Continuing to roll right along with the 2021-2022 NHL season, the home stretch of November is upon us. The one-month mark is now behind us. Fans are beginning to see tendencies and traits in clubs that will reveal if they will be contenders or pretenders. Playoff races will also begin to develop past the league’s Christmas break and into the new year. Full of shocks and surprises, the Anaheim Ducks remain in a tie for second place in the Pacific Division. Along with this, after returning to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 2000 two seasons ago, the Dallas Stars continue to struggle. The team has limped to just six wins in its first 15 games. Back with our weekly stock up, stock down article, let’s get into this week’s selections.
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Stock Up: Toronto Maple Leafs
The Maple Leafs are playing the best hockey out of anyone in the league right now. Catching fire since the start of the month, the team has won 10 of their last 11 games. Continuing to remain one of the most high-powered offensive clubs in the league, the trio of William Nylander, John Tavares, and the reigning Rocket Richard winner in Auston Matthews have combined to record 22 goals. However, the year’s story so far for Toronto has been their improved play on the defensive end and on special teams.
This season, they have given up just 2.39 goals per game, leading to a plus 15 goal differential over the last 11 games. Along with this, they rank both top five in power play and penalty kill percentage. Hardly impressive to Maple Leafs’ fans as they look for the group to exorcise their playoff demons over the last few years; if the team can continue their strong defensive play, it should bode well to help capture their first playoff series win in over 17 years.
Stock Down: Montreal Canadiens
Fresh off a magical run to the Stanley Cup Finals a year ago, it has been hardly smooth sailing for the Canadiens. Losers of their last four games, the team has struggled mightily to generate offense. They rank 31st in the NHL with just two goals averaged per game while ranking in the bottom five in the league in shots on goal and shooting percentage. Nick Suzuki leads the group with 14 points in 19 games. However, he has just four goals to tie for the top spot on the team.
Still struggling to fill the void left by Carey Price in net, both Jake Allen and Sam Montembeault have struggled in goal. The former has recorded just a .905 save percentage, while the latter has posted just a .892. After being touted by many as a potential Calder Trophy winner after recording 12 points in the playoffs last season, Cole Caufield has returned to the club after being sent to the AHL. Needing to find a spark on the offensive end, Dominque Ducharme’s team is beginning to sink quickly in the ultra-competitive Atlantic Division.
Stock Up: Boston Bruins
The Bruins were touted by many as a team to take a potential step back this season. They lost many key players in the offseason, including longtime center David Krejci and their Vezina caliber netminder in Tuukka Rask. Off to a slow start to begin the year, the group opened the year .500 with three wins in their first six games. Beginning to stack up wins over the last two weeks, Boston racked up wins over the Ottawa Senators, New Jersey Devils, and then Canadiens before their week off.
Still home to a veteran group of players with playoff experience and success, the group ranks first in the NHL in face-off percentage. They win just under 55 percent of their draws. This has led them to be one of the best puck possession teams in the league. With a top-line full of firepower and one of the most dangerous power plays in hockey, Bruce Cassidy‘s group will look to have Stanley Cup aspirations on their minds once again.
Stock Down: Vancouver Canucks
The Canucks have been unable to get anything going so far this season. Limping along to a seventh-place spot in the Pacific Division, the team has won just five of their first 17 games. Struggling to get any production from their star players, Vancouver has seen star forwards Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser combine for just 17 points. One of the worst defensive clubs across the league, they have been outscored 18-8 in the first period, leading them to allow over three goals per game.
Furthermore, the team also ranks dead last in penalty kill percentage in the NHL. Opposing teams have been able to score on 40 percent of their power play opportunities against the group. Now the Canucks are on a five-game losing streak. Additionally, it was reported earlier on in the week that team owner Francesco Aquilini met with Canucks general manager Jim Benning.
Stock Up: Philadelphia Flyers
The Flyers are currently sitting in the middle of the pack in the Metropolitan Division. They hold the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. Getting healthier up front, Kevin Hayes recently returned from offseason surgery. Excelling on the road, the team has amassed a 4-2-1 record away from Wells Fargo Arena this season. Although, they are still struggling on the offensive end to this point.
On the other end, the Flyers currently rank in the bottom half of the league in goals and shots per game. However, they have been bailed out by the exceptional play of young goaltender Carter Hart. The Everett Silvertips product ranks 15th in the NHL with a 2.25 goals-against average along with a .932 save percentage. This is also is happening as the 23-year-old faces the 14th most shots across the league.
Stock Down: Arizona Coyotes
The Coyotes entered the season with little to no expectations surrounding them. They sent out Oliver Ekman-Larsson and winger Conor Garland to the Canucks. The team looks destined to sit atop the draft lottery odds once again. The team will aim to win the race for Shane Wright. On pace to be one of the worst teams in NHL history, Arizona ranks last in the NHL in goals per game and goals allowed.
Furthermore, after shipping out star goalie Darcy Kuemper to the Colorado Avalanche, the group has enjoyed a revolving door of netminders in goal. Once again headed for another rebuild as they look to build around their young core of Clayton Keller, Jakob Chychrun, Nick Schmaltz, and Lawson Crouse; the team has lost four of their last five games to sit in the basement of the Central Division.
Follow Chris Gallagher on Twitter @ChrisGally06
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