The best 10 stories of the NHL season so far
Sidney Crosby is off to a flying start. Photo by Jason Franson/CP.

In the age of urgency, a new “crisis” is forever on the horizon.

We’re only two weeks into this NHL season and you may already have seen that term applied to developments in Vancouver, Minnesota, Long Island and Toronto — among others.

Now, some of the melodrama may prove to be justified – that Canucks blue line should not have anyone in the front office sleeping well – but realistically we’re still probably a month away from being able to credibly draw conclusions about where things are headed in 2022-23.

In the meantime, the dire headlines tend to drown out some of the more positive storylines and developments around the league. The old newspaper slogan “if it bleeds, it leads” also applies to modern-day sports coverage.

Well, let’s break from the mold – for one day anyway – and give stick taps to the 10 best NHL stories and surprises so far:

1. Sidney Crosby is still really freaking good.

The former face of the NHL is in his 18th season and has vaulted himself right back up among the scoring leaders. His per-60 shot and scoring rates remain extremely strong. And if he stays healthy he’ll likely climb to 15th on the NHL’s all-time points list by season’s end.

Incredibly, Crosby is now the 31st oldest skater remaining in the entire league, but he’s still one of its best. It’s no coincidence that his Pittsburgh Penguins are off to a good start, too.

2. Martin St-Louis remains the Cole Caufield whisperer.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a case where a coaching change so vastly altered one player’s fortunes. Caufield was flailing in his first NHL half-season until the Montreal Canadiens fired Dominique Ducharme and replaced him with St-Louis last February. Since that day, Caufield’s 22 goals scored at 5-on-5 trail only Johnny Gaudreau (23) and Auston Matthews (25) league-wide. That total includes all five he’s scored in seven games this season.

Chris Johnston's Inside the NHL Newsletter: Sign up for it here

3. Buffalo and Detroit appear to be advancing beyond the rebuilds.

Perpetual losing can suck the life out of even the best hockey cities. You’d be hard-pressed to find more real examples of that than with visits to Little Caesars Arena and KeyBank Center in recent years. However, there are signs the suffering is subsiding.

The Sabres ripped off three straight wins in Western Canada last week and have seen former No. 1 pick Rasmus Dahlin take a major step in the last 12 months. The Red Wings, meanwhile, only have one regulation loss so far and can finally roll out a second scoring line – boosted by the free-agent signings of Andrew Copp, David Perron and Dominik Kubalik. The playoffs are a lofty target for both franchises, but it’s not entirely out of the question.

David Perron has been an excellent addition to the Red Wings so far. Photo by Paul Sancya/AP.

4. The goalies are all right.

There is no position where you see more variance in performance and, yes, it’s still early but we’ve got a few early bounceback performers between the pipes. They include Philadelphia’s Carter Hart (.949 save percentage, 4-0-0 record), Boston’s Linus Ullmark (.936, 5-0-0) and Toronto’s Ilya Samsonov (.932, 4-1-0).

And how about Craig Anderson? The 41-year-old has won both of his starts for the Sabres while stopping 64 of 66 shots.

5. Shane Pinto is another beacon of hope for the Senators.

After missing most of last season following shoulder surgery, the 21-year-old forward is off to a hot start with five goals in six games. That’s particularly important in light of Wednesday’s announcement that Josh Norris will miss multiple months with his own shoulder issue.

The organization needs internal replacements. The Senators are on the upswing and recently sold out the Canadian Tire Centre for the first time in years. Pinto is one of many reasons they’re finally worth the price of admission again.

6. Chicago is not nearly as bad as we expected – at least not yet.

Six games does not a season make, but in a year where it looked like this team was going full tank mode, it’s pleasantly surprising to see it with four wins already.

You may remember the semi-awkward press conference moment before training camp where new head coach Luke Richardson said his intention was to make GM Kyle Davidson’s job more difficult by trying to win as much as possible, and so far he’s been true to his word. Full disclosure: We don’t expect it to last, but full credit for the effort.

7. The Bruins are winning without Bruce Cassidy. And Bruce Cassidy is winning without the Bruins.

The most shocking of all the head coaching changes over the summer was the Bruins' decision to fire Cassidy after watching his teams make the playoffs in six consecutive seasons while compiling a .672 points percentage.

Well, at least both parties in the breakup are thriving. Cassidy landed in Las Vegas, where he has the Golden Knights off to a 6-2-0 start. Meanwhile, Jim Montgomery’s Bruins are 6-1-0 and they’re about to welcome Brad Marchand back to the lineup following double hip surgery in the summer.

Brad Marchand's return should provide a major boost to the Bruins. Photo by Jeff Roberson/AP.

8. Nazem Kadri isn’t resting on his laurels.

When your short summer includes a Stanley Cup party and protracted free-agency search that ends with a $49-million contract – plus a European vacation – it’s fair to wonder how the following season will be impacted.

But Kadri has been all the Calgary Flames could have wanted and more so far, scoring a couple of highlight-reel goals while putting up nine points in six games. It will be a long time before we can fully judge the seven-year contract Kadri signed entering his age-32 season, but the relationship is off to a flying start.

9. The Chu Chu Train is still roaring in Colorado.

That would be Valeri Nichushkin, last seen being rolled out of Amalie Arena by teammates with the Stanley Cup and a boot on his right foot after playing through a break late in the playoffs.

Nichushkin signed an eight-year extension in the off-season and has seven goals in seven games to start the season – helping the defending champs weather the departures of Kadri and Andre Burakovsky, not to mention the loss of captain Gabriel Landeskog following knee surgery. The Avalanche are 4-2-1 and putting any concerns about a Cup hangover to rest.

10. The NHL’s department of player safety has been quiet. Extremely quiet.

Evgeny Kuznetsov is the only player to receive a suspension during the regular season. And while the Capitals forward probably deserved more than one game for a vicious high-stick on Kyle Burroughs, it’s hard to view the lack of league-wide discussion about supplemental discipline as anything but a positive.

The high level of skill on display in today’s game should trump violence.

NorthStar Bets editorial Insiders have no influence, direct or otherwise, over the setting of odds advertised on our platforms.