Photos by Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press via AP and Twitter/@GrittyNHL
Sometimes it's easy to forget how much can happen in a month.Mascots can take over an entire culture, supposedly garbage teams can completely flip the narrative and be slightly less garbage, goalies can get extra angry over a little bit of shrinkage, Cinderella can finally meet midnight, and Torts can provide that steamy verbal sizzle we all crave.A month can be an eternity in the NHL, and provides the perfect amount of time for the hockey-viewing population to gain a completely irrational and over-reactionary sense of what's going on in the league.
With that being said, here are the ten most important things we've learned during the first month of the season.Gritty Has Staying PowerThe most recognizable and talked about figure in the NHL today is a wobbly-ass mascot, which is obviously an indictment on the personality level of the league itself but also reflects how powerful the unmistakable Gritty brand has become.In just a little over a month, the enormous, googly-eyed beast has taken social media by storm with an all-time great Twitter and Instagram follower growth rate, hit the late-night circuit at all the major outlets, and even inspired some greasy ass tattoos. Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews, and Sidney Crosby have done exactly zero of those things. Take from that what you will.There's a New 'Best Player in the World' Every DayThe aforementioned trio may not be doing the work Gritty is doing on the publicity side of things with the non-hockey crowd, but the talking puckheads on TV and Hockey Twitter have made this Best Player in the World debate a thing through the early going of the season which has certainly been annoying and dumb.He has the quickest feet in the league, insane vision and hockey sense, can win a game by himself at any time and is currently outplaying every peer at his position. Yup, you guessed it, Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson is currently the best player in the world.Connor McDavid Is Hockey's Only One-Man Wrecking Crew
Oh, that other dude, McDavid, is also pretty good at playing hockey and keeps showing that not even a Peter Chiarelli-built roster can anchor down his absurd talent. The 21-year-old is essentially the closest thing you'll find in hockey to a one-man team, and he showed that right out of the gate when he notched points on Edmonton's first nine goals of the season, setting a new NHL record in the process.With 18 points in 11 October games, McDavid has been involved in 56 percent of the Oilers' offensive output so far while garnering primary points—either scoring or earning the first assist—on 44 percent of Edmonton's goals (both tops in the NHL). So, yeah, at this point that weird debate we just talked about is pretty settled I think.Vegas Is Finally Sucking Like They're Supposed ToAfter making everyone who thought they knew anything at all about hockey look like complete and utter morons, the Golden Knights are going through those expansion growing pains right now and we can now all just sit back and enjoy being right—even if we're like 13 months late.This time last season, Vegas was storming off to the greatest expansion start in pro sports history before finishing the season atop the Pacific Division and making it to the goddamn Stanley Cup Final. This season, the Golden Knights are sitting under .500 through 12 games and near the basement of their division. The hockey world is almost normal again. Actually, on second thought…
All of the Bad Teams Might Actually Be GoodFurthering the argument that we're all idiots are the hot starts some teams that really shouldn't be having hot starts are having. The New York Islanders, playing essentially cinder blocks on skates as their bottom two forward lines, are second in the Metro Division while the Carolina Hurricanes, who have a former Atlanta Thrashers GM in a very prominent front office role for some reason, are right there with them, too.The Canadiens have been good, and the Senators and Sabres at least decent, while the Oilers are back to not sucking. The Arizona Coyotes were expected to be, like, kind of OK this season, but actually look like they might be legit. A few of these teams will fall back to Earth at some point, but for now all of us preseason prediction experts can revert back to being our dumb, know-absolutely-nothing selves.Goalies Aren't Too Impressed with Gear ShrinkageThe NHL continued its war on goaltender equipment this season, shrinking the dimensions and slightly thinning out chest and shoulder protectors a year after it started streamlining to smaller leg pads and pants. The uptick in offense has continued like it has since 2015, while the increase in the number of angry goalies per 60 has continued to trend upwards, too.Braden Holtby, James Reimer, Sergei Bobrovsky, Connor Hellebuyck, and Brian Elliott, among others, have all complained of a massive increase in bruising since they started wearing the new chesties, but not even one single goalie has been murdered by a mid-game slapshot yet so I'm not all that sure what the complaining is about.
Auston Matthews Won't Break Gretzky's Scoring Record, After AllRemember that insanely hot start Auston Matthews got off to this year, the one where he buried a 10-spot in his first six games and was on pace for 135 goals? Well, it turns out that pace is pretty unsustainable. Who would've thought.Before being ruled out for at least a month with his latest shoulder ailment, Matthews was held scoreless in five straight contests and now sits at a measly 10 tallies in 11 games and won't even have a sniff at Gretzky's single-season scoring record of 92 goals. Absolutely pathetic on Matthews' part.We miss JagrWe know you're having a great time in your home country doing what all 46-year-old retirees do like riding zamboni's and chilling with super models and shit, but just know we all miss you and love you, Jaromir.I think about you and your flowing locks every single day. Hope you're well, sweet prince.Torts Still Knows How to Give a Good RantOur beloved Old School Hockey Man, Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella, has always brought the heat when it comes to rants and soundbites, and the legend was slinging some glorious words once again just a couple weeks into the new season, when he called today's game a "big hug-fest" and expressed his frustration over a lack of "hate" between players.It's sickening to him, and absolute vintage Torts. Refs Aren't Vocal and Hilarious Enough for Our LikingWhere you at, Wes? We need our fix.