The opening of the NHL season is fertile ground for overreactions.
Look at the Toronto Maple Leafs. Head coach Sheldon Keefe overreacted to his team losing at home to the pride of ASU, the Arizona Coyotes, by calling out his elite players: “That’s the way it goes when those guys don’t make the difference that they can.”
He then overreacted to his own overreaction by walking back those comments after they became “a thing,” as they often do in Toronto. “I used some of the wrong words,” Keefe said, in the sense that he said them out loud.
Such is the start of the season. Proclamations are made and then quickly regretted. Hot takes are blast-chilled.
Just over a week into the 2022-23 NHL regular season, here are 10 first impressions that we judge to be absolutely delusional or harbingers of things to come.
John Tortorella will win the Jack Adams
Philadelphia sports are having a moment. The Phillies are nearing the World Series. The Eagles are undefeated. The Sixers don’t have Ben Simmons anymore.
And it turns out the Flyers might not be the pushover joke of a team many expected they would be this season, thanks to the coaching of John Tortorella, who has led them to an impressive 3-0-0 start.
The verdict: MODERATE OVERREACTION. This is why the Flyers plucked Tortorella from the ESPN studios: to make the team harder to play against. They’re delivering more hits and blocking more shots than they did last season. The Tortorella effect has bolstered Carter Hart‘s game, as he was third in the league in goals saved above expected (3.9) through three games. The Flyers are doing all of this without the services of Sean Couturier, who is trying to work back from an injury.
No one expects the Flyers to finish in a playoff seed, especially when they’re in the lower third of the league in shot attempt share and expected goals percentage. Then again, no one expected the Blue Jackets to improve by 32 points in the standings in Tortorella’s first full season in Columbus, when he won his second Jack Adams Award. It’s still not likely to happen, but if Philadelphia somehow makes the postseason with Torts behind the bench, there’s a high probability he makes it a Jack-Trick.