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The Surprising Turnaround in the NHL Divisions

Photo courtesy of Sean Haffey via Getty Images

If there’s one thing that is consistent in the NHL, it’s the inconsistency in division standings from one year to the next. A lot can change very quickly in the hockey world, and this season has been no different. There are several teams that are shocking fans across the world with their quick turnarounds from one season to the next. Although we are still very early in the season, if these trends continue, we could see some huge shifts in playoff teams at the end of the 2023-24 season.

Photo courtesy of Bob Frid via USA Today Sports

Vancouver Canucks

One of the biggest turnarounds so far this season has been the Vancouver Canucks, led by newly appointed captain Quinn Hughes. They finished sixth in the Pacific division at the end of the 2022-23 season, with only 68 points and a 38-37-7 record. At the end of their disappointing season, Hughes went out to center ice to talk to their supportive fan base, saying, “On behalf of me and my teammates, I just want to thank the fans for everything this year… hopefully we come out strong next season.” The captain certainly kept his promise, as the Canucks have come out strong and fast right out of the gate this season. Not only has Hughes done a great job leading his team so far, but he also leads all defensemen in the league in points with five goals and 15 assists in 12 games played. He has been such an important part of this team since he joined, and this season is trending towards a record breaking one for the young captain.

The Canucks are currently sitting at second in the Pacific division with 19 points, just behind the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Vegas Golden Knights. Vancouver currently has an 9-2-1 record, which is already a drastically better start than their many losses to start their 2022-23 season.

It comes as no surprise that Elias Petterson is their current points leader with 21 points in just 12 games so far, including six goals. He also led the team in the 2022-23 season with 102 points in 80 games played. If the Canucks are going to continue on their dominating streak, it is important that Petterson stays healthy and continues his production.

This team is certainly feeling confident and has to feel good about the way they are playing to start their season, and will be looking to continue their strong streak throughout the winter months of their season.

Photo courtesy of Sean Haffey via Getty Images

Anaheim Ducks

The Anaheim Ducks had the most disappointing season out of anyone in the league during the 2022-23 season after finishing last out of all 32 teams. They only acquired 58 points and finished with a 23-47-12 record. Their team leader in points was Trevor Zegras, who finished with 65 points in 81 games. This year, Zegras is struggling to find his scoring again, and only has one goal through the team’s 11 games.

The current team leader is now Mason McTavish, who has 13 points including six goals in his first 12 games. Last season, McTavish had 43 points, including 17 goals for the whole season. This has McTavish on pace to significantly pass his point production from last season, as he is now on pace for 89 points at the end of this season, which is 46 more than the 2022-23 season. For the Duck’s success so far this season to continue, it is important that McTavish stays healthy and continues his game winning goal streak. The entire Ducks second line of Frank Vatrano, Mason McTavish, and Ryan Strome, are all having an amazing start to their seasons, and are on pace to break their own season records.

The Anaheim Ducks are currently sitting at 4th in the Pacific division with 14 points and a 7-5-0 record. This might not seem too high, but considering the juggernaut teams that are in the Pacific and the Ducks’ poor record last year, being 4th in their division is extremely impressive for this team. Arguably the two most impressive games that they played so far this season were against the juggernaut Boston Bruins and Vegas Golden Knights. They handed the Bruins their first loss of the season and handed an 11-0-1 Vegas their first regulation loss of the season, where they scored four goals in the 3rd period to come back from a 3-0 deficit.

Photo courtesy of Norm Hall via Getty Images

Arizona Coyotes

The Arizona Coyotes also had a very disappointing 2022-23 season, finishing second to last in the Central division just ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks. They finished with a 28-40-14 record and only 70 total points. Clayton Keller led their team in points with 86 in 82 games, including 37 goals. Although they didn’t have an amazing season, they haven’t let that negativity affect their team this year, and with the addition of rookie Logan Cooley, the Coyotes are off to a much better start during the beginning of the 2023-24 season.

The team is currently fourth in the Western Conference, with 13 points and a 6-5-1 record. Nick Schmaltz currently leads the team with 12 points in 12 games, with Keller right behind him with 11 points in 12 games. Keller leads the team in goals with five, and Schmaltz has four. Rookie Logan Cooley has also made a significant difference in the team’s success, and is currently tied with four other rookies in points. He is one of the favorites to win the Calder trophy and has made quite an impact on the ice for his team, not only with scoring, but with his playmaking and presence.

Overall, even though it is early in the season, we can certainly expect some big shifts in the NHL this season in regards to the standings as some refreshed teams make their case for a playoff spot.

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