It’s Dan Mount again, and I’m back with this week’s edition of the Three Periods blog. This week I take a look at the youth movement going on in the NHL, the red-hot Montreal Canadiens and Columbus Blue Jackets hiring John Tortorella.
Let’s drop the puck on this blog.
If you think you’ve heard the phrase “scored his first career goal” a lot this season, you’re not alone. Everyone knows about the “generational talents” of the Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid and the Buffalo Sabres’ Jack Eichel. However, let’s not forget about some of the great young players in other places.
The New York Rangers have gotten some welcome points from Oscar Lindberg, as the Blueshirts try to build some future stars. Things look promising in the desert as the duo Anthony Duclair and Max Domi, son of tough guy Tie Domi, are giving fans in Arizona some hope after a summer of uncertainty. MattiasJanmark has been a find for the Dallas Stars.
The offensive guys don’t hold the monopoly on young talent, as Vancouver defenseman Ben Hutton and St. Louis’ Colton Parayko have been gems that worked hard in camp to make the team.
There are plenty of other guys that have gotten off the gate quickly. The youth movement highlights a deep rookie class that could be one of the best in years. The race for the Calder Trophy (top rookie) will be hard to handicap.
The team to beat so far is the Montreal Canadiens. The Habs are 7-0-0 as of Thursday for the first time in their 100-plus year history. Everyone knows about the great Carey Price in net, but Alex Galchenyuk and Max Pacioretty have gotten off to fast starts.
The Canadiens are also playing to their strengths, as they aren’t doing the same old dump-and-chase style. Montreal has also gotten better at their zone entries. The left wing used to bring the puck up for the Canadiens in the last few seasons. However, that’s changed up a bit as their using all of their tools. Montreal has skilled defensemen like P.K. Subban that now join the rush and are involved more in the offense.
It’s hard to tell if Montreal can sustain this, but they have the depth and the goaltending to keep it up. The Canadiens might be the team to bring the Stanley Cup back to Canada for the first time since 1999.
The first coaching change of the year happened on Wednesday when the Columbus Blue Jackets fired Todd Richards after seven straight losses. The Blue Jackets hired the notoriously gruff John Tortorella to give the team a “kick in the rear end.”
“Torts” is well-known for preaching defensive responsibility to his teams. As the Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks all hired him to help them shore up their struggling defenses. His tenure with the Canucks may have been short, but there’s no doubt that Tortorella is great at turning around teams.
The main question is will his style mesh with a team that finished last season with so much promise after an injury-riddled first half. Tortorella has a personality like Buffalo Bills coach Rex Ryan, and that he often wears out his welcome. It’ll be hard for the Blue Jackets to save their season, but Torts is a capable coach that will have his team give its all.