As the primary month of the NHL’s 2022-23 calendar nears its finish, the Philadelphia Flyers are in first place within the Metropolitan Division, the Tampa Bay Lightning are tied for final within the Atlantic and Kyle Connor is eighth on the Winnipeg Jets in scoring.

Even the boldest of our predictions are being surpassed by the surprises of a season in motion.

What has been every group’s largest shock to this point, for good, unhealthy or ugly? The Athletic posed that query to the writers who know the groups greatest.

Here’s what they stated.

John Klingberg’s lack of offensive influence: The most notable of the free brokers signed by normal supervisor Pat Verbeek is enjoying a variety of minutes for Anaheim however having subsequent to no constructive influence within the early going. Klingberg was supposed so as to add additional oomph to a promising Ducks energy play, and it has been lackluster and unproductive. He can nonetheless transfer the puck with the very best of them, however he’s been surprisingly poor on his deal with, and turnovers have resulted. The Ducks knew he could be no dynamo in his personal finish, however he’s anticipated to be so when he crosses the pink line. They weren’t relying on solely two assists and a minus-6 score within the first eight video games. — Eric Stephens

The vastly improved energy play: Even with out Nick Schmaltz, who performed solely 2:26 within the first sport earlier than getting injured, the Coyotes’ energy play is buzzing alongside at a 27.6 % success price, a major enchancment over final yr’s Thirtieth-ranked PP, which managed solely a 13.9 % conversion price. An enormous a part of that has been the play of Shayne Gostisbehere, who leads the group in targets (4), factors (eight) and PP factors (5) whereas gobbling up round 23 minutes of ice time per evening. Gostisbehere is on an expiring contract and goes to be intriguing trade-deadline bait for any contender needing a PP QB. — Eric Duhatschek

Nick Foligno’s resurgence: The Bruins positioned Foligno on waivers previous to the beginning of the season for cap functions. It has not affected him in any respect. The No. 4 left wing has three targets and 4 factors in 9 video games whereas averaging 12:30 per look. He had simply two targets in 64 video games all of final season and regarded like he may need hit the tip of the street. In retrospect, restricted offseason coaching, mixed with indirect, knee and head accidents, saved Foligno from performing to expectations. — Fluto Shinzawa

JJ Peterka’s seamless NHL adjustment: Peterka got here into the season with a variety of promise after an impressive season in Rochester, however his preseason was a bit uneven and expectations have been that he might have a while to regulate to the NHL sport. Instead, he hit the bottom operating, with 4 factors in Buffalo’s first six video games. He has adjusted effectively to the tempo of the sport and has been one of many Sabres’ most constant forwards. That’s he’s doing so this shortly is a pleasing shock. — Matthew Fairburn

Nazem Kadri not lacking a beat: There wasn’t a lot cause to doubt that Kadri would reach Calgary, a minimum of within the early years of the seven-year, $49 million contract he signed this offseason. But not many predicted he’d begin the season as one of many league’s hottest gamers. There’s the six-game factors streak, the three-point evening in opposition to the Penguins, the highlight-reel objective within the Battle of Alberta whereas enjoying in hostile territory — and he’s doing this whereas enjoying alongside Andrew Mangiapane and Dillon Dube on a line that’s presupposed to be second fiddle. It has been an ideal match to this point. — Julian McKenzie and Hailey Salvian

Carolina Hurricanes

Jalen Chatfield’s dominance: Like I stated earlier this week, I should have known better than to guess in opposition to Chatfield. Whether paired with Calvin de Haan or Dylan Coghlan, he has been dominant. Heading into Friday’s residence sport in opposition to the Islanders, the Hurricanes’ possession numbers with him on the ice have been simply shy of 70 %. His common of two.17 photographs per sport (13 in six video games) was increased than Cale Makar (who’s performed greater than 183 minutes to Chatfield’s below 77 and will get tons of energy play time), and at five-on-five, no defenseman within the league was getting extra photographs per 60 minutes than Chatfield’s 10.85. — Cory Lavalette

Getting one thing for nothing in Jason Dickinson: Dickinson was, primarily, acquired as a cap hit by the Blackhawks, who coaxed a second-round pick of the Canucks as a way to tackle his $2.65 million wage for this season and subsequent. But he has been a revelation, stepping in and posting a three-point sport in his Blackhawks debut, 5 factors in his first 4 video games and serving to remodel the penalty kill into an absolute wrecking crew, with 4 shorthanded targets already. Can he maintain this up? Unlikely. But he’s gotten again to the all-around play he confirmed in Dallas and misplaced in Vancouver and has been an ideal match for Luke Richardson’s aggressive forechecking type. — Mark Lazerus

Alexandar Georgiev’s quick adjustment: Each of Colorado’s previous two beginning goaltenders — Philipp Grubauer and Darcy Kuemper — had an adjustment interval when first acquired. Georgiev, this previous offseason’s commerce acquisition, has regarded comfy from the beginning, particularly in a 44-save effort in opposition to the Rangers, his former group, on Tuesday. He has saved extra targets than anticipated, based on Evolving-Hockey, and has a .921 save proportion in 5 begins. It’s an encouraging signal for the Avalanche, who traded for Georgiev regardless of him not having expertise as a full-time starter. — Peter Baugh

Cole Sillinger dropping his momentum: It’s too early to deem this a sophomore droop, however Sillinger’s second NHL season to this point has regarded nothing like his rookie season, when he scored 16 targets. Sillinger lastly earned his first level of the season (an help) in Tuesday’s 6-3 loss to Arizona, and he has simply 15 photographs on objective and 6 high-danger scoring probabilities within the Blue Jackets’ first 9 video games. With a greater begin, he could possibly be enjoying on the highest line between Johnny Gaudreau and Patrik Laine, however Boone Jenner (at season’s begin) and Jack Roslovic (as of Friday) have taken the spot. — Aaron Portzline

Ty Dellandrea’s versatility and influence: The Stars have a handful of candidates for this amongst their younger gamers, together with Nils Lundkvist and Wyatt Johnston. However, by expectations-to-impact ratio, Dellandrea grades out the very best. The Stars anticipated him to be a good depth ahead, however as an alternative he’s been a participant who has helped drive manufacturing of no matter line he’s on, whether or not he was the correct winger for the second line with Mason Marchment and Tyler Seguin that acquired off to a scorching begin or now serving to Johnston and Jamie Benn. As DeBoer stated of Dellandrea, “If we had two of him, we’d be alright.” Dellandrea has made a noticeable mark at even energy and has been one of many high penalty-killing weapons within the NHL. — Saad Yousuf

Dominik Kubalik’s resurgence: Just months after the Blackhawks opted to not make him a qualifying supply, Kubalik has opened the 2022-23 season on a tear. He had 10 factors in his first six video games, has already labored his manner onto the highest line and high power-play unit, and appears far more just like the participant who scored 30 targets as a rookie than the one who struggled final season. He gained’t keep this scorching all yr, however he appears to be like like a legit contributor on a cut price contract. — Max Bultman

Stuart Skinner’s .957 save proportion: Skinner had simply 14 NHL appearances to his title heading into the season. That’s not lots, particularly for the reason that Oilers are relying on him to make a minimum of 25 begins behind new No. 1 goalie Jack Campbell. Skinner has alleviated any considerations to this point. He was good in reduction of Campbell in 2 1/2 durations in opposition to the Flames and was the most important cause the Oilers secured a street win over the Blues. Overall, he has posted a .957 save proportion in three appearances this season. Sure, that’s unsustainably excessive, however the group has loved his early work. — Daniel Nugent-Bowman

Colin White, offensive dynamo: The Panthers signed White to a one-year, $1.2 average-annual-value deal after Ottawa purchased him out. Best-case state of affairs appeared to be that he’d rebound so as to add bottom-six defensive worth after a completely brutal finish to his time with the Sens. He’s been higher than that to this point, although, placing up seven factors in eight video games. More importantly, he’s meshing with Anton Lundell and displaying sufficient below the hood (63.6 % anticipated targets price) to recommend that he might stick with it. — Sean Gentille

Gabriel Vilardi’s scoring: Even if he not too long ago downplayed a query concerning the confidence he has now, the 23-year-old is enjoying with a ton of it after struggling to seek out sufficient consistency to stick with the Kings full-time beforehand. Vilardi leads L.A. with six targets and 10 factors whilst he has performed between the second and third strains. Coach Todd McLellan rewarded him Thursday with a third-period transfer to the highest line with Anze Kopitar and Adrian Kempe. It is probably not everlasting, but it surely’s an indication of how a lot Vilardi has grown in a short while. Freed of the heavy accountability of enjoying heart, the 6-foot-3 ahead is utilizing his measurement to hog the puck within the offensive finish and his gentle fingers to make performs and be a finisher on the internet. — Eric Stephens

The energy play’s turnaround: Special-teams play was an enormous a part of the Wild’s demise final season, notably the ability play after they wanted an enormous objective within the first spherical in opposition to the Blues. Fixing that was a focus this previous offseason, and right here we’re, seven video games in, and the Wild’s energy play is clicking at 31 %, good for third within the NHL. Mats Zuccarello leads the league with eight power-play factors, and Kirill Kaprizov has chipped in six. — Michael Russo

The emergence of Arber Xhekaj: Xhekaj, 21, was not drafted and didn’t play within the OHL in 2020-21, however he managed to get invited to Canadiens coaching camp and signed an entry-level contract by the tip of it within the fall of 2021. A yr later, the rugged defenseman earned a spot on the Canadiens’ blue line earlier than enjoying a single minute of professional hockey at any stage. Xhekaj is assured and fearless (he shook Zack Kassian like a ragdoll throughout a battle) and has superb mobility and fascinating offensive abilities. There is an opportunity he’s despatched right down to the AHL sooner or later, however he’s undoubtedly the speak of the city in Montreal. — Marc Antoine Godin

A moribund energy play: Granted, the Preds did get a much-needed objective with the person benefit in a much-needed win over St. Louis on Thursday, however that elevated their celebrated energy play to twenty eighth within the league (9.7 %). This after the identical group with the identical method completed sixth final season at a sturdy 24.4 %. Sometimes the puck simply doesn’t go in for a stretch, however the Preds’ first unit has been far too discombobulated. And that ties instantly right into a collective sluggish begin for this group’s high-priced gamers. — Joe Rexrode

How dominant they’ve been at five-on-five: Signs pointed to New Jersey being a superb group at even energy after they made progress in entrance of the online final season and made a couple of key additions over the summer season … however to not this diploma. After Friday’s 1-0 win over the defending champion Avalanche, the Devils lead the league with a pleasant 67.8 % expected-goals price, based on Evolving-Hockey, proof of their efforts on each ends of the ice. Adds like John Marino have solidified the again finish, whereas the foundational gamers are main the way in which up entrance. The outcomes ought to come so long as the saves are there, and the Devils might turn out to be a pressure if this retains up. — Shayna Goldman

New York Islanders

Lack of scoring from their facilities: We knew that the Islanders may need hassle scoring, however after Friday’s two-goal sport from heart Brock Nelson, they now have solely that many on the season from facilities. Nelson was the group’s main goal-scorer final season, with 37, and it was particularly regarding to see him not getting a ton of probabilities early. Mathew Barzal is extra of a playmaker than a goal-scorer, but it surely’s nonetheless shocking that he’s nonetheless on zero himself after signing a large extension. On a extra constructive notice, the Islanders have seven targets from defensemen of their first eight video games. But they’re going to wish extra from the blokes up entrance. Maybe Nelson’s two-goal evening can get the momentum going. — Kevin Kurz

New York Rangers

Igor Shesterkin being human: Last yr’s Vezina Trophy winner and Hart Trophy finalist is sporting a really peculiar .916 save proportion by 5 begins and made a puckhandling mistake that led to an Avalanche objective Tuesday. Now, .916 remains to be effectively above the league common to this point, however the Rangers’ offense has been sputtering, in order that they want Shesterkin to put on the cape once more. He hasn’t performed it but. — Arthur Staple

Shane Pinto’s goal-scoring: If you requested Senators followers earlier than the season to foretell the group’s main objective scorer close to the tip of October, you’ll in all probability have seen a variety of votes for Alex DeBrincat, Tim Stützle, Josh Norris, Brady Tkachuk, Drake Batherson — however no person was considering Pinto would emerge right into a dynamic goal-scorer this shortly. There was a lot emphasis on Ottawa’s newly improved high six that lots of people forgot about Pinto on the third line. But the rookie has made certain to remain within the highlight, with a scorching begin that has included a rookie franchise-record goal-scoring streak. Now, with Norris sidelined for an prolonged time frame, there’s a good probability Pinto can tackle a good larger function. His shocking begin has definitely lifted him into the early Calder Trophy dialog. — Ian Mendes

Philadelphia Flyers

Their 5-2-0 file: I don’t assume anybody anticipated the Flyers to win 5 out of their first seven video games, particularly provided that high gamers Sean Couturier and Cam Atkinson have mixed for zero video games performed. Is it sustainable? Probably not. The Flyers rank close to the underside of each five-on-five superior metric and have been carried by Carter Hart’s sterling play (.947 save proportion, undefeated in 5 begins). But whatever the course of, it’s nonetheless a shock to have a look at the Metropolitan Division standings with October coming to a detailed and see the Flyers on the high. — Charlie O’Connor

Pittsburgh Penguins

Danton Heinen’s showcase: Danton Heinen scored 18 targets final season, so it’s not a shock he’s potted three already in 2022-23. But how he’s gone about it’s a nice growth for the Penguins. Heinen has supplanted an injured Jake Guentzel on the highest line and has not regarded misplaced. He’s gained pack battles together with his talent and has taken benefit of alternatives created by Sidney Crosby. The Penguins could be in hassle with out him. — Rob Rossi

Nico Sturm and Evgeny Svechnikov incomes larger roles: Sturm was a comparatively under-the-radar free-agent addition, and Svechnikov got here aboard simply earlier than coaching camp began. They started the yr collectively on the fourth line however have been promoted to third-unit obligation largely as a result of they’ve been the simplest offensive duo on the membership. Sturm is tied for the group lead with 4 targets, whereas Svechnikov has two targets and 4 factors. The solely ahead on the group with extra factors is Logan Couture after his three-point evening in opposition to Toronto. — Corey Masisak

How effectively they’re scoring by committee: Obviously the Kraken wanted saves final yr, however scoring help was lacking as effectively. That’s what administration sought to repair over the summer season with additions like Andre Burakovsky and Oliver Bjorkstrand, together with an infusion of youth in Matty Beniers full-time and Shane Wright seeing his first motion. Still, even with these modifications, the star-power issue was lacking. But to this point, Seattle’s offense has been higher than the sum of its elements. A number of days again, @NHLtoSeattle measured that the Kraken lead the league in distinctive goalscorers, and that’s been key to their begin. — Shayna Goldman

St. Louis Blues

Jordan Kyrou’s sluggish begin: The Blues had sufficient confidence in Jordan Kyrou’s future that they signed him to an eight-year, $65 million contract in September. As they might be with any younger participant, the Blues are targeted on the large image with the 24-year-old and that appears brilliant based mostly on his 27-goal, 75-point season in 2021-22. That stated, Kyrou’s sluggish begin this yr needs to be regarding. Through six video games, he has only one level — a objective in Game 2. Through six video games final yr, he had two targets and 9 factors. — Jeremy Rutherford

Tampa Bay Lightning

Nick Perbix filling a necessity on protection: The Lightning blue line entered the season in flux after the commerce of Ryan McDonagh, departure of Jan Rutta and harm to Zach Bogosian. It meant a urgent want for replacements. We didn’t assume one among them could be Nick Perbix, a 2017 sixth-rounder who has regarded robust in simply his first handful of NHL video games. There’s been a dropoff in Tampa Bay’s penalty kill and protection general, but it surely’s encouraging Perbix is displaying he’s an choice on the correct facet. — Joe Smith

Toronto Maple Leafs

Ilya Samsonov’s strong begin: The largest shock, typically, is the team-wide scuffling out of the gate. The most nice shock, then again, needs to be Samsonov. He has gained 4 of his first 5 begins and posted a .932 save proportion. His play has been all of the extra necessary with Matt Murray sidelined by harm. Can Samsonov stick with it? That’s the large query. — Jonas Siegel

Vancouver Canucks

Blown third-period leads: Vancouver set an NHL file by opening the season with blown multiple-goal leads in 4 consecutive losses. At a micro stage, the penalty kill has been a catastrophe. J.T. Miller’s five-on-five influence each defensively and offensively has been sorely missing, and Thatcher Demko hasn’t regarded like his often sturdy self. — Harman Dayal

The strong goaltending with out Robin Lehner: On the shoulders of Logan Thompson and Adin Hill, the Golden Knights have the NHL’s second-highest group save proportion at .940. There have been main query marks within the crease for Vegas this season after Lehner underwent double hip surgical procedure, however these two unproven netminders have risen to the event so far, with Thompson’s 29-save shutout Friday the most recent showcase. The Golden Knights’ group protection deserves a ton of credit score, too, retaining groups to the surface and making the goalie’s lives simpler, however Thompson and Hill have made key saves in huge moments and have but to permit a single gentle objective. — Jesse Granger

Backup goalie Charlie Lindgren’s robust play: A full-time NHLer for the primary time, Lindgren has shined in each of his begins together with his new group: a 36-save defeat in Toronto and a 38-save victory in New Jersey. He boasts a .925 save proportion and, per Sportlogiq’s analytics, has saved 0.67 targets above anticipated. Lindgren has additionally endeared himself to the room and workers together with his effervescent character and tireless observe habits. Although he’s not anticipated to problem undisputed No. 1 Darcy Kuemper and two begins is a small pattern measurement, the Caps have each cause to really feel assured about their resolution to ink the 28-year-old to a three-year, $3.3 million contract this summer season. — Tarik El-Bashir

Winnipeg Jets

Kyle Connor being eighth in group scoring: Connor is coming off a 47-goal, 93-point season that set Winnipeg Jets 2.0 data, and he stays a top-line pressure who troubles goaltenders each time he shoots. This season, he leads the Jets in photographs and anticipated targets and has been skating in addition to ever. Yet he has only one objective and 4 factors within the first eight video games, touchdown him eighth in group scoring. It’s too early to sound the alarm, but it surely’s all types of unusual to have a look at the Jets scoring leaders and see Connor behind seven gamers, together with two defencemen and shutdown heart Adam Lowry. — Murat Ates

(Top picture of Ilya Samsonov: John E. Sokolowski / USA Today)

Source link