SPNHL, Season 31: Week One Review
And we’re off! The 31st season of the SPNHL is underway, and the more things change, the more they stay the same. Colorado is on top of the league again, but not undefeated this time! The Lightning, who are third in the league, prevented the Avs from going 9-0 to open the week for the second (potentially third) consecutive season. The Toronto Maple Leafs are also playing very well, putting themselves second in the league after a strong week to start the season.
Not all teams were as fortunate as the Bolts, the Buds, and the Champs, as the Sharks (hate to say I told you so) went in the exact opposite direction and did not amass a win this week. Columbus looked to be on the verge of sharing that same fate, but they finished the week with two straight wins. The first week can be a struggle for some teams as they try to develop chemistry and strategy. Those who are familiar with each other, such as Toronto, will have it in spades while some teams, like San Jose, lack it completely.
Let’s take a quick look at the standings and see how everybody is doing. We’ll talk about their trends, their transactions (if there are any), and their performance. We’ll keep it short and sweet and try not to be too biased, but no promises (the best players on the Blue Jackets are Trout and Cuban, shoutout to the S26 Devils).
- Colorado Avalanche
The Avalanche haven’t been as dominant as they were last season, but have still been incredibly successful. They’ve been averaging just over 3 goals a game, but their starting goalie Turtle has been playing very well, going undefeated in 6 games and saving 83% of shots behind a defensively solid Avalanche squad.
- Vegas Golden Knights
After starting the week 4-1, the Knights struggled in their last 4 games going 1-2-1. They scoring plenty of goals and their special teams numbers are great but they’ve been edged out it in close games, suffering two overtime losses. Execution has been a stalwart at D for the Knights, posting 12 assists to go along with a +11 rating and a 2-1 giveaway to takeaway ratio as he starts strong in his return to the league.
- Anaheim Ducks
Where the fook did this guy come from? The Ducks have exceeded my expectations, taking third place in the conference after an off and on week. Their games were very close, with a low goal differential and 3 overtime losses, but one of their most consistent scorers was the rookie MrBean. He put up 11 goals in 9 games, including a 5 goal outburst against the Jackets to go along with his 8 assists.
- Winnipeg Jets
The Jets had a difficult week, going 4-5 while facing some of the more talented teams. One of their strengths was goaltending, only giving up 3 goals per game and having both goalies above an 83% save percentage. Giroux won 3 of the 6 games he played and was instrumental in winning games behind an offensively lacking Jets squad. But now that they’ve traded for Trixx, their offensive struggles may be over.
- Edmonton Oilers
The Oilers had a rough start to the season, having one of the tougher schedules which ended up dismantling the team, resulting in the departures of Julien and Frenchy. Sharing the team lead with Cupidon in points, Arrowhunter was an assist machine and had no penalty minutes while being one of the best players on this team. Hopefully some new arrivals in Edmonton will bring success with them.
- San Jose Sharks
The Sharks were not looking like the strongest team heading into this season, and it showed in this past week. Not getting a single win and only amassing a single point, San Jose has some work to do. Their special teams numbers were dismal, but there is some light at the end of the tunnel. Although there wasn’t much of it, Daf lead the team in scoring and if he can develop chemistry with Joe, the Sharks could rebound next week.
- Toronto Maple Leafs
The Leafs picked up right where they left off, starting out the season with 7 wins in 9 games. After being the last seed in the East last season, the Stanley Cup Finalists are emerging as the team to beat in their conference. They have the best penalty kill in the league and some of the best offense, being lead by the 6 goals and 18 assists of Fish. With a very familiar team, expect very familiar results to last season.
- Tampa Bay Lightning
Perennial conference favourites, the Bolts are off to a great start again, winning 6 of their 9 games. However, they dropped 2 of their last three games, losing a bit of momentum going into this week. They still have a very strong team, and are backstopped by arguably the best goalie in the league in Vince. He’s pacing the league with just under an exceptional 91% save percentage and a 1.33 GAA.
- Philadelphia Flyers
MVP: Not Chad. Let’s go with Pete.
The Flyers had a roller coaster of a week and came away with 6 wins, after alternating 3 wins and 3 losses to start the week. Their special teams numbers are great, and they’ve got great offensive contributions from all sides, but Pete delivered this week. He’s fifth in the league in points (19) and goals (10), and has been leading his Philadelphia squad by example with a strong supporting squad.
- New Jersey Devils
Grammy and I packed our bags and headed back to Jersey and started stronger than last season, getting 5 wins and 4 of them in our last 6. The Devils are leading the league in scoring and are averaging just over 4 goals a game, and are being paced by Rich who scored an absurd 15 goals in 6 games to go along with his 9 assists for a league leading 24 points. Holy shit, we discovered our scoring touch!
- Pittsburgh Penguins
The Penguins have a very similar squad to last season, much like the Leafs, but weren’t as successful as the latter. However, they didn’t do that bad with 4 wins and two overtime losses, putting themselves fifth in the conference. Their core is developing chemistry and with the addition of Bstie, who leads the team in scoring with 8 goals and 11 points, Pittsburgh could contend in a stacked conference.
- Columbus Blue Jackets
Well, Pemm and the Blue Jackets didn’t exactly come flying out of the gates, only amassing 2 wins in 9 games. The good news in that is that Columbus is on a two game winning streak! The arrival of the new French Connection (Julien, Frenchy, and Lavoie) should compliment Duckweed who has been Columbus’s highest scorer (9 goals and 5 assists) and arguably their best player. Who knew?
One week is not the be all and end all, so I encourage teams not to panic (maybe too late, some teams have already flipped half their squad). Take some time to develop your strategy and build chemistry before sending your players away or giving up on your season. Or don’t, screw it and try to rebuild from scratch. I did it and won a President’s Trophy like that, so maybe you can too!
Nonetheless, I wish everybody the best of luck as the season rolls on. I look forward to seeing all of you out on the ice!