Inside the East Division
Rumblings, Musings, & Opinions
PHI 3-1-1, 7 pts: Coaches around the league feel Kevin Hayes is one of the most underappreciated players in the NHL. 6 even strength points through 5 games, Hayes has been one of the most dominant two-way players to open the season. If the Rangers could go back, there might be a different decision made on whether to sign Chris Kreider long-term over Hayes ……..Intrigue with the Flyers is the upside with the forward group as the season grows, in particular getting full seasons from Nolan Patrick (1 Goal, 3 Assists) and Oskar Lindblom (2 Goals, 1 Assist)…… The Flyers chased Zdeno Chara in free agency. Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher remains in the market for a solidifying piece on the backend……
NYI 3-1-0, 6 pts: Goal Prevention? The Islanders are elite again in that critical area, allowing six goals through four games. Semyon Varlamov has stopped 81 of 82 shots.
WSH 2-0-2, 6 pts: The NHL would surely be looking to make an example of somebody early in the season if there was a breach of the covid protocol and the league came down on the Washington Capitals with a $100,000 fine, and Alex Ovechkin, Dmitry Orlov, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Ilya Samsonov (tested positive) all being sidelined for at least four games……. Conor Sheary after dressing for the Capitals first two games of the season, was a healthy scratch for both games in the two game series vs the Penguins……
NJD 2-1-1, 5 pts: The Devils suffered their first regulation loss Thursday night and have been a surprise harder than expected out to open the season under new head coach Lindy Ruff. Jack Hughes (2 Goals – 4 Assists), Miles Wood (3 Goals, 1 Assist) have been standouts thus far, along with goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood (.948 SV%) who is unfortunately now on covid-19 list. Scouts have also marveled at the impact Ruff and his staff have had so far on PK Subban……..Teams will be tracking Kyle Palmieri all season who is in the last year of his contract with a $4.625 million cap hit…………Health permitted, Penguins GM Jim Rutherford isn’t going anywhere anytime soon and with how intertwined he now is with Team President David Morehouse, who has a major voice with ownership, the belief in Pittsburgh is Rutherford will get to leave on his own terms down the road whenever that may be. Still, Tom Fitzgerald Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access" The two are said to have had a falling out in the summer of 2015 as Fitzgerald would often push back on Rutherford’s moves, most notably, a heated day 2 (2015) draft discussion when Fitzgerald per sources, helped negotiate a trade of Brandon Sutter to the St. Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"
BOS 2-1-1, 5 pts: Will the Bruins take a half step or full step back this season from the level they were at last season? Should get more of an answer in the next two weeks. Watching them, some have felt the loss of Zdeno Chara has been a bigger issue on the ice than expected. Elsewhere, as expected, Torey Krug has been a hard player to replace and they haven’t been as explosive in transition.
PIT 2-2-0, 4 pts: In Tuesday’s win vs the Capitals, Sidney Crosby went 16 of 19 (84%) in the faceoff circle, including 8 of 11 on offensive zone draws. As a team the Penguins were a combined 26 of 40 (65%) on offensive/defensive zone draws vs the Caps…..Defenseman Pierre Olivier-Joseph has been recalled for tonight’s game on an emergency loan basis and will make his NHL debut……..Pittsburgh’s not going to find anything interesting on the market right now, nonetheless, Jim Rutherford is already scouring the market for a defenseman. “He’s looking for a defenceman Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"
NYR 1-2-0, 2 pts: The Rangers entered the season as the team in the division that was all over the map on how they were looked at. Logic — it’s a roster that’s likely a year away, while others had viewed them as a threat for a playoff spot. They have a top-10 player in Artemi Panarin and great young talent in Lafreniere and Kaapo, but the two youngsters are not consistent game breakers just yet. It’s a group offensively for another season that’s going to be really reliant on players like Ryan Strome and Chris Kreider. And that’s dicey as it’s no surprise with those two players struggling, it’s been a stagnant offensive start……..Will RW Pavel Buchnevich reach another level? The Rangers have always felt there was 30+ goal ability. He’s off to a nice start with 2 goals and 2 assists. ……..The Rangers continue to find out Jacob Trouba is not the No. 1 franchise level defenseman they thought he was……There’s some bad contracts on that blueline with Trouba ($8MM Cap Hit), Brendan Smith ($4.35MM Cap Hit) and Tony DeAngelo ($4.8MM Cap Hit) who the Rangers would love to move due to the headache he is ……..Jack Johnson has appeared in all three games thus far, playing 16:49 a night, which is 4th on the team among d-men.
BUF 1-3-0, 2 pts: Taylor Hall and Jack Eichel have combined for 12 points through four games, yet, the Sabres are off to a typical Buffalo 1-3 start. These next two games are the Sabres season as they get the Capitals who will be without Ovechkin, Backstrom, Orlov and Samsanov.