There are usually a few surprises when the hockey season kicks off each year – players who seem to come from nowhere and suddenly look like world-beaters or even teams that are suddenly revitalized by a new coach or freshening up their roster.
When you look for the best ice hockey betting odds, it always helps if you have some idea of the teams that are performing best and the individuals that might be a surprise package for the rest of the season.
Read on as we explore the teams that we think have been surprise packages so far.
The Boston Bruins
The Boston Bruins were missing a lot of their big stars going into the season. It would be stupid to write the Bruins off but at this point, they are playing amazingly well and have only straight-up lost four games. At home, they haven’t lost any games.
David Pastrnak is proving to be a real threat and that’s no real surprise. Players like this in the team’s roster mean that it is really difficult to write the Bruins off altogether. Patrice Bergeron is still performing at a very high level, in spite of his advancing years, and the Bruins are really looking the part in a competitive division.
Kristen Shilton wrote for ESPN, “They were supposed to be too old. And too injured. And too past their prime. No way could this Bruins team run with the younger, faster Atlantic Division teams¾let alone the high-flying league at large.”
But the Bruins are still competitive. It’s a long season but with returning injured players, the Bruins could still have a big say in who finishes top of the division.
The Jets were sixth in the central division last season and there was even some unrest in the off-season. Blake Wheeler was even stripped of the captaincy of the team.
The Jets are currently second in the central division and Connor Hellebuyck is showing what a great keeper he is with his incredible skills. The backup is nowhere near as high quality but having someone in the form of Hellebuyck certainly helps.
Josh Morrissey is also having an amazing season, leading the team when it comes to points. The Winnipeg Jets could even improve as the season goes on, which is a scary thought for the teams they will be facing.
The Seattle Kraken
The Seattle Kraken are sitting in a playoff spot currently. At the same point last season, they had 13 points less. Adding André Burakovsky to their team has definitely made a huge impact.
Their offensive production has significantly improved, as they are averaging 3.6 goals per game or better. The squad depth is so much better than it was in their inaugural season, which gives them a lot more options.
They’ve definitely taken a few by surprise, especially considering the fact that the Kraken were only formed back in 2018.
New York Islanders
Though neighbouring New Jersey has had an impressive story, the Islanders have also made massive improvements that not a lot of people really saw coming.
The Islanders didn’t get the chance to add much to their roster in the off-season, which led to a lot of people predicting that they would struggle once again. However, somehow, they have managed to get to the point where they are third in their division.
When you watch them, you’ll see that one man is definitely a huge part of this. Ilya Sorokin is playing incredibly well and tending goal with all the quality that we have come to expect from him. Semyon Varlamov is also more than able as a deputy.
Zach Parise, at 38 years of age, is still managing to pull some great performances out of the bag, along with lots of his teammates that had been written off by some people in the media. This is going to be a really competitive division, so whether or not they will make the playoffs is hard to tell, but they’ve absolutely been a surprise package in our eyes, having been panned in the media.
There are always a few surprises when the season gets underway, and this year we definitely have a few fascinating stories to keep an eye on. This is one of the reasons why we love ice hockey, it just keeps surprising us. When it comes to playoff time this season, who knows where the four teams listed here will stand?
*The story was written by a guest contributor for GameOnHockey.ca