Inside The Box is Puck Prose’s brand new daily bulletin, covering all the latest news in the NHL and highlighting the content you need in your lives.
We are just a few days into the 2020-21 NHL season and already we’ve been treated to a plethora of goals, storylines and talking points and there will only be more to come over the coming weeks and months.
More from Puck Prose
- Detroit Red Wings 2023 Rookie Camp Has Plenty of Ups and Downs
- This Columbus Blue Jackets rookie doesn’t want to be forgotten
- 2 trades the Boston Bruins must make to secure the Stanley Cup
- 3 reasons the Avalanche won’t win the Stanley Cup in 2024
- This is a big year for Alex Turcotte and the Los Angeles Kings
The action has come thick and fast so far with a sprint of a 56-game shortened season starting on Wednesday night. There have been 20 games so far – not counting Saturday’s slate – and a whole lot of goals and elite plays to keep us all entertained.
After what felt like an eternity without hockey in our lives, it certainly feels good to have it back and Twitter is a much better place to be now the NHL is in full swing. However, it is only natural to get over-excited about certain things after the league was gone for so long so, with that in mind, we are going to take a look at some of the biggest overreactions in the NHL right now before trying to work out if they are legit or not.
The NHL’s Biggest Overreactions so far
Steven Stamkos is well and truly back
The Tampa Bay Lightning have played two games so far and their Captain Steven Stamkos has been at the heart of both of their wins. He recorded a three-point night (1 G, 2 A) in Tampa’s Opening Night win against the Chicago Blackhawks, including showcasing his trademark one-timer, while he had a goal and an assist as the Lightning beat the Hawks again on Friday night.
Is Steven Stamkos well and truly back? He looked good all Training Camp after undergoing a second successful core surgery, and his start to the 2020-21 season has been nothing short of impressive. He looks peak Steven Stamkos and, while just a two-game sample size, we all know the forward is one of the elite offensive threats in the NHL when healthy. So, if Stamkos can indeed stay on the ice this year, then we are buying the Tampa Bay Lightning Captain being well and truly back.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are not a Playoff team
There were signciant doubts over this Pittsburgh Penguins team heading into the 2020-21 NHL season and, two games in, those doubts look good value for money right now. Again, it is a two-game sample size but the Penguins looked off in both of their losses to rivals the Philadelphia Flyers to open the year.
They looked flat in the Season Opener, a game they dropped 6-3, and they didn’t look any better on Friday in a 5-2 loss to the Flyers. Okay, so a short Training Camp is hardly ideal preparation but Philadelphia was in the same boat and they looked superb and ready to go in both games.
It has been abundantly clear for a few seasons now that the Penguins need to blow up their blueline unit but, instead, they have now sent two Stanley Cup Champions packing in Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray rather than address the actual problem. Secondary scoring is also a real concern and, while they will always have a chance with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on the team, this could be the year that the Pittsburgh Penguins miss the postseason due to the fact that they are stuck in a loaded East Division.
Connor McDavid & Leon Draisaitl to both record 100 points in 56 games
Can Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl both record over 100 points in a shortened 56-game season? It may seem mad and a lot will have to go right for it to happen but, based on early evidence, you shouldn’t be too quick to rule it out and crazier things have happened (especially in the last year).
For starters, McDavid is just a special, special talent and Draisaitl is an elite player in his own right, and both will be hugely-important players for the Edmonton Oilers in 2020-21. I mean, we’ve seen in two games just how locked and loaded that formidable duo already are. Draisaitl is atop the NHL leaderboard with five points (0G, 5 A) while McDavid has four (3 G, 1 A), including a ridiculous goal that we will be talking about all year.
The scary thing is that both players are only just reaching the peak of their powers, so the best is yet to come. However, while I think Draisaitl will have another monster year after putting up 110 points (43 G, 67 A) in 2019-20 on his way to winning the Art Ross Trophy, the Hart Memorial Trophy and the Ted Lindsay Award, I don’t think he will record 100 points in 56 games, although he could get close.
McDavid, on the other hand, is a generational talent and arguably the best player on the planet, while he seems a hell of a lot quicker this year which just doesn’t seem possible. He was also well-rested in the offseason which hasn’t always been the case and, desperate to finally enjoy some postseason success, I can see Connor McDavid carrying this team on his back and surpassing 100 points in 56 games, but he will be the only one to do it in the NHL.
Kirill Kaprizov to run away with the Calder Trophy
All the hype was worth it after Kirill Kaprizov completey exploded onto the NHL scene on Thursday, recording three points (1 G, 2 A) including the game-winner in Overtime as the Minnesota Wild beat the LA Kings in their season opener.
Kaprizov is the kind of elite game-changer that Wild fans have craved for quite some time, and he delivered a real dynamic performance in his first game on the big stage that only bodes well for the future. He boasts high-level skill and the kind of vision that can just blow a game wide open, and he’s going to be a real special player for Minnesota both this season and for the foreseeable future.
However, as good as he may be, there is no way Kirill Kaprizov is going to run away with the Calder Trophy, and that’s no disrespect to the Russian, it is because he’s going to have a lot of competition. Alexander Romanov looked very, very good in his NHL debut for the Montreal Canadiens, Alexis Lafreniere endured a shaky debut for the New York Rangers but that is just a temporary blip, Nils Hoglander looks a real talent for the Vancouver Canucks, Tim Stuetzle is going to be something special to watch this year and we still have to see the likes of Ilya Sorokin and Quinton Byfield unleashed on the NHL yet.
Petr Mrazek to win the Vezina Trophy
Okay, so this is just a fun one and not an actual serious thought. I mean, as good as Petr Mrazek was in the Carolina Hurricanes’ 3-0 shutout of the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday, stopping all 14 shots he faced, there’s two things to remember here. One, Mrazek was going up against the Red Wings who, while they may be better this year, will still be one of the worst teams in the NHL and, two, he isn’t going to be among the best NHL goalies this year. I’m sorry, I mean I like Petr Mrazek, but he’s not an elite goalie, so this is a hard no.
The North Division to be the best Division this year
Yes, yes yes! Spoiler alert; the North Division will be the best Division in the NHL this year and I don’t think it will be close. Yes, the East Division is stacked and will go right down to the wire, but the North Division is just going to be so much fun.
I mean, the Toronto Maple Leafs matchup with the Montreal Canadiens was everything you could ask for and more, while we saw on Friday that there will be upsets with a young and exciting Ottawa Senators team taking down the Maple Leafs in another thriller. Both Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks showdowns were so much fun to watch too, and there’s also a lot of starpower and firepower in that Division, so I think there is no doubt that the North Division is going to be the hands-down best Division in the 2020-21 NHL Season.
So that’s it for our overreactions after the first few days of the 2020-21 NHL season – did we miss any? Be sure to let us know but we will be back with more overreactions in the coming weeks!