October 14, 2011
Trending Topics is a column that looks at the week in hockey according to Twitter. If you're only going to comment to say how stupid Twitter is, why not just go have a good cry for the slow, sad death of your dear internet instead?
So far in this admittedly very new season, the NHL has broken more or less how people expected.
Teams are, for the most part, right where everyone thought they would be. Yeah, Toronto's off to a better start than people predicted, and this is probably the best playoff position the Oilers will find themselves in all year. But there are two teams, both projected to have great seasons, whose starts are more notable for their general badness.
Anyone that's watched any of the games for the two Stanley Cup finalists for last year have probably noticed that neither team has looked especially strong to start the season. Vancouver is 1-2-1, and the only win came against a Blue Jackets team that's stumbled horrifically out of the gate. And while the quality of their opponents otherwise has been solid (Pittsburgh at home, Philadelphia and Detroit on the road), their performances have not. They allowed 11 goals in their first four games, and scored 10.
The Sedins may have five points each, but no one else has been especially impressive in attack.
Speaking of unimpressive in attack, the reigning Stanley Cup champions (1-3) have a whopping seven goals scored in four games, few of which were against opponents that should have been especially difficult to dispatch.
In their two most recent games, the Bruins scored just two goals. Against the Hurricanes and Avalanche. And in the Avs game, they played such a poor offensive game that they should have had a goal taken away from their season total.
In fact, their seven goals scored are buoyed more than a little bit by their 4-1 win over an incredibly porous Tampa Bay, after a meek post-banner raising opener against the Flyers.
Three of their games, by the way, were at home.
For some reason, people are actually wondering about why the reigning Eastern and Western Conference champions might be ailing so badly.
Gee whiz you guys whatever could it be?
Some might argue that teams are now getting up for games against the best two teams in the league from last year in ways they wouldn't have before. When you're the best, guys put a target on your back and all that stuff.
Maybe it's true, but there's probably a more reasonable answer.
Others, not content with being simplistic and turning to outright reductionism, you might be able to get away with calling it "Stanley Cup Hangover." It's hard to get back to the grind of a regular season when you won the Cup and President's Trophy, respectively.
And while there's a kernel of truth to that, it's not simply champ fat.
After all, the Bruins and Canucks played 107 games each last season. Not only is that a considerable and unenviable run for any team to go through, but while they were grinding out a seven-game Stanley Cup Finals, every other hockey player on the planet was getting surgeries, rehabbing nagging injuries, or just recuperating from having 200-pound men trying to knock them down for at least 82 nights over the course of seven months or so.
This is particularly true for both teams because neither had much turnover in the offseason. The Bruins picked up, what? Three new players? The Canucks added about as many?
For Vancouver, Ryan Kesler(notes) and Mason Raymond(notes), two players who had impacts of varying degrees last season (the former obviously slightly more than the latter) are out with injuries and will be for a little while longer; and you can't just replace either of them with a minor-league callup or through a waiver acquisition.
But the good news for fans of both teams is that the league hasn't really changed that much. As we get deeper into the season, the things that made these teams two of the very best in the NHL last season will once again become apparent — again, neither suffered much roster turnover — and the points will start piling up like they did before.
It's probably just take them a little longer to get up to full speed than the teams who got the spring off.
Pearls of Biz-dom
BizNasty on solving Dan Ellis problems:
"We get our escrow check from last year in a week. Let's just say I'll be putting some people through college real soon."
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