The season is currently halfway through week four. In my previous post, the Canadiens, Sharks, Red Wings, Wild and Coyotes were off to hot starts. Meanwhile the Kings, Blue Jackets, Ducks, Oilers and Penguins looked dazed and confused. We have some new applicants in this week’s edition of Who’s Hot and Who’s Not.
- Montreal Canadiens (9-1-0, 18 pts) – The Canadiens just had their streak snapped by the Vancouver Canucks Wednesday night. However they still rattled off 9 consecutive to begin the season. The Canadiens have 4 more points than the second highest total in the league and have been rolling so far. They fell one game short of tying the record of consecutive wins to start the season. Montreal’s schedule is favorable in the next few games with the likes of Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg and Ottawa. Look for them to continue to their hot start.
- Los Angeles Kings (6-3-0, 12 pts) – Going from cellar dwellers to contenders in two weeks. They were atop the list of the “Nots” in the previous segment sitting at 0-3. Boy have things changed. The Kings scored two goals in their first three games, but have averaged 3 goals per game since. Not only have they started lighting the lamp, but they have won six straight and now sit atop the Pacific Division. The Kings were just toying with us at the beginning right?
- Dallas Stars (7-2-0, 14 pts) – Honorable Mention last go around, the Stars find themselves in the top five this week. Dallas is first in the Central Division, which is also known as the toughest division in hockey. The offseason additions of Patrick Sharp, Johnny Oduya and Antti Niemi seem to have the Stars firing on all cylinders. It doesn’t hurt that Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin have a combined 28 points between the two of them through 9 games. Is Dallas the real deal? Only time will tell if they can outpace the likes of the Hawks, Blues, Wild and Preds in the Central.
- Washington Capitals (6-1-0, 12 pts) – Evgeny Kuznetsov… get used to hearing that name. He is a solid young player with a bright future. Kuznetsov is leading the charge in Washington with 11 points through the Caps first 7 games. Offseason additions of T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams look like great pick-ups by Brian MacLellan this summer. Oshie is scoring at a point per game pace, while Williams is providing some experience on a line with Backstrom and Johansson. Washington has Pittsburgh, Columbus and Florida to round out this week.
- Chicago Blackhawks (6-3-0, 12 pts) – They don’t have Duncan Keith. They haven’t figured out who is replacing Brandon Saad on the Toews-Hossa line. They don’t have any defensive depth. They have all these new faces. Yet the Hawks are doing what they do best, which is win. They have won 4 straight. They have struggled to score but still manage to win. The core that has won three cups is still there and they continue to figure things out. Which if they are winning under these circumstances the rest of the league better worry if things finally click in Chicago.
Honorable Mention – New York Rangers (6-2-2, 14 pts), New York Islanders (6-2-1 13 pts), Nashville Predators (6-1-1, 13 pts), Minnesota Wild (6-2-1, 13 pts), St. Louis Blues (6-2-1, 13 pts)
- Anaheim Ducks (1-6-2, 4 pts) – In the Western Conference every game matters. The Ducks seem to be taking a different approach. They have lost all but one game so far, things don’t get better with Ryan Getzlaf being declared out the next two weeks. The big three of Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler have combined for a whopping 5 points to start the season. Bruce Boudreau’s seat is extremely hot in Anaheim. By the next installment of Who’s Hot and Who’s Not there might be a new man in charge in Anaheim.
- Calgary Flames (2-7-0, 4 pts) – Much like the Colorado Avalanche last year, the Flames haven’t built off of last season’s playoff berth. The trade vultures are circling Calgary, and changes might be made sooner rather than later. Johnny Hockey and Jiri Hudler have been the only bright spot to begin the season in Calgary. The Flames have only won two game and both happened to take overtime to accomplish. Calgary does have the benefit of being in the weaker of the two Western Conference divisions. They have time to right the ship, but it sounds like players may be walking the plank soon.
- Colorado Avalanche (2-5-1, 5 points) – The only team in the Central Division without a winning record. That isn’t going to change anytime soon either. The Avs continue to make two seasons ago look like a fluke. Two seasons ago Semyon Varlamov stood on his head with a .927 save percentage, 2.41 goals against and tallied 41 wins. His numbers have drastically dropped to a .869 save percentage, 3.93 goals against and he has managed only 1 win this season. It looks as though Reto Berra is a much better option in net. Granted the Avs defense leaves a lot to be desired, but they are going to need solid goaltending to turn this season around.
- Toronto Maple Leafs (1-5-2, 4 pts) – I don’t think anyone expected Mike Babcock to have a significant impact his first year in Toronto. However it’s not as if the Leafs have terrible players: van Riemsdyk, Rielly, Phaneuf, Lupul, Kadri, Komarov. They also have two decent goaltenders in Bernier and Reimer. It is all about culture in Toronto, and only time will tell if Babcock is the right fit. Their one silver lining is that they have played an extremely tough schedule so far this season. With 5 of their first 8 games on the road against the likes of Montreal, Pittsburgh, and Detroit. Things don’t get easier as their next ten games are against teams whose records are currently over .500.
- Edmonton Oilers (3-7-0, 6 pts) – The lone carry-over from last week’s not list. The Oilers still find themselves at the bottom of the league with 6 points. Still without Eberle, the Oilers have yet to figure things out. Connor McDavid however…. Yeesh. He struggled somewhat to begin the season but currently sits with 5 goals and 5 assists through ten games. Nail Yakupov and Taylor Hall have combined for 17 points, and Darnell Nurse looked good in his first game with the big club. Edmonton’s goaltending has been somewhat lackluster, which has been the case for a while now. The future is bright in Edmonton, but we’ve been saying that for a while now.
Dishonorable Mention – Columbus Blue Jackets (2-8-0, 4 pts), Carolina Hurricanes (3-6-0, 6 pts), Buffalo Sabres (3-6-0, 6 pts), Ottawa Senators (3-3-2, 8 pts)