Positivity is a beautiful thing, but nothing hits the spot like an occasional glass of haterade.
Life is all about balance, so let's take a look at each NHL team's emerging red flag one month into the season.
Boston Bruins: Ruining the vibes
The Bruins are off to one of their best starts in franchise history at 12-2-0. They aren't just winning games, they are crushing opponents. The players are fun, too, with Patrice Bergeron back for another season, David Pastrnak doing his thing, and goalies that hug at the end of every game.
So for some reason management just had to sign (and then part ways with) Mitchell Miller, a convicted bully, to an entry-level contract last week. This situation shouldn’t be reduced to a PR headache, but the PR headache byproduct couldn’t have been more unnecessary. It's worth saying that team leaders Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Nick Foligno speaking out against the signing reminds us that it obviously wasn’t the players’ decision, and they are the ones who are off to a great start—not the front office.
Detroit Red Wings: Inconsistency
Wait, are the Red Wings actually good? They are off to one of their best starts in recent memory, at 7-4-3 and second in the Atlantic Division. I thought they were going to improve on their last season, but I wasn't expecting this strong of a start, so I don't want to bellyache too much about the details.
But this is an article about red flags, after all. The three loser points don't necessarily paint a picture of a team that is truly second in the Atlantic Division.
Florida Panthers: Defense
It’s a good thing Aaron Ekblad is expected to return to the lineup this Saturday against the Oilers, because the Panthers have been hurting on defense this season and it shows. They shouldn’t panic, and they’ve climbed to 8-5-1 after a rough start. But last season’s playoff run was disappointing and there’s pressure on this franchise for the first time in a long time.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Finger-pointing
I get that it’s just the nature of being in the Toronto hockey market, but I really do think the amount of vitriol and finger-pointing that goes on after just a few losses is detrimental to the team in the long run. The fans can say whatever they want, but some of the comments and actions coming from the team itself about Mitch Marner in particular in recent losing streaks has been overblown. They aren’t winning every game, but they’re doing just fine right now at 7-4-3. Living and dying by every loss isn’t a recipe for success, nor is throwing your top performers under the bus in public.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Middling
The Lightning haven’t been horrible, but the dynasty has been uncharacteristically forgettable through its 7-5-1 start. There’s not much spark or oomph, and you’ll forgive them for that at the beginning of this season. But there is that voice in the back of your mind wondering if this is the year they start fading.
Montreal Canadiens: Juraj Slafkovsky’s dangerous hit
The Montreal Canadiens are not fine, but they were one of the teams expected to at least quasi-tank. They’re playing slightly better than I thought they’d be so far, at 7-6-1 with the third-worst record in the Atlantic Division.
I’m more concerned about their future, and 2022 first overall pick Juraj Slafkovsky is currently suspended for a dangerous hit that has Detroit’s Matt Luff sidelined for 10-12 weeks. I don’t think there was any ill intent at all, but at 6’3” and 238 pounds, Montreal’s 18-year-old prize will have to learn how to acclimate his body to the NHL game, and fast.
Buffalo Sabres: Another tragically hot start
The Sabres have been super promising at times to start this season, like that fun late October run featuring the overtime win to the Blackhawks, the 8-3 thrashing of the Red Wings and the TNT-televised 6-3 thriller against the Penguins. Many of us have loved the evident camaraderie among teammates, maybe so much so that we've ignored the inconsistency with the team. But I just blinked and they've lost four in a row, including a pretty bad loss to the Coyotes, and now they're 7-7-0 and seventh in the Atlantic.
They most recently let former franchise cornerstone Jack Eichel score a hat trick against them.
Are they seriously doing this to us again? For the sake of passionate Sabres fans, I hope not.
Ottawa Senators: You know it’s bad when a Canucks fan wants to buy the franchise
Full disclosure: I am just kidding, and I actually think it would be very cool if movie star Ryan Reynolds bought the Senators. But lifelong Canucks fan Reynolds’ interest in owning the Senators is objectively hilarious. The Senators have had injuries to key players this season, but we projected them way better than 4-8-1 at this point. We were all rooting for you, Ottawa, including Deadpool.