NHL: Big Teams Struggling Out of the Gate
Before the start of the NHL season there is always speculations about what teams will jump out of the gate and claim their respective divisions. This year has been different from past years, because several of the teams that were expected to be excellent, have started the year looking dreadful. Below we take a look at some of those clubs.
They are the biggest surprise to me out of the gate because this is a club that was expected to compete for the Stanley Cup but so far they have only managed six goals in eight games. The big stars (Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, and Ryan Kesler) haven’t been able to get anything going; and new additions like Chris Stewart and Carl Hagelin have struggled to make their presence felt.
At some point you have to think that this team will start to produce, but right now they are digging themselves into a deep hole. If they don’t break this slump soon look for them to fire Head Coach Bruce Boudreau.
Columbus Blue Jackets
The Blue Jackets finished last season strong and made a big splash over the Summer by landing Brandon Saad from the Chicago Blackhawks. With the abundance of hard-nosed forwards and good goaltending, the Jackets were expected to push for one of the top spots in the Metropolitan Division, but to this point they sit at one win, and one of the main issues has been in net.
They have already fired Todd Richards and brought in John Tortorella to try to right the ship, so we’ll see what happens going forward; still, this team has a long way to go to get back into it.
The Flames surprised everyone last season when they made the post-season despite being in the middle of a rebuild, so when they went out and traded for Dougie Hamilton and added Michael Frolik expectations shot up. Out of the gate the Flames haven’t gotten any goaltending. Karri Ramo was placed on waivers and sent to the AHL, and Jonas Hiller currently sports a 3.52 Goals Against Average and an .872 Save Percentage. Last year the Flames played better than most expected, so perhaps its time for them to take a step back, and remember that the goal was to rebuild this club.
The Penguins made the biggest splash of the off-season when they landed star winger Phil Kessel from the Toronto Maple Leafs, but after eight games the Pens have been unimpressive, hovering at .500. Now they haven’t been as disappointing as the Ducks, but after all the talk of Kessel, Crosby, and Malkin, I think it’s fair that I’m unimpressed. It turns out that the way to beat them is to make them play defense, which the team decided didn’t matter this off-season when they added a glut of forwards.
Remember folks, the season is young and all of these clubs can get it together, but if they wait too long they will be in serious trouble.