Spencer Lussier

For a new weekly segment, I will be discussing a player that has surprised me over the past week, a trend to keep an eye out for in the coming weeks, a surprise from the past week in the NHL and finally an article that caught my eye during that week.

Since it is the first one, I decided to kick it off by doing a mid-season reaction:

At the half way point of the NHL season there have been so many surprises and disappointments. Whether it is a new player flourishing into one of the game’s best or a team with Stanley Cup Finals aspirations falling flat on their faces, this NHL season so far has been quite interesting.

The Player:

Nathan MacKinnon has put the NHL and their fans on notice demanding for attention. The former first overall selection has seemed to get the Avalanche back on track after a rough couple of seasons. You would think trading away a player of Matt Duchene’s caliber would make a struggling team worse, instead MacKinnon has completely taken over. Since Duchene’s departure MacKinnon has scored 38 points in 27 games, leading the Avalanche into playoff contention. The 22-year-old is second in league scoring with 52, which is one less than what he had all season a year ago. His play has even landed him into the Hart Trophy conversation.

The Trend:

One trend that has really bothered me has been this bogus offside replay. So far in the NHL there have been 143 coach’s challenges, 33 of them being for an offside call. 13 times they have been upheld, but 20 have been overturned to a “no goal”. Most of the time the call doesn’t have a directed impact to the game which is frustrating to teams losing out on a chance to win games. We saw Connor McDavid voice his displeasure when the Oilers were on the wrong end of a reversed call that would have tied the game. I think the replays take too long to begin with and the NHL are being counterproductive in their effort to generate more scoring.

The Surprise:

I mean it has to be the Vegas Golden Knights right. There has never been an expansion team that has succeed so quick after their birth. Vegas is the second-best team in the league with a 29-10-2 record, helped by their sparkling 18-2-1 record at home. Wonder why? Plans have quickly shifted from being a team that will need a couple years to gain their feet in this league to Cup Contenders. Even the NHL counted them out, making it fair for the new team to have lottery picks. Imagine the Vegas Golden Knights winning the Stanley Cup while also taking a top five draft pick…

The Read:

I guess it is hard to pin point one thing that was head and shoulders better than the rest from the first half of the season, but the most news worthy storyline so far was the Erik Karlsson and Drew Doughty comments about their upcoming contract situation. I found this shocking that two of the league’s best came forward in the middle of the season and said when we are up for a pay raise we are getting what we deserve. Essentially, they won’t be taking a pay cut to return to their respective clubs. Now that should be no issue for a franchise like Los Angeles, but a team like Ottawa in a smaller market may struggle to be able to keep Karlsson. Now that these comments are out there, it has put these superstars potentially into trade conversations.