Monday, October 31, 2016

Weekend wrap: The curse of November 1

Opening faceoff: Revenge of the dead puck

Two weeks ago, we looked at some of the early season trends that probably wouldn’t continue, even though we were all hoping they would.

The top trend on the list was offence; scoring was up across the league by roughly a goal a game, and we seemed to be getting scores like 6-5 and 7-4 on an almost nightly basis.

The cause of the surge was a mystery. The league hadn’t introduced any new rules, and their promised goalie equipment changes hadn’t been ready in time to start the season. Some pointed to the infusion of young stars into the league, while others wondered if the World Cup had given the game’s top players a head start.

More than a few think pieces were written about what exactly was going on and what it all meant. Nobody could figure it out. We all just hoped it would last.

Yeah… about that.

We're not quite back to the 5.5 goals-per-game zone that the league has settled into over the last five years or so, but we're getting awfully close, and those pesky goaltenders are starting to dominate the box scores once again.

After making it through the first week without any shutouts, we're now seeing them on most nights. Over the weekend, we even got the return of our old pal, the 1-0 game; we've been treated to three of those since Friday, after not having any at all on the season.

And sure, defence is fun and goaltenders are people too, and maybe you don't like low-scoring games because you just don't get it, man. But all those goals sure were fun while they lasted. Maybe the trend will turn around again, and we'll spend the season watching the offensive stars and the defensive masterminds go back and forth.

History tells us not to get our hopes up, though.

On to the power rankings. Last Monday in this space, we hoped that another week of action would provide some clarity at the top of the league. Spoiler alert: Not so much.

Road to the Cup

The five teams that look like they're headed towards Stanley Cup favorite status.

5. San Jose Sharks (6-3-0, +2 true goals differential*) – They move back onto the list with three straight wins, albeit against three teams that are struggling.

4. New York Rangers (6-3-0, +13) – Sunday's 6-1 win over the Lightning may have been their most impressive of the season.

>> Read the full post at Sportsnet

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