Welcome to Week 2 of the still-way-too-early rankings, during 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 case you one way or the other 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 lifeless final, whereas Dom and Other Sean are extra of a snapshot of proper now. We’ll disagree typically, and after we do I’ll be proper, however for essentially 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 sluggish 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 not less than acquired their first victory of the season, so I believe the listing held up effectively. But there was one crew that I conspicuously didn’t listing as a result of I form of was already fearful 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, unhealthy goaltending and simmering panic. What it hadn’t featured till this weekend was a house recreation, and the Canucks lastly acquired that on Saturday in opposition to the Sabres. You most likely heard the way it went. Not great!
Afterward, we had Bruce Boudreau dropping reality bombs on his personal crew, 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 crew 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 crew that’s about to make a training change, proper?
Q on After Hours to Rutherford: Why is the crew so against a rebuild?
“Well, I think people have to realize how long rebuilds are.”
This feels such as you bringing your totaled automotive to a mechanic they only throw the spare tire on and say you do not understand how lengthy rebuilds take.
— Wyatt Arndt (@TheStanchion) October 23, 2022
It’s very unhealthy in Vancouver proper now, and whereas Boudreau has accurately identified that he went by means of one thing comparable with the 2015-16 Ducks and nonetheless received a division title, it’s exhausting to see that potential on this crew proper now. They’re again at dwelling tonight in opposition to the Hurricanes, which is an opportunity to finish the dropping 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 sluggish begins that I mentioned I wasn’t fearful 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 Wings — They’re one among solely 4 groups left with no regulation loss. They additionally had the simplest early schedule within the league, one which featured one respectable crew out of 5. They’ve acquired 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 Blackhawks — They’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 brazenly tackling guys throughout pregame warmup.
3. Dallas Stars — They have been a playoff crew final yr and appear like 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 crew from final yr, and so they misplaced that one to the Leafs (though it was with their backup goalie, and so they nonetheless earned a degree). They’ve acquired Boston, Washington and New York later this week, so I’ll have to vary my tune. But for now, I’m holding, not shopping for.
2. Buffalo Sabres — They simply rolled by means of Western Canada, the whole lot’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 listing them right here and in any other case let folks get pleasure from issues.
1. Philadelphia Flyers — Easy name right here, even earlier than they acquired shut out by the Sharks final night time, proper? I’m guessing that even Flyer followers aren’t going to be mad about this one, or not less than not any madder than they often 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 certainly they’re not flipping all the way in which over to chest-thumping primarily based on six video games. I do suppose we’ve seen some stable proof that the Flyers received’t be the trainwreck a whole lot of us have been anticipating, and if Carter Hart has rediscovered his recreation then they may even be a crew 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 perfect probabilities of profitable the Stanley Cup.
I’m making an attempt to check an NHL the place groups begin to embrace the NFL’s “F them picks” trend. The two leagues are very completely different in how they worth picks, and rightfully so given the timelines sometimes concerned, however because the Rams have proven us, it solely takes one crew to attempt it and have it work to remind everybody that flags fly eternally.
5. Pittsburgh Penguins (4-0-1, +15 true targets differential*) — You may make a case for the Rangers right here too, and I’m guessing their followers will just do that. But I’ve been impressed with the Penguins, an intriguing crew that spent its offseason doubling down on an ageing core. It seems to be like the appropriate name up to now, with Sidney Crosby in Hart mode to steer a buzzing offense. More importantly, Tristan Jarry has been implausible. How a lot you imagine in him with the ability to keep that manner most likely goes a good 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 purported to be the nice crew having its final dance however that began sluggish resulting from 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 bought on Linus Ullmark being this good, and that wobble in opposition to the Senators makes you surprise a bit. But this crew seems to be 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 attempt to not overreact to the short-term stuff, so we received’t panic a couple of pair of losses in Alberta. But if they’ll’t get again on observe tonight in Vancouver, that will likely 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 whole lot of groups will likely 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 may hold the captain out for at least 12 weeks. The long-term view continues to be rosy sufficient to maintain them on this spot, however it’s slightly bit much less so than final week.
*Goals differential with out counting shootout selections just like the NHL does for some cause.
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 crew 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 crew prefers a lighter October schedule as a result of that’s when the Cardinals take over the city’s sporting consideration, which I assume is smart, and their constructing was booked for a giant chunk of the previous few weeks. Still … one recreation?
They’re as much as three now, and all three have been wins. That consists of Saturday’s spectacular shutout win over the Oilers, which was an achingly boring efficiency in opposition to a crew 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 a very good shot at a very nice begin right here. I’m going to want to see that occur earlier than I give them severe top-five consideration, however on the very least they’re on their technique to proving a few of these middling preseason projections flawed.
The backside 5
The 5 groups which might be headed towards lifeless final, and the perfect 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 lifeless final on the listing earlier than Philipp Grubauer acquired harm. We’re saving a spot for Seattle on this listing, 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 crucial a part of the story, it’s been an ideal 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 may get a complete lot worse for a crew that’s already sporting a league-worst targets differential.
3. San Jose Sharks (2-6-0, -8) — The excellent news is that they acquired their first win, and it even got here in opposition to a very good crew within the Rangers. They’ve additionally had three losses by only one objective, so on the very least possibly the loser level fairy needs to be visiting extra usually. Still, the offense seems to be non-existent, and so they’re all however out of the playoff image already. Knowing that may be tough for a younger rebuilding crew, however it may be disastrous for a crew that’s nonetheless constructed round veterans who know there’s solely a lot time left. This may 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 essentially the most out of his group early on. Still, they’re unhealthy and their entrance workplace needs them to be, so we’ll get pleasure from it whereas we will.
At this fee, the Blackhawks are going to expire of items to drag off the Kyle Davidson cardboard standup within the locker room by mid-November.
— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) October 23, 2022
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 crew: They’re horrible, and so they’ve acquired 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, not less than till the playoffs arrived and the Avalanche flexed on them. I’ve a coverage: When I’m confirmed flawed a couple of crew one yr, I are likely to hold 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 unhealthy, and possibly you work he’s earned the good thing about the doubt there. Roman Josi definitely has, so possibly we ignore his terrible numbers. But up entrance, sluggish begins for everybody from Filip Forsberg to Matt Duchene to Ryan Johansen need to be worrying, particularly for the reason that latter two’s turnaround seasons have been a giant a part of final yr’s success.
The Columbus recreation was particularly unhealthy, as a 3-1 third-period lead changed into a 5-3 loss, and dropping to the Flyers at dwelling is rarely excellent news. It’s not just like the Predators have dropped out of the race, and actually, they’re nonetheless only one level out of a wild-card spot. But it already appears like we’re stepping into point-of-no-return territory, particularly with a troublesome schedule over the subsequent few weeks that brings the Blues, Capitals, Oilers and Flames. They’ve acquired 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, and so they certain want it.
(Top photograph of J.T. Miller: Matt Krohn / USA Today)