NHL Recap: Week 1

Story posted October 17, 2021 in

The middle of October is upon us, and that means the NHL season is back. Thirty-three games have been played heading into Sunday’s single-game slate.

The opening days of the season have not disappointed. These are the top storylines following the inaugural chapter of the 2021-22 campaign.

Seattle is a viable team

That header may not come as a shock to all; however, the Kraken have played a solid first three games, spotting a 1-1-1 record. After the magnitude of success the Vegas Golden Knights had when they entered the league, the expectations were sky-high for the newest Pacific team.

The Kraken have not lost a game by more than one goal. Assembling a new roster from a mixture of players from across the entire league, the chemistry from Seattle has been impressive to this point.

Seattle will not play its first home game until Saturday, Oct. 23, against the nearest team, geographical-wise, to Climate Pledge Arena: the Vancouver Canucks. Improvements can set up the Kraken for a potential playoff push, but let’s enjoy the 82-game regular season first.

Hat trick heroes

Scoring has been prevalent out of the gate this year. Four players have tallied a hat trick already in the young season. Detroit’s Tyler Bertuzzi, the Kings’ Anze Kopitar, Florida’s Sam Bennett, and the elusive Connor McDavid of Edmonton are responsible for the trio of lamplighters in 60 minutes.

The record of the teams in those games when the hat tricks were attributed is 3-0-1. The overtime loss resides with Bertuzzi’s Red Wings in a falter to the reigning champion Lightning. That game witnessed Bertuzzi score four goals. He’s the only player with at least four goals in a game this season.

The beginning of the season typically exemplifies offensive explosions. Fans of offense enjoy the spectacular display of goalscoring because defenses will eventually get acquainted.

Pittsburgh’s future is in good hands

Without the likes of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, the Penguins have looked sharp. Pittsburgh thrashed Tampa Bay in the spotlighted opener, followed by an overtime loss to the Florida Panthers two nights later.

Add in a solid 5-2 victory over the Blackhawks, and this team looks legit. Newly acquired Danton Heinen has three goals to lead the Pens early on in that department. Fifteen goals in three games as a team is not too shabby as well.

The uncertainty of the Penguins’ future looks more appealing with this small sample size to start the season. Pittsburgh continues its eight-game homestand at PPG Paints Arena on Tuesday versus the Dallas Stars.

Watch out for the… Sabres?

Now, this is nitpicking, yet the Buffalo Sabres are 2-0-0 and started the season with a dominant 5-1 win over Stanley Cup runner-up Montreal. The Sabres are receiving contributions from all over the lineup. Twelve different skaters have made the scoresheet.

Buffalo is searching for competency in the defending zone. So far, the Sabres are a perfect 6-for-6 on the penalty kill, and they have found their new No. 1 netminder of the future in Dustin Tokarski.

Don’t blow this out of proportion and think the Sabres will win the Atlantic Division. A smooth start is typical for Buffalo over the previous seasons. There are 80 games to go, and the high-caliber talent is slim to none on this team.

Evan Popalis is a third-year studying broadcast journalism. To contact him, email epopalis83@gmail.com.

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Evan Popalis

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Evan Popalis is a third-year from Lititz, Pennsylvania, majoring in broadcast journalism. He is a writer, analyst, and play-by-play commentator for the CommRadio sports department. His writings include weekly NHL betting previews along with power rankings for the NHL and NFL. He appears weekly on the NHL Podcast as a host and analyst reviewing the previous week’s action. If you would like to contact him, email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).