Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Surprises of the NHL season

Brendan Shanahan/ Courtesy of Wikipedia

With a fifth of the NHL season already gone, it is fair to look back and review this season’s surprises so far. Whether it is an exceedingly awful team, a league executive on a mission from God, or the sudden rise of a superstar, this season has already produced a hefty dose of unforeseen occurrences.

Here are a few revelations that have caught my eyes thus far in 2011, in absolutely no particular order of importance.

The Columbus Blue Jackets are doing their best Washington Generals Impression
What makes their 2-12-1 record even more disappointing was their offseason that was supposed to herald a new era in Columbus. In came stud center Jeff Carter from the Flyers. Free agent defenseman James Wisniewski was signed to a whopping six year 33 million dollar contract. Goalie Steve Mason was expected to return to his rookie of the year form of two years ago. Suffice to say none of those has happened. The Blue Jackets find themselves last in the league in goal differential (-25), and last in points (5).

Brendan Shanahan is the new Sheriff in town
Since taking over for Colin Campbell as Czar of player discipline in the offseason, Shanahan has imposed what some see as preposterously lengthy suspensions for offences on the ice. Coupled with a clarified Rule 48 (which makes any contact to the head a penalty regardless of intent), Shanahan has come out with guns-a-blazin’. As of October 29, “Shanaban” has doled out punishments to repeat offenders at an increase of 260 percent, he’s taken away $680,000 in player salaries, and has seen the average length of suspension increase to 5.5 games (up from the 2.5 average last year under Campbell).

Sidney Crosby arduous recovery
Arguably the league’s best player, Crosby has been out of comission since this past January after suffering two concussions within a week of one another. This happened after amassing 66 points in only 41 games. Concussions have become the focal point of the NHL’s campaign of player safety, and Crosby has unwittingly become the poster boy of the movement. Even after fully practicing last year during the Penguins first round matchup with the Lightning, Crosby has yet to return to game play, which speaks volumes to both the severity and unpredictability of head injuries.

The Bruins’ malaise to start the Season
Although the Bruins now find themselves at .500, two weeks ago it was an entirely different story. The defending Cup champs started off the year 3-7, good for being in second-to-last place. The horrid beginning to the season was not the start that was envisioned for an elite NHL team. Their collective ineptitude in all offensive situations, whether even strength or on the power play, doomed their first ten games. A recent four game stretch where the Bruins outscored their opponents by an aggregate of 24-7 leads us all to believe that they have righted course.

Honorable mentions
Tyler Seguins’ emergence as a star, the Dallas Stars as the first team to ten wins, Phil Kessel leading the league in scoring, the Penguins great start, despite not having Crosby and getting only a few games out of star Evgeni Malkin, and the ancient Nikolai Khabibulin leading the young Oilers to a surprising start with a 0.98 Goals Against Avg.

Mark Bruso can be reached for comment at [email protected].

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