line will definitely be underneath the microscope over the subsequent 10 video games. — Ian Mendes

They barely ever have the puck At first look, the Flyers certain appear like they’re exceeding expectations. Through ten video games, they’ve a stable 5-3-2 report, and going purely by factors share, they’re really sitting in a playoff spot within the loaded Eastern Conference. The drawback? They’re getting completely crushed nightly, and Carter Hart is the first motive they’re profitable any video games in any respect. Hart’s .943 save share and common heroics deserve reward, however the skaters in entrance of him don’t. So far, the Flyers have collected simply 36.6 p.c of the anticipated objectives (per Evolving-Hockey) at five-on-five, good for thirty first within the league, and 38 p.c of the shot makes an attempt (lifeless final). In different phrases, they’re taking part in protection for almost two-thirds of their video games. Unless Hart continues to supply traditionally implausible outcomes, the ground goes to fall out from underneath the Flyers in the event that they don’t repair this main situation — quick. — Charlie O’Connor

Irresponsible play with the puck: The Penguins are giveaway machines early this season, which has uncovered a subpar protection corps and goaltending that has taken a step again. Forwards are sending blind passes by way of the offensive zone at an alarming charge, and neutral-zone turnovers are a daily incidence. Coach Mike Sullivan is pissed off together with his membership’s careless puck play, and rightfully so as a result of it’s contributed to a shedding streak that soured a promising starting. — Rob Rossi

An improved course of not resulting in outcomes: The Sharks began 0-5 however have performed considerably higher since then. Erik Karlsson has been implausible, different high gamers have improved and so they’ve cleaned up some main points from the unhealthy begin … however San Jose can be simply 3-3-2 since then and has gained only one sport in regulation. We don’t know if the membership can proceed to play this nicely for a protracted stretch of video games, or the way it will react when there are issues like accidents or dips in efficiency which might be inevitable. The Sharks haven’t banked sufficient factors when the occasions are good to soak up one other stretch when the occasions are unhealthy. — Corey Masisak

Goaltending depth, particularly after the Philipp Grubauer harm: It’s not just like the Kraken got here into the season with out issues in internet, however the Grubauer harm solely places extra stress on an space of weak point. Anytime a workforce has to depend on Martin Jones as a starter, there’s motive for concern. While Joey Daccord is within the fold now, he solely has a lot NHL-level expertise. The shiny facet is that Seattle actually does have the aim assist it was lacking final yr, which helps it come again in video games. But the Kraken’s goaltenders have allowed extra objectives than anticipated and solely have so excessive of a ceiling. — Shayna Goldman

Everything (besides the goaltending): After a 3-0 begin, the Blues are on a slide that hasn’t been seen in St. Louis for the reason that finish of the 2013-14 season. They’re 0-6 and their subsequent sport is on the league’s high workforce, Boston (10-1). There was hope that basic supervisor Doug Armstrong addressing the workforce earlier this week would flip the tide, however two days later, the identical points — restricted scoring and defensive lapses — led to a 5-2 loss to the Islanders. The Blues are actually final in objectives for (2.33 per sport) and No. 28 in objectives in opposition to (3.89). They’re in all probability higher than they’ve proven, nevertheless it might get to a degree quickly the place Armstrong has to resolve if a commerce may help salvage the season or if it’s time to start the rebuild. — Jeremy Rutherford

The blue line and penalty kill: The Lightning blue line underwent a makeover within the offseason, and they’re nonetheless making an attempt to make up for the lack of Ryan McDonagh. They additionally needed to change Jan Rutta, and Zach Bogosian has been out. It’s telling that Tampa Bay is in the course of the pack in objectives allowed (sixteenth, 3.09 goals-against common) whereas having the most effective goalie on the earth. They’re giving up an excessive amount of defensively, as Andrei Vasilevskiy’s 52-save effort confirmed in Thursday’s shootout loss. There’s nonetheless loads of time and the Lightning can determine it out. They simply want to regulate to their new gamers in several roles. — Joe Smith

The state of the protection: The Leafs’ largest wrestle within the opening month — shockingly — was the offense, significantly from the celebrities. They simply weren’t producing as typical nor trying all that harmful. Inevitably, Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner will warmth up. John Tavares got here up with a hat trick the opposite evening in a hopeful signal of issues to return for the celebrities up high. The protection is extra unsure. Jake Muzzin is out indefinitely and will not return this season. Justin Holl has struggled. Mark Giordano is the oldest defenseman within the league. And Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren are each younger of their careers. There are numerous query marks right here. About the one two defenders the Leafs can utterly depend on are Morgan Rielly and T.J. Brodie. And they’ve needed to break up these two up within the identify of stability. — Jonas Siegel

The penalty kill: Where do you start? The Canucks rank thirty first within the NHL by workforce save share, twenty seventh in factors share, twentieth by anticipated objectives share (rating adjusted). So we might go on and on with this. But we’ve got to select the penalty kill, which has surrendered 14 objectives in opposition to and has the worst kill charge within the league. Only one workforce has surrendered extra power-play objectives in opposition to — the Ducks — and solely by one, and so they’ve spent 17 extra minutes shorthanded than Vancouver has. If you alter to objectives in opposition to per hour charge, the Canucks are surrendering over 20 objectives per hour and the Ducks — who’re second-worst — are at about 15 objectives per hour. In different phrases, Vancouver’s penalty kill is about 33 p.c worse than the subsequent worst workforce within the league by way of the primary few weeks of the season. Yikes. — Thomas Drance

The particular groups: The Golden Knights rank seventeenth within the league in each power-play and penalty-kill share by way of 12 video games. We knew coming into the season each could be works in progress, as Bruce Cassidy and assistant coach John Stevens try to enhance Vegas’ struggling particular groups, and to date it’s been simply that. The excellent news is Cassidy has already shuffled the facility play a number of occasions, and it’s regarded significantly better since he put Jack Eichel on his robust facet and Mark Stone within the bumper spot. The penalty kill is coming alongside, efficiently killing 11 of the previous 12 (91.7 p.c) after a tough 11-of-16 (68.8 p.c) begin. Still, each items will must be higher shifting ahead. — Jesse Granger

Washington Capitals

$35 million in salaries on injured reserve: Before the season, I requested a high Caps govt what retains him awake at evening. His reply: “Injuries.” Not even a month in, a nightmare state of affairs is taking part in out. As of Friday, Nicklas Backstrom ($9.2 million), John Carlson ($8 million), T.J. Oshie ($5.75 million), Tom Wilson ($5.17 million), Connor Brown ($3.6 million), Carl Hagelin ($2.75 million) and Beck Malenstyn ($762,000) had been on some type of IR. Goaltending — final yr’s largest deficiency — is vastly improved. But scoring is down and down considerably. After years of outrunning Father Time, it’s onerous to not marvel if he’s lastly caught as much as the veteran-laden Caps. — Tarik El-Bashir

Self-inflicted wounds: Winnipeg has forechecked higher, backchecked higher and roughly maintained higher defensive protection early this season when in comparison with final. Good information, proper? Yes, and … 1) Last yr’s course of is a low bar to clear, and a couple of) Despite exhibiting indicators of enchancment, the Jets proceed to throw the puck away at their very own blue line. Whether the decision-making is gradual, the assist is lacking, or Winnipeg is fleeing the zone searching for offense, the Jets are making the sorts of puck-management errors that take the air out of their total enhancements and bury the workforce in its personal zone for lengthy stretches of play. If you possibly can snap your fingers and repair it, Winnipeg is nice sufficient at all the pieces else to be fairly a aggressive workforce. — Murat Ates

(Top photograph of Ryan Lindgren and Igor Shesterkin: Bruce Bennett / Getty Images)



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