The 2019-20 NHL season is well under way now. Some teams have had hot starts, while others are struggling to find a win. Which teams have had the hottest starts though? We sat our writing team down around the table to get their opinions on which teams have been dominant and have made the most of their early fixtures.
Colorado Avalanche – Carl
There’s nothing more dominant than getting a point in every game so far this season. At the time of writing, the Avalanche sit atop the standings with a record of 7-0-1, a pace that certainly will not be maintained. But can this team continue to succeed? Absolutely they can. With an entirely new second line of Joonas Donskoi, Nazem Kadri and Andre Burakovsky the Avalanche have added a secondary scoring threat that they didn’t have last season. With the second unit already scoring 10 goals in 8 games, a more than a goal per game pace is certainly an above average performance.
They also happen to be shooting 21.3%, which is entirely unsustainable. (Last year, Leon Draisaitl led the league with 21.6 SH%). Similarly, an even strength save percentage of 93.65% is destined to go down. Which should be expected. There are reasons to believe that the hot start can lead to continued success for the Avalanche, even if it means that they (might) lose eventually.
Edmonton Oilers – Brodie
At 7-1-1 to start the year the Oilers are, who we thought they were…? Once again it’s Captain Connor carrying the load with a league leading 17 points, and Draisaitl never far behind, but James Neal has turned back into, well, James Neal, and is leading the league with 9 goals. The biggest part of their success however may be an improved defensive effort as they’ve allowed only 20 goals in 8 games. (2.5 per). To put things in perspective however, they’ve faced only one playoff team from last year in the Islanders, but you need to win those games to succeed and if they can continue to play better in their own end they may return to the playoffs after all.
Buffalo Sabres – Mike
15 points from their first nine games. The Sabres have a tendency to start strong before falling apart in the second half of the season, but even by their own standards this start is hot. The strength of Buffalo’s powerplay unit is driving the team, having provided a third of the team’s 33 goals. All of Victor Olofsson‘s six goals have come on the PP too. All of this good fortune is even more impressive if you consider that the team’s blueline is worryingly average.
Is this run sustainable? Probably not. While it would be interesting to see the Sabres as playoff contenders for the first time since 2011, recent history says it’s not likely. Buffalo’s captain (head coach, GM and front office) Jack Eichel needs to up his game a bit too. We know he’s able to be that driving force the team needs, but Eichel hasn’t quite found his usual form yet.
Detroit Red Wings. That 3-1 streak at the start of the season sure was something special, especially with the Wings’ historic win over Montreal. The Yzerman Lighthouse shining bright in the impending fog of the rest of the season.