Roundtable: NHL quarter-season's best story, changes to come, more
Sam Page: After all the Connor McDavid/Jack Eichel hype coming into the season—the endless debates about who would win the Calder Trophy—of course it’s the team that finished third in the draft lottery that has the most impressive pair of rookies. The Coyotes’ Anthony Duclair and Max Domi, both just 20, have a combined 27 points through 18 games and have made the ‘Yotes competitive again. And that’s gone right for Arizona while its McEichel consolation prize—Dylan Strome—is quietly stashed in the OHL for another season. The future of the next edition of the Quebec Nordiques is very bright.
SP: I’ll let someone else tackle the Penguins, and instead say Ryan Callahan. I have no idea if his current lower-body injury has anything to do with his struggles, but the combination of him not producing and his team’s depth issues do not bode well for this season. He had a good thing going on Steven Stamkos’s line last season, but he could easily be stuck in the bottom six when Tyler Johnson gets back. It’s not like he’s been snakebit either—Callahan is actually shooting 11.4%, slightly better than his career rate.
SP: Calgary’s Dougie Hamilton was the biggest trade acquisition of the off-season, and somehow he’s scored just five points with a –7 rating. He’s getting no help from his goalies (.901 save percentage with Hamilton on the ice at five-on-five) or his teammates (5.26% shooting percentage). His luck will turn.
MB: It feels almost silly to say this, but Sidney Crosby is due for ... something. His next 20 games will either be a deluge of points that assuage a terrified fan base or his struggles will continue and the whispers will grow into some pretty serious yelling. The frustration is apparent for Sid, the Penguins and anybody who’s watching them, but his goal against the Avalanche on Thursday had that distinct Crosby panache that the rest of the league should probably start worrying about.
MB: Put me down for Colorado. Patrick Roy has introduced some neat tricks behind the Avs’ bench, but he’s also largely ignored the vast array of statistics that are pointing to problems with the team and it's all coming back to bite him. Colorado clearly struggles with possession from end to end and Roy’s Hall of Fame playing career might not save him or his players from some drastic measures.
Also, maybe we should talk about how a league that equates offense to excitement felt the need to make changes to a game that featured 29 goals in 2015, but was also somehow a total snoozefest.
AM: It’s not the scoring that made it a snoozefest, bud. It’s that the contest had all the passion and intensity of a midnight over-50 beer league game ... and I don’t see this new format addressing that problem one bit. Don’t get me wrong: I like that they’re trying something new and I admit there’s a chance that I may be pleasantly surprised by the results. But honestly I don’t think the chance to split a million bucks is going to light a fire under anyone’s behind the way competing for a point in the standings does. I think we’ll mostly get a bunch of cherry-picking and lay-up drills until the last three or four minutes when they start getting serious.
• And with Thanksgiving just around the corner, what’s the best Turkey Day dessert?