The all-Canadian division is as fun as advertised
Everyone knew before the NHL season started that the best thing about it would be the North Division. You can’t go wrong throwing the seven teams with the most passionate fan bases together and having them go at it for the next few months. The other promising thing about the division was its blend of potent offences and questionable defensive play, which suggested a lot of high-scoring games.
Two weeks into the season, the North is delivering. Here’s some of the good stuff about it:
It’s the highest-scoring division in the league — by a lot. North games are averaging 6.7 goals. That’s around a goal more than what the East, West and Central are producing.
Games are being decided the old-fashioned way. Only one of the 28 North games so far has gone to a shootout. Compare that to six in the East and three each in the West and Central.
The NHL’s top three scorers are all in the North. Connor McDavid leads the Art Ross race with 14 points, followed by his Oilers teammate (and reigning scoring champ) Leon Draisaitl and Toronto’s Mitch Marner with 13. Three more players from Canadian teams are in the top eight: Vancouver’s Quinn Hughes and Winnipeg teammates Nikolaj Ehlers and Mark Scheifele.
Montreal keeps proving people wrong. No one thought they deserved to be invited to the bubble last year, but the Habs shocked Pittsburgh in the qualifying round. This season, everyone figured their lack of scoring would doom them. But they’re second in the league with 4.71 goals per game and have the third-best record at 5-0-2. Montreal has scored an incredible five short-handed goals in seven games. For context, 15 teams’ power plays have not outscored the Habs’ penalty killers.
CBC Sports’ Rob Pizzo also loves the North Division, and he’s keeping tabs on it with a weekly video update. Watch the latest one here:
Canada’s speed skaters have unlocked the secret to life. Under-promise, over-deliver. That’s what they did by warning us not to expect any medals from them this season because they hadn’t had a chance to train properly… and then going out and racking up medal after medal. They grabbed five at last week’s season-opening meet in the Netherlands and added another two today. Ivanie Blondin, Isabelle Weidemann and Valérie Maltais won their second consecutive gold in the women’s team pursuit, while Ted-Jan Bloemen, Jordan Belchos and Connor Howe upgraded from last week’s bronze to silver in the men’s team pursuit. You can watch Canadians go for more podiums live Saturday from 5:30 a.m.-noon ET and Sunday from 2:40 a.m.-noon ET on CBCSports.ca and the CBC Sports app. The Road to the Olympic Games shows Saturday and Sunday on the CBC TV network also include speed skating. Check local listings for times.
Canadian tennis players are getting back on the court. With the Australian Open just over a week away and players’ quarantines ending, several warmup tournaments are about to get started in Melbourne. Rebecca Marino, who qualified for her first Grand Slam in eight years, plays her opening-round match at the Gippsland Trophy event this weekend. Bianca Andreescu and Leylah Annie Fernandez are in the Grampians Trophy, which starts Wednesday. On the men’s side, Denis Shapovalov and Milos Raonic are playing for Canada in the ATP Cup team event. They’ll face Novak Djokovic’s Serbia squad on Monday at 6 p.m. ET. Felix Auger-Aliassime and Vasek Pospisil are in separate tournaments that begin Monday. This is the first time since 2014 that at least seven Canadians are entered in the singles draws at a Grand Slam. Read more about their warmups for the Aussie Open here.
The National Women’s Hockey League lost a team. The Metropolitan Riveters dropped out of the NWHL bubble in Lake Placid, N.Y., yesterday after several team members tested positive for the coronavirus. That leaves five teams, including the Toronto Six. At our publish time, the league still hadn’t released a revised schedule for its regular season and playoff tournament, which are being held over a two-week span that ends next Friday with the Isobel Cup championship game. Today was a scheduled off day.
This weekend on CBC Sports
Live Olympic sports: Besides the speed skating event we already mentioned, you can watch World Cup competition in alpine skiing, ski cross, bobsleigh, cross-country skiing, nordic combined and snowboarding, plus the world championships for luge and men’s handball. All those are streaming on CBCSports.ca and the CBC Sports app. See the full schedule here.
Road to the Olympic Games: Saturday’s show features alpine, luge, freestyle skiing, speedskating, bobsleigh and skeleton. Stream it from noon-6 p.m. ET on CBCSports.ca and the CBC Sports app, or watch on the CBC TV network. Sunday’s show features ski cross and speed skating. Stream it from 1-3 p.m. ET or check local listings for TV times.
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