The 2020-2021 NHL season has been unique, and some teams have been unable to get going so far. Due to COVID-19, there was a shortened training camp, there are new location-based divisions, and frequent schedule changes when players face exposure to the disease. Every game is essential in a shortened season so that a slow start could harm them later on. Below are some of the struggling teams:
The Ottawa Senators are currently last in the Scotia North division and also last in the NHL. They are in a rebuild mode. They traded Jean-Gabriel Pageau to the New York Islanders for a first-rounder in 2020, a second-rounder in 2020, and a third-rounder in 2022. Tim Stützle, the 3rd overall pick in the 2020 draft, started hot but has missed a couple of games due to injury. Their goaltending has been very weak this season. Playing from behind is always difficult for players. Time is vital for these young players’ development so this won’t be the Senators’ season, but the future is bright.
The Arizona Coyotes are in seventh place in the Honda West division. There was hope for this team following last season. The loss of Taylor Hall has been significant for them offensively. Goaltender Darcy Kuemper has started all but one of their games this season due to Antti Raanta’s injury. Defenseman Jacob Chychrun is coming off his best season and has started hot with one goal and five assists through 8 games. The team is hopeful for a better February to bounce back.
San Jose Sharks
The San Jose Sharks are last in the Honda West division. They have a very balanced roster: Most players on the Sharks have scored goals, and they pass the puck around really well. Finding the perfect offensive balance is vital for teams. Their power play after starting hot has struggled since. Their goaltending hasn’t been strong to start the season, and most of their games have been high scoring. It’s to rely on your offense to score multiple goals every game to keep up with poor goaltending.
You would think having Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid would automatically make the team great. Through 9 games, The Edmonton Oilers are in fifth place in the Scotia North Division. Their offense is very valuable, but their goaltending is very poor. Mikko Koskinen has struggled and hasn’t been able to put up with the division’s strong offensive. The Oilers are a very skilled team, so don’t count them out yet.
New York Islanders
Following an excellent postseason push, The New York Islanders have found themselves in seventh place in the Massmutual East division. They are known for their strong defenders and goaltending, keeping them in games because their offense doesn’t score. Coach Barry Trotz has been switching up the lineup, hoping for some offensive sparks. Defensemen Noah Dobson has finally been given a chance on the roster and has been killing it. He has 5 points through 7 games and has filled Devon Toews role. They need to find more consistency to continue where they left off last season.
New York Rangers
The New York Rangers have one of the best offensive lineups in the NHL, yet they are last in the Massmutual East division. Defensive struggles have highlighted their season—mainly newly acquired defenseman Jack Johnson. Fans are unhappy with coach David Quinn’s performance so far. But with Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko, both top picks in their draft class, the Rangers’ future is bright.