Surprises and Disappointments

Michael Finewax
Rotoworld
The Week Ahead looks at some surprises and disappointments from the first month of the season as well as notes from all 31 teams

Surprises and Disappointments

The Week Ahead looks at some surprises and disappointments from the first month of the season as well as notes from all 31 teams

As the NHL finishes its first month of the season and enters the second, there have been plenty of surprises and disappointments in the early going, including the surprising play of Montreal, Ottawa and Carolina as well as the disappointing start to the season for Los Angeles, Florida and Philadelphia.

Some surprises for players include Alex DeBrincat, Jonathan Toews, Kyle Palmieri and Zach Parise while the disappointments include Erik Karlsson, Ryan Strome and Pavel Zacha.

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Don’t forget, for everything NHL, check out Rotoworld's Player News, and follow @Rotoworld_ HK and @mfinewaxhockey on Twitter.

There is a lot of information to get to so let’s get started.

WEEK OF OCTOBER 29-NOVEMBER 4

4 Games – Buffalo, Calgary, Columbus, Ottawa, Tampa Bay

3 Games – Anaheim, Carolina, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Edmonton, Minnesota, Montreal, Nashville, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Jose, Toronto, Vancouver, Vegas

2 Games - Arizona, Boston, Colorado, Florida, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Washington, Winnipeg

Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Minnesota, New Jersey and Philadelphia play three games on the road.

Anaheim, Montreal, San Jose and Vancouver play three games at home.

INJURIES

Pekka Rinne is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury. (Click here to see the rest of the injury list.)

Note: A tired team is one that has played the day or night before and is going against a team that did not play the previous day or night. The reverse is true for a rested team.

ANAHEIM

Games this week

vs. Philadelphia, vs. New York Rangers, vs. Columbus

Rested Team: vs. Columbus (Sunday)

Tired Team: None

Notes

Patrick Eaves (concussion) and Ondrej Kase (shoulder) have yet to play this season but are on the Ducks current road trip. Jakob Silfverberg was placed on the injured reserve list with a non-displaced fractured finger. Nick Ritchie finally returned to action against Chicago Tuesday as he missed the start of the season as he had not signed his contract until a week ago. He lined up with Rickard Rakell and Ryan Getzlaf on the top line. The Ducks are getting good performances out of their young players like Sam Steel and Kiefer Sherwood. John Gibson continues to shine as one of the NHL’s top goalies as he is

ARIZONA

Games this week

vs. Ottawa, vs. Carolina

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

The Coyotes are in the midst of a five-game homestand. Jakob Chychrun has missed the whole season but has now been cleared for contact as he tries to return from a knee injury. He likely won’t play this week but could be back in the lineup the following week. Christian Fischer had the hat trick on Tuesday. It was the first of his career. Alex Galchenyuk finally played in his first regular season game for Arizona on Tuesday as he had been out with a lower-body injury. He played with Lawson Crouse and Clayton Keller and was held off the scoresheet but picked up his first point of the season Thursday as he had an assist.

BOSTON

Games this week

@ Carolina, @ Nashville

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

Zdeno Chara is showing some signs of his aging as he doesn’t see much action on the power play at the age of 41 but Thursday he scored twice to lead Boston to a 3-0 win over Philadelphia. Jaroslav Halak picked up the shutout as turned aside 26 shots. He has been terrific for the Bruins since signing in the off-season as he is 3-0-2 this year with a 1.43 GAA and a .945 save percentage. Tuukka Rask is 3-2-0 with a 3.41 GAA and a .901 save percentage and that is after stopping 38-of-39 Ottawa shots Tuesday.  Kevin Miller was placed on the injured reserve list with a hand injury. He will miss at least three weeks. Torey Krug is getting closer to returning from an ankle injury and could be inserted into the Boston lineup at some point this week.

BUFFALO

Games this week

vs. Calgary, @ Ottawa, vs. Ottawa, @ New York Rangers

Rested Team: vs. Calgary (Tuesday)

Tired Team: @ New York Rangers (Sunday)

Notes

The Sabres play four games this week including three games in four nights. I’m thinking that Linus Ullmark and Carter Hutton will split the net. Buffalo plays a home-and-home series against divisional rival Ottawa this week and if there are any fisticuffs, look for Zach Bogosian to get involved and add to his penalty minute totals. Jeff Skinner has been hot as he has four goals and eight points in his last three games to give him 10 points in 10 games thus far.  The trio of Skinner, Jack Eichel and Jason Pominville have combined for 17 points in the last three games. Patrik Berglund was a healthy scratch last week but after sitting one game, he was back in the lineup.

CALGARY

Games this week

@ Toronto, @ Buffalo, vs. Colorado, vs. Chicago

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Buffalo (Tuesday)

Notes

The Flames play three games in four nights as part of their four-game week. Mike Smith should see action in three games with David Rittich playing in the fourth contest. Rittich has been terrific this season with a 2-1 record to go with a 2.37 GAA and a .933 save percentage, certainly a lot better than Smith’s 3-4 record with a 4.10 GAA and .866 save percentage. Look for Rittich to get a chance to run with the job as he had started the previous two games. The Flames sent Juuso Valimaki, their first round pick in 2017, to the minors. Travis Hamonic returned to action on Thursday after suffering facial fractures in the Flames opening game.

CAROLINA

Games this week

vs. Boston, @ Arizona, @ Vegas

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Vegas (Saturday)

Notes

Scott Darling has finished his conditioning stint in the minors for Charlotte of the AHL as he is recovering from a lower-body injury suffered in training camp. He will battle Curtis McElhinney and Petr Mrazek for the starting job in net. Sebastian Aho has a nine-game points streak in which he has four goals and 14 points thus far. The Hurricanes dealt Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin to the Flames for Micheal Ferland and Dougie Hamilton and while Hamilton has struggled offensive with only three assists, Ferland has six goals and nine points in nine games. Andrei Svechnikov, the second pick in the 2018 Draft, has 10 penalty minutes to lead the Hurricanes.

CHICAGO

Games this week

@ Vancouver, @ Edmonton, @ Calgary

Rested Team: None                                       

Tired Team: @ Edmonton (Thursday)

Notes

The Blackhawks are in Western Canada all week and play three games in four nights. Corey Crawford should get a couple of starts with Cam Ward getting one start. Corey Crawford is back and has won three in a row after beating the Rangers Thursday. He has given up only three goals in the three wins. Crawford had been out since December with a concussion but certainly looks healthy at this time. Brandon Saad finally did something offensively as he scored his first two goals of the season Tuesday. Gustav Forsling was sent to the minors as he needed to get into game shape after he underwent off-season wrist surgery and was unable to play in the pre-season. He should be back with the Blackhawks before too long.       

COLORADO

Games this week

@ Calgary, @ Vancouver

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Vancouver (Friday)

Notes

Semyon Varlamov is off to a great start this season as he finally lost his first game in regulation Wednesday in a 1-0 loss to Tampa Bay. The netminder is 4-1-2 this season with a sensational 1.56 GAA and a .953 save percentage. Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MadKinnon saw their nine-game points streaks end Wednesday. Gabriel Landeskog was the NHL’s first star of the week with six goals and seven points in only three games. He is also a plus-12 this season in 10 contests. Mark Dano played in his first game in a Colorado uniform Wednesday and got into a tussle with Yanni Gourde. Nikita Zadorov leads the Avs in penalty minutes thus far with 13.

COLUMBUS       

Games this week

vs. Detroit, @ San Jose, @ Los Angeles, @ Anaheim

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Anaheim (Sunday)

Notes

The Blue Jackets play three games in four nights as part of a four-game week. Sergei Bobrovsky should get the call thrice with Joonas Korpisalo starting once. Bobrovsky is off to a slow start with a 2-4-0 record to go with a 3.87 GAA and a .872 save percentage. Korpisalo is a perfect 3-0 but with mediocre peripherals as well. The Blue Jackets received some good news this week as Seth Jones returned to the lineup for the first time since he was injured in training camp. He scored his first of the season Thursday. Josh Anderson leads the Blue Jackets in goals with five while UFA to be Artemi Panarin, has three goals and 12 points. Cam Atkinson has four goals and eight points in nine games but he has a minus-seven rating.            

DALLAS

Games this week

@ Montreal, @ Toronto, @ Washington

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

Jason Dickinson gave the Stars some much needed secondary scoring Thursday with a pair of goals and an assist to give him four points in seven games. The Stars have been led by their top line of Tyler Seguin, Alexander Radulov and Jamie Benn, although Radulov has missed the last three games with a lower-body injury. Justin Dowling has seen action on the top line in his spot and has an assist in two games. Ben Bishop has been strong in the Dallas cage as he is 4-3 with 2.32 GAA and a .923 save percentage. Jason Spezza continues to perform with eight points in nine games after a horrible 2017-18 campaign in which he had only 26 points in 78 games.

DETROIT

Games this week

@ Columbus, vs. New Jersey, vs. Edmonton

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

Mike Green is expected to make his seasonal debut on October 26 as he has missed the start of the season recovering from a virus. Jacob De La Rose is also expected to play after being picked up on waivers from Montreal. A cardiac issue as well as visa problems have prevented him from playing for the Red Wings thus far. Danny DeKeyser could return from a hand injury this week. Michael Rasmussen could stay with the Red Wings past his nine-game limit for burning a year from his entry-level contract. He has only one assist in eight games thus far and has to return to junior if Detroit sends him down. Anthony Mantha has a goal and two assists in nine games with a minus-12 rating.

EDMONTON

Games this week

vs. Minnesota, vs. Chicago, @ Detroit

Rested Team: vs. Minnesota (Tuesday), vs. Chicago (Thursday)

Tired Team: None

Notes   

The Oilers are 4-3-1 this season and the good news is that they have only played one game against a sub-.500 team, the Rangers. Cam Talbot has seen all the action this season with backup Mikko Kostinen waiting patiently. He should get a start soon. Connor McDavid is the best player in the NHL and has six goals and 14 points in eight games. Linemate Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is hot with 11 points thus far. You can’t go wrong playing alongside McDavid. Jesse Puljujarvi has been a disappointment with only one goal in seven games before he was a healthy scratch Thursday. Still, that is better than Ryan Strome who has zeros across the board in eight games. Defenseman Evan Bouchard scored his first career goal on Thursday and became the youngest Edmonton Oiler defenseman to ever score.

FLORIDA

Games this week

vs. Winnipeg, @ Winnipeg

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

The Panthers and the Jets travel off to Finland this week and play twice against the Jets. Look for Alex Petrovic to add to his penalty minute totals if there is any rough stuff. It will be a homecoming for Aleksander Barkov who hails from Finland. Evgenii Dadonov leads the Panthers with nine points, one better than Barkov, Vincent Trocheck and Keith Yandle. Roberto Luongo is still week-to-week with a knee injury according to coach Bob Boughner. Colton Sceviour saw second line action Wednesday with Trocheck and Jonathan Huberdeau as Mike Hoffman moved down to the third unit with Frank Vatrano and Jared McCann. James Reimer is 1-2-1 after his first win of the season on Wednesday.

LOS ANGELES

Games this week

vs. Philadelphia, vs. Columbus 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

The Kings have been one of the worst teams in the NHL thus far with a 2-7-1 start. Jack Campbell has both wins and Jonathan Quick has been awful with an 0-3-1 mark to go with a 4.55 GAA and a .845 save percentage. Anze Kopitar continues to struggle with only three goals and nary an assist in nine games. This is after a 35 goal, 92-point season last year. The Kings blueline has only two goals this season, one by Drew Doughty and the other by Paul LaDue. Tanner Pearson has yet to score in 10 games. I could go on and on with the rest of the team but you get the idea as to why they are so bad thus far. Dustin Brown is hoping to play on October 28 after missing the start of the season with a broken finger. He has been missed.

MINNESOTA

Games this week

@ Vancouver, @ Edmonton, @St. Louis

Rested Team: None

Tired Team:  @ Edmonton (Tuesday)

Notes

Devan Dubnyk has been great this season as he is 4-1-2 with a 1.95 GAA and a .946 save percentage. Matt Hendricks will start skating soon. He has missed the last three games with a leg injury. Zach Parise continues to shine this season with 11 points in nine games. Ryan Suter has two goals and nine points in nine games. Mikael Granlund has four goals and three assists in a six-game scoring streak after going pointless in his first three games. Eric Staal has struggled this season with only two goals and five points in nine games. Nino Niederreiter has only two assists in nine games while Jordan Greenway has just half of that.

MONTREAL

Games this week

vs. Dallas, vs. Washington, vs. Tampa Bay

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

Who are these guys? After most pundits thought the Canadiens would be a bottom-team this season, they are off to a great start with a 5-2-2 record and are led by Max Domi who has four goals and 10 points in nine games. Most thought that the Canadiens lost the deal for Alex Galchenyuk but Domi has been sensational thus far and has really come into his own in Montreal. Jesperi Kotkaniemi’s next game will be his 10th and look for the Canadiens to keep him and burn the first year of his entry-level contract. He has four assists in nine games and is still looking for his first NHL goal. Paul Byron has four goals and seven points and is headed for his third straight 20-goal season. Carey Price is 3-1-2 with a 2.48 GAA and a .906 save percentage, a lot better than last season’s disaster.

 NASHVILLE

vs. Vegas, @ Tampa Bay, vs. Boston

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

Viktor Arvidsson scored his seventh of the season Thursday and has goals in each of his last three games. He has 10 points in 10 games and looks in good shape to beat his career best 61 points, which he has done in each of his last two seasons. Filip Forsberg also has seven goals and has 11 points. Pekka Rinne’s undisclosed injury has had no effect on the Predators as Juuse Saros is 5-1-0 with a 2.47 GAA and a .918 save percentage. There is no need to rush Rinne back to action. The Predators have great offensive defensemen in P.K. Subban, Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis but it’s Mattias Ekholm who has the most points on the blueline with eight.

NEW JERSEY

Games this week

@ Tampa Bay, @ Detroit, @ New York Islanders

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

Kyle Palmieri started the season with seven goals in four games. He has not scored in his last three games but did have a three-assist performance Thursday and has 11 points in seven games. Cory Schneider is still on a rehab assignment in the minors and will play once again on October 26. He is trying to return from off-season hip surgery. The Devils could use him as they have not had a win in their last three games. Great news on the Brian Boyle front as he is in remission from cancer. Taylor Hall had a couple of assists Thursday and has 10 points this season. Pavel Zacha has yet to get a point in seven games this season. Damon Severson has two goals and six points in seven games.

NEW YORK ISLANDERS

Games this week

@ Pittsburgh, vs. Pittsburgh, vs. New Jersey 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

The Islanders play a home-and-home series with the Penguins and if there is any rough stuff, look for Matt Martin to be involved. Nick Leddy has yet to pick up a point in eight games this season after a 42 point effort last year. Brock Nelson is now a top-six forward, taking over a spot vacated by John Tavares when he left as a UFA. Jordan Eberle has moved up the depth chart and is playing alongside Mathew Barzal. Josh Bailey moved down to the second unit. Robin Lehner is 2-2-1 with a 2.67 GAA and a .926 save percentage. He has taken over from Thomas Greiss as the starter despite giving up 13 goals in his last four games.

NEW YORK RANGERS

Games this week

@ San Jose, @ Anaheim, vs. Buffalo

Rested Team: vs. Buffalo (Sunday)

Tired Team: None

 Notes

Adam McQuaid was injured on Thursday and that could pave the way for Tony DeAngelo to return to the lineup. Neal Pionk had a three-game points streak end on Thursday. He had six assists during the streak. The same goes for Mika Zibanejad who had four goals and seven points in three games before being held off the scoresheet Thursday. Alexandar Georgiev spent some time in the minors last week to get in some playing time and was rewarded with the start on Tuesday. He picked up his first win of the season giving up two goals on 38 shots. In his only other start of the season, he gave up seven goals to Carolina on 39 shots. Ryan Spooner has only one assist in nine games.

OTTAWA            

Games this week

@ Arizona, vs. Buffalo, @ Buffalo, vs. Tampa Bay

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

The Senators play four games this week including three games in four nights. Craig Anderson should get the start in goal on three occasions with Mike Condon playing once. The Senators play a home-and-home series with Buffalo and should there be any rough stuff, look for Mark Borowiecki to be in the middle of things. Mark Borowiecki picked up a one-game suspension for elbowing Urho Vaakanainen of Boston. Craig Anderson is 4-2-1 this season with a .915 save percentage despite a 3.14 GAA. Cody Ceci is expected to play on October 26 after missing four games with an upper body injury. Thomas Chabot has 10 points in eight games, making some (not a lot) of fans forget about Erik Karlsson. Nineteen-year-old Alex Formenton returned to the lineup Tuesday from a concussion.

PHILADELPHIA

Games this week

@ Anaheim, @ Los Angeles, @ San Jose

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

The Flyers are in California all week. They have been struggling of late and could turn to Michal Neuvirth as Brian Elliott has had a bad start to the season. Elliott is 2-5-0 this season with a 3.39 GAA and a .886 save percentage. Travis Konecny returned to the top line Thursday alongside Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier. They were a great line last season and need to recreate the magic this season. James van Riemsdyk is still sidelined but is expected to start skating in the next day or so. He should be out another two-three weeks with a lower body injury. Wayne Simmonds leads the Flyers with six goals. Jakob Voracek leads the Flyers with 12 points in 10 games. Scott Laughton has four goals and 16 penalty minutes in 10 games.

PITTSBURGH

Games this week

vs. New York Islanders, @ New York Islanders, vs. Toronto

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

The Penguins play a home-and-home series with the Islanders and as happens a lot of times in back-to-back games against the same opponents, tempers could flare. If they do, expect to see Jamie Oleksiak standing up for his teammates. Sidney Crosby had no goals and five assists in his first six games but has been great this past week with three goals and five points in his last two games. Evgeni Malkin has 12 helpers and 15 points this season. Matt Murray has won four of his five decisions with a .910 save percentage but he has a 3.37 GAA. Patric Hornqvist has four goals in his past two games after not finding the back of the net in his first six games.

ST. LOUIS

Games this week

vs. Vegas, vs. Minnesota

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

Jake Allen continues to be an anvil for fantasy owners as he is 2-3-3 with a 3.93 GAA and a .876 save percentage and he was pulled yet again Thursday after giving up four goals on 17 shots. The Blues are in trouble and had a closed-door meeting after their loss Thursday. Carl Gunnarsson was sent to the minors for a conditioning stint. He has yet to play this season. Robert Bortuzzo has a lower body injury and will miss at least three weeks. Robby Fabbri has been sent to the minors as he tries to return from a groin injury that has kept him out of action all season. Jaden Schwartz has only a goal and three points in seven games. Alex Pietrangelo picked up his first point of the season Saturday but still has only one in nine games.

SAN JOSE

Games this week

vs. New York Rangers, vs. Columbus, vs. Philadelphia

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

This week is the start of a four game home stand. Brent Burns leads the San Jose blueline with 10 points and that is five better than Erik Karlsson who is also a minus-seven in nine games this season. Timo Meier is off to a good start with five goals and eight points in nine games. Joe Thornton has been skating and could return to game action this week. If so, he will play alongside Meier and Logan Couture who is tied with Burns for the team lead in points. Tomas Hertl is also having a nice start with three goals and nine points. Melker Karlsson has yet to get a point in nine games this season. Evander Kane has four goals and nine points with 25 penalty minutes.

TAMPA BAY

Games this week

vs. New Jersey, vs. Nashville, @ Montreal, @ Ottawa

Rested team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

The Lightning play four games including three games in four nights. Andrei Vasilevskiy should play three times with Louis Domingue playing once. Vasilevskiy gave up five goals on 34 shots Saturday but still is 4-1-1 this season with a 1.80 GAA and a 2.16 save percentage. Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov were reunited Wednesday but have not played together a lot.  Stamkos has only a goal and four points in eight games while Kucherov has three goals and eight points. Yanni Gourde has four goals and eight point in eight games and leads the Lightning with three power play goals. Mikhail Sergachev has three assists in eight games.

TORONTO

Games this week

vs. Calgary, vs. Dallas, @ Pittsburgh 

Rested team:  None

Tired Team: None

Notes

Nazem Kadri scored his first of the season Wednesday. John Tavares scored Wednesday and it was his first goal in six games. After scoring 10 goals in his first six games, Auston Matthews has not scored in the last four contests. Kasperi Kapanen has nine points this season and has made a lot of fans forget about the need to have William Nylander in the lineup. Speaking of Nylander, he and the Maple Leafs are talking and it appears that he will eventually ink a bridge deal for a couple of seasons. Jake Gardiner is eligible for free agency next season and isn’t sure he will be back next season as there may not be enough money left for him.

VANCOUVER

Games this week

vs. Minnesota, vs. Chicago, vs. Colorado

Rested Team: vs. Colorad (Friday)

Tired Team: None

Notes

Elias Pettersson is close to returning to the lineup as he has been out with a concussion. Adam Gaudette picked up his first point in his NHL career. Brock Boeser is still out with a groin injury but could return as early as October 27. Alexander Edler may have a serious injury and could be out a while. He has five assists in 10 games thus far. Bo Horvat leads the Canucks with seven goals and nine points, one point better than Pettersson who has played six less games. Troy Stecher has a goal and five points from the blueline and has not picked up a point on the power play. Only five Canucks have points on the power play with Horvat, Pettersson and Sven Baertschi each getting two goals and two assists while Edler and Boeser each have three assists.

VEGAS

Games this week

@ Nashville, @ St. Louis, vs. Carolina

Rested Team: vs. Carolina (Saturday)

Tired Team: None

Notes

After starting the season at 1-4, Vegas has gone 3-0-1 in their last four games. They are not getting great performances out of so many players as Erik Haula has only a goal and an assist in nine games after scoring 29 goals last season. Tomas Nosek has only one goal after a great playoff in 2018 while Max Pacioretty has only two goals with no assists in nine games. It has not been a great start to the trade as Tomas Tatar, part of the return from Vegas to Montreal, has been scoring at a much higher pace with three goals and eight points in nine games. The Golden Knights have not had a goal from their blueline yet and only six assists in nine games. They need more production from their rearguards. The Golden Knights inked suspended defenseman Nate Schmidt to a six-year extension worth $35.7 million.

WASHINGTON

Games this week

@ Montreal, vs. Dallas

Rested team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

The Capitals continue to struggle in their own end as they have given up 33 goals in nine games and that includes a shutout in their opener. They have been scoring offensively as defenseman John Carlson leads the way with 14 points, one better than forwards Nicklas Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov. Andre Burakovsky got off the schneid Thursday with his first goal and point of the season. Commissioner Gary Bettman upheld the 20-game suspension of Tom Wilson for his illegal check to the head of Oskar Sundqvist of the Blues. Backstrom picked up the 600th assist of his NHL career Monday. Jakub Vrana has two goals and four points and is tied with Michal Kempny for the team lead with 12 penalty minutes.

WINNIPEG

Games this week

@ Florida, vs. Florida

Rested team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes

The Jets play a ‘home-and-home’ series in Finland against Florida and if there are any fisticuffs, Dustin Byfuglien should be involved to some extent. Coach Paul Maurice moved Patrik Laine to the top line Wednesday with Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler but that lasted only 40 minutes and Laine was replace by Nikolaj Ehlers who scored his first goal in 27 games. That includes the playoffs from last season.  Laine still has not scored in even-strength situations this season. He will be happy to be going home to Finland this week. Tyler Myers and Ben Chiarot lead the Jets with 24 penalty minutes. Ehlers has four points this season and is a team-worst minus-six.

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