Olga Steblyk / Sputnik Photography
With the Christmas season now behind us, the NHL season has unofficially reached its one-third point of the 2023-24 season.
It’s been a thrilling season so far to say the least. Many teams have had rough starts and fell short of expectations, most notably the Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers came into this season as Stanley Cup contenders and were picked by many to win the coveted trophy, but opened their year with just four wins in their first 18 games.
Though they have played much better as of late, sitting only a few points out of a play-off spot, their season has been disappointing so far.
Another team who has fallen short of their expectations has been the Seattle Kraken, who are currently near the bottom of the league’s standings despite making the play-offs last season.
“I feel as though [Seattle] could have performed a lot better this year given their roster,” said Maddox Runstedler, a fourth-year game design student and fan of the Seattle Kraken. “I was surprised this year at how poorly we performed as opposed to our first two years.”
On the other hand, many teams are meeting, or even exceeding, their pre-season expectations.
One of these teams is the Toronto Maple Leafs, who have overcame a shaky start to the year to now placing second in their division.
“[This year’s] been not bad, but definitely some room for improvement,” said Kaitlyn Heffern, a third-year social work student and fan of the Leafs.
In terms of teams exceeding expectations, many who failed to make the play-offs last year currently find themselves in a play-off position, including the Philadelphia Flyers, Arizona Coyotes and Vancouver Canucks.
“The Canucks have been pleasantly surprising this year,” said Heffern. “[They had] low expectations heading into this season but are now one of the league’s top teams.”
On top of every team’s bucket list is the Stanley Cup and a few teams look like early contenders for the trophy.
“The New York Rangers are my Stanley Cup pick,” said Runstedler.
Heffern added her own Stanley Cup choice, which is the Dallas Stars.
“The Stars are well-built team with lots of play-off experience,” she said.
The beginning third of the NHL season has been nothing short of entertaining and the great display of skill that has been shown so far is only going to get better as the season goes on.