Christmas Recap of 2022-23 NHL Season
Happy Holidays! We will review the most important storylines of the season.
Recently, Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals scored two goals against the Winnipeg Jets, to score 802 goals in his career. In the process, Ovechkin both tied and surpassed legend Gordie Howe in scoring the second-most goals all time in NHL History, only 92 goals behind Wayne Gretzky. Such a record is attainable if the aging Ovechkin keeps scoring close to his normal pace: a mind boggling 50 goals a season for the rest of this season and two more. Congrats on an amazing career!
Surprising player performances
Although scoring overall has gone up this year (highest in 30 years), the numbers Connor McDavid is putting up is astounding. 66 points and 30 goals in only 35 games, come on now. I'm sorry, the league is too easy for you.
While the Oilers boys (McDavid and Draisital) lead the league in scoring once again, third place in scoring and second place in goals is emerging star Buffalo Sabres player named Tage Thompson.
Also worth noting, third year playerJason Robertson is having a heck of a season, with 24 goals and 50 points in 35 games.
Erik Karlsson from the San Jose Sharks returned from the dead to become the best defenseman in hockey once again when everybody in hockey believed his prime was far away in the rearview mirror. He leads all defenseman with 46 points in 35 games, and might be the the first defenseman in a long time to score 100 points in a season.
Come on Auston Matthews, you are the most talented goal-scorer in the planet and scored 60 last year, yet you are tied in 18th place in goals scored this year. But it's only a matter of time until the goals come in bunches.
The blockbuster trade with the Florida Panthers and the Calgary Flames has brought out the worst in both squads. And both star players in the deal as well (Matthew Thachuk and Johnny Gaudreau)
Patrick Kane has been very underwhelming, but this might just be because he's playing on the worst team in the league. He's still a top 20 player.
Squads surpassing expectations- Boston Bruins
Numerous analysts were ready to write off the Boston Bruins as an aging squad in an extremely competitive division/conference that lost in another first round series last year, especially when news of star Brad Marchand's major injury arrived in the offseason.
Several months later, the Boston Bruins now sit in first place in the entire league. Marchand ended up only missing a couple weeks to open the season, new goalie Linus Ullmark has been fantastic, and the team has gelled on the ice.
I still don't think this is a championship team, but this squad won't be easy to beat come playoff time.
Squads surpassing expectations- New Jersey Devils
The last time this team made it to the playoffs, Boston's current third line left winger Taylor Hall played for the Devils and was the MVP! But that team barely made the playoffs and got easily bounced in the first round. The last time the Devils made the playoffs before that was 10 years ago.
As the New Jersey Devils consistently sit in 7th or 8th place in divisions year after year after year, expectations were understandably low. But this young squad led by Jack Hughes randomly gelled this year, sitting at 2nd place in the Metro.
Such a high place in the standings might not last forever. The Devils are 3-6-1 in their last 10 games, while the Penguins, Rangers, and Capitals, chasing the Devils in the standings, have all won at least 8 games in the last 10. We shall see what happens.
Squads surpassing expectations- Vegas Golden Knights
The Vegas Golden Knights are right back where they belong. At the top of the Pacific Division. Many watched the Knights inexplicably struggle last year, roasted the franchise for seemingly being unloyal to their players after they traded Max Pacioretty for nothing but salary cap space, and grew pessimistic after the Knights lost starting goalie Robin Lehner for the season.
But none of that mattered; the Knights were clearly the best hockey team in the division and with the help of new starting goalie Logan Thompson, this team has already ran away with the division. We shall see about the Stanley Cup.
Squads surpassing expectations- Seattle Kraken
Congrats Kraken, after an underwhelming expansion season, your team currently sits at a playoff spot. But the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers should surpass the Seattle Kraken for a playoff spot, it's probably only a matter of when.
Squads not meeting expectations
Last year, the Florida Panthers somehow had the best record in the entire NHL last year, but was swept out of the second round. This year, the Florida Panthers are currently sitting below a .500 record and out of the playoffs. Get it together!
There was some optimism when the Columbus Blue Jackets signed star free agent "Johnny Hockey". But the Jackets have still struggled as a whole team.
You can say the same exact thing about the Ottawa Senators and new players such as Alex DeBrincat and Claude Giroux.