Throughout the early stages of the NHL season, fans, analysts and sports media representatives usually can pinpoint which teams are front-runners quite easily.
But every season also has surprising results that shock the media and a team’s core fan base. With that in mind, here are my top three teams that are currently struggling in the early stages of 2015-16 NHL season.
1. The Anaheim Ducks
The Anaheim Ducks are just coming off a 1-0 OT loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. The loss gives the Ducks a rather dismal record of 1-5-2. This is certainly not what longtime Ducks head Coach Bruce Boudreau and his squad are used to this early in the season.
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The team’s top forwards Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler have a combined total of just three points in eight games. Perry and Kesler have yet to score their first goals of the season.
These are rather shocking statistics, considering that these three guys combined for an impressive total of 172 points last season. That being said, it may just be a matter of time before this team starts scoring goals consistently.
They’ve proven they can do it and that’s why Bruce Boudreau hasn’t gone into panic mode just yet. They just need to keep it simple and use their speed to create scoring chances and the goals will come eventually. Still it’s fair to say that the Ducks are flying very low right now.
2. The Columbus Blue Jackets
The Columbus Blue Jackets will try to make it two wins in a row for the first time this season when they face the New Jersey Devils Tuesday night. The Jackets are currently in dead last of the Eastern Conference Standings with a record of 1-8-0.
There are several factors that have contributed to this record. First, the departure of one of the team’s top forwards from last season in Artem Anisimov has left a hole in the roster that has yet to be filled. Second, the health issues of Ryan Johansen have also contributed to the team’s lack of goals in these early stages of the season. These two guys accounted for a combined total of 98 points for the team last year.
But the club has not sat back. The recent appointment of new head Coach John Tortorella on October 21st will hopefully provide this team with the spark required to keep winning games. Tortorella will light a fire under the younger players and demand results. This tough love tactic will hopefully provide the Columbus Blue Jackets with some hope and more offensive production.
3. Boston Bruins
The Bruins have provided a bit of a wild factor throughout their first seven games of the season. Boston currently has a record of 3-3-1. This is a team that has made some surprising changes in the off-season.
They’ve seen the departure of defenseman Dougie Hamilton and forward Milan Lucic. However forwards David Krejci Patrice Bergeron continue to pick up the slack and score goals. The area of concern for Boston during this slow start to the season would be the play starting goalie Tuukka Rask.
Rask has a record of 1-3-1, has allowed 22 goals and only has a save percentage of .854% to start the season. This is far below what Bruin’s fans are used to seeing from their star goalie. Thankfully, it’s early in the season but if Rask doesn’t improve the Bruin’s will have a difficult time climbing the Eastern Conference Standings this season.
These statistics are certainly not what anyone in the hockey world is used to seeing from these three teams. It will be interesting to see which team pulls out of the gutter first. The next three games will be critical for each team.
I can’t wait to see what changes may occur within these three teams if these slumps continue.