The Arizona Coyotes came into this season with a young roster augmented by a few veterans in key places. Was this going to be a playoff year in the desert? No, probably not, but it was supposed to be a year where real progress was shown and the future would become visible. Through the first two and a half weeks of play, it’s been nothing but a nightmare in Arizona.
The Coyotes are still winless, and for all intents and purposes this is a team that is basically out of the playoff picture already. It’s actually quite impressive that Arizona played its way out of things so early, but it also brings back horrible memories for this Edmonton Oilers observer.
The Yotes have some serious young talent on their roster and in the system, but their lack of depth and goaltending has sunk them early. If they want to avoid being the Oilers of earlier this decade, then they need to shore up the backend of this group. It’s likely too late for this season, but for the future they need to take care of the defense.
The growing pains in Arizona were expected though, although not to this level. What wasn’t expected? The fact that the Edmonton Oilers would be right there with them. Many people, myself included, bought into the hype with the Oilers and had them competing for the Stanley Cup this season.
Last week I wrote about how the Oilers were this year’s version of the Dallas Stars, an alarming comparison that has continued to look right thus far. Edmonton looks slow, makes killers mistakes, can’t score and appears weak defensively. This team has fatal flaws, flaws that were blatantly ignored by their General Manager.
If this continues and the Oilers fall out of the playoff picture by American Thanksgiving, Peter Chiarelli should be on the hotseat. The General Manager made the Oilers a worse team this off-season and did nothing to help reigning MVP Connor McDavid. That, folks, is completely unacceptable.
Obviously it is early, but if the Oilers can’t turn this around then someone should pay for it with their job, specifically Chiarelli. Missing the playoffs with McDavid after last season is flat out unacceptable.
All The Kings Men:
The Los Angeles Kings are the only team in the NHL that has yet to lose in regulation, and boy do they look back. Jonathan Quick has turned the clock back to 2012, Anze Kopitar looks like his old self again, the Kings are still terrific defensively, and now they are finding ways to score goals.
The loss of Jeff Carter for what looks to be a lengthy period of time will hurt, but LA has built a large enough cushion that they should be okay standings wise. This team is good, and they look extra motivated after last year’s playoff miss. It’s early and I’m not saying the Kings are making the playoffs this spring, but they are very much back.
Impressive, Most Impressive:
The Vancouver Canucks had a strong start to the season last year before falling off the cliff and finishing in the basement. That very well may be the case again this year, but I’ve been impressed with Vancouver’s nice start to the season. I was especially impressed by the way they responded in Buffalo on Friday night, coming from behind to beat the Sabres one night after getting blown out in Boston.
Travis Green has done a good job managing this roster early on, while the young kids in Vancouver’s lineup have adjusted quite nicely to the NHL. I don’t think Vancouver is a playoff team by any means, there is finally some hope with this hockey club for the future.
The Rest Of The Pacific:
– Calgary has cooled down lately, and some inconsistencies have crept into their game. If anything will sink this hockey team this year, it will be their third defensive pairing. Matt Bartkowski and Michael Stone, who seem to have the coach’s trust, have been a ghastly duo so far, getting caved possession wise and looking equally as poor to the eye. It won’t keep the Flames from the playoffs, but it will certainly hamper them once in the dance, just as it did this past week.
– Who would have thought that an east coast trip would be exactly what the doctor ordered for the San Jose Sharks? After a dominating win in New Jersey, the Sharks traveled a few miles north on Saturday to battle the Islanders. While they lost that game, the San Jose offense looked solid once again as Logan Couture scored his first hat-trick of the season. If the offense is truly back for San Jose, they’ll start winning games at will again here pretty soon.
– It’s looking more and more like a M*A*S*H* unit in Anahiem by the day. The Ducks has struggled without top defender Hampus Lindholm, and now they may have to make it work without Cam Fowler, who was hurt against the Montreal Canadiens earlier this week. The Ducks are struggling with so many injuries to their lineup right now, but have done just enough to stay afloat. Once guys start returning, I suspect this team goes on its usual tear.
– Okay, when is the clock gonna strike midnight in Sin City? The Vegas Golden Knights won again on Saturday, topping the St. Louis Blues in overtime. The Knights are firmly entrenched in a top three spot in the division right now and show no signs of slowing down. What might hurt them? With Marc-Andre Fleury already on the mend, Malcolm Subban suffered an injury that forced him from the game on Saturday.
Photo Credit: Flickr user mark6mauno C.C. 2.0