We're just under 10 games into the 2018-19 season, and we've seen some wild surprises begin to emerge. Between Gritty taking over the league or the Toronto Maple Leafs putting on a clinic, the newest NHL season has been filled with excitement. However, these five storylines have shattered projections and surprised analysts throughout the league.
5. NHL Suspensions
The NHL ended it's preseason with three suspensions, including one massive punishment on Tom Wilson. As the regular season commenced, many began to question if the Department of Player Safety would be taking a stricter path for the 2018-19 season. The first suspension of the regular season went to Mike Matheson for his hit on Elias Pettersson. In past seasons, Matheson's hit would have been seen as a hard nosed play in the corner. Mark Borowiecki was also suspended for one game for an elbow on Urho Vaakanainen.
The DOPS is taking suspensions incredibly seriously this season as they look to keep the players as safe as possible.
4. Carolina Hurricanes
The Carolina Hurricanes added several pieces in the offseason, most notably Dougie Hamilton and Calvin de Haan. Just one year removed from a lottery pick finish in 2017-18, the Hurricanes have surprised the NHL with an exceptional start to their season. Sebastian Aho has quietly dominated the league, scoring 14 points in just nine games. Michael Ferland has been exceptional, scoring six goals for the team lead. The Hurricanes are currently sitting at the top of the Metro Division and could stay there as long as the strong play from Aho continues.
3. Los Angeles Kings
After signing former NHL superstar Ilya Kovalchuk the Los Angeles Kings were hoping to find a much needed increase in offense. However, through nine games this season, the Kings sit second to last in goals forwarded with just 17. To put their season in perspective, the Kings' leading scorer is Alex Iafallo with seven points, and Anze Kopitar has just three goals on the season with zero assists. There's still 73 games left in their season, but the Kings have started off on a terrible foot.
2. Senators Defensemen
When the Ottawa Senators traded away franchise defenseman Erik Karlsson the NHL assumed that their defense would be left reeling for the entire season. However, through the first eight games of the season, the Senators' defensemen have contributed 25 total points, led by second year player Thomas Chabot and rookie Maxime Lajoie. With Karlsson gone, Chabot took over the role as the top defenseman, and has filled his shoes nicely. He currently has 10 points on the season, which is third in the NHL.
Lajoie and Chabot have eased the loss of Karlsson, and could emerge as two of the best young defenseman in the NHL if they can sustain their scoring touch.
1. Montreal Canadiens
If there's any team that has surprised the NHL, it's the Montreal Canadiens. Seemingly defeated and left for dead, the team entered the season as one of the worst squads in the league. Their seemingly weak squad now has three separate players who are averaging a point per game in Tomas Tatar, Max Domi, and Jeff Petry. Jonathon Drouin has been lights out, recording a point in five straight games, while Brendan Gallagher is leading the team in scoring with five goals.
Their newly found offense has skyrocketed the Habs to the top of the Eastern Conference, tied with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins. With Shea Weber due back in a few weeks, the sky is the limit for the Habs. They may not remain a top team in the East, but the playoffs are well within their reach if they can continue their strong play.