Welcome to Week 2 of the still-way-too-early rankings, by which we attempt to kind by means of all of the noise of the primary few video games to determine in the event that they’re telling us something in any respect that’s helpful.

First issues first, in the event you by some means missed it then go try the Friday energy rankings, which dropped their first edition last week. It’s a pleasant counterpart to those rankings — we’re the long-term view, targeted on determining who’ll end first and who’ll come useless final, whereas Dom and Other Sean are extra of a snapshot of proper now. We’ll disagree typically, and once we do I’ll be proper, however for probably the most half, it’s two distinct views of 1 unpredictable league.

Speaking of predictions, in final week’s column I listed 5 groups off to gradual begins that I wasn’t all that worried about. Four of these 5 groups ran off a number of wins this week, and even Minnesota at the least bought their first victory of the season, so I feel the record held up nicely. But there was one staff that I conspicuously didn’t record as a result of I type of was already nervous even after two video games, and that was the 0-and-2 Canucks.

One week later, they’re now the 0-and-6 Canucks, and oh boy, we’re formally at a full-blown disaster in Vancouver. A few loser factors apart, it’s been six straight losses that includes blown leads, missed assignments, dangerous goaltending and simmering panic. What it hadn’t featured till this weekend was a house recreation, and the Canucks lastly bought that on Saturday in opposition to the Sabres. You in all probability heard the way it went. Not great!

Afterward, we had Bruce Boudreau dropping reality bombs on his personal staff, calling them “totally embarrassing” for placing up “very little effort.” Meanwhile, Jim Rutherford was on Hockey Night in Canada defending an offseason that steered the staff into win-now territory by claiming that rebuilds take a very long time and this isn’t fantasy hockey, and man does this ever really feel like a staff that’s about to make a training change, proper?

It’s very dangerous in Vancouver proper now, and whereas Boudreau has appropriately identified that he went by means of one thing comparable with the 2015-16 Ducks and nonetheless gained a division title, it’s onerous to see that potential on this staff proper now. They’re again at residence tonight in opposition to the Hurricanes, which is an opportunity to finish the shedding streak with an exclamation level. It’s additionally an opportunity to dig an unsightly gap even deeper.

All of this brings us to this week’s bonus high 5. Last week we did 5 groups having gradual begins that I mentioned I wasn’t nervous about. You know we have to flip that coin for Week 2 …

Top 5 groups I’m not shopping for fairly but

5. Detroit Red WingsThey’re certainly one of solely 4 groups left and not using a regulation loss. They additionally had the simplest early schedule within the league, one which featured one respectable staff out of 5. They’ve bought the Devils subsequent to proceed the development, however the Bruins are up after that, so we’ll see what these guys can do in opposition to a contender.

4. Chicago BlackhawksThey’ve been capable of string collectively three straight wins. Were any of the groups they beat good? No, they weren’t, however the Hawks aren’t good both, so let’s allow them to have their enjoyable whereas it lasts, earlier than Kyle Davidson begins overtly tackling guys throughout pregame warmup.

3. Dallas Stars They have been a playoff staff final yr and appear to be one once more, however I’m not shopping for them as a Central front-runner fairly but. You can solely play who the schedule provides you, however the Stars have solely confronted one 100-point staff from final yr, they usually misplaced that one to the Leafs (though it was with their backup goalie, they usually nonetheless earned a degree). They’ve bought Boston, Washington and New York later this week, so I could have to alter my tune. But for now, I’m holding, not shopping for.

2. Buffalo Sabres — They simply rolled by means of Western Canada, every part’s clicking, and the vibes are off the chart. There’s no fan base in sports activities that deserves some good instances greater than the Sabres, so I’ll simply quietly record them right here and in any other case let folks get pleasure from issues.


John Tortorella on the Flyers bench (Bruce Bennett / Getty Images)

1. Philadelphia FlyersEasy name right here, even earlier than they bought shut out by the Sharks final evening, proper? I’m guessing that even Flyer followers aren’t going to be mad about this one, or at the least not any madder than they normally are, which is to say nonetheless fairly mad. After all, they have been the most hopeless fan base in the league just some weeks in the past, so absolutely they’re not flipping all the way in which over to chest-thumping based mostly on six video games. I do assume we’ve seen some strong proof that the Flyers gained’t be the trainwreck a number of us have been anticipating, and if Carter Hart has rediscovered his recreation then they may even be a staff that stays on the perimeter of the playoff race till late within the yr whereas incomes John Tortorella some Jack Adams love. That nonetheless feels just like the ceiling, although.

On to the actual factor …


Road to the Cup

The 5 groups with the most effective probabilities of profitable the Stanley Cup.

I’m attempting to ascertain an NHL the place groups begin to embrace the NFL’s “F them picks” trend. The two leagues are very totally different in how they worth picks, and rightfully so given the timelines usually concerned, however because the Rams have proven us, it solely takes one staff to strive it and have it work to remind everybody that flags fly endlessly.

5. Pittsburgh Penguins (4-0-1, +15 true objectives differential*) — You might make a case for the Rangers right here too, and I’m guessing their followers will do exactly that. But I’ve been impressed with the Penguins, an intriguing staff that spent its offseason doubling down on an getting old core. It appears like the best name to this point, with Sidney Crosby in Hart mode to steer a buzzing offense. More importantly, Tristan Jarry has been incredible. How a lot you imagine in him with the ability to keep that approach in all probability goes a great distance towards how a lot you purchase this rating.

4. Boston Bruins (5-1-0, +7) — We had a pair of Atlantic groups in final week’s high 5, however each the Lightning and Panthers have been nudged apart. That clears room for the Bruins, who have been speculated to be the nice staff having its final dance however that began gradual as a consequence of all these accidents. Instead, they already look Cup-worthy, even with out Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy. I don’t know that I’m utterly offered on Linus Ullmark being this good, and that wobble in opposition to the Senators makes you surprise a bit. But this staff appears good, and the division doesn’t look as scary because it might need two weeks in the past.

3. Carolina Hurricanes (3-1-1, +5) — We strive to not overreact to the short-term stuff, so we gained’t panic a few pair of losses in Alberta. But if they’ll’t get again on monitor tonight in Vancouver, that can be regarding.

2. Calgary Flames (4-1-0, +2) — We’re nonetheless unsure what occurred in opposition to the Sabres, though it’s potential a number of groups can be saying that this yr. But Saturday’s showdown with the Hurricanes was a kind of way-too-early “this could be a Stanley Cup Final preview” video games, and the Flames took care of enterprise.

1. Colorado Avalanche (3-2-1, +3) — It’s been a tough begin in Colorado, with three losses together with to groups just like the Jets and Kraken. This week additionally introduced information of Gabriel Landeskog’s surgical procedure, which might maintain the captain out for at least 12 weeks. The long-term view remains to be rosy sufficient to maintain them on this spot, nevertheless it’s slightly bit much less so than final week.

*Goals differential with out counting shootout selections just like the NHL does for some motive.

Not ranked: St. Louis Blues Oh hey, look who determined to indicate up.

The Blues’ early schedule is downright bizarre; at one level, they have been sitting at only one recreation performed whereas different groups of their division have been as much as 5. You typically see that when a staff has a bizarre journey state of affairs or a brand new enviornment or no matter, however none of that applies to the Blues. One principle is that the staff prefers a lighter October schedule as a result of that’s when the Cardinals take over the city’s sporting consideration, which I suppose is smart, and their constructing was booked for a giant chunk of the previous couple of weeks. Still … one recreation?

They’re as much as three now, and all three have been wins. That contains Saturday’s spectacular shutout win over the Oilers, which was an achingly boring efficiency in opposition to a staff you’re not supposed to have the ability to do this in opposition to.

We’ll get a rematch on Wednesday, and we’ll see if the Blues can do it once more. First up are the Jets tonight, and with a soft-ish schedule after Edmonton, there’s shot at a very nice begin right here. I’m going to want to see that occur earlier than I give them critical top-five consideration, however on the very least they’re on their approach to proving a few of these middling preseason projections fallacious.


The backside 5

The 5 groups which are headed towards useless final, and the most effective lottery odds for Connor Bedard.

If you missed it, the goalie confidence ranking was interesting stuff. Also, a few of you appear slightly optimistic concerning the state of your goaltending, however that may simply be me. Congrats to the Kraken for rating useless final on the record earlier than Philipp Grubauer bought harm. We’re saving a spot for Seattle on this record, however competitors for spots is already powerful.

5. Montreal Canadiens (3-3-0, -2) — They’ve been feisty, and the younger items have seemed good. In a yr when wins and losses aren’t an important a part of the story, it’s been an awesome begin, and if it retains up they’ll make an early departure from a listing they figured to be on all yr lengthy.

4. Anaheim Ducks (1-4-1, -13) — They’ve misplaced 5 straight, together with yesterday’s blowout to the Red Wings. This week brings the Lightning, Knights and Maple Leafs, so it might get a complete lot worse for a staff that’s already sporting a league-worst objectives differential.

3. San Jose Sharks (2-6-0, -8) — The excellent news is that they bought their first win, and it even got here in opposition to staff within the Rangers. They’ve additionally had three losses by only one objective, so on the very least perhaps the loser level fairy must be visiting extra usually. Still, the offense appears non-existent, they usually’re all however out of the playoff image already. Knowing that may be tough for a younger rebuilding staff, however it may be disastrous for a staff that’s nonetheless constructed round veterans who know there’s solely a lot time left. This might get ugly. OK, this might get uglier.

2. Chicago Blackhawks (3-2-0, +1) — They’ve earned three straight wins and have been beginning to fire up some “Hey these guys are tougher to play against than we thought” stories. Deservedly so, if we’re being trustworthy, and kudos to Luke Richardson for getting probably the most out of his group early on. Still, they’re dangerous and their entrance workplace desires them to be, so we’ll get pleasure from it whereas we will.

1. Arizona Coyotes (1-4-0, -13) — Their three-game journey by means of Canada noticed them set off a national panic by beating the Maple Leafs, then get stomped by the Canadiens and Senators. So we all know two issues about this staff: They’re horrible, they usually’ve bought an A+ sense of comedic timing.

Not ranked: Nashville Predators I spent all final yr ready for the Predators to fade and it by no means occurred, at the least till the playoffs arrived and the Avalanche flexed on them. I’ve a coverage: When I’m confirmed fallacious a few staff one yr, I are likely to maintain any additional doubts to myself till it feels protected.

It’s getting near feeling protected in Nashville, the place the Predators began the season with these two wins in Europe over the Sharks however have 5 straight losses since they returned. They’ve been outscored 20-9 in these video games, and there are many causes for concern amongst key gamers. Juuse Saros has been dangerous, and perhaps you work he’s earned the good thing about the doubt there. Roman Josi actually has, so perhaps we ignore his terrible numbers. But up entrance, gradual begins for everybody from Filip Forsberg to Matt Duchene to Ryan Johansen need to be worrying, particularly because the latter two’s turnaround seasons have been a giant a part of final yr’s success.

The Columbus recreation was particularly dangerous, as a 3-1 third-period lead became a 5-3 loss, and shedding to the Flyers at residence is rarely excellent news. It’s not just like the Predators have dropped out of the race, and in reality, they’re nonetheless only one level out of a wild-card spot. But it already appears like we’re entering into point-of-no-return territory, particularly with a troublesome schedule over the following few weeks that brings the Blues, Capitals, Oilers and Flames. They’ve bought a number of days off so put together, with nothing on the schedule till Thursday, so there’s an opportunity for a reset right here, they usually positive want it.

(Top photograph of J.T. Miller: Matt Krohn / USA Today)



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