NHL's first-quarter winners and losers include Rangers, Connor Bedard and Wild

The NHL hits the official quarter mark Tuesday night and it has been dizzying to watch.

The Boston Bruins were on pace to match last season's record-setting performance, even with a massive turnover that included the retirements of Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci. Now they can't seem to win, in a 1-3-1 funk that includes a 5-2 loss at the Columbus Blue Jackets.

That's the same Blue Jackets team that benched stars Patrik Laine and Johnny Gaudreau during a lengthy slump but has now won three of their last four with those two contributing.

The Detroit Red Wings started hot but cooled off, culminating with picking up only one point in Sweden. But they have won three in a row since returning and just won the Patrick Kane sweepstakes by signing him to a one-year deal.

Edmonton Oilers star Connor McDavid appeared to be slowed by an injury that cost him two games, then he reeled off nine points over his last two games.

Here are the winners and losers of the first quarter:


Quinn Hughes, Vancouver Canucks

He has been the best of the three Hughes brothers, becoming an early Norris Trophy co-favorite by leading all defensemen with eight goals and 33 points. He has helped the Canucks get into playoff position.

New York Rangers head coach Peter Laviolette speaks after a 7-4 win against the Boston Bruins that moved the Rangers into a tie for the league's best record.
New York Rangers head coach Peter Laviolette speaks after a 7-4 win against the Boston Bruins that moved the Rangers into a tie for the league's best record.

Peter Laviolette, New York Rangers

The first-year Rangers coach has the team tied for the NHL lead, despite being without injured defenseman Adam Fox recently. Alexis Lafreniere is having a breakout season under Laviolette and Artemi Panarin is on pace for his first 100-point season.

Pending free agents helping their cause

The list includes pending unrestricted free agents Sam Reinhart (Florida Panthers) and William Nylander (Toronto Maple Leafs) and restricted free agent Elias Pettersson (Canucks). All have at least 27 points.

Connor Bedard, Chicago Blackhawks

The generational prospect is performing as expected, leading rookies with 10 goals and 17 points. He has been fun to watch.

Zach Benson, Buffalo Sabres

He scored his first NHL goal with a spectacular move. That happened in his ninth game and then the Sabres gave him a 10th game, meaning he's sticking around this season and not being returned to junior hockey.

Los Angeles Kings on the road

They're a league-best 9-0. If they win on Dec. 5, they'll tie the NHL record for longest season-opening road winning streak, set by the 2006-07 Buffalo Sabres.


Minnesota Wild

They topped 100 points the past two seasons and are 5-10-4 this season, hurt by a league-worst penalty kill and the second-worst goals against per game. Some of their key players (one goal for Matt Boldy, two even-strength goals for Kirill Kaprizov) are off to slow starts, and their goaltenders' numbers are significantly lower. That's why coach Dean Evason was fired Monday and replaced by John Hynes.

Washington Capitals' power play

It's a league-worst 5.7%. It's struggling without Nicklas Backstrom, who's taking a leave of absence to address his health. The struggles also are why Alex Ovechkin, the record-holder in power play goals, has only five overall goals. That puts him behind the pace he needs to be on to break Wayne Gretzky's career goal record.

NHL's policy on theme nights

When the league said players couldn't wear special jerseys or equipment on theme nights, it was trying to avoid the bad publicity of some players refusing to wear Pride jerseys. But the NHL got bad publicity over its ban on Pride tape until reversing the decision after backlash. Likewise, there was bad publicity after Marc-Andre Fleury's agent, Allan Walsh, said the Wild goalie was told he couldn't wear a custom mask to honor his Indigenous wife on Native American Heritage Night. Fleury wore the mask in warmups and reports said he wasn't expected to be fined.

Ottawa Senators owner Michael Andlauer

He spent $950 million to purchase the team then was hit by two adverse league decisions. Shane Pinto was suspended for half a season for violating the rules on sports wagering. Then Ottawa was docked a first-round pick over the team's role in an invalidated trade well before Andlauer took over. General manager Pierre Dorion was soon out of a job.

San Jose Sharks on the road

They're a league-worst 0-9-0 and head out this week for a six-game trip. They're a long way from the record road losing streak, 38 games by the Senators in 1992-93.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NHL winners and losers: NY Rangers, Connor Bedard, Wild