In every NHL season, there are unanticipated happenings. That’s the nature of our sport. We all have theories on why it’s true. Teamwork is more important in hockey. The NHL’s parity creates a greater chance to shuffle the deck. Young players come of age at different times. Pick one or two and then add your own.
But this season reads more like Tales of the Unexpected than most. Here are occurrences that we didn’t see coming
1. Troy Terry, 24, generating 12 goals and 22 points in his first 18 games. Last season, he had seven goals and 20 points in 48 games.
2. The New York Islanders are sitting in 28th place as we near the quarter pole of the season. This is supposed to be a prime Stanley Cup contender. Even with their ridiculously challenging road tip to start the season, you could not have seen this coming
3. Rookies Lucas Raymond, 19, and Moritz Seider, 20, own a combined nine goals and 32 points. Raymond is playing on Detroit’s top line and Seider is Detroit’s top minutes guy on defense. Seider was expected to be ready this season, but his transition to the NHL has exceeded expectations. Raymond is a surprise.
4. The Anaheim Ducks have gone from last in scoring last season to 10th this season.
5. Calgary goalie Jacob Markstrom has five shutouts in 14 games. He had six shutouts total in 146 games over the past three seasons.
6. The Flames (11-3-5) have the most points in the Western Conference with December right around the corner. They have a league-leading 1.89 goals-against average. You are lying if you say you foreseen Darryl Sutter defensive magic having this kind of impact.
7. Calgary’s Andrew Mangiapane has more goals (15) than Edmonton’s Connor McDavid (12).
8. Matt Duchene (12 goals in 18 games) coming back to life for the Predators. Where was he last season? His rejuvenation has helped fuel Nashville's better-than-expected performance.
9. The Minnesota Wild rank 25th in goals-against average and lead the Central Division with a 10-6-1 record.
10. Buffalo forward Tage Thompson’s game (13 points in 18 games) is finally coming together under coach Don Granato
11. The Blue Jackets are playing .625 hockey. They could be in a playoff spot on Thanksgiving. You know what that means.
12. Chicago’s Jonathan Toews has no goals after 18 games. That's not right.
13. Phil Kessel is still playing with Arizona. Considering everyone else the Coyotes traded, it seemed like a given Kessel would be dealt.
14. Six teams in the Pacific Division own a .528 winning percentage or better. That includes the San Jose Sharks. The Pacific Division has been better than we thought it would be.
15. The average NHL save percentage has been dropping since 2014-15. Last season, it was .908. This season, it’s .912. But this rise may not hold.