1. Filip Forsberg is Breaking Out
Embed from Getty Images
Filip Forsberg has been one of the better players in the league for a few years now. Just watch a few seconds of his highlight reel and it’s not hard to figure out why. But he has never been in the conversation as one of the few elite forwards in the NHL along with Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid, John Tavares, etc. It looks like that is about to change this year.
After Forsberg’s hat trick on Saturday, he has scored 10 goals and tallied for assists for a total of 14 points so far this season. Those numbers put him on pace for 75 goals and 30 assists. Obviously, he’s had a great start to the season; however, it’s naive to think he will finish with 75 goals and 100-plus points. Still, he does look like he has raised his game this season and he is ready to shatter his previous career highs of 31 goals, 37 assists, and 64 points. I’m interested to see how Forsberg finishes the season and how he lifts the Predators offensively.
2. Ilya Kovalchuk is NOT Breaking Out
Like a lot of people, I was VERY excited to see that Ilya Kovalchuk was returning to the NHL this season after helping the Olympics Athletes from Russia win a gold medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics. It isn’t every day that a former 50-goal-scorer just decides to sign wherever he wants. Kovalchuk chose the Los Angeles Kings, which made it scary to think about Kovalchuk playing alongside Anze Kopitar. Yet, it hasn’t been that way. Kovalchuk has two goals and three assists in 10 games so far this season. Not to mention that the Kings are in last place. Hopefully, Kovalchuk can turn back the clock and we can see him light the lamp in LA more often this season.
3. Carolina Looks Nice
I’m aware that we are only through 1/8th of the NHL season, but the Hurricanes look great so far. After picking second in the draft last year, it looked like the Canes were in for a long rebuild. They do have what every rebuilding team wants in order to expedite the process: young prospects who produce while the top picks develop. Guys like Sabastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen have both looked great this season and have been aided by veterans like Justin Williams and Jordan Staal.
Is it doubtful that the Hurricanes stay consistently good all season? I would say yes. Although, it does show that their large crop of young talent will only improve over the next few years. The Hurricanes could be a playoff mainstay for the next half-decade if they keep trending the way they are right now.
4. The NHL Global Series: I’m Undecided
The NHL Global Series continues with games on Thursday and Friday this week between the Panthers and the Jets in Helsinki, Finland. As of right now, I’m not sure how I feel about the Global Series. I know I hate it when the NFL plays games overseas because it takes one of eight home games away from fans. Although, with 41 home games in the NHL, I don’t mind it as much.
I think it’s awesome for some of the players to engage with their fans overseas and for players from the surrounding region to be able to play games where they grew up. The travel is an issue. It’s in the league’s best interest to limit travel and keep the players as fresh as possible during the season. To the league’s credit, the did give both teams almost two weeks off in total before and after the two games will be played.
I’m curious to see what the players have to say about their trip to Finland and if it is something they enjoyed. Check back on Blake’s Takes in a few weeks after I decide how I feel about the Global Series. But again, it seems to be a way for the league to create a following in regions that it was not strong, thus creating more revenue!
5. John Tortorella is a National Treasure
John Tortorella is one of the more vocal coaches in the NHL. He doesn’t mind saying exactly what he is feeling at all times. In the latest episode of, “What Did Torts Say This Time?” Tortorella was quoted as saying:
“Conversations on the ice amongst opponents on a faceoff, it’s like a big hugfest sometimes. I don’t know if they have so many meetings with this NHLPA and all that stuff that goes on but there’s no hate and I miss that. It frustrates the shit out of me.”
Tortorella seemed frustrated with the lack of “hardness” from his team and wants them to play with more aggression. I don’t disagree with him. I like it more when it looks like my team hates the opposition and wants to destroy them. That’s why rivalry games are so popular; you know both teams hate each other. Obviously, back when there was no free agency, and players played almost their entire career with one team and consistently played against the same opponents, there was more tension with each game. You don’t see that much anymore because players switch teams so frequently.
But I don’t think Tortorella is wrong to want his players to play with more “hardness” and hate the other team. Good on you, Torts, for calling out your team. Let’s see how they respond. ■
Blake Isaacs is a die-hard Red Wings fan that doesn’t go to as many games as he should. He is also a big fan of 7-Eleven Slurpeees, Chipotle, and all things Michigan State. Follow him on Twitter @bisaacs1995.