(Image via sportingnews.com)
Staff Writer: Tom Dunford
With the 2023-2024 NHL season officially underway, there tends to be a lot of overreactions within the first couple of games. With one week under our belt, it’s time we gauge the four biggest storylines and overreactions this new season offers us.
Just remember that this is the start of the season, so plenty of things will come to fruition in the upcoming weeks, so don’t take these takes too literally.
Winnipeg’s Grim Future
Just a day before the season kicked off, the Winnipeg Jets locked up both thirty-year-olds Mark Scheifele and Connor Hellebuyck to identical seven-year, 59.5 million dollar deals. This put ease to Jets fans concerned with the franchise’s future, but to say these deals don’t look grim has been an understatement through two games.
Connor Hellebuyck has posted an abysmal goals-against average of 4.07 and goals saved above expected of -1.5. The Jets need Hellebuyck to start playing like the future hall of famer fans know him to be fast, or this team could start losing control of the season.
The team sits at 1-1-0, but they know they must win early to beat the juggernaut teams in a stacked Western Conference.
Mark Scheifele has played up to standard so far, scoring three points in two games, but the team will need more from these two superstars moving forward if they want to truly contend.
Paging Buffalo and Seattle…The Season Started
Two teams with many expectations coming into this season were the Buffalo Sabres and Seattle Kraken.
Seattle had an incredible jump in the 2022-2023 season, finishing with a record of 46-28-8 and losing to the eventual Stanley Cup champions in the Vegas Golden Knights.
The Buffalo Sabres locked up their core long-term, and with rookie goaltender Devon Levi officially handed over the keys to the team, they were a dark horse to make noise.
With that said, both teams have struggled immensely.
Buffalo currently sits at 0-2-0, with Levi struggling in goal so far. Their star talents, such as Tage Thompson and Rasmus Dahlin, have also gone quiet, as both have struggled to register a single goal, with Dahlin maintaining one assist.
Seattle sits at 0-2-1 and has lost their secret weapon in Brandon Tanev for 4-6 weeks due to a lower body. Both these teams need to gain momentum and cannot afford to fall short early.
Auston (Matthews) Powers
The Toronto Maple Leafs have had an interesting start to their season, to say the least.
Goaltender Illya Samsonov has struggled immensely, and the team defensively has been caught standing around while teams skate circles around them. But never fear, their star forward, Auston Matthews, is here, and he is in the process of making history.
Matthews has scored back-to-back hat tricks to kickstart the season and is on a mission to prove why he was worth the highest-paid contract the NHL had ever seen, and so far, he has done just that. With his talent and IQ in the game, there is no telling what Matthews could do this season.
The team will look to him this season as head coach Sheldon Keefe is on thin ice heading into the 2023-2024 NHL season.
Edmonton’s Oil Leak
The Edmonton Oilers have played two games, both against the Vancouver Canucks. In those two games, they have scored 4 goals and allowed a whopping 12.
The Oilers have an insatiable oil leak, and it’s in the defensive structure and goaltending, a problem that has followed this team for a long time now.
Both Stuart Skinner and Jack Campbell have played unfathomably poorly, which is necessary in a league like the NHL.
Skinner boasted a -4.7 goals saved above expected after relieving a struggling Campbell in the season opener. The team lost its best two-way defenseman in Mattias Ekholm for the first two games but is looking forward to bringing back the 6’4, 215-pound monster to protect the cage for the rest of the season.