Ovechkin and McDavid, Florida and Carolina. Who tore the NHL at the start of the season

In the NHL, each season is different from the last. October 2021 once again proved that making predictions in this tournament is not something that is thankless, but simply useless. Hardly anyone doubted, for example, that Connor McDavid would put goals on the conveyor from the very beginning of the season. But not all of the heroes were obvious before the start of the season.

For a long time and honestly trying to break out of the middle peasants, “Florida” finally pulled away – by the third season, Joel Kenneville had built a team capable of solving serious problems no worse than its neighbors in the state. After eight matches, the Panthers have not lost a single point – they have never had a better start.


Excellent performance in the first two links: Barkov – Duclair – Verage and Huberdeau – Bennett – Tippett, but the third line, led by Sam Reinhart, is gaining points. The veteran Thornton – Hornquist team is putting pressure on authority: it looks like Jumbo Joe chose the right club at the end of his career. Due to his age, he is accustomed to working at low levels and does exactly the work that is required of him. In defense, Aaron Ekblad is great, although in general the entire defensive line is still working like clockwork.

But the main success of Florida in a month is the game of Sergei Bobrovsky. After last season, it might seem that Bob is on the decline, and his best tournaments are already behind. But that was not the case: Sergei did a great job in the offseason, and now he reminds himself of a Columbus model. “Nobody prepares for matches better than Bobrovsky. He has a fantastic approach, ”said Ekblad about his partner. The two-time Vezina Trophy winner surpassed 300 NHL wins in 541 games – only Jacques Plant did it faster than him, but victories in the championship Montreal were a little easier than for Sergei in the Blue Jackets, Flyers and Panthers. As an additional incentive, he is accompanied by the young and promising Spencer Knight, the winner of the MFM-2021 with the US national team, in the goalkeeping crew.

Joel Kenneville / Photo: © Eliot J. Schechter / Contributor / National Hockey League / Gettyimages.ru

And everything would have been great for Florida if it hadn't been for the Kenneville scandal. The dirty story of 11 years ago with the participation of his assistant became public knowledge, and now not only the culprit but also everyone who covered him was obstructed. The NHL, like any Western company, does not forgive this: despite the successes, Kenneville left the club. By inertia, the Panthers won the next match, and then in overtime against not the strongest, albeit reborn from the ashes of Detroit. And then – the first defeat, from “Boston” in shootouts. Not a disaster yet, but the immediate prospects of the orphaned team are now in question.

The pursuit of Alexander the Great for another Great, Wayne Gretzky, has not been canceled. Before the season, no one really doubted that he would bypass Marcel Dionne and Brett Hull, and the main task could be called the mark of Jaromir Jagr – to overcome it, Ovi must score 37 goals this season. The task is not easy, but doable.


Alexander dashed from the first matches as if he were not 36 years old, but 26.9 goals in 9 matches – Ovechkin did this 12 years ago, and at first glance it seems that since then he has not changed at all. Of course, this is not entirely true: the attacker, due to objective reasons, has become slower, plays less in defense, and the partners, on the contrary, work more for him. The captain of “Washington” constantly goes under the empty net of rivals – he scored two of the nine goals that way.

But all this does not negate his mega-throw, to which the entire league capitulates. Not to mention technique, leadership and charisma. If this is not a spurt of 5000 as 500, then Ovi will compete for (it is scary to imagine) the tenth Maurice Richard Trophy. And the title of the best player in October is already in his pocket.


To prevent him from winning the award will be Gretzky's heir in Edmonton, Connor McDavid, who every season becomes not only more experienced, but also angrier. Due to the lack of depth, the Oilers were not ready for serious tasks for a long time, and therefore he and Leon Dreiseitl have to regularly surpass themselves. A hat-trick against Calgary, a double against Arizona – and now McDee has half his monthly goal. In some matches, Connor catches such courage that he can no longer be stopped.

So far, thanks to McDavid, Edmonton is in the group of leaders, having lost only once in eight matches. How long will the Hyman – McDavid – Pugliujarvi link and Dreiseitl's second link pull the game be – a good question. Connor's main advantage is his age: he is 24 years old. The rivalry with the Caps legend looks a bit ungrateful against this background. But the shelf in his collection of trophies will not wait for the first Richard.

All summer there was talk about where “St. Louis” will go to Vladimir Tarasenko. $ 7.5 million under the ceiling, frequent injuries and, according to rumors, misunderstandings with partners – all this led to the desire of the Blues management to get rid of the “Russian tank”. But there were no worthy options, and Seattle did not take Tarasenko in the draft. The forward started the new season with the old team.

Photo: © REUTERS / Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

And I already did 4 + 5. An excellent performance schedule, an excellent game, close to the level of the championship season (this applies to the whole team), and after the winning double against Los Angeles, the Enterprise Center chanted in chorus: “Vladi! Vladi! ” Well, where will he go after that?

For a while, Carolina was considered such a fun underdog, capable of amusing productive matches and sensational victories, but in key confrontations with the mighty Tampa, the Hurricanes neatly stepped aside.


To reach a new level, the team had to wait for the maturation of Andrei Svechnikov, Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teryaväinen. It looks like the “hurricanes” have arrived. They no longer play in the same link: Svechnikov went to Vince Trocek and Martin Nechas, and Jordan Martinuk took his place on the left flank with Aho and Teryavainen. Growing up, Karolina got two top tiers, as well as quality defense and two strong bottom tiers. We solved the main problem of the offseason, compensating for the departure of the goalkeeper brigade by Frederic Andersen and Antti Raanta.

But Keynes' main star is undoubtedly Svechnikov. The guy has overgrown with meat, pumped up his game intelligence, the rest of his skills are still at the top level – in general, there is no trace of that inexperienced youth who was once knocked out by Ovi. “Carolina” has a great future, and she is creating it right now. The Hurricanes have not lost this season yet, and they will be. Unlike Florida, there is complete order in the coaching staff.

As soon as the Canadian national team was not called at the 2021 World Cup: from Cinderella to the students who, towards the end of the group stage, took up their minds and won gold, miraculously leaving the group. None of this would have happened without one person – Andrew Manjapane. The modest but progressive Calgary striker joined the squad in the middle of the tournament, after which Canada began the ascent.


In the new NHL season, Manjapane shows that this was not a one-off event. After the Canadian national team, he dragged the Flames with him. But the striker does not play in the top echelon – there Calgary has a longtime star Johnny Gaudreau, Blake Coleman who moved from Tampa and experienced Milan Lucic. But so far none of them even come close to Manjapan on the sniper list. He works great in the majority, sang great in the fourth link with the winner of the 2018 MFM-2018 Dillon Dubet, and maybe he can organize everything on his own. None of the opponents figured out his phenomenon at the World Cup, and so far we see that things are similar in the NHL. This guy is definitely worth keeping an eye on over the long haul.

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