Welcome to Week 2 of the still-way-too-early rankings, by which we attempt to type via 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, when you someway missed it then go take a look at 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, centered 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 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 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 checklist held up properly. But there was one group that I conspicuously didn’t checklist as a result of I sort 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 acquired that on Saturday towards the Sabres. You most likely heard the way it went. Not great!
Afterward, we had Bruce Boudreau dropping reality bombs on his personal group, 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 group 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 group that’s about to make a training change, proper?
Q on After Hours to Rutherford: Why is the group so against a rebuild?
“Well, I think people have to realize how long rebuilds are.”
This feels such as you bringing your totaled automobile to a mechanic they simply throw the spare tire on and say you do not notice how lengthy rebuilds take.
— Wyatt Arndt (@TheStanchion) October 23, 2022
It’s very dangerous in Vancouver proper now, and whereas Boudreau has appropriately identified that he went via one thing related with the 2015-16 Ducks and nonetheless gained a division title, it’s arduous to see that potential on this group proper now. They’re again at house tonight towards 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 sluggish 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 Wings — They’re considered one of solely 4 groups left with out a regulation loss. They additionally had the best early schedule within the league, one which featured one first rate group out of 5. They’ve acquired the Devils subsequent to proceed the pattern, however the Bruins are up after that, so we’ll see what these guys can do towards 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 overtly tackling guys throughout pregame warmup.
3. Dallas Stars — They have been a playoff group final yr and seem 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 group 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 could have to vary my tune. But for now, I’m holding, not shopping for.
2. Buffalo Sabres — They simply rolled via Western Canada, every thing’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 checklist them right here and in any other case let individuals take pleasure in issues.
1. Philadelphia Flyers — Easy name right here, even earlier than they acquired 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 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 based mostly on six video games. I do assume we’ve seen some strong proof that the Flyers gained’t be the trainwreck numerous us have been anticipating, and if Carter Hart has rediscovered his recreation then they might even be a group 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 true factor …
Road to the Cup
The 5 groups with the perfect probabilities of profitable the Stanley Cup.
I’m making an attempt 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 group to attempt it and have it work to remind everybody that flags fly perpetually.
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 group that spent its offseason doubling down on an getting older core. It seems to be like the best name thus far, with Sidney Crosby in Hart mode to guide a buzzing offense. More importantly, Tristan Jarry has been unbelievable. How a lot you consider in him having the ability to keep that manner most likely 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 presupposed to be the nice group 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 fully bought on Linus Ullmark being this good, and that wobble towards the Senators makes you marvel a bit. But this group seems to be good, and the division doesn’t look as scary because it may 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 gained’t panic a couple of pair of losses in Alberta. But if they will’t get again on monitor tonight in Vancouver, that might be regarding.
2. Calgary Flames (4-1-0, +2) — We’re nonetheless undecided what occurred towards the Sabres, though it’s doable numerous groups might 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, nevertheless it’s a little bit bit much less so than final week.
*Goals differential with out counting shootout choices just like the NHL does for some motive.
Not ranked: St. Louis Blues — Oh hey, look who determined to point out 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 group has a bizarre journey state of affairs or a brand new area or no matter, however none of that applies to the Blues. One idea is that the group 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 sensible, 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 towards a group you’re not supposed to have the ability to do this towards.
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 superb 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 approach to proving a few of these middling preseason projections mistaken.
The backside 5
The 5 groups which are 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 a little bit optimistic in regards to the state of your goaltending, however which may simply be me. Congrats to the Kraken for rating lifeless final on the checklist earlier than Philipp Grubauer acquired harm. We’re saving a spot for Seattle on this checklist, however competitors for spots is already powerful.
5. Montreal Canadiens (3-3-0, -2) — They’ve been feisty, and the younger items have regarded good. In a yr when wins and losses aren’t an important 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 an entire lot worse for a group 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 towards a superb group within the Rangers. They’ve additionally had three losses by only one purpose, so on the very least possibly the loser level fairy must be visiting extra typically. 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 group, however it may be disastrous for a group 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 probably the most out of his group early on. Still, they’re dangerous and their entrance workplace desires them to be, so we’ll take pleasure in it whereas we will.
At this price, the Blackhawks are going to expire of items to tug 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 via 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 group: 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 mistaken a couple of group one yr, I are inclined to hold any additional doubts to myself till it feels secure.
It’s getting near feeling secure 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 possibly you work he’s earned the good thing about the doubt there. Roman Josi actually has, so possibly we ignore his terrible numbers. But up entrance, sluggish begins for everybody from Filip Forsberg to Matt Duchene to Ryan Johansen must 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 was a 5-3 loss, and shedding to the Flyers at house 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 looks like we’re moving 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 just a few 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 positive want it.
(Top picture of J.T. Miller: Matt Krohn / USA Today)