Unsung Heroes From the First Month of the 2020-21 NHL Season

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Patrick Kane (88)

Patrick Kane #88 of the Chicago Blackhawks. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

We are going to take a look at some unsung heroes in the NHL right now.

We are a month into the 2020-21 NHL season, and there is no shortage of headlines around the league. A lot of those top stories include familiar teams like the Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins, and familiar players like Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. While all of the attention given to those teams and players is warranted, there are other players that deserve more attention than they’re getting for their impressive starts to this campaign.

By this point in this shortened NHL season, we are beginning to learn the identity of teams, and we are also beginning to identify the driving forces behind them. Of course, it takes an entire group of players to propel teams to elite status and deep Playoff runs, but even at this stage of the season players are showing out for their clubs.

With a month gone in the 2020-21 NHL season, teams and players are establishing their positions around the league. Some players, though, don’t necessarily get the credit that they deserve early in the year.

Players like Tyler Toffoli and Jeff Petry of the Montreal Canadiens have surprised some people so far, but their success has been well documented. Between the pipes, goalies like Andrei Vasilevskiy, Marc-Andre Fleury, and others have been praised for their hot starts as well.

So, which players are not being acknowledged the way that they should be? Who are the individuals that are somehow flying under the radar while managing to lead their teams through the season’s opening month? Let’s take a look…

Five unsung heroes from the first month of the 2020-21 NHL season.

Quinn Hughes (43)

Vancouver Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes (43). Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Quinn Hughes and Brock Boeser, Vancouver Canucks

Quinn Hughes and Brock Boeser belong in the “unsung” category for a different reason: the Canucks are struggling. Vancouver finds itself in 21st in the NHL standings, despite having played more games than any other team in the league. The Canucks’ 7-11-0 record puts the team at sixth in the seven-team North division, leading only the lowly Ottawa Senators.

Even thought their team is off to a slow start, though, Hughes and Boeser are not. With 18 points, Hughes is tied for fifth in the league in scoring, and he leads all defensemen in that category. Of those 18 points, 16 of them are assists, which is the league’s third best total. One point behind him for Vancouver is Boeser, who leads the Canucks with 10 goals, one behind Matthews for the NHL’s top mark in that category.

I don’t think that anyone would consider 6-11 with a -15 goal differential to be treading water, but if it wasn’t for Hughes and Boeser, we might be talking about this team in the same breath as the Senators. Instead, these players provide Vancouver fans with a reason to be optimistic. If Hughes and Boeser continue to play at a high level, and either their teammates pick up the slack or a North rival drops off, it doesn’t feel like a Canucks resurgence is totally out of the picture just yet.

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