As the 2018-19 NHL season rolls on, we're starting to see some trends get established. Some are familiar, like the Philadelphia Flyers getting atrocious goaltending. Some of them are new, like the Carolina Hurricanes leading their division and being the living embodiment of joy in the NHL.
Here's a look at some of the early-season trends in the NHL and whether they're real or fake.
Goal scoring will continue at a historic clip
Through 98 games, the average goals per game for teams is 3.11. Were the NHL season to continue on that course, it would be the highest-scoring season since 1995-96 (3.14), the last gasp of firewagon hockey before the neutral zone trap suffocated it with a pillow. We're in a four-year trend with an increase in goal scoring, and that trend will continue, so this gets a REAL. It just won't be at 3.11 goals per game.
Goalies will continue to complain about gear
The NHL's restrictions on chest protectors, which measure the same but have alterations around the arms, have been the talk of the goalie community early this season because they're leaving netminders bruised and battered. Sergei Bobrovskysaid he's afraid of the puck because of them. Ben Bishop recently told me he's going to wear different gear in practice because "it hurts" to get hit with the puck with the new protectors on. But we're giving this one a FAKE, because if there's an eternal truth about goaltenders when their gear is altered, it's that gripes in October are rarely heard by March -- and that they can sometimes sneakily compensate for them.
Auston Matthews will lead the NHL in scoring
This depends on your definition of scoring. If we're talking goals, yeah, Matthews could very well win the Richard Trophy this season despite a push from David Pastrnak, Nathan MacKinnon, Alex Ovechkin and [double checks notes] Kyle Palmieri. In fact, there's a chance he could rise as high as 60 goals if he stays .
Last year's surprises, New Jersey and Colorado, are playoff teams
The Devils and Avalanche shocked the NHL by reversing their fortunes and making the Stanley Cup Playoff last season as bubble teams. This season, the Devils are off to a 4-1-0 start, and the Avs, who defeated Jersey on Thursday night, are 4-1-2. They're both using the same formula again: dominating top lines and goaltending good enough to win. We'll give this one a REAL. These are two teams that really gained confidence and an identity last season, and it's clearly carried over. Barring some level of catastrophic injury to their key players, there's a chance both Cinderellas get back to the ball.