A Mixed Bag of Early NHL Observations

With all of the young talent and new rules the NHL certainly isn’t hurting for goals in the early going. There have been 6-5 games, four goal games, so now if you’re a young player offense is nice, but if you can’t play defense or win face-offs you won’t be able to make it.

Sean Couturier (18, 6-3, 197) is a 2011 first-rounder who the Flyers are giving a long hard look before they have to decide if he should go back to juniors or not. As I pointed out earlier in the preseason this guy can play defense, we know he has great offensive ability and terrific vision but winning face-offs would keep him up for sure. Against Boston he was 40% and against New Jersey he was just over 35%. Not getting any points isn’t an issue and his +1 is a good sign, winning draws might be the key to him staying. So far, pretty good.

#1 overall pick in 2011, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, another center, already potted his first NHL goal, and he was a +1, but his face-off percentage was just over 13%, pretty bad, now his team might let him learn on the job because they don’t have high playoff hopes, but if they were a team in contention, or if they feel like at some point they are, that could change in the next 8 games.

Ryan Murphy, Carolina’s first round pick in this past draft is an interesting case. He hasn’t played in a game so far yet his team is looking for defense, they gave up four goals on defense, and only scored two on offense. Murphy is a power-play specialist, the team is 14.3% on the power play (and have only scored six goals) after three games, and I don’t think the youngster kills them on “D” so what gives? Something tells me he’s going to have to get a look very soon.

The Islanders Three-Headed Goalie?
So far the New York Islanders are 1-1 on the season. Evgeni Nabokov hasn’t played a game yet, and neither has Rick DiPietro, so far Al Montoya has gotten both starts and he’s expected to get the third . Considering the Islanders are paying DiPietro for the next ten years, this is a gutsy move. Couple the fact that if Nabokov doesn’t play, he won’t have great trade value, head coach Jack Capuano is playing it day-by-day and so far the fans are loving it, it’s something worth watching for sure. So far there’s no controversy but you have to believe it’s coming.

Some NHL Markets To Watch
The Dallas Stars who have a fanbase that isn’t totally happy with the direction the team has taken may be speaking with their wallets. So far after two home games their average attendance is 10,795 (58.3% of occupancy). Now in one of those games they were in competition with the Texas Rangers, or were they? I really don’t think that was the issue.

The Columbus Blue Jackets acquired Jeff Carter, “The Wiz” and they not only hoped to be a playoff team but they were probably hoping for a boost at the turnstiles. Well through two home games they are averaging just 9,123 (50.3 % of occupancy).